Race is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places and
incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or
persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
by Barbara Elsborg
Cover design by B4Jay
Edited by Deco
Published by Smashwords
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approached the massive iron cage and wiped a sweaty palm on his
trousers. He hated to see anything contained like this and his chest
tightened in sympathy. The dragon lay curled up in the darkest
corner, its blue scales no longer the bright iridescent shade of this
morning. It had been starved of food to prevent it blasting him with
fire, and now the creature’s energy seemed to have dissipated.
surviving the feeding session wasn’t enough. Tomas needed more than
that. He needed compliance and he needed it fast if he was to do the
impossible and win the Dragon Race tomorrow. The thought of losing to
his brother yet again was like a hand squeezing his throat. But he’d
seen Simeon’s dragon, and the creature was huge. Much larger than
this one. The odds of Tomas winning were not good.
glanced at the bucket of meat in his hand and then back at the
glowering dragon. A double edged sword. The creature needed food in
order to fly, but feeding restored power and the ability to kill him.
The dragons weren’t usually fed until the morning of the race, but
Tomas hoped feeding his now would give him an edge. It was a risk.
Not only that, he hated starving the poor creature.
“You don’t stand a
stiffened when he heard Simeon approaching from behind. The prick had
been leading his dragon around the town all day, pretending he’d
made a great capture when everyone knew his guards had done most of
the work. Interestingly, Tomas hadn’t even had to make an effort to
catch his. It had just dropped out of the sky to land in front of
him. He’d hardly been able to believe his luck. He just wished it
was twice the size.
turned and bowed to his bigger, stronger, very stupid twin brother,
older by ten minutes. “Your majesty.” You
arsehole. One day Tomas
was going to get thought and speech the wrong way round and Simeon
wouldn’t find it amusing.
sneered. “That pathetic thing’s half the size of mine.”
heart sank when he once again took in the size of the silver dragon
on Simeon’s leash. It looked as if it had grown since that morning.
Its mouth was secured in an iron muzzle while its claws and spiked
tail were sheathed in Samisman leather, incredibly strong, supple and
everything,” Tomas said.
Simeon chortled. “Is
that what you tell your whores when they see your dick?”
clenched his teeth. His small dragon rose to its feet, stepped
forward and promptly tripped over its chain. His brother’s dragon
made a strange choking sound.
“You’ve got a real
winner there, Tomas. We’re not even going to get much meat off that
dropped. “What do you mean?”
you heard? I’ve decided to reinstate the tradition of roasting the
a moment, horror struck Tomas speechless. “You can’t do that,”
he eventually spluttered. “The dragons only tolerate the capture of
two of their kind for the race because Ost supported them in the
battle with Est.”
face mottled in the flickering light. “I can do what I fucking well
like.” He spat out the words like arrows. “I’m in charge while
father’s away.” Simeon dragged his dragon into the cage, secured
it with iron chains on the opposite side to Tomas’s creature and
locked the cage again.
“I don’t think this
is a good idea,” Tomas said. “Let’s stick to what we usually
do. I mess up, you win and everyone thinks you’re the greatest.”
stepped right up to him. “Do I detect sarcasm, brother? I could
have you roasted too.” He laughed as he walked away, and the scary
thing was, Tomas suspected Simeon meant it. Of course, he’d tell
father it was an accident, clumsy Tomas had fallen into the fire and
there had been nothing Simeon could do.
The iron outer door
clanged shut and Tomas sagged. When he turned to look at the dragons,
they were staring at him.
“I won’t let you be
eaten,” Tomas said to his dragon because he finally had to accept
that losing was inevitable.
The creature blinked
bright blue eyes and regarded him with what could only be described
as disdain. The other dragon snorted. Maybe all three of them
recognized the hollowness of his words. If only father was back.
Tomas unlocked the
complicated mechanism that held the door in place, picked up the
bucket and took a deep breath before he walked into the cage. His
heart pounded. The dragons were shackled, but the small one’s claws
weren’t clad with leather, nor was it muzzled. Tomas hadn’t
paraded his through the streets. Humiliation wasn’t part of the
tradition. But one swipe, one snap of a jaw, one blast of fire and
Tomas was history.
put the bucket down and nudged it towards the dragon with his foot.
Tomas didn’t know if it was male or female, the sexual organs were
hidden, but from the size he guessed it was a female. When the dragon
didn’t move, he toed the bucket a little closer. This one hadn’t
yet spoken to him, but the news about the loser being eaten couldn’t
have slipped past their hearing.
His dragon raised its
head, sniffed the bucket and heaved. “Raw meat?” it rasped.
raised his eyebrows. “You don’t eat raw meat?”
“I usually cook it,
but my fire’s gone out.”
The dragon used its
tail to drag the bucket closer, scooped up a small piece of flesh and
shuddered as it chewed. “Oh that’s disgusting. What was it? No,
don’t tell me. It smells terrible.” It shoved the bucket away.
sorry,” Tomas said. “But you need to eat to be able to…fly.”
He wanted to say escape, but worried someone might be listening.
“I need to hold my
nose to be able to eat. I really fancied a steak, roast potatoes and
strawberries, not squirrel guts and rats’ tails.”
Tomas bit back his
“Please take these
shackles off,” the dragon said.
The chains were all
that held his dragon.
“I won’t hurt you,”
the dragon said. “I promise you’ll have what you wish for.”
A painless death? Tomas
didn’t know what he wished for any more, but a miserable life under
his brother’s future kingship didn’t figure in his dreams and
there was no way he was letting anyone eat either of these dragons.
Simeon was breaking the rules their great-great grandfather had
established and Tomas would be damned before he let him get away with
that. Fingers trembling, he removed the neck chain and shackles from
the smaller dragon and only exhaled when he realized he wasn’t
going to die immediately.
The dragon stretched
its long neck and sighed. “That’s better.”
“I won’t let you be
eaten,” Tomas blurted.
“Who says I’m going
to lose the race?”
The other dragon puffed
clouds of smoke through its muzzle.
help you escape,” Tomas said in a whisper and thought frantically.
“I could cut the straps of my harness and you could fly off.”
let you fall to your death?”
Tomas gulped. “You
could drop me in the sea.”
still break every bone in your body.”
sighed. “You need help. Reinforcements. But I can’t contact the
hoard in time.” And if he approached them, maybe they’d roast him
before he had the chance to speak.
think better on a full stomach,” his dragon said.
“I also can’t get
more food until morning. The kitchens are closed. Sorry. I’ll bring
you something cooked then.”
The dragon inclined its
head and Tomas thought its eyes brightened.
“Thank you,” it
Tomas backed out of the
cage and locked it. He wrapped his fingers around the bars. “I
won’t let you be eaten. I promise.”
meant it, but he knew that keeping his promise might get him killed.
admired Tomas’s tight arse as he walked away. He meant well but he
was weak. Once the outer door of the castle dungeon clanged shut, she
took a deep breath and shifted to her human form before she turned to
Drake. She could have used her powers to clothe herself but Meriden
hoped to distract him because she knew he was furious. The angry look
on Drake’s face made her wince. He growled and yelled through the
muzzle. Meriden didn’t catch his entire tirade but heard enough.
not removing your muzzle if you’re going to speak to me like that,”
she said. Drake couldn’t turn into his human state until she took
off the iron. “And he does have a lovely backside. All tight
shimmered with rage, his scales turning from silver to fiery orange,
his eyes from gray to crimson. Oh dear. Maybe she’d gone too far.
Meriden flinched. The last time he’d been this angry, his bad
temper had lasted days and they’d had to replace several pieces of
scorched furniture. She gave a heavy sigh and reached to unfasten the
clasp at Drake’s throat. The muzzle fell to the floor.
“What the hell are
you doing here?” Drake snapped. “Did I not specifically tell you
to stay indoors?”
“You knew the hunters
were about and yet you put yourself in harm’s way?”
“For the love of
after you and the other males flew out, Ricor slunk back like the
coward he is and said he’d heard Slimeball Simeon say to one of his
lackeys that he planned to eat the losing dragon. No way was I going
to sit back and not let you find that out until the race was over.”
Drake ground his teeth.
