Lorran has studied dragons for years, hoping to find a way for the wild creatures and humans to live in peace. She knows better than most the devastation caused by a dragon bite. And when Kei the Dragonslayer appears on her doorstep, torn and bleeding, she knows he has only weeks to live.
Kei has been a dragon slayer all his life, but when he becomes the victim of a dragon bite, he turns to Lorran, the only woman who might be able to save him from sure death. As the dragon venom flows through his body, the desire and need for Lorran's touch fill his every thought. Though he doesn't understand it, he knows - Lorran belongs to him.
As his desires grow stronger and wilder than ever before, it seems only Lorran can ease the powerful sexual urges created by the dragon's kiss.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Dragon's Kiss by Tielle St. Clare
The fire burned across her skin, searing its memory into her flesh. Forever would she feel its touch. Crave it. The heat entered her body as a roaring flame and melted the frozen depths of her heart. Need filled her-turning her fear into desire.
She twisted on the bed, trying to tear free of the dream. She knew it was a dream, knew it was only her mind holding her captive but she had no power. She couldn't break its grip.
The voice whispered through her soul and she shook her head.
Her dream-self raced through the forest, running from the creature that wanted to claim her, consume her. He was behind her, ever nearer.
"No, no, please."
Fire broke out across the sky and surrounded her, trapping her. She stopped, faced with the wall of flames. Spinning around, she faced him.
Black eyes stared at her. Inhuman eyes that warned of lust and death. Flames dribbled from his mouth, licking at her legs. She felt the heat but it didn't burn. His long neck craned forward, moving his massive head toward her body. She stumbled backwards and fell to the ground. The rough wool gown flipped up, baring her legs to her thighs. She tried to pull the material down but the creature was there. He nuzzled her hand aside and moved forward, pressing the blunt end of his nose against her sex.
The beast's voice filled her head.
Lorran's scream shattered the dream. She jerked awake as her own voice reverberated through the cabin. The rapid patter of her heart filled her ears, blocking out all sound. She rolled over, curling onto her side and staring blankly across the room.
She could feel him. He was near, ready to possess her. She shivered despite the warmth of her blankets. The creature hadn't wanted to capture her--he'd wanted to possess her, own her very soul.
Dreams had haunted her for years--horrifying images of flames and death. The screams of the victims. But never like this. Never before had she felt her own vulnerability.
She stared into the pale morning light, unwilling to release the scant comfort of her bed and the childish need to hide under the blankets. The dream was still with her.
The scuffle of heavy feet followed by a loud thump on her front door dragged her from under the bedcovers. She pulled on a robe but hesitated at the door. The villagers hadn't exactly welcomed her. There was no reason anyone would visit her at this hour, or any hour for that matter. Except to demand that she leave. Again.
After the terrifying dream, she wasn't up to more threats.
The pounding repeated.
"Mistress! We've need of your help." The deep voice was unfamiliar. "Mistress, are you there?"
It didn't sound like a threat. Still cautious, she cracked open the door and peeked out.
Nothing could have prepared her for the sight. A huge man dressed in full battle leathers with a broad sword belted to his hip crowded her as she opened the door.
"Yes?" she said, backing away as he pressed forward. He entered her house and she saw the reason for his haste--a man, equally as large, draped over his right shoulder. Blood stained the scarred battle leathers covering his legs and the white linen shirt he wore.
"Where can I put him?"
"There," she said, pointing to the bed in the corner. The tiny cabin didn't allow for more than one room. She slept, ate and lived in the single space. Now she'd just offered her bed to a wounded man.
The stranger stalked to the small bed. In a quick but gentle move, he shrugged his burden off his shoulder and caught him, lowering the body onto the mattress. As he stepped away, Lorran saw the truth--the man wasn't just wounded.
A large gouge opened his chest. Blood drenched the torn shirt and dripped down the man's face. She looked at the chest wound.
"That's a dragon bite," she said, speaking the obvious.
"Yes. I couldn't risk taking him to town. I heard you had an interest in dragons."
She nodded. That was probably the nicest thing anyone in town had said about her. Usually they called her a dragon whore.
"Can you help him?"
