Encounter: Choice (Dragonfire)
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Copyright ©2013 B.J. McCall
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Arlo Klave grabbed a drink at the bar and joined the crowd. Conversation and raucous laughter filled the room. The annual Changeling bash was well under way and the guests were dressed to the nines. Arlo nodded to several familiar faces and said a quick hello to fellow dragon warriors, Velka Krytt and Byrne Tregaron. Like him, they were wearing their dress uniforms.
A familiar voice called his name.
Arlo saluted. He had served with Rett Aurumon in the Fire Mountains. Childhood friends, Rett and Arlo had joined the dragon warriors together, but the insignia on Rett’s uniform defined his superior rank. “It’s good to see you, Commander.”
Rett gave Arlo a hearty hug. “I hope you’ll decide to take the job. I need an experienced officer. I need you here.”
The job was an excellent opportunity and a higher rank meant better pay, but Arlo would have to leave his beloved Fire Mountains and move to Drakken Bay. “I’m thinking about it.”
“She looks amazing.”
Arlo didn’t have to ask Rett which she he was referring to. Rett knew there was only one dragon for Arlo, but his cousin, Jacie Aurumon, wasn’t ready to settle down. A talented dancer, Jacie wanted to pursue her career.
Arlo and Jacie’s last evening together had been strained. Instead of announcing their intention to bond they’d decided to put things on hold, each going their own way. Arlo hadn’t laid eyes on Jacie in four months.
“The entertainment is about to start,” Rett said. “Jacie reserved seats for us.”
Just as Arlo settled into his seat, the house lights went off.
The curtain opened and the audience gasped. Jacie stood on a pedestal. Although she was in human form, she was covered with thin golden scales that displayed every curve and hollow. Her long blonde hair was shimmering strands of gold. She lifted her arms, displaying small gossamer wings, and sprang into the air. Her dance, an amazing combination of human movement and dragon flight, wowed the audience.
Jacie wasn’t wearing a costume, but maintaining a partial shift. Few dragons were capable of such extraordinary control. If he hadn’t see it with his own eyes, Arlo wouldn’t have believed it possible.
A human male joined Jacie on stage and the dance took a very sexy turn. Seeing her in the man’s arms was difficult, but Arlo was as mesmerized as the rest of the crowd. When the dance ended, Arlo joined the audience’s enthusiastic standing ovation.
Arlo’s heart twisted. The stage was where Jacie belonged. She belonged to the world and being his mate would only hold her back.
He turned to Rett. “I’ve made my decision. I accept your offer.”
* * *
In the privacy of her dressing room, Jacie released the tight control over her transformation. In a flash of gold light, her wings and scales disappeared, leaving her naked and in human form. Maintaining a partial shift sapped Jacie’s energy, but with concentration and practice she’d mastered the technique.
A knock on the door had Jacie on her feet. Her heart pounded as she slipped on a robe. She opened the door and her heart melted at the sight of Arlo, the love of her life. Seeing him in the front row tonight had inspired her. Jacie had given her best performance.
“You’re dance was amazing. Congratulations, Jacie.”
“I’m so glad you could make it.”
She closed the door and waited for him to sweep her into his arms and tell her how much he missed her. Arlo was polite and reserved.
Jacie didn’t want polite. She wanted the alpha dragon that kissed her senseless, tore off her clothes and told her she was the only dragon for him.
She jumped into his arms, leaving him no choice but to catch her. “I’ve missed you, Arlo.”
Their lips met, searing hot. Smoke seeped from Arlo’s nostrils. Maybe things weren’t perfect between them, but the air still sizzled when she was in his arms. Dragonfire.
He yanked at the tie of her robe, palmed her butt and pushed her back against the dressing room door. “I’m burning for you.”
Jacie opened his uniform jacket. Thankfully, he was wearing his dress uniform and not the fully armored battle model. Dragon warrior uniforms morphed with a shapeshift allowing the formidable warriors to fight in dragon or human form. She slid her hands over his smooth chest. “Love me.”
Arlo unfastened his pants and pushed them down his hips. A slick slide of desire and fiery passion brought them together, made them one.
She loved his heat and his strength. He was all hard muscle with the ability to touch her with passion and with gentleness, but tonight was about the fire that had simmered far too long. She welcomed the burn.
His thrusts were fast and deep, banging her backside against the door. Smoke filled the room.
Jacie wanted him. She needed this. Another deep thrust and she convulsed around him.
Arlo groaned and his hips stilled. “I love you, Jacie. I always will.”
She knew a goodbye when she heard it. Jacie fisted his hair, yanked his head back and looked him in the eye. “What are you saying?”
“I saw you dance. I knew you were talented, but what you did on the stage was stunning. I understand, Jacie. I get it.”
“You don’t want me?”
He closed his green eyes and took a deep breath. Then he set her on her feet and stepped back. “You were right to follow your dream,” he said, pulling up his trousers. “Being my mate would only hold you back.”
“Loving you has never held me back. Seeing you in the audience tonight gave me such happiness. I’m at my best when I’m with you.”
Arlo cupped her face in his hands and kissed her, a mournful meeting of lips.
“I can’t live without you,” Jacie said.
“It’s what’s best for you.”
“I love dancing, Arlo, and I love you. I shouldn’t have to make a choice.”
“We’re running in two different directions.”
Jacie fisted the front of his uniform. “Do you feel dragonfire or is that smoke seeping from your nostrils when we’re together a lie?”
“You know I feel it. Only with you.”
“I love you.” She tightened her hold on his jacket. Only true mates experienced dragonfire and Arlo was the dragon for her. “I’m not letting you go, ever. We’ll find a way. When are you going back to the Fire Mountains?”
“I’m not. I’m joining Rett at the Drakken Bay warrior base.”
Jacie’s heart skipped a beat. “My show is booked in Drakken Bay for the next six months.”
Arlo dug in his breast pocket and pulled out a tiny gold box. “I’ve been carrying this around for months.” He flipped open the lid.
Jacie gasped. Nestled in black velvet was an emerald ring, the traditional bonding stone for Arlo’s dragon clan.
Arlo picked up the ring. “Jacie, will you be my mate, share my life?”
“Yes. Ohhh, yes.”
Arlo slid the ring onto her finger. “We’ll need your parent’s blessing.”
Jacie’s parents loved Arlo, but parental acceptance was required for the bonding couple to be sanctioned by their dragon clan. “They’re arriving next week for the opening of the show.”
Arlo picked her up and spun her around. “Let’s go to my hotel room and see if we can set off the smoke alarms.”
Jacie laughed and hugged him tight. “I love you, Arlo.”
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