Here is the beginning of one of the projects I'm considering for my bestseller challenge. Would love to hear what everyone thinks. (DRAGON'S BRIDE, historical/paranormal romance)
The clamoring had been going on for awhile outside his ancient cave by the time the dragon finally opened an eye. Just the one. He wasn’t prone to overreacting.
Sounded like half a village was out there. He stirred and drew a deep breath of musty air in anticipation of exercise. But even as Draknart began to stretch to full height, a soft bundle tumbled down the steep slope of the entrance. Another virgin sacrifice. He plopped back onto the hard stone with a disappointed grunt. He would have preferred a good fight.
As she stood, her reddish braid swung to her shapely arse. She wore precious little, and all of it was skin tight.
The other eye opened. The light came from behind her, so he could see little beyond her shape, which was boldly curvaceous and scandalously bare. “Have they run out of virgins at the village?”
She reached over her shoulder and pulled out a sword that looked too large and heavy for her. Regardless, her movements were smooth and fluid-like. “They ran out of knights.”
“There’s been a war then?” He wondered how long he’d been asleep this time.
She nodded as she took a step closer.
“And draught?” he guessed.
He gave a rumbling sigh. T’was only when things went badly in the valley that they remembered the dragon in the hills. Depending on whatever leader they had at the time, they would either try to kill him or appease him, convinced that once they’d done something to him, everything would go back to being just fine.
She stalked closer, an odd thing to do for one of her kind. Most fainted right off at the sight of him. The ones with sturdier constitutions shrieked a little first before folding. The truly extraordinary even got in a yard or two of running. Instead, this one stood tall and appeared to be staring him down. He shifted to get a better look, stretching his aching limbs. She did jump back at that, but only a little. Limber. She ought to be on those long legs. He especially admired her lean, shapely thighs.
“The flood washed away your clothes?” he inquired.
Her cheeks pinked, but she wouldn’t be distracted enough to put the sword down. “My brother’s clothes. A long skirt with petticoats would get snagged in a fight.”
Practical. She seemed to have more common sense than all the previous virgins put together, and more courage than most of the knights.
His stomach grumbled, the sound echoing through the main chamber of the cave. He always woke ravenous after a long sleep. He measured up the maiden. Something to hold him over until he flew out and found a deer herd large enough to suit his appetite.
“How might you be doing it then?” He couldn’t help another question. A long time had passed since he’d been able to converse with anyone. The virgins fainted in short order. The knights charged and died.
Her sword came up. “Straight through the heart.” But she didn’t move forward.
“You know where the heart is on a dragon?”
She blinked at him. She’d sidled into the cave, no longer blocking the light that filtered in from outside, so he could see her face at last. She had dark, fiery eyes.
He pointed at the middle of his chest, halfway between where his great wings began.
“Thank you.” She was nothing if not polite.
“You had training with the sword?”
“Some. I had nine brothers. All killed in the war.” A soft vulnerability crept into her voice. She seemed to shake that off as she took another step toward him. She was now close enough to strike.
He shifted into a defensive position, but only half seriously. He expected her to charge forward, at which point he would capture and disarm her. Instead, the tricky little thing vaulted onto his back, ran along his spine and went for his eye.
He shook her off with a surprised roar, regretting it when she slammed against the rock. He gave an angry grunt. He hadn’t meant to break her so fast. But to his relief, and to her credit, she bounced right back, holding the sword in front of her. She moved forward again. He caught a discouraged look shadowing her fine eyes, a look that hadn’t been there before. He missed their spark.
“T’was a good effort. Didn’t see it coming,” he consoled her. “You’ll do better on the next try.” He flicked his tail in anticipation. He was willing to stifle his need to feed for the sake of a little sport. True entertainment was rare in his life, and he found the maiden refreshingly unpredictable so far.
She charged for the heart this time. Managed to prick him hard enough to draw blood, before he pulled the sword away and held her up for inspection. Her round breasts bounced in interesting ways as she struggled. Another kind of hunger stirred inside him.
The previous virgins had been scented with lavender water. He nudged her with his snout. “You smell like axel grease.”
She used her bare fists to smack him between the eyes.