As you guys know, my novella Waking Kitty was recently released in the anthology, Boundless. You can read the first chapter here. When I first started writing it, it was going in a completely different direction, more fairytale-ish and dreamlike. Later on, I decided to scrap it and go about it in a different way, this time from the point of view of my male protagonist, Jack. I really had a hard time turning my back on this scene, but I think it revealed too much too soon. Nevertheless, I think this shows a different side of Kitty… a softer side.
The hand stroking Kitty’s hair was kind, though it carried a sense of threat. Sharp nails—talons?—scraped over her scalp with enough pressure to remind her of the danger they pose, but not enough to hurt. Its long, thin fingers combed through her wavy locks as gently as a mother untangling her daughter’s hair before bedtime. She had never felt so protected, so safe. She pressed herself closer to the creature’s warm, sleek belly and rubbed her nose against its scales, inhaling deeply. It smelled like the forest… like pine and dirt.
“Tell me a story,” she murmured sleepily.
“What kind of story do you want to hear, pet?”
Its voice was growly and deep, almost inhumanly so, and yet there was a softness to it that felt like a caress of velvet along her spine. Surely the owner of such a voice would never hurt her. “Any story. I just like hearing you talk.”
It chuckled, its chest rumbling against her body. “So be it, minx.” It placed its free hand on the bare skin of her stomach and drew her closer to its torso. “Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful dragon in a land far, far away. She had a beautiful home, family who loved her—”
Kitty’s body froze for a moment and the hand in her hair also stilled in response. “Dragons have families?”
“Of course dragons have families, minx. They have mommies and daddies just like human beings and cats and guinea pigs do.”
Kitty could almost hear the frown in its voice. “Oh. I didn’t know.” She allowed her body to relax and the hand resumed stroking her hair. “Was the dragon happy?”
“No reason she wouldn’t be. She had many friends and lovers—”
Kitty thought of the giant dancing dragon she once saw in San Francisco during Chinese New Year and laughed. Were her lovers also made of felt and Styrofoam?
“Do you want to hear the story or not?”
She apologetically rubbed the smooth scales pressing against her cheek. “Go on.”
It sighed with obvious impatience, its fingers pulled lightly at her hair as though warning her not to interrupt again. “Our dragon was often bored. She wanted melodrama and often looked upon the world of men to amuse herself. She adored chaos. She would watch these humans for hours, sometimes for days at a time. Earth became her favorite vacation spot. She would take herself down there, walk among them in the guise of a human, and absorb as much as smells and sounds and sights as she could to take back to her own world and savor. No matter how long she stayed on Earth, she always came home. But one day, she just… didn’t.”
Kitty heard the pain in its deep, velvety voice and felt an answering tug inside her own chest. She wanted to comfort the creature, but didn’t quite know how. She had never been good at comforting… anyone. “What happened to her?”
The creature didn’t answer immediately. On its lap, she attempted to turn her body to face it, but its hand on her hip stopped her. “She just didn’t come home.”
She absently scratched the muscled ridges of its abdomen. “Did you love her?”
“Everyone loved her, pet. She was beautiful and kind to one and all.” The hand slid down from her hair to her face, the sharp nails lightly brushing against the skin of her cheek.
“Maybe she just got tired of her world.”
A talon traced a path from her cheekbone to her neck. “Perhaps. But I think she just forgot she was supposed to come home.”
There was something in its voice that made Kitty’s eyes blink open. It was… longing. She understood the feeling. She often felt it herself. She called it “the blues”.
The first thing she saw were its legs. They were long, thick like tree trunks, and covered in red and gold scales. Its feet, which hung over the edge of her bed and sported black, wickedly sharp talons that curled at the ends, were easily twice the size of her own feet.
Her entire torso was stretched out across his lap with her lower body lying horizontally on the bed, her bare feet dangling over the side. She stilled against the hand that had curled itself around the nape of her neck. She had the feeling it could slash its talons across her jugular and let her bleed to death if she made any sudden moves. Her face hovered over the creature’s crotch which, thankfully, was sheltered in a pair of black leather shorts. A large, rigid stalk was pressing against the material threatening to poke her eye out.
