In the early hours, as I hit my twenty-seventh birthday, I would belong, body and soul, to Lord Sinon, the First Dragon of the British Isles.
It wasn’t a surprise. My human father had reminded me of the honour since…well…forever. Now I faced my last night of freedom, in a little side street up from the docks. Not the most salubrious of areas, but then what I needed on my final night was only just legal.
I tottered around a puddle, yellow lamplight splashing across it, and reached the safety of the flagstone pavement. The click-click of my ridiculously high heels echoed over the narrow side street, mixing with the dull, heavy beat of music throbbing through the early spring air. I straightened and pulled at my clinging gold top. My fingers shook and, for a moment, I shut my eyes and breathed in the cool night. It didn’t help.
My gut tightened, the nerves that gripped me for the last week flushing hot panic under my skin. I breathed slowly, in and out, concentrating on each breath as it brought with it the familiar scents of this part of my city. Damp brick, the thick tang of the river, hints of cooked food and the odour of stale beer. No, my fear wouldn’t wreck my final night, a night I intended to enjoy to the full.
I smoothed down my scrap of a top, leaving my toned stomach exposed, and eased my hands over my hips, settling the short skirt against my thighs. The First Dragon would own me…but not for another few hours. In that time, I intended to find a hard-bodied man, or two—a smile tugged at my mouth—I was half gryphon, after all.
The neon sign of the club stretched down the brickwork of the converted warehouse, casting a dull red light over the long, chattering queue of scantily dressed men and women. I tottered along the narrow stretch of pavement between the rope and the cobbled street, ignoring the glares that followed me. They were pure-blood human. I was not. My entry to the club was automatic.
A black-suited doorman held up his hand and he frowned at me. I tilted my head and waited. He was all muscle and attitude under his smooth suit, and my shadow-sense picked out the hint of the mythoi in him. I’d found my ability sharper than most and could find even a drop of hidden beast lurking under its human sheath. Four generations interbreeding with pure humans had diluted the mythoi in front of me, but traced in the air around him was the heavy frame of a minotaur. Through the lamplight, the shadow of great curved horns jutted from his forehead.
He had the strength I needed in the opposite sex, but I liked them lean and pretty, and the frowning brute blocking the arched doorway was anything but that.
“Jaime Dalton,” I said and flashed him a quick smile. As a mythoi, I was listed on the Register, a record that held our parentage, our location and our entire sexual history. It was a catalogue of our lives anxious humans had demanded centuries before, terrified of how the mythoi blood would mix with theirs. None of us escaped that infamous list. “I have the right to jump the queue.”
He tapped his earpiece, muttered my name and waited. After a quick second, he gave a curt nod and stood to one side. “Enjoy your evening, Ms Dalton.”
My heels sank into the thick carpet running down the wide steps. Fingers skirted the bronzed handrail, ready to grab it if my stupid shoes tripped me. Soft lighting cast shadows over the smooth arch of brick above my head and the warm scents of other mythoi threaded through the close air. It had been a long while since I’d visited the club. My creature didn’t need to find satiation in constant sex, not like other mythoi beasts…but I was making my final night of freedom the exception.