When second period I went to class. I opened my door and heard a girl crying.
“Hey, it’s going to be okay,” one of her friends said.
“No, it’s not.” Tabitha sniffed, and I wanted to leave, thinking about how shallow she was. “Blake can’t even find him, and he is the best tracker inside Paegeia.”
I stopped as she said that.
He is looking for someone.
“Are you sure your brother didn’t go to the other side?”
“Phil is Chromatic. He would never set foot outside of Paegeia.”
“Something happened to him, I know it.”
“Shhh,” the girls said, and I felt like an idiot for doubting him.
Everything was making sense now.
Why was he so secretive? I didn’t like this one bit, but if this Phil was his friend, and I was sure he was, Blake would help find him. That was all it was. He promised he would never betray my trust like that, and I had to trust him if we were going to make this work. Him not telling me, well, he had his reasons.
I wasn’t mad anymore. They all walked down the steps while I hid behind my closed door. When it was clear I left.
I found Blake in front of our Arithmetic class, leaning against a pillar.
When he saw me, he walked over. “Where have you been?”
“In my room.” I gave him a broken smile, feeling like an idiot. “Come let’s go.” I walked toward the class, and he pulled me back by my arm.
“Elena, we should talk.” He started pulling me in the opposite direction.
“If Master Longwei catches us, we will get detention again, please. Let’s just go to class.”
“No, it’ll be fine. I need to tell you something.”
“Is it about helping Tabitha?”
He stopped and his entire body slumped before he turned around and faced me. “You know about that?”
I smiled. “I told you before, you can do what you want. I would’ve just loved it if you could’ve mentioned it to me.”
“I’m sorry. I know how you feel about her.”
“I feel bad for her. I don’t hate her. So what is the deal anyway?”
“Her brother went missing, and I can’t pick him up anywhere.”
“I take it that her brother is a friend?”
“Yeah, he is, or was. I owe him a lot.”
“Then I know you’ll find him soon.” I smiled, and he stared at me with a soft gaze that quickly turned guilty. He pulled me closer to him.
“I’m an idiot. Sorry that I didn’t tell you, and she’s not more important than training you. I promise.”
“It’s okay, I know.”
“Do we really have to go to Arithmetic?” He pulled a face, which made me laugh.
“Yes, we do. Now stop sulking.” I turned around and went with him into the classroom.
I locked gazes with Tabitha, and although her eyes were a bit red and blotchy, her expression made me doubt her intentions.
She looked down at her table as Blake and I sat.
I closed my eyes. Her brother is missing. She just needs his help, that is all.
For the next few days, life went back to normal, and I didn’t worry about where Blake snuck off to at night, since now I knew.
The only thing that still bothered me was how frustrated he was becoming because he couldn’t find Phil.
He still couldn’t pick him up anywhere.
He even told me the story about Tabitha’s brother. He was as bad as they came, a Night Villain with a taste for danger and darkness. Tabitha’s parents lived in one of the other dragon cities near Areeth. They were one of the few that didn’t love the human-dragon type of contact and stuck strictly to their dragon forms. Phil and Tabitha were the only ones in the family who shifted, and had come to Dragonia Academy to try to learn more.
She was trying, and I had to give it to the girl, it wasn’t typical Snow dragon behavior to fight against one’s entire family for a desperately wanted change. It made me see her from a different perspective.
At eight we said goodbye, and he would leave with Tabitha to search for Phil. I really hoped he was going to find him soon, because I didn’t know how much longer I could handle the disappointment and frustration clinging to him.
On Friday we had our first fundraiser, and a part of me was looking forward to it, while another part was dreading the entire thing. Asking people to donate toward a great cause like helping the hundred we’d brought through was one thing, but asking people to fight to save my father was another.
I dreaded that I would let it slip out that he was still alive, and that we wouldn’t get to Blake’s father in time to stop him from going into the Creepers.
I decided I would let Blake do all the talking.
“Why are you so quiet?” Becky asked me during dinner. Blake had just left.
“I’m really not looking forward to tomorrow night,” I said, scraping my food on my plate with my fork.
“You are dreading a function, but you are okay with Blake helping the Ice Queen?” Becky had that tone of voice that told me she would never have approved in the first place.
I gave her my one raised eyebrow look, the one where she knew she should be dropping it and to stop trying me make feel insecure about him spending time with his ex-girlfriend. She didn’t get that he was searching for a friend, a good friend.
“I told you before, I trust him.”
“Oh, it’s not that I question that. I wouldn’t trust her.”
“Her brother is missing. What if it was your brother?”
She huffed as if she didn’t buy that story for one minute.
“So what, you say that she’s making this up?” I was a bit defensive. “Why, just to spend time with Blake? I refuse to believe that.”
“I am just getting a really bad feeling about this. You don’t know her like I do.”
“You met her like seven months before I did. Seriously?” I’d gotten fed up with what she was insinuating. “Besides, if he wants her back, I will let him go.”
“Just like that?”
“If that is what he wants, then yes.”
She raised her eyes.
“I’m going to leave.”
“Elena?” Becky called after me as I made my way to the entrance.
“Why can’t you just leave what you think to yourself? She is clearly struggling to trust my brother a hundred percent. You are not making it any easier,” I heard Sammy tell Becky.
“I’ve really got a bad feeling about this.”
The two of them were still speaking, and I decided to tune them out. Their insecurities were worse than mine.
I took a bath and focused again on the coming night.
Still, what Becky said found a way back into my head, no matter how hard I tried to push it to the back.
