Taulan (Dragons of Preor Book 2)(5)By: Celia Kyle & Erin Tate
The Ujal female nodded. “Yes, different. We’ve all been on edge since the destruction on the Preor ship, and only investigated individuals are permitted entrance to the station.”
Lana raised her eyebrows and gestured at the door. “I walked right in.”
The smile wasn’t condescending per se, but it did have a little “bless your heart” in it. “The systems scanned your face and identified you before unlocking the door. We’d already researched you prior to requesting your presence. The technology does the rest.”
Well, at least her identity stood up against the Ujal. Money well spent, then.
“Charlotte communicated with the station earlier and indicated she’d be approximately thirty minutes late. The younglings in her care became distracted by a pod of dolphins and several younglings followed without permission.” Lana could just bet. Kids would be kids whether on land or in the sea. “You’re welcome to wait here in the lobby.” The Ujal female gestured around, and Lana noted the distinct lack of anywhere to sit. “Or walk the beach. She’ll be entering through the covered bay, and she and a few younglings will join you on the sand.”
Right. Because the people—aliens—she wanted to work for lived in the sea and were at home on the beach. Considering they essentially turned into mermaids, she could understand their love of the water. It looked like she’d have to learn to love it as well. With eighty-five percent of the station occupied and operated by Ujal, she’d probably be involved with a lot of sand-based activities. Plus, really, her job was—would be—to help rescued younglings transition from a land-based life to one that involved the ocean.
Lana nodded. “Sure, it’ll be nice to take a walk on the sand. It seems beautiful out.”
The woman gave her a true, joyous smile. “The sea is cool and the sand soft today. I’m sure you’ll love it. Charlotte will locate you upon her arrival.”
“Perfect,” she lied. It was anything but perfect. She didn’t want to traipse across the beach. She wanted a job. She wanted to get paid. She wanted… Her stomach grumbled, and neither woman said a word about the sound. She wanted a job so she could get paid and eat.
Instead, she got salty air, sticky sand, and a half-hour wait.
“It sounds perfect.”
Just because Taulan no longer had wings did not mean the temper and fire of his dragon was gone as well. The skies were lost to him forever, but the burning need for air on his scales had not lessened. It remained firmly entrenched in his heart, his flesh and bones seeming to call for the freedom of flight. It’s what brought him to Preor Tower, drawing him to the uppermost levels occupied by the War and Defense Masters and their mates. He could stand on the balcony, spread his arms, and bathe in the strong winds that flowed from the seas. His skin instinctively reacted to the salty air, as if he still had wings to be dried out by the briny breeze. Now he was nearly as human as Earthlings.
He leaned against the removable railing that lined the War Master’s balcony, leaning over the metal bars and closing his eyes. He could almost imagine flying above the city below, taking to the air over Tampa and releasing his fire into the skies.
But he could not—not ever. And not only because the practice had been forbidden by War Master Jarek after his fight against a dozen hateful Preor sent the city into mass panic.
The sliding glass door rumbled as it was shoved open and a high-pitched giggle reached him a split-second before a tiny body barreled into his legs. He leaned away from the railing and turned his attention to the dragonlet—youngling—clinging to him. Her wide smile and delicate scales, as well as the sparkling eyes, reminded him of her dam—the Ujal principessa.
It wasn’t the principessa but Melissa who quickly chased after the child. “Theresa fa’Vyl-Zeret, how many times…” Melissa stomped into sight. She was a true War Mistress and perfect counterpart to the Preor War Master. Where his superior was well-aged and strong, capable of defending against any attacker, his mate was slight but no less fierce. Together, they’d conquered those Preor warriors.