Kissed by Fire(4)

By: Kimber White

Then, his body shifted. He went rigid, throwing his massive legs forward. I swallowed a scream as I caught sight of his massive, lethal talons, like curved daggers gleaming in the sun. My hair swirled around my face as we dropped through the sky. He banked right, aiming for what looked like a helipad on top of one of the tallest high-rises at the edge of the lake. I recognized it, but couldn’t orient myself or form a solid word in my head.

With all the fire, fury, and power he’d shown, the creature landed gently, barely making a sound as he dug his talons into the concrete rooftop. He made a shrieking cry that vibrated deep through my bones before he let me go.

His wings still flapped gracefully as I took a faltering step backward and landed clumsily on my ass. He lowered his head and locked his eyes with mine. God. His were two huge, blazing orbs that seemed to cut straight through me. I should have been terrified. I should have screamed. I could only crab-crawl a few feet backward as he lowered his head and let out a chuff. With it came two tufts of flame.

A dragon. He was an honest-to-God dragon. I blinked hard as if that could transport me somewhere else. Maybe if I tried clicking my heels I’d find my way straight out of Oz.

He craned his neck and let out a noise that I can only describe as a quiet roar. Then, he stomped one great taloned foot and tucked his massive wings behind him.

I’d seen magic before. Since I was thirteen years old, I had a mage for a foster father. I’d seen shifters before today too. Wolves and bears and even a lion once. But, this was a dragon. It had to be a trick. I had to have lost my mind.

His shoulders contorted and he shook his head. My vision blurred and my breath caught as his magic swirled in the air. I lost time. Maybe just a few seconds. But I never really saw him shift. He was a dragon one moment, then a man the next. He’d been twenty feet away. Now, in the span of a heartbeat, he stood before me fastening the leather belt on his black dress pants. Then he reached for me, offering me his hand.

My eyes went up and up. He was beautiful. I could still see the last traces of fire swirling in his eyes. Then, they settled to a shining, tinged with brown. The kind that changed with the light though his expression stayed intense and serious. He had dark hair, a true black, thick and straight. Full lips, strong jaw with a pointed chin and a long, straight nose.

“Shae.” One word. My name. He knew it. His deep, commanding voice sent little shockwaves of heat spearing through me.

I tried to swallow, but my tongue felt like sandpaper. I was frozen, rooted to the ground. Was this another spell? The moment I thought it, grief poured through me. A gut punch. Adrenaline had kept the pain away. Now, I doubled over from it.

“Shae,” he said again. “We need to get you inside. It’s not safe out here. Those wolves are still looking for you.”

He enunciated every word with crisp precision. I couldn’t place his accent. Not British, exactly. Just a little of the hard consonants of something Eastern European, maybe. God. It didn’t matter. None of it mattered. Everything just turned upside down.

He came to me, sinking slowly until he squatted in front of me, putting us eye to eye. His eyes searched my face. “It’s going to be okay,” he said.

A laugh burst out of me. His eyes widened. He had to think I was getting hysterical. Maybe I was. I didn’t know anything anymore. He put a light hand on my shoulder, his fingers brushing the bare skin of my arm. I’d only worn a black t-shirt with the store logo on it. I couldn’t shift into scaled armor like this man could. Warmth spread through me at his touch, a slow, rising ache. A craving. I felt pulled to him.

Then, my hand was in his and he helped me to my feet. I put one in front of the other and let him lead me to a door. A tiny flash of light shot from his fingers as he turned the knob and we went inside.

We came to an elevator and stepped inside. He turned to me, giving me a grim smile. His fingers trembled though he held his hands to his sides. I realized mine were doing the same thing. God help me, I wanted to touch him. Just that brief brush of his skin settled something inside me at the same time it stoked something darker. God. What the hell was happening to me?

We went down just two floors. The elevator doors slid open to a large lounge area. Expensive white leather couches, a big screen television in one corner. The walls had floor to ceiling windows giving a spectacular view of the city from the south and west sides. The north and east windows faced the crystal blue expanse of Lake Michigan. Had I any breath left to take, the view alone would have done it.

I went to the south windows and pressed my hands to the glass, orienting myself.