“Sir,” his servant said, bowing very properly. “Your car is waiting.
Kyle looked up from his computer game and blinked. You see, he didn’t have a servant. Or a car. In fact he lived in a spare room in his parents’ house, and worked just enough — usually as a day laborer or temp, to get whatever game he wanted.
Had he fallen sleep in front of the computer? Was this a dream?
The servant wore a tux, or something like that, and he stood expectantly.
Well, if it was a dream, Kyle was going to make the most of it. It seemed more fun than any game he’d ever played.
“Sure,” he said, getting up. “Sure… er…. Jeeves.”
The servant didn’t protest being called Jeeves. Somehow, he’d acquired a little silver tray, with keys on it, and extended it to Kyle. The keys had a weird emblem, with a dragon on it. But they looked classy. Definitely a dream.
The car was waiting outside, in his parent’s driveway, making their BMW look like chopped cabbage. The Car — in Kyle’s mind it was written in capitals — was low slung, curvy, bright green and glistening.
He pressed a button on the keys, and the driver’s door opened with a silent, gliding motion.
Inside, the seats were dark green leather, pliable to the touch. Not like other car seats. More like some very nice leather jackets. The kind Kyle had never been able to afford.
The wheel was covered in a similar material, and was a pleasure to hold.
Afterwards, Kyle couldn’t explain where and how he’d decided to drive. Or how long he’d been away. Driving The Car was like dancing with a beautiful woman. It wasn’t the destination but the journey. They glided together over roads, and he had a memory of sitting in the car, watching the sun set on the water.
When he got back home his parents must have been asleep, because all was quiet.
At breakfast his mother asked him about the car in the driveway. “Oh, it’s a friend’s,” Kyle said. “I’m keeping it while he’s on vacation.”
He was stung his parents accepted it so easily. Like they thought he wouldn’t have the initiative to steal it or something.
That afternoon he went for a drive again, and he stopped by the sea. For the first time, he noticed a golden castle atop a cliff. He blinked at it, in confusion, as he didn’t remember a castle there before, and he was sure his parents had come to this beach with him a couple of time when he was little.
When he got home, his servant was laying out a tux and snowy white, frilled shirt on his bed. “What–” Kyle started.
“It is your clothing for the ball, sir. I assume you’ll want to attend the ball.”
There was an invitation on his desk. It was gilt edged, and written in elegant calligraphy, and invited him to Miss Drake’s come out ball. It was signed by Mr. and Mrs. George Drake.
“Now, sir,” the servant said. “It might be best if you attend, but try not to catch Miss Drake’s attention. While she is very beautiful and very wealthy, if you try to attract her and fail, she will surely eat you.”
Kyle was sure he’d misheard it. Just like he knew without asking that the ball would be in the castle, by the sea.
Indeed, when he got to his favorite parking spot, near the sea, there were valets, ready to park the car. And the path up the cliff was illuminated with beautiful orb lights.
The castle looked far more modern inside than you’d expect. The vast salons had tables set up with food for the guests. All except for one, which was the ball room.
And that’s where Kyle met Dulce Drake. She was–
He stared at her, and he was lost. Flame red hair. A body that he thought only existed in the best drawn computer games. And she wore a cocktail dress the exact color of his car.
He asked her to dance and she agreed, and somehow even though he’d never learned ballroom dances, he could do it perfectly, gliding with her in the ballroom, and being so perfect together that all other couples eventually ceased dancing and just stopped and watched.
He left that night with his mind in a glow, his feet seemingly walking on air.
“Now, sir,” the servant said, materializing in his room, as Kyle came out of the shower. “I’m afraid you shouldn’t have done that. Now Miss Drake will surely eat you.”
He handed Kyle a letter. It was written by George Drake and it pointed out the terms for winning his daughter. Kyle had to have a job that would support him, he had to have an aim in life, and more importantly, he had to defeat her in her dragon form in single combat.
Somehow it all made sense to Kyle. He had no resume to speak of, but he wanted to glide with Miss Drake in the endless ballroom again. So he went out and applied at the first place that said “Help wanted.”
He worked very long hours and learned a lot — it was, as it turned out, a pet shop — including the care and feeding of small animals and… well, everything. After three months, they promoted him to assistant manager, and then the representative for one of the pet food brands asked him if he wanted to come work for them in testing the foods to see what the animals preferred.
At the end of a year, inexplicably — except for the fact that he worked very, very hard, and tried to learn everything — he was doing quite well at the pet food factory. Everyone told him he was headed to VP of the brand.
And he received an invitation to the ball at the castle. Once more, Dulce Drake favored him, and he danced with her all night long.
He went home and drew up a plan to start his own pet food business, all fresh and mostly raw food. It would have to be stored in the refrigerator, which would cause a problem for stores carrying it, but not an insurmountable one. He took his plan to a bank and was almost shocked they gave him a loan.
And after the next ball, he was told he was now at Miss Drake’s mercy. They walked outside to the terrace, and she shifted, without his knowing how, into a giant red dragon, who flamed at him.
Kyle didn’t know what to do. He’d never fought anything except in games. And he didn’t have a magical sword, which he felt would be necessary for killing a magical dragon. Also, he didn’t want to kill her. She was a giant, flaming dragon, but in her eyes, he saw fear. Fear he would let her win, fear he would leave. Just fear. He didn’t want to kill her. He didn’t want to hurt her. The last thing he wanted to do was make her unhpapy.
So he ran around, avoiding her flame — he had got pretty good at running around, when he was managing the pet food factory — until he finally ducked under her flame stream to get to her head. She was furious at him, he sensed, but also starting to tire.
He ducked under the flame and kissed the side of her scaly face. “My darling,” he said, “I love you no matter what form you take. And I would never hurt you, but you must stop this.”
There was an hesitation, a shimmer in the air. And then suddenly he was holding Dulce Drake, in her shimmering green dress. And she looked up at him, still afraid but somehow reassured.
When he kissed her, the guests applauded, and George Drake invited him to his office to discuss the future.
They were married a year later, much to the confusion of Kyle’s parents, who didn’t even know he’d been dating. And the servant and the car, somehow, came with the house her parents gave her.
Kyle never asked where they’d come from initially. He thought there were questions best not asked of fate.
The servant and the car had saved him from life in death, and given him Dulce.
And he wouldn’t say she never again turned into a dragon, but he was always able to gentle her back into her sweet human form.
And we won’t say they lived happily ever after. But they were more happy than not. And they raised three sons and two daughters, neither of which needed the assistance of a magical car to grow up.
And that’s all anyone can ask for.