Chapter 5: Danger
"Have you lost your mind?" I demanded, staring at him, wide-eyed.
"No," he said seriously. "I'm completely serious, Jess, I'm not losing you just because of this."
"Jason, I am not going to drink your blood," I said, shaking my head. "That's absolutely insane. Do you have any idea what the vamps could do to me?" My head was whirling. Jason actually wanted me to drink from him and Imprint on him?! No way.
"Jess, come on, I know that you don't want to break up with me, and you know that I don't want to lose you. Why shouldn't we Imprint?"
"Because I could get in deep trouble for it!" I said, exasperated.
"What would they do?" he asked.
"I…I don't know," I said with a slight hesitation.
"You don't know the consequences, but you're scared?" he challenged. "What could they really do? Kick you out? Would your mentor do that to you?"
"Jason, I don't know," I said, rubbing at my head. I couldn't imagine that Prof Nolan would actually kick me out of the House of Night for Imprinting with Jason, but it wasn't a risk I was about to take. "I should go." I went to get up and he followed suit. He grasped my arm and pulled me close to him. Oddly, I started to cry. I don't know why I started to cry, I just did.
"Shhh," he soothed. "It's okay we'll get through this."
"I don't want to break up with you," I said through the tears. "But I have to."
With me still wrapped securely in his arms, he led me to my car.
"You need to get back to the House of Night before you're gone for too long; I know what will happen, I looked it up."
I nodded, he was right, but I clung to him for dear life. "I don't want to leave you."
"I understand," he soothed, stroking my hair, trying to calm me down.
He opened my car door for me, and gently pushed me inside. I opened the driver's door window, and he closed my car door. He leaned into the car, resting his arms on the frame of the window.
"Think about what I said, okay?"
I looked up into his eyes. I could see the desperation in them, and it made me realize how much he truly didn't want to lose me-and how much I didn't want to lose him.
"I will," I whispered, feeling close to tears again. He stuck his head in the window and kissed me. When he broke away from me, we just stared into each other's eyes. I was so reluctant to leave him, I felt like he was my only grip on sanity and the "real" world. He kissed my cheek once more before we said our goodbyes and I drove away.
For the entire way home, I wanted to cry. I don't even know why I wanted to cry, but I did. I felt as though I was going to lose him, I knew that I couldn't Imprint with him…that would be absolutely insane. But what else could I do?
As I pulled into the parking lot of the House of Night, I knew exactly what I needed to do, and I didn't like it. In fact, I hated it. But, deep down, I knew it was what had to be done.
I had to break off all ties with Jason. That was the clear truth and solution to this mess. I had to stay away from him. I walked through the corridors of the grounds that were lit with gaslights, and felt the pain deep in my heart at the realization of it.
I had known Jason for basically my entire life, and now I had to just shut him out. It pained me to think it, but it was really the only way.
I couldn't just be his friend; neither of us would be able to stand that. I couldn't Imprint with him; that was definitely out of the question. Though, it was tempting…not the blood drinking part…ick. But the idea of him and I being connected like that, it made me want to Imprint with him, but it couldn't happen. I wasn't going to risk Professor Nolan's trust as well as my place at the House of Night to stay with Jason. In this instance, my health and well-being was more important.
And asking Jason to wait until (if) I completed the Change was ridiculous. That wouldn't be fair to him or me. I couldn't just ask him to wait for me to go through the Change, because 1. That would be far too long, and 2. If I didn't make it through the Change it'd be even worse for him.
I didn't run into anyone on my way back to the dorm, so I let the tears fall freely. Imagining my life without Jason was killing me. It actually hurt inside to imagine hurting him that way. When I had told him I had to break up with him…he was so sure in his promise that we could make it work. He may not have directly said the words, but the tone of desperation in his voice told me everything I needed to know. He would do anything to ensure that we would stay together, regardless of what happened.
The pain in his eyes had wounded me when I had told him I had to break up with him. That had almost been too much for me to bear. How the hell was I going to manage ignoring him? I would have try.
I made my way back into the dorm, wiping at my wet cheeks. I didn't want to face any of the girls in the dorm and explain why I was crying. Luckily, as I opened the door to the dorm, no one was in there, and I went straight for Aphrodite and my room. Of course no one was around, classes were still in session. I glanced over at Aphrodite's bed, and noticed a blue smudge on her pillow. I figured she had just fallen asleep with her makeup on, it wouldn't surprise me.
Speaking of makeup, I went into the bathroom and washed away the thick concealer that covered my Mark. I did not need the concealer to clog my pores and cause me to break out.
I stared at myself in the mirror. My greenish eyes stared back at me expectantly, as if I was supposed to have an answer to all my problems.
I didn't know what to do. Well, I knew what I had to do, but I didn't know how to go about doing that just yet. How could I just start ignoring Jason?
I couldn't. The fact of the matter was that I couldn't just ignore him, no matter how hard I would try to. I couldn't just all of a sudden start ignoring him. That wasn't fair to him, and I doubted I'd be able to manage it. We had known each other forever, how could I just ignore him out of the blue?
I sighed, and stared at myself in the mirror. What was I going to do? In the back of my mind, I heard Aphrodite come in, but I didn't pay her any attention.
"Jess?" she asked; her voice was weak, something was wrong. I left the bathroom, and looked at her, questioning with my eyes what was wrong. With one look at her I could tell something was wrong, she looked pale, and sick looking.
"Shouldn't you be in class?" I asked.
"Can you get me some water?" she whispered.
I went to the fridge and opened a bottle of water for her. I handed it to her, and she took it with shaking hands. She took a few big gulps of water before shakily wiping her mouth with her hand and meeting my eyes.
"I had a vision," she said quietly.
"A vision?" I asked.
She nodded. "Nyx gifted me with the ability to see the future, but Neferet is under the impression that Nyx withdrew her gift…but I know what she didn't."
"What did you see?" I asked.
She took a deep breath. "I saw what happened to that human boy."
"Chris?" I asked, stomach lurching.
"No…his name was Brad."
I hesitated. "What happened to him?"
"They killed him," she whispered in horror.
"They?" I asked.
"They're terrible," she whispered, face clouding with disgust. "They're like fledgings…but horrible, they're disgusting. They have red marks, and right before they…they feed, their eyes glow red. It's terrifying." She shuddered at the memory. "I recognized some of them."
"The humans?" I asked.
"No," she said, disgust filling her tone again. "The…the…creatures."
"What?" I asked brilliantly.
"They…they were fledgings who didn't make it through the Change," she whispered. "I…I felt like I was one of them." Her hands were shaking and I felt bad for her. But, what she said next was what made my blood run cold. "Jess, that still isn't the worst part…they…they have your boyfriend."
Fear literally shook me. "They…they have Jason?"
She nodded shakily. "I saw him…with them…I didn't know it was him until he mentioned you, he was basically unconscious, I think…I think he was mumbling your name."
I shook with fear and pure dread. They had Jason. They must have just gotten him because we had just been together. Had that even been an hour ago? My head was spinning. They. Had. Jason.
"Where are they?" I whispered. "Aphrodite, I need to go find them. I need to go save him." My hands were shaking. Jason was in trouble.
She shook her head miserably. "I couldn't tell."
I literally felt my heart rate increase. "You don't know?"
She shook her head sadly. "I couldn't tell, but I'll help you find him. We'll go out tomorrow, it's Saturday so we don't have any class."
"Professor Nolan probably won't let me," I said. "She wanted me to let her know whenever I went out, and if I told her why I was going out…she thought I broke up with him today."
"If she asks, we can say that we're going shopping," she said simply.
A knock on our door made both of us jump. Aphrodite got up and went to it.
