Excerpt for Love's Catalyst by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


DRAGON’S GAP SERIES

Love’s Catalyst

Lars and Claire’s Story

A Novella by L. M. Lacee

Copyright 2018 L. M. Lacee

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2018 C L.M. Lacee

Smashwords Edition.

All rights reserved.

Published by PrivotelConcepts Publishing.

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CONTENTS

Chapter one

Chapter two

Chapter three

Chapter four

Chapter five

Chapter six

Chapter seven

Chapter eight

Chapter nine

Chapter ten

Epilogue


Other Books by L. M. Lacee

CHAPTER ONE:


Kammy Nash, cub to Claire Nash, niece to the Dragon Lord and Lady, Reighn and Sage and all her many aunties and uncles plus granddaughter to Grace Orlov a bear, was on a mission.

Kammy stopped and giggled she knew all the names of her uncas and antees there was many of them. Molly and Ava was her antee Sage’s and unca Reighn’s daughters that made them her cousins, her mama told her tat.

Kammy scratched behind her ear with her little claws as she thinkd about all her family, it was good to have family, her mama said lots, lots family, then she thinkd about the word mission. She liked that word, she even knew what it meant.

It was when her unca Storm had to do something portant and had to go away. Just like her mama was doing for antee Sage now, cause she wasa not home with Kammy.

Kammy knew she was lucky to have cousins like Molly and Ava, who was really lucky cause they had a dada and he was a dragon and sometimes Molly’s dada let her fly on his back when he was in his dragon skin.

Kammy sighed she so wanted her own dada, then she smiled as she thinkd of her mama, she was happy she had a mama and her mama was fieece, that was what antee Sage called her. Kammy’s smile morphed into a frown, her antee June said her mama had… Kammy thinkd hard and then smiled when she remembered the word Edee used, issuues….yeah….. issuues she did not know what issuues was but it worried her that her mama had them, she and Molly had tried to find them and make them go away but they wasa hard to find.

Kammy growled low in her throat like she did sometimes when she was unhappy or scared, this time she was unhappy, mama did not know that Kammy knew she was sad cause she had issuues. Kammy stood and stretched maybe when she found her dada she would tell him about the issuues that had hurt her mama and made her sad and he would find them and make them go away, then her mama would smile cause she was happy.

She was worried they might hurt her mama again, her mama didn’t know Kammy knew about the issuues that had caused all the hurts on mama when granma Grace had gones away.

Kammy sighed and scratch her other ear then remembered what she was doing she growled like she saw Jacks do to unca Stan, she Kammy Nash was on a mission!

Kammy had shifted into her tiger skin which is how her mama explained it and sneaked out the door of her antee Junes home when she was in the kitchen, then she had sneaked out of the castle which was very hard to do as there are so many peoples there and it is hard to be sneaky when dragons were around but she was still little and not scared of the dark like Molly so she had used all the shadows to leave the castle like unca Storm showd her.

She felt sad that she had not told antee June she was going to find her dada cause she liked staying with antee June, she had her own bed and antee June liked to snuggle like mama did and liked reading books to Kammy when mama was not home, she knew they were only with antee June until her mama gotsa own furnita for their new home.

Kammy could not wait for her new home it was gonna be good, mama said so, antee June’s home was like her granma Grace’s, it always smelled of cookies. Kammy loved cookies, she really did, they was always warm and made her tummy sing nice songs she hoped her new home smelled of cookies.

She stopped and sat on her rump as she shook her head, her mama made bad, bad cookies they was always black and hard they did not smells good it was sad but mama could not make cookies. Kammy was worried about the cookies when they left antee June’s home. Antee Sage said mama could not cook water. She had heard antee June tell Edee it was very sad her mama could not cook food and specilly cookies.

Kammy secretly agreed but she liked eating antee June’s food but who was gonna cook when they went to their new home. She chewed on her tail as she thought on that then smiled her new Dada would cook food and cookies for mama and her.

She sniffed her tail and then remembered her dada, she walked against the walls of the buildings, it was safer and peoples did not step on her if she did.

She was still a little jumpy in her tummy, it had been a little scary running across the road, she had to run real fast so the cars would not squish her like mama said they would.

Once she crossed the road and made the sidewalk, she had run even faster right into the dark place between the buildings and stopped panting hard, her little tiger body had shook for a long time and she had wanted to cry for her mama but then she had smelled her Dada again.

Kammy had scented her new Dada at her antee June’s home, she had known it was her dada, she did not know how she knew, she just did, antee Jacks called them intincts that made shiftas know stuff, Kammy was a shifta likes Molly so when her dada had come to talk to her antee June her intincts told her he was her dada but by the time she untangled herself from the stupid, that was what mama called things that made her mad, her stupid blanket which she had hid under to see if she could see the dark, her dada was gone.

She did not even know what he looked like but she had put her nose to the floor and sniffed real hard just like her teacher auntee Jacks showd her and she smelled him real good, so when antee June was not looking, she sneaked out and followd him all the way to the busy place mama and her antees took her too with her cousins, Molly and Ava to have coffee whatever that was. It smelled funny but mama liked it.

She looked around and then she crouched down by the brick wall and sniffed hard she lifted her head up really high, she could finally see her dada he was sitting at a table on the street like mama and her antees did sometimes, he looked sad.

