“I suppose I could ask Rose. It’s her daughter we’re talking about, after all. She may know whether Izzy knows. Or she may at least help us out with whether we should say anything at all. She and Isabel are soooo alike. Or at least, Rose used to be like , Izzy, anyway.”  Eva sighed and stuck her fingers back in the glass for another piece of ice. The quiet got to her, though, so she reluctantly looked to Gabriel again. Oh shit. Now what?

He was literally staring at Eva as if she had just grown an extra head. “How on earth are they so alike?” Just as quickly Gabriel closed his eyes tightly and shook his head sharply. “No… wait… don’t say it…”

“I love seeing you blush and be flustered. You’re so adorable when you do that.” the lycan giggled before adding, “Got anymore ice and… what’s this stuff? I don’t like this stuff. Just ice.”

Gabriel used the request to hide his nerves. He got up and took Eva’s glass and walked to the service station in the jet. However, as soon as he could, he continued the conversation.

“My sweet Aunt Rose wasn’t with a dragon in her younger years. I mean that just doesn’t sound like her, Eva.” the ice was clinking into the glass then he pushed the scoop into the machine before turning back around. Gabriel rubbed his forehead once he’d given her the cup. As he spoke, he sighed, “Please tell me it isn’t Sen.” He knew Senias had been around his family for years. The man knew his grandparents! Rose was a widow and had been since Isabel was a child. Surely this had not happened! 

She put the ice in her mouth. Then she shrugged. “Yud ave ta ask ‘im. On’t sink so.” She held her fingers up to indicate him to wait on more questions, then she crunched the ice to a more manageable mush. “I don’t think so. Jonathan thought so, though. That’s part of why he made Senias leave the house lair for a while. But I think Rose  just had a crush on your dragon and liked to talk to him. She’d go down to his lair because she has the sight, ya know? That’s what I mean about Izzy. That and she was pretty wild, too, before she met John Matthews.”

This was a lot to take in and honestly Gabriel was having a very hard time imagining his Aunt Rose as a wild child who cavorted around with dragons beneath her father’s nose. He hadn’t been around her much as child what with private schools and military academy. As an adult though, Gabriel had taken the lycan’s advice and had reconnected with Rose and her children. By that time his Uncle had passed leaving his lovely widow to raise their family alone. Or at least Gabriel had thought she’d done so alone until this conversation with Eva. Yet while it was unexpected it was his family and if nothing else he could admit that his family was always doing the outlandish.

“Well, you don’t think he could just be friends with Rose? I met her going to and fro from his lair and even his room as a guest in the house before and not once did I ever smell a thing … you know… off…” She swallowed her ice. “Besides, she’s female.”

A brow slowly lifted in a perfect dark arch, “You say that as if that has any bearing in the situation. Senias has been with females as you’ll recall. It seems to me he has a taste for either gender, it just depends upon which he has an appetite for at the time.” His broad chest expanded beneath the fine material of his suit as Gabriel drew in a deep breath, “After all, he had Mira for a lover and has a son with a dragoness.” Gabriel made no mention of the deceased as he felt it wasn’t proper.

“Well, in dragon clans, mates make kitlings, they protect one another, but they don’t necessarily love each other in the way the rest of us think the term ‘mate’ means. I’ve rarely seen or heard of dragon mates that are like, say… lycan mates or husband and wife or vampire and chosen. I don’t know why, that’s just how it is. They still have hearts and love and adore and are attracted to others like any of us.  Just not very often to one another for more than the biological urges. And as long as I’ve known him, Senias has had a predilection for the male form.”

“Fair enough, I can understand that, but Mira isn’t a dragoness.” Gabriel gave a sincere smile to his beloved friend. She was defending Sen and he wouldn’t begrudge her that. As a matter of fact if the dragon ever found himself in a sticky situation Eva would be a wise choice in his defence.

