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What Stubborn Dragons Want: Dragon Shifters of Elysia, #3

What Stubborn Dragons Want: Dragon Shifters of Elysia, #3

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What Stubborn Dragons Want: Dragon Shifters of Elysia, #3

214 pages
3 hours
Mar 6, 2020


Sometimes, finding love is the easiest part. What's hard is when the government of your beloved says your love is illegal.


Lillian Miller's plans for her weekend are to attend her sister's (illegal) wedding in Elysia South with her family, hang out in a dragon city she's been dying to see, and try not to get caught doing any of that because setting foot in any Draknos kingdom is against the law. However, when their guide into the kingdom, Airon, a dragon shifter spy currently living covertly in Dallas begins to pursue her romantically, Lillian suddenly has more things to worry about than getting arrested. While she is certainly attracted, she absolutely doesn't want to give up her life and friends in Dallas, something that would inevitably have to happen in the current political climate where dragon shifters are still thought of as beasts. She also doesn't want Airon to give up his home to live as something he's not, especially when evidence of dragon hunters surfaces.


Can Lillian and Airon overcome what seems an unbreakable barrier of bureaucracy and xenophobia as well as their own personal hang-ups to find their happily ever after?


Contains mature content, language, and hot dragon shifters.

Mar 6, 2020

About the author

Cristina Rayne is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in West Texas with her crazy cat and about a dozen bookcases full of fantasy worlds and steamy romances. She has a degree in Computer Science which totally qualifies her to write romances. As Fantasy is her first love, she feels if she can inject a little love into the fantastical, along with a few steamy scenes, then all the better. She is also the author of the Claimed by the Elven King, Claimed by the Elven Brothers, Incarnations of Myth, and The Vampire Underground series.

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What Stubborn Dragons Want - Cristina Rayne


M om, Airon won’t be here for another thirty minutes, so you might as well sit down, Lillian Miller said calmly as she watched her mother pace near the front window, earning herself a glare that made her feel oddly nostalgic.

Had it been a decade earlier, that sharp look would have been followed by a lecture about her smart mouth or something similar and the loss of her cell phone for a week rather than the As if I could! admonishment her mom was currently radiating. Emmy had always cheered her up afterward, refusing to let Lillian drown in teenage angst. Never judging, just the steady rock of support everyone could always count on.

Well, maybe feeling nostalgic about past parental discipline wasn’t so odd considering what they would be doing in a little over twenty-four hours.

Her mom moved from the window over to the couch, but she didn’t sit. Airon… she echoed, her mouth pursed in something like disapproval. "How is it that a dragon from another world can have such a human sounding name?"

It really is his name, if that’s what you’re asking, Lillian said with a chuckle.

I’m so glad that you’re finding all of this insanity so amusing, her mom huffed.

I don’t think Emma would appreciate you thinking of her upcoming wedding as ‘all of this insanity,’ her dad cut in with a wry grin.

Her mom scowled. "The wedding is probably the only normal thing happening these days, so don’t give me that. You know exactly what I mean. She gestured around the strange living room they were currently waiting in with an exaggerated sweep of her hand that would have made P.T. Barnum proud. It’s the morning before my daughter’s wedding. I should be running around panicking over last minute details like flowers or catering, not covertly shuffling around Crowley, of all places, to a ranch in the middle of nowhere as though we’ve just entered witness protection!"

Well, this place is considered a ‘safehouse’ by the dragons, so you’re not entirely wrong, Lillian agreed.

How did they even manage to buy this place without drawing suspicion, anyway?

Among the million things I want to ask Sevek once we’re face-to-face again, Lillian replied earnestly. You don’t get to be as old as some of them are without becoming pretty resourceful, so I imagine the answer will be quite the story.

And what’s to stop a bunch of ‘resourceful,’ self-professed immortal dragon-shifters from taking over the world? her mom asked quietly.

Lillian winced. That was a worry that hadn’t taken long to rear its ugly head from the day of the rather unimaginatively named Dragon Summit when King Dagon and his entourage had shifted from their seemingly human forms into huge, red-black dragons in front of the world. How many of her clients had voiced that very fear in the months after? How many people considered the Draknos as merely beasts rather than people?

Too many, if what she was seeing on social media were any indication. Yet…

According to Emma, Sevek is definitely all man no matter what else he can shift into…

Lillian looked at both her parents and cleared her throat. Yeah…this wasn’t the best time for her thoughts to go into the gutter.

A king that wants his people to thrive in peace, Lillian answered firmly. "Do you really think that Emmy, of all people, would have fallen in love with a dragon-shifter if they were all just warmongering brutes? Meatheads are so not her type, and you know it."

