Home > Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)(24)

Last Sacrifice (Vampire Academy #6)(24)
Author: Richelle Mead

"When you say "involved,' do you mean ...' He paused to structure his words. "Do you mean romantically involved?'

Lissa nodded, feeling horrible. She'd revealed a big secret here, one she'd sworn she'd keep for me, but I didn't blame her. Not in this situation. Love--I hoped--would defend Dimitri's actions.

"He loved her,' said Lissa. "She loved him. If he helped her escape--'

"He did help her escape,' interrupted Hans. "He attacked guardians and blew up priceless, centuries-old statues brought over from Europe!'

Lissa shrugged. "Well, like I said. He wasn't acting rationally. He wanted to help her and probably thought she was innocent. He would have done anything for her--and it had nothing to do with Strigoi.'

"Love only justifies so much.' Hans clearly wasn't a romantic.

"Shes underage!' exclaimed Steele. That part hadn't escaped him.

"She's eighteen,' corrected Lissa.

Hans cut her a look. "I can do the math, princess. Unless they managed some beautiful, touching romance in the last few weeks--while he was mostly in isolation-- then there were things going on at your school that someone should have reported.'

Lissa said nothing, but from the corner of her eye, she could see Tasha and Christian. They were trying to keep their expressions neutral, but it was obvious this news wasn't a surprise to them, no doubt confirming Hans's suspicions that illicit things had been going on. I actually hadn't realized Tasha knew about Dimitri and me and felt a little bad. Had she known that part of his rejection of her had been because of me? And if she knew, how many others did? Christian had probably tipped her off, but something told me more people were probably starting to find out as well. After the school's attack, my reaction had likely been a big clue about my feelings for Dimitri. Maybe telling Hans now wasn't so big a deal after all. The secret wouldn't be a secret much longer.

Alberta cleared her throat, speaking up at last. "I think we have more important things to worry about right now than some romance that may or may not have happened.'

Steele gave her an incredulous look and slammed his hand against the table. "This is pretty serious. Did you know about it?'

"All I know is that we're getting distracted from the point here,' she replied, neatly dodging the question. Alberta was about twenty years older than Steele, and the tough look she gave him said that he was a child wasting her time. "I thought we were here to figure out if Miss Hathaway had any accomplices, not dredge up the past. So far, the only person we can say for sure that helped her is Belikov, and he did it out of irrational affection. That makes him a fugitive and a fool, not a Strigoi.'

I'd never thought of my relationship with Dimitri as "irrational affection,' but Alberta's point was taken. Something in Hans's and Steele's faces made me think soon the whole world would know about us, but that was nothing compared to murder. And if it cleared Dimitri of being a Strigoi, then it meant he'd be imprisoned instead of staked if ever captured. Small blessings.

Lissa's questioning continued a bit longer before the guardians decided she was free and clear of any part in my escape (that they could prove). She did a good job playing surprised and confused the whole time, even mustering a few tears over how she could have so misjudged me. She spun a little bit of compulsion into her act too--not enough to brainwash anyone, but enough that Steele's earlier outrage transformed to sympathy. Hans was harder to read, but as my group left, he reminded Tasha and Christian that he would be speaking with each of them later, preferably without an entourage.

For now, the next person in the hot seat was waiting in the hall: Eddie. Lissa gave him the same smile she'd give any friend. There was no indication that they were both part of a conspiracy. Eddie nodded in return as he was called to the room for his interrogation. Lissa was anxious for him, but I knew his guardian self-control would make sure he stuck to the story. He probably wouldn't pull the tears Lissa had, but he'd likely act just as shocked by my "treason' as she had.

Tasha left Christian and Lissa once they were outside, first warning them to be careful. "You've gotten out of this so far, but I don't think the guardians have completely cleared you. Especially Hans.'

"Hey, I can take care of myself,' said Christian.

Tasha rolled her eyes. "Yes. I see what happens when you're left to your own devices.'

"Hey, don't get all pissy because we didn't tell you,' he exclaimed. "We didn't have time, and there were only so many people we could get involved. Besides, you've done your share of crazy plans before.'

"True,' Tasha admitted. She was hardly a role model for playing by the rules. "It's just that everything's gotten that much more complicated. Rose is on the run. And now Dimitri ...' She sighed, and I didn't need her to finish to guess her thoughts. There was a profound look of sadness in her eyes, one that made me feel guilty. Just like the rest of us, Tasha had wanted Dimitri's reputation restored. By freeing the queen's accused assassin, he'd seriously damaged any chance at acceptance. I really wished he hadn't gotten involved and hoped my current escape plan paid off.

"This'll all work out,' said Christian. "You'll see.' He didn't look so confident as he spoke, and Tasha gave him a small, amused smile.

"Just be careful. Please. I don't want to see you in a cell, too. I don't have time for jail visits with everything else going on.' Her amusement faded, and her outspoken activist mode kicked in. "Our family's being ridiculous, you know. Can you believe they're actually talking about running Esmond for us? Good God. We've already had one tragedy after another around here. At the very least, we should try to salvage something out of this mess.'

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