Home > Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)(2)

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy #4)(2)
Author: Richelle Mead

But being kept from Dimitri-even though I'd agreed to it-had caused me to build up a lot of unspoken resentment toward Lissa. I probably should have talked to her about it and explained my frustration over having my entire life planned out. It didn't seem fair, somehow, that while Lissa was free to live and love however she wanted, I would always have to sacrifice my own happiness to ensure that she was protected. She was my best friend, though, and I couldn't bear the thought of upsetting her. Lissa was particularly vulnerable because using spirit had the nasty side effect of driving people insane. So I'd sat on my feelings until they finally exploded, and I left the Academy-and her-behind for good.

One of the ghosts I'd seen-Mason, a friend who had been killed by Strigoi-had told me Dimitri had returned to his homeland: Siberia. Mason's soul had found peace and left this world shortly thereafter, without giving me any other clues about where in Siberia Dimitri might have gone. So I'd had to set out there blindly, braving a world of humans and a language I didn't know in order to fulfill the promise I'd made to myself.

After a few weeks on my own, I had finally made it to Saint Petersburg. I was still looking, still floundering-but determined to find him, even though I dreaded it at the same time. Because if I really did pull this insane plan off, if I actually managed to kill the man I loved, it would mean Dimitri would truly be gone from the world. And I honestly wasn't sure I could go on in a world like that.

None of it seems real. Who knows? Maybe it isn't. Maybe it's actually happening to someone else. Maybe it's something I imagined. Maybe soon I'm going to wake up and find everything fixed with Lissa and Dimitri. We'll all be together, and he'll be there to smile and hold me and tell me everything's going to be okay. Maybe all of this really has been a dream.

But I don't think so.

Chapter One

I was being followed.

It was kind of ironic, considering the way I'd been following others for the last few weeks. At least it wasn't a Strigoi. I would have already known.

A recent effect of my being shadow-kissed was the ability to sense the undead-through bouts of nausea, unfortunately. Still, I appreciated my body's early warning system and was relieved my stalker tonight wasn't an insanely fast, insanely vicious vampire. I'd fought enough of those recently and kind of wanted a night off.

I had to guess my follower was a dhampir like me, probably one from the club. Admittedly, this person was moving a little less stealthily than I would have expected of a dhampir. Footsteps were clearly audible against the pavement of the dark side streets I was traveling on, and once, I'd caught a brief glimpse of a shadowy figure. Still, considering my rash actions tonight, a dhampir was the most likely culprit.

It had all started earlier at the Nightingale. That wasn't the club's true name, only a translation. Its real name was something Russian that was beyond my ability to pronounce. Back in the U.S., the Nightingale was well known among rich Moroi who traveled abroad, and now I could understand why. No matter what time of the day it was, people at the Nightingale dressed like they were at an imperial ball. And, well, the whole place actually kind of looked like something from the old, royal days of Russia, with ivory walls covered in gold scroll-work and molding. It reminded me a lot of the WinterPalace, a royal residence left over from when Russia had still been ruled by czars. I'd toured it upon first arriving in Saint Petersburg.

At the Nightingale, elaborate chandeliers filled with real candles glittered in the air, lighting up the gold decor so that even in dim lighting, the whole establishment sparkled. There was a large dining room filled with velvet-draped tables and booths, as well as a lounge and bar area where people could mingle. Late in the evening, a band would set up in there, and couples would hit the dance floor.

I hadn't bothered with the Nightingale when I arrived in the city a couple weeks ago. I'd been arrogant enough to think I could find Moroi right away who could direct me to Dimitri's hometown in Siberia. With no other clues about where Dimitri had gone in Siberia, heading to the town he'd grown up in had been my best chance of getting closer to him. Only, I didn't know where it was, which was why I was trying to find Moroi to help me. There were a number of dhampir towns and communes in Russia but hardly any in Siberia, which made me believe most local Moroi would be familiar with his birthplace. Unfortunately, it turned out that the Moroi who lived in human cities were very good at keeping themselves hidden. I checked what I thought were likely Moroi hangouts, only to come up empty. And without those Moroi, I had no answers.

So, I'd begun staking out the Nightingale, which wasn't easy. It was hard for an eighteen-year-old girl to blend into one of the city's most elite clubs. I'd soon found that expensive clothes and large enough tips went a long way toward helping me get by. The waitstaff had come to know me, and if they thought my presence was strange, they didn't say so and were happy to give me the corner table I always asked for. I think they thought I was the daughter of some tycoon or politician. Whatever my background, I had the money to be there, which was all they cared about.

Even so, my first few nights there had been discouraging. The Nightingale might have been an elite hangout for Moroi, but it was also frequented by humans. And at first, it had seemed those were the club's only patrons. Crowds grew larger as the night progressed, and in peering through the packed tables and people lingering at the bar, I'd seen no Moroi. The most notable thing I'd seen was a woman with long, platinum-blond hair walking into the lounge with a group of friends. For a moment, my heart had stopped. The woman had her back to me, but she had looked so much like Lissa that I'd felt certain I'd been tracked down. The weird thing was, I didn't know whether to feel excited or horrified. I missed Lissa so, so much-yet at the same time, I didn't want her involved in this dangerous trip of mine. Then the woman had turned around. It wasn't Lissa. She wasn't even a Moroi, just a human. Slowly, my breathing returned to normal.

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