A CENTURY LATER
"Charlie, Charlie, Charlie!"
Charlotte hid in the deep recesses of the school library. She wanted to do well in school-particularly because of who her father is, but her friends didn't understand. This was the end result.
At fifteen, most young women obsessed over boys and hair and makeup; Charlotte Ren felt the same way about algorithms, biology, and physics. The Rens were an upper-middle-class Asian blended family. Her mum was Filipino, and her Dad was french, so Charlotte was already fluent in three languages. Now that her Mum had remarried an American, the Executive Director of the local university, Charlotte traveled between both houses, so it wasn't easy to get extra study. But she was determined. Her biological father, Griffith Ren was the lead scientist for Greenway, Low, and Fitzgerald; he graduated from university two years before his peers and went straight into the firm while it was still in its fledgling stages. Charlotte intended to graduate three years before her peers, which was why she hid in the library.
Charlotte ducked as her friend looked in through the window, but thankfully the lighting wasn't the greatest, and her eyes skipped past the small figure hunched over her books. At the sound of the denim twins leaving, she breathed a sigh of relief and straightened up. Matilda and Demelza were cool and all, but sometimes the loudness got a little much, and Charlotte had to hide.
One day though, it would all be worth it.
Ragnar felt as though every muscle in his body was going to explode. His giant gold scales heaved with sweat, and his tough membranous wings were so hot it felt like his veins were on fire, but he wouldn't give in. Flying just ahead was the Queen and her guard. Today was the day that Ragnar would take his warrior's test.
Up ahead, the vast mountains of Desdayos gave way to Neptune's ocean, and out in the middle of nowhere, Ragnar would come face to face with his demons in three separate tests. The elders called it 'seachad, an lathair, re teachd or past, present, future.'
'Good luck, my son.'
Ragnar looked up to find that his mother and her guard had disappeared. All he could see in every direction was the ocean, and with nervousness in his heart, the young warrior circled slowly, trying to look everywhere; the attack came from the one place Ragnar hadn't thought of.
His mind exploded with visions of his past. His mother holding him, fleeing the war, going to school, his crushes, anything that had ever overwhelmed him or caused pain raced through Ragnar's mind. That's when the first blow came. The Queen's sentries bombarded Ragnar with blow after blow whilst the memories all but blinded him with their intensity. Banking sharply to the left, he managed to elude Tobias but barreled straight into Menke, who was ready to deflect him. Sharp claws scraped along Ragnar's underbelly, drawing blood as he forced the memories into the locked box in his mind and dove straight towards the youngest guard, grabbing the water dragon in his mighty claws. 'Well done, my son, you have passed seachad. Never let the memories of your past blind you to your present.'
The guard herded Ragnar in formation as they flew west towards the Cridhe Islands. No one spoke to him or looked at him, and Ragnar was aware that next to the black armor that marked them as Queen's guard, his own golden scales stood out like dogs balls. As a much younger whelp, he used to roll in tar to change the bright color, but it never worked. For an hour, they flew, and it was dusk when they finally landed on the ground. Ragnar transformed to his human skin, he'd already been told that the next test was to be done like this, and he watched as the guard took to the skies-leaving him there for the night.
He looked around at the vegetation with a sigh, deciding to make a lean-to for the night. There was a smell of rain in the air, and he'd rather not be caught naked in it, so shelter was a priority.
Ragnar heard the sound of whimpering in the early hours of the morning. The rain was still drizzling, but the downpour that had made a mockery of his shelter had eased off enough for him to hear the wildlife amongst the trees. When the pitiful sound reached Ragnar's ears once again, he shrugged off the banana leaves he was sheltering under and went to find whatever creature was in pain.
He found her down a deep ravine. The little girl looked at him with strange green eyes as he made a rope to reach her.
"It's okay, I'm going to get you out of here," He said as he climbed down to the ledge she was stranded on. Then the scent hit him. Wolf shifter. Instinctively he reached for his dragon, but the little girl cowered away. She didn't lunge at him or bare her teeth as Ragnar expected. Instead, she burst into tears. He didn't know what to do.
