Dragon's Pride: BBW Paranormal Dragon Romance (3 page)

BOOK: Dragon's Pride: BBW Paranormal Dragon Romance
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Kale

 

Cerul looked much better with his hair tied back. His eyes were large and round, and his jaw was strong and square. Even the stubble that dotted his cheeks was kind of attractive now that I could see the rest of his face.

 

I wondered why he was so against working out. His aunt seemed to really want me there, and for four thousand dollars a month, I really wanted to be there. I especially liked the number of hours I’d be working. I’d have to research and come up with different work-out plans, but essentially I’d only be doing an hour of work a day.

 

With Jersey’s blessing, I put in my notice at both of my jobs and at my apartment. Two weeks later, I was back on Cerul’s door step.

 

“You’re here,” he grumbled as he opened the door.

 

He didn’t sound happy. But his hair was tied back and he was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I marched into the house, confident that he wasn’t completely opposed to letting me help him.

 

After he showed me the spare room where I’d be sleeping, I asked if he was ready to work out.

 

“Now?”

 

“No time like the present!”

 

He shook his head, lips set in a hard line. “Why don’t you settle in, and we’ll do it tomorrow?”

 

“Why don’t I settle in tomorrow, and we’ll do it now? We need to get that booty moving.” I didn’t wait for him, just went ahead to the home gym. I knew he’d be behind me.

 

“My booty doesn’t move,” he muttered, giving me a funny look.

 

“Oh, it’s going to.”

 

Although he didn’t stop complaining, I guided him through a series of warm-up exercises. Then we started to get into the real stuff. “Don’t you want a big round butt?” I asked as he huffed his way through a series of lunges. “They’re not just for girls, you know.”

 

“My butt is perfectly fine, thank you.”

 

“Eight more. You can do it. Girls love a guy with a nice butt.”

 

He shot up out of the lunge, his face twisted in an unreadable expression. He didn’t even speak before leaving, the kitchen door slamming behind him. I waited for him to return, but after a few minutes I heard the shower turn on upstairs. He wasn’t going to come back.

 

What had I done wrong? It had been going so well – even better than I’d hoped. I seemed to have hit a nerve with that comment. Maybe he was particularly sensitive about his butt. Or maybe he was gay! That had to be it. He was offended because I had assumed he was interested in women.

 

I continued doing the work-out I had designed for him, trying to figure out what was going on with Cerul. I had noticed him looking at me in a certain way the other day… a way that would imply he was straight. But who knew? Occasionally guys were into my thickness, but it didn’t happen often. It was more likely that I had misinterpreted the attention than that he was actually into me.

 

When I was finished in the home gym, I made my way to the kitchen. “Sorry if I offended you,” I said.

 

A pizza box lay on the table in front of him, two slices already gone. “It’s okay,” he mumbled, barely looking up.

 

“Guys can love a guy with a nice butt, too. I’m not here to judge or anything.”

 

Cerul dropped his slice on the table. “What? I’m not… what?”

 

It was the most emotion I had gotten out of him. I put one hand on my hip, amused by his confusion. Even if I had been wrong, I intended to entertain myself with this now. “I just figured, since you left after I made that comment…”

 

“No!” he said, waving his hands in the air. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but no. Definitely not. I’m straight.”

 

I nodded, the corners of my lips upturned and one eyebrow raised. If the situation was a little different, I might have been curious just how straight this man could be.

 

“Do you eat this junk every day?” I asked, gesturing at the pizza. “I’m no health nut, but that can’t be good for you.”

 

“Says the girl named after a vegetable. If you want something healthier, you can go get it.”

 

“Okay. I’m going to go out and get a sandwich. You sure you don’t want anything?”

 

He snorted. “I’m good, thanks.”

 

With my day open and nothing better to do, I ended up back at my former gym after I ate my sandwich. As many things as Jersey had bought, the real gym still had more stuff that I wanted to use.

 

The first person I saw was my brother Ricky in the weight room. My second-oldest brother, he was the only one who lived in this city. He had moved here to go to the same community college that I went to, and now we usually had dinner together on weeks when we didn’t run into each other at the gym. He could deadlift more than I could, but our bench press was about the same.

 

“What’s up?” he asked, watching himself do bicep curls in the mirror. “How’s the new job?”

 

I took my place beside him and began to curl slightly smaller weights. “It’s okay. The guy I’m training is a bit strange, but I think he’s getting used to me.”

 

“Guy?” Ricky looked at me in panic. “I thought it was a girl. You’re living alone with some weird guy?”

 

Easing the barbell down, I laughed. “It’s not like that. He’s… well… eccentric, but I don’t think he’d be dangerous.”

 

“I don’t like this. Do Mom and Dad know?”

