"What happened to you finishing things you started?" I asked. "You told me you had changed."
"That was for art," said Adrian quickly. "I'm still in those classes, aren't I? I didn't jump ship on those. I just don't want to do this one anymore. Don't worry. Now that I've got more money, I'll pay you back the class fee. You won't be out anything."
"That doesn't matter," I argued. "It's still a waste! Especially since what Wolfe's showing us isn't really that difficult. We're not ripping ourselves apart like Eddie and Angeline would.
Why is this so hard for you to stick with and learn?" My earlier self-doubt returned. "Do you just not want to work with me? Is there... is there something wrong with me?"
"No! Of course not. Absolutely not," said Adrian. In my periphery, I saw him finally look at me. "Maybe there are only so many things I can learn at once. I mean, I'm supposed to also be learning to drive a stick shift. Not that I see that happening." I wanted to slap myself on the forehead. In my frustration over class, I'd completely forgotten again about showing Adrian how to drive. I felt like an idiot, even though I was still mad at him for giving up on Wolfe. I checked the time. I had things to do tonight at Amberwood but felt obligated to make up for my shoddy teaching.
"We'll practice once we're back in your neighborhood," I promised. "We'll start slow, and I'll show you everything you need to do. I might even let you try driving around the block tonight if you seem like you're paying attention to the lesson." The transformation in Adrian was remarkable. He went from sullen and uncomfortable to cheerful and energetic. I couldn't figure it out. Sure, I found cars and driving fascinating, but technically speaking, there was a lot more detail to learn about manual transmission than there was in Wolfe's evasive techniques. Why were those difficult for him, but the clutch was easy?
I stuck around for about an hour when we got back. To his credit, Adrian paid attention to every word I said, although his results were inconsistent whenever I quizzed him or actually let him try something. Sometimes he'd respond like a pro. Other times, he'd seem totally lost on things I could have sworn he'd picked up. By the end of the hour, I felt safe enough with him driving the car at low speeds on empty streets. He was a long way from the highway or stop-and-go traffic of a busy city.
"Looks like we've got more lessons in our future," I told him when we finished. I'd parked the car behind his building, and we were walking back toward the main entrance and Latte.
"Do not take that car beyond a half-mile radius. I checked the odometer. I'll know."
"Noted," he said, still wearing that smirky smile. "When's the next lesson? You want to come back tomorrow night?"
"Can't," I said. "I'm going out with Brayden." I was surprised at how much I was looking forward to it. Not only did I want to make things up to him after the dance, but I also just wanted a dose of normality - well, at least the kind of normality Brayden and I had together.
Plus, things with Adrian were feeling really weird...
"Oh." Adrian's smile fell. "Well. I understand. I mean, love and romance and all that."
"We're going to the textile museum," I said. "It's cool, though I'm not sure how much love and romance there'll really be there."
Adrian nearly came to a halt. "There's a textile museum here? What do people do there?"
"Well, they look at... um, textiles. There's actually a great exhibit on - " I stopped as we reached the front of the building. There, behind Latte, was a familiar car, the rental that Sonya and Dimitri were using. I looked questioningly at Adrian.
"Were you expecting them tonight?"
"No," he said, resuming his walk to the door. "They've got a key, though, so I suppose they can make themselves at home anytime. They do it a lot, actually. He eats my food, and she uses my hair stuff."
I followed him. "Hopefully it's just Dimitri."
After our recent revelations about the hunters, Sonya was pretty much under house arrest.
Or so I thought. When we walked into the apartment, she was sitting on the couch. No Dimitri in sight. She glanced up at us from her laptop.
"Thank goodness you're here," she said, directing her words to me. "Jill said you two were out and I was hoping to catch you."
Something told me no good would come out of her wanting to "catch" me, but I had greater concerns. "What are you doing here?" I asked, half-expecting hunters to come through the door. "You're supposed to be at Clarence's until you leave town."
"Day after tomorrow," she confirmed. She stood; eyes alight with whatever had driven her here. "But I needed to talk to you now - face-to-face."
"I would've come to you," I protested. "It's not safe for you to be out."
"I'm fine," she said. "I made sure I wasn't followed. This was too important." She was breathless and excited.
More important than being caught by wannabe vampire hunters? Debatable.
Adrian crossed his arms and looked surprisingly disapproving. "Well, it's too late now.
What's going on?"
"We got the results back from Sydney's blood," explained Sonya.
My heart stopped. No, I thought. No, no, no.
"Just like with Dimitri's blood, nothing physiological showed up," she said. "Nothing unusual with proteins, antibodies, or anything like that."
Relief poured through me. I'd been right. Nothing special about me, no inexplicable properties.
And yet... at the same time, I felt a tiny pang of regret. I wasn't the one who would fix everything.
"We sent it to a Moroi lab this time, not an Alchemist one," Sonya continued. "One of the researchers - an earth user - felt a hum of earth magic. Just like how Adrian and I felt spirit in Dimitri's blood. The technician had other types of magic users examine your sample, and all four basic elements were detected."
That panic returned. She had me on an emotional roller coaster, one that left me nauseous.
"Magic... in my blood?" A moment later, I understood. "Of course there is," I said slowly.
I touched my cheek. "The tattoo has vampire blood and magic in it. That's what it is. There are different degrees of charms in it from different users. That would show up in my blood." I shivered. Even with a logical explanation, it was a scary thing accepting that there was magic in my blood. Ms. Terwilliger's spells were still anathema to me, but at least there was some comfort in knowing they drew magic from outside of me. But knowing I had something internal? That was terrifying. And yet, I couldn't be surprised at this finding, not with the tattoo.