Ours to LoveA Wicked Lovers novel featuring billionaire brothers
City of Dragons
She rode the air currents easily, her legs sleeked tight against her body, her wings spread wide. On the undulating desert sands below, her rippling shadow showed her as a serpentine creature with batlike wings and a long, finned tail. Tintaglia thrummed deep in her throat, a purr of pleasure in the day. They had hunted at dawn and hunted well. They had made their separate kills, as they always did, and spent the morning in feasting and then sleep. Now, smeared still with the blood and offal of the hunt, the two dragons had another goal in mind.
Ahead and slightly below her, Icefyre was a gleaming black shape. His long body flexed as he shifted his weight to catch and ride the wind. His torso was thicker and heavier than hers, his body longer. Her featherlike scaling glittered a scintillating blue, but he was an even black all over. His long encasement in ice had taken a toll on his body, one that was taking years to heal. His larger wings still had rents in the heavy webbing between the finger ribs. The smaller injuries to his body were long gone, but the tears his wings would knit more slowly, and the welted scars of their healing would always be visible. Unlike her own azure perfection. Out of the corners of her eyes, Tintaglia admired her glittering wings.
As if he sensed her lack of attention to him, Icefyre banked abruptly and began his circling descent. She knew their destination. Not too far away a distant rocky ridge erupted above the sand. Stunted trees and gray-green brush populated its jagged edges and rough gullies. Just before the brushy ridge was a hidden oasis, in a wide, sandy basin, surrounded by a scatter of trees. The water rose from the depths of the earth to form a wide, still pool. Even in winter, the depression cupped the day’s warmth. They would spend their early afternoon soaking in the sun-warmed waters of the oasis to cleanse the blood from their hides and then rolling luxuriantly in the rough sand to polish their scales. They knew the spot well. They varied their hunting grounds over a wide range, but every ten days or so, Icefyre led them back here. He claimed it was a place he remembered from his distant youth.
Once, there had been a colony of Elderlings here that had tended the visiting dragons. Of their white stone buildings and carefully nurtured vineyards, nothing remained. The encroaching desert had devoured their settlement, but the oasis remained. Tintaglia would have preferred to fly much farther south, to the red sand deserts where winter never came, but Icefyre had refused. She, suspecting that he lacked the stamina for such a flight, had thought, more than once, of leaving him and going alone. But the terrible isolation of her long imprisonment in her cocoon had left its mark on her.
From the book CITY OF DRAGONS: Volume Three of the Rain Wilds Chronicles by Robin Hobb. Copyright C 2012 by Robin Hobb. Reprinted by permission of Harper Voyager, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
The humans were agitated. Sintara sensed their darting, stinging thoughts, as annoying as a swarm of biting insects. The dragon wondered how humans had ever managed to survive when they could not keep their thoughts to themselves. The irony was that despite spraying out every fancy that passed through their small minds, they didn’t have the strength of intellect to sense what their fellows were thinking. They tottered through their brief lives, misunderstanding one another and almost every other creature in the world. It had shocked her the first time she realized that the only way they could communicate with one another was to make noises with their mouths and then to guess what the other human meant by the noises it made
in response. “Talking” they called it. For a moment, she stopped blocking the barrage of squeaking and tried to determine what had agitated the dragon keepers today. As usual, there was no coherence to their concerns. Several were worried about the copper dragon who had fallen ill. It was not as if they could do much about it; she wondered why they were flapping about it instead of tending to their duties for the other dragons. She was hungry, and no one had brought her anything today, not even a fish.
She strolled listlessly down the riverbank. There was little to see here, only a strip of gravel and mud, reeds and a few scrawny saplings. Thin sunlight touched her back but gave small warmth. No game of any size lived here. There might be fish in the river, but the effort of catching one was scarcely worth the small pleasure of eating it. Now, if someone else brought it to her . . .
She thought about summoning Thymara and insisting the girl
go hunting for her. From what she had overheard from the keepers,
they’d remain on this forsaken strip of beach until the copper dragon either recovered or died. She considered that for a moment. If the copper died, that would make a substantial meal for whichever dragon got there first. And that, she decided bitterly, would be Mercor. The gold dragon was keeping watch. She sensed that he suspected some danger to the copper, but he was guarding his thoughts now, not letting dragons or keepers know what he was thinking. That alone made her feel wary.
She would have asked him outright what danger he feared if
she hadn’t been so angry at him. With no provocation at all, he
had given her true name to the keepers. Not just to Thymara
and Alise, her own keepers. That would have been bad enough.
But no, he had trumpeted her true name out as if it were his
to share. That he and most of the other dragons had chosen to
share their true names with their keepers meant nothing to her;
if they wanted to be foolishly trusting, it was up to them.
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