Story Excerpt
Highland Heart

flame div

Artúr groaned as he rolled over and snuggled against the warm naked body curled up on the mattress next to him. He probably shouldn’t have drunk so damn much the night before but the party had been going so well, and the drinks flowing like water.

His head was pounding. Oh wait. That was the door.

With the thought of killing whoever was making his head throb, Artúr rolled to the side of the bed and got to his feet. He winced when his bare feet touched the cold stone floor. He missed the furs he had at home. Artúr stumbled to the large wooden door, and flung it open, ready to take the head off of whoever had interrupted his sleep.

Or not.

“Can I help you?” he asked as he took in the two extremely large royal guards standing in his doorway. Well, they kind of stood just beyond it. They wouldn’t fit in his doorway at the same time. Artúr wasn’t even sure they would fit through the doorway one at a time.

What did they feed these guys?

Oh, right…cows…entire cows.

“Laird Artúr,” one of the guards said in a booming voice that made Artúr wince, “the king has requested your presence in the throne room.” 

Artúr blinked. “Now?”

It wasn’t even light out yet. Artúr was pretty sure he had just gone to sleep. And he had really been enjoying himself. The cute little cocktail server he had taken to his bed last night was still tucked in his bed, which was exactly where Artúr wanted to be.

When the guard just continued to look down at him with a deadpan expression, Artúr rolled his eyes. These guys had no mercy, or sense of humor. “Do I have time to take a shower?” It wasn’t against the law to appear before the king smelling of sex but it was kind of rude.

The guard leaned forward and sniffed, his lip curling back in a disgusted grimace. Considering he was standing there stark ass naked with a gorgeous little blond in his bed, what had created that smell shouldn’t have been surprising.

“Ten minutes,” The guard said.

“Thank you.”

“We’ll wait.”

Or course they would. Both guards turned and took up positions in front of the door. Artúr stared at them for a moment before remembering he only had ten minutes. He shut the door and turned, rubbing his hand down his face as he tried to pull together the inebriated brain cells in his head.

Called before the king.

While the previous night was a little bit of a blur, Artúr was pretty sure he hadn’t done anything that would bring his clan shame or land him in the dungeon. And, while he wasn’t the king’s favorite, he wasn’t his enemy either.

Things had been tense in the highlands but they were tense everywhere. Relation between humans and dragons had been tense for centuries. It was nothing new. And even if they were tense, there had been no real battles between the two races in several years.

After taking over as laird after his father’s death, he had worked very hard to bring about a truce between his clan and the dragon clutch that shared his highland territory. So far, except for a few small skirmishes by idiots with too much time on their hands and alcohol in their systems, things had been relatively quiet.

Artúr was really hoping to keep it that way.

He walked into the bathroom and climbed into the tub, thankful for the wonderful copper tubing that brought hot water into his bath with the turn of knob. Artúr scrubbed down, doing the quickest wash job he had done since military school. Shit, shower, and shave. He had been an expert at getting it done in under ten minutes. Of course, that had been over fifteen years ago. He preferred long hot soaks in the tub now days.

Artúr dried himself off just enough so that his clothes wouldn’t stick to his body and then walked back into the bedroom, heading straight to his traveling bag. Thankfully, he had packed for a few days when he had been ordered to attend the king’s coronation—a month long affair.

He grabbed out a clean pair of black leather pants with matching black leather vest. The white shirt he wore underneath the vest was tight around his torso but loose in the arms, tapering down to his wrists. Artúr finished off his outfit with black leather boots that came up to just below his knees and his silver ceremonial dagger in a sheath at his hip.

Artúr ran his fingers through his hair as he headed for the door, pulling it open and stepping out. He cast one last regretful look at the gorgeous little man still sleeping in his bed and then shut the door. He would so much rather be back in bed with the sexy little server right now. Attending the king first thing in the morning was not his idea of a good time. Still, an order was an order and if he was going to be restrained, he preferred to do it with a lover and not the guy in charge of the dungeon…unless he was really cute.

Artúr waved his hand, gesturing down the hallway. “Lead the way.”