The Dragon Lord

( 35 )

Overview

Raina had never been employed as a 'domestic', but she was gung ho to try anything once, however unnerving and 'strange' she found the occupants of the remote island estate. Foreigners, she thought, with strange eyes, unfamiliar ways, and an even more alien language ... Very alien. As unnerving as she found the dark, devastatingly handsome, and infinitely mysterious Simon Draken, however, Raina also found him so compelling, so magnetic she could no more resist him than she could will her heart to cease to beat. ...
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Overview

Raina had never been employed as a 'domestic', but she was gung ho to try anything once, however unnerving and 'strange' she found the occupants of the remote island estate. Foreigners, she thought, with strange eyes, unfamiliar ways, and an even more alien language ... Very alien. As unnerving as she found the dark, devastatingly handsome, and infinitely mysterious Simon Draken, however, Raina also found him so compelling, so magnetic she could no more resist him than she could will her heart to cease to beat. Rating: Carnal--adult language and situations, multiple sexual partners
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781479214198
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication date: 8/29/2012
  • Pages: 662
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.66 (d)

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Chapter One

An ambiguous mixture of emotions ran along the periphery of Raina Willows' mind as she carefully polished a three foot segment of the dark mahogany balustrade. Narrowing her eyes, she studied the section critically. The light powdering of dust she'd been stirring around, she saw, had collected in a groove on the bottom side of the railing. Settling her rump on one of the stairs, she speared the polishing cloth with the nail on her index finger and ran it back and forth along the decorative furrow until she'd removed the pale line and then focused on the intricate carving that supported the balustrade.

It was archaic, Raina decided, but she still wasn't altogether certain of how she felt about it. Vaguely resentful, she supposed, maybe a little threatened.

Threatened might be a little strong, she amended, lifting her head briefly to flick a gaze around the vast foyer of the mansion, but something like that.

From the moment she'd first seen the place, from the outside, the fanciful notion had swept over her that she was walking onto a movie set for a filming of a vampire flick or a ghost story. The gothic mansion and its setting had the sort of theatrical feel to it that gave her a mild case of the willies even before she'd set foot inside, and the interior of the place was even more gothic--heavy crushed velvet draperies on all of the tall windows, heavily carved furniture, dark mahogany moldings everywhere.

She wasn't sure why she'd worked so hard to get the job.

Aside from the fact that she desperately needed work, that is.

Cleaning lady wasn't exactly the sort of thing one could put on a resume to get a leg up intoday's world. She'd gone after the job because she'd thought it would be a cinch to get it and she'd been beat out by the competition on every other job she'd tried for over the past couple of months. Immediate needs had finally overrode the desirability of career building.

She'd felt like a peon, though, from the first moment she'd been interviewed, and that, at least, was no exaggeration. The housekeeper had looked like a character out of an old horror/vampire flick, not quite medieval but damned close in her severe, mid-calf length black dress, her gray hair slicked back and knotted at the back of her head in a style that looked like something out of the eighteen hundreds.

Raina had known immediately that she'd fucked up when she'd shown up for the interview in jeans and a knit top, be they ever so neat. The housekeeper, Mrs. Higgenbottom, had looked her over as if she smelled something that stank--like shit.

It was menial work she was applying for, though. How the hell was she supposed to guess they'd expect her to dress up just to crawl around on her hands knees to clean? She'd figured she should wear work clothes. She'd worn her best jeans and a neat, almost new, conservative knit top.

It had been obvious immediately that she'd figured wrong. The housekeeper, she strongly suspected, would've pitched her out on her ass right then and there, without an interview, except for Mr. Smith. The woman's face had looked as if it was about to crack wide open with outraged contempt--that Raina had dared to show herself like she was--when she'd looked up and met Mr. Smith's gaze. Raina hadn't noticed a single emotion ripple across the man's face and yet after that exchange of gazes, the housekeeper had settled and started the interview.

What was up with that, anyway?

So far, she'd met--not been introduced to, but had them pointed out to her--Mr. Smith, Mr. Jones, Mr. Black, Mr. Green, and Mr. White.

No way in hell was she believing that was their real names.

