Welcome to BRB and Happy Monday! I know, that was way too enthusiastic. LOL Okay, school's in less than 72 hours and I've got to say YEAH! My son isn't happy at all, but such is life. Today sweeties and into the future I'll be posting more than interviews. I'll be adding 'guest spots' to BRB, where any guest can pass on an article, rant, book promo, artwork - whatever they wish and I'll post it! And today I've got the wonderful author JB McDonald with an excerpt from her latest novel. Enjoy!
Getting abducted by slavers wasn't part of the plan. Not that there was much of a plan to begin with, but it definitely involved more payment and fewer chains. Ashe can't help but feel a bit of panic when the meeting to sell dragon eggs, which were hunted down weeks earlier, turns sour, and he ends up drugged, caged, and on his way to a land where elves are pets.
To make matters worse, the only person who has a chance of saving him is Katsu. Katsu, who after two weeks of sex is still an enigma. Katsu, who isn't exactly the best combatant on the team. Ashe can only hope that this enigma might still have a few tricks up his sleeve, or Ashe's fate is sealed.
Dragon Traders is the second in the Dragon series.
Ashe watched the thin metal camp cup rise in Katsu's grip, press for a moment against thin lips, and settle back down to the blankets spread across the ground. Steam coiled upward in the confines of the tent. His eyes flickered to the wiry man who'd been drinking. There was a look of absent concentration on Katsu's human features; Katsu's mind was obviously occupied.
It was almost a crime to interrupt, but Ashe was pretty good at crime. "Where'd you learn to make coffee?"
Eyes so dark they were nearly black glanced at him, then away. A graceful shrug of shoulders, narrow for a human but broader than Ashe's, lifted and fell as if that were the only answer needed.
Perhaps it was, but it wasn't very fulfilling.
"You make better coffee than anyone else I know," Ashe continued, determined to strike up a conversation. He kept plaiting as he spoke, nimble fingers searching out and repairing braids. As long as he did a few every day, none of the dozens of long braids in his hair turned too ragged. Letting them go untended quickly created a mess. He tucked the finished ones behind his pointed ears, themselves a legacy of his elven birthright.
Katsu only grunted acceptance of the compliment and took another sip of coffee. Ashe's mug sat before his crossed legs, filling the little tent with a mouth-watering smell. Outside, he could hear Eddie stirring, humming a ditty she'd picked up somewhere. She was the only other member of their temporary crew. They'd ridden ahead of the other mercenaries, the three of them able to travel faster than a whole group. It gave them a few days to do Katsu's job before joining the gang again.
Ashe wasn't positive they'd really need Eddie, though a group of three was safer traveling than a group of two, he supposed. Katsu had wanted the extra sword in case of bandits; the dragon eggs were to be sold, not stolen.
Not that they could be sure they'd sell them all. In fact, Katsu seemed sure they wouldn't, though the crew's leader, Nate, had been positive that this particular merchant would want dragon eggs. Nate had also warned that they shouldn't trust Byron Tackalle in the slightest, that he'd try all manner of illicit things rather than pay them. Katsu had decided it was still worth the risk: not many people had enough money and power to buy something so rare and valuable. For a small fee Nate had helped set up a meeting, sending messengers ahead of them on horses clearly not pure-bred; Ashe could sense too much magic from them. It was too bad, really, that the privatized postal system here on the outskirts of the country refused to sell the animals. Ashe would have loved one.
Instead, they were stuck with regular horses to deliver highly valuable dragon eggs. Ashe eyed the saddlebags, filled with straw to cradle their precious cargo, that held the eggs. Each egg was the size of a large man's fist, and had a strange, creamy tone. Except one -- a smaller one, faintly green, that Ashe swore had faded to a opalescent foam color. He'd shown Katsu a week earlier, but Katsu had only chuckled and said it was a cuckoo egg, explaining briefly that some dragons would lay eggs in other dragons' nests, leaving the young to be reared by others. Either way, Katsu said, the egg was dead without a nesting dragon to hatch it. Dead maybe, but still pretty. When the subject of payment for Ashe's help had come up not long after, he'd asked for the little egg. What was he going to do with piles of money, anyway? Humans were obsessed with it, but he'd rather have something attractive. Katsu had told him he was worse than a sparkle-crazy crow, but finally agreed, and now the little opalescent egg was his.
Ashe started on another braid, cutting out the leather thong that had held it in place, then wincing as he tried to untangle it. Finally, he took his knife and cut through the worst of the knots, too.
Looking for another conversational gambit, Ashe asked, "Where did you learn your craft?" Ashe glanced at the eggs. Katsu claimed there were all sorts of medical uses for them.
This got a response, though still short. "Mostly at home. Picked up more methods elsewhere in my travels."
"And you've been traveling long?" Katsu had only been with the group for a little over eight months, and he looked to be in his mid-thirties. No one knew much about him.
Not even Ashe, and they'd been sharing a bed for the last two weeks.