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Dragon Storm: Dawn of the Dragon Queen
Dragon Storm: Dawn of the Dragon Queen
Dragon Storm: Dawn of the Dragon Queen
Электронная книга260 страниц3 часа

Dragon Storm: Dawn of the Dragon Queen

Автор Tara West

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A brave but troubled dragonslayer searching for peace, and a beautiful, but spirited dragonshifter seeking revenge. One grievous night of passion alters the course of their lives. Will five centuries of penance be enough to change their hearts, or will their love perish in the tempest of bitterness and betrayl?

Дата выпуска30 мар. 2016 г.
Dragon Storm: Dawn of the Dragon Queen
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Tara West

A former high school English teacher, I now work from home as a full-time novelist and graphic designer. I love dragons, handsome heroes, and chocolate. I'm willing to share my dragons and heroes. Keep your hands off my chocolate!

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    Предварительный просмотр книги

    Dragon Storm - Tara West

    Special thanks to...

    Thank you, Theo, God of Grammar, for fixing all of my boo boos.

    Curtis, Ginelle, Kelly, Sheri, and Suanne, I thank you immensely for your amazing beta skills!

    Renée Barratt, wow! Once again, you’ve delivered exactly what I needed to make this cover shine. Thank you! 

    Chapter One

    USING THE STARS AS his guide, Josef paddled out to sea. The laborious task was made easier by the steady current at his back, the elements obeying his command to push him toward deep waters. He slowed his rowing at the first signs the monster was near. Beneath the pale moonlight, the sea began to change. Fish migrated to the surface, splashing and jumping across his bow as they made their escape. Then the water began to bubble and swirl, tossing his small vessel from side to side until he was in danger of capsizing. The creature’s massive head appeared, followed by two teardrop-shaped, inky eyes. She rose up like a tower jutting from the sea, her tendrils fanning out around him.

    Josef swallowed as he arched back and looked up at Graechen. Though the giant had always been gentle, the sight of her still unnerved him.

    You are not abed, Josef, she spoke to him in thought. Do not tell me you bring bad tidings.

    He sat up on his knees, though his shins creaked and ached against the hard surface of the wooden seat. Why have you brought these dragons to my shore?

    The creature’s black eyes revealed no emotion. Because they need you, Josef, as much as you need them.

    Of that, Josef wasn’t so sure. Though he was grateful for the way the dragon queen had worked tirelessly to heal his grandson, Pedro, after he’d been mauled by a shark, Josef feared he owed her his soul. In return for his grandson’s life, Josef was supposed to sever the bond between the dragon and her mate. The severance of souls required dark magic. A dangerous magic. The dragoness knew this, yet she was willing to risk many lives to see it through.

    And then there was the matter of his other grandson, Gabriel, who’d eloped with the dragon queen’s only child. Josef feared the queen would make good on her promise of revenge. And then what? How could he protect his grandson from a dragon’s wrath?  

    He fixed Graechen with a pointed stare. Gabriel has run off with the girl.

    Graechen made several strange sounds, a mixture of the low groans of a whale and the squeals of playful dolphins. They have mated?

    He swallowed. I fear so.

    Then she is a girl no more.

    Though Josef knew his grandson loved the girl, he worried it would not be enough to appease her mother, the queen. Fiona promises retribution.

    Graechen made an odd gurgling noise that sounded like laughter. As well he should be punished for stealing away her daughter.

    Graechen, he cried. She will kill him. Josef would not be able to live with the guilt of failing to protect yet another loved one. 

    Graechen’s inky eyes narrowed. A dragon’s smoke does not always precede fire. She would have to kill Safina to get to Gabriel. Do you think the dragon queen would harm her child?

    Josef threw up his hands. Then she will separate them. Gabriel loves the girl.

    Gabriel was wise beyond his years, with a tender, caring heart for all of earth’s creatures, and Josef suspected the boy had inherited some of his papi’s elemental magic. For such a kind soul to wander the earth without his mate would be a fate worse than death.

