Walking the Blade will be a series of novels based on the life and relationships of a dragon who can shift into human form. The stories you see here are snippets and scenes that I wanted to share with you – things we wrote to further develop and fill in the history of our cast of characters. We hope you enjoy it and come back for more…Rachel D. Adams and Dawn McClellan
“Oh, well don’t let us keep you.” Emily had the children bid Mr. Jean-Michel a good day. She helped Lily out of the chair as the other two rose from theirs.
He smiled for them and waved before taking another drink. When Annabelle paused, he put the drink down and watched Anna.
His head tilted slightly and he nodded at her and her brother. Well, some had the gift. Good. He always liked seeing humans with the gift. It meant the energy was still here, even for them. How would she end up using it as she got older? Only time would tell. He took a deep breath. If Emily would show him around and introduce him, he could then make his excuses and move along. Or he could go ahead and find a proper place on his own from which to portal. How did he do this? He looked out the windows at the bright light of the day.
A few minutes later Emily returned to find the man staring out the window. She cleared her throat, “Pardon me, but would you like that tour, now? Mr. Charles will have the children for the next two hours.”
“Yes, please,” Jean-Michel gave her a slight bow of his head. He had been close to making a mistake and contacting Sebastian. Not that his vampire would be awake…he just…he already missed the connection.
As promised Emily took him through the house or at least most of it. Some of the rooms were off-limits to her and so she’d shy away from those doors. She introduced him to Betsy, the head of the kitchen and several of her staff, the butler Marcus and the houseman Nick. The maids Emmy and Louis said a quick hello but made a fast departure. It was obvious that he made them nervous.
When she stepped out to the garden she breathed in a deep breath of fresh air. Turning to smile at Jean she walked him through the large garden with all its blooming flowers that seemed to perk up when she neared them. “Mr. Carmichael tends the gardens and grounds around the house. He does wonders with the flowers.”
“That he does. I’m surprised some of these grow here,” he chuckled and then turned to the girl.
Reaching the back of the gardens she stopped and looked up at him, “I think that’s everyone, sir, did you need anything else?” She moved no closer to the back row of hedges that marked the end of the garden. Instead, she turned and started them back towards the house.
“If you need someone to make an excuse for you to come out here more often, I can do that. You’ve been cooped up a bit long.” He remained standing near the back gate. He could see the energy around the place. The mage of the house had things very well in order for who should come and go.
“Thank you, but I can’t.” Emily had stopped walking and turned to face him again.
“I’m not sure what you are, but I can tell by your looks and your stances that you want to let loose some of that pent-up energy and you’ve not been able to for some reason. I’ll need to talk to Andrew about that.” He acted nonchalant, seeing what her reaction would be. He needed to know everything he could about the Kennedy that now had his chain in-hand. Would this man be an ally that could be worked with – or an enemy? He wasn’t sure of the secondary portion yet. Sometimes these people put on an act. Temptation was a strong method of finding out.
The look of fear was quick and what color she had was gone.
“Oh..oh please don’t do that!” She rushed the few steps back to him and glanced around quickly to make sure no one had heard him. “You’ll get me killed or worse, my father’s debt and therefore me…sold off. I don’t want to be another skin in his office so please don’t bring attention to me.”
How long have you been here?”
“I’ve only been at the estate for two years and I’ve kept my head down and stayed out of everyone’s way. Do your job, keep your mouth shut and stay out of the way. It is the best advice I’ve ever received. And I still have my skin.”
“He collects skins?” This was interesting. “In his office?” He took a step back toward the house as if he were going to go see.
“Yes.. but you can’t go in there!” Emily’s voice rose a notch but she quickly covered her mouth as she reached out to grab Jean’s sleeve.
“Well, you said…” his brow arched.
“I know what I said. But the office is warded. You can’t just walk in.” Her green eyes were wide.
He tried to see into her eyes. What was she? Damn, this is why he liked being drunk – at least he could see the actual aura and decipher. That would have to wait. He could definitely see energy around them and feel it where Kennedy had placed his barrier wards. Jean-Michel decided to give her a bit of help. He pointed to the back of the roses, still another twenty feet back and beneath an overhanging oak.
“See the oak tree? You can go to it without any issues. The energy line that would let the ones with the power in this household know you’ve crossed it, it’s there about ten feet beyond the trunk. So, if you ever need to at least take a breather beneath the tree, you can. But, until I find out what kind of household he’s running, don’t go past that.”
