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Thunderlight, p.24
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       Thunderlight, p.24

           Adrienne Woods
 
It felt though as if she was looking straight at me and I blew out a breath.

  Lucian looked up and gestured with one nod to see what was up.

  I looked at his Mom quickly and a broad smile appeared over his face as she still looked at me.

  King Helmut walked out that minute and I had to compose myself again.

  “Good morning, Elena. Did you sleep well last night?”

  “I did, thank you,” I said way too fast and he gave me a funny look.

  Lucian smiled behind the newspaper.

  “Margerite, wake up,” King Helmut yelled and the Queen jumped.

  I started to laugh as I now understood that she hadn’t been staring at me, but sleeping.

  “Oh, good morning Elena,” she spoke quickly. “I never should have had that last glass of champagne.”

  “Darling, you never should have had that last bottle.”

  A couple of chuckles and giggles filled the porch.

  “It’s a wonder there was nothing printed in the papers this morning,” Lucian said in a soft serious voice, but I could tell he was joking.

  “Oh, I know how to handle myself,” his Mom snapped back. “Cat, pillow, now!”

  Lucian shook his head. “He’s had like eight strips of bacon while you were sleeping.”

  “If that dog dies of a heart attack Lucian, I’m blaming you.”

  I dished up breakfast and ate quickly. After we were finished I went with Lucian back to my room so that I could go and pack my suitcase.

  As I turned the corner, Lucian pushed me against the wall and gave me a long kiss. “Last night was one of the most amazing nights of my life.” He spoke against my lips.

  “Mine too.” I kissed him one more time and he let me go as Cat came wiggling down the hall.

  I was really grateful for that dog as he followed the Queen wherever she went.

  Around ten we took our seats in their private elevator.

  Emanuel strapped me in while Lucian helped himself. I’d only seen Emanuel once since we came. Lucian gave me a quick introduction. The King’s dragon was a bit younger than his Dragonian, he almost resembled Lucian’s older brother, but I knew he was much older than that. He was big, strong, and tall with a bald head. A part of him reminded me a lot about Darius.

  “Thank you,” I said as he finished.

  “You are welcome,” he said with a soft smile as he punched Lucian hard on the arm.

  “Ow!” Lucian rubbed his arm. “Seriously, aren’t we like too old for this?”

  I thought it was funny and laughed.

  “See you soon, Your Highness.” Emanuel chirped back and as Lucian went to say something, his Mom and Dad entered.

  “So we’ll see you Christmas then?” The Queen said looking at me and I nodded.

  “Just make a turn before you leave on Wednesday, Lucian. There is something we need to discuss.” King Helmut’s voice sounded serious.

  Wednesday? It can’t be that soon.

  “Cool.” Lucian sounded like it wasn’t that big of priority.

  “Remind him, Elena.”

  We both laughed as the door’s started to close. “Bye,” Lucian said.

  “Love you, honey.”

  “Mom!!!”

  We could still hear them chuckle as we began to move.

  Lucian held my hand and our fingers locked together. I felt his warm breath on my knuckles as he leaned in for a short kiss.

  The elevator dropped in an instant. Lucian definitely loved it while I was still impartial. The deep breath came voluntarily now and I could feel a slight pull as the elevator moved again. The buzzing noise filled my ears and the pain turned into a pins and needles type of feeling.

  When we landed, Elm attendants helped us out of the chairs.

  It was the same private drop off we’d used when we went to the castle. When we exited the elevator, the Elm port staff bowed and curtseyed.

  Lucian just nodded as he grabbed my hand. A tall lady and a small, thin man in a black suit addressed Lucian. The woman spoke to him fast about the arrangements the King must have made for us to travel back to Dragonia.

  An attendant opened another door as the lady told us both that our luggage was already in the limo.

  We exited a door and found huge sliding doors that led to outside. Flashes of cameras blinded my sight as I walked into the mob of reporters.

  “Just smile,” Lucian whispered in my ear as he waved to the media.

  “Prince Lucian, are you looking forward to your quest?”

  “Of course, I’ve got to find a way to tame the beast somehow,” he replied. We still walked toward the limo as more questions were asked.

  “Will Elena go with you?”

  “Unfortunately not, but I can promise you this. If she did, I would feel much safer.”

  They all laughed.

  The driver held the door opened and Lucian let me climb in first as more reporters wanted to ask questions. I saw him wave as he climbed in and sigh as the driver shut the door.

  “You’re really good with them.”

  “Sweetheart, ever since I was a baby they’ve been in my face.” He chuckled. “You on the other hand are really holding yourself together well. Just remember to stay that way. Look at how Arianna struggled to keep her shit in a row.”

  I smiled. “Which Wednesday are you going?”

  He gave me a soft unsure smile. “This one,” he finally said.

  “This Wednesday?”

  He nodded.

  “When were you going to tell me?” I sounded upset because I’d only known about the trip for two days.

  “I’m sorry,” he touched my arm and I closed my eyes and turned my gaze out the window. “I didn’t know how to tell you.”

  “How the hell do they know, Lucian?” I looked at him again, referring to the cockroaches with their cameras.

  “They knew because I had to go to the Council to ask permission.”

  “When?”

  “When I asked to claim Blake.”

  “And you couldn’t tell me then?”

  He started to lose his patience with me. “I thought you were okay with this, and why I’m doing this, Elena.”

  “I am. I just didn’t think it would be three days from now. I thought that I would get at least a month’s warning, Lucian.”

  “I’m sorry,” he said again and pulled me closer to him.

  What if you don’t come back? I couldn’t say it out loud, but it was my biggest fear. A three day warning for something like this wasn’t enough.

  HE NIGHT BEFORE his departure came faster than I’d hoped. I’d spent every possible minute with Lucian that I could. We spent that night cuddled in the tower we’d used for our escape when we went on our King of Lions mission.

  It included us sneaking out, but it was worth it.

  He was really romantic and had soft blankets and pillows open on the floor. Of course, one thing quickly led to another and I just couldn’t seem to help myself with him.

  We both fell onto the floor out of breath afterwards and I crawled underneath his arm. Tears were really close by now. How on earth am I going to say goodbye to him tomorrow? Not knowing if he was going to come back or whether I would see him again would make tomorrow’s departure different than all the others.

  I’d never thought that I would feel more than I already did when it came to Lucian, but somehow I did. I couldn’t imagine my life without him and I knew it sounded pathetic because I was only seventeen, but Lucian was the one for me. I was lucky to have found my true love at sixteen. “When will you be back?”

  “I don’t know. As soon as I find Tanya and speak to her, I guess.”

  “Have you thought more about what it is you are going to ask her?”

  “It will come to me, Elena.”

  I nodded. Silence filled the tower and I listened to the crickets outside. “What if you don’t…”

  “Shhh.” He turned to face me with his arm still under my head. “You are here. I’ll find a way.
I’ll never leave you, Elena.”

  I kissed him again and felt a tear run down my cheek.

  In the morning, we had breakfast while everyone said goodbye to him.

  The claws came out when Arianna came closer to our table. “Just come back please, I don’t want to run this country by myself,” she said and he gave her a hug. She kept it friendly and walked away.

  “Good choice,” I said softly under my breath.

  George made a cat noise and pulled his fingers into a set of claws which made Becky and Sammy laugh.

  “Oh, shut up.” I joined in their laughter.

  I stayed with Lucian until it was time to say goodbye. We shared a long kiss at the gate and I struggled to let him go. It was a long hug.

  He stroked my back as I struggled to hold back the tears. “It’s going to be okay, Elena.”

  “Then why does it feel as if I’m never going to see you again?” I couldn’t help it. My eyes were full of tears and he grabbed my arm and pulled me away from him so he could look at me.

  “Don’t cry, please.” He kissed me on my forehead. “Otherwise I’m going to cry too and just think how humiliating that would be.”

  I laughed through my tears and he wiped one away softly with his thump.

  “I promise you, I’ll come back. I’ll find a way.”

  I nodded, took a deep breath and kissed him one more time.

  “I am going to ask you something and I know it sounds stupid, but please, just do it.”

  “What?”

  “I thought a bit more about what my father said about Paul.”

  I gave him a look.

  “It’s not that, Elena. He’s your dragon and I’m sure he wouldn’t do anything to hurt you otherwise he will have to deal with me.” He smiled. “I spoke to Blake. Just tell him if you are going somewhere with Paul, please.”

  My mouth opened slightly as I stared at him.

  “Promise, Elena.”

  “I promise.” It did sound stupid but if it was going to help him sleep better at night and worry less about me, concentrating instead on the task before him, I would do it.

  Blake waited on the other side of the gate. He wore some sort of a robe and I shut my eyes as he started pulling it up to take it off.

  Still not used to naked people. I could hear the tearing and pop sound as he morphed and open my eyes once again.

  The size of him always amazed me. He was as big as a one story house and I couldn’t imagine anyone succeeding in claiming him.

  Lucian grabbed his paw and winked as Blake tossed him onto his back. All of us gasped, including Master Longwei and Constance as Blake had never tossed anyone on his back before.

  We watched until they were gone.

  Becky wrapped her arms around me. “He’s going to come back, it’s not like he’s going into the Acker Woods, Elena.”

  My lip vibrated more. I couldn’t tell her how wrong she was, since nobody could know where he was going to. They would pull him back and that would be it. Blake would turn evil and Paegeia would be destroyed forever.

  COUPLE OF DAYS passed and I tried so hard to stay positive. Lucian phoned me every night and hearing his voice calmed my fears of never seeing him again.

  We had to do it in private though as we spoke a lot about his trip to the – you – know – where.

  I just hoped Blake knew what he was doing for him.

  He was still a couple of miles away from the woods and said he needed to check out a couple of places first, do more research and see if Tanya was really inside.

  He thought she could be hiding nearby in a village or secluded along the fringes of the forest.

  All his leads ended in nothing.

  “I’ll be entering the woods tomorrow,” he said a few nights later.

  I nodded at his image on my Cammy.

  “Hey, we’ve been through this. Now I don’t know if there will be any reception inside, but I’m going to try to phone you, okay.”

  I nodded again.

  “I love you.”

  “Love you more.”

  “I doubt that.”

  I giggled and his face disappeared.

  I struggled to sleep after the call.

  The next day I was so miserable, not even Paul could get my mood up and I hated missing Lucian. I couldn’t wait for the day he called to say he was coming back.

  See, I’m positive. Then why did I still have a horrible yucky feeling inside like something was going to go horribly wrong?

  WOKE UP IN in a cold sweat after one of Queen Catherine’s dreams. Pushing the covers back I got up from bed, walked to the fridge and took out a soda. Walking across the plush carpet I made myself comfortable on the couch and just stared at the black big screen mounted against the wall.

  I felt like screaming, not knowing why she haunted my dreams and kept ordering me to go into that forest. Missing Lucian and worrying about him made it ten times worse.

  The only thing I had was my foretelling. It’s just got to be linked to Paul and claiming him. As I thought about it I just knew it would reveal so many truths; that Wyverns could change, that they were dragons too. King Albert believed in that strongly and so did Master Longwei. The more I thought about King Albert, the more I wished that I’d had the privilege of knowing him, the way the people of Paegeia had.

  ‘Magical’ was what Lucian had called him. It was crazy to think that his love for his people had somehow conjured those creepers. Their purpose was to imprison Goran, nothing else.

  His beliefs were going to become mine soon. If Master Longwei was right about his mark theory and Paul was destined to be my dragon, then the two of us would find a way to lead the Wyverns into the light.

  I giggled to myself. That thought would have to go into the file of Elena’s secrets, with all the rest of the things I silently wished for, because my friends would definitely kill me if they knew about any more life threatening missions coming up.

  The next morning, I found Paul’s eyes on me as I entered the cafeteria. I gave him a smile which he returned with a wink. My stomach flipped and I stopped in my tracks. I didn’t feel that way about Paul, although he was a dish, I loved Lucian. I looked at Paul again. It could only be him doing this. He was sitting next to Blake again and they were in a deep conversation, chatting with the boy with the green stripes in his hair─ funny how I’d never gotten his name.

  He was a Green-Vapor, like Tanya the Queen’s dragon. Lucian, however, had said that they had the ability of persuasion and I wondered if Paul’s telepathy could lead to something as powerful as persuasion.

  “You still hear Paul’s voice?” Sammy asked as she saw me staring at his table.

  “No, he’s been quiet lately. Don’t know why.”

  “Maybe he doesn’t like someone in his head?” Becky teased.

  I laughed at Becky but couldn’t stop wondering if Paul had made my stomach flip when he winked at me. If it was him, I didn’t like it one bit.

  Later that day, Anatomy turned out to be a really fun class. Professor Gregory had an entire lecture about the Green-Vapors. How freaky was that?

  After he drew their stomach with compartments on the black board, he opened up a candy bar and took a huge bite out of the chocolate. Some of the students started to laugh. “One of you could have the other one if you can tell me where the Green-Vapor keeps its chlorine.”

  A couple of hands went up, except mine. I didn’t have a clue.

  “Tracy,” he pointed at one of the girls I used to battle with to get the sword I needed in Art of War.

  “His…left…lower compartment?”

  Clearly a guess.

  “Nope, you’re out.”

  “Derrick.”

  “Right lower compartment.”

  “These compartments have names people.” He went back to the board. “This is the ‘Superiorem Stomachus’.” He drew a huge circle around the upper right corner of the stomach. “Right next to it, you have the ‘Sinister Venter’. The one be
low,” he said drawing a third circle, “is called the ‘Inferiorem Alvus’ and right next to it, the ‘Dexter Alvus’.”

  “You really want us to remember those names?” Al, a red head asked from the second row.

  “Yes, it’s one of my favorite questions on the exam. So, again, who can tell me where the Green-Vapor keeps its chlorine?”

  I was sure Riley would’ve known the answer, but she’d finally Ascended. She could manipulate acid, which meant that her dragon was a Night Villain. It came as a shock to all of us, Riley, and one of the most dangerous dragons there was? I didn’t know who I felt more sorry for, her or the dragon.

  The picture on the board flashed inside my head. I looked at the board, then another picture, one that wasn’t drawn on a board, flashed into my head. It was not the stomach or any of its compartments but the part above the stomach, the throat. I smiled knowing who had sent me the answer, and I lifted up my hand.

  “Elena,” Professor Gregory asked.

  “It’s not one of them. The Green-Vapor’s chlorine is located just above the stomach, close to its throat.”

  He started to clap his hands. “Well done. You are the first ever to get this right.”

  I barely caught the Kit-Kat as it came sailing my way. Classes were going to be so much fun from now on.

  “That’s not fair,” Collin complained. “You said it was in one of the compartments.”

  “Well, this way, you will never forget it, Collin.” Professor Gregory raised his eyebrows and we all laughed. We would never forget it. It was a trick question and that was how our class on the Green-Vapor with all its weird-named organs started.

  I shared my Kit-Kat with Paul in Art of War. He was so surprised that I’d gotten it. He said he had wanted to test how strong our bond was, but not to expect him to help me cheat.

  I laughed at his comment. I had to admit, it was pretty cool and he did sort of help me stop worrying about Lucian, even if it was only for a couple of hours a day.

  URING LUNCH, Becky and George were in deep discussion. I only caught a part of it as I was walking up to the table.

  “Why didn’t any of you tell us?” She sounded upset and scolded George with her eyes.

 
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