“You’re welcome.”


I put the tape in and got comfortable on the couch again, staring avidly at the screen, on which the video started up instantly. It was really hard to tell who was who with the hoods up on their ceremonial robes, except for me since I was so short — an obvious difference in height — but Antonio’s voice started a quiet commentary. The location was King Hall’s gymnasium, and apparently it was King Zeller — Ezra, as Antonio continued to call him — who was taking the lead in the first Awakening.

King Zeller muttered a curse, watching himself on the flat screen fumble through his first attempt, but every single person — except Antonio — jolted when I started to fall, my hood falling back to blatantly show it was me, my eyes closed, out cold. I stared wide-eyed at the screen as Ezra blurred, catching me before I hit the ground, his own hood falling back as he shouted my name and shook my face frantically with his free hand. And suddenly all hell broke loose inside the gymnasium as the two others — Jack and Pearl, Antonio had stated in his commentary — threw back their hoods as Ezra lifted me into his arms.

“Holy f**k,” Elder Merrick muttered, sounding awed as Pearl, the blonde, threw one of the Kings into the air inside a golden bubble, while Jack, the blue-haired Elemental, threw up a wall of water around two of the other Kings — one being my biological father. Ezra’s eyes started glowing fiercely as he floated backward, his Vampire taking over when King Kincaid jumped at him, trying to get me away from the King. Hand over my mouth, I shook my head, watching as King Kincaid shifted.

“You didn’t tell me this happened,” Elder Zeller practically shouted at Antonio, pointing at the screen. “Did my son get hurt?”

Isa stirred at his voice and all the noise on the screen, but King Zeller rubbed her back, his eyes evaluating everything on the screen, so I ignored Antonio ignoring Elder Zeller, and turned my attention back to the screen. And it appeared that just as King Kincaid was about to attack Ezra — and I honestly wasn’t sure who would have won, by the expression on Ezra’s fiercely beautiful face — I stirred in Ezra’s arms.

Everyone stared avidly at the screen as my onscreen self woke and lifted a hand to pull on the infuriated Vampire’s ear.

I blinked, hand still over my mouth, not really believing what I was seeing. I watched King Zeller’s onscreen self pull my head away from his chest, not ripping me to shreds like another Vampire might have done in that state of mind as he stared down at me, while I woke completely, apparently coming out of the dead faint I had been in. We all watched as Pearl and Jack stopped their offensive attack on the Kings, the blonde in a real tizzy as she marched over to me in tears, hugging me hard.

I pointed a finger, seeing true emotion, true love, on her face for me. “Who is Pearl?”

The Elders went mute again, and my eyes popped wide. “No, no.” I shook my head, eyes darting back and forth between the screen and them. “I’m not into girls. So there’s no way I did something sexual with her.” I jabbed my finger at the screen. “And the Elemental? Who are they, Jack and Pearl?”

Everyone went silent as the onscreen King Zeller started shouting at me, pissed off about me not eating or something like that. I blinked when he suddenly left the screen, leaving my onscreen self standing there with a huge wolf rubbing all over me, King Kincaid marking me. My eyes went back to the Elders, ordering them, “Tell me who they are!”

Again, not a word or expression was given, and I peered at King Zeller, bewildered. “Did we have a damn orgy or something?”

He held up a finger, still staring at the screen. “I wouldn’t put it past myself since that wouldn’t exactly be a new experience for me.” His eyes flicking to mine, he shrugged at my expression before returning his gaze to the screen. “But I somehow doubt you would be involved in an orgy if that picture made you uncomfortable.” His head cocked, he continued like admitting he had sex with multiple people at once was no big deal. “Traditionally, the Prodigies are supposed to meet at King Hall to study together for a year.” His finger flicked at the screen. “I’m betting the Mage is Queen Cooper and the Elemental is King Collins since that’s who they should have paired us with.”

My gaze went back to the screen. “Now, why in hell would they take those memories from us?” I shook my head at the screen, but I watched how Pearl and Jack interacted. And it dawned on me. “Oh, well…” I chuckled quietly, shaking my head. “I’m betting we weren’t the only two to break that Law.” I flicked a finger at the screen, pointing at them. “They love each other, and they’re not hiding it well with how freaked out they are right there,” my head teetered back and forth in thought, evaluating them a bit more, “even if they weren’t exactly doing the deed at that point.”

King Zeller hummed, watching what I was, but abruptly cut off the noise as his onscreen persona appeared again, only to be bashed by King Venclaire, just in time too, because King Kincaid’s wolf almost bit a chunk out of him.

Elder Merrick whistled quietly, but King Zeller raised an absent hand, muttering, “Like I said before, shut it.”

“Aw,” Elder Merrick murmured. “You brought her a sandwich and almost died for it.”

I wasn’t really sure what Elder Zeller did, but Elder Merrick ended up on the floor groaning and growling a bit as we watched my onscreen self eat the kindly offered sandwich, and so help me if my face on screen didn’t color up a bit from the substance. I heard King Zeller grunt quietly next to me, apparently seeing what I had. I glanced at him, scowling when his green gaze met mine, appearing smug. Luckily, no one had caught on to the bitty fact that the other three Prodigies had acted defensively when I had gone down…as if they had been prepared for it. Like they had known there may be an issue, quite possibly because they knew I was a hybrid. When King Zeller’s eyes went back to the screen, my gaze caught Antonio’s and, like normal, his expression blanked, showing me nothing.

I blinked when I caught King Zeller, sneaky f**ker, staring at me again. Watching me. Well…okay…shit, not good. Maybe not all of them had missed that fact, particularly the one I didn’t want to know. I held his gaze levelly, then I turned my attention back to the screen, acting utterly normal because even if the me before the mind rape might have trusted him with the information about my hybrid state, the me in the here and now sure as hell didn’t trust him with the information.

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