Home > Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)(8)

Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)(8)
Author: Richelle Mead

Or maybe not.

"We used C4,' explained Mikhail.

"Where on earth did you--'

My tongue locked up when I saw who was standing at the end of the hallway. Dimitri.

Not knowing how he was during my imprisonment had been frustrating. Christian and Tasha's report had been only a tease. Well, here was the answer. Dimitri stood near the hall's entrance in all his six-foot-seven glory, as imperious and intimidating as any god. His sharp brown eyes assessed everything in an instant, and his strong, lean body was tensed and ready for any threat. The look on his face was so focused, so filled with passion, that I couldn't believe anyone ever could have thought he was a Strigoi. Dimitri burned with life and energy. In fact, looking at him now, I was again reminded of how he'd stood up for me at my arrest. He wore that same expression. Really, it was the same one I'd seen countless times. It was the one people feared and admired. It was the one I had loved.

"You're here too?' I tried reminding myself that my muddled romantic history wasn't the most important thing in the world for a change. "Aren't you under house arrest?' "He escaped,' said Eddie slyly. I caught the real meaning: he and Mikhail had helped Dimitri escape. "It's what people would expect some violent probably-still-a- Strigoi guy to do, right?'

"You'd also expect him to come bust you out,' added Mikhail, playing along with the game. "Especially considering how he fought for you last week. Really, everyone is going to think he busted you out alone. Not with us.'

Dimitri said nothing. His eyes, while still carefully watching our surroundings, were also assessing me. He was making sure I was okay and uninjured. He looked relieved that I was.

"Come on,' Dimitri finally said. "We don't have much time.' That was an understatement, but there was one thing bugging me about my friends' "brilliant' plan.

"There's no way they'll think he did it alone!' I exclaimed, realizing what Mikhail was getting at. They were setting Dimitri up as the culprit in this escape. I gestured to the unconscious guardians at our feet. "They saw your faces.'

"Not really,' a new voice said. "Not after a little spirit-induced amnesia. By the time they wake up, the only person they'll remember seeing will be that unstable Russian guy. No offense.'

"None taken,' said Dimitri, as Adrian stepped through the doorway.

I stared, trying not to gape. There they were together, the two men in my life. Adrian hardly looked like he could jump into a fistfight, but he was as alert and serious as the other fighters here. His lovely eyes were clear and full of the cunning I knew they could possess when he really tried. That's when it hit me: he showed no sign of intoxication whatsoever. Had what I'd seen the other day been a ruse? Or had he forced himself to take control? Either way, I felt a slow grin creeping over my face.

"Lissa lied to your mom earlier,' I said. "You're supposed to be passed out drunk somewhere.'

He rewarded me with one of his cynical smiles. "Well, yes, that would probably be the smarter--and more enjoyable--thing to be doing right now. And hopefully, that's what everyone thinks I'm doing.'

"We need to go,' said Dimitri, growing agitated.

We turned toward him. Our jokes vanished. That attitude I'd noticed about Dimitri, the one that said he could do anything and would always lead you to victory, made people want to follow him unconditionally. The expressions on Mikhail and Eddie's faces--as they grew serious--showed that was exactly how they felt. It seemed natural to me too. Even Adrian looked like he believed in Dimitri, and in that moment, I admired Adrian for putting aside any jealousy--and also for risking himself like this. Especially since Adrian had made it clear on more than one occasion he didn't want to be involved with any dangerous adventures or use his spirit in a covert way. In Las Vegas, for example, he'd simply accompanied us in an observer's role. Of course, he'd also been drunk most of the time, but that probably made no difference.

I took a few steps forward, but Adrian suddenly held out a hand to stop me. "Wait-- before you go with us, you need to know something.' Dimitri started to protest, eyes glinting with impatience. "She does,' argued Adrian, meeting Dimitri's gaze squarely. "Rose, if you escape ... you're more or less confirming your guilt. You'll be a fugitive. If the guardians find you, they aren't going to need a trial or sentence to kill you on sight.' Four sets of eyes rested on me as the full meaning sank in. If I ran now and was caught, I was dead for sure. If I stayed, I had the slim chance that in my short time before trial, we might find evidence to save me. It wasn't impossible. But if nothing turned up, I was also most certainly dead. Either option was a gamble. Either one had the strong possibility of me not surviving.

Adrian looked as conflicted as I felt. We both knew I didn't have any good choices. He was simply worried and wanted me to know what I was risking. Dimitri, however ... for him, there was no debate. I could see it all over his face. He was an advocate of rules and doing the proper thing. But in this case? With such bad odds? It was better to risk living as a fugitive, and if death came, better to face it fighting.

My death will not be penciled in on someone's calendar.

"Let's go,' I said.

We hurried out of the building, anxious to get moving with the plan. I couldn't help but comment to Adrian, "You've got to be using a lot of spirit to pull off all those illusions on the guards.'

"I am,' he agreed. "And I don't really have the power to do it for very long. Lissa could probably make a dozen guardians think they'd seen ghosts. Me? I can barely make a few forget Eddie and Mikhail. That's why there had to be someone they remembered to attract the attention, and Dimitri's the ideal scapegoat.'

"Well, thank you.' I gave his hand a gentle squeeze. As warmth flowed between us, I didn't bother telling him I was a long way from being free yet. It would diminish his heroics. We had a lot of obstacles ahead, but I still appreciated him stepping up like this and respecting my decision to go along with the escape plan.

Adrian shot me a sidelong glance. "Yeah, well, I'm supposed to be crazy, right?' A flash of affection shone in his eyes. "And there isn't much I wouldn't do for you. The stupider, the better.'

We emerged to the main floor, and I saw that Eddie had been right about guardian security. The halls and rooms were virtually deserted. Without a second glance, we hurried outdoors, and the fresh air seemed to renew my energy.

"Now what?' I asked my rescuers.

"Now we take you to the getaway car,' said Eddie.

The garages weren't far, but they weren't close either. "That's a lot of open ground to cover,' I said. I didn't bring up the obvious problem: me being killed if spotted.

"I'm using spirit to keep us all vague and nondescript,' said Adrian. More testing of his magic. He couldn't handle much more. "People won't recognize us unless they stop and stare directly at us.'

"Which they probably won't,' said Mikhail. "If anyone even notices us at all. Everyone's too worried about themselves to pay much attention to others in all this chaos.'

Looking around outside, I could see he was right. The jail building was far from the church, but by now, people who'd been near the blast had made their way to this part of Court. Some were running into their residences. Some were seeking guardians, hoping for protection. And some ... some were going the same direction we were, toward the garages.

"People are freaked out enough to actually try to leave Court,' I realized. Our group was moving as fast as we could with Adrian, who wasn't in the shame shape as dhampirs. "The garages will be crowded.' Both official Court vehicles and visiting guests parked in the same area.

"That could help us,' said Mikhail. "More chaos.'

With so many distractions in my own reality, I couldn't plunge completely into Lissa's. A light brush of the bond found her safe, over in the palace.

"What's Lissa doing during all of this?' I asked.

Believe me, I was glad she wasn't involved with this busting-me-out-of-jail madness. But, as Adrian had noted, her ability with spirit could have gone much farther than his here. And now, looking back on it all, it was obvious she had known about this plan. That had been her secret.

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)