Home > Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)(5)

Homecoming (Vampire Academy #6.5)(5)
Author: Richelle Mead

The guests began arriving early. Of course, the Belikov women had been up and awake even earlier-far earlier than Dimitri and me, who were still coping with the time change. The kitchen was a flurry of activity, filling the house with all sorts of mouth-watering scents. Admittedly, Russian food wasn't my favorite cuisine, but there were a few dishes-especially ones Olena made-that I'd grown attached to. She and her daughters baked and cooked enormous quantities of everything, which seemed excessive since almost every person who stopped by also brought a dish to share. The experience was a mirror of Dimitri's memorial service, save that the mood was understandably more upbeat.

At first, there was a little awkwardness on everyone's part. Despite his resolve to focus on the positive, Dimitri still had a little trouble getting over the fact that his Strigoi time was the central focus. Some of the guests were equally nervous, as though maybe the rest of us had made a terrible mistake and he really was still a bloodthirsty undead creature. Of course, you only had to spend about five minutes with him to know that wasn't true, and soon the tension melted away. Dimitri knew almost everyone from his childhood and grew more and more delighted to see familiar faces. They in turn were more than happy to rejoice in his being saved.

I watched a lot of this from the sidelines. I'd met many of the visitors before, and while several greeted me, it was clear Dimitri took center stage. Most of the conversation was in Russian too, but it was enough for me to simply watch his face. Once he settled into being among his old friends and family, a quiet joy spread over him. The tension that always seemed to crackle through his body eased a little, and my heart melted to see him at such a moment.

"Rose?"

I'd been watching with amusement while some children interrogated him very seriously. Turning at the sound of my name, I was surprised to find two familiar and welcome faces.

"Mark, Oksana!" I exclaimed, embracing the couple. "I didn't know you'd be here."

"How could we not?" asked Oksana. She was Moroi, nearly thirty years older than me but still very beautiful. She was also one of the few spirit users I knew about. Beside her, her husband Mark smiled down at me. He was a dhampir, which made their relationship scandalous and was why they tended to keep to themselves. Oksana had used her spirit powers to bring Mark back after he was killed in a fight, a feat of healing that rivaled Dimitri's return from the Strigoi. It was called being shadow-kissed.

"We wanted to see you again," Mark told me. He inclined his head toward Dimitri. "And of course, we wanted to see the miracle for ourselves."

"You did it," said Oksana, her gentle face filled with wonder. "You saved him after all."

"And not how I originally intended either," I remarked. When I'd last come to Russia, my goal had been to hunt and kill Dimitri, in order to save his soul from that dark state. I hadn't known then that there was an alternative.

Oksana was understandably curious about the role of spirit in Dimitri's salvation, and I gave her as much information as I was able to. Time flew by. The day gave way to early evening, and people began breaking out the lethal vodka that had been my downfall last time. Mark and Oksana were teasing me about giving it another try, when a new voice suddenly got my attention. The voice's owner wasn't speaking to me, but I was immediately able to pick him out over the hum of the now-crowded house-because he was speaking English.

"Olena? Olena? Where are you? We need to talk about the Blood King."

Following the voice, I soon spotted a guy about five years older than me trying to squeeze his way through the crowd to where Olena stood near her son. Most paid little attention to him, but a few paused and regarded him with a surprise that I shared. He was human-the only human here, from what I could tell. Humans and dhampirs looked virtually indistinguishable from each other, but it was an ability of my race to be able to tell each other apart.

"Olena." Breathless, the human guy reached Olena and gave me my first clear view of him. He had neatly trimmed black hair and wore a very prim gray suit that somehow enhanced his gangly build. When he turned his head a certain way, the light caught one of his cheeks, revealing a golden lily tattoo. And that's what explained his presence. He was an Alchemist.

Olena had been chatting with a neighbor woman and finally turned when the Alchemist said her name three more times. Dimitri's mother remained smiling and pleasant, but I caught the faintest glimpse of exasperation in her eyes.

"Henry," she said. "How nice to see you again."

Chapter 3

He adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses. "We need to talk about the Blood King." The more he spoke, the more I could pick out a faint accent. He was British, not American like 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)