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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Enukara by Nina R. Schluntz πŸ’• Series Tour & Gift Card Giveaway πŸ’• (M/M Fantasy Romance)

The dragons came to earth seeking an Enukara. The invasion was silent, taking decades to unfold. The first generation was smarter than humans, sent to befriend, learn, and study the local inhabitants. They crippled Earth’s technology with minimal effort. The second generation were the foot soldiers and devastated any human opposition. The following generations reproduced quickly and took Earth by sheer numbers. Resources grew slim. Rolling blackouts, burnt crops, and ravaged livestock forced man to retaliate. Thirty years passed before the first Enukara. A simple act of kindness from a human toward a dragon triggered the miracle. The human was blessed with the ability to heal another’s wound. The dragon bonded to him was granted immortality. The price for this gift was simple. The dragon’s life was bound to the human. If the human died, so would the dragon. The human could only heal another if the energy was transferred through the dragon. If he touched someone of his own accord, the transfer would drain him, leaving him lifeless. The dragon was forced to take on the role of guardian, forever protecting his human if he wanted to survive.

The greed of dragons and humans was underestimated. For if an Enukara’s life was taken by another, they would inherit the immortality blessed to the dragon. Both human and dragon could steal this gift. This discovery led to the death of thousands of Enukaras over the next sixty years. Most Enukaras were slain days after the blessing.

The dynamics changed when one dragon killed his own Enukara out of desperation. The power he inherited was unfathomable. This dragon hunted and killed every immortal who had slain an Enukara. He eliminated all remaining Enukaras and a semblance of peace ensued.

What was once considered a blessing is now feared. Dragons and humans have ceased all interaction to avoid enacting the Enukara.

There has been no Enukara for twenty years.

It has been one hundred and ten years since the first generation of dragons landed on Earth.

A simple act of kindness from a human toward a dragon triggered the Enukara–giving the human the ability to heal the wounds of others. The dragon bonded to him was granted immortality. The price for this gift was simple. The dragon’s life was bound to the human.

The greed of dragons and humans was underestimated. For if an Enukara’s life was taken by another, they would inherit the immortality blessed to the dragon. Both human and dragon could steal this gift. The slaughter of all Enukaras quickly ensued, until one dragon killed his own Enukara.

The power he inherited was unfathomable. He hunted and killed every immortal who had slain an Enukara. A new Enukara emerges who challenges the mindset of the immortal dragon and the Enukara hopes to alter the fate of humanity, by showing the dragon how to love once again.

