Sen looked up at them all. Then his gaze focused on Starrfire. “I’m glad he got you here. He’s braver than I have been for years. He’s wise beyond his years, that’s something you’ll figure out. He realized that despite both of our stubbornness, we needed to speak.” He took a drink.

Even though his name hadn’t been spoken, Gabriel felt that there was a lot of silent speak going on regarding him. Yet again Senias surprised him by what he said. The man was just full of surprises as of late.

“You’re father and son, of course you needed to speak. It doesn’t take wisdom to see that he is rebelling against you and I’m sure that you have gone above and beyond to earn his irritation and distrust.” Gabriel glanced at his dragon with a lifted brow before looking at Starr and going on, “But I also know that you’ve kept hunters off his trail and covered his tracks in ways that he’s never realized. I know you left him in his mother’s care and made sure none knew of his existence so that your past deeds weren’t taken out on him.” Gabriel looked away a moment letting it all sink in. He hadn’t come to this meeting ill prepared. He knew Sen’s flaws and had a whole library of cases and missions that told what Tasker Raudine had been doing over the years. Not having good, supportive parents himself, Gabriel knew how Starr felt and he also knew that Starr needed to hear the whole story. He at least gave Sen a way in.. he hoped. Now if the dragon didn’t fuck it up that would be amazing.

“What?” Starrfire looked from Gabriel to his drakkar. The word was spat more than said.

“This is a lot to digest for everyone.. Maybe we all just need a little time.” Raven offered the suggestion knowing that her Chosen would need time to process all of this. She wanted to support him and be his rock like he was for her all the time.

“We can’t wait on this any longer. Gabriel has been doing what he can toward this despite my previous lack of energy and  I’m tired of waiting for obstacles to be removed.” Senias poured himself another drink and then turned around. “I want you…” he looked between the three and then to Gabriel and back motioning with his free hand, “…all of you to be ready for whatever happens. I made a promise to myself and to other dragons a long time ago that I’ve just never had the perseverance to keep. Now, I find that everything is aligning. If we dragons want to be legitimized in the eyes of Crimson – to be allowed free will here in this world again – now is the time. I’d like to have your consent, maybe even your help.”

Again, Starr’s expression – his eyes growing larger for a moment and his head pulling back slightly as if he’d been smacked – showed that he was indeed shocked by what he was hearing. The positive thing? He was no longer looking for an ulterior motive. He was actually beginning to listen and not immediately think of defenses.   

“Besides… an old friend just reminded me of who and what I am. I’ve been hiding for so long that I had forgotten some of that.”  Senias smiled at Starrfire and Raven before adding, “He recognized your name by the way. Now I know why…” his gaze moved from Starr to Raven. “I have a feeling there’s going to be a nice little explanation needed when you see him next.” He toasted them.

“Shit. Really?” Starrfire crossed his arms over his chest angrily. “You had to fuck this up? I really like Lord Evansworth.” He seemed disappointed.

“Yes. Amazing that he hadn’t seen the resemblance. You chose a descendant of my form, after all. But don’t be upset, son. It was bound to come out. Just like the fact that you’re dating his daughter is news to me.” He took another drink and then turned around and grabbed the decanter and another highball.  “I’m Senias of Morias. You must be the quirky but intelligent Raven Evansworth of Morias… congratulations on that, by the way.” He poured the drink and held it out to her, but not exactly to her. It was actually held between her and Starr.

Starr took the drink and sniffing it, held it out for Raven in opposite fashion of previous…  

Gabriel had watched this happen with the coffee before, only it was Russ first, Raven second then Starr. Now he watched as Sen held the drink out to them only to see Starr take it first followed by Raven. His head canted to the side as he studied and took note of the actions. Like the intimate brush of cheek to cheek, this appeared to be draconic culture in some fashion. Now he just needed to understand the meaning of said actions. The intimate caress was a show of affection it seemed and a very personal one too. So Sen was showing he cared for him.

Okay.. so what was the meaning to this? Was it respect? Was it acknowledgement? It was then that it hit him.. Turning to pour himself a good drink, he was met by Senias holding one out to him already poured.  Realization dawned on him. He glanced Eva’s way and could tell she already understood long before he had pieced it together.

Taking the drink Raven held in salute to the drakkar of her Chosen. She had made her decision on where she stood concerning this dragon. When she had first come here, never would she have thought this way. 

“In the flesh and you are the incorrigible and ruthless Lord Senias of Morias.” She said it in an evil tone, though she smiled. “Thank you for the congrats and we are very happy.” She drank from the glass and held it out to her Chosen kindragon, ~ Don’t worry, my father likes you and this won’t change things.~

“Naaa… Russ?” Starrfire offered the drink to his best friend and kindred.  He wasn’t much on alcohol, truth be told. He couldn’t wait to have that cigar, though. If he had any vice, that was it.

Taking the glass Russ swirl the liquor and then drank it. Licking his lips the lycan moved to put the glass away.

