Dragon's Fire:A Reverse Harem Romance(3)

By: Lili Zander & Rory Reynolds


He nods, still pale, but he must have some kitty-cat-shifter in his ancestry because he clambers down that ladder with feline grace. I giggle at the idea of a cat shifter who’s afraid of heights as I follow him. Thank heavens I have gloves—the metal is painfully cold.

“What now?” Pieter asks me when we reach the ground.

I look around. We’re in a narrow alley behind the building. There are no street lights here. It’s pitch dark, and I have a very bad feeling about this. “Silas is on his way,” I whisper. “He’ll be here in less than five minutes.”

“Umm, Aria?” Pieter’s voice has a distinct quiver in it. “I don’t think we have five minutes.”

I hear a low, menacing growl. Two yellow eyes gleam in the darkness. With shaking hands, I reach for the flashlight on my toolbelt and direct the narrow beam in the direction of the growl, and when I see the hulking black shape, my heart jumps in my throat.

Panther shifter.

Fuck, fuck, fuck. We’ve jumped from the frying pan directly into the fire.

I’m strong for a Norm, but shifters are a different league entirely. Panthers are legendary for their viciousness. Pieter moves behind me as the shifter crouches down. “It’s going to pounce, Aria.”

Tell me something I don’t know, buddy.

“Hey, kitty,” I say soothingly, staring directly at the big cat. Madam Buttface won’t pounce unless I turn my back on her, and I’m hoping this panther is the same way.

The growling intensifies. The creature paws the ground, and I try not to notice how sharp its claws are. Then thankfully, the loud roar of a car engine drowns out the panther. Headlights light up the alley, and Silas’s grey Corolla rolls up behind us. “Get in,” he shouts.

Only a fool turns their back on a big cat. I back toward the car, never taking my eyes off the shifter. It roars loudly as I inch away, sensing that it’s about to lose its prey. I watch it crouch into a leap, and then it jumps into the air, making straight for me.

I make a dash for it, scrambling head first into Silas’ car. I almost make it unscathed, but the claws slash out before I can slam the door shut. My leg explodes with pain.

And then we’re speeding away.

“It scratched you?” Pieter asks grimly.

“Yes.” Blood wells from the wound, soaking the leather seat. The panther has my scent now. I’m never going to be able to return to MagLab.

I almost died tonight, and for what? My bank account is healthy, but you can’t spend money when you’re dead.

“Tell me you’re going to give this up, Aria. I’m too old to watch you throw yourself into danger.” Silas sounds shaky. “Please?”

I tried to steal from him once, and instead of turning me into the cops, he took me in. He saved me from the streets, and he treated me like family.

He’s never asked me for anything. He’s always been supportive. Always been there for me.

Now it’s my turn. “I’m retiring,” I tell the wolf shifter. “Tomorrow morning, I’ll look for a real job.” I lean forward and grip Silas’ shoulder. “No more thieving. I promise.”





2





Aria





One year later…





It is the darkest hour of the night. The moon is hidden behind a thick layer of clouds, and the air feels heavy. Goosebumps cover my skin, and when I reach for the sword strapped to my waist, the metal is cold to the touch.

Inexplicably, I recognize this sword. It’s called Endellion, an ancient Celtic word for fire.

Why do I know that?

I’m standing in front of a tall castle. I’ve never been here—I’d definitely remember something this creepy and Gothic—but again, I seem to know it anyway. This is the castle of the Rogue Prince, and those that enter it uninvited can never leave.

The blood-red ruby hanging on a thin gold chain around my neck blazes against my skin, giving me strength. The Dark Dragon has caused so much misery. He has trapped the magic of the Dragon Princes and perverted it for his own wicked use. He has cursed them to spend their immortal lives searching for their true mates, never being able to find them.

But the thing that tipped me over the edge?

He went after my family. He imprisoned Silas. And that is a line that cannot be crossed without consequences.

Gideon Zyrian must die.

I walk through long arched hallways of stone, searching for any sign of Silas. Torches blaze from metal brackets on the walls, but their light doesn’t pierce the gloom. In the darkness, I hear whispers, and a ghostly figure slides up to me, its eyes wild and staring. Aria, turn back.

My fingers tighten over my sword, but I don’t draw it. The wraiths—spirits of all that have died here—cannot hinder me from my quest.

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