 

I hadn’t had a full conversation with my parents in weeks. We’d sent the odd email saying hello, but they weren’t the type to ask about every detail of my life. “Not exactly,” I said. “I don’t know what you’re worried about, though. I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”

 

Ricky frowned as he set the weights on the floor. “I want you to keep your cell phone on you at all times, you hear? And keep me on speed dial. There’s something weird about this situation. No one pays that much for that little work without having something else in mind.”

 

Although I tried not to pay attention to my brother’s concerns, I wondered if he might be onto something. It wasn’t like I thought Cerul was planning anything gross. It was so rare for a guy to find me attractive that I hardly believed it was possible. He did have that way of looking at me, but I figured it had to be in my mind.

 

But there was something strange about the whole thing. Jersey was paying me so much money, spending like there was no tomorrow. All for her nephew, who seemed indifferent at best to my presence. An hour of work a day, and a client who didn’t even want me there. There was something happening that I didn’t really understand.

 

“Do me one other favor,” Ricky said. “Ask your old bosses if you can have your jobs back. Just in case you need them.”

 

I started to argue with him, but I could see the truth in what he was saying. It wouldn’t hurt to have a back-up plan. And when I asked my old boss at the front desk, she said of course I could come back. “Anytime you want,” she told me. The sports store said the same.

 

The next morning, I knocked on Cerul’s door at eight in the morning. I’d already been up for two hours waiting for him.

 

“What the hell?” he yelled through the door. “Kale? Tell me that’s not you!”

 

I’d thought I was letting him sleep late. Still, I didn’t take mercy when I realized he was still in bed. “It’s me, all right. Rise and shine! Your new booty is waiting for you to set it free!”

 

His groan was loud and agonized. “I don’t want a new booty!”

 

I tapped my foot impatiently. He wasn’t much to look at now, but he might actually look good when I was done with him. If I could fill out his flat ass and get his muscles back to where they seemed to have been before, he’d actually look okay.

 

“You don’t want one, but you need one! Get up!”

 

The door creaked open, and a shirtless, unhappy Cerul came out. I eyed him as subtly as I could. Yes, he might actually look hot once I had my way with him.

 

“Don’t I ever get a day off?” he complained.

 

“Your aunt isn’t paying me to give you days off. On the days you don’t do weights, you’ll do cardio. I bet Jersey works hard to pay for all of this special treatment for you.”

 

He snorted, but tossed a T-shirt on and followed me. “Jersey doesn’t care about the money,” he said. “She’s got more of it than she knows what to do with.”

 

“Is that so?” It made sense, considering the amount she was clearly spending on him. “What does she do, anyway? She didn’t tell me much about herself.” We hadn’t really chit-chatted the last time I’d seen her. She’d had a contract drawn up, which I’d scanned through and signed. There was nothing in it that caught my eye, so the meeting was a short one.

 

“She doesn’t do much,” Cerul said, taking his place on the elliptical.

 

“Make sure to use your arms, now. Really pump them.” I climbed onto the one beside him. “Rich husband? Or she comes from money? If you don’t mind me asking, that is.”

 

“More like option B, but not really.” My client sighed, and I could tell it wasn’t the machine he was frustrated with. “I used to have money too, until I didn’t.”

 

I pedalled slowly, warming up. Cerul was talking more than usual. I might even have said he was opening up to me. “You lose it in the stock market?” I asked quietly.

 

“No.”

 

Although I didn’t want to push him, my nosiness got the better of me. “How’d you lose it?”

 

Cerul slowed and stopped. “Disinherited,” he said. His face twisted, and he turned away.

 

“Hey, I’m sorry,” I said, feeling genuinely bad. I hadn’t meant to touch a sore spot. He was clearly hurting about not being in touch with family. “Don’t stop, though. Think about your booty.”

 

“I don’t want to think about my booty!”

 

A sudden heat flashed over me just after his last word came out. The shock was intense enough to make me yelp and lose my balance. I fell off the elliptical and tumbled to the floor. My ass hit the ground, making my eyes water with pain.

 

“Are you okay?” Cerul asked, frantically running over and reaching for my hand.

 

“Yeah, yeah,” I said, composing myself. “I’m fine. Did you just feel something?”

 

“No, nothing.”

 

It was the first time we’d touched, and despite my discomfort, I found myself reluctant to let go of his hand. It was warm and soft, and its grip was firm. Even though Cerul might not have been my cup of tea personality-wise, his hand felt somehow comforting.

 

I didn’t tell him what I had just seen – or thought I’d seen. I must have imagined it or something. There was no way there’d really been a jet of fire right beside him. It was only in the corner of my eye, after all. I wouldn’t have been able to see any details even if it was real.

 

Even if the jet of fire was real, it definitely hadn’t shot out of my eccentric, mysterious client’s mouth.

 

Cerul

 

Letting the fire go was an accident. A momentary loss of control. I needed to restrain myself better. The girl was just so infuriating. Booty this, booty that. As if I cared about those trivial concerns. As if any dragon would have cared! Kale didn’t just treat me like a human. She treated me like a human child.

 

Still, I had gone too far, and in penance I was on my best behavior for the rest of that day’s session. I did everything Kale asked me to do without complaining. Actually, I didn’t speak much at all. I gave one-word answers when she tried to make small talk with me, and I stalked away the second she said we were finished. Letting myself relax around her would lead to nothing good.

 

Maybe I would have had better control over my fire if I’d known I’d be able to fly freely in the night. But that option had been taken away from me now. The quick, nearly uncontrollable blasts of fire were my only remaining abilities from my dragon form. They were my only reassurance that I wasn’t just another human.

 

In my room alone, I pulled out the bag of jewels from behind my headboard. They glittered and shone as I filtered them through my fingers. There were a lot of them – maybe a hundred. There had been more, but I’d needed to sell many to buy the house.

 

I could still see my mother’s face as she pushed them at me. Lips tight, eyes narrowed, she looked colder than I’d ever seen her. “Take them,” she had said bitterly. “Take them, and never speak to us again.”

 

The jewels were worth enough money for me to live on for a very long time, assuming I was frugal. Some days I thought of spending it all. I’d spend as much as I could on cocaine and high-class escorts, then buy myself a private plane and crash it into the ocean. Other days, I didn’t have the energy.

 

Who was I without my abilities? Without my family?

 

I shook my head as I sifted the jewels once more. I was no one, that was who.

 

If I was still able to shift, I would be using every limb in my body each night as I flew across the sky. Flying exercised every part of me, from the toes of my four legs to the tip of my tail. Wasting time on machines that took me nowhere wouldn’t even be a consideration. My overstepping aunt would never have forced an annoying personal trainer on me.

 

As it stood, I was stuck with vegetable girl. I couldn’t seem to get rid of her, no matter how rude I was or how many times I told her to leave. She was too stubborn to go.

 

Over the weeks that came, I tried again and again. “Why don’t you go home?” I asked her one day. “My aunt doesn’t have to know. You’ll still get paid.”

 

“She would figure it out pretty fast,” Kale snorted. “And from now on you’re going to drop and give me twenty every time you try to get me to leave.”

 

“What if you lived here and just did your own thing?” I suggested a few days later. She had me doing leg lifts, the least manly exercise in the history of fitness. “Then Jersey wouldn’t know you weren’t actually training me.”

 

“What if you shut up and stopped whining?” she said, raising her leg about twice as high as mine could go. “Your aunt would think I was a pretty awful trainer if she didn’t see any changes in you.”

 

“I could train myself,” I wheezed. “I don’t need you.”

 

Even on her side with one knee pointed to the sky, a pose which was putting inappropriate thoughts in my mind, Kale still managed to look sarcastic. “I’m pretty sure you do, actually.”

 

When it became clear that she wasn’t going to go, I resorted to just begging her to let me get up later. “We don’t have to wake up so early every day,” I told her one morning after she barged into my room. “Eight is no time for civilized people to be up.”

 

She crossed her arms. “If you didn’t expend so much energy on complaining, you wouldn’t even notice what time it was. Besides, exercise is the best way to start off your day!”

 

“My day should be starting around noon,” I grumbled. I followed her down the stairs, my hazy eyes managing to fix on her round behind. There were a few good things about this girl, and her curves were some of them.

 

She mostly kept to herself outside of our work-out hours, or tried to. In my house, so minuscule compared to the mansion I’d grown up in, we were always tripping over each other. Sometimes she went out, coming back all sweaty and flushed. I didn’t bother to ask where she had gone. I assumed she was either at the gym, playing sports, or with some boyfriend. For some reason, I liked the third option less than the other two.

 

When she wasn’t there in the flesh, her stuff was. I couldn’t seem to take a step without finding some of her girly things underfoot. Her bobby pins and hair ties were everywhere. When I confronted her about it, she just laughed. “You have to get used to that when you live with a girl.”

 

It was infuriating when she acted like that. If she knew who I was… if she had any clue… she wouldn’t talk to me like I was some sort of child. She would tremble before me and throw herself on her knees begging for my forgiveness.

 

If I was my normal self, I would have struck fear into her heart. Unable to shift, I couldn’t manage to bring myself to those heights of rage. My emotions still weren’t strong. I could still get angry, but I held that feeling inside me. I didn’t even think about letting it out.

