Okay, I'm ready (again). I had to do a lot of rewriting. I had to add over 17K words. I still have some small things to add and smooth out (just details like ... about the room they're standing in etc ...) but I think all for the story is there now.
Inside the one book, is three books. Book One is the "High School Years". Book Two is "The Flat Years" which can be thought of as the college/university years. Book Three will wrap up the university portion of their lives and lead to the next phase. Their mid-twenties. Everything will wrap up with an epilogue to hint as to where the series will go.
In between the end of this book and the next will be some years BUT, I have plans to write some short (don't laugh, they will be short!) novellas to tell some of the stories within this book that happen off screen and the years between this book and the next.
Phew. That's a lot!
This was a hard story to put together properly because it's so long. I've had tireless help from the betas and my editor. I could not have done this one alone. Huge thank you to all of them (7 betas and one editor). You have made this book so much better.
But you don't want to listen to me natter on. You came for the excerpt! The vote was unanimous: All of the above! Ha!
So I will do a sample of each, sweet Charlie and Jude, sexy Charlie and Jude, Charlie in jeans, Jude and Wells, Jude and Mads (comforting fatherly scene).
... oh and I won't forget ... spanking!
Tonight, let's go with sexy Charlie and Jude ... how they met. Also, I small peek into the father/son relationship between Mads and Jude.
What you need to know:
Jude plays football. Not American football, but "soccer". They live in the UK and so they never call it "soccer" but I make it clear in another way through the book. For now, I'll just tell you. It's also a Wizard's vrersion. They use something called a "starball" they control with the kind of magic this world uses.
Anyway, don't worry about that so much for now. It will all make sense when the whole thing is read. For this excerpt it's enough to know what I've said above.
If you want some music, I always have "The Zoo" by The Scorpions in my head for this part... because it's the savage rock music Charlie's playing ;) Enjoy!
Thank you to Reader_abee for the lovely edits!
Dragon Tamer Excerpt
Copyright to Mock 2021
He’s pleased, until his starball acts up and decides to turn toward the roof rather than the direction he’d sent it.
Right. He forgot to ask his father to fix it.
With some magical assistance, he retrieves his ball from the roof and continues, determined to figure out what’s wrong with it. It behaves erratically—it’s wonkier than Merlin’s hat today.
On the fourth round, the little bugger turns on a dime and flies straight toward the open garage. It crashes and there’s a whole lot of swearing. Shite! Jude runs in. “I’m so, sorry Mr. Westleeee—oh.”
In front of him is the most beautiful man Jude’s ever seen. It has to be Charlie—a very topless—Charlie Westley. He’s heavily muscled—probably from all the dragon taming—with long Westley red hair (the deepest copper married with crimson) that reaches the middle of his back. He’s freaking tall, towering way over Jude who just makes five feet, nine inches. The man must be somewhere over six and a half feet. His face is chiseled perfection and shaded with a bit of gruff Jude wants to nuzzle his cheek against. His eyes are a pretty cornflower blue, with pouty lips to match. Except, there’s nothing pouty about him. He exudes danger, which is a huge turn on for Jude, like staring into the eye of a storm and hoping it will fuck you.
J-J-Jude c-c-an’t breathe.
Charlie’s hard body is decorated with tattoos, and he’s scarred to hell. One place is particularly bad where it’s clear a dragon tried to take a chunk out of him with lots of teeth, and another where the skin has been seared clean off and has grown back on its own—no potion use—judging from its slippery pink appearance. In fact, his torso is a patchwork quilt of his fair skin tone meshed with slippery pink. Charlie has to be tough as nails working with dragons and it shows. Jude bets Charlie could harness thunder. To top it all off, he smells like grease and man sweat from working on the bike before him, and it’s driving Jude fucking wild. And is that…? Oh yeah it is. Charlie has loud, savage ungifted folk rock music playing in the background.
All Charlie’s intensity is focused on Jude and it’s hard to bear. Breathe, Judy. Breathe. In his meaty hand, Charlie holds Jude’s starball.
“This yours, mate?” His voice is deep. Rough. His accent is thick like it came from the boondocks of old England. “Nearly took my eye out.”
“Um, yeah. Sorry,” Jude says taking it. “I’m Jude, Preston’s friend.” Jude extends a hand, Charlie ignores it crossing his thickly muscled arms. The motorbike he’s working on is massive and shiny and black. Apparently, it flies. Very Charlie, even though Jude doesn’t know a thing about Charlie other than the whole dragons thing.
“I know who you are,” Charlie says, in a way that doesn’t mean the good kind of “I know who you are”.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Every time my little brother’s in trouble, it’s got your name attached to it. You’re a bad influence.”
Jude sputters. Yeah, they get up to trouble but since at least half of it is the war on Rycroft and his cronies—which is currently paused considering their not-sex activities—which he doesn’t feel should count against his character. Not a good defense though. The majority of that trouble is Preston-inspired. If anyone’s the bad influence, it’s Preston. He’s not going to sacrifice his friend to the werewolves though—or a dragon tamer as the case may be.
