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Thunderlight, p.8
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       Thunderlight, p.8

           Adrienne Woods
 

  First impression, Elena.

  I gave him a soft smile and nodded once, politely. He turned back his head and I only then realized that Lucian wasn’t in his seat.

  I decided to hell with Blake’s speech as I walked past the guy that stood behind me. I passed a woman that tittered something to her companion who laughed, found the first door leading away from the room and slipped through it.

  I was suddenly in another part of the museum but instead of a red carpet lining the floor, there were solid grey, stone tiles. I took the stairs to the right and turned left to walk one level up and plunged myself down onto the smooth stone.

  A funny feeling told me that this area was only for staff, but I didn’t care. This wasn’t my scene at all, and Blake had just made it ten times worse.

  What the hell is he trying to do, ruin my life?

  I tried to make myself comfortable and was grateful for the cold stairs as the heat flashes began to stop. The riddle from the book jumped into my mind once again.

  If it wasn’t going after that stupid sword, and finding the truth about dragon offspring, Chromatic dragons and the sword’s magical abilities, then what could be more important to Paegeia’s survival?

  I pondered on it for what felt like hours, but nothing came.

  Suddenly, light filled the room as the door to my hiding place opened.

  “How dare you say those things?” Sir Robert yelled, his tone sounded extremely pissed off.

  “What did you wanted me to say” Blake laughed. “I can’t lie and if you think I’m going to suck up to those idiots out there…” Blake said slurring a bit.

  “You are the Rubicon. They expect you to give an honorable speech at events like this. Look at you, you reek of alcohol and …” he sighed. It was silent for a couple of seconds. “When is this going to stop, Blake? I raised you better than this." I could hear the disappointment line his voice. “You would have broken King Albert's heart.”

  Blake laughed again. “He doesn't give a shit, he’s dead. It’s time you deal with that.”

  A hard slap echoed off of the unforgiving stones and I flinched. “Don't push me, Blake. He was our King and deserves all the respect in the world even in death.”

  Blake didn't say anything back. I only heard one pair of footsteps exit the area and it was silent for a while.

  I silently hoped whoever had stayed behind would leave soon.

  With a soft squeak I heard the door open once again.

  “What the hell was that about?” Lucian's voice filled the room.

  “What are you going to do?” Blake voice was close to my hiding spot and I pulled my legs tight into my chest.

  My heart went a couple of beats faster as I tried to make myself as small as I could.

  “Don't, Blake. I’m not in a good mood.” Lucian sounded upset too. “Let me get one thing clear. Elena is off limits.”

  Blake roared with laughter. He was so arrogant. “Relax, Lucian. I don't want your girl. I just gave her the credit she deserves.”

  Lucian took a huge breath and chuckled too. “I have to admit, that speech was something else.” They both laughed. “Did you have to be drunk though?”

  Blake didn't reply, but I could hear him descending down the stairs.

  “What are we going to do with you?”

  A deathly silence filled the area. “Slay me,” he begged in a soft voice, and my eyes closed at the sadness Blake’s tone carried.

  “Nah, you’re too good for that,” Lucian finally said.

  Both footsteps walked to the door and I closed my eyes as I rested my head against the wall. It was silent for a long time and I must have dozed off because the screeching sound of a dragon made me jump back to reality. My heart beat wildly and I took huge breathes as I realized it was only a dream.

  Quickly, I made the decision that it was time to leave my hiding spot and find Becky, before she’d left me here.

  The function had started to quiet down but there were still groups of people having conversations and enjoying the champagne and appetizers the waiters still passed around. Most of them appeared to be talking about that wonderful speech Blake had made. I slowly walked behind a group of men with cognacs in their hands.

  “Hopefully the Prince of Tith will claim him soon,” a tall guy with red hair spoke assuredly. He was dressed in a black jacket covered with an array of medals as well.

  “Nobody will claim that dragon. It’s destined for him to become evil,” an old fart with a belly that made him look like a little Buddha statue said.

