Home > Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)(11)

Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)(11)
Author: Richelle Mead

"You approve?" I asked, spinning around.

He slipped an arm around my waist. "Unfortunately, yes. I was hoping you'd show up in something a lot sluttier. Something that would scandalize my parents."

"Sometimes it's like you don't even care about me as a person," I observed as we walked inside. "It's like you're just using me for shock value."

"It's both, little dhampir. I care about you, and I'm using you for shock value."

I hid a smile as the Ivashkovs' housekeeper led us toward the dining room. The Court actually had restaurants and cafes tucked away within its buildings, but royals like Adrian's parents would consider it classier to have a fancy dinner in their home. Me, I would have preferred being out in public. More escape options.

"You must be Rose."

My assessment of the exits was interrupted when a very tall, very elegant Moroi woman came into the room. She wore a long, dark green satin dress that immediately made me feel out of place and that perfectly matched the color of her--and Adrian's--eyes. Her dark hair was pulled into a bun, and she smiled down at me with genuine warmth as she took my hand.

"I'm Daniella Ivashkov," she said. "It's very nice to meet you at last."

Was it really? My hand automatically shook hers in return. "Nice to meet you too, Lady Ivashkov."

"Call me Daniella, please." She turned to Adrian and tsked as she straightened the collar of his button-up shirt. "Honestly, darling," she said. "Do you even look in a mirror before you walk out the door? Your hair's a mess."

He dodged her as she reached toward his head. "Are you kidding? I spent hours in front of the mirror to make it look this way."

She gave a tormented sigh. "Some days I can't decide if I'm lucky or not to have no other children." Behind her, quiet servants were setting food out on the table. Steam rose up from the platters, and my stomach rumbled. I hoped no one else heard. Daniella glanced off down the hall beyond her. "Nathan, will you hurry up? The food's getting cold."

A few moments later, heavy footsteps sounded on the ornate wood floor, and Nathan Ivashkov swept into the room. Like his wife, he was dressed formally, the blue satin of his tie gleaming next to the starkness of his heavy black suit coat. I was glad they had air-conditioning in here, or he'd have been melting in that heavy fabric. The feature on him that stood out the most was what I remembered from before: a distinctly silver head of hair and mustache. I wondered if Adrian's hair would look like that when he was older. Nah, I'd never find out. Adrian would probably dye his hair at the first sign of gray--or silver.

Adrian's father might be exactly as I remembered, but it was clear he had no clue who I was. In fact, he seemed genuinely startled to see me.

"This is Adrian's, ah, friend, Rose Hathaway," said Daniella gently. "You remember--he said he'd bring her tonight."

"It's nice to meet you, Lord Ivashkov."

Unlike his wife, he didn't offer to put us on a first-name basis, which relieved me a little. The Strigoi who had forcefully turned Dimitri had been named Nathan too, and it wasn't a name I wanted to speak aloud. Adrian's father looked me over, but it wasn't with the appreciation Adrian had shown earlier. It was more like I was an oddity. "Oh. The dhampir girl."

He wasn't rude exactly, just disinterested. I mean, it wasn't like he called me a blood whore or anything. We all sat down to eat, and although Adrian kept his typical devil-may-care smile on his face, I again got the vibe that he really, really wanted a cigarette. Probably hard liquor, too. Being around his parents was not something he enjoyed. When one of the servants poured us all wine, Adrian looked immensely relieved and didn't hold back. I shot him a cautioning look that he ignored.

Nathan managed to rapidly devour his balsamic-glazed pork medallions while still looking elegant and proper. "So," he said, attention focused on Adrian, "now that Vasilisa's graduated, what are you going to do with yourself? You aren't going to keep slumming with high school students, are you? There's no point in you being there anymore."

"I don't know," said Adrian lazily. He shook his head, further tousling his carefully mussed hair. "I kind of like hanging out with them. They think I'm funnier than I really am."

"Unsurprising," his father replied. "You aren't funny at all. It's time you do something productive. If you aren't going to go back to college, you should at least start sitting in on some of the family business meetings. Tatiana spoils you, but you could learn a lot from Rufus."

I knew enough about royal politics to recognize the name. The oldest member of each family was usually its "prince" or "princess" and held a Royal Council position--and was eligible to become king or queen. When Tatiana had taken the crown, Rufus had become prince of the Ivashkov family since he was the next oldest.

"True," said Adrian deadpan. He wasn't eating so much as pushing his food around. "I'd really like to know how he keeps his two mistresses a secret from his wife."

"Adrian!" snapped Daniella, a flush spilling over her pale cheeks. "Don't say things like that at our dinner table--and certainly not in front of a guest."

Nathan seemed to notice me again and gave a dismissive shrug. "She doesn't matter." I bit my lip on that, repressing the urge to see if I could throw my china plate Frisbee style and hit him in the head. I decided against it. Not only would it ruin dinner, but the plate probably wouldn't get the lift I needed. Nathan turned his scowl back to Adrian. "But you do. I'm not going to have you sitting around doing nothing--and using our money to fund it."

Something told me I should stay out of this, but I couldn't stand to see Adrian dressed down by his annoying father. Adrian did sit around and waste money, but Nathan didn't have the right to make fun of him for it. I mean, sure, I did all the time. But that was different.

"Maybe you could go to Lehigh with Lissa," I offered. "Keep studying spirit with her and then... do whatever else you were doing the last time you were in college...."

"Drinking and skipping classes," said Nathan.

"Art," said Daniella. "Adrian took art classes."

"Really?" I asked, turning to him in surprise. Somehow, I could imagine him as an artistic type. It fit his erratic personality. "Then this would be perfect. You could pick it up again."

He shrugged and finished his second glass of wine. "I don't know. This college would probably have the same problem the last one did."

I frowned. "What's that?"

"Homework."

"Adrian," growled his father.

"It's okay," said Adrian breezily. He rested his arm casually on the table. "I don't really need a job or extra money. After Rose and I get married, the kids and I'll just live off of her guardian paycheck."

We all froze, even me. I knew perfectly well that he was joking. I mean, even if he harbored fantasies of marriage and kids (and I was pretty sure he didn't), the meager salary a guardian made would never be enough to keep him in the luxurious life he required.

Adrian's father, however, clearly did not think he was joking. Daniella seemed undecided. Me, I was just uncomfortable. It was a very, very bad topic to bring up at a dinner like this, and I couldn't believe Adrian had gone there. I didn't even think the wine was to blame. Adrian just liked tormenting his father that much.

The awful silence grew thicker and thicker. My gut instinct to fill conversation voids was raging, but something told me to stay quiet. The tension increased. When the doorbell rang, all four of us nearly jumped out of our chairs.

The housekeeper, Torrie, scurried off to answer it, and I breathed a mental sigh of relief. An unexpected visitor would help ease the tension.

Or maybe not.

Torrie cleared her throat when she returned, clearly flustered as she looked from Daniella to Nathan. "Her Royal Majesty Queen Tatiana is here."

No. Way.

All three Ivashkovs stood up abruptly, and a half second later, I joined them. I hadn't believed Adrian earlier when he said Tatiana might come. From his face, he seemed pretty surprised now too. But sure enough, there she was. She swept into the room, elegant in what must have been business casual for her: tailored black slacks and jacket with a red silk and lace blouse underneath. Little jeweled barrettes gleamed in her dark hair, and those imperious eyes peered down at us all as we offered hasty bows. Even her own family followed formalities.

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)