Home > The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)(12)

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)(12)
Author: Richelle Mead

But her expression didn’t change, except to grow graver. She walked over and took the tequila from me, then carried it to the window. Too late, I realized what she was doing. She opened the window and dumped the rest of the bottle outside. I sat up with a jolt.

“That’s expensive stuff!”

She shut the window and turned to face me. That look drew me up short. It wasn’t angry. It wasn’t sad. It was . . . disappointed.

“You promised me, Adrian. A social drink isn’t a problem. Self-medicating is.”

“How do you know it was self-medicating?” I asked, though I didn’t contradict her.

“Because I know you, and I know the signs. Also, I sometimes check up on your bottles. You made a big dent in this one tonight—much more than a social drink.” I nearly pointed out that technically, she was the one who’d made a big dent in it.

“I couldn’t help it,” I said, knowing how lame that sounded. It was as bad as Angeline’s “it’s not my fault” mantra. “Not after what happened.”

Sydney put the empty bottle on the dresser and then sat beside me on the bed. “Tell me.”

I explained about Rowena and her hand and how the rest of the day’s events had unfolded. It was difficult staying on track with the story because I kept wanting to meander and make excuses. I left out the part about despairing over birthday gifts. When I finally finished, Sydney gently rested her hand on my cheek.

“Oh, Adrian,” she said again, and this time, her voice was sad.

I rested my hand over hers. “What was I supposed to do?” I whispered. “It was like Jill all over again. Well—not quite as bad. But there she was. She needed me, and I could help—then when she noticed, I had to make sure she forgot. What else was I supposed to do? Should I have let her break her hand?”

Sydney drew me into her arms and was silent for a long time. “I don’t know. I mean, I know you couldn’t not help. It’s who you are. But I wish you hadn’t. No . . . that’s not right. I’m glad you did. Really. I just wish it wasn’t so . . . complicated.” She shook her head. “I’m not explaining it correctly. I’m no good at this.”

“You hate that, don’t you? Not knowing what to do.” I rested my head against her shoulder, catching the faint scent of her perfume. “And you hate me like this.”

“I love you,” she said. “But I worry about you. Have you ever thought about . . . I mean, didn’t Lissa take antidepressants for a while? Didn’t that help her?”

I lifted my head swiftly. “No. I can’t do that. I can’t cut myself off from the magic like that.”

“But she felt better, right?” Sydney pushed.

“She . . . yes. Kind of.” I had no problems with “liquid healing,” but pills made me squeamish. “She did feel better. She didn’t get depressed. She didn’t cut herself anymore. But she missed the magic, and so she stopped the pills. You don’t know what it’s like, that rush of spirit. Feeling like you’re in tune with every living thing in the world.”

“I might understand it better than you think,” she said.

“It’s more than that, though. She also stopped because she needed the magic back to help Rose. What if I needed it back? What if it was you who was hurt or dying?” I gripped Sydney’s shoulders, needing her to understand my desperation and how much she meant to me. “What if you needed me, and I couldn’t help you?”

She removed my hands and held them between hers, her face tranquil. “Then we deal. That’s what most people do in the world. You take your chances. I’d rather have you stable and happy than risk your sanity on the slim chance a concrete block will fall on me.”

“Could you sit by if you had the ability to help someone?”

“No. Which is why I’m trying to help you.” But I could see the conflict in her, and I understood her anxiety.

“No pills,” I said firmly. “This won’t happen again. I’ll try harder. I’ll be stronger. Have faith that I can do this on my own.”

Hesitating, she looked as though she might keep arguing the matter, but at last, she nodded in resignation. She drew me down to the bed and kissed me, even though I knew she didn’t like the taste of tequila. The kiss managed to be both tender and intense, and it reinforced that connection between us, that burning sense I always had that she was made for me, and I was made for her. I showered her with kisses, wishing I could do a lot more than that. Surely if I could just drown myself in her, I’d never need alcohol or pills of any kind.

But despite her quickened pulse and the heat in her eyes, things didn’t progress much more than they normally did. And as usual, I didn’t pressure her. She might not agree with Alchemist policies, but she’d still held on to a lot of their personal habits. Conservative clothing. No drinking. I didn’t actually know where premarital sex fell in there, but since a lot of them tended to be religious, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she adhered to that too. It had never come up between us. I figured if she was ready, she’d let me know.

“I have to go,” she said at last. “I’m only supposed to be out buying toothpaste. It was a boring enough errand that Zoe wouldn’t want to come.”

I brushed wayward golden strands away from her face. “Clarence’s tomorrow night?”

She nodded. “Wouldn’t miss it.”

I walked her to the front door. She did a double take at the ruined paintings but didn’t say anything and kept her expression neutral.

“I mean it,” I told her. “I’ll try.”

“I know,” she said. That earlier look of disappointment in her eyes still haunted me.

“I can be strong,” I added.

She smiled and stood on her tiptoes to kiss me goodbye. “You already are,” she murmured just before she disappeared into the night.

Chapter 4


THE TEARS DIDN’T START UNTIL I WAS WELL AWAY from Adrian and back in my car. I drove to Amberwood with blurred vision and wet cheeks, feeling more useless than I had in a long time. Forgetting about Hopper wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but what about next time? Spirit made its users do crazy things. They hurt themselves. They killed themselves. That was what scared me, and I wanted to control the situation before it controlled us. And that, as Adrian had astutely pointed out, was what really ate at me: my helplessness to come up with an immediate solution. It wasn’t a feeling I had very often.

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