Chapter One

"Damn it," Lucian growled as he raced after the man running through the streets. He'd almost had him, but that fruit cart had gotten in his way. He'd run straight into, scattering fruit to the ground and losing precious seconds that he was having to make up now. Resigned to not catching up with the man on foot, he let the change come over his body. His wings folded out and his body stretched. Soon he was a solid black dragon. He had spikes that were razor sharp all down his back and his tail was clubbed for hitting and killing. His teeth were larger and sharper than the biggest shark or predator. He was as big as an elephant, maybe even the size of two elephants put together. He was as tall as a giraffe and as mean as a rattlesnake. He would also use all of these things to his advantage if the need came to be. His red eyes sought out the man that he was sent to get.

He took to the skies and looked once again for the man that was swerving around people and darting down side streets, constantly looking over his shoulder. Clearly he had forgotten that the man chasing him was a shifter and could fly.

Lucian swooped down and grabbed the man with his claws, causing the man to scream like a girl and twist and turn, trying to get free. Lucian could tell he was a shifter himself, and he was probably of the Wolf clan. Lucian was chasing him because he had stolen from several people and then resold the stuff as his own. That was a high crime in these parts and sometimes the sentence was death.

Lucian was a bounty hunter; he chased down all the guys that ran or missed their calling by the city leaders. This was one of those annoying men. He was one of the easiest to catch for Lucian. Usually people changed into their animal forms and ran for the forest, making it harder for Lucian to see them and to catch them in the midst of all the trees and shrubbery. It was a nuisance and the people usually ended up hurt by the time Lucian finally captured them. If the wounds weren't from the claws of his dragon form, then they were by the fist of the man that was inside of the dragon's body; they were one in the same.

The man kept screaming and speaking in a foreign language. He was getting on Lucian's nerves, so he tightened his grip, making it impossible for oxygen to reach the man's lungs. The man gasped and finally Lucian let him go ever so slightly. He decided to have his fun with the man, a mischievous look in his eyes. He dropped the man about 1000 feet above the ground. The man screamed all the way down. When he was about 300 feet from the ground, Lucian dove down and grabbed him in his claws. He was small so he fit in his claws easily.

He saw the castle up ahead in the mirrored door way to the other realm. He flew up as high as he could and flew straight into the Royal Realm. He was using one of the only ways for someone to get into the Royal Realm. He could have used one of the places located in the city of every clan, forest, mountain, canyon, but instead he used the easier way; flying. Lucian was only allowed in the Royal Realm was because he knew the prince and was one of his bounty hunters. Everyone told him he was an ass, but the prince still kept him around; tolerating him, though at times they were often caught fighting and yelling.

Lucian, having had brought several men in before, knew exactly where to go. He stopped just above the entrance to the jailhouse and dropped the man. He landed on his feet and looked around. He changed back into his human form, his naked body not really bothering him. When your clothes couldn't shift with you, nudity was as natural as breathing. It happened to every shifter.

He grabbed the robe left especially for him and put it on. He left clothing everywhere, making it easier for him to talk to people. The robe he was wearing now was black, fitting his mood and matching his hair. He had it loose, and down at that moment, but normally you only saw him with his hair in a ponytail. His hair came to about his mid back and was coal black; just like his dragon form. At six feet tall, the jailhouse doors weren't very accommodation, forcing him to bend to get inside. His muscles bulged out from under the robe, letting everyone around him know he was dangerous. He caught a few of the women looking over at him and smiled. Women loved Lucian and he took advantage of it. He stepped toward one of the women, but they gave him a knowing look and walked on. Had he already slept with that one? He threw that thought to the back of his mind and started imagining one of those brunettes under him as he had his way with them.