“Well, now… let’s you and I think that through,” she pushed on the seat’s arms and shifted her weight a bit before continuing “Mira is a succubus, which means she can become whatever her partner desires the most in order to seduce him or her.  So, when Senias has been with her, there’s a good chance he’s seeing, feeling, and smelling a male. And because she is a female to most others who see her, it would give the incorrect and very deceitful impression that he liked females over males. After all, I’m sure he could’ve had Dante all this time, but chose Mira.” Eva waggled her brows at Gabriel. “Senias prefers males, but his human alias, Jean-Michel Raudine? He must retain the illusion of enjoying females. Mira was the perfect cover and means of pleasure for him until he found a truly safe and trusted lover.” 

There was a low deep chuckle from the Councilor as he gave a slow nod of his head, “Touche’ my dear. Any closing arguments for Senias’ side?” Gabriel was relaxed more than he had been when this whole conversation had started.

“So,” Eva cleared her throat, “All that being said, I believe Izzy knows she’s dating a supernatural I’m just not sure she knows what he is and that’s why I was cautious. Why do I think she knows he’s supernatural? Because she has the sight, no doubt about it. You do, too, but you’ve suppressed it for some reason – at least until Skinner came over. I saw you use it then, even if you didn’t realize it at the moment.”

One open hand slowly raised as if to halt Eva from pushing that last bit any further. Gabriel wasn’t sure what he had felt or seen in that brief moment with Skinner and frankly he wasn’t too sure he wanted to. Magic was not something taken lightly within the supernatural world to which he had a part in. It was still seen as illusions and parlor tricks to most humans. Gabriel had no desire to be seen as either a threat or a laughing matter. He enjoyed his life as it was, secrets and all. “And all of this is what makes you think we have some unseen allure that dragons aren’t able to resist?”

“But they do have that pull to dragons in common. Because Rose has been in a very long relationship with one. You and probably none of her children know, because she is  a lot like you, Gabe. She’s very proper. She doesn’t let anyone into her business. But… I know what I’ve seen and heard and… smelled… “ Eva raised her chin and smirked. Eva popped the last piece of ice into her mouth and kept that evil little grin on her face as she watched Gabriel.

Rubbing the bridge of his nose Gabriel closed his eyes and tried to think over everyone that he had ever seen his Aunt around. Had there been anyone that she’d shown the slightest hint of interest in? Situations like this were one of the many reasons that he enjoyed staying heavily immersed in his work. When one’s mind is too busy thinking over contracts, strategies, meetings and negotiations there really wasn’t much time to stress over what the rest of the family was up to. Sometimes he really hated that damned dragon for pulling him so far out of his normal methodical and routine life.

“This is giving me a migraine..” Gabriel muttered low before lower his hand to his glass and drinking from it as he opened his and looked at Eva once again, “I’d be a terrible hypocrite if I spoke ill of their choices. Instead I suppose I can only hope for the best and pray that they are happy which is exactly what I’d hope they say of my choice.” He shook the tumbler at her, “Mind you if either my Aunt or my cousin are hurt I’ll go dragon hunting myself.”

Eva would have liked to defend the dragons, but, she couldn’t on this sentiment. “I understand completely.” She watched him. Then clicked her tongue against her teeth. “I asked if you were sure you wanted to know, if you were sure you wanted to become entangled. You made this decision, Gabriel. And like your ancestors and like your aunt and your cousin…and others… you let your heart help you decide. Now you cannot unsee what you have seen.”

“I don’t regret the choices I’ve made Eva.” He sighed and looked out the window at the clouds that seemed to roll over the wing of the jet. He was very proud, very private and very honorable. He took his family honor very seriously and sometimes it seemed like his life choices wanted to make a mockery of the Kennedy name. “I just don’t want to pry open anything more than I can handle – if that makes sense. It’s a shock, but I’ll get over it and be able to live with the surprise of Aunt Rose and Izzy. Let’s just work on those first.”

“If it gives you any comfort at all, I believe the dragon who holds Rose’s heart  is just as vulnerable as she is. He adores her through and through. Once she passes, I don’t see him remaining here. I see him going to the stars. It’s Izzy and Largros I am bumfuzzled on. I don’t so much know that her parents would approve. But then, like you, Rose may feel like she has no choice. She’s entangled with a dragon, too.”