For a century, he watched as wolf shifters and dragons fought over land, the battles were violent, and his friends were killed, causing Ragnar to hate the vile creatures, but his mother wouldn't weigh in either way. Instead, a look of sadness shadowed her face, and she would quietly leave the room.
"Please, sir, just lift me out of here. I won't bother you." Her quiet voice stirred something inside him, and Ragnar made a choice.
"What's your name?" He asked, startling her with his question. She smiled shyly and whispered, "I'm Antoinette."
Ragnar shook his head, muttered to himself, and looked down at the jagged rocks below.
"Righto, I'm going to call you Toni; Antoinette is too old fashioned a name for a young lady such as yourself. So how about we get out of here?" With a little effort, Ragnar and his little wolf pup scaled back up the ravine. Antoinette immediately shifted into her beast, lunging at his face before he had a chance to defend himself. The feel of a rough tongue on his cheek was the last thing Ragnar expected. In wonder, he realized that she was just thanking him for helping her. With one last bark, she raced off into the trees, no doubt heading for home.
'You make me proud, Ragnar. A true warrior shows compassion for the people who need their help-regardless of who or what they are. You have passed an lathair.
The morning bought with it a calm and sunny day. The Queen arrived with her guards, waking Ragnar as he slept under his banana leaf. At her silent command, the guards made themselves scarce.
"Ragnar," She began, "The final test is the hardest. If you fail, it could mean your life. The rules are clear that no member of the assessment team is allowed to intervene, so you need to be careful." Lisbeth's eyes filled with tears as she hugged him, and then, looking straight into his eyes, the queen revealed, "To pass re teach you must find your father and bring him home."
Muscles rippled as the fighters tore into each other. Gio watched from his private box as the underground wolves placed bets on their favorites, his lips set in a hard line as he surveyed his empire. He had long ago lost count of the years, knowing only that due to some freak genetics that his father wouldn't explain, Gio hadn't aged like the other wolves. Con was in his seventies now, and although that was still considered young in shifter terms, the wrinkles were slowly making themselves known. Gio didn't look a day over twenty. It was as though someone took a snapshot of him in his prime and built an alternate reality around it—a reality where the Alpha never grew old. Frederico Lupo had succumbed to the rigors of age a year ago. Leaving the underground empire and all it's interests to Gio-and that was the day his young adulthood officially ended. He had to be more ruthless than his father ever was, dominating the fight ring and becoming a boogeyman to his peers. Gio need
Ragnar looked at his watch, impatience written all over his face as he waited for the new employee. She was reputed to be the best in her field- yet tardiness in science was rarely tolerated, and she had kept him waiting for almost forty minutes. This was the problem with hiring humans. If it weren't for her father's name and where he worked, Ragnar wouldn't bother with her. But he desperately needed that formula. Dr.Ren was the first to invent a serum that reversed the effects of lethal bites. After a few modifications, he was able to tailor the serum to any poison he chose, and Ragnar needed it to keep him ahead of his competitors and save his mother. In this century, humans were at the forefront of medical breakthroughs. Thanks to the neverending war between dragons and werewolves, their test supplies kept getting stolen en route. Wolves had resorted to crime to fund their underground research, while dragons dipped into their private treasure to help fund theirs. Humans had found
Charlotte was on fire, burning from the inside out. How they got to Gio's quarters was a blur, as the sexual haze she was in blinded her to anything that wasn't him-and Charlotte couldn't care less. For the first time in her life, she felt like a sexual being and not just a brain. It was addictive. Gio's clothes littered the floor as he stripped in a rush, unable to keep his hands off of her for long, and with confidence she didn't know she had, Charlotte lay on the bed and spread her legs wide in invitation. The growl that came from Gio's throat was animalistic, and his eyes were drowning in lust as he crawled up the bed, pushing her legs wider before burying his head in her pussy. Charlotte moaned in ecstasy as his talented tongue parted her wet folds and began to lick her like ice cream, pausing at the top every now and then to suck on her clit."Oh my God," She panted as he slowly inserted a finger into her, pulsing it in and out as she shamelessly fucked his hand. He lau
