Chapter Five


AND ON THAT NOTE, Rose left me so she could tell the others goodbye.

Her words left me chilled. For half a second, I wanted to demand a reassessment of this mission. I wanted to insist that they send no less than a dozen guardians here with Jill, in the event her attackers came back. Soon, I dismissed that thought. One of the key parts of this plan working was simply not attracting attention. So long as her whereabouts were secret, Jill was safer if she blended in. A squadron of guardians would hardly be discreet and could attract notice from the larger Moroi community. We were doing the right thing. So long as no one knew we were here, all would be well.

Surely if I told myself that often enough, it would become true.

Yet why Rose's ominous statement? Why Eddie's presence? Had this mission really been bumped from "inconvenient" to "life-threatening"?

Knowing how close Jill and Rose were, I kind of expected their goodbye to be more tearful. Instead, it was Adrian whom Jill had the most difficulty leaving. She flung herself at him in a giant hug, fingers clinging to his shirt. The young Moroi girl had remained quiet for most of the visit, simply watching the rest of us in that curious, nervous way of hers. The most I'd heard her talk was when Lee had tried to draw her out earlier. Her goodbye display seemed to surprise Adrian too, though the snarky look he'd worn on his face softened into something like affection as he awkwardly patted her shoulder. "There, there, Jailbait. I'll see you again soon."

"I wish you were coming with us," she said in a small voice.

He crooked her a grin. "No, you don't. Maybe the rest of them can get away with playing back-to-school, but I'd be thrown out on my first day. At least here, I won't corrupt anyone... unless it's Clarence and his liquor cabinet."

"I'll be in touch," promised Jill.

His smile twitched, and he gave her a knowing look that was both amused and rueful. "So will I."

This small moment between them was odd. With his flippant, arrogant nature and her sweet shyness, they seemed like an unlikely pair of friends. Yet there was obvious affection between them. It didn't seem romantic but had a definite intensity I couldn't quite understand. I remembered the conversation I'd overheard between Abe and Adrian, where Abe had said it was imperative Adrian stay near Jill. Something told me there was a connection between that and what I was witnessing now, but I didn't have enough information to put it all together. I filed this mystery away for later.

I was sad to leave Rose but glad that our departure meant parting ways with Abe and Keith. Abe left with his typically cryptic remarks and a knowing look for me that I didn't appreciate. I dropped Keith off at his place before going on to Amberwood, and he told me he'd keep me updated. Honestly, I wondered what exactly he had to update me on, since I was doing most of the work around here. As far as I could tell, he really had nothing to do except lounge around in his downtown apartment. Still, it was worth it to be rid of him. I never thought I'd be so happy to drive off with a vampire and a dhampir. Jill still seemed troubled during the car ride to the school. Eddie, sensing this, tried to soothe her. He peered back at her from the passenger seat.

"We'll see Adrian soon."

"I know," she said with a sigh.

"And nothing else bad is going to happen. You're safe. They can't find you here."

"I know that too," she said.

"How bad was it?" I asked. "The attack, I mean. No one's getting into details." Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Eddie glance back at Jill again. "Bad enough," he said grimly. "But everyone's okay now; that's what matters."

Neither of them said any more, and I quickly picked up on the hint that no more details would be forthcoming. They acted as though the attack had been no big deal, that it was done and over with, but they were being too evasive. Something had happened that I didn't know about - that the Alchemists likely didn't know about - something that they were working to keep secret. My guess was that it had to do with Adrian being here. He had mentioned an "obvious reason" for coming to Palm Springs, and then Abe had hinted at some ulterior motive that Adrian himself didn't know about. It was all kind of annoying, seeing as I was risking my life here. How did they expect me to adequately do my job if they insisted on making this a tangle of secrets? Alchemists dealt in secrets, and despite my rocky past, I was still Alchemist enough to resent being denied answers. Fortunately, I was also Alchemist enough to hunt those answers down myself.

Of course, I knew grilling Jill and Eddie right away wasn't going to get me anywhere. I needed to play it friendly and get them to relax around me. They might not harbor the secret belief that humans were creatures of darkness, but that didn't mean they trusted me yet. I didn't blame them. After all, I certainly didn't trust them either.

It was well into evening when we arrived at Amberwood. Keith and I had scoped out the school earlier, but Eddie and Jill took it in with wide eyes. Whereas Clarence's home had seemed old-fashioned, the school was bright and modern, consisting of stucco buildings that were so typical of California and southwest architecture. Palm trees skirted along lush green lawns. In the fading light, students were still strolling, in pairs and groups, along the many walking paths that wove throughout the grounds.

We'd picked up fast food along the way, but the late hour meant Jill and I had to split from Eddie. At eighteen, with a car and "parental permission," I had a lot of freedom to come and go, but I had to answer to curfew just like everyone else when night came. Eddie was uneasy about leaving Jill, particularly when he realized how far away from her he'd be.

Amberwood Prep's sprawling grounds were divided into three campuses: East, West, and Central. East Campus housed the girls' dorm while West contained the boys'. Central, the largest of the three, was where the administrative, academic, and recreational facilities were. The campuses were about a mile apart from each other and served by a shuttle bus that ran throughout the day, though walking was always an option for those who could stand the heat.

Eddie had to have known he couldn't stay in the girls' dorm, though I suspected that if he had his way, he would have slept at the foot of Jill's bed like a loyal dog. Watching the two of them was kind of amazing. I'd never observed a guardian-Moroi pairing before. When I'd been with Rose and Dimitri, they'd been simply trying to keep themselves alive - plus, they were both dhampirs. Now, I was finally able to see the system in action and understood why dhampirs trained so hard. You'd have to, to remain that vigilant. Even in the most mundane moments, Eddie always watched our surroundings. Nothing escaped his notice.

"How good is the security system here?" he demanded when we stepped inside the girls' dorm. He'd insisted on seeing it before going to his own. The lobby was quiet at this hour, and only a couple of students wandered through with boxes and suitcases as they finished last-minute move-ins. They gave us curious looks as they passed, and I had to quell the knot of anxiety rising in me. Considering everything else going on for me, high school social life shouldn't scare me - but it did. The Alchemists didn't cover that in their lessons.

"Security's good enough," I said, keeping my voice low as I turned back to Eddie. "They aren't worried about vampire assassins, but they certainly want their students safe. I know there are security guards that patrol the grounds at night."

Eddie eyed the dorm matron, a stout, gray-haired woman who supervised the lobby from her desk. "Do you think she has any kind of combat training? Do you think she could subdue an intruder?"

"I bet she could wrestle down a guy sneaking into a girl's room," joked Jill. She rested a hand on his arm, making him jump. "Relax. This place is safe." In some ways, Eddie's concern was comforting and made me feel secure. At the same time, I couldn't help but think again about why he was so watchful. He'd been there for the attack that no one would tell me about. He knew the threats because he'd seen them firsthand. If he was this on edge, even now, then how much danger were we still in? The Alchemists had led me to believe that once we were hidden here at Amberwood, all would be well and it would just become a waiting game. I'd had that very conversation with Rose and tried to convince her of the same. Eddie's attitude was concerning. The dorm room I shared with Jill was small by my standards. I'd always had my own room growing up and never had to worry about sharing space or closets. During my time in St. Petersburg, I'd even had my own apartment. Still, our one window had a sweeping view of the dorm's back courtyard.

Everything inside the room was airy and bright, with maple-finished furniture that looked new: beds, desks, and dressers. I had no experience with dorm rooms - but I could only assume by Jill's reaction that we'd gotten a good one. She swore that the room was larger than the one she'd had at her Moroi school, St. Vladimir's Academy, and was quite happy.

I half-wondered if she thought our room was big simply because we had so little to put in it. Neither of us had been able to do much packing with such swift departures. The furniture gave everything a warm, golden feel, but without personal decorations or other touches, the room could've come straight from a catalog. The dorm matron, Mrs. Weathers, had been astonished when she saw us and our minimal luggage. The girls I'd observed moving in earlier had arrived with cars packed to bursting. I hoped we didn't look suspicious.

Jill paused to stare out the window as we got ready for bed. "It's so dry here," she murmured, more to herself than me. "They keep the lawn green, but it's so strange not to feel the moisture in the air." She glanced over at me sheepishly. "I'm a water user."

"I know," I said, not sure what else to add. She was referring to the magical abilities all Moroi possessed. Each Moroi specialized in one of the elements, either the physical four - earth, air, water, and fire - or the more intangible and psychic element of spirit. Hardly anyone wielded that last one, though I'd heard Adrian was one of the few. If Jill couldn't access her magic easily, I wasn't going to be disappointed. Magic was one of those things, like the blood drinking, that served as a slap-in-the-face reminder that these people I was laughing and eating with were not human.

