Sensual Sentient ♥ Episode 3

BadJack2

Image source: pinterest.com

Bad Jack

“That wasn’t rock climbing,” Blake grit out two hours later, when they finally reached the top of the cliff. Hauling himself over the ledge, he anchored the lead and started helping everyone else. “That was a goddamn expedition.”

Sida kept her pussy comment to herself, knowing he’d just counter with something like: “you offering?” He always had an inappropriate comeback. While most people needed inspiration or opportunity for their minds to slide into the gutter, Blake’s owned real estate there.

“Holy stars,” Ketha exhaled, when Blake helped her over the edge first.

Once everyone was topside, they detached their harnesses and took a moment to drink in the sheer megalithic size of the deserted city. Every building, statue, fountain and pillar put them right into familiar territory. It was unnerving. Sida’s gaze followed the cracked remnants of a toppled column about twenty yards ahead and to their left, completely blocking their path. She nearly ordered everyone to put their climbing gear back on, since that might be the only way to get over it.

“And it’s still a long way to the summit,” Blake exhaled, his gaze rising to the top of the tallest stepped pyramid in the distance.

“Bad Jack,” Sida snapped at him. “No more magic beans for you.”

He chuckled, rolling his shoulder with equal parts unease and determination. “And here I thought space was the only thing left to make us feel small and insignificant,” he remarked, before flashing that hidden grin at her again. “Guess next time you’ll take the bottom like a good girl.”

Sida patted the butt of her rifle, which was still on her favorite setting despite the engaged safety. “You wanna be the bastard, Yarring?”

Blake snorted. “Cap, I’ve never not been the bastard.”

“You keep giving me reasons to agree with you, it’s going to confuse the hell out of our crew,” she warned.

“There seems to be an actual source of vegetation up here,” Isiah interrupted, too used to their banter to be fazed.

“Just keep an eye on the mine shaft below, let me know when we reach the heart of the city,” Sida ordered. “We won’t find any answers until we can clear this road block, though, so let’s get a move on.”

“I thought the Maya had the whole stairway to heaven thing in the bag,” Ketha muttered, when they reached the downed column.

Due to its massive circumference and smooth surface, they really only had two choices; either bust their way through it or waste several hours walking around it. It was a tough call for a group of scientists. Fortunately, while Sida was still contemplating, they came across a section that was already partially broken and crumbling. It took little effort to carefully blast their way through just the already damaged area by using a relatively weak setting on their rifles. Pausing on the other side, Sida snatched Blake’s binoculars from his vest to get a closer look at the city, now that the view was completely unobstructed.

“Commander, I see glyphs,” she grinned.

“On it,” he reciprocated, running ahead.

“Ensign, where are we in relation to the mine now?”

“Higher than before,” Darling answered. “There’s definitely a steady sloping grade from the surface to the lowest point in the mine, which is the bend. From there to the entrance, it’s almost completely flat.”

Sida hooked the binoculars on her belt and looked around. “That doesn’t make any goddamn sense. A single shaft well should indicate a Qanat system, but there’s only one access point and it’s at the highest elevation, not the lowest. Unless they had gravity-defying water, I think we need to find more evidence behind the true purpose for this mine.”

“I agree. Another three klicks and we’ll be at the city center, Captain,” he replied.

“Good, any readings on what kind of ore we might otherwise be dealing with?” she asked.

“I’ve got trace amounts of the usual recipe, but nothing concrete. We’ll have to dig into deeper sediments for samples.”

“There should be aqueducts,” Sida noted aloud a moment later. “Every civilization had advanced water systems in place by the time they were building cities of this magnitude. They had rain basins, diverted rivers, something to bring fresh water to the citizens.”

Minnows glanced over her shoulder, though they could no longer see the ledge. “That trench could have been a river at one time, which might explain why only part of the city caved in.”

Sida nodded in agreement, though none of them had seen any evidence of that from below. There would be natural markers, different levels of sediment lining the cliff walls like artwork from the water slowly drying up over time. Unless it evaporated all at once. That was an eerie thought, but then so was the very Earthling-like city they were marching toward.

“Or, perhaps water hadn’t been a necessary part of their diet,” Isiah suggested. “It’s kind of sad when you think about it.”

“Then don’t,” Sida suggested.

“Can you imagine our planet dying before we’d even made it out of the iron age?” he persisted.

