Excerpt from: The Sorcerer Prince (Firethorn Chronicles 5) Lea Doué (all rights reserved)
Madigan pressed her back into the rough wood of the building, trying to ignore the splinter digging its way into her shoulder blade. She imagined herself small and invisible, quiet as a mouse. It would be just her luck to get caught hiding in the alley while accidentally spying on one of the twelve princesses of Ituria and a sorcerer. She breathed slowly and watched through the chink between the barrels, hoping the pair would move along quickly.
Princess Melantha leaned her shoulder against the alley wall a few yards down, closer to the town square but still within the dim shade between buildings. She toyed with the ends of her long braid and eyed the black, dog-sized dragon sitting at the feet of the tall sorcerer standing across from her. “You have a dragon now, Tharius?”
“Not exactly.” The man's voice was deep and rich. Slow. Deliberate.
The princess crossed her arms. “I'm dying to know why you don't exactly have a herding dragon.”
The casualness of her speech surprised Madigan. She'd always thought princesses to be something … more. Something elevated above everyday language and mannerisms. What surprised her more was Princess Melantha's familiarity with the sorcerer.
One of Tharius's black-gloved fingers twitched at his side, as if brushing aside the princess's interest. “I healed its wing as best I could, but it can no longer fly.”
“It's a female, and she thinks you're her herd now.” Her voice rippled with suppressed laughter.
Tharius frowned. “I'm glad you find it amusing. Feel free to take it—”
“--her off my hands.” His voice lowered to nearly a growl.
His change in tone didn't seem to alarm Princess Melantha. “I would, but I've got my own hands full. And you know as well as anyone that woollies go where they like, herd whatever—or whomever—they choose. You're stuck with it.”
The princess grinned mischievously, and Madigan bit her lip against a desire to join her.
Tharius grunted, obviously annoyed at the trick.
The princess pushed away from the wall and stepped forward. She glanced several times between the dragon and the sorcerer. “I'm surprised she hangs around you. You know how dragons dislike the …” She wiggled her fingers in front of her.
“Sorcery rarely involves finger waving.”
If she'd been closer, Madigan was sure she'd have seen him roll his eyes.
Princess Melantha took a step back and put her hands on her hips. “Have you given it up, then?”
Tharius took a deep breath and let out a long, slow sigh. The dragon rustled her wings and leaned into his leg, glaring at the princess. “If you must know, I've been bitten a few times, and she's disappeared on several occasions. But she keeps returning.”
The princess studied the sorcerer as if trying to read a book written in a lost language. “I would love to puzzle this out, but I should return to the festivities.” She paused, and then her voice took on a different tone, all the teasing and lightheartedness gone. “Whatever you're up to, Tharius, be sure to leave my family out of it this time.”