Passion reaches the boiling point in the third installment of SMOKE AND FIRE (The Dark Kings) from New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant.
He was the other half of her soul…
Kinsey could never get enough of Ryder. His every touch only left her wanting more. But now that she's seen him in his true form, Kinsey's world is rocked to the core. How could she love someone such as this - a man with the heart of a dragon, who breathes smoke and fire?
Read all four parts of this sensational e-serial and look for the full volume of Smoke and Fire in April 2016.
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
Smoke and Fire Part 3
By Donna Grant
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Donna Grant
All rights reserved.
Henry called upon every ounce of his training in order to keep his cool, but nothing worked. He wanted to yell and hit something. Hard.
He stared at a face he knew, but his sister was no longer the same person. MI5 and Ulrik had done their job to perfection. The girl he remembered who always had a dirty joke to tell and who was known for her infectious laughter was gone.
The woman in front of him had been reprogrammed, thoroughly erasing everything that made her special.
"Stop looking at me like that," Esther said from the chair in the middle of the cavern.
Con used his magic to make the room impossible for Esther to leave without Con beside her. So there was no need to tie her. But Con took it one step further and altered the cavern so it looked like an interrogation room instead of a cave.
Henry raised a brow. "Like what?"
"Like you don't know who I am."
She gave him a scathing look. "Do you think it was any different when you went to work for MI5?"
"I know it." He motioned to her. "You've erased all that you were. I didn't."
"Ah, dear brother, that's the rub. Because you did. You think you didn't change, but you're wrong."
Henry wasn't going to get into a debate with her about his life. This was about her. "I did a little digging through my contacts at the agency. You're no longer working for MI5, and haven't been for quite some time."
In response, she merely looked at him, her expression closed.
It's what he would expect from an agent. Henry clasped his hands behind his back. He wanted to ask specifically about Ulrik, but something held him back.
Henry didn't question his instinct. Though there was no doubt Ulrik was her new commander, Henry wasn't going to give her a name to latch onto. With all Henry knew about Ulrik, the Dragon King had most likely given her another name.
And another name was exactly what they needed. Despite Ryder's skill with computers, Ulrik managed to somehow keep anything from being connected to him.
"Who are you working for?" Henry asked.
Esther crossed one leg over the other. Her coat had been removed. She wore a thick taupe sweater and navy pants. If anyone saw her on the street, they wouldn't look twice at her. Just as Henry was able to blend in, Esther worked that trait as well.
"Do you even know who you work for?"
She smiled slightly. "Of course."
"Then why not tell me a name?"
"You're here with these ... things ... and you don't know?"
It was Henry's turn to stare noncommittally. If Esther thought she was good, she was in for a rude awakening. So far Henry had taken it easy on her because she was his sister.
And he began to suspect she expected just such a reaction.
Esther gave him a meaningful look. "You do know who these people are?"
"I do. They're honest and loyal. They're my friends."
"Then you'll go down with them."
The more Esther talked, the more Henry could see she wasn't his sister anymore. Blood was the only thing that bound them now. "You're so sure you'll win."
"I know it."
"Very confident of you. You can say that knowing who my friends are? Unless you don't really know."
Esther made a face. "They're dragons."
"Well, she got one thing right," said a voice Henry had been yearning to hear for weeks.
He whirled around to find Rhi standing behind him. She briefly met his gaze as she walked into the cavern. His heart was pounding, his palms sweating. Rhi was within reach. All he had to do was lift his arm and he could touch her.
He stopped himself before he gave anything away to either Rhi or Esther. It was bad enough he was head over heels in love with Rhi and that every King on Dreagan knew it. Later, he would tell Rhi of his feelings. Once they were alone.
Esther regarded Rhi with a mixture of curiosity and wariness that she hid well, but Henry knew what to look for.
"Your sister. Interesting." Rhi walked around Esther slowly, her gaze never leaving his sister.
Esther waited until Rhi stood in front of her before she asked, "Who are you?"
"You seem to know so much. I thought you'd know."
"I wouldn't be asking if I knew," Esther retorted.
Henry stood to the side so he could see both Rhi and Esther. Rhi appeared as if she'd interrogated others before, and as a Queen's Guard, perhaps she had.
Everything about Rhi made Henry love her more.
Rhi chuckled softly. "I don't think you've quite comprehended just how over your head you are, darlin'."
"Beautiful with an Irish accent. A seductress by the way she holds herself," Esther said as if talking to herself. Then she looked Rhi up and down. "And dresses. I'm guessing you use your body to gain information for those here at Dreagan."
At this, Rhi's smile grew. "That's a fair enough assessment. Except for one fact. I don't work for Con or anyone here. I'm a friend."
"So many friends," Esther said with a bite to her words. "Where were those friends earlier?"
Henry made himself focus on his sister. It was difficult since all he wanted to do was gaze at Rhi. She looked amazing in tall stilettos that had a black heel and a zipper at the back. The shoes had ultra-thin stripes of various colors from her toes to her ankles.
Skinny black pants that skimmed her lithe legs and stopped at her ankles were paired with an orange sweater. It didn't matter what she wore, she was gorgeous.
