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       Moonbeam, p.25

           Adrienne Woods
 

  They were gone for a long time. I was already on my second beer.

  “I fucking hate Lee,” Sammy said.

  “So do I.” She gave that knowing smile.

  “What are you getting at?” Sammy squinted.

  “Maybe she will work in a training session, kick the living crap out of an ass.”

  Sammy laughed. She sounded like a pack of hyenas. All of us joined in. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed this much. It felt good. Better than Fire Caine. Elena always was my happy place. Yes, in my head she wasn’t the girl I’d secretly marked to take down tonight as if she was prey. She was still that fourteen-year-old kid who’d broken my heart. I tried to tune in but there were soundproof walls. I didn’t like this.

  Annie kept me occupied. Every time I found her eyes on me, she knew exactly what I was doing.

  “Soundproof walls. Bummer.”

  “Yeah, yeah.” I gave her a lopsided smile. She was enjoying every moment of this. “Would you shut the hell up?”

  She laughed. “I’ve been waiting for the day when you finally realized Elena isn’t a little girl anymore. It’s so much fun finally seeing it.”

  I wanted to kick her. She was so cruel. But I laughed instead.

  Then Isaac clapped his hands. “Guess we should sing a bit. It’s why we are here.”

  “How much did she pay for tonight?” I said.

  Isaac gestured with his hands wide apart like a fisherman demonstrating his legendary catch.

  They went over and got the pair of hand drums and two guitars. One electric and another acoustic. He handed me the electric one.

  “What about some cover songs? You guys up for one or two?”

  The party attendees all shouted their agreement. A staff member—he looked familiar…David maybe? —turned down the music that was blaring over the speakers and switched on the mics and everything.

  Isaac started singing the first song.

  “I don’t care, Lee. Honestly.” I laughed.

  “Don’t say that. I made a mistake, Elena. Clair means nothing.”

  “We were never serious,” I insisted. “I told you.”

  The background music went softer and then someone changed the music. It played over the speakers of all the cabins. I just wanted to get back to my party and get away from this idiot who was now professing his undying love for me after he fucked up. The worst part was that I didn’t even care.

  It was a slow, haunting song I knew, though something was off about it. The lyrics had once meant something to me. I’d felt like a freak. That was why Blake didn’t like me, ignored me. He didn’t see what my mother and I were seeing. The artist had a deep, soulful voice. It wasn’t the band that performed it originally, though. It almost sounded like Blake, but it wasn’t him. I knew all his recordings and they’d never covered this song.

  I listened more closely. I could’ve sworn I’d heard this guy before.

  “What is it?” Lee finally asked.

  “Who is this?” I pointed with my thumb at the speakers.

  “It’s a fucking song. Who cares?”

  “You’re being an asshole. I’m going.”

  “No, wait. Please,” he begged. I heaved a giant sigh and sat down on the bed.

  “It’s because of Blake, isn’t it?”

  I looked at Lee. Tears were welling up in my eyes. Why did he have to mention his name? Where the hell was this coming from? “You are an asshole,” I said and went to leave again. I made it as far as the door, opening it, before he pushed the door closed.

  He clasped his two hands against the door with me in front of him. The air in the room was suddenly suffocating.

  Count to ten, Elena. You’ll put this guy in the hospital.

  The main electric guitar started to play. Cheering sounds came over the speaker. Was this a live version? I shook it off.

  “Elena, look at you. Why do you even care about him?”

  My face hardened. “It’s got nothing to do with you.”

  “Yes, it does, because I love you.”

  I thought my eyes would roll out of my head. “You don’t know the first thing about love.”

  “He’s always going to hurt you,” Lee said, petulant. “You know that.”

  “Then that’s my life. I can’t fucking turn around and run. I’m the only one who can claim him. You knew it the minute you laid eyes on me.”

  “Don’t do this, please.”

  “What do you want from me, Lee? You fucked this up, not me.” I laughed. I know the guy singing. Who is that? I stared at the speaker.

  Lee pushed my chin to look at him. “I know. I’m sorry.”

