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       Moonbeam, p.32

           Adrienne Woods
 

  “Ever imagine a life where you didn’t grow up with Blake?”

  I didn’t want to. I shook my head, trying to suppress my tears.

  “Your mother killed him. For you. You want to know why she believed Cooper and Merica?”

  I gazed around the room for something to anchor me amidst the revelation. My mother killed Goran. She killed her Blake!

  I shook my head. She’d trusted them with everything she had.

  My father leaned against the glass partition of the buffet. “Because Merica told her if she wasn’t going to do it.” He had tears in his eyes again. “It would be her life.”

  I squinted. “I don’t understand, Dad.”

  “Blake will gain an ability at the age of thirty, Elena. He will be able to jump back into time, not just space. You, ten years from now, jumped back to warn us of a darker future. Your mother gave you a different life. So it wasn’t Cooper and Merica scaring her into what you and Blake would become. It was you and Blake showing her how strong your bond will be one day.”

  I frowned. “You know how strange that sounds, right?”

  “I do, but your mother isn’t the lying type. Well, not before the past sixteen years.”

  A part of me was held onto my anger with her, but a part of me finally understood why she’d withheld my letters. Why she was always so crazy.

  “She always knew the two of you would end up together, Elena. She just wanted to slow it down a bit. But she realizes now how stupid that was. The measures Blake had to take to stay in control.”

  “He told me.”

  My father closed his eyes. “That couldn’t have been easy, telling you that.”

  I nodded. I knew it hadn’t been.

  “So the best I see it is take all your anger, and claim your dragon. Let all of this stop, Elena. You only have this one chance.”

  I nodded wiped away my tears. Cooper and Merica were us. It’s why my family never tried to find them, why they weren’t worried about the spare Rubicon. Because it was us from the future.

  What was my life like? I didn’t want to imagine it. I couldn’t. And I knew that whatever Blake did, I would forgive him. He didn’t know better.

  I crawled over to my father and hugged him.

  “He is actually a good boy, Elena. He never meant to hurt you. We all saw it, what you guys will become. He adored you.”

  I sniffed again.

  “So screw the big claiming, and just claim your dragon. Now.”

  I nodded.

  My father vanished.

  “Dad!” I said.

  “I’m here, sweet pea. I won’t leave. Ever.”

  Everything started to move again. Time sped up.

  “Elena!” Blake roared. I jumped out and pelted him with pots and pans.

  He didn’t back away. He unleashed his first ability on me.

  “Lightning,” my father said. “Good, Elena. Own it.”

  It rippled through me first. It hurt like hell, but it started to feel like nothing. Then I took control of it and released it in his face.

  He staggered back, his tail hitting the wall and the entire cafeteria rumbled.

  Cracks ran up the wall like a deadly spiderweb.

  “Take cover, Elena!” my father yelled. I scurried for one of the tables, slid underneath it, and covered my body to protect myself from the pieces of ceiling that were starting to come down.

  I saw the Pink Kiss dancing off the walls. Blake was disintegrating them as they fell.

  When the ceiling didn’t fall anymore, I rolled out from underneath the table. He breathed fire on me. I screamed and from the searing heat.

  “You are immune, own it, Elena.”

  The pain vanished. I took control of the Pink Kiss. I threw it back into his face. Every time a ball of fire left my hand, a new one appeared.

  My lips curved. This was so freakin’ awesome. Fire and lightning balls pelted him, left, right, and center.

  He tried to gas me to get me to stop and it worked, but only for a few seconds. Next he spewed acid spit to burn me.

  He didn’t once back off or take it easy on me. He gave it his all. He refused to yield. Maybe he couldn’t. This beast was so different from his human form. Part of me had always known that this was the real Blake. The human was just his mask.

  My father cheered in my head as I ducked and slid between his legs, trying to get the upper hand.

  I found my opportunity as I jumped on his tail. I was on his back in two seconds.

  “Slow down, Elena. Don’t kill him,” my father cautioned.

