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       Frostbite, p.27

           Adrienne Woods
 

  He didn’t have the answer. He didn’t even know about me, he was like three, four years old. The queen kissed the baby on the head and brought her close to her chest.

  Both Lucian and I couldn’t stop looking.

  “She loved you, Elena.”

  I nodded and wiped away a tear again.

  He wrapped his arms around me and held me tight. We both jumped as Tanya walked into the cabin again. “We should go,” she ordered.

  “No, we’re giving Katie a month,” my father said.

  She looked at both of them with raised eyes. “Are you insane? Katie, we can come back when it’s safe.”

  “I want a month with her, that’s all I’m asking,” my mother replied in a stern voice.

  “No, she needs to go now. We don’t know who is going to betray us, or when.”

  “A month, Tanya. That’s all we’re asking!” my dad roared.

  “And what is going to happen after a month, Albert? Another month?”

  “Don’t patronize me. We need a month, it’s non-negotiable.”

  “You are putting this child and the Rubicon’s life in danger.”

  “Oh crap,” my mom said.

  “What is it?” both of them rushed to my mother’s side.

  “Opposite dent,” my mom said with worried eyes.

  Lucian started to chuckle. My father and Tanya just stared at her and they all started to laugh.

  “He will love her like nobody else, Katie,” my father said with a smile.

  “That’s not easing my worries here.”

  “I know. Mine neither. Make you a deal, the first ten years, we don’t tell them at all.”

  They laughed again and my mom cupped my father’s face who in return succumbed completely to her. “I love you, promise me you will find whoever is going to betray us and kill them, Albert. I don’t care who it is.”

  He turned his head, touched her hand gently and kissed the inside of her palm. “I promise you.”

  Tanya went over to my mom and lay behind her. She looked over her shoulder and down at baby me. She stroked the little face gently. “One month, Katie.”

  “Thank you,” my mom gave Tanya a backwards kiss on the cheek.

  The next couple of days Lucian and I were stuck in the cabin. I couldn’t stop staring at my mom and dad handling me. My mom breastfed and she even sang me the sweetest lullaby. It brought tears to my eyes thinking that one month was all she’d had. She didn’t get the chance to see me again like my father. I’d been so mean to her in my dreams.

  Lucian sat behind me against the wall and held me tight.

  Some nights my father walked with me in the room. We had our father-daughter dance at a very young age. I wish I could remember how their embraces felt. The dance was so beautiful.

  Lucian squeezed me softly as we could just watched and my eyes caught something at the entrance of the room. It was just a glance of another person, and then it was gone.

  “Elene,” Lucian asked. “What is it.” He looked at what I was staring. Nothing was there now, but I know I saw something, someone. It was there for a small second.

  “It’s nothing. Probably just my mind playing tricks.”

  Around the end of the second week, my mother panicked. I wasn’t moving. Tanya helped and they got me to wake up.

  They brought in a physician who Tanya compelled afterwards and he gave my mother the grave news. I was dying.

  Both of them cried for the next couple of days and I could see on Tanya’s face how it tormented her.

  On the third day after the physician came, Tanya sat both my parents down. She was crying but I could see in her attitude that her mind was made up. “She might not have to die.”

  My mom looked up. “A Swallow Annex won’t be able to heal her, Tanya, she’s too fragile.”

  “I’m not talking about healing, Katie. I’m talking about the Calupso potion.”

  Both my parents gasped.

  “Are you insane? It wouldn’t be the same. She wouldn’t carry our blood or be ours. She needs to be from our bloodline to claim Blake one day.”

  “There’s a way. I know it’s going to work.”

  “What way?”

  “My foretelling,” Tanya said and looked at my mom.

  By the look on my mom’s face she knew Tanya’s foretelling well. “One might not make it but two might do the trick.”

  Tanya nodded. “I never knew what it meant, until last night. Cara.”

  It was quiet for a while.

  “No, it won’t work. She’s a dragon, Elena is a human.”

  “Cara will die when she gets her human form, which will be Elena.”

