Chapter Three

“Let’s go.” Milo ruffled my hair and I swatted his hand away.

“Piss off.”

“Come on, we haven’t seen the three W’s in three years.” Milo’s face was inches from mine as he leaned over the couch.

“You just want to get laid.” I looked at the grin on his face.

“So? You need someone that doesn’t pass out on you.” He ducked his head as my fist aimed for his head.

“Low blow asshole.” He chuckled as a smile finally appeared on my face and I knew he was right. We both needed to get out.

Half an hour later we parked our bikes in front of G’s. Warner, Wilson and Winston were three brothers who had bought the dilapidated piece of land straight out of high school and opened a bar. They worked the bar themselves and named it G’s, short for their surname Gates.

It was off a beaten down dirt road, basically in the middle of nowhere and the best place to hang out. They didn’t check ID’s since Warner bought it when he was eighteen and the liquor license was in their father’s name.

I pulled out a chair from the bar and sat down. “Scotch, bottom shelf.”

“Can I see some identification?”

“Piss off Winston.” I was laughing as he grinned at me and grabbed a bottle from under the counter and slid the glass towards me.

“How’ve you been Grey? Long time no see.” Winston and I shook hands.

“Not as good as you three.” I looked over at the dance floor, packed with sweating bodies and more spilling out onto the deck at the back.

“We do all right.”

“No love for me? Screw you Winston, I’m never sending you a dick pic again.” Milo sat down next to me as Winston barked out a rough laugh.

“You just want access to my neck.” Winston placed a glass in front of Milo and grinned at him.

“Maybe when I’m desperate but only if you shave first. I like them clean shaven.” I spat out my scotch as I laughed at Milo.

“Shit Milo, I forgot what you’re like.” Winston was wiping tears from his eyes.

“Is that Mallory Jenkins on the dance floor?” I turned to look at what Milo was staring at and did a double take. She’d probably lost about fifty pounds since the last time we’d seen her and I had to admit that she was looking good.

“She’s not Ten Ton Mallory anymore.” Winston was staring at Mallory too.

“Are you claiming that?” Milo’s question made me smile and Winston shook his head.

“Nope. As far as I know, nobody’s claiming that.” Milo smiled at Winston’s answer as he wiped the counter and refilled my glass.

Milo stood up from the bar pushing away his empty glass. “I will be soon.”

Winston left for the other side of the bar as I nursed my drink, now and then glancing at Milo as he gave Mallory his infamous charm. Women liked Milo a lot, he was funny, charming and knew how to talk to them, whereas I just took what I needed. I didn’t see the point of chatting them up because I didn’t want anything more than a casual hook up.

Echo perked up in my mind and thumped his tail up and down. “She’s here.”

“Are you a dog now?” Echo’s tail stilled and he grumbled something. “She who?”

“Our bonded half.” He wasn’t as excited as I thought he’d be and I closed my eyes as an alluring scent greeted me. We were of one mind, Echo and me.

I swiveled in my seat and scanned the room. Our eyes met across the crowded dance floor and suddenly I felt suffocated. I emptied my glass and walked outside; I needed to breathe. Echo was silent, having retreated when we both agreed that we didn’t really want this.

“Hi.” Her voice was sweet and sounded like music to my ears. I didn’t want to like her voice or her face or anything about her.

I turned around to look at her, to take her in fully. Her eyes were a golden brown, her hair a deep auburn. When she smiled it felt like I wanted to be the reason that she smiled and the feelings inside of me were threatening to overwhelm me, even though I didn’t even know her name.


She ran a hand through her hair. “I never thought I’d run into you here.”

It was laughable actually. “Of all the places.”

“I’m Cali Knight. I just turned twenty and I’m originally from Atlanta.” She was pretty, not beautiful. She was also bonded to me, something I’d never looked forward to. I’d never wanted to be bonded to someone.

“Wynter.” I had no idea why I had just given her my name and not my full name.

Milo sauntered up to us. “Is this man bothering you sweetheart?”

“Uhm, no.”

“Piss off Milo.” I laughed as she looked questioningly at the both of us. “This is my brother, Milo.”

“Cali, nice to meet you.”  They shook hands as she introduced herself to him and Milo slapped me on the back, slid a condom into my back pocket and started chuckling.

“This is going to be good.” He shook his head and walked back into the bar, leaving us out on the porch.

“Can we go somewhere? Get to know each other a little?” It was a tempting offer and one I wasn’t sure I wanted to accept because I wasn’t getting rid of her.

“I guess we have a lot to talk about.”