It wouldn’t be easy to let him go if he did want to go back to her, but I’d promised Tabitha, if that is what he wanted, I wouldn’t stand in their way.
Was Phil really missing? I remembered the day she was crying on the stairs, while I was listening in. She sounded sincere, sad that she didn’t know the whereabouts of her brother. Becky hadn’t heard that, and Blake did say he would rather die than ever betray me like that. But then Sammy’s conversation with him that day jumped into my mind too. He was so different from all the other dragons. What if the dent was nothing compared to what the other dragons felt?
Stop it, Elena. Just stop it. I refused to feel insecure about this. I refuse.
The look on Blake’s face the next morning told me more or less that he was still nowhere close to tracking Phil down.
Shit, what if the guy is dead?
George put my thoughts into words as I tuned into their conversation.
“I didn’t want to say that out loud, but a part of me was starting to think that too. I feel sorry for Tabitha if that is the truth,” Blake said to George.
“You sure he isn’t on the other side?”
“He has no reason to be. I mean, he is Chromatic; the Council would never have granted him that pass.”
“You did try and find out, right?”
“C’mon, you really think –”
“Blake, I’m just saying. She believes you are under a spell, she might do whatever –”
“She wouldn’t use her brother like that, but to make sure, I will make a few phone calls.” He grunted, then all of a sudden as I almost reached them, he said, “I expect this from Elena, not you.”
“What about me?” I plopped down on the pillow, pretending I had no idea what they were talking about.
He smiled. “Nothing for you to worry about,” he said and rested his head against his hands with his elbows on the table. The way he looked at me made me want to blush, and I gave an awkward smile.
“What is it?” I looked past him and he laughed.
“Can’t I just look at you?”
I closed my eyes and shook my head. “Stop it.”
He chuckled. “You slept?”
“Not as well as I wanted to, but yes, I slept.”
“About tonight.” I interrupted him and sighed.
He laughed and looked at George.
I started to laugh as I saw the guilty look on George’s face.
“Still no faith in you. Well, at least you are not his dragon.”
“I’m just looking out for my best friend.”
“Whatever,” I said and got up from the pillow and went to the buffet line.
The day went really fast, and at two the girls and I left to go to our hair appointments and to pick up our dresses for tonight’s function. It would be the first occasion in a very long time that I would visit the Museum of Etan.
The function was being held in a private hall tonight, because it was not a revealing, and it would be the very first one Blake and I would be attending together.
I entertained a string of thoughts through the entire hair appointment.
Just don’t say the words, ‘my father is alive.’
I kept seeing a million ways those words could slip out.
Our hair was done in only a few hours. No magic was used, just plain, simple techniques.
A manicure and pedicure were desperately needed, and the color fit with my outfit for tonight beautifully.
We reached the Academy around four and took our cocktail dresses that had been safely packed in their protective black bags that zipped all the way to the top.
Becky unzipped hers first and took out a beautiful lavender dress. She had a thing for purple, and this one was long with a huge slit that ran up her thigh. Sammy’s was emerald green with golden brown trimmings that went beautifully with her hazel eyes. I had gone for a plain black number. It was a halter neck, the back was bare, and the fabric fell over my waist like a beautiful draping.
It was longer at the back than the front, and with the shoes I’d found, the outfit was stunning.
At six we met the boys and Master Longwei in the lobby.
Blake was speaking to George and Dean with his back facing the stairs. All of them wore black tuxes, and when we came down the staircase, Blake turned around.
His eyes rose slightly then a huge grin appeared. He looked so handsome. He was not wearing a tie, of course, just had his white shirt with the top button opened.
He approached me and held out his hand.
He didn’t say anything, just took my hand, hooked it into his arm and walked toward the main door.
“What, you don’t have any remarks?” I said.
He huffed with a huge smile. “There are simply no words to describe how beautiful you look tonight, princess.”
I laughed as he led me to a carriage that waited for us right behind the main gate.
I climbed in first with Blake behind me. The rest followed then Master Longwei entered wearing his traditional Chinese formal attire.
He had worn something similar when we had had to go to the revealing of the King of Lion mission too. It had been a display of Brian in both his forms carrying my axes. That night felt like such a long time ago.
So many things had happened since then.
“You still worried about tonight?” Blake asked as the carriage rose into the air.
“A little.” I took a soft, deep breath.
“It’s going to be fine.” He squeezed my hand softly in his and winked once.
I smiled and stared out of the window again.
Our carriage landed on top of the museum and Raymond, with some other guards King Helmut must have sent, waited for us on the roof as the cockroaches crawled below taking pictures and conducting interviews.
We took the elevator down to the function hall that was right above the floor that housed all the exhibits.
I was glad that for once in my life I wasn’t being welcomed by flashing cameras.
The organizer, one of Queen Marguerite’s event coordinators, who’d done this a million times, met us, and she kept babbling about the outcome of tonight, how many people had indicated they would attend.
She led us through two huge doors. It was bright and everything was white.
I was so happy to find Charles, Marcus, Gertrude, Luke and Olive, with David and Connie around one of the corners.
We walked directly to them and greeted them with two kisses on the cheek.
A waiter with champagne glasses walked by, and Blake removed two flutes off his tray.
“For the nerves,” he said as he handed me the glass, and Charles and Connie smiled at his remark.
“You are going to be perfect tonight, Elena, and may I say, you look gorgeous, princess.”
“Thank you Connie, you look beautiful yourself.”
“Oh, this old thing?”
David laughed. “My dear, you have been waiting for years to parade in that gown,” he said to his wife.