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       Moonbeam, p.10

           Adrienne Woods
 

  She found me staring at him.

  “Oh, he is a bit shy around strangers.”

  I laughed. “He’s gorgeous! How old is he?”

  “Four,” she said. “You have any children?”

  Oh, Silho. With just those words, I was rendered mute with fresh grief. I shook my head. I didn’t anymore.

  “It’s really nice meeting you, but excuse me.” She smiled at me, then my father. “Is she in her room?”

  His nod turned into a sigh.

  “Don’t. I’ll never give up on her.” She walked to where I assumed was my mother’s chamber.

  We left them in peace to discuss their meeting next week with this Rogue—whom we knew to be Goran.

  We went to the courtyard. It was larger than what I was used to.

  Everything was so different.

  I know. Blake hugged me.

  Queen Margerite left with Lucian. She wasn’t even gone half an hour before she returned with tears in her eyes.

  “Is everything okay?” I asked her.

  “Yes. Don’t mind me.”

  I pretended to see something in the distance. I broke everything down to Blake in my mind. If we couldn’t get through to my father, then at least we could get through to her: never trust Wyverns. Blake rushed to my side.

  “Is she okay?”

  “It’s our Moon-Bolt gift,” he explained.

  “Oh my.” She sounded worried.

  I pretended to snap out of it. I looked at Lucian with grave eyes.

  “What did you see?” she demanded as she pulled Lucian closer to her.

  “Please tell me.” She was on the verge of tears. I was scaring her.

  “Don’t trust Wyverns. Ever. Otherwise you will lose…” I just stared at Lucian. She gasped, getting my meaning.

  “They can’t be trusted,” I whispered. She needed to protect her children with her life.

  “Excuse me,” I said. “I have to go lie down.”

  Blake followed me. That was fucking brilliant, Elena.

  No, it wasn’t. I hated that look on her face.

  He squeezed my hand. She needs to be scared.

  Why doesn’t my dad just fucking listen?

  He has many dreams, he said reasonably. He believes in good more than he does in evil, love. It’s why he got that name. The Greatest King.

  I hated that name. He was too good, and everyone would pay for it.

  At five we found my father inside the library.

  “May we join you?” Blake asked, and my father nodded.

  It was time.

  “Where is Goran?”

  “Oh, he left for the day to visit the Wyverns. He will be back around nine this evening.”

  Plotting your murder. Rage rose in me.

  “What is it?” My father caught the look on my face.

  Blake wielded his shield and the two of us moved closer to him and took the seats in front of him.

  “I’m sorry to do this to you. Our intentions in coming weren’t a hundred percent honest.”

  My father narrowed his eyes.

  “One of our other gifts is seeing into the future, Albert,” Blake said.

  Let me. I looked at Blake and then back at my father.

  “We have no limits in whose future we see.”

  My father looked at me.

  “We know about her. We’ve seen her.”

  My father was so good at protecting my existence. “Who are you talking about?”

  “You know who. Your daughter.”

  My father closed his eyes and took a huge breath.

  You’re doing a great job, love, Blake said.

  “We’ve also seen who will betray you, Albert. It’s someone very close.”

  He opened his eyes. “I know it’s someone close. We’ve always known that. But who?”

  I shook my head. “You are not going to like this, but I promise you, tomorrow he will destroy everything you love.”

  “Tell me who,” he grunted.

  The words that would crush my father dried up in my throat.

  “You know who,” Blake said. “You said it yourself. He can speak Wyvic.”

  My father’s eyes widened. “No! He would never do that. He’s like my brother.” His entire demeanor changed.

  “Okay, calm down. We are just the messengers. We can’t control what we see. We thought it was best to tell you,” Blake said. “What you do with it is up to you. We will go now.”

  Get up, Elena.

  “Please,” I begged. “Let us tell you how—”

  Elena, Blake’s voice said again, sharp.

  “Leave me.” My father’s tone was stern.