“Yet, he does it anyway,” Sida grumbled to herself. “Yarring, what have you got for me?”

“Obviously, they made it off this planet, so logically, they were far more advanced than we ever were during our iron age,” Ketha debated with Isiah.

Sida rolled her eyes. “Commander!”

Why did she always get stuck with the kids, while he went to play in the rubble? Something was seriously wrong with that setup.

“You guys aren’t going to believe what I’m looking at,” Blake’s voice finally came through the comm links in their mini-masks. “These NTs…they’re humanoid.”

“Yarring, have you ever seen the Bremm?” she scoffed. “Ogres would be considered more humanoid.”

“These aren’t Bremm, Cap,” he returned. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear I was staring at the tomb walls of one of our own ancient sites. I’m seeing similarities to all of them. They kept record of everything in the same fashion, too. Farming, fishing, ceremonies, battles…wait–”

“Commander?” Sida prompted, when several moments of silence ticked by.

“Shh.”

Sida arched a brow. He did not just shush her.

“I found the city center events,” he finally spoke again.

“And?” she snapped.

“There’s some kind of procession, NTs climbing onto a platform from an underground chamber right in the heart of the… fucking Christ,” he cut himself off. “It’s an auction block, the bastards were slavers. There’s something extremely off about these glyphs, Captain. Not only are the slaves also humanoid, they’re depicted as being much larger than the citizens.”

“Define much larger,” she replied, peering around at the ginormous city.

“A whole other race kind of larger,” he answered. “And judging by the monoliths used to construct these megaliths, I wouldn’t be shy about labeling them giants.”

“Starblood,” Sida said, looking at Isiah. “Any trace?”

“Not on the surface,” he answered, eyes a little wide. “Giants, Captain? They enslaved giants to build all of this?”

“Yeah, I think they did,” Blake answered for her.

“So much for your advanced theory, Lieutenant,” Isiah remarked to Ketha. “If we find Starblood, no one left this planet by ship.”

“We need to get into that mine,” Sida intervened firmly. “I prefer my facts to be of the non-speculative variety. Why don’t we have a reading on this supposed chamber under the city?”

“I’m not showing any cavities other than the mine, itself, which abruptly stops about a hundred yards below the surface,” Darling confirmed.

“Could have been a cave-in,” Minnows suggested, pointing to the crumbled roads. “These aren’t exactly Imperial quality.”

By the time they reached the city center, Blake was just meeting up with them. “I didn’t find anything depicting the Bremm and I’m really starting to doubt they were ever here. Maybe this isn’t Molta Cremyss, after all, but a completely unknown planet. None of the glyphs I found are pointing toward the apocalyptic event that caused everyone to abandon the home world, but I’m willing to bet all of my gambling debts there’s a lot more where those came from.”

“That’s a lot of negative credit, Commander,” Sida smirked, reluctantly amused.

“I’m a giving man, Cap,” he shrugged. “We need to find their version of a Valley of the Kings.”

“Assuming they buried their dead,” Ketha interjected. “Many ancient civilizations used funeral pyres.”

“I love how scientists are always looking on the bright side of things,” Sida grinned. “Darling, run a perimeter scan fifty yards out and see if you find anything interesting.”

“Got it, Captain.” He didn’t get far, before he was waving them over. “Hey, look at this.”

They all approached the broken, rectangular pattern he was dusting off in the rocky dirt. Crouching at various sections, they all started doing the same, revealing a kind of lip about fifty-five yards long and twenty yards wide.

“This was the auction block,” Blake stated first, studying it more carefully. “Or at least the foundation of it.”

“Which means, this had to be where the entrance to the underground chamber was,” Sida pointed to a large area of the ground that bowled toward the center. “Looks like cave-in wins the pool. Good call, Minnows.”

“If that led to the chamber, and its somehow connected to the mine shaft, we could be looking at trouble,” Blake swore under his breath. “What do you want to do now, Cap?”

It was another tough decision. They were already topside, had spent two hours getting there and another making it to the city center, yet the chance of there being Starblood underground pulled at her.

“What we always do, Commander,” Sida decided. “Find the door to the next planet. Back to base, crew.”

Rising to her feet, Sida peered around the city of ruins once more, suppressing the desire to say the hell with protocol and go racing right into every building, turn over every stone, and learn everything she could about the NTs who’d lived there, because the similarities to Earth couldn’t be ignored. They could very well be standing right in the middle of a missing link in their own evolution. Their own origins. To say she was intrigued was a cosmic understatement. She wanted answers five minutes ago.

