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       Moonbeam, p.33

           Adrienne Woods
I couldn’t stop laughing as he walked out the main door. “I missed him so much. Nobody could speak the way he did.”

  “Yeah, he was a master,” Blake said. “Sorry, is a master at speaking in third person.”

  We kept climbing the steps and Blake went quiet.

  “Don’t do this,” I begged.

  “It’s Lucian, Elena.”

  “Yeah. And he doesn’t know, Blake. He has a different life, one in which we never dated. I can bet my life on that. I just want him to be alive.”

  He sighed. “Okay.” We stopped in front of their old room. Blake opened the door with his key.

  “You’re back.” Lucian’s voice filled the room and I closed my eyes.

  He was alive. He was here.

  I pushed passed Blake and entered his room. I gasped as I saw him. My first love, my perished love. Gazing at me with a slight frown furrowing his forehead. He looked the same. Exactly the same as I remembered him.

  He started to smile at me, and then he looked at Blake. I ran and jumped into his arms. He hadn’t expected that, but he caught me. I wanted to kiss him, but I refrained. This Lucian was just a friend.

  I could feel him moving one of his arms and Blake laughed.

  “She woke up a bit sentimental. So just go with it.”

  “Thank heavens the two of you sorted out your shit,” He said and hugged me tighter.

  I looked at him. “Our shit?”

  He stared at me with squinted eyes. “Okay, what is going on?” He put me down. “I’ve got the feeling that I just stepped into the Twilight Zone.”

  Blake laughed. “Something like that.” He came over and hugged Lucian. “I missed you, bud.”

  “Okay, this is getting freaky now.”

  We both laughed and he joined us. “You forgave him?” he asked.

  Forgive, Blake?

  “Yeah, we sorted out our shit,” Blake said and I frowned.

  “You are so fucking lucky.” Lucian had a stern tone in his voice.

  “Real lucky,” Blake agreed.

  “I need to run. We’ll talk later. I want to know how you got yourself out of this one.”

  I squinted at Blake as Lucian left.

  “What the hell happened?”

  “No idea,” Blake whispered and came over to give me a kiss. He sighed. “I never thought I would see my old room again. Or my roommate.”

  “Me neither.”

  I kissed his lips again. Life couldn’t be more perfect. We’d grown up together, all of us had, that much was obvious. “See, I told you. He doesn’t remember any history between us.”

  Blake’s lips thinned. “The way he smiled when he saw you…”

  “Not what you think. There must be an explanation for that. We’ll untangle it all soon enough. Oh hey, you want to go see if Tabitha is fine?”

  With a chuckle, he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me closer. “No need. I’m sure she is.” He kissed me on the tip of my nose.

  “I need to go find Sammy and Becky. I can’t wait to see the old Sammy! And I have to get some sort of a down-low on why I claimed you in the damn cafeteria.”

  “Please do. I’m dying to know why you couldn’t wait.”

  I laughed and left his room. I skipped down the boys’ stairs and made it up to the girls’.

  I found Becky coming down with another girl I never seen before.

  “Becky,” I yelled. She looked up. Her hair was cut in a funky style. She stared at me, confusion on her face. Then I got it. She didn’t know me yet. We’d never become friends.

  Oh, hell no. She wasn’t going to be the price I needed to pay. Silho was.

  I stepped up to her. She just stared at me. This was not her. She was always so filled with confidence, not this sullen Goth chick.

  “I am going away for a few days, but when I get back, there will be a party in my room. You’re invited,” I said and ran up the stairs.

  “Okay,” she said.

  “That was weird,” her friend said. “How do you know her?”

  “I don’t. I didn’t even know she knew my name.”

  I smiled. You don’t know me yet, but you will. You will.

  Sammy and I weren’t going to make it without Becky’s two-cent quips. She’d always been the strong one in our friendship. I would stalk her ass until we became friends.

  I went to my room and found other girls there.

  “Oh, hi, Elena. You’re awake.” A strange girl looked surprised.

