SCORCHED DESIRE ~ Chapter One
“I so wish I was that bike,” Jilly murmured as she watched the hunk of inked-up hotness ride past her apartment on a blood-red Harley.
Jilly blinked, heat rushing into her cheeks. Oh God, had she uttered the words loud enough for Sam to hear?
Shit. Sam would be horrified. As much as she adored him, her friend could be a tad prudish.
“Nothing,” she blustered, turning from her living room window to grin widely at him. She smoothed her palms down over the fronts of her thighs, the worn denim of her jeans for some reason making her tummy tingle.
Every morning for the last two weeks, she’d watched the hunk on the Harley ride past her home. Every one of those fourteen mornings, she’d found herself feeling tingly and aroused after he disappeared from her sight.
She usually dealt with the tingly horniness with the aid of her battery-powered rabbit.
“Nothing?” Sam pulled a face at her, hurrying over to where she stood. “Nothing is making you blush.”
He looked out the window, his gaze darting around what lay three stories below.
Jilly fidgeted on her feet. The building sexual ache that always followed her admiration of the unknown Harley rider burned hotter this morning. More insistent. Demanding.
Wow, if she touched herself right now—
“The dude on the bike?” Sam wondered, casting her an askew smirk. “Really?”
“Why do you say that?” she asked, trying to sound surprised and confused as she returned her attention to the world beyond her window.
Yep, there he was. Waiting for the traffic light to turn green. She could almost hear the powerful thrum of his bike’s engine. Could almost feel its throbbing vibrations between her thighs.
God help her if he ever swung his head in her direction and found her drooling all over him. She would probably orgasm there and then.
“Well, it’s him or the geriatric on the mobility scooter on the sidewalk, and if it’s the geriatric, I’m worried.”
Jilly snorted out a nervous laugh, even as her stare slid back to the hunk.
Tummy tightening, pussy fluttering, she studied him.
Sexy as sin in black leather pants and a sleeveless black leather vest that showed off the muscular perfection of his arms, he could easily have stepped directly from her deepest sexual fantasies.
Long blond hair hung down his back in a thick plait. Stubble roughened his chiseled jaw. Dark sunglasses wrapped his eyes.
Licking at her dry lips, Jilly moved her gaze to the pièce de résistance—an exquisitely detailed and amazing tattoo of an emerald-green dragon extending from the top of his right shoulder down over his upper arm. As always, the sight of the dragon—its power and ferocity and beauty—made her pulse quicken.
Years of studying for a Masters in Norse Mythology meant she was well-versed on dragon. And Vikings. The sexy Harley rider embodied both of her favorite things, all wrapped up in one delicious, wicked package.
“Hey?” Something hard nudged her ribs. “Are you listening to me?”
She jerked her stare back to Sam, fresh heat flooding her cheeks. “What?”
Oh God, what were the chances he would ever let her live this down?
Sam rolled his eyes. “You need to find a boyfriend, Jilly Parker,” he muttered, shaking his head as he moved away from the window.
Jilly flicked a quick glance at the window. A heavy weight settled in her stomach at the green traffic light she found.
Her biker with his dragon tattoo was gone.
Maybe tomorrow she’d wait outside for him to drive past and flash a sign at him saying, Take me. I’m yours.
A wry snort tore at the back of her throat. Even if she did, he wouldn’t. A hunk like that wouldn’t look twice at a girl like her. What with her size-twelve jeans and curves that had long ago stopped being lush and voluptuous and now bordered on—
“Earth to Jilly.” Sam snapped his fingers in front of her face, expression exasperated. “Come in, Jilly.”
She swiped his hand away with a wave of hers, pulling her own frustrated face. “You need to tell me why you’re here,” she said, stomping away from the window. Tea. She needed a cup of tea. If Sam insisted on being here, tea would need to suffice instead of her vibrator until her friend vamoosed. “I’m meant to be meeting Nadine for coffee in an hour and you’re holding me up.”
A cushion smacked into her back. “Have you not been listening to anything I’ve said since I arrived?” Sam asked.
She snatched up the cushion and tossed it back at him. “No,” she said, resuming her stomp to the kitchen. “I’ve been ogling geriatrics on mobility scooters.”
“You haven’t heard about the dragon sighting? Seriously?” Sam followed her into the small space, before hoisting himself up on the counter to gape at her. “The whole side-of-a-hotel-bursting-out-and-a-dragon-flying-away thing?”
