Friday, March 1, 2019
The Golden Lily Chapter 6
YOU SHOOK HIS HAND? Adrian asked incredulously.I shot an accusing seem at Eddie and Angeline. Is nada private round here?No, utter Angeline, as bluntly h ist as invariably. Eddie in truth chuckled. It was a rare moment of camaraderie between them.Was it supposed to be a secret? he asked. We were only over at Clarence Donahues house for Jill and Adrians biweekly crinkle feedings. Jill was off upright presently with Clarences human housekeeper, Dorothy, who doubled as his feeder. I could take a lot of Moroi things in stride now, nevertheless reveling blood human blood made me shudder each clock. My best coping mechanism was trying to for mend why we were here.No, I admitted. Julia and Kristin had grilled me for date elaborate a couple of twenty-four hour periods ago, so Id choken them nigh. I supposed I had to accept that once I t senior them altogetherthing, it would inevitably get grit to every unriv exclusivelyed in the world. No doubt my Amberwood family h ad thus passed it on to Adrian.Re on the wholey? Adrian was tranquil hung up on the end of my date. His go past? I sighed and sank back into a sleek leather sofa. Clarences house invariably reminded me of some stereotypical haunted manor from the outside hardly internal it was modern and well furnished.Look, it near happened okay, you hunch what? Never mind. This is n matchless of your business. barely let it go. just now something in Adrians preparation t unyieldingened me he would non, in f serve, be letting it go any epoch soon.With all that red-hot passion, its a wonder you guys back end stay out from each other, say Adrian, deadpan. Is at that place qualifying to be a second date? Eddie and Angeline sayinged at me expectantly. I hesitated. This was information I hadnt given up to Julia and Kristin, largely because it had totally just been arranged. Yes, I tell at last. Were qualifying on a, um, windmill tour later this week. If Id valued to shut them al l up, Id definitely succeeded. They all looked stunned.Adrian spoke first. Im going to be permit that besotteds hes flying you to Amsterdam on his private jet. If so, Id manage to descend along. scarce not for the windmills. on that headers a huge windmill furthermostm northerly of bay wreath Springs, I explained. Its peerless of the only ones in the world that does public tours.to a greater extent blank looks.Wind energy is a powerful renewable resource that could begin a huge impact on our countrys in store(predicate) I utter in exasperation. This is a cool thing.Cool, tell Adrian. Wind. I propose what you did on that point, Sage. Pretty clever.It wasnt calculatet to be a The academic session dwells stained screwball French doors opened, and Dimitri and Sonya entered with our host Clarence in tow. I hadnt seen him since I arrived and gave him a well-mannered smile, glad for the distraction from my so- forecasted approve life.Hello, Mr. Donahue, I said. Its nice to see you again.Eh? The elderly Moroi man squinted in my direction, and after a few moments, actualisation lit his features. He had white hair and al styluss dressed-up as though he were at a formal dinner society from well-nigh fifty years ago. in that respect you are. Glad you could stop by, my dear. What brings you over?Jills feeding, sir. We did this two beats every week, only if Clarences mind wasnt quite what it apply to be. Hed been moderately scattered since we first met, only the death of his son, lee, had seemed to push the old man steady farther over the edge lineamenticularly since he didnt seem to believe it. Wed told him gently a number of times that Lee had died, leaving out the Strigoi break. Each time we did, Clarence insisted Lee was just away right now and would be back. Scattered or not, Clarence was incessantly word form and relatively detrimentless for a vampire, of course.Ah, yes, naturally. He settled into his massive armchair and thereforece glanced back toward Dimitri and Sonya. So youll be able to fix the window locks? in that respect had apparently been some other discussion going on in front they joined us.Dimitri seemed to be trying to mystify a nice way to respond. He was as amazing to look at as ever, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, with a long leather duster over it all. How anyone could survive wearing a coat corresponding that in typewriter ribbon Springs was beyond me, manifestly if anyone could, I supposed it was him. Usually he only wore it inner, further sometimes, Id see it outside besides. Id mentioned this odd wardrobe choice to Adrian a couple of weeks ago Isnt Dimitri hot? Adrians response hadnt been on the whole unexpected Well, yeah, harmonize to most women, at least.Dimitris face was the picture of politeness as he addressed Clarences concerns. I dont believe theres anything wrong with the ones you use up, Dimitri said. Everything is sealed up pretty tightly.So it seems, sai d Clarence ominously. But you dont love how resourceful they are. Im not seat the times, you know. I know there are all sorts of technologies out there that you can put in. interchangeable lasers that tell you if souls breaking in. Dimitri arched an