Read Dragon Deception Online

Authors: Mell Eight

Tags: #Gay romance, Paranormal, Supernatural Consultant

Dragon Deception (6 page)

BOOK: Dragon Deception
11.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

"Who was that?" Valerie asked. "You can't just call in an outsider like that! If you don't follow the protocol you'll get us both fired."

Mercury didn't bother to answer. A second later, the air shimmered next to him and Dane appeared. Lumie was clutching at his leg. They were inside the perimeter supposed to be maintained by the warded police tape.

Valerie jumped and swore. O'Simmons went a little white in the face. Dane ignored them all, immediately rushing forward and putting his hands on Mercury's shoulders. Mercury felt a block fall into place as Dane erected a magical wall between Mercury's body and the spell trying to force him to change shape.

"This is a nasty bit of work," Dane murmured as Mercury sagged against him in relief.

"Nasty, nasty," Lumie echoed, staring up at where Mercury's fingers were still stuck. "Daddy's silly."

"I know, Lumie. I need to look before I touch," Mercury replied with a grin.

Lumie nodded imperiously, something both adorable and hilarious coming from a five-year-old kit, and held his hands out for Dane to pick him up. Dane lifted Lumie high into the air until he could reach Mercury's hand. Lumie danced his fingers across Mercury's own fingers, and with a loud pop, Mercury's hand slipped free. Dane's wall faded away slowly. The part of the spell forcing Mercury to change shape had also vanished the moment Mercury was released.

Mercury's magic was depleted. He felt sweaty and gross, and a little stupid. It was idiotic of him to not double check the paint before reaching out and touching it. Dane let Lumie drop to the ground and wrapped his arms around Mercury. Lumie wandered off to eagerly check out his first real crime scene.

"Give the paint a whiff," Dane grumbled. "I really hate that smell."

Mercury obeyed and then wrinkled his nose at the first sniff. It smelled like paint, burnt building, and firefighting foam, but underneath all of that Mercury could smell tainted dragon magic. It was faint and it was also entirely possible that it hadn't been discernable until after Mercury had stupidly activated the hidden spell.

"The enemy was here," Mercury growled. "So either they bombed the building and then set the trap or they took advantage of someone else's criminal act and trapped the paint when the firefighters were still working."

"It's the first solid lead we've had in months," Dane replied eagerly. "The kits should obey their tutor for at least five more minutes. Let me dig at the layered spell in the paint for a bit."

"Why were you home?" Mercury asked since Daisy was supposed to be watching the kits while Dane searched through the woods. Then he thought of an even more serious worry. "What did you bribe the kits with?"

Dane blushed slightly. "Candy after dinner, but only if their tutor says they behaved." So the kits would be sugar high before bed. It made things a little more difficult, of course, but it was better to have happy kits than surly ones when it came to baths and pajamas. It only became an issue when Alloy decided to savor his candy, fell asleep with it still in his mouth, drooled all over his pillow, and woke with it on fire. "Daisy's son bit his teacher today," Dane added, sounding forcefully okay with how his morning had apparently turned out. Dane might not have a problem with the kits destroying his home or with a half-dozen things that drove Mercury mad, but he was desperate to find the missing dragons before the enemy did and losing the chance because Daisy had to leave work early again was enough to push his button. "Her husband took a half-day at work, but he can't leave until noon. Daisy promised Lumie she'll be back in time for our picnic, but until then I'm stuck making sure the kits don't kill this week's tutor." He sighed heavily for a moment.

"Wait a second!" Valerie snapped, interrupting Mercury before he could voice his sympathy. "Don't you dare contaminate the crime scene! Mercury, you know better than to invite someone arbitrarily into a case like this!"

"Ah," Mercury said, turning to look at Valerie. "May I introduce Dane, from the Supernatural Consulting Firm. The FBSI uses his services regularly."

"And you think we have the budget to hire him?" Valerie steamed, her face growing red as her eyes narrowed in fury.

Dane grinned over his shoulder at Mercury. "He'll pay me in sex tonight. Don't worry about your budget."

"What?" Valerie hissed, her face growing even redder. "I'll have your badge for this, Mercury!"

