For centuries, the Dragon Kings have lived among mortals, forsaking their true selves. But for Kelton, hiding in the realm of shadows—and existing only in the world of dreams—is no longer an option. A human woman claims to know that he, like other dark warriors of his kind, is real. That the legends about these powerful, seductive men with hearts ablaze are true. And that, with just one embrace, Kelton could destroy her…or love her until the end of time.
Bernadette Davies is an anthropologist who knows better than to fall into the arms of a Dragon King. But how can she resist Kelton when he’s so willing to share his secrets and bare his soul? He hasn’t met a beautiful, trustworthy woman like Bernadette in…forever. But once they give into their mutual desire, their worlds will never be the same. Soon Bernadette must face her dilemma: Should she expose the truth about Kelton in the name of science? Or join him in his battle with the dark forces—in the name of love?
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“Dragons are real.”
The words went through the small room of the restaurant reserved for special meetings like a pistol shot. Today’s meeting was of the local cryptozoologists.
Keltan wanted to be anywhere but there. Yet Ulrik had sent him halfway across Scotland to hear whatever Dr. Bernadette Davies had to say in her highly publicized talk about dragons.
Keltan was shocked at the sight of her. He’d expected some older woman in her sixties with gray hair, glasses, and at least two chins. Instead, he was met with a vision that actually had his mouth hanging open. Straight black hair parted on one side fell just past her chin and brought attention to her incredible cheekbones. Her large, jade eyes met everyone’s gaze with determination and calmness that proclaimed that she wholly believed everything she was going to talk about.
Her hunter-green button-down shirt was billowy yet molded tantalizingly to her breasts. And the black pants her shirt was tucked into made Keltan’s mouth water when he caught a glimpse of her perfect derriere.
Keltan had to bite back a groan when he saw the black stilettos on her feet. He’d always been a sucker for women who wore heels.
But it was the first three words out of her mouth that made him sit up straight and pay attention. A jolt of dread and worry went through him so quickly that his stomach roiled viciously.
“As cryptozoologists, we work tirelessly to prove that such creatures exist,” Bernadette continued. “Many of you know for certain that particular creatures you believe in are real. For me, it’s dragons.”
“Do you have proof?” someone asked.
Keltan didn’t look in the direction of the voice. He kept his gaze locked on Dr. Davies. Now, he wished he hadn’t chosen a seat toward the back. If he’d sat closer, he wouldn’t have had to look around the various heads to keep her in view as she walked back and forth.
There was no doubt about the confidence she exhibited. And while there was a chance that she was one of the few off her rocker, Keltan didn’t think that was the case. As a Dragon King, he and his brethren at Dreagan had gone to great lengths to hide their true selves from humans.
But a few years ago, the Dark Fae had taken a video of the Dragon Kings in a skirmish with them. The Dark released the footage to the world, and speculation about dragons soared overnight—and it had yet to diminish.
Now, humans looked at the sky constantly, making it harder and harder for the Kings to shift, even on the sixty thousand acres of Dreagan where they lived. On an almost weekly basis, the magical barrier surrounding the lands stopped numerous drones sent by mortals trying to see if Dreagan was the home of dragons.
It made all of the Kings wonder if it had been wise to choose the double dragon as their logo, or the Celtic word for dragon as the name of their whisky.
Ryder, the King who could create and work with anything electronic, used his hacking skills to wipe the video from everything and everywhere. Yet the curiosity of the humans had been woken. They wanted answers.
Which was why Keltan was at this meeting.
He’d thought it a joke and a waste of time. Obviously, Ulrik had been right to send him.
“Fuck,” he mumbled beneath his breath.
Dr. Davies smiled. And for the first time, Keltan realized that she wore a nude color on her full lips. There was something in her smile and the way she held her head that sent a chill of foreboding down his spine.
Instead of responding, she merely smiled in response.
A murmur of shock went through the group of twenty-five people as they all assumed her smile meant she did, indeed, have proof.
Keltan opened the mental link all the Dragon Kings shared and said Ulrik’s name, followed by Ryder’s. Both answered him immediately.
“We have a problem,” Keltan said.
Ulrik sighed. “Damn. Does the woman know something?”
“Aye, but I doona know what yet.” Keltan studied her as she returned to the center of the room without sharing the proof she claimed to have. “Ryder, I need everything there is on Bernadette Davies.”
“Kinsey and I’ll do a deep dive on her immediately. You’ll have something shortly,” Ryder promised.
Ulrik then asked, “Has she shown you anything about us?”
“No’ yet,” Keltan answered. “She did allude to some proof she had, but she’s no’ said what it is.”
“Yet,” Ryder added.
Keltan grunted because he’d thought the same thing. “She’s verra confident. It’s no’ just speculation she’s peddling. Her first words were that dragons are real.”
“Keep me informed,” Ulrik stated.
Keltan severed the link. Ulrik was running the shots at Dreagan at the moment. Not that any of the other Kings wanted the responsibility. After Constantine, King of the Dragon Kings had been taken by Usaeil, Queen of the Light just as the Kings were about to go to war with her, things got … tense at Dreagan.
And now this.
Keltan ran a hand down his face. They didn’t need this. They should be concentrating on locating Con, not chasing after some mortal who might or might not have information on the Dragon Kings.
