I hope you have enjoyed Valentine’s Day. I have a bit of a chocolate hangover myself. This is why I prefer a nice assortment of hot book boyfriends instead!

I am continuing to share deleted scenes from Dragon’s Christmas Captive with you. Originally, I intended Theo and Lexi’s romance to be more drawn out. The events in this week’s scene are supposed to be occurring during those of Dragon’s Pleasure. The scene no longer made sense once I had determined that Captive would be compressed into the week before Christmas.

Nevertheless, there is amusement to be had as Princess Lexi and Theo butt heads over her obstinate refusal to acknowledge that she is a bit small for a dragon. On the other hand, she continues to demonstrate that she has more than enough spirit for any mortal woman.

The black dragons she drowns are Russian mobsters. Their coracle is an inflatable boat. I think ultimately that this Lexi is a little darker than my readers were expecting and the decision to cut a good one. But darkness and all, here is more Captive:

The sea was almost black. Broken sea ice churned as the inky waves threw it against the rocky shore. An orange covered head rose from the surging water. As jagged chunks of ice bombarded his chest, the diver’s black gloved hands grasped the gnarled trunk of a wind-deformed pine that bend over the rocks. His massive orange arms pulled hard and he hauled his body from the sea onto the tumbled blocks of granite. Black flippers scrambled clumsily to get purchase on the slippery rocks.

He bent over, hands on his neoprene covered knees, his big chest heaving. When he stood erect, he towered over the stunted pine he had used to lever himself out of the waves. With one hand, Theo Lindorm removed his dive mask and peeled back his hood from his head. He stripped off his gloves with his teeth and tucked them into his dive belt ignoring the freezing wind.

His hair had been pulled back into a queue at the back of his head and his fingers found the hood had kept it dry. He ran his fingers over his chin and squeezed icy sea water from his beard, angling his body to avoid the resultant splash. The curling hairs began to freeze as soon as they were exposed to the bitter air.

Theo moved cautiously up the tumbled rocks to where he had left his clothing. His long flippers were ill-designed for walking, and a positive handicap on the savage terrain. A sudden stabbing pain pierced his instep and he swore and bent double to peer at his right foot. He could see nothing. He swore again and moved on.

His clothes were blowing about on the bough of a fir from which he had shaken snow. Theo shrugged out of his tanks and undid the buckle that held the belt with his gear and began to remove the orange neoprene dive suit that encased him from throat to ankles. The suit clung to his bare skin and he had to wrestle it off. The wind gusted even stronger and his skin puckered with cold.

He reached for his long-sleeved tee-shirt and felt another stabbing pain. “Lexi,” he roared. “Will you quit doing that?”

“You’re on my land,” said a faint, shrill voice.

“We’ve had that out a dozen times,” the giant said impatiently. “This island belongs to my family.”

“It’s mine!” insisted the shrill voice. “And I claim you by right of capture.”

His laughter was partially muffled by the black silk undershirt he was pulling over his head, but as soon as he had tugged his beard out from the round neck, he was able to release his mirth. This time he felt the pain behind his ear. His arm moved and his hand grabbed.

“Umph,” said the voice, even more faintly.

Theo opened his hand cautiously and looked at the tiny green creature he had caught. “Lexi, you are smaller than almost any part of me. How the devil can I be your captive?”

Lexi bounced upright and shook her right arm. A slender trident as narrow as a paper clip glinted brightly even though the winter daylight was dull. Theo brought her up close to his face so he could see her minute features.

“You have to stop this,” he said impatiently.

Lexi stamped her foot on his palm. It barely registered on his chilled skin.

“Did I hurt you?” he asked anxiously, peering at the little sprite dancing on his hand. She was a whirling blur of green, but he could see her red hair was pinned tightly against her head today.

“You don’t take me seriously,” Lexi said furiously.

Theo shook snow off another tree branch and set her gently at eye level. He reached to the branch where the rest of his clothes waited. “I need to get dressed,” he said, “Before I freeze to death.” He toed off his flippers and got busy.

“Dragons can’t freeze,” she retorted.

Theo didn’t bother to answer. He peeled neoprene off one leg and then the other. He was wearing only a tiny pair of black swim trunks underneath. To his dismay his foolish pecker was poking at the fabric. Wordlessly he drew on his trousers and then his snow pants and did up snaps and zippers. He sat down to pull on his socks. Drops of blood beaded on his right foot where Lexi had stabbed him with her trident.

