Alathea’s pale blond hair tumbled smoothly over her shoulders and down to her hips. Her perfectly pointed chin and piercing blue eyes gave her the legendary ethereal beauty known among so many of the Elves. The fact that she towered over me by a foot didn’t help either. “So you’re like … over six feet tall, right?”
“Yes, I’m Six Four,” she replied flatly.
“Is it hard to find clothes?” I asked.
“Yes, very difficult. Did you ask me to meet with you so we could discuss my height?” She quirked a brow.
I winced. “Sorry, as you can see I’m rather short so I was just surprised to find you so tall. I mean Dragons are rather tall as well.”
“It probably has more to do with all the processed Human food you were raised on.” She motioned for me to take a seat at the table and she took a seat across it. “What would you like to discuss?”
“A few things actually, are you the same Alathea that defeated the Wizard who used to sit on the High Council?” I found myself leaning forward grasping the table.
“I am. I did it for the greater good over everyone involved.” Her answer seemed cool and collected but there was a slight edge to her voice.
“Thank you.” I said calmly.
“Why are you thanking me for that? It was years ago.” She waved it away dismissively.
“He held mother and aunt prisoner for a long while, until my father chanced upon them and helped them to escape.” I watched as she stiffened considerably.
“Your mother is Lady Jura?” she asked hesitantly.
“I thought that was common knowledge now?”
“No, we had heard you were Darkling and a Tempest but that was all that has made it to the high council. Is Daellym well?”Her voice cracked at the last question.
“I’m sorry whom?”
“Daellym, the Elf that your mother bonded with. Your father?” I blinked at her. This was this was the first time I had heard my father’s name spoken.
“Did you know him? You’re the first person to tell me his name. I’m afraid he has passed on.” I offered her my condolences. Alathea paled considerably at the news and ordered us some hot tea.
“I knew your father very well. I also now see the wisdom in Marthailain connecting the two of us.” She paused to reach across the table and take one of my hands. “I’ve treated you very poorly, and I am truly sorry. Please know you can come to me with anything.”
I pulled my hand free and leaned back in my chair. We both seemed happy when the tea arrived. It gave us something else to focus on. As Alathea poured me a cup, I noticed her hands shaking.
“Are you alright?” I asked her.
She nodded as she poured her own. “I am. I am just dealing with a bit of shock. Did you come here to ask me questions about your father or did you have another purpose?”
“Oh, yeah.” I smiled. “I made clarity bread to focus on a bit of a situation. It led me to you. I believe you may be able to fill in some blanks I have and as an unbiased party, I think you may be the right person.” She considered me for a moment. “It’s going to seem trivial and you may very well think me a bad person because of it.”
“Go on. I promise to be open minded.” She waved on the conversation.
“I am sort of seeing Ian McGreygor but I recently found I have connection with a member of my nest. I can hear and feel him, even when he’s not around. It also turns out we are now blood bound.”
“Ian… as in son of Cariss? Ian as in future Chieftain of our realm’s largest Were Clan?” Alathea swore under her breath. I nodded confirming it. “And you have a connection to a Dragon from your nest? That’s usually the sign of a Soul Mate. Considering your Mother was a highborn and had ties to a throne, that would make total sense that you could have a Soul Mate. Does the Dragon realize you and he have this bond yet?”
The words Soul Mate cycled through my head and I tried to shake them off. “Right, yeah, Hue and I use it to talk, often.”
“Hue, that seems like a rather mundane name for a Dragon.” She smiled. “You’re young still and even if you have a Soul Mate there is no rush for you.” She smiled. I wasn’t sure she knew what she was talking about. Her tone seemed almost motherly.
I smiled thinking about my time recently at the nest. “Actually, his name is Hudraer, I just call him Hue for short.” As if the sound of his name on my lips was enough to summon him, I felt him there with me.
You’re near, I can feel you. Did you come to visit me?
Trying not to laugh. Silly Dragon, not everything is about you. I’m in the Realm of the four kingdoms meeting with someone. I’m not in your realm.
Our realm. He corrected. You’re part of the Nest as well. That makes it your home and realm as well.
Alathea was watching my closely. The play of emotions on her face was unreadable. “Lord Hudraer?” She asked slowly. She looked woozy. “You’re Soul Mate is Lord Hudraer?”