Not everyone has had as much first-hand exposure to dragons as you. Not even us, her father said pointedly. The rest that have, well, they’re either politicians or people who have no idea they just talked to a dragon like our friend, Airon. Not the best sample size for accurate opinions.

And this is what I mean when I say things have gone totally insane, her mom interjected. You two are talking about dragons as though such creatures have been a part of actual human history all along and not just as creatures featured in fictional stories.

Again, Lillian winced internally. She really wished her mom would stop calling dragon-shifters creatures.

Her dad shrugged. We’re just the pragmatists of the family, I think.

Lawyers, her mom muttered, though with a hint of a smile on her lips that Lillian was relieved to see.

Maybe seeing everyday life in Elysia South will help you adjust to the idea that we now share this earth with people that can shift into something that was one hundred percent fiction only a few months ago, Lillian suggested. I mean, take Emma, herself. She’s doing the same job at that dragon city as she did in North Point. The only difference is that she’s teaching adults now too, along with the children. They even have stuff like laptops, tablets, and Wi-Fi, for God’s sake!

I suppose, her mom said with a sigh. I just hate that she can’t come home because she’ll be arrested for breaking parole, that we’ll only get to see her in person maybe only once or twice a year.

It won’t be forever, Lillian said firmly. The dragons don’t want to stay cooped up within the borders of their energy shield for longer than they must. Airon says that King Dagon is pretty much in constant negotiations with the president and Congress about things like trade, currency, and travel restrictions. They have plenty of extremely valuable things to offer the US. You don’t have to look any farther than that energy shield to know that the military is just itching to get their hands on that kind of technology. Dangling those kinds of secrets in front of our government is like dangling a piece of raw meat over a tank of piranhas. I can’t imagine the Draknos won’t be granted requests for travel visas in the near future. After that, who knows?

I didn’t realize that you talked with Airon about those kinds of things, her mom said worriedly. After all, getting mixed up in the dragons’ business is the reason Emma got into such serious trouble with the law to begin with!

"Of course I do! These kinds of things—trade, interaction between our two societies—they’re important for everyone, not just some politician wanting to capitalize on his or her position for their own self-interest."

The sound of tires crunching over gravel had all three of them looking over to the front window before Lillian’s mom could retort. Her dad cautiously walked to the window and peered through the slit in the dark curtains.

A red SUV, he announced. It’s him.

We can talk about all the heavy stuff, later, Lillian said. She reached over to take her mother’s hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. After the wedding. This is a time to have fun, to celebrate! Plus, we’ll be among the first humans to ever step foot in Elysia South. That alone is cause for excitement! Emmy’s wedding will just be the cherry on top to an extraordinary weekend.

Her mom took a deep breath and then gave a sharp nod, squeezing her hand back. You’re right. This is Emma’s big day. The last thing she needs is her worrywart of a mother causing that bright smile to dim even a speck.

Three knocks sounded at the door, followed by a five second pause and then two more soft knocks. All this spy-movie-like caution made Lillian suddenly want to giggle at its absurdity, and she wasn’t the type of person who giggled. However, if it kept both Emma’s secret safe as well as the dragon’s secret underground tunnel undiscovered, then she was willing to do anything asked of her, even if that something ultimately required her to crawl through vents.

Right on time, as usual, her dad said after letting the messy-haired, dragon-shifter spy into the house.

Lillian blinked in surprised and then quickly rose to her feet when she saw an older, silver-haired woman step into the house behind Airon.

Everyone, this is Carol, Airon said without preamble. She’s an old friend of Princess Briana’s and will accompany us to Elysia South.

Lillian immediately approached her and held out her hand with a smile. It’s good to meet you, Ma’am. I’m Lillian, and these are my parents, Gerald and Shannon.

The woman’s answering smile was all things cozy and warm. It’s nice to meet everyone. It seems mine won’t be the only happy reunion this weekend.

Yes, Lillian agreed without elaboration, wary of sharing more beyond their names. She assumed that was why Airon had only introduced his unexpected companion by first name only.

Airon’s eyes dropped to the two small, wheeled suitcases next to the couch and gave a satisfied nod. Good. You packed light as suggested. You have quite the walk ahead of you. Shall we?

Lillian purposely pretended to have trouble raising the handle of her suitcase to allow the others sans Airon to leave the house.

That wasn’t subtle at all, Airon remarked with a lazy grin.

Lillian rolled her eyes. You weren’t the intended audience. My mother’s been overly anxious about the trip, and I just wanted to ask if you noticed anything we should be concerned about without her present.

Sounds like she isn’t the only anxious one in your group.