  “I don’t care. You can be with Clair if you want. Why don’t you get that? I want you to be happy. No hard feelings.” This was true. If I had been heartbroken, I wouldn’t have invited him.

  He set his jaw, which sported a pathetic dusting of whiskers that weren’t enough to call a beard. “I want to be with you.”

  I sighed. “I told you not to fall for me. We were just having fun. I’m not…”

  I didn’t want to think about it. His name had been mentioned way too many times today. Tears welled up in my eyes just thinking how fucked up the situation was. I still secretly believed I belonged to Blake.

  I stared at Lee for a long time. My mind was set. It was over. I felt trapped. He was still blocking the way out.

  Lee bent his neck, facing the floor.

  Don’t cry. Please don’t.

  He faced me again. No tears. Thank heavens. “Please don’t do this. I’m begging you.” The music stopped. If they fuck up my father’s yacht, I’m going to kill them. I wanted to get out there.

  “I need to get back, Lee,” I begged.

  The next song started to play. I cocked my head. It was also one of my favorites. I used to listen to this song and think I should be more patient when I was older, like the lyrics admonished. How was I supposed to know he would ignore me forever? Lucian should’ve never fucking phoned him today. He was going to dwell in the shadows of my mind for the next four days.

  I was so over this shit.

  “I love you, Elena.”

  I squinted at him, brought back to the moment. Why was he doing this? He’d been fine the past few hours. He’d sat and flirted with Clair and Soph right in front of me. Why was he so crazy again?

  The vocals started. I froze.

  “Elena.” Lee frowned.

  It wasn’t the original artist singing this. I realized it was Isaac singing the previous song. My mother had gotten The Shifters. This was her surprise.

  I hope you are going to enjoy your surprise. She didn’t want to give it away.

  This was Blake’s voice.

  My stomach dropped to the floor.

  “He doesn’t care about you!” Lee yelled. He could tell that I had figured out who was singing.

  I ignored Lee and shoved him away. I opened the door.

  Blake’s voice blared over the speakers. My heart was beating like crazy. I just needed to get upstairs. How long had he been here? Fuck. Lee. He’d known. That was why he’d dragged me down here. Why hadn’t I seen him?

  I slipped and fell on the stairs, slick with sea spray. I pushed myself up and ran the rest of the way.

  He was here.

  I opened the door that went to the deck. The podium was empty. The entire party was grouped in the corner. Everyone was swaying to the rhythm. I walked toward them slowly. Ty beat on a djembe between his legs with his palms. Isaac had a box guitar in his lap, playing. His long hair was loose. He caught my eye, smiled, and winked. He was singing backup to Blake.

  My eyes fell on Blake. Damn, he was more gorgeous than ever. Blake was singing his heart out with his eyes closed, his raven hair flinging across his chiseled face as he moved with the music. He strummed an electric guitar. He sang the song, his voice dripping with emotion. The words I used to say and feel. One day. Just be patient.

  Then he played the guitar again like there
was no tomorrow.

  I just stood there like an idiot and drank in the sight of him. Someone else had written a song I felt was made just for me. For us. And he’d chosen it to play.

  Blake belted out the chorus, eyes still closed. Strumming the strings fast. Really getting into the song. Isaac and Ty helped with backups. Goosebumps cascaded down my arms, my entire body. Only his music could do that to me. He was so freakin’ good.

  Then suddenly he opened his eyes as they reached the bridge and the song slowed down. He glanced at Isaac, who raised his eyes and jutted his chin toward me. Blake turned his head and looked at me.

  He finally looked at me.

  Those shimmering peacock eyes took me captive. I sucked on my lips. Tears sprang up in my eyes. He just stared at me, not taking his eyes off me. He didn’t miss a beat. But the words really were for me now. Or was I imagining it?

  I loved seeing him play. He kept singing, kept staring. My heart was beating like crazy. I even pinched myself softly.

  It was real. He was here.

  I broke the gaze, scared he could peer into my soul. My heart pounded as fast as the song. When I looked again, a slow, delicious smile formed on his lips. I couldn’t help but smile back. He sang and let out a whoop. His gaze finally broke as he looked at Isaac and they played together. Everyone cheered.

  A laugh escaped my lips just looking at them, enjoying playing on their instruments.

  Then the whole party sang along. Annie lifted up her arms like an idiot, swaying to the left and right. A couple of girls undulated their bodies, Soph included. Damn, why had I invited her?

  He sang it better than the original artist.

  Then the chorus came again. I couldn’t help but sing along with him under my breath.

  How many times had I sang these words?

  Everyone cheered. Fucking the song up. All of them gave it everything they could.

  It didn’t matter anymore. He was here. I pinched myself softly. Still hurt. He was really here.

  The song finally stopped. Everyone applauded. Blake bowed, putting down the guitar and getting up. He walked past the group. Straight for me.

  I felt like crying. Two fucking years of not seeing him. My feet finally found a way to move forward and I ran towards him as fast as I could. My body collided with his. I was in his arms and held on tight.

  He was hugging me back, which was a good thing. He turned in a slow circle, as if we were dancing.

  “You came! You actually came.” I hadn’t felt this happy for ages.

  Vaguely, I heard girls’ voices saying, “Aww!” They didn’t matter. Nothing mattered but this.

  He smelled amazing, like musk and something sweet. I never wanted to smell anything else ever again.

  “Well, maybe if you’d actually sent me invitations, Elena, I would’ve come sooner,” he spoke into my neck, all serious.

  I lifted up my head and looked at him. “I sent you plenty of invites. Why is everyone saying that I haven’t sent you invites? You never answered any of my crows.” I disentangled myself from him.

  “Have you smoked something? I sent you a gazillion crows, Elena.” His tone was still playful.

  I shook my head. “I didn’t get any. Not even when Pluggs fucking died.” I had tears in my eyes again.

  “Come here.” He grabbed me again, and just held me tight once more. I shut my eyes and forced myself not to hold on too tight. I didn’t want to stay in his arms too long. I pushed away.

  “Wow, look at you.” I changed the subject. “I just asked Sammy earlier what the hell they’re feeding you guys at Dragonia. You are huge, Plucky.”

  The whole party chuckled, which made me remember they were present. Annie laughed the hardest.

  “Why is she laughing?”

  “No idea.” Blake looked at her.

  “Isaac,” I said as I saw him. “Congrats on the album.” I hugged him. I’d missed all of them. Even though my mother never wanted me to go and see them record their albums, they were Blake’s friends, and the times I had met them they’d been all protective of me, just like Blake.

  “I’m not the songwriter, Elena.”

  “Hey, Elena,” Ty said and got up. He was a bad boy, just like Blake. Girls were crazy about him. He had no filter from his mind to his tongue, either, and said exactly what was on his mind. He looked at me in a way that made me uncomfortable.

  He took my hand in his and lifted it slightly up.

  “You want me to twirl next?” I sounded sarcastic and everyone laughed.

  He’d gotten buff these past two years. Isaac had gotten taller but was still lean.

  “Look at you. Ow!” he exclaimed. I blushed. He pulled me in for a hug.

  “I hope the two of you are finally going to sort out your shit tonight,” he whispered in my ears.

  “Ty!” Blake cried.

  “Tune fucking out if you don’t want to hear what I’m saying.” He shot a challenging glance at Blake.

  Everyone laughed.

  My eyes caught on Lee standing at the bar. The bastard. I was so angry. He’d known Blake was here. He didn’t love me. He just wanted to possess me. I shook my head.

  Ty squinted at Lee and back at me. “We need to take him out, Elena?”

  “No, I can actually take care of myself, Ty, but thanks for the gesture.”

  “Okay, just don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

  I narrowed my eyes. What was he talking about?

  Blake reached us again. “Enough. Just sit here before I end up with one less band member,” Blake joked. He pushed me gently down onto the seat next to Lucian, who was barely suppressing a chortle.

  I didn’t want to imagine what the joke was, but I laughed. Probably about me. I didn’t care. I was just happy that he was finally here.

