- Kiss of Danger
Kiss of Darkness
Kiss of Destiny
They will sacrifice anything to regain the loves they’ve lost...
Alexander knew he had to fulfill his duty to his kind, the dragon shape shifters called the Pyr, even at the price of abandoning his new wife and young son. After he and his fellow warriors were enchanted for centuries, then finally set free in a future long after their own time, Alexander feared he would never return to his love. Against all odds, the darkfire crystal makes his dream come true, flinging him across the centuries to the world he left behind. Is this his chance to regain the life he lost? Has his Katina waited for him? Or has the darkfire crystal cast him back in time for some mysterious purpose of its own?
As he dozed in his elegant apartment in his son Lorenzo’s home, the old dragon shifter dreamed of the future, the present and the past. He dreamed of possibilities and roads not taken, of chances lost and opportunities seized. Whether speculation or fact, his dreams melded together into a coherent whole.
Salvatore understood that he had entered the realm of the Wyvern, a mystical dimension in which all possibilities existed simultaneously. He wasn’t sure how he had done it or why it had been allowed, but he was entranced. In every moment of his dreaming, he was aware of the steady pulse of the darkfire trapped within a large quartz crystal. Salvatore knew the gem in his dreams was secured in the hoard he shared with Lorenzo.
Darkfire was said to have the power to turn everything upside down for dragon shape shifters like Salvatore and Lorenzo, dragon shape shifters called the Pyr. Darkfire introduced uncertainty and possibilities, challenged expectations and was a force for change—however unwelcome that change might be.
Salvatore assumed it was the darkfire that had taken him to this dream place. The darkfire, after all, illuminated all he witnessed.
Though Salvatore had known little of darkfire in his life—save the rumor of its existence—in his dreams, he glimpsed its past and its future. He understood that there were three similar crystals, and he saw the locations of them all. He saw the destiny of the one in Lorenzo’s hoard and understood his role in all of it. The gem had been entrusted to Lorenzo for safekeeping, but the darkfire had a will of its own. It awaited Salvatore, demanded that he play his role to ensure that the stone’s destiny was fulfilled.
Salvatore followed the behest of his dream. He sent a summons on the wind of dreaming, a whisper lower than old-speak, a command that he knew would be obeyed. He slept yet more, awaiting the moment that would come.
One morning, Salvatore awakened from his slumber, confident his summons would be answered that very day.
He rose from his bed with purpose.
He had to fetch the darkfire crystal to send it on its way.
* * *
Las Vegas, Nevada. December 10, 2010
Erik, the leader of the Pyr, was only moments away when Lorenzo’s security system began to sound. Someone—or something—had entered the courtyard secreted in the midst of Lorenzo’s house. The only entry was from above. It had to be another Pyr, but which one? Lorenzo paused and inhaled deeply, disliking that he had been surprised.
It wasn’t Erik.
The arrival wasn’t a Slayer, either. Lorenzo knew the dark scent of decay and darkness carried by those dragon shifters who had turned evil. The lack of vitality that clung to the scent of Slayers was part of the reason he didn’t want to join them. He feared that the cost was higher than they preferred to admit.
And Lorenzo adored being vital and alive.
This scent was faint, difficult to perceive. It was so strange that he couldn’t quite place it. He chose to mull it over, keenly aware of Erik’s increasing proximity.
Definitely Pyr, but ancient. More like the old perfumes that had been sold in Venice centuries before. Frankincense. Myrrh. Ambergris. Scents that could not be precisely described by anyone but which, once smelled, were never forgotten. This scent awakened something in Lorenzo that he would have preferred to have left slumbering.
Lorenzo returned to the atrium and pulled back the blind with a single smooth gesture. He hid his surprise that there was not just one Pyr there.
There were seventeen.
It was strange that their individual scents were not as readily distinguishable as those of the other Pyr Lorenzo knew. They must have arrived in dragon form. Together. Acting as one. The courtyard was open to the sky and all other windows to the house were locked against the heat.
But the arrivals were in human form now, and he was struck by the similarity of their appearance. They were all dark-haired with dark eyes. They all carried themselves with the impassivity of warriors, and they were all fit. They might have been in uniform, so closely did each one’s choice of khaki garb resemble that of the others.
They could have been one of his own illusions, a single Pyr mirrored over and over again to look like a crowd.
One man stepped forward when Lorenzo opened the door to the courtyard, his gaze steely. That he alone moved was evidence that this was no illusion.
There was a bit of silver at this Pyr’s temples and determination in the line of his lips. “I am Drake, leader of the Dragon’s Tooth Warriors. We have come, as summoned.”
Lorenzo hadn’t summoned anyone. He spared a glance to the upper window and wasn’t certain whether he saw the blind move.
No. It was a trick of the light.
His father, Salvatore, slept. Hibernated really, his strength fading with every breath.
Aware that his glance might betray his secret, Lorenzo met Drake’s gaze steadily. “I didn’t summon anyone. You’ve made a mistake.” He moved to shut the door, but Drake stepped forward quickly, blocking its path with his booted foot.
“We will have what was promised.”
Annoyance rose within Lorenzo. “I promised you nothing.”
“We will have it.”
It? Lorenzo arched a brow, not troubling to hide his irritation. “You will leave.”
A ghost of a smile touched Drake’s lips. “Not until we have it.” He put out his empty hand, expectant.
Lorenzo knew that Erik was only moments away. He had an illusion to stage for the leader of the Pyr and it must go flawlessly. He hated to be distracted before a performance, particularly a challenging one.
He had beguiled Erik before, but wasn’t entirely certain that he could do it again. Erik might have learned something in the interim.
That uncertainty was part of what made the trick interesting.
He didn’t need this interruption.
“I can’t help you,” Lorenzo said flatly, pushing on the door again. “You’ll have to leave.”
Drake stepped across the threshold, his defiance tempting Lorenzo to shift. “We will not leave.” Drake spoke with resolve, and a faint ripple passed through his men. Lorenzo was aware of the glitter of their eyes, the way that they stood at the ready. He was outnumbered, in his own home, which did nothing to dispel his irritation. “We have been summoned and a promise has been made.” Drake stretched out his hand again. “Keep the vow.”
“It wasn’t mine.”
Drake didn’t move or blink. He waited.
Lorenzo heard Erik’s car at the gate. He heard the chime that echoed in the house whenever a vehicle was allowed to enter the compound. He saw the slight flare of Drake’s nostrils.
“Leave,” Lorenzo insisted.
“How timely,” Drake said instead. “I can appeal to the leader of the Pyr to take my side. Erik is fond of promises kept.”