Tropical Dragon’s Destiny (Shifting Sands 10) – Bonus Epilogue

 

SPOILER WARNING!!

Do NOT read this story if you haven’t read the Shifting Sands series! This bonus epilogue contains major spoilers for the entire series – especially the final book, Tropical Dragon’s Destiny!

Haven’t read the Shifting Sands Resort series yet? Click here to get it on Amazon!

Spoilers below… last chance!

Note: This story takes place a few months after the final battle in Tropical Dragon’s Destiny.

The idea for this story came from a fan in my Facebook group, who asked for ‘Shifting Sands characters go on a cruise.’ Many thanks for the suggestion!  I hope you enjoy the resulting story…

Tropical Dragon’s Destiny (Shifting Sands 10) – Bonus Epilogue

by Zoe Chant

“Being filthy rich is unexpectedly boring,” Breck said, lounging back in one of the deck chairs pulled up close next to Darla so that he could reach over and caress the length of her thigh any time he wished. 

His feet were up on the railing opposite, and the ocean was rolling away behind them. The swirl of their wake was mesmerizing, but the appeal of simply sitting and watching it was beginning to wane after several weeks. 

“You don’t have to tell me,” Darla said wryly. She was smoothing a last layer of suntan lotion over the pale, faintly-freckled skin on her arms, and Breck watched admiringly from behind his sunglasses. 

“Of course,” Wrench said thoughtfully from beyond her, “it beats bein’ poor.” He was drinking a beer and had a ridiculously large straw hat shading his face. 

“Of course,” Breck agreed.

“I’ll be glad to go home to Shifting Sands,” Lydia said peacefully from beneath a hat that was even larger than Wrench’s, but somehow half as ridiculous. “I don’t think any of us were meant to be idle.”

“Graham, maybe,” Breck groused. “All those years we thought he was one of the hardest workers at the resort, and the whole time, Scarlet was the one pulling the landscaping miracles. Graham was probably napping or drinking every time he was out of sight.”

“Hey!” Alice protested for her mate as she sat up from her lounge.

“Still had to cut the grass,” Graham said, utterly unoffended as he took a long swig from his own bottle. “She couldn’t un-grow things.”

“And the strawberries and tomatoes were always yours,” Alice said defensively. “The entire upper gardens were.”

Graham made a sorrowful grunt. The gardens had been utterly wiped out in the battle with the two-headed wyrm, and although Scarlet would be able to make everything grow back after the greenhouses were rebuilt, Breck strongly suspected that it wouldn’t be the same as the plants that Graham had nurtured from seeds. 

“What do you think they’re doing with all our money?” Breck mused lazily.

“It isn’t even close to all our money,” Darla reminded him, because she would always keep him honest as well as happy. “And I’m sure Scarlet is spending it very well.”

“She sent photos of the construction,” Tex drawled. “So you could keep tabs on her.”

Breck hadn’t been very impressed with the photos of half-built structures sprouting rebar amid great piles of tiles and steel beams, but the buildings were definitely starting to take shape. 

“Poor Travis,” Darla said, because she had a heart of absolute gold. “It doesn’t seem fair that we’re all here while he had to stay behind.”

“His choice,” Breck reminded her. “He’s the one who wanted to have his fingers in on the ground floor, so to speak.”

“Poor Jenny,” her twin sister, Laura, teased. “She’s the one having to suffer a luxury cruise on a giant private yacht while her mate slaves.”

“You jest,” Jenny said firmly, “but I’m thinking about heading back early. I was going to see if I could get a charter out of Antofagasta when we stopped there.”

Everyone was quiet at that idea, and Breck found himself sorely tempted. Darla’s hand slipped into his as if she guessed what he was thinking about.

“Of course, Scarlet said the bay community won’t be ready for residents for a few more months,” Laura said sorrowfully. She rubbed her round belly and made a grimace of discomfort.

“The hotel at the resort is nearly complete,” Tex said thoughtfully. “It wouldn’t be The Den, but we lived in a hotel once before.”

