Dark grey scales outlined with a soft blue glow. Powerful yet graceful wings. A body so tan, so lean yet so dangerous. His eyes, the eyes of bright blue, so captivating and passionate and yet so cold and empty.
How could something so alluring be so closed off? What was it he searched for? It seemed as if his heart didn’t want oxygen and blood, it ached for something to give him a reason to breathe, a reason to live.
Could it be what he discovered in the forest? She didn’t know. What was his secret, the past that seemed to haunt him? It seemed to her that he wasn’t willing to open the lock to the answer she unknowingly searched for.
A hand caressed her cheek, their fingers remaining, the same hand from before. Olivia stilled, the familiar sparks that fluttered through her cheek, they felt so warm, so calming. A blue glow surrounded him but as quick as he came, he vanished once again.
Olivia cracked her eyes open, thudding strokes of pain in her skull had her squinting in the darkness. Her thoughts were all over the place and her dream slowly faded to the depths of her mind. She felt warm, very warm. Tingles spread through her body, soothing the throbbing of her back and neck. A soft moan of comfort left her parted lips as she turned her head to the warmth, feeling the raw chill disappear off her bare skin. She closed her eyes again and felt something shift, arms were encasing her in a tight, warm embrace; the girl thought she was still dreaming and didn’t think much of it. She savored the feeling, dreading when she would have to wake up and face the chaos of her life twisting upside down.
The warmth shifted again and Olivia squinted slightly. She forced her eyes to crack open and kept them open. She was surprised to see a soft blue light glowing against the shadows of the cave; it looked familiar, like the scales from the dragon shifter she saw in the forest. A little frown creased her forehead and she became more awake. Her body protested with the sudden movement as Olivia moved her head up. A yawn escaped her and tears of tiredness blurred her sight. The darkness and tears worked together against Olivia as she couldn’t properly see what was above her.
The blue glow was shining around something, like rocks outlined in a lake reflecting the light of the moon. Sluggishly, Olivia rubbed her eyes and yawned once more and blinked a few times. She looked up again and it took a few seconds for her to adjust to the darkness before her eyes widened in absolute horror. She would’ve screamed for help, shouted at the top of her lungs, but despite being so overwhelmed with a mythical creature sleeping above her, being so shocked that he even existed, she was more shocked that she wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t afraid of the rumors and scary stories she heard about him, about his kind, the dragon shifters.
It was so strange that as she gazed at him, he was undeniably, handsomely beautiful. His sharp jawline sculpted his face, the definition of his cheekbones were high and sharp with scales that framed them. The way his lips parted as he slept quietly was a somewhat heart clencher, not to mention the way his dark hair was tousled and fanned over his forehead devilishly. Olivia felt so enticed and so enchanted with his existence altogether.
She looked at each scale decorating the sides of his cheeks and temples, how the blue light softly glowed around each one, creating a vibe that spoke of peace. She didn’t know why, but Olivia grew curious and wanted to reach out and touch them. She wanted to know if they would be rough or smooth on her fingertips. She wanted to know if they would be hot or cold when she let her fingers sweep across them.
Olivia breathed out shallowly and looked down, though, with her innocence, Olivia couldn’t help but blush madly at the sight of him shirtless, giving her a full view of his muscular chest that seemed to be the source of her savoured warmth. Embarrassed, she quickly looked away with her cheeks flushing a bright pink. She was glad the air was cold enough to counter with her newfound heat.
Though out of the corner of her eye, she could still see his chest; how hard and precise it appeared, the way each darkened grey scale represented itself like an artwork being portrayed. The delicate blue hue that emitted off each scale was almost transfixing and the innocent girl wondered how he was doing it even in his sleep.
But never in a thousand years would Olivia believe anyone if they told her that they saw a dragon shifter in real life. She wouldn’t believe them no matter what evidence they had. Seeing the dragon shifter before her eyes, alive and breathing, took her breath away. Just watching him slump his head forward slightly to sleep better was so hypnotic. Knowing that he, along with all other fantasy creatures, were real was something so surreal to her that she had a difficult time wrapping her head around the idea of them actually existing.
