The famous Alpha Island was much bigger than I imagined it, now that I was looking at it from the sky. I stretched my wings for the last time before shifting into my human form and landed, creating a cloud of dust around me.
“Show off!” I heard Griffin’s voice and turned to see my chosen brother and second-in-command walking lazily in my direction.
“I hope no one saw me?” I asked him with a raised brow.
“No, man,” he chuckled, “You were just a dot in the sky. Even I wasn’t sure that it’s really you. You know, until you went all Marvel here.”
“Good,” I ignored his flat joke and got out my sunglasses. I could see The Alpha Island University and the barrier around it from here. Cars and buses were bringing hundreds of students to the border and I tried to suppress the feeling of annoyance raising inside of me again.
“So, everything is ready,” Griffin read my mood correctly and decided to distract me, “Your bags were delivered, our room is prepared…”
“Wait, what?” I looked at him in disbelief, “We have to share?”
“Yes, Ren, this is a regular university for supernatural creatures. They don’t do private rooms for the royals here. Sorry. Especially since you need to hide your identity this time.”
“Just when I thought that I can’t hate this place more,” I groaned.
“I am excited too, you know!” Grif snorted. I appreciated his sarcasm and also the fact that now I would get to enjoy it 24/7. The thought irked me and I decided to get back to why we both were actually here.
“Any new cases of missing students?”
“Not that I know of, but the new year is only starting, so…” Griffin shook his shoulders as we walked in the direction of the protective barrier, “By the way, you need this to enter the school.”
He handed me what looked like a little charm on a leather bracelet with the University Logo on it.
“Oh, please,” I gave him an eye roll, “Their barrier is good but it’s not that good. I can enter it with my eyes closed.”
“Maybe you can, but the alarm will set off and, besides, aren’t you supposed to look like a regular student here? Welcome to the real world, Your Highness!” my friend mocked me.
God, I hated the whole thing. When I volunteered to deal with their little problem of missing students, I was thinking more of flying here, setting traps, finding the one responsible within a day or two, dealing with him or her, and flying back home before the next Council meeting. But when the Elders announced that I would have to transfer here, take things slow, and pretend to be a regular student, I thought they were joking.
Me! A royal dragon prince! The heir to the throne of my clan and a regular student! I learned everything there was to learn at an establishment like that by the age of 20. With private tutors, the best of the best in our world. Not some mediocre professors whose life was so unworthy that the most exciting thing they could do was to go and live on an island with a bunch of immature magical creatures.
I was 22 and ready to step into the position of the Dragon leader.
But apparently, all four great clans were sending their heirs as well and we had to pretend as if their input mattered. To make sure that we all stay friends and not try to kill each other in the future. I was sure that the fairy princess, who only knew how to grow flowers in her hair would be super useful. Or that i***t warlock prince, whose main purpose in life was pranking people. Or maybe that Lycan bunch of muscles and no brains could smell something other than his arrogance. Yeah, a great team right there.
Speaking of which… I hardly entered the gates and looked around when I sensed that jerk. Dylan Chains, the Lycan prince. Staring at me from the opposite entrance as if I owed him something. Good thing that he had to pretend a commoner too and that meant that we didn’t have to officially greet each other.
“Divide and conquer?” I connected to him mentally and smirked.
“Sounds good,” he turned away and went somewhere with his Beta running behind him. See you never, Dylan.
“That went well,” Griffin scoffed.
“At least all our feelings are mutual,” I took off my glasses to look around. It was way too crowded here to my taste but it was probably better for me to get used to that as soon as possible. Since I was stuck here.
“Enjoy the view, my friend!” my chosen brother put his arm onto my shoulder, “Since we get this rare opportunity to have fun and live a normal life at least for a while! You will hardly ever be able to taste such freedom again.”
“So far it’s nothing special,” I stated the obvious.
“Come on! Our dragonesses are smoking hot, of course. But have you ever wondered about other species?” he winked at me, “I found myself a hybrid siren! A siren, Ren! Do you even know how rare those are nowadays?”
“Pretty rare,” I admitted, “But be careful, I heard that they could be mated to practically anyone who can at least shift into a human form. And you are not allowed to marry anyone but another dragon shifter.”
“And that could be a problem anywhere but here!” Griffin chuckled, “The school’s barrier blocks all mate senses not to distract students from their education. It is practically impossible to find your mate here because of that and all that we are left with is pure fun of dating without consequences!”
“Well, good for you,” I exhaled heavily. I couldn't be bothered less.
“How is your engagement going on?” my friend suddenly got serious.
“Almost approved by the dragon king. We’ll probably sign a contract when I come back from this little mission.”
“Only more reasons to explore new things now! While you still can,” my adjutant grinned.
Maybe he was right. Since I was stuck here anyway, maybe it was…
I lost my train of thought because I felt a strange pull. I turned my head and noticed something shining at a distance… Hair like fire, blown by the wind… Small delicate frame…
The dragon inside of me became unsettled and I had a very bad feeling about this. Werewolves and lycans felt their mate’s scent, witches were drawn to their magic, fairies had mating signs appearing on their bodies, but dragons… dragon's recognized their own when they looked into their souls.