If I wasn't still exhausted from the drive with Keith, I probably would've lain awake agonizing over the fact that I was sleeping close to a vampire. When I'd first met Rose, I hadn't even been able to stay in the same room with her. Our hectic escape together had changed that a little, and by the end, I'd been able to let my guard down. Now, some of that old fear came back in the darkness. Vampire, vampire. Sternly, I told myself it was just Jill. I had nothing to worry about. Eventually, fatigue triumphed fear, and I slept.

When morning came, I couldn't help looking in the mirror to make sure I had no bite marks or other sign of vampire harm. When I'd finished, I immediately felt foolish. With the difficulty Jill was currently having waking up, it made no sense to imagine her sneaking up on me in the night. As it was, I had a hard time getting her out the door in time for orientation. She was groggy, with bloodshot eyes, and kept complaining about a headache. I guessed I didn't have to worry about nighttime attacks from my roommate.

Nonetheless, she managed to get up and around. We left our dorm and found Eddie, gathering with other new students near a fountain on Central Campus. Most of the crowd appeared to be freshmen like Jill. Only a few were the same age as me and Eddie, and I was surprised to see him easily chatting with those around him. With how vigilant he'd been the day before, I would've expected him to be more on guard, less capable of normal social interaction - but he fit right in. As we walked up, however, I caught him glance around stealthily at his surroundings. He might be playing a student, like me  - but he was still a dhampir.

He was just telling us about how he hadn't met his roommate yet when a smiling guy with bright blue eyes and reddish hair strode up to them. "Hey there," he said. Up close, I could see a smattering of freckles. "Are you Eddie Melrose?"

"Yes, I'm - " Eddie had spun around with that guardian efficiency, ready to take on this potential threat. When he saw the newcomer, Eddie went perfectly still. His eyes widened slightly, and whatever he'd been about to say faded away.

"I'm Micah Vallence. I'm your roommate - also your orientation leader." He nodded toward the other mingling students and grinned. "But I wanted to come say hi first since I just got here this morning. My mom pushed our vacation to the limits."

Eddie was still staring at Micah as though he'd seen a ghost. I studied Micah too, wondering what I was missing. He seemed normal to me. Whatever was going on, Jill was also out of the loop because she was regarding Micah with a perfectly ordinary expression too, no alarm or surprise.

"Nice to meet you," said Eddie at last. "These are my, uh, sisters - Jill and Sydney."

Micah smiled at each of us in turn. He had a manner about him that made me feel easy, and I could see why he'd been drafted as an orientation leader. I wondered why Eddie was reacting so strangely.

"What grades are you in?" he asked us.

"Senior," I said. Remembering the cover story, I added, "Eddie and I are twins."

"I'm a freshman," said Jill.

Looking over our "family," I noticed that Eddie and I could probably pass for siblings pretty easily. Our coloring was similar, and of course, there was the fact that we both looked human. While a human wouldn't necessarily look at Jill and say "vampire!" she still possessed certain features that marked her as unusual. Her build and paleness were definite contrasts to me and Eddie.

If Micah noticed the lack of family resemblance, he didn't let on. "Nervous about starting high school?" he asked Jill.

She shook her head and smiled back. "I'm ready for the challenge."

"Well, if you need anything, let me know," he said. "For now, I've gotta get this party started. Talk to you guys later."

From the way his attention focused solely on her, it was obvious that the "if you need anything" was directed at Jill, and her blush showed that she knew too. She smiled, holding his gaze a moment, and then looked away shyly. I would've found it cute, if not for the alarming prospect it presented. Jill was in a school full of humans. It was absolutely out of the question for her to date one, and guys like Micah couldn't be encouraged. Eddie didn't appear to care about the comment, but it seemed to be more because he was still troubled about Micah in general.

Micah called our group to attention and began the orientation. The first part of it was simply a tour of the grounds. We followed him around, in and out of air conditioning, as he showed us the important buildings. He explained the shuttle system, and we rode it up to West Campus, which was almost a mirror of East. Boys and girls were allowed in each other's dorms, with limitations, and he explained those rules as well, which caused some grumbling.

Recalling the formidable Mrs. Weathers, I felt sorry for any boy that tried to break her dorm rules.

Both dorms had their own cafeterias, where any student was welcome to eat, and our orientation group had lunch while we were still on West Campus. Micah joined my "siblings" and me, going out of his way to talk to each of us. Eddie responded politely, nodding and asking questions, but his eyes still looked vaguely haunted. Jill was shy at first, but once Micah starting joking around with her, she eventually warmed up to him.

