Dragon it OUt: Blackhaven Manor, Book 3
As some of the last remaining dragon shifters in the world, Uriah Maddock and his siblings are regarded as something akin to royalty in the paranormal community. It’s one of the main reasons their hotel has become such a coveted destination for Otherlings. All he wants, though, is to be left alone. He’s not looking for love or romance. In fact, he actively avoids relationships and all their damning consequences.
Too bad his meddling sister didn’t get the memo.
Kit Meyers is pretty sure he’s hit rock bottom when his car breaks down in the small, mountain town of Echo Falls. He has no money, no place to live, and no prospects. When a not-so-chance encounter leads him to the infamous Blackhaven Manor, he figures he’ll stay for a few weeks, earn some cash, then head back to the safety of the road. But all that changes when he meets a surly dragon shifter with wounded eyes and even more baggage than himself.
Uriah can’t commit to a houseplant, let alone to being someone’s mate. Convinced that Kit is better off without him, he’s prepared to leave everything behind if that means the skittish human will be safe and happy. Yet, as the days pass, he keeps finding new excuses to stay, until he’s finally forced to admit that he’s not going anywhere.
Especially when he realizes he’s not the only dangerous person in Kit’s life.
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Uriah resisted the urge to roll his eyes as he returned to his desk. He didn’t like conducting interviews, and he certainly didn’t have the knack for it that Skye did. However, he wasn’t completely useless. Besides, as much as it pained him to admit it, if he did decide to take over the new hotel, his sister had a point. Hiring a new staff would be one of his first duties, so he might as well get used to it.
He took a moment to straighten his black T-shirt and smooth any wrinkles from his dark-wash jeans. Then, he tidied up his desk as best he could without disrupting the work he’d been doing. On the bright side, if he did the interviews, maybe he could talk Skye into finishing the inventory.
A soft knock sounded at his office door just as he settled down in his desk chair. A young woman with a pixie cut in a startling shade of bubblegum pink entered the room when he waved her in. She approached his desk cautiously, her hand shaking when she passed him what he assumed was her application and resume.
He skimmed it quickly, asked her a few appropriate questions, then hired her on the spot—pending a background check—to replace one of the missing housekeepers. Sadly, the next three interviews didn’t go nearly as well.
One guy had spent the entire interview flirting with him. Another young lady had been so terrified she had actually burst into tears and ran from the room. The other male had been decent, but unfortunately, Uriah had no choice but to send him away when he realized the kid was only sixteen.
An hour later, he had conducted eleven interviews and only managed to find one more member for the housekeeping staff and one porter. He didn’t even know if they needed another bellhop, but the girl had been sweet, and she’d clearly needed the job.
For all his bravado, by the time he reached the last name on the list—according to the two-word text Skye had sent him—he was starting to remember why he didn’t do interviews.
Tentative, muffled footsteps reached his ears first, followed by a nervous cough and a long, shuddering sigh. Goddess, he could smell the anxiety wafting in the air, and the guy hadn’t even reached the office door yet. Taking pity on the poor soul, Uriah arranged his features to appear as non-threatening as possible.
As the footsteps crept closer, however, the scent began to change, gradually deconstructing all of his careful preparation. The nervousness was still there, still the most prominent fragrance, but it was now tinged with something sweet and almost earthy. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, couldn’t place the scent, but it was the most intoxicating thing he’d ever smelled.
It called to him, beckoned him closer. As if lassoed by some invisible line, he found himself halfway out of his seat by the time the newcomer reached the threshold of the doorway. That close, the scent hit him like a battering ram, nearly knocking him off his feet. If that wasn’t bad enough, it emanated from the most gorgeous man he’d ever seen.
Thick, wheat-colored curls haloed a round, youthful face with soft lips, a petite nose, and big, mesmerizing eyes the color of cinnamon. A baggy shirt and loose-fitting khakis flared around a slender, narrow frame, and the little bit of exposed skin on display looked too pale, too delicate.
That single word boomed inside his head, finally shaking him free of his hypnotic state. His mood plummeted, his emotions spinning from elation to fury in the span of seconds. And to think he’d actually believed his lying, conniving, meddling sister.
“Practice my ass,” he grumbled under his breath.
“Umm…Mr. Maddock?” The young man came forward a couple of steps. “I’m—”
“Sit,” Uriah barked, cutting him off and pointing at the armchair in front of the desk.
