“Well, all Skinner needed was for me to find probable cause. I believe I can confidently say I give him that.” Gabriel moved to Senias and helped him out of his jacket. The draconic male found this to be interesting, but said nothing. Instead, he turned as he was coaxed to do.

“I can make my report as soon as we finish with this last meeting I have scheduled. Had to make it for the afternoon.” After removing his own cufflinks, Gabriel turned to lift Sen’s hand and one by one he removed the cuff links from his lover as well. He loosened the man’s tie and removed it as well. Gabriel waved Sen towards the closet so that he would change into more comfortable clothes. He knew how much the dragon detested suits. He didn’t want to talk about their previous conversation so he was trying to jump the gun and move onward.

Senias was more than happy to oblige and quietly get out of the suit and into some stretchy yoga pants and ignored the shirt on the shelf before walking back into the main room and just falling backwards onto the bed.  

“Is it even past 8 AM yet?” he asked grumpily.  He was still wondering about what Gabriel had been thinking in taking this ‘I am human hear me roar’ stand all of a sudden. Had his lover not been happy with the magic he had been shown?  

“Just barely. You can get another hour or so of sleep in if you like.” Gabriel called out as he walking into the closet to change into joggers. He hadn’t gotten a work out the day before and now with this early meeting he hadn’t gotten one in this morning either. If Sen napped, he had time to get that into this day. He moved to the empty space between the bed and the sliding glass door of the balcony. He stretched and set his timer for 15 minutes so that it would let him know it was time to change up. From push ups to stomach crunches, Gabriel paused on 20 each time and watched Sen while he caught his breath.

After a while, Senias turned on the bed to put his chin on his arms and watch Gabriel. He was enjoying. He looked very much like a cat watching a canary – with no cage between them. If he’d been in dragon form, his tail would be swishing back and forth by now.   The next time Gabriel stopped, their eyes met.

“Oh, don’t stop on my account. You keep huffing and puffing and doing your little sets. I don’t mind in the least.”

“Don’t verbally bash my workout routine, as I recall you get a great deal of pleasure from this body.” He wiped the sweat away with one hand before going back to his routine.

“You know you could come up here and I could work you out all day long.” He made sure to lick his tongue over his top lip playfully.

Finishing the push ups, Gabriel changed position and laid on his back to start his crunches. He could feel Sen watching him but didn’t let it deter him no matter how tempting the offer was.

“So,” since his playful flirtation had gone ignored, Senias decided a new tactic. “Eva said the conversation over here was fun and interesting. Coming from her, that has me intrigued. Care to explain? She wouldn’t.”

That made the sweaty male pause mid crunch to look at Sen. “Glad I could be entertaining.” Gabriel went back to the crunches as if that would be enough.

“Mmmm… that’s your word, not mine, Gabriel. Don’t you hold that against me later if this conversation pops up again,” he chuckled and rolled over so that he was upside down, his head hanging a bit off the side of the bed to look at his lover.

“We just discussed… things.” Gabriel paused again and let his arms rest on his upraised knees. “Talked about Devon, Derek, the twins, my Aunt, Izzy, my Grandfather and you.” Again he wiped his face and simply sat there breathing hard while looking Sen’s way. “She told me about my Grandmother and her dislike for magic.”

“Yes. I think she was frightened of it, and of us,” Senias affirmed. Instead of getting up like a normal person, he decided showing off would be the order. He  put his hands downward over his head and scooted until the palms could be on the floor beside the bed. “Don’t be afraid of asking me things. I’ve lived so long, I forget what I’ve told a person and what I’ve not. I mean no slight…” He grunted as he lifted his body off the bed to hold a slightly wobbly handstand. He slowly took a breath, his face one of complete concentration before moving his body downward, curling until his feet were on the floor. He held himself bent and then pulled his upper body to to his lower so that he hugged his legs.  

Seeing that Senias wanted to take over, Gabriel rose to his feet and went to the mini fridge for a cold bottle of water. He hadn’t stopped watching the show. After taking a drink and re-capping it, Gabriel sat on the edge of the bed.

Senias pushed himself into a squat, popping only one joint, but his eyes showed that it actually felt good not bad. He held aloft his legs as soon as he caught the proper balance with his arms and shoulders. He then moved as if he were about to go into the lotus position, however, his bottom was still held aloft. Slowly, perspiration began forming on his skin as he forced his legs to one side, raising a hand to swing them through as if he were using a pommel horse. The movement was slow, instead of the gymnastic move.