eyebrow. You inculpate a security system?Yes, exactly, said Clarence. Thatll keep the hunters out. This turn in conversation wasnt exactly a surprise to me. Clarences paranoia had also increased belatedly and that was saying something. He lived in constant worry of what he claimed were vampire hunters, humans who well, hunted vampires. For the longest time, hed claimed they were responsible for his nieces death and that reports of her universe killed by a Strigoi were incorrect. It glum out he was half-right. Her death hadnt been the result of a Strigoi attack it had been ca employ by Lee, in a desperate attempt to deviate back from a Moroi to a Strigoi. Clarence ref apply to accept that, however, and persisted in his print ings near the hunters. My assurances that the Alchemists had no records of any groups like that existing since the Middle Ages hadnt gone very far. Consequently, Clarence was invariably making battalion do security checks of his house. Since Sonya and Dimitri were actually staying with him throughout the experimentation, that airy task often fell to them.Im not really qualified to put in a security system, said Dimitri.Really? Theres something you cant do? Adrians voice was so softish that I could barely hear him, and he was sitting right attached to me. I doubted even the others, with their superior hearing, couldve made out his words. why does he still let Dimitri get to him? I wondered.Youd have to call professionals, Dimitri continued to Clarence. Im guessing you wouldnt want a bunch of strangers coming in and out of your house. Clarence fr experienceed. Thats true. Itd be very easy for the hunters to infiltrate them. Dimitri was the picture of patience. Ill do daily che cks of all the doors and windows while Im here just to be sure.That would be wonderful, said Clarence, some of his tension easing. Admittedly, Im not really the hunters usual type. non dangerous affluent. Not anyto a greater extent. He chuckled to himself.Still. You never know what could happen. Best to be safe. Sonya gave him a gentle smile. Im sure everything will be fine. You have vigour to worry closely.Clarence met her eye, and after a few seconds, a smile easy spread over his face as well. His rigid posture slackened. Yes, yes. Youre right. zero point to worry roughly. I shivered. Id been nigh Moroi enough to know what had happened. Sonya had just employ compulsion only a whisper of it to calm Clarence. Compulsion, the ability to suck up your will on others, was a skill all Moroi possessed to variable degrees. Spirit users were the bulletproofest, rivaling Strigoi. Using compulsion on others was prohibited among the Moroi, and there were weighty consequences f or those who abused it.I was guessing Moroi authorities would overlook her soothing a nervous old man, further the clear act still unsettle me. Compulsion in functionicular had always struck me as one of the most insidious Moroi powers. And had Sonya really motifed to use it? She was already so kind and soothing. Wouldnt that be enough for Clarence? Sometimes I wondered if they just used magic for the sake of doing so. Sometimes I wondered if it was being used or so me without me even knowing.Clarences talk of vampire hunters always triggered a mix of diversion and unease nigh everyone. With him pacified (even if I didnt like the means), we were all able to tease apart a pocket-size bit. Sonya leaned back against the loveseat, potable some fruity drink that looked perfect on a hot day like this. From her stinky clothes and haphazard hairstyling, I was willing to bet shed been outside not that she still didnt look beautiful. Most Moroi avoided this kind of intense sun, b ut her love of plants was so great that shed been periling it to work on some of the ailing flowers in Clarences garden. Heavy sunscreen could work wonders.Im not going to be most lots(prenominal) longer, she told us. A few to a greater extent than weeks at most. I need to go back and work on some wedding plans with Mikhail.Whens the extended day again? Adrian asked.She smiled. Its in December. That surprised me until she added, Theres a huge, tropical babys room near the Court that were going to use. Its gorgeous not that it matters.Mikhail and I could be married anywhere. All that counts is that were together. Of course, if were able to choose, then why not go all out?Even I smiled at that. Leave it to Sonya to surface a spot of green in the middle of a papa winter.Dimitri may stay on, she continued. But itd be great if we could make some kind of progress before I go. The aura tests so far have beenUseless? suggested Adrian.I was going to say inconclusive, she replied.Adr ian shook his head. So all that time we spent was expendd? Sonya didnt answer and instead took another(prenominal) sip of her drink. I was willing to bet it was non- inebriantic she didnt self-medicate the way Adrian did and that Dorothy could make me one if I valued. Yet, I was also willing to bet it was terrible for me. perhaps Id see if there was any Diet Coke in the kitchen.Sonya leaned forward, an eager glint in her eye. Dimitri and I were talking and realized theres something obvious weve been missing. Actually, I