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Starlight: Part 3 – Chapter 29


I wasn’t wrong when I said Emanuel was hiding something, and it turned out that the flag in Blake’s hand was nothing but a stick. He’d used persuasion on all of the other teams to make them think it was the flag, and had hidden the one in a cave nearby, filled with booby traps. The reason Emanuel knew all of this was because he’d helped Blake and his team to build the traps.

 

He’d been interfering so much without even Sir Robert knowing about it.

 

He’d also taken them food, booze and snacks weekly and made sure they had a royal life so that Blake could break his father’s team’s record. And here I was, helping Sir Robert. I felt so bad, but so good at the same time.

 

“No, you have to take Oliver with.”

 

“Why, Elena?”

 

“To take Blake’s team’s place. I heard what you said. My team is not going to hunt. We are not dragons, well, Sammy is but not for tonight.”

 

“Thanks, Elena. Makes me feel super special betraying my kind.”

 

I scrunched up my nose at her.

 

“A strategist already.” Emanuel stared at me.

 

“I’m not. I’m just saying it is not the game I’m playing.”

 

“It’s not a game.”

 

“Oh camping out, drinking and what, screwing with people’s minds making them see a stick as a flag, is not a game?”

 

Emanuel laughed.

 

“The cave is dangerous.”

 

“So? I need a bit of danger in my life, the kind that doesn’t kill me.”

 

He raised his eyes.

 

“That dangerous?”

 

“Well you can get seriously hurt.”

 

“Well then I know how serious Blake is about his flag.”

 

“So it’s like a test.” He huffed. “Damn, Robert is smart.”

 

We all laughed.

 

“Okay,” he said and started telling us about all the traps we had to memorize. It sounded dangerous as he spoke about swinging logs that were hoisted high into the cave. We wouldn’t die if we fell off, but we would break at least half of the bones in our bodies. There were hidden obstacles as well, which reminded me of the Sacred Cavern.

 

Am I going to relive that again?

 

Last was a podium. Nothing major guarded it, and access to the flag was easy, but the leap was a tough one, not impossible though. Something I just had to do.

 

“Oh, my word this is so exciting!” Becky shrieked. I hadn’t seen her this excited the past two months.

 

“Still, I don’t see why Oliver’s team has to come with.” Emanuel said. “Blake might not let you catch the flag, and then they’d have to stay.”

 

“Because precisely that.” I said. “He doesn’t know we are coming, and if you are going to spill it, Oliver will tell me and then Blake and his team will have to forfeit.”

 

“Forfeit?”

 

“I’m the princess. I’m sure I have a say in this too, as it turns out that the Dragon League is actually mine.”

 

Emanuel laughed. “Actually your family’s, but since you are the only one alive, you are so right again.”

 

I felt guilty. My father was still alive. “Don’t you just hate that?”

 

“Very much.”

 


We told Sir Robert the plan, and he loved every second of it. We had to get Oliver and his team in too, but they were ready to go back in tonight.

 

They loved it just as much as Sir Robert and couldn’t say thanks enough that they are actually going to witness The Big Guy—as everyone called him—and “that Tracker”, see their asses. Payback was such a sweet thing.

 

Then Sir Robert had to say that. “On one condition.”

 

“What?” I was surprised. He needed me.

 

“I know Blake. He will not give you the flag without a fight.”

 

I’d fought enough with him.

 

“If, by any chance he is going to win…”

 

“He won’t,” I said.

 

“If,” he said. “You have to come back with Oliver’s team. You and Becky.”

 

Emanuel laughed again. “You are really good.”

 

I didn’t get it.

 


We left around ten and walked for nearly an hour through tall grass.

 

“Remember, when I show you the sign, you all wield your shields, otherwise you can all forget about it.”

 

The four of us nodded, even Dean. They were going to stand guard at the entrance in case Blake’s team caught onto our brilliant plan

 

We walked in silence, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I was going to see Blake again. I missed him more than I could put into words, so I recited some of his poems. I couldn’t believe I was going to part with his journal tonight. I loved that journal and the poems in it—even the dark ones. It was who he was, every inch of him, and I didn’t care that he’d killed people. He had been dark then and hadn’t had a choice.

