Tempted by Fire:Dragonkeepers - Book Two

By: Kimber White
Dragonkeepers - Book Two




Chapter One





Gideon





The spire of Saint Basil’s Russian Orthodox Church loomed high in the sky, casting a long shadow down West North Avenue in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park. I wanted to disappear in that shadow. Years ago, I could have. I could have let it swallow me up so that anyone passing by wouldn’t even know I was there. Some unsuspecting parishioner might walk right in front of me and feel nothing more than a heated breeze against their cheek. They might stop, turn toward it but shrug it off not knowing they’d just come within inches a dragon. With just one breath, I could have turned that steeple to ash.

It was never my style though. Not even centuries ago when I was an out of control teenager, just learning to harness my powers. That might be something my brother Kian would do. Of the five of us, he’d always had the hardest time keeping his fire cool. It was getting worse. Much worse. I tried to push those thoughts from my mind. It was happening to all of us. Little by little. Each day, I could feel the bonds of control slipping. My dragon simmered closer to the surface. Someday soon, he might take over for good. Then, there would be nothing left to do but hope my mother or one of my brothers would find me in time to kill me before I hurt anyone. Without a mate, the madness would come. There was no cure.

Now, I could only try to stay in the shadows and keep anyone from looking too closely into my eyes. They would flash gold and swirl with fire when I didn’t want them to. Most wouldn’t know what to make of it. Ninety percent of the humans on this planet had no idea shifters even existed, let alone dragons. But, there were plenty of other shifters around and they would know I was something...different. Even they wouldn’t believe it at first. Dragons were extinct. Hunted off the face of the earth centuries ago. Our blood was the only thing that could cure a shifter from the gravest injury or sickness. Steel forged from our fire could restrain even the strongest bear shifters in the world. Bullets tempered with dragonfire could take down a whole wolf shifter pack.

So we went into hiding. As far as we knew, there were no dragons left except my four brothers, my mother, and me, and we were running out of time.

“Are you looking for something?” A deep, strong, heavily accented voice pulled me out of my head. It belonged to a short, round man, bald on top with bushy gray hair at the temples. He pushed a pair of thick glasses up his bulbous nose and smiled up at me. I kept my gaze to the left, not letting him see my eyes.

“Just walking,” I said.

He wore all black, except for his white collar. A priest. Father Dmitriev, perhaps. I’d done my research.

“Ah,” he said. “I’ve been watching you for a while. If you are interested, mass begins in an hour.” He smiled, showing a straight row of nicotine-stained teeth.

“Much appreciated,” I said. “But I really am just walking.”

The priest sighed and turned toward St. Basil’s. There were already people heading up the steps and into the church. With more than an hour to go, I guessed Sunday mass would be standing room only.

He cocked his head to the side and looked at me more closely. “Not eastern European,” he said. “Welsh? I’m usually much better at this. Where are you from, son?”

Son. I suppressed a smile. I’d be three hundred and two years old later this month.

“I’m from everywhere and nowhere,” I answered. He thought I was being cryptic. I was telling the truth. He touched my arm and I went rigid. I should have picked up on what he was right away. I’d been so busy trying to cloak myself I’d missed the telltale signs. The glint in his own eyes, that wild scent, the quick flash of teeth that he tried to cover. Father Dmitriev was a wolf.

A wolf. They were everywhere in this district. As missions went, this one was becoming more dangerous by the second. A few months ago, a pack of wolves had used dragonstone to try and kill my family. They were gone now, but the dragonstone came from somewhere. It was my job to try and find out where. My mother fed on an endless supply of rumors. Her most promising lead had brought me straight into the path of this wolf.

He pulled his hand away. His lips curled in a quizzical smile, but he didn’t seem to sense the truth of what I was. Still, that was close. Too close. Casually as I could, I stepped out of his reach and tilted my head, ready to say goodbye.

“Father? Do you have time for that cup of coffee?”

Her voice came from the other side of the street from the bagel shop. Heat shot straight up my spine. If the priest had been looking at me head on, he would have seen my fire.

Father Dmitriev turned toward the front door of the Bagel Bureau and held his hand up in a friendly wave.

My inner dragon roared to the surface as the girl stepped off the curb and looked both ways. Her long, dark hair swished over her shoulders as she got close to us. I knew her scent already. I knew the curve of her hips and the way her tilted her head when she smiled. She had a quick humor when dealing with customers and never wrote anything down when they ordered. In the week I’d been watching, I’d never once seen her make a mistake.

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