Home > Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)(8)

Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy #5)(8)
Author: Richelle Mead

I think he was prouder of my realization than of my trials. "Any prisoners trying to escape would have a hard time." In full sun, no Moroi fugitive would get very far. "Not that anyone can escape through that level of security anyway." I tried to ignore how foreboding that sounded.

"Seems like they'd put it pretty far north in Alaska then," I said, hoping to worm out the actual location indirectly. "You get more light that way."

He chuckled. "Even I can't tell you that. That's information the guardians keep close, buried in their headquarters."

I froze. Headquarters...

Abe, despite being usually observant, didn't notice my reaction. His eyes were watching something across the room. "Is that Renee Szelsky? My, my... she's grown lovely over the years."

I grudgingly waved him away, largely because I wanted to chase this new plan in my mind--and because Renee wasn't anyone I knew very well, which made him hitting on her less appalling. "Well, don't let me stop you. Go lure more women into your web."

Abe didn't need much prodding. Alone, I let my brain spin, wondering if my developing scheme had any chance of success. His words had sparked a new plan in my mind. It wasn't much crazier than most of my others. Across the room, I met Lissa's jade eyes again. With Christian out of sight, her mood had improved. She was enjoying herself and was excited about the adventures ahead of us, now that we were free and out in the world. My mind flashed back to the anxieties I'd felt earlier in the day. We might be free now, but reality would catch up with us soon. The clock was ticking. Dimitri was waiting, watching. I wondered briefly if I'd still get his weekly letters, now that I'd be leaving the school.

I smiled at her, feeling kind of bad that I'd be ruining her mood when I told her we might now have a very real chance of busting out Victor Dashkov.

Chapter Three

THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS were strange. The other novices and I might have had the flashiest graduation, but we weren't the only ones finishing our education at St. Vladimir's. The Moroi had their own commencement ceremony, and campus grew packed with visitors. Then, almost as quickly as they came, parents disappeared--taking their sons and daughters with them. Royal Moroi left to spend their summers with their parents at luxury estates--many in the Southern Hemisphere, where the days were shorter this time of year. "Ordinary" Moroi left with their parents too, off to more modest homes, possibly getting summer jobs before college.

And of course, with school wrapping up for the summer, all the other students left too. Some with no family to go home to, usually dhampirs, stayed year-round, taking special electives, but they were the minority. Campus grew emptier each day as my classmates and I waited for the day when we'd be taken to the Royal Court. We made our farewells to others, Moroi moving on or younger dhampirs who'd soon be following in our footsteps.

One person I was sad to part with was Jill. I happened to catch her as I was walking toward Lissa's dorm the day before my Court trip. There was a woman with Jill, presumably her mother, and both were carrying boxes. Jill's face lit up when she saw me.

"Hey Rose! I said goodbye to everyone else but couldn't find you," she said excitedly.

I smiled. "Well, I'm glad you caught me."

I couldn't tell her that I'd been saying goodbye too. I'd spent my last day at St. Vladimir's walking all the familiar sites, starting with the elementary campus where Lissa and I had first met in kindergarten. I'd explored the halls and corners of my dorms, walked past favorite classrooms, and even visited the chapel. I'd also passed a lot of time in areas filled with bittersweet memories, like the training areas where I'd first gotten to know Dimitri. The track where he used to make me run laps. The cabin where we'd finally given in to each other. It had been one of the most amazing nights of my life, and thinking about it always brought me both joy and pain.

Jill didn't need to be burdened with any of that, though. I turned toward her mother and started to offer my hand until I realized she couldn't shake it while maneuvering the box. "I'm Rose Hathaway. Here, let me carry that."

I took it before she could protest because I was certain she would. "Thank you," she said, pleasantly surprised. I fell in step with them as they began walking again. "I'm Emily Mastrano. Jill's told me a lot about you."

"Oh yeah?" I asked, giving Jill a teasing smile.

"Not that much. Just how I hang out with you sometimes." There was a slight warning in Jill's green eyes, and it occurred to me that Emily probably didn't know her daughter practiced forbidden forms of Strigoi-killing magic in her free time.

"We like having Jill around," I said, not blowing her cover. "And one of these days, we're going to teach her to tame that hair."

Emily laughed. "I've been trying for almost fifteen years. Good luck."

Jill's mother was stunning. The two didn't resemble each other much, at least not superficially. Emily's lustrous hair was straight and black, her eyes deep blue and long-lashed. She moved with a willowy grace, very different from Jill's always self-conscious walk. Yet, I could see the shared genes here and there, the heart-shaped faces and lip shapes. Jill was still young, and as she grew into her features, she'd likely be a heartbreaker herself someday--something she was probably oblivious to right now. Hopefully her self-confidence would grow.

"Where's home for you guys?" I asked.

"Detroit," said Jill, making a face.

"It's not that bad," laughed her mom.

"There are no mountains. Just highways."

"I'm part of a ballet company there," Emily explained. "So we stay where we can pay the bills." I think I was more surprised that people went to the ballet in Detroit than that Emily was a ballerina. It made sense, watching her, and really, with their tall and slim builds, Moroi were ideal dancers as far as humans were concerned.

"Hey, it's a big city," I told Jill. "Enjoy the excitement while you can before you come back to the boring middle of nowhere." Of course, illicit combat training and Strigoi attacks were hardly boring, but I wanted to make Jill feel better. "And it won't be that long." Moroi summer vacations were barely two months. Parents were eager to return their children to the safety of the Academy.

"I guess," said Jill, not sounding convinced. We reached their car, and I loaded the boxes into the trunk.

"I'll e-mail you when I can," I promised. "And I bet Christian will too. Maybe I can even talk Adrian into it."

Jill brightened, and I was happy to see her return to her normal overexcited self. "Really? That would be great. I want to hear everything that goes on at Court. You'll probably get to do all sorts of cool things with Lissa and Adrian, and I bet Christian will find out all sorts of things... about things."

Emily didn't seem to notice Jill's lame editing attempt and instead fixed me with a pretty smile. "Thanks for your help, Rose. It was great to meet you."

"You too--umph!"

Jill had thrown herself into me with a hug. "Good luck with everything," she said. "You're so lucky--you're going to have such a great life now!"

I returned the hug, unable to explain how jealous of her I was. Her life was still safe and innocent. She might resent spending a summer in Detroit, but the stay would be brief, and soon she'd be back in the familiar and easy world of St. Vladimir's. She wouldn't be setting out into the unknown and its dangers.

It was only after she and her mother had driven off that I could bring myself to respond to her comment. "I hope so," I murmured, thinking about what was to come. "I hope so."

My classmates and select Moroi flew out early the next day, leaving the rocky mountains of Montana behind for the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. The Royal Court was a lot like I remembered, with the same imposing, ancient feel that St. Vladimir's tried to impart with its towering buildings and intricate stone architecture. But the school also seemed to want to show off a wise, studious air, whereas the Court was more ostentatious. It was like the buildings themselves tried to make sure we all knew that this was the seat of power and royalty among the Moroi. The Royal Court wanted us to be amazed and maybe a little cowed.

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)