Pia does hollywood, p.1
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       Pia Does Hollywood, p.1

         Part #8.60 of Elder Races series by Thea Harrison
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Pia Does Hollywood


  Pia Does Hollywood

  (A Story of the Elder Races)

  Thea Harrison

  After making a diplomatic pact with humankind and the other leaders of the Elder Races, Pia Cuelebre, mate to Dragos Cuelebre, Lord of the Wyr, reluctantly heads to Hollywood to spend a week with the Light Fae Queen, Tatiana, before the busy Masque season hits New York in December.

  Dragos has never let the lack of an invitation stop him from doing anything he wanted. Unwilling to let his mate make the trip without him, he travels to southern California in secret to be with her.

  But when an ancient enemy launches a shattering assault against the Light Fae, Dragos and Pia must intercede. The destruction threatens to spread and strike a mortal blow against all of the magically gifted, both human and Elder Race alike.

  Working with the Light Fae to neutralize the danger, Dragos and Pia find their deepest vulnerabilities challenged and their most closely held secrets threatened with exposure.

  PIA DOES HOLLYWOOD is the second part of a three-story series about Pia, Dragos, and their son, Liam. Each story stands alone, but fans might want to read all three: DRAGOS GOES TO WASHINGTON, PIA DOES HOLLYWOOD, and LIAM TAKES MANHATTAN.

  Pia Does Hollywood

  Copyright © 2015 by Teddy Harrison LLC

  ISBN 10: 099066614X

  ISBN 13: 978-0-9906661-4-1

  EPUB Edition

  Cover Art © Frauke Spanuthe

  This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, scanned or distributed in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

  Table of Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  About the Book

  Copyright Page

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  About the Author

  Coming Soon

  Look for these titles from Thea Harrison

  Chapter One

  Dramatic music ebbed and swelled on the widescreen TV.

  “Here it comes,” said Liam, poking Pia in the ribs with an insistent finger. “One of my favorite zombie movie quotes ever. Wait for it….”

  For Halloween that year, Liam had set a goal to watch (and in some cases rewatch) all the zombie movies available for rental or purchase. Halloween had since come and gone, and now, in early November, he had fallen behind, but he was still determined to persevere until he had finished all of them.

  The young actor came on the screen. Pia couldn’t remember the guy’s name.

  Then Liam said along with the actor, “In those moments where you’re not quite sure if the undead are really dead, dead, don’t get all stingy with your bullets.”

  When he finished, he cackled.

  She ran her fingers through his honey blond hair, relishing his cheerful mood. “You have the whole movie memorized, don’t you?”

  His dancing violet-blue gaze slid to hers. “Of course.”

  “Why do you like that line more than any of the others?” she asked curiously. “It’s a pretty funny movie.”

  Actually, in truth, she wasn’t a big fan of zombie movies, but she also wasn’t about to tell Liam that. If this was what he wanted to do, why then, she wanted to do it with him.

  Their lives were busy and demanding, and took them away from Liam too much as it was. And childhood was so brief and fleeting at the best of times, but even more so for Liam, as he grew at such a fast rate. As a result, she threw herself into everything he wanted to do with complete enthusiasm. No reservations—she was all in, every time.

  “I do like all the rest of it,” Liam said, his gaze cutting back to the television screen. “I just don’t want to quote too much while it’s playing, so you can enjoy the movie too.”

  My good, sweet boy, she thought. Even when he’s acting like an adorably normal, obnoxious kid, he tries to be considerate.

  They lay on the carpeted floor together, their bodies making a T. Pia stretched out parallel to the couch where Dragos lounged, one leg draped off the couch, his foot planted on the floor.

  Dragos was working on his laptop and half watching the movie along with them. Pia rested one hand around his ankle, enjoying the simple, tactile contact. Liam lay facing the TV with his head propped on her abdomen as a pillow.

  Outside the family room windows, the November weather had turned sharp and cold as a wet, slushy mixture of rain and snow fell, but inside, they were warm and cozy. A fire crackled in the fireplace, filling the place with soft golden light. Pia had a cup of hot cocoa, made with coconut milk, that sat cooling on a coaster on one of the end tables, but she was too comfortable and happy to move.

  At least not yet. She would have to move soon enough.

  As the Cuelebres’ part of the diplomatic deal they had made last month with the other Elder Races demesnes and the human government, later that evening she would be taking the company jet to fly to Los Angeles to visit with the Light Fae Queen, Tatiana, for a week.

  The diplomatic deal stated that each of the seven U.S. demesne leaders was supposed to send a family member to another demesne to visit for a week to foster good will and peace among the demesnes’. The whole concept came from a Medieval practice of nobles sending their children to live in other nobles’ households as hostages.

  Supposedly, the diplomatic pact would lessen the likelihood of inter-demesne violence in the modern day United States, but whatever human idiot in the president’s administration had thought up the scheme didn’t really know jack shit about the Elder Races, their long memories, and their proclivity for holding grudges over centuries.

  A week’s visit wasn’t going to fix anything. In fact, depending on how well or badly that family representative acted, it could very well cause more resentments and bad feelings between the demesnes. Or even outright war.

