The Dragon's Rebel

The Dragon's Rebel

by Jacqueline Rohrbach

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Overview

Cheron, former rebel leader and newly crowned king, comes to Wren Gardens on a holy mission to free his goddess from exile and bring peace to his kingdom, but he’s distracted by an unholy and very beautiful concubine, Ekos.

Ekos may be more than a simple love slave, though. The King of Wren Gardens seems afraid of the strange and often blasphemous concubine and swears the man is cursed. Cheron agrees, especially when Ekos mocks and taunts Cheron’s sense of honor. But the urge to distance himself from Ekos can’t compete with the desire to remain close. Nor is it as strong as the urges in his body—urges he hasn’t felt in years.

As Cheron tries to refocus on his mission, Ekos throws him off again—this time by offering to help him in his holy quest. Cheron knows he shouldn’t trust a man who’s in the employ of a rival king, particularly not one who seems to know all Cheron’s deepest secrets. But he can’t ignore the signs from the goddess telling him to entwine his fate with this tricky, captivating man.

He prays the signs aren’t simply wishful thinking, manifestations of his very unholy desires. Time is running out, and Cheron is falling deeper for Ekos—and deeper into danger of another betrayal. One that could cost him his life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781950412990
Publisher: Ninestar Press, LLC
Publication date: 06/24/2019
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.67(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

HALF PARTED IN invitation, the concubine's painted red lips teased the possibilities for Cheron's sole benefit, for his sole pleasure, for his sole use. At least that was the intended impression, but who knew the actual number of men the concubine had truly pleasured? Many, Cheron assumed. Undeniably gorgeous, the pampered little house pet had all the markings of a palace favorite. Jewels hung from his earlobes, fine silks concealed his thin but muscular frame, and his body had been rubbed down with musky oils. Minus the golden, diamond-studded collar at his throat, he appeared to be a member of court.

"Is Ekos not to your taste, Majesty? He is personal stock, in case you are worried. No low-born has touched him."

The emphasis had Cheron grinding his teeth. While Sinnac politely used the proper title while addressing him, there was always a lilt to his pronunciation, a gentle reminder that Cheron had only recently became a king. Before, he'd been a lowly soldier — a servant. To men like Sinnac, men who'd been born into power, he would never be anything other than a lucky usurper playacting at greatness.

Sinnac continued, "Perhaps His Majesty would like to see him from a different angle?"

King Sinnac tilted the concubine's face upward to give Cheron a better look. Ekos lowered his crystal-blue eyes demurely, as was proper, but Cheron swore he saw a flash of mocking defiance in the depths before his lashes lowered. In a second, the brazen glare vanished. Ekos bowed his head, allowing his golden-yellow hair to fall over his shoulders. The posture gave Cheron a clear view of the concubine's long back and the enticing dip of his ass.

Suppressing his disgust, Cheron kept his response to King Sinnac formal. "He is most pleasing. I am recently sated and do not require sexual services just now, Your Excellence. Perhaps later."

"I heard you Northern men needed no pause between sessions. That you were an insatiable lot." Sinnac, a severe man who resembled a long tendril of smoke with his long white body, steel-gray hair, and gray eyes, raised his bushy eyebrows and took a drag from his hookah. Foul-smelling mist coiled around his head, momentarily canceling out the masculine, sweet smell of the concubine's body oils.

Cheron gave the characterization a breathy laugh. "I'm afraid all men must submit to biology."

"Of course. Of course."

Truthfully, Cheron's carnal needs hadn't been satisfied recently or even in the past year. His aversion to touching Ekos had nothing to do with lack of desire. Perhaps the young concubine served freely now, but at some point in his life, he'd been brought here in chains and trained in the arts of pleasure. The very thought made Cheron's skin crawl. Not too long ago, he'd been enslaved under the reign of a cruel king who raped and tortured to stay in power. He had no intentions of following the same path.

After he took control of Broken Maw, servants continued to exist, but they were compensated for their work. No one was compelled to offer sexual services. Those who sold themselves demanded money, certainly, but also equal pleasure. Ekos's circumstances were much different.

