Feel the Burn Page 63

“Everything’s fine,” he promised, since it was. He and Kachka had no commitment beyond what they’d done the night before. In fact, he doubted that woman would make a commitment to any male if she could avoid it. “But it’s going to be a long flight, and I need to go. I just didn’t want to disappear without saying anything to you or Queen Annwyl.”

Dagmar stood from the table and walked to his side. Her voice low, she said, “Is it Kachka Shestakova? Rumor has spread that you were with her last night, and although I am greatly concerned about your taste in females, I can have her killed if she’s displeased you in some way. Do you need me to have her killed?”

Shocked and also trying not to laugh, Gaius shook his head. “That’s not really . . . necessary.”

“Are you sure? It would be my extreme pleasure.”

“No . . . no. Really . . . no.”

“Then why the rush to leave if she hasn’t yet again destroyed some male’s good name?”

“Because I have an empire to run?”

“Something I know your sister can handle in your absence, but I understand your not wanting to be here unless necessary. In case that evil heifer returns.”

“Or I just want to go home. But whatever.”

“Understood,” she said, straightening her back, regal as always. “But, of course, you’ll still need to have an escort.”

“That’s not really necess—”

“Brannie!” the tiny woman bellowed, causing Gaius to jump a bit.

“I’m up!” Branwen the Awful announced as she bounced to her feet from behind the banister at the top of the stairs. Her shoulder-length hair was . . . everywhere. Her pretty brown eyes red rimmed. Her human skin alarmingly pale. “I’m up. No need to scream so.”

“King Gaius is returning home today. You’ll need to accompany him. Bring a few Mì-runach with you to ensure his safety.”

Branwen nodded. “Of course.” She turned and began kicking something that started grunting and cursing. “Get up, you sorry lot! We have to move.”

After she did that, she came down the stairs, and stopped in front of Gaius.

“King Gaius, I will be happy to . . . happy to . . .” She covered her mouth with one hand and held up a finger with the other.

Gaius took a step back and let her dart past him so that she could throw up outside. A few seconds later, most of the Mì-runach quickly followed her out.

“Don’t worry,” Dagmar said. “From what I’ve heard of Rider wine, they should be fine in a day or two.”

“That does give me great ease, Lady Dagmar.”

She patted his shoulder before returning to her papers. “Don’t think for a second I don’t hear that mocking tone, m’lord.”

An accusation that just made him laugh, because how could he not laugh at the Southlanders?

Chapter Seventeen

Gaius shifted to human and took the clothes handed to him by a servant before stalking down the palace halls to his throne room. The guards protecting the doors saw him coming and immediately shoved the thick wood open.

With Brannie the Awful and several Mì-runach behind him, he walked into the throne room. Aggie jumped up and ran over to him, throwing herself into his arms. He held his twin tight and swung her in a circle.

“Out!” he ordered those waiting to meet with his sister.

The humans and dragons in human form quickly walked out.

But Brannie and the Mì-runach still stood there, peering around the large throne room, completely oblivious. Gaius knew for a fact that, in battle, Brannie was amazing. Yet when it came to the more social graces . . . yeah, well . . . huh.

Brannie focused on Aggie, brown eyes blinking.

“Do be kind,” Gaius told his sister. “That Cadwaladr saved your life once.” Then, to the captain, he said gently, “Could you excuse us, Branwen?”

“Oh! Of course!” She motioned to the Mì-runach. “Come on, you lot. Let’s give them some privacy.”

The Mì-runach who’d traveled with Brannie and Gaius exited the room, but those who’d been guarding Aggie did not move.

Brannie glared. “Move your asses,” she ordered.

“We don’t report to you, Captain.”

Uh-oh, Gaius silently told his sister. She’s going to blow.

Brannie had her hand around the offending dragon’s throat, her blade nearly out of its sheath when Aidan the Divine, who’d also escorted him here with his Mì-runach brethren Uther and Caswyn, came back into the throne room and quickly separated the pair.

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