Catching Keira: A Witch's Destiny
Catching Keira is a re-release. It has been heavily edited and retitled.
Her goal: reclaim an amulet and go home
Keira A’Darcin doesn’t need distractions. An encounter with gorgeous, dragon warrior Rath tempts her to put aside her worries and enjoy a night in his arms. When morning comes, duty leads her away from him. As she continues on her journey, danger forces her to claim a pair of ancient weapons, changing her life.
Rath hunts the dark sorcerer targeting cities under dragon protection. His search leads him to a trap and then to Keira. Intense attraction burns between him and the sexy witch. Every touch makes him wonder if she’s the one for him and Damon?
In the last few weeks, vampire Damon Ro’Teir has helped rebuild cities and fought battles. He hadn’t expected to find their witch-mate in the middle of the chaos. Now that he has, he isn’t letting her go. Keira’s fierce, strong, passionate, and more than a match for him and Rath.
Although the desire grows hot between them, their enemy grows stronger. Witch, dragon, and vampire, they’ll have to work together to defeat an enemy determined to claim the power Keira now holds.
Anseri Region, city of Ramgen
Where is that little thief? Keira clenched her fist. That greedy little witch needed a lesson about keeping her sticky little hands off other people’s property. And she’d better learn it well.
She kicked at a pebble. It skittered over the brown cobblestones, clicking and pinging before it finally hit a tan wall. If that girl hadn’t stolen her amulet, she could be doing something useful. Like defending the city or hunting down Dark Sorcerers.
She rounded a corner. Light reflected off the white stone of a nearby building. The blinding beam flashed. Her eyes stung and she squinted, ducking her head to avoid the glare. Blessed Lady, how often did they clean that building to keep it so brilliantly white?
She trudged forward until she passed that gleaming monstrosity. Why would they want a building that bright? Ramgen was so different.
Her gaze swept over the cobbled streets, keeping watch for the little thief. Verite probably wasn’t here, but a little spark of hope nudged her to investigate the alleys and side streets. Not that wandering the maze of cobbled paths would lead to anything. The girl had too much of a lead. If she hadn’t been held up, she should be on her way to the temple.
A shadow fell over her and then swept down the street. Keira tilted her head back. A black dragon circled, dark wings flapping. That’s the third today.
She closed her mouth and shook her head. Don’t stare or gape. It’s another dragon. Nothing special. There’s just more of them here than there are at home.
Children’s laughter rang through the air. And both gates were open. She bit her lip. So much different than any city in the Beserl region. The gates at Kymal would never be left open. If it wasn’t for the large wall circling the city, she’d never guess they had problems here, too.
A roar tore through the early morning air. Her heart slammed against her chest and raced. Fear surged through her, drying her mouth and tightening her throat. Her head jerked up and swung toward the east.
A lantern hanging on a pole at the edge of the cobbled street swung on its hook as the roar came again. She froze. Her hands hung at her sides. What made that noise?
This was a protected city, but merdanons attacked anywhere. Another rumbling call pierced the night. That wasn’t a merdanon howl. Those huge fiends’ screams hadn’t ever been that deep or growling. A dragon. It had to be a dragon, but what in the name of Vellos had him wailing like that? The arrogant creatures hardly ever showed that type of weakness. She ran toward the sound.
Unusual. A Cytari running to a dragon. Not that she wouldn’t help if needed or one faced Dark Sorcerers or their magical creations, the merdanons.
She’d take a dragon over a merdanon any day. Dragons were allies in the fight against the Dark Sorcerers and their destruction.
She dodged the men and women running away from the sound. Before she reached the edge of the city and the wall around it, the dragon’s black head swung up above the rooftops. The tips of his wings spread and folded. Lanterns swung and everything vibrated with another ear-piercing bellow.
She lifted a hand to one ear. Vellos, so damn loud! She cleared the last of the buildings and raced through the wall gates.
Keira skidded to a stop. A huge, black dragon stood in the grassy field beyond the last light gray stone wall. He was so big.
The sun gleamed off the beast’s glossy, black-scaled body. Red stripes crossed his back and lined the top of his triangular head. His tail whipped close to the thick defense wall. She flexed her fingers. If that muscular tail hit it, the wall would probably collapse.
Why didn’t he change form? The scaly hide rippled as he twisted. She paced forward, slow, measured steps carrying her closer to the dragon.
