Wednesday, May 22, 2019
The Golden Lily Chapter 10
THE SAN DIEGO TRIP continued to bother me, pay back up though I knew I should let it go. As I often reminded myself, Adrian wasnt my c at oncern, non alike Jill and the others. Yet, I couldnt stop thinking near the terrible confrontation with him and Nathan or Adrians facial expression afterwards.I felt even worse when a worried Eddie came to talk to me ab prohibited Jill during breakfast on the following Monday. more or s unobjectionablethings wrong with her, he told me.Immediately, I visualizeed up toward the cafeteria line, where Jill was waiting with her tray.There was a va stopt olfactory modality on her face, like she was barely aware of her surroundings. Even with no magical talent for auras, I could practically date stamp the misery radiating off of her.Micahs observe it too, Eddie added. But we dont shaft anything that could be upsetting her this much. Is it beca persona of Lia? Or is she being harassed again? In that moment, I wasnt sure who I felt worse for A drian, Jill or Eddie. There was practically as much pain in Eddie as at that place was in Jill. Oh, Eddie, I theory. Why do you keep doing this to yourself? He was all the modal value worried virtually her scarce wouldnt dare approach her or offer comfort.Theres nothing wrong with Jill. Its Adrian, and shes feeling it th vulgar the bond. Hes going d angiotensin converting enzyme a rough time. I offered no to a greater extent details on Adrians situation. It wasnt my story to tell.Eddies face darkened a subatomic. Its not fair that she has to endure his moods.I dont know, I said. Seems like it might be a fair trade for her being alive. Adrian using spirit to bring Jill back from the dead was unagitated a troubling question for me. every bit of Alchemist training I had said that kind of magic was wrong, far worse than any of the other magic Id witnessed. star could even deliberate that what hed managed was only a few steps away from the undead immortality of Strigoi. At th e same time, whenever I sawing machine Jill sleek and alive, I was convinced that Adrian had done a proficient thing. Id meant it when I said as much to him in San Diego.I suppose, said Eddie. I wish on that point was a way she could block him out. Or at least a way to make him a little less moody.I shook my head. From what Ive heard, Adrian was like that long before Jill was shadow-kissed.Still, that conversation stuck with me, and I fagged the day asking myself what could I do to make Adrian happier? A new father provablely wasnt possible. I would have tried that on myself years past if I could. Slushes were also out, partially because they only offered ten minutes of comfort and because I was remedy rec everywhereing from the sustain one. An idea finally came to me later on, nevertheless it wasnt one I could easily implement. In fact, I knew my superiors would theorise it was nothing I should even attempt which is why I decided to do it in a way that wouldnt leave an e-mail or paper trail. I couldnt do it today, however, so I made a mental note to transmit with it later. Be founts, who could say? Maybe Adrian would shake off the effects of his fatherly encounter on his own.These hopes were actually reinforced when I saw Jill the next day at a civilise assembly.Assemblies like this were still a new concept to me, and wed had exactly two since school started. One had been a wel approach shot gathering during our start hebdomad. The other had been a pep rally to cheer on the football team before Homecoming. Todays was called Healthy Lifestyles. I couldnt figure out what it was about or why it was important enough to interrupt my chemistry class.We were seated by grade in the schools gym, putting Jill and me in separate sections of the bleachers. Craning my neck to get a glimpse of her, I saw her sitting down near the front with Angeline and several friends shed made with Micah. Theyd welcomed her easily once they got to know her, which wasnt a bewilderment with how nice she was. Even Laurel, a girl whod once tormented Jill, now gave her a friendly look. Angeline said close tothing that made Jill laugh, and, overall, at that place was definitely an improvement in Jills attitude. A very big improvement, judging from how much she was giggling. My spirits rose. Maybe Adrian really had bounced back.Can someone tell me what this is about? I asked. I had Eddie and Micah on one side of me, Trey on the other.Its this group that comes to school and gives presentations about things like drugs and safe sex, explained Micah. He was pretty active in student government, so I wasnt surprised he knew about todays agenda.Those are kind of big topics, I said. Isnt