Good morning! I’m excited to share an exclusive excerpt of The Dragon CEO’s Assistant by Jenn Burke with you! This lovely story is out today and a must-read for anyone who loves fantasy spice with a bit of mystery and love!
The heart remembers.
When Aidan Bishop staggers out of the woods, naked and suffering from amnesia, he needs to relearn who he is and where he fits in the world.
His boss, nearly five-hundred-year-old dragon Nassim, head of a successful tech company, hurries to claim his wayward assistant and guide him back into the life he disappeared from. As they get to know each other again, Aidan wonders if their relationship went deeper than employer and employee. But Nassim isn’t telling, and Aidan has a secret of his own… even if he doesn’t know it yet.
Those fire-laden eyes remained focused on Aidan. “Sometimes…I need to not be human for a little bit.”
“Oh?” Aidan ventured a step closer.
“You can come here. I already ate a goat earlier.”
Aidan froze. “That’s not funny, Nassim.”
Vibrations traveled through the room. “It’s a little funny.”
Okay, maybe. Also reassuring, because a powerful mythos making bad jokes lost all ability to frighten. Aidan moved toward Nassim’s bulk, only to hiss as he stepped wrong on a rock.
“More to the left. Straight…there you go.” Teeth flashed in the pale light as Aidan reached Nassim. “Welcome to my lair.”
“I’m glad I can barely see your smile. It’s probably terrifying.” Aidan settled on a boulder near Nassim’s lowered head. From this distance he could make out some details but not many. He had an impression of bony ridges along Nassim’s snout and eyes and large horns curving into the dark from atop his head. The air was noticeably warmer this close to Nassim, and it carried a scorched-rock scent with it.
“So is this like where you’re from?”
“I’m from the Ottawa Valley.”
“Well…now.” Nassim blinked those huge eyes, hiding his fire for a split second. “I was not born in Canada. My family is from the sands of the Middle East, but don’t ask me to tell you exactly where. Borders and boundaries have changed so much. I probably wouldn’t be able to find it again.”
“So you’re more used to, what? Hot sand?”
“Eh, not anymore. The caves in the north have their own charm.”
“Don’t you get cold?”
“No, Aidan.” Nassim chuckled. “I have a fire burning inside of me. I’m never cold.”
“Good point.” And a reminder that Aidan was sitting all casual-like, having a conversation with a freaking dragon. “So, uh, why are you hiding?”
“I beg your pardon. I am not hiding.”
Oh yeah, that was righteous indignation in Nassim’s voice. “You are totally hiding.”
“Sometimes I need space to—”
“There’s no shame in crying, you know.”
“I realize that, but I haven’t been crying.”
“So are you scared of something?”
Nassim lifted his head to look down at Aidan, and Aidan was pretty sure that was a dragon version of a death glare. Funny, he didn’t feel even a flicker of fear. “I am dragon. I fear nothing.”
“So what is it?” When Nassim looked away and didn’t answer, Aidan blew out a sigh. “I know I don’t know much about dragons. I don’t even know if I knew much about your race—”
“—species at all, before. But no one hunkers down alone in a cave-like room for going on four hours for no reason.”
Nassim’s sigh gusted over Aidan’s hair, bringing with it the aroma of charcoal and ozone. “I had two sales meetings this morning,” he finally said quietly.
“Crap. Didn’t they go well?”
“They were fine. I smiled and shook hands and presented the slideshows you updated for me yesterday. Thank you for that, by the way.”
“You’re welcome. Are we going to get their business?”
“I think so. They seemed eager.”
“That’s great, then.”
Except Nassim didn’t sound like it was great at all. “But?”
“I would prefer such meetings to be scheduled separately, with at least a day in between.”
“Oh.” Aidan frowned as he tried to place all these new pieces into an image that made sense. “I’m sorry. When I got that call yesterday, I thought it was perfect timing that you had a slot open at the same time they did, and—”
“You didn’t know. It’s all right.”
“I still don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I…I don’t like strangers,” Nassim said in a rush.
Aidan considered that for a moment and then shook his head. “Nope, you’re going to have to explain it better than that. You’re the CEO. You meet people all the time.”
Nassim was silent, and for a moment, Aidan thought he wasn’t going to offer up any further explanation. Then, his voice quiet, he said, “I get anxious around people I don’t know.”
“A dragon who literally just told me he’s afraid of nothing because he’s dragon.”
“Yes. I’m not afraid,” Nassim growled. “I’m anxious. There’s a difference.”
“What do you mean, why?”
Aidan squinted at Nassim. “I’m not sure how to make that question more clear.”
He got a faceful of hot, burnt-smelling air in response. Was that smoke leaking from Nassim’s nostrils?
“What does it matter why? It’s a fact, one you’ll need to consider when booking—”
“Wait. Hold on. Do you think I want to know out of curiosity, Nassim?” Stupid dragon. “I want to know so I can help you fix it.”
“Well, yeah. I’m not trying to downplay yoursocial anxiety, but if it gets you so wound up you need to hide for half the day?”
Nassim’s giant head seemed to melt into the floor, or try to. “It’s not usually this bad,” he murmured. “It has been a…trying week.”
Oh crap. Of course. He’d been worried over Aidan’s disappearance, then dealing with Aidan’s reappearance and lack of memory, plus all the strangers at the hospital and the cops and…and trying to carry on at work as though everything were normal.
“Maybe you should have taken a few days off, huh?” Aidan said gently.
“I hate taking time off,” Nassim confessed. “I like being in the office, with my…”
“Your hoard.” Aidan offered a smile. “It’s okay. I figured it out.”
“Most humans dislike the idea of belonging to me like that.”
“Then they’re idiots.” Aidan scoffed. “I guarantee you, if you said ‘hoard’ to any of those people working beyond that door”—he jerked his chin in what he thought was the direction of the entrance—”they’d be thrilled about it.”
“Do you really think so?”
“They kinda love you. Maybe a tiny bit scared,” Aidan amended, thinking of Rebecca’s reluctance to disturb Nassim. “Or maybe ‘in awe’ is a better description. But yeah, mostly? They’d do anything for you because they know you’d do the same.”
Jenn is the author of The Gryphon King’s Consort from Dreamspinner Press and the co-author of the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (with Kelly Jensen) from Carina Press. She’s also the author of Her Sexy Sentinel, a paranormal romance from Entangled Publishing.
She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.
Genre: Contemporary Genre: Fantasy Genre: Mystery Orientation: Bisexual Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Tag: Amnesia Tag: Guest Post Tag: Magic Tag: Part of a series Tag: PoC Tag: Shifter Tag: Slow Burn Golden Kingdom series Jenn Burke The Dragon CEO's Assistant