Authors: Jana Leigh,Willow Brooke
Gandore was gradually getting up, squinting at the bright sunlight. Dragons were by nature creatures of the night, but all had dwelled in the sunlight regularly. Waking early was not normal, and he was all but thrilled. “Why are we getting up at this ungodly hour?”
“We’re going to a shop in the city. I think we might be able to get some insight on what the humans are planning, and if my visions are correct, find out who is the mastermind behind all of this.”
“And this informant wouldn't be around later today?” Jex complained.
“Whether she would or not, I’m not willing to chance it. Now get dressed and let's go!” Jex was weighing heavy on his nerves, making for a long day ahead. The kid had a gift of saying and doing things intentionally to test his control.
Deliberately, Jex moved slower than molasses, taking his time to make a bathroom run and get dressed. Twenty-two minutes later, they walked out the door with Drakk's patience long gone.
The cab dropped them off on a little side street, next to a cafe and an old bookstore. A tiny shop sat in between, appearing nothing more than a whole in the wall. If it weren't for the little tattered wooden sign that read, “Voodoo Witches’ Brew,” he would have thought it nothing more than a window into the bookstore.
The window display showed dark draperies and panels of sheer material draping down, with candles settled amongst books, metal jeweled rods, shrunken heads, and of course to hold true to the name, cloth voodoo dolls. It looked like an old vintage antique shop of sorts, with a taste of bad Halloween thrown in the mix.
Jex stopped dead in his tracks and turned to the others. “This is why we are awake? To go in a tacky, dusty, old creepy thrift store? I mean, look at this place. They have old nappy dolls for shit’s sake,” he whined.
Drakk had just about enough of Jex for a lifetime, and was finally at the end of his rope. In one grab, he fisted the younger dragon's shirt and yanked him eye to eye, staring him down. Both of his eyes began to glow, and he fought back the razor sharp claws that ached in his fingertips.
Going pure alpha, he growled, “Enough.” The single word was all that was needed.
Jex immediately shut up, both from the intimidating powerful leader and from the power an alpha had over his clan. Drakk lingered, staring long enough that Jex felt the sharp pain stab through his chest. By the time Drakk released him, Jex was gasping for air.
“Damn it, Drakk, cool the fuck down.” Gandore knew Jex was a pain in the ass, but seeing him recover from the internal ass whooping he had just received pissed him off. They were family, and even though Drakk was their leader, he tended to act like the stronger older brother from time to time.
Drakk scowled, knowing that Gandore was right but hating it nonetheless. He was the damn alpha for fuck’s sake, and Jex had better learn it soon. Gandore opened the door, sounding off the chimes, and waited for them to enter. Jex dragged his feet, still pouting, with a huffy Drakk behind him. Gandore shook his head in disbelief and went in last, letting the door swing shut with the jingle of bells that dangled on the handle once more.
The inside of the store was more than he had anticipated. For having such a cliché name and storefront, the inside was pretty cool. Full, but cool. Aisles of tables and shelves lined the room, full of cool novelty gifts and items. As the three walked around getting a feel of the place before they approached the little brunette behind the counter, they discovered that some things were legit magical items and ancient relics. Next to a glass ball that sparked when touched with a sticker that said 'Made in China' was a worn and tattered leather covered book. No title or author was listed, but instead held a simple symbol that was burned into it. Drakk grabbed it and tucked it under his arm, continuing his search.
Jex had walked two aisles over, and now stood with a black velvet cape on and held a wooden jeweled wand. “Wingardium leviosa!” He swished and flicked the wand at them, giving his best Harry Potter imitation.
“You’re a jackass. Put it up and keep looking,” Gandore scolded before he set Drakk off again. Drakk glanced in their direction but kept scouring the shelves. Jex seemed to pout but took off the ridiculous garb and went back to searching.
About that time, the little brunette from behind the counter walked over to Drakk. “Can I help you find something?” she purred. Both Gandore and Jex stopped and stared.
