After they we cleared at the main entrance to the estate, Gabriel unbuckled his seatbelt and slid across the seat to be closer to Sen. Moving his hand along the back of Sen’s neck, Gabriel put his mouth close to the man’s ear and answered the previous question. “I want to be dominated.” The one thing that none of his lovers had ever accomplished was dominating him. The two that had topped him had been heat of the moment decisions. That wasn’t what Gabriel was talking about. He had to maintain such tight control on his life because of his name and his position that he just wanted to relinquish that control just once to someone strong enough and trustworthy enough to not fail him.

“Then it’s what you’ll get. But first…are there limitations on that?” Senias asked as he continued to drive toward the side round about where the cars were parked and it was normal for people to come in and out. The front of the house was beautiful, had a huge porch and would remind people of old plantation mansions, but it wasn’t often used.   

“Limitations? Like what exactly?”

Turning the truck off, he looked at Gabriel, his fingers tracing along the man’s jawline. Since their first shared encounter, Senias had waited for the proper time to have things happen appropriately.  Their first enjoyment of one another had been wild and though fulfilling – not what either of them probably had envisioned. He wanted to continue with Gabriel, but he wanted to make it right.

“If I am to be your dominant, Gabriel, I need to know your limitations to begin with. And also, I need to know what word or symbol you want to use to tell me if you want me to stop something I’m trying with you. I want to challenge you, but I don’t want you to ever regret your time with me.”  

Gabriel listened and watched Sen. “I don’t think I’d like anything really.. painful and, um… not sure about being confined. Or is it called restrained? I’ve never tried anything like this so you’ll have to forgive me for not understanding.” When Sen kept looking at him, Gabriel realized he’d not answered the rest, “Oh um.. Red? It means stop, right? So can I use red?”

“Absolutely.” He took the keys from the truck and opened the door to meet Gabriel on the other side. Seeing the confused look on the man’s face, he shrugged.  

“When your family first built this place, they made sure to include lair areas on the grounds to be sure their dragons were comfortable staying here as needed. You remember,  I have lairs all over, you’ve been to my tru lair, the one in town, there’s one in France, one on the other side on the Weylyn Packlands, and the one here beneath the ground, reachable from your home.”  

“You portal to your lair that is beneath this house? Because I’ve not seen you use the entrance save the one time…” Gabriel asked as he walked with Sen to the door that led inside. He wanted to hear more about the lair and what Sen was capable of. “What else don’t most people know about this place?”

Senias’ eyes moved over Gabriel.  Then, he looked out from where they stood, to the sky.  “There are powerful spells of protection and illusion over your estate. If you ever wondered why none of the Councilors voluntarily came out here, that’s why. Only the lycan and a draconic would feel comfortable here right now. If you were to focus on your own abilities, those passed down to you over the generations? You would be able to see,” he moved his hand and fingers up to trace what the sky looked like to him. “…colors from the various magics used on this place make it difficult to see the starlight.”  

Looking up towards the sky Gabriel tried to envision what he was talking about, but only saw the night sky with it’s stars and moon. Nothing out of the ordinary there. “I don’t see anything unusual.”

He turned back to Gabriel. “I can’t see it like this. I have to be drunk or at least tipsy. The alcohol seems to open my control just enough that my magical abilities kick in better while in this form. So my being drunk so often actually has a practical purpose. Right now, I see only stars and the sliver of the moon. But I can feel the magic. It’s there. And it keeps people from the mundane world from seeing anything on this land other than forests and fields. That’s why the pack don’t fear shifting on your land. It’s why there have been times I will allow my true form to roam here. No satellites can pick us up.”  They continued to the side door, but the dragon stopped in his leading. He looked over his shoulder at a confused Gabriel.

Senias stepped closer to Gabriel and then moved behind him. He placed his right hand over Gabriel’s, their fingers nearly entwined, but not-so. He whispered in the other man’s ear as they stood so close.

“Sen, what are you..” Gabriel’s breath was a little shaky.

“Breathe. Quiet your thoughts. Think of it as if it were meditation. Feel the energy begin to move through me to my hand. For that’s how dragons make small portals. We need an archway or a physical structure for these lesser portals. I’m going to use your doorway here.”  His left arm slid around Gabriel’s waist, his hand at the beltline, placed so he could feel Gabriel’s exhales and inhales.

The energy flow was something Gabriel had never experienced before. He breathed in and out while calming his mind. It wasn’t easy to not let his mind over take the moment, he was so excited. But with a nod and closing his eyes for just enough inhales and exhale to calm himself,  he was able to settle into that meditative state. He felt the tickle of the energy as it moved through him. He even felt himself drift a little with the sensation.

“Watch the center. Focus. But don’t fall into it,” the draconic man whispered. Soon, their joined hands moved to aim at the area Sen had pointed out.  Gabriel could feel the crackling energy being drawn from the air around them and small motes of light flashed here and there, as if they were walking through sheets full of static electricity.  But the energy went from the air to the man’s body and to his hand. “Now, I decide where I want the portal to open to. I keep that scene in my mind as I move the energy.”

When their hands were lit with the energy, Senias fully spread his digits and the release hit the center of the closed doorway.  The air became misty and the crackling spread from that center. Soon, there was a clockwise formation of the energy, which looked much like the fog of a fog-machine left going for too long at Halloween. The mist was a cool blue color and the motes of flashing light wove through it.

“It’s ready.” Senias loosened his hold on Gabriel so that his lover could move freely and investigate and experience this himself.  It was a learning experience that had fallen by the wayside thanks to their circumstances.

Gabriel’s hand reached out to trace over the misty formation without actually touching it. He felt the static snap at his fingertips when he got too close and there was a small chuckle at the sensation. He was so fascinated by it that he forgot Sen was right there with him for a moment. His mind whirled with so many ways and reasons this was possible. “Energy.. Fields.. It’s..” He looked back at Sen; that look of wonder still on his face. “This is amazing when you actually feel it, Senias.”

“I suppose. For me, it’s nothing.”

“Where does it go?” Gabriel wondered and yet somehow he knew. “To your lair here?” He turned and took a deep breath before stepping through without waiting for his lovers answer.

“Uh…” Sen cringed just a bit, because he hadn’t expected Gabriel to just throw caution to the wind like that! He walked slowly through, unsure what he’d find and unwilling to trip over Gabriel … but then, he did just that.

Gabriel stepped through to slip on and fall forward onto the floor. The place was pitch black except for the glowing light behind him from the portal. There was the sound of water lapping at a shore nearby. The feel of metal was beneath him, smooth and cold and the shimmering reflective quality of the floor told him that his guess had been correct. He was actually on the aurumn.

Then, “Gabe?” Sen’s voice could be heard but as if it were muffled and then he felt the man’s foot on his calf and down the so-called Frenchman went, catching himself just over Gabriel. Things changed once Senias entered his own lair. First, the torches that lined the walls lit up magically.  The place was decorated on one side splendidly from many ages of furniture styles – all appointed for human meandering. They were lying on a full sheet of metal; gold. The portal dissipated and the metal began to warm as soon as Senias touched it. He looked into Gabriel’s eyes and couldn’t help but growl before taking the man’s mouth with his own. The energy he felt coming from the gold couldn’t be ignored. He’d need to grab hold of himself or Gabriel would be without clothes before he could even get a question out.

