Alluna disconnected the charging crystal from Rayne’s glass enclosure. The raven-haired doll laid motionless, as she had for the past moon cycles. Mama had threatened to violently thrash Alluna’s hide if she ever allowed Rayne’s power to deplete itself.
Alluna peered closer at her. Long sooty lashes rested against rose-kissed cheeks. Rayne’s lips were parted slightly, showing a hint of white teeth. The doll’s body was swathed in a pale blue cloth as she floated within the glass case with her long black hair flowing like liquid satin around her.
Alluna had seen her eyes open once. She’d forgotten to hook the doll up one time in the very first days Mama had left her in Alluna’s care. When she’d remembered, Alluna had rushed to the top of the tower.
Rayne had opened her eyes. The sparkling blue orbs leaked tears and her mouth worked soundlessly. The doll looked terrified, looking as if she were gasping for breath. Alluna knew a moment of sheer panic and took the blue crystal from the glowing metal box in the corner of the tower room. She attached it to a metal plate on the side of the glass case and watched the doll’s mouth slacken, her eyes flutter and soon she was still again, her chest rising and falling as though she slumbered.
She sighed loudly, her breath misting the top of the glass case. Using the hem of her green gown, she rubbed the glass until it shimmered again.
When would Mama come back? Days had gone by since the golden angel appeared in her tower room. Was Mama still upset that her flute had been lost? Alluna was certain the song she’d played had lured the angel to her. If she only knew where the flute was, she’d play again for him.
“Dreaming about that fair-faced demon again?”
Alluna spun to face the only other human that ever spoke to her: Mama.
“Y-you frightened me,” she panted, her hand going up to her chest. Dismay filled her as Mama’s frown deepened. Alluna had forgotten to wear her chest brace. Her cheeks flamed with shame as she crossed her arms over her deformed chest.
Mama snorted, her eyes narrowing. “Could it be possible? You crave the golden-haired demon’s touch?”
Alluna flinched when mama stalked closer. Touch? “W-why would I do that?”
Mama laughed, her eyes raking Alluna’s trembling form with disdain. “Aye. The seeds of lust are growing in you, my girl. The demon will see your filthy udders and crave them. He’ll clip painful chains on your nipples and tug just to hear you scream and beg for mercy.
Alluna shrank back, quivering. Mama’s green eyes glowed, her dark face looming in Alluna’s vision, and then it wasn’t Mama anymore.
Alluna saw herself standing in a chamber with dusky grey walls and a gleaming black floor. Her hands were chained up over her head and her nipples hurt. To her horror, when she looked down, two metal clips were attached to her erect nipples, a chain dangling between.
“Feel the pain, Alluna,” a deep voice hissed behind her. A very large hand slid over her hip from behind to cup her between the legs. “Feel the pleasure.”
Alluna moaned, her eyes darting to a glass wall before her. It wasn’t the vast darkness of a star-speckled void that had her eyes gaping, but the reflection of a golden, horned creature with demonic wings standing behind her that had her screaming in terror.
Mama’s arms engulfed her as she sobbed, her whole body shaking.
“There-there, my girl,” Mama cooed. “Don’t be afraid. Mama is here now. The demon won’t ravish you.”
“R-ravish?” Alluna sniffed.
She pulled back to look into Mama’s sullen face.
Her hand smoothed down Alluna’s hair. “All males have an evil snake between their thighs.” Alluna shivered with revulsion. How she hated snakes, feared them terribly. “They’ll strike at you with their snake, cause you pain. They will make you bleed, and fill you with their poison over and over until you become addicted to it, crave it, beg for it.”
Alluna stared wide-eyed at Mama, her fingers clutching Mama’s purple robes. Visions of the golden-haired one coming at her with a writhing snake between his thighs filled her mind. Alluna bit her lower lip with a whimper, shaking her head to dispel the disturbing thoughts.
Mama cocked her head to the side as her hand stroked down Alluna’s hair. “The poison will make you sick, make you swell up until you explode and die.”
Alluna’s heart raced with terror. She shook her head. “No, Mama. I won’t let the snake near me.”
Mama pouted, “But you already crave the demon, my girl. He’s cast a spell on you.”
Alluna gaped. He occupied her every thought. It was true. Mama was right. Alluna’s hand came up to her throat as she shook her head emphatically. “I-I’ll fight it, mama. I won’t let it happen.”
Mama cupped her face and leaned down, her green eyes blazing into Alluna’s. “What you need to do is trap him.”
Alluna’s jaw dropped. “T-trap? B-but.…”
Mama removed a delicate chain from around her neck and placed it around Alluna’s. From the chain hung a pendant of a golden dragon with a tiny sapphire for its eye. “Sing to him the Dragon’s Lullaby and place this around his neck. He will be enslaved to you and do your bidding. Then call to me. I will take care of the rest, my sweet girl.”
“Y-you’ll kill him?” Alluna swallowed, feeling something within her twist painfully at the thought of the golden creature dying.
“No, darling,” Mama shook her head, her brows furrowed. “I want to add him to my collection.”
Alluna remembered Mama’s collection in the dungeon. She had a sleeping golden dragon, a vampire, and a reaper. They were all under her sleeping spell, except the vampire who’d turned to stone from lack of nourishment.
“Why do you need them, Mama?”
Mama grinned. “I am going to unleash Leiravad from the realm of reflections.”
Alluna blinked, confused. Mama had never told her this before. “Who?”
Mama’s grin widened as well as her eyes, making a shiver of fear slide up Alluna’s spine. “The Angel of destruction’s reflection. His other self.
Zak downed another bottle of Black Death. The whiskey no longer burned his throat, and he could barely see straight anymore. Hands groped his body, the sound of frustrated female whining filled his ears. He was more pathetic than ever. Not only was he failing to get a full erection, but he didn’t even have the urge to satisfy the horde of females surrounding him, seeking his attentions. He was just not interested in losing himself in sex tonight. Someone shoot me, please.
Seth, on the other hand, was roaring for the fourth time somewhere to Zak’s left. The wereling had become a full-fledged male slut in Zak’s estimation. Zak grimaced, although he suspected Seth’s descent into rake-hood had much to do with being spurned by the pretty red-haired reaper they’d met while on the Angel of Retribution
more than saw Seth crawling up next to him. Seth’s hand gripped the bottle of Black Death and he tilted his head back to drink.
Zak broke into a giddy fit of laughter when Seth frowned and gave him a bleary-eyed glare.
“You drank it all…again.” The bottle slammed onto the bar with a little too much force. Zak knew it wasn’t from Seth being enraged, but rather that the wereling was as shitfaced as he was.
With a scowl, Seth raised his hand and tried to snap his fingers at the bartender. He swayed against the bar, his fingers tangling with each other, failing to make the snapping sound much as he tried. One of the females he’d been fucking curled herself around him, groping his crotch with her blue hand.
Zak snorted and put his fingers into his mouth to let loose a shrill whistle. All eyes snapped to him, a hush falling over the entire barroom for a few seconds. Seth winced and glanced back at Zak with a frown.
“Geez, Zak. That is so rude, man. I think you fucking broke my eardrums.”
The blue girl trying to crawl into Seth’s lap stuck her tongue into his ear and purred.
Zak chuckled. “That Gruesh will fix your ears, boy-o. Not to worry.”
Seth shivered and blinked down at the blue-skinned girl with the four breasts.
