Animus - Book cover


Ophelia Bell

Age Rating


An ancient temple. Seven explorers. And eight dragons to rule them all.

When Erika and her team of archaeologists break the seal on the temple they’ve been hunting, they unwittingly take the first step in a series of rituals designed to revive the long-sleeping denizens inside. Now, with every breath they take, they inhale air steeped in dragon magic—and perfumed with otherworldly, irresistible desire.

Erika wants nothing more than to prove she’s still in control. But when she sets her sights on the figure she is meant to awaken—a red dragon bound in the form of a beautiful man frozen in jade—her resolve is truly put to the test.

And that’s when the ambitious, pent-up expedition leader begins to think: Maybe losing control wouldn’t be so bad, after all…

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11 Chapters

Chapter One

Erika always got a little damp between the thighs when on the cusp of an archaeological find, but this wasn’t just any old pile of ancient bones she was about to uncover. Today her entire body thrummed with excitement. If her coordinates were right, this would be the find of the century.

The vine-covered rock wall in front of her was the final barrier. Her heart pounded in anticipation of what she hoped lay beneath. With passionate rips, she yanked the foliage away to display the elaborate, smooth carving of a dragon wound into the shape of a disc.

The image sent a thrill through her. Hot damn, we found it! The culmination of her hard years of graduate research rested in the darkness somewhere behind that slab of vine-covered rock. She and her team would be the first to set eyes on it.

In spite of her conviction that they’d finally reached the end of their quest, she glanced back to her geologist for confirmation, itching with impatience.

Eben’s eyes widened and he looked up from the handheld GPS unit. “I just sprung wood, baby,” he said, echoing her own thoughts. “Fuck yeah! This is it!”

Cheers erupted from the group behind them. They deserved to celebrate after enduring an exhausting trek through the remote reaches of the Sumatran jungle to get here, but the true celebration would have to wait just a little bit longer.

“Yeah, but it’s just a wall.” Erika swept her hands over the ridged face of the stone slab in front of her, ripping down more vines as she went. “How do we get inside, assuming there’s an inside to get to?”

Eben slunk up behind her, pressing his tall, muscular body against her back. His hands covered hers while they explored the rock face. The scent of his heady musk hit her nose, and then much lower regions, when she inhaled.

“Maybe extra hands are necessary,” he whispered in her ear. “Those old dwarves could be horny bastards, wanting their stones touched by everyone.”

“Dwarves … You’ve been watching too many movies. But I know someone’s a horny bastard,” she whispered, shifting her backside away from his obvious hard-on. He didn’t seem to notice, moving around her to inspect the wall more closely.

She let him take over their exploration of the hard surface before them. Eben had an uncanny ability to suss out the secrets of just about any mineral. He also had a particular skill at sinking his rock-hard shaft into her deeper crevices whenever the mood struck them. It was why she’d been so attracted to him during their undergrad years. Post-graduation, she’d kept him around because he was every bit as ambitious as she was to explore the deeper reaches of the world and all their secrets. It also didn’t hurt that the tall, irreverent blond was very easy on the eyes.

But their relationship had shifted since the start of this expedition. Her desire for Eben was rooted purely in necessity. He had always been more than happy to scratch her near-constant itch, but his remedy to her overactive libido was gradually growing less and less effective.

Erika’s drive to find this temple was ever-present during her waking hours, overtaking even that craving for sex. When she slept, it was a different story. The need to successfully complete an expedition and bring back proof she could rub in all her colleagues’ faces was just the surface of what pushed her on.

The source of her itch — the strange dreams she’d endured since she was a teen — had grown more detailed the deeper she dug into the existence of dragons. Now the dreams haunted her nightly with images of a beautiful, virile, red-haired man. One whose voice still echoed in her mind during daylight hours, who promised her the kind of partner she’d had yet to find among even the most adventurous of her fearless friends and acquaintances.

She’d once been convinced it would take an older man to truly satisfy her, but the closer she got to proving dragons existed, the more Erika wondered if what she needed wasn’t even a man at all.

“Here,” Eben said, pushing her fingertips into a cleft she hadn’t noticed. She grabbed onto the edge of the fissure and followed it down, pressing until she felt it give. She gasped when the entire face in front of them receded at least a foot and shifted aside with the rough grinding of stone on stone. More cheers sounded behind them as their team looked on.

“We’re inside!” she yelled, pulling away from Eben and raising her arms up in triumph.

Cool, dry air rushed out, carrying with it a familiar, pungent aroma. Her skin prickled with gooseflesh at the memories that surfaced in response to that scent as much as from the sudden chill of the air.

