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       Frostbite, p.12

           Adrienne Woods

  “You are the best,” I said and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

  “I know, I’ll be here all week.”

  She guided me to the bed and for the next couple of hours we tried on dresses with all the undergarments and corsets. It took about half an hour just to get in and out of one, but it was the most fun I’d had in a long time. I’d gotten lucky with a dress that transformed me into some type of frost princess. It was gorgeous. It snugged my torso beautifully, even pushed up my breasts and showed a bit of cleavage, but not the slutty kind.

  The fabric reminded me of snowflakes, and the bottom of my white dress fanned out in a beautiful ice-blue color.

  “Elena, that dress was made just for you,” Sammy said with admiration.

  “I love this. It is gorgeous.” I looked at my figure in the mirror and then at Becky. “Where did you get these dresses?”

  “Mom dropped them off about an hour ago. She’s been in Elm for the past couple of days shopping for the ball and everything. She even said she will make our masks, if we decide on the dresses.”

  “Elena is going to be the snow queen.”

  “I should really try to harness my frost.”

  “Tabitha is not going to like that.”

  “Screw Tabitha. She’s not the only frost princess in town,” I said with a twinge of jealousy in my tone.

  The girls laughed.

  Blake popped into my mind. I wondered if he would even be there. Maybe he was one of those guys that didn’t even like dances, that would be a shame.

  I crawled into bed thinking about the ball and really started to wonder if Blake had some sort of a link with me. If he could hear and see what I was thinking. That would be just my luck.

  I closed my eyes and in a couple of seconds I started dreaming about dresses and knights hiding behind different masks.

  HE NEXT DAY I saw all the banners about the Testrial ball. Maybe a ball was exactly what I needed. To just enjoy myself with Becky and Sammy. Then Dean and George popped into the picture too, and although I’d gotten really close to both of them, in a brotherly kind of way, I still felt like the odd one out.

  I met Blake on the mountain, but we had to cut it short on the Thursday because Becky had gotten permission to go and meet Lucille to pick up our masks.

  “Elena it’s just a ball.”

  “I don’t care. I’m sick and tired of practicing how to be a Rubicon. Arianna’s threats have to wait for now.” I walked behind the tree to shift back into my dragon figure. “Let me guess, you don’t like dances and dress-up?”

  “Is that even a question?” he asked and I giggled.

  “So I’ll take that as a no.” I stepped out from behind the tree.

  He just chuckled. “So, I’ll meet you here tomorrow?”

  I shook my huge dragon head. “Nope, I have to get ready for the ball.”


  “One day is not going to make me worse. I need a break. Go do something with Tabitha, you guys are still together, right?” I couldn’t believe I’d just asked him that.

  “Yes,” he said in a sarcastic tone.

  “There you go, see you on Monday,” I said and dove off the cliff.

  “See what I mean?” Cara said.

  “It’s not like that.”

  “Yeah right. That boy feels exactly the same way about you as you do about him.”

  “You haven’t met Tabitha yet.”

  “I don’t need to.”

  I giggled at Cara’s comment. She sure knew how to make someone feel special and I was glad that she was a part of me.

  At three the tram stopped right in front of the Bayside Inn where we’d stayed a couple of months back for the King of Lion’s revealing.

  Lucille had been living in one of the suites for the past week.

  When she opened the door, I received a big embrace and a kiss on the cheek. Sammy and Becky were next.

  “So, where are the masks?”

  “Patience,” Lucille answered her daughter and led us into the small lounge area that was right in the middle of the gigantic suite.

  She disappeared into another room while Becky made us some coffee.

  Lucille carried three boxes and placed them gently on the table. Becky thrust our cups into our hands and went for the boxes.

  Her mother just stared at her with a slight twitch, tucking in the corner of her mouth.

  Sammy and I went closer to see what the masks in Becky’s hand looked like.

  “Mom, these are gorgeous. Did you kill a swan for these?”

  Lucille laughed. “They are fake feathers Becky. I know a thing or two about making masks.”

