I found Becky and Sammy at the table early the next day. Sammy hadn’t been herself either, always walking around with red-rimmed eyes, crying for her brother. Her tears sort of suffocated me. I couldn’t stand it.
Dean phoned twice a day to find out if she was okay. I didn’t understand why he hadn’t come with; I could only imagine Master Longwei had something to do with it.
I grabbed a cup of coffee and tried to shake off this irritating feeling that came with the news of Blake not wanting to see any of the women in his life.
I went to their table. “Let me guess, he didn’t want to see any of you either?”
Sammy shook her head with a hanky in her hand. She brought it to her nose and wiped.
“Why am I always crying about stupid shit? He is the Rubicon, for crying out loud.”
None of us answered her.
“Have any of you seen Emanuel?”
“He came down earlier and took a plate of food to him,” Becky answered.
“Where is George?”
Becky gave me a sarcastic look.
“Seriously?” I asked. It annoyed me even more. George was with him too. I should be there, not some stupid Moon-Bolt.
“Elena.” Becky cleared her throat.
I looked at her.
“You know why George is there; he shared that experience with Blake.”
“Not helping; unless you can tell me where the hell my dragon was, none of this is helping. I know he was someplace dark, but I don’t know where. You know how that makes me feel.”
“I know. I felt it that night.”
“George wasn’t really there. It was something he saw.”
“Still, he experienced it the same way. Kept talking about the darkness the entire next day.”
I knew she was right. I was just so freakin’ annoyed. “I told him not to do this.” I felt that I should’ve ordered him, even if it was against my beliefs, then he would’ve been mad, but he would’ve forgiven me eventually. It would’ve been better than this.
“Plenty told him it was a bad idea and that he shouldn’t go.”
Emanuel walked into the hall, and his eyes found mine immediately.
I got up. “How is he? Why doesn’t he want to see me? You told him that I stayed with him, right?”
“Elena, calm down okay. He knows. It’s not the reason he doesn’t want to see you.”
“Then why does he blame me? Because I will march up there now and tell him I told him this was a bad idea from the start.”
“It’s not that either. His first words when he woke up were about you, he wanted to know if you were okay.”
I looked away. It didn’t make any sense. “Then why doesn’t he want to see me?”
“He is scared.”
“That he is going to scare you.”
“What? It doesn’t make sense.”
“He…” Emanuel looked down.
“He what? Spit it out.”
He looked at me again. “He has blood eyes.”
“What the hell is blood eyes?”
Emanuel sighed. “It’s when the part of your eyes that is usually white turns red, and the iris is almost black. We don’t know when it’s going to go away. It scared the living crap out of me when I saw it, and I guess it was my reaction that led to him to not wanting any of you to see him that way.”
“What?” I was furious. “He was gone for almost a week, out for another five and that is his stupid reason?” I yelled.
“Don’t tell me to calm down.” I was already marching in the direction of the stairs. He is so stupid. Really. I don’t care what his eyes look like. I saw his face when he took Annie’s burn away, how bad can red eyes be?
“Elena, please, don’t do this.” Emanuel reached me as I took the first step.
“Don’t tell me what to do!” I yelled at him, running up the stairs.
He was faster and grabbed my arm lightly.
“Just give him a few days.”
“No.” I sounded deranged again. Some of the doors opened in the hallway. I knew they were staring, as Emanuel showed them with a hand gesture that all was good.
“He was gone. Gone. I don’t care what he looks like.” I spoke out loud and turned back around.
If that was the only reason he didn’t want to see me, well then he didn’t know me that well.
Sir Robert came out of Blake’s room. “Elena, please I beg of you.”
“Step out of my way.” My voice broke again, I was so angry with him for doing this.
“No, please,” Sir Robert begged.
“Step out or I promise you, your son is going to experience a hell of a lot more pain.”
“It’s okay, Dad. Let her in.” Blake sounded so tired.
Sir Robert stepped out of the way, not happy that I’d disobeyed his son’s wishes.
George sat with Blake, who was lying with his back to me.
