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Starlight: Part 1 – Chapter 3

I had to admit I was so scared because there was absolutely nothing to hold me in place on Blake’s back. No saddle, just bare back with plenty of horns and scales. I climbed on via his wing, the same way I had with Cheng, but it was not as easy because he was twice Cheng’s size and I kept sliding off.


“Elena, is it going to be today?” Becky yelled in a teasing tone, and the entire class laughed.


“A little help, please,” I begged as I clung like a monkey on his wing and couldn’t find a way further up his back. Blake flipped his wing up gently, which made me fly into the air and come crashing down on his back.


“Thanks for that graceful landing.” I was being sarcastic.


His entire body shook, a tremble of sorts as I pushed myself onto my feet and climbed to the first horn on his back, nearest his neck.


The feeling was overpowering. No one, other than Lucian, had ever ridden with Blake, and here I was, the girl who hadn’t even known dragons existed, on the back of the most powerful dragon in the entire world.


I stationed myself in front of the huge horn, grabbed two of the long tendrils that covered his neck, and smiled as I remembered the way he’d held mine tightly when I’d given him a dragon ride a few months back when Cara was still with me.


“Ouch,” he said. “That is actually attached to me.”


“See it as a bit of payback.”


“Payback? You really want to go there?”


“Okay, don’t see it as payback.” I loosened my grip. “How is this?”


“Much better, you ready?”


“No, but then again I might never be.”


“C’mon, Elena, you are past the heights thing.”


“It’s not the heights that I’m afraid of this time, it’s the falling off.”


“What, no faith in me? That’s not a good way to start off your first riding lesson, princess.”


Professor Vladimir, who was already mounted on Professor Alexandra, gave the class the order, and one by one they ran a few steps and took off.


I took a deep breath and put my flying goggles over my eyes.


We were the last to leave, and I laughed again as Becky and George lifted off after a short run. She whooped loudly, and I could tell she was made for the sky. Becky should’ve been a dragon.


“Okay, let’s do this,” I said, and he didn’t run at all, he just flapped his wings gracefully, and we gained height within four flaps.


The class was a few miles in front of us, and I laughed as Blake went higher and higher.


“We are losing them.”


“See if I care. You don’t need these stupid classes.” We carried on flapping through clouds. I looked back down and could hardly see the outline of the Coliseum.


He stopped flapping and dove.


I shrieked from excitement as he plunged, back down again. The Coliseum and everything came back instantly as the clouds disappeared and adrenaline pumped through my veins as the ground came nearer and nearer. Then he changed his direction just as we were about to collide.


His paws took a short run and he darted back up.


It was like I was Cara. I was finally free, and it was something I hadn’t felt in a long, long time. I didn’t want this to end.


The only thing I didn’t like much was not having a saddle under me, but the wind blowing through my hair and brushing against my skin made up for it.


We were disappearing into the clouds again. The class was gone, and I couldn’t stop grinning broadly.


“Where the hell are you going?”


“You’ll see,” he said as we went higher and higher until we broke through the clouds and were on top of a bed of white fluff.


I gasped at its beauty. The fluff appeared solid, like one could actually stand on it and not fall through. The sky was the most beautiful blue with the sun sparkling slightly off Blake’s scales.


We flew past a flock of wild geese. I couldn’t stop staring at them, seeing how the wind beneath their wings kept them afloat.


My heart stuttered from pure excitement.


“You missed this?” Blake asked.


“You have no idea.”


Silence followed for a minute.


“I’m sorry about Cara.” His voice was coarse, but different. I knew he meant it.


My heart clenched as I thought about her. I missed being with her, in the sky. “She was never supposed to wake up.”


“It’s not what I mean,” he said. “I’m sorry that you had to kill her in order to claim me.”


I immediately recalled that night, the night I had to say goodbye. I had hated him so much back then. “It’s in the past,” I said, and he left it there.


Neither of us spoke for a long while, and for the first time ever I wished I could hear what was going on in his mind, to know what he was thinking, what he was feeling, and the way he used to connect to my emotions.


I closed my eyes and tried to embrace this feeling. This was our very first flight, and I really didn’t want it to be a sad one.


I opened my eyes again when I felt a change in direction and saw mountains.


They weren’t any that I remembered as he aimed for a landing. The treetops were right below his paws. A couple of lengths further, the treetops stopped and revealed an opening where he could land.


