Draoithe: The Dark Gift

Volume Seven

by Ophelia Kee

Draoithe The Dark Gift - Ophelia Kee
Editions:Kindle: $ 4.99
ISBN: 1086200500
Pages: 378

Flame is scarred from a past filled with lies, deceptions, and heartbreak. He is not guilty of what his brothers believe, but Blaze is the only one who knows the truth. He was betrayed by the king he had served. The girls he gave the dark gift to had been innocent.

When he finds his Valkyrie, beaten, raped, broken, and fading after having been forced to accept the dark gift without her consent, Flame vows that he will do anything to save her. The light seems gone from both her and the world she finds herself in. Little does Flame know that for her to have the light again, he will sacrifice his honor, his integrity, and his life after breaking every law he can manage to break and even demand absolution for crimes he never committed.

Many men say they will die for the love of their life. Flame somehow needs to do it four damn times, find a way to fix not only her broken magic, but fix her broken spirit as well, and then figure out how to live for her! All men wish to love a vampire, but Flame burns in his soul for one who holds the fire and has been granted the dark gift of an immortal vampire princess.

Published:
Genres:
Tags:
Tropes: Band of Brothers/Sisters, Band of Misfits, Born Hero, Dark Enemy, Dark Lord, Death by Sex, Dragonriders, Evolving Powers, Fallen Hero, Fated Mates, Immortality, Interspecies Romance, Library of Secrets, Parallel Worlds, Redemption Arc, Reluctant Hero, Reluctant Vampires, Secret Royalty, Sex Magic
Word Count: 91154
Setting: Tyler Tx, Draoithe
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Excerpt:

1 Flame

He stood staring. The man who’d been raping her was writhing in pain at his feet, forgotten for the moment. He was inconsequential, nothing compared to her.

She was a vjestice vampire. Her long red hair was matted and tangled.

Just that alone was enough to make Flame want to send his anger in plumes of fire at her attacker.

She was tied face down to the cot. She was delirious with the thirst, tormented with hunger. Her black eyes were wide with fear.

Flame was frozen, lost in the vision momentarily. Flashbacks of another life tormented him before he banished them along with his fear. His memories couldn’t help her, and that was the only thing that mattered.

Flame kicked the man he’d beaten bloody, then passed judgment on the man after he’d bitten him. He was made a full eunuch in short order with the swipe of a razor-sharp claw and dragon flame.

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Flame took his identity along with his magic, and the man swore his oath to serve the Valkyrie for eternity. None denied a dragon who was in the performance of his duties on the orders of his king.

The man would be the dragonsworn servant to the vampire he’d been brutalizing for all time. It would never be enough payment for the crimes he’d perpetrated against her, but if it would help her heal, then that was how it would be.

If he failed to help her, Flame would give the man to the dawn hopefully without beating him to death first. He was sacrifice already, but it was dishonorable to harm someone weaker.

At the moment his anger was winning the war with his honor. She should never have been so abused.

Flame approached her carefully after ordering her servant to wait. She struggled weakly against the restraints to try to get away from him. She feared him.

Flame moved slowly and spoke softly to her.

The last thing he wanted was for her to be afraid of him. Considering what she’d been through, he knew that she wouldn’t see him as her rescuer immediately. She would likely see him as just another male abuser.

She looked at him wild-eyed. Her fear was evident although she seemed resigned to her fate as she was still trapped. Her restraints held her securely.

He prayed she couldn’t run from him. He might never catch her if she bolted. Vampires were fast.

“I wish to assist you. Will you accept my help?” He asked her softly.

He couldn’t force it on her. Too much had been forced on her already. Flame wanted her to see him differently than those who’d harmed her. He needed to gain her trust.

Flame wanted to calm her. He couldn’t tell if she had any more wounds or if any bones were broken.

If she needed more than to feed, he needed to assess that. They also needed to move swiftly.

The evil that permeated the warehouse should be burned away. It made his skin crawl.

She nodded that she would accept help, and he reached around her to cut the restraints away from her wrists and ankles.

She breathed in deep as if she were sniffing in his scent. It felt nice, but he thought it was strange behavior unless she wanted to taste him.

When she was free, and Flame had stepped back to get a blanket to cover her, her fangs had extended. He laid the blanket over her and wondered.

Had she smelled his blood? Did she want to drink from him?

