Volume Three of an exclusive four-part volume by New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant.
She opened her eyes and gazed into the blackness of his gaze. They were fathomless, bottomless. She could sink into the obsidian orbs and happily give up her body – heart and soul – to him.
Devon loves her job at the firm. But sometimes she wishes she could find a man—a real man—who isn’t threatened by her success. When she first meets Anson, she’s overwhelmed by his powerful masculine presence and disarmingly gorgeous smile. But when he reveals his true mission—and his ability to transform into a dragon—she’s irresistibly drawn into an epic battle between humans and immortals, magic and technology, danger and desire.
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. She’s written more than thirty novels spanning multiple genres of romance including the bestselling Dark King stories, Dark Craving, Night’s Awakening, and Dawn’s Desire. Her acclaimed series, Dark Warriors, feature a thrilling combination of Druids, primeval gods, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children, a dog, and four cats in Texas.
"Dark, sexy, magical. When I want to indulge in a sizzling fantasy adventure, I read Donna Grant."
--Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestselling Author
Read an Excerpt
Blaze: Volume 3
By Donna Grant
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 Donna Grant
All rights reserved.
There is a moment, a nanosecond that feels like a lifetime, where your brain blanks and freezes when facing something you can't reconcile. Seeing an enormous animal standing just in front of you that isn't supposed to exist is just such an event.
A scream fell from Devon at the sight of the dragon that suddenly appeared. The appearance of the creature caused her to jerk back and fall hard on her butt. Panic then had her scrambling to the nearest wall, twisting her ankle in the process, thanks to tripping over a piece of wood in her high heels.
She couldn't take her eyes off the beast. He snarled, smoke billowing from his nostrils to snake up around his face. Metallic scales the color of chocolate shimmered even within the dim confines of the warehouse.
The next second, the soldiers began shooting, the bullets raining down upon the dragon. The sound was deafening, and she quickly covered her ears with her hands. The barrage of gunfire didn't faze the dragon. His onyx eyes were focused on Upton and Harriett.
The jaws of the dragon parted, showing dozens of razor-sharp teeth. His head lowered, giving her a glimpse of two membranous frills that ran from the base of his skull and down his back to the tail that had a hook-like extension on it.
Devon shook her head. She couldn't believe that she'd seen Anson change into this monstrous creature. It couldn't be real. It couldn't.
And yet ... it was.
She pressed herself against the wall when the dragon drew in a deep breath. Her eyes bulged when she saw more smoke coming from its nostrils. He was going to breathe fire and kill all of them!
"I thought Dragon Kings made a vow to protect humans," Upton shouted over the shooting, his face pale.
The dragon hesitated. Devon watched the CEO of Kyvor. Stanley wasn't faking the slight shaking of his hands that hung at his sides, or the sweat that trickled down his cheek despite the cold. He couldn't force his face to drain of color — unless it was all real.
She wanted to close her eyes and pretend that none of it was there, but she couldn't even look away.
The dragon's throat rumbled with a growl as he snapped open his massive wings that slammed into the soldiers up in the rafters. His tail took out four more of the armed men that rushed toward him.
In a matter of minutes, all twenty-five of Upton's men were no longer moving. Whether they were dead or unconscious, she didn't know.
Devon saw the door. With everyone staring at the dragon, she might make it outside to freedom. Then she would run as far and as fast as she could to get away from all of this.
She used her hands to help her stand against the wall. A look in the direction of Stanley and Harriett showed that both were staring open-mouthed at the dragon, looks of part fear and part excitement on their faces.
Kicking off her shoes, Devon prepared to make a run for the door when two men suddenly appeared before her. She gasped when she saw their red eyes — just like the men she'd seen Anson fighting earlier.
It wasn't just their eyes that startled her but the thick stripes of silver within their black hair, as well. Not to mention the look of pure glee on their gorgeous faces at finding her.
She tried to step back, but the wall blocked her. What the hell kind of nightmare had she marched into, and why couldn't she leave?
