My contribution for Secret Legends is called Dragon Kissed. I love my awesome cover!
I wrote this story, especially for Secret Legends!
It's a 40k ish standalone Paranormal Dragon Romance!
Here's the blurb:
Nothing will stop him from claiming her.
Barbara is on the run. Her brother sends her a powerful artifact with instructions to deliver it to a dragon-shifter in one of the coldest places in the world. With gunmen coming after her, she needs protection.
Arriving in Alaska, Barbara finds Jason’s friend, but she’s received at gunpoint.
Kayden and his twin brothers live a peaceful life. Being the few last dragons in the world, they need to stay away from the spotlights and trouble. But trouble is what finds Kayden in the form of a stunning red-haired who claims to be the sister of one of his navy friends—Jason Kent.
Despite the attraction, Kayden wants nothing to do with Barbara’s problem. Yet honor forces him to give her shelter and a place to stay until the blizzard ends and she can return to where she came from. He just doesn’t count that she’s his fated mate and a touch of their lips bonds them forever and turns him into her protector.
Here's the awesome cover & you can find three chapters to open up your appetite for this new story!
DRAGON KISSED ©copyright 2017 Anna Santos
Special operative, Jason Kent, was packing his bags when he heard several vehicles pulling up directly under the window of his room. He was in a hotel that was ten stories tall. Even with his room on the sixth floor, his hearing was keen enough to know he was in trouble. Running to the window, he peered out and saw three SUVs with men hurrying from them. They were dressed in suits and each carried a gun.
How did they find me?
There was no time to dwell on it. Rushing to his bed, he lifted his backpack, pulled out a wrapped package, and stared at it. Inside was a relic with supernatural powers, a very important dagger.
Jason worked for a secret organization that searched and cared for such objects. Ordinarily, he would have sent this relic to the secret organization, but it was far too dangerous to fall into the wrong hands. He knew that the Mobius Corporation had spies, and one of their most important members was eager to have it.
There was only one man who could protect it, his best friend from when he was in the Navy. They hadn’t spoken for a while, but Jason was sure that Kayden would be interested in the dagger. After all, it was directly related to him, and he’d know what to do with it and how to keep it safe.
Reaching for one of his fake passports, he picked the one necessary to leave Russia and arrive on the other side of the world. His mission was to get out of here alive and find a trustworthy courier that would deliver this package to his sister. He also needed to keep her safe during this process. He knew she would find Kayden in the reclusive place he had decided to spend his life.
The elevator was too dangerous, so he opened the door, making sure they hadn’t found him yet, and ran to the stairs. When he reached the fourth floor, he saw one of the gunmen walking up the steps. Before the enemy could make a move, Jason leapt into the air, his boots connecting with the gunman’s face.
The guy tumbled down the stairs and his gun clattered after him.
Jason sped down and kicked him in the face, watching teeth flying from the man’s mouth as he fell unconscious.
With his ears and eyes keenly alert to his surroundings, Jason picked up the automatic weapon, snatched a grenade from the man, and continued on his way.
For a moment, he was thrown back to his time in Iraq. As part of a SEAL Team, he had participated in many operations. It was war every day. He and the rest of the team had to be on their A-game when in enemy territory to prevent being gunned down. As he was trained to do, he tuned his senses to every sound around him as he descended the stairs. Soon, he reached the lobby.
A gunman pointed a gun at the head of the security guard. When the gunman saw Jason, he pointed his gun at him and began to fire. Jason dropped to the floor, overturned a table, and found cover behind it.
After realizing that the bullets could penetrate the table and hit him, he looked to his left and saw the service door. As the gunman paused to slot in more bullets, Jason jumped up and slid towards the door. With his feet, he managed to open the door just as bullets thudded against it. He ran into an alley full of dumpsters.
As he emerged from the alley, he saw three gunmen staying with the vehicles he’d originally heard below his window. Before they could fire at him, he shot at them. One of the gunmen went down and the other two dove behind their vehicles. Without delay, Jason ran to the parking lot, found his car, and slipped inside. He started it and pulled out, making the tires shriek. At the entrance, he sped faster.
The two gunmen jumped out of his way and rolled on the street.
Jason looked into the rearview mirror and saw two SUVs fast in pursuit of him. He needed to lose them in order to get the package to the courier. As he got to an intersection, he ignored the red light and continued, creating havoc with the other drivers who’d stopped their cars. The SUVs stopped, but it didn’t last long enough for him to put some distance between him and his enemies.
Apparently, his pursuers knew the area very well because he suddenly found two SUVs in front of him, blocking the way. He should have grabbed one of their communicators to listen to their plans. Too late for that, he thought.
He had four gunmen pointing their automatic weapons at his vehicle. He stepped on the accelerator and opened the car door a little. As the car sped towards the men, Jason pulled the pin of the grenade, dropped it into the car, and bailed out. He rolled on the ground as the gunmen opened fire. His car smashed into the SUVs just as the grenade exploded, engulfing all of the vehicles in a huge fire ball. Men screamed as they were consumed by the flames.
The previous SUVs stopped and men poured out of them. Jason ran to a nearby alley like never before. Bullets whizzed by his head, hitting the ground and the walls. He sped to a stack of crates that served as a temporary shield. Catching his breath, he sprinted to the nearby park where the vegetation would allow him to hide and transform.
As predicted, the men kept chasing after him. They would soon find out it had been a deadly mistake to follow him into the woodland. Once he reached the forest, he kneeled on the ground, dropped his backpack, and tried to remove his shirt. But the transformation had already begun. His blonde hair became longer and his face wider. His muscles ripped his shirt as he opened his pants and crawled out of them. His legs turned smaller, his palms and feet became paws. In seconds, the change was complete, and he had shifted into a lion. Its primal senses became attuned to its surroundings.
His sense of smell changed as he sniffed out five humans and his mouth opened, eager for blood. Yet, he had to control the beast and be smart. There were more, and they were armed. It had to be a stealth operation. Circling the place where he had transformed, he heard the men scouting the woods. They had scattered around, alone, each one searching for him.
Jason crouched as a gunman passed beside him. He pounced on the enemy, gouging out his eyes out with his paws. The man screamed, but it was too late. When his partners ran towards his cries, he was already dead.
The lion-shifter stalked his victims, slowly pacing with his mouth open and roaring when he stood behind one of the enemies. The gunmen shouted in fear and opened fire against the lion that was behind one of their own. As bullets thudded into the man’s body, Jason jumped, bit off one of the guy’s hands, and disappeared in the vegetation.
The handless man screamed, and the others moved cautiously towards the body. Suddenly, the lion sprang again and took out the man at the back. His yells were cut off as the lion severed his windpipe. The remaining two men looked terrified. Their hands shook. The sounds of police cruisers and ambulances permeated the air.
Jason heard the gunmen mumble a strategy which included ‘dividing and conquering’ to catch the lion off guard. Apparently, they weren’t aware that he was a shape-shifter and could understand them.
He decided to kill the one who reeked with fear first. His senses alerted him to all their moves, and he was able to approach the man and attack him from behind. Jumping on the enemy, he tore out his spine and splashed blood all over the leaves and dirt when his fangs tore at the side of his victim’s neck. The remaining gunman dropped his gun and ran for his life before the lion could attack him.
Jason watched as the last man ran away. Then, he returned to where he had left his belongings. There was no time to spare. Changing back into his human form, he slipped on his clothes and grabbed the backpack. As the police cars and ambulances drew near, Jason made his escape.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
“What the hell happened out there?” a man shouted. “Your mission was to intercept the operative and steal the package from him. How did a single man take out your entire team?” The 6’4” man glared at his aide and lieutenant. “I expected a lot more from you, Norton.”
Norton fixed the collar of his grey suit and lowered his eyes from the tanned face and gray long hair of his master.
“It appears that we have underestimated the Keepers’ operative. One of the men survived.” Norton fisted his hands along his body. “He’s saying that there was a lion instead of a man waiting for them. We’ve managed to keep the reports of the attack of a wild beast out of the media, but the explosion was another problem. It leaked on the Internet with amateur footage and it’s currently on the news. I’m sorry, Sir Baldwin.”
Sir Baldwin sat down. “A shifter… Do we know who he is and where he’s going? It doesn’t look as if he’s planning to return the object to his headquarters.”
“Not yet. But we are running facial recognition on his picture. We’ll know all about him soon enough.”
“Good,” the man said, getting up and walking to the window of the house he had on the outskirts of the city. It was his base of operation and the place he called home. “I can’t stress enough about the fact that we need that dagger to set our plan in motion. It’s about time that dragons take their rightful place in the modern world. I have been patient, but the Mobius Organization has been useless to achieve my real objective, and the other dragon leaders are too afraid to join me and create chaos.”
“I know, sir. This weapon will allow you to eliminate the leaders when they are in their human form and take control of all the clans that have once opposed you.”
“Only with the power of all the dragon-shifters behind me will I be strong enough to face the human militaries and their weapons. Then, the Mobius Organization will back up my plan of overthrowing the government of the most powerful countries in the world.”
“I’m on your side, Master. It’s about time that the shape-shifters rule the world. The humans have damaged enough of our planet and nearly obliterated our kind.”
“True…my kind has suffered more than any other. We are almost extinct.” Norton’s master turned around to face him. “I donated a fortune to the Society to find the dagger and keep it away from our allies. If the other leaders of Mobius find out about its power, they too will come for it. Our mole had a simple job. He should have transported the dagger to me and not trusted an operative who can’t follow the rules.”
“Someone talked more than he should have, Master. We have dealt with the men who found the relic. We’ll deal with this shape-shifter lion, too.”
Clenching his jaw, Sir Baldwin asked as he walked to his seat, “Where’s the imbecile who ran away?”
Norton faced his boss. “He’s right outside.”
“Call him in.”
Norton exited and brought the last surviving member of his team into the room. The gunman’s eyes were wide and his face was pale as he stood at attention in front of Sir Baldwin.
“You saw the shape-shifter?” Sir Baldwin asked.
“Shape…?” The man looked confused. “I saw a fierce lion that killed all the men like they were cockroaches. We couldn’t find the man we were chasing, sir.”
Sir Baldwin stared at him. “Where were you when that happened?”
The man looked fearfully at Norton, whose face was unreadable, and then at Sir Baldwin when Norton gave him a curt nod for him to answer.
“Well, I was searching for the man and trying to kill the lion, scared out of my wits. When the beast killed the rest, I took to my heels.”
“You took to your heels, uh? After all the money I’ve paid you, you ran away.” Sir Baldwin walked to his mahogany desk and pulled out a drawer. He brought out a pistol and laid it on the table.
The man became livid and sweat dripped from his forehead. “Sir?” His eyes were on the gun. “I tried my best…but…but the lion wasn’t ordinary.”
“A shot between the eyes could have brought it down.”
“It was fast. It dodged our bullets.”
“Well, let me see you dodge this one.” Sir Baldwin lifted the gun from the table and shot the man in the head. The gunshot echoed inside the room as the man fell backwards, blood streaming from his forehead.
“Too slow.” Sir Baldwin shrugged. Raising an eyebrow, his blue eyes pierced Norton’s.
“Clean this up and get me better men,” Baldwin ordered.
“Right away.” Norton respectfully nodded.
While Norton pulled the dead man’s body out of the office, Sir Baldwin stared at the wall. He needed that dagger. It was made from a dragon’s talon and designed with dragon fire. It had been forged by the gods themselves and was the only weapon that could kill dragons in their human shape. It was leverage and a way to destroy the ones who stood in his way. The relic had special powers that only a few were aware of. With it, he could merge the dragon clans and submit the world to his will. Not to mention, become the most power dragon of his time.
Barbara Kent walked out of the Alexander Jameson Museum where she was the curator of Ancient Art. Her job was to manage and oversee the museum’s collections, select the art to be displayed, and organize art exhibitions.
The twenty-eight-year-old red-haired woman was the youngest curator at the museum. She reported directly to the manager.
She had studied archaeology at NYU and had been personally selected to work at the Alexander Jameson after she had finished her masters in Ancient Art. She was planning to get her PhD in the same course and do more field work like her parents had done when they were still alive. One could say that her love for ancient objects and art was in her genes.
“Any chance you might have dinner with me tonight, Barbara?” a voice said behind her as she walked down the street to grab a taxi.
Barbara smiled and turned around to face her co-worker, Shawn. He had been asking her to go on a date with him for as long as she could remember. He was in charge of prints and drawings at the museum. He was a nice man and any woman would be lucky to have him, but she just wasn’t interested. She had a lot of secrets that she could not share. Plus, she didn’t need the drama of dating a co-worker.
Throughout her college years, she hadn’t dated a lot. Not being completely human meant that she had to hide her special abilities from the humans who wouldn’t understand. Dating was hard when she couldn’t tell anyone that she was a shape-shifter, a lioness. She was sure that any man who knew that fact would faint with fright. She hated to lie and not sharing that part of her was lying. Having sex was also a problem. The first time was still vividly imprinted in her mind and not for the right reasons.
It was with a guy in college. They had dated for three months, and he had pestered her for sex. When she finally gave in, it was in his room. Their clothes were on the floor and despite the playful foreplay and tenderness of her boyfriend, she was so nervous that she began to shift. Luckily, the guy’s eyes were closed when she was on top of him, and he didn’t see the changes in her face. Who knew what he would have done? She had pushed him away and jumped off the bed. After that, she had to take control of all her emotions and be cautious not to hurt anyone. Dating shape-shifters was easier but the majority didn’t take her seriously and were only in it for the sex since they were waiting for their true fated mate, and she was not it.
“I have a date, Shawn,” she told him.
“Huh, you said that yesterday and the day before.” Shawn huffed. “I’m starting to think you’re playing me.”
“I am not.” She smiled and looked him in the eyes, so he believed her.
She had to learn to be a good liar since her mother had told her about the ability to change into a lion. She had explained how the ability had been passed down from their ancestors and that they were called shape-shifters. They weren’t the only ones. Her parents had decided to live human lives outside a pride. It wasn’t uncommon, especially in the modern age.
Once she was able to control her shifting, her parents taught her how to hunt, run, and use her abilities. Barbara didn’t like it, but it was a part of her. She had no choice in the matter, and she needed to keep it a secret from non-shifters.
Despite being able to change into a lion, she never embraced her abilities or used them. Her brother was another deal. When she was still a teenager, Jason had joined the Navy and then the Special Forces. His medals told the story about his successful missions. She missed him, but he was always away on some mission for the Protection Security Firm that he worked for. He hadn’t called for a few days. She wondered if he was okay.
“So, you are telling me that you go out on a date every day? I won’t believe that until I see your date.”
Barbara laughed. “You will see him someday.” She called a taxi and told the driver her address. She waved goodbye to Shawn as the taxi pulled away.
Ten minutes later, the taxi stopped in front of her building After paying the driver, she departed. The building was five stories tall with lots of apartments. Her home was on the third floor.
Barbara stepped into the lobby where a security guard greeted her. “Miss Kent, a package has arrived for you. A man delivered it an hour ago.”
“Thanks, Paul,” Barbara said. “Do you know where it came from?”
“The courier didn’t say and it doesn’t seem to have a return address.”
“It must be someone sending what they believe to be a priceless work of art that should be in a museum.”
“As always,” the guard smiled and gave her the package.
Barbara collected the package and walked up the stairs to her apartment. Once inside, she switched on the lights.
Her apartment wasn’t big, but it was cozy. It had two rooms, a bathroom, and a great living area with an open plan kitchen. Her favorite part of the day was to take off her shoes when she walked through the door, strip off her work clothes, and run a bath.
Today, before doing all that, she had to open the package because she was curious about its content. Maybe it contained a real relic for the museum. They often had donations from people all over the world, and since her address and number were listed on their website, it was not strange to receive eccentric objects and donations of works of art at her address instead of her work place.
She sat on the sofa and read the words written on the package. It said: to Barbara Kent. Important.
The handwriting was familiar. She tore the wrapper off the package and the first thing she saw was a letter addressed to her. It was in her brother’s handwriting and it looked hastily written. She began to read.
I am sorry for writing to you this way instead of calling. This was the best way to send you this message without fear that it might be intercepted. It is of the utmost importance that this package doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
I haven’t told you this before, but I work for a secret organization that looks for and protects important relics…both natural and supernatural. According to a shape-shifter of the eagle clan, this relic is a dangerous weapon. It is a dagger that can kill dragon-shifters in their human form.
You may not know this, but dragons exist. They are hidden in the far corners of the earth. They rarely venture out. However, one of them, going by the name of Sir Baldwin, lives among humans. He has many powerful allies and he’s extremely rich. He wants this weapon and will stop at nothing to get it.
I was ordered to go to Russia and transport an object to London. Yet, the scholars who had found it told me what it could do and how worried they were about it. I contacted my organization and informed them about my intention of taking this weapon to the dragon clans. My decision wasn’t taken lightly, and I soon realized that I was being hunted. Sir Baldwin had spies there, and they found out about where I was, so he could steal the relic for himself. I later discovered that he plans to use it against the other dragon leaders. With their help and power, he can conquer the world.
You are one of the few people I trust. I need your help to get this to one of my buddies from the Navy. His name is Kayden. He’s a former SEAL operative, and he’ll know what to do with this weapon. He’s a dragon-shifter, and he can reach out to the other dragons and find out more about this weapon and what to do with it.
Please, you must deliver this to him. His old address is attached in the package. You’ll also find money for traveling inside an envelope. I am sorry for causing a change in your daily life, but this is important.
Once you receive this, immediately pack your bags and move. The people looking for me have a lot of resources, and they will come for you. A phone number to reach me is included. Use it only when you find Kayden, not before. Also, use a burner phone and leave your cellphone behind. They can track it.
Finally, don’t trust anyone, and I mean anyone. Not your boyfriend, not your best friend, not your boss. Don’t tell them where you are going.
Stay safe. With love,
END OF PREVIEW
You can read the rest of the story inside the Secrete Legends Boxed Set.