“I don’t know who to be angrier with. Our ancestors for agreeing
to this stupid race, Simeon for even thinking of eating dragon meat
or you for putting yourself on his plate.”
bristled. “Oh you think I can’t win?” Though she couldn’t
unless she cheated. Meriden half-smiled. She had cheating down to a
come to save your arse,” Meriden said. “I’m rather attached to
it even if it’s not quite as fine an arse as Tomas’s. Hold out
unfastened the leather ties and freed his claws, then bent to take
the covering from his tail. Even before the leather had fallen to the
floor, Drake had shifted to his male form and swept her into his
strong arms. He was naked and his cock was hard as a rock. So
predictable. Meriden grinned against his mouth.
fingers sank into the curve of her waist. The moment he touched her,
Meriden’s pulse points began to flutter and her heart pounded hard
enough to break her ribs. His tongue trailed along the seam of her
lips and he slid his hands down to her backside to hold her tight
against him. Meriden opened her mouth and their teeth clashed, their
tongues meeting in a deep thrust that sent a jolt of pleasure racing
down her spine.
mate, my mate. The bond
between them was unbreakable. Even with the death of one, the
survivor would never love another. Part of the problem of their race
and part of the joy. Dragons were few in number, the birth-rate low,
and if fuckwits like Simeon developed a taste for dragon meat, their
numbers would be even fewer.
Meriden pressed herself
harder against Drake, wanting more, needing more. The scent of him
inflamed her senses and she writhed against his cock, the velvety
head wetting her belly. Drake groaned into her mouth and slid one
hand from her backside to her neck, grasping her long black hair,
tilting her head so he could take possession of her mouth.
She lifted her legs to
his waist and struggled to impale herself on his cock.
“Meri, Meri, for
Lorc’s sake, slow down.” Her back hit the cool stone wall. “You
don’t know what you do to me.”
yes she did, because Drake did it to her too, made her mindless for
anything but his touch, his love, his heart. Meriden was caught up in
a whirlwind of blazing sensation that could only be quenched by the
love of her mate. Her nipples ached, her clit throbbed and her head
Drake dropped his mouth
to her neck and bit down sending cascades of delight pouring through
her veins. Meriden grew wetter and wetter.
growled. “No I said peas,
I hope Tomas brings peas with the steak.”
Drake laughed. He
lifted her by the hips and slowly lowered her down onto his shaft.
Meriden’s head fogged and Drake’s tongue thrust into her mouth in
time with his cock driving into her body.
hard, perfect. She smiled.
tight, perfect. He smiled.
But Drake wanted to
kill her for letting herself get caught. Except he’d do that later,
just as soon as he’d fucked some sense into both their heads. If
that was possible. Every sound she made poured over him in a silky
caress. Her body clutched his cock so powerfully, the feeling hovered
on the point of slipping into pain. Her muscles didn’t want to let
him withdraw and yet welcomed his return by wrapping him in a tight
pushed slowly into her time after time, pulling back to stare into
her face, feeding on the misty look in her eyes, sustaining the
pleasure for both of them as long as he could. His fury that she was
here, that she’d disobeyed him, that she’d risked her life—all
dissolved under the relentless onslaught of his oncoming orgasm. He
arched into her as she pressed herself down onto him.
“I could beat you in
the race,” she gasped.
Drake chuckled against
her throat. “In this race, sweetheart, you can come first as often
as you wish.”
Meriden smiled and
Drake lifted his head
to look into her eyes and obliged.
Their breaths mingled,
and he sucked her exhale into his lungs, swallowing her sweetness,
letting it feed his fire, knowing it made him whole.
Drake.” She sang his name, her fingers digging into his shoulders
as he drove harder and faster.
She was as intoxicating
as kernon berries. Their bodies were perfectly meshed, their
movements perfectly in sync, their breathing perfectly matched. He
felt her inner walls spasm around his cock and Drake stilled, not yet
ready to let her come, though he knew he was fooling himself about
his level of control which was as thin as gossamer. His cock was
yelling at him, his swollen balls no longer able to speak. Only when
Meriden had fire in her eyes, was beside herself with need and
desperation, when she was beating his chest, scratching his back,
yelling at him, cursing him, did Drake piston his hips and allow
orgasm to sweep them both over the cliff.
Perfect timing. His
contractions following hers. He never took his eyes from her
beautiful face. Even as his cock spurted his seed into her and deep
pleasure rolled through his body to fog his mind, Drake never lost
sight of the fact that Meriden held his heart in a way no other
could. He would lay down his life for her in an instant, as she would
for him, and much as he might wish her safe at home, that was why she
was here with him in this iron cage.
When the last wrenching
spasm was done, his cock softening in her body, Drake lifted her free
and held her tight in his arms.
you let yourself be captured, did you have a plan in mind?” he
“Like to let me in on
“No, but the race
goes ahead. Trust me.”
Drake narrowed his
eyes. “The last time you said that, I fell into the volcano.”
“And who was it who
stroked your sore bits after you climbed out?”
