Here’s more about Taken by a Dragon, including an excerpt from this paranormal romance novel.
She had passed out at some point.
It might have been shortly after the dragon shifter who had abducted her had hit a height that had made her vision do strange things, zooming in and out as she had stared wide-eyed at the thousand-foot-plus drop to the forbidding black lands below. She had certainly lost the contents of her stomach at that point.
Anais lay with her eyes closed, feigning unconsciousness, keeping her breathing light and even and her heart rate steady and slow. She wasn’t alone. She could feel the piercing gaze of the man who had snatched her from the midst of the battle.
A battle where they had been enemies, fighting on opposite sides. Her in the army of the Third Realm of the demons, and him on the side of the Fifth Realm.
When she had set eyes on him, laying in the middle of the mad fray, staring at her and Sable as if they were goddesses or something born of myth and legend, the last thing she had expected was him to transform into an incredible and enormous blue dragon, and she definitely hadn’t expected him to snatch her and fly off with her.
Anais breathed slowly, biding her time, waiting for her faculties to all come back. Years of training cycled through her mind, everything she had learned as a huntress for Archangel coming to the fore now that she needed it. Calm flowed through her and she clung to it, using it as a shield as she told herself on repeat that fear wasn’t an emotion she was going to allow herself to feel.
She was going to remain calm because she needed a clear head, one not clouded by panic, if she was going to find a way out of this mess. That same head ached as she tried to think, throbbing behind her eyes and around her temples. Maybe she had passed out from lack of oxygen. It was possible. Anything seemed possible in this insane realm.
When she had been told to assemble as part of Sable’s team that would be venturing into Hell on Archangel’s first mission to that new land, she hadn’t known what to expect. It was black and grim, and filled with creatures straight out of the nightmares of most normal people.
She was far from normal though.
She had fought vampires, werewolves, warlocks and demons. Even some fae and cat shifters. All in the name of protecting the unsuspecting humans and the good non-humans who shared the mortal realm from those who would do them harm.
She had never met a dragon shifter though.
Anais slowly opened her eyes.
They settled on a black-dust-covered pair of bare feet and tracked upwards, over smooth blue leather encased legs and a honed naked torso to the shifter who had abducted her.
He crouched beside her, his aquamarine eyes stunning in the weak light from the fire she could feel near her feet and hear as its crackles and pops filled the thick silence. That same golden light played on sculpted cheekbones and profane lips, a mouth made for wicked things. She quickly reminded herself that he had a killer set of teeth behind those sensual lips. Twin rows of tiny white daggers that he had flashed at Sable when her superior had talked about studying him.
He canted his head, causing a hank of wild blue hair to slip down and caress his brow. His dark blue eyebrows dipped low, causing his striking eyes to narrow. Curious. He had looked that way back in the battle. He had stared at her with a strange mixture of fascination, awe, and desire.
That final emotion combined with a sudden thought that she was alone with him and tapped into her deepest female instincts. They overruled the logical part of her that attempted to point out that she was unmolested despite being unconscious and at his mercy for God only knew how long and hijacked control of her body and mind.
Her calm shattered and her pulse spiked in response. She immediately went on the defensive, scrambling backwards across the pebbly black ground, her eyes swiftly darting around to take in her surroundings but never leaving him for longer than a second. Rock walls arched upwards to meet in a ceiling, forming a cave around thirty feet across. She hit one of those walls a few metres into her attempt to flee him and banged the back of her head against the jagged rock.
Her flinch of pain drew a darker look from the man and he rose to his feet and took fluid, silent steps towards her. Danger and sensuality rolled off him with each graceful stride, each shift of his lean hips that had her gaze lowering to his body before she could stop it, taking in how the muscles of his torso flexed beneath his pale skin as he moved. Her heart pounded harder. Her mouth went dry.
Anais shot to her feet and held her hand out. It was a feeble attempt to stop him when she had lost her only weapon, her favourite dagger, during the flight to wherever they were, but it seemed to work.
He halted a short distance away and even backed off a step.
He was incredibly tall.
The demons she had worked with, and the elves, had all been tall, and this man rivalled them. He stood at least as tall as King Thorne of the demons, an impressive six-foot-seven, but where the demon was broadly built, hewn with thick muscles, this male was more athletic, his build slighter but equally as honed.
Anais shook herself and pressed her back against the wall. She was meant to be escaping, not admiring her abductor.
She drew in a deep breath to calm herself and tried to remember all her training. It was hard when he was staring at her, his piercing blue gaze fixed on her with an intensity that shook her. She briefly closed her eyes, sucked down another slow breath, and then nodded as she finally found a sliver of calm, enough to allow her to look objectively at her predicament and search for a way out of it again.
Her gaze flitted to the fire off to her right, where it illuminated the opening of a dark tunnel, and then the cave mouth off to her left. It was dark out there too, a barely discernible difference between the black mountains and the near-black sky of Hell. Either looked like a good option over remaining in the cave with the shifter, but she would take the exit from the cave rather than risking heading deeper into it where she might end up trapped.
Her eyes drifted back to the beautiful male standing before her, his back straight and shoulders squared, and feet noticeably braced apart. He was a warrior all right. He had cut through the battle with ease, taking down demons with one blow of his curved blade. Now he stood in readiness, prepared to defend or attack if she made a move, his fierce gaze tracking her every action.
She knew from his interaction with Sable on the battlefield that he understood English, although she had a feeling she was about to test the limits of his knowledge.
She schooled her expression, steadied her heart, and shifted her feet further apart. His gaze dropped to them and his left eyebrow rose. She used his momentary distraction to assess him. He was far stronger than she was, probably faster too, and he had a weapon. A knife. Sheathed at his waist.
That was her target.
