Books & Broadswords: Chapter 8

Part of the serial story Books & Broadswords
Books & Broadswords, Chapter 8, on a purple background of dragon scales, with a crest of swords crossed behind an open book.

Six months later…

The weather was cold and gray, and if not for persistent rumors of bandits along this road, I would’ve been tucked into my cozy castle with a book and a roaring fire. I’d still be miserable, but at least I’d be warm and miserable.

This was my second attempt to flush the bandits out, but I’d yet to see any sign of them. Either they were smarter than usual or they’d moved on, and the rumors hadn’t caught up.

By the time the next town came into view, I was frozen and surly. The smart choice would’ve been to return to my castle, but for the past six months my home had been unbearably lonely.

The knight hadn’t found me—and hadn’t even looked, as far as I could tell. A month after I’d let him go, I’d started lingering in towns across the area, hoping for even a hint of rumor about a knight searching for a dragon, but there hadn’t been a single whisper. It was just as I’d expected. My heart ached, but I’d gotten used to ignoring it.

I trudged toward the nearest tavern. I would warm up with a hot meal and listen for any new bandit rumors, then I would return home and brood in peace.

I was so busy ignoring everything that I nearly missed the sign. Even after it registered, I blinked twice, sure I was hallucinating.

My eyes traced over the freshly carved and painted wood, drinking in every detail. Raised white text spelled out “Books & Broadswords” over a background of dark dragon scales. The logo was a coat of arms with two broadswords crossed behind an open book.

It was, in a word, perfect.

The shop’s windows blazed with light, and a peek through the glass proved that half of the shelves were indeed packed with books while the other half were filled with weapons and armor. For the first time in months, I felt the familiar prickle of avarice.

This shop had not been here on my last visit.

Not only that, but it seemed designed specifically for me. If it was a trap, it was a clever one. If not…

I wavered, aware exactly who might be lurking inside. Hope demanded action, but honor held me back. I could walk away now, and he would never know. But I would never know, either.

Was the knight waiting inside, or would a stranger call out a greeting and break my heart?

The door opened before I could decide. Ansel stepped out into the cold evening air, looking even more handsome than I remembered. He wore a tunic and trousers, no armor in sight.

He slanted an unreadable glance at me. “I told you I would find you.”

“If we’re being technical, I found you,” I said around the sudden lump in my throat.

His brow furrowed into a scowl. “Who do you think has been spreading rumors of bandits for months?” He scoffed. “Took you long enough.”

I wasn’t sure what to do with this prickly version of the knight who’d once smiled at me with utter delight, but my instincts were screaming at me to snatch him up before he escaped again.

I clasped my hands together under my cloak until my fingers ached. “Is this your store?”

“If we’re being technical,” he drawled, echoing my earlier words, “it’s yours.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your gold paid for it. Well, originally, it was the king’s gold, I suppose, but I stole it from you.” He tilted his head. “You didn’t notice?”

“No.” Gold wasn’t part of my hoard, so it wasn’t tied to me with magic. It was useful, but that was it.

“You noticed the book.” His voice was soft.

“From the moment you took it,” I agreed.

He slanted another glance at me. “You didn’t kill me.”

I swallowed. “No. But I couldn’t let you keep it, either. The temptation would’ve been too much.”

He regarded me steadily. “For you or me?”

“For me,” I whispered. “If I’d known where you were, I never could’ve let you go.”

“I told you I didn’t want to leave.”

“You were enchanted. I had to let you go.”

“I wasn’t, and you didn’t,” he said. “It’s been six months and my feelings haven’t changed.”

I squinted at him. I’d never heard of an enchantment lasting that long, but perhaps I’d dosed him with more of my magic than I’d realized.

He chuckled, but the sound had a bitter undertone that grated against my ears. “You still think I don’t know my own heart,” he murmured, shaking his head.

He turned and backed me against the window, his eyes blazing, and his body a wall of heat. “Let’s get one thing straight, Lady Dragon,” he growled. “I knew you were it for me from your very first scowl. So unless your magic works instantaneously, I was not magically enchanted.”

“But I’m a dragon.”

“That was a bit of a surprise,” he agreed with the shadow of a grin. “But now that I’ve found you again, I’m not letting you go. Would you like to see your new books?”

I closed my eyes against the temptation. “Unfair,” I murmured.

His lips skimmed over my jaw. “Oh, Feora, I haven’t even started.”

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29 thoughts on “Books & Broadswords: Chapter 8”

  1. I know technically this is a novella but I am really loving the story so if it happened to spin off into a novel or heaven forbid an entire series I would not complain : )

    1. It’s not even a novella, really, more of a long short story/novelette. :) I do have an idea for a second story, but I don’t know when or if I’ll have time to write it.

      1. This is amazing. Just what I need (while I wait for your next book!!) Thank you! If you ever find time to write another in this series, I will read! I love these two characters. What a fantastic story.

  2. Has it finished 😳 please tell me it hasn’t finished !
    I look forward to it so much.
    Jessie .. thank you !!!! Xxxxxxxx

  3. Oh this is so utterly delightful! It’s so clever and charming how the knight figures out how to romantically entrap and ensnare a dragon, with books and bandit rumors.😍😍

    And he’s willing to sacrifice his knighthood and love her despite previous prejudices against dragons. I loved the line “neither of us are mindless killing machines.”

    It’s amazing what you can pack into a short story and do it so well.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thankyou thankyou thankyou. I’ve had a helluva time the past few days and now I’m crying happy tears instead of sad ones. I am so very grateful you have no idea ❤️

  5. Really nice story! Looking forward to the remainder. Kinda sad to know only a couple more posts tho. Hope you can find time for another, myself. Thanks!

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