Home > Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)(7)

Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)(7)
Author: Richelle Mead

"Hard to explain. Maybe it's nothing." He came to a stop near the door and inhaled deeply on his cigarette. He went out of his way to blow a cloud of smoke away from me, but the wind carried it back. "Auras are strange. They ebb and flow and change colors and brightness. Some are vivid, some are pale. Every once in a while, someone's will settle and burn with such a pure color that you can..." He tipped his head back, staring into the sky. I recognized the signs of that weird "unhinged" state he sometimes fell into. "You can instantly grasp what it means. It's like seeing into their soul."

I smiled. "But you haven't figured mine out, huh? Or what any of these colors mean?"

He shrugged. "I'm figuring it out. You talk to enough people, get a feel for what they're like and then start to see the same kinds of people with the same kinds of colors.... After a while, the colors start to mean something."

"What's mine look like right now?"

He glanced over at me. "Eh, I can't quite get a fix on it today."

"I knew it. You've been drinking." Substances, like alcohol or certain medications, numbed spirit's effects.

"Just enough to chase the chill away. I can guess what your aura's like, though. It's usually like the others, sort of those swirling colors - it's just kind of edged in darkness. Like you've always got a shadow following you."

Something in his voice made me shiver. Although I'd heard him and Lissa talk about auras a lot, I'd never really thought of them as anything I needed to worry about. They were more like some kind of stage trick - a cool thing with little substance.

"That's so cheerful," I said. "You ever think about motivational speaking?"

His scattered look faded, and his normal mirth returned. "Don't worry, little dhampir. You might be surrounded by clouds, but you'll always be like sunshine to me." I rolled my eyes. He dropped his cigarette onto the sidewalk and put it out with his foot. "Gotta go. See you later." He swept me a gallant bow and started walking away toward guest housing.

"You just littered!" I yelled.

"Above the rules, Rose," he called back. "Above the rules."

Shaking my head, I picked up the now-cold cigarette butt and took it to a garbage can that was outside the building. When I entered, the warmth inside was a welcome change as I shook off the slush on my boots. Down in the cafeteria, I found lunch wrapping up for the afternoon. Here, dhampirs sat side by side with Moroi, providing a study in contrasts. Dhampirs, with our half-human blood, were bigger - though not taller -  and more solidly built. The girl novices were curvier than the ultra-slim Moroi girls, the boy novices far more muscular than their vampire counterparts. The Moroi complexions were pale and delicate, like porcelain, while ours were tanned from being outside in the sun so much.

Lissa sat at a table by herself, looking serene and angelic in a white sweater. Her pale blond hair cascaded over her shoulders. She glanced up at my approach, and welcoming feelings flowed to me through our bond. She grinned. "Oh, look at your face. It's true, isn't it? You really are assigned to Christian." I glared.

"Would it kill you to be a little less miserable?" She gave me a censuring yet amused look as she licked the last of her strawberry yogurt off her spoon. "I mean, he's my boyfriend, after all. I hang out with him all the time. It's not that bad."

"You have the patience of a saint," I grumbled, slouching into a chair. "And besides, you don't hang out with him 24/7."

"Neither will you. It's only 24/6."

"Same difference. It might as well be 24/10."

She frowned. "That doesn't make any sense." I waved off my idiotic remark and stared blankly around the lunchroom. The room was buzzing with news of the impending field exercise, which would kick off as soon as lunch ended. Camille's best friend had gotten assigned to Ryan's best friend, and the four of them huddled gleefully together, looking as though they were about to embark on a six-week double date. At least someone would enjoy all this. I sighed. Christian, my soon-to-be charge, was off with the feeders - humans who willingly donated blood to Moroi.

Through our bond, I sensed Lissa wanting to tell me something. She was holding off because she was worried about my bad mood and wanted to make sure I got enough support. I smiled. "Stop worrying about me. What's up?"

She smiled back, her pink-glossed lips hiding her fangs. "I got permission."

"Permission for - ?" The answer flitted from her mind faster than she could have voiced it. "What?" I exclaimed. "You're going to stop your meds?"

Spirit was an amazing power, one whose cool abilities we were just starting to figure out. It had a very nasty side effect, however: It could lead to depression and insanity. Part of the reason Adrian indulged in drinking so much (aside from his party nature) was to numb himself against these side effects. Lissa had a much healthier way of doing it. She took antidepressants, which completely cut her off from the magic altogether. She hated not being able to work with spirit anymore, but that was an acceptable trade-off for not going crazy. Well, I thought it was. She apparently disagreed if she was considering this insane experiment. I knew she'd been wanting to try the magic again, but I hadn't really thought she'd go through with it - or that anyone would let her.

"I have to check in with Ms. Carmack every day and regularly talk to a counselor." Lissa made a face at this last part, but her overall feelings were still quite upbeat. "I can't wait to see what I can do with Adrian."

"Adrian's a bad influence."

"He didn't make me do this, Rose. I chose it." When I didn't answer, she lightly touched my arm. "Hey, listen. Don't worry. I've been so much better, and lots of people are going to have my back."

"Everyone except me," I told her wistfully. Across the room, Christian entered through a set of double doors and approached us. The clock read five minutes until the end of lunch. "Oh man. The zero hour is almost here."

Christian pulled up a chair at our table and flipped it backwards, letting his chin rest on its slatted back. He brushed his black hair away from his blue eyes and gave us a smug smile. I felt Lissa's heart lighten at his presence.

"I can't wait until this show gets on the road," he said. "You and me are going to have so much fun, Rose. Picking out curtains, doing each other's hair, telling ghost stories "

The reference to "ghost stories" hit a little closer to home than I was comfortable with. Not that choosing curtains or brushing Christian's hair was much more appealing.

I shook my head in exasperation and stood up. "I'll leave you two alone for your last few private moments." They laughed.

I walked over to the lunch line, hoping to find some leftover doughnuts from breakfast. So far, I could see croissants, quiche, and poached pears. It must have been highbrow day at the cafeteria. Was deep-fried dough really too much to ask for? Eddie stood in front of me. His face turned apologetic as soon as he saw me.

"Rose, I'm really sorry - "

I put up a hand to stop him. "Don't worry. It's not your fault. Just promise me you'll do a good job protecting her."

It was a silly sentiment since she was in no real danger, but I could never really stop worrying about her - particularly in light of this new development with her medication.

Eddie stayed serious, apparently not thinking my request was silly at all. He was one of the few who knew about Lissa's abilities - and their downsides, which was probably why he'd been selected to guard her. "I won't let anything happen to her. I mean it."

I couldn't help a smile, in spite of my glum mood. His experiences with the Strigoi made him take all of this more seriously than almost any other novice. Aside from me, he was probably the best choice to guard her.

"Rose, is it true you punched Guardian Petrov?"

I turned and looked into the faces of two Moroi, Jesse Zeklos and Ralf Sarcozy. They'd just stepped in line behind Eddie and me and looked more self-satisfied and annoying than usual. Jesse was all bronzed good looks and quick thinking. Ralf was his slightly less attractive and slightly less intelligent sidekick. They were quite possibly the two people I hated most at this school, mainly due to some nasty rumors they'd spread about me doing some very explicit things with them. It was Mason's strong-arming that had forced them to tell the truth to the school, and I don't think they'd ever forgiven me for that.

     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)