Book 5 of the Dragon Heat series
By Ella J Phoenix
Descendant of a Cherokee shaman, Dyam is one of the vampire king’s personal guards and closest advisors. He has seen the worst of mankind and has vouched to stay away from personal entanglements and focus on serving his king. His resolve is shaken when Naiah, the water witch, finds her way into the busy vampire castle’s life and straight into his heart. But before he can nurture his feelings for her, she is killed in battle, causing Dyam to return to his self-imposed seclusion for good.
Little does he know that Naiah has been brought back to life by his kind’s most infamous enemies. She is their ultimate weapon in a final battle that will rupture not only the balance of the supernatural world, but Dyam’s loyalty to his race.
***Warning: this novel contains hot, steamy, descriptive sexual scenes. Enjoy.***
Genre – Paranormal Romance
Publication date – May 1, 2016
Publisher – Self Publishing
Word count - 98,500
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Black soot coated the ground matching the dark clouds that covered the crescent moon above. The air felt hot and dry against Dyam’s skin. Vampires didn’t do well in hot climates, especially ones so close to an active volcano. Sitting on top of one of the most unstable areas in the world, Mount Raung, in Indonesia, was 1,600 feet deep, and stood almost 11,000 feet above sea level―yes, it was massive. But if that didn’t impress you, well, all you had to do was climb to its top rim and gaze across the mouth that spanned across over a mile in diameter.
Dyam had done just that.
After materializing at the base of the great volcano, he slowly, carefully and methodically, made his way up, analyzing every boulder, listening to every sound and watching every shadow. Long Nose had been right―this volcano offered the perfect site for someone who wanted to carve a magic dagger out of its ashes, and at least it looked like it offered more flakes of dried lava than the other two volcanoes Dyam had inspected before this one. To the right, he spotted two lava pools. One looked older and deeper than the other. Dyam had researched the volcano before venturing down there, of course, and what he had found was encouraging. Mount Raung was the latest volcano to erupt in the world, and its dust cloud had been so dense that residents within a two mile radius of the caldera fled their homes, scared by the imminent eruption. Its site was so unstable that the villagers lived in a constant state of alert.
“Here,” a male voice resounded in the distance. “This area seems like a good site.”
Dyam crouched low on the ground at the sound of the unfamiliar voice. It seemed he had company.
“Not sure,” another male replied. “The ground doesn’t look as dry as we need it to be.”
Careful not to make a sound, and keeping his body hidden from view, Dyam made his way towards the two men. A sharp sound of metal hitting rock made him pause.
“Watch it, Osman,” the first male complained. “If one of these chards gets into my eye, it can blind me.”
“There isn’t another way of doing this, Vrajitor. We must hack into the stone and try to get a large piece in one go. Believe me, I’ve done this before.”
Vrajitor and Osman... Dyam had heard those names before, but he couldn’t remember where.
Crawling low, as close to the smut as physically possible, he reached a boulder large enough to give him cover. More chopping sounds emerged from where the two men were, and Dyam poked his head to the side, nearing the ground so as to not alarm his company of his presence, but it wasn’t enough. His vantage point gave him a very limited view of what those two were up to. Learnings from his training as a tracker came to mind―a good tracker becomes one with his surroundings. But how would he become one with a volcano?
He looked at the soot covering the mountain.
An idea popped into his head. As quickly and as quietly as he could muster, Dyam smoldered the black dirt all over his beige shirt, dark jeans, face and hands, until only his eyes were clean from the grunge. After that, he dared poke his head out of hiding a little bit further, and as he had predicted, the two men didn’t notice a thing.
The one called Vrajitor was tall, with narrow shoulders, small light eyes and greasy brown hair. His body structure and the way he carried himself told Dyam the man was obviously a draco. His friend, Osman, was not though. The white turban, yellow tunic and dark eyes left no doubt of his origins. He was a daemon from the Dry Lands.
Dyam frowned. What in Hiad was a desert daemon doing with a draco? Were these the ones planning to bring the Phoenix back to life, by carving out an ash-dagger from this volcano? Connecting the dots, he played the scene in his head. The two, for some obscure reason, had joined forces to rise the Phoenix from the ashes and since they had lost one of the daggers in the jungle, it made sense that they had to return to the volcano to dig up another one. But what in Hiad they were doing at the Emerald Lake still puzzled him.
