Raven and Starr were inside Dante’s Inferno where the music was loud and upbeat right now. Mira and Angelus, whom they were friends with, were the owners of the place. They had invited so many to come by because it was time to celebrate all the good things happening in their lives. Mira and Derek had been blessed with a baby after their mating.  They had all helped in one way or another with the last war between the lycan tribes and elves on the other side and then on the return of Terry Weylyn to this side of the portals. And Angelus – her brother that many mistook as ‘Dante’ – was still a free demon after Crimson had tried to claim he was guilty of many crimes. Crimson no longer had a claim to him or his properties. So, there was so much to celebrate!

As a true musician; a true bard, it took everything in Starr not to want to hop on a stage and perform. He loved the music at Dante’s on nights like tonight. They were playing to his soul – well… the upbeat and happy part of his soul. He walked into the entryway and turned to say hey to the bouncers, both of whom knew he and his Chosen very well. He loved making them smile with a quick update and a joke. Then, he turned and tucked Raven against him, just because he felt so damn good doing it and feeling her physical presence with him.

~ Table or Bar? You pick and I’ll get our tab started… ~ He already saw Derek at the bar and Dante aka Angelus next to him. His mom was there, too, at the end seat of the bar that she tended to share with Mira when they were both around.

~ Table I’m not in the mood for bar chat. ~ Raven smiled at him and was already moving her hips to the musical rhythm. She knew he’d want to talk to his drakka and see how she was doing. Raven waved at Derek before heading to their usual table. It was reserved just for them and she loved it as it gave the perfect view of the entire club.

The big wolf waved back and started making Raven’s favorite. She and her two guys usually closed the place down. Seemed like it might be only her and Starr tonight. He also began making the dragon’s favorite while nodding to him. Starr was hugging his drakka.

“Happy to see you out and about,” Inea whispered as she kissed Starrfire’s forehead. He was her only child and she adored him. “Raven not in the talkative mood?”

“You know how it is. Sometimes she’ll talk everyone’s ears off and sometimes she just wants to listen to music and hang out with me. Tonight seems like the latter. Maybe after the party, she’ll be up for visiting. We’ve got some months before the new release and we’ll be finished in the studio next week.” They worked together on songwriting and performing. It was time to drop something new and keep their income on flow. Starr and Raven might’ve been wild, but they were also shrewd with making and investing money.

Russell’s arrival was less showy as he slipped in past the bouncers and made his way to the table. He caught his older brother’s attention and just gave him a nod which he knew would get him a drink on the next round. Seeing that Raven was already seated he slowed his step and when he reached the table he slid into her left side knowing that Starr would take the right.

“Russ… you made it!” Raven smiled at him. She slid an arm around him, but he didn’t seem pleased with her. She pulled back almost immediately. “What’s wrong?”

“Why did I have to find out about Evan joinin’ us from Starr? Why didn’t ya tell me yaself?” Russ was more pissed that she didn’t think to share this than the fact that his other, older brother was joining them.

She took a deep breath, “I didn’t think it was such a big deal. Besides I wasn’t sure you’d be here. You were off on a job last I knew.” she could already see that wasn’t the right answer.

“It wasn’t a big deal? Seriously, Rave? My brother is interested in ya and that ain’t gonna work. Ya can’t have us both.” Slipping from the table he left to go to the bar where Derek was getting drinks ready.

“You made it.” He was happy to see Russ. Starr took his best friend’s arm in a clasp and slapped his back. Russ, of course, returned the gesture. This was his dragon-brother. He had at least been honest about everything. Starr took a deep breath. Of course, he could feel the irritation and tension and he hated it. He was just trying to deal with the changes. Picking up the drinks for himself and Rave he looked to Russ. “Join us when you get yours.”

Raven sat at the table pouting for just a few minutes before her chin lifted just a notch as she spoke out mentally to her men. ~ Forget this! Be pissed all ya like. We came here to have fun and enjoy ourselves so either join us or push off and mope some place else. Don’t ruin the evenin’ over somethin’ stupid. ~ She knew both men heard her but it was aimed at Russell.

Starrfire stopped in his tracks on his way back to the table. He was looking at the door, where Evan had come in and it looked like he had a plus one. She had long dark waves down her back and deep brown eyes. She was dressed in jeans, knee-high boots with buckles and a white tank top covered by some sort of yarn-woven poncho. She was petite, like Raven and also… stunning, but in a plainer fashion. It was hard to describe.

Evan saw Starr and after showing their stuff at the door he made his way to the dragon.

“Hey, so Rave invited me, but I had a business meeting, remember? I thought I’d bring her along for the night. She’s been a friend for half a century, she’s fam, I suppose as it’s said these days. She helped Russ with the other side and Terry situation…”

“Yeah, yeah… uh, we have a table. Come over and introduce her.” Starr smiled at the newcomer and made his way to sit on his side of Raven and put her drink down.

