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Her Elemental Dragons: Kiss the Sky: Chapter 18

KIRA

After my training with Jasin I returned to my room to take my midday meal alone with my thoughts. As I picked at the cod cooked with tomatoes and onions, I composed a letter to Tash telling her everything we had experienced so far, while trying to keep my wording vague enough that no one would know what our plans were if the letter got into the wrong hands.

The letter ended up being two pages front and back because once I started talking to Tash in my head I couldn’t stop. I told her about Jasin’s family and about Auric’s fiancé. I told her about how Slade was distant and Reven had left for a short time. I told her about the weight of the responsibility that had been pressed upon me and my fears I would never become the leader I was supposed to be. And even though Tash wouldn’t read my letter for some time, a great weight was lifted off me simply by writing it.

A knock sounded on my door and I called out for them to enter. As I folded up the letter and put it in an envelope, Auric stepped inside. My stomach twisted at the sight of him lingering in the doorway as if he wasn’t sure he was truly welcome. He’d returned to his fine nobleman’s clothing, his face had been shaved, and his golden hair had been cut short again. He looked every inch the handsome prince that he was, even though I’d liked his rougher traveling look too. I suspected the true Auric was somewhere between the two extremes.

“Can we talk, Kira?” he asked.

“Yes, I’m just finishing up a letter to my friend Tash back in Stoneham. Would it be possible to have it delivered to her?”

“Of course.” He held out his palm and I set the letter in it. “I’ll send a messenger right away.”

“Thank you.” I couldn’t help but notice how stiff we were around each other and didn’t like this new tension between us, even though I was still upset with him. “What did you want to talk about?”

His storm gray eyes stared into mine. “My engagement with Brin is over. We met with her parents this morning to make it official.”

I let out a long breath. “That’s a relief.”

“Yes. Everyone is quite upset with me, but I’ve never been a very dutiful son or prince, so it’s to be expected I guess. And soon we’ll be gone anyway.”

“When can we leave for the Air Temple?”

“Soon, but I need another day or two to appease my parents. My mother insists on throwing us a ball before we go.”

My eyebrows darted up and anxiety fluttered in my stomach. “A ball?”

“Yes, to celebrate my safe return, however short it may be, but you don’t need to worry. It will be drinking, dancing, and lots of food, and then we can leave for the Air Temple the next day.” He cleared his throat. “That is, if you still want me to go to the Air Temple with you.”

“I do,” I said without hesitation. Though I was upset with Auric, he was still the one I wanted as my mate. The second he’d walked into my room I’d known that for sure.

“Thank the Gods.” A smile lit up his face and he offered me his hand. “There’s somewhere I’d like to show you. Will you come with me?”

I took his hand and he led me out of my room, down the great staircase, and along a hallway, where we reached two double doors. As he threw one open, I gasped. Inside was the giant library I’d glimpsed in my dreams when I’d first seen Auric. Every wall was covered in shelves that were packed tight with books of all shapes and colors. I’d never seen so many books before in my life, as they were rare treasures in most of the places I’d lived before.

One wall held gigantic windows that looked out at the ocean in the distance, and Auric led me to a small sitting area in front of them.

“This room is gorgeous,” I said, as I sat on one of the plush couches.

Auric sat beside me on the same couch, our knees touching as he turned toward me. “It’s my favorite place in the palace, and where I usually spend most of my days.”

“I know. This is where I saw you in my dreams, though I only caught a few glimpses.” I gazed in awe at all the tall shelves. “I’m glad I got to see it in person.”

“Me too. I was nervous about coming to the palace, but I’m actually happy you met my family and saw my home, even if the circumstances could have been better. That’s my fault, I know.”

“I’m pleased I got to meet them too, although I doubt they will ever like me or accept me. And I’m still upset with you.”

“I know, and I’m sorry. I should have told you long ago so that you knew what awaited us when we arrived in Stormhaven, and so you knew that the betrothal was not important to me.” He took my hands in his and gazed into my eyes. “You’re the one I love, Kira. From the moment we met I knew there would never be anyone else. I only hope you can forgive me for my mistakes. I never meant to lie to you or hurt you.”

My heart thumped faster in my chest at his words. “I know you didn’t, but it will still take some time for me to trust you again.”

