Early the next morning Gabriel received a phone call to their room instead of his cell. He had wondered if his delving into the twins’ connections would provide him with a lead. So, he had used the family name to do some digging and had left some messages and made some contacts. Perhaps this was one?  The woman on the other end had kept things short and to the point. She’d simply stated that she knew that Mr. Kennedy was in town and depending upon his desires, she might have information to share. Nothing else was given over the phone except the name of a local vineyard to meet her at.

Senias could tell that his kindred had a fixation that wouldn’t leave. The dragon both respected him for it and grew frustrated with it. This entire trip had been a well established research and investigation of Dante and Mira and anything that had to do with them and their demonic father. It was supposed to be about Petrard and only Petrard. Was Petrard on the take? Possibly. No. Probably. Gabriel went back over all of his notes and even the book the French Councilor had mentioned and there was no entry or picture or anything in those references concerning the demonic prophecy that included the white dragon. Senias decided to call in a favor to his own young one and see what he could find. It had only taken a few minutes to jog his dragonling’s memory.  

“Starrfire confirmed it. So that’s two of us.  The only mentions of that prophecy that Petrard used as his excuse to throw dragons under the bus? It is in written dragon books back at the Gorias lair complex and according to legend, the tapestry depicting the PeaceBringer – that shows a future leader of demons with a white scaled dragon at his side –  is hanging in Darius’ throne room in the Abyss.” Senias realized Gabriel was probably not paying close attention to him, since the man’s eyes were so very focused on the phone.

“And it’s raining Guinness in Italy…the Romans are not pleased.”

With a scowl Gabriel looked up from his phone and blinked at his Tasker.

“That makes no sense at all.” The Councilor wanted his Tasker to know that just because he was reviewing information on his phone did not mean that he wasn’t paying attention to what was being said. Unfortunately, he was caught. “What does beer have to do with any of this?” There was a moment of confusion before the smirk from his Tasker told him what that had been about. “Enough joking, Sen. You do realize what you’re insinuating?”

“I insinuate nothing,” the dragon mumbled. 

“It was you that told me before that the demon Lord had been banished and couldn’t cross back over. So if he isn’t able to cross over then how would Petrard know of this prophecy?” It was more a question that held a great deal of suggestion rather than acceptance of the possibility.

“Well, if he were a dragon, he’d not have thrown dragons under the bus. And just because Darius cannot travel to this world, doesn’t mean people can’t travel to his. I know he does business in that throne room. So if someone has done business with him, they’d have seen that tapestry and perhaps been told what it means.” he explained to his Councilor.  “Or, he could be a demon and be really good at fooling everyone. Since most people don’t have the sight… or won’t use it…”

“It’s possible, but wouldn’t it be a little difficult to pass all the security Crimson has set in place just to get inside? If he’s a demon that’s quite a feat to perform every day.” Gabriel sighed in frustration a moment as he rubbed his jaw in thought. “What if he isn’t a demon? What if he is simply conspiring with them? Is it possible that another demon could be transporting him between the two realms? How likely is that?” These were all thoughts and ideas at this point, but it gave them options and outcomes at least. The Councilor was very eager to find out what this informant they were going to meet had to give them.

“To be honest,” Sen’s shoulders sagged a bit. “Not many can do it. They have to have a connection, familial… usually… to be able to accomplish it.” Surely the twins wouldn’t be involved? Dante and his father might scheme here and there, but they didn’t exactly like each other. Mira wasn’t strong enough to make the trip more than once in a blue moon.  

Gabriel’s brow lifted at this bit of detail. “We know of at least two that can, the better question is which would be more successful at such travel being repeated often?”

“I believe you know the answer to that.” The Tasker walked to the window and moved the drapery a bit so he could look out over the city nearby. He didn’t like this. How had the twins not covered their trails well enough? Why had Darius allowed something to fall to Skinner’s notice?

