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Her Elemental Dragons: Kiss the Sky: Chapter 24

KIRA

I stepped into the ballroom and was immediately enchanted by the sights and sounds inside. Spinning gold and silver decorations hung from the ceiling and caught the candlelight from around the room, making the room seem magical. A group of musicians played in a corner, while guests in exquisite clothes danced across the floor. An entire wall had been reserved for food and drinks, the likes of which I’d never seen before. I headed there first to sample the tiny dishes laid out, although the massive dessert table was hard to ignore. I’d never seen such extravagance before in my life, and while I’d expected to hate the ball, I wasn’t going to complain. Especially as I popped a meat pastry puff in my mouth and nearly died at the flavors exploding across my tongue. I followed it with some sort of brie and raspberry tart, which was equally amazing.

‘Enjoying yourself?’ Reven asked from the shadows, as I filled my plate with every single dish on the table. He wore all black, as usual, but tonight his clothes were finer than normal and he’d ditched the hooded cloak.

‘Yes. Have you tried these?’ I asked, before biting into a tiny sausage wrapped in more pastry.

He eyed my full plate. ‘I had one or two.”

‘Don’t judge me. After being on the road for so long it’s a nice change to eat like this, and it’s not like I had the best meals before I met you either.’ Food in some parts of the world was hard to come by, especially when the Dragons demanded so much from their people. Back in Stoneham I’d usually eaten a little of whatever I’d caught in the forest after Tash had fixed it up for me. I’d certainly never had anything like the food in the Air Realm before.

Reven took a sip of his red wine. ‘Don’t get too comfortable. We’re leaving in the morning.’

‘I won’t, but even you can admit it’s nice to be able to relax and enjoy ourselves for one night at least.’

He lifted a shoulder in a casual shrug. “I suppose.”

Jasin strolled over with a grin, wearing a fine navy blue coat that accentuated his broad shoulders and muscular frame. He offered his hand and asked, ‘Care to dance?’

‘I’d like to, but I don’t know any of the fancy dances these nobles are doing,” I said.

‘Me neither.’ He winked at me as he took my arm in his. ‘But we’ll manage.’

I shoved my plate at Reven, who grumbled as Jasin swept me onto the dance floor and into the crowd. The crystal-covered gown I’d bought with Brin shimmered around me, and many people stopped to look at the way it caught the light. Or maybe they were looking at me because they’d heard rumors the prince had broken his engagement because of me.

As Jasin took me in his arms, he said, ‘You look lovely.’

‘Thank you.’ I smiled up at him, admiring how the red highlights in his auburn haired seemed to dance under the torchlight. ‘You cleaned up nicely yourself.’

He swept me across the floor and we managed to move together in time to the music. ‘It’s strange to not wear my uniform at things like this, but I suppose that part of my life is over.’

‘Do you miss being in the army?’

‘Not at all.” He brushed his lips across my cheek. “I’m exactly where I’m meant to be.’

‘You seem so certain.’ I longed for that certainty. Lately all I had were doubts, it seemed. Take earlier, for example. Slade had finally let me get close to him, but after I’d kissed him, he’d ran away. Now I didn’t even see him in the ballroom. Was he avoiding me again?

‘Meeting the Fire God will do that to a man, I guess.’ He touched my chin lightly. “Don’t forget, he gave you his blessing as well.”

“True. Sometimes I still can’t believe it happened.’

‘Believe it. And you have three more Gods to meet soon.’

I nodded. Maybe once we reached the Air Temple I’d find some more clarity. There was still so much I didn’t know, like who my true parents were and why I was the Black Dragon. I prayed the Air God would tell me something useful.

When the song ended, Auric appeared at my side wearing white and gold, with his blond hair slicked back and his gray eyes shining bright. ‘May I steal her away?’

‘I suppose it’s your party,” Jasin said with a smile, as he stepped back.

Auric clasped my hand in his, then settled his other one on my waist. ‘I’ve never seen a woman more beautiful than you tonight.’

My face flushed and I looked down. ‘That’s very kind of you to say.”

‘It’s the truth. Every other woman in his is jealous. Look how they stare at you.’

‘Only because I’m dancing with you. Do you think they know…?’

‘Know what?’ he asked, as he led me across the dance floor with surer steps than Jasin. He was obviously quite experienced with this kind of dancing.

‘That you ended your betrothal because of me?’

‘Definitely. Gossip travels fast. But don’t worry, I care not what anyone thinks, and Brin is doing fine too.’ He nodded in the direction of the drink table. I followed his gaze to find Brin standing there with wine in hand, speaking to three women who hung onto her every word. ‘She’ll take at least one of them to her room tonight, I’m sure. Maybe all three.’

I arched an eyebrow. ‘I thought you were supposed to stay virgins until marriage, as was custom for nobility?’

‘She’s never been with a man before. I suppose she considers that good enough for tradition.’

‘Would her parents ever let her marry a woman?’

‘Perhaps, but they’d want her to marry a man too. They want an heir.’

I sighed. ‘I like Brin. I didn’t want to, but I do.’

He grinned as he spun me around. ‘She has a way of sneaking up on you like that. At first you think she’s another spoiled noblewoman, but then you discover she’s so much more. And you haven’t even seen her fight yet.’

‘She can fight?’

‘All nobles can, to some degree. We’re taught to defend ourselves from a young age. But I daresay she might be even better than me.’

‘It’s kind of her to help us prepare for the journey to the Air Temple.’

Auric nodded, but whatever he might have said next was cut off when a hush went over the crowd. People around us stopped dancing and turned toward the front of the room, then unexpectedly dropped into low bows. Auric’s grip on my arm tightened.

As the wave of bowing reached us, I was able to see over the crowd at last. Two men gazed across the room with haughty, cruel expressions. One of them was Isen, the Golden Dragon, wearing black and gold silk. He had some nerve showing up here after he’d just ordered an assassination on the King.

But then I noticed the other man standing beside him. Tall, broad shouldered, with short blond hair so pale it was nearly white, he was the man who’d haunted my nightmares for years. The last few times I’d seen him were in his dragon form and from a distance, but now he was only a few feet away as a man. A mix of terror and rage battled for dominance inside me. I knew I’d have to face him at some point, but I hadn’t expected it to be anytime soon. But here he was, towering over this ball as though he ruled here instead of the King.

Sark, the Dragon who had killed my parents.


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