Home > Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)(11)

Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)(11)
Author: Richelle Mead

"Can I stake that one next time?"

He picked up his coat and put it on. It was long and brown, made of distressed leather. It looked very much like a cowboy duster, though he'd never admit to it. He had a secret fascination with the Old West. I didn't really understand it, but then, I didn't get his weird musical preferences either.

"I don't think that'd be healthy," he said.

"It'd be better than me actually doing it to her," I grumbled, slinging my backpack over one shoulder. We headed out to the gym.

"Violence isn't the answer to your problems," he said sagely.

"She's the one with the problem. And I thought the whole point of my education was that violence is the answer."

"Only to those who bring it to you first. Your mother isn't assaulting you. You two are just too much alike, that's all."

I stopped walking. "I'm not anything like her! I mean...we kind of have the same eyes. But I'm a lot taller. And my hair's completely different." I pointed to my pony tail, just in case he wasn't aware that my thick brown-black hair didn't look like my mother's auburn curls.

He still had kind of an amused expression, but there was something hard in his eyes too. "I'm not talking about your appearances, and you know it."

I looked away from that knowing gaze. My attraction to Dimitri had started almost as soon as we'd met - and it wasn't just because he was so hot, either. I felt like he understood part of me that I didn't understand myself, and sometimes I was pretty sure I understood parts of him that he didn't understand either.

The only problem was that he had the annoying tendency to point out things about myself I didn't want to understand.

"You think I'm jealous?"

"Are you?" he asked. I hated it when he answered my questions with questions. "If so, what are you jealous of exactly?"

I glanced back at Dimitri. "I don't know. Maybe I'm jealous of her reputation. Maybe I'm jealous because she's put more time into her reputation than into me. I don't know."

"You don't think what she did was great?"

"Yes. No. I don't know. It just sounded like such a ... I don't know...like she was bragging. Like she did it for the glory." I grimaced. "For the marks." Molnija marks were tattoos awarded to guardians when they killed Strigoi. Each one looked like a tiny x made of lightning bolts. They went on the backs of our necks and showed how experienced a guardian was.

"You think facing down Strigoi is worth a few marks? I thought you'd learned something from the Badica house."

I felt stupid. "That's not what I - "

"Come on."

I stopped walking. "What?"

We'd been heading toward my dorm, but now he nodded his head toward the opposite side of campus. "I want to show you something."

"What is it?"

"That not all marks are badges of honor."

Five

I HAD NO IDEA WHAT Dimitri was talking about, but I followed along obediently.

To my surprise, he led me out of the boundaries of the campus and into the surrounding woods. The Academy owned a lot of land, not all of which was actively used for educational purposes. We were in a remote part of Montana, and at times, it seemed as though the school was just barely holding back the wilderness.

We walked quietly for a while, our feet crunching through thick, unbroken snow. A few birds flitted by, singing their greetings to the rising sun, but mostly all I saw were scraggly, snow-heavy evergreen trees. I had to work to keep up with Dimitri's longer stride, particularly since the snow slowed me down a little. Soon, I discerned a large, dark shape ahead. Some kind of building.

"What is that?" I asked. Before he could answer, I realized it was a small cabin, made out of logs and everything. Closer examination showed that the logs looked worn and rotten in some places. The roof sagged a little.

"Old watch-post," he said. "Guardians used to live on the edge of campus and keep watch for Strigoi."

"Why don't they anymore?"

"We don't have enough guardians to staff it. Besides, Moroi have warded campus with enough protective magic that most don't think it's necessary to have actual people on guard." Provided no humans staked the wards, I thought.

For a few brief moments, I entertained the hope that Dimitri was leading me off to some romantic getaway. Then I heard voices on the opposite side of the building. A familiar hum of feeling coursed into my mind. Lissa was there.

Dimitri and I rounded the corner of the building, coming up on a surprising scene. A small frozen pond lay there, and Christian and Lissa were ice skating on it. A woman I didn't know was with them, but her back was to me. All I could see was a wave of jet-black hair that arced around her when she skated to a graceful stop.

Lissa grinned when she saw me. "Rose!" Christian glanced over at me as she spoke, and I got the distinct impression he felt I was intruding on their romantic moment.

Lissa moved in awkward strides to the pond's edge. She wasn't so adept at skating.

I could only stare in bewilderment - and jealousy. "Thanks for inviting me to the party."

"I figured you were busy," she said. "And this is secret anyway. We aren't supposed to be here." I could have told them that.

Christian skated up beside her, and the strange woman soon followed. "You bringing party crashers, Dimka?" she asked.

I wondered who she was talking to, until I heard Dimitri laugh. He didn't do it that often, and my surprise increased. "It's impossible to keep Rose away from places she shouldn't be. She always finds them eventually."

The woman grinned and turned around, flipping her long hair over one shoulder, so that I suddenly saw her face full-on. It took every ounce of my already dubiously held self-control not to react. Her heart-shaped face had large eyes exactly the same shade as Christian's, a pale wintry blue. The lips that smiled at me were delicate and lovely, glossed in a shade of pink that set off the rest of her features.

But across her left cheek, marring what would have otherwise been smooth, white skin were raised, purplish scars. Their shape and formation looked very much like someone had bitten into and torn out part of her cheek. Which, I realized, was exactly what had happened.

I swallowed. I suddenly knew who this was. It was Christian's aunt. When his parents had turned Strigoi, they'd come back for him, hoping to hide him away and turn him Strigoi when he was older. I didn't know all the details, but I knew his aunt had fended them off. As I'd observed before, though, Strigoi were deadly. She'd provided enough of a distraction until the guardians showed up, but she hadn't walked away without damage.

She extended her gloved hand to me. "Tasha Ozera," she said. "I've heard a lot about you, Rose."

I gave Christian a dangerous look, and Tasha laughed.

"Don't worry," she said. "It was all good."

"No, it wasn't," he countered.

She shook her head in exasperation. "Honestly, I don't know where he got such horrible social skills. He didn't learn them from me." That was obvious, I thought.

"What are you guys doing out here?" I asked.

"I wanted to spend some time with these two." A small frown wrinkled her forehead. "But I don't really like hanging around the school itself. They aren't always hospitable...."

I didn't get that at first. School officials usually fell all over themselves when royals came to visit. Then I figured it out.

"Because ... because of what happened ..."

Considering the way everyone treated Christian because of his parents, I shouldn't have been surprised to find his aunt facing the same discrimination.

Tasha shrugged. "That's the way it is." She rubbed her hands together and exhaled, her breath making a frosty cloud in the air. "But let's not stand out here, not when we can build a fire inside."

I gave a last, wistful glance at the frozen pond and then followed the others inside. The cabin was pretty bare, covered in layers of dust and dirt. It consisted of only one room. There was a narrow bed with no covers in the corner and a few shelves where food had probably once been stored. There was a fireplace, however, and we soon had a blaze going that warmed the small area. The five of us sat down, huddling around its heat, and Tasha produced a bag of marshmallows that we cooked over the flames.

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)