Hey guys. Skyborn is the first book in a new series for me. It will be available December 28th exclusive on Amazon. Here are the first two chapters to get you excited <3
A Dragons and Druids Saga
By Leia Stone
Skyborn – Dragon shifters.
Earthbound – Druids.
Sorcerer – Witches diluted with human DNA, but purebloods still exist, although it’s rare.
Animal Shifters – various human/animal shifters of all different Earth-type animals.
Faery- Land of the Fae that is long dead and forgotten.
MY FEET POUNDED the ground as I ran down the secluded street that housed the cabin I had been hiding out in. I thought this plan would have lasted longer, but only two days and the hunters had found me. Dammit! As the rage and fear mixed within me, I could sense my skin tightening, the pearlescent scales forming along my arms. No! It had been two weeks since I’d fallen off of the ledge while hiking the Grand Canyon and ignited some freak power that had shifted my body into a dragon.
Yes, a dragon.
I didn’t know how to control it. I didn’t know how it happened, or if I was living with a really bad case of schizophrenia. I just knew that ever since that day I had been running for my life from these hunters who kept trying to kill me. I didn’t fancy dying at the tender age of twenty-one, so I just kept running. The whizzing sound of bullets snapped around me, only serving to make me go faster.
I let the shift come. It was probably the only way I could get out of here alive at this point anyway. Trying to keep my dragon down in a time like this was painful. Not that I had much control over her at all.
Hah! “My” dragon. Sloane, you’ve lost your damn mind.
“Get her!” one of the men growled behind me, and that’s when I allowed the burning heat along my spine to ignite.
I screamed as my limbs ripped with a searing agony and my bones broke, snapping and tearing; the pain nearly made me pass out. Sweat glistened on my skin as a splitting sensation exploded along my shoulder blades sprouting wings out of my back. Bones rearranged, skin moved, muscle bulked, and in less than forty-five seconds I was an eight-foot-tall dragon with red pearlescent scales that matched my flaming red human hair.
One of the hunters yelled and I looked back just in time to see a black falcon dive from the skies and take a chunk out of one of his ears. Yes! I’d always liked birds—maybe he recognized me as one of his high-flying friends and had decided to help. Either way, he bought me some time. Using my back talons, I leapt up off of the snow-packed ground and took flight. I was a mere two feet off the ground when I felt the slice of a harpoon tear into my wing, piercing the leathery flesh.
A shriek tore from my lungs as the sharp hot pain dug into the rubbery hide of my dragon wing. I frantically flapped, trying to rip free of the harpoon, but with a yank I was pulled hard back to the ground. My body slammed into a bed of pine needles with such force that I heard one of my ribs snap. Dammit.
The hunters had me; there was no getting away this time. As I lay there panting in pain, rage built up inside me. How dare these bastards try to hunt me like a deer! I was a person— Kind of—but I didn’t ask for this freak thing to happen, and how the hell did they even keep finding me? I just wanted to be left alone, but they were always one step behind me, as if they could smell or sense me. I was living a nightmare and I just wanted it to stop.
At these thoughts, a low, deep, pressure built in my belly. One of the black-clad hunters pulled a sharp blade from his thigh holster. He had short-cropped, sandy-blond hair, standing over six feet tall with a muscular build akin to a linebacker; he looked at me with such hate in his eyes. I didn’t understand it. What did I do to deserve such malice? The blade in his hands glowed with a red fire-like hue, and something deep in my gut told me that if that thing cut me, I was done for. As two more of the hunters stalked towards me from each side, the heaviness building in my stomach turned so hot I thought I might melt.
“Get her other wing!” one of the other hunters called in a gravelly voice.
Oh. Hell. No. I would not go out like this, like a freaking animal that posed a risk to society. I had done nothing wrong! I hadn’t hurt anyone! I just wanted to be left alone to figure out what the hell was wrong with me. There was no way I was letting this group of douchebags take me out.
