“Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies.”
“Do you think I'm pretty?
I think you're beautiful
You are so beautiful, it hurts sometimes.”
“The spell. Victor said you had to want me... to care about me... for it to work." When he didn't say anything, I tried to grip his shirt, but my fingers were too weak. "Did you? Did you want me?"
His words came out thickly. "Yes, Roza. I did want you. I still do. I wish... we could be together."
"Then why did you lie to me?"
We reached the clinic, and he managed to open the door while still holding me. As soon as he stepped inside, he began yelling for help.
"Why did you lie?" I murmured again.
Still holding me in his arms, he looked down at me. I could hear voices and footsteps getting closer.
"Because we can't be together."
"Because of the age thing, right?" I asked. "Because you're my mentor?"
His fingertip gently wiped away a tear that had escaped down my cheek. "That's part of it," he said. "But also... well, you and I will both be Lissa's gaurdians someday. I need to protect her at all cost. If a pack of Strogoi come, I need to throw my body between them and her."
I know that. Of course that's what you have to do." The black sparkles were dancing in front of my eyes again. I was fading out.
"No. If I let myself love you, I won't throw myself in front of her. I'll throw myself in front of you.”
“The only thing better than imagining Dimitri carrying me in his arms was imagining him shirtless while carrying me in his arms.”
“Did you see that dress?” "I saw the dress.” "Did you like it?” He didn't answer. I took that as a yes. "Am I going to endanger my reputation if I wear it to the dance?” When he spoke, I could barely hear him. "You'll endanger the school.” I smiled and fell asleep.”
“Dimitri: "She might be wild and disrespectful, but if she has potential—"
Rose: "Wild and disrespecful? Who the hell are you anyway? Oursourced help?"
Kirova: "Guardian Belikov is the Princess Lissa's guardian now, her sanctioned guardian."
Rose: "You got cheap foreign labor to protect Lissa?”
“Wow." I hadn't thought Dimitri could be any cooler, but I was wrong. "You beat up your dad. I mean, that's really horrible...what happened. But, wow. You really are a god."
He blinked. "What?"
“You…you got rid of that dress fast," I pointed out between heavy breaths. "I thought you liked it."
"I do like it," he said. His breathing was as heavy as mine. "I love it."
And then he took me to the bed.”
“Lissa and I had been friends ever since kindergarten, when our teacher had paired us up together for writing lessons. Forcing five-year-olds to spell Vasilisa Dragomir and Rosemarie Hathaway was beyond cruel, and we’d—or rather, I’d—responded appropriately. I’d chucked my book at out teacher and called her a fascist bastard. I hadn’t known what those words meant, but I’d known how to hit a moving target.
Lissa and I had been inseparable ever since.”
“Hey Mason, wipe the drool off your face. If you're going to think about me naked, do it on your own time." [...]
"This is my time, Hathaway. I'm leading today's session."
"Oh yeah?" I retorted. "Huh. Well, I guess this is a good time to think about me naked, then."
"It's always a good a time to think about you naked," added someone nearby, breaking the tension further.”
“A ghostly smile flickered across his face. "If you weren't so psychotic, you'd be fun to hang around."
"Funny, I feel that way about you too." He didn't say anything else, but the smile grew, and he walked away.”
“The greatest and most powerful revolutions often start very quietly, hidden in the shadows. Remember that.”
“When I saw you fall..."
"You thought, 'Wow, she's a loser.”
“I crossed my arms over my chest. "Are you lost, little girl? The elementary school's over on west campus."
A pink flush spread over her cheeks. "Don't you ever touch me again. You screw with me, I'll screw you right back."
Oh man, what an opening that was.”
“And than suddenly he was there, charging down the hallway like death in a cowboy duster.”
“If I let myself love you, I won't throw myself in front of her. I'll throw myself in front of you.”
“Well he didn't treat my mother very well. He did some horrible things."
"Like..." I hesitated. "Blood-whore things?"
"Like beating-her-up kinds of things" he replied flatly.
"Oh God," I said "That's horrible. And she...she just let it happen?"
"She did." The corner of his mouth turned into a sly, sad smile. "But I didn't"
"Tell me, tell me you beat the crap out of him"
His smile grew, "I did.”
“Taking a deep breathe, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life.
I walked away.”
“I get in that kind of situation all the time, Comrade. It's not a big deal." Anger replaced my fear. I didn't like being treated like a child.
