As Pia got ready for bed, nerves tied her stomach up in knots. She wasn’t used to feeling nervous about going to bed. Excited, sure. Delighted, definitely. The intimate times she shared with Dragos in the bedroom were some of her happiest experiences.
And it wasn’t just about the sex, although God knows that was as mind blowing as it had ever been. It was about the cuddling and letting down their barriers. In bed, Dragos was the most relaxed he ever got. He would always have a certain sharpness, because that was an endemic part of his personality, but alone with Pia, he was able to open up and let a more tender side out.
She knew, without a doubt, that she and Liam were the only ones that saw that part of him—and even then, Liam only to a certain extent.
She slipped into a short nightie, even though wearing a nightgown to bed usually didn’t last very long, and padded with bare feet into the bedroom.
Dragos was already in bed reading, the top edge of the sheet casually pooled around his hips. She purred mentally as she looked at him. He never wore a shirt to bed, and he rarely wore silk boxers.
The tremendous musculature of his bare chest and shoulders was her favorite resting place in the entire world. As she slipped under the covers and slid over to him, he set aside his book and pulled her into his arms. She nuzzled into him and let their legs entwine. His scent and warmth wrapped around her, more comforting than a down blanket, and far more exciting.
She said, “I wish we had thought to try this with Liam when he was a peanut.”
“I do too. But at least we’re trying it now.” He reached out one long arm to turn off the bedside lamp and turned back to her. “Are you ready?”
“You bet,” she told him. Then immediately doubts assailed her, and she said quickly, “Wait.”
He lifted his head to look at her. Moonlight slipped into the bedroom, cool and subtle, and in its faint illumination, his shadowed gold eyes appeared especially witchy.
She was about to succumb to one of his most insidious spells, the very first one he had cast against her when he had thought she was his enemy.
The spell wasn’t what concerned her. While it had disturbed her deeply at the time, in retrospect she LOVED that first spell.
Even in repose, Dragos was dominant, and his fierce energy boiled around him in an invisible corona. That was what concerned her. Try as Dragos might to be low key and gentle, the new little life that was burgeoning inside of her was skittish, contrary and pretty fierce too.
Was it possible for Dragos and a magical embryo to butt heads?
Biting back a snort at the thought, she said, “Remember, Stinkpot is skittish even with me. I don’t know how he’ll be with you—if he even shows up in the dream—so it will be extra important for you to be as low key as you possibly can.”
And he’s a baby. He’s just a dreaming baby.
“I got it,” Dragos said. “Don’t worry. I won’t frighten him.”
Laughter threatened to take over. She told him as seriously as she could, “I’m not sure you would frighten him so much as piss him off. You’ve never been in any of our dreams so far, and he might feel a bit territorial.”
“Pia, he’s barely older than a zygote. I know your dreams with the kids are sometimes prophetic, so you catch glimpses of how they’re going to look and behave, but—how territorial can he really be?”
“Well, I don’t know, Dragos,” she replied. “How territorial do you think YOU would be about me? Only of course in a “that’s my mommy” way, not in a “that’s my mate” kind of way.”
He paused. “I get your point. Okay, I’ll be as low key as I can, and if it appears that he is distressed in any way, I’ll pull out of the dream.”
“Thank you,” she whispered.
He kissed her on the forehead and began to whisper. Magic curled around her like smoke. Before she knew it, her eyelids grew heavy and she fell asleep.
When she came to awareness, she was barefoot in a diaphanous dress… Oh my God, really? How ridiculous, except it was lovely….in their favorite clearing by the lake, just a few hundred yards away from the house.
Dragos was already present, lying on his back several yards away. He wore shorts and a T-shirt, but he was barefoot as well. The sun was high in a blue sky, covering the scene with warmth.
She took a handful of the poofy skirt and shook it in his direction. “This dress is almost transparent.”
He turned his head toward her and gave her a lazy smile. “Hey, it’s my dream too.”
She chuckled and walked to the water’s edge to dip her feet in. The water was cool and refreshing against her bare skin. They waited, lounging several yards apart, in the heat of a dream afternoon.
Just when she thought they should give up, she heard a rustle in the brush underneath the nearby trees and had to fight to keep from dancing in glee. Gently, she crooned, “Did you hear that? He might be here.”
“Mmhm,” Dragos replied softly.
He didn’t move, and Pia held her breath.
The rustle sounded again, closer to Pia this time. Would he sneak out like he had the first time she connected with him, or would he be too scared with Dragos here?
Stinkpot did neither.
Suddenly a small equine form galloped into the clearing. It plunged to an ungainly halt between Pia and Dragos, facing Dragos. It was bronze in color and roughly the size of a large housecat or small dog, with too long legs and a head that was too large for its small body yet neverless gracefully formed. On the wide forehead was a slender, shapely horn.
As they stared, the small form stamped his foot at Dragos and blew out a fierce breath. Bright flame flared out of one curled nostril, along with a puff of smoke.
Pia clapped both hands over her mouth. In a strangled, trembling voice, she asked, “Do you think he’s protecting me?”
Dragos’s gold eyes flared. Something unpredictable hovered in the air. Suddenly he exploded in a guffaw.
The small foal startled. Throwing one wild glance over his shoulder at Pia, it bolted for the woods.
“No,” she cried softly. “Come back.”
But her youngest son, aka Stinkpot, was nowhere to be seen.
“I’m sorry,” Dragos gasped, his face suffused.
Then she couldn’t hold her own laughter back. The dream wavered and disappeared, and they both woke up, still laughing. Hugging her, Dragos said, “That was priceless. I’m just sorry he ran.”
She wiped her face. “That’s okay. I don’t think he was scared, quite. Just surprised.”
“Can we try it again tomorrow night?”
“I’d love to,” she told him. “It might take several visits for him to get used to you.”
“I can’t wait,” Dragos said. He tilted her onto her back and came over her. His voice deepening, he asked, “For now, whatever will we do with the rest of our night?”
“Something tells me you might have an idea?” she wound her arms around his neck.
“I do, indeed.”
As his mouth came down over hers, she thought, I am a lucky, lucky girl. It was her last coherent thought for the night.