Excerpt for The War Dragon's Mate by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Paul Lucas

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Copyright 2017 Paul Lucas

Cover Art by Paul Lucas

On The Cover: Holly and Riven contemplate some fun.

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Holly Gallager stared up at the enormous reptilian monster, who glared back at the two human women. "Password?" he grunted.

Holly's friend Jimena smiled confidently. "Smaug is a pussy."

The large saurian measured over eight feet high, with a heavy musculature that sent his weight soaring over four hundred pounds. He was humanoid in shape, with dark green scales covering his body and an angular reptilian head. A pair of bony bull-like horns sprouted from the brow. Twin holes in the back of his dark tee shirt allowed for the free movement of his enormous bat-like wings, while a similar egress in his jeans accommodated a long tapering tail.

He narrowed black-slitted eyes. "Nice try. But that was last week's password. What's this week's?"

Jimena gulped, shooting a nervous glance at the half dozen people waiting just out of earshot behind the velvet rope just inside the door. "Um... Toothless is awesome?"

The saurian bouncer snorted. "He is. But that's not the password. But eh, at least you were here last week. So for that and twenty each I'll let you in."

The women reached into their purses and reluctantly handed over the bills.

The bouncer smiled through dozens of sharp curving teeth. "Good enough. Enjoy yourselves, ladies. And you may want to wait until the end of the fights tonight to get the web address with next week's password."

They both shuffled past the club's main doorway. Beyond the short entryway corridor, the facility opened up into a large open space bigger than a football field, converted from an old industrial warehouse. The building on the outside still looked akin to an old rusting factory, but its interior had been transformed into a sleek underground nightclub.

A DJ in a corner worked off a ragtag assembly of equipment on a cheap folding table, but no one danced to the beats thrumming out of the various speakers. The music was only pleasant white noise to keep the crowd entertained until the main event started.

A shiny bar outlined in neon lined one wall, with a throng of patrons ordering drinks. Tables and chairs were scattered about the room, but with a line of tiered benches arranged around a fenced-off square around the center of the room. They were intercut on four sides with stairs for easy access. The set-up reminded Holly of the cheap storable seating used in high school auditoriums, except most bench rows sported a narrow shelf in front of the seats for drinks.

Those benches surrounded a large open pit set down below the main floor, about seventy feet square on a side. Dents and rust-colored stains colored all four metal walls.

Jimena poked her shoulder. "I'll run to the bar. What do you want?"

Holly looked around nervously as if she hadn't heard the question. "I still can't believe you talked me into this."

Her dark-haired friend rolled her eyes. Jimena was the only friend Holly still retained from high school, now fifteen years behind them both, and her conservative parents had always given her grief for hanging out with the outspoken latina. "You're the one who wanted to spice up your life with something exciting. These dragon fights are definitely that."

"I never did anything illegal like this before..."

"That's part of the problem. You always play things too safe." Jimena indicated the two brawny guests at the end of the bar, conversing casually to a well-groomed man in a fancy dark suit leaning on the bar. "See those two guys there? I talked to them last week. Off-duty cops. They're talking with the guy who runs the place, Zapruder or something. See? Even the cops know about this place, and no one cares it's technically illegal. There's nothing to worry about. Everyone is here simply to have a good time."

Holly hesitantly nodded, and settled on a seven and seven for a drink. After giving her friend's back a reassuring pat, Jimena shuffled off to the bar.

Holly stood awkwardly alone, looking about, hoping no one from the office was there to recognize her. She mostly worked from home nowadays, but still had to put in a personal appearance at the insurance company who employed her at least once a week. Maybe getting caught at these fights wouldn't cost her job, but it could prove potentially scandalous.

She listened to snippets of conversations around her. Apparently the opponents for the various bouts tonight had been determined by random draw. There was a lot of talk about a dragon named Omyn, the region's current champion, being favored to win tonight's biggest bout. But a few mentioned others named Riven and Lawg as a possible contenders.

"Holly!" called a familiar voice over the low-level din.

Oh no. She did her best not to openly cringe. Not here, not now...

When the owner of the voice slipped into her line of sight, she had no choice but to acknowledge him. "Hello, Edgar," she said flatly to her ex-husband.

