By: Layla Heart
One day of festivities, six lovers trying not to get overwhelmed by everything.
After all the mess that has happened in the last four months, Litha and her five lovers, Bane, Kit, Finn, Rune and Phoenix, are finally able to take things a little slower… Not!
With midwinter being one of the most important celebrations of the year, and Phoenix’ birthday falling on the exact same day, Litha and the others have their hands full between decorating a tree the size of a small house, preparing for a feast for all their family and friends, and keeping their eyes on the three small dragon shifters who have joined them.
That should be easy enough, right?
Lughnasadh Elite Academy
16 December 2019
Pages: 60 pages
Available in the Netherlands/Belgium:
As part of a collection
If you don’t want to buy through any of the international stores, this story is also available in the Netherlands and Belgium as part of Fated Encounter (Lughnasadh Elite Academy Collection 3). This features the next three novellas and a holiday short story of the series and is available in ebook or paperback.
When I open the front door of the house, I nearly stumble back. Rune is in his dragon form, a huge fir tree stuck on his back, and when I take a better look, Kit is sitting between the branches of the tree, looking positively impish.
“We got you a tree.” Lynn darts over to me, her eyes bright and she starts pulling on my arm. “Come see.” Lynn is one of the young dragon shifters Rune brought back with him when he and Finn were helping undo some damage that the previous fae king had done to the dragon people in the fae kingdom.
“Yeah, yeah.” I laugh, stepping out in the snow on bare feet, the cold bites into my skin, but I shrug it off, I can warm up again later. My control over my fire abilities has gotten a lot better lately, which is awesome when it’s freezing cold like this, I don’t have to worry about warming myself up anymore.
As Lynn drags me past Rune, I reach out to him and he pushes his head against my hand, letting out a low rumble, a mix between a laugh and almost the content sound of a very, very, big cat. His skin is ice-cold, but they’ve all been outside for hours, getting the tree. I might see a shared bath in our future, to warm all of us up at the same time.
When I can finally see past the lower branches of the tree, I have to stop, laughter bubbling up in me unexpectedly. These guys… “You didn’t have to bring it over with all the roots intact.”
The roots are almost as big as the tree itself, and I can’t imagine how heavy it must be for Rune to carry all of it on his back. The tree itself is bad enough, but with those roots and the soil still in it… Wow. I’m almost surprised he’s still standing.
Kit jumps from Rune’s back, lightly landing next to me, immediately wrapping his arms around me, putting his cold face in my neck. He’s so cold that a shiver runs through me. He chuckles, tightening his grip on me. “We had to. Finn wouldn’t let him take it if he ‘killed’ the tree by taking them off.”
“Ah.” Well, that does sound like my Finn, my fae, my nature lover. “And, where is the guy right now?” Because this is just half my family, I’m still missing a couple of people.
“Bane and Finn went to your parents’ place. Something about having to pick up more supplies? I don’t know.” He gives me a quick kiss in my neck, making me shiver again, and then climbs on Rune’s back. “Dewy… Sleepy Dewy. Time to wake up. We’re at home.” He moves around between the branches like they don’t keep poking him, and then he finds the littlest of the dragons.
Dewy lets out an unhappy sound, but it’s not entirely human, and I can’t help my smile as Kit lifts up a small blue dragon from between the branches.
“He fell asleep on the way back.” He holds the little boy tightly and then jumps off again, handing Dewy to me and I wrap him in my arms tightly, trying to warm him up again. He’s a water dragon, which makes him susceptible to the cold, but he still wants to go everywhere with the others. “Where do you want the tree?” Kit eyes me.
“Ehhh, I was thinking either out front somewhere around here, or maybe out back. I hadn’t really decided yet.” I like either idea. The front because it would give a bit more life to the whole campus, because it’s still so empty, but out back would be nice because we’d be able to see it from the living room.
Quiet footsteps come closer, and then Phoenix appears next to us, wrapped in a thick cloak, and she was smart enough to put boots on. “I think it’s more fun for us out back.” She takes a second look at the tree, blinking. “The roots? Why?”
“Finn.” Kit grins, and Phoenix nods like that explains everything. “I’ll go check for a good location.” Then Kit darts over to the house and disappears around the corner.
Rune looks back at us, giving a quick nod, and then follows Kit.
