Draekon Abduction(7)

By: Lili Zander & Lee Savino

I like to know what makes people tick, and so far, Liorax is a mystery to me.

The two Draekons give us a few minutes to absorb the news, then they indicate that we need to be on our way. “Once the sun sets, the detsena will overrun the ground and will eat everything in their path. We must reach camp before that happens.”

I have no idea what the detsena are, and I don’t really care to find out. I’ve lived in the DC metro area my entire life. I’m a city girl through and through. I can rough it, of course—agency training is rigorous—but on balance, the further away I am from wildlife, the happier I get.

Zunix hoists me on his shoulders, taking care not to jostle my left leg. He leads the way. The other women follow, Liorax bringing up the rear. We leave our clearing and plunge through the thickly wooded forest. In less than half an hour, we arrive at our destination.

The camp.

I don’t know what I expected to see. A bunch of tents, I guess, though, in retrospect, that wouldn’t have made sense given the detsena, whatever they are.

But we’re in another massive clearing, the size of four football fields. Enclosing us are tall trees, towering so high that I can’t quite see their tops. Halfway up their mammoth trunks are clustered a handful of small houses, built into the branches of the trees themselves.

I look around from my position in Zunix’s arms, making mental notes for a mission I might not return from. Twelve Draekons emerge from the treehouses and make their way to us.

As they near, I see their faces. None of the twelve look especially happy to see Liorax and Zunix, but when their eyes fall on us, their expressions turn awed. “Prepare yourself,” Liorax mutters under his breath. “It’s about to begin.”

He’s right. The moment we’re spotted, the Draekons move so fast that they’re a blur. In seconds, we’re surrounded by them, their gazes avid and greedy. I feel their desire in the air, and I’m grateful Zunix warned us about what to expect.

A bare-chested man with long blonde hair, his face covered with stubble, steps forward. “Zunix, you have many talents, but this time, you’ve outdone yourself.” He bows deeply to us. “It is an honor to receive visitors,” he says. “My name is Dariux. Welcome to our humble home.”

His words are polite enough, but his eyes tell a different story. For a brief second, his expression is covetous, so covetous that it makes me uncomfortable. Then his face settles into bitter lines.

Zunix opens his mouth to say something, but before he can form words, the air stills. Shudders run through several of the Draekons that surround us, a shudder I remember from earlier today.

They’re about to change into dragons.

Zunix and Blondie both clue in at the same time. “To the trees,” Zunix cries out. Blondie—Dariux—grabs May and Paige by the shoulders and pushes them to the safety of the forest. Liorax does the same to Felicity. Bryce, a half-step ahead of the other women, has already come to the same conclusion Zunix and Dariux have, and she runs full-tilt toward the nearest treehouse.

Zunix hasn’t put me down. Shock waves of pain radiate from my leg as he speeds toward cover. “There are too many of them,” he says as he runs, not sounding the slightest bit winded, even though he’s been carrying me for more than the last thirty minutes, and I’ve got more than my fair share of curves. “I thought another pair might shift when they saw you, but I hadn’t planned for eight.”

I’m missing something. What do we have to do with the shift?

We watch from the safety of the forest as eight of the Draekons crouch to the ground. I barely know where to look. Bones shatter. Skin tears. Vertebrae become spikes, and wings emerge from their backs. The Draekons who haven’t shifted take shelter along with us, their gazes openly envious as they watch their companions transform.

When the dust settles, eight massive dragons stand in the clearing.

Liorax moves next to us. “Belfox and Herrix transformed when they saw Olivia,” he says to Zunix, his voice pitched low.

“I know.” Zunix sounds grim.

“Do they mean to lay claim to our mate?”

Hold on one second. What the everlasting fuck is this ‘our mate’ bullshit? I’m tempted to ask, but for the moment, both men seem to have forgotten I exist, even though I’m still in Zunix’s arms. In fact, I might as well be furniture, for all the attention they’re paying me.

“I don’t know,” Zunix replies. “We can’t take on the entire camp. Not yet. Not until the bond is complete.” He takes a deep breath. “For the moment, we’re going to have to play along.”