He stared at me, uncharacteristically surprised. "I don't care about you?"

"No." I was being petty- very, very petty. And I knew the truth- that he did care and was more than just a mentor. I couldn't help myself, though. It just kept coming and coming. I jabbed his chest with my finger. "I'm another student to you. You just go on and on with your stupid life lessons so that- "

The hand I'd hoped would touch my hair suddenly reached out and grabbed my pointing hand. He pinned it to the wall, and I was surprised to see a flare of emotion in his eyes. It wasn't exactly anger...but it was frustration of another kind.

"Don't tell me what I'm feeling," he growled.

I saw then that half of what I'd said was true. He was almost always calm, always in control- even when fighting. But he'd also told me how he'd once snapped and beaten up his Moroi father. He'd actually been like me once- always on the verge of acting without thinking, doing things he knew he shouldn't.

"That's it, isn't it?" I asked.


"You're always fighting for control. You're the same as me."

"No," he said, still obviously worked up. "I've learned my control."

Something about this new realization emboldened me. "No," I informed him. "You haven't. You put on a good face, and most of the time you do stay in control. But sometimes you can't. And sometimes ..." I leaned forward, lowering my voice. "Sometimes you don't want to."


I could see his labored breathing and knew his heart was beating as quickly as mine. And he wasn't pulling away. I knew this was wrong- knew all the logical reasons for us staying apart. But right then, I didn't care. I didn't want to control myself. I didn't want to be good.

Before he realized what was happening, I kissed him. Our lips met, and when I felt him kiss me back, I knew I was right. He pressed himself closer, trapping me between him and the wall. He kept holding my hand, but his other one snaked behind my head, sliding into my hair. The kiss was filled with so much intensity; it held anger, passion, release....

He was the one who broke it. He jerked away from me and took several steps back, looking shaken.

"Do not do that again," he said stiffly.

"Don't kiss me back then," I retorted.

He stared at me for what seemed like forever. "I don't give 'Zen lessons' to hear myself talk. I don't give them because you're another student. I'm doing this to teach you control."

"You're doing a great job," I said bitterly.

He closed his eyes for half a second, exhaled, and muttered something in Russian. Without another glance at me, he turned and left the room.


I DIDN'T SEE DIMITRI FOR a while after that. He'd sent a message later that day saying that he thought we should cancel our next two sessions because of the rapidly approaching plans to leave campus. Classes were about to end anyway, he said; taking a break from practice seemed like the reasonable thing.

It was a lame excuse, and I knew that wasn't the reason he was canceling. If he wanted to avoid me, I would have preferred he made up something about how he and the other guardians had to up Moroi security or practice top-secret ninja moves.

Regardless of his story, I knew he was avoiding me because of the kiss. That damned kiss. I didn't regret it, not exactly. God only knew how much I'd been wanting to kiss him. But I'd done it for the wrong reasons. I'd done it because I was upset and frustrated and had simply wanted to prove that I could. I was so tired of doing the right thing, the smart thing. I was trying to be more in control lately, but I seemed to be slipping.

I hadn't forgotten the warning that he'd once given me-  that us being together wasn't just about age. It would interfere with our jobs. Pushing him into the kiss...well, I'd fanned the flames of a problem that could eventually hurt Lissa. I shouldn't have done it. Yesterday, I'd been unable to stop myself. Today I could see more clearly and couldn't believe what I'd done.

Mason met me on Christmas morning, and we went to go hang out with the others. It provided a good opportunity to push Dimitri out of my head. I liked Mason- a lot. And it wasn't like I had to run off and marry him. Like Lissa had said, it would be healthy for me to just date someone again.

Tasha was hosting our Christmas brunch in an elegant parlor in the Academy's guest quarters. Lots of group activities and parties were occurring throughout the school, but I'd quickly noticed that Tasha's presence always created a disturbance. People either secretly stared or went out of their way to avoid her. Sometimes she would challenge them. Sometimes she would just lie low. Today, she'd chosen to stay out of the other royals' way and simply enjoy this small, private party of those who didn't shun her.

Dimitri had been invited to the gathering, and a bit of my resolve faltered when I saw him. He'd actually dressed up for the occasion. Okay, "dressed up" might have been an exaggeration, but it was the closest I'd ever seen him come to that. Usually he just looked a little rough...like he could spring into battle at any given moment. Today, his dark hair was tied at the back of his neck, as though he'd actually tried to make it neat. He wore his usual jeans and leather boots, but instead of a T-shirt or thermal shirt, he had on a finely knit black sweater. It was just an ordinary sweater, nothing designer or expensive, but it added a touch of polish I didn't usually see, and good God, did it fit him well.

Dimitri wasn't mean to me or anything, but he certainly didn't go out of his way to make conversation with me. He did talk to Tasha, however, and I watched with fascination as they conversed in that easy way of theirs. I'd since learned that a good friend of his was a distant cousin of Tasha's family; that was how the two of them knew each other.

"Five?" asked Dimitri in surprise. They were discussing the friend's children. "I hadn't heard that."

Tasha nodded. "It's insane. I swear, I don't think his wife's had more than six months off between kids. She's short, too-  so she just gets wider and wider."

"When I first met him, he swore he didn't even want kids."

Her eyes widened excitedly. "I know! I can't believe it. You should see him now. He just melts around them. I can't even understand him half the time. I swear, he speaks more baby talk than English."

Dimitri smiled his rare smile. "Well...children do that to people."

"I can't imagine it happening to you," she laughed. "You're always so stoic. Of course ... I suppose you'd be doing baby talk in Russian, so no one would ever know."

They both laughed at that, and I turned away, grateful Mason was there to talk to. He was a good distraction from everything, because in addition to Dimitri ignoring me, Lissa and Christian were chatting on in their own little world too. Sex appeared to have made them that much more in love, and I wondered if I'd get to spend any time with her at all on the ski trip. She did eventually break away from him to give me my Christmas present.

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