Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 71)

She stood, and I rose, too.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I sighed.

She smiled a wistful smile. “It seems like a long time to you, doesn’t it?”

I nodded glumly.

“I’ll be there in the morning,” she promised, and then she walked to my side, touched the back of my hand lightly, and turned to walk away. I stared after her until she was gone.

I really did not want to go to class, and I thought about a little healthy ditching, but I decided it would be irresponsible. I knew that if I disappeared now, McKayla and the others would assume I’d gone with Edythe. And Edythe was worried about the time we’d spent together publicly… if things went wrong. I wasn’t going to think about what that would mean, or how painful it might be. I just worked out the ways I could make things safer for her. Which meant going to class.

I felt certain—and I thought she did, too—that tomorrow would change everything for us. She and I… if we were going to be together, we had to face this square on. We couldn’t keep trying to balance on this precarious edge of almost-together. We would fall to one side or the other, and it all depended on her. I was all in, before I’d even consciously chosen, and I was committed to seeing this through. Because there was nothing more terrifying to me, more painful, than the idea of never seeing her again.

It didn’t help my concentration so much that she wasn’t next to me in Biology. The tension and electricity were gone, but my mind was too wrapped around the idea of tomorrow to pay attention.

In Gym, McKayla seemed to have forgiven me. She said she hoped I had a good time in Seattle. I carefully explained that I’d canceled the trip due to truck issues.

She was suddenly sulky again. “Are you taking Edythe to the dance?”

“No. I told you I wasn’t going.”

“What are you doing, then?”

I lied cheerfully. “Laundry, and then I have to study for the Trig test or I’m going to fail.”

She frowned. “Is Edythe helping you ‘study’?”

I could hear the quotation marks she put around the last word.

“Don’t I wish,” I said, smiling. “She’s so much smarter than I am. But she’s gone away somewhere with her brother for the weekend.” It was funny how much easier than usual the lies were coming. Maybe because I was lying for someone else, and not for myself.

McKayla perked up. “Oh. You know, you could still come to the dance with us all. That would be cool. We’d all dance with you,” she promised.

The mental image of Jeremy’s face made my tone sharper than necessary.

“I’m not going to the dance, McKayla, okay?”

“Fine,” she snapped. “I was just offering.”

When Gym was finally over, I walked to the parking lot without enthusiasm. I wasn’t looking forward to walking home in the rain, but I couldn’t think of how she would have been able to get my truck. Then again, was anything impossible for her?

And there it was—parked in the same spot where she’d parked the Volvo this morning. I shook my head, amazed, as I opened the door and found the key in the ignition as promised.

There was a piece of white paper folded on my seat. I got in and closed the door before I opened it. Two words were written in her fancy calligraphy handwriting.

Be safe.

The sound of the truck roaring to life startled me, and I laughed at myself.

When I got home, the handle of the door was locked, the deadbolt unlocked, just as I’d left it this morning. Inside, I went straight to the laundry room. It looked just the same as I’d left it, too. I dug for my jeans and, after finding them, checked the pockets. Empty. Maybe I’d hung my key up after all, I thought, shaking my head.

Charlie was absentminded at dinner, worried over something at work, I guessed, or maybe a basketball game, or maybe he was just really enjoying his lasagna—it was hard to tell with Charlie.

“You know, Dad…,” I began, breaking into his reverie.

“What’s that, Beau?”

“I think you’re right about Seattle. I think I’ll wait until Jeremy or someone else can go with me.”

“Oh,” he said, surprised. “Oh, okay. So, do you want me to stay home?”

“No, Dad, don’t change your plans. I’ve got a hundred things to do… homework, laundry.… I need to go to the library and the grocery store. I’ll be in and out all day.… You go and have fun.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely, Dad. Besides, the freezer is getting dangerously low on fish—we’re down to a two, maybe three years’ supply.”

He smiled. “You’re sure easy to live with, Beau.”

“I could say the same thing about you,” I said, laughing. The sound of my laughter was off, but he didn’t seem to notice. I felt so guilty for deceiving him that I almost took Edythe’s advice and told him where I would be. Almost.

As I worked on the mindless chore of folding laundry, I wondered if, with this lie, I was choosing Edythe over my own father—after all, I was protecting her and leaving him to face… exactly what, I wasn’t sure. Would I just vanish? Would the police find some… piece of me? I knew I wasn’t able to process exactly how devastating that would be for him, that losing a child—even one he hadn’t seen much for the last decade—was a bigger tragedy than I was able to understand.

But if I told him I would be with Edythe, if I implicated her in whatever followed, how did that help Charlie? Would it make the loss more bearable if he had someone to blame? Or would it just put him in more danger? I remembered how Royal had glared at me today. I remembered Archie’s glittering black eyes, Eleanor’s arms, like long lines of steel, and Jessamine, who—for some reason I couldn’t define—was the most frightening of them all. Did I really want my father to know something that would make them feel threatened?


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