Darcy stood on the rocky outcrop and looked with trepidation out over the turbulent waves. Her hair was blowing haphazardly and she lost the never-ending battle to keep the stray strands out of her face. She felt her stomach heave as they stood near the edge. With the wind buffeting them, Darcy was fearful that she would topple over the side. She looked at Remi, her friend stood there with her head back, eyes closed, her face upturned to the sun. Remi sighed deeply. The wind molded her clothing about her exquisitely formed body.
“This is truly amazing. I have discovered so many wonderful things that happen everyday about me.” Remi looked at Darcy. “Is this what it’s like to fall in love?”
Darcy looked at Remi, not sure she understood the question, or even if it had been a question. Remi had been doing a lot of thinking out loud the last few days. She seemed to be questioning everything about her life.
“You know what, Darcy? When this is over we should go to the lake. Here, take the talisman. Just say the activation word and then, presto.”
Darcy nodded quickly and took out the stone dragon holding it lightly in her hand.
She said a simple word, and then set the miniature on the ground. Darcy looked at her arms as she held them out to the side, then seeing only her human flesh, she looked at her legs.
“Remi?” she cried impatiently.
“Patience, child. It takes time for the magic to explore you. The proper size and shape must be recorded into your body. The bones, blood, veins and nerves have to recognize what they will be morphing into. Otherwise, if you simply snap your fingers, things could go wrong. Your body might not be assembled properly. The first time you might experience some discomfort.”
“Discomfort … things go wrong!” she shrieked.
Remi went to her and gently stroked her back, but she dared not linger too long in contact with the young woman, in case the spell tried to tangle her up as well. Suddenly Darcy blanched, she doubled over in pain and she started to shake and sweat.
She looked up fearfully. “Remi!”
“Darcy, it will pass in a second. Trust me, the worst is now over.”
And over it was; soon Darcy could feel her senses heighten. She was aware of a myriad assortment of smells and sounds. Suddenly she towered over the other woman.
Remi gazed up in astonishment. Darcy had morphed into a scintillating turquoise dragon. She was a bit smaller than the average queen, but her wingspan was far greater. Remi could only guess what her smaller body size and the larger wings were able to do.
Darcy held up her wings. “This is fantastic.”
Remi couldn’t help but smile, as the girl’s enthusiasm came from the dragon. Darcy felt invulnerable. She could detect the smell of cattle grazing in the next valley. She stood up on her hind legs searching for them, as her stomach rumbled. Suddenly, alien images and impressions swamped her mind. Darcy cried out as she felt herself being swept along.
“Darcy, concentrate! You can’t afford to lose control and let the reptilian instincts overwhelm you! That would be disastrous!” Remi cried, as she whacked the scaled leg with a stick she had brought with her. In the past, a simple hit was enough for a youngling to pay attention.
The Turquoise’s long serpentine neck shot in Remi’s direction. The queen could feel her anger quickly rise as the tiny pathetic mortal dared to strike her. Turquoise’s scales whirled a violent angry red and she could feel the ancient call of battle surge through her body.
Remi blanched in fear, plunging off to the side as Turquoise’s gaping maw clamped down where she stood. Turquoise came up looking for the human, bushes and dirt dribbled from her jaws. Remi couldn’t understand it, never in all her days had a youngling acted like Darcy was behaving now. Remi dived out of the way as Turquoise whirled to attack. The dragon breathed and a brightly colored stream of light erupted in Remi’s direction. She frantically dived behind a boulder, and the rock exploded as the shimmering ray of light hit it.
“Darcy, snap out of it!” Remi yelled in frustration and fear.
Again Darcy attacked and in desperation Remi morphed. Turquoise bellowed as she saw another queen, and charged to attack. Her only thought was to rip and tear, to rend and maim. Remi herself attacked as the Turquoise inhaled for another assault. Remi breathed, and a dozen fiery stars slammed into Turquoise’s body. She lost control of her breath weapon, and the shimmering light exploded in her mouth as the dragon recoiled physically from the attack. Turquoise screamed in agony. Gold body-slammed Turquoise. For a brief minute the smaller queen held her ground, then the gold’s larger body size began to prevail. Turquoise tried to breathe again, and again she lost control as the ground gave way under her. With a roar, both dragons went over the side and fell into the water below, the splash reached ten feet. As they sank Remi could feel the fight leave Turquoise. Remi stared in horror as Darcy appeared in front of her and continued to sink into the inky black depths of the ocean.
