Her folks were off doing their thing and her siblings were gone to their own ventures which left her the house and grounds to herself. Taking her dad’s advice, Isabel went to the stables and saddled up the stud for a ride.

It helped clear her mind and focus her scattered thoughts as she rode over the countryside with not a care in the world. She hadn’t even noticed she was outside the wards until she was riding the fence line and right then it didn’t seem to be such a big deal.

Two hours later Isabel stopped on her favorite hill and took break beneath the big oak tree there. This was her tree, earned through blood sweat and tears. She’d tried to fly from one of branches and busted up her left arm and leg. Her brothers had carried her home that time so that dad could patch her up after he and mom lectured and chewed her out until she thought her ears would bleed. It had been Izzy that had cleared the wood rot from its branches and roots. That had been grueling and she swore she’d lost ten pounds just in hard work. Her dad had found her here after her first heartbreak and wiped away her tears just as he had this last time.

Seated as she was, she could see the ranch below and the old house the lived in. She could enjoy the cool breeze of the midday. Isabel finally pulled her phone out and let cool know she wasn’t making it back for lunch. Setting the phone aside Izzy laid back pulled her cap down over her eyes and just closed them to enjoy the momentary solitude and the silence that was currently in her head. 

“A quarter for your thoughts,” Derek said from a few feet away from her. He’d gotten very close this time, but didn’t want to be too close. She might hit. He knew she did hit. It had been a game for them when they had been dating. It was something he looked back on with fondness.  The sentiment was because she had once said her thoughts were worth much more than a penny.

Startled awake, Isabel sat up quickly and shoved her hat back at the familiar, deep rumbly voice that sent good shivers down her spine all the way to her toes. Isabel actually curled her toes in her boots to squelch the sensation as her heart raced.

“Ya got me this time wolfman. She eased back to relax against the base of the oak and wrapped her arms around her drawn up knees. “Haven’t seen you in a while, what brings you Dare?”

“I had to come back up here to one of my little hideaways to grab some stuff. I’ll be in the city for a while. You just happened to be here when I came by to visit the old one,” He was referring to the old oak.   

Isabel smiled just a little. Her heart still ached from her time with the handsome lycan.

“Yeah I guess we both just need to visit ole Oak today.”

“Need to talk? No strings attached, Izzy. I have someone, this is all… friends only territory,” He smiled.

Her brows rose at this and she couldn’t hide her surprise.

“Oh..ah.. yes of course we both do and everything is fantastic for us both right?” She made that ridiculous huffing sounds between her lips as she watched him go for his secret stash inside the hollow area in the middle forking of the tree. He had to climb just a bit to reach inside. The entire time they dated this was their meeting place. She’d shared how special it was with him and he’d taken it as a special place too. It just hit her that she had never brought Largros here. She had never shared its importance with him.

Her green gaze dropped to the grass as she eased back down. “I never shared this with him…” Her voice broke as her bottom lip trembled just a little. She angrily wiped tears from her eyes and took a deep breath. “Sorry.. I’m fine.. just a lot going on.. How are you and who’s making you smile so brightly these days?”

Derek hopped back to his feet holding something in his hand.

“Her name is Mira. She’s beautiful inside and out, and fierce. She put the pack on the other side, including my sister in their place over me. It was quite a sight to see.” He smirked, his dimples showing.  

“Sounds like a great gal and you deserve a great one.” In that Isabel was being completely honest. He deserved someone to adore him and defend him from everything and everyone.

Derek squatted next to her.

“Maybe he just needs help coming around? Maybe, you’re scared to share more with him, because … he either isn’t the one or he hasn’t fought for you, yet? I know seeing someone… someone that you want… fight for you? It’s a great feeling.” It was difficult to find the words when he spoke to Izzy. He had thought she was the one a couple of years back, but she had not wanted him. Now she was having trouble and he wasn’t. Part of him felt good about that, but at the same time, part of him felt sad about it. He still cared about her.  That emotion hadn’t left despite the frustration and hurt.

