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How to Date a Dragon

By:Ashlyn Chase

saved your business and possibly your place in the competition. Why don’t you make him a card?”

“A Hall-Snark card? What would it say? I’m sorry I got you suspended, but you looked great in suspenders?”

Claudia grimaced. “Ah, no. I’m sure you can do better than that.”

Bliss slumped over and rested her cheek on the cool stone. “My computer didn’t survive, by the way. Well, I mean, the hardware did, but I think the rest is fubar.”

“Fubar? What’s that?”

She leaned back and sighed. “Sorry. It’s something my brother Ricky, the ex-marine, says. It means fucked up beyond all recognition.”

Claudia chuckled and opened the laptop in question. She hit the power button and a light came on. “Are you sure? It looks okay.”

“I tried to boot it up several times, and all I can get out of it is, ‘Operating system not found.’”

“Don’t give up yet. There’s something called forensic data recovery. You’d be surprised what the FBI can get off computers that were supposedly destroyed.”

“I doubt the FBI would consider a reality TV show about a greeting card competition worthy of their time or equipment.” Bliss cupped her chin and rested her elbow on the counter. “I don’t know what I was thinking. He could have died. I don’t even know his name…” She lifted her head and sat up straight. “Wait. The back of his jacket said Cameron.”

Claudia set a tall glass of ice water in front of Bliss. “There you go. Is that his first name or last?”

Bliss sighed. “I don’t know.”

“What did the other guys’ jackets look like? First names or last?”

Bliss rested her chin on both palms and her elbows on the counter. “I don’t know. I only had eyes for him—as they say.”

Claudia chuckled. “Oh, yeah. You’ve got it bad.”

Bliss took a long swallow of her ice water. Her parched throat welcomed the cool liquid. “You want to know the worst thing about all this?”

“What?”

“Forget that my home and all my belongings except my precious laptop are toast. I have to go back to Winthrop and live with my annoying parents for who knows how long. If I don’t win the contest, it could be forever.” She groaned.

Claudia rubbed her friend’s back. “I wish I could let you move in here, but my place is just too damn small. We’d get on each other’s nerves, and our friendship is more important than anything to me.”

“I know. I feel the same way. But I do have to go home. I lost my glasses in the fire. I think I have a spare pair in my old bedroom. Some of my old clothes might still be there, and I’ll need them, if they fit. Stupidly, I didn’t get renter’s insurance, and now I have zero money and no time for shopping.”

“So, have you told your parents yet?”

Bliss took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “No, but I have to soon, before they see it on the news. They’ll have a fit.”

“Not because you need a place to stay, I hope.”

“No, that’s not it.” She snorted. “They’re always hoping us kids will come home for dinner… or a month. No, they’ll be upset because one of their precious spawn had a brush with death. And they’re going to try to get me married off and living in the suburbs.”

“Oh, boy. I don’t envy you, but at least your parents aren’t stuck on the idea of your marrying a rich guy.”

“Seriously? Yours are like that? Do they know what you do?”

Claudia laughed. “They know I work on Beacon Hill, but they don’t know I manage a bar. If they did, they’d have a fit. I’m supposed to be rubbing elbows with Boston’s elite.”

“What do they think you do?”

“All they know is that I got my MBA and I manage a small independent company on Charles Street. Technically, that’s true, so if you ever see them, don’t mention the bar. Actually, the less said about my job, the better.”

“You completed your business degree? I thought you still had another semester to go.”

“I finished it in December.”

“Congrats. So, are you looking for a better job?”

“Nope.”

Her friend confused her sometimes, but Bliss had other things to think about right now. “Unfortunately, if I go back home, I can look forward to a lot of arranged, so-called accidental meetings with eligible young men. My parents will want him to be Italian so they can have a whole passel of paisano grandkids.”

“With a name like Cameron, it sounds like your hero might be Irish,” Claudia said.

“Or Scottish. I think I remember seeing a Cameron clan wearing their tartan kilts at that Highland Games thing we went to.”

“Oh, yeah. Who could forget those sexy kilts?” Claudia waggled her eyebrows. “So… what does your guy look like?”

“Tall, about six feet. Rugged, great firm ass, green eyes, and hair that’s hard to describe. It’s not blond or red. It’s kind of sandy or light brown with actual yellow streaks. Not highlights like you see on other people. I’m talking about a primary color in half- or quarter-inch stripes.”

“Interesting… What else?”

“He has a side part and it’s long in the front—right to his eyebrows. It kind of angles across his forehead. All shaggy and sexy.” She sighed.

“He sounds like a hunk.”

“Yeah, and if you ever see him, keep your mitts off. He’s mine.”

“I wouldn’t dream of horning in on your territory. You might bite.”

Bliss smiled, at last. “Or tell you to bite me.”

The more Bliss thought about it, the more she liked the idea of making a card for the handsome firefighter. It wouldn’t be one of her trademark Hall-Snark cards. Those were blunt, irreverently honest or flippant, and bordering on rude, but she could come up with something on the fly.

Let’s see… what could I make and drop off at the fire station before I relocate?

“Claudia, can I borrow your computer, printer, and some card stock?”

“Sure. You can use my photos too if you want.”

“You’re sweet, but I have a design in my head that I can draw. I’d make the whole thing with a pen, but my handwriting is terrible and I want him to be able to read it.” Jesus. I’m lucky I can still draw breath, never mind cards, thanks again to Came

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