 

He’d had to do what he had to do, to hang on.

 

I always knew there was something about Irene and why I didn’t like her. She’d lured him in with her blue eyes and beautiful black hair.

 

None of that mattered anymore.

 

I was going to see him tonight.

 

Then Emanuel showed us the sign.


 

BLAKE

 

We sat around the fire. I hated this feeling in the pit of my stomach. It was Elena’s nineteenth birthday, and I was here. I hadn’t spent any of the important days with her, because I couldn’t find her, and now, I was not with her on her birthday as she’d refused to believe that I had nothing to do with that night.

 

Every time I closed my eyes I saw the hurt, the shock, and the betrayal.

 

How could she even think that?

 

I would never do that to her, and yet she did. Because of who I used to be, sleeping with girls just to soothe my needs, or because Tabitha was too far was so stupid back then. I’d been a mess then.

 

I knew it was going to bite me in the ass one day.

 

Now, George was paying for it too. Sort of.

 

At least it was his choice, to make a point that I hadn’t done that to Elena. To get Becky on our side would help, but I knew it was hopeless to begin with. Still, he refused to give up.

 

We sulked like two pups today, missing home—missing our girls. Even if she didn’t want to be my girl anymore, she would always be my girl. I would never love another, ever again.

 

We drank a bit today. Emanuel was going to bring new stock tomorrow for next week. My father still didn’t know about him bringing us supplies. It was good to have an old dragon on our side who knew war, how to blend in and how to sneak around.

 

It was sort of a payback to my father for finding him two hours before he could break my father’s team record so many years ago.

 

The girls were planning something big today. We’d both tuned in. Elena was happy, or that was what her emotions told me. She was excited about something and it was about tonight, her party.

 

George stayed in tune a bit longer. It wasn’t as strong as my connection with Elena, but he could sense Becky’s excitement as well, which only made him sulk more. So we drank.

 

George was a good friend, almost a second Lucian.

 

He’d come with me to the Dragon League.

 

We were on a roll, and in less than ten hours I was going to break my father’s record.

 

Nobody knew were our flag was. I was showing them a stick and making them believe it was the flag. Persuasion was really one of the coolest abilities I owned. The real flag was in a cave, far away from dangerous claws or hands.

 

George sighed as he stared at the embers; the rest of the group was talking softly to one another. I found Taylor’s eyes on me. She smiled as I looked at her. There was seriously something up with that chick. I just couldn’t pinpoint what it was. It made my scales crawl.

 

I shook it off, I would find out what it was eventually. I lay back into my chair.

 

I gazed at the sky; it was beautiful. The moon was bright, no clouds, nothing but a million stars in the sky.

 

I wished I could just fly to wherever Elena was having her party and beg her for her forgiveness, even if it was for something I hadn’t done. But yes, she’d said those words and nothing could break them. It had to come from her. She needed to forgive me.

 

“Urgh.” George grunted, and I chuckled.

 

“Dude, let it go.”

 

“I don’t like this giddy feeling. I miss her.”

 

“Then go back home. You don’t need to punish yourself like this man.”

 

“No, I said I’ll be here, and I’m no quitter.” He took another sip of his beer.

 

He was one of the best damn trackers our era had ever seen. He’d found the other groups in record time and discovered a way to hide ours. He’d located me in the darkness. He was going to be one hell of a Moon-Bolt.

 

Both George and I jumped when we heard twigs and leaves crush underfoot. Someone had just walked into our shield. The smell of strong fire and roasted oak filled my mind. It was a Sun-Blast.

 

“Emanuel is here,” Emile sang.

 

It was still a couple of miles away, but we heard and smelled him.

 

“Someone is close. Another group?” Taylor got up.

 

“Relax, they are far from the flag,” I replied and smiled as I heard a steady, confident heartbeat. Why was he already here? He was only supposed to come later, after her party.

 

“It’s just Emanuel.”

 

“What is he doing here with other people, Blake?”

 

I only got what she said as more heartbeats closed in on us. I got their scents. It was Oliver’s team. Their two days were up.

