Claim the Dragon
by AC Arthur
Book 2 in the Legion Series
To save her, he’ll sacrifice everything.
Born a dream reaper, Steele Ezo, a powerful half dragon, half human, is struggling to find his place in the Drakon hierarchy. He is ready to accept his fate until he realizes the next victim on the Reaper’s hit list is the sexy thief who’s caught his eye.
She’s supposed to die.
He’s forbidden to stop it.
But their inexplicable connection makes it impossible to step aside.
Abandoned by her family and abused by local enforcers, Ravyn Walsh lives life on her own terms. She’s created an underground sanctuary for the oppressed citizens of Burgess, and she needs funds to keep it running. When a lucrative job—stealing an ancient dagger—lands in her lap, she doesn’t hesitate, not even when a smoldering tattooed stranger attempts to stop her.
A dagger that can raise the dead is a powerful tool—one that could change the course of history. As they fight to keep the dagger out of the wrong hands, Ravyn will be forced to embrace the truth of her heritage, while Steele will find himself torn between saving a life that isn’t meant to be saved and denouncing the power he was born to wield.
Claim the Dragon
Book 2 in the Legion Series
Claim the Dragon
He was watching her again. She could feel his fierce gaze bearing down on her like rolling thunder. Might as well give him something to look at.
She walked onto the dancefloor raising her arms above her head as the beat of the music moved through her, switching her ass so he could see each plump mound bounce along with her steps. The DJ had the bass turned up and she felt each thump in her chest as she turned so her back was facing the wall where he stood. She closed her eyes and let the female rapper’s easy flow slide through her mind. The lyrics said something about throwing it back and Ravyn thought it apropos since she wanted the enforcer who might be a little obsessed with her to catch all the shade she was throwing at him. If he wanted to watch her, he could watch, but he’d never catch her.
She was too good to be caught.
Besides that, he’d been watching her for weeks and had yet to speak one word to her, so maybe he wasn’t about doing his job. That wouldn’t be a surprise since none of the enforcers in Burgess actually did their real job. Instead they preferred to adopt a sadistic form of keeping order, using their guns and badges to cover the city in a cloak of fear and hopelessness.
“I like the way you move.”
Her eyes popped open at another man’s voice and she found herself staring up into eyes so dark they looked fake. His complexion was pale, brown hair straggly and hanging past his shoulders. She continued to dance, and he put his hands on her waist, picking up the rhythm and moving with her.
She smiled and lowered her arms to break the contact. “Hands off!”
“Don’t get feisty, baby. I’m just looking for a good time.”
Ravyn stopped dancing and stepped closer to him, poking the sharp tip of the pocket-knife she’d quickly pulled from the waist of her jeans into his gut. “Don’t get dead. Back up and go find your good time elsewhere.”
He hesitated. Big mistake. He blinked as if he doubted her, considering what disgusting words would spew from his mouth next in the hope of challenging her in some way. She decided to help him out. Pressing the knife further until the moment she felt it prick his skin through the t-shirt he wore, she leaned close to whisper in his ear.
“How much pain can you stand?”
He lifted his arms and used his hands against her shoulders to push her away. She eased the knife back into her pants before anyone around them could see. Not that the other patrons of the club had stopped their dancing, drinking or lurking long enough to witness her interaction with the dark-eyed creep.
“Crazy bitch!” He sneered at her before walking away.
She’d been called worse.
The music was still going and she recalled why she’d been on the dancefloor in the first place. Picking up with the rhythm she danced around in a circle until she was facing the wall where her admirer had stood, only to find that space empty. He was gone. Good. She walked off the dancefloor and returned to the bar where she’d been standing, watching and listening. But her mark was gone as well.
Vertis Pinkney was a rookie thief, extortionist and small-time drug dealer. He’d popped up in Burgess about a year ago, running his mouth about all the product he could score and dealers he knew from further up north, but had never come through with anything on his own. What he was good at—and the only reason she ever allowed herself to be within earshot of him—was getting information. Three months ago he’d mentioned an expensive collection of artifacts from Egypt being shipped to Burgess for an archaeological conference. That’s when she’d begun to plan.
“You want another drink, pretty lady?”
It would have been great if he’d called her by her name, or simply not acted familiar with her at all. But in the end it didn’t matter. The bartender was an okay looking guy and if she were in the market for one, she might have been interested. But she wasn’t and so his thick beard, bald head and smoldering gray eyes did nothing for her permanently-on-vacation libido.
“Nah, I’m good,” she responded with the same amount of nonchalance she gave everyone in this place.
She didn’t do the club scene often and Twilight had just re-opened a few weeks ago, but this was where Vertis hung out.
“You need somethin’ else tonight?”
His hands were flat on the bar top as he leaned in to look pointedly at her. She held his gaze. “No.”
He continued. “The back room’s open.”
“I’m aware.” She wasn’t here to buy drugs, get high or get laid.
“Or I could get you something personally and meet you with it later.”
She tilted her head, surveying him once more. His beard was a sandy brown color thick, and worn longer than she thought was necessary. His bare arms were roped with vein and muscles that seemed to strain against his skin. The sleeveless white t-shirt he wore was molded to his wide and also muscled chest. He was tall and she figured on another day, perhaps eight or nine years ago, she might have been willing to ride him until orgasms wracked both their bodies.
“There’s nothing in that room or with you that I need.”
