Authors: Tianna Xander
Tags: #Paranormal, #Erotic Romance, #Dragon, #Shapeshifter
Usually, those who wielded such great power were evil. He’d only known one sorcerer with such power in his lifetime that was good. The man had been both surrogate father and mentor to Drake when he was younger.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Declan.” Drake pushed his way through the seven men gathered near the door. “These are my brothers-in-law.” He smiled, the sickening smile of a man who had been wrapped around his woman’s finger. “Allow me to introduce you.” He waved his hand toward the men who stood against the outer wall, with their arms folded over their midsections.
“From left to right, these men are Lancelot, Tristan, Daniel, Erec, Gareth, Gawain, and Perceval.”
“Thank you for the introductions, cousin.” He frowned toward the men. “They are all named for Knights of the round table.” He cocked his head to the side and stared at Drake. “Why?” Declan shifted his gaze to the men in an attempt to figure out which one of them wielded the immense power of a sorcerer.
“Our parents loved the Arthurian legends.” The one Drake identified as Lancelot stepped forward. He glared in Drake’s direction. “Call me Lance, damn it.”
“I hate that they named us after men who never existed. People always seem to think we should do something great because
One of the others shook his head with a frown. Declan thought it was Gawain, but he wasn’t sure.
“What makes you think they never existed?” Declan tried to figure out which one was hiding the fact that he was a sorcerer. Did the man even hide it from his brothers?
“King Arthur, Camelot, and the knights of the round table are nothing more than a romantic myth dreamt up by those who wished to set a better ideal.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that, if I were you.” Declan glanced back toward Emily, who sat next to Summer. Adrian, whom Declan remembered was the name of the missing brother of the Earth dragon, Damek, stood in front of the two women, protecting both Emily and his mate, Summer. Adrian’s eyes narrowed as he watched the men. Did he feel the power of a sorcerer, as well?
“You can’t be saying you believe that romantic nonsense is real.” This came from the man he believed Drake said was Perceval.
“No. I don’t
it’s real. I
it’s real. I lived it.” Declan bowed. “I am, or perhaps I should say, I
Sagramor, cousin to Arthur.”
“I call bullshit.” Lance grimaced. “Everyone knows Arthur didn’t exist. They’ve found no evidence that he lived or died anywhere near England. If he died there, they would have found a body.”
“Of course he existed.” Declan rested his hands on his hips. “The church of the time wanted everyone to believe the stories were nothing more than heretical tripe passed down from generation to generation. They claimed they were nothing more than stories told by those who didn’t have the ability to record their history on paper—those they deemed pagans.” He looked at each of the men in turn, not caring if he believed them or not. He was here for his mate, not a history lesson. “The church did its best to stamp out all knowledge of magic with the hopes of controlling the populace.”
Declan paced to the window and stared out through the darkness. “Why do you think he was called Arthur Pendragon? Pendragon is Welsh for Chief Dragon, you fool.”
“Chief Dragon? Do you mean as in the king of dragons?” Lancelot glanced at Drake.
April grasped his cousin’s arm. “But
the dragon king...aren’t you?” She looked more confused than disappointed.
Drake gave her a sheepish grin and shrugged. “Guilty.”
“Are you...” April dropped her hand, stepped back, and licked her lips. “Are you saying that
“Guilty again,” Drake replied with a sigh. “Honey, you have to realize that we
to change our names. Over the centuries, I have been many people. Every thirty years or so, my identity has to die and I must become someone else.”
“But...but you could have told
” The color drained from April’s face. She looked faint.
Drake wrapped his arm around her and led her to the nearest chair where she abruptly sat.
“Holy crap! I’m married to King Arthur.” She narrowed her eyes. “What happened to Guinevere?”
“Mordred killed her.” Drake lowered his gaze, as he always did when asked about the woman who had tried to be a dragon’s mate. “It was her body that took my place in the grave.” He sighed. “It was easy to substitute bodies back then. Now we tell sex by bone structure. There are also dental records and DNA. Back then, a body was a body after rotting in the ground for several months.”
