Latest Entries »

The Dragon Dimension – Caught in the Dragon Cove

Chapter Three:

Another thirty or so minutes went by and just as Iax was about to have a shit-fit, they rounded a corner, and there it was! Finally! Wait. This can’t be right. With a small frown, she decided to make sure Gemma hadn’t taken a mental detour and gotten them lost, taking them to the wrong ‘small building.’

“Gemma, I thought you said a ‘small building,’ so what the fuck is this? Not a small building, that’s for damn sure.” Continually scanning their surroundings while trying to check out what Iax could only call a large and beautiful cabin, which stood right before them, she couldn’t wait to get inside, if this was even the right place. A soothing, hot bath sounded heavenly at the moment. Iax sighed.

“Yes, Iax, of course this is the correct place, and it is small, look at it. Another thing, we are going to work on this language you insist upon using all the time. It is not proper for a lady to speak in such a manner.” She lifted her chin in a dignified fashion and walked straight toward the cabin.

Opening the front door and entering the place, Iax was awestruck. Open structured, vaulted ceilings adorned with massive, wooden-beams; everything was the epitome of luxury.

“Well, girlfriend, you git ‘r dun and lemme know how it works out for ya,” she replied absently to Gemma’s declaration about her language. Knock yourself out trying, and good fucking luck while you’re at it, she thought, amused. “Better women and men have tried, all have failed. I tells ‘em like I sees ‘em, and I sees ‘em in my own way.” She couldn’t help chuckling at her friend’s perturbed expression.

Looking sadly defeated, Gemma shook her head as she walked over to a long hallway. Figuring the bedrooms were in that direction, Iax, still slack-jawed and only paying half attention to where she was walking, followed Gemma’s lead hoping to spot a bathroom with a nice Jacuzzi tub along the way.

There were old, crude-like tiles where woodwork was absent, and where those two were missing there were rough, clean rocks; both in all different sizes, shapes and colors. Everything was rustic such as an old wood-burning cookstove, hand-pumps for water, and stuff like that. But it was still luxurious, especially compared to the alternative of sleeping outside.

It’s such a gorgeous place, I could live here! Well, except for those flame-thrower dudes who would find and destroy me in no time, Iax conceded.

“Here are our bedchambers; we can each have our own. I hope you like this place. As I said, it is small but quite nice,” Gemma said.

Shaking her head, Iax was in disbelief over the woman thinking this place was small. Crazy broad must be used to a fucking palace. Iax sighed, missing her own place, or rather, her places. She didn’t realize she’d made the rather rude remark out loud until Gemma turned and scowled at her. “Sorry, just kidding,” Iax attempted to appease her friend; her much too sensitive friend.

Iax had been making bank since right out of high school. Somehow, someone had told someone else, and on down the line about Iax’s ‘mad-skillz’ in hand-to-hand fighting, as well as strategic combat, tactical planning, and her unnatural abilities with every weapon known to man. She had this nasty little habit of never missing her mark. Ever. After a few so-and-so’s had learned of her talents, they tracked her down and hooked her up lickety-split. Of course, it hadn’t hurt any to have Dear Old Dad working there, too.

She’d completed the required training everyone else had, which nearly killed most of the others also vying for positions in the C.I.A., causing a large number of them to dropout or be relieved during the process. It had been like watching flies drop.

But not Iax. She’d kept up, no problem, and excelled in each new trial much to the dismay of most the women, and all of the men. She hadn’t exactly made many friends—not that she cared—that’s not why she had been there.

It probably hadn’t helped when she openly laughed at those who were rudest to her, when their own exercises would go south. They would make utter asses of themselves on the daily, and sometimes even hourly. Which, or course, never failed to make her giddy and impossible for her to not poke, prod, and just in general, make fun of them. Quite openly. It had made for great fun, at least for her. So who cared?

She had passed every test and graduated top her class, and with the highest marks anyone had ever scored. Man or woman. Oh yeah, Iax was quite pleased with herself over that accomplishment.

Since then, she’d traveled the world many times over, even traveled to other Realms in the various Dimensions multiple times. Any time she traveled in her own place and time; Planet Earth—the here and now—she did it like anyone else, but in high style. Fancy helicopters, private leer jets, things like that. First-class all the way, baby.

She’d always been drawn to certain things, so that and her OCD issues had turned into high-dollar habits. Iax truly spent a hefty, or if she were to be honest with herself—but on this front she preferred to tell herself one white lie after another—an absurdly, asinine amount of her boodle to pay for her expensive fun and taste.

The important things in her life when, or if, work allowed her any time to enjoy them were things such as hi-tech toys, home decor, badass clothes, all the accessories to match; shoes, handbags, jackets, jewelry, etc. Of course, there was also her all-important coffee habit, Iax was always discovering and trying new gourmet coffees she found in shops and online. Can you say a-d-d-i-c-t-i-o-n? Iax certainly could, and in twenty-four different languages, too. Something else she was damn proud of.

However, when it came down to her away work—jobs away from Earth—things weren’t always so posh or fancy, nor were they easy since she didn’t get one single fucking clue about the job before taking off through that weird link thing.

Traveling to Realms and Dimensions was a surprise-a-fucking-minute. Her bosses, the bastards, knew she’d dig deep and do as much research possible to make a game plan well in advance. Problem was she would leave a trail, a digital footprint at the very least. Nobody could ever know we had peeps slipping in and out of alternate Dimensions and unknown Planes. Or so that was always the excuse they used for never giving her advanced notice. She would just find herself in a new location on another lovely O.W.O. vacay.

What-eve, no skin off my ass, Iax mused. She undoubtedly was one of, if not the best in the biz. Fast, smart, tough, along with a few other talents nobody else knew about. She even discovered a new one occasionally. Hey, a girl’s gotta have at least a few secrets, right? And Iax had secrets aplenty.

The O.W.O. Unit, aka: Outer Worldly Operations Unit, was a branch of the C.I.A. dedicated to intervening in any war already taking place, or preventing wars of an imminent nature, if possible. Somehow, they had found a way to communicate with the other Realms and Dimensions, but unfortunately, technology didn’t work in any of them. It would’ve been fantastic to have some tech-help each time.

Iax always wondered how she got to all the places she’d wound up in, especially since tech-goodies were of no assistance in any of them, but she still had no clue. She just simply ‘appeared’ and then ‘disappeared.’

The O.W.O. Unit had always treated her right. Iax had always painted herself with a patriotic, loyal, proud American brush. Yet this ‘Outer-Worldly-Shiz,’ fun as it was, still chapped her ass.

Wasn’t like the trusty old U.S. of A. didn’t have enough of their own troubles without always going balls-to-the-fucking-wall to help out so many other countries and causes. When, instead, they should be cleaning out their own closet first, before jumping ass-deep into every Tom, Dick and Harry’s problems.

There wasn’t much that pissed Iax off beyond all reason. Okay, that’s a lie, but this was one of her biggest hotspots. Everything was just so ass-backwards, not to mention the financial burdens; the entire situation made Iax a little bat-shit-crazy. It also never assuaged the deep guilt she harbored over her substantial personal wealth, even though she had earned every red cent, and then some.

Still, it made her feel guilty, with her strong feelings about wanting, or rather, needing to be able to help her own country before running to the rescue of everyone else. This was why she anonymously donated large chunks of cash to many deserving, American organizations. How could she not? Someone had to.

She didn’t require much in her personal life—if you could even call it that—other than her little secrets and wants. And she had more junk than anyone needed, so she’d slowed down on buying stupid things she didn’t need. Then she’d even found an incredible investment broker to manage her funds. With her employers covering all her expenses, she was financially able to help, so why not?

Women needed to run everything, Iax had long decided. Everything in the world would go so much smoother; people could hold their heads higher and stand taller because women would make it a much better place. It would be a life of all people thriving and being rightfully proud of their accomplishments, instead of how it had all become. What a shame. Aggravating, Iax owned.

Again, it always led back to those fuck-tard-loons, otherwise known as; typical men. The whole reason—or maybe the excuse?—she used and blamed for the kibosh always weighing heavily on her so-called social life. Okay, another lie. She’d never had one of those. Not really. She has a few awesome girlfriends in both of her places of residence.

Her particular group of bff’s in Manhattan, New York was the kind who gathered once or twice a month for their girls’ night, which was always hosted by a different person in their little group. Iax wouldn’t mind having them at her place, but she’d rather they be elsewhere. She never knew when she may disappear, and that would be impossible to explain to her friends. Thank God it hadn’t happened yet.

Still, she wished she could host the gatherings, her place was hella-cool, and it had cost her a pretty penny. She had written a check—payment in full—at the closing, and garnered a whole a lot of strange looks from everyone in the room. It was more than rare for a woman so young to do such a thing, and all on her own. But she had, and owned her pad outright. Something she wouldn’t give up for any amount of anything.

I’ll be one of those flame-throwing-Dragon-fuckers before that day ever comes, she vowed.

Iax’s family had lived all over the U.S. due to her dad’s C.I.A. job. It had been difficult especially for her poor mama who hated moving, but knew going into the marriage that relocation was inevitable. Still, you didn’t have to ‘like’ something even though you knew what you were signing up for. They loved each other immeasurably, and that was enough.

At the ripe, yet still firm age of twenty-four, Iax had already lived more than most. She currently resided part-time in her stunning Manhattan pad in New York, USA, and spent the rest of her time in her cozy cabin in the small Colorado Mountain town of Pitkin. The place of her fondest childhood memories. No matter where her family lived, they had always taken the time to visit every summer for at least a week, sometimes two. That was, until it had to be sold when times got tight after her dad’s health had declined.

His health insurance was topnotch, but not enough for all the expenses he incurred. He was collecting his pension now and Iax’s folks lived a comfortable life, but the loss of the family cabin was a sadness. At least the money they got for the sale covered what his insurance didn’t, so they weren’t in debt. Still, Iax had always wanted to repurchase it, but either she didn’t have the funds, the time, or whatever; something always stood in the way.

Fortunately, after her first two years of being employed by the C.I.A., she’d finally made enough green to buy the cabin back. She loved it there more than anywhere else; the summers were better than most, and she would know. Winters, on the other hand, were harsh and almost unbearable, and when she did much of her traveling.

When she wasn’t traveling she lived in her fancy, plush, sickly expensive Manhattan Brownstone after having it entirely renovated. She had spared no expense on either place, each having the latest of everything. The best of the best. She could afford it, so why the hell not? Being in the position of either knowing ‘the man’ to fix things, or able to hire ‘the best’ for her security and electronic needs. She had a ‘station’—she called them—in each of her digs which made her feel more professional at home.

Iax had become so regimented and self-disciplined over the years, structure had become a large part of her life. If she didn’t have something to do, she made stuff up.

Her stations consisted of six separate computers with large screen monitors, stacked in two rows of three which hung over large, handmade desks. All of her stuff was state-of-the-art and allowed her to do anything one could ever imagine, tech-wise. She was also a tech-genius, which always came in handy.

She loved staying up nights just to check out things like weather patterns all over the world, or learn about different foods and things in different cultures. It boggled the mind, the many differences there were just in the basics such as how people dressed; something she always indulged in wherever she went.

Being excessively anal and a total perfectionist, her coworkers, friends, even her family had always given her shit about it. But really, what’s wrong with being organized? She never had quite understood their main malfunction regarding that.

Losers, they’re just jealous, she always told herself with a laugh, knowing her love for them couldn’t run deeper.

She hated downtime, one of the worst ‘four-letter-words’ in her opinion, and did everything in her power to stay busy. “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” her mama had always told her, so her hands were only idle if she slept. Even then, she’d always been a fitful sleeper, when she did, so maybe her hands were on the move then, too.

That was another thing, she didn’t sleep much, just couldn’t, she always had too much on her mind. When one travels as much as Iax, even though all the travel plans, hotels, rental vehicles, and anything else one needed was already taken care of by some unseen entity, it still leaves one to worry over stupid shit: Are the flights all correct? What kind of room will I get once I arrive? Will I arrive at the correct location? And, on time? Will I like the food there? What about the language?

She’d found out firsthand how easy it was for an itinerary to go south when some dumb-fuck had made even the tiniest mistake in booking. Or through language barriers; sometimes words incorrectly interpreted could make for an extremely bunk travel plan. You never knew if you were going to end up where you were actually supposed to be.

Traveling as she did, she learned something new everywhere and every day. Some places were five-star resorts, and some were flee-ridden, half fallen-down shacks. Ya just never knew till ya got there.

She’d found herself sleeping on sidewalks pretending to be a street-bum more than once. A couple times she’d even had to take refuge in a park inside one of those jungle-gym do-dads. Not real comfy, but out of sight and doable. Anything to remain invisible.

And, the food? Seriously, she could not believe what some people considered ‘food,’ ‘delicacies’ even. It was easy to locate food vendors in the small, dusty, overcrowded foreign streets when she needed to. She would happily load up on fresh fruits and veggies before she’d even consider putting some of that nasty shit inside her body. Our body is our temple, or so she’d been told.

Language was never an issue, either. Since junior high school, Iax had always been extremely interested in other languages. She had taken a variety of available courses and after graduation when the C.I.A. had contacted her, they required her to learn more. Not a problem, since she loved learning new ones, anyway. She’d become fluent in twenty-four languages, including her own, English, and it was one of her most pride-filled accomplishments.

Well, that and all her mad-skillz, which she was more than thrilled to possess. Especially, since she’d started this whole hop-scotching-through-time thing about a year ago. Apparently, the C.I.A. had enough faith in her abilities to send her on the weirdest, most high-risk assignments they came across. Who-da-thunk there were actually whole other Dimensions out there? It had never crossed her mind.

