The Jade Dragon by Rowena May O'Sullivan - Read Online
The Jade Dragon
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Summary

Ensorcelled in a jade dragon, Warlock Gregori has a secret that could destroy his future with the one woman who could save him from turning rogue.

Charged with guarding the jade dragon, Alanna is shocked when Gregori shatters not only the stone imprisoning him, but also the invisible barriers she has placed around herself to hide a secret far greater than his.

A secret that could destroy not only her close relationship with her sisters, but also her life as a witch and most of all, any hope of a future with Gregori.

Sensuality Level: Sensual

Published: F&W, a Content and eCommerce Company on
ISBN: 9781440565502
List price: $4.99
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The Jade Dragon - Rowena May O'Sullivan

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The Jade Dragon

Book Two of the Greenwood Witches Trilogy

Rowena May O’Sullivan, author of The Silver Rose

Avon, Massachusetts

This edition published by

Crimson Romance

an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.

10151 Carver Road, Suite 200

Blue Ash, Ohio 45242

www.crimsonromance.com

Copyright © 2013 by Rowena May O’Sullivan

ISBN 10: 1-4405-6549-X

ISBN 13: 978-1-4405-6549-6

eISBN 10: 1-4405-6550-3

eISBN 13: 978-1-4405-6550-2

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, corporations, institutions, organizations, events, or locales in this novel are either the product of the author’s imagination or, if real, used fictitiously. The resemblance of any character to actual persons (living or dead) is entirely coincidental.

Cover art © 123rf.com

To Matthew, Renee, and Declan.

You add color, light, and vibrancy to my life.

I love you with all my heart.

Break out the bubbles and let’s make a toast to love and my second published book.

Yippee!!

Contents

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

About the Author

A Sneak Peek from Crimson Romance

Also Available

Acknowledgments

Thank you, Chantelle Potter, for reading the rough draft of the The Jade Dragon for me. Your help was invaluable.

To Jennifer Lawler, Julie Sturgeon, the editors at Crimson Romance, and to my agent Jewelann Cone, a HUGE thank you for believing in me and making me a part of your worlds!

Writing Rocks!

Prologue

Marylebone Coven, Marylebone House, London

What are we going to do with Gregori? Grand Dragon Anton paced the floor of his private sitting room, his voluminous purple velvet cape floating about him as if charged with static electricity. He swirled around and looked to his Dragoness, Eleisha, for answers he could not fathom. The bells have tolled early and his true mate is yet to mature. It makes no sense. None whatsoever!

Gregori was the most powerful warlock to walk the earth. He was in danger of destroying not only himself but also everyone he held close to his heart, due to the growing volatility of his magic.

We’re going to have to send out a dragon, Eleisha paled, her hand at her throat. Perhaps several, to take his magic from him before it’s too late. As her husband paced anxiously past her she latched onto his forearm, her tone soft and full of despair. She knew it would spell disaster for her brother. Tears filmed her eyes.

Anton shook his head, denial clouding his vision. He’s my successor. He’s Dragon of Marylebone. How can this be? How could the Bells of Marylebone have rung for him without my permission? Without any of our knowledge.

He’s powerful. You’ve always known that. He’s innocent. I don’t believe he’s guilty.

The Three Fates are proving elusive. Anton spoke of the three sisters who controlled the timing of all fateful events in someone’s life. They’d taken matters into their own hands without speaking to him first. It was unheard of. When I see them next, they’ll be lucky not to be denounced as imbeciles unworthy of their title. They’d better have an extremely good reason for what they’ve done. Anton ranted as he continued to pace, this time with Eleisha at his side. "Why would they do this now, without explanation of any kind?"

There must be more at stake than either of us knows. Eleisha attempted to soothe her mate despite her own distress. She understood why the Fates were refusing to be found. But then, they had always been elusive, scary and not altogether of this world. Regardless of their position on the Supreme Council of Magical Beings, she too would have a few words to say to them when next they met.

I’m Grand Dragon of Marylebone and I rule all warlocks and witches. They did not consult with me and now the integrity of Marylebone is at stake.

Anton stopped pacing and Eleisha collided with him. He reached out to steady her, and bellowed Mistletoe so loudly that Eleisha’s ears rang.

