Dragon law is on the verge of change, but Kris has other worries. All he wants is for his mate, Issa, to survive her difficult pregnancy. He’s lost patience with the Dragon Council to help.
With the arrival of the Dragon Court and their mates comes hope. In the midst of a negotiation that will define the future of dragonkind, Kris finds salvation, but his saviors are on the verge of being banished.
Two human mates step up and offer to help, and the pair are ambrosia to his pregnant mate. Issa might see her way through the pregnancy, but will the rest of their race see its way to freedom?
The more the dragons learn, the more they realize that perhaps not even the immortal Dragon Council has a choice.
Issa dreamed of flying into an eclipse. The chill of darkness seeped through her scales as the moon covered the sun. The coolness of it soothed her aching need, but only briefly. Soon enough the ache returned as a searing burn. She couldn’t backtrack fast enough, though she tried to turn and flee. The dark of the moon kept sucking her energy dry, bit by bit, leaving her longing for the sun to come again. She relented, giving into it. Wind rushed past her folded wings as she plummeted. Gravity took its course. At least she was cool, giving up. The moon could have her as long as she could stop the struggle.
The voice jolted her into semi-consciousness.
“Issa, wake up!”
“Yes, love. Wake up, you’re okay.”
She tried to open her eyes. The world swam in her vision. Distorted shapes merged into his pretty face, his beautiful multi-colored eyes framed by creased brows. Sweet Mother, she loved him.
The world swooped and turned and she clenched her eyes shut again. “I can’t. It’s too much for me to even move right now.”
“I’ll give you anything. What do you want?”
What did she want? To not be a ridiculous mess over this pregnancy? To not be forced to beg her mate to replenish her energy every few hours? She loved him for being so willing. But she felt like a needy infant crying for the breast most days. She knew she was close to the end. Only days from her imminent labor, in fact. The twins inside her had told her as much. They weren’t particularly eloquent, but they were insistent, and hungry.
“They like your magic more. You know this.”
Kris gave her a sly smile. “Then let’s give them that.”
With that, he kissed her, his lips giving her the same sweet soft pull they always had. She’d always think of him as innocent and inexperienced, and she his first true exploration of love. But when he released her mouth and met her eyes, she knew there was so much more. The feverish glow in his gaze set her alight. Then heat grew exponentially in her core when he bent his head to her breast.
Every part of her was already intensely sensitive. More than she’d ever been in her life. It only took a flick of his tongue over her nipple and she writhed in ecstasy. The barest touch of his hand inside her thigh had her surging against him for more. His fingers moved deeper and she nearly came just from the contact.
“We can give them both of us,” he murmured.
“Yes. Let me feel you inside me.”
He moved behind her, shifted her thigh up to give himself access. Velvet heat pressed against her too-sensitive flesh, his tip sliding back and forth between her folds.
“Kris, don’t tease me, please. I need you to fuck me. Now!”
Kris let out a slew of rough curses that didn’t make sense to her, finally ending with, “I love you.”
The glorious stretch of his thick cock inside her instantly sent her to climax. She yelled out and clawed at the arms wrapped around her. She rode the wave of pleasure, enjoying each subsequent stroke of him into her hungry depths.
The babies pressed against her womb as if they were dancing. The cock inside her kept moving, and every stroke felt better than the last.
His arms clasped tight around her, his face buried against her neck. “I love you,” he murmured again while he plunged ever deeper to the point she lost herself again. All she could feel was the deep, lovely push of his beautiful cock inside her, thrusting harder and harder until it swelled and pulsed with his climax.
They’d already made these babies together. Her only regret was that they couldn’t make more right now. But they had time to add to their brood after these were born.
He palmed her thigh and pulled it higher, slipping out of her and moving lower. The sensation between her thighs changed, becoming something wholly more erotic. Sweet Mother, she loved it when he did that. She came again, with his tongue sunk into her.
The babies finally settled.
“Thank you,” she said, pushing herself back against her pillows.
Kris looked offended. “I would be a poor mate if I didn’t see to your needs.”
“Baby, you’re a terrible liar.”
He broke down. “I hate seeing you suffer. I would give everything to help them but just don’t know what more to give.”
Issa sighed and pulled herself back up against her pillows. “They can’t help, can they?”
Anguish filled Kris’s eyes for a split second and he dipped his head, kissing her shoulder to disguise his emotions. Issa was well aware that he couldn’t share the things the Council told him. Sometimes there were details he could share and she just had to read between the lines when he did. They’d both become adept at subtlety, even when they shared their silent thoughts.
