Last Immortal Dragon: Dragon Shifter Romance (10 page)

BOOK: Last Immortal Dragon: Dragon Shifter Romance
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Chapter Eleven

 

Damon traced the Blackwing crest on Clara’s shoulder blade as softly as he was able with his fingertip.

His Clara was fast asleep in his lair. God, he’d never seen anything more beautiful. Wild, red hair curled in waves over the pillow under her cheek. Her full lips were swollen from his kisses. Her skin flushed from the heat he radiated. Her freckles stark against her fair skin, creating constellations more beautiful than the night sky. Those delicately arched ruddy eyebrows that told him every emotion she experienced.

His stunning mate didn’t know it yet, but she’d wrecked him for eternity.

The first time he’d brought her into his bedroom, he’d been so scared she would find it cold, just like him, but she hadn’t. She’d accepted it, just as she’d accepted him in ways that had slashed him open so wide, he would never be able to completely tuck away his emotions again.

What had she done to him, this siren? She’d bewitched him completely. She’d dispelled his fears long enough to curl into his softened heart and beg him to keep her safe and warm there, and now for the rest of her life, he would love her without abandon. It was too late for anything else. Too late to hide from her or keep his walls up. Clara had laughed at the barriers he’d erected around himself and destroyed them with a single kiss.

Some mighty dragon he was, instantly falling to pieces for the fair maiden.

Clara smiled in her sleep as he ran his finger down the ridges of her spine to the swell of her hip. He’d been with many, but none had touched what he’d just experienced with Clara. She’d been so open with him, so vulnerable, when he’d made love to her. He knew what she was. Deep down inside where she tucked the fiery grizzly that wasn’t afraid of anything, she was a warrior. But with him, she let her guard down. She invited him to see the pieces of herself she’d hidden away to protect herself from the world. Against all reason, she
trusted
him. He could see it in her eyes when she’d slowed their rhythm, intertwined his fingers with hers and lifted her chin to look into his eyes as they moved toward release together.

He’d never believed in magic. A legendary shifter like him knew the truth. People looked to creatures like him to believe in something more than the black and white, but for him…there was no magic. He’d hatched and was raised in a rocky cave by his father. He blew fire because he could make gasses in his lungs when he was angry, and he’d honed the use of his firestarter. He could eat ash because that’s what his animal required, and he could live forever simply because that was his chemical make-up. He was a prehistoric monster that had refused to go extinct with the rest of its kind.

No, he’d never believed in magic, but when Clara had looked up into his eyes as they’d finished with those tears of happiness streaming down the sides of her face, his way of thinking had shifted. When he’d felt that blinding sensation as the bond strengthened between them and had experienced the feeling of utter belonging with her, when he could see the make-up of her soul because his had suddenly awoken after so long being dead, for that instant, magic had existed.

He was going to love her every second for the rest of her life. And when she went gray, and her beauty faded in her own eyes, she would only become lovelier to him because he would know her time on earth was fading and his time with her even more precious.

And when she, his tragically mortal Clara, passed to the next world, he would spend eternity paying homage to her with his heart.

She would be his last mate.

She would be the only one who was real.

She would be everything.

Chapter Twelve

 

The ink of Clara’s tattoo moved and morphed until the ring of fire dissolved into the tiny black dragon, and the little creature moved as if the drawing was twitching to life just under her skin. Her gasp echoed loud at first, then grew softer. The drip drip of the cave wall was constant, but she couldn’t see anything other than the tiny dragon who reached forward and stretched its miniature claws. There was a prickle of pain, as if the nails were needles in her flesh. Slowly, the dragon dragged itself across her skin to the tip of her collarbone, then over the slight swell of her bicep. Clara froze in fear as it circled her arm in the blink of an eye, then slowed again. It’s tiny tongue flicked out of its mouth, scenting her skin, or perhaps tasting it. She wanted to rip it from her body. She wanted to claw and slash until the ink was gone, but she was helpless to move as it turned its spiked head toward her. The scent of smoke filled her nostrils, and the flash of a man’s face ricocheted off her mind.

His skin was gruesome and gray, sagging as if he’d been left in the desert to dry out and die in the sun. His eyes were black and soulless, and the smile that twisted his lips was so terrifying, her gasp echoed again, though she wasn’t breathing now.

“You can’t hide from me, seer.” His dry, cracked lips moved a moment too late to match his words.

This wasn’t real. Wake up!

His face faded to reveal the dragon tattoo again, poised over the middle of her forearm.

The man’s hollow voice whispered out, “We’re bound, you and I.”

And then the little tattooed dragon dove into the tender center of her arm. Black tendrils of ink unfurled from where it had disappeared, the darkness snaking up her arm like poison polluted streams. Pain grew brighter and harsher as the rivers of black stretched up her neck and through her chest. And just where the dragon had disappeared, in the darkest part of her body now, her skin turned to stone and cracked with the deafening sound of fault lines shifting.

Terror clogged her throat as her arm began to turn to ash, and she screamed the only name she wanted on her lips at the end. “Damon!”

