Jarek(Dragons of Preor Book 1)(8)By: Celia Kyle & Erin Tate
His men reluctantly complied, their weapons slowly returning to the sheaths on their backs and wings folding against their bodies once more. His mate met his gaze and the worry slowly drained from her as well. His dragon sounds did not frighten her further and the growing calm also soothed the youngling in her grasp.
He slowly padded toward the huddled females. Ignoring the tense Ujal warriors, he knelt at their side. His wing extended to curve around her back in both comfort and protection as his dragon forced a calming trill past his lips. It would be easy to fully envelop her with his wings to protect her should one of the Ujal even attempt to touch her.
“Kouva,” he murmured and resisted the urge to reach for her. The word rolled off his tongue with ease, as if he’d been destined to speak it to a female—this female.
“Shaa kouvi,” she returned the greeting and it warmed his heart—a place in him he’d let grow cold long ago.
“Release the youngling to her parents.” His dragon-self asserted itself, forcing his voice to a deep tone. His mate did not react but the youngling whimpered.
The small one lifted her head slightly, bright eyes meeting his, and sniffled. “Miss Meli.”
The soft words were immediately followed by the familiar scrape of a blade leaving its sheath. He knew the sound of a Preor weapon being exposed and that whisper-like slide was not metal on aged katoth skin. An Ujal then. A male who wished to tempt fate.
Jarek slowly turned his head from the females and met the midnight gaze of a nearby Ujal. His black hair matched his fathomless eyes and the scales that slithered over his skin. The Ujal Rhal. Many—even on Preor before they became known to the race—whispered of this male’s fierceness in battle. They spoke of the deaths at his blade and the echoing screams of his victims.
Yet Rhal was no match for a Preor defending his mate claim—for Jarek defending his mate claim.
“You will stand down.” Jarek would not be defied.
“You will release Melissa Walker and the princess.” Rhal’s blade glinted in the ship’s light.
A blade was nothing against a Preor’s claws. His fingers burned, dragon’s fire setting his blood aflame as claws formed. His body reacted to the threat without conscious thought and he did not attempt to suppress his reactions though he probably should have.
A War Master thought of the battle and the safety of his people before he thought of himself.
Jarek sen Claron, War Master of the Third Fleet, gladly thought of only himself.
He ignored Rhal’s order, choosing only to consider part of his words. “Youngling, you must go to your dam, now.”
“Miss Meli.” The young one clung to his mate until she spoke softly to the child.
“Go ahead. Can’t you see how worried your mommy is?” Melissa—her name came easily to his dragon tongue—whispered and the princess turned her head and then nodded. “Then go see her. You know it’s not good to make her upset.” She pressed a kiss to the youngling’s head before helping her stand. He fought the urge to steady the princess, and instead remained motionless as his mate urged her to toddle to Principessa Rina.
Jarek held his breath as the princess moved past him, arms outstretched for her dam. The moment she cleared his shoulder, an Ujal guard was there, snatching the youngling from the ground. The rapid movement wrenched a cry from the child and metal was revealed once more.
Preor metal. Bared but not buried in flesh. Thank the stars for small favors.
“Jarek…” Prince Tave’s voice held both a threat and a plea, one that resonated inside Jarek.
The male would not let this stand and he probably prayed Jarek would feel the same. Tensions were too high to be diplomatic, raging nearly out of control, and there was only one way to deflate the situation.
He had to abandon the talks. For now, at least. The burned diplomatic bridges could be rebuilt via comms.
Though, perhaps the situation would be destroyed forever once they witnessed his next actions. He rose to his feet using the agility of his kind. In the same move, he scooped his mate into the cradle of his arms. His men parted for him, their bodies and wings separating the Ujal from encroaching on his path or barring him from leaving the room.