Endangered Ch. 08

byltpc©

"Hello, Hailey." His dragon lurched forward inside him at the sight of her. He managed to keep his cool and place the heavy sack down on the pallet.

Over the past two months, she'd been showing up at the construction site every few days. At first it seemed relatively innocent, bringing her dad some lunch, kindly dropping off a cooler of ice cold refreshments for them all, things like that. Stephen teased Chris openly that she'd never shown so much interest in his work before.

She was shy towards him, only exchanging a few words but as the weeks passed, she grew bolder. Soon she was engaging him in conversation, staying to keep him company during lunch.

He should have spurned her then and there, but he just couldn't bring himself to do it. He liked her. She even shared his newfound passion for understanding the working of the physical universe, only more so. She was a self-professed amateur astronomer and a proud nerd. He could talk to her about the chemistry and physics he'd been studying in his own time and she was genuinely interested, suggesting further sub-topics for him to explore. It was incredibly gratifying to have his effort shared and commended.

That was when he'd realised she was wickedly smart. Stephen always crowed that his little girl was gifted. Chris had to agree, she'd already been taking online college courses in engineering for three years now. When asked about it, she'd sheepishly admitted that she hoped to one day work for NASA.

Most werebeings ended up finding a trade, like her father and Jethry. Their abilities tended towards the physical and as a result, nature balanced them with poor magical potential. That wasn't always the case, but it was true for Hailey. So, she applied herself to her studies and was determined to become an aerospace engineer.

Hailey soon realised Chris was a nice, down to earth guy. The gossip on Maginet, which she admitted to getting a little caught up in at times, had it all wrong. Sure, he was wonderfully powerful but the rumours never captured his humble nature, his cute embarrassment. In all their interaction, he never once looked down on her as a lowly class 5 magic user. Beings like him wouldn't normally give her the time of day.

Things were right on track for them forming a fast friendship until one afternoon a few weeks back. To Chris, it was like a switch had been flipped. Her girlish crush turned to downright seduction. Shyness blossomed into blatant interest. Gone was the embarrassed girl who'd run back up the stairs to her room that first time they'd met. This determined young woman made it clear that she wanted him.

She dressed up, or more often, down when she came to visit the job site. She became more tactile, taking any excuse to touch or brush against him. Her visits became more frequent and she brought him homemade baking several times. She engineered reasons to get him alone.

Apart from the awkwardness Chris felt around Stephen as his daughter openly lavished him with attention, awkwardness which did not go both ways, Chris was starting to wonder why he bothered holding himself back.

"Hey, Chris," she smiled up at him as he approached the forklift, skin glistening. Her bottom lip was being worried between her white teeth at the sight of his work-hardened, huge frame.

As Chris came around the side of the forklift, he finally got a decent look at what the svelte blond was wearing. Good God. He couldn't help moving in close, towering above as his eyes greedily devoured her.

Perched provocatively on the forklift, she was a masterpiece of toned, tanned skin, and womanly curves. Her pleated miniskirt was the purest white, contrasting perfectly with the bronze tone of her naturally sun-kissed skin. The way she sat, with one leg up on the seat, exposed skin all the way up to the inside of her lush thighs. Beyond that, her compact ass was clearly visible, directly contacting the well-used, black faux-leather of the forklift's seat.

Her top was a tiny faded-denim jacket, completely open at the front to reveal the stretchy grey material of her sports bra. Said bra was winning the battle to contain her large breasts, completely covering her chest but leaving no doubt that the slim young woman was absolutely stacked. What it didn't cover was the positively indecent expanse of tummy skin, all the way from her ribs, down to the hem of her clinging skirt, resting low on her hips.

His eyes were instantly drawn to the teardrop shaped sapphire dangling from a delicate silver arrangement at her belly button. It accentuated her soft muscle tone and pinched waist beautifully.

Chris realised he was staring and quickly looked up into her blue eyes, a lighter shade than that gemstone but still sparkling with mischief and admiration. Her smile widened and he scrutinised her lightly made-up face. With a casual air, she flicked an errant strand of her cute, razor-cut hair out of her eyes. She'd had it cut short about a month ago, claiming that having it long was too hot in the late alpine summer. Chris thought it made her look even more enchanting.

