Self-proclaimed science nerd and pharmaceutical botanist, Eilís Blair, finally landed her first field assignment, and not just any old research project—a year on Scotland’s Out Skerries studying plant life and ancient druidic healing practices. However, her nervous excitement is dampened when she’s seated beside a class-A jerk on her flight. Eilís is shocked when said jerk turns up on the same ferry as her and accuses her of stalking him!
Rock-star Harte Lawson has everything a man could want fame, fortune, and swarms of women he knows exactly how to satisfy. He also has a huge scaly secret—he’s a dragon-shifter. Once a year, under the moon of his birth sign, Harte returns to his ancestral home to guard the inhabitants of Draíochtia from outsiders. Especially ones claiming to be scientists.
Harte doesn’t know what to make of the woman who has his dragon rolling over and begging for belly rubs. Eilís is either a Hunter attempting to infiltrate his homeland or worse… his mate. One thing is for certain, he needs to put some distance between them and fast. When the woman falls into the North Sea, he has no choice but to break a sacred law and bring her across the magical boundary protecting Draíochtia. The druids will decide her fate…until then Harte must determine if she’s out to destroy his people or claim his heart.
I could smell her fear, which meant those who’d come out to get a look at her could too. Reeking like prey on Draíochtia would get her killed far quicker than falling into the North Sea. I turned and strode several yards away. “Stay put. I need to shift and get you out of here.”
“What? Why? Where are you going?” She took a step in my direction.
“Nowhere. Please, just stay back.” I held up a hand and lowered the walls inside me. A cold trickle of magic traveled down my spine. In a flash of light, skin turned to shimmering white scales, flesh and bone exploded and reformed, my senses sharpened, and my world narrowed to one singular focus—Eilís.
The foolish woman screamed and made a run for the forest.
I roared a warning, not to her, to the shifters in the vicinity. I’d cripple anyone foolish enough to mistake my intended mate for prey, and return later to slow roast them into a snack. The shifters along the road stared, but none followed my female.
Eilís ran in a zigzag pattern through the trees. Smart. Most humans moved in a straight line, making them far easier to catch. Not that she created much of a challenge. I could find her by scent alone, but my heart swelled with pride at her survival instincts.
She is a worthy mate.
No. No. No. The human part of my brain screamed, but the dragon would have no part of it.
I followed until she reached a clearing large enough for me to land without risking hurting her. On the ground, I settled and curled my neck and tail around my body. I couldn’t make myself appear small, but I could tone down the scary factor—at least I hoped I could.
Eilís trembled like the ending note of a guitar riff, but she took a step forward. “Harte?”
I nodded and exhaled a puff of smoke.
“This can’t be happening.” She backed away.
My reptilian brain wanted me to snatch her in my claws and carry her away to my lair. Thankfully, her proximity had calmed that side of myself enough to regain some control. I purred, soft and low, and waited for her to come to me.
It took far longer than I would have liked, but the woman inched her way closer.
She turned her body sideways and held out her hand. “Don’t eat me, okay?”
I’d like very much to taste every square inch of you. The thought deepened my purr.
Eilís jumped back and glanced around the clearing. “Who’s there?”
I shook my head. No one had come upon us. I would have smelled them from yards away. "You’re safe with me."
Her mouth fell open. “Are you speaking to me?”
“You can hear me?” Humans couldn’t link into a dragon’s telepathic speech. Hell, not all shifters could pull it off with those outside their zodiac houses. I felt the chains around my neck tightening. Eilís may have felt like a prisoner on the island, but the woman threatened my freedom more with each passing moment.
“Yes. How is that possible?”
“I’m not sure. You must have some sort of magic in your lineage.” I’d spoken a half-truth. It was possible she’d inherited dragonspeak from an ancestor. I didn’t want to face the alternative.
She closed the distance between us and reached for me. “May I touch you?”
I wanted to say no, to take to the sky and get as far away from Draíochtia and her as I could. To hell with the consequences. I had a life, a life with no room for a mate, a life I intended to get back to as soon as my lunar cycle ended.
“Harte?” Her hand in midair, she hesitated.
“Yes, do as you wish. When you’re ready, climb onto my back between my shoulder blades. I’d like to get home sometime before dusk.”
If she’d picked up on my impatience, she showed no signs. Then again, I had a word for humans in her mental state—dragonstruck.