Dr. Mike Beteferoce turned his back on magic long ago. His heart broke and his desire for a soul mate disappeared. When he sees his family crest branded above Corryn’s heart, his first instinct is to flee. The last thing he wants now is a Fae interfering in his life—especially one who has already rejected him.
But fate has other plans.
Corryn knows Mike is his soul mate, has known since the sigil was branded on his skin centuries ago. Long before Mike came to him as a studly young dragon just entering his prime. It was far too early for them to be together then, but now their time has come.
But despite their draw to each other, Corryn doesn’t believe Mike can accept him for who—and what—he is. Mike must breathe life into their bond—loving Corryn as both soul mate and Fae—if they are to fulfill their destiny.
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Corryn finished the last line of Shae's newest tattoo, the dragon's eye looking right at him, full of life. Creating art usually didn't leave him feeling so empty, but the clear love and happiness between Shae and Jake, the way their soul bond shone and their joy colored the air, highlighted his own lack of the same. It emphasized the throbbing emptiness that was always there, a part of him.
"What do you think, guys? You like it?" He knew the answer — the piece was stunning, if he did say so himself. He'd fed off their magic to create it, their bond a bright light, that pure joy an inspiration.
The dragon was on Shae's ass, covering the pale skin of one cheek. Corryn held the mirror up for Shae, while Jake leaned over to get a closer look.
"It's perfect." There was a peace in Jake that was visible whenever he looked at Shae. "It looks alive."
"It burns." Shae looked stoned, happy. Corryn knew he was buzzed off the pain of the last few hours, endorphins no doubt flooding his body.
"Yeah, it does." Jake rubbed Shae's other cheek, the one free of ink. "I can't wait until it heals so I can spank it."
"He'll heal quickly." The dragons' soul mates always did. Besides, Corryn had magic of his own and Corryn imbued the tattoo with some of it for his dear friend. After all, he and Shae had been friends long before Shae and Jake had become soul mates.
Shae moaned. "Maybe tomorrow?"
"Soon, I promise." Jake grinned and squeezed Shae's ass, fingers digging in for a moment. "You did magical work, Cor. As usual."
"Thank you, dear one. I love to work on Shae." Shae sat for him like a dream and his skin took ink beautifully. Corryn loved to drink in the joy that poured from this pair. Even though it highlighted his lack of that special connection, it was still such a positive thing.
"I wouldn't go to anyone else." Shae stood with Jake's help, a pair of barely there gauzy pants pulled up. Shae was something else — sexy, warm, a sweetheart and needy as hell. He was a great match for Jake.
Corryn took Shae's hand in one of his, and Jake's in the other. "I'm glad. You two are my favorite customers." He let his magic flow through both of them. They didn't need to be knit tighter together, but he twined the threads of the protections he'd cemented into Jake when he was just a hatchling so they extended to Shae. He doubted they would feel what he was doing — Shae was too blissed out right now, and Jake was focused on his mate's happiness — and that was fine. He'd almost done this for himself, fulfilling his need to use his magic to make the lives of the Beteferoce brothers better. When he was done, he joined their hands and slipped out from between them.
"Should I use the card you have on file?" he asked Jake. He would have done the work for free, but payment was a ritual they were all comfortable with.
"No, why don't you use this one?" Jake pulled a pristine card out of his wallet.
Corryn took it from Jake and offered the two men who were barely keeping themselves from fucking on his chair a warm smile. "Give me two shakes."
"Two shakes of what?" Jake asked, wagging his eyebrows and chuckling. Shae rolled his eyes.
"My dam would say a dead lamb's tail," Corryn noted as he put the card in the machine and let technology do its own brand of magic.
"Ew." Jake made a face. "If that's a euphemism, it's gross."
