Taulan (Dragons of Preor Book 2)(6)

By: Celia Kyle & Erin Tate

A fight he wished he could have seen. But he’d still been unconscious, still held in stasis while the healers… tried to find an answer that would never appear. It wasn’t long after that bloody fight that Taulan was brought out of the healing sleep, body repaired yet missing parts.

Missing wings.

He’d gone from Taulan sen Pavon, Primary Warrior to Jarek joi Melissa, War Master of the Third Preor Fleet, to simply… Taulan, son of no one, beloved by none. No one had demoted him—yet—but he’d lost that integral part of himself when two explosions rocked the Preor ship. They shook the entire vessel and injured or killed many when all was said and done. Senseless violence. Stupidity. Ignorance. Choose any descriptor and it would apply to those who’d attempted to interfere in the alliance between the Preor, Ujal, and Earth.

Melissa’s gaze fell on Taulan, her anger softening slightly before she turned her attention farther south—to the youngling still clinging to his leg. “Theresa Melissa fa’Vyl-Zeret.”

So many names for such a little female. Then he recalled War Mistress Melissa’s words. “What the Preor desire isn’t about taking mates. It’s about blending our lives together just as the Ujal and humans have in the past. The Knowing allows us to find each other, but compromise will be what ties us.”

Compromise. A strange thing for a Preor to consider. Especially when it was put alongside the Knowing.

The Knowing. The genetic recognition between a male and female that identified them as mates. It also granted the couple the genetic knowledge of the Preor people. Every event, every thought, every question, would be answered in a moment by the Knowing. It brought the couple closer than any human marriage and gave them the tools to form a relationship that would withstand the passage of time. It… was a thing he would never experience for himself. It was why he’d come to Preor Tower, why he’d requested entrance and why he still waited for War Master Jarek.

Finding a match on Earth was an impossibility, especially after losing his wings. He was no longer a worthy male. Not when he was unable to take to the skies and defend his mate if necessary.

Taulan smiled down at the youngling, hiding his envy while he ran his fingers through the young one’s hair. He ruffled her curls and treasured Theresa’s laugh. “You must listen to Miss Meli, young one.”

That smile turned into a tiny frown, her bow-shaped lips forming a small pucker. She would be dangerous when she came of age. She would have every male sniffing after her even if the male knew Theresa was not their mate. All would still crave a taste of the older fa’Vyl-Zeret. Theresa turned her attention to Melissa, and the youngling smiled widely until her dimples appeared.

“Miss Meli, I’s saying hi to Unca’ Taulan.”

Uncle Taulan even though he was not much more than a stranger. Yet in a short time, he’d become ensnared by Jarek and Melissa, by the Ujal prince and his principessa—by Theresa herself. Tave and Rina fa’Vyl-Zeret welcomed him with open arms, and he’d gone from simply Taulan to Uncle Taulan.

Melissa did not appear to be accepting of the youngling’s explanation. “Uh-huh. Inside, young lady. Just because Uncle Taulan is out here doesn’t make it okay for you to barrel into him. What if the railing hadn’t been secure? What if you’d hit him and it gave way? He doesn’t…”

Her voice trailed off at the end, but he knew her next words even if she didn’t put them to voice.

He doesn’t have wings.

The reminder brought him back to one of the reasons for his visit. Jarek. Preor. Home.

Taulan reached down, grasped young Theresa, and hoisted her into his arms. He curled one so she could rest on his forearm, and she quickly encircled his neck. Her laugh bounced off the walls and echoed through the air, and he found himself smiling with the young one’s joy. “Come, let us go inside and stop scaring your Miss Meli.” He could not call the War Mistress by her true name. It seemed like a betrayal to speak with such familiarity. He was a warrior—a Primary Warrior, but a warrior, still. He did not have the right to speak the word. “If you are good, I will—“

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