“My saliva can repair damaged tissues, cutie.” She grinned up at him.
Zak leaned over and whispered into his ear, “Her saliva also helps keep your dick hard, bro. But let her keep it up for too long and your dick will be sore as hell tomorrow morning. You’ll be in so much pain you’ll want to cut it off yourself.”
Seth’s mouth dropped open and he pulled the girl’s hand away from his crotch. “Later, baby.” He apologized to her pouting face before turning to Zak. “What’s up with you? I haven’t seen you stick either your dick, tongue, or finger into anything. Half of the girls here are ready to slit their wrists.”
“Half?” Zak scoffed.
Seth grinned. “Yeah. The other half I’ve already fucked. Trying to leave something for you in case you decide to get it up.”
They both looked down at Zak’s lap. He could get hard if he wanted to. He just wasn’t interested right now. Pathetic, Zak-o,
he thought to himself.
It was all her fault… the hot little Arborian witch with the mouth-watering body.
Zak scrubbed his face with his hands, as if in doing so he could erase the images of the Arborian girl from his brain... as well as her obvious hold over him. “I’m just tired from all that touring I did. Got so much pussy then, it was unreal.”
Seth scoffed. “She’s got you under her spell.”
Zak slammed his hand on the bar, feeling anger surge through him. Curling his fist and taking a deep breath, he controlled his temper at the first stirrings beneath his skin. “I’m not under any spell, Sethaliel.”
Seth’s eyes narrowed. “Then give me the flute back. Let me break it.”
Zak felt his hackles rise again. The flute was his only link with the Arborian witch. He’d never relinquish it to Seth. Never.
“It’s the only way to break the spell.”
Zak rose. “Alright. I’ll trade it for the black feather you have hidden away in your quarters."
Seth’s face paled. “What black feather?”
“Amaranth’s feather. You have one of her secondary feathers.”
Seth’s expression went blank. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Zak snorted. “Right.”
Seth scowled. “I’m not the one under a spell.”
Zak turned on his heel and would have stalked away, but fell instead. Everything spun around him and his stomach threatened to heave.
A pair of black boots stomped to a stop a few inches from his face. One foot began to tap impatiently.
Zak groaned as the scent of female assaulted his senses. “Baby, take a number. I am wiped out for the night.”
, Zachariel Wilder,” Anniel’s angry tone snapped. “Look at you. What kind of an example is this for Seth?”
Zak wanted to cover his head and cower. There goes my big bad Dom image.
He wasn’t stupid and knew how over-protective the girls were of Seth.
“Remi, you grab Seth. Rowie and I will haul Goliath here up.”
Zak heard Seth hiss and growl as four hands gripped him around the arms.
He smiled sheepishly into Anniel’s angry countenance. Rowie just looked at him with pity. Zak grimaced. Yes. He was definitely very pathetic.
Alluna stared at all of the beautiful flowers that grew in the field. She wiggled her toes in the tall grass, marveling at the crisp, wet feel of the soil. Raising her face up to the warmth of the sun, she giggled and skipped forward, her arms raised to embrace the feeling of freedom racing through her. Blue sky and rose-hued clouds filled her vision until a shadow crossed, making her frown.
Raising her hand against the glare of the Arborian sun, Alluna strained to see what was flying in the sky. Her heart skipped a beat and she turned with a gasp at the sound of a heavy thump behind her. Fiery light blinded her for a moment, dulling down to a golden glow. Wings, forty paces wide shimmered like liquid gold, reflecting the light of the sun. It blinded her. Still, Alluna blinked until she just made out a human form.
The golden angel.
He stood tall and proud, waist deep in the swaying deep green blades of wild Arborian grass, his deeply tanned skin offsetting his sapphire eyes. The breeze stroked through the wavy strands of gold that spilled over his bulging shoulders and pectorals. She remembered that hair fell down to his ass.
Alluna walked slowly toward him when he extended his hand to her. His full lips curved into a gentle smile, dimples creasing his cheeks to either side of his mouth. It made him seem almost innocent, those dimples. When Alluna stood close enough to touch him, she had to crane her neck back just to gaze into his beautiful face.
“Are you an angel?” She had to ask.
He regarded her a moment, his head tilting to the side. His smile widened as he nodded slowly, the breeze blowing a swath of gold across his face. Gold-dusted, white wings spread open behind him, made of downy feathers now. She was almost certain they were different before. Carefully, she reached out and placed both her palms on his hard chest. He was magnificent, massive in breadth and stature.
The feel of something winding around her legs and waist diverted her attention from his enticing chest.
Alluna gasped, her terror so great, her scream wedged in her throat at the sight of a thick snake made of gold winding around her. Her eyes followed the long serpentine form winding around her and discovered that it was not a snake, but the tail of a….
“Dragon,” she finally screamed, jumping up in her bed.
Her heart thumped hard, her breathing rapid as her eyes darted around the gloom. The first rays of morning sunlight were already filtering in through the cracks of the shutters. Alluna clutched the frayed bed coverings to her chin and looked around. Except for her grinning dolls, she was alone.
Zak laced his fingers behind his head and crossed his feet beneath the golden satin sheet draped over his body. Billions of stars twinkled on the other side of the thick glass fifteen paces from his pedestal bed. He studied the view, pinpointing immediately which ones were in the Arborian sector. Unbidden came the image of the girl with the raven hair and golden eyes.
Zak’s body tightened, and then he snarled, turning over abruptly and wincing at the feel of his arousal.
“Damn it.” He sat up and ran a hand over his unbound hair. “Can’t sleep.”
Zak jolted upright, ready to kick ass. He stared at his commander’s smiling face. Devon sat at the edge of his bed, a glass of milk in his outstretched hand.
“Fuck,” Zak grumbled, “you scared the crap out of me.”
Devon’s smile wavered and wilted. “I’m sorry.”
Those eerie bioluminescent eyes blinked before turning away. Devon’s dejection washed over Zak.
“Hey,” Zak called. “I just wasn’t expecting you to pop in, bro. Don’t take it personal.”
Devon hesitated half way off the bed. “Oh.” With a shrug and grin, he sat back down, offering Zak the milk again.
Zak recoiled, his stomach churning uncomfortably with the after effects of over-indulging in alcohol. He wrinkled his nose and shook his head. “Thanks, but I think I’ll pass on that.”
Devon peered back down at the milk, one inky brow raised. “I heard it was an Earth custom to ingest warm milk for insomnia.”
“Not after a night of heavy drinking,” Zak smirked.
Fiery blue eyes flicked back at Zak, a slight smile tilting up one corner of Devon’s lips. “Heavy drinking? And lot’s of women I suppose.” He sighed, his eyes looking out through the glass. “I remember those days. We’d all go hang out at Heaven’s Pearly Gates and get wasted.”
“And laid,” Zak chuckled.
Devon turned back to Zak. “Don’t really miss those days now that I’ve got Angel.”
Zak sobered. “What does it feel like?”
“What?” Devon frowned.
Devon’s eyes lit up brighter, his grin spreading across his inhumanly perfect face. “It’s the most beautiful feeling.” His gaze darted away briefly as he shook his head, midnight hair spilling over broad shoulders before he looked Zak in the eyes again. “I just can’t describe it. There aren’t words for it, Zak.”
