The Dragon King(5)

By: Candace Blevins

“Stay put,” I said, my voice aimed her direction but mostly under my breath, hoping she could hear. I got in my car, opened all the windows, and stopped in front of her, my face still looking out the windshield as I asked, “Can you make it in the window or should I open the door?”

I hoped we could do this fast, get her in through the back seat window and onto the floorboard so I could get us somewhere else. If any of the wolves saw her they’d have to report to their Alpha, who’d be obligated to report to the Swan King. To do otherwise would risk war between the Wolves and the Swans, which may not sound like much in their animal form, but the Swans were formidable politically. Plus, they were so closely allied with the Eagles, a slight to one was a slight to both, and the Eagles could be fucking scary en masse — even to me, one of the last three remaining Dragons.

Sophia made it into the back seat, and I rolled the windows up as I took off and told her to get in the floor.

“You have to be exhausted, Soph,” I said as I navigated the streets and kept an eye out for vehicles following us, as well as birds watching us with too much intelligence. “I’ll stop and buy some clothes for you and then we need to head out of town, but you can sleep while I drive.”

I heard noises from the backseat, felt a shift in air pressure, and smelled woman more than swan.

“You once told me you’d protect me. I know what I’m asking of you, but if you meant it, I need help.”

“We need to talk, so I know what your plans and wishes are, but if I’m satisfied you mean to make this escape permanent and fully understand what that means, then I’ll do what I can to help, Princess. For now, stay in the floorboard. I have a blanket in the trunk, I’ll get it for you when we stop, and I’ll go in and get you some things. I don’t know your exact size so I’ll get sweatpants and yoga pants, and some t-shirts, some basic toiletries and undergarments. Do you know what size shoe you wear?”

“Size four, but I can make do with a five narrow. My clothes are either size fourteen slim from the children’s department, or a size zero or one in ladies.”

I needed to get everything in one stop, so I went to a huge discount big box store and bought jeans, yoga pants, a pack of underwear, a few sports bras since I wasn’t about to ask her bra size for a regular one, some athletic shoes and waterproof hiking boots, socks, a toothbrush, deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, hairbrush, blow dryer, and some pony tail holders. I also grabbed a backpack so she could get it all into the cave, and a ton of junk food and bottled water so we could eat in the car without needing to stop. As I neared the checkouts I remembered she felt the cold, so I went back and grabbed a lightweight jacket with a hood as well as a heavy winter coat. The hood reminded me we should probably hide her beautiful blonde hair, so I also grabbed a couple of dark colored hats.

I moved the sports bras, underwear, two t-shirts, a pair of yoga pants and a pair of jeans into one bag and settled it on the backseat as I got in. She was completely hidden under the blanket, but I smelled her and could hear her breathe, so I knew she was okay.

The rest of the bags landed in the passenger seat and I said, “I’m going to drive around behind this building and pull into the skating rink parking lot, where hopefully you can change without too much risk of being seen. Put the sports bra and shirt on first, then you can sit up and do the rest. How are you holding up?”

The plastic bag made crinkling noises from the back seat, and she said, “I’ve never had a pair of jeans before. Cool!”

I shook my head and smiled, remembering the toddler she’d been before her formal training had begun at three and her smiles could only happen when I got her away from the house. Princesses had responsibilities, and most of her governesses hadn’t approved of laughter, fun, or shenanigans of any sort.

I looked out the front window, watching for threats. I wanted to look into the rear view mirror to be sure nothing was behind us but I scanned the two side mirrors instead. Sophia was likely to be ultra-shy about her nude body, as she didn’t have the experience of a normal shifter, accustomed to coming back to human without clothes around others. She didn’t even have the experiences of a normal twenty-four year old. I’d been invited to her wedding, nearly three weeks away. So close to twenty-five, and still a virgin.

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