Alright. The last chapter of Frostbite! I'm DONE WITH THIS BOOK!

It was a ton of fun though.

Alright, so I'll start books one and three soon. And check out my new story Life Comes Around.

Yep. That's it! Review please!

The next few day were warm for the winter. Snow melted. The sun came out.

Winter wasn't over, though.

I didn't see much of Rose in the next few days. She didn't have many injuries. A few burns, cuts, and bruises.

On her fourth day, her molnija ceremony was scheduled. She would receive two marks.

The ceremony was in the guardian building, in the room for meetings. It was a very simple room.

All guardians attended the ceremony. No novices or moroi attended.

There was a stool in the corner of the room for Rose. She leaned forward and her hair hung over her face. The tattoo needle started to move on her neck.

Rose flinched a lot during the drawing of the tattoos. But she made it through.

Everyone went up to her, gave her a hug, and said some kind of kind words.

When I walked up to her, I said nothing. I knew that she wouldn't want me to say anything. I touched her cheek, nodded to her, and walked down the hall.

Rose ate when the food was served. She answered questions, but she wasn't really her, I noticed with fascination. She was just going through the motions.

Rose went back to her classes, and guardians went back to… guarding. Everyone bugged her about her tattoos, and she played along, without actually letting anyone see.

The day passed uneventfully. I figured that Rose would show for practice, so I waited for her in the gym. She didn't need to practice yet. She needed to recover. To be her again.

She emerged from the locker room, and walked into the supply room, where I sat, reading a Western.

"I thought you might come by," I put a bookmark in the book, and stood.

"It's time for practice," she stated. She was just going through the motions, and I could tell.

I shook my head, looking her over. "No. No practice today. You still need to recover."

"I've got a clean bill of health. I'm good to go." She tried. But the words, they didn't work, not on me. I could see right through her.

I pointed to the chair beside me, and sat back down. "Sit down, Rose."
She hesitated but obeyed. I scooted toward her and we were directly across from each other. I looked into her eyes.

"No one gets over their first kill…kills…easily. Even with Strigoi…well, it's still technically taking a life. That's hard to come to terms with. And after everything else you went through …" I sighed, then reached out and caught her hand in mine. I hesitated, but then started to speak again. "When I saw your face…when we found you in that house…you can't imagine how I felt."

"How … how did you feel?"

I decided to be honest. "Devastated … grief-stricken. You were alive, but the way you looked … I didn't think you'd ever recover. And it tore me apart to think of that happening to you so young." He squeezed my hand. "You will recover—I know that now, and I'm glad. But you aren't there. Not yet. Losing someone you care about is never easy." I looked directly at her, and she dropped her eyes.

"It's my fault," she said in a small voice. She sounded so helpless, and I wasn't sure I'd heard her correctly.

"Hmm?" I asked. She couldn't have meant what I thought she meant.

"Mason. Getting killed."

"Oh, Roza. No. You made some bad decisions…you should have told others when you knew he was gone…but you can't blame yourself. You didn't kill him." I sighed. It hadn't been her fault.

She was on the verge of crying. "I might as well have. The whole reason he went there—it was my fault. We had a fight…and I told him about the Spokane thing, even though you asked me not to…."

She let a tear loose, and I wiped it from her cheek.

"You can't blame yourself for that," I told her. "You can regret your decisions and wish you'd done things differently, but in the end, Mason made his decisions too. That was what he chose to do. It was his decision in the end, no matter your original role." It was not her fault. She needed to understand that. It wasn't her who had been at fault.

I loved her, but she was too hard on herself.

She spoke with difficulty. "I just wish I'd been able to … I don't know, do anything…"

She pulled away her hands, and stood.

"I should go. Let me know when you want to start practice again. And thanks for … talking." She started to leave.

I decided she needed to know about the deal with Tasha. "No."

She looked at me, confused. "What?"

I looked directly at her, my eyes meeting hers.

"No. I told her no. Tasha."

"I …" She closed her mouth, and then opened it again to speak. Rose Hathaway, speechless. That wasn't something you saw every day. "But…why? That was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. You could have had a baby. And she … she was, you know, into you…."

I smiled a small, small smile. "Yes, she was. Is. And that's why I had to say no. I couldn't return that…couldn't give her what she wanted. Not when…" I stepped towards her. "Not when my heart is somewhere else."

"But you seemed so into her. And you kept going on about how young I acted."

"You act young," I said, "because you are young. But you know things, Roza. Things people older than you don't even know. That day … You were right, about how I fight to stay in control. No one else has ever figured that out— and it scared me. You scare me."

"Why? Don't you want anyone to know?"

I shrugged. Rose… she scared me. She knew more than I'd ever wanted anyone to know, even myself. "Whether they know that fact or not doesn't matter. What matters is that someone—that you—know me that well. When a person can see into your soul, it's hard. It forces you to be open. Vulnerable. It's much easier being with someone who's just more of a casual friend."

"Like Tasha."

"Tasha Ozera is an amazing woman. She's beautiful and she's brave. But she doesn't—"

"She doesn't get you," Rose finished my sentence for me.

I nodded. She knew me so well. "I knew that. But I still wanted the relationship. I knew it would be easy and that she could take me away from you. I thought she could make me forget you."

"But she couldn't."

I sighed, and decided that I should be truthful with Rose. Because she could see right through the lies. "Yes. And, so … that's a problem."

"Because it's wrong for us to be together."

"Yes." I said.

"Because of the age difference." She stated.


"But more importantly because we're going to be Lissa's guardians and need to focus on her—not each other."


She looked right at me and didn't say anything for a moment. "Well, the way I see it, we aren't Lissa's guardians yet."

I realized then how much I loved her, and how much she was right. I kissed her. I cupped her face between my hands, thinking about how much I wished we could be together. The kiss strengthened, and finally I pulled away, kissed her forehead, and broke away. I ran a few fingers through her hair, and down her cheek. Then I stepped away.

"I'll see you later, Roza," I said, allowing myself a moment of happiness.

"At our next practice?" Rose asked. "We are starting those up again, right? I mean, you still have things to teach me."

I looked at her from the doorway, took in her face one more time, and smiled. "Yes. Lots of things."

That was so much fun! I can't believe I'm done with Frostbite! Review please!