The world seemed to explode. No, not the world, just my part of it, Gloria thought. She was sitting in her lounge chair after a hard day of work. Gloria worked in the processing plant for the wool, washing it, and cleaning all the gunk out before it was spun into spools. The blisters on her feet had just started to feel better as she soaked them in a salt bath while resting. She lowered her book slowly, not even having flinched at the disaster before her.
Something large and gray had bashed into the side of her house. Did they hit my house with one of the cannonballs?
Her church friends had told her she shouldn’t take a house near the front of the dome, but the rent had been cheaper and she was on a fixed income. She’d been hoping to get a roommate soon, but thus far no luck. Which meant, the cheap front side houses were for her.
The silver form shifted, replaced by a man. A jolt of adrenaline ran up Gloria’s spine. A dragon. A blasted dragon had busted into her home. She shoved her footbath to the side and pushed herself up. She’d admit she’d put on a few extra pounds, or fifty, over the years. She knew it contributed to her foot problems, but she enjoyed chocolate a bit too much and broccoli not enough.
She reached to put her book on the side table but found it had been knocked over. Gloria shrugged and dropped the book to the floor. She walked, refusing to admit it might have resembled a waddle, over to the groaning man on her floor.
She picked up an aluminum baseball bat, cause a girl needs to be able to protect themselves when living alone. The man had more metal in his face than the dome did scaffolding. She’d never understand why the dragons loved metal so much. Greedy little buggers.
He opened his eyes. They were a light gray, nearly white. His pupils went from looking human to lizard-like as it shrunk to small vertical slivers. She raised the bat and slammed it upside the beast-man’s head.
8 8 8
Devon couldn’t take his eyes away from the smoldering dragon in front of him. A loud whine came from his right. The furry hound appeared like an angel, a loop of rope held in his jaws. One of the guards must have given it to him and sent Bo back to help Devon.
Devon grabbed the rope and tied it around his trapped ewe’s middle. He warily glanced peeks at the red dragon glaring at him though the netting that didn’t seem to be nearly strong enough in Devon’s mind.
Then the beast changed. One moment there was an intimidating dragon staring at him with demon eyes, the next a muscular man with tan skin and dark hair gazed at him. Devon had known the dragons could morph into a human form but he’d never witnessed it. How the beast was clothed in cutoff shorts baffled Devon, but he was grateful he wasn’t now looking at a nude man.
“Hello human,” the former red dragon said. “Why don’t you do me a favor and remove this netting so I may enjoy your sheep?”
“Never.” It took a moment before Devon realized he had been the one to speak.
“Are you refusing to do me a kindness, human? Do you not want to become my Enukara?” The man’s voice was teasing and even in his human form his build was intimidating. Devon realized he was shaking and forced himself to stop. He looked away from the dragon and concentrated on tying the knot on the rope. He took two steps and pulled the ewe with him.
“Never, dragon,” Devon muttered. The dragon gave a hearty laugh. Devon reached the edge of the pit and the ewe found her footing. She pulled herself onto steady ground and Devon hurried to remove the rope. Now he could herd the flock into the chamber around the perimeter and use it to escort them to the safety of the barn.
“Stupid human,” the dragon said. He stepped away from the net and transformed back into his dragon form with the same ease as before. He threw his body against the mesh netting, despite the pain the aluminum coating had to cause.
The net held, but Devon knew it wouldn’t last. He heard some of the guards shouting and the sprinklers overhead activated. The dragon roared and swirls of steam rose from his hide as the water hit him. Devon slapped the rears of the closest sheep and Bo nipped at their heels to get them all moving. The men on the scaffolding opened a gate and the sheep entered the corridor that ran the perimeter of the dome. Devon watched as each animal went through. He waited, planning to enter last. One lamb darted through and ran in tight circles as if confused. Devon reached to tug the lamb in the proper direction and the lamb sprinted the wrong way.
The enraged dragon stopped thrashing at the netting and dashed after the lamb, who headed for an area where there were no archers. The dragon reached the lamb and slammed into the inner wall. The impact dented the beams, causing no real damage but sending the lamb into a spiral of circles as it trembled. The triangles forming the outer wall were larger and the lamb darted between them.
My lamb, well, actually it wasn’t a lamb from his flock, but still, Devon felt responsible for it. He couldn’t leave the lamb to survive on its own outside. He ran through the corridor toward the last place he’d seen the lamb. Bo ran at his side. Perhaps the dog felt a sense of loyalty too.
The dragon shook its head, sending sprays of water through the inner wall and onto Devon. The water was hot, but not hot enough to burn. The water should have been cold. He gave the dragon a wary glance. Had its flesh actually managed to heat the water? He wiped the droplets from his face and crouched at the gap. He glimpsed the white figure of his sheep sprint into the wooded area next to the dome.