"How've you been? What brings you over this side of town?" He tried to be casual as her legs moved, flashing him a glimpse of powder-blue underwear. There was no way it was an accident and his penis twitched dangerously inside his jeans.

"Oh, you know. I was at the gym in the Compound working out and I just thought I'd drop by and make sure you hadn't forgotten about tonight."

"Of course not, Hailey. We're all looking forward to it. You reminded me on Wednesday, remember?" It was now Friday, two days later, and Chris couldn't help pointing out that he didn't need reminding. Hailey had invited Chris and his partners to her friend's twenty first birthday at The Cauldron.

"Yes, but I wanted to see you all sweaty again." She hopped up off the forklift quickly, her spritely body coming to a halt mere inches in front of him, face upturned as she watched for his reaction.

"Hailey," he cautioned, as her hand reached out to trace the sweaty dimple between his bared abdominal muscles.

"What?" she said innocently as her simple touch sent a shiver or arousal up his spine.

He didn't have a response.

"You know, Chris, it does terrible things to a girl's self-confidence when she gets friend-zoned by the dragon she likes."

He sighed.

"Hailey, I'm in a strange love pentagon with four other women. No wait, make that five. A god damn love hexagon. I really do like you but I'm not sure it's right for us to get involved." Chris was wondering where he got the willpower to say these words while her perfect body was so dangerously close.

She snickered cutely at him, as if his reasoning was completely irrelevant.

"I know all about that, Chris. Goodness knows it's all over Maginet. I don't want to pull you away from them... I want in." She glanced over to the stairwell guiltily and took her hand off his six-pack. "I should go. Let's talk about it more tonight."

With that she turned and strutted off towards her electric compact, which she'd parked just inside the warehouse.

The definition of her legs haunted him all the way until she hopped into her car with a little wave. He was left staring dumbly as she made her exit until Stephen popped his head up from the stairway.

"That's some self-control you've got, Kid," He laughed at the young man's tortured features. "If a girl did that to me when I was your age... Hell! If a girl did that to me now!"

Chris nearly jumped out of his skin before his face blushed. However he tried, he couldn't help being embarrassed when she behaved like that with him in front of her father.

"Christ man, that's your own daughter," he tried appealing to Stephen's fatherly instinct.

"I know," the werebison chuckled, seeming to find great humour in the situation. "It's torture at home. All I hear is Chris this and Chris that. And that's before she teams up with the wife! The girl needs to get laid, you'd be doing me a favour."

Chris could only shake his head in disgust.

"Hey, cheer up, it's not like she's hideous! Anyway, I need a hand with a few enchantments before we finish for the day." Stephen clapped a heavy hand on Chris' back in a show of male solidarity.

They quickly unloaded the sacks together before heading back downstairs.

"We're making great progress, Chris. I knew having you help out would make it easier but I can't tell you how much your input has made the difference," the werebison gesticulated across the huge expanse of the soon-to-be living room.

"Really? I feel more like a human wheelbarrow," Chris answered, only partly sarcastic.

Stephen looked at him askance before delivering a playful blow to his shoulder.

"You know it's more than that, Chris! I've never seen rock disappear like you and the terrible trio make it happen. Heck, it's only taken you just over a week to cut out that hallway, the nursery, a bathroom, and almost four large bedrooms. It's nothing to scoff at. It never could have happened if you hadn't been carting the rock and feeding the furnace so to speak. Those goblins are gonna be spoiled by the time this is over. I've never heard of a job where there's unlimited magic refills to keep you going all day. Hell, I'm going to be spoiled!"

"Well, I'm afraid it's not going to last forever, Stephen. Come Monday, you'll be on your own three days a week."

"You'll be missed, for sure, but I've come up with a solution to keep us all topped off while you're gone. Besides, we won't need your help as much soon and the boys are eager to stay on to completion. Before you know it, you'll be moving in."

"Imagine that," Chris let out a tired, wistful sigh.

"You'll have damn well earned it, too," Stephen said as they rounded the corner onto the diamond room.