Seeing Russ at the bar, Evan whistled and motioned for him to come on over. He really didn’t want to do intros twice.

Now he was being whistled to by the intruder? And he couldn’t do a damn thing about it because the guy was family. Rolling his eyes, Russ told Derek he’d talk to him later.  Russell made his way back to the table and took his seat on Raven’s left side. That’s when the scent hit him. Wait… Essa?

“I believe you and Russ know each other. But this is Starrfire and Raven. Everybody, this is my friend Ariessa.” Evan didn’t hesitate on clasping arms with his brother and when he was done, he moved so his friend could take the offered hand.

Russell kissed the top of her hand, recalling the dragoness’ full taste and the memories they had made on the other side. So, this night had just taken a turn for the helluva lot better! Once he’d kissed her hand, the wolf took off his leather jacket to get more comfortable.

“I’m Raven Evansworth, Chosen kindred to this handsome one.” She smiled at Starr and looked Russell’s way, “And friend and lover to this good lookin’ rogue.” Yes, she wanted her position known to this female. Even now she felt Russell pulling away from her and she knew he wouldn’t stay single or lonely for long. Russ was that straight up bad boy that everyone wanted to bed. But he didn’t pull her inner strings like Starr did and now Evan was starting to.

“Oh, I didn’t know we were telling our lovers list. I don’t have a kindred yet, so – hello! In the market. But he’d better love travel and the ocean and not minding if I bring home the occasional female, wherever home might be. Evan and I have been FWB before, but that’s about all with this fella.” she had a definite Australian accent to her, but only when she got excited while talking. She nudged Evan in the arm, before he chuckled and moved toward the bar. Best to get their orders while it wasn’t swamped. While her friend was gone, she turned back to the group, her eyes looking over Russell Weylyn hungrily. Would the vampire have something to say about her wants? Or would she play along? Her dark eyes made their way from Russ back to Starrfire when he spoke.

“Nice to meet you Ariessa. Got a clan affiliation or…” Starr began.

“Nope, sea dragons don’t worry with clans. We just swim around them,” She smiled with mischievous glee.

“Care to dance?” Russell was fond of Ariessa and he didn’t hide it. He rose from his seat and held his hand out to her.

“Sure thing!” Ariessa took the cute one’s hand and let him lead her to the floor. Her fingers were calloused, definitely not the norm for a girl that looked like her. As she left, Evan came back with drinks.

“Well, that was fast,” he commented before taking a seat across from the couple. “I hope you don’t mind. She was stuck back at the wharf after the business was handled and since I had to get back here fast and didn’t feel like the 3 hour drive I just had her get me back to the estate and we hung out and got ready and came on over.”

“Why would I mind? She’s cute and has a good personality.” Raven shrugged as she watched the couple dance. She had to admit that they looked good together. “Plus it’s obvious she has good taste in men.” She was trying to make the moment light and even smiled her dragons way.

“It’s obvious they already know each other, too.” Starrfire smiled with his eyes for Raven and then took a good strong drink while watching Russ and Ariessa.  “I’ve not seen or heard from any sea dragons in so long.”

“They’re scattered, like you guys. Have been for years, but makes it worse is they tend to be forgotten by dragons of the clans unless they’re needed. I can tell you the whole woeful tale. Her dad is good with it. I’m sure he could set it to music.” Evan drank some more and looked at the two. “So, who gets to take Raven out to dance first?”

Starrfire drank the last of his glassful, got up and offered his girl his hand. Still smiling Raven slid from the seat to take her Chosen’s hand. Of course he’d want to be first, he was always her first. When she got up, he kissed her lips lightly and then turned to Evan.

“You two enjoy this one. I’ll grab the next set.”

Her eyes widened at Starrfire as he simply handed her over to Evan after their kiss. Was he serious? Raven wasn’t sure how to take this. But if Starrfire wanted her to dance with Evan, she’d dance with him.

Evan got up quickly and held his hand out for the other half-vampire.

With one last look at Starr, she took Evan’s hand and let him lead her to the floor. His scent didn’t affect her as badly as it had before. As the music changed to a slow song, she took a breath and put her hands on his shoulders.

“You look good and so does your friend.” Raven glanced the other couples way. She wouldn’t say it but they all really did fit well together.

“Thank you,” He was wearing some dark colored denim and a white shirt, unbuttoned at the top just a bit. He had on a shell necklace that reminded her of the shells here and there in his dreadlocks. And those were obviously freshly washed and conditioned from the smell of them. “You look good as well.” Evan licked his lips and added, “Ariessa used some of my product, so she probably smells a little like me. Just thought I’d warn you of that. I didn’t see the point of sending her to a hotel just to get ready.”