Ever since she was introduced to the fantasy world she had always written it off as legends and fantasies in her head; she didn’t make them out to be as real as horses and cows. Taking on the information was a lot for Olivia to process and she didn’t know what to do with herself at that point. It might’ve been better if she was gullible enough to believe it, then maybe it wouldn’t be as shocking. Maybe she would be staring at him with amazed, clinging to him like a prized possession.
Olivia cringed and immediately thought otherwise. Without realizing it, Meggan had woken up a few minutes ago and smiled at the thoughtfully shamed Olivia. “Good morning, Olivia,”
Olivia jumped in her place at the sound of Meggan’s voice. Meggan giggled quietly as Olivia turned in her direction. She smiled softly and looked toward the cave entrance. She knew the time of day, roughly around five, it was how early she had to get up for her chores and errands at the orphanage. Olivia shivered at the thought of the orphanage; all she thought about was how terrifying it was trying to escape for her life with Meggan and Dreya.
The rebel brunette crossed her mind and Olivia looked around for Dreya. Though, she couldn’t see Dreya from her place laying sideways on the dragon shifter’s lap, much to her blushing state.
“Meggan, where’s Dreya?” Olivia asked as the fragile girl yawned and stretched up her slim arms.
Meggan glanced at her and shrugged. “Gone with mate,”
Olivia looked at her weirdly, not knowing how to take her answer. “Uh, for how long?”
Meggan shrugged again. “Forever.”
Olivia blinked at her. “For. . . forever?”
It was hard to understand Meggan’s answer and it showed on her face. Forever? Did Meggan misunderstand Dreya when she said when she’d be back from being with her. . . mate? Olivia didn’t understand why Dreya would leave Meggan and her given the situation they were in. It wasn’t in Dreya’s nature to leave the two defenseless. Then again, Meggan and Olivia were protected by the dragon shifter, but Olivia didn’t know why the dragon was with them in the first place. It made sense how Meggan and she ended up high up in a mountain cave.
Her thoughts were abruptly silenced when the dragon shifter started moving. Immediately, Olivia snapped her head up and watched as the dragon shifter stretched out his long, muscular arms and yawned, giving Olivia a view of his short but apparent canines.
A shiver crawled her spine as Olivia shifted in her spot, another shiver dancing on her skin from strange warm tingles. The dragon shifter opened his eyes, blinked, swept down to Olivia’s onlooking ones. A soft gasp left her lips. Her brown eyes widened as she stared at a pair of bright, vehement swirls of blue. She couldn’t help the strange pull she felt toward him or the way he captivated her with a gleaming gaze.
Olivia went to speak but nothing came out. She didn’t know what to say. She couldn’t think properly, the only thing she could focus on was the blue eyes swirling with an unknown passion. But Olivia noticed something else, something dark, something painful. She didn’t know what it was but it made the blue seep into heavy darkness. Somehow, even though Olivia could barely see it as the dragon shifter masked it so well, she could still see it as a speck of desperate light in the dark.
“Dragella,” he murmured, his voice so rough and masculine Olivia’s heart clenched.
She opened her mouth again and attempted to say something but it was nothing but a whisper. “What?”
Her mind was clouded enough that only a single word was able to leave her. Everything sentence jumbled and formed a lump in her throat. The dragon shifter shook his head tenderly and watched her as she watched him. He captured her attention again with his eyes. Suddenly, a word invaded Olivia’s head, no, a name, his name. A name that echoed around her mind, repeating itself over and over again as if she was calling out to him.
“Ry. . . Rykal?” she spoke softly, feeling too embarrassed to speak louder.
The edges of the dragon shifter’s mouth quirked up and Olivia felt his hand lightly stroke her back. She still wore the filthy, tattered dress and could feel the warmth radiating from his palm, soothing the slight throb in her back. How he was doing it, she had no idea.
“I thought you might’ve forgotten, considering you were not in the best of situations,” he murmured thoughtfully.
Olivia found herself blushing and tried to hide it with her hand, though it did little to nothing. The dragon shifter’s smile widened ever so slightly and he nudged Olivia’s head with his nose. Olivia was perplexed at the action and looked at the dragon shifter surprisingly. She didn’t say anything to cause a problem, the last thing she wanted to do was anger the dragon shifter.
