Colby had had enough of Levi following her everywhere she went. He was a creep, and she wanted him gone. The idiot couldn’t get it out of his head that she wouldn’t marry him now, not ever.
Hadley only had a mind to keep the pretty woman out of harm’s way. The dragon hatchlings were running wild and about to bowl her over. When he touched her, Colby knocked him on his ass.
Hadley couldn’t do anything but grin, he’d found his mate.
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ITUNES COMING SOON
Finn Manning had so much on his plate, he wasn’t sure which end was up. He’d been there six months, and the pile of work on his desk hadn’t diminished by one sheet of paper. None of the construction projects the family had lent the money for had even been started. The foreman was a bully, and Finn had had enough.
Pembroke Black had always had a lot on her plate. As a child, she could not tolerate her father, and Pem had moved in with her grandparents when her mother died. When she was old enough to move out, she joined the Army and served the front lines as a doctor. Stitching people up was what she did best. Coping with her own emotions was another story—Pem found little joy in this world.
Imp had been alone in this world for so long she had forgotten what she was. It only took a little nudge from Winnie for her memory to come flooding back. She was a powerful earth fae and one of only three of her kind. She missed her siblings terribly, but it was too dangerous for the world for them to be in the same place. Imp was tired of being alone.
As soon as Hudson Manning realized who Imp was, the rest of the Mannings knew as well. Imp had created the first dragons. Cooper, the king of dragons, wanted to do something, anything, to repay her. Imp, however, didn’t want to hear any more about it and was getting pissy when he wouldn’t let the subject drop.
George knew almost immediately that Imp was his mate, but convincing the stubborn woman would take a little work. When the two come together, their combined magic will be more powerful than any of them could ever imagine….
Toby Deaver had been searching for George Manning for quite some time. The teapot had spoken to her and made it quite clear that she needed to find George. Loading up her family, her grannie, and her son, Shawn, into the car, they headed to the small town in Ohio.
George had already discovered the gem beneath the clay, but he and Imp weren’t quite sure what Toby’s involvement might be and were taken aback when Toby announced that she knew they weren’t human. Imp sensed that the boy, Shawn, wasn’t human either.
Although welcomed by the family, Toby felt she had worn out their welcome and wanted to return home to find a much-needed job. But when Shawn sensed a cloaked assassin, Toby reached out to the Mannings for help. Dover, a Manning she had yet to meet, responded to her plea for help. And when an older woman at the market wrapped her arms around Dover’s neck for an affectionate hug, Toby had never felt such a violent, jealous rage consume her.
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Long ago, at a time when all creatures—including large dragons—roamed the earth as
only their true self, things were much different than they are today. Working with and
helping humans in whatever way they could, the creatures, large and small, worked
side by side with them, helping both the dragons and the humans. It was a place where
magic was celebrated. And dragons darkened the skies every day. It was then man
figured out there was magic in the dragons and hunted them to almost extinction. This
is the story of one such family. The beginning, but never the end of the Manning
“I’m afraid there is no hope for us.” No one made a sound as their leader
continued. “Once the humans found out about us and what we can do for them dead,
we have been doomed. I’m so terribly sorry.”
Coop looked around the room. There were so few of them now he could easily
count them. When he had been younger, thousands of years ago, there would not be
enough room for all of them to share this room. Now they were down to having a
quarter of them share the space because so many, his own wife included, had been
murdered so needlessly. Coop was saddened by it all. He was fearful that he’d see the
end of his own family, his own children if something wasn’t done and done soon.
Turning to leave the large cave, he was stopped by his brother, Xavier.
“The boys, they are well?” He nodded and smiled. Coop felt it all the way to his
heart. A place that had been dead for so long, it seemed. “You have the spell? Are you
going to use it on them? I should so wish I had thought of this before my own family
was taken from me, Coop. You are a brave man and a good father.”
“Thank you. And I shall use it tonight. It is the only way to save them.” Xavier
nodded, his own heart heavy with the losses they had suffered. “You know I would
have shared should I have had it sooner. I am so sorry, brother. All of my heart, it’s
sorry for you.”
“I know that. I do. But they are all gone now. My other half, my children. Killed
for things are not fair to our kind.” Coop knew all too well. “Ava was a good woman,
Coop. A good woman and mother to your sons. She will be missed forever.”
“Aye, in my heart and that of my sons as well.” Xavier stood there for several
seconds, and Coop told him he must go. “They’re waiting for word on what is to
happen with us all.”
