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Authors: Crymsyn Hart

Dragonkin (6 page)

BOOK: Dragonkin
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“What did you call me?”

“Kes.”

“No, the other thing. Little bird. No one else called me that except Cas. He always joked that I was little compared to him.”

“It just popped out. I’m sorry.”

She shook her head. “It’s okay. You’re right. I have to let go of the guilt. I just don’t know how.”

He cupped her cheek. His warm palm felt good. The human contact felt wonderful. She turned her cheek into it and breathed in the deep musk of his skin. The draw she felt between them was irresistible. He pulled her closer until they were inches apart. He wound his fingers through her hair.

“The only way I know how is by touching another person. Talking to them. Letting them in.”

Kestrel nodded. She heard what he said, but it didn’t matter. Her mouth met his, and it was softer than she imagined. Andrik pressed his body to hers. His was hard and tense. The solidness of his muscles reminded her he was real. None of the men she had been with in the past were so dense. And yet he made no other move on her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and sank into the moment. He kissed her lightly and then pulled away. It seemed he was as breathless as she.

“I shouldn’t have kissed you. I’m sorry.”

He smiled. “Did you want to?”

“Yes.”

“Then you already took the first step back to yourself. Come on. I’m sure you’re tired. I’ll take you back to your room. I made arrangements for better accommodations for you.”

Neither of them moved. “Why are you doing this?”

“I’m not doing anything.”

“Then why do I feel this way?”

“What way?”

Kestrel slid her hand along his neck. Her finger shook as it traced the line of his jaw. The fire inside of her wound along her veins, and it seemed she would combust from the inside out. “Like I’m going to burn up. That I see you and want you, but I don’t know you.”

“Haven’t you felt that way with someone else you’re attracted to? It’s the primal instinct of dragons when we want to mate.”

“So my attraction for you is just a mating impulse to fuck you? It isn’t something more?”

He gave her a half-crooked smile. “It could be. Although I was hoping for something else.”

“What was that?”

He kissed her quickly and ran his nose along the side of her neck. His other hand slipped around her waist and settled on the small of her back. His palm was barely on her skin, but heat twisted along her spine. He ran his lips along the side of her throat, following the same line with his tongue. She groaned. When he breathed on the wet trail, she clutched his toned arms. Kestrel squeezed her eyes shut, trying to contain the passions inflaming her.

“Gods, you smell more like us now than before. I first noticed it when you were in my arms in the crypt.” He nipped the side of her throat. She wound her hand into his ebony hair, trailing it through the silky strands.

“I guess it’s that part Cas gave to me. I assume you enjoy it.”

He nibbled her a little harder. “You have no idea. I can sense your desire for me. It tastes like cloves on your skin. I know, in human terms, this is too sudden, this attraction. I shouldn’t want you. Whether it’s the component of you that’s dragon or the piece of me that recognizes that or something else completely different, I have no idea. I want to take this slow with you. I don’t want to scare you. Hurt you. The urge to taste all of you and drink in your warmth is driving me mad.” Andrik captured her lips again and crushed her to him.

His hard erection pressed against her stomach. He ran his tongue across her lips. She yearned to taste and to have him.
He’s right. This is too soon. I’ve never had this happen before, but I want him, too
. When he pulled away, she could breathe.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“I keep forgetting you’re not dragonkin. When we make love in human form, we share each other’s power. It’s a bonding so we don’t forget what we are. It was a gift given to us from the first pair of our kind. Even if we’re not mates, the sharing can happen.”

This time she was the one who stepped back, breaking the contact between them.
What am I doing? I’ve never wanted any man more than I desire him, but I’m not going to fall prey to some animal instinct inside of me.
She closed her eyes and drew in a long breath. The fire inside of her blazed higher the longer she was around him. Kestrel didn’t know what would happen to her if she gave herself over to those yearnings.
I can’t do this now. I have to get my bearings and figure this all out. If they can show me how to use this power, then maybe I can think about having a relationship with him.

“I think it’s a good idea to go back to my room. I . . .” She looked down at her feet, not able to meet his gaze.

He lifted her chin. The understanding in his eyes was clear. “It’s okay. Come on.” He offered her his hand. She entwined her fingers through his and smiled. The closeness made her feel secure and even human.

He’s right. I have to embrace my life. I have to start living now and not in the past. After all these years, someone sees me for me and not a pariah.

He led her to her door and stopped. Andrik took their combined hands and brought them to his lips. He kissed the back of her hand and then released her. “I’ll let you sleep. I’ll speak to Ralag about coming to see you tomorrow. He wants to talk to you, and you need things to wear. We shall get you all settled. You never have to worry about anyone ever calling you an outcast again. You belong here with us.”

She glanced at him and smiled. “Thank you, Andrik. I appreciate all of this. But what about this thing between us? What do we do?”

“We ignore it for now, until we’re both ready to explore it.” He touched her cheek lightly before stepping back into the corridor.

She gripped the handle to her door and pushed it in. “Good night.”

“Night.”

 

Chapter Seven

 

The next day, Ralag woke her and dragged her to a seamstress. The older woman eyed her, but said nothing. If she did ask a question, Ralag spoke to her. She took Kestrel’s measurements and then showed her enough cloth to make several dresses. Kestrel ran her hands over the fine material.

“Ralag, this is fine fabric. My stipend as a spellcaster is pitiful. I can’t pay for any of it.”

He chuckled. “Andrik asked me to take care of everything. When the prince of any realm considers you his personal guest, you do whatever he says. Besides, with all the queries I have for you, you might want to think twice about what you’re getting involved with.”

She smiled. “Questions I can take. I’ve had no one to talk to for so long. It’s nice for someone to take an interest in me. Ask me anything you want, but I was hoping you could answer a question for me.”

“Ask away, milady.”

“Last night Andrik showed me the crypt where all the other dragons were. Why do you keep them so near?”

“We keep them to remember them and teach our children where we come from. The bodies decompose and eventually crumble to dust. We also don’t want any raiders robbing our dead and using them for spare parts. The ones in the tomb are special because they are all shifters, all dragonkin.”

“What about you? Do you shift at all?”

Ralag laughed. “I didn’t inherent that trait. My brother and I are twins, but he got the ability and was therefore in line to rule. Only one of my daughters has two forms. The others are akin to me. Their children will most likely not be able to become dragons. After the third generation, the shifting gene goes dormant. Our offspring carry the genes, but do not have our longevity and are more likely to be spellcasters. Many of the surrounding villages house extended family. We protect them if they get into any trouble. Now what about you?”

“What about me?”

“I assume you never got an instruction manual on how to control the power that Castigan bestowed upon you or how to incorporate it into your life.”

“Hardly. The last thing I truly remember was Cas giving me his power, feeling him die, and then going a little mad. I was fifty years of crazy. The spellcasters locked me away until they were sure I was sane. In my fugue state, I hurt a good friend of mine.”

Ralag nodded. “I can teach you how to control it and the fire when we’re done here.”

“I’d like that.” Kestrel picked up another bolt of fabric. It was cobalt blue, the same color of dragon that had killed Castigan. She winced at the memory and pushed it away. “What is Andrik’s favorite color?”

Ralag raised an eyebrow and leaned over his cane. “Thinking of our prince now?”

She felt her cheeks burn. “I was just curious. He told me about his wife and how she died.”

“Losing Lara was a hard blow. She brought a brightness to this place we hadn’t seen since the queen died giving birth to Andrik. After her death, the king sunk into a depression. You saw the state of the throne room.”

“What happened to her?”

“She gave birth in human form. Andrik had a twin, but she was born deformed. She should have been human, but was a mixture of both. Andrik was born first, but they had to cut his sister out. An infection set in that we couldn’t cure. Sometimes it happens. Our human forms are tougher than mortals’, but we are still susceptible to human disease. Many of the shifters prefer dragon form.”

Kestrel nodded. The information was intriguing. She wanted to discover all she could about the culture she had been thrown into. “Thanks.”

“My pleasure.” Ralag hobbled over and examined the fabrics. “That one.”

He pointed to a deep purple. She ran her hand over the cloth and felt the silk.
I’ve never had anything this fine.
She held it up to herself and imagined the dress it would make. A garment with a train, a high collar, and laced with black stays at the bodice. The seamstress returned. She pointed to the fabric and explained what she wanted. The woman said something, nodded, and then waved them off. Ralag gestured toward the door.

“She said she’ll get them next week. I think you’ll be okay until then.”

Kestrel spent the rest of the day going with Ralag and getting the rest of the things she would need, from undergarments, shoes, and toiletries, to even a chest to be made for her new clothes. By the time dinner came along, Ralag showed her the way to the kitchens. She had no idea where she was in the mountain, even if all the hallways were connected. After dinner, she fell into bed exhausted.

The next day Ralag woke her early again, and he brought her to the practice field. Men and women fought with swords, and youngsters were using spells. He had her demonstrate her spellcaster powers. Everything he asked her was simple. Then he made her throw dragon fire at him. Next he instructed her to pull the power she had inside of her. She tried to tap into it, feeling warm, but wasn’t able to do what he wanted. After hours of him barking orders, night had fallen. He brought her back to her rooms. She ate and then collapsed into bed.

Kestrel spent the next three weeks with Ralag learning how to use her power. It had been so long since she had been a student, she was out of practice. Each morning was early, and each night was late. Some nights she dreamed of Castigan flying with her, and other nights she was with Andrik. She dreamed he could come to her by moonlight. His robes would be open, and all she had to do was touch him. Andrik would whisper he wanted her, and she’d give herself over to him willingly. They were together. Their bodies entwined until she wasn’t sure where her limbs ended and his began. His soft lips learned all of her arousal points. His hard cock slid into her wet depths, bringing her pleasure beyond belief. At the heights of her ecstasy, she would awake with a deep need inside of her that she wasn’t sure how to fill. The urge to go to him was overwhelming her, but she fought it. Those nights she found it hard to get back to sleep. The separation she experienced from Andrik was growing. The urge to hold him and get to know him better expanded in her soul.

One night, she stared at the stone ceiling, and sleep eluded her. She pulled a robe over her nightdress and left her room. She ran her hand through her hair and noticed how much everything hurt from Ralag’s training.
He was right when he said I’d hate him asking me questions. Oh well, it’s nice to be involved again.
Producing a small orb of dragon fire to light her way, she wound along the deserted halls. The minds of the dragons around her were at peace, many of them sleeping.
Good thing one of the first things Ralag taught me was to block them all out if I need to.
It was nice to be around when everything was so quiet. The cool air of the oncoming winter blew through the mountain, but she barely noticed it. She let her instincts guide her along the maze of corridors until she came to the door that led into the dragons’ crypt.

Kestrel wasn’t sure if she was allowed inside or not. No one was there to stop her. Biting her lip, she opened it and looked around.

The fireball followed her when she slipped inside. The room was chillier than the rest of the tunnels. She rubbed her arms to ward off the cold. She blew into her hands and watched her breath come out in a fog. Kestrel conjured another fireball and threw it up into the air to light her way, the way she had seen Andrik do. It hit one of the chandeliers and illuminated the cavern. She discovered she was standing by the mouth of a dragon. Its teeth were sharp, but she didn’t want to disturb it. Even among the dead, she assumed the essence of the elder dragons lingered. The cavern ran half the length of the mountain and sloped downward. Finally she came to Castigan.

For the first time, her grief didn’t overpower her. At last she was coming to terms with the sadness she had carried.

“It’s funny, Cas. After all this time, I’ve been mourning your death, stuck away in a library. Now, here I am back at the place you were stolen from. At least you got to come home. It would’ve been nice for you to know your heritage. Ralag says if you had been raised here and able to shift, you could’ve been human. They called you dragonkin. All those times I teased you about finding a mate, here you go giving me that part of yourself that marked me for your mate. If only we knew. There are so many what-ifs. So many questions I have and no one can answer them for me. So many desires. I don’t know what it is about Andrik. I don’t know if he’s you reborn or I have some strange connection with him. I’m drawn to him. It’s not because part of me recognizes him either. I like him.”

BOOK: Dragonkin
3.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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