A Dragon to Trust

A Dragon to Trust

by Susan Kearney

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Overview

She’s sacrificed everything . . .

Vivianne Blackstone has put life on hold for the sake of her world. Her company is tasked with building a prototype spaceship to protect Earth from the invading tribes. Over budget and behind schedule, Vivianne’s frustration mounts, and she personally pays a visit to her pet project.



She may have to sacrifice more . . .

Her frustration is only beginning, because the instant she meets her genius chief engineer, Jordan McArthur, Vivianne’s struck by a force she’s never known. She wants him—a man she’s just met. She needs him—a man she doesn’t even like. But this raging desire is so not normal. Jordan looks as if he’s seconds from tearing their clothes off. Clearly, Jordan is just as on edge, desperate to repress his need.



“Something’s . . . happening,” he said through gritted teeth.

“No . . .it’s . . . not.” Vivianne’s words were an agonized lie.

This was insane. Lust had obviously never pounded either of them like this. They were in danger. Earth was in danger. They might all die tomorrow. It didn’t matter. They had to have one another. Now.




Susan Kearney, a native of New Jersey, writes full time and has sold books to the industries' top publishing houses — Grand Central, Tor, Simon & Schuster, Harlequin, Bell Bridge Books, Berkley, Leisure, Red Sage, and Kensington. As an award winning author, Kearney earned a Business Degree from the University of Michigan. Kearney's knowledge and experience spans throughout the romance genre, and her fifty plus books include contemporary, romantic suspense, historical, futuristic, science fiction, and paranormal novels. She resides in a suburb of Tampa—with her husband, kids, and Boston terrier. Currently she's plotting her way through her 54th work of fiction.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781611948738
Publisher: BelleBooks
Publication date: 03/07/2018
Pages: 262
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

As we lay in the sweet grasses under the constellation of Orion, I knew that what we had done was not so much lovemaking as a release of an inexplicable act of passion.

— High Priestess of Avalon

"DAMN IT, JORDAN. You lied to me." Vivianne Blackstone, CEO of the Vesta Corporation, tapped the incriminating report against her leg and restrained her urge to fling it at Jordan McArthur, her chief engineer. The world was in a total meltdown after learning an ancient enemy had infiltrated Earth's governments and major industries, and Vivianne was determined to keep her Draco Project safe.

Head throbbing, she stared at the spaceship's complex wiring. The Draco was the only ship of its kind, the most advanced spaceship Earth had ever built, and she had to fly as planned. It had to work out. So much was riding on this venture to find the lost and legendary Holy Grail. Vesta's future. Earth's future. Her future. Everything she'd ever wanted, everyone she'd ever loved, might be lost if this project didn't succeed.

When Jordan didn't respond, she nudged his foot with her shoe. "I'm talking to you."

Lying on the deck with his head halfway through a hatch, Jordan shifted until she could just see his intense blue eyes.

"I heard. How did I lie to you?"

She dropped the papers, but she'd already lost his attention to the ship. He'd wriggled back inside the compartment, pulling another wire to hook into the circuits, no doubt following an electrical schematic that existed only inside his head.

He threaded a wire into a panel box of delicately networked circuits. "Pass me a screwdriver."

Scowling at his back, she slapped the tool into his hand.

"Tell me these findings are wrong," Vivianne demanded.

"What findings?" He didn't so much as spare a glance at the folder she'd dropped. His profile, rugged and somber, remained utterly still, except for a tiny tick in his jaw that told her he was unhappy she'd interrupted his work.

"You've never attended Harvard. Never got your PhD at MIT. Never taught at Cambridge."

"The Phillips head." He held out his hand again, impatience lacing his voice. "It's the screwdriver with an X on the tip." Like she didn't know a Phillips head when she saw one? While her specialty was communications technology, she'd designed and built her first hydrogen rocket by age twelve.

However, when it came to spaceship design, Jordan was the go-to guy. Despite his doctored resume, the man knew his aeronautical engineering. From hull design to antigrav wiring, no detail on the Draco was too small for Jordan to reengineer and make more efficient.

One of Jordan's engineers spoke over the ship's intercom. "These voltage-converter equations can't be right."

"They are," Jordan answered evenly.

"They're frying the circuits." The man's frustration was evident in his tone.

"Sean, you'll find a way to keep them humming. You always do."

"I'm stumped."

"I'll give you a hand as soon as I can."