Lucian knew he was a player, hell, everyone knew he was a player, and he was no virgin. He slept around with women of all sorts, sometimes more than once. It was mainly shifters that visited him, but he did sleep with witches, fairies and vampires. He liked the vampires because they could handle it rough and were all very beautiful. However, he didn't particularly like it when they accidentally bit him in the heat of the moment. He usually ripped them away and threw them across the room when that happened. He would also roar at them, causing them to fear him. The only reason they kept coming back was because he was a good lover and knew what he was doing.

Lucian threw those thoughts to the back of his mind as he walked over to the man he had dropped earlier from the sky. He was favoring his right leg and groaned as Lucian lifted him to his feet. "Come with me," he said, dragging the man behind him; holding onto nothing but the man's shirt. Right when the shirt was about to tear, Lucian stopped walking. He looked up at his best friend and smirked. Another man was down and only one more to be brought in for the month.

Lucian was used to this type of thing. At the beginning of every month, he was brought a list with about twenty names on it. During that month, he had to bring in all those men unless he heard differently from the Prince himself. The prince greeted Lucian the same way he always did, with a smile on his face and a slap on the back.

"Good, you didn't fail me," said the prince.

"Of course not," Lucian replied, a wide smirk appearing on his face.

The prince frowned for a moment before a similar smile appeared on his face. If it were anyone else he'd have them punished for speaking to him in such a way but Lucian was his friend, his best friend, and after so many years together no one knew better than he that Lucian didn't respond well to authority.

Lucian nodded. If he had failed to bring in the man, he lost his credibility and power over the men he was in charge of. It was his job and if he did it terribly, then he would lose his income and his lodging. He lived in the palace with the prince and needed this job for it to remain that way. Living with the prince meant that you could get away with anything, as long as you didn't get caught, and Lucian knew that.

Lucian took a moment to study his friend. The Prince's name was Mateo, and he was one of the youngest children of the King and Queen. The eldest brother, Nikolai, was mated and had two lovely kids, one of each gender. He was a shifter and took after their mother in the way of him being a tiger. He also looked a lot like his mother, taking after her in her confidence and skills at talking and knowing everything about everyone. If you wanted to know what was happening in the castle, you either went to Nikolai or the queen. The second eldest brother, Kaden, was a bear just like Mateo and their father. They both looked like their father and took after him in his size and skills at fighting.

Mateo looked at his friend and shook his head, his face alight with mirth. He enjoyed seeing his friend happy; which only occurred after he slept with someone or when he brought in one of the men on the list.

"You're running out of time Lucian. Think you can bring in that last man before the month is over? You only have a day and six hours. This one is a fairy and will take you to the heart of the fairy kingdom. I don't think you can do it," Mateo teased the man in front of him. It was 6:00 in the evening and was approaching dusk. His guards had already come forward and took the prisoner to his new cell while Lucian had been studying him. It was only them now.

"I think that you're wrong, and you know it. I will fulfill my task. I can't afford to be kicked out of the castle and live on my own. Who would cook for me? Gina would be without a job. Who else is going to eat all her food? Even when it's bad?" he replied. He got a laugh out of the prince and Lucian smiled himself. He rarely laughed or smiled, and now was one of those rare occurrences when he did.

"We shall see my friend, we shall see," he murmured, patting his friend on the back. "Shall we go to dinner now?"

Lucian nodded and followed Mateo out the door and into the heart of the castle. They passed an open door and Lucian caught sight of Mateo's sister, Tamara, playing the piano that took up most of the room. She was singing and her eyes were closed. She had no clue that she had gained a small audience. Lucian had stopped walking to watch and listen and Mateo soon realized his friend had. Mateo walked back to see what Lucian was looking at so intently.

"Don't even think of it, Lucian. That is my baby sister in there and you will not take her innocence away from her if I have anything to say about it. If I hear of you with her, then we will have some problems between us. Do I make myself clear?" The prince threatened his friend. He knew that if Lucian was given a challenge, he normally went for it, but this wasn't the time nor the place for that. Lucian needed to understand that he was serious when she said that Lucian needed to stay away from his sister.

