Cover & Excerpt Reveal
by Ann Gimpel
A modern day psychiatrist and a dragon shifter stranded in time can’t escape their destiny, no matter how unlikely it seems.
A dragon shifter stirs and wakens in a cave beneath Inverness, deep in the Scottish Highlands. The cave’s the same and his hoard intact, yet something’s badly amiss. Determined to set whatever’s gone wrong to rights, Lachlan Moncrieffe ventures above ground—and wishes he hadn’t. His castle’s gone, replaced by ungainly row houses. Men aren’t wearing plaids, and women scarcely wear anything at all, particularly the woman who accosts him with unseemly banter. What manner of wench is she to dress so provocatively?
In Inverness for a year on a psychiatry fellowship, Dr. Maggie Hibbins watches an oddly dressed man pick his way out of a heather and gorse thicket. Even though it runs counter to her better judgment, she teases him about his strange attire. He looks so lost—and so unbelievably, knock-out gorgeous —she takes a chance and stands him a meal. Lachlan’s shock when he picks up a local newspaper at a pub is so palpable, Maggie jumps in with both feet.
She knew something was off, but the hard-to-accept truth bashes gaping holes in her equilibrium. He looks odd, sounds odd, acts odd because he’s a refugee from another era. Her half-baked seduction scheme takes a hike, but her carefully constructed life is still about to change forever. Born of powerful witches, Maggie runs headlong into the myth and magic that are her birthright.
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy RomancePurchase links: Amazon ARe iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Shifters, Dragons, Highlander, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 21, 2015 2nd ed.
Publisher: Dream Shadow Press
Excerpt & More
Kheladin listened to the rush of blood as his multi-chambered heart pumped. After eons of nothingness, it was a welcome sound. A cool, sandy floor pressed against his scaled haunches. One whirling eye flickered open, followed by the other.
Where am I? He peered around himself and blew out a sigh, followed by steam, smoke, and fire.
Thanks be to Dewi— Kheladin invoked the blood-red Celtic dragon goddess— I am still in my cave. It smelled right, but I wasna certain.
He rotated his serpent’s head atop his long, sinuous neck. Vertebrae cracked. Kheladin lowered his head and scanned the place he and Lachlan, his human bond mate, had barricaded themselves into. It might have only been days ago, but somehow, it didn’t seem like days, or even months or a few years. His body felt rusty, as if he hadn’t used it in centuries.
How long did I sleep?
He shook his head. Copper scales flew everywhere, clanking against a pile that had formed around him. More than anything, the glittery heap reinforced his belief that he’d been asleep for a very long time. Dragons shed their scales annually. From the looks of the pile circling his body, he’d gone through hundreds of molt cycles. But how? The last thing he remembered was retreating to the cave far beneath Lachlan’s castle and working with the mage to construct strong wards.
. . .
. . .
“We’re awake.” Lachlan’s voice hummed in the dragon’s mind.
“Aye, that we are.”
“How long did we sleep?”
“I doona know.” Water streamed down the dragon’s snout and neck. He knew what would come next; he didn’t have to wait long.
“Let us shift. We think better in my body.” Lachlan urged Kheladin to cede ascendency.
“Ye only think that is true.” Kheladin pushed back. “I was figuring things out afore ye woke.”
“Aye, I’m certain ye were, but…” But what? “Och aye, my brain is thick and fuzzy, as if I havena used it for a verra long time.”
“Mine feels the same.”
. . .
. . .
It took half a dozen attempts. Kheladin was far weaker than he’d imagined and Lachlan so feeble he was almost an impediment. Finally, once a shower of scales cleared, Lachlan’s emaciated body stood barefoot and naked in the cave.
. . .
. . .
The dragon’s words settled him. Ashamed of his indecisiveness, Lachlan got to his feet, brushed dirt off his plaid, and worked his way through the bushes hiding the cave’s entrance. As he untangled stickers from the finely spun wool of his cloak and his plaid, he gawked at a very different world from the one he’d left. There wasn’t a field—or an animal—in sight. Roadways paved with something other than dirt and stones were punctuated by structures so numerous, they made him dizzy. The hideous incursion onto his lands stretched in every direction. Lachlan balled his hands into fists. He’d find out what had happened, by God. When he did, he’d make whoever had erected all those abominations take them down.
An occasional person walked by in the distance. They shocked him even more than the buildings and roads. For starters, the males weren’t wearing plaids, so there was no way to tell their clan. Females were immodestly covered. Many sported bare legs and breeks so tight he saw the separation between their ass cheeks. Lachlan’s groin stirred, cock hardening. Were the lassies no longer engaging in modesty or subterfuge and simply asking to be fucked? Or was this some new garb that befit a new era?
. . .
. . .
“Holy crap! A kilt, and an old-fashioned one at that. Tad bit early in the day for a costume ball, isn’t it?” A rich female voice laced with amusement, sounded behind him.
