Wisdom / Page 23

Page 23


I held my arm up in front of him, and we walked slowly down the alley. By the time we reached the snow bank, my heart hammered so loud in my ears, I could barely hear myself think.

My hand would’ve been trembling, but I stopped shaking. In the past month or so, I’d become incapable of it. Inside, my muscles felt rubbery, even though I knew they’d react like marble if I needed them to.

I reached forward and peeled back the jacket. I expected a corpse, but what I found scared the hell out of me. Bobby screamed behind me

A vampire jumped up, moving with the speed only we could master, and she nearly lunged at me before she saw who it was. Violet stared at me, her weird purple eyes wide and shocked. Her skin looked bluish from where it had pressed against the snow bank, and her clothes were dirty and wet.

“Why are you always bothering me?” Violet snapped. “Are you like stalking me or something?”

“No, I’m not stalking you,” I said. “I just saw you and I thought-” I didn’t want to admit what I’d thought, so I let it hang in the air.

“You know each other?” Bobby asked, once he got over the scare.

“Not really.” Violet tucked a strand of blond hair behind her ears and crossed her arms.

“What are you doing out here?” I asked.

“It’s not really any of your business, is it?” She glared at me for a moment but almost instantly lost her nerve. She turned away and pulled on her long jacket. “But I guess I better be on my way.”

“Do you even have anywhere to go?” I asked, and Violet swallowed hard. “Why were you sleeping outside, during the day?”

“I didn’t have anywhere to go, okay?” Her intense eyes met mine, and her lip quivered a bit. “I usually find somebody to take me home so I can crash with them, but the clubs have been dry lately. That damn serial killer is keeping people off the streets.”

“Yeah, he’s making it rough on all of us,” I muttered dryly.

“I already apologized about your friend,” Violet said, but she softened a little. I think she felt guilty about everything that had transpired between us before, and that counted for something.

“Why do you have to find people to crash with? Why don’t you have your own place?” I asked.

“I’m sixteen and I look sixteen!” She gestured to herself, and she had a point. Sometimes, she even looked younger than that. Her eyes had a strange innocence to them when she let down her guard. “I don’t have my social security card, so I can’t get a job, but even if I could, working part-time at Starbucks won’t pay the bills. Even when I do have money, nobody will rent me an apartment or a hotel room. I don’t even have a frickin driver’s license. What else am I supposed to do?”

I’d never thought about what it would be like for everyone else to be a vampire. I’d come into a rich family who take care of everything, from money to housing and phony social security cards. I couldn’t imagine how anyone else survived without them, especially someone that looked so young, like Violet.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta find somewhere new to sleep.” She started to walk past me.

“Wait,” I said, stopping her.

“What?” Violet asked, giving me an impatient look.

I didn’t want to leave Violet on the streets, but I couldn’t take her home. We didn’t really have the room for it, and even if we did, I didn’t trust her that much. Fortunately, I knew of someone that would know exactly what to do with wayward teenage vampires.

“Come on. I know a place you can stay,” I said.

“Really?” Violet asked.

“Yeah, really?” Bobby raised a skeptical eyebrow, probably afraid I would suggest our house.

“Yeah.” I nodded towards the entrance to V, and Violet scoffed.

“It’s closed. They close at 7 am and kick everyone out,” Violet said. “Trust me. I’ve tried staying in there.”

“Yeah, well, you don’t know the owner like I do.”

I walked over to the door, and even though they were dubious, both Violet and Bobby followed me. I pulled the keys out of my pocket. I often came over before Olivia got up, and she got sick of me calling and making her come down to let me in.

The door opened with a heavy push, and I held it so Violet and Bobby could walk past. The dim red light that normally lit the hallway was off, and I grabbed Bobby’s hand to help him through. We had to go down a steep staircase in total darkness, and I knew Bobby would break his neck, so I gave him a piggyback. It was the only way I could ensure he wouldn’t get hurt.

When we got down to the tunnel in the basement, I set him down and grabbed his hand to lead him through. To go to the club, we’d turn off to our right, but I didn’t want to go to the club, so I kept walking. Violet got confused and asked if I knew where I was going, but I’d done this a hundred times before.

Eventually, after weaving through the basement labyrinth, we reached the elevator in the center. The elevator was lit by fluorescent bulbs, making both Violet and I squint, but Bobby was relieved to be able to see again.

“So, are your eyes really purple?” Bobby asked as we rode up to Olivia’s suite. “Or is that a vampire thing?”

“No, it’s a me thing,” Violet sighed. “One in like a million people have violet eyes. My name was going to be Mischa, but when my mom saw my eyes, she changed it.”

“Oh,” he nodded.

“Elizabeth Taylor has violet eyes, I guess,” Violet said.

The elevator ride to the top of the building was rather long, and the awkward silence settled over us. Bobby started humming along with “The Girl From Ipanema” music that played through the speakers, and Violet stared up at the ceiling.

When the doors opened, I stepped out into Olivia’s luxurious penthouse. Bobby had been up here with me a few times before, but this was obviously all new to Violet. She whistled loudly and stepped over to the window to admire the view.

“This is a really nice place,” Violet commented, sounding awed.

“It’s nicer when it’s clean,” I said.

Olivia had a maid come up and clean twice a week, and today was clearly not her day. Pillows were all over, and one of them had been torn open, so white puffballs of stuffing littered the furniture. A few wine bottles were tossed about, meaning the party had been mostly the human persuasion, but that was just the way Olivia liked it.

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