  She handed Becky the one that went with the green dress she was going to wear. The texture of the mask felt soft, with huge green feathers around the eyes. It was really stunning. It even had a bit of a green shine if the light reflected on it at just the right angle.

  The yellow dress had a yellow sequin mask to match and I never knew masks could be so beautiful. There were yellow feathers too, but not as many as the first mask.

  Then Becky took out the mask that went with my dress. It was pure white, and Lucille had used a sparkling white fabric to cover it. It really looked like it was made of frost.

  “I love it, it’s gorgeous, Lucille.”

  Lucille shrugged her shoulders and had a huge smile plastered on her face. “I’m glad you girls love them. I can’t wait to see what you are going to look like tomorrow.”

  We put the masks back into their boxes and placed them gently on top of one another.

  “So how are things going at school?” She looked straight at me.

  “You mean how am I dealing with being a dragon?”

  She gave me a soft yet concerned look.

  “I’m fine. I got over a lot of things, things I never thought I would and it’s all thanks to …my dragon form.” I wanted to say Cara, but I knew I would get funny stares from Lucille and I really didn’t want her to worry about me any more than she already did. I was fine.

  “Then I’m glad.” She smiled. “I know it couldn’t have been easy for you. I was shocked when Becky told me that you turned, and into a Rubicon. I have to admit it’s still a bit confusing on so many levels.” She looked at me and shook her head. “Forgive me, I’m babbling way too much again.”

  “Not at all,” I said just as I put the coffee mug to my lips.

  We enjoyed the afternoon with Lucille, she even got pizzas brought up to the room and we ate until it was time to go.

  “So, we’ll see you tomorrow at two?” Becky said as she hugged her mom.

  “I’ll be there five minutes before two.” Lucille wrinkled her nose at her daughter.

  “Thanks for the pizza,” Sammy gave her a hug after Becky.

  “You are welcome.”

  I was last. “Thanks for the beautiful masks. They are really something.”

  “I’m glad you love them. I can’t wait to see you girls tomorrow in all your glory.”

  “Okay,” Becky broke our hug. “It’s time to go. I don’t want to be late or make Master Longwei mad and decide to ban us from the ball.”

  “Drama Queen,” her mother mumbled.

  “Love you,” Becky yelled as we ran down the corridor to the elevator.

  “Love you back.”

  The tram ride back to the Academy went fast but only because we couldn’t stop babbling about how beautiful the masks were. We tried them on in our room and I had to say, they were all uniquely stunning. I really couldn’t wait for tomorrow to come.

  I struggled to fall asleep that night and when I did, I dreamt about the twenty cannon shots and the crazy, wailing, clucking sound of baby Elementals. I woke up in a cold sweat as the pain of Cara stirring inside of me felt real. It disappeared the minute I realized I was inside my bed and safe. I glanced over at the other beds and found two heaps covered with blankets, sleeping soundly.

  My head hit the pillow hard as I just stared at the top of my posted bed.
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  When was I going to get rid of all these stupid dreams? I knew my answer was as soon as I spoke to someone about what had happened, but I couldn’t. I didn’t trust anyone, and Blake was already helping me with so much. He also had a lot to deal with himself, and I couldn’t burden him with more Elena crap.

  I stayed awake until Becky’s alarm clock went off and I couldn’t wait for the school day to just be over and done with, then it will be the time for the ball.

  Classes were boring as everyone around us talked about masks, tiaras and hair appointments in Elm this afternoon. That was why Lucille was coming to help us get ready.

  For the past two days, we weren’t allowed to go down to the Coliseum or Parthenon dome as Master Longwei had gotten a company to come and set up for tonight’s ball.

  None of us had any idea of what it would look like tonight, as it was a huge surprise and guarded twenty-four-seven by people from the company.

  At night the site was protected by an invisibility spell, so we couldn’t even peek.

