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Dragon shifter CEO Malachite “Mal” Onyx doesn’t have time for relationships. But the domineering billionaire has no choice – either marry a human female and produce dragonlets or return to his home planet Draconis and take the claw of Empress Horribus.
Where can he find a willing bride? Preferably one who is lush and curvy, with soft brown hair and sparkling green eyes, and who makes his soul light on fire. Like that shy, secretive intern, Cheryl…
Drooling over smoking hot dragon shifters under the pretense of drawing them is a definite perk of Cheryl’s graphic design internship. Especially the hard-bodied CEO, who’s as ripped as Superman and flies, too.
But when her next “duties as assigned” turn out to be marrying him, she has to think hard before turning Mal down. There’s something sweetly endearing about his impossible demands, and the toe-curling kisses offer their own irresistible enticement…
A dragon male has never turned down the Empress. Dragon society is about to be rocked by a shy, curvy female from an unimportant little planet named Earth!
Mal’s voice roared across the office floor, summoning her back to his office.
Cheryl jumped up. Her chair rolled away with the force of her leap. Was it time to turn in the final logo already? Her redesign sketches were barely past the idea stage.
She gathered up what she had, walked around her desk, and headed down the corridor to his office.
Mal waited in the doorway. He studied her intently as she approached. Usually, he was already looking past her to yell for someone else, but this time, his focus intensified on her.
That was odd.
“What is it?” she asked.
“We’re getting married,” he said.
What? She came to a dead stop in front of him. He was looking at her so seriously that it almost made her blurt, We? We, who? As if he might mean her.
Ha ha. Him and her? No.
Had her ongoing fantasies clouded her brain? Too much exposure to super hot dragon shifters caused her to hallucinate? Or was it all the weeks of no sleep preparing for her finals?
Of course he meant “we” as in him and some other hot, sexy model he expected her to know about, even though she’d never seen him with any female besides the employees. And he treated all of them with the same preoccupied gruffness as he treated her.
He was married to the company. That’s what she would have said if anyone asked.
But now, he was marrying a real person.
Aw. Her heart sank.
He gestured for her to get into his office. “In. Now.”
Cheryl squeezed past the electrifying dragon shifter and entered his office. His announcement echoed in her ears as she headed to her customary seat at the conference table.
What was she doing? Designing the wedding invitations?
“No, come to my desk.”
She rose, followed him over to the ginormous mahogany desk that looked straight out of a fifties Madison Avenue set, and sat. The leather seat cupped her buttocks. She faced him.
Mal stood framed against a wall of glass. One window was cut into it that could open. The dragon shifters all had windows to an inside, glass-encased, elevator-less shaft they used to shoot up to the roof. Like you do, when you can fly.
Mal rested his fists on the desk and leaned over at her. “Are you currently married?”
She sat up straight and gripped her tablet in both hands. “No.”
“Are you capable of mating?”
Mating? Her hoodie suddenly felt too hot and tight. Every time she looked at him, she was extremely capable. “Uh…what do you mean?”
“Do you desire sex for the purpose of producing dragonlets?”
Sex. Dragonlets. That was what they called their babies.
He knew. All those times she’d been watching him. Eating him up. Stalking him in her mind. All those times she’d brushed against him and thought he would never notice. He had noticed.
Hard shivers ran down her sides. How had this happened? She was quiet, she dressed like she hated her body, and she slipped unnoticed from class to the internship and home again in an infinite, boring cycle of deadlines that didn’t even matter. Except, of course, her final portfolio that would determine whether she graduated with job offers or starved in the street.
He had looked into her mind and read her fantasies. Her whole body pulsed, hot, as though he had opened her innermost secret diary and begun reading the pages. What else did he know?
Mal waited for her answer.
She pinched the sleeves of her hoodie, worrying the soft fabric.
He was not asking her to make babies together. No. There was no way. This was a misunderstanding. He wanted her to design invitations. With baby dragonlets. Yes, that was what it was.
“Um…” Her throat closed, and she cleared it. “You mean…uh, do I want, uh…”
“Sex,” he supplied.
Her heart thundered. His direct answer seemed clear. She squeezed the hoodie sleeve. “With, uh, me and you? Us?”
No way. No way. No way.
“Yes or no,” he said. “Answer.”
Her voice squeezed higher. It came out a squeak. “Maybe?”
“I’ll take that as a yes.” His eyes narrowed. “Have you ever bit the snout, or any other body part, off of a male?”
That made her start. “What?”
“You heard the question.”
His collar was open, giving her a hard display of his powerful neck connecting to the rippling muscle of his chest and the upper curves of two gorgeous pectorals.
She swallowed. “Do you mean, like, did I ever bite someone’s head off?”
His striking green eyes widened. “You bite heads off?”
His shoulders dropped with visible relief.
She snorted. “It means yelling at someone, and no, not really.”
Wait. Did that mean the dragon shifters literally bit things off each other? Yikes.
But she didn’t ask.
His gaze intensified. He studied her from top to bottom and back up again. Heat, which was always burning in her body every time Mal was around, stoked from coals to pulsing, hungry flames. She sucked in a breath, feeding them oxygen.
His gaze tracked on her chest. Rising, falling, rising.
The heat in her body burned brighter.
Could this fantasy be real? She licked her lips.
He saw that. His own lips parted and his eyes glimmered a brighter green.
Alex knocked at the doorway, shattering the moment, and placed a file on Mal’s desk. “Here is the marriage contract.”
She took a deep breath. Her body glowed and tingled. She rubbed her arms.
Mal growled and thumbed through the papers. Green scales shimmered on his wrists, the same color as his eyes, and disappeared again. Alex bowed and closed the door behind him.
Mal turned the contract to her and forced a pen into her lax hand. “Sign on the line.”
The contract read, “Application for Marriage.”
Her head reeled.
So…she didn’t misunderstand? He meant what he’d said? It wasn’t a hallucination caused by her long-held desires, or she’d hit her head, or spending hours a week near intolerably delicious dragon hotness caused her mind to snap?
The crisp paper in her hands felt real.
The heavy pen felt real.
The dark, crackling focus in his green eyes and the power in his lithe movements had her heart thumping in a way that was undeniably real.
This couldn’t be real.
She set the pen next to the unsigned application.
He looked up. “What?”
“Do you mean it?”
“What? Marriage? Yes.”
It did not compute. “For how long?”
So much intent male focused on her. The gorgeous body. The sharp mind. His abruptness, which was both rough and endearing. Offering to become hers forever. In matrimony?
She swallowed. “Can I think about it?”
“No. Answer now.”
She didn’t know how to process this. She didn’t know where to begin or what questions to ask.
He read the resistance in her manner. Something vulnerable flashed in his face. His jaw tightened.
“Fine.” He shoved the contract into a manila folder and slammed it on the desk in front of her. His pens rattled. “I want it back on my desk, signed, by 5 PM tonight. Understood?”
She understood the words. And his tone almost sounded like he was hurt by her hesitation. As if he really did like her and was trying to propose, but she wasn’t responding, and he didn’t know how to make it right.
But that was crazy.
“Good.” He nodded to confirm she had comprehended his deadline, then sat in his seat and reached for the phone.
Starla’s Note ~ A less steamy version of Dragon VIP: Malachite was originally released as part of the limited-edition USA Today bestselling Other Worlds collection. It is now available only as a full-steam stand-alone novel.