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Her Elemental Dragons: Stroke the Flame: Chapter 31


We emerged from the tunnels into what seemed to be the storeroom for a bakery. The air smelled of fresh bread and something sweet, making my stomach growl, but we didn’t have time to delay. Reven and Auric were fading with every second, and while I’d done my best to stop their bleeding and take away the pain, I needed some quiet time with them in a safe place to heal them fully. Assuming I could, of course. My healing powers were still mostly untested and untrained. But I’d do whatever it took to keep them both alive.

As we walked out of the storeroom, the baker gave us a discreet nod, but didn’t say a word. Was he with the Resistance too? I’d never thought much about their group when I lived in Stoneham and had always assumed they were somewhere far away, but maybe they’d been around me all along and I never knew it. Including Slade, it seemed. When we had a moment alone, I’d have to ask him how he’d known about the Resistance hideout.

We stepped out of the bakery and into the pouring rain, where night had fallen. As I pulled my hood over my head, Auric slipped and nearly fell, but Jasin caught him and helped him go on. Slade was already supporting most of Reven’s weight at this point too. I wished I could do more than simply worrying about them. The streets were empty thanks to the downpour at least.

‘Down here,’ Jasin said, as he turned down a street with a row of houses.

We stopped at the fourth house, which was done in the same sharp style as the others with a pointed roof and red trim. A pink flowering tree stood in front of it, the one cheerful thing in this entire miserable day. Was this Jasin’s home? Was I about to meet his parents? Another thing to add to my list of worries.

Jasin paused at the front door as if hesitant, but then knocked on it. A beautiful woman in her forties with long, wavy auburn hair and Jasin’s cheekbones opened the door and gasped. ‘Jasin! What are you doing here?’

‘Can we come in?’ he asked.

Her dark eyes swept over the rest of us and she opened the door wider. ‘Of course. Come inside and get dry.’

We stepped into the house, which was warm and smelled faintly of a cozy fire. The furniture was dark and utilitarian with few trinkets, except for a sword hanging on one wall and a painting on the other. A chill ran through me when I got a closer look at the painting, which was beautiful even though it depicted the Black Dragon and her four mates sitting on top of a mountain, looking regal as they gazed out at the clouds with sunset hues behind them. It was both stunning to look at and terrifying to see it there.

‘This is such a surprise,’ Jasin’s mother said. ‘We thought you were stationed farther south.’

‘Jasin? I thought I heard your voice.’ A man with dark hair streaked with a touch of gray walked into the room. He paused when he saw the rest of us, no doubt an unexpected sight. Four strangers, completely soaked, and two of them injured. I didn’t blame him for hesitating.

‘Everyone, this is my mother, Ilya, and my father, Ozan. Mom, dad, these are…some friends of mine.’ Jasin glanced at the rest of us, before turning back to his parents with a grim face. ‘We’re in a bit of trouble and need somewhere to lay low for the evening. Is it okay if we stay here?’

‘What kind of trouble?’ Ozan asked, his eyes narrowing.

Ilya waved him away. ‘Of course you can stay. Are you all in the Onyx Army with Jasin?’

‘Not exactly,’ Slade said.

“I’ll explain everything, but right now these two are injured and we need to treat their wounds,” Jasin said.

‘They can use Berin’s bedroom,’ Ilya said.

She led us down a hallway with dark stone floors and opened the first door. We stepped inside a sparse room with a bed big enough for two people and little else. It looked like it hadn’t been used in some time, but Ilya pulled out some blankets and pillows and got the bed ready for us.

‘Thanks, Mom,’ Jasin said. ‘Let’s leave them to it and I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to.’

With a nod to me and Slade, Jasin escorted his mother out of the room and shut the door behind them. Slade helped me ease Reven and Auric onto the bed, while they both groaned at the movement. It wasn’t easy because they were both large, strong men, and their weapons and boots only made it harder.

Auric still had an arrow sticking out of his back, so he had to lie on his stomach. ‘Heal Reven first,’ he said, but his voice was weak.

“I’m fine,” Reven said, his teeth gritted.

‘Hold Auric down,’ I told Slade. ‘I’ll get the arrow out.’

Slade nodded and braced his weight on Auric’s shoulders, keeping him in place. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, although I’d removed arrows from lots of animals while hunting before, and this couldn’t be all that different. I hoped.

I inhaled sharply, then pulled the arrow out with a quick, straight tug. Auric jerked and moaned and blood gushed from the wound. I rested my hand over it quickly to stop the bleeding, but his shirt was in the way. Although the bleeding slowed, I could sense that I needed more skin to skin contact if I was going to heal him fully.

‘We need to get this off him,’ I told Slade, as I tugged at Auric’s shirt.

Beside us, Reven had his eyes closed and I hoped he was okay, but I had to help Auric first. With much groaning from Auric, Slade helped me remove his cloak and shirt, along with his weapons, boots, and everything else except his trousers. But Reven was looking really pale too, and I worried he’d lost too much blood already.