"Thanks, boss."

"But I'm sure you'll figure it out before then."

Sean chuckled. "I'll do my best."

While this was a side of Jordan she hadn't seen, his easy relationship with his team didn't surprise her. But it wasn't his leadership skills that she questioned. Vivianne's gut churned. "Jordan, we really need to talk."

"So talk."

Vivianne paused and considered precisely what to say. She'd already made one mistake by hiring Jordan before he'd been properly vetted. She couldn't afford to make another — like accusing him outright of being a spy for the planet's worst enemy.

"The Draco is Earth's first and only spaceship that can carry a full crew to the stars."

"So?"

"This ship has caught the imagination and attention of the masses. Everything we do is under intense scrutiny and makes headline news, and when the press finds out that my chief engineer falsified his employment application —"

"Damn it, Vivianne, I know what I'm doing."

"To the public, a liar is a liar. And if you lied to get a job, they'll wonder what else you've lied about. In these dangerous times, we can't have our loyalty questioned."

"So we don't tell anyone. Problem solved."

Vivianne pinched the bridge of her nose to ease her headache. "But if your lies come to light, you don't just lose your job, you ruin my credibility. My company's reputation. It could crash Vesta's stock."

Jordan threaded one of myriad wires into a nexus of circuitry. "As long as this ship doesn't crash, your stock will be fine."

She could handle the business end. What she couldn't handle was a traitor. Who was he? The PIs she'd hired had found nothing on him back further than six months ago, when he'd applied for a job with Vesta. His fingerprints and eye print weren't on file. He had no military record. No record of birth. With the entire planet on the alert for alien moles, Jordan's nonexistent background and his lies had her suspicious as hell ... and yet, she was good at reading people.

Maybe his brilliant blue eyes and intellect had fooled her. Hell, if she put his picture on the news, the female half of the planet would fall in love at first sight and forgive him anything. Mr. Dark, Tough, and Brilliant's gorgeous face might just sway the general population and perhaps her stockholders, as well. And she needed his expertise badly enough to give him the chance to convince her he had a damn good reason for his deception, before she called in the authorities.

"What other lies have you told me?" she asked.

"Whatever would get me this job."

"Real inspiring. Why didn't you respond to the memo I sent last week?"

"If I spent all my time reading your memos, how would I get anything done?"

Vivianne tried coming at him with another tactic. Last week's change orders had been over the top — even for Jordan. "You've installed miles of wiring that aren't in the specs."

"We're ahead of schedule, so why are you concerned?"

She frowned. Before she'd known about his lies, she'd shrugged off his clever modifications. But now she wondered if his alterations had been necessary. Or simply a sneaky way to delay and undermine the entire project.

She'd tried to hire theoreticians to double-check his work. But the specialists couldn't keep up, remaining bogged down in theory while Jordan had gone on to build working prototypes. Now even his brilliance seemed suspicious. How did he know what he knew? Where did he come from?

In a desperate attempt to suppress her frustration, Vivianne reminded herself how far she'd come. Peering at the Draco's shiny metal, she had difficulty believing they'd built this ship in just over three months. Almost every system was a new design, and while the number of things that could go wrong was infinite, she had high hopes for success.

"If the story of your doctored credentials leaks, our client may get cold feet," she explained.

"Chen won't back out." Jordan sounded completely certain.

She didn't bother to keep the exasperation from her voice. "Billionaires willing to buy a spaceship in order to search the galaxy for the Holy Grail aren't a dime a dozen." Jordan grunted.

"If Chen does back out, I'll have to refund his investment. And with the way you've been spending, not even I have that much credit."

"Down to your last few billion, are you?" Jordan teased without glancing in her direction.

She clenched her fists in irritation. "That's not the point." She wished he'd trust her with the truth. Maybe he would if she reassured him. Because in truth, the government had gone a bit overboard looking for alien moles. As far as she knew, they hadn't found even one. "Maybe we can break the news, spin it in our favor." She pictured an advantageous story. Something like "Genius engineer discovered."

"The article could praise you and some little-known college. I'll have my PR department put together a package."

"Not a good idea."

His blue eyes glittered dangerously, and his response made her uneasy. Something wasn't right. He should be grateful that she was willing to fix the publicity nightmare he'd created. Instead he was acting like a man with something else to hide. But what? Was he here to damage her ship? But if so, why would he work day and night to build it? Why give them all his marvelous inventions?

