Blood Promise




Once when I was in ninth grade, I had to write a paper on a poem. One of the lines was, "If your eyes weren't open, you wouldn't know the difference between dreaming and waking." It hadn't meant much to me at the time. After all, there'd been a guy in the class that I liked, so how could I be expected to pay attention to literary analysis? Now, three years later, I understood the poem perfectly.

Because lately, my life really did seem like it was on the precipice of being a dream. There were days I thought I'd wake up and discover that recent events in my life hadn't actually happened. Surely I must be a princess in an enchanted sleep. Any day now, this dream-no, nightmare would end, and I'd get my prince and happy ending.

But there was no happy ending to be found, at least not in the foreseeable future. And my prince? Well, that was a long story. My prince had been turned into a vampire-a Strigoi, to be specific. In my world, there are two kinds of vampires who exist in secrecy from humans. The Moroi are living vampires, good vampires who wield elemental magic and don't kill when seeking the blood they need to survive. Strigoi are undead vampires, immortal and twisted, who kill when they feed. Moroi are born. Strigoi are made-forcibly or by choice-through evil means.

And Dimitri, the guy I loved, had been made a Strigoi against his will. He'd been turned during a battle, an epic rescue mission that I'd been part of as well. Strigoi had kidnapped Moroi and dhampirs from the school I attended, and we'd set out with others to save them. Dhampirs are half vampire and half-human-gifted with human strength and hardiness, and Moroi reflexes and senses. Dhampirs train to become guardians, the elite bodyguards who protect Moroi. That's what I am. That's what Dimitri had been.

After his conversion, the rest of the Moroi world had considered him dead. And to a certain extent, he was. Those who were turned Strigoi lost all sense of the goodness and life they'd had before. Even if they hadn't turned by choice, it didn't matter. They would still become evil and cruel, just like all Strigoi. The person they'd been was gone, and honestly, it was easier to imagine them moving on to heaven or the next life than to picture them out stalking the night and taking victims. But I hadn't been able to forget Dimitri, or accept that he was essentially dead. He was the man I loved, the man with whom I'd been so perfectly in sync that it was hard to know where I ended and he began. My heart refused to let him go even if he was technically a monster, he was still out there somewhere. I also hadn't forgotten a conversation he and I had once had. We'd both agreed that we'd rather be dead-truly dead-than walk the world as Strigoi.

And once I'd had my mourning time for the goodness he'd lost, I'd decided I had to honor his wishes. Even if he no longer believed in them. I had to find him. I had to kill him and free his soul from that dark, unnatural state. I knew it was what the Dimitri I had loved would have wanted. Killing Strigoi isn't easy, though. They're insanely fast and strong. They have no mercy. I'd killed a number of them already-pretty crazy for someone who was freshly eighteen. And I knew taking on Dimitri would be my greatest challenge, both physically and emotionally.

In fact, the emotional consequences had kicked in as soon as I made my decision. Going after Dimitri had meant doing a few life-altering things (and that wasn't even counting the fact that fighting him could very likely result in the loss of my life). I was still in school, only a handful of months away from graduating and becoming a full-fledged guardian. Every day I stuck around at St. Vladimir's Academy-a remote, protected school for Moroi and dhampirs-meant one more day was going by in which Dimitri was still out there, living in the state he'd never wanted. I loved him too much to allow that. So I'd had to leave school early and go out among humans, abandoning the world I'd lived in nearly my entire life.

Leaving had also meant abandoning one other thing-or rather, a person: my best friend, Lissa, also known as Vasilisa Dragomir. Lissa was Moroi,