Authors: Mina Khan
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Women Sleuths, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal, #Paranormal & Urban, #Sword & Sorcery
A Paranormal Mystery with Cowboys & Dragons
Dedicated to everyone who keeps me writing.
For more information:
Lynn Hana Alexander is a 25-year-old Japanese American shape shifter haunted by
guilt. She’s been questioning herself and her dragon abilities ever since she
failed to save her grandmother.
When her best friend is threatened by mysterious fires
burning up acres of West Texas, Lynn rushes to the rescue, determined not to
fail again. However, with a tempting firefighter, a flirty city developer and
dragon pheromones distracting her, how is she going to find the arsonist?
And worse: is her primary suspect a malicious rogue dragon
or the love of her life?
Lynn Alexander’s parched throat ached. Her mind plucked at
reason. She’d been dreaming of fire again. Wild, angry flames. Billowing smoke.
A faint voice pleading for help. Through it all, someone —something— watched
“Come here.” Another voice, dark and intimate, had commanded
from the depths of the fire. “Come here, little girl.”
Then a man’s face emerged from the smoke and flames. Strong
and grim, with rugged angles, sensuous lips and intense green eyes that
glittered with blistering heat.
Panic pressed on her windpipe. Lynn wrenched her head
sideways, blinked back tears and stared at the pebbled texture of the wall next
to her bed. Ragged breath caught in her lungs and she focused on the present to
escape the grasping remnants of the dream. She tuned in to the soft swish of
the fan, the quiet roar of the air conditioner, the wild thrashing of her
A nightmare. The same damn nightmare she’d been having all
week. An insidious whisper echoed in her head:
Not a dream. A vision.
Like before, like when her grandmother died.
Dread rolled through her, cold and certain.
Who was the mysterious man? The person in trouble or the
murderer she hunted?
A prickly knowing grew inside her, jamming at the base
of her throat. The tightness turned needle sharp, and then popped. A single
Tangled in bed sheets, she twisted around to snatch her cell
from the nightstand. The clock blinked three a.m. in poison green numerals. Jen
would be mega-pissed if the phone woke her at this ungodly hour in the middle
of the work week for no reason. Worry itched between Lynn’s shoulder blades.
But what if this was a true warning?
rather risk her best friend’s wrath than her life.
Clutching the phone, she speed dialed Jen. No answer.
up the phone. Pick up the damn phone
After six rings, she snapped the phone shut and threw off
the covers. Lynn leapt out of bed, and stripped out of her sweaty clothes. She
grabbed the backpack she always kept ready by her bedside, shoved the phone
into a front pocket, and slipped her arms into the extra-long straps. She knew
she shouldn’t risk exposure, but she had to get to Jen. Protect her from
whatever danger threatened.
Naked, she rushed to the French doors and threw them open.
The cool October breeze embraced her and dried the sweat clinging to her skin.
She stared into the night, glad of the darkness. Being one of the rare
shape-shifters in the family garnered her a room with rooftop access. Closing
her eyes, she inhaled the dank smell of the bayou and summoned the change.
Heat crackled across her skin, filled her mind, as blue-green
scales rippled over her body giving her tan a bronze sheen. Lynn’s core
dissolved to molten lava, reformed and hardened. Muscles stretched and grew
stronger, bones pushed and molded flesh. Nubs emerged from her back, elongated
and flared into wings. A deep burn spread from her gut, igniting cell after
cell, until she shook like a live wire juiced on raw power.
Her leathery wings flailed behind her as she stumbled around
a bit before settling into the new weight. One would think a five foot one and
half-inch Asian American woman would transform into a delicate, miniature-poodle
type of dragon. Not so. In dragon form, Lynn was seven feet of sharp scales,
sinuous muscle and steely strength.
She raised her face to the moon and launched from the roof.
Below her, Buffalo Bayou wound through downtown Houston glittering like a net
of diamonds under the silver moonlight. The tremendous beat of her wings
drowned out her worries for a moment.
Lynn considered her ability to shift, the visions, and the
sometimes overpowering instincts of her inner dragon as undesired
complications. Except for the flying. She loved that. Of course,
had called her abilities gifts from her Japanese ancestors
Her gut clenched at the memory. With her grandmother, she’d
arrived too late, and then—
. She wouldn’t fail Jen.
The earth fell away as she shot into the dark velvet sky and
toward the distant stars. Images of fire spiked through her thoughts, knotted
her insides. Adrenaline thrummed through her veins. She rocketed over the
tangled mess of highways and overpasses, pumping her wings hard and fast, glad
not to have to use a vehicle. About a year ago Jen had moved to an artist’s
colony in Paradise Valley, six hours west of Houston by car or an hour by wing.