She didn’t look like one who suffered from bloodlust. Perhaps the thirst had just taken her over the edge, and her control was failing her.

He looked at the servant. She could drink from him. Flame would stop her after only a little. Just enough to quiet the thirst, and Flame would hunt for her later.

He brought the servant to her and slit his wrist with his claw and held it to her face. As soon as the smell of blood reached her, she had her fangs deep in her servant’s wrist.

Her servant was silently trying to pull away, and even though Flame knew the venom was burning him, Flame held the man firmly in place. He was meant to serve her needs.

She drank deep. If he didn’t fear the bloodlust, Flame would have allowed her to drink her fill though it ended in her servant’s death.

How long had she gone without feeding? Far too long.

He couldn’t allow her to be further harmed. After two minutes, he forcefully separated the servant’s wrist from her fangs. He let the dragon flames seal the servant’s wrist injury before he pushed the servant away from her.

Flame watched her. She just lay still.

She was still too weak to move much more than her eyes. She lifted one hand and tried to brush the loose strands of hair from her face. She missed and sighed as she allowed her hand to fall back to the cot too weak to try again.

Flame was too afraid of the blood lust to give her more blood to combat her weakness. It should have helped more than it did. Perhaps there was something else wrong.

“I’m Flame. Will you tell me your name?” He asked her quietly.

She was Nightshade to him, but he wanted her human name, to hear her speak to him. He wanted to learn her.

“Hannah O’Keefe.”

She whispered it before she closed her eyes. Her voice carried the signature soft, slightly slurred tones of the vampire. It drew him in.

The siren song of the vampire was irresistible to Flame. Something about vampires excited him as no other ever had.

She was from the kingdom of Munster? Wait, that no longer existed. Was it still possible that the women of her lineage were den lasair?

She had the hair for it and the right last name. It was fitting that her family’s lion represented deathless courage as she was now a vampire.

Did she even know of her possible heritage? He studied her aura, the flame was present. Nightshade could command the fire from the well. Did she know?

She was beautiful in the way that all true Gaelic Irish women were. Fair clear skin made more creamy white by her vampiric state. Freckles were sprinkled across her cheeks and the bridge of her nose.

Flame knew she was his mate, but he hadn’t been prepared for the level of intensity that looking upon her stirred his feelings. He’d never felt desire for a woman so keenly as he felt it for this one. And she was a vampire.

It couldn’t have gotten any more complicated. It didn’t matter. She was for him. He would deal with the rest later.

Hannah made it difficult for him to think. She was certainly in no condition to view him as a suitor.

He had to move her out of the vile warehouse he found her in. He needed to finish the mission.

He would have time to try and figure out what to do when they were safe and far from where they were. Her safety and current physical comfort were all he needed to handle at the moment. That he could manage easily.

He didn’t need to know how her skin felt or her hair smelled. But he couldn’t stop himself from cataloging it all anyway.

“I need to carry you from here. I need to get you away to someplace safe and comfortable. Will you permit me to lift you and move you from here?”

Flame knew she wouldn’t be walking out. He wanted to beg her, but that was inappropriate behavior.

His singular desire to help vampires, especially beautiful red-headed ones was tamped down. His raging need to help his mate was harder to tame, but the last thing he needed was his brothers’ scrutiny.

It was bad enough that Ash had found him working for the vjestice of an enclave in Romania hunting down rogue vampires there about a hundred years ago. He’d gone there to learn and stayed to help them with a minor problem in exchange for that knowledge.

Ash never asked, and Flame never explained. He was only glad that he’d sent Flare away before Ash caught up with him.

“Please, just don’t let them find me,” she pleaded softly.

She had that soft drawl heard in vampire speech that accompanied the vampire allure. But she wasn’t actively trying to draw him in. Still, she was beyond sexy.

Who were they? Who was she trying to avoid? Who was chasing after his treasure?

Flame felt his anger rising. None would be taking her from him! She was his treasure. He found her. Only a fool attempted to steal from a dragon.

“Who’s looking for you?” He had to ask.

Flame needed to know if there was a threat to her. He would eliminate any threat to her. She was to be protected at all costs. Dying would be worth it so long as she remained safe.

“The ones like you,” she whispered, but her energy was gone.

What did she mean, like himself? Did she mean other dragons? Was she concerned about his brothers? It didn’t make sense.

