From a dark, magic-ravaged world comes an enthralling new fantasy romance series. Five brothers, last of an ancient Alpha bloodline, each bound by fire and blood to their majestic dragons.
She was saved by a dragon lord. And now he thinks he owns her.
Rescued as a baby by Tyomar, a powerful alpha bonded to a fierce dragon, Oshali was raised in a secluded sanctum. Historic tales of adventure and epic love captivate her, and she’s convinced there is a breathtaking world beyond the sanctum’s walls.
Twenty-five years later, she is now the liaison between the sanctum and Tyomar’s notorious clan… and his visits are equally rousing and nerve-racking. The rules of the sanctum forbid him from seeing her face, but she is in awe of his intense good-looks and charm, even though she knows he still sees her as a child.
When Oshali accepts an assignment to travel across dangerous war-torn lands without her veil, Tyomar is furious. His overbearing protection reveals a fierce, dark possession.
Insatiable fire ignites between them.
And the passionate tension erupts into something deliciously carnal.
Yet Oshali knows Tyomar is a threat to her heart and her freedom. He refuses to leave her side, and she refuses to tolerate his controlling interference.
When a shocking revelation about her heritage exposes a deception, Oshali must choose where her loyalties lie, knowing Tyomar won’t easily relinquish what he has decided is his.
A LAIR SO LOYAL is the second book in The Last Dragorai, a steamy fantasy romance series. This series can be read as standalones but will be better enjoyed if read in order. Includes romance a HEA.
About the Book
A Lair So Loyal by Zoe Ellis
Series The Last Dragorai | Genre Adult Epic Fantasy Romance
Publisher Independent | Publication Date June 14, 2021
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A LAIR SO LOYAL
A Last Dragorai Novel
© 2021 Zoe Ellis
Oshali panted, the slap of her feet echoing off the walls as she charged along the corridor to the farewell archway.
Midday was approaching fast, so she scrunched the skirt of her robes into her fists, holding them out of the way as she powered energy into her legs. It was completely undignified to run like this, but she couldn’t miss Silette’s departure.
As she turned into the final corridor, she slowed to a quick walk, dropping her robes and smoothing the wrinkles with her palms as they swung down to her ankles, but when she glanced up, she slowed again at sight of Silette and Joren embracing.
Oshali averted her eyes, not wanting to embarrass her two closest friends. She took the opportunity to catch her breath, willing her pounding heart to calm as she ran her hands through her flyaway hair. Both Silette and Joren had been acting strange over the last few years. Unnecessary touches on each other’s arms, lowered whispers whenever Oshali was leaving or approaching, furtive glances between them that she ignored and pretended not to see…. It made their trio of a friendship awkward, and she wished that things were how they used to be, but adulthood changed things. According to what she’d learned from her studies, it always did.
She glanced ahead, now walking so slowly she was in danger of tripping over her own feet. Her best friends still stared at each other, Joren’s large hands on Silette shoulders, and Silette’s fingers clutching his forearms. They weren’t saying anything, but their gazes always seemed to communicate so much.
Oshali wondered if she should simply wait, give them time to say their good-byes, but midday was almost here—they were nearly out of time. Just as she came to a stop, Silette turned to peer down the corridor, and the spell between her and Joren broke. “I knew you would be late.” She grinned wryly, dropping her hands as Joren dropped his. He turned to Oshali, but his eyes still lingered on Silette.
“It wasn’t my fault,” Oshali insisted as she surged forward again. “Training was longer today.”
“What did you expect?” Silette grinned. “You’re aiming for your Gowns. Did you think it was going to be like our one-hour study sessions?”
Oshali made a face. “I expected them to, at least, let me leave earlier so I could say good-bye to my friend.”
Silette held out her arms and Oshali ran into them, throwing her arms around her friend and squeezing tightly. “You know the Mheyu don’t value that kind of thing,” Silette murmured, holding Oshali just as tightly. “There’s no family here, remember?”
It was true. The Mheyu Guardians could never give that to her—they couldn’t give it to any of the orphans they raised. It wasn’t their purpose. Oshali didn’t blame them, but she had always needed more. She craved a family, and not just that. She wanted to belong. As much as the Mheyu’s sanctum provided a safe environment for the children who found themselves abandoned in the Realm, it wasn’t a real home. At least, not how homes were described in almost all the texts they had studied.