“Now that the nerve racking parts are over,” Sen looked at the lycan matriarch, who had been uncharacteristically quiet, “Eva, I believe Devon is looking for you.  He’s parking the truck right now.” Senias made his way around the desk and took her hands in his. “Thank you for helping. I’ll be fine. I promise not to yell and bite this time.”

“You better not.” Eva growled before leaning in to kiss the dragon’s cheek. “Russell,” Eva held out her arm for a hug.

Hugging his mama, Russ looked back at his friends, “I’m gonna walk her out to the ole man. I’ll be back though.”

“Starr and Raven, behave…?” she smiled at both of the young adults and then she made her way out. If Devon needed to see her, something must have been off. She normally had the entire day to herself.  Now two people had warned her that her mate was looking for her.

“We’ll try mama wolf, tell papa wolf hey for us.” Raven smiled at her and blew her a kiss.

Eva and Russell stepped out of the room and the door closed behind them.  

“Kindred.” Gabriel had waited until the door shut to turn and look at the couple again.

“That’s what we call it. Or what humans and others call it and we just kind of stole the word, right, pops?” Starr walked over to a seat in front of the desk again and offered it to his lady.  

“All three of you?” Senias asked.  

Raven slid back down into the chair once more. It seemed that they weren’t leaving just yet so might as well get comfy.

“Yeah. I trust him more than anyone on this earth to help me protect Raven as well as me, myself and I. It was just a natural step. He and Raven, they’re my best friends and Raven is my Chosen.” Starr’s eyes went back to Gabriel. “But that’s a vampire’s word for umm… partner for life? Ball and chain?” he felt the wallop almost immediately, but chuckled in spite of himself.

And Raven definitely gave him a wallop.

Watching the interaction between the two made Gabriel smile as he looked down into his glass and then back at Starr. “So kindred, Chosen and husband all mean the same thing just in different cultures?”

There was choking sputter of a laugh from Raven as she shook her head and stared at the human like he couldn’t possibly be serious. Was he for real? Crossing her arms on one side of the chair she rested her chin on it and studied the human, “No.”


Sen moved to Gabriel’s chair and sat down in it, knowing he’d irk his future kindred. He didn’t care, besides, it looked like Gabe was about to begin his lessons in supernatural culture and titles.  He sipped his drink and watched; listened.

“No they are not the same thing. Husband is a bind term but go before a judge and you can divorce the one you once professed to love. Once divorced you don’t really have to ever see, talk or feel one another again. Unless kids are involved but even then contact can be very limited. Chosen is a deeper bond of mind, body and sometimes even soul. Once you are Chosen it is not as easy to separate. It usually only happens with death of one or the other. Kindred bonds can be profoundly soul deep and can’t really be broken not even in death now can they?” She looked at Starr’s drakkar. “Russell and Starr aren’t lovers, they are just friends that if need be would die for each other just as I would for them. Which is why Starr made him kindred.”

Starrfire took the seat next to Raven this time instead of sitting or standing right there with her. It showed that he was relaxing.  

“My apologies, it’s all rather confusing and new to me. I’m not used to being this involved outside my office.” Gabriel felt like he was the focus of attention and he wasn’t caring for it in the least. Especially given the intimacy of the topic. Letting others know where he lacked and where he was weak was not something that he was accustomed to. It made him very uncomfortable.

“It’s okay. There’s no need to apologize. They understand that you’re learning things that I and your grandfather and father never taught you. It’s actually our wrong, not yours.” His voice was softer than the usual tone. Gabriel would feel a strong hand at his back, once Senias sat up in the chair behind and to his side.

~ Do you need to sit? I can move… ~  

There was a visible relaxation to Gabriel’s usual tense form with Sen’s touch. ~ No, I am better standing right now, but thank you. ~ Any other time it would have irked him for Sen to claim his chair, but right now he was too engrossed in the conversation at hand to mind at all.

“There are a lot of differences in how each race and culture view the world and their relationships within it. A common misconception is the term “mate” for a dragon. Sometimes it can mean the full soulbound counterpart to one another. Sometimes a mate is simply the fellow dragon and dragoness that come together for the actual act of mating. It’s an instinctual drive in us that we can’t ignore sometimes – even if we’re taking on the body of another race. But humans think of a “mate” in some cultures as a “soulmate” or sometimes just a “friend”.”  Senias was looking into Gabriel’s gaze when he explained this.  “Sebastian…where our cultures and definitions varied was unfortunately our undoing. However, I like to think that our lives are better for our separation – at least they are now.”   

Raven was quiet because where the dragon hadn’t been present in her father’s life all these years, she had. She agreed that the differences between them was their undoing. She wasn’t so sure on the better for it part. It was true that Sebastian had been spending time with a human doctor as of late, but was she good for him? Only time would tell. If she wasn’t, Raven had no problem making a late night snack of her and making her disappear.  There was a lot more that Gabriel Kennedy needed to know about being in the life of a supernatural being. And that thought about defending her adopted father reminded her of that. 