“Dante seems the stronger of the two. He’d be more than capable of such a task. Not to mention the fact that with as protective as he is of Mira there’d be no way he’d let her take such a risk.” Gabriel decided. He noted that Sen seemed to be rather quiet or not as eager to assist as the possibilities veered towards the twins.

Glancing at his watch as Sen looked out the window, Gabriel walked towards the closet and disappeared within for a moment only to reappear as he looped and tied his tie into place. Flipping his collar down over it and adjusting it properly he slid the jacket on and made sure everything was in its proper place before the mirror to adjust himself all the more to perfection.

“The car should be pulling up in the next few minutes; are you ready?” It would take them 45 minutes to reach the vineyard and Sen had wanted to be there before the designated time to scout the place out for their protection. Gabriel hadn’t argued since it was his lover’s job after all.

“I was ready when I came out of the bathroom. I’m going casual. You’re the pretty boy, remember?” Senias turned to look at the Councilor. As always, nothing out of place. And he, as always looked the rougher. He wasn’t badly dressed, but he wouldn’t be wearing a suit. Not to a vineyard. Jeans and a nice shirt would do just fine. He moved to the door and held it open for Gabriel. His mind was still moving through the many possibilities woven into the investigation at hand.  

Once inside the car, Gabriel had put up the barrier between themselves and the driver so that they could continue their conversation. “Even though she poisoned you, you don’t like to think that she’s capable of such treachery do you? How long were you with her to make it seem so impossible?”

The Tasker looked aside to Gabriel.  He wanted to make this personal? Very well. He’d told his kindred that he would not lie to him, that he had but to ask a question and he’d get the honest answer.   

“We saw one another off and on for a few centuries.”  

There was a low whistle from Gabriel at the answer that he was given.

“Given the length of time that you’ve known the twins would you think they were capable of such treachery?” The way Senias answered would actually mean more to the Councilor then he probably realized.

“Treachery? To who or what? I’m confused by the question, Gabriel,” Senias actually came out of his own headspace now to focus on the conversation at hand.  “They’re only loyalty lies to one another and their father, unless they have actually found someone to love and if they ever do that, they will be loyal to that person as well. But to be treacherous – from their point of view – means turning against any of those, not Crimson or the Council or human laws.”

“I stand corrected,” Gabe hadn’t thought of it from the twins’ perspective. “Perhaps the better terminology to use in regards to the twins and this situation is deceit or manipulation.”

“Okay.”

“I think either of those would suit since if the Councilor is indeed conspiring with the demons then it is deceitful as well as treasonous on Petrard’s part. But if the twins have used some ploy on him, then manipulation or even blackmail would do better.” Gabriel ignored his phone vibrating in his pocket for the moment as he debated the twins with Senias. “Now would you think they were capable of any of those possibilities given what we are investigating at this time in regards to Petrard?”

“To quote Petrard – Absolutely. That’s what they do. They make deals and they manipulate situations for their own gain. But why… after all of these years… would they be sloppy?” That was what had Senias puzzled.

With of shrug of his shoulders Gabriel eased back into the seat, “I’m not sure, but is it really surprising given how sloppy your poisoning was?” If the twins were so smooth in covering themselves then Sen would be dead with no obvious suspects on the board. That is if his body were ever found and he hadn’t simply been written of as vanished or missing.

“She was telling the truth. She wasn’t sure and was just as surprised as me and Dante when it happened. She never meant to hurt me more than I hurt her.” When Gabriel gave him that sidelong look, Senias reminded the man, “Centuries…”

Gabriel simply shook his head at that. What could he say in response? Mira had been Sen’s off and on lover for centuries and then she found herself very suddenly dropped so she’d become spiteful and vengeful. What partner wouldn’t given the circumstance? She’d sought her revenge and succeeded very well.  

“If this has been going on for as long as it seems to have been, considering Petrard’s long life? – Why is Skinner just now interested?”  In his mind, the dragon didn’t just play a quick game of checkers. He was playing chess. Normally, Gabriel would be on the board with him, trying to understand everyone’s moves and possible future moves. Unfortunately, his kindred was overly focused on the twins right now, thanks to their bond and… well, his… Mira issue.  The dragon Tasker was afraid that they were now being played with – instead of playing. And he hated feeling like a pawn.

“Perhaps Petrard did something to gain Skinner’s attention. I don’t think it was a random selection at all.” Gabriel grinned at his lover.

“Ahhh…” That was an expression Senias welcomed wholeheartedly; the one that told him he shouldn’t have worried about Gabriel in the first place. Gabriel was also playing chess.  He smiled.

“When he came to the house he was looking for you and since you hadn’t answered any of his calls or numerous texts he assumed that I had you busy on an assignment. It wasn’t easy getting the details from him, but when he realized that you weren’t going to be available any time soon he conceded and let Eva and I set about investigating the Councilor.  He said he had wanted me to be available for the prosecution, but he had no choice. He wasn’t certain that the Councilor was involved with the demons, he had suspicions and isn’t that how investigations are started?”

“Did he suggest these demons in particular?” the dragon asked. 

“No. But…”

“But they’re conveniently in your targeted sights and also related to the prophecy Petrard spoke of.” Senias pointed out.

“I don’t doubt that Skinner is scheming in some way regarding this whole matter, but so far he was correct in thinking that Councilor Petrard was conducting himself improperly where the demons are concerned. And just by sure luck we know which demon is involved.” Gabriel could see this still didn’t sit well with his Tasker, but he wasn’t sure it ever would considering Skinner was involved in it. “So we’ll go and find out what this woman has to say and then we’ll go from there alright?”

The Tasker nodded.  Gabriel was right. They had been tasked with this duty and they couldn’t stop that portion of reality. No matter who had cut the brakes on this train, it was barrelling forward. All they could do was play their part, until they had something better to use for control.  

 

********************

 

Once the car had finally come to a stop, Gabriel patiently waited within it while Sen made sure the place was clear and secure. When his Tasker allowed him to exit he looked at the area and was actually surprised at how peaceful the place seemed. His phone buzzed and he looked at the text. Tucking it back into his jacket pocket he glanced around before nodding toward the front entrance. “It said she’s waiting inside at the back table.” He started to the front door with Sen at his side. The Tasker took the path a step behind. 

Once inside it was obvious the vineyard was a bed and breakfast type establishment. There were 12 tables for its guests and the brunette was seated alone at the farthest one drinking coffee. Slowing the pace as they approached the table, Gabriel stayed relaxed. Sen would be on guard well enough for the both of them.  The Councilor recognized the woman from his own research. His confidence grew. He liked having the upper hand, especially since the person on the other side of a table thought they were in that position. 

“Nice to see that you could make it monsieur.” Her gaze went from the suited gentleman to the one with him. “Didn’t trust enough to come alone?”

With his serious business side in full effect, Gabriel responded smoothly and without hesitation, “I don’t trust anyone that much.”

“Madame,” Jean-Michel Raudine bowed very slightly with his neck only to her. He wasn’t familiar with her and would not be touching her. He watched her closely and he’d sniff the air when he had a chance. He was here to protect Gabriel in this situation and was fully immersed in his role. The relaxation could come after.  He almost placed his fingertips on the small of Gabriel’s back, but pulled back very quickly to keep their appearance professional.

“Mind telling me exactly why you wished to reach out to me Monsieur Kennedy?” The brunette sipped from her small cup of coffee as she looked at the tall, dark haired young Councilor. Strength and determination emanated from him in waves. That thought made her smile behind the rim of the white ceramic cup.  

“You are part of a network of trade that runs just below the nose of Crimson and the Council in this country and in Switzerland.”

“Hmmm..” She smirked. “Go on.”