Would that be so bad?  

Returning the kiss, Gabriel’s hands were tugging at the bottom of Sen’s shirt to get the thing up and off of him. He wanted to feel the bare skin with it’s soft wiry curls that spread across his chest and abdomen. Sen obliged easily enough, helping remove another barrier. As the cold metal beneath him began to soften and warm, Gabriel found himself sinking in it and pressed a hand against Sen’s chest to push him back a little. The kiss was forced to end and breathlessly Gabriel asked, “Why am I.. sinking in the floor?”

Senias huffed a bit humorously when the question came up.  Gabriel had a lot to learn.

“It won’t stick. It’s my aurumn. Where I have lain over the years builds up a layer of soft metal – your world calls it gold.  My people call it ahhhhrrrrUM. It’s necessary to keep our scales from being damaged and when we have young to care for, it acts as a nest. It contains a good portion of energy and can revitalize us or help to feed our young energy. Don’t worry, it’s only a few inches deep. I won’t lose you in it.”  He moved back to taste Gabriel’s neck. He had a feeling the man was making a list of a thousand or more questions in that head of his.

There was a low groan that cut off any further questions for the moment as Sen’s mouth moved along the skin of his neck. His fingers moved over the heated skin of his lovers shoulders and upper arms. His heart beat a little faster as he really wanted to feel and taste Sen so much more, but his mind was also spinning with questions. Even as Sen’s mouth worked it’s way from his neck to his collarbone, Gabriel’s head turned to the side and his eyes moved over the interior of the lair. He felt Sen’s hands at his clothes and he grinned as he looked back at him.

The draconic male undid Gabriel’s buttons and pushed open the shirt so he could lick over the beautiful expanse of chest in front of him. However, he got the odd feeling that his lover wasn’t 100% into the moment. Settling on his hands, he pushed upward to look down at Gabe.

“Are you still…”

“No, I want this and I want you.. I was just distracted by all of this. It’s old hat to you but not me. The time I came here before. There were a million other things happening and I didn’t get to really take things in.” Gabriel chuckled and moved his hands to Sen’s hips to hold him in place.

Sen closed his eyes and his length hardened just a bit more from the electrical touch of his body being held against Gabriel’s.  He growled.

“You know, if you want to be dominated, you have to learn how to stop trying to take control,” the dragon leaned forward when he felt Gabriel let go of his hips and he kissed the man deeply before rolling off of him.  He was at the edge of the aurumn, and then raised his hands to increase the light of the chamber. “Get up.” He then moved out of the warm metal and to the floor. He kicked off his shoes and pulled off his socks before moving around.

“Um…okay, but I thought..” Gabriel pointed from himself to Sen and then to the bed of gold, no the aurumn. With a huge sigh Gabriel made his way to the edge and climbed to his feet. He was again amazed that the metal hadn’t clung to him at all. But then, when they were at Sen’s true lair, it had felt more like a mattress made of that foamy material, hadn’t it? His attention was quickly moving around the place again as he walked with Sen through the cavern.

“You wanted to see it. Look at it,” Senias voice was beckoningly soft and he moved to encourage Gabriel to do so.

The golden floor covered half of the cavernous chamber. There were stone and concrete shaped steps that led at the foot of this area upward to something unseen.  To the other side the walls had been covered by art and tapestries from who knew when. The furniture was settled as a living area, but with furnishings from all sorts of design eras. It would probably give Gabriel a headache until he could rearrange it by style properly.  Then there was a huge four poster bed with curtains, a side table on one side and a chair on the other. Beyond this was what looked to be a cut-out section into the far wall with a large screen made of carved wood, behind which was the bathroom and changing wardrobe and mirrors.  The last quarter of the room was a nearly still, shimmering pool of water. The entire place was as large as two basketball courts put together, that was for sure. Though the place seemed like it would be drafty and cold, the air was warm and inviting.

With his mind cataloging and memorizing layouts and items, Gabriel almost ran into Sen. “It’s a museum curator’s dream and a decorator’s nightmare all in one.” He spoke low as he moved his hand over the bed side table.

“I’m not finished.” He said it just as Gabriel had started to move. Senias had a very serious look on his face. If Gabriel wanted to be dominated, his lover was willing to oblige.  “Take off your shirt. Then, your shoes and belt and pants.” He waited and watched from where he moved back into the metal. “Then come back into the aurumn with me.”

Gabriel’s hands moved to his shirt to finish with the buttons that Sen had left fastened. Folding it he laid it over the back of the chair, removed his shoes to place them under it and then stripped away his pants to fold and join with the shirt. He moved back to the aurumn and stepped into it to join Sen as he’d been instructed to. Gabriel wanted to show Sen that he could listen and obey when he wanted to.

“Take off my pants.”  Senias waited to see what would happen.  He had no underwear on and previously that had proven to be too much of a temptation to his lover.

As commanded Gabriel knelt and unfastened Sen’s pants. He eased them off his lovers hips and slid them down his legs, enjoying the feel of the hair against his palms as he did so.

“Ahhh…ah…I said take off my pants. I didn’t say touch me.” Senias grabbed Gabriel by the hair of the back of his head and pulled him into a slightly uncomfortable leaning position. “Normally a submissive would be punished for not doing what they were told, but you said you don’t like anything painful. So… what shall I do with you for punishment?” The fingers of his free hand moved up and down Gabriel’s arched chest and then he smiled. “Hmmmm… maybe a compromise?” he left his fingers play over one of Gabriel’s hard nipples. His eyes didn’t leave Gabriel’s eyes.  Then, he squeezed the nipple he’d been playing with, letting his nail on one finger push into the flesh just enough to elicit a response.

Sucking in a quick, sharp breath Gabriel had to bite his bottom lip to stifle any further noises. His shaft throbbed and pulses in his boxers though and he couldn’t hide that.

Letting Gabriel go, Senias stepped out of the already dropped garments and told him, “Put them out of the aurumn along with your own. We are to be completely nude in this moment.”

Gabriel had to catch his breath as he moved to gather up the clothing. He moved off the aurumn on still shakey legs and folded the pieces to lay with his on the back of the chair. He removed his boxers then to lay them with the rest before returning to the bed of gold.

“No… stop there. I want to look at you.” Senias had stopped Gabriel in the middle of the pool of golden metal. He began walking around the man, letting his eyes feast on the perfect male body before him. The aurumn at Gabriel’s feet began to climb here and there, then slide downward again off of each leg.

Unsure what was to come next Gabriel held perfectly still as Sen walked around him. He felt as if he were being inspected and suddenly knew what race horses felt like on race day. “Like what you see?” He just couldn’t resist.

“I do. But I didn’t tell you to speak,” Senias said as he came back into view. His hand slapped Gabriel’s ass hard, the sound echoing through the lair.  

