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       Moonbeam, p.5

           Adrienne Woods
 

  “Elena, I’m not going to do it!” he said, pulling me out of my blithe thoughts. The feeling of meeting my mother for real, and being able to grow up, have a different life, disappeared instantly with his words.

  Why?

  I’m not going to mess with the past. You never know what it is you are going to change.

  I stared at him in disbelief. He hadn’t even given this a second thought. It was no from the beginning.

  “What is going on? You are scaring us,” my father said in a gentle tone.

  Blake knew how badly I wanted my mother, how badly I wanted to have grown up this side, to not have the past I had. He knew.

  We’d always tried not to talk about what-ifs, because they didn’t exist. But here in front of us was a real what-if. We truly did have the ability to change things.

  And he didn’t want to fix what had happened.

  “It’s final, Elena!” he roared. He stomped out of the room.

  “What the hell is going on?” Annie sounded freaked out.

  I sighed as tears welled up in my eyes.

  “Elena.” My father spoke softly and stroked my back with his one hand.

  I shook my head. “He doesn’t want to go back and warn you about Goran. He doesn’t want us to change that past.”

  My father listened with concern etched across his features as I told him everything.

  “Blake does have a point, sweetheart. You can’t tamper with the past.”

  “Dad, if we could warn you that this was going to happen, that Goran was behind all of this…Wouldn’t you try to save Mom?”

  “Save Mom? What about Constance and Annie, Elena?” My father sounded disappointed.

  I realized how ungrateful I must sound.

  “Don’t, Albert. I’m with Elena. It means that the Creepers would’ve never come, and Katie would still be alive, caring for her daughter the way she always wanted. Lee would still be here. Annie wouldn’t…” She couldn’t finish. “All your men, nobody would have experienced the darkness that came with Goran.”

  I just stared at both of them. I felt terrible, wanting my mother back, changing this life that was already good and sweet.

  “I appreciate it, but Blake made up his mind,” I said.

  She looked at me with eyes filled with compassion. She came over to my bed and sat down next to me, rubbing my shoulder.

  My father spoke. “Some things are meant to stay in the past, Elena.” He sat down in the spot Blake had occupied a few minutes earlier, near Constance. The thought of being able to correct his mistakes was a hard pill to swallow. Something sweet yet unknown. Fear, danger, all of it was reflected on my father’s face. He almost never carried that look anymore.

  “Then why did he get this ability, Dad? Why? Don’t you want to be able to do things differently? Save Mom?”

  “Don’t ask me that, Elena!” He got up and paced.

  Constance, Annie, and I just stared at him. Then Constance smiled. “I would love to go back and save Lee if I had the ability.”

  He stopped. He leveled a stare at her as if what she said was blasphemy. “And give up your place as my queen?”

  She went over to my father and laid her hands on his cheek. “My dearest Albert. You seem to be forgetting something. If Elena and Blake go back, we wouldn’t even know we were married. If it means all the people in Paegeia can be alive and well, without living in constant fear of what happened so many years ago, then yes. I would give up everything.”

  That was two weeks ago.

  I hadn’t spoken with Blake more than five sentences since then.

  He’d tried to make things right, but I could still see his intent in his mind. He wanted me to get over it, to forget about it. He’d refused to give in, to give me what I didn’t just want but desperately needed. To save my mom.

  Constance got it. Even Annie did. The possibility of saving her father was something she would do in a heartbeat, to erase her horrible past. She would if she owned that ability.

  Blake, well…he became more and more like my father.

  A great power like that comes with a price. What price, we didn’t know, but Blake didn’t even want to give it a thought or find out.

  He loved his abilities, but not this one.

  I was standing with Silho sleeping in my arms. She didn’t feel heavy as toddlers should. I was rocking her absentmindedly and gazing out the window over the castle grounds when Blake came in.

  “Elena.”

  I filled my mind with a lullaby Constance used to sing. I didn’t dare think about anything else. He wouldn’t get anything from my mind.