The guards opened the large gate at the front of the dome so the dragons, if they chose, could leave. The red dragon gave a final roar of protest before he turned to go through the open gate. Two other dragons followed him, their forms blurred from Devon’s view by the pouring rain. Devon tried to recall if all the dragons were accounted for. Hadn’t there originally been five?
He heard the lamb bleating from outside. No one else would reach him in time to help with the search. He was racing against dragons. Bo gave a sharp bark, as if wondering why Devon hesitated.
Devon dropped to the ground and slipped through one of the larger triangles. He ran in the direction he’d seen the lamb go.
8 8 8
Mitchem’s head throbbed. His eyes opened a small sliver. His muscles tensed with panic as he looked around the human shack. He jerked upright and flinched at the pain still burning his flesh from the arrows that had cut him.
“Don’t be moving or I’ll hit you again,” a feminine voice said. Mitchem touched his forehead tentatively and gazed up at the woman. The human woman.
She was exactly what he expected a human to look like—fat. Humans were the most gluttonous and unfit species on the planet, in his opinion. Deep lines creased her face and she held the bat with an iron grip as she stared him down. He’d never been this close to a human before, but he certainly hadn’t expected the encounter to go like this. Shouldn’t she be fearing him? Wait, did she say hit him again?
“This was an accident,” Mitchem said, uncertain what to expect from her. Was the weapon laced with—no, it was made of aluminum. He would recognize the gleam from its surface anywhere. He sometimes harvested it in the mines he worked.
“Don’t you speak to me with that tone. I will not be charmed by a dragon!” She swung the bat wildly, but came no closer. “Leave my house.”
“Nothing would please me more,” Mitchem said. He moved to the large hole in her wall.
“Wait,” she said. “What of my house? You owe me for damages.”
His jaw dropped. Was there no limit to a human’s greed and sense of entitlement?
“Your people shot me. I only hit your house because of them. Seek your blood money from them.”
“The funds to repair it would barely be noticed as missing from your horde.”
“Not every dragon has a large treasure room. Does every human have the same luxuries?” Mitchem asked. She narrowed her eyes.
“You expect me to believe you’re poor? That a poor dragon hit my house? Do you think me daft?”
“You think I would claim poverty if I weren’t poor?” Dragons were proud, painfully so. Admitting his inability to pay for her house was not something he did lightly.
“If it would save you a few pennies, yes.”
“Pennies?” Mitchem’s forehead creased in confusion at her strange word.
“Oh, just go, stupid, broke, clumsy dragon.” She twirled the bat in circles.
“Gladly.” He bit back any argument at her unkind words. He just wanted to vacate her presence. He turned to the wall and gripped the damaged woodwork with his hands. He prepared to morph upon his jump when he saw the downpour. He couldn’t believe the odds. He looked up and saw the water spraying from sprinklers. So they’d used that to get the last of the dragons to leave. He searched the dome but didn’t see any of his comrades.
“Is the mighty dragon afraid to get wet?”
“We cannot fly in rain,” Mitchem said. Or breathe fire, but he wasn’t wet yet, so if she didn’t tone back the mockery—
“So you’ll be walking home. You’d better get started.” She crossed her arms and stuck her chest out. He hadn’t thought it possible, but she looked even larger now. Her folds of fat bulged from her nightgown in sync with her breathing.
“Allow me to clarify, once wet I cannot fly until I am dry. So yes, I shall indeed be walking home. A very long walk.” He stared into her green eyes. She boldly stared back. He wanted to ask her for something to shield him from the water.
“Are you trying to trick me into doing you a favor?”
“Never,” Mitchem said. He smiled all the same, hoping that human females found him as attractive as female dragons. Not that his current courtship supported that theory.
She rolled her eyes. “I’ll not stop you if you happen to steal my overcoat from that hook there.”
He nearly expressed his gratitude, but bit the comment back. He snatched the four sizes too big coat and pulled the hood over his head. He moved back to the opening in her wall.
“Don’t go out the hole. Use the ladder out front. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself.”
He moved forward anyway, ignoring her. He was too distracted by the rain to listen to her footsteps. Her fingers pulled at his arm to stop him.
Her touch sent a ripple through his body. “Don’t touch—” White light filled his vision as a new energy filled him. An energy of eternal life.
His heart stopped. His life as a dragon ended. The next beat of his heart was in line with hers. It would only beat so long as hers did. He staggered back from her. Her eyes were wide as she stared at him. She inhaled sharply and he reflexively did the same.
Mitchem gave his head a small shake in denial, but he couldn’t help noticing how his chest rose in perfect unison with hers. Her lips parted but he turned from her, refusing to hear the words. He leapt from the house and into the rain.

