Hello, everyone! Thank you, Addison, for letting me drop by again! I feel like I’ve hardly come out of the elevator – I was here a little while ago to celebrate National Talk in an Elevator Day. It’s my thing, to celebrate crazy days, I mean. Not talk in Elevators. That’s definitely not my thing.
This month, we’re leaving the elevators behind and are focusing on bookstores instead. Much nicer, right?
I wrote The Book Dragon’s Lair to celebrate Bookstore Romance Day. The day was created so independent bookstores can celebrate romance fiction – books, readers, and writers – and strengthen the relationship between bookstores and the romance community. And who doesn’t want to support that?!
I’ll be honest and say I wrote this story because of the bookstore. I wanted to write a story set in a bookstore, and the romance in it hasn’t got anything to do with fiction (other than the entire story being fiction of course). The romance is between Ryu the Ravenous and Egil and takes place in the bookstore.
Egil is the human who runs the bookstore, and Ryu is a dragon pretending to be Draken the Dreadful – Egil’s mate.
Can you picture it? Shelf after shelf of books, the scent, the calm, the sense of belonging? The black dragon snarling at the customers? I love bookstores almost as much as I love libraries. The lighting is often cosier in a library, but since I’ve made up my own bookstore this month, I picture it with a pleasant, slightly dimmed light.
I had a lot of fun writing this one. As soon as I decided to do a bookstore, I was thinking about someone hoarding books, so we, of course, have a book dragon. Now, Ryu doesn’t want to be a book dragon. He loves his sparklies that he had to leave behind in his treasure cave when he travelled to the human realm, but what’s a dragon to do?
He’s petitioned to be allowed to travel to the human realm several times but was always denied, so when an opportunity to impersonate Draken the Dreadful showed up, he took it.
Draken had a bookstore, and Ruy does his best to step into his shoes, but books aren’t really his thing. They’re Egil’s thing, though, and Ryu wants Egil to have everything he desires.
Nothing made Egil happier than learning that there was a war in the dragon realm, and Draken, his mate, had to go join the battle. He can finally breathe and doesn’t have to fear being punished all the time. Then news of Draken being injured reaches him, and then, later on, that he’s on his way home.
The dragon stepping over the threshold to The Book Dragon’s Lair, the bookstore, isn’t Draken, though. At first, Egil panics. How will he survive dealing with yet another dragon? But the new Draken is nothing like the old Draken, and as long as he doesn’t harm Egil, he’s willing to play along.
I’m a sucker for traumatised heroes finding their happily ever after, and with this one, I indulged
Egil Olsen is running The Book Dragon’s Lair, a bookstore on Dragon Row, while Draken the Dreadful, his mate, is away fighting a war on the other side of the veil. The relief of not having Draken around is great. For the first time in years, Egil doesn’t have to watch every move he makes. When word reaches him that Draken is on his way home after having been injured, he considers running away.
The dragon stepping over the threshold to The Book Dragon’s Lair isn’t Draken, though. He claims to be, but Egil knows his mate, and while all dragons are dangerous, the male standing before him is nowhere near as cruel as his mate. Ryu never wanted to be a book dragon. Books don’t sparkle, but if it’s the price he has to pay to be in the human realm, he will pay it. He’ll take over Draken the Dreadful’s treasure, and he hopes he can take over his mate, too. Egil doesn’t want to be mated to a dragon, but without a mate, he’d be homeless and without a job.
A few hours after having met Ryu, Egil thinks being mated to him might not be too bad, but how will they be able to fool the people around them into believing Ryu is Draken? And what will happen if the real Draken comes back?
Egil forced a smile as three women entered the bookstore. “Good morning.”
They swept their gazes over him and dismissed him within a fraction of a second. They peered around the bookshelves, but when they couldn’t find what they were looking for, one of them neared the counter. “Excuse me.”
“Yes?” Egil smiled, though he could already guess what she was about to say.
“Where’s the dragon?”
Okay, a bit more rudely formulated than normal. “The dragon?” Egil flicked a glance at the stairs to make sure Draken wasn’t hiding in the shadows and would punish him for bad manners later.
“The Book Dragon’s Lair. Shouldn’t there be a dragon here? And you’re on Dragon Row. It’s false advertising if there isn’t a dragon.”
“I haven’t advertised.” People were so rude at times.
A creak sounded from the stairs, and Egil flinched. Fuck. Had Draken heard him?
“We came to see a dragon.” Her voice grew sharper.
Egil nodded and gestured at the stairs. There was a collective gasp as Draken descended—Egil gasped, too. Draken was barefoot, wore a pair of threadbare jeans, and he must’ve filled out while in the hospital because the T-shirt he wore was tight enough to show off the ridges of his muscles. Damn.
Then he reminded himself that Draken might not look like Draken, but no matter his looks, Egil didn’t find him attractive.
Draken hesitated for a second, his gaze flickering to Egil, then he straightened and strode down the stairs with the arrogance of a king and walked in behind the counter to stand next to him. He smelled of Egil’s vanilla and papaya shampoo. Draken hated the scent of it, and Egil had only dared buy it again once he’d been gone for several weeks.
He winced, thinking about what Draken had done with it. Last time, he’d thrown it in the trash and made Egil promise never to buy it again. But he’d used it… There was a bottle of the brand Draken liked, so why hadn’t he used it? He gave him a quick sideways glance and jumped when he found Draken studying him.
“Mr. Dragon…” The woman speaking looked ready to pass out. “…will you sign a book for me?”
Egil sucked in a breath and moved away so fast everyone turned to stare at him. People often begged Draken to sign books, and it often ended with snarled threats and things flying off the counter.
“Our policy is to not sign books.” Egil did his best not to let his voice quiver. He’d suggested Draken should sign books once. He’d been covered in bruises for a week after.
“Oh…” The woman looked disappointed. Egil didn’t understand them. Who wanted a book where some evil being had scrawled Draken the Dreadful on the first page?
There was an awkward silence where the women looked at each other before slowly moving toward the door without buying anything. When the bell above the door chimed for the second time, signaling the door had closed after their departure, Egil sighed. They could use some sales.
“Why don’t we sign books?” Draken’s voice was deeper than usual.
“Erm… You’ve always refused to.” Didn’t he remember? A flicker of hope lit in Egil’s chest. If he didn’t remember, then maybe he’d agree to sign a few books or cards or whatever. Then Egil winced. He didn’t remember because he wasn’t Draken.
Egil took another step to increase the distance between them in case Draken was playing some game with him. “Yes.”
“But it would have made them buy something, and we’d get more… paper notes. We’re paper note dragons.”
Egil blinked at the floor. What the hell? Was the wannabe-Draken playing with him? “Ah… erm…” Before he could come up with a reply, the phone in the small office behind Draken rang.
He snarled and whirled around, smoke coming from his nostrils.
Egil grabbed the counter for support. Could it be PTSD? Draken or not, the dragon was acting weird. “It’s the phone. You should answer it.”
About Holly Day
According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.
Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.