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       Frostbite, p.31

           Adrienne Woods
 

  Lucian’s mom gave me a tight hug. “The vault will open, you’ll see.”

  I nodded and took a deep breath. It’d better open.

  King Helmut and Sir Robert spoke softly to one another but I could hear every word they were saying.

  King Helmut was apologizing to Sir Robert about so many things.

  Sammy’s eyes glistened with tears as she just stared at them and she couldn’t help but smile. Isabel went over to her daughter to give her a hug. I wished Blake was here to see this.

  When all the media’s questions were answered Borgen came to fetch us and took us to the vampire tree.

  We came to a clearing and found a huge oak tree. There was a huge opening and many bystanders watched, mostly press and friends of mine with their families stood around.

  Borgen even asked a couple of people to move away from the clearing. “We don’t want you to get hurt when the vault opens up.”

  Gasps filled the air as they moved further and further away until Borgen was sure they would be safe.

  “How big is this thing?” Becky whispered.

  “Shush,” her mother scolded.

  My heart thumped louder and louder. “Please open up.” I mouthed fast with closed eyes.

  I could feel a pair of hands rubbing my arms and embracing me in a hug. By the smell I knew it was Lucian’s mom. “The vault will open,” she whispered in my ear.

  Becky and Sammy were right next to Lucille and Isabel. Sir Robert stood close to me. Constance took the spot next to her sister and they both gave me their identical motherly smiles. It was so creepy seeing them together.

  “Elena, this is it,” Borgen said and reached out an arm for me to come closer to the vampire tree. “Put your hand in the mouth.”

  I looked at the tree and saw the face of a dragon carved out.

  I glanced at Becky. “Does it hurt?”

  “Elena,” Sammy said. “Don’t listen to her. She’s overdramatic, remember?” She wiggled a finger and I laughed at how Becky bumped Sammy playfully.

  “Only a little bit,” Borgen said with a smile.

  “Elena who knows what is down there. Pain should be the last thing on your mind.” Becky finally gave her two cent comment and everyone laughed.

  The cameras stood ready and even the media was standing close to document this great event. I felt a pair of hands on my shoulders and I turned my head to see who was behind me. Isabel smiled. “It will open, Elena.”

  I gave her an unsure smile in return and closed my eyes as my hand touched the rim of the dragon’s mouth.

  If you made this to prove I’m who you say I am, then let it be.

  The prick came faster than I thought and I pulled my hand out. A drop of blood ran down my finger.

  Isabel’s soothing touch healed my bloody finger and I wished that I could fly away and not be here to witness what would happen next.

  We waited for what felt like an eternity. My eyes found King Caleb. Arianna and he had a smirk on their faces.

  “I don’t understand?” I looked at Isabel.

  “It doesn’t matter, Elena.”

  “No, I know what I saw. He was there. This should open.”

  “It’s alright, Elena. You don’t have to be here.”

  “See, what did I tell you. The girl is a fraud.” King Caleb addressed the entire crowd and the cameras where all on him. Some even took pictures of me.

  “Let’s go,” Lucille grabbed my hand softly and she started to lead me away.

  “Her father isn’t…”

  A huge clicking sound made all of us stop. Even my heart stopped. Everyone sucked in a breath and I turned around. Sir Robert started to chuckle.

  The earth started to shake softly as a biggest split I’d ever seen appeared in the middle of the clearing. It started to move apart and the opening grew bigger slowly. Becky and Sammy just stared as cameras flashed.

  My heart finally started to beat again, faster and faster and then it felt as if I could breathe again.

  “It’s opening, Elena,” Isabel finally said with tears in her eyes. I started to laugh as I looked at it myself and finally believed it with all my heart. I was their child. I was the princess of Paegeia. The bloodline of the Malone’s, not the last though.

  The opening finally stopped and it wasn’t as big as Borgen thought it would be, but it didn’t matter. I’d gotten what I needed. To prove I was theirs and that was all that mattered. Another clicking sound echoed and steps started to appear inside the hole in the ground.

  Tears filled my eyes and I wiped them away. I’d never felt so overwhelmed and happy in my entire life. I never had to prove myself to anyone ever again.

  “Guess it was just a bit old?” Borgen said and went down on one knee. He was followed by the rest of the onlookers all bowing down. Sir Robert went on his knee too and so did Isabel, Lucille and my best friends.

  What are they doing? My voice was gone as a million goose bumps crawled over my skin.

  King Caleb went down, Queen Gizelle and Arianna gaping as he pulled them both down too.

  It was a surreal moment. “Please, stand up.” I finally found my voice and lifted Lucille and Isabel who were closest to me up. “Please, rise,” I begged and all of them did.

  Constance and every woman who had been a mother to me had tears in their eyes.

  Queen Margerite found me and she hugged me tight. “Your mother was my best friend, Elena. I knew the minute I saw you that you belonged to her.” I looked at her with huge eyes.

  “Why—”

  “Princess,” Borgen interrupted, “The key is yours.” He handed me a huge copper key and my hands trembled as I took it from him. He kept his hand over mine. “A princess doesn’t show fear,” Queen Margerite whispered inside my ear. It was the first royal lesson I learned.

  I took a deep breath and gained control over my shaking hand. “Thank you,” I smiled.

  “So, you guys want to see what my parents put down there?” I looked at Becky and Sammy.

  “You’re damn right, I want to know,” Becky said and everyone laughed again.

  I nodded at Sir Robert and he took the lead down the stairs. I followed with my two best friends and Lucille with Isabel and Queen Margerite with King Helmut behind them.

  It was dark but Sammy lit up one of the handmade torches and the entire passage glowed. I found a huge door and Sir Robert and Borgen wiped the webs away that covered it.

  “Please, whatever is inside there, can we move it to a not so creepy place?” I begged.

  “I’m sure that won’t be a problem, princess.” Borgen laughed. It was followed by a couple of other laughs and I pushed the key inside.

  It would be just my luck if the thing didn’t want to turn.

  But it turned easily and clicked open. More locks opened and shifted out of place. My heart was beating like crazy and I blew out a deep gush of air waiting for the opening process to finish. Air released and the door opened slightly. I looked at Sir Robert and he nodded. I didn’t even have to ask him and I watched as he opened the door. I closed my eyes before I could see the contents. It didn’t matter what they’d left me, it was mine, mine forever

  VERYONE GASPED.

  “Holy fuck,” Lucille said.

  “Mom!” Becky teased. “But I’m with you. Elena! For crying out loud open your eyes.”

  It opened and I couldn’t believe what was in front of me. Becky pushed me inside as my own feet couldn’t find their way.

  It was a neat vault made of steel. Cages and cages filled with gold lined both sides. All of us were speechless. I walked to the end and another door slid open. It was filled with jewels. My father and mother’s crowns were both on pillows right at the end. And it had a third pillow with the most beautiful tiara I’d ever seen. Beautiful ball gowns and jewels lay open on the velvet shelves surrounding it. It was covered by glass that you lifted up but I was too scared to touch it.

  “Elena,” Sir Robert said and I found him at the entrance we
’d just come through. He had a huge envelope inside his hand. He handed it to me and I struggled to open it.

  I took out a thick envelope with my name on it. There were a couple more envelopes inside of it, with a couple of journals. I took out all the envelopes and saw Sir Robert’s name written in manly handwriting, and Blake written in the most beautiful cursive that graced mine.

  I handed Sir Robert his letter and Blake’s. He wouldn’t accept anything from me and if it was from my mom, he should read it. Sir Robert took both envelopes with caution. He closed his eyes when he saw his name on one of them, and tore the top open.

  I did the same with mine.

  It was a thick letter.

  “My dearest Elena,” were the first words on the letter.

  “I knew first love the minute I met your father, but I only knew what unconditional love was when I held you inside my arms. You were so tiny and so fragile, I can’t imagine what life will be without you and I hope with all of my heart that you never get to read this letter, because it will mean that I never got the chance to meet you again. I love you so much and I miss you like crazy. You were the only thing, beside your father, I ever wanted.

  To give you up in order to save your life was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’d fight twenty more wars if it meant that I could’ve kept you, but it’s not how life works.

  I’m writing this letter with deep sorrow inside my heart but knowing that one day you might read it, is the only pleasure I have.

  We left you everything we have, and hope that it will be enough for you to find it in your heart to forgive me.

  I tried everything to keep you, but the odds were against that the minute you were born. If only I was a Moon-Bolt and I could see into the future of who was going to betray us, I would slit him open from chin to navel to have you in my arms again. But again the Malones don’t have the luxury of knowing what is to happen.

  I love you more than words can say and I’ve written my stories down hoping that one day you will read them.

  I wish I knew the type of woman you will turn into, that Elena I would give anything to meet. And remember, I will always be with you until we meet again.

  Love, Mom.”

  There were more letters but I decided to read them later as both my friends hugged me while I struggled to keep my tears at bay.

  “Shhhh,” Becky said, but they didn’t say anything else, what could they say?

  There was another letter apart from my mother’s thick one. It was from my father. It read almost the same as my mom’s. How much he wanted me and how badly he wanted us to reunite. He also said if I read this, that he would be dead, but he wasn’t. He was stuck behind Etan and who knows what Goran was doing to him. I’d made a promise I should’ve never made.

  “P.S. Everything inside this vault is for you, except Vault F. It belongs to the Leafs, it belongs to my dragon.” A small key was inside that I assumed would open Vault F.

  I looked at Sir Robert. He still read his letter but he finally stopped and turned to the wall.

  “Why didn’t you tell me?” He spoke softly. I felt for him and Sammy and her mom both went to his side.

  “This would’ve been different if he’d trusted me with his daughter and not Tanya. She left when she was supposed to stay.”

  “Please don’t,” I said and went to him. “I told you, and I told my father that day, that Blake needed you more, and my father knew that. He did trust you.”

  “I would’ve stayed, you would’ve known who you were.”

  “I know who I am, if you’d left your family, what would’ve been the outcome? Everything was exactly the way it was supposed to be.” That was something Jako’d told me.

  He nodded.

  “Now wipe away that anger and help me find Vault F.”

  We all walked past the huge vaults and finally found numbers hidden behind the bars. The last one had a door. “This must be F,” I said.

  I took the key and pushed it inside the door. The vault opened and we all gasped again. Bars of gold were stacked on the shelves and black sacks which I assumed were full of diamonds took up a small shelf.

  I gave Sir Robert my letter. “Below, at the bottom.”

  He read the last sentence which said Vault F belongs to him and he froze.

  “What is it, Robert?” Isabel asked him.

  His eyes glistened with tears and he gave me a look and shook his head.

  “It’s not from me, it’s from him.”

  “I can’t. It’s too much.”

  “It’s what he wanted.”

  “Robert?” Isabel asked again.

  “What the hell is going on?” Sammy asked her father.

  He started to laugh with tears in his eyes and hugged Isabel and Sammy both. “This is ours,” he whispered. “My rider took care of us even in death.”

  “What!” Both woman yelled and he gave them my letter stating that Vault F belonged to the Leafs.

  Isabel cupped her face.

  “The bastard came through. He always came through. I should never have left his side.”

  “He ordered you away, Robert.” Isabel hugged him again, tears rolling down her own cheeks.

  “I could’ve stayed.”

  “You would’ve been in pain if you disobeyed him. He wanted you to live. I’m thankful every day that he did what he did.”

  He hugged his wife again and they both cried. “I miss him so much.”

  My father was right. I couldn’t tell him that he was still alive. He would have killed himself to get through those Creepers to be reunited with his rider.

