Solved by: AllAcademicHelp.com
Previous answers to this question 27: 16 7 3 0 1
“ADRIAN?” I SAID IN SURPRISE. “What’s he have to do with any of this?”
Jill simply shook her head and looked at me beseechingly. “Please. Just take me to him.”
“But we’ll be back there in a couple days for your feeding.”
“I know,” said Jill. “But I need to see him now. He’s the only one who will understand.”
I found that hard to believe. “You’re saying I wouldn’t? Or that even Eddie wouldn’t?”
She groaned. “No. You can’t tell Eddie. He’ll flip out.”
I tried not to frown as I mulled everything over. Why would Jill need to see Adrian after this mishap at school? Adrian couldn’t do anything to help that I couldn’t. As an Alchemist, I was in the best position to file a complaint. Did Jill just want moral support? I remembered how Jill had hugged Adrian goodbye and suddenly wondered if she had a crush on him. Because surely, if Jill needed to feel protected by someone, Eddie would be a better source to turn to. Or would he? Eddie was likely to go throwing office desks around in his outrage. Keeping this from him might not be a bad idea.
“Okay,” I said at last. “Let’s go.”
I signed us out for off-campus travel, which took a little finagling. Mrs. Weathers was quick to point out that Jill had been banished to her dorm for the rest of the school day. I was equally quick to point out that classes were almost done, technically meaning the school day was almost finished. Mrs. Weathers couldn’t fault the logic but still made us wait the full ten minutes until the last bell rang. Jill sat there, tapping her foot anxiously against the chair. We drove the half hour to Clarence’s estate in the hills, saying little. I didn’t really know what kind of small talk to make. “How was your first day of school?” was hardly an appropriate topic. And anyway, each time I thought about it, I just grew angrier. I couldn’t believe any teacher would have the audacity to accuse Jill of drinking and having a hangover. There was really no way to prove something like that, and besides, you could tell after spending five minutes with her that it was impossible.
A middle-aged human woman greeted us at the door. Her name was Dorothy, and she was Clarence’s housekeeper and feeder. Dorothy was pleasant enough, if a little distracted, and wore a stiff gray dress with a high collar to hide the bite marks on her neck. I smiled back at her and maintained my professional mode but couldn’t help a shudder when I thought about what she was. How could anyone do that? How could anyone offer their blood up willingly like that? My stomach lurched, and I found myself keeping my distance from her. I didn’t even want to accidentally brush her arm when I walked past.
Dorothy escorted us back to the room we’d all been sitting in the day before. There was no sign of Clarence, but Adrian was lying on a plush green couch, watching a TV that had been cleverly concealed inside an ornate wooden cabinet last time. When he saw us, he turned the TV off with a remote control and sat up. Dorothy excused herself and shut the French doors behind her.
“Well, this is a nice surprise,” he said. He looked us over. Jill had changed into her normal clothes during her isolation today, but I still had on the Amberwood blouse and skirt. “Sage, aren’t you guys supposed to have uniforms? This looks like what you usually wear.”
“Cute,” I said, suppressing an eye roll.
Adrian gave me a mock bow. “Careful. You almost smiled.” He reached for a bottle of brandy sitting on a nearby table. Small glasses were arranged around it, and he poured himself a generous amount. “You guys want one?”
“It’s the middle of the afternoon,” I said incredulously. Not that it’d really matter for me what time of day it was. “I’ve got a wicked hangover,” he declared, giving us a mock toast. “This is just the thing to cure it.”
“Adrian, I need to talk to you,” said Jill earnestly.
He looked over at her, the smirk fading from his face. “What’s up, Jailbait?”
Jill glanced uneasily at me. “Would you mind…”
I took the hint and tried not to let on how irritated I was by all the secrets. “Sure. I’ll just… I’ll just go outside again.” I didn’t like the idea of being exiled, but no way was I going to wander the halls of the old house. I’d face the heat.
I hadn’t gotten very far down the hall when someone stepped out in front of me. I let out a small scream and nearly jumped three feet in the air. A heartbeat later, I realized it was Lee – not that it reassured me much. No matter how ostensibly friendly I was with this group, old defenses inside me kicked up at being alone with a new vampire. Running into him didn’t help matters either because my brain processed it as an attack! Lee just stood there, staring at me. From the expression on his face, he was just as startled to find me in his house – though perhaps not quite as alarmed about it as I was.