“Maybe.. I guess we’ll figure it out or he’ll run and find someone else.” Izzy shrugged her shoulders and plucked at the grass near her.  “He just left me Dare.. I felt him one minute and then the next he was gone..and I didn’t know why or what I did wro…” Isabel’s eyes went wide as she realized what she describing was almost exactly what she’d done to him.

Quickly rising to her feet she shook her head as her chest tightened with the ache she was feeling. This was almost exactly what he’d gone through and she had been the cause.

“You okay?” He rose to his feet as well, wondering what suddenly hit her.

“I can’t believe this.. karma right? This is your moment to kick me when I’m down right? I mean I deserve it and if anyone should get the honor it would be you!” She was hurting and she was lashing out at him because he was the one here as she crumbled.

He bit back a returning anger. But his eyes showed the hurt.  Maybe they couldn’t be friends? Maybe all those magazine articles were right.  He took a deep breath.

“If that’s how you see it, Izzy, fine. Maybe you need to feel this out. But it’s not why I’m here. I had no clue Largros had come on that trip without telling you. I assumed you knew. I assumed you were already more than just dating.” Derek shrugged and huffed through his nose.  “Sorry I interrupted your pity party.” He was turning to walk away when she caught him. 

“I.. I’m sorry Dare.. please don’t go.” Isabel reached out to grab his hand to keep him from turning away. “I’m just so confused and hurt and.. and angry and even sort of numb. Then I realized this is exactly what I put you through and it was like a slap in the face. How could I do that to you and how could you forgive me for it?” She let his hand go and stepped back so that he could leave if he wanted to.

There was a moment of silence as Derek Weylyn thought of how to respond to all of that. His eyes were on his hands and then he looked up at her.

“We all make mistakes. Maybe that’s the lesson here. I was ready for something you didn’t want at that time. You’re now ready for something with Largros that he’s not sure about. Just because you weren’t sure between the two of us, doesn’t make you a bad person and maybe… it doesn’t make him a bad person. I think you’re the perfect person for this to happen to, because you can put yourself in his shoes and give him a chance to explain. Either it’s worth letting each other know where you stand or it’s not. It’s as simple as that. No game playing. That’s my two cents to add to your quarter, Izzy.” Derek spoke softly when he talked to her. He tried not to put too much emotion into the advice.

She gave a soft little laugh and showed her dimples for a brief instant before her wild mass of dark curls fell over her face like a curtain.  “It’s pretty good advice and surely worth the twenty seven cents.”

Suddenly, Isabel’s phone rang.  It was Largros’ ringtone.

“I gotta take this.. excuse me a minute.” Isabel pressed the talk button and lifted the phone to her ear.

Dare nodded and remained quiet.

“Hello Largros. I was wondering when you would call.” She was dreading this conversation but also very glad that her call was being answered.

“I was scared that you were still angry with me. I wanted to give you some time. And then, I was Tasked to Councilor Kennedy out of nowhere. But… I’m calling now. Do you want to meet and talk?”

“I think we should,” She looked over to Derek, who nodded to her for encouragement. “…unless you’ve changed your mind. If you want to talk without my parents hovering now would be the best time.” Isabel caught her bottom lip between her teeth and waited for his answer. She wasn’t sure how the meeting would go, but she felt that he deserved at least a chance to show her that he truly was apologetic for what he’d done.

“I’ll take now, chere. Where should I meet you? Should I … come to you?” Largros asked. “It would be nice to be alone with you.”

Dare’s eyes narrowed and there was a low growl.  He didn’t like those kind of words. Sounded to him like the dragon just hoped to get her alone and Casanova her.  She didn’t deserve that.

“What was that?” Largos had barely heard something, he wasn’t sure what it was for certain, though.

“I’m at my tree and the wards don’t reach this far so you can portal here.” Isabel left it at that as she ended the call while looking at Derek.  “Are you sticking around to play chaperone or are you going to leave me to it?”