How funny, I thought, that it was easier for Eddie and Jill to adapt to this situation than it was for me. They were in a strange environment, with a different race, but were still among familiar things, like cafeterias and lockers. They slipped right into the roles and procedures with no difficulty. Meanwhile, despite having traveled and lived all over the world, I felt out of place in what was for everyone else an ordinary setting.

Regardless, it didn't take me long to figure out how the school ran. Alchemists were trained to observe and adapt, and even though school was foreign to me, I quickly picked up on the routine. I wasn't afraid to talk to people either - I was used to striking up conversations with strangers and explaining my way out of situations. One thing, however, I knew I would have to work on.

"I heard her family might be moving to Anchorage." We were at orientation lunch, and a couple of freshmen girls sitting near me were discussing a friend of theirs who hadn't shown up today.

The other girl's eyes widened. "Seriously? I would die if I had to move there."

"I don't know," I mused, moving my food around my plate. "With all the sun and UV rays here, it seems like Anchorage might actually provide a longer life span. You don't need as much sunblock, so it's a more economical choice as well."

I'd thought my comment was helpful, but when I looked up, I was met with gaping stares. It was obvious from the looks the girls were giving me that I probably couldn't have picked a weirder comment.

"I guess I shouldn't say everything that comes to mind," I murmured to Eddie. I was used to being direct in social situations, but it occurred to me that simply saying "Yeah, totally!" would've probably been the correct response. I'd had few friends my own age and was out of practice.

Eddie grinned at me. "I don't know, sis. You're pretty entertaining as you are. Keep it up."

After lunch, our group returned to Central Campus, where we parted ways to meet with academic advisors and plan our class schedules. When I sat down with my advisor, a cheery young woman named Molly, I wasn't surprised to see that the Alchemists had sent along academic records from a fictitious school in South Dakota. They were even fairly consistent with what I had studied in my homeschooling.

"Your grades and tests have placed you in our most advanced math and English classes," Molly said. "If you do well in them, you can receive college credit." Too bad there's no chance I'll get to go to college, I thought with a sigh. She flipped through a few pages in my file. "Now, I don't see any records of foreign language here. It's an Amberwood requirement that everyone learn at least one language."

Oops. The Alchemists had messed up there in faking my records. I'd actually studied a number of languages. My father had made sure I had lessons from an early age, since an Alchemist never knew where he or she might end up. Scanning Amberwood's list of offered languages, I hesitated and wondered if I should lie. Then I decided I really didn't want to sit through conjugations and tenses I'd already learned.

"I already know all of these," I told Molly.

Molly regarded me skeptically. "All of these? There are five languages here."

I nodded and added helpfully, "But I only studied Japanese for two years. So I suppose I could learn more."

Molly still didn't seem to buy this. "Would you be willing to take proficiency tests?"

And so, I ended up spending the rest of my afternoon laboring over foreign languages. It wasn't how I wanted to spend my day, but I supposed it would pay off later - the tests were a breeze.

When I finally finished all five languages three hours later, Molly hurried me out to get fitted for my uniform. Most of the other new students had long gone through already, and she was concerned that I might have already missed the woman doing the fittings. I moved as fast as I could without running down the halls and nearly bumped into two girls rounding a corner.

"Oh!" I exclaimed, feeling like an idiot. "I'm sorry - I'm late for my fitting - "

One of them laughed good-naturedly. She was dark-skinned with an athletic build and wavy black hair. "Don't worry about it," she said. "We just walked past the room. She's still there."

The other girl had blond hair a shade lighter than mine that she wore in a high ponytail. Both of them had the easy assurance of those who knew their way around this world. These weren't new students.

"Mrs. Delaney always takes longer than she thinks she will with the fittings," the blond girl said knowingly. "Every year, it's - " Her jaw dropped, her words freezing up for a few moments. "Where... where did you get that?"

I had no clue what she meant, but the other girl soon noticed and leaned closer to me. "That's amazing! Is that what they're doing this year?"

"Your tattoo," explained the blonde. I must have still looked clueless. "Where'd you get it?"

"Oh. That." My fingers absentmindedly touched my cheek. "In, um, South Dakota. Where I'm from."

Both girls looked disappointed. "I guess that's why I've never seen it," said the dark-haired girl. "I thought Nevermore was doing something new."

"Nevermore?" I asked.

