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!~ Rach
The moment was still riding and Mira reached for her slender pipe and rolled a small ball of sticky residue to pack in it. Miranda was smiling still as she lit the pipe and drew on the end.
“It can be both good and bad for me,” Jean-Michel looked down at the shirt and then let go of it. With his right hand he tossed it over his left shoulder, so it was there and ready to be put on, but if she wanted to look, he definitely didn’t mind. He had scars from both this world and more from the other. Some would heal over a course of time and others never would. But, because of his poor conditions in the other world – something he would never admit to the lycan – his human body was much more gaunt than normal. It was something Bastian had made note of. It was reflective of his soul; his dragon self had not been doing well. However, to most human eyes, he was perfectly fit – not a bit of fat upon him. Of course not. His body had eaten away all the fat first. War was not the ideal place to get rid of one’s extra weight, but it worked.
“To answer your question from earlier, no. No, I don’t think what I do is some heroic deed.” The smoke drifted from her lips as she licked them, “It’s preventing wasteful loss of expensive lives. Whores aren’t cheap. At least good ones aren’t. They are rare to find, too as most that are beautiful and skilled become kept mistress’ for ones with deep pockets.”
“Wouldn’t you want to be a kept woman if you could?” Jean stepped in front of her and went to his knees, he moved closer and took up one of her dainty feet, and began rubbing it. “To have someone see to your every need so long as you pleased them in return?”
“Me, a kept woman?” Miranda slowly shook her head and gave Jean a look like he was crazy. “I was raised in a house much like this one and from the time I was eight to the time I was fourteen I was nothing more than a maid. The madam could have made a tidy profit off me, but she said why ruin a rose when it’s a bud for a pittance of what the rose will be when she fully blooms.” Taking another draw on the pipe Miranda offered it to Jean. He took the pipe, took a draw, and then handed it back to her. “I suppose she was right. I brought her over fifteen thousand pounds for my first night that summer. She made a generous fortune from me after that and when she died I became madam. So why would I give up being in control of the pleasures of many men and women to be controlled by one man’s pleasures?”
“Hmmm… very good point. You never want for your energy, and you never get bored, eh?” Jean chuckled before placing one foot down and picking up the other.
Her head tipped back on a sigh, “Besides if I want a man to tell me what to do I have Dante.”
“Well, you should definitely let him set some boundaries with the one who just left you – at the very least. Both of you. No excuses for that, my dear.” He lifted her foot and let his teeth move over the tip of her toe before kissing it and returning it to the floor. “Have enough? Or shall I accompany you downstairs shirtless? No doubt your brother wouldn’t mind. If he thinks I didn’t see him taking stock of the merchandise when I walked in, he’s very mistaken.”
Her nose crinkled as she giggled again.
“Of course he eyed you, who wouldn’t?” With his help, she stood up and adjusted the robes so that she was modest once more… or at least as modest as she was ever going to get. “Leave it off and bask in the attention you get. I’m sure the others will be tripping over themselves and each other just to get one of those steamy looks from you Frenchie.”
He shrugged. Why not? He held his arm out for her. Miranda slid her arm through his and leaned against him as they made their way out of the room.
“I’ll speak to Dante later and sort out some boundaries, but for now let’s go and enjoy lunch. I’m sure our cook can whip up all sorts of treats. After that, our doors will be opened and we will make ourselves scarce for the evening. My brother can handle the place and our patrons for the night.”
Immersed in a game of cards, Dante didn’t notice the arrivals until he laid his winning hand out. While the others muttered over piss poor luck, he gathered up his winnings. It was then that his gaze lifted to take in the satin garbed Mira and the shirtless Celt. A brow lifted slowly but the look he gave was definitely one of admiration.
“Decided to come back down and join us again.” That ruby gaze glittered as it narrowed on the faint traces of bruising that was still fading, “Blocked me again I see.” The incubus waved them towards the recently vacated chairs at the table while he shuffled the cards, “You know if you’d stop blocking me, I could come up and take care of situations that get out of hand. I do it for the others. I could make him regret hurting you.”
Miranda’s hand shot out to cover her brother’s forearm, “Stay out of that one’s head Dante, please.” Quincy was nothing like any of them and she didn’t want either of these men hurt or killed over her. “We’ll discuss limits and boundaries with him at the next visit. He’ll abide by them once they are given.”