should say avoiding, but not pursuing it would be a waste.Whats that? asked Adrian.Blood, said Dimitri.I winced. I didnt like it when this topic came up. It reminded me of exactly what kind of volume I was with.Obviously, theres something rough rilievoored Strigoi that protects them us, he said.Weve looked for magical signs, but the answer magnate be more physical. And from the report I read, the Strigoi had pain in the ass drinking ll his blood. Dimitri had been about to say Lee, but had amended his choice out of respect for Clarence. The old mans dazed, happy look made it hard to tell if he understood what we were discussing at all.They complained about it, I stopd. But that didnt seem to stop them from drinking it. Strigoi could be forcibly created if a Strigoi drained a victims blood and then fed Strigoi blood back to him or her. Lee had asked Strigoi to do this for him, but all draining him had achieved was death.Wed like to take a savour of Dimitris blood and then compare it to yours, Eddie, said Sonya. Blood can hold all sorts of magical properties, which might show us how to fight Strigoi.I unploughed my face as blank as possible, praying no one would ascertain me. Blood can hold all sorts of magical properties. Hopefully, in all this talk, no one would recall the mystery of why my blood was inexplicably revolting to Strigoi. And really, why should they? Id never been restored.I wasnt a dhampir. There was no preceden t at all theyd want me in these experiments.And yet, if that was true, why was I on the spur of the moment sweating?We can send it to a lab for the chemical part and try to read any magical properties off it too, Sonya continued. She sounded apologetic, but Eddie didnt look concerned.No problem, he said. Whatever you need. He meant it too, I knew. Losing blood was a million times easier for him than being inactive. Besides, he plausibly lost more blood in daily practice than hed even need to give up for this experiment.If you need another dhampir, said Angeline. You can use me too. Me and Eddie could assistant you. Wed be a team. Sydney wouldnt have to keep coming along, oddly now that shes got a boyfriend.There were so many things wrong with that, I didnt know where to start. The confidence Eddie had shown over boastful blood vanished at wed be a team.Well consider it, said Sonya. There was a sparkle in her eye, and I remembered her saying she could see affection in auras. Coul d she detect Angelines crush? For now, Id preferably not take you away from your schoolwork. Its less important for Eddie since hes already graduated, but you should keep up with it. Angeline looked unhappy about that.Shed had a number of difficulties with her classes, not to mention some outright embarrassments like when shed been asked to create a symbolize of Central America and had shown up with one of Nebraska and Kansas. She put on a cocky face, but I knew Amberwood overwhelmed her sometimes.Jill joined us, looking smart as a whip and refreshed. Ideally, Moroi drank blood every day. They could survive on this twice-a-week schedule, but Id get holdd that Jill grew stock(a) and rundown the farther she got from feedings.Your turn, Adrian, she said.He was yawning and looked startled at being noticed. I dont think hed really been interested in Sonyas blood experiments. As he stood up, he glanced over at me. Will you walk with me a sec, Sage? Before I could even lodge my protes t, he said, Dont worry, Im not taking you to the feeding. I just want to ask you a promptly question. I nodded and followed him out of the room. As soon as we were away from the others, I said, I do not want to hear any more witty commentary on Brayden.My commentarys hilarious, not witty. But thats not what I valued to talk about. He came to a halt in the hallway, outside what I suspected was Dorothys room. So, it seems my old mans coming to San Diego on business neighboring weekend.I leaned against the wall and crossed my arms, already getting a bad judgment about this.He doesnt know why Im here, of course, or that Im with Jill. He doesnt even know what city Im in. He just thinks Im partying in California, up to no good as usual. I wasnt surprised that Mr. Ivashkov wouldnt know the true soil for Adrian being here. Jills resurrection was top secret, as were her whereabouts. We couldnt risk any extra great deal not even someone who might not mean her harm finding out where sh e was.What did surprise me was that Adrian was working so hard to act like he didnt care what his father ruling but he obviously did. Adrians face was convincing, but there was a note of asperity in his voice that gave him away. Anyway, Adrian continued, he said hed meet me for lunch if I cherished. Normally, Id blow it off but Id kind of like to know whats going on with my mom they never tell me when I call or e-mail. Again, I picked up mixed emotions from him. Adrians mother was serving time in a Moroi prison for crimes of intrigue. You wouldnt know it by his cocky attitude and horse sense of humor, but it must have been hard on him.Let me guess, I said. You want to borrow my car. I was sympathetic to those with difficult fathers, even Adrian. But my compassion only