“Don’t be frightened, pet. It’s all right.”
She was sure the low, gruff voice meant to be comforting, but what seemed to mesmerize her earlier now just freaked her out. Carefully, she placed her palm on the bed between his thighs and slowly pushed herself up. Taking a deep breath, she turned her head and received her first good look of her visitor.
“Whoa… trippy,” she murmured as she raked her gaze over him.
The rest of his body was also covered in red and gold scales. And he was gigantic. His shoulders spanned the headboard of her queen-sized bed and the muscles of his thick, corded arms were easily the size of her head. She dragged her eyes from the ridges of his stomach, past his V-shaped torso, and forced herself to look at his face. Only it wasn’t a human face that stared back at her, but that of a… reptile. He had an elongated snout like a crocodile and golden serpentine eyes that seemed to burn straight to her soul. He had no hair on his head and no ears, but a black membranous thing that looked like a bat’s wings protruded from his the sides of his neck and head like a halo.
As she stared into those eyes, an odd calmness settled over her body. All instincts to run screaming out of her bedroom slowly dissipated. She surprised herself by shakily raising a hand toward the creature’s snout and cautiously patting it like she would a dog. “Nice lizard… thing.” She eased her body off of its—his—lap and scooted backwards to the far side of the bed.
“I’m a dragon, actually.” His voice was no longer growly and deep. Instead he sounded more like the British guy in the Taster’s Choice commercial than a monster straight out of her nightmares.
“Right.” Kitty rubbed the sterling silver barbell that bisected her left eyebrow. “A dragon.”
“That is correct. There is no need to fear me, Kiyo. I won’t hurt you.” He reached over and touched her chin with one taloned finger.
There was a ringing in Kitty’s ears as her mind registered the name he had called her. Every part of her body became taut and for a moment, she was unable to breathe. She narrowed her eyes at the dragon. “What did you call me?”
“Kiyo.” He sounded amused. “Why should I call you anything but your name?”
The foreign-sounding name on his lips sent shivers down her spine. She had heard the name before, but wasn’t quite sure where or when. The flash of recognition dimmed before her brain could analyze it. “Boy, buddy, have you got the wrong girl. My name is Kitty. You’re probably supposed to be scaring the crap out of a little boy in the suburbs right about now.” She shoved her hand through her pink-streaked black hair and laughed nervously. “Maybe you should get out of my nightmare so I can go back to sleep.”
The dragon didn’t have eyebrows but one side of the ridge above his eyes arched up and he crossed his arms over his impossibly wide chest. “You think you’re dreaming?”
“Of course I’m dreaming. Or maybe I’m hallucinating. My buddy Jimmy could have spiked my Dos Equis with acid or something. He did that once.” She looked down at herself and saw she was as naked as the day she was born. She yelped and attempted to pull out the comforter from under the dragon, but it didn’t budge. She shyly slid her hands over her bare breasts. “Do you think I’d be sitting here buck-naked talking to a dragon if I weren’t dreaming?”
The creature seemed to find this funny because he threw back his head and laughed uproariously, shaking the bed and making the headboard bang against the wall. “Oh, I have missed your sense of humor, Kiyo.” He tossed her a pillow and watched with glittering eyes as she covered herself with it. “Perhaps you should consider that this is all real and you are, in fact, sitting there buck-naked talking to a dragon?”
Kitty chewed her lower lip and clutched the pillow against her naked form. She was more curious now than afraid. Her dreams had always been boring, mostly run-of-the-mill sex fantasies starring Jude Law painting her toenails. Or brushing her hair. She had never been very imaginative. Maybe the mushrooms in the mushroom burger she had for dinner were the funky kind. “Okay, let’s say this is all real and I haven’t lost my mind. What do you want from me? Do you have special powers? Can you grant wishes?”
“Depends.” He shrugged those massive shoulders. “What do you want?”
