Home > Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)(14)

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)(14)
Author: Richelle Mead

That didn't mean I had to be silent, though. Guardians talked to Moroi all the time; they just tended to be respectful and still keep an eye on their surroundings. So I gave Jesse a small smile and simply said, "Your wit is always such a delight, Mr. Zeklos. I can barely contain myself around it." I then turned away and surveyed the rest of the room.

When Jesse realized I wasn't going to do anything else, he laughed and walked away, apparently thinking he'd won some great victory. Dustin left shortly thereafter.

"Asshole," muttered Christian, returning to his station. Class had about five minutes left.

My eyes followed Jesse across the room. "You know something, Christian? I'm pretty happy to be guarding you."

"If you're comparing me to Zeklos, I don't really take that as much of a compliment. But here, try this. Then you'll really be glad you're with me."

His masterpiece was finished, and he gave me a piece. I hadn't realized it, but just before the meatloaf had gone in, he'd wrapped it in bacon.

"Good God," I said. "This is the most stereotypical vampire food ever."

"Only if it was raw. What do you think?"

"It's good," I said reluctantly. Who knew that bacon would make all the difference? "Really good. I think you have a promising future as a housewife while Lissa works and makes millions of dollars."

"Funny, that's exactly my dream."

We left the class in lighter moods. Things had grown more friendly between us, and I decided that I could handle the next six weeks protecting him.

He and Lissa were going to meet in the library to study -  or pretend to study - but he had to stop by his dorm first. So I followed him across the quad, back into the winter air that had grown chillier since sunset seven hours ago. The snow on the paths, which had turned slushy in the sun, had now frozen up and made walking treacherous. Along the way, we were joined by Brandon Lazar, a Moroi who lived in Christian's hall. Brandon could barely contain himself, recapping a fight he'd witnessed in his math class. We listened to his rendition, all of us laughing at the thought of Alberta sneaking in through the window.

"Hey, she might be old, but she could take on almost any of us," I told them. I gave Brandon a puzzled look. He had bruises and red splotches on his face. He also had a few weird welts near his ear. "What happened to you? Have you been fighting guardians too?"

His smile promptly disappeared, and he looked away from me. "Nah, just fell."

"Come on," I said. Moroi might not train to fight like dhampirs did, but they got in brawls with each other just as often as anyone else. I tried to think of any Moroi he might have a conflict with. For the most part, Brandon was pretty likeable. "That's the lamest, most unoriginal excuse in the world."

"It's true," he said, still avoiding my eyes.

"If someone's screwing with you, I can give you a few pointers."

He turned back to me, locking eyes. "Just let it go." He wasn't hostile or anything, but there was a firm note in his voice. It was almost like he believed saying the words alone would make me obey him.

I chuckled. "What are you trying to do? Compel me - "

Suddenly, I saw movement on my left. A slight shadow blending in with the dark shapes of a cluster of snowy pine trees - but moving just enough to catch my attention. Stan's face emerged from the darkness as he sprang toward us.

Finally, my first test.

Adrenaline shot through me just as strongly as if a real Strigoi were approaching. I reacted instantly, reaching out to grab both Brandon and Christian. That was always the first move, to throw my own life before theirs. I jerked the two guys to a halt and turned toward my attacker, reaching for my stake in order to defend the Moroi -

And that's when he appeared.

Mason.

He stood several feet in front of me, off to Stan's right, looking just as he had last night. Translucent. Shimmering. Sad.

The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I froze, unable to move or finish going for my stake. I forgot about what I'd been doing and completely lost track of the people and commotion around me. The world slowed down, everything fading around me. There was only Mason - that ghostly, shimmering Mason who glowed in the dark and seemed like he so badly wanted to tell me something. The same feeling of helplessness I'd experienced in Spokane returned to me. I hadn't been able to help him then. I couldn't help him now. My stomach turned cold and hollow. I could do nothing except stand there, wondering what he was trying to say.

He lifted one translucent hand and pointed off toward the other side of campus, but I didn't know what it meant. There was so much over there, and it wasn't clear what he was pointing at. I shook my head, not understanding but desperately wishing I could. The sorrow on his face seemed to grow.

Suddenly, something slammed into my shoulder, and I stumbled forward. The world suddenly started up again, snapping me out of the dreamy state I'd just been in. I only barely managed to throw out my hands in time to stop myself from hitting the ground. I looked up and saw Stan standing over me. "Hathaway!" he barked. "What are you doing?" I blinked, still trying to shake off the weirdness of seeing Mason again. I felt sluggish and dazed. I looked into Stan's angry face and then glanced over at where Mason had been. He was gone. I turned my attention back to Stan and realized what had happened. In my distraction, I'd completely spaced while he'd staged his attack. He now had one arm around Christian's neck and one around Brandon's. He wasn't hurting them, but his point was made.

   
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