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  2. Today is going to be AMAZING, going to go play with some baby goats and then to my nephews graduation party.... :2thumbs:

    1. Reader1810

      Reader1810

      Playing with baby goats sounds like lots of fun. 

      Have a great day. :) 

  3. Sweet, clueless Ira didn’t realize he met his father? As absentminded and silly as our dear Ira is, he is meant for greatness, so great and pure it can’t be hidden. He is guided by love and wants so much love, he doesn’t recognize anger can hide fear and desire, he only focuses on being unwanted because he’s different. Control, domination and destruction are the methods used against what is feared and not understood; He’s been told he’s broken all his life but he is the whole one. Rejected and despised, he still became an Alpha’s mate, he is the key in this war to come.
  4. aditus

    Stargazer

    I still balk at calling myself a poet. Thank you, AC, for your kind words.
  5. dughlas

    Chapter 33

    Wonderful chapter.
  6. aditus

    Foray

    LOL I couldn't resist mentioning the 'pearly juices' only the love of Zeus and Ganymede is given an eternally happy ending. That is an interesting understanding of their story.
  7. Happy Birthday!

  8. CassieQ

    Flashpoint

    Thank you. I don't think that Grant didn't value his partner's safety, but I don't think he realized how dangerous Jim was, and not only to Sarah. I'm sure he feels guilty after what Elliot endured and has to continue to deal with and I don't think he'll underestimate anyone anymore. Thank you for reading and commenting.
  9. Katya Dee

