On Sale: September 16, 2012
His need becomes a knight’s quest and a virgin’s gift.
An ancient, cursed creature, Drago, Lord of Drakkenberg, dreads the anniversary that marks the moment he must devour a virgin or visit a plague of destruction on the world around him. Once every century, he becomes a dragon…
Only now that his castle has moved to the U.S. in a vain attempt to break the curse, suitably mature virgins are hard to come by. In the midst of his transformation, he sends his loyal knight, Guy D’Alba, in search of a woman during the Renaissance Faire they are hosting.
Guy understands his duty well, but chafes against the curse that binds him in servitude to the dragon. Until he meets a sweet young reporter who meets his overlord’s requirements—young, blonde and beautiful—and lo and behold, a virgin. But the moment he discovers her fitness, he knows he must relinquish her to Drago or their small mountain community will suffer the dragon’s wrath.
Angela Bowman is smart, young…and a lonely virgin ready to find an adventure. The moment she sees Guy, she falls beneath the spell of his smoldering sensuality. When he asks her to meet Drago, and then produces a blindfold, she finds herself so intrigued she consents.
She’s ready to surrender her innocence—but to which man? The sexy and attentive Guy—or Drago, the mysterious and dominant man she hasn’t yet seen but whose dark aura calls to the woman inside her, yearning to break free?
Note for Readers: You must be of legal age in your country of origin to read this excerpt.
The woman shivered as she sat on the chaise, her head swiveling side to side to follow the sounds his minion made as he prepared the room.
She was lovely, skin like ivory, hair like burnished gold, lips…
Lovely, yes, but did she have the one thing he needed to end his curse for all time? He shifted his stance, his boots scuffling softly on the floor.
Her head jerked toward the sound. “Is this necessary?”
“I told you his requirements,” Guy murmured from where he stood beside her.
“Why the blindfold?” she whispered. “Is he hideous?”
Drago, Lord of Drakkenberg, snorted. Most women found him desirable. So much so, they’d throw themselves into his path, heedless of any dangers. But he was careful to hide his true nature, successful most of the time with suppressing the monster inside. Not so, today. Not on the first day of the full moon.
Guy pulled the leather restraints from beneath the bolster pillow and laid them silently behind the girl in case they were needed. Then he nodded to Drago and faded toward the stone wall of the bedchamber, his duty done.
Drago stepped toward the girl, halting just in front of her. “You wished an audience?” he asked, trying to keep the dry whispery rasp in his voice hidden.
Her head tilted, exposing her slender neck.
He sniffed, smelled a citrusy perfume and the one aroma only his sensitive nose could detect…virginity. The scent was fresh and elemental like sea water. His body stirred, his cock hardening beneath his robe.
Why she was here didn’t matter in the great scheme of things. She wasn’t here to save her kin or earn a fat purse. Why any of them surrendered their chastity didn’t matter. The ancient hunger had to be fed to keep the world safe from his fiery wrath. One virgin sacrificed every hundred years, hundreds in all, their blood and tears never touching his soul. Long ago, he’d discovered he needn’t actually kill the girls, that another sort of devouring would serve the same purpose. With relief, he’d continued to exist, not because he didn’t like to kill, but he hated the waste. A virgin could be turned to serve him for her lifetime.
He’d have a companion until she died. The last, Sarah, had been gone for nearly thirty years. Although he’d dreaded watching his lover age and die, he’d cared for all her needs until the end. Or rather, he and Guy had seen to her comforts.
Faithful Guy. The knight who’d vowed to vanquish him before he’d faced him atop that atoll, had hesitated when he’d discovered the nature of the sacrifice. Thereafter, he’d vowed to serve the creature and keep his secret, trading his vow to the church for a higher calling as they’d worked together to use Drago’s curse for good. In the old days, they’d funded a private army to protect the innocent. These days, they used their vast fortune to donate to good causes around the world.
“Are you Lord Drakken?”
Her head tilted to one side. “I asked for an interview. Can we dispense with the blindfold?”
“No.” His ability to maintain a human form was temporarily compromised. He didn’t want to frighten her. Gazing down at his hands where the green scales covered the backs and his nails had stretched to sharp talons—no, he’d frighten her to death if she saw him now. “Did Guy explain things?”
“That you’re a recluse and didn’t like to grant interviews? Yes. He said the first write-up in the paper was one he provided to the reporter.” Her eyebrows drew together above the black cloth. “Why did you make an exception for me? I’m not the most experienced reporter on the Tribune’s staff.”
“You met one of my prerequisites.”
She straightened. “What was that?”
“You are a virgin.”
Her breath caught. “How could you know that?” she murmured and tilted her head backward. “And why would it matter?”
“Because I will ask for something in exchange for this interview.”
“Good lord, I’m an idiot. I don’t know which of you is worse,” she said, her voice a strained whisper. “One trying to seduce me, one bribing me.”
He arched an eyebrow toward Guy whose mouth curved. “Can you be bribed? How ambitious are you?”
She wrinkled her pretty nose. “I’ve been writing classifieds. I’d do almost anything to get a chance to write features.”
“So you told Guy. Almost anything?” He leaned toward her. “Would you sacrifice your chastity?”
Rather than displaying gape-mouthed shock, the little virgin tilted up her chin—the height and sharpness of the movement betraying anger. “You want me to sleep with you?”
For someone so inexperienced, she was bold. Blindfolded and alone with two strangers, and yet, other than the rosy blush spotting her cheeks, the young woman was composed.
Interest stirred inside him. Arousal tensed his groin. “Is it so very alarming?” he drawled. “I’d compensate you—with pleasure—as well as put in a good word for you with your editor. He’s a friend of mine.” Not that she’d be free to enjoy any career advancement.
“I don’t understand. Are virgins your particular fetish?” she bit out. “I would have thought we’d be too much bother for someone so worldly.”
Drago ignored her question. “Are you saving yourself for some purpose? Marriage, perhaps?”
Her mouth twisted. “Why does it matter?”
“I am curious, and so is Guy.”
Her head turned slightly toward Guy, who stepped forward and cupped the corner of her shoulder, rubbing his thumb against her skin.
She shrugged her shoulder to throw off his underling’s caress. “Guy led me on. I don’t owe him or you an answer.”
“Don’t be angry with Guy. His interest in you is real. I can tell by the way he’s staring daggers at me right now,” he drawled, eyeing the deadly gleam in his friend’s eyes.
“And yet, he remains silent while you insult me.”
“Did I insult? I apologize. Guy and I have similar tastes. What he saw in you, your spirit of adventure, your beauty, I also desire.”
Her breath caught, and her head turned slightly toward Guy as though hoping he’d reassure her.
But Guy remained mute, his body stiff. He knew what must happen.
“I mean you no harm,” Drago continued, keeping his voice soft. “Only pleasure. We both do. But I am still curious how you managed to remain pure.”
Her breaths evened out, and she faced him again. “For the longest time, I simply didn’t have time to pursue a relationship with a man.”
With a slow move, he leaned close and let his breath stir the hair beside her cheek. “Maybe you didn’t find a strong enough reason to give yourself,” he murmured. “Or maybe, the men you’ve dated haven’t found the secret to seducing you. As you said, we are worldly men.”
Her breath wheezed inward, and her head snapped back. “Lord Drakken! I’m not going to trade my body for a story.”
“Then what will you trade it for?” Her mouth opened, ready to serve him another set down, he had no doubt, but her brow furrowed as she paused.
“This room is very large. There’s an echo. Why is it so large?”
Smart lady. Her sudden change of subject had him grinning. “Perhaps I like the space.”
“The workers who rebuilt the castle weren’t very chatty. But they did mention there were unusual accouterments.”
“Do you have theories about their purpose?”
“Is this a dungeon?”
He drew back. A dungeon? One existed beneath the main rooms, but… “Do you think I have a dungeon for sexual play?”
“Why else?” A slim shoulder lifted and fell.
His lips twitched. “Does that intrigue you?”
“I’ve been doing research into places like this. But I haven’t managed to get through the front doors of any of the clubs inRaleigh.”
“Why do you think that is? Can they can guess your innocence just by looking at you?”
The furrows in her forehead relaxed. Her head canted. “Do you really think they can?”
“An experienced man would know.” Leaning close, he drew in her scent. “He can smell it on you.”
“Maybe…” Her teeth bit into her bottom lip, then released it. “Maybe we have something we can bargain for. If you’re into the scene, that is. I’d let you tie me up…”
She’d be more comfortable restrained then seduced? His body hardened. Something about the girl, more than her prized hymen, intrigued him. “I would still need a sample of your innocence.”
“Nothing that will compromise your virginity, but I would taste you.”