“To continue such a trade, you need to have other partners willing to trade. You need access to buyers in other countries and continents.”

“I am into imports and exports and such is the business,” she wouldn’t admit to anything illegal.

Without breaking eye contact Gabriel spoke, “The La’Severne twins and their market.” Just the name alone made the brunette quickly put the cup down on the table as she shushed him while covering a small bit of spilled coffee with her napkin.

She was certainly nervous. The scent of her now made Senias decide this portion wasn’t an act. Lovely. They were here to discuss something that made the lady nervous. And he was not the one in charge. Beautiful.

She glanced around at the other tables a moment assuring herself that they were still alone before waving towards the chair across from her. She did not invite the brooding bodyguard as she figured he was just fine where he was right then.

“I heard that you were seeking information on the underground market, but so far have not been very successful. I am willing to lend you some expertise for a continued…agreement of nondisclosure. I did not believe you wished to speak of anything else.”

As he took the seat Gabriel kept his seat a small distance from the table and he crossed one knee over the other. His hands laced together in his lap. Sen stood not far from the back of his chair like a true guard would. There was a deep breath almost as if he were bored.

“I could care less about the market itself, I’m interested in the American operators. I am seeking information on the twins.” Gabriel felt like he might as well get to the point.

There was a small sound like an astonished chuckle from her as she asked, “Are you serious?”

“Quite serious madam.” Gabriel assured in his usual serious manner. “I’m also curious about how close they are to their father.” 

“In that case I am sorry to have wasted your time.” She stood up as if to leave, “Have a good day gentlemen.”

Giving her the moment of bravado, Gabriel let her get almost to the door before announcing, “Jaqueline Rouchard, you have quite a few questionable connections yourself. Shall I name a few madam or will you return to your seat without such information being aired?” The Councilor gave her a moment to decide as he ordered over coffee.

As the waitress stepped out the door Jacqueline was leaving, she paused.

“Madame?” the waitress asked.

The brunette returned to her seat without the pleasing smile upon her lovely face. She waited until her order was set out and Gabriel had simply asked for coffee that was provided at the table. The waitress was once again gone before they continued their conversation. 

“I can’t give you much on the twins. Do you have any idea what they would do to me and mine?” She licked her mauve glossed lips as she tried to worm her way out of the situation. “Do what you think you must sir, but I fear their retaliation more so than the Council’s.”

“Really? Well, then let me be clear…” Gabriel placed his feet on the ground and leaned closer, “…I’m not here representing just the Council. I’m representing myself and I can make sure that the twins are not your problem. I believe the name of my house should tell you that I have the appropriate pull to insure your anonymity.”  

The woman took a breath. She sat back and her gaze moved from the Councilor to the Tasker and back again.  

“None of your family have ever been willing to step out to insure my safety or the safety of others besides their own. Why now?” she asked before taking a bit of toast and spreading fruit compote and cream curd on it. 

“I’m not like the rest of my family, I assure you.” Gabriel sipped his black coffee. “The twins may be involved in something that has allowed manipulation of fellow Councilors. I need to know about it. If they are not, I need to know who is complicit before my business is turned upside down. I take such things personally.”

“How will you protect me and mine?” Jacqueline asked. “You carry no wards and are human.” Her eyes flashed back to the bodyguard momentarily. She put the food back on the plate.

“I have protection enough.” Gabriel’s eyes narrowed. Why did she keep looking to Sen?

“You are a fool.” the woman whispered. “You keep company with your own answers.”

Gabriel’s head moved to the side, slightly, looking back over his shoulder to his guardian. Then he shrugged, deciding to let her continue. He smiled.

“All the more reason to ask you the questions about the twins.” Gabriel would not back down on this theme. Inside, however, he had questions on top of questions. What was she referring to? Who did she think was backing him? “What would make them desperate enough to try and lay claim to a Councilor’s loyalty?”

