I blinked in surprise. I hadn't considered it like that. "I guess so."

"Hey, Rose," said Xander, nearly spilling his drink as he walked over to me. "What was it like?"

"What was what like?"

"Letting someone feed off you?"

The others fell quiet, a sort of anticipation settling over them.

"She didn't do that," said Lissa in a warning voice. "I told you."

"Yeah, yeah, I know nothing happened with Jesse and Ralf. But you guys did it, right? While you were gone?"

"Let it go," said Lissa. Compulsion worked best with direct eye contact, and his attention was focused on me, not her.

"I mean, it's cool and everything. You guys did what you had to do, right? It's not like you're a feeder. I just want to know what it was like. Danielle Szelsky let me bite her once. She said it didn't feel like anything."

There was a collective "ew" from among the girls. Sex and blood with dhampirs was dirty; between Moroi, it was cannibalistic.

"You are such a liar," said Camille.

"No, I'm serious. It was just a small bite. She didn't get high like the feeders. Did you?" He put his free arm around my shoulder. "Did you like it?"

Lissa's face went still and pale. Alcohol muted the full force of her feelings, but I could read enough to know how she felt. Dark, scared thoughts trickled into me - underscored with anger. She usually had a good grip on her temper - unlike me - but I'd seen it flare up before. Once it had happened at a party very similar to this one, just a few weeks after Ms. Karp had been taken away.

Greg Dashkov - a distant cousin of Natalie's - had held the party in his room. His parents apparently knew someone who knew someone, because he had one of the biggest rooms in the dorm. He'd been friends with Lissa's brother before the accident and had been more than happy to take Andre's little sister into his social fold. Greg had also been happy to take me in, and the two of us had been all over each other that night. For a sophomore like me, being with a royal Moroi senior was a huge rush.

I drank a lot that night but still managed to keep an eye on Lissa. She always wore an edge of anxiety around this many people, but no one really noticed, because she could interact with them so well. My heavy buzz kept a lot of her feelings from me, but as long as she looked okay, I didn't worry.

Mid-kiss, Greg suddenly broke away and looked at something over my shoulder. We both sat in the same chair, with me on his lap, and I craned my neck to see. "What is it?"

He shook his head with a sort of amused exasperation. "Wade brought a feeder."

I followed his gaze to where Wade Voda stood with his arm around a frail girl about my age. She was human and pretty, with wavy blond hair and porcelain skin pale from so much blood loss. A few other guys had homed on her and stood with Wade, laughing and touching her face and hair.

"She's already fed too much today," I said, observing her coloring and complete look of confusion.

Greg slid his hand behind my neck and turned me back to him. "They won't hurt her."

We kissed a while longer and then I felt a tap on my shoulder. "Rose."

I looked up into Lissa's face. Her anxious expression startled me because I couldn't feel the emotions behind it. Too much beer for me. I climbed off of Greg's lap.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"Be right back." I pulled Lissa aside, suddenly wishing I was sober. "What's wrong?"


She nodded toward the guys with the feeder girl. She still had a group around her, and when she shifted to look at one of them, I saw small red wounds scattered on her neck. They were doing a sort of group feeding, taking turns biting her and making gross suggestions. High and oblivious, she let them.

"They can't do that," Lissa told me.

"She's a feeder. Nobody's going to stop them."

Lissa looked up at me with pleading eyes. Hurt, outrage, and anger filled them. "Will you?"

I'd always been the aggressive one, looking after her ever since we were little. Seeing her there now, so upset and looking at me to fix things, was more than I could stand. Giving her a shaky nod, I stumbled over to the group.

"You so desperate to get some that you've got to drug girls now, Wade?" I asked.

He glanced up from where he'd been running his lips over the human girl's neck. "Why? Are you done with Greg and looking for more?"

I put my hands on my h*ps and hoped I looked fierce. The truth was, I was actually starting to feel a little nauseous from all I'd drunk. "Aren't enough drugs in the world to get me near you," I told him. A few of his friends laughed. "But maybe you can go make out with that lamp over there. It seems to be out of it enough to make even you happy. You don't need her anymore." A few other people laughed.

"This isn't any of your business," he hissed. "She's just lunch." Referring to feeders as meals was about the only thing worse than calling dhampirs blood whores.

"This isn't a feeding room. Nobody wants to see this."

"Yeah," agreed a senior girl. "It's gross." A few of her friends agreed.

Wade glared at all of us, me the hardest. "Fine. None of you have to see it. Come on." He grabbed the feeder girl's arm and jerked her away. Clumsily, she stumbled along with him out of the room, making soft whimpering noises.

"Best I could do," I told Lissa.

She stared at me, shocked. "He's just going to take her to his room. He'll do even worse things to her."

"Liss, I don't like it either, but it's not like I can go chase him down or anything." I rubbed my forehead. "I could go punch him or something, but I feel like I'm going to throw up as it is."

Her face grew dark, and she bit her lip. "He can't do that."

"I'm sorry."

I returned to the chair with Greg, feeling a little bad about what had happened. I didn't want to see the feeder get taken advantage of anymore than Lissa did - it reminded me too much of what a lot of Moroi guys thought they cold do to dhampir girls. But I also couldn't win this battle, not tonight.

Greg had shifted me around to get a better angle on my neck when I noticed Lissa was gone a few minutes later. Practically falling, I clambered off his lap and looked around. "Where's Lissa?"

He reached for me. "Probably the bathroom."

I couldn't feel a thing through the bond. The alcohol had numbed it. Stepping out into the hallway, I breathed a sigh of relief at escaping the loud music and voices. It was quiet out here - except for a crashing sound a couple rooms down. The door was ajar, and I pushed my way inside.

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