The injured women in the bed, Emerald, had been poisoned with lead. Dana could smell it on her and he wondered why Danburn hadn’t. With Danburn being the king of the dragons he should have been able to smell it right off, or at least Dana thought so anyway. With the woman’s surly temper Dana should have left her there to suffer alone, but he could smell his mate on her. Since Em was an emerald dragon he deduced that his mate must be another gem to compliment his diamond.
Sapphire had been summoned with the rest of her sisters, Ruby and Opal, to Em’s side. The young girl, Carmine had powerful magic that could extract the lead from Em, but she wasn’t strong enough to get it all out on her own. The sisters would have to combine their magic with Carmine’s or Em wouldn’t survive.
Sapphire knew instantly that Dana was her mate and she wasn’t thrilled about it either. She and her sisters had been around for thousands of years, why did a mate have to muddy the waters now?
Dana wanted to take it slow. They had the rest of their lives to get to know each other. He wanted to court her and ease into the relationship. They were both immortal, so time was on their side, right? Melville James had other ideas. If he couldn’t have the emerald dragon he’d just take the sapphire. After all, her mate hadn’t claimed her yet, and by dragon law that made her easy pickings.
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Danburn English is the ninth earl of the English castle. He and his dragon alter ego have been on this earth for a very long time. Danburn is accustom to his orders being followed to the letter, no questions asked, so when this feisty young woman bucks his authority he is beyond angry.
Kendrick Barrera can’t seem to get caught up. Every time she turns around, her sister is in trouble again. Now, because of her sister’s new mess, she’s being evicted and has nowhere to go.
Danburn’s intentions were to defend her honor, but when Kendrick intervenes, she steps in front of a punch intended for her mouthy landlord. Now Danburn has to step back and take a good long look at himself, and he doesn’t much like what he sees.
Kendrick doesn’t care for the overbearing lord of the manor and makes no bones about telling him so either. No one, especially him, is going to tell her what to do or how to act or dress.
There is something about the feisty woman that has touched Danburn’s heart. She has a rare honesty and bravery that has him take notice. A woman like that is hard to find and should be protected and cherished. The chemistry is there, they’ve both felt it, but controlling his mouth just might get in the way of winning Kendrick’s heart….
Cassie had just arrived in Danburn’s territory and she knew as a dragon she had to report to him. Whether she liked it or not, she’d gone from one ruling male, her father, to another. Being a female dragon, and unmated, she felt cursed for her lot.
Everette Welsh, Rett to his friends, was having a hard time making ends meet. He was a good attorney, but it seemed to do him little good. His good friend, Danburn, insisted he quit his job and come work for him. Rett had no intentions of taking Danburn up on his offer, but when his boss called him into his office and was demanding that he apologize for threatening a man who blackmailing him, the words “I quit” spilled from his mouth without thinking. However, once said, he felt better for it.
Rett found himself on the wrong end of a shotgun blast, and Cassie gave a bit of herself to save him. There were only three conditions of taking dragon’s blood that a human would survive, and the other two didn’t apply to him. Rett and Cassie were mates.
Only two things stood in their way: Rett’s obnoxious mother, and Cassie’s father, a lethal combination…
Quinn Langley knew her mother didn’t have long to live. Soon it would just be her and her little sister, Carmine. Nearly recuperated from her own injuries, Quinn knew the first order of business would be to find a job and get out of Danburn and Kendrick’s hair.
Danburn had invited his friends to his home to spend the holidays, and that included his good friend, Hanson McClain. Hanson’s parents had run off and left the estate in a shamble and near financial ruin. It had taken Hanson months to repair the damage, and he was ready for a break.
Quinn had no idea that her cousin, Kendrick, was mated to a dragon, and that she and her sister were the only humans in the house. And now, the handsome stranger, Hanson, also a dragon, had claimed that she was his mate. It was time to leave. The ever practical, Quinn didn’t want solutions just handed to her on a silver platter. She’d make it on her own. But in life things don’t always go as planned. Like it or not, Hanson’s parents were a problem she’d be forced to deal with, and she discovered her sister, Carmine, had abilities Quinn didn’t quite understand.
