When Largros came to the Kennedy estate, he knew he would need to speak with lycan to gain access. The lycan had a lot of secrets that even Gabriel Kennedy knew nothing about – which was hilarious, considering by human law, it was the Councilor’s property.  One of which was a spare lair that had been made up in the side of the hills further up from the main estate. It was known among the dragon clans that Inea and Senias were mates. It was also known that both dragons had been in service to the Kennedy Clan for many centuries.  Largros supposed Gabriel might know about it, but wasn’t certain. This was his first visit to it.

“Here ya are,” the young lycan said as he turned to leave back down the trail.

“But,” Largros was looking around at the forested place the lycan had taken him to. There was but a path, and that path was actually very heavily overgrown. “I don’t know where I’m going.”

“We don’t stick around this place. Ain’t really considered just our territory. It’s shared. And I ain’t too keen on bein’ around a dragon, ‘specially if she’s mad.”

“Oh…”

“You’ll figure it out. And then? You’ll be met.” His lycan guide turned and shifted to the form of a large grey wolf before running back down the hill.  

“That doesn’t make me nervous, at all,” Largros muttered sarcastically, before sighing and then turning to what little trail he could see. “Here goes nothing.”  He began walking up the steeper and steeper incline. This place reminded him of mountains, and yet, the mountains were a bit further on from this. He supposed you could call it the foothills of mountains? It was beautiful, especially in fall.  The leaves were changing colors. He wondered off-handedly if no longer having leaves would make a difference. He wasn’t sure how long he had been following the trail, now alongside a beautiful stream that cascaded over smooth stones below. He could hear the sounds of a waterfall not far away.  

“Ye know better. And… ye knew better.” Seamus’ voice was a bit gruff. The red-headed Scot was scowling as he watched the young draconic man turn in a start toward him.  

Just a short distance behind Seamus, Gabriel Kennedy was carefully making his way up to join them. “What is it exactly that he should know better about?” Catching sight of Largros, the Councilor stretched his hand out for a shake. “Hello Largros what brings you out here?”

Largros took Gabriel’s hand in a shake, since he was closer and nicer. Where had he come from? A different trail?

“Well, if my eyes were blind, I’d still be surprised by that voice,” Seamus turned his attention toward Kennedy. “I did’na expect ye ta make a visit. Since yer great-grand got pissed off with her and banished us from the lands, I also did’na expect her to return. But she’s a might bit tired.” Seamus had no beef with the new Kennedy heir and his dragoness had spoken highly of the boy. He watched as the man met with the younger dragon.

Largros looked off toward where Seamus had apparently come from. He sighed heavily.

At the look on the dragons face, Gabriel glanced back towards the trail that led to the “hidden” lair.

“Wait, don’t tell me.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed, “Does it involve Isabel or Dante?” He was thinking Dante because why else would he be out here headed towards the lair that Inea was currently resting in.

“Dante. I need to explain why Lady Inea felt him and yet was not allowed audience with him,” Largros looked back to Gabriel and added, “I also suppose I need to explain to you that your Tasker was present so that Mira could meet with him just now. He was beaten again. I allowed him to take energy from me. I don’t think anyone knows I did. I was there as a guardian. It only happened while the cams and audio were off.”   At least, Largros hoped that was the case.

“Are you all determined to make this case a complete hell on her nerves and my sanity?” Gabriel shoved his fingers through his hair and scowled at his Tasker. “I thought it was agreed no more visits for now. We have a plan and the strategy is solid if each one of us does our part. If Inea becomes too ill to do her part, we’ll have to go another route and that would take even more time.”

“I understand, but…” Largros began but was cut off.

Gabriel held up a hand, “I heard what you said and I’ll see that no further harm comes to him while in holding, but no more visits. As my Tasker, you risk my case and jeopardize everything if your connection is found out.”

“Connection. That’s one way ta put it,” Seamus muttered. “Yer lucky she is ill, or ye’d be skint.”  

“I am not taking him as a kindred or a … whatever the demons call it,” Largros spat.