    The monster’s head sank low in the water until her eyes were level with Josef’s. She may try to force Safina back into the shell, though I doubt the princess will listen. Where is the queen now?

    After the dragon queen had lamented the loss of her daughter, she’d fallen asleep in Josef’s parlor, and neither he nor his grandsons had had the courage to wake her.

    She is resting. Josef nodded to the distant shore behind him. Healing Pedro has drained her energy. For that, he was grateful.

    Her head sprang up, her pinched mouth turning up in what could have been a smile. Then now is the perfect time.

    Time for what?

    To sing a dragon lullaby.

    SAFINA AWOKE TO THE sun shining brightly on her face. Nestled in the crook of Gabriel’s arm, she sighed contentedly, reluctant to pull away. How odd, she thought, that after five centuries of always waking with her mother nearby, she would now spend each dawn with her mate. She wondered how many days they’d stay in Cuba, their new island home. She prayed Gabriel wouldn’t wish to explore the world soon, for leaving her mother had been terrifying enough.

    From far off came the sound of male voices, their boisterous conversation carried on the sea breeze. It was an unfamiliar language, possibly that of Gabriel’s family. She sat up, rubbing the grit from her eyes.

    She shook her mate’s shoulder. Gabriel, wake up.

    His eyes fluttered open, twin copper gems dazzling beneath the midday sun. He looked momentarily disoriented before his lips tilted in a slow, languid smile. "Good morning, mi amor. He placed a hand on her thrumming heart. Amazing. I can still feel you as if our bodies were one." 

    She grasped his hand and squeezed. I hear voices.

    He bolted upright, searching out the source of the sound. The voices grew louder.

    What are they saying? she asked.

    He held up a silencing palm, looking lost in thought. They are fishermen, arguing about the size of their catch. I don’t think they’ve seen us yet. He jumped to his feet with surprising ease, brushing sand off his hands before pulling her up. Come on, get dressed.

    Safina wiped off as best she could before slipping into her clothes. Her shift was easy, but the cumbersome skirt clung to her legs like a heavy sack. Removing the grit from between her toes was an impossible task. With a groan, she forced herself to tolerate sand in her socks.

    To add to her misery, her feet were unbearably hot in the lace-up boots, but she knew they would have to flee into the neighboring jungle, and the last thing she needed were thorns stuck in her soles. She tied her hair behind her nape as best she could and grabbed Gabriel’s hand, letting him lead her into the dense trees. She had no idea where they were heading, and she suspected he didn’t either, but it didn’t matter so long as they were together. 

    MUCH TO JOSEF’S SURPRISE, the dragon queen slept soundly while his grandsons loaded her into the back of the cart. It was even more surprising when she continued to sleep while Mrs. Jenkens followed them up the stairs, fussing and groaning because Fiona refused to wake, and there was a crowd of sick callers in her parlor. Josef had given Mrs. Jenkens strict orders not to disturb Fiona. He only hoped the old woman obeyed, for the longer the dragon queen slept, the farther Gabriel and Safina could distance themselves from her wrath.

    After Mrs. Jenkens had tucked Fiona in bed, Josef brooded over the sleeping queen. Even in sleep, her brow pinched together and her mouth was drawn. A wave of guilt washed over him, for he knew the mother missed her child. 

    Chapter Two

    DUNCAN SAT IN THE OBSERVATION deck of the train carriage, his hands shaking as he smoothed creases from the paper. He heaved a groan of relief as he scanned the headlines. No dragon sightings. He barely managed a few sips of tea before slumping in his seat. He checked his pocket watch, an unusual treasure he’d found last century in Germany. He hadn’t purchased the timepiece solely for the fine craftsmanship, though the watch had been ticking for over seven decades. He’d bought it for the detailed artistry: a fire-breathing dragon inlaid in bronze, its long, barbed tail circling the circumference of the case. 

    They’d be in Richmond soon. His journey was almost half over, and he still had yet to think of a plan. Would he check into a hotel first and make himself presentable, or would he rush to his mate and child, falling to his knees and begging for their forgiveness?

