I thought back to the terror on Donovan's face and shivered. "I don't think he was lying.'
Sydney didn't ask any more questions, except about which direction she should drive. Dimitri suggested we find another hotel so that we could clean up and get some rest before tomorrow's task. Fortunately, Lexington had a much broader selection of hotels than our last town. We didn't go for luxury, but the large, modern-looking place we chose was part of a chain, clean and stylish. Sydney checked us in and then led us inside through a side door, so as not to startle any guests who might be up in the middle of the night.
We got one room with two double beds. No one commented on it, but I think we all shared a need to stay together after our earlier Strigoi encounter. Dimitri was much more of a mess than me, thanks to his mutilation of Donovan, so I sent him to shower first.
"You did great,' I told Sydney as we waited. I sat on the floor (which was much cleaner than the last room's) so that I wouldn't wreck the beds. "That was really brave of you.'
She crooked me a smile. "Typical. You get beat up and nearly killed, but I'm the one you're praising?'
"Hey, I do this all the time. Going in there alone like you did ... well, it was pretty hardcore. And I'm not that beat up.'
I was brushing off my injuries, just as Dimitri would. Sydney, eyeing me, knew it too. My legs were scraped more than I'd realized, the skin torn and bleeding from where I'd fallen on the cement. One of my ankles was complaining over the roof-jump, and I had a number of cuts and bruises scattered over the rest of me. I had no clue where most had come from.
Sydney shook her head. "How you guys don't catch gangrene more often is beyond me.' We both knew why, though. It was part of the natural resistance I'd been born with as a dhampir, getting the best of both races' traits. Moroi were actually pretty healthy too, though they sometimes caught diseases unique to their race. Victor was an example. He had a chronic disease and had once forced Lissa to heal him. Her magic had restored him to full health at the time, but the illness was slowly creeping back.
I showered after Dimitri finished, and then Sydney forced her first aid kit on both of us. When we were bandaged and disinfected to her satisfaction, she got out her laptop and pulled up a map of Paris, Kentucky. The three of us huddled around the screen.
"Lots of creeks and rivers,' she mused, scrolling around. "Not much in the way of lakes.'
I pointed. "Do you think that's it?' It was a tiny body of water, marked APPLEWOOD POND.
"Maybe. Ah, there's another pond. That could be a suspect too or--oh! Right here?' She tapped the screen on another body of water, a bit bigger than the ponds: MARTIN LAKE.
Dimitri sat back and ran a hand over his eyes as he yawned. "That looks like the most likely option. If not, I don't think it'll take long to drive around the other ones.'
"That's your plan?' asked Sydney. "Just drive around and look for a blue house?'
I exchanged glances with Dimitri and shrugged. Sydney might be showing her bravery on this trip, but I knew her idea of "a plan' was a little different from ours. Hers were structured, well-thought out, and had a clear purpose. Also, details.
"It's more solid than most of our plans,' I said at last.
The sun was going to be up in another hour or so. I was restless to go after Sonya, but Dimitri insisted sleep until midday. He took one bed, and Sydney and I shared the other. I didn't really think I needed the rest he claimed, but my body disagreed. I fell asleep almost instantly.
And like always lately, I eventually was pulled into a spirit dream. I hoped it was Adrian, coming to finish our last conversation. Instead, the conservatory materialized around me, complete with harp and cushioned furniture. I sighed and faced the Brothers Dashkov.
"Great,' I said. "Another conference call. I have really got to start blocking your number.'
Victor gave me a small bow. "Always a pleasure, Rose.' Robert merely stared off into space again. Nice to know some things never changed.
"What do you want?' I demanded.
"You know what we want. We're here to help you help Vasilisa.' I didn't believe that for an instant. Victor had some scheme in mind, but my hope was to capture him before he could do any further damage. He studied me expectantly. "Have you found the other Dragomir yet?'
I stared incredulously. "It's only been a day!' I almost had to redo my math on that one. It felt more like ten years. Nope. Only a day since I'd last spoken to Victor.
"And?' Victor asked. "And, how good do you think we are?'
He considered. "Pretty good.'
"Well, thanks for the vote of confidence, but it's not as easy as it seems. And actually ... considering what a cover-up this has all been, it really doesn't seem easy at all.'
"But you have found something?' Victor pressed.
I didn't answer.
An eager gleam lit his eyes, and he took a step forward. I promptly took one back. "You have found something.'
"Maybe.' Again, I had the same indecision as before. Did Victor, with all his scheming and manipulating, know something that could help us? Last time, he'd given me nothing, but now we had more information. What had he said? If we found a thread, he could unravel it?
"Rose.' Victor was speaking to me like I was a child, as he often did to Robert. It made me scowl. "I told you before: It doesn't matter if you trust me or my intentions. For now, we're both interested in the same short-term goal. Don't let future worries ruin your chance here.'
It was funny, but that was similar to the principle I'd operated on for most of my life. Live in the now. Jump right in and worry about the consequences later. Now, I hesitated and tried to think things over before making a decision. At last, I chose to take the risk, again hoping Victor might be able to help.
"We think the mother ... the mother of Lissa's brother or sister ... is related to Sonya Karp.' Victor's eyebrows rose. "You know who that is?'
"Of course. She turned Strigoi--allegedly because she went insane. But we both know it was a little more complicated than that.'
I nodded reluctantly. "She was a spirit user. No one knew.'
Robert's head whipped around so fast that I nearly jumped. "Whos a spirit user?'
"Former spirit user,' said Victor, instantly switching to soothing mode. "She became a Strigoi to get away from it.'
The sharp focus Robert had directed toward the two of us melted into soft dreaminess once more. "Yes ... always a lure to that ... kill to live, live to kill. Immortality and freedom from these chains, but oh, what a loss ...'
They were crazy ramblings, but they had an eerie similarity to some of the things Adrian said sometimes. I didn't like that at all. Trying to pretend Robert wasn't in the room, I turned back to Victor. "Do you know anything about her? Who she's related to?'