Zak nodded. “Angel is gorgeous, but I don’t get how she went from hating you and wanting to kill you, thinking you were responsible for what happened to her planet and people, to loving you as fiercely as she does.”
Devon laughed and shrugged. “Guess she found me irresistible.”
Zak chuckled and then grew somber remembering the vision Seth projected into his mind. Devon’s face was exactly as the injured angel’s in the vision.
Zak blinked at Devon’s unsmiling face. “What…” Zak hesitated, hoping Devon wouldn’t feel uncomfortable with what he wanted to ask. “What do you know about your father?”
Devon looked down, his pale fingers tapping softly against the glass. Zak was about to apologize and tell him he didn’t have to answer, but Devon began to speak. “Ashriel told me he was different from other reapers… one of a kind.” Devon looked back up at Zak. “They found him abandoned at the front gates of the holy city. He’d just been born, and still had the placenta attached. The person who left him there wrapped him in dirty old rags, and it was raining.”
Zak felt appalled someone would leave a newborn that way.
“All reapers have bright, silver-grey eyes, but Davariel’s eyes were an intense shade of blue. He also had a strange effect on most humanoids who came in contact with him. It’s said he might have been Cambion.”
Zak knew Cambions were a mix of succubus or incubus with humanoid and had the ability to enthrall to the point of insanity.
“Angel struck,” Zak murmured.
Devon nodded. “Those that saw him became angel struck. The need to hold and touch him would drive the person into hysteria.”
“I heard throngs of aliens would go to Seraphia and literally worship him.”
“Davariel was revered as somewhat of a god,” Devon said in a soft voice, his gaze dropping down to his hands. “Unfortunately, the reality was somewhat different. Ashriel told me he couldn’t leave the holy city, Angeloria, because the beings would mob him.”
“And…” Devon looked back up at Zak, his expression one of anger although his voice came out as smooth as always, “one of the high priests was sexually molesting him.”
Shock tore through Zak. “What the fuck? I thought they were supposed to be celibate. How’d you ever find that out?”
“Ashriel told me.”
Zak frowned, remembering all too well the seven-foot reaper. The Seraphian death angel, as they were sometimes referred to other than reaper, never smiled. “How did he find out?”
“My father, Davariel, told him.”
Now Zak’s jaw dropped. “Ashriel knew your father?” he frowned, scratching his head. “That must’ve been well over three hundred years ago. Ash looks young.”
“He is young,” Devon said. “Seraphians life span is about two millennia. Ashriel hasn’t even reached the first quarter of his life span. He’s still considered an extremely young adult by Seraphian standards. My father was little more than a boy according to Ashriel. He’d just come into full bloom before turning demonic.”
“Full bloom?” Zak arched a brow.
Devon gave a small smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “It’s what they say when a young Seraphian loses the last of their baby feathers and show full adult plumage.”
Zak absorbed all Devon had said. Davariel had been sexually molested as a child and was barely coming out of boyhood when he fathered Devon and Lucien.
“He was supposed to sacrifice my mother while she was still a virgin. She was supposed to kill him.”
Zak grinned. “Guess that didn’t exactly happen, eh?”
Devon smirked. “No.” His smile withered. “According to legend, he comes back. He opens the gates of hell and sets Lucifer free.”
Zak remembered the vision Seth pushed into his mind, and what Seth said concerning Devon and Angel’s baby. “The legends never name the angel, Devon. How can you be so sure it’s your father who sets Lucifer free?”
“Seth has had visions. So has Angel.”
“Angel?” Zak sat up straighter in his bed. “Angel has visions?”
Devon nodded. “She’s having lots of strange and disturbing dreams.” Devon rose and strode toward the glass to look out into space. “I’ve had my own share of disturbing dreams… of falling, seeing myself not in a human body, but made of light.”
Zak frowned, looking closely at his commander’s luminous eyes in the reflection of the glass. The man was inhumanly perfect. Maybe he’s a little more than human. Maybe....
Devon’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “I’m reaching out, there’s another like me falling ahead of… us. There are two more behind me… two below.”
Devon went silent and still. Zak waited, almost holding his breath for he was seeing in his mind what Devon was describing. Five entities of pure energy, not light, but pure energy, falling, falling…
“W-what happens, Dev?”
Devon’s fingers curled into fists on the glass as he hung his head. Taking a deep breath, he turned to face Zak, shaking his head. “Then there’s nothing. Just darkness and...” he lifted his arms, palms up, “nothing.”Chapter Three One moon cycle later…
Zak stared at Remi with raised brows. “What mission?”
Remi grinned, the bright overhead lights in Alpha 7’s hangar glinting off his deep red hair. “A rescue mission.” He turned to a wet, enraged Seth. “You in or not, Kitty-cat?”
“I will never become involved in one of your harebrained schemes,” Seth spat, shaking from fury.
Zak would have been pissed, too, if Remi had sobered him up by power-forcing him to vomit and then dropping a half ton ball of icy water on him. Just remembering Seth’s body jerking in shock made Zak cringe.
“Rem,” Zak sighed, “be a little more specific on the details of this rescue mission, bro.”
Remi rolled his big green eyes with a long-suffering sigh. “Does no one on this space station trust me?”
“Not if one is sane, Red.”
Zak turned to see Annie strolling up to where they stood.
Zak slipped an arm around her shoulders when she stepped up next to him. Her gaze swept over Seth, and Zak tried not to snicker when she growled a bit, her gaze narrowing on Remi.
Remi scowled. “He was drunk. I was only helping sober him up for the mission.”
Annie gasped and gave Seth a disapproving look. Before she could launch into chastising Seth about his behavior, Zak asked once more, “Remi, would you tell us who needs rescuing.”
Remi’s green-gold gaze blazed into Zak’s. “Your witch.”
Alluna knew she shouldn’t cry, but the face of the beautiful golden angel haunted her dreams day and night. Mama had warned her he wasn’t an angel, but a devil that had come to snatch her away.
“An evil snake lies between his thighs, ready to strike at you, bring you pain and make you bleed,” she’d warned.
Still, every time Alluna closed her eyes, she remembered with despairing clarity how blue his eyes were, so deep and brilliant. His hair was spun gold, falling in thick waves down his back… and his body....
He had looked at her, mesmerized, with utter adoration shining from his eyes. His memory brought about an awful ache between her thighs, made her breasts feel heavy and tender, and she did not know how to make the hurt go away.
Throwing open the shutters to her tower room, she allowed the rain to drench her face. The front of her white cotton slip became soaked, but she didn’t care. The rain poured over her, making a puddle at her bare feet. She ran her fingers through her tresses, eyes closed, as she tilted her face up to the heavens.
“There she is!”
Alluna gasped and stared down at the base of her tower. A multitude of villagers surrounded the base, their faces scowling up at her. One of them tossed a four-pronged hook with an attached rope to her sill and began climbing.
Alluna shrank back as she heard them scream, “Kill the witch! Kill her!”
Whimpering, she ran deeper into her room, but there was nowhere to hide. Cowering on the bed, Alluna watched a big, burly man step over the sill into her room. Another followed close behind. They were huge and had hair covering the bottom half of their scowling faces.
“Please,” she sobbed, “Don’t hurt me. I’ve done nothing wrong.”
The first man gripped her by her hair, making her scream. He yanked her out of the bed and pulled her to the window again. “See that, witch?”
Lightning slashed across the sky and the heavens poured more water down in torrents. The land around her tower was flooded.
