Authors: Denise A. Agnew
Daryk World, Book Three
Her fever for him has always burned high… Daryk One Aknada
Tyrus helped destroy Admiral Aramus’ slave trading ship, but now she must
resurrect her shattered life and discover if love can repair three years of
Aknada is a warrior, her unique ability to fight men on
equal footing a talent few women can boast. Three years ago she lost faith in
herself after surviving a horrible attack. Now she cannot abide a man’s touch,
even the tenderness of Marc Gampia, the man she’s craved forever. She returns
to Marc’s compound to restore her inner peace and hopefully turn her fears
His craving for her has never died… Marc hides his own
mangled heart. When he learns Aknada is alive, the fire in him burns hotter and
more fiercely than it did before. He will do anything to have her as his wife.
Desire forces her to reach for him, to discover his body one
touch at a time. One stroke and there is no going back.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Daryk Craving Copyright © 2011 Denise A. Agnew
Edited by Mary Moran
Cover art by Syneca
Electronic book publication February 2011
The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are registered trademarks of
Ellora’s Cave Publishing.
With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.® 1056 Home
Avenue, Akron OH 44310-3502.
Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be scanned, uploaded or
distributed via the Internet or any other means, electronic or print, without
the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright infringement, including
infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is
punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
(http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized electronic or print
editions and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of
copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The
characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
Denise A. Agnew
To my husband Terry…always.
To all the people who’ve ever felt different and alone. This
one is for you.
The Tarrian Jungle Near the Ithaycan Desert
Marc Gampia’s Compound
Marc Gambia was in bloody agony.
But not from any physical pain.
As he stood at the entrance of his compound, he studied the
woman walking through the market below. At least six feet tall, she walked as
if nothing could faze her. She wore a short-sleeved long tunic belted at the
waist. It couldn’t hide her full breasts or the wickedly sharp sword she also
wore in a scabbard on her belt.
Aknada Tyrus looked less than a warrior but more than the
average woman. Many men had shunned her in the past for her abilities as one of
the few female Daryk Ones. His admiration only grew. But he’d witnessed her
strength and courage. Right now he didn’t think of her muscles, her height or
her ability to fight several men at once.
No, he had other visions in his head.
His gaze fixated on her and his body responded with
lightning speed. He clenched his fists as his cock grew hard. Thank the god
Draconus for his long tunic. It managed to hide his erection, for the most
Thunder rumbled—a warning of what would come.
Above him, storm clouds gathered. Huge dark-as-sin clouds
threatened to unleash hells on the Tarrian jungle. Rain had pounded them for
days—they hadn’t seen monsoons like these in some time. People worried as
streams and rivers rain high and threatened floods and devastation. Situated on
a high point in the jungle near the Ithycan desert, Marc’s fortress compound
seemed invincible. It would shelter his people, hundreds of them, if it came to
it. He just hoped this unrelenting storm system would calm.
People had already started to gather their goods, to hurry
to their own shelters or cross over the drawbridge into the fortress grounds.
Thunder rumbled nearby, and he returned his attention to the woman.
Long, flowing white pants hid beautiful leg muscles, and
black boots protected her feet. Black hair, thick and curly, flowed in a wild
tumble just below her shoulders. If she would turn and look at him, he’d
remember how pretty her blue eyes would be, how they’d sparkle with amusement,
anger and love.
Not love for him. Love for her brother Rayder Tyrus and
Rayder’s wife Xandra Shorenus Tyrus. For the new friends she’d accumulated
since moving into Marc’s compound along with Rayder and Xandra.
Aknada even loved Marc’s dragon Arcos. Arcos lay in his own
building outside the compound, keeping watch over the area, and Aknada
frequently visited the tame dragon in the evenings.
Yes, Aknada loved a lot of things and people. Just not the
man who ached deep in his gut and—if he would admit it—his cock. His gaze
followed her as she stopped at a kiosk where a woman sold fine shawls and other
garments. Marc swallowed hard as his imagination leapt forward. Repressed
sexual need gnawed at his reserve. He wanted to stomp down the hill and take
her in his arms, kiss her until she moaned in passion. Drag her off to his
private chamber, strip her naked and feast on her until she begged him to sink
his cock deep into her sweetness.
He almost groaned.
Perhaps if he approached her, told her how he felt—
Not bloody likely. He knew it would not make a difference.
A week had passed since Rayder, Xandra, Aknada and Marc had
participated in a raid on Admiral Aramus’ ship the
dozens of Magonian women from slavery. Rayder and Xandra had moved to the
compound on Marc’s insistence. Rayder had thought it wise because Xandra was
now with child and they wanted somewhere relatively safe from the strife still
running rampant in the country.
