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       Moonbeam, p.2

           Adrienne Woods
 

  I was lying with my head on his stomach while he lay on his back, reading from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

  We shared dragon kisses. They were almost the same as Italian kisses, but instead of the chocolate, it was covered with an orange-flavored caramel topping and filled with a dark chili-chocolate ice cream. He would use his frost to keep them cold.

  It was to die for.

  “The end,” Blake said, finished with the book.

  “Beautiful. Now where is my poem?” I asked and he smiled.

  “What if I tell you there is no poem tonight?”

  “Four years of daily poems and tonight you don’t have one? Nah. I don’t buy it.”

  He laughed, shifted, and slid a rumpled piece of paper from his back pocket.

  He hated it when I read his poems while he was watching me, but I didn’t care.

  He handed it over and held it tight so I couldn’t get it.

  “Seriously,” I complained. “You’re going to tear it.”

  He laughed and let go.

  I pushed myself up and kneeled, unfolding it.

  It was a long one.

  I have dreamed of the light

  Since the dark crawled at my soul.

  It felt as if I would break,

  Then you came and made me whole.

  “Aww.”

  He just smiled and shook his head.

  Finally, I can breathe,

  as you drove my demons away.

  And no matter what may happen,

  I know with you I’m meant to stay.

  So I thank the heavens each day

  that you are by my side.

  Never losing faith in me,

  you’ll always be my guide.

  Okay this was going to be one of those poems that made me cry. I could just feel it.

  And if the world crashes down,

  my life would be complete.

  With you by my side,

  never missing a beat.

  There’s only one thing left

  that will change our life.

  What I want to know is…

  will you be my wife?

  My heart fluttered as I read the last sentence. Tears welled up in my eyes. My dad had finally said yes.

  “You’re serious?”

  He beamed. I flung my arms around his neck and kissed him.

  “Yes, yes. A million times yes,” I cried. “When did you ask him?”

  “Last week, but he told me he had to think. I think Constance actually put her foot down this time.”

  I squealed gleefully and planted my lips on his.

  His thoughts streamed into my head and I chuckled with my lips still pressed against his.

  “This was why…”

  “Yes, that was why I had to shield you off. I didn’t want to spoil anything.” He got up and took out a small jewelry box from inside the basket. He gave it to me.

  I opened the box and gasped. A large stone glittered, nestled in black velvet.

  “The gem’s called a dragon stone,” he said. “It belonged to your grandmother. The band is brand-new, though. It took about three days to make this beauty.”

  “It’s dazzling.”

  He took the ring out of its box and put it on my finger, kissing my knuckles softly. He looked up at me through his thick lashes. “You are beautiful.”

  I sighed and smiled like an idiot. Could I be any happier? I grabbed and kissed him again.

  All sorts of feelings awoke, and for once he didn’t stop. He lowered me to the ground.

  My legs twirled around his waist. His body pressed hard on mine.

  I was going to lose it.

  When my breathing became heavier he stopped, grunted and pushed himself off me.

  “Seriously?!” I huffed.

  “I made a promise, Elena.”

  “To a ghost, Blake. She’s not here.” Anger laced my tone.

  “Don’t be like that. Please.” He pulled me into his arms. His lips touched my earlobe. “You have no idea how hard this is for me.”

  “It doesn’t look hard,” I whined.

  “Well,” he said, and I could tell that he was grinning. “It is.”

  The magical night ended.

  I never thought I could dislike my mom. Why did she have to threaten him like that? Still, forgiving him was easy. He was trying his best to keep his promise. And nothing I was going to say would break his will.

  He took me straight to the castle after the mountain. I hated that I had to say goodbye to him again. Why couldn’t we just go to his place instead?

  He had a beautiful apartment on the coast. I loved that place so much. My father never let me sleep over.

  “Soon they can’t say anything.” Blake didn’t change back from his dragon form and I knew why. The temptation was always strongest during goodbyes.

