"Were you followed?' asked Dimitri. He was all seriousness again, with no sign of what had passed moments ago.

"Not that I could tell,' she said, shifting into a cross-legged position. "A couple guardians followed me back in the neighborhood, but I lost them a while ago. Most of them seemed more interested in you two.'

"Imagine that,' I muttered. "Too bad Victor was long gone--he might have taken priority.'

"He didn't kill a queen,' she said ruefully. We'd had to eventually tell her why Victor was wanted and that he'd been the one Sonya had sensed was stalking Lissa back at St. Vladimir's. "But the good news is I know where they're at now.'

"Where?' asked Dimitri and I in unison.

A small, knowing smile came to her lips at that. "West Michigan,' she said. "They took off in the opposite direction from Court.'

"Damn,' I muttered. Dimitri and I had gone southeast from Ann Arbor, clipping the Detroit suburbs and just crossing into Ohio. We'd picked the wrong direction. "But you saw Jill? Is she okay?'

Sonya nodded. "Fine. Scared, but fine. She described enough landmarks that I think we can locate their motel. I found her in a dream a couple hours ago; they had to rest. Victor wasn't feeling well. They might still be there.'

"Then we need to leave now,' said Dimitri, instantly in action. "Once they're moving, Jill will be awake and out of contact.' We packed up our campsite with amazing speed. My ankle felt better but was still sore. Noticing my limp, Sonya called a halt just before we got in her car.

"Hang on.'

She knelt before me, examining the swelling ankle that was easily exposed by my torn dress. Taking a deep breath, she rested her hands on me, and a surge of electricity shot through my leg, followed by waves of heat and cold. When it was over and she stood up, the pain and swelling were gone, as were the scrapes on my legs. Probably the cuts on my head too. Spirit users had healed me so often that you'd think I'd be used to it, but it was still a little startling.

"Thank you,' I said. "But you shouldn't have done that ... shouldn't have used the magic ...'

"You need to be in peak condition,' she said. Her gaze drifted from me, staring off at the trees. "And the magic ... well, it's hard to stay away from.'

Indeed it was, and I felt guilty that she was using it on me--and moving closer to insanity. Robert's restoration had healed her mind a little, and she needed to take advantage of that. This was no time for a lecture, though, and Dimitri's expression told me he too thought it best I get back in shape.

We took off toward where Sonya told us Jill was, and this time, her directions were as specific as she could make them. No more vagueness or binding promises. We stopped once to "acquire' a new car and get a map. The info Sonya had gleaned from Jill led us to a town called Sturgis. While it was in the western half of Michigan, it was also south--meaning the distance wasn't quite as long as we'd expected. Nonetheless, Dimitri drove at least fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit the whole time.

"There,' said Sonya, as we rolled into downtown Sturgis--which wasn't much of a downtown. We were near a modest-looking motel on a side street. "That's what she described. The Sunshine Motel.'

Dimitri pulled into the lot behind the building, and we all sat there, staring at the motel, which didn't look as cheerful as its name. Like me, I presumed my companions were trying to figure out how to approach this. Jill's dream info had gotten us here, but Sonya had nothing else to help us find their room--if they were even still here. They certainly wouldn't have checked in under real names. I was going to suggest we just walk past the doors and hope Sonya would sense Robert when she suddenly pointed.

"That's their car,' she said. "They're here.'

Sure enough. There was the CR-V we'd taken to Jill's house. Talk about karma. I'd swiped Victor's keys, and he'd repaid the favor by taking ours. None of us had thought much about his escape vehicle in the ensuing chaos.

"Sloppy,' murmured Dimitri, eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "They should have switched cars.'

"That's Sydney's,' I pointed out. "It's not technically stolen, so it's not on any police lists. Besides, something tells me Victor and Robert aren't hot-wiring pros like some people are.' We'd left a string of stolen cars across the Midwest.

Dimitri nodded, like I'd actually just complimented him. "Whatever the reason, it helps us.'

"How do we find them?' asked Sonya. I was about to suggest the aura plan but dismissed it. Robert would sense Sonya at the same moment, giving him brief warning. Plus, when we found the brothers, there'd likely be a fight. Doing it in the motel would attract attention. This parking lot was in back, away from the main road.

"We wait,' I said. "It's amazing enough that they even stopped this long. If they have any sense, they'll leave soon.'

"Agreed,' said Dimitri, catching my eyes. Souls in sync. The memory of that near-kiss returned, and I looked away, fearing what my face would betray. "The lot's easy to defend too. Not much room for escape.' It was true. The motel flanked one side, a concrete wall the other. There weren't many other buildings nearby either.

He moved our car to the farthest spot he could in the lot, providing us with a full view of it and the motel's exit--but keeping us semi-concealed. We considered sitting in the car, but Dimitri and I decided we should wait outside, giving us more mobility. We left Sonya inside. This wasn't her fight.

Standing behind the car with Dimitri, in the shadow of a leafy maple, I became acutely aware of his proximity and fierce warrior stance. He might be missing his duster, but I had to admit I liked the view of him I got without the coat.

"I don't suppose,' I said softly, "that we're going to talk about this morning?'

Dimitri's eyes were fixed so hard on the CR-V that he might have been trying to make Jill and the brothers materialize inside it. I wasn't fooled. He was just avoiding looking at me. "There's nothing to talk about.'

"I knew you'd say that. Actually, it was a toss-up between that and "I don't know what you're talking about.''

Dimitri sighed.

"But,' I continued, "there is something to talk about. Like when you almost kissed me. And what did you mean about "the right thing'?'


"You wanted to kiss me!' It was hard to keep my voice low. "I saw it.'

"Just because we want something doesn't mean it's right.'

"What I said ... it's true, isn't it? You can love, can't you? I realize now that right after the transformation, you really didn't think you could. And you probably couldn't. But things have changed. You're getting yourself back.'

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