Here’s the latest installment in Cecily’s story! Make sure to check out the giveaway below! Enjoy!
Leaves rustled in the grove, their movement a gentle whisper in Cecily’s ears. She trailed her fingers against the prickly tree bark as she passed. Her senses seemed heightened, aching, sharp – which was funny. She knew she was dreaming. She looked around in wonder as luminous green leaves shivered on the branches, golden streams of light flowing through their veins.
There was that voice again. She whipped around, pushing back the silky ebony tendrils of her hair. “Yes? What do you want?” She stepped forward, the grass a cool, prickly carpet under her bare feet. “Hello?”
The trees darkened, their shadows edging into relief. The wind rustling through leaves and flowers lowered to a gentle murmur, then went silent.
“Hello?” She squinted. The end of the tree grove loomed in total darkness.
“To where?” The grove ebbed away as she moved, surrounding her in darkness. “Hello?”
She whirled and was blinded by harsh light. She threw an arm over her eyes, and the light enveloped her, surrounding her before settling into a glowing warmth in her chest. “What do you want?”
To finish what was started so long ago. The voice began to fade along with the light. Cecily, time is running out.
Cecily’s heart began to race as an inexplicable sense of loss washed over her. “Wait! Where are you?”
I can only be found by those untouched, and only in an untouched place.
The brightness dimmed until only the soft glow in her chest remained. Cecily swallowed against a lump in her throat. “But where is that?”
Find me, Cecily.
“Wait!” She stumbled forward, but the light disappeared. Weariness washed through her. She fell to her knees and scrutinized the soft pulsing glow in her chest, slightly above her heart. What the hell was that?
After a moment, she pressed her lips together, stood, and stretched her hands to guide the way in the gloom. Eternity seemed to pass in darkness with only the soft glow coming from her heart to guide her. Cecily stumbled, searching for the way back to the grove. Some time passed before she felt the ground tremble. Her heart skipped a beat, and she picked up her pace.
The tremor increased and she moved faster. What was approaching that would make the ground shake like that?
Soon, the quaking grew until the ground was shuddering. Cecily broke into a blind run, arms flailing in the dark.
A chuckle rumbled behind her.
Oh, no. That voice was familiar. She looked back and swallowed a scream. Sahak.
“You can’t run from me, little mix-breed.” His eyes glowed amber. “You can’t run from yourself.”
Cecily stumbled and caught herself as Sahak tramped toward her, his form morphing from human to dragon. “No! Please!” She swallowed another scream as his jaws opened wide, his entire form glowing red with heat.
“You can’t run from this, little mix-breed.” His voice was guttural. “You will be bathed in fire.”
Cecily screamed as white fire encased her, melting the flesh from her bones.
“Cecily, wake up!” Something gripped her shoulders, shaking her.
She threw her arms out, struggling to run from the fire searing her skin.
Tara. That’s right. Tara had spent the night. Cecily shuddered and pushed up on one elbow and rubbed her face. “I’m fine now, Tara.”
“Are you sure?”
No, she wasn’t. The dream had been as bad as any flashback she’d ever had. She nodded anyway, still bleary with sleep and bad dreams. “Yeah. I am.”
“All right.” Tara sent her a concerned look. “I’m going to head down to the kitchen and fix you breakfast.” She moved to the door. “Anything you want? We need to head to school soon. Daniel left early.”
“Yeah. Eggs are good.”
Tara nodded and left.
Cecily shuddered and fell back against the pillow, listening as Tara’s footsteps moved from the room and down the hall. After a second she groaned, pushed out of bed, and pulled on clothes before trudging down the stairs to the kitchen.
Tara looked up from where she sat at the table with two plates of eggs. She pushed one toward Cecily. “How are you feeling?”
Cecily sat and dug into her food. “I’m fine. I just-”
Someone knocked on the front door, and Cecily paused. “Who could that be?”
“Derek maybe?” Tara suggested.
Cecily shook her head, pushed her plate away, and stood. “Derek meets me after school now. He hated scaring everyone.”
