Authors: Mina Carter
Paranormal Protection Agency: Book
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Copyright © 2014 by
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are fictitious or have been used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real in any way. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Blue Hedgehog Press
Helen Woodall, Nicole Hicks
Proof-read by Georgina DeBurca
Cover by Mina Carter
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Property of Mina Carter 2014
Some dragons had all the luck.
Tucking a strand of hair the wind had blown across his face behind one ear, Duke watched his brother helping a diminutive female—his new mate, Honor Croft—into a waiting cab.
Testament to the heavy shit that had just gone down, events that included a horde of Red Caps and a crazed warlock trying to kill the girl the PPA had been paid to protect, heavily armed guards surrounded the vehicle, watching everything around them closely. As a group, they breathed a sigh of relief when Baron slid into the vehicle next to his mate and shut the door. As experienced as all the guards were, they were still a little wary of the big dragon. They were around both brothers.
Duke paid them no mind, transferring his attention back to the new couple, just visible through the windows of the cab. His brother was one lucky bastard. Not only had he saved the day, but he’d gotten the girl as well.
Finding their soul mates had been on both brothers’ minds since they understood the difference between little girl and little boy dragons and now Baron had found his. He could hold her in his arms, keep her safe, and Duke was as jealous as all hell.
Of course, Baron would probably have appreciated not dying first. Duke sure as fuck would have preferred not to watch his brother breathe his last breath, broken body bleeding out onto the concrete beneath his feet. But true love conquered all…. That’s what they said, and the gamble Duke had taken when he’d made Honor eat the rarest ‘diamond’ in existence; a Dragon’s Tear.
It had worked, the lucky son of a bitch had been healed and now Baron and Honor were on their way to a safe-house where Honor could be protected. And practice making little baby shadow-dragons if the twinkle in Baron’s eye was anything to go by. Which left Duke to track down the murderous bastard who had tried to kill his brother’s mate, and find the she-dragon who had taunted and teased him until he didn’t know up from down.
mate. He’d been so surprised that he’d almost fallen out of the sky. Then she’d slapped him across the ass with her tail and run away….
Duke’s lips compressed into a thin line. Oh, she’d pay for that. He just had to find her first.
Crouching, he gathered the energy within himself, holding it deep inside as a rolling mass of chaos. It built, simmering like inferno-heated champagne as the bubbles tried to escape at high velocity. His scales tried to push through his skin, and his bones ached with the pressure of holding the change back. With a roar he leapt into the air and let it all go. His dragon-form exploded out from his body like some nightmare-inducing jack in the box.
The roar deepened as his throat changed, and he snapped his wings out to their full spread. A soft click sounded deep in his throat a second before a gout of flame lit the night sky. Beating his wings, he took no more than a few seconds to reach the top of the Croft building. He circled it, using the tiniest of air currents to glide in a graceful loop.
Guards scurried over the roof, looking like ants to his non-human vision. Heat rose from them, bringing the scent of blood and soft flesh to his nostrils. Instinctively his mouth watered. So soft and crunchy…most humanoids made great snacks.
As if sensing his thoughts, the guard on the corner turned and looked at him, his eyes flashing amber in warning as an earthy scent hit Duke’s nostrils. Werewolf then. Yeah, not so good if the snack was more than capable of clawing its way out of your belly through your ribcage. Talk about aggressive indigestion.
Movement at the corner of his eye got his attention. Turning his head, Duke spotted Iliona—his boss— motioning him to land. He lifted his wing and banked sharply in mid-air, scattering the guards below. Heavy wing-beats kept him hovering in the air just above the human woman, her arms folded and hair whipping about her face as she waited for him to land.
The instant he touched down with a claw, he called the change and folded his dragon-form neatly back within the man. A roll of his neck reset the shirt across his shoulders, his clothes thankfully reappearing when he made the change back to human, and he took the last few steps to stand in front the Paranormal Protection Agency’s head honcho.