They were like--a security detail of some kind, reminded her of glimpses she'd had of the secret service men that surrounded the President--they were that fucking scary! Maybe a little more scary.

Except for the detail of slight variations in hair coloring, they almost looked like a matched set of bookends--all of them were at least six foot tall and built like bouncers on steroids. All of them wore suits and dark glasses. All of them had hard angular, strangely exotic faces and looked as if their faces might crack if they ever used any of their facial muscles for anything approaching a smile. They all had unfashionably long hair, which was smoothed back on their heads and tied at the base of their skulls into a 'ponytail' that should've made them look ridiculous but somehow didn't--probably because they practically dripped testosterone.

Like the housekeeper, they all wore black, except their suits weren't throwbacks in style like the housekeeper's dress--or dresses. Either the woman wore the same dress every day or she had a closet full of the identical style. It was Raina's third day on the job and she'd yet to see the woman wearing anything that looked the least bit different from the dress she'd worn the day Raina had come to interview a week earlier.

She had yet to see the mysterious Mr. Simon Draken, her actual employer, but, as curious as she was about the man, she actually dreaded the possibility of running in to him.

The housekeeper, Mrs. Higgenbottom, had spent most of her first day on the job telling her what was expected of her and laying down the 'rules of the house'.

She was a servant, not to be seen or heard--at all--which was where the archaic attitude came in. Mr. Draken was a busy man and rarely left the west wing, where his 'suite' lay so she was assured an encounter wasn't likely, but if she happened to be in an area of the house when he did pass through, she was to try to make herself invisible and never to look directly at the man.

Archaic!

It made her uneasy, though. Maybe she wasn't supposed to look at the guy because she was a servant and dirt beneath his feet, and maybe there was some kind of dark and creepy reason she wasn't supposed to look at him.

It was a flaw in her personality, she supposed, that aside from engendering a good deal of resentment in her, the restrictions had also given rise to a wealth of curiosity she might not have felt at all if Mrs. Higgenbottom hadn't been so adamant that she was forbidden even to look at the man. Her active imagination had instantly began to conjure speculative images.

The mansion almost looked like it could've been from the Dark Ages, in style anyway. Except for the style of the architecture, it didn't look old, but the house didn't look new either, mostly because she couldn't imagine the craftsmanship evident in the place having been mass produced or even handcrafted by modern day millworkers.

So she figured he must be old, especially with his archaic expectations of his household staff.

He was obviously filthy rich, too. Even if this estate had been handed down to him, she couldn't imagine a younger man wanting to live in a place like this--single, she thought. There'd been no mention of a Mrs. Draken.

The fact that she'd been forbidden to look at him made her think he was deformed or disfigured in some way.

Maybe not.

The security detail that guarded the place as if it was Fort Knox suggested he might be someone who'd, at least at one time, been famous, maybe a political dignitary or something.

Or maybe not. She supposed it could've just been his wealth.

Shaking the thoughts off, she focused both her mind and her gaze on her work for a moment, examining it carefully. She didn't want to get fired when she hadn't even collected her first paycheck and Mrs. Bitch, old as the crow was, had the eyes of a fucking eagle. If there was so much as a speck of dust or a smudged fingerprint, the old bat would make her start over from the beginning.

She'd been trying to convince herself this was just the 'new girl' shake down, typical of most jobs where the boss led you around by the short hairs and cracked the whip over your head until they were certain you'd been properly broken in and cowed. If she could just make it through the initiation phase, it would be smooth sailing after that.

The intricate carving of dragons and vines and strange, exotic flowers was beautiful, she supposed. She'd thought so before she was told to clean and polish the damned thing anyway. All the tiny crevices and grooves collected dust, though, and a cleaning rag and polish just didn't get it insofar as removing the dust in the minute fissures.

Unconsciously rolling the kinks out of her shoulders and back, she glanced surreptitiously around the foyer again. Seeing no sign of Ms. Hatchet-face, Raina lifted her head for a more thorough search. All the doors along the foyer within her view were firmly closed and after a moment, she slipped the toothbrush out of her jeans pocket.

