Darcy was floating on a cloud of pure passion. Everywhere he touched, Warrick was leaving a mark on her, forever changing her. She could feel it through her skin and muscle, through bone and into her soul. It was as if he was changing her. And she welcomed it…
Her power is a blessing.
Born on the Isle of Skye, Darcy is a beautiful woman of many gifts. Fortune-telling is her forte, and she remains the only Druid who could unlock the secretsand desiresof a Dragon King. His name is Warrick. And now that Darcy's seen into his dragon heart, nothing will ever be the same…
His passion is a curse.
Warrick never intended to put Darcy in harm's way. But ever since she revealed a shocking truth, Darcy has been hunted by the Dark Fae, who want to use her powers for their own evil purposes. Now it's up to Warrick to do whatever it takes to keep the woman who sets his soul on fire safe. But protecting Darcy means putting himselfand his entire racein jeopardy. Is his desperate longing for one woman worth the risk of losing everything…for eternity? Dive into Soul Scorched, the sizzling next novel in the Dark Kings series from New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant.
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 the author of 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 Dark Warrior and Dark Sword series novels 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.
Read an Excerpt
Dreagan Industries October
Warrick reclined in the overstuffed chair, his feet propped on the stool before him as he randomly looked through Facebook pages, Twitter posts, and Instagram pictures.
He was constantly amazed at the brilliant and idiotic things humans imparted about their lives. For some reason, the mortals truly believed everyone wanted to know every detail of their lives like when they got up and what food they chose to eat.
Warrick didn't understand this need humans felt to convey such mundane intricacies. Nor could he fathom why he looked at their posts almost every day.
He clicked on a link that took him to YouTube where he watched a video of a kitten attempting to jump from a table to the windowsill, only to miss by several inches and falling.
To his horror, he watched it three times — smiling each time.
There was a kind of lull at Dreagan, and had been for a few weeks. It began once Rhys broke the spell preventing him from shifting into dragon form. It was their true form, and it had been the worst sort of hell for his friend.
Rhys also found love in the arms of Lily, a human. But he wasn't the only Dragon King to do so. Hal, Guy, Banan, Kellan, Tristan, and Laith had also fallen in love with mortals. Kiril was the only one among them to choose a Fae as his mate.
Thinking of the Fae turned Warrick's thoughts to Rhi, the Light Fae who had loved — and lost — a Dragon King. No matter what Rhi said, the Kings knew she still carried love in her heart for her King.
If only the bastard would realize what he was missing and take Rhi for his own once again. The Light Fae had helped the Kings more than any other ally they had. And since the Dragon Kings were the strongest beings on this realm, they had few allies.
Warrick went to Rhi's Facebook page — The Real Rhi. He chuckled when he saw yet another picture of her nails. She loved nail art, and she was constantly having her nails painted, changing the colors almost daily.
This photo was of her nails done in racing stripes using OPI's Ford Mustang colors. He laughed at the color names that Rhi always mentioned. The base of her nails was a hot pepper red named Race Red, and the two white stripes running down her nails was called Angel with a Lead Foot.
Rhi never posted a picture of her face. She, like most Fae, was fascinated by the humans. Both the Light and Dark Fae craved being around them. Where the Light would have sex with them once only, the Dark would kidnap mortals and use them until they drained them of their souls, making the humans dependent on sex with the Dark just to stay alive.
It was one of the many reasons the Dragon Kings had gone to war with the Fae. That war lasted for countless decades with the Dragon Kings finally winning. For all of that, it looked as if they were about to go back to war with the Dark Fae.
At least this time the Light Fae were on the side of the Kings.
Warrick didn't want to go back to war, but there was no denying it now. Not after all the Dark had done to the Kings and humans. Then there was the matter of Ulrik.
He was a King, or he had been. Everything had changed in one day, shattering the peaceful world they had lived in with the mortals. All because Ulrik's human lover tried to betray him.
To this day Warrick didn't know how Constantine had discovered what the female had tried to do, but then again, the King of Kings had his ways of gaining information. It was lucky Con learned of her treachery before she could put her plan into action.
Warrick had never questioned any of Con's decisions. When the King of Kings sent Ulrik on a mission and called the rest of them to find the human, Warrick was one of the first to Con's side.
He was also one of the first to thrust his sword into the mortal. It's what she deserved for even thinking of betraying Ulrik. Ulrik hadn't just sheltered her, clothed her, fed her, and loved her. He was going to bind himself to her, which would have ensured she become immortal and live as long as he did.
The Kings were doing Ulrik a favor in taking the mortal's life. Or so Warrick thought until Ulrik returned. To this day, thousands of years later, Warrick still wasn't sure if Ulrik was angrier at them for killing his woman, or Con for going behind his back.
Either way, the kind, laughing King of Silvers changed. Ulrik became hard, grim, and relentless in his destruction of humans.
He had killed without thought, without conscience. His Silvers, some of the largest dragons, were right by his side.
Since the Kings were supposed to protect the mortals, Con had no choice but to stop Ulrik. Except the humans began to kill dragons.
