Chase put the book down on his desk and thought about what he’d just read. He’d been doing that a great deal lately, reading about the woman that was still in his freezer. She had been hard to figure out, what she was and how she’d come to be, but Kilian had come to his rescue just yesterday and had helped him a great deal. Not that he still didn’t have a million questions, but for the most part, he did have a better understanding and knowledge of what she was. “Do you have a question I can answer for you, Lord Chase?” He told Spud, a friend of Jewel, that he didn’t know, what he wanted to ask right now. “Understandable. The lady queen, she has put someone in charge of watching over her. There are few who didn’t want to be here, but she has picked a couple to help you as well. The helper is called Sunshine. She will be here as long as the Lady Warrior is.” Chase had found out that while Emerald was very powerful and old, she wasn’t an ice dragon, but the protector of them. Yes, she was created in ice, but had the appearance of a human in all ways. It was so she would to be able to withstand the heat should there be a need, but her job was to fight with and to protect dragons, dragons made entirely of ice. And not just any ice either, but ice so cold that it was as hard as stone, which would only melt when the heat from the sun shone directly on them for one thousand years. He’d never heard of such a thing. “Where is her dragon, do you know?” Sunshine, his new helper, bowed before him and told him that she was looking for him now. “So, is he dead or alive? Or don’t you know that yet?” “I believe him to be dead, my lord, but I can’t be sure just yet. Forgive me for not having the answer right now.” He told Sunshine that he didn’t expect her to have them all right now, but to keep looking. “I am, my lord. We all are. To have an ice dragon alive would be a great thing.” He didn’t know why but he let it go. To his way of thinking, to have a full-sized dragon around would be scary. But then he hadn’t ever met a dragon, so he wasn’t sure what full sized could mean. To him they were great creatures that smashed houses. For all he knew they could be no bigger than the faerie in front of him. Emerald had been in his freezer for a week now. She’d come out on occasion, stare at him or whoever was in the room with him, then go back inside. Her sword was always drawn, and she was covered from head to toe in ice…her shield, he’d been told. He’d also read that she would be cold at all times, much like someone that was dead. He didn’t want to think about that too much. The rest of his day was spent trying to catch up on some paperwork. He’d moved all his office—well, most of it—into the kitchen when going back and forth between there and his actual office was too time consuming. Besides, he thought that it was working out better anyway, as he seemed to be getting more done than sitting in his office, staring at the wall.
Dad had been making it to his house about suppertime every night since he’d been told that Chase had his mate. It had been both wonderful and nerve-wracking at the same time. He loved his dad, more than anything, but he asked too many questions and in a small space of time. And that was what made him tense about this entire thing, not having the answers when his dad assumed that he should. As soon as he walked in the door, Chase put up his hand. “No, I’ve not spoken to her. Yes, she’s still in there. No, I’ve not learned anything more than I did yesterday, and no, I’m not going to go in there and see if she needs me. She’s fine where she is.” Dad sat down, but looked to be a little miffed. “Dad, I’m scared enough without you adding to my already overflowing cup of what ifs.” “Can’t a man be curious about his newest family member?” Chase said that he could, so long as he didn’t ask him about her. “You think she’s going to be all right in there after all this time?” “No, I think she’s dead and I’m only waiting until you leave before I go in, wrap her in a thick blanket, and bury her in the back yard.” His dad growled. “Dad, I don’t know anything about her other than she worked for Jewel, knows a lot of languages, and that someone, someone deadly, is after her.” “There are a lot of people around town that don’t belong here, so you know. And Jason has talked to a few of the people in your mate’s neighborhood, who said that Emerald has helped them out a bit, so they don’t tell them anything.” He said that Jason had told him that last night. “He said that he’s got some people watching those guys in the hotel too. I thought that you should know that they’re not moving around much during the day, mostly in the evening, asking questions. I think they figure that people would be more respective of a few questions after they’ve had