“Tal’Secus, of course. But you should already know that. If you don’t, as I said, you’re a fool.” She shook her head. “You have placed me, as you Americans say – between a rock and a hard place, Councilor. Until now, I thought it to only be rumors.”

Gabriel took another drink of his coffee. He said nothing.

“Now I understand why they’ve backed off on their trade with us. They’ve been using the war on the other side as their excuse, but it seems Tal’Secus truly has its hands… or should I say claws into everything.” She couldn’t even eat, she was so nervous.

“Stop sputtering, madame, it’s unbecoming.” Gabriel spoke softly as he put his coffee back on the table. “Spell it out. I don’t want to misunderstand.”

“You got me here to explain to you what is happening within the underground? You suddenly want to know something about the twins? I’ll give you what you originally asked for and nothing else. The underground market is being threatened by Tal’Secus take-over. You know of what happened recently with the doppelgangers taking over Councilors? That was Tal’Secus scheming. They failed. So, the organization is tightening it’s hold on those of us who do our business in the underground market. We have no defense, for our business is illegal in the eyes of the only policing agency in this and the other worlds.  Who are we to make a report, to?”

Gabriel’s chin tipped up slightly as he began piecing things together.

“Desperation breeds desperate acts. It led me to come to you to discuss the market in hopes that you would be able to quietly help. Desperation could very well be pushing those you seek information on.”  Jacqueline placed her napkin on the unfinished food and stood, taking her bag to her shoulder. “I have no further information for you.”

Jacqueline walked away again, only this time she didn’t stop. She left the pair of men on their own. Gabriel adjusted the cuff on one wrist and motioned for his Tasker to come closer.

“She’s worried about Tal’Secus and the demons, both. What she said, it makes sense.” Gabriel rose to his feet. “When we went to see them I was almost made a pawn by Dante and you were poisoned by Mira. So I want to know all that I can about them to avoid any repeats.” He took a step from the table. “So let’s walk and talk. There is an entire vineyard to explore on our own.”

“I can’t say I blame you for that reaction,” Senias finally replied once they were out of the cafe area. The paths through the vineyard were beautiful. “But this investigation has led to other revelations. You shouldn’t ignore those.”

“I know. I…” Gabriel took a deep breath of the fresh air. He turned to face Senias. “But, you can’t deny that she just added more to the motive category for the twins and their possible need to seek their father for help. If Tal’Secus is truly making everyone so desperate, what lengths wouldn’t they go to secure their trade? Owning a Councilor would be helpful. Especially one with the ties Petrard has.” He continued walking, his lover by his side.

“Mind telling me why that particular woman might know something about the twins that no one else has?”  Raudine asked before he stepped out the back to the vineyard, then turned and watched Gabriel do the same.

Looking towards the rows of grape vines, Gabriel answered, “I reached out to some of my grandfather’s contacts about the subject, and one told me that Miss Rouchard was their lover for several years. Then something happened and she ended up here while they went to America.”

“Mmmmm… then she won’t talk. She probably still wants back into that situation. Who wouldn’t?” Raudine was impressed. But that also meant that Miss Rouchard was more than likely using magic, a supernatural herself, or had some bit of supernatural blood. Or perhaps she was their submissive? In that role, even a human would be allowed. The demons would just have to make sure they didn’t overwhelm her. Was that possible where Angelus was concerned, he wondered to himself. “Makes me wonder what the details are of that relationship and what she might be,” She was quite beautiful, “and how much magical sight she might have.” She had looked to him several times during the conversation. And then, there were those mentions… 

“She thought I knew about Tal’Secus. She mentioned claws…” Gabriel whispered almost to himself rather than to his Tasker.

“Tal’Secus is run by dragons, you think?” Senias shrugged. “She may have recognized my aura. It would explain her nervousness. Here she was looking for help against the organization and if it’s being run by dragons… and she sees my aura as a dragon?”