Kammy cocked her head, her new Dada was sad cause he did not know about Kammy and mama he did not smells them like Kammy smelled him, she mewed worried he knew mama made bad cookies.

She cocked her head the other way, her new dada was big and strong he could scare the issuues and make mama not sad anymore, she would tell him antee June made good cookies.

Kammy eyed the space between her and her new dada, she looked around and saw a box, she quickly moved it, she pushed really hard with her nose and finally had it in place, she panted as she sat and looked at it again she nodded her head and knew she could do it now, if she used the box she could just jump to the table where her new dada was.

Just then people walked past she ducked down against the wall and looked around, fear gripped her, making her heart beat fast, she sniffed the air good her antee June was not here yet.

Antee June would be all growly cause she had sneaked out, even if she knew about her dada and she would be really growly if she could see her jumping, mama and antee June always tells her not to jump on the bed even though she was a good jumper Unca Rain said so.

Kammy eyed the distance again if she did the jump thing her dada would see her and be happy and then her mama would be happy too, she froze as she heard a yell.

“Kammy! Kammy!”

Oh no it was her antee June, Kammy jumped up and looked around she couldn’t see her but Kammy knew her voice really well. So Kammy lent down on her front paws and wiggled her bottom in the air like she did when she was ready to jump on her mama’s bed and then she narrowed her eyes and wiggled harder this was a big jump, without looking anywhere but at her first target the box, Kammy ran and jumped.

CHAPTER TWO:


Lars drank his coffee and thought over the changes made to Dragon’s Gap, it was no longer a blip on a non-existent map, now it was a medium to large thriving town complete with castle, he laughed to himself, the shifters seemed amazed by what they the dragons had always taken for granted, the castle, which always materialized eventually when the town needed it.

Trying to explain that the castle was always there, just shifted out of time was very difficult, eventually the dragons had all learnt to just say magic had hidden it, which in essence was true but not the complete truth and if Lars was honest with himself, he did not understand it either, it was Dragon Lord magic that was all he knew and all he really wanted to know.

He looked around the street he was on, occasionally he would glimpse a Hunter or Shield and would smile they were starting to mingle with the towns people, Reighn’s plan was working.

While he sat there watching the town starting to come to life around him as people walked to and fro to work or to take advantage of the less crowded shops, he saw that indeed there was a large and diverse population filling up Dragon’s Gap, consisting of humans and shifters of all species, interlaced with the reclusive Dragons mixing together adding vibrancy to the town.

Along with Dragons that at long last were realizing there was more to life than just their own species. While they had hidden away watching their lives fade away from the lack of female dragons and shadows being found other species had grown and evolved.

Reighn’s decree that life for dragons had to change had come as such a shock to some of them, thankfully not all dragons were blind to the changing world around them most could already see the changes at Dragon’s Gap unfortunately not enough and it needed not to be just the young ones, the elders needed to wake up and see what was happening around them at the changing world.

Lars could feel that life was on the cusp of evolution, unlike the stubborn nobles, those so self-involved people like his birth family who had been taken by complete surprise with the declarations and ultimatums delivered by their Dragon Lord.

It was sad but Lars had not been at all surprised to see that his birth parents and grandparents had aligned themselves with John Morton at court nor was he surprised they had not dissociated themselves when given the opportunity.

Lars snorted quietly to himself when he thought back on the meeting at his family’s estate.

First thing the following morning after the big confrontation in court with the Dragon’s Lord’s ultimatums and the visitation of the Elementals. Lars had been ordered to his birth families estate it was a strange experience to be ordered anywhere by people he did not really know or care about.

CHAPTER THREE:


He had been five when he had been fostered to the Kinsley’s, it was years later he had found out that Rene’ Kingsley had removed him from his parents’ home himself, apparently Rene’ as Dragon Lord, had been there for a meeting when he had seen Lars wiggle out of a hole in the wall of his Sire’s study that lead to the cellar where he stayed.

Lars had crawled out because one, Rene’ Kingsley had been the Dragon Lord and his dragon called to him, how his dragon had known Lars was there remained a mystery for many years and secondly he was starving, how long since he had eaten was never determined.

It was not that his parents were cruel really, they were not, just neglectful his birth had been a surprise to people who did not desire young or so he was lead to believe from mama Verity, she told him that it was not that they did not love him they were incapable of love and they were just too self-involved to understand they had to actually see to his wellbeing.

Mama Verity did not dislike or like his parents, or so he assumed as she had never voiced an opinion either way. He thought maybe she felt unable to actually explain people like them as she was so very different.

Papa Rene’, he knew had thought otherwise, he despised Lars birth parents and grandparents and made sure Lars was never returned to them. Storm his nest brother had told him many years later on a night of drinking dragons ale that their Sire, Rene’ had known what the look on Lars fathers face had been that day, he had been more surprised than Rene’ to see the appearance of the thin, filthy child and honestly did not remember he was his son or that he had one. They, his birth mother and father literally had forgotten all about him, it was not neglect, it was absolute disinterest.

Lars found out his grandparents on his Sire’s side, his Dam’s parents having died many years earlier, declined to raise him, they had done their duty already with his father, there was no need to do it again so they had been at great pains to explain to the Dragon Lord.