"He's my mate," Mercury said with a happy shrug. Valerie couldn't take his badge and Mercury seriously doubted she had the pull to get someone higher up to do it. Besides, it was such a cliché thing to say to an officer, Mercury knew she was just venting anger without actually thinking first. "We've been together for five years, so he'd come running if I called even if I didn't promise sex afterwards."

She gaped at them both for a brief second before storming off towards the basement. She was probably going to see if there was any truth to Mercury's claim that the building had been used for dogfighting. He also hoped she took a few minutes to calm down.

"Okay, bored now," Lumie rumbled. He threw his arms around Mercury's legs. "You won't forget, right?" he asked Mercury's knees.

Mercury glanced at his watch and was astonished to realize that it was already eleven o'clock. Where had all the time gone? "In two hours, I'll come home so Dane and I can go on your picnic," Mercury promised. He would drag Valerie kicking and screaming back to the office for lunch if he needed to.

"You'd better," Lumie sighed. He squeezed Mercury's legs one last time before letting go and running after Dane. He slammed into Dane's legs, causing Dane to swear and catch himself on a large piece of rubble so he didn't hit the ground. "Time to go," Lumie said with a wide grin up at Dane, who lost his responding scowl quickly under Lumie's cheerful onslaught.

"See you in a bit," Dane called over to Mercury, who smiled and nodded. Dane and Lumie vanished, leaving Mercury to return to work.


Mercury arrived home at exactly one o'clock looking harried, yet also exhilarated. He didn't mind his desk job, Dane knew that, but there was nothing quite like tracking down the enemy on foot. It got the adrenaline pumping and it was why Dane had chosen to open his consulting firm in the first place. He didn't need the money, and while he enjoyed helping people, Dane didn't need to be so open about it, but he loved the job and he had a feeling Mercury now did too.

Although, that angry partner of his would need to even out her temper and attitude first. Dane knew he shouldn't interfere, but he did want to pull her aside and read her the riot act, something Mercury would kill Dane for if he ever found out.

"Any luck?" Dane asked. There had been murmurs about the enemy over the past five years. Dragons like the mother and kits Dane was searching for who were running from the enemy were the most frequent. The trap Mercury had triggered was the most overt the enemy had been since the warehouse earthquake trap they had engineered five years ago. Dane and Mercury couldn't find them, which infuriated Dane to no end. The enemy had at least one dragon held prisoner that Dane knew of, an air kit named Platinum, but Mercury and Dane were very worried that the enemy had gotten more and was torturing them too while Dane and Mercury essentially twiddled their thumbs.

Mercury sighed. "I think Valerie finally browbeat Captain O'Simmons into at least looking into the possibility that someone was holding illegal dogfights in that building's basement. He's still insisting that there's no way his quiet town would have something as terrible as that, but when he said that he used the same amount of derision as when he happily told us there weren't any witches in his town either. Which means that Valerie is also sending a request to the FBI to have O'Simmons' unit investigated for racist hiring practices and racist policing. She's hoping a more open-minded and progressive person will take O'Simmons' place in time for us to make some progress on the case, but I'm not holding my breath."

"So no one is looking into the magic imbedded in the paint?" Dane asked, wondering if he could cut lunch short and go do some more digging on his own. He hadn't wanted to step on Mercury's toes by butting into his investigation and Dane had needed to get back to the kits and their long-suffering tutor anyway, so he had left before he was able to get more than a cursory look at the spell.

To Dane's relief, Mercury grinned conspiratorially. "I put a ward over the paint so O'Simmons' bumbling wouldn't destroy the evidence and contacted the SupFeds' in-house witch. She's agreed to be at the scene this afternoon whether O'Simmons likes it or not."

Dane shared Mercury's grin, glad that Mercury was happy, and a little aroused by it, but turned around when Dane heard Lumie grunting behind him. Lumie was dragging a wicker picnic basket as long as he was tall. It was huge and it looked heavy. What had the little scamp actually made? It looked like there was enough food in there to feed an army.

The basket was heavy, Dane realized as he hurried forward to take it from Lumie before he hurt himself. Daisy was in the kitchen feeding the rest of the kits. Lumie waved goodbye and scurried back so he wouldn't miss his own lunch.

"Shall we?" Dane asked, gallantly holding out his arm—the one not dragged down by the heavy basket—out for Mercury to take. He wrapped his arm around Dane's.

