Sixty minutes seem like a long time when you can’t wait for something, or let’s say spending more time with a certain someone who has a thing for trouble.
I was excited yet nervous when he’d asked me to meet him. It reminded me of…no. I pushed it away to the back of my mind. Lucian wanted me to be happy, and that was what I was going to try and do.
I couldn’t get the conversation from this afternoon out of my head either.
A part of me didn’t want to care about finding out what the dent procedure was anymore. I wanted to trust it because I wanted this to be real.
So I made a mental note to forget all about the dent things for the present and just enjoy getting to know Blake better. Well, whoever he was now.
The fact that he’d wanted me before he even dented, now that was surprising. Even if his hormones had made that choice for him.
I’d never thought that being with another guy ever again was going to be possible, not with what had happened.
Around fifteen minutes before the hour was up, I got up and pulled on a jacket over my shirt and stepped into my sneakers.
Sammy was still in the bathroom.
“Where are you going?” Becky asked from the top of her bed.
“Is the dragon going with?”
“You would like to know.”
“I do. At least I know you’ll be safe.”
“Yes, he’s coming with, and no, he just wants to talk.”
“Part of a dent here, you don’t need to explain.”
I laughed. “Explain.”
“They can’t get enough of their riders. It’s something I learnt very fast in my relationship with George. You are going to beg for alone time.”
My entire body shook. All of this felt like a dream. A happy dream from which I didn’t want to wake. I looked back at her after I tied my shoelaces. “I promise I won’t be stupid.”
“Didn’t think you were, not even this afternoon.”
“Thanks. I wish everyone else would have that faith in me, but all they see is two hormonal teenagers that can’t get enough of one another.”
“They are just being grown-ups.”
I said goodbye.
“Enjoy,” she sang softly as I slipped out the door.
I climbed the stairs to the top and opened the latch.
Blake was late, which was a bit disappointing. A smile broke on my face and I climbed through the hatch and closed it softly.
“What took you so long?” he said behind me and I jumped.
He started to laugh, and I joined in. “Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.”
“I just didn’t see you.”
“My middle name should’ve been stealth.”
“Oh, I would love to know what you are going to spin when Master Longwei appears through the hatch.”
He laughed. “Still no faith in me? You’ve forgotten what I can do. I showed you in Etan. How I became one with the trees.”
I looked around. “Hate to break it to you, but there are no trees up here.”
“It doesn’t just work with trees. It’s a blending technique, so it works basically with everything.” He raised his eyebrows, playfully.
“Okay that is just scary. Something I will always think about now whenever I take a bath.”
He laughed, pulled me closer by my hand and wrapped his arms around me.
I felt so safe with him, but for some reason my heart went up a notch.
He looked down at me. “I’m not like that…anymore.” He chuckled.
“Uh-huh,” I teased him.
“You can actually see the shimmer if you just pay attention.”
“Yip, I’ll show it to you again, if that would put your wildly beating heart at ease.”
I hated the fact that he could not just hear it, but feel it too. It was beautiful, but it was also extremely dangerous for me if this wasn’t… I closed my eyes. Just stop it, Elena.
“What is going on in that mind of yours?” Blake asked, and I opened my eyes.
“Nothing,” I said.
He gave me that knowing raised eyebrow of his; he wasn’t buying the nothing part.
“Fine, it’s something I really don’t want to think about anymore, but it’s going to take some time. So bear with me.”
The corners of his lips curved and a soft smile appeared. Damn, he was seriously so vereautiful or deautiful. I laughed at that last word: ‘damn’ and ‘beautiful.’
He led me to a small wooden shed that was on the girls’ roof and when we went around it, I saw the blankets with the pillows.
He seriously was the prepared kind of guy.
I sat on the blanket and put the pillow on my lap as he lay on the blanket with his torso supported by his elbow.
“Didn’t take you for the romantic type.”
“Then you should stay away from me when I’m reciting my poems.”
“So, why did you come back? I thought you said three days.”
“Missed you too much.” He was so full of confidence, which made me blush again.
“Bet you tell all the girls that.”