She snorted. A little paranoia is good for everyone. While there’s no way I would miss my little sister’s wedding, I’d also like to keep my freedom and my career.

No one followed you out of North Point. At least physically. We still have yet to manage to hack into your country’s satellite systems, so we, of course, can’t guarantee that they didn’t follow you until you met my guards-brother in Dallas.

I don’t know which is more unnerving. The fact that you’re throwing around words like ‘hacking’ so casually, or the way my parents glowed blue for a minute or two after your buddy cast that glamour spell over them.

Lillian shivered, remembering the way it had felt as if a cold, invisible film had settled heavily onto every inch of her skin after Airon’s comrade had cast the spell over her. It had almost been suffocating, but thankfully, the feeling had faded after a few seconds. She couldn’t help but think that Emma, the lover of all things fantasy and magic, would have been delighted by the experience. That she was marrying a dragon-shifter was just par for the course.

Airon chuckled. Unnerving, huh. And yet, Vaizus said you appeared quite bored with the whole procedure. You must have quite the—oh, what was the phrase the princess used…

Quite the poker face? Lillian offered.

Yes! Quite the poker face. You Terrans have such delightful phrases.

Do you even know what poker is? she asked as she followed him out of the house.

Terran playing cards have become quite popular among the Guard. There are many helpful instructional videos available on various card games on your internet.

Lillian sighed. Of course they have. Well, you Royal Guards have that in common with human soldiers. And people say dragons are too ‘alien’ to ever assimilate comfortably into the human population.

All the humor abruptly left Airon’s eyes. Do they now?

No use sugar-coating something as important as human-dragon relations, she replied bluntly.

That lazy smile returned. I like a blunt woman.

Lillian almost tripped over an invisible rock as they rounded the back of the SUV. Excuse me?

Airon’s smile merely widened as he picked up her suitcase to stash in the back with the others. Better hop in the vehicle before your mother comes out here to retrieve you.

Why do dragons have to be flirts as well as drop-dead gorgeous? Lillian thought resentfully as she turned on her heel without bothering to respond. She didn’t know if she wanted to knock those fake eyeglasses off his face he always wore as part of his cover or kiss that infuriating smirk until neither one of them could breathe.

After six months of interacting with this playful yet sometimes deathly serious dragon where she could at times see the weight of millennia in his eyes, Lillian could well understand how Emma could have fallen for Sevek so quickly, and that worried her. She had never been a sucker for a pretty face, and she was even less impressed with confident flirts. However, even she could admit to herself that she found Airon attractive in more ways than one.

Is everything all right? her father whispered into her ear as Lillian settled into the third-row seat beside him.

Yes, just wanted to make sure there weren’t any problems on his way down, she whispered back with a meaningful glance to the back of her mother’s seat.

He nodded. No news is good news.

Lillian wasn’t so sure in this instance, but she wasn’t about to shatter his illusion. This had been a stressful year for everyone, and as her mother had said earlier, she wasn’t about to be the killjoy of the group.


An hour later found them stopped on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere somewhere east of Lake Kiowa. Lillian was relieved. Talk had been kept to a minimum as her family and Carol still were wary of how much personal information they should reveal to each other, and the periodic awkward silences had been stifling.

Carol had said that she owned a rare books shop but hadn’t revealed in which city. Lillian had thought it was all right to say she was an attorney, but for the most part, they kept the conversation to mundane things like the recent weather or in the case of her mother and Carol, books they had recently read.

Lillian had itched for her phone, but anything electronic had wisely been forbidden on this particular trip. She hated the way she felt naked without her phone. Smart phone addiction was very real…

We still have another hour of walking, Airon warned after all the luggage had been unloaded.

She sighed mentally. Yes, in the June Texas sun. Never mind that it was still morning, the temperature was already ninety-five degrees. She glanced around at their surrounding terrain with a keener eye. It seemed they would be walking within a thicket of trees for a while instead of the open plains full of brush and cacti that she had been expecting, so maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

We have hats and good walking shoes, so it’s fine, her mom said with forced cheer as she tugged down on her white, wide-brimmed sun hat for emphasis.

Lillian tried to ignore the way Airon had just blatantly given her a twice-over after she had put on her own floppy sun hat.

You hate cocky men. Remember that.

A self-admonishment that flew out the window a second later when he very sincerely offered to carry both Carol’s and her suitcases so as to not ruin the wheels in the rough terrain while her dad carried the suitcase he shared with her mom. Not wanting to make a big deal about it or make a clearly relieved Carol feel bad about accepting, Lillian acquiesced with a polite thank you.

But you so do find a gentleman sexy, damn him.

At least with

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