Every time she would show up somewhere, Gemma was already there to guide, help, and keep her ass alive. She owed much to the woman and genuinely cared for her. Too bad she didn’t live in Iax’s real time and place; what a trip that would be for everyone. Although Gemma was somewhat of an anomaly, she definitely had powers and a vast knowledge of times, places, and histories pertaining to the various creatures, Realms, and Dimensions. Luckily, all the odd languages were covered in the woman’s arsenal, too. Even though Iax was wholly fluent on Earth, she knew they didn’t teach any other languages anywhere. Another awesome asset in having Gemma on her side.

The first time Iax had gone to another Dimension, upon her return she ‘landed’ on her own couch in her Manhattan pad in front of her superiors. She’d been frantic to locate Gemma, searching each room, under every piece of furniture, hoping and praying she’d find her. The woman had saved Iax’s ass and she wanted to thank and introduce her to her superiors. But she hadn’t been there, not a single sign of her was to be found.

Her main boss, Fred Travett, thought Iax had lost her mind. He’d even ordered her to see the company shrink to verify that she was still mentally stable. He feared that she’d been so traumatized by the whole thing, she may be useless to them after the incident. Thank God he had been wrong.

Fred was a close friend of her parents, and like an uncle to Iax. He’d always been extremely protective, always worrying and fussing over this and that. She knew he and her dad worked together for several years and even though he was at least twenty-years younger than her dad, they’d always been super close so she trusted him. But, in this particular case, she had to keep Gemma to herself even if the lie, or rather, the omission made her feel bad.

Iax had finally calmed down and realized that Gemma was from the other Dimension, and had obviously remained back in her own time and place. She had convinced Fred she’d just been so rattled upon returning home, she was simply confused. She never brought up Gemma around anyone ever again. Well, except for her folks; she knew she could trust them, and besides, they seemed to be genuinely interested in her O.W.O. Work—more so than she ever understood—and were able to keep her secrets.

When Iax had gone on her second trip, which was to the Amethyst Faerie Dragon Realm—one of her favorites so far—of course Gemma had been there waiting again. Iax had asked about her origins, abilities, and how and why she’d happened upon her both times. Gemma had brightly expressed that she was somewhat of a “Guardian Angel” for Iax. Stating wholeheartedly to Iax, “Someone has to do it, as you are far too careless for your own good.” They had already worked together eight-times, and Iax had come to trust Gemma with her very life; would trust anyone or anything she held dear to the woman.

Iax wasn’t exactly supposed to be out making friends on her away jobs so, in theory, that meant Gemma could be considered the enemy, or at least in league with them. No one was supposed to have knowledge of Iax, and since Gemma had plenty, it made her a target. By existing in the often unstable and dangerous alternate Dimensions during such tenuous times, such knowledge could be used against Iax. Another reason she still kept Gemma a secret; in case she was ever given the order to kill Gemma, taking her friend out was not an option.

Leaning back against the doorframe, Iax watched as Gemma drew the curtains back in the bedchamber she’d claimed. Always one to gravitate to all-things-nature, it didn’t surprise Iax that Gemma would want the curtains open so she could look outside often to see everything outdoors. Iax suspected it was a built-in mechanism to aid the woman in continually scanning their surroundings and always knowing what was doin’ and where.

Gemma reminded Iax of the mythical fey. She could picture her as a tree sprite, albeit an unusually large one, she was just so elegant, gorgeous, and lethal all at the same time. Having those magical powers may have added to the illusion a bit, too.

“So, where’s the bathroom, and what’re we gonna eat? I’m still starving,” Iax pointed out again. Her stomach was growling and starting to cramp. She hadn’t eaten since dinner the night before this little trip, and it was also contributing to her feeling almost out-of-body-like. She didn’t like not being in complete control of her body and mind. In this weakened state, mistakes could be made, accidents could happen.

“Of course you are hungry; it has been quite a long day for you. I have just the thing to bring you back around. Cop a squirt in the dining area and I shall be right there to fix you up.” Gemma beamed proudly.

Shaking her head with a small laugh, as she didn’t have the energy to do anything else, Iax was amused by Gemma slip-up again. “Babe, it’s cop a squat, but you’re trying and I respect that.” Still laughing, Iax turned back and went to find the ‘dining area.’

Iax was also always amused by Gemma’s old-world way of speaking and what she called things. At least here and now they didn’t have to whisper, although that was always a bucket-o-fun, it didn’t always cut it for her.

After eating a large bowl of tasty herbal-something-or-other soup, fresh bread Gemma had effortlessly and quickly whipped up, along with several kinds of fruits and nuts, Iax’s previously empty stomach was pleasantly full. The two cleaned the kitchen and then parted ways, going to their respective bedchambers.

Soaking in a steaming hot bath, Iax reflected on the day’s events and tried to figure out first, why the ‘bad-beastie’ had stolen Yoren from the Gordell-Dragon-Dude. It could be, just like at home, the dude was simply jealous and wanted the female for his own. Or, there could be a more nefarious plot afoot. Next, what was she supposed to do about any of it, in either case?

One thing Iax had learned well and at a very young age was, there were politics in every race, religion, age, country, time, and Dimension. Another thing she’d learned well was, politics always brought out the sheer worst in people. Since the Dragons were shifters, they obviously had a ‘people’ side, at least in some capacity, so there could be any number of reasons for this incident.

Now, she just had to find out if any of her thoughts were factual; tomorrow, after this decadent bath, and after a full night’s sleep. Both of which she felt she thoroughly deserved.

 

 **Contents Copyrighted 2011 by Theressa Branham**


Caught in the Dragon Cove

Chapter One:

Ten-Years Later

Date: December 25, 1987

Place: The United States Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia, USA

World: Planet Earth

The young, fresh, extremely ambitious Special Agent enjoyed working closely with his new partner, and newfound idol, the now forty-one year old Special Agent David Conifurr, in Arlington, Virginia. All of their Operations were highly sensitive and Top-secret, even to the entire staff and anyone else who entered the massive, seven-story, over three-and-a-half-million square feet of office space that made up the United States Pentagon.

Although he couldn’t see it, except for lunch breaks, and of course, coming and going, being located directly across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., was just another bonus. Not to mention all the other various Memorials and Landmarks in the vicinity, he had decided Arlington was a magnificent place to live and work.

He’d moved here only a few months ago from Missoula, Montana, which he missed almost like a phantom limb. Montana was spectacular in its own right. It was one of the most peaceful places he’d ever been to. And, when he’d said there were significant differences between the two places, he had meant to say that there was no comparison, whatsoever.

Bounding into the shared office-space situated and cut off from the rest of the employees, buried in the storage areas in the bowels of the second-sub-level-story of the mammoth building, he loved it even though there were no windows or visible links to the outside world.

Although he didn’t like to admit it, everyone had been extraordinarily warm, welcoming, and plenty helpful when he had needed it at first. Navigating the beast-of-a-building was a nightmare in the beginning, but not so much now.

This specific day, he was practically vibrating with excitement. He was the newest, youngest employee in the O.W.O. Unit, or the Outer Worldly Operations Unit, and he reveled in the newness of it all. Being so green, he still had much to learn.

So far, he’d figured out that somehow, this division of the C.I.A. could communicate with their namesake: Outer Worldly Operations, also known as Dimensions and Realms apart from the only one widely known to humankind: Planet Earth.

They would receive Intel with just enough time to get a Special Agent or Agents into the Realm in whichever Dimension that was having problems. Said Agents, all of whom were highly trained, and extremely sharp at many tactical skills—along with other skill-sets which would blow one’s mind—would have a set amount of time to locate, and then fix the problem.

Once their assignment was complete, whatever it was that had enabled them to ‘go there’ was the same way they ‘got back’ here. Weird stuff, to be sure, but he didn’t work in that particular department. So, he figured, all in time. As long as he could hold on to this great job, he’d stay and all the while, he’d continue to learn.

Today, however, he had a wholly different reason for being so overly-ecstatic. He had news to deliver; incredible news, in fact, for his new partner and friend, Mr., or rather, Special Agent David Conifurr.

I like the sound of that for me, too. Special Agent Fred Travett. He sighed.

He would always be grateful, and he had no idea just how true his pensive thoughts would one day prove.

He’d been told of some of Agent Conifurr’s beginnings here, at the O.W.O. Unit, and how tragic things had been for him and his wife. All they had ever wanted, prayed night and day for, was to have a child of their own. They weren’t even greedy, they only wanted one. More would have been an enormous blessing, but all they had ever wanted, needed so desperately, was simply one-small healthy, happy bundle-of-joy to love, to call their own. Which they’d never had.

Though one would expect the couple to be somber, sullen, or possibly even rude, it just wasn’t their way. All anyone ever said about the pair was accomplished and honorable things; they donated time and money to all causes related to babies and children.

And they had always made sure some their coworkers, along with a few of their Church members, even many of their own neighbors never went without anything. They preferred anonymity for as many of their generous acts of kindness as possible, and obviously, they’d been seen doing volunteer works, but the monetary side was hush-hush.

Everyone said the couple had never wanted any credit; they simply wanted others to be happy. And, since they didn’t exactly have a whole brood of their own to raise and care for, they had the time, and even some extra funds to help cover some of the financial needs. But, it was never enough since there seemed to be no end to their giving—their true joy—to all of those in real need.

Mrs. Conifurr also held fundraisers, working in conjunction with their Church and other meaningful organizations to ensure the necessary funding to cover all of what they did. And they did a lot, she spent most of her time doing for, and taking care of others. She apparently lived for just that. They undoubtedly would have been the best parents ever.

Fred had never been so humbled than he was upon learning those things about his new partner and the man’s wife. And, he was not surprised to hear that Mr. Conifurr worshiped and loved Mrs. Conifurr more than anything, anywhere.

He could be tough and gruff. Born and bred on the mean-streets of New York City, the man really was threatening, even had the accent to back it up. He could be terribly intimidating, but Fred mostly just saw ‘him,’ the extraordinary man underneath it all, and how deeply he seemed to care for others, just like his wife did.

This was the key reason Fred was flying so high on this particular, fine Monday morning. Even if it was below zero outside, and the power kept going out, and the generators kept leaping back and forth from life to off, life to off.

East Coast winters were brutal, and they were right in the middle of a nasty, classic December ice-storm. He thought Montana had insufferable winters, and they did, but still… this was downright frigid. In any case, Fred almost couldn’t contain the joy flowing fast and free through his veins, warming him from the inside out.

This’ll be the best Christmas gift he’d ever have the pleasure to deliver. Even if it wasn’t from him, he was just so thrilled, elated even, to be delivering this specific, perfect gift to the most deserving couple he’d ever had the blessed honor of meeting.

Suddenly, he became nervous, his heart thudded heavily inside his chest, blood rushed loudly in his ears. “What if we’re all being presumptuous? Oh, Lord! What if it’s too late? They might think so. I hope not, but they are in their mid-forties,” he worried quietly out loud.

After a few deep, cleansing breaths, and more of the inner pep-talk, he was at Agent Conifurr’s office door. Breathe, it’s fine. They’ll be ecstatic, this is what they’ve always wanted—isn’t it? he tried to bolster himself.

Before he could square his shoulders and knock, the door swung open and Agent Conifurr ran right into Fred, practically knocking him over. “Whoa, there. Where’s the fire? You okay, Sir? I’m sorry, I-I was just gonna knock,” Fred rushed out in one breath.

“You’re fine, I’m fine. So, what did ya need, Kid?” Fred smiled. Only Agent Conifurr standing in his office-doorway as composed as he pleased, could get away with calling him ‘Kid,’ he thought, amused.

Okay Fred, you can do this, he told himself, a little more pep-talk. “Good, okay, um…” Gah! Just do it, you big Nancy-ass! Big breath… Ah, okay, I can do this.

Mr. Conifurr, clearing his throat, brought Fred out of his head, and he realized he was standing there gawking at the man he so respected, sweating and blushing like a damn fool! A damn female fool, at that! Shaking his head, sneaking in a quick, you’re a jackass-loser, to himself, he finally piped up and found his balls. “Yeah, sorry ‘bout that. Guess I didn’t get much sleep. Anyway, is the Misses still here? We, er, I have news that’ll affect you both, and it’d be best if I could tell you. Together, that is,” he finished. A relieved breath gushed from his lungs.

That wasn’t so hard, Nancy-ass, he reprimanded himself a moment longer.

“Yeah, sure, Son. What’s on your mind? Come on in, please have a seat.” He gestured to a chair for Fred to use, next to the lovely and beautiful Mrs. Conifurr.

He nodded as he politely brushed past her to claim the empty seat, asking, “How are you today, Mrs. Conifurr? Beautiful day, isn’t it?” What? Ugh! It’s not a beautiful day, it’s miserable outside! Damn fool! He sighed.

“Yes, Fred, I am well. Thank you.” Offering him a smile, he was grateful she didn’t remark about the “beautiful day” he’d just assured her existed. Fred let it go, and sat down just as Agent Conifurr claimed his seat across from them behind his large, too-organized desk.

“All right, Son, ya got us here, ya got our attention. What’s on your mind?” the older man asked, as the couple smiled pleasantly and expectantly at him.

You can do it, they’ll be the happiest they’ve ever been, they’ll have to be. He cleared his throat, wiped his still sweating brow on the back of his shirt sleeve, and smiled the best he could.

“Yes, and I thank you both for your time, I know how busy you both always are. Um, we have a, um… well, ya see, we have something. For you. A situation happened, and now we have it for you. If ya want it?” he finished, sweating even more while awaiting their reply. When did it get so hot in here? He couldn’t stop sweating!

Obviously, they’d have to at least think about it. Maybe even take a little time and talk it over. As the thought hit him, he shot to his feet knocking his now-vacant chair over backwards, and he heard it hit the floor. Ugh! You’re a damn klutz now, too? He huffed, frustrated.

“Got it. Sorry, just, this is a lot to take in. I get it if you’ll need some time, a talk, or whichever. I’ll give you more time. Just get back to me once you’ve decided, and we’ll take it from there.” He blushed. Again.

Busy trying to say the right things, keeping his brow wiped, and trying to get the fallen chair back into its original spot, he hadn’t noticed the expressions on their faces. They were glancing back and forth from each other to him, eyes full of concern and confusion.

He wrinkled his brow, not sure of what the problem was. Before he could ask, Agent Conifurr spoke. “Ah, why don’t ya sit back down a minute, ya don’t look so good. And while you’re at it, ya mind explainin’ what you’re ramblin’ about? What exactly would you like us to think and speak about? You’re not makin’ much sense, Son. Ya okay?” Agent Conifurr questioned, concern clear in his observing gaze.

Suddenly, the problem dawned on him. I’ve never been more humiliated in my life! Fred chastised himself. And by myself, even, what a jackass! You left out the whole thing! The actual ‘surprise-gift’ part! Shaking his head at his own ineptness, he didn’t think it was possible to get any redder in the face as he felt the heat radiating from his skin.

Lord, please strike me down now, I’m such a loser! he pleaded. If the floor would only open up and swallow him whole, he’d be grateful!

Alas, he was wrong. He could, and he did get redder when Mrs. Conifurr got up from her seat and leaned over to press her bare-inner forearm against his forehead. Her beautiful face was tight and serious, brows wrinkled in deep concern. He felt like a child. A dumb, clumsy, didn’t-know-squat child.

Could this get any more embarrassing? he asked himself. Well, sure, of course it could and it most likely would. Just give me a minute, I’m sure I can one-up myself a few more times. He took a few deep breaths and tried to fix the disaster he’d just created. And, of all people to do it to and in front of? It’s okay, just fix it. He sighed.

“I’m fine, really. Thank you, Mrs. Conifurr, just tired and obviously my brain’s not working properly. Really, I’m okay.” He offered a kind smile, as she returned her own.

“Well, Son, what’s goin’ on? Ya need somethin’?” Agent Conifurr politely pressed, still eyeing him with too much knowledge behind that gaze. Fred felt a shudder go through him. As great a man as Agent Conifurr was, he truly never wanted to be on the man’s unpleasant side. Ever.

“Yeah, okay. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to jumble things up. I’ve just been so excited I guess I lost my head for a minute. Of course, you want to know what I’m rambling about.” He gave them both a sheepish, half-smile before continuing, “What I meant to say, was… is, um. Well, there’s a situation, and from it came something I think the two of you would be very interested in. To keep, I mean.” As he fumbled for the right words, he realized that seeing is believing. Besides, he was almost positive there would be no way they could say no once they saw and touched the surprise. He smiled again, feeling a little more confident.

He stood and gestured toward the office door, “Would you both mind coming with me? Then you can see for yourself. I think it’ll make your decision much easier this way, too.” The couple glanced at each other, then up at Fred, confusion written all over their faces, but he also picked up on their curiosity.

That’s all I needed. His smile widened.

The area utilized by the O.W.O. Unit was large, and even though it should have, it didn’t even make a dent on their level. There were also other back rooms where who-knew-what went on. Luckily for him, today Fred knew what was going on in one room, and he knew it was all good. As he led Agent and Mrs. Conifurr down the corridor and across a space taken up by row after row of metal shelving, he couldn’t help but smile. This is just too perfect! he agreed with himself.

Coming to another corridor lined with rooms, each door stood about twenty-five feet apart from the next, Fred lightly knocked a definite code-knock on the door marked ‘TOP-SECRET: HIGHEST CLEARANCE ONLY,’ in bold red-letters. Even Agent Conifurr raised a questioning brow at Fred as he simply looked on waiting for the door to be opened from the other side.

Only moments later, though it felt like much longer to Fred, the door quietly, slowly opened to reveal a small, dark-haired woman wearing a black skirt-suit, big glasses, and her hair pulled back in a severe bun. Recognizing Fred at once, the small slip of a woman stood back to allow him and the couple to enter the room. Afterward, she re-closed and re-locked the door.

“Dana.” Fred politely inclined his chin to her. She was so tiny, he couldn’t believe she’d made it through the physical training and landed herself a job here.

Filing those random thoughts away, he focused on why they were all here, gathered in the hard-edged, cold-feeling room. He glanced over his shoulder by the back wall to make sure nothing had changed, and sure enough, there it was. He smiled again.

“Mrs. Conifurr, Agent Conifurr, if you would please, could you come over here and take a look at this and tell us what you think?” He wanted to jump out of his skin by now, the excitement was too much! He had a strong feeling they’d say yes, he felt it in his bones. Please, let them say yes, this is what is best for all of them—let them say yes, he silently prayed.

The moment Mrs. Conifurr’s eyes found the small baby bassinet, her entire body stiffened just before she shot across the room to close the gap between them. She peeked tentatively down into the bassinet, and then leaned over to get a better look-see. “Oh my, It’s a baby. A newborn baby. What… I-I…” Mrs. Conifurr whispered, pressing the back of her right hand to her lips to stifle a small sob, as her left hand instinctively gravitated down to rest upon the newborn’s back.

Agent Conifurr shot a strange look at Fred, which he mistook for anger. Fred swallowed the lump in his throat that formed while he watched Mrs. Conifurr’s initial reaction to the baby.

What have we done? What have I done? I thought they’d be thrilled for sure, and want this. He hung his head in shame, feeling utterly defeated.

A sharp, strong clap on the back made him stumble forward two steps. His eyes snapped up and Agent Conifurr was still standing where he had been, but now he wore an almost silly grin on his face.

What the hell? Fred puzzled. I thought he was upset? This must be the most confusing day of my life.

“Son, ya mind tellin’ us what this is all about? The wife’s gettin’ herself worked up, and I think I know why. But I’d like to hear the words before this goes too far. Ya understand?” Agent Conifurr smirked, seemingly sure of his own thoughts.

Jackpot! Fred almost said out loud.

“Yes, Sir. I believe it is just what you’re thinking. You remember the file I was going over last week, the ones about the Agent who came back from the Amethyst Faerie Dragon Dimension, dead?” Agent Conifurr nodded. “Yeah, well, when he reappeared to wherever it was where he usually made the transition, they found this little one strapped to his chest. Thank God he landed on his back, but yeah, she appeared with him.”

“She? A baby girl? How…?” Agent Conifurr shook his head now, as if he could make sense of it quicker, but confusion flitted across his features again. Not so much in a bad way, but he was clearly confused. Who wouldn’t be? This was a bit much, even for the O.W.O. Unit.

Fred needed to figure out something to say that would calm the couple. They appeared highly emotional already. He could hear the quiet cries from Mrs. Conifurr, and see it in Agent Conifurr’s expression; they needed confirmation.

“Yes, Agent and Mrs. Conifurr, congratulations, it’s a baby girl! Merry Christmas!” Fred beamed a bright smile. “For all intents and purposes, she appears to be healthy and normal. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any outward-signs of any other type of ‘being,’ or anything. The Lab’s been monitoring her since she arrived, almost two-weeks ago. They didn’t find anything that would lead anyone to believe she wasn’t human, but only time will tell.” He shrugged a shoulder.

Agent Conifurr had made his way over to stand next to his wife, who was now holding and gently rocking the baby girl in her loving arms. It had to be the most tender, intimate thing Fred had ever eye-witnessed. He actually felt his eyes welling up with tears. Coughing into his hand, he quickly turned away, giving the couple a small measure of privacy while flicking away the silly tears falling from his own eyes. Man, you really are a Nancy-ass today, aren’t you? he scolded himself. Though, he couldn’t stop the smile from forming on his lips at the thought.

This was quite a day. He would have never guessed he’d get to be a part of something like this; bringing a family together, a new life with older lives. It was all the couple had ever wanted, and here it was. Finally. Literally, in their hands.

It was so quiet, he almost didn’t catch Mrs. Conifurr’s words when she spoke. “She’s so beautiful, David. So… so perfect. Is this real? Are they truly wanting us to take her in?” her voice quivered as she spoke, yet strengthened with each word.

This was perfect, and they would be the best parents for this orphaned, newborn baby girl. Life just didn’t get much better than this.

Fred almost forgot the instructions that had come with the baby. Not many, and it took the Lab all this time to decipher them, but they appeared to be necessary. He didn’t like this part, but it was a must. He cleared his throat.

“Ah, okay, first things first: Yes, this is real, and yes, she needs a home. Everyone thought you two were the best choice for obvious and more personal reasons.” The couple turned and gave him their full attention.

“And?” Agent Conifurr hedged.

“Yes, and, just because she hasn’t exhibited any behaviors or traits of another ‘being,’ doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Also, you’ll need to watch her diet carefully. She seems to tolerate regular baby formula fine for now. She also shows signs of extreme intelligence, and is an exceptionally fast learner. That’s probably an understatement, but there you have it. You’ll obviously need to watch her like a hawk at all times, even more so than a human baby. If she’s as smart and fast as they claim, who knows what she could be capable of?” He raised a brow.

The visibly thrilled couple nodded in unison as if they knew what he meant; their new baby girl would be a surprise-a-minute.

“On the instructions, they also found what they think is her name. Of course, it’s up to you, but as the Lab said it all seemed pretty important. It said her name was Iax Sarvias Eluhyax. Oh, I almost forgot, she appears to be—give or take a couple—about fourteen-days old.”

Fred expected a response, at least a strange expression, anything, but the only thing the couple seemed to be interested in at all was the newborn baby girl. Mrs. Conifurr continued to rock her gently, while her husband stood at her side, watching both of them with unshed tears of his own, and an elated, relieved expression on his face.

Yes. This is just what we’d hoped for, and exactly what they deserve. Now they can be a family, maybe stop spending so much time on everyone else, and start making their own family traditions and just be together. Perfect, Fred admitted to himself.

He sensed a propitious outcome for all. Happiness, and finally, all the love, laughter, and joy they so deserved. Then he heard Agent Conifurr’s announcement, his voice strong and proud. “Yep, her name is Iax Sarvias Eluhyax Conifurr. What ya think, sweetheart?” He gazed lovingly into his wife’s own tear-filled eyes, belying the large smile spreading across her beautiful, glowing face.

“I think it’s perfect, honey, absolutely perfect.” Peering back at the baby in her arms, bright green-eyes wide open to take in everything her gaze could touch on, the baby’s new mama asked, “What do you think, Iax [Eye-Axe] Sarvias [Sar-vee-us] Eluhyax [Aye-Lou-Axe] Conifurr? Do you like that, my precious?” she sounded out the unique name.

Iax, the tiny baby, then reached out to grab onto her new mama’s finger, then smiled the sweetest baby smile any of them had ever seen.

After a few moments of whispering, Mrs. and Agent Conifurr turned to face Fred, wide smiles filling their exuberant faces. “I think we’ll be callin’ her Iax Sarel Conifurr.  We’ll use ‘Sar’ and ‘El’ from the other two names. It’s unique, but not so strange that anyone, includin’ her, would have issues with it. The whole of those full names would raise too many questions, bein’ so uncommon and all. Her birth certificate will have the full names, of course, but she won’t need to see it for a long time. So until then, we’ll just say Sarel is a combination of a relative of mine, and one of the wife’s. What do ya think, Son?”

It was a heady feeling to be asked his opinion on such a matter. This was their baby now, and Fred had only been working here a short time. He was honored. “I believe you’re right. Sarel sounds pretty normal. And, if you think about it, people combine family names all the time. Besides, it’s not totally a lie; the Lab believes those were her birthparents’ names. So yes, I think it’s a perfect combination.”

There can be no doubt that this baby, the unique Iax Sarvias Eluhyax Conifurr, was and always will be remarkable. World, you’d better watch out, remarkable doesn’t even come close to covering this one. Not only that, but she’ll be a true force to be reckoned with, Fred qualified, feeling like he was floating on cloud-nine. He’d never been psychic or anything, but he had the strongest, strangest feeling about this baby girl; she would surpass any and everyone’s expectations and then some.

He smiled, watching the overjoyed couple cooing and gently touching the baby girl’s face, her golden hair, and of course, all ten of her perfect little fingers and toes.

**Contents Copyrighted 2011 by Theressa Branham**

Caught in the Dragon Cove

Chapter Two:

Present Day

Date: December 2011—Earth Calendar

Time: Unknown—Still Daylight

Place: Dragon Cove Realm

World: The Dragon Dimension

Superior Life Form: Dragon-Shifters (Maintain human-like forms unless provoked, senses a threat, and in planned or unavoidable battles).

Dragons, Dragons and more Dragons. Every size, shape, and color of which the brain could conceive. Beautiful. Scary. Amazing. Only three of the words that came to mind instantaneously. Some with soft, leathery-looking hides, others were tough, almost steely-looking. And surprisingly, several even looked as if they might be ‘friendly,’ if a Dragon could be considered friendly. Many looked territorial, extremely dangerous.

Iax was grateful she hadn’t caught their notice… yet. They’d most likely breathe fire and brimstone on her, incinerating her in mere seconds. The next three words that came to mind were; well, fu-uck me. It was all so bizarre, yet somehow beautiful at the same time.

