The bear was smiling at Flame’s mate, and the dragon in him made the fight a bit more real than he had intended. When he hit the door, he stole the shifters’ attention from her. They should not look at her with desire. She was his. Nightshade was treasure.
“There you are Nightshade, I thought I had lost you there for a minute.” He slurred his words and stumbled a bit. His adversaries immediately assumed he was drunk, and they turned to face him.
“Go away, Flame. You have had too much to drink.”
The little imp was playing along with him. He would have grinned at her if it would not have given him away to the other men. God, he loved her. She was more perfect than he could have ever imagined. He stumbled closer to her.
“I’m sorry, Nightshade. Please forgive me. I swear I can be good.” He slurred the words as he begged her. She looked at the other men around her as if she were helpless to deal with Flame. Nightshade was too good at this game.
The bear took the bait first. “Do you need help getting rid of this fool, ma’am?”
The bear made her the offer. The wolves nodded agreement with the bear’s sentiment. She nodded and looked away from them. She had all three of them at once. Damn, even her power was sexy.
“Don’t run from me Nightshade. I need you.” Flame told her. That was easy. It was true. He did not have to act it.
“She asked you to go away. I think you better leave her alone.” The bear spoke to Flame. The shifters thought it would be easy. They had no idea he was a dragon.
“Mister you need to move away from my lady before you regret it.”
Flame’s words had a harder edge to them than he had intended. Nightshade was his. The dragon inside did not want these men looking at her with desire. She was his mate. Flame was having a harder time keeping up his pretend drunkenness as his adrenaline spiked up in anticipation of the fight. He stepped slowly forward again trying to appear drunkenly wary. He stared the bear in the eye. The challenge was extended.
HEA and No cheating!
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This is the seventh book in a series. It is a stand alone book, but would be even better if read inside the series itself. I wrote this one to tell the story of a dragon who was the good guy even if he liked a great party a bit much. Like a few friends of mine, he had suffered and been treated unfairly. He needed to finally get something good. The vampire struggled with her newfound unwanted immortality and needed the dragon's help to fix the issues in her life caused by being turned. We have all met that couple who seems so wrong but have the perfect relationship. This is how that might happen if there was magic and the two were immortal.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
That's not an easy question. I mean Flame is a dragon. His full backstory is not in Draoithe: The Dark Gift because he does not actually know it all. He will find out in a future book that has not been fully edited Draoithe: The Past in the Present. But the names of fire breathing dragons should be fire oriented, right. Nightshade of course is a beautiful dancer whose goal in life was to tour the world and perform on stage. Her dreams got stripped away by three unscrupulous types. And really, tell me the idea of a woman named Nightshade is just too sexy, especially if she happens to be a vampire.
When he blinked, he was standing in a clearing in the forest watching two men leading Nightshade away from him. One on either side of her holding each of her arms was a man intent on dragging a meek vampire along, away from him. They had their hands on his treasure. The only thing in the world that had ever truly mattered to him was in the process of being stolen from him. The world turned red at that moment.
Kallik had fallen to his knees. Dragons were hard to transport. He would need to thank Kallik later. The fight would not last long. He stepped up to the closest man and tapped him on the shoulder. When the man turned, his face met Flame’s fist. He was short several teeth and had a broken jaw as he fell to the ground.
The second man let go of Nightshade. Flame grabbed her and shoved her behind him away from both of her assailants toward a kneeling disoriented Kallik. Flame kicked the man on the ground farther away from Nightshade as he prepared to deal with her second attacker. He hissed when Kallik grabbed Nightshade and winked out of the glade.
Flame did not like her to be away from himself. He could not protect her if she was far from him. He knew Kallik was protecting her, but the dragon in him wanted his mate close so he could claim her. She had his blood. It made him edgy and irritable. Her attackers gave him an outlet for some of that frustration.
The fight with the second man ended too fast for him to let all of his anger go. Both of those fools were quickly turned and made dragonsworn for Nightshade. As soon as their oaths died away, he ordered them to follow him. If they failed to keep up, the sun would take them.
He did not bother with undressing. Flame shifted and left his tattered clothing behind as he ran. His dragon was faster and more powerful than his human form. Flame was running through the forest straight back to his mate. Her safety was all that mattered to him.
He had taken a huge risk trusting Kallik. If Flame had misjudged the dreamwalker, a lot of people were going to die. No one would ever take her from him. He would never allow her to be treated as Clara and Joselle had been. If he was walking into the Netherworld, he would be taking half of Draoithe with him.
The sliding glass door was closed. She was inside. He could smell her lavender scent. She was frightened. He did not slow down. He let his shoulder hit the door at a dead run, and he slid through into the dining room as the glass shattered around him. The table and chairs crashed to either side as his dragon pushed into the house and moved toward where she was in the living room.
Kallik had stayed with her in the public space of the house. He was backing away from her as Flame moved toward her. Hannah had never seen him as a dragon before, but she ran straight to him and hugged his neck. He let the flames trace him back to human as he embraced his greatest treasure. Relief at seeing her safe washed over him.
Kallik caught his eye and nodded before he winked out of the house. Ash and Smoke both rounded the corner into the living room trying to understand what was going on.
“What the hell is this?” Ash asked.
Flame looked up at his brother, and then down at Hannah. The world was right again. His knuckles were bloodied and bruised. His charisma had always lent him charm. He had lost it for a long time, but perhaps his den lasair vampire had given it back to him. He smirked as he answered Ash.
“It looks like a beautiful vampire holding her naked dragon in the living room to me.” Flame grinned. Relief flooded through him. Nightshade was safe. Smoke laughed.
“I meant the door. Would you mind explaining that?” Ash asked obviously aggravated. The man never could take a joke, and really, was it not obvious?
“My dragon has difficulty opening doors Ash, but I made it through to Hannah. Dragon scales don’t scuff with a little broken glass. Relax, I will pay to have it repaired.” Flame told his oldest brother. He waved his brothers off.
Two rather out of breath men stepped through the broken door. Ash just shook his head. Really the Lord of Dragons had been cleaning up after the others for centuries. He should not be so surprised.
“Clean up the mess and be quick about it, or the sun will take you. When you finish, report to my room. You can protect your mistress while she sleeps.” Flame gave the orders to the two servants.
“Where the hell did these two come from?” Smoke asked.
“Nightshade, are you okay?” Flame was tired of answering stupid questions. Flame reported to Ash, not Smoke, and he was still not happy with Smoke after finding him standing over a terrified Nightshade earlier. Nightshade nodded against his chest.
“Will you sleep?” Flame asked her. She nodded again.
“Smoke, Ash, if you will excuse me. I need to take care of Nightshade, then I think a shower and some clothes are in order. I will explain the rest after that.” Nightshade was his mission. She mattered more. His brothers could wait.
Smoke grumbled something unintelligible and went back to his room. Good. He was in no mood to deal with the nosy bastard anyway.
Flame picked up his sleepy Valkyrie and carried her to his bed. He kicked the door closed behind him. His brothers really needed to mind their own damn business. He helped her change her clothes. When she was ready to sleep, Flame lay down next to her. He covered himself with a towel. He knew what would happen.
“Will you drink from me?” He asked her softly.
Her red tresses fell over his chest. He felt her breath at his throat then her fangs. The venom burned. Flame wanted to scream at the pain. He bit his tongue. Then she pulled the blood from him. There was nothing he could do to stop what happened next. When she bit him, his response was out of his control. He wanted her bite as much as she needed his blood.
Flame was not kidding himself that what he was doing was noble or self sacrificing. He was getting off on the bite from the vampire that he was madly, deeply in love with. He was not justifying his behavior to anyone else. He let the euphoria claim him, and he came long and hard. He wished it had been inside her, but it was too damn good to stop now.
When the sun called her to sleep, he felt the sickening withdrawal of her fangs. The wound closed, and then he regenerated with the dawn and the sexual energy. He covered her and gathered his clothes for the shower. He slipped out of the room with a towel around his waist. Flame stepped into the shower as soon as the bathroom door closed and let the steam erase some of his anger and stress.
When he was dressed appropriately, he walked out to the living room. Ash was there. Flame knew he would be waiting. He would have to deal with the mess. But Nightshade was safe in Flame's bed where she belonged. He could breathe again.
“She found out her only family was murdered, and she is the prime suspect in the investigation. She ran grief stricken into the woods. She was found by the two who serve her now. My king saw her in the dream and transported me to her. I handled her attackers whilst my king brought Nightshade back here to safety. My dragon sought its mate after the threat was eradicated. I admit that my blood was up from the fight and turning two men to dragonsworn who were foolish enough to touch the claimed treasure of a dragon. I apologize for the door and disturbing the peace of the house. I will pay for the repairs.” Flame made his report to the Lord of Dragons.
“Flame, are you okay?” Ash asked. His concern was sincere.
Ash was a good man, but he would not understand without a lengthy conversation and answers to far too many questions. It was Blaze that Flame wished to speak with. Ash was the Lord of Dragons. If he decided that Flame was breaking their rules, Flame would suffer for that. Flame had no real issue with paying the price for what he was doing, but Hannah needed him. She would fade if he were sent to the Netherworld now.
“I’m just tired. I have been sleeping on her schedule. I’m a bit overwound at the moment, and my mission weighs heavily on me. I fear losing her to the depression that grips her. She was turned without consent, lost her life’s work, lost her only family, and was tortured into submission by fools who had no idea and no care with the magic they used to damage her. Forgive me if I seem out of sorts. Tonight was a bit much, and the adrenaline has not faded.”
Flame poured himself a glass of cognac and carried it out through the broken door to the porch. He leaned against the railing, sipping his drink as he watched the sun rise. Ash finally took the hint and left him to his thoughts.
Flame needed sleep, but he had not lied about the adrenaline. More than that, he needed to reassess his thoughts on Kallik. Damn, if he did not want Kallik to be exactly what he appeared to be. The man had seemed honorable today. He even respected Flame’s claim to Hannah and warned him before he took her away from the fight.
He would see if Nightshade was up to visiting this evening. Mihaela might be able to help with the allure. Kallik had piqued Flame’s curiosity. If Kallik did have knowledge that Flame could use to help Nightshade, he should try to learn that. He would meet with the man tonight. He would see if his king were made of sterner stuff than his previous kings had been.
He finished off the cognac and went in search of lavender and sleep. He would give the names of the new servants to Fox, later. He wondered briefly how they had found her so quickly. It was as if they knew where she was.
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