Excerpt from published work, SEADRAGON: A DRAGON'S KEEP STORY .
“What are you doing here, really?”
He ate with quick bites and fast swallows of toast. The silence stretched out and Anika smiled at the fact he didn’t have a fast come back. It was a rarity to cause Draco to become quiet. For a brief moment she wondered if he’d heard her, but the fact he kept his gaze on the table’s wrought iron patterns, told her he contemplated her words.
She’d finished her coffee when Draco pushed his plate away.
“Anika, I am sorry. Let me start at the beginning. After the last meeting with the detectives, I was cleared. My father ordered me to return to our clan’s keep. In fact, my brother, Ryuu—you met him, had direct orders from the council for me to return.”
He got up and walked around the table to her. Getting on his knees beside her chair, he took one of her hands into his. With his face upturned to her, he continued. “It was an order I could not ignore.
Trust me. The last thing I wanted to do was be apart from you.”
Warmth burned inside her from his sincerity. His words had become almost physical. She didn’t understand the politics of dragon shifter clans, but from her own independent readings she’d been able to gleam that they operated separate despite being imbedded in various democratic countries—maybe even some non-democratic ones. Still, she did understand that he couldn’t just walk away on his volition without consequences.
He rubbed her hand. It felt good there, but she had more questions.
“Okay, I think I can understand. You followed orders. I don’t get why you didn’t call, email, or text me. I, I was very worried about you.”
He kissed her hand and held it to his face. “I couldn’t. I was forbidden to contact anyone. Not to go into too much detail, but I was practically sequestered. They wanted to make sure I didn’t cause any more…trouble.”
She heard the hesitation and damn it, a bit of shame in his tone. He had been exonerated.
Surely, his people took that into consideration. “Draco…”
“I’m all right.” He kissed her hand again.
Then it hit her.
“Are you supposed to be here, now?” Her gut rolled hard because she already knew the answer. If they’d kept him at his keep, forbidden him from leaving, and created a sort of house arrest, no wonder he couldn’t contact her. That probably meant he shouldn’t be here.
“I still have a full packet of bacon in the fridge. You want more?” He got to his feet, but still held her hand.
“You aren’t, are you? What kind of trouble are you in for coming down here?” She got up too. He started to turn away from her, but she gently guided him back around to face her.
He smiled, a small one, nearly a smirk. “What makes you think I’m in trouble?”
“Because you’re here against the will of your clan.”
“I don’t know or care. I need to be here with you.” He pulled her closer, and she could feel the tension in the room shift. “I’m here because I’m in love with a beautiful and talented woman who I could not stand to be away from for another second.”
“I see.” She couldn’t think of another thing to say. The roaring thunder of her rushing blood made thinking difficult. Se focused on his hands around her waist, and his head dipping down ever closer to her lips. Almost automatically, her eyes closed and she felt his breath a second before his lips made contact with her own, drawing her in to him.
Time stopped to observe this moment, and she imagined fireworks exploding overhead. Yes, dramatic, perhaps even cliché, but now she understood what those romantic clichés had tried to convey. Nothing she could say would accurately describe this moment, the feelings coursing vibrantly through her, and the intense swelling of her heart. It began timid and cautious. He tasted like apple butter with a hint of desire. Butterflies roused in her stomach, and she placed her hands in his hair, feeling the strands glide through her hands. Their lips parted, allowing him greater access to her mouth. She also gave him greater access to her heart, and he obliged, accepting her invitation by deepening it into a smoldering kiss. Her stomach quivered and her knees felt weak. She melted into his arms, a putty of human passion and a mass of molten emotion.
His hands held her fast to him, nearly crushing her into his solid torso.
She never wanted him to let her go.
This was completely worth it.
Draco sighed as Anika broke the kiss. He opened his eyes to find her smiling at him, every lap of water he had to swim to reach the North Carolina coast. He loved how sweet and salty she tasted—a combination of bacon and coffee. He wanted to nibble her lip and suck on their plumbness.
“What’s wrong?” He felt her pull gently out of his embrace, but he held her firm.
She shrugged out of his embrace, and began picking up their dirty breakfast dishes. “Nothing.
That was one hell of a kiss.”
Confused, he followed her lead and cleaned off the table too. He helped her load the dishwasher.
“So, are you mad because I kissed you?”
Her tone came too fast, too cheery for it to be real. Something nagged at her. “So…”
She poured the liquid dishwashing liquid and stood up. Pressing the dishwasher’s ON button, Anika put her hand on her hip. “Why did you kiss me?”
“Because I love you.”
“That kiss, D, that wasn’t a ‘we’re friends’ kind of a kiss.”
“You know?” Her eyebrow shot into her hair.
That shouldn’t have surprised her. Didn’t she know? “Ani, I’m in love with you. I left the keep to come here to be with you. I couldn’t stand the distance, the not speaking to you…”
“Please, Draco. Kill the drama.”
He cupped her face with both his hands, and brushed her lips with his. How could he get it across to her that she meant his world? His everything? He’d risked the wrath of his tribe and his father to be here with her.
“That’s nice,” she purred and leaned in to receive another kiss.
He obligated. “Very.”
She ran her fingers lightly across his chest and down his abdomen. Her touch forced his muscles to clinch and tighten. She left a trail of heat in their wake. His beast came awake, and Draco’s arousal did too. Her scent filled his senses, drowning him in her pheromones. Bathed in her, he swept her up into his