SECRET CONTENT: #5
The Dragon Born Academy
*spoilers for Over Easy
This was the original beginning of Hard Boiled - from Syd's POV. However, my heart just hurt too much for her, and I didn't want this book to begin with her pain. I felt like it was better to show Sydney angry instead.
Deleted excerpt from Hard Boiled
Copyright T.L. Christianson 2021
I sat in shock on my bed, squeezing my stuffed lamb to my chest, my breaths heaving out of me as if I’d just run a marathon. Staring past the pale loveseats, the gas fireplace, and plush area rugs, my eyes settled on the ocean beyond the city.
Disbelieve ran through my mind as I struggled to understand what had just happened.
But I knew what happened.
He left me.
The one person that I could trust with all certainty had just abandoned me.
There was no time for sad, ugly crying—no time for feeling sorry for myself.
Not when anger seethed inside me.
That warm, burning desire had started to boil into a rage inside me.
I refused to cry over people who didn’t love me back—people who were there when it was convenient and yet walked away when not.
But as determined I was to be angry, I felt Ashe’s intentions. Every word oozed sincerity, making the entire speech that much more painful.
That much harder to be angry, but I held on to that anger because if I gave in… if I cried, and let myself feel, then it would be real, and he would be gone.
Had it only been yesterday, we’d been hunted and shot at by other Dragonborn? It felt like a million years ago. The people trying to kidnap me were organized and armed. The only reason we escaped relatively unharmed was because of Ashe and his training in the Dragonborn Militia. He’d protected me, and I used my new dragon powers to heal him. We’d talked and shared our fears and emotions, and he’d held me and looked at me as if he would never leave me…
Then he did.
He left me here in this room, in this house where I felt like an imposter. I didn’t belong here with housekeepers and the babushkas who pinched my cheeks, or even Katie, my bio-dad’s girlfriend, who was determined to give me an eating disorder.
This modern mansion was a testament to the power my biological father, Evgeni Garin, held within the Dragonborn society as well as the mundane world. He could manipulate, control and subdue almost everyone around him.
But no amount of luxury or power could take away the pain from what Ashe had just done.
Numbness and icy cold burned within my soul.
I could never forgive Ashe.
No, and I wouldn’t break either. I’d become stronger for what I’d been through and stop trusting so easily. Stop giving so freely.
A knock sounded at my door, and I wiped at my face with the duvet from the bed.
“Who is it?” I called out firmly, my voice steady even though my heart ached.
Katie appeared next to the bed, clad only in a thin thigh-length silk robe. Dabs of white to her face - probably to prevent a blemish in her perfect skin, and her hair was twisted into a messy knot on top of her head.
“Hey, are you okay?” she whispered, licking her lips nervously. Her face looked shiny and pale with the lack of makeup.
I squeezed my eyes shut and swallowed at the lump in my throat. “No, but I will be. Did everyone hear what… what Ashe… said?” I blinked, struggling to get the words out.
“No. Evgeni’s gone—breakfast meeting, and the Babushkas are in the kitchen. So, just me and the boys.” By the boys, she meant the goons, Ponytail, and Baldy.
Biting her bottom lip, she sat on the edge of my bed and hesitantly patted my knee. “Want to get your hair done? Or waxed? I have people who come to the house. They’re vetted and everything.”
Cold chills still ran the length of my body. Cold, horrible chills that soured my stomach and made me want to disappear. But no amount of pampering could dull that ache.
I needed something else—a mission.
Evgeni told me that he had my mother’s belongings, and when I thought she’d abandoned me, I had no interest, but now, when there could be the possibility that she was alive, I wasn’t going to waste any time. But, I needed a plan, and I needed Katie to want to help me. She might not be the ideal step… what was she as my dad’s girlfriend? Step-girlfriend? She wasn’t the perfect companion in my fortress of solitude, but she was kind and meant well.
Reaching out, I squeezed her small pink manicured hand. “I’m not up to getting waxed, but I’d like to get my hair done,” I told her, giving her a consolatory smile.
She beamed back at me. “How about I give you a makeover?”
I stared at the duvet, twisting part of the raised embroidery between my fingers before looking back up at her. “Okay, but…”
“What is it, honey?” She asked.
I pressed my lips together and hoped that a bit of honesty would go a long way with her. “I never knew my mom…”
She shook her head and interrupted, “I’m not trying to take anyone’s place.”
“I know. But Evgeni told me that he has some of her things. Do you know if they’re here or where they are? I thought that it might help to get out of my head.”
Her brows tried to come together, but I knew the Botox must’ve been preventing it. “Oh? I have no idea about anything that belonged to your mother.”
I frowned and concentrated on the embroidery between my fingers as that horrid buzzing of emotions filled my brain.
“But it’s okay. I’ll text him about it, and we’ll get it all figured out.” She smiled and pushed at the bedding before standing and pulling on my hands. “Why don’t you get dressed, okay? And I will too. Then meet me in the spa downstairs.”
I couldn’t stay still. I couldn’t focus on hairstyles or spa things or makeovers! If I did, I’d just freeze up and wither away into nothing. My brain would stop working, and I felt as if I’d simply stop living.
Instead, I had to focus on my mother, Celine.
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The Dragon Born Academy