“You make it sound so formal,” she said. “Like I won’t actually be your sex slave.”
It was just a simple job transfer interview, but it was far from simple.
After the most mind-blowing ‘interview’ of Melody’s life, she signs a contract with a gorgeous man named Skye, who she believes isn't really human. Neither is his assistant. The sweet, blond Garen is every bit as enticing as his boss. He's even more inhumanly gorgeous and just as hungry for what Melody has to offer.
And she's supposed to work for these two?
Within the first week, everything goes south when she finds herself falling for both elusive men and their otherworldly charms. In spite of the unconventionally intimate ‘position’ she now holds, Melody never considered the possibility of love. She rejected romance for most of her life, because love was her enemy. Love left her mother wanting and left Melody nothing but loneliness for two decades.
The realization that she has to choose between two men she loves beyond all understanding sends her running scared. She refuses to choose, but the only other option is to lose them both and risk even worse heartbreak. Will she follow her heart or lose it all?
Garen and Skye follow, too consumed by love to do anything but compromise for Melody's sake. They forsake their own complicated romance in Melody’s favor, believing only one of them can have her, but she is the one who is burdened with the final choice.
Once in their embrace, she makes her choice—the choice Fate intended all along.
Dragons aren’t monsters. Dragons aren’t monsters, Melody repeated over and over in her head.
Her five-year-old heart raced. She hoped the game would prove that dragons really weren’t monsters. She knew deep down that she wasn’t in danger.
Daddy wasn’t really a monster. He was only pretending. He was pretending not to find her, too, even though she kept peeking out from her hiding place and giggling while he stomped around her room making goofy growling noises and hunching his shoulders. He craned his curly blond head around his huge, flannel-clad shoulders and made his eyes look wild, blinking so that the sun shining through the window reflected in them, making them look gold instead of their normal blue.
He made a loud snuffling noise and said in a gruff, scary voice, “I smell a little girl. Dragons like little girls the best. Especially giggling little girls because we feed on laughter. I hear yummy, yummy laughter.”
Melody pressed her fist to her mouth, struggling not to laugh again and sinking lower behind the clothes hamper. Daddy crouched on all fours and crept closer, still pretending not to find her and sniffing like a big, silly dog. She wanted him to find her but didn’t want him to at the same time. He always tickled her when he did, and she both loved and hated being tickled.
But dragons needed laughter to live, especially the gold ones like her daddy pretended to be, and the idea of him starving made her very sad. She had a splendid idea, though. Maybe she could be the dragon for a change and make him laugh.
She geared up for it first, building her courage, and then leapt out at him with as big a yell as she could muster.
“Rawr! I’m a dragon!”
His eyes widened and he gasped, falling over onto his back and lying super still, like he was dead. Except she could see his chest rising and falling and his eyelids were cracked.
“Rawr?” Melody poked him. Then tickled him, wriggling her small fingers into his ribcage. “I’m hungry! You’re supposed to laugh!” She grew impatient and poked him harder. He finally twitched then lurched up and grabbed her.
Melody shrieked as Daddy dug his fingers into her sides, torturing her with tickles.
“I need to get my fill before you change the rules!” he said. “And you need to learn how to tickle if you’re going to be a good dragon.”
“Okay, okay!” She let out another breathless giggle. He finally stopped, pulling away with a grin.
“Teach me how to be a good dragon?” she asked him. She wanted to know how to play the game right, after all.
Daddy sat up, stretched his legs out in front of him on the rug, and patted his lap. Melody affected a hunching, searching form and growled at him, turning her head side-to-side, sniffing like he did, and raking her hands in the air as she prowled toward him. He laughed.
“You’re close, but there are a lot of dragon secrets. I can’t tell you all of them—you have to learn some for yourself—but I can tell you a few.”
Melody frowned. She thought she’d been a terrific dragon just then. But she crawled further up his legs, sitting back on his knees and looking up at him.
“I’ll never tell, Daddy. I promise,” she said, solemnly. Because she knew if someone had a secret and they told you their secret, you should never, ever tell.
Daddy furrowed his brow and she realized she’d said the thing she wasn’t supposed to say. She wasn’t supposed to call him “Daddy” because her mom said he wasn’t, but the word just felt right when she said it. And she really, really wanted him to be that word.
He chuckled. “I know you wouldn’t, Melonhead. You’re a very special girl. You are so special that just before you were born, a big, gold dragon came and visited your mama and gave you his blessing inside her belly. It means dragons will always be your guardians, forever and ever.”
Melody knew it was all pretend, but she liked the idea of dragons being good creatures who lived on laughter, and not at all like the monsters movies made them out to be.
She scrunched her face up the way her mom did when she was being very serious, crossed her arms, and said, “I’m ready.”
Daddy pressed his lips together and narrowed his eyes. “First of all, if I’m going to tell you the secrets, I need to make absolutely certain you won’t tell anyone else. A promise isn’t enough. I need to give you a magic tattoo, first.”
Melody loved tattoos. She immediately hopped up and found her special markers and brought them back to him. He picked one, studied it, then picked another and shook his head. “What’s your favorite color, Melody?”
She stared down at the colors, trying to decide. She reached for the yellow one at first because it reminded her of him, but that didn’t feel quite right. If she was going to do it, she needed to be truthful about her favorites. She got up again, going back to her activity desk to rummage around some more. When she came back she knew exactly what to tell him. She reached for the blue marker then handed him the glittery silver pen she’d retrieved.
“These,” she said, sure she’d made the best choices. “They’re my favorites.”
“These are very good colors. Strong colors for dragons,” Daddy said. He touched each with reverence.
She stared at the markers, fascinated. “What do they mean?”
“Well, this one,” he said, holding up the blue, “is for a dragon who will always know exactly how to make you happy. And this one,” he held up the glitter marker, “is for a dragon who will always protect you the same way I do and who will love you no matter what.”
He looked unhappy at her choices. “Can they both be my favorites?” she asked.
He shook his head and smiled. “Of course, sweetheart. You can have as many favorite colors as you’d like. Here, let’s give you the magic tattoo. We have to put it in a spot your mama can’t see, though. Where do you think it should go?”
She thought for a second, then remembered the tattoo she’d caught a glimpse of on his upper arm—an intricate pattern she still didn’t quite understand. She loved knowing the secret of its presence. Most of the time his shirts covered it up.
“Here!” Melody said, turning her shoulder to him and shoving up her sleeve.
“Ah, good choice,” he said. He tugged her sleeve higher, baring her shoulder, and bent his head, concentrating on the skin. He started tracing a line and she laughed at the feel of the plastic lid digging into her arm.
“You have to take the cap off, silly!”
“Oh!” Daddy smacked his forehead with his hand. He pulled the lids off the blue marker and the silver one, then bent again, slowly tracing a shape on her skin. After studying his artwork for a second, he went over it again with the other marker. It tickled, but she forced herself not to laugh, even though she wanted to let him have the laughter. Instead, she held very still and watched while he drew a tiny pattern into her arm.
When he was done, she crossed her eyes and held her arm up trying to see it. “What is it?”
He laughed and hoisted her up in his arms, carrying her across the hall to the bathroom where they could both look at it in the mirror.
On her arm was a little blue dragon, with silver eyes and a silver tail and a blue and silver circle surrounding it.
“This little dragon will always protect you, my love,” he whispered. “Even when I am gone.”
“But you’ll never be gone, so you can protect me, too.” She wrapped her arms around his neck, safe and loved in his embrace.