Authors: Angela Castle
“It’s not your fault and you don’t have to fly. I’ll keep in mind not to take you up tall buildings next time. And if I ever meet that father of yours—”
“Next time! No way on this Earth, or the next, will I walk into another viper’s nest, thank you!” She curled her fist, lightly punching his peck.
“Ouch, geesh woman.” He rubbed at his chest, his eyes alight with mischief. “I’m not your personal punching bag. That’ll leave a bruise.”
“Big baby, want me to kiss your boo-boo better?” She pouted her lips seductively.
“I’ll take what I can get.” His grin was devilishly handsome. No doubt he’d melted the heart of many a woman in his time. A surge of primal dragon jealousy surged through her veins. She struggled to keep a lid on it, refocusing her thoughts.
“How did you become immortal anyway? Is it really a big secret to keep hidden from Jones?”
“Immortality or being a god doesn’t mean you can’t be killed. Trust me, there is no way in any realm Jones could catch my brand of immortal. Sometimes it can pay off to be the best at what you do. I was the most skilled warrior and leader. That was until I was betrayed by my own wife, and by those I trusted most. One of the gods saw my skill as useful and offered me a choice: die, or renew my life to serve him in his army.”
“Which god?” Her jealously calmed, replaced with avid curiosity.
“Odin, the great Allfather of Norse people. A war was waging in the heavens, he was recruiting, so I joined up. At the time it was better than being dead, and I had a lot of bitter pain raging in my youthful heart. Vengeance is a powerful motivator.”
“Didn’t all the northern gods die?”
His lips twisted into a sad smile. “The great war of the heavens killed many of the gods. The day Odin breathed his last, I found myself cast back to Earth and forgotten. Time passes differently in the heavens than it does on Earth. Everyone I held a vendetta against was gone. Time had settled the score for me. I suddenly found myself lost, without cause, wandering the Earth unable to die, and unable to end my own life.”
“You’ve been alone like me, have you not loved anyone else?”
“Human life is fleeting. At first I tried. My second wife was a petite French woman named Elsa. I loved her right through to her old age, then buried her.” A distant sadness filled his blue eyes. “After her, I stepped back from humans. It hurt too much to grow close, only to have them slip from your grasp.” His gaze fell on her. “Don’t become involved with humans, sweetheart, you’ve already found it’s not worth the pain.”
He set her gently on the bed. Standing up and stretching, he flexed all those wonderful muscles. A tight pain seized Opie’s heart. She lowered her head, longing to scream,
I’m right here! I’m not human, we’re meant to be together! You’re my mate, I’ll never leave you.
“How are you feeling now?”
Afraid of telling you how I really feel, knowing you’ll just reject me.
“I’m good. Thanks for the talk.”
“We’re in this together. I see no reason why we can’t make a temporary partnership work. Jones and Gremlock need to be stopped. We’ll fight and defeat this evil together.”
“Right, fight, defeat evil together.”
What am I going to do? How will I tell him about us being mates?
“I need to get the leather scroll and the knowledge stone back to base, come on sweetheart...” He patted her thigh, giving her a panty melting, pulse racing grin. “We’ve got a puzzle to solve and a world to save.”
Opie snorted. “I’m beginning to see your big plans are half baked and you wing it most of the time.”
“Hey, why change a system that’s worked for me for a few centuries? If it ain’t broke, it don’t need fixing.” He winked before he bent to retrieve his black leather pants, shoving in one foot after the other and sliding them up his legs. She licked her lips, staring at his now covered arse as he zipped up. Yup, her man went commando. Why was she worrying over what would happen later when she should be enjoying the now?
“How did you end up with this gig anyway? Wandering immortal isn’t something you can put down on a resume.” Opie climbed from the bed and concentrated her powers on what she wanted to wear for their next outing.
“I bumped into a few other immortals along the way. Met a fellow warrior and crusader against anything demonic. Neman is a Sumerian Moon God who had his powers stolen and family murdered, so he was out to kick demon arse for the rest of his immortal life. He’d already started Moon Shadows Agency when I bumped into him. He asked if I wanted to join, and I couldn’t resist. It gave me something to do, provided me with a steady income, and I got to kill evil things.”
Simon turned around, his eyes widened as they ran down her body. “By Odin’s balls, are you trying to give me heart failure!?”
