Shadow Kiss (Vampire Academy #3)(11)

"I can't wait until this show gets on the road," he said. "You and me are going to have so much fun, Rose. Picking out curtains, doing each other's hair, telling ghost stories "

The reference to "ghost stories" hit a little closer to home than I was comfortable with. Not that choosing curtains or brushing Christian's hair was much more appealing.

I shook my head in exasperation and stood up. "I'll leave you two alone for your last few private moments." They laughed.

I walked over to the lunch line, hoping to find some leftover doughnuts from breakfast. So far, I could see croissants, quiche, and poached pears. It must have been highbrow day at the cafeteria. Was deep-fried dough really too much to ask for? Eddie stood in front of me. His face turned apologetic as soon as he saw me.

"Rose, I'm really sorry - "

I put up a hand to stop him. "Don't worry. It's not your fault. Just promise me you'll do a good job protecting her."

It was a silly sentiment since she was in no real danger, but I could never really stop worrying about her - particularly in light of this new development with her medication.

Eddie stayed serious, apparently not thinking my request was silly at all. He was one of the few who knew about Lissa's abilities - and their downsides, which was probably why he'd been selected to guard her. "I won't let anything happen to her. I mean it."

I couldn't help a smile, in spite of my glum mood. His experiences with the Strigoi made him take all of this more seriously than almost any other novice. Aside from me, he was probably the best choice to guard her.

"Rose, is it true you punched Guardian Petrov?"

I turned and looked into the faces of two Moroi, Jesse Zeklos and Ralf Sarcozy. They'd just stepped in line behind Eddie and me and looked more self-satisfied and annoying than usual. Jesse was all bronzed good looks and quick thinking. Ralf was his slightly less attractive and slightly less intelligent sidekick. They were quite possibly the two people I hated most at this school, mainly due to some nasty rumors they'd spread about me doing some very explicit things with them. It was Mason's strong-arming that had forced them to tell the truth to the school, and I don't think they'd ever forgiven me for that.

"Punch Alberta? Hardly." I started to turn around, but Ralf kept talking.

"We heard you threw a big hissy fit in the gym when you found out who you were with."

"'Hissy fit'? What are you, sixty? All I did was - " I paused and carefully chose my words. " - register my opinion."

"Well," said Jesse. "I suppose if anyone's going to keep an eye on that Strigoi wannabe, it might as well be you. You're the biggest badass around here."

The grudging tone in his voice made it sound like he was complimenting me. I didn't see it that way at all. Before he could utter another word, I was standing right in front of him, with barely any space between us. In what I considered a true sign of discipline, I didn't put my hand around his throat. His eyes widened in surprise.

"Christian has nothing to do with any Strigoi," I said in a low voice.

"His parents - "

"Are his parents. And he's Christian. Don't confuse them." Jesse had been on the wrong side of my anger before. He was clearly remembering that, and his fear warred with his desire to trash-talk Christian in front of me. Surprisingly, the latter won out.

"Earlier you acted like being with him was the end of the world, and now you're defending him? You know how he is - he breaks rules all the time. Are you saying you seriously don't believe there's any chance at all he might turn Strigoi like his parents?"

"None," I said. "Absolutely none. Christian's more willing to take a stand against Strigoi than probably any other Moroi here." Jesse's eyes flicked curiously toward Ralf before returning to me. "He even helped me fight against those ones in Spokane. There is no chance of him ever, ever turning Strigoi." I racked my brain, trying to recall who had been assigned to Jesse for the field experience. "And if I hear you spreading that crap around, Dean isn't going to be able to save you from me."

"Or me," added Eddie, who had come to stand right beside me.

Jesse swallowed and took a step back. "You're such a liar. You can't lay a hand on me. If you get suspended now, you'll never graduate."

He was right, of course, but I smiled anyway. "Might be worth it. We'll have to see, huh?"

It was at that point that Jesse and Ralf decided they didn't want anything from the lunch line after all. They stalked off, and I heard something that sounded suspiciously like "crazy bitch."

"Jerks," I muttered. Then I brightened. "Oh, hey. Doughnuts."

I got a chocolate-glazed, and then Eddie and I hurried off to find our Moroi and get to class. He grinned at me. "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you just defended Christian's honor. Isn't he a pain in the ass?"

"Yes," I said, licking icing off my fingers. "He is. But for the next six weeks, he's my pain in the ass."



At first, things weren't too different from any other day. Dhampirs and Moroi attended separate classes in the first half of the school day, then joined up after lunch. Christian had most of the same afternoon classes I'd had last semester, so it was almost like following my own schedule again. The difference was that I was no longer a student in these classes. I didn't sit at a desk or have to do any of the work. I was also a lot more uncomfortable since I had to stand at the back of the room the entire time, along with other novices who were guarding Moroi. Outside the school, this was what it was usually like. Moroi came first. Guardians were shadows.

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