Suddenly, Rykal snapped his head up, his mouth pulled back into a threatening snarl as a rumble from his throat bounced off the cave walls. Olivia flinched back in fright, completely taken off guard, and Rykal abruptly but gently moved her off him and stood. Olivia stared at the dragon shifter, seeing his body become rigid with tension. She looked ahead and saw why. A large shadow suddenly stood at the cave entrance, a new growl bouncing around the cave. Meggan was behind Olivia in a few seconds, clutching onto her arm while Rykal stood in front of them protectively.
The shadow stepped cautiously into the cave and Rykal spread his wings with intimidation, growling at the intruder warningly. Olivia peeked around Rykal and her eyes widened at the sight of an enormous wolf standing there. Its fur was dark grey and its underbelly fur was light grey, bringing out its pale blue eyes. The wolf was large, almost the same height as her if she were standing.
Rykal grunted in a disliking tone. “You smell wet, mutt,”
The wolf snarled its sharp canines at him and walked inside the cave. Olivia stared at the wolf in utter bewilderment as it stopped and shook out its coat. Rykal exclaimed in disgust and shook his head in what Olivia thought was disapprovingly. The wolf paid no attention and the girl then noticed the small sack tied around the wolf’s large neck. Rykal strode over to her and stood next to her, his warm leg touching her shoulder. Olivia shivered at the tingles buzzing through her arm and breathed out shakily.
Meggan gripped Olivia’s arm tightly and Olivia glanced at her worriedly. “Meggan? Are you okay?”
The large wolf suddenly growled and Olivia flinched out in surprise. Meggan’s grip tightened and Olivia noticed her eyes shining. A tear slid down her cheek and her lips started trembling. Olivia suddenly heard bones cracking. Before she could turn to the noise, Rykal’s wing raised up and blocked her view.
Meggan’s grip loosened and slowly she stood up, seeming to be lost in a trance. Olivia went to stand as well but Rykal stopped her again. Olivia frowned and looked at the dragon shifter. He was already looking at her and shook his head. “Don’t interfere, Dragella.”
Olivia looked at him strangely and didn’t know what to say. She didn’t even know what was happening as she watched Meggan walk toward the large wolf. Rykal then folded his wing behind his back. Olivia blinked and her eyes widened in astonishment as a man stood in the large wolf’s place. He wore a dark blue shirt along with black trousers and a chain hanging around his neck. Olivia noticed he had the same pale blue eyes and grey to almost white spiky hair just like the wolf’s fur. The girl then came to the startling realization that he wasn’t an ordinary man.
“A lycanthrope,” she whispered.
“The lycanthrope king,” Rykal told her.
Olivia looked at him, dumbfounded, K-King?
Sobs filled the air and without warning, the man lunged himself at Meggan. Olivia grew alarmed and frightened for her friend’s safety. “Meggan!”
“Sh, Dragella, she’s okay,” Rykal said, giving her a calm gaze.
Olivia stared at him and shook her head in denial. She didn’t understand what was happening as she turned back and observed both Meggan and the man crying in each other’s embrace. It would’ve been sweet to Olivia if it wasn’t for the fact that the man was a lycanthrope, the lycanthrope king to be exact. What was going to happen after the strange affection ended? Would her friend be okay, would she be safe? Olivia eyed the man warily, not sure if it would be right to trust him straight away.
Meanwhile, Rykal was watching her from the corner of his eye as he stood there with his arms crossed. He was perplexed at her squinted eyes like she was suspicious of something. Though perhaps, it was understandable, Kane wasn’t the type to be trusted easily. He was the type to test one’s loyalty to the extreme measure and Rykal experienced it first hand.
Olivia snapped out of her thoughts just as Meggan walked toward her. The lycanthrope was behind her, holding her hand as he used his other hand to wipe away the tears staining his cheeks rather quickly. Olivia frowned and looked up at Meggan. She saw tear-stained cheeks and a wide smile as Meggan held out her other hand. Hesitantly, Olivia reached up for it and Meggan helped her to her feet.