The pressure that had been building in my belly started moving up to my chest, and then to my throat. Pain laced around my esophagus. The burning pressure threatening to suffocate me if I didn’t release it, I opened my mouth and let all of the heaviness that had been building out in one big yell. Except no sound came out, only a bright red streak of fire.
Warm hot liquid shot out of my dragon’s mouth, spraying down the two men advancing on me. Their bodies were doused in hot flames and chaos erupted. They dropped into the snow and started rolling away from me as I fell backward in shock. The force of my fall pulled on the rope that held the harpoon in my wing, making me flinch in pain as the rope pulled taut. I could smell burning flesh and saw that the hunter who had been holding the glowing knife had dropped it when he stumbled back, ablaze, to throw himself into the snow.
Thank God for small favors.
That knife belonged in a really weird kitchen, not in me.
With no time to waste, I yanked hard on my right wing, tearing the harpoon out of the hunter’s hands. The man holding my harpoon let go, stumbling backward, no doubt in fear that I would spray him with fire next. I wouldn’t be able to fly now, not with a broken wing and busted ribs—but holy shit I could breathe fire! Little did these jerks know, I had no idea how to replicate that, or if it could be done back to back, but it seemed like the odds had turned in my favor.
Best to keep that information to myself and let them think I was a fire-breathing badass.
Turning, I planned to continue running, when one of the hunters stepped in front of my path with a huge rock in his hands. His hair was half burned and his face was red and shiny with fresh blisters, but the hatred in his eyes were what had me nervous.
Oops, I pissed him off.
I barely moved my head out of the way in time, and the rock he held crashed down on my injured wing. I let out a shriek that must have been heard for miles. The neighbors would no doubt be coming out of their cabins to find out what sounded like ten cats being tortured. Dragon screeches were a unique sound.
Pain exploded in my shoulder and I realized I had no idea how to fight in this dragon body. Not that I was a prizefighter in my human form, but I could certainly knee these bastards in the balls. As a dragon, I didn’t have arms to punch, didn’t have legs to kick. I only had four clawed stumps that didn’t work as well as arms and legs. I had fire that wasn’t working right now and a busted wing. I was screwed. If this was some really long paranoid delusion, now would be the time for it to stop.
As the hunter advanced on me, my thoughts went dark. Maybe I should just let them kill me, or take me, or drain me, or whatever it was they were trying to do. I was sick of running. My great idea for graduation was to hike the Grand Canyon by myself for five days and this is where it had got me—on the run, and ten minutes from being dead. Ever since the Grand Canyon, I hadn’t slept more than two hours a night without jerking awake from nightmares or paranoia that they were coming for me. I hadn’t eaten much, and didn’t have proper clothes because mine kept tearing when I transformed; I had to steal them when I shifted back.
I had nine dollars in my bank account, no job, and no one I could turn to. This was some messed up weird life I was living and I didn’t even know how it happened. One fall. One fall and I thought I was done for, splat on the rocks; people would read about it in the news. But no, my body … transformed … and this was my life now.
The hunter took two steps forward and I took one step back, looking over my shoulder. Great. I was surrounded. Since when did fire not kill people? Damn snow. The thought did strike me that these guys were un-killable, that they were somehow not human, but I let it go to the deep dark place where I kept those freaky thoughts and told it to stay there.
Just when I had resolved to roll over and let them have me, a pack of … animals … appeared out of the trees not twenty feet from me. I blinked my eyes rapidly; I couldn’t process what I was seeing—a lion, a coyote, a wolf, and a red fox were walking towards me—creeping out in a slow, stalking type of walk, fanning out in a formation that looked choreographed. What the ever-loving hell…? The circus had arrived. I had officially lost it.
If I were a human, I would have barked out in laughter, but in my dragon form a weird snort came out. Running up behind the animals was a tall guy in his mid-twenties with black hair, scruffy stubble, and piercing green eyes. I could feel the heat of his gaze from here. His face was covered in shock as his eyes roamed over my red dragon. Great. The bearded guy had a shotgun in one hand and I wondered who he wanted to shoot first—the circus animals trespassing his property, the weird bleeding dragon, or the hunters with glowing red knives? By the way he was looking at me, it was probably me that would take the first bullet.
