Marelo studies water dragons. Bandor studies her heart.
Driven to succeed, Marelo focuses on her studies. She doesn’t have time for males claiming her as a mate. She came here to study the dragon’s ancestral home. She will find the evidence she needs while avoiding all males especially Bandor who makes her heart rush.
Bandor takes one look at Marelo and knows she’s his mate. Her haughty demeaner doesn’t put him off. She’s his mate, he’ll do anything to win her. But he has secrets only his mate can know. Can he convince her to be his mate or will it take something more?
She knelt and picked something up. “What in the world,” he muttered as he strode to her. He planned to admonish her. Nothing was allowed to be taken from the beach. He stopped, took a deep breath. Each time they disagreed, it was due to assumptions. He watched as she turned something over in her hands. She caressed it like a cherished item. She didn’t notice when he stood next to her so he squatted. “What have you found?”
Not taking her eyes off the object in her hands, she said, “I think it’s a tanen scale from a water dragon. I’ve only ever seen sketches and pictures of them.”
He glanced at her hands, watched their movement, and imagined them caressing him with such care. “It is,” he said softly. “I find these here often.”
Now her green eyes burned into him. “What do you mean you find them here often,” she demanded.
“I pick them up so we don’t get a flood of dragon hunters – either the kind who want to spot them or the kind who want them as a prize,” he said taking it from her and sliding it into his pack. “This one looks like it’s from an old dragon. It comes from under the front fins.”
“How do you know about water dragons,” she asked.
“I grew up on the ocean,” he said standing. His eyes tracked along the beach and he saw several more glittering in the sun. He walked to the next one.
“Wait,” she said. “You’re not allowed to remove anything from the beach. I was given specific instruction.”
“This is more important than that rule,” he said handing her a smaller one. “You see people visit and take sand, stones, shells, and more. Some try to take other things but this is our beach, meant to be a place to walk and see the ocean, not interact with it.”
“Because it’s so treacherous,” Marelo said.
“Yes,” Bandor said bending for the next scale. “If one person finds a dragon scale of any kind here, this whole beach will be ruined. The environmental haven we’ve made will be destroyed and we’ll lose a precious part of our world.”
“And people will know water dragons exist,” Marelo said.
“They already know,” Bandor said. “They don’t need proof shoved in their face.”
“You’re afraid,” she rolled her eyes. “The dragons will protect themselves.”
“The dragons don’t want to be disturbed,” Bandor said.
“I’ve heard those myths,” Marelo said. “The ones where the dragons have retreated from us because of all the war and violence. Because we wouldn’t listen to their wisdom.”
“Then you know why we cannot have these few scales found,” Bandor said. He picked up the last of them, held them in his outstretched hands as they glittered in the sun.
“They’re stunning,” Marelo said. “Do you know how much they go for on the black market?”
“I do not care,” Bandor said, pulling them close and pushing them into his bag.
“Do your squad members know you pick them up,” she asked.
“Who do you think does it when I’m not here,” Bandor said.
“I’m keeping this one,” she said. “I want to have it tested. It will help in my studies.”
“People know where you are studying,” he said. “If you turn up with a scale, they will know you got it here.”
“I’m keeping this. You’ll have to trust my discretion,” Marelo said.
“Why do you want to prove this,” Bandor asked.
Marelo turned towards the ocean. Her chin lifted in defiance. Her jaw tightened.
USA Today Bestseller Author Eileen Troemel writes action packed and emotionally powerful fantasy, scifi, romance. She’s versatile and writes in many genres. She’ll try almost any genre if it means she can tell a good story. In addition to her writing, she loves to read, crochet, and research genealogy. Her best days are spent with her family of three adult daughters and her husband or writing.
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