  “Where the hell have you been?” Becky grabbed my arm as I was eavesdropping. Her eyes were huge but relief washed over her face as she took me in. “Lucian is looking for you.”

  She started to pull me in the direction of the King and Queen. They were deep in conversation with another couple. I assumed the gentlemen must have been a knight in his younger days as he too wore a jacket just like a lot of the other men in black jackets and medals wore.

  She cleared her throat as we came near and Lucian turned his head. A huge smile broke over his face and his eyes grew wide as he saw me.

  He walked over and hugged me gently. “You’re absolutely breathtaking.” He whispered in my ear and I struggled to suppress my smile.

  “Well, you don’t look bad yourself.”

  He looked handsome, wearing a royal uniform with silver buttons that went up to his neck line. On his head was a small crown. I hugged him and breathed him in. He smelled so good.

  “You ready?”

  “No.” I looked at him with wide eyes. “But I guess it’s now or never, right.”

  He nodded. “It’s going to be okay, I promise.”

  He moved beside me and positioned us so his mom and dad’s backs were facing the two of us. My heart felt as if it was lodged inside my throat.

  “Mom, Dad.” He tapped his dad on the arm softly. The king made an excuse for the disturbance before he turned around. I could feel his mother’s gaze on me as she took me in. “I want you to meet Elena.”

  The King’s eyes grew a bit as he realized it was me he’d been staring at earlier.

  I smiled softly and looked at his Mom. The Queen had more or less same expression but turned to her husband to gage his reaction.

  “Say something,” Lucian grumbled softly to his Mom.

  His Mom closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Lucian, I hate it when you just spring someone on us.”

  “I’m not. If you’d given us a chance before, this wouldn’t have happened.”

  “This is not the time for this. Nice meeting you, Elena.” His father said in a cold tone.

  “Likewise, King Helmut,” I said in the most confident tone I could master.

  He glared at Lucian. “We’ll talk later.”

  Both of them went back to their conversation as if nothing had happened. I shook my head slowly and walked toward the door.

  Arianna’s right, they’re never going to accept me.

  Lucian grabbed my arm softly and pulled me into the room I’d been in a moment ago. “Don’t do this.”

  “Lucian, we tried.” I couldn’t believe I was saying it.

  “Give them some time. They met you, they heard that wonderful speech Blake just gave, and they need time to process, please. Everything is going to be okay. I’m not going anywhere.”

  “No, you’re just going to marry someone else in two years.”

  He closed his eyes. “That will never happen.” He opened them again and pulled me into his arms. “I love you. You are my choice.”

  So the plan hadn’t worked out as well as we’d hoped for, but at least they’d met me and I would give them time, as Lucian had begged me to.

  He walked out with Becky and me and cameras flashed brightly. I tried to pull my hand out of Lucian’s to hide my face but he held on tight. “It’s time. Let them take their pictures. Just smile,” he whispered and pulled me closer.

  A couple of journalists yelled questions at me, but
my heart was beating so hard that I didn’t hear any of them. Lucian answered all of them and even got a couple of reporters laughing.

  The flashing went on for another couple of minutes. When Lucian asked them politely to stop, and explained that he just wanted to do the gentlemen thing and walk me to the cab, they actually listened. He gave me a kiss on my head as he held the door open and I got in. “Sleep tight, I’ll speak to you soon.”

  I nodded and gave him a small, unsure smile as he shut the door.

  The cabby drove off with Becky and Lucille right beside me. “See, that wasn’t so bad,” Becky said.

  “I so don’t love this the way you do,” I mumbled and both of them laughed.

  “Give it time, you will eventually.” Lucille tapped me on my knee. I looked out the window as the events of the night washed over me. It had started to rain and as the raindrops made their way down the pane of glass I couldn’t help but feel like a failure at our pathetic attempt to get Lucian’s parents to accept me.

