It’s just a little over a week until Christmas! To celebrate, here’s the opening of DRAGONS’ DESIRE, the third novel in my Sorcha’s Children series 😀

Dragons’ Desire

by Debbie Mumford

Chapter One

Eibhlinn raced along the corridor, her soft leather slippers adding a sibilant whisper to the swish of her long skirts and petticoats. Other ladies of her sister’s court would never demean themselves with such haste. Not only was it unseemly, but physical exertion led to pink cheeks, which were completely out of fashion. Aislinn’s ladies preferred pale, bloodless skin tones. Eibhlinn, however, was not like the other ladies; she was the queen-in-waiting’s sister, and like her royal sister, a dragon-shifter. So no matter how calm and sedentary Eibhlinn tried to be, she would never achieve the desired alabaster complexion. No, the best she could hope was that her exertions would earn her a pink-cheeked glow to downplay the green tinge of her normal coloration.

For perhaps the thousandth time since arriving in Rossal to keep her sister, wife of Crown Prince Ewan and future queen of Rossal, company, Eibhlinn wished for a different heritage. Wished for the porcelain complexion and normal human-colored hair all the other court ladies enjoyed. Well, all but her sister, of course. Aislinn, as Eibhlinn’s sibling and clutch-mate, shared Eibhlinn’s interesting coloration. Of course, Aislinn had already found her mate, so the vagaries of fashion were less important to her.

As a dragon, Aislinn’s scales were a deep midnight blue. Consequently when she wore human form, as she nearly always did now that she was Ewan’s wife, she was blue-eyed, her pale complexion carrying a soft blue tinge, and her hair was the blue-black of a midnight sky.

Similarly, while Eibhlinn’s dragon scales were emerald green, in human form she was green-eyed, her golden hair emblazoned with two emerald streaks, one at each temple. She rather liked her hair, it was the leaf-green tinge to her skin that worried her. Humans seemed to think that a greenish pallor indicated ill-health. So while the court had grown accustomed to Aislinn’s unusual coloration, folk still looked askance at Eibhlinn.

Setting her dissatisfaction with her appearance aside, Eibhlinn slowed to a decorous walk, smoothed her green-streaked golden locks and knocked lightly upon the carved wooden door to Aislinn’s sitting room.

“Come,” called her sister’s voice from within.

Eibhlinn lifted the latch, pushed the door open and stepped inside. A wash of scents met her sensitive nose. Roses and lavender, lilac and bee balm, spruce, sage, and rosemary. Aislinn had thrown open the windows overlooking the royal gardens. Sunlight streamed into the room burnishing the old stone walls with a golden luster and brightening the many tapestries.

Aislinn sat on the stone-flagged floor with her young son Eoin, calling encouragement to him as he rocked on his pudgy hands and knees, trying to figure out how to crawl to his mother. A moment later a muffled pop sounded and the infant human disappeared, replaced by a bronze dragon hatchling who wasted no time reaching the comfort and safety of his mother’s arms.

Kissing her offspring, Aislinn laughed and smiled up at Eibhlinn. “I’m not sure he’ll ever learn to crawl,” she said. “It’s so much easier to simply transform and get where he wants to be.”

Eibhlinn joined them on the floor and held out her hands to her nephew. He quickly wriggled out of his mother’s embrace and ran to Eibhlinn. She lifted him into her lap and stroked his scales until he curled snout to tail and closed his eyes.

“I wouldn’t worry about it. I’ve no idea whether we crawled or not, but we manage our human bodies just fine.”

“True enough,” said Aislinn. “I guess I’ll just have to get used to evading when my ladies ask me whether he’s attained this milestone or that. He’s healthy, and he shifts easily from human to dragon and back again. That’s all that matters.”

Eibhlinn giggled. “I’d like to see the other ladies’ babes try to achieve that!”

Aislinn grinned and reached for Eibhlinn’s hand. “You’re such a comfort to me. Ewan loves me, of course, but he can’t understand what it is to be a shifter. I’m afraid I’d be very lonely here without you.”

“Nonsense. The court adores you and King Dougal has certainly come around since Eoin’s birth.”

