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How to Date a Dragon

By:Ashlyn Chase

Chapter 1

“I’m never attending a destination wedding again.”

Bliss Russo dragged her garment bag and carry-on up the ramp to her Boston apartment building. Her purse had fallen off her shoulder ten minutes ago and dangled from her wrist. She needed the other hand to hold her cell phone to her ear so she could bitch to her friend Claudia.

“Oh, poor you. Someone made you go to Hawaii.” Claudia chuckled. “The bastards.”

“Seriously… do you know how long the flight is? Or I should say flights. First there’s the leg from Boston to L.A., then L.A. to Honolulu, and finally Honolulu to Maui. Two days later, I go from Maui to Honolulu. Then Honolulu to L.A. Then L.A. to Boston. Plus I had to follow Hawaiian wedding tradition—at least what the bride’s parents assured us was the tradition—and party all night. I haven’t slept for days.”

“You’re exaggerating.”

“No, I’m not. Unless you count the five-minute nap I took at LAX. I was so exhausted, I woke up on the chair next to me when the guy I had apparently fallen asleep on got up and left.”

“Sorry. Okay, you’re right. It was a lousy, miserable thing to make you do. So where are you now?”

“Almost home. In fact, I’ll probably lose you in the elevator. Give me a few days to sleep and I’ll call you back.”

“Call by Thursday if you can, and let me know if you want to go out Saturday night.”

Bliss jostled the door open, and one of the residents held it while she maneuvered her luggage through. “I shouldn’t. I worked a little harder and got a few days ahead so I could go to this damn wedding in the first place, but I really can’t afford to take any more time off. The competition will crush me.”

“That’s what you get for landing in the finals of your dream reality show. What is it? America’s Next Great Greeting Card Designer?”

“It’s not called America’s Next… oh, forget it. I’m at the elevator now and I’m too tired to care. I’ll call you.”

“Okay, sugar. Sweet dreams.”

“Thanks.” Bliss hung up and dropped her phone into the bowels of her purse. She yanked and stuffed her luggage into the tiny elevator, which she rode to the second floor. Eventually, she dragged everything to her door, rattled the key in her lock, and brought it all into her bedroom. Passing out on top of her bed fully dressed seemed like the only good idea she was capable of having, so she donned a sleep mask, did a face-plant, and stayed that way.


Hours later—or maybe days—Bliss awoke to a deafening blare. Still disoriented, she had no idea what the hell the noise was or, for that matter, if it was night or day. She tore off the sleep mask and still couldn’t tell what was going on. But what was that smell?

Oh. My. God. Smoke! That ear-piercing screech is the friggin’ fire alarm.

Bliss tried to remember what to do. Oh yeah, crouch down low and get the fuck out of Dodge. Thank the good Lord she lived on the second floor, because she couldn’t use the stupid elevator.

Bliss remembered just in time to put her hand to the door before opening it. It didn’t feel as though there were an inferno on the other side. Staying low, she opened the door. The smoke was so thick she could barely see. She held her breath and charged toward the end of the hall.

Suddenly, her head hit something firm and she fell backward. “Oomph.” The sharp intake of breath resulted in a coughing fit.

Looking up to see what she had hit, she realized she had just head-butted a firefighter’s ass.

He swiveled and mumbled through his mask. “Really? I’m here to save you, and you spank me?”

Despite her earlier panic, Bliss felt a whole lot safer and started to giggle. Oh no. My computer! “Wait, I have to go back…”

“No. You need to get out of here, now.” The firefighter lifted her like she weighed nothing—an amazing feat in itself—then carried her the wrong way down the rest of the hallway, through the fire door, and down the stairs.

“Wait!” She grasped him around the neck and tried to see his face through watering eyes.

His mask, helmet, and shield covered almost his whole head, but she caught a glimpse of gold eyes and a shock of hair, wheat-colored with yellow streaks, angled across his forehead. She thought it odd that the city would let firefighters dye their hair like rock musicians.

As soon as they’d made it to the street, she could see better and noticed his eyes were actually green and almond shaped. She must have imagined the gold color. He set her down near the waiting ambulance and pulled off his mask.

What a hottie! But I don’t have time for that now. She staggered slightly as she tried to head back toward the door.

He grabbed her arm to steady her. “Hey,” he shouted to one of the paramedics. “Give her some oxygen.”

“No, I’m fine. I don’t need any medical attention.” Thanks to the gorgeous hunk with the weird hair.

“Please… let them check you out.”

“I’d rather let you check me out.” She covered her mouth and grinned. “Sorry. It must be the smoke inhalation.

He laughed. “Seriously? First you grab my ass, and now you’re hitting on me?”

“I didn’t ‘grab your ass.’ For your information, I ran face-first into your… behind.”

“Oh. Well, pardon me for being in the way.”

His smile almost stopped her heart—or was it the lack of oxygen? Regardless, she had to rip herself away from him and get her computer out of the building before it melted. No matter how hard she pulled, he didn’t budge.

“You need to go back in there for my computer. Apartment twenty-five, halfway down the hall.”

He took off his gloves. “Look, I’m sorry, miss, but if I went back in there now, my chief would have my hide.”

“But my whole life is on that computer. I’m in the finale of a huge TV competition.”

He didn’t seem impressed, so she tried again.

“It’s my greeting card business and all my newest designs are there. This show would pay for a whole ad campaign and give me fifty grand if I win.” Realizing she sounded like a babbling idiot, she