THE UNSEEN IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE ON MY WEBSTORE!
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Sadly, we will not be selling at Barnes and Noble for the time being. You can read why here: https://theaharrison.com/the-unseen-many-updates-and-the-blurb/
And now for the final snippet from THE UNSEEN! The novella will be available at most major ebook retails on Tuesday.
Please remember that when I post unedited draft work, it’s all subject to change or deletion. Anything you read will very likely contain typos and grammar issues that will be addressed during the editing process. For that reason, please don’t post this in other places. Happy reading!
THE UNSEEN, Chapter Two (continued)
The rain came down in earnest now, and was threatening to turn into an outright storm, with lightning flickered in the distance. While his tough dragon’s hide provided all the shelter he needed, the woman and the dog he carried couldn’t repel the weather quite so easily. He shielded them as best he could with both front paws, and after he had landed on their front lawn and shapeshifted back into a man, he scooped the dog out of her arms, and they ran for shelter.
Once inside, she headed for the kitchen and he followed. She turned brisk and businesslike. “Please put him on the counter.”
Her blue eyes flashed, but her tone remained patient. “I know he is. Put him on the counter anyway. It can be cleaned later. I want to trim off that tangled fur while he’s quiet. You can keep him asleep for me, can’t you?”
“Of course.” Dragos laid the animal on the counter.
“Thank you, my love.” She reached up to give him a kiss, and some of his crankiness faded. “I’m going to make you a drink. Do you want coffee, tea, or brandy?”
One of the eternally fascinating aspects of mating and marriage was the infinite complexity and variety of their communication with each other. On the surface, Pia simply asked him if he wanted a drink, but in reality what she communicated was much more nuanced.
He took a moment to puzzle it out. Right now, she was both praising him for helping to rescue the dog and soothing his irritability at thwarting his attempt to foist the dog onto someone else.
Was she placating him because she was apologetic? No, that went too far. She had drawn a line, and she wasn’t sorry about it. But she was offering to reward him for letting her have her way.
Communicating with Pia could be every bit as complicated as dealing with inter-demesne relations. It also had the added bonus of being much more enjoyable. Pleased that he was (almost) certain he had figured it all out, he replied mildly, “I’ll take a brandy.”
She smiled. “Keep an eye on him until I get back, okay?”
“Sure.” Laying his hand on the dog’s torso, he scanned to make sure it was still deeply asleep.
Within a few moments, she returned with his brandy and a pair of scissors, and as he took a seat at the kitchen table, she unwrapped the sleeping dog and trimmed around its muzzle and face. After that, she lifted its tail to clip the hair around its rear end. Sipping his brandy, he watched her work.
After a moment, she remarked, “His collar says his name is Skeeter. I think he might be a Cockapoo? With maybe another breed mixed in. He has the bones of a good haircut. She must have had him groomed, maybe six weeks ago. He’s definitely due for another one. And of course, he had a bit of an incontinence problem in the house, poor baby.”
The brandy was one of his favorites and slid down his throat like golden fire. Casually, he offered, “I can hire someone to look after it full time, you know.”
Her blue gaze lifted from the dog, and she looked at him from underneath lowered brows. He returned her regard with a bland stare of his own. Pia wasn’t the only one who could say several things with one statement.
“Him.” Her tone had turned implacable. “Not it.”
Pinching the bridge of his nose, he had to concede that point. “Him.”
She turned back to her job. After she finished grooming the dog, she picked him up to lay him gently on the floor. Then she swept the clippings into the trash bin, cleaned the scissors and the countertop with disinfectant, and washed her hands. Clearly, her mind was busy at work on something. “We got Liam a puppy. Maybe we should have one for Niall too.”
“Liam took responsibility for his dog,” Dragos pointed out. “Niall is still just a baby.”
There was a wall clearly visible in those beautiful blue eyes of hers, and it was swiftly growing to a width and breadth that rivaled the Wall of China. “Niall might grow every bit as quickly as Liam did.”