Her gaze went to the oak and it was tempting to go. Her hand covered her other wrist or better the item beneath her sleeve that went around her wrist. Emily’s gaze went down to that and then back to the new man in the household. She slowly moved her wrist up and pulled the sleeve back to show him. There was a metal bolt that went straight through the skin and bone of her wrist for added security. “It won’t affect this? Won’t tell him?”
“Just don’t go past that tree.” It had to have been painful to place…perhaps still painful. He touched the piece and the wrist it was through. There was a long sigh as he let go. “Disgusting. I hate that he has done such to anyone.” It wasn’t the worst he had seen with his old eyes, but it was still despicable. They might as well have been slaves. In the political climate, they were in, Jean-Michel imagined that Kennedy claimed not to own slaves. Technically, he could get away with that. The draconic man shook his head.
“Who are you really? Or should I ask – what are you?”
“Me? Oh, I’m his new pet monster. You’ve probably never seen anything like me.” He really was going to go look in the bastard’s office, whether she went or not. “Now, his office would be somewhere he wouldn’t allow you to go, so where? I might get punished, but I can handle it. I want to see all these skins you’ve been told about. Or… tell you it’s bullshit.” He also wanted to test the magical wards. He needed to know what he was facing. He could always claim ignorance. It was an act he was good at… that and dumb drunken luck.
“You think he lies? That he’s not so dangerous as they say?” Whatever this man was, he was testing limits others had died over.
“Oh, no… don’t get me wrong, Miss Emily. He is still very dangerous. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. However, I like to know the person I’m going to be working for and representing. So, I want the truth.”
There was a scoffing sound and her green eyes actually narrowed at him.
“If you don’t want me to make mistakes or get other people into trouble, tell me everything you know. And maybe, I can help. I’m not some freedom fighter, but – I can tell you that I’ve dealt with the Kennedys for centuries, I won my freedom from them for several centuries, and I’ve only just been brought back. So, I know the family. I know the magic. I just…I don’t know this one in particular yet. And I don’t know his circumstances, his staff’s circumstances, or his wife’s circumstances… I only just met him. I happen to get the feeling that I can trust you, Emily. So I’ve told you things, care to help me by – telling me things?”
“I’ve only been here two years. He brought me from across the portal along with a few of the field hands.” She unbuttoned and rolled up her sleeve better so he could see the enchanted piece bound through. “He’s the only one that can remove it. We all wear one just like it. Not just one magic holds it secure there are over thirty-two spells simply holding one piece on. Try to remove it and it’ll kill me before you have the first spell off. His security measure.” Emily licked her lips and rolled her sleeve down to hide the piece again. “It keeps us where we are supposed to be and if we pass our boundaries it hurts like we are being burnt from the inside out. Most of the house staff wear ’em and all of the field hands. The Mistress of the house can be just as cruel as her husband, but I feel like she’s lost her mind to the magic.”
“Good to know…”
Emily glanced back at the house and knew she should be returning, but she gave him more in the hope it’d keep him safe, “He truly does keep the skins. Once we are dead he forces our bodies to take true form and then takes our skins from us. He did it to the nanny before me when Lily was still a baby.”
“What can you tell me about their eldest?”
That caught her off guard, “Andy? He heard there’s a war coming and wanted to fight, his father said he’s the heir and can’t be risked. He’s a good young man, with a heart, unlike his parents.”
Sen nodded. There was always hope.
“You raise those babies like they were your own. Make sure they know how to feel for other people. Make them loyal to you, not their cruel parents. That’s what you do.” Jean-Michel opened the door for her.
Hearing her name called by the tutor Emily walked in. “I love them, sir. But you watch out for young Katherine – she’s next in line from Andy. She’s vicious and is old enough to’ve learned from her parents. That one’s a snake in the grass.” Then, she let herself show a grin before she continued toward the children’s suites.
Jean-Michel walked back into the house and wondered if Andrew was anxious yet that he still hadn’t left. It wouldn’t matter where the mage was, with the way he had the magical fields set up on the place, Andrew Kennedy would know when his prized possession left. The draconic man licked his lips and moved a hand over one of the stone carvings in the hallway. Interesting. With a hop in his step, he moved beyond to the corridor with the office. The energy was stronger. It also was a bit nauseating. He felt them. “Oh my, aren’t we asking for trouble, sir,” the dragon whispered. In his power-play, Andrew had collected quite a lot of angry spirits around. That was an idiot move on his part and though it was dreadful to think on, it might play into his hands. So, instead of irritating the man, he backed away from the office and made his way to the door.