    Chapter 12

    - XII - She walked rather slowly, enjoying slight breeze on her face. “Just keep walking,” she thought lazily. “Everything is fine; just keep on walking...” She blinked and tried to figure out why she would think something like this right now. She glanced around, making sure she didn't move her head. Everything seemed fine. She didn’t sense anything; there were quite a few people around, but they seemed to be minding their own business and neither one of them as much as glanced at Katrena. “Everything is safe,” she thought and bit her lip. “There is absolutely nothing to worry about... Everything is perfectly fine.” No, it’s not, and she knew that now. Those were not her thoughts, she realized. If those are not her thoughts, that could only mean one thing... “Just relax and enjoy your walk,” she thought in spite of herself and gritted her teeth. It’s a mind controller and for some reason, he or she is after her right now. Katrena was not an easy manipulation subject, she knew that, but this person, whoever it was, seemed to know what they were doing. “Oh, I completely forgot about the shortcut,” she thought and gritted her teeth again. “I am getting rather tired; I better take this shortcut... It’s right here, on my right...” She looked to the right. There was a dark alley with the streetlights that burned out eons ago. Son of a bitch, she fumed darkly. There was no shortcut. This alley was nothing but a dead-end. She headed towards the alley nevertheless. No need to tip this son of a bitch off; no need to let him or her know that she is aware of what’s going on. She walked into the alley. “Oh, there is something wrong with my shoe,” she thought when she was far enough from the main street and was alone in that alley. “It’s going to bother me. I have to take a look at it right now. It’s probably a small rock, that’s what it is...” She gritted her teeth once again when she actually stopped in spite of herself and looked down at her shoe, which was perfectly fine. Son of a bitch, this mind controller was good; hell, he (she?) was better than good. To force someone like Katrena to do something she didn’t intend – that was bloody brilliant! She looked at her shoe, knowing that the minute she bent down, someone was going to jump her. Fine, let’s play then. She bent down just a little, this time out of her own will, her posture relaxed, even though she felt she was one live wire. Then, right after she bent down, she felt free again. That meant that whoever was trying to jump her right now, was convinced enough that she was completely unaware of what’s going on. “Beautiful,” she thought her own thought finally. She had no idea what else that son of a bitch could do, so she decided against waiting any longer. She threw herself forward, making sure that her body made a perfect twist and roll, and two seconds later, she was facing her attacker (she knew that the person was behind her) while calling upon Fire. The flames roared immediately, and Katrena almost let herself to relax (nobody would be able to survive this) when to her astonishment, the fire died off with a small whimper. Well, crap. She immediately pulled up a barrier, thought for a second, and threw a Reflector in as well. Extra caution never hurt anyone. Right when she did it, she felt an impossibly overwhelming desire to take both – the barrier and Reflector – off and just relax finally. She bit her lip hard enough to draw blood. Pain immediately brought everything into sharper focus, and the desire swayed considerably. Katrena closed her eyes and reached for the closest magic stream. It turned out to be an Illusion. That was just fine. She slightly frowned, trying to imagine herself in the mirror perfectly. Several seconds later, she opened her eyes and stared into nothing. Then she blinked, and suddenly, another layer of herself detached from her physical form and dashed forward. Just as she expected, her attacker swallowed the bait and her mind was free once again. This time, she didn’t think much, and the second she saw a shadow of a figure in the darkness of the alley, she called upon the Earth and thin roots emerged from underneath the asphalt. She knew that those roots could hold an elephant in one place for as long as she desired. To her greatest astonishment and even greater frustration, that son of a bitch managed to notice her trap right before those roots engulfed that shadowy figure. The person slid aside without as much as a scream, and Katrena sank her teeth into her lip once again when she felt a huge wave of desire to give up. She desperately threw another barrier onto herself, trying to shake her mind free. It worked, but only partially. She knew that it was not going to last forever. She was not going to last forever. Without lowering her barriers and Reflector, she yelled: “Okay! It’s a draw! What the hell do you want and who in the bloody hell are you?!” The shadowy figure froze in its place. Then, several seconds later, Katrena felt the alien desire leaving her mind, and she took a quick breath, wincing from the taste of her own blood in her mouth. “What do you want?” she called loudly. “Show yourself, goddammit!” The shadows shifted ever so slightly, and a few seconds later, Katrena’s attacker stepped into her view. So it’s a he, she thought. The man seemed to be in his early thirties, but she knew that it meant nothing. He could be a hundred years old for all she knew. “What do you want?” she asked again, and he let out a small laughter. “I want to kill you, of course,” he said, and she blinked. “Why?” she demanded. “I have no idea who you are!” That wasn’t a good reason and she knew that. Considering the amount of people she wasted, there could be an army of bloodthirsty relatives and beloved ones after her head. “Apparently,” the man said almost calmly. “You mean something to him. That’s a good enough reason.” “I mean something to whom?” Katrena asked in bewilderment. So he wasn’t after her because she killed someone he knew or loved. He was after her because... Well, apparently, she meant something to someone. “Salamander,” was the reply she got, and her eyes grew huge. “Julian Salamander,” the man continued. “I had no idea that someone like him could actually develop something that would resemble human feelings... After watching you two tonight, however, I realized that you mean something to him...” “Julian?!” she said incredulously. “Oh my God... Whoever you are... Julian couldn't care less about what happens to me... We have been dancing the same dance for the past four years! It will never happen! I am just someone who keeps saying ‘no’... Also, I am someone who will send him to hell if he tries anything, and he knows that! I don’t mean jack to him! I like him; I have to admit it, in spite of the fact that I am perfectly aware of what he is capable of and what he’s done... However, I would never succumb to him! Whoever you are, you are humping up the wrong tree right now!” She was greeted by complete silence. “You are lying,” the man said finally. There was no attack, however. “I am not lying,” she said tiredly. “Listen, I don’t know what Julian did... Wait,” she sighed. “Let me rephrase that... I don’t know whom he killed that got your panties up in a bunch, and I couldn't care less, to be honest... Julian and I...” She took a breath. “To be honest, I don’t know what we are,” she admitted. “But what I do know, is the fact that he couldn't care less about what happens to me...” She had no idea if it was true or not. She didn’t care. “Go ahead,” she purred (“Julian would be proud,” someone whispered in her head). “Go ahead and try taking another swing at me... It won’t be easy, just a word of advice... I don’t know about Julian, but I would feel a hell of a lot better if I wasted you myself... By the way,” she added in a somewhat normal voice. “Who is it that you are itching to avenge? Your mate?” “No,” he said. “I never had a mate. My nephew... Well...” he shrugged. “My sister as well, I suppose. She killed herself after Damien died...” “I see,” she nodded. “Well, you are not going to get your...” she remembered the word Julian used a bit ago. “...closure by killing me. You might want to find another object