(Rhianna Montclair is sent as a stand-in for the president’s daughter to become a dragon’s concubine. )
“I’m not sad,” she denied.
“Do all humans lie about their emotions?” He leaned in close again, his mouth partly open, his muzzle almost brushing her face. “You should know dragons can smell an untruth a mile off.” His massive chest moved with his inhalation. Were they like cats with vomeronasal organs allowing them to analyze scents?
Emotion was a state of mind, a thought combined with a physiological response. Odorless. But maybe dragons had a knack for reading people. In her Draconian Relations classes, she’d received training in the art of negotiation, aka dissembling, but it hadn’t felt comfortable to her. She considered herself too honest to be a good liar. Time to get over that! They plan to destroy the Earth, and I’m worried about lying? “I feel a lot of things right now,” she said.
“Really?” Yellow eyes gleamed with curiosity. “Like what?”
“I feel you’re invading my personal space. Could you move back a little?” She shoved against his chest. It was like touching a hot, dense, immovable mass. His body heat scorched her hand. He didn’t budge an inch, and from deep in his chest, she heard the low rumble of a growl.
She jerked her hand away. Oh god. I touched a dragon prince. Without permission. A huge violation of protocol, according to what she’d learned in her Draconian Relations classes. For all she knew—because there were quite a few gaps, not to mention outright misinformation in what she’d been taught—inappropriate contact could be punishable by torching. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” She pressed a hand to her throat. Don’t kill me. She’d shaken his hand upon boarding the ship, but only after he’d invited the contact.
He stepped away. While she drew ragged breaths into her lungs, he raked a hand over his horns and, before her eyes, shifted into a more human form, claws retracting, horns shrinking, scales becoming fainter. His skin had only the slightest gray-green cast. The change did not reassure her. It reinforced the unpredictability. Who knew what he would turn into next?
As a child, she’d believed the adults when they told her dragons were harmless. Ignorance was a poor excuse for bravery. Predators to the core, dragons only appeared to be civilized, and she’d been conned into flying off alone to Draco. She’d been locked in a cage with a sleeping lion. What would happen when it awoke?
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