 

Clara sat up with his name clawing its way out of her throat, and Damon was there on the bed beside her. A lantern was lit on the wall, casting a flickering candlelight glow across the worry etched into the sharp angles of his face. He had her forearm turned over in his hand, his fingertips digging deeply into her arm where he gripped it. Underneath her skin was a tiny, green light.

Damon reached behind him and pulled something from the bedside table drawer as she panted and tried to make sense of the horrifying green glow.

“Don’t look,” he demanded.

But she couldn’t take her eyes from the light glowing beneath her skin. The flick of a knife blade was loud and clashed against the gentle dripping of the cave wall behind them. Before she had time to jerk away, he cut a skilled slit into her arm and dug something out of her arm.

Pain registered an instant later, but he already had the thing in his palm and was rushing away from her.

“Fuck!” he yelled, hunching into himself and flinging his hand. Something thick and sticky lobbed from his fingertips and made a splat sound against the stone floor.

Clara gasped out, “Oh, my gosh,” as the spatters of liquid caught fire around the edges and burned through the stone until she couldn’t see them anymore.

Damon clutched his hand to his middle and snarled out a pained sound.

Clara bolted for him. “Let me see it.”

“No,” he growled, shaking his head hard. “It’s best if you don’t.”

“Let me see it, Damon!”

Damon’s shoulders heaved with his panting breath as he stared at her, but at last, he slowly unclenched his fist from his middle and exposed his palm. Clara’s heart sank to her toes, and her eyes burned with tears. “Oh, love.”

His skin was mangled and raw. There wasn’t any blood to get in the way of his exposed meat, as if the gel in that capsule had burned him so quickly, it had cauterized his veins. There was no skin left to cover his exposed musculature.

Where he’d cut that thing out of her arm, she was already healing and the blood easily wiped away, but Damon’s hand was repairing itself much slower, just along the edges of the injury. The pain must be excruciating.

“You saved me from that…that…what was that? How did it get in my arm?”

Damon blinked slowly, and the change in his eyes was instant. Shock turned to dark comprehension. “It was put in there a long time ago, Clara, when you weren’t paying attention or perhaps when you weren’t conscious.”

“By who?”

“By someone who’d planned your death for a very long time. By someone who has planned my torture accordingly.”

“I don’t understand. Is it acid? Why would anyone want to kill me?”

“It’s not acid, no.” He looked down at his ruined hand and sighed. “This is the work of the chemical equivalent of dragon’s fire. Impossible to make unless you have the real thing on hand to start with.”

“Damon,” she whispered brokenly. “What’s happening?”

Damon dragged his blazing, inhuman gaze to hers. “I’m not the last immortal dragon after all.”

Clara couldn’t catch her breath. It felt as if someone was standing on her chest, forcing all the air from her. “Marcus,” she whispered. “My dream. Black eyes, skin sloughed off. Not like your scars. Worse. He said I can’t hide from him.” God, why couldn’t she breathe? That capsule of dragon’s fire had been meant for her. Meant to kill her, but Damon had taken the pain out of her and onto himself to protect her.

Tears streamed down her face as he clenched his hand and hid the injury from her again. More protection. She snatched the robe from the end of the bed. “I’m going to get help.”

“Clara, there’s nothing anyone can do.”

“I’ll be back,” she called behind her as she bolted across the cold stones toward the door, pulling the soft robe around her shoulders as she ran.

She couldn’t just stand there while her mate’s body tried to repair itself from something so horrific. She couldn’t just watch the pain in his eyes and not try to help. She loved him. Damon’s pain was her pain.

Mason would know what to do.

Her robe flapped around her legs as she sprinted down the hallway toward the stairwell. There was an elevator that would take her to Mason’s wing on the next floor, but damned if she was going to wait as the small cage carried her slowly upward. No, right now, she needed to run. She took the curving stairs two at a time, heart pounding as she screamed, “Mason!”

Reaching for the double door handles of his bedroom, she screamed at the same moment he flung open the door, dark hair disheveled and nothing but a pair of navy plaid boxers clinging to his hips. “What’s happened?”

“It’s Damon! He—”

“Where?” he demanded.

“His bedroom.”

Mason pushed past her and flew down the stairs so fast she struggled to keep up. “I had a dream about something awful in my arm, and when I woke up, my arm was glowing.”

“Glowing?”

“Yeah, glowing green. It was a capsule of something that had turned on. It was like it was preparing to detonate. Damon cut it out of my arm, but it ruptured in his hand, and he said it was like dragon’s fire.”

“How’d it get in your arm, Clara?” he called over his shoulder as he jumped over the last three stairs and ran toward Damon’s room.

“I don’t know.”

Mason spun and gripped her shoulders so hard, she swore his fingers hit bone. “Who the fuck put it in you?”

“Marcus,” she said on a breath.

Mason yanked his hands away as if she’d burned him. “What?”

