As I took the elevator down I pulled out my phone and I called Sage. I smiled when I heard him answer, “Hey.”

I said, “Hey yourself.” I know people in the elevator were looking at me strange, but I didn’t care. “I am going to be in your neck of the woods and was wondering if you’d like to walk with me while I’m out there?”

Sage chuckled into the phone. “Are you asking me out on yet another date?”

I smiled. “It would seem so. I don’t know when I’ll have time to see you, my case just got bigger and right now I’ve got a few hours to burn while things come together and I run this errand.”

“Alright, where do you want to meet?” Sage asked quickly.

I gave him the subway station I’d get off at and we could walk to the dragon’s apartment from there. I could get off a few stops closer but then I’d not get to see him as long. And I really wanted to see him again.

When we finished our conversation I called the Alpha of the Manhattan pack. I didn’t have a direct line exactly, but I had a line anyway.

He answered on the first ring. “Dude! Why am I not surprised to hear from you?”

“Glad to hear my voice Liam?” I laughed softly.

“No. Dom’s on a uber rage.”

“Why’s that?”

“Dragon’s man. They are fucking everywhere.” Liam whispered.

“That’s kinda why I’m calling actually. I got word that he might wanna know and he might be able to help me find what I’m looking for.”

“Dude! You can’t come down here now.” Liam was being overly cautious, he never cared about my safety before. For a lowlife scum bucket Liam was lower than that. At least in terms of the hierarchy of the pack. He was weak and a drug user which usually meant that he couldn’t handle being a wolf, but Liam was a drug addict before he became a wolf. Addictions don’t die when you change. Liam had to be locked up at nights. I’d once been sent after him and when I took him to Dominic instead of the Venatori Liam had been grateful. Drugged out of his head but the wolf remembered me. He had no choice but to agree with his wolf that I was a friend.

“Liam, man I gotta talk to Dominic.” I said flattly. “War is gonna come and I don’t want that. If he doesn’t let me come down and talk this out, they’ll send in the guns and the magic and take you all out. Bigger things than vamps and wolves and Venatori are at stake here. The Dragon has bigger plans than that.”

“Alright. But you are making me put my head on the chopping block for you. I’ll do it.”

“Thanks Liam, and I’ll protect you from Dominic. He won’t hurt you if he has to go through me.”

“Dude! No way he’ll back down.”

I smiled. “Don’t worry about it Liam. I’ll handle Dominic.”

“Alright, alright. I’ll call you back with details.”

By the time the conversation was over I was outside the building and heading for the train station. I was happy but also a little nervous. Why was I doing all this bizarre things just to see a guy? Sage was cute. Gorgeous. But I wasn’t doing this to get in his pants. I could have already done that.

I could contemplate that later there were bigger problems to deal with and Sage was a good distraction from it. I could hold off on analyzing my love life for a little while, but the fact that I even had a love life was new and a big step. Margo was going to have a lot to listen to tomorrow morning.

I focused on work. My blue-eyed mystery boy could wait till I was staring into those blue eyes. Just the thought of them made me weak. I was so fucked.

Dominic was on a rampage. The Dragon was using Val to do his go betweens. Dragons were stepping it up this was not good.

The intercom announced with much static my stop and I got off still no closer to an answer, but I was about to see my blue-eyed boy. I wasn’t sure why I kept calling him that, I knew his name, he wasn’t a mystery anymore. But I loved his eyes – that was probably the only reason I had. I started for the stairs up and leaning against the railing tapping away at his phone was Sage. He’d changed from earlier. Instead of the blue jeans he’d had on, he was wearing a pair of brown khaki’s and a white button down shirt – very professional looking for a Sunday afternoon. I must have caught him at work.

“You look good.” I said to him with a big smile. He looked better than good and I was sure he saw that in the way I looked at him.

Sage smiled at me and held out his hand for me to take. I slide my painted fingers into his hand and he entwined our fingers together. “So where are we going?”

“Around.” I grinned. “I’ve officially adopted a little dragon. He lived around here. His mother is going away for a long time, his dad will be going to jail in the human world. He was good leverage to get what we needed from her.”

“What did you need from her?” Sage asked as we stepped out into the afternoon air. It was getting too hot and I was still wearing my skeleton sweatshirt from earlier. I did what I did best and I used my ability to create a shimmering pattern no one could see that would suck the heat away from us. Sage looked at me as the air had cooled dramatically.

I smiled at him but said nothing about the temperature. “Information. I promised her son protection from the Dragons and the Venatori and she gave up her boss and his connections she could.”

“Sounds like a pretty eventful day.” Sage grinned.

“The best part of my day has been with you.” I laughed softly, “Cheesy as it sounds.”

Sage squeezed my fingers in his hand. “I’m glad to make your day.”

We walked hand in hand. “I hope you’ll make many more of my days.”

Sage laughed, “You are full of cheese today.”

“Sorry.” I grinned at him. He laughed and we walked the few blocks to the apartment the dragon’s had been staying in.

Sage grinned. “This is a dump. I could take you someplace nicer.”

“Oh yeah?” I returned the grin. I caught the front door as someone exited. It was better than having to pick the lock to get in.

Sage nodded. “I live around the corner.”

I bit my bottom lip. “Really?”

We went up to the fourth floor. I tried the door but we’d locked it behind us when we left. I sighed. “You might want to go wait down there. If you don’t want to be an accessory to a B&E.”

Sage smiled. “I’m alright. You intend on getting caught?”

“No. And I do have permission to be here just didn’t get a key.” I wove a quick weave that unbolted the door from the other side. I opened the door and we walked inside. “I need to grab a few of the boy’s things, and then I can hang for a little while. I told them I needed a few hours. Then I have to get back to work.” I headed into the back of the apartment trying to find the boys room, or at least something that belong to him.

It was a small apartment. It smelled slightly of burnt eggs. Sage followed me and I wanted nothing more than to hold his hand. “Why am I drawn to you Sage?”

He laughed. “You tell me.”

“I wouldn’t be asking if I knew.” I turned around and smiled at him. “But I’m not complaining.” I pushed opened a door and found a small bed on the ground. A small Snoopy dog was lying on the bed with a rumpled and torn blanket. I smiled. “Found what I was looking for.” I picked up a bag in the corner and found clothes and other things for the boy. I tucked Snoopy and the blanket inside the bag and slung it over my shoulder. “You want to grab a taco on the way back to the station?”

Sage grinned. “There’s this great taco truck not far from here.”

“Lead the way.” I grabbed Sage’s hand and I squeezed. I surprised myself, but it felt right and I liked being close to him.

We walked slow chatting about inconsequential things, but I mostly focused on the feel of his hand, the sound of his voice. Things that would get me through to the next time I’d see him. Not that I couldn’t just call him up again and go for a walk. I was amazed at how easily I wanted to do the mundane things with him.

Sage laughed at my drifting in and out of his story. “You zone out a lot.”

“Get lost in my head. I’m sorry, I’ll do better.”

Sage smiled, “No worries.”

We picked up a taco each, Sage paid. There was no awkward moments. I’d asked, but he had pulled out his wallet and was handing the guy cash. Sage smiled at me. “So you are okay with that?”

“I will be. It’s strange not paying.”

Sage laughed, “Well one of us has to give it up.”

I nodded. “I’m okay with this.”

We walked and talked while we ate our tacos. We headed for the train I needed to grab, but we walked slow. I don’t think Sage wanted to leave anymore than I did. But I did have to get back to work. “I’ll call you later tonight.” I said without feeling like I was lying. I wanted to call him.

Sage grinned. “Good. Anytime. I don’t care if you wake me up. I’ll probably be working late anyway.”

I kissed Sage on the cheek. He laughed. “I’m surprised you didn’t try for more.”

I grinned. “I’m following your lead.”

“I’ve already kissed you.” Sage laughed.

“That was more a demonstration of why you sat next to your dates than actually kissing me.” I joked.

“Did you not like it?” Sage teased back.

I smiled at him with an evil grin. “Maybe. I don’t exactly remember.”

Sage pulled me closer and whispered softly, “Maybe I should remind you?”

“You could.” I chuckled.

Sage pulled away and smiled. “I think I’ll make you wait.” He kissed my cheek gently. “You better catch your train, or you’ll be here all alone for ten minutes.”

“See ya, Sage.” I squeezed his hand and I went out down to the train before I missed it. I glanced back up at the top of the stairs where Sage waited and gave him a little wave before I went down. I had to push the sweet smell of lavender and jasmine from my mind, I had to work now. There was danger on the horizon and I needed to be ready for it.

The Last Phoenix (in order)