Synopsis from Nina Croft
Found abandoned as a baby and brought up in a children’s home, Lily Palmer has no clue that she is the last of the Dragon Princesses and destined to be mated to a king. But when she wakes up one night to find her apartment invaded by a stunningly gorgeous, but totally deluded madman, she can no longer ignore the dreams which have haunted her life.
Exiled on Earth, and trapped in human form, the dragons have waited two thousand years for the only person who can open the portal between their world and this one. Now they have found her and Malachite Smith has one job—to deliver Lily to his King. According to dragon law, only the King and the Dragon Princess together can open the portal and take them home.
But neither Mal nor Lily are prepared for the overwhelming attraction which flares between them. Or for his reluctance to hand her over to a king he despises. Can they stand as one and challenge the old ways, even if it means destroying his people forever?
“You know, all I ever wanted was to be normal.” Lily swiped the rain from her eyes and glared at the scene in front of her.
They stood on the crest of a hill. All around them, the land fell away steeply, and straight ahead, the stone circle loomed out of the mist.
“Doesn’t seem very ambitious,” Joe said, coming to stand beside her, his tall figure hunched against the downpour.
“Maybe not, but they didn’t exactly encourage us to dream big in the children’s home, and I thought—be realistic—keep my life goals small. How the hell hard can normal be?”
Too fucking hard, obviously.
She kicked a rock at her feet, and then winced. Trudging up here, cold, wet, her heels rubbed raw from her new hiking boots, she’d somehow convinced herself this whole thing was a figment of her imagination.
No such luck.
The scene before her was familiar. She’d seen it so many times… in her dreams.
It was official—she was a crazy lady who had visions.
She turned to Joe. “Sorry,” she muttered. After all, this wasn’t his fault. He’d been a real sweetie. Nor was it his fault that beneath her shirt, the mark on her arm tingled, reminding her of its existence. She rubbed it absently and caught Joe’s speculative gaze before he glanced away.
“What’s the matter, Lily?” His voice was gentle, his gray eyes worried.
“Nothing.” She gave him a bright smile. “So, this is where you found me?”
“Yes. Hard to believe it was over twenty years ago.”
A lifetime—her lifetime anyway.
Coming to this place had been a whim, when the dreams had become too much, invading even her waking moments until they were impossible to ignore. Something had told her that the answers were back here where it had all started. Illogical—but then nothing about her life made sense recently.
She’d never met Joe before—well, except for the one time, but she had no memory of that—though he had sent her a “birthday card” each year on the anniversary of the day he’d found her. He’d sounded genuinely pleased when she’d called and asked if they could meet.
“Will you tell me what happened?” That’s why she was here after all. At the children’s home, they had told her she’d been found abandoned as a baby and handed in. Nothing else. And by the time she was old enough to ask questions, she’d seen enough of life to accept that she probably wouldn’t like the answers.
Joe nodded. “I was checking the sheep down in the lower pasture when I heard some sort of explosion. I ran up here and there you were.” He waved a hand in the direction of the circle. “All alone, so tiny. You were naked but with this mark, like a tattoo, wrapped around your arm. I kept thinking—why would anyone do that to a baby?”
But a faint quiver of excitement tingled in her gut. Was this the answer to the dreams and visions? That she’d been here before. Was it that simple? Okay, she’d been a baby. Even so, those memories would be locked in her brain somewhere. Now they were trying to get out. That was all. There was nothing weird or unexplainable about what had been happening to her.
She took the last few steps, which brought her into the lee of one of the great stones. It was slick with rain, but warm to the touch, and she traced the swirling patterns cut into the rock, too regular to be carved by nature. Resting her forehead against the warmth of the stone, she allowed her fears to drain away.
Maybe she wasn’t crazy after all. She could go home. Forget all this and get on with her nice, normal life.
As she raised her head, she caught a glimpse through the gap in the stones to the amphitheater beyond—also familiar. The space was empty except for a flat table-like slab in the center and behind that, a stone arch, as tall as the uprights. She stepped into the circle, prickles shivering across her skin as she passed between two of the huge pillars.
“You were lying there, on the altar stone,” Joe said from behind her.
A faint hum filled her ears. The sound arose from within the arch, and she walked slowly toward it.
“Do you hear that?” she asked. The hum grew louder, more a buzzing now like a swarm of hungry bluebottles.
“Hear what?” he asked. “There’s nothing here.”
“But there is. It’s coming from the arch. You must be able to hear it.” It seemed impossible that he couldn’t.
She came to a halt in front of the flat stone and peered into the archway, to the gray sky and the standing stones behind it. As she stared, the image wavered, a ripple running through the view.
Her heart pounded in her chest, her whole body rigid. Even as her feet itched to run as fast as possible in the opposite direction, longing washed through her, an impulse to step through the arch and find whatever was on the other side. Taking a deep breath, she forced her feet to remain still while her hand reached forward, fingers outstretched. Joe called out from behind her but she ignored him. Flames flickered within the frame of the arch. The crackle of fire filled her ears as the scent of smoke teased her nostrils. On her right arm, the mark burned through her skin like a brand.
The noise grew and grew until a shrill scream crowded her head, drowning out her conscious thoughts. A jolt of electricity slammed through her.
Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.