The girl turned and just for a brief moment our eyes locked, connecting our souls and marking the end of life as it was. From this day forward, nothing would be the same again...
MATE… She was my mate.
The one I would share my whole life with.
But to my surprise, she turned away and started walking in a completely different direction.
“What the hell?!” I muttered. This was not the reaction that I expected. But then it hit me – the school barrier! It was blocking mate senses! I could feel it because I was a royal dragon, one of the strongest. But she obviously wasn’t and it worked on her the same way it did on everyone else.
Well, all this suddenly got much more interesting. A mystery to solve, a mate to conquer without her feeling a single thing. All while having to act like a normal person with no titles.
A smile curled on my lips as I realized that there was a rare opportunity before me to make my mate fall in love with me for who I really was.
It was a good thing that the island was secluded and covered with a veil of invisibility. Fewer reasons for me to worry. Maybe I would finally be able to have a good night’s sleep after the last few years of being on the run. Ever since my mum died, it wasn’t easy. And I didn’t even dare to dream to be able to attend a school for supernaturals like that!
But when my mother’s old friend helped me to get a scholarship at the Alpha Island University- it was too good of an opportunity to pass! After all, their barrier would protect me and hide my aura from those who were still looking for me. And no one would know what I really was! The Elders wouldn’t be able to locate me for another few years and by then, hopefully, I’d reach my full potential, and no one would be able to hurt me. The freedom was so near that I could practically taste it!
The bus that brought me and other poor scholarship students stopped, and I got out with my small duffle bag. Yeah, I didn’t have much with me. If something was wrong and I had to run, I needed only the essentials.
I could see the barrier surrounding the school premises and it made me excited. Just a few steps and I would be able to stop looking behind my shoulder.
Ok, I would still be doing it. After all, it was a reflex now – all those years on the run made me paranoid. But I would do it less.
I would at least try to do it less...
A silly smile was probably plastered all over my face when I made that final step and found myself inside the school’s premises. There were far too many people and at first, I didn’t even know where to go. So, I just walked around, staring at the buildings and the other students who all seemed to be knowing what they were doing. Unlike me.
Yet I could relax for the first time in a while, and it was priceless.
I bumped into two girls and dropped my bag to the floor.
“Sorry,” a cute brunet with golden-brown hair helped me to pick it up. I probably looked lost to her, because she smiled at me reassuringly, “Are you a freshman?”
“Yeah,” I confessed at once, “Is it so obvious?”
“Just a bit,” her friend snorted and for a second I thought that they were going to mock me, but the first girl pointed to the left.
“Look, do you see that queue? You need to go there and register that you arrived. They will give you your information pack and your room key.”
“Thanks!” I bit my lip. That was kind of obvious but I was overwhelmed on my first day and now I felt stupid.
“Relax,” the brunet chuckled, “We’ve all been there. My name is Ava. And this is my friend Mia. We need to go now, but if you’ll have any questions in the future, you are always welcome to talk to us.”
“We are werewolves,” Mia said proudly, “And you are…”
“A dragon,” I smiled as I said my rehearsed lie for the first time, “And my name is Skylar. But you can call me Sky.”
“We’ll see you around, Sky,” the two girls still seemed friendly enough. Even though werewolves and dragons weren't the best of friends, “We need to go now. Take care!”
I waved them goodbye and took a place in the queue.
It went well. If I kept that up, I could survive here. Maybe even have a couple of friends along the way…
Excited, I turned around once again and saw probably the most handsome guy I’ve ever met. Tall and muscular, he looked like a perfectly carved statue in the middle of the university garden. He brushed his ash brown hair with a few blonde strands with his hand and looked at me with his green piercing eyes as if he found something he had been searching for.
Everything in me screamed to come up to him and flirt. Or smile. Or at least do something! But I came to my senses quickly and turned away. This wasn’t why I came here. I came to learn and to hide. I came for protection. I was lying about what I was. The fewer people I got close to, the better. And having a boyfriend was definitely out of question! Too risky, too dangerous… Not worth it in the long run!
I received my papers, info pack, the key, and the map of the university grounds, and decided not to waste any time and go find a room. I went into a stone arched passage and suddenly noticed something peculiar. There were colourful leaflets on the columns with a photo of a girl. I came closer and read: “Missing. Arianna Douglas, 21 yo. Blonde, blue eyes, 5’7. If you have any information about her current location, please, call any of the numbers below.”
Great, just great. They had missing people here! In my experience, a bunch of supernaturals and a missing person were never a coincidence!
At the distance, I noticed some guy with shiny silver hair, putting up an identical leaflet on a nearby wall.
I decided not to lie to myself that I didn't care and not to waste any time. I marched straight to him with determination to get more information about what was going on here.
“Hi!” I waved awkwardly, “What happened to that girl?”
He looked at me slightly surprised, but when he noticed my welcome pack, a vague understanding smile appeared on his lips.
“A freshman?” he asked, and I nodded, “I see… Well, Arianna went missing last semester. No one heard anything from her ever since.”
“Even her family?” a slight chill went down my spine.
