Lost in his solitary life, dragon warrior Liam Holden avoids the woman he craves until she’s assigned as his exclusive battle partner…
Hi, Everyone, and welcome to FIRE DRAGON 1 Chapter One. Below, you’ll find the entire first chapter of FIRE DRAGON. For more about FIRE DRAGON, the first book of the Warrior Dragons of Dusane Series, go here!
Caris Roane ~ Passionate Warriors Often With Fangs…
A Paranormal Romance
Book 1 of the Warrior Dragons of Dusane Series
He wasn’t looking for love, then along came Emma…
Read more about FIRE DRAGON…
“Oh my God. I look like a stripper.” Emma stared at herself in the mirror. Her new uniform had arrived, and it was as though the tailor had lost his marbles.
Jane, her weapons mistress, shook her head as she looked her up and down. “Well, I must say, you’ve been hiding some serious assets.” She then chuckled.
“Would you stop. This is serious.” She turned to scowl at her friend who was clearly biting the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing again. “How am I going to fix this? I’m on call and I want my first battle assignment to be completely professional.”
Jane’s lips twitched. “Well, you do look like a pro.”
“That is so not funny.”
Turning back to the mirror, she stared at an abundance of cleavage, more than she even thought she had. Whatever mishap had occurred at the tailor’s, the cut of the bodice area of her uniform pushed her already full bosom up and out. Jane was right: She looked like a hooker. Or a stripper. Or both. Or whatever.
She kept shaking her head. Which of the famous dragon warriors would ever take her seriously if they saw her in this uniform?
She tried to pull the front plackets together, but the stiff black leather and silver metal bindings of her dragon-rider uniform made it impossible.
The cut was all wrong, pure and simple. “I went to a dozen fittings. How is this kind of mistake even possible?”
“Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds,” Jane suggested, though she compressed her lips even more.
Emma pivoted once more to face Jane. She was a blond, elf-like creature with enormous blue eyes who was ridiculously short to be serving on the Arranfar Defense Force. “Are you kidding me? I run ten miles a day and work out for another two. There has to be a mix-up. This can’t be my uniform.” She drew in a sharp breath as another thought occurred. “Unless, of course, it’s some kind of first-run hazing thing.”
“Oh, well. There ya go. Mystery solved. I’ll bet Logan did this. Your best friend can be a real pain in the ass.”
He was dragon warrior, one of the famous magnificent seven. But he had a mischievous streak about a mile wide.
The show of all those teeth told another part of the tale. “Not you, too?”
“Couldn’t help myself, not when there was a good chance Liam would get an eye-full and finally lose his renowned self-control where you’re concerned.”
Emma clamped down on her rising temper. Thoughts of Liam Holden, a Commander of the First-Tier Dragons, seeing her like this brought heat to her cheeks. It was the last thing she wanted.
But the deed was done, and she couldn’t exactly do anything about it right now, at least not where the perpetrators were concerned. She was on deck for her virgin run as a full-fledged dragon-rider. The minute the enemy showed up it was her turn to prove her worth in battle.
Still, she was pissed as hell.
She didn’t want Liam or the other amazing dragon warriors to see her as anything but professional.
She breathed hard through her nose, planted her hands on her hips and lifted her gaze to the ceiling. She counted backward starting at a million.
“Oh, lighten up. You always made too much of Liam’s smash-and-dash. Besides, I’ve suspected the reason he didn’t ask for a second date was because he felt too much. Logan thinks so, too. The dragon wanted you bad. He still does.” She lifted her nose and sniffed in that superior manner of hers.
Emma tried not to think about it. She’d had one too many old-fashioneds that fateful night and had slept with a dragon she’d been craving for at least a decade. She’d given in to desire and had paid for it ever since.
Oh, God, Liam.
She still wanted him, but he was not hers to have. He’d sworn off serious relationships for almost two decades. The man had a broken heart and he’d become the king of one-night stands.
She sighed. She’d trained for two years and had over a thousand hours in the air with training-dragons, all in preparation for this day. But this would be her first battle run serving as a dragon-rider to a seasoned warrior. “All I can say is thank God Liam’s on caravan duty. The last thing I want is for him to be my first.”
“Yeah, that would have been the banana’s turd. But isn’t his caravan due in? Won’t he be on call?”
“He shouldn’t be. It’s hard on even the best of the best to go into battle after caravan duty.” Because of the fierce winds of Dusane, the caravans were the main transport around the planet. Powerful dragons, like Liam and Logan, led the caravans and wrapped them in their extraordinary energy to protect them against the ravages of the winds.
“There’s one more thing,” Jane said. “I just heard there’s a wind coming from the northeast.”
Emma’s heart fired off a few quick beats. “Any sign of the Magi yet?” The terrible Magi dragons of the northeast Province of Magiffe were a scourge to the entire Continent of Arranfar. They never ceased battling for control of their world.
Emma didn’t know how this could get worse.
