Wisdom / Page 37

Page 37

Bobby followed me over to the door, where the doorman let me in. I didn’t recognize him, but that was because it’d been too long since I’d visited Jane last. It’d been too long since I’d done anything real with Jane.

“Who should I tell Mr. Kress is calling?” The doorman had gone over to the desk to phone Jane’s dad. He had to check with him before he could buzz us up, and I really wasn’t sure if Mr. Kress would.

“Um, Alice Bonham. I’m a friend of Jane’s,” I said.

“I see.” The doorman gave me an odd look for a moment, then dialed up. “Mr. Kress, an Alice Bonham is here. She says she’s a-” He paused, apparently interrupted. “Very good, sir.” He hung up the phone and smiled. “Go on up. He’s been expecting you.”

“Thank you.” I smiled thinly at him and walked to the elevator.

“He’s been expecting you?” Bobby whispered as he hurried to keep up with me.

“Apparently.” I stepped inside the elevator and breathed deeply, trying to hide the nauseated feeling this was giving me. Going back to Jane’s apartment. Seeing her father.

“What does that mean?” Bobby asked, and I shrugged. “Does Jane’s dad like you?”

“I’m not really sure. Honestly, I don’t even know how much he liked Jane,” I said.

“Well, then, I’m sure this will go well.”

I’d been hoping that Jane’s father wouldn’t be home. That’d been part of the reason why I picked this time. Mr. Kress usually worked long hours at the office, so I figured he’d still be at work. I wanted to sneak out before Jack woke up and Milo came home from school, but avoiding Mr. Kress was part of it too.

I hadn’t even spoken to him or her stepmother at the funeral, and I kinda liked her stepmom Blythe. Even when we’d been close, I’d hated eating supper at Jane’s house. Dinner conversation felt so forced and stilted. There was something strangely terrifying about her father.

The housekeeper opened the apartment door before I had a chance to knock. She was new from the last time I’d been here, and I struggled to remember exactly how long it had been since I’d hung out with Jane at her place.

The apartment looked as grand as ever. It wasn’t very large, but it had an opulence to it. Everything in it looked lux and expensive, and I’d hated playing here as a kid because it was like playing in a museum. If I touched anything, I’m sure it would shatter, and incur the wrath of her father.

The housekeeper had led us into the entryway, and I heard the click of Blythe’s high heels on the wood floors. Jane had gotten her high fashion sense from her stepmother. Her real mother had died before Jane was even in kindergarten, and Blythe had done her best to raise her.

“Alice.” Blythe smiled when saw me, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. She stopped several feet in front of me and folded her hands over her stomach, almost as if she was afraid to move forward.

“Hello, Mrs. Kress,” I said, unsure of what other greeting would be appropriate.

“You look very well.” She smoothed a golden strand of hair back, and her eyes were red-rimmed underneath her makeup.

“Thanks.” My cheeks reddened with shame. I know Blythe was only referring to the changes that being a vampire had brought on, but I hated thinking that I looked good right now. I should be a wreck, not looking better than ever before.

“It’s been so long since we’ve seen you.” Her smile grew more pained as she spoke. “I saw you at the … at Jane’s funeral, but you didn’t stay long.”

“No, I, uh…” I floundered and trailed off completely. I had no good reason for why I’d skipped out early, so I just let it hang in the air.

“I’m sure you had other things to do,” Blythe said, and I lowered my eyes.

“What’s going on out there?” Mr. Kress bellowed from another room, his voice filled with gravel.

“Nathaniel, why don’t you come out here and talk to Alice yourself?” Blythe turned her head back when she yelled for him, and she fidgeted with one of the gold earrings she wore.

“I don’t want to disturb you,” I said quickly and held up my hand. “If you’re busy, I don’t need to bother you. I just wanted to see Jane’s room.”

“Jane’s room?” Mr. Kress rounded the corner and walked over to his wife. His tie had been loosened around his chubby neck, and he had a lowball glass in his hand filled with Scotch, the same way it had been every other time I’d seen him. “What do you want with that?”

“I wanted to have a look around.” I swallowed hard. “I was wondering if I could maybe take some of her pictures of us.”

“Take anything you want in there,” Mr. Kress said, gesturing with his glass so the alcohol sloshed around. “I don’t have use for any of it now.”

“Nathaniel,” Blythe chastised him quietly and pulled harder at her earring.

“It’s true.” He ignored his wife and turned his attention to Bobby, giving him a hard look with his steel gray eyes. “Who is this?”

“I’m Bobby. I was a friend of Jane’s.” Bobby held his hand out for Mr. Kress to shake it, but Mr. Kress just stared at him blankly, so Bobby dropped his hand.

“I didn’t know most of Jane’s friends,” Mr. Kress said, more to himself than us. “I didn’t know very much about what went on in her life. But I did know this is where she’d end up if she wasn’t careful, and Jane was never careful.”

“Nathaniel. Please.” Blythe put her hand in his arm, but he shook it off. She turned back to me, smiling that same sad smile. “Go ahead and have a look at her room, Alice. You can take anything that means something to you. I’m sure it would bring Jane happiness to know that you have it.”

“It won’t bring Jane anything, Blythe!” Mr. Kress snapped, and both Bobby and I shrunk back. “She’s dead! She doesn’t feel anything!”

“You know the way to Jane’s room,” Blythe said to me. She lowered his eyes and stepped to the side of the hall, so we could walk passed her.

“Thank you,” I mumbled and slid past her, staying as close to the wall as I could.

I wanted to run down to Jane’s room, the way we had has children and hid under the bed when her father started yelling. We’d lay under her princess bed with flashlights and tell each other stories about how we’d grow up and be rescued by princes and knights in shining armor. Only Jane’s had never come. Nobody ever rescued her.

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