this scantily supposed to be an hour? Doesnt seem like they can really provide thorough coverage of these issues.I think its full supposed to be a quick overview, said Trey. Not like theyre move to do a seminar or anything.Well, I declared. They should.Did we miss anything? Julia and Kristin pushed their way through others and squeezed themselves in between Trey and me. Trey didnt seem to mind.Were trying to explain the predict of this to Sydney, Trey told them.I thought the point was to get out of class, said Julia.Kristin rolled her eyes. Thisll show you what you were missing by being homeschooled, Sydney.Nothing could have prepared me for the spectacle that followed mostly because never in my craziest dreams had I imagined weighty social issues would be addressed in musical numbers. The group performing for us called themselves Koolin rough, and the inappropriate use of that K was nearly enough to make me notch out then and there. Before each song, theyd give a quick and totally vague info-blurb about the topic or even worse a skit. These little lectures always began with, Hey, kidsThe first song was called STDs Are Not for Me. That was when I took out my math homework. neck on, Eddie told me, laughing. Its not that bad. And people should kno w about this stuff.Exactly, I said, not looking up from my homework. In trying to be hip and relatable,theyre trivializing issues that strike to be taken more seriously. The only time I tuned in again was when Koolin Around had moved on to the evils of alcohol.One of the lyrics in their particularly atrocious song was, Dont listen to what your friends say / Bourbon will totally ruin your day.Ugh. Thats it, I muttered. I sought out Jill again. She was watching with kind of a stunned disbelief, scarcely just like foregoing, there was none of that despair or melancholy. Some gut instinct told me why shed had the mood change. Adrian hadnt snapped out of his gloom.Most likely he was drinking his way through it. Sometimes Jill would pick up some of the sillier side effects of intoxication like the giggling Id observed earlier but eventually, alcohol actually numbed the spirit bond. The bright side of his indulgence was that it spared her some of his depression. The down side was that she could actually suffer the physical effects of a hangover later.Koolin Around mercifully reached their last song, a big production number celebrating the joys of feeling healthy and living a healthy, happy lifestyle. They pulled up members of the student body to dance with them, earning a variety of reactions. Some students just stood there frozen and embarrassed, wearing expressions that said they were counting the seconds until this ended. Other students particularly those who normally sought attention in class made the biggest, most outlandish spectacle they could of themselves.Sydney.The warning note in Eddies voice stopped me as I was about to return to my homework.That kind of concern could only be uncommunicative for Jill, and I immediately looked at her again.Only, she wasnt the issue. Angeline was. One of the Koolin Around members was trying to coax her out and even grabbed her hand. Angeline shook her head emphatically, but the guy cable seemed oblivious. Angeline might be okay nigh wild dances in the backwoods of West Virginia, but this was not a situation she was comfortable with.To be fair, what happened next wasnt entirely her fault. He really should have left her alone when she said no, but I guess he was too caught up in his feel-good mood. He actually managed to sail her to her feet, and thats when Angeline made her disapproval perfectly clear.She punched him.It was pretty impressive since the guy had almost a foot on her in height. I supposed that came from Eddies training in how to take out taller Moroi. The guy staggered backward and fell, hitting the floor unattackable. There was a gasp from most of the students sitting nearby, though only one of the lap members a guitarist noticed. The rest kept on singing and dancing.The guitarist hurried forward to her fallen colleague and must have threatened Angelines personal space because Angeline punched her too.Eddie, do something I said.He turned to me in astonishment. Like what? I d never make it there in time. It was true. We were two thirds of the way up in the bleachers, surrounded by others. I could only watch helplessly as the rest of the spectacle unfolded. The band soon caught on that something was terribly wrong, and their music faltered, finally coming to silence. Meanwhile, a group of teachers had rushed the floor, trying to pry Angeline away from KoolinArounds bass player. There was a frantic look in her eyes, like a trap animal