“I’m not sure if Soul Mate is the right word, but yes, I am friends with Lord Hudraer.” I took another sip of my tea. “That brings me back to my reason for coming. Ian is under a lot of stress and I daresay I have feelings for him, but I have also grown quite fond Hue. I’m curious if my feelings for Hue are only because of this link we share?”
Alathea finally exploded the way Alathea explodes, but what she said surprised me. “You are caught in a love triangle between the future Were Chieftain of our realm and the Prince of the Dragons. You sure know how to pick them, don’t you?” She sucked in a deep breath. “You’re thoughtless, and careless just like your father. You really have no clue how any of this works do you?” She screamed and climbed to her feet. “The fact that you and I share blood is heart wrenching. If you end up being the cause of war, I swear I will turn you into a toad!” She stormed out of the tent.
Are you alright? Hues silky smooth voice rolled around in my mind.
Are you a Prince? I asked
I could feel his hesitation. Who are you meeting with?
Oh, the meeting is over. I came to meet with Alathea about some questions I had. I shifted uncomfortably on the chair I was sitting on.
Questions you couldn’t come to me with? There was a twinge of pain at his question but I wasn’t sure if it was his or my own. Stay where you are, I’ll come to you.
I felt my emotions swirl within me. I was more confused now then before I had come. I heard Hue approach though the flap of the tent. I didn’t bother to look or say anything when he entered. He knelt down beside me. When I turned to look at him, he tucked a stray strand of hair behind my ear. I threw my arms around him and buried my face into his shoulder. I could be confused, angry or anything else in a moment. He folded his arms around me and held me there.
He cleared his throat. “Your mother, until recently held the position at the top of our Elder’s council. Nobody knew if you were alive or if you would want anything to do with your Darkling side. Since I had led the Nest, she stepped down and offered me her seat on the council.” He let out a slow breath. “Whenever this happens, there is a challenge for who will lead. I won that challenge. My parents were both vassals and so my birth rank wasn’t called into question. In sorts, yes, I am a Prince but if you want to challenge me for the title I will gladly meet your challenge.”
I leaned back to study him. “So you’re Prince of the Dragons?”
He winced. “Sort of. I can be your Prince?” he offered with an awkward smile.
“Are you afraid I would challenge you for the position?” I asked.
“It’s as much yours, as it is mine.” He leaned forward and placed a kiss on my forehead. “Dragons don’t really give up what is theirs, so yes, it has been a fear of mine.”
“Who needs Prince Charming when I could have a Dragon instead?” I smiled.
Hue’s chuckle caught me off guard almost as much as his kiss did.
“What should I do?” I asked.
“About what?” He stood still cradling me in his arms and sat on the chair I had been occupying, then pulled me onto his lap. “Tell me everything and I will make it better.”
“I’m so confused. I care about Ian but I care about you. I normally don’t do the whole emotional attachment thing.” I felt like an ass admitting all this.
“Shhhh” Hue encouraged. “Maybe Ian isn’t far off with his teenager description.” I froze on his lap debating boxing his ears. “I’m sure, If I hadn’t come along there would be no question about your feelings for Ian. Has he asked you to be his mate?”
I could feel him holding his breath. I shook my head. “No, nothing so serious.”
He breathed easier and I felt a ripple of relief run through him. “Unless he has asked you to be his mate, and there is a rather large bonding ceremony that goes with all that, you are not spoken for. It is not uncommon for the Were to have many lovers until the mate. He’s been mated once before and I can’t see him ready to rush in and do it again.”
“What about Dragons?” I asked.
“Yes, Dragons take Mates as well.” He leaned close kissing the base of my neck and whispering in my ear. “I’m willing to wait my turn, because once I get you, I’m never letting you go.” He nipped my ear and a chill ran through me. I shakily climbed to my feet and Hue laughed. “I will admit, you do great things for my ego reacting as you do.”
I clung to the table beside me for support. “You can just back that ego up. I’m just shaken still with what happened while I was speaking with Alathea.” I should know better than to try and bullshit someone who can hear my thoughts.
To Hue’s credit he just smiled knowingly. “I’m sure that’s it” He rose and strolled towards the door. “Oh, and Kat” my breath caught with him using my Human name. “I think it’s rather cute that she’s under the impression I am YOUR Hue because I guarantee it, that the rest of the world knows you’re mine.” His last words rang with such finality I wasn’t sure what to think.