Sinnac, as if stressing those differences, commanded the concubine to attend to Cheron's needs. "Show our guest your skills, my pet. Seduce him."

The concubine pouted. In a spoiled voice, he said, "My treasure, I do not believe he wants me."

A hard glint in his eye, Sinnac returned, "Nonsense. Help him settle in to Wren Gardens. I'll not have my guests frustrated. And if the rumors I hear are true, he is quite congested with lust."

Gossip between courts wasn't uncommon. Certainly, Cheron heard his fair share of stories from Sinnac's lands, especially tales of the financial troubles of Wren Gardens. It didn't upset Cheron to learn he was the subject of discussion among Sinnac's people, but his temperature rose at being so directly contradicted by another monarch.

"What do you know of my frustration, Excellency?"

His laughter croaked as he took another puff from the hookah. "I hear you haven't had any pleasure since Aethel. His betrayal must still sting, yes?"

Honesty roughened his voice to an almost inaudible, harsh whisper. "Betrayal burns more than it stings, Excellency. Afterward, the smoke blinds us."

Sinnac raised an eyebrow. "Dramatic. Betrayal also chokes us, apparently, though I heard your lover made good kindling for fire."

Cheron swallowed down the memory before it overwhelmed him. Sometimes, in the dead of night, he still woke to the sound of his lover's screams as he twisted on the pyre and the king's executioner's grim pronouncement that justice had been done. Now that Cheron had overthrown the king in a successful rebellion, there would be no such burnings. Never again.

Cheron kept his voice level. "His crime was nowhere near as severe as the punishment."

"Hm," Sinnac responded. Supposedly, the price for his displeasure ran higher. This marked Cheron's first time visiting Wren Gardens, but his father told tales of a ruler obsessed with revenge to the point of madness. If the stories were true, Sinnac's gardens grew on human blood.

Cheron tried to smile. "At any rate, that is in the past."

"Well, then. My pet can make you forget the traitor existed. Perhaps he can make you forget your own treason."

It would be unwise to answer the bait, so Cheron kept quiet on the matter. "I have no doubt of Ekos's skills, but they are wasted on me at the present."

"We'll see." Sinnac waved his graceful fingers, an order for Ekos to proceed.

The concubine's crystal-blue eyes lowered again. Looking into their depths was akin to jumping into ice-cold water. One could drown, but he'd feel the sting of cold as he sank. Just the same, Cheron barely kept from gasping out loud as Ekos's long fingers stroked the outer folds of the long robe he wore. Beneath the clothes, his body was taut, ready for a lover's touch.

"Majesty," Ekos simpered, his full, round mouth set in a pout. "I can't please you through so many layers of clothing."

In Wren Gardens, sex servants weren't allowed to remove the clothing of nobility. Such a task was reserved for only the most trusted of servants, those who'd been with households for generations. Poisons that seeped through the skin were common here; the precaution made sense.

Ekos's own dress confused Cheron. Station required servants to wear only thin scraps of fabric that advertised their wares and marked them as slaves. The concubine was swathed nearly head to toe in a loose-fitting, semitransparent silken frock that was embroidered along the hem by a skilled hand. Somehow, this enticed Cheron's interests far better than any scant loincloth.

As if sensing his increasing desires, the concubine formed his full mouth into an aware smirk. The arrogance took Cheron aback and made him worry for the concubine's safety. The man's voice was strong and confident when he said, "Perhaps His Majesty would like to undress me first?" Sinnac guffawed at Cheron's horrified expression. "Forgive Ekos, my royal brother. He is overeager to prove his affections."

Once again, Cheron ignored the overt slight. For now, Cheron had to be content another monarch had even stooped to meet with him. Smiling, he said, "He hasn't been tested already?"

Sinnac's countenance darkened. Without thinking, Cheron had insulted the other man's virility, which he touted with great pride. In the short time Cheron had been a guest at Wren Gardens, Sinnac boasted as many as fifty lovers, all of whom couldn't get enough of their lord and master.

"My apologies, Excellency." Cheron spread his hands in contrition. "I understand your prowess is legendary."