  I needed to bring his ass down. The entire cafeteria was ruined. I concentrated on the earth’s gravity. Felt how it rippled through me. Felt how his hulking figure fought against the forces of nature.

  “Yield!” I commanded him.

  “Never!” he roared.

  I concentrated harder. I used the gravity—all of his abilities—to overpower him as he convulsed beneath my feet.

  “Careful, Elena!” my father yelled.

  Blake shuddered to his knees. I tumbled off his body, hitting my head hard against a rock.

  My eyes zoomed out. I could see his massive figure collapsing. He didn’t get up.

  “Whoa!” my father yelled. “We did it, sweet pea. We did it. You got your dragon.”

  My father’s voice faded. I felt a force fill my entire being. Something massive, strong, and fierce expanded in my soul. It grew so big, too big. It wanted to tear me apart. I screamed a long, anguished howl. It felt like I’d broken in two. Everything went dark.

  FUTURE MEETS PRESENT.

  Life came back to me. It was light, beyond my eyelids, but I kept my eyes closed.

  Something was wrong. I was missing Blake’s voice in my head. The last thing I remembered was the Beam. I had been flying on Blake’s back.

  I couldn’t remember anything else, or the reason I was lying on a bed. We’d just told my mom what she had to do. She needed to kill Goran; otherwise she would die. My eyes fluttered open at once.

  I found myself looking at a fan spinning really fast. I knew that fan all too well. I’d spent so much time waking up staring at it. What was I doing in Dragonia’s infirmary?

  “Good, you’re awake.” I heard my father’s voice and I found him on a chair next to my bed, reading the newspaper. He set the newspaper on the nightstand and smiled at me.

  I looked to my other side. There was no sign of my mother. A horrible feeling flashed over me. No, please, no. She believed me. I know she did.

  My lip started to vibrate as my father stared at me with soft eyes.

  “I know it wasn’t what you planned, sweet pea. I was shocked, too, but…”

  The floodgates of memory opened. I had been so sure that she would’ve done it. Killed the son of a bitch and been here.

  “Elena,” my father’s tone changed to worry. “You’re scaring me. What is it?”

  “We failed, didn’t we?”

  He frowned. “No, we claimed Blake, Elena.”

  I looked up. “What?” I hadn’t expected that answer.

  “You claimed Blake, you were out for about three days.” He smiled. “We didn’t fail.” He touched my cheek. And then I saw it. His face was burn-free. Not even a trace of that ugly scar on my father’s neck and side of his face remained. He smiled. “You have tamed your dragon. I didn’t think it was possible on the first try, but you did it. You do have Master Longwei to worry about.”

  Oh crap. What happened?

  “But,” my father carried on, “the cafeteria is back in place, so you don’t need to worry about that. Just so you know, the cockroaches aren’t happy that they didn’t get their coverage of what was going to be the biggest claiming ever.”

  Biggest claiming ever? I frowned. “What are you talking about?”

  My father looked concerned. “It’s okay. You are a bit disoriented after receiving all your abilities. Well, that must have been a hard knock.”

  “Disoriented?” I spoke sof
tly to myself.

  “Elena?” My father sounded worried.

  My hand clutched my hair. It was cut short. But I didn’t worry about that now. It would grow back. “We failed, Dad!” I yelled. I didn’t save her. I’d tried so hard. “What happened?”

  “Baby, calm down. You’re starting to frighten me.”

  “I really thought she would be here,” I cried. “I failed…”

  “Oh, look who is awake,” a woman’s voice came from the door. I froze. “The cafeteria. Seriously. What happened to the big event, Elena?”

  Goosebumps rippled over my skin. My heart skipped a few beats as I slowly turned my head to the door. She had dark brown hair and big grey doe eyes. I gasped. Tears streamed down my face.

  “Why are you crying?” my mother asked. She carried a coffee cup in her hand and the pair of shades she’d just taken off in the other.

  “I think she’s a bit disoriented,” my father said softly.

