Authors: Julie Wetzel
Tags: #Romance Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Dragons, #Romance, #Sorcery, #Shifters, #Magic, #Science, #Fiction
For the Heart of Dragons
THIS book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the authors' imagination or are used factiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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For the Heart of Dragons
Copyright ©2015 Julie Wetzel
All rights reserved.
Cover Design by: Marya Heiman
Typography by: Courtney Nuckels
Editing by: Chelsea Brimmer
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To my Sister.
Although we don’t always get along.
I still love you.
Table of Contents
Glancing around the room, Noah tried to listen to the woman in front of him as she prattled on about the upcoming release from some new designer. Supposedly, the designer was making outfits dragons could shift in. It was an intriguing notion, but Noah didn’t see how it could work. There was too much of a size difference between a dragon’s three forms. No way could the same garment be used in all of them. He filed the information away for future investigation. It was always good to know about the new trends in the dragon world, although he—being human—would probably never wear them.
Taking a sip of the golden liquid in his champagne flute, Noah looked around at the crowd. He both loved and hated these events. A dragon gala brought out the cream of the crop in their finest, and tonight’s event was no different. Every dragon who was anyone had come out to celebrate the king’s birthday. Alongside the finely dressed men was an amazing array of beautiful women. There was everything from sophisticated evening gowns to barely there cocktail dresses, and Noah had a great view of them all. The drawback… He had to do it sober. It would have been so much better if the sparkling apple juice in his glass had been champagne, like the rest of the guests were drinking. But, then again, he wasn’t a guest. He had a job to do.
Speaking of jobs…
Noah turned his attention inward and traced the lines of power out, feeling the protections he’d helped install. The chateau the king had chosen for the party was naturally well protected. Thick hedges of holly bordered up against the iron fences that circled the property, making it hard to get onto the grounds uninvited. But with dragons coming up missing, the king wanted no chances taken with his party guests, so six of Eternity’s finest mages had gotten together and set up magical protections.
Noah had the honor of being one of those six. If honor was what you called the exhausting task. It had taken nearly twelve hours to set the magical circle that could be raised in an instant to keep out an attacking force. The circle also monitored anything of power that crossed it. The mages had spent the first part of the party watching the only gate into the grounds, vetting each source of magic that crossed the line, and there had been quite a few. Each dragon that entered raised a warning flag. That had been expected. What had not been expected was the number of magical items the guests had brought. Glamour spells had been everywhere. It seemed every young lady had some small trinket to enhance her beauty in some way or another. But even the slightest traces of magic had to be checked.
Just a few weeks ago, Daniel—the head of Eternity—had brought in a small medallion to be studied. Only a few of the top mages had even seen the item. Noah had been one of the few who had been able to touch and study it. The magic on the item was weak, but it did strange things. The few dragons who had touched the amulet complained that there was a distance between their human and dragon selves. Sometimes, the space would fade quickly. Other times, it would linger long enough to keep the dragon in question from shifting between forms for a while. Unfortunately, the spell faded away before they could determine exactly what it did.
As the only human mage in that select group, Noah had spent most of his time handling the necklace so the others could study it without being affected by its power. That led to some long hours in the lab. Thankfully, the medallion’s power only burned through some of the dye he had used to color his hair. His Irish red hair was kissed with the silver that marked him as a human who used heavy magic—a stigma he tried very hard to hide. Thankfully, he had found a place that accepted him and his talents.
“Are you listening to me?”
The voice of the young lady in front of him broke into Noah’s thoughts. For a moment, he had forgotten she was there.
“Yes.” He smiled at her warmly, trying to recall what she’d been rambling on about. “I can’t see how that’s going to change fashion trends,” he said, hoping she was still on the topic of the new garments and hadn’t moved on to something else while he’d been distracted.
“Oh, but it will!” She went on about some new type of material that was going to be used in next year’s line of gowns.
Noah let out a sigh of relief as he nodded at her encouragingly. The one-track mind of this debutante had saved him from a very awkward explanation. He was supposed to be blending in with the crowd, watching for hazards that may have slipped past the guards at the gate, not exposing the fact that he was security. He was also supposed to be circulating through the guests, but this young lady had latched on to him harder than most. Apparently, the silver in his hair had convinced her he was an older, distinguished gentleman. Well, that and the finely tailored tuxedo he was sporting. In truth, the lady was probably double his age. She was, after all, a dragon. They aged much slower than humans did. It was one of the few things Noah envied about dragons. That, and the whole fire-breathing, flying thing. There were very few people out there who didn’t envy the ability to shift into another form. But that was a thought for another time.
