Her Dragon's Heart (Dragon Guard Series Book 8)

By: Julia Mills

CHAPTER ONE


“I’m sure you’ve got a damn good reason for dragging me halfway around the world and then marching me through a swamp in the pouring rain...”

Liam paused and Jace braced for what was to come. He knew there was no way his best friend was done with his verbal ass-kicking. Liam was the Grande Poobah of bitching. He hadn’t even reached the path to the pinnacle of his capabilities yet.

“So out with it, asshole, before I call my dragon and head back home.”

Jace sighed a heavy sigh. He knew Liam was right. Almost forty-eight hours ago he’d awoken the other Guardsman from a sound sleep, thrown a packed duffle at his chest, and told him to ‘dragon up’. True to form, Liam had done so without question, a testament to the strength of their friendship. A bond Jace could tell was wearing terribly thin. The problem was he had no idea how to explain why they were doing what they were doing without giving away his secret...something he’d been hiding since his first trip to the hospital almost four months ago.

One look into her haunting hazel eyes. A mere whiff of the spicy scent of flowering dianthus. Just one moment in her presence and he’d known. Could feel it with every fiber of his being. Had confirmation from the beast within... Melanie Whelan was his. The one woman in all the world created to complete him and his dragon in every way. Jace had found his mate.

He’d spent the rest of the day in a fog. Not sure what to do or say. His beast had begged for him to throw the beautiful nurse over his shoulder, carry her far from civilization and make her theirs forever. More than a few minutes were spent in debate with his dragon and in all honesty...the big guy had almost won. After a long walk around the hospital grounds, Jace returned to his post and spent the next few hours mooning over his newfound treasure like a schoolboy with a crush.

After a few sleepless nights, Jace had contemplated talking to Royce, the oldest Guardsman of their Force and his mentor, but as Fate would have it, things had gotten complicated. They had gotten a lead on the traitor, blown up a mansion, then lost the traitor. They also had a mating ceremony and welcomed the first female dragon in hundreds of years into the clan...pretty much same shit different day for his people. At least nothing was ever boring. It had, however, kept him from doing little more than smiling at his beautiful mate.

Rayne, the Commander of their Force, had tried to remove him from the detail responsible for watching Lance’s mate, Dr. Sam Malone, and Jace had come close to losing his cool. His guard detail was the only time he was sure to see Melanie. There was no way he was giving it up without a fight. It took some fancy finagling, but he’d been able to stay on the team and see his mate almost every day.

It had taken almost a week, but Jace finally worked up the nerve to have more than a three word exchange with Melanie. The more they talked, the more he realized how perfect she was. Her quick wit and wicked sense of humor were just a few of the things he would never get tired of. He’d always been told the Universe did not make mistakes, but it was still the most amazing thing he’d experienced in all his fifty-four years.

The cute way her nose wrinkled when she giggled with the children on the Pediatrics floor or the way her eyes shone when she helped her geriatric patients filled his heart with tenderness. Keeping himself from kissing her silly every time they were together had become a constant battle. Thoughts of claiming her as his own had become an obsession.

The more time he spent with her, the stronger their bond became. He had begun to feel her emotions, even caught glimpses of her thoughts. The intimacy of sharing her feelings was miraculous, something he looked forward to as much as his next breath. So when those feelings just stopped, like someone flipped a switch, Jace MacQuaid flipped his lid.

In an instant, he was out of bed, dressed, and flying down the road on his Harley, constantly reaching through their mating link, praying to the Heavens he could catch even the slightest sense that Melanie was okay. The longer her ‘radio silence continued, the more his panic grew. It was a new experience for the young Guardsman and one he hoped never to repeat.

Trying to calm both himself and his dragon, he thought back to the last time he’d seen her. She’d been quiet, distracted...almost pensive. Her emotions had become erratic after Kyra announced she had a lead on Calysta involving some whacked out coven of black witches/wizards known as the Dorcha, descendants of the Firbolgs – the dark aborigines from the 13th century.

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