  Ignoring him, I carried Silho to her crib and laid her down gently. Without waking, she popped her thumb in her mouth as I tucked the blanket under her chin. Her dark eyelashes flickered against her chubby cheek as her eyes followed innocent dreams.

  I could tell he didn’t like the silence from me.

  “You are just as stubborn as your mother,” he grunted. That got my attention.

  “Oh really, really? Just as stubborn as her? Well, I wouldn’t know as I never had the chance to meet her, Blake.” Venom dripped from my voice. “And now that we have the chance to save her…” My hands were all over the place. I looked at the ceiling. “You are too shit-scared to take it. To help me go and warn them about what is going to happen.”

  “Yes, I’m scared, Elena,” he whispered loudly, not wanting to wake Silho. “All you care about is going back to save her. What about the people in your life? You ever think about them? What about Becky and Sammy? What if they are never in your life? Worse, what if you don’t make it to your sixteenth birthday?”

  “Why wouldn’t I make it to my sixteenth birthday?” I frowned. “I made it with evil dragons trying to kill me, Blake.”

  “Fine, then what about Silho?” His face drained of color.

  I saw it flashing through his mind before he said it aloud. She might not be in our lives. That terrified him more than anything else. That was his deepest fear. Losing our daughter.

  My eyes welled up. Fondness for him wormed its way into my heart despite how angry I felt.

  “You don’t know that. She is a part of us. She will be there.” I was stubborn.

  “No, you don’t know that,” he said through gritted teeth. Tears filled his eyes. “Changing the past has a price, Elena. Consequences.”

  I didn’t care. I was that selfish and that dead-set on going back to warn them. “Fine. What about Lucian?” I didn’t want to bring that up. Heaven knew how guilty he felt over Lucian’s death. He was worried about who I would have chosen if Lucian had survived. “What about Brian, Desi, King Helmut, and Queen Margerite? All of them who died for nothing! All of them could live. If you just…”

  No! he roared. Silent or not, his message was loud and clear. He rushed out of the room. The door slammed behind him. Silho whimpered at the noise. I wanted to cuss as I rushed to her and stroked her tiny body, encouraging her to go back to sleep.

  I sighed as I watched her close her eyes again.

  She was the spitting image of her father. She had his raven hair, his beautiful peacock eyes—mixed with my green ones—even his cheekbones.

  The only thing she had from me was my chin and my nose. Or at least it seemed that way for now; one could never really tell with babies.

  I sighed. Was I a bad mother? What if Blake was right? What if we went back in time and changed things, and she was never born? I’d seen the terror he felt at this possibility. It loomed so clear in his mind.

  Tears lingered in my eyes as I continued stroking her precious face.

  What was my mother going through when she had to give me up? I didn’t know if I would be able to do that. And yet here I was, contemplating going back and saving her. Ready to risk Silho’s very existence.

  Constance was an amazing substitute mother. But even so, there would always be that emptiness inside me, of wanting my real mother by my side.

  Ever since the night Blake had
given me that chance to meet her, it had only grown stronger, the hole she’d left in my chest when I had to say goodbye.

  Sure, it had diminished after a while. I was one of the happiest women in this world. But then when I’d gotten pregnant with Silho, the hole had appeared again. I wanted my baby to have her grandmother.

  I would always imagine her somewhere close, enjoying this special time with all of us. But she wasn’t really there.

  It had hit me even harder the minute they put Silho in my arms. She’d cried her heart out with her first few breaths. My tears were happy ones…until the worry arose. How were we going to raise her? What my mother had gone through with me flooded my thoughts. It had suffocated me. It turned me into a paranoid mother for the first few months, scared that someone was going to take her away from me, or that I was going to be forced to give Silho up for her own safety, like my mother had with me. I had been a mess

  Blake would find me crying. Sometimes I locked myself in the bathroom to weep. Sometimes he caught my tears early in the mornings.

