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Paranormal hunter box se.., p.23
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       Paranormal Hunter Box Set, Books 1-3: Sonnet Vale, Phantom City, & Demon Touched, p.23

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  The newborn blinked up at her, its tongue still crawling over her goose-pimpled skin. She watched in wonder as blue and white fire engulfed her entire arm without burning an inch of it, and she swallowed hard when she realized that all her scars were rapidly disappearing— every trace of the vampires who’d attacked her gone from her hand, wrist, and forearm.

  With a fierce, animalistic roar, Brecon turned to her and yelled, “Feed it your blood or it will kill you!”

  Thwack!

  That pause in the fight earned him a swat in the nose.

  Her heart skipped a beat at his words. “Are you serious?”

  Just then, the dragonling’s violet eyes hazed over red, its tongue and flames drew back, disappearing behind its tiny, razor-sharp fangs. The creature inched forward until its head came down to rest in her lap. She met its gaze without flinching. “You want payment for the healing, I suppose.”

  She could have sworn the newborn nodded. And she couldn’t help but notice the knowledge in its eyes, the gentleness in its movements as its nose nudged her elbow and the bumpy scales on the side of its elongated face rubbed across her arm.

  “Alright then, seems like a fair trade.”

  She unsheathed her dagger, and with her hand trembling, drew a line across the fleshy part of her palm. “Here you go…but be sure to leave some for me, okay?”

  She pulled the knife back and watched the dragon, its talons now latched onto her wrist, drink its fill. It was the craziest yet most natural thing she’d ever seen. And just when she thought the dragon would drink her dry, it released its suction and rolled over onto its side with a whirr of contentment.

  Bleeding, but not badly, Sonnet turned to the dragon and werewolf. “Will one of you win, or stop this madness already? Another egg is about to hatch!”

  Her words must have reached them, because they both stopped dead in their tracks, the punches, kicks, and spins ceasing.

  Brecon’s breathing was labored from exhaustion. His burning hands fell to his side, immediately extinguishing, as he sneered at the wolf, “I have to give credit where it’s due…you’re harder to kill than expected. But I will kill you, mark my words.”

  “If that’s the price I have to pay to save my mate’s life,” Dorian lifted a stubborn chin, “well then, so be it.”

  As they argued, a tapping sound and then a whirling of undiluted magic reached Sonnet’s senses, similar to what she’d felt right before the first egg hatched.

  “Brecon…here comes another one! Get your ass over here now!” she snapped.

  Sonnet pushed up onto her feet and stumbled back, away from the trembling egg, for fear she’d be stuck feeding yet another dragonling her blood. Her arm was already numb from the first bloodletting.

  As she moved away, the first dragonling lifted its head, liquid violet eyes following her every step, and suddenly the creature flew to her. Then she—Sonnet sensed the dragonling was a female—tucked in her wings and curled her horned head and red scaled body up into a ball at her feet.

  “Well…” She looked down at the sleeping dragon. “I think she likes me.”

  Brecon walked over to stand before her. And she noticed that he was wearing clothes again. He gave her a serious look. “She’s chosen to bond with you, so yeah, you could say that.”

  Sonnet tried to speak, half coughed, half laughed, then tried again. “Given the week I’m having, this doesn’t even surprise me.”

  Chapter Eleven

  The two men stood in the middle of the room, arguing…again. The second dragonling had hatched, and was fast asleep next to the third egg that had yet to hatch. Apparently those two were siblings…Brecon’s nephews.

  The newborn, which now had her spiky tail curled around the bottom half of Sonnet’s leg, was an orphan, just like she was, abandoned at the base of the Blackstone Clan Mountain—an orphaned dragonling that apparently had claimed Sonnet as her own.

  “There’s only one egg left to hatch! Please, if you have any heart to speak of, let me use its first fire to heal my wife!”

  Brecon seemed unable to sympathize with Dorian. He had, after all, kidnapped his clan’s offspring. “And reward your sins against my people? Never!”

  Dorian’s fangs elongated and he held his fists tightened into balls at his side. “She is an innocent!”

  Sonnet looked over at the sleeping she-wolf. Maybe it was the birth of the dragonlings, or a rare show of sympathy for a supernatural creature she’d already judged guilty, but she wanted to help the poor woman. Even though it warred with every instinct she possessed.

  Mind made up, she took a fortifying breath, laid a hand on the dragonlings head at her feet and began to absently pet between its horns. “Brecon,” she called out.

  He didn’t answer.

  “Brecon!” she said louder.

  “What!” he roared back.

  “I think we should help them.”

  He slowly turned to her. “No.” There was threat in his deep voice, and she also detected something else—a weakening of his resolve, maybe? Or it could have been wishful thinking on her part. No matter what it was, her mind was made up.

  Sonnet smiled over at him. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”

  Dorian rushed to stand before her with a crazed look of hope dawning in his eyes. “I don’t understand your change of heart, but I’m grateful to you for it, Princess.”

  Ah, so he did remember who she was, and even still, he had attacked them upon entering the room. Indecision warred as to whether or not she should still save the she-wolf, her sixth sense no doubt trying to sway her back to her more ruthless hunter nature—to let her darkest instincts careen out of control like a fast-moving locomotive.

  The sound of a heartbeat fluttered over to her, and then next, she heard the sharp crack of the third egg readying to open from across the room.

  She shook off the doubts and urges—there was no time for them— and the dragon tail from around her leg, and jogged over to the makeshift nest. Looking down on the sleeping black dragon and the hatching egg ,she quickly realized that even with her boosted strength, there was no way in hell she could lift the cumbersome egg, not without help.

  Sonnet waved Dorian over. “Can you help?” she asked.

  His face lit up, and with urgent strides, he moved across the room.

  When he was a few feet from reaching the nest, the dragon roared in protest. Heat brushed the back of Sonnet’s neck as he snapped, “Get away from my nephew, wolf! I’ll do it myself!”

  Sonnet stepped between the two men as Brecon chewed up the space separating them with supernatural speed. There was no time for another fight or pissing contest—because she could feel the energy around her burst with the dawning of a new life.

  Brecon hefted the egg and sneered at the wolf. “I will not allow him to feed from you or your wife after the healing. I won’t risk a chance of bonding.” He lifted a stubborn chin. “My nephew will drink from me.”

  The meaning of his words was absolute, and Sonnet kept her mouth shut, offering no opinions about his decision.

  The wolf scowled at him but glanced between the egg and his wife. He nodded and jogged over to her. When he reached her side, he leaned over the bed and kissed her forehead. “You are going to live, my love, the princess has decreed it.”

  Sonnet scrunched her brows together in confusion. “Wait.” She made eye contact with Brecon after he’d set the dragon egg down on the floor next to the she-wolf’s side of the bed. “You’re allowing this because I said so?” she asked.

  He half laughed at her question. “Why would I agree to it otherwise? I should be killing the prick, not saving his wife’s life.”

  “I consider your gift an honor,” Dorian said from his seated position on the bed. It was the calmest and the most aware she’d ever seen the alpha wolf, it was as if his wife’s frail condition acted as a blast of water splashed in his face to calm him. He lifted her hand and brushed a kiss across her pale knuckles. “A debt of
gratitude will be owed to you and your dragon clan. Anything you ask of my pack will be granted.”

  After the dragon only nodded with some reluctance at Dorian, a gesture Sonnet considered to be a huge step in the opposite direction of murder, he walked over to stand at the foot of the bed.

  Sonnet remained standing a little farther back from everyone, with her new fire-breathing bestie at her side, waiting for the show to begin.

  After only a few minutes, a husky blue and black baby dragon emerged from the egg. My god, she thought, it’s enormous. It was the biggest of the three by almost a third.

  “Wake up, my darling, it’s time,” Dorian whispered in his wife’s ear.

  Her lids fluttered briefly, but that was it. She was too weak to fully open her eyes.