“Just as I thought,” Charlie says, taking his silence for confession. Charlie stares, unmoving and breathing heavy like he’s been shot with a blast of wizard’s fire.
He doesn’t mean to, but the energy builds within him. Charlie watches the embers sparkle up Jude’s fingers. When the same thing happened with Rycroft, he was quick to disengage. Not Charlie. “You’re not afraid?”
Charlie smirks. With a flick of his wrist, he captures the energy that was Jude’s to command, the power of it leaving Jude fast enough it’s like a punch in the gut. It sparkles and gleams orange-white in the dragon tamer’s massive hand.
How did he do that…? He’s only ever known his father to be able to do things like that.
He shakes it out in a wave. Black and blue glitter disperses as a dragon prancing across a starry sky.
Well now he’s just showing off.
“That’s some power you’ve got there, Parker. My hand will be burnin’ all night.”
Charlie thinks he’s powerful when he can do that? “M-My father. I think I get it from him.” Stupid. What a stupid thing to say.
Charlie’s lips twist, amused. “At least you’ve got someone to guide all that. All right, you can go. Don’t let me catch you gettin’ up to larkiness.”
Wha—What? Jude blinks. Was that supposed to turn him on? Not likely.
But it does.
Not in a sexual way. In a way Jude’s not sure he can explain.
He scurries out of there and it only occurs to him afterward that Charlie had ‘dismissed’ him. Git. Jude resolves to stay out of the giant ox’s way.
Charlie is cool with Jude, but Jude feels the steely eyes as he moves through the house. Jude tries to pretend Charlie isn’t there but it’s impossible. His skin prickles whenever Charlie walks into the same room as him, and Jude flushes hotly whenever their eyes accidently meet.
He waits for the fire burning between them to cool.
Charlie’s an ogre. A devastatingly handsome ogre. When he sits in chairs, he makes them look like they’re meant for toddlers. Jude’s not even sure they’re sturdy enough to hold him. He never curls over to make himself smaller. He sits up tall and proud taking up as much space as he needs to.
He has to squeeze through the kitchen that’s way too small for the many Westley children who run through it, it’s definitely too tiny for a dragon tamer. Jude’s almost crashed into him more than once. Each time his life flashes before his eyes. Not because the dragon tamer is threatening him, because his heart beats so wildly he’s sure it’s going to stop.
In addition to his size, Charlie has machismo that permeates everything. The way he dresses adds to his ambiance. His long, pale brown jacket he wears over his white shirt and trousers is leather, and it flaps and creaks in time with his gait. When he’s not working on his bike, he wears black fingerless gloves—even in the house—and a broad red bandana around his neck. His boots though, they define him. Tall—to his knees—and black, clicking with purpose, announcing his presence when he wants them to. Quiet and concealed when he doesn’t.
Charlie catches his gaze again; Jude narrows his hawk-like brow at him. The moving mountain flinches and Jude bites his cheek to keep from laughing.
Father arrives on Christmas Eve and Jude has never been so glad to see him.
He races over, offering to take his long coat and hang it in the entryway closet.
Mads hugs him. “Have you behaved yourself?”
“Of course. Your perfect angel.”
“I know you better than that, Parker.”
“You’re the one who said I could stay up late as I wanted,” Jude says, smirking.
“Which only means more time to get up to mischief. Is Myra around? I’d like to thank her for taking you off my hands and giving me peace and quiet for Christmas.”
Jude rolls his eyes. “She’s in the kitchen, sir.”
Mads heads in that direction. Jude’s intent to follow but his skin prickles. He should keep walking, but he turns to set eyes on the freshly showered dragon tamer who smells like lavender soap. “Professor Payne is your father?” Disappointment laces his tone.
“Something else you’re going to judge me for without knowing me?”
How nice it feels to say something snarky to Charlie for once. In fact, he’s inclined to say all the snarky things to Charlie. Charlie brings it out in him.
Charlie isn’t as offended as he’d like him to be. “I thought that death gaze looked familiar. Only a Payne stare can say ‘I want to eviscerate you’ with a look.”
“It’s Prince, actually.”
“No. A Prince stare says ‘no one will ever find your body’, which is what those silver eyes are telling me right now.” Then Charlie smiles.
Merlin have mercy when he smiles. It’s knee-weakening. Jude barely holds it together.
“You’re a lunatic. Most people run in the opposite direction when they’re given looks like that, not stick around for conversation.”
“Trust me when I say I’ve never been so petrified of something so thin and fragile seeming in my life.”
Yet here he stands. He must be making fun of him. “You don’t look it.”
“I tame dragons, Parker. It’s best not to let them know the effect they’re havin’ on you, or you get eaten.”
“If I’m so thin and fragile, what are you afraid of?”
“Seeming, I think I said. I mean, you are thin—a few pounds wouldn’t hurt you, Parker—but you’re not fragile.”
It happens again. The build. The light in his fingers without him thinking about it.
