“There is nothing I would not do for those who are my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature.” ― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Back to the present.
Dominika Ivanovich studied the piles of data as the old doctor’s words snaked their way along in her thoughts. She looked up from the printouts at the picture of her two children with Auntie Lee, Kwan Che kneeling beside them, a bright smile and laughing eyes staring into her soul. Except for Ivan and her children, she never loved anyone more than Lee. She knew what she had to do for Lee, and she would do it without a thought or reservation.
* * *
The Mercedes raced up the winding road. The engine’s growl reverberated off the tall firs as the force of wind bent lower limbs in the fury that remained after the Mercedes had disappeared around the turns. The car’s transponders alerted the guards, and they raced to take their places at the gate.
The vehicle braked hard as the gate opened to reveal a line of guards standing at attention. The young ones feared the symbol of the black dragon on the front tag that held a golden globe in one claw and a flaming pearl in the other. The obscured driver behind the tinted glass could ask for their lives on the slightest whim.
The car parked in front of the mansion as five attendants rushed to the driver’s door. The Mercedes sat like a beast as the man and four Dragon Sisters took their place. The male opened the driver’s door and watched with a predator’s intensity. The four women tensed and prepared themselves to act.
A long leg with a beaded slipper emerged. The woman appeared in a red dress with gold dragon brocade. The dress flowed to its proper hang at mid-thigh. Dominika waited, allowing the welcome party to show proper respect before she followed them to the entrance of the General’s estate. They opened the large wooden doors and ushered Dominika inside.
The Emperor in Waiting bowed to the Ministress of Science and Knowledge and escorted her to Lee’s room. Dominika and Hue had known each other for many years and shared an undying love for Lee. Dominika explained why she was there and asked for privacy with Lee. The stoic man felt his heart lift as he kissed Dominika’s hand. He closed the door behind him.
Lee rested, propped up and looking serene. Dominika touched her cheek to make sure her skin was still warm. She stared at her mentor and felt a surge of love fill her heart. She recalled in a flood of memories how Lee had held her hand through every trial and taught her the way of the Dragons. Lee’s strength and generous heart were a guidepost for Domi through many of her darker days in the past.
Lee was there at her side during her sorrow and in the celebrations, never wavering in her devotion to Dominika. It was Lee that helped her attain her position with the Dragons and gave her the fulfilled life that she and Ivan shared with their children. Now, Dominika was here to give back the energy of life she took from Lee, even if it meant her life. That was what Dragon Sisters did for each other.
The Grand Dame of Science and Knowledge for the Black Dragons was first a friend of Lee’s and second, a willing servant to the Empress in Waiting, mother to the Black Dragon Messiah. She ran her hand through her friend’s hair and kissed her forehead.
“I’m here Lee,” she whispered
“Domi?” Lee’s eyes focused as she savored the familiar scent of jasmine and the earthy, and spicy tones of ginger.
“Yes, dear. It’s me,” Domi replied
“I dreamed of us,” Lee said through her clouded mind.
“Was it good dreams?” Domi said as she held Lee’s hand.
Domi looked into Lee’s eyes and watched as Lee’s lungs heaved to bring enough air to gain full alertness. Domi reached behind Lee’s back and helped her sit up.
Domi touched Lee’s face with her fingers. “You look so much better than two weeks ago. How do you feel?”
“I sleep a lot, and I miss my son and husband. I don’t get to see them often enough.”
“That’s going to change today,” Domi reassured Lee. Domi knew that the child and her husband gave her spiritual strength and were necessary to her recovery. She would countermand the doctor’s orders, and Lee would begin her life with her family this day.
“Tomorrow, I am taking over your recovery, and we are going to start with traditional hot baths and massage to help you regain your strength and tighten your stomach.” Domi and Lee both smiled as their shared memories played in their minds. Lee had done the same for Domi when her son was born sixteen years ago and when her daughter came two years later.
“Help me stand Domi. I want to go see my baby boy.”
Domi held tight to Lee’s waist. The two walked past the guards and nurses out in the hall to the nursery. No one would risk upsetting two of the most powerful women in the entire Black Dragon society. They followed behind as the two women eased down the hall holding tight to each other.
Lee felt her energy rising. It was the blessing of the Bear and Dragon lifting her from the cloud of her dreams. Her heart sang as they entered the nursery.