Home > Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)(10)

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)(10)
Author: Richelle Mead

He spoke in an exaggerated, silly sort of way that was characteristic of him. Adrian rarely took things seriously and always had a flippant edge.

Spirit also had a tendency to make people unstable, and while he fought it, he wasn't unaffected. Underneath that melodrama, though, I sensed a kernel of truth. No matter how shallow an appearance he gave off, he really did care about me.

I crossed my arms. "Well, I'm still alive, clearly. So I guess you can let me go back to sleep."

"How many times have I told you? You are asleep."

"And yet I inexplicably feel exhausted talking to you."

This made him laugh. "Oh, I do so miss you." That smile faded. "She misses you too."

I stiffened. She. He didn't even need to say her name. There was no question as to whom he was talking about.

Lissa.

Even saying her name in my mind caused me pain, particularly after seeing her last night. Choosing between Lissa and Dimitri had been the hardest decision of my life, and time passing hadn't made it any easier. I might have chosen him, but being away from her was like having an arm cut off, particularly because the bond ensured we were never truly apart.

Adrian gave me a canny look, like he could guess my thoughts. "Do you go see her?"

"No," I said, refusing to acknowledge that I'd just seen her last night. Let him think I was truly free of all that. "That's not my life anymore."

"Right. Your life is all about dangerous vigilante missions."

"You wouldn't understand anything that isn't drinking, smoking, or womanizing."

He shook his head. "You're the only one I want, Rose."

Unfortunately, I believed him. It would have been easier for both of us if he could find someone else. "Well, you can keep feeling that way, but you're going to have to keep waiting."

"Much longer?"

He asked me this all the time, and every time, I emphasized how long it would be and how he was wasting his time. Thinking of Sydney's possible lead, I hesitated tonight. "I don't know."

Hope blossomed on Adrian's face. "That's the most optimistic thing you've told me so far."

"Don't read too much into it. 'I don't know' could be one day or one year. Or never."

His mischievous grin returned, and even I had to admit it was cute. "I'm going to hope it's one day."

Thinking of Sydney brought a question to my mind. "Hey, have you ever heard of the Alchemists?"

"Sure," he said.

Typical. "Of course you have."

"Why? Did you run into them?"

"Kind of."

"What'd you do?"

"Why do you think I did anything?"

He laughed. "Alchemists only show up when trouble happens, and you bring trouble wherever you go. Be careful, though. They're religious nuts."

"That's kind of extreme," I said. Sydney's faith didn't seem to be anything bad.

"Just don't let them convert you." He winked. "I like you being the sinner you are."

I started to tell him that Sydney probably thought I was beyond all salvation, but he ended the dream, sending me back to sleep.

Except, instead of returning to my own dreams, I woke up. Around me, the train hummed comfortingly as we sped through the Russian countryside. My reading lamp was still on, its light too bright for my sleepy eyes. I reached over to turn it off and noticed then that Sydney's bed was empty. Probably in the bathroom, I thought. Yet, I felt uneasy. She and her group of Alchemists were still mysteries, and I suddenly worried that she might have some sinister plan going on. Was she off meeting with some covert operative? I decided to find her.

Admittedly, I had no idea where she could be on a train of this size, but logic had never really deterred me before. No reason they should now.

Thankfully, after slipping on my shoes and stepping out in the hall adjacent to our cabin, I discovered I didn't have to look very far.

The corridor was lined with windows, all draped in those rich curtains, and Sydney stood with her back to me, gazing outside, a blanket wrapped around her. Her hair was messy from sleep and looked less gold in the poor lighting.

"Hey..." I began hesitantly. "Are you okay?"

She turned slightly toward me. One hand held the blanket; the other played with the cross around her neck. I remembered Adrian's comments about religion.

"I can't sleep," she said bluntly.

"Is it... is it because of me?"

Her only answer was to turn back to the window.

"Look," I said, feeling helpless. "If there's anything I can do... I mean, aside from going back and canceling this trip..."

"I'll handle it," she said. "This is just, well, it's really strange for me. I deal with you guys all the time, but I don't actually deal with you, you know?"

"We could probably get you a room of your own, if that would help. We can find an attendant, and I've got the money."

She shook her head. "It's just a couple of days, if that."

I didn't know what else to say. Having Sydney along was inconvenient in the grand scheme of my plans, but I didn't want her to suffer. Watching her play with the cross, I tried to think of something comforting to tell her. Bonding over our views of God might have been a way to get closer, but somehow, I didn't think telling her how I had daily battles with God and doubted His existence lately would really help me out with the whole evil creature-of-the-night reputation.

"Okay," I said at last. "Let me know if you change your mind."

I returned to my bed and fell asleep surprisingly fast, despite worrying that Sydney would be standing in the hall all night. Yet, when I woke in the morning, she was curled up on her bed, fast asleep. Apparently, her exhaustion had been so strong that even fear of me had driven her to rest. I got up quietly and changed out of the T-shirt and sweatpants I'd gone to bed in. I was hungry for breakfast and figured Sydney might sleep longer if I wasn't around.

The restaurant was in the next car over and looked like something out of an old movie. Elegant burgundy linens draped the tables, and brass and dark wood, along with bits of bright-colored stained glass art, gave the whole place an antique feel. It looked more like a restaurant I'd find on the streets of Saint Petersburg than a train dining car. I ordered something that reminded me vaguely of french toast, except that it had cheese on it. It came with sausage, which thus far seemed to be the same everywhere I went.

I was just about finished when Sydney wandered in. When I'd met her that first night, I'd assumed her dress pants and blouse had been for the sake of the Nightingale. I was discovering, however, that that was her normal style. She struck me as one of those people who didn't own jeans or T-shirts. She'd been mussed while standing in the hall last night, but now she was in neat black slacks and a dark green sweater. I was in jeans and a long-sleeved gray thermal shirt and felt kind of sloppy beside her. Her hair was brushed and styled but had a slightly messy look that I suspected never went away, no matter how hard she tried. At least I had my sleek ponytail going for me today.

She slid across from me and ordered an omelet when the server came by, again speaking in Russian.

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"What, Russian?" She shrugged. "I had to learn it growing up. And a few other languages."

"Wow." I had taken intros to a couple of languages too and performed miserably in all of them. I hadn't thought much of it at the time, but now, because of this trip and because of Dimitri, I really wished I'd learned Russian. I supposed it wasn't too late, and I had picked up a few phrases in my time here, but still... it was a daunting task.

"You must have to learn a lot of stuff for this job," I mused, pondering what it must mean to be part of a secret group that crossed international lines and interacted with all sorts of governments. Something else crossed my mind. "And what about that stuff you used on the Strigoi? That disintegrated the body?"

She smiled. Almost. "Well, I told you the Alchemists started off as a group of people trying to make potions, right? That's a chemical we developed to get rid of Strigoi bodies fast."

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)