"Halt!" Upton bellowed when the dragon took a step toward him.
One of the men grasped Devon, yanking her beside him as he turned to face the dragon. The man's hand wrapped tightly around her throat.
The second one held out his hand as an orb began to form. It was shimmery with ribbons of energy swirling through it, and it continued to get bigger.
Devon was tired of people manhandling her. She was sick of being terrified. It was time she did something. She elbowed the man holding her in the ribs. As soon as she felt his hold loosen, she made a break for it.
She only got a few steps before the second man was suddenly standing in her way, still holding the orb. He grabbed her, turning her so that her back was against his chest.
Then he brought the ball closer to her. She didn't know what it was, but she knew that she didn't want it touching her. The more she fought him, the stronger his hold became. Until he swiped the orb against her arm.
The pain was instantaneous and debilitating. She let out a scream, and thankfully, blessedly, the ball didn't touch her again.
When she was finally able to open her eyes, she found the dragon staring at her. She met those black eyes of his, and her heart missed a beat.
She knew those eyes. It was Anson — even as her mind refused to believe it.
"If you want her to live, you'll come with us," Upton said, breaking the silence. "Shift back."
Devon was so wracked by agony that her legs gave out. The man holding her forcefully kept her upright. She couldn't move her injured arm, nor did she want to. It might make the agony even worse.
Upton motioned toward her as he spoke to Anson. "You know what the Dark will do to Devon. Look at her. She's in pain. Do you want her to experience more of it?"
The dragon swung its head and glared at Upton for a long minute. Then the creature was gone, leaving Anson standing naked in the middle of the warehouse.
Anson's hands were fisted at his sides, and his gaze didn't move away from Upton. "Release her," he demanded.
Stanley barked with laughter. "With Devon in our grasp, you'll do exactly as we say."
"I could kill you all in the next second."
Upton shrugged indifferently. "Do that, and the Dark Fae will take Devon away. If you manage to find her again, it'll be too late."
Devon blinked. Had Upton just said Dark Fae? Is that what he was calling the men with the red eyes? Was everyone crazy? Magic, Dragon Kings, Dark Fae — none of it could be real.
Anson took a step toward Upton. "If you harm her again, I'll —"
"What?" Stanley interrupted. "Kill me? I get that threat every day. So stand in line."
She might not know Anson well, but Devon could practically see the fury surrounding him. She was there to keep him in line, to make sure that he did whatever it was Stanley and Harriet wanted. Though she knew without a doubt that Upton would gladly hurt her just for the hell of it.
The Dark holding Devon lifted her in his arms. The motion was so unexpected that the throbbing in her arm intensified, consuming her with such anguish that she welcomed the blackness that took her. Even then, she thought she heard someone shout her name.
When she opened her eyes, the warehouse was gone. There was a light on above her, casting shadows across everything. She had no idea how long she'd been unconscious.
A course blanket rubbed against her good arm. She turned her head to discover that she was in what looked like a jail cell with thick bars caging her inside.
She kept her injured arm against her as she threw off the blanket and sat up, swinging her legs over the side of the narrow cot. No longer was she cold, and the pain seemed to have disappeared.
When she looked down at her arm, there was no injury. Had it all just been a dream? She must have lost her mind, a product of being overworked. Though she'd like to know what she did to have the police lock her up.
She leaned forward and tried to see other cells, but there was nothing except blackness all around her. Her prison was roomy, but she got the sense that she was within a much larger space.
Another few lights lit a path. Upon closer inspection, she was able to make out the outline of a door. Seeing that didn't make her feel better. In fact, she was more scared than before.
Her head jerked to where she heard Anson's voice. "Where am I?"
"I doona know where the Dark took us."
Dark. Shit. She was still inside her nightmare.
"I'll get you out somehow," Anson said.
She shook her head. "I let you in my house, in my bed."
"I was there to protect you."
"Right. You just left out the part where you could change into a dragon."
There was a slight pause. "You wouldna have believed me."
