Death Stalker: Dragon
By: C. L. Scholey
Cover art: Rogue Reyer
Editor: Melanie Billings
Neron is a deadly Komodo dragon shifter; his bite is lethal. One of the Death Stalker elite, and tough as nails, his job is to take out the worst of the worst. This badass is up for any challenge.
A demon shifter is on the loose and is determined to isolate his mate, wanting to kill all in his path, including Neron’s mate, Haven. Neron won’t let anyone come between him and his chosen. Haven is going to have to learn to obey Neron if she is to survive.
No one is going to tell Haven what to do, especially not the sexy dark-haired, dark-eyed god, Neron. Even if it risks her own life.
Copyright 2017 C. L. Scholey
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Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
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Printed in Canada
Dedication: This story is dedicated to my readers who offer kind support, encouraging and engaging emails, and laughter. You guys are the best!
A bear shifter eyed Neron with trepidation. The bear stood in his human form, in uniform, six feet tall and well built, rocking from foot to foot. Deep rich chestnut hair fell over a green eye. When the bear lifted his shaky hand to brush the hair from his face, his muscles flexed and bunched. Neron supressed a laugh. Puny bear. He had a teddy bear as a child, briefly. Neron ripped its head off moments after he received the toy, much to his shifter father’s amusement.
Neron was sitting in a leather chair, his long lanky legs stretched out before him. He supressed a yawn. Manicured fingers tapped the worn plastic chair handle, an ominous sound in the quiet room. The manicure was a necessary evil he endured after each target cleanup. Neron’s black leather jacket was unzipped, his black T-shirt stretched across his broad chest. He wore no weapon, he didn’t need to. Neron was his own lethal weapon. The bear, standing as though ready to take flight to a semi-opened door directly to his left, swallowed hard, shuffling his feet.
The bear had good cause to be wary. Neron wasn’t amused at being summoned, by a grizzly no less, taking him away from a much-needed holiday. Death Stalkers such as Neron were prone to anger when coming off a high profile case. The last shifter he stalked, a murderous black panther hybrid, walked the spirit world now. Neron barely had time to wash the blood from his hands, never mind enduring the mandatory cleaning, before receiving yet another job. Nerves taut, he clenched and unclenched his jaw.
Death Stalkers went after the shifter demons and not ones who robbed or committed cruelties. Neron’s kind went after the unimaginable. The likes no one, shifter or human, could battle and hope to walk away from alive. A Death Stalker elite answered to no one except an individual Handler. All shifters were hand chosen and deemed the deadliest of all. There were few who knew of their existence. Normally, a demon shifter was already under Death Stalker surveillance. To be summoned by a simple shifter was a first for Neron. He didn’t like it one bit. His jaw twitched in agitation.
Weather conditions added to Neron’s annoyance. The wind howled a screaming protest through the halls of the building, much like marks about to die. Coniferous timber outside added restless groans and moans. The snowy cold land was a grave fit for a target. Fine for a bear, not so much a Komodo dragon shifter. The bear went by the name of Gunner, quaint, also who the hell cared? If it wasn’t for his Handler, a Death Stalker, ordering Neron to meet Gunner after his initial protest from the bear summons, he would be shooting tequila and playing pool in the blissful heat of a tropical island.
The clock behind him ticked away the seconds. Neron felt the growl waiting in his throat.
“Well, you gonna talk, fur ball, or send me love notes across the desk?” Neron demanded.
“I know you think I’m wasting your time. I’m not. I’m trying to approach what I want in a way you’ll listen with an open mind. You have a reputation when annoyed, and I’m worried you’ll think I’m lying.”
“Spill it before I spill your guts.”
“I’m the ranger here for this campground.”
“Tell me something I don’t know, Yogi.”
“This is prime skiing time. Visitors are going missing. There is nothing left of them. No clothes, bones, not a drop of blood. Random victims for the most part. We won’t be able to keep the disappearances covered much longer. We may have to shut the park down.”
“I believe the problem is a shifter. I think Manni is here, and you know what they say about him. He has bloodlust. Everyone thinks they know what he is.”
Neron sat up straighter, pissed. The action made the bear shifter jump back. “There is no such thing as a Manticore, you walking rug. Mythical is one thing, folklore is another.”
Neron would have walked out, after he killed the bear, if he hadn’t been in such a generous mood, after all he’d answered the summons, Gunner was still breathing, and Neron was cold as hell. Neron hated the cold. He should rough the bear up to get his blood de-thawed and flowing, but it would take too much effort.
“Oh, I know. It’s just—”
“My bite is lethal.” Neron hoped Gunner caught the threat.
“There is no other shifter who can come close to Manni.”
“He’s a freak of nature.” Neron practically spat the words. “No one knows what the fuck Manni is.”
“He prefers it that way.”
“His parents should have destroyed him at birth. Some ancestor inbreeding and there’s a killer on the loose. I thought they locked him up.”