Jilly frowned. “Are you serious? That’s a thing in the news?”
Sam nodded. “The official word is it was a promo stunt for a movie, but no one is saying what movie. From what I’ve seen, the dragon was freaking amazing. Whatever the film is, the budget must be huge.”
Reaching for her kettle, Jilly tried to ignore the flutter of delicious heat in the junction of her thighs at the word dragon. An image of the hunk on the Harley’s with his dragon tattoo filled her head. Her pulse quickened. Her clit throbbed.
Ah man, perhaps Sam was right? Maybe she did need a boyfriend? Nadine—friend and co-worker—had been saying the same thing for some time now.
She filled the kettle, set it to boil and then leaned her hip against the counter and studied her friend. “So you’re here to talk to me about some movie promotion gimmick? Shouldn’t you be at work?”
Swinging his legs, he snagged an apple from the fruit bowl and bit into it.
Jilly watched him, tapping her foot with melodramatic exaggeration.
He chewed, contemplated, chewed some more.
“Well?” she finally said. The heat in her girly bits thanks to Harley Dragon Hunk had begun to fade. For some reason, she felt angry about that.
Sam swallowed with just as much drama and exaggeration as her foot tapping and grinned at her. “I’ve got a job for you.”
She blinked. “What kind of job?”
A Masters in Norse Mythology didn’t exactly open employment doors, a fact her estranged mother had pointed out all those years ago before riding off into the sunset with Jilly’s ex-boyfriend.
Sam raised the apple, opening his mouth.
“Don’t you freaking dare,” she admonished, throwing a tea bag at him.
It arced in the air with impotent trajectory and fell to the floor between them.
Sam burst out laughing, bit the apple and then answered her with his mouth full. “It’s nothing that amazing. Just a temp thing at the pet shop on 3rd. One of my clients owns it, and he needs a trustworthy person to look after it while he goes to the West Coast for a funeral.”
Removing the boiling kettle from the stove, Jilly frowned. “One of your clients owns a pet shop?” When it came to cake decorating, none finer than Sam could be found in Chicago. Nor any as in-demand and successful.
He took another bite out of the apple, chewed and nodded. “He bought it for one of his girlfriends to pacify her for not leaving his wife. When the wife found out, he ended up with nothing but the pet shop. Oh, and the vacation home in the Hamptons. And the yacht.”
Jilly raised her eyebrows. “For a boring cake decorator, you have some very interesting people in your life, Sam.”
Swallowing the last of the apple, he swung his legs and launched himself off the counter. “That I do,” he agreed. “But none as interesting as you. Now, do you want this job or not? I told Yuggie you were a natural with animals and had no problem dealing with poop.”
Jilly thought of her options. Her current job had her at a bookstore where the owner tried to feel her up every shift she worked, which meant she needed to slap Mr. Renner’s wrinkled, veiny, liver-spotted hands away from her butt and boobs twice a week.
Running a pet shop had to be better than that, even with the poop.
“I want it,” she said.
He grinned. “Excellent. Now I’ve fixed this part of your life, I’ll see if I can track down the dude on the Harley for you. You need to get laid ASAP.”
Jilly shoved him in the chest. He fell back, laughing. “Enjoy your tea, Parker,” he said as he hightailed it out of her kitchen. “I’ll see if I can find out what movie the dragon is for and snag us tickets. Who knows, they might need a cake for the opening night?”
The word ignited the fading throb in Jilly’s core, and she sucked in a sharp breath.
She pressed her palm to her lower belly. Her breath fell from her in shallow pants. Maybe she’d forgo the tea, since Sam had left.
Perhaps she’d go put some mood music on, some Adele or Ed Sheerian, and then pull her rabbit out of the bottom drawer instead. Pull the curtains and—
Outside her window, the sound of a motorbike’s engine under full throttle growled over the street noise.
Jilly gasped. She knew that engine.
Running to the living room, she pressed her palms and forehead to the window, a part of her mind scolding her for being so damn childish.
The rest of her didn’t care. Her fantasy hunk with his dragon tat and black leather and scruffy beard and sublime arms had returned.
Returned, and was coming to a halt at the traffic lights in front of her apartment.
Arriman “Ari” Drake cut back a gear and flung his Harley CVO Breakout around the corner, his heart wild.
Not because of the Extraho Venator on his tail. Not because the dragon hunter had damn near dogged his every move for the last hour.
