Dragon Guard Scholar - Alicia Montgomery
Ginny Russel drummed her fingers on her arm as she stood on the edge of a barren cliff overlooking the Norwegian Sea. As she watched the icy water churn and listened to the surf breaking along the rocks below, her chest tightened as if gripped in an invisible vise.
Her inner lioness paced, perhaps sensing the activation of her flight-or-fight response. But how could she tell it that the perceived threat was all in her head?
She willed her animal to stay calm. As long as she stayed up here, she could manage the tension building up inside.
Taking deep breaths, she closed her eyes and envisioned soothing places, like the stillness of Badain Jaran dunes of Mongolia or the Salar de Uyuni salt flats of Bolivia. Even thinking about the beautifully kept gardens of her childhood home in Colorado helped, despite the fact that she literally spent most of her adult life avoiding that place. When her body loosened up, she let out a sigh, and her lioness lay down in a relaxed position.
Glancing down at her wristwatch, she checked the time. Still early. It was a short hike from the sleepy little village where she’d stayed the previous evening. Before that, she’d taken three flights, driven six hours, and took a ferry ride to get here. But in truth, she didn’t mind the journey; that was the most exciting part of any trip for her. The exhilaration of travel never lessened, even now, in the tenth year of her nomadic life.
However, hopping from place to place and country to country for a decade did have its downsides, namely, she’d gone to almost every place she wanted. Traveling began to get boring, and for a while, she even thought it was time to settle down. In fact, she nearly did; two and a half years ago when she bought a one-way ticket back home. And that’s when things changed.
Her lioness suddenly went on alert, sending the hairs on the back of her neck bristling. It knew, before she could hear or see it, that something approached. Something big.
Her enhanced shifter sight spied the small dot in the distance, becoming bigger as it drew closer. Her animal’s ears pricked forward, then flattened out as its tail lowered. This time, Ginny knew what it was first. Or rather, who.
Her lioness cowered.
It hissed at her, as if saying, you try calming down when there’s a humongous predator up there.
But this wasn’t a predator, at least, not any normal predator. No, this creature rushing toward them was special. One of the few dragon shifters in the world.
As it drew closer, the golden scales that covered the dragon’s gigantic body gleamed. Its giant horned head swung around, searching for something, until its gaze landed straight on Ginny, then made a long arc to redirect its flight path. Leathery wings spread out, and it used the wind to glide, then slow down and descend toward the cliff.
She stepped back a few feet to give the dragon space as its clawed feet touched down on the rocky ground. The wind generated from its flapping wings nearly knocked her over, but she knew to dig in her heels to prevent herself from falling back.
The dragon began to shrink, its golden scaly body and giant horned head slowly disappearing until it was completely gone and only a dark-haired female stood in its place. “Hey, Ginny!” Sybil Lennox called as she slipped on the dress she had been carrying in her dragon’s claws.
“What’s up, Sybil?” she greeted back. “Long time no see.”
Though Sybil Lennox was a few years younger than her, they’d known each other through their parents. Hank Lennox and Geraldine Russel had run in the same social and business circles, coming from two of the wealthiest and most influential shifter families in Colorado. Ginny recalled being invited to their castle for many birthday parties in her youth, and Sybil’s older brothers Jason and Matthew had been in the same year as her brother Gabriel at Lucas Lennox High.
And now, apparently, she had married some king of a faraway land and ruled alongside him as queen. “Should I curtsy or bow, Your Majesty?”
Sybil approached, her silvery eyes rolling. “Ugh, no please. No formalities, at least not when we’re alone. It’s so nice to see you after all this time, Ginny! But I have to admit, I was surprised when Christina told me who she was sending to help us. I didn’t even know you were part of The Agency.”