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A Fall of Secrets(A Shade of Vampire,Book 15)(17) by Bella Forrest

It appeared that the dragons had no desire for conversation at all. At least, not yet.

It’s like these men are trying to see through to the very souls of these girls.

Perhaps they did possess some kind of deep intuition and could judge a person from their eyes. Somehow, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Their gazes were so piercing.

I continued to look around the room, and once again Theon surprised me. He was standing at the edge of the hall, and he was showing no signs of approaching anyone. He wasn’t looking at me now—he was just watching his fellow shifters dancing. Several of the girls who were still seated were casting glances at him. Of course, they would sooner faint than approach him.

Why is he standing all alone? Jeriad had said that primarily, they had come here to find a partner for the prince.

I didn’t understand his behavior, although my suspicion left me ill at ease. I looked over at Shayla and nodded toward the prince.

“Why do you think he’s just standing there?” I whispered.

She shrugged. Although from the look in her eye, she had the same suspicion as me.

I stopped staring down below and focused on my music again. I didn’t know how long this ball would last. None of us did. I supposed the dragons would make it clear once they felt that they’d had a satisfactory introduction.

Hopefully not more than a few hours.

I kept my concentration mostly on my music for the next hour, though I couldn’t help but keep glancing down every now and then. The dragons maintained that silent demeanor throughout, just staring at their partners, as though nothing else existed in the world except the girl in front of them. I felt goosebumps run along my skin just thinking about attempting to hold their gaze for more than a few minutes, let alone hours. But almost an hour had passed now, and the girls seemed quite happy to be lost in their eyes.

I was relieved once one o’clock struck and Corrine arrived. She appeared near the food table and began talking with my mother, who cast a glance up at me and nodded. That meant it was time to start wrapping up the music.

Shayla and I finished the piece gracefully. Then, standing up, I caught sight of Theon again, still standing at the corner of the room. He hadn’t danced with a single person the whole hour, nor had he made any attempts to. I was surprised that even Jeriad hadn’t tried to pair him up. I could only assume that he’d requested to be left alone.

I remained watching from the balcony as Corrine manifested a long banquet table. Gripping their partners by the waist, the shifters led them toward the edges of the hall as the witch floated the table into the center and lined up chairs around it with her magic. She spread out a pearly white tablecloth, followed by piles of silver plates and cutlery.

“Please take a seat,” she announced.

The shifters approached the table with the girls, pulling back chairs for them to take a seat first, before sitting beside them. I was glad to see Theon seating himself at the head of the table. A part of me kept expecting him to climb up to my balcony.

The witches began to serve the feast deftly with their magic, placing all of the vessels in the center of the table and serving everyone. I could barely remember when I had last eaten, but I had no appetite now. Even though the food looked delicious, I shook my head when my mother beckoned me over.

“Later,” I mouthed.

My mother shook her head. “Now,” she mouthed back.

I sighed and obeyed her, climbing down the steps. I took the plate she had prepared for me before hurrying back up to the balcony to eat. As soon as I’d taken the first bite, I was glad that she’d insisted. Having food in my stomach eased my nerves.

Shayla ascended the stairs toward me, holding a plate in her hand, and sat down next to me to eat.

“So do you know what’s going to happen now?” I asked.

“Your mom said that she spoke to Jeriad. Apparently that’s all the dancing that will be done today.”

I widened my eyes. “But Theon hasn’t even danced with anyone yet.”

Shayla shrugged, brushing aside a strand of her brown hair as she began to eat. “It seems that one hour of dancing was enough for this introductory ball. Apparently, all the dragons who danced have chosen a lady each, and now the second stage is to whisk them away somewhere on the island to talk in private, without distractions.”

“Oh… And then after that?”

“I don’t know,” the witch replied. “I don’t think Jeriad explained the next step to your mom…”

I stayed up on the balcony with Shayla for the next hour or so. We both finished our meals and then sat on the bench by the piano, watching as the dragons and their partners finished theirs. Soon, the shifters began helping their ladies out of their chairs and leading them across the hall toward the exit.

I stood up and walked to the railing for a better view. Surprisingly, Theon seemed to have left already. Perhaps he’d left early. I was still puzzled by his behavior.

Well, that was over much sooner than I thought.

This more than suited me though. Now that the stress of the ball was over, I found my exhaustion returning—the plate of food I’d just eaten likely contributing to it.

I bade goodbye to Shayla and made my way down the steps. My mother was standing by the table talking to Corrine. Putting an arm around me, she planted a kiss on my forehead. “How are you feeling?”

“Sleepy,” I muttered.

“Go to bed now,” my mother replied. “It seems our work here is done.”