"Imagine meeting you here," he said cheerily. Edgar was a tall, balding man, dressed in an ill-fitting suit. He introduced her to the very young-looking blond thing hanging off his arm. "This is Aino. She's from Finland. Aino, this is my ex-wife Holly."

"Hello. Nice to meet you," his companion said in a lilting accent.

"Same," Holly replied, trying to think of something nice to say that didn't sound lame.

Damn it, why was Edgar doing this? He knew she was terrible with on-the-spot social situations.

Or, knowing him, that was probably the exact reason why he did it.

"I never imagined I'd see you somewhere like this," Edgar told her.

"There's a lot about me you never knew," she said cooly.

"How's the house?"

She felt her irritation rise. "No longer yours. Remember?"

Edgar's cool demeanor turned much colder. "Look, I was trying to be nice, with us in public and all. But crap like this is why I left."

"No, I left you because you couldn't stop collecting young tarts like Pokemon cards. What, did you pluck this one right from her junior prom?"

"Oh, so fucking witty. For all the good it ever does you. I guess we can just keep talking through the lawyers, then."

"I much prefer that."

"I'll leave you to whoever you're here with..."

"Jimena," Holly supplied.

"Your best friend. Right." The tone of his voice implied that was the only kind of companion she would ever get. "Come on, Aino. Let's get some good seats."

"Nice meeting you," the young woman said, seeming a bit confused as Edgar pulled her away.

Holly gripped her purse tightly in both hands, hearing the faux-leather scrunch hard under her fingers. She fought against the urge to tear it apart as a substitute for Edgar's throat.

"Hey, was that Edgar?" Jimena asked as she approached with a glass in each hand.

Holly snatched up her drink and drained half of it in one gulp. "I'm definitely going to need more than one of these," she said.


In the late 1970s, the United States tested an esoteric theory about the creation of kugelblitzes. A kugelblitz is a black hole created solely by the concentration of vast amounts of energy into a single tiny pinpoint. Using relatively small but carefully synched atomic weapons in an underground test, the scientists sought to create a short-lived quantum black hole that would, in theory, evaporate away within a few milliseconds.

Instead, in the collapsed crater of ground zero in the smoking aftermath, floated a strange mirrored globe ten feet wide.

It took the scientists and engineers many days of panic, tests, accusations, prayer, scanning, and recalibrating sixty years’ worth of quantum theory to realize that they had accidentally created a stable wormhole. One that led, they soon discovered, to a parallel Earth in another dimension.

They also found that on this new Earth, primates, and therefore humans, had never evolved at all. The world was dominated by a huge genus of creatures that combined many features of mammals and dinosaurs, and had developed a unique if limited shapeshifting ability. The humans were quick to nickname them dragons, and the label stuck.

By the time Holly entered middle school, the humans had learned to create more portals with particle accelerators instead of messy nuclear weapons. Many countries leased this new technology to create portals of their own. Some portals lead to new worlds that were still being explored.

One of these newer worlds turned out to be not so much parallel to the humans' Earth, but to the dragon homeworld that had previously been discovered. A parallel of a parallel dimension, so to speak, the first ever discovered. But whereas the inhabitants of the first dragon world were mostly peaceable and cooperative, the dragons of this new Earth were considerably more warlike and competitive.

There were other subtle differences. These new "war dragons," as humans began calling them, were more humanoid in their base appearance than the naturally quadrupedal alternates. Their shapechanging was more limited, but their biology compensated for that with accelerated cellular regeneration that allowed the healing of wounds three times faster than humans. Their society was also more advanced, with near Renaissance-level technology, compared to the original dragons' Bronze Age tools.

The war dragon kingdoms saw a great many advantages in cooperating with the technologically-advanced alien humans. Both trade and diplomatic relations haltingly sprang up between the two worlds. Over time, that inevitably led to a number of black market interests operating in the shadows of the more legitimate commerce, including an underground fighting circuit on the humans' Earth that featured war dragon gladiators.


"Tear that fucker apart, Omyn!" Holly bellowed, slamming her fists on the small shelf and nearly knocking over her fourth seven-and-seven.