Remi splashed violently to the surface, her arm around Darcy’s shoulder. She awkwardly pulled herself to the tiny sheltered beach. The wind from the sea was bitterly cold and her wet gown clung to her, making it seem as if she had nothing on. The woman looked at her unconscious charge. Darcy didn’t look well. Her body twitched and the eyes fluttered. She tried to morph. Remi stood there open-mouthed, flabbergasted. Never, since she had first morphed, had she been unable to change. Panic surged through her. Remi huddled over Darcy, her arms wrapped about herself. Her teeth chattered, and fear ran rampant through her. For the first time in her life, Remi didn’t know what to do. She tried to morph again.
“Help us, please, for God’s sake, help us!” she screamed.
Emotion swamped the woman, she sank to the stony ground, whimpering. Great heaving sobs shook her body.
“Can anyone hear me? Please help us!” she shrieked again.
Suddenly, she looked up as a familiar presence could be felt; she turned and could see a red and a bronze dragon winging their way up the sound.
* * *
The cabin was dark. The lights had been put out a long time earlier. On the porch sat Tara, and Terin and Sam, Jeremiah pacing nervously back and forth.
“What the hell is the matter?” Jeremiah stopped and looked at the cabin forlornly. “This is the second bloody time something has happened to her around Remi.”
“That’s not fair boy,” his father rebuked him gently.
Jeremiah ran his hand through his hair. “I know, I know.” He growled irritably.
“I couldn’t get much out of Remi. She was pretty hysterical by the time we got to her,” Sam said.
“The fairy kin found me. I sent for Sam and met him on the way,” Tara added.
“I have never seen her like that before,” Sam said.
Tara looked at Sam, stung by his words. “Do you even know what she’s really like?”
The three men looked at Tara in surprise.
“Darcy has opened Remi’s eyes to another world. One full of emotion, love and a host of other things you wouldn’t even know about Sam!” she declared hotly.
“How can you know, you weren’t even there?” he shot back.
“How can I know, Sam?” Tara stood slowly, each word carried all the anger that surged thorough her. “You …dare… to… sit… there… and… ask… me… how…I…know!”
Tara stepped forward slowly, each foot carefully placed and her unblinking stare never left Sam’s stunned face, her eyes blazing and her voice low, full of contempt.
“When you left me that day the council summoned us, I sat and cried. I broke down and ranted and raved against everything, especially you! You bloody well hurt me, as I have never been hurt before! You gutless coward, it’s no wonder you have never flown for love!” Tara shouted and then, when she finished, she was surprised to find herself up in Sam’s face.
Sam took an involuntary step back, withering under Tara’s righteous wrath. His face registering total shock and surprise at what she said. A small part of him began to understand, but for the most part, he didn’t have a clue. Her demeanor didn’t improve when he simply shrugged. Tara quickly put both hands on Sam’s shoulders and shoved, hard. Sam stumbled and almost fell. He looked at Tara almost wistfully, as if remembering another place and time.
“I’m going to check on them,” Tara declared and stalked off.
At the door she turned and glared at Sam, and then, went inside and gently closed the door.
Tara paused briefly. Darcy slept, while Remi, still in her dirty gown lay on the bed next to her. Tara sat on the edge of the bed. Darcy slept peacefully now. Her fevered delirium of a few hours ago was gone. Remi on the other hand looked like she had been through the wringer. The woman had cried herself hoarse earlier. She had crawled onto the bed, holding Darcy as the wracking sobs tore at her body. She eventually wore herself out and fell into a troubled sleep. Tara smiled in the dim light. Remi had finally found the emotion and love that the rest of their kind was sorely lacking. Tara stood watching both women sleep. She picked up a blanket and gently laid it over Remi. Her hands shook a little as she brushed back her dirty and bedraggled hair. Remi whimpered softly in her sleep at her touch. Tara settled back into the chair and waited patiently, watching over them both for the rest of the night.
* * *
Remi found herself drifting in the water of the lake; the warm sun beat down on her bare skin. She looked around bewildered as to how she had come to be here. However, the water and the heat lulled her as she floated gently. After a short time she grew sleepy and closed her eyes. It didn’t take long for her to realize someone was close. Remi twisted her head, trying to see who it was. But the glare from the sun off the water forced her to squint. She could make out the blurred shape of a man wading towards her. The bright sun forced her to close her eyes. The waves lapped at her naked skin as the stranger moved into the water. Soon she gasped as Remi could feel hands along her legs, followed by the tenderest erotic kisses she had ever experienced.
