Levi stopped walking suddenly. I turned back to ask him what was wrong and found him staring ahead, eyes wide and jaw clenched. I’d never seen him go so pale so fast. Following his gaze, I realized what had caught his attention. A blonde woman leaned against the side of my aunt’s car. She smiled pleasantly when she saw us and offered a wave. Brow furrowed, I started walking again and a moment later Levi was close beside me, his fingers curling around my wrist.
“Friend of yours?” I asked.
“Friend of no one but herself,” he replied darkly. “She cannot be trusted.” I shot him a curious glance but he shook his head. “Just…be wary."
"Understood,” I muttered.
“Hi there.” The woman greeted us cheerfully, pushing off the car and stepping toward us. She smiled and looked me up and down in a way that made me uncomfortable. “Hm, even better up close."
"Excuse me?” I said. “Who are you?”
“An old friend of your pet lizard,” she said, holding out a hand. My eyes narrowed but I grasped it, giving a firm shake. “Nice grip.” She smirked suggestively and I pulled my hand back. “I’m Calandra."
"What do you want?” I asked.
“Just…introducing myself,” Calandra said. “I have some…unfinished business that needs tending.” For the first time since I’d noticed her, she looked at Levi. He stiffened beside me and tightened his grip on my wrist.
“And it’s going to stay unfinished,” I said. “Come on, Levi.” I walked around her, dragging Levi along, still latched onto my wrist.
“Levi!” Calandra laughed. “So you really did name him, then. How unfortunate.” I paused, turning back.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked.
“A dragon named is a dragon tamed.” Calandra’s brows lifted. “A king of serpents, and you’ve reduced him to a garter snake.”
“Leave us be, Calandra,” Levi said. The strain in his voice tripped my defensive trigger. It wasn’t like him to be so noticeably distressed.
“Did you even put up a fight?” Calandra asked. “Or were you as pathetically easy to tame as you were to trick?” Levi flinched, lowering his eyes to the ground.
“Right, I’ve had enough,” I said. Pulling my wrist free, I put myself between the pair of them. “I don’t have the time or patience to play games with you.” An unsettling grin spread across Calandra’s face. “You’re going to leave my dragon alone.” She quirked a brow.
“Or you’ll what?” she asked. “Send me to bed without supper?"
"Wait and see,” I replied coolly.
“Oh, but I do like a human with spirit.” Calandra moved closer, her devilish grin unchanging. I didn’t budge.
“As of right now, you have no further business with Levi,” I said.
“Oh, you sweet thing,” she replied. “I’ve no interest in your lap dragon.” Quicker than I could react, Calandra grabbed me by the chin and kissed me hard on the mouth. “My business is with you,” she added quietly before letting go. “I’ll be seeing you soon.” I stared at her, stunned, as she cast Levi a self-satisfied smirk. “Fangless.” Calandra gave me one last mischievous look before turning and disappearing into the alley behind her. Levi was on me a moment later.
“Are you all right?” he asked, taking my face in his hands. “She didn’t harm you, did she?” I blinked up at him for a moment, still shocked.
“She…kissed me,” I said. “Why the hell did she kiss me?” Levi’s jaw clenched and he looked down, letting his hands drop. “Levi, what the fuck is going on?"
"I am so sorry,” he sighed and leaned back against the car. “I would give anything to keep you from getting tangled up in this.” He looked at me from under his lashes. “Too little, too late it seems.”
I scowled. “How many dragon-related messes do I have to stumble into before I reach the quota, because this is starting to get ridiculous.” I stalked around the car to the driver’s side. “Get in, would you? And try not to attract any more trouble between here and the house.”