Felicity turned her head back around. Terence strode to the end of the balcony and stopped. Felicity opened her mouth, for surely what sat in the garden had to be an illusion. But she knew down to her toes that her husband had brought her a real dragon. Somehow, he’d managed to provide a steed beyond her wildest dreams.
While Terence walked down the stairs and onto a graveled path, she stared at the dragon, trying to memorize every glowing scale, every line of sleek muscle. The dragon dwarfed the sculptured trees around it, making them appear mere child’s toys. Its eyes stared at her, holding in their depths the wisdom of ages, and it snorted a stream of fire from its nostrils that appeared more of a theatrical display than a threat.
Felicity had to remind herself to breathe again. The magnificent creature spread out a wing flat against the grass, and Terence strode up it as if it were another flight of stairs. Her husband bounced a bit, the leather springing beneath his feet, and held out his hand to Felicity. She swallowed, raised her chin, and fled up the wing to her husband’s side. Terence guided her to sit down on the dragon’s back, in the space between its wings.
Daisy licked her cheek and she shared a look of wonder with her pet. She would swear the little dragonnette on her shoulder smiled.
Felicity caressed the scales she sat on, her fingers smoothing into the ridges of the dragon’s hide. Terence sat behind her, his legs half-bent, showing her how to hold on. She leaned back against his warm chest, and her husband sighed into her hair.
His hands lay over hers, showing how to grip the underside of the scales for even more purchase. Which she gratefully appreciated a moment later.
The world lurched sickeningly and Felicity’s stomach flew up into her throat, and then with another few beats of the dragon’s wings they were in the air. Climbing higher. So high that the air grew chill, and she leaned farther back into Terence for warmth. No wonder the creatures were cold-blooded.
Stars shone brighter than she’d ever seen them; the moon grew so large she thought if she reached out she might be able to touch it. But her fingers gripped a scale so tightly that she knew her hands would be sore on the morrow.
A small price to pay for the glory of flying on a dragon’s back.
Felicity felt a tingle of fear only once, when the dragon banked slightly, but when she felt herself slide, the creature twitched, setting her firmly back into her seat. So each time it banked she just stared at the view below. London by moonlight, with the Thames cutting through the middle of it, and tiny twinkles of lights from the houses below. Buckingham Palace sat like a tiny jewel surrounded by parks and squares, and the tracks of the railroads crisscrossed the streets like some crazy jigsaw puzzle.
The dragon’s flight left the city behind, to soar farther and higher, to great mountain peaks and valleys in shadow. Felicity’s eyes watered from the cold and because she dared not blink, in case she missed anything. The frosty air numbed her toes and fingers and the tip of her nose, but she barely felt it.
When a dream comes true, who has time for thoughts of comfort?
She didn’t know how long they flew over England. It seemed as if time hung suspended, but when they neared London again, she would swear that it had been just but a moment.
The dragon circled the city, as if it didn’t want their flight to end either, but it lowered with each pass, the mansions and buildings appearing larger each time, until Felicity wondered where on earth it would manage to land.
She expected one of the parks, but instead they hit a rooftop with a resounding thud, the dragon’s wings flapping in short bursts. They had no room to walk down a wing, so the dragon lay down, and Terence jumped lightly off, as if he dismounted a dragon every day. Felicity tumbled from her own perch in a tangle of silken skirts, her husband catching her in his arms like so much fluff.
Terence stood her on her feet and opened a door set in the roof. She had no idea where they were, nor what manner of house would have a door in its roof, but she refused to leave the dragon until it left her.
The dragon beat its wings to rise and Felicity found herself flat on her bottom, the force of the wind slapping her down. With a lurch the dragon’s claws left the rooftop, and she felt tears prick her eyes as she watched it soar upward again, until it was only a colorful speck in the black night. And then it faded beyond her sight.