Sweat trickled along her spine. She rubbed her damp palms down her black pants. How should she announce herself so that she didn’t get bitten? Messing with a dragon in any kind of mood really wasn’t recommended. The acquisitive, domineering beasts often considered wandering witches fair game.
Why was he just standing there? She licked her lips. The beast turned toward the city. His large head swung toward her.
His body swiveled, revealing part of his rear flank. A silver trap clamped around his back hind leg. Blood trickled down the huge limb. Gashes raked down the thick, muscled leg where the skin had torn. Probably when he’d ripped the trap free of it’s anchor. She grimaced. That had to hurt. Lucky for him that trap was designed for something smaller.
She bit her lip and turned to the gate. Ah Vellos! Her shoulders slumped. No one else here. She flexed her fingers. There had to be some other strong witch or wizard in the city.
“Hello, I’m Keira A’Darcin. Since I don’t see anyone else around who can help you, I’m going to free you. Don’t bite me.” She held her hands out in front of her as she walked toward him.
His head lowered and teeth glinted in the sunlight. She leaned back. Come on. Be a sane dragon. Don’t bite the witch trying to help.
His black snout butted her chest and golden eyes stared from the other end of the huge muzzle. She swallowed. He inhaled and tilted his head before that toothy maw rose away from her. She exhaled. Apparently, she’d passed inspection.
“Before I get any closer to you, I’m going to test the spell. See what I’m dealing with. I don’t want to cause you more damage.” She licked her lips. Especially not with all those long, dagger-sharp teeth so near.
She flexed her fingers. Silver-white energy drifted from her and lightly probed at the metal. An intricate spell that would require high magic to unravel. By the Great Lady, couldn’t he have stumbled into something that she could turn over to someone else?
“If there were any dragons or vampires here, I’m sure they would have made it out here to help before I did.” She tapped her thigh with her palm. It would be so much easier if one of them had.
Nothing else to do but take the thing off him. He’d be fine afterward. He could change form and the wound would heal during the transformation. First, those sharp metal jaws had to be opened. That trap would easily take off a man’s thigh.
She paced forward. The dragon’s eyes followed. Good, the last thing she needed was even a little nip. Dragon poison would put her on her back for days.
She trudged along the dragon’s side. His head turned. A heavy weight settled on the back of her shoulders like a metal cape. The suspicious dragon watched her every move. She raised her hands, holding them above the gleaming metal of the silver trap.
Have to get this right the first time. Big and scaly isn’t going to stay calm through any mistakes. Taking a deep breath, she channeled power. Silvery mist trailed out, tracing along the jagged edges of the trap and reversing the spell energy.
The metal creaked. The curved, sharp-edged teeth slowly pulled out of his skin. When the metal maw opened wide enough, the dragon stepped out of it. She exhaled, power pulsing from her. As soon as he was free, she flexed her fingers and cut the flow of energy. The white mist dissipated. The metal jaws slammed back together.
She turned to the dragon. The skin on his leg shimmered and the wounds closed. Gray and black mist swirled, rising around the huge beast towering over her. It enclosed the dragon, forming a dense round cloud around him. The giant ball of swirling magic shrunk and tightened into an oval. With a last glittering pulse, it disappeared.
A tall, broad-shouldered man stepped forward. Unmistakably dragon. Stark black streaks framed both sides of his short, deep red hair. A green gem dangled from the lobe of his pointed ear. A dragon warrior.
He’d clothed himself as he transformed. A loose gold shirt covered a broad, muscled chest. Black pants molded to his strong thighs. A fine looking man. Now, why couldn’t he have come out of that naked?
He glided a step closer. His sun-burnished skin gleamed in the bright light. A scar trailed from his left temple across his cheek. Apparently, she’d just given aid to a seasoned dragon. Was he just a dragon or part of a dragon and vampire pairing.
His pupils narrowed to black slits. Heat simmered in his golden eyes. An answering pulse of warmth curled in her belly. His gaze ran down her body.
“Thank you for helping me, Keira. I’m Rath.” He grasped her hand, enclosing it between his large palms. “It’s been a while since I’ve felt Cytari magic in this area. Witches from your sect usually stay in the north.” A frown turned gorgeous lips downward. “You’re not dressed in your sect’s uniform. What are you doing here?”