“We’re sick of your calamities,” the second man hissed. Alluna shrieked in surprise when he gripped her breast painfully. “Aye, as fresh and alluring as your body is, you’ve ruined our crops. We’ll be damn near starving this season. I say we rape her first before offering up her body to the fire god.”
Rape? Alluna wondered if that were some horrid torture.
“Nay,” the first man growled. “We can’t offer the fire god a less than perfect sacrifice. We sacrifice this witch untouched.”
They gripped her between them and tossed her out the window.
Alluna flailed before landing in a tarp they held at the bottom. Although it softened the lethal fall, she still felt her head spin and her body ache from the impact.
The villagers tied her hands behind her back, gagged her mouth, and pushed her along to walk on shaky legs.
Where was mother? Why was she not intervening?
Alluna slipped and fell in the mud numerous times, her once white cotton slip was a muddied, torn mess. The villagers hit her along the way, some of the children even threw rocks at her. When one struck her temple, making her fall dazed to the ground, they dragged her the rest of the way.
They climbed the Misty Mountains for what seemed like forever. Rocks and twigs tore at her flesh until her entire body was nothing but a mass of fiery pain.
At last, they stopped. They forced her to stand again, cutting the ropes from her hands and pulled her to a steaming pit. Alluna looked down the black hole. Billowy steam rose from its depths. Rough hands pushed her headlong into the abyss. Her body descended, limbs too weary to flail, turning, turning, the hole to the surface becoming smaller and smaller, the darkness deeper and deeper.
When she hit the bottom, the pain was only brief. She couldn’t breathe, but it didn’t matter. As blood bubbled from her lips, she saw the pinhole to the surface brighten. The sun had come out again.
They flew in a tight formation, Seth and Remien in front with Zak and Anniel trailing behind them. As they neared Arboria, Seth’s power overtook all four Viper’s, cloaking them in invisibility.
Zak closed his eyes, clenching his teeth as gravity hit and his stomach bottomed out. Holy shit,
he heard Remi hiss in his mind.
Zak opened his eyes a sliver and then gasped, opening them fully.
They were descending into what looked like a hurricane. Black clouds blotted out the Arborian sun and rain pelted the Viper’s glass-domed roof.
Zak frowned wishing they would touch ground already. Seth. Are you sure this is the right coordinate? Positive.
The sick feeling of falling faded signaling they’d reached the surface. Zak took a deep breath and opened the Viper’s top. The rain poured over his head making him wince. He hopped out and cursed when the water level came up to mid-thigh.
Chuckling had him looking up. Remi walked over the surface of the water, a bubble of power keeping him dry.
Zak scowled. He really needed to develop his telekinetic abilities.
“Remi,” Seth snapped. “Fuck. Stop using your powers, you stupid idiot. The Arborian Master Guardians will feel it and know we’re here.”
Remi pouted. “I don’t want to get wet.”
Seth let out an enraged snarl, flashing fangs as his tiger stripes appeared on his skin. “Shut it down or I swear I’ll drown you.”
Seth’s pale blue eyes began to glow and the air around his body distorted as he unleashed his own power.
“Alright, alright,” Remi sunk into the water. The bubble of power surrounding him popped and the rain flattened his hair against his head, making him look almost normal. He made a sound of disgust and sneered at Seth. “There. Are you satisfied? Besides, I wasn’t exuding that much energy. You
, on the other hand, would’ve alerted them faster smacking me down.”
Seth opened his mouth, but Anniel interrupted. “This is getting us nowhere, Seth. Please.”
“I agree,” Zak growled, impatient with their constant bickering. They’d landed in a small clearing, but beyond a thick band of tall trees, Zak could see the remains of a fortress. To the left was a tower standing solitary.
He began to wade in the direction of the tower, only slowing down to grip Annie’s hand.
The field surrounding the tower was flooded.
“Wait,” Seth called.
Zak stopped and looked over his shoulder as Seth and Remi caught up.
“The tunnel has to be underwater,” the weretigri said scanning the field. He pointed. “There. It was in a direct line beneath the window. It’s about fifty paces from the tower.”
Zak looked up. The tower window shutters were open making him frown. The interior looked dark and abandoned. He began to let out his power to see if he could get a feel for the girl but Seth gripped his arm.
“Don’t. If the Master Guardians catch us here, we’ll be in deep shit.”
“What’s the plan then?” Zak asked.
Seth’s eyes narrowed on the tower. “There’s a rope. Look.”
Zak turned again, his eyes focusing on the battered stone tower about a hundred paces away.
The rope swung gently in the wind, the rain having made it heavy.
They waded closer until they stood directly below the window. It was about one hundred feet high.
Zak did not hesitate and began to ascend first. His hand gripped the wet rope, his feet finding purchase against the rough walls. Hand over hand he climbed until he reached the windowsill.
The room was as he remembered, except for the water that flooded the gray stone floor.
Apprehension crawled up Zak’s spine as his eyes went over the darkened interior of the room. The rug in the center of the room was drenched, along with the bench in front of the window. Her bed was still rumpled. He walked over to it and lifted the blanket. Bringing it up to his nose, he took a deep breath.
Her sweet scent filled his lungs and made him ache inside. He remembered her beautiful face, raven hair and golden eyes.
“She’s not here,” he said.
Seth stood next to him and took a small pillow from the bed. “I think I can send out a trickle of power to see if I can feel her life force.”
The weretigri closed his eyes and Zak shivered when he released his power. After a moment he growled low in his throat and opened his eyes.
“What?” Zak prompted when he remained silent, scowling at the pillow.
“Anger. The villagers came here.”
Remi and Anniel drew close to Zak and Seth.
Seth turned and looked back at the window. “They blame her for the rains. She’s really depressed and is inadvertently affecting the weather.”
“What happened to her?” Zak demanded. “Where is she? What did they do with her?”
Seth’s gaze narrowed on the window. “They took her through there.”
They all rushed back to the window and looked down.
Seth huffed in frustration. Zak felt himself grow more agitated. “Well?”
Seth pushed the dripping strands of his hair from his face. “I can feel her life force, but it’s very faint.”
Zak gripped his arm hard. “What the hell does that mean?”
Anniel touched Zak’s arm, trying to soothe him as Remi stood frowning behind Seth.
Seth blinked his pale eyes, his expression grim. “It means we need to haul ass because she isn’t very close. The farther they go, the less I can feel her without putting out more power.”
“Fuck it,” Zak snapped. “Let your power loose and—“
“And what? Have the Arborian Master Guardians pop in on us and declare war, that's what.”
“We can take those fucking idiots,” Zak seethed. He needed to find the girl before she was hurt.
“We’ve gotta keep our heads, Zak. We do this right. We find her, take her, and disappear. We can’t afford to have her disappearance connected with us. It’s better that way, if you ultimately keep her.”
“Of course he’s keeping her,” Remi interjected.
Seth turned to scowl at Remi for a second before turning back to Zak with narrowed eyes. “Promise me that if she doesn’t want to stay, we bring her back.”
Zak heart stuttered. “I promise.”
Seth regarded him a few seconds and then nodded. “You’ve always been a man of your word. Let’s go then.”
They followed Seth back out the window, and trudged through the flooded field. Finally entering the forest, they made their way toward the mountains in the distance. The rain turned to a light shower and by the time they began ascending a steep muddy hill, it turned to drizzle.
