Not every romance is a fantasy, but ours are!

It’s been really quiet these last few days with Ian hanging out at his own place. Despite the invitation from Hue I have decided to not attend the games. I think it would only serve to remind Ian how he’s not going. Why turn the dagger?

Instead I have fully devoted myself to the cause of editing my newest novels. My editor and I have been working tirelessly and around the clock to get the books done on time. I think a lot of people underestimate how much work goes into publishing a book, and the work doesn’t stop once it’s on the shelf, it just starts. Promotion takes a huge amount of time and effort. Living abroad makes it even more complicated. I can’t just walk into a random bookstore and ask if they would like me to sign copies or would be interested in me doing a book signing.

When I started on this journey things like Dragons, Werewolves and Pixies were little more than novelties to me. My eyes would flare with excitement every time I encountered a new creature or learned a new spell. Now it seems like my magical existence has become almost mundane. I have both my Human parents and my Dragon mother to worry about me. Calls from the states always center around a discussion on are you eating, sleeping or seeing anyone? Visits to the Dragon’s are always centered around are you eating, sleeping and how is the relationship with the Werewolf going? If it doesn’t work out you could always date a nice Dragon boy. I guess it is just further proof that all mothers have the same worry regardless of their culture.

My mother (Dragon) is coming to stay with me this week while most of the Nest is at the Otherworld Games. She hasn’t been in the Human realm in over 30 years so it should be exciting to see her reaction to how far things have come. It’s also amusing because she gave me a list of everything she wants to do. The first ten things on the list are all types of food. At least now I understand my obsession with Mexican food. I just wish they delivered.

Marthailain is coming over to get her properly registered for being here in Asia in case she would need emergency documents such as a passport or something. It was a very strange sight to hear him to talk to Lady Jura via speaker phone because she and he appear to know each other. She also wants to go meet with my father’s sister while she is in the Human realm so I am sure that will take up the better part of a day as well.

The belief when we are six that magic would solve our problems is a falsehood, just like the belief as an adult that money fixes everything is also untrue. Magic has opened doors for me I didn’t know were there, but it hasn’t always been prizes I’ve won behind those doors. Some of it has been danger. I guess it all comes back to be careful what you wish for.

 

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.

 

Scottish-independence-Yes-campaign-to-be-launched

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I am a supporter for the Scotland “Yes Campaign”.  I haven’t hidden it away or played the card that because I don’t live there it doesn’t matter.  The fact is, it does matter to the world.  The UK is a major player on the global field, and for that reason the results of the upcoming vote will affect you even if you don’t realize it.

If you look at it on a purely financial spectrum I can understand why there would be so many naysayers.  There is a lot that could go wrong.  There could be negative lasting damage to both the UK’s and Scotland’s economies.  The key word there is could. British Prime Minister David Cameron recently spoke out on the topic, comparing it to a divorce from which there would be no going back. He is correct that this is the normal outcome with a divorce, but what he fails to mention is that not all divorces are created equal.

If the referendum passes and Scotland gains its independence the process will begin.  Westminster will then have to decide how the split will take place.  Will they take the adult approach and let Scotland take the china while they keep the cookware? Or will it become a hostile grab-fest?  The ball at that moment will truly be in their court.

So if divorce and separation can be so painful and possibly financially damaging, why should Scotland do this?

Scotland has patiently and respectfully played by the rules the UK has imposed. They have been active members in the union and proudly clung to their heritage. They are capable people that have it fully within themselves to govern their own country. Who better to understand the needs of their people, then themselves? A lack of proper representation within the UK government has put them at a disadvantage for too long. Scotland tends to be a liberal and forward thinking country, and with some luck they will shine like a beacon for others to follow.  Often laws meant for the greater good have seemed to be centered around the greater good of England and not to the UK as a whole.

Will there be mistakes made? Will there be hardships? Absolutely.  I believe that the vast majority of those voting “yes” realize it will not be an easy transition made up of sunshine and rainbows. There will be failures along the way, like any great nation has, but it isn’t about if they fail but how they recover. With all my heart, I truly believe that if ever there were a people who could overcome the hardships and shine it would be the Scots.