Lachlan spun, hands raised to call magic. He stopped dead once his gaze settled on a lass nearly as tall as himself, which meant she was close to six feet. She turned so she faced him squarely. Bare legs emerged from torn fabric that stopped just south of her female parts. Full breasts strained against scraps of material attached to strings tied around her neck and back. Her feet were encased in a few straps of leather. Long, blonde hair eddied around her, the color of sheaves of summer wheat.
His cock jumped to attention. His hands itched to make a grab for her breasts or her ass. She had an amazing ass: round and high and tight. What was expected of him? The lass was dressed in such a way as to invite him to simply tear what passed for breeks aside and enter her. Had times changed so drastically that women provoked men into public sex? He glanced about, half expecting to see couples having it off with one another willy-nilly.
“Well,” she urged. “Cat got your tongue?” She placed her hands on her hips. The motion stretched the tiny bits of flowered fabric that barely covered her nipples still further.
Lachlan bowed formally, straightened, and waited for her to hold out a hand for him to kiss. “I am Lachlan Moncrieffe, my lady. It is a pleasure to—”
She erupted into laughter—and didn’t hold out her hand. “I’m Maggie,” she managed between gouts of mirth. “What are you? A throwback to medieval times? You can drop the Sir Galahad routine.”
Lachlan felt his face heat. “I fear I do not understand the cause of your merriment … my lady.”
Maggie rolled her midnight blue eyes. “Oh, brother. Did you escape from a mental hospital? Nah, you’d be in pajamas then, not those fancy duds.” She dropped her hands to her sides and started to walk past him.
“No. Wait. Please, wait.” Lachlan cringed at the whining tone in his voice. The dragon was correct that the Moncrieffe was a proud house. They bowed to no one.
She eyed him askance. “What?”
“I am a stranger in this town.” He winced at the lie. Once upon a time, he’d been master of these lands. Apparently that time had long since passed. “I am footsore and hungry. Where might I find victuals and ale?”
Her eyes widened. Finely arched blonde brows drew together over a straight nose dotted by a few freckles. “Victuals and ale,” she repeated disbelievingly.
“Aye. Food and drink, in the common vernacular.”
“Oh, I understood you well enough,” Maggie murmured. “Your words, anyway. Your accent’s a bit off.” His stomach growled again, embarrassingly loud. “Guess you weren’t kidding about being hungry.” She eyed him appraisingly. “Do you have any money?”
Money. Too late he thought of the piles of gold coins and priceless gems lying on the floor of Kheladin’s cave. In the world he’d left, his word had been as good as his gold. He opened his mouth, but she waved him to silence. “I’ll stand you for a pint and some fish and chips. You can treat me next time.”
He heard her mutter, “Yeah right,” under her breath as she curled a hand around his arm and tugged. “Come on. I have a couple of hours and then I’ve got to go to work. I’m due in at three today.”
Lachlan trotted along next to her. She let go of him like he was a viper when he tried to close a hand over the one she’d laid so casually on his person. He cleared his throat and wondered what he could safely ask that wouldn’t give his secrets away. He could scarcely believe this alien landscape was Scotland, but if he asked what country they were in, or what year it was, she’d think him mad. He wondered if the black wyvern had used some diabolical dark magic to transport his cave to another locale, and then thought better of it. Even Rhukon wasn’t that powerful.
“In here.” She pointed to a door beneath a flashing sigil. He gawked at it. One minute it was red, the next blue, the next green, illuminating the word Open. What manner of magic was this? “Don’t tell me you have temporal lobe epilepsy.” She stared at him. “It’s only a neon sign. It doesn’t bite. Move on through the door. There’s food on the other side,” she added slyly.
Feeling like a rube, Lachlan searched for a latch, didn’t find one, and pushed his shoulder against the door. It opened, and he held it with a hand so Maggie could enter first. “After you, my lady,” he murmured.
“Stop that.” She spoke into his ear as she went past. “No more my ladies. Got it?”
“I think so.” He followed her into a low ceilinged room lined with wooden planks. It was the first thing that looked familiar. Parts of it, anyway. Men—kilt-less men—sat at the bar, hefting glasses and chatting. The tables were empty.
“What’ll it be, Mags?” a man with a towel tied around his waist called from behind the bar.
“Couple of pints and two of today’s special. Come to think of it,” she eyed Lachlan, “make that three of the special.”
“May I inquire just what the special is?” Lachlan asked, thinking he might want to order something different.
Maggie waved a hand at a black board suspended over the bar. “You can read?”
“Of course.” He resented the inference he might be uneducated but swallowed back harsh words.
“Excellent. Then move.” She shoved her body into his in a distressingly familiar way for such a communal location. Not that he wouldn’t have enjoyed the contact if they were alone and he were free to take advantage of it… “All the way to the back,” she hissed into his ear. “That way if you slip up, no one will hear.”
He bristled. Lachlan Moncrieffe did not sit in the back of any establishment. He was always given a choice table near the center of things. He opened his mouth to protest but thought better of it.
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Be on the lookout for Ann Gimpel's upcoming releases: Earth’s Requiem coming Oct 2013 and Earth’s Blood coming late 2013
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