“She doesn’t have any,” the guy replied, “It was only her and me…”
“Oh,” the realization that she was probably his girlfriend came to me too late, and I covered my mouth, “I am so sorry!”
“Don’t be,” he smiled sympathetically, “You couldn’t know. No hard feelings. My name is Cole, by the way.”
“Skylar,” I stretched my hand to him and we both heard a loud growl behind our backs.
I turned rapidly and saw the guy from before… He was even more gorgeous from up close. But looked so furious for some reason. Bad sign and a red alert.
Why was it that the most handsome ones were always the crazy ones as well?
The awkward silence became evident as we all looked at each other.
“Hi!” his friend stepped in, “We are new here. Transfer students. Maybe you could tell us where we should go now?”
“Aren’t you here for a while though?” Cole furrowed his brows, “I am pretty sure I saw you before…”
“I just dropped my things,” the guys chuckled nervously, “And now I need to register and all…”
“Well, the queue is there,” I said under the heavy gaze of the green eyes, “They gave me all I needed there.”
“Are you a freshman?” the one who was staring at me the whole time asked.
“Yes,” I nodded, thinking to myself that I was better to get away from here as soon as possible. Too much attention. And it was the last thing I needed. “I have to go.”
I turned on my heels when I heard his voice again, “What is your name?”
“Skylar,” I gave him a weak smile as I threw one last glance at him, hoping that all this would be over and made another few steps when he stopped me again.
“Are you a witch?” he sounded as if he was very interested, “You have very beautiful amber eyes, you know…”
That question again… Now I smiled wider, trying to act natural.
“I am a dragon,” I grinned and for the first time, he smiled back. His aura was that of power and dominance, he also smelled like fire… So, if my guess was correct, he was a dragon himself. And a strong one at that. His friend, however, had a sea breeze scent, yet the dominance was there as well. A sea dragon perhaps… They weren’t friendly with other species, that’s why I chose to pretend one of them and not a witch. Even though a witch would be easier, they were the friendliest and most open to interactions with others. I did not need any of that.
“My name is Darren,” he said with a smirk that made me bite my lip, “I’ll see you around Skylar.”
“Yeah, maybe!” I waved and hurried to get away from that extremely weird encounter. Why were those dragons so unbearably hot? All I needed was to be left alone and unnoticed. I didn’t think that there could be a problem with that. According to my papers, I was a no-one. No prominent family, no money, just raw talent that needed polishing for everybody’s safety. That’s why they gave me a scholarship. But it would be really unlikely for the privileged kids to want to be friends with me. So, it was perfect.
The less we saw each other, the better. Because I couldn’t risk any one of them finding out that I was the one person they all were possibly looking for. Especially witches and dragons. I had to avoid those like a plague.
I entered the girls’ dorms and went all the way up to the top floor, searching for my room. Finally, I found it at the end of a dark stone corridor and knocked. I had a key, of course, but chances were that my roommate already moved in and I didn’t want to seem rude.
“Get out!” I heard an angry shouting from inside and knocked again. This time there was a sound of footsteps and in just under a second, the door opened and an extremely beautiful girl with blonde hair and teal eyes pierced me with her gaze. She looked furious at first but her facial expression quickly changed to that of a surprise.
“Oh, you are not a guy,” she stated the obvious, making me snort at that.
“Thank god I am not,” I couldn’t help but laugh, “I am your new roommate.”
“That’s great then! Come in!” she pulled me inside by my hand and as soon as I was in, started locking the door. I counted about four locks when she turned back to me, beaming. “My name is Deidra Rivers. Sorry about all that.”
“Too many guys seeking your attention?” I chuckled, getting to the empty bed. The room was medium in size but cozy. The walls were dark grey and we had big windows that provided loads of light. Each of us had a desk, a wardrobe and there was also a tiny bathroom. Everything I could ask for! Now I had to leave this place only to eat and study.
“Yeah,” Deidra sighed in the meantime, “Don’t think that I am shallow or anything. But they all heard that I am a siren and now all the playboys want to tick me on their list of achievements.”
“A siren!” I snorted, “Girl, you are in trouble.”
And that was true. Sirens were naturally good at seducing pretty much everyone. But now they rarely left their waters and preferred to avoid people. So to have a real siren here was definitely exciting for everyone but her…and me. Because none of us wanted that much attention.
“I am sorry, I am being so self-absorbed here. What is your name again?” my roommate was putting her books on a shelf and it did not escape me that she was sorting them by colour. Cute.
“Skylar Aster,” I smiled at her, “A freshman dragon.”
“Really?” she turned to me in surprise and her gaze traveled all over me, “You don’t give me a dragon vibe.”
No, wonder. That probably because I wasn’t one. And now when I was thinking of it, sirens were very perceptive in the area and magic department. Sometimes even more perceptive than witches. That could be a problem for me.
“Not arrogant enough?” I snorted, “I’ll try to top it up.”
“Please, don’t!” she chuckled, “I kind of like you right now.”
A knock on the door interrupted our chat and the smile on Deidra’s face faded.
“I’ll get it,” I patted her shoulder and went to open the door.
But when I did it was my grin that disappeared as I saw the two dragons from before...