Dyam’s expert gaze roamed around the area, taking everything in, anything could be an invaluable clue. There were two bags on the ground, next to Osman. One looked empty, probably the bag where the acquired slab of stone would go once their mission here finished, but the other bag looked full and heavy. Since the two odd companions seemed too busy to notice him, Dyam stepped out of hiding, and dared to crawl his way behind another boulder, which would give him a better vantage point. As soon as he did, his eyes locked on the beautiful woman sitting on the ground not far from him. She wore a light camisole that looked much too big for her, her long dark hair cascaded down her shoulders and slender torso, and her sun-kissed skin was flawless and smooth.
Dyam’s breath got caught in his throat, his stomach falling suddenly heavy, his mind crashing.
By Apa Dobrý, it couldn’t be, but the lady looked exactly like Naiah!
He must have called her name out loud, not only in his head, because the lady in question snapped her head toward him, catching him red handed. She blinked a couple of times, her mouth gaped as if in awe and confusion.
And then she stood up.
“What is it, my bird?” Osman asked, alarmed. His concerned gaze travelled across the rocky field, and found Dyam half way out from behind the bolder. “Vrajitor, we’ve got company!”
Damn the Soartas.
The draco dropped what he was doing and advanced toward Dyam with his axe in hand. Dyam jumped to his feet and prepared for battle, focusing on his adversary but at the same time, his mind kept the attention on Naiah, or whoever that lady was. Osman darted to her side, grabbing her by the elbow as if she were his property, and she didn’t rebut him.
Vrajitor finally lunged at Dyam, swinging his axe across in an obvious attempt to cut Dyam’s head off. But Dyam had centuries of combat training under his belt and easily dodged the attack by balancing his feet from side to side. Without breaking the rhythm, he then lifted his foot up and kicked Vrajitor on the chest, making the draco lose his balance and plummet on the soot-filled ground. Even though it was a point to Dyam, the strike didn’t keep Vrajitor down for long, and in no time the bastard bounced on his feet, ready for another round.
From the corner of his eye, Dyam saw Osman resume carving the rock, now in a much more desperate manner. Naiah’s double stood close to him, but her eyes were on Dyam.
The axe whooshed past Dyam’s ear, too close for comfort. Time to end this and get Naiah―or whoever that lady was―out of here. Yes, because by no means he’d leave without taking her with him. She couldn’t possibly be Naiah, but the resemblance was too remarkable to be ignored. She was definitely a water witch and looked to be here of her own free will, but Dyam couldn’t ignore the sinking feeling that something much bigger than mere coincidence was at play here.
A large cracking sound echoed in the open space, followed by a victorious howl from Osman. “I got it! I’m out of here, Vrajitor,” the daemon bellowed, then, without waiting to see if his accomplice would win the fight, he darted down the volcano, holding Naiah’s look-alike tightly by the hand.
Vrajitor glared at Dyam, his mouth twitched on the side on a weird grin. “See you later, vamp,” he sneered, then turned around and ran off.
Dyam didn’t waste a second, and sprinted after them.
A race between a daemon, a draco and a vampire could have been the news of the century. The last time such a contest had been seen was during the Royal Open Games, a few decades ago. The vampire won.
Dyam put everything onto his legs and quickly closed in on the three escapees. Vrajitor darted left, taking flight with his leathery wings, while Osman swerved to the right, obviously wanting to confuse Dyam in the process. They would probably use the two-against-one advantage to ambush him farther ahead, and their plan would have worked, if Dyam’s target hadn’t been Naiah’s double, not them.
As soon as Vrajitor and Osman widened the gap between them, Dyam jumped in the air and teleported straight between the turbaned daemon and the lady. His intention had been to kick Osman to the side, and dematerialize out of there with the lady in tow, before the daemon had the chance to recover. But as soon as Dyam’s body cells started materializing again next to the daemon, the air changed around them, giving away his intentions. Osman, who was probably a seasoned daemon and sensed his approach, swerved sideways and threw his sharp axe at Dyam. The silver blade flickered against the moon light, and hit Dyam across the upper arm, opening a gash on his skin, causing him to lose his grip on the teleportation. But before he lost total control, he forced his body sideways toward Naiah’s double, and locked her into a tight embrace. If he was going down, she’d go with him.
It all took less than two seconds and with the supernatural seep and forces at play, Dyam ended up tossing Naiah downhill. The two of them rolled down the mountain aimlessly at breakneck speed, crashing against rocks and anything else that crossed their path. When they finally came to a halt at the base of the mountain, Osman and Vrajitor were nowhere to be seen. At least something was working in their favor.