  “You don’t know that, Tanya.” My dad was upset.

  “It’s the only thing that makes sense, Albert. Cara is a Thunderlight. They haven’t existed for hundreds of years. It’s going to work, but we don’t have a lot of time. She’s going to get her human form soon, and when that happens, we’ll lose our only chance.”

  “Are you sure it will be my little girl?”

  “Cara will die.”

  “I can’t ask you…”

  “You don’t have to.” Tanya looked down at baby me. “She’s important.”

  My mom kissed me again. “When do you want to do it?”

  “Tonight.”

  My mom cried again and my dad hugged her with me in her arms.

  “Two weeks, I only got two weeks.”

  “She’ll live, Katie. That’s the most important thing.” my father said quietly.

  My mom nodded. “What about Jako?” She looked at Tanya again.

  “He won’t give his consent. I’ll have to do it without his knowledge.”

  “Tanya…”

  “He’ll understand one day.”

  That night I met Cara. She was relatively big but still young. I wished I could touch her, tell her how much I appreciated this. So many people had died to keep me alive. Was it really worth it?

  We saw how Tanya prepared both the potions. My father played with Cara for a long time. He had a sad look in his eyes.

  Around nine Tanya took Cara outside the cabin and they left for a short while.

  “We can’t let her do this,” my mom said.

  “Do you have a better plan, Katie?”

  She shook her head.

  “Then it’s our only chance.”

  When Tanya and Cara came back, I watched how Tanya fed one part of the potion to Cara and my mom the other one to me through a bottle.

  She struggled as I was already so weak. She kissed me for a final time. Her lips lingered for a long time on my head. “Be strong and know I loved you more than anything in this world,” she whispered. My father was next and Tanya took both me and Cara into another room. My mother collapsed in tears and my father knelt down beside her and wrapped his big arms around her tiny body. Both cried as they just held one another.

  A strange feeling started to emerge in my stomach and I looked at Lucian.

  “It’s time to go,” he said and a strong force pulled us out of that time warp. We landed on the top of a mountain.

  We were surrounded by trees and the night was gorgeous with a million stars in the sky. Lucian went to sit near a tree and I took the spot in front of him. He wrapped his arms around me tight. “She loved you, Elena, both of them did. They never wanted to give you away.”

  “I know. It’s just so unfair, so many people had to die, Lucian. You, Jako, Brian, Cara….my mom.”

  “I’d die a thousand deaths for you. A part of me always knew who you were.” Our hands entwined with one another. “When you told me that day that you heard poems, I knew immediately. I just couldn’t put two and two together. How you’d escaped the Wall. I guess I didn’t want it to be true. Then my father told me right before I left why they’d changed their mind and who you reminded them of. That’s why he stared at you that night, because you are your father’s child, Elena. You have his eyes, his hair, except the rainbow thing.”

  I
laughed.

  “My mother told me you carry her as well. The way you are reminded her of Catherine.” He sighed. “When I finally got to speak to Tanya, it didn’t take long for me to guess. I just had to say your name. She was devastated by the death of Jako and that you didn’t know. I immediately knew that Paul was a danger and he wanted to hurt you, but I panicked, that was why the interference was so bad. I knew Paul was lying and I knew the darkness in Blake was too strong, otherwise he would’ve said something a long time ago.”

  “He knew?” I said.

  “Elena, you would’ve died if you’d tried to claim him with Cara inside of you. Nothing happens without a reason.”

  I shook my head. “He lied to all of us, Lucian. People died because he lied.”

  “Can you blame him? He didn’t want to be tamed, and that was not Blake. It was the Rubicon.”

  “I don’t care, he’s both.”

  “Elena, he will change.”

  “I don’t care! He hates my guts.”

  “I don’t believe that.”

  “Well I do. I felt it.”

  “There is another foretelling, it was the first one Irene ever saw. She predicted it when she was alone. It’s about a love so strong that it could conquer anything it wanted, change barriers and make history. The words to the entire foretelling are beautiful. Many tried to live up to it, but none could ever hold it. I thought she was talking about us, but it wasn’t us. It’s you and Blake. He would love you like no other, Elena.”