So at five years of age Lars had become Rene’ and Verity’s, she had reintroduced the term, Nest brother or sister, mainly he thought to save his parents and grandparents reputation.

It was not common knowledge how he had ended up as a nest brother to Reighn and his brothers, most assumed that Verity and Rene’ chose him because of who his parents were and in a way they were right of course Lars learnt that his grandparents and parents traded on this relationship and that Rene’ turned a blind eye to it for Lars.

He of course did not when he was in a position to halt it he did much to their displeasure it seemed their wealth decreased as did their reputation.

Many asked and wondered why he had become Reighn’s primary second or Prime and not any of his brothers and Lars always declined to tell them, firstly his relationship to Reighn was no one else’s business and secondly he was well suited to the position as Reighn’s Prime, his calm disposition so unlike the fiery nature of the Kingsley males was a big factor but in truth the number one reason he was Reighn’s Prime was none of the brothers including Stanvis wanted to do it, they had declined so quickly it would have left a dragons head spinning. Stanvis had declined just as quickly due he said to his short patience and a sword happy hand, which was true, his default was to let his sword do his talking for him.

So Stanvis was very happy to be second to Lars leaving the bulk of interaction with dragon society up to Lars and Reighn.

Lars had been in two minds about the summons to the family estate half of him was annoyed at the thought that his birth family felt they had the right to demand his presence and the other half was curious as to why.

It was seldom they sought him out these days and when on occasion they did it was to demand he return to the family or reinstate their favor to the Dragon Lord which he declined to do, the worse was when they wanted to introduce him to a female which he usually refused to meet.

So when he had finished his breakfast which he had lingered over then taken a leisurely shower, spent countless minutes deciding on his attire, he decided it was time to visit.

As he was making his way out of the castle, Storm stopped him, Lars had eyed his brother to see he was calm and his dragon was not on the surface of his skin, he like Reighn knew Storm was on the edge of going rogue although he seemed more settled of late. “Brother!”

“Where are you going so early, without a guard?” Storm demanded.

Lars smiled at that, Storm was blunt, no niceties for Storm or idle chit chat, at least that part of his brother was the same, he told him.

“The Axton’s ordered me to meet with them!”

Storm’s eyes became chips of black ice, he disliked the Axton’s, Lars parents and grandparents, he did not like what they had done to his brother. He had been old enough at the time to remember his papa when he had come home with the little scared, sickly dragonet with wide grey eyes that held no expectations, no hope, no wonder at the world. It had hurt Storm’s heart and he had wanted to go and rip their faces off. Reighn had spent hours in those first few days talking him out of it as time had past he had kept his eyes on the Axtons and now they dared to order his brother to their home, his voice held his dragon as he said. “No!”

Lars nodded, he guessed that would be his response. “My thoughts as well, then I thought why not, I am an adult, they have no hold on me, you are all my family. I use their name as is my right and it annoys them, my continued rebuff of their demands to return to them, the favors of the Dragon Lord and their insistence I return to their family or to accept a female they choose, embarrasses them, which I can tell you I consider a bonus but it is not for just those reasons I do not capitulate.

What they don’t realize is they are not my family it does not matter how often that they recite I am. Nothing, they can say to me or demand of me means anything, a family is more than a name, you and our family taught me that!”

Storm’s scowl did not change but he clapped him on the back. “Alright but remember you are part of my family. I will not hesitate to take their heads if they hurt you!”

Lars inclined his head. “Thank you brother, I will keep that in mind.”

Storm nodded and carried on into the castle Lars gave it a fleeting thought that he would go to Reighn or Mama Verity, then shrugged Storm being Storm, he would probably not.

In that he was wrong Storm was not fooled as much as Lars looked calm, he felt his tension and unease so he did not go to Reighn who would have flown directly to the Axton family home and leveled it as he had promised to do on many occasions, he went instead to his Sire who was making preparations to leave, in fact he caught him as he was walking to the training grounds.

“My son!” Rene’ looked at his son, his dragon was quiet which was good after Storm had admitted his dragon was taking control more often without Storms permission, they had talked and his father had spoken extensively to his dragon and he had settled down since then, so he knew this was something else as direct as always Storm came straight to the point.

“The Axton family have demanded Lars attend them.”

Rene’ dropped his bag and gave his son his full attention. “What is he doing?”

“He is on his way there now.”

“I see, you are worried?”

“Yes you know it will be about Reighn’s decrees.”

“Oh I am sure it is.”

“They will wound him!”

Rene’ sighed, his son for all his blunt and sharp ways loved deeply, his heart was large and the most tender of all his boys, even Sharm.

“Are you suggesting we should go and keep an eye on them?” Rene’ asked.

Storm did not answer instead he said. “I told him he could not go but he said they mean nothing to him.” Storm looked away so his father would not see the deep concern he had for Lars.

“Ahh! What do you think we should do?”

“I want to kill them all so they do not hurt him and they cannot make him feel guilty like they do, he does not say that but he feels it.”

Rene’ walked to his second born son and hugged him. “Son sometimes we have to trust in what we have given him, he will not leave us now, he is ours in every way but name.”

Storm nodded into his father’s shoulder as he said. “He says he will not give that up, as it his right to bear the family name!”

