"I'm doing fine on my own, thanks," she said, stepping back. "And I'm not really sure you know what's best for the Moroi."

"Fine? With your Strigoi boyfriend and slutty wannabe guardian?" exclaimed Ralf. He spoke loudly enough to get Eddie's attention, and Eddie did not look happy.

"Be quiet," Jesse told him angrily. He turned to Lissa. "He shouldn't have said that...but he's kind of right. Your family's reputation is all on you, and the way you're going, no one's taking you seriously. The queen's already trying to keep you in line and get you away from Ozera. You're going to crash and burn."

Lissa was growing angrier and angrier. "You have no idea what you're talking about. And - " She frowned. "What do you mean she's trying to get me away from Christian?"

"She wants to marr - " Ralf started to speak, but Jesse immediately cut him off.

"That's exactly what I'm talking about," said Jesse. "We know all sorts of things that could affect you and help you -  you and Christian."

I had a feeling that Ralf had been about to mention the queen's plans to marry Lissa off to Adrian. I was puzzling out how he would know about that until I recalled again that Ralf was related to the Vodas. Priscilla Voda was the queen's adviser and best friend. She knew all of the queen's plans and had probably told Ralf. His relationship to her must have been closer than I'd realized.

"Tell me," Lissa demanded. The thought of using compulsion on him actually crossed her mind, but she dismissed it. She wouldn't lower herself to that. "What do you know about Christian?"

"No free information," said Jesse. "Come to a meeting and we'll tell you everything."

"Whatever. I'm not interested in your elitist connections, and I don't know anything about compulsion." Despite her words, she was insanely curious about what he knew.

She started to turn away, but Jesse grabbed her arm. "Damn it! You have to - "

"Lissa's going to bed now," said Eddie. He'd shot over as soon as Jesse touched her. "Remove your hand, or I'll do it for you."

Jesse glared at Eddie. Like most Moroi-dhampir matchups, Jesse had height, and Eddie had muscle. Of course, Jesse had Ralf's bulk too, but it wouldn't matter. Everyone there knew who would win if Eddie went up against them. The beauty of it was that Eddie probably wouldn't even get in trouble if he claimed he'd done it to save Lissa from harassment.

Jesse and Ralf slowly backed off. "We need you," said Jesse. "You're the only one. Think about it."

When they were gone, Eddie asked, "Are you okay?"

"Yeah...thanks. God, that was so weird." They moved toward the stairs.

"What was it about?"

"They're obsessed with this royal society or something and want me to join so they can have every royal family in it. They were kind of fanatic about it." Eddie knew about spirit, but she wasn't comfortable reminding him what a badass she was with compulsion.

He opened the door for her. "Well, they can annoy you all they want, but they can't make you join something you don't want to."

"Yeah, I suppose." Part of her still wondered what they knew about Christian or if it had been a bluff. "I just hope they don't get too annoying."

"Don't worry," he told her, his voice hard. "I'll make sure they don't."

I slipped back to my body and opened the door to my own dorm. Halfway up the stairs, I discovered I was smiling. I certainly didn't want Jesse and Ralf bothering Lissa, but if it came down to Eddie having to rough them up? Yeah. I wouldn't mind seeing them get a little payback for what they'd done to others.


DEIRDRE THE COUNSELOR must not have had much of a life, because she scheduled our next appointment on a Sunday. I wasn't thrilled about it, seeing as it wasn't just my day off - it was also the day my friends had off. Orders were orders, however, so I grudgingly showed up.

"You're wrong," I told her as soon as I sat down. We hadn't really addressed the questions from my first session yet. We'd spent our last couple of times talking about my mother and what I thought of the field experience.

"What about?" she asked. She wore a sleeveless floral dress that seemed too cold for a day like today. It also bore an eerie resemblance to the nature photographs that hung around the office.

"About the guy. I don't just like him because I can't have him. I like him because ... well, because he's him. I've proven it to myself."

"Proven it how?"

"It's a long story," I said evasively. I didn't really want to get into the details of my Adrian compulsion experiment. "You just have to trust me."

"What about the other thing we talked about?" she asked. "What about your feelings about Lissa?"

"That idea was wrong too."

"Did you prove it to yourself?"

"No, but it wasn't the kind of thing I could really test the same way."

"Then how can you be sure?" she asked.

"Because I am." That was the best answer she was going to get.

"How have things been with her recently?"

"Recently how?"

"Have you spent a lot of time together? Kept up with what she's been doing?"

"Sure, kind of. I don't see her as much. She's doing the same things as usual though. Hanging out with Christian. Acing every test. Oh, and she's practically got Lehigh's website memorized."


I explained the queen's offer to Deirdre. "She won't even be there until fall, but Lissa's already looking at all her classes and trying to figure out what she wants to major in."

"What about you?"

"What about me?"

"What will you do while she attends classes?"

"I'll go with her. That's what usually happens if a Moroi has a guardian close to her age. They'll probably enroll me too."

"You'll take the same classes she does?"


"Are there classes you'd rather take instead?"

"How do I know? She hasn't even picked the ones she's going to take, so I don't know if I want to take them or not. But it doesn't matter. I have to go with her."

"And you don't have a problem with that?"

My temper was starting to prickle. This was exactly what I hadn't wanted to talk about. "No," I said tightly.

I knew Deirdre wanted me to elaborate, but I refused to. We held each other's eyes for a few moments, almost like we were challenging the other to look away. Or maybe I was reading too much into it. She glanced down at the mysterious notepad she always held and flipped through a couple of pages. I noticed that her nails were perfectly shaped and painted red. The polish on mine had started to chip.

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