“Thanks and I hadn’t noticed her scent yet, but thanks for explaining it.” She’d actually dressed pretty simple for her tonight. She’d razored one of their pale pink band shirts and wore it over a muscle shirt of bright blue with a pair of fade jean’s and her lace up boots. Her pink and black hair was partially braided off to the side to keep it out of her face and she wore Starr’s small feathers and even a few of his smaller scales with them throughout her hair. It still made her look wild with her jewelry, makeup and cat eyed eyeliner, but she’d worn wilder before.

“She’s probably trying to figure out what the angle is right now with Russ. She’s a digger like that. I didn’t know what to say about tonight, so I just told her I was meeting up with friends.” Evan pulled Raven in close and rested his head near hers, his neck close to her face. “She couldn’t stop talking about him and their adventures on the other side. I thought, if he showed, the surprise would be perfect. Looks like I was right.”

Raven didn’t push him away when he pulled her in closer. She could hear the rush of his blood and see the beat at his pulse point in his neck. The scent of the ocean and the soaps mixed with his own scent was very alluring to her.

“Russell isn’t hard to figure out. He’s very straightforward.” Even though she’d fed before they came here, Raven’s body was reacting to Evan. She bit into her bottom lip to stave off her natural instincts and reactions to him. Her hands moved down from his shoulders to his upper arms. That might not have been the best of ideas. Damn but he had a lycan’s physique!

Across the floor, Ariessa moved in close to Russ, who thankfully was not overly tall. She didn’t like overly tall men and most that she knew already had an inch on her. Lycan usually had a foot.

“So, lover designation. I guess that’s an honorable title. Is that what you like? Mr. Friend-and-Lover or do you prefer Mr. Good-Looking-Rogue or possibly Mr. Kindred-to-a-Hot-Dragoness?” The dragoness teased before pulling in tight, her hands slipping into his rounded back pockets. “It’d be a definite upgrade.”

The woman was bold, he’d give her that.

“Guess you could say with Rave, I’m a FWB.” He shrugged his shoulders, “I’m just in it for fun, but I’m always on the lookout for something better.” His hands caressed from the back of her neck, over her shoulders and down her back as Ariessa slid her hands into his back pockets. He rumbled low for the dragoness and breathed in her scent. The stubble along his jawline brushed over her skin at her neck as he moved his face closer to her ear. His warm breath fanned out over the shell of it as he felt her breathing change.

“Well, I’m looking for something both fun and permanent. Not sure I’m better than anybody else. But…I’m definitely not someone you have to share with anybody else. Unless it’s just for fun for a night and we both agree to it.” She took in his scent at the collar bone and then nuzzled her nose under his strong jaw. “Damn, you smell good. What do you think about the ocean? Ever been on a boat, island hoppin’?” Her nails dug in a bit to see what his reaction would be. So far, he’d just gone with the flow and she liked that.

Russ’s steps slowed as he took in what she said. Leaning back to look her in the eyes, “Oceans beautiful and I do a lot of land hoppin’ with my job or on my bike. But I’m gonna be straight up honest with ya. Yer gorgeous and I’m sure we could have a lot of fun. I’m not the daddy type though, I leave that to my siblin’s..” He rumbled again for her and held her close, “I’m mentorin’ under a Tasker so I’m not home much. But I like the idea of not sharin’.” Russell nipped at her ear and grinned as his body responded to her advances. “Watch it darlin’ I’m more in touch with my animal, biting and scratching are foreplay to me.”

“Well, they said you were straight forward. And that’s the idea I got when we were on the other side. What we did for each other? Kinda left a lastin’ impression for me. And if I get a chance, I might try my hand at Tasking, too. What’d you think about that?” Ariessa asked, wanting to cover everything she could.

“Mmmmm…. I’d say that’s sexy as hell. Maybe we could work together.” He turned her with the music, his bright blue eyes looking up at the stage. “But you ignored the other part.”

“Which one? The one about the kids I don’t ever want ta have either? Or the one about this?” She nipped at his chin while sliding her fingers up from his ass to rake along the small of his back to tease him further. When his gaze came back to her, she smiled wickedly. “Seems to me, like maybe we’re a match made by the Goddess. Does it sound or feel like I’ve ignored you?”

Russ just chuckled. He took her into a lunge and then up against his body again just for the hell of it.

“What’s up Starry baby? What can I get you?” Mira asked while watching Sen’s dragonling standing at the bar watching his woman dance with another.

“I need the next round started up. They’re gonna be winded after this,” he could tell both his best friend and his Chosen were definitely enjoying themselves, because he could feel it. It was kind of euphoric – better than any drug he’d tried.

“I can get Dare to send refills to your table if you want to break in on that dance. I mean they are getting awful close out there.” She smiled at him.