  When the dragon opened his, however, they were a brilliant midnight blue. The dark orbs moved around the room until they came to a stop on the she-wolf. It was if he sensed her need for healing. The bed creaked as he hefted himself up out of the crumbling egg and onto the bed—which ended up only fitting half his body.

  Brecon crossed his arms over his chest and let out a low rumble. He wasn’t happy about the situation, but she already knew that.

  The dragonlings eyes flashed red, and his tongue snaked out to lick a flaming path across the she-wolf’s forehead.

  Her eyes instantly opened. They went wide, frantically searching for something, and after they came to rest on Dorian, she soon realized what was happening and settled down.

  The dragon turned his head, tracing his fire down the crevice of her breasts, and stopped as soon as he let loose a fireball that rotated over her stomach—and then, as if it had been swallowed, the healing inferno disappeared.

  “That’s enough.”

  The blue dragon turned toward the sound of Brecon’s dominating voice and growled wildly.

  With a groan, the she-wolf sat up, and Dorian pulled her into his lap, away from the riled beast.

  It was obviously time for his first feeding.

  At Sonnet’s feet, the dragon shifted her weight to stand in front of her. She wasn’t sure why the dragon positioned herself so, but had a hunch it was a protective gesture, because of all the growling going on in the room.

  Brecon glared at his newly hatched nephew. “You will drink from me—not her.”

  As the dragonling stared at him, Sonnet could have sworn he’d understood. Before her next thought, the dragon leapt into the air at Brecon.

  The feeding was quick, lasting almost as long as the peace in the room.

  Chapter Twelve

  The sound of plodding claws preceded a flow of wolves as they flooded into the room in groups of four, all twelve of them lined up behind the largest wolf.

  Dorian nodded at the leader, Cade, who in turn shifted back into human form.

  “Brother, is everything alright?” Cade asked.

  Dorian nodded. “The dragon saved Letha; she is getting better by the second.”

  “But…” He turned to face Brecon in shock. “The princess made it sound as if you meant to do something different.” Shame filled his eyes. “And I was about to let you.” With a low growl, he turned his head. “I did let you.”

  “I don’t fault your hesitation. You couldn’t go against a royal, Brother. The magic in demon-hell makes it almost impossible to do so,” Dorian tried to explain.

  Cade went to his knees as Letha climbed out of her lover’s lap and traipsed across the room to stand before him. She swayed on her feet, all the wolves moving forward to help her, but she held out a hand for them not to.

  “I’m just a little bit woozy, but okay, really.” Letha stood for a moment, her once ivory complexion now tan and smooth. She took in a deep breath, her lashes fluttering over a striking set of blue eyes as she smiled at Cade. “For you to even be here now is a testament to your loyalty and strength. Thank you.”

  Dorian moved to stand beside Letha. “She is right, Cade. Your loyalty is unrivaled. The fault for all of this mess lies squarely on my shoulders, Brother. I’m the one who trespassed on dragon lands. I’m the one who took what belonged to them. And I will be the wolf who pays the price for it.”

  Brecon grunted his agreement but remained quiet as the wolves talked.

  Cade’s gaze rose up, and for the first time, he made eye contact with the alpha wolf. He flinched a little, emphasizing Dorian’s power over him.

  “You forgive me?” He made a sound of disbelief.

  Both of the alpha pair’s lips curled up in smiles, but it was Letha who nodded and said, “We do.”

  Cade surged upright, took a hand from both the wolves into each of his own and tipped his head over them. “I don’t know what to say, other than, thank you.”

  Sonnet cleared her throat.

  Letha’s gaze swung to her, and so did Brecon’s.

  “Sorry to interrupt, but Brecon, we should go.”

  The dragon unfolded his arms and nodded once. “Yes, it’s time we take the dragonlings home.”

  Dorian moved toward Brecon.

  Sonnet braced herself for the worst as the agitated baby dragon made a grumbling sound at her feet.

  Brecon glared at him, his eyes flaring with warning. But the alpha wolf ignored it and stepped before him, putting his hand out for the dragon to take.