She needed more information. She'd hire new PIs. Dig deeper and watch him more closely.

"Do you always make contingencies for contingencies?" he asked.

She snorted. Orphaned at age ten, Vivianne had become a ward of the state. Control became her lifeline. She'd used her obsession to earn herself a first-class education and to build a successful small business into a worldwide conglomerate.

The downside of running a huge company, however, was that she had to rely on others. Brilliant engineers like Jordan didn't give a damn about her minute-to-minute expectations. He got the job done — but he certainly didn't do things her way.

But was his allegiance to Vesta, the Draco, and Earth? Why wasn't he trying to reassure her?

"In your case, I haven't planned enough."

Jordan rubbed his ear and stood, reminding her just how tall and broad he was. But if he was attempting to use his size to intimidate her, he'd learn she didn't back down.

"What do you want me to do?" he asked. "You have someone else who can build the Draco on budget and under deadline?" He didn't wait for her reply. Why would he? They both knew the answer was no.

"Where did you go to school?"

Jordan shrugged. "Here and there."

Her blood pressure shot up ten digits, but she did her best to keep her temper under control. "Could you be a little more specific?"

He shot her an unapologetic smile that was way too charming. "I'm pretty much self-taught."

Hell. She needed more than a damn charming smile to convince her he hadn't been educated on another planet. That he wasn't a spy.

"You don't have a PhD?"

He didn't answer.

Vivianne reminded herself that she'd dealt with many difficult situations in the last few years. She'd funded archeologist Lucan Roarke's risky mission to a moon named Pendragon to find the Holy Grail. While he hadn't brought back the Grail, he had found a cure for Earth's infertility problem.

Vivianne stared at the scales on the inside of her wrists. Like one-tenth of the population, she now had two hearts and could shapeshift into a dragon and fly.

Too bad her new genes hadn't increased her intelligence. How could Jordan have fooled her so easily? More important, what was he hiding? "What about job experience?"

"Nothing verifiable."

"I suppose you fudged the glowing recommendations, too?" Her pulse pounded, and she massaged her aching temple. Was Jordan her ally or her enemy? "Who are you?"

"You might want to take an aspirin —"

"Thank you, doctor." Her sarcasm escaped unchecked. "Oh, excuse me, you aren't a doctor of anything, are you?"

"I don't need a medical degree to see that your head hurts and you're taking it out on me." His tone was calm, low, and husky, and that she found it sexy irked her even more.

"So now you're a shrink."

He'd barely glanced at her before turning to work on his beloved circuits, but it was so like him to notice details, even her wincing in pain.

Vivianne willed Jordan to turn around. "How did you do it? It's as if you appeared in Barcelona six months ago. Until then, you had no credit. You attended no schools. Even your birth records are fake. I can't find anyone who knew you before you walked into my office to apply for a job."

"And you've never regretted it."

"Until now." Damn him.

"You don't mean that." Jordan shrugged again. "You don't regret letting me design this ship."

Vivianne hadn't built up her company by allowing handsome men to sweet-talk her into trusting them or by ignoring urgent government warnings that alien agents may have infiltrated her company. Both Vivianne and the Tribes were after the Grail, but her goal was to save Earth, theirs was to enslave it. And according to legend, whoever possessed the Grail held the upper hand. So it was very possible that the reason her chief engineer had faked his past was because he was a spy — for the Tribes.

She couldn't put Earth's future into Jordan's hands until she knew more. Feeling sick to her stomach, Vivianne's tone snapped with authority. "Jordan, put down your tools. You can't work on the Draco until security clears you." In typical Jordan fashion, he kept right on working. "Don't you want to see if the new engine's going to work?"

"We'll straighten that out later." Her temper flared because Jordan knew just how to pique her interest. From the get-go, the engines had been a major issue. It almost broke her hearts to know that the Draco might never fly now that she was pulling him off the project.

"I'm about ready to test a new power source."

His words teased her curiosity as much as they raised her suspicions anew. "What are you talking about? What new power source?"

"The Ancient Staff." Jordan reached to a sheath he wore on his belt and drew out an object that resembled a tree branch with symbols carved into the bark. When he flicked his wrist, the rod telescoped and expanded with a metallic click.

Oh, God. Had he just unsheathed an alien weapon? The air around the Staff glittered like heat reflecting off hot pavement. It was if the Staff folded and compressed the space around it, the eerie effect and haze continuously rippling outward.

