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The Last Dragon (The Treasure of Paragon Book 9) - eBook

The Last Dragon (The Treasure of Paragon Book 9) - eBook

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He’s lost his royal title. She’s lost her family’s fortune. Can a gamble on each other pay off?

 

Synopsis

He’s lost his royal title. She’s lost her family’s fortune. Can a gamble on each other pay off?

He’s a dead man walking.

After three hundred years in the underworld, dragon shifter Marius must face a world that has moved on without him. Haunted by nightmares about the horrors he endured, he’s desperate for distraction. He finds relief in the exhaustion that comes when fellow dragon shifter Harlow, the alluring daughter of a washed-up Paragonian aristocrat, agrees to train him to fight.


She’s flirting with danger.

Life as Harlow knew it is over. Her family was lucky to escape execution for their former support of overthrown tyrant Empress Eleanor. Now she’s just thankful to be alive and that her keen talent for pit fighting has earned her a job training Marius. The money is the only thing keeping her family afloat, but growing close to Marius could be hazardous to her health.


Together they’ll battle ghosts of seasons past.

When echoes from his time in the underworld pull Marius back into the violent domain of the dead, can Harlow help him break his ties to the past before death reclaims what it lost?

Read sample

Ash snowed from the inky black sky, sparks of bright red fire lighting up the otherwise endless darkness. An otherworldly growl came from somewhere in the woods beyond the cave. Thick, dense woods filled with sharp claws and slashing teeth. Hunters. When they killed, they stole more than your life. Life was meaningless here after all. What those monsters took was far more chilling than just life.

“I’m so hungry. We have to try for the temple.” The voice beside him was a low whine. If a rat could speak, it would have that voice. But the other man was right. They needed food or they’d become weaker and weaker, unable to die but also unable to move unless some other soul took pity on them and carried them to the sacred place. It was the only way to move on.

“We go together,” another voice said, this one lower, more confident. Killian.

Marius couldn’t see the other man in the darkness, but he knew his face well, knew that he could trust him. They were connected somehow, from before. How exactly, he couldn’t remember. That piece of history had been buried by pain and darkness a long time ago. So long ago. A lifetime. Maybe, if he had time and enough light to see the man, he’d remember. Not that it mattered. Every day was about survival. There was no room in his mind for anything else.

He gripped the hilt of the sword hanging at his side in a black leather scabbard. The other man tapped the heel of his spear on the cave floor.

“I’ll help too,” the rat man said.

But Marius understood that only meant he’d follow behind and keep a safe distance from any violence. The man had never even found a weapon for as long as he’d been in this strange, desolate place, and the only reason he had fighting leathers was because Marius had found him some.

Killian didn’t respond. An exploding ember lit the sky beyond the cave. “Now!”

Marius sprinted toward the temple, weaving between trees at breakneck speed. A screech rang out behind him, and he whirled to find Killian facing off against a winged beast. The thing’s skin was gray and leathery, its head covered in rows and rows of eyes, and its lipless mouth unable to close fully due to the length of its many teeth. It slashed a multijointed limb through the darkness.

Marius swung his blade, lopping off the thing’s claw before it could tear into Killian. He spun, ducked, and thrust at the hunter. A metal-on-metal screech sounded as his sword slid into the thing’s steely flesh.

And then he woke up.

Marius blinked at the thing in front of him. He was no longer in the land of ash and fire. He was warm and well-fed, surrounded by shiny obsidian. On the floor in front of him was a suit of armor through which he’d stabbed a sword that was not his own. It wasn’t even an actual weapon. He realized in horror that it was part of the sculpture, the sword that the suit of armor had been holding.

“Uncle Marius?”

He spun to find Princess Charlie standing behind him in the hall, her platinum-blond curls a tangled mess and a stuffed animal clutched in her arms. What did Raven call it? A teddy bear. That was it. The girl loved her bear. He couldn’t get over how much she’d grown this past year. Her development was rapid even for a dragon. Then again, she was only half dragon. The other half was witch like her mother, Raven. It was still to be seen how the two species would manifest in the child. She’d yet to shift and had no ring as he and his brethren did.