First, they needed to solve the mystery of the mine.

Thank you for reading! If you’re just tuning in, check out The Wicked Web link on the menu above for previous episodes. Until next time…

#TacoTuesday

Welcome to week 2 of Taco Tuesday. If you’re just joining in, no worries, there’s no time limit. You can check the original post here to get the objective and start building your own delicious book taco! Now, for our next layer…

Writers Menu

Meat: Main Characters are the ‘meat’ of your story, give us one of your favorite ‘first’ meets between a leading duo (or trio+ all are welcome here!)

The door chimed open, bringing the aromas from the pier, warm ocean air, an abundance of alcohol and…candy. Arching a brow, Kazi put his pencil and sketchpad down, then left his tiny back office. He stopped short just beyond the curtain, unable to move until he’d taken in every centimeter of the curvy brunette eying his prints on the wall. She was native something, her tanned skin natural, rather than sun induced. Her ebony hair was long and looked just as silky to the touch as her partially exposed flesh. Revealed by the white sleeveless t-shirt that stopped shy of her lower back.

Deciding he’d loitered long enough, Kazi entered the main room and had to steady himself again, when she turned to face him. Her toned stomach and sexy navel was the perfect preamble to the sensual flare of her hips. Her beautiful face was nothing but exotic with higher cheekbones, further confirming his suspicions about her heritage. Eyes like pale emeralds locked onto his, a little unfocused despite the clash of fire and ice.

“You, tattoo me,” she ordered, the alcohol-induced slur did nothing to stem the damage her husky voice had on his system.

Before Kazi could utter the single word poised on the tip of his tongue, his drunk, would-be customer stumbled to the nearest bed.  She dropped her purse to the floor, then stretched along the length of it on her stomach.

Odin’s breath, she looked like a centerfold with the way her lower back dipped so deeply before the rise of an ass that defied all reason. The kind that could tempt even the sanest, most faithful man on earth. As a free agent, Kazi wasn’t in any danger of those crimes. He was, however, unyielding when it came to his own rules.

“You’re not getting a tattoo tonight, sweetheart,” he denied her.

“Yes, I am,” she insisted, as she cushioned her head on her arms and let her eyes droop closed. Long, dark lashes cast shadows along her prominent cheekbones. “I want a tramp stamp.”

Kazi grimaced, unable to hide his disappointment. “Why?”

“Does it matter? I have money, so get to inking.”

Kazi heard the bitter anger in her tone. Bad breakup? Cheating husband? He was torn between an unexpected need to defend her honor and the urge to hit someone simply for being that insurmountably stupid. Gods, he couldn’t get the smell of cotton candy out his nose!

“And what is it that you would have tattooed there?” he asked, though it wouldn’t change the outcome. She wasn’t getting a tattoo by him this night or any other she decided to stumble into his parlor drunk.

If it was a man’s name, Kazi was going to bash someone’s face in, honor and stupidity be damned.

Lifting her head, she looked at him with a murderous curve to her absolutely edible lips. “Mistletoe. So the whole world knows it can kiss my ass.”

~ Moon Tides (The Úlfrinn series)

Readers Menu

Meat: What was the most unique, hilarious or epic ‘first’ meeting of Main Characters you’ve ever read in a book?

His Hostage coverI can’t name the most unique, because the book isn’t out yet and I don’t do spoilers – BUT – the same author brought her two Main Characters, Hal and Evie, together for the first time in an epic way in His Hostage. Anna Adler’s debut novel was my first introduction to ‘meet-by-abduction,’ rather than abduction after the fact or even an abduction that was premeditated. As a ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ kind of kidnapping, Hal and Evie’s first meet was an instant thrill that kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next!

Once again – if you’re reading this consider yourself tagged!

 

Next Tuesday’s ingredients are Beans!

Beans for the writer: Details are a fat free way to fill out your story, whether real or fictitious, what was your favorite place to describe?

Beans for the reader: Which book or series had such a spellbinding knack for detail that you feel like you’ve actually been there in person? (You get extra cool points for choosing a book that has never been adapted to film.)

Thief of Dragons ♥ Episode 19

WardenTsaoShin

image source: TsaoShin @ Deviantart.com

Gentlemanly

Arcylaen paused across the threshold of his study. Flicking the light on at last, he gave his brother a dubious look.