of his affection... Good luck with that though,” she added doubtfully. “I don’t think he has any. Why wouldn’t you just kill him?” She was genuinely curious. “You seem like someone who wouldn’t have troubles with that...” “I don’t want to kill him,” the man said simply. “I want to make him suffer. Not physically,” he said with a small smile in his voice. “That would be doing him a favor... Emotionally; that kind of pain he doesn’t enjoy.” “I see,” she nodded again. “Well, if we are done here, I am going to go home now... And I am not taking shortcuts,” she added. The man stood there without moving or saying anything. “By the way,” Katrena said in a low voice when she brushed past him. “Get into my head one more time and I’ll kill you.” She didn’t wait for his response and walked away. **** She woke up because of the furious door slam. Katrena blinked several times, trying to figure out where in the world she was. Then she remembered, and a small moan escaped her mouth. It was a dream, she realized and buried her head under the pillow. She dreamt about that night when she met Jett for the first time; the night when he made her call for a draw. The damn dream was so vivid that she expected to see Jett’s head on the pillow next to hers the second she opened her eyes... She cursed under her breath and got up, her fingertips tingling with illusion of dreamt game with Fire. God, she missed that... She brushed her teeth, changed her pajamas, and went downstairs. The minute she left her bedroom, she heard rather loud voices from the kitchen. By the time Katrena made it to the bottom of the spiral staircase, one of the voices was almost screaming. It belonged to Mandy. Katrena glanced at Rusty the Dog who was wisely hiding under the stairs, as if afraid that if he got in Mandy’s way right now, he’d be sucked into the vortex of fury as well. Judging by the rapidly increasing volume of Mandy’s voice, the vortex was in full bloom and growing. Katrena sighed and went into the kitchen. “What’s all the hubbub about?” she asked and made her way towards the espresso maker. Mandy whirled towards her. “He...” she said in a trembling voice and poked her finger at Danny, whose expression was miserable but defiant. “He...” Mandy repeated. “...got suspended from school!” she finished. “Oh yeah?” Katrena raised her eyebrows. “For what?” “Fighting,” Mandy fumed. “He almost hospitalized Timmy Barker!” Katrena gave Danny a ‘Good-For-You’ look and he grinned. Mandy closed her eyes as if trying to stop herself from doing him bodily harm. “For the last time,” she said slowly, her eyes still closed. “Where did you learn that move?” “I saw it on TV,” Danny said stubbornly. “No, you did not,” Mandy said in the same slow drawl. “According to your principal, that move of yours could easily break Timmy’s windpipe if you applied more pressure...” Katrena blinked and glanced at Danny whose expression was very gloomy. “That is not a kind of move you would learn by merely watching television,” now Mandy sounded dangerous. “This means, someone taught you. Now, I want to know what kind of people you are hanging out with, because apparently, they could teach you a hell of lot worse things...” Mandy was so pissed off right now that she didn’t even notice she said ‘hell.’ “I don’t want you to hang out with some kids who apparently have a very clear criminal incline... I don’t want you to get under bad influence. Now for the very last time... Who taught you? And if you say ‘TV’ again, you will be grounded until you graduate from high school,” she promised. “Nobody taught me,” Danny said as stubbornly as before. “I saw it on...” “Oh, for the love of God,” Katrena sighed and pushed the ‘On’ button on the espresso maker. “I did, okay? I taught him.” Mandy stared at her as if Katrena suddenly sprouted a couple of horns in the middle of her forehead. Katrena shrugged. “After his fiasco yesterday...” she shrugged again. “What fiasco?” Mandy frowned, and Danny immediately made huge, desperate eyes at Katrena, which she ignored. “Did you see his bruise?” she asked instead, her eyes locked on Mandy’s face. “You told me you fell!” Mandy said incredulously, shifting her gaze towards Danny who closed his eyes. “Fell?” Katrena snorted. “Oh, Mandy... How would someone fall to get such a bruise on the eye? That’s not the marking of the stairs or the floor... That’s the marking of a fist!” “Yeah,” Mandy muttered and shot her a dark look. “You would know about the markings...” “I would,” Katrena nodded simply. “I also figured that Timmy kid didn’t sound like the type who’d back off; and call me crazy, but I thought you’d like your son to have his both eyes intact by the end of the school year...” she shrugged again. “So yeah, I taught him a couple of moves.” “A couple?” Mandy blinked. “Oh, Jesus... What else did you teach him?” “Well,” Katrena glanced at the espresso maker and noted that her mug was almost full, to her satisfaction. “How to make a fist properly, and I showed him a few weak spots on the body that could knock out a horse if used correctly...” “Oh my Lord Jesus Christ on the bloody treadmill...” Mandy closed her eyes for a second. “You are grounded until Monday,” she said after she opened them and looked at Danny. “Jeff’s birthday party is on Saturday,” Danny said in a small voice. “He is my best friend...” “Tough,” Mandy hissed. “Now go to your room!” “Mandy,” Katrena sighed and took her mug. She hesitated for a second, sighed again, and handed it to Mandy. “What are you grounding him for? For standing up for himself or for not turning me in?” Mandy took the mug and narrowed her eyes at Katrena who started to work the espresso maker again. She sipped her coffee and looked at Danny. “What time is Jeff’s party on Saturday?” she asked finally. “Two,” Danny almost whispered, unborn tears reflecting in his eyes. “You are grounded until then,” Mandy said in somewhat calmer voice, and Danny stared at her with disbelief. “Get out of my sight,” she finished. “Now,” she added when he just stood there, his eyes darting back and forth between Katrena and his mother. “Kid,” Katrena said in a low voice. “If I were you, I wouldn’t push my luck and I would get the hell out of here.” Danny blinked and darted out of the kitchen. Mandy sipped more coffee. “Why didn’t you tell me that he got into a fight yesterday?” she asked finally. “What would you do?” Katrena leaned on the counter. “I would go to the principal!” Mandy nodded energetically. “I would take measures! I would make sure that...” “...Timmy Barker beats all shit out of Danny when he comes back from his suspension,” Katrena finished with a slight nod. “Mandy, I’ve met people like Timmy. It doesn’t matter how old they are; they are wired the same way. People like Timmy Barker do not respond to reasoning or common sense. They respond to brutality, that’s it. If Danny said anything to you or the teacher, he’d be cornered in that boys’ room until he ended up in ICU... If he kept his mouth shut and did nothing, he’d have to go through the exact same thing, and you know why?” “Why?” Mandy asked very tiredly. “Because,” Katrena glanced at her mug under the dripping nozzle of the espresso maker. “Once they find an easy prey, they don’t stop until something changes. Talking to him would be futile. Danny needed to react. I showed him how.” “Why wouldn’t he just tell me?” Mandy finished her coffee and slammed the mug on the counter. “Because I asked him not to,” Katrena said seriously. “I wasn’t sure about your reaction... Now,” she grabbed the full by now mug and turned off the machine. “He would rather miss Jeff’s party than turn me in...” she sipped her coffee and half-closed her eyes. “It should make you proud, really...” “Proud...” Mandy hemmed. “The kid is not a traitor,” Katrena nodded seriously. “I’d be proud...” “Yeah, well,” Mandy snorted and pointedly looked at Katrena’s stomach. “Just wait a little... Your pride-bringer is on the way. Are you gonna teach your kid the same things you taught Danny?” “Oh, hell, no,” Katrena said seriously, and Mandy’s eyes became wide. “I’ll teach that monkey a hell of a lot more,” she finished, and this time, Mandy laughed.
  10. "If to love and hate are both self-inflicted pains, 

