Home > The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)(5)

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)(5)
Author: Richelle Mead

Angeline’s gaze swiveled to Zoe. “Why didn’t you have us pick up something?”

“Because that’s not my job!” Zoe lifted her head up high. “We’re here to keep Jill’s cover and make sure she stays off the radar. It’s not my job to feed you guys.”

“In which sense?” I asked. I knew perfectly well that was a mean thing to say to her but couldn’t resist. It took her a moment to pick up the double meaning. First she paled; then she turned an angry red.

“Neither! I’m not your concierge. Neither is Sydney. I don’t know why she always takes care of that stuff for you. She should only be dealing with things that are essential for your survival. Ordering pizza isn’t one of them.”

I faked a yawn and leaned back into the couch. “Maybe she figures if we’re well fed, you two won’t look that appetizing.”

Zoe was too horrified to respond, and Eddie shot me a withering look. “Enough. It’s not that hard to order pizza. I’ll do it.”

Jill was back by the time he finished the call, an amused smile on her face. She’d apparently witnessed the exchange. The bond wasn’t on all the time, but it appeared to be going strong today. With the food dilemma settled, we actually managed to fall into a surprising camaraderie—well, everyone except Zoe, who just watched and waited. Things were unexpectedly cordial between Angeline and Eddie, despite a recent and disastrous bout of dating. She’d moved on and now pretended to be obsessed with Neil. If Eddie was still hurt, he didn’t show it, but that was typical of him. Sydney said he was secretly in love with Jill, something else he was good at hiding.

I could’ve approved of that, but Jill, like Angeline, kept pretending she was in love with Neil. It was all an act for both girls, but no one—not even Sydney—believed me.

“Are you okay with what we ordered?” Angeline asked him. “You didn’t pipe up with any requests.”

Neil shook his head, face stoic. He kept his dark hair in a painfully short and efficient haircut. It was the kind of no-nonsense thing the Alchemists would’ve loved. “I can’t waste time quibbling over trivial things like pepperoni and mushrooms. If you’d gone to my school in Devonshire, you’d understand. For one of my sophomore classes, they left us alone on the moors to fend for ourselves and learn survival skills. Spend three days eating twigs and heather, and you’ll learn not to argue about any food coming your way.”

Angeline and Jill cooed as though that was the most rugged, manly thing they’d ever heard. Eddie wore an expression that reflected what I felt, puzzling over whether this guy was as serious as he seemed or just some genius with swoon-worthy lines.

Zoe’s cell phone rang. She looked at the display and jumped up in alarm. “It’s Dad.” Without a backward glance, she answered and scurried out of the room.

I wasn’t one for premonition, but a chill ran down my spine. The Sage dad wasn’t the kind of warm and friendly guy who’d call to say hello during business hours, when he knew Zoe was doing her Alchemist thing. If something was up with her, something was up with Sydney. And that worried me.

I barely paid any attention to the rest of the conversation as I counted the moments until Zoe’s return. When she did finally come back, her ashen face told me I was right. Something bad had happened.

“What is it?” I demanded. “Is Sydney okay?” Too late I realized I shouldn’t have showed any special concern for Sydney. Not even our friends knew about me and her. Fortunately, all attention was on Zoe.

She slowly shook her head, eyes wide and disbelieving. “I . . . I don’t know. It’s my parents. They’re getting divorced.”

Chapter 2

SYDNEY

I DIDN’T REALLY EXPECT A SECRET INITIATION into a witches’ coven to start off with a tea party.

“Would you pass the ladyfingers, dear?”

I quickly grabbed the china plate from the coffee table and handed it over to Maude, one of the senior witches in the group and our hostess for the night. We sat in a circle of folding chairs in her immaculate living room, and my history teacher, Ms. Terwilliger, was beside me munching on a cucumber sandwich. I was too nervous to say anything and simply drank my tea as the others chatted about light topics. Maude was serving herbal tea, so I didn’t have to worry about breaking my caffeine deal with Adrian. Not that I would’ve minded having an excuse if she had been serving black.

There were seven of us gathered, and although they would allow any number of worthy candidates into their group, they all seemed especially pleased to have a prime number. It was lucky, Maude insisted. Occasionally, Hopper would stick his head up and then go scurrying under furniture. Since witches didn’t blink an eye at callistanas, I’d let him come out tonight.

Someone brought up the pros and cons of winter versus summer initiations, and I found my mind wandering. I wondered how things were going over at Clarence’s. I’d been responsible for transporting Jill to her feedings since September, and it made me feel strange (and a little wistful) to be here while all of them were gathered and having a good time. With a pang, I suddenly realized I hadn’t made any arrangements for dinner. Adrian had simply been the driver, so I hadn’t thought to say anything. Would Zoe have taken charge? Probably not. I pushed down the motherly instincts within me that worried they’d all starve to death. Surely someone was capable of getting food.

Thinking of Adrian brought back the golden memories of our time together this afternoon. Even hours later, I could still feel where he’d kissed me. I took a deep breath to help me get a grip, fearful that my soon-to-be sisters would realize magic was the last thing on my mind right now. Actually, these days, it seemed like everything except getting half-naked with Adrian was the last thing on my mind. After a lifetime of praising myself for stoically adhering to mind over matter, I was kind of astonished that someone as cerebral as me would take to physical activity as quickly as I had. Sometimes I tried to rationalize it as a natural animal response. But really, I just had to face the truth: My boyfriend was insanely sexy, vampire or not, and I couldn’t keep my hands off him.

I realized then that someone had asked me a question. Reluctantly, I blinked away thoughts of Adrian unbuttoning my shirt and tuned in to the speaker. It took me a moment to recall her name. Trina, that was it. She was in her mid-twenties, the youngest person here, aside from me.

   
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