“You know how stupid this is, right? You have no idea what the hell you put me through. What you put your family through. You were missing for five days, asleep for another five. Ten days. Ten days and this is the reason why you don’t want to see me? I told you this was a stupid idea, but you never listen.”
“Elena, enough!” Sir Robert intervened.
“Don’t you dare tell me enough. He has to know how I felt, how his mother felt, his sister, and now he doesn’t want to see us because of blood eyes!” I yelled at Sir Robert.
Blake turned around and stared at me.
I gasped softly at the sight. He looked half demonic.
“Not so beautiful anymore, am I?” He spoke in a sarcastic snarl, and looked away.
My nostrils flared at his words. “You are an idiot,” I spoke. “I never cared about your looks. I cared about you.” My voice broke as I climbed onto his bed and just flung my arms around him. He flinched at my touch; he felt so cold and my heart wanted to break because of the flinch. So I let him go.
“I’m sorry,” I spoke softly, not really sure what exactly I was apologizing for.
He looked at me with squinted eyes then he pulled me back into his chest.
“Don’t be. I’ll be fine.” He sounded so relieved. “I’m the one that should be sorry.”
I felt like crying again as my emotions took me on a rollercoaster ride from hell. “Where were you?” I whispered in his ear.
I felt his hand at the back of my head, stroking my hair. “It doesn’t matter. I’m back now.”
I took a huge breath and lifted my head from his shoulder to look at him.
His beautiful peacock blue eyes were gone; they’d been replaced with black obsidian. The whites of his eyes were red, as if all the veins in his eyes had burst.
“I don’t know if this is going to go away.” A frustrated curve tugged at the corners of his lips.
“I don’t care,” I said way too fast.
I found his lips and kissed him. I didn’t care if his father was there or George. “Don’t ever scare me like that again.” I hugged him, never wanting to let him go.
“Okay. I’m sorry I was an idiot. I should’ve known better.”
I smiled softly “Yes, you should. Now where were you?”
“You sure you want to know?” he croaked.
“Believe me, my mind is coming up with scenarios that are probably worse than it actually was.”
He shook his head.
“Were you in…hell?”
He squinted then sighed. “No.”
“See, not as bad. Now tell me please.”
He pulled his fingers through his hair.
“What happened? They said that you saw Billy and what…”
He nodded. “I wanted to kill him so badly.”
“I told you…”
“I know. I would’ve blown this entire mission if I had. But nothing at that moment was going to stop me. Knowing that he was one of the bastards that did that to you.” He touched my hand and our fingers entwined. “But I remembered my promise. It would blow the cover immediately and the minute I didn’t act on it…I broke an oath.”
I nodded. “We figured that much.” I wiped off a stray tear.
“I had no idea what the hell that place was.”
“You spoke about darkness and lightning. What does the lightning have to do with it?”
“I don’t know. All I knew was it was better than the darkness, so I flew straight into it, only to find myself in a worse kind of darkness. Please, I don’t want to talk about this, okay?”
“Okay,” I said. None of this had been symbolic, it had been a real place. He would tell me when he was ready. I rested my head on his chest.
“The next time you disappear, just take me with you, please,” I whispered.
He smiled and his lips brushed the top of my head.
“Then how in the world do you think we are going to come back, because it was you that brought me back?”
I grimaces. “Don’t say that. I didn’t do shit.”
“That is not what Emanuel told me.”
“Okay, fine, but I wasn’t myself. I thought you were never going to come back.”
He smiled. “You had it for ten days. I had it for four months.”
I stared at him. “Well, I’m the princess. We don’t do well with waiting.”
He chuckled. “Finally.”
I stayed with Blake the entire day. He eventually let his mom and sister see him too. Sammy was just as mad as me and started to cry again.
His mother just cupped his face in her hands and ordered him to open his eyes. He did and she didn’t even flinch or gasp. She just stared at him. “I don’t care what you look like; you could even be deformed. You are my son. My love for you will never die, and if you speak to me like that again, Blake Samuel Leaf, I will give you a beating like you’ve never experienced before. You hear?”