    I'll choose the more rewarding torment for myself." 

    Euenus (Greek Anthology, 12:172)

     

    1. Mikiesboy

      Mikiesboy

      That made me smile on this gloomy day.  xo

  11. aditus

    Stargazer

    You point out the very heart of the poem --and mine.
  12. aditus

    Constellation Leo

    Voli me Tangere" is a brilliant addition to the theme. I would have never thought of that! Brilliant! Thank you, Rigby!
  13. Today
  14. Good Morning Sir, coffee?

     

    72d00ef4d0bcf17e36c57d3b8882a096--cup-of-coffee-coffee-time.jpg

  15. aditus

    Voli Me Tangere

    I'm so glad you chose Voli Me Tangere to get to know my work, not many people read this story. I'm intrigued by your conclusion: (and that raises the possibility that current moves to treat both genders as equals might fall foul of the natural animosity between males and females and result in disaster for one group.) Thank you, Rigby.
  16. Timothy M.

    Chapter 33

    Great lead up to the wedding. Cassie is a wonderful planner.
  17. CassieQ

    Flashpoint

    It is certainly sad that Elliot and Grant were so much at odds with each other and that Elliot had to go through what he did. I think it speaks great volumes of Elliot's love towards Grant that he is willing to try and work through what happened, but I think the two of them still have a ways to go. Thank you so much reading and commenting!
  18. Thirdly