  “Didn’t you hear what Elena said? She can take care of herself, Blake,” Ty said.

  “What-fucking-ever,” he chirped.

  Sammy handed me a beer. “Good surprise?” she asked, squirming herself in between Lucian and me.

  “You knew?”

  “Heck no,” she said. “I don’t even think he knew.”

  I smiled as Blake joked with Ty.

  “So what, I’m only going to get to hear two songs?” I said.

  “Not even close, Princess,” Isaac answered. “Which one next?”

  “Any,” Blake said. He took the electric guitar as they sang another cover.

  The next hour went like that. We listened to the three of them singing their hearts out, drinking in between. We all cheered and the next song would play.

  “How about we sing Elena one of the new songs?”

  “Ooh!” I clapped my hands.

  “Which one?” Blake sounded confused.

  “You know. ‘Home.’” Isaac muttered as he tuned the acoustic guitar. They were brilliant at getting guitar sounds out of anything that looked remotely like one.

  “Okay,” Blake said after he just gave Lee a stern look. Lee didn’t seem to notice. Blake had a huge grin on his face. “But we take this one on a faster tune. Just follow me.”

  He started to play. Ty laughed the hardest. Isaac smiled and followed Blake.

  Then Blake sang. Fast was an understatement. I couldn’t hear a single word. It was either too fast or way unclear. Just the chorus which was Home, I didn’t care if it was the East of Paegeia or the North, I just wanted to go home. And then he just spun out into la-la-las. Isaac laughed again. Blake stopped. “What?” He was serious.

  “Nothing, dude,” Isaac said. Ty laughed so hard that he couldn’t play anymore.

  “What was that?” I asked. “I hardly heard the words.”

  Blake shook his head while Isaac and Ty recuperated. What was with them? I didn’t get the joke at all. Annie sure did, she was cracking herself up.

  “Because I still haven’t figured out the words yet, it’s still a work in progress,” he said, very solemn.

  “Did your band smoke something? Because I want some of
that.”

  “They’re assholes, Elena.” He strummed the guitar again.

  Annie snorted and hid her face.

  Blake just shook his head. He didn’t look very impressed.

  “Okay, next song,” he said. They started playing another cover. I still wanted to know what the joke was about “Home.”

  My eyes caught Lee, who sulked in the corner. At least Clair and Soph kept him company.

  After the song, which gave me goosebumps again, they took a break and went to the bar with Lucian. I wished I had enhanced hearing as I looked at them. Annie was listening and I nodded at her.

  She looked at me with a raised eyebrow, started to laugh and shook her head.

  “What?” I demanded. I wanted to wield my shield, but she didn’t let me.

  Later, she mouthed, as her hand caught mine.

  “Fine, then why the hell did you laugh with ‘Home’? What the hell is so funny?”

  Later, she mouthed again. So there was something attached to this song.

  Lucian laughed hard at something. I saw Blake looking appraisingly at someone.

  Don’t look, Elena. Don’t you dare look at who is catching his eye now. I didn’t need to. It was Soph. She was so damn beautiful.

  They all came back, timing their strides with the gentle rock of the yacht on the rolling waves. Blake came to stand in front of Annie. I saw the way Annie stared up at her cousin through the corner of my eye.

  “Stop staring at me like I stole your fucking scales,” he said.

  “It’s so sweet, though.”

  “What is?” I said. Blake frowned at Annie. He picked her up, and then threw her overboard.

  “Nothing,” he answered. She yelped before she hit the water. A loud splash and then surprised shrieks came from the water. The whole party careened to the side, cackling.

  Blake pulled off his shirt. I gaped at his chest. He was built too last. What the hell? Sammy laughed at me as Blake jumped overboard. “I saw that,” she said.

  “Oh, shut up. When did he get so big?”

  “Last two years,” she said. “It’s good to see him smile again, Elena.”

  “I’m just glad he came.” I ignored that last statement. I decided I wasn’t going to misunderstand anything tonight and just let him have fun.

 
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