Jane looked her up and down then whistled. “Well, despite the front part, this uniform fits you like a glove.
Emma glanced around the small apartment that had been assigned to her. HQ made sure each of its warriors and dragon-riders had a place near the launch area to prepare for battle as needed. She didn’t use the apartment very much since her cave dwelling was just up the tall, lakeside cliff. “I can fix this myself if we’ve got any duct tape laying around.”
“Like hell you’ll do anything of the sort. I’ll get you a half-cape which you can lose the moment you mount. No one will notice your boobs once you’re in the air.”
That much would be true since the dragon was the real show. Even as a rider, and critical to help the dragon see through a sandstorm during battle, the dragon was what everyone watched, including herself.
A voice boomed over the loudspeaker. “Caravan landing in two minutes.”
The words were like magic. Emma’s heartrate shot into the stratosphere. There was nothing like watching a caravan of two-hundred massive dragons coming into port, brought in by one of the magnificent seven or those dragons close to their level of power and expertise. The four-mile long train was a thing of beauty.
She forgot about her exposed state, raced from her apartment, then took off on a dead run to the elevators. Jane was close on her heels. She ignored the stares from chance bystanders.
She supposed it would be all over the building before the sun dropped below the horizon that her rack had been on display. But right now she didn’t care.
A caravan was coming in.
The heavily reinforced glass-and-stone building could withstand winds at two-hundred miles an hour and offered the best view of the dragon caravans as they landed on the mesa above the lake and along the sloped path that led to the ground level of the administrative building. HQ was perched on the southern-most shores of Blue Lake and with fifty floors, towered above the plateau. HQ was a massive complex that served over two-thousand personnel.
The elevator soared and her heart pounded in her ears. She’d been on the planet eighty-three years, yet she never tired of watching the caravans land.
The lead caravan driver made transport across their planet possible since they kept the debilitating winds from doing damage. Liam was one of just a few dozen dragons who could make the long runs and carve the way forward through the continent of Arranfar.
With Jane on her heels, they reached the viewing deck at the top of HQ just in time. She planted her hands on the broad stone wall. As she watched Liam’s sleek black dragon form glide down and down, the next dragon and the next formed a seamless line behind him. That was the gift Liam and dragons like him had, to create a flow of energy that covered miles in his wake and protected the entire fleet.
Each dragon, except for several security units and the lead, was laden with goods. They were arriving from a distant port in the far south, the land of vampires and those dragons and humans who loved them.
Vampires were the largest group of specialty humans but not the only ones. Over the millennia, Dusane had become a gathering place for all kinds of creatures. There were several packs of wolf-shifters living on the northeastern continent of Emvo and a fae contingent on the great continental island of Doshthor. The unique blend of human and any of a variety of preternatural DNA, had also given each species the ability to move from Earth to Dusane though a long-established wormhole with relative ease. Better still, traveling to Earth was always accomplished in real-time. No lost or gained time had ever been reported.
The landing base was several miles long to accommodate the size of the caravan. On the north side of the strip, all kinds of transport, including carts, trucks imported from Earth, even braying donkeys with side baskets, queued up at assigned stations to collect their goods.
Bringing caravans safely through their land of winds was an astonishing achievement every time.
From where she stood, Liam was two hundred feet away. He touched down on the angled portion of the landing field, not far from the lake. Two walls of granite cliff protected him and the first few dragons.
He shook his massive head and roared. She knew why. Before a shift back to human form, he had to be free of as much stress as possible or the change could be painful.
Two attendants crossed in his direction ready to support him. Each carried towels, water, even fruit. The men who led the caravans were put through a tremendous use of energy with each flight. They were revered in Arranfar for their stamina and sheer physical power.
Above all, they kept the economy of the planet flowing by bringing the caravans safely through the winds.
In his dragon form, Liam was incredible with black scales that also showed a glimmer of red iridescence, an indication he was a fire dragon. He had rows of spiked silver horns jutting down the length of his tail and forming a double row along the upper part of his neck and the top of his head.
He roared into the heavens once more and released a spray of fire that spread out toward Blue Lake almost thirty feet into the air. Any boats on the water were well away from the landing area.
The nearby attendants backed up a few more yards.
“What a man,” Jane cooed.
“He is that.” Emma wouldn’t deny it. She just hated that she’d been a notch on his bedpost. She hated even more that her desire for him hadn’t dimmed even the smallest, freaking jot.
She straightened her shoulders. Well, too bad. She wasn’t the first woman to make a fool of herself for a handsome face and the body of a god.
As he shifted out of his dragon form, and landed on the pavement on two booted feet, he stumbled and almost fell. He wore his black flight uniform, something he was able to keep intact with most shifts. Sometimes, when exhausted, the suit got lost in the whirlwind of transforming from dragon to man. Not today.
The attendants went to him immediately.
