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The Unbearable Lightness of Dragons

Katie MacAlister

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Teaser chapter

  Praise for the Novels of Katie MacAlister

  Love in the Time of Dragons The First Novel of the Light Dragons

  “Ms. MacAlister has once again taken a crazy plot and fascinating characters and tossed them with a lot of fun and a dash of mystery to create a darned good reading adventure. Who would have thought dragons could be so sexy?! Katie MacAlister, that’s who. Hail to the powers of the creative author.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “An extraordinary paranormal romance. Ms. MacAlister has created a wonderful world of dragons, demons, and other assorted characters. . . . The dragon men are hot and their mates know just how to stand up to these aggressive alpha males. Love in the Time of Dragons is a funny, romantic, and sexy novel. Once I started to read it, I couldn’t put it down. Katie MacAlister has another winner on her hands!”

  —The Romance Readers Connection

  “Katie MacAlister’s books are funny to the core and this book doesn’t disappoint in that regard. The world she’s created is rich and interesting, and her plots never fail to suck the reader in . . . clever.”


  “If I had to describe one consistent emotion I had throughout this entire book, it would be amusement. MacAlister has long held sway over my paranormal romance leanings because of her humorous they-don’t-take-themselves-seriously novels.”

  —Romance Reader at Heart

  “An amusing, lighthearted frolic held together by a female who has no memory of ever being a dragon in her past lives. Tully the terrific makes the tale fresh and exciting.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “An intense, twisted love story.”

  —The Romance Reader

  “There are plot twists and turns that kept me riveted . . . awesome story and a definite recommend from me.”

  —The Long and the Short of It

  Steamed A Steampunk Romance

  “MacAlister hits it out of the park with this highly entertaining steampunk fantasy. There’s danger, adventure, romance, and lots of humorous moments as Jack and Octavia discover that the laws of love always trump the laws of physics.”

  —Booklist (starred review)

  “Steamed is the first book of the Steampunk series and introduces readers to an interesting alternate reality. . . . A unique story, Steamed is both funny and captivating.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  “Steamed is at first blush an adventure, with the requisite hot, sweaty sex scenes. But MacAlister hasn’t skimped on the plot, characters, or world building. . . . Steamed is a fun book set in a world that has just begun to be explored and I wouldn’t mind seeing what happens next.”


  “An entertaining, wacky steampunk romantic fantasy filled with humor . . . fast-paced.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “If you like alternative reality stories, an imaginative mixture of Victorian-like society with everything steam powered, and the juxtaposition of a modern man from our world trying to fit in and win the woman, then you will like this book!”

  —The Romance Studio

  “Katie MacAlister . . . is charting new territory with her foray into a new perspective on steampunk.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “MacAlister’s past record for writing awesome romance will make her fans want to indulge in her latest book, Steamed.”


  Me and My Shadow A Novel of the Silver Dragons

  “Just like always, MacAlister delivers the fun, even in the drama. The characters are engaging, quick, and inhabit a universe that only a genius can imagine.”

  —Romance Reader at Heart

  “A fabulous urban fantasy. . . . Fans will enjoy visiting the chaotic, charming world of Ms. MacAlister, where the unbelievable becomes believable.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “This clever, hilarious, adventurous, and, at times, surprisingly poignant addition to the Silver Dragon series is sure to please MacAlister’s many fans.”


  Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang A Dark Ones Novel

  “Ms. MacAlister entertains readers with a captivating romance, supernatural politics, and her always present touch of humor.”

  —Darque Reviews

  “The story line is fast-paced, filled with humor and action as Katie MacAlister balances the two nicely.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Witty, with a splash of romance and a dark puzzle to unravel, Crouching Vampire, Hidden Fang is a surefire hit!”

  —Romance Junkies

  Holy Smokes An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel

  “[A] comedic, hot paranormal caper.”


  “A wonderfully amusing relationship drama . . . a laughout-loud tale.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Hysterical. . . . MacAlister hits the humor button dead-on. . . . This cast of wacky—if somewhat dangerous—characters makes for giggles galore, while also producing some hair-raising adventures. MacAlister has written a cure for the common blues!”

  —Romantic Times

  Also by Katie MacAlister

  Paranormal Romances



  A Dark Ones Novel


  A Novel of the Light Dragons

  STEAMED, A Steampunk Romance


  A Dark Ones Novel


  ME AND MY SHADOW, A Novel of the Silver Dragons

  UP IN SMOKE, A Novel of the Silver Dragons

  PLAYING WITH FIRE, A Novel of the Silver Dragons

  HOLY SMOKES, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel

  LIGHT MY FIRE, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel

  FIRE ME UP, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel

  YOU SLAY ME, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel



  Contemporary Romances






  Published by New American Library, a division of

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,

  Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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uin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,

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  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  First Printing, May 2011

  eISBN : 978-1-101-51490-0

  Copyright © Katie MacAlister, 2011 All rights reserved


  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.


  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  I have always loved the ladies who hang out with me on my message forum, but this book is dedicated to one member who went above and beyond the call of duty to make me giggle, squeal, and send her many text messages demanding to know if she was there yet—Vinette DiCarlo-Pérez. Thanks for everything, Vin!

  You’re the best.

  Chapter One


  Blinking at the sudden sound of a male voice, I turned to see who was speaking, at the same time taking in the noxious smells that wafted around me. I appeared to be in some sort of a dark, rough alleyway that lay between two rows of tall, narrow houses, the overhangs of which blocked out any streams of sunlight that might try to make it down to the ground. Not that there was any sun to be seen now, since it was nighttime, but I was willing to bet that even on the hottest day of the year, the alley would remain dank and unwelcoming.