I know, I am one tiny voice, far away. My vote doesn’t even count. If you’re in Scotland, and your voice does count then consider this: would you want your children to stay in a marriage where they were not equals and there wasn’t a foundation of trust for them to build on? Would you tell them they can go it alone? That it wouldn’t be easy but they would be the masters of their own destiny?

#VoteYes #ScotlandDecides #VoteYesScotland #Letsdothis #indiref #freescotland

Simple Pleasures

I sat staring at the row of candles in front of me.  I had recently started playing a game where I would line up ten candles.  Five different colors with two each.  I would then draw marbles of various colors out of a small sack. Alternating between lighting the candle and extinguishing the next until I managed to have all the candles lit.  Some days I would put time constraints or a number of moves into the mix.  What it was doing was helping me become more comfortable switching between elements quickly.  Usually, this is a peaceful exercise I can doing quietly on my own.  Until last night.

I was about five minutes into my exercise when Dani and Oliver arrived. Oliver was trying to position himself for a slot on the council.  He desperately wanted Dani to pose as his committed mate. She of course had not intention of doing any such thing. The somewhat loud discussion continued as they joined me in the living room.

“Kat, tell Dani that she should choose me over that scaley Dragon she was canoodling with last week.  I will treat her like the princess she deserves to be treated as.  I will worship her.” To prove his point he droped to one knee and her hand in his and began to sing.

Dani in turn rolled her eyes and snatched her hand back. “Can you believe this?” she asked me.

“That he just used the word canoodling to describe the royally hard fu…” Dani cut me off with an angry glare. I shrugged.  “Yes, I agree.  Oliver, the word canoodling is so out. Update your vocab buddy.” With a flick of the wrist I extinguished the blue candles and lit the red ones.

“That’s not what I meant and you know it.” Dani shot me a warning look.

Sighing heavily I lit the yellow candles and extinguished the red. I turned slightly to look at Oliver. “Dude you are the hottest piece of Vampire ass I have ever seen. She however just doesn’t feel the way. I think it’s time for you to move on.” Looking at the marbles in my hand I extinguished the yellow candles and relit the blue ones. “And as for the Dragons, I got to tell you man, they certainly know how to talk nerdy to a girl.  Handsome and intellectual is hard to compete with. Even for an Adonis like yourself.”

Oliver and Dani both sounded exasperated as they sat on the couch.

“But the kitty said…” Oliver argued.

“I don’t give a damn what Sheldon promised you. No, I don’t want to date a Vampire. No, I don’t want to be your lover and no, I don’t want to be your permanent donor.” To emphasize this point she crossed her arms over her chest with a huff.

I lit all the candles at once and extinguished them each one at a time. As I was gathering up the candles to put them away Ian came in, quieter than usual. “Hey Wolfy, how was your day?”

He shrugged. No answer, just a shrug.  “That good?”

He looked up at me with sad eyes. “Because I had to take time off with the Vampire scare I can’t compete in the Otherworld games next week.  I’m just a little bummed.”

“Would you like to have steak for dinner?” I offered him his favorite food hoping to cheer him up.

“Actually, I was thinking of packing up some clothes and staying at my place this week.  I have a ton of grading to get caught up on.” He shoved a few things in a backpack before coming into the living room to say hello. Before I could pull him to the side to talk to him one on one he had given me a kiss and left.

“Great, just what I need: an Emo Werewolf.” Dani shot me a glance with a certain amount of concern.

“Are you and Ian alright?” She asked.

“Yeah, he’s just a little bummed.” I swallowed hard and closed my eyes leaning back against the couch.

With another half hour of discussion we were able to convince Oliver that Dani really meant no. When he finally left she and I exchanged looks. “Sushi and Coffee?” I asked.

She shuttered and looked sick. “How about pizza and chocolate?” she offered. I laughed and nodded.  She bounced out of the apartment to grab chocolate and I called and ordered pizza.

When she returned she came bearing chocolate and coffee.  “I think I love you.” I told her.

She laughed and smiled. “I know, I’m a good wifey.  Love you too.”

We allowed the most recent episode of Doctor Who to drown our sorrows as we waited for the pizza. Sometimes the most simple moments in life are the ones filled with the most joy.

