Feel the Burn Page 99

“Enough food. But where are the musicians? The talk? Everyone is happy and talking at Queen Annwyl’s feasts. Here it is like someone died. Has someone died? Are you mourning? Then we should mourn with you. Nina Chechneva!” Zoya barked, slamming her fist on the table. “Sing the song of death to honor our hosts!”

That’s when Nina Chechneva stood and began . . . wailing. It was musical wailing, but it was definitely wailing. A grating, painful wailing with a strange backbeat.

Aidan’s grin was a sight to behold. Big and happy. He couldn’t be more pleased. Yet his kin . . . not nearly as happy. Not even close.

Nina stopped and the wailing seemed to be over, until she ordered, “Now everyone!”

Then all the Riders began to wail. Musically.

Gaius had to drop his head, especially when he realized that Brannie was shaking next to him. She was so desperately trying not to laugh, but the tears falling into her lap betrayed her failure.

“We do not have a death!” Gormlaith finally yelled out. “There is no reason to sing the song of... whatever.”

“The song of death—”

“I don’t care,” Gormlaith cut in. She cleared her throat. “Because no one has died. So . . . no need for any of it. We, here, are just more . . . reserved than the human queen of the Southlands. That’s the dragon way.”

“Is it?” Zoya asked, clearly surprised. “Brannie, she is dragon. She dances, yes, Brannie? Dances and drinks!”

“Well, Branwen the Awful is . . . is . . .”

“Low Born?” Aidan asked. “Is that what you mean, Mother?”

“Can’t we just eat and enjoy our meal? Or must you ruin everything?”

“I don’t have to ruin everything . . . but I can—”

“Or,” Brannie cut in, desperately wiping tears from her face, “we could just eat.” She chuckled a little more. “This does look good.”

“And so does that,” Caswyn grumbled under his breath, his eyes looking past the empty throne-like chair.

She was shy, eyes cast down, her long gold hair parted in the middle but managing to hide a good portion of her face, hands laced in front of her, shoulders curved. But no matter how hard she might try, she couldn’t hide the beauty of her human body. And, Gaius would guess, in her natural form, she would be stunning.

Aidan immediately stood, placed his hands on the back of Caswyn and Uther’s necks and snarled, “That’s my baby sister.” Then he slammed their heads into the table.

“Understand?” he asked the friends who were now rubbing growing knots on their foreheads.

They nodded, however, even as they winced.


The warning given, Aidan rushed to his sister’s side, leading her to a chair next to Brannie. Then he forced Caswyn and Uther to move so he could sit on his sister’s other side.

“King Gaius,” Aidan said, grinning, “this is my baby sister, Orla. Orla, this is King Gaius Lucius Domitus.”

“Lady Orla,” Gaius said, nodding his head, noting the pride on Aidan’s face. “And, please let me introduce you to my friends—”

“Later!” Lady Gormlaith barked. But she quickly cleared her throat and forced a smile before again saying more calmly, “Later. Why don’t we enjoy our lovely meals first?”

“Of course,” Gaius obliged.

Kachka leaned over and softly whispered in his ear, “You are what charming Celyn calls, ‘a bit of a dick.’”

“No, no,” Gaius corrected. “I’m a major dick.”

“The food,” Zoya announced, “it tastes also like you are mourning. Are you sure no one is dead?”

That’s when Nina Chechneva offered, “I can sing song of death again.”

“No!” most of the Foulkes de chuid Fennahs yelled.

Nina shrugged. “Fine, but let me know if you change mind.”

They were halfway through their meal—and Zoya was right, the food at this place was bland, not like the food of Queen Annwyl—when guards marched into the hall. They preceded an older man or, Kachka was guessing, a dragon in human form. His gold hair was streaked with silver, and he moved quickly, glaring as he stomped to his chair. He dropped into it, gold eyes glowering at the entire table. Kin and stranger alike.

“Why are we sitting here, eating like humans?”

“A feast in honor of King Gaius Lucius Domitus, my love,” Gormlaith easily replied, most likely used to the moods of her mate. “He brought with him some humans, so it seemed like a good idea to enjoy a meal together.”

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