A wide plateau led to more hills. The lush forest finally thinned out to rockier terrain, with small patches of vegetation growing out from the cracks and crevices along the path. Seth led the way, followed by Anniel and Zak. Remi followed behind Zak.
The rain finally petered out and the sun warmed their backs. Zak looked up, watching the dark clouds part to reveal Arboria’s golden star.
Somehow, the sun’s presence did not comfort him. Zak’s unease grew. Since they were all tightly linked, he knew the others felt the same. No one spoke.
Halfway up the hill, Remi called out. Zak turned to find the red-haired weredragon on his hands and knees sniffing the ground.
Zak frowned. “What?”
“Fire,” Remi breathed in deep.
Fear clutched Zak’s chest.
“Okay,” Seth huffed impatiently, “we all learned in school that most planets are magma and fire.”
“No,” Remi interrupted, “this is a Guardian made volcano. He’s a little pyro like me, but sloppy.” Remi grimaced.
Seth rolled his eyes. “And your point is?”
Remi ignited, fire blooming from his skin and taking the shape of an ever-growing dragon.
It wasn’t the first time Remien Fyre shifted in front of him, so Zak’s reaction was instantaneous. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him at least eighty feet away, cursing that he couldn’t teleport for fear of ending up with pieces of the surrounding nature embedded into his body.
The heat of Remi’s transformation seared his back as he took Annie down beneath his body to protect her.
A deep rumbling growl vibrated the air around them, almost drowning out Seth’s curses.
Zak looked back to see the blood-red dragon burrowing in the ground like a dog looking for his lost bone. Opalescent scales shimmered with iridescent colors within the red, going from a bluish to purple hue. Dark red claws tore out chunks of rock and soil, the hole turning into a cave and then a tunnel.
“What is he doing?” Annie asked in confusion as Seth muttered oaths of a slow painful death.
“Digging his own grave by the looks of it,” Zak grimaced. “Seth, can you link into his mind? Is he still aware he’s part human, or is he ballistic again?” Zak stood, helping Anniel up as well.
Seth growled, stalking toward the enormous hole where Remi’s dragon tail was quickly disappearing into.
Dirt and rocks continued to fly out of the tunnel Remi was creating, to the point where Zak feared the crazy dragon would bury them all.
“Damn it,” Seth hissed, shoving his fingers into his platinum hair. “We should have brought Devon with us… or Rowie. I can’t control this asshole.” She’s down here… somewhere.
Remi’s voice stated clearly into Zak’s mind. From the expressions on Seth and Annie’s faces, he’d linked to them as well.
Zak didn’t wait for anyone as he barreled down the slope and into the tunnel.
The smell was overpowering, almost like Earth’s sulfur. The deeper they descended, the hotter it became, reminding Zak of Megdoluc and its hellish, devil-infested tunnels and caves.
They finally came upon Remi. He stood fully human, as naked as the day he was born, one hand on his hip the other scratching a butt cheek, as he seemed to ponder which way to go.
He looked over his shoulder as they all came up behind him. “Took you long enough.”
Seth bared his fangs, faint tiger stripes appearing across his forearms as his clawed fingers reached out to Remi. “You…“ He clenched his teeth, a low growl rumbling within his heaving chest. Seth lowered his fists to his sides, and took a few deep breaths. “I’m not going to bother anymore. You are a fucking nut job.”
“Alright, knock it off,” Zak growled, tired of their bickering and anxious to find his girl. My girl?
The thought made him pause before he slowly turned in a full circle, taking everything in.
Tunnels riddled the chamber as far as the eye could see. Frustration welled inside Zak. He couldn’t get a feel for her life force and there was no scent trace, either. Next to him, Annie sniffed a pillow case she’d brought and then sniffed the air. Her big golden eyes turned to him. He wanted to snarl as she shook her head. She didn’t smell anything either.
“Maybe if I shift into my wolf form,” she began before Seth cut her off with a stinging curse.
“I had a feel for her up there until you disrupted everything with your shift,” he snarled at Remi.
Remi closed his eyes briefly and nodded before opening them again. “You were taking too long. She’s down here.”
Seth took a threatening step toward Remi before Zak’s hand shot out and fisted the back of the weretigri’s black Master Guardian’s uniform. Seth snapped, “How the hell do you know?”
Remi’s eyes narrowed, his lips curling back to reveal sharp fangs. “I just do.”
“Okay,” Zak snarled now, pulling Seth a few steps back. “We split up. We link,” he tapped his forehead.
“I hate linking,” Remi mumbled under his breath, making Seth growl.
Beginning to lose his patience, Zak’s inhuman growl echoed in the chamber. Annie flinched, Seth looked at him wide eyed and Remi—the bastard—grinned, giving Zak a thumbs up sign. Zak clenched his teeth and struggled to control himself. His skin already itched with the onset of a shift. No.
He took a deep breath. “We split, we link, and we search for her. Seth,” pale blue eyes locked with his, “see if you can feel her again.”
Seth’s eyes grew brighter just before he turned and headed toward one of the tunnels. Annie took off in the opposite direction as well as Remi.
As Zak strode to gain access to a tunnel close to the one Seth had disappeared into he felt their power wash over him—and then he felt them in him. Annie’s pain over the loss of her child was still a dull ache. Acceptance had given her strength to carry on. Remi’s mind was a riot of thoughts. He physically ached to be with Rowie. Seth, although focused on rolling out his power in waves to find the witch’s life force, was heartbroken over Amaranth’s rejection of him. Fucking hate linking.
Remi rumbled through Zak’s thoughts again.
Slowly, Zak lost Remi’s presence in his mind, but it didn’t matter because he felt… her.
Pain rolled through his body making him wince and groan in surprise. Was she hurt? Zak quickened his pace, the tunnel he traveled through growing narrower until he was crawling. The rocks beneath his palms and knees were smooth as he made his way, panting from the pain.
Seth’s voice echoed in his mind. Zak?
Zak groaned, almost stopping. His back felt as though it were broken in a thousand pieces. Fuck, Seth- I know.
Seth replied. She might be hurt.
Fire coursed beneath his skin and rage tore an unholy roar from him. The tunnel squeezed, infuriating him even more. He slashed out at the walls trying to crush him. Voices yelled in his head, provoking his anger to a higher level. Kill. He needed to kill. He needed freedom from this trap trying to suffocate him.
He roared again, until he heard singing. A snarl erupted from his throat as the voice echoed through his thoughts. The masculine voice soothed him, making him take deep, panting breaths and try to think.
Remi. Remi was singing the Dragon’s Lullaby. Zak? Baby, please calm yourself.
Anniel pleaded gently. Easy, Zak.
Seth was also whispering in his mind. Everything’s going to be fine. We’ll find her and help her, big guy.
Zak looked down at his crouched body. His black Guardian’s shirt was in tatters, as well as his pants. When he wiggled his toes, he realized his boots were also ripped, the soles hanging on by a thread. He’d almost shifted. The realization made his stomach turn. He would have died, crushed in the tiny tunnel.
He scrambled faster down the tunnel, feeling it incline farther down the deeper he crawled.
Cool air brushed his face and a few feet ahead, he saw the glow of light. Although faint, he still rushed, feeling the need to be able to stand and stretch again.
The tunnel widened out and he was surprised to find Seth standing at the end of it.
