Fires of Ballian by M.L. Rhodes
*Book 3 in the Draegan Lords series
Amber Allure bestseller
Kindle Gay Fiction bestseller
A hundred years ago, the high sorcerer of Velensperia launched a swift and deadly attack against the draegans—a race of dragon shapeshifters who’d always lived in harmony with the humans. The draegans were all but destroyed, with the few who remained, scattered and in hiding. But after a century of cruel repression, a group of them have united and begun to fight back. Their leader, Keiran Hareldson, is determined to free his people from the high sorcerer’s tyranny. For years he hid the secret of his heritage, knowing the truth would make him and those around him a target of the sorcerer’s wrath. But the time has come to fight the sorcerer in the open, and once the news spreads that Keiran is the sole surviving draegan lord, draegans and humans alike begin to flock to the draegan camp for protection.
Gaige Rizik used to be the captain of the sorcerer’s High Guard. His last assignment was to infiltrate the draegan rebel’s camp, identify the leader, and eliminate him. No one, least of all him, expected him to fall in love with the very man he’d sworn to kill. Gaige defects to the draegans’ side, and he and Keiran bind themselves to one another not only by love, but by blood when they go through the true mate ritual. With their blood merged, it allows Gaige to inherit the powerful magick of the draegan lords. But inheriting it and using it are two different things. Gaige has trouble tapping into the magick because he feels unworthy of the gift. Only half-draegan, he fears his human side and his past as the high sorcerer’s right hand will forever tarnish his future as Keiran’s mate and second in command.
When Keiran is stolen by an ancient demon from the shadow world, Gaige is left with the fate of the draegan people in his hands. They turn to him as their new lord, and he’s torn between his duty to them, and his desperate need to find his mate. Through shadow and torment, fire and darkness, Gaige and Keiran struggle to hold back the tide of the sorcerer’s ever-expanding war and stop the new and even deadlier evil that threatens their lands. In their darkest hour, only their fierce love for one another, and Gaige’s acceptance of his power, stand between them and the destruction of all they know.
Genre: Gay M/M Fantasy/Shapeshifter erotic romance
Release date: January 24, 2010
Available in ebook formats at: Amber Allure, Kindle US, Kindle UK, ARE, Fictionwise, and other online ebook stores
Available in paperback at: Coming at a later date under the title The Draegan Lords, Volume II
Lying on his back, Gaige Rizik stretched beneath the covers, savoring the pleasant pull of muscles in his body and the heat of the man lying on his side next to him.
They’d been awake for a while, taking advantage of this rare morning where they hadn’t had to get up and rush off to pressing duties. Quiet, uninterrupted moments like these had become scarce as groups of draegans and humans alike had begun filling camp, seeking the protection of the draegan lord and his draeganjhere. Most days, Gaige and his lover, Keiran Hareldson, found themselves busy from well before sunrise until late into the night, often falling into bed too exhausted to do more than spoon together and catch a few quick hours of sleep before starting all over again. But, for once, they had a couple of hours to themselves this morning, and they’d managed to find another, much more satisfying, way to start their day than stumbling into the cold dawn to prepare their people for war with the high sorcerer.
In the aftermath of their lovemaking, Gaige felt sated and relaxed. He knew from experience, however, that it would take very little to stir the fires of desire between Keiran and him again. A look, a touch, even a thought could cause the ever-burning spark between them to flare into yet another full-fledged blaze. Their relationship had been like that from the very beginning, as if they’d never be able to get enough of each other.
Keiran’s palm, callused and warm, stroked Gaige’s chest, skimming over his nipples. Each time he rubbed across the sensitive nubs, a new erotic tremor rippled through Gaige, yet also a feeling of contentment. The two reactions were no longer mutually exclusive—with Keiran he could feel lust and love, excitement and peace, all in the same breath.
“Do you remember what I’ve told you about draegan magick?” Keiran asked.
Gaige turned his head to look at his lover. “What about it?”
“How it works.”
“You mean by concentration and intention?”
“Mm-hmm. Remember how you put up a protective shield over the entrance to the caves when you helped the families with children escape Thrythgar, to keep Byram’s troops from finding them?”
Gaige rolled onto his side to face Keiran. As he did, one of Keiran’s knees slid between his legs, nudging against his groin in a slow tease, bringing his already half-erect cock fully back to life. His hand moved around to Gaige’s back where it traced a sensual motion up and down his spine. Between the two, it was hard for Gaige to think about much of anything else.
It took a moment to remember what Keiran had asked. “I wasn’t even aware at that point I was part draegan. I didn’t know I could do anything like that. I didn’t even realize I had done it until long afterward.”
Keiran smiled, his eyes sparkling like rich silver gemstones, as if Gaige had just made his point for him—whatever it was. “Exactly. You had the intention of putting up a protective barrier, and so it happened, even though you weren’t aware you were doing it. You were surprised when you found out about the shield.”
“I couldn’t fathom how I had been able to use magick without realizing it. But you said the magick had always been in me because my mother was draegan.”
“That’s right. And now, because we’re mated, you have my blood—draegan lord blood—flowing through your veins as well, Gaige. So you’re capable of even more.” He leaned in closer and stole a kiss. It made Gaige’s skin tingle, and he felt a warm ripple in the air around them, which caused him to suddenly suspect Keiran was using a little magick of his own to seduce him.
He raised an eyebrow and shot Keiran a teasing smile. ::Are you trying to bewitch me, draegan lord? I’m already your hopelessly devoted servant. What more could you possibly want from me?::
This time Keiran’s grin shot straight to his groin…which was where Keiran’s hand had gone as well. He curled his fingers around Gaige’s shaft and began to stroke it. ::Who’s bewitching whom? That stirring of energy you’re feeling? It’s not me doing it. It’s you.::
Gaige’s eyes widened and he experienced a jolt of shock that he’d once again been unknowingly stirring magick. ::Are you sure?::
Keiran chuckled. In a low voice that caused flares of heat in Gaige, he said aloud, “I’m sure. You shouldn’t be so shocked. The magick is yours to use, any time, any place.”
Gaige smiled. “If you say so.”
But Keiran, suddenly all seriousness, cupped his cheek in one warm palm and gazed deeply into his eyes. “I mean it, m’aerlas. You have to believe in your abilities. You have to believe nothing is impossible. Once you do, there will be no end to what you can accomplish.”
The last was said in a whisper just before Keiran kissed him again and pulled Gaige into the warm press of his hard, welcoming body.
As they tangled together, stroking, tasting, Keiran’s words resonated inside Gaige. You have to believe in your abilities.