“No, I really don’t. It’s not easy for dragons to be away from our riders. You really have it so easy.” His answer was extremely cheesy, and I didn’t buy it for one minute.
“Fine, whatever. Don’t tell me.”
“I’m serious.” He chuckled. “It’s who we are. When dragons care, they don’t just care with their entire heart, they care with their entire being. Mind –” He tapped on his temple. “Soul –” He tapped on his stomach. “–and heart.” His chest.
“Oh man.” I flinched when I realized it was out loud, and it made him laugh. He really didn’t make it easy at all to not fall for him.
He cupped my face. “I told you before, it’s not a spell, and I’ll say it over and over again until it sinks into that beautiful, yet over-active mind of yours.”
I melted. If I was made of Jell-O I would’ve been a puddle of goo right now. I cleared my throat and broke my gaze away from him. “I thought you can’t read my mind anymore.”
He lay back flat on his back with his head on the pillow, just looking up at the sky. “I don’t have to read your mind to know what you are thinking. It’s evident on your face.”
“Lucky me.” I said, and his body shook with laughter.
Hours and hours of conversation followed, things about each other that would make you think we were going to participate in a “Know your dragon rider” contest.
I discovered that his birthday was two days after New Year, something I thought was the first of April. Guess he fooled everyone. I should’ve known, as Sammy never gave him a present on the first of April. He had also been searching for me with Emanuel on his last birthday, which must have sucked big time.
His favorite color was green, emerald green, like my eyes—but I doubt that it was his favorite color before the dent.
His favorite book was Wuthering Heights, as he always felt a connection with one of the characters, and he loved Romeo and Juliet, even if it was cliché. He had a thing for tragicomedies. He was seriously not the type of guy I thought he was.
He was also addicted to the extreme. Now that was the Blake I did know. Jet-ski, slopes, surf, sky diving, you name it, he did it – called it his “Rubicon perks.” The only thing he had never been able to do was Warbel games, something I think he would excel in.
We were so much the opposite of one another.
The only extreme in my life was moving every three months and having a knack for escaping death, but he was more interested in the stuff he already knew about me, the things that had happened after I came to Paegeia. Weird.
We spoke plenty about how Brian’s death made me feel. I told him about the dreams I used to have, of me becoming the other Sun-Blast, tearing his wings apart, how deranged and angry I was when they killed the Dragonian that Goran took hostage.
I woke up before George killed me.
I didn’t know if it was because of Cara stirring inside of me, or if it was really just me being messed up from Brian’s death.
I even told him about dreaming of my mother the minute I came to Paegeia. How at first I had no clue who she was and then realized it was the queen after Cheng took me to the museum.
He seemed really interested in my dreams, and gave me the impression that he didn’t think they were just dreams after all. That somehow I’d experienced some elements of a vision. It sounded a bit nuts, but we were in a world where the impossible and nuts were a reality.
He changed the subject when it got too awkward, and we spoke about Emanuel, what a good friend he had become to Blake, and about their trips searching for me. He would’ve been dead on so many occasions if it hadn’t been for Emanuel. I’ve seen a number of them myself, especially the one where they had crashed into the park of Tith, taking the entire playground down with them. We were silent for a few seconds.
“My father is starting the Dragon League again.”
“So you were right that night when you told me that was what you think he wanted to do.” I was excited for him, still not knowing what the Dragon League was all about, but Sammy had told me once that it was something Sir Robert used to run. He was their leader as he was seen as the lead dragon for a time because of who his rider had been – or still was.
Blake nodded, looking really excited about that as well.
“If I may ask, what is it the Dragon League does?”
He started to laugh. “Serve and protect. They were your father’s personal league. Nothing like the Council.”
He told me how they used to go on all sorts of missions, especially ones on the other side. My father would have special meetings via these dragons representing him with all the leaders of the world, very top secret of course, and if Sir Robert or one of the other highly regarded dragons needed to find someone on the other side, they would do it. There were still plenty of dragons living on the other side, mostly Metallic, as they could go the longest without their true form, like my father, Herbert, used to. Sir Robert had sent word that Paegeia needed their help, with the war that would come in a few months, and he was patiently waiting for them to reply.
