Feel the Burn Page 25

“It’s sticky.”

“That’s blood. I just ate. Go down lower.”

“Disgusting.”

“I don’t mean that low.”

With a heavy sigh, Kachka walked around the dragon. His scales were the color of steel. His horns curled down and the tips pointed in toward the middle of his snout. His wings were tucked under his body. And his hair wasn’t nearly as long as the Southlanders, reaching only to his shoulders. It was also steel-colored.

She went under his forearm and pressed her hand against the scales.

That’s when Gaius Domitus giggled and turned away from her.

Kachka reared back. “What are you doing?”

“I’m ticklish there!”

“You are a king!”

“And ticklish!”

She made the rather long walk back to his snout and her bear. “Pathetic,” she tossed at him before she cut her bear down.

He rolled onto his belly, grinning at her, all those fangs flashing in the suns. “Now you sound like my aunt.”

He went up on all fours, shook himself like a dog, wings flapping against him, making a small whirlwind around them.

Kachka waited for him to stop before dropping the fur on top of the bear.

“How long would it take for me to get back to Garbhán Isle from here?” he asked.

“Days.” Kachka tied more ropes around the bear’s skinless ankles. “But old bitch can get you there faster.”

“The Dragonwitch?”

“Yes.”

“How fast?”

“Seconds. Just make sure you do not drink before you leave.”

“Drink what?”

“Anything worth drinking,” which Kachka felt was explanatory enough.

She finished tying the rope strategically around the bear carcass. As she did, she felt flames near her, but paid them no mind since they didn’t actually touch her.

She wound the rope around her arms to make hauling the animal easier, and turned, which was when she came face-to-bloody-chest with the dragon.

“I still haven’t thanked you for saving me,” said the dragon, now in his human form.

Kachka looked up into his handsome face. Horse gods in the field! How unfair that a dragon, of all beings, should be so handsome when human. She could overlook his ridiculous political leanings—as she did with most men—but she could never overlook the fact that underneath all that flesh he had scales.

Scales!

“Again with that?”

He took a step closer and soothing heat came off him in waves. “Yes. Again with that. If it had not been for you and your friends, I would have surely died. Or ended up in a worse situation than I was already in.”

“Oh. I see.” She thought a moment. “True. You should thank me. But we can fix now, yes?” She dropped the rope from her right hand, reached up, catching the back of the dragon’s neck, and yanked him down, taking his mouth hard, sliding her tongue past his lips and teeth. His entire body stiffened in surprise, and as soon as she felt him respond in kind, Kachka pulled back and pushed him away with a shove against his blood-covered chest.

“There,” she said, grabbing hold of the rope again. “Now you have thanked me, dragon.”

She walked off, pulling the bear behind her. As she moved, she did add, “I must admit . . . I thought tongue would be forked.”

She heard him growl behind her. “I am not a snake.”

“So you say,” she countered, grinning. “So you say.”

Gaius watched Kachka Shestakova drag that bear away, leaving a trail of blood as she did.

For a moment, a brief one, he was nothing but angry and annoyed. And then, suddenly, he was smiling. Still tasting her on his lips. Still feeling where her hand, sticky with bear blood, had pressed against the back of his neck.

Gaius took in a deep, wonderful breath.

The suns were shining. His sister was safe. He was alive.

And Kachka Shestakova had the most delightful tongue he’d ever had in his mouth....

Chapter Six

Brigida stared down at the table in the far corner of her private cavern. It was filled with books on all kinds of magicks and potions and rituals.

She stared and waited until she knew she was no longer alone.

“Nina Chechneva, the Unclaimed,” she sneered, slowly turning to face the dark-souled witch creeping around the stone wall into her cavern.

The witch smiled, trying to hide beauty under all that hair and black stuff around her eyes. Trying to make herself look more terrifying.

“And you are Brigida the Foul. My dark gods have told me much about you.”

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