He stopped in midair, and his wings flapped once again, making a huge whooshing sound until we were safely on the ground. It was a graceful landing, even if he was a hulking giant of a dragon, and I slid off his wing, which was extremely fun and much easier than climbing on.


“That was fun!” I said and turned away from him to look around. We were in a meadow and the sun shone brightly on the boulders around us. A stream could be heard nearby, and the scent of wet moss lingered in the air.


Trees covered the rest of the mountain. It was simply beautiful, and I hated the fact that I didn’t know all of Paegeia’s beauty yet. “Where are we?”


He didn’t reply, and when I turned back to him the dragon was gone and I was in his arms.


His lips brushed mind softly, and then it broke into a kiss.


I wasn’t even afraid. I felt safe with him, like nothing on this earth could ever harm me again as long as he was alive. His kiss grew, not vigorously like that time in my room, but deeper. His kisses were amazing.


It made me feel all sorts of things at once. It made my stomach flip, it made me want more, and I forgot where and who I was. Nothing mattered anymore.


The strong smell of fire and acid mixed with sweet musky essence filled my nose. It was a real dragon smell, and so strong, but I couldn’t stop kissing him, and when our breathing became heavy, he stopped.


My back was against a tree, something I hadn’t even felt when he pushed me against it. My eyes were still closed and I knew he was buck-naked.


A chuckle escaped his lips. “Sorry about that.” He spoke softly, which made me smile, but I refused to open my eyes.


“You really need to get used to me being naked, Elena. It’s the most natural thing in the world,” he said close to my ear, which brought on a million goose bumps.


“You clearly haven’t been on the other side of that wall.”


He laughed. His lips brushed mine softly and he gave me a peck on the lips.


He inhaled deeply. “Fine, I’ll only be a minute.”


I opened my eyes when I heard his feet breaking twigs and leaves and I couldn’t help but watch his retreating figure.


My cheeks heat up as he was really buck-naked.


He disappeared behind another set of trees, and I sat down and leaned against the one behind me.


It was really peaceful. The only sound was the sun baking on beetles.


Twigs snapped and I looked toward the direction Blake disappeared a few minutes ago. He was walking with a backpack in his hands, wearing a shirt and a pair of jeans.


“How did you?”


“I told you before, I’m always prepared.”


“You planned this, didn’t you?”


“I’m a guy of many talents, and had free time in Art of War.”


I laughed as he came to sit next to me. “About that, everyone wants to know how long are you planning on staying a dragon?”


“I told you before, Elena, dragon is what I am.”


“So for a long time?”


He cocked his head and took a water bottle out of his pack, opened it and took a few gulps. “Until you break that stupid Tabitha promise.”


I smiled. “Blake, I feel really bad about that. She really loves you, and I know you love her too. I’m not stupid.”


He narrowed his eyes. “I broke up with her about five months ago.”


“What?” Why did she ask me? My jaw muscles jumped slightly as I thought about her interrogation. “But you are always with her.”


“To give you space. I couldn’t hang with you guys because of how you felt, so I hang with them.”


“No, I saw you guys.”


A huge grin broke over his face.


“Not what I meant, okay? But yes, I looked in your direction from time to time and you guys still looked like the happy couple you always were.”


“We were never a happy couple. Sure she has been one of my friends for a long time, but that was about it.”


“One of your friends?” I raised my eyebrow.


“Fine, friends with benefits, but it wasn’t real. She knows how I feel about her and how I feel about you.”


I took a huge breath and stretched out my arms in front of me. I told myself I wasn’t going to fall for this and still felt that the dent was a stupid spell. I buried my face in my knees. “Tell me how it works, please,” I mumbled.


“You need to be patient.”


Our eyes met again. “There is nobody here. Wield your shield or something.”


“Shields can be penetrated.” He looked with huge eyes and a slight smile at the trees.


“They don’t have ears.”


“We are inside Paegeia.”


“Then how do I trust this?”


He frowned slightly. “Trust what?”


“You can’t be mad at me. I can’t trust this.”


“You want me to become my old self again? I might just love the dark again and then you’ll have to spank me,” he joked.


I wanted to laugh, I really did, but this was a serious matter. “It’s not a joke. I’m serious.”


“I’m too, it’s real,” he simply said and touched my fingers. “And if you don’t believe that, then give it time.”


