War makes strange bedfellows.
I, Gaius Domitus, one-eyed rebel dragon king of the Provinces, know that better than most, since I have to fight off half my ungrateful family on a regular basis to keep law and order here in my lands. But I never expected to have to consort with a barbarian human woman.
Kachka is beautiful, if you like them fierce—and of course I do. But she keeps complaining about how spoiled and decadent I am, and how a feared Daughter of the Steppes has no time for foolish dragons. I think she likes my eye patch, though. It is quite dashing. With death always at our tails, we take our passion like we take our allies. As they say, love the barbarian you’re with…
Gaius Lucius Domitus, Iron dragon and the one-eyed Rebel King from the west, rolled that one eye and continued out of the back halls of the Senate and toward the royal palace. He had important plans to make and he didn’t have time for yet another discussion about his poor kingly skills.
“I think you’re a fool to do this.”
“Thank you, Auntie. I appreciate your confidence.”
“Don’t get that tone with me.”
Lætitia Clydia Domitus grabbed Gaius’s arm and yanked him around. She was a small She-dragon and ridiculously tiny in her human form, but there was a power to her. There had to be in order for her to have survived as long as she had. There were few who had survived Overlord Thracius’s reign while openly loathing him, but Lætitia had managed. Somehow.
“First off—” she began.
“Gods,” Gaius groaned. “There’s a first off.”
“—you shouldn’t be walking around these streets alone. You’re the king now. That makes you a clear target. Second, you’re king now. You can’t run off on stupid errands every time you get a bug up your ass. You have an empire to rule.”
“An empire that will no longer exist if I don’t get control of my cousins and, more importantly, squash the rise of Chramnesind cults.”
“I don’t disagree with you, but I don’t know why you need to go yourself. You have dragons and men at your disposal. Why do you not use them?”
“Why? Because I trust no one. Except my sister.” When his aunt groaned and rolled her eyes at the mention of Agrippina, Gaius gently pulled his arm out of her grasp and walked away.
“Wait! I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Yes, you did.”
“No. I didn’t. I love your sister—” Gaius snorted at that, and Lætitia gripped his arm again and yanked him around to face her with even more strength than he’d given her credit for. “Do not, boy, question my loyalty to you or your sister. Ever. You two are the only thing left of the one sibling I adored, and that means something. But your sister went through hell. Absolute hell. And she hasn’t recovered from it, no matter how much both of you want to pretend that she has. So leaving the throne in her claws while you go off to be the hero king seems a . . . risky decision at best.”
“Well then . . . I guess . . .” Gaius glanced off, pretended to think a minute. “You’ll just have to give her your guidance while I’m gone.”
From the corner of his one eye, he saw his aunt desperately try to hide a smile. It wasn’t an evil smile. She, unlike most of his kin, was not evil. But, for the first time, she felt she’d be allowed to use her knowledge and skills directly rather than behind the scenes, which was usually where one could find her. Her machinations had been legendary, but they were often attributed to one of her other siblings. Of course, it was her willingness not to be openly involved that had kept her alive this long.
“Your sister,” Lætitia finally said, “won’t like that.”
“Of course she will,” Gaius lied. “She respects you, Auntie.”
“Good gods, Gaius Lucius Domitus!” she cried out. “You’re just like your father—such a
G.A. Aiken has resigned herself to West Coast living, which involves healthy
food, mostly sunny days, and lots of guys not wearing shirts when they really
should be. Writing as Shelly Laurenston, she is also the creator of the
wickedly funny Pride series for Brava. For more info about G.A. Aiken’s
dangerously and arrogantly sexy dragons, go to www.gaaiken.com.
I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl