Firefighter Dragon: BBW Dragon Shifter Paranormal Romance

BOOK: Firefighter Dragon: BBW Dragon Shifter Paranormal Romance
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Firefighter Dragon

By Zoe Chant

Copyright Zoe Chant 2016

All Rights Reserved

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

A note from Zoe Chant

More Paranormal Romance by Zoe Chant

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Chapter One

––––––––

T
he first thing Virginia Jones had learned in her very first lecture as a college student was that
real
archaeology was nothing like archaeology in the movies.
"
We do not," her professor had declared as he swept the rows of eager young faces with a withering stare, "break into foreign locations with crowbars and dodge deadly traps in order to find lost golden treasures."

If he could see me now
, Virginia thought with black humor as she levered the crowbar,
the old man would have an aneurysm
.

Admittedly, the foreign location was a construction site in the south of England, and the deadly traps were a couple of CCTV cameras, but Virginia was pretty sure her old professor would still have disapproved. Particularly as she was technically—OK,
very definitely
—breaking the law. Along with the site's side gate. If she could manage to get the stupid thing open.

Next time I have to break and enter in order to protect a site of major historical interest
,
I'm bringing an angle grinder.
Virginia threw her full weight against the crowbar, and was rewarded by the creak of complaining metal as the gate twisted on its hinges. Taking a firm grip on both her nerves and her metal detector, Virginia wriggled through the gap.

In the green static of her rented night vision goggles, the construction site looked like a lunar landscape, with deep ruts and craters where the bulldozers had already scraped back the topsoil. Virginia scowled, anger flooding through her at the sight. Whatever vestigial burial mound might have remained would have been thoroughly destroyed, and precious information along with it. She could only hope that she wasn't already too late to save priceless artifacts from being crushed and desecrated beyond hope of recovery by the uncaring machines.

Checking the compass on her cell phone, Virginia rotated to orient herself. Far below her to the south, she could see the distant lights of Brighton, strung out along the seaside. Up here on the rolling chalk hills of the South Downs, the city looked like a glittering handful of jewels in a cupped palm.

An image of what it would have looked like over a thousand years ago flashed through her head—just a few tiny sparks from the hearths of the Saxon settlers, surrounded by vast, forested darkness. Had one of those settlers looked up at the looming hills where she now stood, and planned how he would be buried there so that he could watch over his descendants as they multiplied in the new home they had named after him...?

"I hope so," Virginia muttered to herself.

Unslinging her metal detector, she set to work. The chalky soil slid under her boots as she methodically quartered the site, swinging the metal detector with a steady rhythm. For the moment, she kept out of view of the CCTV cameras that guarded the scattered bulldozers parked at the center of the site. Her heart leapt at every squeal and click in her headphones, only to plummet again as her searching fingers uncovered nothing more than a stray nail or discarded Coke can.

"Come on, Brithelm," she coaxed under her breath, as though a warrior who'd been dead for over fifteen hundred years could obligingly shift his grave into a more discoverable position. "Don't be shy."

Unfortunately, Brithelm continued to be a coy corpse, as her sweep of the perimeter turned up not even as much as a bent copper coin. Virginia eyed the CCTV cameras, wishing that she'd taken a few electronics or computing courses alongside her archaeology major as an undergrad. As it was, her extensive and detailed knowledge of Anglo-Saxon Migrations (AD 400-900) did not provide her with any particular insights as to how to disable a modern security camera. With a shrug, she started sweeping her way across the monitored area anyway. Having spent the better part of three months single-handedly examining every other square inch of the hills above Brighton, she could hardly turn back now.

"Come
on
, Brithelm," she pleaded, each foot of ground covered eroding her hope.

Four years of research, three preliminary papers, two trips to Europe and one nearly-exhausted grant all led to this tiny bit of churned mud. She'd staked her reputation on this find. If there was nothing here—

The metal detector squealed.

Virginia's heart leaped into her mouth, and she dropped to her knees. Carefully locating the source of the signal, she pulled her trowel from her tool belt and started digging. She methodically passed the metal detector from deepening hole to growing pile of earth and back again, testing each shovelful as she dug. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

Signal
!

Virginia gently sifted the soil through her shaking hands. Her bare fingers brushed metal, and a peculiar, very unscientific thrill shot through her veins. Even before she rubbed off the dirt, she was strangely certain that this,
this
was what she'd been looking for, and that somehow it had been looking for her too.

Though exactly what it was she had found wasn't immediately apparent. The gently-curving piece of metal was as wide as two of her fingers, and about five inches long. Cradling it in one hand, Virginia fumbled with her night vision goggles with her free hand, pushing them up onto her forehead. She took her penlight from her tool belt, clicking on the narrow beam of light, and directed it onto the piece.

"Oh, you beauty," she breathed, as the light illuminated the unmistakable gleam of pure gold.

She turned the piece over. The concave side was smooth, but the convex side was chased in intricately worked patterns. Even through the concealing grime, Virginia could see that the workmanship was exquisite. An enormous domed gem glinted up at her from the center of the piece, the shifting highlight trapped in its heart making it look like the slitted eye of some fabulous beast.

Like...a dragon?
Virginia's heart skipped a beat.

"
Brave Brithelm, with the dragon's eye,"
she said aloud in Old English, quoting one of the few handful of surviving texts from the period that referred to the warrior.

Suddenly what she was looking at clicked into place.
"
The nose guard of a helmet."

