The stakes are raised and the passion burns hotter in one of the most anticipated Dark Kings novel from New York Times bestseller Donna Grant.
The King of Silvers. Cunning, perceptive, resourceful. Determined. Banished from Dreagan eons ago because of a betrayal that shattered his entire existence, his sole focus in life is to exact revenge against the Dragon Kings. A formidable fighter with centuries of rage on his side, Ulrik will stop at nothing to take down those who exiled him.
He has been alone, trusting no one for thousands of years. Until she walks into his life. He should not yearn for her, but there is no stopping the fiercely burning attraction. When he’s with her, he isn’t thinking of war or revenge. He only thinks of her, craves her. Burns for her. But soon he will be forced to choose: Will he continue on his course of destruction or will he be able to set aside his vengeance to save the woman who risked everything for him.
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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
Revenge could make you do things you swore you'd never do. At least that's what Ulrik told himself as he stood in the massive cavern that held his sleeping Silvers and faced off against Con.
"I'd say this is a surprise, but I'd be lying," the King of Dragon Kings said.
Ulrik looked over the man he'd once considered his brother. Con's blond waves were tousled. His black eyes were as impassive as his face. He wore an impeccable black suit. The white dress shirt beneath was free of wrinkles. Ulrik noticed the gold that flashed at Con's wrists. The gold dragon head cufflinks that he was never without.
"Is this where you challenge me?" Con asked.
Ulrik had fully expected to do just that. Taking over as King of Kings had been his goal from the moment Con banished him from Dreagan all those thousands of years before.
"No' this time."
Con raised a brow. "If you're no' here to challenge me, then why are you here?"
"To warn you." Though Ulrik had begun to wonder if he was losing his sanity again. Why the hell was he there?
There was a long pause before Con asked, "About?" "Mikkel."
"Ah, Mikkel," Con said and put his hands into his pants' pockets. "Your uncle. How is it I doona remember him?"
Ulrik shrugged, not wanting to talk about family history. "He kept to himself mostly. He was a loner."
"How is Mikkel here?"
Ulrik turned and walked to the four caged Silver dragons. They slept peacefully, but it would only take one word from him to wake them. How he missed seeing the sun reflect off their silver scales.
"The simple answer is that he didna go over the dragon bridge with the others," Ulrik replied. "The complicated answer is that because he remained, there were a few seconds after you bound my magic that he became a Dragon King."
Concern lined Con's face, and his eyes briefly closed. Finally, Ulrik found something that could shake Con's cool exterior. But his joy was short-lived because Ulrik knew the ramifications of his uncle remaining behind.
"That doesna make sense," Con said with a shake of his head.
Ulrik put his hand through the bars and laid it upon the silver scales of the dragon closest to him. He softly stroked down the beast's long neck. "You know as well as I that no clan can be without a King. When one dies, or is unable to continue his duties, another is found."
"There were four Silvers within the mountain, but they were sleeping, so the duty couldna fall to them," Con said as he faced Ulrik.
"So it fell to the only one left — Mikkel." Ulrik scratched his brow and began to slowly walk around the huge cage. "He spied on me for ... well, I doona know how long. He watched me, and he watched Dreagan."
Con's gaze narrowed. "He must have been verra good at hiding when he shifted."
Ulrik smiled and chuckled softly. "That's the only amusing part of this story. You didna just bind my magic, you bound the power of any Silver who might become King. As my abilities left me, Mikkel became a King and shifted into his human shape. Then he was left unable to return to his true form."
"Bloody hell," Con murmured.
Ulrik stopped and squatted beside the cage next to one of the dragon's heads. "While your attention has been on me, Mikkel has carved out a spot for himself."
"How long have you known he was here?"
"A few years. He showed up at my store. At the time, his plans aligned with mine, so we joined forces."
Con walked to stand beside Ulrik and leaned against the metal bars. "And now?"
"I realized immediately that Mikkel was using me. If he'd been strong enough to become a Dragon King, he'd have taken over when my father was killed in battle. Instead, the honor came to me." Ulrik straightened and looked Con in the eye. "Mikkel tried to control me these last years. I allowed him to believe he was."
"But you used Darcy's Druid magic to unbind what we'd done."
"How many Druids died trying to touch dragon magic before you found Darcy?" Con demanded.
Ulrik shrugged. "That's of no consequence right now."
"I beg to differ. Just as Darcy did when you tried to kill her."
"If I hadna, Mikkel would have. I timed it perfectly so the Druids could find her."
Con's face contorted with disbelief. "I'm supposed to believe you?"
"Do or doona. I've no reason to lie."
"You only have one reason. One agenda. To kill me."
Ulrik didn't bother to confirm or deny Con's claim. Why state what each knew was truth? It was a waste of time.
"Watch out for Mikkel. He's a devious bastard who intends to take your place," Ulrik said as he pivoted on his heel and began to walk away.
But Con's voice stopped him. "That's why he has Eilish."
Ulrik turned back to Con. "Eilish has power we've never seen in a Druid before. She could verra well kill a Dragon King for all we know. Right now, Mikkel has her focused on you, but I'm also on her radar."
