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       Moonbeam, p.30

           Adrienne Woods

  I struggled to sleep that day. I spent the entire day in my room. Staff entered to bring me my meals. I returned it untouched.

  This was insane. She wasn’t going to send me to Dragonia Academy. How was that even possible?

  When I woke up, I prepared for my departure to the Elps. This was going to be three fucking long weeks. When the carriage arrived, I picked up my bag and went downstairs. Sir Robert was standing outside with my father and mother.

  I didn’t want to greet any of them, just went over the carriage and threw my bag onto the seat.

  “Elena,” my father said.

  “Don’t, just don’t,” I said.

  “Let’s just talk, okay? For a minute.”

  “I have nothing to say to you two!” I yelled at them both.

  My mother didn’t even flinch. She was a psychopath.

  My father walked toward me. Gravel crunched under his feet. “What you did—”

  “Don’t, Dad.”

  “Let me finish,” he said in his kingly voice. “I’m disappointed, Elena.” He had tears in his eyes. Mine welled up, too. My father had never said that to me before. “But you are human, you are still my daughter. Maybe I wasn’t hard enough on you and Blake. Your mother felt that she had to do it for both of us.”

  I shot my mother a dirty look. “It doesn’t justify what she did.”

  “I know we disappointed you, too. I’m sorry, sweet pea.” He pulled me close and kissed my head.

  I felt him put something inside my pocket. My curiosity sparked immediately but I kept my cool.

  “We’ll talk about the other things when you get back, okay?”

  I nodded. He looked over to my mom. I wasn’t going to speak to her. I didn’t care how much I’d disappointed her. The steely gray sky above reflected my emptiness.

  She just looked at me with her judgmental eyes.

  Sir Robert’s gaze was soft. All of them knew. It was so embarrassing.

  I turned around and opened the carriage door, when I heard a screech. I turned around. We all did, except my dad.

  It was Blake, flying in fast from the sky.

  I looked at my father.

  “Albert!” my mother yelled.

  “You need to make peace with this, Katie. This is enough,” he said.

  “I can’t believe you,” she said through gritted teeth.

  “Don’t start,” Sir Robert said to my mother. He was also angry at her, but I didn’t care. Blake was here. He came in hard. The earth rumbled and then he shifted. A servant rushed out with a robe and he shrugged it on in a hurry. Nudity just reminded everyone of what had happened. I ran to him and collided with his body. He hugged me tight.

  “Shh, it’s going to be okay,” he said.

  “It’s never going to be okay. She’s ruining my life.” I cried again.

  “I’m not going anywhere, Elena,” he said and I looked at him. His peacock blue eyes shone. He wiped mine with his thumb. “I love you,” he said. “I always have; I just didn’t know that until now. Sorry.”

  It made me more furious about what my mother had done. She’d kept us apart for two years. I’d missed two years of his life.

  “I’m sorry. I should’ve hunted your ass down. Then none of this would’ve mattered.”

  He chuckled. “You should go. Go learn some more tricks that will scare the living crap out of me.”

  I laughed. I kissed him. I didn’t give a shit if my mom was going to have a heart attack. Maybe then all my problems would be solved. I walked over to the carriage.

  Thanks, Dad. I mouthed and climbed in.

  The carriage took off as I put my hand into my pocket to see what my father had put in. I pulled out my Cammy. I burst into tears.

  It had been a week. Elena hadn’t phoned any of us. I wasn’t speaking to Albert because of that stunt he pulled. He’d completely undermined my authority.

  Now, I was looking for tutors. I wasn’t going to see my daughter pregnant at seventeen. They could forget about it. She would get her lessons right underneath my nose. She already knew half of her classes.

  A knock came on the door and Albert entered. He glanced over at the table and looked at the names and CVs on the table. “You’re kidding me, right?”

  I glared at him and dialed one of the numbers.

  Albert shoved everything off the table. Papers floated in a mess to the thick carpet. “Enough, Katie. What don’t you understand by enough?”

  “Don’t you dare…”

  “No, you don’t!” he yelled. I hadn’t seen this Al in a long time. “I told you this was going to happen when she found out. I wasn’t even the one doing it, but she hates my guts, too. If we lose her it will be your fault, not mine.”

  “And what, Al? I should just hand her a pack of condoms and tell her to enjoy?”

  He huffed. “Whatever works for you, Katie.”

  “Over my dead body!” I yelled.

  “Remember what you said,” he tried a different tactic. “When we waited for her to come back. To promise one another that one of us would always listen.”

  I remembered that day vividly.

  “You weren’t listening, not one bit. She doesn’t give a damn that she disappointed us, because we hurt her more. We, her parents, tore her heart out and trampled on it. The two people she needs to feel the safest with. Who do you think she will go to when she has problems? It won’t be us. It’ll be him. You drove her into his arms. You made it worse.”

  Tears welled up in my eyes.

  He barreled ahead. “I know you saw them, Katie. Heaven knows I wish it had been me, but I made peace with this a long time ago. You didn’t.” He had tears in his eyes.

  “Blake turned dark without her. We know what she is to him and you withheld that from him. I know you felt bad, but he had to fucking use Fire Caine just to control himself. It’s why we sent her away in the beginning, so that if anything happened to us, at least he would get claimed and we wouldn’t lose him. We almost did, because of you.”

  I closed my eyes, thinking about what I had done.

  “This is bigger than a mother’s jealous love for her daughter,” he said bitterly. “You lost sight of the fate of the nation. You’re supposed to be a queen. I don’t know who you are anymore. You’re losing yourself. This is tearing you apart, changing you into something you’re not.”

  The truth in his words stung. I started to shake with sobs. Al wrapped his arms around me.

  “When she comes back, she goes to Dragonia Academy.” He paused and met my eyes to see if I was listening. “And fuck what everyone says. If she gets pregnant, we’ll deal with it. But no more. I’m a king but I’m a father, too, and I don’t want to lose my only daughter.”

  I gasped. He doesn’t care.

  “I need to know that you are at my side. Apologize to Isabel and Robert. Swallow your pride. You were wrong, Katie. I should’ve never let it go this far.”

  I nodded. He’d used Fire Caine. What have I done?

  He hugged me again.

  Who the hell had I become? This wasn’t how I’d dreamt of raising her at all.

  It was time to go home from the Elps. The first day of Dragonia Academy’s new year had just passed. Not that I was going. Mom had made that very clear. I would probably have an entire school building all to myself. This was so unfair. I still couldn’t forgive her for that.

  Pappi tried giving me some wisdom. Why she had done it. I didn’t care why she’d done it.

  My father tried to phone me, but I couldn’t deal with them. I was just so mad at all of them.

  I called Blake a lot. I missed him. The first two weeks were great. We talked so much, but then I could see him fading again. He was grumpy, spoke about dark things. Why should we do this if I wasn’t going to go to Dragonia?

  I cried a lot. Especially when he didn’t pick up his phone. He was going dark again without me there. I hadn’t spoken to him in the past five days. I was worried that he was giving up on us. It would tot
ally be my mother’s fault.

  Pappi hugged me as I went to leave. “Thanks for letting me stay, Pappi.”

  “Always, he said. “As long as you learned how to keep your heart calm and to slow down everything, you will dance circles around him. Go get your dragon, Elena.”

  I climbed into the carriage. Training with Pappi and the Elps guards had taken longer than expected. They were an elite group of guards. Only the best of the best were chosen to become one of the Elps guards.

  I still had to choose a date, and if it was up to me, I would make it tomorrow. But I knew my father was going to want to make it a huge national event, as it was the first claiming in the Malone royalty line. Maybe we would see each other for the publicity he wanted to capitalize on.

  It was going to be big. I should deprive them of it out of spite, but I couldn’t.

  So for the next few days I went through a lot of training, to refresh everything I’d learned the past two years.

  I was still so upset. It made me feel sick at times. I didn’t want to live with this, or like this.

  When the carriage stopped at the castle, my father and Sir Robert welcomed me home. My dad hugged me. “Go give your dirty clothes to Maria.”