She peered at Jordan. The cords in his neck were tight, his broad shoulders tense as if he were bracing for her reaction.

She tried to tamp down a pinch of panic. "Don't move."

He turned to place the staff into position. "The Ancient Staff will supply far more power to the Draco's engines than a cosmic converter."

That Staff wasn't in the plans. She'd never even heard of the mysterious artifact. For all she knew, that power source was alien technology and once he attached it to the Draco, they'd all blow up.

Hiring Jordan had been a gigantic mistake. One that might cost Earth ... everything. Unnerved, she reached for her handheld communicator to call security, but there was no time. It would take only a second for him to snap the Ancient Staff into the housing.

She'd have to stop him herself. "Turn it off."

"The Staff doesn't have an off switch."

Stiffening, she forced authority into her tone. "Don't attach that thing to my ship."

"It's meant to —"

"I said no." Mouth dry with apprehension, she clamped her hand on his shoulder.

Before she could yank him back, Jordan snapped the rod into place. The anxiety she'd been holding back knotted in her stomach. Sweat broke out on her brow, and her nerves stretched taut.

But controlling her fear was the least of her worries as the air around the rod shimmered, then spread up his arm.

Voice trembling, she asked, "What type of energy is this?"

"The powerful kind."

"The engines can deal with that kind of power?"

"I hope so."

Energy crawled all the way up his arm and stretched toward her hand. Terrified, she tried to jerk back, but her body refused to obey her mind. Her feet wouldn't move. Her fingers might as well have been frozen.

Panicked, she watched the glow of energy flow over his shoulder to her hand. Every hair on the back of her neck standing on end, she braced for pain. But when the glowing energy engulfed her fingers and washed up her arm, then sluiced over her body, the tingling sensation somehow banished her headache and expelled her fear.

The effect was instantaneous and undeniable. Her breasts tingled. Her skin flamed as if they'd spent the past fifteen minutes engaging in foreplay rather than arguing over his nonexistent past. She'd always found Jordan attractive, but now it was as if the Staff had turned on a switch inside her.

She swallowed thickly. If he was feeling the same effects, he wasn't showing it.

Every centimeter of her skin was demanding to be stroked. Unwarranted sensations exploded all over her erogenous zones. Her nipples tightened, exquisitely sensitized. The scales on the insides of her arms and legs fluttered. Sweet juice seeped between her thighs.

Drenched in pure lust, she shook her head, trying to clear it. "What the hell is going on?"

"Don't know." Jordan practically growled, as if it took superhuman effort just to speak.

So he felt as totally, inexplicably aroused as she did. Obviously, he wasn't handling it well, either, but that didn't stop desire from rushing through all her senses.

She craved him like a starving dragon needs platinum, yet this could not be. Not without an emotional connection. She didn't do chemistry. She didn't do one-nighters. She didn't crave a man she barely knew, a man who was very likely a traitor.

But there was no fighting or denying the potent passion that blazed within her. Sexual need burned into her flesh, smoldered through her blood, the sensations fiery hot.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "A Dragon to Trust"
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Excerpted by permission of BelleBooks, Inc..
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A Dragon to Trust 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Eloise_In_Paris More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I read in this series, but that was okay it is a stand alone novel. The premise was interesting and the characters were likeable, but there was nothing that really stood out in this story. There was insta lust instead of insta love, and although it was fast for the characters to declare their undying love at least they got to know each other first. The writing isn't bad, but this is not one of those books you can't put down. I did zone out a few times and skimmed pages but I never got lost or missed anything important. If you like dragons and Arthurian legends you'll probably like his book. If you're bored and just want to read something, this book is fine. But this book did not inspire me to want to read any of the other books in this series and I doubt I'll be reading any future installments.
Eloise_In_Paris More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I read in this series, but that was okay it is a stand alone novel. The premise was interesting and the characters were likeable, but there was nothing that really stood out in this story. There was insta lust instead of insta love, and although it was fast for the characters to declare their undying love at least they got to know each other first. The writing isn't bad, but this is not one of those books you can't put down. I did zone out a few times and skimmed pages but I never got lost or missed anything important. If you like dragons and Arthurian legends you'll probably like his book. If you're bored and just want to read something, this book is fine. But this book did not inspire me to want to read any of the other books in this series and I doubt I'll be reading any future installments.