Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(2) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Never! Better I die by your side trying, than sacrifice your life to save mine. I will not leave you, little brother.
A single tear ran down Illarion’s bloodied cheek as they were overrun by the humans, retaken, and chained like the animals they were. Max fought as best he could. But since he didn’t really know how to use his human body, it did him no good.
In a matter of minutes, they were dragged back to their dark, filthy cage where other species awaited the same horrid fate.
Experiments for gods and man.
Disgusted and furious, he held his brother in his arms and protected him as best he could while the pitiful creatures around them howled for mercy and death.
What’s to become of us, Maxis?
Honestly? He had no idea. But one thing was absolutely clear to him. We are drakomai. We are kinikoi. And if I have to kill every human and god in this universe, above and below, my oath to you, little brother, you will fly again in blue skies as we were born to, and we will both live free of them and their wretched curses. No one will stop us.
Yet even as he spoke those words, he knew what Illarion did. Some things were much easier said than done.
And no matter the intent or heartfelt emotion, not all promises could be kept. A jealous goddess herself, Fate was a cruel, bitter bitch who often made liars of man and beast. Never one for mercy, she’d never shown any to either of them or his breed.
“Does it live?”
Max froze at the sound of the king of Arcadia’s voice as the old man neared their rusty cage. It was a gruff tone Max had learned to recognize, to his deepest regret.
“Aye, Majesty. Both of the animals that were merged with the princes survived and are intact. Should we kill them now?”
Max went cold at that.
“No!” the king roared. “Those are my sons, too. Even if they are born of beasts, they are still of my royal bloodline, whether their hearts are those of my sons or of a mindless creature who was merged with them. They are all that remain of my precious Mysene, and I will never dishonor her. Fetch them to me so that I can embrace my blood and that of my fallen queen. I want to meet my wolfson and my dragonson and welcome them to this world.”
New Orleans, 2015
“You know, really, someone should just drop a razor-wire fence around this entire place, and declare it an insane asylum.”
Max snorted at Dev Peltier’s dry wit as he set the plastic rack of clean glasses on the mat for Aimee Kattalakis to put away. With blond hair a few shades lighter than Max’s, Dev was one of the rare males at Sanctuary who was also more muscular.
Pausing behind the counter next to Dev, Aimee draped one long, graceful arm around her brother’s waist, and wrinkled her nose at him. “The correct term is mental health facility. Get with the times, you old knuckle-dragging cave-bear.”
Max laughed at the female werebear’s quick humor. One thing about the prickly bar owner, Aimee always kept her brothers and employees on their toes. She stepped away to pick up two glasses from the crate and placed them on the shelf under the bar while she sang along to the jukebox metal song. For a bear, she had the voice of an angel.
And that snarky, long-legged blonde had been one of Max’s favorite members of the Peltier bear clan since the day he’d sought refuge in the famed Sanctuary bar and grill her family had founded in the heart of New Orleans.
Wounded and barely alive after a nasty encounter with an ancient enemy, Max had collapsed on the third floor of this very building, at Aimee’s feet. When he’d awakened a week later, she’d been sitting on the floor of their attic next to him, petting the scales of his head, completely unafraid of his dragon form, and humming a soft French lullaby. She, alone, had nursed him back to health and made sure that he survived. The true depth of her kindness and compassion for others had never failed to amaze him.
There wasn’t a shapeshifter in this building or the one adjoining it who wouldn’t give his life to save hers.
But none more so than the lucky dark-haired bastard who called her his.
Fang Kattalakis came up to the front of the bar and passed around the specially brewed long-neck beers reserved for their “unique” shapeshifter metabolisms to let them know he’d locked the front door. A ritual that signified Sanctuary was now closed to the humans for a few hours of Were-Hunter respite. He angled his fortified beer at Max. “So many village idiots, brother. So few fire-breathing dragons.”
Dev burst out laughing.
Taking his beer, Max arched a brow at the strange remark, curious as to what prompted it. “Pardon?”
Fang released a long-suffering sigh as he glanced to his mate. “How attached are you to Cody? Can I offer him up as a sacrifice to Max? Please?” He glanced at Max. “I know he’s not a female or a virgin, but exactly how picky are you dragons about those things?”
Not wanting to go there for several personal reasons, Max moved to break down and clean the soda dispensers while Dev prepped the beer taps. “Depends on the dragon.”
Aimee tsked at them. “Please don’t kill and eat my little brother. I don’t want to listen to you bitch about the indigestion he’d give you, and I doubt Carson has enough Rolaids to cure that burn. Probably take half the firefighters in Orleans Parish to put it out.”
“Damn.” Fang sighed again. Then he looked up hopefully. “Hey, if I accidentally blew pepper in your face, Max, and you happened to sneeze, what are the odds you’d spew fire all over him?”
Running carbonated water into a metal bin, Max shook his head at the wolf. “Doesn’t work that way.”
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