Home > The Dragon Finds Forever (Nocturne Falls #7)(8)

The Dragon Finds Forever (Nocturne Falls #7)(8)
Author: Kristen Painter

And pray to the saints that she didn’t get turned into a human s’more in the process.

So first, the befriending part. She swallowed. She’d started to think he wasn’t so bad, then he’d hurt his leg (trying to help her, so points for that) and turned into exactly what she’d expected him to be before meeting him.

His storming out afterward had only solidified that image.

But this was her job. Correction, this was what she had to do if she ever wanted to be free. And frankly, that was the depth and breadth of her heart’s desire.

She brushed herself off, got her pulse under control, and walked out onto the deck. His back was to her, and the grill was open, steaks sizzling away on the jumping flames. “Are you okay?”

He turned a skeptical gaze her way. “Why? You think this will prolong my therapy?”

She shrugged. “I was just concerned is all. You hurt yourself because of me. That hardly seems like something I should ignore.”

He glared a moment longer, then his expression softened and he turned back to the steaks. “It is not your fault.”

“It kind of was. You were bending to help me. And you wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t been here, so…”

He didn’t respond. Grom stared up at her, tongue out, his expression kind of making her feel like he was happy to see her. Which seemed odd, because why would he like her? He’d just met her. But then, what did she know about dogs?

She knew Van liked them. That was clear. And maybe it was also her way in. “I like Grom. He’s really nice. And I never knew I’d feel that way about a big dog.”

Van grunted. “He will get bigger.”

“Really? How big?”

“I do not know. But larger, for sure. One hundred pounds, maybe.”

“Wow.” She looked at Grom with new eyes. “But he seems like the right kind of dog for a guy like you.”

“Is that so?” Van glanced at her again, his eyes unreadable. “How?”

She was walking a fine line here, and she knew that, but Van’s decision earlier to help her gave her some confidence. “Tough exterior with a gooey nougat center.”

His eyes narrowed.

“Okay, wait. Maybe not a gooey center. But you know what I mean, right? Grom looks tough, and he is. But he also likes to have his belly scratched.”

Van frowned and picked up a long fork with two sharp tines. “I do not like to have my belly scratched.”

“Wouldn’t dream of attempting it, I promise.” The very idea made her smile, and she was glad he wasn’t looking at her in that moment.

“Good.” He flipped the steaks and, thankfully, put the fork down. “How do you want your steak?”

“Medium well.” That earned her another look. She gave it right back. Dragons might be okay with bloody food, but she wasn’t. “Can I help with anything? Fix the side dishes maybe?”

His brow furrowed. “Side dishes?”

“You know, salad, green beans, baked potatoes, that kind of thing.”

He shook his head. “No side dish.”

Her mouth came open in surprise. “You’re just eating steak for dinner?”

“Da.” He growled softly. “I mean, yes.”

Okay, that might be fine for a dragon, but that wasn’t going to fly for her. No pun intended. “That must be a dragon thing.”

He glanced at her. “What are you?”

She knew what he was asking. She couldn’t tell him the truth. Will-o’-the-Wisps were rare, and revealing that much would give everything away. She’d prepped for this, though. “I’m a dryad, but only on my mother’s side, and unfortunately, that bloodline’s gotten pretty thin.” She shrugged. “It’s enough to qualify me as supernatural, but I’m one of those with no real supernatural skills. Sadly.”

His eyes tapered for a second, then he went back to the steaks. “Dryads like trees. So you want vegetables, don’t you?”

“They are part of my diet, yes.”

He grunted. “There might be something in the freezer.”

“You mind if I look?”

“Help yourself.”

She left him on the deck and went back to the kitchen. His fridge had steaks, pork chops, a rotisserie chicken, a couple six-packs, and some condiments. His freezer looked about the same, minus the condiments and six-packs, but under a butcher-paper-wrapped pack of grouper filets, she found a solitary box of frozen broccoli growing a couple of substantial ice crystals.

She took it out, shut the freezer, then started rummaging for a microwavable bowl. Maybe she could find a way to get to the grocery store tomorrow. If she had to call another Ryde and charge it to her dad, she would. She couldn’t eat like her carnivorous companion for a week. Her body would rebel.

The doorbell rang just as she found a plastic bowl that would work. Grom barked, but Van quieted him with another Russian command Monalisa didn’t understand. She set the bowl and the box of broccoli on the counter, then shouted in his direction, “I’ll get it.”

Van didn’t respond, so she headed to the door. She opened it and found a pretty, petite redhead on the other side. “Hello.”

“Oh, hi.” The woman gave her an odd look. “You’re not Van.”

“No, I’m not. I’m Lisa Devers. I’m his rehab therapist.”

“Huh. He didn’t say anything about hiring one.”

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