Authors: Donna Grant
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal, #General, #Gothic, #Fantasy, #Urban, #Sagas
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To Kelly Mueller –
You helped save my sanity.
I owe you. So pick your Dragon King!
To my editor, Monnique Patterson, miracle extraordinaire. Sums you up perfectly!
To my agent, Nattanya Wheeler, for always being ready with an answer no matter what my question might be. And for our mutual love of wine, pasta, hunky guys, and the written word.
To everyone at SMP who was involved in getting this book ready including, Alex, Erinn, Amy, the truly amazing art department, and marketing. Y’all are astounding. Thank you!
A special thanks to my friends and family for the endless support and love.
A loud sigh escaped Kinsey as she read the e-mail a second time. Rain splashed on the window of her cottage, but she didn’t hear it. Her mind wasn’t focusing on her new job assignment, which would take her to Dreagan Industries.
She should be ecstatic to get such a client. Normally she would be. If she could concentrate.
No, all she could think of was one thing—Ryder.
She set aside her laptop and stared at the wall. Kinsey was by turns numb, angry, and afraid. Though she wasn’t sure if those feelings were directed at Ryder … or herself.
The first time she’d met him, she instinctively knew he was going to change her life. And he had. Drastically. For those precious months were the happiest of her life.
Then he’d left Glasgow with a confusing—and brief—letter telling her it was over. It took her years to get over him.
Just when she thought she’d put Ryder in her past for good, she saw him again.
Kinsey squeezed her eyes closed at the memory. She couldn’t think of that night. It was too horrific, too shocking. Her world had been turned on its side in a split second.
Others didn’t seem to notice, or didn’t care. But she still struggled to catch her footing at what happened.
She gave herself a mental shake as she opened her eyes. No amount of thinking about Ryder was going to solve the issues at hand. They would never get resolved, because she planned to never see him again.
With a push off the cushion, Kinsey rose and walked to her room. She pulled out her overnight bag and began to pack. She was due at Dreagan by noon tomorrow.
Normally, she’d be thrilled at being personally requested to do a job with such a big corporation, but Kinsey’s head hadn’t been in her work since that awful night a month ago when her city burned and crazies with red eyes and black and silver hair raced through the streets of Glasgow.
She zipped up her bag and began to gather her makeup and toiletries. The job at Dreagan was pretty big. Then again, she’d proven herself time and again by being the best hacker at Kyvor.
With as large a corporation as Dreagan was, Kinsey suspected it would take her a few days to get through everything, which was why she was packing. But she would get it done—because that’s what she always did.
Her personal life might be down the drain, but her professional life was on the way to the top.
Ryder reached for another strawberry jelly–filled donut from the box and sank his teeth into the pastry. He moaned in ecstasy at his favorite snack.
“You’ve got powder on your lips,” said Dmitri from the doorway.
Ryder grinned and kept chewing as he winked at his fellow Dragon King from over the four rows of monitors that ran in a large semicircle around him.
Dmitri chuckled as he came around the screens and grabbed one of the chairs pushed against the table where Ryder worked. Dmitri pulled the chair toward him and sat, his bright blue eyes directed at Ryder. “Anything new?”
“Nay,” Ryder said and took another bite. He didn’t need to ask what Dmitri was referring to with the war going on between the Dark Fae.
Dmitri blew out a breath and ran a hand through his short brown hair. “The Dark are suddenly no’ interested in Dreagan? Tell me you doona find that odd.”
“I find it exceedingly peculiar. But at the same time, I’m glad we doona have to worry about them right now with MI5 crawling around the estate.”
Again, thanks to the Dark Fae releasing the video they shot of the Dragon Kings shifting into their true forms and fighting the Dark.
No sooner had the words left Ryder’s mouth than the camera near the gift shop of the distillery picked up two MI5 agents patrolling the area. As if they would find clues of dragons while looking among the flora and fauna.
Ryder shook his head at them. MI5 so intent on making a discovery that there really were dragons that they were acting like idiots in order to do it.
It’d been almost two months with the mortals on the sixty-thousand-acre property, and Ryder hated it. Every time he saw them it was a reminder of what the Dark Fae had done to the Dragon Kings’ world.
Every day Ryder spent hours taking down the videos that kept popping up, showing them in their true form as dragons. Now the entire world was obsessed with dragons. And not necessarily all in a good way—MI5 was a prime example of that.