“Yer takin’ him for more than what ye were allowed. I know that much, welp.” The Scotsman’s eyes dared the boy to deny it.  

“That’s not my call to make.”

“Yer damned straight it’s not. And if my lady don’t want ta share more’n’a romp from her other kindred, you’d best be backin’ the fuck off.”

“That’s not just her decision to make,” Largros put his hands on his hips.

“This is how ye takin’ a stand? While my dragon is fighting for her energy to save that demon’s ass, you think ta move in?” Seamus saw it as a low blow… the equal to a hit from behind.

“No! Of course, not!” Largros blew thick air from his nostrils.

“Okay both of you stop.” Gabriel could feel the beginnings of a migraine as he took a deep breath. “Right now, I think that we can agree that no decision pertaining to the damned incubus will be made until he is free to be part of such a decision. As it stands, we need to be sure he survives long enough to see said freedom. That means no more visits and also no stressing Inea.”

“Gabriel, that’s not what this is. I swear.” Largros’s eyes moved to the Councilor he was assigned to. “Sorry, I just… I wanted you to believe me. And I wanted to be the one to explain things to Inea.”

If Gabriel weren’t such a neat freak this would be the point where he shoved his sleeves up on his pristine suit in a visible show of growing frustration. Instead there was a deep breath taken in and exhaled as he looked between the two men.

“Seamus, Inea is too sick to help Dante right this moment. I sat there myself and watched Dante give what he could to her while Largros was there. If they’ve done more to him I’m sure she knows every bit of it now after this last visit. Just as I’m sure she felt Largros share energy again with him. If she wants to end this, I don’t think it will be right now – when it could cost her the incubus. I personally don’t want to deliver that news,  do either of you?”

“No. No I s’pose not.” Seamus cleared his throat and looked over at the boy.

“Now enough squabbling and let’s go see her so she knows everything instead of half ass guessing and worrying herself further. Seamus is that agreeable?” Gabriel wasn’t going to brush the Scott aside. He was respecting his position as Inea’s kindred. If he refused, Gabriel would have Largros leave with him. It was showing both men that time with Senias had been actually teaching the Councilor things about what it meant to be connected to a dragon in such a fashion.

“Ah, Gabe, I’m afraid she’s sleepin’. She may not be up before a few hours til the … what’s it? A trial?” Seamus was curious. He’d never gone up against the likes of Crimson or the Council, so he didn’t know a lot about it.  

“Judgement is what they call it, but a lot like a trial, yes.” Gabriel felt relieved in a way.

“Whatever ye tell me, it’ll be there in her psyche. It helps,” he looked over at Largros. “That bein’ said, how is it ye know it’s not the same thing? Not as important… what’s between you and that half-demon?”

“I feel that my heart has already found a primary match. I feel very much so,” Largros let his gaze move to Gabriel before finishing, “I asked her today if I might be forgiven my stupidity and she said that she would forgive me. She punished me, but that’s fine. I deserved it. And she knows about Dante, and because she’s in the same position as say – Seamus and Dante are for Inea – she’s allowing me that if it becomes something that happens now and again.”  Largros turned to Seamus then, a foot back and head slowly bowing, eyes forward on the Scot. “Please be sure Lady Inea knows I mean no harm in this. I want her to know that it is by her allowance alone that I make any advance. I only went to the cells today to help energize him. After all, he must last tonight and then to the next night.”

The stance was one not often taken by a dragon toward a kindred. However, Seamus recognized the circumstances to be appropriate. He nodded his head.

“Aye. Ye can stop with the arse kissin’ any time now, lad.” He held his hand out palm down and Largros placed his palm up beneath. Their fingertips barely brushed and the two were fine.

“Gabe!” Seamus looked to the young Kennedy and with smile. “Night’s comin’ on. I’m outta whiskey, boy. I know ye don’t drink the stuff, but have ye got any still around that big bitch of a house yer in?”  He chuckled. “And if there’s more ye need ta tell m’lady, go for it. I’m all ears. But we can be makin’ tracks to that whiskey as ye speak.”