I just looked at him. “Time!” I pulled my fingers out of his hand and pushed myself from the ground, wanting to leave, but I couldn’t. I was here with him. I turned around. “For what, so that I can fall even harder for you, and for you to just tell me again you don’t want me whenever this wears off?” My hands were everywhere in the air. I shook my head and pulled my hands through it, just to calm down.


I turned away from him because I couldn’t look at him. Pissed at myself again for telling him how I felt about him and about all of this. I was just opening myself up for more disappointment. I couldn’t trust this, I shouldn’t. I needed to know what the dent was all about before I opened myself to him again. I needed to know how it made dragons change, where their love for their riders came from.


His arms wrapped around my waist from behind and his breath was in my ears. It really felt so good having him so near me. I was growing so used to this, so quickly.


“I’m never going to change my mind, you hear? This is me. Or what I used to be like before the darkness set in. I’m yours, forever and ever, if that is what you want. If not, I’ll be whatever you need.”


I turned my neck and looked at him. Whatever I need? Who is this guy?


“Give it time. I’m sure that the bond will mend, hopefully soon, and I’ll show you that the dent isn’t some spell or enslavement. Okay?”


I nodded and took a deep breath. I turned around and rested my head against his chest. I could feel his lips brushing my head softly.


“Now, there are a couple of things I have to get off my chest,” he said and I looked up at him.


“Like what?”


He didn’t say anything. “Blake?”


“About who I used to be, the way I treated you ever since that night I woke up when Matt brought you here.”


I knew about that; it was the story he’d started to tell me a couple of months ago when he’d trained me to kill him. It sounded so stupid now thinking about it.


“You don’t need…”


He pressed his finger on my lips. “Shhh, just shhh,” he said, and led me to the nearest boulder.


I sat and he took the ground below me. His arms rested on his knees, and for a few seconds he didn’t look at me.


“What I said on that mountain was the truth.” He looked to the ground. “I woke up that night. I went to investigate. I had no idea why I woke up, and I couldn’t understand this feeling that was inside of me.” Our eyes met again. “Matt told me about you, how you looked like King Albert. All the professors were gossiping about that. Wondering. Constance was the worst. Many had their features, Elena, many and not one turned out to be some sort of a descendant. I told myself over and over, it wasn’t the reason I woke up.” He smiled and then he sighed.


“There were others that looked like them.”


“Not the way you do, but yes. They either shared one of your mother’s features or your father’s eyes. It was always his eyes, never anything else.” He rubbed the side of his mouth hard, as if he was thinking. “He told me about how he found you, that your father had phoned him. He didn’t even know how he had his number. He was about to meet the both of you at some sort of destination on the other side but you never made it, and then Herbert phoned saying that dragons were attacking and that you guys needed help.”


I nodded.


“He used to tell me about Fox way before your father found a way into the picture, and wondered if it wasn’t linked to you, but I told him it couldn’t. My father would’ve known. To be honest, it scared the living crap out of me, the way he spoke about you, the way it worried him.”


“Tanya told me about Fox, how many came and vowed to keep me safe.”


“Fox knew, Elena. He was older than Irene, at least three times her age.”


“He was a thousand years old.” I remember the guy of that night on Interstate 40. He had appeared to be in his mid-twenties.


“He wasn’t like Irene, he was dark. Didn’t want an alliance with the humans. We would never know what he did, but we can easily put two and two together. None of that mattered, though, as nobody born this side could leave – well, no human.”


He smiled softly. “That should’ve put some ease on my mind, but it didn’t. I lay in bed, wondering why the minute he brought you here, I woke up.”


This was intense. Was our bond really that strong?


“I wondered about that the entire night and the next day, I knew why.” A grin formed on his lips. “When you walked out of the cafeteria and stood next to Becky, in awe of everything around you, the feeling of what had taken place inside of me was so intense. It felt as if I was getting crushed, I couldn’t breathe, but I hid it from all the others, and I just knew. I didn’t even worry about how they’d gotten you to the other side. They were King Albert and Queen Catherine, the smartest people I ever knew. Everything that they’d done for me in the past, the warning glares, even the soft ones, it all made sense.”


“You saw me that day?” I remembered that day clearly. He’d stood out from all of them, and I’d stared like an idiot.


He smiled as if he could read my mind. “Yes, and I have to say that little moment you had before Tabitha flipped you off, it was extremely hard not to look back.”


I felt so embarrassed. Of course he knew I’d stared at him.