“He is correct, his line goes back to the First Dragons, he should be proud of it.”

Storm hugged his father quickly then stepped back a smile on his face. “He said it annoyed them too.”

Rene’ laughed, “I bet it does. So son should we trust your brother to return to us?”

Storm looked away and then back at his father his dragon in his eyes. “If they hurt him or keep him from us, I will render their house gone.”

Rene’ squeezed his shoulder. “Fair enough, keep me informed.”

“Papa take care!”

“Always my son I have your Dam and you and all your brothers to come back too as well as my new grand babies.”

Storm smiled a rare occurrence these days. “They are cute.”

Rene’ saluted him as he walked out of the castle leaving Storm in the hallway alone or so he thought. “You could come with us to help him.” Said Reighn.

He stayed where he was watching his father enter the portal. “Why do you go?”

Reighn grinned as Johner and Stanvis stood beside him with Keeper. Johner said. “I heard whispers they are going to ask him to betray Reighn and kill us!” Storm slowly turned his expressionless face towards his brothers.

Come with us Storm, we can maybe hit someone!” said Keeper as he moved from Reighn’s side and stood beside him.

Storm eyed his brothers. “See that is a good reason!

They all walked from the castle leaving a hidden Verity quietly weeping for the hurt her son was to receive and cursing the ones who should know better for their arrogance.

CHAPTER FOUR:


As Storm was talking to his father and brothers, Lars launched himself into the sky a majestic navy blue dragon who coasted over the town and pastures making his unhurried way to the estate of the Axtons. Lars landed on the cobbled drive way and transformed looking up at the stone mansion, he walked the ten or so steps up towards the ornate doors that housed behind them people he did not particularly like.

As the Dragon Lords primary second his position afforded him a certain lifestyle and most of all what his family wanted, the power and control he wielded, their hope to gain control over him, through his bonding with a female of their choosing or his returning to the family was thwarted at every turn either by his refusal to co-operate or his total disregard for their wishes and he knew their fear of Reighn who was not his father and had little tolerance for ones such as his family as he had already displayed stopped them doing more than the occasion demanded.

Lars would not oblige them by meeting with any female who was usually much, much older than him nor would he remain in their home when they surprised him with such a female, which they had done on several occasions.

Unfortunately he knew they called this meeting not to thrust another female at him or to harangue him about his lack of duty to the Axton name by not returning to them. No it was because of what had happened in court the day before.

He stood now at the doors to a home that was never his and never would be and fortified his mental shields and gained control of his temper, it was he realized becoming harder to do.

He knocked once and the door was immediately opened by a male dragon a few years older than he was, the dragon looked at him bowed and said.

“Prime Lars, your parents and elders await you in the morning room.”

“Thank you Braxton, are you healthy?”

“I am my lord, thank you for asking.”

“That is good, you know where to find me if you need too, the castle is always open as well as lady Grace’s home.”

The dragon looked at him and raised an eyebrow as he asked. “Will that be necessary my lord Lars?”

“If this meeting is what I assume it is, then yes.”

“Thank you for your concern.” he meant warning, Lars knew that he would warn all the employees here and at the elders residence and they would make ready to leave.

He asked now. “You have been paid recently?”

When Lars had found out the servants did not receive an income he had made his parents and grandparents aware of the law which said they had to pay their servants, when they objected he had threatened to make their treatment of the dragons public, if they did not comply. He had then asked Stanvis to work out how much they were entitled too and how much back pay they were owed as well.

Begrudgingly they had paid and in full, he checked regularly now to make sure they still received on time their income. He and Stanvis had made sure all employees throughout the dragon nation were paid, it had taken a year but they had accomplished it.

With that one decision Lars and Stanvis had earned the loyalty of all the servants and the disdain of the Axtons and other nobles.

He gave Lars a small smile as he said. “We have, only yesterday as it happens! I will show you through my lord.”

Lars grinned inwardly, he just bet they paid them, knowing he was to come today. He placed his hand on the males arm halting his progress as he turned to lead him to the people waiting, saying in a near whisper. “Braxton would you and your brother Noah consider coming to work for me?”

A little startled the older male stopped he had no idea lord Lars knew of his brother Noah who was the chef of the house and nodded his head a pleased smile on his face and whispered back.

“We would my lord, indeed we would!”

Lars nodded and barely moving his lips said,

“Good today?

With raised eyebrows Braxton repeated his action and said. “Indeed my lord.”

Lars dropped his hand and Braxton walked ahead of Lars to the waiting people. When they came to a set of ornate gold leafed doors, he turned the handle of the doors to what Lady Axton called the morning room, basically another lounge just not as cluttered with antiques as the others were. He opened them with a flourish and announced.

“My Lord Prime Lars Axton!”

Lars stepped through as Braxton closed the doors behind him, just stopping the smile Braxton’s dramatics always caused, every time he came Braxton would do the same announcement in his sharp loud warriors voice no matter what room they entered, it annoyed his father and made his mother clutch her chest in distress which is why Braxton did it, petty as it was Lars always got a laugh from it.

Once prime Lars had entered Braxton closed the door then rushed at a pace unseen of in the home and entered the kitchen, saying as he entered.

“Noah leave all that and make your calls!”

