I can’t believe Dec 8 is almost here! And with it will come Blood Bought, book 2 in the Cruentus Dragons series. Here’s the prologue:
Jonah took a gulp of his Starbucks quad espresso, ignoring the burn down his throat as he stared out the window of his wingscion’s office, high above Central Park in New York City. Though their home was in Colorado, his scion who was also the elder of their Dragon clan, the Cruentus, had relocated his workplace on Jonah’s behalf.
Jonah waited as the buzz from the espresso vibrated through his veins, temporarily easing the ache that had plagued his body for the past six months. He was his clan’s healer but there wasn’t a thing he could do to heal himself. There was nothing to remedy the absence of a mate. And while he searched in vain his body punished him for his mate’s desertion.
He chugged another swallow of the steaming drink, the scalding of his throat nothing in comparison to the twisting agony in his middle. His entire body seemed to tremor constantly, his hands mimicking those of a human with a debilitating disease. He shoved one hand deep in his jeans’ pocket while he fought to keep the other steady in his scion’s presence—not that Janos didn’t know exactly what was happening to Jonah, but most days, he acted as if the elephant in the room didn’t exist and left Jonah to his searching. Jonah knew Janos would far rather be helping him, but this was Jonah’s battle. His trial. His…hell.
“Anything?” Janos asked, finally breaking the silence.
Jonah didn’t look at him. He couldn’t. Every time, he looked at his elder, the man who was his bound wingscion and his best friend, he was reminded of the happiness that came from being mated. The sepia-colored marking on Janos’ arm told of his union with the woman he loved—Scarlett, the cousin of Jonah’s mate, Athena. Jonah had a similar mark. It had nothing to do with love, and everything to do with the torture he’d been dealt as his lot.
Six months. After six months, he couldn’t find Athena. “No,” he answered, his voice raw as sandpaper across metal. As much as he tried to hide it, the separation was taking its toll on his systems. He’d lost weight and, by heaven, haggard was a generous description of his being when he looked in the mirror every morning. It was as if he had a cancer in his soul, and it would kill him soon. It was the way of all separated mates. He tried to hide it, but he knew Janos wasn’t fooled. As scions, they shared a psychic connection that even mates didn’t possess.
“Every time I think I’ve found her, she’s two steps ahead of me,” he continued. “I’ve started scouring the old books, looking at the ancient dragon magic—”
“To scry her location?”
Jonah shook his head. “No… To remove the bond. To end my connection to her.”
Legend told there was such a spell. It would mean that—
“You’d never be mated,” Janos interrupted in disbelief. “Jonah, you can’t—”
“I can. Do you think never having a mate could be worse than this? The mating call has nearly debilitated my body because the pain and the need override all things. I suck down this stuff as if it’s life’s blood just to keep from sleeping. But caffeine doesn’t work well on Dragons, and I still get dragged into sleep. It’s like falling into a pit of razors, tearing at my body.”
“I’ve heard you,” Janos said quietly, his calm voice in counterpoint to Jonah’s agitation. It only made Jonah want to scream from the rooftops of the skyscrapers surrounding them. He now understood some of the mad Dragon rampages written about in history. They weren’t Dragons who’d started out bent on murder and mayhem. They’d needed their mates, those fucking fairytale princesses high in their towers. Yeah, Jonah understood all too well. Every minute he felt as if he were moments from letting loose a firestorm on the city. He knew Janos was exerting some sort of mind control through their scion connection to keep him leashed. Jonah wasn’t fooled. It was why Janos stayed nearby.
Yet another humiliation heaped on him by this ordeal.
“I’m going back to the archive,” he announced. The sooner he could be free of these mating shackles, the better.
“Perhaps you’d be better served to go to the New York compound. Their elder’s wingscion has strong scrying magic. Perhaps he can help you—”
And perhaps you can leave me the hell alone.
Janos cleared his throat, letting Jonah know he’d heard the mental exclamation.
“My apologies, my elder.”
Janos sighed. “Jonah…”
“I’m fine,” Jonah gritted out between his teeth. His stomach gave a violent twist, underlining the lie. He stifled a groan and swallowed more of the espresso. Dusk was nearing. How long would he be able to stave off the sleep?
Another sigh told of Janos’ disbelief. “I…I need to—”
“Go,” Jonah interrupted. “You have a family. Scarlett needs you.”
He tried not to sound bitter. He amongst all people was happiest for his elder’s mating. It was ordained and perfect and…torture to witness.
Janos left the room without another word. There was nothing to say that hadn’t been said in the last six months. Alone, Jonah gave into the agony that he’d barely contained during the meeting with his elder. His legs buckled, driving him to his knees and the thin paper cup crushed in his fingers. Burning liquid flooded over his hand and wrist. His body barely reacted, barely felt. Sluggishly, his skin shifted to scales to cover the area, too late for any real protection.
This was how Dragons who’d lost their mates perished. Their hope died…then their hearts…then their souls…then finally their shell of a body.
Jonah was three-quarters of the way there.