Here’s more about Taken by a Dragon, including an excerpt from this paranormal romance novel.
Anais kept her eyes closed, feigning sleep and struggling with her thoughts. She had to do this. It didn’t matter that she was beginning to feel she really was safe here, in this cave with Loke. It didn’t matter that she felt as if she was growing closer to her dragon companion, or that they had opened up to each other to a degree. All that mattered was returning to her world.
She didn’t belong here.
She needed to get back to Sable and the others and find out what had happened to them.
She needed to know they were all okay.
Even though the thought of leaving Loke made a recess of her heart ache.
She listened to Loke moving around the cave. He had already started the fire again. That had roused her from sleep. She mentally cursed herself for falling asleep when she had meant to just pretend. She had a faint sensation that she had been pretending, and that Loke had come to her, and then she had been dreaming.
Maybe she had dreamed it all.
The light touch of his fingers on her face. The way they gently stroked her cheek. The soft words he had murmured in his unfamiliar tongue.
It had all been a dream.
She felt sure of it.
He moved away and she cracked an eye open, watching him heading into the tunnels with his wooden torch. When the light from it disappeared, she made her move.
Anais sprang to her bare feet and ran to the mouth of the cave, flinching every time she trod on a pebble. She had taken her boots off last night to aid her in her recon mission. She had to move silently to avoid rousing Loke. Every non-human species she had met had heightened senses. Hearing being the most sensitive. She couldn’t have moved quietly enough in her boots. She was having enough trouble moving quietly with bare feet. Another pebble bit into the sole of her left one and she grimaced and hopped a few steps, giving it time to recover.
The ledge came into view and her heart rocketed, thundering against her chest. She was just going to have a look. That was all. There was no need to get nervous. Her palms sweated and she rubbed them on her black t-shirt. Just a glimpse and then she would go back to the fire. She just wanted to see what was out there.
She glanced back into the cave, afraid of Loke finding her gone. She didn’t want him to see what she was doing. She didn’t want him to be upset with her and she knew he would be. He would feel as if she had betrayed him by breaking her vow, and that didn’t sit right with her. Not anymore.
She slowed to a halt at the edge of the ledge and stared down at the dizzying drop to the sweeping cragged side of the black mountain below. It was at least three hundred feet. She swung her gaze left, studying the mountains that formed a wall around the valley.
Harsh black rock as far as her eyes could see.
Bleak against the dark grey sky of Hell
It was incredible. Formidable.
There was no way she was going to be able to climb up the mountain. It rose sharply from the cave’s ledge, rising up into a jagged peak. Other obsidian peaks met it further down, blending into the most dangerous set of mountains she had ever seen. Not even the world’s best climbers could scale them. She would have to go down into the valley.
Even that looked as if it was going to be easier said than done. Around a thousand feet down the mountain, the dark green trees began. They were strange and gnarled, with only a bare covering of leaves. Anais couldn’t help thinking that they looked like something right out of a movie, liable to come alive and capture her with their branches. Those branches were tangled together, forming a thick canopy. She couldn’t tell how tall the trees were from this height, or what the ground looked like.
Or whether there was ground down there and not a swamp filled with dangerous creatures just waiting to eat an unsuspecting mortal like her.
The trees seemed endless too. They covered the valley floor, from the furthest point she could see off to her left, to the end of her vision off to her right.
Anais realised something as she looked at the trees.
The valley had no open ends.
The black mountains rose to block it on all sides.
If she was going to leave, she was going to have to ascend one of the peaks and hope that she chose the right one. If she chose wrong, she could be faced with another valley, or worse.
Anais let thoughts of escape drift away.
There was no way to escape.
No need either.
She knew Loke better now and she felt sure that he would keep his promise. He would take her back to the Third Realm. If he didn’t, she would try her luck with the mountains and the forest that looked as if it might try to eat her. Until then, she would trust that he was going to fulfil his vow to her.
She stepped back from the ledge, determined to return to the fire before Loke found her gone.
A sudden rush of air swept down the mountainside, pushing her forwards. She grabbed her hair as it covered her face, wrestling the tangled golden ribbons back so she could see where she was going and wouldn’t fall off the ledge. Another blast of wind came.
Something clamped around her waist.
