He was a Drake, a dragon. She was a St. George, born to slay them. They were meant to be mortal enemies, yet for three days the shifter and the succubus had been insatiable lovers. From that union a secret child had been conceived. Now Caitlin St. George had to finally tell Sean Drake she'd not only borne his son, but that the baby had been kidnapped. And only Sean could save him
The tasks in front of Sean were not easy. He'd had to give his family's enemy all he demanded and then become what he'd feared the most. Would this mission cost Sean the last shreds of his humanity, or could love finally tame the beast within?
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
"Alan, now that is one fine-looking piece."
"Yeah, how'd you like to have a taste of that?"
Inwardly seething, Sean Drake's only physical display of disgust was a slight tightening of his grip around the beer bottle in his hand at the juvenile comments the thugs in the booth behind him were making about the woman who'd just taken a seat at the bar. Their antics and crude behavior were starting to chafe at his last nerve.
These men were petty thieves and thugs. One was a large, hard-drinking bully, and the other his smaller, junkie buddy. Both low-life slugs.
He'd run into them a few weeks ago when they were casing the neighborhood around his current apartment. They'd been looking for their next target, and he'd made certain to accidentally bump into them that night to thwart their plans.
He should have killed them instead.
Had he followed his gut instinct, they wouldn't be here tonight, intent on harassing someone weaker and smaller than themselves. He wasn't about to let that happen. He didn't care what trouble they brought on themselves, but they wouldn't be permitted to hurt anyone else.
Sean tossed back the bottle of beer he'd been nursing and realized with a start that it was time to go home. Not to his sparsely furnished, one-bedroom apartment at the edge of the city, but home to the forested mountains and Dragon's Lair. He choked back a laugh at that thought. Barely eight months had passed since he'd left the Lair, but it felt like years. Actually, he hadn't simply left. Confused, half-dead and afraid for his life, he'd run away in the middle of the night.
It had taken him most of this time alone to come to the conclusion that he'd deserved the beating the Dragon Lord had given him. After all, his unwillingness to control his new, and unwanted, powers had put not just himself at risk, but he'd also become a danger to his brothers and their families. As the Dragon Lord, Braeden had been forced to choose between knocking some sense into the new changeling, or killing him.
Thankfully, even though it would have been within his rights as the lord, his brother hadn't chosen to take his life. Sean knew he should have been grateful, but at the time, the boulder-sized chip on his shoulder hadn't allowed him to see reason. Instead, he'd convinced his sorry self that everyone hated him, that nobody understood himbasically, he'd reacted like a spoiled, self-centered child.
But he hadn't been a child. He'd been a relatively normal twenty-six-year-old adult with a college degree, and more wealth and opportunities than most people would see in a lifetime. He had a good position in the family business and a family who'd cared about him.
Until just over a year ago, when he had been torn from a dark dream by the sounds of a striking whip and an evil cackle, followed by what sounded like a raggedly chanted curse. He hadn't been able to make sense of the breathless words, just snippets of a woman's pain-filled voice. A demonic urge to change into a dragon had filled him. With it came an unrelenting need to seek Drake blood. Since he wasn't a changeling, he had chalked it up to being nothing more than remnants of a nightmare.
His shape-shifting into a dragon would have been fine as far as Braeden or Cameron were concerned. Since both of his older brothers were changeling wizards and possessed dragon blood from birth, they would have welcomed his newfound ability. But it wasn't fine with him. He had always been the normal one, the human brother without any power to read minds, transfer thoughts, slide into dreams, shift into a dragon or materialize someplace on a whim.
For many long weeks after the nightmare, he'd been edgy, moody, confused and unreasonable. As the next month passed, instead of fading away, the troubling urges from that dark dream grew. At the time, he'd thought he was losing his mind. But then, when the dream turned real and he had shifted to dragon form, he'd felt invincible and driven with only one purpose in mindto kill his brothers. Aunt Danielle had been convinced that he'd been cursedand since he had heard bits of a chanted curse in his nightmare, he agreed with her assessment, but could do nothing to break whatever spell had been cast over him, except wonder who had cast the spell and why.
