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Her Elemental Dragons: Embrace the Dark: Chapter 3

The next morning, I woke late. I’d tossed and turned so much that once sleep finally took me, it didn’t want to let me go. I slowly bathed and dressed, remembering the strange, deadly man in my dream, and wondering about the other men I might dream of next. As I pulled on a casual green gown and tied back my wild hair, I stared at myself in the mirror, at my light brown skin and hazel eyes.

Today I was a new person—the Ascendant. Yet I didn’t feel any different. I was still just Sora. Daughter of heroes. Child to four fathers. Girl with an inescapable destiny.

I headed to the small dining room where my family often shared an informal meal together, wondering if I would find any traces of breakfast. A few pieces of fruit and bread remained, and I put together a small plate. A servant rushed in and offered to make me something, but I declined. She returned anyway with some juice and scrambled eggs, because the staff always took good care of me. I thanked her profusely and then sat down to eat in the quiet room.

As soon as I took the first bite, the door burst open and Erroh rushed inside. “There you are!” he said, as he came toward me. “I’ve been looking for you.”

He seemed excited to see me for some reason, but all I could think of was how he’d skipped my birthday banquet. “Is that so?”

He slid into the chair beside me. “I have something to tell you.”

I raised an eyebrow as I stabbed my fork into my eggs. “Is it an explanation for where you were last night?”

“Yes, actually. I’m very sorry about that, but something happened. Something incredible.” He drew in a deep breath. “The Air God came to me.”

I dropped my fork. “What?”

His eyes danced with barely-contained excitement. “Sora, I’m one of your mates. Can you believe it?”

“No, I can’t.” I stared at him, and he gazed back with sincerity. Was it possible? All of my mother’s mates had been strangers, so I assumed mine would be as well. “Is this a joke of some kind?”

“Definitely not. Watch.” He waved his hand, and a huge gust of wind hit the flower vase on the table and knocked it over, spilling water everywhere. He jumped up and righted it immediately. “Oops, I did not mean to do that. I have a lot to learn, obviously.”

I let out a surprised laugh. Erroh was one of my mates! My first one, at that. Tears of joy hit my eyes and I jumped up to throw my arms around him. He hugged me back hard, and then our lips met without any hesitation. He kissed me with so much passion it made my heart race, and relief swept through my entire body. Kissing Erroh felt natural and so right, and now I could do it for the rest of my life without guilt or worry. I didn’t have to give him up after all.

“You have no idea how much I prayed for this,” Erroh said, as he pressed his forehead against mine. “I’ve loved you my entire life, and I couldn’t stand the thought of not being with you. I begged the Gods to choose me, and the Air God listened.”

“I always loved you too, but I didn’t think it was possible for you to be my mate, so I never let myself hope.” I let out a long breath and laughed softly. “Oh, this makes me feel a lot better.”

He pulled back and studied me. “What do you mean? Is something wrong?”

I hesitated, but there was no hiding anything from Erroh, my best friend for my entire life. And now my mate. “My dream last night… I’m sure it’s nothing.”

His brow furrowed. “You didn’t dream of me?”

“No. I should have, but it was someone else.”

“Perhaps everyone’s Ascension is different. So much was lost during your grandmother’s rule. For all we know, it happened much differently for her than for your mother.”

His calm voice always settled my nerves. I smiled. “Yes, I’m sure you’re right. If the Gods chose you, they must know what they’re doing.”

The door opened again, and Carth strolled inside with a big cocky grin, followed by a more serious Zain, with eyes that smoldered as they landed on me. The instant they arrived, my knees grew weak, and I grabbed onto the nearby table to steady myself. I suddenly knew why they’d also missed my banquet—they’d been chosen too.

“Let me guess, Water and Fire?” I managed to ask, though I was suddenly breathless.

“How did you know?” Carth asked.

I pressed a hand to my spinning head. “All three of you missed my banquet last night. Erroh was chosen by the Air God. It only makes sense you were chosen by Water and Fire. I just can’t believe it’s possible.”

“It’s a great honor to be chosen by one of the Gods,” Zain said. “And now we can continue protecting you, as we’ve always done.”

Carth nodded. “It makes sense. The three of us have always looked after you your entire life. We’ve always been your closest friends. Who else would the Gods choose but us?”

When he put it like that, perhaps it did make sense. They said the Gods always chose the best mates for the Ascendant, and maybe they looked into my heart and saw how much I cared for these three men, even though I’d tried to deny my feelings my entire life. Now I didn’t have to do that anymore, and it was a huge relief. My last and final mate, my future Earth Dragon, would no doubt be a stranger, but that would be all right. I’d have my three oldest friends by my side through whatever came next.

I gave Carth a hug and kissed his cheek, and then did the same for Zane. Both of them let their hands linger on me, igniting heat between my thighs. “I’m so happy you were both chosen. Truly.”

“Now we just need to wait for your final mate and then we can start visiting the temples,” Erroh said, with a wide grin.

“I’m sure we’re all looking forward to that,” Carth said, his smile turning naughty.

I glanced between the three of them. “Are you all okay with this—with sharing me?”

“I always knew it was your destiny,” Erroh said. “I’m just glad I get to be one of your mates.”

Carth shrugged. “Doesn’t bother me. The more the merrier.”

“I was raised by four fathers,” Zain said. “I understand the dynamics of it.”

I let out a relieved sigh. “Good. All I can hope now is that they’ve chosen well for my fourth mate.”