“Well, well, well, it seems I didn’t miss my chance to introduce myself, after all.” Katherine was moving down the stairs in her lovely dress. She was doing so slowly. Her hazel eyes were all over him. He could feel her curiosity…and more. “You’re dashingly handsome – for a pet.”
“Thank you…I suppose? Katherine?” Jean-Michel waited on confirmation.
“Daddy said you were leaving this morning yet you’re here. Did you get held up?” Unlike her siblings, Katherine had a cruel set to her lovely lips. She was at least sixteen, perhaps 17, and showing interest in men. That part was obvious in the way her gaze moved over him a second time. He was on the menu.
Senias didn’t mind her eyes. He enjoyed both … no… pretty much any gender. So long as it liked to fuck. He refused to think of anything but fucking here, after all, his heart did belong to someone else. He went with the truth. Vipers liked it when they could catch you in a lie. No need for that.
“Well, I wanted a tour and now, I’m still waiting for you to introduce yourself,” he grinned and winked at her just to continue the tease she apparently craved.
“Katherine Kennedy.” She watched him closely as she made it down to the last stair.
Reaching to her hand, he kissed the top, ever so gently. Then, he moved her fingers to his wrist, where there would normally be that gauge thing the rest wore. “Would you really want me to have such an obvious addition to my body? Those things are purely medieval and not something that would do well on a creature that travels as well as I do. It would go against pragmatism. I’ve been attached to your family for centuries, Lady Katherine. You need no metal to show off your claim to me.”
Her hand moved over his wrist and then further up his arm, a bit of red on her cheeks because she was making the move.
“Since we are officially introducing ourselves, my name is Jean-Michel Raudine in public places. I’m not sure if your father wants you to know my true name – I didn’t get to ask him. There are many nuances to each family of Kennedys as I meet them. Hence, I’m still here because I’m learning about you, your family, how things work here, and… well, I was just about to leave to get my personal belongings to bring back. But I wanted to take my time. See? The taking of time has led me to be able to meet you. That’s a good thing is it not?”
“Perhaps it is.” Katherine stood there, her hand tightening around his strong wrist before her chin lifted and her strong gaze met his. “You should know then that one day I’ll control this family. You’d do well to stay on my good side.”
“A woman with ambition and confidence. That, I like.” His tone was charming.
Brushing past him, Katherine spoke quietly. “You should be on your way for your things Jean-Michel Raudine. It wouldn’t do to travel after the sun goes down.”
“Oh, that’s my favorite time to travel. I’ll have to introduce you to it some night. The witching hour especially.” He snapped his fingers and made a huffing sound. “Uh, Lady Katherine?”
She turned, her skirts twirling around her feet.
In conspiratory fashion, he leaned in uncomfortably close, though, somehow he doubted Katherine minded.
“If you know what I am, you also know that part of the appeal to me is that I can create portals. I remind you of this only because – I do have some rather heavy furnishings and treasures that I would like to bring here. Since you will one day run the family, I’m asking you – is it possible to portal into the underground space? You and your father have a lot of energy going on up here and I would hate for your magical wards to be set off just because I wanted to use magic to move things more conveniently. He said I had a week to handle my move and so… do you think he meant that as well? That he’d let me use my own portals to get back and forth? I have some things across the drink that I’m sure you would fancy. But it’d take a year to get here without magic.”
“You may use your portals in the cavern, we are watching them so don’t be foolish about it.” Lifting his hand palm up, she licked her index finger and drew a sigil on that palm that only she could see. “One week Jean-Michel and this wears off and your portals won’t work on the estate any longer.” Katherine blew on it and enacted the magic.
He shivered. Damn. She was already getting there. Poor Andy… the eldest might not make it. When their gazes met again, Jean realized Katherine liked causing him to shiver, just to set the hook in, he held her eyes for a bit longer.
~ I think I may like working with you more than any of the other Kennedys I’ve worked with. ~ He backed up from her slowly, knowing there were others watching them. He wasn’t so sure she was accustomed to mind-speak. So it was a gift; an added intimacy that hopefully brought him favor. “Merci for the time. You will not be disappointed.” He turned to try and actually make it out the front door.
The mind-speak was something new and almost made her smile… almost.
“Time will tell.”