“Oh. Right. Okay.” He hurried to do what had been asked of him.
Sparing him only a passing glance, Uriah stalked past him and marched toward the door. “Stay there,” he commanded. “I’ll be back.”
“Is there a problem?”
Even in his anger, his instincts wouldn’t let him leave the room without offering some type of comfort to his mate. “You didn’t do anything wrong.” He still couldn’t bring himself to look at the guy. Instead, he stared through the open doorway and growled. “I just have to go murder my sister.”
Night and Fae: Blackhaven Manor, Book 2 is now available at Amazon and free to read with your Kindle Unlimited subscription!
Colorful and eccentric, Leelan Rivers knows he’s a little too “extra” for some people. Since those people are exceedingly boring, he couldn’t care less about their opinion. Yet, when a night out leads him right into the arms of fate, he never expected the broody vampire to deny the connection between them.
Wealthy and powerful, Sebastian Delgado is used to people wanting things from him. He’s not even surprised at the lies they’ll tell to get them. So, when Leelan claims to be his mate, he’s skeptical to say the least. Leelan might be beautiful and enchanting, but Sebastian has been disappointed too many times in the past not to be suspicious.
All it takes is one bite to reveal the truth but claiming Leelan as his own comes with its own set of problems. Especially when he realizes he’s not the only vampire at Blackhaven Manor interested in the faerie.
“No need to play hard to get. You know you want it, or you wouldn’t be dressed like that.”
While true Leelan had been hoping to attract someone to take back to his room for the evening, that didn’t mean he lacked standards or self-respect. “I really think you should leave.”
Too fast for his eyes to follow, the vampire reached across the table, grabbing Leelan’s wrist and squeezing it roughly. “I think you should be nicer—”
“Now, now,” a smooth accented voice interrupted. “Is that any way to behave?”
Leelan’s eyes rounded as the most gorgeous specimen of male he’d ever seen stepped up behind his date and wrapped a hand around the back of the vampire’s neck. Dressed impeccably in a tailored black suit that molded to his broad, muscular frame, the stranger looked like he could have stepped right off of a runway.
No visible tattoos marked his tawny skin. He had no piercings, wore no jewelry, not even a watch. His dark hair was cut short and styled in a conservative though stylish side part. While not really the type Leelan usually went for, he still somehow managed to embody every wet dream Leelan had ever had.
But that wasn’t why he couldn’t stop staring.
“Get your fucking hands off me,” the vampire growled as he struggled against the hold on his nape.
The new guy stroked the side of the male’s neck with his thumb. “Even a limited vocabulary doesn’t excuse poor manners.” As he spoke, his thumbnail grew, lengthening nearly two inches before ending in a sharp point. “Now, apologize.”
While he spoke calmly, danger practically radiated from his very being. The vampire must have felt it, too, because he subsided in his chair and lowered his head in obvious submission.
“I apologize,” he mumbled.
Leelan’s rescuer smiled then, revealing long, lethal-looking canines. “Not to me, fledgling.”
The guy seemed far less inclined to offer Leelan an apology, but he eventually lifted his head just enough to meet his gaze. “Sorry.” He winced when the sharp claw dug into his skin. “I’m sorry for being such a dick.”
The other vampire—Leelan was pretty sure the newcomer was a vampire as well—turned his dark, penetrating stare on him. “Well, it wasn’t very eloquent, but will that suffice?”
Leelan nodded numbly.
“Very well.” Releasing the younger male’s neck, he grabbed the collar of his tank top instead and dragged him to his feet. “Off you go.”
The guy wasted no time getting the hell out of there, and honestly, Leelan really couldn’t blame him. That had been simultaneously the sexiest and most terrifying thing he’d ever witnessed.
“Thank you,” he blurted. “For, well—” He waved his hand vaguely toward the exit. “—you know.”
“Of course.” Lowering himself into the now vacated seat, he reached across the table with another of those oddly chilling smiles. “Sebastian Delgado.”
Leelan took the proffered hand and shivered as a jolt of electricity raced up his arm from the contact. Distracted by the sensation, as well as the misty haze of pure golden light that surrounded the vampire, he lost all train of thought.
He knew he should say something, but by the fae, he couldn’t even remember his own name. Everything in his brain had been shunted to the side, allowing just one word to repeat on an endless loop.