With a grunt Gabriel felt the sting to his backside.

“You said no pain. But as you can see and feel, there are some pains that are also woven with a certain kind of pleasure.” Sen’s hand caressed the flesh he had just slapped. The nerve endings were now at attention – so too was Gabriel’s cock.  “I’ll not cause pain for the sake of pain, but since you’re more vanilla than I am, let’s make this agreement. If you step out of line with me when we are in these moments and you are giving yourself to me, I will punish you. If the sensation does not come with pleasure or you ever have a negative mental reaction to my punishment – say your word… what was it again?” Sen knew it was the color word RED, but he wanted to be sure Gabriel was able to say it.  

The more Sen caressed his ass the more it seemed the burn set in. He was so hard that he wasn’t sure he could get any harder. Swallowing hard he gave a tense response of “Red.. it’s red..”

“Very good. You deserve a reward for that, love.  Taste the sweet and salty treat you’ve brought forth in me, just by existing in my presence.” Senias moved back from Gabriel and waited for his lover to do as he was told.  

Dropping to his knees Gabriel looked up at his lover as he let his tongue stick out and run up the underside of his jutting cock to gather what was gathering at the tip. It was a salty flavor and yet one that he delighted in. Without touching his lover otherwise, Gabriel leaned to take the tip into his mouth and sucked upon it as he worked his way down the length as far as he could.

“Mmmmmm… good…” Senias placed fingertips to either side of Gabriel’s jaws to urge the man back off of him.  

Once he was free, the dragon picked Gabriel up by his hands. Then, when Gabriel was least prepared for anything, Senias turned him around in a swift movement, and pushed him forward. He would have slipped. He would have fallen. His reaction spoke of expecting this. Instead, the aurumn built itself up as the dragon commanded and Gabriel found himself pressed into the warm liquid. It caressed his body and moved him downward to meld into a perfect support mount.  His legs were pulled apart slightly, leaving him open to whatever the dominant male wanted to do.

“Do you need anything? Or are you comfortable?” Senias asked, his fingernails moving from the back of Gabriel’s scrotum up to his taint and further to press and circle the tight bundle of muscles in the nether region.  “I’ll only ask once.” His fingers moved this circuit over and over again while waiting on Gabriel’s response.

It had all happened so fast that Gabriel was barely catching his breath when he heard Sen’s questions and feeling the intimates touches in sensitive places. His back stiffened for just an instant out of reaction and he looked over his shoulder at his lover. “Right here and now? Just good lubricant.” His body shivered a little just out of response to the repeated touches.

“Easy enough.” Senias let his fingers move slowly along the ridges of Gabriel’s pucker, the whispers of a spell moving from his lips. Soon, the skin was creating its own flow of lubricant, something from Gabriel’s own body would keep reactions from happening. And the pulsing sensation of the magic moving into his lover would only act to excite the man more and more.

“By the way,” Sen said as he leaned in close to Gabriel’s ear.  “Don’t come until I tell you to.”

He moved behind Gabriel and let the aurumn move around him to help cushion his body so that he was at the perfect height for taking his submissive lover.

There was a deep groan as he felt himself entered. His forehead pressed against the warm metal and breathed in as his body was stretched and worked. His eyes closed and he focused on the feelings that Sen brought out in him.

Senias pushed forward until he could take no more. He let his body rest atop Gabriel’s back and his fingers moved to Gabriel’s hips. They had been together before, and those times had been wild and enjoyable, but both had given and taken.  This would be very different from that. Moving those fingers up Gabriel’s sides, Senias searched every crevice and crease while he undulated his hips, moving his shaft inside Gabriel and stretching the man a bit further with each rounded pump at the end. Like this, a slow, sensual rhythm was created.

This continued for at least fifteen minutes. Honestly, Sen didn’t give a damn about the time. He just liked bringing Gabriel to the brink, knowing what his order was.  When he felt Gabriel close, he stopped the movement finally and instead grasped Gabriel’s shoulders with his hands and with a deep guttural sound, he buried his shaft as far as he could push his body into that sweet ass. There, he pumped roughly in the same three inch space, in and out so that he rubbed that bundle of nerves with the middle of his swollen shaft over and over again. Gabriel was stretched and now had the other sensation to deal with and thus far, he had kept from coming. Senias was impressed.

So many different pleasures at once was almost his undoing. Gabriel was breathing hard and every time Sen moved over those sensitive nerves it was like lightning jolting through his body. His head jerked back and he groaned while biting his lip hard to ward off his own climax. He tasted copper from biting down so hard, but that didn’t stop him from doing it. Curling his fingers into the warm soft gold Gabriel could feel the sweat beading on his face and also his shoulders, where it trickled down his spine to his lower back. Every time Sen moved within him, Gabriel swore that he saw stars. He wasn’t sure how much more he’d be able to take.

~ “Come for me, now!” ~ the dragon growled loudly. Sen thrust forward one last time, his body falling forward so that he was flush with Gabriel’s sweat-drenched skin. At Gabriel’s shoulder he bit down out of instinct, holding the man in place as he pushed his seed deep.  

When Gabriel’s release hit him it was hard and was on the brink of painful. Right in the middle of it came the stinging pain of the bite to his shoulder that both shocked him and made his body spasm even harder. The first thought that came to his mind was RED, but he couldn’t form the word and by the time he thought he could the pain was gone. His fingers were curled tightly in the aurumn and his heart was chaotically racing – as was his breathing.

Feeling the pulsating from Gabriel and the barely contained thrusting his lover’s body was doing against the pliable, silk gold material, only magnified his own climax.  The taste of copper was the only thing that brought him out of this haze. And that, only to kiss and lick the small wound made with one set of his canines. He groaned as his shaft hardened from Gabriel’s movements once again.

The haze that hit him now did not simply encompass the orgasm and the space of one who has reached the perfect plane of pleasure. It was a connection made – whether purposefully, fatefully, or accidentally – that was beginning to be forged between their souls. It had begun the second time they were together, but only lightly. And then the third, in France had sealed their souls all the more. When Sen had taken him to his true lair, that had been the symbolic bonding, showing his trust to the man. This? This was somewhat Gabriel’s half of that. They were beneath his own home and he was trusting Senias with everything. He was open to the dragon, both physically and mentally right now.   

Senias slowly began moving his body into Gabriel again. His mouth kissing his lover’s back, a purring sound similar to the one Gabriel had first heard from him while he was in his dragon form came from his chest.  

His body was still on the high from the release and still sensitive from the mix of pain and pleasure he’d gotten since they’d entered the lair. So when Sen’s mouth touched his back and his hands worked his skin, Gabriel felt as if he’d jump right out of it. He’d never experienced an over sensitized state so it was definitely something he needed to learn from. That rumbly sound was the only thing that kept Gabriel from jolting with every touch. Fuck why was this… happening?!

It had been the thing that he imagined Gabriel had forgotten, lost in the enjoyment of being dominated. It was the natural course for the dragon, and something he was happy to welcome as a need and desire from his lover. But how Gabe felt about the next thing Senias wanted to experience with him – he’d have to see.  He let his body and soul guide him now.

