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       Firebolt, p.18

           Adrienne Woods
 
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  “Becky, Master Longwei wants to see us in his office.” George came out of nowhere, interrupting me.

  She jumped up, did a quick happy dance, and ran off with him in the direction of the head master’s office.

  “I think her saddle just arrived,” Sammy whispered, and I tried to look happy.

  “You really should try to make amends, Elena.”

  The bell rang before I could tell her to butt out of my business, and I slumped to class.

  The day went really fast as I pondered what both of them had said.

  Maybe I should try to say I'm sorry. Heaven knows I need his help to master war skills if I want to pass. Not to mention how much I miss him.

  I found Lucian at lunch and decided to suck it up and apologize.

  “Lucian. I'm sorry about what I said. I don't want to fight with you anymore,” I sulked, hoping it would be enough for him to forget it. It wasn't easy to say those words. Dad was always the one apologizing. Now that I thoughtabout it, he didn’t have a reason to be sorry at all. “If King Albert claimed a Night Villain, then you could claim the Rubicon,” I said, knowing it was what he wanted to hear.

  It was a lie.

  I didn't believe that he could,but I didn’t want him to think I doubted him.

  “Sorry too, Sweetheart,”he said, and pulled me down to sit on the pillow beside him.“I shouldn't have lost my temper like that. I wanted to apologize so many times, but every time I saw you, you looked so upset. It's not very knightly at all to fight with a damsel in distress.”

  I giggled and he cupped my face, kissing the tip of my nose.

  “Well hopefully, I won't be one anymore in a month's time,” I said.

  He smiled. “I still wanted to ask you how your first Latin lesson went.”

  I curled my lip.“You mean what kind of a teacher your buddy is,” I whispered. “He's a maniac when it comes to Latin.

  He gets a hernia every single time I pronounce one word wrong.”

  He grinned. “Latin is like sex to Blake. It has to be perfect.”

  “Way too much information.” I blushed and tried to hide my face.

  Lucian roared with laughter. "Don't do that. I think I just found my new favorite feature of yours," he teased, and kissed my red cheeks.

  “Don't. It's stupid.” I giggled as he kept on kissing me playfully.

  “So what, you blush every time someone says sex.”

  I blushed again, which made him laugh more.

  “Stop that,” I mumbled.

  He rested his chin on my shoulder and looked at me through his thick eyelashes, burning his blue eyes into my soul.

  “Blake will warm up to you, Elena. He's not the bad guy here.”

  “If you tell me he's just confused, I'll kick you,” I threatened.

  He just chuckled.

  “I'm sure I can fail one subject,” I said hopefully.

  “Latin's not one of those subjects,” he said. “You need to speak at least fifty percent by the end of the year.”

  I wanted to scream but bit my tongue. “I don’t want to speak stupid Latin.”

  “Sweetheart, everything's connected to Latin. I'm afraid you have no choice.” He played with a strand of my hair and placed it back behind my ear.

  “Whatever,” I sulked.

  He smiled and shook his head. He looked past me, narrowing his eyes at someone. I turned to see who had captured his attention.

  I giggled as I saw Brian waving at me. He had no sense of self-preservation and didn't even care that he was flirting with me in front of Lucian.

  “You're not the only one driving me nuts,” he said through gritted teeth.

  I gasped. “You have a thing for Brian too?”

  “Ha ha, funny,” he said, and a smile appeared over his face.

  “Why do you worry about Brian?”

  “Why do you think, Elena? The guy has a lot to offer, and it's wrong on so many levels for me to think that, not to mention saying it out loud.”

  I laughed. “You're so cute when you're jealous.” I snickered, and he laughed too. Grabbing his jaw, I turned his head to look at me. “I only have eyes for you, Lucian McKenzie.” I kissed him softly. The bell rang but I was a million miles away.

  Chapter Twenty

  We said goodbye with a kiss in front of my Arithmetic class. It was a brutal hour, but I raced from the room as fast as I could to make it to Art of War.