Dyam shook his head, trying to kick it into gear. His shoulder was bleeding heavily, his ribs were burning like fire, and his ankle was already swelling from a possible fracture. And yet, he couldn’t care less. The woman sprawled on the dirt a few feet away was his one and only goal.
By Apa Dobrý, the resemblance was truly incredible. She couldn’t be Naiah herself, of course. Maybe she was Naiah’s twin sister, but Yara had never mentioned Naiah having a twin. His mind reeled at a million miles per hour trying to decipher what in Hiad was going on. The Emerald Lake had evaporated, seemingly as part of a ritual to rise the Phoenix from the ashes, and now Naiah’s doppelganger showed up. He then remembered that they had never managed to find the red lily which should have encased Naiah’s inmã... No, this could not be Naiah. Naiah was dead. She died in his arms only a few months ago.
Feeling his healing power kick in, Dyam turned on his belly and balancing himself on all fours he pushed off the ground. He needed to check on the lady, see if she was hurt and look into her eyes to find the truth about her identity―
A bare foot moved through the air, hitting him square on the nose.
What the fuck?
The kick had not been powerful but took Dyam by surprise and down back to the muddy ground he went. When he turned around after recovering from the shock, he found Naiah’s double towering over him. Her cold glare clearly stated she wasn’t happy, but it was the confirmation he needed. Because he’d seen that look before, it was the last one Naiah gave him before they parted ways.
“Naiah? Is that you?” Dyam asked, flabbergasted.
But this new Naiah didn’t heed him any attention. Without a word, she grabbed a chunk of his long hair at the top of his crown and punched him across the face.
Argh! “Naiah, do you remember me?”
Another cross jab, then another.
Why in Hiad was she attacking him?
On the fourth strike, Dyam’s patience came to an end. He was a gentleman, raised by a Cherokee shaman, a man of peace, who had taught him that a men should never raise a hand at a woman. But the same man had also trained him to survive and defend himself, no matter who or what he was against.
Dyam grabbed Naiah’s closed fist mid-air, blocking her attack. She retaliated by gripping his neck with her free hand and using him as a lever to kick him on the gut.
Fuck. That hurt.
She then jumped in the air in an unexpectedly smooth back flip, freeing herself from his grip.
She didn’t stop though, and threw a series of kicks, followed by cross punches that would floor the most experienced boxer to the ground. Dyam managed to block every single one of them but knew that blocking wouldn’t keep him standing for long. He would have to fight back at some stage.
When she shifted her feet again, gathering momentum to start another series of deadly attacks, Dyam crouched low and lunged himself at her, locking them into an angry hug, and lifted her off her feet. The move gave him momentum, and he didn’t slow down until they crashed against a tree. He felt her exhale sharply, as if the impact had whooshed the air out of her lungs. That’ll teach her. But his vengeful thought quickly turned into awe. Standing inches from face, Dyam couldn’t help it but to gasp once again at this lady’s resemblance to Naiah.
Thankfully, due the collision she would likely need time to catch her breath, which would give him time to recover from the shock.
Yeah, he couldn’t have been more wrong.
Her closed fist hit him right in the mouth of the stomach. The pain that shot up and down his esophagus was so blinding that bile built at the back of his throat.
“Argh!” he yelped, but he knew he couldn’t miss a beat, not while this crazy version of Naiah was kicking his ass. So without losing his grip on her, he grabbed a handful of hair on the crown of her head and rammed it against the tree trunk.
A grunt escaped her lips, and the punching stopped.
He then used the few milliseconds he knew would be the only break he’d have, to swivel her around, forcing her to face the tree trunk, and locked her in his arms, his front to her back. Next, he ensured her deadly fists were detained in his grip, safely away from his esophagus, and that she’d have no way of getting loose, but she still struggled against his hold.
“Stop,” he whispered against the back of her neck. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
To his surprise, she did stop. They were both panting from the fight, and remained there for a few heartbeats. The scent of wild flowers invaded his nose, flaring his nostrils and mind in recognition. This was Naiah’s scent. Well, it was the same yet different at the same time. The closeness of their bodies added to her delicious scent proved to be too much for his confused mind to handle, and unable to stop his reaction, he winced when his groin throbbed for her.
“Who are you?” he asked in her ear, but it came out a few octaves below normal.
He received no reply so he took advantage of their apparent cease-fire and spun her in his arms. Now they were face-to-face once again.
And his brain crashed.
“Naiah,” he exhaled. Smooth cheeks of sun-kissed skin, framed by dark, wavy locks, a small, cute nose above red, thick, juicy lips. By Apa Dobrý, this couldn’t be, but there was no mistake. The woman in his arms was Yara’s tribal sister. She was Naiah.
When Dyam’s gaze finally landed on her large brown eyes, he saw his confusion and awe reflected in them, and for a moment he experienced a wave of utter connection, as if Naiah had never died.
For a moment.
Out of nowhere her gaze turned cold, her brown eyes turned white, and her irises narrowed into thin slits, as her lips lifted into an ugly growl.
He swallowed dry. “Naiah?”
Then her once cute fingers morphed into sharp black claws.
The sharp claws grew longer and longer, and no matter how much he tried to hold them down, they lashed at his face mercilessly. The damned woman was going to shred his face into little pieces, yet he held on to her despite the pain. By the gates of Hiad, he would not let her go.
Well, at least, that was his plan before something gripped him on the back, followed a wave of electricity that travelled up his spine. Unable to control his movements any longer, Dyam crashed on the ground, contorting profusely from the electric shock.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Osman smirk at him, with the high voltage Taser gun firmly in his hand. The bastard then grabbed Naiah by the elbow and walked away without hurry. He knew very well it would take a good half hour for Dyam to recover.
About the Author:
I was just nine years old when I discovered my passion for the paranormal world. That passion led me to a bachelor’s degree in Performing Arts where I had my first taste in writing, conjuring children’s plays and re-writing Shakespearean masterpieces to suit the modern times (Yes, he’s still cringing in his grave).
After years traveling around the world, translating other people's novels and devouring paranormal romances, I realized the real world wasn't fun without a touch of magic, and decided to purge my own crazy stories into paper, well, into word doc, to be more precise.
My busy life with a demanding full-time job and a very loving husband (I'm so not complaining!) don't allow me much spare time, but somehow every night I find myself in front of the computer, exorcising the millions of stories stored in my sanity-challenged mind.
My novels are tales of love and passion between strong female leads and hot heroes, bathed in paranormal magic, of course.
I live in Sydney, Australia, the land of koalas (which are not bears), kangaroos (which are not boxing champions) and Vegemite (a black spread that should have never been invented. Seriously, don’t try it).
If you want to know what I’m up to, just find me on www.facebook.com/ellaj.phoenix
Connecting with Ella J Phoenix:
Facebook - www.facebook.com/ellaj.phoenix
Twitter - twitter.com/ellajphoenix
Ten things you didn’t know about Ella J Phoenix:
1. I really suck at interviews
2. I love cheese more than I love chocolate
3. I love wine more than I love cheese... no, actually that’s not true.
4. I love a good debate
5. I hate politics
6. I truly believe in destiny
7. Mainly because I met my husband is a true destiny-knocking-on-your-door kind of situation
8. I’m a frustrated actress who found her spotlight in singing
9. I’m a frustrated singer who found her voice in writing
10. I’m addicted to awesome paranormal romance as much as you are
One Minute with Ella J. Phoenix:
Where do you do most of your writing?
In my guest bedroom/home office, away from everything else.
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh, they are so many! Jane Austen, Nahili Singh, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, and all the great indie authors out there!
What's the one genre you absolutely will NOT write about? Why?
I never say never, but “Self Help” books are not my thing.
Do you use people you know as characters? And do you tell them if you do?
Maybe and maybe… but you’ll never know. :)
Have you had any creepy fan experience yet?
No, not creepy, but I’ve had a few fans contacting me on Facebook as they read my novels. It was awesome to experience their journey through the story with them. It’s the best compliment an author can have in my opinion.
Does your family know about ALL the books/stories you've written, or are you keeping a few hidden?
My immediate family are my biggest fans. But unfortunately, sex is still a taboo in many communities, including mine. Not everyone understands how liberating a good erotic romance can be. Maybe one day we’ll be able to share our stories without the fear of retaliation and hypocritical judgement.
Last, but not least, is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
I write because I have a million stories and characters in my mind. It’s my therapy, my escape from reality, my happy place. Without you, my fans, I would be just a crazy woman locked in a boring day job or in a mental institution. So, thank you for your support and I hope my novels bring magic into your days as much as they bring to mine.