"Care to try your luck downstairs?" He glanced over at Lissa. "Spirit users make remarkably good card players. I don't have to tell you how good you are at reading people." She made no response.
"Nobody's leaving this room," I said. I didn't like the idea of us all being cooped up here, but I couldn't risk an escape attempt or Strigoi lurking in the casino's dark corners.
After showering the dye from her hair, Lissa pulled up a chair by the window. She refused to get any closer to Victor. I sat cross-legged on the second bed, where there was plenty of room for Eddie to sit too, but he remained upright against a wall, in perfect guardian posture as he watched Victor. I had no doubt Eddie could maintain that position for hours, no matter how uncomfortable it got. We'd all been trained to endure harsh conditions. He did a good job at looking stern, but every once in a while, I'd catch him studying Victor curiously. Eddie had stood by me in this act of treason but still didn't know why I'd done it.
We'd been there a few hours when someone knocked at the door. I leapt up.
Eddie and I mirrored each other, both of us straightening to rigid attention, hands going for our stakes. We'd ordered lunch an hour ago, but room service had long since come and gone. It was too early for Robert, and besides, he didn't know the name our room was under. There was no nausea, though. No Strigoi at our door. I met Eddie's gaze, silent messages passing between us on what to do.
But it was Lissa who acted first, rising from her chair and taking a few steps across the room. "It's Adrian."
"What?" I exclaimed. "Are you sure?"
She nodded. Spirit users usually only saw auras, but they could sense each other if they were close enough--just as she had at the prison. Still, none of us moved. She gave me a dry look.
"He knows I'm here," she pointed out. "He can feel me too."
I sighed, still keeping my hand on my stake, and strode to the door. I squinted through the peephole. Standing there, his expression amused and restless, was Adrian. I could see no one else, and with no indication of Strigoi to be found, I finally opened the door. His face lit with joy when he saw me. Leaning in, he gave me a quick kiss on the cheek before stepping into the room.
"You guys didn't really think you could go off on a party weekend without me, did you? Especially here of all places--"
He froze, and it was one of those rare moments when Adrian Ivashkov was caught totally and completely off guard.
"Did you know," he said slowly, "that Victor Dashkov is sitting on your bed?"
"Yeah," I said. "It was kind of a shock to us too."
Adrian dragged his gaze from Victor and glanced around the room, noticing Eddie for the first time. Eddie had been standing so still that he practically seemed like part of the furniture. Adrian turned to me.
"What the hell is going on? Everyone is out looking for him!"
Lissa's words spoke to me through my bond. You might as well tell him. You know he won't leave now.
She was right. I didn't know how Adrian had found us, but now that he had, there was no way he'd go. I glanced hesitantly at Eddie, who guessed my thoughts.
"We'll be fine," he said. "Go talk. I won't let anything happen."
And I'm strong enough again that I can compel him if he tries anything, Lissa added.
I sighed. "Okay. We'll be right back."
I took Adrian's arm and led him outside. As soon as we were in the hallway, he started in again. "Rose, what's--"
I shook my head. In our time here, I'd heard enough noise from other hotel guests in the hall to know that my friends would hear our conversation if we talked out there. Instead, Adrian and I took the elevator and headed downstairs, where the noise of the casino would mask our words. We found a slightly out-of-the-way corner, and Adrian practically pushed me against the wall, his expression dark. His light attitude annoyed me sometimes, but I preferred it to when he was upset, largely because I feared spirit would add an unstable edge.
"You leave me a note saying you're sneaking off for one last party weekend, and instead I find you holed up with one of the most notorious criminals ever? When I left Court, that's all everyone was talking about! Didn't that guy try to kill you?"
I answered his question with a question. "How did you even find us?"
"The credit card," he said. "I was waiting for you to use it."
My eyes widened. "You promised me when I got all those that you wouldn't go snooping!" Since my accounts and cards had come with his help, I'd known he had access to the records but had believed him when he'd said he'd respect my privacy.
"When you were in Russia, I kept that promise. This is different. I kept checking and checking with the company, and as soon as the activity with the charter plane showed up, I called and found out where you were going." Adrian's arrival here so soon after ours wasn't that unbelievable if he had been monitoring the card. Once he'd had the information he needed, he could have easily booked a flight. A nonstop commercial jet would have made up the time on our slower, multistop trip. "There was no way I could resist Vegas," he continued. "So I thought I'd surprise you and show up to join in the fun." I'd used my card for the room, I realized, again tipping off our location. No one else was linked to my or Lissa's cards, but the ease with which he'd tracked us made me nervous.
"You shouldn't have done that," I growled. "We might be together, but there are boundaries you've got to respect. This is none of your business."
"It's not like I was reading your diary! I just wanted to find my girlfriend and--" It was a sign of Adrian's distress that his mind was only now beginning to backtrack and put pieces together. "Oh lord. Rose, please tell me you guys aren't the ones who busted him out? They're all looking for two human girls and a dhampir guy. The descriptions don't match at all..." He groaned. "But it was you, wasn't it? Somehow, you broke into a maximum-security prison. With Eddie."
"Must not have been all that secure," I remarked lightly.
"Rose! This guy has f**ked with both of your lives. Why would you free him?"
"Because..." I hesitated. How could I explain this to Adrian? How could I explain that which, by all evidence in our world, was impossible? And how could I explain what goal in particular was driving this? "Victor has information we need. Or, well, he has access to someone we need. This was the only way we could get it."
"What on earth could he possibly know to make you do all this?"