“You’re a grown woman, but he’s more than just a man, Izzy. And you know he wasn’t just playing heroic defender over there, right?” Derek was going to be straight with her.  

Isabel gave a heavy sigh as she stared at her ex. Was this just him getting back for what she’d done to him? If so it was a shitty thing to do. “Derek.. “

“I’m not trying to get you back, or make things rough for you. Don’t think like that.” Dare took a deep breath. He looked down at the ground like he often did when he was trying to figure out how to translate his thoughts to Isabel. “Just because we came together at the wrong time doesn’t mean I hate you or I want you to hurt. So…just be careful?”

The portal finished closing behind Largros and the dragon stepped forward, a bit of a growl on his throat as he did so.  

Derek stood his ground and didn’t budge.  

“Hey, no growling. You’re here to see me remember?” Isabel stood up and brushed her pants off. “I said my parents weren’t here, I never said I was alone.”

“Why’s he here?” Largros immediately didn’t like this situation for soooo many reasons. The lycan had been a partner back on the other side, but he also knew things…

“He’s here because I want him to be.” Isabel stated very directly at the dragon as he took his defensive stance towards Derek.

“What’ve you said?” Largros asked the lycan point blank.

“Less than I should, more than you’ll know,” Derek replied, his trademark mischievous grin on his face.

“What I need to say to Isabel is between us and has nothing to do with you,” Largros almost growled again, but caught himself. Izzy didn’t like that.

“Hey, if anything I’m offering to be here to keep you honest. Or, Izzy can check with me later if she wants. Either way, consider yourself put on-notice. But it’s her decision whether I go or not. Not yours, whelp.”

“Don’t call me that!” Largros this time, did growl. He might have been younger than Derek, but he was not subordinate to the lycan.

“Then stop acting like one.”

Rubbing her forehead Isabel shook her head and turned away from them both. She stared out at the wide stretch of field that spread out just below the hill her tree stood on and she wiped the single tear from the corner of her eye.

As the two men went quiet she turned to look at Largros with that hint of pain still in her eyes.

“You wanted to talk to me. Here we are and you’ve yet to say a word to me. You’re first worry is what Derek has said to me. Stop worrying about him and talk to me.” Isabel wasn’t shouting or throwing a tantrum, she was actually pleading with him which wasn’t something she normally did. She loved him and she wanted to know that he loved her the same way. Was that so bad?

“It’s…habit…” Largros swallowed. He backed up from both of them. “I want to explain. I will. I just, don’t feel I owe him anything. I owe you something.”

Wrapping her arms around herself, Isabel looked at the handsome lycan, “It’s okay Derek, you can go and I’ll call you later. Thanks for listening to me.” Izzy was thankful they may yet still be friends. She missed talking to him. In some ways she felt that Derek understood her better than anyone else.. even more than Largros at times.

“Yeah, if you’re okay, Izzy, I am.” Derek hugged her sincerely instead of it feeling like a challenge. Largros didn’t even make a motion or a growl this time, for he could see it.  Derek turned from her and walked back toward the dragon. His shoulder touched Largros’ and he whispered, “You hurt her, you deal with me. And I know how to kill a dragon.”

Largros was forced to turn so Derek could make his way. He took the threat in stride. He deserved it. He’d admit it. Swallowing, Largros took a step forward.

“I love you. And that frightens me. Because… I am not just… a person.”

With her arms still crossed, Isabel listened and what he said confused her. Reaching out one hand she cupped his cheek and smoothed her thumb over his bottom lip.

“I know that you aren’t just a person. You are a dragon and you’ve lived at least a lifetime or two before me and after me you will live several more. That doesn’t stop me from loving you, so what about all of that frightens you?” Her dad was a dragon and he’d been teaching her for years all about their traditions, customs and cultural ways.

“You know that I am a Tasker. But, I am also a criminal. I am a dragon who enjoys both men and women. I can feel for more than one. I am heir to a clan. I have never been the one to let my heart linger oft long on one soul. I may never be… but I am tempted with yours.”  Largros closed his eyes and delighted in her touch, but he would not touch her in return. To do so would lead to more and he wanted to be clear before doing more or ending this conversation unfinished.