“Now see he talks of all the mushy stuff and that’s great and all. But you need to really understand what it means to be a kindred and while the Lord there knows the dragon side, he has no clue on the other side of that bond.” Pushing up from her chair she held a hand back to keep Starr seated and watched as both dragons shifted to the edge of their seats, one in her defense and one to defend against her if need be. Taking a step towards the Councilor she watched him tense up and smiled. “I do though. I understand. You become a living, breathing extension of them and if it’s soul deep your hearts will beat in rhythm and you feel them right down to your core. The downside to it is that when they hurt you do and when you hurt they do. At first emotions are like rollercoasters because you haven’t figured out how to balance one another yet. With us there were lots of tears, laughter, fights and great make up sex.”

Starr smirked but continued to watch his love and her method of teaching. His drakkar seemed smitten enough, but he wondered if it was true or passing still. They still had a very long path ahead of them. It was odd that they were the elders and yet they were just now traveling this path that he and Raven and now Russ had been traveling for years.  

Raven smiled at her mate and her eyebrows danced up and down a few times.

Starr’s eyebrow raised. What was she up to?

Raven carefully and slowly closed the space between herself and Gabriel Kennedy. She didn’t want a reaction, yet. She was close enough that she felt his heart race against his chest and his warm breath as it skittered across her cheek. She could see Senias look at her with an expression of curious caution. He was already sitting up in the seat from before, but now he was on alert, the glass he was holding was being placed on the side of the desk.

She wouldn’t hurt him, but she would show him what else came with a kindred bond. “Stay still and just watch.” She spoke softly to the human so that the other two couldn’t hear her. She let her fangs come into view. If the bond was deep enough, it wouldn’t be long before both kindragons reacted to the supposed threat. Then she moved forward, toward him – with a quickness.

Unused to others being so close, Gabriel had felt himself panic for just a second. She moved fast and while he really didn’t think she meant him harm the flash of fangs made him lean back and away from Raven. What did she mean by stay still and watch? He had no other choice at this point unless he pushed her away and that might hurt her. “I don’t think..” That was as far as he got before he gave a startled sound when her nail scratched his hand.

Senias was up and across to stand in front of Gabriel within seconds – he’d actually begun moving before Raven had scratched his intended.  His eyes had shifted and he was growling when he shoved her backward. Starrfire had also reacted, as soon as he saw his drakkar on the move, he was there, catching Raven, spinning her to be behind him and facing his father, his eyes also the brilliant green color with black cat-like pupils.

Even as she was pushed backwards Raven was smiling and giving no further feelings of threat. Starr and his drakkar had reacted exactly as she knew they would.

“Relax both of you, I was just showing how quick that defense can kick in when you feel that your kindred is threatened or hurt.”

Starrfire turned to look her over and put his arm around her. Senias turned to Gabriel and did the same, taking the man’s hand and looking at the scratch there. “You didn’t have to harm him,” he grumbled before looking into Gabriel’s eyes. He was curious about what his lover thought, now. Was this too much?  

“I’m alright Sen it really was nothing.” Gabriel was still a little shaken but he’d recover. He wasn’t as shaken by Raven’s actions as he had been by the two draconic men. It did show him more of what it meant to be linked to a dragon. “What’s next? All night bar runs, no… wait we’ve done that so guess it’ll be something else.” Gabriel tried to make light of it so that Sen would know that he wasn’t scared off by this.

The dragon tried to calm his adrenaline. His hands were shaking, so he placed them out of sight, turning to place a hand around Gabriel’s waist. He watched Raven and growled low in his chest. He knew what she would taste.  

She licked the small trace of his blood from her finger and gasped at the tickle of heavy magic that laced that one drop.  It was her turn to look absolutely stunned as she stepped back with her own dragon. She looked towards Starr’s drakkar and saw the near-silent response. He knew.. The old claw knew, but did the Councilor? Something told her that he didn’t or at least he didn’t understand if he did know. ~ He’s no ordinary human. Your drakkar has one with natural magic. I don’t think Kennedy realizes it though. How rich is that?~ Raven even gave a soft little laugh as she sat back down so that Lord Morias would relax again.

~ It’s in my clan’s history books, the Kennedy’s in the line that had access to natural magic. But the recording stops at his generation. Guess they weren’t sure? Looks like you just confirmed it, though. I’ll have to update drakka. She’ll be really interested in that.  Should we say anything? ~

~ No babe you don’t understand. He’s a natural magi. Like the one that bound your drakkar to that body. Think how long ago that was. Plus he’s untapped. No training as you can tell or I wouldn’t have been able to do that to him. Tell your drakka, she’ll need to be warned. ~ Raven chose her words carefully now, “So touched by magic, no shocker there given your family. If the scratch is a bother just heal it and be good as new.”

His brow furrowed as Gabriel rubbed at his forehead, “I don’t do that. It’ll be fine.” Clearing his throat he looked at Sen and then at Starr, “Back to what we were talking about. I am building a good case to put before Council and I’m almost there.” Sen’s arm around his waist felt good and he relaxed against the redhead. Sen was taller and here he could get away with such acts.