“Mine opened up here, too.” Seth stared warily at him. “Are you okay?”
Zak nodded, pulling off the remains of his shirt. He slammed it on the ground with a stinging curse. Seth retreated until his back hit the far wall when Zak snarled again.
“Pull it together, Goliath.”
Zak closed his eyes and ran his hands over his bound hair. The comforting weight of his braid ran down his spine to brush against the small of his back. “I’m alright.”
Seth nodded. “Let’s go.”
This time Zak followed the silver-haired weretigri farther down the tunnel into another chamber.
A column of sunlight fell from over two hundred feet above. It leaked through a pinhole in the vaulted ceiling of the cavern. The chamber had an odd shape, the ground waving in smooth rolls of rock, like a petrified molten river. It was almost beautiful, but a trickle of red flowing over one of those rounded waves of rock arrested Zak’s attention.
He was running before his mind screamed her.
She lay like a broken doll, shattered on the rock. Blood ran from the side of her now ashen lips, and her arms and legs were not in a natural position. Control.
Zak ordered himself even as he crouched to her.
Her lips were moving. He leaned in close and heard her whisper, “Golden angel, help me, please.”
Zak choked back a sob as he gathered her broken body in his arms. She wouldn’t feel a thing because her back was shattered. Golden eyes fluttered open. More blood poured from her mouth and nose. One of her eyes twitched and her body shuddered. Zak sank his finger into her blood sodden hair, to gently caress the back of her skull, but his fingers sank into mush. Oh God.
“We’re too late,” he whispered keeping his palm firmly over the back of her skull, in fear that her brain might fall out of the gaping hole he felt there.
The girl opened her lips, trying to talk, her eyes rolled back up and she began to convulse.
“Remi,” Zak yelled, his heart racing.
Fire announced Remi’s arrival as he appeared right in front of Zak in a burst of red-gold. He didn’t say a word, but put his hands on the girl’s arms.
More fire poured from Remi’s hands until it consumed the Arborian witch’s body.
Zak felt a moment of panic, but he trusted Remi. Only Remi could heal her before her life force left her body. If she died, if her body gave up her ghost.... No. She isn’t going to die.
He looked into Remi’s face. The man glowed with red fire, his hair alive with flames. Even the green of his eyes had turned molten. The weredragon gently took the girl from Zak’s grasp and wrapped her in his arms. Her entire body was alight with Remi’s healing fire.
Behind them, he heard Seth curse, felt his apprehension, but Zak knew the girl was not being harmed. Remi was healing her.
Zak clenched his fists and fought his territorial instincts when Remi lowered his head and took the girl’s mouth.
“Why the fuck is he kissing her,” Seth snapped.
Zak’s eyes narrowed, looking closely where Remi’s lips met the Arborian witch’s. Fire flowed from his lips into her mouth. He was breathing his healing fire into her. Remi’s green eyes looked up and locked with Zak’s.
“It’s okay, Rem,” Zak whispered to him. “I trust you.”
The fire vanished, leaving her whole, but unconscious in Remi’s arms.
“Why isn’t she moving?” Zak reached out to take her back.
His arms brushed against Remi’s bare flesh as the weredragon leaned into him to release the girl gently. “Her body has shut down for now. She’s only asleep,” Remi assured. “Let’s get her back to Alpha 7.”Chapter Four
Warmth surrounded her. She tried to move, open her eyes, but her body refused to obey. Alluna whimpered. Strong arms tightened around her, the scent of fresh sunshine and wind enveloping her.
“Hush. I’m taking you home with me,” an extremely deep voice said near her ear. She should have felt fear, but she didn’t. Lips brushed over her forehead. “No one will ever hurt you again. I’ll care for you.”
She longed to see who spoke to her, but the comforting embrace of darkness pulled her deeper into oblivion.
She remained in a dreamless, floating state until the distinct feel of the sun warming her face roused her. A gentle breeze caressed her face and soft grass tickled her arms and neck.
Alluna let out a soft moan as she struggled to open her eyes. The bright blue of the sky overhead was blinding. She blinked, turning her head to the side as the breeze blew a lock of her dark hair across her cheek.
Alluna frowned. All around her were plants and flowers she’d never seen in her life. A few paces from her, a lake of deep turquoise water glittered like a jewel. Sitting up, Alluna swept her unruly tresses from her face, feeling fear creep up her spine. Where was she? What happened? She didn’t even think she was on her planet anymore.
As she struggled to sit up, someone cleared their throat, making Alluna snap her head in the direction of the sound.
A black boot, twice the size of her own foot, settled near her elbow. Alluna couldn’t help but gape as she looked up past outrageously long muscled legs, feet of long waving blond hair streaming across a chiseled torso clad in black to the face of an angel.... An angel with fiery sapphire eyes and dimples bracketing his mouth.
His rose-kissed lips moved. “Are you feeling better?”
The sound of his voice startled her. Deep, like rolling thunder before a storm. It sent a shiver of terror through her. Dragon.
The memory of the dream she’d had flashed through her mind.
He knelt by her side, the blue of his eyes mesmerizing. Caramel lashes dipped in gold swept down, and he licked his enticing lips before smiling at her. Her gaze went from watching his pink tongue dart out to wet lush lips to the beguiling dimples that creased his cheeks when he grinned.
“Are you hungry?”
Alluna tore her eyes from the sight of his full mouth to watch his hand rise. Cupped within long, thick fingers was an unfamiliar fruit, its skin a deep, almost glowing red with tiny flecks of gold. Forbidden fruit.
Was this the demon wreaking havoc on her planet, sending the torrential rains and ruining the village crops? The villagers had thought her responsible. They had tossed her....
Alluna gasped, and looked back at the giant’s face.
They had tossed her into the dark pit in the Misty Mountains. Mama had said that a fire-breathing demon lived there and preyed on young maidens. But he looks like an angel.
Again, the vision of a golden dragon whispered through her thoughts.
The breeze blew his wild tresses out, making her breath catch. He was too beautiful, too perfect.
Alluna slapped the fruit out of his hand and scrambled to her feet. Leaves and branches whipped at her legs and arms as she dashed into the strange forest.
“Wait,” he called. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
Alluna’s feet flew over the ground, her breath hammering in and out of her parted lips. Snapping her head back, she peered over her shoulder to see if he followed.
The breath was knocked out of her lungs when she slammed into what felt like a rock wall. Alluna’s teeth rattled as she fell back. Wincing in anticipation of slamming into the ground, she was suddenly jerked upright. A startled scream tore from her throat.
Her head tipped far back since she barely came to the middle of his chest. Alluna spread her fingers over bulging pectorals as she gaped into the angel’s impossibly blue eyes.
“I’ve got you,” he said softly, his arms holding her. Alluna felt completely engulfed when a swath of his silky blond hair spilled over her shoulder.
She stared wide-eyed up at him, fear paralyzing her brain and ability to speak.
His fingers sank into her hair, cupping the back of her head. “You’re so beautiful,” he whispered.
Again, he licked his lips and stared at her mouth as if he wanted to devour it.
When his head began to descend toward hers, she panicked and lifted her foot, kicking his shin.
He yelped, releasing her to grab his ankle as Alluna ran as fast as she could, her screams ringing out.