Drakk almost choked on his tongue when the woman walked over. He had been checking out an old wooden box when she approached and took him off guard. The moment their eyes met, he felt the intense pull she held on him. Was she a witch? Something was off, but he couldn't put his finger on it. The woman had him almost hypnotized, and so far, he couldn't find his tongue. No woman in all the strands of time had affected him this way, and it didn't sit right.
When he did remember how to talk, the big dragon stuttered and stammered, embarrassing Gandore to the point he walked up to save him. “What my buddy here is trying to say is no, we are just browsing, thank you.” The woman shot him a sparkling grin, reaching out her hand.
“I am Aislinn. If you need anything...anything at all...just let me know.”
Drakk reached out his hand, taking his time to shake Aislinn's before pulling it to his lips. He placed a single, sweet kiss on the back of her hand and answered, “I am Drakk.” His eyes remained locked to hers, transfixed on the sparkling honey pools like none other.
Jex came barreling up, knocking into Drakk and totally ruining the moment. “Hey. I am Jex. The younger, hotter, funnier one.” Aislinn giggled and Drakk snorted, grumbling under his breath something about a fire pit, spit, and putting a rod somewhere.
“It is nice to meet you, Jex. Are you guys looking for anything in particular?”
“Ahh. Yes. You. And, if you have a twin sister, her too.” Jex doubled over when Drakk landed a punch to his gut, making Aislinn giggle. Her laugh was a sweet melody that almost didn't seem human. Drakk observed her, trying to ascertain what was different about her to no success. Why was he pulled to her? Gandore's voice from across the room tore him from his thoughts.
“Hey, Drakk, come take a look at this.” Gandore had an added seriousness laced in his normal all work no play monotone that set Drakk into motion. When he reached the side table in the corner and looked at what had his buddy upset, he almost lost it. There, in a metal box lined with black velvet, lay two dragon horns. Two honest to goodness horns that had come off slain members of his species. Son of a bitch. His eyes met Gandore's, resembling the same aghast as his own. He could barely contain the rage that coursed through his veins. Carefully, he took the box over to the human woman and showed her. Enunciating each word carefully, he spat out through clenched teeth, “Where did you get these, woman?”
Aislinn's eyes widened, sensing his mood change. Her shock soon turned to irritation at his rudeness. “Where I get the items in my shop is of no concern to anyone. If you wish to purchase it, please bring it up to the counter and I will ring it up. If not, I would appreciate if you put it back where you found it.”
It was odd to see the small, little, frail human with her shoulders squared, holding her ground. To a dragon. The absurdity of the situation was almost laughable. If he hadn't been holding the severed body parts of one of his species in his hand, he might have found her amusing. But it wasn't the case. “These are the horns off a dragon, Aislinn. I am making it my business. Now, let me ask one more time. Where. Did. You. Get. These.”
She looked between the two, unsure how to answer.
? As in, real flying-fire-breathing-village-pillaging dragons? They must have smoked something strong. Dragons were only in storybooks and in legends. Even in the witch cultures, all talk of them was nothing more than from the old scribes and books. He couldn't be serious. Could he? She stared into his intoxicating blue eyes and seemed to get lost. She could almost swim in their depths. All three of the men had a presence about them that one could not ignore. They radiated masculinity, and were delicious to look at. The one who seemed to be irritated and determined that she had somehow bought and was selling a set of
dragon horns captured her attention the most. The other two were probably the hottest men she had ever seen in her life, except for this one. This one, or Drakk, as he introduced himself as, was mesmeric. He had the sun kissed skin of a surfer, mixed with the long, golden locks that held just enough strawberry tint she had to fight herself not to taste it. And the muscles. Lord, who could ignore each and every bulge on his ginormous frame? He towered over her five foot five stature like a giant sports star. Unlike the lanky basketball or beefy football players, these men held more of a Viking vibe.
“Well?” The impatience in his voice made her knees shake. She fought to recall the question, bouncing when it finally hit.
“A woman. I don't know her name, or where she was from. But you can't be seriously considering that these are real, can you?” Aislinn half laughed at the absurdity. “Dragons are legends. Things children dream up—who lives by the sea, and frolics in the autumn mist. They are make-believe. There is no way those can be from a
dragon. I might need to check to make sure they aren't from an endangered species though. I won't have something illegal in my store.”
