Ruby Dragon (Awakened Dragons Book 3)

BOOK: Ruby Dragon (Awakened Dragons Book 3)
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Ruby Dragon
Terry Bolryrder

C
opyright
© 2016 by Terry Bolryrder

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

1


I
still can’t believe
you are ditching me,” Redmond Corinthian, the ruby dragon, muttered under his breath as he followed his “friends” into the animal shelter.

“Well, we’re making sure you have company, aren’t we?” Luc, the sapphire dragon, responded.

“Personally, I don’t care if he has company. But since you apparently have a heart where he’s concerned, I’m going with you on that,” Zach, the onyx dragon and their impromptu leader, said.

Red had no idea what Zach’s problem was. Sure, Red had tried to hit on his mate a couple times, and maybe they’d run into some of the same women back in medieval times, but as far as Red was concerned, it was all a good time. And that’s what life was about: having a good time.

As Red was accustomed to, the women working in the shelter looked up in awe as he approached. He gave them a smooth wink and saw one put a hand up over her heart. A pretty, curvy, older woman with dark skin. He gave her a light wave, and she seemed ready to faint.

“Patty?” Luc asked, waving a hand in front of her face. “Hello?”

She stood, shaking the front of her blouse as if to cool down. “Um. Yes. Can I help you?” But her eyes remained pinned on Red.

He smirked.

“Sexy powers. Most useless dragon power ever if you ask me,” Zach muttered under his breath as Luc began talking to Patty about looking for another pet.

Luc’s mate worked here some days and was passionate about animal adoption. Both the other dragons had also adopted animals. The oracle seemed to have gotten on board, saying interacting with pets seemed to help the dragons adjust and soften up.

But Red didn’t need to soften up. He already loved humans. Pretty much all of them. Especially how they could make him feel. He knew he was selfish, the result of always having been waited on hand and foot, but he also knew he had a great deal to give, and he could command a high price for that.

Well, not at the moment. The collar around his neck, fashioned into a thin gold chain at his request, was there until he could prove he could change his ways. The oracle had forbidden him from orgies, philandering, and, in general, being the selfish douchebag most people thought he was.

But he wasn’t
that
bad. Women just wanted him, and he acquiesced. Shouldn’t one share one’s gifts with the world?

“Are you available?” Patty blurted out as they walked to the cages in the back.

“Aren’t you dating someone?” Luc asked, raising an eyebrow.

Patty put up a hand. “Shut up. Are you?”

Red chuckled. “No. Not exactly.” He wasn’t supposed to engage with every female that propositioned him. The very opposite of available. “But if that changes, I could let you know.”

She shivered slightly and then sighed. “I don’t know where you men are coming from, but you’re giving us all heart attacks, showing up in this shelter all the time.”

Zach and Luc laughed at that, and Red cocked his head as they walked into the adoption area.

They paced along the rows, Patty discussing options, and then he heard a loud hiss, felt the air from it hit him, and turned to see an angry, puffy, orangey-brown cat with hair sticking in all directions, a squashed face, and one eye shut. The other eye was bright yellow, glaring at him.

He walked forward, putting out a hand. “Here, pretty kitty.” It hissed again, more violently, and Red cocked his head the other way. That was odd.

“That’s Pumpkin,” Patty said reluctantly. “We’re having trouble with her.”

“Yeah?” Luc asked. “Still aggressive?”

Patty nodded. “If we can’t help her be adoptable, we’ll have to put her down. You know we do everything we can to avoid that.”

“She was abused by a past owner, right?” Luc asked.

“We aren’t sure,” Patty said, folding her arms. “I mean, she did lose the eye, and she seems scared of humans. But if I had to guess, yeah, she was.” She eyed the crate where the cat was now hissing louder at Red, who walked closer.

As he reached up to touch the door, the cat yowled and scratched at the bars, and Red jumped back, a grin on his face.

He turned to Patty. “I want this one.”

