Caress of Fire
Dawn of Dragons, book 2
Passion runs hot, so hot it burns.
With her brother in debt to the biggest crime lord of the slums, Marielle does the only thing she can to save him. She takes the debt on herself. But the only way she can repay it is to be claimed as mate by a Draekon Lord and deliver him an heir.
She has no intention of following through with the deal she made with High Lord Aymond Hall and plans to escape as soon as she’s received payment. But when he is found dead, Marielle is accused of his murder.
Salvation comes in the unlikely form of Fedryc, son of Lord Aymond and the new High Lord. In the harsh desert landscape, Marielle becomes Lord Fedryc’s mate and finds pleasures she never suspected could exist.
As Marielle navigates the dangerous world she finds herself in and tries to rescue her brother, an enemy lurks in the shadows; a dark force bent on the destruction of all that she holds dear. But can a human woman trust an all-powerful Draekon Lord? And will Lord Fedryc’s love be enough to protect her?
Publisher’s Note: This gripping sci-fi alien romance has it all: dragons, passion and tension. It also contains explicit themes and is intended for adults only.
Marielle screamed again, this time throwing the tray - and her dinner - through the bars at the guard who stood right in front of her cell. The Delradon guard stepped aside quickly, barely missing the metal projectile, but ended up covered in the gooey gray sludge they served her for two days straight. A strong wind blew from the desert on the open face of the dungeon, hot and dry, making her mouth taste like sand and her lips crack. This was a Draekon’s idea of a jail, a hole in the face of the cliff, where prisoners would be exposed to the elements, their will shriveled up as dehydration from the day’s heat and teeth-shattering cold from the night used up their minds like old rags.
She was done playing nice.
“You can take back your food!” Marielle yelled, loud enough to be heard from higher above. To be heard by someone who mattered and who could pull her away from this place. “I want to talk to someone in charge.”
The guard lifted his dark maroon eyes to her, and his mouth twisted in anger. He brushed food off the front of his bright red uniform, then reached for the long wooden stick hanging from his belt.
“I’ll tell you who you can talk to.”
He took a fast series of step toward the bars to her cell, the long, slim wooden stick he used to carry in his belt held high. His intention was as obvious as the way his other hand clenched into fists.
He was going to hit her.
Marielle backed all the way to the opposite wall of her cell, but it gave her only about six feet. It was enough to prevent him from hitting her through the bars, but she was done if he decided to break the rules and go inside. By the way his eyes glowed with anger, he could very well decide to do so. After all, she was only human, and they accused her of the murder of a Draekon High Lord. She was as good as dead anyway. But she wasn’t going to make it easier on them.
“Here! Help me!” Marielle shouted again, remembering the instructions the Delradon servant lady had given the guards about keeping her intact for her punishment. “He’s going to kill me!”
“Shut your filthy mouth,” the guard shouted, then tried to hit her through the bars without success, which only infuriated him more. “You’ll get what you deserve soon enough for what you did to Lord Aymond.”
“I don’t deserve anything, because I didn’t do anything!”
Hot tears of frustration burned her eyelids, and she bent down, then grabbed a fist-sized rock from the dungeon’s floor. She knew she shouldn’t engage him further, should play meek and dumb, like most Delradon seemed to think humans, and especially human women, were. She just couldn’t. She gave up everything to save her family, but now that her sacrifice amounted to nothing, she wasn’t about to let them strip her of her life without a fight.
Without hesitation, Marielle threw the rock squarely at the guard’s face. The man yelped in pain as the rock landed on his nose, and he retreated, holding his injured face with both hands.
Marielle watched, her heart beating so hard it hurt, as the guard lifted murderous eyes to her while blood dripped steadily on the ground. The stick fell with a musical, merry sound and the guard straightened. His hands left his face and went to the key chain on his hip. All she could focus on was the mess of his nose, the bruised, battered flesh that oozed blood down his twisted lips and chin.
“I’m sorry,” Marielle said quickly, realizing she made a mistake, that she pushed things too far this time. She darted a few looks around, but there was nothing in the bare cell but stone walls, stone floors and the metal bars that ran from floor to ceiling. The handful of tiny rocks scattered on the floor wasn’t going to help her against the pissed off Delradon guard.
She was going to die.
I’m so sorry, Devan. I did my best.
Marielle closed her eyes as the guard turned his key in the hole and a well practiced metallic sound told her the only barrier between her and violence was gone.
Boots on the stone floor got closer.
This is it.
Then they stopped.
Marielle opened her eyes to see the guard, a bare few feet away from her, close enough to touch her if he wanted to. The door to her cells dangled open on its rusty hinges. But he wasn’t paying her any attention anymore. His body was turned away from her and his eyes were glued to the spiraling stairway carved in stone that led to the upper levels of the castle, away from the gloom and terror of the dungeon. He was afraid of something. More afraid of it than he was pissed at her.
“What’s wrong?” She couldn’t help asking. Whatever made the guard so scared had to terrify her also.
Then a man climbed down the steps to the dungeon, his shoulders large and square, his steps fluid, his entire body glowing with a feline grace. As he got nearer to the bottom of the stairs, his silver eyes reflected the light like a cat’s.
Marielle shivered, deep in her soul where the fear of the beast and their masters resided. Where humans still cowered in awe of the powerful aliens descended from the sky with fire and death in their wake.
The stranger approached, and the guard finally woke up from whatever spell the Draekon put him under. The guard rushed out of the cell and fell to his knees as the Draekon approached. Those cold eyes, shining like a naked blade were set on her like on a prey as the Draekon toward Marielle, not even glancing at the fallen Delradon guard.
Marielle stood straight, not knowing what was the appropriate way to greet him. Should she bend her head? Put her knees to the ground in submission? Cry and beg for mercy? The very idea made her stomach churn with bile.
“Are you the one they call Marielle Jansen?” The Draekon’s voice was deep and soft like black velvet, the same color as the hair that fell to his brows, and it was layered with enough anger that her knees trembled.
Maybe she would throw herself on the ground after all. Marielle stared at him, the first Draekon man she ever laid eyes on directly, and her mind was a blank.
His silver eyes squinted and a full, hard set of lips curved down. His high cheekbones were sharp enough to break skin, and his honey colored skin was smooth and shining under the faint light. He had an exotic beauty, masculine and dangerous, from the athletic musculature of his arms and legs to the way he moved. He was a predator in every sense of the way.
Those silver eyes made her tingle, deep in her belly, and the sensation shook some sense into her.