- Dragons of the Bay
Sophie, a normal human with normal problems, unknowingly makes the biggest decision of her life when she takes a night walk through the park. She stumbles upon a swirling mystery that pulls her into new troubles, and a new world. There she finds herself falling into one misadventure after another that leads her into the arms of a handsome dragon.
Euclid is a dragon of high blood, but has distanced himself from his family and birthplace. He returns to his home after a long absence only to find himself the unwilling owner of a newly arrived Maiden, a human woman from the other world. At first he seeks only to find her a place in her new world, but he soon learns that the only place he wants her to be is by his side.
Together they learn to live and love, but a dark mystery blocks out any future happiness for the pair. Shadows lurk in the narrow streets of the bay city and a threat comes from across the sea to do the bidding of a vengeful monster. Their newfound bonds must carry them through the darkness before the shadows sweep them away and into the arms of an ancient horror.
Sophie dove and stretched out her arm. The tips of her fingers wrapped around the spinning object. It was cold and hard, but she snatched it from the air before gravity forced her downward. She dropped onto her stomach and slid a few feet, coming to a stop with a grin on her face and her hand full of success.
A young woman and two men walked up to her. One of the men shook his head as he smiled down at his friend. “Did you really have to do all that? It was just a Frisbee.”
Sophie looked up at them and held up the Frisbee. “But I caught it.”
Her female friend rolled her eyes and helped Sophie up. Around the group of four friends was a large, green park. They stood in an open meadow near the river, but a short twenty yards away was the forest of trees that cast most of the rest of the park in shadows.
A cobblestone path wound its way through the trees, diving under a few bridges in its path to the parking lot and the busy street beyond that. Other than the group, there were only a handful of other people around.
“Do you have to make everything into an adventure?” she asked her.
A sly smile slipped onto Sophie’s lips as she wagged her eyebrows at her friend. “I guess I can’t get enough like you can’t get enough of your double-mocha-latte-with-extra-sprinkles, Brittany.”
Brittany frowned. “I need it to survive.”
“What about me?” one of the guys spoke up, a husky man with a wide grin.
Brittany sighed. “Don’t be jealous of the coffee, Chad. You’re a close second.”
Chad looked to the man on his left and tapped his elbow against the other’s arm. “I bet I’m a lot higher than you, Abel.”
Abel was tall with a lean but not skinny build. He smiled at his shorter friend. “I’m fine with that.” His eyes flickered to Sophie. “I’d rather be higher on another list.”
Sophie averted her gaze from his eyes and held the Frisbee above her head. “Anyone up for another few tosses?”
“Only if you promise not to catch it with your teeth,” Brittany insisted.
Abel looked up and shielded his eyes against the sun. “Looks like we’d better go. It’s almost night.”
Sophie frowned. “What’s the matter with that? We can play in the path lights.”
“Haven’t you heard about the strange sounds and disappearances?” Brittany asked her.
Sophie arched an eyebrow. “No. What about them?”
“It’s just a bunch of bullshit,” Chad insisted.
Brittany glared at him. “It’s not a bunch of bullshit. My brother’s friend said he heard about it from a cousin about the strange things going on.”
“That doesn’t make it true.”
“Yes, it does!”
“No, it doesn’t.”
“Don’t make me put you below ice cream!”
Sophie stepped between them and raised her arms in front of their faces. “Guys! What’s been happening?”
“People have been saying a strange light appears at random spots around the park,” Abel told her. “Someone tried kicking a ball into one and the ball disappeared.”
Brittany’s shoulders slumped and she pushed her lips out in a pout. “I wanted to tell her. . .”
“How about if I buy you an ice cream?” Chad offered.
She perked up. “Really?”
“But only if I’m the top of your list.”
Brittany grabbed Chad’s hand and yanked him in the direction of the parking lot. “You will be if I get three scoops!”
Sophie moved to stand beside Abel as she smiled at her retreating friends. “He’s going to run through his money keeping himself at the top of her list,” she commented.
Abel glanced down at her and his soft eyes studied her face. “At least he’ll be at the top.”