Of course, she wouldn't have believed him. Who would? "You knew what you were pulling me into, and you did it anyway."
"My family and our verra way of life are being threatened. What would you do for your family?"
She chose not to answer that question — or think about her family. "I had a right to know. I told you to tell me everything."
"This from a lass who didna believe us when we told you about the Druid. As if you'd have listened," he replied testily.
He had a point. Damn him.
She thought of the dragon and shuddered. He'd nearly breathed fire on all of them. Anson was dangerous, that much was obvious. She'd never been more thankful to be within the confines of a cell before.
Except she didn't know if it could withstand a dragon's strength. Or his fire.
Devon braced her hands on the edge of the thin mattress. Upton had used her for bait just as he'd tried to use Kinsey. Kinsey!
She started to ask Anson about her but stopped. Anyone could be listening and probably was. Kinsey might be in league with Anson, but she and Esther were also Devon's way out. The less Stanley knew about them, the better.
She jerked around and fell off the bed when Anson approached the cell. She hadn't heard him moving. In fear, she scooted as far from him as possible as she took in his shirtless and shoeless form.
He stood silently, staring at her for a moment, then his lips curved, but the smile held only scorn. "You're afraid of me. How typical of a mortal when I've done nothing but protect you. It's your own kind who betrayed you."
"How do you expect me to react? I saw you change into a dragon!"
"I expected you to be smarter than most. I expected you to realize who I am, and yet that seems to be impossible for your kind. You see the worst in most and overlook evil in the rest." He turned on his heel and walked away.
She caught a glimpse of the dragon tattoo on his back before he faded into the darkness. Was he right? She had been blind to the maliciousness of Kyvor.
While Anson, Kinsey, and Esther had done nothing but open her eyes to the truth and try to safeguard her. Anson had put himself on Kyvor's radar by attempting to stop her from going into work that morning.
Yet her mind couldn't fathom him being a dragon. How did he exist? How was he still around? And how the bloody hell didn't anyone know of him?
Now it all made sense. Dreagan wasn't just his business, it was his home. How many other dragons lived there?
She walked to the corner of the cell near her cot and slid to the concrete floor. "Will you tell me your story now?" "You doona want to hear it."
"Give me one good reason," he demanded harshly.
She leaned her head back against one of the bars. "I don't want to be surprised again. I want to know if there is something I can do against the Dark or ... even your kind."
There was movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head and saw Anson's face within the darkness. In another step, he appeared.
"You still fear me."
She nodded, not bothering to lie. "I need some time to digest this. I can't see something for the first time that isn't supposed to exist and be all right with it."
"Did I harm you?"
"You were going to burn us all."
He snorted loudly. "I'm as old as time itself, Devon. I know where to direct my dragon fire. You were never in danger."
"I'm sorry," she said in shock, her brain trying to keep up with the information he'd just dropped. "How old did you say you were?"
"Dragons have been around since the dawn of time. This planet was our home."
"How is it there is no record of dragons?"
His chest expanded as he inhaled. "Because we made sure there was no evidence of us."CHAPTER 2
Anson knew he and Devon were being spied upon. Upton wanted any little tidbit he could acquire, but Anson wasn't going to give it to him. He used his magic to cocoon him and Devin so their conversation would be private.
To Stanley and anyone watching, it would appear as if he and Devon were ignoring each other.
"You ... you did what?" Devon asked.
Anson watched a lock of her brunette hair fall between the bars. "We made sure there was nothing humans could find that would suggest dragons were real or had once inhabited this realm."
"Realm," she repeated. "Perhaps you'd better start at the beginning."
He looked around the sparse and vast room that held no comforts for either a dragon or human. It was going to be near impossible for him not to kill Stanley or Harriett after what they'd done to Devon, Kinsey, and Esther.
His gaze swiveled to Devon to find her blue eyes locked on him. There was no reason not to tell her the history of the Dragon Kings now, but he wasn't sure it would do any good. Her mind was made up.