As they moved down into the field, Gabriel listened to Jean-Michel and his hand reached out to smooth over one of the grape leaves and he marveled at the texture. “I’m not sure what she is or what she knows. She even admitted to running on rumors. She really is between a rock and a hard place. I won’t be getting anything else out of her. And she’d never testify.”

“She gave you a lead you…we had not thought of, though.” Senias pointed out. “Perhaps you should focus on that and not on the twins. Especially now that we’ve pretty much confirmed that their father – a DEMON LORD – is involved.”

 

“So what you are telling me is that you really would prefer that I back off and stop digging on the twins because it puts my life in danger?” Gabriel looked into Senias’ eyes as he made the statement.

“Yes! How astute you are!”  He continued walking, enjoying the sun on his face, wishing they were on a beach somewhere or wading in a mountain stream in a warmer climate.

“Is the sarcasm really necessary?” Gabriel responded in a rather dry tone. 

“Well, sometimes you deserve it.” Turning, he pointed something else out, though, “Doesn’t mean you can’t manipulate them. It doesn’t mean you can’t find other ways to take some of their power from them when you get the chance. If you want to know what’s really happening with Petrard and the market, even with Tal’Secus? There are ways that don’t include digging into places that would bring attention to you.”

Gabriel wasn’t sure when he’d get that moment. “How often do chances at those two come up, though?”

“Who knows when it’ll happen? Just try to keep an eye and ear out. Make sure you don’t let the opportunity slip away when it presents itself. One thing about demons that the myths get wrong? They aren’t so chaotic that they are unpredictable. And Mira gets into trouble a lot. I’ve seen it happen.” He chuckled, “You’ve seen it happen.”

“So I have. And I didn’t like it. I almost lost you.”

“You didn’t lose me. You gained leverage. Dante cleans up after Mira all the time and he knows he owes you for her indiscretion on some level.” Sen smiled. “Demons are not without a certain honor. Such situations have worked for me to get things out of them before.”

Raising a brow Gabriel actually scowled a little, “So you helped them out of a mess? And doing so earned you leeway?” He couldn’t help that the images that came to mind were anything but innocent. When his dragon spoke of helping the twins, he instantly felt defensive and, yes, even a little jealous.

“Hey, we both had lives well lived before … whatever this is.” Sen had this evil little portion of him that liked that Gabriel could be jealous and possessive. But he also didn’t like the idea that he’d be condemned for anything like his past. Of course, perhaps his words were a little more caustic this time than he had intended. It was just the expression on Gabriel’s face and the stiffness in his stance that told the old claw he might’ve crossed a line in what he’d said.  

It was as if he’d been slapped back to some kind of reality. His spine had stiffened and the relaxed feeling quickly fled. Clearing his throat and smoothing his hands down his jacket Gabriel nodded. 

“My apologies you are absolutely correct Mr. Raudine.” He glanced around as he pulled his shades from the inside pocket of the jacket and slid them on. “I think it’s time we made our way.” Gabriel started back towards the villa as he pulled his phone out to call for a taxi.

“Shite,” the draconic man muttered under his breath. Did he stop Gabriel and deal with this here, or did he stay quiet and just deal with it when they were sure they were alone?  Stop it, Tasker… you’re thinking like a Tasker and not… not… what the fuck was he? Here? Alone? No… Jonathan had been a master of romance and what the hell would he do? Shite. Gabriel was moving off fast. Looking at the path, he saw the fountain Gabriel was moving by. Time to catch up.

He took off running and leapt to the fountain’s stone rounding and pushed over to jump and land in front of  Gabriel. A lady nearby gasped. Several others took note and watched. His hand was on the hand with the phone and he looked in the Councilor’s eyes. No, not his Councilor, in his lover’s eyes.  

“What is this, Gabriel?” he asked, genuinely questioning. “She’s gone, so… I’m not your Tasker and you’re not my Councilor. So what are we? What is… this?” He leaned forward and kissed Gabriel’s lips, unashamed despite the audience.  