  “I know you do, honey, we all miss them.”

  Sammy was still in shock. I grabbed her by the arm and gave her a long hug. “Neither of us will ever have to worry about anything ever again.”

  “This is too much, Elena.”

  “I’m glad my father left that for you, your dad would never have accepted the money I wanted to give you guys.”

  She hugged me again.

  “Who would’ve thought that the girl that struggled to accept this crazy place filled with dragons would end up becoming the person who will rule it one day,” Becky said and I pulled her in for a group hug.

  “You know what this means don’t you?”

  “That you’re filthy rich and have a shit load of power.” We laughed.

  “No, that you will become part of my royal court one day. I won’t be able to do this without my girls.”

  Becky grabbed me around my neck.

  “I love you Elena Watkins Malone,” she said and I laughed again. “I love you too, Becky Johnson Mills,”

  We all giggled.

  E STAYED INSIDE the vault just looking at the various things each section contained. It felt so unreal to think all of this was mine, and my mind wandered back to my father who was stuck behind Etan.

  He did all of this, him and my mom. They did know this day would come, they did know that no one would believe me and that is why they made preparations.

  I only took my parent’s journals and the letters they’d written more than seventeen years ago and wondered what it would have been like if they’d found out that it was Goran who would betray them. What type of a person would I have been if it was Albert and Catherine that had raised me and not Herbert who was constantly on the run, protecting the girl that killed his own daughter? How much did he hate me, loathe me at times? I tried to remember if there was a time he treated me unfairly, but I couldn’t think of any. I only remembered the times I’d treated him unfairly, blaming him because he was paranoid. If only….if only didn’t exist.

  Sir Robert opened the door we’d entered and we climbed up the stairs again. I almost bumped into Sir Robert who just stood on the top of th stairs. He moved away and housands of people were standing outside.

  They all became super quiet as I stood there, frozen in one spot. Then one by one they took a knee, just like the people had a couple of hours ago.

  I gasped when it be
came too much and had to suppress my tears as all of this was so overwhelming. A couple of hours ago, it was only a small party believing me, now, it was half of Paegeia.

  “Long may you reign!” one guy shouted.

  He shouted it again and this time a couple more joined him. It grew and grew until it was a chant that didn’t even seem real.

  Sir Robert touched my shoulder gently, tears in his eyes too as he stared at all that was before us. Something in his eyes told me it wasn’t the first time he’d witnessed something like this.

  He looked down at me. “Long may you reign, princess.”

  y mind was full of questions: things I just couldn’t comprehend. Why Al never told me about Elena, what he must have been going through.

  In the old days we shared everything, and I mean everything. I wasn’t just his dragon, I was his friend, his shoulder to cry on when nobody was watching, especially the time Katie rejected him, when she stopped living, crying all the time, fighting with him all the time.

  His men and I always thought it was about Tanya. I even thought that Al asked her to choose between him and her dragon, and that she chose him, letting Tanya go free.

  It was an easy thing to think as he never got along with Tanya and it was hard for him that Katie shared a dent with her, a bond so strong that we would never be able to comprehend how it worked. I was furious with him because of it, but I never questioned him as he was also my king.

  Now I know better, it wasn’t just for Katie that he cried but for Elena too.

  I huffed thinking of those times he tried to tell me so badly, but he always sent me away, telling me he wanted to be alone. I should’ve seen it, the way he used to look at Sammy’s Dragon figure, stare at her for hours. I thought it was longing for a child he could never have, not the one he had to give up because of Goran and Blake.

  How couldn’t I see it? When Blake and Elena find a way to get pass those deathly snatchers, I will find Goran, I will kill him, and I will laugh and spit in his face while my blade is stuck in his chest. I don’t care who his brother was, he betrayed us all. He will die, even if it’s the last thing I do.

  Footsteps entering the house brought me out of my string of thoughts.

 
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