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       Moonbeam, p.24

           Adrienne Woods

  They’d RSVP’d and I’d never really been in love with Lee. Sure I was used to him, he was a decent friend, and although the news of him sleeping with Clair did hurt, I got over it in record time. Someone else had already torn my heart to pieces.

  Lee was flirting with Clair and Sophie. Sophie was another girl from class. She was gorgeous with her dark hair and big blue eyes. Everyone was trying their luck with Soph, but she was picky as hell.

  It didn’t really bother me. I doubted Soph would fall for him. The rest was the guys I’d grown up with.

  For some reason, my dad hadn’t removed the podium on his yacht and the instruments. They had probably been left there from whatever event had been held last. Seeing the instruments gave me a twinge of grief. I missed Blake.

  I loved this yacht. So many good memories on it. It was where all of us discovered Blake’s love for music. He’d just picked up the guitar and started playing. His father hadn’t even known he could play.

  But that was then, and this was now. Nothing was going to ruin my sweet sixteen.

  We ate finger foods, then Lucian made a funny speech. Sammy made a cute one filled with kind wishes.

  I missed my mom, but this was her present to me, and whatever her surprise was.

  I got on the mic and threatened to kill my friends if they touched my father’s instruments. Two staff were on board: Mica, the captain, and David, who took care of the rest. Only they were allowed to touch the equipment.

  Then we started to party.

  Around half past two in the afternoon, the music blared from the speakers. I was on my first wine cooler. I took a few drags of Lucian’s cigarette as I lay baking in the sun on the roof of the yacht.

  “Why were you almost late?” I asked him, handing him back his smoke. “Do you know how worried I was?”

  “Why? Thought I wouldn’t show?”

  I grimaced. “I’ve been let down before.”

  He frowned. “Why didn’t you send him an invitation, Elena?”

  I stared at him. “You’re shitting me, right?”

  “No, I’m serious.”

  “I sent him one, Lucian.” I wiped a bead of sweat from my brow.

  “When?” He took another drag.

  “A few days ago.”

  “So he would’ve been at the manor?” he asked, frowning. “I phoned him this morning, Elena. He said he didn’t get one.”

  “Bullshit. He is my dragon whether I love him or hate him at the moment. He’s always gotten an invite, Lucian.”

  “Bullshit, Elena.” He threw my word back at me. “I know you Malones. You and your mom can hold grudges like no man.”

  “Seriously, is that what you think of me? That I’ve been holding a grudge for two years?”

  “Elena, you didn’t even answer him when he sent you that note about how sorry he was about Mr. Pluggs.”

  I froze. “He knows about Mr. Pluggs?”

  “Of course he does. He loved that monkey as much as you did. I was asking him why he was such a douchebag and he told me to just let it go and I let it slip that the Wyverns killed Mr. Pluggs. He wrote you a really nice message. He was heartbroken. I saw the crow.”

  I felt dizzy. “I didn’t get any message.” I started to get upset. If Lucian saw this, then why didn’t I get a message?

  “Something doesn’t add up, Elena. Either he’s lying, or you are. And I saw the crow.”

  I pushed myself up. “I swear to you, I never got his message, Lucian.” Tears welled up in my eyes. “I thought he hated my guts and that Mr. Pluggs meant nothing to him if he couldn’t even put our differences aside and just send me something about how sorry he was. Do you know how hard it was for me to get over that?”

  “Okay, calm down. None of this is making any sense. I’m going to phone him. I need to find out what the hell is going on.”

  He would do that for me? But then again, it was Blake. He knew Lucian was here. He wasn’t going to answer. It would just end up disappointing me again. I started to pace as Lucian took his Cammy out.

  “Sit down. You’re making me nervous.”

  I was the nervous one. But I plunged down next to him, staring at his Cammy as if it might bite.

  “You’re telling the truth, aren’t you?” he asked.

  I nodded.

  He brought the Cammy up to his mouth. “Blake Leaf,” Lucian spoke. His Cammy rang slower than the beating of my heart.

  It was that time again. I needed a fix before the gig. Tabitha laughed in my ear as I wedged myself on top of her.