The girls exchanged silent glances, and some message passed between them. "You're new, right? What's your name?" asked the blond girl. "I'm Julia. This is Kristin."

"Sydney," I said, still mystified.

Julia was smiling again. "Have lunch with us at East tomorrow, okay? We'll explain everything."

"Everything about what?" I asked.

"It's a long story. Just get to Delaney for now," added Kristin, starting to move away. "She'll stay late, but not forever."

When they were gone, I continued on my way - much more slowly - wondering what that had been about. Had I just made friends? I really wasn't sure how one went about it in a school like this, but that whole exchange had seemed pretty weird.

Mrs. Delaney was just packing up when I arrived. "What size do you wear, dear?" she asked, catching sight of me in the doorway.


A number of articles were produced: skirts, pants, blouses, and sweaters. I doubted the sweaters would see much wear, unless a freak apocalyptic blizzard hit Palm Springs. Amberwood wasn't particularly fussy about which ensemble students wore, as long as it came from the approved pool of fashion. The colors were burgundy, dark gray, and white, which I actually thought looked kind of nice together.

Watching me button a white blouse, Mrs. Delaney tsked, "I think you need a size four."

I froze mid-button. "I wear a two."

"Oh, yes, you can fit into them, but look at the arms and the skirt length. I think you'll be more comfortable in a four. Try these." She handed over a new stack and then laughed. "Don't look so mortified, girl! A four's nothing. You're still a twig." She patted her ample stomach. "We could fit three of you into my clothes!"

Despite my many protests, I was still sent away with the size-four clothing. I rode back to my dorm, dejected, and found Jill lying on her bed and reading. She sat up at my arrival.

"Hey, I wondered what had happened to you."

"Got delayed," I said with a sigh. "Are you feeling better?"

"Yeah. A lot." Jill watched as I put away the uniforms. "They're pretty terrible, right? We didn't have uniforms at St. Vladimir's. It's going to be so boring wearing the same thing every day." I didn't want to tell her that as an Alchemist, I might have worn an outfit like this anyway.

"What size did you get?" I asked, to change the subject. I was kind of a glutton for punishment.


A twinge of annoyance shot through me as I hung my uniforms in the closet beside hers. I felt huge by comparison. How were all those Moroi so skinny? Genetics? Low-carb blood diet? Maybe it was just because they were all so tall. All I knew was that whenever I spent time around them, I felt frumpy and awkward and wanted to eat less.

When I finished unpacking, Jill and I compared schedules. Not surprisingly, considering the difference in grades, we had almost nothing in common. The only thing we shared was a multi-grade PE class. All students were required to take it every semester, since fitness was considered part of a wellrounded student's experience. Maybe I could lose a few pounds and get back into my normal size.

Jill smiled and handed my schedule back. "Eddie went and demanded to be in our PE class since it's pretty much the only one we could share. It conflicts with his Spanish class, though, and they wouldn't let him. I don't think he can handle going the whole school day without seeing that I'm alive. Oh, and Micah's with us in PE."

I'd stalked off to my bed, still irritated about the uniforms. Jill's words caught my attention. "Hey, do you know why Eddie seemed weirded out around Micah?"

Jill shook her head. "No, I didn't get a chance to ask, but I noticed it too - especially at first. Later - while you were testing - and we were waiting for uniforms, Eddie seemed to chill out. A little. Every once in a while, I'd see him giving Micah a strange look, though."

"You don't think he thinks Micah's dangerous, do you?"

Jill shrugged. "He didn't seem dangerous to me, but I'm no guardian. If Eddie did think he was some kind of threat, it seems like he'd be acting differently. More aggressive. He mostly seems nervous around Micah. Almost - but not quite - afraid. And that's weirdest of all because guardians never look scared. Not that Eddie's technically a guardian. But you know what I mean."

"I do," I said, smiling despite my grumpy intentions. That cute, rambling nature cheered me up a little. "What do you mean Eddie's technically not a guardian? Isn't he assigned to protect you here?"

"Yeah, he is," said Jill, toying with one of her light brown curls. "But... well, it's kind of weird. He got in some trouble with the guardians for helping Rose and for, um, killing a guy."

"He killed a Moroi that attacked Vasilisa, right?" It had come up at my interrogation.