  HEN WE GOT back to the hotel we found Sammy inside our room busy speaking to Dean on her Cammy. We all waved at his holograph as she said goodbye when we came in. “Elena, where the hell were you?”

  “By the time I made my way back from the bathroom, the place was so crowded that I couldn’t return to my spot. Are you okay?” I had to lie as neither of them knew about my foretelling inside the Book of Shadows.

  “Blake!” She spat her brother’s name as if it contained poison and got up from the couch. “I could kill him right now.”

  “I’m sure you father can too,” Becky said laughing.

  “It’s not funny, Becky.” She sighed and buried her face in her hands. “My father tried so hard to keep our name high, and he just plunders it in seconds.”

  “It’s not so bad. He just gave Elena the credit she deserves, in a creepy, love-puppy kind of way.”

  We all burst out laughing at her “love-puppy” comment.

  “I think my mom is right,” Sammy spoke softly.

  “About what?” Both Becky and I sang.

  “She thinks he has a huge crush on you, Elena, and that it comes out when he’s really drunk.”

  “Oh, please. He despises me. It’s my virginity, like you said that night, making his Sun-Blast crazy.” The thought of him right before he made that speech jumped into my mind. How long had he been standing behind me? I flinched as I remembered the words he’d mouthed.

  “Lucian felt pretty bad because he didn’t mention your name or the Sacred Cavern,” Becky pointed out.

  “He shouldn’t. His speech was great. Brian was the hero and it was the perfect choice for the exhibit, choosing Brian in both of his forms.”

  Suddenly, Sammy stood up remembering something. “There’s a package for you on the table. It was here when I got to the room.”

  I looked over at the table and found a beautiful pink box with a shiny ribbon wrapped around it.

  “Open it,” Becky pleaded excitedly.

  I picked up the card and read it out loud. “Sorry I wasn’t at your birthday party, better late than never.”

  “It’s from Lucian.” I spoke as I peeled the ribbon from around the box.

  Inside there was a wooden case. It was really heavy and Sammy helped me as we took it out gently.

  Thick swirly borders were burned into the lid of the box along with the name “Alex Rodes”.

  Both girls gasped as they read the name with wide, unblinking eyes.

  “I know what that is,” Becky said holding her breath as I moved my fingers across the words.

  “He got you an Alex Rodes.

  “What the hell is an Alex Rodes?”

  “Not a what, a who. Open it,” Becky said again more excited now that she had been a few minutes ago.

  I took off the lid and found two sliver axes inside along with two thick, leather hand gloves. I pulled on one and it reached hallway to my elbow. Only my index finger was halfway covered with soft leather, the rest was open. It had soft rubber on the palms and a ruby was sewn into the top of my hand. I couldn’t take my eyes of it as it sparked sending off a thousand beams of light as I held it closer to the lamp. I picked up one of the axes and saw that the shafts were covered in black rubber and the blades had plastic protectors over them. As I was inspecting the axes Sammy explained who this mysterious Alex Rodes was.

  Apparently, he used to make weapons for the Kings and Queens of Paegeia; they say he never made another weapon after the night King Albert died. I picked one up and found engraved in small font my name with a couple of hearts on the blade. There were Latin words inscribed right below them. I gently touched the engravings as I admired the craftsmanship. They were simply exquisite.

  “They must have cost him a fortune,” Becky said as she nodded toward the other one.

  “Go for it.”

  “There is another box.” She’d forgotten all about the axes and showed me the blue velvet jewelry box tucked inside.

  The three of us just stared at it.

  “You guys aren’t thinking the same thing as me, right?” Becky asked.

  “Lucian wouldn’t, we’re way too young for this.”

  “He was going to get married at 21.”

  My heart beat faster as I took the velvet jewelry box and flipped the lid open. Inside was a diamond heart dangling from a silver necklace chain.

  Becky and Sammy leaned closer to get a better look.

  “Is that real?” Sammy asked as her eyes grew wide.

  Becky took it without asking and lifted it up to the light “Oh, it’s real.” She gave it back and I just kept staring at its beauty.