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Kol Livingston believes in the so-called fairy tales, the clichés—love at first sight, soul mates, and happily-ever-afters. He wants it all, but after a series of failed relationships, he’s beginning to think he’ll never meet Prince Charming. He loves his job at Blackhaven Manor, but with all the gorgeous paranormals strutting around the hotel, why would anyone choose him?
When cheetah shifter and infamous bad boy, Remington Raines, is asked to perform for the Heritage Festival at Blackhaven Manor, he can’t say no. Literally. Still, an all-expenses-paid vacation from tour buses and screaming fans might be just what he needs. Falling for the quirky concierge with big, brown eyes and a smile that melts him, however, wasn’t part of the plan.
He’s used to people—men, women, supernatural and human—throwing themselves at him, but Kol doesn’t care about his fame or his money. He’s been hurt, and he’s not about to give his heart to just anyone.
Image is everything, but if Remington wants to win over this jaded human, he’ll have to dig deep and show Kol the man behind the reputation.
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
Kol backpedaled when Remington took a step toward him. “Yes, of course,” he said, inching around the other side of the sofa as he did up the buttons on his shirt. He frowned when the shifter followed. “What are you doing?”
He wasn’t afraid, and he had no reason to think the guy would hurt him. That didn’t stop his pulse from racing or his hands from shaking, though. Damn it, nobody had any right to look that good, especially when Kol was dripping wet and about nine shades of embarrassed.
“I just wanted to make sure that you—”
“I said I’m fine,” Kol snapped, then instantly regretted it. Taking a deep breath, he held it for a count of three before releasing it slowly. “Thank you for your concern, but I assure you, I’m not hurt. I should be getting back to my duties. If there is anything else you need to make your stay more enjoyable, just ring the front desk and ask for Kol.”
“Kol.” Remington bobbed his head as he said it, his smooth, deep voice wrapping around it like a caress. “It suits you.”
Since Kol had no idea what to say to that, he just dipped his head and moved closer to the exit.
“Actually,” Remington said, stopping him before he could make his exit, “could you do something about the candles and roses?”
Pausing with his hand on the frame of the open door, Kol glanced around the room, his brow furrowed, and his lips tugging down at the corners. “Would you prefer something different?”
“I’d prefer it if they were gone.” The shifter tucked two knuckles under his nose and sniffed. “It’s a little overwhelming.”
Wet, cold, and confused, Kol’s patience had reached its limit. “Then why did you request them?”
Remington arched an eyebrow at him. “I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did.” Great, now he sounded like a fucking toddler. He cleared his throat and tried to explain in a politer, more mature tone. “I was informed that the guests for the Orion Suite had several requests, including a precise number of vanilla-scented candles and exactly sixty-three white roses.”
Remington’s eyebrow quirked even higher, disappearing into his side-swept fringe. “I don’t know who told you that, but I assure you I didn’t request any of this.”
Great. Just freaking great. He’d nearly set himself—along with the entire room—on fire for nothing. “I apologize for the mix-up, and I’ll see that they’re removed right away.” He tried to rein in his temper and smile, but really, it felt more like a baring of teeth than anything remotely friendly.
“Will there be anything else?”
Breathing a sigh of relief, Kol nodded once. “The hotel has several excellent restaurants. Do you have a preference?”
“Nope.” Shoving his hands deep into the pockets of his faded, ripped jeans, Remington shrugged. “Whatever you think I’ll like best.”
He would want somewhere private, probably with low lighting so he wouldn’t be recognized. Cheetah shifter, so probably not a vegan, but fastidious about cleanliness and order.
“Will seven o’clock at Matchstick work?” He smiled a little more naturally when Remington indicated that it would. “Someone will call to confirm your reservation. I’m assuming a table for two?”
The guest list indicated the suite held a double occupancy for the duration of the stay. Kol didn’t know Ruger Raines, but if he went by context clues, he had to guess the man was related to Remington in some way. Maybe a brother. Possibly a cousin.
The shifter arched an eyebrow and gave him a disarming smile. “I guess that depends.”
“On?” He clenched the doorframe more tightly and tried to ignore the way that lopsided grin made his stomach do cartwheels.
Remington took another step toward him, his lips parting wider to reveal dazzling white teeth with extended canines. “What time do you get off work?”
When Greyson Forrester receives an invitation to his cousin’s wedding, he knows he can’t refuse—even if the groom is his ex-fiancé. If he doesn’t go, people might think he still cares, which he doesn’t, thank you very much. Showing up alone isn’t any better, but he has neither the time nor the inclination to jump back into the dating scene. So, what’s a guy to do? Hire a fake boyfriend, of course!