 

 

Elven Baking 2

I’ve spent the last week surrounded by Dragons and exploring my dark side.  Balance is the key to a happy life, so I rearranged my apartment so I would have more sun in my office and dug out some of my Elven text books.

Inside one of the chapters was a recipe for Clarity Bread.  Supposedly, baking and eating this bread would help clear up any questions the eater was struggling with.  When I reviewed the recipe it sounded a lot like Cardamom Bread to me.  I have included the recipe here in case you would also like to try it.

Ingredients

2.5 cups of flour

1.5 cups of sugar

1 cup of buttermilk

.5 cup of veggie oil

2 eggs

1 Tblspn of ground Cardamom

1 tspn of Cinnamon

1 tspn of ground Clove

1 tspn of baking soda

Optional: Quarter cup of raisins or finely chopped walnuts

1) Beat eggs and sugar together then add in oil.  Mix until thoroughly blended.

2) In a 2nd bowl combine all the dry ingredients and mix well

3) Alternate between adding the buttermilk and dry mixture to your eggs/oil and sugar mixture until all ingredients are completely mixed

4) Pour mixture into greased nonstick/lined nonstick loaf pan.  (it really likes to hold on)

5) Bake for about an hour at 175 degrees Celsius

6) Carefully remove from pan and let cool for at least an hour before slicing and serving

After burning the first 2 loaves because I forgot them after an hour I successfully ended up with an edible loaf.  It was sweet and a little spicy.  It made me feel like I was being hugged from the inside out.  I focused on my problems concerning my jumble of feeling about Ian and Hue.  One name came came to mind and it was enough to make me almost chuck the rest of the loaf.

“Alathea.” Her name hung on my lips despite the sneer it caused. With a few deep breaths I sat down at my computer and typed her an email.

To: Alathea

From: Kat

Subject: Can we talk?

Dear Alathea,

I know you and I have had our differences but I believe you may have some insight into a particular problem I am struggling with. If you could make time in your busy schedule to meet with me, I would be honored for you to bestow some of your wisdom on me.  We can meet virtually or I can realm hop and meet in a neutral realm.  Please let me know.

Sincerely,

Alizeyah, Tempest

 

I took a few deep cleansing breaths and went to clean up the kitchen.  I was just finishing up the washing on my mixing bowls when my phone buzzed.  Picking it up I saw a response to my email.

 

To: Kat

From: Alizeyah

Subject: Re: Can we talk?

Dear Alizeyah,

As a member of the Elven High Council I will always make time to meet with the Elven Tempest to discuss any matter I can be of assistance with.  I will be at the preliminary meetings this week for the Otherworld Games.  Let’s meet in the Realm of the Four Kingdoms.  The Werewolf Clans are hosting this year, Marthailain should be able to provide you with the location details you will need to get here.  Come find me when you’re ready, and I will tell you anything I know.

Sincerely,

Alathea

I let out a slow breath, staring at my phone’s screen.  “Here we go again.” I said to myself and wondered how much more of the bread I should really eat.

 

Homecoming

Stretching away the last of a good nights sleep, I tried not to yawn as I wandered into the main hall of the Dragon Lair.  I was just getting ready to settle down in a chair near the fireplace when I had to do a double take.  The three stooges (my secret name for Hudraer, Vallen and Gurren when they were together) marched in wearing kilts and nothing else.  I shook my head, hoping the marble would return to the proper place.  “Why are you dressed like that?” I asked before I could disengage my mouth.

“We’re meeting with the Werewolves about the annual Otherworld Games.” Gurren shoved his foot into a boot.

“But you’re not Scottish?!?!?” I pointed out with exasperation.

“So, kilts are comfortable, and show off the male form very well.  My legs are a gift from the Goddesses,” answered Vallen.

“Really?  Otherworld Games?”  I knew I was going to regret it.

Hue smiled wickedly at me.  “Oh yes, it’s when all the different species get together, drink to much and embrace our inferiority complexes.” He winked at me.  Sometimes, I really hated that he could read me so easily.  “Do you want to come?”

“No!” I said with a resounding flat tone.

