Tag Archives: Jeanne Guzman

Child of the Dragon…

17 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. 

Child of the Dragon by Jeanne Guzman

Nichole Reid has spent the last ten years caring for her younger brother on a remote island off the eastern coast of Australia. As a storm rattles the foundation of her home, her destiny lands in her front yard.

Baltizar of the Waarheid clan escapes to protect his sister from persecution. Through stormy seas, he sees the light, in more ways than one, landing, literally on the front doorstep of the one destined to be his. He also finds assistance and the potential for love where there’d been only hatred and mistrust.

With the unexpected arrival of the Waarheids, Nichole learns tolerance for the clan who almost destroyed her life, patience for those who’ve hunted her kind, and love for a dragon she’d never thought to encounter.

When their serenity is threatened, Baltizar puts into motion a plan that will not only save the lives of his mate and her brother, but insure his sister’s life is spared as well. A plan that could end in his ultimate death.

Hearts are mended, love takes wing, and the future begins because of the whims of a child. The Child of the Dragon.

Excerpt:

 Chapter 1

Peace. The word seemed to have disappeared from Baltizar’s vocabulary the moment he learned his sister had been abducted. In the last few weeks he’d been through hell and back, traveling from his underground home in Austin to the ice capped peaks of southern Chile and landing back in the confinement of the Mawlan underground in North America. He’d fought the Voltura, the evil of the dragon race, to gain his sister’s freedom, only to relinquish it because of her crimes. He’d stood by as others decided her fate, judging the nine-year-old who’d murdered those who trusted her, even though she’d been forced to do so. Not only by her own grandfather, but by those left behind to care for her.

Genevieve was only a hatchling, but through no fault of her own, she’d taken the life of her own mother, countless humans and Skua-Sparrows, and had drained the Transcendent Angelica Crossley not once, but twice. Angelica survived—in fact, she was stronger than ever since the last draining crossed her genetics over from a Transcendent to a full-blooded dragon. Angelica didn’t blame Genevieve for her part of the transformation, and Baltizar couldn’t understand why the council of elders would punish his sister for the crimes laid at her feet.

“Get some rest, Baltizar. I’ll see you back here in the morning.” Angelica stood beside him, her amber eyes clouded with worry for the dragon child locked away. “Valwood will be there as well, as the leader of the Anshar Clan, and my grandfather. He’ll make sure Genevieve gets the help she needs. Don’t worry.”

Baltizar stood on the front steps of the judgment hall and watched as Angelica was led away by her mate. Preston of the Anshar didn’t bother hiding his resentment, and Baltizar couldn’t blame him. They’d been rivals for the last year, and even though Baltizar had backed away, Preston still didn’t trust him. With good reason. Not only had Genevieve drained Angelica, but Baltizar’s grandfather had murdered her parents. Their history wasn’t a good one, but Baltizar was trying to make up for all the wrong caused by his family.

Cursing the circumstances of the situation, Baltizar walked, head held high, away from the courtroom. Above him, the lights dimmed, simulating the setting of the earth’s sun. Dragons from all five races moved through the cobbled streets of the Mawlan underground. Some on their way home from their positions of employment; others out for the evening with their families, and still others loitering beside a building or behind a curtained window to catch a glimpse of the Waarheid leader and his fall from grace. Baltizar ignored them all as he stepped into the apartments allotted to those of the Waarheid clan, closing off the rest of the world.

All he wanted was to escape from the torment of his current life. He craved freedom from the pressures of being the head of his clan, the fear of his sister’s imminent incineration, and the drama of temporarily living under the constant scrutiny of the Mawlan community.

Community wouldn’t have been Baltizar’s choice of a word to describe the Mawlan collective living within the main underground in North Texas. The judgmental group made up of the five races of dragons was more a condemnatory society than a community. The Midgards, supposedly Keepers of Faith, held no faith in the possibility a child like Genevieve could be reformed. The Anshar Dragons, Keepers of Light, reserved their brilliance for those they deemed worthy of illumination. The Waarheid, Baltizar’s own clan, took pride in their role as Keepers of Truth, yet the elders were blinded by the lies told for generations. The two other dragon races, the Langhiers and Nagas—Keepers of Law and Knowledge—couldn’t see past their overinflated egos to see the true crimes against the humans belonged to another, not to Baltizar’s nine-year-old sister.

It was true, Genevieve was guilty of consumption, draining humans of their blood, but she’d been forced. First by their grandfather and then by his minion, Eoin. The two dragons had brainwashed Genevieve into believing she was the future queen of the dragons, the bringer of the Age of the Firedrake, but what they had accomplished was condemning a hatchling to bear the label of Voltura. A name reserved for the criminal elements of the dragon flocks.

Genevieve was as far removed from the definition of Voltura as one could get. She was everything pure and innocent, and yet the Council of Elders found her guilty.

Guilty. The verdict for her crimes. The Council of Elders were at this moment deliberating her sentence. Baltizar’s only hope was they would take into consideration Genevieve’s age and the fact that their grandfather, Goron, was the responsible party. Baltizar had once considered his grandfather the greatest dragon to walk the underground. Baltizar had been wrong, and now the older dragon wasn’t alive to answer for his list of crimes. The Langhier Hunter, Dmitri, had ended Goron’s reign of terror months ago. Yet the death of his body hadn’t stopped Baltizar’s grandfather from tormenting others; now he came to them in their dreams. His last victim, Genevieve, was still suffering from his deception. If the Council of Elders decides to show leniency, Genevieve’s recovery will be a long, painful process. Curing a hatchling of a blood addiction had never been attempted; it was unheard of until Genevieve, but Baltizar held on to the promise of hope. He wouldn’t allow his grandfather to win. Not this time. Not when the cost was Genevieve’s soul.

Goron’s stench spanned decades and touched too many lives to count. Baltizar and his sister were just two out of many. The responsibility of those lives destroyed by his grandfather now sat on Baltizar’s conscience, weighing him down and threatening to consume his soul.

Closing the door to his room, and to the whispers of those of the Mawlan community, Baltizar lay across the bed and closed his eyes, seeking oblivion. He’d wanted to hide what was left of his sanity within his dreams, but as he slipped into the gray mist of his inner vision, the spirits of those trapped in the netherworld wouldn’t let him be.

Baltizar stood in the center of a clouded void. Wisps of fog surrounded him, seeping into his pores and leaving him as cold as the stone walls of the underground. To his left, Xander, his father, materialized and stood with his arms and wings spread wide. Confused sorrow leaked red from his eyes and dripped from the white-blond feathers of his wings.

“Why, Baltizar? Why did you do this to me?” The sound of his voice echoed in the mist, a haunting vibration that seeped into Baltizar’s pores, incasing his heart in ice. A crimson river ran from the wound in his neck, the killing wound Baltizar had delivered less than a year before. “Hadn’t I been a good father to you? Were you not loved as a fledgling? What had I done so wrong that you would take my life?”

Another victim of Goron’s? No. Baltizar was solely to blame. Goron had been the voice encouraging Baltizar to take the life of his father, but Baltizar’s hand held the blade. There had been other ways to remove Xander from power, ways that didn’t include taking his life, but Baltizar chose the easy way out. Just as he’d done his entire life, just as his grandfather had taught him.

Baltizar covered his shame the only way he knew how. He turned his back on his father.

Instead of turning to peace, he was confronted by another spirit. Another life ended too soon. Deseray, Xander’s second wife and Baltizar’s stepmother. The one who gave birth to the child of his heart. Genevieve might have killed her in body, but it was Baltizar’s lack of emotional interest that killed her soul. She’d wanted them to be a family—the three of them—Deseray, Genevieve, and Baltizar, but he’d refused her. Perhaps if he’d agreed to join with her, she’d still be alive today.

“Genevieve deserves to die, Baltie.” Hatred ignited in Deseray’s eyes, turning the brilliant gold to red. “She’s been corrupted by your grandfather’s evil. There’s no turning back. You must destroy her before another life is destroyed.”

