Maiden Flight
    He thought he detected relief and a spark of interest in her luminous eyes, but dared not read too much into it. He was a confirmed bachelor now.
    He didn’t need love in his life. It made him soft. It made him hurt. Kelzy was the only female he needed. At least she wasn’t likely to die and leave him alone and hurting.

    Without further ado, they left the younger couple and headed for Kelzy’s suite. Jared escorted her though it was obvious to Adora that he was careful to maintain a certain distance. The man alarmed her a bit, but she sensed a deep sensitivity in him and her sixth sense about people was seldom wrong.
    This man had been hurt badly in his life and the gruff exterior was probably all for show. Besides, she reasoned, Mama Kelzy was an excellent judge of character and the dragon chose the knight, not the other way around.
    Adora learned the dragons had warm sand pits that were fired by the earth from below and their human partners built rooms for themselves around them. Each single dragon or mated dragon pair had their own wallow which was divided from the rest of the Lair by a ring of rooms that made up their suite. The knights and their mate would live in the suite with their dragons, some having guest rooms attached as well as utility and storage rooms.
    The arrangement appeared quite cozy and served both the knights and their dragon partners well, but Adora noticed quickly that there were far fewer women in the Lair than men. The dragons seemed to be about fifty percent female and fifty percent male and all partnered with male knights, but there were few mated dragons and only those mated pairs seemed to have mated knights.
    Adora intended to ask about it, but all the wondrous things she was learning and seeing for the first time quickly distracted her. As they passed a huge steaming chamber, Jared told her the pools within were heated, as the wallows were, from the earth beneath, and the water had a fragrant mineral quality that she had never before encountered.
    Since it was already past time for the evening meal, Jared volunteered to go to the kitchens and bring something back for Adora while she freshened up from the long flight. Kelzy sat down for a good roll in her heated sand wallow and both females were content for the moment.

    An hour later, he found Adora, now changed out of her traveling clothes and wearing a simple nightgown, cuddled up under Kelzy’s wing. She slept soundly in the dragon’s warm wallow with her.
    It was unheard of. Shocking. Yet somehow it softened his heart to see this strong woman tucked up like a child against the side of the kindest dragon Jared had ever known.
    Don’t wake her. Kelzy said softly in his mind. She’s had a hard time of it.
    You really weren’t kidding when you said she was like a daughter to you, were you? Jared spoke mind to mind with Kelzy to avoid making noise that might wake the small woman sleeping so peacefully next to the huge dragon.
    She could be no closer to my heart if she were a dragonet. This girl has the purest heart of any human I’ve ever known. Don’t you see the light from her soul? It’s in everything she touches, in all that she does. The Mother of All had blessed her as a child and I’m gratified to see that her heart has never wavered. It’s as pure today as it was when she was little.
    Her daughter has that glow too, he agreed absently as he watched the small woman sleep.
    Then you do see it! I knew you, of all the knights here, would. Kelzy reached out with one smooth talon and touched his booted foot gently. She was very demonstrative for a dragon and often shocked the others with her displays of emotion. Jared shuddered to think what the others would say if they saw her sharing her wallow with a human. There had already been talk about her allowing the human to hug her.
    She’s special, Jared. You must help me convince her to come live here with us. We need her. The Lair needs her and her daughter or the Mother

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