Blood of Stars and Gods

By: Melissa Petreshock

Stars and Souls: Book 2

Chapter 1


Hiding under the bar of the kitchen island, balancing on the balls of my bare feet, the sound of his heart beating faintly hits my ears, and I focus hard, concentrating every ounce of patience I have left on controlling my own pulse. Steady. Slow. Stealthy. Silent. Hidden in a veil of dragon mist in my mind.

The fabric of his pant legs brush together as he walks, giving away his position, but I learned my lesson, dressing in fitted dance shorts and a tank top this time, pulling my hair tightly into a bun. His heavy boots fall softly with each step, though not soft enough, not with my increasingly sensitive hearing. “Cait,” he calls out in a sing-song voice, “come out. Come out, wherever you are. I promise not to hurt you.”

I almost laugh as I slip the small blade from its sheath in my hand, prepared, feeling the cool mist creeping up my back. Jai becomes visible, taking human form at my side, crouching low, smiling, eyes wide and mischievous. The little Mage dragon and I have become a formidable team, though pranking others as a practice method isn’t popular with them. In times like these, we’re at an advantage. He gestures behind me, toward the front hall, and I nod.

Thank the Goddess for years of dance lessons and excellent flexibility. It makes this easier, creeping along the floor from the kitchen, into the hall, and around to the living room the long way, approaching our enemy from behind. He’s still steadily seeking my location in the kitchen when I get just near enough. Jai disappears into an icy vapor the second I lunge, weapon aimed.

“Ha! Got ya,” Liam yells, spinning on his heel and grabbing me lightly by the throat before I make contact with the blunt practice knife, but he’s mistakenly left my arms free, and I twist, stabbing low.

“I’m not afraid to attack where it hurts,” I announce, laughing the second he flinches, frowning at me.

My tactical trainer removes the knife from my hand, shaking his head. “Dragons don’t procreate. It would have very little effect other than wounding our pride. We condition ourselves to ignore pain until we have time. During battle, time is a luxury we don’t have.”

Shrugging my shoulders, I slap his hand away from my neck, which he easily drops, knowing his comment serves as a too-sharp reminder of Theo’s battle injury; that damn arrow three weeks ago. “But I wouldn’t be defending myself from dragons, and any other man, or elf in this case, should drop from an injury like that.”

A large hand covers my mouth, and a huge knife grazes my throat, not close enough to touch, but too close to ignore. “That may be true, but if you take time to gloat over a single victory at your feet, you open your back to unforeseen enemies.”

With a great huff of implied defeat, I ball my hands into fists at my sides, running my thumb across the ring on my right hand as I do, the result nearly instantaneous. The flash of lightning fills my penthouse apartment, blinding my ‘enemies’, the knife yanked away from my neck by an unnatural magnetic force, its owner thrown backward across the room as I stumble from the sudden shift of weight, falling quite ungracefully onto the floor. In front of me, Liam is ensconced in a freezing mist to such extremes he drops to his knees.

Their jobs done, Dante comes over, reaching a hand, gently assisting me to my feet, and Jai retakes his typical form of a small, starkly white-haired man, not nearly as young in appearance as in mannerisms. “My apologies, Caitriona, I most certainly did not intend for that. However, the intent of such a call does generally result in quite drastic harm done to someone. Regardless, the practical point is that you remembered to call me this time,” the demigod remarks, vivid blue eyes dancing with pride at my improvements. “Excellent. Of course, I doubt either dragon quite appreciated the result.”

Shaking off the sensation of cold, Liam gets to his feet again. “Nonsense. Rather have her use you two against somebody than … you did it right, Cait.” The brusque dragon shoots a harsh glance at Jai, flexing his thawing fingers. “But I think I would have rather had my ass shocked by Dante than freezer burned by the little guy.”

“Do not be so sure of that,” Theo mutters, slowly making his way back over to us, the entire sleeve of his shirt singed beyond saving, the unpleasant smell of burnt flesh hanging in the air around him. “Dante held little, if anything, back tonight.”

At my dragon’s side in a moment, I take one look at the freshly healing pink skin on his arm and immediately scowl. “Holy hopping hell-bunnies, Dante, what is this all about?”

“Perhaps I would not react so harshly if I did not arrive to find someone using a real weapon in these exercises against you.” Both demigod and dragon set their jaws tight, eyes intense, glowering dangerously, waiting.