Dragons flying overhead, running, or maybe—as it was hard to tell from a distance—they were merely skimming over the surface of land charred beyond repair, only scant inches below them. Many were launching themselves at one another, furiously swiping at others with massive, dangerously strong tails. Others colliding, tangling in thunderous claps midair, rolling and diving as they fell hard to the ground landing in large heaps with loud, sickening thuds, sounding imminently final. There were so many, at least a couple hundred, and it seemed such a waste to maim, destroy, or even harm such beauty.

The land and vegetation all looked as if it would go up into flames at any moment now as lava seeped lazily, and rolled slowly all around them as far as the eye could see down into the valley. Tall mountain peaks proudly loomed like sentinels on either side of the vast valley-floor.

Another waste of immeasurable proportions. It was a beautiful area; large copses of antique-looking trees in various types and sizes scattered over the mountainsides, uniquely attractive large and smaller bushes, wildflowers, and on and on. Such a waste.

How did I get here? she speculated. It had never been explained to her, other than some kind of weird ‘link’ thing. She’d be sure to corner Fred when she got back and find out exactly how, or what made these fun little ‘trips’ even possible. For now, there wasn’t time to worry about it.

She’d visited many different places while ‘hop-scotching-it-through-time,’ as she called it, in just under a year. Different time periods, people, shifters, animals, and alternate Realms from many of the different Dimensions. Everything had always seemed so surreal, possibly imagined, but not. This wasn’t her first rodeo; everything here was all-too-real.

The scene was breathtaking, both beautiful and dismal. The sky, which seemed to run forever in either direction of the seemingly enormous valley, was painted in vibrant swaths of purples, oranges, pinkish-corals, as well as different hues of greens and blues.

All the visuals were totally at odds with the sounds and explosions blasting all around her. Carrying on the wind with it all were the putrid, noxious odors, worse than the charred vegetation; charred hide. Everything on, and including parts of, the actual ground was melted to oblivion.

Iax wanted to retch at the smells and sights—it truly was disheartening—but that would give away her presence, something she most definitely did not want to happen. The massive explosions rocked her entire body, her throbbing head was begging for relief.

She needed to know where she was, what was happening, and why the hell she’d ended up here. Well, truth tell, she knew the here; The Dragon Dimension. But in which Realm? There were several: Each Realm consisted of various groups made up of a specific type of Dragon-shifter, all of whom inhabited their own territory;,the claim they staked upon their creation. Each group, a family or village of shifters, was called a Weyr; much like a Clan, Tribe, or some other such grouping. It was almost unheard of for a Dragon-shifter from one Realm to visit another, as they usually kept to themselves.

Although Iax had been to a few of the different Realms, she still didn’t know exactly how many there were. She could be wrong, but she thought this one in particular was the Dragon Cove Realm. The inhabitants were essentially your typical human-like beings who just so happened to be able to shape-shift into their Dragon-forms.

That covered the here part, but the why? She had no clue. Something she knew for certain was, one minute, she’d been sippin’ a vente mocha latte, trying on some killer heels, and the next… she was here. Fucking awesome. Not! She quietly snorted.

Iax learned on her previous ‘vacays,’ she had to remain focused, concentrate on every detail.

If only she could’ve landed somewhere poolside, apple-tini and a great book in hand. Oh, and maybe even one of those hot cabana boys massaging her feet, fanning her while feeding her grapes and berries. Not that she drank; Iax never enjoyed it after watching peeps she truly cared for fall apart—and worse—because of their drinking problem. Still, it sure sounded sensational, and would’ve made a much better vacay; so worth her time and trouble. Shoulders slumping, she sighed again.

I wish I had my Zune, all this noise is driving me fucking nuts, she grumbled inwardly as a groovy tune was running through her mind, bringing up questions about her mental state; what’s wrong with me? Why do I feel like this? I’m going crazy… Just to name a few. How àpropos.

Alas, fun was not meant to be had, at least not yet, and not here. Convincing herself that one of these times she’d certainly make the other trip happen. At least she’d give it one helluva shot, anyway.

Meanwhile, she was here, it was hot, dry, nasty, and she had a job to do. It was obvious that she was here due to the flame-throwers who evidently didn’t know how to channel their anger in a healthy way. Now, she needed to figure out exactly what was going on, and what she would do about it.

Hmm, she thought dryly, better check my bod and see what kind of goods I brought forth this time. Please let there be a canteen of cold water somewhere on my person.

Night’s darkness was closing in quickly, and the charred air around her was cooling just a tad as she hid under the cover of boulders and burnt trees. Her continual sweating could spell grim news for her, and soon.

Iax wasn’t fooled for even a second to think hiding would save her ass for long, these kinds of creatures always sniffed out anyone or anything different from themselves, all-too-soon.

Also, if she died here, she actually died, for real. Not an option, even though her real life wasn’t going quite her way, she still wasn’t ready to die.

She needed to reach Gemma, her ‘tour guide,’ as she called her. Gemma always knew what to do, where to go, and why the hell Iax was brought to, well, wherever it was she always ended up. Gemma was impressive like that, always had all the answers and knew just what to do.

To be honest, Gemma was more like a giant jigsaw puzzle; all the pieces were there and they were fascinating pieces, it was just hard to fit them all together sometimes. But, in the end, they always got the job done, even if the puzzle didn’t always come out perfect, it did come out done.

And, Iax got to continue living, for real.

Although she was frustrated enough to scream, she knew better. Screaming wasn’t necessary anyway, she could simply use mental projection, and Gemma would magically appear.

Here’s lookin’ at you, Gemma. Iax hoped fervently. Closing her eyes, she sent her thoughts out in a wide arc to summon her buddy. After the third try, Iax started getting pissed. She was hot, sweating, tired, a little hungry and, even though she shouldn’t—‘cause it seemed rather inappropriate—she had a deep craving for BBQ food.

Shaking her head to clear the random thoughts, she peered around hoping to see Gemma wandering somewhere close by, as always in a daze with a beautiful smile on her even more beautiful face.

Gemma always appeared clueless, but man, the sister should never be underestimated; she’s brilliant, and not one to be fucked with.

Still waiting, looking about again… nothing. Where is she? Dammit, I hate when this happens and she doesn’t show up right away! she grumbled inwardly, then using the same method, she shouted for Gemma. Big mistake! All that did was amplify her already hellacious headache. Ugh! Smooth doin’, Ace!

Iax started at the reply that came right next to her ear!

“Oh, bother, dear, do not have a hit-attack, I am here already. I am here.”

Like a welcomed flood, relief flowed through Iax’s veins cooling her overheated system at hearing the voice, but it did nothing good for her newfound headache or her nerves. Without thinking first, she snapped, “Gemma! Why do you always have to scare me? Shit! And, how many times I gotta ask you to please not sneak up on me, yet you keep doing it?” Iax hissed out.

Perfectly arched brows raised, Gemma replied, “Well, it seems that someone’s panties are in a wait. Really, Iax, you need to chill. Is this not what you have advised me to do so many times? And, look, I have. You, on the other hand, are so pumpy. Humph. You are welcome for me showing up, as I always do!” She sat down on a large rock, elbows on her knees, chin resting in her upraised palms.

Trying for patience, Iax didn’t want to start things out on a bad note, but she never could help herself from correcting people, either. “Okay Gemma, A; it’s panties in a wad not a wait, and two; it’s jumpy not pumpy, okay?  And, you’re right, thank you for always showing up and helping me. I really do appreciate it.” She let out a long, slow breath before continuing, “I’m sorry, I’m just pissed. I was having a great day, drooling over a hottie at the mall, having a coffee… thing, fixin’ to buy some kick-ass heels, and all of a sudden, I’m here.” She opened her arms wide and turned in a half circle to encompass the scene unfolding all around them.

“And, it’s heart attack, not hit attack—which by the way—I am not having. If you’re going to use my stuff, please try to get it right.” She waved a negligent hand toward the fiery scene in front of them, and asked, “Now, what’s the scoop on all this?”

“Well, my dear, you must not have a potty-party, we shall see you through this as we always do.” Gemma smiled innocently, knowing very well that she was riding on Iax’s last nerve.

Iax knew the woman thought it was entertaining to poke at her from time to time, but now was not good. Gritting her teeth, she tried to calm down and not blow a gasket. “Gemma, it’s pity-party, not potty-party, and I am not having one of those, either,” she finished, offering her friend a fake smile. Breathe, just breathe slowly. She’s here to help, ya gotta be more patient, Iax attempted to calm her hot-tired-self. Ahhh… better.

She was more than grateful to Gemma since, after all, the woman had saved her ass in more than one scrape, but she always got her euphemisms wrong. Sometimes it was truly funny, but others, it was a waste of precious time. Still, potty-party? She almost laughed out loud upon reflection, it was pretty hilarious! Snap out of it, Iax, and focus! It’s go-time!

“Okay, Gemma, what do we know about what’s going on here? Obviously the flame-throwers are pissed off, attacking each other and—” Squinting to see better, Iax tried to get a better visual on what was doin’ further up, and back down both ends of the valley, as well as on the mountains standing tall on either side. Trying to discern any possible other creatures or whatevers, she was unable to detect anything other than the huge, colorful dudes making jerky of each other and everything else in sight.

“Well, Iax. Gordell—a master-beastie whom is most likely picking his teeth with the bones of the much smaller-beasties as we speak—is very pissed off, as you say. It would seem his Truemate, Yoren, was stolen by another beastie-pack. Mind you, I am explaining this in a way you will understand better. These are the unofficial terms, you see.” She beamed a proud smile.

“Alrighty, then. So, who’s the other pack that stole what’s-her-name, and why’d they even do it to begin with?” Iax asked.

She’d done a quick, not-so-thorough inventory of herself. Every time she hop-scotched-it-through-time, she always had several supplies and was dressed in appropriate attire pertaining to the situation she’d be facing. And, though her supplies were always somewhat meager, they had saved her ass before. It was far better than nothing at all.

Rummaging around inside the large, lightweight pack that was strapped on her back upon her arrival, she found familiar, yet equally disgusting packets of ‘puke-powder’—Yum!—ick, was more like it. They were the kind of ‘meals’ where you simply add-water-and-eat. The nutritional value was unmatched. The taste? Not so much. Again, they’d saved her life in the past and were kind of better than nothing. Still, it was some of the most rank, nastiest shit Iax had ever consumed, which was saying a lot considering the woman had traveled the world many times over, and had vacayed in several Realms of the various alternate Dimensions.

As always, she also found pre-filled vitamin packets, all ready to go. Some of the buggers were huge, but they kept a person healthy. Who knew what you’d come across in a place like this? Health was all important.

The pack also held your basic, standard-issue military eating utensils; a metal plate, cup, fork, knife, and spoon. And there was a Swiss Army Knife with so many goodies in it, she couldn’t wait to play with them all.

There were two canteens shaped sort of like a small laptop, about two-inches deep and made of a flexible, seemingly indestructible material. They could be stored in several different compartments in the backpack, even folded to fit into a pocket when empty, if necessary. She decided the pack had too many little pockets and compartments to mess with at the moment, but she was pretty sure it held clothing, and everything else she’d need to eat, clean, even first-aid herself when need be. And it would be needed, that was a given.

One of the coolest things about these vacays was, all the battle-wounds she received while she was there, disappeared when she finally got home. Ah, home… Iax already wanted to go back. Focus!

Some claim that scars on men are sexy—so why not on women as well?—she had often wondered. To be honest, she had loved a few of her battle-wounds; they were like mementos, little reminders of what she’d done while saving the World and beyond. Some of her missions, though grueling and often deadly, left her full of pride at the end of the day. A few of her scars could’ve told some kick-ass tales. Others? Not so much, as most were nasty and awful, so ultimately, she hadn’t minded losing them.

Realizing Gemma was speaking in her proper, singsong voice, Iax decided it would be a good idea to pay attention. Although, at least a third of what the woman said made not a lick of sense, the other two-thirds was usually imperative.

Taking a long pull from her canteen, pleasantly surprised to find it was still cold, she turned to face a decidedly flustered Gemma. “Sorry Chicka, ya lost me back there. What was that?” Smiling brightly, Iax stifled a laugh at the expression on Gemma’s face. Poor thing, Iax thought, I seriously should stop being rude to her. “I’m sorry. I was going through my bag-o-goodies, guess I got distracted. I’m all ears now, so please, carry on.” Saluting Gemma with a straight face, Iax clicked her booted-heels together, giving the woman her full attention, in earnest.

“I-I was relaying to you the answer to your previous question, Iax. You asked me why Yoren was taken. I was explaining that I do not know the whole of it, yet. If you could simply pay me the courtesy of listening, you would have some knowledge by this time. I do not speak for my own self, you know.” With a resigned sigh, Gemma glanced around, taking in the hot-pocket they had landed themselves in.

“I am sure it has something to do with the fact that Yoren is young and beautiful, therefore, the boss of the bad-beasties wanted her for himself. Such typical male behavior, do you not think?”

Gemma wore a faraway, thoughtful expression that wrinkled her face brought out a few lines in her forehead, and around her pursed lips. She looked rather upset, in general, about ‘typical male behavior,’ yet none of it took away from her beauty.

“You’re on the money honey, men pull some pretty lame shit to get women. I don’t know what the hell they’re thinking. If some Jack-fuck decided he wanted me and I was already taken, he wouldn’t stand a chance. What a dick-move. Stealing me would only serve to piss me off, not to mention my own man, if I had one…” mumbling the last part under her breath, Iax continued, “Look around. Obviously, Yoren’s dude is highly pissed, and I don’t blame him a bit. But all this destruction is a bit extreme. Oh well, I guess to each his or her own, right?”