“How can you say that? She’s your child.” Fear strangled Baltizar’s lungs like a vice, shutting off his ability to breathe. “She loved you. What she did, she was forced to do.”

“Your grandfather may have introduced the poison to her blood, but Genevieve’s evil is her own.” With a flick of her wrist, the horror of her words replayed within the nightmare. Genevieve, crouched beside an animal, drinking greedily. Her hands, so small, so tender, grasped the creature’s neck and ripped its head from its body. Genevieve, standing over her mother, her fingers dripping blood while Deseray’s agonized scream rebounded among the trees. Her eyes missing from their sockets. Genevieve, her pouting lips stained crimson, kneeling beside the still body of Angelica Crossley, the half Skua-Sparrow, half dragon Transcendent who’d risked her life to save the one who’d drained her blood.

“Destroy her.” The words echoed around him, crashing into his soul like a hurricane, destroying his heart faster than a silver blade.

“No!” Baltizar covered his ears, refusing to listen to the truth ringing from Deseray’s lips.

From the mist, a hand reached out and touched his arm. Gently, like the brush of the wind. Its warmth spread through Baltizar, cleansing the stench of anxiety. He knew the face, her picture hung on the wall of his family’s home for decades. Annabel, his mother. A sad smile played across her lips as she led him away from his current torment and into the warmth of the sun.

“Ignore them.” She placed her arm in his, her face radiating the love she’d held for her only child. “Walk with me, Baltizar. Let me show you how life was back before the hunger destroyed a great man.”

The fog lifted and Baltizar found himself surrounded by the warmth of the Australian sun, and the radiance surrounding his mother. Her hair, the white blonde of the Waarheid Clan, hung down her back in thick waves, the ends blending with the soft feathers of her wings. Laugh-lines surrounded her golden eyes as she smiled, and her face glowed with the love she held for her son. Long, tapered fingers softly caressed Baltizar’s cheek before motioning toward the vision surrounding them. “See with your heart, Baltizar, and remember.”

The Skua-Sparrow community he recalled from his youth thrived. Dragons trained with their counterparts, the Skua-Sparrow tilled the land, and both worked side by side tending cattle. The scene resembled that of Whispering Hills, the North Texas based Skua-Sparrow congregation above the Mawlan community’s main underground location, but the beauty before him was the heart of the Australian compound.

“You see, this is how it was, how it will be again, but another will see to that.” Annabel moved closer to the central square of the compound, leading Baltizar farther into the past, but her last words lingered in his mind.

“Another will see to that.” The cryptic words confused him. He was the leader of their clan. Why would another rebuild what had been destroyed? Was he to die? Was his mother warning him?

“Your grandfather made the first mistake,” she continued, as her hand once again rested in the crook of his arm. “You see him there?” With a delicate nod of her chin, she motioned toward a small group gathered near a well.

Baltizar had always known where his looks had come from, had been told he was the spitting image of Goron, but seeing his grandfather at such a young age, there was no mistaking the resemblance. White blond hair and wings, angular face, golden brown eyes, all were the mark of the Waarheid; however Baltizar, just as his father and grandfather before him, carried an aura of angelic serenity that drew attention. Not that Baltizar thought of himself as beautiful, it was how others perceived him.

Links:

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

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Child-Dragon-Hunters-Jeanne-Guzman-ebook/dp/B00GOKZBFE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389968939&sr=8-1&keywords=the+child+of+the+dragon+jeanne+guzman

 

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

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

Author of the Week: Jeanne Guzman

13 Jan

Congratulations to GSP Author of the Week: Jeanne Guzman.

Jeanne Guzman, Author of Dragon Lover

Born and raised in Maryland, Jeanne Guzman got to Texas as fast as she could. Mother of 4, Mimi to 8, and Keeper of the Zoo, Jeanne and her husband/best friend enjoy life to its fullest. When they’re not traveling around Texas in their motor coach, you can find Jeanne sitting in her home office typing away at her computer.

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Read an Interview with Jeanne!

Congratulations to Jeanne for being in the 2011 Preditors and Editors top ten Romance Novel Category for Dragon Lover

Watch this space for Jeanne’s GSP releases this week.