And, frankly, Keltan didn’t care if Dr. Davies did. The Kings had walked and lived among the humans for millions of years, forsaking their true selves and the fact that they had once ruled this realm. Maybe it was time for the Kings to stop hiding.
As soon as that thought went through his head, Keltan knew it would never happen. The proof was in the brief time that dragons and mortals had attempted to live together. It had ended with the Kings sending their dragons to another realm and hiding away for millennia.
All because of a vow to protect the mortals without magic.
When, in fact, the dragons could have wiped them from the Earth in minutes.
But they weren’t murderers. They had tried to make it work with the humans, conceding land again and again and again as the mortals bred like bunnies.
For a long time, Keltan had hated them. Con’s spell to stop the Kings from feeling hate—or love—for the mortals had helped to quell much of his anger. Now, Keltan just wanted his life back. He didn’t care if the humans were there or not.
He wanted to fly during the day, feel the sun on his scales, and survey the world from the clouds for however long he wished.
He wanted to let out a roar without having to wait for a thunderstorm to mask the sound.
He wanted to be able to choose when and where he shifted instead of only doing it at Dreagan at night.
With an inward shake of his head, he ground his thoughts to a halt and returned his focus to Bernadette Davies. She was pointing at a projection screen that displayed a picture of Fair Isle.
“Some of you may not know, that not long ago some bones were found in one of the many caves of Fair Isle. An American archeologist, Faith Reynolds, claimed that they were dragon bones. Oddly enough, Faith hasn’t been seen since that declaration.”
A man to Keltan’s left said, “Are you saying that someone silenced her?”
Bernadette shrugged. “I’m saying that I couldn’t locate Ms. Reynolds in order to speak to her. When I dug deeper, the prominent and up-and-coming archeologist appears to have disappeared.”
That wasn’t true, but Keltan couldn’t point that out. If he did, everyone—including Dr. Davies—would want to know how he knew such a thing. And right now, he didn’t want any attention on himself. He was there to observe and take notes.
“What about the video?” a woman in her mid-twenties asked from the front row. “Is that your proof?”
A ghost of a smile flitted across Bernadette’s face. “For those who didn’t get a chance to see it, the young woman is referring to the video that surfaced a couple of years ago that showed men shifting into dragons and fighting other beings with red eyes.”
“There was magic,” the young woman said.
Dr. Davies nodded as she glanced in the girl’s direction. “That there was. Within days of the video going viral, it was wiped from the internet.”
“That isn’t possible,” a man in his fifties with a heavy French accent stated.
The young woman turned around and met the Frenchman’s gaze. “It’s true. It’s gone. You can’t find it anywhere.”
Another man with an English accent snorted loudly. “I agree with him. Once something is released on the internet, it’s in the cloud. And once it’s there, you can’t get anything back.”
Keltan hid his grin because there was one person who could get it back or remove it entirely—Ryder.
Before the argument could continue, Bernadette quickly interjected, “We could debate this all night long. And while it’s fascinating, that’s not what I came to talk about. Though it is part of the story.”
Bernadette clicked something in her hand, and the picture of Fair Isle vanished, replaced with a list that made Keltan clench his teeth together.
“Here are all the things that involve dragons.”
Keltan read the list.
- The video of dragons appearing, then disappearing
- The dragon bones on Fair Isle
- Archeologist Faith Reynolds disappearing
No big deal. Dr. Davies had already mentioned all three.
Then Keltan read more of the list.
Bernadette touched on each one, adding dialogue next to the names. “Number 4: Known members of a mob go missing near Dreagan. Number 5: Kyle Ross goes missing only to be heard telling someone that he was going to find his sister who worked for Dreagan, then Kyle goes missing. Number 6: Renowned journalist Rachel Marek goes to Paris to cover the World Whisky Consortium and is seen with a representative from Dreagan—and has only released one new piece since then. And that piece was about Kyvor.”
“Kyvor is no longer in business,” someone said.
Dr. Davies nodded slowly. “No, they aren’t. After a little digging on my part, apparently, the higher-ups in the company were interested in buying out Dreagan Industries.”
Keltan wanted to stand up and tell everyone the truth about each of the points. He had to clench his hands into fists just to remain seated.
Based on everything Bernadette was laying out, anyone in the room who hadn’t believed was slowly coming to her way of thinking. And by the smile on her face, that’s exactly what she intended.
The question was why? What did she gain by all of this? What was her motive?
She continued down the list with a mention of how Dr. Sophie Martin had left her position at an Edinburgh hospital to open a practice near Dreagan. It was no surprise to Keltan when Bernadette cited the socialite Alexandra Sheridan and the Scotsman she had been photographed with in New York, only now to be seen near Dreagan.
Thank goodness Bernadette didn’t know about all the others. As it was, there was a serious case for anyone to take an interest in Dreagan on a level that would keep Ryder and his mate, Kinsey, extra busy.
For the next two hours, Keltan was one of the few who didn’t say anything as the room debated Dr. Davies’ list, adding their own thoughts and conjecture.
Bernadette answered question after question but never revealed any of her sources. And while it appeared those sources weren’t always accurate, they came close enough to make Keltan aware that someone knew the secrets of the Dragon Kings.
The problem would be discovering who it was—and silencing them.