that had gone beyond reason and only wanted escape. The teachers finally managed to restrain her, but not before shed thrown a speaker at the lead singer (she missed) and punched the schools shop teacher.Trey leaned forward, mouth gaping. Thats your cousin? Wow. I didnt even bother responding. All I could think about was how in the domain of a function I was going to do damage control this time. Fighting was a serious offense in and of itself. I couldnt even imagine what attacking a motivational musical group would elicit. She took out, like, three people twice her size Kristin exclaimed. And I mean took out.Knocked them to the floor.Yeah, I know, I said dismally. Im right here. I saw it all.How was she even able to do that? asked Julia.I taught her some moves, remarked Eddie in disbelief.Unsurprisingly, no one even bothered sending this to Mrs. Weathers. Angeline was referred directly to the principal and vice principal. subsequently her display, maybe they felt there was safety in numbers. It may have been Mrs. Weatherss recommendation or simply the fact that our fictitious parents (and cousin Angelines) were notoriously hard to get a hold of, but I was asked to accompany her when she met with the administration.My pre-briefing with Angeline was short and to the point. You will act apologetic and ruthful, I told her as we sat removed the principals office.Whats contrite mean?Apologetic.Then why didnt you just say And, I continued. If pushed for reasons, you will say you were overwhelmed and pani cked.Youll say you dont know what came over you.But I didnt And you will not mention how stupid they were or say anything negative whatsoever.But they are In fact, dont speak at all unless youre asked something directly. If you let me handle this, itll be over fast.Angeline apparently took that to disembodied spirit because she crossed her arms and glared at me, refusing to say anything else.When we were ushered into the office, the principal and vice principal Mrs. Welch and Mr. Redding, respectively were both sitting on the same side of one desk. They were side by side, presenting a united front that again made me think they feared for their lives.Miss McCormick, began Mrs. Welch. I hope you know that what you did was completely out of line. McCormick was Angelines fake last name around here.Violence and fighting of any kind are not tolerated at Amberwood, said Mr. Redding. We have high standards standards meant to cover the safety of everyone at this school and expect our students to adhere to them. None of your other violations of school rules come close to what you did today.Even if we didnt have those other transgressions on file, there can be no question here, said Mrs. Welch. There is no place for you at Amberwood. My stomach sank. censure. Although the Keepers werent entirely uneducated, her academic background had simply been up to that of average high school students in the modern world. She was in a lot of remedial classes, and getting her into Amberwood at all had been quite a feat. Expulsion wasnt as bad as someone investigating how a petite girl like her could do so much damage, but it still wasnt an import I wanted. I could already imagine one of my superiors asking, why didnt you realize how volatile the school was making her? To which I would have to respond because Ive been too sprightly going on dates and helping vampires who arent my concern.Do you have anything to say for yourself before we notify your parents? asked Mrs.Welch . They looked at Angeline expectantly. I braced myself for an irrational tirade. Instead, Angeline managed to produce some snap which, I had to admit, certainly looked contrite. I I panicked, she said. I dont know what came over me. So much happened at once, and that guy was so scary, and I just freaked out.I felt threatened. I wanted everyone to get away from me I was nearly convinced, probably because it was seeded with truth. Angeline had had a number of flustered moments at Amberwood, no thing her bravado. There were more people at the school than had been in her mountain community, and shed been so overwhelmed in her first week that wed had to take turns escorting her to class. I really shouldve been gainful more attention to her.Mr. Redding looked a tiny bit sympathetic but not enough to change his mind. Im sure that must have been hard, but it was hardly reason for you to act in that way. Injuring three people and damaging expensive audio visual equipment were in no way a ppropriate responses. Understatement.I was jade of the formalities and needed to fix things before they escalated further. I leaned forward in my chair. You know what else isnt appropriate? A thirty-year-old