What sucks most about being locked away awaiting trial for the murder of the royal queen is waiting. Oh yeah, and the fact that I didn't really do it. Not that it matters. Mikhail put it perfectly when he had said the Council wanted me to be guilty. They wanted to be able to elect a new monarch knowing that the person responsible for the death of the previous monarch was getting the justice she deserved.
And me? Well, I would have been my most obvious suspect too, to be honest. I mean, I didn't try very hard to hide my dislike for her, or the age decree she passed. So much so that I had the nerve to tell her so, as well as threaten her, publicly. Looking back, that probably wasn't the best decision I've ever made.
Not that I had made very many good decisions over the last few months. Ever since Dimitri, my former mentor-turned-lover-turned-strigoi and then back to dhampir, had become strigoi, my life had seemed to become one wrong turn after the other.
First there was quitting school during my senior year to go to Siberia and find Dimitri. Which, while I had good intentions (I had wanted to free him from his undead state), turned out to be an utter failure when I couldn't manage to kill him. What was worse was that I had done irreparable damage to my relationship with my best friend, Lissa, not to mention my little stunt had probably cost me my only chance at being her Guardian.
I probably could have still been someone's Guardian, though, if it wasn't for the fact that while I was in Siberia I had met Mark and Oksana. Oksana was a spirit user, like Lissa, and Mark was her shadow-kissed Guardian, like me.
All Moroi, those are good living vampires, possess magic over one of the five elements: Earth, wind, fire, water, and spirit, spirit being the rarest and one that not many people understand.
With cases like Lissa and me, and Mark and Oksana, the spirit users had brought us back after we had died bonding us to them forever. Thus the reason Mark and I were considered shadow-kissed. We had both crossed over and been brought back.
Anyway, Mark and Oksana had told me about another spirit user, Robert Doru, who had claimed that he had brought a strigoi back to life. And well, seeing as Dimitri (the love of my life) at the time had still been strigoi, I decided that I needed to speak to Robert.
The problem was that no one knew where he was, seeing as he had gone kind of ape shit crazy, a side-effect of wielding spirit.
What was worse, one of the few people who may have had an idea as to where he was, was his half-brother, Victor Dashkov, a royal who Lissa and I had incidentally had imprisoned after he tried to kidnap Lissa in order to use her spirit to heal his disease.
Seeing as Victor saw no reason to divulge Robert's whereabouts while behind bars, I, along with the help of Lissa, and another dhampir, Eddie, snuck out of court, flew to Alaska, where the Moroi prison Tarasov is located, and broke him out.
And then lost him and his brother in Las Vegas.
That little escapade probably lost me any chance that I had to be anyone's Guardian, and cemented me a nice boring office job here at court.
So yeah, lately, my life was just one big mistake after another.
One good thing did come from freeing Victor though, we were able to find out how to bring strigoi back, a stake charmed with spirit and driven through the heart by a spirit user. Which was how Lissa saved Dimitri.
Not that it did me much good. While Dimitri basically worshipped the ground Lissa walked on, he had shunned me, telling me he no longer loved me.
Love fades. Mine did. He had told me. And then, just as the realization that the opposite is true too, love grows, and I was finally willing to allow myself to move on and give Adrian a chance, well this whole killing Queen Tatiana mess had to pop up.
And, oh, does it get better. My pirate-mobster father, Abe Mazur, had the good grace to tell me today that if they find me guilty of the murder, I will be executed.
Not that I was too worried about all that. He had also said that I would not go to trial, and apparently has a big secret plan. And from what I have seen from my father, his plans are usually successful.
But hope that Abe would come through for me with one of his elaborate schemes, did not change the fact that I was stuck inside this god-awful cell with nothing to do but turn my depressing thoughts over in my head.
Nor did it change the fact that apparently Tatiana's dying wish was for me to go off and find Lissa's illegitimate brother or sister so that she could take her place on the Council. Something that I would have loved to do, seeing as Lissa deserved to be on that damned Council. However, once again, being stuck in a jail cell proved as sort of a hindrance.