  Then my Cammy rang. Probably Isaac to find out where the fuck I was. Why didn’t he just tell me where the gig was?

  It was Lucian. My face fell. I chucked the phone in my nightstand.

  “Aren’t you going to answer that?”

  “Nope.” I smiled again.

  Her smile disappeared. “Who is it?”

  Her insecurities came back. “It’s Lucian, woman, probably wanting to know if he can shag Elena. Who knows what he wants?”

  I thought it would make her laugh, smile, anything. But she just got angrier.

  “And you are not answering?” Her expression turned to ice.

  The ringing stopped.

  “What are you implying?”

  “You don’t want anyone near her! That is what I’m implying, Blake. It’s why you aren’t answering your Cammy. Because you don’t want to give him permission.”

  I grunted. “It was a joke, Tabitha.” I got up from the bed and went into the bathroom. When I came back in, my Cammy rang again.

  Lucian. What the fuck did he want? I didn’t pick it up.

  “Pick it up. Tell him he can do whatever he wants with Elena.”

  I gave her a scowl. Nobody will ever tell me what to do, especially a pathetic Snow Dragon. I hit the disconnect button.

  “Problem solved. Now get out of my room. I have a gig tonight.”

  I should’ve known. “Hate to say this, but he knows you’re at my party and…I told you so.”

  He saw the disappointment on my face. Why did I even hope for this?

  “That fucking asshole. He’s been lying to me all this time.”

  “Don’t. Believe me, he’s only going to give you restless nights worrying about all the shit he doesn’t do. It’s not worth it, Lucian.”

  I got up as the yacht stopped in the middle of the ocean. “I’m going to swim, since this is my party. So you can either sit here and sulk, or you can come and join us.” I went back downstairs. Everyone cheered as I reached the bottom.

  I was the first to jump overboard. I hurtled through the air, free for one millisecond. This is what it’s like to fly. Then the water engulfed me.

  When I resurfaced, everyone was cheering from the side of the yacht. Lucian backed up out of sight, ran and cannonballed into the water.

  After our swim I went to the bathroom for a cry. I couldn’t help it. I missed Blake so much. I wanted so badly for him to pick up that phone, but he hadn’t.

  Sammy found me in the bathroom. I let her in and she hugged me tight. “Why are you crying?” She let go of me and I covered my eyes.

  “Is it about Lee?”

  “Just drop it, Samantha.”

  “Elena, he’s an asshole. I don’t know what you saw in that guy.” She was deadly serious. A laugh burbled up through my tears; she always misunderstood everything.

  “You are right. Big asshole.” I pretended that it was Lee. I would die if Sammy found out that I’d kissed her brother two years ago, and that I was still missing him like crazy.

  “Big asshole. Let him take Clair.”

  I let her help me clean up and returned to the party. All the while I was plagued by a single thought: What if Lucian was right and Blake never got the invite?

  I had time for one beer at Ernie’s. Isaac didn’t offer many details about the gig, just that it was intimate and it would only be Ty, Isaac, and me in attendance.

  Lucian’s phone call had upset me, not to mention T
abitha’s jealous reaction. Why had he phoned?

  By the time I’d finished my beer, Ty was surrounded by girls. He flirted like crazy and took down a couple Cammy numbers. Maybe I just needed to get laid. No, I needed Fire Caine. I felt like I was going to kill someone.

  Isaac paid the bill and nodded for us to go.

  I’d thought the gig was here, but we climbed into Isaac’s Jeep and he drove to the docks.

  “Dude, where the hell are we going?” Ty leaned in between the two front seats.

  “Private party,” Isaac said. He parked the Jeep and got out.

  I saw a small speed boat. A yacht. Arianna had had her last birthday on their yacht. I blew out breath. At least it wasn’t the castle.

  The only thing I was worried about was that phone call and Lucian. My phoned had beeped when I left the manor and I hadn’t checked the message.

  I took out my phone and read it as the boat was speeding to the party. It was from Lucian.

  Elena said she sent you an invite. You should’ve fucking canceled the gig and just came.

  “Dude,” Ty said next to me. “You okay?”

  I felt like throwing my Cammy in the ocean. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I grunted.