    Epilogue

    Yes, they are all quite happy. Glad you enjoyed the story.
  19. Thirdly

    Epilogue

    Agreed. Kris could have done much worse, but he preferred "hands-on" to weapons and emotional torture to homicide.
  20. Broadswords Chapter Forty-Six The Battle, Part Two Von was dead. Kasaj and Orvit, the seventh- and eighth-ranked slayers, were dead. Their numbers were dwindling at a rapid pace. One battle had already cut the Jhirdyrian slayers down by a third. And it didn't seem like it was slowing down one bit. Daegon was uncharacteristically finding himself doubting their chances. He didn't often have such a grim outlook, but this was different. While Elan was battling alongside Tayrick and Feodoro, Daegon's group wasn't as well-rounded. Lana, the only non-slayer involved, was holding her own more than the other two. Caspin, the sixth-ranked, and Verne, the ninth, were practically useless. Whereas he and Lana had formed a smooth rhythm, the newcomers were not on the same page. If they didn't get their acts together, they might end up getting them all killed. Daegon hadn't seen other slayers in action in quite some time. If this was how they all performed during their more routine slays, it was no wonder they hadn't moved up in the rankings. There had already been two or three occasions in which Daegon's quick reaction time had prevented them from getting devoured as Orvit had. Neither of the men had the dexterity that Daegon would expect to see in any slayer, regardless of where they ranked. In truth, Lana should have been a slayer over either one of them. He was much more impressed with her skills. Regardless of everything else, though, both he and Elan had managed to take down a dragon. It was tough work, far more difficult than anything he'd come to face in the past. But there were two down. Ten to go. Elan had managed to slay his due to the ignorant actions Kasaj had taken. The foolish slayer had charged at the dragon. That was always an ill-advised move against beasts of this size. Daegon, like Elan, knew that one must always look for an opening. Distractions were of major importance in dragonslaying. One moment of a dragon letting its guard down was all that was needed to make a big move. Unfortunately for them, these dragons didn't seem to be easily distracted. In reality, the distractions that had so far befallen them were sheer dumb luck. It would take a whole lot more of that kind of luck for them to have the same outcome with those remaining. "Look out!" Lana called breathlessly. Daegon chanced a glance in her direction to witness as she swung her sword upward, crashing against the underside of the dragon's jaw. Verne had let his guard down, and if it weren't for Lana's quick actions, he'd have been the fourth slayer to go. It angered Daegon. Everyone had to look out for themselves, and if he and Lana were having to babysit these other two, it would prevent them from focusing on what they needed to. He almost bellowed for Caspin and Verne to back off, but he didn't have time. The dragon's head practically bounced off of Lana's sword, and it used the momentum to swing it rapidly in Daegon's direction. He wasn't provided the right angle to attack, so instead he ducked and rolled to the side. It wasn't an easy maneuver considering how many of them there were, but he managed to escape its reach with only a smattering of scrapes along the way. These idiots were now causing him to be in more danger than he rightfully should. If he made it out of this, he wouldn't be against having a long talk with the king about the slayer selection process. The two of them wouldn't even be well-equipped to be slayers in a less dragon-addled kingdom such as Lodus. But the fact that they were amongst the ranks in Jhirdyr, one of the biggest dragonslaying kingdoms? It was inane. He sprung back up and distanced himself a little further from the other slayers. He didn't like having so much distance between himself and the dragon, but he didn't have much other choice. If they continued to be so clustered together, it would be their downfall. He noticed Lana doing the same thing, and realized she had come to the same conclusion. Elan had done a damn good job in choosing his squire. Whether she was this capable when she first joined him, or whether Elan had busted his ass in training her to this level, she was a force. Daegon unfortunately could not say the same of Birten. It was no fault of Birten's, either. It was Daegon's own fault. Birten was a fine squire, and did exactly what he needed to do. He brought brains and logic to the team. Quick-witted and observant, he was perfectly suited for the job. But Daegon had never really honed Birten's fighting skills. He'd been too busy over the years tearing the squire down to consider the possibility of putting some of that effort into making him more well-rounded. If Birten had been there with them, he'd certainly be dead. There was no way he could hold his own against a dragon, let alone these ones. And that would have to change. Daegon knew that whatever happened, he'd have to shape Birten into a warrior. That's what a dragonslayer was supposed to do with their squires, and Lana was proof that Daegon wasn't quite as perfect as he once would have considered himself to be. He watched as she found an opening and swung at the beast. Her blade found its way in between a handful of scales and caused a thin line of crimson to bubble up between them. It was far from a death blow, but any injury could only help. Caspin tried to take the opportunity to do something, too. Granted, the dragon was slightly reacting to its new wound, but it wasn't distracted enough for a big move. Yet there Caspin went, thrusting his sword forward. He managed to put enough force behind the plunge that it did pierce the dragon's hide. It came as a surprise to all of them, most of all Caspin. However, it was immediately clear that a stab might not have been the best call. As the slayer tried to pull the sword back out, it appeared that it was stuck. It must have gotten lodged at just the right angle, because Daegon could tell that it wasn't budging even though Caspin was pulling at it with all his might. The dragon stared at Caspin for a moment, and briefly all of the sounds around them seemed to fall to a hush. The group stared at the situation as it slowly unfolded before Daegon finally came to his senses. "Move, you fool!" Caspin shook out of his own stupor and stumbled backward, leaving his sword protruding from the dragon's chest. He got out of the way just in time, too. The dragon snapped forth with such rapidness that Caspin would have been dead if he had moved one second later. Though Caspin wasn't too bright, or too capable, Daegon didn't want to see any more deaths. At least not from their side. He could sense that everyone around him was on their last legs. Even he was beginning to feel that he was almost out of steam. If something major didn't happen soon, they'd start getting picked off one by one. Their reaction time was starting to be impacted. Reaction time was one of their biggest defenses. If they didn't have that, they didn't have much at all. So Daegon knew that he had to make a bold move. It would be risky, sure. But he was a better planner than most of the other slayers, who so far had been making poor choices. Risky or not, he would make sure the timing was right. If he kept doing what he had been doing up to that point, chances of something happening in their favor were slim. But by putting himself in the situation he was planning, he might just be able to down another of the dragons. He knew Birten wouldn't approve. He knew none of the other slayers would approve, either. Least of all Elan. It wasn't a plan without faults, even he would admit that. But it was something he was willing to gamble. He had to cause a distraction. It was the only thing that had worked so far, and they couldn't continue to wait on chance to cause one for them. So he would make one happen. And the sword that Caspin had left in the dragon was exactly what he needed. While the dragon had its sights on Lana, Daegon barreled forward and leapt atop the hilt of Caspin's sword as if it were a peg utilized to climb the sheer face of a mountain. Considering the sword wasn't wedged in all that well, it wobbled quite a bit. Caspin hadn't been able to pull it out straight-forwardly, but that didn't prevent it from shaking from the weight Daegon added to it vertically. But he kept his footing. He shoved his own sword between another section of scales a few feet higher, and was able to pull himself upward. It didn't take long for the dragon to take notice. It began writhing in an attempt to shake Daegon loose, but the slayer held fast. It wasn't an easy task by any means, but he was able to cling to the creature's hide. It was his intention to distract the dragon long enough for Lana or one of the other slayers to make their move. But the dragon wasn't having it. While trying to rid Daegon from its body, the dragon stamped its feet, creating little to no opportunity for the others to get close. Daegon had to think on his feet. He'd thankfully shoved a dagger in each boot, which hadn't been the most comfortable, but it was paying off now. He used them to further ascend the dragon, and it was almost surreal. He was climbing this dragon as if it were a mountainside of the Ore Cliffs. He was now straddling the beast as if it were a common horse, holding on for dear life. The dragon clearly didn't like it, as it continued to thrash about in an attempt to shake him loose. But he held tight. He looped one arm around the base of its neck, using the other hand to pry one of the daggers from between the scales. With a little bit of effort, he was able to get it out without falling from the creature's back. What he'd initially intended as a distraction was proving to potentially be a way to slay the dragon outright. Continuing to steady himself, he brought the weapon to the dragon's throat. He forced it in with as much strength as he could muster, and he was able to pierce through the scales and skin. The dragon let out a roar, and it shook more furiously than it had thus far. Daegon continued to cling to it with every ounce of strength he had left. When the dragon would quell, Daegon would push or pull at the hilt of the dagger to lengthen the incision he'd made. He could see the reactions of the others, none of them hiding their shock at the display. Even Lana seemed to be slightly letting her guard down, her jaw slack at what she was witnessing. It was bizarre enough from his perspective, and he could only imagine what they must be experiencing. Though they shouldn't have lost their focus, he assumed it was hard not to given the situation. Finally, after several minutes, he was able to saw through the dragon's neck enough that it began to wobble. As it fell, slowly, he prepared himself for the impact of the body against the ground. He leapt off at just the right moment. There was no way, after all of that, in which he was going to allow himself to be catapulted into the air as a result of the chain reaction of the dying carcass slamming against the burnt earth. As he landed, he felt his ankle twist just slightly. It would hurt later, but he didn't care. He'd done it. He'd killed another dragon. The intensity of Elsior's feral yell could be heard above everything else, and Daegon didn't need to look at him to know that the mancer had fallen to his knees in a show of despair. The sound was enough to confirm that they had already done much more than Elsior had expected. And it was glorious.
  21. kbois