She wanted to be there
A few headlights rushed underneath her like fireflies on a
mission. Even those disappeared as she left behind the glass and concrete
jungle of the city. One good thing about flying at this odd hour meant fewer
people were about and the darkness hid her. Just to be safe, she flew high
enough that she’d easily be mistaken for a plane or UFO. Anything but a dragon.
A dull ache throbbed through her straining wings. She hissed out an annoyed
burst of flame, and forced herself to slow. Work smart, not hard. Wind currents
shifted and supported her as she rode one thermal, then skimmed another. She
leaned into the moving air as she threaded through wet clouds, muscles taut
A grin parted her lips as she spotted the collection of pale
spires on what Jen called Salvation Row because so many churches competed for
attention on the same block. San Angelo, the nearest small city to Jen. Almost
there. A jolt of fresh energy buzzed through her, making her flagging wings
Soft darkness wrapped around her as she headed further into
the countryside. Innumerable stars spilled across the sky, shining with a
fierce light. She drank in the brilliance. Her gaze traveled into the distance,
then locked onto a part that looked murky and dull. As if something had bitten
off a chunk of the sky and swallowed the stars.
Her vision haunted her mind. Unease skittered under her
As Lynn crested the double peaks of the Twin Buttes, the
bite of smoke tickled her nose and the air steamed and boiled. Below her, fire
blazed across the rolling plains toward a darkened cottage like a dragon
desperate to devour.
Goaded by the wind, gold and orange flames leapt in wild
abandon. Thrilled her. How hot would it blaze? Which direction would it lunge?
How far would its sooty claws reach?
Mesmerized, she slid into a glide and pulled in a deep
breath. The aroma of the fresh fire made her eyes drift closed in pleasure. The
raw scent of sulfur and ash, and underneath that a hint of—
The unmistakable musk of a male dragon. A warm tingle spread
through her veins. The face from her dreams ghosted into her mind for a moment.
Foe or friend? Her eyes flew open. Her head swiveled this way and that. Nothing
to see. Lynn shivered with the premonition that she’d be meeting him soon.
A name, a memory, seeped back into her consciousness.
She blinked and peered through the smoke. The cottage stood dark, quiet, and
peaceful. Utterly unaware. Recognition filtered through. Jen’s home. About to
be consumed by fire.
She wanted to hurtle to the ground and rescue Jen. But now
the unknown presence, cold and powerful, surrounded her like an invisible wall,
stopping her. Lynn stilled and searched some more.
Nothing moved aside from the usual night creatures fleeing
from the writhing, surging flames.
Had the other dragon shadowed into invisibility? Her scales
stiffened. She wished she could melt out of sight. Never easy, the molecular
change had become more volatile since
death. She flickered
in and out like a defective light bulb. “Damn, damn, damn.” Her tail snaked
back and forth in frustration.
Come closer, little girl.
A whisper emerged from the
The words filled her mind, turning her to ice. The acrid
smell of smoke and charred flesh singed her nostrils. Once again she saw her
grandmother’s blackened and shriveled body in that burning warehouse.
Her mind screamed.
Save Jen. Save Jen. Save Jen
jerked back to reality, and found herself falling from the sky. Frantic
flapping, a sharp bank to the left and a clumsy somersault later, she regained
her flight. She
couldn’t handle another
death on her conscience. Lynn tore toward the flames.
Only to pull up short and hover over the fiery path. Every
bit of dry grass, brittle branch, and dead leaf smoldered and burned. How the
hell did a dragon put
Laughter rumbled behind her. The flames jumped higher,
licking and tasting the air.
Lynn swung around to face the blaze. She wished she could
smash through the roof, grab Jen and fly to safety. However, no flying creature
could carry something equal to its own weight and still fly. She huffed out a
Maybe she could just block the flames with her body. Fire
couldn’t harm her dragon form. Then another idea bloomed. She pulled back and
rose higher. Stretching her wings to their full twelve-foot span, she beat the
The fire flared and stood its ground. The flames hissed and
snapped at her.
Trembles sped across her aching wings. Lynn winced, but
continued the movement. The air churned and roiled, then obeyed. Pushed the
flames, turned them in a slow U. Away from the house. Away from Jen. They
burned back toward charred ground. No fuel, no fire.
A deep growl rolled across the sky like distant thunder,
followed by the plaintive wails of sirens.
She ignored the growing din and continued to flap until the
fire raced further away. A few more, slower flails, then Lynn wrenched away
from the burning earth.
Her eyes narrowed to slits. A tawdry display of red and
white lights raced toward her, overshadowing the muted silver of the dawn sky.
Humans. Or rather, clueless human authorities. Panic followed by camera phones
and guns. Great.
The change rushed over Lynn as she tumbled toward the