Dragon Lore, Book II
Publisher: Taliesin Publishing
Release Date: 1/2/14
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Dragons have always fascinated me. Creatures fresh out of legend, they tempt the soul to stretch its wings. This book is dedicated to Kheladin and Tarika, two wonderful dragons who live in my imagination and who were generous enough to grace the pages of my books.
Jonathan Shea is a software engineer. When pressed, he admits to being a closet witch, but he’s always been a shade ambivalent about his magic—until a dragon shows up in Inverness, and then all bets are off. Along with others in his coven, Jonathan is both charmed and captivated by the creature fresh out of legend.
Britta is a dragon shifter. Dragged from the Middle Ages by the Celtic gods, she and her dragon prepare for a battle to save Earth. The first human she lays eyes on in modern times is Jonathan. There’s something about him. She can’t quite pinpoint it, but he has way more magic than any witch she’s ever come across before. Aside from magic, Jonathan is drop dead gorgeous. For the first time ever, Britta questions the wisdom of remaining a maid.
Surrounded by dragon shifters, Celtic gods, Selkies, and a heaping portion of magic, Jonathan comes into his own fast. Good thing, too, because fell creatures have targeted him, Britta, and the dragons. In the midst of chaos, he finds passion so poignant and love so heartbreakingly tender, it will change his life forever.
Britta inhaled noisily. “It smells odd.” She drew closer to him. “Is the air poisoned?”
“It’s just car exhaust. The air’s better here than in a truly big city.”
“Car exhaust? Neither word means aught.”
Where to begin? “Let’s get you some clothes. I’ll explain what I can over dinner. In the meantime, it might be best if you didn’t ask too many questions.”
She drew herself up and squared her shoulders. “And why not?”
“You don’t want people to think you’re odd. Or that you don’t belong here.”
A shiver ran through her body. He glanced down and saw her shift from one bare foot to the next on chill, damp ground. “Come on.” He hooked a hand beneath her arm and tugged. “Shoes first. Then clothes.”
She fell into step beside him. “They will have to measure me. It takes several days to craft a pair of boots.”
“Not anymore. We’ll find what you need readymade.”
“Really? Will the quality be acceptable?”
Spoken like a true countess. “Probably not, but you’ll make do. It’s better than being cold and barefoot.” He tightened his hold on her arm, wanting to protect her, care for her. It would take her time to get used to the modern world—if she stayed here long enough to learn about it. Jonathan examined the feelings coursing through him. Was it possible she’d snared him in some sort of spell?
“I did no such thing.” Enough outrage ran beneath her words, he believed her.
“Look here.” He kept his voice low. “You have to stay out of my thoughts.”
“But how else will I know about them?”
He chuckled. “How about if you ask me questions and satisfy yourself with what I’m willing to share. Turn this way.” He pushed open a swinging door and followed her into a brightly lit shoe store. He blinked a few times to ease the transition from daylight to neon.
She shielded her eyes with a hand. “What manner of magic creates light this strong?”
“Hush. We call it electricity. Come on.” He guided her to a display rack and selected a serviceable pair of lace up boots. “What do you think of these?”
She wrinkled her nose. “They’re ugly and shoddily made.” She flicked a loose thread with a fingertip.
“Then you pick something.”
She glanced about and trailed her hands over tennis shoes and sandals as she walked through the store. After oohing and aahing over several pairs of high heels, she let him guide her back to the place they’d begun. “Britta. It’s summer, but the nights are always on the chilly side. Your feet will get cold unless you get sturdy boots and socks. How about if we try these.” He pointed. “And those.” He pointed again.
“I suppose ye’re right. Do ye think either could be dyed black?”
A clerk had been hovering. “We have that style in black, ma’am. What size should I get for you?” He glanced down and inhaled audibly. “B-but you’re barefoot. Your feet must be freezing.”
Color stained Britta’s cheeks. “’Tisn’t so bad as all that, laddie.”
Jonathan thought quickly. He closed his hand around Britta’s arm and gave it a warning squeeze, hoping she’d understand not to contradict him. “My sister just gave birth. Err, twins. Her feet got bigger. Much bigger. Nothing fits but her house slippers, and she was too embarrassed to wear them. How about if you measure her?”
“Certainly. If you’d just sit over there?” The clerk gestured to a bank of chairs.
After shooting Jonathan an annoyed look, Britta followed the clerk.
An hour later, they had two pairs of shoes, one black, one brown, socks, underwear, three pairs of warm corduroy pants, sweaters, T-shirts, and two jackets. Jonathan was a thousand pounds poorer but considered the funds well spent. She’d stopped trying to seduce him from the moment they’d left Kheladin’s cave, which meant he’d simply enjoyed her company.
She led the way out of the clothing store he’d selected after they finished with the shoe store and turned to him. “Can we get something to eat now?” Both of them were laden with bags.
“Sure. What do you feel like?”
She leaned close. “I doona know. Everything here is so strange, I feel I am playacting, yet without knowing my lines. Pick something. Simple food and stiff spirits.”
“Have you heard anything from Kheladin?”
She shook her head. “Nay, but Tarika isna pleased. She believes we waste valuable time. ’Tis possible she will settle once we find food. She is hungry.”
Jonathan considered their options. He didn’t want to bring her to a noisy pub where they’d have to strain to hear one another. Nor did he want a nightclub. He looked up and down one of Inverness’ main streets. His gaze settled on a smallish place where a sign promised EXCELLENT FOOD IN AN INTIMATE ATMOSPHERE. Sounded perfect.
“Let’s try over there. Maybe we’ll have enough privacy to answer some of those questions I’ve seen dancing behind your eyes.”
She smiled at him. Really smiled without coquettish edges. “Ye’ve been truly kind to me. I apologize for…well, for how I was earlier. I shouldna have been such a tease.”
“Apology accepted. I do understand, though.”
She cocked her head to one side. “Do ye?”
He grinned. “Sure. Sex is power. Or it can be. But being friends is better.”
She grinned back. “To friendship, then. Find us a bottle, and we can drink to it.”
About the Author
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published 19 books to date, with several more contracted for 2014.
A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.
@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)