"You have my word that I will not go after your sister," Lucian said, still not taking his eyes off the beauty in front of him. Though he was promising Mateo not to touch his sister, he still daydreamed about her and how she would feel under him, screaming his name… He was brought out of his thoughts as Tamara stopped playing the piano and glanced at him standing in the doorway. She looked surprised at first, but then her golden eyes lit up and she smiled at him coyly.

Lucian couldn't look away. Those golden eyes of hers drew him in. No one knew why Tamara had golden eyes. No one in her family did, nor any of her ancestors. It was a weird genetic flaw, but one that was appreciated by Lucian because it helped bring out her beauty. Though Lucian had heard rumors that Tamara was a spoiled brat and acted like a bitch at times, he had never seen it in person and found it hard to believe. When she was around him she would walk with her head held high and her curly blonde hair pulled over to the side and tied with a ribbon. It always dangled teasingly over her right breast and made Lucian want to reach over and brush it off. She was also blessed with a clear, creamy complexion and a figure to die for. She had a round, bubble butt with a nice bosom that wasn't too big or small. A perfect size… in Lucians mind at least.

Tamara could feel eyes on her which made her look up. She was met with the coal black eyes of the great Lucian himself. He was known around the castle as one of the greatest bounty hunters around. He was forbidden fruit and she wanted him. She thought that he wanted her too, but her brother's were being a nuisance when it came to a relationship that involved their baby sister and a male figure. It drove her crazy. She usually got her way and this was no different. She wanted Lucian and she would try everything in her power to get him.

When Tamara was young, she used to hate herself, thinking that no one would love her because she was almost completely human. She was born unable to shift and it drove her mad. He brother's all took after one of her parents, but being the last born, she got nothing. The only thing she got from her mother was her frailty. She looked like she could easily be broken, but all the self defense classes her father made her participate in made her stronger than she looked. She needed to be strong in order to hold up against Lucian. He was supposed to be a rough, but amazing lover.

As she got older, Tamara figured out that she could use her body to get her way with guys. She had the perfect figure and she knew how to use it. She would shake her butt a little more than normal when a guy was around and bat her long eyelashes at him. Usually they were putty in her hands; doing anything and everything to please her. This wasn't the case for Lucian because she had tried to get him in her bed for a year now. He always seemed to be able to look the other way, but this year she planned to change that. The way he was looking at her now said differently.

She wanted to have Lucian make love to her, though she didn't plan on telling her parents. They would have a cow if they found out. They wanted her to stay the little innocent princess, but unbeknownst to her parents, or siblings, she was not a virgin anymore. She hadn't been a virgin for about a year now. She was 34 in age according to her world, but according to human years, she was only 16.

The next guy in her line of sight was Lucian and she was willing to do anything to get him. That was one of the reasons she started walking toward him now. She had yet to see her brother standing with Lucian; her eyes were only for the sexy dark figure.

Lucian felt his mouth get dry and he quickly wetted it. He watched as Tamara licked her lips, driving him crazy with her teasing. He had wanted to bed her since the first time he saw her about 2 years ago. She was usually locked in her room or somewhere studying or learning how to defend herself. He had seen her when she was younger, but not when she looked so mature and so alluring. It made him almost go weak in the knees to catch a glimpse of her. He wondered if she wanted him as bad as he wanted her.

Though most shifter's waited for their mates to lose themselves with, Lucian was not like that. He was willing to have any woman any time and would always welcome them. He loved sex; it made him feel more powerful than the opposite gender. He wanted to experience that with Tamara, but knew he would probably be killed or worse by her brothers. It made him furious to be friends with the prince at times. If he weren't, it would make it easier to just do it with Tamara; damn the consequences.

"Let's go Lucian, you still have one more man to capture and I'm hungry." Mateo grabbed Lucian and started pulling him after himself. He didn't like the way that Lucian and Tamara were staring at each other. It was unnerving. He didn't want Lucian to have anything to do with his baby sister.