“So that’s why he and Tariq don’t attend school anymore?” Tara picked up both plates and took them to the sink.
“Yeah, pretty much.” Cecily walked to the front door and cracked it open.
A man in a dark blue uniform stood on the porch holding two envelopes. “Are you Cecily Burns?”
“Yes.” She swung the door wide and accepted the envelopes. “Thank you.”
He turned away and Cecily closed the door. What could these letters possibly be? The last time she’d used the messenger service, she’d applied to Lymans, the closest university to the Emery Ville enclave. One of the letters must be a response, but why were there two?
She tore open the top letter, read the first paragraph, and her heart lifted with relief. She’d been accepted to Lymans! At least now she’d be able to stay at the university closest to their home. When she graduated, she’d be able to find a dragon-run business nearby so she could keep an eye on Dad. Once Daniel went on to New Oxford, it would just be the two of them. She frowned. But what was the second letter the messenger had given her? She tore open the envelope, unfolded the letter, and read the first paragraph. Her fingers went limp and the paper slipped to the floor. Tara came to her side and sent her a questioning look, but Cecily gave a quick shake of her head.
The soft, shuffling sound of her father’s footsteps paused on the landing above the foyer. “Cecily? Who was that at the door? Is something wrong?”
She stiffened. “It’s nothing, Dad.”
“Yeah.” She retrieved the letter from the floor, then folded both invitations and stuffed them in her pocket. “I’m sure.”
“Well, when you’re ready to talk about it, let me know.” His footsteps faded away.
“Yeah.” Cecily motioned for Tara to follow, then turned to climb the stairs to her room, thinking hard. She’d always agonized about Daniel getting out of Emery Ville. She’d always worried that with his grades he wouldn’t escape the fate of humans considered unworthy to serve dragonkind. Tender. Earth-worker. She hadn’t wanted that for him. She’d studied hard and worried more for Daniel than for herself, because she’d always known her grades would get her into Lymans.
She’d always planned to attend there because Lymans was close enough to visit Dad. She’d never expected nor wanted to be offered another choice. There was no way Dad could survive by himself. Not just that, what about this new change she had just gone through? She wasn’t even sure what it meant. Who knew if some other weird thing would happen to her? Derek would have to hide her with magic all the time! Why had this letter come now?
Cecily entered her room, grabbed her backpack and books for school, and stuffed the two acceptance letters in her back pocket, ignoring Tara’s curious look. “Let’s go. We’ll miss school if we don’t hurry.”
Tara nodded, seeming to understand that Cecily needed to think.
Cecily’s chest tightened as they continued downstairs to the front door. She’d been invited to New Oxford, the same university Daniel would attend on his sports scholarship on the east coast, a school she hadn’t even applied to.
She didn’t notice as the two letters sticking out of her back pocket caught in the door jam on the way out.
It’s been a long journey for The Dragon’s Call series.
As you can see above, the book (poor thing!) went through a couple different looks before I arrived at the cover it has today. The oldest cover is the gray-tint filtered cover which I created on an old version of paintshop pro. It’s not the best cover, but what I loved most about it was the model (who I wish I had been able to contact to utilize her photo in other cover projects) and Derek’s emerald dragon eyes. Whenever I think of Derek, those eyes on the first cover, are the one’s I see ^.^
The second cover was donated to me by Niina C, a talented cover design artist, and the third and final cover I slaved over for days created and absolutely love ^.^
So, as you can see – Cecily and Derek’s story is no stranger to change. Keeping that in mind, I’m still completing the WIP that was going to be called Dragon Kin.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned in prior posts, while part I (Dragon Kin) was long enough to publish, I wasn’t certain if part II (The Dragon Throne) would be long enough to publish alone. This led to some consternation on my part because I had originally imagined Cecily’s story as a trilogy not a duology.
However, after some editing and rewrites – and attempting to combine both books, I’m at a word count of just over 70,000. Now, although I’ve not finished writing – I still have some key scenes and chapters to write before I’m anywhere near done – any writer can tell you that even 95k words is not enough to split into two separate novels.