Cameron had spent the next two months trying to teach him how to use this new unearthly power and how to control his urges, but Sean had been reluctant to accept his brother's training. One night, in a moment of what he could now only consider pure insanity, he'd shifted into dragon form and attacked Braeden.
While he'd known that as the Dragon Lord his brother was a powerful wizard, he hadn't truly known just how powerful until Braeden's beast gave him a beat down he'd survived only by some miracle.
Sean rubbed the side of his neck. Just remembering that night made his scars burn like fire. How would his brothersand their beastsreact when he showed up at Dragon's Lair? Would they let him come home? If so, what would it cost him to gain entry back into the family fold?
A sudden flash of sensual heat flowed through him, interrupting his musings and drawing his attention to his surroundings. The brilliant green eyes of his slumbering dragon flickered open. The black, elongated pupils narrowed and widened, dilating with curiosity and interest.
Sean tensed, focusing on the unexpected awakening of his inner beast. He controlled the urge to shift and then studied the other occupants of the bar. Whoor whathad roused the dragon from its slumber?
His gaze settled on the exceptionally attractive woman at the barthe one the thugs were still drooling over as they kept up their running commentary of what they'd like to do to her.
Their shallow imaginations leaned more toward control and force than pleasure. The urge to show them exactly how control and force felt grew stronger by the minute.
Yeah, it was definitely time to go home before he did something that would terrify the humans of this world.
Curious about the woman, and his dragon's rapt fascination with her, he rose from his seat at the booth and grabbed his empty beer bottle from the table. Seemed the perfect time to get another one.
Crossing the uneven floor of the seedy neighborhood bar, Sean knew he was ready to pay whatever price his brother demanded. In an effort not to draw unwanted attention from his family, he'd avoided touching his bank account. Now, he was tired of drifting, tired of picking up one meaningless job after another just to eat and beyond tired of trying to act normal among humans who would never understand or accept what he'd become.
Sean leaned over the empty stool next to the woman, put the bottle on the worn bar top and nodded when the bartender reached to pull a fresh longneck from the cooler.
Intentionally turning to face the woman, Sean breathed in deeply. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but instead of some floral or botanical perfume, her scent was enticinglike exotic spices and promises. Lusty promises that curled around him, twisting, swirling, drawing him ever closer.
He leaned in until his lips were mere inches from her cheek. When she turned her head to look at him, her scent grew stronger, filling his mind and his blood with the need to possess her. He wanted to taste her deep red, full lips, run his fingers through those auburn- and coppery-colored waves curling halfway down her back and get lost in the warmth of her brandy-hued eyes.
When she didn't lean away from him, he motioned for the bartender to refill her drink then tossed the money for the beer and her drink on the bar.
Her low, throaty whisper raced warm and enticing across his face, leaving him almost trembling with lust. The dragon's rumble of desire deepened to a guttural roar, demanding he claim this woman as his own.
Surprised by both his and the beast's intense responses, he was certain this was no mortal woman. He freed his senses and brushed his mind briefly across hers.
Instead of discovering nothing of interest, a rush of familiarity, of like meeting like, confirmed his assumptionshe was another preternatural. His knowledge about others of his kind was limited, gained from the few details his family had provided and from stories told by a vampire he'd run across a couple of months ago. It didn't require an abundance of knowledge to know from the instant, sensual heat of her returned touch and the seductive half smile playing across her mouth, that she was a succubus looking for much more than just another drink.
Her sense of desperation swept over him. She wasn't seeking just a quick night of pleasure. Sharp, painful pangs of hunger gnawed at his gutshe needed to feed from someone strong enough to withstand the draining she would unleash on them.
More than able to satisfy her craving, Sean smiled back at her. She could feed on his life force for days without draining him.
Before he could understand exactly what was happening, or offer protest, Sean's beast gently blew an invisible puff of fire and smoke in her direction, marking the woman as his.
Didn't the dragon understand that the two of them were one being? The beast couldn't claim a mate without committing Sean to the same person. He resisted the urge to gasp at the implication. Of course the beast knew exactly what it had done.