‘Reven too,’ I said, and Slade nodded.

We removed most of Reven’s clothes as well, and had to slash open his trousers due to the gash on his thigh. I tried not to get distracted by all the muscular, naked flesh in front of me, and instead focused on what I could do to make them both better.

‘Get in the bed with them,’ Slade suggested. ‘Your touch is what heals them.’

Of course. I removed most of my own gear until I was in only my thin chemise, which was better since my clothes were soaked through with blood and water anyway. At first, I felt a touch of shyness at wearing so little around them, although they’d already seen me in my chemise over the last few nights. But then I pushed that feeling aside. These were my mates and they were all going to be seeing a lot of me soon, but more importantly, I didn’t care how little I wore because all that mattered was healing Reven and Auric.

I crawled onto the bed between Reven and Auric, while Slade watched. His green eyes seemed to turn almost black as I slid between their bodies, and then he quickly looked away.

‘I’ll see about getting our horses,’ he said, his voice husky. He left the room before I could answer.

Was he jealous? Or aroused? I wasn’t sure, but I couldn’t think about that right now. Both Reven and Auric lay quietly with closed eyes and I couldn’t tell if they were awake or not.

I took both of their hands first, working my fingers over their skin. Reven’s hand was calloused, Auric’s was smooth, and both of them dwarfed mine. I wasn’t sure how to make my healing work, so I simply thought about how I wanted them to be healthy again. My feelings burned bright in my chest, surprising me with their intensity. I’d only known the men for a few days, but I already cared for them a great deal.

I wasn’t sure if the healing was working and decided I needed to do more. I turned toward Reven, whose face was paler than normal. It was a miracle he’d been able to make it this far, although maybe my healing in the tunnels helped. I examined the wound and hesitated, then placed my hands on his thigh. The remains of his shredded black trousers hid the large bulge between his legs, but only barely. I tried not to stare at it, but my eyes kept finding their way back to that spot.

I pushed everything I felt into my touch as I ran my hands along his naked skin, feeling the hard muscles underneath my fingertips. After a few moments I began to see the wound close up. It was working!

He groaned and turned his head toward me, his eyes focusing on mine. He didn’t say a word as I continued stroking his thigh, nor did he stop me when my other hand rested on his neck and moved up into his silky black hair.

‘What are you doing to me?’ he finally asked.

‘Healing you.” I trailed my fingers down his cheek and lightly touched his lips. Gods, he was beautiful. I so rarely got to be this close to him, or to stare into his eyes without him turning away. But for once he didn’t move.

‘Is that all?’ he asked.

My breath caught. If I brought my lips to his and kissed him, would he stop me? Or would he kiss me back? If I shifted my hand slightly to brush against that bulge, would he pull away, or touch me in return?

Before I could gather my courage enough to try, he caught my hand in his and his eyes narrowed. “You protected me today and nearly got killed in the process. Don’t ever do that again.”

I yanked my hand away. “I couldn’t let you die.”

“I would have been fine. Just as I’m fine now.” He rolled onto his side, facing away from me. “Don’t trouble yourself further.”

I stared at his back, wondering what that was about and trying not to feel rejected. But I didn’t have the energy to worry about his behavior, not when Auric needed me too.

I turned to Auric next. His breathing was shallow and the arrow wound on his back—his very well-defined back—was deep. I rested my hands on his shoulder, sighing as our skin touched. As warmth spread from my fingertips, I slowly rubbed his shoulder and ran my hands down his back, spreading my healing to his entire body. Or that’s what I told myself anyway. Maybe I just wanted to touch him some more.

His eyes fluttered open and he turned his head to smile at me. ‘Mm, that’s nice.’

I removed my hand and looked down at his shoulder, which was now healed up as if it had never been injured at all. ‘How are you feeling?’

‘Like a horse ran over me,’ he said, with a low chuckle.

‘That sounds about right,’ Reven grumbled.

I settled myself between the two of them, their bodies pressed close against mine. ‘You both need rest and more healing, so we’re going to lie here for a while, since skin to skin contact seems to be what works best.’

‘I’m not complaining,’ Auric said, as he rolled on his side and curled up against me. He kissed me, while one of my hands found his naked chest again, savoring the feel of his coiled muscle underneath his smooth skin.

Reven didn’t say a word, but he turned onto his other side and stared at me with his dark, dangerous blue eyes. I was so tempted to kiss him, but I wasn’t sure he wanted that from me. Instead I rested my hand on his strong chest too, and he reluctantly draped one arm around my waist.

With both men wrapped around me, I closed my eyes and felt a strange sort of contentment settle over me. The overwhelming desire for both of them was there too, but this was more than lust. This felt right, as if they both belonged by my side. The only way it could be better would be if Jasin and Slade were here too.


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