Always (Dragon Wars #3) by Rebecca Royce
Robbie Owens has fought the dragons for seventeen years, leading his group of secret, elite werewolves. Tatyana Knox is a human in a world where humans are like unicorns—they simply don't exist. But she is real and she is Robbie's mate. If he can trust her, they will turn the tide of the war. But the clock is ticking and Tatyana's time with Robbie is almost up.
Robbie Owens stared skyward to count many green beasts circling above. As of five minutes earlier, he’d seen five dragons. They circled but, from his current perspective, the flying nightmares looked more as if they were doing a figure eight. Whatever. The flying in a pattern motion meant his enemies looked for food.
He and his fellow werewolves were not going to be dinner, not if he had a say in how their day ended.
With the slightest click of his tongue, he caught his brother’s attention. Auggie, clad in wolf form, raised his ears to look at him. Three of his seven fellow elite unit members were walking on four legs instead of two. The other four, Robbie included, stayed in their human forms. When sneaking into dragon territory to explore human ruins, they never knew exactly what they’d encounter. His team was the best of the best. If need be, the three wolves would destroy the five dragons while the rest of them busted into the caves.
Fuck, he hated dragons.
Homer squatted next to him. The young werewolf joined his team two years earlier. New recruits were few and far between these days. Seventeen years of war destroyed most werewolf soldiers before they gained enough experience to be considered elite—not to mention the severe rules to join a secret team.
In order to be a member of Robbie’s group, they agreed to let their families be informed of their death. They cut off all contact with anyone outside of the mission. The war became everything, the survival of werewolves paramount.
For over a decade, Robbie and Auggie’s family believed them dead. He pushed away the discomfort the thought brought—it really bugged him a lot lately—and turned his attention back to Homer.
The good they did outweighed the pain they caused. What was the point of letting their families think there was a chance they’d come home? On the off chance they won the war, they’d still not be fit to be around. All werewolves were affected by the never-ending battle, Robbie’s team more than most. He knew the dragons’ internal organs, how they fit together, their individual colors, as he’d been the first werewolf to gut one of the flying lizards.
“Yes. Into the caves. We take what we can carry on our backs. Ten minutes to study the cave walls and descriptions. No more. In and out. Away from the craphole cave by dinner time.”
If only these things ever went so easily. The last time they’d sought out the human caves, he’d lost two wolves to the fight. The dragons really didn’t want the werewolves in there, yet the flying monsters hadn’t burned the place to the ground.
The lack of destruction fascinated him as much as anything else. Why let the cave stay there untouched if the dragons were so adamant the wolves should not make it inside?
“Yep.” Homer nodded and scooted backwards to give the others instructions. Across the ravine, Auggie’s ears pushed downwards. His twin brother possessed the most sensitive ears of any wolf he’d ever known. Born a fighter, Auggie grew fiercer as he aged and the cerebral aspect to their special ops missions drove him crazy.
While his brother had zero interest in the caves, Robbie couldn’t spend enough time in them. Humans, though long gone, managed to leave them instructions on the dragons if only they could translate the words.
Of course, the paintings might mean jack shit and the whole escapade total crap.
“Go.” He turned left, leading his crew of four. Homer, David, Mike, and Chris followed him through the open space to the caves. The last bit of land was usually where they got caught on their way out. If the dragons missed them on the way in, they seemed to have a sixth sense in regard to their escape.
Seventeen years of war and they weren’t any closer to figuring out how not to die from a dragon attack. With the autumn wind blowing at him, he could smell the coming winter on the wind. Soon the land would freeze over, offering no relief to be found until the spring came…if they survived long enough to see the seasons change.
Since the moment the dragons appeared, burning the skies, Robbie’s way of life vanished along with his expectations. Some days he didn’t miss the way things were. Much. Shouldn’t seventeen years be enough to let old dreams go? He reached forty-four years old, not a child anymore. So the fuck what, he hadn’t gotten the future he wanted? Robbie led the most elite band of werewolf warriors alive. He was respected, listened to, and important to the war effort.