Reaching a hand out towards his sister, Dante grazed his knuckles along her jaw, “If he doesn’t I’ll kill him.” His smile was vicious.
“A man after my own heart. Good to know such still exist.” Jean’s eyes met those of the incubus. If he could share what he had seen when he had gone to Mira, he would.
She took Dante’s hand and kissed his fingertips, “Sweet, but you can’t.” And she did mean that literally. “Now lunch and then Jean and Sebastian are taking me shopping and to the opera while you keep this place running.”
“We are?” Jean raised a brow. “Uh…?” He looked between the two siblings.
“Yes you are and we can take our carriage.” Miranda provided.
“What’s the opera?” He didn’t really recall such a word. “A play?”
“The opera is like a play, yes. It just has a lot of singing involved and their voices are lovely to hear,” Mira explained.
“It’s torture.” Dante spoke low to Jean as he chuckled when Miranda swatted him, “I won’t subject myself to it again. Take my advice and take her to a play instead. I hear they are doing some of the Shakespearean pieces there and she’ll enjoy it just as much. Besides, at least for the play, you can dress comfortably and we have a box for the season. For the opera, you must wear your black and whites or you won’t be allowed in.” He shuffled the cards again because it was relaxing, “I don’t know about you Jean, but I only wear the full get-up when I absolutely have to.”
Jean nodded. True. Besides, he didn’t even have anything fancy that would be in the style of this age. Black and white? He really had a LOT of questions. But Sebastian was still very much sleeping. He didn’t want to seem too damn ignorant.
“I don’t know why you want to mingle with that group anyhow. All they’ll do is laugh at you, turn up their noses at you, and pretend you don’t exist. Because let’s face it, my beauty, no matter how rich you are or how many jewels you wear, to them you will always be little more than a whore.” Dante had softened his words and yet he knew they still hurt.
There was a momentary flash of pain across her face but it was quickly replaced with the smiling bubbly expression again.
“Of course, you’re right brother. We’ll go to the play instead.” She was quiet then as their food was brought to them from the kitchen.
Seeing the exchange, Jean offered something of a compromise.
“Well, I’ve always said I’ll try anything once. The sounds of it makes me think perhaps Sebastian would like it. So, this time a play. Next time an opera? At least then, I could be more prepared for the fancy-pants shiteaters that’ll be there? I’m at a disadvantage right now, but give me a month or two and I can usually go tit for tat with anyone in politics within a region. And if you can do that, people become afraid of talking shit about you.” He looked at the food and nodded a thank you to the server before digging in.
“Miranda tells me that you travel a lot. I’m in the process of setting up some trade routes and providing a safe market for our kind. Would you know of any that would be interested?”
“I don’t know if you’d call it traveling a lot recently. I just got back through the portals in Nice from wars on the other side. I can tell you about good contacts to make over there. I can also tell you about a good place to explore in the New World… or what is it they’re calling it now?”
“The colonies?” Dante offered up.
“Yeah. There are places in the southern region that most Crimson haven’t claimed yet. You know, toll free so to speak?” he put more melt-in-your-mouth meat into his gob and just enjoyed. The spices were amazing. Lycan knew how to cook, yes… but not as wonderfully as the French.
“I’m going up to dress, you’re welcome to join me or you may stay down here and converse with Dante longer.”
“I may join you in a bit. I left the rest of my outfit up there, remember?” He chuckled and toasted her with his stout.
Looking between the two men she nodded, “I’ll see you upstairs then.” She felt both sets of eyes on her as she climbed the stairs to her quarters.
“She’s a spitfire and tough as nails. I like your sister.” He turned to look at Dante. “She was having trouble healing. Whatever the bastard is that came to her before me, I’d love a shot at him. But, if we play this her way, I suppose that’s up to you. Could you… make sure that his boundaries are placed? Make sure he doesn’t use anything that would cause her to have trouble healing beyond an hour? And perhaps he should have to take care of her after any session. No one deserves to be left as she was left.” He pushed the plate back from him. The thoughts of what he had seen and the anger in him had taken his appetite.
