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Jaxon winks at me and mouths, Text me later, before moving back into the passing horde.

I nod as I turn to embrace Macy, even going so far as to do the up-and-down tippy-toe/jump thing with her. And as she wraps me in a giant hug, I can’t help but be grateful for her. Can’t help but think just how much I’ve missed her, even though I didn’t know it until right this second.

“How are you? Are you okay? How are you feeling? You look good. What class do you have right now? Can you skip it? I’ve got about a gallon of Cherry Garcia ice cream squirreled away in my dad’s freezer—I’ve been stockpiling it for weeks, just waiting for you to come back!”

She pulls away and grins at me, then leans back in and hugs me again even more enthusiastically. “I’m so glad you’re back, Grace. I’ve missed you so much!”

“I’ve missed you, too, Mace,” I say as she finally lets me go. And because I have no idea which of her eight million questions/comments to start with, I say the first thing that pops into my head. “You changed your hair.”

“What? Oh yeah.” She grins at me as she runs a hand through her short pink pixie cut. “I did it a few weeks ago when I was missing you. Kind of an homage, you know?”

Of course it’s an homage, because she still thinks hot pink is my favorite color… “It looks fabulous,” I tell her. Because it does. And because she’s pretty much the greatest cousin and friend a girl could ever wish for.

“So what class do you have next?” she asks, tugging me across the foyer toward the staircase. “Because I think you should blow it off and come hang in the room with me.”

“Don’t you have a class now, too?”

“Yes, but it’s just a review for the midterm on Friday.” She waves a hand in the air. “I can skip it to hang with my favorite cousin.”

“Yeah, but your favorite cousin has art right now, and I don’t think I should skip it. I need to find out if there’s something I can do to make up for everything I missed.” I eye her ruefully. “I am not prepared to repeat my senior year.”

“If you ask me, you shouldn’t have to make up anything. I mean, hello. Saving the world should get you straight A’s, like, forever.”

I laugh, because it’s impossible not to when Macy is on a roll. And she is very definitely on a roll right now. “I wouldn’t exactly call it saving the world.”

“You got rid of Hudson, didn’t you? It’s close enough.”

My stomach tightens. That’s the thing. I don’t know if I got rid of Hudson or not. I don’t know if he’s dead or off plotting his next act of world domination or trapped somewhere in between the two. And until I do know, I feel really shady letting anyone think I did something that might have helped “save the world.”

For all I know, I made everything worse.

“I have no idea where Hudson is right now,” I confess eventually.

Her gaze widens, but she catches herself and plasters a smile back on her face. “He’s not here, and that’s good enough for me.” She hugs me again, a little less enthusiastically this time. “So what do you say? Cherry Garcia in the room?”

I glance at the new phone Jaxon gave me, note that I only have about fifteen minutes to make it to art at this point. And I do want to go, despite how tempting it is to crash in our room and have Macy fill me in on everything that’s happened.

“How about we compromise?” I say, shoving my phone back into my pocket. “I go to art, you go to your last class, and we meet back in the room at five for ice cream?”

She quirks one brow at me. “You’re going to show up, right? You’re not going to blow me off for the resident vampire in chief?”

I burst out laughing all over again, because of course I do. How can I not when Macy is at her ridiculous best? “I’m going to tell Jaxon you called him that.”

“Go ahead.” She rolls her eyes. “Just make sure you do it after Cherry Garcia. I have so much to catch you up on! Plus, I want to hear all about what it’s like to be a gargoyle!”

I sigh. “Yeah, me too.”

“Oh, right. Dad told me you were having memory issues.” Her face falls, but her frown lasts only a few seconds before she shrugs it off. “Fine, you can tell me all about what it was like to be reunited with your mate.” Her eyes take on a dreamy cast. “You’re so lucky to have found Jaxon so young. Most of us have to wait much longer.”

Mate. The word goes off like a gong inside me, reverberating into every corner of my being. I haven’t actually thought about it since I’ve been back. But now that Macy has brought it up, I have about a million questions surrounding it. I mean, I know Jaxon is my mate, but it’s always been a really abstract thing. I’d just learned the term before I became a gargoyle and hadn’t really had time to think about it before I ended up frozen in stone.

Because the idea of being so far behind the curve makes me uncomfortable, I decide to ignore the word—and my feelings about it—until I actually have time to talk to Macy and Jaxon. Or at least time to run to the library and look it up myself.