Zackariah created an Enukara back when they were being made every day, and murdered hours later. Despite the odds, he managed to keep his alive long enough to understand how compassionate humans can be. Decades later, he meets his Enukara’s son, Jonas, and finds that he is now an Enukara. Zackariah must decide if he will tell him the truth behind his mother’s death, even if it risks the relationship forming between them.

Jonas knows Zackariah murdered his mother. He can accept this, but not the swirling lies around the reason why he did it. If he makes the same error it will lead to not only his death, but the death of all the Enukaras, present and future.

Jonas appeared, placing himself squarely in Zackariah’s path.
“May I have a word?”
He’d managed to avoid him the entire day, but he’d known this was likely to happen once he’d come downstairs. Iliandra glared at Jonas, but he seemed immune to her.
“Speak,” Zackariah said, unsure of the response Jonas wanted.
“Privately,” Jonas said. He held up a hand to stop Iliandra from whatever objection she might have. “I know what I said before, but I’d like a moment to clear the air.”
What the hell had he said before? Iliandra growled, but kept her anger directed at Jonas, not glancing up once at Zackariah.
“Do whatever,” Iliandra said. Zackariah watched her stomp off then he backed into the room and gestured for Jonas to enter. He wondered if he should ask the other Enukaras if they wanted a word with him as well, so the favoritism wouldn’t be as apparent. Jonas shut the door and cleared his throat.
“Thank you,” Jonas said.
“Do you have another string of confessions to make?” Zackariah asked, wondering what the man could possibly want to say to him after yesterday’s profession of infatuation.
“An apology,” Jonas said. “I wanted to apologize if my comments from yesterday made you uncomfortable. I noticed you’ve been avoiding me and I don’t want you to think—I just.”
He grew pale and blinked quickly. He seemed to have forgotten whatever it was he had wanted to say. He decided to throw the man a bone.
“Yes,” Zackariah said.
Jonas’ health didn’t improve, but he managed a quick, “Yes to?”
“Yes, to dragons kissing,” Zackariah said. He shook his head, unable to believe he was actually having this conversation. Don’t worry Chrissy, I’ll give your son the birds and bees talk about how dragons do it.
“We do. Not in dragon form, for obvious reasons, and maybe we don’t do it as much as humans, but we do…kiss.”
“I’ve sort of moved past that question,” Jonas said.
Zackariah crossed his arms and stood straighter. “Really? So you don’t want to know if I want to kiss you?”
“I-I never asked you that.”
“Do you want to?”
“Do you want to kiss me?” Jonas asked.
“Yes.” The two of them sounded more like they were discussing the weather than their sexual desires, and Jonas looked about to faint. Zackariah eyed the door, steeling himself for another quick escape. Let the kid chew on this factoid overnight, and sort out what he really wanted.
“Then do it,” Jonas said. “Kiss me.”
What? He looked at the pale, panic-stricken man standing before him. Zackariah stepped closer, certain Jonas would flinch or pull away.
Afraid his touch would result in a cringe, he kept his arms folded and pressed his lips lightly against Jonas’ full awaiting mouth. It was the kind of quick peck you’d give your grandmother, only Zackariah didn’t pull away immediately. Jonas pushed, increasing the pressure of the touch. Jonas opened his mouth and ran his tongue across Zackariah’s lips.
He knew he should stop. End this little dare right then, but instead, he opened his mouth, and Jonas went in. His tongue explored Zackariah’s mouth, fearless and eager. Human tongues were different, sluggish and thick, and Zackariah wondered if their dicks were as well. He pressed his tongue against Jonas’ and was rewarded with a deep moan from Jonas’ throat.
He couldn’t remember ever kissing Selina with such thought behind it, mindful of his every move, hyperaware of everything the person touching him was doing. The man pushed his body closer against Zackariah. He took his wet tongue back and gently tugged on Zackariah’s lower lip. Jonas opened his eyes and Zackariah stared into the same pools of blue he’d seen that night when Chrissy had introduced him to her children. Those eyes, still full of desire and fearless of the beast before him.
Jonas pulled his head back, the contact broken. He made no move to do anything else. Zackariah had no idea how to proceed anyway.
“We done here?” Zackariah asked, resuming his normal cold demeanor.
“It would seem that way,” Jonas said. He felt the disappointment surge through him. Rejection? It bounced off Jonas and Zackariah would have sensed it even if he wasn’t feeling his emotions.
“You…want this?” Zackariah asked.
“I’m not sure what ‘this’ is, but if you mean you, then yes,” Jonas said.
“You’re not mine,” Zackariah said. He wasn’t stupid. He knew how protective a dragon was of their Enukara. He would need her permission, and then there was the human fiancΓ©.
“Marcus?” Jonas asked. “I have a fiancΓ©.” He acted like he’d forgotten about that tidbit.
“And you belong to a different dragon,” Zackariah said. “I don’t have any right to touch you.”
“That’s what this is? You want to touch me, you want me?” Jonas thumped on his own chest. “But you won’t because I’m not your Enukara?”
“Yes,” Zackariah said. The response had been impulsive, and even Jonas seemed to be in denial now.
“You want me?”
“Yes.” How was this confusing?
“Show me,” Jonas said. Zackariah glanced at the door. They’d been alone too long. Jonas moved to stand in his view. “Right now, you’re saying things, but you aren’t acting like you want me. That kiss has got to be the least sexual encounter I’ve had since my grandmother kissed me when I was a baby.”
It had been the most intimate thing Zackariah had ever done. How could Jonas proclaim it to be otherwise? His brain didn’t process his reaction, but his body did, rebelling against the idea of disappointing yet another mate.
His actions weren’t as practiced this time. He kissed him and pressed his body against the man. He felt Jonas’ erection as he pressed his own against the man. He growled and Jonas reacted the opposite of what he should have. He wrapped his arms around him, even his legs, as if trying to climb him. He kissed him harder and if possible, Zackariah thought the man would have crawled right up inside him. Jonas pressed his cock against Zackariah’s belly and ground it against him as Zackariah moved one hand under him to support Jonas.
Jonas pulled his head away from Zackariah’s mouth and uttered a series of short gasps. Zackariah didn’t want to stop touching him, he needed to keep his lips on the man. He kissed his neck and felt Jonas’ entire body react in shivers of pleasure from the touch.
His mind buzzed with the high of feeling Jonas’ desire. His lust and want for Zackariah, for this. He didn’t know what to do, but he wanted to push Jonas higher, feel the rush of endorphins push them both to climax.
“Don’t stop, oh, God, don’t stop,” Jonas said. His breathing came in short bursts and Zackariah knew he was close. This is what he’d needed that night in the cave. He needed Jonas to come, and he needed it now. He bit his teeth into Jonas’ neck in an effort to push him over the edge.
“Get off him!” Iliandra’s voice broke the trance and his mind struggled to reclaim control. She was hitting him before he could figure out how to react. He managed to grab her arms, but she still kicked. He held her against the wall and those eyes full of way too much hate, glared into his soul. Jonas was not his. He remembered the fury he’d felt when someone had touched Chrissy. Iliandra was justified in her hate.
“Stop it, stop,” Zackariah said. She ceased her squirming.
“He’s not yours,” Iliandra said.
“I know. He asked me to touch him.”
Her body surged with another bout of anger and she kicked at him. He moved one arm across her neck and pushed.
“I would never hurt him. You have my word.”
Her eyes continued to make threats. He spoke softer. “I want him.”
The fight seemed to leave her, but the hate was still there.
He let go of her and she went to stand between them, blocking Jonas. Jonas said nothing, no objection to the interruption or gratitude for it.
Zackariah turned and left, resisting the urge to go back as he felt Jonas’ desires intensify. Jonas needed to have a conversation with his dragon before Zackariah could dare do something like that again.