Checking the scenery once more, Iax shook her head in disgust. Thank God, men on Earth don’t go quite this postal or the entire planet would be disintegrated in mere days over ‘their women’!

She pictured a group of caveman-dudes pounding their hairy, dirty chests, chanting and spewing lame, degrading shit about ‘their women’ while pulling said women around their camps by their long hair. Jeesh! To think, those things actually happened, and to some point they still do to this day. Loons, all a bunch of fuck-tards! Iax huffed in exasperation.

“Lemme get this straight; Gordell and Yoren went up the hill to fetch a…? Pail of something. They turned around, to see on the ground, other badass-beastie dude thinking; Yo Bitch, you don’t need him ‘cause now ya got me, and I’m better. Gordell rebelled, and then decided he’d rather his enemy be dead… er.” Okay, lame, but still some funny shit. Giggling to herself, Iax was unquestionably delirious.

Staring at Iax as if she had totally lost her grip on reality, which maybe she was correct, Gemma slowly shook her head, her expression one of utter disbelief. “Oh, Iax, are you well? There was something wrong with what you just said. Do you not agree?” Her overlarge, violet-eyes looked a bit too concerned as they rested on Iax, clearly feeling sympathetic for her.

Laughing quietly, Iax replied. “Ah Gemma, I’m fine, really. I’m just tired and being a smart-ass. I’m an expert, do you not agree?” Lips twitching, Iax wanted to laugh again but she suppressed the urge for fear of drawing unwanted attention their way.

“Anyhoo, don’t you think we’d best get out of here? Don’t get me wrong, I love what they’ve done with the place and all, but it’s a smidgen hot, I’m tired, hungry, and we need to go somewhere safe so we can make a plan. What say, let’s boot-scoot and get the hell outta here? Or maybe ‘let’s get outta hell’ would be more àpropos.”

Iax did laugh at herself then, quietly as possible. Gemma shook her head again, her long, silky, molasses-colored tresses gliding over her shoulders and bouncing softly around her face. She even wore a half-smile on her mug, finally. There was no doubt for even a moment that this job could and most likely would get dangerous, but there was no rule saying they couldn’t at least try to keep up their lively spirits during the interim.

“Perhaps you are correct, Iax. And, yes I agree, you are quite the expert smart-ass.” Gemma quietly laughed at herself.

Iax thought those words just sounded wrong coming from the exotic, proper, ladylike Gemma, whose looks totally belied her persona. She could kick ass, and never pulled any punches.

After re-strapping her pack onto her back and glancing one last time around their surroundings, Iax took another swallow of the heavenly water before re-stashing it. Helping Gemma up off her rock, they started out in the direction behind them, toward the nearest mountain.

The entire mountain terrain was covered in thick trees, most of which were still intact; only a few here and there had become collateral damage in the fire-throw-down.

Iax was thankful when the temps dropped enough so she wasn’t sweating any longer while they continued to climb. Then once it became noticeably cooler, she was thankful again as she pulled out a lightweight, yet warm jacket from her pack. Shrugging into it, they took a much needed break.

After drinking from her cool canteen, she wiped her refreshed mouth on the back of her sleeve—no one ever insulted Iax by accusing her of being a lady—then she reached out and offered her canteen to Gemma.

All in all, it took two solid hours to complete their trek up through the densely populated forest to the mountaintop. From there, the view was astonishing. The Dragons had settled, at least for now, probably temporarily out of fire. Too bad they couldn’t just plug-in somewhere for a quick recharge, Iax thought with a chuckle. She was in desperate need of sleep. Her thoughts were just too silly especially for her, and her brain kept taking timeouts.

“Gemma, how much further are we going? I’m so tired I think I could sleep standing up. And these new steel-toed boots are kickin’ my ass. I’ve got some killer blisters on my heels and a few on my toes. Cool kicks and all, but owe! Please, tell me we’re close?”

Gazing out around them as she whined, which bothered her ‘cause Iax don’t do whining, she suddenly recalled another question she had for Gemma. “This is probably a stupid question, but are the Dragons all shifters? I know in the past all the ‘creatures’ we’ve encountered have been, but those guys are enormous! How in the hell does a mere body transform into something that big, then back into a regular body again without it killing them?”

She sat on a fallen log, removed the offending boots from her much abused feet, and waited for Gemma’s answer.

Gemma was, as usual, already gathering flowers and things sprouting from the ground. Experience reminded Iax of the stuff Gemma could make from the natural habitat wherever they were, and how much better it tasted than the nasty ass puke-powder. Always smelled better, too.

After a few moments of silence, Gemma joined Iax on the log, procuring her finds into a leather pouch secured at her waist. Gemma wore all leather, and not that modern-day, treated crap, but the roughhewn, quality stuff from way back before ‘back in the day.’ Not to mention, she was a knockout; rockin’ bod, all that thick, silky hair, gorgeous features, beautiful voice, and her eyes! Violet freakin’ eyes! Gemma was a five-feet-ten-inch-tall package of perfection.

Iax wasn’t lacking, not in the least. Standing a proud six-feet tall with long, wavy, golden-blond hair, bright green, almond-shaped eyes, and a flawless complexion. Her thick, pouty, raspberry-shaded lips accented her heart-shaped face.

As for her body, well she’d always been proud of that. Iax worked hard to attain and maintain her form. She wasn’t heavily muscled, but exceptionally strong, nonetheless. Her long, shapely legs and arms were smooth, sculpted from perfect muscle tone.

She tried to keep a good tan; one never knew where they would be from one minute to the next, so it was only wise in case you ended up in a place with no protection from the sun. Getting sunburned always put a damper on one’s mood and ability to keep oneself alert and alive.

Together, they equated two super-smokin-hot-babes. Iax smiled to herself, she’d have some serious competition if Gemma lived in the modern world with her. Not that she ever minded some healthy competition, but still.

Gemma’s voice brought her back to reality. “Yes, all the beings here are Dragons and shifters. I do not know the makeup of their genetics, nor do I pretend to know how they do it, as you said, being so large as their Dragon, then regular sized in their human-like form.” She shrugged a shoulder. “We shall arrive at a small building soon, it is not far now. We can make our plan, and eat, drink, sleep, or whatever else we may require. I studied the area before you arrived, and I believe I have an accurate account of the landscape. Also, I believe I may know where Yoren has been taken to. If we can get her back, it will halt this warring.”

She smiled at Iax for a moment before noticing the blisters on her feet. “Oh, my! Here, let me help you. I have just the thing to give your poor feet some relief. I am sorry, I did not realize you were in so much pain.” How sweet, Iax thought. They did hurt, but nothing she couldn’t handle. Still, the relief was a welcome offer.

“Thanks Gemma, I’d appreciate anything you could do.” Iax watched Gemma pull out a short, rounded, corked jar from her pack. Removing the cork, Gemma reached three fingers in and scooped out a large amount of some pasty-looking ointment. Iax reached over to take it into her own palm, but Gemma gestured for her to turn around, indicating that she preferred to apply the stuff on Iax’s sorely blistered feet. With a shrug, Iax complied.

“Ahhh, thanks a bazillion times over, Gemma. Whatever’s in your stuff took away all the pain and the blisters even look better. You’re awesome.” Only minutes after Gemma had applied her gunk to Iax’s blisters, it was as if they had never even been. Iax excitedly re-donned her socks, pushed her now happy-feet back into her boots, and they headed off to find the small building.

**Contents Copyrighted 2011 by Theressa Branham**

Prologue

Thirty-Four Years Ago

Date: December 25, 1977

Time: 04:48 Hours

Place: Virginia Hospital Center—Maternity Ward

601 South Carlin Springs Road, Arlington, Virginia, USA

World: Planet Earth

To witness their stillborn baby girl being taken away as if she had never even been, made today the worst day of his entire life. His love, his reason for living, would have such a difficult time after this. He would too, yet he would cope. But with the whole ‘maternal-instincts’ thing and all, it had to be much harder for a mama. Especially one who’d been trying so hard, and patiently waiting like a Saint, for this very day. Now, he was unable to erase the last few moments from his mind’s eye; probably never could….

“Oh, I can’t. I-I… just… can’t…” she quietly cried out, her weakened voice trailing off. Huffing and puffing, she was unable to bear down or endure the excruciating pain for another moment, as absolute exhaustion finally took its toll. Only moments later, she felt herself fading away and welcomed the heavy pull of a beautiful, unconscious state-of-oblivion.

For him, thirty-one year old David Conifurr, the love of his life lay unmoving in her sterile hospital bed. He was amazed she had lasted even this long. Elise Conifurr was frail and worn-out, even at her young thirty-years of age. Her pregnancy had been… complicated, to say the least. Even though they knew from experience the risk they’d be facing, they’d had to try again.

His still magnificent bride of just over ten-years had been looking forward to this life changing event; the moment when she would finally bring their perfect, precious bundle-of-love into the world. He knew she longed for the loving bond one has with their own child; they both did.

From their first meeting, that moment when he had gazed into her vivid, dazzling hazel-eyes, he knew without a doubt, she was the one for him. Not only was she his other or better half, but his everything; the air he breathed, and the sunshine in his darkest of times. He was a man blessed, and knew how fortunate he was to have her in his life. But he’d also always felt that he wasn’t good enough for her, not by an extremely long shot.

Standing next to her bed, gazing sadly yet fondly down on her unconscious form in the unfeeling hospital room, he cried silent tears of the deepest sadness he had never known. And it hurt—literally—as if his heart and soul were being torn into two pieces. His chest was squeezing, iron fingers gripping around his heart, tighter and tighter to the point he felt the pain grow and worsen. Clutching at his chest with one hand, while still holding her petite, beautiful hand in his other, he willed his pain to subside, and hers, too.

Elise had done everything as right as anyone could, to ensure each pregnancy would be successful, only to suffer one miscarriage after another. Oh, of course, she would act as if it never hurt too badly, but he knew it had to hurt. It did for him, and he wasn’t even the one who had to go through the physical parts of it all. However, he did feel each loss deeply.

And, when she had actually carried their child to eight and a half months this time around, nothing could have dampened her joy, her absolute, utter jubilation over her dream—their dream—coming true.

To see this happen, though, David was afraid for her and what she may, or may not do, as she dealt with their loss. Even more frightening, would she try something crazy, such as try to take her own life, or maybe even his? Or possibly even both of theirs?

David didn’t, and couldn’t know. But he could, and did pray; he prayed for God to comfort and get them through this together.

He knew that all-too-often, after a couple suffered this kind of loss they drifted apart or at least the majority of them did, eventually going through an ugly divorce. He couldn’t live without her, he also knew.

So he continued to pray, it was really all he had left.

 

**Contents Copyrighted 2011 by Theressa Branham**


Hi all, Ressa Empbra here.

Imagine, if you will, one of our independent books becoming the next big thing. It’s always possible, of course, but the secret to best-seller success is to ensure that a book has a good combination of the following: 1: Amazing story-line. 2: Well written. 3: Placed into the hands of the right readers. 4: Promoted and marketed to the right target audience in a consistent manner. Blog hops offer the opportunity for authors to focus on the last two.

This blog hop consists of hopping from one blog to another, and discover new works of literature, as well as works in progress. As a blog hop participant and/or visitor, it’s almost impossible not to find some fantastic works of fiction that you will hopefully enjoy. Some of which are still being written, whereas some are just being released. I would like to thank Scott Prussing, for inviting me to participate.

In this blog hop, each authors answers a few predetermined questions, which will reveal bits and pieces about their current novel or their next big thing. As always, I not only welcome but encourage comments, feedback, and any questions you may have.

Below, please find a list of the authors-bloggers I have tagged for next week. Stop by their blogs next Wednesday, November 14th, to read about their works in progress and/or new releases:

List your five selected author’s:

1. Karen Dales

2. Elizabeth A. Lance

3. Tianna Scott

What is the title of your new release? The Dragon Dimension (Caught in the Dragon Cove)

Where did the idea come from for the book? My mind.

What genre does your book fall under? Science Fantasy (and yes, it does exist, lol, look it up).

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Ooh, great question! I’d choose Jensen Ackles to play Mazar, my male-lead, but I’m not yet sure who could play Iax, my female-lead. I’ve actually been thinking about this lately, just for kicks. :D

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? That’s impossible but I’ll try: Hot dragon-male-shifters, kick-ass independent females, adventure, action, steamy passion, emotions–both good and bad–and even humor; it’s like the spaghetti sauce TV ad says, ‘It’s in there.’ Now you’ll have to get a copy to appease your sudden curiosity.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I self-published just over a month ago.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Just over three months, and it’s approximately 446 pages long, and only available in Kindle version for now. I’m diligently working on getting my print copy out. I can’t wait to hold my own book in my own hands, and with such gorgeous cover art (thank you Dave J. Ford) I hope others will also purchase this book. You won’t regret it.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My new release has recently been compared to The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. Talk about the mother of all compliments!

Who or What inspired you to write this book? Nothing, really. It just came to me.

What else about your book might piqué the reader’s interest? Readers have all had one comment in common; my story makes the unbelievable seem possible. And that the male characters know how to treat their females. Both of those things aren’t always easy to bring together, and I’m grateful to those who say I did, and did very well.

Thank you for checking out my blog. I hope to have much more to add soon.

Today! That’s right, today is release day for The Dragon Dimension (Caught in the Dragon Cove), book one in an epic science-fantasy series. You don’t want to miss this! While you’re at it, check out all the 5-star reviews readers have already posted!

For those of you who have not yet taken a gander at this, my baby, please do. It is listed on Goodreads, and is now live on Amazon, and being a weekend makes it the perfect time to add this to your e-book library. Or to go ahead and grab a copy and read it now! Likes are extremely appreciated, and any reviews are even more so. If you’re able, please post them on Goodreads and Amazon.

