Pia saves the day, p.1
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       Pia Saves the Day, p.1

         Part #6.60 of Elder Races series by Thea Harrison
 
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Pia Saves the Day


  Pia Saves the Day

  Thea Harrison

  In the latest story of the Elder Races, two mates face their deadliest challenge yet—each other…

  Pia and Dragos’s magical young son, Liam (the Peanut), is growing at an unprecedented rate, and if that isn’t enough, he is also exhibiting new, and unpredictable, magical gifts. To protect him, the concerned parents decide to move to upstate New York.

  Both Dragos and Pia relish the idea of leaving behind the city. They finally have the space to indulge their Wyr side, and Liam can grow in safety. It’s a breath of fresh air—literally—but their idyllic situation is shattered when Dragos is injured in a freak accident.

  Stripped of his memory and bereft of Pia’s taming influence, there’s nothing holding back Dragos’s darkest side. And in order to restore her family and save her mate, Pia must confront the most powerful menace in Elder Races history.

  It’s going to take more than a penny to fix this…

  Pia Saves the Day

  Copyright © 2014 by Teddy Harrison LLC

  ISBN 10: 0989972852

  ISBN 13: 978-0-9899728-5-7

  Nook Edition

  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.

  To all my wonderful, supportive author friends,

  especially Courtney, Vivian, Bree and Libby,

  all of whom have been so generous with sharing

  their knowledge, opinions and experience.

  And to my assistant Janine, who has embraced this crazy

  lifestyle with such enthusiasm.

  Table of Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  About the Book

  Copyright Page

  Dedication

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  About the Author

  Coming July 2014: Peanut Goes to School

  Look for these titles from Thea Harrison

  Chapter One

  Pia fluffed her new haircut as Eva turned their SUV onto the long drive that led up to the house. When Pia realized she was still distancing herself from claiming the sprawling mansion as her own, she made a deliberate choice to change the wording in her head.

  Their house—her house—was located in upstate New York, nestled in two hundred acres of land that contained virgin forest and a lake with water so clean and clear, it sparkled like a blue jewel in the sun.

  While the estate was beautiful, she found it surprisingly hard to stake an emotional claim to it, but hopefully that would change with all of the renovations, when the house truly became her home.

  “Stop fussing,” Eva said. “Or you’re gonna mess it up.”

  “I can’t help it,” she muttered, even as she forced herself to drop her hands into her lap. “I’ve never had my hair cut this short before, and it feels weird.”

  The summer had been a whirlwind of activity, and it was still only July. After they vacationed in Bermuda—a trip that had been full of wonderful moments and unexpected stresses—they went straight into the annual political season that surrounded the summer solstice. Amidst parties, meetings and other inter-demesne functions that were attended by representatives of all the Elder Races, Dragos and his sentinels had worked double time to make sure all the sentinels got their promised time off.

  At the same time, he and Pia set in motion plans to move upstate, build personal quarters for staff and an office complex, and completely redo the large mansion on the estate.

  Meanwhile, Peanut kept growing, growing, growing. Because both his parents held such rare forms of Power, Dragos said he was springing into existence in a way that was reminiscent of the first of the Elder Races, at Earth’s dawning.

  Peanut’s journey was not quite the same—at the birth of the world, magic had been wild and prolific, and the first-generation Elders had not gone through any childhood phase. Still, it had become more than apparent their son would not live any kind of ordinary life. While he was only four months old, he had already reached the size of a very precocious toddler, and it took everything Pia had to try to keep up with him.

  From one day to the next, her patience snapped with the upkeep involved in taking care of her waist-length hair. It had to go.

  Now the bottom of her new hairstyle touched her shoulders, and it was layered throughout. She had lost so much hair, she felt almost light-headed, and the ends tickled her collarbones as she turned her head from side to side.

  She was very pleased with how the feminine style suited her triangular face, and it felt so much cooler, she was already in love with it.

  However, she hadn’t told Dragos she was getting her hair cut, and now she was starting to feel nervous. There was no way she would ever ask him for permission to cut her own hair—the very thought was outrageous—but she also knew he loved her long hair, and … well, she wanted him to like how she looked.

  “It’s perfect,” Eva told her.

  She smiled. “Thanks.”

  As they followed the drive that curved around a copse of trees, the house came into view, surrounded by scaffolding, more than twenty vehicles, an array of heavy construction tractors, and piles of building supplies. The nearby town’s single motel remained perpetually booked, and a hundred yards away from the main house, several trailers housed even more workers, along with providing temporary quarters for any of the sentinels who chose to visit the estate, which happened often.

  The sentinels claimed any number of excuses for coming—the need to talk over business with Dragos in person, the desire to help out—but Pia suspected they were all just excited at the change in lifestyle, and they enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the city.

  Once construction was completed, the sentinels would go on rotation, so that at any given time, two would be headquartered upstate. Dragos believed the new system would help prevent burnout and give the sentinels a chance to stretch their wings—or, in Quentin’s case, legs.