  Also, it couldn’t have come at a worse time. They had so much to do to get ready for the massive Masque that Dragos hosted in New York on the winter solstice that preparations always began a few months early, so Pia wasn’t going to be forgiving that anonymous fool in a hurry for proposing the idea.

  Dragos, in fact, wanted to reject the pact outright. He wasn’t a fan of decisions made by consensus. At the best of times, he fought to rein in his autocratic instincts whenever the seven demesne leaders needed to convene over anything, and he had especially opposed this particular arrangement. But in the end, Pia told him, it would be easier to acquiesce on this one issue than to dig in their heels.

  She could have waited to go later, after the Masque and sometime early next year. In fact, Tatiana had even emailed her the previous day, suggesting that she come at a later date.

  But when Pia thought of the reason why that option wasn’t attractive, she lost her crankiness and began to smile.

  All things considered, it was better for her to suck it up, get on the plane that night and get the damn visit over with, despite how much she dreaded spending the week with the Light Fae Queen and her nosy questions. So she emailed Tatiana back, thanked her for the suggestion, and said she would be touching down in L.A. the next morning as originally planned.

  Dragos would be traveling to Los Angeles too, under separate cover. He di
dn’t volunteer how he was going to make the trip, and she didn’t ask. Probably he would relish the chance to stretch out his massive wings and fly cross-country in the darkness and solitude, but they had agreed—if she didn’t know what he was doing, she could say with perfect sincerity that she had traveled alone to the Light Fae demesne.

  After all, the best way to lie to someone with a highly developed truthsense was to, well, tell the truth. Pia believed wholeheartedly in plausible deniability, at least as much as possible.

  After her exchange with Liam, she met Dragos’s amused gaze, gave him a small nod, and squeezed his ankle. In answer, he closed his laptop as she said to Liam, “Hey sport, could you put the movie on pause for a few minutes?”

  Instantly, Liam’s sparkling smile vanished, and he scowled. “You said you could watch the whole movie with me before you left.”

  “I know I did, and I will watch the whole movie with you,” she told him. “But first, your dad and I have something important we want to tell you.”

  Heaving a sigh, he held up the remote and hit pause. “What is it now?”

  “Don’t be pissy,” Dragos told him. “And while you’re readjusting your attitude, sit up and turn around.”

  Pia could feel Liam sigh again, but so far, he had been unwilling to challenge Dragos’s authority when Dragos used that particular tone with him. (And lordy, wouldn’t life get interesting whenever Liam did decide to challenge Dragos and rebel.)

  As the boy pushed to a sitting position and swiveled to face the couch, Pia sat too and leaned back against Dragos’s legs.

  As Dragos dropped a large, warm hand onto her shoulder, he asked her telepathically, Do you want to be the one to tell him?

  She drew up her knees and wrapped her arms around them, hugging herself with glee. It’s okay with me either way. You can tell him if you want.

  Okay. Dragos switched to verbal speech. “Liam, we’re pregnant. You’re going to have a new sibling.”

  For the space of a moment, Liam’s expression went blank with surprise.

  He held still just long enough that Pia had time to rethink their decision. She and Dragos had kept the news to themselves for a few weeks, which was easy to do since the new little peanut appeared to be determined to keep his—or her—presence a secret. Only Pia’s doctor and Eva knew the truth, and only because Pia had collapsed last month during their trip to Washington for the Elder Races/human summit meetings.

  But what if Liam reacted poorly, for some reason? What if he wasn’t happy with the news? They were dropping a big bombshell on him then leaving for a week, so they wouldn’t be around to help him work through any of his emotions.

  Anxiously, she twisted her hands together and came to a fast decision. If he reacted poorly, she was going to override his decision to stay home and in school. She would make him come to L.A. with her. Somehow, she would juggle things so that she would get some time alone with him.

  Then Liam’s expression changed into one of pure joy. “Oh wow, really? Are you kidding me?” he exclaimed. “You mean I’m not going to be the only one anymore? That’s fantastic!”

  Thank the gods. Her face broke into a beam as she nodded. “Yes, we’re pregnant. Really, truly!”

  He dove forward to sprawl on his stomach and put his hand on her abdomen. “When did it happen? Is it going to be a brother or a sister? Can I feel it?”

  “Be careful,” she said quickly. When he tilted his head to look up at her, she told him, “Yes, you can try to sense it, but you have to be super gentle so you don’t scare it. He—or she—is cloaking pretty hard. That could just be part of its nature, or maybe I frightened it. We got pregnant when we went to D.C., and I was pretty stressed that week.”

  She tried not to obsess over what had happened last month when they had traveled to Washington to participate in a summit between the leaders of the Elder Races and the human government, but the thought that she might have frightened that new, tiny spark bothered her quite a bit. Between the anti-Elder Races sentiment, the occasional outright hostility, the vice president’s husband being murdered at their house during a very important dinner party and Pia’s subsequent collapse, it had been one of the roughest weeks she had ever lived through.