“Will you turn from me knowing all of this? I am here to be honest with you. To begin again, if we may or… to leave you with a rip in my heart.”

Her hand slipped away and she wasn’t sure what to do.

“I can deal with a lot, but am I the only one having to accept things? I’m human with limits. And I’m not sure how I feel about having to share you with others. Are you saying that you would be willing to do the same?” Would he truly be alright knowing she was with someone else? Not that she wanted anyone else right now, but if he was asking this of her, Isabel felt it only fair to do the same. “Can you not just be with me for my lifetime? Is that asking too much?”

“You have no idea how long you’ll actually live. You and where this relationship between us might go? Both of those determine how long you’ll live, Isabel.”

Something about the look of him gave her some of her answer, “There’s someone else isn’t there? It isn’t just me right now..” her heart ached a little knowing that.

“I…” Largros took a deep breath and faced her. “…don’t know. Maybe. But it would never be the same as you and I – if it is anything.” He didn’t expect her to understand.  But Gabriel’s words came back to his mind. What he’d said? Yes. It made sense. “All I can do is tell you everything. I have no one that I can tell everything to. I’ve never trusted anyone with everything. And though I have feelings for someone else, that person is not  the one I can share everything with. You are.”  Largros looked over at the tree she had mentioned. It was as if he had just noticed it.  “I feel like the time I’ve spent with you, tells me that I could spend eternity with you. I want you to know more and more about me and my life – things I don’t usually share with anyone. out of fear. You’ve warn down most of my defenses just by being you.”

Isabel couldn’t help herself. She loved him and though it meant accepting things outside her comfort zone to have him, she would. Or at least she would try to accept it. Isabel stepped forward and hugged him. Her head rested on his chest as her arms went around his waist.

Largros held her close to him and closed his eyes. 

~ I feel you more than I have felt anyone before. It’s frightening to me. I warned you that those of my clan have been hard hit by humanity before this, so opening up to you is a huge step for me. I’m going against others in doing so. But… if you accept me then I would accept you and everything that is you. Yes. I would be willing to do the same if it meant you were still the most important part of my life and I might be the same for you. ~ He wasn’t as large as Derek, but he could still hold her tight and adore her. 

“I’ll try.. I can’t promise that I’m accepting of everything, but I’ll try for you because I love you. Just don’t keep things from me and never leave me like that again.”

“I’ll never do that again.” He held her close. “It took… I had to understand who you were to me. I had to understand. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you. But at the time, I couldn’t do it. I didn’t understand.” His heart warmed and he tried to feel her. Taking a deep breath out of the embrace, Largros’ gaze went back to the tree. “This place is special,” he whispered.

“It’s my tree. Dad says it knows me and it holds all my secrets better than a journal. I come here when I need to escape. This is my sanctuary.” She smiled as she watched her horse graze not too far away and she had to admit that right now she felt pretty good.

“All supernaturals have a sanctuary. Guess you have some supernatural in you as well,” Largros tugged her with him closer to the tree. He sat down and leaned back upon it, then pulled her into his arms.  

“Thank you for sharing it with me. Please be patient with me? I’ll share with you all I can and some I’m probably not allowed to share,” his eyes were smiling.

Tilting her head back Isabel looked up at him, “You better because I don’t give third chances and my dad may skin you alive next time.” She knew her parents weren’t going to be happy but it was her life not theirs. Isabel could honestly say that her folks’ bite was just as bad as their bark. But they would accept and deal, or she would move out and they knew it.

“How’s the gig with my cousin going for that demon’s release? Is he working you double time?” She wasn’t sure what the big deal was but apparently it was big enough to garner much attention.

