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…
Bickering, the sisters began to head back to the queen’s castle, but Kachka realized that the kitchen staff person was struggling to drag the bison back with her. Annoyed—at everyone!—Kachka grabbed one leg of the dead animal and her sister grabbed the other. Together, they yanked the bison back to the house, arguing all the way, while the girl was forced to run in order to keep up.
“I just don’t understand why you’re so unhappy,” Elina said, yanking the bison over a ridge. “There’s plenty of food and water and soft beds to sleep in.”
“You don’t have to remind me of how pathetic we’ve become, sister.”
“How is enjoying a few amenities pathetic?”
“The fact that you have to ask that upsets me more than you’ll ever know.”
“Then find something to do, Kachka, rather than sitting around glaring at everyone.”
“What can I do here?” Kachka demanded. “What is there for me to do? Farm?” She stopped, glared at her sister. “Is that what you want me to be? A farmer? Like some . . . man? Is that what you think of me? That I’m a worthless man?”
“Of course not! I’d never say that. But perhaps you can talk to the Northlander, Dagmar Reinholdt. She is always up to something.”
“She hates me,” Kachka reminded her sister.
“Well, maybe if you hadn’t fucked her nephew . . .”
“He was there!”
They began dragging the bison carcass again.
“There has to be something constructive you can do,” her sister went on. “I’m sure General Brastias would be more than happy to have you—”
Kachka stopped again, now only a few feet from the queen’s home. “Take orders from a man? Have you lost your mind?” she yelled. “Has everyone lost their mind?”
As if in answer, the queen herself rode up to the steps of the castle, dismounted from her oversized black steed— honestly, who needed that much horse?—walked up a couple of steps, then abruptly stopped.
That’s when the queen suddenly screamed. And screamed. And screamed some more.
Everyone who had been going about their day ran when they heard that scream. Soldiers. Merchants. Nursing mothers. Everyone. They ran and hid.
“That answers my question,” Kachka muttered.
The queen disappeared into her home, and Kachka and Elina finished dragging the bison all the way to the kitchens. Once they dropped it off, they returned to the deserted Main Hall.
Kachka stood there a moment before announcing, “See? There’s nothing to do!”
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.