She tore through the alien foliage, the bright green leaves and ashy white branches smacking her face as her feet flew over the ground. The bright blue of the sky bewildered her. This was not Arboria, of that she was sure. Though she’d longed to see her golden angel again, the reality scared her spitless. Mama was right. He was so beautiful he had
to be a demon.
“Hey,” he called. “Stop. Let’s talk. Please?”
As she ran, she wondered if her woodland guardians would protect her so far from her planet. Just in case, she began to pray.
The root of a tree made her stumble, and she ended up with a mouth full of grass and dirt. Her hands and knees felt raw, but she scrambled back up quickly. There was a thick branch by her hand as she stood, and she grabbed it. The demon-angel was big, but he’d go down easily enough with one good whack to the head.
She stopped when she reached a rocky wall. Her ragged breathing filled her ears as she peered about for signs of the golden angel.
“Kid yourself not, silly girl,” Alluna admonished herself out loud. “He’s no angel.”
“Actually, he’s an Alpha Angel.”
Alluna screamed when a devil appeared. His hair was the color of fresh blood, thick shaggy spikes growing out in every direction like the corona of a sun. It spilled over his wide shoulders, striking against the intense black of his clothing, much like the golden angel’s. Green eyes sparkled with mischief over a pointy nose that arrowed over a lopsided grin.
Alluna gaped at the two silver hoops that decorated each side of his lower lip. That had to have hurt.
The devil grinned wider, making Alluna frown.
For some unknown reason her hand itched to slap that grin off his pretty face.
The red-haired devil chuckled as if reading her thoughts.
“You are such an asshole,” another deep voice said behind her.
With a gasp, Alluna whirled to come face to face with a silver-haired angel. His eyes were the palest blue she’d ever seen, and he looked extremely angry with the devil.
Now she remembered. These two were the ones she’d seen in her tower room.
Again the devil chuckled, making Alluna grit her teeth and lash out. She sent her fist back, but instead of connecting with the annoying creature, she punched her golden angel in his nose.
“Son-of-a-bitch,” he wailed, clamping his hand over a bloody nose.
Alluna stared, horrified at the amount blood pouring down his chest and forearm from her blow. Her lips worked wordlessly as her mind tried to grapple with the travesty of what she’d just done. His fiery eyes lit upon her, full of pain and annoyance.
Alluna took a step back, terror choking her. Would he beat her? Kill her? Oh, gods.
“You hit me,” He growled, looking briefly at his bloodied hands before pinning her with his hard stare. “Why did you hit me?”
The red-haired devil leaned toward him, staring at him with a grimace. “Dude, I think she broke your nose.”
The golden angel’s hand covered the devil’s face, shoving him away brusquely. “Shut up. This is all your fault,” he snarled with that deep, growly voice of his that set Alluna’s knees shaking and a whimper escaping through her lips.
The devil flailed a moment but regained his balance with a scowl. “Me? What the fuck,” he snorted with a raised brow.
“He told us to wait,” the flaxen-haired angel interjected.
Alluna backed away from the trio and bumped into something.
She turned slowly, letting her eyes trail up another black-clad body. Long, silky hair, like liquid satin the color of the blackest night stirred in the breeze, a few strands flowing over a thick throat. Skin, white as snow, soft dewy pink lips, and eyes that glowed like electric blue fire, Alluna found herself gazing into the face of a god.
Zak gripped Alluna at the same time Devon grabbed her. The girl had taken one look at his commander and fainted dead away.
“Aw, hell, Devon,” Zak grumbled, looking at his commander.
Devon bit the corner of his lip and released Alluna into Zak’s arms. “I-I’m sorry. I forget…” his hand came up to his face with a sigh. “I forget about how I look.”
Devon’s mortification wasn’t lost on Zak.
He opened his mouth to reassure him, but Remi interrupted saying, “What’s wrong with the way you look? The most beautiful humanoid ever created. Second to me, of course,” the red weredragon finished with a smirk.
Zak shook his head and hefted Alluna into his arms.
“This was all wrong,” Zak murmured, looking at the girl in his arms.
“What are you going to do now?” Devon asked.
For an instant, Devon’s eyes glowed a little brighter and Zak had the urge to sneeze. He shook his head to clear it and then looked suspiciously at Devon.
Devon tapped his nose. “Fixed it for you,” he murmured.
Zak wiggled it, feeling no pain. “Thanks.” Hefting the Arborian witch tighter in his arms, he gazed back down at her. “I’m taking her to my quarters. It’s what I should’ve done in the first place.”
“Maybe we should’ve taken her to the holo-room and projected an image of her home planet,” Remi suggested.
“No.” Zak turned away, focusing on his rooms. “I’ve got control of this.”
The image of lush green foliage blurred away to the soothing cream, gold, and black of his quarters. His feet padded softly on the gleaming black marble floors as he passed the frosted glass partition sectioning off his sitting area from his sleeping chamber. With the utmost care, he laid the girl on his round pedestal bed, and stepped back to look upon her with a frown.
Her dark hair looked like a spill of ink on his bed. Zak let his gaze travel up her long legs, his body stirring at the sight of her. He clenched his fists, fighting the urge to strip her bare and just bury himself in her.
His lips pursed, eyes narrowing. Lifting one hand, he used his telekinesis to pull the golden flute from its hidden compartment beneath his bed.
The metal felt warm in his hand as his fingers closed around it.
Zak stared at the flute… the one she’d supposedly used to cast a spell on him.
He clenched his jaw tight, his eyes going back to the dark beauty in his bed... and at his mercy.
“No one enslaves me, little girl,” he whispered.
Alluna ran. She ran for her life. Behind her were devils, ogres, monsters. The stairs beneath her feet were made of stone and she stumbled, her hand going to her belly. In shock, she stared at her rounded belly and felt something within move. Oh, gods.
Terror kept her feet moving until she reached the roof of the castle ruins. The monsters were gaining on her. Far ahead, she realized the bridge connecting the castle towers was destroyed. Still she ran, preferring death than to fall into the clutches of the devils. As she reached the end of the bridge and plummeted over the edge, golden talons closed around her flailing body. A roar rent the air.
Gasping, she jerked awake.
Warmth surrounded her, strong arms held her.
“You’re safe,” a deep voice crooned.
She blinked in confusion. This wasn’t her tower room. The walls were smooth, a pearly cream color with soft muted light receded into the ceiling of the same color. In front of her was a frosted glass wall and she could make out the flickering of fire beyond. In front of the enormous bed she lay upon was another glass wall, but clear, showing nothing but a black star speckled void.
That wasn’t what had her heart jumping up into her throat though. It was the sight of a thick arm wrapped around her middle. A shift of weight behind her and a few tendrils of waving gold whispered over her shoulder, making her look up into fiery sapphire eyes.
“I’m Zachariel. You’re safe. No one is going to harm you,” he said in a soft tone. “Tell me your name, little one.”
“A…” she licked dry lips. “Alluna.”
He cupped her face. “Alluna.” Gold tipped lashes swept down. His thumb swept over her lips, making her shiver. “Did you put a spell on me?”
Her eyes widened. “W-what?”
He reached back, his eyes holding hers. When he drew his hand forward again, he held her flute.
Alluna gasped and tried to grab it from him, her arm looping around his neck when he reared back to keep the flute from her grasp. Her chest pressed tightly against his and their lips were almost touching. Alluna stared into his eyes, deep, dark blue.
“I want to kiss you,” he whispered with a frown, his warm breath fanning her lips.