  “I don’t trust him.”

  “It doesn’t matter. The Blake I know will spend a lifetime earning it when he’s ready.”

  “I’ll never love him the way I loved you.”

  “And that is my biggest fear. That you will forget me faster than you think.”

  I stared at him for a couple of seconds and then our lips touched. It was a feverish kiss and one I didn’t want to end.

  “I want you to live, I want you to love again. Make love, have babies, Elena.” He touched my face gently with his thumb. “And I promise you, you’ll be happy. Just trust him.”

  I squeezed his arms and they wrapped around me tighter.

  Blake hurt me once, I didn’t know if I could let him in again.

  We kissed for a second time and the same funny zing feeling inside my stomach started to turn. I knew what it meant.

  “I’m going back?”

  “It’s time princess. This is the last time I’ll visit. I love you, Elena Watkins,” he whispered inside my ear and then everything started to fade.

  T WAS DARK but I could hear things going on around me. The clatter of a pan and Julia’s voice apologizing to Constance.

  I knew where I was without having to open my eyes. The pain I’d felt the day I claimed Blake was gone. I took a deep breath and struggled to open my eyes.

  “I think she’s coming to,” a male voice said. It was Sir Robert.

  “Elena, can you hear me?” Lucian’s mom asked.

  “Give her some time. She’ll get out of this soon.” I heard Constance putting them at ease. Her hand touched my head. “At least the fever broke.”

  My eyes opened slightly, I could see the outlines of a bunch of people around my bed.

  “Will she be okay?” Becky asked.

  “Just give her time. She’ll be fine.”

  “What happened?” I croaked.

  “My stupid brother. He’s such a coward,” Sammy sulked through a blocked nose.

  “He couldn’t control it, Samantha,” Sir Robert spoke softly. “It needed to happen.”

  “How do you feel?” Becky asked.

  “Like I exploded and was brought back to life.”

  “Yeah, sounds a lot like mine,” Becky answered.

  “Wait, you went through this too?” I opened my eyes more but my head ached and spun like a whirlwind. I closed them again as my entire face pulled at the pain.

  “Here, let me help.” Constance’s hands rubbed my temples softly. At first I thought she’d lost her magic touch when nothing happened, but when the swirling started to calm down and the pain started to disappear, it felt amazing.

  “King Caleb is trying to make your claim against Blake unofficial. He’s saying you are a dragon and you can’t be his rider.” Becky sounded angry. “He’s trying to get Blake to become Arianna’s dragon since you interfered.”

  “That won’t happen.” Constance eased her worries. “Blake is the Rubicon. Arianna won’t be able to control him.”

  “What were you thinking, Elena?” Sammy said.

  “The claim was legit. My foretelling was exactly that. I had to claim Blake in order for the truth to be revealed. King Albert and Queen Catherine are my parents.”

  Everyone gasped and I opened my eyes. Becky was sitting at the left side of my bed. Right next to me, Constance’s eyes looked worried. Her eyebrows knitted together. Julia froze in one spot right in front of my bed. Queen Margerite looked at the ground and on my right were Sammy and her father. Didn’t Cheng tell them? Urgh, my evil twin.

  “I knew it,” Sir Robert said.

  “Why didn’t Cheng tell us?” Constance asked.

  “Because evil Elena made him promise not to. I did horrible things to that dragon.”

  “Which I’m sure he will forgive, Elena.” Constance eased my worries.

  “What is it Margerite?”

  “She would’ve told me,” Queen Margerite looked at him. “Katie was my best friend…”

  “They were in danger during that time, Margerite, they wouldn’t have.” Constance carried on rubbing my temples.

  The Queen was my mom’s best friend?

  “She’s a dragon, how is that even possible?”

  “Easy,” I said. “I was sick and Tanya sacrificed Cara, her Thunderlight, to save my life.”