She bit her lip. “I don’t think so,” she said. “I think you better pick someone else. Your pretty face is gonna get torn to ribbons by her.”

All the better that he had dragon healing abilities, even with his collar on. “I don’t think so,” he said. “I’ve never met a female I couldn’t please.”

Luc averted his eyes, and Zach groaned and threw his hands up at how sexual that sounded.

“It’ll keep him busy,” Luc said. “He’s supposed to learn to control himself.”

“Can you give us a minute, Patty?” Zach asked, running a hand through his shoulder-length dark hair.

“Sure,” she said. “Just let me know.” She walked out and shut the door behind her, leaving the room quiet except for the occasional hiss from Pumpkin.

“You do know making a pet happy is different than pleasing a woman,” Luc said, folding his arms.

“I do,” Red said. “I still think I’m up for the job. Besides, she’s entertaining.”

Zach tortured his hair a little more and then sighed. “Ugh. I can’t believe we’re agreeing to this, but fine. Pumpkin it is. It’s your apartment.”

“I’m a dragon,” Red said. “What is this little thing going to do to me?”

* * *

F
aye Halliday was not
in the mood to deal with the new tenant’s noise issues after her long shift waitressing.

It was a hard enough job, with long hours on her feet, dealing with some of the worst examples of human nature, and she deserved at least a little peace and quiet at the end of her day.

Which she’d had, until the new neighbor moved in next door, sharing her apartment walls.

She’d only caught slight glimpses of him, talking to women on his threshold through his open door or literally running down the hall, women chasing behind. She knew he had odd hair that was such a dark reddish-brown as to almost be purple, and he was tall and extremely muscular. And well-dressed.

And women came to his apartment at all hours of the night, banging on the door.

But all of that, while being wildly annoying, was nothing compared to the incessant screeching, as if a cat were being murdered.

Though they were allowed to have animals in the apartment, there was a limit to what the rest of them should have to endure. These were small flats, with thin walls, and just because the residents didn’t have money to buy super-nice dwellings, it didn’t mean they should have to put up with literal caterwauling at all hours of the day.

Or maybe it wasn’t as bad as she was making it out to be. Maybe she was just tired and cranky. But whatever it was, she couldn’t take it another minute without saying something. She set down her purse, pressed her unruly blond curls back into her bun as well as she could, straightened her uniform over her ample breasts, and yanked open her door to march over and yell the jerk out.

A hiss and a shriek sounded, plus a masculine yell, and she rolled her eyes as she knocked hard on the door.

“One moment!” a deep voice called out.

She felt a shiver of attraction just at the sound of his voice and took a step back from the door, bracing herself. What if he
was
super hot like everyone said? Well, he shouldn’t expect to get away with everything just because he was.

But she was as vulnerable to good-looking men as everyone else, so she steeled herself silently for the confrontation.

And was totally shocked when he opened the door.

She forgot what she’d been planning to say. He wasn’t good-looking. He wasn’t just gorgeous, either. Or hot. No, it was like someone had created a recipe for liquid sex and poured it into a mold, and out stepped this exotic, tall, muscular man with the piercing, catlike green eyes and perfectly tanned skin.

“Can I help you?” he asked in a strained voice, and she looked up and noticed he had a cat wrapped around his head, its nails burrowed in on either side of his face. He was trying to smile politely, but the cat (if you could call the monstrous puff ball that) was clearly causing him pain.

She sighed and reached up to help him remove it. Surprisingly, the cat slinked easily into her arms, stepping down off him gingerly as if he were a pile of garbage.

At his offended look at the cat in her arms, she had to laugh.

His shock was genuine, his green eyes wide, and she noticed they were shaded by long, lush lashes. Because, of course, even his
eyelashes
had to be sexy.

She stroked the animal in her arms, who let out a grumpy meow and then rubbed its head over her arm. She took the invitation to scratch it, and the cat actually purred. She grinned at it and then at him. “Nice kitty.”

He folded his arms, and that striking, purplish hair shone in the light. It framed his face perfectly. Long, straight nose that was slightly tilted, high cheekbones, full, sculpted lips with a wicked dip at the top. “That’s so odd.”

“What do you mean?” she asked, still caressing the cat.

“I think you’re the first person who has called Pumpkin nice. She chases away everyone who comes by and is a general terror to me, even though all I want to do is love her.”

She raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean love her?”

“Pet her, cuddle her,” he said, looking disgruntled that his efforts had been rebuffed.

“Maybe she doesn’t want to be touched by you,” she suggested, stroking the cat slowly as if to mock him. Revenge for those sleepless nights he’d caused. “Anyway, if the cat is so difficult, why do you have her?”

“I adopted her,” he said, touching his forehead and examining the blood on his fingertips. “Damn.”

“And you couldn’t have chosen one that was more agreeable?” she asked.

“Well, she was going to be put down, and I arrogantly thought I could
fix
her. I was apparently wrong, not that I’ve given up yet.” His green eyes looked hopeful as they fixed on her. “Maybe I’ve found a solution to my problem.”

“Oh no,” she said, holding out Pumpkin. “I have no time for a cat. Can’t do it. No.”

“Even for a date?” he asked, giving her a smoldering half smile that probably worked on women who didn’t know how much bullshit a man that good-looking could bring.

“Especially not for that,” she said. “I’m busy. I have work, so sorry, it’s a no-go.”

He nodded, reaching for Pumpkin. She handed her into his arms, but she hissed, scratched him, and jumped off to go back into the apartment and hide somewhere.

He walked into the hall with her and shut the door behind him. He was wearing a white tee shirt that strained at his biceps and outlined his firm chest, plus dark jeans he wore low on his hips, which were trim and emphasized his powerful thighs and long, luscious legs.

Focus, Faye.

“I’m assuming you didn’t come over to talk about the cat, though,” he said, folding his arms, making the tanned muscles there ripple under his velvety skin.

She wet her lips, wondering how her throat was suddenly so dry. Then she remembered Braden and snapped herself out of it. “Actually, I did. The noise level is unacceptable. I can’t sleep, and with my work, I need to.”

He pressed his lips together. “Earplugs?” he suggested. “That’s what I do.”

Her jaw dropped. “Did you seriously suggest I have to wear earplugs to drown out the noise from
your
demon cat?”

He gave her a charming shrug, and she felt her blood heat. She’d dealt with this too much, and now the lack of sleep was beginning to show in her terrible temper.

She backed him up against his closed door.

“Look, mister. I know you’re used to getting away with everything. A wink here, a flirt there. Hell, you just offered me a date as
payment
. But not all women are going to just fall at your feet and give you whatever you want. Some of us know better.”

He studied her with narrowed eyes. “Is that so?”

“Yes,” she said, poking him in the chest and regretting it because he was so firm and warm. “So you are the one who needs to figure out what to do about your cat, because I need to be able to hear my alarm in the morning, and I’m
not
going to wear earplugs.”

He stared at her in dawning amusement. “One of you.”

“What?” she asked.

“You said, ‘some of us’ know better. Only one of you. You’re the only one to stand up to me like that.”

Ugh, that was annoying. “Well, good for you. Finally treated how you should be. How the rest of us are treated.”

“And how are you treated?” he asked, sounding genuinely curious.

“Like crap,” she said. “I’m a waitress.” She raised her hands, looking down at her uniform. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bed. So figure out your cat. Get some professional help. Whatever you have to do.” She glared at him, unaffected by his handsome smirk. “Or I’ll call animal control.”

The smirk was gone. “What is that?”

“Animal control?” she asked. “They pick up animals.”

“She’s mine,” he said, his face going hard. “They can’t.”

She sighed. He was right. She’d been trying to scare him, but animal control only picked up animals that weren’t where they were supposed to be. “I can also call the building superintendent.”

BOOK: Ruby Dragon (Awakened Dragons Book 3)
12.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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