Peanut Goes to School (Elder Races #6.7)

Peanut Goes to School (Elder Races #6.7)
Thea Harrison

Chapter One

* * *

The tricky thing about using a cloaking spell is that cloaking spells are tricky.

Liam snickered to himself as he tiptoed around the patio furniture and changed into his dragon form. His dragon had grown to the size of an adult lion, and he had to be careful not to knock over the furniture as he shapeshifted.

He also managed to hold on to his cloaking spell, which was a big fat win. Dad had said Liam’s cloaking ability was one of the best he’d ever seen, although it was difficult to stay hidden while changing forms.

But since his dad could do it, Liam felt sure he would be able to do it also. Eventually. Sometimes. If he kept practicing, pretty soon he should be able to stay cloaked all the time if he needed to.

Liam was playing his favorite game, Spy Wyr, which he had totally made up himself. When he grew up, he was going to be a secret sentinel. Uncle Graydon would send him out on missions, and when he returned after saving somebody, or maybe even after saving everybody, Mom and Dad would be really proud of him.

Of course, because it was undercover, Dad would have to give him medals in secret. Sometimes they might be silver and bronze ones, or when he did something amazing, they might be gold. Or maybe when he did something really outstanding, Dad would give him a sparkly medal with diamonds on it. Then Liam would have to find a super-secret place to hide them.

His dragon side liked the sound of that. It made him feel growly and fine.

By day, Liam would be, oh, maybe a basketball player. Basketball players traveled a lot, so it would be a good cover, and besides, it would be fun to play ball all the time, so that would be a big fat win.

Hi, my name is Cuelebre, Liam Cuelebre. My code name is Double Oh Peanut, but you can call me Rock Star for short.

Snickering again, he started climbing the house. It was a big house and there was a lot of brick on the outside. If he had been in his human form, he wouldn’t have been able to climb it, but in his dragon form, he could get a good grip by digging the tips of his talons into the brick.

One of his favorite things to do was sit on the roof and look around. Hugh said it was his perching instinct. Dad said he would have to get the roof reinforced, because Liam was going to get a lot bigger before he finished growing.

It was mid-August, but the day was nice and cool for a change, so lots of windows were open. And even though it was Sunday, there were always plenty of people about. Hesitating as he clung to the side of the house, he tried to decide who he wanted to spy on next.

Mom and Dad were hanging out in their rooms. . . . They had been relaxing a lot since Dad got hurt the month before.

If Liam could sneak past Dad’s superpowers of detection, he was pretty sure he could sneak past anything. That might go a long way toward convincing Uncle Graydon to hire him for spy missions when he got bigger.

Once the idea occurred to him, he couldn’t shake it loose. Giving into temptation, he climbed sideways to the end of the house, around the corner and up to Mom and Dad’s balcony. It was a lot more work than he had anticipated, so he got tired, and he was glad to reach the point where he could cling to a support beam on the underside of the balcony.

From overhead came the sound of quiet rustling and the creak of furniture. Mom and Dad were outside on the balcony. They sounded like they might be cuddling.

Liam loved to cuddle with them and sprawl in a big heap to watch movies or football games. As he thought of joining them, he started to lose interest in playing Spy Wyr.

Then Mom said in a quiet voice, “I feel like it’s all my fault.”

“You know that’s not true,” Dad replied. “He was growing quickly before you said anything to him.”

Liam started to get a hot, tight feeling somewhere in his middle. Were they talking about him?

“I know, but I’d give almost anything to turn back time and take back what I said.”

Liam’s wings and tail drooped. He knew exactly what she was talking about. They were talking about him, and Mom sounded really sad.

Last month, when Dad had gotten hurt so bad, Mom had said to Liam, You need to be a big soldier now.

And Liam had thought, I can do that.

He had pushed to get bigger, because Mom needed him to be strong.

Getting bigger wasn’t hard. It was kind of like shapeshifting, and his dragon form wanted him to be big anyway. He could feel it inside, straining to encompass all of his Power. And, as Dad had said, he was growing awfully fast anyway. But for some reason, when he had gone through that growth spurt, it had hurt Mom, and the last thing in the world Liam wanted to do was hurt her.

For the first time ever, he thought, Am I bad?

Asking that question made the hot, tight feeling in his middle worse.

“I can’t believe I’m going to take him to school in the morning,” Mom said. “Even though he’s taller than most first graders, he’s only six months old.”

“We’ve talked about this,” Dad said. “We agreed that he needed school.”

“I know and I was even the one who argued for that, but I have to ask—are we going about this the right way? He’s already far past what a normal first grader knows anyway. He’s read through a third of our library, he writes in complete sentences, and he’s been learning high-school algebra from Hugh.” She muttered, “I don’t even remember how to do high-school algebra.”

Thea Harrison's Books