Drew sat beside the window. His heels were drawn up to the edge of the chair seat in front of his butt, his arms were wrapped around his legs, and his chin rested on his knees. A blanket covered his bare back, and he held the corners of it in his hands.
Thoughts buzzed in his brain like bees gathering nectar from a field of clover:
Where was he?
How did he get here?
Who or what was the man sleeping in the bed in front of him?
What happened last night? Men don’t turn into wolves, and there’s no such thing as dragons.
Damien stretched and opened his eyes.
Drew was again pulled into those bright green, swirling eyes.
“What are you thinking?”
“My thoughts are all jumbled right now. I have a million questions.”
“Start with one.”
“Who are you? What are you? Where am I? How did I get here?”
“Whoa. One at a time.” Damien sat up in the bed. “First question, who am I? My name is Damien Talon. What am I? I’m an enforcer for the Council of Shifters. If you mean what kind of creature am I, I’m a dragon shifter. Where are you? In my home. I can’t tell you where that is at this time. Maybe if you stick around, I’ll tell you someday. How did you get here? On my back.
Drew shook his head as if in a daze. “So are you dragon or human?”
“Both.” Damien grinned. “I know it’s hard for a human to comprehend that shifters exist, but we do. My job is to help the shifter community keep a low profile. Humans would freak out if they knew how many shifters live among them. Both of my parents are dragon shifters. They were in human form when I was conceived, and my mother was human when I was born.” He paused. “It’s hard for me to say which form is more natural, but most of the time I stay in human form. Mainly because it’s easier to traverse the human world. Next question.”
“Can I go home, or am I a prisoner?”
Damien chuckled. “Did you feel like a prisoner last night?”
Drew ducked his head and his cheeks warmed as he remembered the nearly sleepless night in Damien’s arms.
“You can go home. You can stay. You can go back and forth. However, for now you can only travel between here and there if I take you. If you want to go, I won’t hold you.”
“What happens if I stay, or if I go and come back?”
“Who knows? We get to know each other better, and maybe become full partners. It’s up to you.”
Drew stood, walked to the bed, and crawled in beside Damien. “I think I’ll stay for now, but I would like to go home and get some clean clothes. I don’t like wearing my work clothes all the time. Plus, I owe it to my boss to give notice and my parents will be worried about me.”
“You live with your parents?”
“Kind of. I have an apartment in their basement.”
“That can all be taken care of later.” Damien lifted the covers and patted the mattress beside him. “Aren’t you cold? Come back to bed and let me warm you.”
Drew stood and walked to the bed.
* * *
Drew struggled to wake up. The ringtone on his cell phone told him the caller was his mother. It stopped before he could get to it. He sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed his eyes.
Damien stroked his back. “Was that your phone? You’re lucky my shifting with you on my back didn’t fry it. Magic can sometimes do that.”
“Yeah. It was my mom’s ringtone. She’s probably worried about me.”
“Cracklin’ Rosie by Neil Diamond?”
“She’s a big fan, and her name is Rose.” He walked to where his pants lay on the floor, picked them up, and pulled the phone from his pocket. The flashing icon indicated a voice mail. He pushed the play button, and put it on speaker.
His mother’s voice asked, “Where are you? Why don’t you answer? Are you okay? The news said you rode off with some stranger on a motorcycle. Are you alive? Please call me.”
“Sounds to me like you’d better call her.” Damien’s eyes sparkled with silent laughter. “I know if it were my mother, that tone would mean I’m in big trouble.”
Drew dialed his parents’ home number and waited. He left his phone on speaker.
“Where are you? I’ve been worried sick since last night after what happened at the restaurant.”
“I’m at a friend’s house. I told you when I moved into Grandma’s old apartment in the basement there might be nights I don’t come home.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “Remember, I’m a twenty-five-year-old gay man, not a teenager. And what do you mean about what happened at the restaurant?”
“The news said that some man chased another man and tackled him, and then two men landed in a helicopter and took him away.”
Drew turned and looked at Damien who shrugged.
“Yeah that’s pretty much what happened,” Drew admitted.
“And you rode off with the guy who tackled the other one.”
“That’s right. He’s an agent for a government agency. Kind of like the FBI. The man he tackled is a murderer. The two men in the helicopter were his superiors and took the man to jail.”
“Are you okay? Where are you? When will you be home?”
“I’m fine. I’m at Damien’s house. I have to work tonight, so I’ll be home this afternoon.”
“Just be careful, Drew. I love you.”
“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m fine. See you this afternoon. Love you too.” He ended the call and sat on the bed beside Damien. “Was that what you meant about erasing my memory? That didn’t sound like what I saw last night.”
“Can you imagine the panic if people started talking about men who turn into wolves and dragons? Like I said, it’s up to me and those like me to keep a low profile.” Damien lifted the covers. “Now come on back to bed.”
“Is that all you think about?”
“Can you think of something better?”
“Well, right now I’m getting a bit hungry. It’s been a long time since dinner, and I’ve burned a lot of calories since then.”
“Okay. Breakfast it is.” Damien threw off the covers and stepped toward Drew.
Drew almost wavered at the sight of Damien’s nearly perfect body and shimmering eyes. He blinked and the eyes returned to normal.