Double the firepower, triple the heat...
Aiden Fortune's orders are clear: Find the woman, claim her as a sexual sacrifice--and share her with his horndog twin brother. Distasteful as it is, the Drakoni council insists the ancient custom be honored. Or Aiden will be banished.
One glance at Dana Cooper, and Aiden is thrown into the dragon version of a tailspin. Claim her? Hell, yes, he'll claim her. Problem is, she has no idea her father signed away her destiny at birth.
Dana has dated enough whack-a-doodles to fill an insane asylum. Two gorgeous men claiming to be dragons? Par for the course. Until they give her a tantalizing glimpse of their inner beasts, which makes her think she's the one headed for a padded cell--for actually considering their offer of the hottest sex of her life, for life.
Her resistance melts away under the onslaught of two men who pack enough heat to set off smoke alarms in a six-block radius. Especially when she realizes she's falling for Aiden. But with a town full of dragon hunters and an enemy lurking in the shadows, surviving a week of Aiden and Jace's double-teaming will be the least of her problems...
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June 28, 2010
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Excerpt from Light My Fire by Jodi Redford
"Take your precious contract and shove it up your asses." His jaw rigid, Aiden Fortune pitched the fat sheaf of papers toward the middle of the massive mahogany table where he was currently sequestered with fifteen members of the Drakoni council. The papers skidded across the slick surface, drawing irate grumbles from Aiden's colleagues. Truthfully, colleague wasn't the preferred term he'd use for any of these old farts.
"You will fulfill its terms." Thomas Kinnit shifted in his seat, his considerable bulk prompting a groan from the leather-upholstered frame. A trace of fire shimmered in his cold obsidian eyes. Obviously he saw no need for his temper to spiral out of control. As head speaker for the council, Thomas expected his demand to be met.
Too bad he didn't know who the hell he was dealing with.
Aiden surged to his feet, crowding over Kinnit. Gripping the edge of the table with enough force to crack the wood, he granted Thomas a ferocious scowl. "I'd like to see the army you intend on using to carry out your request."
"It's not a request, boy." Kinnit shoveled a heaping dose of venomous hostility on the last word.
Thick silence descended on the room. The other council members watched intently, waiting for Aiden's reaction to Thomas's verbal gauntlet. He had no intention of satisfying their thirst for a fight. Kinnit's antagonism was nothing new. The man had made it clear from the start he objected to Aiden being named Supreme Alpha-elect of the clan. Though Thomas argued that a thirty-one-year-old didn't have the maturity to fulfill the role of leader, Aiden suspected the real reason Kinnit's briefs were in a twist was because the man had been jockeying for his son to achieve the rank of top dog. Or in this case, top dragon.
Boo-effing-hoo for him.
"You would break almost nine centuries of tradition? What else do you plan to turn your back on in the name of selfishness?" Ripe contempt underscoring Thomas's question, he flung his arm toward the massive bookcases lining the far wall. "Next you'll suggest we hold a giant bonfire and toss the sacred Drakoni texts in for kindling."
Murmurs of dissent rumbled around Aiden, provoking a growl into escaping his throat. "You know damn well I have no intention of doing any such thing. But I see no point for this ridiculous mission."
"If you don't do as told, you leave us no choice but to enforce the banishment doctrine." Kinnit leaned forward, his hawkish features practically glowing with triumphant glee. "Go ahead and take your walk of shame. I certainly won't stop you."
The heavy tread of a chair scraping the hardwood floor preceded a palm landing on Aiden's shoulder. Cherry pipe smoke--his father's personal calling card--drifted to Aiden. Turning, he met the regret in Liam Fortune's expression.
"Thomas is right. It's your duty to carry out the contract."
Sharp betrayal knifed through Aiden. His father's fingers squeezed tighter, a lost attempt to soften the blow of his words.
"I don't say this to hurt you. But we must uphold the legacy of the Drakoni. Already too many have forgotten the ways of our kind."
Aiden struggled to corral his frustration. "It's called evolution. Not necessarily a bad thing."
A snort heavy with disdain chuffed from Kinnit. "What you call evolution I call demoralization." His balled fist thudded on the tabletop, sending a shudder through the ancient wood. "People used to quake at the sight of a Drakoni in form. Now they taunt us by portraying our kind on Saturday morning children's programming. Wearing pink tutus, for all that's unholy!"
Aiden rolled his eyes. "By God, you're right. The Dragon Gang Show is a conspiracy cooked up by humans to bring us sobbing to our knees in shame. I wonder how the devil they discovered our secret love affair with sparkly netting?" Jesus, Kinnit's idiotic paranoia was exhausting at times.
"You are out of line, boy."
"And you are an asshat."
He and Kinnit exchanged fierce glares, neither willing to blink and award the other an edge. The soft click of his mother's high heels tapped a warning on the floor as she approached the gathering. Still he kept his focus centered on Kinnit.
"Aiden, please be reasonable. Now is not the time to ruffle the scales of the council."
Thomas broke eye contact and smiled at Maggie Fortune. Aiden burned with the desire to smash the smarmy look off the other man's face.
"Listen to your mama, boy. She'll steer you well."
Aiden glanced at his mother and took in her beseeching expression. Her hand lifted and toyed with the silver dragon claw suspended from a delicate chain around her neck. He couldn't remember ever seeing her without the charm, the insignia of the Drakoni. As a direct, pure blood descendent of Lucius, first of the mighty dragons, she was the closest thing to royalty the clan possessed. The others revered her and in return, she did not take her responsibility to them lightly. As her son, Aiden was expected to toe the same line. Even when everything inside him roared at the injustice of being shackled to an antiquated tradition.
"Fine, I'll do it." He bit the agreement out woodenly.
"Good." Kinnit didn't disguise the triumph in his booming voice. "I've taken the liberty of booking a red eye for you both. You'll be leaving for Michigan early tomorrow morning."
Presumptuous son of a bitch. Grinding his molars, Aiden spun from the table. He took three long strides before Kinnit's statement fully registered with a resounding boom in his consciousness. Apprehension slithering along his spine, he stalled. "Both?" Slowly, he turned.
A satisfied smirk homesteaded Kinnit's face. "Surely you didn't think you'd be the only one fulfilling the contract, given your special circumstances?"
With some doing, Aiden kept his expression bland. "Of course not." He pivoted and stalked the remaining distance to the large double doors leading from the council chambers. Once in the hall, he buckled to the fury boiling inside him and punched a hole in the wall. Shaking plaster from his fist, he strode to the front entrance of the Seattle-based Drakoni assembly center. He stepped outside, his focus immediately riveting on the monster dually pickup straddling two parking spots in the rear of the lot.
At least he wouldn't have to go looking for Jace.
Angry smoke funneling from his nostrils, Aiden walked toward the truck, the heavy ring of his boots on the pavement providing his brother plenty of warning that he was five seconds away from receiving company. Should give Jace ample time to wrap up the festivities.
Aiden wrenched the back passenger door open and spied Laurie Kinnit sprawled across the bench seat, her tight pinstriped skirt rucked up around her waist. Jace, Aiden's twin, had his head buried between Laurie's thighs. If the delirious moans coming from Laurie were any indication, Jace was busy going to town.
"Oh God. I'm almost there. Don't you dare stop." Panting, Laurie dug her fingers into Jace's shaggy black hair, guaranteeing his compliance.
Aiden slammed his boot heel onto the running board, rocking the truck. Laurie jerked her eyes open and shrieked when she spotted him. His disinterested glance skipped over her flushed face. "Sorry to break up the party." He wasn't. Not by a long shot. If Kinnit discovered his daughter was getting snacked on by Jace during her lunch break, a crap-storm would erupt. Aiden didn't have the patience or the time to deal with it. "I need to speak to my brother. Now."
A groan filtering from Jace, he scooted onto his haunches in the cramped quarters. He wiped his mouth on the tail of his tee shirt, his narrowed eyes glinting with annoyance. "This better be damned important."
"We're leaving for Michigan in the morning."
Jace blinked. "Wait, you mean...?"
"Yeah." Aiden pushed the remaining words through clenched teeth. "We're sharing the sacrifice."