Authors: Bianca D'Arc
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #Erotica, #Fiction, #General, #Dragons
“Well, there are the big crossbows that hit you, and then he’s got some catapult things that throw big chunks of sharp stuff that can slice through dragon scale. Tor got hit with that just once and he was bleeding from about a dozen cuts. We got out of there fast and learned how to avoid them as much as possible. Salomar has also used his witch against us several times. She has this way of slipping into Tor’s mind and making him do what she wants. I didn’t even notice it at first. She’s very subtle. But when I realized we were heading for a trap I was able to cut her connection with Tor, pull him back through our link and turn him away from the warriors waiting to take him down.”
“I’ve never heard of such a thing.” Hal’s eyes narrowed in thought.
“Are you certain about this witch? Few females can even talk to dragons, 68
much less influence one to that degree. Maybe it’s because he’s so young?”
Lana shook her head. “I saw her make Tor’s mother forget all about her egg and fly away without a second look. It’s not because he’s young.”
“That’s criminal! Deliberately separating a mother and her baby.”
Candis looked truly outraged and it warmed Lana’s heart.
“Tell us how you came to care for Tor.” Roland’s soft voice took her out of her anger and back to the past.
“I was a slave in Salomar’s household. He threw me in with the egg and barred the exit so neither of us could get out. I was to keep the fires lit so the egg stayed warm. After a while, I realized by accident that I could talk with the baby inside if I touched the shell. After he grew more, we could talk even when I wasn’t touching the shell. Then he hatched.”
Her eyes misted in memory. “Salomar thought I would be his first meal but Tor ate the dogs he loosed on me instead. From that moment to this, he’s protected me every bit and more than I’ve looked after him. When he got big enough and could fly, we escaped and have been running and hiding ever since.”
“You are a brave and noble woman, milady.” Hal bowed his head to her, his eyes solemn as the others followed suit. She was overwhelmed by their show of respect and unable to answer such compliments.
Roland hugged her close, tucking her blushing cheek against his chest. “I agree,” he said softly, though all of them heard his words.
“You’re a treasure, Lana. You saved my life.”
She moved back a bit to look up at him. “Don’t forget Tor.”
Roland chuckled. “How could I forget Tor? He’s a miracle, as are you—the only woman ever known to tame a wild northern Ice Dragon.
Bards will sing of you for generations to come, I’m sure.”
They all laughed at his grand statement and Lana was back to blushing, but the mood was considerably lighter. They talked for a few more minutes about plans for the rest of their stay in the Northern Lair and preparations they could make to defend against the new weapons that might be brought against them all. Finally though, the agenda was set and Lana could tell Roland was in a bit of pain from his still-healing wounds.
“Lady Candis, do you think you could find something for Lana to wear?” Roland stood and all the rest followed suit. “I’d like to show her around the Lair a bit and I promised her a stop at the baths.”
“I think we can come up with something that will work for the time being.” The other woman smiled in her friendly way and stood, motioning for Lana to join her. “Come with me, my dear, and we’ll see what we can find in my closet.”
Lana went with the other woman, comforted by her easy manner. The dragons were still out of the suite and she looked curiously at the big, empty oval of sand as they skirted it on their way to another of the many rooms arranged around the sand pit.
“I’ve never seen so much sand in one place before,” Lana commented.
Lady Candis appeared surprised but smiled warmly. “The dragons love it. The fine grains polish their hides and the warmth appeals to them, of course. Our rooms are built around their wallow and as you can see, the arches are wide enough that they can lay their heads in the doors of most of our rooms, so we can all be together almost anywhere in this suite.”
“It’s ingenious.” A moment later, they entered a big room with a huge bed at its center. The walls were hung with rich fabrics so colorful they brought tears to her eyes. “Oh, this room is beautiful!” Lana’s words were heartfelt as her eyes absorbed the lovely mix of colors and textures.
“Thank you,” Candis said quietly, watching Lana with interest. Lana knew her reactions must seem strange to the other woman, but she just couldn’t help herself.
“It’s just that…” Lana tried to find the right words to express herself.
“I’ve been on the run for a long time, living in the wild with Tor. I remember a little from the time before, when I lived with my mother and sisters, but it’s been so long, and we never had such fine things.” Her voice trailed off as her emotions threatened to overwhelm her. Candis surprised her by placing a sisterly arm around her shoulders, hugging her comfortingly.
“Come on, Lana. Let’s find something gorgeous for you to wear.” She pulled her toward the large closet along one wall. “I bet I have just the thing to bring out your beautiful eyes and impress the heck out of Roland.”
Lana felt her cheeks heat with a blush. “He’s seen me at my worst already, Lady Candis. I doubt anything could change his opinion of me.
Besides, he’s much too grand for the likes of me.”
“Nonsense!” Candis swept a shining green dress out of the closet, splashing the full skirt across the bed. Lana caught her breath at its beauty. “He’s smitten with you already. I can tell. This will finish the job, and luckily it’s cut well enough that it will fit you properly, even though you’re a bit shorter than me.”
“Oh! I couldn’t wear that.” Lana backed away from the temptation of the gorgeous satin dress.
Candis picked it up and draped it against Lana’s shoulders. “Of course you can. What’s more, it’s yours now. A welcome gift from me to you. I hope you wear it in happiness.”
Lana held out her hands to gently fend her off, but Candis draped the dress over her arms, not taking no for an answer. Lana protested a bit www.samhainpublishing.com 71
more, but Candis eventually got her way, ushering Lana out of the chamber, the new owner of a lovely, green satin dress.
Before she knew it, Lana was walking beside Roland through the corridors of the Northern Lair. The few people they passed bowed slightly as they passed, making her feel a bit self-conscious, but there was real respect in the people’s eyes, not just formal obedience, which impressed her. She realized Roland was royalty, probably a prince, though he hadn’t told her exactly what place he held in the kingdom and she was too flustered to ask.
They made their way to the landing ledge and Lana found herself scanning the skies for any sign of Tor. There were so many dragons! It was a breathtaking sight to see. Tears came to her eyes as she spotted Tor frolicking through the air, his scales glistening brighter than any other. He was playing a game of tag with his little friend Rena, slowing his flight, she knew, to allow the littler baby dragon to catch him up. She saw the cliffs all around were dotted with perched dragons, all eyes watching the Ice Dragonet in their midst.
“Why are they all watching him like that?”
Roland put a reassuring arm around her shoulders.
“They’re fascinated by him, I think. Ice Dragons are the stuff of legend, even here. Plus, they’re watching his flight patterns. He’s the first wild dragon we’ve seen in my lifetime. Maybe longer than that. All of them,” he pointed to indicate the scores of dragons watching from the cliffs, “were trained to fly the same way. Just as I was. We all know the same tricks and the same flight patterns. Tor presents a unique chance to see how a wild dragon flies. I can attest to the fact that he has tricks none of us have ever even considered trying. We can learn a lot from him, especially how he manages to evade Salomar’s new weapons.”
She liked the respect she heard in Roland’s voice. “He’ll be happy, I’m sure, to show you what he knows. He was hurt many times by those weapons before he figured out what to do to avoid them. He has a good heart, Roland, and he won’t want to see any other dragons injured, captured, or even killed by Salomar and his men.”
“I was hoping that would be the case.” He turned her in his arms, catching and holding her gaze. “I meant what I said. You and Tor have a new home here in Draconia, with me. Not just because we can learn from you, but because you belong here, Lana. Both of you need to be with others of your kind. Tor needs other dragons and you need to reunite with your family.” He pulled her in for a quick kiss. “And I need you, Lana. I need you in my life.”
“Oh, Roland.” He cut off what she would have said with his kiss, deep and lingering, and hot. She felt his desire, though she’d never experienced a man’s ardor before meeting Roland.
At length he drew back and Lana finally noticed the grins aimed at them from other knights in the area. She blushed to the roots of her fiery hair as Roland chuckled, hugging her close.
“Come on.” He turned her, keeping one strong arm around her shoulders as he walked them away from the ledge. “Now you’ve seen for yourself that Tor’s fine, how about the bath I promised you?”
Roland grabbed some clean towels, scented soaps and lotions from the anteroom right in front of the main entrance to the Lair’s communal baths. He had a hard time hiding his desire, but Lana was so innocent, she barely noticed the evidence of his fierce arousal. Sweet Mother, how she set him aflame!
She was like no other woman he had ever known, and he’d known more than his share of beauties. All those other women meant nothing to him since meeting Lana. She was the only woman in the world who mattered. Her soft smile, her gentle voice, her undying loyalty to the dragonet—all those things made him admire her and want her in his life.
Her unvarnished beauty and exciting, healing touch also made him want her in his bed.
“The air is so moist and heavy.” Her green eyes were wide as she went forward with him, cautiously, into the large cavern.
“The pools here are heated by the earth beneath. The waters are full of minerals that are good for your health and kind to the skin.” He guided her into the main chamber, pointing to the various pools and amenities. “There’s one large pool for swimming and play. It’s not quite as hot as the bathing pools, but still therapeutic for strained muscles and good for exercise.” He pointed to the largest, closest of the pools and she was shocked to see a few men there, swimming naked through the water.
“Are those men knights?”
He saw her wide, innocent eyes glued to one man’s ass as he cut his way through the water and Roland realized with an inner growl that he didn’t want her looking at other men. Only him. The dragon inside him reared up in defiance. She was his. Didn’t she know that?
Roland pulled her around to face him as gently as he could manage, but he could tell he’d startled her. At times it was hard to reconcile his dragon instincts with his human side. He took a deep breath to try to calm himself before speaking.
“The only man you need be interested in is before you, Lana.” He held her firmly, reading confusion in her eyes that made him feel like a jealous idiot. He released her, lifting each finger individually off her arm.
It was that difficult for him to get control of his more primitive emotions.
“To answer your question, all the men in this Lair are either knights or the sons of knights. The youngsters tend to various tasks in the Lair as they get older, and many are chosen by dragons if they’re good, honorable lads, when their time comes. Those who aren’t chosen as knights often find service with the army or the royal guard.”
“Are they all warriors then?”
He was glad to see she seemed merely curious. “No, not all, but most.
All children who grow up in a Lair study the fighting arts to some degree.
Many choose to follow the path of the warrior even if they aren’t chosen as knights. There are notable exceptions, of course. My friend Drake is the son of a knight and also a highly regarded bard. Drake left his family and Lair at a young age to study abroad. My brother sees him often in his travels and teases Drake that if he’d stayed in Draconia, he’d no doubt be a knight by now. But Drake just shakes his head and laughs.
Still, I think there’s more to him than just clever tales and rhyme. And I know the dragons think so too. But he’s stubborn.”
Roland shrugged, dismissing the thoughts of his friend and motioned Lana forward again. He steered her gently toward the carved half-wall separating the main pool from several others at the rear of the huge chamber. He stopped in front of a dimly lit, more private pool, smaller than the others, with bubbles rising clearly on the surface of the faintly metallic-smelling water.
“This pool is one of my favorites. It’s a bit hotter than the others, but the water is effervescent and very relaxing.” It was his dragon nature that enjoyed the higher temperatures, and he’d bet Lana would enjoy it as well, being half-dragon herself.
He watched her carefully as she stepped to the rim, bending to run her hand through the water. Smiling, her eyes lit with pleasure and he knew he’d been right. She couldn’t be a more perfect match for him—
even in this small, seemingly insignificant way.
“The bubbles tickle! And it’s so warm.”
Lana stood, turning to him. She gasped when she saw he was already naked. Roland draped the towels he’d brought over a handy bench and stepped forward to take Lana’s hand. She was frightened, he could tell by the slight tremble of her fingers, but so far curiosity seemed to be outweighing fear. Her gaze tracked over him from head to toe, lingering in the middle, on the proof of his desire pointing, hard and ready, at the woman it most wanted in all the world.
“You know,” Roland stalked forward, “being half-dragon makes me a bit different from most men, but then,” his hands moved gently to the lacings of her top, “you’re half-dragon as well.” He slowly untied the lacings on her clothes, tugging gently as he bared her luscious skin inch by inch. Her eyes widened and fire flared in their depths, but she raised no objection. The dragon in him rumbled in pleasure. “It should be interesting for both of us, being with our own kind. I bet,” he bared her 76
breasts with one smooth move, allowing her top to fall away down over her smooth shoulders, “neither of us will have to hold back with the other. We can share all that we are, with no fear. It will be a novel experience.”
“I don’t want to be just a novelty to you, Roland.” Lana’s spine straightened as he pushed her pants down those lovely, long legs, but she didn’t stop him. He felt the hunger grow sharper as he rose, facing her once more.
Roland stilled, cupping her neck in one broad palm and drawing her forward as their gazes locked and held. His lips traced over hers lightly, in a gentle salute, before he drew back to rest his forehead against hers.
“I keep forgetting how innocent you are. Forgive me, sweetheart.”
Roland sighed and his warm breath stirred her hair. “The beast inside me wants to trumpet to the heavens, drag you to my lair and spend the rest of my days making love to you.” He felt her shiver and she surprised him by leaning up to place a tiny kiss on the side of his mouth.
“Then why don’t you?” Kicking off her shoes, she stepped out of the pants that had pooled around her ankles, flinging them away with one foot as she lingered within his embrace.
“Right now you don’t need the beast, Lana. You need the man. I don’t want to hurt you or scare you. I want you to feel safe with me.”
She moved even closer, wrapping her hands around his neck. She laid her cheek in the hollow of his shoulder, snuggling into him like a warm kitten. He reveled in the heat of her that nearly matched his own.
He’d had his share of women since he was a young lad, but never had he found one so perfectly matched to him. Never had a woman felt so right, nor been so unafraid of his fire. Roland’s body temperature rose as the dragon prowled in his soul, but she just cuddled closer, completely unafraid of his fire.
“You’ve kept me safe ‘til now. I’ve never trusted anyone the way I trust you, Roland.”
He cupped her curvy ass in his broad hands, holding her close for long moments. Splashing sounds from the other side of the wall reminded him they were not alone in the large chamber, though their private tub was well out of the line of sight of the main area. Still, others could walk back here easily enough to use one of the nearby pools.
Though none would intrude on their pool unless invited—he was royalty after all—they would feel free using the other smaller pools nearby, he knew. A few of the men would probably come back here just to get a better look at Lana. Women who could live among dragons were rare and rumors were probably already flying about Lana and the remarkable entrance she’d made with Tor.
“Let’s get in the water.”
He squeezed her once before lifting her high in his arms. She was light as a feather, her skin warm and supple, and her eyes glowed with fire and fun as he looked down at her. He had to stop a moment and kiss her. He couldn’t wait to feel her lips under his.
With a rumbling groan, he plundered her mouth, turning her in his embrace as he paused just at the edge of the small pool. Her warm skin tantalized him, her responsive mouth drugged him. Only the sounds of male voices and more splashing from the other side of the cavern roused him. For himself, Roland didn’t care who witnessed him taking his woman, but he knew she was inexperienced and probably a little shy. He didn’t want to shock her too much their first time out, but there would come a time…oh yes, indeed, there would be time for them to let loose and indulge all their desires.
Tugging his mouth away, even as she tried to follow and bring him back to her kiss, Roland stepped down the carved ledge into the bubbling 78
water. He moved slowly, dipping her into the water step by step, letting her acclimate to the temperature. It was hotter than most human women would enjoy, he knew, but he reveled in the knowledge she was like him, half-dragon within her soul. Because of that and the way she’d been forced to live to this point, she was totally out of his realm of experience when it came to women.
He liked that. He liked the idea that she was as new to him as he was to her. For once, a relationship with a female would start off on even footing. If he had the true measure of Lana, it would remain so, and oddly, he liked that idea even more. They were superbly matched. He felt like growling in triumph, but tamped his innate aggression down as much as he could manage.
“Is it too hot?” he asked, concern for her put above his desire.
She lowered her legs as he released them. “No, it’s lovely. So warm and bubbly. I like it.”
He saw the fire leap in her eyes as the water burst in bubbles against her delicate skin. She was a sensuous marvel to him, so innocent, yet so wanton. He showed her briefly how to use the scrubbing sand he’d brought to gently rub her soft skin and indulged himself in the pleasant task of soaping up her beautiful auburn hair. His fingers sunk deep into her tresses and massaged her scalp, her back to his front as she let him touch her, closing her eyes and making sultry, little sounds of pleasure in the back of her throat as he worked.
“Roland?” Her voice sounded hesitant and he paused slightly, fighting to keep his erection away from her for just a little longer. He didn’t want to scare her off.
“Can I ask you a question?”
He paused to kiss her shoulder. “You can ask me anything you want at any time. I’ll do my best to answer, though I don’t promise to know everything.”
“It’s about, um, your friends Candis, Jures and Hal. Um.”
He peeked over her shoulder amused by the way she was biting the corner of one luscious lip. He fought the fierce desire to turn her and nibble on her lips himself.
“Well, I was wondering how that works. One woman and two men.
Are they married like my parents were? Is it a permanent thing? And why do they do it? I noticed several other trios in the halls as we walked. Is that normal here?”
Her voice was pitched low but he clearly heard the curiosity and the slight catch in her words. Perhaps she was a bit more than curious.
Intrigued, might be a good word, he thought, as the dragon in him roared to life. He had to fight against half his nature to keep his calm and answer her innocent question.
“Yes, it’s normal for knights of mated dragons to share a wife between them. Because the knights bond deeply and permanently with their dragon partners, when the dragons mate, the knights are often overcome by the mating frenzy. It’s the reason dragons are forbidden to mate unless their knight partner also has a mate. Without a mate to love and share their passion, the knight would soon run mad, and just a casual sex partner won’t suffice. There must be the depth of emotion—love and passion—to sate the frenzy. Just as it is for the dragons.”
“But dragons only have one mate, right?”
He couldn’t help it. His arms tightened around her reflexively, bringing her back in close to his chest, her sweet round ass against his hardness. She gasped and stiffened only for a moment, then relaxed into him, soothing his volatile temper.
“We dragons mate for life. One mate only. So you’ll never have to even think about being shared between two knights, Lana. You are mine alone.”
She gasped and pulled away, turning to face him. “That sounds pretty serious, Roland.”
He stalked toward her. “I am serious. I told you before. I want you in my life. I’m no knight to share my woman with another husband. I’m a dragon and I want you all to myself, so you can just forget any ideas you had about any other man right now.”
She laughed, stilling him instantly. Why in the world did she find him funny?
“Oh, Roland, I don’t want another man.” She blushed furiously, enchanting him. “I was just curious about your people and how they live.
Candis seems happy with her mates but I don’t think I could do that.”
He closed the remaining distance between them and pulled her into his arms loosely, sighing. He had to get control of his temper, lest he frighten her off.
“You won’t ever have to do anything you don’t want to do, Lana. The Mother of All guides the knights and dragons in their choice of mates. I doubt She will be guiding any knight or dragon to you.” He kissed her sweetly then pulled back and held her gaze as he brought his hard body against her lower half. She gasped. “I found you first.”