Watching sunsets over his own land while his kids ran on four feet through the forests would have probably bored him to death.
He entered the cave enough to let the others follow. Soon, all four of them hid inside. Darkness surrounded them in a veil of protection from the outside world. The midday sun shining brightly meant nothing in the permanent shadow. What had the humans done in there to make them paint the walls of a dark place?
“Torches.” He instructed, and his four comrades followed suit. They pulled their sticks out of their back pockets and whipped them in the air. Seconds later they all started to burn. A mechanism developed by his sister-in-law, Caitlyn’s, lab before the organization closed—the same institution which developed the idea to burn the dragon’s eggs.
His brothers hboth mated smart women. Too bad he’d never meet the ladies in person. He had, however, monitored them from a distance for some time. Getting Dougal back to Caitlyn had been one of his better maneuverings.
With brightness finally surrounding them, his soldiers started to collect books. They found too many to take with them all at once, so they’d need to make multiple trips. Should have been a fast mission, back and forth, yet war screwed with plans. A year passed since they’d been back to these caves.
Homer walked next to him. “These are amazing.”
Robbie regarded his friend. Homer’s help proved key in saving Robbie’s brother, Dougal, the year before. In a short period of time, he’d become integral to the team’s success. “I forgot you’d never been here before. Your first time, so to speak.”
“I’m a human cave virgin.” Homer touched a painting.
Robbie memorized the pictures over the years, yet he always thought the depictions held more to teach him. He must be missing something.
Someone painted the walls with images of humans battling dragons. Certain facts became obvious and his people learned valuable information from the pictorial representations. The werewolves hadn’t realized the dragons had a Queen until they’d seen these pictures. They’d also found depictions of the dragons disappearing and reappearing over and over again. All of those pictures made sense.
He found the next section confusing. The dragons were taken, or maybe lured, from the sky and eventually became forced into submission inside of some kind of mountain. He wished he knew how the humans managed such a feat.
Robbie would make figuring the depiction out his job to make sure he did whatever the humans had done before they’d been wiped out.
Of course, the pictures didn’t explain where the humans disappeared to hundreds of years before. Nothing except questions every time he came and once they left he couldn’t figure out the wording in the books. Their smartest people worked on translations, although there weren’t too many brilliant minds left in their shattered world.
“Are we good?” Homer looked at him. “You’ve been quiet. We’re all worried about you. Spending more and more time in your head. Auggie thinks you may need some time off. A week of leave.”
“To what? Go get my dick sucked?” He snickered although he knew Homer wouldn’t understand the joke. Years passed since he’d last gotten hard. At some point during the war, his body apparently gave up the idea of finding a mate. Everyone else lost their sexual drive when they met their mate. Male werewolves lost their constant need to fuck every female they saw after they met their mates, unable to perform for anyone except their significant other. Since he was sure he'd remember if he'd come across his, the fact that he lost all interest made no sense and just plain sucked. But what didn't anymore?
“Spend some time elsewhere. Aren’t we supposed to periodically?”
“There are no rules for us, Homer. Haven’t you figured the truth out? We don’t exist anymore. We died. We can do whatever we want.”
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More about Rebecca Royce
More about Rebecca Royce
As a teenager, I would hide in my room to read my favorite romance novels when I was supposed to be doing my homework. I hope, these days, that my parents think it was worth it.
I am the mother of three adorable boys and I am fortunate to be married to my best friend. We’ve just moved from New Jersey to Texas where I am learning to love Barbecue!
I am in love with science fiction, fantasy and the paranormal and try to use all these elements in my writing. I've been told I'm a little bloodthirsty so I hope that when you read my work you'll enjoy the action-packed ride that always ends in romance. I love to write series because I love to see characters develop over time and it always makes me happy to see my favorite characters make guest appearances in other books. In my world anything is possible, anything can happen, and you should suspect that it will.
Rebecca can be found all over the web!