Sniffing, Sinnac got to his knees and began undoing the knot keeping his robe together. Seconds later, he was nearly naked except for his white linen undergarments. Covered in a network of impressive scars, his body flaunted a lifetime of war. "Turn around," he commanded Ekos.

Immediately, Ekos obeyed. Cheron swore he saw a flash of disgust in the man's crystal-blue eyes. Soon enough, the meaningless and practiced smile fell back into place. The young man dipped forward, raising his hips. "Enter if you dare," he mocked.

Sinnac growled at the challenge.

Stomach lurching, Cheron realized the other monarch's intent. Baring witness to rape immediately quashed his previous desires. He knew it was a typical practice in Wren Gardens, but Cheron failed to control a wave of pity. This was no way to treat another human being.

"Excellency," Cheron said, interrupting the looming sexual encounter. "I have been an ungracious guest. I would love to indulge in Ekos's sweet attentions privately. But how can I enjoy him if you put me to shame? Will he even consider me adequate after you?"

"I'm sure I would, Majesty," Ekos softly assured him. "A man as magnificent as you must be bliss to touch."

Sinnac ran his hands up and down the length of the concubine's body, slapping and prodding as he went, but eventually sat back against the cushions without penetrating, much to Cheron's relief.

His gaze hooded, almost fully concealed, Sinnac said, "Please retire to your quarters, Majesty. We'll attend to matters of state after dinner. I will have Ekos sent to your rooms. Treat him gently. I paid a high price for him."

As equals, they stood and formally bowed. The concubine, head still bent toward the ground, his expression concealed by a long flow of honey hair, remained prostrated. His fists clenched and unclenched. When he lifted his head, he smiled serenely and said, "You have yet to pay the full price for me, Excellency."

CHAPTER 2

CHERON PRACTICED WHAT to say on his way to the chamber. He'd offer the young man alcohol, the strongest on reserve, and lavish a few expensive treats on him. He'd compliment the beauty of his body, the lush swell of his lips, and possibly his intellect if he proved good at games. With any luck, the concubine would pass out, and Cheron could claim to have possessed him. Before he could guard his tongue and keep on script, Cheron blurted, "I won't hurt you."

He couldn't suppress a wave of pity. Someone had bound Ekos to the bed. His delicate wrists pinched in the rope's coils. Flashes of red marred his pale skin where he'd clearly struggled to free himself. The same collar, made of gold and diamonds, still graced his throat. Far from enticing, the man's eyes now had a wild gleam. His chest rose and fell beneath the silken tunic. His undergarments had been removed, and the bulge of his sex lay flat between his thighs. Unaroused.

"I won't hurt you," Cheron repeated.

Ekos didn't respond, but his breathing evened out. "Do what you came here to do, rebel."

Cheron spoke as though he were calming a spooked mare. "I didn't come here to hurt you, only to get you drunk. Would you like me to untie you?"

"Yes," Ekos said in a way that suggested, obviously.

When Cheron sat on the bed, Ekos involuntarily flinched away, but he tried to hide the fearful gesture behind a fierce snarl. Cheron clucked at the noise but understood the vehemence. Placed in a similar situation, he would have seethed and turned to murderous intentions to escape. To preserve the man's modesty, Cheron used one of his personal furs scattered on the bed to drape the concubine's midsection. This calmed Ekos enough for some of the ice to melt from his crystal-blue eyes. There was a faint splash of warmth. Not enough to dip a toe in but encouraging nonetheless.

"There," Cheron said once he removed the final binding. "You are free."

"Not quite that," Ekos snarled back. Seeing Cheron purse his lips at the harsh tone, the concubine added, "But thank you for this, at least."

Cheron shook off his previous ire. He had no right to expect politeness from a man in Ekos's situation. "Are you hungry?" Frowning, Ekos rubbed his wrists. "I'd eat an entire cow if you'd let me."

Small in frame and narrow in waist, Ekos didn't look like he could eat a grape, let alone an entire farm animal. Cheron said, "None of those here, I'm afraid. But I do have some lamb if you'd like."

Moments later, Ekos gnawed on a meaty leg with rigorous greed. Cheron was forced to swallow his previous assumptions regarding the man's appetites as his entire week's food supply vanished down the concubine's gullet.