Rhi glanced at Henry. Then to Esther she said, "You proclaim to know those here on Dreagan. If you truly did, you'd know they don't need friends."
"Then why are you and Henry here?" Esther asked with a cocky smile.
Henry moved to stand beside Rhi. "Because that's what friends do. They don't need me, but I'm here for them. Just as they'd be there for me if I needed them."
Esther shot him a contemptuous glare. "I thought you were smarter than that, big brother."
"I could say the same of you. It seems lying comes easily."
"You should know. You did enough of it through the years."
"I only lied about my assignments and where I was," he argued. "Other than that, I told you the truth."
His sister's smile was mocking. "Another lie."
"It's pointless to tell her anything," Rhi said to Henry. "She's not going to listen."
Henry was in agreement. "What do you suggest?"
"The truth. All of it," she said and waved her hand around the room.
Henry hesitated. "I've only begun to question her."
"Fear is a powerful motivator," Rhi stated and turned her back to Esther. She leaned close to Henry and whispered, "She doesn't fear you."
He knew that all too well, but it was his sister. Henry didn't want to turn her over to Con. He'd seen what Con could do to a person. They were never in any physical pain, but he used everything he could against them to get what he wanted.
A prime example was Grace, who was terrified of thunderstorms, and what did Con have Arian do but use his power to create a vicious storm?
But all of that was better than what humans did to their prisoners when an interrogation took place. Waterboarding, mutilation, drugs, and anything pain-filled they could think of was used.
"No. She doesn't fear me," Henry said blandly.
"Then let's give her someone she will fear."
Henry jerked his head to look at Rhi. "You can't be serious. You really want Con in here?"
Rhi flicked her long black hair over her shoulder and glanced at a corner. "I'm talking about me."
"Don't act so surprised. I'm very good at this," she said with a lift of a black brow.
"No doubt." They needed answers, and Henry obviously wasn't going to be the one getting them. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
A serious light filled Rhi's silver gaze. "Yes. I owe you this."
"Owe me?" There was something in her tone that sent warning bells tolling in Henry's mind.
Rhi took his arm and walked him through the doorway into the tunnel. There she stopped and faced him. "I'd like to talk later. Right now, let me do this."
Talk. That wasn't what he wanted to do at all. Kissing. Now that's what he'd been dreaming about — when he actually slept.
"Henry, you look like hell. Get some rest and eat. You'll feel better," Rhi said, giving him a little push.
He took one step before he halted, a conversation with Con filling his mind. "I don't think it'd be wise for you to interrogate her alone."
"Because Con doesn't trust me?" she asked with a smile. "Way ahead of you, sweet cheeks."
No sooner were the words out of her mouth than Rhys turned the corner and walked toward them.
"Rhi," Rhys said and held out his arms.
The Light Fae threw her arms around his neck. Henry watched the embrace, hating the jealousy that soured him to the point he wanted to physically harm Rhys.
Rhi stepped out of Rhys's arms and turned to Henry. "See? It's all good."
"Henry," Rhys said in a tight voice.
He nodded to the King of the Yellows, noting that the smile was gone from Rhys's face.
"All right then," Rhi said as she widened her eyes and rubbed her hands together. "It's time we got some good intel."
Rhys waited until Rhi was in the cavern with Esther before he took a step closer to Henry. "Your sister willna be harmed."
"I know. I wanted to be the one that she spoke with. I thought she might share with me."
Rhys looked inside the cavern. "You're a good man, Henry. You've done amazing things to help us."
"Why do I get the feeling there's a 'but' coming?"
"Because there is. You're going to find a woman to love you."
Henry felt the fury rumble through him. "I already have."
"She's Fae. There can no' be a relationship. With only one kiss you can no' see anyone but her. If you take her to your bed, you'll never be able to have sex with anyone else."
"I don't want anyone else."
"Dammit man," Rhys said as he moved closer, his voice no more than a whisper. "If she has sex with you more than once, it'll begin to kill you. Can you no' understand that?"
Henry had never wanted anything like he wanted Rhi. "I'd gladly die to be in her arms once."
Rhys raked a hand through his long, wavy, dark hair. "You willna see reason."
"There's nothing to see." Soon they would understand that. He and Rhi belonged together. They were perfect.
And she wanted him. She'd declared that when she kissed him. The Kings were just envious because she was finally getting over the jackass King who'd allowed her to get away.
Now that Rhi had him, she didn't need a Dragon King. That made Henry smile. He would be all she ever needed, just as she was all he'd ever wanted.
Henry turned on his heel. It didn't even faze him that Guy was standing behind him. Henry rammed his shoulder into Guy's as he passed.
Yes, very soon Rhi was going to be his.CHAPTER 2
"We've got a problem," Rhys whispered in her ear.
Rhi blew out a long breath as she felt her watcher move from her side to the corner. She'd hoped the Kings would be able to talk some sense into Henry, but the human was in love with her.
Except it wasn't real love. It was an imitation of the real thing, something a Fae forged within a mortal because the humans had no defense.