One caught him under his right arm and lifted him from his kneeling position. Emma had heard the crosswinds had been a real bitch this time around. Liam had to be worn out.
When he could stand on his own, he took a towel and wiped his face and neck. She knew the smell he would carry right now, the carbon-burned odor that somehow had always pleased her. It was a cross between seawater-soaked driftwood and grilling charcoal. She loved it.
As he drank his water, Jane elbowed her. “I’ve always wanted to know…how was he, in bed I mean?”
Emma shook her head and chuckled. “Let’s see. That makes fifty-seven times you’ve asked and what do you think my answer will be?”
Jane sighed. “Take pity on me. I’ve never been with one of the magnificent seven.”
They were that, the seven great dragons that served out of Blue Lake South. Magnificent as hell.
As Liam and his team disappeared into the hangar on the ground floor, Emma took her friend by the shoulders and pivoted her in the direction of the elevators. “Just find me that cape and get me ready for my first run.”
~ ~ ~
Liam walked between the two support staff and tried to ignore the cheers of those staff that lined the hall off the hangar. He wished they wouldn’t applaud him like they did. He was just doing his job.
He was dead tired and only wanted three things. Four, really. A steak almost raw but charred just right. A bucket of beer. A woman. Then sleep for a week.
His bones rattled from the shift and from being in the air and forging a path through the crosswinds for hours on end. His eyes burned and his tailbone felt like it was seriously out of whack. He hurt.
He changed his mind. He wanted five things. The original four plus a massage, a deep gorgeous massage by the lovely and very strong Batya.
He kept his feet moving forward as he headed to the showers.
He was desperate for heat on the back of his shoulders as well as the top of his ass. The staffer on his right asked if he wanted a porterhouse rare.
“Of course, sir. A bucket, as I recall from your last order.”
At that, Liam’s lips quirked. “Good man.”
They rounded a corner and more admins lined the halls, applauding another successful caravan run. He barely saw any of them, except two or three women who were wearing close to nothing. He slid his gaze over these few, then dismissed them. He knew exactly what they were offering, and it wasn’t just a roll in the hay. A woman at work wanted a husband and a family, things he couldn’t deliver. He preferred to hit the bars where the women weren’t thinking anything beyond a quick trip to heaven and back.
He’d made one mistake a year ago with a rider trainee. He’d been more than drunk when he’d followed her into her cave apartment and bedded her.
For some reason, whenever he thought of Emma Brier, he smelled lilacs. Her perfume had intoxicated him.
But she wasn’t what he needed in his life.
Just before he made his left to head to his apartment, he caught sight of a familiar, stoic, massive figure, all in black, at the end of the hall, dead on.
Santos oversaw the dragon caravans, as well as the Arranfar Defense Force at Blue Lake South.
He had a bad feeling as Miguel slowly lifted his arm and waved him forward.
At almost the same moment, the alarms sounded.
The resulting scurry of bodies heading back into their offices confirmed what he suspected: His day’s work wasn’t over.
Yet he wasn’t surprised. Just before he’d landed, he’d caught a whiff in his broad dragon nostrils of the unique smell of red sand which often came out of the northeast and Magi country.
Anything from the northeast could spell disaster.
As tired as he was, he’d ignored it until now. Then he remembered that the on-call dragons had been sent elsewhere. Logan had been summoned west and Noah to the north. If there was a looming battle, like he suspected, he’d be the one who would have to go out. But damn he was tired.
A long string of expletives moved through his head like knives pitched one after the other.
He gestured to the staffer on his right indicating he would speak with his boss.
Both delegates slowed then stopped. Unless ordered, they wisely stayed out of Santos’s way. He didn’t blame them. Miguel Santos ran a tight ship and didn’t hesitate dressing down any of his staff for even the smallest infraction.
Liam had known Miguel for decades. Before Santos had taken over as Field Marshall of the ADF at this end of the lake, he’d been a lead caravan driver and warrior. He’d fought his battles against the Magi and driven caravans through horrendous winds that topped the higher reaches of the two-hundred mph range. The man was a legend.
By the time he reached the Field Marshall’s massive office, and saw the drawn look on Santos’s face, Liam knew the score. “How long have we got before they make lake-fall?”
“Fifteen minutes, give or take. And I’m sorry to say, but you’ve got a virgin on this one. She’s well-trained. I’ve seen her in action. She’ll serve you well.”
“Fine. I’ll be ready.” What else could he say? He just wished his tailbone didn’t feel like it had fragmented and was slicing him up every which way.
He wondered suddenly if the rider would be Emma. He knew she’d graduated with about all the honors a rider could receive. He also knew she was now on the rotation.
But what were the odds he’d be her first?
~ ~ ~
By the time the alarms sounded, Emma was already back at her HQ apartment waiting for Jane to locate the cape. She arrived a few minutes later her complexion high.
“You won’t believe who’s on deck.” She was empty-handed as she crossed the room to the closet. “Liam.”