Ragnar wasn't used to feeling impatient. He resisted the urge to look at his watch, turning instead to gaze out the window of his high-rise office. The scientist had sent her apologies explaining how she found herself lost amongst the underground hubbub yesterday; it was a perfectly reasonable explanation, and yet he felt himself grinding his teeth. There was something about the breathless quality of her voice on the phone... "Maybe I need to spread my wings," He told himself, shrugging off the nagging feeling that something big was about to change for him, and then he smelled her. With undertones of freshly fallen rain, the light honey-sweet aroma of dragonfruit filled his nostrils, pulling Ragnar's dragon to the surface...Mate... The door swung open in slow motion as his secretary announced the scientist's arrival, and in the span of a deeply drawn breath, Ragnar's world turned on its axis. Even in a lab coat with glasses perched on her button nose
Con was still laughing as Gio downed his third shot of tequila. Being interrupted before he could fully claim his mate had called forth all the fury of hell as the Alpha wolf barrelled out of his apartment, running straight into his best friend. No other wolf would have been able to calm him down, but years of dealing with Gio's legendary temper had prepared Con well. It didn't take much to guess the cause for the boss's foul temper either. So, after a few wrecked pylons and some walls that would need further reinforcement, the two found themselves at the bar. Con was nursing a suspected broken rib, but he'd have to see the medic later; right now, he couldn't risk letting Gio out of his sight."...Fuck! Why would she just up and leave like that?"Con almost swallowed his tongue in his effort not to answer that with a smart retort, knowing he would probably be signing his death warrant in doing so. But his features shook with suppressed mirth as Gio eyed him warily, pou
Lazareth gently lay the Queen on the plush cushions as the Demaggio twins set themselves against the dragon-proof doors. It was a frightening sight to see Ragnar barrelling after him like a bat out of hell and the first guard fully intended to throw back a few shots of whisky as soon as the opportunity presented itself. From under impossibly long lashes, Lazareth gazed upon Demelza as she fussed with her potions. She was an enigma, and he was intrigued by the soft-spoken witch. Though they had only a handful of conversations, Lazareth found himself thinking of Demelza in the wee morning hours when he should have been fast asleep, her gentle smile pulling him wordlessly towards her."Lazareth, are you okay?"Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, Lazareth walked over to the women, noting that one of them must have muted the caterwauling happening beyond the door as only dull thuds were coming through."I'm fine; it's Ragnar I'm worried about. He's going to do hi
Gio felt the skin across his shoulderblades undulate and knew his wolf was close. Con looked unharmed at the woman's feet, but who knew for sure? If she could sneak up on two wolves in alert mode, who knew what else she was capable of. "You must be looking for Charlotte?" The stranger remarked, tilting her head to the side, and Gio had the sensation of being knocked off balance. Here was one of the very few people who were still able to take him by surprise, and it wasn't a good feeling. The feral sensation began to recede as they slowly regarded each other. " Well, I'm Matilda, one of Charlotte's friends, and you must be the Alpha? Oh right, where're my manners? It's hazardous for you out here in the open, so I suggest we catch up at my apartment with your permission. Sound good?" Gio nodded, and the world spun briefly, releasing a panicked growl from his throat. When he opened them again, they were standing in a home. The woman-Matilda busie
Have you ever felt like the world you occupied was just a mirage? One that you are forced to live in until you've learned all the lessons you need to begin living? As Charlotte fell, time rewound, and the sensation of flying saturated her senses. Being caught by strong arms that made her skin sizzle put her in exactly that place.A guttural roar burst from Ragnar's chest as his skin made contact with hers, and Charlotte could only describe the sensation as being akin to coming home. Without thinking, she curled into his muscular frame as if she'd done it countless times before and Ragnar breathed deeply, tightening his hold on her."What is this?" Charlotte murmured, feeling starstruck, and a deep chuckle was her only answer.The door opened, and Demelza bustled through, looking flustered, "What are you doing here?" Charlotte asked in surprise, subtly trying to leave her boss's embrace, and Ragnar growled, letting her know it was futile."Well, um, that i