I perked up and started searching for the sandy blond head. "Where?"
Desperation laced my voice, and I pulled against Rhaelgyr's hold. The
crowd was thickening, flowing faster, and I could barely pick out
individuals before they were gone.
The dragon started sniffing the air, slowly turning to a tall building
behind us. "He's just gone inside, with two others."
"The slaver?" I grabbed Tessa, ready to head over as soon as Rhaelgyr moved.
"I would assume so. Only one female, and she reeks of human." He
opened his eyes, staring at me. "I believe that's a sex den."
My mouth went dry, a blush rising to my cheeks. "Like a brothel?"
His wicked smile framed his pointed teeth again. If he latched on,
there'd be no getting free without being torn up. "More like a big
orgy. Everyone brings their pets, and put them through various sexual
scenarios, and trade them amongst owners. Steven may not come back
out of there." Blue eyes darted toward Tessa. "If she goes in, she
will be assumed to be a party favor."
The human stiffened, clinging to my arm. I kept myself between her
and Rhaelgyr, though he hadn't directly threatened her. Thinking
about Tessa being passed around and used wasn't appealing, and
incensed me deeply. "But she can't be left unattended."
"You could just leave her if she's holding you back." Rhaelgyr's
voice was low, his eyes boring into mine; he meant it.
Tessa whimpered, but I didn't take my eyes off the dragon. He was
challenging me, testing my resolve, and I couldn't show weakness. "I
promised to get her out of Between if she showed me the troll market.
I intend to follow through." Hopefully compassion wasn't weak in
Letting go of my arm, Rhaelgyr's aura loomed over me again. I felt
how small I was compared to him. One dagger-sharp talon was almost as
long as I was tall. His venom would burn me to a crisp in a matter of
heartbeats. I was nothing compared to him.
Clenching my teeth, I stepped close to him, glaring. He couldn't
overwhelm me; I wouldn't let him. "I'm going to help Tessa, as well
as Steven." Rhaelgyr started to speak, and I carried on right over
him. "I tell you again; if you don't like it, you can piss off."
He burst out laughing, his aura dying down. "You're very spunky,
Setian. Maybe you're part dragon."
"Not hardly." I was still miffed, couldn't see the humor in the
situation. Tessa was trembling again, but I still didn't want to turn
my back on Rhaelgyr. Just because he was smiling now didn't mean he
wasn't dangerous, wasn't about to tear me up.
Rhaelgyr suddenly barked out a command, and the proprietor waddled
over. They spoke in a language I didn't know, the shorter man of
mixed heritage staring at Tessa, then finally nodding.
The dragon gestured at the bar. "Tessa will stay here, and work for
Gerther. Once we finish retrieving Steven, we will pick her back up."
"I don't want ti be left here," Tessa whispered. I finally turned to
face her, and found tears in her eyes once more. I wondered if all
humans faced their problems by crying. "It's either that, or you get
fucked by anyone that takes a fancy to you." Maybe a little vulgar
language would get her mind working.
"You're coming back?" She was growing more plaintive, and I fought
back my frustration. A little voice taunted me that it was compassion
that had me in this predicament, and I told it to shut up.
"Of course I am." I smiled brightly, ruffling her hair. "I'm just
going to get my friend, and then we go home. Can you wait that long?"
Tessa modded, chewing her lip, and shuffled toward Gerther. Sighing,
I followed Rhaelgyr toward the sex den. What the hell had I gotten
The dragon linked his ark with mine, and leaned over to whisper in my
ear. "You do realize you're going as my pet?"