“We’re in a fine position to make this happen.” Senias decided to move onward and since he’d found his human voice again, he could do that. “Gabriel has been assigned to getting new Councilors on the Council. Which means he has a chance to sway them and since he’s tasked me to help – I get that chance as well. They get to know me as just…me before being told I’m enemy number one – per Crimson amendments.”

“You’re talking about letting them know? I thought you meant getting the others to come forward. You know, the big dawgs,” Starr pointed out before holding his hand out expectantly for the glass Raven was drinking.  

“You know they won’t come forward unless they’re guaranteed not to be harmed…” Senias’ eyes held his lover’s gaze.  “I was there when the judgement was passed. I was part of the cause of it. It’s my responsibility to see it rescinded.”

“Are you sure you have everything, though? Shouldn’t you wait until you’re absolutely, positively…” Starr and his father had not gotten along, but just in this last hour, he could already tell there was a change. This version of his drakkar was the best version of the dragon; the man. The idea of losing that? It didn’t sit well with the younger dragon.

“Skinner knows what I am and he’s been using it against me.” Senias hadn’t told Gabriel this. He had only just admitted it to Sebastian. “I am sick of doing his warped bidding.”  

Drawing in a deep breath at this news, Gabriel went on,“They don’t have to come forward, I just need one to stand as witness before the Council as to what truly happened. That’s all I need, but it means exposing you as a dragon.. Are you sure you want to do that? If it doesn’t work or my case isn’t strong enough you’ll be turned over to them. I’m not sure I like that idea Sen.” Gabriel reached for his lovers hand and clasped it as he let Sen feel his concern.

Senias held Gabriel’s hand clasped that hand between his. He could do this because he had a lot of faith in Gabriel. And if the deck was stacked, so be it… he knew no matter what they did to him, he’d die before he let them get any information out of him.  

“The irony of the situation is, when you think you’ve got nothing to live for, you just keep trudging onward like a fuckin’ zombie. You don’t care who pokes and prods you. It’s not until you realize you’ve got this much to lose,” Sen looked over at Starr and Raven then back to Gabriel, “…that’s when you start to fight. That’s when you put yourself in the most danger. Either I keep trudging through life like that mindless, soulless zombie – or I do this and get the chance to finally enjoy everyone fully without constantly looking over my shoulder.”

There was a soft sigh and Gabriel had a hard time being okay with this when he and Sen had only just begun their relationship. He didn’t want to lose Sen but he also understood wanting to be free to be himself. Lifting his free hand Gabriel laid it on Sen’s scruffy cheek and nodded. “Alright, I’ll do my best. I just hope it’s enough.” Normally Gabriel Kennedy did not lack confidence in himself as a Councilor or a businessman, but this was a special situation.


“Your best is always enough.”

“I run as a messenger between the clans.”  Starrfire said suddenly while swirling his drink in the bottom of the glass.  

Both men looked at him.  

“All of them have massive libraries of shit. I mean… of… ledgers and books. Raven and I? Maybe even Russ and some of the others? Maybe we can bring back anything that might be helpful to the cause. I mean, all you have – theoretically – is the Crimson and human history about what all happened with the dragons. Maybe the dragons have a different take on it that can be verified. Maybe that can help? Maybe some of the older dragons can meet with you and you can talk ‘em into it so my drakkar isn’t the only one putting his neck on the line. And if there’s more, maybe the Council would be more apt to listen. Especially, if having dragons back on Council means they might stand to profit… something?”

“And they would. Profit is always a good motivation,” Sen pointed out.

“That’s a very good idea Starr and it would help a great deal. How long would you need to get this information?” They had an elf to pick up and get settled before continuing research. If Starr wanted to help them there was no way Gabriel was going to try and talk him out of it.

“It could take a few days, depends on how quickly I can get access or steal stuff…” he let that last part fall off. “I can have the Gorias stuff to you by tonight. And they keep good records.” Starr thought about it. “You could ask Mrs. Matthews about the Findias stuff. That could cut some time off…”

“Could ask my dad for his journals on that time.. There’s bound to be mention of the dragon mess somewhere in those pages right?” Raven offered up the suggestion not sure how well it would be taken.

“Someone in the coven had to be around during that time. His journals or the official coven journals would be useful.” Senias wasn’t sure what timeframe Sebastian had been left with nothing.  “We can go through as much as possible. Every reason we give the Council not to cook me is better than no reasons at all.”  

“Alright, well, we have other things we have to see to in a couple of hours. You can go and look into that part then.” Gabriel knew they were on a time constraint and yet he didn’t want to end this any faster than he had to. How long had it been since Sen had last seen his son? “For now, perhaps we can just relax and talk?”

Starr looked to Raven and then back to the other two. He shrugged and nodded before relaxing into the chair again.   

“We still have a little time before our next engagement requires our attention. How did your visit go?” He squeezed Sen’s hand and relaxed enough to actually enjoy the moment.

