Read The Red Dragon Online

Authors: Tianna Xander

Tags: #Paranormal, #Erotic Romance, #Dragon, #Shapeshifter

The Red Dragon (2 page)

BOOK: The Red Dragon
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He looked older, appearing to be a man in his mid sixties. She stared up into his eyes, dark as mahogany and smiled. “I would know those eyes anywhere.” She bit her bottom lip. “But you’ve aged.”

“Yes.” He nodded. “I could not bear to live my life without my mate. Before I left that last night, I bound myself to you in the only way left to me. It bound me to you, but left you free to love where you chose. I shared some of my life force with you, with the hope that you would eventually accept me as I am. I vowed that I would grow old as you grew old and I would die when you died.” Reaching up, he brushed her hair from her face, and gently pressed a kiss against her forehead. “I have no desire to exist in this world without you, mate.”

Emily canted her head, pressing her cheek against the palm of his hand. “I was a fool, Declan. I should have accepted you then, but I was frightened.” She turned away, twisting her hands at her waist. “There’s something you should know about me—something I should have told you before.” Gathering her courage, she spun around to face him. She wanted to see his reaction. “I-I’m a witch, Declan. That’s why I spurned your suit all those years ago. I’d been told that dragons killed witches and I feared you. I was a foo—”

“Shh...my love.” Declan rested his fingers over her mouth. “Don’t you think I knew? Don’t you think you shared with me when we kissed as I shared with you? I had hoped that seeing my thoughts, my innermost feelings, you would have known how much I love you—that I could never harm you.”

He pulled her into his arms, bending so that his lips brushed hers lightly. Emily tilted her head back and closed her eyes. “I love the feel of your arms around me.” She smiled up at him. “I’ve missed it. I’ve missed
you.

“And I have missed you, my love.” Bending, he scooped her up in his arms and carried her toward the cave. “Will you allow me to take you to my lair? Do I have your permission to complete our mating bond?”

In all of the years she had regretted letting Declan go, never had she dreamed that he would accept her so readily, so unconditionally, when or if she told him she had changed her mind.

The sun dropped behind the mountain and a cool breeze made her shiver. Tightening his arms, he stood just outside the entrance to the cave. “I await your answer, my love. I don’t wish to frighten you again. Will you allow me to carry you into my lair?”

“Yes, Declan. I should have trusted you long ago. We’ve lost so much time, wasted so much of our lives, because I was a fool. Closing her eyes, Emily rested her head on his shoulder and trusted him to take her into his lair, where she knew she would be safe and warm in his arms.

 

Chapter Four

 

 

Declan released the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. He didn’t know if he could take another rejection from the woman he loved. He wanted Emily, needed her with every cell of his being.

She was right. They
had
wasted too many years apart. They had thrown away a lifetime together because of fear and distrust. She had both feared and doubted him that night when she rejected his suit. Would it happen again? Could he walk away from her a second time if it did?

No!
His dragon refused to let her walk away again. Could the man do any less? One way or another, he would convince her that they were meant to be.

He strode into the cave, knowing that after a few steps, she wouldn’t be able to see again until he lit the sconces in the cavern. “It will get dark in a minute and you will be unable to see for a bit. Does that frighten you?”

“Will you be able to see?” She reached up, wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and pressed her face into the crook of his neck.

“Of course, but you will not. I do not want to frighten you, but there are no torches between here and there to light the way.”

He felt her shrug.

“I trust you.”

Something shifted in the center of his chest. She trusted him. It had been a long time in coming, but there it was, a gift of great price and she had finally given it to him. Emily had faith in him. She believed he would allow her to come to no harm.

“I thank you for believing in me.”

“I only wish I had done it sooner.” There was a wealth of regret in her voice.

“Do not dwell on it, love. It does us no good to accept or place blame. We both made that decision long ago and we both must live with what that choice has wrought.”

“Yeah.” She snorted. “We’re old now. We’re old and gray and neither of us have much time left. If you’ve tied your life force to mine, we might get another ten or fifteen years if we’re lucky.”

“Stop wishing us to death, Emily.” Declan chuckled as he strode quickly through the darkness. Soon they would be in the cavern, where he could light the torches and show her just what their union would bring—life, hope and the possibility of a dragon’s lifetime together. “It is true that I have tied my life force to your mortal lifespan. However, once we complete our bond, yours will be tied to mine and my dragon’s magic will not let his mate expire before her time.”

Finally stepping into the large cavern, he set her down and called his fire forth, breathing it on every one of the sconces in the large stone room. As the torches lit, the fire burned and caught, traveling through troughs of thick oil, lighting the cavern as though it were midday.

“It’s beautiful, Declan.” Awe filled Emily’s voice as she spun around in a circle looking at the home he had built for his mate. He had spent years there, carving out the dense granite, decorating it and building what he hoped his woman could love. “How ever did you find something so beautiful?”

She made a slow circuit of the cavern, taking in every hollow, the pools of both hot and cold water and the large, hand-carved bed he had designed just for her.

“I didn’t find it, love. I made it. A dragon lives several lifetimes. He spends much of his time looking for his mate. When he cannot find her, he finds a place he would call home with her. He builds it, carves it, and sets everything out for her with the hope that she will like it and spend time with him there.”

He watched as she slipped off her shoes and stepped ankle deep into the steaming pool. “This feels so good.” She turned to face him. “You carved out the pools?”

“I carved out everything. I scooped out the cave, the main room of the cavern...” He gestured to the bed. “I even carved the bed where you will sleep.”

“Where
I
will sleep?”

“We are not yet wed. There are non-sexual ways to complete our bond.” He smiled at her blush. “As much as I would love to consummate our relationship, I understand you will still have your old-fashioned ways. I’m willing to wait, Emily.” He picked up a beautiful pendant on an ancient-looking gold chain. “I have waited several lifetimes to give this to my mate. It has been said that no one can protect this as well as she.” Reaching around her, he clasped it around her neck with a smile. He leaned closer to whisper in her ear. “It is said that this stone is magic. That it is the stone that held Excalibur. In fact, it is believed it holds a map that can lead a person to the lake where the sword is kept safe by the lady of legend until Arthur returns to claim it.”

Emily chuckled. “Right...and if I believe that, I’m sure you have prime farmland in south central Florida to sell me.”

“I have no farmland to sell. I can only say that now that you wear the ancient stone, I can wait until you are comfortable enough with me to complete our bond. “After all, I have waited this long, haven’t I?”

 

Chapter Five

 

 

“Come. It is time for breakfast. I would have you eat.” Declan stared at her, waggling his brows as he held out a small sausage.

Emily’s face burned at his teasing. Declan was always teasing her. He’d managed to make her feel like a school girl again over the last week they spent together. As always, he’d been the perfect gentleman. He’d given her the bed as he promised, sleeping on the floor next to her. A night hadn’t gone by that he hadn’t held her hand as she drifted off to sleep.

He treated her like the virgin she still was. Declan might not realize it, but she was still untouched. He probably assumed that she had found a human man to marry. He might even think she had children, but he never spoke of it. She wanted to cry, knowing he probably thought that, but found no censure or blame in his voice or eyes.

After he’d left all those years ago, she’d thrown herself into her work. She couldn’t bear the idea of another man touching her, or making love with her, when she knew that
he
was her one true love. It didn’t matter that she thought him a bloodthirsty, witch-killing dragon. Declan had still been the one, and she had loved him with all of her broken heart, no matter how much she feared what his dragon might do to her.

Emily, for one, was tired of waiting. They had been there for a week, and he had done little more than kiss her once or twice a day. She’d waited fifty years to spend time alone with Declan, and she didn’t want to wait another minute. She wanted to know what it felt like to be loved by her man before she died of old age.

“What about a hand-fasting? Isn’t that what lovers do here in Scotland?” She’d heard it was. Those who couldn’t—or wouldn’t—wait for a church wedding still participated in the ancient practice.