So instead of doing something productive, like, I don't know, finding Lissa's sibling or hunting down Tatiana's true killer, I found myself stuck behind bars, with nothing to occupy me but my own thoughts. Which, by the way, I was starting to wonder why anyone liked to be around me, because I was kind of finding myself extremely boring.
That isn't to say that I would have minded someone coming to visit with me. In fact, at this point I wouldn't mind anyone coming, just as long as they had something informative, or at the very least interesting to tell me.
As if she could hear, which she couldn't because our psychic bond only worked one way, I heard Lissa's thoughts in my head. Rose, you really should see this. And just like that, I was sucked into her head.
She was standing with Christian, in the courtyard, which was exactly where she had been when I had checked on her earlier. Only now, Adrian and Dimitri joined them. And Adrian did not look happy.
He was staring at Dimitri with a look of pure hatred that I can tell, thanks to the bond, had Lissa slightly upset. She always seemed to get like that when it comes to Dimitri now a days. Over-protective that is, something to do with the fact that she brought him back and felt all motherly towards him now.
Dimitri just stared back at Adrian, his face carefully blank in true Guardian fashion.
"How could you have just let them take her? You have to know she didn't do this!" Adrian's green eyes flashed as he spoke.
"I know she didn't do this." Dimitri stated simply, his brown eyes betraying no emotion.
"Then why did you let them take her? Is it because you were jealous? Jealous because she moved on? Or is it because you really never gave a fuck about her in the first place?" I had never seen Adrian so angry, and as he stared at Dimitri, waiting for his response, I couldn't help but brace myself for the answer either.
Dimitri remained quiet for a long moment, before something, regret maybe, flashed in his eyes. All too quickly, though, his face was blank once more. "She told me to stop." Disappointment washed over me at his answer. I already knew why he had stopped; I was more interested in hearing his answer to the last two questions.
Not that I should have expected him to answer them, he never was one for showing emotion.
Adrian rolled his eyes. "Yeah, like that should have stopped you. If I had been there, I wouldn't have stopped fighting for her, even if she told me to. I would have done whatever I thought was best for her."
Once again, Dimitri's eyes flashed, with anger this time. "What was best for her? What? Like treating her like a blood whore?" He asked and immediately it was obvious that he wished he had not let his temper get the best of him and that he had kept his mouth shut.
My hand flew to my neck, and my fingers ran over the puncture wounds that were a result of allowing Adrian to drink my blood last night.
Adrian's eyes narrowed in response. "And you have room to talk? I saw her after she came back from Siberia. I saw what you did to her. And I have to see it every time I look in her eyes. What you did to her, it haunts her."
Dimitri took a step forward, hate twisting in his features, and then thinking better of it, turned his back on Adrian. "Which is why you're better for her." He said softly, and then his eyes locked on Lissa's, etched with sadness and defeat, and for a brief second I felt like he was staring right at me.
Lissa looked back and forth between Adrian and Dimitri for a moment and straightened herself, making herself look every bit the royalty that she was. "Well, if the two of you are done bickering, I'm going to go see Rose, are you coming?"
Instantly, I pulled myself from her head. "Guards!" I yelled, hoping that if it worked for Dimitri, it would work for me.
Mikhail, who seemed to be one of my permanent guards, walked up to my cell. "Yes?"
"Please, please don't let Dimitri Belikov down here. Anyone else is fine, but not him."
Mikhail arched an eyebrow at me, something that reminded me painfully of Dimitri and then shrugged his shoulders. "Hathaway has requested that Dimitri Belikov not be granted access to see her." He stated into the invisible earpiece device that served as a means of communication for the guardians.
A half a second later I could hear Dimitri's voice from up at the front desk. "Are you sure?" He asked, confusion evident in his words.
There was an inaudible answer in response and then Dimitri's voice rang out again, loud enough that there was no mistaking that he was actually speaking to me.
"Fine. That's fine. I just wanted to make sure that she was okay."
I couldn't help but wince at the irritation in his voice. Irritation that had once been a goal of mine to achieve. Before, when I was his student. Before he was strigoi.