He told me about a vacation they once took when he had just received his human form. Samantha had to stay with Constance.
His parents had taken him to China, where they sort of blessed him, because they knew who he was. It was why the Chinese showed their love for dragons throughout time through their art. They were still so connected with this world.
I could only imagine how they made him feel.
The conversation turned serious again when Blake wanted to speak about a matter that was extremely hard to discuss: Etan.
Still, I answered his questions as best I could. Some of them were easy, to be honest, and I wondered if he had used some persuasion to get it out of me – things I never thought I would tell him, just like I had with Leo.
“And that was when I ran again. I don’t even remember the Creepers, it’s all a big blur in my mind.”
He was lying on his back and looked at the stars. They shone brightly with the full moon in the background. There were no clouds tonight.
Silence lingered for a few minutes, awkward silence, and I lay down next to him just staring at the sky, wondering if I had said too much.
“I knew something was wrong,” Blake eventually said. “We were all having dinner and then your heart beat so fast that I didn’t even need to tune in. When I did, my own was beating, because hearing yours like that scared the living shit out of me.”
“Sorry,” I said. It couldn’t have been easy.
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“I should’ve stayed.”
“How?” He gave me a broken smile. “All you’ve ever been taught is that in times of real trouble, you run. It’s the only thing Herbert showed you.”
I nodded. How the hell did he know that? Matt. He’d put two and two together. Blake was smart.
“Then I felt how you needed your abilities. I was going insane at that time.”
I wondered what it would be like to see him insane. I’ve seen crazy and psycho, but not insane. I remembered it then. A scream, an agonizing scream.
I sat back up and folded my arms around my knees.
Had I heard him that night? It had happened before my abilities appeared. Blake still spoke, but I didn’t hear a single word he said, because I kept hearing that scream. It wasn’t one of the three I’d killed. I’d looked. They hadn’t heard it.
He brought me back to the conversations when he stroked my back and was sitting right next to me. “I destroyed the cafeteria. Master Longwei put it back together real fast. Said the last time you had done it, they’d taken precautions.”
I smiled softly and felt like crap for not listening to what had happened that led up to the destruction of the cafeteria.
The subject changed to a lighter note again and we spoke again about the things we loved the most. Me, it was easy: flying and drawing.
Blake had a huge list. It all fell into the deranged adrenaline junkie category again. I feared that after tonight he was going to discover that I was just plain and boring because I didn’t have an exciting life like he did, and that we had absolutely nothing in common.
We called it a night as he glanced at his watch and an awkward silence fell between us as we walked back down.
“I’ve said way too much, haven’t I?”
“Shhh. If anybody finds us here, there are going to be months of detention.”
I burst out laughing and cupped my mouth.
“Shhh,” he said again and smiled the smile that made my knees wobble.
I sucked in my lips and continued walking downstairs.
We finally reached my floor.
“Sorry about tonight,” he said.
“Sorry?” I whispered.
“It’s like four. You didn’t get much sleep.”
I smiled. “Well, at least I won’t be the only useless one in class tomorrow.”
His laugh sounded so guilty. “Believe me, a day without sleep does absolutely nothing to me. I’m still filled with energy.”
I grunted. “So unfair. You better discover how you can transfer that to me,” I joked.
“Maybe I should. Who knows what else we can do?”
“It was a joke.”
“It’s not impossible,” he said and pulled me in for a hug. “Sweet dreams, princess.” He kissed the top of my head. His lips lingered a few seconds, and I breathed in his musky scent mixed with some roasted oak that reminded me of fire. Then he let me go and skipped down the stairs without making a sound. “I need to go practice,” he said over his shoulder and winked.
I shook my head and went into my room.
I rested with my back against the door after I closed it, grinning – like an idiot. The doubt was clawing the pit of my stomach again, but I forced it away this time just by going through the long conversation we’d had up on the roof. It had to be real.
“Elena!” Becky yelled, and I found myself inside the cafeteria. I had a slight headache from the lack of sleep and felt drained.
“Becky,” Blake’s voice was right next to me. When did he get here? And in his human form?
“How long was I out?”
