January Newsletter 2021
ABOUT A DRAGON
How long had he been following her? Watching her? True, she could stand here forever, terrified. But hadn’t she done enough of that for the last two days?
So, steeling herself against what awaited her, she slowly turned.
“Well, hello, pretty lady.”
It spoke. An enormous gold dragon with a gold mane of hair that swept across the cave floor spoke to her.
Why not? This sort of thing must be common among those of us going insane.
Most people never met one dragon. Somehow Talaith had managed to meet two. Could her life be anymore unmanageable? Probably not.
He leaned down a bit and sniffed her. “Ah, big brother’s about, I see. Are you his gift to me?”
Talaith growled. She tired of arrogant, smirking dragons assuming she existed only to be their plaything. Actually, she’d grown tired of everything male. The entire male species merely horrid beings meant to do nothing more than destroy all that existed around them.
Enunciating each word clearly so there’d be no confusion, “No, you arrogant, half-witted bastard. I am not here for you.”
Startled, the dragon sat back on his haunches. “I…uh…”
“What? Am I supposed to be quaking in fear of you?” Purposely keeping her voice low and controlled, she stepped closer to him. “Should I be sobbing and begging for mercy? Well, I’d rather burn in the farthest reaches of hell before I give you or that arrogant, half-witted brother of yours the satisfaction.”
She thought for sure she’d die. Thought for sure she’d finally pushed her luck to the breaking point. Especially when he went down face first on the ground and repeatedly slammed his claw against the rocky floor, shaking the cave.
Surprisingly, though, death did not seem his purpose. Laughter, however…
Even more evident when he rolled that giant dragon body onto its back and laughed harder. Hysterically, almost. Powerful dragon limbs flailing and everything.
Eventually, her silver dragon charged in. She’d started to learn his different expressions and moods. Right now he appeared concerned.
He stared at the gold lying on the ground literally rolling around in laughter then at her. “What did you do?”
Incredulous, she snapped, “Me?”
The gold looked up at the dragon. “She is going to make your life a living hell, brother!” Then he exploded into another round of violent laughter, again rolling back and forth across the floor.
Growling, the silver grabbed the gold around the throat and picked him up, placing him on his feet. The gold hit him to get the silver claw off his throat. So the silver hit him back. They stared at each other for several seconds, then the battle was on.
Not bothering to look back, Talaith ran, praying she could avoid getting buried alive with two idiotic dragons.
Éibhear the Blue opened his eyes when she sat on his tail, which lay happily buried under Gwenvael’s gold. He’d come to his older brother’s den to wait out the coming storm and had settled his bulk under one of the many piles of gold Gwenvael had scattered around.
He’d always been good at disappearing. Especially for a dragon.
Still, he never expected to find anything as interesting as this among Gwenvael’s treasures.
A woman. Human. Very pretty. And reeking of his big brother’s scent. Briec with a human? The queen wouldn’t like this one bit. She’d barely learned to accept Fearghus’ mate.
Slowly, so as not to startle her, he drew himself over to her until his snout rested by her leg. She didn’t notice him right away, cringing every time the cave walls shook—Briec and Gwenvael must be having one of their “discussions”—or stones fell from the ceiling, just missing her head. He knew, however, the instant she became aware of his presence.
Her entire body tensed, her eyes closed, and she moaned in despair. “Exactly how much am I expected to take?” she asked no one in particular. Éibhear said nothing, figuring she’d look at him in her own good time. And, she did.
She sighed. “Blue. You’re blue.”
“I’m Éibhear the Blue.” After eighty-seven years, he never tired of saying that.
“Of course you are.” She rubbed her eyes with her fists. “Exactly how many more dragons are there?”
Éibhear wasn’t sure what she meant or even if she was speaking to him, so he decided to ask. “Here, m’lady, or in the entire world?”
Without taking her hands away from her eyes, she snapped, “Why would I give a centaur’s shit about the entire world?”
A known fact among their kind was that Éibhear was the most tolerant of his entire kin. He liked humans as a general rule and called many among them friend. That didn’t mean, however, he had to let someone yell at him for no good reason.
Slowly, Éibhear moved away from her. But she didn’t really notice until he pulled his tail out from under her and her butt slammed down hard with the pile of gold that had been covering him.
“Ow.” Gorgeous, dark brown eyes turned to him. “What did you do that for?”
He shrugged. “I thought you wished to be alone.”
Another crash came from deeper inside the cave and the walls trembled. She pulled her legs in tighter and wrapped her arms around her body. “No,” she answered as she stared up at the ceiling, clearly terrified it would crash on top of her at any moment. “I do not wish to be alone. It will be nice to be buried alive with another. We’ll keep each other company in the afterlife.”
Taking a deep breath, she admitted, “I’m just so tired. I’m sorry if I offended you.”
“Oh, you didn’t.” Éibhear wanted to put her at ease, so he laid the tip of his snout on her raised knees. “I completely understand.”
Talaith stared down at the blue dragon snout lying dangerously close to her face. Ah, well this makes sense. And although she should at least feel wariness if not outright terror at this dragon, she didn’t. Something about him simply put her at ease. She couldn’t explain it and, at the moment, she didn’t want to.
“My brothers will stop anytime now,” he said reassuringly. “Usually when one or the other starts bleeding.”
“Aren’t you worried?”
“The sturdiness of this cave.”
“Ah. This cave was here long before any of us were born, and will be here long after we go home to our ancestors.”
Another loud bang shook the walls, and Talaith placed her hand on the dragon’s head. For some unknown reason, she found it comforting.
In response, the blue snuggled in closer to her, sighing contentedly when she ran her hand through his hair. She couldn’t resist—it was blue!
“What is your name, m’lady?”
Even the dragon who had her for nearly two days never asked her that—as if he couldn’t be bothered. “Talaith. I am Talaith.”
“Very pretty name, m’lady.”
Still stroking the silky hair, Talaith finally gave a very small smile. “I am no lady, dragon. Merely the only daughter of a merchant.” And the chosen one of a goddess who is to…hmmm, probably shouldn’t mention that.
“I’ve met many with rank. You’re more royalty than most of them.”
Laughing, “You don’t even know me.”
The enormous dragon lifted his head and beautiful silver eyes focused on her. As he looked her over, she didn’t feel naked and uncomfortable at all, as she seemed to when the silver dragon did the same thing. No, she knew in her heart this dragon was simply assessing the situation before him.
His eyes narrowed dangerously. “Lady, what happened to your neck?” His snout gently brushed her throat where she’d hung from the town noose while they prepared the stake.
When she didn’t cringe at him being so close, she felt quite proud.
Shrugging, “My entire village tried to hang me yesterday morn.”
And as easily as he showed kindness, he grew angry. “Why would anyone do that to you?”
“Because I am a witch.”
He sniffed with indignation. “Well, of course you are. I can see the Magick all around you. But what about your family? Was there no one to protect you?”
She couldn’t help it, she chuckled. “My husband led them, Éibhear.” Gods, Talaith. That’s not funny.
He growled low and black smoke curled from his nostrils. “Do you want me to kill them? I can destroy a village you know? I can destroy them all.”
“That is very, um, sweet of you. But do not waste your time. Leave them to their ignorance, Éibhear. I can no longer be bothered.”
Staring a moment more, he nodded before placing his head back on her knees. “As you wish. But please let me know if you change your mind.”
Talaith grinned as she hadn’t in ages. “I will, Éibhear. I promise.”
Gwenvael held up his claw. “Stop. Stop.” He wiped his snout and looked at his gold talons. “Ack! Blood. I’m bleeding! Death comes for me!”
Briec rolled his eyes, annoyed beyond reason by his idiot brother’s antics. “Oh, grow a spine.”
Gwenvael roared and crouched down, prepared to charge him again, when Briec suddenly noticed his human had fled.
“Where’s the woman?”
Immediately Gwenvael became distracted. One just needed to mention something female and he became distracted. Gwenvael’s sexual prowess rivaled only by their grandfather’s.
“I don’t know.” He glanced around. “She was standing here a moment ago.”
Briec glared at his kin. “You scared her off.”
“I scared her off?”
Letting out an exasperated sigh, Briec sniffed the air and followed her scent. Not surprisingly, Gwenvael followed right behind him. Nosy bastard.
“So where did you find her? She’s quite lovely.”
“At her village. And stay away from her.”
He had the nerve to sound affronted, when he said, “Why, brother. I would never—”
“Don’t bother. Fearghus already told me what you did with that mate of his.”
“I was only playing. Honestly, none of you have a sense of humor.”
“And from what I heard, neither did his mate. By the way, how is your neck? I heard she put a dagger to it.”
“It’s fine, thank you. And why don’t you ever use her name?”
“Don’t see a reason. She is of no consequence to me.”
Briec stopped walking and again sniffed the air. Gritting his fangs, he turned to Gwenvael and together they said, “Éibhear.”
Talaith glanced up as the silver and gold dragon stomped into the chamber. As soon as the silver saw her, his eyes narrowed, and she had the overwhelming desire to protect Éibhear.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
Éibhear, who’d shifted back into human and graciously put on a pair of black breeches out of respect to Talaith, fairly ignored his brother as he tilted her head back a bit more to get at her wounded neck.
“What does it look like I’m doing?”
“Don’t backtalk me. I asked you a question.”
“And I don’t see the need to answer it. As it is, I’m so angry at you right now, I don’t even want to see your face.”
“What are you talking about?”
Unable to stop herself, Talaith sucked her breath in between her teeth and cringed. Éibhear’s face softened as he looked at her.
“I’m sorry. This will only take a minute or so more.” By the gods…that voice! She nearly envied the woman who would wake up every morning to that voice greeting her. Of course, the silver dragon’s was nothing to sneer at. Only his made her think of dirty, dirty things.
“That’s all right. I’m fine.”
By sheer force of will, Talaith stood her ground while Éibhear gently smoothed on more cream. He said his sister, a fellow witch, had created it and that it would manage the pain of the rope burn on her neck. The blue dragon had been horrified when he realized his brother had not taken care of her wound. Of course, Talaith knew she would have never let the silver dragon get that close to her.
Plus it had completely “slipped” her mind that he’d asked her to remind him to care for her neck. The big bastard should have remembered without her reminding him.
All right, Talaith. Now you sound like a wife.
Éibhear motioned for her to lift up her hair as he moved around to get where the noose had dug into the skin behind the backs of her ears.
“Did you never think to treat this, big brother?”
By the startled look on the silver’s face, followed by the glare in Talaith’s direction, he remembered quite well their earlier conversation.
“She’d promised to remind me.”
“Remind you?” Éibhear stood behind her, but she heard the annoyance and outrage in his voice.
The gold leaned back on his haunches and shook his head. “How could you? You bastard.”
The gold glanced at her and winked. Cheeky idiot.
“Fine,” Éibhear went on. “I understand how that could slip your mind. But while I’m doing this,” he gently moved some of her stray hairs out of his way, “why don’t you introduce us, big brother?”
“Oh. Of course.” The silver cleared his throat, opened his giant maw to speak…but nothing came out.
Éibhear kept putting on the ointment, but the gold clearly expected his brother to introduce them properly. When he said nothing, the gold balked.
“Are you telling me you don’t know her name?” the gold demanded.
“Well, I, uh—”
Stepping away from her, Éibhear closed up the jar of ointment as she released her hair. Her eyes began to water from the pain and she wondered about the logic of allowing Éibhear to put that dragon-created junk on her human flesh. The dragon witch probably made it for something with scales.
Éibhear dropped the jar in a small bag he had with him. “He’s had her since yesterday.”
The gold’s eyes practically exploded from his head, then he burst out laughing.
Talaith said nothing as Éibhear pushed her hair off her face to examine a small scrape on her forehead. But she knew the silver didn’t appreciate the familiar move one damn bit. Good.
“It was an oversight,” her kidnapper gave by way of explanation.
Éibhear’s silver eyes locked on his brother. “I know her name. And I’ve known her about ten minutes.”
“I’m Gwenvael the Handsome,” the gold stopped laughing long enough to say. “At your service, m’lady.” He made a low, sweeping bow and the silver brought his tail down on the back of the gold’s head. “Ow! What was that for?”
“Accident,” the silver snapped. He turned back to Éibhear. “This is none of your concern, baby brother. I saved her, therefore she—”
“If you say,” she spit out between tightly clenched teeth, surprising them all, “I belong to you, one more time. I swear by all that’s holy I will scream these walls down.”
The three dragons silently stared at her. When she didn’t back down or look away, the gold fell into another fit of laughter that caused the silver to roll his eyes practically to the back of his head.
“Hungry, m’lady?” Éibhear asked as he stood beside her. It suddenly occurred to her the pain no longer plagued her.
She almost sighed in relief, but instead said, “Starved.”
He held his arm out. Like the rest of him, his arm was big and muscular. In fact, his human form was bigger than even the silver’s. “Then let’s get you fed.”
She took his arm gratefully, and they headed toward the exit. As she passed the silver, she stopped and looked up at him.
“And the name is Talaith, in case you were wondering.”
With that, the pair walked off, but she could still hear the gold’s hysterical laughter tormenting his brother.