Sometimes Sean wished he'd have paid more attention to what his brother had tried to teach him. Even though he didn't possess the ability to materialize elsewhere or slide into another person's dreams like his brothers did, he was able to shift and to communicate telepathically. While it made him more like them, more of a Drake perhaps, he still didn't understand his beast the way his brothers did theirs.
Why had his beast chosen this moment to mark a woman when it had never considered doing so before? Was it because he'd recently been thinking about returning to Dragon's Lair and his family?
And why this woman? Sean held back a chuckle. The answer to this question was obvious. He wanted this beguiling temptress with every fiber of his being.
She said nothing, but the slightest widening of her eyes let him know she'd felt the mental brand.
He pushed the drink he'd bought closer to her then grabbed the beer, deepened his smile and nodded before returning to the booth without saying a word.
Caitlin watched him leave. A less-perceptive woman might have been deflated by his nonverbal response, interpreting it as a dismissal. However, she knew better. He may not have spoken words, but his brief touch across her thoughts had felt like a warm, possessive caress against her cheek. His inner beast had marked her, meaning this was no mere mortal man. Whatever nonhuman traits he possessed were apparently from the animal kingdom. But his mental touch hadn't permitted her entry into his mind to tell her which one.
However it didn't require any degree of perception to notice that he hadn't simply walked awayhe'd sauntered, swaggeredas if confident of her interest and daring her to follow him.
Caitlin curled her fingers around the glass he'd pushed toward her. The imprint left by his touch was still warm under hers. Beneath the warmth churned a hunger as deep as her own. She shivered with anticipation, knowing her bed wouldn't be cold or lonely tonight.
Of more importance had been the feeling that his interest in her was purely physicalan interest that she welcomed with relief. Because of a vow to her mother, she hadn't fed in over a month, and now blood flowed through her veins like a thick, slow-moving sludge. The lethargy weighing her down was nearly unbearable; she needed somethingsomeoneto refill her life force.
The fastest, easiest way to gain the life-giving power she needed to survive was to simply suck the force from another being. However, that required her to know when to stop before completely draining the donor, and right now her hunger would make that nearly impossible.
But the most pleasurable way to obtain what she needed, the fairest way for the other participant and the longest-lasting method was through hot, intense sex. Finding a willing partner wasn't a problem, since as a succubus, men and women were always drawn to her whether she summoned the attraction or not. Unfortunately, most humans didn't possess enough life force, or the driving needa near-insatiable hungerto survive mating with her.
Hence the reason for promising her mother that she'd refrain from feeding on themagain. Since this man wasn't human, he stood a better chance of living through the event.
The old cliché "killing two birds with one stone" came to mind. She would still be honoring her parents' request by not seeking out a human, and by morning she might gain enough life force to last weeks.
She raised the glass to her lips and then paused before putting the drink back on the bar without taking a sip. Already weak and slow, Caitlin knew the booze would only make her feel worse. She'd come in here as a last resort, looking for a donor, not to get drunk.
Now that she'd found what she wantedwhat she so desperately neededit was time to go. Not for one second did she worry about him finding her. She'd strategically leave enough of her scent lingering in the air that he'd find the way to her home with ease.
"Aren't you a hot little thing?"
Hot? Always. Little? Caitlin resisted rolling her eyes at that description. She hadn't been a little thing since she'd hit just under six foot tall at age twelve.
A yellowish glare from the streetlight at the end of the alley danced in the droplets of sleet rolling down the thug's drawn blade. She forgot about his comment and took another step back from the two men stalking her, luring them farther into the dark alley.
They'd been in the booth behind the changeling at the bar. She'd heard their crude comments when she'd entered, felt them watching her when she'd left the bar, and she'd seen their reflections in the smoked-glass window as they followed her out. She'd expected him to follow her, but these two were another story.
With a quick touch of her mind to the humans, she discovered that while their goal also included sex, it wasn't the passionate kind they wanted. She quirked an eyebrow at their stupidity and kept walking backward.
They had corralled her into the alley a block away from the bar where no one would see themmistakenly thinking she was an easy target. She might be drained, but her tired muscles and slow reactions would still be more than enough to handle these two.