“Gabriel has some evidence that should be unreputable. I don’t think Dante has anything to worry about. He just has to make it to the Council Meeting. If I can get back in there again, I will. Maybe it’d help.” It bothered Largros that he couldn’t get Dante out easily. What Darius had said about him really struck hard.  They were all so… bound…

He had only just made the connection to the demon and yet, he cared about him.

“Well from what I hear of my cousin, he’s good, so maybe Dante has a chance. I just don’t get the big deal. As I understand it, the demon and his sister have been a pain in everyone’s ass for years. You’d think they’d all want to toss the key but it seems like people are jumping through hoops to get him out. I mean isn’t he into that black market thing and the slave trade stuff so..” She shrugged her shoulders, “Kind of makes my cousin a hypocrite doesn’t it? Here he tosses that kind in holes or off-with-their-heads them and this one he’s saving. Makes no sense.”

“Miranda and Dante aren’t just that. They’re much more. And so is your knight in black armor that just left. So am I. Do you think we dragons all have lairs with riches that we can live on and invest so that we have plenty of money for the rest of our lives? I can’t fault them for surviving anymore than I could fault myself… or Derek.” Though the lycan’s name was said with less gusto than the rest. “Gabriel knows Dante is innocent. And he refuses to allow the innocent to be railroaded. He’s even… there’s rumor that…” Largros swallowed. “…some say he’s looking to repeal the blacklisting of the dragons. Because, though all aren’t innocent, the blacklisting is unfair and unjust.”

Isabel turned to look back at Largros.

“Since I know about his new beau, the blacklisting thing doesn’t seem strange to me. It’s the demom defense that’s out-there. Doesn’t that seem strange to you? Unless Gabe owes him and then it would make sense.” Had she struck a nerve? Was it her cousin that Largros had a thing for? She was trying to figure this out. Sure, Derek had said ‘no games’ but she didn’t just want to come out and ask. How would that work? Dragons weren’t really the share types…

“Gabriel’s not a demon looking to make deals. He’s just an honest man and he’s trying to stop us all from being railroaded.” Largros shrugged. “I know we’re guilty of a lot of things, Dante, too… but none of us are guilty of the things Crimson says we’re guilty of.”

Facing forward Isabel went quiet a moment, “Sorry, we can talk about something else, your choice.” Was she close to something? She didn’t ask because she really didn’t want to know. Or did she?

“You’re the one who wants to know the truth about things, Izzy.” Since she’d gotten up from him, Largros scooted down until his back was on the ground.  He took her hand and held it, as if even though she was the one that was making him kind of uncomfortable – her presence also helped him.  

With a huff of a sigh Isabel blew wild black curls from her face as she straddled his hips and sat on her knees astride him. With her hands resting on Largros’ chest she looked him in the eyes, “Okay so tell me more then. Tell me how you are like them. Tell me everything.”

Well now, this was more like the Isabel he was accustomed to. The truth. Very well. He licked suddenly dry lips and started from the top.

“I run the underground in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast along with my clan. We refuse slave running. But everything else? Depends on what the profit to risk margin is.” He wasn’t sure if she loved him as much as he loved her. He was about to find out.

“But no slave running. Okay, so kind of like side line trading in business. I can handle that. As long as no one is trying to kill you daily.” When Largros gave her that questioning look she had to giggle a bit. “Look, I’ve not been a saint Largros. I’m called the problem child for a reason, remember? So yes – I can handle what you’ve told me so far.”

“People could kill us daily, ma chere.” He reached up and moved the back of his fingers over her cheek.  “They have slayers. They know how to kill us. There would be no retribution for it, and the mess would be cleaned up in an instant. That’s why we pretend to be things we are not. That’s why we lie. And we get good at it.”

He could tell that she hadn’t really thought about it that way.

“I showed I trusted you when I told you what I was. Now, I’m trusting you all the more by telling you who I am.  I hope you understand that even though most people would consider me a villain, you don’t. Just like, even though most people consider Dante and Mira villains, I don’t.”  