“Samuel?” I said, and everyone laughed.
“Sorry. It was stupid.” He hugged her and then he told us about the mission to get Max and Nicky.
He trusted his tracking ability again, which was really good, and had found Leana first.
It was the easiest one. Still, he’d felt sorry for Tom. I did as well.
Next was Nicky and then through Nicky they located Maxine.
Getting DNA from their masters wasn’t as easy as they had anticipated, and getting them to safety had been even harder, but it all somehow worked out to plan. It was everything Tom and August told us.
At lunch time I went down to grab him some food. He needed his strength. I wanted him out of that bed as fast as possible.
I knew he had a thing about his looks, but still, he’d taken Annie’s burn away without thinking twice about it.
I really didn’t care what he looked like. Not one bit. I would deal with any of the forms he ended up with, just like Isabel. With that realization I knew I wasn’t just in love with his dragon anymore. A part of me already loved Blake.
Maybe it was deeper, as if a part of me had always loved him –even the time I hadn’t known it, ever since that first day I saw him sitting at that table, before I even knew his name. I remembered the rabbit hole feeling that I’d felt back then. Could it have been the dent, letting me know he was my dragon? Like he knew…it made me wonder.
I stayed until Sir Robert begged us all to leave so that he could have a private word with Blake. I gave him a smile as I left with Isabel, Sammy and George.
Becky didn’t want to see him, she said there would be plenty of time to see him, and that now was the time for close family members, and of course George as he’d seen something that was linked to where Blake had been.
I guess George would be seeing more and more of the future now, but what was strange was that he’d picked up Blake, when not even Irene could. What did that mean? His first glimpse of the future, and it’d been my dragon’s?
Sir Robert was busy with him for a long time, and around ten I went to my room.
I couldn’t sleep and heard when Sir Robert said goodbye to Blake and closed his door.
His footsteps were soft but not as soft as his son’s, and I could hear him pass my room.
I listened to the night sounds, how people were whispering in the darkness. How everyone started to fall asleep.
Then I got up. I don’t know why, but I needed Blake more than I think he needed me right now, and I tiptoed back to his room. I knocked on his door as softly as I could, and heard him get out of bed.
He wasn’t as quiet anymore, and I knew it was because he was still weak.
The door finally opened and he smiled. He didn’t say anything as he stepped out of the way for me to enter.
I suddenly felt embarrassed as I crawled onto his bed. His father would kill him if he knew that I was here, and he would probably take extra measures and let Master Longwei know that things between us were the opposite of what they used to be. But I was pretty sure Master Longwei had figured that out already.
He fell on top of his bed and my stomach flipped a million times as he wrapped his arms around me. I never thought that in a million years I would feel safe with anyone of the opposite sex ever again, or want to be with anyone ever again as much as I wanted to be with Blake.
His chin touched my forehead softly. He still smelled slightly of sulfur, but his own dragon scent was starting to seep through.
“Are you okay?” I had to know. He more or less told us what he went through, even if none of it was making any sense.
“I’m still a bit jittery, but I will be fine.”
I looked up at him. “You gave me the biggest scare of my entire life. When I only saw Tom and August with Nicky and Max, I knew immediately something had happened. It felt as if I couldn’t breathe.”
“I’m sorry,” he whispered then sighed. “Who would’ve thought that you’d actually give me another chance?”
I laughed softly. “I don’t think that I was actually given that choice.”
“Everyone sort of pushed you on top of me, in a non-sexual way.”
“Sorry about that too. I actually tried for the opposite, to give you space and time. I needed you to trust me on your own turf and not through any of what the others said or wanted.”
“Why, why didn’t you show me that you had changed back then?” I pushed myself onto my elbow and looked down at him.
“Because you didn’t know this Blake, and I didn’t want to scare you.”
I smiled, and thought about what he’d said. It was actually extremely sweet and so selfless. “Well, I’ve got news for you. I actually like this Blake, a lot.”
He gave me a huge grin, one that showed his canines, and I lowered my head closer to his and our lips touched slightly.