“They can’t share their magic directly.” It was the first thing he’d said that hinted at more.
“They’re letting you tell me this?”
“They want to do more. They just can’t. These twins you carry mean more to them than anything. I can feel it every time I meet with them. They’re afraid. I don’t know what they have to fear, but their hands are tied to do anything about it.”
“But if we had the others here, they could help. Even human energy, if I had enough of it, would be better than sapping your energy every day. Has the Council given any hint why they wish this pregnancy kept secret?”
“No, but I believe it has something to do with two Catalysts being conceived so early in a generation. I was the last child conceived in our generation, only a few decades before your hibernation was over. My mother was at her fullest power when I was born, and sacrificed her remaining life energy to me with her last breath. These twins signal too much change for our race; I believe the Council is afraid knowledge of their existence might be dangerous.”
Issa shifted awkwardly onto her side and pressed her palm against Kris’s broad, tattooed chest. She traced the glimmering outline of the dragon tattoo that represented the transfer of his mother’s power to him in his infancy. The dragon’s scales illuminated in multicolored light under her touch. She couldn’t imagine having to make the kind of sacrifice his mother had—to give her life simply because their laws required it. Issa would give anything to be able to see her children grow and thrive
The twins inside her shifted in languid recognition of the tiny surge of power that transferred into her from her mate. Kris would give his life for her and their children, of that she had no doubt. He had nearly done so during the worst moments of her pregnancy, but they’d come to an agreement that he hold back. Their race needed him. They would find other ways to sustain their offspring until they were born. The small gifts were just Kris’s reminder to her that he was willing, if necessary, to give all of his power to her and their children. Nearly every time they touched, she felt the small surges, even when he believed she was sleeping. He wasn’t like the others… he could give without the buildup and release. His touch was sacred for that reason. He could take just as easily, if he chose, as long as she was willing and had energy to give—which had been the case until the pregnancy had taken its toll and the twins absorbed every spare ounce of energy she had. Still, they preferred Kris’s over hers and always settled easier when he gave.
Giving to her had been Kris’s sole purpose for so long. Issa objected, then forbade him from doing it the first night he collapsed in their bed and began to shift while unconscious. She had panicked, unable to shift herself to meet his dragon and sate him back into his human shape. The babies wouldn’t withstand a shift if she tried it. She’d called for the Unbound, but only Zak had come. Frantic, Issa asked where Darius was, but Zak only gave her a dark look. “I’m here. I can help.”
It had been quick enough, with Kris as delirious as he was. Zak’s human legs and Kris’s scaled ones twined together, the pair embracing and writhing in ecstasy. Kris’s cock dwarfed Zak’s, even in that in-between state. Both glorious columns of hot flesh pressed together, Zak’s hand stroking until they both shot pearly liquid on their bellies while Issa watched. Zak’s Nirvana flowed into Issa’s half-shifted mate and Kris subsided back into his human shape.
Issa felt both exhausted and aroused after Zak gave her a quick kiss and left them alone again. Kris apologized and objected when she climbed atop him, taking his cock into her with a single slow stroke. It didn’t take much of her own power to restrain him and fuck him, cursing him for his stupidity the entire time until he took what little she had to give as well.
“Don’t ever do that again. I need you. We all need you.”
“The babies need me,” he said. “There are no human monks at the Monastery free to offer. If only I’d had time to find more human mates to mark and bring to you to see you and the babies through. Darius said my mother practically had her own harem of mates to help her through by the time I was born.”
“They were unexpected, but I don’t regret this pregnancy. If we fail to make the Council see reason, all our children will have their futures put on hold for five hundred years. We don’t want that for them. The babies need you more as their advocate now, than as a source of energy. We’ll find another way.”
That had been months ago and they had yet to find another way. The Unbound would give what they could to Kris, but it was never enough and the babies always hungrily absorbed his power. Kris’s face was drawn and haggard, his skin too pale, his normally healthy prismatic aura woefully weak after seeing to her needs. A light rap sounded outside their door as she was brushing his hair off his sweaty forehead. Issa called out for the visitor to enter.
“Darius. Welcome,” she said to the tan-faced dragon who stood in the doorway. The stark look of worry on his face was no different than the others. For a moment she wished for a happy look from someone—anyone.
Kris tensed beside her. Without opening his eyes he said, “Did you finally come to make your own offering for our childrens’ sake? Or is it still too great a burden for you?”