“What?” Opie glanced down at her long sleeved billowy blouse. It was cut down the middle running tight across her breasts. She loved how the black under bust corset pulled her waist in. Denim short shorts and her favourite black leather high heeled boots completed the outfit.
“Dental floss has more fabric in it than what you’re wearing!”
“Oh, grow some fashion sense, I look hot.”
“Too damn hot and that’s the problem!”
Opie saw the chance to grab this bull by the horns. Could it be he really was jealous if other men saw her as sexy and desired her? It made her heart do a little pitter-patter. Maybe they were in with a chance to win him.
“Again? Are you going to complain about every outfit I wear? I like to feel sexy, and these make me feel sexy. Why do you care what I wear?”
“Because you’re with me, that’s why!” His jaw clenched tight he stalked forward, grabbing her forearms. “It’s bad enough I want to fuck you most of the time, but this... I-I can’t even think straight. How am I meant to get anything done?”
“Oh, but—” His mouth descended on hers in a soul stripping, punishing kiss. He dropped her just as suddenly and turned and stalked away, leaving her dazed and hella turned on. Okay, so she got his point. If he did that to her all the time, there’s no way she’d let him get anything done. She really didn’t want the human world over run by evil demons, just yet. Work now, play later. She managed to focus her magic and change her shorts into long jeans—but she was keeping the corset and the gypsy/pirate wench look.
Opie felt her grin tilt before the tether spell kicked in. “Hey!” She got yanked forward and dragged behind him as he marched through his subterranean home. The building above was simply for show, as all his living spaces were neatly hidden underneath. The man had more security gadgets than Fort Knox.
She trotted to keep up, emerging in his large, modern kitchen.
The man had every kitchen gadget imaginable lined along the sleek marble top benches. Simon’s head was already half buried in his two door silver refrigerator. He yanked a white plastic pot before slamming the door shut with his boot. He slammed the pot onto the island counter.
His weary gaze slid to her jeans. His grunt and nod of approval once again made her insides feel like melted caramel. Even her dragon purred, urging her to please him more.
“Famished. Oh, and by the way, I do cook on occasion. But I wouldn’t know one end of a hoover from the other.”
The frown melted from his face, as he shoved the pot into a large industrial size microwave.
“You cooked this?” She slid her arse onto a stool.
“Hardly, I have a couple who work for the agency who live upstairs. They cook, clean, and keep the appearance of a lived-in house.”
“Sensible. This Moon Shadows Agency must be pretty large?” Opie fiddled with her hair, dragging it back from her face and braiding it down her back.
“Locations and hunters are stationed all over the planet.” Simon watched her with renewed heat in his blue gaze. He blinked and glanced away, but not before she caught a glimpse of something else in his gaze. Guilt? Her mind wandered back over their conversation, realising he’d avoided answering her first question. What was Simon’s secret? Was it so terrible he couldn’t tell her? When the hell would she ever be brave enough to tell him the truth of just what he really means to her?
“Hello, you must be Ophelia.” A young man with dusty brown hair flashed her a charming grin. He was wearing a black t-shirt with ‘
Fuck with me and he’ll fuck you up,’
printed in white on the front, with an arrow. He held out his hand. “I’m Darren, better half to the white-haired elf over there.” He hooked his thumb toward where Simon, Jonah and Slazzamar huddled around the stone and scroll. Warm friendship and honesty rolled from the young man. She liked him and his Australian accent.
“Nice to meet you, Darren. I see you have a thing for tacky t-shirts?” Opie smiled, shaking his hand.
“Yeah, Slazz and I loved them so much we bought a whole t-shirt printing company. Mr Brainy over there keeps coming up with the slogans. Funnily enough they sell like hotcakes. So, Slazz tells me you’re a dragon. I may bat for Slazz’s team, but you’re the first and loveliest female dragon I’ve ever met.”
Her brow rose in surprise. “You’ve met a few dragons then?”
“Not female ones, but I’ve got a few dragon friends. Kaden DeKerr owns a huge arsed cattle station in the Northern Territory of Australia. Oh, and recently a big red dragon by the name of Brimstone moved out that way, with a few others, you know, to guard the portal between realms. Oh, and Slade the Sly does jobs for the agency every now and then.”
Opie’s back stiffened at the names and took a step back. “Brimstone the Crusher, and Slade the Sly?” A sudden panic seized in her chest.
“Oh, you know him too?”
“He is a part of King Firestrong’s army.”
Must get out, must run, they’ll find me!
“Uh yes, are you alright? You look kind of pale, are you a diabetic or have low blood pressure? Have you eaten today? I think you should sit down so I can look you over. I’m a nurse you know.”
“Opie?” She hadn’t noticed Simon move from his pow-wow party, his brow dipped in concern as he stared down at her.
“Uh, can we go?”
“Not until we get the scroll translated.”
She saw Slazzamar move to Darren’s side. “Been causing trouble, my love?”
“Me? Of course not, just talking about our fellow dragon friends. And she likes our t-shirts.”
“Opie, what’s wrong?” Simon placed his hand on her shoulder.
“I want to go, now!” She gripped onto Simon’s arm, thinking of the fastest way out before her panic consumed her. She teleported them out.
Blinding bright sun shining on her and hot sand under her feet made her squeeze her eyes shut and sigh as sweet heat seeped into her skin.
“What the fuck, Opie!” Simon grabbed her shoulder, his other hand shielding his eyes from the hot sun. “You can’t just pop us out of an important meeting, take us back, now!”
“No...can’t...they...they’ll find me!
“Who’ll find you, what did Darren say to you?”
“Remember when I said my father had sold me off to a dragon lord? I would have been married to him on my fourteenth winter.”
“I don’t understand. What does this have to do with Darren? He is human, and Slazzamar is not a secret peddler anymore. You’re safe with them—safe, Opie.”
“Darren is friends with a dragon from the Firestrong Kingdom, my father’s kingdom neighboured theirs. My father sold me off to a Firestrong Lord,” she hissed.
“Oh, now I see. Sweetheart...” He gathered her against his chest. “No one’s going to take you from me. Trust me to protect you, even from other dragons. If the human and Slazzamar know dragons, they are probably like you—have left the Dragon Realm, and wouldn’t care who you are or where you’re from.”
“You promise to protect me?”
“On my own immortal life.” He tilted her chin up, bending down to place a kiss on her lips. “You can’t just pop us off to this desert every time you have a panic attack. We need to face our problems or they’ll forever haunt us.”
She swallowed, her heart still pounding, the need to confess on the tip of her tongue. “Simon, I... I need to tell you something.”
“What is it, sweetheart?” Expectantly, he waited.
“I...I...I really love coming to this desert.”
Opie, you coward!
Simon snorted. “So I noticed.”
“The sand polishes my scales, and the heat feels amazing.”
“We’ll come back for a holiday after the mission. Can we go back now?”
Opie charged her power and popped them back into Jonah’s office.
The other three men stood waiting, Slazzamar with a half knowing smile on his face.
“Sorry about that.” Opie shrugged, dipping her head, aiming for her ‘cute’ look. “I needed some urgent vitamin D.” She’d blame the heat from the Gobi desert for her pinked cheeks and not her panic attack.
Simon got straight to the point. “You three, the knowledge of who Opie is will not to go beyond this room, especially to other dragons, got it?” Simon glared at the three men.
“Hey, man, chill, my lips are sealed.” Darren put on a show of locking his lips with a key and throwing it away.
Slazzamar rolled his eyes at his partner, muttering a fond, “Show off.” Darren grinned, shrugging his shoulders.
“I know dragon females are rare and highly prized in the dragon realm. I understand, if you don’t want any others to know about you. Don’t worry, Opie, you’re safe and among friends here.” Slazzamar nodded. She breathed a huge sigh of relief. “Having a dragon on our team is a huge advantage. Can you fight with us, Opie?”
She grinned. “My claws, fire and scales give me an advantage.”
“So you’re in?” Jonah stepped forward.
“Well, duh, not like I have a choice since I tethered a man who dyes his hair black to me. I thought blonds had more fun, or is it to add fake intelligence?”
Darren howled with laughter. “Oh, I love this woman!”
Opie grinned, but looked at Slazzamar. “Don’t worry I’ll do what needs to be done.” She glanced up at Simon. He smirked, the rat bastard.
Darren calmed down, still giggling a bit, wiping tears from his eyes.
“Good.” Slazzamar nodded. “I’ve translated the scroll and stone, and I’ve hung around the halls of knowledge and Neman long enough to have learned a few things.” He led them back to the table, pointing to the long leathery scroll “This is a genealogy of kings, all of whom have owned the Akkadin Amulet, and the only known key to the prison of the Gullu army. It states where the last king to have the amulet is buried deep in the Forrest of the Hallstatt people.”