“So it is today then?”

“Our lord Lars hinted it was.”

“What will become of us?” he asked, truly he was thankful to be leaving this house, he hated it but when he had been discharged from the Hunters because of wounds received in the line of duty and Braxton had taken early retirement from the Shields to be with him, to teach him to walk and move without a limp and to keep his dragon from succumbing to depression due to his inability to fly for many months. Dragons unfortunately would become depressed no matter what their human side did or tried to do not being able to soar in to the skies was a horrific fear for dragons especially wounded dragons who felt they had no future they would spiral from depression into dragon despair then slide right on into dragon madness which they can never be cured from.

Noah was well past depressed and into the first stages of despair when Braxton had returned and taken over his rehabilitation getting him to walk and then fly.

Braxton had also arranged financing for his training as a chef which had always been his lifelong dream it was only later he found out it was Commander Storm who had actually financed his schooling. Braxton had been sworn to secrecy. For a while Noah had felt guilty at what Braxton had given up for him until he found out Commander Storm had financed Braxton’s training in etiquette and butler training which amusingly enough was his dream. For Braxton and he who were large hardened Warriors their choices of occupations seemed ironic to most, to them it was a peaceful way to live.

This is why they had accepted positions from the Axtons, no one else had wanted to take two washed up warriors as servants. Braxton and Noah were the only servants to live within the home, while Noah cooked, Braxton was the manservant, they were both called upon to do guard duty on occasion.

Noah grinned at his brother he was junior to Braxton by fifty years, they were still large handsome ex warriors with a few well-placed scars which did not seem to offend the female shifters they had met so far, and as with every male dragon the brothers hoped to find their shadows amongst the shifters and humans pouring into Dragon’s Gap but knew it would not happen, hidden away as they were in this house with these people, neither brother had time for the Axtons or the elder Axtons, especially after they had found out what had happened to Lars.

The brothers had remained because Lord Lars had asked them to stay and report on what they could find out, which unfortunately was very little but they had helped the servants all get paid and made conditions better for servants everywhere.

Braxton brother to Noah smiled. “We will go to our lord and work for him.”

Noah turned all the way around from the counter he was cutting vegetables on. “Did he say both of us?”

“He did by name brother, we finally will be free from here.”

“Good this mission sucked.” A human term he had heard and liked it was the only way the brothers thought of their duty within the household as a mission it had made it easier for them to remain. They had decided after only three weeks of being hired to leave until Lord Lars had asked them to stay, he had offered them protection and to make life better for all servants, they had agreed.

Braxton laughed and clapped him on his back. “That is the truth, so when our lord leaves, we will follow. I will secure our possessions now, you make the calls.”

“I will.” Noah would call and let all the other servants know what was happening, plus call the elder Axton servants to tell them.

Braxton in the meantime would collect all their possessions and stash them in the shed out back, ready to leave.

CHAPTER FIVE:


Lars heard the door close behind him and the hurried feet of the ex shield moving away, he hoped he had taken the warning and was making ready to leave, he addressed the four people in the room. “Good morning you asked for my attendance.”

“This is how you greet your family?” asked his Grand Sire, elder in title only, the male was handsome and tall with well-defined muscles and features that were harsher and sharper than Lars, his eyes were brown and he had a mane of golden hair and prominent nose as did Lars father although his hair was still golden only cut shorter thankfully Lars had inherited his Dams grey eyes and more softer facial features with a normal size nose that on him became handsome he had a mixture of his Sires golden hair and his Dams white tresses given his hair a sun kissed look .

He was pleased he did not take after his father’s Dam, a bitter narrow faced female that always reminded Lars unkindly he knew of a rats face with beady brown eyes and pursed lips she always pulled her dark brown hair back from her forehead in a tight eye watering bun that sat on top of her head, how she ever got a hat on it entertained Lars endlessly. Thankfully his Dam only took after his Grand Dam in dress style her hair she styled in a coronet.

It was obvious to any that met the family who Lars received his build from he was as tall and as well muscled if not more so than the elder Axton, his father was less muscled due to his reluctance to train. Lars raised one eyebrow. “No I greet my family with affection.”

If it was possible the four faces went even stonier. Already he could feel his dragons impatience at being here in the home he felt he had failed Lars in, no matter how many times Lars told him it was not so. When he spoke his dragon’s growl underwrote each word, all heard it but did not comment, the one time they had done so, Lars had allowed his dragon to come forth and he had rained havoc in the house destroying many hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of antiques.

It was then they had found out there was no one to complain to they were his parents when they had mentioned it to Rene’ he had asked them in his polite intense way what they had done to upset his son, of course that was when he was years younger but the lesson had been taught.

“What is it you want and if it is another female. I leave now!”

“No!” his Sire an older version of Lars and a younger version of his own father, rose to his feet. He smiled and said softer. “No son.”

Which Lars ignored as he always did.

“We have called you here so you can explain all that nonsense that took place yesterday!”

Lars sighed, counted to ten and gave himself a mental pat on the back for being right.

“I am unsure which part you did not understand it all seemed self-explanatory to me!”

“Do not treat us as fools!” said his father.

“I assure you I do not.”

His Grand Sire sneered as he asked. “What has the house of Kingsley been feeding you boy, why must you be so foolish as to think they act in your best interests.”