  “Um.” I felt disoriented. “Where’s my room?” Okay that didn’t come out right.

  The girl laughed.

  “Way at the top.”

  “Thanks,” I said and rushed up way to the top. I was extremely fit, leaner and stronger than I ever had been. I loved this version of me.

  I opened my door and found Sammy. She gasped, got up, and rushed to me.

  Thank heavens. We are friends.

  “You woke up.” She hugged me tight. Then she looked at me.

  “You seriously couldn’t wait? Why didn’t you just walk the other way, Elena?”

  Walk the other way? I shook it off. I didn’t care about any of that right now. I was just happy that she was her old self again. Not some shadow of a girl throwing herself into her work, burying her guilt with the League.

  “Speak,” she said.

  I laughed. “I don’t know.” It was the truth.

  “I knew there was going to be shit the minute I saw him walking toward you,” she said. None of this sounded right. We didn’t like one another? Did my mom keep us apart? Was this the shit my father was referring to?

  “What did he say when he wielded his shield? I only saw the two of you fighting. What happened?”

  “He just made me so mad,” I said, thought it sound correct. I hugged her again.

  “You should’ve just ignored that and waited for the day. Do you know how disappointed Paegeia is?”

  I laughed. I couldn’t help it.

  “It’s not funny, Elena,” she fussed. But then she laughed. “I have to admit, it was so you.”

  She hugged me again. I just drew in her scent. I’d missed her so much.

  I remembered Becky. “I’m going away with my mom for a few days.” Her eyebrow rose. “But when I come back, we are going to have a huge party. Becky is invited.” I went over to my cupboard, pulled out my leather bag, and started packing my clothes.

  “Becky?” Sammy repeated.

  I nodded. “Rebecca Johnson.”

  She squinted. “The Goth chick?”

  “Yes, the Goth Chick,” I zipped up my bag.

  “Okay,” Sammy said, not sounding sure about that one.

  “I promise, you’ll love her, Sammy. Got to go. See you in a few.” I kissed her cheek and then hurried for the door. I skipped down the steps rushed up Blake’s room again and knocked on his door.

  He opened up. George, Dean, and Lucian’s voices emerged from within.

  “He’s here?” I asked, referring to Dean.

  “He’s here,” he said and closed the door behind him. “Where are you going?”

  “You need to ask?”

  “No.” He grinned. “Enjoy, Elena.”

  “See you soon.” I hugged him and kissed him on the lips. It was tender and loving—and chaste. “Thanks, babe,” I murmured against his lips. “For risking everything for me.”

  “You are so welcome.” He winked and let me go.

  I ran down the stairs again. “Phone me tonight and fill me in please.”

  “Oh you bet your sweet ass I will.”

  I remembered Becky. Shit. I ran back up. He smiled again. “Hey, try to be as friendly as you can with Becky. She isn’t my friend.”

  “What?” his face fell.

  “But not overly nice, she’s Goth now.”

  He shook his head. “Goth?”

  I started to laugh. “She’s not the price, Blake. Her Dent is in there. The two of you are still friends. So…” I crossed my fingers.

kay, I promise.”

  “Thanks, babe.”

  He laughed. I skipped down the rest of the stairs.

  I found Becky again in the lobby and saw her raising her eyes at her friends.

  You did not just raise your eyes at me, miss-know-it-all. I know way too much about you.

  “So remember, there’s going to be a party,” I said as I walked past her.

  “Okay.” She sounded sarcastic.

  I gave her a pointed look. “It’s going to be frawsome!”

  Her head snapped back at me as I walked backward, still watching her. “Frawsome?”

  “Freaking awesome.”

  She frowned. “Hey, that’s my thing.”

  “I don’t mind sharing if you don’t.” I grinned.

  She finally laughed.

  “Bye,” I sang and she said goodbye.

  I found my mother and father still waiting at the main gate. They were in a discussion with Master Longwei as I rushed up to them.

  I hugged my mother from behind and she touched my face softly.

  “So you’re leaving again?” Master Longwei raised his eyebrows.

