Boundless Page 45

“Good things, I hope.”

She raises a perfectly defined eyebrow at me and her smile becomes something sassier. “For the most part,” she says.

“Hey, I gotta work,” Jeffrey says, and hops up. “Moroccan pizza?” he directs at Lucy.

“You know what I like,” she says.

He smiles, all sheepish, and goes off to the kitchen. Then it’s just me and the new girlfriend.

“Jeffrey told me you go to Stanford,” she says.

“Yep. Guilty as charged.”

“That’s hard-core,” she says. “I never liked school. I was so happy when I graduated.”

“Graduated?” I’m unable to keep the surprise out of my voice. “When did you graduate?”

“Two years ago,” she answers nonchalantly. She shudders. “I was so glad to get out of that hellhole.”

That would make her what, twenty?

“So, do you live around here?” I ask, while I ponder how weird it feels that my brother’s girlfriend is older than me.

“Yes and no,” she says. “My father owns a tattoo parlor on El Camino, and I like to hang out there, and the guys who work there have a pizza thing, so I come by here fairly often.”

“Wait, I thought Jeffrey said that your dad owned a club.”

“That too.” She smiles. “He has his fingers in a lot of pies.”

I’ve never understood that expression. It has always seemed vaguely disgusting to me.

“So there’s a tattoo parlor in Mountain View? I don’t think I remember that from when I lived here,” I say.

“He opened it few years ago,” she says. “Business is good. People are more open now to the idea of ink as a way of expressing themselves.”

I scan her for tattoos. She’s wearing a metallic-silver shirt/dress and black leggings, black boots, dangly silver earrings. No tattoos, though. She does have a very interesting ring, a silver snake with ruby eyes curled around her right index finger. There’s something about her that reminds me vaguely of Angela—maybe the eyeliner or the dark nail polish.

Jeffrey returns to the table and sits by her side, scans both of our faces before he asks, “So what were you talking about?”

“I was telling her about my dad’s tattoo shop,” Lucy says.

He looks at her adoringly. “That place is awesome.”

She nudges his shoulder. “Show her what you got.”

He shakes his head. “No.”

“You got a tattoo?” I say, my voice a little louder than usual.

“Show her,” Lucy urges.

He grunts and rolls up the sleeve of his shirt to reveal a line of Sanskrit characters circling his forearm.

“That is so hot,” Lucy says, and Jeffrey beams. “It says—”

“‘I control my destiny,’” I read off his skin, then close my eyes briefly. Whoops. She’s probably going to think it’s odd that I can read Sanskrit.

“The words were her idea,” Jeffrey says. “I’m saving up for some real art next time.”

“Next time?” I’m trying to stay calm here. No high school diploma and a bunch of ink already. Sweet.

“Yeah, I’m thinking a bird on my shoulder, like a hawk or something.”

“Maybe a raven,” she suggests.

I fake-check my watch. Time to retreat and recoup, figure out how to handle this. “You know, actually, I should go. I have finals coming up, and I have to seriously cram.” I slip out of the booth, extend my hand to Lucy. “It was great meeting you.”

“Likewise,” she says. Her hand in mine is cool and soft, perfectly manicured, and her mind is playful, full of a kind of gleeful mischief. She’s enjoying that she’s got me off balance.

I pull my hand away. “Walk me to my car?” I ask Jeffrey.

“I really shouldn’t—”

“It will take two minutes,” I insist.

We make our way down the street in silence until we reach my car. I turn to face him. Stay calm, I tell myself. Keep it cool. Don’t freak out on him yet.

He sees the look on my face. “Clara, don’t be mad.”

“You got a tattoo?”

“It’s fine.”

“God, I hate that word. This is anything but fine. You’re going to clubs, getting tattoos, drinking, and hanging out with an older girl.”

“She’s not that much older,” he protests.

“It’s illegal!” I am light years away from cool. I close my eyes and rub my forehead, take a breath, open them. “All right, Jeffrey, enough’s enough. You should come home now.”

“You haven’t listened to a thing I’ve told you, have you?” he says. “I was never home in Wyoming. Never.”

I stare at him wordlessly, stung by the idea that home wasn’t where we were. Where I was.

“I am home,” he says. “Here.”

I’m struck by the horrible feeling that I’ve lost him and that there’s no way for me to ever get him back. Not without Mom.

“Did you tell Lucy that you’re a …” My voice wavers. “T-person?”

His chin lifts. “I told her everything. It’s okay. I can trust her.”

I start screaming at him again—another epic fail in the keeping-it-cool department. “Didn’t you learn anything from Kimber?”

He shakes his head. “Lucy’s not like that. She’s good with the paranormal stuff. She accepts me for what I am. We even talk about religion sometimes. She’s so smart, and she’s read all these books … if you’d step off with the judgment, you’d see that she’s the perfect girl for me.”

“So she’s where you’re getting all this crap about there being no God and—”

“It’s not cr—”

“You are such a tool! This is reckless, even for you. You’re putting us all in danger. Don’t you get that? Don’t you understand that people could get hurt, maybe even killed, if you don’t keep what you are a secret?”

His eyes blaze in a way that reminds me of Dad.

“You’re not my mother,” he says.

“Don’t you think I know that? Mom would freak—”

“So quit trying to act like her,” he jabs at me. “I have to go back.”

He turns to go.

“Hey! We are not done talking about this!”

“It’s my life,” he roars at me. “For the last time, stay the hell out of it!”

Prev Next