Moonbeam, p.15Adrienne Woods
It was one of my mother’s best features and I loved that about her. She was the best shopper out there. If there was an award for it, well, Mom would have won it, hands down.
When we reached my room, Sammy asked, “So seriously, what was the fight about?”
I fell down on my bed. Why was he so angry at me? It was just a stupid song, and Phoebe…
“Because I played his song to Phoebe.”
Samantha gaped. “That was why he was growling the past few days.”
“Lame, I know.”
“It’s his darkness. He seriously becomes a pain in the ass.”
I laughed at the way she’d said it. Still, he didn’t seem that dark around me. He was still the Blake I knew. The Blake I’d grown up with.
“Want to go to the mall?”
“You sure Mommy Dearest is going to say yes?”
“No, I’m sure she will want to come with.” We both laughed.
“Okay, why not?”
We went to hunt my mother down. I found her in the library, playing the piano. We hovered outside uncertainly.
“You think it’s the right time?” Sammy asked me softly.
“I don’t know,” I said. Mom never played the piano unless something seriously haunted her.
“It’s fine,” Mom’s voice emerging from the library. Like I said, enhanced hearing “What is it?” She sounded friendly.
We both walked in and find her still sitting behind the piano. “You up for a shopping spree?”
“Not today, sweetheart.”
My face fell.
“But the two of you can go if you want.”
My jaw almost fell on the floor, and when I looked at Sammy, hers was there, too.
“Alone?” I asked.
Mom looked confused. “Sure, why not?”
“Thanks, Mom.” I kissed her on the cheek and moved to leave. She pulled my arm back.
“What was that for? Not that I didn’t love that kiss.”
“You said I could go to the mall…alone.”
“Goodness, Elena. You always make me feel as if I am the witch in the family.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Go.” She shook her head and returned to play the piano again, smiling.
Summer break was upon us. So was Elena’s thirteenth birthday.
Blake’s first year at Dragonia Academy was over.
They weren’t like kids who swore to be pen pals and never followed through. They wrote to each other regularly. Sure it was sweet, but I kept feeling that their bond was just growing too strong too fast. I felt that it was up to me to help slow it down.
I read one of his poems It was just about his day. Elena had spread it open on her desk.
I sneaked in most nights to watch her sleeping. I thought back to the night they’d come to warn me. When I’d turned around and found a much older version of my girl. What was that Elena’s life like? Was I ever going to meet her? Did a part of her even exist? I would always wonder about her.
The next day, I met Tanya and Maggie at the Ridgemont club.
“Why the long face?” Tanya asked me. Maggie hadn’t arrived yet.
“Just give it to me, please.”
“Blake is seventeen. She is thirteen. No seventeen-year-old would ever think a thirteen-year-old is awesome. And I promise you when the time comes, I’ll help you conjure up a great plan so they will never know we were behind it.”
I laughed. I loved my sister. I gave her an awkward hug. She was right. I should stop worrying about the future.
Maggie showed up. We changed the subject.
We greeted her with two kisses on each cheek, and then we started planning Elena’s thirteenth birthday.
In one hour, guests would start arriving for my thirteenth birthday party. I hadn’t seen Blake since he came back from Dragonia. Samantha had told me he’d changed a lot. It was the darkness in him. I’d never gotten that from reading the letters we exchanged by crow.
I loved how we sent post like in the old days.
If my mom knew about that, she would probably shoot down the crows and burn his letters.
Maybe I was just being paranoid. Mom wouldn’t do that. But she was playing her piano for the first time in a long, long while. Something was bothering her.
I found Dad nibbling hors d’oeuvres from one of the platters. I slapped his hand. “It’s for the guests, Dad.”
“There is plenty where this came from, sweet pea.”
I laughed and poured a glass of juice from the fridge.
I plunged onto the high chair of the oval island in the middle of our kitchen. Most of the servants were bustling in the great hall by now, but fragrant food smells lingered from all the party preparations.
Pluggs, the monkey Blake had bought me for Christmas, jumped onto my shoulder. I kissed him softly.
“Where have you been, Mr. Pluggs?” I asked softly.
“Samuel found him in the garden eating berries again. He was not happy about that, Elena.”
“Berries are his favorite. Samuel has the greenhouse if it’s such a problem, Dad.”
“There is no space.”
Then add on, like you did with my tree house. I didn’t say it aloud. “Besides, Pluggs is a monkey. Berries taste best when they are snatched from a grumpy old chef’s bushes.” I gave him a tiny piece of a sandwich that was on one of the platters and he took it in his nimble fingers.
“What? He won’t die. I’ve seen you feeding him plenty of crap before, and he lives.”
He shook his head.
I jutted my chin in the direction of the library. “So, why is she playing the piano again?” Maybe I could get the truth if I caught him off guard.
“Not she, Elena. Your mother,” my father corrected me. I rolled my eyes. “And I told you, your birthdays make her sad.”
“Sad, Dad, seriously?”
“You’re getting older, Elena. One of these days you will attend Dragonia and then she won’t have anyone. The castle is going to be so quiet.”