“And what a blessing that has been,” Aislinn agreed. “Especially for Ewan. I hated putting him the position of choosing between me and his father.”

Eoin popped back to human infant and Eibhlinn swaddled the sleeping babe in a blanket and handed him to his mother. “You’ve made quite an impression on this castle, young shifter,” she murmured, helping Aislinn to her feet and accompanying her through the door to Eoin’s nursery.

This room was also light and airy, though the windows had been closed. Eibhlinn drew the drapes, darkening the room, while Aislinn carried the little prince to his cradle. This more closely resembled a cage, gilded though it might be, than a traditional infant’s bed. A normal cradle simply couldn’t be expected to keep the royal baby safe, not when he could transform into a hatchling in the blink of an eye. Aislinn sang a soft lullaby as she settled him in a warm nest of blankets, while Eibhlinn rang for Eoin’s nurse.

When the sisters returned to the sitting room, they found Aislinn’s husband Ewan and his cousin Declan waiting for them.

“Ladies,” said Ewan, taking Aislinn’s hands and kissing her cheek as he led her to a chair, “how does our little prince this morning?”

Aislinn smiled up at her tall husband. “He’s bright and happy and has just settled in for a nap.” She joined Ewan on the settle and nodded to Declan, “Please, be seated, my lord.”

“Thank you, highness,” Declan murmured and seated himself opposite his cousin.

Eibhlinn settled into a high-backed chair near her sister and smoothed the skirt of her pale pink morning gown. She’d chosen the gown because she knew the color suited her, made the tinge of green in her complexion and golden hair appear as healthy as the bud of a tender rosebud.

She closed her eyes and sought calm. Her brother-in-law’s handsome cousin always set her heart a flutter. He was the only human male to affect her so and she desperately wanted to appear calm and composed in his presence, wanted Declan to see her as beautiful, capable, and serene. She harbored secret hopes that they might make a match, bond as the dragons thought of it, and wanted to be everything a member of the royal family could desire in a mate.

Opening her eyes, she glanced at Declan and found him studying her. When their gazes met, he smiled, a slow, languid curve of sensuous lips. Eibhlinn’s heart raced and her cheeks flamed. Quickly she lowered her gaze and forced herself to concentrate on the scents of lavender, pine, candle wax and the faint whiff of smoke from burning wicks.

The scent of smoke brought her back to herself. Smoke. A familiar scent among dragonkind. She was a dragon. Not some silly maid infatuated with a handsome man. Dragons bonded for life, and she had a responsibility to choose her mate wisely, as her sister had done. Both sisters, actually. For while Aislinn was the wife of the crown prince and mother of the heir to the throne of Rossal, their other sister Morag had chosen to remain in the ice aerie. She too was now bonded, to Goban, a powerful charcoal dragon, and mother to a fine clutch of three … two shifters and a healthy dragon hatchling.

In truth, Eibhlinn was the last of their clutch of six to remain unbonded. Luag had not chosen a mate, either, but no one expected him to bond. Unlike Taran who was a powerful human wizard and had chosen a human wife, or Brandubh who had bonded with a gold female and was now living with a newly arrived weyr of dragons in the collective, Luag was expected to be the next rex of the ice aerie. As such, it was his destiny to remain unbonded, to have no loyalties above his duty to the aerie.

Aislinn and Ewan.

Taran and Senga.

Morag and Goban.

Brandubh and Ghaliya.

Would Eibhlinn add Declan’s name to the family roster? She raised her chin and smiled at him, calmly noting his nut brown hair, deep blue eyes and well-muscled body. Yes. He might just be worthy of bonding with a dragon shifter.


Want to know what happens next? Find Dragons’ Desire at your favorite online bookseller!

Want to read the entire series? Find my Sorcha’s Children Omnibus Edition here!

About Debbie

Debbie Mumford specializes in fantasy and paranormal romance. She loves mythology and is especially fond of Celtic and Native American lore. She writes about faeries, dragons, and other fantasy creatures for adults as herself, and for tweens and young adults as Deb Logan.
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