Keeper of the Golden Dragon's Heart (The Cedar River Series)

BOOK: Keeper of the Golden Dragon's Heart (The Cedar River Series)
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Keeper of the Golden Dragon’s Heart

 

Keeper of the Golden Dragon’s Heart

 

 

 

Gemma K. Murray

Cover Design By: Regina Paul

 

Stock Photo Credit: romancenovelcovers.com, Stock Xchng

 

Photoshop Dragon Brush Credit: nara6200

 

 

 

 

Leap Of Faith Publishing

 

 

 

 

Keeper of the Golden Dragon’s Heart

 

 

 

All Rights Reserved © 2012 by Gemma K. Murray

 

No part of this novel may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the author and publisher.

 

 

All characters, names, descriptions and traits are products of the author’s imagination. Similarities to actual people living or dead are purely coincidental.

 

Leap Of Faith Publishing

 

 

For information address:

Leap Of Faith Publishing

PO Box 957705

Duluth, GA 30095

 

         

ISBN: 978-1-61979-672-0

 

Printed in the United States of America

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

In the woods around Michigan’s Lake Superior is a community unlike any you may have seen. Cedar River is an old-fashioned town with mom and pop shops along Main Street. No big name stores litter our city. We all know each other by name. We stop to talk to our neighbors on the street. We wave as we pass each other. We pull together in times of crisis. We have shared the joys of life with one another. To pass us on the street, you would believe we are human. We have businesses, families, homes and secrets. We are not human. We are a community of shifters. We may not always see eye to eye, we do trust one another to keep each other’s secrets. We have wolves, dragons, pumas and any other shifter you can imagine living side by side in our small community. Humans come to our woods to hunt, fish and camp, but even they don’t know we are different.

 

 

 

 

Chapter One – Ana

 

My name is Anastasia Plum. I’m the only living child of a puma shifter and a witch. I grew up in this incredible community of supernatural beings on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. From the tall pines that grace our forests to the most amazing body of water I have ever seen, there is no better place on earth. My earliest memory is of laying my head against my father’s chest and hearing him purr. I was three years old. Two years later, hunters killed my father, who was hunting in puma form, leaving my mother to fall into a deep depression. I was twelve when a spell my mother had worked for a human went wrong and the person returned in the night to burn our home to the ground, killing my mother. Looking back, I think she was ready to meet my father wherever his soul was wandering, especially since she was able to get me out of the burning cabin. At the age of twelve, I was alone in the world except for a family of dragon shifters who had befriended my parents before I was born. Bernard Golden took me to the puma shifters who lived on the edge of our village. The pumas turned me away because I was a half-breed. There were no other witches in the community so the Golden family took me in as one of their own. With four boys, Lorelai Golden welcomed another female presence. To me, she always smelled of sugar cookies and cinnamon. Bowie, the oldest son, was my chief defender. He is seven years older than me and he took my protection very seriously. Brady, the second son was my trainer. He taught me to fight and hunt, which is hard for a dragon to teach a puma, but he did his best. Callum and Colin are the youngest. A set of twins, a rarity in the dragon world, they were allowed to get away with a lot. Being only a year older than I am, we three managed to get into the most trouble. They were, and are, my best friends.

The dragon nest was not very receptive of a cat living in their midst. I was teased and tormented by the dragonlings.  Luckily, I had the Goldens. Bernard is the head of the Dragon Council so not many dragons were willing to cross him. Arthur Smythe and his family were one of the few families who dared piss off Bernard. The Smythe boys ambushed me and padlocked me in a metal dog crate. What their intentions were I did not know, but it was lucky for me, Callum and Colin were always close by me in those days. When Lance and Cameron Smythe went home to wait for nightfall, Colin turned me loose and helped me home. Callum had run ahead to tell Mama and Papa what had happened. Mama met us in the yard, crying. She took me from Colin and carried me directly to her rocking chair beside the fireplace. She held me, rocked me, and cried with me into the night. Papa, Bowie and Brady went into the woods and waited for the Smythe boys to return for their “playtime.” I do not know what happened in the woods that night, but I do remember Arthur and his wife, Camille, coming over the next day to apologize. They faced punishment before the council, but because I was not dragon, I was not allowed in those meetings. All Bowie would tell me was that justice was served. It did not stop the Smythes from tormenting me, but it never went that far again.

I shifted for the first time at the age of thirteen. It hurt like hell, but it was freeing at the same time. There is a power that you feel when you change and it just radiated through me. That first time, Brady stayed human and took me into the woods for my first hunt as a puma. I was able to stalk and kill a small deer on my own. Brady sat on a rock, ever the silent observer, and watched as I tore into its fur and flesh. The blood rushing into my mouth should have felt disgusting, but that deer’s life force filled me, invigorated me. Brady waited for me to finish, then he took the hide and left the carcass behind for the other predators that walked the woods. For Yule that year, Brady presented me with a beautiful pair of buckskin boots, lined with rabbit fur.