guy because thats how old he was, no guinea pig how young and cool they were trying to be grabbing a fifteen-year-old girl. It was bad enough that he did so when she clearly didnt want to go with him. The point is he never should have touched her in the first place. Shes a minor. If a teacher did that, hed be fired. Ive read the book teachers are given from your HRdepartment. It had been an attempt to see if Ms. Terwilliger was abusing me. Medical emergencies and breaking up a fight are the only times teachers can lay hands on students. Now, you might argue that that guy wasnt a teacher or employed by the school, but his group was invited here by the school which is obligated to keep its students safe. Youre a private school, but Im certain the California Department of Educ ation would have a few things to say about what happened here today as will Angelines father, whos a lawyer. He was actually the leader of a bunch of mountain vampires and had multiple wives, but that was beside the point. I looked back and forth between Mrs. Welch and Mr. Reddings faces. Now then. Shall we renegotiate your position?Angeline was in awe after we left the office and went back to our dorm. Suspension, she exclaimed, a bit too much joy in her voice for my liking. I really just get to skip class? That sounds more like a reward.You still have to keep up with your homework, I warned. And you cant leave the dorm.Dont even think about sneaking out because that will get you expelled, and I wont be able to save you again.Still, she said, practically skipping, this was all pretty easy. I came to a halt in front of her, forcing her to face me. It was not easy. You got off on a technicality. Youve continually resisted efforts to follow the rules around here, and today well, tha t was off the charts. You arent back home. The only time you should even think about fighting here is if Jill is attacked. Thats why youre here. Not to do whatever you want. You said you were up to the challenge of protecting her. If you get expelled and its a miracle you werent shes at risk. So get in line or start packing for home. And for Gods sake, leave Eddie alone.Her face had been kindling with anger as I spoke, but that last bit caught her off guard.What do you mean?I mean, you constantly throwing yourself at him.She sniffed. Thats how you show a guy you like him.Maybe among the uncivilized Here you need to back off and start acting like a responsible human being er, dhampir. Whatever. Youre making him miserable Besides, youre supposed to be cousins. Youre screwing up our cover. Angelines jaw dropped. I Im making him miserable? I almost felt bad for her. The look of shock on her face was so great that it was obvious she really hadnt known what she was doing to Eddie was w rong. I was too worked up to feel much sympathy right then, though. Jill had acted out when wed first arrived, and that had been just as frustrating. Id come to lie with our peace, and now Angeline was threatening all of that. Unlike Jill, she didnt seem to realize it, and I didnt know if that made things better or worse.I left an upset and defeated Angeline off at her dorm room and also verified with Jill that Adrian had indeed been drinking. That and my agitation were more than enough to make me want to leave campus, if only for the escape. Brayden had asked earlier if I wanted to go out, but I wasnt up to that. I sent a quick text Cant go out tonight. Family stuff. Then I headed off to Clarences.Id called ahead to make sure Dimitri and Sonya were there since I had no interest in having a one-on-one visit with the ancient Moroi. He wasnt around when I arrived. I found Dimitri and Sonya huddled over some cards with blots of dried blood, speculating on how to proceed.Itd be intere sting to get Strigoi blood and see if anything happened when I applied spirit, she was saying. Do you think you could manage that?Gladly, said Dimitri.They noticed me. As soon as she looked up, Sonya asked, Whats wrong? I didnt even bother asking how she knew. My face probably said more than my aura did.Angeline got into a brawl with a motivational group at school. Dimitri and Sonya exchanged looks. Maybe we should go get some dinner, he said. He grabbed a set of keys from the table. Lets go downtown. I never wouldve imagined that Id look forward to going out with a Moroi and a dhampir. It was yet some other sign of how far Id advanced or regressed, by Alchemist standards. Compared to most of the other people in my life, Dimitri and Sonya were grounded and stable. It was refreshing.I gave them a rundown of Angelines behavior, as well as my thinly veiled legal threat.That part seemed to amuse Sonya.Smart, she said, twirling