I thought back to my dream. That black-haired man must be the one chosen by the Earth God. Perhaps I didn’t have dreams of these three because I already knew them?

My mother walked in, along with my father Slade. “We heard you were having a late breakfast,” Mom said. “Did you have a restless night dreaming of your mates?”

I glanced quickly at the three men. “Something like that.”

“I’m sure they’ll be arriving soon,” Slade said, as he grabbed a piece of bread.

“Actually, three of them already have.” I gestured to Erroh, Carth, and Zain. “The Gods have chosen them for Air, Water, and Fire.”

Mom blinked at the men, her face showing obvious surprise. “Oh! How…unexpected.”

Slade’s brow furrowed as he studied the three men, in particular, Carth. “These are the men the Gods chose?”

Mom elbowed him in the side and smiled at me. “How nice that you already know each other. That will save you a lot of trouble.”

Slade grunted and grudgingly said, “I suppose the Gods know what is best for Sora.”

I knew things would be awkward between my mates and my fathers, but this was worse than I’d expected. These men had known my parents all their lives. My parents had watched them grow up beside me, from the time we were children. Now they would have to train them and watch them become my mates. We all knew what that involved.

Zain cleared his throat. “We’re all very honored and excited to begin training with you.”

“Don’t expect us to go easy on you because you’re Sora’s friends,” my other father Reven said from behind me. He was so stealthy I hadn’t even heard him come in, and now he eyed Carth with disdain. “If you hurt her or break her heart, we will end your life. Painfully. And no one will find the bodies.”

Mom held up a hand. “That’s enough of that, Reven.”

“He’s right though,” Slade grumbled.

“Don’t worry Uncle Slade, we’ll take good care of her,” Carth said, then gave Slade a friendly punch in the arm. Slade growled at him in response.

“No one is going to hurt Sora,” Erroh said. “We all care about her very much.”

“I hope that’s true…for your sakes,” Reven said.

I covered my face with my hands. This was going to be a disaster.

My parents always knew this day would come, so two years ago they moved me into a separate wing of the palace in preparation. My suite had a huge living space plus an equally large bedroom, and was surrounded by four other smaller suites prepared for my mates. Each of those rooms sat empty for years…until today.

Over the course of a few hours, my three mates moved into their new suites. Each one was decorated for their element—Carth’s was done in deep blue and sea green hues, Zain’s in fiery red and black, and Erroh’s in pale yellow and sky blue. The last room was hunter green and warm brown, still sitting empty, but not for long.

Once the three men were all moved in, we had supper sent up so we could share a meal together in our new dining area. I gazed across the stone table at my three friends, now my three mates, marveling over how things could change so quickly for us overnight. And yet, everything about it felt right. These men had always been destined to be mine.

Things were already different though. Zain and Erroh were both in plain clothes, no longer wearing the uniforms of their previous stations. They were both giving up their careers to become my mates.

“I’m sorry you had to say goodbye to your previous lives,” I told them, as we began to eat. “I’m sure this is a big change for all of you.”

Erroh shrugged. “I only joined the Silver Guard so I could protect you and be near you. This is even better.”

“I did always wonder why you joined,” I said with a smile. Growing up, Erroh had always had his nose in a book, until I dragged him off on some adventure and got us both into trouble. When he’d joined the Silver Guard at eighteen it had been a total shock. Now it made a lot more sense. My heart warmed knowing he’d done it to be near me, even though he thought he could never have me. “What about you, Zain? Are you sad you had to leave the Fire Temple for Soulspire?”

Zain shook his head. “I served the Fire God at the temple, and now I serve him here. I’ll miss my family, but I’m confident this is the best place for me.”

“And you, Carth?” I asked. He still wore his nobleman’s finery, with his silk shirt open just enough to give me a peek of his tan, sculpted chest.

Carth let out a short laugh as he grabbed his wine. “My sister is set to inherit mother’s estates, so I’ve always been the spare and able to do whatever I please.” A sensual grin spread across his face. “And right now, that’s you.”

Heat spread to my cheeks and to other places in my body, reminding me of what I would soon be doing with these three men. In order to gain my elemental powers, I would have to bond with each of them at the different temples across the four Realms. Mom had told me what would happen during the bonding, but not in too many details, of course. Still, I had an idea of what to expect.

Erroh rolled his eyes. “The texts all say she has to bond with her mates in the order of their arrival, so you’ll have to wait your turn. The Air Temple is first.”

“Sounds like someone is eager to get started,” Carth said with a smirk.

Erroh rested his hand over mine. “I’ve been waiting to be with Sora for a long time. I’m ready whenever she is.”

Carth trailed his fingers down my forearm. ‘You know, I was the first one in the room after Erroh. Therefore we should head to the Water Temple after Air, isn’t that right?’

Zain scowled. ‘You most certainly were not. I entered the room first. I knew about the order rule, and I made sure to be the first in.’

Carth shook his head. ‘I think if you search your memory, you’ll find I’m correct.’

Erroh winked at me as they argued. He didn’t care who went next. He would be my first.

I couldn’t help but be happy it would be him. I’d been attracted to Carth and Zain for years, but Erroh I’d loved since we were kids. Now that I could allow myself to be free and honest with how I felt, I was sure of it.

As his thumb stroked my knuckles and the gazes of the men all rested on me, desire made my heart race. I was ready. Wasn’t I?


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