“I’ve never seen Sebastian as happy as he is right now. Your friend is his sunshine and he adores her. Considering she offered to castrate me should I hurt or upset him in anyway this morning, I’d say she adores him, too. I mean, focks sake – she took a damn oath, right?” he rubbed his thumb over Gabriel’s grip and then let go of it to walk over to a side chair so that the man could have his own seat back.  

“She seems alright.” Raven watched as Gabriel took his seat. “I’ve seen her, he doesn’t know that yet though. They don’t leave his chambers when she’s in the lair and he doesn’t even go into his lab as often.” That would tell Sen how bad his old friend had fallen for the doctor. One – he never took anyone to the lair and two – wasn’t often that he could be pulled away from his lab. “Her dad works with Crimson so not sure how long she’ll stick around.” Raven was leary but then with a mother like hers who could blame her?

“Her dad is not friendly toward vampires, either. His lack of ability to separate his personal bias from his work has kept him from being a Tasker.  Hopefully, Samantha won’t let that be an issue. She doesn’t often have Agent Keene around her. I took note of that not long after the clinic came to be.”  Senias pointed out all in good conversation. He looked at Gabriel, “You know her better than we do, what do you think?”  Gossip could be fun so long as it wasn’t hurtful.  And it seemed that Raven enjoyed it more than anyone. Perhaps that could help him with her. If he were to finally get into his dragonling’s life, his Chosen was part of it.

“I think Sam has a big heart and a good head on her shoulders. She also has an obssessive father who thinks that he can still control her life. Evansworth should be careful or he might find himself staked.” Gabriel wasn’t really a chatty kind of guy, but he was honest and Sen asked what he thought.

“Trying to do that will get him killed.” Raven pointed out as she lounged in the chair beside Starr. In some things Raven could be just as crazy as her mother was, her father was one of those things. They’d gotten a rough start to their relationship but now there wasn’t much he wouldn’t do for her and vice versa. Plus even Starr had built a bond of sorts with him so it’d do well for the good doctor’s dad to leave her dad alone.

“Careful talking like that or one day it may see you before Council for judgement and none of us want that.” Gabriel cautioned. While he’d never hold such talk against her, others might.

There was a small huff from Raven as she stood up again, “My father can take care of that man all by himself with no help from me. He wasn’t tossed in that cell all those years for being nice. Just cause he’s mellowed doesn’t mean he isn’t still dangerous. Where you see someone broken I see something far different Mr. Kennedy. How does that saying go? Beware the sleeping giant or is it better said don’t poke at sleeping tigers? I can never get those sayings right.” She gave a laugh, “Ready to go Starr? I’m getting hungry.”

“Sure thing, beautiful.” Starrfire got up and looked to the two in the room.  “So… you want me to just call where? You know, when we have something to give to you?” He was pulling out his smartphone to get the contact info. Someone like Kennedy wouldn’t have his personal numbers all out there for anyone.  Unlike a lot of the others, he was definitely into all the newest technology.

“Here let me.” Gabriel rose from his chair and moved around the desk to stand in front of Starr with his hand out. Taking the phone he was quick at inputting his personal phone, the phone at the estate, his direct line at the office and his email. “There you go, all the direct ways to reach me.” Handing the phone back he once again held his hand out to Starr, “It was good to meet you Starrfire, feel free to call or come by to see me anytime you like. You are both welcome at my offices and at my home. Just give me a call to see where I am for the day or evening, whichever it may be.” He wasn’t sure the young man would take his hand this time given the last time it was offered didn’t seem well taken.

This time, Starr took Gabriel’s offered hand. He shook it like a human would, but showed just a bit of his strength in the grip.  

“You’ll get a text.” He bowed his head once and then let go to allow Raven to come to his side.  “We have a stray to go find. He and his dad haven’t always seen eye to eye either… hopefully nothing bad has happened. Usually if his mom is involved, things stay cool.”  Starr led Raven to the doorway.  

As the couple left Gabriel looked to Sen, “It’s Dev and Eva, what bad could possibly happen with Russ with them?” He’d known the lycans his whole life and knew how deeply they loved every one of their children so he really couldn’t imagine it being to awful for Russell with either of his parents no matter what.

“There’s a lot of Devon’s brother in Russ. He’s not like his brothers, and I suppose that’s why I took him under my wing and he’s trained with me. Devon hasn’t liked a lot of Russ’ decisions over the years. He’s always been a fighter and a rebel. He and I got into it when Russ made the decision to apprentice. But, in the end, I think he realized that the training was actually good for the pup.”  Senias explained the situation as well as he could – from his point of view.  He got up and put the glass back in the decanter set.

“You sound like you are responsible for him. Why is that?” Gabriel asked out of curiosity.

“I’ve helped wherever I could with the lot of them. Russ was always the most challenging. I took him on part of the time since he was 12. So yeah, I guess I’m partially responsible for him. I can see another challenge getting to the age of responsibility soon. I’ll be there when the time comes to help with that pup, too. You know that African proverb – “It takes a village to raise a child”?   Well, a pack is that village. Usually. But sometimes they need an uncle dragon, too.” Senias smiled, the emotion touching his eyes.

Chuckling as well, Gabriel smiled and moved closer to Sen. Now that they had a moment alone with him, there was just no way to resist. “Who would ever had thought that the fierce, sarcastic and very deadly Tasker had such a soft heart?” He stood there face to face and just breathed the warm spicy scents that made his lover intoxicating.

Sen took the moment to step closer and once again place his face near Gabriel’s. He remained there, maybe a millimeter from touching his lover.  

“The arrows and swords of life make us cover and protect those parts of us that are soft. And then someone comes along that reminds us – if we remain covered and entrenched, we’re not really living.” He nuzzled Gabriel very softly.

~ You make me want to live again. ~   

Closing his eyes as Sen’s cheek moved over his and Sen’s words caressed over his senses, Gabriel visibly shivered a little in reaction. “Everyone seemed shocked when you did this the first time. What does this mean? And while we’re at it what does that passing of glasses earlier mean?” His hands rested on Sen’s hips without even realizing what he was doing.

“Dragons, in our natural forms, can’t speak so well. It’s why we learn to mindspeak before we’re even born. Little things. Enough to communicate our needs. We use stances and non-verbal communication in a lot of what we do to show emotion and other meanings.”  Senias allowed Gabriel to rest his hands were they were. His own moved up and down the other man’s arms and one went to his face. He bent forward and nuzzled Gabriel’s opposite cheek. “A nuzzle is how we communicate affection. For them to see me do that, it told them I have affection for you beyond just a friendship. I claim your soul and no one else has right to it. I want you for my kindred, even if we’ve not gone that far as to make it so yet. They are not to question you where I am concerned.”

“You’ve claimed me then, alright I can understand that but what of the other thing?” Gabriel needed to learn the culture and customs of his lover if they were ever going to have a chance at a decent relationship. Sen knew all about humans and their customs along with several others customs he was certain, Gabriel only knew his own and that of lycan. It seemed that it was time to rectify that.

“Oh, well, we provide for our loved ones. It is a tradition that is instinctual. We often taste the food before we allow others we love to have it. Also, it just goes back to being a predator and offering what I have to you. I want to make sure you and anyone in my charge eats first. Sometimes kindred and dragon feed one another. Lycan can sometimes be seen doing this particular thing, too. Eva will make sure everyone at the table has food before she does. If Eva is tired or sick, he does the opposite. He’ll even hold her and feed her. I’ve never thought anything about it until truly becoming part of human culture – where in this isn’t the norm.”

“I guess we humans are the more primitive species then hmm?” Gabriel grinned, “Sure I’m not too outdated and primitive for you? I mean I don’t serve you after all.” He was teasing and he hoped that Sen knew it even if he sometimes had a dry sense of humor.

“If you served me, I might have a fockin’ stroke.”  Senias chuckled, then actually laughed, his deep voice vibrato as he leaned into Gabriel. His body was so close and the magic off of the both of them just seemed to simmer to touch that boiling point, but not go over into it.  “You sure you can handle being kindred to an old claw such as myself? I…uh… presumed a lot. I did that because it seemed you’d already put yourself in that place with my whelp.” he didn’t just nuzzle gently this time, he did so with some force, but his grasp helped keep the man stable.  His face moved back behind Gabriel’s ear and through the hair. He took in the scent of the man as he did so.  A low growl built in his chest.

The touches and the way Sen moved was practically hypnotic. Gabriel was relaxed and yet on edge because of the feelings this man stirred to life in him. He wasn’t afraid of Sen, never had been. He was afraid for Sen and that was much worse because he’d challenge any and everything for him.

He moved Gabriel, it was almost like a dance, pushing Gabriel back a step and then turning that step in a circle but remaining in the same space. Their bodies were always in constant contact.  

“Sure you can handle the more domineering and rough side to me, Kennedy? I’m no kitten.” His eyes shifted again as he took in the scents Gabriel was putting off. The touches, the moves, the challenge? All things the human was probably not familiar with. They were things he would never do among others unless his dragon were brought out. These were claiming stances meant only for Gabriel.  

“You’re right, you presumed a lot. But then I never rejected or denied what you said, did I?” Gabriel’s hand lifted to smooth his fingers over the rough, coarse stubble that covered Sen’s jaw. “Do I seem like the kitten sort to you Morias?”

“No. And those that think differently? They’d be in for a surprise.” the dragon smiled.  

There was a husky chuckle, “If we weren’t expected at the portal I’d show you that I’m more than capable of handling you and all that you toss at me. I’m a Kennedy remember?”    

“You’re so much more than that.”        

“I’d hope so because I try really damned hard to be more than just a Kennedy.” His alarm chimed on his watch and Gabriel sighed, “We need to get going if we are going to make it to the portal in time.”


As Russell exited the elevator beside his mama it was to the sight of his dad leaning against the truck and knew the meeting wasn’t gonna go well. He hadn’t told his family about the kindred bond with Starr and Raven because he knew they weren’t going to support it. Now that decision was about to literally bite him in the ass, because his father was also his Alpha.

Seeing their pup with his mate had Dev actually grinning at first, but then he started wondering why Russell was here in the first place. Kissing his mate, Dev then grasped forearms with their pup before hugging him and stepping back.  “Here I thought I’d be talkin’ to my mate, but now I gotta ask what has ya here?”

“Russell was helping with a case,” Eva put it out there like that, first. It was an honest answer. It could just be dropped. Now, this was how Eva tended to be. She would give the person the chance to be honest and open or allow them an escape route. She wouldn’t judge Russell if he wasn’t ready. However, considering his dragon brother now knew about the trio? It was honestly in Russ’ best interest to be honest.  So, Eva waited and moved just slightly to Devon’s side, but had taken a step to place herself to the right of him but more…between…just in case.  

With a smile of understanding to his mother, Russ shoved his hands into his pockets and took a deep breath as he faced his father. “She is right, but there’s also another reason.” As his dad gave him that patented look Russ went on, “I’m here to support Starr and Raven… my kindreds.”

Eva looked from her son to Devon. And waited.

There was a very long pause before Devon responded with, “Excuse me, what?”

Eva looked from Devon to Russ.

“My kindreds.” Russell repeated himself.

Eva looked from their son to Devon – again.  

Devon looked towards Eva, “Please tell me he’s jokin’ darlin’ ?” Their pup couldn’t be that naive could he? “What the hell ya mean kindreds?”

Eva had actually gotten her mouth open to explain it, but of course, their smart assed child had to poke the wolf instead of allowing her to softly coax the wolf into accepting this.  She took a deep breath and blew some of her hair out of her face.  

“Well dad it’s kinda like this – a little dragon boy meets a half vamp girl and they fall madly in love with each other and then they met this little lycan boy with a bad attitude and short temper. A little time of doing this and that and now they’re inseparable.” He had to step back out of arm’s reach of his dad as his sarcasm didn’t go over well.

“Starrfire gave Russ, his best friend, the option of a bond and Russ decided to take it,” Eva whispered quietly, while staring straight ahead. He’d asked her, after all. She didn’t know HOW it had actually happened, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to know.  

“Russ..” There was disappointment in the deep rumbly voice and he looked away from his pup. “Ya know that lycan stay with lycan are ya tryin’ to be branded outcast by the Pack?”

“Wow, outta what I just told ya all that comes to mind is me been branded a rogue and tossed from the Pack. Thanks pops.” Russell gave a rough little laugh as his shoulders shrugged, “What else could I expect from the mighty Alpha right?” He turned to walk off back towards the elevator so he could go back to his friends.

“Dev…?” Eva felt like she was about to tear up. Her mate loved their boy. She knew that. Sometimes, he just didn’t understand him or know how to say things to him. But this wasn’t her place to speak for him – he knew that, didn’t he?  

If the look he was getting from his mate could speak it was saying he was in deep water and drowning fast. “Son wait, let’s talk about this some more.”

“What else is there to say pops? I’m not breaking my kindred bond and you along with the Pack won’t accept it. I guess just tell me siblings I love ‘em and I’ll see ‘em when I can.” He did walk over to his mother though and give her a big hug along with a kiss to her cheek, “I love you mama and we’ll talk soon.”

“I love you, Russ. He loves you, too. Give him a minute, please?” Eva asked in her boy’s ear. She settled back on her feet. Even though Russ was their smallest adult son, he was still bigger than her and a lot taller.  

She turned to Devon and said it more clearly, “They’re best friends, Devon. Like you and Sen. Like brothers but beyond that. And little Raven? She’s right in there with them in life and adventure. Why would a kindred bond be a bad thing? Now they can communicate better and understand one another more. This should be a happy thing for Russ to share with us.”  

Clearing his throat Devon sighed heavily, “Ya ma’am’s right son. I am happy ya found friends that are as loyal and trusting as Sen is with me. I hope they are with ya all along ya long life ahead.”

“They will be.” Russ hugged his parents and eased back. “I need to get back to Starr and Raven, they should be ready to leave soon.”

Russ would actually feel the relief from Starrfire as the couple left the building. Raven was probably happy to be leaving as well. Soon, he wouldn’t need to come back and meet them at all. However, the dragon that had bonded all of them was now aware that his best friend was not mad… something else was bothering him. The young dragon hit the door-close on the elevator and without explanation to Raven, immediately pushed magic into the security system of the metal box, then cast a portal from there to the alley not far from where he could feel Russell.

“Before ya go I need ya to hear this. I need to go through the portal and see what is goin’ on. There have been raids and rumors about my father and another war stirrin’. I need to find out the truth and ya mama is gonna need all of ya to help out while I’m gone.” Devon turned to his mate and gathered her close. She was going to be mad at him, but wouldn’t let him leave with her angry at him.

