Eddie eyed the dorm matron, a stout, gray-haired woman who supervised the lobby from her desk. "Do you think she has any kind of combat training? Do you think she could subdue an intruder?"
"I bet she could wrestle down a guy sneaking into a girl's room," joked Jill. She rested a hand on his arm, making him jump. "Relax. This place is safe." In some ways, Eddie's concern was comforting and made me feel secure. At the same time, I couldn't help but think again about why he was so watchful. He'd been there for the attack that no one would tell me about. He knew the threats because he'd seen them firsthand. If he was this on edge, even now, then how much danger were we still in? The Alchemists had led me to believe that once we were hidden here at Amberwood, all would be well and it would just become a waiting game. I'd had that very conversation with Rose and tried to convince her of the same. Eddie's attitude was concerning. The dorm room I shared with Jill was small by my standards. I'd always had my own room growing up and never had to worry about sharing space or closets. During my time in St. Petersburg, I'd even had my own apartment. Still, our one window had a sweeping view of the dorm's back courtyard.
Everything inside the room was airy and bright, with maple-finished furniture that looked new: beds, desks, and dressers. I had no experience with dorm rooms - but I could only assume by Jill's reaction that we'd gotten a good one. She swore that the room was larger than the one she'd had at her Moroi school, St. Vladimir's Academy, and was quite happy.
I half-wondered if she thought our room was big simply because we had so little to put in it. Neither of us had been able to do much packing with such swift departures. The furniture gave everything a warm, golden feel, but without personal decorations or other touches, the room could've come straight from a catalog. The dorm matron, Mrs. Weathers, had been astonished when she saw us and our minimal luggage. The girls I'd observed moving in earlier had arrived with cars packed to bursting. I hoped we didn't look suspicious.
Jill paused to stare out the window as we got ready for bed. "It's so dry here," she murmured, more to herself than me. "They keep the lawn green, but it's so strange not to feel the moisture in the air." She glanced over at me sheepishly. "I'm a water user."
"I know," I said, not sure what else to add. She was referring to the magical abilities all Moroi possessed. Each Moroi specialized in one of the elements, either the physical four - earth, air, water, and fire - or the more intangible and psychic element of spirit. Hardly anyone wielded that last one, though I'd heard Adrian was one of the few. If Jill couldn't access her magic easily, I wasn't going to be disappointed. Magic was one of those things, like the blood drinking, that served as a slap-in-the-face reminder that these people I was laughing and eating with were not human.
If I wasn't still exhausted from the drive with Keith, I probably would've lain awake agonizing over the fact that I was sleeping close to a vampire. When I'd first met Rose, I hadn't even been able to stay in the same room with her. Our hectic escape together had changed that a little, and by the end, I'd been able to let my guard down. Now, some of that old fear came back in the darkness. Vampire, vampire. Sternly, I told myself it was just Jill. I had nothing to worry about. Eventually, fatigue triumphed fear, and I slept.
When morning came, I couldn't help looking in the mirror to make sure I had no bite marks or other sign of vampire harm. When I'd finished, I immediately felt foolish. With the difficulty Jill was currently having waking up, it made no sense to imagine her sneaking up on me in the night. As it was, I had a hard time getting her out the door in time for orientation. She was groggy, with bloodshot eyes, and kept complaining about a headache. I guessed I didn't have to worry about nighttime attacks from my roommate.
Nonetheless, she managed to get up and around. We left our dorm and found Eddie, gathering with other new students near a fountain on Central Campus. Most of the crowd appeared to be freshmen like Jill. Only a few were the same age as me and Eddie, and I was surprised to see him easily chatting with those around him. With how vigilant he'd been the day before, I would've expected him to be more on guard, less capable of normal social interaction - but he fit right in. As we walked up, however, I caught him glance around stealthily at his surroundings. He might be playing a student, like me - but he was still a dhampir.
He was just telling us about how he hadn't met his roommate yet when a smiling guy with bright blue eyes and reddish hair strode up to them. "Hey there," he said. Up close, I could see a smattering of freckles. "Are you Eddie Melrose?"
"Yes, I'm - " Eddie had spun around with that guardian efficiency, ready to take on this potential threat. When he saw the newcomer, Eddie went perfectly still. His eyes widened slightly, and whatever he'd been about to say faded away.
"I'm Micah Vallence. I'm your roommate - also your orientation leader." He nodded toward the other mingling students and grinned. "But I wanted to come say hi first since I just got here this morning. My mom pushed our vacation to the limits."
Eddie was still staring at Micah as though he'd seen a ghost. I studied Micah too, wondering what I was missing. He seemed normal to me. Whatever was going on, Jill was also out of the loop because she was regarding Micah with a perfectly ordinary expression too, no alarm or surprise.
"Nice to meet you," said Eddie at last. "These are my, uh, sisters - Jill and Sydney."
Micah smiled at each of us in turn. He had a manner about him that made me feel easy, and I could see why he'd been drafted as an orientation leader. I wondered why Eddie was reacting so strangely.
"What grades are you in?" he asked us.
"Senior," I said. Remembering the cover story, I added, "Eddie and I are twins."
"I'm a freshman," said Jill.
Looking over our "family," I noticed that Eddie and I could probably pass for siblings pretty easily. Our coloring was similar, and of course, there was the fact that we both looked human. While a human wouldn't necessarily look at Jill and say "vampire!" she still possessed certain features that marked her as unusual. Her build and paleness were definite contrasts to me and Eddie.
If Micah noticed the lack of family resemblance, he didn't let on. "Nervous about starting high school?" he asked Jill.
She shook her head and smiled back. "I'm ready for the challenge."
"Well, if you need anything, let me know," he said. "For now, I've gotta get this party started. Talk to you guys later."