He moved back, slowly, very slowly exiting Gabriel. Because he was still hard, he knew to be gentle. A trail of tender kisses and caresses and massaging from his strong hands made their way down Gabriel’s back.  When he had come far enough, Sen made one final pull and his cock was finally released by his lover’s muscles.

He turned his lover over with the help of the aurumn, the metal still being controlled mentally. Pulling Gabriel to him, he held the man with delicate touch, and let his lips touch the flushed, fevered skin of his face. Cheeks, chin, lips, again and then pulling the man closer, he kissed his forehead, sending the sensation through Gabriel’s third eye so that his entire body shivered in response.

His whole body shivered and he gasped as he felt so much energy move through him right then. Gabriel felt his body ease back into the aurumn and as that sensation rippled through him, Sen repositioned him drawing a gasp from him in response. Never in his life had he ever felt anything like this!

As Gabriel lay panting before him, Senias pressed forward, re-entering the man, this time face to face with him. The act was much more gentle, almost calm. At first he had claimed him as the dominant – something that was needed. And now, he would make love to him, a silent promise between them being created. Senias couldn’t stop looking into Gabriel’s beautiful brown eyes.  Sen’s hitched breaths told Gabriel how difficult it was for the draconic man to hold off. But he wanted Gabriel to understand why so much had to be done. Moving up to his knees, freed his hands to begin roaming his lover’s body, the skin barely touching Gabriel’s sensitized skin to elicit the most ecstatic response he could. Without noticing, Senias’ hands began to glow a soft blue hue much the same color as the portal magic he drew upon.

Gabriel’s ab muscles tightened and his newly refreshed cock was hard and bouncing against his stomach with every slow, gentle thrust. He could feel the tension in his lover and knew it was him holding back. Gabriel was actually thankful for that control right then. As Sen’s hands glowed, Gabriel watched where he was touched and couldn’t hold back the soft groans, deep moans and shuddery gasps that were pulled from him. Licking his bruised lips Gabriel’s head tossed to the side as his pleasure built along with the pressure that seemed to form in his guts and chest. He felt like he couldn’t breathe and yet he didn’t want Sen to stop.

He laid forward, the aurumn adjusting to his desires to make them a soft, pliable bedding. Now his body moved against Gabriel’s, the man’s cock caught between them.  He kissed Gabriel’s jaw and pushed in to speak at his ear. “I told you, I wanted to make love to you. And when we make love, we’re equal. This time, come with me?” His body was ready. He honestly wasn’t sure how much longer he could last in this state.   But he’d do whatever he could to be sure Gabriel was pleased right along with him.

The first thing Gabe did, once he had permission that they were equals now, was to grasp Sen’s hips as he moved within him. Then his hands slid up to rest on Sen’s shoulder blades as he sought out his lovers lips for a kiss. His breaths were shaky as he kissed Sen and moved with him. When Sen hit that perfect spot again, Gabriel didn’t hold back as his fingers clutched at Sen’s back and he spilled himself between their pressed bodies. His hips rocked with the spasms and he cried out against his lover’s mouth as he felt Sen join him while pressed deep within.

The moment was beyond what he had experienced with anyone else. And Senias had had a very long life with so many lovers that he doubted he could ever get the count right.  This experience? Making love to Gabriel Kennedy? It had topped them all. He felt the pleasure, sure. But the affection and tranquility after the fact was part of the experience. Senias nuzzled Gabriel’s cheek and slid his upper body partially down into the metal bed, his head on Gabriel’s shoulder as he recovered. His arm was still over Gabriel, his lower body still on top, the dragon was close to falling asleep.  ~ I love you, ~ his mind whispered to Gabriel.

He heard the mentally spoken words and smiled as he returned them.

“And, I love you, Senias of Morias.”  

“Was that dominant enough for you?” he moved to an elbow on his side. “Do you need anything?” He moved his hands over Gabriel’s skin lovingly, showing his now submissive lover that he was willing to care for his every need.

Still flushed from love making, Gabriel smiled, “Yes it was and no I don’t. Sleep should do us both wonders I think.”

Instinct had Senias move so he could put arms around Gabriel protectively. He settled back to close his eyes and drift off to sleep with Gabe in his arms. Gabriel soon did the same.

 

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

 

When he woke, Gabriel eased from Sen and the aurumn so as not to awaken the dragon. He moved to the water. It was clean and clear, but dark due to the depth further in and the steps that led into it were made of riverbed gravel and rounded stone molded into concrete. The pool was at least 50 feet across and 30 feet wide give or take. He needed to wash up as it was near impossible for him to sleep when not clean. Still tender in several places which included his shoulder area, Gabriel drew in a slow breath and scooped cool water to pour over himself. His fingers touched on the bite mark and bruise and he grit his teeth at the quick pang that went through him. Of the many things that he had expected from Sen, Gabriel had to admit, being bitten wasn’t one of them. But he just couldn’t find it in himself to be angry at that. He’d been warned about instinctual behavior, hadn’t he? A grin flitted across his features as he thought on it. He kind of likened it to a badge of honor. He belonged to someone in a way that he wanted to belong to someone. He smiled.

Once cleaned, Gabriel pulled his pants on and decided to explore Sen’s lair since he couldn’t sleep any longer. His watch told him they’d at least slept two hours which was a normal for him on restless nights, but he kept his prowling quiet so Sen could get more rest. It was amazing the things he found! And Gabriel, being himself, started organizing without thought simply out of habit. When Sen did wake it would be to somewhat organized mess instead of total chaos. Even the sitting area Sen had created now matched the same era instead of mixed periods. The bed was neatly made with clean bedding and linen too.

The draconic man let off a nice long yawn, stretching his arms out and arching his back before he sighed and put an arm across his waist. Wait. Something wasn’t right. For one thing, Gabriel wasn’t there. For another… someone was moving his stuff. He could feel it like an itch that he couldn’t quite scratch on his back. He was up with a scampering speed to the side of the golden bed and looking around at the room.

“What the…” everything was so – organized? He had examples of every fashion era he liked in his living space. But now they were all… in order? Separate? Looking for the culprit, he moved steadily around his lair.

With earbuds in place Gabriel was crouched down studying several ceramic pieces in nothing but his wrinkled slacks while listening to classical. The unblemished stretch of spine was curved from his position and his tan, unmarred skin held the sheen of a fine sweat to give attestation to the fact that he’d been at this for a while.

This was his passion. This was how the stern Gabriel Kennedy enjoyed his free time when he was able to have it. He liked puzzles and history, riddles and the unknown. For the Councilor or the businessman – the answer was always right in front of your eyes, one just had to unravel the puzzle to get it. Having lovingly laid each piece on the large oriental rug, Gabriel was now in the process of dating them without realizing he was being watched.

Senias first saw the change of seating and the desk and rearrangement of the second desk and wardrobe, before he saw the bed. The bed was made?  Well – now that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Especially considering the rich fabric that had been used. He liked it. Moving to the wardrobe, he was able to catch a glimpse of Gabriel crouched down in front of some of the urns and ceramic animals he had collected. Sen grabbed the first pair of drawers he could lay hands on and then a pair of stretchy jeans he liked to wear.  Soon, he was making his way over to the other male.

