April 2020 Newsletter
CAN’T GET ENOUGH
Ailean the Wicked, veteran Battle Dragon of the Dragon Queen’s Armies, third born son of Afton the Hermit, and one of the many from the Cadwaladr Clan, leapt naked and wet, from the tub and made a mad dash for the door. Unfortunately, town guards and one blindingly angry father waited for him right outside that door, so he quickly turned and charged hard for the open window.
He heard the guards coming into the room, but he didn’t waste time looking over his shoulder to see how close they were or bid the damsel he’d had his full of the night before goodbye. He’d done this enough times in his life to know you never stop and you never look back. Even if you feel their breath on your neck, you never look back.
Several floors up, Ailean dived right through the window bracing his human body for impact and rolling when he felt the ground beneath him. By the time he pulled himself back to his feet, the soldiers were on the first floor, barreling through the door.
Ailean took off running through the city of Kyffin. An ancient city many leagues away from Dark Plains and Devanallt Mountain, the seat of power for the dragons of Dark Plains. Winding and congested with people, it was easy to disappear in Kyffin.
Unless, of course, you were a completely naked male with dark blue hair. Humans had a tendency to notice that sort of thing.
But he wouldn’t be caught. He should have known the woman wanted more from him than a simple tumble for the night. It had happened before. He goes to bed with a woman who promises no commitments and wakes up to a lass whose father wants Ailean dead for “deflowering” his daughter. A daughter the man planned to sell off to the wealthiest lord looking for a wife.
After all these years there were still some things about humans Ailean would never understand.
And, clearly, they’d never understand him. For Ailean lived life on his own terms. He answered to no one. Not the human lords of this land, nor the dragon lords of his own. He lived as he wanted, fucked who he wanted, and never had a moment of regret about it.
As the years had passed, he’d collected many names. Ailean the Beautiful. Ailean the Killer. Ailean the Bold. Ailean the Wicked, which was still his personal favorite. And, over the last thirty years specifically, Ailean the Whore. Brutal but honest, depending on who you spoke to.
Yet what he didn’t plan to take on for a name anytime this millennium was Ailean the Captured By Some Female Who’ll Try and Tie Me Down.
No, that name would have to wait for another four or five hundred years. With so many females to taste and enjoy, he had no desire to lock himself in. Why waste all his talents on just one?
Ailean felt the soldiers move closer. He could shift to his true form and destroy them where they stood, but what fun would that be? Besides, he’d kill other humans who happened to be standing around. He had no desire to do that. Not when he enjoyed humans so thoroughly. They had their many flaws but that was to be expected of any lower creature.
Picking up his pace, Ailean lost the soldiers, at least for a time, when he dashed down a busy street filled with sellers and buyers. He kept moving, charging up a set of steps and inside a building. He immediately recognized it as a school. Perhaps a training ground for sorcerers or simply those who enjoyed learning. He considered himself a “learner,” but what he learned he never got out of a simple book. The world taught him all he needed to know.
His dragon hearing picked up the sound of the soldiers heading down the street outside, so Ailean went up many flights of stairs until he ended in an enormous room filled with books. They were everywhere. On bookshelves, piled on the floor, and on the tables. Students kept their heads down, not even noticing him. Perfect. Nothing had become more tedious than explaining his blue hair. After so many years, simply telling people his poor mother had been cursed while he slept in the womb seemed to quickly end the conversation and had many women going out of their way to prove it didn’t matter—which he never minded.
Moving among the stacks, Ailean slid to a stop in the very back, near an exit and another window—in case he needed that as well. Then he caught a scent. It was deliciously familiar. He sniffed the air again. A dragoness. He grinned. Oh…he knew that scent quite well.
After more than three decades, he’d never forgotten the owner of that scent. How could he? She’d thrown his own battle ax at his head. Among his own kin, that was merely a declaration of never-ending love.
No longer thinking of the soldiers searching for him, he let his nose lead him. The library went deeper than he realized, the scent luring him into near darkness among old, dusty tomes he’d never give up a second of his life reading. When he finally stopped he stared at the human form sitting on the floor. She had her back against the bookshelf and wore the robes of a human acolyte, the brownish-red tint of the cloth suggesting alchemy the area of study.
Ailean stared at the top of her head, the hood of the robe slipping off a bit to reveal gold hair.
He’d never expected to see her living as human. Fascinated, he crouched down in front of her and stared, waiting for her to lift her head up. He wanted to see her face again.
It took her a bit to pull herself out of her book, but eventually she looked up at him. Ailean took in a sharp breath at the sight of her.
Gods of hellfire…she really is gorgeous.
She had a pretty enough face and those always-intense gold eyes. But it was those spots splattered across the bridge of her pug nose and on her to her cheeks that fascinated him most. Freckles the humans called them.
And below that…he almost sighed. Those lips. They were ridiculously full and the softest pink. He could spend hours enjoying those lips. Hours.
Breaking into a wide grin, knowing he was the last being on the planet she’d ever wanted to see again, Ailean said with glee, “By all the gods of blood and death—if it isn’t Shalin the Innocent! Did you miss me?”
Oh, gods. Not him!
Anyone but him.
The one dragon she’d give anything to have in her cave, in her bed—anywhere she could get him.
But even now, just having him here in the library put her at risk. Especially with him naked.
Ahh, but what a beautiful naked he was.
No. No. She couldn’t think like that. Ever. First off, what exactly would she do with him? She’d had lovers before. Well…she’d had two. But two nice, quiet, well-schooled ones. But Ailean the Slag…well, he was the stuff fantasies were made of. So very tall and wide, all of it sturdy strength and powerful muscle. Whether as dragon or human, he stood much taller than those around him. Then there was that hair. A silky mass of midnight blue she could easily imagine sliding through her fingers, draping over her body. It was long and luxurious and simply…och! She was doing it again.
But how could she not? Especially with those bright silver eyes watching her and that adorable grin on those decadently full lips. Even his nose, which clearly had taken considerable abuse as human, made her think all sorts of distracting, I’ll-never-be-an-Elder-if-I-keep-this-up thoughts.
And she was a fool. The one dragon she could never again go near, the one dragon she could never even think of talking to, was Ailean the Wicked. Also known as Ailean the Whore, Ailean the Slag, and a host of others depending on who you talked to.
Why? Why did she have to deny herself the one thing every other dragoness and human female seemed able to enjoy since Ailean had been no more than twenty winters?
Because of that night. That one damn night when he’d become the absolute obsession of Princess Adienna. The dragoness spoke of him constantly. Obsessed over every move she’d heard he’d made. Although she’d never demean herself by tracking him down herself, she still waited for him to return. And every female who had graced his bed before or since—and there had been so very many—became the enemy of this one irrational female.
Adienna said she loved him but Shalin had a hard time believing love and obsession were the same thing. Would the princess be so “in love” with Ailean if he’d come back to her begging for more time in her bed? If he’d crawled to her on his belly, professing a never-ending love? Or would she have tossed him aside like quite a few others?
But Ailean had done none of those things. He’d run from her bed like the gods of despair and loathing chased him and he never came back. In fact, he never came back to Devenallt Mountain again. And every day Shalin prayed to any god who would listen that this would be the day when Adienna would stop talking about him, thinking about him, living for him. But, invariably, at some point, Adienna would find something that would bring her back to that point. Back to Ailean.
Even worse, Adienna blamed Shalin. Especially once the rumors spread that Ailean had left Adienna’s bed specifically to search out Shalin.
Shalin almost snorted. If only that were true. But she knew better. That night, when Ailean had found her alone in the royal archives deep in the bowels of Devenallt Mountain that had been nothing more than pure luck. He’d been looking for a quiet escape from Adienna and Shalin had been looking for much needed time alone.
If Adienna hadn’t come looking for him who knows where things would have led. But the bitch had come looking for him. Shalin scented her before Ailean who’d been quite intent on convincing Shalin to come with him to a human town to find a pub and a meal. “We can spend a bit of time together,” he’d said. “Get to know one another.”
Looking into those silver eyes, all Shalin had wanted to do was push him to the ground and have her way with him. But that couldn’t happen, not with Adienna coming ever closer. Yet Ailean wouldn’t listen to her when she tried to explain. He kept cutting Shalin off, trying to convince her he was worth her time. And the more he cut her off, the more frustrated she became.
Her temper was a rarely seen thing. But when she’d heard the flap of Adienna’s wings and knew Ailean wouldn’t stop talking, proving once again how everyone had a tendency to ignore her, she let a bit of that temper take control and she did the only thing she could think of…
She threw his battle ax at him.
In retrospect, perhaps she could have thought of something better. She felt especially bad when it grazed his temple and the blood began to spurt.
Then the rumors took hold.
At first, Adienna paid little attention to them, although her teasing toward Shalin became a little crueler, her venomous tongue a little more pointed. The more time that passed, however, the more Adienna began to turn on her. “You are the reason he has not returned,” she’d finally accused. “You are the reason he stays away from me.” Soon the situation had gotten so unstable, Shalin’s father met with the Elders and the decision was made to send Shalin out among the humans sooner rather than later. She’d been studying in Kyffin for five years now and not once had she missed the hallowed stone halls of Devenallt Mountain.