Not because the cops involved in his current cleaning job were being particularly annoying about the hotel window and wanted more cash than normal to lose the filed complaint, nor because his media source had taken longer than he’d like to instigate the rumor the dragon sighting was in fact, a movie stunt.
Not because anger flooded through him, balancing him on the cusp of shifting into his dragon form, but because for the fourteenth morning in a goddamn row as he rode down Harper Street, his cock had turned to a rigid pole in his pants for no reason he could fathom and a hunger bordering on unsettling flooded through him.
So where did he find himself again this morning? Riding down the street, not because he needed to, but because his goddamn body and a mysterious urgency were forcing him to.
In trying to shake the Extraho Venator, he could have headed in any number of directions, but the goddamn invisible tug on his groin had brought him this way.
Down this street.
He was beginning to think someone was trying to lay a trap for him.
Shooting a look over his shoulder, he searched for the irritating dragon hunter tailing him.
No sign of him. Thank freaking god for that at least.
Ari knew of this Extraho Venator. He was an imbecile called Kestar with delusions of grandeur indirectly responsible for the mess Ari was employed to clean up.
Since Kestar’s arrival in Chicago a year ago, Ari had been busier than ever, and while he could charge whatever he wanted as the city’s alpha Cleaner—a fixer who dealt with the fallout of any dragon-related issue and made it disappear—he himself was also a dragon, and dragons did not take well to idiot hunters trying to kill their kind, no matter how much money it made them.
The fact Ari himself had somehow landed in Kestar’s sights was an issue to be dealt with after finishing his current job.
How Kestar had stuck with him for so long today was anyone’s guess. Maybe it had something to do with the fact Ari kept finding himself drawn to this goddamn street.
Throttling back his CVO, he returned his attention to the congested road. It wasn’t just a string of cars slowing him down now. The red light meant unless he wanted to run it—tempting—he had no option but to stop.
On the street that inexplicably gave him a boner.
His hog thrummed between his legs, as if the machine was as pissed as he at being reined in.
Shifting on its seat, he planted his right foot on the road and ran his gaze around the area, letting his other senses seek out whatever it may be that made this street so…so…arousing.
He could detect no hint of the honeyed-sulfur scent of a female dragon, nor—for that matter—the musky-sulfur odor of a male one on the air. Nor could he detect the distinctive tinge of preternatural heat that accompanied the presence of a dragon shifter.
Whatever affected him, it was not a dragon. At least, not one he could identify, and Ari knew of every dragon shifter in his city, including those that fell into the just-visiting category.
It was his business.
And just-visiting dragon shifters, like the Australian dragon whose mess Ari currently had the pleasure of dealing with, had a habit of causing all sorts of trouble.
The invisible tug on his gut, his groin, intensified. An itch bloomed into prickling life between his shoulder blades.
Ari held the handgrips of his Harley tighter. His heart beat faster.
Watched. Someone watched him.
The Extraho Venator? Or someone else? Something else?
His cock throbbed, straining against the leather of his pants.
Ari narrowed his eyes and ground his teeth. He didn’t like this. He was all for sexual pleasure and getting his rocks off with a willing partner, but getting hard when he didn’t know why? It was beginning to freak him out. And piss him—
A car horn blasted behind him.
Ari hissed, jumping at the noise and swinging his glare to the vehicle behind him.
An elderly woman in a Caddy waved her hand at him in a hurry-up gesture before stabbing her finger toward the traffic lights.
Ari turned back to the light. Green.
The horn sounded again, double-tap style.
He twisted on his seat and grinned at the old woman. “Yeah, yeah,” he muttered, tipping an invisible hat to her. “Keep your panties on.”
She hit her horn again.
He chuckled and turned back toward the traffic lights, skimming his gaze over the apartment building beside him as he did so.
A woman watched him from one of the building’s windows.
Sexual hunger unlike any Ari had experienced before surged through him at the sight of her. An inferno of pleasure rushed through him. His body seemed to ignite with need.
Curves. Curves and dips and hips and breasts and thighs…
Lust razed through him anew, carnal and potent and demanding. His hands burned, branded by the mere thought of cupping and squeezing the woman’s bountiful breasts. His cock pulsed. His mind whirled.
His dragon—the base, ancient creature—roared, lunging for release. Craving the woman. Craving…
Curves. And hips. And…and…
He stared up at the woman, incapable of moving. Frozen by her even as his body burned with sexual want.
Their eyes clashed over the distance.
His heightened vision locked on them, his heart beating faster.