  I staggered off the bed and ran to my mother. I didn’t care about the coffee in her hands. I flung my arms around her. She had to step back to keep her balance. I started to cry.

  “Elena, what is going on?”

  “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I kept saying.

  “Sweetheart,” she said.

  “You did it, Mom. You killed that son of a bitch,” I whispered.

  My mom gasped and pushed me away. “Elena?”

  “Who else would it be?” I laughed through snot and tears.

  She hugged me tighter. “You’re back?”

  “Back?” My father asked sounding confused.

  “Oh, shush, you’d never get this anyway,” my mother chirped. I laughed at them backbiting one another. She’d done it. I didn’t know how yet, but she’d done it.

  “Okay, what is going on here?” my dad asked.

  I didn’t care. I just hugged her again. Scared that she was going to disappear in a puff of smoke.

  “Oh thank heavens you showed up at the right time.”

  My father laughed. “You’ve got to be shitting me. I see what is happening! Welcome back, Elena, and good luck.” He tapped me on the shoulder, planting a kiss on my head as he exited the room.

  “Shut up,” my mom said.

  I pulled back suddenly. “Blake. Where is Blake?”

  “Hold on, young lady,” my mother said. I could hear my father’s laughter coming from the porch.

  “What?”

  “You’re not twenty-six anymore.”

  My face fell. “I’m not?” I asked.

  “You don’t remember a thing?”

  I looked passed her. “No, the last thing I remember was telling you about Goran, and then we left through the Beam.”

  “The Beam?” She sounded worried.

  “Yeah, it’s what we named it. That bright light we use to time jump. I can’t see it, but Blake can. I saw it through his mind and…”

  “Don’t do this to me.” My mother looked up at the ceiling. She took a deep breath. “You just claimed Blake, Elena.”

  I hesitated. “What do you mean by just?”

  My mother laughed uncomfortably. “You claimed him three days ago. You’re sixteen. Sorry, sweetheart.”

  I grunt. “I’m a teenager again?!”

  “And your mother is going to become your worst nightmare,” my father chirped again.

  “Will you shut up?” she yelled to him outside.

  I laughed as I understood her fears. She had always been scared about this Dent thing from the moment she discovered that I was a girl and not a boy. “Mom, I’m not stupid. I still only remember my past. I promise to be the best teenager I can be, okay?” I put a stray hair that fell out of place behind her ear and I laughed.

  She hugged me again. “Music to my ears.”

  “I still need to know where he is, though.”

  “He woke up yesterday and came in to check on you. He felt terrible and left.”

  “Wait, he felt bad?” That was new.

  “Yes, why?”

  “The twenty-year-old Blake I remember hated my guts. I only claimed him, I think, around my eighteenth birthday.”

  “What? Why couldn’t I have that time?”

  “Because you weren’t in that past, Mom. Hence the reason we had to come back and save your ass.”

  She rolled her eyes at me.

  I gasped. “A queen never rolls her eyes.”

  “Look who is giving me royal advice now.” We both laughed. The ground rumbled as a dragon landed nearby.

  It was him. He wasn’t as big as he had been in my twenty-six-year-old memory from a few minutes ago, but it was him. He changed back, pulled on his robe, and greeted my father outside on the infirmary’s porch.

  “Elena, please. I don’t want restless nights. I’m too old for this crap.”

  I laughed.

  “I’ll be as delicate as possible,” I said and went over to him.

  He saw me, and his eyes widened slightly.

  Before he said anything, I jumped into his arms and my legs curled around his waist. My father roared with laughter.

  “Look at you,” he touched my short hair.

  “Do you remember anything?” I asked.

  “No. The last thing I remember is going through the Beam and then I woke up in my bed in the old manor. Tell me…”

  “Hey mister,” my mother scolded him. He froze as he turned around to look at her.

  A broad grin appeared on his face. He put me down, and he ran to her, pulling her into his arms and twirling her around. Then he laughed. “I want details. Everything.” He put her down.