“I can live with that, as long as you still want me to be your Golden Dragon?”

“I do, although I can’t help but question why you want the role. We come from such different lives. I’d managed to forget that while we were traveling, but being at the palace and meeting your family and Brin only showed me that maybe we don’t belong together.”

His brow furrowed. “Kira, you know I don’t care about any of that.”

I remembered the way the King and Queen had looked at me when Auric had said he wanted to be with me instead of Brin, and a hard pit formed in my stomach. “I’m a commoner. I’ve been poor and on the run most of my life. You’re a prince. Your family will never accept me.”

He squeezed my hands. “You may have started life as a commoner, but you’re going to be the Black Dragon. Someday you’ll be more powerful than any King or Queen.”

I yanked my hands away, my stomach twisting. “Is that why you want to be the Golden Dragon? For the power?”

“No, not at all.” He raked a hand through his shining blond hair. “Gods, I’m really messing up this apology. I want to be the Golden Dragon because I love you and can’t imagine not being by your side. But also because I’ve seen what the Dragons have done to the world, especially these past few weeks we’ve been traveling. I’ve watched my parents try to subtly resist them for years, but they’re unable to do much to defy the Dragons. For years I was the odd prince who had no real importance or role in the kingdom, and for the first time ever I have a purpose. With you, I can do my part to make the world better. That’s what I want.”

“But you could stay here as a prince, living a safe, calm life as a scholar and a husband to your friend. If you go with us, you’ll be in danger every day.”

He touched my cheek lightly. “I would rather be in danger and be by your side, trying to make the world better, than stay here in safety. All I want is to be your Golden Dragon, if you’ll still have me.”

I couldn’t help but lean into his touch. “You’re still one of my mates, Auric. And though I forgive you, I need some time before I trust you again.”

“I understand, and I swear I’m not hiding anything else. This is it.” He spread his arms wide. “And for what it’s worth, I think you’ll like Brin too, if you give her a chance.”

“Maybe. If I can get over the urge to stake my claim on you every time she’s around.”

“Well, I won’t argue if you want to do that.” He leaned close, his eyes turning stormy. “In fact, maybe you should do that now, in case she’s watching.”

The hint of a smile touched my lips, and I couldn’t deny the desire that flickered inside me when he was this close. “You’re impossible.”

“Jasin might be rubbing off on me.”

“He told me to forgive you earlier, when we were training.”

“Did he? Maybe I’m rubbing off on him.” Auric brushed his thumb along my lips, his eyes searching mine. I parted my lips for him, taking his thumb into my mouth, and sucked gently. He let out a groan and then cupped my face in his hands and pressed his mouth to mine. I kissed him back roughly, our tongues dancing together, my hands sliding around his neck to pull him closer. I poured all my anger, doubts, and fears into this kiss, and he held me tight, like he was scared to let go.

“I worried I’d never kiss you again,” he said, pressing his forehead against mine.

The doors flew open, making us both jump and pull apart. Reven stormed inside, his black hooded cloak trailing behind him. “I had a feeling you’d be in here. We need to talk.”

I smoothed my dress, my cheeks warm. “Is something wrong?”

“Yes. The Golden Dragon has ordered the assassination of the King and Queen.”

Auric’s eyes widened. “How do you know?”

“Because I just took the job.” Reven held up a hand. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to do it.”

“Then why did you take it?” I asked.

Reven crossed his arms. “Because if I didn’t, someone else would.”

“But what will happen if you don’t do it?”

“They’ll probably send someone to kill me too. Either way, I’ll never be able to find work with the Assassin’s Guild again.” He gave a casual shrug. “I was ready to get out of the business anyway.”

“Thank you,” Auric said. “I appreciate you doing this for us.”

Reven’s face darkened. “The Dragons destroyed my family. They murdered Kira’s family too. I can’t let them do this anymore. Not to you. Not to anyone.”

I jumped up and threw my arms around Reven. “I knew you were one of us.”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Reven muttered, though he reluctantly draped his arms around me.

“We need to speak with my parents immediately,” Auric said.

I nodded, but then I had an idea. It was risky, but if the current Dragons wanted Auric’s parents dead, perhaps they could be allies to us. Besides, I was tired of all the secrets and lies. “I think it’s time we told them the truth about why you left.”


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