“Sydney?” asked Lee. “What are you doing here?”
Within moments, my fear became embarrassment, like I’d been caught prowling. “Oh… I’m here with Jill. She had kind of a rough day and needed to talk to Adrian. I wanted to give them some privacy and was going to just… uh, go outside.”
Lee’s confusion transformed into a smile. “You don’t have to do that. No need for exile. Come on, I was going to get a snack in the kitchen.” My face must have shown abject horror because he laughed. “Not the human kind.”
I blushed and followed along with him. “Sorry,” I said. “It’s instinct.”
“No problem. You Alchemists are kind of jumpy, you know.”
“Yeah.” I laughed uncomfortably. “I know.”
“I’ve always wanted to meet one of you, but you guys certainly aren’t what I expected.” He opened the door to a spacious kitchen. The rest of the house might be antique and gloomy, but inside here, everything was bright and modern. “If it makes you feel any better, you’re not as bad as Keith. He was here earlier today and was so nervous, he literally kept looking over his shoulder.” Lee paused thoughtfully. “I think it might have been because Adrian kept laughing like a mad scientist at those old black-and-white movies he was watching.”
I came to an abrupt stop. “Keith was here – today? What for?”
“You’d have to ask Dad. That’s who he talked to the most.” Lee opened the refrigerator and produced a can of Coke. “Want one?”
“I – uh, no. Too much sugar.”
He grabbed another can. “Diet?”
I hesitated only a moment before taking it. “Sure. Thanks.” I hadn’t intended to eat or drink anything in this house, but the can seemed safe enough. It was sealed and looked like it had come straight from a human grocery store, not some vampiric cauldron. I opened it and took a sip as my mind spun. “You have no idea at all what it was about?”
“Huh?” Lee had added an apple to his menu and hoisted himself up so he sat on the counter. “Oh, Keith? No. But if I had to guess, it was about me. Like he was trying to figure out if I’m staying here or not.” He took a giant bite into the apple, and I wondered if having fangs made that harder at all. “He just likes his facts straight,” I said neutrally. As much as I disliked Keith, I still wanted a unified human front. I wasn’t entirely inaccurate, though. I was pretty sure Keith felt undermined at learning there was one extra Moroi in “his territory” and was now making sure he was in on everything. Part of it was good Alchemist business, sure, but most was probably Keith’s wounded pride.
Lee didn’t seem to think much of it and kept chewing his apple, though I could feel his eyes studying me. “You said Jill had a bad day? Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, I think so. I mean, I don’t know. I’m not even sure how things got messed up. She wanted to see Adrian for some reason. Maybe he can help.”
“He’s Moroi,” said Lee pragmatically. “Maybe it’s just something only he could understand – something you and Eddie couldn’t. No offense.”
“None taken,” I said. It was only natural that Jill and I would have distinct differences – I was a human, and she was a vampire, after all. We couldn’t be more different if we tried, and in fact, I kind of preferred it that way. “You go to college… in Los Angeles? A human school?” It wasn’t that weird a behavior for Moroi. Sometimes they stuck together in their own communities; sometimes they tried to blend into large human cities.
Lee nodded. “Yup. And it was hard for me at first too. I mean, even without others obviously knowing you’re a vampire… well, there’s just a sense of otherness you’re always aware of. I eventually adjusted… but I know what she’s going through.”
“Poor Jill,” I said, suddenly realizing I’d come at this situation all wrong. Most of my energy had been fixed on the school believing Jill’s illness was a hangover. I should’ve focused on why she was sick in the first place. Anxiety over this new life change had to be taking its toll. I’d battled my own uneasiness, trying to figure out friendships and social cues – but at least I was still dealing with my own race. “I didn’t really think about what she’s going through.”
“Do you want me to talk to her?” asked Lee. He set the apple core aside. “Not that I’m sure I have that much wisdom to share.”
“Anything might help,” I said honestly.
A silence fell between us, and I began to feel uneasy. Lee seemed very friendly, but my old fears were too ingrained. Part of me felt like he didn’t so much want to get to know me as study me. Alchemists were clearly a novelty to him. “Do you mind me asking… the tattoo. It gives you special powers, right?”
It was nearly a repeat of the conversation at school, except Lee actually knew the truth behind it. I absentmindedly touched my cheek. “Not powers, exactly. There’s compulsion in it to keep us from talking about what we do. And I get a good immune system out of it. But the rest? I’m nothing special.”
