Squeeee! I just received another beautiful cover from Maiarcita at maiarcita.deviantart.com/
Photography by Marcus Ranum at http://www.ranum.com.
Below is an unedited scene from my upcoming YA fantasy romance, Dragon Storm.
Safina had only meant to teach them a lesson. A means to cease their endless torment. Squealing, bullying brats. Their taunts of “witchy girl” made her blood boil, and how her heart ached when they refused to include her in their games.
She only wanted to prove she was a dragon, not a witch.
And now she and Mother were fleeing for their lives.
She was not used to running this way on human legs. Why couldn’t they break into dragon form and escape into the heavens? If Mother would let her, she knew she could soar higher this time.
Run, Safina! They will kill us both!
Mother’s high-pitched cry reverberated through Safina’s brain. But keeping pace with the dragon queen’s long human legs was difficult work. Mother tightened her grip on Safina’s hand, relentlessly pulling her through brush and thickets. Branches ripped open Safina’s human flesh, leaving gaping wounds on her face and arms.
If Mother would let Safina transform, her thick scales would shield her from the onslaught of branches. Nay, they would burn the trees down and clear an easy escape path.
The forest was damp, newly sodden with a heavy summer rain. Sticky dew clung to her skin, soaking her gown which stuck to her legs as she fought to keep stride with her mother.
The men’s voices grew ever louder.
Why couldn’t they fly?
Despite the moonless night, as black as pitch, Safina’s immortal eyes could see the dense forest was thinning, breaking. They were nearing the shoreline.
When we reach the clearing, you must break free with all your might and fly to the heavens!
Although Mother spoke to her in thought, she did not need to look into Mother’s eyes to read her fear. Panic jumped from the dragon queen’s skin and electrified the air.
But Mother! Safina swallowed back a lump of bile. Never had she been so frightened.
Fear pumped wildly through her chest, threatening to crush her lungs as she struggled for breath. Would Mother stay and fight the mob or would she flee with her? Where would she go without her mother? She could not survive on her own.
At once the trees gave way. The violent sound of waves crashing to the shore thrummed beneath them.
As one they jumped over the precipice of the rocky cliff, hand in hand.
Then wing tip to wing tip. Within a blink, they’d transformed. Mother and daughter dragon ─ their glistening amber scales blackened to coal under the starless night sky.
Ominous clouds threatened from overhead. Murderous horsemen threatened from below.
Pushing with all her might, Safina strained her wings to put more air beneath her. She and her mother rose high above the onslaught of arrows. Then higher still. In seamless silence the pair traveled.
For the first time in many moons, Safina felt free.
She roared her delight.
How long since Mother had let her fly so high? Why had she been tethered so long? Why should they pretend to be mortals when they could just soar to the heavens?
A brilliant flash lit the sky, filling the air with a thunderous clap.
Safina staggered, tumbled. The force and weight of the thunderbolt threw her off guard.
Above her, she could feel her mother’s panic but had no time to register her own. She spiraled several times, trying to catch the air with her wings.
Her body slammed. She heard a crack, wondering if her skull had broken. She shook her dizzy head and looked down to see she was riding astride her mother.
You are too heavy. Break to human form.
Safina obeyed. Again she was a mortal girl. She felt the tension give way beneath her mother’s scales. She and her mother soared higher, above the din of the storm, up to where Safina could see the stars and the full moon in all their brilliance.
Moonlight lit her mother’s scales in myriad hues of fire.
Safina was envious. She wanted to be a dragon, not ride astride one. She struggled to stand so she could jump from her mother and fly. Only when she leaned her weight on one side did she register the pain. It shot up her arm like a rush of venom. She squeezed her eyes shut and cried out.
Her mother roared.
Safina’s heart twisted and ached. She knew Mother shared her pain, too. ‘Twas part of their connection.
Silent tears streamed down her face. Not tears of pain in the mortal sense, but tears of regret.
Safina had so longed to fly.
Resigning herself to sit between the crook of Mother’s powerful wings, she cradled her arm in silence, waiting for the tears to subside.
The cool night wind sent a shiver down her spine as the icy current from Mother’s flapping wings numbed her human flesh.
Safina did not balk.
Lifting her chin toward the heavens, she breathed in deeply, filling her lungs with a cold rush of air. How she relished the feel of freedom.
If only her life could be like this always.
Where will we go, Mother?
Even through her thoughts, Safina could hear Mother’s heavy sigh. She knew the dragon queen was angry. She had broken her mother’s trust this night and had almost cost them their lives.
Across the ocean. Mother answered flatly.
Far away from mortals? Safina hoped never again to see another human child.
We will never escape the mortal world. For now, we can only hope to escape these men.
Safina swallowed hard as she recalled the murderous looks in the villagers’ eyes. Some carried torches and clubs. Others were armed with arrows and swords. Why were mortals cruel and indifferent to dragons? Their race had never sought to harm humankind. Perhaps Mother would find a new village without hateful children and a murderous mob.
Perhaps we will find humans who like dragons.
The dragon queen’s pitch turned shrill, urgent. Humans and dragons can never be friends. Her tone softened, saddened. Mortals will never like what they fear.