A Courtship of Dragons: Part 20

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A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance (it could be short, it could be a novella, it could be any size, I have no idea) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

In an effort to finally push this story through to the end, I’ve been editing and tidying up some of the older sections. Which means part of this update may seem like a continuity error (Mastekh’s gift), but actually isn’t. At least, not in the version I have. It might not even be obvious, but to the people who do notice these things, I am aware and have already tweaked it. Even if I’m too lazy to update the online version just yet ;D

And with that out of the way, following on from the shortest update last week, now have the longest. #hugsforMastekh


20
Courage

6th Storm

DEEP BREATH IN, deep breath out. I can do this. I can do this. Mastekh tried to focus his thoughts in a positive direction, but his hands were shaking and he felt all liquid inside.

He was nervous.

Some might say that wasn’t unusual, but Mastekh knew better. He had a nervy disposition and was often anxious, but full nervousness was a whole other step into the jitters. He was twitchy, jumping at every sound – and considering the thundering storm currently crashing down on top of Highstrike, there was a lot of sound – chewing at his lip, pacing the floor.

All because of the best flight of his life.

Oh, how wonderful it had been to soar through the raindrops with Estenarven by his side. His tail had fluttered accidentally against the Boulderforce’s side at one point, blown by the swirling wind. Before Mastekh could apologise for the shocking breech of etiquette, Estenarven’s tail had returned the caress. Their tails had twined. Only for a moment, only for a breath but, by the Family, Mastekh’s heart had pounded.

A wing brush, a mid-air nuzzle from Estenarven as he’d drifted beneath Mastekh’s chest.

Small touches, barely discernable to any watching eyes. Tame, perhaps. But they had been everything to Mastekh. Everything.

He hoarded the memories inside his chest and squeezed himself now, hugging them close. Such a gift, such a wonderful gift.

Which reminded him that it was his turn again.

“Oh, oh, oh,” he puffed to himself, trying to remember to breathe, breathe, breathe. Steady, slow, deep. Every so often he forgot and snatched a shallow gasp, leaving him light-headed enough to stop pacing and wait for the moment to pass.

He was so nervous.

“S-s-stop it,” he ordered himself, but he couldn’t help it. The third gift was important. He had to get it right.

Something meaningful to Estenarven. Something meaningful… He knew what he wanted to do, had it all planned, but that was the easy part. Now he had to do it. And Estenarven’s gift to him had been so perfect, Mastekh wasn’t at all sure his own could compare.

“No.” He shook his head, aware of a small scattering of droplets flying from his clammy skin to splatter on the table. He needed to take hold of himself. These nerves would not do. At this rate he would fret himself into a panic and Estenarven wouldn’t get his third gift and the courtship would be over and Mastekh would be alone again and no one else would ever even think of courting him so he would be outcast and adrift his whole life, the sad, pathetic, soggy Rainstorm that other dragons laughed at and talked about in low voices and he wouldn’t be able to blame them because it would have been his own fault all because he fretted himself into a fever over his turn to try and give a gift of meaning to the most wonderful dragon he had ever met.

Black spots appeared in his vision and Mastekh breathed in on a giant gasp, aware that panic had sprung upon him and he was swaying where he stood.

This would not do.

Taking himself firmly to task, he scolded his own stupidity inside his head and stomped across the room, forcing himself to sit down. The carpet squelched beneath his feet, but he refused to feel bad about it. He’d been dripping all day, going over and over his plans, preparing for the big moment.

It was almost here and it would do no one any good if Estenarven returned to find Mastekh passed out in a puddle.

So he sat down, clasped his hands firmly on his rigid knees and stared at the blotchy green patches on his grey-blue skin. He’d dispelled so much water today it was a wonder he could still stand. At the very least he must have shrunk a good four inches, and there was no knowing how much weight he had shed. At this rate his third gift was going to be to drip out of existence and, as shocking as it often was to Mastekh, that didn’t seem to be what Estenarven wanted.