    Chapter 33

    The rest of the week seemed to fly by as everyone was busy with various activities. It did indeed rain on Wednesday so the kids were entertained at the latest kid movie with Kathy and the rest of the adults took in an action flick. They spent the evening playing board games at Rick and Kathy’s house. On Thursday Kathy and Jessie took the girls to a local nail salon and everyone got their fingernails and toenails done. The three little girls were thrilled with the shades of pink they had chosen. The men and Cassie chose to relax at Lex and Ian’s house and later in the afternoon a group of them took the kids to play mini golf. While they were together Ryan told them that he and Seth wanted to treat everyone to a really nice dinner the following night. They weren’t having a rehearsal, but Ryan wanted a nice dinner as a way to show his appreciation to Rick and Kathy for everything they had done that week. He asked for suggestions and after a short discussion decided on The Federal which was not far from Rick and Kathy’s and could accommodate large parties. Ryan said he would call and make reservations. Ryan stood behind Lex, who was sitting on the couch next to Ian and therefore could not see the flash of aura that indicated his father was not quite telling the truth. Ryan had quickly figured out a way around Lex’s ability, even though it wasn’t foolproof. Ian informed Lex that Kathy needed him for some last minute wedding stuff the following day and Cassie told him she was kidnapping him after breakfast. Lex figured something was up but just let it slide. The evening ended early and Lex and Ian did nothing more than cuddle up together, deciding to hold off on sex until their wedding night. Friday morning they hit the ground running. Ian was up really early and Lex vaguely recalled his lover kissing him goodbye. He wanted to get down to his Mom’s house before seven. Cassie showed up at eight o’clock and dragged Lex out of bed and shoved him toward the shower. He had barely rinsed off when Cassie was yelling at him to hurry up. By 8:30 they were out of the house and on their way to whatever mischief Cassie was up to. “OK, Cass. Where to?” Lex asked. “Food. I need food first. We have a busy day ahead of us.” They of course ended up at Betty Ann’s and Cassie filled up like it was her last meal. Lex didn’t know where she put it. When they were done it was almost 9:30 and Cassie held out her hand for the keys. When Lex hesitated she just reached in his pocket and took them. “Get in.” she ordered. After she buckled up she hit a few buttons on the navigation system and hit start. It was a twenty minute drive to their destination, the Canyon Ranch Spa. Lex looked at her incredulously, but wisely kept his mouth shut. The building was a renovated mansion that had been expanded into a hotel and spa. It was absolutely beautiful and the interior well decorated. When they entered they were greeted warmly and that’s when Lex discovered Cassie had booked them for a full day of spa treatments. They were scrubbed, exfoliated, buffed, massaged, manicured, pedicured, oiled, mud masked and God knows what else. Lex lost track of time. At one point they were given a light lunch. Later Lex couldn’t recall what it was. They both had haircuts, Cassie had hers highlighted and Lex was given a close shave. By the time they were done they both literally shone. Lex looked at Cassie who’s hair now sported highlights both lighter and darker than her own natural blonde and it was so shiny! His muscles were like limp noodles, they had both experienced the wonders of a full body, deep tissue massage and Lex had though he had died and gone to heaven. His hands and feet had been dipped in something they called paraffin, which he quickly found out was hot wax. Still, it felt awesome even if he did think it was kinda girly. His fingernails and toenails had been trimmed, the cuticles softened and trimmed as well. The nails themselves were scuffed and buffed until they held a soft shine. Cassie had hers painted a deep burgundy color. It had never occurred to Lex that spa services were offered to men, but he had to admit that he could see himself doing it again in the future, but with Ian instead of Cassie. He also knew he was going to practice some of the massage techniques he had experienced on Ian. Yeah, they could have fun with that! Lex finally noticed the time when they collected their personal items from the small locker that had been assigned to them. When he checked his phone and saw the time he exclaimed “Shit Cass! We’re going to be late for dinner!” “Calm down Calamity Jane, change of plans.” Cassie pushed him toward a small changing room and told him “Get dressed in the outfit hanging up in there. Dinner is here tonight.” Lex looked at her like she had grown a second head and as things started clicking into place he grilled “How long have you been cooking this up and who else is in on it?” Cassie just pushed him into the little room and laughed as she went into a second changing room next to his. Sometimes his cluelessness astounded her. Lex closed the door and hanging on the back of the door was a brand new Armani suit. The pants and jacket were dark charcoal and Cassie had paired it with a light grey dress shirt. There was a burgundy tie that had thin swirls of pink, grey and black threading through it. He knew Cassie was going to throw some pink in the works somewhere. White gold cufflinks, dress socks and black shoes completed the outfit which fit perfectly of course. When Lex looked in the mirror he had to admit, he looked hot! He stepped out and waited for Cassie. She emerged wearing a little black dress. The sleeves just barely capped the shoulders and the dress itself hugged her curves in all the right places. The neck dipped to a V deep enough to show off her cleavage but not be slutty while the hem ended just above her knees. A rose colored silk shawl was draped across her shoulders and she finished off the outfit with four inch black stilettos. He let out a long whistle of admiration and offered her his arm. One of the resort staff led them to a private dining room where the rest of their party was waiting. When Lex saw Ian his jaw dropped. It looked as though they had both been shined up that day. His suit was Armani as well only in black and Cassie had paired his with a light blue shirt and tie similar to his own only in dark blue with thin swirls of gray, dark purple and a light green. Lex thought he was stunning. Ian’s reaction was similar to Lex’s and he made his way over to his man and caught his lips in welcoming kiss. Ian broke the kiss and smiled at Lex and then said “We were led, weren’t we?” “Like lambs to slaughter.” Lex laughed as he replied. It turned out that