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Death comes for everyone. Even Drake Chandali. The aging process that twists all unmated dragon shifters’ bodies into something useless has taken hold of his body centuries early. A mate could have reversed the process, but now it’s too late. To protect his team of enforcers, he leaves, and comes face to face with the woman he’d thought was human when he saved her from a fire months before.
Except she’s not human. She’s a mate.
Camilla Carrillo almost lost her family to wildfire. To discover she’s fated to mate a creature made of flame and rage, and become one herself, should be terrifying. But somehow a rightness settles inside her, especially when she’s around the glowering red dragon shifter who wants nothing to do with her.
When Drake learns Cami bears his mark—the same mark as the High King—he refuses to believe she’s meant to be his. It’s too late. How could he turn Cami only to take her with him to the grave? At the same time, he can’t walk away. Hiding her from the corrupt, rotting High King might be the last honorable thing Drake ever does with the little time he has left.
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Usually by now, when he didn’t speak, people left him alone. When Cami levered off the floor, he expected her to do exactly that, or maybe go get Rune. Shock had him freezing when, instead, she crawled onto the bed beside him, a swirl of scents—crisp winter air, exotic jasmine, and an edge of smoke—surrounding him, smothering him, filling him up.
Drake held his breath and wished her anywhere but next to him on this bed.
Oblivious to his sour thoughts, Cami reached to put a hand to his forehead.
Only he slapped it away before she could touch. “I’m fine,” he said on a growl.
Cami scowled, not remotely intimidated. “Then speak up and say so.” She backed off, but not much and muttered a word that sounded suspiciously like pendejo.
“I am not an idiot,” he muttered.
“Yeah?” The word burned with her scorn. “Do you have any idea how long you’ve been out? Two days.”
That explained why he had to piss so damn bad.
“Or is your default setting asshole?” she continued. “I’m trying to help you, and I don’t scare as easy as the others.”
Apparently, she already had him pegged. Drake grunted, then pushed up to sitting, hating the way his arms shook with that small task, a weakness that had him mentally swearing at the muscles. Hiding a grimace, he leaned against the rounded wall of the cave which served as a headboard for the mattress. The cool of the stone seeped through his thin shirt and into his skin, sending a shiver racing through him.
He scowled. Dragons didn’t shiver. They were impervious to cold.
Cami must’ve caught a nuance in his expression because she narrowed her eyes. “You’re not okay, are you?”
She reached out again, and this time he didn’t stop her from laying her cool hand against his forehead, though he had to stop himself from leaning into her touch. She tsked. “You’re burning up.”
“All dragon shifters burn,” he said.
Cami shook her head. “No. I think this is different.”
“Because you’d know.”
She ignored his heavy sarcasm. “I should go get Rune.”
Drake shifted under the sheets that seemed determined to remain wrapped around his feet. “I’m surprised he left you alone with me.”
“He didn’t want to, something about you being a scary motherfucker. His words. He needed to sleep after flying all that way, and, after the yelling, and throwing a pillow—” She paused and shook her head at him the way a school teacher might scold a small student who’d thrown a pencil. “None of the others would come near you.”
“You should’ve listened to him.” Only he got the sense she wasn’t fully comprehending his words, whether willfully or naively he wasn’t sure.
“You were out cold.” She gave a negligent shrug, only confirming his concern. “And weak as a newborn giraffe, if I miss my guess. I’m safe enough.”
That newborn giraffe comment rankled and had him biting back an irritated growl. Did this woman have no sense of self-preservation?
In a swift move, he grabbed her by both wrists, rolling so that he lay on top of her, holding her hands over her head, pinning them against the bed in a forceful grip, weighing her body down with his own. He had to hide how that small move had him breathing hard, though. He glared at her as though nothing was wrong.
“I’m not out cold now. Am I?”