  Brecon sneered at the gesture of peace. “We are not friends, wolf. Not by a long shot.”

  Sonnet winced, waiting for the inevitable fight to happen—and fortunately, it never did.

  Dorian shrugged and pulled his hand back. “Have it your way. I still owe you a favor. I’ll be waiting to hear from you so that I can make good on it.”

  Brecon let out a fast whistle, and all three dragonlings came to attention, even the lavender-eyed baby girl at her feet. He signaled at them to follow with his hand. After starting for the exit, he shook his head. “You’ll be waiting for that ’til the grave.”

  That got a guffaw loud enough to prove just how healed the she-wolf really was. She shook her head, smiled. “Don’t worry. Because of you and the princess, the grave is a far way off for me. Thank you for saving me, and for not killing my stubborn husband, dragon.”

  Sonnet and Brecon were halfway out the door when they heard the low voice of an offended alpha wolf say, “Did you really have to bring up the fact that he probably could have killed me? I have my pride, woman.”

  A huff of frustration from Dorian, and Letha’s soft giggle, trailed behind them as they left the conclave.

  Chapter Thirteen

  It had been two full days since Sonnet was banished to demon-hell. And she was counting every last second until she could return home.

  She thumbed the handle of the dagger her brother had given her. It held a special power of its own and it zapped her fingertips as they moved over the grooves and curves of its surface.

  She was supposed to bring the demon weapon back with a dragon’s blood coating its blade.

  Remy had explained to her, the night before she’d left to help find the dragonlings, he would be able to use the magically infused weapon to pry open the portal; the same one he’d used to travel into demon-hell with.

  At first it had sounded like an easy enough plan—take Brecon’s blood and be on her way. After all, she’d shed the blood of a supernatural before; too many times to count, actually. So what was one more notch on her belt?

  But now, after getting to know Brecon and some of his clan, it seemed like another ploy to greedily make use of the dragon species, and their incredibly rare magic, for her own gain. It was the exact same thing that Dorian did to heal his wife.

  Guilt churned rapidly in her gut. Yeah. She was feeling like a complete asshole.

  It took her a minute to shuffle through her thoughts, and what she was left with was this—she had to at least ask him to help her.

  Ask…not demon-princess-Jedi-mind-request-it of him. His free will had to be respected and part of the bargain. After all, Brecon could’ve easily slaughtered the wolf
pair. But he hadn’t. Which lead Sonnet to believe that he wasn’t such a hard-ass after all, and considering what she was about to ask of him, that fact was refreshing, and gave her hope.

  Her lips parted to ask him if she could borrow some of his blood but instead, she ended up clearing her throat.

  Maybe she’d ask him after they returned the dragonlings to the clan, she thought. After all, there was no need to upset him around the babies.

  Brecon jumped into the air and shifted into his dragon form as they neared the wildland borders. Once finished, he flew back down, and Sonnet glanced up into the air and watched as the dragonlings changed trajectory and also dropped to the ground. Poppy—as Sonnet had started calling the female dragon, because of the way she’d popped out of her shell—used her horned nose to nudge the side of her leg.

  Sonnet smiled, the dragon’s obvious adoration giving her genuine pleasure.

  “Did you enjoy your first flight?” Sonnet asked, crouching low to the ground, her arms wrapped around the dragon’s neck as she gave the creature a tender squeeze.

  While she embraced the baby dragon, another pang of pain shot through her system. Her brief happiness disappearing as she realized just how much she was going to miss Poppy when all this was over.

  Sonnet swallowed her grief and walked over to Brecon. The ginormous black dragon extended his neck and knelt down with a growl of annoyance. Apparently the wild creature didn’t like to be ridden. But she figured he could just suck it up, she did after all just save the babies. With a long leap, she hopped onto his back and held on for dear life.

  A hum of magic buzzed through the air as all four dragons took flight. Brecon picked up speed and shot straight up, almost bucking Sonnet off his back.

 
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