Henry, a human, is wed to a nearly immortal dragon. As the Christmas holidays approach and Henry struggles with meeting his estranged father after fifteen years apart, his soul is troubled by the knowledge that he will die long before his husband. His solution, to become a werewolf.
James has his reasons for not wanting Henry to undergo the transformation. The biggest – knowing Henry could die in the attempt. Will their love survive their different views of the future?
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A Dragon for Christmas (Dragon Schooled 4)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Emily Carrington
Henry Tavery grinned at his husband’s surly mutterings about Christmas.
“It’s too damn early for carols and twenty-four-hour Christmas pop songs,” James grumped as he and Henry entered their apartment. Both of them kicked snow off their boots. It was mid-November and they’d just returned from a shopping trip. The grocery store had been full of… well, what else? Christmas decorations mixed with a few paltry nods to Thanksgiving. Plus, over-the-loudspeakers, holiday music.
Henry rather enjoyed the early cheer. Even though Christmas in Washington, DC was milder than in upstate New York, where he’d spent his teenage years, the skies were still gray. He liked having something to look forward to.
Still, he didn’t stop James, his dragon lover, from griping because, in the first place, it was harmless. In the second place, James had to shed his scales around Christmas. That was like an incredibly uncomfortable five-to-seven-day menstrual cycle, or so Henry had heard. Even though dragons only shed their scales twice a year, this troublesome time put much strain on their tempers.
And, of course, Henry couldn’t touch James during those five-to-seven days because dragon scales, once shed, burned human skin.
Henry thought with a touch of frustration, If I was just a dragon too…
But he didn’t want to chase that idea now. He and James had struggled through enough arguments on the subject. Henry was feeling too good to start a disagreement.
He began sorting through the mail that he’d picked up at their mailbox downstairs while James took the groceries into the kitchen and started putting them away. Bill. Bill. Something addressed to “our neighbor,” and…
Henry didn’t recognize the handwriting on the outside of the envelope addressed to him but the moment he saw the name above the return address, he whispered, “James…” He meant to shout it, but his heart was lodged in his throat. He tried again but managed little more than a croak. “James…” He needed his husband. Right now.
And James, with his preternatural hearing, was there, wrapping his arms tight around Henry and hugging him from behind. He took the letter and asked, “Shawn Tripi? Is he a cousin or something?”
Henry could still barely breathe around the lump in his throat. He leaned back against James, inhaling the scent of winter air and good, healthy male. James was his shelter, had always been so, even when Henry had been too furious with the world to let others fight his battles.
“Hank?” It was the nickname James usually reserved for their bed games but now there was a tender undertone to the single syllable.
“It’s my father,” Henry said with difficulty.
James didn’t know the half of it. Henry had never talked about his father, the man who’d run out on him and his mom when he was just ten years old. He had good memories of the dickhead that he kept secret. He didn’t want to admit to himself that maybe his father had been planning to ditch his family for years and hence all of his actions had been duplicitous. Those good memories were made up, mostly, of things his father had taught him. Like how they’d played the “beat the cash register” game when he was four or five, giving him a great grounding in math. Or the spelling tests the bastard had helped Henry prepare for. Or…
He was distracted when James took the letter from him, lifted it to his nose, and sniffed it.
Henry turned in the circle of James’s left arm and asked, “What do you smell?” Expecting something like “perfume” or “cigarettes.” His father hadn’t been a smoker, but…
“Werewolves. A lot of them.”
Henry knew his eyes were huge. “But… but my father’s human.”
“I smell human too, a man,” James said, his eyes narrowed as he stared at the letter. “But it’s unmistakable. Werewolves were near him when he wrote this. Probably more than just passing because the envelope is saturated with their scent. Males and females. I’d say this envelope, at least, spent a good couple of weeks in their presence.” Then he lowered the letter and pulled Henry against him once more. “I think we should put off this letter until after I’ve shown you how much I love you.”
Henry shook his head. “But I know you love me.”
“This is about proving to your soul that no matter what you read, I’ll always be here.”
Henry couldn’t argue with that. He took the surprise from his estranged father and set it on the back of the couch. “Bedroom or right here?”
"Bedroom. But first..." And James kissed him.