The Dragon Within..

16 Jan

Another GSP release from Author of the Week: Jeanne Guzman. Jeanne has kindly offered a FREE SET OF HER BOOKS to one lucky winner. To enter for this draw please leave a comment below on this blog and the following blog post tomorrow. 

The Dragon Within by Jeanne Guzman

Angelica Crossley is trapped in a never-ending nightmare where she’s forced to relive two very important moments in her life: her parents’ deaths and her own kidnapping. Angelica’s only hope to rejoin the real world is Preston of the Anshar Dragons.

Stepping through the Flames of Prophesy, Preston enters Angelica’s nightmare to rescue her from her torment. In the process, he discovers the true reason for her forced slumber. He was meant to bear witness to the evil responsible for her captivity: a dragon from his past . . . a dragon he thought long dead . . . his father.

As Angelica recovers, Preston leaves her side, thinking the only way to give her peace of mind is to hunt down his father and send him into the flames.

Through doubts and mistrust, Angelica and Preston must mend the breach between them, solidify their bond, and learn to embrace the Dragon Within.
                                         

Excerpt:

 Chapter 1

Preston of the Anshar Dragons leaned against the doorjamb to his office, his complexion pale in the dim light of the moon. They were preparing for battle, that meant no lights. It was just as well. Angelica was exhausted from the six hour drive from her childhood home in Whispering Hills, just south of the Red River, to Austin and the home she and her sister made for themselves.

“We should be safe enough here. The Hunters have been called in and your grandfather’s sent a group of Guards to help just in case Goron shows up.” Preston pushed away and reached for the doorknob. “Try and get some sleep. I’ll be right outside if you need me.”

“You need the rest too, Preston.” Angelica didn’t want him to leave. She’d nearly lost him a week before, and now that she’d learned that they were destined to be mated, she didn’t want to be separated from him again.

“I’ll get some sleep when Johnny comes to relieve me. Tuck the kid in and close your eyes for a while. There’s no telling how long this peace will last. Take advantage of the quiet.” He closed the door between them. The barrier more than the two inches of pressboard. Preston was closing himself off as well.

After everything they’d shared—everything she’d learned of her past—and he still didn’t want her, preferring to stand outside the door rather than lay beside her. Angelica turned her back on the obvious rejection and stared blindly out of the row of windows that took up one wall of the office. The night sky formed a backdrop to the lights of downtown Austin; the laughter coming from the street a discordant soundtrack to the drama unfolding with every passing minute. Angelica closed her eyes and tried to see the dragon separated from her by a single wall. She needed to be near him, to feel the safety of his arms wrapped around her, but the distance he’d placed between them was too great.

Frustrated, Angelica collapsed on the couch in Preston’s office, wishing it was him lying beside her instead of the Waarheid child.

No, that wasn’t fair. Genevieve wasn’t responsible for the issues between Angelica and her mate. That lay on her own head. Why had she been so hard on him when he’d first revealed his true form?

“Do you think they’ll find him?” Genevieve climbed into Angelica’s lap and laid her head over Angelica’s heart.
The him was Genevieve’s brother, Baltizar. He’d gone missing and Angelica’s sister Kimball and her husband had gone to search for him. “Don’t worry about your brother, Vievie. Kimball will find him.” Angelica had to believe that. Baltizar was basically the only family Genevieve had left. Her father was dead, her mother lay in the hospital in the Mawlan underground, and her grandfather was out to kill everyone.

Baltizar better be alive. He’d gone off in search of his grandfather, Goron, two days ago and hadn’t reported in. The elder dragon was the very same who’d murdered Angelica’s parents over eighteen years before and she wouldn’t put it past the dragon to kill his own grandson.

“Let’s try and get some sleep. I’m sure that by the time we wake up, your brother will back and all this worrying will have been for nothing.” Angelica stretched out on the couch, her arms tightening protectively around the child left in her care. She wouldn’t have thought it possible, but her eyes closed and she was quickly running through her dreams.

As it had been with all her nightmares, the beginning appeared as a beautiful day beside the pond behind her family home. The sun reflected off the water that gently lapped along the shoreline. The sound soothing, calling her to step away from her cares and lie down in the tall, soft grass.