Thank you! :)

~Ressa~

Interview with Ellie James, author of the Midnight Dragonfly series, conducted by Angela McCuen, from Mystical World of Books on Facebook.

Ellie:  Hi, Angela…thank you so much for your interest in the Midnight Dragonfly series, and for these terrific interview questions!

Angela:  First off; when did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Ellie:  I think I’ve always known. I’ve been concocting stories as long as I can remember….I still have several of my earliest creations, such as Monster Falls In Love, and Jacquie and the Swamp. In middle school and high school I was always writing little poems (and even songs!) for my friends, usually about something romantic, and something dangerous! Growing up in Louisiana, my stories always took on a mystical feel, featuring ghosts and danger and all sorts of things that couldn’t be explained, and always, always a healthy dose of star-crossed lovers.

Angela:  Where did you get the idea for the Midnight Dragonfly series?

It was one of those bizarre, unplanned things. A few years ago I wasn’t getting much sleep and woke up one early one morning from one of the most incredibly detailed, vivid dreams I’d ever had. I’d more than just seen a group of teens sneak into an old abandoned mansion–I’d been with them.  I’d gazed into the darkness, and smelled the decay. I’d felt the fear, and the crazy blast of excitement at the prospect of a game of truth or dare.  My heart was still racing when I woke up. The images lingered. I kept thinking about what I’d seen, and from the questions came: What happened next? What if one of the teens was a psychic? What if she saw something…something bad? What if she had a premonition? What if what she saw actually happened?  What if no one believed her, or at least, no one but the last guy she should let herself begin to fall for?

As I answered those questions, the Midnight Dragonfly books were born!

Angela:  What kind of research did you have to do for this series?

Ellie:  Tons! There was research on my characters, with which my nieces (to whom the first book is dedicated) helped me out enormously. I laugh when I think about the random texts they received at all times of the day and night, and graciously responded to, all the way from “what would you say/do if XX happened, to kind (what?) of graffiti is on the bathroom walls at the clubs you go to, to what do you find most romantic in the whole world?

I also did a good bit of research into psychic phenomenon and New Orléans, post Katrina. It was incredibly important to me to paint a portrait of how badly Katrina hurt New Orléans, but also the resilient spirit of the city and the people, and how rebirth and rebuilding is everywhere. As it turned out, resiliency, rebirth, and rebuilding became powerful themes throughout the series.

Angela:  What does the dragonfly amulet symbolize & why did you choose a dragonfly?

Ellie:  It’s one of those serendipity things, actually. I didn’t sit down to write a series with dragonflies playing a key role. But during the first book, Shattered Dreams, I needed Trinity to receive a talisman that belonged to her mother, and the image of a dragonfly popped into my mind. I began researching dragonflies and was blown away at how mystical they are, in particular, how they represented existing in two realms at the same time–and dreaming. For my teenage psychic, who communicates with The Universe through her dreams, this was PERFECT.  A lot of this is explored in the third book, Fragile Darkness, particularly a Native American legend about what dragonflies really are. :)

Angela:  Are any of the characters in the MD series based on real life people?

Ellie:  I think there’s little bits and pieces of real people in almost every character I write. It’s not a deliberate thing; it’s just the way characters evolve. I did give Trinity my birthday and made her an Aries, and I do have a lot in common with her, but at her core, Trinity is based on my amazing niece, who I call my daughter from another mother. It is she who insists that Aunt Sara is one-hundred percent me. I didn’t necessarily intend that, but now that my niece has pointed out the similarities, I can see them. As for the guys…aspects of Chase come from guys my niece has dated. And Dylan, well, Dylan is drawn from the qualities I love about a very special guy in my life. :) And then there’s the villains. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying: Warning: Not only can I put you in my book, but I can kill you, too. :)

Angela:  I know you have written under the name Jenna Mills. Why did you decide to change your name for these books?

Ellie:  Its kind of like Bath and Body Works versus Victoria’s Secret: Did you know they’re the same company? There’s some overlap between the two, but the Parent Company wanted each brand to have its own unique identity. This is the same philosophy at the root of Jenna Mills versus Ellie James. My Jenna Mills identity was a well-established romantic suspense brand. My YA novels, while incorporating many of the same elements—mystery, suspense, romance—are targeted to a different audience, so we decided it would be a good idea to create a separate brand and completely delineate the two offerings.

Angela:  What authors are your idols and/or mentors?

Ellie:  Soooo, so many. Early on it was Judy Blume. Later, Stephen King slipped in to dominate the mix. I love the way he does freaky. And I love the way Nora Roberts does relationships. I’m a big fan of thriller author Linda Castillo, and YA author Suzanne Collins. And then there’s JJ Abrams; he’s not a novelist, but he writes TV shows and movies, and wow, do I love the way he tells a story.

Angela:  Where does you inspiration come from for writing?

Ellie:  Everywhere. There’s barely a day I go through when a situation or scenario doesn’t cause my mind to wander, and my imagination to soar.  I have an ongoing Note on my phone where I’m constantly jotting story ideas and question, character profiles, even dialog snippets. I’m a huge What Iff-er, and a huge believer in following your dreams,—my dream has always been to tell the stories that play through my mind. I have a plaque in my office that reads: You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. That totally resonates with me. You have to try. If you don’t, you’ll never reach your full potential, and you’ll never know what could have been. Each of us is capable of extraordinary feats.  I had no idea what, exactly, to expect when I began exploring the stories in my head (and my heart), but I knew the only thing worse than failure was never trying.

Angela:  What is your favorite book?

Ellie:  The Stand by Stephen King. I love the scenario. I love the drama. I love the characters. The human struggle. The story of good versus evil. Of survival…

Angela:  In the MD series, Trinity has visions. Do you believe that there are people who have the same ability in real life?

Ellie:  I don’t simply believe that—I know it. I have so many firsthand examples, it’s impossible not to believe. When I was fifteen weeks pregnant, a friend “who knows things” told me I needed to prepare myself because my baby would be born early, very early. She told me he was a boy and had an amazing sense of humor and a will of iron, and that he would be okay. Smiling, she tongue-in-cheek warned me about how his bigger-than-life personality would simultaneously turn my life upside down and light up my world.

Two weeks later, at a routine sonogram, the doctor pulled back and informed us of a problem with my pregnancy, gravely warning us that in all likelihood the pregnancy would terminate. I was oddly calm, and refused to believe any of his grim assessments.  My son was born early (30 weeks at less than 2 pounds) but he stunned all the doctors and thrived, and he’s now an amazing, rambunctious four-year old, whose bigger-than-life personality has simultaneously turned my life upside down, and lit up my world.

I could give so many other examples–dreams of family members passing away, and of planes flying into skyscrapers,—I’m absolutely convinced there is far more to the human mind and existence, to our abilities and the invisible bonds that connect us, than Modern Science is able to explain.

Angela:  Just for fun, what is your most quirky habit?

Ellie:  Ummmmm, you really want to know?  I think it’s a tie: I don’t mix my food. Ever. I, um, pretty much eat all of one item before moving onto the next. Even with salads. I’ll eat all the cucumbers, then the tomatoes, then the olives, before finally eating the lettuce. I crack my husband up. :) The other is…my closet. I color code my clothes, and arrange the colors from light to dark, starting with the whites and ending with the blacks. I, um, basically thought everyone did this, but in college I learned that wasn’t the case. It still baffles me that people don’t. I mean, it’s so much easier to find what you want when everything is organize. :) :) :) Yeah, I know. OCD, a little?

Lol! Well, there you have it folks!! Thank you so much for doing this interview Ellie!! You have given us, especially me, a real in-depth look into who Ellie is and what the Midnight Dragonfly series is all about!! I especially love this series and it has been really awesome to be able to jump into your brain and learn how it all came together!! Below is some more info about Ellie James, such as where you can follow her on Facebook, and info on the second book, Broken Illusions. Be sure to check it out!! :)

~Angela, Mystical World of Books

About Ellie James:

Most people who know Ellie think she’s your nice, ordinary wife and mom of two young kids. They see someone who does all that normal stuff, like grocery shopping, walking the dogs, going to baseball games, and somehow always forgetting to get the house cleaned and laundry done.

What they don’t know is that more often than not, this LSU J-School alum is somewhere far, far away, in an extraordinary world, testing the limits of possibility, exploring the unexplained, and holding her breath while two people fall in love.

Regardless of which world Ellie’s in, she loves rain and wind and thunder and lightning; the first warm kiss of spring and the first cool whisper of fall; family, friends, and animals; dreams and happy endings; Lost and Fringe; Arcade Fire and Dave Matthews, and last but not least…warm gooey chocolate chip cookies.

You can follow Ellie on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Midnight-Dragonfly-Books-by-Ellie-James/154988421236309

Her current book, the second in the Midnight Dragonfly Series, BROKEN ILLUSIONS, is available from Griffin Teen May 8, 2012.

About the Midnight Dragonfly Series:

Glimpses. That’s all they are. Shadowy premonitions flickering through sixteen year old psychic Trinity Monsour’s dreams. Some terrify: A girl screaming, a knife lifting, a body in the grass. But others–the dark, tortured eyes and the shattering kiss, the promise of forever–whisper to her soul.

They come without warning. They come without detail.

But they always mean the same thing: The clock is ticking, and only Trinity can stop it.

Find out how in Broken Illusions!

I give Stephen Hise‘s Upgrade a 4.5 Star Review!

 

This e-book came to me as a freebie, and along with many others I received around the same time, I filed it under “read and review soon,” then forgot about it. I tend to do that; forget everything all the time. Lucky for me, I made that list for just that reason so I can check it occasionally and read a couple of them while I’m at it. I am soooo glad I finally did!

Upgrade begins with a man who has it all; social status, money, brains … oh, but wait! He’s not good-looking by any measure. As he does every day, Brent Schoenfeld gazes out his second-floor office window to watch all the people milling around at lunchtime on the sidewalks. And, as he does every day, he notices the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen; a stunning blond with sexy legs wearing a tasteful, yet enticing red dress. If only… he’ll never be so lucky.

Out of desperation to be noticed and maybe even turn a few heads, Brent goes to a doctor who promises a procedure that will be life-changing. No scalpel, sutures, recovery; sounds like the perfect way to become attractive. The doctor explains how everything will work, and how beauty such as the kind he is seeking is merely a state of mind, so to speak. He goes on to describe how a tweaking of asymmetries in the face can trick one’s mind into seeing a person in a wholly different way.

Of course, Brent begins to rethink his decision. He is paying this overly confidant doctor a million dollars, after all. The entire thing just doesn’t sound like it’ll actually ‘change’ anything, therefore, how will it make a difference? How will he ever be one of the desired people he’s always longed to be? Brent decides to give himself over to the slightest chance. It couldn’t make things worse, could it?

After women obviously begin to notice and even flirt with Brent, he figures his cool million was a wise investment. He had left the doctor’s office extremely skeptical when he awoke from the procedure, only to see himself in the mirror exactly the same as he had been beforehand. The good doctor assured him there would be significant changes in his life, and that people would see him as attractive now. He was right.

The whole dating scene is new to him since he’d never been a good-looking man, so he does what every other red-blooded man would; he goes out. A lot. He even does a few one-night stands enjoying this new lifestyle, and how women are falling all over themselves just to spend a little time with him. As for that hot-blond? He even ends up spending time with her, and couldn’t have been more happy.

You know how they say power can ruin people? Well, it can, and does. I’m not giving away any more of Stephen Hise‘s fabulous story, because you need to get yourself a copy and read it. I was shocked at the ending! I’ve read many books that end in a great cliffhanger or just a well thought out ending, but this one will blow your mind!

Upgrade isn’t a terribly long read, but the impact it’s had on me is immense! Stephen Hise is one of the most articulate writers I’ve ever had to opportunity of reading, so pay attention or you might not understand some of the doctor speak. I found myself thinking he could be right, and wow! The brain truly does work in bizarre ways!

While you’re online buying a copy of Upgrade, you should also swing by http://www.indiesunlimited.com/ a very informative website where Stephen is a full-time contributor. All the people there do a wonderful job keeping the site going with posts that I’ve found to be insightful and helpful.

Happy Reading!

UNDER CONSTRUCTION:

Good evening all of my amazing followers~

 

I just wanted to let you know that I am thoroughly redoing my blog, so those of you who receive emails will probably get several over the next few days. This is just a heads up to let you know, and hopefully you’ll not ‘unfollow’ me because of it. I’ve already picked a new theme, but now I have to really tweak everything else so I can hopefully make my blog work for me, and more like a website than just kinda sitting and looking so plain (like it has forever). I hate that all of my chapters are out-of-order, and whatever I post last is the first thing everyone sees, etc., so I’ll be finding a way to remedy those annoyances. I hope you’ll all stick around, as the final product is really gonna kick some blog ass!

 

Thanx in advance!

 

~Ressa~

The Dragon Dimension – Caught in the Dragon Cove – by Ressa Empbra

Synopsis

Her… with bright-green eyes~

Working for a covert government agency, Iax travels the world… and beyond. She also journeys out of this world to other Realms in various Dimensions, which only a privileged few have knowledge of. Her job: Putting a halt to imminent battles and wars… before it’s too late.

Finding herself dropped into a heated battle in the Dragon Cove Realm of the Dragon Dimension, Iax assumes the usual; get in, get the job done, get out. Easy-peasy…

However, this mission is like no other, as it will change her life in ways she could have never imagined. Upon seeing the male she’s been sent to take down, a myriad of feelings – emotional and physical – overwhelm her. She never wanted a relationship; no time, no need for drama, nor desire… until he rocks her world.