Lars felt his dragon rise, elongating his eyes making the four dragons aware he was present, they were in a quandary the males knew they could take Lars, two against one plus their servants, would bring him down but to do so would to incur the wrath of the whole Kingsley family plus the rabble who he had endeared himself too.

Lars remembered his papa Rene’ saying sometimes, one must remind people who you were! It looked like this was to be one of those times as he snarled. Foolish….Boy! Who is it you think you are speaking too. I am Prime to the Dragon Lord…

His Dam cut in, “we know and we expect you to handle this?” Lars stopped and thought on what she had said, there was so much more going on, here. We? Who is we?”

His Grand Sire smirked as he threw a scroll at him, Lars caught it in his right hand as he looked at the four in the room, they all watched him with sharp eyes that never missed an expression, he made sure to keep his face impassive.

His Dam and his Sire’s Dam sat in long full green and lemon dresses better suited for the Victorian era, morning dresses he remembered mama Verity had called them once. A lot of the female elder dragons dressed as such, they thought it gave them a presence and respect, with their long gowns of silk and lace and their hair dressed in high styles, it was to remind everyone they had been alive a very long time, much as the males who wore the high collars of the past with dark suits did, he was sure his Sire did not even know what a pair of jeans were.

Lars was not impressed either with them or the show of unity they were trying hard to reflect.

He flicked the scroll and it unrolled and started to read the list of twenty family names all nobles, his parents and grandparent’s names were first and second on the list.

“What is this?”

But he knew, he knew his parents and grandparents had gone from supporters to traitors confirmed when his Sires Dam told him.

“It is a list of nobles who wish the realm dissolved and a new Dragon Lord established!”

Lars jerked when he heard the bald statement as though they were discussing a list to a ball not overthrowing the realm. Who have you decided to assume the position in Lord Reighn’s place?”

“Quenton Poult. his father told him with pride.

Lars shook his head in disbelief, a nice dragon but naive in many ways. Lars asked with an incredulous tone.He is only three hundred and forty years old, somewhat innocent and uneducated, does he realize what you are asking of him?”

Goddess no!” trilled his fathers Dam as she waved her lace handkerchief in front of her face.

His Dam explained. “He is a stupid boy but he is malleable, which is all that is necessary. His parents are pleased with our decision in choosing him.”

This made Lars bite back a smile now he understood their reasoning in why he had not been nominated for the position, Lars was the least malleable person he or they knew.

As for education we know he is lacking in this, knowledge would be dangerous.” Meaning Lars knew if he understood what was expected of him he would probably not go along with it. His Sire said. “With your guidance he will be exactly who we need.”

“My guidance! I see and the royal family?”

His Grand Sire smoothed imaginary lint from his sleeve as he explained. “What of them! They will have to go! There will be no place for them afterwards.”

“I see you expect them to just move along!”

They all looked at him and then the females laughed, his Dam shook her head at him as she brought herself under control. “Do not be a child of course not, we will see to that, deaths of families happen all the time, food goes bad, air turns sour. Those animals that he has aligned himself with may tear him and his family apart or his shadow the witch could accidentally cast an unfortunate spell, all manner of things kill families.” She shrugged nonchalantly, then she said with her eyes narrowed. “Seriously you are very badly educated for someone who lives at the castle did they not teach you history? Well never mind we as your parents and grandparents will handle this.”

His Grand Dam said with a tone of disappointment shadowing her words. “I see it will be too much for you to handle we had hoped not to involve outsiders into what is a family matter.” She sniffed delicately and flapped her lace handkerchief. “I see we are left with no choice.”

Lars stood absolutely still for a minute as he thought, her words rang untrue there were no outsiders it was a bluff to see if he would be stupid enough to volunteer, foolish people they did not know him at all. He asked quietly. “Surely you do not expect me to help you with this?”

“You are our son!” said his Sire.

His Grand Sire smirked as he stated.It is your family duty!”

Lars frowned as he told them. “It is treason, you are proposing here.”

“Rubbish!” Blustered the senior Axton as he took a swallow of his whiskey. “Mild rebellion at most!

Lars shook his head as he tried to make them understand they were wrong. “No! It is treason, you saw the Elementals yesterday, what they did, the judgment they handed down, and you are willing to risk their wrath. You wish to pit yourselves against them?”

His Sire scornfully stated. “Do not be stupid! of course not.”

Lars looked at the four people a little relieved, he may not like these people but he did not wish for them or anyone to suffer the fate of the people who had been on trial the day before for treason. “Then what do you have in mind, you will refuse to swear to the Dragon Lord?”

His Dam said archly. “Of course not, it is our duty to do so your father and grandfather will swear fealty on behalf of us all, to the Dragon Lord and the nation, then we will over throw him!”

Lars laughed he could not help it, these people were insane or so naive it was criminal. “And you say that is not treason!” he asked.

“Of course it is, rebellion is acceptable if done correctly and orderly we are accomplishing both. The Elementals will have nothing to say about it!” stated the elder Axton.

“Why is that?” Lars asked bewildered with their reasoning. His Sire spread his hands apart.

“It is a dragon issue that is why! Nothing to do with the Elementals.”