“It’s okay you can trust me. I’ll protect you, even if my cousin’s plan fails for dragons.” Isabel leaned down to kiss him and smiled against his lips. “Besides, I like bad boys. They’re sexy as hell and really turn me on. Just don’t get me killed. Dad wouldn’t like that at all. My mom wouldn’t either and you are already on their shit list. We’ll have to find a place to meet since dad has the house warded against you now.”

“We have here, but we could also have a place in the city. You could have friends pick you up or even drive to a stop and ride. Take the bus in… meet me there. Where would you like it to be? I can portal to anywhere … almost…” his fingers went under her shirt to move over her back. He was already stiff beneath her. He couldn’t help himself in that. “Once we meet up, it’d be easy to go from there to anywhere. You know that from experience.”  

Isabel knew also from experience that if she had a skirt on she’d already feel much more than just the hard length of pressed against her denims. “I can meet you.. in the city at our coffee shop.. you know the little on the corner..” His fingers moved along her spine and Isabel had to arch her back just a little almost like a cat. The move rolled and pressed her center against him and she smiled down at him. Her nails pressed through his shirt and she knew he’d wear half moon crescent mark’s from them. She couldn’t permanently mark him like some supernaturals did so she had her own little ways of reminding him that he belonged to her.

He growled for her and smiled almost as if he were in a daze when she did that to him. He loved it. He swore one day he’d get tattoos of her nails it felt so damn good.

“The local? Whitley Brew? Yeah. That’s fine. I know we can walk to the arboretum from there and that’s an easy place to portal from.” His short nails scratched down her back before she moved backwards from his grasp.

There was no way she was going to give into him right then. He was still on punishment for bailing on her as he had. But she had nothing against giving him a taste.  This would remind him for what she could do for him when they were on that level. Isabel growled in her way – which was in no way frightening – as she leaned to kiss him and let her hand slide down to the front of his pants. She opened them and slid it in to grasp him not realizing that another had done something similar to him not but a week prior.

Largros took a breath when she wound up doing exactly the same thing Dante had done. His thoughts went back to the demon and their interlude at the inn. It made him recall the rest of what he told her.  

“Not that… I want you to stop… “ He hitched his hips so that his velvety cock slide in her hand. “But you wanted to know more about my business and you said you could accept that. What about the other?”  

Instead of removing her hand Isabel squeezed mid stroke and rubbed her thumb over the head, “The other? Have they done this for you?” She stroked him again and let her nails from the other hand dig deeper. “Is that why you want me to stop?” Isabel nipped his chin and kissed him again before he could answer.

“I…” he was caught off guard by both the pain and pleasure of that moment. And then she was kissing him again. Maybe this was a don’t ask don’t tell? No. She had asked…

But then after another deep kiss she sat up with her hand still gripping him and her nails still in his chest. Isabel didn’t move as she let Largros speak. He wanted to tell and then she’d decide what to do next.

“I don’t want you to stop. But, yes. He did that. At least, when it comes to unzipping, taking, and stroking. He doesn’t claim me, like you do. We’ve only been together once.  I suppose the question is, do you mind if I have a male lover, so long as you’re my primary concern and obsession?”

She had misunderstood, but that happened in moments like this. Leaning forward, Isabel rested her forehead on his chin a moment as she thought about what he was saying. Before she answered she had to know something. 

“First tell me, is it my cousin you have a thing for? I just need to know first.”

Izzy felt herself raise and lower with his muscles as he laughed for a couple of seconds before he coughed and cleared his throat.

“Uh, no… not ever… I would never cross that line. I like my life and my neck intact. Gabriel is claimed by someone much older, wiser, and more experienced than I am.” Just imagining what Senias would do to him over Gabriel was frightening. Besides, Gabriel was a bit too uptight for his tastes. On the other hand, Dante was the opposite of uptight.  

Her grip eased and she relaxed with his answer, “He’s never before me. Me and my needs come first?” She was stroking him again slower this time.

