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

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

"Who... who are you?" I asked at last. It was true. I had left a body in the park, but seriously, what was I supposed to do? Drag him back to my hotel and tell the bellhop my friend had had too much to drink? "Sydney," the girl said wearily. "My name's Sydney. I'm the Alchemist assigned here."

"The what?"

She sighed loudly, and I was pretty sure she rolled her eyes. "Of course. That explains everything."

"No, not really," I said, finally regaining my composure. "In fact, I think you're the one who has a lot of explaining to do."

"And attitude too. Are you some kind of test they sent here for me? Oh, man. That's it."

I was getting angry now. I didn't like being chastised. I certainly didn't like being chastised by a human who made it sound like me killing Strigoi was a bad thing.

"Look, I don't know who you are or how you know about any of this, but I'm not going to stand here and-"

Nausea rolled over me and I tensed, my hand immediately going for the silver stake I kept in my coat pocket. Sydney still wore that annoyed expression, but it was mingled with confusion now at the abrupt change in my posture. She was observant, I'd give her that.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"You're going to have another body to deal with," I said, just as the Strigoi attacked her.

Chapter Two

Going for her instead of me was bad form on the Strigoi's part. I was the threat; he should have neutralized me first. Our positioning had put Sydney in his way, however, so he had to dispatch her before he could get to me. He grabbed her shoulder, jerking her to him. He was fast-they always were-but I was on my game tonight.

A swift kick knocked him into a neighboring building's wall and freed Sydney from his grasp. He grunted on impact and slumped to the ground, stunned and surprised. It wasn't easy to get the drop on a Strigoi, not with their lightning-fast reflexes. Abandoning Sydney, he focused his attention on me, red eyes angry and lips curled back to show his fangs. He sprang up from his fall with that preternatural speed and lunged for me.

I dodged him and attempted a punch that he dodged in return. His next blow caught me on the arm, and I stumbled, just barely keeping my balance. My stake was still clutched in my right hand, but I needed an opening to hit his chest. A smart Strigoi would have angled himself in a way that ruined the line of sight to his heart. This guy was only doing a so-so job, and if I could stay alive long enough, I'd likely get an opening.

Just then, Sydney came up and hit him on the back. It wasn't a very strong blow, but it startled him. It was my opening. I sprinted as hard as I could, throwing my full weight at him. My stake pierced his heart as we slammed against the wall. It was as simple as that. The life-or undead life or whatever-faded away from him. He stopped moving. I jerked out my stake once I was certain he was dead and watched as his body crumpled to the ground.

Just like with every Strigoi I'd killed lately, I had a momentary surreal feeling. What if this had been Dimitri? I tried to imagine Dimitri's face on this Strigoi, tried to imagine him lying before me. My heart twisted in my chest. For a split second, the image was there. Then-gone. This was just some random Strigoi.

I promptly shook the disorientation off and reminded myself that I had important things to worry about here. I had to check on Sydney. Even with a human, my protective nature couldn't help but kick in. "Are you okay?"

She nodded, looking shaken but otherwise unharmed. "Nice work," she said. She sounded as though she were forcibly trying to sound confident.

"I've never... I've never actually seen one of them killed..."

I couldn't imagine how she would have, but then, I didn't get how she knew about any of this stuff in the first place. She looked like she was in shock, so I took her arm and started to lead her away. "Come on, let's get out to where there's more people." Strigoi lurking near the Nightingale wasn't that crazy of an idea, the more I thought about it. What better place to stalk Moroi than at one of their hangouts? Though, hopefully, most guardians would have enough sense to keep their charges out of alleys like this.

The suggestion of departure snapped Sydney out of her daze. "What?" she exclaimed. "You're just going to leave him too?"

I threw up my hands. "What do you expect me to do? I guess I can move him behind those trash cans and then let the sun incinerate him. That's what I usually do."

"Right. And what if someone shows up to take out the trash? Or comes out of one of these back doors?"

"Well, I can hardly drag him off. Or set him on fire. A vampire barbecue would kind of attract some attention, don't you think?"

Sydney shook her head in exasperation and walked over to the body. She made a face as she looked down at the Strigoi and reached into her large leather purse. From it, she produced a small vial. With a deft motion, she sprinkled the vial's contents over the body and then quickly stepped back.

Where the drops had hit his corpse, yellow smoke began to curl away. The smoke slowly moved outward, spreading horizontally rather than vertically until it cocooned the Strigoi entirely. Then it contracted and contracted until it was nothing but a fist-size ball. In a few seconds, the smoke drifted off entirely, leaving an innocuous pile of dust behind.

"You're welcome," said Sydney flatly, still giving me a disapproving look.

"What the hell was that?" I exclaimed.

"My job. Can you please call me the next time this happens?" She started to turn away.

"Wait! I can't call you-I have no idea who you are."

She glanced back at me and brushed blond hair out of her face. "Really? You're serious, aren't you? I thought you were all taught about us when you graduated."

"Oh, well. Funny thing... I kind of, uh, didn't graduate."

Sydney's eyes widened. "You took down one of those... things... but never graduated?"

I shrugged, and she remained silent for several seconds.

Finally, she sighed again and said, "I guess we need to talk."

Did we ever. Meeting her had to be the strangest thing that had happened to me since coming to Russia. I wanted to know why she thought I should have been in contact with her and how she'd dissolved that Strigoi corpse. And, as we returned to the busy streets and walked toward a cafe she liked, it occurred to me that if she knew about the Moroi world, there might be a chance she also knew where Dimitri's village was.

Dimitri. There he was again, popping back into my mind. I had no clue if he really would be lurking near his hometown, but I had nothing else to go on at this point. Again, that weird feeling came over me. My mind blurred Dimitri's face with that of the Strigoi I'd just killed: pale skin, red ringed eyes...

No, I sternly told myself. Don't focus on that yet. Don't panic. Until I faced Dimitri the Strigoi, I would gain the most strength from remembering the Dimitri I loved, with his deep brown eyes, warm hands, fierce embrace...

"Are you okay... um, whatever your name is?"

Sydney was staring at me strangely, and I realized we'd come to a halt in front of a restaurant. I didn't know what look I wore on my face, but it must have been enough to raise even her attention. Until now, my impression as we walked had been that she wanted to speak to me as little as possible.

"Yeah, yeah, fine," I said brusquely, putting on my guardian face. "And I'm Rose. Is this the place?"

It was. The restaurant was bright and cheery, albeit a far cry from the Nightingale's opulence. We slid into a black leather-by which I mean fake plastic leather-booth, and I was delighted to see the menu had both American and Russian food. The listings were translated into English, and I nearly drooled when I saw fried chicken. I was starving after not eating at the club, and the thought of deep-fried meat was luxurious after weeks of cabbage dishes and so-called McDonald's.

A waitress arrived, and Sydney ordered in fluent Russian, whereas I just pointed at the menu. Huh. Sydney was just full of surprises. Considering her harsh attitude, I expected her to interrogate me right away, but when the waitress left, Sydney remained quiet, simply playing with her napkin and avoiding eye contact. It was so strange. She was definitely uncomfortable around me. Even with the table between us, it was like she couldn't get far enough away. Yet her earlier outrage hadn't been faked, and she'd been adamant about me following whatever these rules of hers were.

     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)