  My mother gave me up to save my life. I would never be able to do what she’d had to do. Could I, even if Silho’s life was in danger?

  I could relate to why she’d transformed into a living corpse the last year of her life.

  Life couldn’t have been easy on her.

  Yet my husband had the ability to change all of this. And he didn’t even give it a second thought.

  That was the hardest pill to swallow.

  Becky and George arrived.

  George went fishing with Blake. Becky and little Dean visited me and Silho. Dean was about four months older than Silho. He was the spitting image of his mom but sported his dad’s dimples.

  We took iced beverages out to the garden and watched the two little ones play on a blanket spread under the trees. My father stopped by to greet Becky and tousle Dean’s hair, but he faded away without saying anything further.

  Nobody wanted to talk about it.

  Becky waited till my father left. Then she opened her mouth. “Blake has a point, Elena. If there’s any chance that Silho wouldn’t be born…”

  I scowled. “I know, Becky. I feel like a bad mom.”

  “You are not a bad mom. I understand why you want to do this, why it’s so hard to resist. Since that night we found out what Blake could do…” She sighed with such force, her short black hair flopped off her forehead. “Just thinking about what life would be like with my father at our side, watching me grow up…” I could see it in her brown eyes as she stared at nothing in front of her. “But he is right. You don’t know what price you’ll have to pay to fix the past.”

  I shook my head. “Sammy?” I said. One word.

  “What about Sammy?”

  “Don’t tell me you didn’t think about her, Becky. If we could go back and save Dean…”

  “It’s in the past, Elena. Sammy is fine.”

  “Sammy isn’t fine, Becky,” I retorted. “She hasn’t been fine for a long time. She carries guilt around with her every day. She can’t forgive herself for not protecting him. She throws herself into work all the time. She won’t visit for more than ten minutes at a time, then concocts excuses to fly off. She isn’t fine. She’s never going to be fine without him.”

  “He wasn’t her Dent.”

  “And neither is Sir Robert my father’s. It doesn’t mean she didn’t love him. Dragons love differently.”

  I couldn’t believe that we were fighting over this.

  “What about Lucian?” Becky insisted. “Have you thought about what any of this will do to him? You and Blake?”

  I started to laugh. “There will be no Lucian and me if we go back, Becky. Still, he will be alive and not killed like a fucking animal.”

  She looked pensive. “So if you go back and change the past, how do you think it will affect you, Elena?”

  “I don’t care. I just want to save the people I loved, the people who deserve to be alive.”

  She nodded. “You think George and I…”

  I threw up my hands. “Oh come on! He is your Dent. That will never change.”

  Her mouth quirked in response to my temper. “I’m just weighing everything up before I put myself in your corner, Elena.”

  She was beginning to see my point. Finally, someone other than Constance and Annie stood in my corner.

  A smile sprawled over my face. “He is going to hate me for this. He already hates me for just thinking about this. For making his life a living hell at the moment.”

  “Well, you did turn into a spoiled brat.” Classic Becky with her two cents.

  I giggled. “I miss Sammy. I want her to be happy. If we go back and change everything, she might get her chance. Dean might not even be her Dragonian. She might eventually find her Dent. Who knows, maybe he died.”

  “Or she,” Becky chirped.

  “Fine,” I allowed grudgingly. “Or she. When the Creepers consumed everything.”

  She lapsed into silence for a long time. We both watched the kiddos tussling under the tree. “You know how big this change is going to be, Elena?”

  I nodded.

  “No, I don’t think you really do.”

  “I do, Becky. I’ve had two weeks to think about why I shouldn’t do this, and the reasons I should always outweigh the reasons I shouldn’t.”

  “What if Dean isn’t going to be in our lives? What if Silho isn’t going to be in yours?”

  “I don’t know. I can’t answer that. But something tells me they will be there.” Though there was no evidence of this, I felt in my bones it was true.

  Her lips vibrated as she blew out some air. “Okay, fine. If this is what you want to do. You know me. Always in your corner no matter how crazy it sounds.”