She tilted her head up. He smiled down at her, a predator with something tasty in his sights. She couldn’t trust anyone here. Especially not a too-chummy dragon.
“I’m here looking for something.” She brushed at a spot on her pants. Lady save her from arrogant High Wizards. Every single one of them were annoyingly alpha.
“Something? What something?” He raised a red eyebrow and paced a slow circle around her.
Demanding dragon. It was none of his business. She shook her head and clenched her hand. Not that he’d accept that.
Dragons, vampires and other High Wizards always searched for a complementary mate. When they found one, they went after her. She rolled her eyes. Big man acted as if she were prey, because she was a High Witch. She didn’t have time to deal with his attitude, now.
“How did you get caught in that? Even in dragon form, you should have been able to see something that big.” Keira put a hand on her hip. The distraction gambit probably wouldn’t work, but it was worth a try.
Somehow he’d gotten into a Dark Sorcerer’s trap. He wouldn’t be the first. Nearly every dragon, wizard, vampire, and witch battled against the Dark Sorcerers and their beasts. Unfortunately, the numbers turning to the darkness had grown in the last decade.
“Thick, tall grass. Now try answering my question.” He leaned forward. The muscles along his jaw tightened.
“An amulet. I have reason to believe that it’s in this region.” She smiled and shrugged. It wasn’t his concern that that amulet was last seen around the neck of a thieving Cytari witch. And the history behind that amulet, as long as she could help it, he wouldn’t learn about that. She didn’t need him following her around. Catching up to Verite was going to be difficult enough. “I have to begin my search. Maybe I’ll see you again.”
“I’ll be in the area.” His lips curved into a smile, flashing white teeth and a bit of fangs.
She swallowed heavily. More than interest flickered in his eyes. Another complication thrown into the mix.
Rath flexed his fingers. The witch licked her full pink lips. Those lips just invited kisses. His leg still prickled from the sizzle of her magic. So hot and vibrant. Even with the pain from the steel trap biting into his leg, his cock had hardened. That hadn’t subsided even a little. Arousal still burned through him.
Such a striking witch with that long golden hair. The slightest hint of gold tinged her pale creamy white skin. Gold brows arched over tilted brown eyes on her fine-boned face.
If only Damon was in the area. When her magic drifted across his skin, a rightness burned in him, but he couldn’t be sure. The vampire would be able to tell if she was their mate just by the feel of her magic.
Unfortunately, Rath couldn’t do that. He’d have to taste the sorcery in her blood. She probably wouldn’t volunteer. For now, he’d keep an eye on her and would wait for his bond partner to get to the city.
He wouldn’t wait to get close to the witch. By Grimlan, she was a sexy woman. Her tall, slender body would feel great moving against his. And those delicious, long nipples. They’d pressed against the thin material of her black shirt as if trying to get out. His mouth watered.
“Be careful and don’t confront any merdanons.” He pointed at her.
Power radiated from the witch. The woman used her magic easily. She had fought before and had already proven herself to be uncommonly bold. Most Cytari wouldn’t have come to the aid of a dragon under any circumstances. They liked their freedom.
“I’m not about to become a breeder for a dragon, much less one of the Dark Sorcerers. I’m not an apprentice and I know what I’m doing.” She tossed her head. Her shining waist-length mane of hair swung back over her shoulder.
“We’ll see. If you get into trouble, scream. If I don’t hear you, one of the other dragons will. They should arrive before sunset.” He brushed a finger over the soft curve of her cheek.
She blinked and her mouth dropped open. Her head slowly shook from side to side. She took a step back.
“Don’t worry. We don’t really eat witches in a single gulp.” He lowered his gaze, tracing over the swell of her breasts and the slight rise of her belly to the juncture of her thighs. “We like to savor the sweet essence of a witch, sometimes for days.”
A wave of red rose up her cheeks. She bit her lip and turned. “I have to go.”
“Keira!” He took a step forward. Maybe he should have hidden his interest. She was running. “Stay out of trouble.”
She looked at him and her mouth worked.
“If you need help, Keira, you call for Rath.” He pointed a finger at her.
“I won’t need any help.” She whirled and stalked into the city walls.
Her hips swished as she walked down the street. A growl rumbled in his chest. He clenched his hands. So sexy. He’d find her again. And he’d get word to Damon.
His gut churned. Ramgen might be only a starting point for Keira. He would have to watch her closely. She wasn’t going to escape.