“Then let’s get going. This trail isn’t easy in the light of day. little on as it gets darker and darker.” Since an understanding was reached, Gabriel relaxed as much as he would and turned towards the house. Slipping his hands into his pockets, he led the way “This won’t be an easy judgement. Is your dragon going to be up to it, or do I need to begin working on an alternative?” Gabriel didn’t want to risk the case or the dragoness in this matter.

“Well, from what she’s said, she just has ta be there ta confirm yer use of her magic and possibly to explain the magic used by Darius and herself – same as that would’ve been used by him and somebody else before him. Somebody he could control. That’s how this Petrard saw the pretty picture and how he travels on this realm without the banishment affecting him too much. Am I right on it?” Seamus asked as he walked with the both of them.

“Yes that’s pretty much it.”  While his bond with Sen was good, Gabriel was not certain it was as deep as Seamus and Inea’s seemed to be. He wondered if it ever would. He was silent a moment and it felt awkward with the dragon and kindred with him. He wondered who’d break it.

“Mind if I smoke?” Seamus asked.

Saved from his thoughts Gabriel cleared his throat, “Not at all, feel free to. There’s plenty of whiskey by the way and you may enjoy all you like. I’ll restock before Sen notices it’s gone.” He gave a small smile to both men.

Looking to Largros, Gabriel had to ask, “So she forgave you, punished you and said she understands you. Where does that take the two of you now? You know as long as she is living with Nathan and Rose you will be walking on pins and needles right?”

“I’ll take what they want to dish out, so long as it’s warranted. Isabel is an adult and can make her own decisions. And she’s not tied to the house she lives in.” Largros felt easy to answer Gabriel. After all, he had taken good advice from the man before.  

Seamus lit up. He listened for now, unsure where this was going. He needed more information about the situation before making a true ass of himself and adding to the flames.  

“Good plan except one tiny thing Largros.” Gabriel paused and looked at the dragon. His dark brow raised while he waited on the dragon to react. 

“If we are as good a match as I believe us to be, nothing could stop it anyway. She will be my kindred whether Uscias and his kindred want me or not,” Largros huffed a bit of air through his nose.

Seamus chuckled, but said nothing.

“That may be true, but Nathan is very protective of my Aunt’s children,  especially that one. Just don’t go in ready to challenge him over her. Instead prove to him and show him why you are such a good choice for her. Not to mention, win Rose over and you have a much better chance coming out with all scales intact and Isabel at your side.” Gabriel could give insight for this situation that Largros would not be getting from any other source. He was fairly certain Sen would let the dragon fall flat and laugh about it instead of assisting.

“True. I suppose I should look at the entire situation as if I were running a con. Get them to trust me and then take the mark. Only Isabel isn’t a mark… she’s the treasure.”  Largros smiled wickedly.

“Spoken like a true hustler, that,” Seamus chuckled while letting off a cloud of smoke.

“I never said I was a good guy in this romance novel. But I hope I can get the leading lady. If being nice and proper to her parents helps, I can do that. She’s worth my time and effort.”

With a grin Gabriel shook his head, “Just remember, through all of this, that she forgave you whatever you did and both parents will, too. But screw up again and hurt her and there is no guarantee that will happen twice.” They had started walking again.

“It wouldn’t happen twice. I know that. I know that look in my lady’s eyes. I’ll not be doing anything that would risk her love again. That’s the truth.” Largros moved a limb from the path they walked on for the other two. He was thinking about something.  

“So, if you have taken the kindred bond, what are your thoughts on allowing Senias to be with another – as many dragons are with multiple lovers?” Largros asked Kennedy.

“Be with another? I don’t think so..” Gabriel was honest as he answered the question put to him. “What does Isabel say about it?”

“Well, I asked her. I told her how I felt. I told her how I am… how most dragons are. Her father is an odd one for his kind. So she was able to make a decision based on knowing all of the facts, just as you mentioned before. I didn’t push her or force anything. It was her decision – both of them.”

