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       Frostbite, p.13

           Adrienne Woods

  I was asked a couple of times by guys to dance, but I feared for their lives and toes, so I declined.

  Blake vanished with Tabitha into thin air after a couple of hours and I couldn’t help but think about him, a lot. He saved me and then he gave me that compliment. Not to mention his eyes checking me out. Something he’d said that night we’d almost kissed for the first time jumped into my head. He was as drunk as a skunk, but I couldn’t help but wonder if it was really just the booze or had he been telling the truth.

  Was him hating me all a big act?

  Then why would he ask me not to fall in love with him?

  Nothing about him made any sense, but that was Blake. Always luring people in and pushing them away whenever they got too close.

  “May I have this dance?”

  Speak of the devil and you step on his tail.

  I looked past him. “You sure it’s safe? I don’t want to get a frost ball thrown at my head.”

  He chuckled. “You have frost balls too, Elena.”

  “I’m not a good dancer, and I fear for your toes.”

  “Ahhh, there is the right concern. My toes will be fine, and I happen to be a terrific dancer.”

  I gave him a raised eyebrow. “You?”

  “If you tell anyone, you know what I’ll have to do.”

  I gave him my hand. “Fine, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.” I pushed myself up off the chair and the first step I took made me want to tumble again.

  Luckily Blake caught me, again.

  I regained my balance and struggled to suppress my laughter. When I saw him with closed eyes and a huge grin, shaking softly with laughter, I laughed too.

  “This is going to be a nightmare,” I whispered.

  “It’s going to be fine.”

  “Everyone is staring at us,” I whispered as I saw everyone’s faces on us again.

  “Can you blame them? You seriously look hot.”

  “Seriously? That’s like the best word you could come up with?”

  I grabbed his arm again as my shoe slid and we both laughed.

  “Okay, I can foresee this too now. It’s going to be a miracle if we get through this one dance,” he said as we reached the dance floor, and then put his hand gently on my waist, pulling me closer to him. “Just take small steps.”

  “In what direction?” I asked him as I stepped on his feet.

  He cringed. “Not that direction.”

  “Sorry.” I laughed again.

  He lifted me up gently and lowered both my feet onto his.

  I started to laugh again. “You seriously going to do the side stepping for both of us?”

  “It’s the only way for us both to get through this alive. Part Moon-Bolt, remember?”

  “Oh, how could I forget?”

  He chuckled again.

  The dance ended way too soon, and he showed himself to be someone I never thought I would associate with Blake Leaf. He was through and through a gentlemen. He said good night with a soft bow of his head and disappeared.

  I decided to take off my shoes right then and there and go back to the table, but the DJ started playing an up-beat tune and Becky pulled me straight back. With my shoes in one hand and my other lifting up my dress slightly so I wouldn’t step on the hem, I bounced up and down, just enjoying the rest of the night.

  HE NEXT MORNING we slept late. We’d hardly had the strength to get out of our clothes and just fell on our beds already asleep. My dreams were peaceful. I didn’t hear the clucking sound of the Elementals, the cannons or even dream about the queen. There was nothing, just a black darkness with no sound.

  Sammy got us each a cup of coffee from the cafeteria and I struggled really hard to ignore their stares.

  “For crying out loud, what is it?” I asked and started to laugh.

  “What’s up with you and you-know-who?” Becky asked.

  I gave her a skeptical look. “You sure you’ve never read Harry Potter?”

  “Don’t change the subject, Elena.”

  I giggled again. “Nothing. I told you he was different with me.”

  “You can say that again,” Sammy said with a smirk on her face.

  “C’mon you guys. It’s not like that. We’re the same species, that’s all.”

  “Yeah, sure,” Becky joked.

  “Whatever you say, Elena,” Sammy seconded and I couldn’t help but laugh.

  I got out of bed. “I’m going to take a shower, and hopefully when I get out, this will be forgotten.”