So, I came to a conclusion ^.^
The sequel to The Dragon’s Call will be The Dragon’s Throne.
The temporary place cover I had been utilizing will be altered to a finished version that better represents the new title and the story’s completion.
Speaking of which, if you’d like to get a whiff of a couple chapters – check it out HERE.
And make sure to join in on the giveaway below ^.^
I’m also sending out a request, (for all those who would love to be involved,) for honest reviews of the book. If interested, feel free to download the book, and you can post your reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes&Noble, or Kobo.
If you see any other books of mine that you would like to read (for free) and review (for you bibliophiles out there,) feel free to send me a note ^.^
So, because I would like the book launch event and the audio book debut to be fairly close together, I’ve pushed back the date of the event, and extended the date of the giveaway until 7/11/15. This will give me enough time to get the audio completed and out by the time the event occurs ^.^
Wish me luck , pick up a limited-time FREE COPY of the book, and make sure to check out and sign up for the giveaway below!
“Tariq and I think that I can hide Cecily’s appearance.”
Cecily watched as Derek addressed her father, leaning forward from where he’d sat on the couch, his elbows propped on his knees. Tariq was leaned against the wall behind the couch where Derek sat, his arms crossed as usual. Daniel was leaning against the window with an arm around Tara, and Cecily still stood in front of her father.
He hadn’t said anything since he’d seen Cecily’s face, and his gray eyes held a tired, sad look. After a moment, his gaze pulled away from hers to meet Derek’s and Cecily’s shoulders fell. She didn’t know what to think. Dad hadn’t said a word to her. Was he disgusted?
“Are you sure? How?” Her dad’s voice was low.
Derek hesitated, then spread his hands. “Magic. Dragon magic. I think I can cover her with a glamour that will disguise this change.”
Cecily watched as her father gave a slow nod and fell silent. After a moment, the silence grew awkward and the tension in Cecily’s shoulders increased. She knew it. Dad hated dragonkind, and now he would see her as one of them. Tears began to burn behind her eyes and Cecily blinked hard. The silence lengthened until she couldn’t stand it. “Dad, I know how you feel about dragonkind. I-”
“No.” Her dad’s voice was rough. He stood, limped toward her and placed both hands on her shoulders. “Don’t you ever think I would love you any less.”
“Dad-” Cecily had to stop. The tears burning behind her eyes slipped down her face.
He gripped her shoulders tighter. “No, Cecily. I love you. You and Daniel are my children and always will be.”
Cecily inhaled a shuddering breath. “So you don’t hate how I look?”
He pulled her into a rough hug. His voice was shaky when he spoke. “Cecily, you are as beautiful as your mother. Never think otherwise.”
Derek hesitated. “Cecily reminded me of something the Queen said awhile back.”
Cecily’s father went still, then limped away from Cecily, and sat heavily in his chair. “They called us kin.”
“But if my change is because of that, why didn’t you or Daniel change?” Cecily shook her head. “It doesn’t make sense.”
The room fell silent.
Finally, her father exhaled. “I blame myself for this.”
“What?” Cecily looked up in surprise. “Dad, this has nothing to do with you!”
He pressed his lips together. “It does. Remember that I told you before I could feel something different about you, something more?” He lowered his gray eyes, staring blindly at the floor. “The day I took you to the clinic for healing after you were injured, you were able to break away from the gaze of the dragon at the clinic. And every day you felt more and more like your mother-” He shook his head. “I was the one who insisted you see Derek in his natural form.” He lifted tired, gray eyes to her moonlit gaze. ” I was the one who insisted you hear him sing the Call.”
Derek leaned forward. “You think her change might be an effect of hearing the Call?”
Her father gave a weary nod. “You probably remember that I suspected she would gain some kind of protection against dragonkind.” He exhaled. “I just never imagined it might have an effect like this.”
Tariq pushed away from the wall and placed his hands on the back of the couch where Derek sat. “He might be right, Derek.” He sent a nod toward Cecily. “I think it’s time she tells us everything so that you may tell them the rest.”