“Fascinating,” he murmured. I looked away uneasily and tried to casually brush my hair back into my face.
Adrian stuck his head in just then. All his earlier humor was gone. “Ah, there you are. Can I talk to you in private for a sec?”
The question was directed to me, and Lee jumped off the counter. “I’ll take the cue. Is Jill still in the den?” Adrian nodded, and Lee glanced at me questioningly. “Do you want me to… ?”
I nodded. “That’d be great. Thank you.”
Lee left, and Adrian glanced back at me curiously. “What was that about?”
“Oh, we thought Lee might be able to help Jill with her problems,” I explained. “Since he can relate.”
“Yeah, you know. Adjusting to living with humans.”
“Oh,” said Adrian. He produced a pack of cigarettes and, to my complete astonishment, lit up right in front of me. “That. Yeah, I guess that’s good. But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about. I need you to get me out of this place.”
I was startled. This wasn’t about Jill?
“Out of Palm Springs?” I asked.
“No! Out of this place.” He gestured around him. “It’s like living in a retirement home! Clarence is taking a nap right now, and he eats at five. It’s so boring.”
“You’ve only been here for two days.”
“And that’s more than enough. The only thing keeping me alive is that he keeps a hefty supply of liquor on hand. But at the rate I’m going, that’ll be gone by the weekend. Jesus Christ, I’m climbing the walls.” His eyes fell on the cross at my neck. “Oh. Sorry. No offense to Jesus.”
I was still too baffled by the unexpected topic to feel much offense. “What about Lee? He’s here, right?”
“Yes,” agreed Adrian. “Sometimes. But he’s busy with… hell, I don’t know. School stuff. He’s going back to Los Angeles tomorrow, and that’ll be another boring night for me. Besides…” He looked around conspiratorially. “Lee’s nice enough, but he’s not… well, he’s not really into having fun. Not the way I am.”
“That might be a good thing,” I pointed out.
“No morality lectures, Sage. And hey, like I said, I like him okay, but he’s not here enough. When he is, he keeps to himself. He’s always checking himself out in the mirror, even more than I do. I heard him worrying about gray hair the other day.”
I didn’t care about Lee’s eccentricities. “Where would you even want to go? You don’t want…” A very unpleasant thought came to me. “You don’t want to enroll at Amberwood, do you?”
“What, and play 21 Jump Street with the rest of you? No, thank you.”
“Never mind. Look.” He put out the cigarette – on the counter – which I thought was kind of ridiculous since he’d hardly smoked any of it. Why bother with such a filthy habit if you weren’t going to use it all? “I need my own place, okay? You guys make things happen. Can’t you get me some swank bachelor’s pad like Keith has downtown so I can party with all the rich vacationers? Drinking alone is sad and pathetic. I need people. Even human people.”
“No,” I said. “I’m not authorized to do that. You aren’t… well, you aren’t really my responsibility. We’re just taking care of Jill – and Eddie, since he’s her bodyguard.”
Adrian scowled. “What about a car? Can you do that?”
I shook my head.
“What about your car? What if I drop you guys back off at the school and then borrow it for a while?”
“No,” I said swiftly. That was probably the craziest suggestion he could’ve made. Latte was my baby. I certainly wasn’t about to lend it out to a heavy drinker – especially to one who also happened to be a vampire. If there was ever a vampire who seemed particularly irresponsible, it was Adrian Ivashkov.
“You’re killing me here, Sage!”
“I’m not doing anything.”
“Exactly my point.”
“Look,” I said, growing irritated. “I told you. You’re not my responsibility. Talk to Abe if you want things changed. Isn’t he the reason you’re here?” Adrian’s annoyance and self-pity shifted to wariness. “What do you know about that?”
Right. He didn’t know I’d overheard their conversation.
“I mean, he’s the one who brought you guys here and made the arrangements with Clarence, right?” I hoped that would be convincing enough – and maybe yield me a little information on what Abe’s master plan was.
“Yes,” Adrian said, after several seconds of intense scrutiny. “But Abe wants me to stay in this tomb. If I got my own place, we’d have to keep it secret from him.”
I scoffed. “Then I’m definitely not helping, even if I could. You couldn’t pay me to cross Abe.”
I could see Adrian bracing for another argument and decided to make my exit. Turning my back on him and any further protests, I headed out of the kitchen and back to the living room. There, I found Jill and Lee talking, and she wore the first genuine smile I’d seen in a while. She laughed at some comment he made and then looked up at my entrance.
