August 2016 Newsletter
“Chains & Flames”
from DRAGON ACTUALLY
Available Now in Print and Coming soon to audio!
Rhiannon spent the hour before dawn trying to undo whatever her mother had done to her so she could shift back to dragon. But to no avail.
She missed her dragon self. She missed her wings and her talons. She missed being able to take a horse for a quick meal.
But most importantly, she felt unsafe in this human body. She poked at her skin and it hurt. She dug her nail into her forearm and it bled. By the gods! How do these humans live like this?
And then there was Bercelak. She thought for sure he’d come to her last night. He’d come to Claim her. And she’d been prepared, too. Ready to challenge him as human. Ready to die if he’d come as dragon. But he didn’t come at all. And, in the end, neither did she.
Damn him! She’d never had a male, any male, make her feel so…so…needy. And not for food or safety or any of those important things. But for sex. She wanted a lusty ride from that bastard and she hated him for making her feel this way. Especially when she’d been so comfortable with not feeling anything at all.
“Are you ready?”
She looked away from the early-morning two suns to the dragon standing beside her. They stood at the mouth of his den, leagues above the earth. If she fell from here now, she’d die. Perhaps that was what her mother had hoped for. That her human form would crumple and Bercelak forced to deal with the remains.
“I’m still waiting for you to explain to me why we are going to Kerezik?”
She pulled at the collar of the dress she wore. It wasn’t in any way high. In fact, it scooped dangerously low across her breasts. Much more and her nipples would show. She hated wearing clothes, but she felt terribly bare without them, and felt suffocated when she had them on.
“We are, in fact, going to the valley between the grand mountains of Kerezik.”
“Fascinating. Still waiting on why.”
He looked at her and his scales barely hid where she’d ripped into his flesh. She didn’t bother to hide her smirk at that.
“And you’ll continue to wait,” he growled. “Now get on, dragoness. Or I’ll bring you there in my claw.”
Without another word, she hoisted herself onto his back. “I haven’t ridden on the back of another dragon since I was no more than a hatchling. This might prove to be fun.”
To emphasize that point, she dragged her hands through his hair before taking a firm hold. She heard his stifled moan and bit her lip to keep from laughing. There was only so much mocking any dragon could take.
Without another word, Bercelak hit the skies and headed toward Kerezik…and whatever was in Kerezik.
“And you remember my mother.”
Rhiannon barely held her growl in as Bercelak introduced her to all his kin. An extremely large, handsome brood who all felt the need to be human on this day. Even Bercelak brought a change of clothes with him. Chainmail leggings and shirt and a dark blue surcoat with the crest of humans destroyed by the Queen’s army long ago.
He introduced her to all his kin as the female he intended to Claim.
His mother briefly bowed her head, but she saw the hate in the woman’s eyes. “Princess.”
Gold eyes turned to Bercelak. “May I speak with you a moment, my son?”
“Of course.” He nodded at Rhiannon. “I’ll be right back.”
“As you like,” she muttered, wishing she’d ripped his throat out the night before.
Someone, she had no idea who, placed a goblet of wine into her hand while she leaned against a large dining table already laid out in preparation of a feast.
“I remember,” Rhiannon sighed, unable to hide her annoyance at her current situation.
“Bercelak’s youngest sister.”
Rhiannon fought her urge to say, “So?”
“I’m a witch, too.”
Now Rhiannon looked at the female in surprise. A petite green dragon with Bercelak’s black eyes, she was extremely pretty as human with her dark green hair. And she probably glittered like emeralds when dragon. She leaned against the table beside Rhiannon.
“Witch? Me? My skills are…” Rhiannon shrugged. “Weak.” Embarrassingly so.
“Really?” Another sister, Ghleanna or something, leaned against the table on the other side of Rhiannon. “That’s surprising. A white dragon with no Magick at all? Doesn’t sound right.”
Was anything right at the moment?
“Ever wonder why?”
“Ever wonder why what?”
“Why your Magick seems to be lacking?”
“No. I just assumed I was born that way.”
Ghleanna, a black dragon and several decades older than Bercelak, raised one glossy black brow. “Perhaps.”
“What does that mean?” Rhiannon had no patience for word games with the lower classes.
Instead of answering the question, Ghleanna asked one of her own, “You do know that your mother was with our father. Long before any of us were born, of course.”
“Ghleanna!” her younger sister admonished.
“What? I don’t think it’s a secret.”
“It’s not.” Rhiannon sipped her wine. “From what I understand there are few of a certain age who have not lain with your father.”
“True enough,” Ghleanna laughed. “My father has a way with all females. It’s in his blood.”
“And passed down to all of you, I suppose?”
“A couple of our brothers. And one of our sisters.”
Rhiannon murmured while staring into her goblet, “And Bercelak.”
Both sisters spit out their wine.
Rhiannon looked between the two women, one eyebrow raised. “Something I said?”
“Bercelak who?” Ghleanna demanded as she wiped her chin.
“Our Bercelak?” Maelona asked in surprise.
“He’s nothing like father.”
“Father’s very jovial and happy.” Maelona explained. “Whereas Bercelak is very…um…”
“Sour and impossibly cranky?”
“That’s not fair, sister.” Maelona looked at Rhiannon. “He’s always been nice to me.”
“He’s been nice to me, too,” Ghleanna interrupted. “But he’s still not exactly the life of anyone’s party. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile.”
“Mother said he used to smile…you know…until father,” she shrugged, “well…you know.”
Ghleanna took another gulp of wine. “Father’s way of raising us differs from most.”
“You do learn to stay on your guard. I’ve never been captured or harmed during battle.”
“Aye. That’s true.”
Curious at what their reactions might be, Rhiannon admitted, “Bercelak smiles at me.”
Both sisters froze at Rhiannon’s words. Then they slowly turned to face her.
“He smiled? At you?” Ghleanna asked softly.
“Aye. A few times yesterday. And once before many years ago.”
Ghleanna’s eyes narrowed. “Are you sure it was Bercelak?”
“I think I’d know. I’ve only been held captive by one black dragon these days.”
Maelona shook her head in wonder. “That’s fascinating. I’m not sure any of us have seen him smile. Ever.”
“I thought he was physically incapable.”
Rhiannon frowned at Ghleanna’s words. “Well he’s not,” she snapped.
Wait. What was she doing? Why did she feel the need to defend the bastard? Gods! She was pathetic!
With a growl, Rhiannon walked away from the two females, leaving them to chatter to each other in low whispers.
Bercelak took his mother’s hands. “Please. Trust me.”
“I trust you, son.” His mother’s gold eyes shifted to the female of his dreams. “It’s her I don’t trust.”
She pulled one hand away and her cool fingers carefully slid along her son’s jaw. Right where Rhiannon had clawed him the previous eve. Healing nicely, it still felt a bit sore. “What is this? Did she do this to you?”
“I angered her.”
“Is this going to be your life? Praying you don’t anger the crazy bitch because you fear she’ll kill you in your sleep?”
Bercelak looked at his mother in mock surprise. “Why, Mother. I’m shocked at your words.”
“You sound like your father.” She went up on her toes to get a better look at his wound. “I won’t tolerate her hurting you, my son. I’ll kill the bitch first.”
“Weren’t you the one who tried to cut father’s throat before he Claimed you?”
“He deserved it. You, however, do not.”
“How do you know that?”
“I know my son. I know all my hatchlings.” And she protected all of them. Even from their mad father. “Can’t we get you someone else? Someone…kinder?”
“I don’t want kinder. I want Rhiannon.”
They both watched as Rhiannon walked across the room, a goblet of wine in her hand. A large dog ran up to her and she crouched beside it. She ran a hand over its hide and then leaned in and sniffed it.
“Rhiannon?” he called out softly. She glanced at him over her shoulder. “No.”
“He’s a pet. Not a treat.”
She frowned. “Pet?” She let out an annoyed sigh and stood up, walking around the beast as if he no longer existed.
Bercelak smiled at her confusion over human living and he heard his mother gasp.
“What?” he asked, looking down into her beautiful face.
“She made you smile.”
“Aye. Rhiannon always makes me smile.”
Shalin dropped her head against her son’s chest. “Dark gods, I’ve lost you forever.”
Bercelak rolled his eyes. “I think, mother, that’s a tad extreme.”