Authors: Ophelia Bell
Tags: #Paranormal, #Romance, #dragon shifter
Copyright 2014 by Ophelia Bell Cover design by Dawné Dominique All rights reserved.
atching the sun rise behind the Eiffel Tower made Aurik itch to fly again. Even though he and his sister had just ended a night-long outing over the darker countryside outside Paris, the desire to stretch his wings and feel the wind caressing his scales lingered. He longed to fly into the bright warmth of the sun, but it was too risky in the changed world the dragons had awoken to.
The balm to his itch moved up beside him on their building’s rooftop and he glanced over at Dimitri, whose clean profile was cast in a golden glow from the emerging sun on the horizon. He looked tired, having likely waited up for the Twins to return from their nightly flight. Impulsively, Aurik threaded his fingers through Dimitri’s and tightened his grip. Dimitri smiled without taking his eyes off the vista and squeezed back. Aurik’s twin sister stepped to the other side of their lover and slipped her arm around Dimitri’s waist, leaning her head against his shoulder.
The trio stood that way for what seemed an eternity of boundless, beautiful seconds. Nothing existed but the three of them and the gilded city that surrounded them.
Too soon the peace of their communion was shattered by the sound of the world coming to life. A different kind of excitement filled Aurik at the growing familiarity of the new sights and sounds he lived with. The life this changed world was filled with gave him hope that his own race would soon catch up to new ways of thinking.
Hands tugged at him and he reluctantly tore himself away from the view. It wasn’t only excitement but a kind of dread that filled him now.
“Come on,” Dimitri said. “Let’s get today over with and move on with our lives. The last five are scheduled throughout the day. One of them will be
, I guarantee it.”
Aurik forced himself to resist grumbling. “
are the only one.”
“Right, and I’m not going anywhere. She’ll be the one if she’s open to our arrangement and willing to stay mum about it in mixed company. I’m sure she exists and I’m sure you’ll charm her pants off, whoever she is.”
“The only reason I’m doing this is to stay near you. If the Council wasn’t threatening to make me leave, I’d be just fine never reproducing. Once the Verdanith is assembled, you and Aurin can have a dozen children. I’ll be the happy, corrupting uncle to all of them.”
“I’ve always wanted a sister,” Aurin interjected, shoving Aurik’s outfit at him. “Find one I would like, too, alright brother?”
Aurik raised an eyebrow at his twin. “I don’t think you want a
, sister. You want your own plaything because Camille doesn’t visit often enough.”
Aurin’s gaze grew distant and she flushed. Not from embarrassment, he was sure of it, but from arousal. She gathered herself and looked him in the eyes. “Camille needs a break from Eben and Roka just as much as I need a break from the two of you. We enjoy each other, and yes, I’d love to have someone like her who didn’t live halfway around the world.”
With that, she turned and walked toward the door. “I’m sure the two of you can handle the appointments today. I’ll be around,” Aurin said, batting her eyelashes demurely at Dimitri.
Dimitri’s look of avid interest followed her out the door. Aurik couldn’t read his lover’s mind but was dead certain Dimitri was remembering Camille’s last visit and the fun she and Aurin had had—and Dimitri’s all too eager participation in said fun. Aurik’s laugh made Dimitri snap back to focus on the task at hand.
“Hurry up and get dressed,” Dimitri said irritably.
The series of blind dates that day were no more productive than any of the previous ones had been. Dimitri had painstakingly assembled a roster of the most beautiful, if slightly deviant, women from a collection of dating services. He had emphasized discretion as well as a desire for a long-term relationship at all of them. This was not about sex, especially not for Aurik who had very little interest in women as it was.
“You told me you’d been with women before,” Dimitri said. “So what was wrong with these women?” He picked at his dinner in frustration, exhausted after another pointless day struggling to find the one woman who would ensure Aurik didn’t get sent to the Monastery to live in servitude for breaking the Council’s laws. When the trio had stated their case months earlier, the Council hadn’t been happy that the twins had taken matters into their own hands. Both Twins had marked Dimitri during the ritual. He’d awakened them both, which was the first unprecedented action. He was supposed to choose one or the other, but couldn’t bring himself to. He needed them both. And both had marked him as their mate.
The Dragon Council had given an ultimatum. Since Aurin had marked Dimitri first, they decreed that Dimitri’s other lover find a human mate and nullify his dragon mark on Dimitri, or have his magic bound and his wealth revoked and split between his siblings.
The looming threat of losing one of his lovers had been eating at Dimitri ever since, and time was quickly running out. He raked his fingers through his hair and sighed. Aurik stared back at him with a pained expression.
“Nothing is wrong with the women. I just can’t bring myself to want them, in any way, as long as I have you. You fulfill me.”
“Well, was there something special,
, about the women you have been with that you loved most?”
Aurik refilled his wine glass from the nearly empty bottle nearby. He appeared to contemplate the answer in the burgundy liquid. “My parents were thieves,” he said, and Dimitri came close to reaching out and strangling him with the collar of his shirt, but restrained himself. Aurik liked telling stories, so Dimitri downed his drink, refilled it, and sat back to listen.
“I thought your mother was First Shadow,” he said.
Aurik nodded. “Yes, but that wasn’t how she amassed the bulk of the wealth that belongs to the three of us now. She mated a Sultan when she awakened, but he feared her too much to breed. So she mated others. Kol’s father was a spy for a nobleman. But my father was a cat burglar, a pastime he didn’t give up after meeting our mother. She caught him stealing from her and his skills impressed her so much she decided to employ him to steal from her enemies.”
“How did her mate feel about her interest in this thief?”
“Amused, mostly, but soon he got involved, too. I think he grew bored with intrigue and saw the fun Mother and her new pet were having together. He would do the reconnaissance for a heist, and Mother and Father would ghost in and take the spoils. And because of Mother’s influence, no one was ever the wiser. They took from so many, but they also gave infinitely more. Love to each other and their children. Protection to the citizens, even to the subjects of their enemies during the various wars. The women I was most drawn to were givers, nurturers, protectors. They always deeply cared about those close to them, without expecting anything in return.”
“But any one of those women might be like that. You can’t know until you get to know them better.”
“Not one of the women you have introduced me to gave any indication that she thought about more than herself. That she had any desire beyond her own desire for a mate. Even your trick questions only produced superficial answers. Perhaps they just weren’t the right questions, but they were all pretty telling.”
If you had a life span of centuries and wealth beyond imagining, how would you spend your time?
Dimitri thought it had been a clever question. The million-dollar question, as it were. He had cataloged all the answers himself and Aurik was right. Not one of the women had answered in more than the most frivolous way. Some may have had more down to earth answers than others, but they were all very self-centered. He’d been a fool trying to appeal to Aurik’s more hedonistic nature. But there were depths to his lovers he was still discovering. As much as the Twins relished physical pleasures—food, sex, music—they were acutely aware of both the suffering and rejoicing that was ever more prevalent among the human race than it was when they were young.
“I’ll try again,” Dimitri said. “I’ll rework the questionnaire and we’ll find her for you. She is out there.”
Aurik’s expression darkened. “No. If I can’t have you then I’m better off alone, I think. It would be a disservice to any woman I did choose to bring her into such a permanent prison with a man who didn’t truly love her.”
“Goddamnit! I don’t want to lose you any more than you want to leave. We still have a few months.”
“I would rather not waste these months searching for something that may not even exist, my love. Let us enjoy what we have until we must part. Please.”
Dimitri hated the utter resignation on Aurik’s face and in his bearing. They left the restaurant, both quiet and subdued.
Aurin greeted them at their shared penthouse apartment, her face eager for happy news, then abruptly resolute. Dimitri was sure a brief message passed silently between the Twins, but had given up objecting to their covert volleys. They would share if they meant him to know. Besides, he was fairly certain what the exchange entailed and didn’t mind not having to talk about it any more than absolutely necessary.
Dimitri took Aurin desperately in his arms, her embrace only a slight comfort in the face of the looming threat of losing one half of the pair that had brought him back from the brink of self-destruction after the death of his brother. The parallel wasn’t lost on him, and he wasn’t sure if he could survive another relationship crumbling to pieces when one crucial facet of it disappeared.
Would he and Aurin be able to survive her brother’s absence? His relationship with Thea had crashed and burned after Alex’s death. No matter how much he loved her, it wasn’t enough.
Aurik would live, at least, but what kinds of empty lives would they have without each other?
Dimitri reached for Aurik and pulled him close, found the sweet lips Dimitri had kissed so many times, relishing the brush of goatee against his own shaved chin. Two pairs of hands tugged at his clothing, pushing his suit jacket off, pulling at his buttons until he stood naked. Somehow he always managed to lose track of them at the beginning of lovemaking, the pair of blond heads seeming interchangeable the way they kissed and touched. They were two halves of a whole to Dimitri, and to remove one of them from his life might well cleave his heart in two.
He regained the awareness of which was which when Aurin’s warm mouth slid down his hard cock. He groaned at the skillful pull of her tongue against his flesh, but it was too soon. With a solid grip on her chin he pushed her back. She stood and pressed herself close, his chest tickled by her small, pert breasts and their hard, dark peaks. Aurik’s larger presence embraced him from behind, erection pressed solidly against Dimitri’s ass, but in spite of their intense arousal, the embrace only meant comfort to all of them.
The trio stumbled naked the few steps to the sofa and fell in a tangle of limbs into the deep cushions. Aurin’s smooth body weighed Dimitri down from behind and Aurik caught him, embracing him.
Aurik clutched his face as his slick, velvety tongue wrapped itself around Dimitri’s tongue. Dimitri moaned at the stroking pull of the one dragon appendage he still viewed with novelty. Their tongues were the things that differentiated them the most from his past human lovers, and that gave him the most pleasure. God, he thought he could come just from this kiss. He threaded his fingers through the silken lengths of Aurik’s hair and pressed his hips tighter. Their erections throbbed in tandem, surging and brushing against each other between them. A glimmer of hot wetness slid across Dimitri’s belly, cooling in the air. He wasn’t sure whether it was evidence of his own need or Aurik’s, but it didn’t matter.
Aurin’s smooth caresses persisted, her kisses beginning at his shoulders and moving downward. Her soft breasts a luxurious brush against his heated skin. She worked her way down his back, each touch a perfect tingling counterpoint to Aurik’s more persistent contact against the front side of him.
She lingered at the top of the cleft of his ass, her tongue a torturous distance above where he wanted it to be. Goddamn did they love to torture him sometimes. He shifted his hips, hoping to get her moving lower, but she laughed softly and sank her teeth into his right ass cheek instead.
“Sister, don’t torture him too much.”
The vocal admonition was unusual between the twins, but welcomed, particularly when Aurik gripped his ass and pulled him even tighter, spreading his cheeks for his sister to work her magic in between.
“Oh, God,” Dimitri groaned against Aurik’s mouth, nearly certain he would come this time, but Aurin slowed down to a steady tease, her tongue switching between a slow caress of his balls and a tease of his ass. She delved in so intently he lost himself, until she withdrew her tongue from his ass so abruptly he nearly cried out an objection.
Aurik pushed Dimitri up, raising them into a sitting position, never leaving off with his urgent kisses. Dimitri followed his lead, accustomed now to the Twins’ telepathic link and their wordless choreographic direction of their lovemaking. They always managed to surprise and please him in different ways.
Aurik shifted to sit upright against the back of the sofa. He slid one hand down Dimitri’s side to his hip, urging him to turn and straddle his legs.
To Dimitri, the only thing better than fucking either of the Twins alone was being fucked by Aurik at the same time Aurin worked his cock. He slid one leg across Aurik’s lap and settled back with his ass resting on Aurik’s thighs, careful not to sit too snuggly. Aurin knelt between his spread legs and raised her face to him in supplication.
With a pang of despair he leaned forward and kissed her upturned face, sinking his tongue between her lips. He rejoiced silently when Aurik’s fingers invaded, delicately prodding before sliding deep into the tight, sensitive channel. The token bit of foreplay was far from necessary after Aurin’s attention with her talented tongue, but Dimitri would never object. He leaned farther forward, bracing his weight on Aurin’s shoulders while Aurik positioned his cock.