Not much chance of that. Eryk Gauth, a Daryk One who hailed
from the harsh glacier region of Imekland had called for Rayder’s assistance.
Eryk needed to rescue the woman he loved from Bardannia Castle, which had been
attacked by neighboring Leadios Castle. Rayder had left with a contingent of
fifty men and other Daryk Ones, including Dane Charger, the ruler of Grimnald
Leaving a disgruntled Marc behind.
He rubbed his side and winced. He wasn’t entirely healed
yet. Unlike a Daryk One, he was a mere man who wouldn’t recover fully in only
one or two days from a sword wound. Marc sometimes envied what Daryk Ones could
do. After all, they protected the Dragonian population against dragons, rogues
and slavers determined to bring the country into war with the other
supercontinent of Magonia.
Magonia believed in a pious, godly life. A desolate, hot
mining continent, Magonia was harsh on its women and believed they should be
kept under a man’s command. They prayed to one god—Magon. To them, the only
true god. Dragonians prayed to Draconus, but there were other deities, other
ways of worshipping. Marc didn’t give a shite about gods—he didn’t pray to a
one. Life was here and now, and when it needed fixing, he’d do what it took to
solve the problem. Looking to a god for help never figured in his thoughts.
Like all good Dragonians, he knew how to curse and took Draconus’ name in vain
all the time. It didn’t mean a damn thing.
Right now he couldn’t think of one god who would hold a
candle to the woman Marc gazed at longingly. She was a blood phenomena. A
female Daryk One. Strong. Capable of killing dragons. Protecting most men. Yet
Marc had longed for her for years. Grieved for her for the three years he
believed her murdered by Admiral Aramus.
He admired Aknada with everything inside him and craved her
like a drug.
She, on the other hand, seemed to hate him.
Despite the fact Marc knew Aknada had some feelings for him,
Aknada’s scars ran so deep no man could reach her.
Marc rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. He’d be damned
to the seven levels of the hells if he didn’t find some way to forget wanting
her. But if he could never have her, he’d have to find a way to forget this
* * * * *
Aknada winced as lightning flashed over the compound. She
glanced apprehensively at the clouds gathering over the large stone structure
situated on a hill not far from where it gave way to the beautiful cream, black
and white Ithaycan desert. People already crossed over the drawbridge into the
castlelike structure, leaving the market below with quick steps, eager to
escape the approaching storm.
As she looked at the imposing compound that had become her
new home, she noted a figure staring at her from the drawbridge. No matter what
she did, he always lurked around the corners and appeared when she least
expected. She couldn’t ignore Marc Gampia, though she’d been trying to all week.
But how could she disregard the striking figure he made
commanding everything around him?
His tall, broad-shouldered frame showed his strength. He
wasn’t a Daryk One, but he stood taller than her. A wild rush coiled low in her
stomach as she dared peruse him. She felt feathery light, sweetly uncoiled at
the sight of him—a sensation she’d never experienced in the presence of another
Anger raced through her. Then longing. Then incredible
craving to know him in a deeper sense. It didn’t matter that she’d known him
since she was a child. She had to experience more, find the essence of what
made Marc who he was. It seemed imperative and painfully urgent. She didn’t
know why, but it was always this way with him. It terrified her. She’d seen how
her brother looked at his wife, as if she moved the planet and the heavens, and
how Xandra gazed at Rayder with a worshipful love. Undoubtedly Rayder had found
his mate. Aknada didn’t know if she could experience what her brother had with
Marc’s gaze cut to Aknada, and when he saw her gazing
intently at him, his mouth curved and he waved. Involuntarily she waved back
then scowled that she’d given him that much attention. Damn his hide. But she
couldn’t tear her gaze away just yet. Since Aramus’ ship had been destroyed and
sunk in the bay, Marc had changed his appearance in subtle ways.
He’d cut his waist-length hair until it lay just below his
shoulders. Instead of hanging straight it now waved in a glorious silvery blond
tangle. Few men would have looked masculine with such hair, but harsh features,
his dark brown brows, the slash of his mouth…well, no woman could fail to
appreciate his attributes if she had a single living thought in her mind. Marc
wasn’t pretty—though Rayder had often teased Marc that he dressed like a dragon
in heat. Colorful. Marc was a ruler, a slaver if she took his occupation most
literally. He wore red tunics over buff or black trousers. Today he wore an
unusually tame dark brown tunic with tan trousers stuffed into boots that came
to his knees. He didn’t wear armor, but a huge dagger was stuffed into a sheath
at his waist. He wore knives far more often than swords, though he’d been
talented enough with a sword when they’d raided Aramus’ filthy slave ship. She
wanted to reach out and feel the texture of that thick hair, wrap the strands
around her fingers. Wanted to— What?
