"Sorry," I mumbled. "I'm out of it. Just...um, tired."

"Too much excitement last night?"

I gave him a narrow-eyed look. "Nothing I couldn't handle."

"I guess," he laughed, though he didn't exactly sound amused. "Sounds like Jesse couldn't handle it."

"He did okay."

"If you say so. But personally, I think you've got bad taste."

I stopped walking. "And I don't think it's any of your business."

He looked away angrily. "You made it the whole class's business."

"Hey, I didn't do that on purpose."

"Would've happened anyway. Jesse's got a big mouth."

"He wouldn't have told."

"Yeah," said Mason. "Because he's so cute and has such an important family."

"Stop being an idiot," I snapped. "And why do you even care? Jealous I'm not doing it with you?"

His flush grew, going all the way to the roots of his red hair. "I just don't like hearing people talk shit about you, that's all. There are a lot of nasty jokes going around. They're calling you a slut."

"I don't care what they call me."

"Oh, yeah. You're really tough. You don't need anyone."

I stopped. "I don't. I'm one of the best novices in this f**king place. I don't need you acting all gallant and coming to my defense. Don't treat me like I'm some helpless girl."

I turned around and kept walking, but he caught up to me easily. The woes of being five-seven.

"Look...I didn't mean to upset you. I'm just worried about you."

I gave a harsh laugh.

"I'm serious. Wait..." he began. "I, uh, did something for you. Sort of. I went to the library last night and tried to look up St. Vladimir,"

I stopped again. "You did?"

"Yeah, but there wasn't much on Anna. All the books were kind of generic. Just talked about him healing people, bringing them back from the edge of death."

That last part hit a nerve.

"Was...was there anything else?" I stammered.

He shook his head. "No. You probably need some primary sources, but we don't have any here."

"Primary what?"

He scoffed, a smile breaking over his face. "Do you do anything but pass notes? We just talked about them the other day in Andrews' class. They're books from the actual time period you want to study. Secondary ones are written by people living today. You'll get better information if you find something written by the guy himself. Or someone who actually knew him."

"Huh. Okay. What are you, like, a boy genius now?"

Mason gave me a light punch in the arm. "I pay attention, that's all. You're so oblivious. You miss all sorts of things." He smiled nervously. "And look...I really am sorry about what I said. I was just - "

Jealous, I realized. I could see it in his eyes. How had I never noticed this before? He was crazy about me. I guess I really was oblivious.

"It's all right, Mase. Forget about it." I smiled. "And thanks for looking that stuff up."

He smiled back, and I went inside, sad that I didn't feel the same way about him.




I glanced over at her. We were waiting for Mr. Nagy's Slavic art class to start, and I was preoccupied with listening to Mia adamantly deny the claims about her parents to one of her friends.

"It's not like they're servants or anything," she exclaimed, clearly flustered. Straightening her face, she tried for haughtiness. "They're practically advisors. The Drozdovs don't decide anything without them."

I choked on a laugh, and Lissa shook her head.

"You're enjoying this way too much."

"Because it's awesome. What'd you just ask me?" I dug through my bag, messily looking for my lip gloss. I made a face when I found it. It was almost empty; I didn't know where I was going to score some more.

"I asked if you need something to wear tonight," she said.

"Well, yeah, of course I do. But none of your stuff fits me."

"What are you going to do?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "Improvise, like always. I don't really care anyway. I'm just glad Kirova's letting me go."

We had an assembly tonight. It was November 1, All Saints' Day - which also meant we'd been back almost a month now. A royal group was visiting the school, including Queen Tatiana herself. Honestly, that wasn't what excited me. She'd visited the Academy before. It was pretty common and a lot less cool than it sounded. Besides, after living among humans and elected leaders, I didn't think much of stiff royals. Still, I'd gotten permission to go because everyone else would be there. It was a chance to hang out with actual people for a change and not stay locked in my dorm room. A little freedom was definitely worth the pain of sitting through a few boring speeches.

I didn't stay to chat with Lissa after school like I usually did. Dimitri had stuck to his promise about extra trainings, and I was trying to stick to mine. I now had two additional hours of practice with him, one before and one after school. The more I watched him in action, the more I understood the badass-god reputation. He clearly knew a lot - his six molnija marks proved as much - and I burned to have him teach me what he knew.

When I arrived at the gym, I noticed he was wearing a T-shirt and loose running pants, as opposed to his usual jeans. It was a good look for him. Really good. Stop looking, I immediately told myself.

He positioned me so that we stood facing each other on the mat and crossed his arms. "What's the first problem you'll run into when facing a Strigoi?"

"They're immortal?"

"Think of something more basic."

More basic than that? I considered. "They could be bigger than me. And stronger."

Most Strigoi - unless they'd been human first - had the same height as their Moroi cousins. Strigoi also had better strength, reflexes, and senses than dhampirs. That's why guardians trained so hard; we had a "learning curve" to compensate for.

Dimitri nodded. "That makes it difficult but not impossible. You can usually use a person's extra height and weight against them."

He turned and demonstrated several maneuvers, pointing out where to move and how to strike someone. Going through the motions with him, I gained some insight into why I took such a regular beating in group practice. I absorbed his techniques quickly and couldn't wait to actually use them. Near the end of our time together, he let me try.

"Go ahead," he said. "Try to hit me."

Tags: Richelle Mead Vampire Academy Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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