Betrayal Foretold Excerpt 1
It’s cleansing, it’s rejuvenating, it’s fortifying—until it’s not. I had soul-searched and introspected until my deficiencies clung to me like a throng of specters.
While an official Radix committee and the Thayerian authorities conducted searches and quizzed my known associates…
While word spread like wildfire across campus that I possessed a dragon form…
While the people of Thayer learned dragons had not, in fact, been wiped out hundreds of years before…
While the world changed and the tide turned against me… I sat licking deep emotional wounds in the primitive cabin deserted just days before by the three Drakontos dragons—my relatives—Bay, Eiven, and Stryde.
My friends had proved faithful and generous in the days since I’d fled our magical grad school, Radix Citadel for Supernatural Learning, or The Root, as most commonly referred to it. But my friends couldn’t be expected to spend every waking moment at my cabin hideaway. Ewan, Boone and Timbra, and sometimes Layla visited when there was no risk of being followed, but it hadn’t been frequently enough to stave off my loneliness.
My arms hung at my sides as I stood in the center of the cabin too restless to sit, to read, to think. The absence of sound was so prevalent that every tiny thing seemed loud in contrast—the scratch of a branch against the roof, the drag-tick of an old clock, the whistle of wind through the dense forest.
“Hello,” a deep voice call outside. “Stell?”
Ewan. Thank god. I raced through the cabin door and found him standing just beyond the front porch. Ewan Bristol rarely deviated from wearing black, and when he did it wasn’t far. A dark blue V-neck lent contrast to his skin which tanned easily and well.
The sight of Ewan sent my insides into a spiral of nervous pleasure every time. I crashed into him, holding him close and drinking him in. Ewan always smelled of the forest--of juniper or fir, and I inhaled his scent while I had the opportunity; before he could leave again. I closed my eyes and absorbed the comfort of his arms, of his warm body.
It wasn’t just that I was so lonely I’d begun talking to the furniture. I missed the sexy squint his eyes took on, the uneven slide of his lips when he thought I was funny or clever. I missed the way his mouth went slack when my top slipped to reveal too much cleavage. I missed his level-headed advice and unyielding support. I missed the way people stopped and listened when he spoke. I missed Ewan.
“Hi,” I said and beamed up at him. His pleasure mirrored mine. It was there for me to see, completely unguarded in the depths of his dark eyes.
He kissed me high on the cheekbone before finding my mouth. Think me arrogant if you like, but I’ve always considered Ewan and I the best kissers to have ever laid lips on one another. My mouth fit perfectly into his, his full lips absorbing my smaller ones. With a groan, he pulled me so tightly into him I gasped for breath. He had missed me, too.
It was then I felt a buzz through the fabric of his shorts. At the same time, Pia chirped within the cabin.
“Stella, you have received a message from Dean Livia Miles,” my personal interactive device intoned. I shot a questioning look at Ewan, who shrugged and fumbled in his pocket for his own device.
When I didn’t answer right away Pia repeated, “Stella, you have received a message from Dean Livia Miles.”
I scoffed at the interruption, but hurried to see what Dean Miles could possibly be sending. The last I had heard, she was on a vicious rampage to condemn and disgrace me.
When I emerged from the cabin, Ewan’s posture was bunched, coiled. A toy soldier wound too tight.
My arms fell to my sides with Pia still clasped in one hand. “Ewan? Ewan, what’s wrong?”
When he looked up, his dark eyes were black holes within his blood-drained face.
Someone’s died was my first thought. What else could produce such a severe response?
“She…” Ewan cleared his throat. “She sent the entire school your journal entry.”
“What? Who did? What are you talking about? What journal entry?”
His face held such pity. “Dean Miles. She sent the entire campus a student journal entry you wrote detailing your dragon, your family—everything.” Ewan whispered the last, and slid onto a log near the fire.