“So she’s fine with you being with Dante?” Gabriel wanted clarification.

“She said as long as she is my primary concern in everything… she is fine with other interests.”

“Then you should feel very honored indeed. I, myself? I don’t think I could share mine.” Reaching the back patio area, Gabriel showed the men to the whiskey at the back bar. “When it comes to matters of the heart, keep your head on straight and you’ll be fine. Now drink up and enjoy while you can, gentlemen. No promises that your enjoyment won’t be interrupted.”

“Ain’t that the truth,” Seamus said. He grabbed the first few bottles to settle on the small bar overlooking the pool and patio area.  “Ye gonna be joinin’ us, Gabe? Seems like you’re on yer own otherwise anyway. The one you wouldn’t share off doin’ somethin’ else, now?”

“He was assigned to the vampire councilor, Sebastian Evansworth,” Largros supplied while grabbing a three highballs for Seamus to pour their drinks into.

“Oh, yeah. Not the best match, that.” Seamus muttered.

With a low chuckle of his, Gabriel shrugged, “I’m not much on whiskey, but I’ll keep you both company while you drink.” Taking a seat on the nearest bar stool he removed his jacket and relaxed a little more.

“So Senias has quite the reputation. How’s it he’s gonna be monogamous, now?” Largros asked very directly.

“He’ll manage if I am what he truly wants.” Gabriel watched the glasses get filled and didn’t go further as he wasn’t really one for discussing his sexual life with others.

Seamus looked over at Gabriel for a moment, this odd knowledgeable expression to him before he then poured them both double shots of bourbon. The kindred knew more than he was letting on. He just wondered if the welp would keep asking questions and making assumptions. He also wondered if Gabe would put things in perspective.

“Like Seamus said, Evansworth and Senias aren’t the best match. They’re ex-lovers, or so I’ve heard.” Largros looked between the two men. “That has got to be purposeful on Skinner’s part. You know, to rattle everyone involved.”  

Even though he had said that he didn’t care for whiskey, Gabriel found himself lifting one of the glasses to his lips to drink down. Seamus chuckled and continued pouring in the last glass as if he had known all along this would happen.

“Yes, he is assigned to Evansworth and yes it was to grate on nerves. I trust Sen, though. Until he proves unworthy of such trust, I’ll continue to do so.” Gabriel licked his lips as he felt the burn moved form his throat to his stomach. 

“No worries,” Seamus picked up the last filled glass for himself.  “Both our dragons have been monogamous in different places in their lives. And you’re right. If it is you that he wants after all this time, he’ll be so for you.” The Scot chuckled, “In’t like he could claim he hadn’t sowed them wild oats!” he busted out laughing.

“But Inea’s not monogamous, now?” Largros wasn’t sure how to ask the question.

“Aye. And that’s on me. My decision, there, welp. I fell in love with a human lass after being with Nea for on about two centuries. Wrap a mortal’s head around how long you wind up livin’ when yer bonded to a magical creature that’s damn near immortal. It ain’t easy, that’d be for damn sure. Anyways, yeah… she deserves ta have her incubus if I deserve ta have a human family now and again. Besides… makes her more manageable in some ways. But don’t neither of ya be tellin’ her I said that.”

While listening Gabriel stared down into the empty glass. There were good points being made on both sides right now. The conversation also brought a worry to the front of his thoughts that he hadn’t really put light to – until now. What if Largros was right and he alone wasn’t enough? Could he let Sen have another kindred? How fair was it to expect monogamy from one that was used to multiple lovers?

“Makes sense.  I know it’s difficult for me to imagine allowing Isabel to be with anyone else, but at the same time, fair is fair. If she needed something else to make her happy, I would allow it.” Largros took another drink but looked to Gabriel for anything.

Gabe knew he’d become too quiet for their liking as silence washed over and they stared at him.

“I don’t know what the future holds in store for us. I do know that right now he’s mine and I will keep him to myself for as long as possible and deal with the rest as its need.”

