I was beginning to get a bad feeling about all of this, particularly as class started. The six of us sat on the floor while Wolfe leaned against one of the mirrors and looked down upon us.

"If you're here," he began. "You probably want to learn to use those right away." He pointed at the nunchucks.

I caught sight of Adrian's face in the mirror. His expression said, Yes, that is exactly what I want to learn.

"Well, too bad," said Wolfe. "You aren't ever going to use them. Not in this class, anyway.

Oh, they've got their uses, believe me. Saved my ass more than once when I was out bowhunting in Alaska a few years ago. But if you pay attention to what I'm going to tell you, you won't ever need to pick those up, seeing as we don't have a rabid moose problem here in Palm Springs."

The new mom raised her hand. "You used nunchucks on a moose?" Wolfe got a haunted look in his eyes. "I used all sorts of things on that bastard. But that's neither here nor now. Because here's the thing. With a little common sense, you won't need weapons. Or fists. You."

To my shock, Wolfe pointed at me and fixed me with a steely, one-eyed stare.

"What did I tell you to do when you arrived?"

I gulped. "Give you cash, sir."

"And after that?"

"You told us to come wait out here."

He nodded in satisfaction, so apparently my answering of the obvious had gone well.

"We're two miles from any other houses and about a mile from the highway. You don't know me, and let's face it, this place looks like something from a serial killer film." Out of the corner of my eye, Adrian flashed me a triumphant look. "I sent you out into a remote building with hardly any windows. You went inside. Did you look around as you were walking over here?

Did you scan the surroundings in here before coming all the way inside? Did you check the exits?"

"I - "

"No, of course you didn't," he interrupted. "No one ever does. And that is the first rule of self-defense. Don't assume anything. You don't have to live your life in fear, but know what's around you. Be smart. Don't go blindly into dark alleys or parking lots." And like that, I was hooked.

Wolfe was astonishingly well prepared. He had lots of stories and examples of attacks, ones that kept reminding me: humans are some of the most vicious creatures out there, not vampires. He showed us pictures and diagrams of various unsafe places, pointing out vulnerabilities and providing pretty practical advice that should've been obvious to most people - but wasn't. The more he spoke, the more foolish I felt about what had happened with Sonya. If those guys had wanted to attack Sonya badly enough, they would've found a way somehow.

But there were a million things I could have done to be more cautious and possibly avoid the confrontation that went down that night. That idea turned out to be a huge part of Wolfe's philosophy: avoidance of danger in the first place.

Even when he finally moved on to discuss some very basic moves, his emphasis was on using them to get away - not to stick around and beat your attacker into the ground. He let us practice some of these moves in the last half hour of the class, having us pair up to work with classmates and a dummy since we didn't really want to hurt each other.

"Thank God," said Adrian, when we broke out to practice. He and I were partners. "I thought I'd come to a fight class to learn how not to fight."

"But he's right," I said. "If you can avoid the fight, so much the better."

"But what if you can't?" asked Adrian. "Like with your sword-wielding friends? What do you do once you're in trouble?"

I tapped our blank-faced stuffed practice dummy. "That's what this is for." Wolfe's main move today was on how to break out of someone's hold if we were grabbed from behind. He had a couple of techniques which weren't much more complex than headbutting or stomping on feet. Adrian and I took turns being the attacker while the victim practiced the maneuvers - in slow motion and with almost no contact on our partners. That was what the dummies were for. I was about five inches shorter than Adrian and seemed pretty implausible as an attacker, which made us both laugh each time I made a move. Wolfe chastised us for not being serious enough but gave us high marks for learning the techniques.

This made me feel a little arrogant, enough so that when Adrian turned his back to get a water bottle, I sneaked up from behind and flung my arms around him, pinning his arms in turn. Wolfe had shown us how to break that type of hold, and I honestly thought Adrian had seen me coming enough to slip away before I even touched him. Apparently not. He froze, and for one moment, we stood locked in time. I could feel the silk of his shirt against my skin and the warmth of his body. The lingering scent of the overpriced cologne he wore floated around me. No smoke for a change. I'd always told him the cologne couldn't be worth what he spent, but suddenly, I reconsidered. It was amazing.

I was so awash in sensory overload that I was caught completely unaware when he did push me away.

"What are you doing?" he exclaimed. I'd thought he'd be impressed at my sneak attack, but there was neither approval nor humor on his face. My own smile faded.

"Testing if you could handle a surprise attack." My tone was hesitant. I didn't know what I'd done wrong. He looked uncomfortable. Almost upset. "What's the matter?"

"Nothing," he said gruffly. For a moment his eyes locked onto me with an intensity that left me breathless. Then, he glanced away, as though he couldn't handle looking at me. I felt more confused than ever. "Never thought I'd see the day when you'd throw your arms around a vam - someone like me."

I barely even noticed his public slipup. His words drew me up short. He was right. I'd touched him without even thinking about it - and not just a formal Moroi handshake, like usual.

Sure, it was in the context of our class, but I knew that I never could have done this a few months ago. Touching him now had seemed perfectly natural. Was that why he was upset?

Was he worried about the Alchemists and me?

Wolfe strolled by. "Nice work, girl." He gave Adrian a teeth-rattling slap on the back. "You were totally unprepared for her."

This seemed to distress Adrian even more, and I could've sworn I heard him mutter,

"That's for damned sure."

Some of Adrian's swagger returned during the car ride home, but he was still quiet and thoughtful. I again tried to figure out his shift in mood. "Do you need to stop by Clarence's for blood?" Maybe the class had exhausted him.

"Nah," he said. "Don't want you to be late. But maybe... maybe you can come by this weekend, and we can do a group trip over there?"

Tags: Richelle Mead Bloodlines Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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