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       Dragon Awakened: A Reverse Harem Fantasy Romance (Cursed Fae Book 1), p.1

           K.N. Lee
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Dragon Awakened: A Reverse Harem Fantasy Romance (Cursed Fae Book 1)


  Dragon Awakened

  Book One of the Cursed Fae Trilogy

  K.N. Lee

  Captive Quill Press

  Copyright © 2018 by K.N. Lee

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Created with Vellum

  Dedicated to my fans.

  Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  An Exclusive Look at Court of Shadows

  Court of Shadows

  About the Author

  Also by K.N. Lee

  Prologue

  The heat from the crackling fire made it difficult to breathe. Bound and tied to a spit, Seyena tried to scream. She didn’t have a voice. After hours of crying out for help, nothing escaped her lips but a frantic cough. Sweat beaded and fell from her forehead and sizzled into the fire pit as two bandits watched her fight against the ropes that kept her hands at her side.

  They knew better than to let her hands be free.

  She was a sorceress, one of the highest rank.

  Her throat was dry and she grew weary as the cloth that had been shoved into her mouth made her cheeks sore.

  Was this the end?

  Her mother and father hadn’t sent her away from their castle to get captured by the most vicious of creatures.

  “Are we going to cook her or just watch her buck around like a frightened mare?” Lord Peter Merrick asked.

  Traitor. He was supposed to provide her safe passage to Uthlumdria. Instead, he’d sold her to the

  Chapter One

  Mila

  Fear pulsed within Mila’s veins as she pulled her long brown hair over her shoulders. She passed the servants harvesting the grapes of Vasily Castle.

  It was a cool autumn morning, yet sweat beaded on her forehead and in the crease between her bosom as she hurried past the servants harvesting the grapes.

  “Good morning, my lady,” one of the workers said, bowing her head, her crisp white cap gleaming in the sun.

  She smiled weakly, her heart pounding.

  Be brave. Mila wrung her shaking hands.

  "Kellan,” she whispered to the wind. “Please, get me out of here. I need you. I fear this time I have no choice.”

  Speaking of time, it was running out. She could no longer live the life of a concubine. Life would be forever changed. No more hiding. No more wasting her life to a duke who cared nothing for her or the other women of his harem.

  The fact that her own mother had sold her off like cattle broke her heart.

  No, it was to save her life. It was the only way to ensure survival in a world ruled by High Fae.

  Leaving the protection of her master would have consequences—ones that could mean life or death.

  Today, she chose freedom.

  She began to run toward the stables, no longer caring who she vexed by her sudden action. She knew Lord Vasily would never let her go—he collected human women like precious jewels—and used them to sate his feral desires.

  No more.

  She must escape.

  She must reveal her secret.

  The sun warmed her cold cheeks as she looked to the sky. During daylight hours she might actually have a chance.

  Come on, Kellan. Hurry.

  She fisted bunches of her dark blue skirts so she could run faster, her feet aching as they pounded down the stone path that led around the edge of the vineyard to the massive front gate of the estate. Heavily-armed soldiers stood guard on either side of the locked gate.

  Shouts of alarm drifted menacingly on the cutting breeze, and Mila yanked the golden collar that marked her as a concubine from her throat, and tossed it into the bushes that lined the road.

  Her vision pulsed in time with her racing heart as one of the soldiers glanced her way. He narrowed his eyes. “Where are you going?”

  She ignored him, staying focused on that gate.

  Her heart fluttered, and she grinned despite the tears that trailed down her cinnamon-colored cheeks as a tall young man appeared outside of the gate.

  Kellan.

  His pale skin was almost translucent against the stern black and silver armor he wore. He held his hand out to her, ushering her forward, giving her strength.

  Black hair covered his eyes. Clean shaven, and handsome, Kellan was her greatest friend, one that would risk his life to save hers.

  “Oy!” the guard shouted, drawing his sword. “Stop right now. We don’t want to have to hurt you.”

  Mila ignored them. She had been hurt enough. The bruises on her neck were proof of that.

  She gritted her teeth and with a burst of energy shot outside of her body, a blue aura encircling her as her magic ignited. The surge of power filled her from the inside out, making her gasp with euphoria as it rippled throughout.

  Sorcery.

  A death sentence under High Fae rule.

  Kellan cracked a grin, his eyes crinkling behind the black hair that fell over his brows. “Good girl,” he whispered, a black mist shooting from his hand and reaching for her like a raging wind.

  The fae soldiers stumbled backward, having never seen such a display of raw power.