“Yes.” Largros swallowed, his eyes showing his concentration. “Always. He… he already has his own primary.” Largros hoped she understood the meaning of that. “I think this time together? It was about both of us needing some male attention. I know for a fact that it had nothing to do with dissatisfaction from our primaries.”

It was a surprise to hear that the other had a significant other as well. She just wasn’t so sure as to what need was filled by this other male that she didn’t fill herself. Was she lacking for him in some way? Not daring to ask such a thing, Isabel kissed him again softer this time.

~ Then I should have no problem with it..or at least I’ll try. This is really new to me. ~ It was the first time she’d spoken to him mentally since he’d left to the Otherworld.

~ It’s not new to me, but… even though I’ve had multiple lovers before, I’ve never had someone I’d consider as close to kindred at the same time as I had multiple lovers. ~  He moved his fingers around to her button fly.

When Largros tried for more Isabel gave that soft husky laugh and dodged without letting go or stopping. She figured the kindred comment was nothing more than a ploy as well. 

“Oh no, see… you were a very naughty dragon and so you are on restriction until further notified.” She rolled her hips again which rubbed more against him as she stroked and pressed down on his sac when she sat back. The pressure would keep him from finding release before she decided to let him. Isabel knew just how to dole out punishment when it was necessary.

“Holy shit,” Largros was grunting and breathing heavily from that special kind of pain that came from getting so close to climax only to be denied. She’d never gone this far with such teasing! “Are you gonna keep doing this and give me blue balls, then? Is that my punishment?” His hands slapped the grass and his fingers dug into it as she worked him again. “I’m losing track of which one of you is actually the demon at this point…” Largros growled, his fingers now clenching not just grass but dirt.

That gave Izzy pause and she smiled at him. Isabel let Largros catch his breath before she started up again. She worked him until his body tightened up like a bow string and he was panting. Their gazes met, hers focused and domineering and his accepting and even questioning.  She let up on the pressure she had constricting him so that he was allowed to finish. When he groaned and closed his eyes the least bit, she pressed her nails into him, delivering a sharp tinge of pain to spice up the pleasure. He gasped, the sensations mingling delightfully in his body! She definitely got his eyes to open for her again and he didn’t dare look away or close his eyes.  Once they were done, there were bloody little half circles on his shirt.

“I never said I wasn’t evil, hot stuff.” Isabel withdrew her hand and slung the majority of the sticky dew off to the grass at their side. She did smile and suck her middle finger clean before wiping the rest off on the bottom of her shirt. Carefully she tucked him away and re-fastened his pants before shoving his shirt up to press kisses to each of the spots where nails had scored. It was as close to marking him as she could get. Too bad they wouldn’t stay. “Do you feel punished?” Isabel bit his left nipple playfully before putting his shirt back down and just laying her head on him.

“As punished as I can be, yes. But I liked it. So is it really punishment?” Largros purred for her.  “You know, I could get them tattooed and use a special ink and the marks would stay. Would you like that?” His fingers moved absently through her lovely dark tresses. “I could call them, Izzy’s moons.”

“Yes, I like that.” She smiled at the thought. “It’d be my marks on you and let others know you’re mine. Always and forever, no matter what.” The way she looked at it was that when she was gone from this world she wanted his next kindred to know he would always belong to her, his first kindred. “Izzy’s moons, it has a nice ring to it.”

“Dante has the ink for it. I’m sure he could tattoo it for me.” Largros happened to know the demon enjoyed the art. He had a steady hand and could create things of perfect measure by simply eyeing it.  That night, back in the other world? They hadn’t just fucked. They had talked. The dragon supposed, that might be why he was allured by the demon.

“Sounds like you and the demon are good friends.” She loved the way his fingers played through her hair, it was soothing in away. “We all need such good friends. Maybe Derek can be mine.”

“I can accept that. He’s brave and resourceful and protective of you. I’m not sure we could be friends, but…” the dragon let that fall off.

“Can I be there when he does them?” She was excited by the idea. “Maybe he’ll do one for me too.”

“You’ll have to be there, because you’ll have to mark me before he can then make it permanent. He may grumble a bit at first. He kind of likes my body as it is… no marks or scars. But, you’re my primary. My lover doesn’t get a say.” Largros sighed contentedly.

It took Izzy a moment to put it all together, but when she did she shot upright and her eyes went wide.

“What?” Largros wasn’t sure if he should be looking for something or…

“Ooh, you mean he’s… ohhhh your lover.. it’s Dante, like the demon Dante.” She scrubbed her hands through her dark curls and realized all the things she had said before. She also realized what Derek had meant by his comment. “So you and he…over in the other world?”

“Yes. Inea said he needed male companionship and I hadn’t been with a male in…” Largros started counting up the years on his fingers. “Thirty four or five years, maybe?” He shrugged.

Still sitting atop him she chewed her lip and kept her hands buried in her hair as her head tipped back. Her body was arched in this fashion and stretched the rock band shirt tight across her chest.

“I can mark you and then he can do your tattoos. Oh yeah, that won’t be awkward at all.” She took in a deep breath and held it a moment before exhaling.

“Isabel?”

She looked down at him and her green eyes were like bits of jade focusing on him.

“I’m sorry I deceived you. Please don’t be angry with him. I…” he sighed before continuing, “I knew you’d be upset with me. And I knew I didn’t want to lose you. But I also knew I wanted to enjoy him. So I left without talking to you, left you the note, but it definitely omitted that part. I’m not ashamed of being bisexual or being wary of monogamy. But I am ashamed that I deceived you.”  

She crossed her arms over her chest and huffed, “You duped me and while I was over here heart sick, you were rocking your jollies with him and he knows. He’s going to see me and know just how much a fool I’d be for you. I love you that much.”

She wiped at the corners of her eyes and her brows furrowed as she chastised herself for the stupid tears. Even though she’d forgiven him, it still hurt. She wished she could turn it off but it didn’t work that way.

He tried to pull her to him, but she resisted. And when she did, he scooted back up as best he could to his elbows so he could look at her more closely.

“Don’t… don’t cry, Isabel.  He doesn’t know that you didn’t know. But he does know that I love you. He knows that. He could feel it. He could feel my love for you when I thought about you.”  

There was a soft hiccup and it was like the topping to the freakin cake of pathetic! Could she get worse?

“I can’t help it. I’d stop them if I could. I hate to cry I think its it’s stupid and weak and I hate it. But I just can’t help it.” It was at least good that no one outside her family knew. At least there was that. She leaned forward then and let him hold her once more. Soon she’d have to head back or the cook would send others to look for her. But she just wanted to enjoy another moment before he left.

 

“It’s okay… I get that. Cry it out, then. I don’t think you’re stupid or weak. You’re strong but I made you angry and hurt you. I don’t mind. It means I get to hold you longer.” He hoped that would help. Maybe it would turn her tears into giggles.

She did cry even as she giggled for him. But he held her and that made everything better in away her dad’s holding and soothing hadn’t. After a little, while she wiped her sniffles and dried her cheeks before standing up. “The sun’s going down and I need to get back.  Will I see you tomorrow?” Before Largros could answer she shook her head, “No wait I can’t see you tomorrow. I’m running errands with mama in the city. She has some things she said she needs to pick up and dad won’t be here, so I’m taking her. How about the next day?” She tugged her hair up into a band atop her head and whistled for her horse to come.

“My schedule is based on your cousin’s schedule for now. The pitfalls of being a Tasker,” Largros hugged her before kissing her forehead and then letting her go to her horse. He knew better than to get too close, most of the creatures didn’t like him.

“Then I’ll have to demand the day from him.” She smiled and Largros would know she fully intended to do just that. “Behave yourself and don’t get into any trouble without me.” Her horse pranced and took off. She laughed and held on, urging her steed to run down through the forest trail. She waved at Largros before vanishing out of sight.  

He watched her for as far as he could. He was ecstatic. And then he had a thought. He reached for his phone and called Mira.

 

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