She’d been dreaming of this place ever since her dad had hinted at a mythical dragon race, spinning bedtime stories that rivaled those her friends had heard from their parents when they were children. Her more sexual dreams didn’t begin until she was older, but they were no less tied to that seed of curiosity she’d cultivated since girlhood.

In retrospect, she believed her father had left his research notes out deliberately to entice her. She’d read them over multiple times from age ten onward, and had fantasized ever since about finding the elusive dragon temple her father had been searching for. All he’d had were small clues, one of which was the tiny jade carving of a dragon she wore around her neck. Another was a jade bottle, empty, yet still holding the lingering, spicy scent of whatever substance it had once contained.

Her father had died wondering, and Erika had vowed that she would continue his search.

The dreams began around the time she graduated from high school, shortly after she lost her virginity and discovered the wondrous pleasure sex could bring. It was like her first real orgasm had flipped a switch in her mind, signaling that her deep subconscious was fair game for some mysterious, otherworldly dream creature to play in.

* * *

The dreams always began with the scent of spice, a distinctly male aroma that enveloped her before the images themselves solidified. He appeared then, leaning against a tree in a misty garden beside a brick path.

She thought it might be one of the paths that led between the buildings of the university where she’d tagged along with her father for work as a child, and then eventually attended herself after high school. But this man who greeted her looked nothing like any of the male students she’d ever encountered.

“I missed you, Erika,” he said, standing up and stalking toward her with that intense red stare of his. He wore a loose-fitting linen shirt and breeches that looked to be from another era. “When are you coming for me?”

She smirked and tilted her head. “As soon as you make me.”

He laughed and shook his head. “You are a wicked girl. I will make you come soon enough, but you know what I mean. I’m going out of my mind waiting for you. You and all those delicious orgasms I plan to give you once we’re together in the flesh.”

“My life is about more than sex, you know. I have a lot of work left before I can find you. Now that I know where you are, I need a team who I trust. I’m making a list, but I’m missing one more member. Once I find the last person, you bet your ass I’m coming.”

“Good,” he said, lifting his hand and cupping the back of her head. She tilted back to gaze up into his handsome face and those fathomless eyes that beheld her like two smoldering embers. Her core heated as his exotic scent grew thicker, the fog around her turning red as he bent and covered her mouth with his.

“Sweet Mother, I wish you were real,” he murmured as he laid Erika down on the damp grass, unbuttoning her shirt as they went and baring her breasts to the cool air.

He worshipped her nipples with his tongue and she savored the pleasure, ignoring that dull ache in her chest at his reminder that this was all just a dream. When he moved up to kiss her, she moaned into his mouth and gripped his shoulders, overcome with unexpected urgency.

She twisted beneath him, slinging one leg around his hip and flipping them both until she straddled his waist. Glaring down at him, she said, “You are~ real, and so am I. And I will fucking find you, I promise.”~

His gaze burned as he pulled desperately at her waistband. “What if this is just a dream? I want it to be real, but nothing real has ever felt this good, this … fundamental~. I’ve never wanted a woman as much as I want you. Never needed one.”~

Erika lifted her hips, shifting her legs enough for him to push her pants down so she could shuck them off. She kept her gaze fixed on his as she tore open his breeches and freed his cock, then wasted no time sinking down onto the gloriously thick, hard shaft.

“Oh, god, I need you, too. I’ve never needed a man before. They’re intimidated by me, only worth my time if they’re good for a fuck or willing to entertain my crazy research. You … sweet fucking Jesus, you’re everything I want.”

“Why, Erika?” he said, his fingertips sinking deep to her hips as he thrust up into her, the slick friction driving her wild and making that confounding ache in her chest turn to pure, molten fire.

“Because you are~ my research. You are a dragon. You are everything I’m working for. So you have to exist. You can’t be just a dream. Oh, god, please don’t be just a dream.”~

She threw back her head and cried out, her last plea to him repeated into the foggy ether surrounding them as she climaxed. His thrusts quickened and deepened, and a second later, he roared her name in just the way he always did in these dreams.

When she collapsed against him, clinging desperately to the last remnants of the dream, he whispered the same thing as always into her ear: “You are mine, sweet Erika. Come for me, even if it is only in my dreams.”

* * *

Would those dreams come true today? She had come for him as she’d promised, was about to cross the threshold with that same spicy fragrance brimming in her lungs with each breath. All she could think about as that aroma inundated her was how her dream lover smelled when his hot body was wrapped around her, his cock buried deep inside, and his low voice rumbling in her ear, “Mine.”

Erika shivered at the memory, her nipples hardening. At least she could pass the reaction off as a response to the temperature of the air inside the chamber and not her arousal at the memories those scents drew from her mind.

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