Tapping Gabriel on the shoulder, he took a step back with his hands on his hips, trying to look irritated and not amused.

Gabriel looked back and up as he tugged the ear pieces out. “Oh, um hello.”

“You know I had them juxtaposed already. I like the idea of sitting in a true Victorian Gothic Chair while looking over and seeing the Jacobean style or the Colonial. Which, isn’t as plain as a lot of people think it should be in the revival. So, why did you put them in order?”  

Finally rising to stand straight, Gabriel stretched his arms above his head, arched his back and groaned as it popped several times. Gabriel had to admit that he was impressed how well Sen knew the differences between the eras. “I can’t help myself. Clutter and disorganized mess drives me crazy until I straighten and make sense of it.” Rolling the earphones into a neat coil he tucked them into his pocket, “OCD,” Gabriel looked less than happy at saying it out loud. “Obssessive Complusive Disorder is what Samantha and Eva call it. Being a neat freak is what Derek calls it and getting bored when I can’t sleep is what Devon calls it.”

“So…” Sen scratched the back of his head, while trying to think of the best way to respond. It wasn’t as if his life would be altered by these changes, right? He just had to get used to this. “You rearrange furniture as if a place is a museum and have a room for each era?” Senias asked. But then immediately pointed out, “I only have the one big room, really…”

Glancing around Gabriel sighed as he wiped his face with his forearm, “Well if it bothers you that much I’ll put your mess back.” He started picking up the ceramics and carrying them back to where he’d found them. He’d over stepped himself and he could accept that. But he couldn’t stay long down here like it was and he surely couldn’t sleep in it.

“Wait!” Senias chewed on his lower lip before picking up one of the urns and turning it to look it over. “The furniture I can live with. Maybe it’s time for a change?” His hazel eyes found those of his lover. “But these have a history that you don’t know about, yet.  Maybe I should tell you that before you decide where to separate them to?” It was a step. He could take steps. Otherwise, what kind of hypocrite did it make him to tell Gabriel that he had a stick up his ass?

Pausing where he was, Gabriel looked back at his dragon, “I’m listening.” He took a seat in one of the Victorian chairs and held the other urn in his hands. It was Greecian and like many from the same time period this one held what he assumed to be one of the stories pertaining to one of their Gods or Goddess’.

“That one doesn’t actually belong to me. Or… well it only partially belongs to me. It’s a friend’s urn, Inea’s – from a human life lived among the Greeks and Romans.” Senias placed the urn he had, which was much more nondescript than the one Gabriel had on the table in front of the chair before taking a seat himself.  “This one is from a pre-Iron Age tribe that settled in the Northern Island. Ireland. You’ll find it matches many found in the Northern areas of Europe scattered about. This one is sealed. The one you have is as well, though you may not have noticed it. It’s got a waxy coating over the plug that is at the very base of the neck.”  

“Are they all important other than in, their age?” Gabriel wasn’t sure what to think.

“Oh, the other pieces each mean something to me. I can explain them, but these two are most important. They are what you might refer to as cremation urns.”  Sen sat forward. “The image on the one you’re holding is a scene of Aurora bringing forth the morning.” he looked up at Gabriel. “But you probably already knew that.”  

With one finger Gabriel traced the wax seal on the urn he held as he closed his eyes a moment out of respect. Clearing his throat he gave just a small grin to Sen in response. “I knew it was from the Greek pantheon but hadn’t gotten a chance to really take heed of the design enough to know it was Aurora.”

“Is it family?” Gabriel asked softly as he looked the design over abit more closely this time.

“I…have been accused of being more human or lycan than dragon.” Sen’s eyes were on the urn, not Gabriel. He was actually having a difficult time for once.  “I shouldn’t mourn, because I know our kind return to the stars. We are made up of magical energy and so when we die not much is left, you see. Our,” he stroked his throat as indication, “Our bellows will explode, a chemical reaction ignites, and our bodies are fully engulfed.”  When he looked up from the urn, there was a bit of moisture in his eyes. “Aurora was my second child. She didn’t make it in this world very long. She was what Crimson refers to as an abomination…not meant to be born. And in that day and age, perhaps the second portion of that was correct.”  

“Dannae,” He placed his hand upon the other urn, “Was my kitling. It’s what dragons call their young before their third molt. She was killed in the Dark Times, when the church began turning our pagan, human friends against us.”  Senias took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, if I’m repeating things you already know. I lose track sometimes of who I’ve told what.”

Gabriel shook his head, his eyes telling Senias that he shouldn’t apologize for that.

“Derek says I hold on too much to the past. Devon and Eva want me to bring them to their Great Oak. I feel like… I owe their memory something more before I can do that. So, I’ve kept some of their ashes with me.”

Rising from his seat Gabriel carefully set the precious urn in the warmed cushion and holding one hand up he vanished from sight into the back of the lair. The sound of him shifting things around could be heard and then he returned with a small end table that he placed between the two chairs so that it was out of harm’s way. Using his discarded shirt Gabriel cleaned the top until it actually shined. He then placed Aurora’s urn upon it to the left followed by a single candle in the middle of the table. Moving to take Dannae’s urn carefully from Sen’s hands, Gabriel placed it upon the table to the right before stepping back to stand beside his lover.

“What are you waiting for?” Gabriel asked, though he was pretty sure he already knew the answer.

“For when we’re no longer hunted freely. I avenged their deaths, but I still cannot bring another into this world without it being in mortal danger and Crimson would be helping in the hunt, not stopping it…so…”he watched Gabriel’s every move.

“There, now they are out of danger’s way and you may see them and know they are safe. When you’re ready, they can be taken to the oak. I promise, that day is soon to come, Senias.” Gabriel gave a small smile as he squeezed Sen’s hand before he moved to gather his clothes.

“Where’re you going?” Sen asked. Gabriel had made him feel better about this and just the fact that he had shared this much was a minor miracle. The draconic man wasn’t quite ready to part.

“I thought that with all of this you’d be ready for me to leave.” It was how Gabriel was used to functioning. Actually it was long past the point where he would have left.

“Is that how humans these days function? They share an intimacy beyond the normal, they even… make love… and then they share some things that are meaningful before parting and going on their own way? It’s just not what I’m accustomed to.”  Senias knew it was a drunken function to get out quick, but last night hadn’t been like that. He looked back at the table where the urns sat and then to Gabriel once again. “I went too far?”

“What?” Gabriel looked from Sen to the table confused. When he realized what was meant Gabriel shook his head slowly and sighed. “It’s not about that.. I’m glad you shared with me. I’m just not used to all of this.” It was hard to explain and yet he tried. “I was the one that went too far. I don’t sleep much if at all and I moved your things around because…” his shoulders shrugged and he looked at his neatly folded clothes that were bundled in his hands, “I don’t know how all of this goes or how it’s supposed to work because I’ve never had this or anything close. I know you think you are the different one in this but really I am. You’ve had families and relationships and long time lovers. I have one night flings and nothing comes home. No one shares or moves things or adds things. We fuck and we leave.” Gabriel stopped himself from saying anything else knowing his anxiety would flare up if he did. Cool in business and Council, he sucked at this kind of thing. It was the only thing that really made him nervous.