"I know. I'm going to talk to him," she said.
Rhys gave her a look that said it was going to take much more than talk with Henry.
Esther chose that moment to clear her throat. Rhi faced the human and studied the straight back, impassive face, and confidence of Esther North. If the mortal thought she knew what was going on, Rhi was about to blow her mind.
"Oh. Are you ready?" Rhi asked in a sickly sweet voice, a smile on her face.
Esther's smug expression intensified. "Henry is one of the best at what he does. If he couldn't get anything out of me, neither can you."
Rhi looked at her nails, admiring the black polish that covered her entire nail. From nail tip and fading toward her cuticles was an orange glitter polish called Orange You Fantastic. It went wonderfully with her sweater and shoes.
There was nothing like matching all over. Including the orange and black lace bra and panties she wore. Rhi never felt sexier — or more put together — than when she matched.
"I'm definitely what you mortals call a girly-girl," Rhi said as she lowered her hand to her side and smiled once more at Esther.
She could feel her watcher's grin as well. If only she knew what he actually looked like.
Rhi's smile grew when Esther allowed a momentary lapse of uncertainty to creep into her hazel eyes.
"I do like my clothes and getting my nails done. I go often," Rhi said matter-of-factly.
Rhys grunted and crossed his arms over his chest. "Nearly every day."
Rhi threw him a wink. Then she focused on Esther. "The thing is, Henry is very good at what he does. So good that he was able to stop some very bad people within MI5. I helped as well. But that doesn't change the fact you're his little sister. It's part of who is he that he wants to protect you. He can't do that and interrogate you. Which is why we're here."
Esther lifted her chin. "I'm not going to tell you anything."
With a snap of his fingers, Rhys removed the magic Con had used to mask the cavern.
Esther blinked and took in the stone floor and walls, the torches lighting the area, and the dragons etched into the granite.
"Dreagan," Rhi said with a nod. "From the moment I first saw this place thousands of years ago, I felt the magic of it. It's a special place, and not just because the Dragon Kings call it home. It's unique because of the magic that flows through the ground and water and air. All the world used to feel like this, but now only Dreagan and a few distinct places manage to hold such magic."
"What did you give me?" Esther demanded.
Rhi held out a hand and another chair appeared. She dragged it to Esther and set it directly in front of her. Then Rhi sat. She looked Esther in the eye and said, "You've been given no drug or herbs. The room was cloaked in magic so you wouldn't know where you were. You've not been restrained because you can't leave this cavern unless Con is with you."
Esther jumped up and made a dash for the doorway. Rhi sat back and crossed one leg over the other, exchanging a look with Rhys. A heartbeat later, Esther let out a strangled cry as she was thrown backward at the doorway.
"Come resume your seat," Rhi said. "It's time we began our questioning."
It took a moment for Esther to get to her feet and make her way back to the chair. She sat and pulled off the wig. Then she ran her fingers through her brown hair.
Rhi then said, "You've chosen your side in this war, and sadly, you've chosen poorly."
"Anyone on the opposing side would say that."
"True," Rhi said with a shrug. "However, I'm speaking the truth. It's a certainty because I choose to be a part of this. I've seen both sides, Esther. You've only gotten a portion of the reality."
Some of Esther's confidence returned. "And what is the truth?"
"I prefer that we discuss who you're working for first. Once I get all the information we need, then I'll tell you all that you want to know."
Rhi raised her brows and blinked before cocking her head to the side. "No? I thought that was fair."
"I'm not going to tell you anything, but I do want to know what you are."
"What," Rhi repeated with a smile. She turned her head to look at Rhys. "Methinks she's catching on quick."
Rhys chuckled and said, "Doona get out of hand."
Rhi stood and walked around the back of her chair to lean her forearms on it. "What am I? That's something I seem to be answering quite a lot recently. It's a fair enough question, I suppose."
She stopped herself from looking to the corner at her watcher. It was becoming more and more difficult for her not to look his way. If she wasn't careful, others would begin to suspect.
"Answer me this, Esther," Rhi said. "Do you really believe the men here are dragons?"
"Yes," she replied immediately.
"Do you believe they are the only other beings on this earth?"
Again Esther said, "Yes."
"That's ... very naïve. And you're very wrong actually. Though to be fair, most humans are as mistaken. I've showed you who I was from the moment I walked in. I did magic, spoke of mortals, and even mentioned immortality. Is your brain unable to comprehend what's right before you?"
Esther's face lost a little color. "I thought the dragons were only male."
Rhi squeezed her eyes shut briefly, trying for patience. "They are. I'm not a Dragon King. I'm a Light Fae."
"Wh ... what?"
Rhi turned to Rhys. "By that reaction, I'm inclined to believe she's not had any encounters with Fae, much less Dark."
Excerpted from Smoke and Fire Part 3 by Donna Grant. Copyright © 2016 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kinsey has finally succumbed to her desire for Ryder, but can she forgive him for breaking her heart years before? This part grabbed me just as quickly as the others. I was glad that Kinsey decided to give into her desire to be with Ryder again. I also liked the continued overall series plot happening in the book. I highly recommend.