He wanted Mastekh’s company, his presence, his touch. Swirling himself down the nearest plughole would be a poor repayment for Estenarven’s thoughtful courtship.

“All r-r-right,” he sighed, flexing his hands and placing them palm-down against his thighs. “G-g-good.” He could breathe again. His heartbeat was only slightly faster than normal and his skin felt only slightly moist.

I can do this. I can do this. It was what Estenarven wanted, the least he deserved. Mastekh could do that.

A rattle at the door as the knob turned. Then Estenarven was there.

“Well, what a merry dance that was,” the Boulderforce grumbled, stomping into the room and slamming the door behind him. “A whole morning wasted. I’ve been all over this wretched crag today, searching for a special set of flowers and herbs on behalf of the ambassador, and when I finally track down something that might just pass muster, I go back and find Captain Wellswen had the special soap in her trunk all along. What a waste of time!”

He slumped onto the stone couch opposite Mastekh with a weary grunt and collapsed flat on his back, eyes closed. “Humans.”

Mastekh dug his claws into his thighs, unsure quite how he was supposed to react. As a favour to him, the Riders had kept Estenarven occupied all morning. While he was grateful to them for that, he hadn’t expected them to return his Pebble in a grump. That had definitely not been part of Mastekh’s plans.

A dark eye opened, pinning him in place. “How’s your morning been, Puddle? Better than mine, I trust.”

Since Mastekh had spent all of it fretting and most of it pacing in anticipation of this moment, he could only nod. Once again his throat had tightened up, leaving speech impossible.

Estenarven didn’t seem to mind, just closed his eye again and arched his back in a lazy stretch. “Good.”

Staring at the Boulderforce sprawled out opposite him, all power and confidence, Mastekh felt his resolve crumble. This was a stupid idea. What kind of a gift was this to offer to a dragon so fine as that?

Estenarven’s eyes slitted open, a black glint amongst the shadows of his face, and he stretched again, slowly, languidly, raising his arms to fold his hands beneath his head. The broad sleeves of his slate grey robe slid down, revealing the taut muscles bulging beneath the skin. Another arch of his back had the top half of his robe parting to reveal the broad expanse of his chest.

Mastekh stared at the display – and it certainly was a display intended for his benefit if the smug tilt of Estenarven’s lips was anything to judge by – and swallowed hard. Sibling Water, but if this was his fourth gift come early, he wasn’t about to object.

“Did you know the Tempestfurys have a hot house?” Estenarven asked, his voice a deeply contented rumble. “They grow roses.”

“N-no, I d-d-didn’t,” Mastekh mumbled, still staring at Estenarven’s chest, though he filed away the interesting titbit in case he might need it later. “How s-s-strange.”

“It’s Elder Gwyllen’s,” Estenarven said, yawning. “Cultivates her own special varieties. Blue and black and lightning white. Quite impressive.”

“Mm,” Mastekh agreed, though in truth the only thing impressing him at the moment was the magnificence of the dragon in front of him. He balled his hands on his thighs again, claws biting into his own palms. He wanted to touch, he wanted to pet, but by the Family, he didn’t know if he should. Would he be welcome? Would Estenarven mind? He didn’t think so, but he couldn’t bear it if his Pebble rejected him.

A dark eye slid open to stare at him again. “Why are you still sitting over there?” he rumbled, low and deep and inviting. “Come and talk to me.”

Even with the clear invitation, it still took a long moment before Mastekh could force his legs into movement. He felt watery and weak, but he wanted to be closer to Estenarven, so he got up and padded closer.

Every footfall was a squelch and a frown appeared between Estenarven’s brows. “What’s the matter?”

“N-n-nothing,” Mastekh replied, perching on the very edge of the couch, careful not to touch the Boulderforce lounging effortlessly beside him. He was trying so hard to gather his courage, trying so hard to remind himself that Estenarven had started this courtship, had led the way with the gifts and now it was Mastekh’s turn again. It wasn’t the best gift in the world, but Mastekh thought Estenarven would like it.

He hoped he would.

He really, really did.

Because if he didn’t…

Not allowing himself any further time to think, fret, worry or panic, Mastekh leant forward, bending from the waist like a wooden doll and planted his lips on Estenarven’s.

Well, he tried.

Only, he wasn’t very practised at this and Estenarven hadn’t seemed to realise what was happening, so he moved his head, and Mastekh’s nose got in the way and bounced off Estenarven’s cheekbone and now it hurt and he was embarrassed – and somehow ended up on the other side of the room, face flaming, hands dripping, while Estenarven rubbed his cheek and looked confused.

“Puddle?” he asked softly, carefully, as if walking on tremulous ground. “Did you… Did you just kiss me?”

He sounded so baffled, so incredulous that Mastekh wanted to wail at his failure. But his throat was tight again and he couldn’t speak. He just wrapped his arms around himself, shook his head and crouched down, turning himself into a ball of dragon misery.

“S-s-s-s-” He tried to spit out the word, but it wouldn’t come.

“Don’t.” Estenarven was across the room in an instant, sitting behind him and hauling Mastekh onto his lap, into his arms. “Don’t you dare apologise. Never apologise for trying to kiss me, Puddle. Never.”

Lip shaking, Mastekh bit down on it and nodded. He wasn’t sorry for trying – he was sorry for failing. For making a mess of everything. As usual.

“The only thing you should ever be sorry for,” Estenarven murmured, a big warm hand running over Mastekh’s bony back and soothing away his nerves, “is stopping.”

Relaxing into the reassurance of his stroking hand, Mastekh risked a peek. Estenarven was watching him intently, eyes solemn, expression blank.

“I m-m-m-missed,” he said mournfully.

“Only because I’m an idiot and moved. I didn’t realise.”

Well, why should he have? It’s not like Mastekh had ever tried to kiss him before. Their entire relationship until this moment had been instigated by Estenarven. Even back at their first meeting, Estenarven had spoken first. He always spoke first. He looked for Mastekh, he touched him, he kissed him. Always. Estenarven was a leader. He had confidence, finesse.

Courage.

Mastekh pressed against the warm, soothing hand on his back and tried to steal a bit of that for himself. Loosening the clasp of his arms around his knees, he straightened and turned towards the Boulderforce whose lap he was seated on.

He swallowed hard over the lump in his throat and reached out, slowly, carefully, saw Estenarven’s neck move on a swallow of his own.

Was it possible? Could his Pebble be nervous too?

Mastekh didn’t think about it too deeply, he didn’t think about anything. He placed his hand on the solid line of Estenarven’s jaw and leant forward again. Still wooden, still awkward, but he moved closer nevertheless.

Estenarven gasped in anticipation and – at the last moment – tilted his head ever so slightly. There were no bashed noses or cheekbones this time, just a slow, incremental, creeping closeness and the warm brush of air across his mouth. Mastekh licked his lips, so close, so very close, and flicked a glance towards Estenarven’s eyes.

They were closed, his eyelashes trembling as the Boulderforce held still, so very still. Waiting. Patient. He’d always been patient with Mastekh, had never rushed him. Not when he was speaking, and not in this. He would never rush him, and if, even now, Mastekh pulled away, fled once again from this gift Estenarven was offering, he would remain patient. He would still wait.

The knowledge settled deep inside Mastekh’s watery heart and gave him the final push to close the last, tiny gap.

He laid his lips upon Estenarven’s, light at first, just a whisper, just a brush. Then again, to take a taste, to savour, to learn.

Estenarven breathed in deep and his lips parted, allowing Mastekh inside for the first time. And he was in control for once, he was leading. Estenarven was an eager partner, but he only followed, only reacted. It was Mastekh’s move, Mastekh’s kiss, Mastekh’s gift.

