Read An Excerpt

by Katie MacAlister

Genre: Shapeshifter, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy

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"Ah, you’re awake.”

My eyelids, leaden weights that they were, finally managed to hoist themselves open. I stared
directly into the dark brown eyes of a woman whose face was located less than an inch from mine, and
screamed in surprise. “Aaagh!”

She leaped backwards as I sat up, my heart beating madly, a faint, lingering pain leaving me with the
sensation that my brain itself was bruised.

“Who are you? Are you part of the dream? You are, aren’t you? You’re just a dream,” I said, my
voice a croak. I touched my lips. They were dry and cracked. “Except those people were in some sort of
medieval clothing, and you’re wearing pants. Still, it’s incredibly vivid, this dream. It’s not as interesting
as the last one, but still interesting and vivid. Very vivid. Enough that I’m lying here babbling to myself
during it.”

“I’m not a dream, actually,” the in-my-face dream woman said. “And you’re not alone, so if you’re
babbling, it’s to me.”

I knew better than to leap off the bed, not with the sort of headache I had. Slowly, I slid my legs off
the edge of the bed, and wondered if I stood up, if I’d stop dreaming and wake up to real life.
As I tried to stand, the dream lady seized my arm, holding on to me as I wobbled on my unsteady

Her grip was anything but dreamlike. “You’re real,” I said with surprise.


“You’re a real person, not part of the dream?”

“I think we’ve established that fact.”

I felt an irritated expression crawl across my face—crawl because my brain hadn’t yet woken up
with the rest of me. “If you’re real, would you mind me asking why you were bent over me, nose-to-nose,
in the worst sort of Japanese horror movie way, one that guaranteed I’d just about wet myself the minute I
woke up?”

“I was checking your breathing. You were moaning and making noises like you were going to wake

“I was dreaming,” I said, as if that explained everything.

“So you’ve said. Repeatedly.” The woman, her skin the color of oiled mahogany, nodded. “It’s good.
You are beginning to remember. I wondered if the dragon within would not speak to you in such a

Dim little warning bells went off in my mind, the sort that are set off when you’re trapped in a small
room with someone who is obviously a few weenies short of a cookout. “Well, isn’t this just lovely. I feel
like something a cat crapped, and I’m trapped in a room with a crazy lady.” I clapped a hand over my
mouth, appalled that I spoke the words rather than just thought them. “Did you hear that?” I asked around
my fingers.

She nodded. I let my hand fall. “Sorry. I meant no offense. It’s just that . . . well . . . you know. Dragons? That’s
kind of out there.”

A slight frown settled between her brows. “You look a bit confused.”

“You get the understatement of the year tiara. Would it be rude to ask who you are?” I gently rubbed
my forehead, letting my gaze wander around the room.

“My name is Kaawa. My son is Gabriel Tauhou, the silver wyvern.”

“A silver what?”

She was silent, her eyes shrewd as they assessed me. “Do you really think that’s necessary?”

“That I ask questions or rub my head? It doesn’t matter—both are, yes. I always ask questions
because I’m a naturally curious person. Ask anyone; they’ll tell you. And I rub my head when it feels like
it’s been stomped on, which it does.”

Another silence followed that statement. “You are not what I expected.”

My eyebrows were working well enough to rise at that statement. “You scared the crap out of me by
staring at me from an inch away, and I’m not what you expected? I don’t know what to say to that since I
don’t have the slightest idea who you are, other than your name is Kaawa and you sound like you’re
Australian, or where I am, or what I’m doing here beyond napping. How long have I been sleeping?”

She glanced at the clock. “Five weeks.”

I gave her a look that told her she should know better than to try to fool me. “Do I look like I just
rolled off the gullible wagon? Wait—Gareth put you up to this, didn’t he? He’s trying to pull my leg.”

“I don’t know a Gareth,” she said, moving toward the end of the bed.

“No . . .” I frowned as my mind, still groggy from the aftereffects of a long sleep, slowly chugged to
life. “You’re right. Gareth wouldn’t do that—he has absolutely no sense of humor.”

“You fell into a stupor five weeks and two days ago. You have been asleep ever since.”

A chill rolled down my spine as I read the truth in her eyes. “That can’t be.”

“But it is.”

“No.” Carefully, very carefully, I shook my head. “It’s not time for one; I shouldn’t have one for
another six months. Oh god, you’re not a deranged madwoman from Australia who lies to innocent
people, are you? You’re telling me the truth! Brom! Where’s Brom?”

“Who is Brom?”

Panic had me leaping to my feet when my body knew better. Immediately, I collapsed onto the floor
with a loud thud. My legs felt like they were made of rubber, the muscles trembling with strain. I ignored
the pain of the fall and clawed at the bed to get back to my feet. “A phone. Is there a phone? I must have a

The door opened as I stood up, still wobbling, the floor tilting and heaving under my feet.

“I heard a—oh. I see she’s up. Hello, Ysolde.”

“Hello.” My stomach lurched along with the floor. I clung to the frame of the bed for a few seconds
until the world settled down the way it should be. “Who are you?”

She shot a puzzled look to the other woman. “I’m May. We met before, don’t you remember?”

“Not at all. Do you have a phone, May?”

If she was surprised by that question, she didn’t let on. She simply pulled a cell phone out of the
pocket of her jeans and handed it to me. I took it, staring at her for a moment. There was something about
her, something that seemed familiar ... and yet, I was sure I’d never seen her before.

Mentally, I shook away the fancies and began to punch in a phone number, but paused when I
realized I had no idea where I was. “What country is this?”

May and Kaawa exchanged glances. May answered. “England. We’re in London. We thought it was
better not to move you very far, although we did take you out of Drake’s house since he was a bit crazy,
what with the twins being born and all.”

“London,” I said, struggling to peer into the black abyss that was my memory. There was nothing
there, but that wasn’t uncommon after an episode. Luckily, a few wits remained to me, including the
ability to remember my phone number.