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We’ll Bonnie and Clyde it until the day we die.
This is book one of the Valladares Family Saga. The Valladares and Balzan families are about to merge in a way that was previously unheard of.
Caution: This novella may contain situations of violence and too hot for your Kindle scenes, though not together.
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A pocket full of ashes,
Fallen leaves on the ground,
Dragonfire, burning pyres,
And her light could not be found.
~ Ashford archives.
“That’s Pica, she’s nice.” Seraph screwed up her nose. “Mostly nice, sometimes grouchy. Best to stay away from her.” She pointed through the hut window at the next group of elves to pass by. “Kallyn, Jibiha, and Dren. They’re hunters but they’re sort of the hunters you want at your back during a long night’s trek. They would have been assassins only they didn’t make the cut, you know?”
Lysander wasn’t sure if he knew, but he could imagine what she meant. The elves she’d singled out were stockier than most of the others he’d observed passing by the hut, like they routinely spent a few hours a day lifting felled trees for the fun. Heavier than Eroan, they’d be the kind of males Lysander would have recruited for his own flights, had they been dragons.
Seraph went on, singling out who to avoid and who was the least likely to try and stab Lysander in the back. Most Orders assassins were to be avoided at all costs, despite many of them having helped save Lysander when the dragon tower fell three days ago. Lysander listened, forgetting names but absorbing all he could when it came to navigating what could easily be his home for the next few weeks or months. He suspected elven society was trickier than dragon society. At least with dragons, if one intended to kill you, you knew about it. Here, all the elves wore smiles, even those who sharpened their dragontooth blades.
“Oh, there’s Janna!” A broad grin warmed Seraph’s animated face. “She’s really nice.” Lysander turned his attention to the female elf with green-tinged hair passing outside. Clearly heavy with child, she had slung a bow and quiver over her shoulder and looked as though she was heading out of the village to hunt.
“Her and Eroan are like this.” Seraph entwined her two little fingers.
Lysander frowned. “Like what?”
“Like this, see.” She wiggled her locked fingers, as though that would help clear up his confusion.
“I have no idea what that—” he mirrored the little-finger hooks “—means.”
“Friends, you dolt.” She chuckled but on seeing Lysander’s wary smile her laughter faded. “Don’t dragons have friends?” Her bright eyes saddened, making something hurt inside Lysander’s chest.
He pushed away from the window and drifted about the small hut. Eroan’s hut. After three days, he knew every inch of it. It smelled of cut wood and pine, of Eroan.
“She’s with Ross now. He’s okay, I guess,” Seraph continued. “She thought Eroan was dead when… you know… when he didn’t—”
“Yeah, I know.” Lysander had thought Eroan dead too. And then there had been a time Eroan had believed Lysander dead. They’d been through enough. It should have been enough, and yet Lysander couldn’t shake the feeling that what they had, this small pocket of calm, was just the breathless moment before it was all ripped away.
He trailed his fingers along the backs of the hand-made wooden chairs, along the tabletop and down the reed doors covering cupboards. Eroan had made it all, carved it and crafted it with his own hands, like the dragon pendant Lysander wore around his neck. He didn’t deserve all this. Three days, and he knew this life couldn’t be for him. But he wished it was. He wished it so hard when he waited for Eroan to return from his Order duties, afraid that this night, Eroan wouldn’t return.
These walls. This place. He’d been in cages, been kept behind bars, both real and mental, but this village and these elves were a different kind of torture. It would end, like all good things ended, and he didn’t think his battered heart could take it. The longer he stayed, the more he wanted to stay, and the more it would hurt when it was over.
“Have you seen Eroan?” he asked.
“I, er…” Seraph straightened and rubbed at her arm, “He’s been really busy.” She ran her fingers through her long hair and gathered it all over one shoulder, twisting it, giving her hands something to do. “The humans are still here and he feels he needs to be at the center of it all. You know how he is.”
Lysander gave her a shallow smile. “It’s fine. I know. His people need him.” But Lysander needed him too, and although Eroan had returned every day, his visits were brief. He seemed… distant. Distracted. But maybe that was how things were here. Lysander didn’t know how Eroan lived. He didn’t know how any of them really lived their lives. He didn’t know much about elves at all and being told to stay in the hut like a good pet dragon made the unknown just outside that door seem all the more tempting.
Seraph had seen where his gaze tracked. “It’s for your own safety.”