So we were left to our own devices in figuring out what exactly Theon had meant.
“Come on,” my mother said, a look of amusement on her face. “How hard can this be? They just want us to arrange for a formal introduction to all the interested ladies.”
My father already looked fed up with the whole affair as he ran a hand through his hair. He looked at my mother, then at me. “Can I leave this ball business to the two of you?”
My mother chuckled, and nodded. “I think that would be best.”
My father heaved a sigh. “Good. I have other, more pressing matters to see to now. I’ll catch you around.”
He left us and began making his way across the clearing toward the forest, leaving me, my mother and Caleb. I looked at my boyfriend. “Honestly, you’re not going to find this interesting either,” I said.
“Agreed,” Caleb said, rolling his eyes.
My mother looked at Caleb, then back at my father who’d almost disappeared in the distance. “Hey, Derek!” she shouted across the lawn. My father spun around. “Take Caleb with you. He can help with whatever it is you need to do.”
Caleb looked relieved to be let off the hook, and as he walked over to join him, the two men disappeared into the woods.
My mother turned back to me and held my hand. “I think it will be good for Caleb and your father to have some time alone, man to man.”
“Great idea.” I leaned forward and kissed her cheek. “And I’m happy to have some alone time with you, Mom.”
She smiled and kissed me back. Then she let out a sigh. “So, the ball. Firstly, where do you suggest we hold it?”
I frowned, rubbing my face in my hands. “Well, when I think of balls, I think of Cinderella. The classic fairytales. They are all normally held in some kind of grand hall. I guess the closest we have to that is one of the chambers within the Black Heights themselves?”
“Hmm,” she said. “Or we could ask Corrine to help us set up on the beach. We held a wedding there today, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be fit for a ball.”
“Yeah,” I said, “but it wouldn’t really feel like a ball. It would feel more like a party, or something. I think we should hold it in the largest chamber we have in the mountains.”
My mother smiled. “Okay. I trust your judgment more than mine, dragon girl.”
We re-entered the mountains and took a sharp left turn. Eventually, after passing along several tunnels, we reached the chamber we’d had in mind. It was the largest that we were aware of. It was currently filled with sacks of grain and emergency supplies.
We stepped inside and looked around. “We’ll need some help from the witches in making this place more… fairytale-ish,” I said.
“Okay,” my mother said. “Now we’ve decided on the venue, we need to think about music.”
I began thinking over my music sheets and which pieces would be most suitable. But really, I wasn’t worried about this. I wasn’t lacking in knowledge of classical music, thanks to my father, and I was sure that this would be pleasing to the dragons. “Don’t worry about music,” I said. “I’ll sort that out. What about food?”
“The dragons said that they would be satisfied with whatever the humans eat. So that shouldn’t be difficult. We’ll set out a buffet, something similar to what we had today at the wedding.”
There was a pause as my mother and I looked at each other. It dawned on me—and I was sure on her too—that we’d both been avoiding the most important element of our ball.
The damsels themselves.
They still had no idea that I’d hooked them all up with these dragons.
“The single ladies,” my mother said, reading my mind.
“Yeah,” I said, my mouth drying out.
My mother gulped. “Well, it’s getting late now. I suggest we make a trip to the Vale early tomorrow and break the news to them then.”
It would have to be real early if the ball was at noon. Many would want at least a few hours to get ready.
My stomach churned at the thought of none of them being interested. I had just assumed that dragon shifters would be appealing to them.
Now I just had to pray that this assumption was correct.
Chapter 10: Derek
Caleb approached me across the clearing. Our eyes met, then we looked away and walked through the forest in silence. Even now, I still didn’t find myself fully at ease in the young man’s presence. I wasn’t sure that I ever would. A small part of me resented my daughter staying with him in the mountain cabin. I wanted her at home. After all she’d been through, it had been heart-wrenching not having her sleep at home.
“Rose thanked you earlier for saving my life,” Caleb said quietly. “But I haven’t yet.”
I shook my head. “Don’t mention it.”
Caleb had saved both my and Sofia’s lives from Annora’s curse, going against his own people and risking his own life in the process. Saving him from Rhys was the least I could do.
We didn’t talk again until we arrived back at my penthouse. I led him straight to my study. I had a hundred and one tasks going through my head that needed to be done, but now that Caleb was here with me, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do any of them. It dawned on me that, apart from Rose’s recounting of everything that had happened to them since she’d been away from the island, I still knew very little about this young man. And that was something that I wanted to change.