To both of them.

He cupped his hands around the back of Estenarven’s head and hitched himself closer to the Boulderforce’s chest, revelling in the warm, secure weight of Estenarven’s arms closing around his waist, pulling him closer, holding him tight.

The mouth beneath his widened in a smile and he was soon grinning back, the pair of them laughing even as they kissed on and on and on. Until breathlessness threatened them both and they hugged each other tight, giggling like fools.

“Oh, Puddle, my Puddle,” Estenarven chuckled, rocking them both side to side. “I never dreamed…”

But Mastekh had found his confidence now and wanted to make the most of it while it lasted, so he seized Estenarven’s jaw again and shifted to align them just right. “H-happy third g-g-gift,” he murmured, before falling into their kisses once more.


More next week.

Take care, my lovelies.

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Dragongift: Chapter 3, Part 1

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First time reading? Catch up with everything on the Wingborn page.
There’s also a frequently updated Character List to help keep track of everyone.

~ Previous Chapter ~

Saddle up, Riders, it’s time to fly.


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Dragongift: Chapter 2, Part 3

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First time reading? Catch up with everything on the Wingborn page.
There’s also a frequently updated Character List to help keep track of everyone.

~ Previous Chapter ~

Getting ready to go – and Cue’s rebellion deepens… Poor Stirla.


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A Courtship of Dragons: Part 19

courtship-banner

A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance (it could be short, it could be a novella, it could be any size, I have no idea) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

Only a short update this week, the shortest so far, but it’s one of my favourites.

But be warned – the cuteness, it burns!


19
Rainstorm

ESTENARVEN WASN’T PARTICULARLY fond of rain. At least, he never had been before. It was cold and clammy and unpleasant on human skin, and in flight it snuck into all the secret places between his scales, reminding him of all the ways water could break down rock if given long enough to work.

But that was before.

Before Mastekh, before this courtship, before attraction and affection and love.

And flight.

It felt like they spent an eternity in the cold, damp, bitter air of the gathering dusk, weaving between raindrops, wingtips touching, tails brushing. The storm stayed away, along with the Tempestfurys and it felt like they had the entire sky to themselves.

Estenarven’s third gift to his Puddle wasn’t anything that anyone could pin down. It wasn’t anything that could be picked up, put in the pocket and carried around. It couldn’t be touched, it couldn’t be tasted, it couldn’t even be heard. It was no object that could be kept or admired or shown off to others.

But it could be remembered – and treasured.

His third gift was a rainstorm for his Rainstorm, shared together in flight.

And Estenarven would never think of rain in the same way again.


<3

Take care, my lovelies.

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Rift Riders Goes Up Tomorrow

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What’s that? A price increase? We’d better get out of this tinner’s trench and buy it then!

Because this weekend was busier than expected and I forgot to post a reminder, I’m extending the Rift Riders offer for 24 hours.

So if you were planning to grab hold of the second Wingborn adventure for it’s tiny introductory price, now is your last chance to do it.

Just click the link for all the details. And remember, it’s only available until the 28th.

Merry Monday, everyone!

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Dragongift: Chapter 2, Part 2

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First time reading? Catch up with everything on the Wingborn page.
There’s also a frequently updated Character List to help keep track of everyone.

~ Previous Chapter ~

Sorry this is a wee bit late, I’ve been out enjoying the spring sunshine (not so much the wind, but it wouldn’t be Dartmoor without a brisk breeze).

Anyway… Derry to the rescue!


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Dragongift: Chapter 2, Part 1

Dragongift Banner

First time reading? Catch up with everything on the Wingborn page.
There’s also a frequently updated Character List to help keep track of everyone.

~ Previous Chapter ~

After everything that’s happened, it seems that some things will always remain the same.