 

“Taylor, relax please. The flag isn’t close by.” I mouthed that last part of my sentence and George took a sip of his beer next to me. He was like an injured deer without Becky. Still, I knew how he felt. It wasn’t easy for dragons to be so far from their riders, but he was adamant about making his point.

 

Not long after, Emanuel made it out of the forest and into our small camp. Without supplies. The entire team’s faces fell.

 

“What are you doing here? I thought by now you would’ve been drunk?” I didn’t look at him.

 

Emanuel chuckled. “Drunk?”

 

“Elena’s party, I’m sure she’s having one.”

 

“Oh, no that was last night.” He came to sit down and Oliver’s team followed him a few seconds later.

 

“How did Oliver find us Emanuel?” I teased him.

 

“They bumped into me along the way. I looked suspicious with the cooler.” They put down the cooler bag as one my group members went to see what was inside.

 

He dropped off papers that featured Elena’s interviews from the past few days. I would read them later tonight when the pain grew unbearable. I hated what had happened to her in Areeth and wanted to skin Caleb alive.

 

“You getting old?” I joked.

 

“Easy,” he returned and laughed.

 

“So what, they got her birthday wrong again?” I didn’t like how they kept getting it wrong.

 

“Nope, they had a huge cake around twelve.” He chuckled, and I smiled. “She will forgive you.”

 

“I don’t know. She doesn’t even want me to explain that I had nothing to do with it.”

 

“She will, eventually.” He had that knowing smile, and I frowned at him. Had he spoken to her last night?

 

“What the hell did you say?”

 

“Nothing, just that she is being stubborn, which is the truth.”

 

I huffed. “I hope that is all you said to her last night.”

 

He laughed and leaned back into the camp chair he’d stolen when Rikus had gotten up to get a new drink.

 

I stared at Oliver. “Oliver, what are you guys doing here?”

 

“Getting your flag.” He kept staring at my hand.

 

Emanuel and I both laughed.

 

“Not going to happen, dude,” I said and threw him the stick, which he caught but then I switch off my persuasion and loved the way his face changed.

 

“A stick, seriously?”

 

Emanuel and I laughed some more as Rikus handed me and Emanual beers.

 

“Your father is really getting nervous.” Emanuel desperately tried to hide his grin as he opened his beer and took a big gulp that almost finished half of it.

 

“Oh, I really don’t care,” I said and took a gulp as well.

 

“We’ll see, he has pretty amazing tactics,” Oliver said. He’d tried to find our flag for the past month, and instead we’d taken his, time and time again, forcing them to go home, rest two days and try again. He seriously hated my guts.

 

“Tactics. None of them will make me part with that flag.”

 

“It represents too much,” Emanuel stated.

 

“You dents take everything way too seriously,” Oliver said.

 

“As it should be,” George chirped.

 

I chuckled.

 

We fell silent. Oliver was really sure of himself, but his entire team was here, after I’d showed him that our flag was nothing than a stick. He hadn’t gotten up and told his team to look for it. It couldn’t be the beer. They had beer and could drink as much as they wanted.

 

I looked at Emanuel. They weren’t behaving like a team that was desperately trying to find our flag. They were making themselves comfortable around our fire.

 

Emanuel didn’t even look at me.

 

“What are you not telling me?”

 

He raised his eyebrow slightly. “Nothing.”

 

There was something, otherwise he would’ve said I don’t know what you mean, or talking about.

 

George gasped and I looked at him. He was tuned in again.

 

“What?”

 

He smiled like someone who’d just found their favorite toy again. Becky. “You were right about the planning, but wrong about what they were planning.” He looked at Oliver. “Sir Robert’s tactic,” he looked at Emanual. “Bringing them here.”

 

“Ah, man,” one of his other team members sang.

 

Emanuel laughed. “Dents, what can I say?”

 

It felt as if life poured back into my soul. That was why he was so sure about Elena forgiving me. “She’s after my flag?” I asked him, and couldn’t help the huge grin. “And you told her were it was, didn’t you.”

 

He roared with laughter. “I serve the princess until the day my king is ready.”

 

“Idiot.”

 

At once all of us got up and went straight for the cave we’d fixed with booby traps. Now I was worried she might get hurt.

