Chapter 30Bitter Words***ElenaI felt Dracul tense up beneath me, but I didn't want to pull away. Not yet. He was alive.I had never been so worried about someone in my life. I had never been so desperate to see them wake up. I had never been so tense,so concerned, felt my heart catch in my chest every time his breathing slowed.I hadn't moved all day, watching over him. Gulliver hadn't seemed confident about his survival, and I couldn't handle the thought of missing a moment if he woke up.But now he was here. He had woken up, and held me close. He didn't seem angry at me, just scared for my safety. But then, he had risked everything to save me.He had risked everything to keep me safe, to protect me, to make sure that I was well. He had fought five guys and survived. He had fought five guys and succeeded in beating them all.He was strong, he was fierce, he was amazing.And he was here. He was alive. I never wanted to pull away.Dracul shifted, and reluctantly, I shifted with him
Chapter 29Unexpected Saviour***ElenaMy breathing came in quick gasps as I tried my best not to cry. Nothing was going right, everything was wrong.I didn't know how I was supposed to save Dracul. I had gotten him into this mess, and I had no idea how I was supposed to get him out.The chill in the air was getting worse now, and I shivered without my coat. Dracul's skin was starting to cool too, and I felt the pressure of my responsibility land squarely on my shoulders.I needed to get us out. There was no one else, but I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I looked around, but only the fallen dragons lay around us. They didn't seem to be dead, just knocked out, and I knew that I needed to move before they work up. Dracul was out of it right now and he was in no condition to fight.And there was no way I could fight off five dragons. Dracul had been able to do it, but even he had gotten hurt.There was no way I had any chance of surviving something like that. No way. I bit my l
Chapter 28Empty Spaces*Dracul pov.I felt like I was floating, everything around me was sinking and flowing until I had no concept of time. Nothing had meaning and for the first time in years, I felt weightless.I sighed, feeling the rise and fall of my chest. It didn't hurt. Nothing hurt, nothing ached, and there was no fear holding me back.There was no fear, no ache in my chest that told me that I had all of this responsibility. There was nothing that I had to worry about or keep in mind.The weight of hundreds of years of leadership fell away until there was nothing left. I had forgotten what this felt like. I had forgotten the taste of freedom, the touch of peace.I had forgotten what it felt like to be myself, unencumbered by the layers of leadership and stress that had enrobed me for so long.First, it had been protecting my people from humans, humans who thought that they should fear and destroy us. That had been a long and bloody battle, and it had exhausted all of us.The
Chapter 27Darkest Night***ElenaEverything was happening so quickly. One moment, I was sure that I was going to die, the next, Dracul was charging in and ready to fight for me.The man who had me in his grasp had let go of me already, letting me fall to the floor.I could have run. I could have fled, but where would I have gone? I had already gotten lost and into this mess, so where could I possibly go that would keep me safe?I felt sick, nausea rolling in waves in my stomach until I was dizzy with the sensations. I hated this.I hated this. I hated this place, this dead, horrible land, and the terrible people who lived here.And then there was Dracul. Dracul who had found me and saved me, Dracul who was taking on five men to defend me.Dracul had told me to stay here, to not run away.So, I hid instead. I moved behind the closest tree and shielded myself from the fight.And what a fight it was. In the dark, it was hard to see exactly what was happening, exactly what was going on.
Chapter 26Battleground**DraculI felt my heart pounding in my chest, thundering against my ribcage. My breath came in quick gasps as I ran.Something was off, something was very, very off. I knew it from the moment I opened the bedroom door and found Elena gone.She was out there, somewhere in the wildlands of my kingdom. She was out there in a place where dragons roamed freely and did not suffer fools, or humans very well.As far as many of my kind were concerned, humans were food and nothing more. And if one stumbled upon their path, they would not care if she was royalty. In fact, no one knew that she was under my protection.Without my protection, she was vulnerable.She was prey.I felt a shudder move down my spine and I picked up the pace.I couldn't remember the last time that I had run wild through the trees of these forests. I had been ruler for so long that the simplicities of the hunt had long eluded me.I had been ruler for so long that it was easy to lose sight of what
Chapter 25Midnight Run**ElenaMy heart caught in my chest and I froze. I could sense someone behind me, feel the sounds of their footsteps on the floor of the forest.I didn't know who it was, but the presence didn't feel familiar. It didn't feel welcoming. It felt as alien and harsh as the terrible hole in front of me.I took a deep breath and didn't turn around. My heart was thundering, and it was all I could hear, but I held my breath and took a step. I heard a sound behind me.Someone exhaled.And I ran.I didn't wait for anyone to make their move first.I just ran.I ran like my life depended on it. I ran like someone was chasing me through the forest, because I didn't know if they were going to follow me or not.I was living in a kingdom full of dragons. It had been stupid to run, to leave the protection that Dracul offered.He might be complex. My feelings for him might have been a mess, but I knew that I had protection from him. And even he had been hiding me from his peopl
Chapter 24(Forest Truths)**Elena pov.The air was cold against my skin and I pulled my coat closer around myself, trying to shield myself from the cold.It was icy, the wind that cut through the trees, and made its way down to the very core of my being. I wondered, for a fleeting moment, I should have simply stayed inside.Maybe, if I had stayed put, I wouldn't be freezing right now. I wasn't thinking straight when I ran out of the room, but my head was a mess. Then again, it was still all twisted up now, the anxiety within me making itself known. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. The warmth that I was used to was nothing more than a distant memory now. I didn't know what I was doing out here.There was nowhere for me to go. Nowhere for me to hide. I couldn't run and I didn't even know if I truly wanted to run. All I knew was that there was a knot in my chest.All I knew was that there was an ache inside of me, an insistence that I do something, anything at all before I w
Chapter 23Kings Burden.Dracul pov.My heart was pounding as I stepped out of the room. My hand shook as I sank against the outside wall.I buried my head in my hands and took a few deep breaths, trying to steady my racing heart.My emotions lay in tatters. I had barely been able to get out of the room without letting my emotions show. It had been hard. It had been hard. It had been a close one and I didn't know how I had managed it.What have I done?My hands shook and I couldn't get them to stop shaking. I needed to talk to Gulliver. I needed to talk to him and ask him if there was an alternative solution. I had to talk to him.What have I done?I pushed myself up, my legs threatening to give way from beneath me as I started walking towards his quarters.I was the king of these lands, but I felt completely out of control. I was admitting a fault, a flaw a mistake.What was I thinking when I did that?I'd made love to Elena. And it was the most beautiful and wonderful thing I had ev