“Well, I don’t like to be touched,” Bee said, walking forward purposely until she reached the limit of the chain. “Not by women, disembodied Knockers, or even dragons with dreamy knuckles.”

“My knuckles are not dreamy,” Constantine said quickly, and waited for her to turn back to him before he moved forward, once again taking her hand. “They are simply hands, nothing more. Functional in a manly sort of way, but just hands. They are certainly not worth commenting about.”

“For pity’s sake, will you stop trying to paw me!” Bee stopped and whirled around to face Constantine, banging the birdcage against his hand in an attempt to loosen the grip. “I’m not interested in you, OK? Talk about arrogance—will you get it through your thick head that just because you’re handsome, and have eyes that are the color of an old piece of amber, and hair that you think at first glance is just brown, but then you realize is shot through with dark honey, doesn’t mean that I’m going to swoon at your feet just because you keep touching me.”

“Do you dislike men?” Constantine asked.

“No! At least, not in the sense you mean.” She tugged down her shirt in an irritated manner. “I just don’t like being manhandled, OK? Not even by handsome dragons. Especially by handsome dragons.”

“You say the word dragon like we are some sort of beast. We are not human, but we are an ancient race, and have adopted human mores. We are polite, we are considerate—when it behooves us to be—and we have very nice manners.”

“Ha! I knew a dragon once, and he was anything but nice. He was always grabbing me, and teasing me with his fire, which hurt like the dickens if you want to know the truth.”

“You don’t like dragons?” Constantine couldn’t believe his ears. He’d met women who hadn’t desired him personally, but never one who was prepared to damn all of the dragonkin.

“Let’s just say that given past experience, I don’t seek out your company.”

Constantine stared at her in confusion, then did the only thing he could think of. He kissed her.

She started when his mouth claimed hers, but despite his guess that she’d push him away, or slap him for such a brash move, her mouth opened under his and welcomed him into her sweetness.