"What is on the menu tonight from good old Gina?" Lucian asked, shaking his head and clearing his thoughts. He needed to focus on that last capture. If he messed this one up, he could lose his job; a job he loved and cherished. He didn't want to lose it; that was for sure.

"I think it's steak, but Im not sure," His friend replied. Lucian heard his stomach growl and Mateo gave off a laugh. It was humorous that Lucian's stomach gave him away when he was trying to hide his hunger from his friend.

"Let's eat," Lucian said, pushing open the grand doors that led to the dining room. Mateo's family was already seated around the long table that filled the chamber. It usually held about 50 people, but now it only hosted the small family.

"Welcome my son," the large male that vacated the seat at the head of the table said as he stood up. He patted his son on the back and watched as Mateo took his seat. Lucian stood there for a moment, waiting for the king to turn to him, but he didn't. Thinking it strange, Lucian didn't say anything, only sat down.

"Let's eat," the queen said, wearing her normal attire for dinner: a dress made from the richest silk and a feather in her hair that was always pulled up into a bun. She had this attire every night for their dinner and it was easy to tell what time it was by looking at her out fit. Lucian had come to be accustomed to her different, and rather strange, outfits. If she was wearing a cool dress, it was lunch time and she was taking her normal walk around the castle grounds. If she was wearing a shirt and skirt, it was breakfast. It was weird how sometimes she dressed according to her moods also. She wore green at the moment, so she had to be envious of something. Lucian was sure that he would find out what that was soon enough.

"Hello father. Lucian has brought us another prisoner. That prison is filling up, and I think we need to start having trials soon." Mateo grabbed a slice of bread and layered it with butter before he put another slice on top. He was trying to get his parent's focus on Lucian. He could tell something was up, and he wasn't sure he wanted to know what that something was yet. He was sure that if he could distract them, they would forget whatever it was they were planning on telling him.

"Good job Lucian, but we will discuss that later," The king said, not even turning to look at Lucian. It was unlike the man to be so rude, and Lucian was surprised. Something drastic must have happened. Lucian was excited to find out exactly what.

It looked like the king was getting ready to say something when he was interrupted. "Nicodemus do not be so rude," Latonya, the queen, broke in. Nicodemus turned to her and shot her a glare.

"Fine," he grumbled, turning toward Lucian. "How many more prisoners do you have to get for this month?"

"There is only one, your highness," Lucian replied curtly. He wanted to find out what was wrong, not settle for this meager talk of prisoners. That could wait.

"Now that, that is out of the way, Mateo, we have some news to discuss with you. Lucian you may remain here because this will affect you too." The king looked at each of the faces in the room. Lucian was all ears now, wondering what could be happening.

"Continue father, you have all of our attention now," Mateo said tiredly. He seemed like he might already know what was happening, but Lucian didn't and he wanted to know. He liked to know everything and this was an opportunity to do so.

Mateo studied his father. He had yet to figure out if the news was bad or good. He waited patiently for his father to speak and finally he did. "You are to be married. The wedding will be in three months. The young girl is a water fairy. You will wed her and then peace will be amongst our races again," Nicodemus said, astounding Lucian and Mateo all at the same time. It seemed that everyone else knew what was happening, but them.

It was then that Tamara chose to enter the dining room. She had been late because she had gone back to her room to change for the dinner. Her piano playing clothes were not good enough when Lucian was there. She wanted to impress him anyway she could and this was her way of doing that.

Lucian stared as she walked toward the table. She was now dressed in a ruby red dress that pushed her cleavage up and hugged her hips smoothly. It flowed down past her knees and drug against the floor when she walked. She had on some high heels and some red lipstick to match. Her eyes were accented with some eye liner and some mascara of the simplest kind. Her gold eyes shone with lust as she looked over at Lucian. She only had eyes for him.