Thrust head first into a world of immortals, Quinn found she had a whole new set of problems. Now, the first order of business would be to protect her little sister and hopefully not die in the process.
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Em was exhausted, but more than that, she was terrified as well. To be in the house of the king was unnerving, but the way that everyone kept coming in to check on her was also making her afraid. Like instead of checking on her, they were making sure that she wasn’t harming the household and the people there. She looked at Sebastian when he growled low. “What is it?” Someone comes, he told her. “Well, that’s not at all helpful. People have been coming in and out all day long. It would be easier for you to say that no one is out there.” The door opened and a man she’d not met before stood there. He didn’t enter the room, but he did watch her. Asking him what his deal was, he told her nothing but continued to wait. Sitting up in the bed cost her, but she thought it was worth it to have him go away. Which he did not. “My name is Dana Blankenship. You are an emerald dragon, fittingly called Emerald.” She nodded. “Your gryphon is called Sebastian and he is not one to mess with. He’s been caring for you for many decades. You ask yourself why I know this. Well, the household has spoken of nothing else but the beautiful woman who is an emerald dragon. Oh, and her sidekick, Sebastian.” He was very handsome. His face was hard, but she knew that when he smiled, like he was right now, he could not just open doors, but women would swoon and men would be jealous. He was a man that people paid attention to. She was not going to be charmed by him though. “Yes, so what? You know what everyone in the house does, big deal.” He nodded, then shook his head. “You’re getting on my last nerve, and if you knew anything about me, you’d know that I don’t care for that.” “You’re the queen of the emeralds. That part I figured out all on my own.” Her heart began pounding in her chest and she thought about what she needed to do now. “You make all the emeralds in the world. Meaning that all you can make, cry, is the same gem. Your job is to make sure that there are just enough and not too many in one place. Correct?” Terror made her snappish. Well, more snappish than she normally would be. And while she rarely held back when she was mad, this time it got away from her even before she opened her mouth. “What the fuck are you doing? Reciting my entire life’s history? What are you doing here anyway?” He asked if he could come into her room. “Not yet. I think I like you better right where you are. And I want to know, what it is you think you know that I don’t?” “I’m sure that I know a great deal, but not necessarily more than you. You’re the sister of the opal, ruby, and sapphire. I’m assuming that since you’re Emerald, their names are accordingly.” She told him that was right. “Are the others safe?”
“Why would you even care? I don’t know you from anyone.” He just nodded and leaned against the door jamb like he had not a care in the world. “What are you? Other than a dragon. You must have some kind of special powers. Otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to figure this all out.” “What I have is a tenacious sister-in-law that has read over the rules and regulations of our kind. Which would include you and your family. Quinn is the one to see if you have any questions about any kind of dragon. And she’s reading the books that are a part of the council as well. Smart girl, that Quinn. And she has an equally smart sister. Her name is Carmine if you ever get the chance to meet her.” She nodded, thinking that this could be really bad for the rest of them. She was in the house of someone that could hurt her worse than she was already. “I don’t know what’s going on in your head right now, but I’m not going to hurt you. None of you.” “And you think that I should just believe you? Not likely. I’ve been around longer than you have.” He said that she hadn’t, actually. “That’s…I can’t smell you.” “No, you cannot. Where are the others, Em? Are they safe? I know that you travel together, wherever you go. Are they safe?” She didn’t want to answer him, but the truth was, she didn’t know if they were or not and told him that. “If you’d like, we can go and bring them here. This is a safe haven for dragons.” “You tell me why I can’t smell you, then perhaps I’ll trust you.” He asked again if he could come into the room. “Why do you need my permission?” “For the simple reason that you won’t give it.” As she was growling low at him, he turned to his right and smiled. It was a smile that made her heart flutter and her body warm. When