EPISODE 1

Dragon’s Goddess

by

Debra Elise

 

“Don’t move. Don’t scream…act as if you know me, and all will be well.”

 

Dr. Britt Harmony, engrossed in her thoughts, heard the words, yet their meaning was lost on her. She had an important speech to present. Perhaps the most important of her career. She offered a quick nod to the man hoping he wouldn’t realize she had no idea what he’d said. She tried to make a habit of never being rude to people, but she had no time to deal with anyone right now.

She continued striding towards the conference hall; all thought focused on her upcoming speech. She stumbled to a halt as large combat boots came into view. Her gaze traveled up the man blocking her path. A man in a dark gray, long-sleeved Henley, and black cargo pants, a man who unnervingly reminded her of a modern-day highlander.

When she moved to step around him, he slid sideways in front of her. She stopped short as a spark of unease hit her, followed by a snap of desire.

At the dual hit to her senses, he had her full intention. She gazed upward and took in his sharp, chiseled features, long silver hair twisted at the temples in intricate braids and pulled severely back tied into a leather holder. Her breath hitched as she locked onto his narrowed eyes. Their color, an odd near black, swallowed the pupil with a ring of dark green around the irises. But that wasn’t the most bizarre part. No, it wasn’t the color of his eyes, but the instant flash of light as their gazes clashed.

A full body flush engulfed her.

His gaze went from intense to wide-eyed and confused as the corners of his mouth turned downward.

She swore she heard him say, “Tis not possible.”

 But she didn’t have time to figure out or ask what he meant. Her boss was waiting to see how her announcement was received. This was the most important day of her career, and she needed his blessing to proceed with the next phase of her research. This would not be done in her lab, her office, or some centuries-old and dusty library. No, it would need to be in the field where she worked best. If he turned her down, then this was potentially her last day as a fellow at the London conservatory.

 Without warning, he pushed up against the wall. Her forehead bounce checked off his shoulder. Britt raised a hand to the bruised area as a thick, muscled arm wound around her waist, and she was pulled into a hard, unyielding body. His heat overwhelmed her senses, and she jerked away from at the close, too intimate contact, “Listen, I think you have me mistaken with someone else. I—”

His large hand pinned her face into the man’s massive chest, effectively cutting off her protest.

Shooting pain erupted above her right eye. Britt raised her head to get a closer look at the face of her attacker. But her head throbbed from the impact; her vision blurred she was unable to make out any more details. She needed to escape. Now. Her life depended on it.

She stomped on the stranger’s foot and lifted her leg to knee him in the groin but froze when she noticed a knife in his hand. A very long, very sharp blade that emitted an ethereal glow. Mesmerized more at first by the blade’s beauty than by its wicked intent. She shook her head in hopes of regaining her full vision and clearing her thoughts.

Scream. Scream the building down. As she heeded her internal command, she took in a breath to scream for help and inhaled an earthy scent mingled with a bite of the sea. It overwhelmed her and prevented her scream from forming.

His scent imprinted upon her and relaxed her. It was—familiar— yet odd as she was sure she’d never encountered it before today.

Her gaze slammed into his. His eyes were not black as she’d thought, but a deep, dark green, several shades darker than her own pale green. And his expression matched the shock she felt.

Both now frozen, neither one of them seemed able to look away. Seconds ticked by before the wanna-be highlander let loose a growl, its vibration resonated in her core, and her stomach dipped at the tenor of his voice. Confused by her reaction, and his, she was robbed of the opportunity to defend herself as he recovered first and propelled them towards the exit. Britt struggled to find words to make him stop. To make sense of what was happening to her.

She fought the hold he had on her only to be met with an unmovable force. Sure he was MMA big, but she worked out and kept her body in top physical condition. She’d spent most of her life preparing for danger, but until this very moment, she hadn’t had to put her years of training to the test.

Why today of all days? Her chance at the much-needed funding slipped away with each step taken in the opposite direction of her boss’ office.

“Lass, you need to understand two things straight off. One, I’m stronger than you, and two, your lecturing days are over.”

The sound of his voice elicited another spark of awareness. Ignoring her body’s reaction, she tested his first theory again and wrenched her arm in the process. Ow! Okay, so he’s strong, freakishly so. As for his second point, he couldn’t have been more wrong. “You obviously have the wrong person. Perhaps I look like whomever you were searching for, but I can assure you I would remember if we’d met before. I never forget an asshole.”

“This is not a case of mistaken identity, Dr. Harmony. You’re the senior archeologist for the Ancient Artifact Conservatory of London. You graduated, with honors, in archeology with a minor in mythology from Yale, and you’re on your way to convince your boss that you need funding to go back into the field.

Britt dug in her heels. “How do you–”

“Because it’s my job to know. To protect.”

“Me?”

“No. The world.”

Her heart skipped, and her body went cold at his words.

 

She looked the man up and down again. He was straight out of central casting. Someone was pulling a prank on her. Yes, that’s what this was. She’d seen signs for a movie audition in the lobby of the hotel. A local production company was seeking an actor to portray the hero—a Highlander. Men had been coming and going wearing kilts of varying types of plaids since she arrived from London yesterday. She’d even been hit on by a few of them in the bar last night. This one was taking his role a bit too seriously.

Maybe someone had paid him to do this? She wouldn’t have put it past Greg, her creep of a coworker, to orchestrate this farce as payback. ‘Jealous much’ should have been the whiny researcher’s middle name. At least he’d chosen a convincing actor. “Look, Mister. I’m not sure how much Greg paid you, but I’ll double it if you go back and join your fellow actors. I don’t have time to play. I’m the keynote–”

“Lass—”

“Doctor.”

“Lass, I’m no actor, and I’ve never spoken to or met a man named Greg. Rest assured, every word I’ve said is truth. Now move.”

He grabbed her above the elbow and propelled her through the milling crowd in the hall outside the main conference room.

Five minutes. Five minutes until she needed to be at the lectern. Dammit. She was not going to miss her opportunity.

She pulled her arm again, but he would not budge. The man was a solid mass of granite. “Tell me who you are right now, why you’re dragging me away from my job, or I will scream my head off.”

 

He ignored her demand and managed to get them within twenty feet of the main exit. Now in full panic mode, she searched for someone to help her. He pulled her tighter to him, squeezing her. Even if she wanted to scream, she could not take a full breath, and the reality of the situation set in. Oh my god. Oh my god, this is really happening! Britt began wiggling to loosen his hold to no avail.

She took in what air she could and managed to let out a weak sounding, “Help me, please?” Britt moved her head slightly to the right and focused on a group of older women as she tried again to call out. They stared back at her and her kidnapper with some interest but were still too far away to hear her muted pleas.

She felt him run a hand down her arm and then pat her on her head. To anyone paying attention to them, he probably looked as if he was comforting her instead of kidnapping her. The word bounced around in her head. Why would anyone want to kidnap her?

Now steps away from the exit, she noticed a man who equaled him in height standing next to a dirt-covered Land Rover just beyond the revolving doors. He lifted a hand, and her kidnapper returned the signal with a nod.

“Once we’re outside, I’ll explain further. But right now, I need you to calm down.”

“Fuck calm. You’re not taking me anywhere.” Every word hurt, and her voice held a tinny pitch fear as he kept his arm tight around her diaphragm.

Frantic to end this charade or whatever the hell it was, Britt stopped walking and put all her weight on her heels to keep him from dragging her further.

That worked for all of point five seconds. Her world tilted, and she was swung up into his arms and cradled against his massive chest.  She took her first full breathe in minutes, inhaling his spicy scent. Instead of using the opportunity to scream her head off, a sense of contentment overcame her, and a pull in her abdomen and the intense need to climb him and let him do whatever he wanted confused her.

She shook her head to ward off the unwelcome sexual desire toward this man who meant her harm. For a moment, she thought maybe he’d drugged her somehow as her body went lax.

“Now, Lass. I’ll only do this one more time. I know how much you enjoy me carrying you across thresholds, but ‘tis the last time. Having you so close gives me too many ideas, and I don’t want to embarrass these nice folks.” His voice boomed and carried a hint of sensuality.

His words broke her out of the weird spell she’d fallen under, and Britt watched in amazement as a smile splilt his face before he made a show of looking at a few people who finally stopped to watch the spectacle. What was it with this guy? Did he really think he could get away with forcing her to his will?

“Ugh. No one believes your bullshit. Put me down.” Did he think anyone with a lick of sense would believe such nonsense?