Cecily sent Derek a questioning look. “What does he mean?”
Derek met her gaze, frowning. “Tell us everything that happened right before you noticed this change first.”
Cecily shook her head. “I wasn’t the one who noticed the change – Tara was.”
Tara looked embarrassed. “Cecily had fallen asleep in class, and the teacher had been trying to wake her for at least five minutes. Then suddenly, she started to glow.”
“What?” Derek interrupted. “How? In what way?”
Tara shrugged. “It was like gold was lighting her up from the inside. When it faded,” she motioned toward Cecily, “she looked like this.”
“Do you remember anything, Cecily?” Derek asked.
“Yes.” Cecily hesitated. The last thing she wanted to recount was the flashback she’d had. She’d been able to hide them from her dad and Daniel, and she didn’t want her dad stressed out about her when he still struggled with his own flashbacks. She would never do that to him. Especially now that she understood what he went through.
“Don’t be afraid, Cecily.” Her dad’s voice sounded low and comforting.
Well, she could tell him about the dream, at least. She exhaled. “I dreamed about a grove filled with golden light. The light filled me and burned. Then it faded.”
“That must have been when you started glowing!” Tara interrupted.
“What happened next?” Derek asked.
” I heard a voice. Someone called me.”
“Called you?” Daniel sounded alarmed.
“He said his name was Calliope. He said that I needed to find him before it was too late.” Cecily folded her arms around herself at the memory. The next part had felt too real, too painful. Almost as bad as her flashbacks. “Then Sahak showed up and attacked me with dragon-fire.”
Tariq’s hands squeezed the back of the couch, his knuckles going white, then pushed away as he moved back to lean again against the wall. “I don’t know, Derek.”
Derek glanced at him and shook his head. “I don’t know either.”
“Don’t know what?” Her father crossed his arms. “What is the rest of what you and Tariq mentioned?”
“The rest is that I don’t know how well a glamour will hold.” Derek spread, then clasped his hands. “We have to keep in mind what Queen Saranyu said about your people and mine. Whatever she meant by you, Cecily, and Daniel being ‘kin’ might effect the spell I lay.” He shook his head. “Our powers work very well on dragonkind and humans, but we’re not really certain what you are.”
Her father gave a slow nod. “So this might or might not work.”
“Yes,” Derek said.
Cecily shook her head. “Trying something is better than not trying anything. Let’s just do it.”
Derek glanced at Tariq, who shrugged. Derek gave a short nod and stood. “All right.” He motioned Cecily over. “Stand here.”
She moved from the center of the living room to where Derek had indicated. “Now what?”
“Now, be still. You might feel a little strange, but don’t move.”
Cecily nodded and watched as Derek’s green eyes closed and he slowly raised his hands. A gentle breeze brushed through the room as emerald and jade sparkles of light burst into appearance from his palms to his elbows. Swirling around his wrists, the emerald light thickened until it was a spinning blur. Derek’s green eyes opened and he lifted his glowing hands and placed them above her head, then slid them down her face, neck, and shoulders. Beads of sweat grew on his forehead and his face held a look of fierce concentration as he bent to slide them the rest of the way down her torso to her hips, legs, and feet.
Finally, Derek pushed wearily to his feet and stepped back, stumbling slightly.
“Derek!” Cecily caught his hand and moved to his side. “Are you okay?”
Tariq moved around the couch to join them, and Derek held up a hand and shook his head. “I’m fine. The spell was harder than I thought it would be is all.” He tilted his head and looked Cecily over. “It looks like it worked, though. How do you feel?”
“I feel fine.” Cecily touched her face. “I look the same?” She sent questioning glances to her dad, Daniel, and Tara.
Her dad pushed out of the chair and scrutinized her, then nodded and looked at Derek. “That’s some pretty potent magic. Looks like it took a lot out of you.” He paused. “How long do you think you can hold this?”
