"Listen, Gwen--" He paused. She'd swooned at the sight of him--what would she do on learning his true nature? No matter. Before he could convince her, she had to understand his power. "I come to Llanbarra in the guise of a trader. If I came as I am, they would never let me enter the town."
"Why?" She gasped but looked him in the eye. What did he mean? "Are you a spy? One of the pirates from across the water?"
"Neither. My kin live to the north, in the great fire mountain, Cader Bala."
That was not possible. "Cader Bala? That is an evil place. They say demons live there."
"No demons, Gwen, dragons: the first of the Goddess's chosen. We live on the riches of the great fire mountain."
She shook her head. What could this possibly mean? "Kall, your words make no sense. How could you live among dragons?" If they indeed existed beyond the old tales that few told these days.
She heard the deep breath. Was it frustration, irritation or a longing for her agreement? Perhaps all three but she had to make him see. "It's not possible, Kall. Don't tease me or raise false hopes."
"That I would never do, my love. To hurt you would be to hurt myself. I live there because that is where I belong."
She stared. Was he drunk? Had he inhaled the vapor of bad tobacco?
"I'm not a human man, Gwen. I come in the guise of Kall the trader but my true name is Kallaayt. My forbearers and kin are dragons and so am I."
If only! But hadn't she asked him not to tease?
She spoke slowly, as if to a dimwitted child. "Kall, I wish you were a dragon who could carry me away."
He couldn't hold back a smile. She hadn't recoiled at the idea. Hope bloomed in his heart. "I speak truly, Gwen. Look, will this convince you?"
He meshed his fingers with hers and raised their joined hands, turning his wrist so his hand was level with her eyes. "Watch."
He invoked the Goddess's power, and one finger at a time, transformed the hand that grasped hers. Her work-worn fingers pressed against the slowly forming soft scales on his hand. Her lips parted as she watched, shock, horror and delight mingling in her wide eyes.
Gwen let out her breath in a sharp gasp, not having realized she was holding it. What she just witnessed was impossible. Could never happen, but ... "Dear heaven." She barely heard her words, her throat was so tight. "It is true." She looked up and saw the deep, dark depths of his green dragon eyes. They said dragons were ravagers, destroyers, worms from the fiery pit bent on harm and horrors, but all she saw was kindness and his love. "You can truly take me away."
"Will you come?" His voice came deep and rough as hope rose and she smiled at him.
"Oh, Kall!" She dropped his hand and wrapped her warm arms round his neck. "How could I not?" Her belly pressed close, and the child within kicked and punched. She pulled back, looking up at Kallaayt, doubt still clouding her eyes. "But your kin, how will they welcome me, carrying another's child?"
"My kin welcome all young. They are rare among us and when they come, they are precious to everyone."
"Oh dear, Kall, this child. You know who the father was? An evil, rough person. A foul liar. All you are not. How can you take this child as yours?"
She still did not understand, confused as she was by these perverted values. "Gwen, my love. This child is yours, growing under your noble, courageous heart. How could he or she be guilty of their father's crimes? You and your babe will be welcomed. I give you my word."
"Kallaayt. Call me by my full name and you will be ever mine."
He stopped her mid-sentence with a kiss, slowly opening her mouth with his lips. She sighed with sweet pleasure as he pressed harder, capturing her mouth under his. He cupped his hand around her head and held her steady as his tongue found hers. Her little whimper of happiness was swallowed by his kiss. As he pressed his advantage, she relaxed in his arms. His fingers slid over her full breasts and the voluptuous curves of her ripening body. Sweet Goddess! Gwen was riches beyond dreaming, and she'd accepted his nature.