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The Azure Kingdom (The Iridescent Realm #1)
Author:Michelle Dare

The Azure Kingdom (The Iridescent Realm #1)

Michelle Dare


My eyes fly open and I immediately sit up. I’m scanning the room, trying to find him, the man on top of the hill. Then I realize I’m not in the field of azure flowers. Reality comes crashing down around me. I’m in my bedroom. My skin is covered in a sheen of sweat, and my heart is beating so fast, it’s like it’s going to pound right out of my chest. The recurrent dream is so real that every time I wake, I have to remember I’m not living it; it was only in my mind.

Lying back down, my eyes close, and I try to calm my racing heart. Maybe by some crazy chance I can fall back into the dream. Unfortunately, I’m not that lucky. After tossing and turning for who knows how long, I realize I can’t, however, I replay it all behind closed eyes.

I emerge from a small house and turn to look it over. It’s an old cottage with a weathered, slate blue wooden door and colorful ivy covering the exterior walls. The air is warm, but not humid, and the sun is shining down, heating my skin to chase away the chill I have at being in a strange place. The second my feet hit the grass, the cottage disappears, and I’m left in a field of the most beautiful blue flowers. They are nothing like I’ve ever seen. The flowers remind me of miniature sunflowers with a color that resembles a clear sky on a summer day. Oddly, they aren’t fragrant.

My fingers gently graze their silky petals. I’m so amazed by the flowers that I don’t see the man standing in the distance. It’s only when I hear a sound, like I’ve never heard before, that I notice him. A loud roar pierces the air, which makes the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

My gaze is fully on them now. The man’s face is shadowed by a dragon, but his armor is clear, as well as his outline. I can’t make out the intricacies of it from my place down the hill, but notice the steel blue color of it, and how it appears to fit close to his body. He’s also wearing a cape which is billowing behind him in the breeze. Heat spreads through my body at the sight of him. There’s something about him that sets my body ablaze, even from this far away. A connection to him I can’t explain.

By his side is a creature I’ve only seen in movies or imagined from reading, a mostly white dragon. Variances of grey scales blend in with the white ones to make it something I can only describe as majestic. Against the azure flowers the dragon stunningly stands out. Its wings are moving in a fluid motion behind the man as it roars again. Horns stick out all around its head, giving off the aura of deadliness. Strangely, I’m not afraid. I’m eerily calm. That is, until the man extends his arm and uses his hand to beckon me forward. I hear his voice like a whisper on the wind. It’s captivating, making me want to go toward him, but why does he want me near?

My fear starts to kick in as I take hesitant steps, unsure if I’m making the right decision to go forward. Even as my mind argues that this might not be the wisest decision, my feet keep moving. I’m no longer in control of my body. When it doesn’t seem like I’m walking fast enough, I break into a sprint. There is something inside my heart that whispers how important it is that I get to him. My mind and heart are at war with one another, but my heart ultimately wins. I need to stand beside him. He will protect me. From what, I’m not sure.

I’m running, only I’m not getting any closer. No matter how fast I move, I can’t reach him. I extend my hand toward him as he does the same. It seems as if we’re miles apart. He is forever untouchable.

That’s when I wake up, as I just did, due to the exertion in my dream. I’m panting like I was really running. Each time I have the dream, it’s like the first time I’m having it, discovering everything anew. It’s always the same dream, too. This dream is different from all of my others, though. I’ve had recurring dreams before, but they’ve never felt so real. I want to get back into this dream and find him. It feels imperative to my survival that I do so.

Opening my eyes again, I glance at the alarm clock beside my bed. Seven in the morning. I don’t have to open the store for two more hours. What I should do is go back to sleep, although I know that won’t happen. Every time I close my eyes I see him. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.

I groan and roll onto my back. My hands rub the last bit of the dream from my vision as I throw the blankets off. Why is it that every time you want to lie in bed all day, you can’t? I don’t want to move. I want to spend the day wrapped up in my head with my mystery man.

I drop my feet to the warm hardwood and drag myself to the bathroom to freshen up, before heading to the kitchen to get the coffee brewing. I know I’ll seriously need it today, given I missed out on some much needed sleep.

My apartment takes up the entire second story of the building my antique shop is in. I do have a third floor, but it’s for storage. After my mom passed away, I moved in here. Her death came around the same time as my divorce from my cheating, asshole of a husband. I had planned on moving in to help care for her, but I didn’t have enough time. The cancer took her sooner than expected.

I grew up here, however moved away for college, and then work. My dad is someone I’ve never met, nor know anything about. My mom always kept the details vague in regards to him, and I don’t have any siblings. It was up to me to handle everything for my mom. She left very detailed paperwork of how she wanted her service and burial. Her store instructions were included in there, as well. She was adamant that I take it over. It was nothing I wanted to do. I had a job in advertising, which I quit to run her business. I couldn’t let her final wishes fall on deaf ears.

So, here I sit at the table in the eat-in kitchen of my apartment, over the antique store that my mother left me. It’s been a year since she died. I’ve changed out the furniture in the apartment to things that are more my taste, which was a little tough. With every piece I replaced, it was as if I was getting rid of pieces of her. I knew I couldn’t continue to live in the past, though.

The items she had fit with her taste, but I like a more contemporary style. Knowing what she would want, I put her pieces in the store for others to purchase. She always said no piece is too old or too worn. There was a home out there for every item in the store, they were only waiting for their owners to show up. She spoke like each piece were a living being. I guess, in a way, they did talk to her. Each had a story, many years of being loved before finding its way to her store.