    He thought about the trinkets and treasures he’d brought with him: a diamond ring with a huge ruby center for Fiona, a porcelain doll for Safina, silk purses, ribbons, and other things he’d collected over the years. 

    He’d packed them in haste, not knowing if they’d accept his apology, much less his gifts. For no amount of contrition could bring back Fiona’s mother. And none of those material things would prove he’d never stopped loving them.

    SAFINA WAS AWESTRUCK as she stepped inside the beautiful structure. Though the walls still stood, there were gaping holes and cracks, each side overgrown with ivy and various plants, as if the jungle had taken root in the home. Some of the bricks appeared to have been burned, a stark contrast to the green foliage that carpeted the floors. The house had no top, though the canopy of overhanging trees gave it plenty of shade. Safina imagined it a fairy palace; its natural beauty seemed the perfect setting for magic.

    Where are we? she asked as she spun a slow circle.

    Gabriel fisted his hands on his hips and gazed up at the overhanging branches. I’m not sure. Looks like an abandoned plantation home.

    A plantation home? Safina had never heard of such a place.

    A large farmhouse, Gabriel answered. Be careful. He grabbed her elbow as she was about to ascend the stairs. The structure may not be stable. I think we should go."

    She shrugged off his grip, her brow furrowing. I think we should stay.

    Gabriel scowled. Safina, the walls could cave any moment. This place has had extensive fire damage.

    Safina was struck with an idea. She sat on the floor and hastily removed her boots before standing and slipping out of her dress.

    His jaw dropped. What are you doing?

    Fire can heal, too, Gabriel. She winked before removing her top and shift. You may want to step outside.

    A look of understanding crossed his features before he scooped up her clothes and rushed through the open door.

    She shifted into dragon form, her long neck towering above the open ceiling. The canopy of trees was breathtaking, an endless sea of green so thick, she could imagine herself running across it in human form. Colorful birds squawked loudly as they flew from the trees, a rainbow of colors dotting the morning sky. She crouched, her eyes narrowing as she channeled her healing fires. She released her flame, starting with the ground and moving her way up the walls. It was hard to see if her magic was working through the smoke. She took a deep breath and again stoked her fires, ducking as she blew a torrent above her head. Her body tingled as sparks rained down on her. She shifted back into human form, fanning the smoke as she found her way through the open front door.

    Look! Gabriel pointed at the house.

    She spun around, amazed at the opulent mansion before her. It was every bit as beautiful as Charlotte Carter’s mansion back in Galveston, with pale bricks, ivory shutters, and a grand foyer with balconies on the second and third floors. 

    Oh, Gabriel! she squealed, pulling him back inside. Beams of light shone through the many large windows, illuminating the walls, still festooned with ivy, and the floor, which was carpeted with plush grass interspersed with flowers. Safina suspected the original home hadn’t had the foliage, but it gave the place an ethereal and warm feel. For the first time ever, Safina felt like she was home. 

    Now what do you think? she asked.

    Gabriel let out a low whistle. I think I’ve found paradise. He pulled her hand to his lips, his eyes twinkling. Thank you, Safi. 

    Her knees weakened as the light flickering in his eyes began to smolder and burn. She knew he was thinking of coupling again, and as a wave of heat pooled between her thighs, she wanted for nothing more than that he lay her down on the soft grass and make love to her.

    His mouth hitched up in a devilish grin. You need to guard your thoughts, mi amor. I can hear you.

    She turned up her chin. Maybe I wanted you to hear me.

    He chuckled and hoisted her in his arms. You’re going to wear me out before I’ve had a chance to break in my new legs.

    Safina frowned, biting her bottom lip. I’m sorry.

    I’m not, he growled before kneeling down and sinking into her embrace.

    SAFINA AWOKE TO A RUMBLING sound, followed by a gnawing pain in her gut. All this lovemaking had stoked her appetite, and she knew she’d need more nourishment than the flesh of coconuts. She sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, surprised to find Gabriel was not there.

