"It's more than that," I said. I started walking again.

Without even taking another step, he reached out and grabbed me once more. He pulled me back to him, so that we now stood even closer than before. I glanced uneasily around again, wondering if someone might see us, but the campus was deserted. It was early, not quite sunset, so early that most people probably weren't even up for the school day yet. We wouldn't see activity around here for at least another hour. Still, I was surprised to see Dimitri was still risking it.

"Tell me then," he said. "Tell me how it's more than that."

"You won't believe me," I said. "Don't you get it? No one will. Even you ... of all people." Something in that thought made my voice catch. Dimitri understood so much about me. I wanted - needed - him to understand this too.

"I'll...try. But I still don't think you really understand what's happening to you."

"I do," I said firmly. "That's what no one realizes. Look, you have to decide once and for all if you really do trust me. If you think I'm a child, too na?ve to get what's going on with her fragile mind, then you should just keep walking. But if you trust me enough to remember that I've seen things and know things that kind of surpass those of others my age...well, then you should also realize that I might know a little about what I'm talking about."

A lukewarm breeze, damp with the scent of melted snow, swirled around us. "I do trust you, Roza. But... I don't believe in ghosts."

The earnestness was there. He did want to reach out to me, to understand...but even as he did, it warred with beliefs he wasn't ready to change yet. It was ironic, considering tarot cards apparently spooked him.

"Will you try to?" I asked. "Or at the very least try not to write this off to some psychosis?"

"Yes. That I can do."

So I told him about my first couple of Mason sightings and how I'd been afraid to explain the Stan incident to anyone. I talked about the shapes I'd seen on the plane and described in more detail what I'd seen on the ground.

"Doesn't it seem kind of, um, specific for a random stress reaction?" I asked when I finished.

"I don't know that you can really expect 'stress reactions' to be random or specific. They're unpredictable by nature." He had that thoughtful expression I knew so well, the one that told me he was turning over all sorts of things in his head. I could also tell that he still wasn't buying this as a real ghost story but that he was trying very hard to keep an open mind. He affirmed as much a moment later: "Why are you so certain these aren't just things you're imagining?"

"Well, at first I thought I was imagining it all. But now ... I don't know. There's something about it that feels real... even though I know that isn't actually evidence. But you heard what Father Andrew said - about ghosts sticking around after they die young or violently."

Dimitri actually bit his lip. He'd been about to tell me not to take the priest literally. Instead he asked, "So you think Mason's back for revenge?"

"I thought that at first, but now I'm not so sure. He's never tried to hurt me. He just seems like he wants something. And then ... all those other ghosts seemed to want something too - even the ones I didn't know. Why?"

Dimitri gave me a sage look. "You have a theory."

"I do. I was thinking about what Victor said. He mentioned that because I'm shadow-kissed - because I died -  I have a connection to the world of the dead. That I'll never entirely leave it behind me."

His expression hardened. "I wouldn't put a lot of stock in what Victor Dashkov tells you."

"But he knows things! You know he does, no matter how big an ass**le he is."

"Okay, supposing that's true, that being shadow-kissed lets you see ghosts, why is it happening now? Why didn't it happen right after the car accident?"

"I thought of that," I said eagerly. "It was something else Victor said - that now that I was dealing in death, I was that much closer to the other side. What if causing someone else's death strengthened my connection and now makes this possible? I just had my first real kill. Kills, even."

"Why is it so haphazard?" asked Dimitri. "Why does it occur when it does? Why the airplane? Why not at Court?"

My enthusiasm dimmed a little. "What are you, a lawyer?" I snapped. "You question everything I'm saying. I thought you were going to have an open mind."

"I am. But you need to too. Think about it. Why this pattern of sightings?"

"I don't know," I admitted. I sagged in defeat. "You still think I'm crazy."

He reached out and cupped my chin, tipping my face up to look at his. "No. Never. Not one of these theories makes me think you're crazy. But I've always believed the simplest explanation makes sense. Dr. Olendzki's does. The ghost one has holes. But, if you can find out more...then we may have something to work with."

"We?" I asked.

"Of course. I'm not leaving you alone on this, no matter what. You know I'd never abandon you."

There was something very sweet and noble about his words, and I felt the need to return them, though mostly I ended up sounding idiotic. "And I won't ever abandon you, you know. I mean it... not that this stuff ever happens to you, of course, but if you start seeing ghosts or anything, I'll help you through it."

He gave a small, soft laugh. "Thanks."

Our hands found each other's, fingers lacing together. We stood like that for almost a full minute, neither of us saying anything. The only place we touched was our hands. The breeze picked up again, and although the temperature was probably only in the forties, it felt like spring to me. I expected flowers to burst into bloom around us. As though sharing the same thought, we released our hands at the same time.

We reached my dorm shortly after that, and Dimitri asked if I'd be okay going in on my own. I told him I'd be fine and that he should go do his own thing. He left, but just as I was about to step through the lobby door, I realized my overnight bag was still back at the med clinic. Muttering a few things that would have gotten me a detention, I turned around and hurried back in the direction I'd just come.

Dr. Olendzski's receptionist motioned me toward the examining rooms when I told her why I was there. I retrieved the bag from my now-empty room and turned into the hall to leave. Suddenly, in the room opposite mine, I saw someone lying in bed. There was no sign of any of the clinic's staff, and my curiosity - always getting the better of me - made me peek inside.

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