Home > Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)(8)

Frostbite (Vampire Academy #2)(8)
Author: Richelle Mead

"Where are you going to put this?" he asked.

"In the heart," I replied irritably. "I already told you that like a hundred times. Can I have it now?"

He allowed himself a smile. "Where's the heart?"

I gave him an are-you-serious look. He merely shrugged.

With overdramatic emphasis, I pointed to the left side of the dummy's chest. Dimitri shook his head.

"That's not where the heart is," he told me.

"Sure it is. People put their hands over their hearts when they say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the national anthem."

He continued to stare at me expectantly.

I turned back to the dummy and studied it. In the back of my brain, I remembered learning CPR and where we had to place our hands. I tapped the center of the dummy's chest.

"Is it here?"

He arched an eyebrow. Normally I thought that was cool. Today it was just annoying. "I don't know," he said. "Is it?"

"That's what I'm asking you!"

"You shouldn't have to ask me. Don't you all have to take physiology?"

"Yeah. Junior year. I was on 'vacation,' remember?" I pointed to the gleaming stake. "Can I please touch it now?"

He flipped the stake again, letting it flash in the light, and then it disappeared in the sheath. "I want you to tell me where the heart is the next time we meet. Exactly where. And I want to know what's in the way of it too."

I gave him my fiercest glare, which - judging from his expression - must not have been that fierce. Nine out of ten times, I thought Dimitri was the sexiest thing walking the earth. Then, there were times like this ...

I headed off to first period, a combat class, in a bad mood. I didn't like looking incompetent in front of Dimitri, and I'd really, really wanted to use one of those stakes. So in class I took out my annoyance on anyone I could punch or kick. By the end of class, no one wanted to spar with me. I'd accidentally hit Meredith - one of the few other girls in my class - so hard that she'd felt it through her shin padding. She was going to have an ugly bruise and kept looking at me as though I'd done it on purpose. I apologized to no avail.

Afterward, Mason found me once again. "Oh, man," he said, studying my face. "Who pissed you off?"

I immediately launched into my tale of silver stake and heart woes.

To my annoyance, he laughed. "How do you not know where the heart is? Especially considering how many of them you've broken?"

I gave him the same ferocious look I'd given Dimitri. This time, it worked. Mason's face paled.

"Belikov is a sick, evil man who should be thrown into a pit of rabid vipers for the great offense he committed against you this morning."

"Thank you." I said primly. Then, I considered. "Can vipers be rabid?"

"I don't see why not. Everything can be. I think." He held the hallway door open for me. "Canadian geese might be worse than vipers, though."

I gave him a sidelong look. "Canadian geese are deadlier than vipers?"

"You ever tried to feed those little bastards?" he asked, attempting seriousness and failing. "They're vicious. You get thrown to vipers, you die quickly. But the geese? That'll go on for days. More suffering."

"Wow. I don't know whether I should be impressed or frightened that you've thought about all this," I remarked.

"Just trying to find creative ways to avenge your honor, that's all."

"You just never struck me as the creative type, Mase."

We stood just outside our second-period classroom. Mason's expression was still light and joking, but there was a suggestive note in his voice when he spoke again. "Rose, when I'm around you, I think of all sorts of creative things to do."

I was still giggling about the vipers and abruptly stopped, staring at him in surprise. I'd always thought Mason was cute, but with that serious, smoky look in his eyes, it suddenly occurred to me for the first time that he was actually kind of sexy.

"Oh, look at that," he laughed, noticing how much he'd caught me off guard. "Rose gets rendered speechless. Ashford 1, Hathaway 0."

"Hey, I don't want to make you cry before the trip. It won't be any fun if I've already broken you before we even hit the slopes."

He laughed, and we stepped into the room. This was a class on bodyguard theory, one that took place in an actual classroom instead of the practice field. It was a nice break from all the physical exertion. Today, there were three guardians standing at the front who weren't from the school's regiment. Holiday visitors, I realized. Parents and their guardians had already started coming to campus to accompany their children to the ski resort. My interest was piqued immediately.

One of the guests was a tall guy who looked like he was about a hundred years old but could still kick major ass. The other guy was about Dimitri's age. He had deeply tanned skin and was built well enough that a few of the girls in class looked ready to swoon.

The last guardian was a woman. Her auburn hair was cropped and curly, and her brown eyes were currently narrowed in thought. As I've said, a lot of dhampir women choose to have children rather than follow the guardian path. Since I too was one of the few women in this profession, I was always excited to meet others - like Tamara.

Only, this wasn't Tamara. This was someone I'd known for years, someone who triggered anything but pride and excitement. Instead, I felt resentment. Resentment, anger, and burning outrage.

The woman standing in front of the class was my mother.


I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT. JANINE Hathaway. My mother. My insanely famous and stunningly absent mother. She was no Arthur Schoenberg, but she did have a pretty stellar reputation in the guardian world. I hadn't seen her in years because she was always off on some insane mission. And yet...here she was at the Academy right now - right in front of me - and she hadn't even bothered to let me know she was coming. So much for motherly love.

What the hell was she doing here anyway? The answer came quickly. All the Moroi who came to campus would have their guardians in tow. My mother protected a noble from the Szelsky clan, and several members of that family had shown up for the holidays. Of course she'd be here with him.

I slid into my chair and felt something inside of me shrivel up. I knew she had to have seen me come in, but her attention was focused elsewhere. She had on jeans and a beige T-shirt, covered with what had to be the most boring denim jacket I'd ever seen. At only five feet tall, she was dwarfed by the other guardians, but she had a presence and way of standing that made her seem taller.

Our instructor, Stan, introduced the guests and explained that they were going to share real-life experiences with us.

He paced the front of the room, bushy eyebrows knitting together as he spoke. "I know this is unusual," he explained. "Visiting guardians usually don't have time to stop by our classes. Our three guests, however, have made time to come talk to you today in light of what's happened recently..." He paused a moment, and no one needed to tell us what he was referring to. The Badica attack. He cleared his throat and tried again. "In light of what's happened, we thought it might better prepare you to learn from those currently working in the field."

The class tensed with excitement. Hearing stories - particularly ones with a lot of blood and action - was a hell of a lot more interesting than analyzing theory from a textbook. Apparently some of the other campus guardians thought so too. They often stopped by our classes, but they were present today in a larger-than-usual number. Dimitri stood among them in the back.

The old guy went first. He launched into his story, and I found myself getting hooked in. It described a time when the youngest son of the family he guarded had wandered off in a public place that Strigoi were lurking in.

"The sun was about to set," he told us in a gravelly voice. He swept his hands in a downward motion, apparently to demonstrate how a sunset worked. "There were only two of us, and we had to make a snap decision on how to proceed."

I leaned forward, elbows propped up on my desk. Guardians often worked in pairs. One - the near guard - usually stayed close to those being guarded while the other - the far guard - scouted the area. The far guard still usually stayed within eye contact, so I recognized the dilemma here. Thinking about it, I decided that if I were in that situation, I'd have the near guardian take the rest of the family to a secure location while the other guardian searched for the boy.

     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)