“This is a new tactic,” he remarked, hanging his suit jacket up, while Brejeir sipped from the diamond cut snifter in his hand.

“Yeah well, desperate times and all,” Brej replied. “Since your latest strategy is largely cowardice, avoiding anyone and everything that might have any kind of contact with your own Ward.”

“Brother–”

“No, Cylaen,” Brejeir cut him off, downing the rest of his whiskey and rising. “You weren’t here to deliver the bad news, or to see how well that went over. She’s beyond upset, and with every right to be so.”

“What would you have me do?” Arcylaen demanded. “Let her be the Ward of Haraj or Gwyn? Let them have complete control over her, and command her to do things against her will? Should I just let her roam freely about the city unprotected, so she can be captured and used against me as a pawn, just because her Echelonite chose me?! Is that what I should do, brother?”

“No, Cyl. You should be here when she needs you,” Brej stated firmly. “Not burying yourself in work just to avoid her.”

“I’m not–”

“Oh, bullshit,” Brej waved his hand in frustration. “You haven’t seen or spoken a single word to her all day, which is an extreme change from stalking her, I might add.”

Cylaen rolled his eyes at his brother’s exaggeration, no matter how slight it was. “You don’t understand, Brej. I feel her all of the time. I am constantly aware of where she is. You don’t know how difficult it is to concentrate on anything else, when she’s always right there in the peripheral of my consciousness. I don’t even trust myself to be in the same room with her. I can’t risk saying something the wrong way again.”

“What do you mean ‘again’?” Brej narrowed his eyes.

Releasing a heavy sigh, Cylaen helped himself to a drink he desperately needed. “Last night, I just… I told her to go to bed. They were just words, Brej. Something anyone might have said, but she couldn’t stop herself from following through the motions, as if she had no control over her own actions. I had to order her to stop undressing in front of me!”

Brejeir stared at him with parted lips and wide eyes. “Holy…wow.”

“Yeah, that about covers it,” Arcylaen nodded grimly. “Talex was right. I’m no better than the Black Dogs of Cayen.”

“Now, you just hold on a goddamn minute. You don’t get to talk about my brother that way–”

“This isn’t a joke, Brejeir,” Cylaen leveled him with a dark scowl. “I used my position, my power and influence to persuade the Council to side with me, to rush Leandra through the Warden Rites. How does that make me any better than them? How does that make me a good leader, that I would use those things to get my way?”

“For her protection, Cyl!” His brother countered. “After what you just told me could happen, simply by the way you worded something so mundane, I believe that more than ever before, how can you not? No, you did the right thing, brother. You know for a fact Haraj, at least, would take full advantage of his control over her.”

The dark, vile rage that swam through Arcylaen confirmed that his brother was right, but that didn’t make their circumstances any less volatile. They were traversing through landmines now. “It doesn’t matter. That is how they are treating the situation. Haraj said as much this morning, Brej, you heard him with your own ears. They’re calling for my position to be revoked and once the other Houses get wind of Leadra’s Echelonite’s choice, they’ll side with the Griffin and push for my removal as the Dragon’s Head. This isn’t about her guilt or innocence anymore, brother, this is a struggle for power, which puts us all in danger.”

“Then fight it, Cylaen. Run for office, get voted in and start making changes to these ridiculous laws!”

“That could take up to a year, and you know it. The elections are still two months away, and laws don’t get changed overnight, even when it appears that way. It takes months of planning, drafting and getting them passed through all of the right channels first,” Arcylaen shook his head, put the snifter to his lips and stilled.

His entire mind filled with Leandra’s presence. It shivered down his spine to ignite his lust and touch on all his concerns about their predicament. Even Jesper stirred on his shoulder, aware and confused.

“I can feel her,” he exhaled.

“You already said that,” Brej huffed.

“No, right now, I can feel her… everywhere,” Arcylaen stated, whipping his head around, as if he might see her there. “It’s like she’s in a hundred different places at once.”

Half expecting to see Leandra standing outside of his study, Arcylaen stared in confusion at the empty hallway, then kept going. He headed back into the foyer and took the grand staircase two steps at a time, with Brejeir right on his heels. It felt like he was chasing receding shadows that were always a step ahead of him, until they became one concentrated presence beyond the door to her room.

It didn’t make a lick of sense!

“Leandra?” He knocked on her door, but no answer came.

Trying the knob, he was a little relieved to find it unlocked. He gestured for his brother to wait in the hall, then stepped into the dark room. More relief filled him, when he saw the distinct shape of her tucked under the covers in the middle of the bed. He approached the side of it, and leaned down to brush the dark locks from her peaceful face. Her Echelonite was nowhere to be seen, but that was normal for them in sleep. Their symbiotic companions tended to slip into an unconscious stasis while their host’s slumbered, rendering them invisible to the naked eye.

“Arcylaen?” she stirred.

Her eyes blinked open, even as her black panther appeared on the pillow beside her head with a big yawn.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.” He straightened quickly, glancing at the open doorway to see Brejeir walking away with a pleased smirk on his face.

Ugh. Brothers.

“What are you doing in here?” she asked in sleepy confusion, sitting up while hugging the blankets closer to her chest.

“I felt…” How to explain? “I don’t know what I felt, exactly. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Stifling a yawn, she pushed her silky hair back from her beautiful face and studied him for a moment. “I’d have felt a lot better if I didn’t have to hear how the Council session went from Brejeir, instead of you.”

Sighing, Arcylaen sat down on the side of the bed and lifted her fingers with his. “I know,” he admitted. “What happened last night…it worried me, Leandra and it angers me. What if the next time, it’s something dangerous? What if I say the wrong thing while we’re in public? I’m second guessing every little word before I speak now, and the worst of it is, when it comes to my desires for you, kitten, I want to tell you what to do. I want to tell you to kiss me, strip for me, to do so many things and I can’t. Because, I want you to do them of your own free will, not by the force of some ancient Rite.”

Could she understand his frustrations and concerns? Was it a man’s ego, alone, driving his anger or a man’s desire, alone, that craved those moments of her yielding to him willingly? Leandra appeared surprised by his confession, but not put off, thank the Divine.

“You could always suggest it,” she finally said.

“Suggest what?”

“That I kiss you, rather than commanding it,” she elaborated. “If you’re already trying to be cautious about how you word everything else, then why not do the same for your desires?”

Because, in the heat of the moment, who in the hell was thinking clearly? Still, it might be worth a shot. Taking a deep breath, he exhaled slowly. He rephrased what he wanted about five different times in his head, before choosing his least favorite, merely because it felt the safest.

“Why don’t you kiss me?”

“No,” she answered, then beamed at him. “See? It worked!”

Arcylaen arched a brow at her. “That’s a matter of opinion.”

Still smiling, she straightened her shoulders. “Okay, ask me again, but this time try wording it more how you want to. I think as long as you keep it in the form of a question, it will work.”

Giving her an option defeated the purpose, couldn’t she see that? Even though he wanted her to give into him willingly, didn’t mean he wanted to pose it as a damn choice.

“Why don’t you give me a kiss, right now?” he suggested on a low growl, his frustration increasing.

“Okay,” she replied, holding his gaze. “But, only because I want to, not because it didn’t work.”

Leaning forward, Leandra pressed her mouth to his before her words even registered all the way. Liquid heat poured down Arcylaen’s throat from the contact, his lust rising recklessly, because he couldn’t separate it from all his other emotions. There was a startling possessiveness, stemming from having faced off with two other men that wanted complete control over her. It had taken a lot more willpower than he’d been prepared for not to threaten their very lives, if they ever came within a hundred feet of Leandra.

The mere thought of it had him pulling her into his arms, banding them tighter around her, as if they could always keep her safe. Keep her his. When her arms slid around his neck, accepting and wanting, his entire chest filled with pride. His desire was like molten gold, shimmering through his veins and he knew if they didn’t stop soon, he wouldn’t be able to at all.

“Leandra,” he exhaled, trying and failing to break away from her delectable mouth. The feel of her soft lips and the delicious heat of her tongue.

“More,” she begged, tightening her hold around his neck. “Please, more.”

“Leandra,” Arcylaen moaned, when she rose higher, squishing her breasts into his chest and kissing him deeper. There were no mixed signals, her desires were being broadcast loud and clear. It was just too dangerous. “Leandra, we need to stop.”

His body hated those words. He hated those words, which meant it had to be the right thing to do. Shivers of lust ignited through his muscles, when her hand dove into his hair and pulled his head back so she could peer into his face.

“Arcylaen, stop trying to be a gentleman when we both know you’re not,” she advised with a sultry smirk. “Is this really the sum of your intentions? Just kissing?”

Stunned, Arcylaen laughed, but it was just as naughty as her words made him feel. Hell no. Kissing was far from being the sum of his intentions, and the little minx knew exactly how to goad him with that challenge, using his own words against him. Was it any wonder he was so attracted to her?

“You’re not ready to know the sum of my intentions, Leandra,” he vowed, a warning served with a smile. “Nor am I settled enough at the moment to prove that to you.”

He saw the determination darken the desire in her yes, before she pressed into him further, her fingers curling around his collar when she attempted to capture his mouth again. It killed him to stop her, when every fiber of his being was aching to lunge.

“Don’t,” he began, gently cuffing her wrist to pull her hand from his shirt. Swallowing the rest of that command, he took a deep breath and tried again. “Please, don’t push at my restraints when they’re already close to snapping, Leandra. I’m angry. I don’t want that anywhere near you, near us, especially our first time together.”

Her features softened with understanding, but there was still a deep well of determination she wasn’t even trying to hide. It only made Arcylaen burn hotter for her.

“Will you stay here with me, then, for just a little while?” she asked.

“That is something I’d never say no to,” he conceded. Despite the further strain it put on his lust, it helped slake some of his possessiveness, at least. When Leandra made to pull the covers aside for him, Arcylaen quickly placed his hand on them to stop her and shook his head. “I’ll be okay on top of the blankets.”

With a heavy sigh, she waited for him to toe off his shoes and stretch out beside her with the barrier of clothing and bedding between their bodies. Snuggling into his arms as close as she could get, his little kitty cat just couldn’t stop herself from expressing her unhappiness. Something he found just as mesmerizing as the rest of her, because it was refreshingly honest.

“I don’t think I like your gentlemanly side, Dragon.”

Pulling her into him even closer, Arcylaen inhaled the exotic perfume of her hair and smiled wickedly into the darkness. “A temporary setback, kitten, I assure you. Very temporary.”

Thank you for reading! If you’re just tuning in, you can find all previous episodes of Thief of Dragons under The Wicked Web link on the menu above. Up next, Episode 20.

p.s. I normally don’t publish twice in one day, unless someone is in need of an Arcylaen-fix. 😉  Hope this did the trick!

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Thief of Dragons ♥ Episode 18

Astral

The Power of Spirit

The next morning, Roehn found the grand dining hall full of food, but empty of Dragons. Lifting covers off the trays, she made herself a plate and carried it into the kitchen. Rynd was sitting at the booth style table with Ilydan and Sajyn. They looked at her in surprise, but then the Hawk scooted over and patted the bench to his left. Grateful, she sat down. She was still nervous about facing Arcylaen, so was relieved he wasn’t there yet. They definitely needed to talk about what had happened the night before, she’d just prefer to get some coffee into her system first.

More than anything, Roehn hoped to get him to understand that he wasn’t to blame. She wanted to erase the memory of sheer horror that had crossed his features when he’d realized his own words had literally taken over all of her free will. Unfortunately, Rynd’s next words squashed any hope she’d get that chance before work.

“The Lords Draea were summoned to City Hall first thing this morning,” he informed her. “They won’t be able to make it to the museum before opening, so Lords Ryver and Grevys will be meeting us there for the authentication process.”

“Grievances have already been filed?” Roehn asked, glancing at her watch. It was only six-thirty!

“Word must’ve reached Haraj and Gwyn last night, undoubtedly from someone spotting you and Councilwoman Thaya arriving so close together at Draea Tower yesterday afternoon,” Rynd nodded. “They were waiting for the Council at dawn.”

The main floor lobby of Draea Tower had been rather busy, but Roehn’s suspicions fell to the busy little mice manning the large receptionist desk. Keeping that to herself, she shrugged a shoulder and started in on her breakfast.

“It’s nothing more than we were already expecting, right?”

Rynd gave her a wink. “Don’t worry, it will all blow over soon enough. Until then, guess who you get to hang out with all day?”

Roehn narrowed her eyes, while chewing on a strip of bacon. “You’re not going to follow me around the museum like some creepy lurker, are you?”

“Creepy?” he scoffed, feigning offense.

“I’d be creeped out,” Sajyn put in, causing Roehn to grin at him.

“That’s because you’re prey, chipmunk,” Rynd returned.

Even the racoon on Sajyn’s shoulder managed an unimpressed look at the insult.

“I’d just shoot him,” Ilydan supplied conversationally, while continuing to read the morning paper.

“So much love,” Rynd muttered back into his breakfast, while Roehn chuckled around hers.

*

Once again, the artifacts were conclusively authentic, but when Roehn asked Ryver if he’d heard anything about the Council session, his reply was negative.

“But, don’t worry,” he added. “I’m sure Cylaen will let you know the moment he and Brej have the final verdict.”

They didn’t. Word never came. Not a single phone call, text or appearance. Since Sajyn had been nice enough to pack her a lunch, there had been no need for Roehn to go outside during her break, yet she had. The sting of disappointment to see the curb devoid of Arcylaen’s all-black sedan stayed with her, despite Rynd’s continued vows of contact from the Dragon soon. Roehn tried consoling herself with reason. Most likely, the grievances had taken up time that Arcylaen had to make up at work, leaving him no time to contact anyone. He was just busy, that’s all. She had no idea what he did for a living, other than run the entire country of Skaulling in an unofficial capacity. That was bound to keep his plate excessively full.

At the end of the day, Ilydan appeared in an otherwise empty car to take her back to House Draea. Rynd was her only company for dinner. As much as she liked the Hawk, he was not the man she wanted to talk to. Finally, a Dragon entered the room as they were polishing off dessert. It just wasn’t the one she’d been hoping for.

“What’s for dinner? I’m starved,” Brejeir greeted, making his way to the covered trays on the serving buffet.

“Where’s Arcylaen?” Roehn asked.

“I’m sure he’ll be here shortly,” Brej answered. “The Council took longer than we’d anticipated. He’s probably still at the office working.”

She tried to settle with that, and couldn’t. “Why did it take longer? How did it go?”

“No worries, the Council stood by their choice, but to say the requesting Lords weren’t happy about it, is a slight understatement,” he replied, piling food onto his plate, before joining them at the table. Claiming the seat directly across from her again, he held Roehn’s gaze firmly. “Rynd will be your bodyguard for some time, so I hope you’re getting along okay.”

“She loves me,” the Hawk said confidently.

“What’s the threat?” Roehn asked.

“The word’s out now, that your Echelonite has chosen Arcylaen as its mate,” Brej answered soberly. “That makes you a target from many Houses, including some of our own.”

“I’m not afraid of Dragons,” she stated darkly, beyond irritated. “Especially, Eleqwyn Turvo.”

Bejeir smiled. “I see you’ve already had the pleasure,” he said. “Damn, I wish I could’ve been there. The problem is, she’s not the only Dragon who believes in the traditional uniting of Houses. There are older, more powerful members of our species that will do what they feel is necessary to preserve those traditions, even if it’s unlawful. Cylaen is deeply concerned for your safety now. I would advise not doing anything that will cause him more worry.”

“What can I do?” Roehn balked. “I have a babysitter and a driver. I can’t even go to my own house. I’m lucky I get to go to my job.”

“Leandra–”

“Don’t you dare say that you understand,” she cut him off viciously, pushing out of her chair. “Until you have been stripped of all your freedom and have someone with the power to physically make you do whatever they want with just their words, do not ever tell me that you understand!”

Though she instantly regretted losing her temper, Roehn felt every emotion behind her words. Unable to bear the weight of their pitying looks, she pivoted on her heels and retreated to her room. She hated the lack of outlet for her frustrations. She paced, wanting to rage, wishing she had the courage to pick up the priceless artifacts around her and throw them, but she didn’t. Being a conservationist wasn’t just for show, after all. Roehn could never live with herself if she purposely destroyed something with historical significance.

She wasn’t them. She wasn’t her family. Yet, once again, she found herself in the position of being utterly helpless because of their crimes! No one truly hated the Black Dogs of Cayen more than Roehn, but that hatred hurt. It cut away at her insides and messed with her head. There was something unnatural about despising your own flesh and blood, but how could she not? They’d abandoned her, shunned her, plotted to end her…and worst of all, had been so horrible they’d been destroyed before she’d gotten the chance to meet them. Before she could look them in the eyes and demand to know why!