  “Yes, you’d better hope my dad sets the date soon and not three years from now.”

  His dragon face fell. Yep. I saw the cussing in his mind.

  “Sleep tight.” I laughed.

  He growled. “Sleep tight, princess.”

  “Fly safe.”

  “I will.”

  “Sweet dreams,” I said.

  “My dreams can’t possibly be sweeter than what my life is right now.” He was still flapping his wings, hovering in the air. “I will go on my knees tonight and pray that it won’t be three years from today.”

  I laughed and went into my room.

  I hated saying goodbye.

  I went to my father and Constance’s room and knocked on their door.

  “Enter,” Constance said. I opened the door, ran inside, and jumped onto their bed. My dad was already asleep.

  “Look!” I yelled.

  She squealed, sharing my excitement. “It is gorgeous, Elena! Tell me everything. How did he ask you?”

  I showed her the poem. My father opened his one eye.

  “Thank you, Daddy,” I fell on him and kissed him on the burnt side of his face.

  “Uh-huh. Where is he?”

  “Not here.” I sighed. “Don’t.” I was so not having this conversation with him.

  “It’s gorgeous, Elena,” Constance gushed. “He sure knows how to write a poem.”

  “He sure does.” I took it from her and hugged her.

  “Thank you,” I whispered in her ear. “I know the Silver Annex foot came out.”

  She laughed.

  “It was time. I couldn’t handle his disappointment any longer,” she whispered back.

  I said goodnight and left.

  My phone rang. It was Blake.

  “You show them?” he asked.

  “Yes, I did,” I said and put the phone on my bed as I walked into my closet.

  “Elena, I swear if you undress in front of me again, I’m going to switch off my phone.”

  I laughed. “I’ll get undressed in my closet.”

  I put my sexy nighties on.

  He grunted appreciatively and then started to laugh.

  “What, I can’t wear this now?” I said when he refused to look at me.

  “This is so unfair,” he said and then his face disappeared.

  I ran to my Cammy and phoned him again. It just rang.

  I tried a few more times, but he didn’t answer.

  He hadn’t just put the phone down on me, had he?

  I phoned him again. He didn’t answer. It went to voicemail.

  Pick up. Pick up. Pick up!

  I wanted to cry. So that attempt was a big no. I shouldn’t have done that.

  I chucked my phone in the drawer, climbed into bed, and pulled the covers over my head.

  I hated this so much. So, so much. All because of a stupid promise. My engagement ring’s gem glowed under the covers. It was gorgeous. Unique.

  I heard something outside my door. I pulled the covers from my face and stared at the door.

  Was someone here? I called Blake a few times in my thoughts, but he was too far out of reach.

  I im
mediately went into Dragonian mode. I climbed out of bed and grabbed the ornament that stood on my nightstand.

  Looking down at my nighties, I sighed and rolled my eyes. I shouldn’t have worn these stupid nighties. If I had to fight…the image in my head was comical.

  I wrapped my duvet around my torso. Gripping the ornament like a weapon underneath the duvet, I walked to the door.

  I reached out slowly and cracked open the door.

  Blake. He leaned against the wall, wearing only his jeans. He didn’t seem impressed, not one bit. With arms folded, his entire demeanor screamed bad boy.

  The door swung open and I pulled him inside.

  Our lips touched. We didn’t speak. We just kissed as if Paegeia’s survival depended on it. He shouldn’t have come.

  He pushed me against the wall. Hard. He pulled the blanket off me, revealing my nighties and the ornament I’d hidden underneath the blanket.

  He chuckled. “Love, you can wield fire and lightning, and you grabbed a nightstand knickknack?”

  “Shut up.” I pulled him closer to me.

  He groaned as our bodies slammed together. His hands roved over me.

  When his lips brushed the skin on my neck softly, goosebumps skittered all over my body. “If your mother shows up to haunt my ass, you are going to do the explaining,” he spoke fast.