"She helped Esther and Nikolai. Perhaps I can dissuade her from working with Mikkel."
"He has information she wants. Until you learn what that is, she'll remain under Mikkel's thumb." Ulrik glanced at his Silvers. "I'm leaving them here for the time being, but make no mistake. I will wake them."
Con's face was unreadable as he regained his composure. It had always been a handy trick. Something Con had learned when he was a youngling. It kept people guessing about what he was thinking.
"Will Eilish unbind Mikkel's magic so he can shift?" Con asked.
Ulrik gave a single shake of his head. "I doubt it, but I hope she does. She's a smart one. She knows all about the Dragon Kings, so I'm sure she has figured out what has obviously escaped Mikkel. If she unbinds his magic, he'll return to his true form — that of a dragon."
"Because he isna a King, he can no' shift back and forth."
"Precisely. He may listen to her, but if he doesna, he'll be easy to track and ... detain."
Con gave him a flat look. "You mean kill."
"He's in your path. You want me to be up in arms over the chaos he's caused, when in fact, you've caused some of it yourself. You wouldna be here now if Mikkel were no' in the picture. He messed up your plans."
Ulrik took a deep breath and glanced at the ceiling as he nodded. "That he did. I've been forced to reevaluate things."
"So you came here out of the goodness of your heart? To warn me?"
"Something like that." Ulrik then clasped his hands behind his back and touched the silver bracelet that allowed him to teleport out of the cavern.
But he didn't leave Dreagan. Instead, he went to Con's mountain, far below the surface where Con kept a weapon that the Dark coveted. It was the only instrument on the realm that could wipe out the impervious Dragon Kings.
Which meant Ulrik could use it against Mikkel.
He walked a few feet in front of the weapon and stared. It was bathed in a soft light that hovered above the wall. Hidden for eons, the King of Kings obviously knew of the weapon, as did Kellan, the Keeper of History, but Ulrik had discovered it about eight hundred years earlier when he was hiding in the mountains.
He knew next to nothing about it. Not how to use it or even if he could. Yet it was a risk he was willing to take if it came down to it. There was no way he was going to allow Mikkel to take everything he'd come back from madness to obtain. He'd wallowed in his insanity for centuries, but it was his need for revenge that slowly brought him back.
And Mikkel was now standing in the way of that.
Ulrik wasn't exactly keen on removing a member of his family, but Mikkel had given him no choice. Now that the two of them were at war, Ulrik would have to move up some of his plans and once more alter a few of them.
While staring at the weapon, he thought of Eilish. The Druid's power made her a formidable enemy. It was too bad he couldn't convince her to join him. She would be an amazing asset. And he wouldn't ask her to kill Mikkel.
Because he wanted to do it himself.
Ulrik walked closer and raised his hand. Right before he touched the weapon, he felt dragon magic. He smiled and dropped his arm. Of course, Con had surrounded the area with magic to alert him if anyone ever tried to take his prize.
"You win, old friend," Ulrik murmured to himself. "For now. But don't expect that to last much longer."
He turned on his heel and began walking back through the tunnels of the mountain. Ulrik wasn't sure why he didn't teleport out. Perhaps it was because he wasn't anxious to leave.
No matter what, Dreagan would always be the home he'd chosen, the place he'd helped to discover and mark as the Dragon Kings'.
He walked for several minutes in the darkened tunnels before he stopped. Being a Dragon King gave him the ability to see as well in the dark as the light, and his gaze had snagged on something along the wall next to him.
It was an outline of two dragons that had been chiseled into the rock. Ulrik put his hand on the one nearest him and looked at the second.
A long forgotten memory surged of he and Con laughing and teasing each other about Ulrik's upcoming vows with Nala. Con had had reservations because she was mortal, but he completely backed Ulrik's decision.
"When are you going to find your own woman?" Ulrik asked.
Con shook his head. "Doona concern yourself with me."
"You're my friend, my brother. Of course, I'm going to worry about you."
"It's a waste of time."
Ulrik laughed. "Come. I've a surprise for you."
They walked deeper into the mountain and stopped before the long wall. Ulrik watched as Con ran his hands over the lines of the dragons.
"You and me," Ulrik said. "No friendship has ever been stronger, and there's nothing that will ever tear apart our bond."
Con looked at him, a wide smile in place. "Brothers."
It was too bad Eilish had discovered that the price for information was more than she wanted to pay. Though she should've known the cost would be steep. Especially when dealing with a man like Mikkel.
Except he wasn't a man. He was a dragon, who was now locked in human form.
She'd taken an instant dislike to Mikkel from the first moment he walked into Graves. The others in the bar had glared at him with hate or gave him a wide berth. The fool actually thought the occupants had feared and respected him.
In fact, the Fae — both Dark and Light — and the Druids who recognized Mikkel, detested him for various reasons. The mortals had enough sense to stay away from him.
Eilish drummed the fingers of her left hand on the black wood of the bar. Her claw-tipped finger rings clicked softly while the lights twirled, music blared, and bodies swayed. She heard and saw none of it. Her mind was occupied with ... other things.
The deal she'd made with Mikkel was contingent on the information he possessed about her mother. While Eilish had been raised in Boston, her father and stepmother never spoke of her birth mother. Even when Eilish asked specific questions, they always turned the conversation away. The more secretive they were, the more determined she became to find out details on her own.
She'd begun digging for information about her mother but found nothing. It wasn't until she overheard her father mentioning something about her mother's family in Ireland that she had a destination.
The next week, she'd bought a ticket and boarded a plan to the Emerald Isle after leaving her father a note. The moment her feet touched Irish soil, she'd felt the magic within. This was where she belonged.
Coming to Ireland hadn't gotten her any closer to finding her mother, though. It was difficult without a name. But that didn't stop her. She was a Druid, after all.
And she had the finger rings.
The day she received them was the only time her Dad had spoken of her mother. He'd handed her the small box on her eighteenth birthday and said, "These belonged to your mum. Don't ask me any more than that."
The magic within the finger rings was astounding. As soon as she'd put them on, the magic seeped through her skin and made her one with the jewelry.
After that, she'd rarely removed them. Once in Ireland, they stayed on her fingers, even in sleep. They were her connection to her mother. Somehow, she knew they would lead her to the answers she sought.
A glass of whisky was slid in front of her. Eilish lifted her gaze to Cody, her lead bartender. His blue eyes crinkled at the corners before he winked at her. Then he turned away, running a hand through his blond curls as he spoke with a customer.
Eilish drained the whisky and slowly set down the empty glass. Mikkel had found her at Graves, though she had yet to learn how he knew of her, or discovered that the bar was hers. Most likely, it was through his network of spies.
Graves was her sanctuary. When she came to the small village, she'd fallen in love with the old building as soon as she saw it. Eilish also noted the number of Fae who walked the streets, some in disguise, some not. The idea of opening a pub where she could keep an eye on the Fae took root. It wasn't long before she began testing out her magic against any who dared to even think of harming anyone in the village.
Somehow, the people within the small community became hers to look after. It took only one encounter against the Fae for them to realize she would stand by the rules she set and carry out the punishment — death — to any who preyed upon those in the village.
Despite that, Druids and Fae flocked to Graves, a place where they could be themselves. Even the mortals who entered the building were aware that the bar was far from normal. Yet not one human died within its walls, and no one had been killed — or disappeared — because of a Fae.
Eilish looked at the dance floor before her gaze moved to the curving stairs that led to the upper level. When her eyes locked on the man standing on the landing staring at her, her heart actually skipped a beat.
Until she realized it wasn't Ulrik. Though the two were nearly identical with their impressive physiques, shoulder-length black hair, and gold eyes, it was the gray hair at Mikkel's temples that gave him away. That and the deadness of his eyes.
Her disappointment was so great that she had to keep herself from showing her disgust. The last time she and Mikkel had spoken, it hadn't gone well at all.
He gave her a nod and made his way down the stairs. As usual, the sea of people parted around him. He took the stool beside her and motioned for the bartender.
Cody looked her way. She gave him a nod to pour the drinks.
"I hear my nephew paid you a visit."
She stared into Mikkel's golden eyes and noted the fake British accent. She had no idea why he pretended, but it was easy to draw out the Scottish brogue. She just needed to make him angry.
For a moment, Eilish could almost pretend it was Ulrik sitting next to her. But Mikkel had spoiled that by speaking. "He came to see me, yes," she answered.
"How did he know of you?" "You know. I hate spies. More than that, I hate people spying on me."
His smile was cold and calculating as he took the glass Cody set before him and drank down one and then the other whisky. Then he met her gaze. "We had a deal, you and I. You carry out my orders, and when I'm finished with you, I'll give you the information you covet."
There was a pause before he chuckled. "You promised to kill Ulrik and Con."
"I said I'd kill Ulrik in exchange for the information. You added Con later," she stated.
"Which you agreed to."
She felt magic pulse through her left hand from the finger rings in response to the anger that rose within her. Instead of blasting him with her magic, she took a deep breath and released it. "I did, but I didn't agree to be at your beck and call. What happened in Venice with Sebastian? Don't do that again."
"Or what?" Mikkel asked with a smile that didn't reach his eyes.
"Or I won't help you."
He shook his head, giving her a look as if she were a wayward child. "Oh, my dear, but you will. Because you want to know who your mother is."
She'd had enough of him holding that over her. "The only new knowledge you've shared is that her name is Eireen."
"I have her surname. That would make it easy to find her."
"I don't believe you."
Instead of becoming angry, Mikkel smiled. "You want it, you'll have to kill Ulrik."
Eilish swallowed at the news and kept her face impassive. "Now?" "Yes."
She bowed her head. "Once he's dead, you'll tell me my mother's last name?"
"Of course. I always keep my word."
It was on the tip of her tongue to call him the lying bastard she knew him to be, but she kept her mouth shut.
Mikkel leaned closer, studying her. "What did you and Ulrik speak about when he visited?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Torched"
Copyright © 2018 Donna Grant.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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