He asked the question simply. But the answer wasn't simple.
Lorran looked into his eyes. He was young but the grim light of determination told her he knew the wounded man's fate.
"I can nurse him. It will depend on the Gods if he survives."
"And if he survives?" He stared at her with a warrior's eyes--cold and deadly. "Can you help him?"
She knew what he was asking. The warrior waited. She thought about lying, considered giving him the answer he wanted to hear, what anyone would want to hear at this point.
But she couldn't.
"I don't know." She looked down at the torn and crumpled body. The faint smell of sulfur clung to his clothes. Dragonfire. Burn marks stained his leather trousers and the edges of his shirt. The leather chest protector that should have been there was gone. "I can try," she finally said.
"Is there hope? Is there some possibility that it can be stopped?" He placed his hand on the hilt of the broad sword that hung at his waist. "I need to know."
Emotions welled up in Lorran's chest at the subtle threat. She knew what would happen if she said no. The man would die. Better to die than...
"Yes." She turned away. She didn't lie well and feared it might show in her face. She looked at the wounded man. There was something familiar about him. "The sooner I tend to him, the better chance he has." That was a lie as well, but at least it would give her something to do. And it was something to distract the soldier who waited for an answer. She glanced up as she moved to collect water and cloth to clean the wound. The soldier didn't believe her--it was obvious on his face--but maybe, he wanted some hope to cling to as well. In the end, it wouldn't matter. The truth would reveal itself soon enough.
"Do what you can." With that command, he turned and stalked to the door.
"Wait! Where are you going?" She hurried behind him. He couldn't just leave a wounded stranger in her care--particularly not one suffering from a dragon bite. Dragon bites were too uncertain. And the potential damage was too great.
"I have to return," he said, stepping onto the porch. "If rumor gets out that he's been attacked, we'll have a rebellion on our hands."
Lorran watched him walk away. "But--but--I don't know how to get a hold of you. How do you want me to contact you?"
"I'll send a guard from the Castle daily for updates as to his progress."
"The Castle? Who are you?" She looked at the bloodied man in her bed. "Who is he?"
"I'm Riker. That's Kei."
Lorran felt the blood drain from her face.
"Kei the Dragon Slayer," she said unnecessarily.
"Yes." Riker turned and walked away, climbing on the back of his horse before calling out his final instruction. "Tell no one who he is or that he's here. The safety of the Kingdom could depend on it."
His long hair caught the breeze as he kicked the flanks of his horse, spurring the beast along. Lorran watched until he was out of sight and she was left alone to tend to the man who'd killed her husband.
* * * * *
Fire burned through his chest. The flame entered his blood and rode the veins through the depths of his body, burning away the traces of humanity and leaving behind a new creature. The man's body burned. He arched up, pressing down on his shoulders and the heels of his feet, fighting the invasion but it was too late. The beast was there, invading the empty corners of his soul.
"Shh. Relax. Breathe for me. Breathe." The voice poured over his body like cool water, smothering the fire. The tension faded and he dropped back onto the bed. "That's it. Breathe. Long, deep breaths." His eyes were glued shut by pain but he tried to follow her orders. He inhaled and filled his lungs with her scent. It reminded him of sun-warmed hay and a fresh pine wood fire. The sweet smell eased him even further. "That's it. Sleep."
Even with his eyes closed, he could feel her moving away. His hand shot out, snagging her thin wrist. The tiny bone would crack in his hand if he wished it. He tried to ease his grip but couldn't force his hand to relax.
"Stay." The voice didn't sound like his but he knew it was. The memories were returning. He had no idea how long he'd been here or how long he'd been caught in the fire. "Please," he added, some latent etiquette emerging.
"Of course. I'll stay."
She was lying. He knew it. She'd stay until he was asleep and then she'd run. Instinct screamed at him to grab her, hold her. Bind her to him so she couldn't escape.
The human in him grew sick at the thought.
Kei willed his fingers to uncurl from around her wrist. His soul wailed in pain but he rolled away, turning his back to the woman.
He curled his arm beneath his head and concentrated, feeling his body from the inside out. Something was strange--invading his senses, becoming a part of him.
