“Stay here, pet.” Dane’s eyes were filled with lust. “Stay with us. Be ours. Meanwhile, Aneurin was looking at me like I was the most beautiful girl in the world. Be theirs? Stay with them? Their touch fogged my mind. And before I knew it, his lips were on mine.
Summer, a fiercely independent princess, suddenly finds herself in the clutches of domineering and tantalizing Twin Dragon Lords. Can she save herself and her kingdom, or will she fall for their darkly seductive charm?
Age Rating: 18+
11 YEARS AGO
It was still dark when Dad came to my bedchamber. The sun was still asleep, along with all of the birds.
He was going on an adventure, he said, and he thought I’d like to come.
Of course I did.
I jumped from my bed. I put on my sheepskin coat. It was summer, but the mornings were still cool.
I grabbed the adventure pack Dad gave me for my last birthday, when I turned seven. He filled it with useful things I would need for hunting salamanders, building forts, and trailing Dragons.
Magnifying glass, slingshot, cutters for plants and thin branches, book to press them in…
When I had my pack with me, I felt like a real adventurer. I took it whenever I left the castle to look for Dragons.
Dragons were my favorite.
“Summer,” my dad said softly to me as we walked down the main staircase, so as not to wake anyone in the castle. He was holding my hand.
“Our mission is exciting indeed. A rogue Dragon has eaten Farmer Tivoli’s prized cows and fallen asleep in his field.”
My eyes went wide. A Dragon!
Dad lifted me into the carriage that was waiting in front of the castle.
“We have to wake her up,” Dad said, “and convince her not to bother any other farmers.”
A girl Dragon. This was the best day ever.
Our journey took a long time. The sun started to come up, and out the carriage window, Patter Kingdom’s green hills and valleys were covered in dew.
I could feel the Dragon close to me. I knew Dad could, too, because he squeezed my hand.
And then the carriage stopped.
A man was waiting for us. He introduced himself to Dad as Farmer Tivoli. They talked for a while, but I wasn’t listening.
I was leaning over the middle rung of the fence. Staring at the Dragon.
In the middle of the foggy field was a purple Dragon. Her scales were iridescent, reflecting the sun as her body rose and fell with her breath. She was as big as the carriage, including the two horses driving it.
She was beautiful.
I could hear her snoring. She flicked her tail, as if she was having a nice dream.
“Dad!” I called. “Let’s go!”
He chuckled but came and lifted me under my arms over the fence.
He held my hand as we walked through the tall grass. Our legs got wet with dew.
“So, my love,” he said, “we always approach sleeping Dragons from the front. And we come to them with respect in our hearts. Just like horses can smell fear, Dragons can smell respect.”
We were getting close to her. My heart was pounding.
“Daddy, what does ‘rogue’ mean?”
“It means she doesn’t have a horde. She wanders the world alone.”
I exhaled. We were standing still, looking at the Dragon.
She was sleeping peacefully. I worried she wouldn’t like to be woken up.
“Indigo,” Dad called.
My eyes widened. He knew her name?
The Dragon’s eyes opened lazily. They were electric green. She looked at me, and I felt a shock through my whole body.
She kept her massive head resting on her paws.
“You are no longer hungry,” Dad said. He dropped my hand, walking toward her slowly.
The Dragon raised her head and huffed smoke from her nose.
Dad was close now, and he got down on one knee.
“I am the King of Patter. I humble myself before you.”
The Dragon raised her head, looking at him down her nose.
“And I ask of you a favor. Please leave Farmer Tivoli’s field and find other food than the cows of Patter.”
The Dragon harrumphed. For a moment, she didn’t move, and I worried she might decide to eat my dad instead of the cows.
But she rose to her feet. As she moved, her scales whispered like silk. Then she spread her massive wings.
And quickly, silently, she launched up into the sky.
Her wings made wind that blew my hair back from my face.
I watched her until she was a speck in the sky. Where was she going? I wondered.
When I finally looked back to Dad, he was still on one knee in the field. But he had turned his head and he’d been watching me. He was smiling, and when he caught my eye, he winked.
I held Maddie’s hand as I led her to the Dragon pen.
“Is it true that Dragons can breathe fire, Summer?” my little cousin asked.
“Yes. They breathe fire, and it’s so hot it can melt stone.”
“Wow,” she sighed.
I looked down at her little head, her red curls bouncing as she skipped.
“Here we are.” I stopped. “This is where my brother keeps the Dragons.”
I got down on my knee beside her so I could look her in the eye.
“We’re about to see Dragons, Maddie. These creatures are powerful and dangerous. You don’t need to be scared of Dragons, but you do need to respect them. And respecting them means no touching. Ever. Okay?”
I knew I would have to spell this out for her very clearly. The six-year-old nodded. She didn’t seem afraid.