At sixteen, the powers I received from my mother came into play. Lance Smythe and his friends thought teasing the pussycat would be fun. They constantly made snide remarks as I walked by with my friends. One day, I had had enough. In the middle of the the high school hall, I hexed his ass. In a place where being inconspicuous is important, a boy covered in fluorescent orange spots could hardly blend in. Even better was the fact that when he was in his dragon form, the spots were still there. A beautiful blue-green dragon covered in blaze orange…while not a thing of beauty, it achieved its purpose. I was sent to the principal’s office. Mama and Papa were called in. They gave me a stern lecture and grounded me for a month. I cried and pleaded my case, but they held firm in their decision. My heart was broken because I had disappointed them. I went downstairs later that night for a glass of milk. I overheard them laughing about the incident and commending my skills. It lightened my heart. They understood why I did it. They just didn’t like that I had done it. The Golden boys were my saviors during that month. Well, any other time I was grounded, too, for that matter, which happened a lot.

They would sneak me out of the house through my bedroom window. The trellis constructed for Mama’s roses happened to be right below my window. We would run down to the beach where the four of them would shift into these magnificent golden dragons. Each one a different shade of gold, but they were all majestic to watch. Usually Bowie would begin with me on his back, and we would soar through the night sky. Over the lake, our reflections on the water always made me catch my breath. Then, the games would begin. I would close my eyes and jump off of Bowie’s back. My instincts were heightened and my cat senses would kick in. The next dragon would catch me on his back and we would soar so high that it would seem as if I could touch the stars. Standing up and surfing through the sky, I would close my eyes and leap again. We would keep it up for hours. It was exhilarating and wonderful. There was nothing to fear in the darkness.

I left for college at eighteen. It was my first time away from home. When the truck was loaded down with all of the things I could possibly need, a sense of freedom kicked in. I was only one hour from the place I grew up, but my adopted family acted as if I was going halfway around the world.

“My baby,” Mama cried as Papa wiped at the tears in his eyes. “We are proud to call you  daughter, Ana.” He said.

When Mama cried, I cried. Papa said it was a woman thing. Colin and Callum waited in the back of the truck. Bowie and Brady waited in the cab.

I hugged my adopted parents tightly. “I love you both,” I said through the tears.

“If you need money, you call,” said Papa. He always makes me promise. Mama always hugs me so tight that I don’t believe she will ever let me go. “One of your brothers will be up to get you anytime you want to come home,” she said. She always makes me that promise.

“I’ll be fine, Mama, just like always.”

“I know, baby, but that doesn’t mean it is easy for me to let you go.”

I took another deep breath, imbedding her smell in my brain. I climbed in the truck between

Bowie and Brady, and waved good-bye. I didn’t get to the end of the driveway before I was sobbing. I loved my adopted family more than anything, and it was hard for me to leave them.

Brady put his arm around me and held me close while I let it all out. His big hands clumsily stroked my hair.

Bowie kept driving until we reached the town limits. Once we were outside of town, he pulled over and made me get out of the truck. He took my hand and led me to the back of the truck.

“You see this, Annie? This town has been here for hundreds of years. And it will still be here when you want to come back to see us. You are Anastasia Plum. Mama and Dad will miss you just like you will miss them. Colin and Callum may actually be able to stay out of trouble with you away. We’ll miss you, too, but you are our Annie. You are independent and tough. That’s the puma in you. You know you will kick yourself if you don’t do this.”

I knew deep down he was right, but it still was hard. “Alright, let’s get this show on the road,” I said. Bowie kissed the top of my head and we resumed our trip.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two – Ana

 

I’ve worked hard over the last three years. Now I’m back in Cedar River for a brief visit before heading back to school. I took two weeks off this summer to come home. I’m so close to finishing up my education that I can just taste it. With summer classes I’ll be able to graduate in the spring. I didn’t  come home as often as the family would have liked over the years. Usually, I only called for a ride home during the scheduled breaks. I love the freedom that comes from being at school. I was only home now because I wasn’t going to miss out on getting a chance to eat some of Mama’s home cooking. Of course, being able to walk in the familiar woods beside the house enticed me as well. There is nothing quite like a walk through the woods as the sunshine shines through the dense trees, warming the ground and the pine needles, whether in human or puma form. The smell of the warming forest floor always fills my senses and calms me. When in cat form, I can find a beautiful rock where a sunbeam has warmed it and sprawl on it, savoring the heat.

I was just been enjoying that special moment when the forest was awakening when I heard Mama call me for breakfast. I jumped from my perch and ran to the tree line. I shifted and dressed before running across the yard to the front porch.

BOOK: Keeper of the Golden Dragon's Heart (The Cedar River Series)
10.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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