No one wanted to deal with me that night. There'd be hell to pay tomorrow - I heard talk of suspension or possibly even expulsion - but Kirova had her hands full with a bleeding Mia and a hysterical student body. The guardians escorted me to my room under the watchful eye of the dorm matron who informed me she'd check on me every hour to make sure I stayed in my room. A couple guardians would also hang out around the dorm's entrances. Apparently I was now a high-security risk. I'd probably just ruined Eddie's party; he'd never sneak a group up to his room now.

Heedless of my dress, I flounced onto the floor of my room, crossing my legs underneath me. I reached out to Lissa. She was calmer now. The events from the dance still hurt her terribly, but Christian was soothing her somehow, although whether it was through simple words or physical mojo, I couldn't say. I didn't care. So long as she felt better and wouldn't do anything stupid. I returned to myself.

Yes, things were going to get messy now. Mia and Jesse's respective accusations were going to set the school on fire. I probably would get thrown out and have to go live with a bunch of skanky dhampir women. At least Lissa might realize Aaron was boring and that she wanted to be with Christian. But even if that was the right thing, it still meant -

Christian. Christian.

Christian was hurt.

I snapped back into Lissa's body, suddenly sucked in by the terror pounding through her. She was surrounded, surrounded by men and women who had come out of nowhere, bursting up into the attic of the chapel where she and Christian had gone to talk. Christian leapt up, fire flaring from his fingers. One of the invaders hit him on the head with something hard, making his body slump to the ground.

I desperately hoped he was okay, but I couldn't waste any more energy worrying about him. All my fear was for Lissa now. I couldn't let the same thing happen to her. I couldn't let them hurt her. I needed to save her, to get her out of there. But I didn't know how. She was too far away, and I couldn't even escape her head at the moment, let alone run over there or get help.

The attackers approached her, calling her Princess and telling her not to worry, and that they were guardians. And they did seem like guardians. Definitely dhampirs. Moving in precise, efficient ways. But I didn't recognize them as any of the guardians from school. Neither did Lissa. Guardians wouldn't have attacked Christian. And guardians certainly wouldn't be binding and gagging her -

Something forced me out of her head, and I frowned, staring around my room. I needed to go back to her and find out what had happened. Usually the connection just faded or I closed it off, but this - this was like something had actually removed me and pulled me. Pulled me back here.

But that made no sense. What could pull me back from...wait.

My mind blanked.

I couldn't remember what I'd just been thinking about. It was gone. Like static in my brain. Where had I been? With Lissa? What about Lissa?

Standing up, I wrapped my arms around myself, confused, trying to figure out what was going on. Lissa. Something with Lissa.

Dimitri, a voice inside my head suddenly said. Go to Dimitri.

Yes. Dimitri. My body and spirit burned for him all of a sudden, and I wanted to be with him more than I ever had before. I couldn't stay away from him. He'd know what to do.

And he'd told me before I should come to him if something was wrong with Lissa. Too bad I couldn't remember what that was. Still. I knew he'd take care of everything.

Getting up to the staff wing of the dorm wasn't hard, since they wanted to keep me inside tonight. I didn't know where his room was, but it didn't matter. Something was pulling me to him, urging me closer. An instinct pushed me toward one of the doors, and I beat the living daylights out of it.

After a few moments, he opened it, brown eyes widening when he saw me.


"Let me in. It's Lissa."

He immediately stepped aside for me. I'd apparently caught him in bed, because the covers were peeled back on one side and only a small tableside lamp shone in the darkness. Plus, he wore only cotton pajama bottoms; his chest - which I'd never seen before, and wow, did it look great - was bare. The ends of his dark hair curled near his chin and appeared damp, like he'd taken a shower not so long ago.

"What's wrong?"

The sound of his voice thrilled me, and I couldn't answer. I couldn't stop staring at him. The force that had pulled me up here pulled me to him. I wanted him to touch me so badly, so badly I could barely stand it. He was so amazing. So unbelievably gorgeous. I knew somewhere something was wrong, but it didn't seem important. Not when I was with him.

With almost a foot separating us, there was no way I could easily kiss his lips without his help. So instead, I aimed for his chest, wanting to taste that warm, smooth skin.

"Rose!" he exclaimed, stepping back. "What are you doing?"

"What do you think?"

I moved toward him again, needing to touch him and kiss him and do so many other things.

"Are you drunk?" he asked, holding his hand out in a warding gesture.

"Don't I wish." I tried to dodge around him, then paused, momentarily uncertain. "I thought you wanted to - don't you think I'm pretty?" In all the time we'd known each other, in all the time this attraction had built, he'd never told me I was pretty. He'd hinted at it, but that wasn't the same. And despite all the assurances I had from other guys that I was hotness incarnate, I needed to hear it from the one guy I actually wanted.

"Rose, I don't know what's going on, but you need to go back to your room."

When I moved toward him again, he reached out and gripped my wrists. With that touch, an electric current shot through both of us, and I saw him forget whatever he'd just been worrying about. Something seized him too, something that made him suddenly want me as much I wanted him.

Releasing my wrists, he moved his hands up my arms, sliding slowly along my skin. Holding me in his dark, hungry gaze, he pulled me to him, pressing me right up to his body.

One of his hands moved up the back of my neck, twining his fingers in my hair and tipping my face up to his. He brought his lips down, barely brushing them against mine.

Swallowing, I asked again, "Do you think I'm pretty?"

He regarded me with utter seriousness, like he always did. "I think you're beautiful."


"You are so beautiful, it hurts me sometimes."

His lips moved to mine, gentle at first, and then hard and hungry. His kiss consumed me. His hands on my arms slid down, down my hips, down to the edge of my dress. He gathered up the fabric in his hands and began pushing it up my legs. I melted into that touch, into his kiss and the way it burned against my mouth. His hands kept sliding up and up, until he'd pulled the dress over my head and tossed it on the floor.

Tags: Richelle Mead Vampire Academy Fantasy
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