I could only live in the past for a moment before Lissa was before me, Christian and Adrian at her tail.
"Rose, how are you?" Lissa asked, the compassion in her voice reflected in her jade eyes.
I shrugged. "Just peachy considering that I am locked up behind bars and facing death for a crime I didn't commit."
Lissa winced at the word death and then regained her composure. "Are they treating you well?"
I was about to laugh in response, but Christian beat me to it. "Come one Liss, she's accused of murdering the Queen. They're not going to be giving her any special treatment." Christian's icy blue eyes flashed to me and then he smiled gravely. "Sorry to be so blunt."
"Well, I couldn't have put it better myself."
Lissa glared at Christian for a moment and then at me. "What I meant is, are they being mean to you? Because if they are," for a brief second Lissa's eyes flashed with spirit-induced darkness and I shot Christian a warning glance.
He caught on quickly, draping his arm over Lissa's shoulders and pulling her back from the bars. "It's alright Liss, I'm sure they are treating Rose just like they would any other accused murderer."
I nodded in agreement. "Yeah, Liss don't worry about me. I'm strong, I can deal with it. Besides, they aren't being too bad. They mostly just ignore me."
Adrian, who had been leaned against the wall across from my cell, his face down-turned, chose this moment to look up. As I saw his face, I had to work to suppress my gasp.
Haggard came to mind. There were dark circles under his eyes, which were slightly wild, his own spirit-induced craziness threatening to take him over. "Rose," he began, his voice a pitiful whisper.
In an instant, as his eyes met my own, his demeanor changed and he rushed to my bars. "I won't let them convict you. I have a plan. I'm going to get you out of here. I love you, I won't let them hurt you." He exclaimed passionately.
"Adrian," I whispered, reaching through the bars to touch his face. "I know that you won't let anything happen to me."
A thought popped into my head and then I motioned for Lissa to come closer.
I looked over at the Guardians, who moved in closer when they noticed Adrian and Lissa's proximity to me. Judging by the looks on their faces, I only had a second to spit out what I wanted them to do, before the Guardians broke us up.
"Lissa. Adrian." I whispered. "I need you to use compulsion to get the guards to go upstairs for a minute. I have an idea."
"Hey, you need to stop whispering to each other." One guardian, a tall man with no hair and a face only his mother could love, told us.
Lissa and Adrian spun on their heels and faced the five guardians watching over me.
Lissa was the one who spoke, though it was obvious that Adrian was silently reinforcing her message. "You all need to go upstairs." She said, and through the bond I could feel her magic start to well up.
"Why would we-," the Guardian who had spoken began, before his eyes glazed over and Lissa's compulsion took hold. He turned to his fellow guardians, all of whom had similar dreamy looks on their faces. "Come on guys, we need to go upstairs." And just like that, they were gone.
After watching the Guardians' retreating backs, Lissa, Christian, and Adrian all turned to look at me. "What was that about?" Lissa asked.
"I need to get out of here. I have a job that Tatiana left me to do, and obviously I need to find Tatiana's killer myself because none of them," I waved my hand towards the upstairs, indicating the Guardians, "are going to look further than me. I have a plan, and I need you all to come back tonight at, say one o'clock. Bring Abe." The three of them looked as though they were going to comment, but the sound of the Guardians coming back down the stairs quieted them.
"You guys better go, before you get me in more trouble." I told them.
Christian nodded and headed towards the stairs with a half-hearted wave good-bye.
Adrian leaned into the bars and kissed me on the cheek. "Stay sane little dhampir." He whispered, and then he too headed up the stairs.
I kissed him on his cheek. "You do the same." I whispered in his ear.
Lissa stared at me for a moment, and then sighed. "Dimitri is going to want to know why you banned him from coming down here."
I shrugged, not really sure how to answer. "I don't now why Liss. Just tell him, that I'm finally starting to get over him, and that I don't want to see him. There really is no point anyway, all it will do is hurt me in the end."
Lissa nodded, and then with one last look, headed back up the stairs, leaving me to sit and wait until they came back tonight.