“Don’t you believe in fate?” Lexi demanded, her voice a high pitched buzz in all his senses.

“Of course. What I don’t believe in is a miniature fated mate.” Theo pulled on his boots and enjoyed the relief from the frigid air. “You have to stop sticking that thing into me. Any minute now, I’m going to lose my temper and do you real harm.”

“Not a chance, Theo Lindorm.” Lexi perched on his shoulder. She put her whole head into his ear and spoke directly to him. “You would never hurt me.”

Theo sighed. “Lexi, you’re so tiny that I could hurt you without meaning to. You have to stop stalking me.”

“I claimed you Theo Lindorm,” she said fiercely, “Three months ago, at the winter solstice. You are my dragon now and forevermore. No one else’s.”

Theo plucked her carefully off his shoulder and set her back on the branch and hurriedly pulled on his sweater and parka. “What is it you want from me?” he asked as he zipped up. As if he didn’t know.

“I want you to acknowledge my claim. And then I want you to marry me. What else?”

“And just how is that supposed to work?” Theo picked her up again and held out his palm, bracing himself for the shock.

Lexi executed a somersault and emerged sitting crossed-legged. She glared stubbornly up at him with her gauzy wings still for once, but her green eyes still shot sparks at him. Her body sent tingles down his arm.

“You are a pixie, Lexi, I’m a dragon shifter. In both my morphs I’m several orders of magnitude larger than you. This isn’t a relationship with a future.” But his lips curved into an unwilling smile. She was so cute!

“And yet you dream of me, lover!”

Theo’s bearded face turned crimson. His golden eyebrows and bright blue eyes stood out like beacons on his weather roughened skin. “I dream of someone,” he admitted in a goaded voice. “But not of you.”

There was an angry shimmer of green. Lexi’s weapon pierced his palm. And she vanished. Theo shook his head and pulled on his padded winter gloves. He gathered up his wet gear and began the trek back to his father’s home. He could only hope that his infuriating pixie had been listening to him this time.

“They’re at the bottom of the channel,” she said.

He spun in a circle looking for her. A laugh like the tinkling of glass chimes was all around him, faint but insistent. He juggled his gear and felt for her in the hood of his parka. His fingers found her and the electric tingle jolted him as usual. He let go. She might as well stay there. At least it was warm.

“I never get cold,” she assured him as if she could read his mind. “Don’t you want to know about those black dragons?”

Theo stopped dead. “What black dragons?” he asked in his deadliest voice. And Örlogskapten Lindorm of the Swedish Royal Navy could sound very deadly indeed.

“The ones you’re tracking. They never made it back to their boat.” The faint voice sounded smug.

“What are you talking about?”

“Those spies you’re tracking, Theo. They landed on my beach. No one lands on my beach. I made sure they wouldn’t be back.”

Against his will Theo stopped and listened. “How do you know they were dragons?” he demanded.

There was a buzz and Lexi was leaning into his ear again. “How did I know you were a dragon?”

“I told you.”

“I knew before,” she said indignantly. “Anyway, those two were dragons and villains. And they were here to snatch your sister.”

“What sister?” Theo’s voice was like ice.

“Christina of Severn. Come on, Theo, I know everything about you and your family. Anyway, those two tried to leave but their coracle was leaky,” the faint voice sounded smug.

“Why?”

“I pierced it until it went flat. They were spies. I thought you would be pleased,” her voice hummed pleasantly at him.

Theo took in a deep breath all the way to the bottom of his mighty lungs and let it out slowly. “If you repelled spies for my family, you know we are grateful. May I know how you did it?”

“I pierced their craft and let all the air out and I melted the holes that the air comes out of. So they tried to swim to their vessel. But their suits took in water and they drowned before their confederates knew they were coming. I did that too.”

“You are one bloodthirsty little imp,” Theo said awed. “Thank you, Princess.”

“I don’t like trespassers. And I defend what’s mine,” she said fiercely. “That includes you, Theodore Lindorm!”

This is material not previously published. ©Isadora Montrose, 2016

I hope that these glimpses into the alternative universe of my first draft of Christmas Captive interest you. Now that the villainy of the Russian mobster dragon lord Vladimir has been permanently quashed in Dragon’s Possession, I am letting my subconscious work on the further adventures of Theo and Christina’s kin. Stay tuned.

Try my new Valentine’s-themed game of concentration. It is a bigger and harder game — for all of you who found the previous one easy. Tell me your time to finish the game. My time to beat is 5 minutes. But I expect better of you!

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