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A Courtship of Dragons: Part 18

courtship-banner

A Courtship of Dragons is a M/M Romance (it could be short, it could be a novella, it could be any size, I have no idea) told in short scenes, between two young dragons, Estenarven kin Boulderforce Clan Stoneheart and Mastekh kin Rainstorm Clan Flowflight. It’s pure fluff ‘n’ stuff and not intended to be anything other than that.

|| First Part || All Parts || Last Part ||

In which there is cleaning – and a tiny bit of pouting.


18
Pout

SURELY, IT HAD to be love. Mastekh couldn’t think what else could possibly leave him feeling happy and content as he worked alongside Estenarven, sweeping floors, scrubbing walls, swabbing floors and sweeping all over again. It wasn’t difficult work, but it was quite tiresome, yet Mastekh found himself humming through most of it. He even laughed a time or two, as Estenarven told him what the Riders were up to outside the window, offered up the juiciest bits of crew gossip and even whistled off-key as a counterpoint to Mastekh’s hums.

It wasn’t even as if the work was particularly satisfying, since the cabin was small and cramped and made mostly of dark wood, leaving it looking pretty much the same when they finished as when they started. The windows did gleam quite nicely, but Mastekh couldn’t claim any responsibility for that.

And yet, when the light outside the window began to dim, Mastekh still felt as if he’d had a good day.

“Th-there,” he sighed, sweeping the last of the dirt and dust into the pan, ready to be carried up the ladder and tossed over the side of the deck. “All d-d-done.”

“Perfect,” Estenarven agreed, wiping his cloth over the door handle to provide one last flourish. “I spoke to First Mate Galha earlier. She says she’ll bring some crew in tomorrow to shift the walls about. It won’t give us much space, but there’s some extra crawl space behind here we’re not using.” He knocked on the outer wall with his knuckles. “I doubt I’ll be able to stand up in most of it, but I don’t need to while I’m sleeping.”

Mastekh felt his face warm at the thought of sharing such a tiny space with the big Boulderforce, but he didn’t protest. He wanted to share a room with Estenarven, even if they could do nothing more than sleep in it. As long as they were together. “Sounds g-g-good,” he mumbled, wishing he could be more sophisticated or seductive or knew the words to make everything sound right.

Estenarven didn’t seem to mind. Smiling, he curled a finger beneath Mastekh’s chin and tilted his face upwards. “A space of our own,” he murmured, voice a low, seductive rumble. “I can’t wait.” He brushed his lips ever so gently across Mastekh’s mouth, the tiny kiss sending heat washing right down to his toes.

Mastekh puffed out a tiny sigh, lips parting in search of more, but Estenarven had already pulled away.

“Ready to go?” he asked, winking.

No. Mastekh was ready for more kisses right here in this empty room. He was ready to hear more about the space they were going to share. He was ready for anything, as long as it didn’t involve moving from this spot – nor included Estenarven moving either.

But Estenarven was already gathering up their buckets of dirty water and pans of dust and opening the door. Leaving Mastekh to swallow his disappointment and trail after him in a way that was becoming all too familiar.

Dragging his feet and indulging himself in a tiny bout of petulance, Mastekh allowed Estenarven to pull ahead as he returned their cleaning tools to the galley while the Boulderforce climbed the ladder to get rid of the dust and dirty water outside. Then he gave himself a stern talking to as he climbed the ladder to the top deck in search of his fellow aide.

Estenarven was gone.

Frowning, Mastekh looked all around the deck, but beyond the usual mess of ropes and chains and the occasional skysailor on watch, there wasn’t a single sign of the tall Boulderforce. Mastekh’s frown deepened. Yes, he’d taken a little extra time to get himself up on deck, but it hadn’t been that long, had it? Certainly not long enough for Estenarven to grow bored of waiting and set off without him.

A loud burst of laughter spun him around and he flinched inwardly. Oh, of course. Why would Estenarven bother waiting around for a petulant Rainstorm when there were far more interesting people to talk to?

