EIGHT SIMPLE RULES FOR DATING A DRAGON
Gwennore did grow still. The way the dragon was star- ing at her was so fierce, she wondered if he could stop his prey from escaping by simply locking his sights on him. Power. Strength. Those qualities were to be expected with a ferocious creature like this, but she sensed more than that. A high level of intelligence. And a feeling that he saw more than she wanted him to.
Once again, she was being examined as if she were a strange species of insect. Earlier, she had decided to un- leash her rage on the next male who did that, but her tirade would have to wait. It would be foolish to verbally assault a fire-breathing dragon. Especially one that could kill her by simply dropping her.
Are you all right?
The dragon’s voice slipped into her mind like a lullaby.
How could he look so strong, yet sound so gentle?
Were you harmed in any way?
She shook her head.
How is it you are able to hear me? Do other elves have this ability?
“I-I don’t know.” Was that why he had saved her life?
Because he was curious about a strange ability she pos- sessed? Did that mean he would have let her die if she couldn’t hear him? Did he believe that was the only thing that made her worthy of being saved?
Dammit. She allowed herself to curse. Why not, when she was in the middle of a nightmare, completely at the mercy of a frightful dragon? She glanced back at him and discovered he was still staring at her. Blast him.
“You should watch where you are going,” she fussed at him. “You could run into a tree. Or a mountain.”
As the dragon looked away, she had a bizarre feel- ing that he was amused. Stop imagining things. If she was going to survive and protect Eviana, she needed to face reality.
It seemed fairly certain that they were on their way to Norveshka. The first dragon was still holding Eviana in his clutches. Her dragon—she didn’t know what else to call him, but he was definitely not hers—seemed to be focused now on catching up with the first.
While her dragon increased his speed, strong winds buffeted against her, causing her ears to ache. Her hair unraveled from its braid, and tendrils whisked across her face. Cold air shot through her thin silk gown, chilling her to the bone. So cold. How high were they?
She ventured a look down. Good goddesses! She squeezed her arms around her dragon’s foreleg. They were so high, the trees appeared no bigger than ants. Don’t look down!
She quickly shifted her gaze to the first dragon and wondered how Eviana was doing. Was she freezing to death? Would she be traumatized for the rest of her life? And how was Brody? She leaned to one side then the other, trying to catch a glimpse of him in eagle form, but
the dragon’s chest was too wide for a clear view.
Stop squirming. The shifter is still behind us.
Her breath caught. The dragon knew about Brody? “He’s a friend. Please do not hurt him.”
The dragon made no reply, but snorted a puff of hot air from his nostrils.
She’d annoyed him. Not a smart thing to do when he could drop her. She cleared her throat. “I suppose I should thank you.”
I suppose you should.
His wry tone pricked at her. Did he think her manners were lacking? That was rich when dragons went around kidnapping small children.
Another puff of hot air. And I should apologize for my brother’s actions. I will make sure the child is safely returned.
“Thank you!” Praise the goddesses! She could only hope and pray that this dragon would be trustworthy. So far, he seemed somewhat civilized. She’d always thought of dragons as frightening, destructive creatures that burned down villages and terrorized the innocent. And the rumors about them were even more horrendous. Some people claimed the dragons stole children so they could feast on them.
The dragon’s talons suddenly flinched.
She winced as the sharp points dug into her skin. “Too tight!”
Sorry. His talons retracted a bit. Crosswind.
The wind seemed the same to her. A terrible thought jumped into her mind. Had he heard what she was think- ing? She was hearing him, so what if it worked both ways? Oh, dear goddesses, no!
Her heart raced. Nay, it couldn’t be true. That would be too horrendous! But wait. If the dragon only knew Norveshki, all she had to do was keep thinking in Eberoni. That would keep her thoughts private, wouldn’t it?
But how could she tell for sure? Maybe she should mentally call him a rude name, like filthy bastard, to see if he reacted. No, bad idea. If she made him angry, he might drop her. Oh, no! What if he understood all that?
She tightened her grip on his foreleg. Stop thinking about him!
Once again she sensed amusement. Dammit. There was no way she could stop herself from thinking. And she had to stay mentally alert if she was going to protect Eviana.
Your name is Gwennie?
He must have heard Eviana screaming her name. “My name is Gwennore and the little girl is Eviana.”
A shiver ran along her skin. A dragon shouldn’t have such an appealing voice. She winced. Had he heard that? She glanced toward his head. She’d been wrong, thinking all his scales were black. When the sun shone on him, his scales glistened an iridescent purple and green. It reminded her of a black pearl she’d once found in an oyster shell. She’d thought it was so beautiful she’d kept it in her small treasure box, along with a few gifts her sisters had given her. Dear goddesses, would she ever see them again?
You will, she promised herself. For she had to make sure Eviana was returned to her parents. Would this dragon keep his word and help her? If he didn’t, how on Aerthlan would she manage to get Eviana home?
Anxiety threatened to consume her, so she tried to calm herself by mentally picturing her small treasure box and the gifts inside: an embroidered handkerchief from Luciana, a short story from Brigitta, a pretty shell from Maeve, and a small drawing of her from Sorcha.
The dragon’s talons suddenly tightened, jerking her back to the grim reality around her. She eyed the crea- ture warily. Did she dare trust him?
Brigitta had told her sisters about her encounter with dragons, and she’d called them magnificent. She claimed that they had helped her husband take back his throne.
But what about all the children who had been kid- napped? Were some dragons bad and others good? Was this a good one? Gwennore had to hope so. Her and Eviana’s lives might depend on it. “Do you have a name?”
She waited, but there was nothing more, only that same feeling of amusement she kept getting. Was he playing with her? Blast him. “If you won’t tell me, I’ll be forced to name you myself.”
Oh, I’m afraid.
“You should be. I could name you . . . Puff.”
He snorted, and more hot air escaped his nostrils. “Was that a huff?” She smiled to herself. “Or a puff?” I could drop you.
She squeezed his leg, pressing her face against the leathery skin. It was surprisingly soft.
But I won’t.
Oh, he was definitely playing with her. She was tempted to hit him. “Tell me, Puff. Why did you bother to save me if you won’t even introduce yourself to me?”
I took pity on the trees. Your fall would have torn off some branches.
She slapped his leg. “That’s not funny.”
Did you just hit me? After I saved you?
She winced. “It was a friendly pat. Did I mention how grateful I am that you rescued me? It would be a shame to harm any of the trees, don’t you think?”
A low grumbling sound reverberated through her mind. Was that a dragon chuckle? It had a very pleasant
Available March 27, 2018!
by Kerrelyn Sparks
Released: March 27th 2018
Series: The Embraced #3
Published by St. Martin's Paperbacks
From the brilliant imagination of Kerrelyn Sparks comes a bold new fantasy romance series in which passion and magic collide. Behold the Embraced…
Gwennore has a talent. An Elf able to track down the cause of an illness and heal it, she’s a valuable asset to her people. But when the kidnapping of a young girl thrusts Gwennore into the very heart of the realm of the dragons, she discovers not only a place of power and magic, but also a haunted land, plagued by an ancient curse that all but ensures extinction to the royal family. But when she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, they strike a bargain—save the country from its cursed illness, and he will return the kidnapped girl. She’s been raised never to trust a dragon, but never did making a deal with the devil feel so good…
Silas has no way of curing the family he’s loyally served for years. But when a beautiful elf, long considered the enemy of the dragons, comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to passion and desire in a way he’s never felt before. But can he trust a sworn enemy to save the very existence he holds dear? And can their love survive those that threaten to tear them apart?
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