  We neared a yacht. It was one of those parties. As we slowed down, a couple of the heads looked over.

  “It’s The Shifters!” one girl shrieked.

  I looked at Isaac, not impressed.

  He shrugged. “The pay was really good.”

  “What?” I heard a familiar voice. Arianna?

  Her head appeared from the railing as we pulled it. “You’ve got to be fucking shitting me!” she said. She ran to what was probably the stairs where the boat was pulling in.

  “Whose party is this, Isaac?”

  He didn’t look at me, just smiled. “You need to sort out your shit, dude. The queen requested us.”

  Shock trickled down my scalp, leaking a horde of goosebumps in its wake. “You’re fucking kidding me.”

  Ty laughed. “The princess’s sweet sixteen, ouch!” I wanted to bash his head into the fucking yacht.

  “You are here, with or without a fucking invitation. Suck it up,” Isaac said as Ty climbed out first.

  I could hear them greeting Lucian and Annie. Then I heard Arianna being overly fucking friendly as usual.

  I wanted to fly away, but I knew Elena was onboard. Heaven knew I missed her, and heaven knew how Lucian’s words had been bothering me. I needed a fix. I wondered if the effect she had on me still worked.

  I was nervous as hell.

  Isaac and Ty were already onboard as I was contemplating this.

  “Come on, you big baby. She doesn’t have fangs.” Arianna beckoned from the stairs and I decided…what the hell. She reached out her hand. I ignored the friendly gesture and jumped onto the steps.

  The minute I reached the top, I felt dizzy. My mood was fading. It still worked. It was because of her. She was near. She always had this effect on me. Where the fuck was she when I couldn’t hold on?

  Arianna wrapped her arms around me as someone spat out their drink. “You made it,” she said softly into my chest. She’d tried to get me to join her party, but I hadn’t.

  Lucian just shook his head when he saw me. “Glad you’re fucking here. She is going to pee herself.”

  My lips curved at the way he’d said it. Arianna let go of my waist.

  I slap-shook Lucian’s hand, which we hadn’t done in a long time. I was usually so pissed off. But tonight I would feel like myself again. I really missed that feeling.

  I walked out onto the yacht and looked around. There was no sign of the brat.

  Isaac and Ty had already made themselves comfortable on the soft pillows that were packed all around the edge of the yacht.

  “So, where is the birthday brat?”

  Lucian winced at my word choice. He looked around. “Where’s Elena?”

  “I think she’s with Sammy and Olivia somewhere,” one of her friends answered. When she locked her gaze on me, she spat out her drink. I just shook my head.

  The guy who sat across from her looked over his shoulder and gave me a challenging stare. I tried to ignore it. I didn’t know the ass from anywhere. He was probably pissed off that we’d just ruined the eighty percent chance of him getting laid tonight.

  “What the hell is he doing here?” he asked. I ignored it.

  Where Elena had gotten all these friends was beyond me.

  My eyes locked with Sophie. Fuck. I felt like a jackass. I didn’t even look at her again. Pretend that I don’t know her? Yeah right. You fucking know every inch of her body.

  Annie jumped straight into my arms. “You came!”

  “I’m with the band, jelly bean. I had no choice.”

  She gave me that look, the one that begged me to tell her how the hell I pulled this off.

  “I don’t know how Isaac did it,” I said dismissively.

  “I didn’t,” Isaac chirped. “The queen phoned me, ass.”

  I squinted. “That’s a first.”

  Annie laughed, climbing off me.

  “So the ’rents here?”

  “Nope, just us. Her mom said she could do whatever she wanted tonight.”

  “What?” I said, shocked. Her mom never gave her a fucking break. What was she planning? She despised me. It’s a trap.

  “Chill. Relax. I’ll get you a beer.”

  I went over to Isaac and Ty in the corner with Lucian. Arianna and one of the other girls came over. In less than five minutes, foxes in bikinis surrounded us. I hated to love it. I considered who would be the lucky one tonight. I was just getting it on with Tabitha when we’d had that fight. I needed release.

  Lucian lit a cigarette and handed it to me. I cupped my hand over the cherry to protect it from the incessant sea breeze.

