A Scales ‘N’ Spells Holiday Short Story by AJ Sherwood

Cameron eyed his dragon-husband with amusement. He’d intended to offer Alric a drink, but the man was sprawled out along several pillows in front of the hearth, and he did not look like a man willing to move even a finger anytime soon. He also looked smug. So unbearably smug.

“You look like a cat that ate the canary,” he informed Alric as he crossed to him. Keeping his drink steady, he dropped down to Alric’s side, using a pillow as a cushion. His free hand carded through that thick dark hair, feeling the silky strands slide through his fingers.

Alric’s eyes didn’t open, but his smug grin deepened. “I feel like one too. With this latest engagement, we’ll have three married couples before the year is out. Three. It’s an incredible number. I never dreamed we’d have this.”

Cameron sipped at his Scotch before commenting, “I will bet you it’ll be four before New Years. My grandmother and Rodrigo are truly hitting it off. She’s downright giddy when I talk to her.”

“Ah, that would be even better. Rodrigo’s clan needs that kind of happiness too.” Alric’s eyes opened, and for a moment, sadness chased its way across his face. “I don’t know if I can explain it to you. How desolate this place felt in holidays past. We all put a good face on, day to day. We tried to not let it affect us. But with every year’s turning, it looked that much more bleak. We lost a little more hope. New Years was never a happy celebration.”

Cameron could see it, in his mind’s eye. But then, he’d seen the absolute wonder and joy in the clan when he’d first entered it. Cameron hadn’t understood it, then, but in retrospect he certainly could. To them, he represented hope. Really, it was a wonder they’d restrained themselves as much as they had with him. If the roles had been reversed, Cameron would have glomped on and not let go.

That bright, smug grin came back and Alric nuzzled into his hand. “And this year, we have multiple mages. My dragons have found mates. Good, amazing people that I’m honored to bring into the clan. It’s five hundred years of Christmas wishes all bundled into one.”

Cameron couldn’t let that go. He set the drink out of reach and leaned into kiss Alric sweetly. “So you’re saying I can return the Christmas gift I got for you? I’m sufficient?”

He’d meant it teasingly, but Alric’s eyes were serious as he looked up at him. “Meine liebling, you are all I’ve ever wished for.”

Cameron’s eyes burned a little. He knew Alric loved him, but these moments still tugged at his heartstrings. He leaned into kiss Alric again, relaxing into the man’s arms. “Thank god for impulsive decisions.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I didn’t plan to really come into Germany,” Cameron admitted. “Didn’t I tell you that?”

Alric blinked at him, startled. “No, you didn’t. You said you’d heard about the Dragon Festival and came to see it.”

“Ah. Yeah, well, when I was graduating college, I planned to go on a trip overseas as a reward for myself. And to kind of delay the job hunting. But I didn’t have a clear idea of where to go. Or even what I wanted to see. It’s how it became a backpacking trip, so I could see a little bit of everything in Europe. I had no plans for Germany, precisely. Not until I was over here and heard about the Dragon Festival. I came to Sonthofen completely on impulse.”

Alric’s dark blue eyes were wide with realization. If not for that impulse, their paths might never have crossed. It was only because he’d been in Sonthofen that Ravi picked up his scent. That he was discovered by the dragons at all.

“Thank god for that impulse,” Alric echoed, tone both heartfelt and strangled.

Cameron couldn’t imagine it, now. Not living in Germany. Not being a mage. Not being married to this amazing, beautiful man. Just remembering the path his parents tried to set for him seemed like a hazy, unrealistic dream in comparison to the magical reality he now lived in. Maybe impulse was Fate’s way of pulling people in the right direction. It would explain a lot if that was the case.

Pulling him in closer, Alric kissed him gently, hand snugging Cameron more firmly into place. He went with a happy murmur as snuggling was the bomb diggity, as far as Cameron was concerned. Especially on a cold, winter night like this.

“Did you really get me a Christmas present?” Alric asked, intrigued.

Cameron rolled his eyes. “Yes, of course I did. Just like you did.”

“But what on earth did you get me?”

“Thank you for acknowledging that you are absolutely impossible to buy for.”

Alric snickered.

No denial there, huh. “You’ll have to wait until Christmas morning. I’m not telling you in advance.”

Alric’s fingers stole under his sweater, teasing under the waistband of the jeans. “What if I ask very, very nicely?”

Making love on a thick rug in front of a roaring fire? With an amorous dragon determined to please? Score! “I might be persuaded. If you ask very, very nicely.”

Alric got that gleam in his eye that suggested mischief was imminent. “Challenge accepted.”

Cameron grinned into the kiss, allowing himself to be turned onto his back. It was indeed going to be a very, very Merry Christmas.