dragon cried holding out her hands to admire his handiwork. “Thank you, my dear Kaliq.” She looked into his eyes as she spoke, and suddenly in an instant Nidhug knew what it would be like to be made love to by this great lord of the Shadows. She drew in a sharp breath as heat suffused her body, which threatened to expand to her normal size. She swallowed back the flame in her throat and for a brief moment she glowed ruby-red. Fortunately no one saw what was happening, and the dragon was saved embarrassment. “Kaliq!” she scolded him, and the Shadow Prince shrugged apologetically.
Then together they entered the Great Hall of the castle where the banquet awaited.
“M Y SON IS where? ” Lara, Domina of Terah, said.
It was afternoon in the desert palace of Shunnar. The private garden of the prince was hot, and the heady fragrance of damask roses hung heavy in the air. Along a wall decorated by a stand of tall hollyhocks in reds, pinks, yellows, peach and lavender, several small green birds hovered over the blossoms, their tiny wings beating furiously as their long beaks sipped nectar from the flowers. The garden’s fountain tinkled soothingly, the sunlight giving the arc of spray from it a rainbow appearance.
“Dillon is now the king of Belmair,” Kaliq said quietly.
“Why is my son king of a nebulous world of which I know less than nothing?” Lara demanded of him. “I recall my mother mentioning it briefly many years ago. She said the magic kingdoms call the great sky the Cosmos, and that there were other worlds within it, and the star we call Belmair was one. I could hardly conceive it then. And now you tell me my son is no longer in our world? That he is there?”
“Dillon was needed, and it was his fate to be there,” Kaliq said. “The dragon needed him, Lara, my love.”
“The dragon?” Her voice had risen at least a full octave. “What dragon?”
“The Great Dragon of Belmair, Nidhug,” Kaliq replied. “You must calm yourself, my love, for all is well. Dillon is exactly where he should be at this time.”
“You had no right to steal my son and send him to some other world in this Cosmos of yours!” Lara cried. “Why, at least, did you not tell me first? I have always trusted you, Kaliq. Why did you feel it was necessary to do this without speaking to me beforehand? You know how much I love Dillon.” Her beautiful green eyes were filling with tears. “Will I ever see him again?” Her voice had begun to quaver just slightly.
Kaliq put his arms about her. She was, he thought sadly to himself, as beautiful, as vulnerable, as compelling as she had ever been despite the fact that her oldest children were grown, and her younger children half-grown. “Of course you will see Dillon again. I will take you to Belmair anytime you want to go, Lara, my love.”
For a brief moment she was content to be in his arms, but then she shook him off angrily, stepping back, looking up into his handsome face. “ My son! He is my son! You have overstepped your bounds, Kaliq. How dare you make a decision like this for Dillon without even consulting me first. He is my son! ” she repeated.
Kaliq drew a long breath, and then letting it out he said, “ And he is my son, too, Lara . I cannot fathom that in your faerie arrogance you have believed all these years that his incredible talents and his wondrous powers came just from you. The child of a faerie woman and a mere mortal man could not have gained the wisdom and skills that Dillon showed from his earliest childhood.”
She had been standing, and now she sat down heavily upon a marble bench near the fountain. “I was the child of a faerie woman and a mortal man,” she said.
“Your father had faerie blood in him, too, Lara. You know that even if he did not,” Kaliq reminded her.
“You said you could not give me a child,” Lara reminded him weakly.
“I lied,” Kaliq told her bluntly. “We Shadow Princes can reproduce whenever we