The Reluctant Queen (Clutch Wars 1)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2013 Mychael Black
This e-book file contains sexually explicit scenes and adult language which some may find offensive and which is not appropriate for a young audience. Changeling Press E-Books are for sale to adults, only, as defined by the laws of the country in which you made your purchase. Please store your files wisely, where they cannot be accessed by under-aged readers.
"How can you be so sure that she'll come with me?"
Bryn Navarro cupped his lover's face and smiled. "Loren, how can you doubt your own appeal?"
Loren didn't look particularly convinced. "Bryn. This has nothing to do with me. You're the one she needs to mate with -- not me."
"For procreation purposes, yes." Bryn leaned close enough to feel Loren's breath on his lips. "But for all else, it will be us. Together."
"When is the last time you even saw Tiamat?"
"Not since we were drakelings," Bryn admitted. "She'll come because she knows it means the difference between life and death for our kind."
"And the rest?"
Bryn kissed Loren, silencing the doubts that hadn't stopped since they'd found where Tiamat -- the last female of their kind -- was hiding. Bryn understood Loren's concerns, but he also knew Tia. Had circumstances been different, had she not left the brood to explore on her own ages ago, she would have ruled alongside Bryn all this time. Of course, if she hadn't left, she might have died like the rest.
Bryn shoved such thoughts away and focused on the man in his arms. He steered them toward the enormous bed they shared, Loren's clothing falling away with every step. Loren's skin was so pale compared to Bryn's. The differences between them fascinated Bryn whenever they touched -- always had, really.
No one knew the true nature of their relationship, though as king, Bryn didn't expect anyone to balk at the idea of him loving the head of his personal guard. Loren was a bit more reticent about it, so Bryn agreed to keep it quiet. For now.
In time, he hoped they could move beyond it and let the world know just how much he loved this man.
* * *
With the party in full swing, Marcus and Jordan spoke with the rest of the pack as each person came to greet them. Before long, however, all attention turned to the doorway. The crowd fell silent as a man stepped into the room. Marcus vaguely recognized him, a were of unknown species.
"I apologize for the interruption," the man said. He approached Marcus and Jordan and bowed. "I am Loren Cole."
"I know your name." Marcus gestured toward a door off to the side. "Let's go somewhere quieter and more private. Tia, come with me, please."
Tia followed silently, though her attention remained firmly attached to their visitor. Marcus had never seen her so enraptured, and he fought the urge to laugh. When they entered a seldom used office, Marcus and the others sat: Jordan to his left, Tia to his right, and their enigmatic guest across from him.
"You're not a wolf," Marcus said. "Though, from what I've heard, no one knows your true form."
"That is true. My species is... known for its seclusion." Loren rested his arms on the table, long, elegant fingers entwined. "I know you have taken care of the Dalton Gray problem. For that, I commend you. But there are others who exceed his level of depravity."
"I don't doubt that," Marcus said. "Are you here on behalf of a group?"
"Yes. I come bearing the seal of one of my kind." Loren pushed a folded paper toward Marcus. The wax seal appeared draconic in nature. "Vampires are no threat to us," Loren continued. "Demons, however, are."
Marcus lifted one eyebrow. "What do you think I can do against a demon?"
"Not you." Loren's gaze shifted to Tia.
Loren nodded. Tia shifted a bit in her seat and avoided Marcus' eyes. What the hell? "Why Tia?"
"Because she is the last female of our kind."
"What?" Jordan's response echoed Marcus' thoughts perfectly. Tia sighed. She stood and unceremoniously stripped down to nothing. Then she did the unthinkable; she changed.
"Holy shit..." Jordan whispered.
Marcus could only blink in disbelief as his adopted baby sister, one of his best Enforcers, took on her true shape for the first time -- at least since they'd met.
Azure scales covered Tia's body, her curves only accenting their brilliance. She looked human, for the most part, aside from her skin. Then came the wings. Covered in scales like the rest of her, but fading to black near the bottoms, they were large enough to enshroud her completely. She smiled and flicked out a forked tongue.
"Demons are destroying our brood," Loren said, his attention firmly riveted on the female dragon before them. "All that's left are me, my lord, and a small retinue of guards. No females, no young."
"Why did you keep this from me?" Marcus asked.
Tia shrugged. "As he said, our species is dying out. Females and the young are targeted to prevent any chance of breeding."
"Whoa..." Jordan sank back into his chair. "Is Tia your real name?"
"Sort of. It's a shortened form."
Her wings unfurled, revealing her nude body once more. At the center of her torso, a light shone brightly. Marcus and Jordan watched, dumbfounded, as Tia took the light in her hands. Bright white turned slowly into the blue of the ocean.
"Tiamat," she said. "I am Tiamat."