  “Ah-huh,” Becky said and I shook my head, but for some reason I couldn’t stop smiling.

  The weekend went fast and I didn’t start to show Psycho Elena symptoms until late Sunday night. Supper helped as Blake was only sitting two tables from us. I didn’t want to make a big fuss about Friday night, scared that he might just go and cancel Monday’s training.

  Monday afternoon couldn’t come soon enough and for some reason he drilled me harder than all the other days, but Cara was stronger now and I could handle more.

  Around four, it was time to go back as Blake still had to coach his Warbel team.

  “Can I ask you something?” he said while I was still in my dragon form.

  “If you must.”

  He laughed. “Don’t hate me because I’m trying to help you.”

  “Seriously. You should make up your mind. Don’t love me, don’t hate me.”

  He smiled.

  “So what do you want to ask me?”

  He’d already changed and had his robe on. He was sitting a couple of paces next to my humungous body. He didn’t answer.

  “Is it stupid?” Cara asked.

  “Probably,” he replied.

  “Fine, I’ll laugh later, what is it?”

  He kept quiet for a while and I just stared at him waiting for him to carry on. He chuckled nervously and I could feel Cara rolling her huge dragon eyes.

  “Just spit it out, Blake.”

  “Fine,” he said. “I always wondered why Lucian desperately wanted to ride me and I was wondering if you would show me.”

  We both looked at him as if he was crazy. “What do you…oh…” Cara sent me a picture of Blake riding on my back in his human form. “Seriously?”

  “Yeah, I really want to know how it feels. Find out what the big fuss is about.”

  We both started to laugh. “Fine, hop on.” I never thought in a million years that I would say those words to Blake.

  A flashed image played through my mind of Cara twirling and flying like a dragon out of control. I chuckled at the image of Blake desperately clinging on to my back. “Go for it, this is going to be so much fun,” I replied silently to Cara.

  “Oooh, yay,” she thought back, and lay down for Blake to climb onto my back. I hardly felt him, but when he twirled two of my catfish-like whiskers in his hands, I could feel a stabbing pain.

  “Easy, tiger. That is actually attached to me,” Cara said and I could hear Blake chuckling. The grip became softer and Cara took over. She ran off the mountain and dove straight down to the ground. The earth came closer and I could hear excitement coming from Blake. He was so much like Lucian.

  Then Cara pushed us into the air and we climbed the sky. Blake was still on my back.

  “You ready, Sugar?” she thought.

  “Go for it.”

  She twirled into the air like a dart, did a couple of dives and flew faster than she ever had before. I closed my eyes and felt the wind beneath my wings and on my face. I could still see where I was going because of Cara.

  Blake loved every moment of it. “More!”

  Cara grunted. “This guy seriously isn’t going to let go.”

  “That’s so typical Blake.”

  She laughed and tried harder to get him off our back. He didn’t flail one bit and she decided to give up. We took him to the spot we found the night before Nicole tried to claim me.

  “Where are we going?” Blake yelled.

  “Just wait and see,” I sa
id back and took a huge left toward the mountain. I’d flown it only once, but it was as if the direction to that beautiful place was imprinted inside my veins, just like Cara said. A couple of miles to the south and the mountain came near. I didn’t land with a thud anymore, it was graceful and when I was back on solid ground I wanted to lie down, so that Blake could climb off easily, but found him in crouching position right next to me. He tapped the side of my face gently.

  Cara took us to the trees and found the biggest one she could for me to turn back into my human form.

  “Speak to you later,” I said.

  “Always, Sugar. Enjoy.”

  “It’s not like that.”

  “Whatever, honey.”

  I laughed. I couldn’t hide anything from her. No matter how hard I tried. She was inside of me and part of me, and she would always know my deepest secrets.

  It took not even a full minute before I was back inside my human skin. I pulled on the robe and found Blake sitting on the bench with his knees under his chin.

  I sat down with him and for a long time we just stared at the waterfall.

  “It really is a beautiful place, how did you find it?”

  “Don’t know. It was the night before Nicole tried to claim me. I couldn’t sleep and I had to find a way to clear my mind.”

  “I like it.”

  “That’s why I brought you here, idiot.” I bumped him softly.

  He smiled.

  It was quiet for a couple of minutes. We just looked at the ducks and swans swimming in the opposite direction to the waterfall.

  “I’m going to take a swim.” Blake jumped up. He bent down before me with both his hands leaning on the bench right next to my sides. His face came really close and I thought this was it, it has to be.

  “Join me.” He raised his eyes once and ran toward the waterfall.

  I closed my eyes as he took off his robe. What was he doing to me? He’d made it so clear that first day not to fall in love with him and here I was, lost and head over ass.

  I breathed out like a horse and shook my head softly. For some reason I couldn’t stop grinning. I followed him to the waterfall and saw how he came up and shook his hair out of his face. My eyes rested on his big shoulders, and muscular arms. The sign of the Rubicon was inked into his skin. Why did God have to make them so beautiful?

  He found my eyes and I looked away. “C’mon Elena, the water is perfect.”

  “I’m not getting in there.”

  “You still have a thing about naked bodies?”

  I gave him a sarcastic, raised eyebrow stare. “Do your thing so we can go home.”

  “No, come have a swim. Otherwise I’ll get out and come and fetch you myself.”

  I jumped up. “Okay, fine.”

  He laughed and turned his back to me. I quickly took off my robe and climbed into the lake. It was cold and I had to suck for breath. “I thought you said it was warm. It’s freezing.”

  “Oh, c’mon. It’s not that cold. Just swim around it will get warm in a minute.”

  I dove down into the water and the closer I got to where he stood the warmer the water’s temperature got. It must be a dragon thing, but then again, I was a dragon too. So it must be a Blake thing.

  I came up inches from him and was thankful that the water wasn’t that clear, but still I hugged my body tightly, scared that he would see my features.

  He just shook his head.

  I splashed him with water which he didn’t expect, and did it a couple of times again.

  He laughed as his hands tried to block some of it, and my heart started to pound as he made his way toward me. I let out a yell and started to swim away, but he caught my ankle and pulled me closer.

  The last time someone did that to me, it’d turned into a kiss, but Blake wasn’t Lucian. He dunked my head under the water.

  We played around for a while before we both swam to the edge. When I tried to get out he pulled me back in.

  I stared at him and found his eyes closed, all the playfulness was gone and something else lingered on his face which I never thought I would see. He was sad and scared. He looked as if he was in some sort of pain. “Are you okay?”

  He shook his head and opened his eyes. Peacock-blue irises stared back at me. My stomach flipped and my heart felt as if it was inside my throat.

  How could one guy’s look do that to a person?

  He came closer and I did the same. I closed my eyes and could feel his soft warm breath on my skin. My hand rested softly on his chest and it felt warm. I opened my eyes and found his lips and nose inches away from mine, then he grunted and pulled himself out of the lake.

  A feeling so tense jolted through my body. I didn’t know what it was. It was a sadness mixed with anger, why was he doing this?

  I climbed out after him and felt as if I was going to breathe fire. “What, I’m not good enough for you, is that it?” The words just came out. They sounded harsh and for a second I wished I’d never said anything.

  He turned around and a huge crease pulled both his eyebrows together.

  “It’s like I can’t even count how many times that happens, Blake. What are you trying to do?”

  “Nothing, Elena. It’s stupid and I shouldn’t have done that.”

  “I don’t get you. Surely you can see being with me makes you sort of calm and normal, Blake. Why are you fighting this? Lucian is dead, he’s never coming back.”

  “It’s not about Lucian.”

  “Then what?”

  “I’m turning evil, Elena. I can’t do this.”

  “You won’t as long as we are together,” I yelled, as if me raising my voice might get through to him. “Can’t you feel that?”

  “Feel what?”

  “You’re different when you’re here, with me. Hell I feel that even. I feel funny when I don’t spend time with you every day.”

  “In what way?” He frowned and his tone sounded surprised.

  “Like the dark becomes too much, but the minute you’re near, it goes away. C’mon Blake I know you feel it too.”

  He shook his head. “I don’t, Elena.”

  I swallowed hard.

  “The dark is getting stronger. I will turn, no one is going to claim me.”

  “You can’t say that.”

  “Yes, I can!” The old Blake started to make his appearance again.

  I shook my head and stared at the ground.

  “I think it’s time to tell you why I’m helping you.”

  I looked at him.

  “You ever wondered how Paul found those Elementals so fast?”

  “Yeah, he said that danger was coming, but instead it was already upon us.”

  “He’s right, but it wasn’t in the form of the hippogriff or him. It’s me.”

  “Blake!” I stroked my face hard.

  “Don’t Elena. Am I the only one that can see this?” He sounded angry, even a bit defeated. “When the Elementals vanished with him, you turned. It didn’t make much sense, but when you started turning into a Rubicon, putting two and two together was easy.”

  “What does me becoming a Rubicon have to do with anything?”

  “I trained you for a reason.”

  “And what reason is that?”

  “So when I turn you can kill me!”

  HE EARTH AND everything around me felt as if it was being pulled from under me. “Are you insane? I’m not going to kill you.”

  “You have no choice Elena. I don’t want to destroy my home, or the people I care for. The Rubicon doesn’t give a shit about any of them. When he fully takes control of me, I will no longer be. It will only be him.” Tears glistened in his eyes. “I don’t want to belong to Goran.”

  “He’s trapped behind Etan.”

  “And I would find a way to free him. I’m sure you know more or less what it is our blood contains.”

  I nodded.|

  “Believe me, I would do anything to free him from Etan,” he said softly. He lifted his head
and stared at me with those peacock-blues. “That can never happen. We will destroy this world.”

  We just stared at one another for a short while. His eyes were filled with begging. My mind searched desperately for other ways than me killing him. “There has to be another way, someone will claim you.”

  “No one is going to claim me!” He took a huge breath and closed his eyes to calm down. “I made peace with that, you have to promise me…”

  My hand struck his face. “NO! I WILL NOT KILL YOU. I LOVE YOU.”

  His eyes flew open and the look in them changed from begging, soft, to hard and angry. I felt regret for finally admitting it, but I decided not to take it back. I did love him, the part that was kind and the part that was fighting to hold on, fighting to stay good.

  “I told you not to fall in love with me. I specifically said that the first time we started with this.” He spoke through a clenched jaw.

  “Well you didn’t make it easy for me, Blake.”

  “I was being nice, Elena.”

  “Oh and those almost couple of kisses we shared?” A small sarcastic laugh escaped my lips.

  “I was being me. Nothing strange about that.”

  I struggled to swallow as he said that. “So what, you don’t feel anything for me?”

  “NO! I don’t. You are not a match against Tabitha.”

  That struck me hard. Tabitha hadn’t been mentioned for such a long time. I took a deep breath and realized that both of us were still naked.

  I darted past him and fetched my robe, pulled it over my head and just stood there. I could still feel his presence behind me.

  “Elena, I told you…”

  “Yeah, I know. Don’t worry about that.”

  “You’ve got to promise me.”

  “I can’t do that. You might not feel the same about me, but I do care for you Blake. I can’t.”

  I ran past him and pulled off my robe. I struggled to see the edge and realized that the tears had finally come. I didn’t understand it. He was so mean and had just rejected me, why now! I wiped them away and pushed myself off the mountain.

  Cara came out immediately and it only took a second for her to realize that something wasn’t right. I could hear her gasp as I thought about everything he’d told me, and she took over the flight.

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