Did she know other dragons? Did she even know that he was a dragon? How? Why would she be afraid of them if she did know them? Too many questions for later.

He gently turned her body, wrapped the blanket around her, and lifted her into his arms. She weighed nothing, further angering him.

He settled her head against his chest and his bicep so she couldn’t fall. Flame met up with his brothers, Luke, and Javier.

When they were all ready, Luke gave the orders, and they left the warehouse burning behind them. The evil would be cleaned away.

They did a repeat performance of the warehouse they’d taken first and were headed to the safehouse crowded into the vans in short order. Once there, Luke gave more orders.

The shifters all ate. Magic required energy. Flame followed his orders without tasting his food, but his attention never strayed from the beautiful vampire.

Flame had difficulty concentrating on anything but Hannah. He managed to get a nightgown on her slender frame and wrapped her back in the blanket.

She was very weak, and she wasn’t healing. He feared she’d gone into shock. She might fade.

That thought damn near panicked him. He pushed it away and concentrated on assessing what he knew.

Drinking from the servant had not seemed to help her much. The thirst was still riding her hard. She needed blood. She needed to feed.

Flame was worried. Her eyes were black, but she wasn’t in her vampire guise.

He didn’t believe that she’d always had black eyes. Something was very wrong.

She wasn’t locked to another. At least not properly, otherwise she would’ve been safe from her rapist. That hadn’t been the case.

He had to put the images out of his mind or the servant would get a second beating.

Flame and his brother Blaze had done a lot of research into sedr and veritas magic. They had been trying to understand how dragon magic functioned and mutated to create vampires.

He was sure that something had been done to lock her somehow, but what was the lock for? Could he break it?

He wanted to see her eyes. He bet they were green.

Hannah’s black eye color looked more like that of a locked shifter mate in their more formidable animal state. She wasn’t a shifter.

If she wasn’t locked sexually, then what had been done to her? He chewed on all the questions his observations led to. He had far more questions than he had answers.

Flame needed to get her someplace safe and quiet so he could think it out and figure out how to help her.

When Luke gave the order to vacate the safehouse, Flame couldn’t have been happier to be leaving. The sooner he could get her to someplace safe, the quicker he could figure out the situation and implement any solution.

They arrived at the dragons’ temporary residence more than an hour before dawn. Flame carried his treasure into his bedroom. He kicked the door closed behind him after ordering Hannah’s man to guard the door.

With no name left to him and part of his soul stolen with it, Flame named the servant for Nightshade after her.

His dragon nature wanted to hoard her away from the world. He wasn’t in the mood to fight that at the moment.

The servant was despicable and shouldn’t be too close to his mistress until Flame had better control. Guarding her door against anyone who might molest her peace was the best place for him at that moment.

The room was dark. Technically, it wasn’t a bedroom. It had been designed as a small media room or maybe a large office area. It had no windows.

Flame had no opposition from the others when he claimed the space as his dragon lair. In retrospect, it seemed fortuitous.

No windows equaled no danger to Nightshade. The sun wouldn’t be able to reach her and take her from him.

The room had two large wardrobes, two large chests of drawers, two nice armchairs, a small table, two nightstands with lamps on either side of the king-size bed, and a full-length mirror mounted to the wall. It felt good to him.

Now that he had Hannah, no windows felt even better. The sun wouldn’t be able to harm her or disturb her rest. She would be more comfortable.

He placed her very gently on the bed. She was awake again. Flame saw her quietly looking at him. The sun wouldn’t be calling her to sleep for more than an hour.

He thought his report into the link so Ash could handle Luke while he watched her.

Hannah is too weak to hunt. She needs to feed before she sleeps. I’ll hunt for her and return shortly. When the sun rises, she’ll sleep. She is den lasair and vjestice vampire.

I’ll report it. Luke’s orders remain. Care for your Valkyrie until a new mission arises. We swear our oaths tonight just after sunset.

Thanks, Ash.

“I need to hunt for you so you can feed before you sleep. I need you to stay here and rest. I won’t be gone long. No one will disturb you.”

She nodded her understanding, and Flame left to go find a couple of deer to borrow some life force from. In vino veritas. In wine was the truth. In blood was the power. For vampires, there was no stronger truth than that.

