"Also,' added Adrian, looking dismayed, "if what Joe said gets out, the world would learn about my mother's misguided acts of love.'

"Im sorry,' I said, putting my arms around him. He complained about his parents all the time but really did care about his mother. Finding out about her bribery had to be tough for him, and I knew Tatiana's death still pained him. It seemed I was around a lot of men in anguish lately. "Although, I really am glad she cleared you of any connection.'

"It was stupid of her. If anyone finds out, she'll be in serious trouble.'

"What's Mikhail's advice then?'

"He's going to find Joe and question him privately. Go from there. For now, there's not much more we can do with the info. It's useful for us ... but not for the legal system.'

"Yeah,' I said, trying not to feel disheartened. "I guess it's better than nothing.'

Adrian nodded and then brushed away his dark mood in that easy way of his. Still keeping his arms around me, he pulled back slightly, smiling as he looked down at me. "Nice dress, by the way.'

The topic change caught me by surprise, though I should have been used to it with him by now. Following his gaze, I noticed I was wearing an old dress of mine, the sexy black dress I'd had on when Victor had unleashed a lust charm on Dimitri and me. Since Adrian hadn't dressed me for the dream, my subconscious had dictated my appearance. I was kind of astonished it had chosen this.

"Oh ...' I suddenly felt embarrassed but didn't know why. "My own clothes are kind of beat up. I guess I wanted something to counteract that.'

"Well, it looks good on you.' Adrian's fingers slid along the strap. "Really good.'

Even in a dream, the touch of his finger made my skin tingle. "Watch it, Ivashkov. We've got no time for this.'

"We're asleep. What else are we going to do?'

My protests were muffled in a kiss. I sank into it. One of his hands slid down the side of my thigh, near the dress's edge, and it took a lot of mental energy to convince myself that him pulling the dress up was probably not going to clear my name. I reluctantly moved back.

"We're going to figure out who killed Tatiana,' I said, trying to catch my breath.

"There's no "we,'' he said, echoing the line I'd just used on Victor. "There's me. And Lissa. And Christian. And the rest of our misfit friends.' He stroked my hair and then drew me close again, brushing a kiss against my cheek. "Don't worry, little dhampir. You take care of yourself. Just stay where you are.'

"I can't,' I said. "Don't you get it? I can't just do nothing.' The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. It was one thing to protest my inactivity with Dimitri, but with Adrian, I needed to make him and everyone else at Court think I was doing the "right thing.'

"You have to. We'll take care of you.' He didn't get it, I realized. He didn't understand how badly I needed to do something to help. To his credit, his intentions were good. He thought taking care of me was a big deal. He wanted to keep me safe. But he didn't truly get how agonizing inaction was for me. "We'll find this person and stop them from doing whatever it is ... they want to do. It might take a long time, but we'll fix it.'

"Time ...' I murmured against his chest, letting the argument go. I'd get nowhere convincing him I needed to help my friends, and anyway, I had my own quest now. So much to do, so little time. I stared off into the landscape he'd created. I'd noticed trees and flowers earlier but only now realized we were in the Church's courtyard--the way it had been before Abe's assault. The statue of Queen Alexandra stood intact, her long hair and kind eyes immortalized in stone. The murder investigation really was in my friends' hands for now, but Adrian had been right: it might take a while. I sighed. "Time. We need more time.'

Adrian pulled away slightly. "Hmm? What'd you say?'

I stared up at him, biting my lower lip as a million thoughts spun through my mind. I looked again at Alexandra and made my decision, wondering if I was about to set new records in foolishness. I turned back to Adrian and squeezed his hand.

"I said we need more time. And I know how we can get it ... but ... well, there's something you have to do for me. And you, uh, probably shouldn't mention it to Lissa yet ...'

I had just enough time to deliver my instructions to Adrian--who was as shocked as I'd expected--before Dimitri woke me up for my shift. We switched off with little conversation. He had his usual tough face on, but I could see the lines of fatigue etched upon his features. I didn't want to bother him--yet--with my Victor and Robert encounter. Not to mention what I'd just told Adrian to do. There'd be plenty of time for a recap later. Dimitri fell asleep in that easy way of his, and Sydney never stirred the entire time. I envied her for a full night's sleep but couldn't help a smile as the room grew lighter and lighter. She'd been inadvertently put on a vampire schedule after our all-night adventures.

Of course, Lissa was on the same schedule, which meant I couldn't visit her during my watch. Just as well. I needed to keep an eye on this creepy collective we'd stumbled into. These Keepers might not want to turn us in, but that didn't make them harmless either. I also hadn't forgotten Sydney's fears about surprise Alchemist visits. When late afternoon came for the rest of the world, I heard stirring inside the house. I gently touched Dimitri's shoulder, and he jerked awake instantly.

"Easy,' I said, unable to hide a smile. "Just a wakeup call. Sounds like our redneck friends are getting up.'

This time, our voices woke Sydney. She rolled over toward us, her eyes squinting at the light coming through the badly screened window. "What time is it?' she asked, stretching her limbs.

"Not sure.' I had no watch. "Probably past midday. Three? Four?'

She sat up almost as quickly as Dimitri had. "In the afternoon? " The sunlight gave her the answer. "Damn you guys and your unholy schedule.'

"Did you just say "damn'? Isn't that against Alchemist rules?' I teased.

"Sometimes it's necessary.' She rubbed her eyes and glanced toward the door. The faint noises I'd heard in the rest of the house were louder now, audible even to her ears. "I guess we need a plan.'

"We have one,' I said. "Find Lissa's sibling.'

"I never entirely agreed to that,' she reminded me. "And you guys keep thinking I can just magically type away like some movie hacker to find all your answers.'

"Well, at least it's a place to--' A thought occurred to me, one that could seriously mess things up. "Crap. Your laptop won't even work out here.'

"It's got a satellite modem, but it's the battery we have to worry about.' Sydney sighed and stood up, smoothing her rumpled clothes with dismay. "I need a coffee shop or something.'

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