“His parents did. They’re missing, and he’s loose.”
“So you want a Death Stalker to clean things up. We warned the bleeding heart shifter counsel Manni should be destroyed years ago. A counsel you happen to be on. He should have been dealt with as a child. The little puke murdered an entire family of humans unable to defend themselves. It’s reprehensible. We all saw what was in his eyes, or what wasn’t. He has no soul. There isn’t an ounce of empathy in him.”
“We need your help.”
“I hate the fucking snow, and you need to get your own shit dealt with. Deal with the consequences.”
“You’re pissing me off, fur ball.”
Neron rose to his full height of six foot four. Behind the bear shifter was a mirror, and Neron could see his dark, almost black eyes narrow. Gunner shifted from foot to foot, the color was draining from his face. Neron could smell fear.
“You have the stench of a wolverine when scared shitless,” Neron said, then sneered. He spun on his heels.
“Wait. What about Manni?”
“I told you, I hate the snow. You kill him like you should have years ago.”
“You know I can’t. I don’t have your abilities…”
As Neron stormed out, a women dressed head to toe in hat, mitts, poofy coat, and snow pants barrelled past him. Her boots were clunky and she looked covered in snow as though she recently rolled in it. She was grumbling about little brat ass boys who needed a good spanking. Neron stood outside as the door slowly closed behind him. His runners were immediately engulfed in snow up to his calves. He swore vehemently. A mother grabbed her young daughter, scowled at him and dragged her child out of earshot. Groaning, Neron turned and went back inside. The woman removed her hat. Her long red hair, strands full of static, stood wild in all directions as though gasping to escape the confines of the material which held it captive. When she turned to the side, he could see vivid blue eyes and features a whirlwind of emotion. He clenched his fists sensing her frustration.
“You need to do something about those little demons,” the woman was saying and narrowed her gaze onto Gunner, as snow fell from her shoulder and plopped to the floor.
“They’re out shaking trees again, eh?”
“No, I rolled in the snow because it makes me happy.” Her tone dripped sarcasm. “I’m in no mood to play, Gunner. You know why I’m here. We need answers.”
“I’m sorry, Haven. There is no news on your sister’s boyfriend’s disappearance.”
The young woman was distraught. “Orion is devastated. So am I. First, we lose our parents in some freak accident and now her boyfriend is gone. He was going to propose to her. He loves her, but he hasn’t had a chance to tell her.”
“We have every available person working on it.”
“Tell them to work faster.”
Gunner sighed and nodded. Haven yanked her hat onto her head in a huff and turned to leave. She walked right into Neron’s arms. He steadied her as she slipped forward, her boots skidding on the melted snow. For a brief second, his bare hand brushed her cold cheek. Shock waves raced through him. There was no mistake. She was his all right. There was zero doubt in his mind. His frozen flesh tingled to life, his heart a staccato of erratic behavior. My mate.
“Excuse me,” she mumbled and side-stepped him. Haven stormed out. The bear shifter was gazing at Neron.
“Change your mind, Neron?”
“No. I still hate snow.”
“Want me to carry you to your car?”
Neron wasn’t amused. He noted the bear was no longer as frightened of him. It was apparent Gunner understood why Neron returned and wouldn’t leave. The mate of any shifter was no laughing matter and the mate of a Death Stalker was far more dangerous to secure and keep safe. As Neron moved closer the smile left the bear shifter’s lips. He held out his hands in supplication and backed up a few steps. A grizzly may be huge, but he wasn’t near as dangerous as a dragon. Especially a ticked off Death Stalker Komodo with cold wet feet and frozen balls.
“You were saying?” Neron asked.
“Haven has been coming here with her family for years. I’ve known her since she was a child. She trusts me, so trust me when I say she won’t like you. She doesn’t go for the badass types. You’re the biggest badass I know. You’ll scare her to death. If she wasn’t so concerned with Orion, she would have fainted if she saw the look on your face when you touched. I saw you lay claim in an instant.”
“So my mate’s a suck? That’s just great.”
“The fates sure messed this pairing up. Haven’s not a suck; she skis like a pro. She’ll take on any mountain in any weather and laugh. Her baby sister Orion is her best friend, and Haven would kill to protect her. Haven likes her men sweet and not too big. She’s had two boyfriends that I’ve seen. Both blond, blue-eyed, under six feet and scrawny as hell. You’re what? Two-fifty? Your muscles have muscles. Besides, that expression would make a tiger crap itself.”
“What do you suggest?”
“That’s a given. Any other wisdom gems?”
The bear grinned. “Haven loves snow.”
“Perfect,” Neron ground out through gnashed teeth.
“Do you wanna build a demon snowman?” Gunner muttered with a chuckle almost under his breath.
Neron growled and spun. There was no way he was going to let his mate simply walk out, away from his line of vision while Manni was loose, if in fact it was Manni. And no, he didn’t want to build a fucking demon snowman.