His head turned back towards Eva and there was a huff of a sound from him, “I don’t think Isabel will ever be anything but a wild child. If Largros thinks he can settle that one down I think he may be in for quite a shock.” Gabriel shook his head, “I remember her first visit to the estate that happened to fall on a full moon. There was another that thought he’d tame her too if you recall.”   

“Oh… I don’t think Derek wanted to tame her. Not considering who he has his sights set on right now. Though, I had very nearly forgotten about it.” Eva chuckled. “Now that explains why he didn’t like Largros as a choice for this trip back across.”

“I can just imagine how well that trip is going considering everything.” Gabriel finished his drink and eased back in his chair for the rest of the flight. “I know you haven’t said much about him, but how is Devon doing over there?”

Eva swallowed and nodded. “They’d decided to go to the palace it seemed, last we spoke. One less thing to worry over is his father. It seems they’ve found common ground. I’m not sure what to think about that.” Eva tucked her feet beneath her to the side.  “I’m not sure I want to see him again. The last few times…” she shook her head and looked down. “Maybe the Goddess has changed him. I certainly hope so.”

“All I know is that Devon is faithful and honest, I hope as you do that the others will see that he has their best interests at heart.” The look that Eva gave him was one that said perhaps he didn’t quite understand as well as he thought he did.

“That’s wishful thinking. Lycan can be stubborn and they trust their Alpha to have their best interests at heart. Devon appointed Ethan, which lends him even more  faith and respect  in their eyes. The fact that we left part of the pack over there and abandoned them for this side?’ Eva shrugged. Her eyes finally found Gabriel’s.  “I’m afraid, there’s no way that Devon won’t have to face off with pack members in this situation. His heart’s gonna be sore hurt, Gabriel.”

“I’m sure that it will be, but he has you to come back to and you’ll comfort him. You and his children will ease his pain, because all of you are beautiful and well loved reminders of why he came to this world. I know Devon wouldn’t change that decision at all.” Gabriel’s thumbs rubbed along the soft leather of the arm rests, “He’s a leader and knows that tough decisions come with that role. It’d be much harder to do if he didn’t have such a strong partner at his side.”  

“I just wished, sometimes, that my body had been as strong as my heart and my mind. That I could carry children on the other side…” Eva was quiet for a few seconds. She had lost two pups. Her body just couldn’t maintain on the other side for some reason.  She took a breath and smiled while looking at Gabe. “But then… we’d have much different lives and we wouldn’t have the joy of also helping raise a strong-willed, chocolate haired young man to become such a success on this side. And I would hate to think what would have happened to that sweet child had his parents been his only influences.” Eva’s eyes twinkled as she looked over at Gabriel. She would always be proud of him.

“I’d probably have turned out just like my father.” Gabriel sighed and eased back in his chair, “Get some rest Eva, we’ll be busy enough once we land and jet lag is horrid.”

Eva pretended to rest, closing her eyes for a bit, but then let her lids open just enough to watch Gabe. No. She couldn’t imagine him ever being like his father. But, if she and Devon had anything to do with him not ending up like that beast, she was glad to have come to this world.
*********
Once in Paris Gabriel went into full Councilor mode. They had their things delivered to the hotel penthouse suites he had acquired for them. Even though it had been a long tense flight, Gabriel still needed to abide by custom and so he and Eva were driven to the Paris version of the Chamber. “You’ll register as my attending Tasker and remain at my side unless instructed by me otherwise. Once I’ve registered and requested a meeting with Councilor Petrard, we’ll return to the hotel and rest up until I’m contacted by him.”

“Okay. And I have to remain in business attire for all of this or would I be allowed more practical clothing?” She asked because she had packed both.

“Business while in the company of other Councilors, otherwise practical clothing is acceptable.”  Even tired and jet lagged Gabriel presented himself immaculately. Most days he seemed to function better on little to no sleep. As of late though, Senias had made sure that he got plenty of rest. While sick it seemed that Gabriel had been returning the favor by tending him and making sure he was on a full recovery.