“Well, the dick part of me knew about what had happened, as Matt had told me everything. And I know I told you I didn’t know, but I did know that dragons had attacked and that one was Fox. I wanted to scare you. I wanted you to lose your mind so that you wouldn’t gain confidence to do what it was you had to do. I wanted to break you.”


I swallowed hard as he said that, knowing he’d lied, said that he hadn’t known when I’d asked him back then.


“I was messed up back then. The dark had its claws inside of me already, and I didn’t want you close to me.”


I stared at him with soft eyes. He was gazing at the boulder then he looked at me.


“Remember when I told you that Lucian made me sick whenever he was near? That light, that pure heart he carried, his good intentions.”


I nodded.


“It was worse with you, so I had to do everything in my power to make you keep your distance.”


“I made you sick?”


“It wasn’t like that. I don’t know how to explain it. It was pure hatred, because I knew who you were, and I didn’t want to be claimed. I thought I didn’t need a rider and that the beatings would be so much better than you claiming me.”


I took a deep breath through my nostrils. I loved the honesty, but I didn’t like that it was so direct, and coming from him, well it hurt knowing I’d been right. He had hated my guts.


“When my mother told me that a wyvern was attending Dragonia and claimed to be your dragon, I was out of my element. I knew that it would throw you off, but I also knew Paul’s intentions were wrong. Still, I didn’t care.” He shook his head.


“Why are you –”


“Just listen, you need to understand what it was you did for me.”


I nodded, but I really didn’t want to hear this.


“I watched how everyone started to trust him. It was like a game, one I loved so much, and then you just had to say that.”




“That you were hearing a voice in your mind.” He shook his head. “I didn’t like that one bit, and I had to know if it was mine, so I kept tabs on you, in class and in that one lecture about the Green-Vapor. Well, I knew the answer, and I knew you didn’t, you couldn’t, so I sent it to you, and of course you answered.” He smiled. “I can’t recall if I’ve ever felt so disgusted with everything we shared as I did that day.”




He closed his eyes. “Just listen.” He sounded slightly annoyed, and I kept my mouth shut. He opened his eyes again. “I never wanted this. I am the Rubicon, for crying out loud.” He chuckled once. “They had to kill Quito because he couldn’t be tamed, and here they send me a girl that didn’t even know that dragons exist. You know how unworthy that felt?”


I could relate to that. Nicole had tried to claim me once; she hadn’t been worthy either.


“But then, out of the blue, Lucian told me the crazy mission you were planning after the King of Lion sword was stolen, and I had to go and see if you were serious about finding it. So I told him I would come with.”


He chuckled softly. “You pissed me off so much when you told me that no man could enter that cave, and I silently wished that you would fail, even if it meant that the sword would be lost. But then you came back out, seconds after you went in. I didn’t understand any of it. It was like you just couldn’t die, that fate was forcing this upon me.” He sounded frustrated, and gestured with his hands while he spoke. His voice became deeper and he sounded calm again. “But it was also the first time I felt that you were worthy. Something I’d only felt with Lucian.” He sighed.


“Still, I fought against this, as I didn’t want to become a pathetic lamb, to succumb and become someone’s property. I was the Rubicon, the baddest dragon out there.”


Yeah, so you’ve said a couple of times. A part of me was pissed off with him. So many people had died. “So you lied to everyone, even to me that night, when I asked you if maybe there was someone out there?”


He chuckled. “Didn’t you hear what I just said? I had to say that so that you wouldn’t put two and two together.”


I nodded.


“Lying to everyone wasn’t my biggest sin, and I fear one day you will discover all the shit I’ve done, you won’t want anything to do with me.”


I felt bad for him again. I would never judge him like that, or turn my back on him because of what he had done in the past, I’d killed three people, for crying out loud.


“My dark side didn’t want you. It didn’t want to go back to being good, but I still carried a bit of good. That night, I didn’t know how much. But when that Dragonian stabbed you, I wanted to scream like Lucian because he was killing my last chance of fulfilling my destiny. I knew your axes would kill him because they had your blood all over them.” He looked at me. “Yeah, I believed Cheng’s theory too. Even if everyone thought it was far-fetched, to me it wasn’t. I knew your parents well and they were magical. I hope that one day you will get a chance to see the man your father is.”


I didn’t want to hope. I wanted to meet him for real so badly, but what were the chances? One of us was going to die. I didn’t want it to be him, and if it was me, I would never get to meet my dad for real.


