Home > Elven Doom (Death Before Dragons #4)(8)

Elven Doom (Death Before Dragons #4)(8)
Author: Lindsay Buroker

“Let’s just say that you may want to see if whatever records you have on me are still in the office.”

“Care to expound?”

“I will in the morning. I’m about to visit the Northern Pride to see if the shifters there know anything about the dark elves.”

I will also come. Zav had finished the meat—all of it—and leaned back in his chair with his hands folded across his stomach. Any normal human who’d eaten that much without exploding would have had a bulging gut, but shapeshifters didn’t seem to bloat. Lucky them.

“That sounds like a bad idea,” Willard said. “You killed some of their officers recently.”

“I haven’t forgotten.”

“I doubt they’ve forgotten either. I’ll send one of my people to question them.”

“Your people won’t get the answers I can get. Don’t worry. I’m going to take backup.” I smiled at Zav and leaned across the table to wipe barbecue sauce off his face. “Ferocious backup.”

Zav’s eyebrows drifted upward, but he tolerated this mothering. Maybe because I’d called him ferocious.

“I hope he’s reliable,” Willard muttered, not sounding pleased with my initiative.

“He is.”

“If the shapeshifters don’t maul you, be here at eight tomorrow to meet this intern.”

“What if they do maul me?”

“You can have until eight-thirty.”

“Generous.” I hung up and paid the bill with my dwindling wad of cash. The money was for bribing informants, not feeding dragons. Hopefully, with Zav along, I wouldn’t need to bribe the shifters to speak with me. “You said you’re willing to come speak with the Northern Pride with me?”

“Speak with them?”

“We may need to speak forcefully.” If we didn’t end up in a fight. I stood up, leaving a nice tip for the waiter. “Feel free to bully them.”

“Bullying feline shifters is permissible but not slow waitstaff?”

“Exactly.”

His brow creased as he stood. “Are you doing what is referred to as sending mixed signals?”

“No. That would be if I told you I would never consider having a relationship with a dragon and then kissed you.”

“Haven’t you done that?”

“You kissed me.” At least in the hot tub, he had. Dobsaurin had forced me to instigate our other kiss. But so far, I’d managed to keep from voluntarily planting my lips on Zav.

“You have wished to kiss me.” Through some magic, he caused the door to open ahead of us.

“I thought you couldn’t read my thoughts.”

We stepped outside together, Zav sticking close to my side as we hurried down the street to a shop with an awning. Rain hammered down on the street with a stream flowing toward the nearest stormwater drain. I thought of the four blocks to where I’d parked my Jeep and wondered if Zav could magic us there or keep us dry for the walk.

“I do not need telepathy to know you wish to mate with me.” Zav said it as if he were stating a simple fact, as if he’d been privy to the many lurid dreams I’d had about him since we’d met. And damn if my cheeks didn’t flush with warmth.

“Is that so?” I wasn’t sure I could lie to him, but I didn’t want to admit he had any power over me beyond purely magical power. Even that, I resented. “I guess you think it’s impossible for a female of any species to resist your allure. But I can. I have no desire to be your claimed Tlavar-thingy.”

“Oh, I know this. You only wish me to join you in your bed.”

I shook my head, though I couldn’t meet his eyes as I made my silent denial.

“You wish to serve and obey no one.” Zav smirked and touched my cheek. “I believe you vex even your own boss.”

Why did that simple touch light a spark deep inside me? And make me think of him in my bed? I didn’t want him to be right. It was much better when smugly arrogant people—and dragons—were proven wrong.

“I vex a lot of people.”

“Yes.” His smirk grew broader. “This is a foolish practice, since your human half is so weak and you haven’t learned to tap into your elven ancestry. In truth, it should not please me.”

“But you like feisty women, eh?”

“Yes.”

Zav lowered his hand but only to slip it around my waist and pull me close.

I tried not to look at his lips. Those lips could get me in trouble. “I don’t suppose you’d like to show me how to tap into that ancestry? Teach me some magic?”

“Each species uses magic in a way that relies on the natural aptitudes and abilities of their kind. Only a dragon may teach a dragon to use magic, and only an elf may teach an elf.”

“That’s disappointing.”