You think because you swear your loyalty to the Dragon Lord and the nation, this will protect you from his wrath and theirs, does every one of these people think the same?” Lars asked as he shook the paper with the names listed on it.

“Yes and there is you of course.”

“Me why me?”

“You are nest brother to the Dragon Lord himself taken by the past Dragon Lord and Lady, he would never embarrass his parents.”

What of the Elementals, Reighn is their chosen?”
“Why are you being so difficult?” whined his
Dam.

His Grand Dam sneered. “I told you he was a waste of time, they have brain washed him.”

His Sire shook his head.My Dam is right you are so disappointing as a son, can you not see the bigger picture here?”

Lars wanted to tell them they were wrong, he wanted to unleash his dragon on these foolish people, he closed his eyes desperately wanting to be gone from these obscenely entitled delusional people, he opened his eyes and shook his head as he opened the door.

There were so many things for you to have taken away from court yesterday but to your way of thinking now, the only important thing you should have realized and accounted for, was technology!”

He showed them his left hand and the phone in it. “This allowed my Lord to hear and understand everything that was said, there will be no going back from what you planned.”

It was only then they heard the booted feet approaching the room, Reighn stood with his brothers and guards in the doorway and received the scroll from Lars, he looked his brother in the eye as he softly said. “There will be no reprieve!”

Lars bowed his head. “I understand, the young dragon Quenton Poult, knows nothing of this.”

“I am sure he does not.” He signalled a guard closer. Arron, go and collect Quenton Poult and secure him somewhere safe please.”

As you will my Lord.” He saluted and left with two others. Reighn after he gave the scroll a quick look, handed the list to Storm and Keeper.

“If you will brothers.”

With pleasure!” Keeper said as he gave the four ashen faced people a hard look. Storm squeezed Lars arm in comfort and said to the four shocked Axtons. “As if you had not done enough!”

He left with Keeper and several guards to round up the other conspirators.

Lars asked Stan, “Make sure all is removed to storage please and the servants are taken care of.”

“As you wish Prime. Both residences?”

“Yes please.”

Without a backward look at the people who purported to be his family Lars walked away, he did not halt even when the outraged shouts from the males and the cries from the females rang in his ears, he just left closing the door on the house and that part of his life forever. He went to Verity landing on her balcony and stepped into her open arms. It is over now my son, mama Verity has you now!” he sighed in relief and stayed with her throughout the day and the night, he stayed with her when they felt Reighn breathe dragon fire on the homes of the guilty, when he felt the Elementals remove them from the world.

It was a very hard few weeks for Lars and the family with the betrayal of the nobles, the attacks on the retrievers and the kidnapping of Grace.

Now weeks later he sat here in this place on this day drinking really good coffee while he watched his town come alive.

CHAPTER SIX:


He grinned as he watched a little boy skip beside a teenager laughing up at her as they walked with a bakery bag oozing he bet with sweet cinnamon rolls.

He had woken from a particular nasty dream this morning just as the sun had risen neither he or his dragon had been able to resist the lure of the crisp air as the skies lightened to blue, they had flown far surfing the air currents high above the world for what seemed like hours, eventually they had returned circling high above the castle he had landed briefly to leave a message with June to give to Reighn as castle liaison she relieved him of having to hunt Reighn down to pass on the messages he blessed the day Sage had introduced her into their lives.

After refusing tea and a longer visit with June he had launched into the sky once more, and thirty minutes later he and his dragon had felt centered with the remnants of the dream forgotten and had landed to walk the early morning streets, finally settling at this table to enjoy his first coffee of the day.

He loved to sit and watch the many people walking the streets, he felt a wave of despair flow over him would he ever find his mate or what dragons called their shadow to their souls. Would he ever get the opportunity to raise young like his brothers and friends, their own and claimed, he hoped he would, in that he was like every other dragon wanting a family. He shook of the feeling of unhappiness, it was a changing world he was living in and he loved every minute of it whether he was lucky enough to find his shadow or not he was still loved by his family.

Watching his lifelong friends find their soul shadows or mates as the shifters called them was a balm to his heart, even Stan, his nest brother had found his shadow Jacqueline or Jacks for short, she was a tall slim very beautiful, studious Leopard who wore glasses and wore business suits which he had to admit she suited. Not that he thought Jacks would have been a good fit for him, she was too serious and reserved for Lars way of thinking, he wanted a demure, well dressed female that would rather be at home than work, someone who was tall, polished a female who could understand his need to be active and present in his job, as primary second to the Dragon Lord he was required to know everything that went on within the dragon nation, to be on call day and night was a trial but it was his life. Lars smiled as he thought of his soul shadow and what she would be like.

He sighed again and sipped his coffee as he went back to people watching, he caught a flash of orange from the corner of his eye but when he turned his head and looked along the street he saw nothing, frowning he shrugged and went on with his people watching, he loved this town he had visited other towns in other countries over the years and still he thought even with all the growth around him he still loved the feel of Dragon’s Gap and often thought he should live right in the middle of it all rather than the castle, especially now that the Gap was growing so fast, it would be invigorating to be part of it.

So involved in his thoughts he did not see the flying kitten until it landed rump first on his table and spun towards him stopping on its third rotation to look up into his eyes.

