Okay, so as per my promise to you (and myself) I did the challenge, and this is the result. Please forgive the roughness. And you know, I think this might actually have potential to play with it some more. Hope you enjoy. 🙂
The wind whistled through my hair as I gunned the bike and whipped down the deserted Nevada highway through ribbons of setting sun. My eyes stung, but it was just the desert wind. Definitely the wind.
It had nothing to do with what I’d left behind. Camryn, laying there, bloodied, broken.
I shook my head, and leaned over the bike, the odometer rising, the bike engine emitting a high whine.
I wouldn’t think about what had happened. About him. Occupational hazard, that’s all it was. When you went around chasing dragons, sometimes they turned around and bit you. Or cooked and chewed on you, if you were particularly unlucky.
Fortunately for Camryn, it had been quick. At least, I had to think so. If I’d gotten there sooner …
The highway blurred in front of me. Crap. I slowed the bike, and pulled over to the side. Killing the engine brought stark silence rushing into my ears until I could hear my own heartbeat, harsh breath, and a lonely coyote in the distance, the howl long and mournful.
My hands shook as I pulled the helmet off, releasing ribbons of pale hair, still splattered with blood. Too red to be anything but human. If only it were mine.
Damn it, Camryn. Why didn’t you listen to me? Why the hell hadn’t you waited for me? That thing was too old, too strong for you.
I scrubbed my eyes, and stared at the setting sun until my eyes stung for a different reason. It was over. Camryn was dead. I was not. There were still dragons hiding in this world, and it was my job to kill them.
Far ahead, I imagined I could see the dull halo that meant Vegas. And work. Something to lose myself in until like the others before him, Camryn was just one of those dull aches you get on lonely nights.
Replacing my helmet, I turned the ignition on the bike.
I tried again, same result. Wind ruffled my hair, but the coyote had fallen silent. I leaned back and glared at the bike, willing the blasted thing to start. It ignored me.
I tried again and was getting ready to try a third time accompanied by ever more colorful vocabulary when I heard the car engine. Coming on fast. I climbed off the bike. Headlights angled along the asphalt, accompanied by a warm breeze and a scent. Spicy and warm, like melted chocolate or s’mors around the campfire.
I grabbed for the hilt of my sword strapped to the bike, hand shaking. I tried to close my nostrils, to will my body to ignore the scent. But my body was softening, mellowing, languid warmth pooling in my center.
The car was close now, would be on me in under a second.
No! I wasn’t some idiot kid out on her first hunt. I gave my head a shake, tightened a sweating palm on the hilt.
The car slid onto the shoulder and ground to a stop, the engine purring, headlights blinding me. They went dark, and the door opened with the kind of click that meant the car was expensive. Footsteps ground in the gravel, and I blinked light-blind eyes at the large, shadowy figure unfolding itself from the car, then crunching towards me.
Again the scent of him curled in through my nostrils and around my brain, melting it to a gooey mess and making the urge to sigh near-on irresistible.
I clamped my lips shut, and slid my sword free with a soft whisper of steel. I wasn’t the sighing type.
“You’re the one they call Wyrm Damned, aren’t you?” he asked, his voice as rich as his scent and making my insides tingle.
“I prefer Wynn,” I said, a wobble in my tone I hadn’t anticipated. Blinking at him, I adjusted my stance, letting him see the sword. My eyes cleared, showing me Mr. Tall, Broad, and Too-damned-good-looking-to-be-human. His green eyes met mine, and not a flicker of his gaze suggested he noticed or gave a crap about my sword. Again his scent tingled my innards. That strong meant he was old. Real old, like older than me, probably outclassing me by a good century or so.
“Well, ‘Wynn,’ you are one difficult lady to track down,” he said, something in his voice reminding me of home, a slight lilt buried deep beneath the flat American accent. He stopped, crossing his arms over a muscular chest undisguised by the blue button-down shirt.
I couldn’t seem to stop staring at him. His hair was gold. Not like blond that you call gold, but honest to goodness gold, like shiny coins and necklaces. The warmth in my belly didn’t want to diminish, despite the icy uneasiness trickling down my spine. His hair was gold. There couldn’t be that many dragons with gold hair, could there?
And why, of all dragons, had this one come looking for me?
Now here I was, bike dead, out in the middle of nowhere, alone, and likely out-classed. I was running out of options that didn’t leave me toasted and chewed.
“Well, Wynn the Wyrm Damned, I have a proposition for you.”
“Really?” I snuck a look behind me and again considered the chances if I ran. This wasn’t one of those dragons that wanted to talk to their dinner, was he?
“Yeah, really,” he mimicked. “How about you make the slaying more of a part-time gig and become my Queen?”
Maybe it was the kind of day it’d been, or maybe it was the utter ridiculousness of his offer. I stared at him a moment before bursting into laughter. Kept laughing until I clutched an aching stomach and tears ran down my cheeks.
If I was going to die, this time I’d go out laughing.
Thanks for reading, and hope you have a great week. 🙂