“Not that long. Here is your coffee, it’s still warm.”
“You’ve had to heat it back up twice with your fire, don’t lie,” Becky said.
“Seriously, why didn’t you wake me?” I looked at Blake.
“You looked so peaceful.”
“I need food,” I scolded him and pushed myself up.
“Someone got up on the wrong side of the bed.”
I grunted inwardly because it wasn’t just his fault. I could’ve easily told him I needed my sleep and I hadn’t.
I went to the buffet area, got a bowl with muesli and yogurt then returned to the table.
Everyone seemed to be done eating. Why on earth hadn’t they woken me? It was so embarrassing.
I gulped down my breakfast.
“So, what time did you come in last night?” Becky still wanted to know.
“Got absolutely nothing to do with you.”
“Ouch, you are grouchy,” she sang.
“I’m tired, and I’ve got a slight headache, and really don’t have the strength to answer you at the moment, so deal with my grouchiness.”
“You have a headache?” Blake spoke softly.
“Slight headache,” I said. Oh my word, I was grouchy.
“Here,” Blake said and turned me on my pillow to face him. He put his hands on my temples and the singing sensation started again. The headache disappeared a little, but the tiredness was still there.
“I need energy,” I sulked.
“Haven’t figured that one out yet, sorry.”
“I hate you so much right now.”
“Elena was with you last night?” Sammy asked, and I looked at Becky. She hadn’t told her a thing last night.
“Stay out of it, Samantha, you’re not Mom,” Blake snapped softly.
“But Dad will love that,” she teased him.
“Oh yeah, you really going to go that way?” he said as if he were going to blackmail her. “I’m sure he will love that Dean secret more.”
She gasped and blushed scarlet.
Becky snorted in her cup and looked at her. “What Dean secret?”
Sammy turned even redder.
“Whatever,” she said to her brother and got up. “I need to quickly go somewhere.”
“Sis,” I slapped him.
“Ouch.” He laughed and rubbed his arm.
“What secret?” Becky asked him.
I grunted again. She was so nosy. Sure, she was my best friend, but I could not recall me or Sammy ever being this nosy when she and George started dating.
My reflexes were slow in Art of War and I almost fell on my ass a few times. Blake, grinning widely, caught me every time then pulled me back up fast.
“Elena, what is up with you today?” a dozen teachers asked me.
“Nothing,” I would say, pretending to be wide awake. I hated this because the day was completely wasted.
After school, Blake walked with me to my room.
“I need to sleep,” I almost shouted at him as I pounded him softly on his chest. It was so unfair that he was still filled with so much energy.
“Okay, Miss Grouchy. Sleep it is.” He opened my room.
I fell on my bed and drifted away the second my head connected with my pillow.
When I opened my eyes, a patch of my linen was slightly wet.
I had drooled.
The numbers on my digital clock read 18:15.
The sound of bikes was playing in the background, and I lifted my head.
“Seriously,” George said. “You are a cheat, Blake.”
“Am not,” he said, chuckling. “I’m just a better driver than you, Georgie.”
A motorcycle racing game played on our TV screen.
“You have a real bike,” I chirped tiredly from my bed, and George laughed. “Remember the one you chucked back in my face?” I joked. I closed my eyes. A few seconds later my bed shifted.
His scent clouded my mind, as it always did, and when I opened my eyes, he was lying next to me. His warmth radiated out, and I curled myself up into a ball closer to him.
“I was dark then, and that bike is still mine. No givebacks.”
I smiled and closed my eyes.
“You feeling any better?”
“Much, but that is never going to happen again. I really need all the Art of War sessions they give, because I’m not as good as I think I am.”
I could feel him staring at me, and I looked at him. I was still so tired.
“Then I guess it’s time I give you some private lessons.”
“I’m not joking.”
“Me neither. I take combat slightly serious.”
“Urgh, you are going to be a demon slaver too.”
He laughed softly. “If it’s going to turn you into a fighting machine, then yes.” His lips brushed against my head.
“You need to wake up, I want to go and have dinner.” He slapped me on my backside and got up.
“Then go.” I rubbed the place where his hand had connected hard with my ass. “You don’t need me to eat supper.”
