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SavedDragon

BOOK: SavedDragon
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Saved by the Dragon

By Vivienne Savage

 

All material contained herein is Copyright © Vivienne Savage
2015. All rights reserved.

ISBN PENDING

***

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your preferred ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

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Chapter 1

 

Thunder cracked overhead, a grim herald of what was to come. Barely a minute later, the sky seemed to split open and unleash a torrent of freezing cold rain. And Chloe Ellis was caught without her umbrella, clutching a rocky wall nearly a hundred feet off the ground.

Shit!

She hadn’t anticipated the weatherman’s predicted 20% chance of rain would come with a furious thunderstorm. Within an hour of her climb, dark clouds had swept over the topaz blue skies and eclipsed the sun. Lightning flashed in the distance.

“Well damn, what do I do now?” She wedged her body into the crack leading toward the high summit, hoping to escape the brunt of the wind and rain.

Of the three options available to her, none held any appeal. She could stay hanging where she was and hope the rain passed soon, attempt to make her way down, or keep pressing for the cliffs.

Wiping water from her face, she gazed around for an alternative. The fissure in the rock face widened several feet above her, so she made her way up and breathed a quiet prayer of thanks for the small ledge at the top. It was a place to rest safely and wait out the storm.

The narrow shelf extended farther than she’d thought at first glance. Chloe wriggled back into the crawlspace to get out of the rain. Loose grit shifted beneath her hands, skittered down a dark passage. She fetched a flashlight from her backpack and eased down the crumbling slope. Water ran in narrow rivulets from the mountain shelf behind her, plastering her hair to the back of her neck.

Should have brought Freddy with me,
she thought.
Now, I’m here alone, and hiding from the rain.

Freddy, her on-again off-again boyfriend, had practically begged to come along on this trip. He wanted to work things out; promised he’d be a changed man. They could camp and make love under the stars. Of course, he was only the most recent train wreck in a chain of failed romances.

Before Freddy, she had dated Malcolm; the hottie at the law firm where she practiced her paralegal work. Dating him had been a dream. He had a sweet personality, a stable income as a lawyer, and he seemed to love her dearly…. Until she returned a day ahead of schedule from a visit to care for her ailing father.

Chloe had walked into their shared home to discover Malcolm urging his weekend lay to hide in the closet.

Four years. She swept it all down the drain that day and refused to hear out his ridiculous excuses about becoming too drunk to say no. How he’d come out to drink with pals, who later wouldn’t excuse his behavior and ratted him out because they’d warned him not to do it. Three of them broke the bro code in an effort to step in for their friend.

So she went against her better judgment and began to date Freddy; Malcolm’s physical trainer, and a man with a body like an Olympian. The sex was great, and the way he treated her was even better.

Or so it had seemed.

Their first fight came four months into the relationship when his jealous persona arose. He didn’t want her to have male friends because it wasn’t appropriate, and no man merely wanted to be her friend. They’d want to fuck her too. They had another fight in the days prior to her little decision to go away for a weekend alone.

What made me think I could do this alone without him? It was foolish, dumb, and dangerous,
Chloe thought.
Freddy knew what he was doing on the mountain peaks. They’d bonded over a mutual lust for the outdoors during the initial stages of their dating. It wouldn’t have been the first time they went away for a weekend in the wilderness.

The pebbles beneath her feet shifted. She slid forward and lost her balance, and in the process of attempting to regain her footing, landed heavily on her butt and slid down the cave’s treacherous slope like a reluctant toddler at the playground. She screamed all the while and scraped her nails uselessly against the rocky wall at either side. Eventually, she reached the end and became airborne.

All sense of time fell away as Chloe tumbled through the air with the debris from the shaft, arms and legs flailing uselessly at the air like a baby bird falling from its nest the first time. Merciless and unyielding rock caught her, although she landed on her ankle and crumpled soon after. White-hot pain exploded through her entire leg; worse than anything she’d ever experienced before.

“Fuck!” she swore, loudly, after all who would hear. Her flashlight tumbled from her hands and rolled across the cavern floor. The wobbling light danced over the rough-hewn walls in a dizzying display until the small device rolled to a stop. She’d have to crawl to reach it and risk scraping her knees and hands to high hell in the process.

Nearly thirty minutes had passed before she was able to stop crying. Instead of feeling strong and adventurous, she felt weak and miserable. Her wet clothes and the damp environment worsened her ordeal. Of course, Chloe had also learned a very valuable lesson about adventuring without a partner.

After a while she climbed up from the ground and gingerly tried to apply weight to her left ankle. A merciless twinge, striking her joint with the ferocity of a hammer blow, forced her to immediately draw her foot off the ground again. The nearby stalagmite became her leaning post while she waited for the nausea to settle.

“Okay. Chloe, think,” she told herself, while salty tears leaked down her cheeks. Her voice echoed across the cavern. “This is a popular climb. I just need to… to wait for the rain to stop and listen. Call for help.”

It wasn’t in her plans to die alone and in the dark recesses of some unknown cave. Unfortunately, cell phone signals wouldn’t reach the outside world. She confirmed it at a glance.

Once she eased down to the cave floor, Chloe tried to pull herself together. A search through her pack produced a basic first aid kit, emergency blanket, a few energy bars, and some dehydrated meals. Being injured didn’t change the fact that her activities had provoked a ravenous hunger that couldn’t be sated by a tiny little rectangle of granola and dried cranberries that she had brought with her.

She rifled through the first aid kit and removed the small bottle of ibuprofen. She popped two into her mouth and swallowed them dry. The Band-Aids and antibiotic cream were useless, so she shoved the box back into her bag and leaned against the cavern wall to wallow in her misery. This vacation sucked. Freddy was probably getting his dick sucked by some ditzy bitch in a pink sports bra and booty shorts while she suffered in the dark.

“Have you become lost?”

The voice promptly shook her from a daydreaming state.

Or maybe I’m hallucinating…

The shirtless man who stepped into her field of vision belonged in a gym commercial with his rippling muscles and washboard abs. His wavy blonde hair touched his broad shoulders and curled at the tips, and a reddish scruff covered his jawline. Although her tastes usually ran to black hair and blue eyes like tall, dark, and handsome Freddy, something about the fair-haired stranger lured her like a siren’s call.

She would definitely make an exception for the bearded Viking in the cave.

“Are you among the hearing impaired?”

“What?” Delusions weren’t supposed to speak, were they? The sudden realization that help had arrived filled her with relief. Chloe pushed to her feet and promptly cried out. Her forward stumble knocked her straight into the stranger’s strong arms.

“You are injured.”

“My ankle,” she sobbed. She hadn’t realized how cold she was until held in his embrace. The man radiated heat like the sun on a cloudless summer day. Given the dire need to become warm, she had no reservations about wriggling in against his chest. The thought did occur to her that she should ask why a random, sexy stranger was in a dark cave system - and shirtless - until she saw the incredibly heavy backpack at his feet.

Maybe he was an axe murderer hiding out from the police, and planned to kill and eat her over his own camp fire. Hell if she knew, but at least she’d get warm before he did it.

“Will you allow me to tend to you?” His words rolled off his tongue like smooth dark chocolate; deep and rich.

“I… yes,” she impulsively breathed out.

The world shifted around her, bringing a wave of vertigo. The rugged stranger plucked her up into his arms and cradled her. The startled shriek died in her throat.

“What are you doing?” Chloe demanded.

“It would be rather difficult to complete my objective if you are to limp behind me as a man who has been hobbled.”

“Oh,” she replied. She squirmed to glance back toward the fallen flashlight and pack. “You’re leaving my stuff.”

“I will return for your belongings once I have settled you in comfort. I have a fire nearby.”

“Alright. Fine… Do you plan to tell me your name?”

The man paused.

Chloe couldn’t even see him in the dark, but he seemed to know the way and navigated well without bruising her against the walls or the hard rock. She reached out with one hand and felt the cool stone to her right. “I’m Chloe,” she offered first.

“You may call me Saul.”

“You’re the first Saul I’ve ever met,” she commented.

“You will also find me to be the very best Saul you will ever meet,” he replied without missing a beat. Pleasant and funny, if not somewhat narcissistic.

“Oh…” Chloe nervously laughed. “So, what are you doing here?”
And why are you half-dressed?

“I explore caves,” he replied. “It is… a particular hobby of mine.”

“Oh, a spelunker.”

“Indeed.”

“I like to climb,” Chloe quickly offered. After she had said it, she could have kicked herself for sounding so very eager.

“As I have noted.” His chuckle made her belly flutter, like his voice had made love to her ears and left her breathless. Chloe would have paid him to read the Yellow Pages to her.

Orange light danced ahead, yielding only the faintest outline of his features. It took many more steps before they emerged from the network of tunnels and into the open space of a cavern with a high, uneven ceiling. It extended upward toward a partially open sky revealed by a slender crevice. They were protected from the downpour, with exception of the steady stream of draining water that splattered against the rocks below the crack itself.

As promised, a fire crackled in a stone ring. It was much bigger than Chloe expected but not unwelcome. The cheery golden glow cast flickering shadows against smooth rock walls. Veins of quartz glittered just beyond the edge of the shadows, glimmering like stars as the light caught them.

“I must remove your boot. It will hurt,” he warned.

“Just do it.”

“As you command.”

Saul set her down on a sleeping bag spread out between the fire and wall. Chloe shivered. Her damp clothes clung uncomfortably to her every curve.

Pain zinged up her leg despite Saul’s careful movements. He unraveled the complicated knot that secured her laces then eased the sturdy boot from her foot.

“How am I supposed to get down the mountain like this?” The pain triggered another round of tears that she hastily wiped away.

“Perhaps the damage is not as dire as you imagine,” Saul mysteriously replied. He had crouched beside her near the affected limb. Once the boot and sock were stripped away, he smoothed his palm over the top of her foot and took firm grip of her heel in the other hand. The pain flared, a bright explosion that left her seeing stars. She kicked to free herself, but he had such a strong grip she didn’t even budge his muscular arms.

“Ow ow ow ow! Stop!” she screamed.

The first initial spark of pain faded dimly and left a dull throb in its place. Saul didn’t stop. Ignoring her, he slid the same hand atop her foot over her ankle, higher until his calloused touch smoothed over her shin beneath the damp cargo pants. His fingers curved around her calf, alternating squeezes and pressure with the occasional caress.

“What are you doing?” Chloe asked sharply.

“Easing your pain,” Saul replied. He was a man of few words apparently. “Does this provide relief to you?” he asked.

His divine touch continued to spread heat along her skin. He massaged the muscle and rolled her foot, but the injury seemed oblivious to the fact that it should have caused her immense pain.

Thank God I shaved before leaving home this morning,
she thought in a sudden moment of vanity
.
“I guess so… maybe I didn’t sprain or twist it after all.”

BOOK: SavedDragon
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