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       Frostbite, p.6

           Adrienne Woods
 

  My lower lip started to tremble but no tears came as I realized it was just a dream.

  I looked around the room and both beds were occupied. The alarm clock that Lucian had bought me last year showed that it was 4:30am.

  I still felt drained but my body ached from lying in bed. I got up and moved to the bathroom. My hands touched the taps and I watched as water filled the tub.

  The ache in my muscles disappeared the minute I lowered my body into the hot water.

  I closed my eyes and tried to hold on to the dream I’d had a couple of minutes ago: to make a mental recording of Lucian’s voice. It was already too late as different types of voices filled my head and I knew not one of them was his.

  How can someone miss another person this much?

  I ducked my head under the water and opened my eyes. I stayed there for a long time and could feel air filling my lungs. I touched the sides of my neck and jumped up as I felt three small vertical openings on each side of my neck.

  I HAD GILLS!

  My excitement disappeared fast and I sighed again. So drowning was out. That thought should’ve scared the living crap out of me. I never was the suicidal type, but how do you carry on living in a world where your favorite person doesn’t exist anymore?

  It was a pathetic thought, I know. Lucian gave up his life for me and I wished that it had been me dying in his place that day. He was so much stronger than me and he would’ve found a way to live each day as if it was his last and I doubted that he would have even considered taking his own life.

  I was pathetic.

  I lay back down in the bathtub with only my nose and the top of my head sticking out. I thought about the dream again. How much he would have loved to be flying on my back. Why was Blake so evil? Did it mean that he would turn soon? He had less than a year to go.

  My mind went back to Lucian again and then it hit me.

  Maybe Lucian wasn’t wrong when he said he had to claim the Rubicon. He had been wrong about claiming Blake. I knew it the minute I thought the words. Lucian had been my rider and I was his dragon.

  I would never be claimed now, and I didn’t know if that was a good thing or bad.

  HAT DREAM REALLY haunted me the next day and I could hardly hear what went on in any of my classes.

  After school I met Blake again at the Parthenon dome. I missed the dome, it was a place where I’d felt powerful, and now that I was a dragon I only spent time inside the Coliseum. It was the complete opposite.

  Cara didn’t speak to me at all last night and I couldn’t sleep as I wondered about her too. Who was Cara? What if Dad changed my name to keep me safe? What if I was Cara, but then again….no, nothing made sense. It would never make sense. I’d had a human baby form, dragons don’t have one. Why was everything so different with me?

  I found Blake in his dragon behind the Parthenon dome. He just stared at me with dark irises that had a red tint around the edges. I knew what he was waiting for and walked to the nearby tree.

  When I was sure I was out of view I pulled off my clothes and shifted. It didn’t take as long as it used to in the beginning, but as much as I welcomed Cara now there was still that couple of minutes that I didn’t like. A feeling so enhanced that it made me want to hurl would linger with me. I guessed it had to do with Cara and me, that our feelings clashed in some sort of way that made me ill.

  I went back to Blake and the feeling grew less and less. He didn’t say anything but pushed up into the sky and started to flap his wings to take him higher.

  “Cara?”

  Here, she says as if I was a teacher marking off her presence. Let’s do this. She took over and followed Blake’s lead. I didn’t black out anymore as I watched her through dragon eyes gliding through the sky. She flapped, I flapped and it was done without me taking any instructions from her. It was a difficult feeling to explain.

  The trees became smaller and I could feel the sweat dripping off my temple as my stomach turned. Cara on the other hand was the total opposite as she pushed us up into the sky, and dove down toward the ground.

  I closed my eyes as trees and open land came really close and felt how she pulled up once again. She let out a sound of pure excitement and forced me to open my eyes. Blake was still a couple of lengths ahead of us, twirling so fast that it made him look like a huge arrow spinning from a hunter’s bow.

  Cara did the same and I was sure this time I was going to throw up.