“Your daddy’s gonna need your help to keep me from cla…” Eva was already ready to fight him on this! She was surprised and hurt and angry at him all at the same moment. She was fearful and scared out of her mind. She growled as he picked her up in his strong arms and hugged her so she couldn’t fight. She struggled and her eyes were showing him her emotions.

Holding her as he was made fighting him very challenging for his mate. “I have to go back.”

“No. You can’t go back there, Devon!” Eva hated the other side. She had left nothing there of any good. It had taken her only friend from her. It had taken her first pups from her. The only good things it had given her were all here on this side with her so far as she could tell.  And people wanted Devon dead over there! Namely, his own father. That man to this day gave Eva the shivers. Sure, he’d bought her from the slaver for Devon, but… there just wasn’t much beyond that that the woman could find redeeming. And when Devon put the man out of his Alpha position?  “Don’t! There are other ways, Devon..”

“Other ways? Listen to ya self darlin’. I’m Alph to Pack Weylyn and part of the Pack is still over there. My sister and her family are still over there. It’s not just duty that takes me there love, it’s my heart. I took Alpha to make life better for those that came with us and those that stayed behind. What kinda Alpha would I be if I left the work to others that I should be doin’ myself?” Devon nuzzled his mate and rumbled low for her. “Yer my world and ya know I’ll always come back to ya. Haven’t I proved that time and again over the years? But if the day comes that I don’t return I hope ya know I’ll be in the fields waitin’ for ya.”

The fight left Eva. She struggled and she turned in his arms and she held onto him. She held onto him as if her embrace could keep him there. She cried and just held him as tight as she could. And that was tough, because he was so much bigger than she was. Eva knew he was right. She knew that he couldn’t just ignore what was happening. He had to help. It was who he had always been – the man she had fallen in love with so long ago. If he didn’t try to help, he’d never be able to live with himself.  And she could never be the reason for that.   

Didn’t make it any easier to let him go.  And that was why she had to be pulled back off of him.

“Come on mama.. He’ll be back.. He promised didn’t he..” Russell was thankful for the help from Starr when it came.

When Starrfire saw what was happening, he moved quickly to help Russ.

“No! I’ll go, too! Just…” Eva’s eyes were pleading and damp.  “I’ve not been parted from you in so long… Devon…”  she was still trying to get to him despite being pulled back.  “Right now???”  They had no time. It wasn’t right!  

She was going to snap if they didn’t let her go. There was already a rumbling in her chest.  

Waving them off Devon held his arms open for her to came back to him a moment more. He rained kisses on her cheeks, each eye, her forehead, her chin and then her nose. “Ya can’t go with me this time darlin’. Our pups need one of us here and besides it ain’t healthy for you to stay long and ya know it. I’m just doin’ a bit of scoutin’ and I’ll be back in a week.” Devon stroked her hair back from her face so that he could look into her beautiful eyes, “I swear when I come back ya can take ya time and punish me proper like. Keep me grounded to our room until ya say otherwise.” He gave a rumbling chuckle and that sound roll through his chest so she could feel it.

“If he hurts you, I will go over myself and kick his ass,” Eva promised. She knew he would know what she meant. She turned so he could kiss her lips. She memorized that taste and that feel and that sound he made when he really kissed her for the millionth time.  

Letting go of him and moving back to Raven, whom she put her arm around. They were shadowed over by Starr and Russ.

As he climbed into his truck Devon leaned out of the driver window to look them all over, “Ya’ll see mama home now and make sure she’s well taken care of for me.”

“Let’s go to the park first. It’s just across the street. We can portal from there. I know you like that better, mama wolf,” Starrfire whispered as he helped Rave move Eva.

“He adores you and if for nothing else but that he will come back. How could he not when his entire reason for living is on this side of that stupid portal.” Raven smiled soft and warm as she comforted Eva. The Weylyn’s had the fairytale romance that every girl dreams of as a child. Devon Weylyn was truly Eva Weylyn’s knight and it seemed their epic love never faded it just got better with time. He had a good heart and Rave just hoped that his good heart didn’t someday fail him.

Eva growled and stood her ground. “Not yet. I can do this.” She wiped her eyes and lifted her chin.

Gabriel and Sen exited the elevator to the parking garage just as Devon started the truck up.

“We’re just going to pick up an Elven Councilor. And you’ve got a damned procession? Do they think the elf’s going to kick your ass for past discretions?” Senias asked as he got in the king-cab truck behind Devon.

Eva smiled while watching Senias and Gabriel. She had a very good idea that neither of them realized what was going on. When Devon Weylyn made up his honorable mind about something, he did it. To hell with anyone else.  

“Come on let’s get goin’.” He knew they’d have a hard time budging his mate until he was gone. She had always seen him off and this time was no different. He mouthed the words I love you silently as he pulled out to drive off once the other two were buckled in and ready to go.

Eva watched them move out of the exit and she huffed determinedly. “I love you, too, you stubborn ole wolf …”  


~  Rachel Diane Adams and Dawn McClellan © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2017