Finally Silette released her, and they stepped back, gripping each other’s shoulders as they smiled. If it hadn’t been for the stilted behavior between Silette and Joren, Oshali wasn’t sure she would’ve noticed just how beautiful her friend had become. The wildness of her flame-red hair matched the boldness in her emerald gaze, and everything about her radiated joy and excitement—from her laugh to the glow of her snowy skin, causing Oshali to experience a sudden, strange resentment toward her that took awhile to shake. The Mheyu would say that beauty was irrelevant, but it was beautiful people who seemed to achieve the most amazing feats, have the best adventures, desired by the worthiest people, and had the most beautiful songs written about them. Oshali wanted those opportunities. It had taken some time for her to come to terms with the idea that she would never have such beauty. Her scraggly, black hair was flat and boring no matter what she did to it, and her slanted, brown eyes were unremarkable. None of the beauties in all the history they had studied had ever been as dull-looking as her. But that wasn’t Silette’s fault.
Joren moved to stand beside them, creating the familiar triangle position they always defaulted to, and for a fleeting moment, Oshali imagined everything was once again as it had always been.
The three of them had all arrived at the sanctum at the same time as babies, needing protection from the worst of the realm. They became friends at the age of three, unwilling to be apart from each other, and at five they vowed to always remain so. They’d studied together, created mischief, shared their thoughts and feelings about everything they learned. It wasn’t as though they didn’t develop friendships with the other foster children, but their trio was special—no matter how much they bickered. Oshali never imaged being without them, but nothing stayed the same.
“Are you still heading to the other realm?” Oshali asked, dropping her arms.
Silette nodded. “It’s the only clue I have about where my family might be from.”
Silette had been lucky; the guardians had given her information suggesting where she’d come from. With the ongoing war that waged across the entire realm, which left children orphaned or separated from their families, most of the children raised in the Mheyu sanctum had no such information. Still, Silette’s self-imposed task to find her family wasn’t an easy one, but at least she had Joren with her. The Twin Realms was comprised of two enormous continents that were difficult to navigate between, since they rarely communicated or traded.
“We will miss you, Oshali,” Joren said. “Nothing will ever change that we are childhood friends, even if we might not see each other again. You know we will always deeply love for you.”
Oshali blinked rapidly as tears filled her eyes, but a surge of annoyance charged around her chest. Yes, the Twin Realms were huge, but they could still have seen each other if they wanted to. They’d all completed the basic training of the Mheyu; they knew how to locate places that would give them the best chances of surviving the war, how to live from the land, and how to use potions to protect themselves. “You are the ones making that decision,” she said to them, quietly and carefully. The last time they’d discussed this, it had turned into a heated argument, but this was her last chance to say what she needed to say. “You know I would be happy to be wherever you both are. You are the ones choosing to break us up.”
Silette’s face dropped, and she squeezed Oshali’s hand. “Please forgive us, Oshali.” She glanced at Joren who looked equally remorseful. “We can’t bare to be apart and we can’t wait. I know you don’t think you will be staying here, but you are deep in the middle of your training.”
“So?” Oshali barked. “I told you before, I’m not going to stay.”
Joren shook his head. “You say that, but nothing you’ve done proves that, Oshali.” He rested a hand on her arm. “And there’s nothing wrong with that, we’re so proud of all everything you’ve achieved here, truly. But we can’t wait. It’s too dangerous.”
Oshali’s mouth tightened as she forced herself not to start an argument. No one was more eager to leave the sanctum than she was, they knew that. It didn’t matter what training she did or what responsibilities she had in the sanctum. Her twenty-fifth was only in a week’s time. Tears stung her eyes. “I don’t belong here,” she whispered.
But she was smart enough to understand what their decision was really saying; she didn’t belong with them either. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, maybe it was true.
Much of the last few years, maybe even before that, Oshali felt like the odd one out, an intruder in a relationship that should have been just the two of them. She didn’t realize it for a long time—none of them seemed to. It developed into something she noticed, but even then, she couldn’t identify it. Of course, she’d read about, even studied, attraction, lust, and love. They were experiences she looked forward to, even yearned for, but she’d never expected to separate her from her two closest friends.