"From the beginning, this world was ours. In all the realms, this was the only one where dragons existed. For millions of years, we lived, loved, and fought here.
"There were billions of dragons in every color and size that called Earth home. Each group of dragons was designated by a color. Within each clan was the one chosen to be the Dragon King because they were the strongest among them, the one with the most magic."
Her gaze didn't waiver, and he took some comfort in that. "The Dragon Kings ruled their dragons. Among the Kings was one with even greater power and magic — the King of Kings."
"Were you a King?" she asked.
Anson slowly nodded and moved closer to the cage. "I was King of the Browns."
"So when you came to power, did the other King of Browns step aside?"
"Nay. Once a King, always a King. It's part of our blood to protect our dragons and land."
Devon wrapped a hand around one of the thin bars. "So you had to fight?"
"Aye. There was a battle."
"But you won. That's good, right?"
He turned his head away. "For years, I hid my growing power. I knew there would come a day that I'd have to challenge the King for the position."
"Did you not want it?"
"It was my destiny. And, aye, I wanted to be a Dragon King."
"I don't understand," she said with a frown.
Anson looked at her. "In order to become the next King, I had to fight — and kill — my own father."
"Oh. I see," she said, her voice tinged with sadness.
"It was both the worst day of my life and the best." And one he'd never forget. "My father was a great King. He protected our people and was fair and wise. It's why I hid my power and magic for as long as I could. But the day came when I couldna keep it from him any longer. I didna want to fight him because I knew one of us had to lose. His last words were that he was proud that it was I who would be taking his place."
Devon gave a shake of her head, her blue gaze filled with sorrow. "I can't imagine what that was like."
"It's our way," he said as an explanation. "Mortals had only recently arrived on this realm. As soon as they showed up, the Dragon Kings shifted into human forms. It's how we were able to communicate.
"We realized that the mortals had no magic and needed our protection, so we vowed to defend them. Each Dragon King gave up a portion of land for the humans. The dragons mostly kept away from the mortals, but there were Kings who helped them build villages and interacted with them often."
Devon asked, "Were you one of those?"
"Nay. I chose to keep my distance."
"Go on," she urged.
He swallowed and came to stand beside the cage. Leaning back against it, he said, "Before we knew it, the humans had outgrown the land we'd given them. They kept asking for more, pushing dragons farther and farther from their lands. Then the mortals began to hunt some of the smaller dragons for food."
"Wasn't there other food for them?"
"Oh, aye," he replied, turning his head to the side to see her. "There was plenty. Every once in a while, a dragon would eat a human. The Kings managed to keep the peace. Con did most of it."
"Con?" she asked.
He turned his head to her. "Constantine. The King of Kings. He diffused tense situations and kept everything calm until the day came when it was out of his hands."
She moved closer to the bars. "How? What happened?"
"During that time, it wasna uncommon for a King to have a house in the villages. Some of the humans flocked to these Kings because they knew they would be protected. Because of this, the Kings would often take mortal women as their lovers."
"I can see how that would happen."
He shrugged and lowered himself to the floor. "There were drawbacks. None of the humans were able to carry a child conceived by a King to term. Most of the pregnancies ended after a few weeks. On the rare occasion that the woman was able to bring the pregnancy to term, the bairn was stillborn."
"All of them?" she asked in surprise.
"All. It was for that reason that most of the Kings decided no' to take humans as mates. You see, Devon, dragons bind themselves for life to their mates. If a King chose a mortal as his mate, then he was effectively ending his bloodline.
"Even with that knowledge, a handful of Kings fell in love with humans. Ulrik was just such a King. He and Con were as close as brothers, and everyone knew he could've challenged Con to be King of Kings."
Devon's brow furrowed. "Why didn't he?"
"Ulrik was happy leading his Silvers. He was a good King, one who enjoyed the simple things. He played jests on us constantly," Anson said with a smile as memories surfaced. "Everyone liked him."
Excerpted from Blaze: Volume 3 by Donna Grant. Copyright © 2017 Donna Grant. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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