Friday, August 31, 2012

Mate Healer by Amber Kell


Lian Blythorpe avoids entanglements. Nevair Dragonfang is deeply entrenched by them. When they meet, their outlooks change and they forge a bond. But not everyone is happy with that outcome.

His parents' violent ending makes Lian Blythorpe vow to keep things light between himself and any partner. His promise is abandoned when he meets Nevair Dragonfang, the religious leader for an entire planet. One glance into Nevair's intense gaze and Lian melts. It only takes them coming together one time for Lian to find himself captured by his sexy mate to the point where he can't imagine life without him. Unfortunately, not everyone is pleased with their bond and one man's jealousy sends Lian to a trial by fire he may not survive.

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Nevair Dragonfang sat in his large wooden chair and contemplated the wall. As Prime Pontifex of the planet of Dragait, Nevair served as religious advisor for the four planetary kings. Every Pontifex before him had kept the most current picture of the planetary rulers on the wall to keep them humble. To remind the religious heads they served not only the goddess, but also the people.

Nevair needed to update his collection. The kings were finding their mates and they should be added to the wall of pictures. Next to King Raiston, Nevair needed to add the king's mate Joriah Eprion and their third, Duke Klarian. Nevair still had reservations about a triad working out well but as both dragons claimed Jory, Nevair agreed to sanction their relationship and had performed the marriage ceremony himself. He had to approve their bonding despite his personal misgivings because Joriah's mother, the planet's goddess, accepted her son's mates. Nevair refused to go against the will of a goddess. Nothing good had ever come of that.

King Naron's new mate Tor, a duke in his own right, also needed a picture made. The man, bonded with a space dragon, was probably the most interesting person Nevair had ever met. Tor suffered from the restrictions of both his sight and his dragon, but bore it gracefully and still helped negotiate difficult treaties between planets.

Nevair had no doubt King Avin's son Prince Kaemon would find a mate soon and take over the throne. Until then, Avin would remain alone on the wall.

When he came to the last king, Nevair sighed. King Zeir was the only dragon ruler living in a tropical habitat. Desert covered three quarters of the planet of Dragait, with the remaining quarter being tropical forest. Years ago, King Zeir had lost his mate to a terrible accident, sending his dragon into a downward spiral. Under the crushing pain of his sorrow, the king turned feral and took most of his people with him. No one travelled to the tropical forest any more. To enter would be to embrace death.

Because of King Zeir's reaction, many dragon people now hesitated before taking a mate. No one wanted to be like the half-crazed dragon king who lost connection with his humanity over a century ago.

When he'd first come to his position Nevair had tried to seek out King Zeir. The teleportation pad in his office allowed Nevair to go anywhere on the planet in an instant. He'd barely escaped with his life and a particularly nasty scar on his back attested to his adventures. He regretted not being able to help the king and still prayed to the goddess for guidance. Now that Joriah had married his men, maybe she'd be more open to helping him out.

Rolling his head on his shoulders, Nevair looked out over the city. By tradition, the cathedral sat at the point where King Avin, King Raiston and King Naron's territories met. Each of the three kingdoms was represented equally and Nevair always wondered if King Zeir's land had touched the cathedral, too, he might not have lost his way.

A knock at the door distracted him from his solemn thoughts.

"Come in."

Trestair Dragonwing, Nevair's assistant and best friend, entered the room. "Are we having our afternoon mope?"

"I'm not moping. I'm thinking." He refused to mention he'd spent the afternoon fixating on his failures.

"Uh, huh." Tres's blond hair flopped over his face. He brushed it back with a practiced motion.

"Why don't you get your hair cut and stop bugging me?" Nevair asked crossly.

Tres smiled. "Because I'm paid to bug you and I wouldn't be half as sexy without my long hair."

Nevair laughed. "Who said you're sexy now?"

"Every guy I hit on at the bars." Tres gave Nevair a dimpled grin.

Some days Nevair wished he felt comfortable going off to bars to get laid, but he planned to keep himself pure for his mate. Probably a silly conviction, but one he'd decided on at a young age and had never met anyone tempting enough to get him to break that promise.

We are special. We will wait. The soft voice of Nevair's dragon whispered in his head like a quiet dream. Like all the Pontifex before him, Nevair's dragon lived like a separate being inside him. Nevair had a closer connection to his dragon than most dragonkin.

He shook his head as he considered Tres's dating habits. To put it politely, his friend could only be described as a man-slut. Tres considered an empty bed a sign of personal failure. Luckily the Dragait goddess didn't care who her disciples bedded as long as they were happy. Nevair had heard stories from Pontifex on other planets about goddesses who preferred their worshippers pure and insisted they take vows of chastity. Nevair wondered sometimes if he wouldn't do better at one of those planets. Although he didn't know for sure what he wanted in a life partner, when he finally met him, Nevair knew his dragon would let him know.

Tres scowled. "It's romantic bullshit to wait for your one true mate. What if you never meet him? You'd rather live and die alone?"

Nevair smiled. "I know we differ on this, Tres, but if you haven't changed my mind over the past twenty years, why do you think you will now?"

Curiosity had Nevair examining Tres more closely. A plain tailored black suit fit his friend's rangy body and despite its constant flopping, his haircut flattered the sharp lines of his face. Tres appeared as plain as his suit until his smiled. His dimpled grin had tempted many admirers into his bed. Luckily, Nevair had grown up next door to Tres and his friend's expressions had no effect on his libido. Instead of bedmates they'd become good friends and although they each disapproved of the other's sexual habits, or lack of them in Nevair's case, they generally respected the other's decisions.

Tres raked a hand through his hair. "You're a beautiful man moldering in this office. You need to get out and meet more people. Look, I found a conference for you. It's to discuss the latest techniques in dealing with gods and kings. They even named it the Gods and Kings conference." He held out a compad with a scrolling brochure on the screen.

Nevair laughed. "Great name."

"And it's being held on Sizan, the pleasure planet. Gambling, half-dressed men, and all the rich foods you can eat." Tres waved the tablet towards Nevair.

"And the conference," Nevair said dryly.

Tres shrugged. "Yeah, you could go to that, too, if you wanted."

Sighing, Nevair took the device to review the conference lectures. "This does look pretty good. They even have a lecture on goddess persuasion techniques." Nevair knew he didn't try to influence Dragait's goddess as much as he should.

"Ahh, don't be too hard on yourself, Nevair. She likes you better than anyone else."

"That doesn't mean she listens," Nevair argued.

"Yeah, but now you can threaten to tell Jory on her. That boy might look sweet, but he's sharper than a dragon tooth and twice as dangerous," Tres pointed out.

Nevair silently agreed. He wouldn't say something like that out loud. He never knew when the goddess might be listening, and bad-mouthing her son wouldn't win him any points.

Looking around his room, Nevair made a decision. "I'll go. It's past time I stepped out of my comfort zone. The goddess always says to grow you must experience more of life."

"Hmm, she might have meant in bed," Tres teased.

"For you, everything involves the bed." Nevair rolled his eyes.

"There's a reason I'm always in a good mood." Tres laughed. "Take your surly self to a planet of decadence. Maybe you will come back a changed man."

Nevair didn't know that he especially wanted to be changed, but he did want to get away for a bit and refresh his soul. Sometimes escaping everyday life now and then made all the difference.

Amber Kell
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