Charlie is very good at hiding his reactions. Jude’s not sure anyone else would notice the dragon tamer’s barely-there frown. Jude only just catches it.
Unlike before, there’s a little fear in the dragon tamer’s eyes. That doesn’t stop him. He approaches Jude slowly, like—Jude imagines—he might approach one of his dragons. “Whoa. Easy now. I’m not going to hurt you.”
Jude stares, calmed by whatever energy the man’s exuding because he is doing something. It gives Charlie the space to place his hands over Jude’s. This time instead of reaping the energy, he holds it with his magic. His eyes close and a serene smile graces his full lips. When he opens them, the light moves to Charlie’s hand like he’s breathing it in and then it falls away as he releases it back into the field for Jude.
“I’m afraid because you’re probably going to be the death of me, Parker,” Charlie says.
“You’d better start making sense.”
“Look, I didn’t know you belonged to Mads and I’m sorry,” Charlie begins again. His attempt at an apology goes over as well as the first time.
“So, what, now I’m okay because you approve of my father? Shove off.”
When Charlie frowns at you, it’s like the whole world’s frowning at you. “I suppose I deserved that, but you are a right brat, don’t deny it,” Charlie says when he sees Jude is going to. “Your father saved my parents once; I owe him a great deal.”
“Send him flowers, he’ll like that.” Also fuck this guy.
“No. Stay a minute,” Charlie says gripping his wrist hard enough Jude feels every scar on his rough hand like it’s braille. Jude stays, staring up at him. Charlie is a prat but he’s a mesmerizing prat. “You’re not making this easy, kid. Look, my sincere apologies about before. I was worried about my brother. I was worried about the wrong thing.”
His apologies piss Jude off. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll stay out of your way. You won’t even have to see me after tonight.”
Jude wants to pry his eyes away from the man but that’s an impossibility. Charlie is too imposing and otherworldly with his stupid silky red hair that flows over his giant muscles. Jude could look at him all day for years and never solve the wonder of him. Why does he have to be so bloody gorgeous?
Charlie’s gaze moves to the bottom of the closet where Jude stashed his starball. He’d intended on a game with Preston before he left but he didn’t want to chance it with how wonky it was acting. He’s hoping his father might be able to fix it for him. Charlie moves too fast for Jude to keep up. He’s got the starball in his hand. “There’s the demon that nearly took my eye out. I’ll be takin’ this.”
“What? No. Charlie. Give it back right now.” Jude jumps, trying to knock it from his hand but the man is too fecking tall. Using magic to knock something out of someone’s hand in the house is ill-advised.
“No, I don’t think I will.”
“What’s going on?” Preston says, arriving—hopefully—to help Jude with the brute.
“He’s going to murder me if I don’t get out of here,” Charlie says, leaving with Jude’s ball, but not before he smiles his beautiful smile at Jude—just for Jude.
Jude might melt.
“You all right, mate?” Preston asks.
Jude’s annoyed for the rest of the night. Charlie fecking Westley, ruining a perfectly good evening.
Later, when they’re home, his father catches onto his mood. “You all right, son?”
“It’s nothing,” Jude insists. “Just … one of Preston’s brothers getting on my nerves.”
Mads leans back and appraises him. “Charlie?”
“Yeah, how did you know?” Preston has a million brothers, but he’d barely noticed them this visit.
“He asked me about you tonight.”
“Yeah, I know. Wanted to make sure I was properly supervised and all that.”
Mads laughs. “Your reputation precedes you.” Jude frowns. “My apologies, my boy. You are not to be teased just now I see. I didn’t give away your personal information, Jude. My loyalty is to you first, everyone else is second.”
That statement brings Jude to cry. He never thought he’d have something like this. He doesn’t need anything for Christmas, he just wants his father to love him this much forever.
Mads pulls Jude to him. “Something he said got to you.”
“It’s just that … do you think people will ever see me? Or will I always be the little trouble-making boy, abandoned by his parents?” Jude says, wiping his eyes.
“People do, Jude. Lots of people. Unfortunately, there will always be chowderheaded fools who judge you without getting to know you first,” Mads says, running a hand through his hair.
Jude laughs. “You saying Charlie is a chowderhead?”
Jude laughs louder at the simple honesty. His father always knows exactly how to cheer him up.
“If you wish, I have several potions I’m dying to brew that require ‘eye of a dragon tamer’.”
Now Jude’s laughing hard enough his stomach hurts. He wipes his eyes. “I’m tempted to tell you yes, but I know you’ll do it.” Mads is basically the Wizarding Mafia.
“Now, forget about Charlie. I recommend forgetting about Westleys altogether, it makes for a much more pleasant evening. It certainly makes me feel better. To bed with you. I have it on good authority you stayed up late every night. A good night’s sleep will do you good before tomorrow.”
It never ceases to surprise Jude how his father picks up on nearly everything. He just hopes it’s not truly everything, especially his relations with Wells.
Jude heads to bed, Charlie Westley far from his mind.