Ava needs comfort, but not just from Athanasios.
Bringing Comfort and Calm
After a few moments, I pull back from Ali’s hug and dry my eyes on my sleeve. There’s a protective bubble around us, thanks to my sister and I smile, grateful for her care, her comfort.
“You knew when you met him, didn’t you?” I ask and Ali laughs.
“Not right away Ava, no. Charlie was determined and when he went back to his uncle’s house that night, I couldn’t sleep, rest, eat, focus… I was a mess! At around three in the morning, I ran out to meet him. He was in the same state and it was only when we curled up together, in comfort, could we sleep. I knew then, I’d never go home. And with Vicky being as she was…” Alison shrugs. “I should never have left Aonghus. But I couldn’t leave Charlie,” she states. I can feel the determination from her.
“Where is Charlie now?” I ask and Alison grins.
“At home. He knew I had to come. Aunt Em called, told me your fated mate found you but he wasn’t British, so you’d likely leave to be with him. I was to come, hell or high water.”
I take in a huge breath. What Ali says is what I feel. Even this distance from him, for the short time I’ve known him, since we touched, I’ve not wanted to be away from him.
“I already know I will go with him. Being without him… I’d leave the lands unprotected, vulnerable. But, to not have a Callaghan with the blades here?” I look at my sister. “You can’t take over, you’ve kin of yer own now. Aonghus could…” I suggest.
“He could. It would get him out of the area while Dad and Vicky battle things out.”
“She knows it’s Callaghan lands, doesn’t she? She can’t lay a claim to it,” I clarify. Alison nods.
“I’ve got Dad’s lawyer already working on it. And yes, she’s trying, but failing. Next week… should be interesting,” my sister drawls out, laughter on her lips.
“What have you done, Alison Callaghan?” I grin, admiring any handiwork against our stepmother.
“I had an idea, just as you did with here,” she tells me. “And I followed through. As I know you will.” She stands and holds her hands out for me. I take them and stand as she tugs on me to join her. “You know you’ll follow him. Dad’s been… insensitive since Vicky showed up. But, the thing is, he’s right.”
I sigh. “I know. But I had no time to even discuss it with Athanasios, I was only formally introduced to him this morning, and he knew my name well before that.” I now wonder how. Alison drops the bubble and as she does so, I fall to my knees. The concern and fear I’m suddenly hit with can only come from one person. There’s a wave of relief as he senses me and just as Alison is managing to help me up, he appears, striding up the hill and in moments his arms are around me, giving me comfort.
“You were hidden,” he tells me. “How?” He asks and Alison steps forward.
“That would be me. I’m Alison, by the way. I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced,” and she extends her hand.
They shake hands, exchanging names and not once does Athanasios let me out of his embrace.
“I’m going back, Eunice will need feeding,” she nods to me. “Don’t be long, sister mine. Today has been long,” she smiles at me and departs. I snuggle into Athanasios, then walk back to where Alison and I were sitting only a few moments ago.
“Your father,” he begins and I begin to cry, again. His arms wrap around me, pulling me as close as I can be to him. It takes a moment of him giving me comfort to say what I need to.
“Is not himself. His wife, my stepmother, has never liked us. Alison is going to deal with her this week, she already has a plan in place.” I turn to him, gazing at his huge chest, upon which lies a thick carpet of hair. He lifts my chin and forces me to look at his eyes. They jump from dragon to man, so I know I’m addressing both entities of being here.
“Do you want me to come with you, back to Greece?” I ask, nervously. If he doesn’t want it, I am not sure what it is I need or want to do. He sighs.
“Want is such a weak word. Desire, demand, need…” His hand moves from my chin to around my head and he holds me steady as he brings his lips to mine. His tongue licks across my lips and against my judgement, my mouth opens, allowing him entry. After a few seconds, my tongue joins in the dance and the connection between us strengthens.
Sight To Behold
“Your father,” he breathes at me as he pulls away from me, slowly. He places his forehead against mine. “May have been insensitive to how he asked, but he is right. The bond created by matrimony, when we join, will help keep you safe. And me grounded, calmer.”
“I can look after myself,” I declare and my dragon chuckles.
“I did not say you could not, but knowing where you are, that you’re safe, stops me from going over the edge.” He backs away and begins to undress. No matter how hard I want to look away, I cannot. Every ridge, bulge, contour and muscle I can see, is burning itself into my mind. It takes him a moment to get naked and even less time to shift into his dragon form. I blink and nearly miss the transformation.
“Oh my!” I breathe out, taking in the sight before me. Athanasios in dragon form is a sight to behold, with ivory-silver scales that hint at being opal, with a rainbow effect shining through them as they move with his breathing and horns at the side of his head that he can move, like an antenna. I reach out a hand, then pull back and the beast chuffs. Whatever it is he’s trying to convey, I can’t understand him. Not yet. The dragon kneels, bows his head and pulls his wings back. Tentatively, I take a step forward, then a few more until, I’m there, stroking him, touching him.
I’m stroking a dragon!
The scales are soft to the touch, but there’s a thickness, almost a hard toughness to them. I run my hand over the small scales at his nose, then his head and up to the larger spines on his back.
“You’re beautiful,” I breathe, hardly daring to speak. The wave of calm and comfort coming from him stills everything around us; it’s not just me he is affecting here. I resist the urge to hug the dragon and step back.
“I’ll turn so you can shift,” I tell him, turning my back. I close my eyes, knowing I’ll see the dragon again.
“Does your dragon have a name?” I ask when Athanasios’ warm, strong arms wrap around me from behind.
“He does. Alexandros,” and Athanasios chuckles. “He says I am to thank you, but you are more beautiful than he,” and there’s another rumble from behind me that I’m sure didn’t come from the man. “He’s never been called beautiful before,” and I grin.
“He is and we’re alike, he and I,” I admit. Do I need to tell Athanasios I’ve never been called beautiful before either? Not until now. His word for me, ómorfi, means exactly that. I fear what might happen if I share that with him, but it seems I do not need to.
“He, we, understand that you’ve never been called that?” He clarifies and I can only nod.
“Not until you,” I tell him and I look at the floor. He lifts my chin, making me look at him and I see Alexandros come forth, telling me this as much as Athanasios himself does.
“You are, Ava. My ómorfi moiraía sýntrofo.”