  A crude wooden door next to me bore an almost illegible plaque informing unwary visitors that one Master Bertram would mix pigments for a small fee.

  “Painter’s shop,” I murmured to myself, my nose wrinkling at the smell. I was used to the scent of items commonly used to make paint—plants, ore, and such—but the odors that assailed me had their origins with humans and animals. I eyed an open barrel next to me that made my eyes burn. Urine, no doubt, collected for the purposes of making paint. “Just my luck—I haven’t had a vision for a month, and when I get one, it has a great big barrel of pee in it.”


  The woman’s voice called my attention back from where I was trying to avoid stepping in any of the refuse that clogged the close alley. Skirting the urine barrel, I took a few steps toward the dark figures that stood almost invisible in the deep shadows cast by the buildings, faint light from a couple of sputtering torches the only means of illumination.

  The distant sound of voices raised in song reached my ears as in front of me two figures approached each other.

  “Why have you summoned me to Rothenburg?” the man demanded to know in an arrogant, somehow familiar voice.

  I took a couple of steps closer until I could see the face of the speaker, dimly lit by a torch that leaned drunkenly from a nearby iron sconce.

  The woman’s form moved, blocking my view for a moment before she shifted to the side. “You ignored the warnings. You were told what would happen if you continued. Now you must pay.”

  I moved to the left, my eyes widening as I watched Constantine Norka, once a black dragon and heir to the wyvern of that sept, laugh first at the woman, then at the two men who emerged from the darkness behind him. “Do you think to frighten me? I am afraid of no dragon alive, and certainly not of you and your friends.”

  The woman’s jaw tightened. The two guys behind Constantine closed in, although they kept a respectable distance from him.

  “It will be our pleasure to teach you how wrong you’ve been,” she said with a wholly unpleasant smile. “You thought I did not mean what I said? Then you are foolish as well as wrong.”

  Constantine laughed again, shaking his head as if in dismay when the woman’s hands started moving in an intricate pattern that I knew would cast a harmful spell. “You are here to chastise me, I suppose? I’m not the one who is foolish, then. You have not heard that your precious Baltic is no longer in the sept of the black dragons?”

  What the hell? Was Constantine insane, or was I? Sometimes it was hard to know the truth, since my memory of the last five hundred years had been more or less wiped out. But some of that had returned since I’d found Baltic two months past, and I didn’t remember a thing about this little bombshell.

  The woman checked, a frown between her brows as she said quickly, “What nonsense is this?”

  “It is the truth.” Constantine leaned casually against a battered wooden door. “He was declared ouroboros at the command of the First Dragon for crimes committed against dragonkin. So not even you, who have Baltic in your pocket, can change the fact that I will be named wyvern.”

  The woman looked stunned for a few seconds, blinking rapidly as she digested this information. I knew exactly how she felt—if what Constantine said was true, when had it happened? And why on earth hadn’t Baltic or someone told me about it?

  “I do not believe you,” she said in a somewhat faltering voice. “Baltic would not . . . What crime did he commit?”

  Constantine shrugged. “It is of no matter to me whether you believe me. I do not discuss sept business with those outside the weyr, so if you wish to know more, you will need to ask your pet himself.” A little sneer crept over his face. “I’ve long said Baltic was a weakling; that he hides behind a woman’s skirts proves the fact that he is the basest of cowards, as well. How much did he pay you to threaten me?”

  Her hands fisted. “He did not send me, if that is what you mean. I came of my own accord, as a friend to Baltic, because I know well that you have done your best to usurp his rightful position.”

  Constantine snorted. “I am the heir to the wyvern of the black dragons, mage, not Baltic. He did his best to undermine that fact with Alexei, but it is I who am victorious, while he is no longer even recognized as a dragon.”

  Alexei? That name rang a bell in the dim recesses of my memory. He was the wyvern before Baltic. Which meant that the time this vision was presenting must also be before Baltic was wyvern—but that couldn’t be.

  The woman swore under her breath. “This is some trickery of yours, I am bound to believe. You said the dragon ancestor was involved. How did you manage that?”

  Her words came out with the velocity of bullets. I stepped back, not wanting to get within range of eye contact with her.

  “I am well-known to the First Dragon,” Constantine bragged with an easy smile. The two men behind him, evidently hearing the confidence in his voice, moved back as well. “But you are mistaken in thinking I had anything to do with Baltic’s fall from grace. He managed that himself.”

  The woman took a deep breath, her hands still fisted. “I will investigate your claims, dragon. If they prove as false
as you are, then your suffering at my hands will treble.”

  Something wasn’t right. How could I be having a vision of this time? I shook my head at the thought. I couldn’t. It just wasn’t possible.

  “Yet more threats. How I will live in fear,” Constantine answered with obvious amusement.

  “This doesn’t make any sense,” I said as I moved forward until I was next to him. “I wasn’t even born until Baltic had been wyvern for almost a hundred years. Constantine, what is happening?”

  The woman smiled again, and it was just as unpleasant as the previous time. “I look forward to proving to you that I am not to be taken lightly.”

  “Hello? Can anyone hear me?” I waved my hand in front of the woman’s face, but obviously neither she nor Constantine registered my presence, which made sense, seeing as I hadn’t been alive at this time. But why was I seeing this moment in the past? And who on earth was this woman that she felt comfortable speaking in such a threatening manner to a powerful dragon?

  “This conversation is putting me to sleep. If you are done with your empty threats, I will leave you to practice your vainglorious speeches.”