Dragon Maid by Ann Gimpel Excerpt

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Dragon Maid (Dragon Lore #2)

  • By Ann Gimpel
  • Editions: ebook
  • Published: January 1st 2014 by Taliesin Publishing
  • Genre: Adult Paranormal / Romance
  • Jonathan Shea is a software engineer. When pressed, he admits to being a closet witch, but he’s always been a shade ambivalent about his magic—until a dragon shows up in Inverness, and then all bets are off. Along with others in his coven, Jonathan is both charmed and captivated by the creature fresh out of legend.
    Britta is a dragon shifter. Dragged from the Middle Ages by the Celtic gods, she and her dragon prepare for a battle to save Earth. The first human she lays eyes on in modern times is Jonathan. There’s something about him. She can’t quite pinpoint it, but he has way more magic than any witch she’s ever come across before. Aside from magic, Jonathan is drop dead gorgeous. For the first time ever, Britta questions the wisdom of remaining a maid.
    Surrounded by dragon shifters, Celtic gods, Selkies, and a heaping portion of magic, Jonathan comes into his own fast. Good thing, too, because fell creatures have targeted him, Britta, and the dragons. In the midst of chaos, he finds passion so poignant and love so heartbreakingly tender, it will change his life forever.
    ~ Bewitching BT

    Amazon

    Dragon Maid Banner 851 x 315

    Excerpt


    ” …Jonathan tried not to stare, but it was a losing battle. The woman—no, the dragon

    shifter—was the most perfect, the most alluring, creature he’d ever laid eyes on. Tall, with high,

    rounded breasts, a slender waist, and curvy hips, she looked like a goddess. Who knew? Maybe

    she was. The Celts had had many deities. He fumbled with his rucksack, pulled out a turkey

    sandwich on rye bread, and handed it to her.

    She yanked the wrappings aside, dropped them onto the floor, and stuffed food into

    her mouth, chewing quickly. “Ye said there were two of these meat and bread things.” Britta

    surveyed him, golden eyes alight with interest.

    “Yes, I did. If I give you both, I’ll be hungry.”

    She shrugged. “Not my problem. Also, I requested mead.”

    Jonathan’s lips twitched. He corralled the smile that wanted out. Britta was an imperious

    bitch, yet there was something so undeniably appealing about her straightforward nature, it

    was impossible to feel offended. “No mead. At least I don’t have any. We could ask the other

    witches, or if we found you some clothes, we could go into the city and buy a proper meal, and

    as much to drink as you wanted.”

    She cocked her head to one side and popped the last bite of sandwich into her mouth. “I

    can go as I am. Shall we walk or use magic, witch?”

    “Um, no, you can’t. You’d be arrested.”

    She tilted her chin up. “Why? I can see where I might freeze to death, but who would

    give a jolly fuck whether I’m dressed or not?”

    Before he could craft an explanation, Kheladin stalked over, trailed by three female

    witches stroking the scales on his lower body. “Lachlan kept a clothes chest against the far wall.”

    He pointed with a talon. “I am certain some of his shirts and tights would work, though there’s

    little to be done by way of shoes.”

    Her gaze landed on a particularly large heap of gold jewelry and coins. “I could borrow a

    bit of money from your hoard, just a coin or two, and—”

    Kheladin’s eyes whirled faster, glittering dangerously. “I doona think so.”

    “Well then,” Britta turned a brilliant smile on Jonathan and tapped his chest with her

    index finger, “he can buy me what I need.” Magic shimmered around her. “Come close, witch.

    We are leaving.”

    Kheladin stumped to Britta’s side. The counter spell he summoned to dampen her power

    sparkled; strands wrapped around her. Her lips curled in fury, and she raised her hands to call

    magic of her own. “Not so fast,” Kheladin snapped. “First, ye’ve forgotten ye need clothes.

    Second, Tarika was in an all-fired hurry to find me. Such a big hurry, ye went without food or

    rest. Why?”