  I showed up early but couldn't claim my sword, because Tracey was swinging it in her left hand, the way professor Mia had that first day. Collin beat me again, and when I slouched to the cupboard to put my sword back, my eye caught on two small axes pushed to the back. It gave me an idea; I was sure Lucian knew how to fight with any kind of weapon, and now was the time to see just how good he really was.

  I patiently waited for him after class.

  “Hey, Sweetheart. Jeez, you're early. That anxious to see me?” he teased as he walked in.

  “Can I change weapons?” I asked, ignoring his flirting.

  “To what?”

  I ran to the cupboard and picked up the two axes to show him.

  “Where did you find them?”

  “They were here,” I said, and pointed to the cupboard.

  He looked at the engravings and froze.

  “Do you know who they belonged to? They were Queen Catherine’s.”

  “Then what are they doing here?”

  “I don’t know, but can you keep it a secret for now, just until I find out.”

  “Sure, anything. Do you know how to fight with them?”

  He chuckled.“Do I know how to fight with them? That's an insult.” He threw one in the air. It flipped end over end and he caught it by the handle in an outstretched fist. “They're called Frankish Throwing Axes, and youhave to be careful.”

  “Just teach me,” I said, rolling my eyes.

  He juggled with them one last time before handing it to me hilt first. “Why do you want to learn how to fight with them?”

  “I like the way they look. They're easy to carry around and the sword looks uncomfortable to travel with.” I decided to go with practical.

  “You chose them just because they are easy to transport?” he said, and snorted.

  “Does it matter?” I asked, smiling. “Just teach me.”

  “It's not common to fight with them. The Queen was only one of a handful of warriors that chose axes. As you can imagine,you have to be close to your enemy to strike, where with the sword you have some distance. I guess Master Longwei wasn’t wrong about his mark theory.”

  I rolled my eyes. For the love of blueberries, not him too? “Can we just start?”

  The corner of his mouth twitched slightly. “With axes, fear of your enemy isn't an option. Close range, like this.”He spun around me so fast that I didn’t see him and trapped me from behind. He came so close that I could feel his breath on my hair. The butterflies in my stomach fluttered wildly, and I felt the urge to kiss him.

  “What is nice about them is that you have two, which means you have time for a surprise blow.” He spoke with a soft, seductive voice, and I swallowed hard. He moved fast past me again and faced me, while his other hand came out of nowhere and hit me softly on the left ribcage. “That hit could have cost you your life.” He gave me a quick smile and kissed me fast on my lips. I laughed. “Axe warriors are fierce, they don't hesitate, and they have fast reflexes.” His smile disappeared and his tone grew serious. “Now if you just want to knock someone unconscious, you can with the haft or the blunt side of the blade. I bet Collin will think twice after a blow like that, or it can be a weapon to throw.”He took a few paces backwards, putting distance between us, and threw the axe in his left hand so fast that I didn't even see it properly. It hit the target board on the bull’s eye.

  “You're really good at this,” I said, impressed.

  “Thanks, Sweetheart. I used to play with a lot of weapons as a kid. My father is one of the best weapon experts in Paegeia. I gu
ess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” He walked to the target board to retrieve the axe.

  I pinched my arm. He was such a god, and I had to make sure that this wasn't a dream. He came back and handed me both axes gently.

  “Shall we?” He was formal again and bowed in front of me.

  “Just go easy, please.” I tried to remember what Professor Mia told me and stood up straight, not taking my gaze away from him.

  “Okay.” He dropped his sword and picked up a shield. “Tell you what; you just swing away until you get the hang of it.”

  I blew out a big gush of air and my hands trembled, but I decided to try it. I swung at him with the axe in my right hand and took my eyes off him for one second. He blocked my blow with his shield while stepping forward. With one push of his shield, I fell on my butt.

  “Why are you holding back?” He lowered his shield and lent me a helping hand.

  “It doesn't feel right; you don't have any weapon to fight back,” I complained, and put both axes down on the ground to accept his hand.