    Gabriel? she called but heard no reply.

    The light that spilled into the room was a soft pink. She slipped on her shift and padded across the cool grass to the window. The sun was setting and still she did not see Gabriel, yet she knew he was near, for she sensed the pull of his soul. She ran up the spiral staircase, calling his name as she looked inside the many rooms.

    When she came upon the last room, she was amazed at the sight. A canopy of leaves covered the ceiling, and vines twisted down a four-poster bed. She was drawn to a large chest at the end of the bed, a rich mahogany piece inlaid with floral designs. Curiosity won over, and she knelt beside the chest, pulling on the hinges until it opened. She sucked in a gasp when she saw what was inside. Gowns in many bright shades with flowers stitched at the hems, jewels that sparkled like stardust. There was also a heavy silver brush and mirror. It was a chest fit for a princess, a gift, Safina knew without doubt, from the Almighty Mother herself. 

    She placed a hand across her heart, still feeling the tug of her mate nearby, and suspected he was out collecting more fruit. 

    She pulled the dresses out one at a time and laid them across the bed. One was warm coral with blue and yellow flowers, another was bright yellow with pink roses and green vines. The third was a white dressing gown with long tapered sleeves and a belt. Though the robe was simple, it was also of the softest silk, smoother than black moss as she rubbed it across her cheek.

    Safina thought of the heavy skirts she’d been forced to wear since waking up in the new world, and the allure of the comfortable gown was too tempting. She slipped her arms through it and cinched it at the waist. It might have been a little big for her small frame, but it felt so luxurious, she refused to take it off.

    She lay across the bed, looked up at her jungle canopy, and heaved a contented sigh. She had finally discovered a palace fit for a dragon royal, one where she and Gabriel could live and perhaps one day raise little hatchlings.

    But even as she contemplated a future of freedom with a kind and giving mate, the seeds of doubt and regret began to plant themselves in her mind. She and Gabriel could build a new life and start a family, but would it be enough? What if he missed his papi and his brothers? And what if she longed for her mother? Though it was only yesterday she had told the dragon queen she hated her, Safina knew deep in her heart she’d always love her mother, and she couldn’t imagine living an eternity without her.

    Chapter Three

    DR. CHARLES STRAW LEANED back in his chair and groaned. Nearly ten minutes had passed, and the whore still hadn’t aroused him. It wasn’t like him to take so long. Usually the entire act was over in less time than it took him to oil and comb his hair. But he had a lot on his mind this morning. Rumors had reached him that the redheaded charlatan had healed the addled McClendon boy. Impossible. The child’s brain was Swiss cheese. How could this be, and what elixir had the bitch used?

    I don’t think this is working. The whore impatiently huffed as she leaned back and wiped her mouth.

    You’re not trying hard enough. He looked her over with a sneer. She typically wore enough face paint to mask the dark circles under her eyes, but not today. Her dull brown hair was disheveled, and the front of her dress was stained. Plus, she smelled like stale, cheap wine. She’d probably come straight to his apartment after working all night in the whorehouse. He scowled, wondering if she’d had the courtesy to rinse out her mouth first.

    She shrugged. Maybe it’s you.

    Anger spiked his blood pressure, his pulse pounding along tightly knotted neck muscles. Finish what I paid you to do, he growled.

    She crossed her arms, pouting. You haven’t paid me yet.

    He crooked his finger at her and then pointed to his groin. And I won’t until I’m satisfied.

    Rolling her eyes, she spit into her hands and leaned over his flaccid member.


    The prostitute screeched and jumped to her feet as the front door shook with violet tremors.

    Straw! a deep, angry bellow resounded from outside. Open up.

    Who’s that? the whore hissed, wiping her hands on her skirt.

    Straw buttoned his pants and reached for the cane beside his chair. Shhh. He held a finger to his lips and slowly rose. Not another damn word.

    She jutted both hands on her hips.

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