“What are you doing up?” He silently thanked the goddess that he hadn’t hurt her. He could have. Might have stabbed her in his sleep as he had the suit of armor. “Your mother and father would not like to know you’re out of your bed in the middle of the night.”

The little girl rubbed her eyes with her tiny fists and ruffled her strange feathered wings. “I heard you.”

Marius looked right, then left, down the hall. If anyone else had heard what he’d done, they hadn’t come to help him. “I’m sorry I woke you, but you should have left it for the guards to sort out. What would you have done if I’d been something dangerous?” He was, in fact, extremely dangerous. Again, his stomach tied itself in knots at the thought he might have hurt her.

“I knew it was you,” she said, confused. “Or I wouldn’t have come.”

“How did you know it was me? Anyone could have made this noise.” He gestured to the destroyed suit of armor.

Her little nose wrinkled, and she wiped a hand across her forehead, sweeping platinum curls from her eyes. “That’s not what I heard. I heard you screaming inside my head.” She pointed at her temple. “I came and woke you up so you wouldn’t be scared anymore.”

Ice formed in his veins. He swallowed. That wasn’t normal. “You woke me up because you heard me in your head?”

She nodded. “I used my zappy zap.”

“What’s your zappy zap?”

“Mommy said I shouldn’t talk about it.”

“You can tell me because you used it on me,” Marius said. “I already know about it.”

Charlie’s brow furrowed as she thought about that for a moment. Then she clapped her small hands together.

A shock flowed through Marius, making the tiny hairs on his arms and legs stand on end. “That’s a fun trick.”

“Mommy says I’m not supposed to use it unless I’m in danger.”

“You have a very smart mommy.” Marius held out his hand to her. “Come. I’ll tuck you in.”

She slipped her tiny fingers into his, and they padded toward her room. “What was your bad dream about?”

“I don’t remember.” No way was Marius telling a—What was she in earth years?—seven-year-old child about his dreams. He seriously needed to start locking his door. He’d never forgive himself if he accidentally hurt her.

“I saw a monster.” Charlie’s slippers scuffed across the floor.

“You could see what was happening in my head and hear me scream?”

She nodded.

“Does that happen to you often?” Marius asked.

“No. One time with Aunt Avery, but her dream was pretty. Sunshine and blue sky.”

Marius sighed. “Great,” he mumbled. He’d have to tell Gabriel about this. Charlie clearly had some psychic abilities he and Raven weren’t aware of. “I’m sorry my dream scared you, Charlie, but it was just a dream. Nothing real. If it happens again, try to push it out of your mind.”

She stopped in front of her room and giggled. “It doesn’t scare me, Uncle Marius. You killed that monster. Killed it dead. You would never let it get me.”

He kissed her on her head, noticing how his hair, now completely lacking color, almost matched hers, although her eyes were blue while his were a pale silver. And her perfectly smooth and unmarked skin was a warm golden tone, not pale and covered in symbols as his own.

He gave her his most assuring smile. “I would never let anything get you, Charlie. Not on purpose. But I’m afraid if I’m having a bad dream, I might bump into you on accident and knock you down. I’d be asleep and not know you were there.”

Her young face grew serious. “I’ll send my zappy through you from far away.”

That made him smile. “Good idea. Okay, Princess, into bed.” He lifted her into the plush four-poster and pulled the frothy pink blanket over her. She tucked her teddy bear under her chin and closed her eyes.

“Uncle Marius?” she said before he could leave.

“Yes?”

“Mommy says that bad dreams happen when something isn’t going right in your life and your brain is trying to work it out.”

“Hmm. I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Maybe if you fight the monsters in your real life, you won’t have to fight them in your dreams.”

He studied the little girl and then placed a kiss on her temple. “Good night, Charlie.”

Main Tropes

  • Former dragon prince with a tortured past
  • Riches to rags heroine
  • Fated Mates
  • Friends to lovers
  • Redemption
  • Witches & magic
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