Somehow, she would get her hands on that knife. It wouldn’t level the playing field, but it would make her feel a whole damned lot better about her situation.
His aquamarine eyes lifted back to hers and narrowed again, shimmering with curiosity. Why was he so fascinated with her?
“Amazon,” he husked in a voice so deep and smooth it was like taking a pure hit of the finest chocolate, more than most girls could handle without melting into a puddle of bliss.
Anais shook herself again, forcing herself to focus.
On the battlefield, he had called her and her fellow huntresses Amazons. Sable had responded to that by pressing her boot against his throat and correcting him. He had to know she was a demon-hunter. Unless he hadn’t understood that part.
“I’m not an Amazon. I’m a demon-hunter. I work for Archangel.”
He frowned. “An angel?”
Anais resisted the overwhelming temptation to sigh. “No. Archangel. A hunter organisation. I work for them and believe me when I say that they’ll be coming to get me.”
He snarled, flashing white teeth.
That weren’t all tiny daggers.
She made a mental note of that. It seemed that like vampires, elves and demons, the fangs were under his control. She would have to tell Olivia when she got out of this hellhole and back to Archangel.
But they weren’t at Archangel right now. Her team were back in the Third Realm, fighting against demons, bear shifters and dragons. Her heart started a hard thumping against her chest and she looked back towards the mouth of the cave.
“Take me back,” she said and when he didn’t respond, she turned her focus to him, giving him her best glare. She didn’t dare hope he would do as she asked, but she had to try. He hadn’t laid a hand on her since taking her and he had kept his distance when she had warned him away. If there was a chance she could convince him to return her to her friends, she had to take it. “Take me back to the battle. I have to go back.”
His frown deepened, pinching his blue eyebrows together. Didn’t he understand? She spat a curse at him and his handsome face blackened into a scowl. Apparently he understood that perfectly well.
“Why?” he murmured with a glance towards the cave mouth.
Anais looked there too, heart aching as she thought about the why of it. “Because my friends are there. Fighting. They need me.”
Were they alright? Was Sable okay? Emelia and the others? Her team of hunters had been small and no match for the enemies the Fifth Realm had thrown at them, but the demons of the Third Realm and the elves had been helping them. She had to have faith that her friends were strong enough to survive to fight another day and that the Third Realm would win the war.
The dragon’s steady gaze bore into the side of her face, heating her skin, sucking all of her awareness away from the world and her friends and narrowing it down to only him.
She slid her eyes back to him and found him frowning at her, a confused edge to his expression.
“You fight… as a… unit?” His stilted manner of speaking confirmed that he knew his way around her language but it was limited, not his mother tongue.
She nodded. “Of course.”
“Strange.” He glanced towards the cave mouth again and then back at her.
Anais frowned this time and spoke slowly in the hope he would understand her. “I saw you with the other dragon warriors. You were fighting as a unit.”
His lips quirked into a half-smile that lit up his eyes with sparks of gold fire and heated her insides even when she tried not to let it affect her. “They were heading… in the similar… no, same… direction as me. Dragon warriors do not fight as a unit. Only weak species do.”
Anais folded her arms across her chest and glared at him. Her species weren’t weak. They were strong because they fought together. Only idiots refused to aid each other on the battlefield.
“Take me back.”
He didn’t look inclined to agree to that demand. “What species?”
Her eyebrows dipped together until it dawned on her that he was trying to find out what species she was. He moved on before she could answer.
“The mortal one.” She looked up at the roof of the cave, trying to emphasise her point, even though she wasn’t sure that Hell was beneath her realm like the traditional interpretation of its position.
Sable had tried to explain to her and a few of their team that Hell was like a separate plane, connected to their one via a series of portals. It was beneath their world but not at the same time. Anais had been inclined to agree with her leader when she had called it a ‘mind fuck’.
“Impossible.” He canted his head to one side again and narrowed his eyes on her, giving her a look that part questioned her sanity and part demanded she tell him the truth. “What realm?”
She did sigh now. “The mortal one. I’m not from here. I’m human.”
He shook his head and advanced a step, and she swiftly raised her hands again, hoping he would halt as he had last time. He didn’t. He moved another step closer, narrowing the distance between them down to under ten feet, and ran his gaze over her, scrutinising every inch of her.
“An Amazon.” His expression was resolute, challenging her to deny what he had evidently decided was the truth about her.
Anais muttered a prayer for strength. “I’m not a damned Amazon! Look… just take me back. If you take me back, I’m sure Sable and Archangel will let you off with a warning.”
He just stared at her.
Her temper frayed despite her best attempts to maintain her calm air as per her training. Enraging an immortal was never a good move, and was definitely number one on the list of things not to do when faced with an enemy, but her emotions and her nerves were shot and she was beginning to feel a little enraged herself.
She was sure there was a saying about pissing women off but clearly this man had never heard it.
She straightened and looked him right in the eyes, refusing to let how beautiful they were distract her.
“Take me back.”
His eyes darkened and his lips compressed into a thin line. “No.”
Fine. He wanted to do things the hard way and she was good with that. If he wouldn’t take her back out of the kindness of his black dead heart, she would force him to do it at knifepoint.
Anais slowly shifted away from the wall of the cave, heading into the open area between the dragon and the fire. He countered her, turning on the spot, keeping his front to hers. A darker edge flickered in his eyes, one that warned he was on to her and knew she intended to attack now.
“Last chance. Take me back.” She was fairly certain that he wasn’t going to take her up on her offer. She knew stubborn when she saw it. She looked at it in the mirror each day. In a battle of stubbornness, he wouldn’t win.
He took a step towards her.
Anais kicked off, lunging towards him, her eyes on the knife sheathed against his left hip.