The kiss caught Gabriel off guard and yet he didn’t back off or turn away. Instead he let it continue and enjoyed it even though they were being watched by others. Only when he remembered where they were did he end it. 

~ I’m your kindred and you my dragon, ~ Gabriel used the mind speak perfectly this time. he licked his lips to enjoy the taste of his lover.

“Yes,” Senias replied out loud.

There were claps, laughter, and sounds of happiness all around the couple, some people walked off and others were clapping them on the backs and congratulating them.  The dragon looked around him, a bit bewildered. Gabriel just smiled and took the attention in stride.

“What…?”

“I think…” Gabriel blushed, ~I think – they think I proposed. You said, yes…? ~

Jean took a step back and looked around nervously. The bearded man took a deep breath and worried his lips as he thought about what Gabriel was saying. He rocked on his large feet and considered what he knew and what he wanted to say. Things weren’t going so well in his head.  He put on a smile for their audience and took Gabriel’s hand. The two men nodded politely to those around them, but made their way back toward the side exit. 

“I know it’s certainly off-topic, but I’ve thought about it with you.” Gabriel admitted as they walked. “Is that fantasy?” 

“It is in the situation we’re facing,” the dragon replied. “I’m your Tasker, for one thing. If this were a sweet, perfect little world, that would be the only problem. You know, the making sure our supervisors know and getting transferred so that being lovers, we don’t come across as having a conflict of interest.”

“I’m going to get dragons off the kill list, then…”

“Do you realize how many times I’ve heard that from a Kennedy?” Senias shook his head.

Gabriel jerked the man’s hand back to force Senias to face him. The startled expression was something he wasn’t used to seeing.

“How many times do I have to tell you, I’m not like any other Kennedy?” Senias’s glare became something more like awed intrigue. A smoldering fire between them became a roaring flame.

“I’ve never really been into something this deep that didn’t go sideways when things like feelings and emotions got in the way,” Senias admitted. “Are you sure you want to risk such insanity and chaos with me?”

Putting his hands to his hips Gabriel turned to look at his lover, “I’ve never felt this about anyone. Never thought I would. But here we are.” 

“Here we are,” the dragon growled as he stepped into Gabriel and removed the man’s hands from his waist to take in his own. He let his face rest against Gabriel’s face for a few heartbeats, before he nuzzled his lover; his draconic way of showing affection while still in human form. 

“Here we are,” Gabriel accepted the loving gesture for what it was and what it meant. He was so close. He had to wipe away Sen’s bonds before they could move forward in an official capacity. Taking the man’s face between his palms, he pulled the Tasker into a deep kiss. He’d do it. He’d do it because he wanted to live the rest of his life not worrying that Senias could be taken from him, killed for simply existing. He’d do it, so no one could hold anything over either of their heads.  He’d do it because he loved this man; this dragon.    

 

Gabriel eased back from the kiss as the taxi pulled up and he smiled, “Let’s get out of here. You know this country better than I so you pick where we go for the rest of the day.”

************

“Well, well, well,” Ezekiel Skinner whispered to himself. He was masquerading as a common tourist in the chateau up the hill from where the Tasker and his Councilor had been waiting and talking and… kissing. He slowly pulled the binoculars from his eyes and took a nice deep breath. His grin grew as thoughts of what he could do with this information danced through his head. “I’ve never seen you make so many mistakes, Raudine.”

“Is it that we are bien? We are good?” Jacqueline asked from behind him.

“You wanted your market to thrive while the demon’s market failed. Well, if they’re put out of business, you’d better be ready to take on their shares. That’s all on you.” Skinner replied. He turned to her and she bowed her head in understanding.

 

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

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Picture is from article: http://parisjourney.com/exploring-the-best-vineyards-near-paris

Photographer Credited: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sonofgroucho/