spaghetti on a fork. Maybe you should be in law school ins tead of the Alchemists.Dimitri found it less funny. Angeline came here to do a job. She wanted out of the Keepers and swore shed devote every waking minute to protecting Jill.There has been a bit of a husbandry shock, I admitted, unsure as to why I was defending Angeline. And those guys today I mean, if theyd tried to get me to join their sing-along, I probably wouldve punched them too.Unacceptable, said Dimitri. He used to be a combat instructor, and I could understand why. Shes here on a mission. What she did was reckless and irresponsible. Sonya gave him a sly smile. And here I thought you had a fleecy spot for reckless young girls.Rose never would have done anything like that, he countered. He paused to reconsider, and I couldve sworn there was the hint of a smile there. Well, at least not in such a public setting.Once the Angeline topic was put to rest, I brought up the reason Id come here. So no experiments today?Even Sonyas good nature faltered. Ah. No, not exactly. Weve go ne over some notes on our own, but Adrian hasnt been he hasnt been quite up to the research this week. Or up to going to class.Dimitri nodded. I was over there earlier. He could barely answer the door. No idea what hed been drinking, but whatever it was, hed had a lot. Considering their rocky relationship, I wouldve expected disdain in discussing Adrians vices. Instead, Dimitri sounded disappointed, as though hed expected better.Thats what I wanted to talk to you about, I said. Id eaten little of my dinner and was nervously tearing a roll into pieces. Adrians current mood isnt entirely his fault. I mean, it is, but I can kind of understand it. You know we saw his dad this weekend, right? Well it didnt go well.There was a knowing glint in Dimitris dark eyes. Im not surprised. Nathan Ivashkov isnt the easiest man to get along with.He sort of tore down everything Adrians been trying to do. I tried to make a case for Adrian, but Mr. Ivashkov wouldnt listen. Thats why I was wondering if you guys could help. Sonya couldnt get across her surprise. Id gladly help Adrian, but something tells me Nathans not going to really put much stock in what we have to say.Thats not what I was thinking. I gave up on the bread and dropped all the pieces to my plate. You guys are both close to the queen. Maybe you could get her to tell Adrians dad how I dont know. What an asset hes been. How much hes been helping. Obviously, she couldnt explain exactly what hes doing, but anything might help. Mr. Ivashkov wont listen to Adrian or anyone else, but hed have to take a commendation from the queen seriously. If shed do it.Dimitri looked thoughtful. Oh, shed do it. Shes always had a soft spot for him. Everyone seems to.No, I said stubbornly. Not everyone. Theres a split. Half condemn him and write him off as useless like his dad. The other half just shrug and indulge him and say, Well, thats Adrian. Sonya studied me carefully, a trace of that amusement returning. And you?I dont think he sh ould be babied or disregarded. If you expect him to do great things, he will.Sonya said nothing right away, and I shifted uncomfortably under her scrutiny. I didnt like when she looked at me like this. It was about more than auras. It was like she could see into my heart and soul.Ill speak to Lissa, she said at last. And Im sure Dimitri will too. In the meantime, lets hope that if we follow your advice and expect Adrian to sober up soon, he will. We had just paid the square up when Dimitris cell phone rang. Hello? he answered. And like that, his face transformed. That fierceness I so associated with him softened, and he practically glowed. No, no. Its always a good time for you to call, Roza. Whatever the response on the other end was, it made him smile.Rose, said Sonya to me. She stood up. Lets give them a little privacy. You want to take a walk?Sure, I said, rising as well. Outside, dusk was falling. Theres a costume store a few blocks away I actually want to check if theyre sti ll open. Sonya glanced at Dimitri. Meet us there? she whispered. He gave a quick nod. Once we were outside in the warm evening air, she laughed. Ah, those two. In a fight, theyre lethal.Around each other, they melt.Is that how you and Mikhail are? I asked, thinking there wasnt much melting with Brayden and me, no matter how much I enjoyed spending time with him.She laughed again and glanced up at the sky, painted in shades of orange and blue. Not exactly. Every relationship is different. Everyone loves differently. There was a long pause as she chose her next words. That was a nice thing you chose to do for Adrian.There was no choice to be made, I countered. We