Thunder rolled again and rain splattered the ground in huge
She was reminded of another rainy day when Aramus’ men had
dragged her kicking and screaming from the
’s slave hold. Her
stomach jumped in revulsion at the thought of those conditions. She’d endured
the same for weeks before she’d been sold to Pian, a man who saved others from
a life of slavery.
“You all right, Aknada?” Tamina, the pretty woman selling
shawls in the booth next to her was quickly gathering her wares.
Tamina smiled. “I saw you looking at the master.”
Aknada snorted softly. “Master? I cannot believe you all
call him that. Why do you insist on acting as his slave?”
The young blonde shrugged and her long braid swung back and
forth. She couldn’t be more than sixteen. “Well, that is what we are, isn’t it?
He bought us, therefore we are his to do what he wishes with us.”
“Has he made any unwelcome gestures toward you?”
The girl looked flabbergasted. “Oh no, Aknada. Nothing
untoward. He’s treated me like a sister ever since he bought me from my
previous master.” The girl swallowed hard. “He’s…the man I was with before, he
bought me from another man and so on. I’ve been bought and sold six times.”
Aknada’s mouth fell open. “How awful. Did the men demand
favors from you?”
The younger woman shrugged. “Two had relations with me.”
Aknada winced, repulsion rolling through her body. “Raped
Tamina’s eyes held no pain, and that surprised Aknada. She
knew only too well the type of pain the girl had endured.
The blonde shrugged again. “The other men wanted servicing.
I just sucked their cocks.”
Aknada shuddered. Even thinking about servicing a man in any
way made her blood run cold. Then she thought of the master, the man on the
hill. She glanced toward the drawbridge. Marc still stood there, watching.
“Has the master ever asked you to service him?” Aknada
wanted to know, watching the younger woman’s eyes grew wider as she glanced
from Aknada to Marc.
“No. Never. As I said, he treats me like a sister. I’m very
grateful. He said I could go if I pleased, but now that I’ve been here three
months, I cannot imagine leaving. I’m safe here.”
Aknada tried to reconcile the picture of Marc as a benevolent
master. He wasn’t a taskmaster. She’d never known him to be. But he also wasn’t
a gentle beast. She’d seen him punish men harshly for roguish behavior,
especially when it came to women. A man would never harm a woman on Marc’s
Thunder rolled in the heavens, and Aknada snapped out of her
thoughts and assisted the young woman in closing her kiosk and gathering the
valuable shawls. Most of the other vendors had already run toward their
shelters nearby or to the compound’s inner courtyard where they’d find shelter.
Marc remained on the bridge, hands on his belt.
Tamina ran ahead of Aknada, and just before the young woman
made it halfway up the wide bridge, the girl slipped. She teetered, lost her
balance and plunged to the left.
Time slowed for Aknada. She dropped her garments and reached
out. Tamina slammed into the wood railing, it cracked, and with a cry, the girl
hurled off the bridge.
“No!” Aknada’s hand missed Tamina by inches.
Aknada heard a shout and before she could think, she saw
Marc diving over the edge and plunging into the murky waters.
“Marc,” Aknada whispered. “Damn him.”
Didn’t he realize he was hurt? It hadn’t been that long
since a blade had lashed across his vulnerable flesh. Remembered fear gripped
her throat as she flashed back to Aramus’ ship and the struggle Marc and Aknada
had experienced to free the slaves. She remembered seeing the blade cut across
Marc’s ribs. The moat waters weren’t clean. By the god, his wound would
Aknada rushed to the edge of the drawbridge. Rain lashed at
her clothing and soaked her hair. Lightning flashed across the sky in a
blue-white streak of anger.
Tamina’s head bobbed above the surface and a moment later so
did Marc’s. Marc held Tamina up, his arm anchored so that he could swim toward
shore. He was using his left arm—at least he’d taken that precaution.
Aknada ran back down the drawbridge and to the right,
hitting the shoreline with its tangle of vines. She struggled through them just
as Marc drew Tamina onto the bank. Both sputtered and coughed. Tamina lay on
her back and gasped for air. Aknada slid down on a muddy patch to reach them
then came to a stop next to Tamina.
“Tamina.” Aknada caught her breath. “Are you all right?”
Tamina smiled. “Very fine, thanks to the master.”
Marc coughed violently and grabbed his injured side. “Bugger
all, that hurt.”
Anger prickled inside Aknada. “You… You—” She turned the
full force of her glare on him. “You could have been killed.”