Ian and Kathy had been at the spa all day as well. Cassie and Kathy had conspired with the staff to coordinate all of the treatments in such a way that their paths wouldn’t cross until it was time for dinner. Ian and Lex were both impressed at the lengths the pair had gone to to pull off the surprise. The whole group was there and everyone looked amazing, all of the guys including the two little boys were wearing suits. It looked like Kathy got her way with everyone having to dress up for a nice dinner. Ryan and Seth greeted the boys and Shannon and Mia looked so cute in their little dresses. Sean and his family painted a beautiful picture as well. Jessie and Hannah had matching blue dresses and Kevin and Patrick had ties to match their Dad’s. Even Rick’s tie matched theirs. Lex felt a tap on his shoulders and when he turned and saw who it was his face lit up. He picked up the woman who was an older version of Cassie and swung her around exclaiming “Rita!” In the excitement of the day he had completely forgotten that he had arranged a Lear jet to fly Rita out from Seattle. Thank God Cassie was on the ball. She had made sure her mom had gotten there in one piece the day before. Lex found out that a car service had delivered her to Kathy and Rick’s and they had taken care of everything from there. Cassie’s mom Rita was a little shorter than her daughter, but similar in build. While they were not clones in the way Lex and Ryan were, Cassie favored her mom enough that there was no denying the mother-daughter relationship. Where Cassie was a natural blonde, Rita had light brown hair similar to Ian’s but without the cinnamon shade Lex loved. Hers wasn’t even threaded with a little gray and Lex was pretty sure she colored it. There was no way she couldn’t have any gray hair, not with Cassie for a daughter. Introductions had already been made and as they had their own private dining room the conversations going on were lively. A side table had been laid out with some light hors d'oeuvres and they had been assigned two servers, one of which was currently going around taking drink orders. Lex and Ian opted for white wine while they nibbled on the variety of finger foods that had been brought out. They were both starving. Who knew that getting pampered all day could make one work up such an appetite! Around seven their servers started to clear away the side table which was their cue to sit down. The room had been arranged with one long table. The ends were wide enough for two people so Lex and Ian sat together at the head of the table and Ryan and Seth, as hosts were at the opposite end. Once everyone was seated their servers proceed to pour champagne into the flutes at each place settings. The kids were provided with sparkling grape juice and looked thrilled to be included. When everyone’s glass had been filled and the kids stopped fidgeting, Ryan stood up to propose a toast. He cleared his throat and said “To Lex and Ian and new beginnings. May you always reap the benefits of your love and learn from each other. Happiness is yours, so enjoy every minute. Share every smile, every laugh, every tear and every cry of anguish. It will only make you stronger. Here’s to family, the one we’re born to and the one we choose.” He raised his glass and was answered with the sound of crystal clinking together and a chorus of “Hear, hear!, and congratulations!” Lex and Ian thanked him and everyone sat down. The servers handed each guest a menu and left to go and replenish the drinks for those who needed them and to top off the water goblets. It didn’t take long for everyone to decide as the choices had been pared down from the full menu to a half dozen entrees and the same number of side dishes. Each person had been instructed to choose one entree and two sides. Lex had trouble deciding between the baked stuffed scrod and the beef tenderloin. He and Ian decided to get one scrod and one beef tenderloin between them and share. They chose the baked squash medley, garlic mashed potatoes, cornbread and of course Lex couldn’t pass up the lobster mac and cheese as their side dishes. Because their group was large there were several conversations going on and they were please to see the group so animated. Rita and Cassie were seated to Lex’s right side. He caught up with Rita and laughed when she lamented that Cassie wouldn’t even consider dating her boss’s grandson. He winked at Cassie and told Rita that the right guy would come along for Cassie soon. Cassie shook her head, rolled her eyes and reached for a hot roll from the basket that had just been placed in front of her. Mia and Shannon were sitting on the other side of Cassie and Kathy and Rick were at the end of that side talking with Ryan and Seth. Ian was debating the pros and cons of their current Fantasy Football picks with Sean. Patrick, Kevin and Hannah were in the middle and were battling with Cassie, Shannon and Mia across the table to see who could make the silliest face (Lex thought Cassie would win that one!). Jessie was on the other end next to Seth and was part of whatever conversation was going on at that end of the table. Their food arrived in a timely manner and all conversation died down while everyone focused on their meals. Ian was happy with the choices he and Lex had made and even let Lex eat most of the lobster mac and cheese. He just took a bigger chunk of the stuffed scrod as lobster was a main ingredient of the stuffing along with shrimp and scallops. It seemed that everyone was enjoying their choices. Lex was surprised to see that the kids had all chosen either the stuffed chicken breast or the beef tenderloin. He knew that Ryan and Seth encouraged the girls to choose food outside of the normal chicken tenders and hot dogs usually offered on children’s menus and their tastes usually ran toward seafood. Lex did notice that both Mia and Shannon had opted for the lobster mac and cheese as one of their sides. They knew a good thing when they saw it. Under the table Lex felt Ian’s hand move on top of his thigh and give a light squeeze. When he looked over Ian remarked “You look so happy,” and smiled. Lex returned the smile and spearing a piece of tender beef replied “I am,” right before sliding the succulent meat between his lips. Still looking at Ian he finished chewing the bite of food, swallowed and then licked his upper lip lightly with the tip of his tongue. He chuckled softly when Ian’s fingers moved further up his leg, stopping just shy of his groin and squeezed a little harder. Lex shook his head and returned his attention to the rest of his dinner. Once everyone was done their servers returned to clear away the plates and silverware. Dessert was a choice between mint parfaits or chocolate cake. Lex chose the parfait and