  Annie couldn’t stop smiling.

  One of the girls was already flirting, but when she saw she wasn’t getting any attention from me—just monosyllabic answers—she flirted with Ty. I’d already decided she wasn’t the one.

  Some of these girls were hot. But Sophie was by far the most beautiful. She reminded me of Irene with her dark hair and big blue eyes. Maybe we could make up. She was sitting with the guy on the opposite side.

  My eyes then caught on Sammy exiting behind one of her friends on the deck. I was still waiting for Elena to come out.

  They went over to the bar and I leaned past Annie to look at the girl whose back faced all of us.

  She had a light shade of blonde hair cropped in a messy bob. One of the rich kids. She wore a knitted dress that barely concealed a tan bikini. She was built like a fox and had an ass like a racehorse. I glimpsed the tattoo on her shoulder: the Rubicon symbol. And we have a lucky winner! Just my type of girl.

  Still, Elena didn’t show. Where the hell was she?

  The girls downed a shot. Sammy laughed and downed another one.

  I’d seen plenty of gorgeous backs and then they’d turned out to be dog ugly. I just wished this mystery girl would turn around.

  Annie turned to see what I was staring at. She smiled even wider. “Plucky, stop staring,” she whispered.

  “What? I can stare if I want. They’re my eyes, not yours.”

  She laughed again and I saw the same guy who’d given me that look, walking over to them, leaning over the blonde.

  “Can we talk?” he said.

  The girl didn’t answer, but they left together. A challenge. Even better. I smiled and wiggled my eyebrows at Annie.

  She grinned and closed her eyes, shaking her head as if she knew exactly what had formed inside my head.

  “Damn some of these girls are foxes,” I said to Lucian and he laughed.

  He looked at me. “There’s plenty to go around, dude.” He smiled at one of the redheads. “It’s why I’m glad I received an invitation.”

  We laughed.

  “You guys are disgusting,” Annie said.

  We both shrugged with innocent expressions on ou
r faces that said, “What?” We were teasing the living crap out of her.

  “I know you, Blake Samuel Leaf, and thank heavens I’m your cousin.”

  We laughed again.

  “Someone caught your eye?” Lucian said as I kept staring at the door, waiting for Elena to exit.

  “Oh,” Annie answered in a singsong voice on my behalf. “The one who just left with Lee.”

  Lucian looked over at Sammy, who was still standing at the bar. She looked pissed off as she sipped her beer. “He did what?”

  “Relax, Lucian. That girl can take care of herself,” Annie said with a sly smile. “She is, after all, going to tame the mighty Rubicon in a few months.”

  I spit out my beer and coughed.

  Both of them laughed.

  “Dude, you okay?” Lucian asked and tapped me hard on my back.

  I kept blubbering for a second, in pure shock. “That was…Elena?” She has a fucking tattoo. She’s hot.

  “Yes, Plucky, you perved over Elena,” Annie laughed.

  “Told you she’d grown up,” Lucian chirped. “But dude, that Lee.” He had that laugh he usually reserved for when he was extremely irritated with someone. “Promise me you’ll make him disappear. Devour him or something.”

  I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “I’m not a cannibal.”

  That was Elena? Man…

  They both laughed again, probably at the doofus expression on my face. “You’re fucking with me, right?”

  “I hate to say it, Blake, but…” Lucian gave a dramatic pause. “I told you so.”

  I wiped my hands—which were now sticky from my spilled beer—on my jeans. “Who the fuck is Lee?”

  All of them burst out laughing. This wasn’t funny, not one bit.

  “Warned you about that, too.”

  I didn’t like the way he said it. The fucknut had been flirting with that other girl. I’d fucking kill him if he was going to break her heart. I’ll kill him just for the fun of it. She wasn’t his to start with. Calm down, Blake. Just calm down. I took a huge breath. Then I remembered that Christmas. She’d had a boyfriend. It couldn’t be the same guy, could it?

  Sammy finally discovered we were here. She was just as excited as Arianna when she saw me. She wanted to go get Elena, but Annie just told her to give them some time. I hated my cousin at times. She loved pushing my buttons.

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