Simeon: Dragon’s Savior Release Day & Giveaway

 

The dragon king, Anthony, entrusted Brynhilde with a quest. He had foreseen his demise and needed a reason for Bryn to find his and Jacob’s sons. A glimpse in the future had shown him that Bryn would be mated to his son Akassa, and Jacob’s son, Simeon, so he entrusted her with an ancient book. Her mission was to seek out the new dragon king when the old castle was nearly complete.

Bryn was a protector of dragons and a fierce faerie warrior. She had one weakness. If she was claimed, she had to follow the orders of whoever claimed her—even if it went against what she knew to be right and just. Over the centuries, she had been owned by many warriors and kings. But as time passed, few knew of these ancient laws and Bryn had managed to reman unclaimed—until now. Bryn had been ordered to kill the dragons.

The Dragon Slayers had all but given up on their quest to slay the dragons and the new dragon king, but when Hudson sought them out, he breathed new life into the ancient organization. Their thirst to spill blood was great.

Asher knew what Bryn had been ordered to do, and that she was mated to his brother Simeon and Akassa. The question was if Bryn could follow her heart and ignore her sworn duty. Would they all perish by the sword of this powerful faerie? Find out in the final episode of The Dragon Savior Series—Simeon.

 

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For Simeon Dragon Savior

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Two Men Joined By Fate…

Asher and Kiaran were joined at birth by the dying decree of the Dragon King―literally. Asher had his own bit of magic as a 3,000 year old immortal, and Kiaran was his dragon shifter. Out in society Kiaran was a part of Asher―absorbed into Asher’s body―only being able to separate in dragon form. At their birth home, the two men could exist apart from each other as men. They protected each other, and would until their dying breath if it ever came to that. They shared everything…that is until Essie came along….

Essie was doing her best to hide from a mother that didn’t even recognize her own daughter. The witch had poisoned her with a scratch and if Essie wasn’t healed soon she’d die…. Sick or not she didn’t want anything to do with that handsome, overbearing barbarian, Asher, nor that rude dragon that protected him. She was doing just fine on her own.

But Asher had other things on his mind and after a while brings Essie around to his way of thinking and makes her his wife, but Kiaran brought up a valid point―Essie was his mate too….

Could Essie find it in her heart to love both men equally? To share the bed of both―together?

Asher’s five brothers and their dragons watched the scenario unfold with bated breaths. The subject had never been broached, and all their futures hung on the outcome…

 

 

Lindsey Decker is hiding in the woods when the dragon shifter, Casdon, finds her on their property. She’s tired, hungry, in a lot of pain, and absolutely determined not to ask for any help. She just needs to stay hidden before that idiot Cox finds her and probably kills her this time. The cave she found will provide some protection if she doesn’t freeze to death first.

Jedidiah Benson and his dragon shifter Zak are at odds. When Casdon tells the family of the injured woman hiding in the caves, Zak knows immediately upon finding her that the girl is his and Jedidiah’s mate, but Jedidiah refuses to even look at the girl proclaiming he wouldn’t know what to do with a mate. Zak has no reservations and knows if they don’t do something fast she’ll die.

Lindsey wakes between two gorgeous men and isn’t sure if she’s dreaming or still in a fevered state. The things she wants to do with these men, both of them, should feel wrong, but instead feels it’s her destiny.

Lindsey is destined for more than two mates. Lindsey is a beacon for the lost dragons. It’s time for their return, but it’s still dangerous for them to do so. They’re being hunted, and no one is safe…

 

 

Ariannona has but one simple task to complete and the long journey she began 3000 years ago will be ended. Her reward? She was promised that she would see the king and queen again.

Elam’s not sure what to think about the beautiful woman coming back to the house with his counterpart Casdon. She has a message for Casdon alone, and the message itself makes no sense to Casdon. One thing is clear though, she is Elam and Casdon’s mate.

Ariannona expects to die once her message is delivered, and isn’t happy to learn that the former king and queen tricked her to get her there.

A dragon hunter is still loose on nearby lands and none of the dragons are safe, especially Casdon. He’s taking shots at anything he sees moving.

 

Lelani Wayne trusted no one but her familiar, Roger. And even he, at times, got on her last nerve. She didn’t like being around people. People made her nervous, and when a witch as powerful as she was got nervous, it could be disastrous for anyone in the vicinity.

A powerful witch, Erin Wayne, knew she was going to die, and reached out to the closest being she could find to take her powers and memories. She connected with Kiaran, Asher’s dragon counterpart. The jolt of the transfer took all the Benson’s to their knees.

The Benson’s were on a mission to finish the reconstruction of the castle. Shane, and his dragon counterpart, Keion, were doing their share to make it happen. But when Shane saw his very pregnant sister-in-law, Essie, bringing lunch, and a stranger approaching her fast, he couldn’t get to Essie fast enough. The baby was coming—now.

Lelani was looking for Kiaran to get her sister’s memories and warn him that the Herald, a group of witch hunting zealots, might have traced the memories and be after Kiaran as well. What she didn’t expect to find was Shane and Keion, two very big, handsome, virile men, invading her personal space claiming to be her mate. That made her nervous….

 

 

Gracie couldn’t believe it, she’d been attacked by a griffin. The pain was so horrible that she’d have to get better to die. Maybe it was better this way. Maybe death would end the tremendous grief in her heart. At least in death she wouldn’t have to listen to her sister Cora’s constant harping.

Gideon and his dragon counterpart Ominia weren’t sure how to handle Gracie. She was their mate and they were happy to have found her, but her intense grief over the loss of her family had them stumped on how to proceed.

The encounter with the griffin had more effect on Gracie than she knew. His magic now flowed within her. Gracie could now see and speak with the dead, and the former king, Anthony had a message for the new King of Dragons, Asher.

Now thrust in a world of dragons and magic, Gracie’s head was spinning. And how was she to handle two very handsome and amorous mates? Things like that just didn’t happen to her.

 

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Prologue

Anthony rubbed his head. If this kept up, he was going to need a powder for his pain. He looked at Eve when she sighed heavily. They were getting nowhere fast in this conversation, and he wasn’t sure what to do about it. Looking at the woman before him, he tried once more to get her to stand up and come closer. Sometimes being king made things unbearably difficult. “Brynhilde, I would wish to talk to you secretly. If you stay there, plastered to the floor for the entire time, I’m not going to be able to speak to you properly. Come. Let us speak.” She didn’t move, not even to look up at him. “Damn it, woman. I’m needing something from you.” “You wish to claim me.” He didn’t want to. It hadn’t been in their plans to do anything like that. To claim her, to make her his servant, would be wrong on so many levels.

“My lord, you know what I am and what I do. I cannot, without going against my laws, the ones that you put into place, speak to you where my head is higher than your own. I am but a warrior, not an equal to you or anyone.” “Show yourself.” Anthony looked at Eve when she spoke. It was unlike her to be so hard, her voice full of command. “Stand and show yourself, all of yourself, to us. Now, Brynhilde. That way we can judge your worth to us.

” The woman stood, and Anthony realized how young she looked. He knew her to be old and powerful, but the appearance of her youth startled him speechless. Not so his lovely mate. She was rarely speechless, not when it mattered the most. And this did, more than anything they’d done thus far. “You will show us your warrior. Then we’ll talk about claiming. If need be we will, but for now, I wish to see what you have to offer.” The woman raised her brow but said nothing. Brynhilde wasn’t one to fuck with, he knew this. She was as powerful as she was hateful. He was glad that he’d not have to be mated to her.

“Where is this supposed warrior that we have heard so much about?” Her arms stretched above her head. He knew it was for show…or perhaps she had been taught to bring her magic that way and it had stuck with her. But he could see the magic gather around her and stepped back. This was going to be epic, and he was excited for it, but also, if he was honest with himself, a little frightened. Light danced along her body…sparkled, he supposed. Her hair, dark before, turned a bright red, fiery he thought. And as it lengthened, tangling with her body, wrapping her up, her armor began to show itself. Anthony knew now this was for them, a show of power and force. As her armor strengthened and wrapped around her, wings appeared behind her, as brilliant a green as her eyes, of which nothing of her body showed but that. She would and could fight an army now, and come out on the other side as the victor. The woman oozed strength, confidence, and magic. He would only want to be on her side. To be on the other would mean that all was lost. Brynhilde was epic.

When her show of force was complete, she flittered above the floor before raising her sword and sticking it deep into the stone floor as she came down in her stance. He would never go by that spot without thinking of her, however little time he had left. Her chest plate was silver, a hue so bright that it was nearly blinding. There was no crest upon it, and there wouldn’t be until she was claimed by another force. As she stood there, her wings spread wide and high, her hair, the massive amount that hadn’t become her armor, ever flowing behind her head, Anthony was struck by her beauty. And the scar that went from her left eye to her chin did nothing to take away from that. He stepped forward enough to touch her, but stopped when she raised her sword.

“Do ye claim me as your own?” Anthony had a moment where he was slightly afraid, not of her personally, but of what she’d do to his son once she went to him. His son, and that of Jacob, would know a real kind of devotion should she fall in love with the boys. Or she would slaughter them. “Brynhilde, where is your family?” He saw the pain there, the flicker of it as it passed over her face. He wanted to tell his Eve to stop, but before he could, she spoke again. “You have no one claiming you…you could have a family. Where are your parents? Sisters and brothers?” “Dead, my lady.

” Anthony felt compelled to hold her, to wrap her up in his arms so that the pain would be his as well. To lessen it for her. “They were killed when I was at war. My master then…my master did not care for me and my rules, so he had them all murdered. I have found all but one of them, the ones that killed my family, and when I find him, he’ll suffer like no other for his orders to murder them. He committed a cowardly act by not being there himself, and now he will pay as well.” “I am sorry.” Brynhilde looked at him when he spoke softly. “I am truly sorry for all that you have lost.

It would hurt me beyond words to have lost all that I love.” He would, and soon, if things were to go as they were foretold to them. As he moved to his seat beside Eve, he took her hand into his. It was well past time they asked of her the favor that would put her with their son and Jacob’s. “There is a book that needs to go to the future king.” The wings flittered again, not enough to lift her up this time, but they moved all the same. Anthony continued just as Tinsel, Brynhilde’s brownie and companion, came into the room. “There will be a great war, one where you will be hidden away so that you will not have to pledge allegiance against this kingdom. I do this for you so that you can avenge your family when all is done. And it will be over someday, just not in our lifetime.” “You are an immortal, same as me.” She dropped her head, asking for forgiveness for pointing out what he already knew. Anthony walked to her then and lifted her face up to his. She was tall, and he could see the fear there in her eyes. “You cannot die, my lord king. I will fight with you.”

“‘Tis too late for that, I fear.” She watched his face, seeing what no other, save his mate, could see there…the future, and what would happen to them. “I need for you to take him this book. His name is Asher, called that from the ash of this castle when it has fallen. Someday the castle will be repaired…the magic that we leave behind will help
him rebuild, to make things right again for all who would dwell here. The book and all that it represents will be in your hands.” “And this son…what will he demand from me in return for this favor?” Anthony told her nothing, but that he was going to be as good a king, if not better than him. “I do not believe that, my lord. You are a good and kind man. Your wife too. How can this be?” “He is part of me. Of us. And his mate is as strong as he will be.” Anthony had her attention now, and thought he had to do it now or it would be all for nothing.

