Pearl's Dragon

By: S. E. Smith

Prologue





Present Day:



“The last rule I’m going to share is the Unbreakable Rule,” Pearl St. Claire stated in a firm tone. She released a sigh and raised an eyebrow at the scarred warrior sitting in one of the two chairs in the room. He was staring at the board she was pointing to with a mutinous expression. “What is it now, Brogan?”

“I told you when you started. I don’t follow anyone’s rules but my own,” Brogan stated, folding his arms.

“And look where that got you! All I can say is you’d better learn if you want to get out of this room - alive,” Pearl snapped in a sharper tone than she originally intended before adding the last word under her breath.

“Pearl,” Asim cautioned in a low voice from where he was sitting on a bench by the door.

Pearl slowly counted to thirty. She’d already bypassed ten and twenty. Why she was chosen for this exasperating task was beyond her. The only thing she could think of was that she had survived raising Riley and Tina without any casualties.

Surely, I can manage a few lessons in humility for the two men sitting in front of me, she thought.

Unfortunately, she felt like she was starting all over again – only this time during the toddler stage. Being over sixty, she’d thought she was finished dealing with stubborn, defiant, and downright ornery kids. Back on Earth, she’d been a surrogate grandmother to the kids in the neighborhood. During that time, she had seen and heard a lot. She was well aware that she was the kind of grandmother every kid wanted to have – and the one every parent wished they could hide in the closet.

She didn’t dress like a grandmother – she preferred leather and boots to dresses and pearls. She didn’t go to church; instead, she owned a bar. She never carried a wooden spoon, but hell if she didn’t still have a shotgun loaded with rock salt. Her platinum-white hair was cut short and she stayed in shape by doing Yoga, Zumba, and Weekend Warrior trainings with her newly adopted great-grandson.

Jabir, Mandra and Ariel’s son, had captured her heart as quickly as her own great-grandsons, Roam and Leo, had. Unfortunately, Roam and Leo lived on the Sarafin home world while she lived on Valdier. Living on another planet wasn’t much more of a problem than living across town – well, except for having to use a spaceship to visit. Still, Pearl was able to talk with the two boys regularly and they loved visiting her here.

At the moment, she would rather be with the cuddly little dragonling and his menagerie of unusual pets or her great-grandsons. It sure as hell beat resisting the urge to find a baseball bat and knock some sense into two well-seasoned warriors who had an elephant’s hair up their asses.

As it was, there were currently only the four of them – her, Asim, and the twin dragon warriors – in the barn’s tack room. Her classroom was not much larger than a ten by ten shed back home. There was just enough room for the table and two chairs that Asim had brought in earlier this morning, plus the bench he was sitting on by the door. Harnesses for the Pactors, leashes for the smaller animals, and maintenance tools hung neatly on two of the four walls. The floor was clean and the room smelled of the sweet warm grass that was used as hay for the animals in the outer stalls.

Pearl shot a heated glare at her amused mate when he smothered a chuckle. Asim raised an eyebrow in response and tried to look innocent. With a shake of her head, she slowly turned back to the twin dragons.

She rested one hand on her hip and tapped her fingers against her side. She was really going to have a private talk with Asim later. She needed to remind him that her personality was not conducive to being a teacher.

Pearl studiously observed her two pupils. She had quickly distinguished the difference between the identical twin dragons known as Barrack and Brogan. Barrack had more patience and control than his brother, Brogan – by about the width of a human hair.

After hours of trying to explain human culture to the brothers, Pearl decided her patience was fast disintegrating to their level, almost nonexistent. While Brogan had questioned or argued every single rule she had tried to explain, Barrack had just released long, drawn-out sighs of impatience.

Raising her chin, Pearl returned Brogan’s steely gaze. Time was fast running out for the two men. She was about to open a can of whoop-ass on them if they didn’t get their heads out of their asses. She pointed a determined finger at Barrack.