  I nodded.

  Blake and I got up and we went to our room. I really thought we had him, Elena. What happened?

  I don’t know. We were gentle.

  Not gentle enough. Three days wasn’t nearly long enough to win his trust. Not even to mention doing it in two.

  It wasn’t enough.

  We planted the seed. What he does with it is up to him.

  I didn’t like that. We didn’t even tell him how, nothing. He just didn’t give us the chance.

  We found the room. We grabbed our backpack and packed as fast as we could. If my father didn’t decide to kill us for treason, Goran definitely would when he found out we had exposed him.

  As we were about to exit the room, the command came. My father wanted to arrest us, to throw us in the dungeon. Something about a hearing.

  I didn’t like this. In Blake’s mind I saw images of Goran and him. If Goran discovered who we really were, this could end in a catastrophe. If we were placed in the dungeon we would certainly die there.

  They will execute us.

  Does this room have a secret entrance, Elena?

  I closed my eyes, remembering the layout of the castle my father showed us.

  It didn’t.

  But I knew the nearest one.

  We slipped out the door as they stomped up the stairs. I found the statue my father told me about. I pressed its nose and a hidden panel opened. We slipped through and it closed.

  We waited.

  I could hear my father in our room.

  “They are here. He’s protecting them. Feel every inch of this room. They are hiding somewhere.” He sounded furious as he stormed out.

  He walked our way. Please don’t open this panel, please, I prayed.

  Blake blended us in just in case.

  “Al, what is it?” Sir Robert asked. “What happened?”

  “Treason. You were right, Bob. Two Rubicons can’t exist at the same time.” My father’s words riled up his dragon.

  I gasped as I remembered something. I dreamed about this!

  Blake sucked air through his teeth with the shock if the memory. What were their names?

  I think it was Cooper and Merica.

  It hadn’t been just a dream. It was me, getting a glimpse of the future through a dream, eight years ago.

  So it hadn’t happened exactly the way I’d dreamt about it, but it was the same concept. My father didn’t believe us.

  The seed is planted, love. We have to get out of here.

  Elena, we have to leave. Blake’s urgent tone thrilled through my mind. You heard what your father is going to do if he finds us.

  I dragged my feet. I didn’t want to go. Planting the seed wasn’t good enough. No, I won’t leave without knowing for sure that Goran will die.

  Then how? he asked as we hid in our confined space inside the wall.

  My mother flashed through my mind. The enchantment was wearing off.

  Are you insane?

  She is our last hope, Blake. I could plead, tell her the truth. You saw her. This is what she wants.

  No, your father gave us a direct order not to go to your mother. Seeing her was a plus. You can forget about speaking to her. Elena, you don’t know the state your mother is in.

  She is my last hope now, I retorted.

  My mind was set. Blake didn’
t like it, but he had no choice. He wouldn’t leave my side.

  We rushed as swiftly as we could through the walls to the west wing. Cobwebs tickled my face in the darkness. I knew more or less how to get there. My father had shown me the levers that released hidden walls from inside. I found one underneath a huge letter W. At last, the west wing.

  I pushed the lever and the door opened. It was a section in a castle we’d never been in.

  Blake rushed to the nearest door. He blended us in. We walked down a long cobblestone path that led to my mother’s wing, past a guard who was looking out into the late afternoon sky, and once we were safe, he let the blending technique disappear.

  I was standing in front of my mother’s doors.

  She was my last hope.

  My hands balled into fists. I knocked three times on her door.

  It opened a few seconds later. Her lady’s face appeared, looking harried.

  “Can I help you?” she asked.

  “We need to speak to Queen Catherine, please. It is urgent.”

  “The queen doesn’t wish to be disturbed,” she said bluntly and closed the door.

  I pressed my foot in the jamb before it shut.

  “We have news about Elena.” It just came out of my mouth.

  The door opened again and her face appeared, this time looking suspicious. “Who?” she asked.