“Oh, that’s not nec…”

“Or would you rather take me out there for a spin.” Derek wouldn’t mind because she’d danced with Starr before and there was no desire between them past friendship.

“I’d love a dance.” Starr looked over to Derek and the man looked up from the box of glasses he’d just delivered to the bar for the new bartender. “I’m borrowing your mate.” He walked around the end of the bar where Angelus and Inea were seated and standing to take Mira’s hand.

“So long as you don’t borrow her all night. I get some dances, too.” Derek smiled wolfishly.

“I don’t know!” Starrfire called over the music as he led Mira out to the floor. “I don’t think my toes could handle your kind of dancing,” Starrfire chuckled as Derek groaned and shook his head.

Mira giggled as Starr led her out to the dance floor. She loved to dance and it showed as she moved and danced to the music with professional steps. Starrfire was no slacker, either.  While Starr began to dance with Mira, Ariessa’s conversation with Russ continued.

“Oh, you think yer bad ass, huh?” Ariessa backed up a bit so she could look into his eyes. Damn, but she loved his eyes. “Guess you’ll have to prove that to me.” She grabbed his shirt and pulled him to her body again so they could enjoy each other’s auras.

“Seems like they’re getting cozy,” Evan had noticed Raven take a couple of looks over Russ and Essa’s way. “Maybe so should we?” He noticed the music shift to a new song and he rumbled deep in his chest. “I love this song. You know it?”

“Don’t think so.” As she answered him, Raven felt Evan’s warm breath move over the bare skin as his voice moved through every note perfectly and Raven could help but react.

As the music played, Evan moved his face to the side of hers without the braided hair so he could sing to her. And his voice? It was as perfect as the singer’s voice… only he was singing to Raven, not just playing around.

“Damn, I’m gonna be drunk soon and I’ve only had one drink…” Starr chuckled, leaning into Mira a bit more and letting her lead this time.

“Lovely feeling isn’t it to have that much sexual energy flowing through your body all at the same time?” Mira gave a soft laugh as she swayed with music and helped steady her partner. She had finally picked up on what was going on with the dragon. “You’ve chosen your bonds carefully, Starrfire, but right now, both of your kindred bonds are tickling you, silly.”

“I’m glad someone else understands it. People keep questioning me… kindreds who are this wild and yet this loyal to you? Damn, there’s no drug like it.” Starrfire moved her into a spin and then back, but the steps were slower than normal and timed to the heavy beat. When he caught her, he had to take an extra step back. “Sorry.”

“Do you need to sit this one out handsome?”

“Maybe. I’ll take you back to the bar for your mate. Thank you for the time, though,” he put his arm around her waist, considering she was a bit taller than him and walked back with her like a proper escort should.  When they reached the bar Mira placed a kiss on his cheek and rubbed her knuckles on his jaw. She leaned in to whisper against his ear.

“Go have a seat and just relax, enjoy the feelings they are giving you. Like you said, and I completely agree, there is no drug like it. Once you’ve had your first fill sweet boy, take them home and really get your whole fill of it.” Mira winked at him and gave him a peppermint stick to add to his fun. “Now go to your table before you fall down.”

Starrfire walked back over to the table and waited on everybody to come back so he could continue this ride.

Raven’s markings were faintly showing up by the time the song and led the way back to their table. One look at Starr and she wasn’t sure they’d stay much longer. He looked he’d already had one too many. “You alright babe?” Her hand caressed his cheek as she stood the with Evan close by.

“I’m fine. I… am enjoying the sensations from my kindred…both of them.” he lifted a glass to toast. “To empathic bonds!” He took the drink down and put the glass back on the table. “I doubt I should dance, but I’m all for talking and kissing and all around enjoying all night long.” He looked at Raven and then over to Russ as the two approached from the other side.

All Raven could do was smile and shake her head slowly at her Chosen Kindragon. As she moved into the place beside him, she felt Evan slide right in behind her. Touching her finger tips to her ginger’s chin she kissed him and eased back in the seat to relax between both Starrfire and Evan. Her gaze went to Russell’s for but a moment and she saw what she needed to; he was okay with this change and wouldn’t hurt because of her.

“Kindred?” Ariessa looked at Russell.

“Not that kind of kindred. We’re just real good friends might as well say brothers. That’s the kinda bond we have.” Lifting a brow towards Starrfire, Russell turned his blue eyed gaze to the dragoness. “Same as our fathers share. They call each other brother and sometimes, so do we. We’ve been around each other since he was a whelp and I was a pup. Sometimes, I swear he still is a whelp…”

“Hey, now!” Starr growled a bit, but then chuckled as Russ pulled the heavy curtain closed that sectioned the table off. He then slid in on the right side of Starr and invited Ariessa to join him on his left. Starr had been dealing with a lot lately and so the least that they could do was give him a good night out.

to be continued…

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