He couldn't open his eyes but he knew Riker was gone. Left alone with the female. He breathed in again and recognized her scent, tasted it on his lips. She was strange, yet familiar. Fog crept over his mind, easing him into sleep--a sleep clouded with dreams.
The woman was there. He couldn't see her face but he knew her taste. Intimately knew her taste. She lay spread before him, offering herself to him. Knowing he was welcome, that she sought his touch, he sank down before her and placed his mouth against her wet, hot sex open to him.
It was perfect. This was what he'd craved all his life. Her flavor, her scent, the feel of her skin against his. He had to have her, hold her.
Panic like he'd never felt in all his years as a warrior dug into his gut, wrapping itself around his genitals like an iron fist. She would leave him. He couldn't let her leave him.
She faded from his hands, disappearing and reappearing a few feet away. He crawled toward her--she backed away. He reached for her. Fear flared in her eyes. She turned, dodging his grip. He clutched at her fading figure. He had to have her, had to keep her. She vanished.
No. Mine! The word raged in his head. She was gone. The heart-crushing panic was on him again and he fought it, sought the strength of a warrior, the stoic face he'd learned as a child. All that remained was silence.
She was gone.
She'd left him.
* * * * *
Lorran chewed on her thumbnail and paced the tiny room. She glanced back every few seconds to the man twisting on her bed. Sweat clung to his body as he struggled. The internal battle would continue. Three days was standard for the trance that accompanied a dragon bite.
He was free of fever. She'd studied enough attacks to know that dragon bites healed quickly and cleanly. But that didn't stop the pain or the torture in the days following the attack. Nothing would ease him.
She'd tried with her husband but her presence had served only to enrage him.
Still, compassion welled up inside her. She couldn't stand to see another human suffer. Giving in to the emotion, she turned her steps across the room and sank down on the edge of the bed.
"Your Majesty, please." He twisted on the sheets fighting and tearing. "Please, Your Majesty." Dammit, she said to her herself. Calling him "Your Majesty" was going to get old. Quickly. She took a deep breath. "Kei, everything will be all right." She didn't know what else to say. Even though lying was against her nature. She wanted to comfort him. "It will be fine," she repeated. Her voice seemed to reach him and he stilled. He never opened his eyes but he turned in her direction. "That's it. Everything will be fine. I promise."
She placed her hand on his shoulder. The warm muscle jumped beneath her fingertips. She'd pulled the tattered shirt from his chest while she'd cleaned the wound. She'd left his battle leathers on while she'd bandaged the torn flesh. But bandages were almost worthless on a dragon bite. The wound was already beginning to heal.
Kei sighed as she continued to lightly rub her palm across his shoulder. She watched the tension ease from his body. Sleep was the best thing for him. Lorran sat for a moment. She'd stay with him until he settled.
It had been five years since she'd seen him--and then it had been after a brief and bloody fight. She wouldn't have recognized him if she'd seen him in the street. His face had matured, losing any soft edges of youth and gaining none of the roundness from excess. His long blond hair was spread across her pillow, framing his masculine face.
He looked every inch a King. Even with his wild hair and bare chest, he looked powerful. Having moved to this Kingdom after her husband's death, she was unfamiliar with the royal family. She wasn't a part of that world any longer. If she remembered correctly, he'd been raised as a warrior, never expecting to be crowned King. She knew why he'd been chosen to lead. This was a man born to rule--a warrior leading a Kingdom of warriors.
Women had been rumored to swoon when he looked at them, so handsome was his face. The sharp cut of his cheekbones and a pale scar next to his eye saved him from any kinship to feminine beauty. His face was carved stone, hard even in rest. She couldn't see the color of his eyes but reports said they were crystal-clear green, the color of new grass.
And soon, all this human beauty would be gone.
Emotions flip-flopped through her mind. Anger at finally facing the man who'd killed Brennek, but compassion as well. How strange was fate that his justice had been delivered in such a fashion? She felt no triumph. No human should have to live through the next three weeks of this man's life.
