Sid grabbed the two cups of coffee from Damon, Ella’s son. She owned the Purple Dragon, but she’d basically retired a few years ago. Her husband, Freddie, loved to travel and she wanted to go with him. She also didn’t need the money anymore since Freddie’s software on dragon tracking had made them multi-millionaires. But she still made Damon work, something he complained about frequently.
“You going to watch Liam fight tonight?” Damon asked.
Sid flinched. He hated the way they talked about it. It wasn’t really fighting, but his son had taken up with the dragon warriors and was often found fighting in the training fields.
“I don’t know. Maybe. You?”
Damon gave a smile that reminded Sid of Ella. “I never miss one.”
“Well, make sure he doesn’t get hurt.” He knew Liam wouldn’t really get hurt. He never did. Well, not seriously anyway.
Damon chuckled. “You know I can’t do that. It’s a good thing you and Aspen can heal him.”
Damon wasn’t kidding. After every fight, Liam came home with cuts and bruises, but he loved it so Sid didn’t stop him. He was seventeen, and Sid wasn’t sure he could stop his son even if he wanted to.
Well, he was king, so he could, but he’d never been a dictator.
Liam was something they never thought was possible. A king had never had offspring. He wasn’t sure what was different with him and Aspen, but they had a child. He’d expected it to just be human, but at two, they’d walked into his room and discovered a small dragon instead of a screaming toddler. Some of Skye and Val’s kids were the same. As dragons they would have matured slowly, not coming to age until about fifty, but their children matured as humans. So even though to him, it felt like Liam was still a little boy, he was nearly a man.
Sid joined Aspen at a small table. The Purple Dragon was crowded, but she’d still managed to find a table.
Two tables over, a wide-eyed ten-year-old boy stared at him. Sid winked, and the kid ducked his head. He was used to being watched and had learned to ignore it.
Aspen took her coffee and inhaled. She was still gorgeous all these years later. He couldn’t believe twenty-two years had passed. She’d cut her hair short, had laugh lines around her eyes, and moved slower than she once had. But she was still a daredevil and went to all of Liam’s fights, cheering him on.
“Why didn’t you tell me about Liam’s fight tonight?” Sid asked, taking a sip of his own latte.
She shrugged. “You don’t like to go.”
“True.” He didn’t like watching them even though the fights were necessary. They had to keep up their skills in the event of another war. The last war had wiped out several dragon races and they couldn’t risk anything like that again. But he hated the spectacle of the matches. Everything with his kingdom was a spectacle these days.
“Besides, I thought you had a council meeting tonight to discuss the search for hidden dragons.”
Sid sighed. There had been stories of dragons hiding out in various places. The most worrisome rumor was about a few surviving arctic dragons, but so far nothing had come of it. He worried that there was a few of them planning revenge. But he and the council had sent a few scouts all over the world.
In general the dragons longed for the day when the sky would be graced with a rainbow of colors again, but they’d only managed to find the fire eggs along with the green and purple ones. Green and Purple were the colors that when combined made up the woodland dragons. They knew very little about them other than they had originally came over from Europe. Of course they had the eggs of the surviving races—royal, river, and underground. But they had yet to find Arctic and Canyon eggs.
All the scouts had reported to him already except the one who’d gone to Europe. No one found anything. This council meeting would be useless.
He hated meetings. Even the useful ones.
The kid was staring at him again.
“Whatcha looking at?” Aspen asked and swiveled around.
The kid ducked again, but this time, his parents noticed. They grinned.
“We should go say hi,” Aspen said.
Sid nodded. He loved kids, but he and Aspen had only had one. Val and Hazel had three, and Skye and Rowan had ten, with another one on the way. Rowan said he wanted to make it an even dozen. It was a madhouse at their home.
Sid and Aspen got up and stopped at the kid’s table.
Sid crouched down next to him. “What’s your name?”
“Do you like dragons?” Sid asked.
Eli nodded vigorously.
“Well, if it’s okay with your parents, how would you like a ride?”
Eli’s mouth fell open and he bounced in his seat.
“Sure, you can go,” his dad said.
Sid followed Eli and his family outside and grinned. This was one of Sid’s favorite things to do.
Life was good.
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