“It became evident when your axes hit his chest and turned him into a pile of dust who you were. Even though I knew, I always had that doubt. It was why I didn’t think twice when it was all over to get you the help you needed.”


“Master Longwei told me about that. He said that you almost died flying so hard to get me back to Dragonia, and then you refused to let me thank you.”


He flinched as I said that. “Elena,” he said, rubbing his face. “It was the time I really regretted it.”


I huffed. I always knew he never really wanted to save me, but hearing it out loud was different.


“But at that moment I didn’t care, because you were my last chance. My good side overpowered my bad side for the first time in a long time.”


The corners of my lips curved slightly as I remembered something else. “So whenever you were drunk…”


“I told you the beast in me was jolly, so yeah, I tried so many times to tell you, but thanks to my sister and knowing my bad intentions, I didn’t get a chance, and believe me I was so happy about that when I sobered up.”


I remembered all the times he’d gotten drunk. At the revealing of the King of Lion mission, when I’d found him behind me, at the camp. Where he’d actually told me but he couldn’t control his compulsion yet. That night he’d thrown rocks at Becky’s window. All attempts to tell me the truth. I felt so stupid now.


“So the second time at the Warbel games, you just had to save me again.”


“Yeah, and believe me, I was seriously getting tired of it.”


I nodded and swallowed hard.


“When I discovered that you drank Fire Powder and nothing happened, I knew you were close to ascending, finding out who you really were.” I took a deep breath but he kept going on. “That was why I loved Paul so much, but I kept him close, trying to find out what his game was.” He looked at me again. “I didn’t even feel bad about all the times I had to act, asking everyone to help Lucian find out what could claim me, it was just another game. To see who was the smartest. I have to say, Professor Pheizer was hard to fool.”


“Professor Pheizer?”


He smiled. “Yeah, she had that knowing look on her face every time I entered her stupid classroom. It was filled with disgust. She even told me once that she was on to me.” His eyebrows rose and he puffed out a breath. “Scary times. You do not want to know the thoughts that went through my head, and when Lucian barged through the door after his quest, I knew he knew the truth. He asked me where you were, and I told him you took a stroll with Paul, told him that you felt nothing for him because you’d kissed him.”


“You knew?”


He tapped his temple. “I knew.”


I wanted to cry. I knew Lucian had known about that, but Blake just confirmed how much Lucian knew.


“He didn’t care, he just wanted to find you because he knew why Paul was here. I told him that you were in the cave up north and he begged me to come with. I thought it was my last chance to get rid of you, and if I didn’t witness it, my good wouldn’t overpower my dark again, and I would finally be free.”


Shit, he was such a selfish prick.


“And then he said it. That I knew nothing, and I would never know anything. He told me that I’d just broken his promise. He was never going to try claim me again. It didn’t even matter then, but Tabitha was shocked about it because she thought that Lucian was the only one that could claim me, so she begged and begged until I felt like I was going out of my mind, so I went.”




“Closer to the cavern, I smelled the hippogriff. It was so strong, and I went in. I saw a purple dragon, one I’d never seen before, and I saw Lucian’s body just lying there. I thought you were finally dead, and the hippogriff disappeared. You knew my name and I just stood there. I didn’t understand, and when you said that it was you…” He stopped and bit his lower lip. “I couldn’t tell you how that made me feel. Hope was gone, and it was as if I’d lost something huge that day. I eventually followed the hippogriff, lost her again and came back. When you begged me to help Lucian, I’d never felt so stupid. He was my best friend, and I never wanted anything to hurt him. I never in a million years thought that he would die. He was so indestructible, but it was the poison of the hippogriff that killed him.”


A stray tear ran down his face, and I wanted to cry too.


He wiped it away. “I hated you more after that because I blamed you. That’s how messed up I was. I blamed you because it was you he’d fallen in love with. If you were not in his life, he would’ve never been in that cave. That was why I didn’t want to help you find your dragon when Master Longwei asked me. I knew that I would turn, I always knew, but for a short time, that hope that came with you, caused me to forget the consequences of me turning, and it all came back the minute you turned into a dragon. I knew that Goran was going to claim me, and I would destroy this world and all the people I cared for, which wasn’t much, but it was enough for me to commit suicide.”


He huffed at that thought, and the lines on his lips had become so thin. He was disgusted about that now.