+One isn’t a dating agency. Fine. He’s not looking to make a love connection, just survive one week with even a shred of dignity intact. Then, Jace Harkin walks through the door, and Greyson knows he’s in trouble. Jace is the total package—successful, witty, gorgeous—but falling for him wasn’t supposed to happen. Yet, every smile, every touch, every whispered endearment pulls him in a little deeper until the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur.
Too bad it can’t last. After all, it’s just make-believe, right?
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Without waiting for a response, Jace Harkins strolled into the office with an easy, self-assured gait. “You summoned me?”
Sweet baby Jesus, his voice could melt the panties off a nun. Deep and smooth with just a hint of a southern drawl, it pierced right through me, and I kind of forgot how to breathe for a second.
While his tone radiated sarcasm, the smile on his face when he looked at his sister belied his irritation. I’d thought he had a great smile from his photograph, but it was nothing compared to the real thing. Damn, that picture really hadn’t done him justice.
“You’re late.” From behind the desk, Anna grinned back. “But since you brought coffee, I’m willing to forgive you.”
Too busy staring at the way his black T-shirt stretched around his bulging biceps, I hadn’t even noticed the drink carrier in his hands. Coming forward, he took one of the plastic cups and placed it on the desk with an unopened straw as he rattled off some complicated name that sounded like it was made of sugar and glitter.
After thanking him, Anna reached for the drink with one hand while motioning toward me with the other. “Jace, I’d like you to meet Greyson Forrester. Mr. Forrester, this is Jace Harkin.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Forrester.” Instead of offering his hand, he nodded at the remaining drinks in the carrier. “I wasn’t sure what your poison was, but you’ve got some options. There’s plain black, an iced caramel macchiato, and a vanilla cold brew.”
I didn’t normally drink coffee, but his gesture was sweet, and I found myself not wanting to disappoint him. “Uh, whichever one tastes the least like coffee.”
His laugh made my stomach flutter and my pulse skip, and I nearly melted into the floor when he winked at me. “Ah, not a big coffee fan, huh? No worries.” He took one of the plastic cups from the carrier and passed it to me. “Try the macchiato. I think you’ll like it.”
I thanked him as I opened the straw and stabbed it into the lid. Since he was still watching me, I bent my head and took a polite sip. He was right. I did like it. I could practically feel my glucose levels rising, but it was just the right blend of coffee, milk, and sugar.
“Not bad,” I declared with a smile. “It’s actually pretty good. Thanks.”
Jace nodded as he eased his hip down on the corner of the desk. “So, Mr. Forrester, what is it you do?”
“Please, call me Greyson.” My nerves had mostly settled, making it easier to speak to him without hyperventilating. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what had changed, but there was just something about him that felt…calming. “I own a shop in Wakefield. The Apothecary.”
He leaned back a little and folded his arms across his chest. “Like a pharmacy?”
I tilted my head from side to side and flopped my hand around in the universal symbol for “kind of, but not really.” I did sell remedies out of my shop, but they were homeopathic and made with organic ingredients.
“I carry a lot of things in my store. Natural remedies. Organic bath products. Lotions. Lip balms. Things like that.”
As I spoke, I raked my gaze over the numerous tattoos that inked his arms. Part of me wondered how much they’d hurt. Another part of me—namely the part behind the zipper of my jeans—just found them sexy as hell. I’d expected skulls and flames, and while those things were represented in the art, there were also flowers, dragonflies, and an adorable pixie with dark hair and tattered wings.
They weren’t random. That much I could tell. Some of his tattoos were dark and eerie, others surreal, and some just cute, but they all flowed together like parts of a story, like pieces of his life.
“That’s amazing,” he answered, forcing me to pry my gaze away from the ink. “I’d love to see it sometime.”
His smile was warm, his tone genuine, and I preened a little, surprised by how much this stranger’s approval meant to me. “I’d like that.” I leaned to the side to look at Anna. “Your sister said you’re a business owner as well.”
He glanced over his shoulder, then shook his head as he turned back to me. “Yeah, something like that.”
He didn’t elaborate, so I let the subject drop and floundered for something else to say. Eventually, I settled on honesty. “I’m guessing this is the part where you’re trying to decide if you’ll take the job or not. So, what else would you like to know?”