  I shot him a puzzled glance. I wasn’t going to unpack right this second. “I can do it tomorrow, Dad. There is no rush.”

  “Oh, really?” he said and squinted. “You need to go to Dragonia Academy, sweet pea. Classes have already started.” My father had a confusing look on his face.

  I stared at him. “But Mom said that…”

  He smiled. “I sorted that out.”

  “I’m going to Dragonia?” My voice turned shrill at the end.

  “That is what happens when you turn sixteen.”

  I shrieked and jumped up and down on the spot. “Thank you, Daddy!”

  “Don’t make me regret it, Elena.”

  “Never,” I said and ran into the house. “Maria!” I yelled.

  I still hated my mother, but she’d apologized tearfully. She hadn’t given me an explanation of why she’d done it. Just some nonsense that she wanted us to have a break because of how intense our relationship would be. Then she retreated into her chambers.

  That night my father discussed Blake’s claiming date with me and Sir Robert. I hadn’t ascended yet, but everyone believed I would if I faced him. I knew what would happen if I ascended. It was something my father looked forward to as I would see him. He would guide me through the entire claim so indirectly it wouldn’t just be me who was going to claim him, but both of us, and we always referred to ‘we’ when we spoke about my claiming Blake.

  Sir Robert had a huge grin on his face just listening to all of this.

  “Dad, two weeks for marketing?”

  My father laughed. “Okay, then when, Elena?” He was giving me everything I needed.

  “Next week. Please. He’s getting dark again. And fast.”

  “Okay, next week. I will arrange some tutors for this week to keep your mind fresh.”

  “And no Blake, Elena. He can’t be present when you train,” Sir Robert warned. “He’s really fast at picking up moves. He will use it against you.”

  My father blew a gust of breath from his lips. “You sure about that?”

  We all laughed. “Yes, he is the Rubicon. It’s not in his nature to yield. It will be a claiming we won’t want to miss.”

  They were looking forward to it. So was I. At least he’d stop shaking.

  I could only imagine what this claiming was going to be like. It was going to be big. Something I’d only dreamt off for the last two years.

  I tried to phone Blake, again no answer. I hated that so much. Why doesn’t he want to speak to me?

  He was driving me insane again. Making me worry for nothing. I sighed.

  I tried Lucian, but he didn’t pick up either. Where the hell was everyone? Sammy’s Cammy went over to voicemail, too.

  Dammit. One more night, Elena. Just one more night.

  I left early the next day. Like, really early.

  My father hugged me tight. My mother had a package in her hands. “Just in case,” she said and I frowned.

  “Fine,” I said goodbye without giving her a kiss and climbed into the carriage.

  “Enjoy your first year,” my father said. I waved at him. He was in my corner, controlling my mother for once.

  I couldn’t wait to get to Dragonia.

  I opened the package and flinched. It was a box full of condoms. How embarrassing. I put it in my bag.

  I took an elevator to Elm and another carriage waited for me at the port.

  It was amazing to dodge the reporters. My dad said they’d been at the Academy yesterday. Suckers. They’d be upset that they’d missed the photo op of the princess leaving for Dragonia.

  Everything happens for a reason, like Jako always said.

  I landed at six-thirty and was greeted by Master Longwei. He took me up to the girls’ dormitories. I just wanted to go and say hi to Blake. He and Lucian were sharing a room on the seventh floor.

  I would find it easily because he’d described Dragonia in detail to me during our first week of telephone conversations. His logic had been that if I sneaked off at night, at least I would knock on the right door. Of course back then, we hadn’t known for sure that I would go.

  It made me smile.

  My room was way up in the tower. On the top floor. It was quite high looking down. It was the biggest. I could understand why none of the other royals wanted this view. But I loved it. I’d always loved the sky. I was made for the sky.

  It made me think about Cara again. She hadn’t awoken, not once. But she was still with me. I knew it, deep down inside my heart. The Thunderlight who’d given her life for a princess.

  “Can I have a roommate?” I said.

