It began so innocently...but it didn't stay that way. After saying a spell from a magic dragon book to entertain her nieces, Tina finds herself with a wounded dragon on her lawn. He doesn't stay a dragon for long. He turns into the most luscious man she's ever seen. In the dragon's world, every woman has two lovers-her Protector and her Warrior. To survive, the three of them must Join. Tina knows the perfect man to claim as her Warrior-strong, powerful and sexual. Now she has to convince him to Join with her...permanently.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from By Daylight Come by Tielle St. Clare
Tina listened to her nieces giggling as she walked up the stairs to the attic. It was almost time for their parents to come get them after their evening with "Aunt-T". About once a month, Tina took the girls for the evening so her sister and her husband could be alone. She usually tried to do it on the weekends but a Thursday night worked as well. Only one more day of work before the weekend.
"Hey guys, it's almost time to go."
"Wait. Aunt-T, you've got to see this."
Katrina, the oldest, lifted a heavy leather-bound book from her lap. Tina had never seen it before but the attic held treasures from generations past and no one really knew what was up here.
"What did you find, sweetie?"
"It's a book of magic," Elena announced, her eyes wide and filled with wonder.
"Magic? I didn't know there were any magic books up here."
Her crazy great-aunt Hilda had owned the cabin/house in the woods for thirty years. Upon her death, she'd willed it to Tina and her sister. Tina loved the isolation, even if it did mean an hour-long commute to work. The forest and the silence were worth it. She'd bought her sister's half of the cabin a year ago but still hadn't gone through her aunt's cluttered attic.
"It's dragon magic," Katrina said. She traced her fingertips across the elaborate dragon embossed on the cover. "Isn't it beautiful?" The awe that filled the child's voice aroused Tina's curiosity and she sat down beside her niece and looked over her shoulder.
"It's a lovely book. I've just never seen it before. I didn't know it was up here."
Katrina pushed it into her lap. "You should say a spell."
"Me?" Tina tried to push the book back.
"Yes," Katrina said. "There's a spell in here to call your true love. You should say it."
Tina shook her head. "I don't think so."
"But Mom says you need a man," Elena piped up.
Tina tried not to glare at her six-year-old niece for the words her mother had put in her mouth. Especially since it was true.
"Come on, Auntie. It will be fun."
Elena jumped up and down. "I wanna see a dragon."
"A dragon. Right." Tina looked into the hopeful faces of her nieces and sighed. She was a sucker for cute. "Fine, let's see this book." She flipped open the pages. Dragons illuminated every page along with words written in elaborate script. Spells to vanquish your enemies, create a storm and...Tina stopped on the page. Call Your True Loves.
"That's the one. Come on. Read it."
Tina ran her finger down the page. It seemed innocuous enough. Entertainment for the girls. Elena jumped up and down until Katrina--older and wiser at age nine--pulled her down beside her.
"Don't distract her. It's magic. She has to concentrate."
It was all Tina could do not to roll her eyes. Concentrate? To read a "magic spell". Yeah, right.
"Okay, here goes...
"By Dragon's Light and Dragon's Fire
"Bring me now my heart's desire
"Warrior, Maiden, Protector, Three
"By daylight come my Loves to me."
She finished the words and waited. And waited. The girls sat silent, listening intently to every creak the old house made. A heavy weight clogged the air around them.
The doorbell rang, shattering their anticipation.
All three gasped.
"He's here," Katrina breathed, her eyes popping open wide. Elena jumped up and started to scream. Waving for her niece to be quiet, Tina leaned over and peeked out the window that looked down on the driveway.
"Sorry to disappoint you. It's your parents. Come to take you home."
"But where is he?" Elena asked as Tina gathered the book and followed them down the stairs.
"Maybe it doesn't work immediately. Maybe you have to wait," Katrina said, obviously still hopeful.
Tina smiled. "Well, then I'll keep waiting." Yeah, right. I'm done waiting for Mister Right. I'm looking for Mister Well-Hung. But my nine year-old niece doesn't need to hear that.
She set the book on the couch and nagged her nieces to gather their stuff before opening the door and greeting her sister. Pam looked remarkably satisfied and a little rumpled and Tina couldn't resist saying so. Pam smiled.
"It's amazing what having the house to yourself for five straight hours will do for you." Her husband, Mike, stepped out of the car and waved. He also had an air of relaxation about him.
"Glad somebody's gettin' some," Tina said with a smile.
Pam laughed. "You could be, too. You just need to get out there."
"I've been 'out there'. I didn't care for it. And what's this business about telling your girls I need a man?"
"You do. It's got to be lonely living all the way out here by yourself and wouldn't it be nice to have a man to cuddle up next to on cold nights when your heating goes out."
"The only man I need when my heating goes out is the plumber."
Pam shook her head. "You're missing out. I think you should reconsider some of the men in town. Dane watches you like you're ice cream on a hot day."
Tina felt the center of her stomach fall away at the mere mention of his name. Dane Sheridan, sheriff, stud and...ex-husband to one of her best friends. Despite the intense attraction between them, that alone kept her from following through. Still, there had been that one time when they'd almost...
The girls came to the door, their backpacks slung over their shoulders. Tina ignored the brief, erotic memory and with hugs and kisses, sent them on their way.
The house was quiet when she walked back inside. She missed the girls when they left but also enjoyed the silence of her own space. Strolling into the living room, she stopped at the couch and traced her fingers across the cover of the book. The luminous eyes of the dragon seemed to stare at her--wise, solemn eyes with pale purple sparkles.