2 Hannah

She was so thirsty. She’d been in the warehouse for three days. The men had tormented her and used her monstrously for three nights, but she was completely healed when she woke each afternoon.

It was the fourth night, and she could no longer think clearly. Hannah needed to drink. It sickened her how crazed she felt.

Hannah was confused. The pain in her rectum began to ease. Maybe they were done torturing her.

She opened her eyes, and her fear overwhelmed her. She tried to move away from the charcoal grey gaze of the man who faced her.

He was very powerful, and his aura was large and overt. He scared her more than the other three had frightened her combined.

She lay still, barely breathing when she realized once again that she didn’t have the strength to escape her bonds.

The man who’d begun the assault on her tonight was cowering at the big man’s feet. He no longer acted so strong.

In the face of the overtly alpha male before her, Hannah was sure she had met her death. It was finally going to end.

“I wish to assist you. Will you accept my help?” He asked her.

He hadn’t come to kill her but to rescue her? She was startled and dazed.

What choice did she have? Fighting a man like him was pointless. She had learned that the hard way.

She nodded. He reached around her to cut away her restraints. She couldn’t help herself.

She breathed in his crisp sharp scent of cognac and linen. He was like the other three, but so much richer. Her fangs descended. She needed to feed.

The man had what she needed. If she could drink from him, the thirst would fade. The thirst drove her mad. She wanted just a taste.

He studied her for a moment. Then he yanked the cowering man to his feet and sliced open his wrist. He offered it to her even though the cowering man struggled against it, the powerful man ignored him and offered to let her drink.

She couldn’t refuse. She needed blood. It wouldn’t stop the thirst, only keep her from dying. She drank.

Hannah hated herself. She was so disgusted with what was happening. It shouldn’t have happened.

She was den lasair. She still had trouble accepting that she was a vampire. She certainly had never asked to be turned nor had she wanted to be one.

Drinking the blood made her feel unclean just as much as the rape made her feel dirty. Her whole life felt ugly and unclean. Self-preservation was all that remained and she wasn’t sure that was going to hold out.

Her life had been turned upside down two weeks before. All she’d wanted was to dance.

That man should’ve burned, but her fire didn’t touch him. She blocked it from her mind as she drank. She was just too weak to deal with it.

Hannah needed blood. It gave her more strength, but the thirst was still pressing her. She needed the big man’s blood.

She just lay still. She was still far too weak to move much more than her eyes.

She lifted one hand and tried to brush the loose strands of hair from her face. She missed and sighed. She needed a whole lot more to drink if she were to heal and move.

“I’m Flame. Will you tell me your name?” He asked her quietly.

“Hannah O’Keefe,” she whispered before she closed her eyes.

He seemed a bit excited about that. Maybe he liked her name.

Had someone sent him to find her? Her aunt maybe. God knew where she would have gotten the money.

He sure as hell wasn’t excited about the way she looked. She couldn’t have been less attractive.

She felt his fingers move the offending strands of hair away from her face behind her ear. He was warm, and she felt so cold.

The others had done something to her. She could no longer touch the fire that she’d been born to.

She didn’t have the strength to mourn it though.

When his finger traced the skin on her face, it felt strangely erotic. Hannah wanted to laugh at the absurdity in that thought. She was losing her mind.

Warm fingers were erotic? That was truly laughable.

“I need to carry you from here. I need to get you away to someplace safe and comfortable. Will you permit me to lift you and move you from here?”

He was asking her if he could carry her away? Did he seek her permission?

That was surprising. No one had considered what she wanted for the last two weeks. For a moment she was puzzled. Was it some sort of trick?

No matter. Anywhere was better than where she was. She would go with him. It wasn’t as if she could stop him if he chose to take her.

“Please, just don’t let them find me,” she pleaded softly.

If she only had to deal with one instead of three maybe she would be able to get away from him. She just wanted a quiet place to rest and think. Then perhaps she could figure out what to do, how to get home.

She wanted her life back. She wanted to see her aunt and dance. And never drink blood again.

“Who’s looking for you?” He had asked.

He seemed not to know. Maybe she did have a chance. Maybe he didn’t know the other three.

She took a chance and watched his face, but it gave nothing away. If anything he seemed confused.

“The ones like you,” she whispered, but her energy was gone.

He sensed it and asked nothing else from her. She wasn’t sure what he was, but the others were definitely like him.