Even though I was an eight-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon, I was still a twenty-one-year-old girl inside, and those wild animals stalking slowly towards made me freeze in fear. It was perfect, really. I get killed by human hunters only to have my remains be eaten by a freaking lion. I must have done something really crappy in a past life to deserve this.
The hunter nearest me spun away, facing the animals with his harpoon raised. “We don’t want trouble with your kind. Get out of here!” the hunter yelled, and my vision began to blur. Was he talking to them? Trying to reason with wild animals was even crazier than breathing fire.
A wave of dizziness crashed over me and I looked down to see that I had lost a ton of blood, like a bucketful. My heart raced at the sight of all that thick crimson fluid. Dammit, while the hunters were distracted with the circus was a great time for me to run and get the hell out of here, but I felt like I was going to faint. I just had to be a fire-breathing dragon with no special healing abilities, didn’t I? A defective dragon. Any mythical dragon I had read about or seen in movies had healing powers, so what the hell?
Please, God, don’t let me die like this, I begged in panic. I hadn’t been to church since my mom died of breast cancer when I was sixteen, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask for God’s help now. If the big man upstairs was real, maybe he would have mercy on me. The sudden cracking of bones startled me, until I realized they were my own. I was changing form, back to human. I had zero control over this; my dragon seemed to be the one in control, which terrified me the most. Well, I came into this world as a naked human, best to die as one too.
As my body finished its change, I collapsed naked on the snow and pine needles in a puddle of blood, and looked up at the bright blue sky. That falcon was circling above me, cawing as if calling out to his family. The way his wings gilded across the sky looked so free, and I longed to be up there with him. Damn, the Earth could really be beautiful. Humans weren’t so bad either, although I preferred animals. Maybe if reincarnation was real I could come back as a bird, or even a dolphin…
My mind was going spacey, and I knew with one hundred percent certainty that I was going to die. A wolf growl pulled my attention from the sky to the drama unfolding before me. I watched in fascination as the … pack of circus animals … stalked around me and the three hunters, forming a circle. Make that two hunters; the one who had the knife was definitely burned to a crisp. So they could die? Good to know. One of the hunters, the one with the gravelly voice wearing a ski mask, bent down and picked up the red glowing dagger and advanced on me.
“Keep the shifters out of my way while I finish her off!” he yelled to his partner.
What could I do? The trees surrounding me were blurring at the tips and I knew I was moments from passing out and leaving this body. Still, I’d grown up poor, without a father, and I’d lost my mother at sixteen, so I wasn’t weak. I’d taken care of my dying mother for two years at the tender age of fourteen, until she became a living skeleton and passed away. At that point, you just wanted them out of pain. But I had grown up way faster than the other kids my age and I wasn’t dying now without a fight. I didn’t have it within me to give up. I reached my arm out, blindly grasping until I had the harpoon grasped in my weak left hand. If I was going to die naked in the woods, this freaking arrow was going to be shoved in some douchebag’s eyeball.
I propped myself up on my elbow and raised the arrow at the oncoming hunter like a spear. That’s when the circus attacked. They charged in unison, both horrifying and beautiful. The lion leaped into the air, knocking one of the hunters down. Then the smaller coyote went in for the kill, going right for the throat. I’d never seen anything like it, and my favorite show was Animal Planet. It was as if they shared one mind. The hunters fought back but they were no match for the pack of wild animals.
The hunter holding the glowing red knife screamed as the small black wolf tore into his neck, coming away with a chunk of flesh. I wanted to look away but I couldn’t. I was both terrified and fascinated with these creatures. Once the circus had killed the hunters, one of them, the black wolf, turned on me, approaching slowly with her head down. I instinctively knew it was a female. Or my dragon knew and I got it from her; it must have been one of my new senses. Hardly practical. Hardly going to keep me alive when she attacked me.
“Stay … back…” I fought to speak, my voice deep and warbled. Too must blood lost. This wolf was beautiful, so beautiful that I wanted to reach out and touch her silky black fur. Stupid idea, but clearly my blood loss had taken my brain cells with it.
Then my delusion ramped up a notch. Before my eyes, the wolf began to … transform. Like I did. Her bones cracked and shifted as her body slimmed down, until kneeling before me was a young girl in her early twenties, with long raven-black hair, and a body covered in tattoos, naked as the day she was born.
“What the fu—?” Before I could finish that thought, the darkness took me into her sweet embrace and I welcomed death.
I CAME TO in snippets. First I awoke in a car, moaning; the man who held me was screaming, “Drive faster!” Then I was back out. When I awoke again I was clothed and fighting the strong bearded guy, the same one who’d been holding the shotgun. He was pinning me down, and I panicked, punching him in the jaw. Then I went unconscious again. The last thing I remembered was fighting the raven-haired girl as she helped the bearded guy force me into a cage.
Finally, I felt full consciousness come to me. I sat upright, startled, heart racing and head pounding with an ache that rivaled the one I’d got recently after my twenty-first birthday. I looked down at my body. I was wearing jeans and a flannel button-down shirt; my shoulder and ribs were wrapped in gauze and smelled of some weird earthy paste. My shoulder blade felt like it was on fire, and tears pricked the edge of my vision as I tried to move. Panic shot through me as I saw that I was locked in a steel cage. Just outside was a nearly-empty blood bag and an IV drip line that led to my arm. Oh God. Oh shit. With one yank, I ripped the IV out and looked around, panicked.
“Don’t be afraid. I’m not going to hurt you,” said a deep voice that made my body involuntarily flush with heat.
I looked up and was met with piercing green eyes that were surrounded by thick dark lashes. My hands went around the bars of the cage and I gripped them tightly.
“Says the guy holding me in a cage.”
He was the same guy who’d been holding the shotgun from the woods. He was at least 6’4, standing with his arms crossed, which made his large biceps bulge. His body was packed with tight, corded muscles, and he had a trimmed dark-black beard and shaggy hair. He looked like the spawn of a fireman, a boxer, and a professional model. Alright … not okay to be checking out my captor. Why did all of the hot ones have to be such psychopaths?
Get it together, Sloane.
“I couldn’t risk you running off, and I couldn’t babysit you twenty-four seven. I’ve been too busy making sure you didn’t carelessly lead them to us,” he said with a trace of annoyance.
Hah! I annoyed him? I was the one in a freaking cage! I noticed that he stood in front of a door that was ajar and looked like it led to set of steps. Looked like I was in a basement. Nothing good ever happened in a basement.
Anger flared inside of me, making the pain my body was feeling ebb a little. “Let me out!” I barked, shaking the cage. Was he a hunter? My brain struggled with recalling what had happened—those hunters … I breathed fire … and they almost killed me, but then the animals … the girl, she had changed from a wolf to a person right before my eyes. I would say it was ludicrous, but not after what I knew my body could do. Fear began to saturate my body as I stared at the blood bag and the cage. I was super freaking claustrophobic and had seen enough horror movies to know this ended with me raped or dead. Scales began to appear on my arms as my dragon started to take over, and the guys eyes bugged out of his head. He flew forward with his hands out.
“Stop that! Calm down or you’ll shift and tip off the hunters!” he growled, his pupils forming thin lizard-like slits. What the…?
His words shocked me, they actually shocked me enough to calm me down and the scales started to retreat. What he said … tipping the hunters off if I shifted. Oh my God! It made so much sense! Every time I had shifted to my dragon form, the hunters came! That must be what alerted them. This was crazy. How did he know about that? I took a deep settling breath, looked down, and was happy to see the scales fully gone.
The guy still looked like I had sprouted two heads; he was standing there, mouth agape.
“How do you know about the hunters? And shifting?” I asked.
He was shaking his head, looking off into the distance. “It isn’t possible. You’re not possible.”
Great, he was crazy to boot.