As always, she wore a smart business suit. No skirt this time, but pants, and her jacket hung open. Two things caught Duke’s attention. The ornate pendant at her throat pulsed with power, pulling at the dragon part of him. Pretty and powerful, such a trinket was everything the creature loved and his fingers itched with the need to reach out and touch it. He resisted, curled them into fists at his side as he flicked a glance down at the Glock in the holster playing peekaboo through the open edges of her jacket. The fact that she packed heat to match the sheathed knife the other side made him blink. It was serious when the boss came out on site fully armed.
“Nice landing. So glad you didn’t squash me.” Iliona’s lips quirked, but the level stare from the big, silent guy behind her warned Duke what would have happened had it even
like the petite woman would get hurt.
Duke lifted an eyebrow and jerked his chin at the man behind her. It was Granite, one of her lovers. He didn’t look around for the other one, Calcite. If the Gargoyle brothers wanted him dead, he wouldn’t get any warning of an attack. Just swift, brutal, and bloody violence before he could shift and turn the tables on them. “With tall, stony, and silent in attendance? I doubt you’re allowed to get so much as a paper cut.”
She laughed, the sound rich and full, and turned to pat Gran’s arm. “Yeah, but it’s adorable, isn’t it?”
“If you say so.” Duke didn’t venture a further comment. No one in their right mind would refer to either of the stone brothers as adorable.
He looked around as a way of changing the subject. The rooftop appeared to be devoid of either Red Caps or that bastard warlock Sellers. All that remained of the drama that had taken place less than an hour ago was the altar in the center of the roof and a strange scorched spot right about where the little dragon’s cage had been. “What have we got here? Did we pick up any of them?”
“No.” Iliona shook her head, instantly back to business. “They’d gone before we got here.”
Her expression was less than impressed as the pair approached the altar. Duke scowled. Not the sort of thing the casual shopper could pick up at a local supermarket, it had obviously been custom-made. Just looking at the writing on the side hurt his eyes.
Instead, he concentrated on the scorch-mark, and frowned. Squatting down, he traced a fingertip over the faint swirls. The pattern had been scored right into the concrete and the pattern looked familiar.
“Looks like they used some sort of teleport spell….”
“Yeah,” Iliona agreed. “But not one we’re familiar with. Most don’t leave marks and these look like—”
“Burn marks.” Duke supplied and stood. “Dragon-fire. He had a dragonet, a small one. Not sure if it was a shifter or not. It was fully draconic. Never seen anything like it.”
“Duke Queenmaker, there’s a lot you haven’t seen yet.”
A new voice, male and with a resonance that rolled along Duke’s skin like treacle broke in. He turned, all his instincts on alert. Nothing human had a voice like that.
A man stood behind him. As tall as Duke, he was on the skinny side but the battered leather jacket, black t-shirt and jeans couldn’t hide the fact the guy was corded with the sort of lean muscle that didn’t need a gym to maintain. His dark hair was cut short, the top mussed into scruffy spikes and light eyes watched Duke with amusement.
“Duke, let me introduce Ris....” Iliona stepped forward as though to head off any trouble, her gargoyle shadow right behind her. “A new Seer to join us.”
Seer. Duke’s lip curled back into a sneer but before he could say anything, Ris spoke. “Decided whether to roast me yet?”
Duke shrugged, not fooled by the affable exterior. This guy was less human than Duke, but exactly what flavor of supernatural Duke didn’t know.
. “Depends. What did you call me?”
“What? Duke? Your name…remember?” He shot a glance at Iliona, as though sharing a joke, but Duke wasn’t playing.
“No.” He folded his arms. “The other part.”
“Queenmaker? But that’s your name too. Or did you take one hit too many to the head today?”
Duke growled, his patience already tested. “No, I don’t have another name. Just Duke. That’s it.”
“No, no. That’s not right. It’s definit—” Ris trailed off in confusion, his gaze drifting out of focus for a second. Duke gritted his teeth, recognizing the signs of a Seer delving into a different timeline. Then the Seer’s eyes crossed and he looked discomforted.
“Shit…yeah, sorry, Bud. It’s too early for that. I was so sure…. No harm done though, eh?” Ris held out his hand, an affable smile over his face. “Oraris, most call me Ris. Pleasure to meet’cha.”
