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Silver

By:Terry Bolryder

she was attempting to stuff into her backpack, and she looked up at him, alarm in her eyes. With her face mostly covered and the darkness around him, he couldn’t make out her features or even the color of her eyes, but something about the panic in them, the fear, even desperation, made him release her and step back.

What did it matter if one human spy got away?

He took a sip of his scotch as she quickly shoved her things together and into her pack, staggering toward the steps.

He could go after her, question her, but she was leaving, and that was all that mattered at the moment. She could go back to where she came from and tell whoever sent her that the men (or dragons) at Date-A-Dragon weren’t so easily caught.

He walked downstairs after her to lock the doors, as he’d promised Citrine he would, and saw her look back at him with a bitter, flashing glance before hurrying across the road, pack slung over a shoulder.

It was a large pack for such a young, petite woman, though he wasn’t sure of her build, whether she was curvy or if she simply wore many layers of clothing.

It was beginning to get cold in Seattle, and the humidity in the air made it feel much colder than it was. The air tended to feel as though it were biting through your skin.

Adrien gave her one more look and then headed upstairs to continue his drinking and contemplation.

He glanced once at the spot on the ground where she’d been a moment ago and then swung open the doors and returned to the chaise lounge he’d been occupying by the window.

He refilled his scotch on the way and sipped it as he sank into the chaise, propping up his legs as he watched the street and the so-called spy. Before, he’d been watching the rain and the skyline, but this was moderately more entertaining.

She looked both ways, as if lost, or perhaps she was trying to throw him off so he couldn’t follow her and see the identification tag on her vehicle.

No matter. He was curious about this human now; he wouldn’t be telling on her. He was almost hoping she decided to come back and try again to get in, just for the slight excitement of it.

He chided himself for even thinking such a thing and sat up slightly as she walked toward a darkened alley between two buildings.

That was Ron’s territory, and Adrien often saw him and his group smoking there or panhandling. Not recently, though.

But what was a woman doing going in there? Perhaps she’d parked back there, somehow.

He stood, clutching the beautifully crafted crystal he insisted on drinking scotch from, and his eyes narrowed as he saw her stop in the entrance to the alley, look around, and then slowly remove her pack.

What was she doing? Why didn’t she drive away?

His brows lowered as a painful ache sank in his chest. He rubbed his heart with his free hand, wondering what this foreign feeling was.

She began to unroll that strange, swishy bag and set her backpack on the ground, and he realized with stunned, frozen shock that she was going to stay there. On the street. In the cold, with no shelter.

The images of a moment ago, when he’d seen her at the door, assuming the worst of her due to his suspicions of all humans, flashed through his mind.

He knew what that feeling was now, though it was so foreign he barely recognized it.

Guilt.

He felt his lip curling reflexively in disgust, this time at himself. He put a hand up to the window glass, almost as if he could reach out to her, apologize.

Still, was it his problem if she had nowhere to go? He hadn’t seen a homeless woman before, and in his day, he and his fellow dragons would never have allowed it. As leaders, they had taken care of those in their areas.

But this wasn’t his day.

So he watched her bedding down for the night, in this frigid cold, with a growing sense of unease.

It wasn’t his business. He hated this world. He hated humans.

He stepped back, sipping his scotch, hoping it would dull the razor blade of shame sawing at his heart.

Movement outside drew his gaze, and his hand tightened on the glass as he saw a group of men he didn’t recognize moving toward the alley.

His eyes narrowed farther, his face tightening, as he took in the rapidly escalating situation.

It wasn’t his problem. He wasn’t human. It wasn’t his place to get involved in their world.

The men were spread out now, blocking the entrance to the alley.

The sound of shattering glass echoed through the empty club room as Adrien threw down his tumbler and ran for the exit, cursing himself all the way.

Two

Kelsey cursed the prick who had chased her out of the building as she backed away from the men crowding the entrance to the alley.

It was easier to think of his flashing, disgusted eyes and blame him than it was to consider her current situation. The danger she was in.

So far, she had evaded roving gangs and the eyes of predators. It appeared her luck had run out on this rainy, dark, cold night.

There was a streetlight overhead, just bright enough she could make out some of the features of the men closing in.

She moved toward her things, afraid if she crouched to pack up, they’d take the moment to ambush her. “I’m not causing any trouble. If I’m in your way, I’ll leave.”

“And go where, sweetheart?” the man in front said, resting a meaty arm closed in a worn leather jacket on the brick wall and leaning against it. He was trying to look relaxed, but he and all his group appeared sharply alert. Predators closing in on their prey.

Trying to keep it from running or putting up a fight.

“We don’t mind you staying as long as you don’t mind giving us a little something in return.”

She fought the urge to roll her eyes. If only she had a dollar for every time someone had offered her basic human decency in exchange for some price she couldn’t or wouldn’t pay.

She felt her neck and chest tightening as adrenaline flooded her. She tried to walk toward a gap in

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