Rowan’s fallen in love with a dragon, and it’s left her spinning. Her new lover belongs to a race she never even knew existed until Rafe came into her life. The worst part? She’s just discovered that she’s a dragon, too, her true identity magically hidden from her for her entire life by her unknown parents. Her entire life crashes down around her in the face of the knowledge that the lover who showed her who she was doesn’t really love her.
On the run from the overwhelming discovery of her origins and the heartbreak of Rafe’s rejection, Rowan stretches her new wings to the point of self-destruction. She has to make a decision: rejoin humanity and reject her nature, or embrace her race and help them overcome a millennia-old set of laws. But none of that matters to her without Rafe’s love.
Meanwhile, Rafe is destroying himself over the regret of not telling Rowan how he truly feels, but dragon law would not have allowed him to mate another dragon. He hunts the farthest reaches of the Earth to find her, hoping that she will agree to help their race, but longing even more to finally confess to her what’s truly in his heart.
Knowledge can be an unwieldy burden without the benefit of understanding. Rowan had only scratched the surface of what her life had become in those first two glorious nights spent with Rafe.
Then the man she fell in love with yanked the rug out from under her.
Learning she belonged to a race of ancient creatures previously thought to be mythical was hard enough to process. But add to that the onus of being considered a political pawn, and then to be faced with the knowledge that everything she’d experienced in Rafe’s arms over the last few days was a lie—it was all too much. Overhearing their conversation about her destroyed her desire to stay.
“You don’t understand, Kol. I have to have her. Not a human.”
“You’re in love with her.”
“What? No… she’s just… she’s pure. Tell me why we shouldn’t be able to breed?”
She knew precious little about the race as it was, but those few words she overheard reverberated through her mind over and over. He wasn’t in love with her. He just wanted to breed. Breed. As though she were livestock? Every ounce of her soul rejected that idea.
So she ran.
Or, rather, she flew.
That first leap was uncertain. She might fall to her death out of the third story window of Rafe’s mansion. She took that jump knowing as much.
But once in the air something changed. In a split second of wind rushing past her skin, it happened. The confines of her own familiar body became too tight, just the way she felt when Rafe made love to her. Her body couldn’t contain the need, and reacted almost without effort. She burst out of her false skin, became buoyant, the Pacific breeze suddenly a tangible force raising her up. She drifted higher and sailed out over the ocean before she became aware of the new shape of her body for the second time, the muscles and bones that lived beneath her human façade reacting instinctively to the need to fly. The tightening push of the wind against the membranes of her wings felt as good as a massage.
She closed her eyes and soared, mindless, letting her other senses reach out to the world so she could feel the wind around her, the vast, cool darkness of the ocean beneath her. In the distance she could sense the whirling chaos of humanity, and slightly more acute were the impressions of the two men she’d run from.
Dragons, she thought. Not men. Dragons like her.
Yet the look of shock and despair in Rafe’s eyes as she turned and launched herself out the window haunted her. Had she made a mistake? Somehow woefully misunderstood his true feelings? He had never said that he loved her. All he’d shared was the fact that their union was against dragon law. That he hoped to breed with her if they succeeded in changing that law. She hadn’t stayed long enough to work out why, or what the hell her presence had to do with changing anything this “Council” thought.
All Rowan wanted was him. And if he didn’t want her, all she wanted was oblivion, especially from the vivid memories of the last few days, but she couldn’t stop herself from replaying those days over and over as she flew.
The previous morning had dawned with an otherworldly brightness, the sun streaming in through the high windows of Rafe’s bedroom. The warm bulk of him groaned behind Rowan, the vibration sending a pleasant thrill through her, as close as it was to the sounds he made during sex. Rather than touch her, he left the bed, grumbling something about it being too damn bright. He glanced back at the bed just as he reached for the drapes and stopped, his hand still poised in midair.
The flick of those dark eyes over her naked body left her tingling from head to toe, as though he’d added fuel to the already bright sunlight on her skin and she’d somehow managed to catch fire. At least something red-hot seemed to ignite in Rafe’s eyes. He lowered his hand from the drape and turned slowly, taking her in more thoroughly.
It wasn’t particularly warm in the room, but heat grew deep inside her, beginning in her core and spreading outward.
“Sweet Mother, you’re beautiful. The sun suits you.”
She eyed him with as much open admiration. He stood in a bright sunbeam, haloed by the light on his olive skin. The lines of his large, sculpted body were cast in stark relief from the angle of the sun and Rowan could make out every glorious plane and indentation, even down to the lovely upraised line of a violet vein that stood out along the shaft of his erect cock. She licked her lips, remembering the salty flavor of him when she’d taken him into her mouth the night before, testing out the use of her new tongue to the near detriment of Rafe’s sanity.