Closing the gap between us Hue sank to his knee before me.  “You should give me a kiss for good luck!  I will be representing our nest in the upcoming games.” His eyebrows arched suggestively at me.

Placing my foot square in the center of his chest I kicked him hoping to knock him back.  Instead I tipped my chair over backwards.  With a loud crack I hit the floor.  I glared angrily up at him.  “Ugh.  It’s too early for this.  When will Ian be back?” I complained.

Emotions flitted across Hue’s face as he reached out to help me up.  “Soon, he should be back tonight.  Are you sure you don’t want to come with us?  May be good to get you out for a bit.”  I could feel the silky caress of his mind on mine.  I promise not to be jealous as you stare at dozens of men wearing nothing but kilts.

Gleaming plaid sex wasn’t even enough to convince me that this was something I wanted to do.  With a deep breath I leaned onto my tip toes and pressed a kiss to Hue’s cheek.  “Good Luck with the negotiations,” I mumbled before turning to head back to bed.  “Wake me when you return.”

I heard the three laughing as I left the room.

Back in my mother’s chamber I sank back into the blankets, allowing them to lure me back to sleep.

I awoke some time later to hands running over my arms.  I snuggled close to the new heat source, breathing in the thick masculine scent.  I knew this one well.  My eyes fluttered open as a smile pulled at the corner of my mouth.  “Ian?” I whispered.

“Shhhh, yes Kat.”

I pushed him down on the bed, tugged the blankets up over us and settled my head into the crook of his shoulder.  “I’m glad you’re back but we need to talk.”  I hated giving bad news.

“You and Hudraer are blood bound, I know.” He nuzzled the top of my head.

“And I kissed him.” I whispered.

“I know.” he played with my hair. “I can smell him on you.  You can’t wash away a blood bond.”

“Why are you so calm about this?” I was concerned about his peaceful demeanor.

“Well, for starters while we are together neither of us has declared the other as our mate.  We are not bound formally and as much as you are going to hate this next part… you’re very young still.  You’re still figuring out who you are.  Yes, you’re an adult by Human standards.  In the Human world devoid of magic you are perfectly capable of existing on your own.  In this world though, one filled with new magic and evils you’re like an eighteen year old.  Sure, you can make your own decisions but those of us around you who love you know you’re going to make mistakes still and that you don’t totally understand everything yet.  It’s the same way for Dani.”  He nuzzled my neck and nipped at the tender skin there.

“Did you just call me a child?” I asked, pushing away his head so I could look him in the eye.

Humor settled over his features. “Not so much a child as an unruly teenager who thinks she knows everything.”

“So immature?” I asked feeling my blood begin to boil.

“Yes… I mean no… maybe?” he offered with a wolfy grin. He took my moment of hesitation to drag the dress I was wearing off over my head. His gaze burned over me.  Grasping my hips he lowered his head capturing the peak of one of my breasts in his mouth.

I shoved him free. “You sir are too old for me then.  You… dirty old wolf!” I started to reach for the dress when he rolled over and pinned me under him.  “Oh no!  No boobs for you!  You’re grounded from the boobies!”

He gave me a mocking pout. “But I missed the boobies while I was gone fighting Vampires.”

“You should have thought about that before calling me immature.” I managed to reach my dress and tug it on over my head, then climb to my feet. “Is it safe to go home?”

He shrugged sitting up. “Safe enough.  Oliver’s boys have done an amazing job cleaning out the city. If he keeps it up, Marthailain may have no choice but to offer him a local position with the council. It would be a huge step for the Vampire community if he did.”

“What do you mean?” curiosity outweighing my anger.

“Vampires don’t have the best reputation within the community.  They have the ability to change any creature into a Darkling.  The last Vampire to have a seat on the OAC was Dracula. He was a hero to his people.  He protected them at all costs, but as the years passed he couldn’t help but reveal his nature to Humans.  He needed acceptance.  Now he is the butt end of so many jokes and Halloween parties that Vampires across all realms get the short end of the stick.”

“So Dracula was really a Vampire?!?!” The shock was still in my voice despite my best efforts.

“You’re going to have to stop saying things like that if you want us all to think less of you as an unruly teen,” he teased.

I stuck out my tongue at him.  If he wanted immature, I would show him immature.

His voice was silky smooth and almost seductive. “Don’t extend the offer, if you don’t plan on the follow through.”

I retracted my tongue and snapped my mouth shut.  “Let’s pack up and go home.”

An hour later Dani and I were packed and standing in the center of the large hall saying our farewells.  My mother, Jura, hugged me tightly and made me promise I would come back very soon.  She wanted to teach me some old Dragon cooking recipes.  I resisted the urge to ask if the directions were: set it on fire then eat.

Hue embraced me tightly letting the emotions and thoughts flow between us.  You don’t have to leave yet, if you don’t want to. This is your Nest and home too.

I smiled against his chest. I know.  I’ll be back soon, Jura is insisting on teaching me to cook.  I felt him shudder within my arms.

Let Juliana teach you, please.  If you make it, I’ll eat it but I would rather it taste good. I chuckled at his insight.

Ian says I’m immature like an unruly teenager.  Is that really how everyone sees me? His grip tightened on me and for a split second there was a surge of anger.

Immature, no.  You are full of courage, strength and discipline.  At the same time you are full of life and understand there are plenty of reasons to smile and laugh.  Are you young? Yes, but by the same measure I am as well.  We’re Dragons, we’ll be young until we’re almost a thousand.  The only others of the races that have our life spans are Elves and Vampires.  Ian has had a rough life, his innocence was taken from him by force.  I dare say he thinks I’m immature as well. Something about Hue’s words made me feel a thousand times better.  Maybe it was because I could feel they weren’t hollow because I felt his every emotions.

I’m going to miss you. The thought slipped out before I could push it to the back of my mind.

His grip on me tightened almost unbearably and I could feel he didn’t want to let go of me either.  I’ll miss you too. Return to me soon.

When finally we released each other everyone was standing around a little uncomfortably.  “Goodbye everyone.  Thank you for the safe haven and flying lessons.  I’ll be back soon.”

With the last of our waves I pulled out my bead and took the four of us home.  Dani and Ian both looked at the clock on the warily.

Dani broke the silence. “Is it Sunday or Monday?”

Sheldon, whom I had seen little of the last week and a half murmured from inside his carrier that it was Monday. Dani swore loudly and dug through her belongings to find her cellphone While she explained to her boss she would be in late today Ian dressed for work. Within fifteen minutes of our arrival I was alone for the first time in a week and a half.

“What am I going to do with all this peace and quiet?” I asked my empty apartment.

I bent my knees deeply, pushing my weight heavily into the floor of the vault.  I listened carefully to each set of instructions as Hue walked in a large encircling pattern.  “Now, reach out and connect with Fire, when you are connected pull it across the ground and through your body.”

Closing my eyes, I called out to the sacred Fire element.  It responded quickly, allowing itself to be pulled towards and into me.  My entire body felt like it was burning.  I felt the panic rush through me with the Fire.  Immediately I felt Hue there touching my mind and giving me strength.  You’re safe.  Relax, let the element fill you.  You’re half Dragon, it will not hurt you.  His hand squeezed my shoulder where he had come to stand behind me.

“It’s too hot, I’m being burned.”  I tried to say.

“No you’re not.  Open your eyes, Alizeyah.”  His words were a command but sounded like the soft coos we use on babies.  With a deep breath I opened one eye and then the other.

My skin was glowing just beneath its surface.  It looked like little wisps of white flames would roll across my skin before disappearing again.  I felt my breathing settle as I realized Hue was right, I wasn’t in any danger.  “Now what?”

I resisted the urge to melt at the sound of his deep chested chuckle behind me. “From panic to demands in less than twenty seconds.  Alright, focus on pulling Earth around you as well.”

Doing as he said I felt the cool stony strength of the element seep into me.  It felt as if it and Fire danced within me.  A feeling of dizziness overtook me and once again I found myself thankful for Hue’s steadying hand on my shoulder.

Without prompting he began speaking again.  “Now, focus on armor wrapping your body.”  He withdrew his hand from my shoulder. “Then push the elements to the surface of your body, it my hurt a little or burn at first.”