"Right," she said aloud. "I'm looking for a purple-eyed dragon to save me."
* * * * *
Tina stood in front of her class. They all had their heads down, focused intently on their tests. With only a few minutes left in class and no one having completed the test, she considered the fact that she might have made it too long. Even her best students were struggling--chewing on pencil erasers like they were candy. Yuck.
Deciding how she would curve the test, Tina wandered to the bank of windows at the back of the room. Sun glittered on the grassy alcove down below. She let her eyes wander to the sky. It was a nice spring day and the beginning of a three-day weekend. She would go home after school and spend the long weekend planting--
A speck appeared over the spires of the administration building. She wouldn't have noticed it but while it looked a like a bird--a huge bird--it didn't fly quite like a bird. Its wings beat an irregular rhythm. As the speck grew larger, so did her eyes. The thing was flying directly toward campus and was soon close enough for Tina to recognize the shape. That was no bird. It looked like a flying dinosaur.
Or a dragon.
Air exited her lungs in a rush and got caught in her throat, making her choke on her own breath.
"Ms. Branson, are you okay?"
She glanced down at the student seated next to her. "Of course. I got...a bug caught in my throat."
She drew herself to her full five-foot-six height and did her best impression of a schoolmarm. "Just go back to your tests."
As soon as all the heads were lowered, she spun back to the window. It wasn't possible. It just wasn't possible. It couldn't actually be a dragon. Not one day after she'd said a dragon spell. It just wasn't possible.
The creature drew closer and Tina felt her eyes widen. This creature wasn't anything anyone in this world had ever seen before. As it flew by, she caught a clear vision of it. Huge white teeth and rows of greenish-bluish scales. And lavender--like the light in the dragon's eyes. Lavender flowed from what appeared to be wounds in its side.
Her side ached in sympathy as the dragon flapped its massive wings and flew on, bypassing the school and heading into the forest.
Heading toward her cabin.
She whipped around and stared at the clock. It was almost three. In just seconds class would be over and she could go home and see if there really was a dragon waiting for her at her cabin...or if she needed to investigate some serious therapy.
Maybe both, she decided as the bell rang.
"Turn the tests in now," she announced.
"But I'm not done."
"Just a few more minutes."
"No!" Her voice was harsher than she'd meant so she smiled, something she didn't often do in her classroom. "I'll be sure to grade on a curve and take into account that there wasn't enough time to finish." None of her students moved. "I'll give you all ten extra credit points if you'll just write your names on your tests and turn them in. Now."
They moved as a unit, scribbling and jumping up to place the papers on her desk. She stood at the door, anxiously hurrying the last student out of her classroom, then grabbing her purse and bolting for the door.
"Hey Tina." Jessie, the teacher from across the hall stopped her escape. "There's an emergency staff meeting called for after school."
Tina shook her head. "I can't make it. Doctor's appointment. Very important. Can you take notes?" she asked, hearing her voice squeak as she pleaded. The other teacher nodded, her eyes wide. Great, now she's going to think I'm terminally ill, instead of the truth...that I think I have a dragon waiting for me on my front porch.
What else could it be? she thought as she hurried to her car. Not that this was possible. It wasn't, but that had definitely been a dragon she'd seen flying by her window.
She'd said the spell last night and then this afternoon--poof, dragon airborne and heading to her remote home. There was nothing else that direction. She lived on the edge of a state park, for goodness sake.
Breaking any number of traffic laws, Tina practically flew home herself. She flicked on her radio, needing the noise to distract her from worrying about what she would find when she arrived home. The news came on. She listened through the latest political snafu and a local fire--she'd have to send some food the rescue shelter--, then the newscaster ended with a story about...a flying dinosaur.
"A what?" the cocky afternoon drive announcer asked when the newsman had finished.
"Really. Dozens of people have reported a huge creature flying through the air. They say it looks like flying dinosaur, but alas, people, it's nothing so exciting. We hunted down the truth and it's actually an experimental plane. It seems the crews that work on it were playing a joke and painted it to look like a dinosaur."
Tina stared at her radio, then looked up in time to swerve her car back on the road.
That was no plane.
She floored the gas pedal. She had to get home. Now.
Thirty minutes later, she pulled up the long, winding dirt road that formed her driveway. Relief spiked through her system as she stared at her house. There was no dragon on the porch or on the roof or even on the large lawn. Nothing seemed out of place. Heart pounding and keys clutched firmly in her fist, she gingerly walked across the lawn.
Maybe she'd been mistaken. Maybe it had been a plane.
She stopped. Pale purple streaks formed a dotted line across her grass. It was the same lavender she'd seen pouring from the dragon's wounds. Purple blood? Wishing she had a weapon--though what kind of weapon would be useful against a dragon she had no idea--she followed the scattered trail into the forest.
Several walking trails broke off from the main path heading in various directions deeper into the woods. The plot of land her aunt had willed her was huge, with the back boundary designated by a slow-moving river. Tina picked the path closest to the purple trail and began a slow jog, feeling an urgency building as she progressed. She had to find this dragon. Or find nothing and prove to herself that she was insane. Trickles of purple--clinging to leaves and pine needles--continued to guide her.
The path went deeper into the woods until she could hear the ripple of water. A clearing opened before her, smooth rocks and boulders lined the river's bank, and beside the rolling water lay...a dragon.