Taulan (Dragons of Preor Book 2)(4)By: Celia Kyle & Erin Tate
One of the human females who’d recently mated an Ujal male and was the newly appointed Director of Youngling Recovery. Lana’s specialty was children. Before she’d sunk to living out of her car, she worked as a social worker and then Director of Heart House—a privately funded home for orphaned children and teens. That was where she met Stev—
She wasn’t going there. Not today. Not ever again. Unless he finds me.
The woman’s eyes brightened and a wide smile graced her lips. “Oh! Lottie was excited to speak with you. She said your qualifications were exemplary and—“
Just as quickly as her excitement blossomed, it vanished, and Lana became aware of someone else’s approach. The heavy thud of boots on the metal grating told her of the person’s size. From the sound, he rivalled Steven—she swallowed the bile that surged at the thought of his name. Easily two-fifty, possibly larger. Since she was in UST, she assumed he was an Ujal, and those males were typically six feet or more. Since he wore boots, he was land bound for a while. The Ujal didn’t bother with shoes unless they were going to be out of the water for extended periods.
Then there was another sound that joined the thumping steps. A soft, gentle rustling, the slide of… She couldn’t identify what exactly rustled, but it was something. Not fabric. She knew that sound. And the brush of paper on paper. This was organic? But not skin or Ujal scales.
Which left Lana with…
The male turned the corner and finally came into view. With his appearance, the woman she’d been speaking with shuffled back a step. Fear sneaked into her eyes, and the genuine smile turned brittle.
Lana could understand why. Two-fifty? Try two-seventy. Six feet? Nope, six three. As far as the male’s coloring was concerned… He was different alright, but not an Ujal. No, she was faced with a Preor. Live and in living color. His long hair curled at his shoulders, the dark—nearly black—hue a contrast to his slightly copper skin. But above those shoulders were a pair of glittering maroon wings. The dark appendages twitched, retaining her attention. She’d never seen a Preor so close. Sure, the dragon-shifting aliens were all anyone talked about, but they didn’t mingle with the regular population like the Ujal. Where the Ujal could pass for humans, depending on their coloring, the Preor never could. Their status as aliens was kinda obvious with the whole wing thing going on.
Dark eyes settled on the other female before turning to Lana and then away again. He quirked a single, midnight brow in question, not voicing the words in his mind, but Lana could imagine what he said.
“Good Morning, Radoo sen Matzal.” The female was much less animated now, her speech formal. “This is Lana Cooper to see Charlotte ta’Rhow.”
Radoo grunted and then she was the subject of his scrutiny once more. He stared at her, his eyes scouring her body from head to toe as if trying to read her mind. Could he? There wasn’t much known about the Preor race. Did he know she was a fraud? Did he know she was running from—
Her questions went unanswered—or answered, depending on how she looked at things—because Radoo simply turned from them and continued his travels down the opposite hall. Neither woman spoke for long moments, seconds ticking past while the sound of his steps lowered in volume until his presence was no longer felt.
She released her breath in a gradual exhale while she fought to slow her heartbeat. He hadn’t said anything about the fears running through her mind. Maybe he couldn’t pluck her thoughts from her brain.
“Sorry,” the woman whispered. “That was… He…”
Lana pasted a smile—no matter how fake—on her lips. She waved away whatever the Ujal attempted to say. “It’s fine. I imagine most of the men—males,” she quickly corrected herself. The term man was for humans. Aliens were males. A subtle difference that mattered. “Are all a little intimidating. I’m sure I’ll get used to it.” The last few words replayed themselves in her head and she winced. “I mean, if I’m hired.”
The Ujal’s unease gradually dissipated, and she found that the woman’s smile edged from fake to real as she calmed. “I’m sure. They’re not bad, it’s just…”