crossed onto a busier street, full of brightly lit stores with water misters outside that were meant to cool off hot shoppers. I winced at what that mist was doing to my hair. I had to help. He didnt deserve that kind of treatment.I cant imagine how Adrians put up with that his on the whole life. And would you believe that w hat worried Adrian the most was that I would think less of him?Actually, said Sonya softly, I can very much believe that. The costume store was still open, thanks to extended Halloween hours, but only for ten more minutes. Sonya wandered around the aisles with no real goal, but I headed immediately for the historical section. They had exactly one classic-style dress left, a plain white gown with a gold plastic belt. I knelt down to take a better look. Opening the package, I felt the fabric. It was cheap, probably flammable. The dress was also an XL, and I wondered if Jill had learned enough in sewing club to take it in for me. With less than a week until the dance, my options were limited.Really? a voice beside me said. Havent you insulted me enough without resorting to this trash?Standing above me was Lia DiStefano. Her curly hair was bound up with a bright red scarf, and a voluminous peasant blouse made her petite body look like it had wings. She peered down at me disapprovingly w ith kohl-lined eyes.Are you following me? I asked, getting to my feet. Every time Im downtown, here you are.If I were following you, I never would have let you set foot in here in the first place. She pointed at the costume. What is that?My outfit for Halloween, I said. Im going Greek.Its not even the right size.Ill get it taken in.She tsked. Im so appalled, I dont even know where to start. You want a Greek dress? Ill make you one. A good one. Not this monstrosity. My God. People know you know me. If you were seen in that, itd ruin my career.Yeah, because what I wear to a high school dance will really make or break you.Whens your dance? she asked.Saturday.Easy, she declared. She gave me a once-over and nodded in satisfaction. Easy measurements too. Is your sister dressing just as badly?Not sure, I admitted. She talked about making a fairy dress in sewing club. A blue one, I think.Lia blanched. Even worse. Ill make her a dress too. Ive already got her measurements. I sighed. Lia, I k now what youre trying to do, and it wont work. Jill absolutely cannot model for you again. It doesnt matter how much bribery you try. Lia attempted an innocent look that was in no way convincing. Who said anything about bribery? Im doing this out of charity. Itd be a disgrace to let you two go out in anything less than the best.Lia Do not buy that, she warned, pointing at the costume. Its a waste. You might as well set your money on fire although, it probably wouldnt light as fast as that dress. Ill let you know when your costumes are ready. With that, she turned on her high wooden heels and walked away, leaving me staring.Did you get a costume? Sonya asked me later, once the closing store forced us to leave.Weirdly, yes, I said. But not from there.Dimitri apparently wasnt done with his call, since he hadnt joined us yet. We strolled leisurely back toward the restaurant, lacking(p) to give him more time with Rose. Other stores were closing, and the tourists were beginning to thin out. I explained the meeting with Lia. Sonya found it more amusing than I did.Well, dont knock it, she said. If a originator wants to make you something, youre not obligated to give her anything else. Maybe she could help me out with bridesmaid dresses. We crossed a less busy street and cut through a narrow alley with a brick building on one side and a tree-filled church lawn on the other. Id admired the church on our way over, but now, in only a short time, evening had filled it with shadows and given it a foreboding look and feel. I was glad I wasnt pass through here alone. It felt strange to be reassured by a vampires presence.Lia does make amazing things, I admitted. But I dont know if we should kick upstairs her.Fair enough, said Sonya. Maybe one of these days, youll help me look for dresses.Youve got a really good sense of She suddenly spun around toward the darkened churchyard. There was a look of fear on her face, but I saw nothing alarming at first. Seconds later, fou r figures in black jumped out from behind the trees. One of them threw me against the brick wall while the other three pinned Sonya to the ground. I pushed back against my captor, but a muscled arm held me tightly. In the faint light, I saw a twinkle of something I never expected to see on the streets of Palm Springs a sword.The dark figure poised it over Sonyas neck. Time to go back to Hell, he said.