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Her Elemental Dragons: Shake the Earth: Chapter 13

SLADE

An hour after we’d retreated to our guest rooms, a knock sounded on my door. I’d been preparing for bed and wore only my trousers, but I assumed it was Kira knocking and went to let her in. Instead I found Faya at my door.

She wore a thin gray dress that hugged her curves, her sword was gone, and her face was as lovely as I remembered, though her thick hair had been cut short and she looked like a mature woman now, instead of the fresh-faced girl I’d known. We’d both gained several years since we’d last seen each other.

My jaw clenched and I checked the hallway behind her to make sure we were alone. “You have some nerve coming here at this hour. And alone, too.”

“I simply came to talk, nothing more,” Faya said.

“We have nothing to talk about.”

“Maybe you don’t, but I do.” She stepped forward, her voice low but genuine. “Slade, I’m sorry for what I did all those years ago. I know I hurt you terribly, and that was never my intention. I made so many mistakes back then.”

I’d waited years to hear this apology, but now it was a little too late. I crossed my arms and leaned against the doorway. “Yes, you did.”

“I understand if you can never forgive me, but I wanted to apologize anyway since we’ll be working together. Parin said it was foolish, but I had to try to make this situation less awkward. There are bigger things at stake here than our feelings.”

“That’s the only reason I’m here,” I said, my voice gruff. Everything about this encounter made me uncomfortable, but for Kira’s sake I should try to get along with Faya and Parin. I forced myself to uncross my arms and loosen my shoulders. “When did you and Parin wed?”

“Six years ago.”

“Are you happy?”

“I am. This is my place—at Parin’s side.” She gave me a slight smile. “And you? I can’t imagine you were pleased about being chosen as one of Kira’s mates.”

“I wasn’t at first, but I’ve come to accept my destiny.”

Her smile widened as amusement danced in her eyes. “I always knew you were destined for greatness.”

I snorted. “I never wanted greatness. I wanted a home, a family, and a warm meal on the table. Nothing more.”

“So you say, but it was obvious to me that neither of us was meant for a quiet life in Clayridge. We weren’t meant for each other either.“ She paused as she studied my face. “Are you fond of her, at least?

“I am.”

“Good. I hope one day you get your home and family with her, even if you’ll never have a simple life.” She reached up and touched my cheek, her fingers soft. “I want you to be happy too, Slade. Even if it’s not with me.”

A sense of peace settled over me. I touched her hand gently as it pressed against my cheek. “Thank you. And I’m sorry for everything I did too. I wasn’t the perfect fiancé either.”

A soft noise in the hallway caught my attention. I pulled away from Faya and peered around her to see if someone was there, but didn’t spot anyone lurking about. I shook my head and stepped back, meeting Faya’s eyes. “I appreciate your apology. Working together won’t be a problem.”

She inclined her head. “I’m glad to hear it. Have a good night, Slade.”

“And you, Faya.”

I shut the door and retreated back inside my room. It was small, little more than a bed with a table beside it, and the walls were rough, unfinished wood. The entire building housed traveling Resistance members when they stopped into Slateden, so it made sense there was nothing fancy about it, although the state of the wood did irritate me. Based on the construction of the building and most of the rest of the town, I guessed it had all been erected quickly and with the least amount of work or supplies.

Back when I’d helped the Resistance they’d had small camps that moved constantly to avoid detection, with other members hiding in different towns. I’d housed a few of them myself many times due to Faya’s involvement with them.

Looking back, I should have seen that Faya would leave me for this life, and knew I should have cut her loose long ago. She’d never wanted to stay in Clayridge and be the wife of a blacksmith—she’d always had a need to fight. She’d broken my heart, betrayed my trust, and made me question whether I could love again—but seeing her today only made me realize it had all been for the best. She’d been my first love and an important part of my past, but she wasn’t my future. Kira was—and I knew what I felt for her surpassed anything I’d once felt for Faya.


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