“Look around, Lass, no one is paying attention.”

She looked, and he was right except for the doorman, who was grinning and propping the revolving doors open so they could pass through without falling.

If he got her in that car… no, it was not going to happen. She opened her mouth, and in the time it took for her to suck in a mouthful of air, he’d stopped walking, flipped her to face him. Her legs dangled, her chest plastered against his, and he kissed her.

The kiss was surprisingly soft as he stroked his tongue across her lips for entrance. In a moment of clarity, she let him kiss her believing she could use it as a distraction to her advantage. Except she miscalculated, and his scent affected her as before, and her body melted into his. Britt opened for him and took all he gave her. Their tongues dueling, her breathing accelerated. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she heard herself scream, ‘fight him,’ and she pulled herself back from his sensual onslaught.

Britt wound a hand up behind his neck and found the leather strap holding his long hair, and tried to yank his head back before attempting to knee him in the groin. Except her alignment was off, and she connected with his upper thigh, brushing against an unmistakable erection. She froze at his reaction to her matching her own desire, as confusing as it was, pulsed through her system.

He broke from their kiss with a grin. “The name is Quinn Smith, this is my brother Roane, and I’m only going to tell you once—no kicking. It’s not ladylike.”

She snorted and did it again. Only higher, and this time she scored. His eyes widened. Shock and anger flashed in his eyes.

 “Well, good thing I’m no lady, asshole.” She turned her own anger into action and pushed off his chest, landing on the pavement ready to run. She stood up, but before she could take a step, she slammed into another granite wall. His friend had moved and was now blocking her only hope of escape.

“Quinn. You’re not going to let this slip of a woman best you, are you?” Roane asked, his voice full of humor.

Incredible. That’s the word that flashed into her mind as Britt assessed the situation. Gone was any hope of making it back into the symposium and triumphantly presenting her findings and hopefully securing more funding to take what the scroll she now possessed held tantalizing insight into her career-long quest to find the Emerald Tablets.

She clutched the strap of her messenger bag, which had thankfully stayed put during her ordeal, and prayed they didn’t ask for it. She hadn’t been forced back into the car–yet. There was still a chance for escape.

Both men continued to speak as if she wasn’t there. She scanned the area for another option when she noticed a few people milling about and pointing toward them. She shouted to one but got no further than “Hey!”

Quinn lifted a hand, and Britt gasped as a wave of energy pulsed towards the small crowd. Each person shook their head and moved on without giving her or her captors another look.

“What the hell did you do?” She lifted her face to Quinn. “What was that?”

He shrugged his shoulder. “A mere interruption to their memory. They’ll be fine. Now, let’s walk over to my rover without any more kicking, hmm?”

She looked between them. Both men wore bored looks as if they kidnapped women every day. She’d already tried and failed at running, so there was no other choice but to resort to a weapon she loathed to use. Tears. “Please. Let me go. I won’t tell anyone. I promise.” She sniffed and wiped away a tear from her chin.

Quinn’s partner in crime looked at her with the oddest expression considering her performance was spot on—in her opinion. Perhaps he’d never seen a woman cry before. She snorted. Considering his good looks, she found that hard to believe. Men like them wouldn’t lack for female companionship, and if they’d met under different circumstances, perhaps she and Quinn could… oh, my lord. Now she was fantasizing about hooking up with the wanna-be highlander? Get a hold of yourself, Britt.

“Enough. You have something we want, nay need, and your fake tears are useless, Lass.”

“Quinn?” Roane interrupted.

“Walk to the car without another outburst, and once inside, perhaps we can negotiate–”

“Negotiate? There is nothing to negotiate except letting me go.”

“Quinn. I really need you to—”

Ignoring Roane, he once again took her by the elbow, walked her toward the vehicle, opened the door, and nudged her inside. Freedom disappeared as Britt crawled inside the ancient rover.

Quinn followed, grabbed her thigh as she scrambled for the opposite door locking her in place, and latched the seatbelt over her lap. His brisk movements still managed to turn her on despite the realization she was now truly

“Safety first.” His eyes flashed a darker green and without taking gaze eyes off her, he spoke to Roane. “Drive.”

 

If you enjoyed this episode READ MORE DRAGON’S GODDESS:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099H3P5D8