The initial dragon invasion force came to collect and befriend the humans of Earth. Immortal by birthright, this first generation of dragons peacefully coexisted with humans for decades until reaching maturity. By mating with humans, a second generation was created, a solider force with one mindset, to decrease the population on Earth.

The current dragons populating the Earth have the ability to create healers known as Enukaras. The surviving first generation live in isolation. Jeremiah, an operative from a first generation colony, is sent out to investigate rumors of a woman pregnant with a dragon. His encounter with the dragon king, Zackariah, leads to an immediate infatuation.

Jeremiah’s attempts to secretly prevent the unborn child’s birth while seducing the dragon king quickly escalates tension between his people and those that follow the dragon king.

Jeremiah must work with the dragon king’s other lover, an Enukara, to prevent a second dragon war.

Her best friend was an idiot. Or certifiably insane, after their last encounter, either was plausible. Flora gestured at the bartender and he poured her another shot. She was in the city, intending to visit Jonas and patch things up after his massive blow up at their house.
How could you? I’m not dead. Traitors! You stole my life!
His words rattled around in her head as she swallowed the next shot of whiskey. Flora had been Jonas’ best friend for as long as she could remember. Sure, she was jealous of the boyfriends he always seemed to have, but Marcus was one of the good ones. He was hurting as much as Flora was. It made sense for them to gravitate to each other. How Jonas found that to be a betrayal, she didn’t understand.
She put her hands on either side of her head and groaned.
“Whoa, careful there, someone might mistake you for a dragon,” a burly voice said next to her. She wasn’t in the mood. In fact, her tolerance for people was about ten miles down the road burning in a pit of charred broken hearts. She didn’t move her head, but shifted her eyes to glare at the would be suitor.
He had smooth skin, combed hair, a toothy grin that should be on commercials, and… he wore animal hides. His green eyes weren’t quite human, they had a catlike look to them and as if to demonstrate this, he dilated them on command.
“Bad day?” he asked. He gestured to the bartender who ignored the request. Dragons weren’t known for being great tippers.
“My best friend is an Enukara,” Flora said. She glanced at the bartender but in his efforts to avoid the dragon he was ignoring her too.
“Really? Which one? Mine is Gladis, or Jenna, maybe Caddy, I don’t really know. She’s a girl though, so you probably know her.”
Flora turned on her barstool to look at the man this time. “You have an Enukara?”
“Riordan put a call out for volunteers. The temple needed more. I stepped up. I was partnered with a compatible human and presto, I am immortal.” He picked up her empty shot glass and raised it in the air in a fake toast.
“I thought that was illegal, to create an Enukara intentionally.”
“It was, until Riordan changed the rule.”
“Riordan isn’t in charge. Zackariah is.” Flora didn’t know much, but she freak’n knew who the dragon king was.
“And Riordan is Zackariah’s brother. If Riordan says we are good, we are good. Riordan has an Enukara now too.” He smiled broadly at this. “Zackariah didn’t kill him and Riordan made his Enukara on purpose. It is a new world.”
“I guess it is.” Maybe she should make her way over to the temple and get Jonas’ take on all this. It seemed a lot had changed since his emotional blow up.
“Have you ever been with a dragon?” the man asked. He swiveled her chair a bit more so he could stand between her legs.
“Pretty sure that’s not allowed either,” Flora said. She tried to scoot farther back on the stool but it was only so big. As she slipped, he looped an arm around her and pulled her back up.
Maybe it was the booze delaying her fight or flight response, but the overly confident dragon managed to plant a big wet kiss on her lips, or maybe she was the one slobbering all over, she really wasn’t sure of much more than the fact this guy was pressing a rather impressive package in his groin area against her belly. How long had it been since she’d been laid? What was the harm? He was already bound to a human, so it wasn’t like she could make an Enukara.
Fuck Jonas. He wasn’t the only one who got to fool around with dragons. She could too. She would fuck this dragon and then swap stories about it with Jonas. Maybe her sex would be better. Her dragon was cuter.
“Interested?” He lifted his head and peered down at her.
“Yes,” she replied.
She had a fantasy in her head of him lifting her off her feet and carrying her away. Maybe to a hotel room, or his dragon lair. They’d make love on a bed made of his horde of gold and he would show her all the amazing things a dragon can do that no human man can.
“You are my fifth human tonight,” he said, with a wide smile. His hand snaked up her skirt and ripped her panties with sharp nails. His words swam around in her head for a moment before they made sense.
“Wait, what?” The words left her mouth as he entered her, right there on the barstool. There was no romance, no decency, in fact it was downright embarrassing. She’d gotten aroused enough that he was able to slid inside her with minimal discomfort, but she still felt invaded.
He began thrusting, holding her in place with one arm around the small of her back, the other on her neck, keeping her still as he kissed her neck. She squirmed, but he was a giant boulder that was not going to move. Her eyes searched the bar, desperate for help, human or dragon, someone had to see this.
No one looked in their direction. He was raping her on a barstool, in the middle of the afternoon, and no one cared! There were at least twenty people in the bar, how was this happening?
He stopped kissing her and groaned deep growls of satisfaction. He was thrusting harder now and she felt bruises forming where he gripped her.
“Stop, please, stop,” she said. She tried to use her legs to kick him as she continued to search the bar for someone to make eye contact with and plea for help.
He shoved into her one last time, the full length of him gouging her in a manner that sent sparks of pain up her abdomen. She cried out as tears streaked down her face. He held her against him, as if comforting her.
“That was good,” he said into her hair. “I get why we dragons used to do this so much, back before Zackariah took over.”
He let her go so abruptly she fell from the stool. She didn’t feel herself hit the ground. She felt nothing. Except the phantom feel of his dirty paws still on her, still touching her in unwanted ways.
Dragons were horrible, uncivilized animals. She’d heard of how life had been before Zackariah’s reign. Whatever was happening right now, was a serious step backward.