After hearing a cough, she spoke. "What did I miss, mother?" she asked Latonya, sitting down in her seat next to her mother. She smiled up at her mother and her mother gave her a knowing look. Lucian watched the scene, but was still too wrapped up in his thoughts of what he could do to Tamara after that darn dress was removed. It was showing a lot, but hiding so much at the same time. It was a teaser and he hated it.

"What you missed, my dear, was that your brother is going to be getting married," Nicodemus spoke up before his wife had the chance. The queen shot him a glare, but took a drink of her wine and didn't say a word.

"What is the reason behind this marriage?" Mateo spoke for the first time since finding out the news. He was still having trouble wrapping his head around it.

"The reason my son is to make an alliance. The vampires and witches have been scheming against us. They are going to start a war with us and we're not sure when it will occur, but we need as many allies as we can. The shifters are on our side along with the werewolves. We need the faeries to have the upper hand in this battle. This alliance will concrete that. Though the girl is not royalty, she has lived with one of the wisest faeries that has ever lived and has been taught much. She is strong with her craft and will benefit you greatly Mateo. I also heard she has a temper to boot and a stubborn streak. She might bring about some different feelings from you, son," the king said, answering Mateo's question.

"What does this have to do with me?" Lucian asked. The servants brought out the main courses and set them in front of everyone. Nicodemus said grace and then they started eating. Lucian repeated his question and finally got an answer.

"You, Lucian have the job of going to get the girl and getting her back here safely. There will be danger on the way because she lives so far away in the farthest part of the land. She lives near the ocean in her realm and is a couple days journey away from any portal. That is only if you make it before the winter storms start in. I have seen some storm clouds in the horizon, so it might be a few days before the first storm hits. While you are there, you are welcome to get your last person on the list. If you are late bringing him in, we will pardon you this one time because you are on a mission for us. Do not fail us though. You are dismissed as you finish eating," Nicodemus replied, not even glancing in Lucian's direction; just talking to the wall and his plate as he ate in between words.

It bugged Lucian to know that he had no respect for him as to look him in the eyes as he was speaking, but he understood. Nicodemus feared for his daughter's innocence and wanted Lucian to stay away from her. It was why he doubled her guard every time that Lucian was heard to be in the castle. It drove him mad, but Lucian could understand somewhat.

"I'm off to rest Mateo. I'll take off first thing in the morning. I still need to get my head wrapped around this," Lucian said to his friend, patting him on the back.

"You need to get your head wrapped around it? I'm the one that has to marry a complete stranger. I only get three months to spend with her to get to know her. I have no idea what I'm going to do. Promise me that you'll help me Lucian… Promise me!" Mateo begged. Lucian looked into his friends eyes and nodded.

"You have my word," Lucian said, turning and walking out of the room. Right as he was about to close the door to his room he was tackled onto the floor. He was instantly on alert until he felt something brush against his bare skin. The robe had been pulled open at the chest and someone was rubbing their hands on it.

He looked up and was met with golden eyes. Tamara was in his room and wearing nothing but a red robe. How she had changed so far was beyond him, but as of right now he didn't mind. He watched as she stood up and slowly let the robe fall to the floor. "I want you," she said huskily, walking toward him. Lucian jumped to his feet and started moving backwards.

"Your brothers and father will kill me," he said nervously. He wanted Tamara, gosh he wanted her, but he feared for his life, and job.

"They will not know. Do not fear. I will not let them harm you," she said as she finally reached him. She ran her hands over his chest again before dropping his robe to the ground. She rubbed her chest up against his. "I've wanted this for a while."

She pushed him back and he fell down against his bed. It was then his animal side took over. No woman was going to dominate him. He was the boss when it came to being in the bed with a woman. He threw Tamara off of him and switched their positions. This time he was hovering over her. "Let's get this over with," he said, eyes flashing black.


EDITED 7/13/2011