Dragonbane(Dark Hunter,book 24)(15) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
But that act had left her mother exposed to their fury and attack.
And she’d died in agony, trying her best to save her daughters and tribe.
It was why Seraphina hated the Katagaria so much and had vowed to see them in their graves.
When she’d learned that she was mated to one…
“Kill me.” Maxis had handed her his own dragon-headed dagger and lain back in bed, arms spread, his throat offered in sacrifice. “If you can’t bear this union, then free us both from it. I’d rather be dead than damned to no comfort whatsoever.”
Growling in fury, she’d straddled him, fully intending to take his offer. But as she looked into those calm, receptive, human eyes that waited for her killing blow, she’d been unable to deliver it. While she, like her mother before her, had slain countless dragons in battle, she’d never murdered a man.
Not in cold blood.
As if reading her thoughts, he’d fearlessly covered her hand with his and pressed the blade against his throat. So close, he’d drawn his own blood.
“Finish it, dragonslayer. Free yourself from the Fates’ curse.”
Her gaze had gone from his eyes to the scars on his body from his own battles against her people. Every thought in her mind had screamed at her to take his life, to end him right then and there.
He’s an animal. An enemy…
His muscles had tensed as he pressed the blade even deeper into his neck.
With her battle cry, she’d pulled the dagger away from his throat and thrown it aside. Then she’d buried her hands in his hair and kissed him, rolling in bed until he was on top of her.
His body wedged between her legs, he’d held himself completely still as he stared down at her, waiting for her to change her mind.
She’d wanted to curse him. Hate him. But she’d lost her heart to those tormented, pain-filled eyes. To the sweetness of his lips and hair the color of honey and laced with small braids and feathers. He didn’t touch her like an animal. He touched her like a tender man who saw only her and no one else.
Knowing she was consigning them both to an uncertain future, she’d drawn a ragged breath. “Finish the mating, dragon. May the gods have mercy on us both.”
But they never had.
Rather, they’d taken perverse pleasure in driving a wedge between them every day until Maxis had finally had enough of her and her people, and walked away with his heart as shattered by betrayal as hers.
It’d tied her mother’s death for the worst moment of her life.
Until she’d discovered his escape from her tribe, she’d foolishly thought that his death or absence would be a relief. That it would restore her life to what it’d been before she found him, and make everything right again.
It hadn’t. Instead, it’d almost destroyed her.
Too late, she’d realized what she’d held in her hands and not seen. What her dragon lord had actually meant to her. Everything wonderful he’d brought to her life.
A dragon hunting party had taken her family and childhood innocence in the span of one brutal night. But a single, fierce dragon lord had given her a soul and a heart. He’d taught her to smile and love again.
Most of all, he’d taught her to laugh and to live in ways she hadn’t known existed.
Then, in one single act to save himself, he’d banished her back to darkness, leaving her there bereft and heartbroken.
And she couldn’t even blame him for it. He’d endured more than any creature should have to.
Tears gathered in her eyes as she stared up at him again and those memories haunted her anew. He was as beautiful now as he’d been then. “Gods, I thought this would be easier to do.”
“Consign you to death. Again.” Seraphina bit her lip as she glanced between them. “I don’t know what to do, Maxis. Even though they can’t use our children for the spell they have, Nala will gut them if I fail to deliver the Dragonbane’s heart to her.”
Why him? Illarion asked.
She shrugged. “The spell they have requires the heart of the father of our race. The firstborn Apollite-dragon who drew first blood.”
Max met Illarion’s gaze and knew the secret the two of them had shared for five thousand years. They weren’t just bound by their mother’s blood. They’d been bound by one prince’s and pantheon’s savage cruelty.
Blaise cleared his throat. “You know… having been raised around the queen bitch of the fey folk and watching the nasty shit she’s pulled on everyone. The backstabbing. The lies. Half-truths, et cetera, I just have to ask one simple question… Has anyone bothered to find out what this spell will actually do once it’s cast?”
Max laughed bitterly. “I have a really good idea since they have Hadyn’s Emerald Tablet.”
Blaise’s eyes bugged at the mention of that. “Combine that with what you guard —”
And your heart, Illarion finished.
“Bishhhh!” Blaise made the sound of an explosion as he flung his hands out.
Seraphina scowled. “I don’t quite understand what you’re saying.”
Max locked gazes with her. “They’re not just planning on destroying this Stryker. They’re planning on releasing the Destroyer, reuniting the gods of Chaos, and reestablishing the old order.”
Blaise nodded. “If they succeed in this, honey, it ain’t just your kids they’ll kill. It’s every creature who has an ounce of light energy in them.”
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