"Yeah," said Jill, lost in her own memories. "It was self-defense - well, and defense of Lissa, but everyone was shocked at him killing a Moroi. Guardians aren't supposed to do that, but then, you know, Moroi aren't supposed to attack each other either. Anyway, he was put on suspension. No one knew what to do with him. When I got... attacked, Eddie helped protect me. Later, Lissa said it was stupid to keep him off duty when he could be helpful and that considering Moroi were behind this attack too, she said everyone was going to have to get used to the idea of Moroi being the enemy. Hans - the guardian in charge at Court - finally agreed and sent Eddie here with me, but I think officially, Eddie's not restored yet. It's weird." Jill had delivered the whole speech without pausing and now stopped to catch a breath.

"Well, I'm sure it'll be sorted out," I said, trying to be reassuring. "And it seems like he'll get points for keeping a princess alive."

Jill looked at me sharply. "I'm no princess."

I frowned and tried to remember the complexities of Moroi law. "The prince or princess is the oldest member of a family. Since Vasilisa's queen, the title rolls over to you, right?"

"On paper," said Jill, looking away. Her tone was hard to read, an odd mixture of what seemed like bitterness and sorrow. "I'm not a princess, not really. I'm just someone who happens to be related to the queen."

Jill's mother had briefly been mistress to Eric Dragomir, Vasilisa's father, and had kept Jill's existence a secret for years. It had only come out recently, and I'd played a big role in helping Rose track Jill down. With all the fallout in my own life, as well as the emphasis on Jill's safety, I hadn't spent much time wondering how she had adapted to her new status. That had to be a serious lifestyle change.

"I'm sure there's more to it than that," I said gently. I wondered if I was going to be spending a lot of time playing therapist to Jill during this assignment. The prospect of actually comforting a vampire still seemed so strange to me. "I mean, you're obviously important. Everyone's gone to a lot of trouble to keep you safe here."

"But is it for me?" asked Jill. "Or is it to help Lissa keep the throne? She's hardly spoken to me since she found out we were sisters." This conversation was steering into uncomfortable waters, into interpersonal matters that I didn't really know how to deal with. I couldn't imagine being in either Vasilisa or Jill's place. The only thing I felt certain of was that it couldn't be easy for any of them.

"I'm sure she cares about you," I said, though not really sure at all. "But it's probably strange for her - especially with all the other changes in her life too. Give it time. Focus on the important things first - staying here and staying alive."

"You're right," said Jill. She lay back on her bed and stared up at the ceiling. "I'm nervous about tomorrow, about being around everyone, in classes all day. What if they notice? What if someone finds out the truth about me?"

"You did fine at orientation," I assured her. "Just don't show your fangs. And besides, I'm pretty good at convincing people they didn't see what they think they saw."

The grateful expression on her face reminded me uncomfortably of Zoe. They were so alike in many ways, shy and uncertain - yet intensely fierce and desperately wanting to prove themselves. I'd tried to protect Zoe - and only failed in her eyes. Now, being here for Jill made me feel conflicted. In some ways, I could make up for what I hadn't been able to do for Zoe. Yet even as I thought that, some inner voice kept saying, Jill is not your sister. She's a vampire. This is business.

"Thanks, Sydney. I'm glad you're here." She smiled, and the guilt only twisted further inside me. "You know, I'm kind of jealous of Adrian. He thinks it's so boring at Clarence's, but he doesn't have to worry about meeting new people or getting used to a new school. He just gets to hang out, watch TV, play pool with Lee, sleep in... it sounds amazing." She sighed.

"I suppose," I said, a little surprised at the detail. "How do you know all that? Have you... have you talked to him since we left?" Even as I said that, the idea seemed unlikely. I'd been with her most of the day.

The smile dropped from her face. "Oh no. I mean, I just figure that's what's going on. He mentioned some of it earlier, that's all. Sorry. I'm being melodramatic and rambling. Thanks for listening to me... it really does make me feel better."

I smiled tightly and said nothing. I still couldn't get over the fact that I was starting to feel so warmly toward a vampire. First Rose, now Jill? It didn't matter how likable she was. I had to keep our relationship professional so that no Alchemist could accuse me of getting attached. Keith's words echoed in my head: vamp lover...

That's ridiculous, I thought. There was nothing wrong with being nice to those in my care. It was normal, a far cry from "getting too close" to them. Right? Pushing my worries aside, I concentrated on finishing unpacking and thinking about our new life here. I sincerely hoped tomorrow would go as smoothly as I'd assured Jill it would.

Unfortunately, it didn't.

P/S: Copyright -->www_novelfreereadonline_Com