Authors: Coreene Callahan
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Text copyright © 2012 by Coreene Callahan
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Montlake Romance
P.O. Box 400818
Las Vegas, NV 89140
To my beautiful girls.
My thanks to the amazingly talented people at Amazon Publishing for all their hard work and support, especially my wonderful editor, Eleni Caminis, whose insights never cease to amaze me. And also to Jessica Poore and Nikki Sprinkle. Working with each of you is pure delight.
To Alain: thank you. You are the absolute best!
To Kallie Lane—friend, fellow writer, and critique partner extraordinaire. Thank you for all the breakfast brainstorming sessions, late-night phone calls, and encouragement. I would be lost with you.
As always, a huge thanks to Christine Witthohn, literary agent, friend, and teammate. You rock, sister!
Mom and Dad, I love you. Thank you for everything, but mostly for just being you.
And last but not least, a heartfelt thank you to my readers for falling in love with the Nightfury Dragon Warriors as much as I have and sharing your enthusiasm with me. I love hearing from you and enjoy fielding your questions, even when I can’t answer them for fear of giving too much away!
I raise a glass to all of you!
Table of Contents
The globes swayed, bobbing like jellyfish against the cavern’s ceiling as Rikar flew beneath them. White scales gleamed in the low light, throwing starbursts of iridescent color across stalagmites and uneven stone walls. He didn’t notice the rainbow. Didn’t hear his claws scrape granite or the water rolling off his wing tips go splat on the landing zone’s floor. His focus was absolute. Only one thing mattered.
He was going to kill the male. Open him up like a can of sardines. All while making him sing like a canary.
Lucky for him, he didn’t have far to go.
The rogue was chained seven stories beneath Black Diamond, the home Rikar shared with the other Nightfury dragons. That the enemy was within easy reach should’ve pleased him. But nothing could bliss him out tonight. The battle—the retrieve and retreat routine—had FUBAR written all over it. Yeah, a total catastrophe from beginning to end. The only good thing about it? Bastian had his female back, had pulled her from enemy claws in the nick of time.
He should be happy about that. Throwing high fives with his fellow warriors and yakking it up, reliving the action over tequila shots and lime wedges. But, that was a definite no-can-do. Not tonight. Not when another female was missing.
Wishful fucking thinking.
Rikar’s stomach fisted up hard. The Razorbacks had taken her. He knew it like he was standing there, four paws planted on stone, horns on his head tingling, anguish pumping through his veins with every beat of his heart. Now she was in the hands of his enemy, at the mercy of Ivar, leader of the rogues.
With a growl, he tucked his wings and stepped over the beat-to-shit Honda in the middle of the LZ, trying not to think about what the bastards were doing to her. But God help him, he couldn’t turn his brain off. Couldn’t breathe without his imagination firing up, planting terrible images in his mind’s eye.
Christ, he needed to get her back. Had to locate the Razorback lair and pull her free before…
Rikar swallowed the burn at the back of his throat. What a total mind-fuck. The need. The obsession. The pain.
He’d only met the female once. Had spent a couple of hours getting his ass kicked by her in a friendly game of pool. Okay, so he was lying. He’d done a little more than that. But he refused to think about the feeding or how good she tasted. Rikar shook his head, and water flew as he tried to forget. His behavior. Her acceptance. The fact his frosty side wanted more, another go-round with a female that drew pure power from the Meridian. From the energy source that fed Dragonkind.
Which made him…what? A sicko? A male without honor or conscience? Yeah, without a doubt. The female he didn’t want to remember, but couldn’t forget, was missing. Was probably in hell right now, suffering at the hands of a Razorback, and what was he doing? Dreaming of her in ways he shouldn’t be.
Angela Keen. She of the gorgeous energy and hazel eyes. God, he wanted her back. He wanted her safe. He wanted the clock to spin in the opposite direction and undo the last three hours. Maybe then he could’ve prevented his enemies from taking her at all.
Her name whispered through his mind. A shiver rolled through him, rattling the spikes along his spine as he pictured her face. With a violent swipe, he tried to erase it like their resident computer genius deleted info from computer hard drives. But memory was a tricky thing: hard to control, impossible to ignore. And as the power of recall got busy planting images inside his head, Rikar accepted the truth. He wished he’d stayed with her that night, taken all she offered and given more in return.
Which was just plain wrong. In every way that mattered.
Wind rushed in from the tunnel mouth, kicking up dust and the smell of damp earth. A second later, green scales flashed in his periphery. Rikar shifted, moving from dragon to human, getting out of Venom’s way as the big male set down. Poised on his back paws, his buddy wing-flapped, sending water flying and air rushing, making the light globes bump into their neighbors seventy-five feet above their heads.
Rikar conjured his clothes. Leather settled against his skin, feeling like home as he stomped his foot into his boot and headed for the entrance into the lair. He glanced over his shoulder at his friend. “You coming?”
“Hell, yeah.” Scales undulating over thick muscle, Venom indulged in another total body shake. Man, with a move like that, the male looked more like a dog than a dragon. “No way I’m missing the show.”
. Right. More like a beat down with death as the endgame.
Under normal circumstances, it would’ve bothered him that Venom knew what he was thinking. Not tonight. Rikar didn’t give a shit. Transparency was the least of his problems. A female was involved. So, yeah. The Razorback would hurt until he gave up the goods. End of story.
Upon approach, the cave wall rippled. As the magical doorway glimmered in the low light, Rikar breathed deep, preparing for the electrostatic jolt, then stepped through what had been solid rock moments before. The hair on the nape of his neck rose, reacting to the spell that surrounded Black Diamond and hid their lair from outsiders…human and Dragonkind alike. His boots connected with smooth concrete on the other side of the portal. Thank Christ. The inside of the lair smelled a whole lot better than the cave, like pine floor cleaner, fresh air and…
He closed his eyes, taking a moment to center himself. A second was all he needed. As the aftershocks of the magical doorway faded, he strode up the slight incline of the double-wide corridor, following the round lights embedded in the concrete floor. The only source of illumination, the runway took him past the medical clinic. He glanced through the sliding glass doors as he passed, looking for his commander. Empty. Not a soul in sight: nothing but an examination table, state-of-the-art equipment, and a shitload of silence.
Rikar shook his head. It made sense. No matter the scrapes and bruises, B was no doubt with his female: holding her, soothing her, making love to her. All life-affirming activities, ones his best friend no doubt craved after what had gone down in the Port of Seattle.
A strange sensation settled in the center of Rikar’s chest. His heart hurt as it sank deep and poked around, stirring up all kinds of debris.
Rikar frowned. What the hell was that? Jealousy?
Nah, couldn’t be. He was happy for his friend…really. A male of worth like Bastian deserved the best. And Myst? Man, she was exactly what his commander needed. Still, the awful feeling pressed in, twisting him up tight. He upped his pace, refusing to acknowledge it, not wanting to believe he envied his best friend.
Bypassing twin elevators and the gym, he heard Venom move in behind him. The sound of their footfalls became one, echoing together, two males moving in unison toward one purpose. Answers. Rikar wanted them. And like the upstanding male that he was, Venom would back him up.
Good thing too. The next hour would get messy…in more ways than one.
A steady hum hung in the stale air, the sound’s a soft accompaniment to the elevator’s rapid descent. Smooth and uninterrupted, a ride in the Otis would’ve been perfection any other time. But not now. Not tonight. Never again. Angela Keen would forever equate the small, steel box with a cage…
And boatloads of pain.
Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to forget the last few hours. Nothing good lay in those memories. Minutes or hours ago, it didn’t matter. The past needed to stay where she’d put it, locked in a box at the back of her brain.
Along with her fear.
But panic had her by the throat, making it hard to breathe. She forced air into her lungs, rebelling against captivity…against fate. And God. Anyone who would listen as she twisted her hands, searching for a weakness in the flex-cuffs. It was a no-go. There wasn’t any give. No defects in the plastic. No fault in the way they’d been used.
And she should know. How many times had she cuffed perps just like this on the job? A hundred times? Two hundred…a thousand?
Man, what a joke. A helpless homicide detective.
All that training—the martial arts classes, shooting qualifications, and survival courses—and for what? To find herself out-muscled and trapped. Nothing but a POW in a war she hadn’t known existed until just hours ago.
Dragonkind. Holy hell, who would’ve guessed?
Not her. Not the rest of the planet either. As far as she knew, the human race was oblivious that monsters with claws and scales lived among them.
She swallowed, fighting the pitch and roll of her stomach, wishing she’d been spared the knowledge. But the truth had a bad attitude. Getting in her face. Hitting her with another dose of reality as the guy holding her prisoner nudged her from behind. She shuffled sideways—paper slippers sliding on her feet, hospital johnny brushing her knees—desperate for more distance between her and the guard at her back.