Warrick still dreamed of those days. The angry roars of the dragons, the bellows of fury from the humans. Then there were the dying cries of the dragons, and the screams of pain from the mortals.
But that wasn't the worst.
The worst was when the Kings had to open the dragon bridge and send their dragons to another realm. Warrick had never felt so empty as he watched his Jades flying away.
The Dragon Kings then disappeared, hiding in the mountains on Dreagan to sleep away a few centuries. The area pulsed with their dragon magic, preventing any human from settling on their land or accidentally finding them.
After that, the Dragon Kings hid in plain sight among mortals, only taking to the skies in their true form at night or during a thunderstorm when no one could see them.
Unlike the other Dragon Kings, Warrick had a different view of the beings that shared their realm. He didn't hate the humans for what happened. However, he wished he didn't sympathize with them or understand that they feared the power and magic of the Kings.
Warrick wanted to hate the mortals, but he found them interesting, fascinating. Their lives were so short that they lived each day to the fullest. Their bodies so frail, but still they did daring, dangerous things. Nothing held them back. Some were astonishingly intelligent, while others captivated him with their works of art — be it painting, music, dance, or singing.
Humans were inferior to Kings in their magic, mortality, and senses, and yet Warrick was enchanted by them.
Oh, there were a few mortals who had magic, like the Druids. But Druid magic couldn't come close to matching dragon magic.
Warrick went to another Web site that had entertainment news about Hollywood's actors. His addiction to the site was one he kept closely guarded. He loved learning who was dating who, which actor got what role, and anything else he could find. Especially anything about Usaeil, the queen of the Light Fae who had been masquerading as an actress for several years now.
He was deep into a write-up on a new couple alert when there was a quick knock. His door opened and Ryder poked his head inside. Warrick easily clicked on another tab to hide what he had been reading.
Ryder's blond hair was messy from his fingers running through it. That was an indication that he had been diligently monitoring the roomful of computers and found something interesting.
"Busy?" Ryder asked.
Warrick closed the laptop and motioned him inside. "You look wired."
"I am." Ryder's smile was large, his hazel eyes wide as he walked into the room and shut the door behind him. "I thought Darius would recruit you to wake up everyone with him."
Warrick still couldn't believe Con wanted every Dragon King woken, but then again, they needed all Kings to fight Ulrik and the Dark Fae. "I'm no' exactly the one sent when things need to be achieved with a gentle hand."
"You're mellow, Warrick. You just prefer to be on your own."
"Exactly." Not to mention he had a hard time talking to others — even Kings. "I gather Darius is waking the others by himself then?"
Ryder shrugged. "I caught a glimpse of dark blue scales in the clouds. Banan may be helping out."
"You didna come in here for small talk," Warrick stated. He was now curious as to why Ryder would seek him out. "What is it?"
Ryder leaned back against the door. "You were on patrol duty when Con called the last meeting, so you doona know that Kellan, Rhys, Dimitri, and Laith are following Ulrik."
Warrick set aside the laptop on the floor and dropped his feet to the ground as he sat forward. The calm around Dreagan had been great for the females mated to the Kings, but it was anything but for the rest of them. The Kings were restless and edgy, waiting on the next attack as they tried to get ahead of Ulrik, the Dark Fae, and MI5.
"Con has had Ulrik watched for centuries," Warrick said. "He's no' going to kill Ulrik now, or he'd be the one following him."
"Aye, but Con is tired of waiting. We all know there's going to be a battle between Con and Ulrik. It's coming sooner rather than later."
Warrick cocked his head to the side. "You doona want them to fight."
"Nay." Ryder sighed and shook his head. "I may have reacted just as Ulrik did, had our positions been reversed. Who's to say that any of us wouldna have attacked the humans when we discovered the woman we loved was set to betray us?"
"Con gave Ulrik the chance to stop killing the humans."
Ryder's gaze lowered to the floor. "When we have that much anger, that much need for retribution flowing through our veins, could any of us have set it all aside and forgotten what was done? Nay, I doona believe even Con could have."
"Con likes to have everyone think he has a cool head at all times, but I've seen the anger in his black eyes before."
"My point is that I doona think the answer was to banish Ulrik. We killed his woman. It was his right to confront her. Then we went against him when he wanted to wipe the realm of humans. How did we repay him after that? We stripped him of his magic, prevented him from shifting into dragon form, and locked away four of his Silvers in our mountain. And we're surprised when he sets his sights on taking Con down?"
Warrick got to his feet. "At any time Ulrik could've stopped what he was doing. At any time he could've realized aligning with the Dark was the worst thing to do. But he didna just come after us, he targeted certain humans. The worst was when he mixed Dark magic with his and cursed Rhys. That's unforgiveable."
"Aye." Ryder ran a hand through his hair. "We're all to blame, Warrick. It's no' just Ulrik's fault he's like he is. Honestly, I'm surprised it's taken him so long to come after Con. I think I'd have done it much sooner."
Warrick frowned as Ryder opened the door to leave. "Did you need me for something?"