Any hope I had that this guy might be able to help me was dashed. I didn’t know how to respond, so I kept my mouth shut. The guy moved with the grace and speed of a leopard. One minute he was across the room peering at me like I was the most fascinating thing on earth, and the next he was in front of my cage, pulling keys out of his pocket.
I scrambled to sit up, excited at the thought that he might let me go. As he brought the keys into the lock I noticed his black and white checked flannel shirt was rolled up at the sleeves and he had an intricate sleeve of tattoos on his left forearm. In this closeness I could smell him; he smelled of freshly-fallen snow, and earth, of the woods and a campfire on a cold night. A heat uncoiled deep in my belly, bringing a pressure with it that had my legs throbbing. What the hell was going on with my lady parts? This guy was bad news. I needed to get the heck out of here, not be falling to pieces because I smelled him.
He put the key into the lock and then crouched down to meet my gaze, bringing more of his man scent with him, and I actually had to clear my throat to keep from moaning. “My name is Logan,” he said. “I’m going to let you out now, but don’t run. We need to talk, okay? I can help you.”
Sure thing, buddy. Then he unclicked the lock, swinging the barred cage door wide open, and I gingerly stepped out. My muscles were on fire from being cramped in that cage for so long, but I didn’t think about it. I just slowly measured how far it was from where I was standing to the open door. He backed up several steps, seemingly so he wouldn’t spook me, and I met his gaze straight on.
“No one can help me,” I said as I bolted for the open door, faster than I had ever run before. Despite my injuries, I was halfway up the staircase in seconds before I heard him grunt behind me, then his heavy footsteps pounded after me. I reached the top of the stairs and had a moment of confusion as I stepped out into a hallway. I took off to the left, where I could see sunlight, and fear laced through me as I heard the guy right behind me.
Reaching an open living room, I was halfway across the space before he took me down.
“Umph!” I fell to the ground in a thud as his massive body crashed on top of me. His strong arms grasped my shoulders, and in one swift movement he flipped me over so that we were face to face and he was straddling me. I whimpered at the pain his hand caused to my shoulder and he immediately loosened his grip, his face falling.
“I told you not to run!” he ground out in anger. His jaw was clenched, his face only inches away from mine. Warmth spread throughout my body and I felt my dragon rustle inside of me. Heat was pulsing from my belly to my groin and throughout my legs. Jesus, Sloane take a cold shower. What was going on with my body? I couldn’t control it.
Logan paled, his eyes widening as he climbed off of me. What happened? Did he feel that? Shit. Red colored my cheeks, no doubt rivaling my crimson hair.
“Just relax or you will get us both killed,” he told me as he backed as far away from me as possible. He hadn’t yet tried to kill me, so … I slowly stood, favoring my injured shoulder, and watched as his green eyes raked leisurely over my body, making the heat inside of me feel all-consuming.
What the hell was going on? I felt like I was going to start breathing fire if I didn’t cool down. That, or jump this psychopathic stranger right here on the living room floor. Did he drug me? Oh man. I was really losing it; it was so warm in here I thought I might die.
“I need air,” I managed to say as I started walking to the front door, which was now visible beyond him.
He silently followed me, watching me, his body stiff and alert as if he was ready to pounce if I ran again. I flung the large door open, and as I stepped outside my face was blasted with frigid, wonderful, snowy air. Taking huge lungfuls of air, I felt that heat inside of me cool a tiny bit. Thank the heavens. Taking stock of my surroundings, I saw that I was on a beautiful, heavily-treed lot, with only a few cabins visible nearby. It was secluded and the roads were covered in freshly-fallen snow.
It also looked like a house where you would have to scream really loud for someone to hear you.
I spun around to face Logan and noticed the porch I stood on was mammoth, wrapping all the way around to the back of the large two-story cabin. But I could easily jump over the railing if needed.
“Start talking,” I told him. “Because I’m going to lose my shit. I don’t appreciate being caged and experimented on.” So far, he hadn’t tried to kill me, so I didn’t think he was a hunter, but that didn’t mean he was a good guy.
