This is a snippet from Breaker's Ruin, book 2 of the Convergence Series and a work in progress. Book one of the series, Bramble Burn, is available wherever ebooks are sold.
His reasonable tone made her want to hit him. “You’re distracting me on purpose! Take the necklace off, please, or I’ll find someone else to do it.”
He shrugged and grabbed another cup of tea. “You can take it off any time you want, sis. You just have to want to.”
She looked at him suspiciously, but tried to remove the medallion. It didn’t work.
She sent him an accusing look.
He laughed and raised his hand defensively. “I’m not doing it, word of honor! He’s linked it to your will. If you don’t want him, it’ll fall off.”
Her face flamed. “I don’t want him!”
They both looked at the pendant. It stayed put.
“Hm,” he said, his eyes dancing.
She pointed a finger at him. “This is your fault!” If he hadn’t brought Breaker here last night, this never would have happened.
“I made you lust after Breaker?” he asked with mock dismay.
It felt as if the top of her head was going to blow off. “That’s it! I’m going to talk to Juniper.” Juniper had skills, and if she couldn’t figure out how to get the metal off, she knew plenty of dragons who could.
“Good luck with that,” her brother said cheerfully, and plopped down on her sofa to watch TV.
Juniper studied the medallion and then sat back with a thoughtful look. “Breaker did this, huh?”
“Can you get it off?” Daisy fidgeted. The modern, open concept kitchen and living room inside the Iron Oak was warm and welcoming, but it failed to soothe her. The platinum felt warm, and impossibly, smelled of Breaker’s delicious musk. It was horribly distracting.
Kjetil, Juniper’s werewolf husband, refreshed his wife’s coffee cup; Daisy hadn’t touched hers. Juniper was pregnant with twins, and she had a difficult time getting anything done with his protective hovering. “It smells like him.”
“So I’m not imagining it! My brother claimed it wouldn’t come off…um, that he couldn’t take it off.” She wasn’t eager to share his damning explanation.
Juniper smiled, as if privy to an inside joke. Pregnancy had plumped her tall, lanky frame; she was all legs and stomach. Her hair touched her shoulders now and she shared loving glances with her ruggedly handsome husband, but she’d never been a fool. She’d probably figured it out. “He’s right. It’s tied to your will.”
Daisy slumped. For some reason, she felt like crying.
Kjetil put on his boots, sensing the need for girl talk, and smart enough to make a run for it. “I’m going to check on the hunting lodge. Call if you need me, Jun.”
Juniper waved and then looked at Daisy with compassion. “Sucks to like a heartbreaker, doesn’t it?”
Daisy sighed. “I don’t like dragons. You know why. I’ve avoided drakes my whole life, and now my brother tells me I smell like their catnip. My dad’s taken vacation so he doesn’t have to referee. I think he knew what would happen with Breaker! Maybe they planned it,” she admitted, dejected.
“Trust me, it’s not better when they hover,” Juniper said sagely. “You know how Indris was. Stepfather or not, a dragon’s not any less protective of his daughters.” She glanced out the window, reluctantly amused. “Looking back on it, I think Indris set me up.”
“See? I knew it! It makes no sense for him to take off and let Breaker “protect” me. He’s decided Breaker will make a good mate, and he’s giving him a chance to prove it.”
“So tell him to take a hike,” Juniper suggested. “He won’t force you.”
“I know that,” Daisy retorted. “That’s not the problem.” She took a sip of her coffee and blinked. “This isn’t our greenhouse blend.” She ought to know; she managed the greenhouse in the Chestnut, as well as the new greenhouse, the Iron Thorn.
The Chestnut’s ground floor was a garage, ensuring safe parking for multiple vehicles. It had a separate space for a bricked, amber lit root cellar. The second and third floors were climate controlled greenhouses and the fourth was a food processing/office area with a separate, two bedroom apartment furnished in simple elegance.
From the outside, it looked like a wooden frame protecting amber windows. The amber reflected a rainbow of colors, obscuring the tree’s contents while letting in light. Vines of iron flowers swathed the tree, ready to interlock and form a barrier if the tree was threatened.
The tree also had a lift for transporting goods and people between floors. It was attached via a sky bridge to the Iron Thorn greenhouse.
The Iron Thorn had had a frame of iron thorns supporting glass panes. At night the iron thorns closed over the glass, protecting it from stray monsters. In addition to vegetables, the greenhouses grew bananas, chocolate and coffee. Gourmet coffee. They had a bunch of interns from the university dedicated to research and production.
“Decaf. Kjetil’s taking care of me,” Juniper said mournfully. “I showed him the Brazilian study that proved caffeine in moderation was fine, and explained that the American study used the equivalent of fifty to seventy cups of coffee on rats to cause birth defects, but it didn’t work. He still serves decaf.”
“I’m sorry,” Daisy commiserated. “Sneak over to my tree and I’ll give you the real thing.”
Juniper tapped her nose. “He’s a werewolf. He’ll know.”
Daisy winced. “At least there’s chocolate.”
“And lemon. I love lemon,” Juniper agreed. “About your problem. I have a distraction if you like. You remember that rock mage? He has some weird plants growing in the Quarry. He asked if I could look at some samples, see if they’re a problem.”
Daisy perked up. “Any new species?” The Quarry sat on several acres that had once held a casino, a prison and a quarry. When the Convergence had merged the worlds of Earth and the elven world, Gwyllon, it had led to all kinds of weird magical pockets. The Quarry was known for birthing rock trolls and nasty, skittering things. Like Juniper, Scott Geiger had seen potential in the twisted real estate. Occasionally, he called Juniper to bounce around ideas.
“Maybe. Unfortunately, the samples degrade once they leave the Quarry. Only stone seems to thrive outside its boundaries.”
“Wow. I’d love to take a look at that.” Like most scientists, Daisy was beset with curiosity, and she loved to explore new things.
“It’s dangerous,” Juniper cautioned. “You’ll need backup. Would your brother go with you?”
“Are you kidding? He’s always up for an adventure.”
“Awesome! When do you want to start?”