  They all looked at me and then back at one another. Queen Margerite closed her eyes. “She didn’t betray them, she sacrificed her child to save her sister’s. There is no greater love.”

  “She just left you?” Constance asked, shocked.

  “She was a Chromatic dragon. She said that my dad, I mean Herbert, Jako, whatever his name was, kept moving to all the big cities and she couldn’t turn into herself. She couldn’t stand it anymore and when my mom died, she was free to go back to Paegeia, so she left.”

  “Jako raised you?” Sir Robert asked.

  I nodded as I turned my gaze to his. He looked to the ground and hurt pulled all his face muscles downward. “He asked me to tell you that he never doubted your loyalty. He knew that you weren’t the one, but that Tanya got to my mom and she forced my father not to tell you.”

  Sir Robert looked up and stared at me.

  “He also regretted that he never told you. I saw it in his eyes. He told me that you would’ve stayed.”

  Tears welled up in Sir Robert’s hazelnut eyes.

  “I told him that Blake needed you more.”

  He closed his eyes and started to shake with tears and silent sobs.

  Sammy hugged her father.

  “It’s okay, my father loved you.” And he still does, but I’d promised not to tell him that.

  “That’s why he sent me away that night? The night of the Creepers.” Sir Robert asked.

  “He never doubted you.”

  “Thank you, Elena. Now I know what he was thinking.”

  “You’re welcome.”

  “Whatever you need, I’ll be there.” He put his fist on his chest and bowed his head.

  “Oh shit,” Becky said. “You want to tell me you’re a princess?”

  We all started to laugh as she just stared at me with huge shocked and surprised eyes.

  “I guess I am, but I’m not your typical princess. I have no fortune.” All of them laughed again, Queen Margerite the loudest.

  “You are like Katie in so many ways, Elena. She used to make jokes like you, no matter how difficult the situation was. She used to say that every cloud has a silver lining, and always saw the good when
no one else could.”

  “Yip, that’s Elena all right,” Sammy chirped and we laughed again.

  “So where is that dragon of mine?”

  Everyone fell silent.

  Oh shit, what did he do now?

  “He got up two hours after the incident and he left. We haven’t heard or seen him since.”

  “Wait, how long was I out?”

  “Two weeks.”

  My eyes rose. “Two weeks!”

  “Calm down, Elena.” Constance rested her hand on my shoulder as I tried to get up. “You need your rest.”

  “May I speak with the princess before she sleeps?” King Helmut walked into the infirmary. Everyone nodded but he waited for Constance’s approval. She finally nodded and I had to say goodbye to everyone, including Sir Robert.

  King Helmut took Sir Robert’s spot.

  “How are you doing? I didn’t see you much during Christmas,” I asked.

  “I miss him, Elena.”

  “I know the feeling.” I wished that I could tell him about our time spent together, but I would sound like a nutty person.

  His hand disappeared inside his jacket. “Your father…” he took his hand out and it was closed in a fist. “There wasn’t enough space for everyone inside the elevator. The door didn’t want to close and I wanted to get out, but your father pushed me back and shoved this inside my hand.” He opened up his fist and two beautiful matching rings lay inside his palm. “He hugged me once and said, “Keep these, until the right time comes. You’ll know what to do with them.” The door had almost closed when the entire floor exploded. We all crashed to the ground and I made a run for it. I thought my dragon was dead and I had just lost your father. He was one of my best friends, Elena. He saved my life. I think he wanted you to have these.”

  He took my hand softly and dropped the two rings inside my palm. They sparkled and looked brand new. “Caleb believes you’re still a dragon. He’ll try to cloud everyone’s mind, even the Ancients. There will be an investigation, and I’m not going to lie to you, Elena, it’s going to be hard. No human has ever gotten past the Wall without the Wall incinerating them, but if you left inside of a dragon, it might have worked.”

  “You heard all of that?”

  “Enhanced hearing. If you think you’ve got it bad now, wait until you get part of his essence. It’s ten times worse.”

 
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