“They won’t need us underfoot,” Lydia said chidingly. “Surely we’d only be in the way.”

“I can lug building supplies from one place to another,” Wrench offered.

Graham grunted thoughtfully and Alice, proving that mates grew even more like each other, gave an equally pensive grunt in reply. 

“Workers get thirsty,” Tex said. “And it would be a shame if Scarlet stocked substandard liquor because I wasn’t there to steer her right.”

“I’m sure they’re doing fine,” Lydia protested, but she laughed her giving-up laugh and Breck knew that she was no happier than any of the rest of them there.

Breck put his feet down on the deck and sat forward. “Well, there it is, then,” he said firmly. “Let’s turn this creaky thing around and head back home.”

“You can’t do that,” Laura laughed. 

“Why not?” Breck demanded. “It’s my boat. I bought it.”

“Scarlet said we should go out on a several month cruise,” Jenny protested, but her eyes were full of longing. “It’s only been a few weeks.”

Breck made a rude noise through his lips. “Scarlet’s not here. She can’t boss me around from there.”

Graham’s noise was not so much a grunt as it was a snort. 

“Okay, maybe she can, but will she stop us? We don’t need a tropical cruise, we have a tropical island. I don’t mind tenting it at Shifting Sands, or sleeping on the beach.”

“The bay dock is deep enough for a boat this big,” Tex suggested. “We could just stay in it.

“I’ll be happier to have ground underneath me that isn’t swaying,” Laura suggested. “I can’t tell what is morning sickness and what is sea sickness anymore. I’m tired of being constantly queasy.”

“A tent sounds just fine,” Tex swiftly amended. 

No one said a word about not wanting to go back. 

“I’ll go talk to the captain,” Breck announced, getting to his feet. 

“Didn’t Scarlet hire the captain?” Tex reminded him. “He might have other plans.”

“It’s my boat!” Breck repeated. “I bought it!”

Darla laughingly rose and followed him as Breck walked around to the starboard side. She scampered to catch up with him and slip her hand into his.

“I should have asked you,” Breck said apologetically, with a smiling sideways look. “It’s your boat, too.”

“They call it a ship, at this size,” Darla teased him. “Three full decks above the waterline.” Then she sobered. “And you already knew I was ready to go home. I miss the elders, and baking in the kitchen with Chef.”

“Chef and Magnolia won’t be back yet,” Breck reminded her. “Probably they’re bringing bread in from the mainland instead of baking it there. We’ll be roughing it for a while.”

“Oh yes,” Darla drawled. “So rough. Only everything that money can buy at our fingertips thanks to magical portals.”

“You get to ask Mal for the portals,” Breck said with a dramatic shudder. “He’s scary.” Breck’s fear was mostly feigned, but it was hard not to notice how powerful Mal was. And although he’d proved a valuable ally, Breck hadn’t forgotten that he’d been an enemy of the island for longer than he’d been a friend.

They stopped near the stairs that went up to the captain’s bridge and Breck drew Darla into his arms. “We could go anywhere, you know,” he reminded her. “Anywhere in the world, wherever you wanted. Paris? Moscow? We could buy a city, if you picked one.”

Darla smiled up at him, the waves of her strawberry blonde hair glowing around her in the low evening light. “I’d be happy enough anywhere I was with you,” she reminded him. “But I think you’re right. It’s time to go back to Shifting Sands. It’s time to go home.”

Home was Darla’s lips, and his fingers tangled in her hair. Home was lost in her blue eyes, and feeling her close to him and knowing she was his. 

But home was also warm breezes over restaurant decks, and finding satisfaction in good service. It was banter with the other staff, and flattering the customers. It was singing with Chef in the kitchen and knowing that he was part of something better, something greater, making people happy. 

“Let’s go home,” he agreed, kissing her nose. Then he let go of her and dashed to the stairs going up. “Captain,” he called, “we have a change of course!”