“That’s not possible. He just got back from a caravan run. It’ll be too much for him.”
“I know. But I checked with scheduling and all the other lead dragons are out.” Jane opened the closet door and began rooting around.
“I thought both Logan and Noah were on call.”
Bent over, Jane glanced at Emma over her shoulder. “Santos had to send each of them out. Logan headed west about three hours ago and I don’t know where Noah is.”
“Haven’t you found the cape yet?”
Jane went back to her hunting expedition and a few seconds later called out. “Got it.”
She returned with a hideous red thing that tied around the neck. She shook it out several times.
“You’re kidding. It has ruffles. What if Santos finds me wearing this? He’ll have my head. You know how he is about uniforms, about everything really.”
“It’s the best I’ve got.”
Emma didn’t really have a choice. She slid it on then groaned at how she looked. “Give me a basket and I’m Little Red Riding Hood.”
Jane’s lips twisted into a grimace.
Emma glanced at her. “What?”
“Do you know what I’ve always suspected about you? That you have no idea how pretty you are. Because I swear you look like a princess in that thing.”
Emma lifted a brow. “I’m a warrior.”
“A warrior-princess, a dragon-goddess divine.”
Emma rolled her eyes. “With a red ruffled flounce around her shoulders. I look ridiculous.”
“At least it’s hiding your boobs.”
“You’re right and that’s all that matters. I mean what are the chances Santos will even see me.”
The alarm still sounded, though it had fallen to a diminished level to keep everyone alert but not freaked out.
The com on her shoulder sounded. She pressed the device. “Emma here.”
“Santos wants you. In his office. Now.”
She glanced at Jane and mouthed the word ‘seriously’.
Aloud, she said, “On my way.” She could hear the nearly inaudible ding that meant the communication had ended. Not everyone could hear it. She could.
As she moved toward the door, Jane caught her arm. When Emma stopped and met her gaze, there were tears in Jane’s eyes. Next to Logan, Jane was her closest friend. “You’ve done your work. Congratulations and ride that dragon hard.”
Emma forgot about the uniform mishap or the likelihood Liam would be her partner. She allowed herself this moment. She was a dragon-rider and had one of the top graduating scores of all time. Her eyes suddenly burned as she gripped Jane’s forearms. “Couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Well, that is definitely true. You would have flunked out the first week.” She laughed.
Emma joined her.
With a squeeze of those arms, Emma pulled away and began the march all the way to Santos’s office.
Fortunately for her, the alarm was keeping everyone in their office so they couldn’t see her unfortunate cape. The moment the red sand began to blow, the entire organization scrambled to update all their information: Troop positions, delays from other territories, dragons that could be called in.
Her boots had a firm sound as she moved up the last hall to her boss’s office.
Field Marshal Miguel Santos was a good man and had at one time been a first-tier dragon in the ADF. He now served to coordinate just about everything at HQ including the training of dragon-riders. Still, it was unusual to be summoned to his office before a first battle-run.
The double doors were open, so she walked straight in. She didn’t see Liam at first, but she could smell him and for a moment, her knees almost buckled: burning driftwood and charcoal.
But that meant it was true and Liam would be her first.
She thought fate or the dragon gods or whatever were laughing hard right now.
Despite the unsettling nature of the situation, she was a warrior first and completely professional. Like hell she would let Liam’s attitudes toward her affect today’s performance.
She walked in with the confidence of her two years of brutal training. Santos had created the program thirty years ago and to this day had turned out some of the most notable dragon warriors and riders in modern history.
She was proud to have survived the intensive work and ready to begin her first tour of duty.
“Reporting as ordered.”
Santos was a tall man at six-seven. He had thick wavy black hair that he wore clipped short. Though he was over three hundred years old he appeared to be about thirty-five which was typical of their long lives.
He looked her up and down then scowled. “What the hell are you wearing, Rider?”
Emma felt her cheeks warm up, but she lifted her chin in response. “A hazing, sir. No time to make repairs. I’ll lose the cape during initial mount, if it’s all right with you.” She almost suggested he bring someone else in but thought the better of it. She didn’t want to give him any ideas. This was her first run and she meant to take it.
Over the course of her training, Emma had had very little contact with Santos. Yet, she could tell he was stressed much more than usual.
“Let’s see it, Rider. I want to know what I’m dealing with.”
Her cheeks grew hot. “I’d rather not, Sir.”
“Do as you’re ordered,” he snapped. Again, very much unlike Santos. What was going on?
She averted her gaze and untied the cape. She didn’t take it off completely but let him see the malfunction.
Liam had moved away from the window overlooking the landing area. Apparently, he wanted to know what had happened as well.
Emma didn’t meet his gaze.
For a long moment, she waited.
Liam said nothing but turned back to look out the window once more. In the distance, she heard the muffled sound of the lake churners starting up. During dust and sandstorms, they kept the particles from collecting on the surface of the water. When the layer of dust grew thick enough, it prevented oxygen from getting through and the fish died.