Flame gently turned her body, wrapped the blanket around her, and lifted her into his arms.

Hannah should have been embarrassed for him to see her naked, but she was too weak for that. That he covered her allowing her to retain at least a small portion of her dignity wasn’t lost to her.

He settled her head against his chest and his bicep so she could not fall. Flame was all hard muscle, but he felt good to her. He was so warm. He probably had a fire like the others too.

He was very careful not to jar or rattle her. He seemed different that way, kind.

The smell of cognac and linen returned. The scent was calm and relaxing.

The man she’d fed from followed them meekly.

All hope of escaping died in her when they met up with other men. Some were like Flame, a few were different, but still enormously more powerful than she was.

At least the three who had taken her were not among them. One of the men gave the orders, and they left the warehouses burning behind them. She wasn’t sad to watch it burn.

It was a short ride to a house in the suburbs. Flame eased her into a nightgown. Taking care not to hurt her or allow anyone else to see her nudity.

It felt good to be clothed. When was the last time she’d worn clothing? Fourteen days? Sixteen days?

She wasn’t sure. It seemed like a million-dollar luxury. One nightgown equaled a slice of her dignity. She appreciated that gesture immensely.

Flame was caring for her as if she was worth something and deserved it. That was nice. She wanted to be worth something and matter.

He covered her in the blanket again, and she slipped away overcome by the intensity of her emotions.

Was she asleep, or just lost in her nightmare? She didn’t know, but awareness of the surrounding environment was gone at least for a while.

When she was aware again, Flame was carrying her into a different house with the same man still following him like a lost puppy. He gave instructions to the man, but Hannah wasn’t focused enough to understand.

He stepped into a windowless bedroom and kicked the door closed behind him. The room smelled intensely of cognac and linen.

Flame had brought her to his personal space. She was in his bedroom. Hanna knew she should be panicked, but that took too much energy.

He laid her gently onto the bed. She didn’t move. She just looked at him.

She feared that her torture would just begin again in the new space he’d brought her into. He had her alone.

Whoever Flame was, he was certainly powerful enough to take from her whatever he wanted. She wouldn’t be able to stop him. She just hoped he would be quick and tire of her soon or help her find mercy.

“I need to hunt for you so you can feed before you sleep. I need you to stay here and rest. I won’t be gone long. No one will disturb you.”

She nodded her understanding still in despair. He wanted to keep her alive.

Flame seemed kind though. He hadn’t hurt her. He even understood her need for blood. He was willing to hunt for her to get her blood, but his words would keep her locked in the room until he returned.

What chance did she have against him or those others anyway? Her fire no longer came at her command. It didn’t work against men like him. She was too weak to even walk. The dawn would be coming soon.

She was still a prisoner at the mercy of Flame instead of the three nameless ones. She was nothing but a toy for them to amuse themselves with.

Her tears fell, red blood filled tears. They stained the bedclothes, but she didn’t have the strength to deal with that either.

Maybe, he’d kill her for that, and it would all end. She was tired of the abuse, the torture, and the rape. Death might be easier.

Hannah had never been a quitter. She was just exhausted. Her despair gripped her hard. She wanted to just let it all go.

COLLAPSE

Step Into the dream, feel the magic. Steamy hot, wickedly delicious paranormal fantasy stories set in a dream to live for. It all began in 2016. It became a retreat and a sanctuary for various immortals as Luke and Eli discovered love, magic, and danger. They find friends helping other immortals overcome problems and also find love in exchange for different magic and skills to aid in protecting the sanctuary that is Draoithe. Those who come to Draoithe add to the balance. Grab a good drink, curl up in a good seat, choose a book from the Saga, and escape into the dream at Draoithe while you meet the men and women who call it home. A place where myths, legends, and fairytales walk unmolested among the strange and wonderful, where the magic from the past lives again! Welcome to the dream...

About the Author

Not who everyone thinks she is.

The product of someone's imagination.

The end result of a lifetime wishing to get out.

Do not buy the lie.

If you live in fear, you give up freedom.

Taking the risk and making the leap.

Too much of anything is a bad thing.

Innuendo floating on the mist that rises above the water.

Walk away and leave it all behind.

Telling the story that haunts a fantasy.

Catching a dream.

She does not exist.

Ophelia Kee


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