The woman would probably shit a squealing worm a mile long if she caught her using a toothbrush, which was why Raina didn't intend to get caught. She also didn't intend to spend the entire day cleaning the fucking balustrade that wound up both sides of the foyer in a grand, horse shoe shaped curve.

Draping her cleaning rag over the handle of the toothbrush, she dipped the soft bristles in the cleaning solution and made short work of the balustrade support, darting an occasional guilty glance around to make certain she wasn't caught at it. When she'd finished, she used another rag to wipe off the excess cleaning solution and then stood up and leaned over the balustrade to clean the outside.

Somewhere in the rounds of balancing and cleaning and the need to finish the task quickly, she became so focused on what she was doing that she not only forgot to keep a look out for her nemesis, the housekeeper, but she also didn't pay any attention to the march of many feet on the upstairs landing until they slowed and finally stopped.

It was the cessation of the sound that finally penetrated her absorption. Instinctively, she glanced up and froze as she met the gaze of the man standing at the top of the stairs.

His eyes were unlike any she'd ever seen--on any human, or animal for that matter. Even with the distance separating them the color--a strange gold flecked with orange-rust--seemed to jump out at her. The black pupils didn't look 'normal' either. Instead of round, as they should've been, they were elongated, almost diamond shaped.

It wasn't the eyes, though, that caused her such a jolt. It wasn't anything her eyes were registering, because she wasn't actually aware of noting and cataloguing his physical attributes at that suspended moment in time. She wasn't the sort of person who went around talking or thinking in terms of 'auras' and yet she'd felt his even before she looked up, an almost electrified charge in the air that had already been crawling over her and prickling her skin even before she looked up. Once she did look up and met his gaze, she was enveloped in something like a force-field that was ten times stronger than that first awareness, a powerful, unidentifiable 'something' that seemed to suspend her breath in her chest and her heart and then jumpstart both with an electric current that made her heart take off like a runaway freight train.

He seemed almost as frozen as she was, though she was quite sure, later when she could think at all, that it wasn't for the same reason or anything approaching it.

For her, the closest she could come to describing her feelings later was that she was awestruck, as if she'd found herself in the presence of some deity, or a being with god-like powers--or a sex god of the silver screen.

After a long, long moment, while her heart hung suspended in her chest, and the air she'd sucked into her lungs and held slowly depleted of oxygen and began to bleed a dizzying current of carbon monoxide into her feeble brain, he lifted a pair of sunglasses and settled them over his eyes. The movement, or the sudden release of her captive gaze, allowed Raina a handful of seconds to gather an overall impression of the man before she became aware of the men surrounding him, standing slightly behind him.

A security detail, her mind clicked.

The mysterious Mr. Draken, her mind added.

The toothbrush in her hand.

Guiltily, Raina made a belated attempt to hide the contraband in her hand. She averted her gaze but not before she saw her guilty movement had drawn his attention directly to the toothbrush she'd tried to palm.

She was never to be seen, or heard, and under no circumstances to look directly at the man. The color left her face in a rush as those rules, drummed into her head over the past several days, belatedly filtered into her mind. Straightening abruptly, she grabbed her tray of cleaning supplies, galloped down the stairs, and around the curve, flattening herself against the wall. Her heart, jump started by her abrupt awareness, was galloping in her chest at around ninety miles an hour. Her lungs, laboring overtime now that she'd remembered to breathe, pumped like a bellows, over oxygenating her blood so rapidly she thought for several horrifying moments she was going to pass out.

Triple shit! she thought in dismay as she caught a glimpse of the housekeeper's shoes in the doorway off to her right.

She'd broken every single damned rule in the space of a heartbeat and topped that off by galloping down the stairs like an idiot, drawing even more attention to herself!

She flicked a look at her hand by her side and saw the bright blue handle of the toothbrush sticking up out of the cleaning cloth. As casually as she could, she rotated her arm so that the handle, she hoped, was hidden from the woman's view, but she had a bad feeling it was way too late to be worrying about the damned toothbrush. Even if Hatchet-face hadn't seen the toothbrush, she'd probably seen her gallop down the stairs, and seen her look directly at the man--Simon Draken--staring at him as if she'd heard a chorus of angels singing in the background.

