From ‘A Cold White Home’ by Guy Donovan
Cerys tried fishing while Talorc flew south to chew his smelly rocks that both relieved his recurring pains and provided his flame. Unfortunately, her braided grass fishing line and bone hook proved as complete a failure then as had her snares during the winter. Each time the line jerked, she found only an empty, wormless hook. Frustrated, she lay back on the stream bank to nap in the bright summer sun shining down from the uncharacteristically cloudless sky.
Dozing, she felt Talorc’s usual presence announce itself in the back of her mind.
Did your hook not work? he asked from wherever he was.
It did not, she responded, aware that he already knew it due to their shared thoughts. She understood that he was merely showing interest in her latest endeavor that he found so strange. Some great hunter, huh?
You hunt well, he thought before adding, with a stick.
She shrugged. Are you done eating your rocks?
The light breeze shifted, carrying her sweaty, dirty scent to herself.
“Yecchh,” she said, her hand going to her nose. “All right…that’s it. I need another bath.”
Swimming is fun, Talorc’s thought echoed in her mind.
The stream is too cold.
Would it please you if it was not?
Well, yes, she admitted. But—
Cerys’ eyes snapped open just in time to see Talorc’s huge, dark body blot out the sun before he landed heavily beside her with a quick flurry of leathery wings that dusted her with grass, twigs, and fuzzy bits of the marshy bank’s tall reeds.
Well, she thought. You’re showing off a bit today, aren’t you?
I do not know what you mean, he replied even as she heard his rumbling “laugh” deep in his throat.
Without warning, Talorc flashed the water to steam with a long blast of his fiery breath.
Throwing an arm up over her face, Cerys yelled, “What are you doing?”
Now the water is warm, he stated, his amber eyes peering at her through steam clouds.
“Huh,” she said, regarding the shallow, bubbling water. “It is, isn’t it?” She poked a finger into it. “It’s cooling already though.” Grinning, she asked him, “Would you mind doing that again a bit upstream?”
If you wish it.
Talorc waddled away while Cerys stepped off the bank, her filthy and torn, child’s nightdress still on. Regardless of their being different species, she had never felt comfortable being naked around him. Once she was waist deep, Talorc blasted the water again. As it heated up, she scrubbed away at herself and the thin gown. Just as she finished, she spotted a few fish floating by on the surface, partially cooked by her friend’s flame.
Thank you, she thought as she snatched two of them up before climbing back onto the bank.
You are welcome, he replied, his eyes gone darkly amber with pleasure. Now you are clean, and have your fish that you wanted.