Blood Flesh Bone Trilogoy(3)

By: Juliet Vane

We passed several doors until we reached the end of the hall. I didn’t count them, but there had to be at least twenty, possibly thirty.

“This is your room,” she said, opening a door and leading me inside. “It’s the Rose Room. Just across the hall is one bathroom, and there are more restrooms down the hall. Make yourself comfortable. I thought I heard people talking downstairs, so the other musicians might be gathered in Kirsten’s room. You might want to go introduce yourself.” She walked to the closet and hung up my dresses. “Seems you’re fond of red,” she said with a little laugh.

“Uh, yes,” I said. Each dress was crimson. I’d picked them because crimson had been Chloe’s favorite color.

“Well, it does tend to look good on blonds,” she said. “Not so much on redheads like myself. Anyway, do you need anything else tonight?”

“No, this is great,” I said. “I appreciate you staying up to greet me, and I’m sorry again for being so late. I wanted to impress you from the start, and—”

“It’s okay. You already impressed me with your audition CD. You’ll do well here, Lissa. My phone number is listed on the notepad on your night stand for emergencies.”

“Do you stay here in the school, as well?” I asked.

“No, I have a home in Switchback and I sleep there. It helps me keep a balance of work and home life. But all the musicians and faculty board here on the premises.”

“Okay. Thanks again. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight. Oh,” she said, digging her fingers into the tiny pocket of her jacket. “Your key.”

It was a silver key attached to a thin black lanyard. I took it from her with another thank-you, and she walked down the hall, heels clacking softly on the tile.

I looked around my room. It seemed peaceful, and looked exactly like the photos in the brochure. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the same room from the brochure. It had the same blue-striped bedspread and cheerful, colorful rug. In the morning, I bet I would see Green Lake from my window.

I put away my things and wandered down the central staircase, for no other reason than to see the cherubs on the railing again. There was a hush to the building that wasn’t exactly comforting. Once I reached the front of the building, sounds of voices, music, and laughter reached my ears. They were coming from the north wing. I continued along, remembering the north wing from the map. The corridor turned to the left, and I followed another hallway down, listening to the music and laughter leading me along. I wondered if this was what the building sounded like back in the 1950s, only instead of Imagine Dragons playing, it was something like Buddy Holly or Elvis Presley.

I thought I heard footsteps behind me, but when I turned to look, nobody was there. The footsteps continued. Pipes, maybe? Or maybe someone was walking upstairs, and the sound echoed. Trying to shrug off the creepy vibe they brought on, I made my way toward the sounds of other people.

Light spilled from a wide door midway down the hall, and I rushed for it.

A group of four people, my age or slightly older, lounged in a large room, each of them holding a red plastic cup. One girl, her hair a rich brown color, sat in a wheelchair. She looked up when I stopped in the doorway, and waved me in. The movement of her arm caused a necklace of shimmering beads to glitter at her throat.

“Hey, I’m Kirsten,” she said.

“Lissa. I love the necklace.”

“Thanks.” She beamed.

I turned to the rest of the room. I was good at parties—parties were all I’d done for the past two years. While I might feel inadequate with my music, I at least knew how to join a room full of strangers. “Hey, everyone.”

A guy with light brown hair and mischievous green eyes patted the spot on the bed next to him. Good—it was a second invitation to join this party. A stamp of acceptance. I made my way over to him, trying not to be too obvious about admiring the way his biceps filled out the black t-shirt he wore.

The green-eyed guy said, “I’m Tyler, that’s Karl”—he pointed to a broad-shouldered, blond-haired guy, and then to a curvy girl with a head full of dark-blond curls— “and that’s Mariella.”