  Mila’s entire body went cold as she rose up, leaving the ground behind, hovering before the magic-bound gate.

  Nothing could pass through that gate without permission from the master of the castle.

  But, a dragon could fly over it.

  She cheered as her eyes lifted to the sky. Kellan shed his clothes, his arms and abs free as he leaped into the sky. Before everyone assembled on that sunny day, he shifted into a sleek black dragon that nearly blotted out the sun.

  Running toward him, she used her magic to lift herself into the air, where he caught her in his silver talons, and flew them far away.

  Chapter Two

  Growing up, Mila would spend most mornings laying in bed and counting her breaths.

  Why?

  Because, she was lucky to be alive and would never take it for granted.

  Most of the orphans of Veruth were abandoned, or their parents were killed in the war. Mila was no exception. Her mother had been brutally murdered just after she’d accepted her place in the duke’s castle.

  Not a day went by that Mila didn’t blame herself for not being there—or reconcile with the fact that she could have been killed if she had remained.

  “Mila,” Kellan called.

  Groaning, she rolled over on her side of the bed he’d made on the floor. She furrowed her brows at him. “I’m not ready.”

  He wrapped an arm around her, and stroked the side of her face. “Sorry, love,” he said, his green eyes search
ing hers. “But, we have to leave here before the duke comes looking for you.”

  She bit her bottom lip, tears welling in her eyes. “Just a little while longer?”

  She’d give anything to remain in his arms where it was warm—where she knew she was cared for.

  He’d saved her life, helped her cut her hair, and gave her shelter when she needed it most.

  He smelled of campfires and reminded her of a better time.

  A better life.

  He kissed her forehead and she closed her eyes with a sigh.

  She knew they couldn’t stay. If they did, both of them could be executed.

  He stood from his spot on the floor beside her and started getting dressed. “I wish we could afford another night of peace,” he said and pulled his shirt over his toned chest. “But, we don’t have the luxury of sleeping in. Peace is not free in this world. Not anymore.”

  She eyed his muscles, wondering what it would be like to touch them. It was a silly thought to have at that moment, but it was something she’d considered more than once.

  He was her familiar. Their bond was deeper than the physical sort. They were connected at a soul level.

  “Rich will be able to find us work in the city. New identities. Maybe a home.”

  She frowned. “And, what will we have to do for this Rich fellow?”

  “Well, it’s either seeking out his protection or try to survive on our own.”

  “As the slaves of a gangster?”

  He shrugged. “I’d rather be alive and his slave than free and dead on the streets.”

  “I’d rather be free and dead,” she said under her breath.

  His brows furrowed and he knelt down beside her. “You don’t mean that.”

  Sometimes, she did. But, she wouldn’t tell him that. Instead, she forced a smile and sprang to her feet. “Nope. But, the look on your face was priceless.”

  Instead of shrugging it off like she’d expected, he slowly stood and took her by the arm, firmly. He pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her. “I better not ever hear you talk like that again.”

  The silence that followed was intense, and when she looked up into his serious gaze, her heart fluttered. “I didn’t mean it,” she whispered, realizing just how much he cared for her. “I’m just tired of living my life for others. There has to be a better way.”

  “If you have a better idea, let me know.”

  Her eyes lit up and she took his hands into hers. “You know how I love a challenge.”

  “I do,” he said, and the smile that stretched across her face lit up the room.

  “Very well,” she said, and he let go and rolled up the blankets and began packing their supplies.

  She looked toward the large window at the other end of the abandoned flat that looked out over the Cosava River and contemplated his words.

  Was there a better way to survive?

  She was determined to find one.

  Chapter Three

  Dark clouds started to roll by as Mila and Kellan traveled side-by-side along the dusty road that stretched along the outskirts of the kingdom.

  A storm was coming, and she suspected that it brewed just for her.

  Watching. Searching. Ready to strike her dead.

  It was as if not just the humans and High Fae hated her kind, but nature itself loathed her as well.

  Mila twisted her hair into a bun at the top of her head and stifled a yawn. Using her power in such a way had drained her. She would need a few days to reach her full strength.

  Knowing that Kellan was close by gave her a small measure of relief. Calling out to him had always been an intimate experience, and she would forever be bound to Kellan because of their bond.

  As a sorceress, she depended on her familiar for strength and protection. The decision to become a pair had been made when they were children, and she was thankful for the gods for sending him to her.

  It was the one good thing she’d been fortunate enough to have.

  They could summon one another whenever they pleased, and that fact was a source of comfort she’d cherish forever.

