Saturday, August 02, 2008

EXCERPT: Dragon's Deal by Willa Okati

Dragon's Deal
by Willa Okaticover art by ReneƩ George
ISBN (13): 978-1-59596-803-6
Genre(s): Futuristic, Paranormal
Theme(s): Elves, Dragons & Magical Creatures, Men and Women in Uniform, Gay and Lesbian
Series: Dragons
Length: Novella

All rights reserved.

Copyright ©2008 Willa Okati

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Sian curled his sinuous body tighter, nearly forming a ball, peeking warily out from behind the rocky outcrop he’d chosen to nap on the night before. In the dark, he had thought the nearby beach was as deserted as the rest of the coastline. He had not spied the shack or the raised gardens, the drying racks full of small silver fish, or the fascinatingly bizarre raised gardening beds trailing messy sprawls of seaweed and kelp.
A proper dragon, one worthy of his scales, would have unfurled his wings and flown away the second he realized this beach was inhabited. Not out of fear, but in haste to make a report. At last, a human with enough common sense to leave the cities and find a good place to start fresh!
The only trouble with that goal, unfortunately, was that Sian had been lost at sea -- so to speak -- for seventeen days so far, and had not as yet found his way back to the dragon lands. He knew for certain now that they were keeping him out on purpose. The old generals had said he was reckless, clumsy, too curious for his own good, and risky to have along on a campaign and that he needed to be taught his place in the world -- whatever that was supposed to mean. Bah!
Sian angrily lashed the wave-washed rock with the golden tip of his tail. If they no longer wanted him, then be it on their own heads. He would no longer choose to have any part of them either.
Besides, he obviously had better things to do. Human-watching was never dull, and this human in particular fascinated Sian. Clever, if the set-up on the beach was anything to go by, hard-working, given the sinewy-lean shape of the man, and, judging by the smile lines in his face and the way he laughed instead of cursing at the seagulls swarming him, good-natured down to the core.
Kind, yes. And… appealing. Sian rested his muzzle on the rock and exhaled, shimmers of heat in his breath. He had, from time to rare time, heard of dragons taking humans as pets, even as lovers. He’d fallen asleep to those old stories when he was a dragonlet.
But as he grew, Sian found that he wondered why, in the name of the Dragon Lords, anyone would want a human. If you asked him, they were small, fragile, cantankerous, and funny-looking, and he had not yet seen reason to change his opinions.
This man, though… he struck Sian as different. Maybe it was that he had not seen or spoken to anyone else in seventeen long days, or just that he looked like the sort who might always have a kind word even for an awkward misfit, and Sian was lonely.
Watching him, Sian thought that now he could understand why some dragons thought humans made good lovers. The way the muscles flexed under this man’s skin, the kindness in his face, the competence in his hands… even if Sian hadn’t been desperate for company, he’d have wanted to get to know this human better. More, Sian caught faint wisps of his scent that when the wind blew in the right direction, heating his blood and making him hungry for the man’s touch.
Sian fidgeted, aching to fly from the rock to the beach, yearning for the company, but… would this man have any of that promised goodwill for a dragon? Sian huffed in thought. Most of the humans he had observed feared the dragon kind and ran screaming when they noticed their watchers. Out here with no other men or women for miles and miles, who knew how the man on the beach would react to a sudden invasion?
What to do, what to do…
A wave crashed over Sian’s back, not powerful enough to knock him off the rock -- he was no small dragon -- but startling him into loosing a yelp and a loud curse.
He hid, fast, knowing the human would have heard that, and swore silently and viciously. That had torn it. The human would surely know he was not alone now.
“Hello?” the human called. He sounded alarmed. “Is someone out there? Are you hurt?”
Why would he think that? It was only a wave -- oh! Sian remembered now. Humans used to go to sea in boats, and more often than not in the older days, those boats wrecked, leaving the survivors who were strong enough to swim to wash up on the beach.
It would, truly, be risky. Sian had never changed shape for more than a few minutes, and that on a dare, but by the heavens, he could not stand being alone for another second, and the man on the beach smelled incredible.
“Yes!” he called back, shifting fluidly from his lengthy, snakelike dragon’s shape to that of a man’s, seeming alarmingly small, pink and fragile to himself, though still bigger than the human on the beach. “My boat broke up on the rocks!” He flung himself into the waves and started swimming for shore. After a few strokes, he remembered the next part and obediently shouted, “Help! Help!”
An overcurious fish swam past Sian’s groin. Hmm. He hoped the human wouldn’t mind his being naked. The fish bit Sian’s human-shaped leg far, far too close to his groin for Sian’s liking. Sian shouted, swallowed bitter seawater, and started to cough, spasming in the waves. His panic was genuine this time when he bellowed, “Help!”

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