 

The run was hard. George and I were a few paces in front, with Taylor right behind us. She sure was one fast girl.

 

We found Dean and Sammy at the cave’s entrance, and Sammy let out a huge shrilling sound then she laughed her hyena laugh. I changed direction and ran past them through the trees. I could hear Becky and Elena already inside, working as a team.

 

George had gotten new life back in his bones, and leaped for the upper wall of the entrance. He pushed himself up, but I chose one down the path while Rikus and Meg stayed to distract Sammy and Dean. If I knew Taylor, she was already inside with George.

 

I entered the cave, nearest to the flag. I could hear Becky screaming with laughter. George had reached her.

 

“Elena, go for it!” she yelled, and I moved sideways swiftly through the small cave.

 

I was finally inside and found Taylor close to Elena. She was wearing all black, tight pants that clung to her legs and a gray long-sleeve shirt, with a matching vest.

 

She ran hard and then Taylor swung the log with Elena on it. What the hell is she doing?

 

Elena kept her balance, and to my surprise kept running forward even though it was spinning.

 

She leaped for the next log and I was glad when she caught the railing, hoisted herself over and carried on.

 

Move you idiot. I ran forward to the front, through another passage that blocked my view of Elena.

 

The chains rattled again. Taylor was on Elena’s log once more. She was going to do the same thing she’d done the last time. I didn’t like it. Taylor really took winning seriously, to such an extent that she didn’t care whom she had to hurt to win. Well, I did.

 

I exited the side passage.

 

The logs Taylor was on swung around and around, and Elena had just leaped for the podium.

 

She caught it just in time, almost giving me a heart attack, and pulled herself up. Then she sprinted toward the flag.

 

“Blake!” Taylor yelled.

 

I grinned. Not this time, Dad, I don’t care who you send.

 

I ran as fast as I could, and just as Elena reached for the flag, I collided with her and she fell on top of me as we slid off the clearing. A yelp left her.

 

I grabbed with one hand and held onto the ledge, while the other one had her hand securely in mine.

 

I could hear her body colliding with rock.

 

“Yes!” Taylor yelled. She chanted our victory, and it echoed through the entire cave.

 

“Are you okay?” I asked, and could hear her laughter below me. She was fine.

 

George laughed as Becky grunted, but she laughed with him after a few short seconds. “You tried, Elena!”

 

“Not good enough!” she yelled back.

 

She still dangled from my hand, but her heart was beating from pure adrenaline. At least she trusted me enough to know I would’ve caught her. She looked up then that disappointing laugh escaped her lips. “Seriously, you couldn’t just part with it once? Just once.” She clung to my hand for dear life. The drop was far; she would break at least both her legs and some ribs if she fell.

 

“You have no idea what that flag represents.” I pulled her hand once and she came flying up to me. I caught her around her waist.

 

Her face was inches from mine and she took a deep breath as she stared at me. “Very disappointed, Blake.”

 

She didn’t look upset.

 

“Sorry, seems to be my field of expertise.”

 

She giggled and shook her head. I pushed her up onto the ledge and watched how she climbed onto the clearing again. My other hand reached the ledge too and I pushed myself up.

 

Taylor was still cheering. She was such a bad winner. It irritated the living crap out of me.

 

“You guys take this Dragon League business seriously.” She kept staring at Taylor, and her Cammy buzzed. She smiled as she opened it.

 

My father’s face appeared. “Did you get it?”

 

“Nope, he is way too fast, picked up on it as we entered the cave.”

 

My father grunted and his hologram disappeared.

 

I laughed softly as she smiled. We started to move out of the cave. The flag was securely inside my hand.

 

I helped Elena onto the upper platform that led to the side passage, and we moved out of the cave.

 

Once outside I could hear Taylor teasing Sammy and Dean.

 

What is it with this chick? It was just a game. When we reached them, she grabbed the flag from me, and waved it around, making more cheering noises.

 

My sister just stared at her, which made me laugh. George and Becky were gone, no surprise there.

 

Sammy caught my eye. “I really thought you would let Elena just take it, Blake. Just this once.”

 

“Not that flag, sorry.”

 

“Urgh, you are such an idiot,” she said, and Elena laughed.