  If she could stop King Cosimo along with his laws and reign of terror, she would be free to live her own life for once. As long as she didn’t get herself killed.

  Death frightened her more than anything.

  For no one knew what came after.

  Then again, she knew what it was like to lose her life. When she’d been sent as a concubine to the High Fae duke, she’d lost herself almost entirely.

  Being a concubine was just another form of slavery most young women in Veruth knew all too well. It was something Mila would never return to, no matter how desperate she’d become.

  As promised, she would find a way to avoid accepting the pricey protection of the gang lords.

  “We’re only a few hours out of the city,” Kellan said. “Any idea what we’ll do once we’re there? They’ll try to scoop you up the second you step foot inside the gates.”

  “Tilly,” she said, giving him a sidelong glance.

  “You do know who she works for, right?”

  She nodded. “She might be able to help us.”

  His brows furrowed as he walked beside her. “I see,” he said.

  “Why the long face?” Though she asked the question, she had a feeling she knew exactly why he gave her that look.

  Tilly was Emory’s older sister.

  Emory was her first love.

  He raked his hair out of his face, revealing green eyes that matched the meadows behind the cottage she grew up in. It had sat right in the center of rolling hills, littered with the prettiest white flowers.

  That was before the war.

  “Honestly,” he said. “I’d rather skip town and start fresh somewhere far away.”

  She stopped, and turned to him. “What is it that you’re not telling me?”

  Kellan sighed inwardly and scratched the back of his neck.

  “I was going to tell you,” he said.

  She folded her arms across her chest. “Tell me now.”

  “Fine. Emory’s joining the royal army. He leaves tomorrow…” he said, his voice trailing.

  “Wow,” Mila said, looking down the road. “I’d never have pegged Emory for a soldier. Resistance or Imperial?”

  Kellan twisted his mouth. “Resistance.”

  “Bloody hell,” she said under her breath. “He’s going to get himself killed.”

  Dalton Manor wasn’t far. She might be able to talk him out of doing something that was basically suicide. They couldn’t defeat the High Faes and their army. Not with the little bit of resources they had.

  “Right,” she said, turning down the road to his manor. “Let’s see if we can talk some sense into the fool.”

  Chapter Four

  Mila stood before the black gates of Dalton Manor, shivering as the wind picked up speed. She pulled her cloak’s hood over her head.

  Thick forests encircled the massive property that was built ages ago, when Zari was still a thriving nation. The Daltons were one of the wealthiest and most influential families in all of Veruth, and once upon a time, Mila had fallen for the youngest son.

  She shifted her weight nervously as she waited for Redmayne to let her in. She was lucky that he was at the front of the property and not Emory’s father.

  They knew her well here, but she couldn’t risk being spotted by someone she didn’t fully trust.

  “Miss Mila,” he said, approaching with a leashed pair of black wolves in each hand.

  Mila’s smile came easily. As his name suggested, he had long red and gray hair pulled back into a ponytail. His deep-set blue eyes narrowed as she came closer.

  “You’ve come back.”

  Mila nodded, glancing up at Kellan as he hid in the trees. Not all shifters got along, and so he would stay behind.

  “Good.”

  Mila was glad that he left it at that. She didn’t need anyone else bringing up Lord Vasily.

  Red
opened the gate. Mila knelt down to pet the wolves.

  “Emory is swimming in the pond. You’d think he didn’t have to pack to serve. He’s always been a bit of a procrastinator, but you already knew that,” Red said with a wink.

  Mila exhaled. “I’m not too late?”

  “You’re right on time. He doesn’t leave until tomorrow.”

  “Are Lord and Lady Dalton here?”

  “They are. Just take the path to the back and they won’t see you. Today, they are riding their horses through the east meadow. I believe they are going to the border for a run through the wild.”

  “Thank you. We both know that Lord Dalton doesn’t want to see my face around here again.”

  “Nonsense,” Red said. “He may appear to be a harsh man, but I’m sure he understands young love as much as anyone.”

  Mila exhaled and shrugged. “Perhaps.”

  She didn’t want to test that theory, but she couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to Emory, even if he hadn’t visited her once during her servitude.

  The path cut through the thick woods with trees that stood hundreds of feet tall, nearly blocking out the dreary sky. Mila had spent many days running through the woods and playing with Emory during her childhood.

  In addition to being the town fortune teller, her mother used to be Dalton’s housekeeper, and young Mila would accompany her most days. What had been a dreaded sentence had quickly turned to something to look forward to once she met Emory and his brothers.

 
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