King Naron knows it’s wrong to trick the handsome duke, but the temptation to test Tor for compatibility is too much to resist. Out of all the candidates Naron knows which sexy lord he wants warming his bed.
High Duke Torrance Zelan took another drink of his hot, bitter coffee and thought moodily over his trip to the dragon world. Some days there wasn’t enough caffeine in the universe to help wake a man up. After visiting his cousin Joriah for his mating ceremony earlier, he now had to meet with the king of the southern provinces to discuss mining rights. The high king, Tor’s uncle, wanted access to the rare minerals only found in this part of the galaxy, many of which were necessary components for warp drive processors. As Tor had a personal connection with a dragon, his uncle thought he would make the perfect representative.
Tor was withholding his opinion until he met the southern king. Larien would’ve loved this trip. Dear gentle Larien, with his hard body and sweet voice, had dreamed of visiting a world where he could watch dragons fly. They never had the chance. Damn, Tor missed him.
“You would’ve loved this trip, baby,” Tor whispered.
Swallowing the lump in his throat, Tor held back his tears. In times like these, he wished he’d followed his lover into the afterlife instead of lingering on. Losing Larien had hit him like a fist to the stomach.
Only his family kept his feet firmly grounded from leaving this plane for the next. He couldn’t leave his children behind. Although his broken heart remained tattered and bruised, he loved them enough to live. The fact he couldn’t stay with them physically didn’t take away from his caring. His children knew they were wanted by both of their parents even though they weren’t together.
Tor sighed. Pressing his face into his hands, he discreetly wiped away the moisture he felt leak from his eyes despite his best efforts. The cold glass of the window cooled his heated skin as he released another sigh. Even though he couldn’t see the star field outside the window, he knew it was still there.
Dragon-bonded as a child, Tor’s vision relied solely on what the dragon allowed him to view. Subsequently, his ability to see flashed in and out like a poor intergalactic transmission. Sometimes it was excruciatingly clear, but normally, it was complete blackness only broken by the brilliant sparkle of stars. When the dragon Baroy flew through the cosmos at night, Tor saw everything the creature saw. With his eyes always locked with the dragon’s in space, he was blind to the everyday world around him. Some days he wished he’d never touched the baby dragon when he was a young boy.
“Did you say something, my lord?”
“Nothing important, Pietro. I was thinking of how Larien would’ve loved visiting the dragons.”
The elderly man grunted in agreement. “Mr. Jall always dreamed of dragons. He would’ve loved coming on this trip.”
Speechless from the tears clogging his throat, Tor nodded.
Pietro made a soft disapproving sound. “He also would’ve wanted you to move on with your life.”
Tor reluctantly smiled, “Very subtle, Pietro.” He took a sip from his coffee cup and waved the servant away. “You may retire for the night. Thank you.”
He could feel Pietro glaring at him as if the other man could force Tor to see with the sheer power of his stare. Larien had always said Pietro’s frigid gray eyes must have been chipped from polar glaciers in order to achieve their chill. One of the benefits of being mostly blind was that he could ignore icy stares.
“Remember what I said, Master. Mr. Jall lived for your smile. Don’t disappoint his memory by forgetting how to.”
With that parting shot, Tor heard the door close softly.
“You are sad this evening.”
Baroy’s voice echoed through Tor’s head in a soft whisper like a stray word carried on a breeze. The soft buzzing of the space dragon’s voice was both comforting and abrasive. Tor’s life had changed forever when he’d bonded with a baby space dragon at the tender age of five. As far as he knew, he was the youngest being, human or not, to survive a matching with the rare breed.
“I am missing my mate,” he mentally sent back to the dragon.
“You are missing your lover,” the dragon corrected. “You have yet to meet your mate.”
“That doesn’t make it less painful.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
A burst of bitter laughter ripped through him.
“If it hurts this much to lose a lover, I don’t want a mate.”
“It isn’t a matter of want. It is a matter of fate. You will meet your mate soon. I have foreseen it.”
Chills shivered up and down Tor’s spine.
The dragon was never wrong. The creature was even more accurate than Tor’s daughter, Alexandra, who was a born seer.
“I don’t want a mate,” he repeated. Tor wondered if saying it enough times would make his nebulous mate vanish from his future.
His heart still ached for Larien. Tor wasn’t ready to risk it again.
“All things happen in their own time.”
Great. Just what he needed, more sage sayings from his cryptic dragon. Tor felt Baroy leave his mind.
“I’m surrounded by beings with great parting lines.” Sighing, Tor took another sip of coffee. In times like these, he could almost feel Larien, as if his lover were still beside him. He whispered to the empty room, “I will never forget you, my love.”
He didn’t care what everyone thought a ‘natural’ mourning period was. In his heart, two years were simultaneously a blink in the cosmos and a crawling eternity of sorrow.