  Liam frowned. “I don’t remember being frightened, and from all the stories you’ve told me, you were pretty stressed when you got pregnant with me too.”

  “You have a point.” She wanted to believe him badly and bit her lip. “I know you’ve said before that you didn’t pay attention to much of what happened outside your own experience, except the time that Urien shot me.”

  The time she—they—had almost died. Then, Liam, who had been nothing more than a peanut himself, had flared up to try to heal her, until Dragos laid his Power over the bright, new little spark and gentled him down.

  A good thing, too, Dragos murmured in her head. Considering all the rampant sex we had.

  Laughter flared, and she looked over her shoulder at him with dancing eyes. And continue to have.

  “Yeah, that’s right,” Liam said, resting his cheek on her leg. “I remember sleeping a lot. Man, those were the best naps. I just sorted of drifted, weightless. And I remember feeling like you were so big, you were my entire universe. Which I guess you were.”

  She ran her fingers through his hair again. “And you felt safe?”

  “Totally safe, except that once.” His smile faded only briefly then returned. “Then I remember Dad being there, and I was safe again.”

  Relief coursed through her. Dragos’s fingers tightened gently on her shoulder. She reached up to stroke his long, warm fingers as she said, “Okay, if this peanut is anything like you were, then what was happening in my reality won’t really impinge on his—or her—awareness. Agh, these pronouns are going to be hard to juggle until we know the sex of the baby. Anyway, it must be cloaking itself out of instinct, so that’s part of its nature.”

  “Can you sense it now?” Liam asked.

  “I can, but your dad had to show me how at first. And he only knew because Dr. Medina told us I was pregnant,” she replied. “Want me to show you?”

  He nodded, and when he sank his bright, familiar Power into her body—gods, Liam was every bit as strong as Dragos—she brushed her awareness against his and told him telepathically, Ease up a little there. You’re feeling pretty intense.

  Sorry! he said. I’m just excited.

  I know. I am too. When his presence lightened, she guided him to the subtle, tiny shadow, and together they hovered to observe it.

  After a few moments, it occurred to her that Liam had unique capabilities that were quite different from anything she, Dragos or Dr. Medina had.

  She asked him curiously, This little shadow is all any of us can pick up. Can you sense anything?

  Once again, he took his time in responding, and she held her breath as she waited for his reply.

  Finally, he said, I’m not sure. As I watch it, I keep getting impressions of fire.

  Fire? she repeated. I guess that would make sense. Both you and your dad are pretty fiery.

  She felt rather than saw, Liam shake his head. No, I’m not quite the same as Dad. I don’t think I’m as hot as this one is. This one feels as hot as Dad does, to me.

  Oh wow, was she going to have another dragon baby? The suspense was going to kill her!

  Hugging herself tighter, she told herself she wasn’t going to ask it, but then immediately she caved and asked it anyway. Can you sense if it’s a boy or a girl?

  This time, he answered her quickly. No, I’m not picking anything else up. Just heat and fire.

  Well, that’s more than your dad and I have been able to sense so far. How exciting! As Liam’s presence pulled away, she surfaced with him. They grinned at each other.

  “You both look like a pair of Cheshire cats,” Dragos told them. He was smiling as well.

  “Tell him what you saw.” She poked Liam in the stomach. “Tell him!”

  He was very ticklish,
and his lanky body folded around her prodding finger as he laughed. “I’m not sure I saw anything!”

  “You did too,” she insisted. Twisting to look at Dragos, she told him, “He did too.”

  “You’ve got good instincts,” Dragos told Liam. “Trust them. What was it?”

  “I just kept getting impressions of fire,” Liam said to his father. “That’s all. It felt hotter than I do, more like you.”

  “Ah,” said Dragos, with intense male satisfaction. “That sounds like it could be another dragon.”

  “You don’t know that.” Pia waved a cautioning finger in the air. “It could mean a fiery nature.”

  “True.” He captured her finger, pulled her hand to him and kissed the finger. “But I doubt Liam would just sense a hothead. My guess is, whether the baby is a dragon or not, Liam is somehow reading the new one’s Power.”

  Laughing, Liam held up both hands. “I don’t know anything for sure! Maybe I imagined it. I just think it’s so cool I’m going to have a baby brother or sister. Maybe it’ll be like me in some ways!”

  Did that statement carry a hint of loneliness in it? Always hypersensitive to the possibility, Pia’s heart clutched at the thought.

  So many things served to isolate him. He had so little in common with other children. He was growing up so fast, he couldn’t make lasting friends, and he was the prince of his people, with both unusual dangers and unusual privilege. And as he said, his nature was not like his father’s; Dragos was, at heart, a solitary creature. Liam loved people.

  In the next instant, the feeling melted into another warm glow of happiness. If Liam had felt any kind of loneliness at being an only child with such a unique nature, this new little one had already eased it.

  Dragos said quietly, “I think you need to leave. Right now, the temps haven’t dropped below freezing, but I want you safely in the air and well away from here before ice develops on the runway. There’s more than an hour left to the movie—you’ll have to watch the rest of it after the trip after all.”

 
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