Darius’s expression pinched from the sting of the words and he cast his eyes to the floor. His shoulders rose and fell with a deep breath as though he were bracing himself for an even greater confrontation. He stepped into the room and closed the heavy wooden door gently behind him.
The babies shifted inside her, somehow sensing the tension in their father’s touch where his hand rested on her swollen belly. Issa placed her hand over his and squeezed, holding tight while Darius approached their bed.
“No, it would be no burden to me, if I could bring myself to cross a line I believe is sacred.”
The intensity in Darius’s gaze made Issa sit up a little straighter. Kris opened his eyes, his expression wary, and watched the man approach.
“That of family. Words are of little comfort, I am aware, but I have merely come to offer a blessing for my grandchildren.”
Kris surged up from the bed. “What do you mean?” He turned and looked at Issa, brow creased in confusion, his eyes flashing with prismatic energy.
Issa shook her head, understanding dawning with the memories of Darius’s affection toward Kris and his stories of Kris’s mother, always told with a kind of sweet nostalgia. “He means you are his son. My father was a Guardian—you know this. But Darius, how? Unbound aren’t permitted to breed.”
The confusion of emotion that washed from Kris caused her heart to clench in sympathy.
“You were with me for my entire life and never told me this? You told me my parents both died! You talked about my father like he was someone else entirely. Was it all a lie, what you told me?”
Darius took a tentative step closer, his hands palm out at his sides. “I never lied to you. I am that Red with no status, so I may as well have been dead to you. It would not have served you to know exactly how little status I had. The fact of our link was merely a matter of convenience to the Council. Your mother was very special to me, and my bloodline was pure enough for the Council to release my shackles just long enough to breed with her. She chose to end her life shortly after you were born, to give you her power so you could fulfill the ritual.”
“Why are you telling me this now?” Kris asked. His voice was tense with anger, the back of his neck erupting into shimmering scales. Issa reached up to stroke him, relieved when her touch seemed to calm him.
“Because your lives and my grandchildren’s lives depend on you understanding. You already know the Council is aware of their nature. It is as clear to me as your nature was when your mother was pregnant with you. They are twin Catalysts and no Catalyst has yet been born without a parent giving their life force to ensure they survive their birth. Your mother gave the last of her power to give you your mark. I would have given mine to you as well, but the Council shackled me again before I could.”
“We would gladly die for them,” Kris said. He turned to Issa again, his jaw clenched.
“And leave them at the mercy of the Council?” Darius asked. He shook his head. “No. You and Issa are far too important. There is another way, but we need the rest of the Court and the Verdanith for it to work. We must convince the Council to change Dragon Law before the babies are born. Please try to hold on until the assembly.”
“Do they want us dead?” Issa asked. “Is that why they refuse to help?”
The two men turned to look at her in unison and Issa was suddenly struck by similarities she had never noticed before. While Darius was rougher of feature, and Kris had lovely smooth lines to his face, the pair shared the same broad shoulders and solid, confident bearing. Their eyes both blazed with the same intensity and they shared a slight crease between brows that indicated their worry, though Darius’s lines were more pronounced due to his age.
“It would solve some problems for them if that were to happen. Kris is more than aware of their motivations. Aren’t you?”
Kris’s shoulders sagged. “They consider that an acceptable risk, but that doesn’t mean they’re refusing help. They simply can’t focus their magic into the desired potency without the Verdanith. And even once it’s here, it will take time for the assembly. Time I’m not sure Issa has.”
Darius stepped toward Kris and placed his large hands on his son’s shoulders. “We will find a way.”
“How?” Kris asked, the desperation clear in his voice. “The babies are at the point where they need an almost constant flow of energy to sustain them. The Unbound don’t provide me nearly enough of a supply to sustain both myself and the babies, even if they visited non-stop for the remainder of the pregnancy. I won’t leave Issa to find a human village to restore my own power. I’m no Red, it would take me far too long.”
“Then we wait,” Issa said. “And hope the others arrive soon.”
He shook his head and stepped back toward the bed to kiss her. Both his large, gentle hands cupped her face and he gazed into her eyes, his own blazing with fierce determination. “No, I won’t sit idle. There must be something they can do.”
Kris left her with a glowing sensation from the burst of energy he sent through his palms. She settled back against her pillows with a sigh, rubbing both hands over her covered belly.
“We’ll get through this, little ones,” she murmured. “Your father will take care of us.”