She was still standing with a hand over her ear when a little dragon — Mistletoe, her husband’s familiar — burst into the room in a starburst of sparks and landed on Anton’s shoulder. A flame shot from his nostrils and set fire to Anton’s collar.

Mistletoe tucked his snout under a wing as Anton patted out the flames with his hand. His skin blistered and Eleisha, used to them both, grabbed his wrist and focused on the burned skin.

Heal, she whispered and within seconds, all traces of injury disappeared.

Anton’s anger deflated as quickly as it had arrived. What would I do without you, my love?

You’d probably be a mere scorch mark on the floor. Eleisha cupped her husband’s cheeks and kissed his nose.

Anton released a gruff laugh and kissed her cheek in return. True enough.

Mistletoe peeked out from behind his wing. Mistletoe sorry. Mistletoe excited.

Anton waved his hand. Do not apologize. Your flames are a part of your nature. Besides, there are more important things to discuss than scorching me or my clothes. Have you found any trace of those blasted Fates?

Mistletoe looked up into Anton’s eyes. No trace anywhere. They hide tracks well.

You don’t suppose the ringing of the bells was an accident, do you? Anton looked to Eleisha. Is it possible they could have made a mistake?

Eleisha knew her husband’s comment was a hollow hope. They’ve never been wrong before.

Anton picked up a newspaper from his desk and pointed to the picture on the front page. It’s national news. The police in Raven’s Creek claim that a man resembling Gregori caused the death of two mortals. He looked to Eleisha, shaking his head, his shoulders slumping, as if the world weighed heavily on them. Mortal they might have been, but they were the best Earth witches south of the equator. It’s an absolute tragedy!

The news was both distressing and confusing. Eleisha was positive there had been a grave error and her brother had found himself caught up in the ensuing drama. "Gregori isn’t that out of control. He has a mere two weeks left before he must bind his magic with his mate because of those dratted bells. It’s possible the person they’re looking for is someone else entirely."

My darling Dragoness, Anton spluttered, his anger increasing. It’s more likely to be him than anyone else. Realizing he was adding to his wife’s distress he added, Not that I believe he’s guilty. Anton fisted the paper and shook it violently. Mistletoe released a large flame and the paper ignited. He threw the paper into the fire. "How could he be so careless?

Tears poured from Eleisha’s eyes. She sunk into the great chair by the fireplace and sobbed into her hands. Anton knelt at his beloved’s feet and wrapped his hands around hers, lifting them away from her face. There, there. Don’t you worry, my love. I’m Grand Dragon of Marylebone. I didn’t achieve this role without learning a thing or two about the symptoms of a warlock in danger. We will find a way to save Gregori.

Mistletoe flew into the air, circling them both. Mistletoe will hunt him. Burn his magic from him. Make everyone safe.

No, Eleisha cried. We must give my brother time to prove his innocence. For us to find an answer to this dilemma.

Anton looked up at the ornately painted ceiling, and shouted. Gregori! I’m Calling you to Marylebone. Get your butt back here, now.

Only a few seconds passed before a flare of energy built in the room, sucking the oxygen from it. Anton and Eleisha looked about expectantly. They glanced at each other and despite their certainty Gregori wasn’t guilty, they armed themselves by whipping up a bubble of protection just in case.

Gregori arrived in the Dragons’ Lair in a burst of blinding light. His hair was disheveled, he had blood stains on his clothes, and a savage wild look in his eyes. I didn’t do it, he said as he grabbed Anton’s forearms. In an instant, their protective bubble burst, giving way to his will without a single hint of protest.

Eleisha gasped, knowing that her magic along with her husband’s was a powerful combination. And yet her brother had broken their spell without trying. Gregori! Your magic is leaking out all over the place. Gather it in before you hurt someone. The thought that he might already have done so entered her head. She shoved it aside.

Gregori was immediately apologetic. He closed his eyes, inhaled and released a controlled measure of air from his lungs several times. When his eyes popped open, his aura was less wild; he was in control. For now.

All I know is I felt Alanna’s heightened distress through the tenuous link I’ve sensed was there since she was born. I rushed to Raven’s Creek to ensure she was safe, only to find Alice and Jack already dead. Their car was wrapped around a tree and Alanna was unconscious in the back seat. She will live. Her injuries are minimal. She awoke for a few seconds, saw me, and then slipped back into oblivion. I called emergency services and stayed with her until they arrived. Now the police are looking for me, based on a description the ambulance driver gave to the police. The media have branded me as their killer.

