I handed her the bottle. "Don't forget."
Laurel started to turn away and then cast another uneasy glance at me. "You know, you can be scary as hell sometimes."
I wondered if the Alchemists had had any idea what I'd be doing when it came to this job. At least this settled one thing. Laurel's desperation convinced me the vampire jokes had only been a tactic. She didn't really believe any of them were true. It did, however, raise the unnerving question about who had asked about vampires at Nevermore.
When I was finally out of the building and heading toward my car, I decided I really would go to Keith's. Someone needed to sort through his belongings, and it seemed like a safe way to avoid the others. I still had a couple of hours before curfew at Amberwood.
Keith's apartment hadn't been disturbed since the Alchemists had raided it. The telltale signs from before were there, where we'd discovered his stash of Clarence's blood and silver supplies. The Alchemists had done little more than retrieve the essentials they needed and had left the rest of his belongings behind. My hope in coming tonight had been to get ahold of his other ingredients, the ones not used to manufacture illicit tattoos. It was always handy to have extra amounts of those chemicals on hand, be it for destroying Strigoi bodies or making dorm room chemistry experiments.
No such luck. Even if his other supplies hadn't been illegal, the Alchemists had apparently decided to confiscate all chemicals and ingredients. Since I was here, though, I decided to see if any of his other possessions were items that would be of use to me. Keith certainly hadn't held back in using his illicit funds to furnish the apartment with every comfort of home. Scratch that. I doubted his home had anything like this: a California-king-sized bed, giant flatscreen TV, a theater-worthy sound system, and enough food to throw parties every night for the next month. I peered through cupboard after cupboard, appalled at how much of that food was junk food. Still, maybe it'd be worth taking some of it back for Jill and Eddie, so I bagged up the more portable sweets for them, organizing by color and size.
I wondered also about the practicality of hauling the TV back to Amberwood. It seemed like a waste to leave it for the Alchemists' repo crew, though I could already imagine Mrs. Weathers's expression if she saw us dragging it up the stairs. I wasn't even sure Jill and I had a wall big enough to hold it. I sat down in Keith's recliner to ponder the TV issue. Even the recliner was top of the line. The luxurious leather felt like butter, and I practically sank into the cushions. Too bad there was no room for it in Ms. Terwilliger's room. I could see her relaxing back in it while drinking cappuccino and reading old documents.
Well, whatever became of the rest of Keith's stuff, it was going to require the rental of a moving truck because Latte certainly couldn't handle the TV, chair, or most of the other things. Once this was decided, there was no reason for me to stay any longer tonight, but I hated to go back. I was afraid of seeing Jill. There was no reaction of hers I welcomed. If she was still sad from the argument, that would make me feel guilty. If she tried to defend Adrian, that would upset me too.
I sighed. This chair was so ridiculously comfortable, I might as well enjoy it a little longer. I dug into my messenger bag, looking for homework, and remembered the yearbooks. Kelly Hayes. I'd had almost no time to think about her or the murders, not with all the drama surrounding Keith and the tattoos. Kelly had been a junior when she died, and I had a yearbook for each of her years at Amberwood.
Even as a freshman, Kelly took lots of space in the yearbook. I remembered Mrs. Weathers saying Kelly was a good athlete. No kidding. Kelly had participated in nearly every sport Amberwood offered and been exceptional at all of them. She'd made varsity teams during her first year and won all sorts of awards. One thing I also immediately discovered was that Kelly was definitely not a Moroi. That much was obvious, even in black and white, and confirmed in the sophomore-year color spread in the middle. She had a very human build and tanned skin that clearly loved the sun.
I was skimming the index of the junior yearbook when I heard a knock at the door. For a moment, I didn't want to answer. For all I knew, it was some loser friend Keith had made while here, looking to eat his food and watch TV. Then I worried it could be something Alchemist related. I found the Kelly tribute section I'd been seeking and set the yearbook down before tentatively approaching the door. Looking out the peephole, I caught sight of a familiar face.
"Lee?" I asked, opening the door.
He gave me a sheepish smile. "Hey. Sorry to bug you here."
"What are you doing here?" I exclaimed, beckoning him inside. "Why aren't you back with the others?"
He followed me into the living room. "I - I needed to talk to you. When you said you were coming here, it made me wonder if what my father had said was true. That Keith isn't here anymore?"
I sat back down on the recliner. Lee took a spot on the nearby loveseat. "Yup. Keith's gone. He was, uh, reassigned." Keith was off being punished somewhere, and I said good riddance.
Lee glanced around, taking in the expensive furnishings. "This is a nice place." His eyes fell on the cabinet that had held the alchemy supplies. Its door still hung precariously from its hinges, and I hadn't bothered tidying up where the Alchemists had cleaned out its other contents.
"Was this..." Lee frowned. "Was this place broken into?"
"Not exactly," I said. "Keith, um, just needed to find something in a hurry before he left."
Lee wrung his hands and looked around some more before turning back to me. "And he's not coming back?"
Lee's face fell, which surprised me. I'd always gotten the impression he didn't like Keith. "Will another Alchemist be replacing him?"
"I don't know," I said. There was still some debate on that. Turning Keith in had stopped me from being replaced by Zoe, and Stanton was now considering just having me fill in as the local Alchemist since the duties were light. "If someone does, it may be a while."
"So you're the only Alchemist in the area," he repeated, sounding sadder still.
I shrugged. "There are some in Los Angeles."
That inexplicably perked him up a little. "Really? Could you tell me their - "
Lee stopped as his focus dropped to the open yearbook lying at my feet. "Oh," I said, scooping it up. "Just a research project I'm doing on - "
"Kelly Hayes." The cheerful look was gone.
"Yeah. Have you heard of her?" I reached for a nearby piece of scrap paper, intending to use it as a bookmark for the tribute section.