  For now, the scene looked bustling and chaotic, and it wouldn’t calm down for at least another two months. Close by, sounds of construction echoed off the surface of the lake. In a series of small explosions, the construction crew was blasting through a stubborn shelf of bedrock to level the site where the office complex would be built. Periodically the low boom from the blasts rolled over the valley like cannon fire.

  After Eva parked, they climbed out of the air-conditioned vehicle into the sultry heat of the day.

  Another thunderous boom sounded in the distance. Pia felt it vibrate in her chest, and she sighed. “I can’t wait for them to be done with that.”

  “Yeah, it got old fast, didn’t it?” Eva swept the scene with her gaze. A haze of dust lay over the tree line in the direction of the noise. “At least they should be finished with the blasting by the end of the week.”

  As they reached the open front doorway, they met several workmen coming out. Pia stepped aside to let them pass, returning cheerful greetings and smiling when one of them complimented her new look.

  When the path was clear, Eva left her to head to the kitchen for some lunch, and Pia went in sea
rch of Dragos and Liam. Stepping around ladders, cans of paint and drop cloths, she made her way through the house to the back.

  While the rest of the estate was in upheaval, and construction dust seemed to coat everything, Pia and Dragos had finished a few areas before they had ever made the trip upstate. Their bedroom suite, Peanut’s rooms, the rooms for essential household staff, like Eva and Hugh, along with the back patio areas and the kitchen had been completely redone. With the basics of survival sorted out, Pia felt like they could withstand anything.

  At the back of the house, French doors opened to the large patio. Comfortable outside furniture with deep cushions dotted the open expanse. To one side, wide shallow steps led to an area created for open-air dining, with a spacious brick grill, an outdoor oven and a dining table and chairs.

  To the other side, steps led to a sparkling, inground heated pool and pool house, surrounded by a decorative, black iron safety fence. Pia had to smile as she looked around with pleasure and satisfaction. Blooming bushes and flowerbeds surrounded the patio areas, and beyond that, a massive green lawn rolled gently downhill to the bordering forest.

  Next week, work crews would build a security fence around that lawn, along with a large wooden play set, complete with a sandpit. Of course, neither the security fence nor the pool safety fence could contain Liam if he chose to change into his Wyr form and fly over them, but after what had happened in Bermuda, he had only been shapeshifting when he needed to feed his dragon form or when he was taken on a supervised flight.

  Still, none of them could predict how long Liam’s obedient streak would last. After his adventures in Bermuda, Pia and Dragos had hired two extra avian nannies to fill in for when Pia was needed elsewhere. Along with Hugh, his new caretakers, Sasha and Ryssa, watched him like the hawks they were.

  Pia looked wryly at her precocious, magical son, currently curled on Dragos’s chest.

  In the sitting area on the patio, Dragos sprawled on a lounge chair large enough to support his powerful, six-foot-eight frame. He wore jeans, boots and a white T-shirt. As he wasn’t the kind of man to stand back while watching others work, his current outfit had already seen some wear and tear. Since they had come upstate, he had already demolished several pairs of jeans and shirts. Stacks of papers, manila folders and a laptop lay on a table pulled close to the right side of his chair, and toys lay scattered on the floor.

  Peanut was fast asleep, and his thumb had fallen halfway out of his small, slack mouth. Wisps of his white blond hair fluttered in the gentle summer breeze.

  His father read aloud, quietly, his voice steady and gentle, while he pressed a hand to Liam’s delicate back, supporting his position. The bracelet Dragos had made from her braided hair last year glinted gold on the dark bronze skin of his thick, strong wrist.

  Whenever she saw Dragos with Liam, a tangled well of emotion overcame Pia—a great, fierce storm of love. This time the emotional storm was mingled with a thread of laughter, as she realized Dragos was reading the quarterly profit percentages from a stockholders’ report.

  A snort escaped her nose. It was a small sound, amidst all the bustle and noise of the day, but Dragos’s head lifted, and he turned to look at her.

  His expression changed drastically and he surged to his feet, all in one smooth flowing motion that never disturbed the sleeping toddler he cradled in one arm.

  He demanded telepathically, Where’s the rest of it?

  She knew immediately what he meant. One fact of their life would never change—her Wyr form was unique enough, they must always be careful to destroy any trace of her blood, and both Power and dangerous information could be gleaned from hair and nail clippings.

  Giving him a reassuring smile, she told him, Eva swept the floor and made sure she got all the clippings. I’ve got it right here.

  Reaching into her purse, she pulled out a paper bag that held the hair she had lost with the new hairstyle.

  Dragos’s tension eased. Okay.

  Then he tilted his head, lids lowering over gold eyes as he regarded her, and his expression underwent a subtle, sensual change. Strolling over to her, he slid his free hand underneath the hair at the nape of her neck. Gently, gently, he took a fistful and tilted her head back.

  Hot and fierce arousal pooled in her lower body, sweeping inescapably over her like slow-moving lava. As she stared up at him, her lips parted, and her breathing changed and grew ragged. He did this to her every time, so effortlessly, like striking a match. He could claim her with a glance, a touch, a simple shift of his cruel-looking, sexy lips, and when he did, she went up in flames. Every time, everywhere.