Santos slammed his hand down on the desk. “Do we actually need another seminar on sexual harassment around here? The last thing I need is for Davathorpe to send in a team so we can get properly educated. Again.”
Davathorpe was the capital of the entire continent of Arranfar and where the ruling Council performed its functions. Field Marshall Santos answered to his superiors in the large, northern city.
Emma spoke quickly. “You don’t need to do that. I know the source and I’ll deal with him later. It’s a stupid hazing, nothing more. But I think I should keep the cape on at least to the hangar.”
“You’ll get blasted for this in the ranks.”
She didn’t know how to communicate just how little she cared for gossip among her equals. But she couldn’t help but crack a small smile. She felt that inner part of her harden and grow stronger. “And I’ll deal with that as well.” She paused, then added, “Sir.”
At that, Santos met her gaze dead on then grew very still, dragon still. It was that place that all dragons had where they were close to disappearing from sight. It was even said that some could vanish and reappear at will. Maybe Santos was one of those. “You’ll do. Keep the cape, Rider.”
She tied it up quickly to cover her exposed cleavage. She also registered a warm sensation in the center of her heart. Santos had told she would do. It didn’t get better than that.
He gestured to Liam. “You know Commander Holden.”
She turned in his direction with a formal shift of her booted feet. “Of course. I look forward to working with you, Commander.”
He dipped his chin. His eyes were blood red from coming in from a long flight. He looked exhausted. “Dragon-rider Brier.”
He smelled…wonderful. Smoke, fire, man. A shiver went through her which she chose to ignore. She straightened her shoulders a little more.
Santos addressed her again. “The reason I called you in here before your flight is because I want you working directly with Liam for the next several weeks.”
“What?” Emma was stunned.
Liam finally entered the conversation as he addressed Santos. Apparently, this was news to him as well. “What the hell, Miguel. This isn’t right. This isn’t the way it’s done. You taught us that. It’s part of your core teaching. Constant rotations to keep everyone on their toes.”
Santos rounded his desk and crossed the room on a relatively slow tread to close the doors. The alarm still clanged softly in the distance.
When he headed back, he directed Liam to join Emma. She in turn met Liam’s hostile gaze as he moved in her direction. She didn’t take it personally. The man was beyond tired and she was no doubt the last thing he wanted to deal with: A woman he’d bedded and dumped a year ago.
She had trouble not smiling. She thought somehow it was a fitting punishment for the man since he hadn’t even had the courtesy to speak to her again. His manner of ignoring her after the fact, of often pointedly leaving a room she entered, had made her life hell. Didn’t he realize his behavior shouted that she’d made a nuisance of herself when she hadn’t? Gossip was rampant that she’d been stalking him.
Well, it all fell under the category of things she couldn’t control and now here was a new lovely wrench in the wheel of their non-relationship. But how the hell was she supposed to work with a man who barely acknowledged her existence?
~ ~ ~
Liam felt as though a series of rockets kept landing in Santos’s office and exploding one after the other.
First, it was Emma on her virgin run. How the hell had it happened that he’d be her first mount?
Then Santos had insisted she remove the cape. He wasn’t sure he’d ever forget the sight that followed.
Santos had stared at Emma’s cleavage.
Liam, laced heavily with exhaustion, had done nothing less and had found it difficult to do anything but.
What had swirled through his head had been a series of X-rated images of making love to the woman a year ago. He’d barely kept from throwing wood and finally tore his gaze away from her in an effort to keep his cock in order. He’d done a series of intricate algebraic formulas in his head as well. When that hadn’t worked, he’d pictured a stream of ice water flowing over his groin and shrinking his testicles to the size of walnuts. Finally, he’d calmed down.
He hadn’t been this close to Emma in a long time and he’d forgotten how beautiful she was, with long silky dark brown hair, dark eyes and a warm, peaches-and-cream complexion. He’d worked hard to forget her and what his time with her had been like.
But this last bit, about being assigned to work one-on-one with Emma seemed like an asteroid slamming into the room.
Santos’s nostrils flared. “I’m not going into it now, with either of you. I need you both to trust me and to do as ordered.”
Since he’d spoken with that tone in his voice, Liam pulled his shoulders back. “Yes, Sir.”
“Now go get me some Magi ass. I want them stunned so I can interrogate. As many as you can acquire. I’ll have teams ready in the lake for retrieval. Suffice it to say, our friendly neighbors to the northeast appear to be escalating their intention to take over the world.”
These last words, offered with no specifics, caught Liam’s attention. Coupled with the tension Santos carried in his gait, his posture and the angle of his neck, Liam knew something was building in Arranfar and it wasn’t good.
But their ranks in Blue Lake South, like several other ADF installations around Arranfar, weren’t privy to Intelligence reports or the goings on at the Council in Davathorpe.
“Can I count on you both?” Santos asked.
“Yes, Sir.” Emma spoke the words in unison with Liam.
Liam watched Emma turn sharply on her feet and move swiftly to the door. She drew it wide but held it for him, letting him pass into the hallway first. He moved through but said nothing to her as he launched into levitated flight.
Surprisingly, she caught up with him in two seconds flat then flew beside him in a way that matched his maneuvers. She’d been number one in her class, so he wasn’t surprised. He was just pissed as he hell that Santos was forcing them to pair up.
In addition, he was going into battle as tired as all hell and this was Emma’s first run.
More mental expletives.
There was also something else he couldn’t deny: He’d never been more attracted to Emma than he was right now wearing her absurd, but critically necessary cape, and levitating with a confidence that matched his own.
Yes, she was untried in battle. But he’d had lots of virgin riders throughout his long life and he’d learned the difference between those who would do well and those he wanted to buck off the moment they mounted.
Emma knew what she was doing.
Given his level of fatigue and that the regiment had no other options but for him to go out and face the enemy, he was grateful.
Pissed. But grateful.
He said nothing more to her as together they flew to the launch hangar. “I’ll be shifting and in flight within seconds. You ready, Commander Brier?”
He glanced at her and she grinned. “Hell, yeah, I am. Don’t hold back, Commander.”
“I won’t. I’ve also got a fatigue situation.”
“I know. You just brought in a two-hundred-dragon caravan. Perfect touch-down, by the way. Gorgeous.”
“Thank you.” He cleared his throat. He didn’t like praise and he definitely wasn’t used to hearing compliments from women like her. Yes, women of worth.
Mostly, his fellow dragon warriors were his solace. Women were transitory bed companions and never more than once. He’d given them up when his wife died eighteen years ago. She’d birthed a dragon and both she and their son had been dead within a few hours.
He’d blamed his genetics.
She’d begged him not to blame himself. She said she’d understood the risks.
But the end had been the same: A single funeral pyre bearing two bodies and one broken heart.
He’d been left alone to grieve.
He’d promised himself he’d never go through that again. Ever.
The moment he entered the hangar, his nostrils flared. “I can smell the red sand thick in the air.”
“That’s not good.”
He stood next to her as her weapons mistress, a petite blond named Jane, handed her a rifle and tranquilizer ammo. She also gave her a handgun.
With some fascination, Liam saw that Emma used her telekinetic ability to pin the rifle against her back and her pistol close to her left side. The weapons appeared as secure as if they had holsters. Again, he was impressed. Not every rider had telekinesis in her arsenal. She also clearly had full control, which meant hundreds of hours of practice no doubt during battle drills to make sure the weapons remained stuck to her body even while a dragon maneuvered in the air with rolls and flips.
Genetically, Emma was a combination of dragons and one of them was like his, a fire dragon. But she had a much larger percentage of human then he did. She would never be able to shift. Only about ten percent of the population of dragons could shift. Most of those went into the well-paid transport service of the caravans and other community-based operations like short, city-to-city flights.
Despite her skill-level, Emma wouldn’t be able to detect faint sand levels in the air or the smell of the coppery Magi dragons that the wind carried along with dust and sand.
He could smell the Magi now and because of it, his fatigue began to fall away like shedding thick, heavy scales.
Time to do battle once more.
The alarm shifted frequency and rose in volume. It began a staccato sequence that told him the full force of the windstorm had arrived at the eastern shores of their long, freshwater lake.
He reached for Emma telepathically, On three.
At your command. She dropped her cape. He averted his eyes.
One… He accessed the internal mechanism of his phenomenal shifting power and speed.
Two… He flipped the mental switch.
Three… Without a thought, he became fully dragon and filled a quarter of the enormous hangar.
At the exact same moment, he felt Emma land on the natural saddle of his upper neck in a perfectly executed maneuver. The pressure of her knees sent him flying from the hanger and into the air, straight out over the lake. Physically, they would operate as one creature, dragon and human together.
Her telepathic voice intruded. Weapons secure. Pistol with live ammo. Rifle with tranquilizers.
Emma had been on the list of upcoming virgin riders for the past several weeks. As he always did, he studied the stats of each one.
He’d been impressed with hers.
Santos had said she was special, but in what way he had no idea or why Santos would limit them to working together exclusively for several weeks.
As he flew into the encroaching storm, however, things took a bad turn.
Emma began the normal process of capturing his mind to form a bond that would give him the ability to see what she saw. Dragon-riders also had to have the unique second, clear, impenetrable eyelid that allowed them to bear almost any thickness of sand in a storm and still be able to see long distances. They were critical to the ADF’s ability to keep the Magi dragons from taking over the entire continent.
He’d had hundreds of different riders over the decades. He knew the process. He got it.
He had to surrender to Emma’s mind-capture.
He didn’t like it, but the union of minds coupled with the sight the riders possessed during dust and sandstorms, made them formidable partners to have in battling the powerful dragons from Magiffe Province.