“No, but I want you to join me. It’s extremely boring if you are not there.”
What? I gave a tired laugh. He was driving me insane.
I got up and put on my shoes. Sammy and Becky were gone, which was also extremely weird, because George and Becky were each other’s shadows.
Blake and I left as George carried on playing the game.
We ran into Becky and Sammy on the stairs.
“Finally. Welcome to the living,” Becky chirped as she passed me.
“Shut up,” I growled and felt Blake’s arm pulling me in for a side hug as we skipped down the steps.
He opened the big oak door with ease then let me step through first.
He was such a gentleman and walked with me into the cafeteria.
“What, no dragon anymore?”
“I told you before, I only did that to make you feel less guilty. Besides, I think this form will send the message to her faster.”
I found everyone’s eyes on the two of us as we went to the buffet line. This was never going to stop.
“Good evening, Elena,” Chef said. “Blake.”
“Evening Chef,” Blake said and grunted with delight when he saw the food. I grabbed a tray as the two of them started to make jokes and we went to the nearest table and dug in.
Everyone was still staring at us.
“Is this ever going to stop?”
“Let them stare, I really don’t care.”
“Rhyming again,” I joked, and he chuckled.
“There is something I have to speak to you about.”
“What could that be?”
“The Dragon League.”
I smiled as I picked at my food. “What about it?”
“I really want to go and train for a bit with them, if that is okay with you.”
I looked at him and my lips started to curve into a smile. “You can do whatever you want. Told you that a million times before.”
He grin. “It’s that easy for you.”
“What? You want me to tell you no, because I’ll miss you too much?”
“Ouch,” he said, which made me laugh.
“You haven’t told your dad about you know what, right?”
“Elena, I promised you I wouldn’t,” he said quietly.
“Sorry, I’m just worried about that.”
“Believe it or not, but I do care about my dad too.”
I swallowed my food. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Still, I agreed that I wouldn’t say anything, and I haven’t,” he said seriously.
“Sorry, I really didn’t mean it like that. So, the Dragon League. What does this training entail?”
“Plenty of camping and plenty of learning.”
“When do you want to go?”
“Well, by your previous reply, not anytime soon.”
“But I have to get back to Etan, and my father wants to put a couple of dragons on the other side.”
“When?” I didn’t like this at all. But I understood why they wanted to set up in Etan: for intel.
My face fell at once, and I sighed. “That soon?”
“I have to help Tom and August, remember?”
“Blake?” I hated that and wiped my mouth with the napkin.
“I have to help them find Max and Nicky, and hopefully Leana too.”
“And let me guess, I am just going to take you back in and have to come back without you.”
“No, you will be busy taking in some of King Helmut’s men too, and bringing back more farmers. The scientists are ready with the first one hundred buyos.” He smiled.
“They are?” That was fast.
“They’ve worked non-stop. When a shift went home to sleep, another took their place. They’re ready.”
“You take me in first, and then when you’re done, I’ll be back. It will take you more or less the entire weekend, so let’s say three days.”
I sighed. I still didn’t like it, even if I was going to be busy myself.
“C’mon, it’s not that long.”
I blew out a big gush of air. “You know what they do to dragons. If Goran finds you…”
“He won’t. I’m not stupid. King Helmut needs Emanuel back anyway. At least you will be too busy to worry about stupid things.” He gave me a lopsided grin.
I frowned at him. “Losing you is not stupid. It’s quite serious, and I won’t go through that again.”
“So she does care?”
I narrowed my eyes quickly at him, which made him smile.
He touched my hand gently. His was warm and a current, not the electric kind, ran through my entire body from his touch. It was addictive. “I’ll be fine. Nothing will happen.”
I sighed. “Okay, so this weekend it is, and three days only. Not negotiable.”
He smiled. “I thought I could do whatever the hell I wanted.”
“Anything except playing on Etan’s front porch.”
He laughed. “Everything is going to work out just fine. I promise.”
My smile reflected how I felt about all of this. Unsure of the entire finding Max and Nicky thing, but he had promised, and I didn’t want him to break a promise. It sucked big time. It had better work out.