Flora wasn’t sure how long she laid on the ground. As the busy part of the day came, people getting off work and wanting one quick beer before going home, the barstools above her became occupied. After a third boot hit her, she managed to crawl away, then stand, and somehow stagger to the bathrooms. She washed what she could off of her, debris from the floor had stuck to her like glue thanks to the sticky remains of her tears.
She was torn between going to Jonas for help and finding out why Zackariah was letting this happen, or just going home and avoiding anything and everything to do with dragons. She stepped out of the restroom and spotted two dragons sitting at a table, laughing and clicking their glasses together. She gritted her teeth and headed for the exit.
She was in no mood for Jonas and his perfect little romance with a dragon. Avoidance was the winner for today.
§ § §
Five days later with her belly cramping worse than any menstrual cramp she’d ever experienced, she still wasn’t up for seeing “love story perfect” Jonas. So rather than seek his healing touch, she staggered to the science based human clinic in her local dome.
She’d missed the last two days of work and was well on her way to missing another. The doctors took some blood, asked if she’d been throwing up, which of course she had, so they put her on IV fluids. It was probably a virus, some stupid bug going around that she just couldn’t get over.
She forced herself to relax as she lay on the firm rollaway bed in the urgent care clinic.
They’ll give me some anti-nausea meds, maybe antibiotics and I’ll be all better tomorrow.
The too skinny doctor who came into her curtained off section of the room glanced at her over his clipboard. He offered a weak smile and tried to make it a bit bigger as he set the tone. “I have good news.”
A pudgy nurse slipped between the curtain divisions and eyed her cautiously, as if not sure how Flora would take the diagnosis.
“Was it something I ate?” Flora asked. Food poisoning was the best diagnosis she figured. It would be a quick recovery.
“You’re pregnant,” he said, with no more luster than he would have projected had he told her she had a brain tumor. “Congratulations.”
Her hands went impulsively to her stomach. She wasn’t showing, not at all. She tried to recall all of her sexual encounters over the last few months. The stupid dragon from five days ago didn’t count. She wouldn’t be cramping and testing positive that quickly. There’d been Steven from… eight, maybe ten weeks ago?
“How far along am I?” Flora asked.
“The blood test doesn’t show us that, but we can do an ultrasound and that will be more conclusive.” He nodded to the nurse who pushed the already prepped device into the area. She set it up next to Flora’s bed and squirted some cold gel onto Flora’s stomach. She proceeded to smear it around with a round shaped object connected to the monitor. The screen was turned away from Flora so she couldn’t see it.
The doctor and nurse eyed the screen carefully, their expressions gave away nothing. She tried to remember how the trimesters worked. At eight or ten weeks, the fetus would just be a small pea, right? There wouldn’t be much to see.
“Can you see anything?” Flora asked.
The doctor met her gaze only briefly. “I need to consult with someone. I’ll be right back.”
“Can I see?” Flora asked. The nurse quickly shut the monitor off. “Miss?”
“We need to wait for the doctor,” she said, her tone a bit harsh, as if Flora had done something wrong.
“What? Is it a tapeworm or something?” Flora asked, trying to lighten the mood. If anything, the nurse’s frown deepened.
It seemed like hours, but was likely only minutes before the original doctor returned with a second doctor, an older man who looked a good thirty years past retirement. They went through the routine again, and the old man stared at the screen.
“I haven’t seen a case like this in twenty, no twenty-five years,” the man said. “Used to happen a lot before Zackariah took over as king of the dragons.” He pointed to an area on the screen, which Flora still wasn’t allowed to view. “You can see we caught it early enough, no spikes, means it won’t have lungs yet. Once it has lungs it can survive outside the womb and let me tell you, nothing more fierce than wrestling one of those suckers. There’s a reason you don’t see any of the dragon hatchlings running around. Feral little fuckers. Even the dragons know it, that’s why they lock their children up in those caves for the first five years of their lives.”
“What are you talking about?” Flora asked.
The older man straightened his spectacles. “You have been impregnated by a dragon. No need for alarm. You came to us in time. We can remove it and you’ll have a strong chance of recovery.”
“That’s not possible,” Flora said. “Dragons come from eggs, not bellies. They aren’t mammals.”
“Dragons are shapeshifters,” the doctor clarified. “They are very adaptable.” He turned the screen and showed her the snake like fetus inside her. It was like a slug, almost an iguana but more slippery looking. A wave of revulsion washed over her.
That stupid dragon who had violated her had put this inside her. She hugged her stomach.
“We have to get it out before it grows spikes. It’ll puncture your uterus and kill you,” the older doctor said.
“Does that always happen?” Flora asked.
“No, not always. Few gals back in the day managed to carry the little dragons to term.”
“Gestation for a dragon, egg or womb, is ten days.”
She was on day five. Halfway there.
“On the final day, the dragon hatches.”
“He doesn’t know he isn’t in an egg. He’ll tear his way out, just the same.”
Tear his way out? Of her belly?
“Oh my God, oh my God,” Flora said. The horrific image of this tiny dragon bursting from her stomach filled her mind in a continuous loop.
“Best get her some sedatives, she looks about to panic,” the doctor said.
“Wait,” Flora said. She pulled her knees to her chest, curling into as small of a bundle as possible. The sight of the needle the nurse held snapped her out of her panic. “It’s still my kid, my choice, right?”
She wasn’t aware of any rule saying if you were pregnant with a dragon you had to abort it. Although it was probably so uncommon no one had thought an actual law needed to be passed.
The older doctor moved his tongue around in his mouth, making little bulges in his cheeks that reminded her too much of the dragon pawing and pushing on her tummy in an effort to force its away out. She wondered if he was doing it on purpose.
“No rule, but low chance of survival for you or the dragon.”
“I’d like some time to think about it.”
“You’re on day five,” he said. “It starts growing lungs on day seven, including harder scales and spikes.”
“I understand.” She believed she did. The staff left her to dress. She signed some papers, checked her watch and decided to try reaching the temple before it closed the doors for the day. She needed her best friend more than ever, even if he was currently being a jerk.