Her yells were drowned out by the crowd's continuous shouts and jeers. Jimena shouted some aside at her, but Holly just nodded absently, not really paying attention. The bloody match in the metal-walled pit below completely mesmerized her.

One opponent was Omyn, the reigning champ of the regional fighting circuit. He stood at a truly monstrous height of eight and a half feet tall. His physique reminded Holly of an oak tree, a solid uncurving mass of thick muscles wrapped in dusky orange scales. Six thick horns radiated back from his face, where a human would have locks of hair. One the horns looked like it had been snapped off. If what she had read of the war dragons' healing factor was true, he would be able to regrow it back in a few weeks.

Omyn roared viciously as he charged at his opponent. Holly could feel the vibrations of the heavy dragon's feet impacting the floor.

Facing him was a blue and gray striped dragon nearly as large, calling himself Rahzor. This one had horny spikes sprouting outward from his forearms, which he had already used to bloody Omyn. He planted himself to meet Omyn's charge.

The two massive alien saurians collided like crashing mountains. The crowd cheered wildly as blood and scales flew. Rhazor had stymied his opponent's attempt to knock him over by jamming his arm spikes into Omyn's shoulder.

It was a blow that would have finished any human fighter. Omyn, however, merely snarled through the pain as he twirled to grab Rahzor's shoulder and knee. With a bellowing roar, he lifted his opponent clear over his head and threw Rhazor against the nearest wall. Holly could feel the impact of it reverberate through her seat. Rhazor crumpled to the ground, leaving behind a blood-spattered dent in the metal wall. He dazedly tried to lift himself back up.

Omyn pounced on his groggy foe, hauling the other dragon up and slamming his fist across the other dragon's jaw again and again. Rhazor finally slumped limply to the floor, unconscious.

Omyn raising his crimson-soaked fists high in triumph, snapping his wings wide dramatically. Cheering chants of his name echoed through the whole immense building.

Holly noticed a few fans on the bottommost row of seats reaching down through the loose barrier fence to just barely touch the smears of Rahzor's blood. Holly found herself a little jealous. "Definitely have to get closer seats next time," she mumbled.

"Definitely!" Jimena said. The crowd's shouting was dying down. As the announcer began his typical post-bout spiel, the two women were able to hear each other again. "Glad to see you actually enjoying yourself."

"Hell yeah!" Holly exulted, taking another sip from her drink. "I should have done this long ago."

"Beats you sitting alone in your apartment moping all the time, eh?"

"I wasn't alone. I have plenty of friends."

"Online. Playing Menagerie of Myths and Aetherkin obsessively. Do you think real friends alternate between calling you a filthy noob and wanting to bang your mother?"

Holly smirked. "You did, that one time I invited you in on a raid."

"And that night we both learned a valuable lesson about mixing Jägermeister and MMO's."

The women snickered. The crowd around them hushed as the last match of the evening was about to start.


The first contender to enter the pit was named Lawg, an eight-foot saurian with emerald-colored scales and a thickly sculpted bodybuilder's physique. He strutted around, preening himself and pumping his fists at the crowd to amp them up.

"He certainly likes to show off," Holly observed.

Jimena snorted. "Maybe that's because Lawg has quite a log there."

Holly saw immediately what she meant. The dragon fighters were all fully nude. Dragons were allowed to be unclothed in public on Earth as much as they wanted. As limited shapeshifters, showing off bodies sculpted by years of conscious effort was considered an important part of their cultural heritage. Some dragon visitors to Earth wore clothes to better fit in with humans, especially if it was part of their job, like the bouncer at the door. But most went about completely starkers.

The sexual organs of most male dragons didn't seem much bigger than a human's, at least in proportion to their size. Looking at them from afar, with only other dragons near them to compare, they hardly seemed remarkable. But since most dragons towered seven to eight feet or more in height, Holly realized that 'in proportion' meant they could measure porn-star huge by human standards.

Lawg's fleshy dangle was by far the largest of any of the dragons she'd seen tonight, topping them all by at least half a foot. Since dragons were limited shapeshifters, that had to be a deliberate choice. It didn't seem too wise to make such a sensitive part so big if one fought naked for a living, but then Lawg obviously ate up the attention from the crowd. Maybe for him, it was all part of the show.

His opponent entered the ring. He was shorter, measuring maybe only a little over seven feet in height, and sported dark indigo scales, like the color of a deep sunset. Highlights of matted violet peppered the stretched skin of his wings. Bony horn-like frills framed his angular facial features. The loudspeaker announced his name as Riven.

Unlike Lawg, Riven didn't seem interested in riling up the crowd. He gave the packed humans around him a few crisp waves in greeting, but otherwise proceeded directly into some warm-up stretches.

Holly narrowed her eyes, studying the newcomer, instantly intrigued. Of course, his lack of showboating could itself be an attention-getting tactic, as it starkly set him apart from his fellow fighters. She noticed a momentary lull in the crowd noise as they, like her, took in the latest contender.

Riven snapped his wings wide, then went through a flurry of quick jabs and blows into the air. His expression was all business. Holly's brows shot up, noticing how clean and crisp his movements looked, how he shifted his body subtly to throw his body weight into each one. She didn't know much about fighting. She had taken two years of karate in middle school, but now two decades later, she barely remembered how to kick without falling down. But she did recognize the same type of bodily efficiency and energy that her karate sensei had.

"Oh yeah, that one's going to win!" she exulted, her words ringing throughout the club. She realized belatedly the crowd was still momentarily quieted.

The black dragon zeroed in on the sound of her voice. For a moment, Holly and Riven locked eyes. Her cheeks brightened in a blush.

Riven smiled warmly and rewarded her with a tight little nod. Holly's blush deepened down to her shoulders.

The people around her laughed as Riven went back to his warm-ups. An older gentleman from the row behind them leaned in. "Good choice," he told Holly. "Riven's really been moving up the ranks in the last few months. Not the biggest monster I've seen here, but he definitely has a lot of skill. Like an old-school prize fighter."

"That's all I needed to hear," Jimena said. She flagged down one of the bookies working the crowd and put a hundred dollars down on Riven to win at three-to-one odds. Holly did the same, by far the most money she'd bet on a fight so far.

The announcer called for the end of betting and had the contenders position themselves on opposite ends of the pit. Holly wondered briefly why the club didn't have a referee or an MC in the pit itself like in normal fights, but then realized that no sane human would want to be locked alone in a small metal arena with two warring dragons.

The fight started.

Lawg's roar echoed off the walls as he charged for Riven. The dark-hued dragon snarled fiercely and held his ground.

With almost dancer-like grace Riven ducked under Lawg's charge. He planted his legs wide and rammed his shoulder up into the bigger dragon's midriff. With a fluid heave, he flipped Lawg over, using his opponent's own momentum against him. The green-scaled dragon tumbled over and slammed hard onto the metal floor.

The crowd cheered wildly at the unexpected maneuver.

Lawg recovered quickly, spinning around on his back and kicking out at Riven's leg's to trip him up. Riven danced backward, barely avoiding it. Lawg slapped the floor powerfully with wings and tail to quickly spring back onto his feet.

The two dragons' long, spittle-flecked growls sounded very much like bears with paws stuck in a meat grinder. Holly tilted her head. "Are they... talking to each other?"

"Yah," the old guy behind them interjected again. "War dragon language. I picked up a bit of it since I started coming to these fights years ago."

The mature gentleman narrowed his eyes. "Let's see, Lawg said something like, 'so you're army trained, eh? Me too. We're just supposed to bash about for the crowd, but if you want a real fight...'"

The old guy laughed. "And then Riven is said something like, 'You talk too much. You plan on beating me with your flapping tongue?'"

Lawg's features screwed up hatefully. Baring curved talons on the end of his fingers, Lawg launched into a series of quick, vicious slashing attacks at Riven's upper body. The dark dragon's own arms became a blur as he struggled to block and counter with blows of his own.

The two opponents pulled apart, both baring various slashes and cuts. Riven had taken the worst of it. Lawg's longer reach had given him the advantage in the exchange.

Riven moved to attack, then feinted right, kicking at Lawg's knee. The emerald saurian faltered at the blow, but didn't go down. He used his long tail to swipe at Riven's own leg joints, nearly tripping up his foe.