Angelica watched as a raven took flight, its wings lifting it higher as it neared the tree line separating the pond from the playground. It was a sign to follow, but Angelica was reluctant, knowing what she would find on the other side. Still, she moved forward, her body floating easily across the well traveled path leading to the schoolhouse she and her sister attended so long ago.

Like a scene out of Little House On The Prairie, the single room building stood alone with its wooden doors wide open. The one room structure housed the twenty-plus children comfortably, each with their own miniature desk and chair. It was a happy place, filled with laughter and learning, but there were some lessons Angelica wished she’d never learned.

A copper bell perched to one side of the door, ready to ring in the start of another day. Little did Angelica know at the time, that this particular day would be her last time to hear the metallic clanging.

The Skua-Sparrow who called the town of Whispering Hills home, had done their best to give the façade a cheery appearance, planting flowers, trees, and bushes along its sides. Brilliant sunlight kissed the petals of the roses climbing the front of the schoolhouse, their warm perfume exploded in the air, sickening in their sweetness.

Angelica followed the movement of a lone honey bee as it skipped from one bud to the other, collecting pollen, then buzzed along on its never-ending journey through life. A child squealed, terrified by the miniature winged creature that happened to pass by, then laughter filled the air as other children teased.

The setting was too beautiful to be a nightmare, and yet that’s exactly what it was.

She watched, absorbed, and waited. Angelica was dreaming; knew the images surrounding her were memories. Dragons, not the creatures from legend, but human in form save for the wings on their backs, the ridged spines on their backs, their cat-like eyes, and their ability to breathe fire. Skua-Sparrows, not the carefree birds that could adapt to any situation, but a cross-breed of human and dragon cultivated eons ago, stronger than humans, yet not as strong as the dragons. It was the Skua-Sparrow’s job to tend the land and livestock above ground while the dragons lived safely below. It was also their job to mask the existence of the Mawlan, the collective of dragon races that lived underground in cities all over the world.

Her memory had been erased eighteen years before, but with the re-introduction of the Mawlan world into her life, Angelica could now remember her teachings from so long ago. Teachings of what her purpose in life would be and those whom she was meant to protect. The Mawlan collective.

Angelica was neither dragon nor Skua-Sparrow, and yet she was both. Her mother was a dragon. The blood of the Anshar ran through Angelica’s veins, as did the blood of her father, a Skua-Sparrow.

She remembered her mother telling the story of how she’d met and fallen in love with the head of the Langhier Skua-Sparrows. When her father, Valwood, had traveled from their homeland in Southern Chile, Ivelise had begged to go with him. Their plan was to stay only a few months while her father, the leader of the Anshar clan, conversed with the council of elders. Ivelise had insisted that she collaborate with the head of the Skua-Sparrow, to learn his technique for raising superior cattle. Their personalities clashed at first. They fought from their very first meeting. Not because Ivelise didn’t agree with Thomas’ way of managing the land, but because he’d stolen her heart. Thomas had fought as well, to prove to Ivelise they belonged together. It was a union doomed from the beginning, but neither cared once they gave into their love for each other.

It was that love that created Angelica and her sister. They were known as Transcendents. Born from the union of two worlds. Her parents love had broken the rules set forth by the Waarheid. They believed in keeping the dragon blood pure, and that any offspring produced by such a union were considered abominations. It was a rule the Mawlan collective had abolished when petitioned by the Anshar, who claimed the mixing of blood only made for a stronger union. The Waarheid, however, refused to abide by the ruling, and it was for that reason Angelica’s parents were killed.

Actually, they’d been killed because Angelica’s mother believed in protecting the innocent. And in protecting the innocent, Ivelise had ended the life of a Voltura. The Voltura had been the wife of the Waarheid chieftain. Goron had avenged his wife, a life for a life, but hadn’t been satisfied. For years Angelica and Kimball were hidden, kept safe from Goron and those who served him. He’d wanted their lives as well and wouldn’t stop until they too were ash.

With a tear for what was lost, Angelica stepped to the edge of her nightmare, knowing where the day would end, but like the automatic response one has when driving past a car wreck, she couldn’t turn away.

She saw herself as a child pacing the outer perimeter of the playground. Her child-self paid attention not to her sister Kimball who’d been gearing up for the fight of her life, but the Langhier Hunters and Anshar Guards who milled around the schoolyard. Something was off. Angelica felt the tension in the air, knew her child-self had felt it as well. Even at the age of eight and three quarters, she’d recognized something was seriously wrong.

