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

“I can run fast now, perhaps as fast as you. Shall we race?”

My mother looked surprised, then grinned at me. “Let’s go.”

We began whipping through the trees and I was amazed that I could almost match her speed.

“I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised,” she said. “Your father never did lose his speed… I still wonder what caused this change in you though.” She cast a sideways glance at me.

I shrugged. “It just happened soon after I saw Dad spouting fire.”

“You’d never seen him do that before, had you? Perhaps it sparked something in your subconscious.”

“Maybe… It’s just strange.”

We had already reached the Vale after barely a few minutes of conversation, so our voices trailed off as we prepared ourselves for what we were about to do. We reached the town square and stopped outside the bell tower. I looked at my mother, who was motioning to begin climbing it. I caught her arm and held her back.

“Mom, I should do this. I’m responsible for… this situation.”

I didn’t give my mother a chance to argue as I began climbing up the ladder. I reached the bell at the top, grabbed the rope and began swinging it wildly. My eardrums ached, as they always did when ringing this giant bell. But I didn’t stop ringing until the square was filled with people. Some of them had clearly just climbed out of bed after a night of partying down on the beach.

I cast a brief glance down at my mother before clearing my throat. “Firstly,” I began to yell down, “all of you who are not single ladies can go back to bed. I need as many single girls as possible gathered here in this square. If there’s anyone you don’t see here, please go and fetch them now.”

I was met with a sea of confused faces, but I was relieved when they did as I’d requested. About half an hour later, the square was filled with I guessed just shy of a hundred and fifty women—a small fraction of those we had on the island, but they were enough for now. There were only a hundred dragons, after all.

Some of my classmates down below smirked and waved at me. I smiled and waved down at them as I caught their eyes.

“So, ladies,” I continued. “You are all single and looking?”

A couple of women shook their heads and shouted, “Not looking,” but most were nodding.

To those who did shake their heads, I said, “Those who aren’t interested in dating, please leave the square. This doesn’t concern you.”

The few who had shaken their heads left the square.

“Right,” I muttered. Since most of the humans had not even witnessed the dragons firsthand—they had been inside the mountains throughout the battle and the dragons had all left soon after the battle had ended—I proceeded to explain the arrival of the dragons, my managing to win them over, and their reason for staying on the island.

Once I finished my story, I was met with stunned silence. My stomach dropped, and for one horrifying moment, I thought that nobody was going to step forward and volunteer.

Debbie, one of my classmates, broke the silence. “So you’re pimping us out?”

“No!” my mother and I yelled at once, horrified at the thought. “If any of you don’t find this appealing, you don’t have to come. This is only for those who are interested in trying something… new.”

To my relief, Debbie broke out laughing. “I was just pulling your leg, Rose.”

I smiled back weakly. “So? Who wants to attend the ball at noon?”

A chorus of “Yes!” pierced through the morning air as every single woman standing in the square raised their hands. They hadn’t even seen the shifters yet, but I supposed I must have done a good job at describing them…

“Okay,” I said, after the screams had died down. “Then you should all aim to meet me in the clearing outside the Black Heights at eleven-thirty this morning. The ball starts at twelve, but I’d like you to arrive a bit early.”

“Okay!”

I chuckled to myself as everyone dispersed. I climbed back down the ladder.

“Well handled,” my mother said. “Now, I suggest that we go to the venue and see what the witches have done with it.”

My jaw tensed. Although the girls’ reaction had been a major weight off my shoulders, the main obstacle was still to come. We still had to pull off this ball and make sure it all went smoothly. Managing a hall filled with fiery dragons and vulnerable humans was a daunting prospect.

My mother rubbed my back. “Just a few more hours and this will be over.”

Chapter 12: Rose

I was relieved that all the girls arrived on time. Well on time. Two dozen arrived an hour early. My mother and I caught some wandering around the tunnels in search of the hall. We ushered them inside and asked them to wait in the corner until it was time.

The witches had outdone themselves again designing this place. The sacks of grain had been moved elsewhere and the rough floors had been smoothed into the same black marble that the dragons seemed to like. Several crystal chandeliers hung from the cavernous ceiling. A long table of food was already set out along one wall and we’d arranged cushioned seats all around the circumference of the hall. As an added touch, the witches had created a little veranda halfway up the wall and attached a winding set of stairs to it. This was to be the music balcony. The witches had placed a piano there and an assortment of other instruments I knew how to play. I’d also requested that two witches, Shayla and Leyni, stay with me and help keep the music going when I needed to take a break.