Eleisha believed him. If he’d blundered, there would be no way he would have lied. He always spoke the truth. She flung herself at her brother and wrapped her arms around him, her face pressing into his chest and held on tight.

Gregori spoke to Anton over his sister’s head. We need to inform the Supreme Council. They need to be on the lookout in case there’s a rogue magical being out there. I can’t imagine a mortal could have caused such carnage.

Were there no clues as to what would have caused such a horrific event?

Gregori’s considerable shoulders slumped and he shook his head, his eyes full of confusion. There was nothing. I could pick up no trace of any human. If it was a magical being, they covered their tracks well. There was nothing. He looked to Eleisha and then back to Anton. I have not forgotten our rule; do no harm. I have not become careless despite the Bells of Marylebone tolling for me. I’m too experienced a warlock for an error of this magnitude.

I believe you. Anton held up a hand. And on my honor, as Dragon of Marylebone, I did not call for or provide permission for them to be rung. You do believe me?

Gregori pulled himself from Anton’s grasp. Mistletoe flapped in a circle about Gregori, ready to attack if he so much as attempted to hurt his master. Eleisha stood, her body braced, ready to defend her husband if the situation warranted it.

Calm yourself, my beauties. Anton was unconcerned. We are in no danger. He looked at his brother-in-law, sadness in his eyes as he studied him closely. Your aura is muddy and flaring out in wide arcs of red. It won’t be long before you lose control of your actions despite your experience, age, or intention.

Gregori sunk into a chair, his shoulders hunched, his voice filled with desolation. I can see no answer to this puzzle. He rested his elbows on his knees, his hands clasped, his fight gone.

There has to be a way. Eleisha sat opposite him, sending a quick spell to fuel the flames in the fireplace. She was cold from the shock of the day’s events and she didn’t think she would ever be warm again. I don’t believe the Fates rang the bells because it took their fancy. We have to trust there is a reason for their madness. First of all, we must find them so they can explain. I know someone who might know where they’re hiding. But I’ll have to reveal why we’re looking for them.

Gregori looked up, a hopeful glimmer in his eyes. Who is it?

Zelda Mortiboy.

Zelda! Anton exclaimed. No!

She’s also … Liquid filmed in Eleisha’s eyes, … Alice Greenwood’s best friend. We need her on our side. You know she will go after Gregori herself if we don’t do something. And soon.

Zelda Mortiboy, Wizardess of Winterbourne and Prime Wizardess of the Supreme Council of Magical Beings was the most senior member of the Council; definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Anton’s arms encompassed his wife and he kissed away the tears spilling down her cheeks. Do not cry, my beloved.

Gregori looked to Anton. I would have the world safe. You must do what needs to be done. Plus, there is the fact that Alanna is only fourteen. She is not strong enough to bind her magic with mine, especially now, with her psyche damaged from the accident. If I’m to survive long enough to prove my innocence, I must bind my magic with another.

Once bound with another, it can never be undone. Anton declared unnecessarily. They all knew Gregori was grasping at straws. Damn those Fates, he roared. How dare they do this without some kind of explanation? He swung to Eleisha. There’s only one solution I can think of. You’re not going to like it but we’re going to have to ensorcel Gregori until Alanna is old enough to bind her magic with his.

No! Gregori whirled and static bolts of electricity shot from his fingertips, scorching the floor around him. Smoke rose around him like a shroud. I refuse.

Trust me, Gregori. It’s the only way.

Call Zelda to Marylebone, Anton instructed Eleisha. We’re going to need her help for it to be effective. Now. Be quick about it! Before Gregori could move, Anton encircled his friend with an arsenal of all the spells he could muster in that moment, hoping it would be enough to hold him, a man he considered a brother, until Eleisha returned with Zelda.

Runnels of tears ran down Eleisha’s cheeks but she waved her arms in an arc until her hands met above her head. I’m sorry. I can think of no other solution. We must do this or we will lose you. She disappeared in a blink, leaving him alone with Anton.

Gregori’s body shook with undiluted frustration and anger at the injustice of it all. I am already lost.