  He pulled me up. “You rather I pick up the sword again? It's hardly a fight, Elena?” His smile went straight to his eyes, which made me want to grab him.

  “Fine, don't complain if I hurt you.”

  He shook with laughter, making me feel like an idiot.

  “With weapons, not easy,” he teased.

  I squinted, raising the axe in my right hand, keeping the left back, holding it defensively as I crouched low and approached him. The axes felt good in my hands, much lighter than Excalibur. My quick attacks surprised Lucian, judging by the look on his face, though my blows rattled off his shield harmlessly.

  Somehow, I knew what to do next, as if the axes and I were meant to be together. When pain grew in my side, we stopped.

  He didn't speak but stared at me with huge eyes. We burst into laughter.

  “That really felt good.”

  “I think you've found your weapons. You're really good with them, Elena.”

  I hated compliments but had to admit it felt great. Becky might be right about this class becoming my favorite.

  “Beginners luck.”

  “There's no beginners luck in fighting, only in gambling.” We started again when the pain in my side faded.

  He was better prepared this time and blocked all my blows, except the last one where he tripped over his own feet. “Dammit, Elena! Whoa!”

  My stomach did a double somersault.

  Damn, this is fun. Who would have thought?

  The third time, he didn't fall, but it was a hard and long fight. When we’d had enough, we were both breathless. I couldn't believe it felt so easy now that I’d finally found the right weapons. They were going to be my twins, and we would never be separated, that is if someone didn't take them from me because they used to be Queen Catherine's.

  “Do you think Professor Mia knows about them?” I asked Lucian as I put the axes back in the cupboard with the other weapons.

  “I have no idea. She should know, but then I’ve never seen them before, so she might not.” He was no longer out of breath, but his skin glistened with sweat.

  We walked hand in hand to the main building, chatting about our session. I could tell that he truly enjoyed it, and I couldn’trecall a time when I’d seen him this excited.

  Satisfaction was a sweet feeling, and it made me feel as if I was finally getting somewhere. I found my second wind and ran up the stairs to my room. I reached the fourth floor in no time. A smile ran across my face as I thought about Lucian. I was crazy about him,and I’d never felt anything like this before. For the love of blueberries, why did he have to be a prince?

  I took a shower and couldn't wait to tell Becky and Sammy about the axes.

  Sammy came in first after her drama lesson. Her eyes lit up as I told her about my little discovery.

  We both fell silent as the door opened and we watched Becky drag a huge saddle into our room.

  She smiled from ear to ear and her face looked flushed.

  “That. Was. Amazing!” She left the saddle by the door, threw a pair of flying shades that could easily be mistaken for swimming goggles on top of her dresser, and collapsed on her bed.

  “You finally rode George?” Sammy said.

  “Yes, and it's the best feeling in the world. I can’t explain it.” She turned around and rested her head on her one arm to look at us. “Lift off was really scary. I didn’t like the speed at first, and George must have sensed it somehow, because he slowed down until I was ready for more. He took me high above the clouds,and I actually wanted to cry when Master Longwei told us to go back.”

  “Master Longwei was with you?”I asked.“Flying as a dragon?"

  “No, he had a magic carpet with him. Yes, in his dragon form. C'mon, Elena, it’s not as if you don’t know that he's a dragon,” Becky teased.

  “I just can’t imagine him as one,” I admitted.

  “Well, he's a beautiful one,” she said and walked over to the fridge to get a soda.

  At dinnertime, Chef had prepared a feast. Roasted beef with gravy and mash, and pork glazed with honey, served with rice; food that made Becky pull her nose up. Sammy and I loved it.

  Lucian came in a couple of seconds after we’d seated ourselves at our normal table, and took the pillow next to me. We chatted about my skills with the axes and listened to Becky and George telling Lucian about the flying lesson.

  After I said goodbye to Lucian, I prepared for Latin and called it a night when my mind felt as if it was going to explode. I didn't dream about anything, and when my alarm clock went off again, I finished getting dressed so fast that I had to wait for Lucian.