Remi longed for more, but to her consternation, she found herself unable to move. Suddenly a thrill of excitement shot through every nerve in her body when she realized she was at the will of this stranger. Callused hands and his soft lips moved up her thighs. She experienced wonder as the stranger tenderly kissed her lips. She struggled for breath as she felt the stranger’s hands on her breasts. Remi moaned and gasped out loud as the man’s mouth found them and gently explored until he worked them to hardness. The man slowly licked her hardened nipples and Remi screamed out in ecstatic pleasure. Now she could feel the water gently rock her as the man moved toward her feet. She could feel an insistent pressure as he opened her legs. Remi could feel the strength of the man’s legs as he pressed against the tender insides of her thighs. Abruptly she could feel his hands under her as they lifted her hips, ready for him.
Remi stirred and waited in breathless anticipation, but all she could see now was the darkened shape of the cabin. She groaned and rolled over. She came up hard against the wall and for a second she was confused as to where she was. She looked the other way and could see the peaceful form of Darcy. She heard a creak, and rising up on her elbow, could see Tara in a chair, a blanket pulled about her. She settled back and lay down. She nestled against the warmth of Darcy. Remi buried her face in the younger woman’s shoulder as the tears threatened to start again. What did the dream mean? She was still unable to see the stranger, like the fantasy at the lake days earlier. For the first time Remi considered the idea that what she was experiencing wasn’t a symptom of her changing body. She knew this stranger, his scent was so familiar and the skin of his face so smooth. Suddenly she sat upright; a smooth face meant it wasn’t Sam. But then hard on the heels of what was happening to her, was the knowledge of what had gone wrong yesterday. She couldn’t believe she had almost killed Darcy. She still wasn’t sure what had happened.
“You okay?” Darcy’s sweet voice was slurred with sleep; Remi’s movement had woken her.
“What about you? I’m so sorry; I can’t believe I almost killed you.” Remi felt the tears start.
Darcy reached out and pulled Remi to her. “It’s okay. If I remember right, I tried to eat you. I think we are equal now. We should both be proud of today.”
Remi looked at Darcy incredulously. “How so?”
Darcy yawned. “We both know what to expect next time I morph.”
“I don’t know if there will be a next time,” Remi said guiltily.
“Look, I am going to fly Jeremiah. I want you to help me, but if not, I will do it alone,” Darcy flared, but then her voice dropped back softly. “These past few months, we have both had a lot of unexpected things to deal with. I think I have had the easy part. At least when a child grows up, they learn about love, emotions and all that kind of stuff along the way. When it actually happens it might be scary, but it’s a familiar scary. You, on the other hand, have had to deal with dozens of emotions in only a few days.”
Darcy impulsively leaned over and kissed Remi on the forehead. Remi huddled against Darcy’s body, suddenly grateful for her presence.
“I want to carry on so I can fly Jer, and I promise I will help you. I kind of think it was my fault anyway. If it wasn’t for the scrubbing sand this would never have happened.”
Remi laughed and suddenly, she knew the other girl was right. At least they had each other to help them cope.
Tara sat in the dark, having woken to Darcy’s outburst. She too was thinking about what she wanted. Suddenly, she knew without a doubt, she still loved Sam. Tara buried her face in her hands, what was she to do, Sam was still betrothed, and he was too duty bound to do anything. The only other person who might be able to help had no reason to. She sighed and pulled the blanket higher under her neck.
Terin sat on the bench. Jeremiah had gone to bed a short time ago, and Sam had taken a blanket and bedded down in the lean-to. Terin looked at the night sky. To him, this was the time he loved the most. He would sit with Adriana and they would watch the night sky. She would laugh and point excitedly as a star shot across the heavens. More often than not, they ended up making love on the porch, or anywhere they had a mind to. A tear seeped into his eye and he reached out to her. He sank back miserably as he knew she was gone. He would never, ever, feel her warmth in his arms, or know the heat and passion as they came together, their skin naked but for each other. Terin tried to steer his thoughts away from the pain thinking of Adriana caused. It had been six years since they had flown.
He jerked his thoughts back to Darcy and Jeremiah. Suddenly his mind did a sideways shuffle and he thought of Remi. He had come to look forward to her visits when she stayed late or even overnight, so she and Darcy could get started on some project early. Terin kicked himself. He was no youngling, and Remi was betrothed. And what was even more damning, in dracon society, a couple mated for life.
The last few months since Darcy had come to them, he had again started questioning a lot of things dracon. He was already considered eccentric as he and Adriana had flown out of love, and what made things even more controversial; they actually like having sex in their human form. The Council, the Elders and even the high priest had been to see the two of them, to try and change their ‘charming’ and ‘unconventional thinking.’ So they moved to this little cabin, and ignored the rest of the torpid dracon culture.
Terin sat upright, why couldn’t he marry again? Surely if the mate died and the survivor was young enough, God wouldn’t want them to live alone, a miserable wretched life devoid of everything good and true. Over the last few weeks, Terin’s interest in the woman had grown. He often thought of her and what exactly she meant to him. He reluctantly admitted that he did have strong feelings for Remi. Terin shook his head; he was too old for the love at first sight routine. But then, as if to contradict his previous thoughts, he sighed, it would be nice to feel love again. If he did love her, would it be enough to go against convention a second time. Terin sighed again, he was terribly tired, he didn’t know what he wanted, but then there was always Remi, would she break betrothal for love?
Terin was conscious as a heady fragrance seeped into his mind. He lifted his head and sniffed lightly, Remi. Even as he identified her, she stepped through the door. Terin smiled a crooked smile of silly delight. Remi stood in the shadows and looked longingly at the moon. A tiny sob escaped her. Terin coughed delicately not wanting to intrude on something personal.
“Terin, I’m terribly sorry. I didn’t see you sitting there; I didn’t know you were still awake.”
Remi stepped out onto the wooden porch. It squeaked slightly under her foot. Warmth poured in where moments ago there had only been misery and heartbreak. Her mood lightened as she sat beside Terin.
“It’s been a hard day. I’m not sure what happened to Darcy on the cliff.” Then she sobbed once. “I can’t believe that I almost killed her.”
“You didn’t almost kill her. We should have guessed that as a human she would be smothered by the dragon impulses. I think the same thing happened to you afterward, with the human passions and emotions that have been triggered since Darcy’s arrival.”
Remi nodded once and then silently looked outward. She could hear the frogs croaking at the lake. It wouldn’t be long until they disappeared for winter. Suddenly weary, Remi laid her head on Terin’s shoulder. She sighed deeply in relief, now that she was here with him, she sleepily closed her eyes. After a short time, she shifted uncomfortably on the wooden seat. Remi could feel Terin’s hands on her shoulders as he turned her around and then he propped his legs up on the wooden rail. Strangely, without any resistance on her part, she allowed Terin to ease her towards him. She snuggled down and lay across his lap, her head on his raised arm. She smiled and closed her eyes. As she lay in his arms, she could hear the comforting sound of his heart. She sighed, feeling safe and content in his arms. Terin sat for hours with infinite patience and let her sleep. He couldn’t help but study her face. Even with dirty hair, ravaged by the salt water, her white gown torn and filthy, Terin had never seen a more beautiful woman. He felt such a tremendous sense of peace. She rolled against him, and closed his eyes as her delicate scent drifted up to him. He impulsively bent and kissed her.
Remi’s head rested against Terin’s broad chest. She inhaled deeply. Suddenly, she was aware that he smelled the same as the stranger in her lake fantasy and her dreams earlier. Her eyes fluttered briefly and she glanced up as he leaned forward. She looked a little surprised, mixed with unexpected excitement and then she reached out and pulled his face down, and kissed him in return. Terin shuddered as feelings he hadn’t experienced in years rushed though him, he groaned slightly and impulsively reached up and tenderly touched her lips. He slowly traced her lovely mouth and then kissed her again. Terin could feel her shiver and not sure whether from the cold or the closeness, he paused briefly. Again she kissed him, more fully, her passion making both tremble. He reached out and gently cupped her breast and waited a second to see if she would rebuke him. Remi kissed him again, deeper and longer. His hand seemed to move with a life of its own. Terin reach out and slipped her gown from her shoulder, her lovely, perfectly shaped breasts were like an erotic elixir to him. He moved his face slowly and kissed each one, his lips lingering for a moment, to gently suckle. Remi gasped, and moaned as his hand slipped to her leg. Her hips began to arch as his hand slowly moved up the inside of her thigh pushing her dress aside. Terin began to breathe heavier as he moved higher. It was just like her dream. Abruptly Remi pulled back. As much as she liked him, she wasn’t ready to give herself to him, unless she knew for sure she loved him, and there was still a matter of the betrothal. Terin looked longingly at her, then nodded in understanding.
“I…had… had…better check on Darcy,” she said, her voice choked with emotion as she gathered her gown and pulled the dirty ragged material over her breasts.
Terin nodding reluctantly, he looked regretfully at her and Remi gently cupped his face and softly kissed his lips.
* * *