  “You know I don’t really need their classes, right? It’s just for a few days.”

  He nodded solemnly. “Fine, see you soon, Elena.”

  “Bye, Master Longwei,” I sang.

  The elevator trip to Etan was filled with cockroaches, all asking why I’d claimed Blake in the cafeteria.

  “I simply couldn’t wait any longer,” I said and my father laughed.

  “Queen Catherine, how does this make you feel?”

  It was a question I thought I would never hear in any of my interviews ever.

  “Glad that it is over,” she said confidently.

  “Don’t lie. Your worst fear just began,” my father quipped. Everyone laughed, including me.

  “Elena is a responsible young lady, no fears here,” she said. We bid the cockroaches farewell.

  We took the elevator to Etan. It was fast. My mom shrieked, throwing her hands up in the air, and I mimicked her. It was like we were riding a crazy rollercoaster ride for the first time.

  I laughed at her hair when we stopped. She patted it straight with her hands, and laughed.

  Music to my ears.

  A stretch limo waited for us outside with guards I’d never met. My mom whispered their names in my ear so I could thank them by name as they congratulated me on my recent claiming of the Rubicon.

  The drive wasn’t a long one, but the scenery sure was different. There were no memorial statues, just houses and more houses. My mother saw the look on my face and clutched my hand. The gates to the castle finally came into view.

  The building behind them towered high into the sky. It looked different than the one I used to call home. It was the same one I’d seen yesterday. The west wing was bigger than I expected.

  “Welcome home,” my mother said. I walked into the front door.

  I was home. This was my home.

  She took me to my chamber in the west wing. “I’ll give you a minute. We’ll be downstairs in the kitchen. Scream as loud as you can if you get lost.”

  “I remember this, sort of, Mom. Technically, we were here yesterday.”

  She laughed. “Okay.” She closed the door.

  My room was huge. A king-sized bed with a bright blue duvet dominated the room. Pillows were arranged on my bed. The curtains were blue, too.

  Pictures of guys were hung on my wall. No Blake. I couldn’t help but notice Blake was much better looking than all of them.

  I walked over to the desk in front of a hulking window and just touched each object there.

  A dragon letter opener was in the drawer. A snow globe on the desk. There was a box with letters next to my table. There were letters between Blake and me. I flipped through them. We’d grown up together, so why was there so much anger here? What happened?

  My bracelet Blake had made for me from his skin was rested atop my dresser. I picked it up. It was the same one. He’d still made me one.

  I set it down and checked out my closet. It was almost as big as my room. Rows and rows of shoes were stacked on the shelves. Dozens of handbags on another. And enough clothes for a small nation. I was a spoiled brat.

  The thought made me chuckle ruefully. I’d never get to spoil Silho like this. Then it hit me. Silho was only going to exist in our memories, but she was never going to destroy our world. I would see her again after this life.

  There was a cupboard inside my closet. Upon opening it, I discovered books filled with photographs. Of me and Blake, Lucian, Sammy, even Arianna. I touched one of Annie and me as little girls. I wept.

  No darkness came, everyone was happy. There was even one of a monkey, sitting on a thirteen-, maybe fourteen-year-old Elena’s shoulder. On the photo was written Mr. Pluggs. I had loved that monkey; that much was clear.

  Blake was in every single photo. Most of them were at parties. Everyone had a different number and I couldn’t find the fifteen- or sixteen-year pictures.

  From the box of angry letters and the cryptic comments about “sorting our shit,” I had a bad feeling something terrible had happened to us during that time.

  I closed the door and searched for what to wear. I found a pair of jeans, a pair of flip-flops, and a t-shirt.

  I was used to this. I went to my bathroom. It was pure white with a towel rack that held, like, fifteen towels. The floor was a soft pear wood color. The minute I took off my shoes, the spot I stood on was warm.

  It made me laugh. I sure wasn’t used to this. It was way too much. I stepped into the shower and got the fright of my life when it started speaking to me in a robotic voice.

  “Welcome home, Elena,” it said.

