Home > Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)(6)

Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)(6)
Author: Richelle Mead

His face was pretty, but that didn't stop me from shaking my head in exasperation. I reached for the door's handle, but Adrian pulled me back.

"Wait," he said.

He drew me into his arms again, our lips meeting in another hot kiss. My body pressed to his, and I found myself confused by my own feelings and the realization that I was reaching a point where I might want more than just kissing.

"Okay," said Adrian when we'd finally broken away. "Now we can go in."

He had that same light tone to his voice, but in his dark green eyes, I saw the kindling of passion. I wasn't the only one considering more than just kissing. So far, we'd avoided discussing sex, and he'd actually been very good about not pressuring me. I think he knew I just wasn't ready after Dimitri, but in moments like these, I could see just how difficult it was for Adrian to hold back.

It softened something inside of me, and standing on my tiptoes, I gave him another kiss. "What was that?" he asked a few moments later.

I grinned. "Your reward."

When we finally made it into the party, everyone in the room greeted me with cheers and proud smiles. A long time ago, I'd thrived on being the center of attention. That desire had faded a little, but now, I put on a confident face and accepted my loved ones' praise with swagger and happiness. I held up my hands triumphantly, earning more clapping and approval.

My party was almost as much of a blur as my trials. You never really realize how many people care about you until they all turn out to support you. It made me feel humble and almost a little teary. I kept that to myself, though. I could hardly start crying at my own victory party.

Everyone wanted to talk to me, and I was surprised and delighted each time some new person approached me. It wasn't often that I had all the people I loved best in one place, and, uneasily I realized this opportunity might never come again.

"Well, you've finally got a license to kill. It's about time."

I turned and met the amused eyes of Christian Ozera, a onetime annoyance who'd become a good friend. So good, in fact, that in my joyous zeal, I reached out and hugged him--something he clearly didn't expect. I was surprising everyone today.

"Whoa, whoa," he said backing up, flushing. "It figures. You're the only girl who'd get all emotional about the thought of killing. I don't even want to think about what goes on when you and Ivashkov are alone."

"Hey, look who's talking. You're itching to get out there yourself."

Christian shrugged by way of agreement. It was a standard rule in our world: Guardians protected Moroi. Moroi didn't get involved in battles. Yet after recent Strigoi attacks, a lot of Moroi--though hardly a majority--had begun to argue that it was time for Moroi to step up and start helping the guardians. Fire users like Christian were particularly valuable since burning was one of the best ways to kill a Strigoi (along with staking and decapitation). The movement to teach Moroi to fight was currently--and purposely--stalled in the Moroi government, but that hadn't stopped some Moroi from practicing in secret. Christian was one of them. Glancing beside him, I blinked in astonishment. There was someone with him, someone I'd hardly noticed.

Jill Mastrano hovered near him like a shadow. A Moroi freshman--well, soon to be a sophomore--Jill had come forward as someone who also wanted to fight. She had sort of become Christian's student.

"Hey Jill," I said, giving her a warm smile. "Thanks for coming."

Jill flushed. She was determined to learn to defend herself, but she grew flustered among others--particularly around "celebrities" like me. Rambling was her nervous reaction. "I had to," she said, brushing her long, light brown hair out of her face. Like always, it was a tangle of curls. "I mean, it's so cool what you did. At the trials. Everyone was amazed. I heard one of the guardians saying that they'd never seen anything like you, so when Christian asked if I wanted to come, of course I had to. Oh!" Her light green eyes went wide. "I didn't even tell you congratulations. Sorry. Congratulations."

Beside her, Christian struggled to keep a straight face. I made no such attempts and laughingly gave her a hug too. I was in serious danger of turning warm and fuzzy. I'd probably get my tough guardian status revoked if I kept this up. "Thanks. Are you two ready to take on a Strigoi army yet?"

"Soon," said Christian. "But we might need your backup." He knew as well as I did that Strigoi were way out of their league. His fire magic had helped me a lot, but on his own? That'd be a different story. He and Jill were teaching themselves to use magic offensively, and when I'd had time between classes, I'd taught them a few combat moves.

Jill's face fell a little. "It's going to stop once Christian's gone."

I turned to him. It was no surprise he'd be leaving. We'd all be leaving. "What are you going to do with yourself?" I asked.

He shrugged. "Go to Court with the rest of you. Aunt Tasha says we're going to have a 'talk' about my future." He grimaced. Whatever his plans were, it looked like they weren't the same as Tasha's. Most royal Moroi would head off to elite colleges. I wasn't sure what Christian had in mind.

It was standard practice after graduation for new guardians to go to the Moroi Royal Court for orientation and to get their assignments. We were all due to leave in a couple of days. Following Christian's gaze, I saw his aunt across the room, and so help me, she was talking to Abe.

Tasha Ozera was in her late twenties, with the same glossy black hair and ice blue eyes that Christian had. Her beautiful face was marred, however, by some terrible scarring on one side--the result of injuries inflicted by Christian's own parents. Dimitri had been turned into a Strigoi against his will, but the Ozeras had purposely chosen to turn for the sake of immortality. It had ironically cost them their lives when the guardians hunted them down. Tasha had raised Christian (when he wasn't at school) and was one of the main leaders in the movement supporting those Moroi who wanted to fight Strigoi.

Scar or not, I admired her and still thought she was beautiful. From my wayward father's attitude, it was clear he did too. He poured her a glass of champagne and said something that made her laugh. She leaned forward, like she was telling him a secret, and he laughed in return. My jaw dropped. Even from this far away, it was obvious they were flirting.

"Dear God," I said with a shudder, hastily turning back to Christian and Jill.

Christian seemed torn between smugness at my discomfort and his own unease at watching a woman he regarded as a mother get hit upon by a pirate mobster guy. A moment later, Christian's expression softened as he turned back to Jill and continued our conversation.

"Hey, you don't need me," he said. "You'll find others around here. You'll have your own superhero club before you know it."

I found myself smiling again, but my kindly feelings were suddenly shattered by a jolt of jealousy. It wasn't my own, though. It was Lissa's, coming through the bond. Startled, I glanced around and spotted her across the room, giving Christian the look of death as he spoke to Jill.

It's worth mentioning that Christian and Lissa used to date. More than date. They'd been deeply in love, and honestly, they kind of still were. Unfortunately, recent events had badly strained their relationship, and Christian had broken up with her. He'd loved her but had lost his trust in her. Lissa had spun out of control when another spirit user named Avery Lazar had sought to control her. We'd eventually stopped Avery, and she was currently locked away in a mental institution, last I'd heard. Christian now knew the reasons for Lissa's horrible behavior, but the damage was done. Lissa had initially been depressed, but her sorrow had now turned to anger.

She claimed she wanted nothing to do with him anymore, but the bond gave her away. She was always jealous of any girl he talked to--particularly Jill, whom he'd been spending a lot of time with lately. I knew for a fact there was nothing romantic going on there. Jill idolized him as some wise teacher, nothing more. If she had a crush on anyone, it was Adrian, who always treated her like a kid sister. We all kind of did, really.

Christian followed my gaze, and his expression hardened. Realizing she had his attention, Lissa immediately turned away and began talking to the first guy she found, a good-looking dhampir from my class. She turned on the flirtatious charm that came so easily to spirit users, and soon, both of them were laughing and chatting in a way similar to Abe and Tasha. My party had turned into a round of speed dating.

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)