"Got "em,' I said. Since I had the keys, I think Dimitri actually would have let me jump into the driver's seat. Thanks to my right ankle, however, I had to toss him the keys. The universe had a sick sense of humor.

"Will they spot us in this?' I asked, as Dimitri opened the garage door and backed out. "It's, uh, a bit flashier than our usual stolen car profile.' It was also awesome. Sydney, car geek that she was, would have loved it. I bit my lip, still guilty that we'd left her behind. I tried to push the thought out of my head for now.

"It is,' agreed Dimitri. "But other cars will be driving down the street. Some guardians will still be searching the yards, and some will be guarding the Mastranos. They don't have infinite numbers. They can't watch everything at once, though they'll certainly try.'

I held my breath anyway as we drove out of the subdivision. Twice, I thought I spotted stealthy figures by the side of the road, but Dimitri was right: they couldn't check every car in a busy suburban neighborhood. The darkness also obscured our faces.

Dimitri remembered the way we'd driven in because a few turns later, we were merging onto the freeway. I knew he had no destination in mind, except foraway. With no obvious indications that we'd been followed, I shifted my body and stretched out my throbbing leg. My chest had that light, nebulous feeling you got when too much adrenaline was pumping through you.

"They turned us in, didn't they?' I asked. "Victor and Robert called us in and then took off. I should have kept watch.'

"I don't know,' Dimitri said. "It's possible. I saw them just before I talked to you, and everything seemed fine. They wanted to go with us to find Jill, but they knew it was only a matter of time before we turned them over to the authorities. I'm not surprised they came up with an escape plan. They could have used the feeding as a distraction to call the guardians and get rid of us.'

"Crap.' I sighed and pushed my hair back, wishing I had a ponytail holder. "We should've gotten rid of them when we had the chance. What'll happen now?'

Dimitri was silent for a few seconds. "The Mastranos will be questioned ... extensively. Well, all of them will, really. They'll lock Sonya up for investigation, like me, and Sydney will be shipped back to the Alchemists.'

"And what will they do to her?'

"I don't know. But I'm guessing her helping vampire fugitives won't go over well with her superiors.'

"Crap,' I repeated. Everything had fallen apart. "And what are we going to do?'

"Put some distance between us and those guardians. Hide somewhere. Wrap up your ankle.'

I gave him a sidelong look. "Wow. You've got everything planned out.'

"Not really,' he said, a small frown on his face. "That's the easy stuff. What happens after that is going to be the hard part.'

My heart sank. He was right. Provided the Mastranos weren't indicted by Moroi authorities for helping criminals, Emily now had no one forcing her to acknowledge Jill's heritage. If Sydney was being hauled back to her own people--well. She couldn't help either. I was going to have to tell someone else, I realized. The next time I made contact with Adrian, I'd have to divulge the truth so that my friends could do something about Jill. We couldn't sit on this secret any longer.

Dimitri took the next exit, and I tuned back into the world. "Hotel?' I asked.

"Not quite,' he said. We were in a busy, commercial area, not far from Ann Arbor, I thought. One of the Detroit suburbs. Restaurants and stores lined the road, and he turned us toward a twenty-four-hour superstore that promised to carry "everything.' He parked and opened his door. "Stay here.'


Dimitri looked meaningfully at me, and I glanced down. I'd come away from our fight more scuffed up than I realized, and the dress had torn. My ragged appearance would attract attention, as would my limping. I nodded, and he left.

I spent the time turning over our problems, cursing myself for not having found a way to turn in the brothers once Robert had restored Sonya. I'd been bracing myself for betrayal in the form of some magical attack. I hadn't expected something as simple as a call to the guardians.

Dimitri, ever the efficient shopper, returned soon with two large bags and something slung over his shoulder. He tossed it all in the backseat, and I peered back curiously. "What's that?' It was long and cylindrical, covered in canvas.

"A tent.'

"Why are we--' I groaned. "No hotel, huh?'

"We'll be harder to find at a campground. The car will especially be harder to find. We can't get rid of it quite yet, not with your foot.'

"Those poor people,' I said. "I hope their car insurance covers theft.'

Back on the freeway, we soon left the urban sprawl, and it wasn't long before we saw advertisements for campgrounds and RV parks. Dimitri pulled over at a place called Peaceful Pines. He negotiated with the man working in the office and produced a number of crisp bills. That was another reason we couldn't get a hotel, I realized. Most required credit cards, and Sydney had had all those (in fake names, of course). We were living off cash now.

The clerk gave us directions along a gravel road that led to a spot on the opposite end of the campground. The place was busy with vacationing families, but no one paid much attention to us. Dimitri made sure to park as close to a cluster of trees as possible, in order to obscure the car and its plates. Despite my protests, he wouldn't let me help with the tent. He claimed he could do it faster without me and that I should stay off my feet. I started to argue until he began assembling the tent. My jaw dropped a little as I watched how quickly he put it together. He didn't even need the directions. It had to be some kind of record.

The tent was small and sturdy, giving us both room to sit and lie, though he had to hunch just a little when we were sitting. Once inside, I got to see the rest of his purchases. A lot of it was first aid. There was also a flashlight he propped up, a kind of makeshift lamp.

"Let me see the ankle,' he ordered.

I stretched out my leg, and he pushed my dress's skirt up to my knee, fingers light against my skin. I shivered as a sense of deja vu swept me. It seemed to be happening to me a lot lately. I thought back to all the times he had helped me with other injuries. We could have been right back in St. Vladimir's gym. He gently tested the ankle's mobility and did a little poking and prodding. His fingers never ceased to amaze me. They could break a man's neck, bandage a wound, and slide sensually across bare skin.

"I don't think it's broken,' he said at last. He lifted his hands, and I noticed how warm I'd been while he touched me. "Just sprained.'

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