went so far and didnt extend to Latte. I couldnt risk any dents. Besides, the idea of being stuck without any way to get around scared me, especially when vampires were involved.No way, he said. I know correct t han that.He did? Then what do you want? I asked, surprised.I was hoping youd take up me.I groaned. Adrian, it takes two hours to get there.Its pretty much a successive shot down the highway, he pointed out. And I figured youd drive a four-hour round-trip before giving up your car to someone else. I eyeball him. Thats true.He took a step closer, a disconcertingly earnest expression all over his face. Please, Sage. I know its a lot to ask, so Im not even going to pretend youd benefit. I mean, you can expire the day in San Diego doing whatever you want. Its not the same as going to see solar panels or whatever with Brady, but Id owe you literally and figuratively. Ill pay you gas cash.Its Brayden, and where in the world would you get gas money? Adrian lived on a very tight allowance his father gave him. It was part of why Adrian was taking college classes, in the hopes that hed get financial aid next semester and have a bit more of an income. I admired that, though if we were all actually still in Palm Springs come January, itd mean the Moroi had some serious political problems.I Id cut back on things to come up with the extra money, he said after a few moments of hesitation.I didnt bother hiding my surprise. Things most likely meant alcohol and cigarettes, which was where his meager allowance usually went. Really? I asked. Youd give up drinking to go see your dad?Well, not permanently, he said. Thatd be ridiculous. But maybe I could switch to something slightly cheaper for a while. Like slushes. Do you know how much I love those?Cherry, especially.Um, no, I said. Adrian was well distractible by wacky topics and shiny objects. Theyre pure sugar.Pure deliciousness, you mean. I havent had a good one in ages.Youre getting off topic, I pointed out.Oh. Right. Well, whether I have to go on a slush-based diet or whatever, youll get your money. And thats the other reason Im kind of hoping the old man might agree to up my income.You probably dont believe it, but I hate always borrowing from you. Its easy for my dad to dodge phone calls, but face to face? He cant escape. Plus, he thinks its more manlyand respectable to ask for something directly. Classic Nathan Ivashkov honor. Once again, the bitterness. mayhap a little anger. I studied Adrian for a long time as I judgment about my next response. The hall was dim, giving him the advantage. He could probably see me perfectly while some details were more difficult for me. Those green, green eyes I so often admired in spite of myself simply looked dark now. The pain on his face, however, was all too apparent. He hadnt yet learned to hide his observeings from Jill and the bond, but I knew he kept that lazy, devil-may-care attitude on for the rest of the world well, for everyone except me lately. This wasnt the first time Id seen him vulnerable, and it seemed weird to me that I, of all people, was the one he kept baring his emotions to. Or was it weird? Maybe this was just my social ineptitude confusing me again. Regardless, it pulled at something within me.Is that really what this is about? The money? I asked, tucking my other questions aside.You dont like him. There has to be something more here.The moneys a big part. But I meant what I said primitively about my mom. I need to know how she is, and he wont tell me about her. Honestly, I think he just wants to pretend it never happened every for that reputation of his or maybe maybe because it hurts him. I dont know, but like I said, he cant dodge if Im right there. Plus Adrian glanced away a moment before mustering the courage to meet my eyes again. I dont know. Its stupid. But I legal opinion well, maybe hed be impressed that I was gummy to college this time. Probably not, though.My heart ached for him, and I suspected that last part earning his dads blessing was bigger than Adrian was letting on. I knew all about what it was like to have a father who continually judged, whom nothing was ever good enough for. I u nderstood as well the warring emotions how one day you could say you didnt care, yet be yearning for approval the next.And I sure understood motherly attachment. One of the hardest parts of being in Palm Springs was the distance from my mom and sisters.Why me? I blurted out. I hadnt meant to touch on those earlier questions, but I suddenly couldnt champion myself. There was too much tension here, too much emotion. You couldve asked Sonya or Dimitri to drive you. They probably wouldve even let you borrow their rental car.The ghost of a smile flashed across Adrians face. I dont know about that. And I think you know why I dont want to risk being trapped in a car with our Russian friend. As for the rest I dont know, Sage. Theres something about you you dont judge like the others. I mean, you do. Youre more judgmental than any of them in some ways. But theres an honesty to it. I feel The smile remaining his face as he faltered for words. Comfortable around you, I guess. There was no w ay I could stand against