Soul Fire(3)

By: Juliette Cross

“Um, isn’t this owned by the Nightwing clan?” asked Ella, sandwiched between us.

“Yep,” I replied.

Sorcha added more sway to her walk. “Awesome.”

Though the exterior reeked of an ancient time, an electric blue sign burned above a black door—Tonight: Red Dream. My heart skittered at the sight of the man checking IDs. I’d never seen a Morgon this close. We’d had a guest speaker in my Multicultural Literature class, but the Morgon woman, a poet, stood on the stage a good distance from the audience.

This guy was huge, a wall of bulging muscles. His brawny physique wasn’t what kept the three of us riveted to the spot. Massive wings—leathery, jagged, and magnificent—held us spellbound. The man cleared his throat to get our attention, gesturing inside with a crooked smile. “Welcome, ladies.”

“Such a gentleman,” said Sorcha, batting her bedroom eyes. As we stumbled into the club, she grabbed my shoulder and leaned in. “I think I’m in love.”

“Slow down, Sorcha. There are plenty more inside.”

Sure enough, there were. Sorcha bee-lined for the bar. I followed, scanning the décor. I’d never been inside a Morgon building. Maintaining the Gothic style in black leather seating, low-lit sconces, and wide, gold-trimmed mirrors on every wall, the space didn’t feel stifling or closed-in as expected. Rather the opposite. The bar lined one side of the ground floor, the stage the other. The center of the room was the dance floor that opened all the way up to the tenth floor. The skylight in the ceiling framed a deep, inky night. On both sides of the club, wide stairwells spiraled upward. Wrought iron railings barricaded each floor, maintaining the sense of open space. I was standing at the bottom of a giant birdcage. I smiled to myself. Of course I was.

“Jess! Come here!”

I’d stopped midway to the bar, stunned by the vast and opulent interior. A throng of Morgon men surrounded Sorcha and Ella. Oh, hell, Sorcha. Ella looked like she was about to bolt, a frightened rabbit hemmed in by wolves. I sauntered up, well aware my body drew attention. Though not as voluptuous as Sorcha, I stood much taller. With black wavy hair brushing my hips, I straightened, thankful for my gift of height. In a biology book on Morgons, which I’d smuggled from the library in my teen years, I’d learned the average height of an adult Morgon male was six-foot-seven. The average. Just like the one with platinum blond hair currently raking me with hungry eyes.

“This is my friend, Jessen,” Sorcha introduced. She turned to the two chestnut-haired Morgons on her other side. “This is Conn and Corbin Rowanflame. They’re twins.” Sorcha winked. They nodded in unison with identical expressions of my-mouth-would-make-your-knees-buckle. I didn’t doubt it. I nodded in greeting, examining the deep russet hue of their wings. Sorcha turned to the platinum blond whose ravenous gaze didn’t waver for a second. “This is—”

“Slade Silverback,” he interrupted, taking my hand and sweeping a kiss across the knuckles. His wings shimmered silver-gray under the lights.

“Is it true each clan is named for their wings?” I asked.

He kept my hand in his, pulling me closer. “Yes. It’s true. The coloring is distinct to each clan. The dragon inside us is patriarchal.” He puffed up his chest. “Children always have the wings of the father.”

I tilted my head. “What happens when a Morgon woman marries…um, I mean heartbonds, to a Morgon of another clan?”

He leaned closer, too close. “Her wings change color to match her mate’s.”

“Because of soulfire, right?”

He didn’t answer my question. “Why don’t you let me take you flying? I could make you soar.” Silver wings twitched at his invitation.

Did these cheese-ball lines actually work for him?

He kept inching into my space. Though he assumed I was flirting, I wasn’t. I’d always been curious about Morgons, their more personal information forbidden to us. This was my first flesh-and-blood conversation with one, and he was stripping me naked with glittering green eyes. “I’m sure you think you could, but no thanks.”

“Whoohoo! Come here, Jess.” Saved by Sorcha.

I scooted up to the bar between her and Conn, avoiding the too-close attentions of Slade. The bartender, a young human woman about our age, lined the bar with shots, each glass in front of a pint of beer.

“What’s this?” I asked.

Corbin winked and gestured for us to step away. “Watch, ladies.”

We shuffled back a foot. Corbin sucked in a lungful of air, held it a second, then blew a stream of flame from his mouth along the row of shot glasses. Ella squeaked. Sorcha laughed, throwing her head back. I marveled with a smile as a line of red-orange flame licked and lit the top of each glass. Fire danced around the rims as if Corbin controlled it. He grinned, making me wonder if he did. “Drop the glass in the beer and down the hatch. Quick!”

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