  She just shook her head. “First of all, you are not thirty years-old. You are twenty, and I know how twenty-year-old men think.”

  He squinted. “Isn’t this supposed to be King Albert’s lecture?” He laughed.

  “He’s a pushover.”

  “I’m not,” my father chimed in. He went over to Blake. “Whenever you remember what happened, I was always on your side,” he said through a huge grin. I squinted.

  My mother slapped him. “Would you stop that?”

  Blake and I laughed. Oh my word, what did she do? I didn’t care. I had my real mom. Hopefully the memories would come back eventually and I would discover what she’d done, and I would decide if it was bad or not. But nothing she did could ever make me hate her. I remembered all too well how life was without her.

  I had the chance now to know what she was like, to discover who she was. She laughed, the throw-her-head-back kind of laugh, and spoke to Blake. I couldn’t stop watching her.

  A happy tear rolled over my cheek. I knew life was going to be good.

  Her eyes caught mine and she walked over and hugged me again. “Thank you, sweetheart,” she said.

  “For what?”

  “For giving me the chance to be your mother.” She looked at me and pushed a stray hair behind my ear. “I have to say it wasn’t always easy, but…”

  I smiled knowingly. “I gave you restless nights, eh?”

  “That you did. And hours of playing the piano.”

  I gasped. “You play the piano?”

  She squinted and hugged me again. “You do, too. We make a mean team playing chopsticks.”

  I bit my lip. I’d never played the piano. I didn’t even know how. My life was so different. I couldn’t wait for the memories to come back; I hoped that one day they would.

  I gasped as I remembered everyone else. I pushed her away from me. “The Wyverns! Please tell me you remembered.” I didn’t give her a chance to speak. “Are the McKenzies still alive?” My mother’s face fell into shock. “Are Lucian and Desi still alive, Mom?”

  “The Wyverns killed them?”

  I shook my head. “Not all of them, but…” I missed Blake’s voice in my head.

  “Calm down, Elena,” he finally spoke aloud and walked over to me. “Why don’t we just go and find out?”

  My mother still looked shaken. I smiled at her. “Sorry,” I mouthed
and she smiled lovingly and shook her head.

  “Just stay. Don’t go anywhere.” I sounded stern as Blake pulled me toward the castle.

  He put his arm around me and pulled me into a side hug. He kissed me atop my head. “You happy?”

  “So, so happy to see her.” I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

  “I know. We did it.”

  “We did it.”

  In the lobby, everything still looked the same.

  “Blake, Elena,” Master Longwei said. He didn’t sound happy.

  “Master Longwei.” Blake smiled.

  I shook my head at him and raised my eyebrows. His smile disappeared. I’ll handle this, I thought. But the minute it left, I knew he couldn’t hear my voice.

  “Sorry about the cafeteria,” I said.

  “The cafeteria?” Blake said.

  I raised my eyes at him again. He needed to stop talking.

  Master Longwei just stared at us.

  “Luckily your father helped put it back up. But yes, we are very disappointed that we didn’t get to see a royal claiming, Elena.”

  I arranged my features into what I hoped was a penitent expression. “I’m sure nobody could be as disappointed as I am, Master Longwei.”

  Blake stared at me and then a huge grin sprawled over his face. We walked away.

  “You claimed me in the cafeteria?”

  I nodded. “I don’t know details, just what my dad told me. Nobody is happy about it.”

  “I couldn’t care less,” he said as we walked up to the boys’ dorms to see if Lucian was here.

  I gasped when I saw Brian skipping down the stairs. He hardly saw me coming. I flung myself onto him and hugged him. He froze.

  “Princess, Brian certainly doesn’t have a death wish.”

  Blake roared with laughter. He slapped Brian on the shoulder. “Blake won’t go ape on Brian’s ass.”

  He blew out some air and just looked between us. “Brian is happy that the two of you sorted out your shit. Really happy.” And he walked further down the steps.

  “Party tonight in my room,” Blake said. “Brian needs to be there.”

  “If there is a party, Brian will be there.”

 
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