She imagined how it would have looked complete, how the jewels and gold work would have crowned the head of the warrior who wore it in a dazzling display of wealth and power. "A bright helm.
Brithelm
."

"Ah, the indefatigable Virginia," drawled a familiar, amused male voice from behind her, nearly making Virginia drop the precious artifact. She just managed to shove the nose-guard into her pocket before she was pinned in the beam of a flashlight. "Why am I not surprised?"

"Bertram." Virginia stood and turned, her eyes watering in the sudden glare. Even though her heart was hammering in her mouth, she would rather have died on the spot than given her nemesis the satisfaction of knowing he'd startled her.

"What, slumming it out in the field? I thought you liked to leave that sort of thing to us," she made air quotes with her fingers, "'less intellectual dirt-diggers.'"

"Unintellectual dirt-diggers, my dear," Bertram said, his aristocratic British accent making each syllable ring like cut glass. "Do learn to quote sources accurately. It would improve your papers immensely."

He sauntered forward, delicately picking his way over the churned ground. As ever, he was impeccably dressed in a slim-cut pale grey suit that had probably cost as much as Virginia's entire research grant.

He twitched the flashlight's beam down to the hole at her feet, then back up to her face. "My, haven't you been a busy girl."

I didn't hear a car
, Virginia realized uneasily.

Bertram looked as freshly-pressed and crisp as if he'd just dropped out of the sky, but she could only assume that he'd been lurking in the shadows the whole time. Had he seen the nose-guard?

She forced herself to keep her hand away from her coat pocket, and her voice light and even. "Have you been following me, or just hanging round here in the hopes I'd turn up?"

"I had a feeling your little wild goose chase might lead you to do something rash." Bertram inclined his head in the direction of the CCTV camera. "I thought it prudent to keep an eye on my father's investment. After all, I did recommend this site to him as an ideal location for his latest hotel.
Such
charming views, after all."

"You knew," Virginia spat, fury making her fists clench. "You knew all my research pointed to this being Brithelm's grave. You aren't fit to call yourself an archaeologist, you, you
vandal
."

"And yet, somehow, all our peers look up to me, and consider you a laughingstock." Bertram brushed a nonexistent speck of dirt off his sleeve, his heavy gold signet ring flashing as he did so. "If I may offer you a bit of free professional advice? Give up this ridiculous love affair of yours with this entirely mythical warrior. Perhaps you could take up a nice, quiet position in a local history museum? You'd make a simply splendid tour guide for schoolchildren."

"I am so looking forward to seeing your face when I present my findings," Virginia said. "I'll make sure the conference organizers reserve you a front-row seat."

Bertram sighed. "Alas, the academic world is so prejudiced. Criminals are rarely invited to give keynote speeches. Are you aware of the maximum sentence for breaking and entering?"

"Are you aware of the maximum sentence for corruption and bribery?" Virginia shot back. "Because I know you signed off on the paperwork for this site, saying that it was of no historic interest and so suitable for building. And there is no way in
hell
you actually did that survey."

Bertram went suddenly very still. "You found something."

I am alone at midnight in the middle of nowhere with a man who has despised me for nearly a decade, with something in my pocket that is both going to professionally ruin him and incidentally cost his family a very, very large sum of money.

"No," Virginia said, unconvincingly.

"You found something," Bertram repeated. His eyes narrowed. "What? A mere trifle, no doubt. A coin, or an arrowhead. Nothing of significance."

"Hah! You wish." Virginia couldn't help the grin that spread over her face. "Oh, you are so busted, Bertram. This isn't just any old burial mound. This is
Brithelm's
burial mound, and I can prove it."

"You found proof?" Strangely, he sounded exultant. "You must have found...
it
." A hungry expression spread over his face as he took a step closer. "Give it to me. Now."

Virginia backed away, fumbling for her crowbar. "Lay one finger on me and I swear I will brain you."

"Are you threatening me?" Bertram chuckled. "How entertaining. I think that I would very much like to see you try it." He kept coming forward, and Virginia kept retreating. "Come on, my dear delectable Virginia. Don't be ridiculous. You have never been able to win against me, and you certainly won't now. Just give me Brithelm's gem."

Virginia's palm was sweating on the handle of the crowbar. "You'll have to prize it out of my cold, dead fingers, you bastard."

Bertram's eyes glittered oddly in the light. "Excellent."

He lunged, and Virginia hurled the crowbar at him. Without waiting to see if it had connected, she whirled and ran, her boots pounding over the rutted ground. Over her own panicked breathing, she heard Bertram laugh, then a strange noise like an enormous tarpaulin flapping in a storm. Then—nothing.

As she wriggled back through the broken gate, Virginia risked a glance behind her. All was dark. Had Bertram switched off his flashlight, the better to stalk her through the night? She half-slid down the sloping hill to where she'd left her Range Rover parked next to the road, dropping her crowbar in order to fumble frantically for the keys. Expecting at any moment to feel Bertram's hands grabbing at her, she flung herself into the vehicle.

Only when she was finally barreling back down the twisting countryside roads at a thoroughly unsafe forty miles per hour did her galloping heart begin to slow. She drew in a deep, shuddering breath, checking her rear view mirror. No sign of pursuit. Maybe he hadn't had a car. Maybe he'd given up. Maybe he was just—her racing mind scrabbled for ways that rich, evil English aristocrats might deal with people who'd crossed them—on the phone, calmly placing a hit on her.

BOOK: Firefighter Dragon: BBW Dragon Shifter Paranormal Romance
5.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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