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By:Terry Bolryder


Dante Gildenstern, highest of noble metal dragons, superior to both measly humans and those coarse metal dragons, found himself in an unexpected situation.

When he’d walked into a trap all those hundreds of years ago and an avalanche had sent them all into a deep sleep, there hadn’t been time to think of regrets. Things he hadn’t done and wouldn’t get to do.

And honestly, he never had given much thought to the future. He’d lived in the moment, whether collecting wealth, holding balls, wooing women, or enjoying the privilege he’d been gifted at birth.

Waking up in this new world, with everything he was accustomed to gone, he and his team had fought hard against those they thought were responsible.

But they’d been wrong and relatively helpless in this new modern world where gold wasn’t easily used as currency and everything was a million times more complicated.

Being taken in (more accurately, captured) by the good guys meant Dante and his team had gotten a better crash course in modern living and adjusted to many of the prevailing rules and conveniences.

But that didn’t make his current situation any less untenable.

He was collared—well, bound by a ring that made it impossible to shift—at the beck and call of an oracle he’d never even met, until it could be proven that he would stand up for humanity.

He was also expected to find a human mate.

Citrine, a gemstone dragon tasked with guiding them, was currently pacing in front of them, hands clasped nervously behind his back, his long, dark hair swishing against his shoulders, gold eyes flashing.

Dante and Citrine had similar eye colors, except Citrine’s were warm, like sunshine on yellow flowers, and Dante’s were cold, like gold with a layer of frost over it.

He’d been told he was cold. Sometimes he felt cold inside; sometimes he felt he’d never had a reason to be otherwise.

He doubted a human could change that.

“I don’t understand why we’re doing this,” Adrien, the silver dragon and his second in command, shifted in his chair, slouching slightly. Adrien’s usually light silver hair had been dyed black to blend in a little better. It made his unusually bright silver eyes look even brighter.

Adrien was the youngest, though not by as much as his handsome, sneering baby face led people to believe. Dante thought most women would guess Adrien to be a human male in his mid-twenties.

“Running a service where women can hire out dates?” Citrine asked.

Adrien grunted.

“Well, you can’t do handiwork, and that’s what worked for the other metal dragons to help them come in contact with human women.” Citrine cocked his head. “I can’t risk you going in and ruining someone’s plumbing or something.”

“Tch,” Adrien said. “As if we would. It’s not that we can’t do it. It’s beneath us. As is selling ourselves for dates.”

Citrine glared at him. “So how else do you plan to meet human women? Or were you planning to stay alone?”

“I’d be fine alone,” Adrien said. “I have no great love for humans.”

“That’s putting it lightly,” Sever muttered.

Citrine crossed to Adrien and grabbed him by the collar, holding him up. Adrien seemed to test Citrine’s typically calm and patient demeanor more than anyone else.

“Almost all of my friend’s mates are human women. They are some of the kindest, most amazing people I have ever met.” Citrine released Adrien with a shove. “I can’t wait to see you fall for one and eat your words.”

Adrien folded his arms and turned away. “As if.”

“What about you, Dante?” Citrine asked. “You going to make this hard for me?”

Dante shook his head. “No. I want my dragon form back. I have my doubts about falling for a human.” Falling for anyone, really. “But I can’t imagine wearing this ring forever, so if I want to escape this servitude, I must do as you say.”

“We’ve been preparing for this for months,” Citrine said, rubbing his forehead. “I am trying to help you. Do you want to wind up in a dungeon?” He lowered his head, muttering under his breath.

“What was that?” Dante asked.

“I said, ‘Why can’t these guys be half as easy to work with as the coarse metals were?’”

“Because we have brains,” Adrien said. “And we’re used to having free will.”

Sever looked over with a wry grin at that and then went back to his stoic moping.

“I saw that,” Citrine said. “Sever, you need to come out of your shell.”

“I’m not in a shell,” Sever said, slightly defensive. “I just don’t have much to say a lot of the time.”

Of all of them, Sever had undergone the greatest shock in the new world. He’d gone looking to avenge his mate, only to find out she either didn’t exist and was a powerful hoax or had betrayed him.

Sever also looked the least different now. He’d kept his long braid, but with his square jaw, handsome features, and huge build, he pulled it off.

Dante saw the biggest difference in the mirror. He hadn’t felt any regret over chopping off his golden locks to better blend into the real world. In the past, women had fawned over his long, masculine mane, but in the modern world, short hair was more admired.

And Dante liked to be admired.

Which wasn’t uncommon. Dante Gildenstern was beautiful. He always had been, always would be.

“Dante, pay attention,” Citrine said. “Don’t zone out. There still hasn’t been any sign of Mercury, and the oracle is keeping an eye on that. So right now we need to focus solely on getting you all mated. Tonight is our first open house. Are you ready? Any questions?”

Dante knew Citrine probably had three petulant dragons glaring at him right now.

Citrine sighed, putting a hand up to his forehead. “Look. We’ve done plenty of training. You know modern rules. You should understand modern women.”

“Human women.” Adrien scoffed.

“Right,” Citrine said. “And if you want to never be in your dragon form again, never feel air under your wings, then stay jerks and ruin everything. See if I care.” He threw up his hands.