  Not too short. His telepathic voice was a mere growl of a whisper that swept over her nerve endings in an intimate caress. While everything they did together was sexy, there was absolutely nothing sexier than having him in her head. I can still grab a good handful. I like it.

  I hoped you would, she said, her own telepathic voice unsteady.

  Dragos bent his head and kissed her, softly because their sleeping son nestled between them. His firm, warm lips parted hers, and he dipped his tongue into her mouth in an erotic promise for later. Awash in the lava that burned through her veins, she steadied herself by gripping his bicep. With obvious reluctance, he pulled away.

  In the fourteen months they had been together, the desire had never changed. Elemental, as necessary as breathing, it dictated the rhythm of their lives. They orbited around each other, always looking, always reaching for the other, but it never ceased to amaze her that he looked at her this way.

  His brutally handsome face could be so hard, so ruthless, but his need for her always won through. She never doubted what he felt for her. She could see it in everything he did.

  You want me, she breathed.

  She’d meant to say it in a cocky and flirtatious way, with a wink and a saucy Marilyn Monroe wiggle of the hips. But she forgot to wink, the hip wiggle turned into a slow, needy roll against his, and the words came out breathless and awed.

  He rubbed the calloused ball of his thumb across her soft, moistened lips. A dark flush stained his high cheekbones, and his gold eyes glittered. I’ll die before I stop wanting you.

  Me too. She closed her eyes at his touch.

  They were both immortal Wyr. Maybe, just maybe, that would be long enough to express the depth of what she felt for him.

  He kissed her forehead. Here, take Liam.

  Coming back to herself, she held open her arms, and he gently transferred the sleeping boy over to her. Liam half roused, gave her a sleepy, confused look and smiled. “Mama,” he remarked happily. “Mamamamamama.”

  So far, it was his favorite and only spoken word. Patting her with a small hand, he laid his head on her shoulder and fell back asleep with the abrupt abandonment of extreme youth.

  Dragos took the paper bag that held her hair and strode over to the dining area. When he reached the brick grill, he set the bag down on it and his gold eyes flared with incandescence. Cradling Liam as she watched, she felt the small, hot surge of his Power from where she stood. The paper bag, along with its contents, burst into flames.

  Dragos didn’t move until the flames had burned out. Afterward, he blew on the white flakes of ash until they had dispersed entirely. Only then did he walk back to her.

  “How was your trip into town?” he asked.

  Located a short drive away from the estate, the town boasted a main street and three stoplights. At the moment, the largest nearby store was a Walmart, which lay fifteen minutes in the other direction. Local inhabitants regarded the influx of income that the Cuelebres brought the local economy with varying degrees of disconcertment and delight.

  She grimaced. “Apparently some of the city would like to move upstate with us. Several people made a point of telling me that new shops and businesses were going to open up soon, including restaurants, clothing stores, a gourmet food store, a delicatessen and a more upscale hotel.”

  He frowned. “Some of that will be good,
but we don’t want it to get out of hand, or we could lose the reasons why we wanted to move in the first place. I’ll talk to the town trustees about ways to limit the expansion.”

  “I think that’s a good idea.” She glanced down at the top of Liam’s head and said softly, “I’m going to tuck him into his crib.”

  Dragos nodded, his expression softening as he looked down at Liam too. “Now that you’re back, I’ll head out to the site. I want to see how much headway they’ve made in the blasting today.”

  “Okay.” She smiled at him. “See you later.”

  He answered her smile with a slow, wicked one of his own. “But not too much later. I fancy an early bedtime tonight.”

  She watched him walk away, thinking happy, comfortable thoughts. Dinner then bed, and who knew when they would finally fall asleep? They could take their time tonight. They had all the time in the world.

  Less than half an hour later, she would give anything to call him back to her again. Anything to keep him from walking away.

  Oh gods, anything.

  * * *

  She took Liam upstairs, to his bedroom in the right wing of the house.

  The right wing held their master suite, which included a wide balcony, a massive bedroom, a sitting room decorated with simple, elegant cream-colored furniture, a giant plasma television and a glass-fronted fireplace with a beautiful, streamlined slate mantle set against floor-to-ceiling windows that faced the Adirondack Mountains. They also had walk-in closets and a bathroom that rivaled the one in their New York penthouse for size and luxury.

  Liam’s nursery lay adjacent to their suite and included his bedroom, a bath, and a playroom with a small kitchenette set in one corner so that snacks could be made quickly and easily for the growing boy, and everything was decorated in bright, happy colors. Other bedrooms in the wing were available for Liam’s caretakers whenever they were on duty watching him.

  The left wing held the guest rooms, while downstairs there was a large library with an office nook for Pia, a massive, state-of-the-art office for Dragos, a formal receiving room, the more private, informal sunroom that led to the back patio area, the kitchen and breakfast dining area, and a dining room that seemed, at least to her, to be half the size of a football field.

 
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