Dragonhearts - Page 20

Put that way, I could hardly refuse, so I removed my hood.

Elfreda took a kind look at my pale weathered face, and smiled when she saw that while I had kept my red hair long, it had been trimmed, and the sharp whiskers that had clung to my face for decades had been shaved off that morning. “Yes,” she whispered. “I think that's a face I could have loved if only you had given me the chance.” Her words were interrupted by a fit of pained coughing. “Maybe you were right about 'the risk,' but you were wrong in denying me that chance.” She looked momentarily different, like a ghost from my past, then added, “And not for the first time.”


Elfreda just smiled obscurely. “So you owe me, Gore; never forget that, because I won't.” She took my hand in hers. “And that's why I'll come back for you someday . . . that, and because you are clearly incapable of looking after yourself properly.” She winked at me one last time, then her eyes became serious. “But until then, remember this always: Your heart is strong, as strong as mine. It always was, and even if it wasn't, it is now because we share the same heart, the heart of a dragon, and with it we can bear any trial or hurt.” He face twisted in the agony she was increasingly less able to conceal from me. “And a good thing too, because this is about to hurt us both.”

“Elfreda . . .”

She touched her fingers to my lips. “Hush,” she chided. “Just kiss me goodbye, and do it quickly.”

I never tried to do anything slower in my life.

She was dead, her last breath shared with me, long before I was ready for it to be over.

But it was.

Page 20

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