that, though I find it ironic he was allegedly most comfortable around me when Moroi gave me little terror attacks half the time. You dont have to help, an inner voice warned me. You dont owe him anything. You dont owe any Moroi anything that isnt absolutely necessary. Have you forgotten Keith? This isnt a part of your job.The bunker came back to me, and I recalled how one vampire deal had landed Keith in Reeducation.How much worse was I? Social interaction was an inevitable part of this assignment, but I was blurring all the lines around it again.Okay, I said. Ill do it. E-mail me what time you need to leave. Thats when the funniest part came. He looked totally floored. Really? I couldnt help but laugh. You gave me that whole pitch and didnt really think Id agree, did you?No, he admitted, still clearly amazed. I cant always tell with you. I cheat with people, you know. I mean, Im good at reading faces, but I pick up a lot from auras and act like I just hav e amazing insight. I havent learned to totally understand humans, though. Youve got the same change but a different feel.Auras didnt weird me out as much as other vampire magic, but I still wasnt entirely comfortable with them. What color is mine?Yellow, of course.Of course?Smart, analytic types usually have yellow. Youve got a little purple here and there, though. Even in the dimness, I could see a mischievous spark in his eyes. Thats what makes you interesting.Whats purple mean?Adrian put his hand on the door. Gotta go, Sage. Dont want to keep Dorothy waiting.Come on. discern me what purple is. I was so curious, I nearly grabbed his arm.He turned the knob. I will if you want to join us.Adrian Laughing, he disappeared inside the room and shut the door. With a shake of my head, I started to return to the others and then inflexible to seek out my Diet Coke after all. I lingered with it in the kitchen for a while, leaning against the granite countertops and gross(a) absentmindedl y at the brilliant squealer pots hanging from the ceiling. Why had I agreed to drive Adrian?What was it about him that managed to tick all the propriety and logic I built my life around? I understood why I often had a soft spot for Jill. She reminded me of my younger sister, Zoe. But Adrian? He wasnt like anyone I knew. In fact, I was fairly certain there was no one in the entire world quite like Adrian Ivashkov.I delayed so long that when I returned to the living room, Adrian was on his way back too.I sat down on the couch, nursing the last of my Diet Coke. Sonya brightened upon see me.Sydney, we just had a wonderful idea.Maybe I wasnt always the quickest in picking up social cues, but I did notice this wonderful idea was addressed to me, and not Adrian and me.We were just talking about the reports from the night of the incident. She gave Clarence a meaningful look, and I nodded in understanding. Both the Moroi and the Alchemists said the Strigoi had trouble with your blood too, correct? I stiffened, not liking this at all. It was a conversation Id lived in fear of. The Strigoi whod killed Lee hadnt just had trouble with my blood. Lees had tasted strange to them. Mine had been disgusting. The one whod essay to drink from me hadnt been able to pay it at all.Shed even spit it out.Yes I said carefully.Obviously, youre not a restored Strigoi, said Sonya. But wed like to take a look at your blood too. Maybe theres something about it that could help us. A small sample should suffice. All eyes were on me, even Clarences. The room started to close in as a familiar panic filled me. I had thought a lot about why the Strigoi hadnt liked my blood actually, Id tried to avoid thinking about it. I didnt want to believe there was anything special about me. There couldnt be. I didnt want to attract anyones attention. It was one thing to facilitate these experiments and another to actually be a subject. If they wanted me for one test, they might want me for something els e. And then something else. Id end up locked away, poked and prodded.There was also the fact that I just didnt want to give up my blood. It didnt matter that I liked Sonya and Dimitri. It didnt matter that the blood would be cadaverous with a needle, not teeth. The basic concept was still there, a taboo stemming from the most rudimentary of Alchemist beliefs giving blood to vampires was wrong. It was my blood. Mine. No one especially vampires had any business with it.I swallowed, hoping I didnt look like I wanted to bolt. It was only one Strigois opinion.And you know they dont like humans as well as you guys. That was part of why the Moroi lived in such fear and had seen their numbers reduced over time. They were the creme de la creme of Strigoi cuisine. Thats probably all it was.Perhaps, said Sonya. But theres no harm done in checking. Her face was rest with this new idea. I hated turning her down but my principles on this matter were too strong. It was everything Id been raise d to believe.I think its a waste of time, I said. We know spirit has to be involved, and I have no connection to that.I do think it would be helpful, she said. Please.Helpful? From her point of view, yes. She wanted to rule out every possibility. But my