Home > The Dragon Finds Forever (Nocturne Falls #7)(4)

The Dragon Finds Forever (Nocturne Falls #7)(4)
Author: Kristen Painter

She glanced toward the road again, but the Ryde driver was long gone. Great. She pulled her jacket closer against the cold.

“Grom, sidet.” The deep, Russian-accented voice and the sound of the door opening brought her head around. Ivan the Hammer stood before her. He was a heavily muscled, stone-faced man with a shaved head, a few visible tattoos, and a bent nose. He had the same kind of thin-tempered look all the fighters did. Like he could strike at any moment, and you’d never see it coming.

It was unnerving and one of the many reasons she wanted nothing to do with that part of her father’s business. (Her father didn’t exactly like her being around men, which had something else to do with it.) Also, besides having tempers, most of these guys were rarely going to be the next Jeopardy! contestant.

She swallowed. If she could survive her father, she could get through this.

Ivan leaned on a single crutch. A large, black and brown dog sat at his side. Staring at her. Ivan’s right leg was encased thigh to calf in a steel brace. “Can I help you?”

For a second, her cover story went right out of her head. Then she managed to pull herself together. “I’m Lisa Devers. The organization sent me. I’m your rehabilitation therapist.”

He gave her a once-over. “I don’t need rehabilitation.”

His accent wasn’t as thick as she’d expected, but it was definitely present. “The TFL sends a therapist to work with all its injured fighters. It’s part of your contract.”

He shook his head. “My contract is done. Sorry for your trouble.” He started to shut the door.

“Wait. Don’t you want your final check?”

He hesitated. “I got last check.”

She hated to give her father credit, but this part of the story was all his doing. “If you complete the therapy sessions, they send you a bonus. It’s the same as whatever you earned on your last fight.”

His brows lifted slightly. “That is a large sum. How many sessions?”

She thought fast. “I won’t know until I can assess you.”

He stared at her. “Nyet. I don’t need the money.”

She thought faster. “Please. They’ll fire me if you send me away. And I really need this job.” More than he knew.

His eyes narrowed. It wasn’t a secret how capricious the League could be. “What was your name?”

“Lisa. Lisa Devers.” She stuck her hand out and put on a brave face. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Tsvetkov.”

He wrapped her hand in his big one. He was incredibly warm, but then, dragons were. All that fire inside. “Call me Van.”

“Van, then.” She nodded, not sure what else to say. “Does that mean you’re good with the therapy?”

He looked at her bag, not really giving her an answer. “You are staying here?”

She took that to mean the job was hers. She glanced down. “Oh, yes. It’s part of the therapy. With the morning sessions and evening sessions, it’s just easier. Plus, there are the daily assessments.” She was just making it up as she went along now, pulling from different parts of the books she’d looked through.

He frowned.

She persisted. “You do have a guest room, don’t you?”

“Da.” He backed up with some difficulty, the dog moving with him. “Follow me.”

Van had no interest in any kind of therapy, but he didn’t want to be responsible for this woman getting fired. The League was strict and full of rules. That much he knew.

As Lisa stepped into his house, he took her bag in his free hand.

“Oh, uh, thanks.” She smiled at him tentatively, like she hadn’t expected him to help.

“You’re welcome.” He wasn’t a Neanderthal. Chivalry wasn’t dead. But he didn’t smile back. He didn’t want her to think he was happy about the organization intruding like this.

He’d probably donate the money to the rescue Grom had come from. They could use it, and he didn’t need it. At all. He was a dragon. And dragons had hoards. But again, he didn’t want her to lose her job because of him. Whatever kind of supernatural she was, she obviously wasn’t the kind that was good with money if this job was that important.

She stepped toward him. “Thank you for not sending me away.”

He nodded and took a breath.

She smelled fresh and earthy, in a good way. Like the deepest forest after a rain. On her, it was a powerful, feminine scent. Like Mother Earth had just walked into his house. It was intoxicating.

But then, this was the closest he’d been to a woman who wasn’t Pandora in a long time.

He shook his head and leaned back, weight on his crutch. “This way.” He called to Grom. “Ko mne.”

The dog jumped up to follow.

Lisa was a little slower.

Van kept limping forward, putting more space between them. Space was good. Space would keep her from getting any ideas.

“Wow, you have a lot of books.”

He glanced back.

She was looking at the shelves that lined his living room. “Your house is amazing.”

He thought so too. He stopped at the stairs that led to the second floor. “Take the bedroom upstairs.” It was his, but he’d moved to the guest room on this level since his injury. Steps and crutches were pointless. The second guest room was his office and trophy room. So she either slept up there or took the couch.

“You can’t do the stairs right now, can you?” She reached for her bag.

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