Home > Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)(2)

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)(2)
Author: Richelle Mead

No, Lissa didn't understand any of that. She didn't have to. She could carry on with her own romantic affairs, with no regard for what she was doing to me.

I noticed then that I was breathing heavily again, this time with rage. The icky feeling I'd felt over Lissa and Christian's late-night hookup was gone. It had been replaced by anger and jealousy, feelings born of what I couldn't have and what came so easily to her. I tried my best to swallow those emotions back; I didn't want to feel that way toward my best friend.

"Are you sleepwalking?" a voice asked behind me.

I spun around, startled. Dimitri stood there watching me, looking both amused and curious. It would figure that while I was raging over the problems in my unfair love life, the source of those problems would be the one to find me. I hadn't heard him approach at all. So much for my ninja skills. And honestly, would it have killed me to pick up a brush before I went outside? Hastily, I ran a hand through my long hair, knowing it was a little too late. It probably looked like an animal had died on top of my head.

"I was testing dorm security," I said. "It sucks."

A hint of a smile played over his lips. The cold was really starting to seep into me now, and I couldn't help but notice how warm his long leather coat looked. I wouldn't have minded wrapping up in it.

As though reading my mind, he said, "You must be freezing. Do you want my coat?"

I shook my head, deciding not to mention that I couldn't feel my feet. "I'm fine. What are you doing out here? Are you testing security too?"

"I am security. This is my watch." Shifts of school guardians always patrolled the grounds while everyone else slept. Strigoi, the undead vampires who stalked living Moroi vampires like Lissa, didn't come out in sunlight, but students breaking rules - say, like, sneaking out of their dorms - were a problem night and day.

"Well, good work," I said. "I'm glad I was able to help test your awesome skills. I should be going now."

"Rose - " Dimitri's hand caught my arm, and despite all the wind and chill and slush, a flash of heat shot through me. He released me with a start, as though he too had been burned. "What are you really doing out here?"

He was using the stop fooling around voice, so I gave him as truthful an answer as I could. "I had a bad dream. I wanted some air."

"And so you just rushed out. Breaking the rules didn't even cross your mind - and neither did putting on a coat."

"Yeah," I said. "That pretty much sums it up."

"Rose, Rose." This time it was his exasperated voice. "You never change. Always jumping in without thinking."

"That's not true," I protested. "I've changed a lot."

The amusement on his face suddenly faded, his expression growing troubled. He studied me for several moments. Sometimes I felt as though those eyes could see right into my soul. "You're right. You have changed."

He didn't seem very happy about the admission. He was probably thinking about what had happened almost three weeks ago, when some friends and I had gotten ourselves captured by Strigoi. It was only through sheer luck that we'd managed to escape - and not all of us had gotten out. Mason, a good friend and a guy who'd been crazy about me, had been killed, and part of me would never forgive myself for it, even though I'd killed his murderers.

It had given me a darker outlook on life. Well, it had given everyone here at St. Vladimir's Academy a darker outlook, but me especially. Others had begun to notice the difference in me. I didn't like to see Dimitri concerned, though, so I played off his observation with a joke.

"Well, don't worry. My birthday's coming up. As soon as I'm eighteen, I'll be an adult, right? I'm sure I'll wake up that morning and be all mature and stuff."

As I'd hoped, his frown softened into a small smile. "Yes, I'm sure. What is it, about a month?"

"Thirty-one days," I announced primly.

"Not that you're counting."

I shrugged, and he laughed.

"I suppose you've made a birthday list too. Ten pages? Single-spaced? Ranked by order of priority?" The smile was still on his face. It was one of the relaxed, genuinely amused ones that were so rare to him.

I started to make another joke, but the image of Lissa and Christian flared into my mind again. That sad and empty feeling in my stomach returned. Anything I might have wanted -  new clothes, an iPod, whatever - suddenly seemed trivial. What did material things like that mean compared to the one thing I wanted most of all? God, I really had changed.

"No," I said in a small voice. "No list."

He tilted his head to better look at me, making some of his shoulder-length hair blow into his face. His hair was brown, like mine, but not nearly as dark. Mine looked black at times. He brushed the unruly strands aside, only to have them immediately blow back into his face. "I can't believe you don't want anything. It's going to be a boring birthday."

Freedom, I thought. That was the only gift I longed for. Freedom to make my own choices. Freedom to love who I wanted.

"It doesn't matter," I said instead.

"What do you - " He stopped. He understood. He always did. It was part of why we connected like we did, in spite of the seven-year gap in our ages. We'd fallen for each other last fall when he'd been my combat instructor. As things heated up between us, we'd found we had more things to worry about than just age. We were both going to be protecting Lissa when she graduated, and we couldn't let our feelings for each other distract us when she was our priority.

   
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