"Hello Aphrodite, I'm here for Jessica," Professor Nolan was on the other side of the door. Nervousness ate away at me, as I waited for her to tell me why she needed me. Had she heard what Aphrodite and I had been talking about? "Jessica, the detectives I told you about are here to question you."
How was I supposed to concentrate on the questions the detectives were going to answer me, when Jason's current predicament was eating away at my brain? I took a deep breath and got up off the bed. I waved bye to Aphrodite and followed Prof. Nolan out of our room.
"They've already asked Zoey their questions, I don't think your questioning will be very long," she said.
She led me to the library where two detectives were waiting. Neferet wasn't there. The kinder of the two, Detective Marx, gave me his business card and told me to call him if I needed anything, and not just things that had to do with this case, if I needed his help with anything else I should let him now.
The questions they asked weren't difficult. They just asked where I was the nights that Brad and Chris went missing, but then they got a call…about Jason. I tried to keep my face as neutral as possible while I heard Detective Marx talk to who I was sure was Jason's mom. Professor Nolan turned to look at me, as she knew what my boyfriend's name was, but I didn't meet her eyes. I felt like she'd know that I already knew that he had gone missing.
"Jessica, do you know anything about the disappearance of a boy named Jason Cast?" Detective Marx asked.
I widened my eyes at him and gasped. "Jason? He's missing?"
"Yes, we just got a call from his parents saying he hasn't come home," he said. "When and where was the last time you saw him?"
"Earlier tonight," I whispered, trying to make this sound as realistic as possible. "We…we met at the Starbucks at Utica Square. I left and came back here…I don't know where he could have gone." The tears that I heard in my own voice weren't fake at all. I literally felt like I was about to burst into tears at any second.
"How do you know him?" he asked.
"He's my boyfriend," I said without hesitation, and realized too late that I really shouldn't have.
"Soon to be ex-boyfriend," Prof Nolan said sternly. I looked at her sheepishly. Now she knew I hadn't broken it off with him. "Jessica, you're aware that relationships with humans are strictly off limits."
"I'm sorry, Professor Nolan, I tried to break up with him, I really did, but I couldn't. I'm working on it though."
After that, the two detectives left, asking me to let them know if I heard anything from him at all. I made a move to leave, but Professor Nolan held me back.
"Jessica, you really don't know anything about his disappearance, right?" she asked.
I shook my head. "I don't. I told the detectives everything I knew. The last time I saw him was when he said goodbye to me at my car."
She took a deep breath. "It won't look good that you were with him just before his disappearance."
"I don't want you to put yourself in danger," she cautioned. It made me think she knew more than she was letting on about what happened. "Jessica, I know that I won't be able to stop you from trying to find him." I looked away from her, unable to meet her eyes. "I could forbid you from leaving the House of Night, and you'd still find a way to sneak out and find him." I glanced back at her to see a smile tugging at her lips. She stood up and came over to me. "I will turn a blind eye this once."
"Why?" I couldn't help but ask.
She hesitated. "A few of the other professors and I have a feeling we know what is going on here, but we must remain quiet about it, I can't really tell you much more other than that…but it should give you as much of an explanation that you need."
I nodded in understanding-though I still wasn't completely sure I knew what she was talking about.
"Aphrodite and I may be going shopping tomorrow night," I said, adding extra emphasis on the word 'shopping'. "Is that alright with you?"
"I'm sure there are better deals tonight, Jessica," she said. I gasped as I read between the lines of what she was saying. She was trying to tell me that Jason may not make it to tomorrow night. "There is plenty of shops downtown by the old depot, across from the Centre for Performing Arts," she hinted.
"Thank you Professor Nolan, I'll be sure to check them out with Aphrodite," I said, nodding and letting her know with my eyes that I understood. I practically ran back to the dorm room I shared with Aphrodite and told her everything. She looked like she wanted to go to sleep, with how exhausted she looked, but she picked herself up off of her bed, put down her magazine and followed me out to my car.