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Annette Blair, NY Times & USA Today Bestseller

 

 

 

 

 

 

VAMPIRE DRAGON

Paranormal Romance

 

by

Annette Blair

Works Like Magick Novel

Book Three

April 2011

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Chapter One

 

Darkwyn Dragonelli tucked and rolled into a damp, pungent alley and came to a forced stop against a pair of well-turned ankles, one of them about to puncture his shoulder with the spike at its heel.

“What have we here,” she with the spikes asked. “A naked acrobat? Don’t kneel there hiding your assets. Stand and introduce yourself.”

Darkwyn ran his slow gaze upward, along a set of curves that could make a dragon man weep. She wore boots of a sort, that ended at her thighs, slick-black leg-huggers with the supple, sturdy texture of leather, though he could see himself in them.

On her face, her horned mask of the same sheen revealed a striking pair of bold violet eyes. Eyes that met his, head on, no backing down, a gaze that brought his heart to life, and, oddly, to beat in time with hers, a heart of flawless beauty.

Darkwyn took pause. How would he know how fast her heart beat, how beautiful it was? Unless—

No. Per Andra, his guardian, he must seek his heart-mate—the single female in the universe whose heart he could see for its undeniable beauty and whose mind and emotions spoke to his.

Heart-mates did not stand waiting at the threshold of the veil, destination side, no matter how tempting and extraordinary their hearts.

Did they? Did his?

As if to prove his argument, the stunner’s valor yielded to hesitant confusion, and she stepped back, boots squeaking when they rubbed together. She seemed as perplexed as he. Except, she did not have the Goddess Andra’s counsel on seeking heart mates, nor would she be of a mind to find hers, in the way he must seek his own.

Without another word, she quit the dim alley for the sunny outdoors, her long violet hair bouncing off her perfect backside with every sultry swing of her hips, in the same way the door bounced behind her.

She’d made an escape of sorts, but why?

The action concerned him, as if she refused to succumb to her own inner thoughts, an attitude that might concern her life quest, soon to be his . . . in the event she was his heart mate.

Absurdly, as he watched her go, Darkwyn sensed that he wanted more from the enchantress, but what exactly? Besides seeing behind her mask. Why show courage one moment and run the next?

He sensed her unease and did not feel mistaken in that. Did the violet-eyed wonder have the sight like Andra? Could this splendid earthling who braved him in the present expect to fear him the future? A question not to be answered until, if and when, at some point in time, they met once more.

Subject closed. Perhaps.

Darkwyn took a moment to appreciate the quiet after his erratically raucous passage through the ether, avoiding clawed, wailing felines and the colorful mockery of a dive-bombing bird. Magickal creatures all, per Andra’s invisible assurance.

Their caws and mews filled the distance, still, but Darkwyn saw nothing of their owners as his cramped legs forced him to rise to his surroundings.

Ah, he’d not been crouched in an alley but behind a half wall. And judging by the sea of gape-jawed patrons, he stood in a publick house and must appear to have risen as if from the dead. Close enough.

Given his lack of dress, Darkwyn appreciated the waist-high flat-topped divider between himself and his watchers.

He took in the sweet-sour scents of fermented grapes and roasting meats. He observed the wary, hostile whisperers, clear tankards in hand, and found this to be an extraordinarily ordinary world, much like the one he left centuries before, when Killian of Chaos turned his Roman legion into dragons in an evil act of spite.

Civilization, Andra might call this. But given the expressions on the human types watching him, civil did not fit the mood. Nevertheless, Darkwyn firmed his spine, thinking he might, after all, prefer drowning in lava to standing here.

But Andra’s words rang true: “No going back.”

His throat rusty, he had yet to form a word. A dragon, silent for centuries, now a man, again he firmed his lips. Telepathy and dragon speak, he knew well, with but a rudimentary grasp of English, thanks to Andra.

He employed it attempting a telepathic call for help, but no one replied. So he raised his chin, revealed no fear, and regarded his watchers as steadily as they did him.

Astonishing, women sitting with men in an alehouse. Neither serving wenches nor prostitutes, they drank the fruit of the vine wearing less than dancing girls. Another world, this, where camp followers lived equal to men, and birds squawked in the distance.

Ah, his magickal companion, set to breach the veil, perhaps, since magickal supernaturals journeyed at different speeds.

Cranky bird would enjoy the hostility here—wherever here may be.

Darkwyn looked from one to the other of his watchers and felt the need to grab a nearby flask by its neck, while in his left hand, he hid a fist sized island diamond from Andra Goddess of Hope, a stone rough and raw for ‘she who would acclimate him,’.

Raising his weapon-flask warmed local expressions, their amusement giving him hope. Not as hostile as he surmised.

Thankfully, Jagidy, his sea green guardian dragon arrived, and flew about, emitting a faint air-shivering whistle as he smoke-tested the area. Green smoke meant neither good nor bad, but an inability by the guardian to detect malice or kindness, likely a result of general surprise. He’d caught them off guard, of course.

Darkwyn opened his thoughts to the miniaturized elder, now a pocket sized dragon. “Jagidy, methinks we stand in Rome no more, even the Island of Stars is a memory.”

Fortunately, no one could see Jagidy but him.

A man entered the narrow alley beside him, bearing on his shoulder a shiny silver barrel, on his face, a small mask. “What’s this?” said he. “Inebriated entertainment?” He’d come in the door through which the violet haired beauty left.

Given the man’s affability, Darkwyn lowered the flask.