For an instant she thought he was gonna go all wounded-pride-need-to-lash-out on her, but eventually he shrugged, pushed away from the bar and eased on down to the next customer—another woman who smiled the moment his attention was aimed at her. Pathetic.
Ravyn was glad to take her gaze elsewhere, looking around the room to see if she saw him. Vertis, not the enforcer. That guy had apparently left and that was just fine with her. She didn’t know why he was always hanging around her anyway. Seeing him everywhere she went for the past few weeks was starting to make her a little edgy, something she couldn’t afford. Not when she was so close.
It appeared Vertis was gone too and all she could do was sigh. That meant her work was done for tonight. She turned away from the bar, pushing through the crowd of people until she was at the door. A hand gliding over the skin of her midriff left bare by the top she wore stopped her. Her body tensed as she prepared to fight.
“Next time, leave your weapons at home. We’ve got rules here.” The woman speaking to her was a couple inches shorter with close-cut blonde hair and gold eyes that had to be contacts.
Her hand was flat against Ravyn’s knife.
“Then maybe you should provide a safer environment for your patrons,” Ravyn replied and pushed through the door, leaving the woman to stare after her.
The evening air smacked against her face as she walked, warm, not humid, as the summer inched its way toward fall. Her steel-toed boots made a muted sound as she crossed the sidewalk, heading down Luker Street toward the alley.
Cars whizzed by with almost the same frequency as if it were two o’clock in the afternoon, instead of two in the morning. The glow of white street lights lining the curb cast eerie shadows on the ground and she pushed her hands into the front pocket of her black jeans. She was tired after taking inventory of supplies at Safeside and getting the Hudson boys settled in their new space. But she’d had to come out tonight, confirmation was needed and had been partially obtained.
With a hum of satisfaction she turned the corner into the alley. The bright lights from the clubs and buildings not far away didn’t reach into this area and nobody thought it made sense to add any. Easing her right hand out of her pocket she clicked on the pin light that hung from her keychain. Dangling next to it was a can of mace and a smaller switchblade. Her steps were assured, but she did pick up her pace because there was no use in tempting the elements around her. She only had a few more blocks to walk and she’d be home.
Her mind returned to Safeside and all the things she needed to do tomorrow—or rather a few hours from now. A food run was a must, a new schedule of duties and… something moved. Her steps slowed and she narrowed her eyes, focusing on the sound. Or did she see something?
No, there was nothing. She shrugged, presuming she was being ridiculous. Keeping the light aimed in front of her she kept walking, now clearing her mind of everything except getting to her destination. The air seemed thicker suddenly, like it was wrapping around her and holding tight, so tight she gasped. And then it moved, something was sliding against her, easing over her belly, down her thighs to settle between her legs. She tripped, then righted herself and took quicker steps.
Her breath came in quick pants, chest heaving up and down, mind whirling with possibilities. Robber, rapist, murderer. Anybody could be in this alley with her right now preparing to do any manner of vile things to her. She reached into the ban of her jeans and pulled out her very real knife, palming the handle in case she needed to jab someone quickly and run. Her first instinct was always to fight, but there were times when flight was the smarter move. With that in mind she hastened her steps, only to come to a halt moments later. She turned suddenly, not seeing anything but whispering, “What do you want?”
She knew he was there.
And he knew she was aroused. The scent of her essence wafted through the air, drenching his senses until Steele felt drunk with desire, as he always did whenever he was near her.
“You’re head on a platter, bitch!”
The guy from the club lunged from a corner in the alley slamming his body against her back. She stumbled forward but quickly regained her footing and turned back, legs slightly crouched knife in her right hand poised to slice.
“You should really learn to quit while you’re ahead,” she snapped back with a shake of her head.
Steele wholeheartedly agreed. He’d had a private conversation with the guy about half an hour ago when he’d followed him out of the bar, but clearly he hadn’t spoken the right language. He was easing from the shadows even though that hadn’t been his intention.
Dumbass guy lunged for her again. He only had the use of one hand since Steele had broken the other one when their little chat had taken a wrong turn. But she was agile and easily ducked out of his way so that he slammed into the wall instead.
“If this is your idea of foreplay, you’ve gotta rethink your game plan,” she quipped and waited for him to turn around.
It didn’t seem to occur to her to run and Steele was impressed. Moreso than he already was with her.
“I’m gonna love hearing you scream,” the guy said because he really didn’t know when to call it a night.
This time he came toward her, one fist raised as if he really thought he was going to have the chance to punch her. Steele definitely wasn’t going to let that happen. But she moved again, swinging that knife until she’d sliced the guy’s good wrist and across his belly. Superficial slices, but enough to have him bending over and howling and enough for Steele to blow a bit of dream dust in his direction. Dude’s painful yowls ceased as he fell back onto the ground, out for the count.
“Shit!” She stepped closer to the guy, staring down at him and then back at the knife in her hand. “I didn’t cut him that deep.”
Steele stepped back into the shadows, his leg bumping a trash can as he moved.
She whipped around to stare directly at him, but she didn’t see him. It was too dark and he was pressing his body so hard against the wall that his completely black outfit most likely blended in. He turned to the side so that his long locks covered one half of his face.
She didn’t speak and Steele didn’t breathe for seconds that dragged on like eons.
When she finally turned and ran down the alley Steele released the breath he’d been holding. She was gone.
But she was safe.