    Britta shook her head so hard her hair danced about her body. She swept the heels of her

    hands down her cheeks, distorting her perfect features. “Och aye, whatever is wrong with me?

    Nay, I know the answer. The Morrigan is furious because Lachlan triumphed over the black and

    red wyverns, and their dragon shifter mages.”

    “Good the old battle crow even noticed,” Kheladin growled and breathed a fiery gout of

    flames.

    “She did more than notice. She cast a spell to disrupt our memories. If ye wouldna

    have reminded me… Hell, ’tis surprised I am we got here at all. The Celtic gods, Gwydion and

    Arawn, sent us to warn you and Lachlan. They told us their magic would trump hers, but not

    forever.” One corner of her mouth turned down. “’Twould appear I just ran up against forever.

    Or mayhap their magic got subverted by your wards.”

    “What impact has the Morrigan’s mischief had on the rest of our kind?”

    “Those in Fire Mountain are safe so long as they remain there. The casting only traps

    them when they set foot on Earth.”

    “Did the Celts try to neutralize it?”

    She cast a look Kheladin’s way that said he should ask something worth her time

    answering. Johnathan watched the exchange, chest tight with excitement, feeling he’d fallen into

    one of the old tales where heroes and heroines walked amongst humans.

    “All right. Let me try again.” Kheladin sounded exasperated. “Did the Morrigan wake the

    black wyvern’s mage, Rhukon?”

    “’Twas the first thing she did.”

    “So all our effort was for naught.” The dragon clanked his jaws together. “I must alert

    Lachlan. Where did the Celts find you?”

    Britta rolled her eyes. “Not in Fire Mountain, though I admit Tarika and I retreated there

    after Rhukon, Connor, and their dragons teamed with the Morrigan, and things werena looking

    good. Nay, the Celts plucked us out of the sixteen hundreds, told us enough about what the

    future held to alarm us, and sent us on our way. I am far from certain, but it seems they might be

    gathering reinforcements beyond Tarika and me, so ye and Lachlan willna have to fight alone.”

    Kheladin inclined his head. “Thank you for coming.”

    A warm smile lit her face. It softened her features and made her look barely more than a

    girl. Jonathan’s cock stiffened where it pressed against his jeans. Breath caught in his throat, and

    he fought against touching her, running his hands down her golden skin. He drew magic around

    himself to mask his lust, make it unobtrusive, but she noticed anyway.

    Britta turned an appraising glance his way. “Aye, ye’d do well to hide your rut from me.”

    Embarrassed at being caught out but curious, too, he asked, “Why?”

    She tossed her head at Kheladin. “Tell him, dragon. Mayhap he’ll believe it if he hears it

    from another, ahem, male.” Her last word dripped sarcasm.

    Kheladin blew so much steam he looked like an old-fashioned train. Jonathan bristled.

    Worse, his cock didn’t seem to be in the mood for retreat. He tried for dignity. “Look. If it’s all

    the same to you, I’d just as soon move on. I withdraw my question.”

    “Nay.” Kheladin got his mirth under control. “Many have tried to mate with Tarika—and

    Britta too. I believe they fancy themselves reincarnations of Artemis. ’Tis why they bonded one

    to the other.”

    Jonathan’s brows crawled up his forehead. “The virgin huntress?”

    “Good ye know your mythology.” Kheladin clanged his jaws shut for the second time.

    “I thought you were Celtic,” Jonathan sputtered. “Artemis was Greek.”

    Kheladin bathed him in smoke until he bent over coughing. “I picked a deity ye might

    recognize, witch. Most of our goddesses have fallen out of human memory. How Britta is isna

    entirely her fault, though.”

    She put her hands on her hips and glared. Breasts peeked through a curtain of hair. “I’m

    not sure whether to thank you or let Tarika out to throttle you. How would I have had the time to

    either find a mate or attend to him once found?”

    “Lachlan dinna have a wife, either.” Kheladin’s tone was mild.

