Darius Dembari is an oddity—a male dryad in a world where only the women are taken seriously. Both a male model and an eco-activist, Darius finds that the men he meets can’t keep up with him sexually. He despairs of ever finding a special someone in his life.
And then chance brings him to face-to-face with the lumberjack of his dreams. His best friend Clint is beyond dismayed at Darius’ apparent treachery. Even Darius’ mother suggest he fuck him and leave him.
But something inside Paul is calling to him, and Darius can’t stop until he deciphers the message. Hopefully the man of his dreams won’t turn out to be the ecology terrorist the others claim he is.
Darius Dembari struggled through the green. As one of the few male dryads, he possessed most of the powers of the other dryads, but his powers weren’t nearly as strong as theirs. Plant walking was one of the hardest gifts for him to use. His mother and sisters made it look so easy, but he hated it, even if it was a much faster way to cover long distances than driving, or even flying. His mother could enter an oak in Maine and emerge from a redwood in California in under an hour. He was lucky to make it to a Colorado lodge-pole pine in two hours.
It always felt to him as though the green knew he was unusual and didn’t want to cooperate with him when he went to move through it. If he hadn’t received an urgent call from his close friend, Clint, he wouldn’t have even tried. But Clint had said it was urgent, and something he would want to know about, so Darius struggled onward.
He emerged from the spruce near Clint’s Washington home. With a deep breath, Darius reoriented himself to the humid air. It wasn’t the same as the eastern forest he called home, but it was close. He took just a moment to make sure he appeared human, and not the elongated, green-hued creature who’d just traversed a majority of the continent through the realm of plants. As one of the more human-seeming fae, Dryads didn’t have to spend a lot of energy on glamour in order to pass unnoticed among other people.
Several people were hurrying from the large shed behind Clint’s house to a couple of pickups. They all carried pieces of wood from the shed to the truck. Darius strolled over to where Clint was handing things to the men and women who were loading them.
“Hey Clint.” Darius leaned against the shed door.
“Darius!” Clint paused after he finished loading down a brawny man with one-by-ones that looked to be about three to four feet long. “You made good time. We’re just about to head out. There’s already a group on their way to block the road.”
Still unsure exactly what was going on, although he suspected an environmental protest of some sort, Darius straightened and asked, “What can I do?”
Clint gestured to a stack of chloroplast. “Grab some of those and get them to the truck. We’ll get them painted when we get there. We weren’t exactly ready for them to move this quickly.”
“Okay.” Darius grabbed an armload of the corrugated plastic that was already cut to sign-size. Clint had at least had time to get that much done. But Clint was part of a much larger group in the Pacific Northwest who were determined to save the environment at any cost. With everyone helping, it only took them a couple more minutes until they had everything loaded and the people were piling into their vehicles and roaring down Clint’s driveway.
“So, what’s the plan?” Darius asked from the passenger seat of Clint’s beat-up old Ford.
Clint shrugged his narrow shoulders. In the proper light, Clint appeared more fae than Darius did, even though there was no fae blood in him. “What can you do to protect the trees?”
Darius frowned. If he was female, there was a lot more he could do. Sure, he could convince individual trees to toughen their bark to the point that a chainsaw wouldn’t be able to enter, but his mother and sisters would’ve been able to work their magic on a whole grove at one time. “The trick’s going to be staying ahead of the lumberjacks.” Darius hated admitting he was less than the females of his species.
“We’re hoping we can cause enough of a fuss they won’t be able to do any cutting.” Clint drummed on the steering wheel. “That’s why we’re trying to get people in place early this morning. If we can block their efforts, we can stop them cold. I just wish we could’ve found out about this clear-cutting operation earlier. We don’t need another shopping mall out here. We need the forest.”
Darius nodded. “You’re right there.” By their very nature, Dryads found themselves on the front lines of the fight to save the natural world, even if most humans didn’t know it. There were a lot of fae struggling to keep things the way they’d been for millions of years. Sometimes it felt as though they were fighting a losing battle. But they couldn’t just stop the struggle and let the humans have their way with the natural world. “I’ll get into the grove. The trees can alert me if any of the lumberjacks get through. Then I can see what I can do to stop them.”
Clint nodded as he pulled up to a line of vehicles parked by the side of the forest-service road. Just down the road from them, a large number of people stretched across the two-track, their arms interlinked. “There’s a couple other roads that lead into this section of the forest. Do you want to help me get the signs made and passed out, or are you gonna head into the forest?”
If there were more roads, Darius wanted to be in the forest as quickly as possible so he could get to know the trees and they’d be aware he was there to help them. “I’ll leave you to your signs. How long are we here for?”
“All day.” Clint got out of the truck and waved people over.
Darius followed his lead. “I’ll find you later.” He walked away from the dirt road and let the forest close in on him. With each step he took, Darius spread his senses out so he could get a feel for the natural world around him.