“They do,” he replied with a nod. “At least they still did fifty years ago. But, only when they love each other a great deal and do not wish to wait for a clergy.” Declan moved over to what looked like a kitchen. A gas line led to a stove in the corner, and a waterfall fed the sink. It appeared as though he’d thought of everything. The stove wasn’t modern by any standards, but just knowing that he had thought about her love of cooking when he’d built this place—it was enough to make her chest ache.

“We have so much wasted time between us, Declan. I’m not sure I want to squander any more.” She stepped out of the pool where she had been soaking her feet, yet again—the heat did wonders for her arthritis—and slipped her shoes back on. She’d have to see about putting down some rugs if they planned to spend much more time here. Otherwise, the cold stone floor would cause her feet to hurt.

She stared at him, her heart racing as she watched his muscles move beneath his shirt. She felt nervous, giddy, like a young girl. She hadn’t felt so excited since their last day together, when he’d kissed her so passionately and revealed that he was a dragon. That one, not-so-innocent kiss had ruined everything.

Emily was much older and wiser now. She knew that dragons mated with witches. They didn’t kill them. Somewhere down the line, someone had decided to try to commit genocide on the dragons. It was only with witches that dragons could breed. Without them, their species would soon become extinct.

This time, when he said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, she would believe him. She wouldn’t say no, and she wouldn’t run. Emily merely needed to hear him say the words again. Though he had shown her in so many ways over the last week, as crazy as it seemed, she needed to hear him say that after all these years, he still wanted her and still loved her. She needed to hear him say the words.

What she couldn’t figure out was what took him so long. Why didn’t he just claim her already? She thought he wanted to. Why else had he carried her here and asked her permission to bring her into his lair? He’d even said he would claim her here. Now he hesitated. Why?

“What are you waiting for, dragon?” she asked, a bit nervous. “I’ve all but begged you to make me your mate. Why are you hesitating?” His reticence made her nervous. Had he changed his mind? Was he angry with her for wasting all of those years, or had he never really cared for her at all? Her eyes burned with unshed tears as he seemed to ignore her.

She stepped back a bit, staring at him as he moved through the cavern, as though listening for something. Whatever he wanted to hear, it apparently wasn’t her. He didn’t answer her. It was as though he hadn’t heard her say a thing.

Her chest hurt. Her throat closed off and Emily wanted to run. Why had she trusted him so completely? Why hadn’t she at least insisted that they tell Summer where he’d taken her?

She bit her lip. It didn’t really matter. He was stronger than she. Even if he were human, he would be stronger than she was. Fighting him would have been futile. Studying the cavern, Emily turned in a slow circle, looking at what had apparently just become her prison.

“Why are you doing this?” She couldn’t imagine him harming her, not now. Yet, he seemed so different. Distant. It was almost as though he didn’t care about how she felt and that scared her.

He didn’t turn to face her, he didn’t smile in her direction, but merely walked the perimeter of the cave as though looking for something.

“I have no desire to frighten you again, Emily,” he finally answered her as he knelt next to the wall at the far side. Reaching down, he felt for something. She couldn’t see what. “We cannot stay here.” Standing he looked up and cocked his head to the side.

“Why not?” She started toward him. “What’s wrong?”

He threw his hand out as though to ward her off. “Do not come closer!”

A low rumble started beneath them. The ground shook, nearly knocking her off her feet. The walls cracked. The stone beneath her feet buckled and Emily stumbled.

It wasn’t until then that she felt the magic in the air. It was dark, insidious, and it urged her to fear Declan, even hate him. Emily frowned. That was why she had begun to fear him again. The dark magic weaved its way into the cavern, urging her to run from her mate.

She stood strong, gathering what she could of her magic around her. She needed her sewing kit. She’d left it in the limo when she exited. How could she have known she would need it? It was there where she hid her wand. Her magic had always been little more than useless. It was worse without her wand. She would be more of a hindrance than a help if she did anything but attempt to ward off the dark magic that strove to drive yet another wedge between her and her mate.

Declan streaked toward her, nothing more than a blur. “You are in danger here.” He pulled her into his arms, lifted her against his chest, and rushed toward the opening.

BOOK: The Red Dragon
13.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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