he took a tray from the woman that had been in here earlier, she sat up higher in the bed when he brought the tray to her. His whispered breath touched her cheek. “I’m a diamond dragon. You’re not my mate as I had assumed. But one of your sisters, perhaps? The smell on you, it gives me only a hint of her, one of the other three. Which is it, I wonder? And what would a diamond dragon have with a gem one should they have children? All things that I plan to figure out. With or without your help.” She shook her head, telling him in the same low voice that she wasn’t going to help him. “All right then, Em. I’ll see you later. And if you change your mind, let me know.” Change her mind about what? Then she remembered that he wanted to keep the others safe. In all this time she’d not reached out to her sisters, and looked at Sabastian to send him on his way to find them. “Bring them back if you do find that they need me.” He said that he could do that. “Sebastian, while you’re with them, warn them where I am. The diamond dragon is tricky.” “My lady, if you don’t mind my saying, I think you’re tricky as well. But he knows a great deal. It might not harm you to be a little nicer to him.” Em pointed out that he wasn’t terribly nice to her. “Yes, but you put up your shield well before you knew what he was to one of your sisters.” After they left, both Sebastian and the dragon, Em thought about what had happened. The dragon had warmed her body. Not in a sexual way, but more like one
would a relative, a brother so to speak. He had given her a hint of what he was. Yes, he’d told her he was a diamond dragon, but that could have been nothing more than wishful thinking on his part. He had even told her his name, knew hers as well. But the thing was, he could have been lying. I don’t lie. His voice echoed through her mind like he was standing in the room with her. You and I, we’ll have to learn to trust each other. Because we both know that I’m going to be mated to one of your sisters. Which one, I haven’t any idea, but we’ll be related. How do you know that? He laughed, and it warmed her more than the small breath had. I don’t think I’d like to be related to you. You’re not a nice person. Then we should get along splendidly. His laughter made her think that he’d just insulted her. And Em didn’t like it any more than she did the man. As the day wore on and she was feeling better with all the fresh meat and vegetables, Em was even happy that someone had taken the time to know what she needed to eat. However, it was her leg that scared her the most. The man who had hit her with the iron, he had known what he was about. She wasn’t cut badly, but until all the iron was out, and there would be a great deal of it, she would get weaker until she was no more. Not die—she was too strong for that—but she’d not be able to produce tears, nor would she be able to help her sisters when necessary. Weakness was not an option when you were a gem dragon. Your sisters are coming to you. They are terrified, if you wish the truth of it. I have told them of the man. They are both excited and afraid that he will not suit them. Em pointed out that they could hide out in the woods and meet him one at a time. After a brief pause, he told them that was what they were going to do. They wish to know how you are faring today. I told them that you were getting stronger, but that someone will need to take the iron from your body. And that you’re being most stubborn about it. I’m not being stubborn, I’m being practical. And that is not going to get us all killed. She laid back on the bed and thought about what it would take for her to be healed completely. I will need a great dragon to help me. And the king will not bother himself with a lesser dragon such as myself. And what, pray, do you think the world would do without your beautiful gems? She smiled at the tone of her sister, Sapphire, and had to laugh when she told her not to be a dimwit. They were forever picking up words to insult each other with. Ask for help or you’ll be gone. Em had met the king. But because of what she was, he’d not known about the iron. Now that she had time to think about it, she knew that then would have been the perfect time to ask for the help. But she’d been as stubborn as her sister had accused her of being. Things were not going well for her at the moment. “Hello.” She looked at the little girl standing at the foot of the bed, startled by her appearance. “I’m Carmine. My sister said that I could come and see you. But I’m not to bother you if you don’t want me to.” “It’s all right. I was just thinking. Do you live here?” She nodded. “I’m sure you can visit me any time you wish. My name is Em. I’m a dragon too.”
“An emerald dragon. Uncle Dana told me that you’re very special, and that we needed to never ever tell anyone that you’re here. Otherwise they’ll come for you, like they do me.” That scared her too. Was there nothing normal about this family? “I can help you.” “Help me what?” Instead of answering, Carmine moved to the side of the bed and pulled the blanket away, unwrapping the leaves that Em had wrapped around the wound. Em hissed when they stuck to the wound. “It’s not that bad.” “It’s terrible. The man who did this to you, he’s on his way. He doesn’t know where you are, but he does know that you’re close to him. The wound there, it’s going to keep festering until you’re dead. Iron wouldn’t normally kill you, but you’re much too weak now. I would say if its not removed very soon, it’ll hit your brain and kill you. As simple as that.” She didn’t want to believe her, but she knew that her words were true. “I really can help you. But you have to let me. Quinn said that its rude to assume that I’m smarter than everyone in the world.” “Are you?” The little girl seemed to think of her question when it had only been a joke. “Your name is Carmine, you said. Why are you so smart?” “I have this brain thingy. My sister said that it’s because my brain is so big. But the doctor, a vampire, he told me that I have a nudge in my brain. It makes me use most of my brain, a lot that most people don’t. I use ninety-four percent while the average person uses ten percent. Some even less.” She asked if the less were the handicapped. “No. Some of them use a great deal of their brain, more than a lot of smart people. But they have trouble with it because they don’t know how to process it. They know what to do and how to do it, it’s just harder for them because they don’t know the names of things, such as a hammer. They might know pounding thing, but that’s what gets them labeled as a handicapped person to begin with. Their lack of ability of what to call them.” “I see.” She did too. “How are you able to fix my leg? And you’re right, it is badly infected. I’m afraid of having to cut my leg off.” “It’s well past being in only your leg. It is racing over your body as we talk. But Dana is going to help me.” She started to tell her that she didn’t like the other man, but he was in the room before she could. “He’s very strong and he can hold you down. I’m really sorry, but you’re going to hurt like the dickens.” “Why would he need to hold me down? Isn’t there anyone else? I mean, he must have things to do.” But he got onto the bed with her and behind her. When she was wrapped in his arms, he handed her a small stone, a dark emerald. “I can crush this and eat it? How did you know…the sister-in-law?” “Yes, but not until she’s done, please?” She said that she’d wait. Afraid of what was going to happen, she held onto him while he wrapped her into his arms. This was going to be painful, she knew that. The room filled with light and all her sisters were there. ~~~ Dana was careful not to breath too deeply. One of them, the Sisters of Four, was his mate. But now was not the time to try and figure that out. Emerald needed him. She
was strong, and could hurt Carmine while she was in pain. And he knew that she was going to be in a great deal of it before this ended. Each of the women surrounded the bed, lending, he had no doubt, their magic to Carmine. “I’m going to pull it free of you, but you’re going to be really hurt. Like I said, it’s all over you now.” Em nodded in his arms. “It’s all through your blood, and that’s going to have to be collected too. Enough so that I can make the shard it came from. You understand me?” “Yes. All right. But where is the king? He must be here in the event I don’t make it.” Carmine told them all that he was coming. Ruby, dressed all in her color from head to toe, smiled as she continued. “He’ll not be happy about this, I think.” “He’ll be fine.” Dana had already let him know what was going on. And that they were going to take out the iron. He’d been surprised to know that; he’d not smelled it on her at all. “I mean, don’t you think, being the dragon all mighty, that I should have smelled something?” His mom hit him on the head. “I was just joking, Mother. Honestly, how did we all miss that?” “More than likely because she didn’t want you to know.” Danburn asked why she’d do that. “You’re the king. She’s a dragon. You add it up.” “She’s afraid of me? Why? I’m a puppy.” Kendrick snorted. “I am. I’m very nice, all the time. I mean, I have my moments, but everyone does.” “But not everyone rules, nor are they big enough to stomp on a house and kill everyone in it. Blend into the trees and woods surrounding him so that no one sees him. Oh, and let’s not forget that you have teeth that are longer than most grown men, and they’re as sharp as razors.” “Minor things when someone is seeking help.” She snorted at him again and Dana had to laugh. “Darling, you should get that looked into. You seem to have a slight cold.” And now Danburn was there with them, lending whatever help was needed. Dana wondered in that moment why he’d taken so long to come and visit his friend. He was a great one too. The men here, probably the only true ones that he had. “You have to help me a little at a time, please. Like one of you touch me when we go searching, and then when they’re tired, the next one.” She grinned at them all and Dana laughed. This child was so young, yet had the soul of a very old person. “Okay, let’s do this.” The first bit of iron came from the wound, and when it hovered just above Em’s leg, Dana had no idea what was going on. He thought, wrongly so, that he was to reach for it. But when the second, then a third piece came from Em’s flesh, he knew that Carmine was forming the shard to make sure that it was all there. It took a lot longer than he thought it should have. Em had passed out from the pain. He’d never thought of how it would be removed from her body, but the fact that wherever it was it just came out of her skin startled him. There were bleeding marks all over her body that made him slightly ill. To him it looked like they had it all, but Carmine, who was covered in sweat, said there was one more.
Danburn had long since fallen to the side, as well as most of her sisters. Sapphire was still standing, lending her magic, as was Danielle, their vampire friend. Dana had started to move, since he was doing nothing more than sitting on the bed, when Sapphire told him to sit still. Don’t move. You’re keeping her strength up. She might be passed out from the pain, but you’re keeping her alive. He looked down at the bloodied woman. She’s going to need something fresh, with a great deal of red meat. I’ll arrange that now. Sapphire nodded, but said nothing more while he asked Kendrick for help with it. She’ll make it. You know that, don’t you? I know no such thing. Had I known she’d been hurt, we’d have taken care of it days ago. Not waiting until it was nearly too late. Her tone was nasty, much like Ruby’s was. Opal was gentler than the other two. She wasn’t without a temper, but she had a nicer way of getting her point across. Just pay attention to what you’re doing, and perhaps we can all be hopeful. He didn’t have a clue what he was supposed to be doing that needed his undivided attention. The patient was out cold, and he was not supposed to move. Whatever, he thought. If Sapphire was his mate, someone was going to be in for a rude awakening. And he had a feeling that it was going to be him, he thought with a smile. When the tiny piece was added to the shard, Carmine passed out too, just tumbling to the floor like a rag doll. Quinn came in to get her then, afraid to be in the room for too long while they were working for fear of her child. That was why Kendrick wasn’t allowed to join in the help. The babes needed their mothers to be very strong. Dana loved this family, and figured that when Hanson had found his mate, it was only a matter of time before him and the other two got theirs. Kip was biting at the bit for his mate, while Griffith was more sedate about it. He couldn’t care less either way. Dana thought that it wasn’t a front either—Griffith was really that laid back of a man and dragon. But he had a temper. Like the rest of them, their dragons would take them in no time if there was a problem. But he did notice that the men with mates, their dragons were different, treading lightly, literally, when the women were about. He’d laughed his ass off the other night when all of them had ganged up on Griffith. He’d apparently trampled the flowers that were newly planted and had killed a prize rose bush. In less time than he thought it possible, not only was Griffith out there replanting the flowers, but he’d brought one of the roses from around his own castle, a very rare and old breed, to replace the one that he’d killed. Everyone was happy after that, and Griffith and the rest of them had found a new respect for the ladies of the household. He certainly had. Picking up the young woman, he held her while the staff cleaned the bed and then turned on the bath. He hadn’t planned on joining her in the bath—she wasn’t his mate, but she was beautiful. His plan was to put her in the tub, clothing and all, and then let someone else take over. But Opal saw him headed that way and nearly took his head off with her sword. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” He let a little of his own beast take him while he yelled at the woman. “You could have hurt me badly, you moron.”
“You are not taking my sister.” All kinds of things ran through his mind, none of them very nice. But he wasn’t feeling it right now and slashed out with her with his dragon’s magic. He knew that she’d not die, but he did encase her in diamonds anyway. It was all he could do not to slam his tail against her and break her to pieces. Instead he entered the bathroom, put the woman in the tub, just as he’d planned, and left the room. Then he left the house. There wasn’t anything he wanted to do more than to fly. But he’d been warned that there might be poachers around, so he only took off running for the woods. Dana had been running for pleasure—in meets, yes, not just for fun—for a long time. And he found that while not as relaxing as sailing through the skies, he did love the feeling of getting his heart pounding. You all right? He told Hanson that he was. They’re a little protective, don’t you think? I mean, that Opal, she could beat a bear with a switch, I think, and come out on top. I think you might be right on that. They both laughed, and Dana slowed his steps. I wonder which one is my mate. I know that one of them is. I just don’t know if I want any of them, to be honest. I heard you telling Kip that one of them was. Speaking of which, he’s as odd as ever, isn’t he? Dana laughed and stopped by a felled tree. Sitting on it, he looked around for inspiration. Are you still dabbling in stones? You know, making things from granite? I’m in need of a slab of it for the kitchen. Quinn wants to make candy, and I guess that is the best material that you can get. I have some at the house that are being brought here. Do you care what color? I have a pink one and one that has about ten different shades of gray it in. And no white at all. Very rare. Tell her for a box of candy, I’ll give it to her. Hanson laughed. You should know that she’s going to open herself a nice restaurant soon. Not just with candy, though all of it is really good, but also sandwiches and fruits. I think it’ll be a nice addition. Her sister is going to help her with it too. I’ll be her first customer. I’ve never had chicken fried steak before, but I think there wasn’t any better than hers. As for the slab, as soon as it arrives, I’ll make arrangements to have her come see it. But for now, I’m working in jewelry again. I missed it. He pulled out his phone and took some pictures of some of the things in the woods. You know, I have an idea that I’d like to open a branch here. You think there is any kind of need for a very expensive jewelry shop? He didn’t have any need for money. With as old as he was, and the fact that he could have diamonds any time he needed them, he was very wealthy. Not as rich as Danburn or Hanson, but he’d never have to work again if he didn’t want to. I think you should do it. Setting down roots here. Also, you have to look at this house that is perfect for you. It’s a Tudor. And the back end of it has been added onto a few times, so it’s massive. Also, and you’re going to love this, it has a couple of turrets. Not just a little one either, but worked into the design, and the bottom part of it looks like it could be the dining room area. Hanson laughed as he continued describing the house. I think the sucker has like nine
bedrooms or more, plus this dining room that will open up to hold about two hundred mingling guests. Like I said, it’s big. When can you get me in to see it? They were still laughing when he said that he’d take him today. All right. Also, the stuff I have in storage—I don’t suppose there is a place I can have it stored here until I can purchase said home, is there? It’s not going to be any trouble storing it. It’s just that my lease is about up at this place, and I didn’t want to have to pay a full year for something I don’t need. He did have money, but he was also smart about what he had, never overspending on things he didn’t need. When he could, he’d fly for himself rather than to take a plane. He also bought pieces that he wanted on sale, at tag sales and auctions. Dana was very frugal. Not cheap, but prudent. The house is empty and has been for about a year, I was told. The brick is brown, the roof of it is all slate, which is a big seller for me. And plenty of wooded grounds. There is also a stable with several paddocks and a big barn. He asked Hanson why he didn’t buy it. I don’t need it, my dear fellow. I have a wife and a home that I love dearly. Mostly the wife. And a child on the way. I did think about buying it, but I didn’t want to spend the money on it. I’m like that, you know. You are not going to tell me that you’re broke. He said that he wasn’t, but he loved that his wife was making them more money. Jackass. All right. I’ll meet you back at your house in about an hour. I want to check on Em, and then I need to get a shower. I needed some time out in the fresh air. I wish we could be more secure around here about the dragons. It would be nice to just go fly instead of waiting on the weather. He agreed with him. All right, one hour at my house. See you soon. Instead of going in the house, he made his way to the car. If there was a problem, someone would call to him. Right now, even the thought of meeting his mate was too much for him. So instead of telling anyone where he was headed, he made his way to Danburn’s house to get cleaned up. He wanted a place of his own, and the sooner the better. Not that Danburn and his lovely wife weren’t the best sort of hosts and such, but he wanted his own things around him. It was time, he thought, that he really did settle down. Make roots, as Hanson had said to him.