Dragonfire 3: Covert|
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Copyright ©2012 B.J. McCall
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"You wanted to see me?"
Velka had to lift her chin to look at Raza, the highest ranking female member of the Rogues. Raza was a tall woman with broad hips, generous breasts, black hair and a blacker heart. In dragon form, she was a powerful beast with thick legs, large wings and a nasty tendency to bully others.
Raza was in her late thirties and the teenaged dragons called her the old monster. Velka was pushing thirty, but looked younger. The teenagers called her Flash.
On the first day Velka had joined the Rogues, Raza had tried to blast her on the tail with a flame shot. The young dragons had laughed when Velka had reacted in a flash, returning fire so quickly and forcefully that Raza's whiskers had been scorched and her horns blackened. Raza didn't like losing face in front of the group, and the line in the sand had been drawn.
Before the mission was over, Velka knew she and Raza would face off.
Raza loomed over Velka, using her height and size to intimidate. The ploy worked on the young and the insecure, but not on Velka. Dragon warriors bowed to no enemy.
But before she had a showdown with Raza, Velka had to get to Rusk. The leader had eluded law enforcement, and Velka was determined to bring him down.
"The boss wants to see you."
Rusk? Had she finally struck gold?
"I turned in the Andreas loot," Velka said, taking a defensive posture and keeping the excitement out of her voice. The last thing any Rogue wanted was to be called in before Rusk. They never came back. Painful death was the punishment for skimming off the profits.
"When Rusk summons you, you don't question why. Let's go."
Velka followed Raza to the rooftop of the ten-story building. The wind was howling and the temperature had dropped with the sun. The Rogues were housed in small groups and spread throughout the major cities in the Free Territories. They moved when ordered and they moved often. Even if Velka ordered a raid on the building, only a few Rogues would be caught.
Rusk was an enigma, and Raza came and went. Velka intended to bring them down.
Raza removed her leather jacket and high-heeled boots and stuffed them into a bag. "Follow me."
Velka pulled off her shoes and jeans. She didn't have a bag so she dropped them onto the rooftop. "Where are we going?"
Raza stripped off her leather pants and top. "Where I take you."
By the time Velka had pulled off her sweater and underwear, Raza had shifted. Yellow-green scales shimmering, Raza launched off the rooftop, dangling the bag from the talons of her left foot.
Needing to catch up, Velka ran across the roof and jumped off the edge of the building, transforming midair. The technique was part of dragon warrior training. Within seconds the cold night air that had hit her bare skin was sliding delightfully over scales heated by the shift and beneath her broad wings, providing lift.
The trip was short, just over a mile to an ultra-modern high-rise ablaze with lights. Raza landed on the rooftop and Velka followed. Raza transformed, changing from dragon to woman.
Velka shifted, again feeling the blast of cold wind on her bare skin while watching Raza take her time putting on her red leather outfit and high-heeled boots. Naked and shivering, Velka followed Raza into the building and along a long, carpeted hallway.
The carpet was plush beneath Velka's bare feet. At the far end, a door opened into a marble foyer. The ceiling was glass and in the center was a flowering tree with purple blooms. To the left was an elevator and to the right a set of double doors trimmed in gold. The doors were bracketed by long, vertical mirrors.
Velka caught a glimpse of herself in one of the mirrors. Whipped by the wind, her red hair was wild about her face and shoulders and her cold skin looked paler in the bright light.
Raza led her into a large living room with floor to ceiling windows. The monochromatic furniture was in shades of gray. The white carpet was plush. The only color in the room rested in the modernistic art on the walls. A human male with dark wavy hair was sitting in a white leather chair. He wore a dove gray v-necked sweater, dark gray slacks and black slippers on his feet.
Where was Rusk?
Raza rushed toward him, but his sweeping gaze remained on Velka. She felt it all the way to her toes and back again.
"Rusk, this is Velka."
The rogue leader was a human! No wonder Rusk was so elusive. By nature dragons disliked taking orders from humans.
Rusk rose from the chair, crooked his finger at Velka.
She stepped toward him.
Rusk was taller than Velka, but a few inches shorter than Raza. His brilliant white smile reached his gray eyes. He was an attractive man, but his face and waistline were showing the beginning signs of dissipation. Velka figured he was on the wrong side of forty.
She smiled at him.
"Lovely," Rusk said, running his knuckles along her jaw. "From what I hear you've got a brain behind this pretty face." He glanced at Raza. "What was her take on the Andreas job?"
"Highest in the group," Raza said.
His knuckles rested beneath her chin. "I understand you're quite a flyer?"
"I'm a dragon. It's in my genes."
Rusk chuckled. "I reward initiative."
Raza gasped as Rusk reached into his pants' pocket and pulled out a twined rope of gold. Velka recognized it. She'd scooped it out of one of the vaults at the Andreas estate. There were four and the Rogues had found them all, including one hidden in the base of a statue.
Dragons have a nose for gold, scenting it out even when it's hidden, but the base of the statue was solid steel. Even the most sensitive dragon wasn't capable of smelling it, so how had Raza found it?
The entire robbery seemed far too easy. The alarms were easily dismantled. There weren't any dogs, guards or staff at the mansion.
"Turn around," Rusk said.
Velka did as instructed. When Rusk placed the chain around Velka's neck, she took a deep breath. The smell of gold curled deliciously into her nostrils.
Rusk's fingertips brushed her shoulders. Then he kissed Velka right below the ear. "I'd like to give you another reward. The personal kind."