  I grabbed her around her neck and pulled her into a fierce hug. “Thanks, Becks.”

  Becky and Dean left the minute George and Blake came back from their fishing.

  Blake looked even more pissed off. I could see that the two of them had spoken about this today. He’d blocked me out, but not before I’d gotten most of what George had to say.

  His visions, the ones he didn’t want to share, were of a different life. A better life.

  George was trying to persuade him to go for it. That news hit me harder than I’d thought. I smiled at George as he walked past me. I now understood why Becky was so adamant. She was on Blake’s side—well, she had been, but she wasn’t anymore.

  Blake picked Silho up from the blanket and walked with her into the castle. I packed up the drinks and blanket and followed him in.

  We didn’t speak about it that night. Constance tried to get conversation around the dinner table going, but the minute Blake’s plate was cleared, he stood up, collected Silho into his arms, and left again.

  I threw my fork on the plate with a loud clatter. Was this how it was going to be from now on? Neither of us compromising? I yelled after him in my mind, but he didn’t answer.

  “Elena, give him some time,” Constance spoke softly.

  “Don’t,” my father said. “It’s in the past, Constance. Nothing happens without a reason. We don’t know what the future—I mean, our present—would be like if the Creepers didn’t exist.”

  “It can’t be worse, Albert. It could only be better. All those families. The McKenzies. Your men. Devoted men who died, who should never have died. Have you even considered how many dragons and Dragonians will never team up because some of them don’t exist anymore?”

  “Please,” I interrupted. “Don’t argue. It’s not your fight. This is between Blake and me.”

  My father’s expression was filled with kindness. “Elena, I know why you want to go back.”

  “No, Dad. You don’t. You had her for more than two hundred years. It’s not that I’m not happy. I am. But if there is a shred of a chance to save her…To be able to grow up with a mother, to grow up in this world…Then yes. I would give up my happiness and take that chance to find out. I would do it in a heartbe
at. And that is something none of you will understand. None of you grew up the way I did.”

  I looked at Annie, who studied her plate, face pink. “Well, Annie knows what I feel,” I amended. “She’s probably the only one.”

  Constance touched Annie’s hand. A small smile tugged at the corners of Annie’s mouth.

  “May I be excused?” I asked.

  My father nodded.

  I got up and walked past Jeeves and a couple of the dining staff. “Thanks, Jeeves, the dinner was amazing.”

  “I’ll tell the chef, Princess.”

  They were never going to budge. Not my father, and not Blake. My mother was going to stay where she was: a memory buried in a grave that held no bones. That was something I had to get over.

  I stood at the threshold of our bedroom. Though I was tired, our big bed held no appeal. I’d been sleeping alone the last few days. Blake had this thing about not sleeping in the same bed if either one of us was angry. It wasn’t anger in me; it was sadness. Okay there was a little anger, but mostly sadness for my mother, sadness for the fact that my daughter wasn’t enough. Guilt, too.

  I was adamant. I didn’t want to believe that she wouldn’t be there. She was a part of us. Of course she would be there. Everything would work out the exact same way, just with a happier ending. If only he could see it.

  I felt so alone. It was nothing to do with sleeping in that huge bed by myself. My husband wasn’t on the same page as me. This had almost never happened in eight years.

  I went over to Silho’s crib and said goodnight to Simone, who was reading her a story softly. She set aside the book and gave me a small curtsy before she exited the room.

  She had been my maid for a long time. She knew a dark cloud stalked me. I kissed Silho softly on her cheek and tucked her in. She made me sad. Sad that my mother never had the opportunity to see me when I was this age. Sad that she might be the price we would have to pay if we went back to change the past. Still, I would do anything for her. Anything. She was my precious little girl. I understood why Blake didn’t want to do this. If I knew for certain she wouldn’t be in our lives, I wouldn’t do this. But I knew she would be. A mother always knows. She was meant to be our princess. If only her father could see it.

 
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