Sophie shrank beneath his intense gaze, but she held up the Frisbee. “I think this is yours.”
He turned so they faced each other and set his hand over hers that held the item. “Come on, Sophie. You know how I feel about you. Why don’t we start going out?”
She cringed and turned her face away. “I-I can’t. I just don’t feel the same way about you.” Her eyes flickered to him. “Can’t we just keep being friends?”
His face fell. “That’s it? Just friends?”
Sophie pursed her lips and sighed. “Listen, Abel, it really is just me. I’m not ready for a commitment, not yet. I just feel like I’m supposed to do something else.”
Abel’s eyebrows crashed down. “Like what? Cure cancer?”
She whipped her head to him and glared at her friend. “That’s not funny.”
“No, it’s not, but none of this is.” He pulled the Frisbee from her hand and half-turned from her. “Tell me when you’re ready for a date. I might still be around.” He marched off, leaving Sophie alone.
Her shoulders fell and she hung her head. “Stupid, stupid, stupid. . .”
Abel stomped to the parking lot where he found his other friends waiting beside his car. Brittany looked past him at where he’d come from. There was no clear view of the meadow from the parking lot. “Where’s Sophie?”
Abel unlocked the car and opened the driver’s door. “She’s still there.”
“Isn’t she coming?” Brittany persisted.
“Can we just leave?” Abel snapped.
Brittany glared at him. “Did you two have a fight?”
“Just get in the car,” he ordered before he slipped into his seat.
Chad grasped Brittany’s shoulders. “She’ll be fine. She’s got her own ride, remember?”
“But the stories-”
“Even if they are true do you really think a light would do anything to Sophie?” he asked her.
She bit her lower lip and looked back at the park. “No, but-”
“Come on,” he insisted as he gave her a gentle tug toward the car. “You can call her later and talk for hours.”
Brittany reluctantly climbed into the car, and the three of them drove to the entrance. The streetlights were just turning on as they made their way onto the street.
Sophie wrapped her arms around herself and walked down the cobblestone path. Her head was bowed and her heart was heavy. “Why couldn’t you have just said ‘yes’ and move on?” she muttered to herself.
Her mind’s voice spoke up: because you have stuff to do.
Sophie snorted. “Like what? Graduate college with a ton of debt and flip burgers?” She shook her head. “Some adventure that would-” A soft glow caught her attention.
Sophie raised her head and furrowed her brow. One of the bridges lay thirty feet ahead of her. Her path, the lower one, sank five feet into the ground to allow for rainwater to sink into the grates along the sides. The bridge was thirty feet wide, enough for two passing carriages, and had a few sickly florescent lights in its ceiling.
Those, however, weren’t the source of the glow. The light originated from a small circle that hovered in the center of the lower path and two feet above the ground. The light within the circle swirled in a slow, clockwise pattern like water draining down a sink.
Sophie stepped closer, but stopped ten feet from the glow. She stooped and grabbed a stick from the ground. A simple toss and the stick disappeared into the vortex, but there was no clatter behind the glow as the stick dropped behind it. She stood and frowned. Her pulse quickened as a feeling of dread fell over her. She stepped back.
The vortex shifted. Its smooth, slow stride quickened to match her pulse. Sophie’s short brown hair drew in front of her face and toward the glow. Her clothes followed as she felt a pull from the vortex. Leaves and sticks flew past her and were sucked into the hole. The pull grew stronger and her feet slid along the ground.
Sophie lifted her foot to take a step back and the pull pulled her off both feet. She cried out as her rear hit the ground. The young woman rolled onto her stomach and clawed at the cobblestones as she was sucked toward the hole.
“Help! Help me!” she screamed as the vortex drew her upward into an angled position.
Her fingernails latched onto one of the larger stones as her feet were drawn into the portal. Her feet felt like a ton of rocks pressed on all sides of her shoes like a black hole. She gritted her teeth and pulled herself away from the vortex.
Her fingernails slipped. She let out a scream as she flew backward into the hole. Her cry was cut short as the portal shut behind her.
A few leaves stirred around the area, and then there was nothing save for the scratch marks on the cobblestones.