“But we didn’t fuck. We’ve fucked before. And we’ve left and gone our own ways. We’ve also bonded and made love before. We’ve stayed with one another. Why would I expect you to leave or to act the same way you have before?”  Senias closed the distance between them and took the clothes from Gabriel’s hands to hang over his left shoulder. Then, he took Gabriel’s hands in his own. “Only three people in your family have ever been down here. One freaked out, one used me, and the other one threw me out. No one ever offered to clean up my mess,” he chuckled and brought Gabriel’s hands to his mouth so he could kiss the dusty fingers. His eyes looked over them to capture Gabriel’s gaze. “I don’t mind, so long as I know where things get off to. As long as you’re comfortable.”  He lowered their hands to hang between their bodies, but held them. “I was frightened of getting close to you, Gabriel. But now that I’ve come past that, I hope you’ve not changed your mind about me.”

One slow deep breath after another and Gabriel looked into Sen’s eyes and felt like that nervous seventeen year old all over again meeting his grandfather’s handsome right-hand-man. He’d thought Jean-Michel was sexy then and still thought he was now. The only difference was that now Gabriel had that handsome man to himself where the younger version could only dream.

“I haven’t changed my mind Senias. I have wanted this chance with you since our first meeting. Honestly you will probably give up on me long before I give up on you.” He smiled and added in a low voice, “I’m a very flawed man, just don’t tell anyone.”

“You’re not flawed. You’re still becoming. And in that? You’re perfect.”  Senias took a deep breath. Damn that came out mushy. He hoped Gabriel wouldn’t tell too many people about this conversation.  

“Now, I take it you want to go upstairs to your own shower and bedroom to get on with the day, maybe?” Senias offered. “That, I can abide. Not a terse walk of shame – which you should NEVER have from me.” He kept one of Gabriel’s hands in his own and led the man to the entry of the cavernous lair and to a set of stairs that wound upward one flight.  As he got closer, the lights in the stairwell came on and the lights back in the lair began to fade lower.

“This was added on for convenience.” He smirked and added, “It’s kind of what got me kicked out of the Kennedy household, truth be told.”  he turned and looked at Gabriel. “Uh…no judging.”

Looking up the stairway and then back at his lover, Gabriel gave a small chuckle, “No judging, that was before my time.”

He pushed open the secret doorway and it led into a closet within the upper portion of the Kennedy household… not the master bedroom. Instead, it was one of the side bedrooms.

As he stepped out Gabriel had to look around before he realized which room he was in. One brow lifted in a perfect arch as he looked back at Sen, “Amelia or Rose’s?”

“Rose. Remember what we talked about before? She wasn’t always as starchy as she became after marrying John.” Sen added, though, “Jonathan thought it as something more, but she has the sight. She was just learning what that mean when she was sixteen. He thought there was a tryst going on. I couldn’t deny that at some points it had almost leaned into that…but I never actually crossed the line.” He had the wicked smirk there. Couldn’t help it.  

There was a low whistle and a chuckle, “You are a brave soul. Be glad you were only kicked out of the house.”

“So where did you aquire all of that anyways?” He talked to Sen as he turned the shower on. Gabriel placed his dirty clothes into the basket by the door and then moved to the walk in closet. A minute later Gabriel stepped out with a clean suit, underwear and socks as he moved to the bathroom to shower. Soon, he was stepping beneath the heated water.

“When you help instigate wars and help conquer places, you tend to collect things that appeal to your eyes. I knew better than to grab artwork, that’s too traceable. But the furnishings and tapestries and some of the other things I kept from here or there. So too did Bastian and other supernaturals. We tend to be hoarders sometimes. That part of the legends about dragons is true.” He sat on the counter, his hands on the edge, feet dangling. “I’ve several lairs. Each has a room for human companions or just myself should I be in this form. So each has some furniture and necessities.”

For some reason having Sen just outside the shower talking to him while he scrubbed his hair was beginning to feel normal.  Was this what being in a relationship was like? He grinned as he rinsed his hair, “So which lair is your favorite? If you have so many there must be one you frequented more aside from this one of course.”

“Aside from this one? Hmmm…” He was enjoying the view in front of him, even if most of it was clouded by the steam on the glass.  Damn. He got to be with that kind of gorgeousness whenever he wanted? Had he gone to that heaven place? Or did one need to die to go there first? And maybe… be human?   

“I used to love the one in Paris. But I suppose besides that and these would be the one in Northern Ireland. That’s the one I took you to before. I’ve kept it maintained over the years. Most others are barely livable by now, I’d wager.”  

Rubbing the washcloth over his chest and arms he thought about Sen’s answer a minute before asking, “Any chance you’ll take me to see the others? We could maybe salvage some priceless pieces and bring them here.” He glanced around the glass partition, “If that’s alright I mean.”

At the look on the dragon’s face Gabriel took a moment to rethink what he’d said, “Sorry, did I overstep?”

The look was shock and a bit of disbelief. “No…no, you didn’t overstep. I just never thought about raiding one home for another.” he paused. “Are you talking about… here?  As in your home?” Senias wasn’t sure how to take this. He watched Gabriel, trying not to add any unnecessary emotion to the moment.

“I was actually thinking of your lair here.” Gabriel said it a little slower than usual as he swore Sen paled a shade or two from his natural color. With a low chuckle Gabriel finished rinsing the soap away before he turned the water off and stepped out to wrap a towel around his hips.

“Oh…right.” Senias wasn’t sure if he was relieved or not. But then again, why would Gabriel mention something he obviously could have done all of these years? He had access to all of his lairs and as Sebastian had very bluntly pointed out to him – no one to claim anything but himself and he should just empty them.

“While I would love for some of those pieces to be in this house, I would not have made such a suggestion this early on. That would be the equivalent of planning a marriage and twins today.” Gabriel wiped the steam from the mirror and prepared his shaving cream and razor as Sen seemed to get even paler if possible. He wondered how long it would take his lover to realize he was actually teasing.

“Are you, uh, certain about that? I thought moving in together came before marriage in this day and age? So you’ve got things out of order, there. Furniture comes first…after all.” Senias chuckled, but was confused and his expression showed it. However, his question actually put a different level of possibility on this conversation as well, and Gabriel’s reaction was something he was interested in.

With his jaw covered in white shaving cream and the razor actually up to his left cheek, Gabriel paused to stare at Sen in the mirror, “Why on earth would you want to leave your peaceful Sanctuary for this madhouse?” He moved the razor to take away the stubble and tidy up his mustache and goatee.

“Doesn’t seem like a madhouse. You’re the only one besides the full timers who live here. Besides, I was asking a question, not…” Sen shook his head.