Cheron, his voice dry with amusement, said, "By the twin moons, you are quite a bit different outside of Sinnac's chamber."

"I suspect we have that in common, rebel."

Coming from the servant's mouth, the insult didn't have the same sting. Cheron, a solider by birth, was accustomed to how men talked about those in power behind their backs. In some ways, it was refreshing to hear his role as usurper so frankly addressed.

"So you've heard how I came to power?"

"Indeed. Who hasn't heard the tale of Cheron the Devourer, Scourge of the Green Sea, Deflowerer of Maidens, Dragon of the Broken Maw?"

The odd emphasis on the word dragon caught Cheron's attention, but he didn't comment. "Is my reputation as bad as all that?"

"Savage. And I must say you fit the part. You're very much the big, hulking bear."

War hadn't weaved a pleasant tapestry from the threads of Cheron's face. His features, though angular and firm, were marred by a long, jagged scar that trenched from his temple to his chin. But he knew his stature to be impressive. Broadchested, tall, he cut an imposing figure on the battlefront. Men flocked to his standard, eager to spill blood for the Dragon of Broken Maw.

Helpless as he was, Ekos didn't seem bothered by Cheron's physicality. Rather than keep a leery eye on him the way most other men did, the concubine met his gaze directly and with an odd humorous glint. Those full lips of his continually pulled up in a satisfied half smirk, as though the man had received news of his greatest enemy's demise.

Goading a reaction, Cheron said, "And you look the part of a whore. You're very much the pouting, simpering pet who'd topple over in a silken pile after lifting a feather."

Rather than bristle at the insult, Ekos chuckled. The melody of the noise was light and musical. The humor didn't ebb from his eyes. If anything, more flooded in, turning them from ice to air.

Ekos poured them both some wine. Elegant hands skipped right over the mugs, comfortable in Cheron's monstrous paws, and plucked up two flutes with slender, easily broken necks. He filled one only a quarter way full and used two fingers to push the crystal glasses in Cheron's direction.

Brow knitted in a manner Cheron knew made him appear as a contemplative savage, he asked the concubine, "Are you mocking me?"

The half smirk twitched upward, showing Ekos's increasing amusement Ekos said, "Maybe. Or maybe I want to see if those preposterously large hands of yours can handle tender burdens. You said you wanted to get me drunk. To what end? Can you not perform if your lover isn't inebriated, Majesty?"

Adding the title to the insult, the first the concubine had used it outside of Sinnac's chamber, chaffed Cheron's already frayed nerves. He didn't have much use for honorifics, but he disliked his new status being the butt of jokes. He'd prefer the man address him as an equal rather than mock his title. "You truly are testing me."

"That doesn't answer the question."

Ekos took a sip of his wine and gestured for Cheron to do the same. He studied the delicate glass, so tiny and frail, and thought of how silly he'd look sipping from it. "I'm not thirsty. And I had no intention of pleasuring myself tonight. I wanted to get you drunk so you would sleep and leave me in peace."

"Hm, and why is that?"

Ekos guarded his expression and shut off the light of humor shining there. Surprising himself, Cheron admitted he missed the smug playfulness and hated the dark suspicion. He enjoyed the view of the sky, limitless and breezy, more than he did sinking in ice water. But could he be honest with this man who served the court of Wren Gardens? Here, sexual slavery was the norm. Denouncing the practice as barbaric to the wrong person would put him at odds with the entire court.

Cheron lied. "Because you are not to my taste."

Ekos's slender fingers toyed with the wine glass, pushing it around on the table. Through narrowed eyes, he considered the response. Finally, after taking a slight sip, he passed judgment. "I don't think that's the truth. Tell me, why didn't you want me? Wasn't I all you desired in a lover?"

"Are you so eager to be abused?"

"Curious word choice there. Abused."

Trying to play Ekos's astute observation off as unimportant, Cheron snapped back, "I don't sit around much and think on my word choice."

"That I believe. You don't play a very good game do you, Majesty?"

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Dragon's Rebel"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Jacqueline Rohrbach.
Excerpted by permission of NineStar Press, LLC.
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.

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