Meant to bring harmony to the Earth after years of turmoil from the dragon invasion, Elemental Dragons emerge and seek their human counterparts—Dragon Mages.

Deemed a threat to all current social orders and leaders, some seek to prevent the Elemental Dragons from finding their mages and attaining their true powers. Others offer a recruitment program, wanting to capitalize on their abilities.

Xander has spent most of his life loyal to the dragon king, who adopted him as a hatchling. Upon his encounter with a human who can become his Dragon Mage, he feels his first independent desires and his loyalties are tested.

Kaylee never knew her background, or that much about dragons. Finding herself with a bloodline capable of making her into a powerful mage, she must decide which Elemental Dragon she desires to bond with, and which leader she wishes to align with.

The group chattered amongst themselves as dragons landed, shifted human, and walked up the stairs to the pyramid StarShine used as her home base. Zackariah tuned most of them out as he approached the entrance. Negotiations had failed and most of the day had been spent pushing the rebels out of the surrounding area. They’d finally reached a temporary truce and the rebel leader from the north was sending someone for them to meet tomorrow.
Xander caught up to Zackariah and matched his pace. His newly trimmed hair, only an inch at its longest point, was still distracting. “We might be able to end this if StarShine is willing to let the north region become their own territory.”
“Break the dragon-controlled California into two territories?” Zackariah asked.
“I have a feeling that will make northern California a safe haven for criminals and unruly dragons.”
“Is that so bad? So long as they don’t leave that area—”
“And how long do you think they’ll be satisfied with only a small area of land? How long until they start spreading and claiming more?”
“We could make it very clear—”
“Xander!” Kaylee’s forceful shout reached them as they crossed the threshold into the building. She stood in the mud room as dragons parted around her to continue on. She focused on Xander, who quickly halted. Zackariah didn’t stop and began to pass her.
“You dirty liar!” Kaylee said. These words caught Zackariah’s attention and he stopped. He watched as she stepped up to Xander and screamed in his face. “I can’t believe you lied to me about everything. How could you not tell me? What were you thinking? How could you possibly do this?”
She started hitting him, a vicious pounding of her small fists on his chest. Dragons stopped to stare at the scene. Xander didn’t seem to know what to do. He simply stood there and let her hit him, not even defending himself with words. She raised her right hand and slapped Xander across the cheek. The sound echoed in the hall and Zackariah looped one arm around her middle. He pulled her away from Xander and placed himself between them. He gave her a shove away from himself and she quickly recovered the ground and attempted to pass him to resume her assault.
Zackariah put a palm to her chest and pushed her back again. “You’d best have a good reason for assaulting a dragon in my presence, human.”
He stressed the last word so she would understand exactly what she was doing. Touching between a dragon and human was forbidden. He’d made an exception for Xander and Kaylee based off the fact Xander couldn’t make an Enukara. But quarrels between dragons and humans were not tolerated, escpecially violent ones. Domestic dispute or not, she was breaking a foundational rule of the social structure Zackariah had in place to keep the peace.
Even the damn rebels in California hadn’t been stupid enough to attack any human settlements. Zackariah would have given Ronnie free range to burn the lot of them, if they had.
“S-sorry,” Kaylee said. She took a step back to remove Zackariah’s hand from her.
“I didn’t ask for an apology. I asked for your reason.”
“Let me talk to her,” Xander said. Zackariah raised his hand to stop him from whatever else he might want to say.
“No, tell me.” Zackariah watched her as she looked past him and at Xander. Her complexion darkened to a red tone and she balled her hands into tight fists.
“He never told me he was trying to make me his mage. He lied to me about the entire reason he brought me out here.”
Xander had said a lot of lies lately, but Zackariah had been explicitly clear on this one. Kaylee had barely finished her sentence before Zackariah turned to face Xander.
Zackariah struck him, directly where Kaylee had hit him moments ago. A slug from Zackariah held more impact than from a human and Xander fell, barely able to catch himself on his hands before hitting the floor.
Droplets of red blood splattered to the marble floor and Xander put the back of one hand to the fresh cut across his check.
“I told you to tell her before you took any action. What part of that request did you not understand?” Zackariah reached to pull Xander back to his feet when an unseen force pushed him away from Xander. He stumbled backward a few steps before he was able to regain his footing.
“Stop it!” Kaylee shouted. She dropped to her knees in front of Xander and cradled his head.
The dragons in the room all growled. They may not have been able to see what had caused Zackariah to stumble, but they’d all witnessed Kaylee interrupt and shout an order at their king.
He raised both his hands, halting the potential approach of any dragon. “It’s fine. Leave them be; no one touches either of them.”
He hadn’t noticed StarShine’s entrance, but she now stood next to him. “Did she just—”
“Yes.” Zackariah gestured for the gathered crowd to finish either entering or leaving, so the couple on the floor could sort things out.