She remembered seeing the Hunters before, walking through the Whispering Hill compound, but never all thirteen at once. The Anshar Guards patrolled the area, but never side by side with the Hunters. Her uncle Magnus had been the leader of the Langhier Hunters, had in fact spent many nights visiting in her home. But no, Magnus wasn’t her uncle after all, only a demented dragon who’d turned on her family in the end.

Knowing what was about to happen, Angelica moved closer to her child-self, as if she could protect who she’d been from seeing the past unfold. Her two entities meshed, and Angelica was once again the little girl.

Her chest constricted with the presence of so many dragons. She wasn’t afraid of the Guards and Hunters themselves, only what their increased numbers represented. Danger was near, and Angelica tried to ignore the flutter of fear in her stomach. She concentrated on her sister—on the competition about to occur. On Kimball’s ascension taking place later that evening.

Today was Kimball’s birthday, she was no longer a child. Up until the age of ten, male or female, dragon or Skua-Sparrow, children were known as hatchlings. On the night of their tenth birthday, they ascended to what those in the dragon community called a fledgling. The dragons developed the ability to produce flames, the Skua-Sparrows developed their strength, both began training for their futures. Kimball was ready to begin her life as a protector. Following in their father’s footsteps had been Kimball’s dream for as long as she could remember, a dream shared by Angelica.

The ceremony where a child becomes a young adult had always been a joyous occasion, something everyone looked forward to. The entire compound would attend. There would be laughter, games of skill, music, and then Kimball’s hair would be cut to her shoulders, and she’d be presented with the cuirass of the trainee—a child no longer.

Angelica had helped her mother hand-embroider the turquoise Skua-Sparrow emblem on the front of Kimball’s cuirass. The wings stretched from the body of the sparrow to rest on each shoulder, continued on the straps that criss-crossed down the back, then wrapped around the waist to connect with the tail of the bird. Angelica couldn’t wait to see her sister’s face when she tried it on, and couldn’t wait for the day she too would receive her first cuirass.

Still, she couldn’t rid herself of the feeling of being watched.

She scanned the perimeter of the playground, past the single room schoolhouse, and into the trees separating Whispering Hills from the outside world. It was there. Evil. Lurking in the surrounding woods. The elders watched, not the playground, nor the schoolhouse, but the sky and the surrounding woods. Each held identical expressions of alertness on their faces.

Dmitri of the Langhier had positioned himself close to the schoolhouse door. His light blue eyes glowed as he seemed to focus completely on Kimball. He was tall for only being sixteen, an inch or two more than the Anshar Guard by his side.

Preston of the Anshar. Now there was a dragon that made Angelica’s heart pound in fear. He was always watching her, his golden eyes burned a warning every time she looked his way. Yes, she feared him, but she also felt safe whenever he was near.

Even as he stood shoulder to shoulder with the Langhier, watching with identical smirks on their faces, she still felt safe—a little annoyed they looked down their noses at Kimball’s display of skill—but safe.

Preston and Dmitri thought only in terms of war, but it took real skill to do what Kimball was about to do. Angelica glared once more at the bored look on Preston’s face, stepped from the shadows, head held high, and ignored the dragon while she approached her sister.

“Concentrate, Kimball. Concentrate.” Angelica reached up and began massaging the muscles in her sister’s shoulders. “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 announced without taking her eyes off her opponent. “Step back, Angelica. It’s time to show these people who owns this playground.”

Angelica glanced over her shoulder to see the smirk still resting on Preston’s face. She didn’t like the way Dmitri looked at Kimball, as if she were beneath him. She didn’t like the way his eyes stayed on her sister as if he were waiting for her to fail. She didn’t like the way he elbowed Preston, drawing his attention from the test of skill to focus on Angelica once again.

Links:

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

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Within-Hunters-ebook/dp/B009MHDYSW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389847777&sr=8-1&keywords=the+dragon+within+jeanne+guzman

Advertisements

5 Responses to “The Dragon Within..”

  1. Jeanne Guzman January 16, 2014 at 7:01 am #

    Thanks again, Anne for having me as author of the week!

    • annepetzer January 17, 2014 at 6:56 am #

      You are very welcome 🙂

  2. SheilaDeeth January 16, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    Intriguing blend of familiar and strange. I like it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: