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       Frostbite, p.24

           Adrienne Woods
 

  “Fuck you,” I yelled back at him and the group of men all stared at me with huge eyes as I darted past them.

  Cheng literally carried me to the Range Rover like my father used to. Without Cara’s strength my kicks and punches got me nowhere. He was determined to get me back to Dragonia and would have even tied me up if I had carried on fighting.

  He chucked me onto the front seat and my head hit the back of the seat hard. When he shut the door, he locked it at the same time. I hammered on it fiercely as I refused to go back and face my destiny. Who in their right mind would claim a beast like Blake Leaf? They’d had to sedate him for the past couple of months just to be able to handle him.

  Cheng’s door opened next to me and before I could slide over and escape that way, he slid down onto his seat.

  I sat back in my chair, crossed my arms and ground hard on my teeth. Now that I was human again my tear ducts were once again connected to my emotions and angry tears threatened, but I wasn’t going to give this dragon I’d thought was my friend the satisfaction.

  I stared out the window at the view, but I took nothing in as my mind was filled with rage. How dare he do this to me? How on earth was I going to claim Blake? He knew who I was, he could’ve just told me that night and Brian would still be alive. I wouldn’t have been in that cave with Paul because I would have known he was lying through his teeth when he’d told me I was his rider, and Lucian would still be alive. He’d made Cara wake up, made me love her, and then become the reason that I’d had to kill her. How on earth did any of them expect me to claim him?

  Around eight Cheng pulled over near a couple of trees. He opened a huge packet of chips and shoved them in front of me. “Eat, you need your strength for tomorrow.”

  “I’m not—”

  “Don’t say it. You will claim him Elena, so help me, and you are going to need all the strength you can muster to do it.”

  “You can’t make me,” I hissed at him like an angry cat.

  “Yeah, watch me. Now eat.”

  “I’m not hungry.”

  “Fine, suit yourself,” he spoke a couple of Latin words and stared at me for a couple of seconds.

  The anger disappeared first, then all my thoughts followed. I couldn’t remember what I was even doing in the car or who Cheng was. Next came the numb feeling. It started from my toes and spread to my tongue. Before I could even ask what the hell was happening to me, my eyelids became heavy and everything faded until all was black.

  WOKE UP WITH a mother of a headache. It took a couple of minutes to realize where I was and what had happened. Birds chirping loudly outside made me furious. I finally managed to open my eyes and saw that it was morning. Something wasn’t right though.

  My sight was halved, the edges around the images I saw were a dark red. They reflected perfectly what I felt inside. Hatred. Hatred for this stinking world, for these trees and those birds mocking me with their cheerful chirps. Something moved next to me, and I found him.

  The person pretending this whole time to be my friend. He was the enemy and right now, I was in his captivity, taken as his hostage.

  Not this time, CHENG!

  I leapt onto his lap and my hands found his throat before his eyes could even open. When they did he just stared at me. I could feel his veins against the tight grip of both my hands on his neck.

  “Now, you listen to me. You will promise that you won’t tell anyone who I am,” I said and he managed to shake his head. I forced my hands to squeeze tighter. I felt a smile emerge on my lips. This felt so good. I’d never had this kind of strength before, and I wanted more. I needed more. A bit tighter. “Promise Cheng, or I will kill you and the truth will die with you.”

  His face became red and his lips turned blue. I loved that color. It looked so freakin’ awesome.

  “Fine,” he managed to get out and my hands held on a bit tighter. He hit my shoulders, and I realized that I hadn’t really heard his reply. I let go.

  He coughed while I still sat on his lap, pinning him down with my newfound strength.

  “I promise.”

  I grabbed a handful of his black hair and pulled his head up to face me. “Promise what? If you didn’t forget, I was a dragon myself until a couple of days ago. I know the drill.”

  He stared at me with his dark eyes. “I promise I won’t tell a living soul who you are.”

  I hit him twice on the cheek, hard. “That’s my boy.”

  “Now get the hell off me.” He pushed me back into my seat.

  That felt good and I could still feel the smirk on my face. Hell that’d felt amazing. I couldn’t recall that I’d ever felt so alive. Not even with Cara inside of me. This was like super awesome. It was hard to explain. The adrenaline of feeling a soft thumb of a pulse underneath your hands, and the more you tightened the faster it beat. It was like—

  “You know what the hell is happening to you, right?” Cheng said as he finally started the Range Rover and pulled down the street again.

  “What is happening to me, oh clever one?” I mocked him.

  He opened the flap on my side of the roof and I saw the mirror. “Look for yourself. Look how pretty your eyes are Elena.”

  I looked and froze as I saw green irises with red where the white should be. It wasn’t lack of sleeping kind of red, it was evil red. I kind of liked it. “So?” I said in an ‘I-don’t care’ tone. “It means shit.”

  “You don’t get it, do you? Blake is awake, Elena. What you feel isn’t your feelings, it’s his. Your bond—”

  “Don’t you dare say that!” I yelled at him. “I will kill you if you say that again. I don’t have a bond with him.”

  He lifted up his hands in mock surrender and shut his mouth.

  My smile was gone now, and anger filled me again. I hated Blake fucking Leaf. The anger stayed with me for a long time as I just saw his stupid face in front of me, knowing who I was this whole time. He killed all the people I loved and now they wanted me to claim him. He didn’t deserve a rider, he didn’t deserve to be claimed. He deserved to be Goran’s pet.

  I watched out my window for what seemed like hours and let my hatred for Blake Leaf boil inside of me. When I saw the board that said ‘Welcome to Elm’, I realized how fast Cheng was really driving.

  For someone who’d just promised he wouldn’t tell anyone who I was, he was sure anxious to get back to the academy. Then it hit me.

  Why did the chief of that village want Cheng so badly? He had the Rubicon, and yet he wanted a stupid, insignificant Crown-Tail.

  “Why did the Khumutsi want you?” I asked.

  “I don’t know,” he said and looked out his window for a second.

  “You’re lying, I can hear it in your voice. You do have an ability, don’t you?” I said with a smirk.

  “Elena, I don’t know what you are talking about.”

  “Come on Cheng. I’m not stupid. All the dragons can do something, yet I have no idea what it is Crown-Tails do.”

  “We have our theories, Elena. That is it.”

  I laughed. “No, it’s more than that.”

  “You are crazy, that is what you are. You think you know everything, you know nothing. You are so blinded by everything that is going on with you in the moment that you don’t even see the truth anymore. I’m one of your best friends Elena, you should know me by now.” He said that Latin incantation again and waited.

  I waited for it to come, any moment now and I would feel it, but nothing came. I started to laugh.

  Cheng’s eyes rose and his lips grew thin.

  “It looks like your little sleeping spell doesn’t work on me anymore.”

  “No, it’s not that. He’s protecting you.”

  “What!”

  “Even if he doesn’t want to, he’s protecting you. Elena, fight this.”

  I laughed again. I sounded so evil, so amazingly powerful. “Fight it. I’ve never felt this before. It’s fucking amazing.”

  “Don’t do this. Whoever you
are, don’t do this to my friend.”

  “Don’t do this to my friend. It’s still me, idiot.”

  “No it’s not. The Elena I know would never try to choke anyone to death, not even her worst enemy, or force a dragon to make an oath. You know what will happen to me if I ever break that.” He sniffed and wiped his nose with the back of his hand.

  “Oh, poor Cheng,” I cried animatedly. “Aw we gonna cry?”

  “Stop it. I need to get back to the academy.”

  “To do what, Cheng?” I yelled as he stopped the car and I realized that we were right in front of the academy.

  “To save whoever is trying to claim your dragon.”

  “He’s not my dragon!” I yelled again.

  “Whatever, princess.”

  “Yeah, that’s right. I’m the princess of Paegeia, and you just remember your promise.”

  “Go fuck yourself! How’s that for speaking to royalty?”

  He morphed and got ready to fly. I grabbed his one talon and didn’t even mind the cuts it made into my hand. The blood that seeped out of me looked so amazing. I tasted it and loved the saltiness. I wanted to taste more.

  He threw me onto the ground right before the gate shifted back. I was still wondering what Cheng could do. His theories weren’t the only things that wretched man wanted.

  “I don’t buy that you only have your theories,” I said when he morphed back and threw the robe that he carried in his other claw over himself.

  “I don’t care what you think.”

  I followed him as he marched through the main gate and down the cobblestone path to the main building. He opened the door and I slipped in after him.

  “Let me think. You can read minds?” I started to guess.

  “No, we aren’t as psycho as you,” he said.

  “Is that supposed to hurt me? I don’t read minds.”

  He turned around and I almost bumped into him. “Oh, I forgot, you just hear one. Your dragon’s.”

  “I didn’t hear his mind. It was Paul who put thoughts and things into my head.”

  He winced. “Really, Elena? Whatever makes you sleep better at night, sweetheart.” He turned around again and walked faster.

  I just rolled my eyes and followed him.

  Think Elena, Think. You were a Rubicon. You had his ability, what can you do…he promised way too fast…. “You sneaky little bastard. You can show people the truth, can’t you. That is why the Khumutsi wanted you. How does it work Cheng?”

  “Elena.”

  “Don’t deny it. You promised way too fast.”

  “Because you had your freakin’ hands around my neck, I couldn’t breathe and I didn’t want to die. I have a rider who is still young. I am his protector and I wasn’t going to let this lunatic take that away from him.”

  “You are so sentimental, Cheng. You bring tears to my eyes.” I burst out laughing again.

  Cheng shook his head and started walking again.

  “Tell me, how does it work? Cara used to show me everything, but I was too stupid to think that was our little special way of communicating. How, Cheng?”

  “Screw you.”

  “You wish. How?” I pushed again. “A touch,” I asked and it made sense.

  He stopped again.

  “Yes, by a touch you freaking maniac,” he said.

  I got closer to him. All the jokes gone.

  “Promise you won’t show them either.”

  He smiled.

  “I said promise, or I’ll go give Andreas a little visit right now.”

  His face froze. “Elena, snap out—”

  “Promise!” I yelled.

  “Fine, I promise I won’t use any ability to tell anyone who you are, but I also promise you this. If you hurt Andreas, I will kill you myself.”

  “Awesome. Now let’s go and see who is going to get their ass kicked,” I said and started to skip toward the Coliseum.

  “Girls, freaking fucking headaches,” I heard Cheng mumble.

  As we came near to the Coliseum I heard a familiar song. It hit me straight in a place I didn’t want to be hit. It was Lucian. Lucian had come back. I ran to the Coliseum and was surprised when Cheng was right beside me. The main gate to the Coliseum was shut and I looked up the wall.

  You’re not a dragon anymore, there is no way you will be able to make it.

  “Here,” Cheng yelled. “This gate is open.”

  I didn’t think twice and found myself in the room I’d only seen once: when Nicole had tried to claim me.

  Blake’s robe was sitting on the bench. I didn’t have time for him, I had to find Lucian.

  I ran to the gate where Cheng stood and my anger came back when I saw Arianna walking in the Coliseum with her hands in the air, wearing the shortest little skirt and a vest that managed to show her cleavage. An urge to kill her and eat her heart right in front of her father emerged in my core. I wondered what it would taste like.

  I bit my lower lip hard as Thunderstruck played and found Blake still in his human form, wearing the same expression as me. The only difference was his lip biting resembled someone that wanted to fuck her and not someone that wanted to taste her heart.

  I shook his image away from me.

  “We have to get her out of there, before she gets herself killed.”

  “She wants to claim him, let her,” I said.

  “Elena, he’ll kill her. She doesn’t have his ability, she doesn’t have the right blood flowing through her veins.”

  “Not my problem.”

  “Then help me save her.”

  “Um,” I said. “No.”

  He nodded a couple of times slowly and gave me his unbelievable smile. I just shrugged at him, finding it amusing. “Help me or I swear to you Elena, I will take whatever pain will be brought down on me and I’ll tell everyone who you are.”

