Dragon Fever (Dark Kings #9.5) - Donna Grant

One Thousand and One Dark Nights

Once upon a time, in the future…

I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father’s home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.

I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually

become part of them.

I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.

One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand

women.

Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.

Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.

Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.

As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new

one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.

Prologue

London

January

The hot water splashed over Rachel’s face as she stood beneath the spray. She braced her hand on the tiled wall of the shower and remained for a moment longer before she turned the faucet off.

Steam swirled around the bathroom as if alive, fogging the glass. She wiped off her face and body before wrapping the towel around her. The glass was cool against her palm when she pushed open the shower door and placed one foot on the mat. Then stilled.

Someone was in her hotel room.

Her gaze swung to the bathroom door she’d left cracked open. Her heart hammered against her ribs as her stomach clenched in fear. No one should’ve been able to get into her room. She’d bolted the door.

In an attempt to slow her racing heart, she took a deep breath. Then, slowly pushed open the door. She peered around the edge to find a man sitting casually in the overstuffed chair. Long black hair was pulled away and clasped at the base of his neck. Gold eyes watched her with a wealth of humor. And a smidgen of mockery.

She blew out a breath and leaned against the door of the bathroom as indifferently as she could while wrapped in a towel.

One side of his mouth lifted in a grin. “You don’t seem surprised.”

She took in his British accent that was a bit too perfect. Sam MacDonald was anything but what he said he was. It was a fact she accepted in order to get what she wanted.

His arms rested carelessly along the arms of the chair. One long leg was bent with an ankle resting atop his other knee. His white shirt was unbuttoned at