Home > The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)(11)

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)(11)
Author: Richelle Mead

“You need to see a doctor,” the same guy insisted. “It might be broken.”

Rowena flinched, and I could guess that the same fears I’d felt were running through her head. I knew there was no permanent damage but had to play along because it was the reasonable thing to do.

“Give me your keys,” I told her. “The campus clinic’s open.”

Triage got us in quickly, since having a thirty-pound concrete block fall on you was pretty serious. But after an examination and X-rays, the doctor simply shrugged. “Everything’s fine. Maybe it wasn’t as heavy as you thought.”

“It was pretty heavy,” Rowena said, but relief filled her face. I even thought I caught a glimmer of tears in her eyes as she looked at me. “I guess you just got the block off fast enough.” There was no sign that she remembered that burst of healing.

“Because I’m manly and brave,” I said solemnly.

They discharged her, and as we were leaving, her girlfriend, Cassie, showed up. Rowena was pretty, but Cassie was a knockout. She flung her arms around Rowena, and I shook my head ruefully.

“How in the world did you pull that off?” I asked.

Rowena grinned at me over Cassie’s shoulder. “I told you: My wit and charm are always on.”

We made arrangements to finish the project tomorrow, and I headed back to my apartment. I hadn’t used such an intense amount of spirit in a long time, and the rush was heady. The world was full of life and light, and I practically floated on air when I walked inside. How could spirit be a bad thing when it made me feel like this? I felt glorious. I felt more alive than I had in days.

I picked a random record from one of the boxes. Pink Floyd. Nope, not in my current mood. I swapped it out for the Beatles and then threw myself into my self-portrait with a renewed vigor. Or rather, portraits. Because I couldn’t stop. My mind was abuzz with ideas, and it was impossible to pick just one. Color flew fast and furious onto the canvas as I experimented with different concepts. One was an abstract of my aura, the way Sonya and Lissa always said it looked. Another was more accurate, as realistic as I could manage from a picture on my cell phone, save that I painted myself in reds and blues. On it went.

And bit by bit, the energy began to fade. My brush slowed down, and at last, I sank onto the couch, feeling drained and exhausted. I stared around at my handiwork, five different paintings, all drying. My stomach rumbled, and I tried to remember when I’d last eaten. A muffin with Rowena? I was getting as bad as Sydney. I put a pizza in the microwave, and as I watched it cook, my mind began to spin with thoughts of a different nature.

Sydney’s birthday. How could I have forgotten it? Well, I hadn’t forgotten it. I had the date burned into my mind, February 5. It was the logistics of getting her a gift that had eluded me. Turning toward the haphazard boxes of records, I stared at them with dismay, suddenly hating them for the dent they’d made in my monthly funds. Sydney had been right about how foolish the purchase was. What could I have bought for her instead? I imagined a dozen roses showing up at her dorm anonymously. Maybe two dozen. Or even three. Equally appealing was the thought of a diamond tennis bracelet on her slim wrist. Something subtle and classy, of course. She’d never go for anything too outlandish.

Thinking of diamonds made me remember Aunt Tatiana’s cuff links. I ignored the microwave beeping that it was finished and trotted off to my bedroom. The cuff links were still sitting out, a dazzling array of red and white fire that glittered in the overhead light. Sell these and you’d have allowance for life, Sydney had joked. Not just allowance or my car payments. I could get her a present. Presents. The roses, the bracelet, a romantic dinner.

No. No dinner, nothing in public. The thought descended heavily on me as I contemplated our future together. Could we have one? What kind of relationship was this, grasping at these stolen moments? She was too reasonable to do this forever. Eventually she’d realize it was time to let it go. Let me go. I put the cuff links back in their box, knowing I could never sell them and that I was in the full throes of a spirit crash.

It happened with these bouts of magic. I’d barely been able to drag myself out of bed when I’d brought Jill back. The toll of wielding so much life was just too great, and the mind crashed from the high. Well, mine did. Lissa didn’t have these dramatic ups and downs. Hers was more of a steady darkness that lingered with her for a few days, keeping her moody and melancholy until it lifted. Sonya had a mix of both effects.

My little brooding artist, Aunt Tatiana used to say with a chuckle when I got in these moods. What’s gotten into your head today? She’d speak fondly, like it was adorable. I could almost hear her voice now, almost see her standing there beside me. With a shaking breath, I closed my eyes and willed the image away. She wasn’t here. Shadow-kissed people could actually see the dead. Crazy people only imagined them.

I ate my pizza standing at the counter, telling myself over and over that this mood would pass. I knew it would. It always did. But oh, how the waiting sucked.

When I finished, I returned to the living room and stared at the paintings. What had seemed wonderful and inspired now seemed shallow and stupid. They embarrassed me. I gathered them all up and tossed them into a corner on top of one another, not caring about the torn canvas or wet paint.

Then I hit the liquor cabinet.

I’d made good progress on a bottle of tequila, sprawled on my bed and listening to Pink Floyd, when the bedroom door opened a couple hours later. I smiled when I saw Sydney. I was adrift on the buzz of tequila, which had effectively muted spirit and taken the edge off that terrible, terrible low. That wasn’t to say I was bright and peppy either, but I no longer wanted to crawl into a hole. I’d defeated spirit, and seeing Sydney’s beautiful face lifted me up even more.

She smiled back and then, in one sharp glance, assessed the situation. The smile vanished. “Oh, Adrian” was all she said.

I held up the bottle. “It’s Cinco de Mayo somewhere, Sage.”

Her eyes made a quick sweep of the room. “Is Hopper celebrating with you?”

“Hopper? Why would—” My mouth snapped shut for a few moments. “Oh. I, uh, kind of forgot about him.”

“I know. Maude sent a message by way of Ms. Terwilliger asking if someone was going to come for him.”

“Crap.” After everything that had happened with Rowena, my dragon fosterling had been the last thing on my mind. “I’m sorry, Sage. Totally slipped my mind. I’m sure he’s fine, though. It’s not like he’s a real kid. And like I said, he’s probably loving it.”

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