"There is a wisdom of the head, and a wisdom of the heart." - Charles Dickens
Keith lifted his hand to knock at the door, but it opened before he could do anything. I smiled at his shocked expression.
The woman who opened the door looked just as surprised to see us. She held a cigarette pack in one hand and it was obvious she was sneaking out for a quick smoke. She paused and gave us a once- over.
"Um. I prefer Catholicism but thanks."
I chuckled quietly. The woman was a Moroi, a couple years older then me with curly shoulder length blonde hair that shined. Like all Moroi, she was pale and had a tall, lean build. Startling gold eyes studied us. Admittedly, I favored brunettes but there was no doubt she was attractive.
"Miss Sage," I said formally. "It's nice to see you again."
She frowned, looking up at me. I was still a bit taller then her. "Do I know you?"
I almost said, "We met in your dreams." but decided against it. "We ran into each other at your Court last month."
"Right. The Alchemist." She pursed her lips which were smeared with lip gloss. "Adrian Ivashkov, right?"
I nodded, noticing that Keith had frozen up beside me. Ugh. He's acted like this would be no problem for him in the car; like this was no big deal, but here he was making a fool of himself. I would have had more sympathy if he wasn't such a bastard. Wait. Never mind. No, I wouldn't have. I smiled at Sydney and said smoothly, "Keith, this is Sydney Sage. Sydney, this is my colleague, Keith Darnell."
She nodded at him, taking out a lighter from her pocket. I really wanted to ask her if I could bum one. It'd been for ever since I'd had a smoke.
"They're waiting for you. Go on in." Sydney gestured to the doorway then leaned closer to Keith and whispered dramatically. "Beware." She poked him in the shoulder and strolled off, whistling The Addams Family theme song. Keith's eyes widened.
I pushed him through the door. "Come on."
When I saw who was inside, my stomach clenched. Abe Mazur.
Being around vampires was fine; I didn't really care either way. If you respected me then I respected you. Easy as that. Obviously, that wasn't something I could admit to the Alchemists but that didn't make it any less true. But being around Abe, well, that was a different story. He had me wrapped around his little Moroi finger and that scared me. I didn't like owing people things.
Fake it till you make it, Adrian. Nobody can have power over you unless you let them.
I focused on the three other people in the room. Clarence was easily recognizable with thinning hair and a white mustache that resembled Santa Claus's beard.
"Adrian." Eddie Castile greeted me warmly. It was weird but nice. I liked Eddie, though we didn't know each other well. I shook my head as his eyes shifted toward Keith. The Alchemist next to me was not going to be a fan favorite. I guess that honor was going to fall on me. But then again, it usually did.
Beside Eddie was a dhampir I had seen but never been introduced to. Jill Mastrano had been in almost as much trouble as I had when I was questioned at the Royal Court. I could never forget a fellow trouble maker. We had to stick together in this world filled with law abiding citizens. Jill watched us warily. Guardian were like that, always alert, watching for any signs of danger. Even though I was glad they were around, I couldn't help wanting to tell them to relax sometimes.
A sly smile spread over Abe's face once my gaze returned to him. "Why, Mr. Ivashkov," he said slowly. "Aren't you going to say hello to me?"
I'd rather not. "Hello."
He grinned. He reminded me of The Joker except I didn't find Abe as funny. "It's good to see you."
"Likewise." But not really.
I walked over to Clarence and introductions were made all around. After a bit, Keith stopped acting incompetent and sit down with an arrogant expression. My disgust poured through me. Was it possible to be annoyed that a person was breathing? Because I desperately wanted him to stop.
Abe started asking Keith questions he already knew the answers to and I ran my hands through my hair. It was making me uncomfortable and I hated feeling like that.
"Hey," A familiar voice piped from behind me. "I didn't miss the party, did I?"
My eyebrows went up, surprised at seeing Lissa Dragomir here. Was this a family reunion? "Lissa?"
"Hey, Adrian." She smiled, her green eyes dancing around the room. If Abe was the mob king of Moroi then Lissa was the guardian queen of dhampir. Everything about her shouted elegance. She was sweet but feisty if you got on her bad side. Which not a lot of people dared do. Not if you wanted to keep all your body parts.
Her gaze rested on Keith. "Hi, other Alchemist."
He stuttered out his name and he almost had a heart attack when she told him hers. Sadly, he didn't actually die. Another Moroi entered behind Lissa. She had extraordinary features with ink black hair and cloudy gray eyes. Offering everyone a sincere smile she told us her name. Lea Donahue. Clarence's daughter.
"You live here?"
"Oh no," she laughed. " I go to college in LA. I'm taking part time classes this semester. I want to spend some time with my Dad."
Abe looked at Lissa. "Now that's devotion." She sighed. Hearing the sound made me realize how tired I was. We might as well get to the questions portion before I fell asleep standing up. I changed my stance, hands hanging at my side.
"You didn't have any problems getting here, did you? No more incidents?"
Lissa shrugged though her body tensed. Did she know her body gave away how she was feeling no matter what her mouth said? "Nothing we couldn't handle. The rest was uneventful."
"And it's going to stay that way." Jill stated firmly. Her blonde hair was in a tight ponytail making her look older then I believed she was.
"I should be the one staying. No offense, Adrian, but I'm the one who's gotta kick anyone's ass who gives Eddie trouble." Lissa said. I didn't doubt that she could do better but I wasn't exactly helpless.
"Lissa, you need to stay with Rose and keep her safe. I have Jill." Eddie said intensely, his sandy brown hair flopped over his forehead. He was so young. I mean I was young too but Eddie should have been at school goofing off in class and falling in love. It wasn't fair. "Everything is going to be okay."
We all fall silent and I decided that if I was going to stay awake, I needed some fresh air. Just as I was about to excuse myself, my sister bursted in.