dinner. Morons.” “Are they human?” Dad told him that a few of them were, but they were wolves for the most part. “Do you know if they’ve registered with the pack leader? That could be an easy way to check them out.” “They’re by the books, I can tell you that. Donald said that not only had they come to him to tell them that they were here, but they gave him some story about being here on a shopping expedition. To put in a plant of some kind. I don’t know what that would be, and Donald said he can’t ask.” Yeah, Chase knew that as well. They had to report to him if they were wolf, but not tell him why they were here other than to say it was business or vacation. “He said to tell you that he has his men and women working in the hotel that they’re in, and they have been snooping around.” “I hope they’re being careful. These men don’t seem the sort to mess with.” Dad said that they were being extra careful, as they seem to have suspicious minds as well. “What do you mean? They figure someone is looking into their lives?” “Said that while they’re in the rooms—cleaning up, you know—there seems to be a lot of luggage, and most of it is locked up. They can’t tell, like one of us can, what’s in there, but they don’t bother them. One of them told Donald that they could smell silver in the cases, so were kind of afraid to touch them.” Dad looked around then back at him, and Chase found himself leaning in to hear what he had to say. “I’ve been in their rooms…not so they’d see me, but in there. They have all kinds of equipment that I had
to ask what it was when I got back. Jewel is helping me find out what it is, but mostly it’s lab equipment. And a big saw. Like them kind that you’d have when felling trees for a house.” “To remove my head.” They both stood when Emerald came out of the freezer and spoke. “I’ve healed for the most part, but I now need to feed.” Chase felt his own body’s need to feed overwhelm him. Sitting down, he tried to calm himself and his beast. It wasn’t working. He needed her, they both did. When she moved by him to the sink, he growled low and she paused to look at him. “You’ve been here for more than a week, and I’ve not been able to feed either. I’m sorry. I don’t want to rush you or scare you, but just letting you know.” She nodded and poured herself a glass of juice, juice that he knew for a fact hadn’t been in his refrigerator before she’d opened it. “You know what I am to you.” “My mate. I’m not sure how that works with you being a vampire, but I’m not an easy person to know. I’m a loner as well.” She drained the glass of juice then poured herself another. The next time she drained it, it filled on its own. “What is it you expect from me?” It was on the tip of his tongue to tell her to come sit on his naked cock. To let him have her in a very carnal way. But he only looked at her, hoping to Christ that not only could she not read his mind, but that she wasn’t as dangerous as he’d heard she could be. Then he realized that he’d not answered her yet. “Expect? Nothing that you’re not willing to give me. Answers would be great, but having the questions in any kind of order or even coherent right now isn’t going to happen. I’ve been reading up on what I could find, or someone has given me. I know a little about your kind, but that’s it, just a little.” She asked him what he wanted to know. “You’re a warrior. Where is your dragon?” “He died some decades ago. More than I care to think about.” He nodded and told her that he had figured that was what she’d say. “I was harmed when he was taken off the field we were fighting on. He died later, from other wounds. Not that it matters, but the people who are looking for me now, the ones chasing me, they think that I can tell them things about why I’ve been alive for so long. Something about pictures from long ago. I don’t think that they know what I am. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying to find me. It’s been hard to keep away; they must have resources that are good. But I can’t let them capture me for any reason, because that would cause a lot of creatures a great deal of trouble. Including you. And if I won’t give them what they want, then they’ll simply remove my head.” “They have lab equipment with them. And as you said, a saw to remove your head. I’m thinking, unlike you, that they know just what you are and what you could bring to them if they were to capture you.” She didn’t say anything, but sat at the table he and Dad were at. “What can we do to protect you? I’m assuming that somewhere along the line, you’ve trusted people before who betrayed you. I won’t. Never. And neither will my family.” “As I have been told before. Sorry, but my levels of trust don’t include you just yet. That doesn’t mean that I won’t eventually, but for now, I don’t.” She didn’t elaborate,
and he didn’t ask. If he was honest, he wasn’t even sure he wanted to know. “You are the son of Crosby, the vampires that saved the Queen Kilian.” “Yes, and you are Emerald, dragon warrior, rider and protector of the ice dragons and last female of your kind.” She nodded, and he could see her shifting under the façade of clothing that she had worn when she’d come out of the freezer. “You’re magical, the most magical creature that has ever lived, too.” “Yes, and by being my mate, you are as well.” He had already figured that would happen, but it didn’t make it any easier for him to question her. “You will be safe with me, Chase Crosby. This I can promise you with my sword.” ~~~ Kilian was excited and afraid to meet the warrior. She knew who she was, of course. All creatures of the earth knew who the great Emerald was. But when she entered the dwelling that housed her, she knew immediately that while she was healed, she was still very weak. Looking at Chase as he sat with her at the table, Kilian wondered if he knew that she was just as hungry as he was. “I’ve come to bless you with some of my magic.” Kilian had only come to talk to the warrior, but knew that she was going to need more than she was getting right now. “My lady, you need to feed, and soon. I’m sure that you’re aware of this, but you’re unwell.” “I’m all right. I’ve been talking to the vampire here.” She nodded at Chase and he smiled. Kilian loved this young man—because he was to her, young—more than she did any of the others. Which was saying a great deal, as she loved them all very much. But Chase had a heart of gold, and he was as kind a person as she’d ever met. “He has it in his head that he’s going to protect me. I don’t need protecting from a vampire, or any other creature that comes to this house. So we’re coming to an understanding, he and I. He’ll let me do my job and not get in my way.” “You do need him, however.” Emerald looked at her, and Kilian could see that she was angry. At who or what she didn’t know, but she bowed before her. “You need only to tell him and Chase will help you.” “He cannot, and you know this.” Kilian said that she knew no such thing, and looked at the warrior when she laughed. “The vampire isn’t going to be—” “Chase. Say it…my name is Chase, Chase Crosby.” He grinned, and Kilian wondered if he knew how much more handsome he was when he did that. “You have to stop calling me the vampire, as that isn’t something about me that a great many people know. Chase. You can say it in several languages, I’m sure.” “It would be all the same, as well you know. But there are things that you don’t understand. You can’t get close to me, vampire. I am a danger to not just you, but to all mankind if they find me. Especially here.” He asked her why here. “You are here. So is your family.” “Yes, so they are. And for what it’s worth, they’d help me in any kind of way that you needed. But as for the men in town that are here for you, I can tell you right now, they have no idea where you are, or that you’ve healed. Nor do they know exactly what we’ll do to them when they try anything. As I said before, we’re a tight family of
vampires, with magic that none others have. Also, we can call on many other packs and leaps at any time. They like us.” She asked him why he thought that they’d not get to her. “Because, I have taken care that they don’t. And we have people working in the building that they’re in who are watching their every move. Even what they eat and what they send back to the kitchen. Did you know that they don’t drink anything but water? Why is that, I wonder? It could be that they, like me, don’t care for sugary drinks, but who knows? But they like water.” “So, they aren’t human.” Kilian laughed when Chase told her no shit. “I’m not one to fuck with. I have a great deal riding on me staying alive.” “Yes, you do, and so do I. I have my life and everything that I am riding on you staying alive.” He stood up and Kilian marveled at his height, as she did all the Crosby boys when she was near them. “My brothers and I are working very hard on keeping you safe, and have been since you were put into my freezer to heal. We’ve all taken turns in making sure that you were taken care of, that you had all that you needed, and that no one, at least only those that we trust, knew where you were. As far as anyone knows, they haven’t any idea that you’ve been in my freezer all this time.” When Emerald stood up as well, Kilian decided that she’d come to talk to the warrior some other time, and slipped out of the house as quietly as she’d entered. She found herself smiling at nothing when she made her way back to her home. There were going to be fireworks when those two came together, and Kilian was glad that she was close enough to see them when they did. The Crosbys were a powerful group of men, but they paled considerably when their magic was put against one as strong as the warrior. Chase was going to be a vampire to be reckoned with, more so than he was now. “My queen?” She looked at Sunshine and allowed her to speak freely. She found this rule, as old as she was, the most annoying of all of them. To have to ask to speak to her. “We have located the body of the ice dragon, my lady. Three, as a matter of fact. They have been dead for a great many years. His body, like that of two others, has been hidden within the caves of the mountain. By the same hand, we believe. They have not been bothered, my lady. Their bodies are still as they had been when they entered. No human has ever touched them. Not in all these years.” “The ice warrior, you think she put them in there?” Sunshine nodded. “How did they perish? Were you able to ascertain that?” “Yes, my lady. Two of the dragons were very old and worn out. They wished to die and did so. They have been moved and put to rest in the gardens here. I hope that is all right with you. The cave they were found in, it was not proper for ones such as them. Her dragon, the ice warrior’s, he was killed by his own hand. She brought him to the cave to be with his family in his last moments, I think. But he ended his life on his own.” Kilian asked how they were related. “His parents, my lady. Both his mother and father were put there by the warrior, as well as several, smaller dragons that were killed by war. The dragon of the ice warrior, he had been hurt badly when he was hidden away. He finished himself to free her of his life.”
He had been her true dragon, and Emerald should have died with him…her heart having beat with his. But since he killed himself—the only thing he could do for her to be free to move on—her life did not end with his. As soon as he died, by his own hand, it separated their hearts. Her heart would beat for only Chase now. It was the thing that Kilian might have done, should she have been a dragon for a warrior. “How do you know this? That he died by his own hand?” Kilian was handed a thick slab of stone, hand cut and a great many years old. She read the accounting of the incident then looked at Sunshine. “Have you told anyone of this?” “No. I was to tell his lordship, Lord Chase, but I thought you should know first.” She nodded. This changed so many things for them. “He gave her his all, my lady. All that they were, even his parents, was gifted to the warrior for her service to them. This is a great thing he did for her. And the title that is now hers.” The king and queen of the dragons had been found, it seemed. After all these many years, their bodies had been found, and Kilian was both saddened by their deaths and happy that someone had taken care that their bodies were safe. She herself had looked for them whenever she was out and about, the earth not giving her their whereabouts, and now she knew why. Emerald had hidden them away so that their forms could be safe. For all of them. “Tell the Crosbys that I wish to speak to them. All of them. And the warrior. She might know what her dragon has done for her, but I have my doubts. But I have to let them all know what this means. Not just to Chase and Emerald, but to the family as a whole. There will be others now that will come for her, and when they do, there will be hell to pay.” Sunshine asked if she could be paired with the warrior. “You will need to ask her, my child. And do not be surprised if she tells you no. Her life has been hard since she was created, and I doubt she has had a friend or helpmate at all since then.” “I will await your conversation with them before I put the question to her.” Kilian thought that a good idea. “She is the queen of the warriors as well as the queen of the dragons. When she brought them all together, do you think she knew what she had done?” “She might have, as I said, but I doubt it. The note that was left for her, where did you find it?” Sunshine told her that it had been under the king, with the two crowns that they had worn. “I would say that she didn’t know, nor does she have any idea what they have given her. And indirectly to young Chase. He will be…well, I hope he will be more receptive of it than Jason might have been before meeting his own mate. Otherwise, we might have a greater war on our hands than we have ever had.” She didn’t think that Chase would be a problem, not with this or anything that had to do with his mate. But Kilian was as sure as she stood there, in her garden, that Emerald would be. She would be angry at a lot of things, but mostly at her dragon for putting her into such a position. Kilian was both looking forward to telling her and not. This wasn’t going to be easy, she knew it.