  “Just tell the queen that.”

  She closed the door. Seconds dragged by. Was this going to get her attention? Blake was on edge.

  Then the lady reappeared and showed us in.

  We walked into my mother’s chambers. It was warm, beautiful, and soft, just like her. It had two huge doors—one where only her bedroom could be, and another door hiding who knew what.

  We stood in a sort of living room with the most beautiful fireplace.

  An arm grabbed me and shoved me against the wall, hard.

  Blake moved to protect me, but I flicked my hand up to block him. A knife lay cold against the tender flesh under my chin. My face was inches away from my mother’s.

  “How do you know that name?” she demanded.

  My hand was still raised towards Blake, holding him back with my ability.

  “We came to warn you,” I grunted. Her blade was sharp and I could feel it cutting through my soft skin.

  Twice now, Mom? I couldn’t help the thought. “Your husband doesn’t want to listen. But you might.”

  Her eye twitched. She pulled away the knife from my throat.

  I touched my neck. Blood smeared my fingers. Blake rushed to my side and placed his warm hand on my wound. My mother watched as she saw him erase the scrape on my neck and a thin line appeared on his neck. She gasped.

  Anger still flared in her eyes. The lioness she used to be, protecting me—well, baby me who was thousands of miles away from her.

  “That doesn’t explain how you know that name.” She pointed at me with a second dagger still lodged in her fist.

  “My dragon is a Rubicon. We can see into the future.”

  She gasped, her eyes were huge and she stared at both of us.

  “There can’t be two living Rubicons at the same time.”

  “We don’t mean you any harm.” I sighed. We’d just had this conversation. I moved in front of Blake. My mother wasn’t thinking clearly. She wasn’t thinking at all. “We only came to tell you what we saw. We know who will betray you. We know that he is doing it tomorrow with a Wyvern army.”

  “What?” Her mouth grew into a thin line. “Who?”

  “You know who! He is the only one who can speak their language,” I said.

  “Who?” she barked, angry tears in her eyes. I realized I’d gotten that trait from her. Both of us had our emotions connected to our tear ducts.

  “Goran.”

  Saying his name, it was as if all the life left her. Fat tears rolled over her cheeks as she contemplated this. He’s evil, seriously! I shouted in my head. She shook her head. “No, he would never do that.”

  “You are going to be tied to that bed.” I pointed at one of the doors, hoping it was her bedroom. My voice grew shrill though I kept my volume low. “And you will die on that bed. You will be burned to death.”

  She looked at her the intricately carved door to her sleeping chamber. No doubt she was visualizing my harsh prediction. Grabbing her dark hair with the palm of her hand, she paced a few steps toward us and a few paces back to her fireplace.

  Be gentle, Elena, Blake cautioned in my head.

  I ignored him. She wasn’t my father. She was my mother. She needed to hear it. She needed to believe me.

  She paced in front of her fireplace. I decided to go to her. “Please, you have to believe me. If you don’t kill him, you will never see Elena again. She will grow up without you.”

  My mother stopped immediately and looked at once at me.

  I was the key to getting through to her. Dammit, I was the key to my father as well, but I’d gotten too eager.

  Elena, we need to hurry. They are coming.

  “Five more minutes,” I said over my shoulder, out loud.

  My mother’s head shot toward him. “You can hear his thoughts?”

  I nodded. “He is much more powerful than you think.”

  She frowned thoughtfully. It was the way I’d said it. As if I was talking about Blake and not the guy he pretended to be at this very moment.

  Elena, Blake growled.

  I don’t care anymore. She needs to believe me. I looked at him.

  “Elena will not even know who you are, or who she is. Tanya will break her promise. She will leave your child with Jako.”

  “Jako found them?”

  I nodded.

  My mother stared at nothing. Worry lines deepened around her eyes. She looked so vulnerable.

  She retreated and plummeted into a chair. “No,” she finally said. “She promised. She can’t come back.”