 

“Well if you were on my team, you would’ve done everything you could to not lose that flag too. Dad is just sour because I’m close to breaking his team’s record,” I said. “It’s very bad form using Elena like this.”

 

Samantha cackled, as did Elena.

 

We walked back to the campsite.

 

“So what gives me the pleasure of your company on this beautiful night? Shouldn’t you be celebrating somewhere?”

 

“We partied last night. I didn’t think you would even know what day this was. Wow, I’m impressed.”

 

I chuckled. If only she knew.

 

“Happy birthday, Elena.”

 

“Thank you, Blake.”

 

“Nineteen, wow.”

 

“Yeah, if only people would treat me like a nineteen-year-old and not a ten-year-old, that would be awesome.”

 

I smiled, not knowing what she meant by it. “You still haven’t answered my question. Gracing us with your presence. Wait let me guess, my father put you up to this?”

 

“No.” She sounded a bit uncomfortable. “Ralph dropped this off.” She handed me my journal, the one with all my poems that had been missing for the past five months. “The day he demonstrated the super suits. That was your idea?” she asked.

 

I nodded. “I knew nobody was going to be able to make a saddle that was going to fit my fat ass, so I had to think of a better plan to make you feel safe and secure.”

 

She laughed again.

 

“You opened it.” I looked down at my journal. She shared the ability. The one that was the key. Shit. Now I know why she’d used it so many times.

 

“The pink kiss was a brilliant idea, but I figured it out really fast, sorry.”

 

“So I take it you read them.” I didn’t like that one bit. I couldn’t hide it from my voice. Some of the stuff was dark, very dark. Things I didn’t want her to ever find out. Irene…

 

“Please don’t be mad.” She touched me gently, it send a million volts up my arm. “They were the most beautiful words I’ve ever read. Who would’ve thought? You, a poet.”

 

I stared at her.

 

“You should actually be grateful that this journal ended up with me. It was those words that made me realize what a stupid idiot I’ve been,” she babbled.

 

What? I totally did not expect that. She was really so different from all the other humans I knew – a lot like her father in some ways. “You are not an idiot. You figured out how to open my journal.” I was still disappointed. The journal was private.

 

She laughed softly. “Yes, because I had to know what was in there. Such bad character.”

 

I chuckled. “Well if it’s my words that changed your mind, then I’m grateful for this book. I actually thought it would do the opposite.”

 

“You mean the beginning of the journal?” She smiled.

 

“I did plenty of shit.”

 

“We are all capable of bad things. It’s in the past. Yours was dark. You had to act and couldn’t help it.”

 

I stared at her. “As easy as that?”

 

She laughed. “Oh no. I was quite shocked about all the nasty stuff you did. I couldn’t really imagine how dark you really were, but that last three quarters…it just shows you how powerful those poems were.”

 

I smiled, put my arm around her, and pulled her into my side. This felt normal, I felt normal again. I didn’t worry about her like I had the past two months. I’d really never expected this in a million years.

 

We reached the campsite and Emanuel laughed at Taylor who was now pushing the flag in Oliver’s face.

 

“I’m disappointed, princess,” Emanuel teased her.

 

“Not as disappointed as me,” she replied.

 

She couldn’t be that disappointed. She must know that the flag represented her, and I just showed her that I would do anything to protect the flag.

 

I sat down and she took George’s seat.

 

More rustles came from behind, and George was walking with Becky in his arms, whispering sweet words in her ears.

 

They had it so easy.

 

“I really am sorry for the disappointment.”

 

“It’s fine.” She smiled at me, and Taylor handed her a cooler.

 

“No hard feelings?”

 

“None.” Elena smiled and took the cooler from Taylor. I would love to know what had happened on those logs.

 

“Happy birthday,” she sang, and everyone on my team wished her a happy birthday. Elena went scarlet, but thanked them all.

 

“You must know what the flag represents?” I asked as everyone gave her space to breathe and she took a sip.

 

“Emanuel told me, but still. I went for it.”

 

“It doesn’t matter.” I smiled.

 

“But it is good to know that in a real war you would be there.”

 

“I will always be there. War or no war.” I took a sip of my beer and stared at her.