I looked up at the pen. It was a hostile structure that used to be a wheelhouse. Ross, my brother, and the King of Patter, had it transformed into a dungeon where he could keep the Dragons his army captured.
To drug, starve, and train them until they would join Ross’s army.
I opened the big door slowly. I wasn’t supposed to be here, and definitely not with Madeline.
But my little cousin wouldn’t stop asking, and I secretly hoped that if little Maddie and I pestered Ross, he would finally stop locking Dragons up.
I peered into the dim cavernous room. It was lit with only a few torches.
Three Dragons were kept in the stalls. They were lying down with heavy shackles around each leg.
Even in the coming night, I could make out the black Dragon blood that pooled in the last Dragon’s stall. This Dragon was new. And huge. It was clearly a male.
Its golden scales were beautiful. The color seemed of another world. I couldn’t look away from the creature.
Suddenly, its eyes opened. His golden eyes fixed on mine, and for a moment, the rest of the world fell away.
I forgot to breathe, and my heart raced. What was happening?
I felt Maddie tug on my dress.
“Summer, let me SEE!” She tried to push me aside.
I took this opportunity to break the gaze of the Dragon, opening the door wider.
But like an impulse, like the Dragon was a magnet, I looked right back. And our eyes met again.
It hurt me to see the Dragon hurting like this.
“Wow,” Maddie sighed. “Why are the Dragons tied up?” she whispered.
“Because my brother wants to keep them all for himself. He doesn’t want to let them be free. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?”
I squeezed her little hand. “I have a feeling we can change it. But now it’s time for bed.”
“Noooo…” Maddie whined. But I scooped her into my arms and let the door close behind me. I was thankful to be out of the Dragon’s gaze.
It had been extremely intense, and I couldn’t place why.
I dropped Maddie back on the main path.
“Run right back to the castle, okay, monkey? Nell will put you to bed. I’ll be home soon.” I kissed her forehead, and she started to run.
I needed to clear my head. It was a good time to go to the forest.
As soon as I was under the cover of trees, my breathing grew low and steady. I found my rhythm as I moved through, touching bark and holding leaves between my fingers.
As a healer, I was more in touch with the natural world. Being alone in nature not only made my healing abilities stronger but it seemed to heal me. It made my thoughts clearer, more calm.
I moved easily through the forest, even though I couldn’t see well in the dark.
I thought of the golden Dragon and Jordan Culling, the handsome king who was staying in Patter to court me.
Strange that I should think of them at the same time, I thought, but quickly let it go.
Culling was charming and intelligent, and he wanted me for his queen. He made that very clear. The offer was tempting, but it was too soon to know. I had only just turned eighteen.
I paused and breathed in through my nose. I tried to make out the acrid scent of Dragonsbane.
Ross had set up countless traps in the forests around Patter, luring Dragons in with bait. When the trap was sprung, they would be shot senseless with Dragonsbane, a poison used to weaken, or even kill, them.
Ross had captured many Dragons already, but I wouldn’t just sit back and let these innocent creatures be taken for no reason other than the hubris of my stupid king brother.
Tonight I would disarm his traps.
Well, as many as I could.
There she was.
Aneurin was right. She was beautiful.
And she was the one. I could smell it.
I snuck through the forest in my Dragon form. My scales were black, nearly invisible in the night. I moved silently.
Aneurin’s voice played in my head. While he’d been locked up in the king’s dungeon, he’d been in my head even more than normal. Especially after he laid eyes on the girl.
He was right.
She was just who we were looking for.
The princess had long, curling brown hair. Her eyes sparkled even in the darkness, and her dress framed her elegant figure perfectly. She rubbed a leaf between her fingers before crouching and placing her hands on the earth.
It looked like she was disabling one of the fool king’s traps.
I watched her get to work, slowly and meticulously dismantling the contraption.
Her presence was like a balm to me. She soothed the constant raging in my mind, my natural revulsion to humans fading away.
It made me excited, too, but I would ignore that for now.
I wanted to show myself to her, but I didn’t want to scare her out of her pretty skin.
A twig cracked under my toe. She turned in my direction. There was curiosity in her eyes, and then fear.
She knew what I was. So I closed the distance between us, moving stealthily toward her on my four legs.
Up close, her scent drove me insane.
Her eyes were wide and terrified. She wasn’t breathing.
I decided to calm her fears. My body cooled as I dissolved into a fine black mist and entered my human form.
Now, her eyes were wide, but it wasn’t quite with fear. I was naked, after all.
“Summer,” I said. “I’ve heard so much about you.” I stepped out from the shadow of the trees, allowing the moonlight to fall onto me. I heard her gasp, the sound sending a rush of desire through me.
Oh, how sweet it would be to make her gasp…
“My name is Dane.”
Summer paused for a moment, and then she took off running through the woods.
I chuckled to myself.
“I don’t bite, little girl,” I called after her. I knew she could hear me.
Well, not yet...