The two dragons traded blow after blow, dragging the fight into the longest of the night. Riven used punches and open hand strikes, much like a human fighter, while Lawg favored his claws. After ten minutes in, Lawg sported many bruises while Riven was badly cut up over most of his upper body. Trickles of red freely ran down the dark scales of his muscular arms. Neither seemed concerned about their injuries.

"See? Just like a prize fighter!" the old man exulted. "I didn't think Lawg had similar skills though. He usually just tears into his opponents like a pit bull. Must be he can't do that with this one."

The dragons crashed together again, grappling. Lawg used the spines protruding from his wingtips to bash at his opponent's face while their arms were locked together, a flashy technique that tended to wow the crowd, especially if it connected with a foe's eye.

Holly saw it then: a tiny little smirk on Riven's lips as the wing-talon came only millimeters away from gouging out his socket.

The indigo dragon shifted suddenly, pulling sharply at the bigger saurian instead of pushing against him. Lawg was thrown off balance. Riven swiveled his hips in and executed a classic judo-like throw over his back. Lawg went flying.

The green dragon instinctively spread his wings, arresting his flight. He hit the ground on his back, but perhaps not as hard as he could have. Like before, he was on his feet in a heartbeat.

A heartbeat too late. Riven was already in the midst of a follow-up attack, and delivered a devastating drop kick right to Lawg's jaw as soon as the taller saurian stood up.

Riven snapped his wings wide, using the bounce from the blow and his own wings to spiral down onto his own feet instead of falling to the ground himself. But even more impressively, he kept his momentum going, spiraling around to deliver another solid reverse roundhouse kick to his opponent's face. Bloody spittle flung from Lawg's maw.

Holly caught her breath as the crowd cheered wildly. It was easily the most impressive display of skill she'd seen at these fights so far.

Lawg was heavily staggered after that. A few more solid blows from his opponent and he went down, unconscious.

The audience shouted and whistled and stomped their feet at Riven's victory. But rather than reveling in his win, the smaller dragon simply raised his hand at the crowd, giving them all a curt nod and a tight smile. Then he exited the pit, leaving the clean-up crew to take care of the comatose Lawg.


Holly and Jimena lingered at the underground club for quite a while after the last fight. Jimena promised her companion something special after most of the other patrons left. Holly certainly didn't mind; she was reluctant to have the night end. She hadn't had this much fun since before her divorce.

The pair of friends sat at the bar, having just waved good-bye to the two police officers Jimena had pointed out earlier. In conversing with them, both men had proven handsome, charming, considerate... and, of course, happily married with wives waiting at home. Just her luck. The excitement of the fights and the drinks had made her feel more than a little horny. "M-maybe I was too bitchy to Edgar earlier," she said abruptly as she nursed her fifth seven-and-seven.

Jimena glanced at her in alarm. "What? Where did that come from?"

"Just thinking about the house, and how he used to be in it when I got home. That big, dumb, stupid, lonely house." She sighed, looking about. "I don't see him in the crowd any more. I wonder how his date went..." She began rummaging around in her purse for her phone.

"Holly, no." Jimena snatched the phone away from her friend and placed it back in the handbag. "Remember what happened the last time you two played drunk booty call? You were crying for a week."

"Yeah. But maybe this time..."

"Maybe what? Edgar miraculously becomes less of a toxic asshole? Edgar was a gigantic idiot, cheating on you with one dumb bimbo after another. You deserve so much better."

Holly loosed a long tortured groan. "Okay. Maybe. But its been over a year now. Where am I going to find Mr. 'So Much Better?'"

Jimena smirked as she touched up her lipstick. "Well, I don't know, but I did arrange a Mr. Fun-For-Right-Now, if you'd like. Certainly a hell of a lot better than an Edgar booty call."

"What do you mean?"

From behind the bar, one of the human bouncers stepped out from a door and waved at Jimena. He was a big, broad mountain of a man dressed primly in a suit. Jimena grinned and waved back, then finished her drink in one gulp. "There's Denali," she said, pulling on Holly's arm. "Let's go."