 

I got up, and gestured with my hands for her to wait. Where else was she going to go?

 

I walked into my tent and picked up the present I’d made. I went back and she was making jokes with Emanuel. She was really that disappointed? I should’ve let her grab the stupid flag.

 

“Here,” I hunched in front of her chair, and she studied the badly wrapped present I held.

 

“What is this?” She looked at me.

 

“It’s your birthday. I was going to give it to you when I returned, or saw you again.”

 

“Blake,” she whined.

 

“Just take it, it’s not much, but it’s from me.” She didn’t get what I was saying and she took it.

 

She opened it and slightly gasped as she saw the dragon leather bracelet. It was a deep red purple and then realization dawned on her face. “When you say it’s from you…”

 

“I heal fast.”

 

Her eyes grew. “Are you insane? Why do you do this?”

 

“It’s nothing, it’s just a piece of skin.” I chuckled and tried to explain quickly while George chirped softly in the background. Everyone laughed except Elena.

 

“You are crazy.” She sounded upset.

 

“Just take it, please.”

 

She shook her head. “I don’t know if I should smack you or thank you.”

 

“Is the thank you a violent gesture too?”

 

She laughed. “No, it’s not. Come here.” She cupped my face and gave me a soft kiss. My stomach did all sorts of things. She broke the kiss and stared at me. “It’s seriously beautiful, but really stupid. I don’t care if your skin grows back, don’t do this again.”

 

“Okay,” I spoke softly and helped her put on the leather bracelet.

 

The color of my skin looked so beautiful on her wrist. It was a gorgeous bracelet too. I’d written a small love note with my fire, burned it in there and hoped she would find it and decipher it.

 

Images of her sharing a sleeping bag with me tonight flooded my brain. It quickly changed into something else, and I pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind.

 

I tied up the last string and I could feel Elena’s eyes on me.

 

“What is going through that mind of yours?” she asked, and I smiled.

 

“Nothing,” I said, sounding guilty. Was it that evident on my face?

 

“Well.” Emanuel clapped his hands together, and I looked at him. “It’s ten, and we still have to get back.”

 

“Go back?”

 

“Yes, Blake. The other team lost. I have to take them back.”

 

“Oh, okay.”

 

Taylor waved at Oliver. “Bye,” she said, and he laughed, got up with his team and started to leave.

 

“Where are you going?” George asked behind me and I glanced over my shoulder. I saw Becky had just kissed him, and was getting up as if she was ready to leave too.

 

“I have a really busy day tomorrow,” she answered. “Win this thing, baby.”

 

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” he whined.

 

My face fell as I realized why I’d felt disappointment earlier. I opened my eyes and looked at Elena. “You have to go too, don’t you?”

 

“Your father’s rules.” She had a soft smile.

 

I laughed when I really wanted to cuss. “He is seriously a strategist.”

 

“Very disappointed, Blake,” she said again and kissed me softly once more, as she got up and walked over to Emanuel.

 

“Really?” I looked at Emanuel.

 

“Sorry. I’ve got my orders.”

 

“Screw your orders.” I couldn’t help the hint of begging in my tone, and Elena turned around partially, waved at me, and walked away.

 

Did she just have to do that?

 

I watched her retreating figure. She looked so gorgeous tonight.

 

This was not happening. Dad! You asshole.

 

George grunted and just stared at me. “Dude,” he said softly.

 

They disappeared into the woods.

 

Taylor wielded a shield around us. “Blake, don’t.” Taylor seemed angry, as if she knew what I was going to do.

 

I sighed, glanced at George, who looked as if they’d just taken his favorite toy away from him again, and back at Taylor. “It’s just a flag, Taylor,” I said, and lowered her shield. “Emanuel, wait.”


 

ELENA

 

I was so close, so freakin’ close. Sir Robert hadn’t been joking when he said he really didn’t want Blake to break his record and had made it so hard—or thought he had made it hard. It was really so easy for Blake.

 

Still, I really was disappointed. I’d wanted to spend the last of my birthday with him, and now I had to go back without him.

 

Blake’s face fell right after Becky told George about our busy day tomorrow. “You have to go too, don’t you?” He sounded disappointed. Finally. I sighed.

