To Cameron, Halloween is the best time of the year, from the candy and decorations to dressing up and scaring visitors in a haunted maze. When an investor is about to end Halloween Fest forever by buying the farm that hosts it, Cameron will fight to the end. He's not sure why someone who's never seen a horror movie in his life wants to be his ally-and-a-whole-lot-more, but he's not going to turn down a hot, dedicated guy like Parker, even if they have nothing in common.
Parker loves nothing more than his job.
Dragon shifter Parker Blackburn doesn't have time to spend his evening in a haunted maze with his friends. There's a district of shifters depending on him to find a solution to their problems and arguments, and Parker is wholly dedicated to his job. But when he meets his fated mate -- still gorgeous even dressed as a zombie and trying to scare him -- Parker has to learn a new set of skills. How to talk to a massive horror movie geek who doesn't know anything about shifters, for one.
When Parker reveals the truth about himself, what little common ground Cameron thought they had is turned upside down. With Parker flying high and Cameron feeling low, they'll have to find their way back to each other in order to save the farm -- and maybe their relationship too.
Halloween Dragon is a m/m paranormal dragon shifter/human romance with a HEA and no cliffhangers. It is the second book in the Lewiston Dragons series, following Protector Dragon and followed by Wedding Dragon. All books can be read separately.
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Tropes: Fated Mates / Soul Mates
Word Count: 67000
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
Parker waited in the hallway of the haunted maze to see if any of others would go in front. Mitchell just smiled and gestured for him to keep going. Coward. “I don’t have time for movies. I’ve got meetings, and work, and—a dentist?”
“Well, of course you have to go to the dentist,” Mitchell said reasonably, “but that doesn’t take up all your—oh. You meant here.”
Parker nodded as he edged along the wall. Even the smell inside this room was like being at the dentist’s office, except his dentist didn’t wear a uniform covered in blood-splatters. The creepy dentist was bent over the head of a patient, who flailed around as blood poured out of his mouth.
He didn’t understand the rooms based on horror movies, but he understood why this room scared people.
His dragon felt insulted. We do not fear the dentist!
We are a little nervous, though.
Sure, shifters healed fast and Parker brushed his teeth twice a day, but that didn’t mean he liked having his dentist poke around his mouth.
The dentist sat up slowly, their drill raised, and turned to look at them. One of their eyes was white, a contact lens no doubt, but it looked unsettling. Now that the dentist was sitting up, Parker realized it was a woman. She pulled her face mask down, grinning at them. “Come for your appointment?”
“Please, help me!” the patient cried out, blood still pouring from his mouth. “Please, no!”
The dentist turned to put the drill back in the patient’s mouth, laughing as he went back to flailing.
“That one was very well done,” Joel said, when they were in another pitch-black hallway. “They had it last year as well, but it’s just so….” He shuddered.
“Is it from any movie in particular?” Parker walked over to the curtain that connected the hallway to the next room. His dragon urged him onwards.
We’ll be outside soon enough. He was done with narrow hallways and humans scaring him too.
“I don’t think so. I mean, there are horror movies about dentists, but I don’t know if that room is based on one of them.”
“Glad I don’t have another appointment for weeks,” Mitchell muttered.
The next room they entered had even more fake smoke, but he could see fake grass on the floor. He walked in further so his friends could enter as well, and he noticed there were six tombstones, all with mounds of dirt. He turned to the other three, raising his voice over the sound of the dentist’s drill. “It’s a graveyard!”
“It will be your graveyard soon!”
He started, and suddenly there was a zombie right in front of him, grinning wildly. “What?” He blinked, staring down at the man’s face. He was only a few inches shorter than Parker. His cheeks and forehead were covered in fake blood, and his dark hair was wild and tousled. Like the dentist, he was wearing white contact lenses, but unlike the dentist, Parker didn’t find the zombie unsettling at all.
If anything, he found him the opposite.
The zombie lunged for Joel instead, who laughed and stepped back behind Thomas. “We’ve dug these graves especially for you! Welcome to your final resting place!”
“I’m not tired!” Joel replied, even as the zombie hissed and came closer.
Parker turned to find a second zombie had been lurking in the corner next to the entrance. He’d been so focused on the male zombie that he hadn’t spotted her. She had a grisly-looking fake wound on her neck, was also wearing white contacts, and her blonde hair was teased and back-combed to look like a complete mess. She lunged for him as she snarled.
“I think that’s our cue to leave.” Mitchell was already ushering Thomas and Joel along as the two zombies growled at them, herding them over to the exit.
Parker kept looking at the male zombie, trying to figure out why he wanted to. When the zombie’s eyes met his again, he felt a jolt throughout his entire body. His heart was racing, but not for the same reason the other actors had sent adrenaline coursing through his veins.
Him! The rush of happiness from his dragon was overwhelming.
Parker knew exactly what it meant. What that man meant to him.
Our mate! Ours!
It was like all the joy of a good, long flight where he led the breeze carry him hitting him all at once. Thomas had tried to describe how meeting Joel for the first time all those months ago had made him feel, and hadn’t been able to put it into words. Now Parker understood why.
Claim him! Take him with us! Bring him back to our lair and don’t let him out!
Those were all excellent suggestions. He had to talk to his mate. He had to do more than talk to his mate. He wanted to touch him and hold him. Desire was building up inside of him, and the longer he stood here simply looking at his mate, the worse his need was getting. Parker let his eyes roam up and down his mate’s body. He had a slender, athletic build, and the holes in the rags he was wearing gave Parker tantalizing glimpses of smooth, bare skin. Smudges of fake blood were on his mate’s biceps and lower arms, and Parker wondered if fake blood was edible, because he wanted to lick it off of him.