  C’mon Elena, it’s fun! she yelled inside my head and made excited sounds.

  We followed Blake once again to the mountain and I could feel Cara’s eyes on his naked human body.

  He turned around to look at us and thank heavens he held his robe in his arms. “So who do I have the pleasure of dealing with today?” His voice was full of sarcasm.

  “Hahaha,” both Cara and I said.

  Go for it honey, I’m not in the mood to deal with him.

  “It’s me, idiot.”

  “Elena.” He grinned and pulled on his robe. “Was that you flying as well or was it Cara?” He raised his eyes once as he said her name.

  “Always Cara, I told you I’m not fond of heights.”

  He gave me a look as if I was insane.

  “What?”

  “Nothing,” he chuckled and threw me a robe too. I grabbed it with my one talon and went to the nearest tree before I changed back into my human form. How I would ever get used to parading my naked body in front of others, I didn’t know. I did know it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon though.

  I found him sitting on a huge boulder.

  “So do you have any questions about being a dragon?”

  I thought about it for a while. “No,” I replied as I couldn’t think of anything and then a thought jumped into my head. “Yes, how could I not have known about her?”

  He smiled. “I don’t know. What I do know is that she must have woken up when you realized that help wouldn’t come. I’ve never seen a dragon form stay asleep that long before. But I’ve read about it.”

  “You have, where?”

  “In a history book about the thirteenth century. It was when all dragons were still being slaughtered and hunted down. Some, which I assume were Metallic, hid as humans. A couple of them did it for so long that they no longer knew how to turn into a dragon.”

  “Why didn’t he tell me about her?”

  “Your father?” Blake asked.

  I nodded.

  “Beats me, Elena.”

  I thought about Dad again and realized what my mother was too. If I was a dragon then she must have been one too. Why on earth had she run away then? If her reason wasn’t that she’d found out Dad’s secret and was scared of what I would turn into, then what could’ve been so terrible to keep her from staying with us?

  “What’s on your mind?”

  “My mom.”

  “What about her?”

  “Why did she leave me then? She’s a dragon too.”

  “I can’t answer that for you, Elena.”

  “Yeah, I know.” I sighed. “I just hate all these questions that will never be answered.”

  It was quiet for a while.

  “You really heard Paul’s voice in your head?”

  “It was a trick, he planted it, Blake.”

  He frowned.

  “Why do you want to know?”

  “Just curious. What did it sound like?”

  “At first I thought I was going to lose my mind. The extra voice was distracting me and I couldn’t concentrate. Everyone knew something was wrong, but Lucian was the first to ask me about it.” My heart pulled slightly as I said his name and I took a deep breath to try and bury it again.

  “Did you speak to one another in a regular basis?”

  I shook my head. “I tried, but he never answered. I don’t think he wanted to, to be honest. It was just a trick, remember?”

  “You reached out to him?” He frowned again.

  “I just told you that I tried. I guessed his lev
el of thinking was higher than mine and that he couldn’t hear me, or maybe he didn’t like the fact that I could hear him.” I looked at him. “Why do you want to know this?”

  “Told you, I’m curious. It’s something that you wouldn’t find with a rider and their dragon at such a young age.”

  “And yet I also keep telling you that it was his gift. Tricking people was his specialty.” I smiled. Who would have thought, Blake turning out to be so curious….about me. “I do know that he had a thing for poems. He kept reciting one over and over. His dragon voice used to scare me at first, but then it sort of calmed me down with the type of poems he recited. Professor Pheizer really thought that it was my dark mark and that whoever my dragon was, our bond would’ve been strong. She was so wrong.”

  “A dragon that loves poems, it’s a bit pansy, isn’t it?”

  I laughed. “It’s not. I thought it was beautiful. It’s how he tricked me into trusting him too. Someone that recites old Latin love poems like that.” I shook my head. “There is no way he could’ve been evil.”

  “Evil comes in all forms, Elena. Even portrays itself as light.”