“I would teach you if I could.” He touched my cheek with his finger as his gaze locked with mine. Looking into his eyes was just as dangerous as looking at his lips. I found myself leaning against his chest as he added, “I do not wish to disappoint you.”

He kissed me, and I stopped pretending I didn’t want him to. His lips were not gentle and teasing but hungry and demanding. It startled me—he’d never been so straightforward about acting on his desires—but I didn’t pull away. A lot more than a spark ignited in me, and before I could think better of it, my arms wrapped around him, sealing our bodies together. His hands roamed under my jacket, and that felt almost as good as his aura crackling over me. I leaned against his body, unable to think of resisting him.

I do not know if it is wise, Zav spoke telepathically as his mouth explored mine, but I will claim you physically as well as magically. You will be mine in all senses.

I don’t belong to you or anyone else, I thought, though I knew I would go back to my apartment with him in a heartbeat, no matter what silly words he was saying into my mind.

I will take you in the carnal way of this species. When I am in this form, I think of it often. Since we fought together in the water plant, I have wanted you. I have not been honest with you because I’ve known it could be a mistake to act on these human urges, but even when I am in my native form, I want you next to me. Fighting at my side. Mine.

Magic flowed from his fingers, caressing me in places he wasn’t even touching, and all coherent thoughts tumbled from my mind.

Take me to my apartment, I thought, tempted to wrap my legs around him right there, but… We can’t have sex in the middle of the sidewalk.

No? He teased me with a lick of magic in a sensitive spot and shifted me against the wall. Nobody will get between a dragon and his mate.

It was true. A few people had walked our way, but they’d gone out in the rain to cross the street rather than disturb us.

I have a lot of enemies. And so do you. Dropping our pants in the open would make us both vulnerable.

I do not have pants.

I snorted. I do. Let’s go back to my place, so I can get out of them.

For the first time, he withdrew his mouth from mine, pausing his tactile and magical explorations of my body. I gripped his shoulders in confused protest. We weren’t going to stop now, were we?

Why do you want so much to mate at your domicile? Suspicion laced the words. He peered into my eyes, trying to read the story of my mind.

I groaned and dropped my forehead to his shoulder. I should have known. The seduction thing. His treacherous elf lover had probably lured him back to her room for the assassination attempt.

“Look, Zav,” I murmured into his shoulder, not bothering to hide the sexual frustration in my voice. “If you don’t trust me enough to get naked with me, fine, but you can’t start something you don’t intend to finish. It’s…”

“Agonizing,” he murmured, sounding frustrated himself.

I barely resisted the urge to grab him and kiss him again, to try to make him forget his concerns. Right then, aching all over with such longing as I’d never known, I would have sex against the building with him. But if I tried to push it, that might make him more mistrustful.

A nearby door opened and two people came out. They started, surprised to see us entwined against the wall, then put their umbrellas up and hurried away.

Zav stepped back from me, and I bit my lip on another protest. He half-turned, looking toward the cloudy night sky.

“I must go,” he said.

“Go? But we were going to visit the shifters,” I said, as if we hadn’t been about to abandon that plan to shag like bunnies all night long.

“I’ve been told there is trouble at home. I must return to my world.” Zav looked back to me. “Do not see the shifters until I get back. There would be too many for you to handle. I will join you to bully them.” He nodded firmly. “And to protect you.”

“Zav…” I started to tell him I didn’t need a protector, except where dragons were involved, but whatever message he’d received must have been alarming.

He ran out into the street, changed forms, and sprang into the sky. A silver portal formed ahead of him, and he disappeared through it.

I let my head thunk back against the wall, trying to regain my equilibrium. I didn’t pick up that many guys, especially not these days, but I wasn’t used to them breaking things off in the middle and refusing to come home with me. Leave it to me to get hot and bothered over a dragon with trust issues.

Straightening my clothes, I resolutely walked out from under the awning. Cold rain pounded down on my head, but I didn’t mind it now. I needed it.

You will not get your opportunity to betray my brother, a voice spoke into my mind.

I almost fell off the curb. Zondia.

Where was she? I hadn’t sensed her presence. Granted, I’d been hugely distracted, but wouldn’t Zav have sensed her?

Wait, maybe he had. Maybe that was who’d spoken to him.

Are you the one who told him to go home? I demanded.

He is needed there.

Is he really or were you just trying to get him away from me?

   
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