  “It will be my pleasure,” I said. We both laughed.

  Fiercely, he kissed me. His hands grabbed my thighs, lifting me up from the floor. My legs curled around his waist as he pushed his body against mine.

  He was built to last. Everything about him was driving me crazy. His kisses became faster as he shredded my nighties off with one tug.

  His hands fiddled with his jeans. A tearing sound filled the room.

  He pressed his lips against mine. Our tongues danced. It was a dance only we knew.

  He pressed hard into me again. His thrusts were vigorous, achingly urgent, and powerful. In less than two minutes I had to suppress moans.

  I was rushed to euphoria.

  The wedding took place three months later. Constance had hired the best event coordinators for our special day.

  It was something Paegeia had never seen: a blend of a traditional dragon wedding and a royal one.

  The tabloids couldn’t stop talking about the big event.

  Everyone who was anyone was going to be there. Oh, and one more thing…it was going to be held in the sky.

  A heavenly wedding.

  Most people only dreamed of something like that, but once everyone started exploring ways to make it happen, I realized it was really possible.

  Blake loved the sky. He was made for the sky. Apparently that was how all dragons got married.

  It was just going to be a little bit trickier.

  A month before the wedding, my father called for Blake. He moved in, taking a temporary room in the castle until the wedding. He spent as much time with Dad as he could, learning about being a ruler. Dad took him under his wing. He taught him everything he knew about how to be a great king. Which was a lot.

  At night, Blake sneaked into my room, dodging all the booby traps my father had laid out.

  The magical day had finally come.

  I couldn’t stop staring at myself in the mirror.

  My dress was white with purplish-black lace trim that matched the color of Blake’s dragon skin. The back was netted with a thin, translucent layer of lace woven into the shape of a dragon. My shoulders were bare and the sleeves caught on my forearms, fanning out to my wrists in folds of purple lace.

  I’d never seen such a puffy dress in my entire life. The skirt threatened to drown my legs. But the dress tapered at my waist into a corset that was a mixture of faux purple leather and white satin.

  When I first saw it and felt its softness in my hands, I’d thought Blake had offered some of his skin, but he hadn’t. It was all a reproduction.

  I couldn’t believe that such a beautiful gown had been created just for me. In that moment, I felt like a fairy-tale princess.

  Blake planned on wearing traditional dragon attire. At first I thought he was going to show up naked, but I was assured that wouldn’t be the case. Dragon and human weddings were usually done in human form, thank goodness.

  There had just never been one in which the bride was of royal blood.

  His outfit reminded me of a Scottish kilt. Blake was going to get married in a dress, too. I teased him about it, but he just stared at me. He didn’t think I was very funny.

  His kilt didn’t have plaid; it had scales. It was his color—deep purple. It came with a piece that reminded me of the Samurai 3000 vest, just softer around the edges and much more elaborately decorated with raven-black satin and gold trimmings. A cape draped over his shoulders. Boots laced up to his knees. He would look like some sort of Greek god. I could already imagine what was waiting for me at the altar. A hot wave washed over me. Dizziness and doubt clouded my mind.

  I was going to become someone’s wife. Not just any someone—the Rubicon’s. What if I didn’t make him happy? What if everything was going to change?

  Was this too early? Was this the reason why my father kept telling him no—because he knew I wasn’t ready?

  I backed away from the mirror to the fan. I spread my arms wide like a bird’s wings and waited for the air to cool my head.

  That was how Becky and Sammy found me. They both looked pretty in their gold-and-purple dresses.

  “Okay, what is up with you?” Becky asked.

  “I don’t know. I’m so hot.” My voice sounded strangled.

  She walked over. Her cropped black hair bobbed with each perky step. “You are the most gorgeous bride I’ve ever seen, Elena.”

  Half my lip rose.

  Her big brown eyes narrowed. “No, you are not having cold feet!”

  “I don’t know,” I whined. “It’s the Rubicon, for crying out loud, Becky.”