Iax is headstrong, stubborn, and tough, but that may not be enough to fight a compulsion strong enough to set her aflame, mind, body, and soul. Logic and determination can’t always overcome what is genetically predetermined.

Him… with deep-emerald eyes~

A stalwart warrior and fierce Dragon-shifter, Mazar has served his Weyr all of his overlong life. Now he needs, with a crazed, burning passion, to find his Truemate, as the torments his unmated-kind suffer for so long are corroding his mind…

Kidnapping another Weyr Chief’s Truemate – an offense punishable by death – seemed like the perfect solution… at the time. But she is not his Truemate, the only one who can bring him relief. Worse, he has endangered his Weyr. What’s left of Mazar’s honor demands he make amends and accept his punishments.

His Weyr Chief may call for exile… or death. He will not fight it, knowing full-well that this most heinous act warrants his fate…

On his way to place his destiny in the hands of justice, fortune hands him the most painful irony. Mazar spots her; an odd, unfamiliar female upon a cliff-top. But how could it be, after so long, that his Truemate appears the very day he resigns himself to death? Can he fight it? Should he even try?

Them… together, Dragon-forms swathed in gold~

Join Iax and Mazar in the first instalment of The Dragon Dimension, as they battle logic, emotion, fate, and… themselves.

Get Caught in the Dragon Cove, where secrets and tempting passions lurking just out of sight, are all revealed…

**Contents Copyrighted 2011 by Theressa Branham**

Caught in the Dragon Cove

Chapter Four:

Want. Her. Back. Now!” Gordell roared in the cave where his warriors had gathered. His deep, parched voice boomed in all of their ears, and practically made the stone walls vibrate. Over two-hundred of his warriors sat around the raging campfire gaping at him as if they were scared to even breathe.

Gordell Rhaumonesthius, Chief of Weyr Rhaumonesthius, was a formidable male. Standing an intimidating six-feet-ten-inches tall with broad, bronzed-shoulders as wide and solid as a medium-sized boulder; anyone would have to be insane to court his wrath.

Thick, raven-black hair hung straight reaching the lower part of his back. Long, thin warrior braids trailed down both sides of his usually handsome face, which was currently formed of rigid planes and stressed angles. Though he was covered in black soot from that morn’s battle, his perfect bone structure was ever-present, lending to his looks that every female always took notice of.

Gordell’s usual demeanor was a pleasant one; almost everyone enjoyed his wit, charm, and humor, but at present, anyone whom would attempt to approach him would be a fool. He darted his cold, deep-blue gaze around the cave daring anyone to say anything wrong. Simply one wrong word, and sadly, it would most likely be their last as such a brazen fool would not live much longer.

This was a side of Gordell almost nobody had ever encountered. He had never had any reason to be so riled, so thoroughly angered, before this day. Sure, he had a temper and, yes, most certainly they had all seen it before. But this? This was downright terrifying. Then again, this was about his Truemate, his beautiful, loving Yoren.

Gordell and Yoren had known each other all of their lives; grew up together, had the same friends, even their families had gathered for fun as well as fought at each other’s backs. They always knew they were meant for one another, and just had their official Mating Ritual less than one year ago. Also, though no one else yet knew, Yoren was carrying his youngling.

If any harm came to either of them… he did not even want to contemplate such a thought. May Meynix—their Goddess—have mercy on the fool and any of his conspirators for their unforgivable actions against his Yoren and their youngling! His fury ratcheted up another notch. Anger, resentment, fear were all eating at his insides like acid dripping through his veins. Not fear of the situation—never that—fear for them; his female and their youngling.

He had never experienced such potent emotions, and Gordell found he did not particularly care for them, either. He was too angry, too emotional. Such feelings would only serve to complicate things. But, how was he supposed to tamp them down? If he did not, he knew all-too-well he could become reckless, a terribly dangerous thing for a warrior.

Is that what the bastard wants from me? Did Mazar want Gordell so out of his mind, so crazed with emotions he would fail due to his own madness? That could not happen. If it did, he would never see them again, alive or… no! No more thinking along those lines.

He would construct a plan of action; not just attack, but action. One that would ensure the safe and swift return of his female and youngling back into his life, his care. He shook his head at himself. ‘His care’? Apparently, he had not done a highly commendable job of caring for and keeping her safe, or this would have never happened to begin with.

Shaking his head again, this time trying to dispel those thoughts, this was the worst position Gordell had ever found himself in. Again, he did not particularly care for it.

As High Commander of his troupes, he had orchestrated countless battles, never losing a single one. He had never been bested. He had taken some hits, of course, even some near fatal blows, but he always bounced back. Even on his almost-death bed, he had never felt as helpless, as vulnerable as he did at this moment.

No, this should not have happened and now it was up to him to fix, and see that it never happened again. If only he and his warriors had been faster. The other Weyr warriors had been plenty quick as they went about the business of taking his Yoren. It was only due to Gordell’s First and his unerringly accurate senses that they even knew what was happening when they did.

The abducting cowards had fled but many of them had fallen back, ordered to watch for anyone attempting to cease their efforts. Only problem was, his Yoren was long gone, way ahead of the Dragon-shifters he and his warriors had battled with. And right here, in my own territory!

The firm, always calm voice of his First brought Gordell back to the present. “Gordell, might I speak freely?” He probably should say no. Gordell was certain Darkan would say all the right things; things he, himself, should be thinking right now. Of course, he had never been this far gone, either, so anyone else would probably make considerable sense at this point.

Heaving out a long sigh, Gordell replied, “Yes, Darkan. Help me see reason or anything which may help make sense of this atrocity, if you can.” Taking a seat on the cave’s hard dirt-packed floor, he grabbed a wooden mug of fire-brew; only the best for he and his warriors. The brew burned a fine path all the way through your body beginning in your throat, not ending till it hit your toes. He could think of nothing better at the moment, so he drank long and deep, waving his other hand toward Darkan in a gesture for him to speak freely.

Darkan cleared his throat. “Let me begin by offering my apologies for allowi—”

“Do not blame yourself for this! If anyone is to shoulder the blame, let it be known here and now in front of everyone, it is me who carries this burden. No one but myself. And I may as well put it out there now, my Truemate is carrying our first youngling. Proceed, but be warned; no more of that,” Gordell bellowed.

Collective grunts and gasps of disbelief resounded from all around the cave. Gordell knew this would happen and now all of them would go crazed, just as he had. But it was best for them to know.

Gordell raked them all with one sharp glare, his goal achieved by the warriors immediately toning their voices, quietly chattering to and over each other for a moment. After another moment, everyone realized Gordell and Darkan were both glaring daggers at them. A few roughly mumbled apologies were voiced before silence ensued once more.

“My thanks for your attention. This news changes much. It has been an unwritten code for all of time that no harm will ever come to a female unless she has been taken for law breaking, or some other type of punishable offense. Now that the youngling has been announced, this is even more serious. Nobody is ever allowed to harm a youngling, especially while it is still in the mother’s womb. I believe it is safe to assume that Yoren and the youngling are whole and hale as we speak, and will remain thus. Mazar may as well have forged his own death order just by taking Yoren with the youngling growing inside her.” Scrubbing a large, soot-blackened hand down his tired, equally grimy face, Darkan took a few deep breaths attempting to calm himself. “We know where they are, or at least the general area. Do any of you know specific details of their claim?”

Every Dragon Weyr had a large territory, whereupon, they may choose any part of it to stake their main claim; the village area and where their Chief’s holdings would be available to all. Whoever did not wish to reside in or near the main claim had the option to choose another area, as long as it was within the borders of the overall territory.

Much of the outer-territory—the parts where nobody settled—was where livestock grazed alongside other animals. Many were used for continual breeding, but the majority were slaughtered and used to feed the entire Weyr no matter where they were, as long as they remained within the main territory borders.

No matter where they live out their overlong lives, most remained with their family and other Weyr members in the same area. Dragon-shifters lived for at least one-thousand years, but some—the extremely strong—lived even longer. Many fell in battle as there always seemed to be one raging somewhere in the Dragon Cove Realm.

Most males were fierce warriors, having cut their teeth on the practice field. Being a warrior was the highest, most coveted and respected position one could have bestowed upon him. If they were fated to fall in battle, that was also highly respectable.

There were accidents, nobody could fully avoid them, but it did not happen often to a Dragon-shifter. Beside the fact that there was no honor, whatsoever, in death-by-accident, it was also possible merely to be marred, crippled, or worse; death would be a welcome alternative to certain ill-fates.

When an unmated male was not engaged in battle, he was helping his father and mother to care for their homes and families, hunting to keep the Weyr fed, and doing necessary repairs and such around their homes.

Hunting was always a pleasurable sport. Any male worth his scales as a warrior was an exceptional hunter. Not only did it keep their families and Weyr members fed, it also kept their fighting skills sharply honed while they were not battling. A win-win for all.

Darkan was recalled to earlier years, back when Gordell and Yoren had been younglings and grown into their adolescent stages, then into adulthood. They were birthed in the same year, a particularly telling sign and rare happening. He was older than them by merely fifty-four years, but it certainly felt much longer at times. Especially times like these.

He had always felt protective of all his Weyr members, but those two had niched out a special place deep inside Darkan’s heart. That was why he had no reservations when Gordell had called upon him to be his First, his right-hand warrior, brethren to their Weyr. To fight directly at Gordell’s back in battle, help draw up battle plans, even simply to spend time around the two, and help keep the entire Weyr in check.

They needed someone to do it, and Darkan was the best. Having served Gordell’s own father before him for a time, he was the ideal candidate for the position. Now, with the abduction of Yoren and the coming youngling he would be expected, and rightly so, to come up with the best plan, and then carry it out to perfection. He knew by the expression Gordell had been sporting on his puss since this all began two-days ago, his expertise would make or break Gordell. He was more than up for the task.

“No replies? Has no one anything to add? I was certain at least a few of you would know something of their territory. All right, let me think.” Darkan raked his hand through his hair a few times, tousling it more with each pass. The male looked awful, he needed sleep, food, and time to think clearly. But, he did not have time for such luxuries at present, there was too much yet to do. He was surprised when his Chief next spoke, and at what the male said.

“Darkan is right, no harm should dare come to Yoren or our youngling. Without rest and food, none of us will be any good for anything, only liabilities to ourselves. Everyone go home, clean and rest up, then let us all meet back here at sunrise. My thanks to you all, too, as those two mean everything to me.” With one sharp nod of his head, Gordell left the massive cave to seek his quiet, lonely, overlarge home.

****

“You are not stupid enough to believe you will truly live through this, are you, Mazar?” Yoren had been throwing those kinds of words at him since they abducted her. Two. Days. Thence. His head was throbbing and he was seriously considering begging Gordell to take her back, to forget the entire, blasted event had ever happened.

No harm had, nor would come to the female. She was beautiful and smart, all the things a strong male looks for in a Truemate. But, her mouth needed to learn how not to work itself so! She had aggravated him more than anyone he had ever known, and that was the truth. He had no idea she would be such a chore to have around. In fact, he had thought she would be pleasant to look at, maybe even a little fun to tease. He could not have been more wrong.

“Do you always speak so, Yoren? Does Gordell allow you such verbal freedoms? If so, he is a fool!” Mazar shook his head in disgust.

He and all his fellow-warriors who had gone with him arrived back at their territory only moments ago. The other warrior’s females—quiet and obedient females—had readied baths, prepared foods, and were not bothering any of the males. Exactly how good females should behave.

In reply, Yoren merely gave him a scathing glare, shook her head, and grumbled words under her breath.  Though he could not make them out, he was positive they were not things any female should ever be allowed to even hear, let alone repeat! She vexed him, and he knew if he didn’t make his way away from her, he feared he may explode!

Although he did not understand nor believe how she acted, Mazar had to admit she was tough. She had been dragged along through rough terrain and braved the heat without a single complaint about either circumstance. But she was still impossible.

He and his fellow-warriors had secreted Yoren away into a small, empty shack near the back of their village. He wondered now, why she was not being louder, wailing and squawking as she had on the journey back here, ensuring her grievance was clearly known to all.

Has the female figured out that I did this whole thing in secret, and merely awaits the perfect moment to take someone unawares and scream? Or cause a disturbance knowing she would be saved and sent back to her Weyr and Truemate? he puzzled. What will I do now? He should have never entertained the idiotic notion of abducting the female. His and Gordell’s Weyr had never been especially fond of one another, but they had never battled, either. They simply had left each other alone. What have I done?

During trading and other necessary Weyr business that had him traveling to other territories, he had seen Yoren from a distance many times over the years. He always noticed a radiance about her, a smile which sparkled in the light. Her long, flowing, silky tresses looked as if they had been spun of the purest gold. Her soft laugh which echoed and bounced off the mountains framing the valley her Weyr lived in.

After hearing the news that she and Gordell’s official Mating Ritual had taken place less than a year ago, Mazar was peeved beyond measure. Why should Gordell have her? He already had the best territory, the finest warriors, and the most faithful, loyal Weyr members. Why did he get her, too? Even knowing how wrong it was, Mazar had snapped and decided to take Yoren to have for his own.

Females always did as they were told even if they did not like it. They did not have to like it; they only had to do it. Or so he thought. He cursed a string of self-loathing words in his native tongue. Yoren’s head shot up and she glared at him as if he had personally insulted her. What is the matter with her? And for her to think she has any rights? Surely she errs and is not allowed to behave so at home? Surely! Females never acted out thusly! 