“I’ve got to go,” I tell Macy, and this time, I’m the one to hug her. “I’m going to be late for art as it is.”

“Okay, fine.” Her answering hug is as enthusiastic as always. “But I will be in the room—with ice cream—at exactly four fifty-nine. I expect you to be there.”

“Scout’s honor.” I hold my hand up in what I think is a close facsimile of the three-fingered pledge.

Macy isn’t impressed, though. She just shakes her head and laughs. “Don’t let Jaxon talk you into any shenanigans between now and then.”

“Shenanigans?” I repeat, because just when I think Macy can’t get more ridiculous—and fabulous—she does something to change my mind.

“You know exactly what I mean.” She lifts her brows up and down suggestively. “But if you want, I can spell it out for you in the middle of the foyer here. You shouldn’t let Jaxon take you up to his tower to have his—”

“Okay, I got it!” I tell her as my cheeks burn.

But she said the last loud enough to be heard halfway to Jaxon’s tower, and as a result, there are a whole lot of snickers going on around us. “Art. I’m going to art. Now.”

But as I make my way to my room to change and then hustle out the side door into the frigid March air, I can’t help but wonder if Jaxon’s even going to try to “shenanigan” me again. And what about my gargoyle is so against it.


Let’s All Play Find

the Homicidal


Art goes really well—Dr. MacCleary waives the first two assignments of the semester and gets me right to work on my third—a painting that reflects who I am inside. And since art has always been the thing that helps me figure out the world, it’s definitely an assignment I can get behind.

Normally, I’d spend a bunch of time planning out the composition and light source, but after an hour of sketching a bunch of nonsensical nothingness, I decide, Screw it. I pick up a brush and spend the last half an hour of class giving my subconscious free reign on the canvas. What it comes up with—for now—is a swirling dark-blue background that looks a lot like if Van Gogh and Kandinsky had a baby.

Not my usual style, but then neither is dating a vampire and turning into a gargoyle, so…I’m just going to go with it.

At one point, I need to wait and let some of the colors dry a bit, so I grab my laptop from my backpack and log in to my wireless-provider account and activate my new phone. Minutes later, dozens of texts flood my screen.

I frantically begin scrolling through the texts from Heather that start with “How’re you doing?” then move on to more concerned texts to a final, sad, “I hope you haven’t texted back cuz you’re so busy loving your new school. Just know I’m here if you ever need a friend. And I’d love a ping just to know you’re alive.”

I am officially the worst friend ever. My hands are shaking a little as I finally send a much-needed text to Heather.

Me: OMG I am soooooooo sorry.

Me: Long story. Lost my phone and Alaska shuts down in the winter

Me: Jut got a new one and I’m so sorry. FaceTime this week?

I don’t know what more I can say other than, The shitty friend award clearly goes to me. I hate that I can’t tell her the truth, but I hate the idea of losing her even more. I just hope she texts back when she sees my message.

I put my phone in my backpack and return to my painting, which I think is the beginning of a room or something.

Other than that, art is completely uneventful—and so is the walk back to my dorm room. Thankfully. I mean, yeah, people are still staring at me, but sometime in the last hour and a half, I’ve decided to take the screw-it approach to more than just my art. So when I pass a group of witches who don’t even bother to lower their voices as they talk about me—proof that mean girls really do exist everywhere—I just smile and blow them a kiss.

What do I have to be embarrassed about anyway?

I make it back to my dorm room by 4:31 and figure I’ll have ten minutes to start my “Find the Homicidal Maniac” to-do list before Macy gets back, but the second I open the door to our room, I get showered with a spray of confetti.

I shake off the colorful pieces of paper as I close the door behind me, but I’m smart enough to know I’m going to be pulling it out of my curls for the rest of the night—maybe even longer. And still, I can’t help grinning at Macy, who is already dressed in a purple tank top and her favorite pair of pajama pants—tie-dyed rainbow, of course. She’s cleared off her desk and covered it with a spare sheet (also rainbow), before setting up a smorgasbord of ice cream, Skittles, and Dr Peppers with licorice straws.

“I figured, if we were going to celebrate your return, we were going to do it in style,” she tells me with a wink, right before she hits play on her phone and Harry Styles’s “Watermelon Sugar” fills the room.