He looked offended, his eyebrows shooting upwards into his messy dark hair. “Experiment on you?”
I pointed to the bruise on my arm where I had ripped the IV out.
He sighed and shook his head, giving me an eye roll as if I was a child having a tantrum and he needed to talk me down. “That was my blood. I was trying to expedite your healing. Something is wrong with you. I don’t know why you don’t heal.”
He wasn’t the first guy to tell me something was wrong with me and probably wouldn’t be the last, but it still stung. I was starting to put things together, and it sent fear and hope through me. “And why would your blood help me?” This creep better not have STDs or anything strange that he just gave me.
He puffed out air and shook his head. “Where do I begin?”
I frowned. “How about with the girl who was a wolf but then…” I let my words trail off.
“Nadine … a wolf shifter,” he said as if it was no big deal.
My mouth dropped open. “Like a werewolf? But…” Okay. Fair enough. I was a dragon shifter, so I guess wolf shifters could be real. I was going to go with the flow, because anything more threatened to take my sanity completely.
“And that’s what you are?” I questioned him, assuming now that he was some big bad alpha wolf with magic healing blood or something, but he just shook his head.
“No. The other animals … work for me.”
“Work for you? What do you do?” Please don’t say you capture dragons and eat them. I took a step back in case that was his answer.
He stood there for forever, unmoving, unbreathing, those piercing green eyes just boring into me. I was about to ask him again when he finally spoke.
“I am a skyborn. A dragon shifter. The last of my kind … until you.”
He stepped closer and his words slammed into me; heat flared to life like nothing I had ever experienced before. I tried so badly to push it down but I couldn’t. It consumed me and I fell to my knees, sweating, hair stuck to my forehead, leaving me panting for breath.
“What’s happening to me?” I whimpered as his hand came gently to rest on my shoulder. A throbbing hit my groin with the force of a bullet. I couldn’t help the moan that escaped me.
He cleared his throat and I looked up to meet his eyes. They were nearly glowing and the pupils were slits. Dragon eyes. He tried to hide it but I saw desire flare in his face. “It’s been a while but I think you’re … in heat.” His voice was so gruff it made my toes curl as embarrassment flushed through me.
“What?” I shrieked, as my body inched closer to him. Oh my God. My period was about two weeks ago, right around when I had the fall, so I could be ovulating, but since when did that do this?! Kill me now. My eyes fell on his lips, examining them. They were thick and glistening, just waiting to be kissed. I licked my lips then as the fire exploded inside of me and I felt the familiar tingle along my skin as scales began to tighten on my arms.
Logan’s eyes bugged.
“Your dragon has no control, and being near me in heat will make it worse.” He sounded panicked, like the thought of sleeping with me repulsed him. That should make me move away, back off—clearly, I was unwanted. But my body only tightened. I moved closer to him, my hips pressing against his side. I whimpered, unable to stop whatever was happening. I only wanted to put out this fire and I wanted to do it with him.
Logan brought his left arm up to hover over my face; I could see the tattoos more closely now. Were they different than before? “I can put you in a deep sleep until the heat is over,” he said. “It will keep your dragon from shifting and leading hunters to us. Then I will train you to control your dragon.”
A deep sleep? Where? What if the hunters came? I would have no way of fighting back. He must have read the anxiety in my face. “I won’t let anything happen to you.” His breath brushed across my face and I moaned, desperate to taste him. The thoughts I was having now— and what my body was doing—were epic levels of embarrassment. I had no control over this and it terrified me.
“Okay,” I breathed. Yesterday I had wished the hunters would just kill me, so I didn’t have much to lose now. Besides, if what he said was true, that he too was a dragon, then maybe he really could help me.
A deep green light emanated from his left palm and covered my face.
“Sleep,” he whispered in my ear, his lips brushing against my neck, and then I was out, taken by the darkness as it snuffed out my fire.
If you want to read a prequel to this for FREE from Logan’s perspective. Check it out here.