His gaze raked over me slowly, intimately, and I fought the urge to squirm under his scrutiny. “Tell me in three sentences or less why you’re here.”
I could do that. No rambling. No apologizing.
“My ex and my cousin are getting married. I can’t get out of going to the wedding, and I don’t want everyone thinking I’m pathetic. I need someone to pretend to enjoy my company so I can get through it with even a shred of dignity intact.”
There, I’d said it. Now, all I could do was wait and hope it would be enough to convince him.
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The off-limit places turned out to be a library, a large office, and the master suite, all on the upper level. Not being able to enter the library hadn’t stopped Cameron from pressing as close to the glass squares on the French doors as possible to see inside, though. The room was beautiful, a proper library straight from a fairytale with wall-to-wall bookshelves that stretched all the way to the ceiling.
“Would you like to go in?”
Cameron squeaked—actually fucking squeaked like a cartoon mouse—and spun around so quickly he lost his footing and stumbled backwards. The doors rattled in their frame, and he winced when one of the knobs dug into his hip. Heart pounding, throat tight, he lifted his head, his gaze locking with amber eyes so deep he felt as though the floor shifted beneath him.
Never had he experienced such a visceral reaction to mere eye contact, and it did nothing to ease the tightness in his throat or the thundering of his heart. Right then, those eyes sparkled with humor and a hint of mischief. Realizing he should say something instead of just staring like an idiot, he opened his mouth, but every thought he’d ever had abandoned him.
A war started between his body and his mind, and while his brain scrambled to catch up, his body took great pleasure in betraying him. His hands trembled, his legs shook, and a soft gasp escaped as his eyes drank in the sight of the man standing close enough to touch.
Thick, brown hair—wet and limp, likely from a recent shower—fell over a smooth brow. High, defined cheekbones created a perfect symmetry to his angular jaw and square chin, and the shadow of scruff, just a smidgen past five o’clock, added a ruggedness to the otherwise beautiful face.
A thin, white V-neck did little to hide his broad shoulders or muscular chest. The sleeves strained around defined biceps encased in smooth, bronzed skin, and even the fingers wrapped around a black, porcelain coffee mug flexed with a strength that made Cameron’s knees weak. The loose ash-gray sweats hung low on his narrow hips, but the baggy cotton couldn’t completely conceal a pair of thick, toned thighs.
“Take your time,” the stranger teased, his voice a flawless combination of husky and smooth, like raw honey chased by a shot of aged whiskey.
Cameron shivered, even as the heat of embarrassment stung his cheeks. Coughing twice to clear his throat, he pushed away from the library doors. “Sorry, you startled me.” Yes, that sounded reasonable. He held out his right hand. “Cameron Stone.”
The man stared for longer than necessary, a smirk playing at the edges of his mouth. Then he shifted his coffee cup to his opposite hand and took Cameron’s in a lingering embrace that felt too intimate for strangers.
Cameron had guessed as much, but he figured it would be rude to say so, especially after he’d just been caught checking out the guy. Instead, he settled on saying, “Nice to meet you. Your home is really amazing.” Taking his hand back, he shoved it into the pocket of his dress slacks and curled his fingers into a tight fist. “Why are you selling?”
For a long time, Asher didn’t speak, and Cameron fought not to squirm under the guy’s casual scrutiny. His expression gave away nothing, his features carefully arranged into a mask of neutrality that made Cameron more nervous than outright hostility.
What the hell is he thinking?
“I’m not selling,” Asher finally answered.
“So…the estate sale?”
His T-shirt strained when he lifted his shoulders. “I was bored, and needed a change.” He took a sip of his coffee, then ran his tongue over his full, pink lips. “I needed to make room for something new. This seemed like the simplest way.”
While he tried to match the guy’s indifference, Cameron could feel his brow scrunch together between his eyes. The way he’d said it sounded as though he didn’t really care about the money from the sale. He simply wanted to get rid of a style he no longer found appealing to clear space for new, likely more expensive, things. He made it sound a lot like boxing up a closet full of winter clothes to make room for a summer wardrobe.
“Oh.” Not intelligent or articulate, but it was the best he could do.
“Would you like a tour?”
Cameron couldn’t be sure, but he thought the man might be teasing him. “Thanks, but I’ve already seen everything not restricted.”
“You sure?” Yes, there was definitely a teasing lilt to his voice. “We could start with the master suite.”