Grumbling under his breath, Mazar got up and walked at a fast clip, seriously reconsidering what he had done as he kicked rocks all the way to his home. He knew it was wrong while the plan was being carried out, but could not help himself. He was beyond tired of waiting.

Male-Dragons sometimes had to wait many lifetimes to find their Truemate. Until they did, after reaching full adult maturity, there was a horrible, constant buzzing noise inside their heads, and they could rarely sleep. Even if they did, it was always a fitful, terror-filled sleep.

A male had to kiss a female to know if she was his or not. If she was, the buzzing would cease, and they could start sleeping at their next bedtime. What would one not do to attain such an elusive peace? What would a male not give for such a blessing? Although Yoren was Mated to Gordell, Mazar simply could not accept it. He was older than them, had waited longer, he deserved happiness and a certain measure of peace.

The worst part of this atrocity was, Gordell never suffered any of the discomforts of having to wait. He and Yoren had been born the same year and grew up together. Mazar had been told that Gordell placed a chaste kiss on Yoren’s lips when they were still very young. The buzzing did not even begin until a male was full-grown. The bastard had not suffered a single day!

Upon entering his humble home, he expelled some of his frustrations by kicking the entry-door harder than he probably should have. Trying to quell his rage before it thoroughly consumed him, Mazar went directly to the counter and poured himself a cup of fire-brew. Drinking it all down without stopping, he slammed the wooden cup down on the counter hard enough to crack its surface, making him even angrier at himself. He did not have much, but this was his home and he was proud of it.

It seemed that he was most definitely losing his mind and had been for a long time now. He just needed the buzzing to stop, and some real sleep. Was that asking too much? Have I not always been an asset to this Weyr and always treated them all well? He was not the Chief, but he did rank higher than most—did—being the operative word. After the Chief found out what he had done, he would be punished, stripped of his position, and most likely become an outcast; a laughingstock. And who even knows what else? He may end up dead, too. Along with his fellow-warriors and closest friends who had gone along with his stupid idea.

Mazar flung himself down into a wooden chair at his table. Was there a way to get Yoren back to Gordell and forget this whole thing happened? Shaking his head at his own ineptness, that was a joke. This news, if it had not already, would spread quickly throughout the Realm. There would be other Weyr backing Gordell in a massive hunt for Mazar’s head. Maybe he should just give it to them.

What a way to live… he had to think. After another drink. It would help quiet the buzzing in his head, calm his thoughts, and tame his inner animal. It had to. He got up so fast he knocked his chair over backwards and snorted in self-disgust. He went back to the counter and upended the jug of fire-brew, not stopping until it was empty.

****

Sighing, Yoren lay back on the filthy fur a male had thrown at her from the door of the sparse, one-room shack they had just placed her in. Her wrists throbbed and burned from the rough-rope Mazar had bound them with. The dried blood itched, and being in her carrying state, her wounds would take longer to heal; pity, that. Something she had always taken for granted—until now. She tried to find comfort in several positions, but it was no use. One of the males had at least retied her hands in front of her, as they had been behind her back since she had been abducted.

“Oh, Gordell, how did this happen? Where are you? You must hurry! I know you are coming for me, but hurry. Our youngling will not survive much of this abuse,” she said aloud. She could take it, but not their innocent unborn-youngling. She had been fed but not much nor well. Their kind had exceptionally healthy appetites and now that she was carrying, it had almost doubled. Her stomach tighten and growled loudly just at the thought of food.

Fighting back the tears threatening to break her spirit, she closed her eyes, willing herself to sleep. It did not work.

What was Mazar thinking? He had to know he would never get away with abducting her. Perhaps he had gone quite mad; she had heard tales of male Dragons doing just that if they never found their Truemate. She had never witnessed or even given it much thought, but if this is what their madness caused, she felt a small twinge of sympathy for them. She knew she was getting under Mazar’s skin and most likely driving him even madder. What did he expect?

She neither had, nor would ever do anything to harm another soul, and she most assuredly did not deserve this. And now that she was carrying her and Gordell’s youngling, she was afraid for the first time in her life.

****

Yoren was on a footpath which ran from the back of their holdings to the small village where many traveling vendors had set up their wares just the day prior. She knew of a female who traveled a long way to hock her silks and other fine fabrics, said to be the most beautiful in the Realm. She wanted to purchase a variety of them to sew blankets and clothing for her youngling. The nursery had been coming along quite nicely, and Yoren could not wait to decorate the walls and furniture her father had already been building. This was supposed to be the happiest time of her life.

As she walked along the footpath singing quietly to herself, she heard the sound of twigs snapping, but did not give it any real thought. There were always harmless animals in the woods minding to themselves. Younglings often played in the woods, too. She thought that was all it was.

She turned her attention back to the path she traveled on when suddenly, and completely unexpectedly, all the breath was knocked from her lungs in a rush as something large and heavy hit her from behind. She found herself lying face down on the footpath surrounded by several rough-looking males, not from her Weyr.

“So finally, she leaves the safe, protected walls of her holdings. Alone. Not a very smart thing to do, now is it, Yoren?” Mazar sneered the words from behind her, then reached down and roughly yanked on her arm to turn her over so he could see her face. She was shocked at what she saw; he looked crazed, filthy, and quite scary.

She had seen Mazar before but never up close. She was also told of his name, but never gave him any thought. Why would I? She had Gordell, the love of her life. She did not want, nor did she need to be thinking of other males. She simply never did. Mazar has to have a Truemate of his own. What is he doing here attacking me? she wondered. How could he have known Gordell and his warriors would be gone this day?

Stiffening her spine and letting her temper flare, she spat back, “How dare you attack me? What do you want? You must know Gordell will skin you alive and roast you on a spit when he hears of this!” Yoren was usually mild-mannered and friendly but this was going too far, she felt this warranted unleashing her always well-controlled temper.

“Ah, yes… your precious Gordell. And where is he now? Should your almighty male not guard his female better? Obviously he is so overly-confident, he feels no harm would ever come here to his own territory. Would he not at least set a guard around you, his ‘Truemate’? Perhaps he does not love you as much as you thought.”

Yoren shuddered inside at the hate she felt coming off of Mazar in thick, hot waves. What has anyone here done to rile him? She had not heard of any grudges or problems which would precipitate such blatant disregard and animosity towards her Weyr.

She realized quickly she would be unable to fight her way out of this situation. There were too many of them, and she was carrying. It would be best to keep that bit private for now, she decided. Furthermore, she would do anything to protect her family, including letting this crazed-male abduct her, if it would keep him from harming her and in the end, their youngling.

Feeling sick to her stomach, she wanted to retch. But that would show weakness, and she was not weak. Gordell would come for her; he would kill for her… for their youngling.

****

Bringing her mind back to the present, Yoren stifled a moan as she rolled from her back onto her side. There were no windows in the shack where she was being held prisoner. If there was, she could at least see the stars which always soothed her. She knew if she could only relax a bit, she could sleep. She also knew if she could sleep, she would be stronger and this ordeal would not be so hard on her body.

Why did I not pay more attention to my surroundings? She should have known when her instincts made her stop at hearing the twigs snap, something was amiss. Dragon-shifters had exceptional instincts and they were raised never to ignore them. Since she had been carrying their youngling, however, her mind seemed to go its own way often. Her current decision making abilities left much to be desired. She simply could not concentrate well of late, and that had been her downfall.

The only thing keeping her together now was, she knew with all she had that Gordell would come for her… them. If it was only her, she would have already fought back—most likely to her own death—but she would have at least made the attempt. Alas, she would never do anything to put herself and their youngling in danger, not more than they already were, so she had succumbed to Mazar’s madness.

What does this all have to do with me? She did not truly believe he would let real harm come to her. He had to know her abduction was already severe enough, but harming an innocent female and an unborn innocent was the lowest of lows. Until now, only she and Gordell knew of their coming youngling. Her and her Truemate had wanted the announcement to be a private affair, a celebration with only family and close friends. Too late now. Surely everyone knows now, since the abduction? 

Only a few youngling were born into each Weyr every year, and some mated-pairs waited lifetimes to create new life. Females were treated extremely well, as if they were as fragile as the younglings they carried. They were pampered and taken exceptional care of by all, even their enemies. Therefore, just the injuries on her wrists—cuts, rope-burns, and bruises—Mazar was already begging for death.

Deciding to reflect upon treasured memories, times when she and Gordell were younger and he was always near, Yoren closed her eyes once more. She was exhausted and kept minding herself that she must sleep, or she would have a much harder time of it here; away from her Weyr, her home, and her Gordell. And it helped, as she finally dozed off and allowed darkness to envelop her

**Contents Copyrighted 2011 by Theressa Branham**


Review by my friend, J.P. Grider, and amazing author of Unplugged (A Portrait of a Rock Star).

The Dragon Dimension – Caught in the Dragon Cove

Ressa Empbra‘s, The Dragon Dimension – Caught in the Dragon Cove is a unique and suspense-filled paranormal read. Her characters, though supernatural, were ironically real and easy to connect with. It was compelling and forward-moving, keeping this reader’s interest at every twist and turn. I commend Ressa Empbra for fabricating such original and refreshing characters, as well as unparalleled story lines. Ms. Empbra makes the impossible seem possible and in an ever-increasing market for the paranormal, I see her rising to the top with her characters emerging as the next TV series/movie franchise ensemble.

Iax Sarvias Eluhyax is born in the Amethyst Faerie Dragon Dimension. Orphaned shortly after, she is brought to Earth by the Outer Worldly Operations Unit of the CIA, to be raised as a human, by Special Agent David Conifurr and his wife, Elise.

Iax grows up to work in the same business as her father, traveling to different realms and dimensions, though never knowing when she’d leave one dimension to visit another. Her abilities to travel through space and time are as frustrating to Iax as they are thrilling, yet her traveling companion, Gemma makes it all worth while. Iax could not exist without her ever-proper bestie. And though Gemma is certainly more reserved, she complements the lovable foul-mouthed Iax. Their banter and friendship add both comedy and natural tenderness in an otherwise unnatural existence.

Journeying through the Dragon Cove Realm on a mission to rescue the kidnapped, pregnant Truemate of Weyr Chief, Gordell, Iax and Gemma find themselves caught in challenging predicaments. One of which finds Iax crazy in lust with the gorgeous dragon-shifter, Mazar. Heavily opposed to falling in love and giving up her independence, Iax fights her growing lust when she realizes her emotions travel deeper than a superficial attraction. Iax is falling in love…but she MUST resist.
And just when Iax thinks she had seen it all, she is made aware of a secret kept from her for her entire twenty-four years.

I enjoyed being caught in the Dragon Cove, as I am sure you will too. You will be amazed at Iax’s resilience to this newly uncovered secret and you will cheer with her as she fights the enemy while also slaying her own damn emotions and foul-mouth. You will laugh, you will cry and you will love Ressa Empbra’s, The Dragon Dimension – Caught in the Dragon Cove. Soon to be released.

I give Unplugged (A Portrait of a Rock Star), by J.P. Grider a 5-Star Review!!

J.P. Grider‘s writing style as well as her character and story-line development are amazing! As her characters came alive right away, it was easy to click with each one, and that’s not always an easy accomplishment for a writer. I believe J.P. Grider is another up and coming author who will go the distance, and I for one, cannot wait to read more of her works! It’s not often that I re-read any book, but I have already read Unplugged twice, it’s that addictive and I just can’t get enough! I’m sure I’ll read it more in the future!

Tagg Holland is a washed-up, self-destructive, retired Rock Star. He feels that the tragic events of one fateful night are his fault, and he carries the burden heavily on his shoulders, alone. After he quits his band, Holland, Tagg goes into seclusion to grieve and drown his guilt in booze and drugs, and he feels it only fair after the tragedy he thinks he caused.

He allows himself to pack on the pounds, lets his once-gorgeous hair grow ratty and not appealing in the least, and grows an excessive amount of truly unattractive facial hair. Why? Because, even though he doesn’t get out much, when he does, he has absolutely no desire to be recognized as the once-hot Tagg Holland, former Rock Star. And, because that would be too easy; it would allow him to get on with the business of living again. It might also force him to cease his reclusive ways and actually look forward to something. Anything…

His dad pushes for Tagg and the band to reunite and go back out into the world again, to live. But he doesn’t want that because he feels he is one of the most undeserving screw-ups in the world. That is, until his mom decides to put her foot down and gives him little choice in the matter of cleaning up his act. Little does anyone realize at the time, but that just may happen, in the literal sense.

When a petite young woman with huge, familiar brown-eyes shows up on his doorstep informing him that she will be his personal fitness trainer, things begin to change. Emotions, feelings, and things Tagg never wanted to deal with again seemingly begin to look like real possibilities. Ones that may just be feasible, if only he would open up and be more accepting. As things start to take a new shape in his life, he begins to realize the self-imposed, lifelong guilt he was not willing to give up, might be ready to give him up…

Eventually, Tagg comes to see that he’s been missing out, letting life pass him by. And even though he never thought it was possible, he feels a powerful longing to live again. To love again. To just be again.

This is an awesome read and if I keep going, I’ll tell you the whole story. What fun would that be? Exactly, lol. I recommend this book to anyone who has ever given up, or even toyed with the idea. And to those of you who love to watch people bloom, to feel their emotions come alive, and to see the character’s lives take a huge turn that will have you laughing, crying, and rooting for an HEA for Tagg Holland; washed-up, has-been Rock Star.

Will he reunite his old band? Will he ever give his heart permission to open up and love again? You’ll have to buy a copy of Unplugged (A Portrait of a Rock Star), by J.P. Grider, to find out! You won’t regret it, this is an awesome book!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,343 other followers

%d bloggers like this: