The Hidden, Novella 2
Grand Central Publishing (October 1, 2013)
Her Dragon, his ice, a dark mystery, and hot sparks!
Clues left by her missing father lead Lyra to a gorgeous, mysterious Caido, a descendent of fallen angels. When she discovers that his brother is also missing, she’s determined not to let the exasperating man shut her out.
The last thing Archer needs is an emotional Dragon at his side, especially one whose heat reaches beyond the icy walls he, and all Caidos, must erect for good reason. Working together? Smart. Falling in love? Foolish … and inescapable.
Don’t miss DRAGON MINE, the novella that begins this story arc!
Meet Archer in my interview featured at Book Monster Reviews!
Meet Lyra in my interview featured at Bitten By Love Reviews!
Read more about my yin/yang novellas at Book Lovin’ Mamas!
Read an Excerpt
Archer watched the shadows around the yellow Jeep while the valet fetched his car, making sure none moved. Wraiths never attacked in the open, but the interior of Lyra’s car was fair game. When he pulled past her, she fell in behind him. He kept an eye on the rearview mirror as he drove. The streetlights illuminated her creamy skin and full mouth.
Keeping her around is a bad idea. In many ways.
Unfortunately, she had information he needed if he was going to find Jeremy. He’d do anything to find his brother. Archer glanced again at the headlights on his tail. Would he do anything to help the Dragon girl? The need to help tugged at him, like someone trying to pull out a feather. Her draw to him was normal, one of the curses of being a Caido. That he was drawn to her as well, a dangerous anomaly.
Caidos had to shut down their sexuality. How many times had it been their downfall? From the first fall of the angels from Heaven to the most recent at the island of Lucifera, Caidos had paid the price for their father’s sins, a torment that never ended.
Archer pulled up to the garage entrance at the Raphael and punched in the code to allow himself and another car inside. Her Jeep appeared out of place among the Mercedes, Ferraris, and other luxury vehicles. Caidos could enjoy the sensuality of a beautiful car, her lines and curves, the purr of her engine, and the thrill of going fast.
Lyra Slade is a thrill you cannot enjoy.
She parked next to him and stepped out of her vehicle, slinging a large purse over her shoulder. Her high heels snicked across the concrete as she stalked toward him, jabbing her finger in his direction.
“How dare you drop something like that and walk away? Wraiths! What do you mean, wraiths? Are they like ghosts?”
“Worse than ghosts. Quick, get to the elevators.” He wanted her inside the building.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something dark slink behind the back of a Maserati. “They are the souls of dead Caidos who were not properly interred.” He moved behind her. “They become shadows with fangs and teeth.”
“Oh, nice.” She followed his stare. “And they followed us here, didn’t they?”
“Two of them.”
One slithered closer, hiding beneath the front tire of a blue Lamborghini. He ushered her toward the elevator, scanning their surroundings. The wraiths’ dark, slimy energy pressed closer.
“Why are they after us?” Lyra turned her back toward the elevator the moment they reached it, a sign of good fighting instinct.
His hands clamped over her shoulders, keeping her close to him. “My guess is that someone doesn’t want us poking around.”
Her body vibrated hot beneath his hands. Her skin blurred, flesh tone to yellow and back again.
Wraiths moved like shadows, vaguely the shape of gargoyles. The two flowed around the front of the cars flanking the elevator. He searched their shapes and their gaping dark eyes, a nugget of fear forming in his chest. Are either of you Jeremy?
The forms inched closer. Archer flicked a glance to the indicator above the stainless-steel door. Still on the eleventh floor. The stairs were on the other side of the garage. They would have to fight. Transforming made him vulnerable, though he would have to take the chance.
She was staring at him. “You’re…glowing.”
A powerful energy surged through his body, like an electrical charge and just as painful. He bellowed with it, feeling his wings push through his back like two hatchets. The wraiths shot forward. He readied for their talons to tear into him. Except he heard a roar and a whump. The pain and light diminished, clearing his vision. A gorgeous deep yellow Dragon fended off the wraiths as he Transformed. Her scales shimmered as she twisted around and swiped a wraith with her tail. It was whiplike, with spikes at the tip that lacerated the black form. It screamed, a sound like nails on a chalkboard, and rolled away.
The other wraith leaped, its long arms ready to grab him. He threw Light at it, burning a hole through its stomach. Light didn’t work on wraiths as it did on other beings. If he punched enough holes into its shadow form, though, he could weaken it.
“Get back-to-back with me,” he said, moving closer to the Dragon.
Lyra backed up until he felt her cool scales brush his arm. They each had a wraith to deal with. She snatched at it, fast and smooth.
He reached over his shoulder to his wings, which weren’t feathery in texture but made of a dense, electric energy. Like brushing your fingers along the tentacles of a sea anemone. Wrenching a feather out felt like removing a fingernail, but he only grunted at the sharp pain. The feather solidified into a dhagger, a weapon the ancient angels used. The wraith eyed the dhagger, silver in the fluorescent lights. Archer distracted it with a shot of Light, then lunged at it with the dhagger.
The wraith zigzagged out of reach. Archer kept checking on Lyra. She was a capable fighter, but she wasn’t used to fighting wraiths.
“Keep whacking it with your tail. What is that thing loaded with?”
“It’s got a sting like a yellow jacket times a hundred.”
She whipped it out again, and the wraith jumped it and flew to the base of her tail. It clamped on and bit into her scales. She shook, but it clung like a burr. He was so busy watching her that his adversary inched closer without him knowing. It swiped at him with claws, cutting into his shin. He swung at it with his dhagger, slicing its arm off. The arm disintegrated as the wraith uttered a guttural cry.
Lyra’s scream jerked his head around. The wraith had pulled out one of her scales and was slicing at her throat with it in wild arcs. Archer grabbed its hand, twisting it. With a screech, it kicked at Archer’s arm, pulling free to take a swipe at her throat again. The edge of the scale was sharp enough to slice into her shoulder. Blood spurted out in an arc of spray. Archer latched on to the wraith with one arm. It thrashed and scratched him, but he plunged the dhagger into its chest.
Its whole body lit up, and then it disintegrated like the other wraith’s arm. He turned to find that wraith snatching up the scale. Before Archer could grab it back, the thing cut his side. It met the same death with his dhagger. He did a quick scan of the garage to make sure there weren’t any others. Just the two. Whoever sent them hadn’t counted on Lyra being with him. Two on one was a lot harder.
He turned to find her lying on the concrete floor in human form, naked and curled in a fetal position. Her clothes were in tatters nearby, her purse lying next to them.
The elevator dinged, and the doors slid open. He scooped her up, snagged her purse, and stepped into the car. Blood gushed out of her shoulder wound, a long, deep slice. Her eyes were hazy with pain.
“Let me get you upstairs. I can heal you.”
She blinked at him, amber flames flickering unsteadily in her blue eyes. Her pain and fear overwhelmed him. He focused on the feel of her skin beneath his hands, then realized that skin was her ass, soft, round…
He could see the reflection of that fine ass in the brass walls of the elevator, his hand splayed across it, his other arm around her back. She had to be naked. Because this wasn’t hard enough. He tried to force cool energy through his being to compensate for her heat where their skin touched.
“Hurts…,” she uttered in a strained voice.
“I know, I know,” he soothed, because I can feel it. “It’ll be gone soon.”
The elevator opened, and he stepped into the apartment. He set her down on his bed.
“You’re b-beautiful,” she whispered, her eyes glassy.
“Sleep.” He waved his hand over her face, and her eyes drifted closed.
She was shivering, going into shock. He placed his palm over her shoulder, her warm blood slick on his skin. Pain seared his shoulder, hot and intense. He jammed the corner of the blanket between his teeth. She jerked, grimacing as the pain tore away from her. Then she relaxed as the last of it left her and now cut through him. He breathed through it, biting down hard on the blanket. How had she endured it? She was brave, fighting like a warrior. Finally, the pain left him, too, and he sagged with relief.
He went to the kitchen and returned with a bowl of warm water and a towel. He knelt on the bed beside her and ran the cloth over her skin, washing away the blood. There was no need for modesty because he had no sexual drive. Another side effect of the human-angel union was to suffer pain at feeling desire, others’ and their own. All Caidos had to shut down that part of themselves for self-preservation. So it meant nothing to run the cloth over her breasts, her flat stomach, and hip bones that jutted out slightly. To wash her yellow Dragon tattoo that slept as she did.
That he was taking his time had nothing to do with his drinking in her curves. Yet his fingers itched to touch her. His body stirred as it had not in many years. How long since blood had rushed into that particular organ?
He dropped the cloth into the bowl and set it on the nightstand, then pulled up a sheet to cover her. He had never been drawn to a woman. Desired one, yes, but never pulled like this, right from his soul. Archer ran the back of his fingers against her cheek, so soft and flawless. He would allow himself only this touch. Nowhere intimate that would violate her sanctity. It would be the last time he’d touch her.
You’re weak from the healing. Stop. Don’t give in.
He knew his conscience was right. Where angels feared to tread … that place was here with this woman.
Praise & Reviews
“I loved this novella! Jaime Rush created a unique and magical world of dragons, angels, and other beings. Dragon Rising was a fast paced paranormal romance, full of danger, mystery and smoking hot romance.” —Reading in Pajamas
“The witty dialogue and interactions that Lyra and Archer share made for some great reading. You get a bit of action, some steamy scenes, and a lot of story packed into a bite sized portion. I highly recommend this as a quick paranormal romance read.” —Carrie Reads a Lot