"Let's go."

Dane let his magic pull them away, reappearing in a familiar enough location. The clearing was a little more overgrown than it had been five years ago when five kits had been trying to nurse their sick father back to health. The three trees that had fallen still made a nice little cave off to one side, but they also let in a lot of sun and new trees were slowly growing to take their place. Still, Dane was able to find a flat enough bit of grass and scrub to lay out the blanket Lumie had helpfully included.

Mercury grinned at Dane, no doubt recognizing the location and Dane's attempt to be sentimental, but then he looked at the basket Dane had set down next to the blanket and remembered why they were actually here. "How bad do you think it is?" Mercury asked, his face set in a worried frown.

"Knowing Lumie?" Dane joked before pulling open the two halves of the top of the basket. A wave of heavy cinnamon scent practically exploded from inside. "Knowing Lumie, it probably has cinnamon in it," Dane sighed.

Mercury and Dane slowly unpacked the basket. First was a bowl of what appeared to be potato salad, except the potatoes had been turned a funny shade of reddish orange by the sheer multitude of cinnamon Lumie had added. Next was a plastic-wrap-covered plate of sandwiches. Dane was pretty sure they were chicken-salad sandwiches, but the mayo Lumie had doctored for the salad had the same off-color tinge as the potatoes. There was a bowl of leafy greens mixed with other chopped vegetables coated with… Dane sniffed it expectantly to double check his worst fears and found them confirmed. There was cinnamon-flavored salad dressing completely coating every inch of lettuce, carrot, and tomato.

"He included dessert," Mercury groaned. His hands were rubbing his face tiredly, but he peeked between his fingers just in time for Dane to pull out a covered pitcher of cinnamon iced tea. Dessert was, predictably, cinnamon cheesecake.

"Lumie isn't allowed to cook for other people ever again," Dane grumped, staring incredulously at the food Lumie expected them to choke down.

"You still have the number for the pizza place?" Mercury asked. He was looking at the food as if he might be sick.

Dane immediately pulled out his phone and, predictably, there wasn't any signal in the middle of the forest. "Let me see if I can get a few bars. If not, I'll pop into town and order one there." Dane bent over to press his lips against Mercury's, loving the way Mercury groaned and pushed closer to Dane immediately, but he pulled away a few moments later with a grimace.

"Everything reeks of cinnamon. I can't even enjoy you with that stench in my nose," Mercury whined.

Dane couldn't help laughing at Mercury, and Mercury grinned along with Dane because it was hilarious. Dane pecked Mercury on the end of his sensitive nose before getting back to his feet and heading across the clearing. Dane's phone resolutely told him there were zero towers nearby as he walked around in an awkward shuffle with his phone held out in the air, desperately hoping the little bar would appear in the corner. He made it all the way to the far tree line before he found even one bar of signal, but it flickered out before Dane could pull his phone to his ear to make a call.

A touch of magic to augment the signal would solve the problem. Dane much preferred to do that and spend the twenty minutes it would take for the pizza to cook sitting with Mercury than standing around in the store. He called on his magic, letting it form slowly between his fingers, and jumped about a foot in the air when his magic informed him that it had found dragons.

Dane hadn't ended the spell he had been using when Daisy called to let him know she was taking a few hours off. It gleefully told Dane that there were three dragon kits tucked under a bush just three feet to his left.

"Damn it, Lumie," Dane grumbled under his breath. He must have known there would be dragon kits here. Couldn't he have just told Dane that instead of sending Mercury and Dane on an excuse of a picnic? Then again, it was Lumie, and he probably thought that was exactly what he had done.

Dane tucked his phone back into his pocket and waved to Mercury to let him know something was up. Mercury immediately straightened up on the picnic blanket instead of lounging indolently and making Dane want to jump him and start pulling clothes off. His magic flared briefly as he called it to his fingers in readiness.

It wasn't hard for Dane to keep his feet from making any noise while he crept over the heavy autumn-leaf debris covering the three feet of ground to where the dragon kits were hiding. The bush was big enough that a casual observer might miss them, but it was starting to lose its leaves too and Dane could make out the occasional flash of red scales as he got closer.

"But it smells so good!" one of the kits whined.

BOOK: Dragon Deception
11.8Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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