Fire Riders 1: Taming the Fire

Mechele Armstrong
Available from Loose Id

Two dragons stood where two men had been a moment before. They took up a lot more space. Their massive bodies almost touched now where Callum and Byron had been a lot farther apart.

She'd never seen anything so miraculous. Not even the birth of an animal or seed could compare to this. She held both of those things as bona fide miracles, so this was even more spectacular.

Byron's dragon was huge. In the dim light, it was hard to see, but she thought he was a glossy black. He had enormous wings that spread out behind him. They were curved like angel's wings, only much bigger. They were probably bigger than she was. He was a glorious dragon who emitted power from every fiber of his being. His nostrils flared as he sniffed the air.

Callum's dragon was as different as the men were from each other. He was much lighter, almost a golden hue in color, and more limber. His wings were smaller but came to a pointed tip as though he could fly fast. His entire body spoke of speed, while Byron's spoke about fighting. They matched each other as perfectly as dragons as they did in human form.

They were magnificent creatures. She'd never imagined such beauty in them. Never paid attention to the dragon part of the dragon riders. Such glory poured from them both. She'd never seen their like and probably never would again. They took her breath away.

By asking her there, Byron had given her a great gift. She'd now seen a dragon up close and gotten to see the change. He'd shared with her in an intimate way. A most intimate way. Both

Byron and Callum had shared as much as they could of a part of their life that not many knew about. They'd taken her into their lives as much as they could. Such beauty; how could these two creatures be evil? Her heart pounded at the knowledge she'd been given.

They weren't taking off like the rest of the dragons. Wingbeats split the air, making it hard to hear. Soon only the three of them were left on the rooftop. The other dragons had all winged away to find their fights.

Why weren't they taking off? Instead of taking flight, they stood there staring at her as if memorizing every feature.

She blinked as Byron's dragon swung his head her way. He dipped down that massive neck and looked her over. His breath blew against her, hot as a summer wind before a forest fire. The breath blew her dress, which billowed around her. He smelled of woods and smoke, not a bad combination.

Callum's head came in for an even closer dip. His face almost touched her body. Instead of the heat of his breath, she could feel the heat from the man.

Dragon riders don't eat people, do they? She tried to think about any stories she'd read on them, but she'd never known of many humans watching their change. She couldn't think of any stories of dragon riders eating humans, but Callum and Byron wouldn't hurt her either. She didn't back away.

Both sets of nostrils flared as though they were taking in a scent. Their lips curled as they took their time sniffing the air around her. She felt their breath as they sucked in, and then felt it expel.

They were smelling her.

Smelling her.

Byron had taken one last whiff when he was a human to familiarize his senses with her aroma. Now the two dragons crowded as close to her as they could get, smelling her all the while, as if to get her scent deeper within them. Did they recognize her? They seemed to.

How much did they retain of their human selves when they changed? Did they know her? Or was the scent merely triggering something like recognition? Like they knew the scent but not who she was? She was going to have to read up on dragon rider lore and behavior after this experience.

Byron's dragon snorted before lifting that massive head. He caught her gaze and nodded while bringing his head down. The eyes were huge and staring. They were Byron's eyes. Though bigger, they were still the eyes of the man.

In that gaze, she saw recognition. He knew who she was and let her know he knew. She nodded back to him.

He lowered his head again as if bowing to her. He dipped his face toward her and stayed there, watching her.

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