“I think we’re still on that dating and sleep-over level. I didn’t mean to pull furniture and moving-in into it. I was just teasing on the marriage and kids thing. Sorry. I didn’t want to make you nervous, Sen.” He wiped clean and turned to face the draconic male. “You want the shower next?”

Sen pushed himself off the counter and walked back toward the doorway.

“Naaaa. No sport in it, now. Nothing to play with. I suppose you’ll call.” The dragon pushed his energy up toward the bedroom door, created a portal and stepped right through before Gabriel realized what was happening. He closed the portal once he’d stepped through to his own house.

Looking around at the empty bedroom, Senias sighed and made his way to the bathroom. Time to come out of this silly spell, get cleaned up, and ready for the day. After all, nothing important had happened. Nothing earth shattering. This was their cycle, wasn’t it? They were bonded and had said they loved each other, but then, once things were calmed down…it was as if nothing had changed. Gods he was so embarrassed.  He never got embarrassed. What the fuck was happening to him?

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

Even more confused than before, Gabriel dressed and made his way out of the house. Per his newer routine, he made his way to Devon and Eva’s for breakfast or at least early coffee. As he took his usual seat Gabriel didn’t even unfold the paper to read it. He just sat there sipping the black coffee in silence as he ran through everything in his head that had happened.

Eva had poured the coffee and then had watched the odd way Gabriel just sat there. She had breakfast cooked and on the plates and moved to sit one in front of the boy.

Devon had started to enter the kitchen and take a seat but seeing the look on Gabe’s face he turned and headed out while kissing his mate along the way.

“What are you doin’ leavin’ without breakfast, love?”  Eva asked, knowing very well what was about to happen.

“Have a good mornin’ darlin’ I’m off to check on some things and run my rounds. I’ll try not to be late for supper.” Devon grabbed  his keys.

“Tell Derek I love him,” Eva smirked.

Devon glared. That woman knew everything, didn’t she? It didn’t matter that Derek was told he couldn’t be part of the pack. He was still Devon and Eva’s son. The Alpha’s couldn’t turn their backs on the pup.

“Mmmmhmmm…” she gave him the look before turning back to Gabriel. She sat down directly in front of him. The older kids were out tending the barn. The younger kids were still sleeping. She had maybe an hour before needing to have breakfast ready for them. Gabriel and Dev were her early birds.  

“So… how did the date go? You seemed more excited before it happened than today. That’s not the way things normally go.”  She sipped her own coffee.

Distracted with his thoughts Gabriel hadn’t realized Eva was there until she spoke to him. Blinking he looked up at her and cleared his throat, “It went good, great in fact.” He took another drink from the cup but didn’t touch the food. “He just left to get his day started.” Gabriel looked at his watch and sighed, “I really should be getting mine started as well.” He rubbed at the bridge of his nose.

“He seemed to have it all planned out. He seemed excited. So, what’d he do wrong?” she sighed. “You know, he’s really out of practice.”

“It wasn’t him that messed up. I said something or did something wrong.” Gabriel shrugged as he finished off the coffee in his cup and set it back down. “I’m just not sure what.”

“Well, I don’t want to pry, but I can’t help you if I have no idea what happened.  So, maybe you’ll need to ask him?” Eva shrugged. She was open to helping, but guessing games weren’t her deal.

The look he quickly gave her as he rose from the seat told her that wouldn’t be happening.

“You’re right, of course. But, I need to get to the office.” Gabriel was quickly the closed off business man as he lifted the phone to call the driver. He wasn’t good at talk about his intimate life with anyone. It was probably why he hadn’t had a relationship up until now. He didn’t even grab his paper or the food as he started out the door.

“Try to have a good day, dear!” Eva called. She wanted to help, but how could she? Looking down at the eggs, she snarled up her nose.  “Oh no…” she ran for the bathroom as quick as her legs could carry her.

He hadn’t even made it out of the house when she took off running. Concerned Gabriel changed directions and was at the door in time to hear what was going on inside. With a cringe he went back to the kitchen to grab a glass of water and a wet washcloth. She’d need both when she left the bathroom.

Waiting just outside of it when it opened he held out the glass and washcloth. “Really? Again? How many does this make now Eva?” Gabriel couldn’t help but smile, “How are you feeling? How can I help?”

“So many questions, and YES… again. I’ll have as many as I can take. And I’m a tough little lady. Don’t ya be forgettin’ that now.” Eva smiled for him. “Maybe these’ll be my little girls I’ve been wantin’. Who knows?”  The Carribean accent shown through when she was preaching. She drank the water and wiped the sweat from her brow and moved the cool damp cloth around to the back of her neck.

Are you feeling okay?”

“I’m feelin’ a little pregnant. And you can help by getting rid of those eggs from my sight and smell range. For some reason, it’s always eggs for me.” she shook her head.

“Look at least let me fix the boys some food. I make a mean bowl of cereal if nothing else.” Gabriel led her back to the kitchen but had her sit closer to the wall as he removed his jacket and rolled his sleeves up. He removed his plate and set it on the stove. He was used to cleaning up after others, he’d done so with both of his parents when they were too drunk to do so for themselves. At least with Eva it was out of love.

“Thank you Gabriel. I’m sure the boys would be very happy with a mean bowl of cereal. For them, that’s a bit of a treat.  I keep it up in the top cabinets.” She sighed before looking out the window. “How many do you plan on having?” she asked out of nowhere. Eva hid the smirk to the opposite side. Since things had changed for Gabriel in the relationship status, maybe things had changed in his mind about other things as well?

“You’re funny Eva, real funny.” Gabriel pulled down the cereal and grabbed the bowls. “I can’t even manage not to screw up a relationship, there’s no way I’d make children suffer through me as a parent. I had such outstanding role models for that.” A chill went up his spine at just the thought.

“But that’s what would make you a good parent. You’d constantly be making sure that you weren’t like the ones you got saddled with. Your kids’ll be fine… when you finally decide to have them.” Eva grinned and looked over at him begin pouring cereal.  Clinton, Russell, and Ryan would be making their ways back in soon. They were triplets, but not her oldest. They were her oldest by Devon. Terrance and Ryker were younger, but this summer the older boys had begun taking them out as well, to make rounds of their lands. Aaron and Michael were still upstairs in bed, they were still young, 8 years old.

With a somber shake to his head Gabriel just gave her a rather sad look and said, “No Eva, it’s not for me.” The idea absolutely terrified him to be honest.

“So you have a relationship, then? Is that what they’re calling it these days?” Eva asked quietly before taking another drink.

Filling the bowls Gabriel gave a rough chuckle that showed his confusion on the subject.

“I thought it was what we have, but I don’t know, Eva. One minute things are great and we are a couple and the next it’s like we’re just lovers and nothing more.” He paused and actually let her in a little more, “I overstepped myself after he trusted me enough to show me his lair. I moved his things around. I couldn’t help it Eva, I tried really I did. And I was going to put it all back but he stopped me. Then just as it seemed things were okay and we were talking and teasing, he was saying I’d call and he was portalling off.” The spoon in his hand clattered into the bowl as it slipped from his fingers and he sighed. “Maybe I’m just not meant for this type of thing.”

