Home > Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)(5)

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)(5)
Author: Richelle Mead

The part that struck me the most - aside from the fact that he was supposed to be dead - was the look on his face. It was sad - so, so sad. Looking into his eyes, I felt my heart break. All the memories of what had taken place just a few weeks ago came rushing back to me. I saw it all again: his body falling, the cruel look on the Strigoi faces.... A lump formed in my throat. I stood there frozen, stunned and unable to move.

He studied me too, his expression never changing. Sad. Grim. Serious. He opened his mouth, like he might speak, and then closed it. Several more heavy moments hung between us, and then he lifted his hand and extended it toward me. Something in that motion snapped me out of my daze. No, this could not be happening. I wasn't seeing this. Mason was dead. I'd seen him die. I'd held his body.

His fingers moved slightly, like he was beckoning, and I panicked. Backing up a few steps, I put distance between us and waited to see what would happen. He didn't follow. He simply stood there, hand still in the air. My heart lurched, and I turned and ran. When I'd almost reached the door, I stopped and glanced back, letting my ragged breathing calm down. The clearing he'd stood in was completely empty.

I made it up to my room and slammed the door behind me, hands shaking. I sank onto my bed and replayed what had just happened.

What the hell? That had not been real. No way. Impossible. Mason was dead, and everyone knows the dead don't come back. Well, yeah, I had come back...but that was a different situation.

Clearly, I'd imagined this. That was it. It had to be. I was overtired and still reeling from Lissa and Christian, not to mention that Victor Dashkov news. Probably the cold had frozen part of my brain too. Yes, the more I thought about it, the more I decided there had to be a hundred explanations for what had just happened.

Yet, no matter how often I told myself that, I couldn't fall back asleep. I lay in my bed, covers pulled to my chin as I tried to banish that haunting image from my mind. I couldn't. All I could see were those sad, sad eyes, those eyes that seemed to say, Rose, why did you let this happen to me?

I squeezed my eyes shut, trying not to think about him. Since Mason's funeral, I'd been working so hard to go on and act like I was strong. But the truth was, I was nowhere near being over his death. I tortured myself day after day with what if? questions. What if I'd been faster and stronger during the Strigoi fight? What if I hadn't told him where the Strigoi were in the first place? And what if I'd simply been able to return his love? Any of those could have kept him alive, but none of them had happened. And it was all my fault.

"I imagined it," I whispered out loud into the darkness of my room. I had to have imagined it. Mason already haunted my dreams. I didn't need to see him when I was awake too. "It wasn't him."

It couldn't have been him, because the only way it could have been was...Well, that was something I didn't want to think about. Because while I believed in vampires and magic and psychic powers, I most certainly did not believe in ghosts.

I apparently didn't believe in sleep, either, because I didn't get much of it that night. I tossed and turned, unable to quiet my racing mind. I eventually did drift off, but it seemed like my alarm went off so soon after that I could have hardly slept for more than a few minutes.

Among humans, the light of day tends to chase off nightmares and fear. I had no such daylight; I awoke to increasing darkness. But just being out with real and living people had nearly the same effect, and as I went to breakfast and my morning practice, I found that what I'd seen last night - or what I thought I'd seen last night - was growing fainter and fainter in my memory.

The weirdness of that encounter was also being replaced by something else: excitement. This was it. The big day. The start of our field experience.

For the next six weeks, I wouldn't have any classes. I'd get to spend my days hanging out with Lissa, and the most I'd have to do was write a daily field report that was only about a half-page long. Easy. And, yeah, of course I'd be on guard duty, but I wasn't concerned. That was second nature to me. She and I had lived among humans for two years, and I'd protected her the whole time. Before that, when I'd been a freshman, I'd seen the kinds of tests the adult guardians planned for novices during this phase. The ordeals were tricky, absolutely. A novice had to be on watch and not slack - and be ready to defend and attack if necessary. None of that worried me, though. Lissa and I had been away from the school our sophomore and junior years, and I'd fallen behind then. Thanks to my extra practices with Dimitri, I'd quickly caught up and was now one of the best in my class.

"Hey, Rose."

Eddie Castile caught up to me as I walked into the gym where our field experience orientation would kick off. For a brief moment, looking at Eddie, my heart sank. Suddenly, it was like I was out in the quad again with Mason, staring at his sorrowful face.

Eddie - along with Lissa's boyfriend, Christian, and a Moroi named Mia - had been with our group when we'd been captured by Strigoi. Eddie hadn't died, obviously, but he'd come very close to it. The Strigoi who'd held us had used him as food, feeding from him throughout our capture in an effort to tease the Moroi and scare the dhampirs. It had worked; I'd been terrified. Poor Eddie had been unconscious for most of the ordeal, thanks to blood loss and the endorphins that came from a vampire's bite. He'd been Mason's best friend and nearly as funny and lighthearted.

But since we'd escaped, Eddie had changed, just like I had. He was still quick to smile and laugh, but there was a grimness to him now, a dark and serious look in his eyes that was always on guard for the worst to happen. That was understandable, of course. He pretty much had seen the worst happen. Just like with Mason's death, I held myself responsible for this transformation in Eddie and for what he'd suffered at the hands of the Strigoi. That may not have been fair to me, but I couldn't help it. I felt like I owed him now, like I needed to protect him or make things up to him somehow.

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