SECRET CONTENT: #3
The Dragon Born Academy
*spoilers for Cracked Open.
This is part of the original scene between Ashe and Evgeni. This part ended up getting the axe just because it didn't lead into the conversation the two needed to have.
Deleted excerpt from Hard Boiled
Copyright T.L. Christianson 2021
“Ashe?” Evgeni called out.
Turning, I spotted a dark figure walking through the shadow of the gazebo. As he neared, I could make out concern etched across his features—even in the dark.
I looked away and swallowed another gulp of my cheap liquor.
If I allowed Evgeni to see what boiled inside me, then I’d break. The man was my mentor and I looked up to him. These emotions would be a sign of weakness that I wouldn't - couldn't show him.
After all, I was the virtual Prince of the Elibera, mentored by the best, trained to fight, and expected to become the next Prime Leader. A position I’d been groomed to do from birth. And once my bond was complete with Sydney – another Prime, then I’d be even closer… Which was another reason why I couldn’t rush her.
Evgeni didn’t laugh or smile as he usually did. Instead, he eyed the bottle I held loosely in my left hand. “Wow. Drinking? Things must be bad.”
Forcing a mask of calmness over my features, I met his eye and shrugged before
setting the bottle down carefully.
The boards creaked beneath his weight as he mounted the steps up to the gazebo. “You left my house without saying goodbye. Is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine,” I told him, tightening my mental shields.
Evgeni closed the space before reaching his hand out for the bottle. I gave it to him, and he checked the label before laughing. “Drinking this shit isn’t fine… You know I’ve been looking for you.”
Evgeni’s presence had my knee bouncing even through my weariness. I still felt… itchy, uncomfortable, frustrated.
“Is Sydney here?” I asked, my eyebrows up. She’d blocked our connection, leaving me with a strange sensation.
He smiled. “Why are you acting so weird? I’ve given you everything you ever wanted. I found a way for you to finish the bond. But, you’re not going to do it, are you?” His eyes strayed to Eondian as my dragon bellowed a ball of fire before sprawling out in the grass. “You know seven years is not that big of an age gap.”
I clenched my teeth. “It is for us.”
I’d wanted to complete the bond, and I almost did when I found her after she and Aaraeth crashed in the woods. I took off my jacket, undid my belt, and when I gazed into those big bluish-green eyes of her—I felt it—fear. She was afraid, afraid of me.
Clearing my throat, I let my top lip slide through my teeth. “I won’t rush this. I can’t.”
Vaughn punched my shoulder and groaned.
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