"Why do you think anything's wrong?"

She smiled. "You've got that look. It's this tiny frown you get between your eyebrows when you're trying to figure something out."

I shook my head. "It's nothing."

"You know," she said, "maybe all these responsibilities you have wouldn't be as bad if you talked them out and got help from other people."

"It's not quite like that. It's just something I'm trying to puzzle out."

"Tell me," she entreated. "You can trust me."

It wasn't a matter of trust. It was a matter of unnecessarily worrying Jill. Mrs. Weathers had feared she would scare me, but if someone was killing Moroi girls, I wasn't in danger. Looking at Jill and her unwavering gaze, I decided if she could handle living with the knowledge that her own people were trying to kill her, she could handle this. I gave her a brief summary of what I knew.

"You don't know if Kelly was Moroi, though," she said, once I'd finished.

"No. That's the crucial piece here." I sat cross-legged on my bed with my own laptop. "I'm going to check our records and local newspapers to see if I can find a picture of her. All I learned from Mrs. Weathers is that Kelly was a star athlete."

"Which may mean she's not Moroi," said Jill. "I mean, look at how terrible I perform in this sun. What happens if she's not? You've got a lot of theories hinging on her being Moroi. But what if she was human? What then? Can we ignore it? It could still be the same person... but what would it mean if the murderer had killed two Moroi and one human?"

Jill had a point. "I don't know," I said.

My search didn't take long. The Alchemists had no record of the murder, but then, they wouldn't if Kelly had been human. Lots of newspapers had stories about her, but I couldn't find any pictures.

"What about a yearbook?" asked Jill. "Someone must keep them around."

"That's actually pretty brilliant," I said.

"See? I told you I'm useful."

I smiled at her and then remembered something. "Oh, I've got good news for you. Maybe." I briefly recapped Kristin and Julia's "plan" about Jill joining the sewing club.

Jill brightened but was still cautious. "You really think that would work?"

"Only one way to find out."

"I've never touched a sewing machine in my life," she said.

"I guess this is your chance to learn," I told her. "Or maybe the other girls will be happy to just keep you around as their in-class model."

Jill smirked. "How do you know only girls sign up for that?"

"I don't," I admitted. "Just playing off gender stereotypes, I guess."

My cell phone rang, and Ms. Terwilliger's number flashed on the display. I answered, bracing for a coffee run.

"Miss Melbourne?" she said. "If you and your brother can be at Carlton within an hour, you can speak to someone in the registrar's office before they close. Can you manage that?"

I looked at the time and took it on faith Adrian wasn't doing anything important. "Um, yes. Yes, of course, ma'am. Thank you. Thank you very much."

"The man you'll want to talk to is named Wes Regan." She paused. "And could you bring me a cappuccino on your way back?"

I assured her I could and then called Adrian with instructions to be ready for me. Quickly, I changed out of my uniform and into a blouse and twill skirt. Glancing at my reflection, I realized he was right. There really wasn't a lot of difference between Amberwood attire and my normal wardrobe.

"I wish I could go," said Jill wistfully. "I'd like to see Adrian again."

"Don't you kind of see him every day in a way?"

"True," she said. "Although I can't always get into his head when I want to yet. It just happens randomly. And anyway, it's not the same. He can't talk back to me through the bond."

I nearly replied that it sounded better than being around him in person but figured that wouldn't be helpful.

Adrian was ready to go when I reached Clarence's, excited and eager for action. "You just missed your friend," he said as he got into Latte.



I made a face. "He's not really my friend."

"Oh, you think? Most of us figured that out on day one, Sage."

I felt a little bad about that. Some part of me knew that I shouldn't let my personal feelings for Keith mix with business. We were co-workers of sorts and should've been presenting a united, professional front. At the same time, I was kind of glad these people - even if they were vampires and dhampirs - didn't think I was friendly with Keith. I didn't want them thinking he and I had much in common. I certainly didn't want to have a lot in common with him. The full meaning of Adrian's words suddenly hit me. "Wait. He was just here?"

"A half hour ago."

He must have come straight from the school. I was lucky to have missed him. Something told me he wouldn't approve of me furthering Adrian's education.

"What was he here for?"

"Dunno. I think he was checking on Clarence. The old guy hasn't been feeling well." Adrian pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. "Do you mind?"

"Yes," I replied. "What's wrong with Clarence?"

"I don't know, but he's been resting a lot, which makes things even more boring. I mean, he wasn't the greatest conversationalist, but some of his crazy stories were interesting." Adrian turned wistful. "Especially with scotch."

"Keep me updated on how he's doing," I murmured. I wondered if perhaps that was why Keith had been in such a hurry earlier. If Clarence was seriously ill, we were going to have to make arrangements with a Moroi doctor. That would complicate our setup here in Palm Springs because we'd either have to move Clarence or bring in someone. If Keith was working on it, then I shouldn't have concerned myself... but I just didn't trust him to do a good job with anything.

"I don't know how you put up with him," said Adrian. "I used to think you were weak and just didn't fight back... but now, honestly, I think you're actually pretty tough. It takes a hell of a lot of strength to not complain and lash out. I don't have that self-control."

"You've got more than you think," I said, a little flustered by the compliment. I was down on myself so much for what I saw as not pushing back sometimes that it had never occurred to me that took its own strength. I was even more surprised that it would take Adrian to point this out to me. "I'm always walking a line. My dad - and the Alchemists - are really big on obedience and following the directions of your superiors. I'm kind of in a double bind because I'm on shaky ground with them, so it's extra important for me to not make a fuss."

Tags: Richelle Mead Bloodlines Fantasy
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