Chapter One

Greenwood Gallery, Raven’s Creek, ten years later

Witches’ Warts! I can’t see a thing! Alanna Greenwood’s exasperation was obvious. It was her own damn fault she’d lost her magic. Although there was no way she would be admitting that little fact out loud to anyone anytime soon. How the hell could she contact Marylebone, the Supreme Ruling Coven of all witches, to report that cracks were beginning to appear on Gregori every day?

They were barely visible but Alanna had looked at him often enough over the past two years to see even the smallest of changes. She leaned over the water of the ornamental pond to inspect the jade dragon more closely. Yes, she declared, even though there was no one there to hear her. There’s another one.

Sworn to secrecy by Marylebone not to reveal to a single soul about the life imprisoned within the stone, she debated what she could do but came up with nothing. Zilch.

She rocked back on her heels and stared at the stone fence surrounding the courtyard as the first car of the day roared its way down the street. It was five thirty in the morning, daylight a mere suggestion on the horizon. She yawned and rubbed at her eyes. She hadn’t slept well since Marylebone had bound her magic for breaking witch law a few weeks ago.

After making a coffee she’d wandered down from the studio in which she lived, above the Greenwood Gallery, into the courtyard for some fresh air and to check on Gregori. It was a daily ritual, rain or shine and one she generally looked forward to. That quiet time, when the world was made fresh. Where the air was crisp, untainted by the fumes and hum of traffic and the streets mostly empty of people.

She thought of her elder sister Rosa, who nagged her constantly about moving into the small cottage Alanna had purchased a couple of years ago. Lavender Cottage. A beautiful little picture postcard cottage with Wedgwood blue windows on either side of the front door and located right next door to her sister Beth and across the road from Rosa.

It had been her intention to move in immediately after buying it, but life didn’t always go as planned. The day after she bought the cottage, Anton, Grand Dragon of Marylebone, the chief bigwig in the world of witches and warlocks had arrived unannounced in Alanna’s studio, frightening the living daylights out of her — she would never admit to a single soul she had been scared witless — and assigned her the task of crafting a jade dragon and could she do it as soon as possible, please? So she had done so, thinking she’d move into the cottage afterward. Anton had taken the finished dragon off with him, only to return with it the very next day. He’d instructed her to put him in the courtyard and extracted a promise from her that she would remain living in the studio for the duration the dragon remained with them.

How long will that be? Alanna had asked, knowing she couldn’t refuse the Grand Dragon anything.

Anton had merely shrugged. Who knows, he’d said. He’s been ensorcelled in several different types of stone over the past few years. No doubt, he’ll break his way out of this one, too. The final charge from Anton, and the hardest to keep, was not to reveal to a single soul that Anton had commissioned the dragon or that there was a soul ensorcelled inside the stone.

So stay in the studio, she did. She found herself strangely drawn to Gregori, as she’d termed him, within twenty-four hours of Anton’s departure. The name had sprung fully formed into her mind as she placed him on the stone lily pad in the pond in the courtyard. He’d seemed so lifelike. His ruby eyes had glowed eerily, and she had thought for a second he’d spoken to her. Gregori. So that’s what she’d named him. The name stuck and now everyone knew him by that name.

Why Marylebone had chosen her was a complete mystery. She was nowhere near to achieving Mastership. There was no way she was as responsible as Rosa, her elder sister. Weeks ago, Rosa had bound her magic with one of the most powerful Dragons to walk the earth and had been Called to Marylebone and made immortal.

How am I going to advise Marylebone of the cracks? Frustrated didn’t go halfway to how she felt. And it was all her damn fault. I suppose I’m going to have to ’fess up to Goran. Surely that won’t be breaking any laws? She scowled and kicked a stone with her slipper. It hopped across the courtyard to settle next to a hydrangea.

Goran’s presence in Raven’s Creek was why the wrath of Marylebone had descended upon her and Beth. They’d both Called down Goran Thoreaux — accidentally — and made him Earthbound. A magical misadventure resulting in a royal slap on the hand by Marylebone.

Calling down an immortal was forbidden in the world of Witchdom.

They should explain the laws in finer detail, she muttered, knowing full well all laws were taught before being allowed to perform a single spell and those laws had been drummed into