"My kind can be relatively gross." Long-lived, bored and, yes, sometimes gross. Some with a real nasty streak, too. There were more psychopaths among the Fae than most other species. Of course that was still only a small percentage of them and there were also more heroes among his kind than most species, too. His own family had nearly lost his granddam for good during the destruction of Pompeii. She'd saved as many as she could and still wore permanent scars from where she'd been burned.
Jake gave him a once-over. "You don't seem gross to me."
"Oy." Shae smacked Jake's hip, and Jake laughed.
"I only have eyes for you," Jake promised, hand moving inexorably toward Shae's ass. Corryn loved to see their happiness, even as it made him ache.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Shae winked at Corryn. "You look tired. You working hard?"
"Just getting old," he teased. He had almost finished his job, really, and he was beginning to fade.
Shae frowned. "I didn't think your kind got old."
"It's all relative, sweet boy." And he was far older than Shea even suspected, older than the Beteferoce clan itself. For they were his reward for a life of service, a dragon clutch of his own to protect, to lead with his mate as his charges all matured and found soul mates of their own. That thought had the ability to tear open well-hidden wounds and he pushed it away, turning his focus back on Shae and Jake.
Shea leaned in and whispered, "Well, apparently I'm going to live forever."
Jake took back his credit card and slipped his wallet into his back pocket. "You are going to live forever. I'm going to be making you crazy until the end of time." Jake looked at Shae like there was nothing else in the world that mattered.
Corryn smiled, masking the ache that seemed to get bigger day after day.
Maybe he wasn't doing as good a job at hiding his pain as he thought, because Jake frowned at him. "What's wrong?" The dragon was far more sensitive than Corryn would have given him credit for, given that he'd been particularly oblivious as a hatchling.
Corryn attempted a better smile and shook his head. "Nothing."
One of Jake's eyebrows went up, but he didn't push it. "If you say so."
"I do. Butthead." Corryn went in for his hug, though. He wasn't mad at Jake, not at all.
Jake wrapped him up tight and squeezed him the way only a dragon could. It wasn't perfect, but it did ease the ache in him. It wasn't Jake's fault that he wasn't the right brother.
Jake sniffed, nostrils flaring. Oh, that sneak, using the hug to try and ferret out information.
"Be good, dragon." He kept his tone light, but couldn't keep the note of warning from creeping in.
"You're keeping secrets, Cor," Jake said softly.
"What secrets?" Shae asked, frowning as he snuggled up to Jake's side.
Corryn shook his head again, staying silent rather than trying to lie again. This was not Jake's problem to fix. Corryn wasn't entirely sure it was actually fixable, and in the end that was entirely his own fault. Well, his and a certain stubborn dragon's.
Jake gave him a long look, then grunted. "I'm going to send Mike to you. Just for a checkup."
Everything in him tightened at the thought of seeing Micah. A second of joy followed by panic and a throb of pain deep inside him. "Don't, Jake." His intended hated him. Hated all of his kind. And he was only partially responsible for that.
"There's clearly something wrong, and you're trying to hide it." Jake wore a belligerent look, like only a dragon could. The same look Jake had worn ever since he was a hatchling and was denied in his attempts to help out.
Shae looked genuinely worried now, clearly picking up on Jake's feelings and he put a hand on Corryn's arm, the touch gentle and welcome. "Are you okay, honey?"
"Of course. Right as rain. Don't worry." He would have put some magic into the words, but he was fading and it would take too much effort.
Jake put his hands on his hips. "I'm not sure what bothers me most — that something is wrong with you or that you're lying."
"Go on. Shoo." He waved them off, refusing to share his sorrow, his exhaustion. They deserved their joy and he would not mar it with his own concerns.
"Jake?" Shae slid his hand along Jake's arm, calming the big dragon immediately. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah. Yeah. Corryn wants us to think so, anyway. You ready to go?"
Shae hesitated for a moment, then nodded, coming to hug Corryn. "Thank you for my new piece. I love it."
"Anytime. I live for this." Aside from helping the Beteferoce brothers find their soul mates, there was this, putting ink to skin, matching people with their tattoos. It wasn't enough anymore, though he'd fooled himself for a while that it was.