He still doesn’t move very smoothly with one of his back legs. His leg may be mostly healed from the stab wound from a couple of months ago, but he’ll probably always have the deep scar in his leg, even in his dragon form, and it will probably keep hurting when it’s really cold, but he’s doing better than even a couple of weeks ago.
I look down at the two little dragons, Dewy still asleep in my arms and Lynn is standing at my side, looking after Rune. Their older brother, Blaze, is probably with Bane and Finn, he likes being a ‘big guy’ with them, he feels like Rune ‘babies’ him too much. But, I guess, that’s normal eight-year-old behaviour. “Let’s get these two inside and warmed up. I’m thinking, hot chocolate.” I wink as Lynn looks up at me.
“With cookies!” She lets out a laugh as she takes Phoenix’ hand, already starting to pull on her. “I want cookies!”
“Yeah, yeah.” Phoenix smiles, looking back at me. “Do we have any left?”
I shrug. Probably not.
We made some yesterday, but I’m afraid that between the guys and the kids, they’ve probably already disappeared. A great excuse to make another batch, me thinks.
As I’ve got my arms covered in flour, which is what you get when you’re making cookie dough with a three-year-old and a five-year-old nearby, Bane and Finn step into the kitchen, big boxes in their arms.
“We’re back.” Bane grins, looking over us. “And right on time, I see.”
I shoot him a glare. “What’s in those boxes?”
“These?” Bane tries to look innocent. “Not much… You should see the other boxes.”
“More?” I sigh, trying to find something to clean my hands on, and then give up, going over to my guys. “What did you pick up?” The boxes look really old, just generic ones, and I don’t see any words written on it, so that’s not helping.
“You should look out back.” The final little dragon, Blaze, appears behind the guys, holding a bunch of lights on a string, but half of them are dragging behind him on the floor and I nearly wince, imagining them breaking… And then we’d have to clean up the glass or whatever they’re made of from all over the house.
“You may want to pick up the rest of those.” Finn smiles at the little boy and Blaze’s eyes go wide as he realises what’s going on.
“Oops.” He quickly tries to get the rest in his arms, but the string is too long and it’s just too much for him to hold at the same time.
Then my dad steps into the hallway from the back. “Ah, that’s where those lights went…” Then he sees me, giving me his best innocent smile as I level him a look. Seriously? “Remember? You always loved to help out decorating the tree too.”
“I know.” I sigh. I do love it. I love having a Christmas tree in the middle of winter, though, they don’t seem to have the same tradition here. But letting Blaze drag the lights all over the house doesn’t seem like the best idea. “Just, try not to break things, please.” I’m not looking forward to cleaning everything up.
“Will do.” He grins and then holds out his hands to Blaze. “Let me get those back outside, then you can put them in the tree.”
Blaze nods and gladly hands his stash off. “I want to put the tree-topper on!”
“We’ll see about that.” Dad laughs and after a quick wave, he goes back to the back of the house, Blaze following him closely.
I look after them, and then back at Bane and Finn. “I presume those are for the tree?”
“Yep.” Bane grins and gives me a quick kiss, trying to avoid getting flour on himself from my arms. “We’ll get them outside too. Let you get back to the cookies.”
“Save me some, will you?” Finn also gives me a kiss, and then both guys go to the back of the house.
Now I’m getting curious what they’re all up to exactly, as I hear even more voices than just my guys outside, and I have the feeling that we’ll be having a very full house this evening. Which is basically the norm here.
As I turn around, walking back into the kitchen, the front door opens and Aideen’s voice rings through the house. “I’m not too late, am I? Please, tell me I’m not too late.”
“Too late for what?” I call out to her, and then Aideen appears in the kitchen door while I’m trying to turn on the tap to wash my hands.
Those cookies are going to have to wait…
“For the lighting of the tree. Aura said that you were going to put a tree on fire today.” She steps inside, her older brother, Topaz, behind her, still wearing his black clothes from when he was with the rebels, even though he’s been on the ‘legal’ side of things since the war ended.
I blink, confused by Aideen’s answer, and Phoenix, who was trying to keep Lynn from eating all the dough, bursts out laughing.
“They’re turning the lights in the tree on. They don’t light the thing on fire, yet.” Phoenix grins. “We first get to enjoy it for a couple of days before we set fire to it.”
Aideen’s face falls. “Oh, I thought that… Bummer.”
“Chin up, sis. We still get to see fire, later.” He looks around. “Where is this tree everyone is talking about? I’d like to see it.”