“Only the bartender, and that’s me,” the masked man said, “belongs behind the bar, though I’m not sure you want to step around it advertising that fancy Johnson of yours. The ladies of Salem will follow you like rats to the sea.”

“What?” A female patron asked, stepping closer. “The ‘Jock in the Box’ is entirely naked? In that case, I’ll take one of him, to go.”

“Or come,” another said, while another moved in. The three leaned over the bar; all but popping their breasts from their clothes—and his eyes from their sockets—as they grinned at his man lance, shaped like a dragon tail, their attention making the thing misbehave.

Jagidy flew by, got an eyeful of bosom, and hit the far wall—splat—like a buzz-bee in a beaker.

“Will ‘ya look at that,” one of the camp followers said, her gaze pinned to Darkwyn’s rising soldier. “I gotta get me one of those.”

Unsure of his next move, Darkwyn backed into the rows of flasks on the wall behind him, knocking them against each other, their banes and toxicants swishing precariously. He searched his mind for their language and dared give it a try. “Where am I?”

A large, bright, airborne creature appeared and dive-bombed him. “Bite Me, Peckerhead.” The bird squawked as it perched on his head, talons closing to get a painful grip. Then the cock leaned forward and stared upside down into his eyes. “Ride in a coffin, drink some blood. It’s Bite Me at the fricken Phoenix. Run for your life!”

The bartender kicked open the screen door and tried to slap the bird with a towel. “Get lost, Nimrod.”

Darkwyn backed away, to protect his wily cohort, talons or not.

“Wanna buy him?” the bartender asked. “As far as we can tell, Puck has all the markings of a Catalina Macaw. Showed up a few days ago. Seems like forever. He’s brilliant, if off color. Quotes Ambrose Bierce, according to one customer, jokes until you want to shoot him, and cusses like a sailor. I’ll give you a great deal.”

Puck squawked. “Hypocrite: One who—professing virtues he does not respect—secures the advantages of seeming to be what he despises.” He ruffled his feathers. “Also known as a douche bag.”

The bartender scowled.

Darkwyn felt oddly uplifted.

Jagidy smoke-tested the bird while Puck fake coughed and waved off the smoke with a wing. Definitely his magick traveling companion. In which case, Darkwyn supposed it didn’t matter that Puck the cock could see Jagidy the guardian dragon, smoke and all, as long as the bird didn’t give them away.

Yellow smoke meant Puck didn’t have a malevolent bone in his bright feathered body.

Relieved, Darkwyn noticed a resolute female human—not the goddess he’d rolled into—sweeping into the pub, headed straight for him, her black-spotted, white cloak flying behind her. The cat at her side, spotted the same, stood taller and more slender than most felines.

The female bore a crown of tiny, fast-flapping air snacks, a whirr of red and green hummers and a purge of bony black pingers flitting about her head. “My name is Vivica Quinlan,” she said in telepathic dragon speak. “I’m here to acclimate you.”

Acclimate him? Not possible, he thought. Yet, the brightest of yellow smokes dissipated around her while she gave him a cloak, black as his hair, and long as his overtall body. “My acclimator,” he repeated, with sudden perception, and placed the island diamond in her hand. “From Andra, for Dragonelli expenses. She said you would understand.”

“That I do,” Vivica said.

He ducked several of her fluttering entourage until Puck held a wing straight out. From the corner of his eye, Darkwyn saw several of Vivica’s critters perched on, or hanging from, that wing.

“Don’t mind them,” Vivica said. “The bats are as harmless as the hummingbirds.”

Fine, Darkwyn thought, but which was which?

“Follow me, Dragonelli,” his acclimator said. “Your brothers are on their way.”

Her air snacks quit their perch and hovered around her head, moving with her, like a wreath of living flowers.

“If someone says something you don’t understand,” Vivica communicated, “say ‘okay.’”

“Okay,” he repeated. “But my heart mate?”

“Right,” she said, “your mandate on earth, among other tasks, is to find your predetermined heart mate and assume responsibility for her life quest, correct?” Vivica scanned the room and frowned. “Is she here?”

Darkwyn studied one female after another.

Their hearts varied as much as they. Hearts for money, Darkwyn saw in several. Hearts for lust. No kindness, no softness, a closed heart, one dark, one clouded, two as empty as the cloth-flicking bartender. “No heart mate here,” Darkwyn admitted, though he couldn’t forget the violet-eyed beauty with the cautiously-shrouded heart.

Vivica nodded. “Fine. Let’s go. Give the man the bird.”

“No way!” The bartender yelled. “I’m giving him the bird.”

“Well, Puck me,” the bird said.

 

Chapter Two

 

“Air,” Puck said, at the open door. “A nutritious substance supplied by a bountiful Providence.” And like a fair weather friend, Puck paid homage to Providence by making a break for freedom.

But the bird’s defection fell by the wayside as Darkwyn became distracted by the woman who seemed to own the sidewalk.

She stood in front of the building he exited, at the base of its wide porch, that tall violet-haired goddess, not twenty feet distant, her breasts raised by a torso-cincher as black as her horned mask and leg boots.

Watching her controlled movements, her command, men doing her bidding, held him captive.

“Bronte,” Vivica said as they embraced.  “I hoped to see you before I left, today.” 

His vision’s name slipped off the tongue, seductive as a song, and it matched her heart for beauty.  Bronte.

Caught by the aura of mystery surrounding her, Darkwyn’s heart raced, his hands began to sweat, and his inner dragon stirred.

 

Puck the Snarky Macaw

The way Lila & Scorch glow

Lila

Scorch

The way Lila & Scorch look w/wings

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