  In history class we had a break and everyone began talking about the balls King Albert’s mom used to hosts. It was why Dragonia Academy had a masked ball every year. We hung onto the Professor’s every word as she gave us a history lesson, one that wasn’t boring, but reminded me a lot of Cheng’s lessons.

  I really missed him a lot.

  I closed my eyes and pushed myself back into the story about the queen’s dances she’d held on a regular basis, which, I might add, King Albert hated. We all laughed at that part.

  At two Sammy and I ran back to our room. The hallways were crowded with students trying to get to the lobby and down to Elm. I was grateful that we would get ready in our room.

  We found Lucille with a table with snacks inside. Our dresses lay beautifully on each bed with the masks and shoes.

  I cringed when I saw high heels.

  “Elena, you have to get used to them, seriously.” Becky rolled her eyes.

  “I’m going to break—”

  “No you are not,” Lucille said. “They go beautifully with that dress and it’s a dress that doesn’t go well with pumps, now go get your butt into that shower.”

  I did what she said and when I got out, Sammy slipped in after me.

  Getting into the dress took up half an hour all by itself. Lucille put up a fight with the corset and I felt as if I was never going to breathe again. I just hoped my gills wouldn’t come out to help with breathing tonight. It would ruin the picture completely.

  The frost dress with the ice blue skirt was an absolutely stunning picture. Lucille used plenty of whites on my eyes and used some sort of glue and applied small white stones at the side of my lids to make them stand out. My hair was taken up with curls hanging loose over my shoulders. When I was done, Becky was next. She bitched and complained when Lucille pulled the corset tight.

  “It’s painful to be beautiful, suck it up,” Lucille said and pulled the strings tighter.

  “Does it have to be this tight? I can hardly breathe,” she said as her mother tied the laces together. Sammy just shook her head and I giggled softly.

  Becky’s dress was absolutely beautiful. It was green and went perfectly with her swan mask, as she’d dubbed it.

  Her hair was taken up into a French roll and her mother did an amazing job with her eyes. They stood out and the picture was a mixture between fairy tale and Goth, which was so Becky.

  Sammy had the yellow dress. She sucked it up like Lucille had told Becky and when her dress was on, Lucille took a small break. We had a couple of snacks and some champagne. Becky’s mom was the coolest ever.

  After our break it was time for Sammy’s hair, and when she was done, Lucille helped us with our masks.

  The picture in the mirror of three princess-like figures wearing masks was breathtakingly beautiful. Lucille took a couple of pictures and we jumped at a hard knock on the door.

  Becky slipped into her high heels, pulled the dress slightly up and went to open the door for who I could only assume would be George and Dean.

  “Wow!” George said and threw his arms around Becky.

  “I’m in here too, mister,” Lucille said which made us laugh.

  “Sorry, Lucille, thanks for the heads up.”

  Lucille shook her head softly and gasped as George and Dean entered. They looked absolutely stunning in some sort of tuxedo, but the jackets weren’t traditional, they were something completely different, something that reminded me of fairy princes.

  “No wings?” it slipped out, and Lucille and Sammy laughed.

  Dean just gaped when he saw Sammy and she twirled. “You like?”

  “You look absolutely breathtakingly beautiful.”

  An ache tugged at my heart again, thinking how Lucian wasn’t here to see any of this.

  “Wow, Elena. Ice Queen.”

  I laughed. “I had to put something on that was going to fit me, don’t you think?”

  He smiled gently and gave me a hug. “You are far from an Ice Queen.”

  “Thanks, Dean.”

  “Picture time,” Lucille said again and we all huddled together.

  Before she took the picture she squinted at me and her eyes ran down my dress. “Where are your shoes, missy?”

  My face fell. “Do I have to?”

  “Elena, put on your shoes,” Becky said in a not-so-impressed tone.

  “Fine,” I grunted and walked to my bed, struggling to bend down in order to get them.

  “Let me,” Lucille said as she crouched to get my shoes from under my bed. She gave me a surprised look. “Were you seriously going to go without shoes?”

  “A girl’s got to try.”

