Found (Elemental Ops 3)
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Copyright ©2014 Julia Talbot
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Jesu Cristo. What the hell was old Jack gon' do with an orange, highfalutin, female dragon?
Jacques looked at Serena, who had color back in her scales now that she wasn't wasting away thanks to him ignoring her. He smiled a little. He was gonna love her. That was what he'd do. After that, well, he had no idea.
Serena looked at him, rolled her pretty, multi-faceted eyes. Silly man.
"Well, I didn't know dragons existed 'til just these last days," Jack said out loud. Talking inside not out was gonna be odd.
She snorted, but she was pleased, he could tell. Her tail said so, the end flicking his ear. Crazy beast.
He glanced around, realizing the other dragons, and his team, had left them alone. Shit, how much time had passed? Hours? Days? His belly rumbled like Keon's big dragon Damien was in there.
Her head tilted. Hungry?
"I am, cherie. Starving." He could eat an alligator.
Show you. Serena led the way, making oddly musical noises. Dragon humming.
He could hear the echo of it in his head, too, like she was only being polite making noises out loud. In his mind, she was singing operas. Jack grinned. It did scramble his brain a bit.
"You got to be so girly-girl? Can't you be macho?" He poked her haunch.
She fluttered her eyelashes at him, then bared her teeth, showing a line of long, needle-sharp weapons that would rip his arm off.
"Well, now, that kind of fierce I can get behind."
"Hey." Gig, their Elemental Ops tech guy wandered into the hall, his little Asian dragon clinging to his shoulder. "Shannon is cooking."
"Good. God, I'm starving to death."
The little beast named Cor hid from Jack, face in Gig's throat.
"Don't worry, little dude. I won't let him eat you." Gig stroked Cor's tail.
What a weird turn life had taken.
Keon wandered by, caressing Serena along the way, the odd little man Zen as hell. That crazy hair and mostly naked body still made Jack stare. Lord, he must need to get laid bad if he was jealous that Ice was getting some of that. The scent of bacon and onions hit his nose and sex left his mind in a rush.
"Smells good, Shan." Jack walked into the big kitchen and smiled at the big redheaded soldier who'd been his friend for so long. "No dragon for you, huh?"
"Nope. I'm not hook-up-able."
"Shit, don't say that around here." Ice came in, that white-blond crew cut growing out a little, the smile on Ice's face making Jacques blink. Lord, this place was good for the man.
Shan snorted. "True story. You guys are caught through the..."
Ice cleared his throat. "Little ears."
Shannon blinked, then broke into a huge, booming laugh. "Dude, they're not babies, are they? I mean, they're dragons."
Not a baby. Serena sounded so put out.
"No, but I think Cor might be, sweet girl."
He's tiny. Scared. I am not scared. Grown up.
You're my so brave girl. Jack was amazed at how fast he could go from denial to pure love. He'd been a pure-D idiot, trying to push his dragon away, and his Serena, well, shit. She was the finest young lady he'd ever known. Strong. Brave.
She trilled happily and rubbed her head against his arm, and he scratched her eye ridges, pushing gently.
"Look at you two. You're basking, which, okay, she's a lizard."
Serena was going to bite Shannon. Jack saw the image clearly in his head.
"Shut up, Shan. You just wait. Your turn is coming." Gig sounded so sure.
"Nonsense." Shannon reached into the cooler and pulled out a metric fuck ton of bacon. Jack stared, wondering where that had come from.
"Who does logistics for the dragons?" he asked Ice.
"Keon and some guy in town his family has known for years."
"Some guy? They have all these kids up here and it's some guy?"
Ice's blue eyes narrowed at him. "What are you trying to say, Jack?"
"That we need protection. Real protection for these guys who are trying to come up here and mess with our dragons."
Ice nodded slowly, crossing his arms over his chest to lean back against the counter. "Okay. I can buy that. I guess that means you're staying around, Mister I'm Not a Dragon Man?"