Suddenly, a pair of strong arms grabbed him and dragged him through a pair of curtains and into the cool night air, and his mate was gone. He stood staring at the curtains for a second, wondering if he’d imagined the whole thing.
The roar of chainsaws behind him jerked him out of his thoughts.
Three tall, broad men dressed as lumberjacks waved chainsaws at him and his friends, yelling at them to leave. They had gruesome-looking wounds on their arms and blood splatters on their faces, and Parker didn’t take long to jog after his friends. Once they were about ten feet away from the exit, the lumberjacks went back to scare the next people coming out of the maze.
“They got you in the graveyard, didn’t they?” Thomas asked, grinning at Parker. “Come on, both those zombies got you. You were so frozen that Mitchell had to drag you out!”
“That one by the door definitely got me.” Mitchell was smiling as well. “You’d think we’d have noticed her! But with all the fake smoke it’s impossible to smell anyone in there.”
“Using your, ahem, special senses is cheating,” Joel told him firmly. “Not knowing where they’re going to jump out from is half the fun!”
“Well, it worked to get us out of that room,” Mitchell added.
“Yes, so we could run into some guys with chainsaws.” Thomas shook his head. “They’d better be very careful.”
“Oh, those chainsaws don’t actually work. They’ve removed the chains so they don’t do anything except make a lot of noise,” Joel explained.
“How do you know that?”
“I volunteered in the maze two years ago. Thought it might be fun, and they needed more zombies.”
While Thomas asked Joel why he’d never mentioned that before, Mitchell turned to Parker. “You’re very quiet.” He sounded worried, and Parker shouldn’t have been surprised his friend noticed something was up and asked about it.
“Just thinking,” Parker replied.
He’d met his fated mate.
He’d met his fated mate in a haunted house while his mate was dressed as a zombie.
“Thinking about what?” Mitchell continued. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” Any other time he would’ve appreciated Mitchell’s concern. As laid-back as Mitchell was, he was also very good at asking what was wrong just when Parker was wondering if he should talk about some issue with his friends. It was like Mitchell had a sixth sense for people simply thinking about asking for help. “It was a little overwhelming, didn’t you think? The smells and the sounds….” He trailed off, not wanting to explain that the most overwhelming thing had been his mate.
“Yes, especially the fake smoke.” Mitchell pulled a face. “As fun as that was, I am glad to be out of there. C’mon, let’s get something to drink.”
His friends wandered over to the smaller barn, and Parker followed even though his dragon was insisting they enter the maze again.
We wouldn’t be able to talk to him anyway.
Talking is overrated.
And sure, there were a couple of nooks in that maze that might be suitable for wrapping his mate in his arms and kissing him, but Parker was sure his mate wouldn’t appreciate him marching back into the maze to do just that. No, he’d have to wait for the maze to be done for the night, and see if he could find his mate again.
As he realized he’d have to spend the rest of the evening here, he thought of all the emails he still needed to answer and everything he needed to do in order to set up a shifting schedule. He didn’t have time to hang around here for no good reason.
Our mate is all the reason we need!
He couldn’t argue with that. No, council business would have to wait, and maybe he could get some things done on his phone.
It was pleasantly crowded in the smaller barn, with tables along the walls where people were selling homemade baked goods, drinks, and all kinds of sweets. The barn was decorated too, with more jack-o-lanterns along the sides and fairy lights wrapped around the roof beams. There were wooden chairs and tables around, along with some bales of hay to sit on.
Parker barely took any of it in, still thinking about his mate. He had no idea what he even looked like under the makeup. Were his eyes blue? Brown? Gray? Would he be able to recognize his mate again?
Of course! His dragon insisted, furious at the suggestion they couldn’t. We would recognize our mate anywhere!
His dragon would know, and he’d never heard of anyone meeting their fated mate and not recognizing them again.
Then again, he doubted a lot of shifters had met their mates under these circumstances….
“Parker? What do you want?”
“Hmm?” He turned to Mitchell. “Oh, um, a soda’s fine.” Thomas and Joel opted for cotton candy, and Mitchell got a slice of pumpkin pie.
“Not in a rush to go home, then?” Mitchell asked, watching Parker pay for his drink.
“No.” When that earned him a suspicious glance from Thomas and Mitchell, he shrugged in what he hoped was a casual way. “It’s a nice evening, and we haven’t really seen the rest of the Fest, have we?” How long would it be before that maze closed? Before his mate would be out here?
“It is,” Thomas agreed. “And you were right, Joel. The Maze was fun, especially when that clown scared you.”
“Oh, like it didn’t scare you!”
“What did you think of the Maze, Parker?” Mitchell asked.
“Way better than expected.” He took a sip from his drink. “They’ve put in a lot of effort.” He didn’t want to tell his friends he’d met his mate. Not yet. Not until he’d actually met his mate again and managed to talk to him. “Joel? What time does the Maze close?”
“Um, I think around eleven. Why? Do you want to go again?”
Yes! His dragon hissed. Yes, we should go back to our mate!
He was very tempted to say ‘yes’, but then what? He’d have to wait in line, go through all those rooms again just to spend a few seconds with his mate. They’d be in a room where they couldn’t have a decent conversation, and other people would be right behind them.
He could wait to see his mate again. He looked at his phone to check the time, and groaned.
Two and a half hours was an eternity.