At first it was soft, gentle, as if I was scared that I was going to hurt him, but after a minute or two, the kiss grew stronger.
His lips caressed the skin on my neck, which flushed my entire body. Goosebumps rippled over every inch of my skin. It felt nice.
His hand slid over the side of my body and over my thigh. My leg shifted over his hip and our lips met again. The kiss was hard, greedy, as if he wanted to make me feel how much he needed me right at this moment, how much he had missed me when he was stuck in his pool of misery. His hand rubbed hard over my thigh again and he pulled me closer to his body until I was snug against him. His temperature still felt wrong. He wasn’t as cold as he used to be, a bit warmer, but it wasn’t his normal temperature. I missed that. Still, he was showing some progress.
My mind was going insane with need. How could this ever be happening?
A small grunt left his mouth, and he stopped.
We were both out of breath. “Sorry, I got carried away.” He smiled and just looked at me with the softest stare.
He kissed me once more, softly on the lips. “You want something to drink?” he said and got up, making his way to his fridge.
“Let me,” I said.
“I can do this.”
I smiled. He was always pushing his limits. “Sure,” I said and sucked in my lip. What the heck was that?
I blew out a breath softly. He was driving me insane. Literally.
He handed me a glass filled with brandy and ice and I took a sip.
“Okay, so why are you here?” he asked, with a slightly raised eyebrow and a huge grin. He sat down on the chair where I’d spent the past five days, watching over him as he slept.
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“No, I have been sleeping here the past five days. The minute Emanuel forced me out of the room to get some proper sleep, well that was when you decided to wake up.”
He smiled. “I know the feeling. When they found you, I stayed with you, but Matt wanted my statement and I had no choice but to leave your side. You woke up and found Sammy and Becky. I guess it was a good thing too, as I would’ve just scared you if you’d found me next to your bed.”
“Matt took your statement, why?”
“Because of what I saw through the two that found you, well actually through the dragon.”
I remember those two. Well, I don’t know what they looked like, but in my mind they were the strangest couple I’d ever met. I chuckled as I remembered the dragon was the softy that didn’t like being a dragon at all.
“What’s so funny?”
Blake chuckled too. “I left him with a mother of a headache, and I’m still in his debt, so I hope they don’t ask me to kill someone.”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it.
“So you saw Billy?” I tried to change the subject.
“I actually smelled him first, and when I found him, he looked straight at me. I wanted to kill him so badly then but I made a promise to wait, but the oath doesn’t work like that. When I chose not to, I disappeared.”
I nodded slowly. “It’s my fault. You should’ve never made that oath.”
He came over and sat on his haunches in front of the bed. “It’s not your fault, okay? I made that oath all by myself. You didn’t put a gun to my head, and you didn’t force those words out of me either. It’s my fault. I didn’t know you were in Etan, and I should’ve known better that it wasn’t some sort of a death wish, but that my tracking ability was one of the strongest in Paegeia.”
“It’s the strongest,” I corrected him.
He grinned. “Okay the strongest.” He looked at me. It was so intense. “It wasn’t your fault, and I will make them pay. When the right time comes. I actually can’t wait to meet this Seymour.”
I flinched as he said his name, just remembering all the bad things he’d put me through. “They got him on the buyo.”
“One of the guys that went in with Emanuel, when they gathered intel, they caught both Seymour and Billy on one of the buyos.”
Blake hugged me. “He will never harm you ever again. He won’t even see you again.”
“Still, Billy is your family. You must’ve seen it.”
“I told you before.” He let me go and looked at me again. “He’s no family of mine. Sure we have the same blood running through our veins, but he’s not family. And yes, I have seen his face.” He shook his head. “I thought you turned me into one of them the first time I started experiencing your dreams. It’s why I used my true form in all your dreams and not this one. It was his fault.”
My lips curved slightly, and I nodded. He took my glass from me and put down his own, climbing back onto the bed.
We spoke about plenty of things that night, especially about the time I wanted nothing to do with him. How it’d made him feel, and what he’d gone through and done to make me feel safe and secure.