Alluna blinked up at him. “Kiss me?”
His lips whispered over hers startling her. What a strange place to kiss. Mama had always kissed her forehead or the top of her head. The feel of his soft lips over hers was doing strange things to her belly though.
Mama. Thinking of mama brought back her horrible words and Alluna pushed him away.
“Stop. Get away from me.”
He licked his lips, as if trying to get her taste. That worried Alluna immensely. What if he tried to bite her?
“Why?” He asked.
Alluna swallowed before scowling up at him. “My Mama warned me about you.”
His smile took her by surprise. Gods, but he was so breathtaking.
“And what did your mama say about me?”
“She said that you had cast a spell on me. That you had a vile s-snake between your thighs that would strike out at me, make me bleed and infect me with poison that would make me swell until I exploded and died.”
His smile vanished, sapphire eyes growing round. “Damn.”
Alluna held her breath, hoping he would deny Mama’s words, but he remained mute, looking very uncomfortable.
“Gods,” she choked and tried to roll away from him. It was all true. He did have a snake between his thighs and was going to hurt her.
“Wait. Listen to me,” he demanded pulling her back down. “I don’t have a snake between my legs. No male does. We have cocks.” Alluna gave him a baffled look not knowing what he meant. To her a cock was a big, feathery bird that crowed in the morning. “A penis,” he clarified.
“Well, which is it?” she demanded, suspecting he was lying to her.
He chuckled. “God, you’ve never seen a man naked? Not even a little boy?” His grin faded from his face and he suddenly looked angry. “Have you been locked up in that tower all your life, Alluna?”
“I-I…” Locked? Alluna had never thought of her tower rooms as a prison, but now....
“Look at me,” he ordered.
Her eyes drifted back to him as he rose from the bed and stood next to her.
“You’re going to get your first lesson in male anatomy.”
For a split second, she wondered what he did with the flute, until he gripped the bottom of his black tunic and pulled it over his head. Her mouth went dry and her eyes felt like they were about to pop out of her head. His tresses spilled over his shoulders and chest before he shook it back. He sat down on the edge of the bed and gripped her hand. “Touch me.”
Alluna couldn’t pull her hand free from his grip. He forced her to feel the incredible softness of his skin pulled taut over hard muscle. When he finally released her hand, she let her fingers skim over his nipples. They tightened into little points beneath her fingers. He let out a shaky breath, but didn’t say a word, only watched her hands slide up over his shoulders.
Enormous muscles bulged over each shoulder, and sculpted his arms as well. He was so different from her, the difference like night and day. Alluna slid her hands up the ropey muscles of his arms, letting her fingers sink into the wealth of hair flowing down his back. Her hair, as well as Mama’s, was black. The people she’d seen on her home world also had black tresses. Only her dolls had hair in different colors, but none had hair of gold like....
“Zachariel,” she whispered
“Yes, but those who know me call me Zak.”
Her eyes flitted back to his. His smile was gentle, two small dimples marking his cheeks and tempting her to poke her fingers in them.
Then, his smile faded, and he looked down at her as if deep in thought.
“You will know me, Alluna,” he said after a moment. “I’m going to take care of you. To hell with being spelled or not. This feels good, and right. No one will ever hurt you again. I promise you.” He reached out a finger and traced over her breast. “Look at our differences, Alluna. See what makes me male and you female.”
Alluna shied away from his touch. “I’m sick.”
He frowned. “How so?”
“I’m....” She felt her face grow warm. He was so beautiful, and she was so ugly and deformed.
“My chest is deformed.”
His eyes swept over her as his frown deepened. “Show me.”
Alluna shook her head, embarrassed at showing another her shame.
He cupped her cheek, his gaze softening. “Trust me, Alluna. I want to help you. Show me.”
Alluna sat up, her trembling hands going to her white slip. Her hands faltered at the straps of ribbon, her gaze darting up to his, unsure.
“Show me,” he urged.
Taking a deep breath, Alluna shrugged the straps off her shoulders. If she’d listened to Mama and worn her brace continuously, maybe her swelling wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand. Her deformed breasts spilled from the confines of the white slip, her dusky nipples peaking at the feel of cool air against them. She bit her lip, waiting for him to recoil, or say how awful they looked.
“God, you’re beautiful,” he growled.
Alluna gaped up at him. His eyes were riveted to her breasts.
“How could you say such a thing? Can you not see my deformity?”
He gave her a puzzled look before looking at her chest again. His hand reached out and cupped one swollen breast.
"Alluna, you’re perfection.”
She shook her head, aghast at his words. “My chest has swollen into these two ugly bumps.”
He frowned. “But you’re female. All female’s breasts grow when they come of age.”
Alluna felt shock roll through her. Still, she shook her head. “No.”
“Yes, Alluna,” he insisted. “Most humanoid women develop breasts when they come of age. There are some species that have four, and sometimes six breasts.”
Alluna swallowed hard, glad she only had two ugly bumps. She couldn’t imagine herself with six lumps. How awful.
“Mama is female and she has no ugly bumps.”
His head tilted to the side with a slight frown between his brows. “You’re not deformed, Alluna. Trust me.”
Alluna looked away from his angelic perfection. “I’m still sick,” she murmured feeling sadness rise like a knot in her throat.
Putting a finger under her chin, he tilted her head back to look into her eyes. “Are you in pain?”
Alluna shook her head.
Zak’s thumb swept, feather soft, over her lower lip, making her shiver. “Talk to me, Alluna.”
He stood over her, so big and imposing. She felt he wouldn’t hurt her—felt it in her heart. She longed to bare her soul to him. “I-I sometimes bleed.”
“Where do you bleed?”
Her face flushed hot now. When she tried to look away, he pinched her chin and forced her gaze to remain on him. Alluna’s heart felt as though it were about to pound out of her chest. He waited patiently for her to show him where she bled.
“Between m-my legs,” she whispered through numb lips.
His sapphire eyes narrowed. “Show me.”
Had his hand not been holding her chin, her jaw would have dropped open. “But I’m not bleeding right now.”
“I still want to see,” he said huskily.
She laid back and pulled the hem of her slip up her thighs. She’d never bared herself this way to anyone. Why did he want to see her there? She bit the corner of her lip and gazed up at him from beneath her lashes.
His smile was gentle. “Good. Now show me where you bleed.”
Alluna hesitated, but then opened her thighs to him. “Th-there.”
He just stared at the juncture of her thighs. When his eyes finally looked back into hers, she noticed that his pupils had dilated wide, making the blue of his eyes seem darker. “Do you know what that is, Alluna?”
“I-it’s my pee-hole.”
Zak bit his lip as if trying not to laugh. “Baby, that’s not your pee-hole. It’s your vagina.”
“Your vagina. Where… it’s what makes you a girl. Your bleeding is completely natural, but I can fix that if you don’t like it.”
“Y-you can cure me?”
“I can.” He put his hand on her knee, gazing between her open thighs again. There was a strange hunger in his expression that made her want to spread her legs wider for him. The impulse confused her and made her close them instead.
Sapphire eyes lifted to hers again. He licked his lips and straightened to his full height. “Now I’m going to show you what makes me a… boy.”
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<a href="https://www.lushstories.com/stories/supernatural/the-witch-and-the-dragon-part-2.aspx">The Witch and the Dragon, Part 2</a>