"Stop calling me that. You don't even know what you're talking about."
"Sure I do. I had to do a report on the R.S.S.R. last year.”
“I fought against her, trying to mount some kind of defense, but it was like fighting Dimitri on crack.”
“I'm really not good with impulse control.”
“He watched as I slipped one of the shoes on. "You have a guardian angel."
"I don't believe in angels," I told him. "I believe in what I can do for myself."
Well then, you have an amazing body." I glanced up at him with a questioning look. "For healing, I mean. I heard about the accident...”
“I didn't like having reasonable arguments thrown at me.”
“The incident with Dawn hadn't been one of my finer moments. I honestly hadn't expected to break any bones when I shoved her into a tree. Still, the incident had given me a dangerous reputation. The story had gained legendary status, and I liked to imagine that it was still being told around campfires late at night. Judging by the look on the girl's face, it was.”
“I like him."
"Like or like?
"Oh, there's a difference?”
“Oh, so that's why you're up here. For a pity party."
"This isn't a joke. I'm serious." I could tell Lissa was getting angry. It was trumping her earlier distress.
He shrugged and leaned casually against the sloping wall. "So am I. I love pity parties. I wish I'd brought the hats. What do you want to mope about first? How it's going to take you a whole day to be popular and loved again? How you'll have to wait a couple weeks before Hollister can ship out some new clothes? If you spring for rush shipping, it might not be so long.”
“I had a standing arrangement with God: I'd agree to believe in him—barely—so long as he let me sleep in on Sundays.”
“Come on, Hathaway," he said, taking my arm. "You can be my partner. Let’s see what you’ve been doing all this time."
An hour later, he had his answer.
"Not practicing, huh?"
"Ow,” I groaned, momentarily incapable of normal speech.
He extended a hand and helped me up from the mat he’d knocked me down on—about fifty times.
"I hate you,” I told him, rubbing a spot on my thigh that was going to have a wicked bruise tomorrow.
"You’d hate me more if I held back."
"Yeah, that’s true," I agreed, staggering along as the class put the equipment back.
"You actually did okay."
"What? I just had my ass handed to me."
"Well, of course you did. It’s been two years. But hey, you’re still walking. That’s something." He grinned mockingly.
"Did I mention I hate you?”
He flashed me another smile, which quickly faded to something more serious. "Don’t take this the wrong way…I mean, you really are a scrapper, but there’s no way you’ll be able to take your trials in the spring—"
"They’re making me take extra practice sessions," I explained. Not that it mattered. I planned on getting Lissa and me out of here before those practices really became an issue.
"Extra sessions with who?"
"That tall guy. Dimitri."
Mason stopped walking and stared at me. "You’re putting in extra time with Belikov?"
"Yeah, so what?"
"So the man is a god."
"Exaggerate much?" I asked.
"No, I’m serious. I mean, he’s all quiet and antisocial usually but when he fights...wow. If you think you’re hurting now, you’re going to be dead when he’s done with you."
Great. Something else to improve my day.”
“My muscles informed me they did not want to go through any more exercise today. So I suggest that maybe he should let me off this time. He laughed, and I'm pretty sure it was at me...not with me.
"Why is that funny?"
"Oh," he said, his smile dropping. "You were serious."
"Of course I was! Look, I've technically been awake for two days. Why do we have to start this training now? Let me go to bed." I whined. "It's just one hour."
"How do you feel right now?"
"I hurt like hell."
"You'll feel worse tomorrow."
"So, better get a jump on it while you still feel...not as bad."
"What kind of logic is that?" I retorted.”
“Screw you," I told him in a low voice.
"Are you offering?”
"From what I've heard, there isn't much to screw," I shot back.”
“I’d have given you my entire heart if you’d only asked”
“I can’t believe you’re actually here. That you are with me.”
“You don't need to be gifted with a blade. You are your own best weapon.”
“Each of us must confront our own fears, must come face to face with them. How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives. To experience adventure or to be limited by the fear of it.”
“Sometimes it's moments like that, real complicated moments, absorbing moments, that make you realize that even hard times have things in them that make you feel alive. And then there's music, and girls, and drugs, and homeless people who've read Pauline Kael, and wah-wah pedals, and English potato chip flavors, and I haven't even read Martin Chuzzlewit yet... There's plenty out there.”
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