Duke’s gaze shifted, looking behind Ris. Another Seer, a female, stood in the corner of the roof, animatedly talking to thin air. It was anyone’s guess who she spoke to, and when. He sighed. This was what pissed him off about Seers. Even when supposedly on a job, it was hard to keep their attention
the job in hand, rather than one from next month. It was enough to make him want to punch any Seer in the face.
Repeatedly. With a brick.
Ris though, didn’t appear to have the same issues as the rest of his kind. Duke transferred his attention back to the man in front of him. He’d snapped back to the present, as far as Duke could tell anyway. He’d focused on the future and then come back without any wandering through last week. Sharp. Focused. Professional. He took the guy’s hand and shook firmly. Perhaps he wouldn’t turn out so bad after all.
Ris grinned. “Glad you didn’t take the other option and punch me in the face. Bricks hurt.”
That startled a snort from Duke. “Come on, that had to have been a lucky guess.”
The man just shrugged. “Not really. Sometimes it’s all about
a little way into the future.” He nodded towards a small pile of bricks at the side of the roof. “And removing all possible weapons.”
“Right.” Iliona clapped her hands together, getting their attention. “Since we’ve made our introductions, and no one seems in imminent danger of punching anyone else, shall we look at the matter in hand?”
“Arrrgh! Fucking idiots!”
Chase swore, rattling off a curse dirty enough to make her former comrades on the Queen’s guard blush. Where the hell had those two come from? Two big-as-hell male dragons gate-crashing Sellers’ little ritual had
not been on her plan for today.
She’d been so close.
The ritual had just started but that hadn’t mattered. It had been close enough for her to almost
the structure of the spell Sellers planned to use. She’d only needed a few more seconds.... Then those damn dragons had burst into the party and shot the whole thing to the seventh hell.
Chase snarled and kicked at a pile of junk. Stalking through the abandoned drainage tunnels under the city she headed back to her ‘master’s’ lair.
What a freaking idiot. A bit of royal dragon blood and the cretin thought he was a dragon himself. A
of all bloody things. What a fucking joke. The best thing about it? He seemed to think it was something special, rather than the second-rate joke the spell had been conceived as in the first place. A ‘gift’ to some ancient king or other who wanted to feel as powerful as a Dragon-Mage. In other words, another fucking idiot. The world, present and past, was full of them.
Her lip curled and she stomped onward. She didn’t carry a torch, didn’t need to. A creature of darkness, she was Chase Nightborne, daughter of Nevaris Stormcaller, Seventh Level Warrior-Mage and the Queen’s Bodyguard, and the day she needed a torch to see in the dark was the day they laid her to rest.
She snorted to herself. Yeah, right. Bodyguard to a queen who had died centuries ago, she’d failed to protect the one thing she had been entrusted with. The Queen’s daughter.
Instead of waking to a new world full of promise that the royal child could grow up in without fear, Chase had woken to pain: a collar around her throat and the baby in a cage. Her companions, the other dragons entrusted along with her to protect the child were gone. Empty spaces or heaps of rubble were all that remained. Until she’d met the two males who had stopped Sellers she’d thought the two of them were the last of their kind.
Crouched by Baby’s cage, she’d been intent on the marks Sellers made in the witching, her body taut as she waited. Ready to leap into action as soon as she saw the key to his spells. Once she had the key, Sellers was done for. Even with his Dragos enchantment, and the control collar around her throat, he wasn’t powerful enough yet to stop her calling on the witching. She could undo everything he’d wrought with a few words, rip his throat out and save the woman Sellers planned to kill to cement his power. All in all, a good day’s work.
But the two dragons had shown up and all hell had broken loose. The Dragos had commanded her and she’d been forced to fight. Not with the full lethality she could bring to bear, but more than enough to satisfy Sellers that he still controlled her. She’d had to let one go because his mate, Sellers’ captive, fell. Without wings the woman was dead, and Chase couldn’t do that to another dragon, not even if it blew her cover to hell.