    “Aye, but he fucked enough women to make up for it.” Britta narrowed her eyes. “As I

    recall, there was a string of housekeepers in addition to a bevy of local maids.”

    “He was laird of Clan Moncrieffe. ’Twas natural enough maids would wish to be his

    lady.” Kheladin defended his shifter bond mate.

    Jonathan felt as if he’d wandered in at the midpoint of a very old argument. He cleared

    his throat. “Was there a specific reason neither dragon shifter wed?”

    Britta snorted. “Ye know nothing of what it takes to become a dragon shifter. I studied

    long—as did Lachlan—and forsook much. A man would have just gotten in my way, as would

    bairns. I could have made certain I dinna conceive, but what man doesna wish heirs?”

    Kheladin leaned closer to Jonathan. “Her da was a powerful mage and laird of Cumbria.

    Many a swain wished to share her bed—and her dowry.”

    “Men! Cretins, the lot of them!” Britta threw a hand in the air, spun, and strode toward

    where Kheladin had indicated Lachlan’s clothing chest was.

    Jonathan cleared his throat and sent a thought to Kheladin since he didn’t want to be the

    butt of Britta’s scorn. “Temperamental, isn’t she?”

    “Ye doona know the half of it, laddie. Yet she is courageous—and

    compassionate. ’Twasn’t accidental the gods picked her to locate us.”

    “Guess I’ll wait until she’s dressed and then take her into Inverness. We can find more

    clothes, some shoes, and a meal.”

    “Aye, and then ye must return here. While ye’re gone, I’ll raise Lachlan.”

    “Whatever are the two of you whispering about in mind speech? Sounds like a buzzing

    beehive over here.” Britta sashayed to them wrapped in a cream-colored linen shirt that fell just

    south of her groin. A pair of black tights was draped over her arm.

    Jonathan eyed her. “Are you going to put those on?”

    She focused her golden eyes on him and slowly, deliberately, shook out the tights and

    rolled one leg. Still watching him intently, she raised her leg, giving him a clear view of tight

    red-gold curls before she shoved it into the woolen pants. Heat raced through him; it was so

    intense he could barely breathe. His cock strained against his pants. For one long, awkward

    moment, he was afraid he’d come in his shorts.

    For Christ’s sake. I haven’t had this much trouble controlling myself since I was a

    teenager twenty years ago. Because he couldn’t force himself to look away, he squeezed his eyes

    shut and thought about breathing. Just breathing. Not about burying himself to the hilt inside her

    gorgeous pussy. His cock jerked. It didn’t want breathing. It wanted fucking and reminded him it

    had been months since he’d paid any attention to his sexual needs.

    Time passed. Kheladin’s energy pulsed to one side. Jonathan could pick out witches he

    knew from how their psychic emanations felt. Maybe I should get one of the women to feed her

    and get her some shoes…

    “Och aye, and that wouldna be nearly this much fun,” she purred.

    He pinched the bridge of his nose between two fingers. “Stay out of my head. A man’s

    thoughts need to be, well, private.”

    She ignored his plea. “Do ye think I’m dressed enough to be decent?” Her scent eddied

    closer, lavender, musk, and something he couldn’t identify. Maybe amber. “Ye’ll need to open

    those lovely eyes to answer me.”

    He felt her magic zing into him; his eyes snapped open, and he took a couple of steps

    back. “The only way this is going to work,” he gritted out, “is if you stop teasing me with your

    body. It really is incredible, but I’m sure you already know that.”

    “Is it now? I have lived amongst dragons and our mages for so long, I’d nearly forgotten.

    But now ye are near and fawning, I find I’ve missed human attention.”

    “We all have,” Kheladin cut in. “Yon lad has a point. His cock is ready to burst from his

    pants. If ye expect him to sit with you, share a meal and mayhap information about this era—

    about which ye know nothing, I might add—ye will need to behave better.”

    “I doona understand.” Britta drew her perfect brows together. “He can simply tap a

    serving wench, satisfy his lust, and return to my side.”