“Then you turned into a Rubicon.” He chuckled again. “I thought it was a sign, that there would be someone out there that would kill me. I thought it was why I’d woken up that night, because of another Rubicon that had entered through the wall. Everything about what I believed you were disappeared as it became evident, and I thought I’d been wrong.” He sighed again. “Never in a million years did I think it was because of me that you turned into a Rubicon, because of this bond we shared. That was why I helped you, but you know that part.”


I nodded as I thought about that day again. He’d broken my heart.


“That night when you told me that you couldn’t do it, that you loved me…I had to lie.”


“About what now?”


“About you making me feel normal when I’m with you. I didn’t want to trust it, so I can relate to how you don’t trust this. I loved spending time with you, that was real, and I wanted you to know that. And yes, those times I wanted to kiss you…I really did, but I knew that what you had to do would be hard, so I had to distance myself from you so that one day you could do that.”


“You broke my heart that night.” My voice broke.


His brow furrowed as I tried to hide the tears that welled up in my eyes. “A part of me broke that day too. When I said those words. I had no choice as I was dark. I didn’t want you there with me, and it’s hard to explain it.” He huffed again. “I know what you felt was real, and I also know that you would never destroy me, so I had to tell you that it was my fault that Lucian died. I didn’t think that it would work, but when your pink fire lit up, I knew that I’d succeeded. You would kill me one day, and you hated me. That drove me over the edge.”


I raised my eyebrows. “You got dark.”


He nodded. “They sedated me at the right moment and kept me like that until someone brave enough stepped forward.”


He smiled.


“When I woke up and they told me that someone had, I laughed in their faces as I knew nobody out there would be strong enough. It took all the professors and plenty of magic to get me into that ring. They used the magic to bind my abilities. Magic that was draining the living daylights out of them. When I saw it was Arianna with her blue flame, I thought it was a joke, but then Cheng flew in, distracting me, and I heard your voice. You sounded so different, so dark.”


“I was. Apparently I was sharing the darkness inside of you. I almost killed Cheng on our trip. It was so easy but he stuck with me for some reason, and he knew that it wasn’t really me.” I felt so ashamed of that time.


“You almost killed Cheng?”


I nodded. “For your information, if I was the Rubicon, I wouldn’t have had the strength or the willpower to hold onto my good side. I forgot about my good side so fast, and I welcomed the darkness with open arms. So I lied too that day in the Coliseum when I told you all you had to do was hold on to not become dark.”


“Don’t say that.”


“It’s true. I’m not as strong as you think I am.”


“You don’t need to be that strong. I’m strong.”


Those words made my stomach flip again.


He smiled again. “I saw the betrayal on your face when Cheng closed the gate and you were stuck inside with me. I even laughed when you tried to pretend that you were a helpless victim. I knew then that something wasn’t right. I know pretend, and wondered why you would pretend like that. But it was a curiosity that died faster than it appeared, and the need to scorch you alive was boiling inside of me. I guess that saying is true, if you want something done, you better do it yourself, and in that moment, it revealed itself beautifully. When you walked out of my flame and spoke those words to me, in perfect Latin, a part of me knew that I’d failed at throwing you off. You, my dearest princess, were a master.”


I laughed. “It was a shock to me too, believe me.”


He chuckled. “I knew who you were before you said it. I knew you weren’t a dragon after all, and that my moment was biting me in the ass as I’d just presented you with a chance to claim me. I hated that so much, but when you spoke of Brian’s and Lucian’s deaths, of how I’d always known and that I’d lied to you, a part of me wanted to show you that I wasn’t like that. I guess I still carried good deep inside of me. Hearing those words coming from your lips, that I didn’t deserve any of it, hit me harder than you think, and I knew that this was my very last chance, so I had to do that. I thought that you were going to kill me as I fought with everything I had. The girl that didn’t even know about dragons and magic, that girl was gone. And when I finally saw it, it broke me, and everything inside of me just gave up. My mind didn’t; it was as if it was an entity of its own, but my body couldn’t fight, it didn’t want to fight anymore.” He took a deep breath, looked away, and exhaled. “It was why I gave you hell afterward. I forgot everything, what I’d felt on that mountain, and I only had this hatred for you.” He ran his hand through his hair. “They say I was experiencing the impasse stage.”


He smiled. “I also knew if I stayed away, your presence would make my mind eventually agree with the rest of me and I would fall under your spell. I truly believed that it was a spell of enslavement, even though George told me so many times that it wasn’t.”