As they exited the car Gabriel glanced back at Eva and spoke low, “They won’t require you to answer anything. But you will give your opinion I’m sure.” It was his subtle way of letting the lycan know that her silence was in no way expected by him. He valued Eva’s thoughts and opinions and as always Gabriel Kennedy didn’t give a damn if anyone approved of his actions or not. Other Taskers generally stood quiet at their Councilors side or just behind them. Raudine never had and so Gabriel didn’t expect such from her.

They were checked by security and once signed in Gabriel was greeted by one of the Chamber representatives.  Eva remained at his side and yet slightly back – per her knowledge of customary Council and Tasker protocol. She had seen Devon and Senias do the same as well as others from time to time.  This city had a bit more odor than she liked, but she’d deal. It was quite fancy, for sure.

“Welcome Councilor Kennedy, I hope your travel was pleasant.” He held his hand out as custom. “I am Raul and I will be assisting you with whatever your needs may be while you are here. I will not intrude, but I do want you to know I am available. We will strive to make your visit to our country a delightful one.”  

“I am sure it will be fine. As discussed in our phone conversation I need access to the library. We shouldn’t be here more than a few days.” Gabriel walked with the male as they discussed the inventory that was available for his perusal.

“Of course, Monsieur Kennedy, you had requested library resources pertaining to two particular subjects, both of which are available here. You also have requested a meeting with Councilor Petrard. He was discouraged to hear his friend the Tasker Raudine would not be joining you, but he has agreed to the meeting. He has stated it will need to be a morning meeting tomorrow or the day after, whichever is more convenient for you.”

Withdrawing the hotel card, Gabriel held it out to Raul, “Let him two days hence I look forward to enjoying breakfast with him. He can send the arrangements there, we have the penthouse. The Councilor also has my cell number where I can be reached should anything come up.”

At the doors to the library they paused and Gabriel gave a slow nod of his head, “If there is nothing further I’d like to see the area allocated to me for my stay. After that we will return to our hotel to rest so that I may return and start fresh tomorrow.”

There were three tables set up in horseshoe fashion, each held several ledgers, heavy books and even at least dozen or more scrolls. It was definitely more than Gabriel had expected and yet the spark of interest and excitement was there in his rich brown gaze. Here were more pieces to his current puzzle and if it went well he’d have more than enough answers to return home with. “Seems I’ll have my work cut out for me with all of this.”

“You were very specific monsieur.”

“Yes I was and this is very pleasing. Be sure to praise those responsible for this.” Gabriel’s fingers itched with the desire to start perusing and delving right this very instant, but he needed to wait. Showing to much interest was just as dangerous as showing none at all.

Turning from the tables was very hard for him, but Gabriel managed to do so, “We will return first thing in the morning, be sure fresh coffee is available and I’ll expect tea at lunch as well.” He didn’t look back as they exited though he was sure Eva could feel the desire rolling from him to do that very thing. If he had it his way he’d return to that library, shut the doors behind himself and get lost in all the dust and ancient scrawling words, all the brittle, delicate drawings that begged for attention that he’d gladly give them soon enough!

Eva turned with him to follow. She was actually proud that he’d made it out the doors of the place without drooling. He wanted to know more about the twins, and this was the original home where the both of them had first been discovered. He was also trying to gather as many tales of wrongdoing toward the dragons as possible for his case to reinstate them as worthy of life and possibly worthy of a Council position.  Eva was proud of him for wanting to help, too.

“Very well, sir,” Raul said as he caught up to the pair. He motioned to others in the library and they would see to it that this section was roped off.  “Please allow me to call your car for you. If you wish, the side entrance to our plaza is a lovely street lined with trees and seating. I will have him meet you there.”

Eva turned to Raul and nodded. She was letting him know to lead the way.  Her senses were on full alert. And being on the less busy side of the building helped with that. She stood beside the American Human Councilor while they waited on the driver.  “There was a lot in there,” she whispered. “Will you have time to go through it all?”

“I believe so. I have the entire day and through the evening if necessary. If not all the answers then at least some are here and I intend to get as much as I can from here before we leave.” As the car pulled up, Gabriel held the door for her before sliding inside himself. Paris was mystery and secrets, but it was also known as the city of romance. As Sen came to mind Gabriel simply shook his head and laughed low at himself.

“What?” Eva asked, turning to look at the pup.

