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A Fall of Secrets(A Shade of Vampire,Book 15)(10) by Bella Forrest

When Abby caught my eye, I looked away again. Not wanting to make her feel uncomfortable, I turned my attention back to Caleb.

“How did you learn to play music?” I asked.

“Mostly, I just taught myself.”

“Seriously?”

“I’m not sure why you’re surprised. I’ve had a lot of downtime over the years.”

“Did you ever go to school when you were younger?”

“Yes. The local town school, until the age of about thirteen. Then I joined my father’s ship business as an apprentice architect and engineer… His dream had always been for me to take over running the family business.”

He placed my feet back on the ground. I slipped my hand in his. Rather than returning to the piano again to relieve Ashley and Landis, I let Caleb lead me away from the dance floor, away from the lights and noise. We walked in silence and stopped again once we were far away enough for me to barely hear the music. I knelt down on the sand, pulling Caleb down with me. We lay on our backs, gazing up at the dark sky.

After a pause, I turned my head toward Caleb. “Does this island feel any more like home to you now than when you first arrived?”

To my delight, he nodded. “It does… After the battle we just fought side by side, it would be hard not to feel camaraderie for the people of this island.”

I reached out and brushed my fingers against his cheek before leaning forward to kiss his lips.

“You are part of this island,” I said. “Part of this family. This place wouldn’t feel complete without you now.”

I held his hand and rested it over my navel before looking back up at the sky. I let out a sigh. I couldn’t deny that this wedding had made me imagine what it would be like to one day wed Caleb. I could almost imagine him standing there at the head of the aisle, watching me as I walked toward him, my arm looped through my father’s. It made me shiver.

I was about to lean forward and kiss him again when a wave of shouts broke through our peace. We sat up and looked back toward the crowd. The music had stopped, as had the dancing. Everyone was looking out toward the sea. I followed their gaze and gasped as I finally saw what they saw.

A horde of one hundred dragons, racing toward us in the distance. Although I knew they came in peace now, the sight of them still sent chills down my spine.

The dragons and their prince had returned.

Just in time to crash the party.

Chapter 8: Rose

The dragons were headed straight for the Port. Caleb and I lost no time in jumping to our feet and rushing towards the jetty to greet them. Others were less enthusiastic. They remained where they were on the beach, watching as the dragons drew closer and closer. My parents broke free from the crowd to join us.

The four of us stood at the edge of the jetty. My mother’s grip tightened around my father’s forearm. The dragons had crossed the boundary now—I could only assume that Mona had cast a spell upon Jeriad and his companions before they left, allowing them free entrance—and they were so close that I could begin to make out their features. I spotted the silver-orange scales of Jeriad, and the grey-blue body of Ridan. I also spotted several others who had accompanied them during the first visit. But right in the center of the crowd was a dragon larger than any I had seen before. He had piercing amber eyes, and his shimmering scales were pitch black laced with gold. I had thought that Jeriad was intimidating, but this magnificent creature made him pale in comparison. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the prince.

The horde soared over our heads and began to touch down in the clearing behind the port. Their landing was so deft and skillful, the ground barely shook. A strong wind built up around the area as their massive wings beat all around us.

The clearing was in no way large enough to hold all of the dragons, so as their feet hit the ground, they changed into their humanoid forms, making space for the others to land. Caleb, my parents and I walked slowly toward the clearing, and waited at the border until each of them had transformed. My eyes roamed the crowd of virile men in search of the prince. It didn’t take me long to find him.

He was the most imposing and striking among them. With locks of thick dark hair that touched his sculpted shoulders, he retained his bright amber eyes. He wore a silken black cloth draped over his deep tan chest and his teeth were pearly white as he exchanged a word with Neros. Complete with a chiseled jawline, he looked like some kind of Grecian god.

My father looked down at me. “I suggest just the two of us approach first.”

He held out a hand. I let go of Caleb and took it. We left him and my mother behind as my father and I began walking toward the dragons.

The prince stepped forward with Jeriad. As we approached within a few feet of them, my father and I stopped. Now that we were closer, I could see that the prince was almost exactly my father’s height. The prince’s eyes left my face and fixed on my father.

“Welcome,” my father said, gripping his hand in a firm shake.

The prince nodded slowly.

“How do you like to be addressed?” my father asked.

“You can call me Theon,” the prince replied, his voice deep and rumbling.

“This is Derek Novak,” Jeriad said, “fire-wielder and king of this island.” He gestured toward me. “And this is his daughter, Rose Novak, the maiden we had come to retrieve.”

I couldn’t hold the prince’s gaze as he looked directly at me. I stared down at the ground. My father’s grip around my hand tightened.