Glancing around the room, Noah tried to listen to the woman in front of him as she prattled on about the upcoming release from some new designer. Supposedly, the designer was making outfits dragons could shift in. It was an intriguing notion, but Noah didn’t see how it could work. There was too much of a size difference between a dragon’s three forms. No way could the same garment be used in all of them. He filed the information away for future investigation. It was always good to know about the new trends in the dragon world, although he—being human—would probably never wear them.
Taking a sip of the golden liquid in his champagne flute, Noah looked around at the crowd. He both loved and hated these events. A dragon gala brought out the cream of the crop in their finest, and tonight’s event was no different. Every dragon who was anyone had come out to celebrate the king’s birthday. Alongside the finely dressed men was an amazing array of beautiful women. There was everything from sophisticated evening gowns to barely there cocktail dresses, and Noah had a great view of them all. The drawback… He had to do it sober. It would have been so much better if the sparkling apple juice in his glass had been champagne, like the rest of the guests were drinking. But, then again, he wasn’t a guest. He had a job to do.
Speaking of jobs…
Noah turned his attention inward and traced the lines of power out, feeling the protections he’d helped install. The chateau the king had chosen for the party was naturally well protected. Thick hedges of holly bordered up against the iron fences that circled the property, making it hard to get onto the grounds uninvited. But with dragons coming up missing, the king wanted no chances taken with his party guests, so six of Eternity’s finest mages had gotten together and set up magical protections.
Noah had the honor of being one of those six. If honor was what you called the exhausting task. It had taken nearly twelve hours to set the magical circle that could be raised in an instant to keep out an attacking force. The circle also monitored anything of power that crossed it. The mages had spent the first part of the party watching the only gate into the grounds, vetting each source of magic that crossed the line, and there had been quite a few. Each dragon that entered raised a warning flag. That had been expected. What had not been expected was the number of magical items the guests had brought. Glamour spells had been everywhere. It seemed every young lady had some small trinket to enhance her beauty in some way or another. But even the slightest traces of magic had to be checked.
Just a few weeks ago, Daniel—the head of Eternity—had brought in a small medallion to be studied. Only a few of the top mages had even seen the item. Noah had been one of the few who had been able to touch and study it. The magic on the item was weak, but it did strange things. The few dragons who had touched the amulet complained that there was a distance between their human and dragon selves. Sometimes, the space would fade quickly. Other times, it would linger long enough to keep the dragon in question from shifting between forms for a while. Unfortunately, the spell faded away before they could determine exactly what it did.
As the only human mage in that select group, Noah had spent most of his time handling the necklace so the others could study it without being affected by its power. That led to some long hours in the lab. Thankfully, the medallion’s power only burned through some of the dye he had used to color his hair. His Irish red hair was kissed with the silver that marked him as a human who used heavy magic—a stigma he tried very hard to hide. Thankfully, he had found a place that accepted him and his talents.
“Are you listening to me?”
The voice of the young lady in front of him broke into Noah’s thoughts. For a moment, he had forgotten she was there.
“Yes.” He smiled at her warmly, trying to recall what she’d been rambling on about. “I can’t see how that’s going to change fashion trends,” he said, hoping she was still on the topic of the new garments and hadn’t moved on to something else while he’d been distracted.
“Oh, but it will!” She went on about some new type of material that was going to be used in next year’s line of gowns.
Noah let out a sigh of relief as he nodded at her encouragingly. The one-track mind of this debutante had saved him from a very awkward explanation. He was supposed to be blending in with the crowd, watching for hazards that may have slipped past the guards at the gate, not exposing the fact that he was security. He was also supposed to be circulating through the guests, but this young lady had latched on to him harder than most. Apparently, the silver in his hair had convinced her he was an older, distinguished gentleman. Well, that and the finely tailored tuxedo he was sporting. In truth, the lady was probably double his age. She was, after all, a dragon. They aged much slower than humans did. It was one of the few things Noah envied about dragons. That, and the whole fire-breathing, flying thing. There were very few people out there who didn’t envy the ability to shift into another form. But that was a thought for another time.
Looking up, Noah caught the eye of another of Eternity’s security guards circling the floor. Demarco. Noah nodded his head slowly at the lady in front of him, and Demarco nodded back. There was an understanding between the men that if any of them should get caught in an unwanted position, another would come and help get them out. Noah was glad when the chocolate-skinned dragon stepped up beside the young woman………………………………………………