She left me on the porch for all of two minutes as she grabbed her bag and said goodbye to her friends. It almost seemed as if I was talking to myself but Milo nodded his head as I told him that I was leaving. He already knew who she was to me.

She got on the back of my bike with my helmet on her head and I drove to a restaurant where we had drinks and talked until they closed. She was a big talker, telling me all about her life and her dreams and I kept my answers vague.

It was one am when I walked her up to her room in the hotel and she leaned against the closed door in the hallway. “Can I kiss you?”

She had barely asked that question when I lowered my head and kissed her. Her hands fisted my t-shirt and she pulled me closer to her. She fumbled with the door and we stumbled inside, not breaking our kiss off.

We stopped kissing long enough to take our clothes off and I couldn’t remember how we got to the bed or when I’d put the condom on. I was inside her, her legs wrapped around me as she urged me to go faster and deeper. She left scratch marks on my back and we were both breathless by the time we finished.

She curled up against me and my hand rested on her stomach. “I like you Wynter.” I didn’t answer her as I lay there and within minutes she was fast asleep. This wasn’t what I had planned to do. Initially I was just going to say goodnight and leave.

The bond really was a bastard, pushing you together no matter what you felt or wanted to do, that was the point of the bond. It would be stronger now that we’d had sex and it was the last thing that I had time for right now.

At four am I left her hotel room and avoided the sideways glances I got from employees as I left and drove back to the farm. The kitchen light in the house was on as I parked my bike in front of the garage. Milo’s bike was there as well and I had a feeling that he hadn’t slept alone.

“Coffee?” Ryder asked from the kitchen door as I walked up the porch steps.

“Is it too late for scotch?” I asked him and he smiled at me.

“Coffee it is.” I followed him inside the house and sat down at the kitchen table.

“What time did Milo come back?” I asked him as he put the cup of coffee down in front of me.

“About eleven with some girl on his back.” I grinned at Ryder’s answer. That was the Milo I knew.

“Her name’s Mallory, we went to school together.”

“Do I even want to ask where you’ve been?” His gaze locked onto mine and we sat looking at each other for a few seconds.

“Everywhere.” I smiled as Ryder laughed.

“Yeah and before you know it, some girl comes knocking on my kitchen door carrying your child and you’re forced to bond.”

“Sounds like you’re talking from experience.” His voice had an edge to it and the more I thought about it the more sense it made that it had happened to him.

“I am actually. There’s a lot you don’t know Wynter. I was married to Milo’s mom, she lost the baby … anyway that’s how I got exiled.” I looked at my father with new eyes. He was right, there was a lot I didn’t know.

“How much of a player were you?” I had asked the question to relieve some of the tension in the room.

“I wasn’t really one. Losing your mother nearly killed me the first time, the second time I had you and Abby to keep me focused.”

“You still love her?” I was genuinely curious.

“A part of me will always love her. She was my first. She changed me for the better and I’ll never regret any part of my life that I got to spend with her. You’ll understand what I mean when you meet your bonded half.” Ryder wasn’t one for flowery words or sentimental thoughts and hearing him talk like this made me feel guilty.

“Why did the Dragon King order that execution?” I asked him earnestly. I needed to understand how it all happened and why.

“I was King Rex’s assassin. He took me from exile and we became friends. He was a really good man but he also knew that his son wouldn’t be the King that our people needed. He had three years to live when we first met and when he died it all went to shit.”


“Your mother was the first woman to be blessed with a dragoness. Being married to me kept her safe for a while because I wasn’t a Sire then, I was a Chief and we had a tribe on the island. Wolves, dragonkin, vampires, we all lived together as one big tribe. The more powerful we became the more of a threat we posed to others. The Florida Elders were dumbstruck when you merged with your dragon at five and the King saw you as an even bigger threat.”

“So killing us off was the best way to handle that threat.”

“Marlo performed a spell that wiped my past and kept us safe. It was the only thing I could do to make sure you and your sister had a chance at life.”

“What does that mean for Abigail and Shae?”

“It means that Abigail is a prize worth killing for. The King will want her to bond with his son, because their children will be something special. Shae’s a half breed, they won’t be interested in her.”

“You talk like that’s a possibility.” It seemed like he had already accepted that it would happen.

“All unbonded dragonkin, male and female, between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five have been called up to the Dragon King’s training grounds in Romania.” Anger reverberated from his voice and I could feel the tension mounting.

“I’ll keep her safe Dad. Even if it makes me a traitor. The Dragon King won’t get her.”

“I know.” Ryder squeezed my shoulder and left the kitchen as my destiny was set in motion.

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