He was always impressed by his lover, but rarely surprised as he was right then at the moves that he was pulling. The working of the muscle beneath the skin was mesmerizing and Gabriel would watch as long as Sen let him.

Sen was now very concentrated on his movement, his positions.  it was something that people these days called yoga. He had no names for the positions, only the feeling of those positions. He had learned these movements long before their was a yoga craze in American in the 60’s.  For the draconic man, exercise wasn’t about reps and sets – it was about muscle control.   He moved his right leg back to the right side of his arms and then he very slowly lowered himself to sit on his ass again. folding his legs in, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes before lifting his arms to stretch them to each side. Then he let them relax on each knee.  

“Think about what you want to ask?”

“I missed a lot while in academy and obviously I missed a lot where my aunt and you are concerned. Is it really because of Rose that my Grandmother stopped talking to you?” He still found it hard to believe that his sweet and kind hearted Grandmother would do such a thing.

“No.” Senias opened his eyes and looked at Gabriel. He held his hand out to see if his kindred would take pity on him and let him have some of the water.  

Gabriel placed the water bottle in Sen’s hand, “So why then?”

“I got kicked out of the house because Rose couldn’t keep her ass out of my lair.” he took a good chug of the water and handed it back to Gabe. “She liked hiding down there and looking through my stuff. As long as it was her, I didn’t mind. I tried to keep dangerous things away from her. Jonathan thought I… well… you know… “ he motioned with his hand but seemed reluctant to say the words.  

“Did you ever?” Gabriel asked even though somehow he thought he knew the answer.

“Absolutely not,” Sen was not hesitant at all with that answer. “I’d not disrespect your grandparents in such a way. Besides, she wasn’t my type.”

“Then if not Rose, what happened between you and my grandmother? Not that I recall you ever being close..” Something about the way Sen looked at him right then said that he was wrong. The hurt was from the past and perhaps there was some indignation as well? “I’m sorry, you were close weren’t you?” Gabriel wouldn’t push, he was just curious. If Sen chose to change the subject it wouldn’t be held against him.

Sen brought his feet together in front of him where he sat and placed his hands on his ankles. With a straight back he leaned forward so that he was continuing to stretch while talking.  

“She and I were best of friends until she accidentally saw me; my true self. She helped me settle a lot of bad things in my past and she taught me a lot about humanity and about truth and wonder over pragmatism. Jonathan inherited me like every Kennedy heir before him. When he came of age and his father passed, he already knew what I was. He already knew the business and the Councilorship and he was married with children age 12 and 10.  I came into his life and he made it very clear that I was to be his friend and that Amelia was to know nothing about what I truly was. According to him, she knew nothing. She didn’t even know about the lycan – not what they really were. A tribe of humans who preferred to live away from urban settlement and worked for the company as security… she simply accepted these things. Or she pretended to accept these things and let Jonathan live in a cloud of denial about how smart she was when it came to supernaturals.”

It amazed Gabriel just how close Senias had been to his family or at least the majority of his family.  Yet Gabriel had only seen him at functions or accompanying his grandfather until Jonathan Kennedy was gone.

Sitting back up, Senias cocked his head to the side. What was he thinking? Would his kindred ask the proper question or would he continue the path already taken?

A slow shake of his brought him back to the moment and Gabriel went on, “Why would she pretend to be naive?”

“It was a different era. Women had their roles and men had theirs. You can look it up. She slipped up with Eva. Of course, then Eva told Devon and Devon told me. She knew what they were and she thought I was lycan as well. But it wasn’t long after that when Jonathan found out, thank you, Devon and being too honest… so he had to figure out what to tell her and what not to tell her.”  

“What did grandfather decide to tell her about you?”

“Long story short, she was fine thinking I was a supernatural human that helped protect her husband and that the lycan were there to help protect her and her children. She even…” the dragon chuckled as he remembered the scene, “…she even set up a sort of intervention between myself and Sebastian when he first was released. It didn’t go very well, but she knew the situation was bad for me and wanted to help me with it. I appreciated the gesture.”

