Authors: Michelle M. Pillow
with the Cajun © Copyright 2015 by Michelle M. Pillow
First Electronic Printing October 2015, The Raven Books
Cover art by Ravven © Copyright 2015
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
All books copyrighted to the author and may not be resold or given away without written permission from the author, Michelle M. Pillow.
This novel is a work of fiction. Any and all characters, events, and places are of the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or events or places is merely coincidence. Novel intended for adults only. Must be 18 years or older to read.
Published by The Raven Books
Raven Books and all affiliate sites and projects are © Copyrighted 2004-2015
he bayou is
about to get a whole lot hotter for Drake. This alpha dragon-shifter had all but given up on finding a mate until one practically falls into his lap.
Dragon Lords Series
Lords of the Var Series
new to my books, the
are my bestselling futuristic shape-shifter romance series. The stories became reader favorites, and so I wrote things from their enemy’s point of view in a spin-off series for the cat-shifting
Lords of the Var
. Then they ventured off into the stars in the series installment
. Now, I’m time traveling with them back to our time with the series
Captured by a Dragon-Shifter
, which you are now reading book one of. Don’t worry, I have the series reading order on my website to help you figure it all out,
To those of you not new to my books, readers have emailed asking Dragon Lords cultural questions since the first dragon-shifting prince released years ago. I have teased you with a lot of little hints of how the Draig found brides in “the old days”. Many of you have expressed wanting to climb aboard the space ship and sail away into the future—which would probably take some cryogenic freezing and a lot of icy waiting. Well, before you start packing those sweaters… I don’t want any of you going to that extreme, so I’ve brought your favorite dragon-shifters and cat-shifters to modern-day Earth. They don’t live on our planet, but they have recently started to revisit.
Lords of the Var
Captured by a Dragon-Shifter
is a modern-day prequel series to those first books. They take place long before the princes you know and love ever found their mates, long before
The Dragon’s Queen
, in a time when the dragon-shifters and cat-shifters actually—wait for it—
each other and hung out as friends. They also don’t have Galaxy Brides to bring them women. There’s no one left to marry on the planet and things are starting to get desperate.
uthor recommends reading
series installments in order of release for the simple fact she likes hiding little tidbits in the books as she goes and it’s more fun that way, though each book can be read as a standalone if you prefer.
wo years ago
Once a decision was made, it needed to remain made.
Dimosthenis had given this decision a lot of consideration. With his brother’s death, he was the only remaining son to carry on the family bloodline. Unfortunately, to do that, he needed to leave everything behind and travel to Earth.
A mate wasn’t easy to find on his planet of Qurilixen. He loved his home, the shadowed marshes where he grew up, the trees near the borderlands so thick they could have been walls, the mountains where he now stood on the precipice of his future. However, for as beautiful as it was, there was something darker beneath the surface, a curse.
The Draig people were dying. Not with disease or war, but because their population lacked females. With no women, there were no babies. He was part of an entire generation of dragon-shifter men who had no wives. Well, all but one—a prince. The royal family had opened the portal to Earth in order to find wives for themselves. They guarded it jealously and did not let commoners go through. He was sure they had their reasons, reasons that made sense to the rulers, but for the everyday man who spent lonely night after night without the comfort of a wife, it was particularly cruel. Dimosthenis deserved a chance to have a family, a wife, love.
He deserved a trip through the portal.
The porous black rocks of the cave held his future. He’d followed the human Princess Eve and her escort down the hidden stairwell from inside the palace, careful to stay out of sight, and now hid by the cave’s exterior exit for his chance to go in. All he had to do was step inside the darkness. He may never get another opportunity. There were those shifter factions who wanted to seal the portals forever, who didn’t think human women were the answer. They had plans to detonate the hidden chamber.
If he left, he could never come home.
If he stayed, he might never find a mate.
A soft purple glow lit the cave. They must have activated the portal. He crept forward to watch from the shadows. Dragons and cats were carved into the stone chamber, pointing away from the portal, a symbol of their exodus from Earth. The elders told campfire stories of the portal’s magic, of how it brought them from Earth, away from the persecution of human warlords. Had the humans changed? Or were the horror stories of hunting and slaughtering dragons still an Earth reality? Surely not every dragon and cat-shifter on Earth came through the portal, many yes, but there was no way of knowing how many chose to stay behind.
Fear filled him. There was no guarantee that love awaited him on the other side of the portal. In fact, it might only be death. Earth could be an ugly place. It could be filled with dragon-hating hunters. It could bring him nothing but loneliness and pain. Perhaps there was a reason the royals did not invite commoners through. Maybe he should listen to what the elders said, to the will of the gods as translated for him, and go home to wait for a blessing that may never come.
No. He had to try. He had left goodbye messages for his friends. The decision he made in this moment determined the rest of his life. To stay meant being alone forever, which was as good as deciding to die today. So there was no choice. He would jump into the unknown.
“Come on, Big Daddy, come on.” Lori Johnston hit the man’s stiff arm frantically. “I need you, Big Daddy.”
She took several breaths before lifting her camera to use the flash to illuminate the dusk settling over the surrounding area. She hit the shutter release several times, snapping pictures. When she looked at the digital display, a swamp full of glowing eyes stared at her, reflecting the harsh light. Scary eyes. Hungry eyes. Prehistoric alligator eyes. She turned her small penlight over the stagnant water and muddy shoreline, hoping it would reveal something the camera had not.
Help was not hiding in the Spanish moss.
Her hands shook violently, causing the beam of light to dance. The creatures were out there, beyond the airboat, floating like eerie logs in the swamp, just waiting for the right moment to lunge and eat them.