“Niall hasn’t yet shown us what he’s capable of. Plus, the last thing we need is for him to stab the dog or set him on fire.”
“He wouldn’t,” Pia said with conviction. “We wouldn’t let him.” She filled one bowl with water, and the other with dog food. “We can’t keep Skeeter unconscious forever. You need to get him to eat and drink a bit more, then take him out.”
“I am not calling any creature Skeeter,” Dragos said. “And how did looking after him suddenly become my responsibility?”
Pia scowled. “He has lost his person and his home, and he hasn’t eaten for three days. You can keep him calm, and you can encourage him to eat and drink, so you can get him through the worst of the changes he has to face when he wakes up.”
She might have a point, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. “Fine,” he snapped. “We’re still leaving for Rhyacia in the morning.”
“I didn’t say we weren’t, my love.” As she reached up to kiss him, the front doorbell rang. Her scowl returned. “Who on earth could that be at this time of night?” Dragos spun toward the hall, but she caught his arm before he could escape. “You take care of Skeeter, and I’ll go answer it.”
She was not going to let him off the hook. He growled, “Fine.”
“Thank you, my love,” she murmured softly.
Damn it. Every time she used that tone of voice, he turned into a sucker. This woman had more power over him than anything else on earth. Succumbing to the inevitable, he gave her a swift kiss then turned his attention to his current albatross.
Crouching, he waked the dog gently. It still needed a bath, but it smelled better after Pia had given it a hygiene trim. As it sat up, he infused his words with Power again, as he murmured, “Be calm.” Whining, the dog licked his hand and shivered. He cupped the side of its head. It was too small and stringy to consider as a snack. “Eat, drink. All is well.”
When the dog obeyed, Dragos kept most of his attention on Pia as she answered the door. Not that he was concerned. While they enjoyed a great deal of privacy in the evenings, they did not live alone. Guards, the house staff, and grounds keepers resided in various buildings all around them. And besides, Dragos had erected his own wards all over the property. If whoever stood on their front doorstep meant to do them harm, he felt a high degree of certainty that he would know about it.
Still, anyone knocking on their door in the middle of the night had a story to tell, and chances were good that story would not be a usual one. He heard the hinges of the door creak as Pia opened it.
The fresh, wet scent of rain blew down the hall and into the kitchen, along with the astonishment in Pia’s voice. “Aryal! Niniane?”
“Pia!” Niniane exclaimed. “It’s so good to see you! I was afraid you might have left for Rhyacia before I could get here.”
Aryal and Niniane were here?
Niniane was a little slip of a Dark Fae woman who used to go by the nickname Tricks. She had lived as a refugee in his demesne (when it had been his demesne) for many years. Now, she had taken her rightful place as Queen of the Dark Fae and ruled in the Other land of Adriyel. Tiago, who had once been one of Dragos’s Wyr sentinels, had mated with her and left New York to go live with her.
The dog had finished gulping down its meal. Dragos strode to the kitchen door, opened it, and ordered, “Out. Do your business.”
The dog dashed out. Dragos barely paid attention. He was focused on the conversation going on at the front of the house.
Adriyel was some distance way, with crossover passageways that connected it to Chicago. Niniane and Aryal arriving together were not such an outlandish proposition, since they’d once been thick as thieves, but what was Niniane doing here? And why had she come without Tiago?
There was a shuffle of footsteps on the hardwood floor, and a rustle of clothing. Dragos’s imagination suggested hugging and such.
“It’s wonderful to see you!” Pia said. “But what are you doing here?”
Niniane giggled—or sobbed?—and said, “I’ve decided to go with you.”
“What?” Pia said.
Aryal snapped, “You what?”
Out on the lawn, Skeeter had taken care of his business with remarkable promptness. He must have had to go for some time. Dragos snapped his fingers at the dog. “Inside. Now.”
Lifting its leg one last time, Skeeter dashed into the kitchen. Dragos shut the door and strode to the front of the house, the dog at his heels.
It was just as he suspected. The arrivals on their front doorstep had a story to tell.
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