    Jonathan chuckled. “Ha! I always wondered what it was truly like a few hundred years

    back. There aren’t too many handy serving wenches willing to lift their skirts—or drop their

    pants, more likely—these days. I’d have to wine them, dine them, at least pretend to care—”

    She waved him to silence. “I am starting to understand. I willna flaunt myself, though ’tis

    great fun to know I can still heat a man’s blood.”

    Heat a man’s blood, is it? He bit back a laugh at the idea and the Gaelic inflection in

    his thoughts. For a moment, he’d sounded just like his da. “You do way more than that.” He let

    himself look at her. The tights were in place, waist string tied, but she had yet to button the shirt.

    Apparently sensing his thoughts, she hastily looped square, wooden buttons into their holes.

    She held her arms to the side and twirled in place. “There. Will I do?”

    He found he could breathe again. Although still aroused, the desperate edge had receded.

    Jonathan nodded. “Yes. Your magic or mine?”

    “Yours. I am still depleted from my travels.”

    He glanced at Kheladin, now surrounded by ten witches, all patting and fussing over him.

    The dragon almost glowed beneath their attention. “How soon do you need us back?”

    Kheladin bathed him in steam. “I would verra much like to tell you to take your time, but

    I fear ’tis something we may well be running short of. Enjoy a meal. Find the lass some footwear

    and a warm jacket. Mayhap other clothes that fit her better. Then return.”

    “Ye can link to me if something happens,” Britta said.

    Kheladin included her in the steam bath. “Aye, ’tis been long since I’ve had another

    dragon shifter—at least one on our side—near to hand. Thanks to you again for coming.”

    “My pleasure. Once we return, Tarika and I want to know about the magic that allows

    ye and Lachlan the freedom of your bodies yet maintains the bond.” She turned to Jonathan. “I

    stand ready, witch.”

    “Wait.” Kheladin held up a foreleg and chanted a few notes mingled with fire. “There,

    my wards are open.”

    Jonathan threw his rucksack over a shoulder. He summoned magic, wrapped them in

    it, and aimed for a thick grove in one of Inverness’ many parks. If they got very lucky, they

    wouldn’t disturb a couple in the midst of enjoying one another. The cave’s walls glimmered,

    thinned, and turned to black as he ferried them away from Kheladin and the phalanx of adoring

    witches.

    Providence was on his side. It was dim where he brought them out in a thick hawthorn

    grove. And cold. He slid his iPhone from a pocket and glanced at the time. Just closing on seven.

    Not so bad, except it meant they’d need to shop first, else the stores would shut for the night.

    Britta inhaled noisily. “It smells odd.” She drew closer to him. “Is the air poisoned?”

    “It’s just car exhaust. The air’s better here than in a truly big city.”

    “Car exhaust? Neither word means aught.”

    Where to begin? “Let’s get you some clothes. I’ll explain what I can over dinner. In the

    meantime, it might be best if you didn’t ask too many questions.”

    She drew herself up and squared her shoulders. “And why not?”

    “You don’t want people to think you’re odd. Or that you don’t belong here.”

    A shiver ran through her body. He glanced down and saw her shift from one bare foot

    to the next on chill, damp ground. “Come on.” He hooked a hand beneath her arm and tugged.

    “Shoes first. Then clothes.”

    She fell into step beside him. “They will have to measure me. It takes several days to

    craft a pair of boots.”

    “Not anymore. We’ll find what you need readymade.”

    “Really? Will the quality be acceptable?”

    Spoken like a true countess. “Probably not, but you’ll make do. It’s better than being cold

    and barefoot.” He tightened his hold on her arm, wanting to protect her, care for her. It would

    take her time to get used to the modern world—if she stayed here long enough to learn about it.

    Jonathan examined the feelings coursing through him. Was it possible she’d snared him in some

    sort of spell?

    “I did no such thing.” Enough outrage ran beneath her words, he believed her.

    “Look here.” He kept his voice low. “You have to stay out of my thoughts.”

    “But how else will I know about them?”

