"Rose," groaned Lissa.

"Let's go. Good night, Princess."

He turned, but I didn't move. "You going to be okay, Liss?"

She nodded. "I'm fine."

It was such a lie, I couldn't believe she had the nerve to try to put it past me. I didn't need the bond to see tears shining in her eyes. We should never have come back to this place, I realized bleakly.


She gave me a small, sad smile and nodded in Dimitri's direction. "I told you, I'm fine. You've got to go."

Reluctantly, I followed him. He led me out toward the other side of the garden. "We may need to add an extra training on self-control," he noted.

"I have plenty of self contr - hey!"

I stopped talking as I saw Christian slip past us, moving down the path we'd just come from. I hadn't seen him at the reception, but if Kirova had released me to come tonight, I suppose she would have done the same for him.

"You going to see Lissa?" I demanded, shifting my Mia rage to him.

He stuffed his hands into his pockets and gave me that look of bad-boy indifference. "What if I am?"

"Rose, this isn't the time," said Dimitri.

But it was so the time. Lissa had ignored my warnings about Christian for weeks. It was time to go to the source and stop their ridiculous flirtation once and for all.

"Why don't you just leave her alone? Are you so messed up and desperate for attention that you can't tell when someone doesn't like you?" He scowled. "You're some crazy stalker, and she knows it. She's told me all about your weird obsession - how you're always hanging out in the attic together, how you set Ralf on fire to impress her. She thinks you're a freak, but she's too nice to say anything."

His face had paled, and something dark churned in his eyes. "But you aren't too nice?"

"No. Not when I feel sorry for someone."

"Enough," said Dimitri, steering me away.

"Thanks for 'helping,' then," snapped Christian, his voice dripping with animosity.

"No problem," I called back over my shoulder.

When we'd gone a little ways, I stole a glance behind me and saw Christian standing just outside the garden. He'd stopped walking and now stood staring down the path that led to Lissa in the courtyard. Shadows covered his face as he thought, and then, after a few moments, he turned around and headed back toward the Moroi dorms.


SLEEP CAME RELUCTANTLY THAT NIGHT and I tossed and turned for a long time before finally going under.

An hour or so later, I sat up in bed, trying to relax and sort out the emotions coming to me. Lissa. Scared and upset. Unstable. The night's events suddenly came rushing back to me as I went through what could be bothering her. The queen humiliating her. Mia. Maybe even Christian - he could have found her for all I knew.

Yet...none of those was the problem right now. Buried within her, there was something else. Something terribly wrong.

I climbed out of bed, dressed hastily, and considered my options. I had a third-floor room now - way too high to climb down from, particularly since I had no Ms. Karp to patch me up this time. I would never be able to sneak out of the main hall. That only left going through the "appropriate" channels.

"Where do you think you're going?"

One of the matrons who supervised my hall looked up from her chair. She sat stationed at the end of the hall, near the stairs going down. During the day, that stairwell had loose supervision. At night, we might as well have been in jail.

I crossed my arms. "I need to see Dim - Guardian Belikov."

"It's late."

"It's an emergency."

She looked me up and down. "You seem okay to me."

"You're going to be in so much trouble tomorrow when everyone finds out you stopped me from reporting what I know."

"Tell me."

"It's private guardian stuff."

I gave her as hard a stare as I could manage. It must have worked, because she finally stood up and pulled out a cell phone. She called someone - Dimitri, I hoped - but murmured too low for me to hear. We waited several minutes, and then the door leading to the stairs opened. Dimitri appeared, fully dressed and alert, though I felt pretty sure we'd pulled him out of bed.

He took one look at me. "Lissa."

I nodded.

Without another word, he turned around and started back down the stairs. I followed. We walked across the quad in silence, toward the imposing Moroi dorm. It was "night" for the vampires, which meant it was daytime for the rest of the world. Mid-afternoon sun shone with a cold, golden light on us. The human genes in me welcomed it and always sort of regretted how Moroi light sensitivity forced us to live in darkness most of the time.

Lissa's hall matron gaped when we appeared, but Dimitri was too intimidating to oppose. "She's in the bathroom," I told them. When the matron started to follow me inside, I wouldn't let her. "She's too upset. Let me talk to her alone first."

Dimitri considered. "Yes. Give them a minute."

I pushed the door open.


A soft sound, like a sob, came from within. I walked down five stalls and found the only one closed. I knocked softly.

"Let me in," I said, hoping I sounded calm and strong.

I heard a sniffle, and a few moments later, the door unlatched. I wasn't prepared for what I saw. Lissa stood before me...

...covered in blood.

Horrified, I squelched a scream and almost called for help. Looking more closely, I saw that a lot of the blood wasn't actually coming from her. It was smeared on her, like it had been on her hands and she'd rubbed her face. She sank to the floor, and I followed, kneeling before her.

"Are you okay?" I whispered. "What happened?"

She only shook her head, but I saw her face crumple as more tears spilled from her eyes. I took her hands.

"Come on. Let's get you cleaned - "

I stopped. She was bleeding after all. Perfect lines crossed her wrists, not near any crucial veins, but enough to leave wet, red tracks across her skin. She hadn't hit her veins when she did this; death hadn't been her goal. She met my eyes.

"I'm sorry...I didn't mean...Please don't let them know..." she sobbed. "When I saw it, I freaked out." She nodded toward her wrists. "This just happened before I could stop. I was upset..."

"It's okay," I said automatically, wondering what "it" was. "Come on."

I heard a knock on the door. "Rose?"

"Just a sec," I called back.

I took her to the sink and rinsed the blood off her wrists. Grabbing the first-aid kit, I hastily put some Band-Aids on the cuts. The bleeding had already slowed.

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