Looking up, Noah caught the eye of another of Eternity’s security guards circling the floor.
. Noah nodded his head slowly at the lady in front of him, and Demarco nodded back. There was an understanding between the men that if any of them should get caught in an unwanted position, another would come and help get them out. Noah was glad when the chocolate-skinned dragon stepped up beside the young woman.
“Pardon me, my lady.” Demarco flashed a wide smile when she turned to look at him. “I couldn’t help but notice your gown. Is that a Josephine Del Piña?”
“Why yes, it is!” The young girl beamed at him.
Noah covered his smile with the rim of his glass as he took a sip. It was just like Demarco to be up on the latest designers on the market. After all, the man had probably spent hours with the rest of the security detail studying how one could hide weapons in designer gowns.
As Demarco drew the woman into a conversation on the pros and cons of metal-boned corsets, Noah slipped away unnoticed. He let out a sigh of relief and disappeared into the crowd. Most of the time, he could get his job done while using one of the young ladies in the group as cover. The goal was to find one that was slightly self-centered or flighty. Once he got her going, he would nod mindlessly at her words while searching the crowd for danger. Then, once he was done, he would excuse himself and move on to another area. But every now and then, he would get one that noticed when he zoned out to do his job. Like the woman he’d just escaped.
Looking around, Noah found a passing waiter and set his unfinished glass of juice on the waiter’s tray. The sparkling liquid wasn’t sitting well in his stomach. Besides, there were more important things to do than pretend to be a guest. Finding an empty space near one of the stone columns, Noah leaned against the marble support and closed his eyes. He relaxed his mind and whispered the spell he needed to search the room.
Colors burst inside his head as he reached out into the astral plain. Auras of the people surrounding him washed over him for a second before he came to grips with the change in his perspective. Even though it took him a moment to get used to this view, he loved it. The colors of people’s auras were just as amazing as the fancy gowns the ladies wore. But they told a lot more about the intent of the wearer than their finery. Reds and golds of happy people swirled around him as he relaxed against the pole. A hint of blues and greens from the bored guests speckled the group. Two pools of intense purple shone brightly.
Noah cracked open his eyes and searched for the owners of the auras. Intense colors usually showed someone with a purpose. The first belonged to a young woman. Her eyes were locked on a young man. It was clear she was trying to work up the courage to talk to him. That, he could ignore. The second was from a pair of men deep in what seemed like a passionate conversation. It was probably some business deal going down, but there was no harm in checking.
Glancing around, he found what he was looking for—an Eternity agent watching him. This was a very common thing at these parties. It was, after all, his job to search for threats. He almost never intervened in them, however. Nodding to the security guard, he glanced at the men in question. It wasn’t hard to point out the pair. The men’s passionate conversation was growing rather heated. The agent nodded and went off to defuse the situation before it exploded.
Drawing in a soothing breath, Noah closed his eyes and searched the room again. He couldn’t afford to miss anything important. A soft aura of green washed up along his side, drawing his attention. Opening his eyes, Noah looked at the man who had settled against the column next to him. A smile curled the corner of Noah’s mouth as he recognized the man. “Hello, Laurence.”
“Finding anything interesting?” Laurence asked as he looked down into his glass of sparkling apple juice.
Noah straightened up as a full smile graced his lips. Laurence was Noah’s partner in crime. Daniel usually always paired them together when they were sent out on missions. Laurence was taller than Noah by nearly a full head, and that was saying something since Noah was every bit of six feet tall. Laurence was also built like a tree—stout and round, but without an ounce of fat on him. Noah, on the other hand, was long and lean with broad shoulders. During their very first mission together, they had come to an agreement. Noah would stay out of the actual action and chuck spells from the sidelines while Laurence pummeled the crap out of whatever Noah took down. It was an arrangement that had worked well for both of them over the years.
“Nothing too interesting.”
Laurence made a disappointed noise in his throat. “Well, you had better not stand here for too much longer. You looked like you were ready to fall asleep.” There was a touch of humor in the warning. “You don’t want that getting back to the boss.”
Noah chuckled and stood up fully. “You’re right.” He released the spell and blinked the last traces of it away. “Heaven forbid Daniel think I was napping on the job.” Amusement colored his words.