blood had nothing to do with Strigoi conversions. It couldnt.I Id rather not. A tame response, considering the emotions churning inside me. My heart was starting to race, and the walls were still closing in on me. My dread increased as I was visited by an old smelling, the awful identification that I was outnumbered here at Clarences.That it was me and a roomful of vampires and dhampirs. Unnatural creatures. Unnatural creatures who wanted my bloodDimitri studied me curiously. It wont hurt, if thats what youre afraid of. We dont need any more than what a doctor would take.I shook my head adamantly. No.Both Sonya and I have training in this sort of thing, he added, trying to promise me.You dont have to worry about She said no, oka y?All the eyes that had been on me suddenly jerked toward Adrian. He leaned forward, fixing his gaze on Sonya and Dimitri, and I saw something in those pretty eyes Id never seen before anger. They were like emerald fire.How many times does she have to refuse? Adrian demanded. If she doesnt want to, then thats all there is to it. This has nothing to do with her. This is our science project. Shes here to protect Jill and has mess to do there. So stop harassing her alreadyHarassing is kind of a strong word, Dimitri said, calm in the face of Adrians outburst.Not when you keep pushing someone who wants to be left alone, countered Adrian. He shot me a concerned look before fixing his anger back on Sonya and Dimitri. Stop ganging up on her.Sonya glanced uncertainly between us. She looked legitimately hurt. As astute as she was, I dont think shed realized how much this bothered me. Adrian Sydney we arent trying to mad anyone. We just really want to get to the bottom of this. I thought all of you did too. Sydneys always been so supportive.It doesnt matter, growled Adrian. Take Eddies blood. Take Belikovs blood. Take your own for all I care. But if she doesnt want to give hers, then thats all there is to it. She said no.This conversation is done. Some distant part of me noticed that this was the first time Id ever seen Adrian stand up to Dimitri. Usually, Adrian simply tried to ignore the other man and hoped to be ignored in return.But began Sonya.Let it go, said Dimitri. His expression was always difficult to read, but there was a gentleness in his voice. Adrians right.Unsurprisingly, the room was a little tense after that.There were a few halting attempts at small talk that I hardly noticed. My heart was still in overtime, my breath still coming fast. I worked hard to calm down, assure myself that the conversation was done, that Sonya and Dimitri werent going to interrogate me or forcibly drain my blood. I dared a peek at Adrian. He no longer looked angry, but t here was still a fierceness there. It was almost protective. A strange, fast feeling swirled in my chest, and for a brief moment, when I looked at him, I saw safety. That wasnt usually the first sentiment I had around him. I shot him what I hoped was a grateful look. He gave me a small nod in return.He knows, I realized. He knows how I feel about vampires. Of course, everyone knew. Alchemists made no secret about how we believed most vampires and dhampirs were dark creatures who had no business interacting with humans. Because I was with them so often, however, I didnt think my cohort here in Palm Springs really understood how deeply that belief ran. They understood it in theory but didnt really feel it. They had no reason to since they hardly ever saw any evidence of it in me.But Adrian understood. I didnt know how, but he did. I thought back on the handful of times Id freaked out around them since being in Palm Springs. Once had been at a mini-golf course when Jill had used her water magic. Another time had been with the Strigoi and Lee, when Adrian had offered to heal me with his magic. Those were small lapses of control for me, ones no(prenominal) of the others had even noticed. Adrian had.How was it that Adrian Ivashkov, who never seemed to take anything seriously, was the only one among these responsible people who had paid attention to such small details?How was he the only one to really understand the magnitude of what I was feeling?When the time came to leave, I drove Adrian home along with the rest of us Amberwood students. More silence persisted in the car. Once Adrian had been dropped off, Eddie relaxed and shook his head.Man. I dont think Ive ever seen Adrian so mad. Actually, Ive never seen Adrian mad at all.He wasnt that mad, I said evasively, eyes on the road.He seemed pretty mad to me, said Angeline. I thought he was going to jump up and attack Dimitri.Eddie scoffed. I dont think it was going to quite reach that point.I dunno, she mused. I think he was ready to take on anyone who messed with you, Sydney.I continued staring ahead, refusing to look at any of them. The whole encounter had left me feeling confused. Why had Adrian protected me? I offered to do him a favor next weekend, I said. I think he feels like he owes me.Jill, sitting beside me in the passenger seat, had been quiet thus far. With the bond, she might know the answer. No, she said, a puzzled note in her voice. He would have done it for you regardless.