Draekon Destiny:Exiled to the Prison Planet(8)

By: Lili Zander & Lee Savino


Xanthox smiles at me. “Dariux is going to make some kind of formal announcement,” he says. “He likes to hear the sound of his own voice. But after that, do you want to go for a walk? Things are going to feel strange for a few weeks, I know, but Luddux and I will do everything in our power to ease this transition, Felicity Rollins.”

He’s not lying. His voice is sincere, and I see nothing but kindness in his eyes.

I take a deep breath, and some of the tension in my body eases. Strangely, I’m not afraid of these two men.

I haven’t let myself get emotionally involved with anyone for a very long time, but I’m not on Earth anymore. I’m not the poor cousin anymore, the woman in hand-me-down clothes who smells like grease and fish guts and spends more than ten hours a day working in her family restaurant.

I smile warmly at Luddux and Xanthox. “I’d really like that.”





PRESENT…


We fly for hours. It’s almost dusk by the time we arrive at the clearing.

I’m finally home.

Bolox and Narix come out to greet us, but Dariux, unfortunately, is nowhere to be seen. “He took his skimmer and went west,” Bolox tells Xan. “He said he’d be back tomorrow afternoon.”

Lud heaves a sigh of frustration, but Xan takes the news in his stride. “Vulrux is skilled. He’ll stabilize the soldier. Don’t worry. We still have time.”

“What soldier?” Narix interjects.

They fill him in. I’m lost in my own thoughts. More tears well up in my eyes as I gaze on the treehouse that Xan and Lud built for me in better days. We’d been happy here once. Can we recapture that lost feeling, or is it too late?

Lud and Xan have finished talking to the other two Draekons. “Come on,” Lud says, lifting my suitcase. “Let’s go up before the detsena appear.”

We make our way to our home in silence. When we’re standing in front of it, Lud takes a deep breath. “Things haven’t been right between us for a while,” he says flatly. “I’ll understand if you want us to sleep somewhere else tonight. Both Xanthox and I still have our original homes.”

I stare at him, my heart in my mouth. Is it over then? Is this his way of saying it?

“But,” he continues. “If we’re going to stay with you, Felicity, then things are going to have to be different. You’ve been shutting us out. Something’s wrong, and you won’t tell us what. I’ve apologized over and over for snapping at you that day. If you can’t bring yourself to forgive me, just say so.”

Even now, he’s not telling me the truth. Even now, he’s pretending that our estrangement is about the argument we had in the aftermath of Belfox and Herrix’s departure.

Xan pulls something from his pack. “I have a present for you,” he says. He holds his palm out to me. There’s a jeweled bracelet. The stone looks like a diamond, except that it’s pinkish in color, and the chain is gold.

He thinks what I want is a diamond bracelet?

Yes, getting gifts was nice when he was wooing me, but now, it just feels like he's trying to buy my love. It makes me feel cheap and worthless.

You have got to be shitting me.





5





Xanthox





PAST…


It’s my mother’s birthday, and I want to get her something special, something that’ll make her smile. I wake up at the crack of dawn, and I’m frowning in thought when Rissa, the servant that cleans my room, bustles in. When she sees me, she bows low and starts to retreat.

Rissa is from Maarish. She isn’t Lowborn, and therefore she may enter my presence, but she is still inferior to the Highborn of the Zorahn Empire.

At eight, and far away from the homeworld of Zoraht, I’m too young to understand the rigid societal rules that underpin our society. “Rissa, can you help me?”

Her worn face creases into a kind smile. “Of course, my Lord,” she replies. “What may I do for you?”

“I want to get my mother a present. I was playing with Bessir yesterday, and he said that there was a meadow in the vanderfields, where yellow flowers grow. Can you take me there?”

Her lips tighten, and too late, I realize I shouldn’t have admitted to playing with her son. Poor Bessir. He’s going to be in trouble tonight. I’ll have to sneak out into the servants’ section of the palace to warn him.

Rissa hesitates, but the woman has a kind heart. “If you’d like, my Lord Xanthox,” she replies. “Won’t your tutor miss you?”

“He’s sick today.” Thank Caeron. Apothix takes my education very seriously and would have never allowed me a day off to search for flowers for my mother.

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