 

“Your father’s rules.”

 

He laughed, the one that just made me want to grab him and kiss the living crap out of him. He bit his lower lip. My insides clenched. I wondered if he even knew he was doing that. “He is seriously a strategist.”

 

“Very disappointed, Blake,” I said again, and bent my head closer to his for one last kiss.

 

His lips tasted perfect. I hated this feeling. I really want him to come with me tonight, so badly that it hurt, and now, it made me feel sick knowing that he was staying.

 

I got up and went over to Emanuel.

 

“Really?” Blake asked Emanuel.

 

“Sorry. I’ve got my orders.”

 

“Screw your orders,” he begged and my stomach clenched. This was what Sir Robert’s one condition meant. He still wasn’t going to give up that flag.

 

I turned around and waved one last time at him. He didn’t even wave back.

 

I didn’t care how I looked around him anymore—which right now was a pathetic loser—I wanted him so badly, and I knew he wanted me too. The words in that journal had said it over and over again.

 

I reached Becky and just stared at her. I took another deep breath and she pulled a face at me. She wanted George to come home too.

 

George seemed quite disappointed as well. He was whiny and grunted a lot.

 

Becky smiled but didn’t say anything.

 

Emanuel chuckled as we took the path back to the farm.

 

“You know how hard that is for him, right?”

 

“He makes it look so freakin’ easy.”

 

“Believe me, it’s not.”

 

I shook my head.

 

“Sorry, princess.”

 

“It’s fine. It’s my own fault. I should’ve tried harder.”

 

Emanuel smile and raised his eyes knowingly as he put his hand up in defense and started counting off. Five, four, three.

 

I frowned. Two, one.

 

“Emanuel wait!” Blake yelled and my stomach fluttered.

 

Becky jumped up and down excitedly on one spot.

 

“Thank you.” George grunted.

 

Emanuel turned around, and walked back. “You called?” he asked.

 

“My father is an idiot.”

 

“Your father is brilliant,” Emanuel joked.

 

“I seriously can’t believe you are doing this!” Taylor yelled.

 

“For the umpteenth time, it’s just a flag. It’s not the real deal. I caught it, so relax, Drama Queen.” Blake sounded like his old self again, the way he used to when speaking to me a long, long time ago.

 

She kept grunting.

 

“Oliver,” Emanuel said. “Here.” He threw him Blake’s team’s flag.

 

“Never thought the big guy would falter this way.” Oliver laughed, and I grinned like an idiot.

 

“Thanks, Elena.”

 

I didn’t say anything. I felt quite bad now for Blake’s team.

 

“Dents,” Emanuel said and smiled at me.

 

I shook my head and waited. We heard them starting to pack up.

 

“I want to stay,” Taylor said.

 

“Do what you like, I don’t care,” Blake replied and she grunted. What the hell…stop it Elena, he would never. I looked at the bracelet again. How the hell had he even done this? I pushed the image of George holding a knife, while Blake was in his dragon form, to the back of my mind.

 

Stupid idiot. But the bracelet was gorgeous. Really, really gorgeous.

 

The other girl and guy walked out first with huge backpacks on their shoulders.

 

“I want a long freakin’ bath,” she said and giggled as she passed us. She didn’t even sound upset.

 

“Make mine a long shower,” the guy said.

 

Then they started talking about steaks, how it should be done with mashed potatoes and whatnot. Emanuel chuckled.

 

George passed Emanuel and ran straight to Becky. He wrapped his arm around her, and they walked on.

 

Blake followed a minute after him with a bag over his one arm. “Don’t,” he warned Emanual, sounding slightly upset. But he winked with a smile when he saw me. “I hate it that my father knows my weakness.”

 

He pulled me closer to him and I was crushed against the side of his torso.

 

“Everyone knows you dents have weak points,” Emanuel chirped from the back, and Blake shook with laughter.

 

It was that obvious, even if I almost hadn’t seen it, but he’d made that clear by giving up the flag.

 

My stomach fluttered like crazy, knowing now that he was coming home with me tonight. I could finally tell him how sorry I was for not believing him.


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