Home > Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)(2)

Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)(2)
Author: Richelle Mead

Days were longer during this part of summer, and darkness had only just begun to fall when we reached Dimitri's family's house. Strigoi rarely ventured into Baia itself, but they liked to stalk the roads leading into town. The fleeting rays of sunlight ensured our safety and gave Dimitri a good view of the house. Even once he'd turned off the car, he sat for a long time, gazing out at the old, two-story structure. Red and gold light bathed it, giving it the appearance of something otherworldly. I leaned over and kissed his cheek.

"Showtime, comrade. They're waiting for you."

He sat for a few moments in silence, then gave a resolute nod and put on the kind of expression I'd seen him wear into battle. We left the car and had barely made it halfway through the yard when the front door burst open. Bright light spilled into the dusky shadows, and a young female silhouette appeared.

"Dimka!"

If a Strigoi had sprung out and attacked, Dimitri would have had to respond instantly. But seeing his youngest sister stunned his lightning-fast reflexes, and he could only stand there as Viktoria flung her arms around him and began uttering a torrent of Russian words too fast for me to follow.

It took Dimitri a few more shocked moments to come to life, but then he returned her fierce embrace, answering her back in Russian. I stood there awkwardly until Viktoria noticed me. With a cry of joy, she hurried over and gave me a hug as tight as the one she'd bestowed upon her brother. I admit, I was almost as shocked as him. When we'd last parted, Viktoria and I hadn't been on good terms. I'd made it clear I didn't approve of her relationship with a certain Moroi guy. She'd made it equally clear she didn't appreciate my input. It seemed now that was all forgotten, and although I couldn't translate the words she spoke, I got the impression she was thanking me for restoring Dimitri to her.

Viktoria's exuberant arrival was followed by the rest of the Belikov family. Dimitri's other two sisters, Karolina and Sonya, joined Viktoria in embracing both him and me. Their mother was right behind them. Russian flew fast and furious. Normally, a haphazard doorstep reunion like this would've made me roll my eyes, but I found myself tearing up instead. Dimitri had been through too much. We'd all been through too much, and honestly, I don't think any of us had ever expected to be sharing this moment.

At last, Dimitri's mother, Olena, recovered herself and laughed while wiping tears from her eyes. "Come in, come in," she said, remembering that I didn't know much Russian. "Let's sit down and talk."

Through more tears and laughter, we made our way into the house and cozy living room. It too was the same as my last visit, surrounded in warm wood paneling and shelves of leather-bound books with Cyrillic titles. There, we found more of the family. Karolina's son, Paul, regarded his uncle with fascination. Paul had barely known Dimitri before he struck out into the world, and most of what the boy knew came from fantastic-sounding stories. Sitting on a blanket nearby was Paul's baby sister, and another, much tinier baby lay sleeping in a bassinet. Sonya's baby, I realized. She'd been pregnant when I'd visited earlier that summer.

I was used to always being near Dimitri's side, but this was a moment when I knew I had to yield him. He sat on the sofa, and Karolina and Sonya immediately flanked him, wearing expressions that said they were afraid to let him out of their sight. Viktoria, irked at having lost a prime seat, settled down on the floor and leaned her head against his knee. She was seventeen, only a year younger than me, but as she gazed up at him adoringly, she looked much younger. All of the siblings had brown hair and eyes, making a pretty portrait as they sat together.

Olena scurried about, certain we must be famished, and finally settled down when we assured her we were fine. She sat in a chair opposite Dimitri, her hands clasped in her lap as she leaned forward eagerly.

"This is a miracle," she said in accented English. "I didn't believe it. When I received the message, I thought it was a mistake. Or a lie." She sighed happily. "But here you are. Alive. The same."

"The same," Dimitri confirmed.

"Was the first story ..." Karolina paused, a small frown crossing her pretty features as she carefully chose her words. "Was the first story a mistake, then? You weren't truly ... truly a Strigoi?"

The word hung in the air for a moment, casting a chill over the warm summer evening. For the space of a heartbeat, I couldn't breathe. I was suddenly far away from here, trapped in a different house with a very different Dimitri. He'd been one of the undead, with chalk-white skin and red-ringed pupils. His strength and speed had far surpassed what he had now, and he'd used those skills to hunt for victims and drink their blood. He'd been terrifying-and had nearly killed me.

Books
     Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1)
     Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)
     Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)
     Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)
     Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)
     Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)
     The Meeting (Vampire Academy 0.9)      Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)