“Hey, Sydney,” she said.
“Hey,” I said. “Are you about ready to go?”
“Is it time?” she asked. Both she and Lee looked disappointed, but then she answered her own question. “I guess it is. You probably have homework, and Eddie’s probably worried already.”
Adrian entered the room behind me, looking pouty. Jill glanced at him, and for a moment, her gaze turned inward, like her mind had gone somewhere else. Then she turned back to me. “Yeah,” she said. “We should go. I hope we can talk later, Lee.”
“Me too,” he said, standing up. “I’ll be around here, off and on.”
Jill hugged Adrian goodbye, clearly reluctant to be leaving him too. With Lee, she’d looked mostly like she was sad to leave something that had just gotten interesting. With Adrian, there was more of a sense like she wasn’t sure how she was going to get by. Her next scheduled feeding was in two days, and Adrian was encouraging, telling her she was strong enough to get through the next school day. Despite how much he kept annoying me, I was moved by his compassion for the younger girl. Anyone who was that nice to Jill couldn’t be that bad. He was starting to surprise me.
“You look better,” I told her as we drove toward Vista Azul.
“Talking to Adrian… to both of them… it was helpful.”
“Do you think you’ll be okay tomorrow?”
“Yeah.” Jill sighed and leaned back against the seat. “It was just nerves. That, and I didn’t eat much breakfast.”
“Jill…” I bit my lip, hesitant to plunge forward. Confrontation wasn’t my strong suit, particularly with awkward personal topics. “You and Adrian…”
Jill gave me a wary look. “What about us?”
“Is there anything… I mean, are you guys… ?”
“No!” Out of the corner of her eye, I saw Jill turn bright pink. It was the most color I had ever seen in a vampire’s face. “Why would you say that?”
“Well. You were sick this morning. And then really adamant about seeing Adrian. You’re always sad to leave him too…”
Jill gaped. “Do you think I’m pregnant?”
“Not exactly,” I said, realizing it was kind of a nonsensical answer. “I mean, maybe. I don’t know. I’m just considering all the possibilities…”
“Well, don’t consider that one! There’s nothing going on between us. Nothing. We’re friends. He’d never be interested in me.” She said it with a dismal certainty – and maybe even a little wistfully.
“That’s not true,” I said, fumbling to undo the damage. “I mean, you’re younger, yeah, but you’re cute…” Yes, this was a terrible conversation. I was just babbling now.
“Don’t,” said Jill. “Don’t tell me I’m nice and pretty and have a lot to offer. Or whatever. None of that matters. Not when he’s still hung up on her.”
“Her? Oh. Rose.”
I’d nearly forgotten. The trip to Court had been the first time I’d seen Adrian in person, but I’d actually seen him once before on security camera footage when he’d been at a casino with Rose. The two of them had dated, though I wasn’t entirely sure how serious the relationship had been. When I’d helped Rose and Dimitri escape, the chemistry between those two had been off the charts, even if they’d both been in denial of it. Even I’d been able to spot it a mile away, and I knew next to nothing about romance. Seeing as Rose and Dimitri were officially a couple now, I had to assume things with Adrian hadn’t ended well.
“Yeah. Rose.” Jill sighed and stared vacantly ahead. “She’s all he sees when he closes his eyes. Flashing dark eyes and a body full of fire and energy. No matter how much he tries to forget her, no matter how much he drinks… she’s always there. He can’t escape her.”
Jill’s voice dripped with astonishing bitterness. I might have written it off as jealousy, except that she talked as though she’d been personally been wronged by Rose too.
“Jill? Are you okay?”
“Huh? Oh.” Jill shook her head, like she was shaking off the cobwebs of a dream. “Yeah, fine. Sorry. It’s been a weird day. I’m a little out of it. Didn’t you say we could pick up some things?” A sign for the next exit advertised a shopping center.
I rolled with the change in subject, glad to be away from personal matters, though I was still pretty confused. “Uh, yeah. We need sunscreen. And maybe we can get a little TV for the room.”
“That’d be great,” said Jill.
I left it at that and took the next exit. Neither of us spoke about Adrian for the rest of the night.
Do you need any assistance with this question?Send us your paper details nowWe’ll find the best professional writer for you!
READY TO PLACE AN ORDER