Knight's Challenge

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He agrees to her challenge, but only if she’s the prize. And this dragon never loses.

I Dream of Dragons Volume I

Sarkany has collected a fine hoard, including much of a small New England city.

But Miranda knows his true nature. To drive this dragon from her home, she issues Sarkany a challenge—give it up or get out.

He’s more than ready to play her game, but only on his terms. After all, what could be better than to add the beautiful knight to his collection?


Miranda muttered a curse. If only Linus were here. He knew the best way to deal with Sarkany. He’d devoted his life to discovering the secrets of Sarkany’s kind. Calm the breathing, she reminded herself and she counted to ten before she opened the door. To avoid meeting his eyes, she looked down at expensive leather boots, black and surprisingly scuffed.

“Come in, if you must,” she said.

“Miranda.” He held out a hand. “So pleased to meet you at last.”

She shook his hot, dry hand. Smooth skin. No scales.

Sarkany. He didn’t even hide his nature. Hungarian for dragon. She could feel his silver eyes on her. That must be why her skin prickled and her heart stuttered. She’d always felt his attention from a distance when entering his presence at city council meetings or charity events they’d both attended, but she’d never looked into his dangerous face. Photos showed him handsome and lean, with near-black hair and sardonic brows above pale grey eyes, irises rimmed with pure black—a dragon’s spellbinding eyes.

“Miranda?” He moved to her sofa and sat, then patted the cushion next to him. She walked to the back of the couch and stood behind him.

“You are not a very good hostess,” he said.

The amusement in his voice, along with the way he treated her apartment as if it were his own, would have infuriated her if she weren’t being so very careful to not allow herself to grow angry. A knight must keep emotion at bay when battling the dragon or she forfeited any advantage.

Miranda followed Linus’s advice and immediately revealed her knowledge of Sarkany’s nature. “May I offer you some sake? I hear it was invented by the Japanese to lure your type when you were being nuisances. I won’t bother warming it. You can heat it yourself.”

He laughed, and shifted on the couch. He looked at her and she didn’t turn away in time. Disaster.

She met his gaze.

At once she forgot her mission, forgot her reason for aggravating him. She’d been using herself as bait and in that second their eyes met, she was caught. What a mistake to fall into the spell of that silver gleam—his power tugged at her. Heavy lust seized her. She gazed back, immobilized by desire. Dear Lord, he’d gotten her too easily, within a minute of entering her house.

The bottomless irises made promises.

Let me stroke you. Do you know what I can do with heat? Can you imagine? Taste me. Let me taste you. Your skin, your mouth, your sex. Heat. Miranda. Take the heat I offer. Thick honey we devour together.

Her body ached to respond and her mouth opened to answer the dragon’s call. She almost leaned to him, over the couch, to that mouth. Silver eyes that created a hunger so strong it made her hands clench and her womb grow heavy.

She had to do something. Something—the sirens used music and the sailors stuffed their ears with wax.

Shut your goddamn eyes. She forced her lids closed.

He laughed. “What a pity. You don’t want to flirt with me? I should feel insulted.” He spoke in a smooth rumble as seductive as those eyes. “Shall we talk business? How much do I need to pay you to stop harassing me? Ah, now I can see the indignation in your face, even with your expressive eyes closed. All right. If you are too noble to take money for yourself, then allow me to contribute to your favorite good cause in your name. Assuming, of course, it isn’t one devoted to destroying me.”

“No, no pay.” She folded her arms over her breasts in case the tingling in her nipples meant they had visibly hardened. “No. We’ll win. If not me, then another member of the guild.”

“Oh, heavens. The guild?” His loud laughter sounded genuine. “I suspected as much, yet still, I’m amazed. It has been so many years. I must say you are hearkening back to the worst of your primitive ancestors, young woman.”

“The guild is strong.” She felt foolish standing, arms crossed, eyes firmly shut.

“Do your members still make oaths in blood? Do you still carry shards of bone?”

She shook her head, but didn’t answer. He couldn’t know Linus insisted she keep the precious small object with her every minute of the day.

“You know it’s all nonsense. The peasants stopped fornicating in the fields to bring forth good crops centuries ago.”

“Okay. Some of it might be nonsense, but I—I know you are a dragon.” Her voice cracked.

“Open your eyes. Do you see any sign of fire? Scales? Claws? You are a superstitious, silly woman. Now that I know what sort of nonsense you’re up to, I can stop wasting time on you. A pity, because I thought you might be more interesting than the usual opponent. You’re just a small dog yapping at my heels.”

“I’ll yap until you go back to your own kind. You are a dragon and don’t care about anything human. You only use us to gain wealth.”

He sniffed. “And how does that make me any different from any other businessman?”

The answer came to her, simple and perfect. A challenge. Dragons were vain creatures and hated to be bested in any contest.

“You’re right. You aren’t any different, are you?” She tried to imitate his amused indifference. “I mean, you’re just exactly like any regular old idiot of a human.”

He chuckled again. “You know, I’ve changed my mind. You are still rather intriguing.” Her heart sank at his next words. “I can see your game, of course. Baiting me is an old trick.”

The couch creaked as he stood and only a stir in the air and his voice told her he moved closer. He walked silently. “But I don’t mind playing. Tell me the terms of your challenge. If you win, I’ll vanish. Not into the hills, mind you, I’m not ready to rejoin the rocks. I enjoy life as a human too much at the moment. But I’ll leave your city.”

Life as a human. He’d admitted his real nature. She tamped down a wave of panic. An authentic dragon stood next to her and she was expected to face the danger—and not run away screaming. She exhaled carefully before asking, “And if you win?”

“If I win, you stop playing the role of nuisance ants at my happy summer picnic of a life. And you play another role for me. You’ll be my treasure.”


Copyright © SUMMER DEVON,