It’s release day!!! I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. I knew at the beginning of this year that I was going to write this story. I saw Bookstore Romance Day, and instantly my mind went to books and dragons.
Normally, when I get an idea that won’t leave me alone, I drop everything and write that story. In this case, I already had several deadlines and couldn’t drop them in favour of something else. It was a trial in restraint.
But now we’re here! The Book Dragon’s Lair is live, and my scarred book dragon can fly free – he doesn’t want to be a book dragon, though.
If you’ve read my stories, you know my paranormal tales often are fated mates and interspecies couples. It makes me happy to write those stories.
The Book Dragon’s Lair is interspecies, Ryu the Ravenous is a dragon, and Egil is human, but it’s not a fated mates story. Dragons bond with their mates, but they have a choice in the matter, and there isn’t one significant other meant only for them.
As often in my stories, there is a tragic past. Egil has been in an abusive relationship for years, and the last thing he wants is to be with another dragon. Ryu was known for his beauty and his gemstones, then he went to war, and is now badly scarred – dragons appreciate beauty above all else – and feel he’s not worthy of his old life. He doesn’t really want his old life or the demands that came with it. He wants to be in the human realm with Egil, but he mourns his flawless looks.
The Book Dragon’s Lair
Egil Olsen is running The Book Dragon’s Lair, a bookstore on Dragon Row, while Draken the Dreadful, his mate, is away fighting a war on the other side of the veil. The relief of not having Draken around is great. For the first time in years, Egil doesn’t have to watch every move he makes. When word reaches him that Draken is on his way home after having been injured, he considers running away.
The dragon stepping over the threshold to The Book Dragon’s Lair isn’t Draken, though. He claims to be, but Egil knows his mate, and while all dragons are dangerous, the male standing before him is nowhere near as cruel as his mate. Ryu never wanted to be a book dragon. Books don’t sparkle, but if it’s the price he has to pay to be in the human realm, he will pay it. He’ll take over Draken the Dreadful’s treasure, and he hopes he can take over his mate, too. Egil doesn’t want to be mated to a dragon, but without a mate, he’d be homeless and without a job.
A few hours after having met Ryu, Egil thinks being mated to him might not be too bad, but how will they be able to fool the people around them into believing Ryu is Draken? And what will happen if the real Draken comes back?
Gay paranormal romance: 33,671 words
“I haven’t flown since I got injured.”
The tone made Egil turn to look at him. He sounded scared, and Egil hadn’t once encountered a dragon who was scared of anything. “Were your… erm… wings damaged?” Draken had taken great joy in flying, and while Egil couldn’t wrap his head around the idea of being able to fly, he could understand the loss. It must be heartbreaking for Ryu if he couldn’t do it anymore.
“No, I was in human shape when it happened or I wouldn’t have suffered nearly as much.”
“Oh… why?” Egil flipped the omelet over on a plate and grabbed a fork.
“Fire doesn’t harm us when we’re in dragon form.”
“Not at all?” He took a bite while waiting for Ryu to answer. It could’ve used a bit more salt, but it was okay and he was starving, so anything was better than nothing.
“Yes, there is pain, but our skin doesn’t melt.”
Egil grimaced and halted with the fork halfway to his mouth. Melted skin wasn’t anything he wanted to be thinking about. “Why haven’t you changed into dragon since you got injured?”
Ryu watched him for several seconds. His lips were pressed into a thin line, and his eyes were the black of his dragon. Egil shivered. He was a mix of beautiful and terrifying.
Sighing, Ryu let go of some of the tension. “I don’t know how bad the scarring will be in dragon form.”
Egil nodded. He could understand dreading the change. “Are you afraid it’s gonna hurt to shift?”
Ryu frowned. “No.”
Egil took another bite. While he chewed, he studied Ryu. “You’re not afraid of pain. Your wings aren’t damaged, so you should be able to fly, so what’s the problem?”
“I was beautiful. Close to onyx skin.”
A little light came on in the back of Egil’s mind. There was something important about Ryu’s skin. He’d mentioned it before. Egil had believed it had to do with his fascination with gemstones, but it was more. “And onyx skin is important?”
Ryu nodded. “Only the royals have true onyx skin, but I’m close. It’s valued.”
“And now it’s scarred?” Was it scarred in dragon form, too?
Ryu shrunk before his eyes. “Now, I’m scarred. No longer beautiful, no longer breathtaking, no longer Ryu the Ravenous, destined to be mated to a female as close to royalty as I am. I am ugly, treasure-less, and I go under the name of Draken the Dreadful, who was of low birth and had dusky gray skin because he was too diluted with weak blood.”
Wow. Egil wanted to lecture him on prejudice, but dragons were vain and he wasn’t sure Ryu would understand the point he was trying to make.
He popped the last of the omelet into his mouth and put the plate in the sink. “I still think you’re breathtaking.”
“You didn’t see me before.”
“True, but you’re handsome, and your skin is still dark.” So weird to praise someone on their skin color.
“Yes, the pigment remains, even if the status doesn’t.”
Egil smiled. He didn’t know what else to do. “I… maybe I’ve misunderstood, but I believed you didn’t want to mate a female of royal blood. Didn’t you say the reason you pretended to be Draken was to escape it?”
“Yes, but I wanted to come to this side of the veil as Ryu the Ravenous.”
Egil shrugged. “You’re still Ryu the Ravenous.”
“With scarred skin and without my gemstones.”
“Who cares about gemstones? You can get new gemstones, you can build a new treasure, and you can still be Ryu.”
Before Egil could blink, Ryu was right in front of him. His fingertips skimmed down his cheek. “You are my only gemstone—hair of gold and eyes of sky-blue topaz.”
Egil couldn’t breathe. Ryu looked right at him, those black eyes burning. Slowly, he dipped his head. His lips brushed against Egil’s, the touch hardly there, but it was enough to make Egil’s knees threaten to fold.
“My beautiful gemstone.”
Egil grimaced. He didn’t know if he wanted to be compared to a gemstone.
“I don’t want a female mate of royal blood. I want you. I want gemstones, but I want you to have your books. You’re a book dragon, so we’ll keep your books. Do you want to take over Draken’s treasure?”
A book dragon. Normally, Egil would’ve laughed, but Ryu was serious. Did he want Draken’s books? “Draken’s books are valuable.”
Ryu grimaced. “You want to keep them.” He stepped away and Egil almost reached for him. Almost.
“We could use the money.” He didn’t know how much money they were worth, but he suspected they were worth a lot of money. Egil loved the bookstore, but it wasn’t his. Draken owned the building, Draken owned the bookstore, and Draken owned the books behind the grid doors.
“Who do we sell them to? We want money, yes? Not gemstones?”
The uncertainty flickering in Ryu’s eyes made him smile. “You can’t trade with gemstones here. You can take the money you get and buy gemstones, but you can’t trade books for gemstones.”