Now, nearly thirty winters later, she had the one dragon she could never stop thinking about, dreaming about, or lusting over standing right in front of her—naked.
Of course, he was also the one dragon who could get her killed.
“Ailean,” she somehow managed to squeak out. “Good morn to you.”
“And to you, Shalin. You look awfully beautiful today.”
The fact he could say that and sound like he meant it was probably why so many females fell under his spell. Yet Shalin couldn’t be fooled. She had mirrors, did she not?
“Thank you. So why are you—”
“Och!” he cut in as he always did. The dragon rarely took a breath, it seemed. “You won’t believe my morning, Shalin. You truly won’t. Mind if I sit?”
“Good. Thanks.” He dropped down beside her. All that dragon as naked human male. It took every ounce of her strength not to reach out and touch him. Like that solid thigh brushing against her robe-covered leg to see how it felt under her human hands. She’d never been with a male as human. She’d heard it could be…entertaining.
“So there I am, taking a bath, as she said I could, when suddenly her father comes in.”
“Oh, that must have been—”
“Horrible, right. Because she told me that we were alone in that house. But apparently not. I think she wanted me to claim her or marry her or whatever they call it.”
“Even though you’re—”
“A dragon, right. She doesn’t know that bit, you see. Best to keep her in the dark about that, don’t you think?”
“Especially for just a night of entertainment. Why she’d want me as a mate, I have no idea. So what are you reading?”
It took her a moment to realize he’d asked her a question he expected her to answer. “Alchemic Formulas from the Nolwenn Witches of Alsandair.”
“Is it interesting?”
“I don’t know how you can read so many books. I get bored after a few pages.”
“So,” Shalin found the courage to ask, “you’ve never read the books about yourself?”
Ailean groaned, rested his elbows on his raised knees, and dropped his head in his hands. “Tell me you haven’t read those.”
Read them? She’d devoured them.
“Because I didn’t authorize those to be written.”
The books had begun to show up among humans and dragons nearly ten years before. She’d only just finished reading volume three the previous night and word of volume four being available soon had her nearly breathless. Each volume had two editions. One for humans and one for dragons written in the ancient language of their people. A language the humans of this world could never hope to learn with their much weaker minds, ensuring the fact dragons roamed among them freely remained a well-kept secret.
“The books aren’t true then?”
Based on his wince, she knew they were as true as they could be.
“I never said those things didn’t happen. I just said I never authorized them being written about.” He turned his head and looked at her, those silver eyes hot on her face. “I don’t want you to think I run around telling tales about my relationships, Shalin. I can keep a secret quite well.”
And how tempted she was to take him up on his unspoken offer, but that would be cutting her own throat. She’d officially be an enemy of Adienna then and she simply wouldn’t risk her life for any male.
“Perhaps I could tempt you away from your interesting book with promise of a delicious meal at one of the nearby taverns?”
Shocked, Shalin gripped the book in her lap tightly. He wanted to take her out? In public?
What should she say? I’d love to? How about dinner in my room? Forget that, let’s go for it right here, right now?
Instead what she heard herself stuttering was, “I…I can’t.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“Both.” She shot to her feet, the book still in her hands. “I have to go.”
He stood and towered over her as no human could. “Don’t go, Shalin. Spend the night with me.”
She should be insulted. He’d just left another female’s bed and now, still naked and wet from the woman’s bath, he’d asked Shalin to warm his bed. But this was Ailean the Whore. He wasn’t doing anything out of character. She actually felt kind of proud he’d asked her at all. Although she knew that to be pathetic. And she’d never admit it out loud.
Shalin focused on the book in her hands. “That’s very kind of you, but…but I…I—”
Big fingers lightly gripped her chin and tilted her face up to his.
“Gods, Shalin. You do so tempt me.”
She nearly melted at his words. Melted right into a big puddle at his feet.
Shalin stopped talking when she realized guards stood behind him.
“There you are,” one of them said, slapping his hand down on Ailean’s shoulder.
Ailean gave a short snort. “And such a good job finding me, since I’ve been standing here for the last twenty minutes.”
With a snarl, the guard motioned to the others and large steel manacles were locked onto Ailean’s wrists.
“Don’t look so, Shalin.” Ailean grinned. “I have every intention of coming back for you.”
Shalin opened her mouth to say something, but no words would come out. He’d rendered her completely speechless. But since he really didn’t let her get a word in edgewise, this wasn’t exactly an incredible feat. Holding the book close to her chest and pulling the hood of her acolyte robe down over her face, she nodded, turned, and fled.