“This thing I ask of you, it is the final key, the last stone that will be placed in the castle. If you do not wish to help me without me claiming you, then I will understand. I will be disappointed, child, but I will understand.” Eve moved to stand behind the warrior. Her armor was as strong as his own scales, her blood as cold as his. But she could use more, would need more in the coming years, and he did not want her harmed in any way. While he touched her, Eve did the same from behind. The sharing of their magic only took a second or two, but the transformation to the warrior was profound. She stood there before him, and he knew that she was in a great deal of pain. But as he watched her, nothing moved on her; her eyes did not blink to show that she hurt.

“You have given me too much.” He shook his head. Her voice was rough, like even that was in pain. “You have. I can feel it through my body, like blood rushing from an open wound. Why would you do such a thing to me?” “You will need it, this I promise you. Once you have given the book to Asher, when the castle he rebuilds is nearly complete, you will never have to be claimed again by a man that wishes only for your sword.” She nodded and then staggered slightly. “Careful now. You are going to need to hibernate for a while at least.” Touching her armor now, the chest plate that protected her heart, he put his mark upon it. Not that she’d see it, not yet, but it would be there for Simeon and his own child, her mates, to see.

To know that she came to them with his blessings. The other women, some of them already on their path, others not yet born, would come to the men that would be family to him. They’d make them stronger still, love them beyond words, and give them a part of their magic and love that would sustain them forever. But this one, this warrior of the fairies, had been the hardest one to convince. Her heart would be hardened by the time they came together, his children and her, and sadly, she would hurt more than the others when she came to them. Not with her sword, but it would cut just as deeply and painfully. Stepping back when she seemed to be able to stand on her own two feet, he watched her stretch again, this time trying out her newfound power. After she left them, the book in her hand—to rest, she told him— he sat in his chair and thought of this woman. “She will be furious in her fighting.

And so loving when that is called for too. Of all the women that will come to our yet born children, I think she will be the best of them all.” Anthony nodded but said nothing yet to his queen. “You worry overly much.
What’s done is done for them. There is nothing else we can do but to ready things here for them. We have done more than we should have, love, but they’ll be safe now.” “I so wish I could see them.” Eve said that she did as well. “There will be children of them. Grandchildren of ours that we will not spoil or touch. It is the saddest thing next to losing you, I think. Not being able to see them grow and become men. Having their own young and playing with them.” “Someday, we’ll look down on them and smile. Our children will live. That is all we’ve ever wanted for them.