  “Okay,” I said, glad I hadn’t fallen on my ass. “This is just plain freaky.”

  “Your normal shower?”

  “Yeah, I guess.” The shower started automatically. It carried on and on. How long was this stupid shower? “Enough!” I yelled as it wanted to do another sort of wash and it stopped.

  I got out real fast as if it might capture me if I didn’t escape. I dried myself with a fluffy towel.

  All my scars were gone. I hadn’t gotten Blake’s essence. He would have to go through all of that again, poor baby.

  I looked at my wrist. The scar the Keeper had made was gone. I’d never gone into the sacred cavern. That just sucked. But my mom was alive and it didn’t matter anymore.

  I pulled on my clothes and went into the kitchen.

  Everything looked so different from yesterday. The furniture was more modern. The spaces were open. Something told me my mother loved to rearrange everything. It was homier.

  The carpets were still royal blue and not the cherry wood color my father had put in after the renovation. The Creepers had never come.

  A great, heavy emotion overwhelmed me. It was a mixture of contentedness, happiness, and perfection. Everything was as it should be. I’d grown up in Paegeia. Though I didn’t remember my life yet, I was sure I would remember it soon.

  I found the lounge followed voices to the kitchen. A huge black Great Dane ran toward me. He jumped on me and I fell with his hulking figure pinning me down on the floor as I shrieked.

  “Felix!” my mother yelled.

  I giggled as the mutt licked my face. My father came to take him by the leash. “A Great Dane?” I asked.

  “Oh you love everything that is abnormally large, Elena.”

  I laughed. It was good. I didn’t cower away from big things. My mother gave me a hand and lifted me up. “Sorry about him. He’s always so happy to see you.”

  “It’s okay,” I said. He barked. My dad took him outside and closed the side door.

  I followed my mom into the kitchen. I gasped as Tanya looked up at me from her seat at the island. She was alive. “Hello, Elena.”

  The figure next to her made my eyes glisten. He looked up from the newspaper he was reading and smiled.

  It was my dad. M
y other dad, that was. The man who raised me. Jako.

  “Come here,” he said and got up from his chair opening his arms.

  I jumped into them and just started to sob.

  “It’s okay, bear. Welcome back, I guess.”

  I looked at him funny.

  “Your mom told us that you finally merged with the other Elena.”

  I laughed. “She told you about me?”

  “Of course she did.” Tanya dangled her arm from my shoulders, burying her face in my neck. Jako put me down. This was so weird. Tanya still had her hand on my back.

  “I should apologize, Elena.”

  “Mom,” I started, my real mother, Catherine, gasped. “Sorry, I…”

  “No need, sweetheart,” my mom said.

  I smiled at her, and looked at Tanya. “We had this conversation before and sure, back then I didn’t want to hear about it but now, everything is different.”

  “That fast? You sure are different than the other Elena.”

  I squinted. “Well, what would you expect? I am an only child,” I looked at my mom. “Right?”

  “Only child,” my mother confirmed.

  “I think I rest my case.”

  They all laughed.

  “All that matters is that you are alive.” I hugged her again.

  They all gasped again.

  “I died?” Tanya wanted to know.

  “Yeah. Many did.”

  She stroked my face and hugged me again. “We’re all here, baby.”

  “Did I die, too?” My real dad, King Albert, wanted to know. I went over to him where he leaned his elbows on the table. I touched his arm.

  “Nope, you I actually had the chance to meet. For the past eight years of my life, we actually became real close.”

  “That explains the lack of attention.”

  We laughed again.

  “Aww, are we feeling left out? Now you know how it feels, Albert,” my mother said.

  I gave him a peck on the cheek. “I am a daddy’s girl, aren’t I?”

  “Yep,” he said. “So I’m certainly not used to this.”

  “Yeah, I figured that one out real fast.”

  “No, but seriously, Elena, you need to know what your mother did.”

  “Albert,” my mother scolded again.

  “I’m sure I will remember soon, Dad.” He really liked joking around with my mom. “But to be honest, I really don’t care.”

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