Authors: Tara West
Dawn of the Dragon Queen, Book Two
Copyright © 2015 by Tara West
Published by Shifting Sands Publishing
First edition, published December, 2015
All rights reserved.
This book is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Any reproduction or other unauthorized use of the material or artwork herein is prohibited.
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogue are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real.
Edited by Theo Fenraven
Cover design by
Photography by Marcus Ranum at
Table of Contents
A message from Tara West…
Dear readers, I hope you enjoy my new fantasy series. If so, would you please be kind enough to leave a review where you purchased it and tell all your friends about my books? Indie authors like me depend on readers to spread the word. It’s how we can afford to quit our day jobs and keep writing. ;)
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To my husband, an eternity of loving you will never be enough.
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!
sing 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
’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,
.” 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.
uncan 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.