Gabriel couldn’t hide his surprise at this bit of information. There was obviously a great deal more depth to his grandmother then he’d ever thought. “If she were acting so naive, how’d you two end up so close?” If she had gotten Sen and Sebastian to even be in the same room right after the vampire was released, then she was quite the smart one indeed or she had a silver tongue.

“We talked to one another. She had some illnesses as her kids were getting older and were more difficult to handle. Jonathan was busy – like you he lived for his work. So, I kept Amelia company and helped with the kids whenever I could. I had not truly talked and listened to a human in a very long while before Amelia. I had a very good reason not to ever trust humans. But she … she took to the defense of humanity. She was like you in that she could defend with facts and details and research. She did not ever say that humanity was perfect. As a matter of fact, she agreed that they were mostly monsters. Fragile, paranoid monsters that reacted quickly when riddled with fear and … well, some of her reasoning made sense. My hatred actually lessened for your race because of her.  She was never afraid to debate, but because of her position and raising, while around anyone else – she would often defer to Jonathan, though, somehow I doubt he was fooled by the act.” Sen smiled.

“Seems nice.”

“But then, she somehow found the door to my lair. I’m not sure how it happened. I was swimming from one place to another in the tunnels. You see, my two lairs here? They’re connected. The one at my sanctuary in town was once just temporary. I used it when I felt I had to. Or, I would go to the Sanctuary, but use the underground streams and caves that are very deep beneath Whitley and the outlying areas to slide-portal through to the lair under the Kennedy Mansion. The only person I knew of that had access to the lair was Rose and sometimes Devon and Eva – but they were generally only there if I were there. That day, I was in my dragon form when I rose from the lake in my lair. She was there, near the steps. There was a scream the likes of which I had not heard in a very long time,” Senias seemed like he was very far away as he finished the tale. “She screamed and ran. She was white as a ghost. She was inconsolable, which was a good thing for me, because she couldn’t formulate the words to tell anybody what had happened.  Eva and Rose found her huddled in a corner in her room crying and shaking and she passed out from hyperventilating.” Senias finally looked up at Gabriel. “When you don’t expect to see a dragon, I suppose it’s a rather shocking sight.”

Slipping to the floor Gabriel moved close until his face was only inches from Sen’s. His hands rested on his lovers thighs as he eased even closer, “You’re a rather shocking sight even when it is expected.” Gabriel grinned warmly. He kissed Sen before the dragon could respond. They’d been snapping at each other and tense around one another all morning, Gabriel wanted to put things behind them and enjoy one another again.

Senias enjoyed the kiss and his eyes fluttered closed and then open again to look at his kindred.  

“I don’t mean to push you into magic. I know what magic can do to a person. I saw it…” Sen looked away suddenly and took a deep breath. He closed his eyes then looked back to Gabriel, shame there.  “Point of the conversation was that what happened between your grandmother and I had nothing to do with my banishment. And I believe you may have that confused. After Eva and Rose consoled her and helped her to bed, I simply laid low for a while. A year or so to be exact. She got over it – partially.  Things were never the same. She didn’t want to think of what I truly was. She liked having her best friend back. I wished I could see her the same as I had before the incident. She didn’t trust magic and she didn’t trust me. Not like she had.”

“You saw, what?” Slowly Gabriel eased back as he sighed heavily knowing that Sen needed to explain himself. He didn’t want to dredge up the magic talk again, but he’d known it was inevitable that it’d surface sometime. If that’s what this was about to touch on, so be it. “What did you see that has such a guilty look on your face?”

“I didn’t want to lose my friendship to Rose. She reminded me so much of her mother, whose true friendship I had lost. Rose accepted me as everything I was. She said it was…” He chuckled, “…groovy.”  

Gabe smiled.

“That’s why I lied to Jonathan… omitted the truth… let him think what he wanted about me and Rose. I did that because I thought she had stolen some of my things. But not stolen, you know? She was a teenager. I assumed she’d borrowed them, like a child borrows things that she can use to show off to her friends? For something so simple as that, I didn’t want her to get into trouble. I liked her – the shit.”  Sen watched Gabriel’s eyes narrow.

“Not like that!” He chuckled and leaned into Gabriel to nuzzle his face. “Not like that, mon amore.”