Lars lost his heart then and there as he stared into two green liquid pools that were clear and beautiful and when the kitten got up on all fours and crawled over to him, nudging his hand, he automatically lifted it and stroked the soft fur from its head to the tip of its tail.

Oops! Kammy thought I weally am a good jumper like unca rain said.

When she felt her dada’s hand stroke her fur, all thoughts fled from her mind as his soft touch made her purr which surprised Lars and enticed his dragon to croon dragon’s song in return.

Lars was stunned, he had no idea his dragon could make that sound, suddenly he heard loud voices calling, he scooped the kitten into his arms where she proceeded to wash his fingers and purr even louder.

His dragon grumbled and stopped his song as June walked over and sat in the vacant chair while she talked into her phone.

“No I have her, she has found Lars… No she looks fine!”

Hanging up she looked at the kitten who had now placed its little head in the palm of Lars hand. “You are in such trouble little missy!”

Lars cuddled her closer. “Who is this that says she is in trouble?”

June laughed. “That would be her mama, that is who and you should maybe let her go because if I’m not mistaken that is her coming now?”

Lars looked over his shoulder to where June was looking and saw a small woman maybe five foot or five foot one, walking toward them with curves that made his dragon sit up and pant, really pant! she had short spiked hair that was striped black and white, her jeans had seen better days a tee shirt covered her ample breasts barely, the shirt had been washed so many times the color was faded it may have started out gray but was more white now, her leather jacket was worn and weathered she had on black biker boots that finished the look, she was pocketing a phone as she came nearer.

Lars inwardly shook his head, how did someone like her end up with this precious bundle he held in his arms because he had been sure before June arrived that the kitten was a shifter and she confirmed it when she talked directly to the little one.

Lars watched the woman advance, he was sure he would see the usual tattoos and piercings but as she came closer he realized his mistake, it was not a Gothic outfit or clothes to make a statement like people he had encountered over the years wore. Studying her he knew that she wore clothes she could afford or deemed necessary and it shamed him to think he had jumped to an erroneous conclusion.

Then his dragon roared to escape, trying to push through his skin, wanting to touch, to feel his soul shadow she was here finally, Shadow!

His dragon roared again to escape, Lars struggled to contain him and not drop the kitten, then a small hand calloused with use, touched the skin on his chest above the open collar of his shirt.

Immediately his dragon ceased its struggles, beyond coherent words, Lars nodded his head in thanks to the female who slowly removed her hand. She stood folding her arms as he stood with the kitten in his arms, she looked him up and down and lent in a little and sniffed and sniffed again just as the kitten was doing.

June stood and placed her arm around the female with affection and protection, he wondered what she saw in his face to warrant the reaction then he realized it was for the comfort of the female not because of him.

Fear looked out at him from green eyes not as deep as her daughters but just as vibrant he lent down a little way and sniffed her much as she had him and could scent her anxiety, he lent in closer and rubbed his cheek against hers and whispered in her ear. “Shadow!”

She seemed to relax at his word or it could have been the familiar action she and the kitten had done that settled her, whichever it was, she nodded very slightly as he withdrew.

Amused June carried on with the introductions. “Lars Axton this is Claire Nash and the little one is Kammy who is Claire’s daughter. I know you have heard Sage and myself talk about Claire before, it is amazing you have not really met until now.”

She turned her head to Claire and said. “Claire this is Lars Axton as you know he is Prime to Reighn and nest brother to Stanvis and all the Kingsley brothers.

Claire groaned silently her mate, she had finally found her mate and what a mate he was, tall with broad shoulders that tapered down to a narrow waist and legs that held muscles as did his arms in fact she bet he had muscles on muscles.

Could you say gorgeous! He had golden with white streaks hair that was professionally styled and sat just past his collar, shorter than the Hunters she knew. Claire clenched her hands, she so wanted to run her fingers through all of it to feel the texture to feel it slip through her fingers like silk, she bet it was soft and smelled good. Then she felt her work roughened hands and realized that was so not going to happen there was no way she could put her hands on him it would be embarrassing.

Claire had a thing about mens fingers or hands and there was no denying her mate’s fingers were long and his hands were wide and strong. ‘Yummy!

She sighed he was an all over beautiful man, and rich she could tell from his styled haircut, to his tailored clothes, what she wondered did he think of her.

What Lars thought was summed up in one word Enchantress! she was delightful from her black and white hair to her lovely rounded breast that almost made him whimper with want to her delectable legs that ended in a pair of combat boots that had to be the smallest pair he had ever seen on an adult she was more elfin than warrior but as he looked into her startling green eyes he saw the core of steel within her slight frame.

Claire shook her head in amusement at herself, she was not sure if she wanted to crawl all over him or run for the hills, an honest to goddess Dragon, she had not in her wildest dreams and Claire had lots of dreams, ever thought a Dragon would be her mate or if she would ever have a mate.

She refused to hear the little voice that sounded a lot like her hateful ex-boyfriend who said often before she shot him of course, Why would any man want someone like you a street rat? She banished the voice to the recesses of her mind and placed herself in the here and now as she said. “I am probably not what you thought your shadow would be like. I expect you wanted some tall, slim professional female, not a half breed cougar who lived on the streets and can’t remember what country she was born in and has had no contact with her family since I was thirteen and has no wish too!”


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