The Billionaire Dragon Shifter's Mate: BBW Paranormal Dragon Shifter Romance

BOOK: The Billionaire Dragon Shifter's Mate: BBW Paranormal Dragon Shifter Romance
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The Billionaire Dragon Shifter's Mate

 

By Zoe Chant

 

Copyright Zoe Chant 2015

All Rights Reserved

 

The sun was setting, lighting up the fluffy summer clouds in pink and purple and gold. It reflected in brilliant orange on the river as it flowed down the center of the valley.

Cara Linley sat for a while watching the beautiful, romantic vista. It was gorgeous, but it was yet another thing she was seeing alone. There was a little town down in the valley, buildings clustered closely together around the river, but it was just another place Cara wasn’t from and wasn’t going to stay.

When she’d taken off running from her safe, boring, lonely life back in Iowa, Cara hadn’t pictured this. Changing everything hadn’t made her any less alone.

Cara shook her head and ran her hands through her dark hair, which fell in waves around her shoulders. Chin up. Tomorrow was another day, another chance for adventure instead of just driving somewhere.

She turned around and boosted herself up onto the railing she’d been leaning against, so that she was facing the parking area for this scenic overlook. It was empty other than her car, and led onto an unremarkable stretch of two-lane road.

The other side of the road was a steep slope. The road was thickly surrounded by trees everywhere but at this little patch of gravel with its view of the valley. She pulled out her phone and took a selfie—her road trip had given her plenty of practice at that. There was no one else around to take pictures of her at all the weird, beautiful, interesting places she’d seen in the last few weeks.

She stayed perched on the railing as she looked down at her phone to check the results. Getting a good angle on the beautiful sunset behind her meant her chin looked every bit as soft and rounded as it really was. At least she’d caught herself with a natural-looking smile that made her hazel eyes sparkle, and her cheeks were flushed pink. That was probably from sunburn, but it looked good in the picture.

She was flashing some cleavage, too, her scoop-necked red T-shirt having drifted down to show off a little more of her curves than she usually displayed. She didn’t bother to tug it up. Who cared? Cara was alone with the scenic overlook.

At that exact moment, a fast, low blur—some kind of animal—darted out of the trees and ran straight toward her. It was barking loudly.

A dog, it’s just a dog,
Cara thought.

She flinched back at the same time she realized what was happening. Her phone flew out of her hand as she overbalanced. She hit the ground with a thump that knocked the breath out of her.

Then she started to slide.

Oh no
, she thought.

She tried to grab at the grass and caught sight of the precipice she was headed for.

No, no
this is not the kind of adventure I wanted
.

 

***

 

The first Gus knew of the trespasser on Dragomir land was his brother Ilie’s voice in his head.

Gus?
Mouse scared a woman
.
She’s stuck.

Gus knew that Ilie was referring to his dog, a half-grown wolfhound-mastiff cross whom Ilie had named when he was a much smaller puppy. Still, for a moment Gus pictured a woman standing on a chair, shrieking for fear of a mouse and unable to get down.

Then he considered that this meant there was a woman close enough to Mouse to be scared by him. She must be a stranger, an out-of-towner, or Ilie would know her name.

And if she’d been frightened by a dog, she was going to lose her mind at the sight of a full-grown dragon. Even the residents of Gray’s Hollow tended to stay away from Ilie, and most of them had known him since he was a kid, shifting into a stubby-winged dragonet. Gus had to get to her before Ilie felt driven to help her himself.

Gus jumped to his feet and ran for the door.

Ilie?
Where is she?

Ilie didn’t bother with words. He gave Gus the picture of the spot: the scenic turnout off the county road, up above town. It was only a mile away from the big house. Gus could cover it fast enough on foot not to be worth going any other way. He ran full out over the familiar forested slopes.

Is she okay? Is she hurt?

Not badly, I don’t think,
Ilie replied.
But like I said, she’s stuck
.

Ilie once again gave up on simple words as he showed Gus where.

Gus ran faster, telling himself again that it wouldn’t do any good to take wing. He had to be human when he got there, after all, and the lady would probably appreciate it if he was still wearing clothes.

 

***

 

“Okay,” Cara said, twisting to try to see the back of her own elbow. “Okay. That could have gone worse.”

Her hands were dusty, fingers stained green from digging at the grass. She had scraped her elbow and jarred herself badly enough to feel the shock pass through every bone from her heels to her skull.

On the other hand, she’d literally landed on her feet, on a flat grassy place too wide to call a ledge. She was maybe fifteen feet down from where she’d been standing. She didn’t know how she was going to get back up to the road, and she had even less idea where her phone had landed, but she hadn’t broken any bones or gotten concussed.

This was basically a win.

She looked up at the sound of enthusiastic barking and saw the dog who’d startled her in the first place. He was standing with his front paws on the edge, floppy ears cocked forward.

“No!” Cara yelped, waving her arms. “Get back! Don’t—”

The dog jumped. Cara instinctively opened her arms, darting over to catch him. She got knocked on her butt when she succeeded, while the dog bounced out of her arms and stood beside her, barking cheerfully and waving his curly tail.

He looked like a puppy, but his head was higher than hers when she was sitting down, and his paws looked practically as big as her hands. He had gray, curly fur and wore a black leather collar adorned with shiny silver plates. The one at the front was engraved:
MOUSE
.

“Cute,” Cara said, standing up again.

She immediately crouched to pet Mouse. He danced around her so happily that she couldn’t resist smiling, even if her predicament was all his fault.

“Nice to meet you, Mouse. I’m Cara.”

“I’m Gus.”

For a second it seemed like Mouse had actually spoken. He was looking up at her with his friendly brown eyes, and his mouth was open in a panting doggy grin.