With one deep breath, I did as he said.  Hurt a little could have been the understatement of the year.  I felt like someone was holding molten metal to my skin. I resisted the urge to cry out and the pain lessened.  I looked down and sure enough in gleaming white and gold glory was armor.  It looked almost identical to what I had worn the day I faced my aunt.

Hudraer’s breath came as a gasp, the single word “perfect” clung to his lips like a whisper.

I turned to face him, and with a large arcing motion called forth my sword and shield.  He cracked a smile that ran the width of his face.  “So, how’d I do?” I asked

Nodding and stepping close, I didn’t resist when he reached past the weapons, grabbed me by the waist and pulled me against him.  He lowered his mouth to mine, capturing it.  I dropped the sword and shield to the ground ignoring the loud clatter they made as they hit it.  His kiss was so soft on my lips it almost tickled.  I parted my lips to him as his tongue traced the bottom curve of my lower lip.  All the energy from the element rushed out of me, taking all my strength and energy with them.  I had to cling to Hue to keep from crumbling to the ground.

Sensing the change in me, he made what felt like an effortless movement and swept my legs from under me in a fluid motion, catching me behind the knees.  He lifted me cradling me against him.  Our bond created this loop of pleasure, allowing us to feel what the other was experiencing along with our own. With my body now pressed against him this deep possessive need to protect and keep washed over Hue.  He carried me to a large stone table at the far side of the chamber of the vault.  I thought he would set me down there but instead, he turned and sat down drawing me onto his lap.  His arms maintained their grip on me like bands of steep keeping me pinned to his chest.

His kiss deepened and I felt myself relax against his body as the mixture of both his and my pleasure ran through me.  I reached up to run hands through his hair and pull him closer.  Suddenly, I felt like I couldn’t get close enough.  I broke the kiss long enough to shift in his arms.  He refused to let go but didn’t resist me turning to in his grip to face him and straddle his hips.  Instead, he ran his hands over my now bare skin and took a moment to sweep his gaze over my body.  I leaned close capturing his mouth with my own this time.

One of his hands slid up capturing my breast in his hand.  My breath caught in my throat and Hue moaned softly against my mouth feeling my response.  His other hand pressed my hips against him.  I could feel his own excitement and need bubbling just below the surface.  It made it even more painful when he grabbed my shoulders and pushed me back. “We shouldn’t do this.  You’ll feel guilty towards Ian later.”

I released a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding. “The things we can’t have always taste the sweetest.” I mumbled.

He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to the tip of my nose. “Oh, I plan to have you, and keep you.  I’m just willing to wait until I can have all of you.”

I slid from his lap realizing that I was naked again.  Playing with fire is bad for my wardrobe.  I did my best to cover myself.  Hue reached out and moved my hands to hang by my side.  His gaze scorched me, leaving me feeling exposed. His face was filled with pure adoration, not judgement or lust as I would have expected. Why are you blushing? Why do you feel so bewildered by me? His voice swirled around my head.

I feel like you can see all my imperfections.  I started to cross my arms in front of my body again.

He slid off the tabletop and came to stand in front of me. Never be ashamed of who you are, especially in front of me.  When I see you, I don’t see imperfections. I see the best part of myself. He wrapped his arms around me lovingly and rested his chin on my head. “If you are ever doubting yourself.  If you are ever afraid, come to me and I will always see you for who you are.”

I wrapped my arms around his waist buried my face in his chest. “I feel at home, right here.  I know, I shouldn’t, but I do.”

Hudraer chuckled and reached up to stroke my hair. “I am honored to know you feel like that.  Just remember, you can always come home.”  He dropped his arms and pulled free of my grasp.  “Let’s find you something to wear.” He left the empty chamber his vault and went to another.  When he returned, he was carrying a white and blue dress that looked more like a toga than dress.  “It’s a little out of date but should keep you from flashing the locals.” I mumbled my thanks as I accepted and tugged it on over my head.

“How do I look?” I asked giving a little twirl.

“Aphrodite may be jealous.” His grin made my knees weak.

Squaring my shoulders back, I made my way out to the stairs and waited for him to lock up.  “Ready?” I asked as he joined me on a lower step.

“You had a good day, so yes.  Let’s go find dinner.”

 

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