Pain swelled in Olivia’s back and she couldn’t fight back the wince. Rykal was beside her without her realizing and he started rubbing her back softly, just enough for her to feel the warmth of his hand. The pain still throbbed — making sure she knew it was still there — but didn’t cause much trouble and Olivia gave a semi confused semi grateful look to the dragon shifter.
He only looked at her with settled eyes as Meggan tugged at her hand. “Olivia,”
Olivia looked at Meggan worriedly. “What’s wrong, Meggan?”
Meggan only smiled. “Nothing. Just happy,”
Tears glistened her eyes again and Olivia forced out a smile. “I’m glad you are. You deserve to be happy. . . Meggs,”
A tear slid down her cheek and Meggan quickly wiped it away and glanced back to the lycan. “Kane, meet Olivia, Meggan’s friend,” she turned to Olivia. “Olivia, meet Kane, Meggan’s mate,”
Olivia looked at the lycanthrope nervously. His presence alone intimidated her, his title was another level of intimidation and the girl stepped back, accidentally into Rykal. His pale blue eyes found her hesitant brown and she quickly looked away. She felt the thickening tension in the air and she wanted to be anywhere but in a cave with two mythical creatures, whom she thought were nothing but old tales.
It made no sense to her and her mind was throbbing each time she tried to wrap her head around the possibility of the fantasy world existing beyond old, crinkled pages. What was worse, the term Meggan used for the lycan. Mate? Why was Meggan using mate all the time, first with Dreya, then with herself, who was next, Olivia? Why couldn’t she just say friend, they had the same meaning. It both worried and frustrated her.
Meggan tugged at her hand again. “Olivia?”
Olivia gently took her hand back from Meggan and shook her head. “I want to be alone,”
She didn’t make eye contact with anyone, keeping her gaze solely on the ground. The tension rose and it was suffocating the girl. She stepped away from everyone and Rykal’s hand left her back. The pain came swelling through her back again at full thrash. Olivia did her best to hide it and forced down each painful groan that came gritting against her teeth and kept on walking toward the entrance.
When she got near the tree, she could feel the frozen morning air enveloping her body like a storm. It caught her off guard and she abruptly started shivering. Her teeth chattered loudly and Olivia quickly crossed her arms, rubbing them to try and conserve heat. It didn’t work.
“Olivia,” Meggan called for her.
Olivia shook her head and sat down on the tree, it’s branched cold as ice. She heard footsteps and she realized someone was walking toward her. Olivia grew slightly irritated and turned her head back, unable to stop from quivering violently.
“I-I said l-leave me alone,” she stammered out, her lips cold and blue.
Though it wasn’t Meggan, it was the dragon shifter. Olivia’s eyes widened and she quickly looked down. He didn’t move and Olivia wanted to tell him to go away and leave her alone but she didn’t want to anger him or be rude to someone she just met.
“I want to be alone,” she told him, clamming down her jaw afterward.
The dragon shifter didn’t answer and moved in front of her. Olivia kept her head down and huddled into a little ball. It must’ve been one of the coldest winters yet. Olivia couldn’t stop shivering and rubbing her arms did a pathetic job of keeping the little warmth in her body. The dragon shifter then crouched down and met Olivia’s gaze.
The girl quickly turned her head away but the dragon shifter grasped her chin and turned her face to his. Almost instantly, warm tingles spread through her face and Olivia shivered from the sudden heat. She glanced up and immediately got lost in his eyes, how deep and strong they were. Olivia tried with all her will to look away but she couldn’t; something about them pulled her in and left her in a trance where she didn’t want to look away.
“Do you want to be alone?” he murmured.
“But you also want to be warm,” he stated.
Olivia nodded again.
Rykal stood and held out his hand. “I can take you somewhere to be alone. But I will be nearby to maintain your warmth.”
Olivia glanced at his hand for a moment, taking in every scale outlined with blue light, wondering how it was possible. Then again, how was it possible that mythical creatures exist like humans? She was hesitant as she peeked up at Rykal. With a shaky breath, she took his hand, immediately, sparks coursed up her hand to her arm and warmth welcomed her. Another thing she couldn’t wrap her mind around.