  The two mile-run turned into three, and right before I wanted to pass out, we reached the lake. He took me on a different route today. We even ran half of the way back, which made me feel pretty good about myself.

  Blake called off our tutoring for today. The Viden wanted to see him after school. Sammy tried to help me, but was nowhere near as good as her brother.

  The next day went fast, and before I knew, it was Friday.

  Chapter Twenty-One

  “Elena, you need to go to bed early,”Becky mumbled with a toothbrush still in her mouth.“We have loads to do tomorrow.”

  “I’ve already made plans.” I made my way across the room.

  “What!”

  “Elena, we're going to watch Doubt of Fire.” Sammy's voice came drifting from the couch.

  “I didn't know that you wanted me to come with you guys.”A feeling of regret that I’d already said yes to Cheng emerged in my gut.

  “Did you think we were just going to leave you here?”Becky said, and the way her eyes widened and her mouth partially parted told me that she wasn’t happy about what I’d assumed.

  “I don't know? Sorry.”

  “Can you call it off?” Sammy suggested hopefully.

  I shook my head.

  “Why not?”

  “Cheng already asked me on Tuesday, and I didn't know if Lucian was going to come with you guys or not, so I said yes.”

  “Does Lucian know?” Becky asked.

  “I'm going to tell him before he leaves─ which reminds me, I have to go. I just came by to drop off my bag,” I said quickly as I made a dash for the door.

  If they wanted me to come they should have opened their mouths and not left it till the last minute. I left the room and went looking for Lucian. I found him sitting at one of the tables outside, talking to a redhead I'd never seen before.

  My arm curled around his waist as I slid next to him. “Are you ready?”

  “Yes, see you later, Tom,” he said, and we got up and started to walk to the lake. “I wish I could stay this weekend. Are you sure you don't want to come with me?” He was still trying to convince me to come with him to the party.

  “As tempting as that sounds, I'm so not ready to meet the King and Queen of Tith yet.”

  “You scared?” he teased, tugging on a strand of my
hair playfully.

  “Yes. For all I know, they hang commoners just for thinking about speaking to the Prince.”

  He chuckled and swung me around for a kiss. “Then, my dear lady, I will just have to save you. Will you meet me tomorrow?”

  I cringed, knowing he was not going to be happy with my new change of plans. “About that. Cheng asked me to go with him to the museum for strictly educational purposes.” I said the last part slowly so that he would understand it was not a date.

  “Just as long as you promise me that I don't have to kill a dragon one day because he stole my lady,” he said, looking deeply into my eyes.

  “Please Lucian, Cheng doesn't have anywhere near your charisma or charm,” I told him, giving him a squeeze so he knew I meant it.

  “I could get used to this kind of flattery,” he said, and our lips met again. The warm kiss felt good, and I didn't want him to stop. These feelings he stirred up inside me scared the living crap out of me. I didn't know what I was going to do if he ever told me we were finished.

  “You can go, but on one condition,’ he said, with a smile that told me he was busy conjuring a plan that might get us in trouble.

  “Which is?”

  “Sunday, you're mine.” I didn't reply, too scared that it would involve his parents.

  He must have sensed my nervousness, because he said, “Don't worry? It won't be near the castle. I just want to spend some time with you.”

  “Deal,” I said enthusiastically, wrapping my arms around his neck.

  He laughed while shaking his head.

  “What?”

  “You're really that scared of meeting my parents?”

  “It's not like they are the neighbors, Lucian. Where I'm from kings and queens don't approve of girls like me, especially a dragon’s offspring. It's going to take a miracle for them just to like me.” I stared at the ground, not wanting to meet his gaze.

  He lifted up my chin gently. “That’s your opinion, Sweetheart. They're going to love you. But if you're not ready, I can wait.”

  “So where are we going on Sunday?”

  “It's a surprise,” he said mysteriously.

  “Fine, I guess I’ll just have to wait then.”

 
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