He glanced at his mate, who sat glaring at him. “
are my true mate, April. She was the wife of a king. The person who kept me sane during an insane time.”
“What about Morgan Le Fey?”
“Her name is Morgaine, not Morgan. Part of Morgaine’s story is true. She
my half sister, and no, I am not in love with her and she did not have my illegitimate child. Incest then was just as sick as it is today.”
“Can we get back to the matter at hand, please?” Declan hated being rude, especially to his king, but his mate’s safety was more important than Drake’s feelings.
“And that is?” yet another one of the brothers said. Declan scowled. Having seven sons and so many daughters should be illegal.
Declan glanced around the room. How many children did their parents have? Their mother should be exhausted and their father castrated.
“Which one of you is the sorcerer?” Declan moved toward the men when they all shook their heads. “Make no mistake, I will
tolerate danger near my mate.” He flicked a gaze toward Drake. “If I were you, I would demand to know who deceived me in my own home.”
“It’s me.” Perceval left the company of his brothers, moving out into the open. “But I’m no danger to any of the women. They’re my sisters.” He smiled toward Emily. “And my honorary aunt.”
“It was a sorcerer’s power that destroyed my lair and endangered my mate.” Declan growled. His skin turned red, scales rippled along his arms.
“You’d better not shift in here, damn it!” Drake snarled. “Think of the harm that could come to the women when the roof gives, you idiot.”
“Well, it wasn’t me.” Perceval increased the distance between him and his brothers, putting himself within Declan’s reach. It was a precarious position. If Declan had tried, he could have reached out and snapped the man’s neck in a moment. “I didn’t know you existed until I walked through that door.” He pointed behind him. “And, frankly, I wish I had never met you.”
“Don’t antagonize him, Perceval.”
“Why the hell not?” He glared at Lancelot before pointing at Declan. “He doesn’t give a shit about antagonizing me.”
“True,” Lancelot agreed. “But the last time I checked, you couldn’t roast someone like a pig on a spit with your breath, either.”
Emily sat still, taking everything in. Her heart almost gave out when Drake told them all he was King Arthur, in the flesh.
She glanced at Declan. She had guessed he was old, but she never thought he’d been alive in the twelfth century. That
when the stories of King Arthur began circulating, wasn’t it?
“I always thought King Arthur was a blond,” she commented absently.
“It’s not like they had cameras,” Summer added from beside her. “Or maybe he dyes his hair now. Who knows? It’s not like it matters. What matters is who destroyed Declan’s lair and why?” She shook her head. “I know it wasn’t one of my brothers.”
“You have a woman’s heart, love,” Adrian whispered between them. “You would never think one of your brothers was capable of harming someone. However, I have never met a good sorcerer.”
met a good sorcerer, and so has Sagramor.” Drake glared at them all.
bring up Merlin.” Declan shook his head. “Yes, he was good, but he was only one of many.”
“Will you please call him Declan? I don’t know if I can wrap my mind around all of this and having you refer to him as someone else isn’t helping matters.” Emily stared up at her mate. “Wait a minute. You two knew
” She waved her hand in front of her face. “I don’t know why I didn’t put that together when you said you were King Arthur.” She closed her eyes and held out her hand. “I don’t think I feel well. Do you think there is some place where I can rest?”
As she had hoped, Declan rushed to her side, bent, and scooped her up in his arms. “I will care for you, mate.” He turned to Drake. Emily couldn’t think of him as King Arthur. She just might faint if she thought about it much more.
“Carry me to Perceval, dear.” She rested her head against Declan’s chest. “I want to say hello. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the boy.”
“I don’t think—”
“I don’t care what you think, Declan. I watched him grow up. He became a man in front of my eyes and I refuse to think that he could harm anyone.”
“As you wish.” He heaved a sigh. “I will take you to him, but I do so with protest.”
He took her to Perceval and she took the boy’s hand. “I know you didn’t destroy his lair, boy.” Perceval bent when she leaned forward and placed a kiss on his cheek. “I knew your parents. There is a reason why you have so many sisters.” She glanced at each of the boys in turn.”
“Though my parents died when I was young, they left me with an ancient grimoire. The ancient book of spells explained that witches were the true mates of dragons before it went on to tell the tale of dragons killing witches, decimating covens and initiating the burning times of the witch hunts.”
She took a deep breath. She really
feel faint, but she had to tell them. It was news she knew she
impart before she did anything else. The boy’s life might depend on it. Even though he was surrounded by his brothers, they were no match for the amount of dragons she’d seen around Drake’s house.
“It also spoke of sorcerers and who they are.” She glanced up at Declan. “Not individuals. Just in general. Sorcerers are born. They are not made, though I’m not sure I ever believed it.”
“Born?” Drake shook his head. “How can they be born?”
“A sorcerer is
the seventh son of the seventh son.” She glanced at Perceval. “
is the seventh son, and his father was the seventh son before him. He was brought up to be a good man. Evil begets evil. His father was a good man, just as Perceval is a good man. He will remain a good man as long as he has family to look up to him.”
“Good Lord.” April, placed a hand to her throat. “Is that why they adopted all of us girls?”
“Yes.” Emily nodded. “I believe it was. They knew he needed family, just as your father needed family.”
Reaching out, Emily grasped Perceval’s arm. “As long as you’re surrounded by those you love, your heart cannot grow cold.” She leaned back, resting her head against Declan’s shoulder. “Now, I really would like to go rest, if you don’t mind.”
“I will see to the care of my mate.” Declan turned to Drake. “By your leave, sire, I will need a room for Emily.”
“Stop it with the sire stuff.” Drake waved his hand. “We don’t need to start standing on ceremony now.” He turned to one of his men. “Take Declan and his mate up to the rose room, please, Andre.”
The man bowed. “As you wish, sir.”
Drake turned back to Emily with a smile. “Sire, sir, it’s all the same.” Stepping closer, he reached out, took her hand, and bent over it. “I still wish you would call me Drake. I have grown accustomed to having friends. I would hate to lose one as special as you.”
Emily’s cheeks burned as all the things she’d learned over the last few minutes ran through her mind. King Arthur had just kissed her hand and her mate had once been a knight of the Round Table. It was almost too much for her old mind to take in.
“Thank you...Drake.” How would she ever feel comfortable being so informal with this man now? Every witch she had ever known had grown up listening to stories of the man and his knights. How when the world needed him, he would rise once more and save the people of Earth. “I-I’m sorry, but I really don’t feel well.”
She glanced up at Declan. “I would rather be alone with my mate. We have a lot of catching up to do.”
Even after a week together, they still had fifty years of catching up to do. What had he been doing other than sleeping? Also, Emily found she wanted to become his mate in every way. The thought had her stomach doing little flip-flops that she should be immune to at her age.
“Of course.” Drake straightened and glanced at Declan. “We will discuss what to do about who destroyed your lair and I will fill you in when you rejoin us.”
Declan followed Andre up to the third floor and a suite of rooms he could only describe as opulent. Wallpaper dotted with red roses covered the walls. The heavy cherry wood furniture gleamed darkly, and the scent of beeswax filled the room. It was a comforting and familiar scent.
Drake’s man left them alone, closing the door quietly behind him. Declan carried his mate to the large four-poster bed and gently place her on the thick covering. The spread, if he wasn’t mistaken, was old and filled with goose down. The familiar things were a comfort to him. He hoped they were a comfort to his mate, as well.
“I love country homes.” She sighed when he set her on the bed. “The quilts are so thick, and the house always smells of the country.” She took a deep breath. “I suppose this is the kind of smells you’re used to.”
Her cheeks turned rosy and he wondered what was on her mind. If he was lucky, she would share it and he would know. “I do have fond memories of the smell of burning beeswax candles and the roses my mother always had scattered throughout the house.”
Back then, magic was prevalent. It wasn’t feared, and those who had magic were revered, not hated, or feared.
“We didn’t have to hide who we were then, either. After a while, we found it was better to conceal the fact that we were dragons, because some went mad and preyed on humans.” He shook his head. “I remember a time when humans came to dragons for help, knowing that we would do our best to assist them.”