Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(23) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Because they were mates, she had no problem picking up his scent to track, even though it was days old. It was the same ability that had enabled her to locate him here in Sanctuary.
Unless Maxis blocked his scent and used his powers against her, Seraphina could find him with ease.
That was also the first and last time she’d seen him as a dragon.
Without thinking, she’d tracked him into a dark cave where he’d taken refuge to await her return. Because it was a full dragon’s den where he’d placed his own belongings without her knowledge, she hadn’t realized it was his.
Until that moment, she hadn’t given any thought to the fact that Maxis had come to their marriage with nothing more than the dragonslayer’s sword he’d taken from his brother’s killer, the clothes on his back, and the horse she’d given him as a wedding present.
As she’d stumbled upon the sleeping dragon, she’d unsheathed her sword, intending to kill the beast. His ears had twitched as he detected the subtle sound of metal scraping.
With the fierce rumble that said he was preparing to let loose fire, he’d opened his eyes and turned toward her with a vicious, feral growl. His deep blue scales had turned bright red – a battle color… then green as he focused his gaze on her and relaxed. He’d folded his wings down to lay against his back, and slid his tail beside his rear left foot – a dragon’s position of peace and acceptance.
The shock and horror, as she realized this was what the gods had mated her to, had claimed her so fully that she really didn’t remember the next few minutes. Only that when she returned to her senses, Maxis was human and holding her against his chest as she sobbed violently. Something that wasn’t in her nature.
“I’m so sorry.” He’d kissed the tears on her cheeks as he sought to soothe her. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
Once the shock had worn off and her mind worked again, she glared at him.
He’s a dragon. A full-blooded, horrific dragon.
Yes, she knew how stupid that sounded. She’d known what he was.
But knowing and seeing…
It was so different.
He was one of those awful, murderous things that had brutally slain her entire family. Her mother and sisters. Without regard or mercy. One of the animals that held no care or concern for her people. Who preyed on them as if they were cattle.
As if they were nothing.
And as she’d glanced around the dark cavern and saw his trunks of treasure and lair – the things he valued – she’d realized that this was what he considered his home.
Not her tent. Not her tribe.
This was his home. His den.
He’s an animal. The pile of straw on the floor attested to that. Straw like what her horse slept upon. No bed or pillow. Or blanket.
He even had a trough of water.
Disgusted, she’d shoved him away and risen to her feet as the brutal reality slapped her hard.
His expression shocked, he stood. “What’s wrong?”
She didn’t know where to begin. The question wasn’t what was wrong. It was what was right. “You were supposed to be in the village to welcome me home. Why weren’t you there?”
He’d laughed derisively. “Really didn’t want to see the lot of you returning home with the bloody hides and scales of my brethren dripping from the backs of your horses as you dragged them through the village. Damn sure didn’t want to celebrate your sneaky victories and bloodshed.”
Sneaky? That had only made her fury grow. How dare he dismiss the danger in what they did! “I’m your mate!”
Heat had darkened his deceptively human cheeks. “And I’m yours! You just took one look at me in my real body, and screamed for an hour, and then went into shock at the sight of me. How would you have felt had I done that to you the first time I saw you naked?”
“It’s not the same!”
“Isn’t it? Or better yet, what if you’d come here to find human skulls and bones littering the floor and decorating the walls? Huh? How would you react to human fat burning as oil for my torches? Yet you left me alone in your village that’s held together with the remains of dracokyn. And that includes the tent where you sleep. Do you really think it’s escaped my notice that the posts of it are made from the bones and tusks of drakomai? Or that the candles that burn throughout the village are made from dragon fat? You think I don’t know that smell?”
Unwilling to cede the point since he was right, she didn’t bother to contradict him. Instead, she moved on to something he couldn’t argue with. “Your place is at my side!”
“Aye, at your side. Not beneath your feet to be trod upon. I am not an Amazon male who caters to your every whim and begs for a kind word from you. You do not own me. I am not your property! And I will not allow you to treat me as such!”
“And I will not allow you to embarrass me in front of my basilinna or my tribe. I’ve worked too hard to reach my position —”
“As a murderess?”
“Nay.” He shook his head. “Sneaking into a lair while a dragon sleeps and cutting his throat isn’t noble. It’s murder. You don’t hunt. You tiptoe to slaughter.”
“And what do dragons do? You attack sleeping villages! Is that not murder?”
“No, we don’t. We don’t attack, ever. Katagaria are not drakomai. Do not insult me by mistaking my brethren for one of them. They are a different breed entirely. Made by an Arcadian king and a psychotic god who wanted to please him. Merged with Apollites by dark magick. ’Tis the bloodline of your kind that taints those poor bastards. Drakomai are not raised to attack unprovoked. We don’t hunt for any reason except to eat, and we don’t prey on man. That is not in our natures. So long as you stay out of our territory and dens, we leave you in peace.”
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