The Indigo Spell

Page 91

He sat at the opposite end of the garden from where I'd entered, on the pool's far edge. His back was to me, but I would have known him anywhere. I approached with trepidation, still churning with that odd mix of fear and eagerness. The closer I got, the more detailed his features became. The tall, lean body. The chestnut glints that the sun brought out in his dark hair. When I finally reached the pool's end, I came to a stop just behind him, not daring to go farther.

"Sage," he said, without looking up. "Figured you'd be south of the border by now."

"No, you didn't," I said. "You never would've given me the note or come all the way out here. You knew I wouldn't leave."

He looked up at me at last, squinting in the bright sun. "I was pretty sure you wouldn't leave. I hoped you wouldn't leave. Jill and I debated it forever. What'd you think of my sweet use of latitude and longitude? Pretty brilliant, huh?"

"Genius," I said, trying to hold back my smile. Some of my fear faded. We were back in familiar, easy territory again. Just Adrian and me. "You took a risk I'd know what those numbers meant. You could've been sitting out here all day."

"Nah." Adrian stood up and took a step toward me. "You're a smart girl. I knew you'd figure it out."

"Not that smart." The closer he came, the more my heart began to race again. "It took me a long time to figure some things out." I gestured around us. "And how is it possible that you knew this place existed, but I didn't?"

His fingertips traced the edge of my cheek, and suddenly, the warmth of the sunshine felt like nothing compared to the heat of that touch. "It was easy," he said, holding me in his gaze. "I had to start my search somewhere, so I typed 'ancient Rome' and 'California' into my phone. This was like the first hit."

"What search?" I asked.

He smiled. "The search for some place more romantic than Pies and Stuff."

Adrian tipped my face up toward his and kissed me. Like always, the world around me stopped moving. No, the world became Adrian, only Adrian. Kissing him was as mind-blowing as ever, full of that same passion and need I had never believed I'd feel. But today, there was even more to it. I no longer had any doubt about whether this was wrong or right. It was a culmination of a long journey . . . or maybe the beginning of one.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer. I didn't care that we were out in public. I didn't care that he was Moroi. All that mattered was that he was Adrian, my Adrian. My match. My partner in crime, in the long battle I'd just signed on for to right the wrongs in the Alchemist and Moroi worlds. Maybe Marcus was right that I'd also signed myself up for disaster, but I didn't care. In that moment, it seemed that as long as Adrian and I were together, there was no challenge too great for us.

I don't know how long we stood there kissing. Like I said, the world around me was gone. Time had stopped. I was awash in the feel of Adrian's body against mine, in his scent, and in the taste of his lips. That was all that mattered right now, and I found myself thinking of our unfinished business in the dream.

When we finally broke the kiss - much too soon, as far as I was concerned - we still stayed locked in an embrace. The sound of giggling caused me to glance to the side, where two small children were laughing and pointing at us. Seeing me watching them, they scurried away. I turned back to Adrian, wanting to melt away with happiness as I looked up into his eyes.

"This is a lot better than loving from afar," I told him.

He brushed some hair from my face and gazed into my eyes. "What changed your mind? I mean, I knew you'd never be able to stay away from me, but I won't lie . . . you had me scared there for a little while."

I leaned against his chest. "It was a combination of things, really. Some surprisingly good advice from Jill. One of Wolfe's charming anecdotes - I have to tell you about his kitchen, by the way. Plus, I kept thinking about when we were on the table."

Adrian shifted just enough so that we could look at each other again. It was one of those rare moments where he was completely floored. "Let me get this straight. The future of our relationship hinged on advice from a fifteen-year-old girl, a probably untrue story from a one-eyed Chihuahua trainer, and me unromantically - yet skillfully - kissing you on top of silverware and china?"

"Yup," I said after a few moments of thought.

"That's all it took, huh? And here I thought winning you over was going to be hard." He grew serious again and pressed a light kiss to my forehead. "What happens now?"

"Now we check out this awesome museum you've lured me to. You're going to love Etruscan art."

That roguish smile I adored returned. "I'm sure I will. But what about the future? What are we going to do about us - about this?"

I caught hold of his hands, still keeping him close. "Since when are you worried about consequences or the future?"

"Me? Never." He considered. "Well, that is, as long as you're with me, I'm not worried. But I know you like to worry about those kinds of things."

"I wouldn't say I like' to," I corrected. A soft breeze ruffled his hair, and I resisted the urge to brush it back into place. If I did, I was pretty sure we'd start kissing again, and I supposed I should first be responsible and answer his questions.

"Are we going to run off to the Keepers?" he suggested.

"Of course not," I scoffed. "That'd be cowardly and immature. And you'd never survive without hair gel - though you might like their moonshine."

"Then what are we going to do?"

"We're going to keep all of this secret."

He chuckled. "That's not cowardly?"

"It's exciting and daring," I said. "Manly and brave, even. I figured you'd be into that."

"Sage." He laughed. "I'm into anything, so long as you're with me. But is it going to be enough? I'm not completely oblivious to consequences, you know. I get how dangerous this is for you, especially if you keep questioning the Alchemists. And I also know you're still worried about Jill watching us."

Right. Jill. Jill, who was probably witnessing all of this right now, whether she wanted to or not. Was she happy for his happiness? Was she filled with the joy of our love? Or was this excruciatingly uncomfortable for her?

"The three of us will find a way to cope," I said at last. I couldn't think much more about it right now or I probably would start freaking out. "And as for the Alchemists . . . we'll just have to be careful. They don't follow me everywhere, and like you said, I'm with you half the time anyway." I just hoped that was enough. It had to be.

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