"I did actually," Ryder said as he halted and looked over his shoulder. "Con knows you like to work alone so he wants you to go to Edinburgh. We have reason to believe Ulrik is visiting someone."
"Why do we care who Ulrik sees if it's no' the Dark?"
Ryder blew out a breath. "There's a verra good chance it's the Druid who was able to unbind his magic."
That would be a huge achievement for the Kings if they could find the Druid and possibly prevent her from unbinding the rest of Ulrik's magic. "I'll be ready then."
Ryder left without another word, the door closing softly behind him. There was a growing divide among the Kings, one that hadn't been there since before Ulrik was banished.
When Ulrik was at war with the humans, there were many Kings who had sided with him. It was only through Con's constant working to unite all the Dragon Kings that he eventually won everyone over except Ulrik.
The battle between the two former best friends — Con and Ulrik — had been building for millennia. If Ulrik killed Con, then Ulrik would take over as King of Kings.
Ulrik had been the only one who could've challenged Con all those ages ago, but Ulrik hadn't been interested. Especially since it was a fight to the death, and neither relished the idea of killing the other.
Banishment, along with walking around only in human form for thousands of millennia, tended to change a person.
Through the years, Warrick saw Ulrik from afar on occasions, but last month was the first time he had an up close encounter with the King of Silvers since before Ulrik's banishment. Not only had Ulrik appeared cruel and hard, there was a darkness about him that hinted at a barely leashed beast within that he was waiting to let loose.
Worse was that Warrick saw firsthand that Ulrik had somehow managed to get his magic back. He wasn't at full strength yet. When that happened — all hell would break loose.
Darcy sat straight up in bed, her chest heaving from her gasping breaths. She clawed at the hair that clung to her face with her sweat and blinked several times to make sure the dragon who had been bearing down on her with its mouth open wasn't real.
She hunched over and buried her face in her hands, her entire body shaking. It was the same dream from two days earlier. For the past month, the dream kept recurring every few days. There was no rhyme or reason to when the dreams came or when they didn't. All Darcy knew was that the dragon was after her.
She lifted her face to peek out her window. Dawn had arrived. She took several deep breaths before she threw off the covers and rose to walk to the bathroom. After a quick shower, she pinned up her hair and pulled on a sweater, jeans, and boots before she walked to the kitchen of her flat. A quick inhale of the smell of coffee brought some semblance of a smile to her face.
Darcy poured the dark liquid into a tall thermal container and screwed on the top. She put on her coat and pulled her purse over her head, settling it across her body. As she made her way to the door, she grabbed an apple from the basket.
She walked the few blocks to work slowly. She wasn't in a mad dash like others in the city heading to their corporate jobs.
By the time she reached the black door of her shop, she had finished the apple. Darcy opened the door and stepped inside. She shut and locked the door behind her. It was a few hours yet before she would officially open, but she always came in early.
She walked past the round table painted black set in the middle of the floor. All around the front of the small store were decorations that people expected to see, like a crystal ball and crystals of various sizes and colors hanging from the ceiling.
Simple was best, and it was what she liked. Darcy didn't put up any brightly lit signs announcing that she read palms. People always found her, and her clients returned again and again.
Although she could read palms anywhere, she preferred the place kept darkened. So the lights were dimmed and candles lit. The walls were painted a dark purple, and the hardwood floor was covered with black rugs of various sizes and shapes.
She walked through two sets of dark hanging curtains to the back of the store that held boxes of different tarot cards, runes stones, and books about reading the tarots and runes, as well as palm reading. She made the bulk of her money from her clients, but she made a nice chunk with her online sales.
This was the place she called her mini-warehouse because of all the boxes. She had a small desk that housed her computer and printer. All her shipping supplies were in cabinets hanging on the wall above her desk, which meant it was as neat as it was going to get.
Darcy hung her purse on the coatrack, and her coat soon followed. She tapped a key on the computer keyboard to wake it up as she walked to the back door.
She quickly threw open the door and sighed. This was the place she craved to be. This is what the money from her palm readings and online sales allowed her. She was finally able to find some semblance of comfort since the dream woke her.
The conservatory was long and narrow, going back as far as it could until it reached the building behind hers. Darcy took a deep breath, the air filled with the fragrance of dozens of flowers. This is what calmed her. It was the place she went to ease her mind and find peace that eluded her out in the world of crazies.
Darcy didn't bother with gloves. She pushed the sleeves of her sweater up her arms and put on the apron that held the tools she would need to tend to her flowers.
She looked over the tables of plants to the planters in the back that held the tallest flowers. Then she walked to the table to her left.
One by one Darcy lovingly touched their leaves and inhaled their fragrance while she checked the soil and pruned as needed. She went down the first row, moving to her right until she reached the end.
She was at the middle table working her way back to the front when she noticed the Scottish primrose she had planted from a seed. It had sprouted well enough, but yesterday it began to look as if it was struggling to live.
Darcy leaned close and cupped her hands around it. She let her magic fill her before she released a small portion of it through her fingers into the plant.
Excerpted from "Soul Scorched"
Copyright © 2015 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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