“A new bike.” Some asshole had jumped the curb and crushed her Schwinn while she was at work and didn’t even leave her a note. Now it was rusting away in her patio, because she didn’t have the heart to throw it out nor the cash to replace it. For the past two weeks, she had been walking to work. Luckily, the bar where she was a waitress was only six blocks away.
“I can’t produce anything out of thin air nor transmogrify, I’m afraid. I have no control over the physical realm. That’s just not what I do.”
Great. She had a magical, talking dragon in her bedroom and he couldn’t even replace her bike. “Then what good are you?” She flopped over on her stomach and propped her chin on her elbows.
“I’m an empathy dragon. Feelings—love, lust, wrath, jealousy, sadness—are the tools of my trade. I can control what people feel or manipulate their emotions.” He lifted his arm and tapped a talon against her forehead. “In fact, I’m working my—what you would call my ‘mojo’—on you right now.”
“Really?” Kitty snorted in disbelief. “Am I supposed to be throwing myself at you now or something? Get real, buddy.”
He chuckled and cocked his non-eyebrow again. “Well, you’re not screaming and running away, are you? In fact, you feel quite comfortable around me, don’t you.”
It was true. Aside from her initial start of surprise—and honestly, who wouldn’t be scared of a dragon-man creature—she felt more at ease with him than anyone she had ever known in her entire life. Even her family. She frowned in confusion when she tried to remember her mother’s face, but couldn’t quite picture it. She returned her gaze to the red and gold dragon who was still watching her. “Man, I must have had quite a night last night. I can’t remember shit.” She tapped the side of her skull with the butt of her palm. “So what are you telling me, that you’re some kind of love dragon?” She laughed at her own joke. “And you’re here to seduce me?”
The dragon did not share her amusement. “Something like that, yes.” He unfolded his giant frame from where he was lounging at the head of the bed and laid down next to her, also on his stomach, resting his chin on his folded arms. “The world you have built for yourself is falling apart, Kiyo. The false memories, the life you’ve invented… they’ve gone past their expiration date. It’s time for you to go home.”
Their faces were mere inches away from each other. He was close enough so Kitty could see the two rows of tiny, shark-like teeth inside his mouth. His tongue was black, about as wide as her wrist, and forked at the end. A shiver of excitement went through her, but she mentally chastised herself for it. She was so not about to have sex with some sideshow freak. “Go home where? Hollywood, Florida? No thanks.” She thought of the trailer park she grew up in and—nothing. Blank. She frowned again. “I’m fine where I am.” But where was she? Maybe in her dream, she was an amnesiac. Talking to a dragon.
“You’re only going to make things worse for yourself, Kiyo.” He caught a lock of her hair between two fingers and gave it a tug. “Already you’re unraveling. Don’t you think it’s about time you ended this charade?”
“Okay, this is getting too weird for me. I’m ready to wake up now.” She pushed herself up and sat back on her haunches, clutching a pillow to her chest. Without looking away from the creature lying on her bed, she pinched her arm as hard as she could. It hurt like the dickens, but she didn’t wake up.
The dragon shook his giant head. “You’re not dreaming, Kiyo. I’m as real as you are…” WARNING: I’m about to reveal a MAJOR plot point here. If you haven’t read Waking Kitty and don’t want to find out the TWEEEEST, stop reading now. If you have already read WK or don’t care if you’re spoiled, start highlighting from this point. He flashed his tiny, sharp teeth at her. “Well, as real as your human form, anyway.”
“Oh, now you’re going to tell me I’m not really human? Good one, buddy.” The dragon didn’t answer, only looked at her. Kitty folded her arms tightly across her breasts and regarded the creature skeptically. “What am I supposed to be, then?”
“Why, you’re a dragon, Kiyo.” He touched his snout to her bare leg and stuck out his black, forked tongue to give her skin a lick. “Just like me.”
AND STOP HERE.
And for some reason, I feel I must close this post with a dick joke. I don’t know why. I don’t have to warn you that it NSFW.
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