  “She can. After you are dead, the vow will vanish and she will leave him and her on the other side of that wall, and she will come straight back.”

  My mother’s glistening gaze sought mine. “But…she promised.”

  “She is Chromatic. It’s not her fault. Elena will grow up on the run. She’ll have to move every three months because dragons will find out about her and hunt her down. Dragons working with Goran, who will order her killed. It will never be over if you don’t fix it before it begins.”

  “Goran? Goran loves me, he would never…”

  I wanted to take her in my arms. “It’s why he’ll do it. Because he loves you too much. He would kill for you. He is not sane.”

  She kept on shaking her head. This wasn’t my mother. This wasn’t the strong and intelligent woman I had hoped to meet. Disappointment rolled through me, followed by the threat of tears.

  “Elena will only find Paegeia when she is sixteen. Jako will never speak to her about this world. He will die before telling her who she truly is.” This wasn’t exactly true, but it was close enough, and I didn’t have enough time for the long version. “She will never know that dragons even exist. Will never know who she is. Won’t even know that you are her mother,” I said through clenched teeth.

  Her head shot up at me.

  “She will grow up with no place to call home.” I forced gentleness back into my tone. “Is that the life you want for her?”

  “No.” She shook her head. Her voice broke. Her lower jaw trembled slightly. I didn’t know if she was answering my question, or if she still didn’t believe me, but she was breaking. She wanted to be reunited with me. I could see it in her eyes.

  “How do you know this? And don’t tell me you saw it.”

  “Fine,” I said. My mother was smarter than that.

  Elena, are you insane? I’d almost forgotten Blake was by my side in the intensity of my connection with my mother.

  “I know this, because it was my life, Mom.”

  She stared at me, mouth agape.

  Elena!

  I ign
ored Blake. “Blake developed his newest ability at the age of thirty. He can jump back in time. I chose to save you. Goran will kill you. I will grow up without a mother.” My emotions had taken a toll on me. I swiped at a tear that rolled down my cheek. “Daddy doesn’t believe us and won’t hear anything about it. He didn’t even let us finish, and now, now he is hunting us like animals.”

  Her entire face changed. She looked at me with disgust. I didn’t understand this.

  “You are not my daughter. Get out!”

  She knows what I look like? How?

  “Just wait,” I said quickly as I put it together. It was as if I could read her mind like I did with Blake. “We had to use an enchantment because of my resemblance to you and Daddy, and because of Blake’s,” I said, her arm still pointing at the door.

  Blake was a ball of nervous energy, practically bouncing on the balls of his feet. Elena, we don’t have time.

  “Please, just wait.” I spoke to both of them.

  Then the top of Blake’s head started to turn darker.

  “Look for yourself,” I said to my mother. She turned around and looked at him.

  She watched as the blonde guy changed drastically into a second Sir Robert, but with soft peacock eyes that could look straight into one’s soul.

  She stared at him, the hinge of her jaw hanging open. I could feel the enchantment wearing off me, too. She walked slowly toward Blake and cupped his face with both her hands, looking up at him. “This cannot be…”

  Blake smiled. “The last time you saw me, I was almost five years old. Playing with my cousin in your garden. You remember the bench. I finally understand your stares.”

  She started to cry in earnest.

  In my peripheral vision I saw my hair getting thicker and lighter. My true appearance had returned. She would see it for herself.

  “Mom,” I whispered.

  She looked at me. Her eyebrows shot up into the stratosphere. She gasped. Her hands cupped her mouth as she stared at me with wild eyes.

  And then she stopped staring and ran toward me, flinging her arms around my neck. She pulled me into the embrace I’d only felt once, that night Blake helped me to say goodbye.

  She sobbed. She finally believed me.

  “We can’t stay. Goran has a militia waiting on the North side. If you don’t do this, he will ruin my life. End yours. Destroy the people of Etan’s lives. Torture Daddy for years. They will believe you when you give them the location where they are stationed.”

 
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