Anais gasped and tried to turn, sure that it was Loke behind her.
The black ground dropped away and she looked down instead, her eyes widening and a bolt of fear piercing her heart. Huge red scaly talons held her around her waist and legs, each thicker than her body. Glossy black claws pressed dangerously close to her skin and she did the only thing she could think of as her mind shut down and she realised with horror that it wasn’t Loke who had her.
The dragon bellowed in response to her shriek and shook her, rattling her right down to her bones and making her ache all over. She bit her tongue to stop herself from crying out and tried to prise the beast’s claws off her as her survival instincts kicked in. She would take a long drop to a swift death over being stolen by another dragon.
Anais attacked as best she could, alternating between punching the dragon’s talons and trying to get her fingers under its scales. She was going to yank the damned things off and make it hurt. The dragon kept flying, enormous dark red leathery wings beating the air, carrying them higher above the mountains.
The world beyond them came into view and Anais’s heart plummeted.
Nothing but more mountains and valleys for hundreds of miles.
If she had run away from Loke, she would have died out there. She never would have reached Sable and the others.
She wasn’t going to reach them now either.
She looked up at the huge red dragon that held her. The great beast kept its large golden eyes on the distance but opened its crocodilian jaw, revealing rows of deadly long white fangs as it roared again.
An answering roar came this time.
Anais looked back towards the cave but saw only the barbed tip of the red dragon’s tail. The valley was so far away already, too distant for her to make anything out, but not far enough for her not to realise with disappointment that Loke wasn’t coming after her.
There was no blue dragon chasing them.
Anais ignored how her heart stung and went back to hitting the dragon’s paw, using both of her fists this time. She didn’t let up until the dragon dropped lower in the air as they swept over another mountain range.
Her hands fell to resting on the dragon’s talon as she stared down at the clearing below. Round stone huts filled most of the space, with what looked like an arena carved into the mountain beyond them and a large flat tract of land left open at the end of the village closest to her. Anais realised it was the dragon equivalent of a landing strip when the red beast holding her touched down there.
The second it set her down and released her, she turned on it, launching punches against anything she could reach. Two bare-chested men rushed forwards from a broad path between the thatched black stone huts and grabbed hold of her, pulling her away from the dragon. She fought them too, wrestling against their hold, even when she knew it was futile. They were far too strong for her.
The one to her left, a man with silver hair, muttered something in their language and his companion, a green-haired younger male, responded, a grin curving his lips and revealing sharp white teeth.
She stared at the dragon as it began to transform, waiting for it to turn into a red-haired man.
It was a woman.
A very beautiful woman with flame red hair.
Mahogany leather trousers formed over her legs and she twirled her hair up, tying it in a knot at the back of her head. Anais waited for another garment to appear over her ample breasts but nothing happened.
A golden dragon circled lazily above them, bright against the dark sky, and snorted. The woman looked up at the beast, her expression souring, and motioned for the men to follow her.
The men grunted and marched Anais into the village.
The moment they were clear of the landing strip, the golden dragon touched down.
She looked back at it and it stared right at her, its elliptical pupils stretching thin as it eyed her. It wasn’t as beautiful as Loke had been.
Her captor stormed ahead of her and her guards, still topless. When they entered the main area of the village, Anais realised that it wasn’t just her captor who was flashing her upper body. Every female she could see wore only trousers.
Every male she could see on the broad streets between the rows of huts stared at her, eyeing her in a way that made her skin crawl. She didn’t like how they looked at her. Fascinated. Awestruck. Hungry. When Loke looked at her that way, she found it appealing, but with these men, she only felt a deep need to flee.
She had the feeling she had made a grave mistake by disobeying Loke and she was going to pay for it.
The men halted, jerking her to a stop with them, and she looked ahead of her, towards a larger round building that stood on a high solid black stone platform at the other end of an open square.
A golden-haired male lounged on an obsidian throne in front of the thatched hut, cragged mountains his grim backdrop. His large hands rested over the ornate ends of the arms of the throne and his deep bronze leathers stretched tight over long powerful legs that were spread, giving him a relaxed and easy-going appearance that his sharp golden gaze contradicted.
This man knew everything that was happening around him without even needing to look to confirm it.
Was he the dragon equivalent of a king?