“Please, forgive us.” Silette’s voice was hoarse as she glanced again at Joren. “We love you, and you’ll always be our family.” Tears trickled from her eyes. “Nothing will ever change that.” Both of them pulled her forward into a hug, crushing her between them as the midday bell chimed, echoing throughout the sanctum.
As they pulled away, Oshali stepped back, wiping her tears. They watched her as if trying to sear her face into their memories, and then turned and walked to the large archway that served as the exit for those leaving the Mheyu for good. The guardian standing next to it muttered a chant as they approached, releasing the protective magical barrier, and then nodded at them.
When they reached the archway, Silette and Joren turned back one last time, holding each other’s hands as they smiled at her—Silette’s emerald eyes streaming tears, her lips trembling, while Joren’s kind blue eyes were glassy. They looked perfect together, and there was no doubt within Oshali that they belonged together. Turning back to the opening, Joren put his arm around Silette, drawing her close, and in one swift movement, they jumped.
Oshali’s breath left her, shock prickling through her body. They’d done it. They had really left.
She stared at the archway, frozen in shock. Part of her had never believed it would really happen. But they had abandoned her.
Oshali stood, transfixed on the archway, a heavy gloom circling her. She turned and headed back the way she came, holding the feeling at bay the best she could as she navigated through the series of corridors, heading back to her room.
The sanctum was busy at this time of day with people traveling to and from the dining hall, but typically remained relatively quiet. Some of her fellow fosters inclined their heads at her as she passed, a sign of sympathy and recognition that this was a difficult day, and she smiled back, thankful they understood. It wasn’t as though her friends were the first raised by the Mheyu to ever leave or Oshali the only one to lose childhood friends. The fosters left the sanctum all the time, seeking a life beyond the Mheyu’s strict traditions and culture. They were required to decide by their twenty-fifth birthday; either commit to a life within the sanctum, abiding the Mheyu lifestyle and aiding their cause, or seek their future out in the Twin Realms with only the support of the knowledge they’d learned through their studies at the sanctum basic studies.
Many chose to leave, saying they would wait for each other and continue their lives and friendships beyond the sanctum, but Silette had been adamant that she wanted to move on and find her place in the realm. Oshali wanted that too… she just thought they’d all be finding it together. Not that they would go and do that without her.
When she finally got to her room, she leaned against the closed door and let herself feel it; the bitter loss tinged with anger and dejection. It overwhelmed her, darkening her mood and raking old fears to the surface. Her hands shook, and she climbed into her bed and curled into a tight ball as the feeling settled in her stomach. It was a long time since she’d felt like this. Throughout her teenage years, she’d battled with it, once she realized she had no parents and no family, and like the majority of fosters, she’d most likely been abandoned, Silette and Joren had become her family. But now they were abandoning her too.
Deep sobs rocked her as she fought against the feeling, trying to cling to logical reasons why it wasn’t anyone’s fault, why it had to happen this way. But in truth, she did blame them. They were thinking of themselves, of a life without her, and that betrayal burned so deeply, she wasn’t sure she could cope with it.
A knock fell on the door. “Oshali.”
Oshali stilled and held her breath. It was one of the aides.
“Oshali? The dragorai is here to see you.”
Oshali grimaced. “Tell him to come back another day,” she called, her voice thick. She couldn’t deal with the dragorai right now, not today. When speaking with the dragorai, she needed all of her wits about her.
The aide hesitated. “I can, but you have refused to see him for nearly a month now. This will not please Guardian Pesilda.”
Oshali turned her head toward the door, groaning inwardly. It was true; she had been avoiding the dragorai.
Not only were they the most powerful and long-lasting race known to the Twin Realms, the dragorai were alphas who each had an innate bond with their own dragon from birth. That bond made both the alpha and the dragon stronger than their non-bonded counterparts. They were bigger, wilder, and had a connection to magic unlike any other. The Seven Goddess of the world had created the dragorai race; however, the only clan that remained after the war were the most vicious…
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