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       Moonbeam, p.9

           Adrienne Woods
 

  I didn’t like this. Not one bit.

  Stop staring at him, Elena. I can take care of myself. He wants his match. He will get it soon enough.

  I liked that.

  “How did you do that?” my father asked, looking at Blake, then at me.

  “It’s a technique I picked up,” Blake said evasively.

  “What else can you do?” My father was curious about us.

  Great call, Elena. Scary call, but this might just work.

  Don’t tell them about our connection.

  I won’t.

  “I’m fully developed. I have all my abilities. And Merica is my rider. My true rider. I mean no harm.”

  “Have you turned dark?” Sir Robert wanted to know.

  “As dark as Quitto. But like I said, Merica showed me the light. I’m not that dragon anymore.”

  “Al,” Sir Robert said.

  “He seems like he’s telling the truth, Bob.”

  “Two Rubicons can’t live in the same time,” he growled through clenched teeth.

  The words popped out of my mouth before I could consider them. “We mean your son no harm.”

  Sir Robert’s eyes flashed at me. “How do you know about my son?” he barked.

  “We heard about him,” I said quickly. “And Cooper felt something when his egg hatched.”

  Nice comeback.

  “It’s one of the reasons we left our village. They were scared if you knew about his existence, you would try to slay him. It’s why we are here: to show you that’s not necessary.”

  Every one of them kept quiet for a while.

  Please buy it, please, please.

  They are contemplating, Elena. Just give them time.

  “What do you think, Goran?” my father asked.

  Not him, please.

  He stepped forward and looked Blake straight in the eye. Don’t see the enchantment. Don’t see it.

  He smiled. “I think they are telling the truth. Might as well see where this leads.”

  I hated the tone he used. He wanted to claim Blake. I knew it.

  “Perfect!” My father clapped his hands again as more danger threw a sudden weight on my shoulders.

  I can handle him, Elena. We know what he is.

  “Would you like to come over to the castle?”

  So, we’d gotten an invitation. We followed them all the way back to the castle. Sir Robert asked me questions about how I’d tamed the Rubicon. I answered as best I could with Blake’s help. He was busy speaking to my father about the two of us. Just as I’d thought he would.

  He wanted to learn more, to know what my future would involve.

  I gasped as I reached the back of the castle. It looked so different. The waterfall was still there, but there were many more things going on in our backyard. For one, there was a maze, similar to the maze Lucian had taken me through in Tith. Our new castle didn’t have one; instead there were large oak trees shading tall windows.

  This castle was so much bigger, so much more majestic, than the one I now called home. My eyes landed on the west wing. I knew she was in there, somewhere.

  Just looking at it was causing me to push back the tears.

  We followed them through a back door. In our castle this entire area had been turned into a porch, the same porch where I’d found my father and Constance dancing.

  My gaze caught on one room at the top of the west wing that had an opening. Is that my mother’s room?

  When we entered, Goran excused himself from the group and my eyes found Blake. I had no idea how long we had. For all we knew he could be going to get his militia now, to command the attack.

  Calm down, Elena. I will find out. Just calm down.

  I know you will. I took a deep, steadying breath. I’m just on edge.

  “Abby, would you be so kind as to show our visitors to the guest room, please?”

  She bowed, smiled, and told us to follow her.

  She led us to the east wing. It was just as I remembered it that night Lucian had brought me here through a memory to let me see how much both my parents wanted me. It was perfect with the royal blue carpets, not the cherry wood Dad had put in after the renovation.

  We walked down a hall that had many of my ancestors’ pictures lining the walls. For some funny reason, I felt like I was finally home. The paintings had been destroyed during the battle. William’s mug smirked down from one.

  Blake squeezed my shoulder.

  I told you it was beautiful.

  Yes, you did.

  “You two don’t say much, do you?” Abby was rather bold for a maid.

  “We are souls with not a lot to say,” I said, smiling.

  She opened the guestroom door. “Fresh towels are in the bathroom.”

  “Thank you so much.” Blake sounded as charming as he could and she closed the door.

  Okay so both of us are born, my mind rambled.

  I need to know how much time…

  His peacock eyes were filled with compassion. Calm down, love. We will. Just be patient.

  What if it is tonight?

  Then I will scorch his ass while you go free your mom. As simple as that.

  I nodded.

  We defeated him once, Elena. He brushed my cheek. We can do it again. Your blood is the key. Your parents might not know it, so this night might have a different outcome, if… He lingered on the “if.” If this is the night.

  I sighed. Okay.

  We had a feast of a breakfast. Over the past forty-eight hours, we had eaten nothing but William’s slop and granola bars. We were ravenous.

  All my father’s men and his dragon were sitting around a table with Goran at the other end.

  How easy it would be just to wring his neck…

  Don’t, Elena. I know you want him to die. But we can’t leave this era if we can’t get to the Beam. We can’t go home, Blake warned me.

  The hardest part was walking past Goran from the coffee station. I would’ve loved to know what was going on in his mind at this moment. How great was his hatred for my father, smiling at him, pretending to be his friend, when in fact he was far from it?

