Home > Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)(5)

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5)(5)
Richelle Mead

“No thanks. I’ve got to go meet my cousin.”

Rowena regarded me warily. “You aren’t driving yourself, are you?”

“I’m sober now, thank you very much,” I told her. “But if it makes you feel better, no, I’m taking the bus.”

“Then I guess this is it, huh? Last day of class.”

I supposed it was, I realized with a start. I had a couple other classes, but this was my only one with her. “I’m sure we’ll see each other again,” I said valiantly.

“I hope so,” she said, eyes filled with concern. “You’ve got my number. Or at least you used to. I’ll be around this summer. Give me and Cassie a call if you want to hang out . . . or if there’s anything you want to talk about. . . . I know you’ve had some rough things to deal with lately. . . .”

“I’ve dealt with rougher,” I lied. She didn’t know the half of it, and there was no way she could, not as an ordinary human. I knew she thought Sydney had broken up with me, and it killed me to see Rowena’s pity. I could hardly correct her, though. “And I’ll definitely get in touch, so you’d better sit by your phone. See you around, Ro.”

She gave me a half-hearted wave as I walked off toward the nearest campus bus stop. It wasn’t that far away, but I found myself sweating by the time I reached it. It was May in Palm Springs, and our fleeting spring was being trampled into the ground by summer’s hot and sweltering approach. I popped the sunglasses back on as I waited and tried to ignore the hipster couple smoking beside me. Cigarettes, at least, were one vice I hadn’t returned to since Sydney went away, but it was hard sometimes. Very hard.

To distract myself, I opened up my bag and peered inside at a small statue of a golden dragon. I rested my hand on his back, feeling his tiny scales. No artist could’ve created such a perfect work of art because he wasn’t actually a sculpture. He was a real dragon—well, a callistana, to be precise, which was a type of benign demon—that Sydney had summoned. He’d bonded to her and to me, but only she had the ability to transform him between living and frozen forms. Unfortunately for Hopper here, he’d been trapped in this state when she was abducted, meaning he was stuck in it. According to Sydney’s magical mentor, Jackie Terwilliger, Hopper was technically still alive but living a pretty miserable existence without food and activity. I took him everywhere I went and didn’t know if contact with me meant anything to him. What he really needed was Sydney, and I couldn’t blame him. I needed her too.

I’d been telling Rowena the truth: I was sober now. And that was by design. The long bus ride ahead gave me the perfect opportunity to seek Sydney. Even though I no longer tried to reach out to her in dreams as voraciously as I once had, I still made a point to sober up a few times a day and search. As soon as the bus was moving and I was settled into my seat, I drew upon the spirit magic within me, exalting briefly in the glorious way it made me feel. It was a double-edged joy, though, one that was tempered by the knowledge that spirit was slowly driving me insane.

Insane is such an ugly word, a voice in my head said. Think of it as obtaining a new look at reality.

I winced. The voice in my head wasn’t my conscience or anything like that. It was my dead Aunt Tatiana, former queen of the Moroi. Or, well, it was spirit making me hallucinate her voice. I used to hear her when my mood dropped to particularly low places. Now, ever since Sydney had left, this phantom Aunt Tatiana had become a recurring companion. The bright side—if you could even look at it that way—was that some of the bipolar side effects of spirit had become less frequent. It was as though spirit’s madness had shifted form. Was it better to have mental conversations with an imagined deceased relative than to be subject to wildly dramatic mood swings? I honestly wasn’t sure.

Go away, I told her. You aren’t real. Besides, it’s time to look for Sydney.

Once I’d connected with the magic, I stretched my senses out, searching for Sydney—the person I knew better than anyone else on this earth. Finding someone asleep whom I knew only a little would’ve been easy. Finding her—if she were asleep—would’ve been effortless. But I made no contact and eventually let go of the magic. She either wasn’t asleep or was still blocked from me. Defeated once again, I found a flask of vodka in my bag and settled in on it as I waited out the ride to Vista Azul.

I was pleasantly buzzed, cut off from my magic but not from my heartache, when I arrived at Amberwood Preparatory School. Classes had just finished for the afternoon, and students in stylish uniforms were moving back and forth between the buildings, off to study or make out or whatever it was high school kids did near the end of term. I walked to the girls’ dorm and then waited outside for Jill Mastrano Dragomir to find me.

Whereas Rowena had only guessed at what was troubling me, Jill knew exactly what my problems were. This was because fifteen-year-old Jill had the “benefit” of being able to see into my mind. Last year, she’d been targeted by assassins wanting to dethrone her sister, who happened to be queen of the Moroi and a good friend of mine. Technically, those assassins had succeeded, but I’d brought Jill back through more of spirit’s extraordinary abilities. That feat of healing had taken a huge toll on me and also forged a psychic bond that let Jill know my thoughts and feelings. I knew my recent bout of depression and binge drinking had been hard on her—though at least the drinking numbed out the bond some days. If Sydney had been around, she would’ve scolded me for being selfish and not thinking of Jill’s feelings. But Sydney wasn’t around. The weight of responsibility rested on me alone, and I wasn’t strong enough to shoulder it, it seemed.

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