couldn’t help but hear Eddie Murray’s voice as Donkey from Shrek say “Who doesn’t like a parfait?” in his head. He snickered and looked up in time to catch Cassie’s eyes. They both laughed out loud as he knew she had the same thought. Dessert was brought out along with coffee and Lex savored the sweet minty treat. Ian had the parfait as well. Neither man was a huge chocolate cake fan. Cassie had asked for one of each and of course got her way. Dinner started to wrap up and Kathy and Rick made the rounds with the kids who were all starting to yawn as they got ready to leave. They thanked Ryan for the wonderful meal and the girls kissed their dads goodnight. Jessie went out with them to help get everyone buckled in. When she returned she and Sean along with Rita professed their thanks as well and told the rest of the group they would see them tomorrow. Ryan had already settled the bill earlier in the evening and he made sure to thank the two servers for a job well done. He also wanted to make sure they received their gratuity in cash as he knew anyone who had ever been a waiter or waitress prefered cash over having to wait until their paycheck to see the earnings diminished by taxes. Lex saw their auras brighten with gratitude at the generous amount Ryan had given them. Christmas shopping season was just around the corner! Lex and Ian hugged Ryan and Seth and reiterated their thanks for a spectacular evening and for going along with Cassie and Kathy’s devious plans. The older couple walked hand in hand out of the restaurant leaving Cassie with Lex and Ian. “So I take it you’re our ride home this evening or are we yours?” asked Lex. Cassie gave him an evil grin and replied “Neither, final phase of Operation Blindside. You two are staying here.” She handed Lex a key card for a room and continued “Your room is ready. You are checked in and arrangements have already been made for a late check out. Enjoy the grounds, go for a walk, or do whatever. Breakfast is included at the main restaurant. You have a one o’clock appointment tomorrow afternoon at the spa for a final buff and fluff. Do NOT even think of showing up at the house before three tomorrow. If you do I swear they will NEVER find your bodies. Got it?” Lex knew better than to say anything and Ian was smart enough to follow his lead. They could only hope that everything had been taken care of for the ceremony the following day. Cassie had one more ace up her sleeve and and she kissed them both and as she walked away from them she turned and said “Oh, your wedding present from me is on the bed.” Lex had to admit that he was a little scared at that statement. He turned to Ian and said “Let’s go see what she’s done now.” Looking at the paper sleeve their key card was in they saw that they were on the second floor. They took the stairs and followed the arrow pointing in the direction of their room number. Lex slotted the card and the little light turned green. They were greeted with soft lighting. The room was nicely appointed with a king bed. It was a standard room, not a suite like they had in Boston, but they were fine with that as it was only one night. Fresh flowers graced the writing desk and the bed had been turned down. On top of one of the pillows were two small jewelry boxes. Their rings. Cassie had left their rings for them. Lex picked up the boxes and handed one to Ian. They were identical and each had a small card attached with a handwritten note: I love you both, Forever, Cassie They looked at each other and then slowly opened the lids of the ring boxes. Lex heard a gasp and honestly didn’t know if it came from him or Ian. As he looked at the ring nestled in black velvet his legs gave out and he sank down on the bed. Ian joined him as they stared in awe. Lex’s eyes started to water and the beautiful sight before him blurred. Once again Cassie proved that she knew him inside out. He thought back to the conversation he had with her when he told her about seeing their auras and how he described it as liquid opal surrounded by gold. Cassie took that literally and the two matching rings had three bands. The two outer bands were yellow gold and were twisted into a thin, intricate rope design. The middle was a wider band of opal that went all the way around, lying flush to the surface. The white fire opal caught the soft lighting and radiated shades of pink, blue, green and purple. Ian took a deep breath before finding his voice “How the fuck does she do it?” he asked. Lex shook his head and wiped at the tears that had fallen “I really don’t know. What I do know is that she’s incredible and I love her to pieces.” Ian smiled at him and said “Me too.” They left the rings in the boxes on the nightstand. Lex knew they would fit perfectly. He knew that without a doubt. Lex found out that Cassie was not the only one full of surprises. Ian stood in front of Lex and commanded “Take my shirt off.” Slowly undoing each button, Lex did as he was told and as Ian’s firm chest was revealed Lex gasped “Holy shit! When did you get that done?” as he tossed the shirt aside. Ian proudly displayed his new tattoo and answered “Why do you think I was out the door at the ass crack of dawn this morning? My buddy Nate met me at his shop. When he was done Mom made me pick her up and take us here. I had to have a couple of treatments modified to work around the area, but it was fine.” Lex admired the new artwork but didn’t touch the red, sensitive skin, still covered with protective plastic. Hovering over the left side of Ian’s mid chest, right over his heart was a double heart/infinity symbol tattoo. The two entwined hearts, were outlined in black and colored in with their signature white opal threaded with almost every color of the rainbow. The infinity symbol wrapping itself through the hearts was their gold rope design. In the two diamond shapes made by the design, one held an ornate scripted letter L and the other the letter I. Lex thought it was stunning. It was obvious where Ian had learned his shading techniques from. The soft colors throughout the opal were resplendent in their vibrancy. It would be absolutely stunning when it was fully healed. Lex wrapped his arms around Ian and just breathed in his scent. After several minutes they pulled apart. Ian kissed Lex tenderly. They both stripped down to their boxers, then used the bathroom. They lost the underwear before sliding into bed. Lex was rethinking their decision to stick with their agreement to hold off on making love until after the wedding. He knew Ian had the same thoughts. Somehow Lex knew that whatever they decided on would be OK with him, just as he knew that their dreams of the following day was that much closer to reality.
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