* * * *
Keira shifted on the hard, wooden seat. Low conversation murmured around her. A serving girl placed a steaming bowl on the table in front of her. Patrons filled the inn’s dining room. She stirred the soup, letting it cool. As the sun had set, three dragons had circled overhead. More freaking predators in the area. Good thing she was leaving tomorrow.
If only she hadn’t had to search the city, but there had been a chance Verite had gotten lost. No such luck. Verite had rented a room at a smaller inn, but left days ago. The arrogant, little thief made an impression at the local sect house with her demands.
Keira sighed and rubbed at her temple. What she wouldn’t give for a week in a soft bed with nothing to do. Unfortunately, not possible. Tomorrow, she had to leave the city early. Preferably without a dragon escort. Dealing with that girl’s mistaken beliefs would be hard enough. Adding dragons to this situation would make it impossible.
A hush fell over the room. She turned her head. The redheaded dragon, Rath, strolled toward her. The man’s smile stretched wide as he moved the chair from another table. He placed it next to hers and sat.
“Have you been here long?” He smiled and raised a hand for the woman moving among the tables.
She shook her head and looked up at the ceiling. What ego. As if she’d been waiting on him. “What do you want?”
“Just your company.” He captured her free hand.
“I’m not in the mood to find out how sharp your teeth are.” She tugged. His grip didn’t budge. Annoying dragon. “I’ve heard about the effects of dragon bites. Why would I want to experience it?”
“And if I promise not to bite you…” He raised an eyebrow and his eyes lowered to her breasts. “You’d like to feel my mouth on you.”
“I’d like to be at home, lazing in a hot bath. That’s not going to happen until I finish what I came here to do. Not having everything you want is just a fact of life.” She leaned back in the chair and pursed her lips. And some things were crazy.
The dragon was temptation in the flesh. All those hard muscles. And so forbidden and dangerous. A thrill buzzed through her. Smart witches didn’t play with dragons and vampires.
Could she be smart this time? And did she really need to? Her tight muscles ached. The dragon could help release a little tension in the most pleasurable way. As long as she left in the morning without him.
“If you were the type to play things safe, you wouldn’t be here.” He lifted her hand to his mouth, nipping at the ends of her fingers.
The man didn’t know what he was talking about. She wasn’t here for adventure. By the Great Lady, she’d rather hunt merdanons, but she had to get her medallion back. That amulet had been in her family for generations.
The serving woman placed a bowl of soup in front of him as well as a large hunk of bread and a mug of ale. He turned to her after the woman left.
“Are you that afraid of me?” He smiled, releasing her hand.
“I’m not afraid. I just don’t want to do something stupid. I have things to do and I don’t really have time to make trouble for myself.” She tore off a piece of her bread and dipped it into the broth.
“I’m not asking you to join me in my cave for the next month. All I’m asking is for a night that we’ll both enjoy.” His golden eyes traced over her face.
Every word tempted her. A single night with a wild dragon. Warmth curled low in her belly. “No” would be smart. She swirled her spoon in the broth. Take the chance or walk away to spend a long night in bed? Her heart pounded against her chest.
He’d promised not to bite. Could she trust him to keep his word? If she let him into her room, sneaking away in the early morning would be more difficult. She grimaced. It would be risky.
She ate a few spoonfuls of her soup. A night of wild, hot sex might be worth it. Raising her head, she met his eyes. “One night. If you bite me, I’ll cut you. And don’t get the idea that this will give you any kind of hold on me.”
“I wouldn’t think that I had any hold on you after a single night, Keira.” Rath leaned toward her. “And I promise you again. I won’t bite you this night.”
“Just this night, then we part.” She stared at her bowl. Maybe she’d been out in the sun too long.
A normal witch wouldn’t do this. But an average witch wouldn’t be here. Maintaining the image of normalcy while she fought merdanons drained her. Once she reclaimed her amulet, she’d go back to protecting the family secret.
“We’ll have this night. Tomorrow will come soon enough.” He smiled.
She nodded. This one night, she’d explore and be wild. Tomorrow, she’d find Verite and go back to her real life and responsibilities.
When they both finished eating, Rath drew her to her feet. “Do you have a room here?”
“Yes, it’s upstairs.” She took his hand. Her heart raced and her palms sweat. A dragon. Oh, Lady, she’d be riding a dragon tonight.