  Master Longwei smiled. “As long as it’s not the Rubicon, Princess, yes.”

  I laughed. “No, his sister.”

  He nodded. “I’ll make the arrangements.”

  “Thank you, Master.”

  “Welcome to Dragonia Academy, Elena.”

  I smiled.

  I waited until he left and went to the boys’ dormitories. It was still early and I couldn’t wait to see Blake. I knocked on his door. My heart thundered inside my chest.

  Lucian opened, and his eyebrows shot up to the sky.

  “Surprise!” I cried and hugged him.

  “I thought you were…”

  “My dad overruled her. Where is he?” I spotted a girl’s leg sticking out from a bed.

  I raised my eyebrow at Lucian, but he didn’t look embarrassed. He looked guilty. “Elena, he’s really gotten dark.”

  I got what he was saying. I shoved him out of the way and stormed over to the bed. Snow white hair.

  “Where is he?” I demanded. She was alone in the bed.

  She woke up and saw me. If looks could kill, we both would’ve been dead.

  Lucian pointed at the bathroom. Fucking bastard. I went in. I didn’t even knock. I saw him leaning on his hand inside the shower. Water pouring over him.

  “Seriously!” I yelled. “That was why you didn’t fucking answer any of my phone calls?”

  “Elena?” He sounded confused.

  “Don’t you dare fucking Elena me!” I yelled. I started to cry. I swallowed it as he got out and reached out to hug me.

  “Don’t!” I shrieked.

  “Elena, please, let me explain.”

  “You are pathetic, Blake. Pathetic. I fucking hate you.” I ran out of the bathroom and past Lucian.

  “Elena, please.”

  “Just don’t, Blake, fucking don’t. You two deserve each other.”

  “No, please,” he begged as he ran after me with only a towel over his waist. “It’s not what you think. Please.” He grabbed my arm.

  “Get your fucking paw off me!” I yelled. “Or so help me, Blake…”

  He let go as if he’d been burned. I just hurtled down the steps as Luci
an reached us.

  I somehow found my room though blinded by tears. I thought my heart would burst. I collapsed onto my bed and cried like I’d never cried before.

  Classes resumed. I didn’t know if I was going to see Elena or not. The darkness surged. I’d done so much fucking shit that didn’t feel wrong at all, but I knew it was.

  I ignored some of her calls because of it. I was busy fucking up big time. She wasn’t here yesterday and I knew her mother had gotten her tutors.

  I got out of bed and tapped Tabitha next to me. How the fuck did this happen? Fire Caine, that was how.

  I was so out of it.

  I went to the bathroom. I hated the low from the drug, but it still kept the beast inside of me drained. I felt slightly normal and opened the taps. I should phone Elena today and explain everything. She was going to find out about this, and I needed to tell her before that happened. “Fuck!” I yelled as the water ran over my head.

  I’d seriously fucked up. I hoped and prayed that she would forgive me.

  It was the drugs, and even though I desperately tried to hide it from her, I knew I wouldn’t be able to. Not this time. She had to believe me that the darkness had taken over. I didn’t want to imagine what a complete takeover would’ve looked like. How bad would I have been if my happy place didn’t exist? If she didn’t exist.

  It was hard. I couldn’t.

  Two seconds before the door opened, I felt a strange lightness suddenly break through my mood.

  “Seriously!” a voice yelled. “That was why you didn’t fucking answer any of my phone calls?”

  “Elena?” I said. Oh, no, fuck. Please not this. I opened the door and saw her standing there. She had tears in her eyes.

  “Don’t you dare fucking Elena me!” she yelled again and started to cry. She took a huge breath and stopped. I went over to hug her. What was she doing here?

  “Don’t.” She sounded deranged.

  “Elena please, let me explain,” I begged.

  “You are pathetic, Blake. Pathetic. I fucking hate you,” she said and fled.

  FUCK! I pulled the towel off and wrapped it around my waist. I followed her.

  “Blake,” Lucian said softly. I didn’t care and followed her down the stairs. Plenty of eyes were on us.

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