  “And he is marrying the freakin’ Princess of Paegeia, Elena. You don’t think that is intimidating for him, too?”

  I took a deep breath. She had a point.

  “It’s Blake. Your knight in shining armor. Your Dent. The guy who would literally give you the moon and the stars if he could. He will love you forever, Elena.” She took a strand of my hair and fixed it.

  “When did you become so wise?” I asked.

  “The day I became Mrs. George Mills.”

  We both laughed.

  “Please don’t break my brother’s heart,” Sammy said. I’d forgotten she was here, too. She had become like a shadow the past few years. Becky and I had tried everything to pull her out of it, but after a while, we just stopped. She clearly didn’t want to be saved from torturing herself over Dean’s death. I hadn’t seen her famous dimples in forever.

  I went over to her and gave her a hug, careful not to mess up her coiffed auburn hair. “I would never break his heart. I love him too much.”

  “Good,” she whispered. “Now go and marry him.”

  The door opened and my father walked in with Constance. Dad was downright dapper in his leather suit and delicate, yet manly crown. A cape cascaded from his back.

  Tears welled up in his eyes as he stared at me.

  “Say something. Please.”

  He shook his head and wiped his tears away. “May I have a moment with my daughter alone, ladies?” They left the room.

  He took my hands gently in his. “You look so much like your mother today.” His voice broke.

  “Dad.”

  “No, Elena.” He took my hands and kissed them. “I’ve been wrong these past four years, trying to keep you all to myself. Forgive me.”

  Tears pricked my eyes, reflecting his. “There is nothing to forgive,” I said. He handed me a tissue before a tear rolled down my cheek. “Constance will kill me if I ruin your makeup.”

  I laughed ruefully. “I’m sure if they can create a wedding hovering in the sky, they can fix ruined makeup.”

  He laughed. “
It looks stunning out there. You know if you’re not ready, Elena, he will understand. We can still slip out the back.”

  “You forgot one thing,” I joked.

  “What?”

  “We’ll tumble to our deaths.”

  He threw back his head and laughed.

  I joined in. When our chuckles subsided, he sighed. “No, I’m serious. We won’t fall to our deaths.” He touched my face gently with his palm.

  “I’m ready, Dad. I want to marry him.”

  “Okay, sweet pea.” He kissed me on my head. “I’ll let everyone know it’s time to begin.”

  A soaring melody of violins floated to us. My bridesmaids included Sammy, my best friend and Blake’s sister; Becky, my other best friend and old roommate from Dragonia; and Annie, Blake’s fantastic cousin and my step-sister who happens to be one of my favorite people.

  They all walked out, stately and serene, to the rhythm of the music. I couldn’t recall if I’d ever heard this melody, but it was beautiful.

  “Ready?” my father asked.

  I smiled. “Ready.”

  He pulled my veil over my face and we stepped out the door.

  Earlier this morning when Constance brought me here with Becky and everyone else, it hadn’t looked anything like this. It had just been a room hovering in the sky by loads and loads of enchantments.

  Now, it was as if heaven had come down to us to make this wedding possible.

  Rows and rows of chairs were lined up on both sides. A flouncy bow adorned each chair back. There was even a red carpet. A soft mist covered the ground. Clouds mixed with rose veins lined the walls. Dragons flapped their wings, hovering in the air.

  At the front, my gorgeous groom stood in his Adonis attire. Waiting for me to marry him.

  Everyone stared at me, but I couldn’t keep my eyes away from my prize. It was as if I’d won him somehow.

  He was standing underneath an arch made of clouds threaded with soft colors and flowers.

  As I came closer, I could see tears shining in his eyes.

  My father leaned slightly toward me. “See, I’m not the only one bedazzled by how beautiful you look today, Elena.”

  My heart warmed.

  When we finally reached the front, my father turned to me and lifted my veil. He kissed me on both cheeks.

 
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