Home > The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2)(11)

The Golden Lily (Bloodlines #2)(11)
Author: Richelle Mead

I glanced at Adrian with a smile that I hoped looked genuine, rather than a desperate attempt to provide distraction. "Research, huh? I thought you were a gambling man." It took Adrian a few moments to drag his gaze from Dimitri and fix it on me. "I've been known to roll the dice now and then," he said warily. "Why?" I shrugged. "No reason. Just wondering if you'd put your charisma research on hold and step up for a challenge. If you went twenty-four hours without cigarettes, I'd drink a can of pop. Regular pop. The whole can."

I saw the glimmer of Adrian's earlier smile returning. "You would not."

"I totally would."

"Half a can would put you into a coma."

Sonya frowned. "Are you diabetic?" she asked me.

"No," said Adrian, "but Sage is convinced one extraneous calorie will make her go from super skinny to just regular skinny. Tragedy."

"Hey," I said. "You think it'd be a tragedy to go an hour without a cigarette."

"Don't question my steel resolve, Sage. I went without one for two hours today."

"Show me twenty-four, and then I'll be impressed."

He gave me a look of mock surprise. "You mean you aren't already? And here I thought you were dazzled from the moment you met me."

Sonya shook her head indulgently at the two of us, like we were adorable children. "You're missing out, Sydney," she remarked, tapping the open pop in front of her. "I need about three of these a day to keep me focused on all this work. No detrimental effects so far." No detrimental effects so far? Of course not. Moroi never had any. Sonya, Jill... they could all eat whatever they wanted and still keep those amazing bodies. Meanwhile, I labored over every calorie and still couldn't reach that level of perfection. Fitting into these size four khakis had been a triumph this morning. Now, looking at Sonya's slender build, I felt enormous by comparison. I suddenly regretted my comment about drinking a can of pop, even if it had succeeded in distracting Adrian. I supposed I could rest easy knowing that him skipping cigarettes for a day was impossible. I'd never be called to pay up on my sugary wager.

"We should probably get to work. We're losing time." That was Dimitri, getting us back on track.

"Right," said Adrian. "This is five minutes of valuable research wasted. Up for more fun, Castile? I know how much you love sitting around." Because they were trying to find something special about Dimitri, Sonya and Adrian would often sit the two dhampirs side by side and study their auras in fine detail. Their hope was that Dimitri's Strigoi conversion had left some sign that would help explain the immunity to being turned again. It was a valid idea, though not something that someone as active as Eddie enjoyed.

He didn't complain, of course. Eddie wore a look as tough and determined as Dimitri. "Tell me what you need."

"We want to do another aura study," said Sonya. Looked like poor Eddie would be doing some more sitting around. "Last time we focused on any sign of spirit. This time, we want to show both of you some pictures and see if they trigger any color changes in your auras." I nodded in approval. A lot of psychological experiments attempted similar techniques, though they usually monitored physiological responses instead of mystical auras.

"I still say it's a waste," said Adrian. "They're both dhampirs, but that doesn't mean we can assume any different reactions they have are because Belikov was a Strigoi. Everyone's unique. Everyone's going to respond differently to pictures of kittens or spiders. My old man?

He hates kittens."

"Who could hate kittens?" asked Eddie.

Adrian made a face. "He's allergic."

"Adrian," said Sonya. "We've already been over this. I respect your opinion but still think we can learn a lot." I was actually impressed that Adrian had an opinion. So far, I'd kind of felt like he was just going along with everything Sonya and Dimitri told him to do and that he didn't give these experiments much thought. And, although I wasn't familiar with the auras that surrounded all living creatures, I could understand his point that individual differences would throw off their research.

"All data is useful in this case," said Dimitri. "Especially since we haven't found anything so far. We know there's something different about former Strigoi. We can't rule out any chance to observe it."

Adrian's lips tightened, and he made no further protest. Maybe it was because he felt overruled, but I had a feeling it was because he just didn't want to engage with Dimitri.

With the attention off me, I settled into the living room with a book and tried to stay awake.

They didn't need me. I'd simply come to keep Eddie company. Occasionally, I'd check the others' progress. Dimitri and Eddie watched as Sonya flipped through different images on her laptop. In turn, Adrian and Sonya watched the dhampirs closely and made notes on paper. I almost wished I could see the bands of color and light and wondered if there really were any noticeable differences. Studying Eddie and Dimitri, I sometimes would notice a change in facial expression when particularly cute or horrific images showed up on the screen, but for the most part their work remained a mystery to me.

Curious, I walked over to Sonya when they were about halfway through. "What do you see?" I asked in a low voice.

"Colors," she said. "Shining around all living things. Eddie and Dimitri have different colors, but they have the same reactions." She changed the picture on the screen to one of a factory spilling black smoke into an otherwise clear sky. "Neither of them like this. Their auras dim and turn troubled." She flipped to the next image, a smile on her lips. Three kittens appeared on the screen. "And now they warm up. Affection is very easy to spot in an aura. So far, they react in normal ways. There's no sign in Dimitri's aura that he's different from Eddie." I returned to the couch.

After a couple of hours, Sonya called a halt. "I think we've seen what we needed to. Thank you, Eddie."

"Happy to help," he said, rising from his chair and stretching. He seemed relieved both that it was over and that it had involved something slightly more interesting than staring off into space. He was active and energetic, and didn't like captivity.

"Although... we've got a few other ideas," she added. "Do you think you guys can power through a little longer?" Naturally, she asked just as I was yawning.

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