“It’s still three years from now.” I shook my head. “And I’m going to Dragonia, not the other side of the Wall.”
“Still, your mother is a sentimental human being and we love her for that.”
“Maybe you do,” I joked.
He gave me a stern look. “She loves you more than you will ever know. And one day when you are older, and wise enough to appreciate this story, I will tell you just what your mother did for you, Elena.”
Whoa, this is new. I squinted. “What did she do?”
“One day. You are way too young for this story.”
I scowled at him as he left the kitchen.
Still it made me curious, wanting to know what my mother had done. Would it explain how weird she was about some things? I had always known she was a kickass queen. She was the fifth person to make it out of the Secret Cavern, and the last. Not a lot of women had the guts to do that. I still didn’t know why she’d done it. She’d given me the lame excuse of wanting to know what I was going to look like one day. Yeah, right.
She also fought in the great war. On both sides. First on my grandfather Louie’s side as a man, because her father had been too sick to fight and her brother too small. She was, like, seventeen. They didn’t make women like that anymore! Then she’d fought at my father’s side; they had this insane fairytale story of how the two of them had met trying to free all the dragons and give them a voice. I treaded lightly with that side of them.
Their love story reminded me of a Mulan–Cinderella mashup. If it weren’t for my parents, it would probably not be so gross to think about. I was intrigued to know just what my mother had done for me that was so great, and why my father thought I was too young to appreciate it.
I poured another glass of juice and headed to the library.
Heartrending music streamed out of the room. I opened the door.
She seemed surprised to see me, and even more surprised
“I thought you would love a glass of juice.”
“Thanks, sweetheart, how kind,” Mom said.
“Mom, why do you play?”
She sighed, smiled, and tapped on her stool as she shifted over.
I hadn’t played with her in a long time. We started with Chopsticks. I wasn’t as talented as she was, but it was a fun tune. Then it stopped.
She looked at me. “I love you so much.” Tears—actual tears—glistened in her eyes.
I hugged her. “You’re scaring me.”
“I just don’t want you to grow old. I want you to stay my baby forever,” she murmured in the nape of my neck.
I could feel there was something more. “And?” I said.
She laughed, let me go, and wiped her tears away. “And the older you get, the more scared I am of your bond with Blake.”
I sighed, exasperated. “Mom, we are not Cooper and Merica. I know the stories. I can’t hear his freakin’ thoughts.”
“But you will.”
“One day, but not now. Seriously, he’s like my brother.”
“You think he will always stay your brother?”
I laughed dismissively. “You are worried about nothing.”
She smiled. I burst out laughing. This was so silly. “Eww,” I said. “Please stop playing. I’m sure aunty Tanya will be here any minute now.”
“She’s already here,” my mother said in that eerie way she had when she heard something impossibly quiet. The door opened. Tanya spotted my mom behind the piano and made a face, which made me laugh.
I got up. “Honestly, he’s like my brother,” I said to Tanya. I was sure she and Mom talked about everything. Like, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
“That is what I told her,” my godmother said. She gave me a kiss as I passed. “Jako is in the kitchen.”
“If he eats all my party food, I am going to kill him. Slowly.”
I rushed toward the kitchen to go and stop my godfather from devouring my guests’ food, leaving the two women chuckling in my wake.
I skidded to a stop. Blake and Jako stood in the kitchen together, picking at the platters.
I squealed and ran full-speed into Blake. He caught me. He almost never came home anymore. He said it was too much of a hassle, and that he preferred to stay at Dragonia over the weekends. I suspected it was more of a freedom thing than anything else.
“When did you arrive?” I asked.
“Just now. With Tanya and Jako.” He looked at me. “You grew.”
“Hello, mister,” my Mom’s voice said. Blake let go of me gently.
She smiled, and kissed him on the cheek. “How is Dragonia?”
“Busy. I am overpowered with girls who seriously…” He didn’t finish, but my mother cackled.
Poor guy. What a shame. I felt sorry for him. Girls always wanted a piece of the Rubicon.
“You want to see the ballroom?” Mom frowned at my overexcited tone.
“Sure. Show me the over-the-top thirteenth birthday party decorations,” he said in a playful tone. My mother slapped his arm with the back of her hand.
“You always were a wuss,” she joked.
Blake just laughed and followed me toward the ballroom. “She is friendly today.”
“Ugh,” I said, glancing back and hoping we were out of preternatural earshot. “You don’t know what her problem is?”
“Oh please, do tell.”
“Cooper and Merica.”
Blake roared with laughter. “No.”
“Yes, she thinks we are going to turn into them.”
“Eww. You’re like my sister.”
“Exactly what I said.”
We walked through the doors. Blake whistled. It made me laugh.
“It’s not that over the top. I love it.”
“Of course you would. You’re a spoiled brat.”
I punched him hard on the arm.
“What is it with you Malone women? Always hitting me.”
We walked through the tables, each with spindly lanterns that were waiting to be lit and transform the place.
Right at the front was my present table, and my table for the surprise cake Samuel had worked on.