Drakk rolled his eyes from her dense views. Clutching the box tight, he addressed her again. “So, why, prey do tell, didn't you check it out
you purchased them?” He narrowed his eyes down on her, watching her reaction. Instead of her being afraid, she looked angry. He had to give her props. She may not know what he was, but even in human form, most people cowered from them.
With her little chin tilted upward and her mouth set in a firm line, she propped both of her hands on her hips in a scold. “We need to get one thing straight. I have been humoring your questions and answering out of courtesy, but know this—I don't have to tell you a damn thing. Now, for the record, I didn't believe they were real. I mean, seriously. Who the hell would believe they were the horns off a
Drakk’s glare had her stepping backwards, edging toward the phone. Gandore had seen the situation unfolding and had eased up from behind, hoping to dissipate his leader's temper before he created a scene. When he saw she was heading for the phone, he stepped behind her just before she ran into him.
The ferocity in Drakk’s eyes scared Aislinn. He had an air about him that screamed dangerous, and set the hair on the back of her neck to stand on end. She moved slowly, trying to gain space between her and the giant beast who looked like he would eat her in one gulp if she so much as muttered a single sound. When she backed in to a brick wall, her heart almost stopped. Turning slowly, her fears had come true. The other one, Jex, stared down at her with piercing gray eyes. She froze, immobilized from fear and infatuation.
“Whoa, you guys are freaking me out. I think maybe you should leave,” Aislinn said firmly.
“I think not,” Drakk said and looked at his team, then back to Aislinn. “First we need some answers, and you are going to provide them.”
Aislinn swallowed and looked at the men who were standing in her shop. They were crazy sexy and she was more than a little curious as to how they were all crazy.
I mean, most people in a mental ward were not so drop dead gorgeous
. “Okay, well sure, just give me a few moments to get some things put away and I will help you out,” she said in what she hoped was soothing tone.
Drakk and Jex looked at one another. The woman thought they were crazy, and she was not taking them seriously. “Hey,” Jex laughed, “what is going on inside that pretty little head?”
“Oh nothing,” Aislinn laughed and began to back away.
“She is afraid of us,” Drakk laughed, “as well she should be.”
Aislinn smiled and turned thinking she just needed to make it to the office and she could shut herself in. Then she could call the police and have them removed.
“We don’t have time for this,” Drakk said impatiently. He walked to where she stood frozen and looked into her eyes and that was the last thing she remembered.
“Did you really have to knock her out for so long?” Jex grumbled. After Drakk had put her to sleep, they had locked up her store and made sure it was secure before taking her to their new lair. While the three were at the store, the others had searched and found a set of caves that would suit them just fine. Using their magic, they had been able to get everything they needed to make the human woman comfortable for the time being.
“Yes, she annoyed me,” Drakk said calmly and then lay back down. It was good to be in his dragon form again. When they arrived at the cave Drakk had changed instantly and let Jex take care of the woman. There was something about her, something he couldn’t put his finger on, and it was bothering him. In fact, it was more than bothering him—it was pissing him off.
Drakk looked at his younger friend through hooded eyes, and if he wasn’t mistaken, the younger dragon was just as effected by her. He didn’t know what that meant, but he was going to find out.
“Everyone annoys you.” Jex laughed and stared at the woman. “There is something about her though.”
“What?” Drakk said slowly.
“I don’t know, something. She is special.” Jex laughed and shrugged.
“Special in general, or special to you,” Drakk asked pointedly.
Jex frowned and then looked at his leader with a shocked expression. “Shit, you too?”
“I think so,” Drakk acknowledged.
“Damn, I never thought I would find my mate. I mean it was like a million to one shot anyway, but both of us are her mates? What are those odds?” Jex said and then he turned and looked at Drakk. “How are we going to make her choose?”
Drakk frowned and looked at the younger dragon and shook his head. He could have her, Drakk didn’t want to have a mate yet, he was nowhere near ready to settle down, and this gave him an out, but the words would not come out of his mouth, instead he shrugged and turned away. He intended to make sure the woman was taken care of and gave them the information they needed, then Jex could have her.