Cecily turned to Derek. “Do you think it will hold until school ends?” She hesitated. Even after school ended, she would still need to be hidden to attend Lyman’s – if they accepted her. How could she ask Derek to hold this magic over her when it had clearly drained him just to place the spell? She could never put him at risk. “That’s a really long time, Derek. Maybe I should give up on my dispensation-”
“No.” Derek’s face hardened with determination. “You’re not going to be a slave to dragonkind. I’ll hold it as long as needed.”
Cecily hesitated, uncertain. “If you’re sure-”
“I’m sure.” Derek’s tone was final.
“Well, this has been fun,” Tariq said, “but Derek and I really should head out.” He indicated the sky outside the window. Evening had deepened into night.
Tara came over and nudged Cecily. “Is it okay if I spend the night?”
Cecily made an affectionate face. “Of course.” She moved to touch Derek’s arm as he walked slowly from the living room to the foyer. “Derek, I don’t like how-”
“Don’t worry about it, Cecily.”
“Shh.” He pulled her into an embrace, and pressed his lips to her hair. “It’s going to be okay. I promise.”
Cecily relaxed against him. “All right, but if the spell starts to really hurt you, promise me that we’ll think of something else.”
Derek smiled and pulled away to follow Tariq out the front door. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Cecily.”
“Derek-” Cecily huffed, but Derek and Tariq shut the door as they left.
“What do you think my dad will say?” Cecily leaned forward to look past Tariq in the front seat. Her family’s little yellow cottage crouched in a yard full of bright, waving foliage and flowers as Derek pulled to a stop at the curb.
“Dad will be okay,” Daniel said from Tara’s other side. Tara was sitting between him and Cecily in the rear of the car. Trying to pile all six of them into the five-seater had been very uncomfortable, and Solon had opted to walk home instead.
“Don’t worry about Dad,” Daniel finished.
Okay? Dad was going to take one look at her and freak. Cecily didn’t say anything and exited the car, waiting for the rest to join her.
Tara climbed out, came to Cecily’s side, and laid a hand on her arm. “It really will be okay.”
Cecily sent her a tired, disbelieving smile. “Why didn’t Cassia come with you and Solon?”
Tara froze for a moment, then looked away. “She didn’t feel comfortable riding in the car with Derek and Tariq.”
Cecily gave a small nod. “If Cassia is still afraid of dragonkind, how do you think she’s going to feel when she sees what I have become?”
Tara fell silent and Cecily turned her gaze back to their tiny house surrounded by plants, flowers, and trees.
“Come on, Cecily.” Derek came to her side, put an arm around her waist, and guided her through the front yard and up the stairs of her front porch. “Let’s get inside before curfew hits.”
She glanced up at the sky and nodded. The orange, pinks and reds had deepened into the darker purples of evening. The edges of the sky were already the deep black of night. Curfew was officially over. “All right. Let’s go inside.” She walked inside and paused in the foyer, waiting for them to join her. “Dad?”
“In here, Cecily.” Her father’s voice sounded as though it came from the living room area. “You and Daniel are late. It’s past curfew.”
“I know, Dad.” She hesitated and glanced back.
Tara and Derek moved up to join her, and Daniel brushed past to walk ahead of them into the living room. Tariq entered behind them and shut the door before folding his arms with a stoic expression.
“Dad, sorry about that. Something happened today and we were a little late getting home. Derek and Tariq gave us a ride,” Daniel said.
Thank goodness Daniel was speaking up. Cecily resisted the urge to hunch her shoulders and followed Daniel into the living room.
“All right.” Her dad’s voice sounded deliberate, patient. “So, you’ve established there was a reason. Would you two like to let me know what, exactly, that reason was any time soon?”
Cecily opened her mouth to speak and was about to step forward, but Derek shook his head and moved ahead of her to greet her father.
“Mr. Burns, before we let you know what happened, I want to assure you that Tariq and I will make certain no harm comes to Cecily.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Her father’s voice, dry before, turned hard.
Cecily huffed, frustrated. “You guys are just scaring him.” She pushed around Derek and Daniel and walked into the living room. Her dad was sitting in his chair, his arms folded, and the brown skin of his forehead crinkled. She moved toward him and stopped as soon as he saw her face and went still.