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by Kathleen Scott
Description: I Dream of Dragons II On the tropical island paradise of Cambry, a ghastly, flesh-eating blight is killing the dragons and threatening prime hatching grounds. Desperate to protect his beloved creatures, hatchery director Darion Archer calls on the International Field Marshall service to help investigate the outbreak and see an end to this blight. When beautiful IFM agent Serrah Gayle arrives, he is unprepared for his attraction to her--and for the fact that she has a fear of dragons. Serrah has double trouble, fighting her fear of dragons and her attraction to their sexy keeper. Yet to save these legendary creatures, she must face down that fear and draw on the power of Darion's love. They can only hope it is not too late. Product Warnings Warning, this title contains the following: explicit sex, graphic language.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2007
eBookwise Release Date: February 2011
4 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [148 KB]
Reading time: 88-124 min.
Whatever Darion had been expecting when he contacted his brother in the IFM, it hadn't been Agent Serrah Gayle. Perhaps he was out of touch, but he thought women were supposed to be loving and nurturing. So far Agent Gayle was nothing more than a badge with boobs and an attitude. Nice boobs though they were. It wasn't his fault her superiors didn't share with her the dire circumstances of the "case".
Gods, did she actually call it "a case"?
It was so easy to boil a problem down to a label when you weren't the one touched by the pain and agony of the crisis.
He spared a glance at her profile as she tapped away on her handheld. How could such a beautiful woman be so damn cold and unfeeling? They didn't program that into their agents, did they? Sure Tavil had changed when he'd joined the IFM, but Darion had always figured the training had only amplified the quiet inner strength that was inherent in his brother's personality.
She raised a slender arm and brushed pale hair back from a heart-shaped face. She pulled her bottom lip between her teeth as she read whatever was on the small screen in front of her. It seemed like such a vulnerable action for a woman who appeared to be anything but. However, that small unconscious action caused his lower belly to tighten in a kick of unexpected lust.
"Dragons are one of your biggest draws to the island, right?" She looked over at him, but he couldn't see her eyes. She'd had on sunshades since he'd met her at the shuttle port entrance.
"As big a draw as the beaches or volcano spirits." He eased back the directional control as they started up a hill. The climb cart's mercurial engine decided to take the opportunity to begin to chug and sputter as if the climb were too much for it to manage.
Agent Gayle shot him a look over the top of her glasses. He didn't take his attention from the road to give her more than a cursory glance, though he really wanted to study her in much closer circumstances. "Are we even going to make it to the settlement?"
"We'll make it."
No doubt Agent Gayle wasn't used to the rustic surroundings of the settlement. Dragon care and maintenance didn't require legions of electronic devices. Low-tech equipment usually did the best job and had been proven ever since man and dragon had formed their first bonds. That wasn't to say the settlement lacked modern conveniences--they just didn't rely on such things for everyday tasks dealing with the dragons. Records keeping was another matter.
Damn, he wished Mercia, his office assistant, wasn't off visiting her family. He relied on her to keep things running smoothly and they hadn't been since she'd left a week ago. He'd hoped Tavil would be sent home, or he'd had more time to prepare for Agent Gayle's arrival. When the call came earlier in the day to meet the IFM agent, the entire settlement had fallen into chaos to prepare. Thank the gods for Ontonio and Palmer.
The land inclined sharply. With slow, painful progress, the climb cart lurched forward as if the very gravity beneath them thickened and pulled at the cart like quicksand. The thrusters were failing and failing fast.
Damn! He shouldn't have spoken so soon. Once the thrusters were gone they'd end up having to walk the rest of the way up the foothills.
"It's still not too late to turn around and go back for a rental." Agent Gayle sounded helpful, if not a little uncertain.
Darion shifted into a lower gear. They barely stayed afloat over the ground surface, but at least they were moving. Unfortunately, the lower gear didn't allow for a great amount of speed.
From the corner of his eyes he caught the subtle shake of her head. She went back to her handheld and left her disgruntled words unspoken. Small favors. For once since the dragons began dying off, Darion felt like something had actually gone his way. If she had turned to him and started complaining, he'd have dropped the climb cart and forced her to walk on principle alone. Just the thought made him smile. Somehow the image of her getting all hot and sweaty trekking through the jungle was very tempting. She'd look even more tempting than she did now. If that were possible.
He glanced over at her as she straightened in her seat and looked over at Darion. Dark pink lips were parted on a silent question.
"According to your Chamber of Commerce, sloughed dragon scales are Cambry's biggest source of export." The statistic came out like an accusation.
"Not for long."
"No, that's my point. The question I need to answer is who or what would benefit in the loss of the dragon population."
Darion frowned as the climb cart gave an exhausted belch and chug. "No one will benefit."
"Someone has to. Why kill them off, if not for profit?"
Did her world involve so many conspiracies and machinations that the thought something could be a purely biological component sound far-fetched to her? Granted, Darion had been the one to call the IFM in to investigate, but he'd mistakenly thought his brother would arrive and request a team of scientists to discover the reason for the dragons' deaths, not a stun-rod toting militant female who made his blood boil. "There was no evidence to support that the blight is anything other than some nasty dragon-flesh eating bacteria of unknown origin."
"Like I said, I want to see the data your expert collected."
She was also suspicious.
"I'll get everything to your hut when we arrive."
"If we arrive," she muttered under her breath and turned her attention back to the small screen in front of her.
With a violent jerk, the climb cart hit the ground. The thrusters hissed and popped, straining to lift, but to no avail. They were dead on the ground.
Darion killed power to the engines and turned to Agent Gayle, who looked at him over her sunshades as if she wanted to commit murder. "I'll get your bags out of the back."
"You're kidding, right?"
"Not unless you want to sit here in the blazing sun and wait for help to arrive." A little thrill went through his body as she unhooked the harness and climbed out of the passenger seat. Aggravating her proved to be very enjoyable.
He opened the storage compartment so she could grab her bags. She nudged him with her shoulder to move him out of the way. It was hard for him to stand there and not help her with her bags. She didn't seem as if she wanted anything to do with him giving her a hand with whatever precious possessions she carried in her luggage. And yet, he found himself wildly attracted to her for some reason.
Darion started walking up the incline to the lower range of foothills. He let his glance slide over his reluctant companion. She looked fit enough, maybe he wouldn't end up carrying her at some point. But he couldn't help but dig at her. "The walk from here is pretty grueling. If you need to stop and rest, let me know."
She readjusted the straps of her larger case and configured them to wear as a backpack. "Same goes."
A smile tugged the side of his mouth. The woman was all grit and sass. Wait until she came face to face with a full-grown king Ruby. They were the largest dragons on the island and they didn't suffer fools or arrogance lightly. "Let's get walking then."
Agent Gayle raised her arm. "After you, Archer."