She knew it had to be him. As stunned as she'd been, she'd been dimly aware that he wasn't alone even before she glanced up. The fact that four of the security men had flanked him was enough to assure her it was 'his lordship' himself.

She frowned at that thought. She'd been too mesmerized to take in any particular details about him, but she certainly hadn't gotten the impression that he was old. His bearing had been ramrod stiff--almost military, although 'regal' was what popped into her mind from out of nowhere--not bent with age. His bearing aside, the impression she'd gotten was one of exceptional height, and massive proportions, not a body shriveled with age.

Not fat.

He wore black like everyone else in this bizarre household, but it hadn't been a suit. The slacks had been tailored to fit narrow hips and long, lean legs. The shirt, almost 'blousy' and old world looking, had been open at the neck, but his shoulders were broad and straight and the silk-like fabric had draped what seemed, in retrospect, hard, bulging muscles a body-builder would envy.

The men were halfway down the stairs before her hearing picked out the sound of their footsteps over her drumming heartbeat. Inwardly, she cringed, wishing she hadn't stopped by the stairs. She'd been lucky to make it as far as she had, though, without her legs completely losing muscle tone and dumping her in the floor. She was fairly certain she wouldn't have made it down the hall to the service area without embarrassing herself.

Sweat beaded her brow when the contingent reached the foot of the stairs and paused. The housekeeper was still watching her. She wasn't going to look, even though it was eating her alive to glance in that direction just to see if he was looking at her.

She wasn't going to.

She slid her eyes in his direction. She couldn't see anything but black shoes and calves clad in dress pants--and a pair of knee high black boots. The toes were pointed toward the door. For some reason, though, she had the impression that he'd glanced in her direction.

Paranoia?

After that brief hesitation, the entire party went out the front door.

Raina expelled a breath of relief when they disappeared.

She counted to ten, expecting to hear the crisp footsteps of the housekeeper. She knew the woman wasn't going to bellow at her from down the hall.

"Mr. Draken will be back in an hour," Mrs. Higgenbottom said finally, her voice sounding almost mild for her. "Be certain you've finished with the balustrade and moved into the dining room by then."

More than a little stunned, Raina nodded, but the soft click of the door told her the woman hadn't waited for any kind of response.

Her entire body slumped as the tension went out of her. Feeling dazed and more than a little confused, Raina moved away from the wall when the weakness finally subsided and strength slowly began to return.

She hadn't been dismissed.

Yet.

The old bat was probably going to wait until she'd finished cleaning and then fire her, Riana thought morosely.

And how the hell did she know he'd be back in an hour? Where would he go on the island that would take him an hour to get there and back? He wouldn't be leaving the island. It was a fifteen minute ride around it to the dock and another ten to fifteen from there to the mainland, twenty or thirty to the city limits....

Shaking that puzzle off, Riana hurried up the stairs and hustled to finish the seemingly endless task in the time allotted. It wasn't just that she was concerned about the housekeeper, either. The entire episode had left her feeling strangely disoriented and jumpy. The man exuded cold and dangerous. As scary as she'd thought his watch dogs were, the main man made them seem warm and cuddly in contrast.

That was the impression that had made her heart stop and her breath freeze in her lungs, she decided.

The image of his strange eyes hung in the back of her mind as she worked furiously to finish the cleaning and polishing so that she could play least in sight when the man came back.

Emotionless, she thought, not just cold in the sense that he might have been looking at a roach that had had the audacity to creep out from under the rug. His eyes, his expression, had been as cold and distant as if there was no soul in the body.

She'd seen a flicker of ... something, though, she realized after a while. Fleetingly, so briefly she would've missed it if she hadn't been staring into his eyes, she'd seen something pass through them, an acknowledgement of her presence, she supposed. Surprise, maybe? As if it had been so unexpected for him to discover an actual living, breathing being cleaning his house that it had jolted him out of that faraway place where his mind ordinarily dwelt.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    Its an okay Read

    It was a great story line but I expected more from this author

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2010

    O.K.

    Not the authors' best work. I didn't like the male lead for the frist half of the book, I liked the second male lead better. If you get half way, the book gets better, there is more action in the second half. I liked the cybore books much better.

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    Posted March 23, 2011

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