I’ve been working on something new lately, and I thought I’d share just a little peek of it on here. Here’s a section of a new novel, tentatively titled “The Dragon’s Treasure”. Enjoy!
“I won’t warn you again,” I said, glowering down over the table of young dragons. “All clans are welcome here, and I will not tolerate fighting. That includes trying to incite a battle.”
“Why are you talking to us?” one of them asked. “It was those Tellurians!”
“I have eyes all over the place.” I gestured to the cameras in the corners of the building, able to see every inch of the bar. “Keep this up, and you’ll no longer be allowed to drink here.”
I turned away from the table just as the door swung open. Other than noting he was human, I paid little attention to the male that entered. As I was about to slip behind the counter, a woman with flowing brown hair entered behind him. Something about her expression caught my eye, and I found myself unable to look away from her. She seemed as if she was uncomfortable, and I couldn’t help wondering if it was my bar, or the man she was with.
Granted, my bar was filled with dragons, but the average person would never be able to tell that by looking at them. The men and women inside the bar looked just like everyone else. We never shifted in front of humans, never let them know that we existed.
Her blue eyes scanned the tables, and she said something to the man accompanying her. He in turn pointed to an empty table and reached toward her, wrapping an arm around her waist. I saw her cringe, and move out of his grasp, which surprisingly brought a smile to my lips. As they approached the table, I noticed a ring on his finger. Looking back to her, I realized she wasn’t wearing one. Were they using my bar as a safe haven for their affair?
The woman picked the seat facing the door, and the man sat beside her. She scooted her chair as far away from him as she could get while still facing the door. If this was an affair, she was clearly no longer interested in having it.
“Ryder!” I turned toward Artie, my best barback. “Phone is for you.”
“Thanks,” I responded, taking one more look at the woman. I slipped behind the bar and picked up the phone on the wall. “Ryder speaking.”
“She took off again,” my sister’s voice echoed through the receiver.
I sighed. “Pheebs, you do realize I’m working right now, right?”
“No kidding? I thought you’d be sleeping there. Come on, Ryder! This is serious. She’s gone.”
“Look, she’s probably out with Jake. Just give her some time, and she’ll be back.”
“I can’t believe you aren’t more concerned with your little sister’s well-being!”
Pinching the bridge of my nose, I said, “She’s twenty-two. You don’t need to be so worried about her.”
“You know, you’re right. I shouldn’t be worried that she’s out with a boy during her first fertile period. When she comes home pregnant, you can—”
“You’re overreacting,” I interrupted. “She is a smart girl, and Jake knows what I’ll do to him if he plays with my sister’s heart.” When Phoebe didn’t respond, I asked, “Have you tried texting her?”
Silence. Finally, Phoebe sighed. “I can’t help but be worried, Ryder. With Mom and Dad gone, she’s our responsibility.”
“She’s not a child anymore. It won’t be long before she’ll find a mate, like you should be doing.”
Phoebe laughed. “What about you? You’re nearly thirty, and I don’t see a woman in your life.”
My gaze swept to the brunette from earlier, catching her once again trying to move away from the man. My dragon roared with annoyance, but I held him back, unwilling to break my own rules about fighting in the bar. “Don’t worry about me. Worry about yourself. Text her and ask where she is. I have to get back to work now.”
While I busied myself at the bar, I found myself watching the woman. Actually, I was having a difficult time keeping my eyes off of her. I couldn’t figure out what was drawing me to her. Granted, she was attractive. I’d never considered having a relationship with a human, knowing how fragile they were compared to my kind. Maybe it was the strength I could see under the surface, the fact that she didn’t seem to be giving in to the unwanted advances of the man accompanying her. Even my dragon seemed to want her, as I could feel him pacing restlessly beneath the surface.
The man pushed his drink toward her, and she shook her head, refusing. A moment later, she was out of her seat, and heading in my direction.
Artie moved toward her, but I shot him a look, stopping him. I leaned forward, pressing my palms to the countertop and said, “Hey there. What can I get you?”
“Just a Coke, please,” she answered, leaning against the bar.
I nodded, reaching for a glass. “Designated driver?”
“No. Just not in the mood to drink right now.”
“You came to a bar to not drink?”
She sighed. “I came because I was told all my coworkers come here every Thursday night, but it doesn’t look like that was true.”