His skin shimmered slightly, the light of the sun highlighting the underlying texture of scales on his skin, but they faded as quickly as they became visible. The image reminded her that he wasn’t quite human, but neither was she. The knowledge of their shared origin made her smile wider.
He’s mine. All mine.
“Why are you smiling?” he asked, his voice husky. He began to slink back toward the bed, his movements even more measured and calculating than they’d been the night before. His eyes narrowed in suspicion, but his lips betrayed his amusement.
“Just thinking about the things your tongue can do. I think I need another lesson.” It was almost the truth.
She wanted him desperately, and she’d never considered herself a desperate person, even when she was young and starving because her foster parents chose to feed their own kids before her and she got the leftovers. She found other avenues to sustain herself even then. She’d been the little shaved-head waif convincing poor people to buy pretty found items they didn’t even need. She brushed a hand over her head in remembrance of the hate her foster parents had of her vibrant red hair. “Satan’s child,” they called her as they clipped the red threads and she watched them fall around her like maple leaves in autumn.
It was summer now, and her tresses bloomed as red as the hibiscus that flanked the front doors of Rafe’s mansion. There were no maples outside Rafe’s window. Only a wide expanse of the Pacific, with the green tufts of a few palms in her field of vision. His beautiful presence closed in, ready to give her that lesson she’d suggested she needed, but in spite of her suggestion, all she really wanted was to feel him inside her again.
He paused to stand at the side of the bed, gazing down at her. The caress of his dark eyes was followed by his hand when he reached out to brush the line of her jaw with one knuckle. His expression was filled with wonder that perplexed her. He looked as though he’d just discovered one of the rarest, most priceless artifacts and was afraid his touch might mar its surface.
Rowan lay still, letting him touch her. He swept the pad of his thumb across her lower lip then let his hand drift lower, tracing the line of her neck and shoulder, brushing fingertips along the harder edge of her collarbone, down her sternum. His touch followed the contour of her breast and she gasped when he passed one fingertip so softly across the underside of her nipple.
Rafe seemed to grow more alert at her reaction, his stance tightening, eyes narrowing in determination. Rowan’s own body thrummed with desire, the sensation of ethereal fire growing hotter on her skin until she realized she was doing it again. Her skin had erupted into red scales, her hands elongating into razor-tipped talons that punctured the mattress.
“Shit! I’m sorry,” she shook her hands in the air as though trying to shake off the change.
Rafe grabbed her wrists and smiled at her confusion. “Let it happen this time, love. I can show you what it’s like to make love in our true forms. Turn over. Let me guide you through the shift.”
She did as he asked and he gripped her by the hips, pulling her toward the edge of the bed. With a nudge of his hand she rose up on hands and knees. She didn’t need to look to know he was right behind her, bigger than life. The searing heat of his cock brushed against her inner thigh and she moaned, tilting her hips back in invitation, but he just kept up with the almost idle caresses.
She caught a glimpse of herself in a dressing mirror on the other side of the room. The red coils of her horns had reappeared, even heavier on her head now than they’d seemed the night before.
In daylight, Rafe looked magnificent. The sun caught his obsidian horns and the jewel-like sheen of his scales. His chest rippled behind her when he changed his stance and pulled her hips closer. Somehow he seemed even larger than before and appeared to be growing, changing shape in the reflection. Soon his hands were the only things that remained smooth, the gentle brush of his fingertips slipping between her thighs into the wet heat of her.
He rumbled his appreciation, then gripped both her hips, his fingertips growing dark and pointed. She could feel the pointed tips digging into her flesh, but they were only a sharp pressure that sent zings of pleasure to her core. Rafe pressed the shaft of his cock along the crease of her ass and tilted his hips, letting the thick length slide between her cheeks and along the slick opening of her pussy.
His chest rose and fell quickly with panting breaths.
“I’m going to change while I fuck you. Change with me, Rowan. Feel it with me.”
He didn’t give her a chance to answer, and the sudden smooth thrust of his cock into her tight, wet heat made her cry out, the delicious stretching fullness of him sending a sudden jolt of pleasure straight to the tips of her horns. He seemed even bigger than he had the night before, and Goddamn if he wasn’t growing.
“Oh fuck!” she cried out at the nearly painful stretch of his cock inside her. She plunged backward and rose up onto her knees, arching her back and shifting her hips to take him even deeper.
She was mesmerized by the sight in the mirror, his black skin shimmering in the sunlight.
His massive shape engulfed her smaller one. Thick arms the size of tree trunks held her against a solid chest that felt nothing like the soft human version she’d fallen asleep against. He was both molten heat and churning void at the same time. His cock pressed ever deeper, pushing at her boundaries so far she felt she might split in half, but she kept pushing back, meeting his thrusts with equal fervor.