  “Yes, it would’ve been nice if someone had taught me that before the whole Wyvern thing.”

  It was quiet for a moment as I saw Blake staring at the ground, playing with a twig. “What did Lucian say about all of this?”

  “He thought it was funny at first, but when he saw that it freaked me out, he got worried. He suggested I speak to Professor Pheizer about it. She, on the other hand, told me to embrace it.” I sighed.

  “Did you ever tell him about the poem thing?” he asked, sounding a bit skeptical.

  “Yeah,” I replied.

  I could feel his eyes on me and I looked at him.

  “And?” he wanted to know.

  “And what? He didn’t know who it belonged to, but he got really quiet and worried for a long time.”

  His face muscles pulled down.

  “Are you sure this is just curiosity? Are you hearing a voice, Blake?”

  He laughed. “No, I’m not as crazy as you.”

  I looked the other way and shook my head lightly.

  “It was a joke, Elena.”

  “Funny sense of humor.”

  He chuckled again and looked at his watch.

  “Tabitha’s waiting for you?” I asked with a slight tease in my tone.

  He smiled again. “No. She hates every moment of me being here with you.”

  My stomach turned slightly as he said the words “here with you”. I knew it wasn’t what he meant, but I’d grown quite fond of our training sessions. “Tell her she’s got nothing to worry about.”

  He laughed. “I do, every day, but for some reason she doesn’t believe me.”

  “Not my problem, Blake.”

  “Ouch! You always this harsh?”

  I laughed. “Change of topic. I thought two Rubicons couldn’t co-exist with one another.”

  “I said I was going to try, Elena.”

  My eyes rose and I gulped. “You want to kill me?”

  His body started to shake as he buried his face in his hands. When sound came from him I realized it was laughter. He lifted up his head from his hands. “I’m joking.”

  “Haha,” I said and threw a piece of rock at him which he dodged.

  “No,” he shook his head. “I don’t want to kill you. I guess the old farts came to a conclusion about what two Rubicons in this world would do, before knowing two were born at the same time. Why do you ask? Do you want to kill me?”

  “Urges come and go, but they’ve got nothing to do with being a Rubicon.”

  A grin formed on his face. I never recalled Blake ever smiling this much before.

  “Lucian really told you about the date?”

  He nodded and sighed. “I should’ve gone with him.”

  Both of us fell quiet and I thought about what the outcome would have been if Blake had gone too. Lucian might still be alive, or even have come back earlier. Those villagers wouldn’t have been able to keep Blake hostage, or ask him to do all sorts of crazy things for them.

  “Did he appear to you too?”

  He thought about it for a while. “Appear, how?”

  “It doesn’t matter.”

  “Elena, what we say here, stays here. I won’t tell anyone.”

  “Lucian found a way to be in two places at once. It was like the Cammy, but he didn’t need the Cammy, if that makes any sense.”

  “It’s connected to the Cammy?”

  “No!” I sounded as irritated as I felt. “I saw him, and touched him but he was pale and cold. It wasn’t really him. He told me that it was a trick he’d mastered and that it’d grown stronger while he was on his mission.”

  Blake just kept staring at me.

  “I’m not making it up, I’m serious.”

  “Then why didn’t he warn us about Paul?”

  “He tried, but the connection wasn’t very strong. I thought he was in danger and Paul knew exactly what Lucian had discovered so he executed his plan faster. You didn’t know that humans could do that?”

  “No, but then again this is a world of the strange and unexplained. Anything is possible.”

  “So, what does the Viden think about your date?”

  “She doesn’t know. For some reason she really struggles to see me. After the Warbel games she struggles with plenty of things.”

  “You think she’s lost her touch?”

  “No, she just doesn’t trust it anymore.”

  “I don’t understand.”

  “It’s hard to explain to you how Irene’s gift works. All you need to know is that when she says something while she’s going whoo whoo,” his hands and eyes mimicked the action and it made me laugh. “Then you know you should pay attention.”