As I filled her glass, I said, “I’ve never seen that sleaze here before tonight.”
She smiled slightly. “How do you know he’s a sleaze?”
“He’s wearing a wedding band, and you aren’t. Thought for a minute the two of you might be having an affair, but with the way you’ve been trying to avoid his touch—”
“Wait,” she interrupted. “Have you been watching me?”
Something about her voice told me she didn’t like me watching her, so I explained, “It’s my bar. I watch everything. And when someone is behaving the way he is, it tends to keep my attention.”
“If you can tell from a distance that I’m not interested, I don’t understand why he hasn’t taken the hint.”
“Guys like that don’t respond to hints,” I answered, shaking my head. “Want me to kick him out of here?”
“Thanks, but I can handle it. I just hate that I let myself get into this situation. I should have known better.”
I placed her drink on the counter, then waited for her to reach for it. Before she touched the glass, I took hold of her hand. Warmth flowed through me, and my dragon pushed at my skin, wanting out. I forced him back once more, and said, “Do me a favor, and keep your eye on this.”
She gave a slight nod, but didn’t pull away from me. “Sorry about laying my problems out for you.”
God, she was sweet. I grinned at her, enjoying our conversation. “Bartenders are like therapists for drunk people.”
“But I’m not drunk. I haven’t had anything alcoholic tonight.”
“Let’s keep it that way,” I said, reluctantly releasing her hand. “Let me know if you need anything, like a cab home.”
“Thanks,” she said, lifting her glass and turning away. I watched as she walked back to the sleaze, wondering if she’d felt anything from our encounter.
A moment later, my dragon roared beneath my skin as the sleaze wrapped his arm around the woman’s waist. She shoved at his chest, and just as I was about to leap over the counter and rush him, she tossed her drink into his face and stomped down on his foot. I couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across my lips as a feeling of pride settled in my chest.
A tap on my shoulder drew my attention away from the scene. I turned to find Myst, my head of security, standing behind me. “You need to see this.”
I sighed, then turned back in time to see the woman storming out the door. Frowning, I realized I hadn’t even learned her name.
Myst headed into the back room, which was filled with monitors showing every inch of the building and a majority of the surrounding area outside. I’d made it a part of my business to ensure that my bar was a safe haven for each of the four dragon clans in Four Peaks. As leader of the Barnett Clan, my word was law for my people, and was respected by two of the three other clan leaders. The Ripples and the Tellurians honored the peace of this bar.
The Brontes, on the other hand, didn’t care for honor or peace.
I scanned the screens in front of me, my eyes settling on the one showing the beautiful human woman sitting at the bus stop, rifling through her purse. I smiled, wondering if I should go out after her, at least to call her a cab to take her home.
Myst snapped her slender fingers in front of my face. “Are you even listening?” she asked.
“Sorry. What’s the problem?”
Myst glanced to the screen that still held my attention. “You haven’t been able to peel your eyes off of her since she entered the bar. What’s gotten into you?”
“Nothing,” I lied. “What did you need me to see?”
Shaking her head, Myst tapped several keys on the keyboard in front of her, bringing up a new image; on the screen was a young man being attacked by three others. At first, I thought nothing of it, until the attackers started to hover. “Damn it,” I muttered. “Where is this?”
“Just south of Kennebeck and Lake.” Her grey eyes darted to another screen. “Shit.”
“What?” I asked, following her gaze. I cursed as well as I realized the beauty was heading in that direction.
“You going to stop the fight, or stop your woman?” Myst asked.
“Shut up, Myst.”
“I can see why you’re so focused on her. She’s hot. Since you’re being a pussy and didn’t ask for her number, mind if I do?” A growl rumbled in my throat, and Myst chuckled. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
Shaking my head, I said, “I’m grabbing Sawyer and Pierce. Artie and Cameron should be able to handle things for a while.”
As I headed for the door, she said, “You’re not going without me.”
“Myst, I know you’re one of our best fighters—”
“But I need you here.” I pointed to the screen that showed the young Brontes. “These assholes need to be monitored.”
She growled. “You’re really making me babysit some barely-legal punks? Fuck that, Ryder! Pierce can babysit; I’m going.” Before I could argue more, she pushed past me and headed for the back exit.
I sighed, then stuck my head out to the bar. “Sawyer!” The bouncer’s bald head snapped in my direction, and I added, “Need your help. Now.”