"What's this?"

"Remember how we used to do the after-show groupie thing for that grunge band we followed in college? Well, I arranged for us to do the same kind of thing with the dragon fighters."


"I can't believe I'm doing this," Holly said sheepishly as the girls were led through the backrooms. She wasn't exactly a stranger to casual one-night flings. But all of hers had been back in college, and mostly part of her aforementioned groupie phase.

"You don't have to go through with it," Jimena suggested. "Its no problem if you want to go home. I'll tell you about it tomorrow."

"No, no, I want to give it a try. Its just I don't know too much about dragons. Especially in that way. I mean, is it safe?"

"Oh, yes ma'am," Denali said ahead of them. Denali was native Alaskan from one of the Tlingit tribes near Juneau. He was a huge and muscular, seeming almost as broad as he was tall. Hence his nickname denoting the biggest mountain on the continent. "The dragons usually save their aggression for the ring. We make sure of that. Anyone found abusing a guest like yourself doesn't last long."

"I did this last week when I was here," Jimena confessed. "So I can confirm there's nothing to worry about. The dragons can seem intimidating, but they'll do their best to treat you right. War dragon females tend to be just as big and twice as fierce as they are, so the males learn quickly to treat all females with respect. Plus there's no risk of pregnancy or disease. Their cellular biology is just a little too different from ours for that."

"But they're so big..."

"Not much bigger than a human where it counts," Jimena said with a light laugh. "Besides, I've seen the toys you use. Shouldn't take much for you to get used to it..."

Holly gave her friend a whack on the arm for blurting that out, her cheeks burning. Jimena just giggled.

They stopped outside a large double door with a lot of obvious claw scratches around the metal doorframe. "Okay ladies, I just want to go over the rules again," the bouncer said. "We want everyone to have a good time. Us bringing them females is a privilege. they have been made very aware that if they abuse it--as in you--they will have that taken away, or even expelled from the fights altogether. The syndicate bosses are adamant about that. So let us know if there is any kind of problem."

Denali cricked his neck casually. "That being said, dragons do have their quirks. Once things turn, ah, intimate, they will expect you to act submissively. That's not to say you can't say or do things you think are important, but its best you couch it in a compliant way."

"But you just said the females make sure the males treat them right."

"They do, outside of sex. But once they choose to mate with a male, they turn submissive for him for as long as the intimacy lasts. It's just the way their species' instincts work, ma'am. That reminds me. Which of you two is the oldest?"

"I am, I guess," Holly supplied.

"Do you own any property?"

"A house and a car..."

"More than me," Jimena said. "I just have a lousy apartment."

"Okay" Denali said, turning back to Holly. "You'll be seen as the most desirable, so you'll have first choice of the males."

"Me? But I look so frumpy..."

"You look fine," Jimena corrected.

"Either way, that won't matter so much to them. In their culture, females almost always choose their partners. The more experienced and more successful the female, the more prestige for the male in being chosen by her. Now we'll go through the locker room to their rec room, where you'll be able to choose. So without further ado, ladies..." Denali pushed the door open.

Inside the air was pungent with the musky-spicy scent of male dragons. It was very unlike any human scent, but Holly did not find it unpleasant.

The activity of the dozen or so dragons in various states of cleaning and talking came to a momentary halt as they turned to regard the human women. Many of them made dirty asides amid low chuckles.

The only one who seemed unimpressed was Riven, who was applying salve to his many various cuts. Just because war dragons could heal somewhat faster than humans didn't mean their wounds couldn't still hurt like hell, or need tending to.

To Holly's surprise, right beside Riven was his opponent Lawg, sporting thick bandages and holding a cold pack to the side of his head. They were casually talking together, even chuckling at the occasional joke between them. Lawg suddenly elbowed Riven and pointed toward Jimena and Holly.

Once again, the indigo dragon's eyes were drawn to Holly's. Her heart thumped loudly as she unexpectedly found herself peering into those dark, intelligent orbs.

Lawg nudged Riven's wing with his own. Riven's nostrils flared as he abruptly turned away, a blush turning his facial scales even darker.

Holly didn't know dragons were even capable of blushing.

