I got Tabitha’s number from Isabel the next day and asked her to meet me so we could talk.
To my surprise she accepted, and we met in the coffee shop at the mall in Tith.
I was obviously in disguise, wearing my hoody over my head in such warm weather.
I waited for her for fifteen minutes and really thought she wasn’t going to show when she eventually plopped onto the chair opposite mine.
“Didn’t think you would phone me.” She had that bitchiness in her tone again.
“Then why did you come?”
“Because I know what this is about. It’s the letter, right?”
“Why did you make me believe that it was from him?”
She looked at me; her eyes shifted to the table as they started to glisten.
“Don’t cry, please. You got what you want.”
“No, I didn’t okay. He didn’t do anything.”
“It doesn’t matter what you say to me, it’s over.”
“Then you are an idiot.”
“I would do anything just to get him back.”
“And you did.”
“No, I didn’t. He wants nothing to do with me. Told me if I ever did anything like that again he would kill me.”
“I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way.”
“No, he did. It was my Blake saying those words to me. I know you think the dent is something wonderful. I know it’s not. You used to believe that too, but none of that matters anymore ’cause he is miserable without you.”
“Just don’t.” I was starting to get upset.
“Fine, you don’t want to believe me, then why the hell did you phone me.”
“I want to know why you did this.” I waved the letter in my hands.
“I was trying to make it up to him. Trying to right a wrong. My mistake. Not his. I wrote everything I did in that letter.”
“Sorry to disappoint you, but your handwriting is terrible.”
“Yeah, well I guess I can’t be perfect at everything.”
I just looked at her; confused was an understatement.
If she was telling the truth then why had he left? Was it really to give me time away from him?
“Please just give him another chance. I’m really trying to make it work with Peter because I really hurt his feelings in the process.”
“I know it sounds stupid. I mean, Peter and me, but I am trying.”
I nodded. “I don’t think I can.”
She sighed. “You once told me that if it was a spell he would shake it off and come back to me. He’s not going to shake this spell, and he is never going to come back to me. He made that very clear. He honestly deserves another chance. I want him to be happy, and it’s clear that that happiness lies with you, not me.”
I wanted to say something more and she put her finger over my lips. “I don’t want to hear it. I made a huge mistake that night, and I’m sorry.”
She got up and left.
I sat for another twenty minutes just thinking about what she’d said.
It could be one of two things. That she really was the one who’d tried something, meaning Blake was telling me the truth. Or he’d got so upset about me catching them that he’d taken it out on her and she’d gone out of her way and had taken the blame.
I would never know which one it was, and I would always have her in the back of my mind, wondering if he still saw her from time to time.
That was the thing with trust. Once it is broken, you can never get it back, ever.
My father was seriously a killing machine when it came to training these dragons.
For the past few weeks all we did were drills upon drills, day in and day out. Boot camp from hell.
It was good, a great distraction from what a mess my life was at the moment.
I never thought in a million years that I would hate Tabitha the way I did at this moment.
Elena would never believe me. Searching for her brother, which had been a complete scam too, just made it worse. She probably thought I’d screwed her around every bush.
But coming here helped.
I started with a team. George, Taylor, Megan, Rikus, and Emile. We were going to be each other’s team buddies for the next eight weeks.
We all started at the bottom. Shaping up, getting fit, something I didn’t really need, but my father pushed me the hardest. He pushed my team members the hardest.
Taylor was one of Emanuel’s ops girls. She was a Night Villain, but there was something familiar about her that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. She was always flirting with me, always wanted to be near me.
She gave me the creeps.
Megan and Rikus sort of became best buds, which I thought would probably turn into buds with benefits later on, and I was right in only a few short days. Emile was more or less the same as George and I. Crying over a Sun-Blast he couldn’t have.
We were a group of dragons who would learn what it took to protect and serve our riders. To become whatever they needed.
George and I were the only dents in the entire league, and we really didn’t need to learn that much.
We were going to get our flag soon and then the hunting was going to start. Now that was the part we were looking forward to.
At night, which was the hardest, we would both sulk like pups. He was thinking about Becky, missing her like crazy, while I was praying Elena would forgive me, even if I hadn’t done anything. Well, I wasn’t that innocent. Tabitha should’ve never been in my room, and for that I was sorry.
“Blake, can you please come to the office?” My father’s voice filled the system.
I finished my meal and took the tray to the drop-off.
My father was seriously considered a god when it came to the Dragon League. I really had no idea how he was going to act once he found out his rider was still alive.