She hadn’t been thinking. Why had she confronted Xander in front of the dragon king?
“Xander, I am so sorry.” The anger she’d felt moments ago faded as she cradled his injured head. For a moment, she’d thought Zackariah was going to kill him. And it was in that moment that she realized, despite how stupid he’d been and how much he’d betrayed her, she cared about him.
Xander kept his head lowered, his body hunched over in the position it had landed in during his fall. He kept himself stable with one hand and used the other, which had been holding his cut, to push her away.
“Xander, I didn’t think of how he would react. Please, let me help you.” She reached for him again and he sat up, pressing one hand against his face and blocking her with the other.
“No,” Xander said. “Don’t touch me.”
An arm wrapped around her waist again, an arm that had been there moments ago. She reached down and clutched the tanned skin with both her hands. Zackariah pulled her away from Xander, despite her struggles.
“Patch him up,” Zackariah said. The green-haired StarShine moved directly to Xander, lifting one of his arms over her shoulder. Another female took the other side and together they moved Xander from the entryway.
“No, stop, let me stay with him.” Kaylee squirmed more, and put all her weight on the arm, lifting her feet and kicking futilely in the air.
“In a minute,” Zackariah said. “First, you and I need to talk.”
He pressed her against his chest, keeping her high enough she now couldn’t touch the floor, even if she’d tried. He carried her into the library and dropped her promptly on her feet. She stepped a few feet away from his daunting presence.
“Do you even realize what you did in there?” Zackariah asked.
“I, uh, lost my tempter.” She clasped her hands together and bit her tongue. Zackariah kept his emotionless expression.
“Try again.”
“I disrespected you,” she said, nearly phrasing it as a question. “And for that I’m sorry.”
He turned away from her and went to some drawers on one of the bookshelves that lined the walls. He retrieved a golden candlestick holder and a white unused candle. He placed them together on the table and leaned close to the wick. A spark of fire came from his mouth and a flame burned on the candle.
“I didn’t know dragons could blow fire in human form,” Kaylee said.
“Not all dragons can,” Zackariah said. He put his hands on her again, one hand on each shoulder, and pushed her until she was against the wall, farthest from the lit candle. “Blow it out.”
“What? From here?”
“I can’t.”
“It’s impossible. It’s over twenty feet away from me.”
“I can’t.”
“I’m an immortal who doesn’t need to sleep. Trust me when I say you will not win this argument.”
She huffed at his stubborn nature and said nothing.
“Have her use the book,” a woman said from one of the many doorways. “She brought one in her bag. It’s full of spells. She went straight to it when she found out about the whole mage thing.”
“They cast using words,” Zackariah said, more to himself than to her. “Fetch it.”
The woman, the one who had been braiding her hair, and now had two perfectly styled French braids, left to obey his order.
“You want me to blow out that candle with mage magic?” Kaylee asked.
“I’m not Xander’s mage.”
“Your bond may not be strong, but it is there. You used his powers to push me away from him.”
“Or he did that himself. Did that thought occur to you?”
Braid girl returned and held the book out.
“Take it,” Zackariah said.
Kaylee rolled her eyes and took the book.
“Find a spell in it for putting out fire and say it,” Zackariah said.
The braid girl moved back to the doorway but didn’t leave.
“After I do this, you’ll let me go tend to Xander?” Kaylee asked.
She opened the book and flipped to the section on storm elementals, since that was what she’d been told Xander was. The words were written in a language she didn’t understand, but the phonetics were next to them, as well as the English meaning. She skimmed the pages until she found one that seemed mildly appropriate, and it said, wind spell to put out fire.
“Jadooye Baad Atash ra khamooshkon,” Kaylee said. She looked up from the text to see the candle’s flame was out. She glanced at Zackariah, who was also looking at the candle. “Did you put it out?”
“No.” Zackariah looked back at her. “You did.”
“No I didn’t. I just said a few words.”
Zackariah went to the candle, lit it again, and returned to her side. “Do it again.”
She memorized the text this time and spoke the foreign words while watching the flickering flame. It went out after she had spoken.
“That’s not possible.”
“Congratulations, Kaylee. You’re a dragon mage.”
“No, I’m not. I’m not bonded to him. He said it himself.”
“Yes, and he’s been so reliable lately.”
She snapped her mouth shut with an audible clink of her teeth. He did have a good point.
“He’s never bonded with someone before. He either didn’t know how to tell if it worked, or he was lying to protect you from joining us on the battlefront.”
She’d forgotten about the battle. The other dragons had mentioned if she’d been a mage, she would have prevented today’s fight.
“The others were saying I could have prevented today’s battle,” Kaylee said.
“That’s right. And you’ll do just that tomorrow.”
Zackariah tapped the book. “So I suggest you start studying.” He looked up and tapped her forehead as well. “And maybe work on strengthening the bond with Xander.”
Kaylee wanted to object but did like the fact she could potentially save lives.
“What is the fight about?” If she was going to be part of it, she should at least know what she was fighting for.

The second generation of dragons, known for being a unified force of soldiers, have never grown to adulthood. Until now. Destiny is the first to reach maturity. Nurtured by the dragon king’s closest allies, she has become more than a killer—she wants to belong. But she doesn’t fit with any of the dragons or the humans.

As her first breeding day arrives, she must choose a mate. Her choice could deter a war, or led to the end of the dragon king’s reign.

The problem is, only one person knows how much is at stake, Jeremiah, whose drug abuse has left him barely functional. As Jeremiah’s life spirals, he realizes the end of all dragons hinges on his ability to stay sober enough to save the dragon king from his untimely destiny.


πŸ’• To be released Spring, 2019 πŸ’•

Seven hundred years after the initial dragon invasion, the world is now controlled by humans. Dragons have devolved into animals. They’ve lost their ability to shift into humans and with it, their intelligence. Humans enslave them like the animals they are, using them to power factories and in some countries, even eat and skin.

Brothers, Ellis and Wyatt believe the dragons have more potential than humankind give them. When they discover an escaped dragon in their barn, they know she’ll be killed if returned to her owners. They decide to take matters into their own hands and ask a drifter they met at a bar for help. He’s rumored to be a dragon whisperer and might just be the one to help the dragons rediscover who they are.


Nina Schluntz is a native to rural Nebraska. In her youth, she often wrote short stories to entertain her friends. Those ideas evolved into the novels she creates today.
Her husband continues to ensure her stories maintain a touch of realism as she delves into the science fiction and fantasy realm. And their kitty, a rescued Abyssinian, is always willing to stay up late to provide inspiration.
You can find Nina on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.
Her blog,, has updates on any current or upcoming novels, plus her thoughts on her most recent reads and movie viewings.


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  1. I like the characters use of magic on the cover. Congrats on the release. Bernie Wallace BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

  2. I Like the covers. The animals on them are fascinating

  3. Sounds like a great read nice cover :-)

  4. I like the covers. The graphics are great! Thanks for the giveaway!

  5. I like the covers-favorite would be Elemental Dragon Mages

    tiramisu392 (at)

  6. sounds so good and the cover is great.


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