“Please. I don’t know what to do. I can’t be stranded in the swamp. I just can’t. I’m not made for this. Wake up, Big Daddy, why did you have to die on me?” Lori eyed the dead body on the flat bottom of the boat. Surely, someone would come looking for them? They’d been gone for hours. When they’d left the dock, everyone had waved to Big Daddy from the shoreline. Everyone. He was popular. People liked him. And why not? He looked like the Cajun version of Santa Claus and was probably just as old. They’d come looking for him when he didn’t make it home. Unless they assumed the swamp life was so ingrained in him that he didn’t need help right away.
Oh God. What if people thought she killed him? Or they blamed her? She was pretty sure horror movies were made about city slickers who became lost amongst the swamp folk. And if there weren’t such movies, there should be because she was scared as hell right now.
Who knew what they’d think when she told them Big Daddy had hit the accelerator and yelled, “Whoo doggie!” before slumping over in his airboat captain’s chair. She had screamed as the boat bounced. Maybe her scream had done it? No, no, that was ridiculous. Her scream hadn’t given him a heart attack. Big Daddy was old. They knew he was old. She was giving in to unrealistic fears when she should be focusing on the hungry problems right in front of her.
The airboat had run aground on a mud bank. She knew this because her shoe was also stuck in the mud. When she’d tried going for help, she’d sunk knee deep into the muck. The illusion of shore was a trap—a muddy, muddy quicksand of a trap. Even if she did make it to shore, she had no idea which way to go.
Lori slapped a mosquito on her neck. If the alligators didn’t eat her first, the giant bugs would.
She shone the penlight over the water and counted the eyes. “One, two, three, four, six, eight…”
Was it her imagination, or were the alligators multiplying exponentially in number?
If her situation weren’t so dire, it would be laughable. In the age of satellites and cell phones, she was in the middle of a swamp with no hope of salvation. She’d left her cell phone behind at the inn she was staying at. There was a device in her camera bag that synced her cell phone service to her camera so she could use GPS tracking while on shoots, but there was no way to make a call. For some reason, she’d thought disconnecting from the technical world today would be a great idea.
“Unplug. Unwind. Great idea,” she whispered sarcastically. “Connect with nature by dying on an airboat in the middle of the swamp and spend eternity as alligator poop. Circle of life.”
She’d paid for a dusk bayou tour hoping to get a few sunset photos for her travel article, so the last threads of daylight were fast fading into darkness. A loud splash sounded, and she turned her light toward the bald cypress trees growing out of the water. She held her breath, listening for movement. Another splash sounded. “Hello? Is someone there?”
Maybe it was the swamp monster the inn manager had joked about. The Bayou Lizard Man she’d called him. Apparently, there had been recent sightings. He was going to receive an honorable mention in Lori’s article as a glimpse of local color.
More splashes sounded. She moved her tiny beam of light over the water. The eyes were disappearing. Water rippled where the alligators submerged. Lori climbed onto the driver’s seat and pulled her knees against her chest. She turned the penlight off, worried that it might run out of batteries when she really needed it. Moonlight gave very little relief to the tree-cast shadows.
Humidity was high, causing her shirt to stick to her skin. The late summer heat was made all the more oppressive by the lack of a breeze. It sapped her energy and made it hard to concentrate. The bottle of warm water was half empty but, without knowing how long she’d be out there, she had to ration it.
Lori closed her eyes and hugged the penlight and camera to her chest. All she had to do was wait a few hours until dawn.
Suddenly, the boat shifted. A figured moved in the shadows near Big Daddy. Lori bit back her scream as she reached for her camera to rapid fire her flash. The strobe-like beam illuminated the end of the boat. She expected to see an alligator pulling the body into the water. Instead, she found a man crouching over Big Daddy’s corpse. She fumbled for the penlight and dropped her camera. She shone the small beam in the man’s direction.
The relief was short lived as the man turned his attention toward her. Yellow, reptilian eyes found hers. Dark brown skin glistened with moisture as if he’d just slithered up from the water. Taloned fingers touched Big Daddy’s face.
“Li-li-li-li…” she whispered.
“What happened?” His hoarse voice jolted her to her senses. The light trembled, but she got the impression of fangs in his mouth.
“Li-li-lizard man,” she said. “Lizard alligator man. Alli-alli-alli…”
“You are learning to speak?” The alligator man stood as if to come to her. All she saw was talons and fangs.
Lori didn’t think. She jumped off the boat into the mud, holding the penlight tightly. Her feet instantly sank. A hissing noise made her more frantic to get away, but the more she struggled, the more the mud pulled her down.
“Cursed female, what…” The reptile man’s harsh words were lost as he leaped after her.
A rumbling growl came from the other direction. She was trapped. A prehistoric head snapped at her. Lori tried to cover her face in defense when the alligator lunged at her.
The reptile man slid forward over the mud, jamming his arm right into the alligator’s mouth. They struggled, alligator man and the beast, rolling over the moist earth in a fierce battle before falling into the water. Lori used every ounce of strength to pull herself back toward the boat. The mud claimed her last shoe and weighed down the cotton material of her skirt, making it hard to maneuver. Without thinking, she dropped the penlight over the boat’s edge, pushed the skirt off her waist and left it behind as she crawled out of the mud into the boat.
Lori scrambled to pick up the penlight. In her haste, she moved too quickly and hit her head on the metal frame. She held her temple. A splash sounded in the water, and she swung around to see what was happening. Her judgment was off in the dark, and she smacked face-first into the airboat chair.