We’re warming up for some Valentine’s Day heat. This week I want to discuss the creation of Dragon’s Christmas Captive. This is the latest entry in the Lords of the Dragon Islands series. For a bit of fun and to shake up my stuffy Viking dragons, I introduced the Fae for the first time. Elven Princess Lexi was a huge hit. Perhaps because this tiny, sassy heroine was so utterly at sea in the modern world.

Lexi’s attempts to manipulate her fated mate Theodor Lindorm are both bittersweet and comic. Of course, the story works because Naval Officer Theo may be an enormous, muscular dragon shifter, but his heart is bigger than his muscles. He decides to help the thumbsized Lexi (who holds out the promise of marriage as if it were a golden lure), not because he envisions marrying her, but because she needs help.

But after nearly a thousand years of exile from the Elven kingdom, Lexi discovers the old tales aren’t what they used to be. Her magic is no match for Theo’s. I hope it is clear to the reader that she does not bespell him into love. He falls for her because he cannot help but love this bossy, sexy elf.

Because I initially published this story in a box set with other Christmas stories, it is a little shorter than those I usually write. To keep the word count down a ton of great scenes got cut.

Let me share this one with you. I was particularly sad to prune it. Before this scene, Lexi has helped herself to Theo’s schnapps. He tucks Lexi in her dragon morph in with a torpid tortoise for safekeeping. Hungover Lexi is ‘rescued’ by Theo’s fourteen-year-old brother Gunnar and allowed to indulge her passion for chocolate:

Someone was beating on Theo’s door as if it were a drum. Lexi ached. Every muscle hurt. The throbbing in her head was worse even than when she had been woken from her three hundred years’ sleep by the black-haired pirate Snorre.

Great, heavy feet clumped across the floor shaking her prison. Really, why had she ever thought it was a good idea to pick a dragon for a mate? Why was the clumsy oaf making such a clatter when she was feeling so unwell? She lifted her head which felt unbearably heavy for her neck. Even though the pounding had stopped it still echoed inside her poor skull.

Light suddenly poured into her cell. A big hand scooped her up. A reedy voice crooned at her. She sank all of her claws into the palm holding her. But whoever it was didn’t flinch. He scratched her with a tender finger nail right behind her ear flap. She nuzzled his finger with the side of her head.

“You’re a little beauty,” he said gently. “I wonder where Theo got you from.”

She opened her eyes wide and blinked at him. It was the little brother. He was holding her up to his eyes, and murmuring sweet nothings to her. Apparently he approved of her green plumage and her cream colored underparts. This made a pleasant change from Theo. Theo who had first poisoned her, and then imprisoned her with a monster.

Lexi began to sing in the young dragon’s ear.

“Hungry?” he said sympathetically. He rummaged in his pants pocket and came out with something shiny which he unwrapped. He broke off a piece of whatever it was and offered it to her on the end of his finger.

It was more of that delicious, rich sweetmeat that Theo had let her taste only once. His brother was more generous, he let her eat her fill. Her head still ached but she began to feel better. Since this Dragon seemed to understand her, she sang her song of woe.

“Lonely, princess?” he asked. He was opening and closing all the glass boxes on the windowsill. “You can come with me. You can help me wrap Mamma and Papa’s presents.”

She warbled her agreement with this plan. The young dragon replaced the lid of her jail, securing the monster.

“Would you like to ride on my shoulder, princess?”

She accepted this offer, and they left the room. Gunnar now was whistling her tune back to her. It was a thousand pities she had already selected her mate.

Gunnar gave her a choice. She could perch on his shoulder while he messed with the things that he wanted to put colored paper around, or she could perch on his pillows. They were fusty and smelled rankly of adolescent human male. But it was better than sitting on his bobbing shoulder and trying to keep her balance while her head throbbed and her tummy churned. She would have her revenge on that bullying poisoner Theodor Lindorm.

But it was boring. All the boy was doing was covering great lumpy objects with paper. What sort of the present was that? If he wanted to give someone a gift he should have commissioned a proper casket in which to offer it. She tried once again to return to elf form, and once again, her incantation was ineffective. Her head and her heart ached. Despite the unpleasant aroma coming from his pillow, Lexi curled up and put her snout under her wing and went to sleep.

* * *

When Theo returned to his room, the first thing he did was go over to the little terrarium to check on Lexi. He couldn’t see her. He wasted a great deal of time picking up the sphagnum moss and putting it down carefully. He even disturbed the tortoise who had every reason to believe he had been given a safe place in which to have his winter sleep. But she wasn’t near or under the tortoise either.

Reluctantly, he concluded that she had somehow escaped and was loose in his bedroom. Hopefully, she was over her drunken spree. She was an untidy little thing, always leaving his papers in a muddle and tossing things out of his drawers onto the floor. He figured she would be easy to find. All he had to do was follow her trail. This time, however, she had not left any evidence of her presence. She wasn’t in his bed, she wasn’t sleeping on his undershorts, and she wasn’t under the furniture. The little sprite had vanished. Maybe she had gone back to her grove, and why that should make him sad he had no idea.

The thought of Lexi loose in his parents’ house chilled his blood. He had no idea how he would explain her to his straitlaced mother and father, particularly if she shared her fantasy about being his fated mate. He began to do a systematic search. Hours later he still had found no trace of her. She must have gone back to the woods. He was bundling into parka and boots when Gunnar appeared with Lexie riding shotgun on his shoulder.

His anger was instantaneous and intense. He saw his brother through a red haze. It took all his self-control not to immolate them both. How dare Gunnar put hands on Lexi? She was chirping flirtatiously in Gunnar’s ear. The faithless imp! He knew just how potent that song was. Fortunately for that degenerate pixie, he had more than his share of self-mastery.

“What are you doing with my dragon?” he demanded.

“Hey, chill,” Gunnar said putting a casual hand on Lexi’s glittering spines. “No need to shout. You’ll scare the Princess. Lexi and I were just getting acquainted.”

“The hell you were. What were you doing in my room?”

“I was looking for you. And then I wondered if you’d been feeding the snails. That’s when I found Princess.” Gunnar stroked her gently from snout to tail.

Through the roaring in his ears, Theo heard Lexi begin to purr. Purring, she was fucking purring, for Gunnar. She seemed to realize that Theo was angry. She chortled into his brother’s ear before fluttering over to rest on Theo’s forearm.

Lexie fastened all of her claws into his sweater and began kneading. She pulled out several long strands of yarn from his best sweater before the tangled wool stopped her. Her purring smoothed out into hiccupping laughter. The minx was laughing at him.

“She’s the cutest thing,” Gunnar said obliviously. “I’ve been showing her around.”

“Yes,” said Mamma from behind him, “She is cute. But I thought we had agreed that you would bring home no more strays, Theo.” Sometimes Mamma acted as if he was five instead of thirty-five.

“Princess Lexi is Theo’s fated mate,” Gunnar announced happily.

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

I hope you enjoyed this deleted material. Reader response to Lexi and Theo made me wonder if just perhaps, somewhere there were other remnants of the Elves. I turned one up in … Iceland. I am writing a story for a box set to be issued in May. What do you think of a half-elven weather-working witch as a match for another strong and moody Alpha Male Lindorm? Comment below.

This month I am sharing the jigsaw puzzle above. Last week, any number of you emailed me your times on the game of concentration. Breaking news: You all beat Isadora by miles. Well done! My time for this puzzle is posted on that site. Let me know how you do.

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