“It was nothing.” When it was obvious that Eva wasn’t buying that Gabriel went on to explain, “Paris is supposed to the city of romance, but all that came to mind was Sen saying some snide or sarcastic remark to that. Is that pathetic or just sad?” Perhaps he was simply just that tired.

“It’s romantic. You thought of him first when you thought of the meaning of this city. And I’m not sure he’d have a snide remark about it or if he’d simply show you the thrills and hidden treasures of this city. He knew it before it was internationally known.” Eva smiled for him and touched his hand with her own.  “I’m not much for any city. But this one is… interesting.”

Gabriel agreed silently.

“I believe you should find your own favorite place and make some memories with the old claw. Maybe you should sweep him off his feet?”

“I’m sorry, you do realize who you are speaking to right? I’m not too sure that I am capable of doing that. Sen has a few more years on me and would probably see anything I tried as a vain attempt at best.”

Eva turned in the seat to look at the young man. Well, he was a young man in her eyes at least.  

“Do you go into business meetings and the Council Chambers with that kind of losing attitude?”

“Of course I don’t.”

“Then why are you defeating yourself, now?” Eva arched a brow before she continued. “It doesn’t matter how old he is and how much he’s seen, Gabriel. How many humans he’s been around? He’s fallen in love with you, boy. At this point, anything you do might as well be magic. For one thing, how many people can say they have a dragon in love with them? Not many, I guarantee you. Considering these claws can have their pick of anyone out there and then some, that’s pretty amazing. Now, how often do you think anyone actually even tries to impress a dragon? How often do you think that creature has had company at his home? Had someone cook a meal for him or just hold him close without expecting anything in return? Do you realize you’ve already nearly done the sweeping? You bathed him and took care of him – not exactly romantic, but intimate and you definitely didn’t have to do it, nor did you expect a thing in return for it. Things as simple as that? It’s tearing down his walls already, Gabe.”

Gabriel hadn’t thought about it that way. The way Eva explained it actually made Gabriel smile just a little. He hadn’t paid much attention to the little things in the same way she had.

“Don’t sell yourself short, dear. I bet there are marvelously romantic things in that mind of yours that you’ve always dreamt of doing for someone you love and who loves you. You’re too much of a romantic soul not to have thought about it.”  Eva’s eyes told him she wanted to hear some of his ideas.

Several minutes of silence passed before Gabriel cleared his throat to break it, “I do actually enjoy cooking.. I’ve thought of making breakfast for him, but haven’t really had the chance to. Given our present situation, we don’t usually get to enjoy first meal together. One of us has to leave before we’re noticed. I also thought perhaps he’d enjoy the theatre with me one evening. I like the plays, operas and concerts there.”

“There ya go,” Eva encouraged.

“This is different for me. I truly want this to work, Eva.” Gabriel loosened his tie, “It feels awkward. I’m used to being in control of everything and moving on when we’ve had our fill. With Sen, I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of him. Is that how it is with Devon?”

“Yes.” Eva’s smile was distant. “Even when we fight, I’m looking forward to being in his arms later… you know, once I prove I’m right.” She winked.  “When he’s away, my shoulders feel cold. He’s always there to rub them, hold me, or just stand behind me on anything. When he found out what kind of cooking I knew, he wasn’t sure about it at first, but now he can’t get enough. Even when I’m pulling shit, he’s shaking his head, but he’ll be there for me to either help or help me see my errors. I can’t imagine being without him much longer, Gabriel. I don’t like it. I’m … I feel much better with him near me.”  

“Hopefully you won’t have to my friend.” Gabriel assured as the car came to a stop in front of the hotel.

Looking out of the window, Eva could see the hotel. She turned to Gabriel one last time and whispered, “This time, let me get out first and see to you. I know your raisin’, but I’m supposed to be the Tasker, remember?” she reached over and gave him a quick little pinch to remind him not to get out of hand with her.  

With a chuckle and a shake of his head, Gabriel let her do as she wished and they made their way to their rooms. Tomorrow would be a long day and he knew he needed to get some sleep to be at his best.

 

~  Rachel Diane Adams and Dawn McClellan © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 2018