  We got seated close to my father and the first thing Blake grabbed was the newspaper in front of my dad.

  He only looked at the date. It was reflected in his mind for me to see. We’d landed perfectly this time, at the cusp of the twenty-first century. In fact, we had three days before the betrayal.

  Not a lot of time to get my dad to trust us. How are we going to tell him?

  My father asked Blake a question. He answered it through a joke. Everyone laughed. Then he gave me his silent answer. Through our Moon-Bolt gift.

  Perfect.

  I had a croissant with eggs. Blake ate like a demon. It had been two days since we’d had a decent meal.

  “That trip must have been really long,” Goran noted in a tone that made my skin crawl. As if he knew we were from the future, as if he knew exactly who we were.

  Easy, Elena. It’s just a comment.

  “Two days’ flight. Without rest or a meal.”

  “Then have another plate,” my father said. They laughed again.

  The door creaked open. We were about five paces away from the hallway. One of the older maids appeared. Everyone looked up—my father, Goran, and Sir Robert.

  I squinted at them and looked at the maid.

  Another woman followed her. I gasped when I saw who it was: my mother.

  “Katie!” My father’s entire face lit up, but she was a shell of a woman.

  She stopped and stared at him. Blake stroked my leg underneath the table to calm the emotions that were jumping all over the place in my heart.

  “What, Albert?” she said without any rhythm. Like a zombie.

  “Join us for breakfast, please. We have extraordinary guests this morning.”

  “I’m not in the mood for your hosting games,” she said as she walked on without giving us the time of day.

  The dining area fell into an awkwa
rd silence. Everyone looked down. My father’s face fell and he sighed. His lips curved into a smile.

  “Forgive my queen. She lost her dragon a year ago.”

  You sure it’s just her dragon, Dad?

  Easy, love, Blake warned again.

  I kept thinking about my mother. Blake’s memories didn’t portray her in the best light.

  “She was part of a Dent, right?” I asked, and my father nodded.

  “I can just imagine what she must be going through. If I lost…”

  Cooper, Blake reminded me.

  “Cooper, I wouldn’t know how to go on,” I laid it on thick.

  “Well, I’m sure it would be something like that.” My father gave a kind smile.

  I didn’t want to look at Goran anymore. He was going to go down. I didn’t care how. He would not be in our future. He wasn’t going to be the reason my mom died. She was going to live, and she would be reunited with me. Soon.

  We told them as much as we could over the next few hours. All the abilities we had—well, not the mind reading one, but the others.

  Goran listened with big ears. My father, too. Both men were really intrigued, and Sir Robert as well, but all of them did it for different reasons.

  “That vanishing thing you do?” Goran asked Blake.

  “I call it my blending technique. I don’t really vanish.”

  “It’s remarkable,” he said.

  “We are one of a kind.” Blake sounded so friendly but in his mind, he wanted to wring Goran’s neck.

  “And your shield?”

  I knew what he was doing. He wanted to see if Blake was really that powerful.

  “One of the best there is,” he boasted.

  “How good?” My father wanted to know.

  Blake told them only half of it. He didn’t mention that ours had turned solid a few years ago. It wasn’t easy to do.

  They all listened to him with admiration.

  I missed his real face. He shot me a picture of himself shaving in the mirror.

  I smiled a secret little smile. But I caught Goran’s eyes on me. Watching. Calculating.

  That night I struggled to fall asleep. I could go and kill Goran. Right now.

  Blake touched my breast. Don’t. Just don’t. I’m already on edge and I just want something to take my mind off today.

  Images of the two of us on the bed flashed through his mind. Heat flooded my cheeks. I turned around.

  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

  He didn’t look like Blake.

  Close your eyes, Elena.

  I did. He changed into my Blake.

  He kissed me. His lips were light as feathers. Hot. It still felt like him. It was him, just in disguise. He pulled me in closer, pushing me beneath his powerful body and nestling in between my legs. I gasped in ecstasy.

  With each thrust, each kiss, it progressed into something much more than making love.

  He was literally inside my head. It felt as if a dragon possessed me, and Blake, Blake was the whisperer who calmed my soul.

  Only one day remained.

  When we walked downstairs, we found my father and Goran at the table. Sir Robert hadn’t come in yet.

  They were talking about something that was going to happen in the next few weeks. A meeting with the Wyverns.

  I looked at Blake as we approached them.

  Soon, Elena. We will tell him soon.

  I nodded.

  Just don’t say anything about the Wyverns. He is their king.

  “Have you seen the Rogue yourself?”

  Rogue? I thought.

  “No, not yet. Soon, Al,” Goran said, lying to my father’s face. “I saw his second-in-command and he said he would speak to him. He’s interested in an alliance. Your dream of freeing all dragons will come true.”

  I hated his tone. He’d manipulated my father so much. Preyed on his dreams. Making it sound like a reality that was, in fact, fiction.

  You think the bastard is this Rogue they are talking about?

  Goran? Yeah, he is. Rogue was another name for the Wyvern King.

  I despised him even more.

  We walked into the dining area and my father’s face lit up.