Yet somehow, he resisted her attempts.
Why are you fighting me? Her stern voice, which should have brought him under submission, ignited a sudden, rebellious streak, something he couldn’t control.
He began to buck, though he didn’t know why. After all, he trusted Emma. So, what the hell was this about?
Whatever the reason, he wanted the woman off him now even if it meant he’d be blind once the windstorm arrived full force…
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of FIRE DRAGON! Here are the buy links!
Caris Roane ~ Passionate Warriors, Often With Fangs…
A Paranormal Romance
Book 1 of the Warrior Dragons of Dusane Series
He wasn’t looking for love, then along came Emma…
Read more about FIRE DRAGON…
And now, have a wonderful day and an even better night! For more information about my books, keep scrolling! Live the fang!
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Do you enjoy free books!?! All year, I’ll be giving away copies of my e-books through my newsletter. I also run subscriber-exclusive giveaways, so be sure to sign up on my home page in the right hand column where it says: Subscribe to Our Mailing List! Once you do, you’ll receive a welcome letter with a link to your free e-book! Enjoy and hugs, Caris Roane!
Be sure to look for your welcome letter which has the link to your free e-book!
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Most Recent Releases:
A TOUCH OF FLAME
A Paranormal Romance
Book 7 of the Flame Series
He never thought he’d find love again…
A wolf’s plan to become alpha gets derailed when his enemy — a beautiful fae — saves his life during a vicious rogue attack…
Read more about SAPPHIRE FLAME Including the entire first chapter…
A witch scarred him…
Warren couldn’t trust witches. One had tried to kill him with her poisoned spell. Though he survived, he was left badly disfigured and blind in one eye. When Kiara, a beautiful witch, begins to heal him, he finds himself craving her. But his prejudice against her kind runs deep. As an evil wizard attacks Savage Territory, can Warren set aside his prejudice, or will he lose his pack, and his territory, forever?
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A powerful alpha wolf. A gifted witch. Each haunted by death. Can passion drive them to an everlasting love? Or will the enemy forge a hopeless chasm?
‘The Graveyard was not the place Mark Braden thought he’d breathe his last. He was sure he’d die in the pine forest of Savage Territory, chasing a drug-runner and getting hit by a spray of bullets.
Instead, he’d been ambushed…
~ A Touch of Flame
A VAMPIRE’S EMBRACE
Having lost his entire family, Mastyr Rez vowed never to love again…
‘Rez drew closer and caught her softly pointed fae chin. “You buy shoes on the black market because it’s exciting and different. You can’t fool me, Holly. You’re a secret rebel.”’
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A VAMPIRE’S SOFT EMBRACE
Taking the vampire into the past, changed the future…
The man held her heart in his hand.
He had for the past five years.
Did he even have the smallest clue?
~ A Vampire’s Soft Embrace
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REVEALED: Rapture’s Edge 3, A Guardians of Ascension Novel #11
He’s a warrior deep in his bones, but all she ever wanted was peace…
As Duncan battles the dangerous death vampires at night, during the day he fights an even greater monster: He can’t believe he’s worthy of the woman he loves.
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Mastyr Vampire Stone wants to bond with Aralynn, his battle partner, until he learns she lives a double life as a woman he despises…
For hundreds of years, Stone has lived a solitary life, serving Tannisford Realm as he battles the deadly Invictus wraith-pairs with his Vampire Guard.
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More about Caris Roane and her books!!!
THE FLAME SERIES
Vampire Officer Connor of the Crescent Border Patrol tries to suppress his desire for Iris, a powerful witch. Because the woman possesses the ability to kill him with the tips of her fingers, how can he possibly fall in love with her? When a double homicide throws them together, he soon finds his deepest fantasies fulfilled as Iris succumbs to his seductions.
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Vampire Officer Vaughn of the Crescent Border Patrol gets called to a triple homicide in a deadly place called the Graveyard. When he finds that Emma Delacey has been summoned to the same crime scene, warning bells sound. He’s tried to suppress his desire for the beautiful witch knowing nothing good can come of a relationship in the alter world of Five Bridges.
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Brannick works with Juliet Tunney to help several human women escape the nightmare of Five Bridges. But something isn’t right. Juliet acts as though she knows him really well, yet he’s only met her once. Unless…the dreams he’s been having about her aren’t dreams at all.
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AMBER FLAME, Book #4 of the Flame Series
Fergus has been without an alpha-mate for three years, from the time his wife was murdered. He’s failed repeatedly to bond with the female wolves of the Gordion Pack. When he rescues a fae woman from a sex club, his need to bond with her goes into overdrive.
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On Christmas Eve, vampire Officer Kyle Drake has finally persuaded the shy wolf shifter, Verena, to go on a first date. His plans include a little mistletoe and a lot of seduction.