Green. Her eyes were green. Hazel green and framed by thick auburn lashes. Green and full of a hunger as powerful as his. Hunger and confusion and—
She jerked away from the window, gone from Ari’s sight.
His dragon roared, furious at being denied. Ari’s body reacted the same, the hungry lust burning through him growing hotter, more demanding. A rain of icy pinpricks washed over him, followed by a tsunami of heat.
Behind him, the elderly woman leaned on horn again, longer this time.
“Fuck,” Ari muttered, flinging his Harley, full-throttle, forward. Through the intersection.
The pull on his gut, his groin, his very existence, deepened. Turned painful.
Grinding his teeth, Ari scanned the busy street for a place to pull over.
He understood now, the powerful, impossible to deny draw to Harper Street and its reaction on his body. He knew what it meant.
Fire Mate. He’d found the woman destined by ancient magic to be his partner for the rest of his life.
There were many things a dragon shifter could control, and many things a dragon shifter could manipulate, but the power of the mating fire was not one of them.
Dragons could lose their sanity trying. Ari had more than once cleaned up the mess left by dragon shifters in his city foolish enough to believe they could deny the force of the mating fire.
When a dragon shifter finally encountered their fated mate, when the mating fire began—a twelve-hour period of intense sexual frenzy—trying to refuse it, ignore it, ended in pain. Sometimes insanity.
Ignoring the mating fire long enough caused a dragon shifter to transform into their dragon shape regardless of where they were. If that happened, in the throes of the mating fire…
A shudder of cold dread rocked Ari. It threaded through the lust searing his lungs, his veins.
Mating fire. The early stages of mating fire consumed him, claimed him.
He was in the mating fire and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
All he could do was find the woman and surrender to the magic and lust of their joining. Find her and make her his until neither of them had the strength to stand.
And hope to fuck that Kestar didn’t find them while they were at it.
Sooo….what do you think?
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About the Authors
Dee Carney started her writing career in elementary school, creating amazing journeys starring her friends, where everyone lived happily ever after by page five. Since then, she’s been a waitress, a teacher, a scientist and a nurse. Today, Dee is a best-selling, award-winning author of over thirty novels and novellas, including those penned by her erotica writing alter ego, Morgan Sierra. www.deecarney.comDee Tenorio is an award-winning author with a few reality issues. After much therapy for the problem—if one can call being awakened in the night by visions of hot able-bodied men a problem—she has proved incurable. It turns out she enjoys tormenting herself by writing sizzling, steamy romances of various genres spanning paranormal mystery dramas, contemporaries and romantic comedies. Preferably starring the sexy, somewhat grumpy heroes described above and smart-mouthed heroines who have much better hair than she does. www.deetenorio.com
Tilly Greene was born into the easy folds of a sleepy beach town and embraces the laid back mindset she grew up with. Later, she settled into a polar opposite lifestyle from the one she’d been living by moving abroad to further her education. Despite the frigid climate, the fast pace existence melded in, making her a person who is adaptable and enjoys experiencing the diversity surrounding her. While traveling, she researches and writes erotica and erotic romances. www.tillygreene.com
Jodi Redford ~ Imaginary superhero. Lover of waffles and bacon. Scribe of erotic romance novels. A few of her readers have officially nicknamed her the Mistress of Naughtiness. She likes it because it makes her sound like an imaginary superhero dominatrix. She has won numerous awards, including The Golden Pen and Launching a Star. When not writing or working the day job, she enjoys gardening and way too many reality television shows. Jodi loves to hear from readers! www.jodiredford.com
Quinn has perfected the art of procrastination. She has a “healthy” obsession with reading and writing Romance, and an unhealthy addiction to red wine, bourbon, and dark chocolate with sea salt. When she’s not scribbling Erotic Romances, Quinn loves to curl up with her puppy, Scarlett, and watch foreign films. Quinn lives in a house that never stays clean, no matter how much she wishes it. http://michellejoquinn.wix.com/quinnauthor
Lexxie Couper started writing when she was six and hasn’t stopped since. She’s not a deviant, but she does have a deviant’s imagination and a desire to entertain readers with her words. Add the two together and you get romances that can make you laugh, cry, shake with fear, or tremble with desire. Sometimes all at once. When she’s not submerged in the worlds she creates, Lexxie’s life revolves around her family, a husband who thinks she’s insane, an indoor cat who likes to stalk shadows, and her daughters, who both utterly captured her heart and changed her life forever. www.lexxiecouper.com