I started to say he could have tried to contact me, but honestly, why should he have? It wasn't his responsibility. I was the one who'd told Daniella I'd meet him there. It was my fault for not showing up.

"Adrian, I'm sorry." I clasped his hand, but he didn't squeeze back. "Really, I meant to, but--"

"No," he interrupted again. "Ever since Dimitri came back... no, scratch that. Ever since you became obsessed with changing him, you've been torn over me. No matter what's happened between us, you've never really given yourself over to our relationship. I wanted to believe what you told me. I thought you were ready... but you weren't."

Protests rose to my lips, but once more, I stopped them. He was right. I'd said I'd give dating him a fair shot. I'd even sunk into the comfortable role of his girlfriend, yet the whole time... the whole time, part of me had been consumed with Dimitri. I'd known it too but had kept living split lives. A weird flashback to my time with Mason popped into my head. I'd led the same double life with him, and he'd died for it. I was a mess. I didn't know my own heart.

"I'm sorry," I said again. "I really do want us to have something...." Even to me, the words sounded so lame. Adrian gave me a knowing smile.

"I don't believe that. Neither do you." He stood up and ran his hand over his hair, not that it did any good. "If you really want to be with me, then you've got to mean it this time."

I hated seeing him so grim. I especially hated being the reason. I followed him to the door. "Adrian, wait. Let's talk more."

"Not now, little dhampir. I need some sleep. I just can't handle playing this game right now."

I could have gone after him. I could have tackled him to the ground. But it wouldn't have been worth it... because I had no answers to give him. He'd been right about everything, and until I could make up my own confused mind, I had no right to force a talk. Besides, considering the state he was in, I doubted any further conversation would have been productive.

Yet as he started to step outside, I couldn't help my next words. "Before you go--and I understand why you have to--there's something I've got to ask you. Something that's not about us. It affects--it affects Lissa."

This slowly brought him to a halt. "Always a favor." With a world-weary sigh, he glanced at me over his shoulder. "Make it fast."

"Someone broke into the Alchemists' records and stole information about Lissa's dad. Some of it was ordinary life history stuff, but there were some documents about him making secret deposits into a bank account in Las Vegas. Some woman's bank account."

Adrian waited a few moments. "And?"

"And I'm trying to figure out why someone would do that. I don't want anyone snooping around her family. Do you have any idea what her dad would have been doing?"

"You heard the guy at the casino. Her dad was there a lot. Maybe he had gambling debts and was paying off a loan shark."

"Lissa's family's always had money," I pointed out. "He couldn't have gotten into that much debt. And why would anyone care enough to steal that info?"

Adrian threw up his hands. "I don't know. That's all I've got, at least this early in the morning. I don't have the brain power for intrigue. I can't really picture any of that being a threat to Lissa, though."

I nodded, disappointed. "Okay. Thanks."

He continued on his way, and I watched him go. Lissa lived near him, but I didn't want him to think I was following him. When he'd put enough distance between us, I stepped outdoors as well and started to head in the same direction. The faint sound of bells brought me to a halt. I hesitated, suddenly unsure where to go.

I wanted to talk to Lissa and tell her what Sydney had told me. Lissa was alone for a change; this was the perfect opportunity. And yet... the bells. It was Sunday morning. Mass was about to start at the Court's church. I had a hunch about something, and in spite of everything that had happened--including with Adrian--I had to see if I was right.

So I sprinted off toward the church, going in the opposite direction of Lissa's building. The doors were shut when I reached my destination, but a few other latecomers were trying to quietly slip in. I entered with them, pausing to get my bearings. Clouds of incense hung in the air, and my eyes took a moment to adjust from sunlight to candlelight. Since this church dwarfed St. Vladimir's chapel, it was packed with a lot more people than I was used to seeing at mass. Most of the seats were full.

But not all of them.

My hunch had been right. Dimitri sat in one of the back pews. A few guardians sat near him, of course, but that was it. Even in a crowded church, no one else had joined him on the bench. Reece had asked Dimitri if he'd step inside the church yesterday, and Dimitri had gone one step further, saying he'd even go to Sunday services.

The priest had already begun to speak, so I moved down Dimitri's pew as quietly as I could. Silence didn't matter, though, because I still attracted a fair amount of attention from nearby people who were astonished to see me sitting next to the Strigoi-turned-dhampir. Eyes stared and several hushed conversations broke out.

The guardians had left some space near Dimitri, and when I sat beside him, the look on his face showed he was both surprised and not surprised by this.

"Don't," he said in a hushed voice. "Don't start--not in here."

"Wouldn't dream of it, comrade," I murmured back. "Just came for the good of my soul, that's all."

He didn't need to say a word to convey to me that he doubted I was here for any holy reasons. I stayed quiet throughout the service, though. Even I respected some boundaries. After several minutes, the tension in Dimitri's body eased a little. He'd grown wary when I joined him but must have eventually decided I'd be on good behavior. His attention shifted off of me and focused on the singing and the praying, and I did my best to watch him without being obvious.

Dimitri used to go to the school's chapel because it brought him peace. He had always said that even though the killing he did destroyed evil in the world, he still felt the need to come think about his life and seek forgiveness for his sins. Seeing him now, I realized that was truer than ever.

His expression was exquisite. I was so used to seeing him hide emotions that it was a bit startling for him to suddenly have a host of them on his face. He was absorbed in the priest's words, his gorgeous face completely focused. And I realized he was taking everything the priest was saying about sin personally. Dimitri was replaying all the awful things he'd done as a Strigoi. From the despair on his face, you'd think that Dimitri himself was responsible for all the sins of the world the priest spoke of.

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