The silence of the cabin grew oppressive as she sat beside him. Her thoughts began to rattle with things she had to accomplish before daylight ended. There was still work to be done. How long would it take for him to fall asleep? She had things to do--notes to make. It wasn't often that anyone got the chance to study a dragon's victim from bite until the conclusion. She needed to write down her observations.
She looked down at him. His eyes were closed but not squeezed shut in pain, his shoulders seemed relaxed, his breathing even. He was finally resting.
She leaned forward, preparing to stand. His hand slipped across the blankets and landed softly on her leg, holding her. The grip was firm but not painful. Lorran froze. He was asleep. It had to be some kind of reflex. His tan skin looked pale against the dark wool of her skirt. White lines criss-crossed the back of his hand telling of his warrior's life. He may be a King now, but he had been raised a soldier.
Lorran reached down to remove his hand but instead he moved, slipping his large palm up her leg, curling it to match the curve of her thigh, delving his fingers into the space between her legs.
Lorran looked around the empty room, as if someone might see her with a man's hand on her thigh. It was an intimate touch but it couldn't be intentional. The man was asleep or, at minimum, in a healing trance. He obviously didn't know what he was doing.
Kei had a certain reputation but Lorran doubted even he could attempt a seduction just hours after being bitten by a dragon.
His fingers pushed downward, then up, until they brushed the juncture of her thighs.
"Or maybe he could," she said aloud. The flutter of his fingers against her sex stopped her words. This couldn't be happening. It had been years, years since any hand but hers had touched there. Now a stranger, and a King no less, was doing so.
She squirmed, trying to subtly remove him. Instead, Kei's fingers insinuated themselves deeper between her legs until he cupped her, forming his fingers to the line of her sex. A fluttered pleasure zipped through her stomach.
"Please, Your Majesty, Kei...your hand..." She tugged on the heavy weight of his wrist. He growled softly and the lines across his forehead deepened. "Kei, I don't think--" He pressed one long finger along her pussy, teasing her clit with a light touch. "Oh, my." She tensed, sitting up straight on the bed. "I really think--oh dear..." With slow easy strokes, he began massaging her. A spike of need shot through her center. She inhaled sharply. How can this be happening? The man is asleep! His fingers continued to move, the rhythm changing to steady pulses. He seemed to know just where to touch her, the perfect intensity.
"This is a bad idea. I shouldn't let him do this," she told the empty room. But her body ignored the logic of her words. She leaned back and arched her hips upward, opening her legs until he had full access. A soft rumble sounded from Kei's throat--a contented, pleased noise, like the purr of a satisfied lion. He rubbed his whole hand up and down, fully massaging her sensitive lips, heightening the tension across her clit. The light wool of her skirt only heightened the sensation. The heat of his touch flowed through the material and warmed her skin.
Her sex was wet and empty. She moaned softly at the sudden sharp desire to be filled.
Lorran pressed the tips of her fingers into the solid wall of his chest. Her hips rolled in gentle movements as she searched for more of the sensations his hand pulled from deep inside her body. She arched against his fingers, pushing him against her clit, focusing his touch and guiding him.
Heat poured from his fingers and flowed through her pussy, driving her on. The pressure grew. Her shallow breath bounced off the cabin walls, echoing back and filling her ears with the sound. Her hips pumped with certainty now, the sweet tightening building until in one sharp moment, it evaporated, released, scattering tendrils of heat through her body. Lorran tensed and held herself still. The wild pleasure captured her, then slowly faded through her body.
After long moments, when her breath returned to normal, she looked down. She'd left tiny nail marks on Kei's chest.
He didn't seem to notice. He slept, his hand still between her legs, but calmed, not moving. The hint of a smile hovered over his lips--as if he knew what he'd done.
"If that's what he can do in his sleep, no wonder women swoon before him," she whispered.
She continued to sit beside him, half-amazed at what she'd let happen and half-stunned that Kei seemed to have slept through it all. Finally, his breathing evened out and she realized he was truly asleep. When she stood, he let her go with no more than a mumbled protest.
Her freedom lasted twenty minutes before he began to twist on the bed and tear at the bedclothes. She returned to his side and placed her fingers lightly against his chest. He immediately quieted and his hand inched toward her thigh.
"Oh, it's going to be an interesting couple of days."