  She laughed. “Give me your foot,” she said and I lifted up my dress and felt like some sort of deranged Cinderella with Lucille putting them on.

  “That picture does not look right,” George joked and I could hear Becky slapping him.

  “You want to say I can’t be a Prince Charming?” Lucille bit back.

  “No, that hadn’t crossed my mind at all.”

  We all laughed.

  I was like a head taller when she was done and almost pulled Sammy down with me as I reached her and lost my balance. Dean helped us regain our balance.

  “I’m seriously going to break my neck tonight.”

  “It’s going to be okay.” She then looked at Dean. “I’m going to need your help with this one tonight.”

  He laughed. “Your wish is my command lady.”

  Sammy giggled and gave him a soft kiss on the lips.

  “Okay, seriously we should take these pictures and move on otherwise we’re going to miss our entry,” the Drama Queen complained again.

  “Haven’t I taught you anything? It’s the last entry that gets the most stares, Sweetheart. There’s plenty of time for pictures, trust me.”

  Lucille took about a gazillion pictures of all of us and then we had a glass of champagne.

  She came down with us as she said she wasn’t going to miss our entry for anything. At least she was there to help me get down the stairs in one piece and without breaking my ankles. I had to admit, the shoes were to-die-for but I hated feeling like a duck, unstable on my own two feet.

  Some of the stray students all stared at us as we made our way across the yard and down another gazillion steps that led to the area where they’d set up for tonight. We all gasped in unison as a huge marquis tent with a gazillion small lights welcomed us. There was a huge stage set up with a band and a disco ball hung from the ceiling.

  “Is your brother going to play tonight?”

  “Hell knows, you spend more time with him lately. Thought you would know.”

  “He didn’t mention anything to me. By the look on his face when I mentioned all of this, I would say he hates every moment of it.”

  She giggled. “Sounds just like him.”

  We said goodbye to Lucille at the door. She even had tears glistening in her eyes as if this was our prom or something.<
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  We found our table where we were going to have a small dinner served by hired staff.

  I felt a bit uncomfortable as a thousand masks stared our way and I prayed that I wouldn’t fall flat on my face.

  Dean and Sammy were a couple of spaces in front of me as they got distracted by the beautiful décor around them.

  Please don’t fall, I prayed softly. As I tried to stay upright I didn’t see a chair moving right in front of me and when I bumped into it, I was flailing arms trying not to lose my balance. As I tried to stay upright I could feel the sole of my shoe sliding on the floor and I knew it wasn’t going to help as I felt my entire body tumbling backward.

  Oh crap! I gave up and just let the fall take its course. I closed my eyes and felt a pair of arms catching me right before I hit the ground. I grabbed whoever was my savior around the collar and when he laughed I knew the idiot had lied about this not being his thing.

  “I thought heights were your only fear?”

  I couldn’t help but giggle. “High heels seem to be the new one.”

  He chuckled and helped me up.

  “Thanks, you don’t know the humiliation you just saved me from.”

  “Elena, the way you look tonight, I doubt anything you do would lead to humiliation.”

  I gasped. “Was that an actual compliment?”

  “Hey, I still know how to give those. Besides, you really look different.” His eyes scrolled down my body.

  “You are so not checking me out,” I whispered. “Go, before Tabitha gets a hernia or something.”

  “You sure you’re going to make it to your table?”

  Dean’s laughter interrupted our conversation.

  “I’ve got her,” he said.

  “Like the mask, Dean.”

  “Yeah, well your sister made me.”

  “Be safe, Elena,” he said as he walked away.

  “Thanks,” I said to Dean.

  “For what, I wasn’t even close when you almost hit the floor.”

  I giggled. “For rescuing me.”

  “You didn’t look like you wanted to be rescued.”

  I slapped him playfully and thanked the heavens I’d made it to our table in one piece.

  HE ENTIRE NIGHT went by so fast. We had a beautiful dinner with light music. Master Longwei said not much more than a couple of words and then the party started.

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