“I have ta warn ya, they still react to their natural urges. If his dragon mate goes inta heat and she decides ta have kitlings, and they get within vicinity of each other, there’s nothin’ stoppin’ ‘em. It’s nothin’ against you or me or the demon. I hope for the love of the gods you understand that. The vampire prick didn’t.”

“I say that I’ll deal with it, because I’m his kindred. But the way I see it, no one has the right to touch him without my consent. I may be new to this, but I do understand that much at least.” He lifted the newly filled shot in his glass and drank it down. He was already feeling that small bit of warmth through his body that was cautioning him that he’d had enough.

“Fair enough lad. But, I’ve been through it with them both and I can tell ya, there’s no better aphrodisiac than being bonded to a dragon that needs dragon lovin’.”  He chuckled and looked over at Largros, who was purposely busying himself on the cup in his hand. He hadn’t thought about that.

Gabriel watched Seamus fill his shot again and his mind wandered to Sen. What was he doing? Was he with Evansworth right now? Would it just take putting the former lovers together to rekindle what they’d had?

“If Isabel decides she was wrong and wants you to leave Dante alone will you? Could you never be with him for her?” Gabe asked very suddenly.

Largros looked up at Gabriel when he asked the question. Great. Now he was being put on the spot.

“Fair question, welp. Think about it.” Seamus waited for that answer as well.

Largros swirled the alcohol in his glass and nodded. His mouth went to the side a bit  and then he finished the rest of the liquor before setting the glass down. When Seamus tried to add more, he placed a hand over the top.  

“It would hurt. And therefore it would hurt her as well. And I would be angry at first. After all, there was an accord. But, I have not felt for another what I feel for Isabel – ever.” He actually looked at Gabriel now. “So, yes.  I could give him up for Isabel, if she so needed it. He might not be pleased, either, but he has Inea and both have Seamus to fall back on…”

“Oh, no… not me. he has Nea. I don’t coddle demons, boyo!” Seamus laughed and clapped Gabe on the shoulder with that one.

Gabe was glad he had put the glass back down.

“This isn’t about me, though. You’re asking the opinion of a dragon because of your dragon?” Largros asked Gabriel in his normal straight-forward fashion.

The Councilor shrugged.

“Senias is so much older and more experienced than me, though. I have to say, I’m not sure I could give you the answer you need and …” Largros sighed. He then thought of the words he needed. “I’m not sure my experience can give you much insight into what would happen if you told your dragon he could no longer have any relationship at all with Sebastian Evansworth. But if anything, they’ve been apart for centuries, now. That must mean something?”

“That vampire doesn’t share.”  Both men turned to look at Seamus, who has suddenly spoken while looking down into his glass. “He covets. He moves the chess pieces away from the king and like a roving queen on the board, he circles. He was the one that demanded Senias to not have anything outside of their bed – even though he was not a kindred. And when your dragon had had enough, he found my Nea again for the first time since the Darkening. They immediately mated – an act that should have been celebrated, for it brought forth a kitling, a child that is not something that happens often among dragonkind. Instead of being happy for the new life, Sebastian saw both the mate and soon-to-be kitling as an affront. He had wanted Sen as his Chosen – again… refusing anyone’s right to the dragon save his own. The vampire disappeared from the face of the world. Your dragon was distraught and felt guilt ridden, of that I’m sure. But I blame that vampire. Senias and Inea both enjoyed their human forms and all the sexual proclivity that gave them when they had the chance at adventures, and they did on the other side. But yer dragon was pretty taken with that vampire once he got back to this world or soon after. He didn’t start whoring around outside sharing lovers with Sebastian until the fang had left.” Seamus took another drink and then let his bright eyes look up at Gabriel. “Now, I’m sure the vampire has a totally different point of view than mine, lad. He’s due that. And if ye really want to know, get both sides of the story and decide for yeself. Don’t ask Inea about it. She doesn’t dwell on it. But it is what it is.”    

That was more than anyone else had told him so far about Senias’s life – including Senias. It had him silent as he contemplated the questions that were multiplying from just this much knowledge.

“Thing ta take from my bullshit? Your dragon is a loyal one when it comes ta matters such as ye say yer worried over. Matin’ makes kits is all. The relationship betwixt my dragon and your dragon wouldn’t change beyond their dragon selves, ye see. And Nea asked me about bein’ ready to have a kitling, cause it affects us kindred. We need ta help our dragons and their kits. I would think you could be part of the decision. But then, maybe that’s what Sebastian got in a snit about. Maybe Sen didnt ask. Maybe…” Seamus looked over to Largros. “…maybe he decided to apologize after the fact.”

Largros cleared his throat and nodded. “Lesson learned.”

“Maybe it is. I think when it comes to having kits, Sen has enough respect for me that he’ll talk to me first. We are still learning with each other, but that is something I feel certain about deep down.” Gabriel declined the next shot and chose instead to get a bottle of water from the cooler.

“Just be willing to forgive if he’s affected by the heat. He may not be as easily to move to a human set of schedules. I know I had to change my own expectations once I became a kindred and learned more about my dragon.”

“Besides I doubt either of us will be ready for children anytime soon.” Gabriel wasn’t worried about himself, he knew that children weren’t really something for him. “Children are messy, smelly, drooling little problems just waiting to explode. Dev and Eva have several and trust me I’ve had more than one suit ruined through the years.”

“But they’re made of love, Gabe. Don’t wait too long to have them.” Seamus put his own glass aside.

“The messes never matter much,” the dragon whispered. Largros smiled and let the far off look pop into his eyes again.

There was an odd expression on Gabriel’s face as he briefly glanced from one male to the other. Were they serious? He had a man for a partner, he was swamped with work and busy with business. None of those points made for a good home situation for a child. He didn’t voice all of that, though. Instead, he shrugged his shoulders and was about ready to call it a night. He wouldn’t leave his guests to drink alone so he moved to one of the patio chairs to take a seat.

“What are your plans after all this matter is cleared up? If you’d like to continue as Tasker I can make arrangements for that.” Gabriel would hopefully have Sen back as his Tasker which would leave Largros without a Councilor to task for. He knew of at least two Councilors who needed Taskers of their own and he thought Largros would fit either one really well if he so desired. Or…if ‘Raudine’ could not Task for Gabriel, he wouldn’t mind keeping Largros. 

“I will need to take a leave of absence after all of this. I plan to introduce my kitling to her true home for the first time. She is a yearling and has never smelled the Siberian winds.” he swirled his drink  before looking to Gabriel. “I also hope that Isabel will be ready to take the next step soon. I want to take her as well.”

“Kitling.. I didn’t know you had one already.” It was a bit of a surprise to him if to no one else. “Well congratulations and I’m sure that Isabel is more ready than you know.”

“I’m still going to take your advice on her. I had been keeping my life with her separate from my dragon life. Since she has shown to be accepting of me and who I am, I’m going to need the time you and Crimson give me to convince Kyliar to allow Isabel to know our kitling. I can’t continue to keep my lives apart. Isabel should know all of me.”

“Why would you keep any of it from Izzy?” Gabriel was thinking over the idea of two separate lives. Why would it need to be so separate? Weren’t kindred supposed to be involved in all aspects of their dragons lives?

“It’s been Largros’ clan’s stance that humans should not be trusted,” Seamus explained, realizing where Gabriel’s thoughts might be going.

“Some won’t even shift,” Largros added.

“Really?” Gabriel found that odd. To think that Sen could decide not to shift any more seemed too awkward to even truly fathom. “Have they not seen that times have changed? There are no more monster hunts except for those conducted for TV and those are CGI and special effects.”

“If you’re researching all of the instances of dragons being killed because of the blacklisting, you need to dig deep and dig more recently than the cases used to make the original decision. I lost two clan members just 5 years previous. You may think the danger is not real, but we know it to be so. You’re human, Gabriel. No one sees you as a threat.”

“Well then,” Gabriel smirked and raised his water bottle in a toast to Seamus and Largros, “They would be wrong.”

 

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