I hated not knowing what the dent was.


“The breaking point for me was that night. I didn’t like the way that guy had his hands all over you. It wasn’t because I was jealous; it was because of my need for dominance. I saw you as the Rubicon’s property. Emanuel got that; this fool didn’t know who he was dealing with, didn’t even care, and that pissed me off really badly.”


He sighed. “When I dropped you into that water, I actually wanted to drop you onto the ground, but my paw didn’t open, it refused. My body was already under your spell. I fought so hard, and when we flew over the manor’s swimming pool, it just opened. I hated that so much, that I didn’t have any control over my body anymore. You sobered up, but it did more than just sober you up. It made you give up completely. When you started saying those words, I was surprised, glad that you were finally going to say it. I was going to be free. But then I really saw you, saw your beauty, saw how your clothes clung to the shape of your body, it stirred other feelings up. Something I’d never experienced when I was sober and something that only happened in my dreams, or so I thought. Like I said, it was as if I’d forgotten about the mountain. Like it was wiped clean. I was already falling under your spell as I just stared at you, wanting you. I didn’t even hear the rest of what you said.”


I remembered that night: he’d just stared at me. So that was what had gone through his mind.


“Then you said it, and I snapped out of everything. I tried to see what you were thinking, and I couldn’t. It freaked me out as I could hear you from miles and miles away, feel your emotions every time I was near you, feel how you still had time, patience. Things I didn’t want you to feel, but it all disappeared the second you said those words and you just walked away, as if you’d just closed a door and didn’t care. I realized at that moment that I’d fought against the thing I wanted the most, and I never wanted to hear those words come from your mouth ever again. It’s my fault this bond is broken, why I can’t hear your thoughts anymore. I pushed you to it. I was an idiot. So many people died for something I wanted but didn’t know. It doesn’t make any sense, but I knew that I couldn’t lose you. And that was why I kissed you.”


He took a deep breath as his eyes were filled with tears. “That pain, not even the succumbing part when you broke me, was as painful as the pain that announced the beginning of the process. Constance said it was a bond that was supposed to be made a long time ago and that was the reason for all the blood works. I was out for two weeks. When I woke up, I still couldn’t hear your thoughts, and I felt like that time I took an elevator trip, just this time I didn’t get my balance back. I’d never searched that hard for anything, and after a while I thought you were dead, and I wanted to die too.”


I just looked at him. So the Creepers had been both death wish and him tracking me.


“I fell for you before I even dented, so you can imagine how I felt after the dent, and how frustrated I was when you were gone and I couldn’t find you. I felt broken. On numerous occasions I thought you were dead, but thanks to my sister and Becky, I kept my hope alive.”


“Becky?” I asked with raised eyebrows and he laughed.


“Your friends actually became mine in those four months you were gone. You are really blessed to have them in your life.”


“With her two-cent comments whenever you don’t want them.”


“Especially when you don’t want them.”


“Yeah, I know.”


“It wasn’t easy for me either. I felt useless because I couldn’t find you. For a month it’s all I did, every minute of every day. I crashed in one of the nearby farms just outside Tith. They told me it was from exhaustion, and I slept for an entire week. When I woke up, I was in the hospital and Emanuel searched with me after that. I always ended up near the Creepers, and it didn’t make sense. I thought it was a death wish, knowing that you were dead, but Emanuel didn’t give up on me. He told me so many times that you were still alive. I struggled to believe that, and they did tests on me to find out why I couldn’t hear you. I took back those words you’d spoken by kissing you, and yet, it hadn’t come back. I even went to one of the Ancients. The one you meet with on a regular basis.”


I squinted. “You know about Pappi?”


He chuckled. “He told me that you are his great, great, great granddaughter from your mother’s side.”


I smiled.


“He didn’t have answers either, just filled me with wise crap. Not knowing if you were still alive drove me almost insane. Then Emanuel told me what he could do with King Helmut—well, what they had done once, and it’d left him with a mother of a headache. But he shared it with me, and thought that just maybe I could do it too.”


He has my rapt attention again, wanting to know if it was something he could do. “He showed me how to feel for your heartbeat.”


My eyes rose slightly. Had I heard him right? “My what?”


He smiled. “If I concentrate real hard and listen past mine, I can feel yours.”