“One more thing, if you please. It will not take but a second. I have left them all I
have. It is where you keep them hidden away, the boys. Deep within the cave, it’s all
there.” Coop asked him what he meant. “I cannot go on, brother. I cannot. There is too
much grief in my heart for me to live. I have left my things for them there. They might
survive this; with the magic, you have to give to them. And if so, they’ll need more than
you have to help them.”
“Xavier, please, you mustn’t do this. They’ll miss you as much as I.” Xavier
nodded and said it had begun. “You can come and stay with us. You’ll live with us in
“Nay. I cannot. I must go. Just tell them I love them. With all of my heart.” There
would be no stopping him once his heart was made up, Coop knew this, but it made his
heart no less full for it. “Goodbye, my brother. Take care you are not caught by the
Coop made his way back to his hidden cave and sat before the fire. The boys, he
knew, were resting, their bodies getting stronger daily with their age. Soon they would
be as big as him, a dragon of worth and size. When his eldest son came to him, his eyes
full of fear, Coop knew it was well past time he did what he had been practicing. The
magic would keep them safe.
Gathering his sons, six of them of varying shades of blues and greens, he asked
them to have a seat. He had a story to tell them. It was not a story, not truly, but a tale
that would, hopefully, keep them safe.
“I have been studying things—a witch told me once of a great magic only few
can do. It takes a loving heart and a strong dragon to make it work. I have asked her,
and she has told me how to make it so. In this magic, it will keep you all safe from the
humans.” They nodded, each of them knowing it was a human blade that took the life
of their dear mother, and they were fearful daily that the same fate awaited himself and
them as well. “I will perform this upon you, each of you, at the same time and give you
some magic you will use when you need it. This magic, strong and powerful magic, will
let you roam with the humans, learning and teaching them, I hope, and they’ll not
know your true self is just below your flesh.”
“You mean we’ll be humans as well?” He nodded, then shook his head at
Cooper, his oldest. “I don’t understand, Father. Will you explain?”
“Yes. The magic I will give you will let you change into your true self when you
are alone. But when you are out in the world, you will need to be a human. A man.”
Cooper looked at his brothers and then back at him as he continued. “With this magic, I
will also give you a gift. Something you will need to keep yourself safe should they find
out. A stronger armor than any other dragon before you as well as the same
immortality you have now, as man or dragon. That does not mean that you can be
foolhardy with the humans. You will still need to keep yourselves safe from them at all
Hudson, his second son, stared at him for long moments. He was the thinker,
and if he could think of a reason for this not to work, he would voice it loudly. He was
much like his mother in that. She would be the first to say when she did or did not like
something. And the first to say the plan was perfect. He only hoped she would have
approved of this.
“I think you are very smart, Father. To try and keep us safe. But I can only think
this will not work on you. Or is your plan?” The boy was much too smart, Coop
thought. “If you change us, who will change you?”
“There will be no one to change me, son. I will… It is my wish to join your
mother in this earth.” He watched them, seeing if they understood the love he would
loss when she had been murdered. “Giving you this magic, it will be something I can
tell her I’ve done for her sons. You know as well as I that she loved you more than
anything on this earth, including herself.”
“She died saving us.” Coop nodded at Lincoln. “I’m not happy you’re going to
die, Father, but I understand wanting to be with mother. I miss her more every day.
There are times even now that I have to think about it to hear what her voice sounded like.
The color of her eyes, the green that they were, eludes me too.”
“As it does me as well.” He looked at his sons, all of them growing into dragons
of worth. “I must have an agreement from you all. Even if one of you does not want
this, then it will not work. I would say you should think on this hard. For once, I have
given this to you. There will be no going back.”
“I wish to have it.” He knew Cooper would be the first. Not that he did not love
his father, but Cooper would see things in a way most would not. To not have this done
would mean a certain death for them all. Dragons were too valuable dead not to be
hunted for all time. “I will do whatever it takes to make sure you are proud of me as
“I am already, Cooper. Forever.” The others nodded too. They were ready for
this as much as he was dreading it. Because once he started the process of changing his
sons into men, then he would begin to die. It would take all he was to change them. Not
that he would ever regret what he was doing for them. Not ever, but he would miss
them very much.
Standing up, spreading his wings out behind him, Coop told them about the
things their uncle had left them. They knew where the family jewels were, the things
their mother had left them as well. Once they were standing, their bodies strong and
healthy, he felt his heart swell and break for what he was about to do.
“I, Cooper Manning, of the Manning Dragons of the earth, give to my sons,
Cooper, Hudson, Lincoln, Lucas, Tristan, and Xavier, all I am. Each of you will take a
part of the earth with you when you are converted. The part of you that is unique in all
ways will be strengthened and enhanced. You will be immortal, forever, and those you
take to your heart will also be.” His sons bowed before him when he told them to. He
said the words over them that would change them into men. Coop could feel his body
shutting down, his heart beating a little less. But he had one more thing he wished to
bless them with and held himself upright to give it from his own dying heart. “One day,
true love will come to you. And you will have more than you have ever known. It will
fill you in ways you cannot ever imagine. Love will be yours for all times. For only then
will you become a true dragon, a Manning Dragon.”
~~ Cooper sat with his brothers while their father lay dying. His heart was weak from what he had done, and it was tearing him apart. Father was weak, yes, but he continued to tell them tales of their mother, of their adventures when they were only small dragons in whispered words that touched each of them in different ways. They were going to be alone soon; their father was so close to joining their mother that it hurt Cooper in ways he had not expected. “What shall we do with his body?” Cooper looked at Tristan, the fifth child of his parents, and asked him what he meant. “He will not be able to lie here. If the humans were to find him, they would surely cut him up into pieces. I do not want that for him. We were never able to bury mother in the proper way after what they did to her. I don’t want to think of his body being picked over like meat in a spit. We must be able to do something for him.” “We could burn his body.” Cooper wondered how it would work when Hudson continued. “His scales will be worthless to them should they come upon his body. The magic he held within him also will be useless to them. He will be nothing more than a carcass.
They’ll leave alone.” Burn his body. It was something to think about. But he did not want to, not while he was still breathing, his body still alive. Even if it was just for a few more hours. Anytime spent with him was more than precious for the six of them. When he laid his head upon his father’s chest, hearing his heart beating slower and slower, Cooper wondered what his father would think if he knew the magic he had given them had not worked. They were all still as dragons. “He gave his life to keep us safe. But it did not work.” No one said anything to him as they each watched their father. Tears, gems of varying colors leaked down their faces as they thought of all their father had sacrificed for them for nothing. “Dragons such as we are, we’ll be hunted and killed by the humans. There is nothing we can do but wait for them.” “We will survive if we stay here,” Cooper told Xavier, the youngest of them, they would have to leave here eventually. “To feed and to fly, yes. But perhaps we could do it only at night. To keep to the skies and not let them see us.” “They know we are about and will have spies out looking for our lairs. We will have to kill any man should he come for us, and still, we will not be safe. We are, after all, dragons who have a great deal of magic.” Cooper stopped breathing. He needed it quiet so that he could hear his father’s breaths. Cooper did not hear his father’s heart and knew it was at an end. He was quiet for a bit longer, waiting, hoping for just one more beat. One more sound would mean he was still alive. But there was nothing.
Their father was dead. Sitting up, he told them he had passed this world into the next. None of them had ever seen a dragon die before. Their mother had been dead when they found her the day that she’d fallen from the sky. Each dragon they had come upon when they were out had been dead long before they found them. Their bodies were stripped of every part, so they resembled less of a dragon than just a pile of bones. Sometimes not even that, it seemed. Their scales were used for roofs for their homes and for shields. The very meat of them was roasted and stored away so it could be used for medicines and potions. Hearts were cut up and dried, then ground into a powder to use for other things the humans would use to keep them from sickness as well as magic to have a grand garden and trees heavy with fruit. The only part that would be left was the bones, and sometimes even those were carried off and used for something. Cooper hated all humans. “We will do as suggested by Hudson. It is the only assured way we can—” Before he could finish, he felt the stirring of the earth. It shook so hard it knocked each of them off their feet. As they lay there, terrified someone was coming for them, their father appeared before them. His body was still aground. But instead of dark in death, he was brilliant in light. Faeries, thousands upon thousands of faeries, seemed to be covering his body as it lay before them. Before Cooper could tell them to stop, to leave him alone, father spoke. “I love you, my sons.” Each of them nodded. Fear was almost something he could touch.
“I will now and forever join my true love, your mother. I must warn you, when you find your other half, and you will, you will have to be careful of the slayers. They will know what you have found by the magic you both will share. The earth will celebrate you finding your loves, and that will bring them to you. My sons, you will leave this place and take your place among men. Becoming someone I will be proud of.” “Father, the magic didn’t work. We’re still a dragon.” Cooper felt shameful to say a thing to his father. To tell him his sacrifice had not worked. “We will be hunted and killed.” “Nay, you only need to think of being your other half. Becoming a man is simple. The same when you wish to be your true self.” Cooper was not sure what he meant, but his father continued before he could ask. “Go, now before men come here. The magic to hide me will draw them here.
Be safe, my sons, and know I love you more than I do any other creature on this place. I shall tell all the tales of our adventures to your mother too. She’ll love it, as will I in the telling of it.” Cooper stood then. The faerie was still working, taking the body of his father apart. But as he watched, he could see they were not doing anything but preserving his body. Faerie ropes—golden and strong were all around him, and strings of magic were wrapped around him like a cocoon. It made him invisible to all. As Cooper stood there, his brothers beside him, he knew, like him, they mourned the loss of yet another parent. “You are the eldest.” He nodded to the faerie when she asked. “We have a gift for you. For all of you, but you will receive the most. Your father was a great man, your mother a queen among her people. We wish to bestow upon you all your father had.” “My brothers, they will need it as well. I should like to share.” She smiled at him and bowed. “What have you done with his body?” “He is being prepared to be moved. We will make a grand garden upon him. Flowers will be there for all to see, but only a few will know a dragon is there with his other half someday. His love and light will join him there.” He nodded. It was as it should be. “You will take this gift? You will share, but as I said, you will get more than the others.”
“I don’t care. Please, just do what you must so we can hide.” She nodded again and touched her fingers, small, tiny ones, to his forehead. Then she did the same to the others before coming back to him. “It is done? You have shared it with us?” “I have, Lord Cooper. But you must leave here now. There are humans coming. The magic we used to do this thing has given them cause to come here.” He nodded and looked at the ground where their father had been. “He is safe. Just as your mother will be soon. Go before they find you here and murder you as well.” He thanked her for her help and left. The exit from this part of the cave was hidden so well that only they knew about it. As they made their way into the night, he thought of the human inside of him, and the pain of it took his breath away. In seconds, he was down on his knees. Whatever was happening, he was surely going to die.
“You’re a man.” He looked up at his brothers as they began to transfer to one themselves. “We’ll be safe now, all of us. We’ll be humans for them until we can find a place where we can be ourselves.” “I don’t think that’s ever going to happen again.” Hudson nodded and held his head tightly as he did so. “We will need to train ourselves in their ways. Become what they are. But never monsters.” “No, never.” They made their way to a building; any would do for now. Hudson, like him, was staggering a little, but they were getting stronger as they moved. He turned to look at him as they were settling into the empty shell of a house. “We will need to buy things, houses, and such.” “Yes. But tomorrow. I am too tired to think beyond how much we have lost.” Hudson and the others agreed. “When the humans are gone from our cave, we’ll go and find what father was telling us about earlier, about the wealth will keep us safe.” “I only hope there is a great deal of it. I don’t know how to work nor drive.” Cooper told Xavier, the youngest brother, they would soon learn. “I hope so. I hope so.” He did as well. It was going to be hard enough for them to learn to eat and dress like them, much less get around. Cooper hoped this worked. For he was as afraid as he had ever been in his life. Just to be such a smaller version of himself was frightening enough, he thought. ~~
After a time, thousands of years, each of the dragons turned into men and forged their
way into a world that was so different than the one they had been born to it seemed as
if it were a different planet. But survive, they did.
Having their mates come to them was more than they could have hoped for. The
children born to all of them gave them hope and love. A small and fragile thing after
such hardships they were born to. Cooper became, as his father had been before him,
the king of dragons. His mate, Carson, is their queen. It had been and still is a time for
celebration. To this day, they commemorate often and hard at each new birth of the
dragons turned men and women.
The others, his brothers, prospered too. Finding their other half, making their
magic stronger for having their love. Their children, much like their fathers, were good
men too. They worked hard to keep everyone safe and well-fed. Humans or other
dragons alike. No one, not anyone in need, would have ever been turned away from
their generosity. The Manning Dragons, true to their father and mother, became the
most powerful dragons ever born.
The six sons, Xavier’s sons, four hatchlings, and two humans moved far away to
be the next generation of Manning dragons who would open their hearts and doors for
all creatures. Even the sons of their hearts, the two human-born men carried powerful
magic. They used it with their brothers to help as many people as possible, humans and
dragons alike, to live in the ever-changing world. To help them not only succeed but to
perhaps help someone else when they needed it. These boys, now men, have stories to
And it is my pleasure to tell their stories and their lives. The Manning Dragons,
all of them are the best magic, brotherhood and men that have ever been born into this
world. And they will continue to be well long after the earth changes for the better once