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THE GUARDIANS OF ASCENSION SERIES
(After Ascension, Burning Skies, Wings of Fire, Born of Ashes, Obsidian Flame and Gates of Rapture)
Includes Sub-Series: Dawn of Ascension and the Rapture’s Edge Saga
Warrior Gideon swore he would never see Elise Jordan again even though they’d been passionate lovers for two years. Her human nature couldn’t survive in his ascended vampire world; she would be vulnerable to attack on every front if he tried to continue a relationship with her.
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Fearing that his newly emerged grayle power will kill innocent ascenders, Samuel Daman struggles to keep his distance from beautiful Vela Stillwell. But the breh-hedden has struck and her light floral scent tears at his restraint.
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For the last few weeks, since Warrior Duncan professed his intention ‘to try’ to make his relationship with Rachel work, he’s failed on all fronts. But how can he explain that a serpent lives in his gut, poisoning him against her?
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For decades, Warrior Duncan has had an on-again, off-again relationship with a woman opposed to his warrior lifestyle. When Rachel shows up in his life again, he wants to keep his distance, but the infamous breh-hedden, the myth-that-isn’t-a myth, bears down on him keeping him in a perpetual caveman-like state.
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THE BLOOD ROSE SERIES – SHORT WORKS
The Blood Rose Tales, are much shorter stories than the “Embrace” books of the Blood Rose Series. Each ‘tale’ highlights one particular aspect of the world of the Nine Realms as well as a mastyr vampire in pursuit of his Blood Rose.
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Zephyr can’t keep away from Alesia and feels obligated to keep her safe. They’d broken up, unable to reconcile painfully opposing views on what should be done to the evil Invictus pairs. But when several wraith-pairs attack her diner, he flies her to safety, taking her home where they’re trapped together for the entire day.
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Yolen keeps his love life and his work life separate with one goal in mind – to protect Brianna. After seeing his best friend slaughtered by the enemy, he will do whatever it takes to ensure Brianna’s safety even if it means holding her at a distance.
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For weeks, Mastyr Willem, agent for the Realm Investigative Unit, has been tracking Charlotte Vail, a human college student at the local Grochaire University. He’s had a thing for Charlotte that he doesn’t quite understand.
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THE BLOOD ROSE SERIES – THE BOOKS
Enter a world of blood-starved mastyr vampires and the rare women who can satisfy their deepest needs…
How can he resist his blood rose…
Gerrod, mastyr vampire of the Merhaine Realm, never thought to have his blood-needs satisfied by a mere human. But Abigail is no ordinary woman.
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Ethan, mastyr vampire of the Bergisson Realm, never thought to find his blood rose, the one woman who could ease the blood-starvation he’s endured for decades. But Samantha carries a surprising level of power as her newly discovered fae heritage emerges..
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Quinlan must keep Grochaire Realm safe from the enemy at all costs. As ruler of his realm, a woman has no permanent place in his day-to-day existence. But when his lust takes him to Batya’s bedroom, he soon discovers he’s deep into a powerful experience that threatens to blow his life apart.
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Seth, Mastyr Vampire of Walvashorr Realm, craves Lorelei, his new bodyguard, but he has a hands-off policy with those under his command. However, the sexy glint in her eye, as well as her wolf-shifter ways, keeps him in a fevered state.
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Mastyr Vampire Jude has kept his distance from all women because he lost his wife and daughter to an enemy attack a hundred years ago. He won’t go through that kind of loss again. And he won’t jeopardize another woman’s life while the deadly Invictus wraith-pairs still pose a threat in the Nine Realms.
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Mastyr Vampire Malik has only one goal: to serve the realm he loves. Battling both the dreaded Invictus wraith-pairs and an element in Ashleaf Realm that wants all innocent wraiths dead, Malik can’t afford to get distracted. But Willow has already become an obsession as he lusts for the powerful fae whose blood he craves.
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Mastyr Vampire Zane didn’t want another woman in his life not after the dreaded Invictus killed his wife five years ago. He serves Swanicott Realm, the land he rules, and doesn’t want anything to interfere with his war against the enemy.
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Mastyr Vampire Ian never wanted to see Regan again. He blamed her for the massacre at Raven’s Overlook, an attack that killed his sister and her children. He’s convinced Regan enthralled him, using her extensive fae powers to keep him by her side. If he’d been in his realm that night, he could have saved 200 people.
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Mastyr Vampire Griffin hates his enslavement in Margetta’s fortress. He sought death a thousand times because of it, but was denied when the Ancient Fae brought him back repeatedly, forcing him to train her evil army. When a beautiful fae-slave, Sandra, tells him to live, he begins to believe his life could have more meaning…
Caris Roane is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-nine paranormal romance books. Writing as Valerie King, she has published fifty novels and novellas in Regency Romance. Caris lives in Phoenix, Arizona, loves gardening, enjoys the birds and lizards in her yard, but encourages the scorpions to inhabit elsewhere! Her motto: Live the Fang!
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