He told me about how they’d staged my release. I had seen that on my Sonic and laughed at how badly he’d wanted to rip out Kevin’s throat when he didn’t want to help with the other reporters. Emanuel had to hold him back, and then when Emanuel offered him an exclusive when I was ready, he’d wanted to beat Emanuel.
I couldn’t believe he’d done that for me. Me. And it was a stage that I didn’t want anything to do with him.
I also desperately wanted to know how the hell he’d gotten Becky and Sammy not to tell me the truth.
“I’m a nice guy, people like doing things for me.”
When his watch beeped for the third time, I knew it was three o’clock in the morning and started to feel sleepy.
Then both of us became quiet, just like that and fell asleep. It was so easy now with him.
I dreamed of nothing but the soft purring noise of a cat that woke me.
I opened my eyes but found no cat. It was faint and I lifted up my head to see where it was coming from.
I turned around and looked at Blake’s sleeping figure as the cat was close to him.
I bent over his body, and stopped. I looked down at his chest. The noise wasn’t coming from a cat; it was coming from him.
I rested my head on his chest and started to smile.
It sounded so amazing, and I was amazed by how little I really still knew about dragons, even if I’d been one for a few months. I knew for a fact I’d never done this.
My lips curled and a small giggle escaped, but it didn’t wake Blake one bit.
I kept staring at him, at his beauty, and wished I knew what it would be like if I’d grown up this side, if both of us knew that I was his rider and he’d my dragon. Would he have been the same, or could it have been like this from the beginning? Acquaintances turning into friends, and later friends turning into something so much deeper…
For what it was worth, I knew I had just found my favorite sound in the world, as I could listen to him for hours.
THE SPOT NEXT to me was empty the next morning, but I heard soft voices coming from the table by the fridge.
He was speaking to someone. It sounded like Master Longwei, but I couldn’t see because his back was blocking the hologram.
“I’m glad you’re awake, Blake.”
“I think it’s time to start with the campaign. War is coming, and we need all the people we can find to help.”
“We will, don’t you worry. I will set up a meeting with the Council and get you the publicity you’ll need to get all this started. Just rest, get your strength back.”
I laid my head back on the pillow. There was no resting with him. I wished that sometimes he could be like a normal person and just wait until he was one hundred percent ready before trying to save his world once again. Well, our world.
I heard Master Longwei say his goodbyes and closed my eyes again.
I could feel the bed shifting as Blake climbed back in and could feel his breath close to my face.
“Please don’t tell me you are one of those creepy stalkers who watch people sleep,” I said and he chuckled.
His lips brushed my cheek. “I knew you were awake.”
My eyes opened and I found his dark eyes on me.
I remembered the purring and smiled at him.
“Why are you smiling like that? You look like you just discovered my deepest secret.”
“Maybe I have.” I raised my eyes, and he chuckled.
“Okay spit it out, what did I say?” he asked.
“Nothing, it is more like something you did.”
He squinted. “Did?” he asked.
“Something I only thought cats could do, and now I know dragons do as well.”
He stared at the wall for a few seconds then looked back at me with a hint of a smile. “I purred!” He sounded surprised but excited.
I smiled. “You purred.”
“You didn’t know you could do that?”
He laughed. “No, I did, and it’s not the first time that you’ve heard it either.”
“You heard it in Aviant the very first time you flew with me.”
I tried to remember that day.
“When Becky asked me what the hell that was?”
I laughed as I remembered the very first time I’d heard the clucking noise.
“No, that’s not the first time I’ve heard that sound.”
He looked at me with a broken smile. “It’s not?”
I shook my head. “I heard it on the mountain, scared the living crap out of me too,” I lied. “That is why George laughed.”
He nodded. “I used to tease him about it, that he was weak.”
My body shook.
“That was my dragon purr. The human one sounds similar to a cat.”
“You purred when I touched you,” I teased him and rolled with my body slightly on his. “You are so weak,” I goaded him.
He smiled with closed eyes as he played with my hair again.
“Yes, your touch makes me weak.”
I laughed and kissed his lips softly.