He laughed. “We have
five hours until dawn. If we’re not going to escape yet, like to
practice your stroking?”
* * *
up for take-off, the bright blue sky beckoning, Meriden itched to
soar. She raised her snout to the wind and breathed in, her stomach
pleasantly full of steak and roast potatoes. Drake had eaten a whole
sheep. The pig. She could feel Tomas’s weight on her back and
rolled her shoulders against the tightness of the harness.
Tomas bent to her ear
and whispered, “When we reach the other side of the island, fly far
away from here. I’ll walk back and say I lost control.”
“We’re going to
win,” Meriden rasped.
The city had turned out
for the race and the quay was ringed with people. They rarely saw
dragons and until this year, the race had been something both Ost and
Sud, the dragon kingdom, quite enjoyed. Drake had raced once before
and won, but Meriden was the first female ever to take part.
“On the third blast
of the horn, you start,” a man shouted.
Meriden went on the
first blast, soaring into the sky.
“Why are we going
Meriden wasn’t as
fast as Drake, but she was more cunning. From that altitude, her dive
toward the turning point of the race would be faster than any dragon
could fly. Far below she could see Simeon on Drake’s back, the
bastard using a barbed whip.
Meriden said and dived.
watered as she zoomed down. She swerved around the sea-drenched rocks
of Kield Island at such a sharp angle that one wing tip touched the
water, but she was ahead of Drake on the turn.
It didn’t last.
Simeon gave a whoop of joy as he passed her. Drake didn’t look at
her. Meriden put on a burst of speed and caught up to nip Drake’s
tail. He was so shocked, she was able to get past him. Then he bit
her backside and zipped under her, heading for the quay.
saw the moment Drake realized he’d been so caught up in the race
he’d lost sight of the fact that he’d meant to let her win,
because he braked so suddenly, Simeon almost fell off. Simeon
screamed and slashed Drake’s shoulder with his whip. Blood sprayed
and Meriden growled. If Drake didn’t win he’d be the laughing
stock of the hoard. She flew alongside and turned her head to look at
“Do you want to tell
our future children I beat you in a race?” she asked in
“You won’t be
having any children if they eat you,” he snapped.
“Trust me and race.”
Drake gave her a
lingering pained look and flexed his wings. Meriden smiled and
followed in his slipstream, unable to catch him. Drake was
magnificent and she couldn’t have been more proud.
She landed on the quay
several minutes later, ignoring Tomas’s urgent pleas to fly away.
Simeon was strutting up and down, puffed up like a famigan, though
Meriden doubted he’d be as tasty, while his men secured a
struggling Drake with iron. He sent her a look of despair, but
Meriden had everything under control. Hopefully.
Tomas leapt off her
back and stood between her and a group of approaching soldiers.
“Don’t touch the dragon,” he snapped.
Just on cue, there was
a loud whirring noise in the sky to the south. Every head turned to
already knew what was coming. The hoard. Once Ricor had spread the
word about a dragon roast, Angor, the hoard leader, had ordered a
swarm. Meriden refused to wait and had made sure she was the dragon
Tomas caught. But she was still relieved. Timing was everything.
of every size and colour landed on the roofs of the city and tiles
tumbled to shatter on the ground below. Children screamed but no
dragon would ever hurt a child. A man? Now that was another matter.
Tomas gasped as he
looked into the sky.
“What is this?”
Simeon demanded, his face paling.
Angor, a large golden
dragon who’d taken Tomas flying when he was a boy, landed by the
“You have introduced
a new rule. So have we.” Angor spoke clearly so all could hear.
“You wish to eat the loser of the race, and we plan to eat the
gasps spread through the crowd. Simeon spluttered, but when his gaze
snagged on horses approaching from the north, the royal standard
fluttering in the breeze, Tomas saw his jaw set. Acceptance that he’d
lost crept over Simeon’s face. Relief made Tomas’s knees sag.
Simeon’s guards drifted away as the king, the boys’ father,
climbed down from his horse.
Meriden nudged Tomas.
“Now’s your chance,” she whispered. “Stand up for what’s
And he did. Once his
father heard what Simeon planned to do, he glared at Simeon, smiled
at Tomas and asked Angor to choose Simeon’s punishment.
“He should do menial
work in the city until he truly regrets his offense. I offer your
other son the chance to visit Sud, our kingdom, and live among us.”
father exhaled and laid his hand on Tomas’s shoulder. After hearing
Angor’s words, Tomas knew he would succeed his father on the
throne. As a king’s son favoured by dragons, Tomas would be loved
by all. He’d no longer be second best, second choice, second son.