He grew still larger until she had to rise up higher on her knees to accommodate the changing height. She found it increasingly difficult to move, and to even think with the relentless push of his massive shaft into her.
“Change,” came the rumbling, resonant voice, so deep and intense she nearly orgasmed from the vibration that sunk through her body. A dark, sleek tail whipped around, the smooth tip of it brushing down between her breasts, swirling around her nipples and dipping lower, past her navel, to the place between her legs where she could clearly see the shining wet gloss of her juices coating the length of his cock that she was only barely able to accommodate. An expanse of his length still remained outside her, however. If she wanted all of him, she would have to become like him. And sweet Jesus did she want all of him.
The teasing flick of the tip of his tail across her sensitive clit was too much. She cried out, her voice emerging in the most beautiful, sonorous roar as the room began to shrink. He pulled her backward, wrapped his arms and tail around her, and lifted her up while he continued pumping his beast of a cock deep into her. The sensation of his thrusts changed as she changed.
With a low rumbling growl he sank even deeper, the thick head of his erection pressed at a part of her anatomy that hadn’t existed a moment earlier, but that drove her insane with pleasure. She thrashed and clawed at the bed, bucking her hips back against him. The long, red whip of her shimmering tail swept around to her front, twining and tangling with his. Her long neck twisted around, her tongue lashing out to coil around his tongue. Still he thrust into her, with deeper, harder pumps of his scaled hips.
The eyes that looked back into hers were coal black with flecks of shining silver, the pupils nothing but bottomless vertical slits. She groaned and panted, her breath gusting out in a cloud of red that swirled around their heads before being inhaled with a sharp intake of Rafe’s breath.
He bellowed out a deafening roar into the high ceiling of his bedroom, his cock grew hotter and swelled inside her. The sudden, violent blast of his hot semen hit that secret inner bundle and sent her spinning and crashing to her own climax. She pushed back hard against him, urging him even deeper while the molten stream of his seed shot into her eager depths and the rush of his power filled her to overflowing yet again.
She barely had the presence of mind to glance at their reflection once more before collapsing, spent, to the bed. In that brief second what she saw was beyond beautiful. Their entwined bodies resembled something mythical and god-like. A two-headed being that nearly filled the room and gleamed like red and black statues in the morning sunlight.
The bed creaked and splintered beneath the weight of their bodies, but Rowan didn’t care, and Rafe didn’t seem to, either. They lay panting and tangled, the sensation of being utterly replete extending to every part of her being. She let her eyes drift closed, wishing again for the familiar comfort of his human body and the feel of his hands entwined with hers. The thought itself was enough, and she felt rather than saw the world, and her lover, grow to a familiar size again, the broken bed beneath them big enough to accommodate them both again.
Rowan dozed, more comfortable than she’d ever been in her life. After a little while she woke to the pleasant swell of Rafe’s erection still solidly ensconced inside her. Without moving, she clenched her muscles around him.
“Mmm,” he rumbled against the back of her neck. He pushed into her once, then withdrew and moved to hover over her. Wordlessly she rolled onto her back and let him between her thighs, sighing when he sank into her again. His eyes never once left hers during that second, slow, languid, and very human, session. The look of wonder had returned and he made love to her as though he worshiped her, kissing her reverently and nuzzling her breasts with lips and tongue until she cried out his name and clutched her legs tightly around his hips.
“You have no idea what an amazing creature you are,” Rafe said afterward, while he held her in his arms.
“Amazing enough that we’re fucking on the wreckage of your bed,” she said with a hint of humor in her voice. She glanced around at the shredded sheets and mattress that hung beneath the tilted wooden headboard. It was comfortable enough, with the mattress dipping in the center so that they had a nice, soft incline to lie back against. Downy feathers drifted across her skin from the demolished comforter.
She craned her head back to look at the headboard. The master-crafted carvings were gouged with claw marks. Hers or his she had no idea.
“It was only a few hundred years old. I think it’s time to commission some new work anyway. Perhaps in welded steel?”
The grin he gave her was more than she could bear. Their first night together had been enough of a revelation to leave her reeling. She had fallen for him and was so certain he felt the same way.
But that certainty had been an illusion.
The mournful looks she caught him giving her from time to time hadn’t worried her at first. It was only now that she was flying and had nothing better to do than replay their entire time together that they all came back to her with a vengeance. She’d just believed he had old baggage that she’d draw out of him in time. Heaven knew she had her own baggage she intended to share with him at the right time. There was no sense weighing down the early days of something so potentially wonderful with something as ugly as her own past. If only she’d known how volatile his secrets really were.
He hadn’t loved her, in the end. All he’d wanted was a vessel for his fucking sperm.