 

To be fair, I had to admit I enjoyed Kale’s presence at times. She was my only company in the house, and when she wasn’t yelling at me to work harder, she could be almost pleasant. Having someone around made things less lonely, and when Kale wasn’t talking, I actually didn’t mind her at all.

 

Jersey still tended to visit once a week or so, and I didn’t let my change of feelings show with her. I still acted like Kale was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. Even if the girl was growing on me a tiny bit, I didn’t like the way my aunt had forced her into my life.

 

About a month after she had arrived, there were other things on my mind during Jersey’s weekly visit.

 

“It’s July twelfth tomorrow,” I said, sitting on the living room couch beside my aunt. The whole room had a faint reek of sweat now that it had been turned into a gym against my wishes. I could have taken Jersey into the kitchen or the dining room, but I always brought her in here instead. I wanted her to stay aware of what she was doing to me.

 

“I didn’t know you knew what day it was,” she said.

 

She only sounded half sarcastic. She knew I hadn’t been out of the house in months. Still, my back raised at her words. “It’s my mother’s birthday tomorrow,” I said.

 

“Yes.”

 

I didn’t have to ask any more questions. My mother always had the same sort of celebration. It was bigger than Christmas in our household. The mansion would be decked out with fancy decorations, and gourmet caterers would serve the finest delicacies. Whatever money could buy, she would have.

 

Relatives from across the country would fly out to see her. Just about every dragon on the continent would be there – those who hadn’t displeased her, that was. I had never thought I’d count myself among those numbers. Yet here I was, about to be alone on her birthday for the first time in my life.

 

“Will you talk to her for me?” I asked, my voice low. “See if, on her birthday, she can find it in her heart…?”

 

I didn’t care about my parents anymore. If they wanted to disown me, I would disown them right back. Without their forgiveness, though, I would never get my abilities back. I would be stuck like this forever.

 

“I’ll try,” Jersey said. “But I can’t promise you anything.”

 

After she left, the minutes ticked by interminably. I checked my watch often, thinking about what my mother was doing now. Welcoming the guests at five. Mingling regally while hors-d’oeuvres were passed out. At seven, sitting down to dinner. The vast dining room would be full. Aunts, uncles, and cousins I hadn’t seen in years would be there.

 

At eleven, they would be dancing to the music of a live band. The children would be flying circles around each other, play-fighting in the starry night. At two or three, things would begin to quiet down. This was when I imagined Jersey would pull my mother to the side and talk to her in soft tones. Calmed by alcohol, my mother might just be willing to listen to the one aunt who had always been on my side.

 

I paced my bedroom, too anxious to sleep. The clock struck four. A few of the older relations, too feeble to make the full flight back in one go, would take the rarely-used guest bedrooms. Most, like Jersey, would make their way home.

 

At five, I called my aunt. The phone rang eight times before she picked it up.

 

She didn’t bother to say hello. “I’m sorry, Cerul.”

 

“What happened?”

 

“Maybe next year I can try again,” she said, her voice tired and weak. “This is usually the one time your mother’s guaranteed to be in good spirits. But right now she doesn’t even want to hear your name.”

 

I didn’t stay on the phone to hear about what exactly had happened when Jersey had brought me up. She’d already told me all I needed to know.

 

My mother hated me. My father did too, at least enough to keep him from standing up for me.

 

And another year would pass before I could even think about using my dragon form again.

 

At eight on the dot, Kale knocked on my door. “Why are you in such a bad mood?” she asked when she saw my face.

 

“I’m not.”

 

“You’re in a bad mood every day,” she said, walking down the stairs. “But today is worse than usual.”

 

I followed her to the gym, hoping she wouldn’t press the issue. I could hardly keep my eyes open. It wasn’t a good day for her to pester me.

 

Kale didn’t stop there, though. She went all the way to the front hall, where she started to lace on her sneakers. “I thought we’d go for a jog today.”

 

“Are you out of your mind?” I slapped her hand away when she offered me a pair of shoes. “I’m not going out there. You know I don’t go outside.”

 

Just the idea of it had my palms sweaty. The outside was so big. Unable to fly, I’d just be another ant crawling on the ground. Anything could happen out there.

 

“You have to go out sometime,” she said calmly. “Why not today?”

 

“I’m not going out there, and when I do, it won’t be with you.” I didn’t need her help or her encouragement. Even on a day when I wasn’t already suffering, her attempts at fixing me would have been a massive irritation.

 

“I think it would be good for you.”

 

“Why do you even care?”

 

“Because!” Kale exclaimed, throwing her hands up. “I care about you!”

 

BOOK: Dragon's Pride: BBW Paranormal Dragon Romance
11.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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