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By the time their car turned into the Scales and Tails parking lot, it was nearly full

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By the time their car turned into the Scales and Tails parking lot, it was nearly full.

Not a good sign.

"Look, Zelly!" Amory jabbed his finger at the window, pointing at something off in the distance.

"Uh-huh, cool." She pretended to look at whatever he was talking about.

All she could see was a mass of people heading for the same thing they were.

The fingers of panic were back, threatening to latch around her throat and cut off her air as she watched the horde. She had severely underestimated the rest of the world's love for dragons.

Large crowds of people had never been her favorite. If she knew there were going to be a lot of people in one place, she avoided that place at all costs. If possible, she preferred to stay at home alone, where she didn't have to talk to anyone. Friend, stranger—it didn't matter. She liked being alone and in her own familiar space. Did that make her weird? She didn't care. It made her feel safe.

And this was most definitely not safe.

"Are you even looking?" Amory stared at her accusingly.

"Of course, I'm looking. That dragon is just like the one from your show."

Her brother rolled his eyes at her. "It looks nothing like that. Besides, that one," he jabbed his finger at the window again, leaving behind a smudge, "is a drake."

"Right, right. A drake." She nodded like she knew that all along.

"Stop pretending like you know what I'm talking about," Amory said, seeing right through her. "Do you know the difference between a drake and a dragon?"

"Umm . . . "

Frankly, she didn't care, but she couldn't tell Amory that. She stared at the image of the drake stalking back and forth across the top of the entrance gates. It looked like a dragon to her.

"Trick question. A drake is a type of dragon. It looks like a giant lizard with four legs, but it doesn't have wings." He tapped the window once more, leaving another fingerprint.

"Oh, okay," she said. "Got it."

This was going to be a long day, and they hadn't even gotten out of the car yet.


***


They waited in line for two hours before they made it to the entrance gate. By then, Zelda had already watched the animation of the drake a million times. First, it would walk to the right, turn its head, and hiss at an invisible foe. Then it would turn and pace back the other way. When it reached the other end, it would stand up on its hind legs and tilt its head back in a silent, open-mouthed roar.

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