Home > Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)(7)

Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)(7)
Author: Richelle Mead

"You can't be serious," I said. We reached the gym and stepped inside out of the cold.

Mason nodded eagerly. "It's true. The place is supposed to be amazing." He gave me the grin that always made me smile in return. "We're going to live like royalty, Rose. At least for a week or so. We take off the day after Christmas."

I stood there, both excited and stunned. I hadn't seen this coming. It really was a brilliant idea, one that let families reunite safely. And what a reunion spot! A royal ski lodge. I'd expected to spend most of my holiday break hanging out here and watching TV with Lissa and Christian. Now I'd be living it up in five-star accommodations. Lobster dinners. Massages. Cute ski instructors ...

Mason's enthusiasm was contagious. I could feel it welling up in me, and then, suddenly, it slammed to a halt.

Studying my face, he saw the change right away. "What's wrong? This is cool."

"It is," I admitted. "And I get why everyone's excited, but the reason we're getting to go to this fancy place is because, well, because people are dead. I mean, doesn't this all seem weird?"

Mason's cheery expression sobered a little. "Yeah, but we're alive, Rose. We can't stop living because other people are dead. And we have to make sure more people don't die. That's why this place is such a great idea. It's safe." His eyes turned stormy. "God, I can't wait until we're out of here in the field. After hearing about what happened, I just want to go tear apart some Strigoi. I wish we could go now, you know? There's no reason. They could use the extra help, and we pretty much know everything we need to."

The fierceness in his voice reminded me of my outburst yesterday, though he wasn't quite as worked up as I'd been. His eagerness to act was impetuous and na?ve, whereas mine had been born out of some weird, dark irrationality I still didn't entirely understand.

When I didn't respond, Mason gave me a puzzled look. "Don't you want to?"

"I don't know, Mase." I stared down at the floor, avoiding his eyes as I studied the toe of my shoe. "I mean, I don't want Strigoi out there, attacking people either. And I want to stop them in theory... but, well, we aren't even close to being ready. I've seen what they can do I don't know. Rushing in isn't the answer." I shook my head and looked back up. Good grief. I sounded so logical and cautious. I sounded like Dimitri. "It's not important since it's not going to happen anyway. I suppose we should just be excited about the trip, huh?"

Mason's moods were quick to change, and he turned easygoing once more. "Yup. And you'd better try to remember how to ski, because I'm calling you out on knocking down my ego out there. Not that it's going to happen."

I smiled again. "Boy, it sure is going to be sad when I make you cry. I kind of feel guilty already."

He opened his mouth, no doubt to deliver some smartass reply, and then caught sight of something - or rather, someone - behind me. I glanced over and saw Dimitri's tall form approaching from the other side of the gym.

Mason swept me a gallant bow. "Your lord and master. Catch you later, Hathaway. Start planning your ski strategies." He opened the door and disappeared into the frigid darkness. I turned around and joined Dimitri.

Like other dhampir novices, I spent half of my school day on one form or another of guardian training, be it actual physical combat or learning about Strigoi and how to defend against them. Novices also sometimes had practices after school. I, however, was in a unique situation.

I still stood by my decision to run away from St. Vladimir's. Victor Dashkov had posed too much of a threat to Lissa. But our extended vacation had come with consequences. Being away for two years had put me behind in my guardian classes, so the school had declared that I had to make up for it by going to extra practices before and after school.

With Dimitri.

Little did they know that they were also giving me lessons in avoiding temptation. But my attraction to him aside, I was a fast learner, and with his help, I had almost caught up to the other seniors.

Since he wasn't wearing a coat, I knew we'd be working inside today, which was good news. It was freezing out. Yet even the happiness I felt over that was nothing compared to what I felt when I saw what exactly he had set up in one of the training rooms.

There were practice dummies arranged on the far wall, dummies that looked amazingly lifelike. No straw-stuffed burlap bags here. There were men and women, wearing ordinary clothes, with rubbery skin and different hair and eye colors. Their expressions ranged from happy to scared to angry. I'd worked with these dummies before in other trainings, using them to practice kicks and punches. But I'd never worked with them while holding what Dimitri held: a silver stake.

"Sweet," I breathed.

It was identical to the one I'd found at the Badica house. It had a hand grip at the bottom, almost like a hilt without the little side flourishes. That was where its resemblance to a dagger ended. Rather than a flat blade, the stake had a thick, rounded body that narrowed to a point, kind of like an ice pick. The entire thing was a little shorter than my forearm.

Dimitri leaned casually against the wall, in an easy stance he always pulled off remarkably well, despite being almost six-seven. With one hand, he tossed the stake into the air. It spun around in a cartwheel a couple of times and then came down. He caught it hilt first.

"Please tell me I get to learn how to do that today," I said.

Amusement flashed in the dark depths of his eyes. I think he had a hard time keeping a straight face around me sometimes.

"You'll be lucky if I let you hold it today," he said. He flipped the stake into the air again. My eyes followed it longingly. I started to point out that I had already held one, but I knew that line of logic would get me nowhere.

Instead, I tossed my backpack on the floor, threw off my coat, and crossed my arms expectantly. I had on loose pants tied at the waist and a tank top with a hoodie over it. My dark hair was pulled brutally back into a ponytail. I was ready for anything.

"You want me to tell you how they work and why I should always be cautious around them," I announced.

Dimitri stopped flipping the stake and stared at me in astonishment.

"Come on," I laughed. "You don't think I know how you work by now? We've been doing this for almost three months. You always make me talk safety and responsibility before I can do anything fun."

"I see," he said. "Well, I guess you've got it all figured out. By all means, go on with the lesson. I'll just wait over here until you need me again."

He tucked the stake into a leather sheath hanging from his belt and then made himself comfortable against the wall, hands stuffed in pockets. I waited, figuring he was joking, but when he said nothing else, I realized he'd meant his words. With a shrug, I launched into what I knew.

"Silver always has powerful effects on any magical creature - it can help or hurt them if you put enough power into it. These stakes are really hard-core because it takes four different Moroi to make them, and they use each of the elements during the forging." I frowned, suddenly considering something. "Well, except spirit. So these things are supercharged and are about the only non-decapitating weapon that can do damage to a Strigoi - but to kill them, it has to be through the heart."

"Will they hurt you?"

I shook my head. "No. I mean, well, yeah, if you drive one through my heart it will, but it won't hurt me like it would a Moroi. Scratch one of them with this, and it'll hit them pretty hard - but not as hard as it'd hit a Strigoi. And they won't hurt humans, either."

I stopped for a moment and stared absentmindedly at the window behind Dimitri. Frost covered the glass in sparkling, crystalline patterns, but I hardly noticed. Mentioning humans and stakes had transported me back to the Badica house. Blood and death flashed through my thoughts.

Seeing Dimitri watching me, I shook off the memories and kept going with the lesson. Dimitri would occasionally give a nod or ask a clarifying question. As the time ticked down, I kept expecting him to tell me I was finished and could start hacking up the dummies. Instead, he waited until almost ten minutes before the end of our session before leading me over to one of them - it was a man with blond hair and a goatee. Dimitri took the stake out from its sheath but didn't hand it to me.

     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)