” He agreed; it was all they had thought of since seeing visions of their own deaths. “Anthony, what will become of her? You know, do you not?” “I do. I am saddened by the things she must do and will do to survive. But she will. And while she’ll be stronger for it, it will harden her heart too.” He looked at his one true love. “Let us talk of more pleasant things. Take a lunch to the lake and make love there. The babes will be safe for an hour or two.” “Yes, I’d like that very much.” He nodded, standing up. “You have talked to Tinsel? He will know what is going on and help her?” “I will when we return. He will do this, I know, but it will hurt them both that we need him to do this one more thing for us.” Eve nodded as they made their way to the kitchen to get some food. “We have gained so much from this, but are losing so much more.” “Yes, but the safety of our children and those of Sally and Jacob will be more than we could have hoped for during this time, don’t you think?” He did and told her that. “I love you, my love. More than I could ever be able to tell you. You are my heart, my soul.”

~~~ Tinsel came back just as she was burrowing into the ground. Bryn watched him fly around making things right for her before she told him to sit down and be quiet. He did so, but he pouted about it. She asked him where he’d gone. “I will be here until you have awakened. I wished to gather me some things up. They’re in my pocket.” He had a magical pocket. He could carry a man in it should it be necessary. Or her, which he had once before. “Do you wish for me to sing to you?” “No.” Clearing her throat, fearful that he would sing anyway, she tried again. “I’m ready to rest now. And your singing might keep me awake. I think the king gave me a bit of something to pull me under faster.” He nodded and looked around them. She wanted him to rest as well, but he would not. And he’d more than likely sing too, once she was asleep. Bryn felt sorry for the creatures around them, ones that could not get away from his noise. Tinsel could not sing.

Words he didn’t know he made up, sometimes making the song he sang seem more silly than heartfelt. And he had no tone. Nor could he carry a tune. The man was as deaf to the music he sang as she wished she was when he did it. Closing her eyes, she smiled.
“My lady, when you wake, what is our plan then? Did you have an idea to stay here?” Yawning, she told him that she thought she’d be better off here than anywhere else. “Mayhap. But should you like to travel a bit, that would be good too. We could keep ahead of the men who would want you to fight for them.” “You could be right. I’ll speak of it with you when I rise.” Yawning again, she adjusted the rocks that covered her, disturbing the small creatures that had bedded down before her. “Tinsel, you are my one and only friend…you know that, do you not? I have no need for others in my life, save you.”

“I thank you for that, my lady. But you have no one else in your life because you have a sword at the ready when anyone gets close. Think of the friends we might have should you not be in competition all the time.” She laughed, as did he. “We are good for each other, neither of us needing much. We have all that we can carry because I was gifted a pocket, and when we are fighting, we are stronger than the others and can live for another day.” Living another day did not have as much appeal to her as it did him. When she’d had her family around, a place she could go and be loved, it had been her greatest joy. Now…well, now there wasn’t much for her to be happy about. She did her job, and did it well, then rested until someone else found her. There would never be death for her.

Bryn could weaken to the point where she would need to hibernate, but not die. It was what made her so sought after. Wounds that she received in the line of duty—for one king or another—had been so horrendous that she would be down for several months…once a whole year. But death, as had claimed her family, her sisters, and brother, hadn’t been her right. “Is the king aware of what you did to your last master?” Bryn told Tinsel that he more than likely knew. “Yes, you could be right on that. Your…. My lady, if you don’t mind me saying so, you were very violent toward him and his men. Not that I blame you…I loved your family as well. But if he had seen only a bit of what I did in the end, he might not have you coming around to…. He might not have wanted your help.”

“Nay. Like everyone, he only wants me for my sword, so I will do this. He thinks that I will not; it was there, in his head, that I’d not do this for him. So, I will, just because of that. But a book? How does he think it will be needed to rebuild a castle? I think he only jests me.” Sleep was getting harder to fight, so she stopped. “Tinsel, when I wake, we’ll go on a grand adventure, you and me. We’ll go and see the world.” “Yes, I should like that.” His voice sounded so sad that she wanted to ask him what the matter was. But sleep took her, as profoundly as the magic had from the king and queen. When she woke, Bryn lay very still. She didn’t know where she was, what time of the day it was, or what she’d find when she moved out of her hiding place. There were voices…she could hear them, but didn’t understand what they were saying. It wasn’t until Tinsel spoke that she calmed a little. “You have been asleep, my lady, for more than a few days.” She asked him how long in the same whispered voice that he had used. “A decade. No more than that, I think.”

“A decade? You are sure?” He said that he was, very much so. “I don’t understand. How was I to rest for that long of time? I was not wounded.” “I know not, my lady warrior, but I was beginning to worry some.” He appeared in front of her, his voice still very low. “There are others above us. They fight even now. Should you rise up, there is a chance that one of them will claim you. I think you should not join them. Both of them will want you, and nothing will be solved as they fight for your sword.” “I shall stay here then.” He thought that was a good idea. “Tinsel, I have been here for a decade. Yet I feel as if I have only rested but a moment. What did the king do to me?” “As I have said, I know not. But I have some sad news, my lady. He is dead. As is his lady wife.” Her heart broke for the couple. While she didn’t understand them, she had liked them a little. “The castle is in ruin. The townspeople still fight over the lands left unattended. There is much fighting between neighbors, and even families. It is not a time that we should be in. After all this time, there is no one to rule, and I fear for all.”

“The child of the king, has someone saved it?” He said that he hadn’t heard of anyone that claimed the child, or any word if it had lived through the fire. “This might be all for naught, Tinsel. Their child might not have lived for me to give this book to. Whatever will happen to him should he be out there?” “He will come, this I know. The king said that he could see into the future, and he would have seen that his child lived.” She nodded and asked about the ability to move out of her place. “Let me check for you. I am glad to have you awake now. I have seen so much. I have even worked on my singing for you. I know a great many tunes now to lull you to rest.” When she was finally free from her sleeping place, she knew that she’d been not just hibernating, but she had been becoming more. She was stronger than ever. Her armor was thicker on her body, and she could hide it with just a thought. Changing her appearance had been easy for her before, but now she only had to think of something and it was changed. There wasn’t even a drain on her magic to hold herself in another form.

Looking at Tinsel, she asked him what she needed to know. Anything that would keep them from being claimed right away. “Everything, my lady. The castle is indeed fallen. There was much fighting and deaths. I have seen so much while you lay in your slumber.” She told him she was sorry. “No need for that. You have become more than before, haven’t you? And I think that good, for not just you, but for all mankind, should they survive this. It is terrible. But you are well?” “Yes. The magic of the king and queen together has made me able to rest less, I think. Even my sword is stronger. I can feel my blood rushing over me, making me stronger still. But they are dead. I thought…well, I assumed that when they were killed my magic would go with them.” He flew up to her shoulder and sat down. “We should leave this place, Tinsel. I do not want to be caught up in a battle that I know nothing about.”

As they made their way through the woods and beyond, all she could think about was the child that had not lived. Just as she was moving toward a home of some worth, she saw the children in the yard and watched them for a bit. They were big boys, all three of them, and she wondered who they belonged to. Turning away to make her way to the next town over, she was seen by another of the boys, this one smaller than the others. He didn’t speak to her, just stared. Realizing that he could only see what she wanted him to—a woman, not the warrior that she was—Bryn moved away from him and the house to find a safer place. But his face, the one that looked up at her with such innocence, made her heart twist up in pain. Her brother had such a look when he’d been alive. Paul had been her friend and her brother. She’d loved her sisters as well, but they were such little girls, all of them worried for their hair or some such thing. But Paul had been someone that she could talk to, come to when she needed a hug. One that didn’t care if she mussed him up with mud or more. Bryn thought that she’d miss him the most. He was the best little boy she’d ever known. It took them four days to travel to the next village over. There was great strife all over, people wanting to come to the lands and take them over. No one could…there was magic all around the place. But she knew that someday, someone would come and break it down, and she wanted nothing to do with it but handing him the book. If he still lived. “My lady, how about here?”

They were far away from the ruined castle, yet could still see smoke curling from the smaller fires that had been homes of the villagers. Even after all this time, the fires that burnt there had not stopped burning. “I can get us some dinner and we can see about a home for us. Temporary, of course, but it will be nice to rest for a bit. And to have a roof over our heads. It will be better than the stone you laid upon, don’t you think?” Bryn had forgotten that he’d been awake when she wasn’t, watching over her so that no one would bother her. He could have awoken her, she knew this, but he hadn’t so that she could be ready. Ready for what, she didn’t know, but Bryn knew that something or someone would come soon. “This is fine.” He nodded and set to work finding dinner. While he was gone she thought of a little house, just big enough for the two of them, and was surprised when it started to build for them. The ground moved, the trees felled themselves for the walls. Furniture was built for them, as well as a bed and a table. And when Tinsel returned, she told him what she’d done.

“The magic of the king and queen. It was said that they could work the elements when they needed. They must have passed some along to you. This is good. We’ll be safe here for a while.” He took the berries into the home and came out smiling. “You might have thought of your empty belly too. There is much in the way of foodstuffs. You have done well, my lady. And I, for one, will enjoy the fresh flowers that are set upon the table for me.”
Bryn helped him with the house, moving things around to the way they wanted. She put magic around the place too, to keep others from finding them. She thought she could live here forever when they settled in the bed that night, but knew that she’d not be able to. Bryn needed to keep moving or else she would be captured. And as much as she wanted to use her new powers, her new sword too, she wasn’t ready to shed any more blood just yet. There had been enough of it for years to come, she thought. The next morning, she was in the kitchen having some tea when her little friend came by to see her. He was commenting on the lovely home when she remembered something. Turning to him, she asked. “Tinsel, you have the book still.

He patted his pocket. “Good. We’ll set up a plan, a pack to grab when we need to move, and we’ll keep atop it too, so that we never lose it. Should we do that, I don’t know what will happen to the world ahead. I think we should load your pocket too. With foodstuff that cannot spoil. A few wraps for bandages as well. Not too heavy for you, but enough to get us started if we have to go quickly.” “I will hold it all, my lady. And keep it safe. This is a good plan. I shall work on some meat to dry, as well as some herbs for our sup should we run.” He sounded so sure that she wanted to ask him why he was. Tinsel wasn’t ever sure about anything. Even if rain was falling upon his head while he stood there, he would doubt his own mind. “Shall I make us a meal?” As before, she let it go. Bryn might well talk to him later about it, but for now her belly was growling at its emptiness, and she wanted to look around. With so much going on, there was a quiet that made her nervous. She did wonder, too, when the castle would be rebuilt. She wanted to get this over with for the king. They talked for a long while, him telling her what he’d seen, how he’d kept her safe. She was sure that some of it was less than what he said, but she didn’t mind. Bryn doubted greatly that he’d slayed an army of men in her absence, as well as caught large fish with his bare hands. But she loved this little man, and he had kept her safe. She just hoped that she could keep him equally as safe in the coming years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucas The Manning Dragon Release Day and Giveaway

 

Micky had been alone since her fiancé had taken his own life, just days before they were to be married. The note he’d left had put all the blame on her. It was in his handwriting, but she wasn’t so sure that it was a suicide. She had her suspicions that it was staged to look that way, but the police were in a hurry to close the case and that was the end of it. So, Micky had packed up and moved to a small town in Ohio, took employment as a cashier in a grocery store, and kept to herself. She liked it better that way. No one else would die because of her.

Lucas Manning hated hospitals. His dragon hated hospitals even more. Only days after becoming an immortal, during a bank robbery, he took a bullet to the chest. By all rights he should have died. His doctor told him he was under too much stress as well and if he didn’t do something about it, immortal or not, he could be in some serious trouble.

Taking the doctor’s advice to heart, Lucas decided to make some serious changes in his life. Eating healthier was a smart change, so he went shopping.

When the man put his things on the line she was in, Micky told herself that she was going to quit at the end of her shift. There wasn’t any point in working much longer. And the sooner she got moved, the sooner— She realized that the man was staring at her oddly.

“I’m sorry. Did you say something to me?” He shook his head and she started ringing up his things. A health nut came to mind when she rang up salad makings, coconut milk, and vitamins. When she was finished and told him how much it came to, he stared at her as if he’d never seen a woman before. “Are you all right?”

“I am now. What’s your name?” She pointed to her name badge, thinking that he was off his noodle. “My name is Lucas Manning, and you’re my mate.”

Micky could have gone her entire life without those words.

 

 

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Cooper Manning and his five brothers were true dragons. Centuries ago, when the humans had turned on their kind, their father sacrificed himself to save his sons by casting a powerful spell which allowed them to walk among the humans. Even centuries later, Cooper couldn’t seem to let go of the past and despised most humans.

Carson Langley was exhausted. After being forced to work thirty-six hours straight, she unwittingly complained to the new plant owner, now she knew she was fired. There was nothing left to do but go home and cry about it later.

Cooper was sent by his brother to retrieve the helpful woman and bring her back to the plant, and he wasn’t happy about it either. It didn’t help that when she answered the door she shared his sour mood, and when he touched her hand, the magic that surged between them meant only one thing—she was his other half, and she was human…. Cooper was seeing red.

 

 

Winnie wasn’t happy with Cooper at all. She had only done as ordered and had spent five years in prison because of it. Cooper was supposed to protect her, but he didn’t. Now the dragon king wanted her to protect them all from the new slayers in town? How was that fair? The sooner she completed her mission, the sooner she could move on and leave it all behind her.

Hudson had been told that Cooper had hired a man by the name of Wendall. He just wanted to meet him so he could measure his worth, but when the door opened, the woman behind it was writhing in pain. He only meant to help her, but the moment he touched her, her pain became his as well.

Winnie had been appointed by the Dragon Board to be their protector long before last names were given. She had hunted her first, expecting to be paid by coin, but was rewarded instead with magic and a title. She didn’t have time to take a mate, much less a Manning. She had too much work to do.

The word “no” wasn’t in Hudson’s vocabulary. Winnie was his mate and he’d do whatever he had to claim her.

With slayers lurking in the shadows, Winnie has her hands full, and can’t let a new mate distract her. She had to remain on her toes or all would be lost….

 

 

Lincoln figured the new artist in town would be one of their mates. He’d heard she was a real ball buster and thought that maybe she would be Tristan’s mate because Tristan said he couldn’t handle that. But when Ginger introduced him to her sister, Grace, he knew from the moment he touched her she was meant for him.

Grace was in shock. Garrett had taken her into his office when the show was still going on and told her that she had all but one of her paintings sold, including the twelve that she’d given him permission to sell. Twice now she’d had to put her head between her knees, which wasn’t easy with the dress she had on, in order to not pass out. Sold all but one? How was that even possible?

Lincoln sat at her feet on the hem of her dress. His attempt to to calm her shaky nerves had her about addled, and when Grace suddenly stood, the dress ripped from shoulder to hip. Standing there trying to get herself covered, she felt her temper snap. Now what was she supposed to do? Grace didn’t know whether to kick him or beg him to help her.

 

The Manning Dragons
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Lucas hated to be in the hospital. Actually, he hated any place where he was inside. He preferred the outdoors, even when it was cold or raining. It was where he felt the most alive. When someone knocked on the door, he gently turned his head to it. Since being shot, Lucas about puked every time he moved too quickly. “How you feeling?” He told Cooper that he was feeling pretty good except for the dizziness.

“Yes, I would imagine that would be something that you’d have. You were shot. Did they tell you that?” “No. No one mentioned me taking a bullet and it took me a while to figure out. I’m guessing the reason that I’m still here is because it was either iron or steel.

Where is my doctor? I think she’s avoiding me.” Lucas frowned at his older brother. “I’m embarrassed at the things I said to her. When she came in here this morning, I realized my mistake. But she did smell great.” “Yes, she had a talk with all of us, asking us if you ever had this sort of issue before.” Lucas asked if she really called it an issue. “Yes. She knows all about us, as you can imagine with her being a doctor and all. But the fact that you claimed she was something else to you sort of set her off into the world of unknowing. Not mad, but she had thought that the bullet might have done more damage to you than she’d first thought.” He could see that. When the door opened again, Lucas started to tell the good doctor that he was sorry once more when she simply lifted her hand up. Cooper laughed and stood up. Lucas asked him to stay and he declined. “I have baby duty later—I still have a lot of things to get done while she’s with her mother.” He turned to the doctor and put out his hand. “Thank you so much for taking such good of my little brother.” “You’re very welcome.” Doctor Carver sat down beside the bed when Cooper left. Her smile, for some reason, was not very reassuring. “I wanted to tell you straight up that you should be dead.

The bullet had pierced your heart. If it hadn’t been for your sister-in-law telling me about you being an immortal, I would never have believed it.” “Lucky for me that was a power given to me just the day before.” She nodded. “I’m truly sorry for saying those things to you. I think, as you asked me once, I hit my head a little harder than I thought. You also told me that the man and the bank manager are both dead.”

“Yes. Someone here was treating him for his mental problems and had been for some time. They adjusted his meds for some reason, and we’re believing that is what had him going to the bank.” Lucas nodded. “The entire county and beyond think that you nearly died. As you’ve more than likely done in the past, we have to play it up for the cameras and the others out there. I would suggest a couple of more days. In fact, I’d like to insist on it. I know that you’re still having trouble with the dizziness, correct?”
“Yes. It makes me ill to move too quickly.” Doctor Carver asked him if he was still sick after he stood up. “Just a little. Not as much as when I move my head. I can walk well, just the quick movements.” “I’ve done an MRI on you and had someone come in and have a look, as you know. I’m thinking that it’s a pulled muscle or a pinched nerve. There is no other explanation that I can find to tell us why that is going on.” He nodded, saying he supposed a neck sprain was possible. “I’ve talked to your family, and they told me that you’d been under a little stress lately.” “Yes. I’m helping the family out with some investments. As well as a few other projects that I have a hand in. It’s very time consuming, but I like it.” He looked around the room slowly and noticed that there were more flowers than had been there yesterday. “I’ve been an attorney a few times in my lives, and it’s served us when it was needed.”

“Your brothers also told me that you’ve bought several buildings downtown, help the kids at their garden plots when you have time, as well as being involved in four more ‘projects.’ You’re not going to get any better if you don’t slow down. Do you have anyone working for you?” He told her his helper was on vacation. “Alan Peck?” “Yes. How did you know?” Doctor Carver told him that Alan had been in to see him, and one of the others told her how Alan had been on vacation. “He didn’t come home for me, did he?” “I wouldn’t know.” She stood up. “Mr. Manning, you have family. I would like to suggest that you start having them or someone help you out. You’re stressed, and you need to calm down. Having immortality would be horrific if you couldn’t enjoy it.

” After she left him, he lay there on the bed thinking. He could have gone home, she told him, but he decided to do what she said and stay on a few more days. Also, he was scheduled to have a cat scan soon, and that might tell them what was going on. Closing his eyes, Lucas tried to relax his body. How about I tell you a bedtime story? I can even modify it so that there is blood and guts in it if you wish. He smiled when he realized that Carson had spoken to him. The doctor just called Cooper and told him what she thinks and wants you to do. If I were you, I’d jump on that so that you tell Cooper what your plans are before he gets to order you to listen to the doctor. It’ll make my day. He did just that and could hear the frustration in his voice when he told Cooper he was going to stay at the hospital for some extra time and would try his best to delegate more when he was working. Lucas was still laughing when he told Carson what he’d done. He’s none too happy with me at the moment. She told him congratulations on upsetting Cooper’s plans to make him do it. You sound a little sad. What’s up? Anything I can help you with? That is the very reason you’re stressed, you know. He told her that loving her wasn’t stressful. Yeah, sure it’s not. No, I don’t have anything going on that you could help me with. Unless, of course, you’re lactating and would come and help me feed my baby.

No. No thanks. I don’t think I’d enjoy that all that much. But seriously, what is it? She didn’t answer him, and he tried again. I might not be able to help you, love, but I know a great many people that would jump at the opportunity to do something for me. Just say the word. I’m bored. I love being a mom, especially when the boys came here. They’re like a breath of fresh air in my day. But I’m not able to be gone for long because I have to feed the little one, and even when Cooper is here, he’s not really. I mean, I love him to death, but he’s not much in the way of conversation when he comes home and shuts himself up in the office. He asked her why she’d not told him that. I don’t know. I guess because I figured that if the door was closed, not to come in. Not bother him. Nah, he’s just closing the door because he’s done that all his life. He might leave it open once in a while, but he’ll eventually get up to shut it. I’m sure that it still stems from being hunted for so long. You have to remember that Cooper was the oldest of us, and saw how the humans treated our kind a lot more than any of us. She said she’d not thought of that. I’m sure that if you asked him, he’d say he didn’t even realize he was doing it. I thought for sure that he was telling me to stay out of his domain. Lucas said that Cooper would never do that to her. I think that you’re right on that. I’ll work on that for myself.

So, you didn’t find your mate. I have to tell you, you were funny right after you were shot. I’ve never seen someone so hell bent on leather as you were to have a mate. I’m just glad that the doctor wasn’t her, by the way. She has three children and a husband that worships her. But she’s out there, Lucas. Don’t give up because of this. I want to see you happy—all my new brothers happy, as a matter of fact. I won’t. I promise. This was just a bump in the road, I guess. He looked around the room. I have a favor to ask of you. There are a lot of flowers in vases in my room. I’m going to be here for a few more days. Do you think you could arrange for them to be picked up and put out for the little creatures before they’re no longer good for them? Carson said she thought that was a wonderful idea. You remember that, so you can tell my actual mate what a guy I am. She was still laughing when the connection was broken

. He, like his brothers, loved Carson—hell, all the women in the family. They had taken his brothers to a level of kindness that he’d never seen before. Not that they’d not been kind before, but now they were more accepting of change and showing their affections. When his supper was brought to him, he was surprised to see the bag it was in was from one of his favorite all time restaurants. Opening it up, he read the note before digging into the food. Hey. Knew you had to be sick of the food there, so I thought of you when I was at Submarines this afternoon. If I can, I’ll have the rest of the guys bring you something better for each meal. Love you, little bro, Hudson. Opening the foil around the first of two subs, he was so happy to find that it was also his favorite—meatball. He could literally eat them for every meal. Biting into the crisp bread with the soft inside, he moaned when he also tasted the sauce and meatballs. If he kept getting food like this to be delivered, he might survive staying in the hospital. Not really, but it would make it slightly more tolerable. Lucas ate both subs and the large bag of cookies that were in the bag. He usually didn’t eat sweets that much—they were something that he really enjoyed but kept
himself from eating.

Now that he knew that he needed to be less stressed, he decided to enjoy food a little more. In moderation, he told himself. There wasn’t any point in over indulging too much—he’d burn out. Lucas lay back. Things were going to be better for him soon. ~*~ Micky ran each item over the scanner as the two women in her line spoke. Well, argued. The woman in line behind the person she was checking out was screaming at the first woman. Something about food cards and eating things like frozen pizza and other convenience foods. Micky didn’t care so long as no one killed anyone. Murdering someone had become the way people dealt with things that they didn’t like. If someone were to argue with someone, or even have a driver cut them off on the highway, the solution was to pull out a gun and kill them. It was one of the reasons that she didn’t drive. Another reason was that she didn’t own a car. Not that she couldn’t afford one, she told herself as the produce was weighed and bagged; she could. But that would mean dipping into her savings account, or any number of places that she had money stashed, and she wasn’t going to do that. Just as she was finishing up the groceries, the second woman totally lost her shit when the total for the first woman came to over two hundred dollars. “Why are you able to spend that much on groceries when I can barely afford to feed myself on what I make?” The woman she was helping didn’t engage but handed Micky the card that would pay for her food. “You have to answer me. I’m the one making it so you can have food on your fucking table, by God. I work my ass off so that you can laze around your house, eating whatever you can microwave or pop in a toaster, as your—” “You think I like being on this card? You think that I’m sucking on the tit of society?

Well I have news for you. If it were to bring my husband back to me, I’d surely give up being able to feed his four children and myself. He died for you and your freedom to have free speech. Well, right now, you can go and fuck yourself and your freedom of speech. I’m a mother of four small children that have no idea why their father isn’t coming home to us. I was suddenly thrust into being the head of a household that I’m barely holding on to, if you fucking care. And since going back to work just after giving birth to his fourth child, his little boy, his sisters and I are needing some help.” She looked at Micky with tears in her eyes and on her cheeks. For the first time since working here, Micky wanted to hug someone.

“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to help me trim this down. I didn’t realize that I’d gone over.” She’d gone over by twelve dollars. When Micky started to tell her she’d cover it, the man behind the two women spoke up. He told her that he’d get it, that it would be his pleasure. Everyone in the store had heard the exchange, she realized, when a few more people decided to help her out too. After Milly—that was her name—thanked them all, especially the first man, for helping her, she went to her car. But while she was loading up, the man, finally getting his turn to check out, asked Micky to hurry, as he wanted to give his cart load of food to Milly as well. Fourteen men and woman also donated, not just groceries, but cash. One
woman bought her a gift card, telling her that she might have bills that it would take care of. Micky was walking home that night when she thought of the woman. She wondered if it was a scam. She’d heard it had happened before. Not where she worked, but another grocery store. The person would stand in line and wait to be abused. Then when the shit hit the fan, so to speak, they’d have this sob story all thought out, so they could get not just food, but cash as well. Micky smiled. She needed to think of better things than scams. There wasn’t any trust in her either, not for human kind. She was human herself and she knew a great many shifters, but she didn’t trust. Anyone. She hadn’t always been like she was now. Micky had learned the hard way not to even trust family. She had two sisters and a mother that were around, but she never engaged with them, nor did she try and seek them out when she had time to visit. They weren’t people that she trusted either, especially her mom. Mariam Mantle was as shifty as anyone she knew.

So were her sisters; Me-Me—her nickname that she’d given herself— and Bethany. Me-Me’s actual name was Mariam too. Giving herself such a cutesy nickname was something that she had done to differentiate herself from their mom. Bethany hadn’t stood for any nickname. It had always been Bethany, which she supposed was the reason that Micky called her Beth. And Me-Me, she was called Mariam the Second. It was the small things that got her through. Micky’s apartment was small, but she loved it. It wasn’t in the best of neighborhoods, but it wasn’t that bad either. She could come and go as she pleased, and there was a front doorman, the landlord’s son, who wasn’t there more often than he was. Micky was glad for that too, since every time she saw him he bugged her to go out with him. There wasn’t any way that she’d go out with Sam Adams for all the money in the world. He was a jerk. Putting her smock up, she sat her purse on the table. She would have a sandwich and then sit on the couch until it was time for her to go to bed. Yes, she thought, you do have a sorry life lately. Micky thought of her life thus far. She had been engaged once. The man that she had fallen in love with had hung himself rather than spending the rest of his life with her. It had devastated her so badly that she had cut herself off from everyone and everything for a long time. Actually, she sometimes still had trouble with people. Micky turned on the light on to read a bit. At just after seven, someone knocked on her door. If it was someone begging for money for some campaign, or even Sam, she was going to go straight to the landlord and complain. This was just annoying. Opening the door, the man she saw standing there looked confused for several seconds before he spoke. “Mariam Mantle?” She said that she was Micky. And like everyone over the age of ten, he asked about her name.

“Are you really Micky Mantle?”
“So it says on my birth certificate. Mariam is my mother or sister; depends, I guess, on what the birthdate is.” He told her. “My mother then. She doesn’t live here. Never has, as a matter of fact. You have the wrong Mantle.” “I’m to serve her.” Micky told him that she couldn’t help him with that either. “You have no idea where your mother might be?” “Not if I can help it. And if I did know, I’d tell you. Someone needs to put her behind bars.” He asked her if she wanted to know what she was being served for. “Nope. Whatever she’s done, not paid for, or stolen, I had nothing to do with it. The only time I see her is when she’s breezing through town and needs a place to flop. Not that I allow that, but she tries.” “You don’t like her.” She said nothing, but he seemed to understand. “All right, Miss Mantle. I’ll try elsewhere for her. Thanks for your time.” Shutting the door, her phone started to ring. Micky thought that she was about the only person in the entire state with an actual phone. She didn’t have a cell phone, cable, or even a computer. But she had a phone that hung on the wall. Smiling, she answered it. “What do you have to say for yourself?” Mariam the Second, her voice as shrill and nasal as it could have been. “I asked you a question, Micky, and I expect an answer.” “You asked me what I had to say for myself. Since I haven’t any idea what this could be about, just tell me so that I can either tell you to go to hell or to fuck off. It doesn’t matter to me.” She heard Mariam’s sharp intake of breath and knew that she was going to scream at her about something.

“When you call the next time, make sure that you explain yourself better than you did this time.” Hanging up the phone felt good. She knew that it would be short lived, this feeling. It would piss off her sister to the point of her making a real nuisance of herself. So, when it rang again, she took her time answering it, waiting until the machine kicked in to take her message. Instead of answering it, like she’d planned, she let Mariam the Second rant. “You fucking bitch. Wait until I tell Mother what you’ve done this time. You are going to be in so much trouble.” Micky wondered if her sister realized that she was nearly twenty-five and had stopped caring what her mother had to say about her personal life when she’d been a teenager. “You need to bail out Bethany. I don’t know what they’re accusing her of, but she’s always been the nice one. You never have. She’s at county—” Micky was glad that there had been a timer on her machine. That way Mariam the Second had to call back. And she did so, three more times. The entire exchange could have just taken the one message, but Mariam the Second had to pull out all the stops and call her every name in the book. It might have been funny if it wasn’t so pathetic of her sister. When she called back the sixth time, Micky answered the phone.

Mariam was on a roll now and cursed at her again. Hanging up on her without saying a word, she waited until it rang once more before picking it up again. Mariam was much calmer this time.
“I want you to go to county lock up and pay to have Bethany gotten out of jail. This is all your fault anyway.” Micky asked her how that was possible. “You didn’t let her come and stay with you when she left her husband. The jerk was curtailing her spending. Like he didn’t have the money to burn.” “I didn’t even know Beth was married.” Mariam corrected her on the name and said that she’d been married last year. “Last year? Well, I guess by now she’d have it down pat on divorcing husbands. What one is this one? Four? Five?” “Seven. And what do you care for? It’s not like you send out Christmas cards or birthday cards. You’ve never sent one to my children, much less me.” Micky said that she didn’t care for her or her children. “What a horrible thing to say. My children are my life.” “I’m sure that they are. And someday they’re going to get life in prison for the way they act like rules don’t apply to them.” Mariam told her that they were exploring the world and that wasn’t a crime. “No, I don’t suppose you’d think so. But armed robbery and selling drugs, to most people anyway, is a crime. I guess you have your own set of rules, just like Mom and Beth do.” “It’s Bethany. And why shouldn’t we? We pay our taxes. We aren’t on welfare like most people that you more than likely hang with. Why shouldn’t we have a set of our own standards as to how we live?” Micky just laughed. “When can I tell Bethany you’re coming?

She’s been in holding all day, and she wants to go home.” “I’m not sure what you think I’m going to do, but I’m not paying to have her bailed out. You do it.” Mariam told her that her husband had put her on a budget, which didn’t include bailing her sister out. “I always knew that Michael was a smart man.” “I’ve not been married to Michael for nearly ten years. You should be ashamed of yourself for not knowing that. But my new husband, Neil Patterson, is a great deal smarter than I thought he was. I will be filing for divorce from him soon enough. I just have to stash away more money first.” Micky decided to find out who he was and let him know what his wife was doing. “Now that we’ve established that I’m not able to do it, that only leaves you.” “No, it doesn’t. And no, I’m not doing it. You’ll have to figure something else out. What did they arrest her on, anyway?” She told her. “Making a nuisance of herself? Yeah, well that does sound like something that Beth would do. Who did she bother? I’m sure that it was someone she wanted to accuse of something.”

“It’s Bethany, which isn’t that hard of a name to remember, Micky. Say it with me. Bethany. And she had every right to be there at her former home. She hadn’t been able to get her things out of the house before he had the locks changed. What a horrible man to do that to our sister.” “She’s only my sister when she or you want something. Same with you. I’m not going to do it. And don’t call here again. I won’t be answering the phone when you call.” Hanging up this time felt better than it had before. Taking the phone off the hook so that it would ring busy, she went back to her book and decided to just go to bed. Her family always landed on their feet, and this time, Micky knew, would be no different.

Going to bed, Micky knew that she wasn’t going to rest well. Whenever she had to deal with her family it was the same thing. She’d be all stressed out and her belly would rebel. Micky tried to count sheep and then name the presidents and their vice presidents. When neither worked, she got up to go to work. Today was going to be hard, she knew that. One or all of them would be looking for her. Micky decided at the last minute to leave her purse at home with her cards and money in it. All she had on her when she left was her lunch, having left her keys inside as well. There was a hidey key that she could get in with, so she felt like she was safe from them taking what didn’t belong to them. She told her boss about them as she clocked in. He said that he’d be ready for them. She hoped she was too.

 

 

Griffith: The English Dragon Release Day & Giveaway

 

Griffith was a very old and powerful dragon and just the opposite of his twin James. The only thing they had in common was their looks, they were identical. James, although first born and immortal, didn’t inherit the dragon gene and had held that over Griff’s head their entire lives. Anything Griff got, James felt it should be his instead.

Griff found his mate, Lilac, by chance. She had just barely escaped James’s evil clutches, and the moment she saw Griff she was terrified that they were one and the same.

Lilac was a water faerie, and daughter to the queen of faeries which made her queen of the water, but that was a secret she would have to keep to herself. That knowledge in the wrong hands could spell disaster, especially if James found out. Lilac was slow to trust, but Griff made it difficult not to love him. And when Griff suddenly disappeared, would he be able to forgive her for holding such a secret? Trust worked both ways and that was one huge secret.

 

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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.

 

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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Kip moved along the walls and decided that he didn’t care for the smell or anything about this place. Not now, anyway. After it was abandoned, it had become a place to flop for all manner of things. It was dirty, filled with scents that made even his dragon sick. Well, he was going to take care of this place, once and for all. As soon as he was able to shift, to burn the place to the bare walls, Griffith showed up. Like he needed him to be there to witness his shame.

“I just heard. I’m so sorry, my friend.” Kip asked him what he’d heard. “You know what I’ve heard about this place. And before you ask, no, neither Danburn nor the others know. I’ve come to help you. If you’ll allow it.” “They ruined it all.” Griff, what he’d been calling him since they’d met, nodded and told him he was sorry again. “Yes, well, so will they when I find them. Have you seen your brother again?”

“No, not since yesterday. He’d been by the house a couple of times before I brought Em home, apparently—I was out of town. But no, we’ve not spoken since yesterday. James is going to be trouble, I think. That’s not right—he is definitely going to be trouble. I don’t understand him most of the time. I mean, why the fuck hasn’t anyone taken him to task yet?” Kip asked him why he’d not done it either. “I can’t. I made a promise to my mother that I’d not harm him. Then she revised that to I couldn’t kill him after James killed my father. I don’t want to do either, to be honest, but he’s after something that belongs to me. I found her, Kip. Just before my brother would have killed her. He would have, too.” “I’m so glad that you’ve found your mate.

And so you know, I really like her too.” He looked around the castle that had been in his family for several hundred generations. “They have been here too long, I think. I know that you’re aware of my family situation, and I have to tell you, I’m ashamed to be related to them, especially my mother, in all this. Why couldn’t we all have parents like Danburn does? But I guess we don’t get to pick our relatives.

I just want to get rid of all this and then start anew. I was just going to do that when you showed up.” “I’d gladly help you.” Kip didn’t want to be beholden to anyone, but of all the people he knew, Griff would be the most helpful and the kindest of anyone. “I can start on the upper levels and you at the bottom. We can meet in the middle and then start on the lawns around the place.” Kip told him that he was grateful for his help and made his way to the lower level. Kip felt the pull of his dragon and let him consume him. His dragon was much like Danburn in that he was several hundred times larger than his other self, but he wasn’t nearly as strong as the king was. Spraying flames all over the sub flooring of his ancestral home, Kip watched as everything that had been left behind by his family was burned away. Good riddance to it all. He thought about what he’d had to endure by living here as a young dragon. Not just the hatred of his parents, but that of the town here as well. Few knew that he had
spent his life living no more than a few leagues from Danburn, but even fewer knew that the inhabitants of the castle here were his parents and his siblings. And he liked it that way. None of them had been happy that he’d been born and that he’d lived. He had an older brother and a sister that had had their lives pretty perfect, according to them, when he’d come into the world to upset their lives.

Kip had no idea how they’d come to that conclusion, but they had made his life a living hell from the moment he’d been hatched. And had nearly killed him on several occasions. But now they were all gone, and he hoped that they’d stay that way. He’d not heard from them nor seen them in more years than he could count, which by his estimation wasn’t nearly long enough. Not to say that they were dead—Kip knew that it was only a matter of time before they’d return now that he was the sole owner of the family castle. What they didn’t know was that he’d become much more powerful than any of them, even all together, due in part to his being on the good side of a dragon who was very powerful, not to mention the king of them all. He was on the second level of the castle when he could see that the heat of the stone was burning things on this level too.

His work was nearly finished here in cleaning things out. The real work, getting it back to its former glory, would take a great deal longer. But he was up for the task. He only hoped that in a few months, he felt the same way. The walls of the castle would not crumble under the heat of his breath, but they would remain hot for a very long time. Since it had been created for a dragon and by one, it would not burn and fall under the heat of one. It was said that if a dragon were to heat a stone with his breath, it would be a decade or more before it would be cool enough to touch. He hoped in his case that it was true, and that it would be just hot enough to keep his family away. But he knew better. Watching it all burn away with a kind of contentment that he’d not had in a while, he looked at Griff when he came toward him as his dragon. The two of them shifted and became themselves, basking in the heat they’d made as well as what they’d been able to do in such a short amount of time.

Not that Kip couldn’t have done it on his own, but having someone with him made his heartbreak better. They looked to be a matched set of dragons, both of them as green as the grasses that had once been around the keep—but that was about as far as the similarity went. And, he thought, that was what had made them such good friends over the decades— opposites attracting. The two of them were perfect in that saying. Kip was one to jump into a situation that might get him into trouble, and most of the time, that was the point. Griff was more cautious, and someone that never took chances that he didn’t have to. Kip supposed it was because of his family, namely his brother. James had been a troublesome person since he’d been born, and was forever taking chances on things that were better left alone. And having Griff around just made it clearer, to anyone who was around them for very long, just how horrific James was.

They were standing outside the castle walls when they sat down to watch the heat dance off the top of the turrets. It really wasn’t much to see, not out here, but the glow
and ebbing of the castle walls from hot to cooler was a beautiful sight to behold. Neither of them said much as the darkness spread over the lands, with only the lights from the stone in front of them to light the way. Kip asked Griff what he’d found out about James. “He’s been around hurting women again. And he had my mate for a time as well. He’d not raped her, thankfully for him, but she’s been hurt. I have her at the house now, as safe as I can make her. But she doesn’t trust that James and I are two different people yet, so I’ve introduced her to the staff and told her that I’d return. James now looks for her, thinking to take all that she has and make it his own before he kills her. Or before he would have tried to kill her.” Kip had heard from others how sadistic James was. And that he never left a woman—or man, for that matter—in one piece if he had the time to make them suffer in horrific ways.

“My mate, she’s a faerie of some considerable age. But her magic has been depleted by trying her best to stay away from James and heal herself. Right now I have Bud working with her to get her wounds healed.” “Does James know that it was you who bought the family home?” Griff nodded with a large grin. “I wish I could have been there when you told him. I can only imagine what he had to say about that. I’m sure that he wasn’t particularly nice about it.” “No, not even close to it. He wants me to give him money. Or gems. I told him that I wouldn’t, thinking, and rightly so, that he’d only be back for more and more.” Griff looked at the castle while he continued. “He killed our father and mother. I don’t know how it happened with Mother, but Dad had his head removed, and James left him for the buzzards to feast on. Had I not come along, I have no idea what might have happened to his body.” Kip told him what he’d heard about James. It wasn’t as if he’d been spying on him, but Griff had asked him to keep an eye out for him and anything that he might know of women he might have harmed.

And there had been plenty over the ensuing years. James was making quite a name for himself when it came to his murderous ways. “There are four women that I know of for sure that he’s killed. For two of them I’ve compensated their families, and the other two, their entire families were killed as well. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but he’s wanted by the council as well. Why they’ve not found him yet is beyond me. It’s not as if he is keeping himself hidden away.” Griff nodded and told him that he’d pay Kip back for the other families. “No need for that, Griff. You would and have done the same for me. Not for a death, but in helping me get back up on my feet.” “You’re my friend, Kip. Forever and a day will you have a friend in me as well. But with James…. The council has contacted Danburn about him. He only came to me yesterday about it. I’m aware of James’s misdeeds, but not all of it, apparently. He’s been on a murderous streak for the last few months. And I’ve been given permission to take care of him, anyway that I feel necessary.” Kip whistled.

“Yes, you can well imagine the ways to rid myself of him too. Except for the promise I made.” “Your mother, do you think he actually killed her? I mean, she was a very powerful dragon on her own. But she was also one of the founding women of the set of bylaws.” Griff said that there was no other explanation for where she might have gone. Her body
had disappeared. “Yes. There is a rumor that she was so heartbroken that she died just to be with her mate. There is a faerie garden that is hers and his as well. I have seen it.” “As have I. The faeries about, they’ve made sure that it hasn’t been discovered by anyone with ill intentions. And yes, that would include James. Some think that he would rob their graves just to be able to take what doesn’t belong to him.” Kip knew that as well. “Did you know that he has made it his business to find where there are faerie gardens and destroy them? He doesn’t even have to know the person there, he just destroys everything about it. I cannot believe at times that we’re from the same parents. The only thing I can figure that’s going to stop James is someone to kill him.

But it can’t be me.” “I know about blood promises, Griff. I myself had to promise that I’d not harm anyone in my family as well.” But his promises were not made between him and his parents, but him and Danburn. And Kip was sure that if it came down to it, Danburn would allow him to do whatever was necessary to end their reign of terror. Starting on the lawns as the sun was coming up around them, they burned most of it away because of the neglect. Kip thought about all the things he’d have to do to bring the house back to its former glory. First and foremost, he was going to find someone to help him with putting a ward on the place, to not only keep the vermin away, but his family as well. Laughing to himself, he thought they were just as much vermin as any other animals that could breach his home. By the time daylight was fully making itself known to them, he and Griff had burned away all of the fallen trees and pulled what the brownies could use to one side. There wasn’t as much as he’d hoped, but it was there for them to use however they wished. Kip owed a great deal to all the creatures of the lands. ~*~ Em woke up and looked around. The man, her mate, had brought her here several hours ago, and now that she was in a place that she could not only rest but heal, she wondered what he’d want in return. Everyone, to her anyway, wanted something for the smallest of deeds they did for you. This man, related to the horrid James, would be no better. The door opened just as she was getting up, and she stared at the woman standing before her.

Em dropped to the floor when she realized that she’d been rude in her greeting. The laughter that came from the beautiful woman had her peeking up to see what had been so funny. “Please don’t do that. It makes me feel silly, and I’m sure that having your bottom up in the air like that isn’t the least bit comfortable to you either. I do envy you being able to do that, however. Feeling like an overgrown elephant doesn’t give me the agility that I once had.” Em looked at her while sitting on her knees. “Come now—you’ve been hurt, and I don’t stand on ceremony when you’re family. And you are, as Griff’s mate.” “I know his name, but I’m not going to be the mate to a sadistic bastard. If it’s all the same to you, now that I’m better healed, I’ll just leave.” The woman, the queen of dragons, sat down on the chair that was by the bed. When asked to have a seat as well, Em wasn’t sure what to do.

“Please, have a seat and we’ll get to know each other.” She had no choice but to sit on the side of the bed, trying her best to keep her head lower than the queen’s. “Don’t do that. Don’t think that you are less than myself when I’d like nothing more than for us to be friends. What’s your name? I forgot to ask Griff when he told us that you were here.” “I’m Emerald of the Water. My family dates back more years than could be counted by any human. You’re the queen of dragons, mate to the king, Danburn.” The woman laughed and told her that was her. But for her to call her Kendrick. “I cannot do that, my lady. Even with you saying that you wish us to be friends, I’ll not breach protocol and be so familiar with you.” “All right. For now, anyway. I’ve come to talk to you about Griff and his brother James. I wasn’t even aware, to be honest, that he had a brother, much less a twin. I’m to understand that they look like the same person. And other than James being so heavy, there’s no way you can tell them apart. However, from what I’ve been able to find out, that is where the resemblance ends. They’re as different as night and day when it comes to temperament and kindness.” “So you say. I spent two days with James, and I can tell you that there is not another person like him, thankfully.

” Em watched the other woman and knew that she was breeding—the size of her belly made her think that she was close, too. She wondered if she knew that she was having a girl, but didn’t say anything—it wasn’t any of her business. “The other man, he said that his name was Griffith. Is this his home? He told me that he was bringing me here to heal, but that’s all I know.” “Yes. This is his home. And he’s away right now helping Kip. Griff asked me to come by and see if you needed anything. And since he knows what you are, he’s asked that I tell you that the lake nearby is there for you to use. Danburn had the lake made so that his dragon could swim in it without any troubles. It’s very deep, from what I’ve been told. But I do know that it will hold his dragon, so you should have no problems with it.” “I will need to submerge myself to heal completely. What sort of tax will I need to pay to be able to use the king’s lake? I have little money with me, and nothing to show for my life here on this earth.” Kendrick told her that it was there for her to use. “For free? I doubt that you believe that either. Everyone wants something.” “Not here we don’t. And especially not family. You’re going to have to learn to trust us, Em. We have nothing but your goodwill in mind when we offer you something. I’m not sure why you’re so hard on us when you’ve only just met us. However, I’d very much appreciate it if you didn’t lump all of us in the same category as you have James.” Her temper was showing, and Em had a feeling that it wasn’t often that she lost it. “Now, we’re going to get you dressed, unless you can do that on your own.” “I can. I have magic to keep myself safe.” Kendrick nodded and stood up. “I don’t want to be here, my lady. James will find me, and I will not subject myself to his kind of…to him at all.”

“I don’t know him, as I have said. But Danburn does, and his hatred of the man is enough for me to dislike him too. I know that James is around, and that he’s not a dragon. But as far as what he’s done, as I said, I don’t know yet. There wasn’t time for me to do a complete search of him and his trouble. But you can trust me to know that before he comes sniffing around here again, I’ll be better prepared for his ass.” Em didn’t want to like this woman, didn’t trust her either. But she had a feeling that she would get to the bottom of anything she set her mind to. “You should meet the staff here. I know that you’ve talked to Bud, but there are many more here that are excited to meet you.” “I have nothing to offer them.” Kendrick asked her what she thought they’d need from her. “I don’t know. A lady of the house? A person who might know how to have a staff? I’ve been on my own longer than you’ve been around.

Not to say that I’m insulting you, never that. But I don’t know how to be a proper lady to a house like this. Nor to a man such as Griff. I’m just a faerie.” “Just a faerie? I don’t know you well yet, but I have a feeling that you are no more just a faerie than I am just a woman.” Kendrick stood up and Em dressed, then did the same. Taking her cues from the other woman, Em dressed in jeans and a large T-shirt. No shoes, however. Em didn’t care for them. “Now, I’ve heard from Griff. He’s on his way back here from helping Kip. Griff also said that he’s not seen James around, so you might be all right to venture out if you wish, but not too far. I guess he no more trusts James than you do.” “He tried to rape me. James did, I mean. He’s not a person that I’d be around at all if I could help it. You should also take it easy. He’ll harm you and your child if given the chance.” Kendrick turned to look at her as they were going down the stairs.

“It was more than that, a great deal more, but I knew that as soon as he was finished with me, he’d murder me. That day wasn’t one of the days when I’d gladly have that happen.” “You wish to die other days?” Em saw no reason to lie to her, not that she could anyway, so she nodded at her. “I see. And this day, is it a good day or one that I have to watch out for you?” “I don’t appreciate you making fun of me. I don’t want to be around most days. It’s difficult to be what I am and have to deal with the shit that comes along all the time.” Kendrick said nothing. “I need to get out of here. I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to be.” “I’m sorry that you thought I was making fun. I wasn’t. I can understand completely how down you can be. I was for most of my life before meeting Danburn. I had a sister and a mother that were as bad, I think, as James is. My mother shot me in the head and left me for dead, and then couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t help her and Louise when I was put in foster care to heal.” Em felt terrible for being so short with her and said as much.

“It’s all right. How would you have known? But you have to trust me when I tell you that we’re all here for you. All of us.” “To what point? I mean, what will you want from me in exchange? I have nothing, as I have said, but my magic. And while it’s considerable, it’s not much in comparison to what dragons might have. Especially dragons that are the king and queen of their
kind.” Em went down the rest of the stairs and turned to look at the younger woman. “I afraid that whatever Griff might want from me, I won’t submit to him. I’m my own person, and he’ll have to deal with that.” “I have no idea what this conversation is about, but you’ll never have to submit to anything that you don’t wish to. I’m not my brother.” Em turned to look at the man as he stood in the doorway to the other part of the house.

“My name is Griffith Alexander Farley, the fourth Earl of Alexander’s Folly. The Duke of Winebarger and Baron of Windemere Castle. I’m a dragon of good standing, and have always been. I’m not my brother.” “So you say. But how would I know that?” She felt rather than saw Kendrick leave them. But Em was going to make a point and it wasn’t going to be nice. “You have a lot of titles. You seem to be very proud of them. However, you’ll find that I could care less what you have attached to your name. I only care what you think you’re going to be doing to me.” “Do to you? Why, nothing that you don’t want. As I have said to you repeatedly, I’m not James. He’s a sadistic fuck that I have hated most of my life. He killed my parents without regard to what they were to us, simply because he could. He has murdered and taken anything that he wanted since we were children. He thought that as the first born, by only mere minutes before me, that he should have anything and everything that he wanted. And if he didn’t get it in a conventual way, he’d take it, killing whatever got into his way when he did.

” He took several steps toward her, and Em lifted her chin and didn’t move. “I’ve spoken to him about you. Or he has told me that you’re his mate and that you’ve escaped. He has no idea that you’re here, and this household will make sure that he doesn’t.” “You’re the second born? And you’re a dragon? How did that happen? He should have been given your parents’ all. No matter what he is.” Griff told her that he didn’t know, but perhaps the fates knew what sort of person James would turn out to be. “Perhaps. But I still don’t trust you. And more than likely never will. I’m very sorry for that. But I want you to know from the start my feelings on this. I might be your mate and I may have to stay here, but you’ll never own my heart. Nor my body, even if you use it.” He pulled her body to his. His grip was tight, but not painful. It was like he was possessing her in some way. When he said her name, gently, like a caress, she put her hands to his chest to push him away. But touching him, she could feel his heat, his magic, as it blanketed over her like the sun did when she had a chance to be out in it in the early morning. “I have no wish, none at all, to take anything that you aren’t willing to part with. That would include your body.” She struggled and he held her tighter. Em could feel his erection and stopped moving. “My body is reacting to how lovely you are. That you belong to us, my dragon and me. But there isn’t any way that I’d take from you, not with your heart as broken as it is. I promise you this, Em. You’re as safe with me as you would be with your own mother, if she is as kind as you are.”

He let her go and took a step back. Em was slightly unsteady on her feet, but held onto the table that was just behind her. Watching him, she could see the struggle he was having too. Whether it was from wanting to take her, his anger, or something else, she couldn’t tell. But when he turned and made his way back the way he’d come, Em held tighter to the table so that she’d not fall on her face. “Christ.” That about summed it up, she thought. She was mated to a dragon—a very strong and old one. And his brother was out there, trying his best to take her and then kill her. Em sat down on the floor and called out to her own faerie. Sunny came to her immediately. She needed the strength that the small faerie would give her, and closed her eyes when her magic healed all her wounds but the deeper cut on her leg. It was painful, but not nearly as much as her heart was broken right now. She thought about leaving—just disappearing into the outside and hoping no one would find her. But she also knew that once she left there, Griff would find her. And while she didn’t think that he’d hurt her for leaving, she just didn’t know. He was, as she thought, a dragon with considerable strength, and not one to fuck with. Getting up, she made her way in the direction that Griff had taken. It led her right to the kitchen, the heart and soul of any home that a dragon had. Sitting down when she was asked, a large platter of greens and flowers was set in front of her.

Griff was having a sandwich as large as her arm, and a salad as well. Picking up the fork to fortify herself with her meal, she kept a careful eye on her host. Em didn’t smell poisons or any other kind of mixture to make her ill, but she was very cautious as to what she put in her mouth. The salad was good, just the right mixture of different greens with a beautiful array of edible flowers. It wasn’t until she was finished that she realized that he was staring at her. Pushing her plate away, she stared right back. “I’ve some news if you’d like it.” Em asked him what it was about.

“You and James. Mostly him and what he’s saying about you. He is spreading the word that you’re his mate and that the two of you had a tiff—his words, not mine. No one is saying anything. Not that they knew you were here, but Danburn is making sure that everyone knows that James is trouble and they shouldn’t interact with him. Also, he’s asked that everyone go around in pairs or more so as not to be a target before he can be caught. I’m to understand from some of his other victims’ families that it matters little to him whether you’re male or female.” “That’s right. If he’s around, why is no one catching him? It would seem to me that this is an easy catch. Or am I wrong about that?” He said that she wasn’t. “Then why is he still on the streets?” “He’s not a dragon.” She started to ask him what the hell that meant when it occurred to her. “I can see by your face that you get it. There is not one group that wants to take responsibility for his actions. The dragon council knows that he is the son of a dragon, but he’s not one. The paranormal council won’t touch him for the same reasons. Everyone wants him put away, but no one wants to do it. I call that lazy, but then that’s just me.”

“And what happens when he kills again? Will someone step in then?” Griff shrugged. “You don’t care if he kills again, or you don’t care who takes him away? I know that he’s your brother. Is that the reason why he’s still out there terrorizing people?” “I care very much if he kills again. But I cannot, for personal reasons, do anything about it. And I washed my hands of James long ago. Just after our mother was presumed dead by his hand. Would I like to have him killed? Yes, with all my heart.” Em asked him what had happened to his mother. “My mother was fed iron every day for several weeks. He admitted that, in addition to admitting that he killed our father. James removed our father’s head one afternoon when our father refused to turn the family fortune over to him. As you can well imagine, he’s not welcome around here or anywhere that he might put his hat.” Em started to tell him that she’d gladly kill James when Griff suddenly stood up. She did as well and waited for him to tell her what was going on. As he rushed to the door, he told her not to leave the house, that James was nearby. Sitting back down, she had to wonder what James had done now.

 

 

 

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Lincoln The Manning Dragons Release Blitz & Giveaway

 

Lincoln figured the new artist in town would be one of their mates. He’d heard she was a real ball buster and thought that maybe she would be Tristan’s mate because Tristan said he couldn’t handle that. But when Ginger introduced him to her sister, Grace, he knew from the moment he touched her she was meant for him.

Grace was in shock. Garrett had taken her into his office when the show was still going on and told her that she had all but one of her paintings sold, including the twelve that she’d given him permission to sell. Twice now she’d had to put her head between her knees, which wasn’t easy with the dress she had on, in order to not pass out. Sold all but one? How was that even possible?

Lincoln sat at her feet on the hem of her dress. His attempt to to calm her shaky nerves had her about addled, and when Grace suddenly stood, the dress ripped from shoulder to hip. Standing there trying to get herself covered, she felt her temper snap. Now what was she supposed to do? Grace didn’t know whether to kick him or beg him to help her.

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Cooper Manning and his five brothers were true dragons. Centuries ago, when the humans had turned on their kind, their father sacrificed himself to save his sons by casting a powerful spell which allowed them to walk among the humans. Even centuries later, Cooper couldn’t seem to let go of the past and despised most humans.

Carson Langley was exhausted. After being forced to work thirty-six hours straight, she unwittingly complained to the new plant owner, now she knew she was fired. There was nothing left to do but go home and cry about it later.

Cooper was sent by his brother to retrieve the helpful woman and bring her back to the plant, and he wasn’t happy about it either. It didn’t help that when she answered the door she shared his sour mood, and when he touched her hand, the magic that surged between them meant only one thing—she was his other half, and she was human…. Cooper was seeing red.

 

Winnie wasn’t happy with Cooper at all. She had only done as ordered and had spent five years in prison because of it. Cooper was supposed to protect her, but he didn’t. Now the dragon king wanted her to protect them all from the new slayers in town? How was that fair? The sooner she completed her mission, the sooner she could move on and leave it all behind her.

Hudson had been told that Cooper had hired a man by the name of Wendall. He just wanted to meet him so he could measure his worth, but when the door opened, the woman behind it was writhing in pain. He only meant to help her, but the moment he touched her, her pain became his as well.

Winnie had been appointed by the Dragon Board to be their protector long before last names were given. She had hunted her first, expecting to be paid by coin, but was rewarded instead with magic and a title. She didn’t have time to take a mate, much less a Manning. She had too much work to do.

The word “no” wasn’t in Hudson’s vocabulary. Winnie was his mate and he’d do whatever he had to claim her.

With slayers lurking in the shadows, Winnie has her hands full, and can’t let a new mate distract her. She had to remain on her toes or all would be lost….

 

 

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Lincoln looked at the bins being filled with food and the ice going into the meat display. It was finally here. The grand opening of the Greenhouse and Market Place, or GhMP for short. He loved it. “Hey, Lincoln? You have a minute?” He said that he did for him. Ben was a good kid and had been there from the first. “Sure, you do. I think you’ve found out I’m the biggest pain in the ass here. But there are some veggies I wanted to ask you about. You said this stuff was from the warehouse? Well, I think they sent us the wrong stuff.” Looking it over, he wondered why he thought that until he saw the invoice on the top. This was for a store in Birmingham. Pulling out his cell phone, he called his buddy, Alex, to ask him about it. Alex Porter shipped fruits and vegetables all over the state of Ohio, and sometimes to others. And he was going to sell off his extra, sometimes damaged, things here in the marketplace. When the phone was answered, he asked to speak to Alex. When he came on the line, he explained what was going on. “It’s yours. The people declined their order for yesterday, and if you can take it off my hands, I’ll give you half. There’s an invoice that should be with it.” He told Alex that there was. “Good. She’s going to get charged for the entire invoice, so you can get what you can out of it. Her contract said that she got one chance at this and that’s all. I don’t want to have ripe fruits in my warehouse all week that’ll be rotten before the end of today. I don’t work that way. If you can sell it, I won’t have wasted my money on bringing it back to the warehouse.” “I wouldn’t even know how to price this, Alex. I know very little about fruit. And you know me, I don’t bother with the stuff unless it’s under threat of death. And don’t get me started on vegetables.” Alex asked if Ben was there. Handing him the phone so they could work this out, he walked down the rest of the causeway to make sure all the booths were filled. Lincoln could have occupied them several times over if need be. There was a waiting list about a mile long with names and products. When he saw his buddy from up north, the two of them embraced. “I’m nervous.” Peter told him he’d be too if this was his first day. “We went for a Monday morning on purpose. Sort of a soft opening. That way we can work out the kinks before the…. What are you laughing about?” “Your soft opening is for shit, you know that, don’t you?” He said that they weren’t expecting a huge crowd. “Linc, when I drove up here, I had to wait in line twenty minutes to get into the parking lot. And that’s not counting the line out front, just waiting for the doors to open. You’re going to have a very busy soft opening.” “There’s a lot of people?” He asked if he’d gotten banks for people in the event they needed cash. “Yes, just as you told— There really are that many here? We didn’t even advertise so it would be a slow day. Which it won’t be, will it? How many are out there, you think?”
“I’d say a few thousand.” Lincoln nearly fell over. And might have but for Peter grabbing him. “Just stay focused and you’ll be fine. Go tell your people to gear up, they’re coming to see them in about four minutes.” Lincoln sprinted down the lines, and into the building, to tell them. Word had traveled fast. By the time he got to the last line of the six rows of vendors, they were already putting out more of their product. He was glad now that someone had suggested he call in some off-duty cops to help with the crowd. And banks for extra cash just in case. He’d have to tell Peter thanks. “Have you seen the crowd out there?” He told Cooper not now. “I know, but you said that this was going to be a trial run, not all of the state—” “Cooper, I don’t think you’re helping.” Lincoln felt green when Carson asked if he needed anything. Then the sting to his cheek made him rub it while looking at her. “You’re just lucky I hit you and not Winnie. Now, what do you need us to do? We’re here for you.” “Take a row and see if they need anything after the first half hour. I have extra cash should they need it. I’ll give you one to sell to each vendor. There is a thousand in each, all ones and fives.” Cooper took his bag and the apron that said Marketplace on it. By the time the gates were opened, the rest of his family had shown up. He gave them each an apron and a bag of cash. Before nine-thirty, half an hour after the gates opened, he was making another run to the bank. Thank goodness it was a weekday. After about eleven, things started to slow down. Everyone he talked to while helping with the overload of customers was happy. Some said that they were never leaving. He was glad for that. And that he had taken the time to listen to everyone’s advice. It would have been a disaster if he hadn’t. He’d been about to take out an ad in the local paper. Lincoln wanted things to go well for the vendors. But he’d been told if they were overwhelmed the first day, they might not come back. Most had never done anything like this before. At noon, they got another wave of people. Businesswomen and men coming to check them out and grab some lunch. A lot of the restaurants were busy, and were also selling quite a few drinks. If this was what he could expect in May, he wondered what it could be like when the weather was hot. He’d cross that bridge when he came to it. Ben joined him. “What do you want me to do?” He asked if he had a replacement at the fruit stand. “Nah, it’s all gone. We even sold the boxes, believe it or not.” “What do you mean, it’s all gone? There was a truckload, and I do mean that literally, of things there. Did you sell that too?” “Yeah, your nephews came to help, Simon the most. We bagged and unloaded while the little one, John, pitched for me. You know, five oranges for five bucks kinda thing. You have yourself a nice barker there if you need him.” He didn’t think the kid would lie to him, but he went to check, just to assure himself. “I called Peter, and he said congrats. Also, that now he’ll know to double up this weekend. And he made a hefty profit too. He’s thrilled.”
“Are you coming back?” He asked if Simon and John were going to help. “I can ask their parents, but I think they’re here already. How long did they work? I’ll need to make sure they’re paid.” “Peter said he’d take care of them. I turned their hours in with mine. I was told to do it that way, Mr. Manning.” He wasn’t sure that he was going to agree to that but said nothing to the young man. “Also, Mr. Pack, the meat guy, fed us with his employees. Said he was having such a great day that he didn’t mind whatsoever.” Lincoln went to find Cooper and Carson to tell them the kids had done a good job. They were at the meat counter themselves, and Mr. Pack was telling him what a great day he’d had. He wanted to know if there was going to be a permanent place for him. Lincoln told him that all the inside vendors were welcome to sign a lease for their space after next week. Lincoln didn’t want anyone to feel like they’d made a mistake. “I didn’t by coming here. No siree, I’m telling you, son, I did more business today than in a month at my location. The parking is better, and people feel safer here because you have it all lit up. You did good, Lincoln. I’ll be here for as long as you’ll let me.” The man selling cookies looked as if he’d closed early, but in actuality had sold nearly every cookie and cupcake he’d brought. So, he was talking to the customers walking around and telling them he’d have more when he opened Wednesday. Everyone that he and Cooper had spoken to as they went around collecting their views on how it went today didn’t have one thing bad to say. Most had sold out before lunch, and the rest had been close to that. Even the spice guy said he’d had one of the best days ever. Cooper said that he’d bought a few things as well. “It was fun because of all the people here. Most of them were in such high spirits that it was difficult to be upset about a few extra minutes in a line.” He laughed. “You’ll need to have the port-a-john people come out more often if this is the trend here.” At midnight he was still in his office. Today’s sales were through the roof if the totals were correct. Everyone had given him their daily total so that he could go to the bank when the month was out and apply for an expansion on the land he’d already had. There were another fifteen acres where he was going to add some outdoor activities for the kids, as well as weekend vendors that sold their own art. He was just putting things away for the night when Ginger Rice came to see him. “I heard you had a good day.” He smiled and told her he’d had a fantastic one. “Good. Can you use some help with the bookkeeping? I have Cooper all settled in, and since I can do it daily now instead of catching him up, I have some spare time on my hands.” “Your sister comes tomorrow, doesn’t she? I heard she’s met Garrett and he sort of overwhelmed her a little.” She smiled and said that she was cursing like a sailor. “I’m really glad that he could help her. And yes, if you have time, I’d love for you to handle that. I have an idea what to do, but I’d be slow in learning it.” “Grace will take up some of my time, but she wants to make sure Walton isn’t going to bother us anymore. She’s hated him from the very beginning. And I’m to understand that the other day he found out I had a son, not a daughter.” He asked how that went over when she stood. “I wish he’d not found out until after the trial, but I
really don’t care. He tried to have me, and my children, killed, and he isn’t getting me back for any amount of money or begging. I’m done with his ass.” “Your happy with your house and children being around? I mean, I know it’s sort of big, but as a rental, it’s all right. Cooper has owned it for some time, I’m to understand.” She said that she was very happy with her living arrangements. “Good. Family is both good and bad at times. I’m so thankful you are the former.” “Are you saying you don’t care for yours?” He laughed and said that he loved them very much. “Then I don’t understand. I thought you guys were all very close.” “Oh, we are. Very much so. And that is the problem.” She said that she understood now. When her faerie joined them in the room, Lincoln could see that she was happy with her too. Lincoln had his own, Drizzle, and he found the little man to be quite useful. “I’ll take off now and come by sometime tomorrow. I’m to understand that after today, you won’t be open on Mondays, correct?” “You are. We took a vote, the tenants and I, and we all decided that Monday, after a long weekend, will be just be the perfect day to rest and stock up. I’m not sure what we’re doing for the Fourth just yet, but we’ll get to that soon.” She said that it was only six weeks away. “I know. Spring has just flown by, don’t you think?” “It has.” She looked around the office. “You’re going to need some supplies in here for me to work. I’ll need only a few things that I can bring from my office.” “Order what you need, and I’ll pick it up at the stationary store for you. I’ll also set up an account like my brother has. Cooper said that he’s never had it so easy before.” She told him they were making her life better. “All the same, you’re a welcome treat to have around. Even if you weren’t a wizard at bookkeeping.” After making her list, she talked to him while he finished what he had to do. She said she’d come in Monday when it would be quiet in the office. He told her that a lot of people were going to come in and do restocking, so she might want to barricade herself in the office. She laughed at that. “I’ll let them in if you make it so I know them. I don’t want to let in shoppers or some robber while I’m here.” He told her that he’d put a lock on the doors that they had to have a badge to get in with. “That’s very clever. My goodness, you Mannings sure do have a lot of experience in this, I guess.” “We’ve been around for a long time.” Ginger left after they talked for a bit. He could tell that she was excited about her sister coming while also dreading it. She sounded a little on the caustic side, and he had a feeling she was going to be his mate. Lincoln didn’t know why though. Probably because he was too busy to woo a woman, and Grace sounded like she was so far opposite of him that it sometimes made him want to crawl into a deep cave and make himself a hermit when he thought about her. But he liked people too much to do that. At one o’clock he left his office at the greenhouse. Tomorrow they were going to be open, but he both hoped and didn’t that they had another like today. The greenhouse had had a good day too, selling all the planters as well as taking orders for more. He
had a feeling that the weekend before the Fourth they were going to be really busy, due to people getting their houses ready for the big day. His house was beginning to fill out. Having the funds to have all the renovations done the way he wanted them was nice. But he was sick of having workers around all the time. Davie, the contractor, said they’d be done this coming week, and he was looking forward to it. The only rooms complete were his bedroom and the kitchen. Tomorrow was a big day and he was going to enjoy it. There were too many things going on in his head for him to sleep, so he went for a walk. The moon was just bright enough to light his way. Lincoln loved the solitude of the woods and the bewitching hour. He also knew that he’d sleep better after a good stretch. ~~~ Grace wasn’t happy. Firstly, she felt like she was being ambushed. Secondly…well, she was pissed off. She wasn’t even sure at what just yet, but she was all the same. When the man in charge of her feeling this way came toward her, she put up her hand. “You know that you can’t keep me away. I just came to tell you that you’ve sold another painting.” She looked at him with a stern eye. “You can glare all you want, but I did tell you that you’d have a good showing.” “It’s not even until tonight. How are these people—? You’re letting some come in now?” He said that they were his patrons. “I don’t care if they’re your brothers, you said that I’d have a good show tonight. I’m not prepared for this.” “That’s why you have me.” She could honestly say that she could gladly kill Garrett Massey and whoever had told him about her. If it was Ginger, she was going to murder her too. “There are things going on in your head that are very frightening, aren’t they?” “I’m planning your demise.” He laughed. The man was forever doing that. “What do I do if there isn’t anything left to sell? Not that I think that’s going to happen. But do you have a backup plan if it does?” “Yes, talk you into the other twelve paintings that you have stashed in my office. You let me put them out and we’ll have an even better showing.” She said that she didn’t care anymore. “Seriously? Great. I have just enough time to display them. And since you don’t want to know what I’m selling them for, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised, I think.” “I don’t know how you sold the first one, much less two. Those prices are well above what I would have sold them for, aren’t they?” He said again that was why she had him. “I don’t know what’s going on. What if these people get home and say they don’t like them? Are you going to make me give you the money back?” “I don’t think anyone is going to do that. And they sign a contract when they buy a piece of work from here; it’s theirs. You worry too much, sweetie.” He laughed again, and she wanted to punch him. Twice. “Besides, I doubt very much that once your name gets out there, anyone will want to return them. You’ll be a hit, and those first pieces will be worth a great deal more than they are right now.” “They’re not worth the price you’re putting on them. I don’t know how much, but I know it’s more than I would have charged. Also, I can’t believe people are going to pay
you whatever you want for my work. It’s insane.” He kissed her on the forehead and she stood there when he walked away. She wanted her sister. Grace wasn’t one to whine and complain. She was more the type of person that took care of things when they came up, and usually with flare. At least that’s what she called it. Her flare was to ignore the person causing her issues. Or—and it amazed her how many times this plan came up—she kicked the shit out of them. Pulling out her cell, she called her sister. “I was wondering if you’d call.” Grace felt better just hearing her voice. “I just laid Mattie down for a nap and I’m feeding Wendall, so you can talk to me all you want.” “You’re so domestic. I miss that about you.” Her sister laughed and told her she could be too. “No way. I don’t like people. I called to see if you’re still going to make it tonight. You’re my rock.” “I am. I have the best sitter ever keeping an eye on the children, and I have this dress that is going to make you jealous.” She hadn’t told her sister that she’d had a makeover and felt foolish in her own. “All of the Mannings are coming too. You’re going to be overwhelmed, all right. Just don’t hit any of them.” “I don’t hit people right off the bat.” She laughed with Ginger. “I’ve warned Garrett we’re twins and it’s difficult to tell us apart. Hopefully everyone will think you’re the artist and leave me alone.” “And what would I say if they were to ask about a piece? Nothing. I wouldn’t even know what to tell them about the kind of paint you use. Besides, you’ll be just fine.” Ginger told her to hang on. “I had to switch boobs.” “You don’t need to tell me that.” She did though, and it was great that her sister was so happy. “I’ve hired this guy to take care of my work. Though I don’t think there was ever a doubt to him that he was. He seems to think that I’m the best thing since sliced bread. And that’s what he said to me. And he’s a tiger.” “Yes, I know that. The men here, they have all kinds of paranormals coming in and out all the time. I’m getting good at telling the difference. Oh, and I took on another client. I’ll be doing Lincoln’s books now too. I’m having so much fun.” She told her only she would have fun with numbers. “They sing their song to me. And you should know how that is. You tell me all the time how your muse seems to call to you. Does he still zone you out when you paint, like he did all the time?” “Yeah, I’m weird like that.” She saw Garrett pulling her paintings out to the floor. “I have to go and see what he’s about. I gave him the last of twelve to put out for tonight. I think I’ll be bringing them when I come see you.” She wanted to bring her sister home with her, to her house, but she didn’t have that anymore. As soon as she told her landlord she was going away for an extended period, he told her that he was selling the house and she might as well move out. It was very abrupt, but she knew it was coming. He was ninety-two and had no one to help him with rentals anymore. “I had to sell, honey. I loved you being here all the time, but I’m falling more and more, and I can’t be doing that and living by myself. I got into one of the assisted living places. They’ll even do my clothes for me. Imagine that, why don’t you, somebody to
wash my undies.” They laughed. “I’ll give you back your deposit, and you can take your time moving out. I’m sorry.” She and Ginger talked about this and that when they were on the phone nowadays. It was comforting because Ginger was so calm. They talked mostly about the children, who Grace was excited to see. Mattie had been just a wee thing the last time she’d seen her, and now there was a little boy. Ginger deserved so much better than the ass that had taken her. “I have to go, sweetie. We need to get dressed up, and I should do that now while Wendall and Mattie are asleep. I’ll see you tonight and you’ll be coming with us.” She said that she hoped she could find a place to live. “You will. You can live with us. We’ll have good times again.” After hanging up, she went to the office to see what was left. Really, it was to hide out. She really wasn’t very good with people. They made her freeze up. She thought that was why she painted, just to escape the world. Last night, it had taken her an hour tossing and turning to realize she wasn’t going to sleep. So instead of continuing down that futile path, she got up and pulled out her things. The hotel she was staying at, thanks to Garrett, said she could paint in her room but would be responsible for any damage done to it. Garrett had put down a large deposit and told her that he’d pay for any damages. To paint when the mood struck her was something she couldn’t do without. It, like her sister and her children, calmed her in ways she couldn’t explain. Last night’s painting had been the best she thought she’d ever done. For some reason the idea of a large castle had come to her. Not the pretty kind with turrets with flags and flowers at the front. This one was dark and full of secrets that only the ghosts that lived there were aware of. And they were going to keep out everyone that tried to come to the big stack of stone. As she painted, seeing it in her mind’s eye, she got more information on the inhabitants there, and was glad for the lights when the darkness of the place started to make itself known to her. Death was all over it. It had been in a siege and many lives were lost. The king had killed his wife, to save her from certain death that would not be easy on the delicate lady. Then he’d thrown himself out the window, sure that it would be preferable than the one the new king would have for him. There were other stories like that one, but she loved rather than hated them. Part of the castle wasn’t coming to her, but she was all right with that. Instead of trying to make it, she just painted something else on it. The broken gates, the large stones at intervals around the place. There were other things that had fallen into disrepair, but she had a feeling the castle and its surroundings were going to be something that would haunt her forever. Like the unfinished part of the castle, something was blocking her from seeing it all. When she stepped back from it when her alarm went off to get up, she was amazed at the detail. But then she was like that with each of her paintings. But in this one, this was calling to her in a different way. Like she had the unfinished business, not the castle. Cleaning up, she noticed something that she hadn’t before. The makings of a
dragon that seemed to be flying over the castle, the part that she’d not finished. Seemingly protecting it from whatever was coming for it. Or her. “What is wrong with you?” she had asked herself. “It’s a painting, not a fortune teller. Get a grip, dumbass.” And now here she sat, wanting to work on it, but knowing that for now it was as finished as she could make it. Until…whatever was needed for her to do was ready. Laughing to herself, she decided to return to the hotel anyway and get dressed. Tonight was going to be huge for her, and she’d get to see her sister. Taking a second shower, Grace pulled her hair into a ponytail and then braided it. After wrapping it with a rubber band, she coiled it around her head, mostly to keep it out of her face. Then she pulled her dress on. Black, Garrett had told her— to show how important she was. Instead she felt foolish. She never wore dresses at all, and this was strange. It was more of a sheath, she supposed. There wasn’t any kind of nipping at the waist. The only part that was tight was around her breasts. And there was a slit up the side that showed off her entire leg and most of her thigh. She wasn’t thrilled about that, but it was the only dress they had in her size that was black. She was going to have to do some serious shopping if she had to do this very often. Grace did not like showing off more than she saw in her mirror every day.