Cara looked around and spotted the man who’d spoken. He was standing a few yards away, where this flat place vanished into the steep slope.

Gus was
gorgeous.
He was tall and leanly built but solid, wearing jeans and a perfectly fitted soft charcoal shirt. He had short-clipped dark hair going slightly gray at the temples. He was smiling warmly, making lines around his eyes.

She couldn’t see what color those eyes were, but for just a second they caught a reflection from the setting sun and seemed to blaze the same fiery orange she’d seen reflected on the river.

Cara felt that fire reflected somewhere lower down than her own eyes—she wanted him, with a sudden visceral heat that took her totally by surprise.

Adrenaline
, she told herself.

That thought was immediately followed up immediately by a less encouraging one.

Oh God, he’s gorgeous and I’m wearing road-trip clothes covered in dirt
.

 

***

 

Gus couldn’t take his eyes off her.

He had run up just in time to see the woman catch Mouse, obviously not realizing that he was made of puppy-springs and wouldn’t be hurt by that leap. Mouse had knocked her flat, but she’d come up smiling at the ridiculous dog.

Gus’s dragon, which usually stayed curled up in the dark inside him, had
roared
at the sight of that smile.

Even before she stood up enough for him to see her luscious curves outlined by tight jeans and a low-cut top, he wanted her. More than wanted her. He wanted to take her home, to hoard her like the treasure she was and keep her safe. She wasn’t just a beautiful woman.

She was his
mate
.

When she introduced herself to Mouse with that sweet, wry smile, Gus couldn’t help introducing himself to her. When she met his eyes, he saw that hers were green with a ring of gold at the center. He felt his dragon stir further. Fire rose in him along with the desire to possess; he saw answering desire in her eyes, quickly followed by shyness and uncertainty.

She was human, of course. She might have heard of soulmates as a romantic fantasy. She probably thought they were no more likely to appear in her own life than, say, dragons.

Gus couldn’t rush her. If she was just passing through, he’d find a way to meet her again. Some way that wasn’t creepy. He’d think of something, as long as he didn’t scare her off in the first minute.

“Are you all right?” Gus asked.

He walked toward her slowly, his hands held out a little to either side to show her he meant no harm.

“You’re on my property, so if you’re hurt you can probably sue me.”

“Yeah?” Cara said, brushing herself off with quick self-conscious motions as she looked down.

“I don’t think I can charge you much for my shirt,” Cara protested with a crooked smile. “Or my dignity.”

“On the contrary,” Gus insisted.

She looked up sharply at that. He was within arm’s reach now, and when she met his eyes, their gazes locked again. He tried to hold down his dragon, lest she get a glimpse of the fire inside him, but he couldn’t look away from the ring of gold at the center of her green eyes. He made himself smile, dragging out words to finish the thought he’d started before she looked up at him with those unfairly distracting eyes.

“Your dignity is priceless. You could charge me anything for it.”

Silently he promised,
Everything I have I will lay at your feet
.

Cara’s lips parted, almost as if she’d heard that, or sensed it. Gus took another step in, raising his hands. He had to touch her.

“Are you sure you’re not hurt? You didn’t bump your head or anything?”

Cara shook her head slightly, but when Gus looked down he saw red. Literal red, blood dripping from the point of her elbow.

“Cara,” he said, keeping his voice calm.

He reached for her arm with careful hands. He was already calculating how quickly he could shift to carry her down to the walk-in clinic in town if she needed stitches.

“Sweetheart, you’re bleeding.”

 

***

 

Cara was so distracted by this handsome stranger calling her
sweetheart
that she almost didn’t process what he’d said.

Then she twisted her arm, trying again to see her scraped elbow. It stung a little—and now she could see a line of red where blood was dripping down from the back of her arm.

“Oh,” she said, her voice going a little faint. “Hey.”

The red of blood seemed very bright, suddenly, and there was a funny hollow ringing in her ears.

Oh
, she thought.
No, this is the adrenaline.

Gus put a hand on her unhurt arm, and even through the sudden haze it felt warm and steady. From far off she heard him telling her to sit down. She let him help her down to the grass, and raised her left arm over her head when he gently guided it up.

Gus took out an actual handkerchief, brilliantly white and with a flash of bright embroidery in one corner. She only caught a glimpse of it before he pressed it against the back of her arm.

The ringing in her ears subsided after a few breaths. She was left with the awareness of Gus kneeling close to her, holding the handkerchief to the soft underside of her arm. Gus’s eyes were a pale silvery gray, and he was watching her with obvious concern.

“Sorry,” she said. “I don’t usually swoon. I’m okay, really.”

“You took a pretty hard fall,” Gus said gently. “Of course it shook you up. I’m just glad I was here to help.”

Cara frowned. “How did you…”

“I live near here.” Gus looked up toward the overlook and then away across the ledge. It wasn’t exactly an answer, but when he met her eyes again Cara felt that pull again, that spark of connection.

When she was looking into his eyes, it made perfect sense that Gus had been there just because she needed him.

“I hate to just put you back in your car like this.” Gus looked almost apologetic as he spoke. “If you don’t mind—you could come home with me. I could clean this for you properly and bandage it, and make sure you’re all right.”

Cara started to nod and then hesitated. She wanted to go with Gus—wanted to go
anywhere
with him, and more to the point wanted her arm patched up better than she could do by herself with the handful of Band-Aids in her little first aid kit. Especially since after a week in the car she wasn’t sure where the first aid kit was.

BOOK: The Billionaire Dragon Shifter's Mate: BBW Paranormal Dragon Shifter Romance
5.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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