"As good as you are, I believe that." Shae gave him another quick hug. "We'll see you again soon."
Jake laughed softly. "Very soon. My sweet pain slut needs his fix."
"I'm sure you have a few ideas how to get him through," Corryn noted dryly. "I remember something about compiling a list back in the day ..."
"Just a few hundred thousand," Jake drawled.
Shae blushed, then ducked his head. It was adorable, really.
Corryn waved them off, then locked the studio door behind them. He wandered for a few moments — thinking about all the years he'd been here, working his magic for the Beteferoce brothers. They'd needed his protections when they were hatchlings, then again when they'd all made the journey to the new continent. And he'd finally gotten them all together with their soul mates. After how many years? So many.
Now there was only one left.
He pressed his hand over his chest, on the sigil branded there centuries ago before he ever left the Fae homeworld.
Corryn had known who he belonged to from the first time he'd seen Micah's eyes — blue as clear water — but Micah had come to him too soon. He'd been startled, really, on that day when Micah had knocked on his door, wilted flowers in hand, so earnest and so eager to make his claim. He hadn't expected Micah to come to him for years yet and had still thought of Micah as a hatchling. Corryn was their caretaker, and not yet transitioned into thinking about the soul mate bond in anything but esoteric someday-in-the-future terms. There had been so many reasons to turn Micah down that day. If he hadn't, it would have left the other four unprotected for months, possibly years as they cemented the bond. He could not have focused on Micah or the bond as long as any of the Beteferoce brothers still needed his protections. Not to mention Micah needed to know who he was as a grown dragon himself, before he focused on Corryn and their bond. Coming into the bond too early would have stunted Micah's growth. Not that he hadn't been wonderful already, but Corryn knew he could be so much more. And in a panic, instead of explaining any of that to Micah, he'd pretended he didn't know what Micah was talking about.
A part of him was hurt that Micah had accepted his rejection so easily, illogical as that was. He would have liked it if Micah had come back the next day. Or the next week. Or the next year, and tried again. Maybe then Corryn would have been able to explain without hurting Micah, though he suspected that if he had admitted to being Micah's soul mate, there would have been no putting it off. He still hadn't had the words the next day when he'd gone looking for Micah, but he couldn't leave things as they were. With the surprise of Micah's declaration no longer plaguing him, he'd wanted to give Micah hope for the future, to let Micah know that he'd grow into the role and it would be all the better for both of them if they waited. He'd wanted Micah to know that the waiting would not be easy for Corryn, either. It wasn't to be, though. Micah had run from his rejection, right into the arms of another Fae and what Dakyn had done had poisoned Micah's opinion of the Fae. Micah hated them all and Corryn couldn't really blame him.
Corryn shook himself from his thoughts. He'd gone over and over those early days in his mind and he'd never found a solution or a way to change what had happened. He set to cleaning his station, organizing all his inks, his other supplies. It was time to go upstairs, curl up with a hot water bottle, and dream about a time when the world was young, he had the promise of a soul mate and magic was everywhere.
The bell on top of the door went off, letting him know someone had come in. He should have asked Jake and Shae to turn the sign to closed as they went out. Corryn turned, ready to let his potential customer down gently, only to find Micah standing there, looking tall and studly, handsome and put out.
Corryn stood there, frozen in place, staring at Micah. He hadn't seen Micah in ... thirty years? Forty? It might have been more than that. He had to swallow twice before he could make words come out. "Can I help you?" Would you touch me? Goddess, he wanted to reach out and take what he knew was theirs.
Micah hefted a medical bag. "Jake says you're sick."
"I told him not to call you." And Jake must have done so the moment he and Shae had stepped out of Corryn's shop. Stubborn dragon. He supposed it was a characteristic of the species.
"You know Jake. Did you think that was going to work?" Micah locked the door and turned the damn sign around. "I'll give you an exam."
"I ..." He stayed behind the chair, simply stunned. He didn't know what to say, what to do. And he yearned. He tried very hard to keep that out of his expression.
Micah's gaze found his. "Was Jake right? Are you sick?"
"I'm just ..." He waved one hand. "I have a pain." Not one a doctor could fix, but it was the truth, at least.
Micah grunted and came closer, face closed off. "Where?"
He drank Micah in, examining every feature, and breathed deeply, pulling Micah's scent in. Just Micah's proximity made the ache in his belly ease the smallest bit. Nonetheless, he touched his stomach to show Micah where he hurt. "I'm sure it's nothing. You look tired." You look lonely. You look like mine. The need to reach out and give Micah ease was huge, but he didn't, knowing his magic wouldn't be welcome and could indeed drive Micah away. Now that Micah was here, Corryn wanted him to stay as long as possible. Any contact, even strained, was better than none.
Micah looked surprised at his words. "I'm coming off a double shift." He pointed at the tattoo table Corryn occasionally used instead of the chair. "Lie down there."
"You work hard." Corryn knew he shouldn't, but he wanted this touch. Maybe needed it. He also wanted desperately to help Micah, to rub the tired lines by his eyes away.
"There's never enough time in the ER." Micah gave him a look full of impatience.
So Corryn lay down and Micah touched his belly with those big, warm, magnificent hands. It felt like he was hit by a jolt of electricity and Micah shot him a cranky look; Micah had felt it, too. The dragon grunted, brows drawing together in a frown. His heart mourned for the eager innocence Micah had come to him with all that time ago.
Corryn reached out, daring to touch Micah's wrist. It was as electric as the touch to his belly had been and Micah yanked his hand back before shaking his head. No doubt dismissing the charge as a normal buildup of electricity between the floor and the table or something. Micah kept touching his belly, though, pressing, then moving over a few inches, then moving and repeating the touches. Micah was so gentle with him. Was this Micah's bedside manner, or was he unconsciously treating Corryn as if he were special? Each touch made him feel better, even though it was a clinical examination.
"Do you feel anything?" Corryn asked. Do you feel me?
"Your belly is tight, but it seems to be easing. You need to breathe and sleep. Stay away from stress."
"Of course." Corryn dared to move the conversation to something more personal. "It's good to see you, friend." How he wished to call Micah mate.
Micah stared hard, then sat in the chair beside Corryn, looking almost surprised at himself as he did it. "We've known each other a long time."
"We have." Corryn sat up on the table, crossed his legs. "Longer than anyone would guess." This was the most conversation they had had since Micah had approached him all those hundreds of years ago.
"You're bound to the Beteferoce family. Have been from the start. Interfering." There wasn't a lot of heat behind the word. But even so ...
"It was my job, my calling. You know that." The reason he'd been sent here from the Fae lands.
Micah grunted. "I'd say I don't believe in callings, but I'm a doctor and have been one through all my lifetimes."
"Exactly. We both have ours." It was amazing how just sitting next to Micah, having a conversation, made him feel rejuvenated. The pleasure at Micah staying to have a simple conversation with him overshadowed everything else right now. "All your brothers have their bondeds now. They're all together."
Micah snorted and didn't quite roll his eyes at Corryn's words. "You made sure of that. I guess they're all happy, and that's what counts."
"Is that so bad? For them to be happy? For me to do what I was brought here to do?"
"Is that all you were brought here to do?" Micah asked. "You keep tabs on us, right? Report back to your kind?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Owned By Fate"
Copyright © 2018 Sean Michael.
Excerpted by permission of Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I truly wanted to love this, I just couldn't. I was super excited about the whole dragon shifter trope and having a fae for a mate, but this just didn't do it for me. There was so much sex and not enough ANYTHING ELSE. I also was completely unimpressed with the dialogue. It was super simplistic and both MC's sounded very uneducated. This one just didn't work for me. Arc provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.