They were just as much to blame for robbing her of that opportunity as the Dragons. But, Roehn was tired of blaming. She just wanted to move on and the only way to do that, was by completing her mission to take her rightful inheritance and turn it into something good. She wanted people to see that a daughter of the House of Cayen could be better. Could make better choices, and be a positive force for change, but that was mostly likely a pipe dream. In truth, they would never really knew who she was. Every time they would praise or compliment her accomplishments, though, Roehn would know they were really cheering on a Black Dog. That’s all that mattered.

It was time to bring balance back to the scales. Perhaps, Arcylaen’s absence was really a blessing in disguise. Decided, Roehn quickly got herself ready for bed. Once she was tucked in, she went right to work. Despite the success of her powers, it took time getting deep enough into the right kind of meditative state that allowed her to leave her body. The Dragons thought they were up against a group of thieves, because there was no way one person alone could pull off the heists, carry all the goods and bypass the alarms. They had no idea how right and wrong they were.

Roehn had split her astral self a thousand times in the past, but this night was different. There was a greater risk at getting caught, a much greater consequence if she were and an even greater necessity to do it, anyway. She needed her freedom back. Not just for herself, but Arcylaen, as well. It was obvious the responsibility was weighing on him heavier than they’d thought it would. They had to remove the Warden Rites out from between them, before it ruined whatever chance they might have at a normal, healthy relationship. Something she’d never imagined being concerned about with a Dragon, but Roehn was no longer in denial over her attraction to him. There was an unquestionable desire to see where it might lead.

First, she just needed to pull off a little spiritual cat burglary. Nothing her chosen Echelonite couldn’t handle…

Thank you for reading! If you’d like to start Thief of Dragons from the beginning, you can find all of the previous episodes under The Wicked Web link on the menu. Up next, Episode 19.

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Coming Up For Coffee

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Yes, more coffee… I don’t need more air, I’m long-winded as it is – or maybe it’s opinionated? Either way, I’m still here, just been heck’a busy in all of the best ways. I started a new job, getting kids ready for school and most importantly have been hibernating in the writing cave in between.

I’m soooooo close to finishing Scavenger, I can taste it! The finish line is just at my fingertips.

Also, giving Avarice Unforgiving a good scrubbing (aka cutting about 10k words wherever I can), because that’s going off to the editor in just under 2 weeks! The book cover’s already ordered and I’m pushing for a December 1st release date. 😀

And because there’s never any rest for the wicked, I am also on a deadline with my publisher to get the final manuscript for Shades Soirée (bk. 2 of my Matron City Trilogy / The Zen Lounge) turned into them by September 25th! blah, contracts.

So, I hope everyone is doing great and getting time in their own writing caves. I’ll hopefully be getting another Dear Indie post up soon or at least participating in some book tours.

How’s your week going? Ms. Felicia, isn’t it almost time for the release of In the Best Interest of the Child? I can’t wait to read that… drumming fingers. 😀

Greedy Little Bastard

 

That’s what you’ve reduced me to

I’m gobbling up days, hoarding time

I’m closed off in my cave, Do Not Disturb

No calls, Caffeine Drip

I’m inching closer to the escape hatch

One critically constructed convergence at a time

You can’t keep me, but I’ve got you chained to the screen

It’s not you, and it sure in the hell ain’t me…

It’s that two-bit floozy I call my muse

The moment you’re revealed, she’s long gone

So, there will be no previews, no teasers, no seedy peep shows

You’ll sit there and gimme all you got

Until the binds of Avarice have come undone

And that fickle hussy’s on the run.

#amwriting

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Acceptance

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image source: pinterest

“Rochi,” she stated confidently. “I did it.”

“No,” Rochelle exhaled. “Is it up on the site now? I wanna see it!”

“Yes, but it’s not finished,” Cat admitted… “And it doesn’t matter. I have a date on Wednesday at 2:30 for coffee.”

“Shut the fuck up!” Rochelle steamed. “Already?! How the fuck?”

“I messaged a Dom and he answered, it’s really not rocket science, Chi,” Cat answered sweetly… “You just have to put yourself out there.”

“Put myself out there? Bitch, if I was anymore out there, I’d get arrested for Public Indecency! I can’t believe you! AHHGHH!”

When the phone disconnected, Cat simply set it down and opened a new word document on her laptop to start her lists. She made it as far as ‘Age play’ before her phone was ringing again.

“Yep?”

“Okay, fine I fucking love you, what’s his screenname so I can check this supposed Dom out?”

Tru Calling #WIP
A.C. Melody