  Sammy took another envelope out of the pink box. She handed it to me and I pulled out a beautiful card. Inside it had a birthday wish and in Lucian’s terrible handwriting he had written a message.

  “Scare you a bit? Not that I don’t want to marry you. I would be honored one day. I hope you like my gifts and wear the necklace so you will think of me always. See it as my heart and that it is always close to yours, no matter what.” I handed the card over for Sammy and Becky to read.

  Sammy helped me with the necklace, while a knock on the door sent Becky flying through the air to see who it was.

  George entered our room looking stunning in his tuxedo as he gave Becky a long kiss. He spoke to her in Latin and Sammy just rolled her eyes.

  “I’m going to take a long bath,” I said to Becky right after I waved at George.

  “Bathe as long as you want. I’m going to plunge myself onto this chair. My feet are killing me.”

  “Now you know why I don’t do heels,” I said laughing as I went into the bathroom. I poured in some extra bubble bath and let the taps run full. Only when I was fully covered in the bath, did the knots in my muscles and stomach start to dissipate.

  It felt wonderful and I wished that I could lay there forever. For the first ten minutes I just stared at the diamond heart that I held gently suspended in my fingertips. I closed my eyes after the sparkles began to hurt my eyes and my mind relaxed. For the first time, in a long time I didn’t think about anything.

  The aroma of the bubble bath seemed to transport me to a peaceful place as my mind began to wander. A picture of a lake with beautiful trees, and a waterfall stood right in front of me. I was so close I could feel the spray of the water as it made contact with the rocks below creating lacey patterns around the leaves floating as if they were performing a choreographed dance around the swirling water. I would have never guessed my mind could create a place as serene and magical as the one before me. Just behind me, a wooden bench suddenly appeared as I felt the urge to sit down. I smiled as I plunged myself onto the warm, soft wood of the bench, lifting my face to the sun and absorbing its warmth. I felt as if I could stay there forever just watching the ducks and swans on the lake and listening to the relaxing bubbling of the waterfall. Suddenly, there was a sharp banging sound that felt as if it was coming from inside my head.

  I jumped and water flew o
ver the edges of the porcelain tub as a knock on the door brought me staggering back to reality. The water had long since lost its temperature and was now lukewarm.

  “Lucian’s on the phone,” the voice yelled through the closed door.

  Lucian….

  I got out and carefully wrapped a towel around my body. I wasn’t even close to being finished with my bath and decided to just pour in more hot water once I was off the phone.

  Walking into the room, I saw his face illuminating from my Cammy that Becky had placed on my bed.

  “Come,” Sammy waved at me as I ran to face him.

  The expression on his face looked shocked and surprised as he took me in. For a moment I had forgotten that I was just in a towel.

  “You are really spoiling a very good bath,” I joked. “Thank you so much for my gifts. They are beautiful.”

  “I’m glad that you are wearing my heart.” He gave me his super sexy smile. “How on earth do you expect me to talk to you like a normal person when you are just wrapped in a towel?”

  “Oh, for crying out loud, do you want me to dress first?”

  “No, towel is fine.” He wiped at the corners of his mouth playfully.

  “What did they say?” I asked as a new warm feeling grew and began spreading in my gut.

  “It worked.”

  “What!” All of us yelled at him at the same time.

  “Are you serious?” I asked a bit loud.

  “Dead serious.” He smiled from ear to ear. “They dropped me off at the hotel after the function and only came back about ten minutes ago. I wanted to still argue when my Dad blurted out that it was fine.”

  “You’re not getting married anymore?” Becky interrupted.

  “King Caleb is going to love that one, but my father said he will speak to him at the next Council meeting.”

  “Yes,” I fell on the bed and the Cammy fell to the floor. Sammy and Becky both went for it and we found Lucian chuckling.

  “I’m glad you are so happy. I got to go, my Mom’s calling.”

  “Okay, love you.”

  “Love you more.”

 
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