Home > Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)(10)

Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)(10)
Author: Richelle Mead

I stared at him in bewilderment. "Are you serious? Since when is there anything wrong with asking questions?"

"Your attitude is what's wrong." He pointed at the door. "Go."

A silence heavier and deeper than when my mother had told her story descended over everyone. I did my best not to cower under the stares of guardians and novices alike. This wasn't the first time I'd been kicked out of Stan's class. It wasn't even the first time I'd been kicked out of Stan's class while Dimitri was watching. Slinging my backpack over my shoulder, I crossed the short distance to the door - a distance that felt like miles - and refused to make eye contact with my mother as I passed.

About five minutes before the class let out, she slipped out of the room and walked over to where I sat in the hallway. Looking down on me, she put her hands on her h*ps in that annoying way that made her seem taller than she was. It wasn't fair that someone over half a foot shorter than me could make me feel so small.

"Well. I see your manners haven't improved over the years."

I stood up and felt a glare snap into place. "Nice to see you too. I'm surprised you even recognized me. In fact, I didn't even think you remembered me, seeing as how you never bothered to let me know you were on campus."

She shifted her hands from her h*ps and crossed her arms across her chest, becoming - if possible - even more impassive. "I couldn't neglect my duty to come coddle you."

"Coddle?" I asked. This woman had never coddled me in her life. I couldn't believe she even knew the word.

"I wouldn't expect you to understand. From what I hear, you don't really know what 'duty' is."

"I know exactly what it is," I retorted. My voice was intentionally haughty. "Better than most people."

Her eyes widened in a sort of mock surprise. I used that sarcastic look on a lot of people and didn't appreciate having it directed toward me. "Oh really? Where were you for the last two years?"

"Where were you for the last five?" I demanded. "Would you have known I was gone if someone hadn't told you?"

"Don't turn this back on me. I was away because I had to be. You were away so you could go shopping and stay up late."

My hurt and embarrassment morphed into pure fury. Apparently, I was never going to live down the consequences of running away with Lissa.

"You have no idea why I left," I said, my voice's volume rising. "And you have no right to make assumptions about my life when you don't know anything about it."

"I've read reports about what happened. You had reason for concern, but you acted incorrectly." Her words were formal and crisp. She could have been teaching one of my classes. "You should have gone to others for help."

"There was no one I could go to - not when I didn't have hard proof. Besides, we've been learning that we're supposed to think independently."

"Yes," she replied. "Emphasis on learning. Something you missed out on for two years. You're hardly in a position to lecture me about guardian protocol."

I wound up in arguments all the time; something in my nature made that inevitable. So I was used to defending myself and having insults slammed at me. I had a tough skin. But somehow, around her - in the brief times I had been around her - I always felt like I was three years old. Her attitude humiliated me, and touching on my missed training -  already a prickly subject - only made me feel worse. I crossed my arms in a fair imitation of her own stance and managed a smug look.

"Yeah? Well, that's not what my teachers think. Even after missing all that time, I've still caught up with everyone else in my class."

She didn't answer right away. Finally, in a flat voice, she said, "If you hadn't left, you would have surpassed them."

Turning military-style, she walked off down the hall. A minute later, the bell rang, and the rest of Stan's class spilled into the hall.

Even Mason couldn't cheer me up after that. I spent the rest of the day angry and annoyed, sure that everyone was whispering about my mother and me. I skipped lunch and went to the library to read a book about physiology and anatomy.

When it was time for my after-school training with Dimitri, I practically ran up to the practice dummy. With a curled fist, I slapped its chest, very slightly to the left but mostly in the center.

"There," I told him. "The heart is there, and the sternum and ribs are in the way. Can I have the stake now?"

Crossing my arms, I glanced up at him triumphantly, waiting for him to shower me with praise for my new cunning. Instead, he simply nodded in acknowledgment, like I should already have known that. And yeah, I should have.

"And how do you get through the sternum and the ribs?" he asked.

I sighed. I'd figured out the answer to one question, only to be given another. Typical.

We spent a large part of the practice going over that, and he demonstrated several techniques that would yield the quickest kill. Every movement he made was both graceful and deadly. He made it look effortless, but I knew better.

When he suddenly extended his hand and offered the stake to me, I didn't understand at first. "You're giving it to me?"

His eyes sparkled. "I can't believe you're holding back. I figured you'd have taken it and run by now."

"Aren't you always teaching me to hold back?" I asked.

"Not on everything."

"But on some things."

I heard the double meaning in my voice and wondered where it had come from. I'd accepted a while ago that there were too many reasons for me to even think about him romantically anymore. Every once in a while, I slipped a little and kind of wished he would too. It'd have been nice to know that he still wanted me, that I still drove him crazy. Studying him now, I realized he might not ever slip because I didn't drive him crazy anymore. It was a depressing thought.

"Of course," he said, showing no indication we'd discussed anything other than class matters. "It's like everything else. Balance. Know which things to run forward with - and know which to leave alone." He placed a heavy emphasis on that last statement.

Our eyes met briefly, and I felt electricity race through me. He did know what I was talking about. And like always, he was ignoring it and being my teacher - which is exactly what he should have been doing. With a sigh, I pushed my feelings for him out of my head and tried to remember that I was about to touch the weapon I'd been longing for since childhood. The memory of the Badica house came back to me yet again. The Strigoi were out there. I needed to focus.

Hesitantly, almost reverentially, I reached out and curled my fingers around the hilt. The metal was cool and tingled against my skin. It was etched along the hilt for better grip, but in trailing my fingers over the rest of it, I found the surface to be as smooth as glass. I lifted it from his hand and brought it to me, taking a long time to study it and get used to its weight. An anxious part of me wanted to turn around and impale all of the dummies, but instead I looked up at Dimitri and asked, "What should I do first?"

In his typical way, he covered basics first, honing the way I held and moved with the stake. Later on, he finally let me attack one of the dummies, at which point I did indeed discover it was not effortless. Evolution had done a smart thing in protecting the heart with the sternum and ribs. Yet through it all, Dimitri never faltered in diligence and patience, guiding me through every step and correcting the finest details.

"Slide up through the ribs," he explained, watching me try to fit the stake's point through a gap in the bones. "It'll be easier since you're shorter than most of your attackers. Plus, you can slide along the lower rib's edge."

When practice ended, he took the stake back and nodded his approval.

"Good. Very good."

I glanced at him in surprise. He didn't usually hand out a lot of praise.

"Really?"

"You do it like you've been doing it for years."

I felt a delighted grin creep over my face as we started leaving the practice room. When we neared the door, I noticed a dummy with curly red hair. Suddenly, all the events from Stan's class came tumbling back into my head. I scowled.

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)