Genre: post-apocalyptic paranormal/fantasy
Number of pages: 187
Word Count: 88K
Cover Artist: Susan Lute / Crazy Hair Publishing
From the Dragonkind Chronicles – the battle is just beginning…
In a post apocalyptic world where Darwin changelings emerge from hiding and humans struggle to reclaim their former glory, mercenary Logan Pen doesn’t want to save the world. His mission is to protect his greatest treasure – his family. That is until he tries to capture a shadow thief. Beyla, a beguiling, emotionless Umbra steals his telein – a talisman forged at his birth while escaping his grasp, making her by ancient dragon law his mate.
Her enemy – a fiery Naga – and the talisman she’s stolen from him rouse emotions Beyla has spent three long years in the land of shadows stripping away. Still she hasn’t been able to banish the grief and pain left by the murder of her human family.
Fighting a desire that flames out of their control, and scrambling to save humanity and their own kind, Logan and Beyla are forced to join forces to keep a weapon of incredible destructive power out of the hands of the man who would use it to conquer their world. With evil on the brink of victory, only through sacrifice do they learn to trust and embrace the love that will change them forever.
Susan Lute is first and foremost a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer, and author. She is traditionally and Indie published in contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and and paranormal/fantasy romance.
Her debut novel, Oops…We’re Married? has sold over 130,000 copies, was a Reader’s Choice nominee and Holt Medallion Finalist. Things you should know – she was born the oldest child of a military family; she’s traveled far, but has never been to Hawaii, Paris, or Crete, an omission she hopes to correct soon; her favorite places in the whole world are New York City, Sedona (Arizona), Ouray (Colorado), and Bath (England).
Currently she is working on the second novel in her Dragonkind Chronicles, and dreaming up a new urban fantasy.
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Logan Pen slipped out of the lusty crowd and into a bar that was only a decimal quieter. He’d been in New Orleans six hours and in the French Quarter half that time. Already he’d picked up a tail.
The dragon, tail circling his right thigh, sharp, piercing talons morphing into an undulating body of blue-green scales arching over his hip and ending on the flat of his stomach burned in warning. The fierce snout breathed powerful flames that could have been real, if not for the fact it was his birth mark.
A shadow, an indistinct inky blot edged stealthily around the crowd of partying humanity filling Bourbon Street, following him into the overcrowded bar. The dank stench of dark caves crept toward him. His pulse shot up. He’d never hunted an Umbra before. This would be his first capture.
Letting his lips twist into a rare smile, he found a seat in the darkest corner of the room. Game about to begin, he looked forward to his first skirmish with a shadow thief.
Around him glasses clinked. The acrid smell of cigarette smoke and unwashed bodies fought with one another. Raucous laughter competed with the Vid screen airing the first World Soccer match since twenty-twelve. Voices raised in debate over the new Global Union’s chance of survival roared at the first goal.
A girl with an obscene number of colorful bead necklaces covering her bare, ample breasts came to take his order. “What can I get for you, Duckie?”
“A Hurricane will do.”
Resting a shapely hip against the table, she winked at him. “That all you want?”
“Pity. If you change your mind, I’m Stacy.”
Logan allowed himself a slow perusal of her assets, all the while his dragon senses invading the shadows around him. “I’ll keep that in mind, Stacy.”
When she left to get his drink, a brief shimmer appeared to his right. A pure human would never see it.
He looked the other way. Come closer, thief.
Fire danced in his heart at the impending battle – which he would win, of course. His vision sharpened into crystal clarity. The stale smell of humans desperate to survive separated themselves from the Darwin changelings of which there were a few hanging on the fringes of the human crowd.
His dragon strained to break free of his human shell.
Faster than flame in dry tinder, he reached into the moving shadow, capturing a slender arm.
Surprised at what his dragon half was telling him, Logan watched the shadow take human form. This one smelled like female, clean, musky, dangerous. Not what he expected. From his forsaken dragon lessons, he remembered the Umbra were neither male nor female.
Hair a dark, fiery red, whispering feathers surround a face that seemed cut from ancient porcelain. Delicate brows drew together over emerald eyes spitting fury. Her slender body jerked away, rigid with disbelief.
“Let go of me, human.”
Did it matter that his prize was female? Logan studied her beautiful face. He would take what he could get. “I don’t think so.”
“Let. Me. Go.” And, when he didn’t comply, “Now.”
Did she know he was dragonkind?
Music throbbed loudly around them. In answer to her demand, he tugged sharply, sprawling her light weight across his lap. She was stronger than her fragile frame promised.
No one in the bar noticed when he flipped her so she sat nose to nose with him, her delicate wrists manacled behind her back. All was fair in war. This wasn’t the real thing, but close enough.
Firm breasts arched against his chest reminding him just how long it’d been since he’d enjoyed the company of a woman. As he went hard, the Umbra’s fathomless eyes widened in sudden awareness.
Too bad this wasn’t the right moment to act upon the flash of pulsing desire. Getting intimate with a species still hidden in the murky mists of mythology, and who was his kind’s sworn enemy, wasn’t in the cards. Not today, anyway.
She fought his iron grip, the fierceness of her attempt to escape barely disguising panic. The heat of a rising flame engulfed them before he quelled his dragon.
Not a monster, Logan eased his hold, commanding in a soft growl that had its origins in the passions of his dragon half. “Be still.”
Abruptly giving up the fight, the shadow woman leaned into him, pressed her lips to his, and just as his startled senses were about to give way to his dragon shouting, yeah baby!, she bit down hard on his bottom lip, momentarily breaking the lock he had on her wrists.
She leaped off his lap. He lunged after her, but found nothing except thin air and a shimmer moving swiftly out of reach.
“Wait,” he growled into the nothingness, then reluctantly conceded, “We need you.”
For a second, the shadows went still.
We? It was a whisper that came from of the darkest part of his mind.
Surprise underlined the thought as it shifted through him, brushing like a lover’s breath over his dragon mark. The caress flamed his fire. His eyes narrowing, Logan ran his tongue over the wound she’d inflicted and tasted blood.
“Yes.” He filled the sharp agreement with the promise of retribution for marking him.
Shadow hovered a heartbeat longer. Then his quarry was gone.
A tall glass appeared before him. “Your Hurricane, Duckie.”
“Thanks.” When he dug in his pocket for payment and realized what was missing, a sharp stab of mourning for his telein sliced through him. The talisman had be forged at his birth and carried on his person at all times since he was a small boy. Grimly, he raised his glass to the shadows where the Umbra had disappeared.
“We’ll meet again, thief.” He took a long pull of the drink, then licked the mixture of rum and blood from where it burned his lip. “You can bet on it.”