Pets in Space 5 - SE Smith


Kingdom of Glitter:

Minor Moon of Leviathan

Several Months Before the Present

“Oh, Arilla, what have we done?”

Arosa mentally sent the silent, dismayed question to her sister, Arilla, a moment before she solidified into the form of the Queen of the Wood Fairies. She caught the little girl who had slipped from the balcony high above and tightly cradled her. Hope, daughter of the twin dragons, Cree and Calo, and their human mate, Melina, tearfully clung to her. She could feel Hope’s heart pounding with fear. Mortified by the near tragedy, Arosa tenderly rocked the girl as she whispered soothing reassurances that she was safe.

Arosa landed outside of the palace where Hope had slipped from the balcony just seconds before. An instant later, Cree and Calo’s symbiots touched down beside her. Their golden bodies were pressing against her to reassure themselves that their tiny charge was safe.

Arosa tried to smile reassuringly at the two, almost identical dragons that swooped down, shifting into men a split second before they landed. The heart-wrenching fear on both men’s faces tore through her, causing a rush of emotion that manifested into a physical pain inside her chest.

“Hope,” Cree choked out, his arms reaching for his tiny sobbing daughter. “Daddy’s here, my little dragonling.”

“We’re here. I’m so sorry, my little princess. We should never have left you,” Calo said in a thick, trembling voice. “Goddess, how can we ever thank you for saving our daughter?”

Arosa stared at the two men. “I’m not…,” she began before a child’s excited voice pierced the air.

“It’s the Queen of the Wood Fairies!” Morah Reykill happily exclaimed.

Arosa silently groaned when she saw the group of younglings gathering around her. Caught, she wasn’t sure what she should do. When—not if—Aikaterina found out about this, Arosa suspected Arilla and she would be chastised.

She looked down when a tiny hand slipped into hers. Morah Reykill gave her a huge grin and an exaggerated wink, then stared at her with shining eyes full of excitement.

“I’s knew you was reals,” Morah cheerfully announced.

For a moment, Arosa struggled to remember who she was supposed to be. She frantically reached out to Arilla as she tried to decide the best way to handle the situation. Arilla’s soft, lilting laughter filled her head when Tia, the Keeper of the Stories for the Kingdom of Glitter and their secret accomplice in this misadventure, stepped forward with a warm smile. Beside her was a stately man that inspired an unexpected response inside her.

Tia smiled and waved her hand between the man and Arosa. “King Tamblin, may I introduce the Queen of the Wood Fairies…,” she began before she paused.

Arosa realized that Tia was waiting for her to introduce herself. “Arosa…. My name is Arosa,” she replied, clasping her hands in front of her and folding her wings.

“Arosa,” Tia repeated with a gentle smile. “Arosa, may I introduce Tamblin, King of the Leprechauns of Glitter.”

Arilla! What am I to do? Arosa silently groaned to her sister.

Be the Queen of the Wood Fairies, sister, Arilla faintly replied.

An hour later, Tamblin smiled and distractedly nodded when one of the men sitting around the fire said something he didn’t quite catch. Whatever it was must have been funny given the deep male laughter surrounding him. Tamblin was fascinated by the group of children as they joyfully played under the watchful eyes of their fathers.

He decided that tonight could only be described with one word—magical. It was hard to believe the strangers sitting around the fire were Valdier, Sarafin, and Curizan warriors. He remembered them being so much larger. It wasn’t only the men sitting and chatting or the unusual children who shifted from one form to another who held his fascination, though. The beautiful enchantress sitting beside him was twisting his normal, stolid control into knots.

“Is everything alright?” Arosa asked.

Tamblin nodded. In an impulsive move, he reached down and cupped Arosa’s hand. She stiffened with surprise and tilted her head, giving him a curious, shy look. He rose to his feet and looked down at her.

“Would you like to go for a walk?” he asked.

“I—yes, that would be nice,” she answered.

Tamblin didn’t miss the note of uncertainty in Arosa’s voice. Paul Grove, one of the men sitting around the fire, looked up and gave him a nod. Tamblin bowed his head and smiled before guiding Arosa away from the group and along a cobblestone path. The stones lit up under his feet but not hers. It took him a moment to realize it was because she was floating