I couldn’t wait to see what it was going to be this year.
Last year he’d made the Rubicon symbol. Blake had blushed crimson when he saw it. He carried it on his left shoulder, and the tail reached the middle of his arm. It was flaming hot. But that was where it stayed when it came to Blake. His sign was hotter than him.
Stiff and Revy were still busy setting the last tables.
“Welcome back, Blake,” Revy said with her dashing smile. I suppressed mine as he greeted her, apparently oblivious to how much he’d made her heart beat faster.
We took one of the side doors outside.
“So how does it feel to be thirteen?”
“Still the same as when I was twelve.”
Pluggs came out of nowhere and jumped on top of my head. “Mr. Pluggs,” Blake called to him and held out his arms. The monkey ran across his arms and went to sit on his shoulder.
Blake petted him affectionately. Pluggs was just as fond of Blake as I was. It was why I loved that monkey so much.
“It’s a miracle he is still alive.”
I gave an exaggerated gasp of horror. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“C’mon, Elena, with the way you always feed junk food to Felix and Shauna.” One was a Great Dane, the other a Persian cat.
“Haha.” I rolled my eyes as we made our way to the treehouse. It was our sanctuary. Once up there, Blake took out a packet of smokes and lit one.
We spoke about how insane everyone was, thinking we would somehow fall in love. They were so wrong. Their expectations were way too high. I was sorry for the big disappointment that awaited them. But we talked regularly about the claiming. It was going to be the first Royal claiming Paegeia had ever seen; we were the first generation who had grown up with dragons. They were already making a fuss about it, and it was still three years away.
Blake and I chatted about that, imagining what it was going to be like.
Then the conversation took a different turn.
“You were about one when I met you for the first time,” Blake said.
“One? How? Did they keep me hostage in my nursery?”
He laughed. “No, you lived with Tanya and Jako on the other side.”
Disbelieving, I stared at him. My mind whirred. “On the other side? Other side of what, Blake?”
“The Wall, Elena.”
Shock poured over my skin, rendering me motionless. “How?” Surprise filled my voice. “No human can go past the Wall.”
“Well, you did.”
“It was all hush-hush. Something Irene said. Then Tanya left. To be honest, none of us knew about your existence for an entire year.”
“Are you serious?” It started bothering me.
“That’s what I remember.” I knew he was telling the truth. Dragons could remember everything. Even the temperature of what their eggs were when their mothers incubated them. Blake would’ve told me if he knew more.
What were my parents hiding from me? Were they really my parents to begin with?
I was no dragon, so they probably were my parents, but getting past the Wall made absolutely no sense to me. Humans couldn’t go past the Wall. They just couldn’t. They would be incinerated the minute they tried. Even if they used transformation spells to look like a dragon. The Wall always knew.
“You should ask your mother, Elena. I don’t know the entire story.” He looked at me as if he could see how much this truly bothered me.
I shrugged uneasily. “I guess.”
We went down to the party, which was now in full swing. It was amazing. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had all my friends under one roof. I hated the fact that Lucian was
We’d grown up together. They were always at the castle with their parents whenever there was a meeting. Arianna, Princess of Areeth, was a year younger than Lucian and sort of the odd one out. She was fourteen and beautiful in a regal way, not a tomboy like me. She was more of a princess than I could ever hope to be.
Sammy was there. Lucian and the beautiful Desi, too. She was engaged now to a handsome guy who was about as normal as they could come. They’d gone to college together and at first, King Helmut hadn’t liked it very much, but Queen Maggie was crazy about him.
Sammy and I were also crazy about him. We loved Desi. The times she’d babysat, which were many, she disguised us and took us to the theme park or to the movies.
She was funny as hell, too, and one of my favorite people in the world.
“Thirteen,” she said. “Elena, where does the time go?”
I just laughed and gave her a hug. I indicated her fiancé. “He is hot.”
She laughed. “Yeah, not too shabby.”
I hadn’t been at her extravagant engagement party. My mother had forced me to stay at home with my nanny. Not that she was really my nanny. Mom never liked nannies. She said she wanted me to know who her mother was, and not think that my mother was some old woman, like the way my father had been raised.
I’d never met my father’s nanny, though I knew she was a dragon, twelve thousand years old, and had raised three kings. When she celebrated her twelve-thousandth birthday, Dad threw one heck of a party, and she’d died a week later.
Someone tinkled silverware against a crystal goblet. Time for my mother’s speech—though these were always finished by Tanya since my mom always started crying.
Then Samuel revealed his birthday cake. We all gasped. It was in the image of the Sacred Cavern. One of my favorite places inside Paegeia.
He’d copied it rock for rock, step by step. He even did all the cracks in the steps.
The candle was the Keeper. Mom told me once about him. He was a hulking giant. He’d breathed the mark onto her wrist after she’d written her name inside the book with her blood. I loved all the stories about the place. Although I’d begged and begged her to tell me what was inside, she never would. She proclaimed that she would die if she ever told anyone what was inside that cave.
Moonbeam by Adrienne Woods / Fantasy / Young Adult have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes