Home > Marked (House of Night #1)(5)

Marked (House of Night #1)(5)
Author: P. C. Cast

I wanted to scream how the hell would any of us know what my father was going to say, we haven't seen or heard from him for fourteen years! But I knew it wouldn't do any good, and it always just made her mad when I reminded her that John was not my "real" father. So I tried a different tactic—one I'd given up on three years ago.

"Mama, please. Can't you just not tell him? At least for a day or two? Just keep it between the two of us until we…I don't know…get used to it or something.” I held my breath.

"But what would I say? You can't even cover that thing up with makeup.” Her lips curled weirdly as she gave the crescent moon a nervous glance.

"Mom, I didn't mean that I'd stay here while we got used to it. I have to go; you know that." I had to pause while a huge cough made my shoulders shake. "The Tracker Marked me. I have to move to the House of Night or I'm just going to get sicker and sicker.” And then die, I tried to tell her with my eyes. I couldn't actually say the words. "I just want a couple of days before I have to deal with…" I broke off so I didn't have to say his name, this time purposefully making myself cough, which wasn't hard.

"What would I tell your father?”

I felt a rush of fear at the panic in her voice. Wasn't she the mom? Wasn't she supposed to have the answers instead of the questions?

"Just…just tell him that I'm spending the next couple days at Kayla's house because we have a big biology project due.”

I watched my mom's eyes change. The concern faded from them and was replaced by a hardness that I recognized all too well.

"So what you're saying is that you want me to lie to him.”

"No, Mom. What I'm saying is that I want you, for once, to put what I need before what he wants. I want you to be my mama. To help me pack and to drive with me to this new school because I'm scared and sick and I don't know if I can do it all by myself!" I finished in a rush, breathing hard and coughing into my hand.

"I wasn't aware that I had stopped being your mom," she said coldly.

She made me feel even more tired than Kayla had. I sighed. "I think that's the problem, Mom. You don't care enough to be aware of it. You haven't cared about anything but John since you married him.”

Her eyes narrowed at me. "I don't know how you can be so selfish. Don't you realize all that he's done for us? Because of him I quit that awful job at Dillards.

Because of him we don't have to worry about money and we have this big, beautiful house. Because of him we have security and a bright future.”

I'd heard these words so often I could have recited them with her. It was at this point in our non-conversations that I usually apologized and went back to my room.

But today I couldn't apologize. Today I was different. Everything was different.

"No, Mother. The truth is that because of him you haven't paid any attention to your kids for three years. Did you know that your oldest daughter has turned into a sneaky, spoiled slut who's screwed half of the football team? Do you know what nasty, bloody video games Kevin keeps hidden from you? No, of course you don't!

The two of them act happy and pretend to like John and the whole damn make-believe family thing, so you smile at them and pray for them and let them do whatever. And me? You think I'm the bad one because I don't pretend—because I'm honest. You know what? I'm so sick of my life that I'm glad the Tracker Marked me!

They call that vampyre school the House of Night, but it can't be any darker than this perfect home!" Before I could cry or scream I whirled around and stalked back to my bedroom, slamming the door behind me.

I hope they all drown.

Through the too thin walls I could hear her making a hysterical call to John.

There was no doubt that he'd rush home to deal with me. The Problem. Instead of sitting on the bed and crying like I was tempted to, I emptied the school crap out of my backpack. Like I'd need it where I was going? They probably don't even have normal classes. They probably have classes like Ripping Peoples Throats Out um and…and…Intro to How to See in the Dark Whatever.

No matter what my mom did or didn't do, I couldn't stay here. I had to leave.

So what did I need to take with me?

My two favorite pairs of jeans, besides what I had on. A couple of black T-shirts. I mean, what else do vampyres wear? Plus, they are slimming. I almost passed on my cute aqua-colored sparkly cami, but all that black was bound to make me more depressed…so I included it. Then I stuffed tons of bras and thongs and hair and makeup things into the side pouch. I almost left my stuffed animal, Otis the Shish (couldn't say fish when I was two), on my pillow, but…well…vampyre or not I didn't think I could sleep very well without him. So I tucked him gently into the damn backpack.

Then I heard the knock on my door, and its voice called me out of my room.

"What?" I yelled, and then I convulsed in a bout of nasty coughing.

"Zoey. Your mother and I need to speak with you.”

Great. Clearly they didn't drown.

I patted Otis the Shish. "Otis, this sucks." I squared my shoulders, coughed again, and went out to face the enemy.













At first glance my step-loser, John Heifer, appears to be an okay guy, even normal. (Yes, that's really his last name—and, sadly, it is also now my mom's last name. She's Mrs. Heifer. Can you believe it?) When he and my mom started dating I actually overheard some of my mom's friends calling him "handsome" and

"charming." At first. Of course now Mom has a whole new group of friends, ones Mr.

Handsome and Charming thinks are more appropriate than the group of fun single women she used to hang with.

I never liked him. Really. I'm not just saying that because I can't stand him now. From the first day I met him I saw only one thing—a fake. He fakes being a nice guy. He fakes being a good husband. He even fakes being a good father.

He looks like every other dad-age guy. He has dark hair, skinny chicken legs, and is getting a gut. His eyes are like his soul, a washed-out, cold, brownish color.

I walked into the family room to find him standing by the couch. My mother was crumpled near the end of it, clutching his hand. Her eyes were already red and watery. Great. She was going to play Hurt Hysterical Mother. It's an act she does well.

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