Dragon Lover…

15 Jan

A GSP release from Author of the Week: Jeanne Guzman

Dragon Lover by Jeanne Guzman

 

For eighteen years Kimball Crossley trained for the day she’d come face-to-face with the demon who murdered her parents. Nothing could’ve prepared her for the dragon who would change her life forever.

Dmitri of the Langhier Clan is one of the elite Dragon Hunters. For eighteen years he’s stood against evil, believing he’ll forever be a warrior for his people. That is, until the night he’s confronted with his future.

With whispers of war in the air, can Kimball learn to trust what she’s always hated and accept her love for the Dragon Hunter? Dmitri’s skills as a hunter are superior, but can he accept that women, particularly his woman, can be as strong in mind and body as any well-trained hunter? Can they put aside their differences long enough to save both their worlds?

Excerpt:

Eighteen years—the same dream; Kimball Crossley couldn’t pull herself away from the child she’d been. She felt the familiar sting as burning sweat filled her eyes, but her child self refused to blink. With that one sensation, she was sucked in again.

Her opponent stood before her, exotic blood-red pupils elongated in concentration as the competition intensified. Today was the day Kimball Crossley would show the world she was fastest; her mind, strongest. Standing the required one foot from her adversary, Kimball raised her right hand above her head, palm facing down, her left, palm up, relaxed by her side.

“Concentrate, Kimball. Concentrate.” Her sister stepped up behind her, her gentle fingers massaging the muscles already growing tense. “The elders are watching. Win this one, and you’ll prove your worth to the clan.”

“I’m well aware they watch. They’re always watching, Angel. I’m not afraid of them.” Kimball never took her eyes from the one in front of her, never swayed in the scorching heat. “Step back, Angelica. It’s time to show these Dragons who owns this playground.”

No, she wasn’t afraid. Competing against the winged beings was second nature to her. She was, after all, part Dragon herself. The blood of her mother, an Anshar Dragon, ran through her veins, but she also had the blood of a Skua-Sparrow.

From the first child born out of the Dragon-human race, each Skua-Sparrow has been born with a bird-like mark. The identifying mark of their breed. Kimball was proud of her mark, and she brought that pride to the battlefield.

Kimball lifted her right hand a quarter of an inch higher. “Miss,” she sang the first word of the chant. “Ma—,” she drew the syllable out as her left hand dropped another half inch, “—ry,” Kimball lifted the right side of her mouth. The half smile showed her opponent she wasn’t afraid. With the next word of the chant, Kimball brought both hands into play. “Mack—Mack—Mack—All dressed in black—black—black.”

Kimball kept time with the words and the intricate movements of her hands until her challenger missed her mark and her fingers froze in mid-air. Once again Kimball was hailed the winner. Miss Mary Mack may seem like a child’s game to most, but Kimball knew it was a sign of great concentration of mind and skill of hand.

“It’s okay, Wynter.” Kimball hugged her classmate. “You’re getting better. You had me scared for a minute. We can have a rematch tomorrow, if you want.”

“I’m never going to be as good as you.” Wynter pouted, and her eyes brimmed with tears.

It hurt Kimball to see the pain in her friend’s eyes. “Don’t cry. We can practice after school, if you want.” She patted Wynter’s back and tickled her beneath her left wing until the young Dragon smiled.

“Okay, children, recess is over.” Mr. Rowe, the fledglings’ teacher, rang the bell in front of the schoolhouse, and all thirty-seven students began walking slowly toward the building.

“Come on, Wynter,” Kimball called to her best friend.

“Tag—you’re it.” Wynter laughed as she spread her burgundy wings and took flight toward the school.

“Not fair,” Kimball complained with a laugh, then linked arms with her sister as they and the others filed into the classroom.

Only one hour remained in the school day, but Kimball had a hard time concentrating on her lessons. She’d been told over and over about the evolution of the five Dragon races: how they grew from the scaled creatures of myth to their human counterpart, how the joining of a Dragon and human, thousands of years ago, created the First Skua-Sparrow. She knew her role in life as a descendent of the First—a role she couldn’t wait to begin.

Excitement pumped through her body. Today was a big day for her. Turning ten was a huge deal. No longer would she be considered a child in the eyes of her older classmates. Unlike conventional schools, the children who lived on the Reservation above the Mawlan caves advanced to the next level on their birthday. Tomorrow, Kimball would enter a new classroom with new responsibilities. At the age of ten, she would begin her training as a Skua-Sparrow. She’d become part of a long, honored tradition; something she’d been waiting for. Soon, she’d protect those who dwelled below and help keep their identity secret from the outside world. Her father not only tended the mass farmland on their property, he was also the head Skua-Sparrow for the territory. He would not only show her how to tend the land, he would show her the way to be the best Skua-Sparrow she could be. After all, he’d been guiding fledglings for a quarter of a century. He knew everything.

Kimball’s heart pounded in her chest and filled her body with adrenalin as she crossed the threshold of her adolescence. She was ready.

With her concentration focused completely on the ceremony that would take place at midnight, the child she’d been didn’t notice the stillness in the air. The dreamer did. The child didn’t comprehend the fear surrounding her. The dreamer knew the horror unfolding right outside the classroom window.

Angelica screamed, and the blood running hot in Kimball’s veins only moments before turned to ice. Flames ate away at the one-room schoolhouse. Strong hands pulled her toward the opening in the center of the floor. An Anshar Guard held Angelica in his arms as he prepared to take her into the safety of the tunnel under the schoolhouse, but Kimball fought the one restraining her.

“Little Bird. Don’t look. You don’t want to see.” It was Dmitri, the Langhier Hunter who held her, his voice pleading while he pulled her toward safety, away from the window.

Her rescuer was too late. She’d already seen. She’d cried out as she saw her parents.

A Waarheid Dragon stood above them, his wings stretched out behind him, a vision of snow white. Her mother, the most beautiful of all the Anshars, lay prone, her amber wings tucked around Kimball’s father. Even from the schoolroom, the child could see their eyes glazed over in death.

Blood pooled around them, soaking the parched earth, while the Waarheid searched the open pastures. She instinctively knew he sought her and her sister, knew he was one of the few who viewed their existence as an abomination to the Dragon race. Her parents had spoken of the danger and warned Kimball to watch over her sister should anything happen to them. Their union was seen as wrong by some, and their offspring were considered fair game for slaughter. She and Angelica were, after all, Transcendents. Born of two worlds. Their existence had caused their parents’ death.

Hot tears streamed forth, mourning her loss; her lungs constricted with her fear. The injustice spun in her head, making her dizzy. Her hand reached toward her parents, her fingers grasping for an unseen thread, a way to pull them to her.

Hatred burning in her heart, Kimball’s gaze was once again drawn toward the monster standing in the bloodied soil. The angelic face turned in her direction, and she could see the evil that lurked within his soul. He smiled, a sadistic twist of lips as he filled his lungs with oxygen. When he spewed forth deadly fire from his mouth, Kimball felt herself being lifted off the ground.

The Langhier Hunter tightened his arms around her, cradling her head to his chest as he whispered, “Don’t cry, Little Bird. I’ll make sure they can’t find you. I’ll make sure you’re safe.”

“I’ll never be safe.” The child cried, as the dreamer forced her way out—away.

Links:

http://www.gypsyshadow.com/JeanneGuzman.html#DLExc

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Lover-Hunters-Jeanne-Guzman-ebook/dp/B00684D88I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389759931&sr=8-1&keywords=dragon+lover+jeanne+guzman

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One Response to “Dragon Lover…”

  1. SheilaDeeth January 16, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    Very cool. I could get hooked on this.

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