Chris instantly noticed that the glass cover-stone was removed, sitting up on a protective sheet of cloth. There was a small pile of crushed rock to the side of the ring and a corresponding hole had been dug right in the centre of inlaid burnished circle.

"What's going in there?" Chris asked.

"Well, I had sort of wanted to keep this a surprise until a bit later. I've got a house warming present for you," Stephen admitted with a huge smile on his face. "You know me though, practicality comes first and we could really use it while you're away."

"Use what? Stephen, you don't have to get me a gift," Chris felt a little uncomfortable with the idea. Stephen was the one doing him a favour by taking on this huge job.

"Yeah but I wanted to. Hold on just a moment, I'll go get it." With that, the werebison disappeared off down a hallway and popped into the darkness of one of the excavated bedrooms.

He emerged moments later, a rough grey ovoid nestled in the crook of his arm and a large plastic bag in the other. The thing was a foot and a half long and just over half a foot wide, tapering at both ends, one of which looked like it had been cut clean off.

"What is that thing? Some sort of weird egg?" Chris asked warily. He would have wondered if it wasn't a dragon's egg if he didn't know better, the thing looked like it was made of stone.

"No, no," Stephen chuckled. "Nothing like that. It's a magic well, or it's going to be. I read about them in an old book on castles. Back in the day, they used to use 'em to power the magical defences on all the best keeps and fortresses. Of course, no one bothers nowadays, too hard to fill them up. That's where you come in."

He handed Chris the magic well, who accepted it with all the tenderness deserving of an unknown magical artefact. As he rolled it over, it became clear that it was indeed made of rock. It was heavy but not as heavy as he felt it should have been. When he examined the flat, cut end, it was instantly obvious what it truly was.

"It's a geode, a huge one!" Chris exclaimed, peering into the hollow centre and marvelling at the kaleidoscope of small, dark purple crystals that lined the entirety of the hollow centre.

"Yup, I had it enchanted by a friend of mine to make it more efficient at holding energy. We're gonna pack the sides of the hole with copper wool when we install it, too." He shook the plastic bag as he sunk to his knees next to magic circle.

"Stephen, you shouldn't have. This must have been expensive," Chris protested as he played the geode this way and that, watching the light being captured and rebounded by the array of crystals inside.

"Surprisingly, not really. I actually picked it up from a human store, they had a whole bunch of them but I thought this one was the best. Besides, you're paying me well enough."

"Well, thanks, I appreciate it," Chris said graciously as Stephen got down to splitting open the industrial looking bag of reddish-brown fibres.

"You're welcome, Chris. I can honestly say I haven't enjoyed working with someone as much as I have with you in a long time," Stephen began stuffing bundles of the metal fibre down into the hole, making a nest for the big geode. "Would you believe that this stuff was harder to get a hold of than that geode? Had to come all the way from China. This country is going to crap."

Chris couldn't help smiling at werebison's admission.

"Thanks, Stephen. I've enjoyed working with you, too. Even if I do hate hauling rocks."

They were silent a few moments as Stephen finished packing the hole. He motioned for Chris to pass over the geode and soon enough it was nestled comfortably in place. More packing was added, surrounding the outside so that it couldn't move and only the large internal cavity was visible. The brim of the geode was right in line with where the glass cover slip would sit when it was replaced.

Stephen took chalk from the ever-present pouch on his belt and began scribbling around the edge of the hole. He muttered a few incantations under his breath and Chris watched a small surge of energy pulse through his hands into the copper wool.

"That'll insulate the vessel, both from leaking and from external forces. You're gonna' need that once we put in the concealed flight path for you and the dragonesses," he explained. "Go ahead when you're ready, Chris, try putting some energy in there."

"Okay, here goes," Chris tentatively hovered his hand over the opening, looking down into the beautiful crystal depths. He relaxed his almost subconscious efforts at dampening his magic, letting it flow freely through his cells as it swirled up, angry at being contained all day without relief.

Stephen's skin tingled, responding to the upwelling of magic. He was never going to get used to the sheer power this kid had. You'd almost forget about it, Chris was getting pretty good at bottling it up when he was out in the open but whenever he had to use his power, his aura would come flooding out. The sensation was astonishing, like being warmed by a magical sun.

The transfer began with a narrow beam of pure energy flickering into existence below Chris' hand. It leapt to the nearest grounding point, the crystal lattice directly below it. The energy pulsed deeper into the geode, finding a vast capacity ready to absorb and contain. Chris smiled, this was exciting. It was working. He concentrated on increasing the energy flow, letting his dragon's predator-born focus guide the energy, blanking his mind to other thoughts and distractions.

It was unlike filling a small to medium sized crystal or gemstone. He was used to that. This was so much bigger.

Mind you, in the dragon's household it was Claire, Petra, and Susan who bore the brunt of 'crystal duty.' Chris' routine invariably involved one or more of the three women first thing in the morning. They would make love and he would fill his lover to overflowing and beyond with his essence. She then had to battle against the exhaustion and pleasure to catalyse his excess magic down into a gemstone or trinket.

It was an incredibly satisfying way to start the day and Chris was becoming almost religious about it. They were also turning a tidy profit as Susan would sell the full vessels at her apothecary shop. They were running out the door like hot-cakes and drawing more business to the apothecary in general.

Chris cut off the flow into the geode when he felt the first hint of tiredness. Lillian's instructions were clear on that subject. Despite his wonderful capabilities, she would skin him slowly over an open fire if she ever sensed he was recklessly pushing boundaries. Now that she wasn't following him twenty-four seven, he needed to be prepared and able to defend himself at any time. There was always that temptation to test his limits but the thought of being rendered down to dragon-broth was a good deterrent.

Both men leaned over to get a look down into the magic well, their faces illuminated by the purple radiance shining from within.

"Woah," Chris murmured, watching the small, shimmering pool maybe an inch deep in the bottom of geode. "I didn't think it was going to form a liquid."

"That's what allows it to store so much magic," Stephen explained. "The crystal not only absorbs the energy but creates a stable container, meaning you can fill the inside with incredibly dense magic."

"Cool." Ever fascinated with the new concepts and experiences thrown at him, Chris couldn't hide his sense of wonder.

"You're darn right it's cool!" Stephen enthused as they moved aside and the cover slip was lowered back into position. "That will easily keep us going until you can come back to top it up. I can use this for any more enchantments I need to set up while you're away. Also, it should be easy to link the existing ones into the well, so they draw directly from it. If you keep that thing filled, this house is going to be damn near impenetrable once I'm done."

"This was a perfect gift, Stephen. Awesome and practical. Thank you." Chris smiled as they stood and began clearing the area of errant copper wool, the small pile of excavated stone, and a couple of plastic bags.

"Don't mention it, Chris. I've got to make sure my baby girl will be perfectly safe when she's over here," the werebison's grin shone as brightly as the dragon's aura as he watched the kid give him a guilty look.

Chris rose to his full impressive height, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath through his nose. He let the embarrassment flow out of him until his barrel chest began to shake gently with laughter. That was Stephen for you. There was no use fighting, you just had to go with it.

***

Chris dutifully messaged Lillian on his Maginet phone as he left work at five thirty pm on the dot. Ever since she had started weaning him of her constant guardianship, he was required to report any change of location or status, as well as checking in with her every two hours. The change had come about a month ago. She was satisfied that he had progressed with his combat training to a point that he could defend himself almost as well as she could defend him.

He missed her, having become used to her constant spectre and sarcastic teasing. Sometimes he sensed her, flickering into the periphery of his awareness during the day, checking up on him. They still saw each other several times a week. The vampire was leading his morning training regime and she sometimes hung around on guard duty at night or if they went out as a group. However, her freed up time was being spent on the Revelation now that he didn't require her constant babysitting.

There was much to organise on the Being side of things and given her position in Reyla's security team, Lillian was invaluable for the preparations. She was also keeping tabs on the level of dissatisfaction in the broader community. As part of Reyla's "muscle," she also facilitated responses to the rising numbers of issues and discontent amongst the local Beings, be those responses diplomatic or disciplinary. Her age, strength, and the respect she garnered within the Denver vampire community was vital to Reyla's reign.

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