Home > The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)(9)

The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines #4)(9)
Author: Richelle Mead

“I don’t suppose it was Jetta?” I asked hopefully. Whenever I had to take on a fake name, I used Jet Steele because let’s face it, that was pretty much as badass as you could get.

“No,” she laughed. “Definitely not.”

She then wanted to hear about my night, naturally worrying that no one got fed in her absence. We talked for a long time, and although it was hard not to be distracted by her perfect lips and the edge of her shirt’s neckline, I found I liked having these dream conversations. I certainly didn’t mind our afternoon make-out sessions, but I actually had originally fallen for Sydney because of her mind.

As usual, she was the responsible one who noticed the time. “Oh, Adrian. It’s time for bed.”

I leaned toward her. “Is that an invitation?”

She lightly pushed me away. “You know what I mean. You’re never in good shape when you’re exhausted.” It was a polite way of saying that being worn out made me susceptible to spirit’s attacks on my sanity, which I couldn’t argue with. I could also tell from the uneasy look in her eyes that she wasn’t thrilled about the use of spirit this dream involved either.

“Think you can get away tomorrow?” Weekends were always difficult because Zoe trailed her like a shadow.

“I don’t know. I’ll see what I can—oh, God.”

“What?”

She put a hand to her forehead and groaned. “Hopper. I left him at that witch’s house. He was running around during the party, and I was so out of it after Mom called that I just walked right out the door with Ms. Terwilliger.”

I took hold of her hand and squeezed it. “Don’t worry. He’ll be fine. Wild night on the town, staying out with an older woman. Warms my heart.”

“So glad you’re a proud dad. The problem is getting him home. I might be able to sneak out and see you later tomorrow, but I don’t think I’ve got enough time to get out there. And I think Ms. Terwilliger’s busy too.”

“Hey,” I said, feeling mildly indignant. “You just assume if you and Jackie can’t do it, it’s a lost cause? I’ll go rescue him. If he wants to leave.”

She brightened. “That’d be great. But I thought you had your art project.”

It was such a small thing I was offering, no effort at all, really, and it warmed my heart to see how much it meant to her. Sydney was so often forced to be the responsible one who had to handle every single detail that I think it was an almost shocking surprise that someone might run an errand for her. “I’ll have time afterward. She won’t be freaked out about a vampire coming by, will she?”

“No. Just don’t elaborate on your parental role.” She gave me a light kiss, but I craftily pulled her closer and made it a much, much longer one. When we finally broke away, we were both breathless.

“Good night, Adrian,” she said pointedly.

I took the hint, and the dream faded around us.

Back at my apartment, I indulged in my one daily drink, hoping it would send me to a quick slumber. No such luck. In the old days, it usually took at least three before I’d pass out in drunken oblivion. Now, my fingers lingered on the vodka bottle as I teetered on the edge of getting a refill. I missed it. Badly. Aside from the bliss of the buzz, alcohol could numb out spirit for a little while, and although the magic was a pleasant addiction, a reprieve from it was nice. Self-medicating had fended off a lot of spirit’s negative effects for years, but this new deal was letting it start to gain ground.

A few more moments passed, and I pulled my hand back, clenching it into a fist. I retired to my bed, throwing myself onto it and burying my face in the pillow. It smelled faintly of jasmine and carnation from a perfume oil I’d recently gotten Sydney. She wasn’t a perfume fan in general, claiming the chemicals and alcohol weren’t healthy. But she couldn’t argue against the pure, all-natural blend I’d found, especially when she’d heard the price. She was too pragmatic to let something like that go to waste.

I closed my eyes and wished she was with me—not even for sex, but just for the comfort of her presence. Considering the danger in our brief afternoons, a night together probably wasn’t going to happen anytime soon, which was a damned shame. Surely I’d sleep better if I had her with me. It was frustrating because I really was exhausted in body, but my spinning mind refused to settle down.

I finally fell asleep an hour and a half later, only to be awakened by my alarm four hours after that. I stayed in bed, staring bleary-eyed at the ceiling, wondering if I could possibly cancel the meeting I’d set up with a classmate to work on a project. Seriously, what had I been thinking? Eight on a Saturday? Maybe I was closer to madness than I feared.

At least we were meeting in a coffee shop. Unlike my lovely soul mate, I had no restrictions on caffeine and ordered the biggest cup of drip they could manage. The barista assured me there was more where that came from. Across the room, my partner watched with amusement as I approached her table.

“Well, hey there, sunshine. Nice to see you all bright eyed and ready to start the day.”

I held up a warning hand as I sat down. “Stop right there. It’s going to take at least another cup of this before you become charming and witty.”

She grinned. “Nah, I always am, day or night.”

Rowena Clark and I had met on the first day of our mixed media class. I’d sat down at her table and said, “Mind if I join you? Figure the best way to learn about art is to sit with a masterpiece.” Maybe I was in love, but I was still Adrian Ivashkov.

Rowena had fixed me with a flat look. “Let’s get one thing straight. I can see through bullshit a mile away, and I like girls, not guys, so if you can’t handle me telling you what’s what, then you’d better take your one-liners and hair gel somewhere else. I don’t go to this school to put up with pretty boys like you. I’m here to face dubious employment options with a painting degree and then go get a Guinness after class.”

I’d scooted my chair closer to the table. “You and I are going to get along just fine.”

And we had, enough so that we’d partnered up for a project on outdoor sculpture. We’d have to head over to campus to work on it soon but first needed to finalize the sketch we’d started in a pub after class earlier this week. I’d given up my bedtime drink to have a beer with her, and while it hadn’t had much effect on me, Rowena had proven to be a total lightweight. Our sketch hadn’t gotten very far.

   
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