Monday, July 23, 2012
So You Think Your Dragon Can Dance
“I don’t understand,” Erol said. “How is performing a dance supposed to bring my chosen mate to me? And why must I wear this—” He tugged irritably at the collar of his stiff white dress shirt. “Uncomfortable costume?”
Karma automatically adjusted his tie for him. “You’ve never worn a tux before, have you? Well, dragon up and get used to it, buster. Formal wear’s required for the supperclub. When you bring Greely here, you’re going to look fabulous. Your dancing has to match.”
“Is this one of those inexplicable mammalian mating rituals?” This time he yanked at his waistband. “If so, I don’t see any point to it. Greely is mine. I don’t need to cavort around like an idiot to draw her to my side.”
“You want to keep her there? Then take her out to dinner. Learn to dance. Shower her with attention.” Karma’s teeth flashed in a sardonic smile. “Prove to her what a catch you are.”
“Of course I’m a catch. Any woman can see it. Why doesn’t she?”
Maybe, Karma thought, because Greely had a brain in her head. Granted, Erol filled out a tux like nobody’s business. But physical attractiveness got old really fast, as Karma had learned repeatedly over the millennia. Luckily for him, Erol had a good heart. He might actually be worthy of Greely’s love, once Karma sanded off some of that draconian arrogance. The male cluelessness was another matter, but she was game for anything if it meant her friend would benefit.
“Look. Here’s the deal. We gals are suckers for a romantic man. You’ve made a good start with the gifts. Now you have to step up your game. This sitting around waiting for her to make the move won’t cut it. You’re going to have to ask her out.”
“What, go to her? But that’s not how it’s done. The man shows interest and the woman responds by giving herself over to him. I’ve made my interest known. She should respond.”
“Yeah, I can see how well that’s worked. No wonder your kind is so rare. Obviously your way isn’t working. Why not try mine? It’s one little dance lesson. It isn’t going to kill you.”
“Someone may die today,” Erol muttered under his steamy breath.
“Good afternoon, kiddies!” The dancing instructor, Paul (he pronounced it “Pah-ool”) sauntered in, briskly clapping his hands. Beside him walked a young woman in a floor-length Oktoberfest costume. “Please forgive Sivakka’s attire. I pulled her off work for this. You here for the ballroom lessons?”
“He is.” Karma indicated Erol. She looked around. “Are we it?”
“You’re the dragon, right? Then you get private lessons. Dante’s orders. Dragons tend to get a little, uh, hot under the collar when other males are around. Especially other male dragons. The females—don’t get me started.” He looked Erol up and down, and licked his lips. “It’s you and me, big boy.”
“I’m not dancing with a man!”
“No, of course not,” Paul said quickly. He motioned Sivakka forward. “Sivakka will guide you through the steps, while I call instructions from over there. Way over there.”
Paul started up the recorded music. Sivakka took Erol’s hand and guided the other to her waist. “Light on your feet, like you’re flying,” she said. “It’s just like a glide, nice and easy. You don’t need to dig your claws into your partner. As long as you’re nice to her, she won’t try to run away.”
Erol smirked. “No woman has ever run from me.”
Sivakka smirked right back. “I’ll just bet.”
They glided and twirled to the music for a couple of minutes, until Erol started to blow steam. For a long-lived species, dragons grew bored with surprising alacrity. “All right, we can stop now. I’ve got the hang of it.”
“My toes are screaming otherwise. Light on your own feet, not mine.”
Smoke curled out of Erol’s nostrils. This impertinent female required a lesson of her own. “Listen, wench—”
He stumbled as an image suddenly burst into his thoughts—a titanic serpentine beast with massive flippers and a sinuous neck and tail. The creature was as large as a dragon. Perhaps larger. With the mental image came words, in Sivakka’s warning drawl.
No, you listen. That’s me in my natural form. My kind is even older than yours. We know how to handle dragons. You adjust that attitude right now, little boy, or I’ll douse you like a campfire. Are we clear?
Dry-mouthed, Erol nodded.
Good boy. Now, over the next hour I’m going to turn you into Fred Astaire, and you’re going to show your girl the night of her life. What she does with you afterwards is up to her. And a-one, two, three, one, two three—
Across the room, Karma watched Sivakka’s moves, physical and otherwise, impressed. “She’s a Nessie?”
“I know. I thought they were legends. I don’t know how Dante finds these people. She has standing orders to help me out with the more dangerous students. You know, in case of sudden, unexpected fires and that.”
Karma nodded. If any shifter could get the better of a dragon … “Looks like she’s got him under control.”
“Thank God for that. I have no idea where the fire extinguishers are. Would you like to join in?” He held out his hand to her. “On the house.”
Karma smiled. Why not? Even though she’d been around when most of these moves had been invented, she never turned down the chance to cut an elegant rug with a pretty male. Or whatever. She took Paul’s hand. “I’m leading.”