The bouncer led the women up a set of back stairs to a large game room laden with furniture built to the scale of dragons. Every chair, couch, and table were at least half again the size of their normal human equivalents, and reinforced with metal along their frames. Large trays of heavily-burnt meats, which dragons loved, and a dozen bottles of liquor lined the room's only table. The space sported two tinted windows, one overlooking the main club floor and the other peering into the storeroom-cum-locker room.

Two other human women were already waiting in the room, both looking to be college age and much more like one would expect of a fight club groupie. They snickered like truant schoolgirls as they waved hello.

"No sense beating around the bush," Denali said. "You ladies know what you're here for. You can still back out if you want, no problem. So is everyone still willing? No cold feet?"

Jimena glanced at Holly, but the divorcee said nothing.

"Good," the bouncer said. "Now we'll have you pick your partner before we bring them in, otherwise they'll feel compelled to compete right in front of you. A fight could break out for real, only this time they won't be safely locked up in a pit." He turned toward Holly and gestured casually toward the window overlooking the storeroom-turned-locker-room. "Okay, miss, go ahead and choose first. The only thing we ask is that your partner be one of the bout winners. It helps to motivate the others for future fights."

Holly peered out form behind the tinted glass, amazed she was still going through with this. She wondered how much of her sudden courage had to do with the five seven-and-sevens bubbling around inside of her. "I don't know who to pick, though."

"How about the bluish-black one?" Jimena suggested. "He certainly seems intrigued by you."

Holly's breath caught as she thought back to Riven's soulful eyes. Maybe there was something to that. "Okay," she said. "I pick with Riven."


What surprised Holly most about the dark-hued war dragon was his pronounced accent. "I certainly didn't expect you to speak like a Russian," she said.

"Like a Ukrainian," he corrected. "My homeland is located in that part of the world, so I originally passed through the Kiev wormhole when I came to your Earth. I learned the language there first, especially after I joined their military for a while. I am still learning your English."

"You speak it very well, considering."

"Thank you. There were always many American movies to watch on TV in Kiev, so I had a good source to learn from."

"I noticed Omyn had a similar accent."

"Similar, but different. He is from a rival nation-clan located where your eastern Russia is. As I spent my first few years on your Earth in Kiev, he spent his in Moscow."

After the two of them had been formally introduced, it took Riven less than five minutes to suggest they go for a walk around the now mostly-empty warehouse while the others began plying the liquor pretty heavily. Holly certainly didn't mind. She'd already had plenty to drink and the physical activity was helping settle her occasionally-gurgling stomach.

The other couples had already started to make out when they had left the large rec room. Riven seemed a little uncomfortable at that. "Are you okay?" she asked the big male.

"What do you mean?"

"From what I had been told, I was kind of expecting a dragon male to be, I don't know, all grabby and stuff after a female chose them. Omyn certainly was with Jimena..."

He ruffled his wings, a nervous affectation. "I apologize. It is just I have never mated with a female human before. You are so small. I worry about hurting you."

Holly felt a heated tingle deep within. Did he have any idea how sexy his deep, accented voice sounded was saying something like that? "Why did you allow yourself to be, ah, chosen then?"

He shrugged. "The other fighters and my manager Bogdan all say I focus too much on fighting and training. They said a female would help me relax."

"Kind of the same with me," Holly said. "My friend brought me to the fights tonight so I could loosen up a bit. I bet she thought this would help with that too."

"So you are not a, how do they say, dragon groupie?"

"No, not usually." She sucked on her lip. "Not that I would mind trying it out."

Riven may have proven a bit bashful, but even he recognized an obvious opening like that. He stopped and turned, running the back of his fingers ever so gently over Holly's exposed cheek.

His scales did not feel rough at all, as she feared they might. His skin was much more akin to very soft, well-worn leather, studded with many small bumps. It was quite pleasant, especially coupled with his surprising body warmth.

She rubbed back at his hand in response, kissing suggestively at his palm. She was nowhere near as nervous as she thought she might be. Riven seemed more than pleasant and gentle enough to relax around, and she was quite curious now to see if being a dragon's slut for a few hours was as fun as her drunken mind hoped.

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