  “Oh good. The lovebirds are finally awake,” Goran said as if he knew what we’d done last night.

  “Sorry if we kept you awake,” Blake said and my father laughed.

  “Goran has enhanced hearing, and some of the rooms are not soundproof. Sorry about that,” my father apologized. I flushed crimson and giggled, embarrassed.

  “Oh, please don’t. This castle hasn’t had much love lately. You are a breath of fresh air.”

  I gaped. Was my father flirting with me?

  Blake laughed in my head.

  “Easy there, King Albert. I’m still a very possessive dragon,” Blake teased.

  My father and Goran roared with laughter.

  A little while later, my father took us on a tour of the castle. He spoke about all our ancestors. Blake stopped in front of William.

  “King William and his bravery,” he said.

  “He wasn’t brave,” my father spoke. “He never wanted to find a way to tame them.”

  “Well, I’m sure if someone told him that dragons could actually be changed, then maybe he would’ve listened.”

  “Nah, I don’t believe that. He wasn’t a man they could reasoned with.”

  “How did the name Quitto come into existence?” Blake asked.

  “He gave it to him, actually. Or so the tale goes.”

  “The tale?”

  “I’m sure they told you about the previous Rubicon. Funny.” My father looked pensive as he ambled further down the hall.

  He walked into the library and took an old book of the shelf. It was a book about the Rubicon.

  I’ve never seen that book before.

  It was destroyed, Elena.

  He plopped it on the table and started paging through it rapidly.

  “What is it?” Blake asked.

  “On his deathbed, he revealed that there was a time when there appeared to be two Rubicons soaring the sky at the same time.” My father read with his finger tracing the paragraphs. He showed it to Blake.

  “I always thought it was symbolic, but now I realize there really must have been two.”

  I read it, too. There was nothing written about a wildling. Blake carried on reading, dying to know if we’d made a difference in that timeline, but it seemed we hadn’t. William still slayed dragons and ended up killing the Rubicon. Slaughter was his addiction.

  Fucking asshole.

  Blake put the book down. He wielded his shield around us and looked at my father.

  My father squinted. “You can hardly hear it.”

  “Advanced, my king.”

  “Albert, please.”

  Blake smiled and let down his shield.

  Why didn’t you tell him? We might never get another chance.

  It’s too early in the day, love. If it goes wrong, we won’t be able to leave.

  I got what he was saying. If my father didn’t believe him, we would be stuck in this time, maybe even killed.

  We left the library and the tour progressed.

  The lobby was gorgeous. Most of it had been destroyed and rebuilt in my time. These stairs were different. My mother’s painting hung way above.

  She was so beautiful, vivacious and young—twenty, maybe twenty-one.

  He needed to believe us.

  We ate lunch outside on a porch that was also destroyed in our time. Small dogs cavorted at our feet.

  Goran was nowhere to be found.

  “I’m sorry to intrude,” Blake said. “Enhanced hearing. I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation this morning.”

  My father sipped coffee and put it back on the saucer.

  “You want to know what it is I love about Wyverns?”

  He nodded.

  “Dragon is dragon, whether they have four legs or two. They have human forms, too, you
know, and we do know of one or two with a few abilities,” my father spoke.

  “All of them have abilities,” I spoke up.

  My father’s gaze found mine. “You know the Wyverns?”

  “My king, they can’t be reasoned with. You need to let this dream go.”

  “Goran can speak fluent Wyvic, and he told me differently.”

  I hated that. I just wished that I could tell him that he was the one that Irene warned them about, the one that was going to betray them, shake him until he listened.

  “Then I wish you luck. We trusted a Wyvern once, in our village. We thought he wanted to change, but we lost a dear friend. He only wanted to kill Merica.”

  My father stared at me.

  “Sorry that we don’t share your beliefs,” I spoke.

  “He told you what they can do?”

  I nodded. “But it’s best to leave it there.” He was going to tell Goran this. I knew he would.

  “Please,” he insisted. “I’m intrigued by them. Tell me.”

  Tell him, Elena. It won’t matter if he shares this with Goran or not, Blake encouraged me.

  I told him what Paul told me. What they could do. “All the Wyverns are fire-breathers. The Raven-Snout can influence minds, read it, put thoughts into it, and make them see things that aren’t there. The Hammer-Head is a trickster, their form can appear and re-appear in different spots. They say the older they get the more copies of themselves they can generate. The Brown-Horn’s scales are like flying stars. They can release them and new ones can grow in their place. The same for some of the horns on their back. Their horns are dangerous and carries a poison, that ages you extremely fast until you die.

  The Spike and Spear-Tail look so much alike. But one has the ability to see through animal eyes’ and the other one can suck out souls.

  “The more they have, the longer they can live. With each soul they have a life. So they can die ten times over.”

  My father was hanging onto my every word.

  But he had admiration for them still, not fear. He needed fear.

  My heart beat faster as Queen Margerite and King Helmut made their appearance.

  Lucian was holding her hand. He was only four.

  “You must be the special guests,” Queen Margerite said. I couldn’t stop looking at Lucian. He was hiding behind his mother.

  Blake answered on my behalf.

 
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