“Well, you’re not used to this type of thing, that’s for sure. It’s like a dance. You’re learning one another. It’s actually a beautiful part of a relationship. Sometimes you step on one another’s toes, but in the end, the outcome can be beautiful to behold.” Eva thought over his words. She really was surprised by it. She had to be sure. Perhaps gabriel didn’t realize the significance of what he was saying?  “So, let me get this straight – he took you to his lair? He let you move stuff around and didn’t fuss at you about it?”

“He took me and yes I moved things around. He started to fuss but changed his mind for some reason.”

“Wow. That’s a huge move for him. You really are in a relationship so far as he’s concerned, then. He doesn’t let anyone near his lairs. I know I’ve only been once – when he was sick. I didn’t have time to look around. Kinda jealous. I bet it’s pretty nice. Does it have the gold in it? What did they call that?” Eva was trying to remember.

“Aurumn and yes it’s there.” Gabriel moved to sit beside Eva then, so that she could see the worry in his eyes as well as the confusion, “I’m in one so far as I’m concerned, too, Eva. See that’s the thing, though. We were talking about this and teasing about marriage and twins and he said – doesn’t moving in together come first? There was even some chuckling and I told him there was no way he’d want to move into my mad house. I figured we’ve been dating and enjoying our bond, but baby steps first you know?” Gabriel shook his head. “Next thing I know, Senias was just gone.”

“He even let you see his aurumn?” Eva asked, shocked.

“Actually, that wasn’t the first time,” Gabriel saw Eva’s eyes get larger. “He took me to his true lair and we were on his aurumn there. We’ve uh… we’ve been on the aurumn at his Sanctuary in the city.”

“I see.” Eva’s mouth opened, but she rolled her tongue behind her bottom teeth and kept from saying anything.

“I know we’ve bonded. I feel him here and there. He said I’d be able to do that better, if I focused. I’ve just got so much going on. I know practically speaking, it’s important, but…”

“Gabriel,” Eva shook her head just a bit and interrupted the boy. He didn’t seem to comprehend things from his dragon’s perspective, did he? “Gabe, you’ve been dating and sleeping together for months now. You’ve even gone on romantic getaways and secret rendezvous with one another.  Did you ever think that by saying you weren’t ready for the next step and mentioning dating and sleepovers again that you might be telling him you didn’t want to move forward?”  

Eva waited.

“My house is a mad one, you know that. Hell Eva half the time I don’t even sleep in the damned thing. I was just teasing about the dating and sleepovers, but honestly this…” Gabriel forced himself to stop talking and breathe as he became just a little anxious. “I told him I was flawed, I don’t think he believed me. Maybe you and Dev were right and this shouldn’t be.”

“You know what, Gabriel? You have my permission to use that as your excuse.” Eva got up and made her way back into the kitchen to find herself some milk. She wanted milk.

“My excuse?” Gabriel watched her. “That’s not what I meant…”

“Well, you seem to need an ‘out’, so I’m giving you one. Especially since you found out the literal man of your dreams doesn’t think you’re flawed – I mean, heavens forbid! You’ve got to run from this one! So, you know what?” she poured herself a cup of milk and put the container away as she spoke, “You have permission to use us being thoughtless and condescending as your excuse to back up.  The experts on marriage didn’t want you to be together at first, so it’s obviously a bust.” She gulped a couple of nice gulps and smiled at Gabriel while wearing her white milky moustache.

“Jesus, Eva give me a break!” Gabriel snapped as he stood back up and moved to stare out the window, “I don’t need an excuse and I don’t want out!” Gabriel ran a hand through his hair and his gaze held to the big house he lived in. The back side of it was viewable from here, in the hills across the fields. He could remember his grandmother with her sweet smile and elegant ways, his grandfather with his sophisticated air and the respect so many had for him. What he remembered more though were the fights between his parents, the drinking binges his mother would fall into and the women his father would bring there to rub in her face. He had cleaned up vomit, carried his mother up, changed her clothes and put her to bed. Showed the women out and had his drunk father shove him and shout in his face how worthless he was. After his grandparents were dead Gabriel hardly slept in the house as his father had always told him he’d never serve as Councilor or sit as CEO. So he became an insomniac and formed a phobia against mess of any kind and that had apparently included relationships.

“Then,” Eva wiped her mouth, not taking the snapping as anything but her Gabriel being under a lot of stress, she continued, “what do you want, Gabriel?”

Turning to stare at her as he gripped the back of one chair Gabriel responded with a loss of his normally controlled demeanor.

“You want to know what I want? I want him! I want to be able to wake up with him every morning and go to bed with him every night!” He marched to the counter to stand across it from her fists clenching in his passion of the moment, “I’m afraid damn it! We carry on and sometimes I worry this is too much! I fear becoming like them and living together like they did in absolute misery to keep up appearances.” He swallowed hard clutched those fists to his chest, “Eva I’m absolutely terrified that I’ll wake up and this will all be gone. That he’ll move in and Crimson will come for him or that he’ll decide this isn’t what he wants.” His voice broke on the last few words.  

Eva’s eyes and expression were full of caring and concern, but she didn’t reach out to him. Her fingers remained clenched on the counter.  Soon, a warm smile came to her. He was in love. And that terrified him. She could understand that completely.

“Love is uncontrollable and unpredictable. But if both of you want to be with each other, why not take this opportunity and enjoy it?” Eva took a slow breath as she thought of what to say.  “That’s fear talking you out of it; making excuses for you. I’m not used to seeing you afraid, Gabriel. It doesn’t look good on you.”

Swallowing and taking a breath, Gabriel relaxed to lean on the counter. “It doesn’t feel that great either.” He appreciated her caring. He also noted her clenching the counter to keep from reaching out to him. He knew that was hard for her, but again he also knew she understood that too much made him uncomfortable.

“You’re worried about the Council and Crimson finding out about what he is and therefore him being taken from you? Then make the changes that need to be made to stop that from happening. You love puzzles? Then this is a holy mess of one, isn’t it? What makes you happy is illegal and unconventional. So what will it take to fix that?”

“The case I’ve been building for as long as I’ve known Jean-Michel was really Senias.” What she said started the gears in his head turning and he wondered how she always knew just what to say to motivate him. “You’re right.” Smoothing his hair back into place, Gabriel rolled his sleeves back down and adjusted his clothing back to perfection. Placing his cufflinks he grinned at Eva, “I need to get to the office, then to the library at Crimson. I may pull an all nighter so don’t worry.  Thank you, Eva. Are you okay with things here, or do I need to send cook down to help you today?” He had a lot to pull back out after Dante’s case had swamped him.

“I’ll be fine.” Eva shooed him toward the door, but then thought of something. “Oh! Gabe!” she moved around the kitchen island to catch him before he went out the door. “You know you messed up, right?  So, uh… his favorite flowers are roses the color of the sunset. Just FYI.” She didn’t care how tough the man acted, Senias had a soft heart in there.

“I’ll take care of it Eva.” Gabriel smiled as he headed out the door.

 

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