  “Can you feel the darkness?”

  “It comes and goes. For some reason when I make myself useful, like helping you or coaching the Warbel team, it’s bearable.”

  “See, helping others is good.”

  He smiled.

  “Is that the reason you decided to do this?”

  “It’s one of them.”

  “There are more? What are the others?”

  “You’re not ready to know that yet,” he said and jumped up. “Come, I’ll race you to the Academy.” He ran to the edge, pulled off his robe with one yank and dove off.

  I got up and ran to the edge to see his dragon gliding above the tree tops as he ascended.

  I closed my eyes, pulled off my own robe and for the first time ever, I, Elena Watkins, followed his lead.

  My heart didn’t bounce the way it used to in the beginning and my mind didn’t think about me splatting on the earth. I knew that my dragon was real, and I guessed I’d finally started to make peace with what I was. I took a deep breath as the wind blew in my face and within five seconds the change came and my wings opened and trusted the wind beneath them.

  HE NEXT DAY was Friday. I didn’t meet Blake behind the Parthenon Dome anymore but on the top of the mountain.

  He smiled as he saw my dragon form landing. “Cara or Elena?” he asked in a teasing voice.

  “Be careful who you wish for rodent,” Cara replied.

  “Cara.” Blake grinned and showed his canines.

  “Or is it, idiot?” I said and his smirk disappeared.

  Cara laughed as we went to the nearest tree to change.

  See you later, sweets.

  “Ciao.”

  I changed back to my human form, pulled the robe over my naked body and sat next to Blake on the boulder.

  “So what are we going to do today, Yoda?”

  He laughed. “What do you want to do?” he asked me in a seductive voice and I really hated the fact that he was making my stomach flip every time he used that honey voice on me.

  “Nothing,” I said and lay on my back as I soaked up the sun’s rays. The wind was really starting to get cold but high on the mountain the sun was the master and it fel
t as if I was recharged by its rays.

  “That sounds like a great plan.” Blake lay down on his back next to me with his arms resting under his head.

  “Can I ask you a question?” I asked.

  “Shoot.”

  “How did your father beat you that last time? I mean, you are the Rubicon, and so powerful. I just don’t understand.”

  He kept quiet for a while.

  I turned on my stomach and rested my upper body on my elbows and looked at him. His eyes were closed and it didn’t look as if he wanted to answer my question. “Blake, I need to know how to control my temper if someone has to beat me.”

  “Elena, I was drunk. It’s the only time that he’s tamable. Why do you think I get drunk on a weekly basis?”

  “But you still do messed up things when you are drunk?”

  “That is what happens when people are drunk.”

  “They don’t burn down factories.”

  “How do you know, you ever get drunk before?”

  I laughed at the way his face questioned mine.

  “Almost, and believe me burning something down didn’t come up,” I said and saw how the corners of his lips twitched slightly upwards. “So he’s basically asleep when you are wasted?”

  “I didn’t say that. He’s a bit calmer and it’s easier to hold on.”

  “Why do you hold on, why not succumb to the darkness?”

  “Would you?”

  “I’m going that way, so I don’t know if I would fight it the way you do. I don’t think I’m that strong.”

  He smiled. “You think I’m strong, fighting this?”

  “Yeah, you are.” I swallowed hard and looked away. For someone that really didn’t want me to fall in love with him he was really making it hard when he used that sweet voice.

  “I don’t agree. If I had to tell you about all the shit I’ve done, you wouldn’t be here on this rock with me.”

  “Nothing would surprise me anymore. I’m not a naive little girl.”

  “Nice try, but if I tell you, I will have to kill you, and it’s not a Rubicon thing either.”

  “Why did you push Lucian away? I mean, he was your best friend.”

  “I told you that night why I did what I did.”

  “Because of the darkness?”

  “Yes, it didn’t want to be close to light. It made me nauseous.”

 
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