He nodded and raised his eyebrows. “Emanuel wasn’t surprised that you didn’t need my essence, though.” He sighed. “It wasn’t easy either, as I could hardly hear my own, but I was adamant. I wanted proof of life. I thought it would never happen and then I got some of the Creepers’ poison. When one of the leeches stuck its fangs in me, the poison enhanced this process, it was so easy. After that, I’ve done it so many times a day that it’s not even that hard anymore.”


“Wait, you can feel the rhythm of my heartbeat when we are apart?”


“Yeah, it’s quite amazing, but I also knew when you were in danger, and that…” Pain reflected on his face. “Not knowing where you were or being able to go and save you, I can’t explain how that feels. There are simply no words. I trashed many places during the times your heart would rise, and before you came back, I actually thought you were dead, and that I couldn’t even tell you any of this, that you’d died without knowing what you mean to me. That night you needed the fire, I felt it. I’ve never felt you that strongly before. I’d never experience such pain, and didn’t know what it was. Then Master Longwei told me to release your powers or shift into a dragon. That’s what I did and the pain went away. I tried to find you again, but I was so drained.” He shook his head. “If I’d known that part, I would’ve granted you them a long time ago. You would’ve never experienced any of it.”


A tear escaped, and he hid his face. I wiped one away myself and didn’t know how to handle any of this.


He rubbed his face as tears lingered in his eyes. “I couldn’t even hear your heartbeat anymore, and I wanted to die too. Believe me, I had all sorts of ways in my head, and was making plans the next day. Constance had to sedate me, of course, as I’d put voice to these thoughts, scaring the living crap out of everyone, and when I woke up in the morning, they just carried on. I tried again to feel for your heartbeat, but nothing. Then the knock came and it was Constance saying that they’d found you, that you were in the hospital in Tith. I didn’t wait to hear more, I just flew there as fast as I could.”


“You flew there, from the Academy?”


He smiled again. “Yes, from the Academy. The poor guy that found you, I had to know what he saw, and I discovered the truth.”


I remembered those two. The dragon had been so scared. I thought it had been Emanuel’s wrath; never in a million years had I imagined that it was Blake’s. I also just discovered that Emanuel had lied to me that day. “So, it wasn’t Emanuel that discovered the truth?”


He shook his head. “I told Emanuel to say that it was him. I had to beg him to make an oath to you, and I made an oath to him that he wouldn’t feel anything if something bad happened to you again. Until you let me make an oath to you myself, one that will delete his. I never thought that my dragon form would be the first one that you would trust, but I used every opportunity I could. Sorry that I tricked you. It was Leo’s suggestion. He said that you could relate and maybe you would trust my dragon form because of Cara.”


“It’s fine. A part of me always knew that it was you. I guess that we are both good at pretending.”


His lips curved upward. “What you did for me… You erased the darkness completely, and for that I can never repay you, but I can offer you my love, my devotion and a piece of my heart, if that’s what you want. I’m not going to force you in any way to be with me. To be honest, I’m the last guy that can, because of the way I treated you.”


I swallowed hard as I knew what he meant. He would give me his essence, and I would age slowly. He came closer and was on his haunches right in front of me. He cupped my face gently. “And I would give it to you right now if that is what you wanted, because a life without you…” He shook his head. “I’m sorry about that kiss. I didn’t know…”


Didn’t know what?


“I’ll be whatever you need me to be, whether it is a brother figure, a friend – whatever you need. I will never ever hurt you like that day on the mountain again. I would rather kill myself than betray your trust.”


A stray tear rolled down my cheek as his words finally hit me. This was his apology for treating me like crap all those years. He pulled me into his chest. “Don’t cry, please. You’ve cried enough.” A small grunt left his lips. “I would give anything to hear your thoughts again. I messed up, and I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how to mend it.”


“I could never hear yours, except those times you wanted me to hear it.”


I could hear the smile in his voice as he spoke. “Yeah, I was a big idiot. I’ll fix it. I promise. Somehow I’ll get it back.”


He hugged me tighter.


I wanted to trust this so much. He’d poured his heart out to me and a part of me still waited for him to wake and tell me that he didn’t want me, but a part of me was wondering about the Viden’s first words in the Book of Shadows. Everyone thought it was ours, and if Blake really felt the way he did, then maybe they were not too crazy to think it. Just maybe it could be because Blake was the last person – dragon – on this earth that would say anything like that to any girl.


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