“Usually she doesn’t block me and I can go to her when she needs me.” Dante was twisting the deck of cards in his hands as he took a deep breath. “This time she did, and I should have known the bastard was up to no good. He rarely comes around anymore and I had actually started to hope that he had found another to his liking or was dead. I’m hoping it will be several more months before he does so again. Perhaps even years.”
“What is he? She said he couldn’t be killed. In my experience – everything can be killed. It’s just a matter of how difficult and how much preparation is entailed in it that makes people put a limitation on death,” He watched the servant pick up the plates, and kept his hand on the glass. He’d not had this kind before and it was delicious.
“I don’t know what he is, but I’ll make sure she is not left in such a state again by him.” Taking a drink from his glass Dante stared at the tabletop for a good long minute, “To that end, making her more difficult to find may help. Perhaps it is time for us to move on. You say there is a place for us over the ocean? Maybe we should go there and set ourselves up.” The way the incubus figured it was if he moved his sister to the other side of the world it would take the one simply known as Mr. Q longer to find her.
“It could give us some time without Crimson up our arses.” Jean waited.
“What if I told you that I was in the business of making things happen right under Crimson’s noses? I enjoy pissing them off, and I’d wager you enjoy pissing them off, too.”
“However did you guess?” the smile was a wicked one. “So, what do you trade in?”
They shared a grin, “Black market goods so far as the provincial knows. For supernaturals like ourselves, nothing overly spectacular. Spell components, items not easy to find here or there…”
Jean-Michel leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. He considered the situation.
“I have contacts on the other side that I can introduce you to. From there, it’d be up to you. They aren’t charmable. But they are helpful. And I know a specific set of traders that are already dealing between constituents of various nations of indigenous supernaturals. They can be extraordinarily helpful.” Senias looked around the room. “And the new invasion of that land made by the settlers creates a significant need from a mundane standpoint as well. A place such as this for the cover and trade happening? So long as I always have a place to go and a small percentage, this could happen.” He waited. He wanted to see how Dante would react to that first. What he could offer on top of that? Well, that would seal the deal, he was sure.
“I barely know you and you want a percentage? I’m not in the habit of giving money away to just anyone.”
“I’m not just anyone and you know it.”
That had the incubus lifting a brow. “And what exactly would that percentage be buying? Make it worth my while and we’ll discuss this further.”
“I happen to know that Crimson overlooked a portal. If my information is correct, no one has found it.” Jean grinned at the half-demon, a sly grin. “I’d only ask 3%. That’s not much considering this portal leads to a dimensional junction connected to not just the two main worlds, but a third. A place where things could get lost while in transit so that no one could find it…?” he tried to look innocent, but that was such a hard sell.
Now that was indeed worthy of further discussion. Not just because of what was being offered, but also because it gave Dante a much larger clue as to what exactly was sitting at his table and willing to protect his sister. By the love of Aphrodite, he’d not ever met one like this! They could create, seal, and see portal energy in ways other supernatural could not. Was that what Jean-Michel was or was this simply information the man had come across? And there was more to consider.
“What’s to keep you from turning me, my market, and this portal over to Crimson should you or your lover ever get caught? It’d be a nice tidy exchange for one’s freedoms. I would hate to become fully invested in this venture only to have it ruined in such a fashion,” He was sure that Jean could see it all from his vantage point.
“Because I’m asking for us to always have refuge with you and your sister. You are half-demon, which means you make a binding deal, you are bound to keep it. I’m making a deal that will see Sebastian and I well taken care of and I would never risk that. Considering I know what you are and you probably know what I am, you also know you have something to hold over me.” He’d left before with nothing in an emergency and left his lover with nothing. He’d not do so again. “If anything happens to me, I want his future taken care of. He’s barely made it in my absence. Never will I leave his state of being to luck again.”
Dante waited quietly while the woman poured their glasses full again and then left. His ruby eyes remained on Jean-Michel.
“Besides, look what Crimson has done to us. I would rather die than give Crimson something like that. I knew about it before I was forced to flee to the other side. Once I had a proper alias, I could have told any number of them about it and made a fortune; a lot more than the 3% I’m asking for. And yet, I didn’t.” Jean-Michel or… Senias… was a patient creature. “You can either take the deal or you can try and set up the business without it, and I will become your competitor.” The draconic man took a drink.
“Hmmm, well then, put it that way and I believe we have a deal.”