“I declare Drake and
Simeon winners of the race,” Angor said.
And for once, Tomas
didn’t mind losing to his brother because they both knew who the
real winner was.
hoard took to the air, Drake and Meriden in their midst, and Tomas
watched until they were specks in the sky.
Drake and Meriden
landed outside their home and transformed back to their human state.
Drake allowed himself a swallow of relief.
are you going to explain how the whole hoard came to turn up?” he
“They came because I
asked them too.”
“And since when has
the council done as you asked?”
Meriden took hold of
his hand. “Because something amazing’s happened. I’ve a
surprise for you.”
His eyes filled with
fire. “Does it involve me, you and a bed? Or me, you and the
kitchen table? Or me—”
Meriden smiled. “I
think it might have involved me, you and that beach on Lumas Island.”
He gave her a puzzled
She rolled her eyes.
“Sometimes you are so dense.”
tugged him deeper into the cave they used as dragons and over to the
far corner, close to the back entrance to the house they used in
their human form.
there.” Meriden nodded toward a hollow in the warm volcanic rock.
“That’s why the hoard came.”
Drake blinked when he
saw what lay inside, but said nothing.
“Is that all I get?”
she asked. “A blink?”
“This is why you’ve
been so moody and picky about your food?”
Meriden glared. “Moody?
that moaning and whining when—” Shut
up, idiot. “Sorry.
Indigestion makes me grumpy.”
“Well you shouldn’t
have eaten the whole sheep,” she snapped but then fidgeted, a
worried look in her eyes. “So? What do you think?”
pulled her into his arms. “That’s going to make a big omelette.”
Meriden growled. “Not
He grunted as she kneed
him in the balls. “Sorry,” he choked out.
“You will be. You’re
going to wait on me hand and foot and tail until the egg hatches and
if you’re very lucky, I’ll never tell our children you joked
about eating them.”
Drake’s ears pricked
“Twins. Double yolk.”
He swept her into his
arms and kissed her.
“I let you win,”
Meriden mumbled into his mouth.
“There’s no way in
hell—” Drake felt her stiffen, “you could have lost,” he
Meriden shook in his
arms as she laughed and laughed and laughed.
About the Author
Barbara Elsborg lives
in Kent in the south of England. She always wanted to be a spy, but
having confessed to everyone without them even resorting to torture,
she decided it was not for her. Vulcanology scorched her feet. A
morbid fear of sharks put paid to marine biology. So instead, she
spent several years successfully selling cyanide.
After dragging up two
rotten, ungrateful children and frustrating her sexy, devoted,
wonderful husband (who can now stop twisting her arm), she finally
has time to conduct an affair with an electrifying, plugged-in
Her books feature
quirky heroines and bad boys, and she hopes they are as much fun to
read as they are to write.
loves hearing from readers and can be contacted at
firstname.lastname@example.org If you’d like to hear about future releases
please ask to be put on her mailing list.
There are a few linked
books in this list but all can be read as stand-alones.
Summer Girl Winter Boy
Kiss a Falling Star
An Ordinary Girl
(Bedlingham brothers book 1)
Something About Polly
(Bedlingham brothers book 2)
Doing the Right Thing
(Mansell brothers book 1)
Finding the Right One
(Mansell brothers book 2)
The Princess and the
Snow Play (novella)
On the Right Track
Short Stories (MF)
The Bad Widow
Two Birds, One Stone
Short Stories (MM)
Crossing the Line
With or Without Him
Give Yourself Away
With or Without Him
Falling (Fall and Break
Breaking (Fall and
Break book 2)
Bloodline (Norwood book
The Demon You Know
(Norwood book 3)
Anna in the Middle
Girl Most Likely to
Just What She Wants
Paranormal MFs and
Perfect Trouble MF
Power of Love MF
Kiss Interrupted MF
Jumping in Puddles MF
(Norwood book 1)
The Small Print MMF
Worlds Apart MMF
The Consolation Prize
MF (Trueblood book 1)
Falling for You MF
(Trueblood book 2)
Lightning in a Bottle
MF ((Trueblood book 3)
The Misfits MMF
(Trueblood book 4)
Fight to Remember MMF
(Trueblood book 5)
Lucy in the Sky MF (sci
Taking Stock MMF (sci
Just One Bite MF