Now the tears were back, blurring her vision as she rushed out, “Mason, I don’t know how he put it in my arm. I don’t remember it ever hurting or—”

“Swear to me you didn’t do this, Clara. Swear it!”

“I swear I had nothing to do with hurting him, Mason! I never would! I love him! I love him more than my own fucking life. He’s the air—” Her voice cracked, so she swallowed hard and continued in a ragged whisper. “He’s the air I breathe. I don’t know how Marcus did it. I have no memory of it.”

A long, low rumble sounded from the other side of Damon’s bedroom doors, and Mason gave her one last questioning look before his gaze fell to her bare feet. He turned his head, exposing his neck. “I beg your apology. He’s my best friend.”

“I understand,” she said, her voice nothing more than a wisp of air with her throat so tight. “You care for him, too. You’re the first person I thought of when I wanted to get him help. Please help him.”

Mason nodded once and strode into Damon’s room. Clara followed.

Damon was sitting on the edge of his bed, hand clenched in his lap and a dangerous growl emanating from his chest. His eyes looked like swirling mercury, and his long pupils were so contracted, they were nothing but slivers of dark in all of that brilliant color. Her bear begged her to run from the power that emanated from him. Her skin prickled with the urge to defend herself, but Damon wasn’t posing any threat to her. He was sitting on the bed, his focus on Mason.

His lip twitched, and he tilted his chin upward as Mason approached with his head lowered and his gaze on the ground. “She’s forgiven me. I misspoke. Please, may I see it?”

Silence descended on the room for the span of three slow breaths, and then Damon nodded his head once and offered his palm, unfurling his fingers slowly from the mangled flesh. It was still open and raw. Skinless. The pain he’d shown her earlier was no longer there. He’d gone cold again, and his eyes hollow.

Clara looked away to save her insides from being shredded. The empty look didn’t belong on her warm dragon’s face.

Mason studied it carefully and murmured a curse. “I need to call Diem.”

“I’ll call her,” Clara rushed out, desperate for a way to help.

“Tell her what’s happened and ask if Danielle has anything made up for burns. And I need water and clean cloths. Lots of them.”

“Okay,” she huffed out, relieved for a job to do. After snatching her phone off the nightstand, she ran back down the hall toward the kitchen and dialed the number off the
it was so nice to meet
you
text Diem had sent her after they’d met.

“Hello?” Diem asked on the second ring. Sleep filled her voice.

“Diem, it’s Clara. It’s late, and I’m so sorry for calling you right now, but your father has been burned badly by dragon’s fire, and Mason said Danielle might have something made up for it.”

“Dragon’s fire? What do you mean? No, no time. Explain it to me when I get there. I’ll wake Danielle. If she doesn’t have anything made up, I’ll help her. I’ll text you on how long it will be. Clara?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you okay?”

“Yes.” Clara slowed and slammed her shoulder blades against the wall as a wave of emotion took her. “I almost wasn’t. Damon saved me. He protected me.”

Diem let off a stressed out sigh and said, “Clara, I’ll be there as soon as I can to help.”

“Thank you,” she squeaked out right before the call ended.

Thank God for Mason and Diem being so close. Clara was in over her head and had no idea what to do for Damon, but he’d built a family and friends around him who could help. With a sniffle, Clara wiped her damp lashes with her shaking knuckles and made her way into the kitchen. Supplies gathered, she bolted for Damon’s room as fast as the giant bowl of water allowed without sloshing out the sides. When she returned, Mason had been banished to a corner chair, and Damon was pacing in front of the window panels he’d opened. Outside, the starry sky stretched on forever. The forest in front of them was bathed in hues of purple under the half moon.

“I don’t understand why he’s waited all this time,” Mason murmured.

“Because he was waiting for her,” Damon gritted out, more growl than words. “He’s been waiting for Feyadine’s line to produce a doppelganger. And not just any doppelganger. There could have been tens of them, but I wasn’t interested. He could’ve put a kill switch in all of them for all we know. From birth! All he needed for me to do was to find her, so he could rip her away. And he almost succeeded!” he yelled in a booming voice. “I could’ve lost her!” Damon spun around, and his gaze collided with Clara’s. His voice dipped lower. “I could’ve lost you. If I wasn’t sleeping right beside you—”

“But you were, and I’m okay because of you.”

Damon shook his head, back and forth, back and forth, and something flashed through his eyes for just a moment before it was replaced by fury again. Fear?

“You don’t understand,” he whispered. “When I lose you, it will be the middle ages all over again. The earth will burn, and I won’t be able to stop myself. It’s the only way my dragon knows how to mourn.”

“Damon,” she said on a breath.

“Dangerous Clara,” he said. “You weren’t ever just a danger to me.” He gestured toward the open window with his good hand. “You were a danger to them as well. I’m not ready to lose you.” His dark eyebrow arched, and his voice turned to steel. “I won’t.”

She believed him.

Oh, Marcus was coming, and he was going to bring hell with him.

BOOK: Last Immortal Dragon: Dragon Shifter Romance
13.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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