Sneak-peek of Maiden to the Dragon #5

It’s been a while since I published. I just recently moved into my first house and things were a little more hectic than I expected.

However, I’ve got proof that not all that time has been wasted packing and unpacking boxes! Below, for your reading pleasure, is an excerpt for the next book in the Maiden to the Dragon series, Oceans Beneath Dragons! If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the rest of the series!

For other works in progress, I’ve been updating and editing the werewolf series By My Light. Those modified books should be out in the first week of the coming month, and the next book in the series is sure to follow! I’ve also been typing away at the fourth and final installment of the Sweet & Sour werewolf series. That should be out in the next month or so.

It’s also been brought to my attention that the form for my ARC list was screwy, so I (think) I’ve worked out the wrinkles. My apologies to anyone who tried to join and ran into an error message, and feel free to try again!

Now on with the excerpt!

Excerpt

Our horses carried us down the road to where the grass met the sand. The road split left and right and followed the short hill a few miles in both directions. We stopped at the top of the gentle slope and enjoyed the salty breeze as it wafted over us. It carried with it a promise of fun and relaxation. There was also a hint of nightfall in its scent as the sun lowered itself below the horizon.

The sand sloped downward to the edges of the green-blue water that stretched beyond my sight. A few docks stretched from halfway along the beach far out into the water. Small sailing vessels were anchored at their posts and rocked gently on the water. Two lines of short white cliffs some one five miles apart stretched out into the water. They moved toward each other in long arcs that came close together two miles out. An opening three hundred feet wide allowed water into the area and created a large, calm bay. Around the wide mouth of the bay were dark shadows in the water that hinted at reefs.

Atop the right-hand, or southerly, cliff was a long, low stone dwelling. A half dozen rock-walled chateaus stood between the edge of grass and sand. Their foundations were carved from shell-covered gray boulders that lay scattered along the shoreline, remnants of an ancient cliff that was eroded before its brethren. They looked out on the smooth, sandy beach like guards of old.

I looked up and down the beach at the half dozen chateaus. “So which one belongs to Cayden?”

Xander nodded at a chateau some two hundred feet to our left. The large stones that made up the walls were smoothed by countless ocean breezes. Dark, weathered wood frames around the tall, latticed windows reminded one of elegant driftwood. A stone patio sat on the beach side of the structure and looked out on the calm waters. Stone steps led from the patio down to the beach, and a sturdy dock stretched out into the waters.

I glanced back to Xander. “Think he’ll let me keep it?”

Xander smiled and turned his horse in the direction of our temporary quarters. “That is not likely. The home has been in his family for ten generations.”

I scoffed. “That’s not that long.”

Spiros came up beside me. “The generation of a dragon is two hundred years.”

I whistled as we trotted down the beach road. “Now that’s a lot of math, but maybe he’ll let me build a quaint shack nearby. Something with ten bedrooms.”

We reached the short road that led up to the double doors that made up the front entrance. The doors opened and Darda stepped out. She smiled and bowed to us as we rode up and dismounted.

“I hope your journey was uneventful,” she greeted us.

“It was until I decided I was a jockey and almost ran over a little boy,” I commented.

Her eyes widened. “Was anyone hurt?”

I shook my head as I handed my reins to one of the guards. “No, but remind me to stop showing off when I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Darda smiled and bowed her head. “I will do as you wish, but I may find your command very time-consuming.”

Xander arched an eyebrow and his eyes flickered to Spiros. “Your insubordination appears to be contagious.”

Spiros laughed as we four went inside. “I will take the credit for this illness.”

I glanced from one to the other. “I’m guessing there’s a story behind that remark.”

Spiros nodded. “Yes. Our Lord happened to catch a very dire case of dragon pox and insisted I had somehow knowingly given it to him.”

“You escaped from your sick bed to show me the spots,” Xander reminded him.

Spiros furrowed his brow and shook his head, but his eyes twinkled with mischief. “I cannot recall that part. Perhaps the illness wiped my memories.”

As they went back and forth in their game of denial and insistence, I stopped and looked around. The foyer of the house was two floors and spacious, but simple. A door on either side led to the wings of the building, and a hallway led straight through to the rear door.

I jumped when an arm slipped around mine and looked to see Darda by my side. She smiled at me and nodded at the rear door. “Would you like to see the view, Miriam?”

I smiled and nodded. “Very much.”

We left the bickering men and walked past the whitewashed walls to the double-doors. Darda opened one, and I stepped out. A sea breeze greeted me, along with an amazing view of the bay. I walked to the stone railing and looked out. The green-blue water was so clear I could see the fish swimming through short bands of seaweed some two hundred feet out. The cliffs blocked much of the view beyond their walls, but I glimpsed a few dots of land on the horizon.

“It is quite a sight, is it not?” Darda asked me.

I leaned my arms against the top of the railing and smiled. “Yeah. I think I could live here forever.”

“I would not be pleased with such an arrangement,” Xander commented as he came up to my other side. He glanced over me at Darda. “Have all the preparations been finished?”

Darda bowed her head. “They have, My Lord, and we received a message from Lord Cayden that he and his Maiden are to arrive tomorrow at midday.”

I looked to Xander. “What preparations?”

He leaned his side against the railing and smiled down at me. “I thought perhaps you would wish to test the waters here with your fishing as you did in Alexandria.”

I straightened and rubbed my hands together. “Now you’re speaking my language, but I’ll do it only if I don’t have to cook them. Or gut them.”

“Or catch them?” he teased.

I snorted and shrugged. “I might not be doing much of that, either. Beriadan kind of helped me at the lake.”

Xander pushed off the railing and offered me his arm. “Then we shall see your true skills, but for now let us-” A loud, long wail wrapped around us.

I clapped my hands over my ears and glanced up at Xander. “More ghosts?”

Xander pursed his lips and glanced down the beach. “No. That is the warning call.”

I rose my voice to a shout to be heard above the terrible wail. “THEN WHY DOES IT SOUND LIKE THAT-” the siren cut off, “-CRY OF THE TRAITOR?” I cringed and lowered my hands. “Sorry.”

Spiros hurried through the doors and onto the patio. “Xander, the light around the barracks are lit.”

Xander turned to his captain. “Then we will find out what is the matter.”

I wrapped my arm around his. “Yes, all of us.”