  I froze. I didn’t like that. “You wouldn’t dare.”

  “You want to test me on that? You’ll be forced to claim him.” He smirked while looking at Blake. “It will be worth every single second of shriveling.”

  “Fine. What’s your mighty plan, four eyes?”

  “I’ll distract, you get her out,” he said and rolled his neck and shoulders a couple of times. He changed immediately.

  I pushed the button and Cheng flew out of the gate. I could hear the crowd’s commotion. I imagined those two idiots up in the tower broadcasting this great event to everyone that couldn’t be here, wondering what the hell was going on now. It brought a smile to my face.

  I crouched and glanced at Cheng who was dangling over Blake like a little irritating bird and when he looked up trying to snatch at him, I made my way to Arianna.

  “What the hell are you doing here?”

  “Chill, puss in boots. This wasn’t my idea. Believe me if it was up to me, I would’ve let you stay in here so that he could scorch your ass.”

  She hovered for a few seconds with her mouth gaping open.

  “Oh shit, I forgot to say princess.” I pouted. “So sorry, your highness.” If you went and looked up sarcasm, you would have found me.

  “What is wrong with you, your eyes?”

  “Don’t be jealous, now scoot or I’ll kill you myself.”

  Her eyes rose and we managed to duck one of Blake’s bolts of lightning. I started to laugh. “The boy is surely agitated today. Whoa,” I yelled.

  “I’m so out of here,” Arianna said in a tone I’d never heard her use before – fear. She ran like a scared cat back to the entrance.

  Another bolt of fire kept me from following. I just kept on laughing as it was so hilarious, and then everything disappeared as I heard a gate shutting.

  I looked over toward the entrance and saw Cheng and Arianna safe behind it.

  “You fucking bastard!” I yelled and got up to run to him, but ducked back down as Blake was releasing another jet of flame.

  Stupid, stupid, stupid. To fall for his trick. You stupid idiot. I pounded the ground with my fist.
r />   I couldn’t believe he’d played me like that. He only wanted me inside this ring to face Blake because he knew I was the only one that could. Well not today, Crown-Tail.

  Think, Elena, think. Here are people that care about you a lot. Use that.

  I started to cry, and really put all my fear into it. I looked at Constance and begged her with my eyes. Master Longwei started to give orders to send in a rescue team but Cheng refused to let them pass the gate. Arianna kept glaring back at me. The idiot hadn’t told them yet otherwise he would be shriveling in pain, somehow they managed to not pursue the rescue. I looked back at Master Longwei. He was my only hope as he was still waiting for them to come and get me out of the ring. He had a confused look on his face and his mouth was shouting orders I couldn’t hear because of the protection.

  Arianna’s dad was next to him, having a fit of his own which was clearly being ignored this time. Sir Robert was just sitting in one spot, staring at me with a knowing look written all over his face. So he’d had his concerns about me. Tanya said I looked like my father and now that I thought back, he’d been staring at me from the first moment I saw him inside their kitchen. I had just been stupid and misinterpreted it. He’d known all along, just like his son.

  Screw it, screw all of them.

  A pink flame passed me and brought me back to reality. A second missed me by inches.

  I’m not going to ascend. Herbert Watkins was my father and I’m the offspring of a dragon. I’m no child of a king and I’ll never be a princess.

  Come what may, the people of Etan will stay in Etan.

  The funny part was that I was actually enjoying Blake’s little game. My heart wasn’t even pounding and all the fear that I’d tried to mimic was just that, fake.

  I waited for the sucker’s flame to stop and the second it did, I rolled from behind my rock and into another one of Blake’s flames.

  It was over. I was dead. I didn’t even feel it touching my body, that was how hot and fast it was. I knew then that what Tanya had told me was a lie. She was a Green Vapor and they were known for their lies. I wasn’t the princess of Paegeia. I didn’t carry any special blood and Blake wasn’t my dragon.

  When his flame finally stopped, they would find nothing, not even my ashes and then Cheng would really be sorry that he’d ever tried to push me into this.

 
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