How ironic since it was because of the humans that the Dragon Kings sent all the dragons to another realm thousands of years ago.
“This willna end anytime soon,” Dmitri said in a voice laced with anger as he watched the MI5 agents on the monitor.
Ryder made a sound at the back of his throat. “With every video of us fighting the Dark that night that I take down off the Internet, a hundred more pop up.”
“Ulrik is behind this.”
“Or the Dark.”
“Or both,” Dmitri said.
Ryder nodded in agreement. “Someone sure wants to keep it out there for the mortals to keep seeing and discussing it. I can no’ keep it off YouTube, documentaries are all over the place, and the news channels continue to talk about whether dragons are real.”
Ryder cut him a hard look. “No’ to the humans.”
“What about all the dragon experts out there?” Dmitri asked sarcastically.
Ryder finished off the donut before he said, “Dragon experts my arse. They doona know what they’re talking about.”
“Which is what makes things interesting. Right up until they unearthed that dragon skeleton.”
Ryder gave a shake of his head. “Doona remind me of that. I thought we’d gathered all of them. How the hell did we miss it? More importantly, how many more did we miss?”
“There were a lot of dragons killed in the war with the mortals. I’m no’ surprised we missed one. Need I remind you we didna have a lot of time either. We went into hiding here from the mortals.”
“Aye. Just something else for the humans to have on us. It has to stop sometime.”
Dmitri folded his arms across his chest. “I’m going crazy no’ being able to take to the skies at night. First we were sentenced to only fly at night, and now no’ at all. We’re dragons, Ryder. We’re supposed to be able to fly, but with the world watching us, we can no’ even do that.”
Ryder couldn’t respond because his eyes were glued to a screen to his left. That camera was pointed to the parking lot of the distillery.
Since they were closed to tourists for the winter, the red Fiat had caught his attention for two reasons. One—because the car made him think of Kinsey. And two—because it wasn’t one of the government cars the agents of MI5 drove.
Then he could only stare in shock when the car door opened and he spotted long dark hair pulled into a high ponytail. Kinsey. Even with her back to him, he knew it was her.
His heart missed a beat. What was she doing at Dreagan? Had she pieced it together? The last time he saw her, she’d been running from him. Ryder could’ve caught her, but he’d remained behind and killed the Dark Fae ravaging Glasgow.
Since he left her three years earlier, he’d watched her from afar, making sure she was safe. Weeks ago, he was the closest he’d been in years. Now … now she was at Dreagan.
His palms began to sweat and breathing became difficult. Kinsey was at Dreagan. Ryder didn’t know whether to be excited or furious—but he was leaning to the side of thrilled.
“Ryder?” Dmitri said his name.
He held up his hand to Dmitri, not bothering to look at him. As if Ryder could. His gaze was riveted on the woman he’d been in love with for four years.
Even as he began to think of all he would say to her, there was a niggle of worry. What if she was working with Ulrik or the Dark? What if they sent her there to use him for information?
Ryder’s enthusiasm dimmed. He didn’t want to believe Kinsey would do that, but a gut feeling wasn’t enough. The world of the Dragon Kings was in chaos. There was no room for mistakes—of any kind.
Kinsey looked around the parking lot, her eyes searching.
He stared at her heart-shaped face, his heart clutching at having her so close again. How many times had he caressed her cheek or stared into her large violet eyes? How many times had he kissed those plump lips or simply held her as they watched a movie? Each time he saw her, she got more and more beautiful.
After a moment, she closed the car door and started toward the distillery. Ryder’s gaze immediately lowered to her amazing ass and the denim that only showed it off more. The black blazer was casual over the white tee, but like always, she looked amazing.
Dmitri whistled. “Who’s that?”
Ryder’s gaze moved to the next screen and saw Tristan near the gift shop. He opened the mental link between all Dragon Kings and said his name.
Tristan responded immediately. “
“There’s a woman coming toward you. Her name is Kinsey Burns. Doona let her leave.”
Tristan left the link open as he smiled and greeted Kinsey after he turned the corner and saw her. Ryder could only watch the monitor and try to decipher what it was Kinsey wanted.
“She said she’s here for the job we ordered with the new monitors,”
“What do I tell her?
“I’ve already installed those monitors weeks ago.”
Ryder hesitated. Kinsey was terrified of seeing him in dragon form. If she knew he was here, she’d never have come. Not after the way she’d looked at him.
“Kinsey wouldna come here on her own. We need to know who sent her.”