I knocked on the door and waited until he told me to enter.
The command came and I went in. I found Emanuel sitting in one of the chairs in front of his desk.
I smiled softly and sat on the other one.
“You were right. They bombarded her at the port.”
“You got there in time?”
“You say anything about me to her?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Let me guess, she didn’t ask about me.”
I shook my head. “It’s okay.”
“Look, she is scared about this campaign, but we all know she has the same stubborn streak as her mother, so she asked me to give her pointers. You think you can help out with that?”
“Just tell her how to win over crowds and what to say.”
“Give me a day.”
I got up, turned around, and just before I opened the door I said, “Thanks, Emanuel.”
“You are welcome.”
I exited. He hadn’t been happy with me when I told him what had happened, but he believed I wasn’t at fault after I told him everything. He hated that I’d given her space again. He didn’t think that it was the right move, said I should’ve stayed and fought this time and made her see my side of the story, but I knew her. Or I hoped I did.
I went to my room; the one I shared with all the guys from my team and grabbed a piece of paper.
I hoped that she wouldn’t know that it was from me. She would not do a thing on the list if she did.
I took a huge breath.
Bullet point number one. Never back down. Keep your chin up. You are the Princess of Paegeia.
Emanual came over around six with a file in his hands.
Oh my freak’n word. How many speeches was I going to have to learn?
Lucille allowed us to use her office.
“That was fast.” I sat down in front of Lucille’s desk.
He flashed me his perfect smile. “I’m a dragon of many talents. I could do this with my eyes closed.”
I laughed as he handed me the speeches for the radio.
“Radio is easy. Nobody can see you except the DJ, who is going to basically give you free rein to speak. Now I based the questions and answers on all these guys’ personalities. Knowing more or less what they will ask you, and this is how you should answer them.”
He took me through all of the radio interviews. These terms made no sense to me at all. It all had to do with war, and my head felt as if it was going to explode just by reading through them.
I smiled as I looked at the handwriting.
“What is it?” Emanuel asked.
“You have a beautiful handwriting, Emanuel. Very feminine. You sure you did this and not Queen Margerite?”
He laughed. “The queen knows a lot, but I can promise you, war is not her department. And stop making fun of my handwriting. At least it’s readable.”
I wanted to laugh thinking immediately about Blake’s, but realized it hadn’t been his.
Lucille entered with two cups of coffee and a plate of cookies, exiting immediately after she dropped them off.
We carried on with the TV interviews, which was my biggest fear. I was terrified of making a fool of myself, as all of them were streaming live, meaning when you messed up, the entire nation saw it.
Blake would’ve been so much better at this than me.
Next were the briefings I would have in front of actual crowds.
This was nerve-wracking too, but the best part was that Emanuel would be right behind me. That was a huge comfort.
The night flew by and around ten, we were finally done with all of the speeches and things I had to say.
“One more thing, and this is very important.”
“Never lose yourself. Work your own personality in through all of this.”
“That is the most important.”
“I see how people react to what is inside of you, just like at the fundraiser. Maggie said that she was going to get you involved in all of hers from now on.”
I laughed and shook my head.
“I’m serious. You reach people’s hearts. It was a trait of both your parents. They were amazing people.”
I remembered my mother’s words when she’d written about Emanuel.
“She really liked you, my mother.”
I nodded with a smile. “She wrote about how you came to her rescue when one of the other dragons tried to pin her down.”
He flinched. “I forgot about that. She was so feisty. Beautiful too.”
“But your father owned her heart from the minute they met.”
“Yeah, a real fairy tale, one that didn’t work out so well for them.”
He cupped my cheek softly. “Don’t lose yourself in the past. What ifs drive many people over the edge. We can’t change the past.”
I smiled and nodded.
“I’ve got to go, still plenty of things I have to take care of.”
We got up, and I walked with him to the door. “Just go over them again, and you will do great with tomorrow’s interview.”
“Thank heavens it’s radio and not TV.”
He chuckled. “You know you can always call him if you need his help.”
“I told you before, I’m not that great a pretender.”
“Okay. Good luck, princess.”
“Ha-ha.” I said sarcastically and he laughed as he ran down Lucille’s steps.
I watched him walking away.
“Creepy.” He turned around as he reached Lucille’s can-can fish lady. “But so Lucille.”
I laughed. “Goodnight, Emanuel.”
I closed the door and went back to my room. It was going to take a miracle for me to pull off this campaign.