“Let’s go.” Milo ruffled my hair and I swatted his hand away.
“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?”
“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.
My phone pinged and my eyes opened instantly. It was my Unit phone and that ping meant Clark was making contact. I accessed the messages and laughed softly.Clark – Up for a private?Wynter – SureClark – Sending location for pick up and eliminationWynter – Will confirm tonightClark – Ross Webber, Vampire, Webber Construction, AthensI looked at the two locations that Clark had sent and memorized them both before putting the phone away. I could hear Milo and Mallory in the room next to me and it was barely seven am. I heard the front door open and then Ally’s face appeared in my doorway.“Okay, this is awkward.” She laughed and then stifled it with her hand as Milo started spouting his ‘Daddy’ shit and I laughed.“You should learn to knock.” I stood up from the bed.“Dad sent me to tell you breakfast’s in ten minutes.” Ally’s face was reddening as Milo just got louder.“Hold on, I’ll walk out with you.”I pulled a t-shirt over my head and opened Milo’s door without knocking. Mallory
I knocked on the door of the hotel room that I had quietly left more than twelve hours earlier. Cali opened the door and looked at me for a few seconds. I saw anger and then hesitation in her eyes as I smiled. She finally opened it wider and granted me access.“You just left.”I didn’t really know what to say. “I’m sorry. Last night was … I don’t know …”“Well, I’m glad you’re here. I need to pack and so do you.” She was still talking but I had stopped listening at ‘so do you’.“What do you mean I need to pack?”“We’re bonded halves. Daddy has the King’s ear so you don’t have to worry about being called up. Daddy will find you something to do in the company. We’ll sort everything out once we get to France.” Disbelief were etched onto my features but she didn’t notice as she continued to pack.“Cali, I’m not going to France with you. My family’s here.”“Did you think I was going to stay in Hartwell with you? I can tell that you’re not even a future Sire. You should feel lucky that I ev
Two weeks had gone by too fast. Milo and I didn’t go out; I spent time with my family. Abigail was nervous and in the end Nova and Alexis had packed her suitcase for her. My duffel bag had been ready for six days. We couldn’t take any weapons on a commercial flight but Clark had already been in contact with me.He knew what I knew about Romania and he’d promised me that there would be a drop as soon as I knew where I would be staying. I had given Abigail a burner phone as well so that the two of us could share information if we were separated.I had everything under control and I wasn’t worried. Abigail though would have to calm down and stop acting so nervous. I understood her fear, not knowing what would happen, especially when they discovered her dragon, but Ryder had explained it to her.Three nights earlier we had all sat at the kitchen table after dinner. “They won’t kill you Abby.”“Your dragon is valuable.” She looked up at me as I spoke and I gripped her hand tightly.“The Ki
It was two am when we finally landed in Bucharest. We retrieved our luggage and walked towards the exit. Near the doors were a table with one man sitting behind it, there was a line of five people ahead of us. We had received instructions that we were to report to the man sitting by the ‘Winter Camp’ table.“Name?” The man spoke with a heavy accent and barely glanced at us.“Wynter and Abigail Grey.”He flipped over two pages before ticking off our names on his list. “There’s a bus marked Winter Camp just outside, it will take you to Sinaia and the camp. Keep these identity cards on you at all times. Good luck.”“Thanks.”It was a ten seater bus, very small in comparison to what I was used to seeing back home. Our identity cards were scanned and I led Abigail to the back and let her sit by the window. Twenty minutes later all ten seats were occupied and the bus started.“Hey. Gerard de Yong.” He had turned in his seat and offered his hand in greeting.“Wynter Grey.” I shook his hand a
“Good morning trainees! I trust you’ve all had sufficient rest and time to familiarize yourselves with this camp. As you will see behind us are tents with different coloured flags, please go to the tent that matches your bracelet.” The man standing in front of us was tall, muscular and had an air of authority.“Move! Now!” His voice was loud and everybody started to scatter towards the different tents. I headed towards the Violet tent. I kept to the back of the line as men scanned their bracelets to be admitted and be accounted for.Costin stood on the other side next to another man as they surveyed the group in front of them. My bracelet scanned and then flashed a blue light instead of green as with everyone else. Costin nodded his head and the second man took notice of me too.“These will be your instructors. On the far right we have Emil, Timo and Pavel. Each group will have one instructor. First group will be future Sires with Emil, the second group will be second in command with
Abigail was nervous and her hands trembled as she packed her suitcase. She hadn’t changed much in the weeks since we arrived but I could almost taste her fear. My duffel bag was on the floor near the room’s door and I pulled her into my arms as my hand smoothed over her hair and hugged her.“It’ll be okay, I promise.”“I trust you Wynter but I can’t help feeling like bait here.”“You’re not bait Abby. If I had a choice you’d never even meet the King. The plan was for you to meet him if I didn’t get a way in. I never thought he’d call for both of us at the same time.”“I’m just scared. Scylla doesn’t have a good feeling about this.”“It’s a request I can’t refuse. You don’t say no to the King. I’d die before I let anything happen to you.” I kissed her on top of her head as she squeezed her arms around my ribs once and finished packing.Two Royal Guards were waiting beside an SUV for us. Abigail held my hand all the way to the Country Palace that was a lavish estate. There were guards a
I handed Sorin the memory stick and he brought his laptop to the table nestled between the sofas. I leaned back into my seat, knowing that his life would never be the same again, not after this.The only sound in Sorin’s office was the clicking of his mouse as he looked through the files. I could see from his expression that the truth was beginning to dawn on him. “What the hell is all this?”“You’re looking at a kill order that King Florin sent to the Florida Elders. They reported me and my mother to the King. I merged with my dragon when I was five. When King Rex died my father was ordered to France. King Florin asked my father to remain as the King’s Assassin, which he declined, but the kill order had already been sent.”“That is the King’s signature.” Sorin confirmed what I already knew.“If the King ordered your deaths, how are you, your father and Abigail still alive?” Dorin was clenching and unclenching his hands.“My father was on a jet back to Florida when he realized somethi
I could hear low murmuring from the dining hall as Abigail and I made our way down the hall, across the large foyer, following the footman that had appeared at our door. I squeezed Abby’s hand and gave her a confident smile as she nodded her head and smiled back at me.The conversation hushed as the footman cleared his throat. “Your Majesty, King Florin de Haviland, King of Dragons, I present to you Wynter and Abigail Grey.”We bowed our heads in respect as the King stood up and gave us a warm smile. “Please, do join us.”“Thank you my King.”Sorin had stood up and pulled out Abigail’s chair for her as she sat between him and me with Prince Nicu, Cali, Princess Maya and Dorin on the other side of the table. The princess smiled broadly at me as I sat down and I looked her in the eye. I knew that look well too.“Mr Grey, I heard from my son that you were bonded to Cali here but rejected her.” The King’s voice carried across the large table as servants filled our wine glasses.“Yes my Ki