He didn’t push Sen away as the stubble of beard move against his cheek. Instead he relaxed again knowing that Sen honestly had no desire in Rose romantically speaking.

“What did you think she took?” Gabriel lifted a hand to stroke the draco’s cheek and rested that same hand on the side of Sen’s neck.

Relaxing back to sit face to face with his kindred, Senias explained, “A trunk full of books concerning magical casting and several magical trinkets. I knew they were missing the moment I went back to my lair. I marched right back upstairs and out to the veranda and confronted her about it. She lied to my face. I can tell, remember?  She lied to me about not taking anything. Amelia interceded, trying to piece together why her best friend, an elder, was arguing with her 17 year old daughter. Things were a whirlwind of fuck after that. I had to backtrack and cover things. As angry as I was with your aunt Rose, I also didn’t want any harm coming to her or … I didn’t want your grandmother to know that I had allowed Rose into the lair or … well, she had gone swimming with me and seen me as a dragon and never been afraid. I just didn’t want all of the connections to go away. So I agreed to leave, letting them think it was something it was not and planned to get my things back in another way.” He shrugged. “Hence, I stayed at my Sanctuary in town from that point onward. I made sure the lair door was warded and no one could get through it from the closet side.”

Gabriel stretched his legs out one to each side of Sen and he rested back  against the bed as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. It took him a moment to get it all straight in his head before he asked anything else. When he finally did it was pretty straight forward, “You moved out and then what? Did Rose return the books or confess that she’d taken them?”

“She was protecting someone with her lies. It wasn’t until it was too late that I realized she had taken a few pieces of jewelry from my lair, antiques… things I would have let her have anyway, except the one medallion.  She didn’t take the books and trinkets I was worried about. Someone else had taken the books in the trunk. Someone I had no relationship with at all… her little brother; your father.”

“My father…” A chill seemed to move over him at mention of his father. Gabriel’s jaw clenched a moment and he looked away from Sen so that he could gather himself. He recalled all the home visits when he’d find his father with other women or drunk.. Or worse. His teenage years were spent cleaning his parents messes. At least his mother was simply a drunk. “What use did he have for your books? They obviously didn’t help him.”

“Yes they did. They helped him and they harmed him. He had to research and he had to learn new languages, but in the end, he could cast many of the spells in those books. He could use those trinkets.”

“Killed him too didn’t they?” Pushing a hand through his hair Gabriel went on, “Look, the man was a drunk and a womanizer who never gave a damn about us. Don’t feel guilty that he’s gone.” Gabriel shrugged, “I just wish it had been before my grandfather’s death and not after it.” His father had never liked him and Gabriel had known that all along. So when he died Gabriel hadn’t really hurt over it.

Senias wasn’t sure what to say. There was so much that Gabriel didn’t realize about the past – about his own past – and yet, explaining it all, would it really do him any good?   

“Amelia died of cancer, but she got to hold two of her grandchildren before going. Jonathan didn’t want to live on. He wanted to go to Amelia wherever their souls could rejoin. He was uninterested in anything that could further his life.”  the dragon’s eyes were warm. “I like to think he got his wish.”

“An epic love then. I guess I can accept that.” Gabe nodded as if to reaffirm his opinion of the matter. It was the type of love that most of the women he knew wanted and very few men could ever give. He was glad his grandparents had it. Before they could get morose about it, Gabriel switched things up on his lover to catch him off guard. “Tell me about the dragon that my Aunt has been enjoying? How long has he been with her? Do her children know the truth?” Gabriel grinned as he watched Sen’s reaction while he answered.

Senias stiffened and growled, “Dragon? What dragon?”  

“You don’t have to pretend like you don’t know. Eva hinted they’d been together for a while and I was just wanting to know how long that might mean – considering all things.” It was really irritating when Sen played dumb. But the longer he looked at his lover the more he realized that Sen was being serious.

“She’s with a dragon?”

Gabriel had to chuckle at the oddness of the whole situation. He could tell that Sen didn’t find it quite so funny.

“My apologies, but it isn’t often that I catch you by surprise – and the subject of the surprise? This is rich. I thought you knew everything about us Kennedys. This is funny.”  

“Funny is one word for it,” Senias grumped.

“Seems we Kennedys are still able to surprise you.”

With a tilt of his head and a raised brow, the dragon said simply, “Touche.”


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