Scout’s lip was still curled, but she nodded. “Fine. But if he destroys the school while we sleep, I’m blaming you.”

“I accept that blame,” I said, and waited until Sebastian moved over a little to unlock and open the vault door. Scout scooted inside, but I glanced back at Sebastian.

“If this is all a ploy—” I began, but he reached out and touched my chin.

“I told you we’d make a good team, and we do. Someday, maybe you can do a favor for me.”

Our eyes met for a brief but weirdly electric second. Then I turned away.

“And so it begins,” I muttered, and walked through the door, my skin still tingling where he’d touched me.

I spun the door’s flywheel and slid home the metal bar that locked it in place. I nearly jumped when I turned around and found Scout leaning against the wall and staring at me, arms crossed.


“Flirting much?”

“I wasn’t flirting.”

“He was.”

Yeah, probably so. But I didn’t have any more energy to deal with Sebastian Born today. I’d worry about him tomorrow. . . . 17

The St. Sophia’s alumnae who paid the rental fee for the Field Museum may have been wealthy, but they weren’t so wealthy that they could close down the museum for the entire day. That meant we had a full day of classes before we could head out to hang decorations. Although only a few of us were on the planning committee, everybody got dragged into the decorating. We had only a few hours between the closing of the museum and the start of the party, so we needed as many “St. Sophia’s Girls” as we could find to get things ready.

When classes were over, everyone hustled around, grabbing their dresses, makeup kits, and final party decorations. The school was in a mad rush.

Since I hadn’t had time to arrange anything else, I took Scout up on her offer to let me borrow her green dress. It may have cost a fortune—and I was still nervous about the putrescence issue—but it was better than wearing my St. Sophia’s uniform to Sneak, even if I didn’t have a date. I had no idea what she came up with, but she had a dress bag, too, when she met me in the common room for our trip downstairs.

The limos were all gone tonight, replaced by orange school buses that would ferry us over to the Field Museum. Scout and I got in line with everyone else, the two least excited girls in the pack.

At least she had a date.

St. Sophia’s was a boarding school, so it had been months since I’d been on a bus. There was no need to travel to school when you slept next door to it. Turned out, I hadn’t really missed much. The cool but dangerous girls still sat in the very back. The uncool girls sat in the front, and the middle was like a no-man’s-land of leftovers. It was a minefield.

The bus dropped everyone off in front of the Field Museum. We trudged inside. Honestly, I just wasn’t that excited. Not even considering the boy and magic troubles, I wasn’t much of a museum person. I loved to draw, but museums were usually quiet and stuffy, and I wasn’t one for walking around in silence staring at paintings. Don’t get me wrong—I liked the paintings—it was the atmosphere that sucked. Galleries should be loud, happy places, full of people talking about art and thinking about art and enjoying the experience. Instead, they felt more like libraries, where you were only supposed to whisper. That was not my cup of tea.

But when we arrived, I thought maybe I hadn’t given the Field Museum enough credit.

From the outside, the museum looked like a giant palace. It was a white stone rectangle building with huge columns in front. And the inside wasn’t bad, either. Scout and I took a minitour before getting down to the decorating. There was a giant open room in the middle of the first floor. It was two stories high and held the skeleton of an entire Tyrannosaurus rex. The rooms to the side held glass cases full of historical bits. Clothes, tools, jewelry, baskets, weapons, and everything else you could think of. There were rooms of Native American artifacts, Aztec pottery, and Egyptian sculptures.

The party was being held in the main room on the first floor. Half the space had been filled by round tables arranged by the rental company our wealthy alumnae had hired. One of the Montclare boys was playing DJ at the other end in front of a dance area.

When the decorations went up, this place was going to look unbelievable. At least, if you were at the dance with a date and were into that kind of romantic stuff. Me? I’d been dumped by someone who didn’t even have the guts to tell me I’d been dumped.

I wasn’t sure whether to be sad or angry. I opted for angry. It felt a lot better.

We spent an hour hanging up garland and black glittery decorations, although the rental company had done most of the hard work. They put huge black candelabra on the tables and hung a banner that read ST. SOPHIA’S SNEAK from one of the balconies. The stuff we’d made definitely added a cool “graveyard” vibe, but the alumnae had already gone all out.

When the decorations were done, we headed off to a couple of conference rooms to get ready. I wasn’t thrilled about changing clothes in front of everyone else, but everyone was so worried about their own hair and makeup that they hardly noticed anyone else was in the room.

Scout’s parents may be self-centered, but they knew how to pick out a dress. Luckily, we were about the same size so it fit like a glove. I paired it with some black heels, and Scout helped me pin my hair into a messy updo with lots of twisty tendrils falling around. Add some eyeliner, and I was done.

Scout surprised me, too. When she unzipped her own dress bag, I just about fell over. Inside it was a really simple, but totally beautiful, black dress. It was a sleeveless sheath that fell just below her knees, and had a heart-shaped neckline that was totally flattering. She wore bright yellow heels and some chunky jewelry, and put enough product in her hair that it did the porcupine/pincushion thing.

“You look like a Goth princess,” I told her.

“Oh, my God, I was going to say the same thing to you. You know, cheesy as this party is, we should totally get a picture of ourselves. Who knows when we’ll have time to dress up again?”

“So true,” I said, and pulled out my cell phone for a picture. I was playing with the dials to figure out how to get the flash to work, when genius struck me.

I froze, then looked at Scout.

“What?” Scout said, eyes wild. “Is there a Reaper in here?”

“I know how we can find out where Fayden is.”

She smiled a little, and nodded. “I knew that dress was going to work for you, Parker, I just knew it.”