Dreaming of Dragons

an excerpt



Chapter One

Mortal world--six months after the appearance of dragons



Dr. Hugh Price, owner of AngleLow Labs and former government agent, waved a hand toward the boxes lining the walls of the vault at AngleLow Labs. "We have diamonds from Africa and pearls from the South Pacific."

Being a herpetologist and not a gemologist, Kael Hammerson couldn't begin to calculate the total worth of all those gems.

"Where else are the gems going?" Kael ran a finger over a rough diamond.

"Nowhere. Ireland is the only country being invaded by dragons. Other mythical creatures seem to be appearing in other places, though. Mermaids off the coast of Australia. A minotaur in Crete. Vampires in Eastern Europe." Hugh scrubbed a hand over his face and sighed.

"What makes Ireland so special that we get dragons?" He wandered over to Hugh and rubbed his lover's shoulders.

"I don't have a bloody clue," Hugh snarled.

Before Kael could comment, Hugh covered his hand.

"I'm sorry, love. I'm frustrated."

"We all are, Hugh. I wish we had better news for you."

At the sound of the new voice, Hugh and Kael turned and watched Sir George St. Albans and Mordred appear. The knight looked tired and his elf lover looked as unflappable as ever. Kael wondered what could cause the elf to lose his cool.

"Still no idea who is causing any of this?" Hugh embraced Kael, bringing him around to stand in front of him.

The elf shrugged. "I have some possibilities, but no proof. I need evidence before I can go to Gaia."

Mordred gave each of them a kiss and strolled off to study the diamonds. George hugged Kael and nodded to Hugh.

"Why are dragons appearing here, George? There've been reports of other creatures showing up elsewhere, but no other country has dragons."

"When magic ruled the world, Ireland was where it was concentrated. The elves held their councils here. Gods met in the sacred groves to decide the fates of their worshippers." Mordred eased back toward them. "The very rock and dirt making up the island is imbued with power. If you're trying to invade earth and you're a being of magic, where would you go?"

"To the spot that offers me the best advantage," Hugh murmured.

"Exactly. So we get dragons." Mordred faded out of sight.

The door to the vault opened and the group of dragon slayers filed in. Captain Wellmine gave each one their orders before strolling over to where Kael, Hugh, and George stood.

"Dr. Hammerson, Dr. Price, St. Albans," Wellmine greeted them, keeping his gaze on the other soldiers.

Kael noticed how the captain's gaze seemed to linger on Bailey Stevenson, the logistics man for the slayers. George had mentioned in conversation once that he thought Wellmine was interested in Stevenson. George might be right. Something was happening between those two men.

"How did training go?" Hugh asked.

Wellmine frowned. "Not well. I'm not sure what we're going to do. We don't have enough people to fight these creatures at the rate they're appearing." He nodded at the others. "They're getting tired as well. I'm afraid if they don't get rest soon, we're going to have a serious injury on our hands."

Kael didn't want that. He'd grown to like the members of the team, even the obnoxious Larkin. His opinion of the man had changed when he saw the way Larkin talked to Irene, Kael's assistant. Irene had managed to break free of her abusive boyfriend, and she was leery of getting involved in any kind of relationship. Larkin seemed to understand that, approaching her with gentleness and respect.

"Are you coming with us?"

Hugh's question broke through Kael's thoughts. He glanced up to meet Hugh's hazel eyes. Blushing, he ducked his head. Hugh's expression was tolerant exasperation. His lover was used to him taking detours in his brain. The only time Hugh got annoyed with him was when it happened while they were making love.

His blank stare must have clued Hugh in on the fact that he had no idea what Hugh was talking about.

"We have to meet Von Offerman. He's coming to update us on governmental progress toward finding the source of the dragons." Hugh grinned.

Kael chuckled, shooting a look at George, who shook his head with a rueful grimace.

"A waste of money."

"Why do you say that?" Wellmine gestured for Kael to lead the way. "Do you think the best scientific minds in the British Isles won't be able to figure it out?"

George shrugged. "It's irrelevant if we know where they come from or not. What we need to figure out is how to stop them from coming."

"Maybe by figuring out where they come from, they'll discover a way to stop them." Bailey joined them, his steps slow and a little unsteady.

Kael could tell the long continuous hours were beginning to wear on Bailey. The sergeant never complained, even though everyone knew his wounds were causing him pain. Stevenson never spoke about the injuries he'd received in Afghanistan, but Kael had seen tears in Bailey's eyes when the sergeant didn't think anyone was looking.

"I'll catch up with you in a few minutes. I need to check something in the lab."

Hugh met his gaze, and Kael kept his expression innocent. His lover's eyes narrowed, but Hugh didn't say anything, simply nodded. Waiting until the others had left the vault, he spun around to look at the corner where Mordred had disappeared.

"Mordred, I need to ask you something."

The blond-haired elf appeared, sitting on one of the gem crates. "Ask away, little one, though I'm not sure I'll be able to give you an answer."

"I was wondering if there was something you could do for Bailey. He's in a lot of pain." He wandered over to stand next to the crate, resting his hand on Mordred's leg.

Mordred stroked his hand through Kael's curls. "I'm afraid I can't heal him, love. Those injuries are permanent."

Kael sighed. "I know, but I wasn't looking for you to heal him. I was just wondering if you could do something about the pain. Some herb or potion he could take. He's working so hard. In many ways, harder than the others. Bailey stays up later and comes in earlier than the rest of us as well. I think he feels he has something to prove or that he's not pulling his weight because he can't go out and fight the dragons. I'd really like to see him feel better."

Warmth flowed from Mordred's fingers as he caressed Kael's forehead. The tension that had been building eased, and he closed his eyes. He was feeling so much pressure to fix the situation or make the dragons disappear. He couldn't. No matter how hard he tried to explain it, no one listened.

"I'll see what I can find for him. One of our healers might know of an herb or potion we can give him to take the edge off. He is a proud man, I think. It's hard for him to watch his comrades go out and risk their lives without him." Mordred sounded thoughtful.

"Bailey does help the others. The logistics and supplies wouldn't happen without him." He pulled back and looked up at Mordred. "Do you think they realize how important he is?"

His friend shrugged. "I can't begin to imagine what the others think of Stevenson." Mordred leaned down, brushing a kiss over his mouth. "Let me go talk to some people. I'll come see you when I know something."

"Thank you, Mordred. They've become my friends."

Mordred pressed a long elegant finger to Kael's lips. "You care for him. That's all that is important to me."

Kael smiled. The elf faded away, and Kael headed to his lab. He really did need to check on an experiment he'd had Irene set up for him.