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By:Terry Bolryder


Kelsey rubbed her hands together, folding back the tips of her mittens to warm her fingers with her breath, and watched the door to the large, upscale building in front of her with narrowed eyes.

All day she’d seen a few fancy, well-dressed people come in and out of the building, though it didn’t see nearly as much traffic as she would expect for such a spacious structure.

Maybe it was used as a residence or maybe occupied by a business with very few, exclusive clients.

Regardless, it was starting to get dark, and she didn’t see any sign of anyone coming to lock the outer doors.

She’d never thought to find herself in this situation, thinking about breaking into a building.

Well, it wasn’t breaking in if it wasn’t locked, right? Perhaps someone had forgotten before going home for the day, and maybe they wouldn’t begrudge her a warm bed on the floor as long as she got out in the morning before anyone could find her.

Propelled by desperation and the increasing cold and darkness, she crossed the road quickly and jogged to the doors, pulling on the handles.

They gave easily, opening and embracing her with a rush of warm air, and she stepped inside, just a few steps, cautiously at first.

She looked out at the street, seeing certain groups of homeless people gathering up the block. Being a woman on the street led to unique challenges, but so far, by continuously moving, she’d avoided harm.

Hopefully, tomorrow she could make her way to a nearby agency and look for something temporary that she could use to apply for housing.

It sucked to be starting over again.

She went through a second set of glass doors and saw a beautiful marble staircase leading up to a second floor. She’d never even seen a marble staircase before. Shiny, white, with little silvery lines.

She crept up the stairs, quiet as a mouse avoiding a cat, and when she reached the top, she looked down a long hallway that met another hallway at the end. On the right, there was a set of elaborate, white-painted wooden doors. She walked in front of them, holding her pack over her back, and looked around her.

No light from any sources, so obviously everyone had left. The carpet along the hallway was so soft beneath her feet.

She had two options. Take a quick nap here on the carpet so she could be well rested when going to the agency tomorrow or head back out into the darkness to sleep among strangers (which could be dangerous).

As long as no one was here, as long as she packed up and left no mess, what did it hurt if she spent the night in warmth and shelter?

Letting out a sigh of relief combined with resignation, she crouched and began to unroll her sleeping bag, forgoing the sleeping pad she used outside so as not to soil the carpet. It was far too nice for that.

She sort of begrudged people who lived in or visited places as nice as the one she was borrowing. What made them so much better than her that they deserved to take such luxury for granted? She’d worked all her life, tried to overcome her circumstances as much as she could, and life just kept smacking her down.

Meanwhile, people got to walk over carpet like this, softer than anything she’d ever felt, and leave the building completely empty while others slept outside on the ground.

It wasn’t fair.

Then again, she’d given up on life being fair long ago. All she hoped for now was another day and another chance to keep fighting.

She pulled her clothing around her, more out of habit now than anything, unzipped the sleeping bag, and was just slipping into it with a sigh when she heard a noise and froze.


Oh no. Someone was in the next room. In the dark. And they were about to discover her. She made a quick attempt to escape her sleeping bag, but couldn’t get all the way out before the door was flung open, nearly hitting her.

The man standing over her had pitch-black hair and bright silver eyes that flashed even in the darkness around them. His lip curled in a snarl, and she shuddered at the hatred in his expression.

She was well and truly screwed.

Adrien, silver dragon and second-in-command of the noble metals, nearly dropped his scotch as he looked down at the creature hiding outside the door to the clubroom.

A human.

His lip curled in disgust at what human females would resort to in order to snag a dragon. Even though they didn’t know Adrien and his friends were dragons, he’d had to experience their groping, their harassment, their crudeness for weeks now. All the while being told he needed to behave himself.

He was noble, from one of the best families in the old world, and no one touched him without his consent. The audacity. It would never have been allowed in his time.

The fact that it was allowed now simply reminded him that he was stuck in this time, restrained by a ring that kept him from accessing his dragon form and most of his dragon strength.

A ring that tried to ensure he would behave like a trained dog and be on the side of the humans and good shifters, even take a human mate.

As if that would ever happen.

The human in front of him was a perfect example of why.

Sneaking in here uninvited, hiding her identity with an excess of clothes, scarves obscuring even most of her face, setting up camp to ambush them in the morning. She was clearly some kind of thief.

Or spy. Or stalker.

He wasn’t sure how menacing her goals were; he only knew the great potential for human misdeeds.

So much worse than in his time.

But he had to stop thinking like that. His time was lost and he could never go back, and his endless bitterness couldn’t change that.

“What are you doing here?” he asked sharply as he pointed to her, drink in hand.

She was trying to extricate herself from some kind of soft bag made of swishy fabric, and her panic was evident as she began to pack up.

She was going to run for it.

He stepped forward, placing a foot on the bag