Feeling dread weighing his shoulders down, Mastekh slunk towards the gangplank, prepared for the sight of Lieutenants Anhardyne and Vish to be flirting with Estenarven again. Possibly even hanging all over him. Mastekh knew he didn’t have any right to feel jealous, he knew there wasn’t much going on between the trio, but it still hurt. Mostly because Mastekh could never match up and it made him feel small and petty and uncertain and insecure.

Another burst of laughter made him twitch, but he squared his shoulders and strode up to the gangplank, ready for whatever would meet his eyes.

“Safe flight!” Anhardyne shouted, charging up the gangplank and almost colliding with Mastekh at the top. “Oh, sorry, Puddle, I almost splashed straight through you.” Chortling at her own joke, she patted him on the arm and hurried away across the deck.

Not that Mastekh was paying her any attention – his eyes were fixed on the sight before him.

Riders surrounded Estenarven, just as he feared, but not in a flirtatious way. No one was sitting in his lap, trying to steal kisses or flirting for his attention. They weren’t even really talking to him, except Lieutenant Nera who was smiling at something Estenarven muttered, a low rumble that turned Mastekh’s knees to jelly as he stumbled his way to the bottom of the plank.

Then he looked up. Up, up, up into the glinting, laughing eyes of the dragon laid out before him. There was a reason why Estenarven wasn’t on the Skylark anymore – he wouldn’t be able to fit. Stretched out in full dragon shape, Estenarven was huge and magnificent and the finest specimen of kin Boulderforce that Mastekh had ever seen.

Winking a large black eye at Nera, Estenarven lowered his great head and nuzzled Mastekh. The touch, even a gentle one, was enough to make him stagger, but a firm grip on Estenarven’s snout prevented him from falling over.

“Ready to go?” Estenarven asked again, but this time Mastekh felt very differently about his answer.

It might not have been a kiss, but it was better than heading straight back to Elder Blazeborn’s suite in the Tempestfury towers.

This was flight. Together.

“Y-y-yes, p-please,” Mastekh bubbled, hugging Estenarven’s snout and pressing his cheek to cool grey scales.

Rumbling a chuckle, Estenarven nudged him away. “Then get your wings on, Puddle. It’s time to rejoin the rainstorm.”


More next week.

Take care, my lovelies!

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Dragongift Character List

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Because there are a lot of characters in this book, in a variety of locations, I’m providing this list to help keep track of everyone. It contains all the named characters in alphabetical order and will be updated as I go. It’s only a brief summary of each person, so if there’s more you’d like to see/know, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

As always, this contains spoilers for Rift Riders, so if you haven’t read that, don’t look at this. Don’t even glance! Heed the warning!! You have been warned!!!! Warning! Warning! etc ;D


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Rift Riders is Out!

Rift Rider Cover 8On a world cursed to be covered in clouds, protected by the elite Rift Riders who fly on the backs of giant eagle miryhls, Lady Mhysra Kilpapan and her friends are making history. Women are now firmly back within the Rider fold and the future looks bright.

But even though Mhysra and her Wingborn Cumulo have survived their first year as students, there’s more to becoming a Rift Rider than lessons and training. Especially when trouble is brewing in the Wrathlen and the kaz-naghkt are looking for revenge.

Return to the Overworld for the next exciting Wingborn adventure, where strength, loyalty, honour and friendship are about to tested to their limits – and beyond.


Now available at all retailers!

Smashwords || B&N || iBooks || Kobo
Amazon: US || UK || AUS || CAN || DE

The first three sample chapters can be found on the Wingborn serial page.


**SPECIAL OFFER!**

Download Rift Riders for the knockdown price of .99 for one more week only.

This offer ends on Monday 27th March, after which it will increase to 2.99.

Regional prices may vary, but it will be at the lowest I can set it without actually giving it away.


And when you’ve finished reading that, come back and join in the Dragongift serial.

Happy reading!

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