    He chuckled. “How about if you ask me questions and satisfy yourself with what I’m

    willing to share. Turn this way.” He pushed open a swinging door and followed her into a

    brightly lit shoe store. He blinked a few times to ease the transition from daylight to neon.

    She shielded her eyes with a hand. “What manner of magic creates light this strong?”

    “Hush. We call it electricity. Come on.” He guided her to a display rack and selected a

    serviceable pair of lace up boots. “What do you think of these?”

    She wrinkled her nose. “They’re ugly and shoddily made.” She flicked a loose thread

    with a fingertip.

    “Then you pick something.”

    She glanced about and trailed her hands over tennis shoes and sandals as she walked

    through the store. After oohing and aahing over several pairs of high heels, she let him guide her

    back to the place they’d begun. “Britta. It’s summer, but the nights are always on the chilly side.

    Your feet will get cold unless you get sturdy boots and socks. How about if we try these.” He

    pointed. “And those.” He pointed again.

    “I suppose ye’re right. Do ye think either could be dyed black?”

    A clerk had been hovering. “We have that style in black, ma’am. What size should I

    get for you?” He glanced down and inhaled audibly. “B-but you’re barefoot. Your feet must be

    freezing.”

    Color stained Britta’s cheeks. “’Tisn’t so bad as all that, laddie.”

    Jonathan thought quickly. He closed his hand around Britta’s arm and gave it a warning

    squeeze, hoping she’d understand not to contradict him. “My sister just gave birth. Err,

    twins. Her feet got bigger. Much bigger. Nothing fits but her house slippers, and she was too

    embarrassed to wear them. How about if you measure her?”

    “Certainly. If you’d just sit over there?” The clerk gestured to a bank of chairs.

    After shooting Jonathan an annoyed look, Britta followed the clerk.

    An hour later, they had two pairs of shoes, one black, one brown, socks, underwear,

    three pairs of warm corduroy pants, sweaters, T-shirts, and two jackets. Jonathan was a thousand

    pounds poorer but considered the funds well spent. She’d stopped trying to seduce him from the

    moment they’d left Kheladin’s cave, which meant he’d simply enjoyed her company.

    She led the way out of the clothing store he’d selected after they finished with the shoe

    store and turned to him. “Can we get something to eat now?” Both of them were laden with bags.

    “Sure. What do you feel like?”

    She leaned close. “I doona know. Everything here is so strange, I feel I am playacting, yet

    without knowing my lines. Pick something. Simple food and stiff spirits.”

    “Have you heard anything from Kheladin?”

    She shook her head. “Nay, but Tarika isna pleased. She believes we waste valuable

    time. ’Tis possible she will settle once we find food. She is hungry.”

    Jonathan considered their options. He didn’t want to bring her to a noisy pub where

    they’d have to strain to hear one another. Nor did he want a nightclub. He looked up and down

    one of Inverness’ main streets. His gaze settled on a smallish place where a sign promised

    EXCELLENT FOOD IN AN INTIMATE ATMOSPHERE. Sounded perfect.

    “Let’s try over there. Maybe we’ll have enough privacy to answer some of those

    questions I’ve seen dancing behind your eyes.”

    She smiled at him. Really smiled without coquettish edges. “Ye’ve been truly kind to me.

    I apologize for…well, for how I was earlier. I shouldna have been such a tease.”

    “Apology accepted. I do understand, though.”

    She cocked her head to one side. “Do ye?”

    He grinned. “Sure. Sex is power. Or it can be. But being friends is better.”

    She grinned back. “To friendship, then. Find us a bottle, and we can drink to it.” ”

    About the Author & Links:


    Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published 19 books to date, with several more contracted for 2014.

    A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.

    Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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    2 thoughts on “Dragon Maid by Ann Gimpel Excerpt

    1. anngimpel

      Thanks so much for hosting me, Livia! It’s a pleasure to be here. One of the best parts of these virtual tours is all the great blogs I discover along the way.

      Reply

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