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Legacy of Fire

Legacy of Fire

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A legacy of war. A legacy of love. A legacy of fire.

Guided by the stars, warrior-blooded zodiac dragon shifter Mason poses as a barista in the small town of Thornsboro. But when he meets journalist Reagan his mating instincts could put his kind in danger of exposure.

 

 

Synopsis

A legacy of war. A legacy of love. A legacy of fire.

Starting over sucks, but as a Pisces dragon shifter, I go where the Oracle tells me. Right now the stars say Mason Forge needs to be here, slinging coffee in rural Virginia, which means my dragon energy is meant to inspire one of the human residents. Sure, I’d prefer to be a defender of my race like my father, but the Zodiac Brotherhood plays a limited role since the peace accord with the Saint’s Order—the secret society that traditionally hunted my kind.

The moment I meet Reagan, I know she’s the reason the stars have guided me to Thornsboro, but the specifics of her secret project are a mystery. When she finally trusts me enough to share that she’s investigating the Saint’s Order, I’m horrified. I’ve been unwittingly helping her uncover the one story that could be a critical threat to my kind. To make things right, I have to leave her. Only, my dragon has chosen Reagan as his mate, and with my inner beast calling the shots, staying away is no longer an option.

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MASON


Trusting the universe seemed like a good idea until you actually had to do it. In theory, my kind knew there was a great, benevolent creator who sent us here to Earth to help humanity reach its ultimate potential. A dragon like me was there when man lit the first fire, carved the first wheel, and flipped the first kingdom. But that didn’t mean I was always confident the stars had my best interests in mind. 

Especially not when our Oracle sent me to the tiny town of Thornsboro, Virginia, to run a coffeehouse. I’d spent the early hours of the morning evicting a cantankerous family of raccoons from the air ducts preopening and had moved on to trying my best to scrub three generations of filth from the counter seating.

“She doesn’t make mistakes,” my uncle Connor said into my earbud. I’d been grumbling to him for the past hour about how filthy the building was where I’d been assigned to set up shop and how long it had taken for me to pull the place together. And for what? 

“If there’s anyone in Thornsboro worth inspiring, I haven’t met them yet.”

“You just opened, Mason. Give it a chance. The Oracle sees that this is where you need to be. It’s rare that she gives individual direction like this. Something important must be in store for you.”

“Yeah? Well, I hope I wasn’t sent to sling espresso in the boondocks of Northern Virginia for shits and giggles.”

My father had been a member of the Zodiac Brotherhood, the defenders of our dragon race. He was killed by the Saint’s Order when I was young. It had always been my dream to be a brother, in the footsteps of Dad and my uncle Connor, but there are only twelve warrior dragons that defend our race, one for each celestial sign. I’m a Pisces, and that position was already filled by a dragon named Solomon Chirag. But that didn’t stop me from dreaming. I had warrior blood, which meant I was eligible to ascend to the position.

Maybe someday.

“Trust. The stars are guiding you toward your destiny.”

I pictured the hulking man on the other end of the line who’d carried me on his shoulders when I was a child and wished I were in New York with him and the rest of my family.

“What if my destiny is to operate an espresso machine for the next thirty years or so?” I asked through a scowl.

“There are worse things.” Connor’s deep, gritty laugh held a tinge of compassion and a heaping spoonful of get-the-fuck-over-it.

The front bell chimed.

“Customer. Later, okay?” We said our goodbyes, and I shoved my phone into my back pocket. I strode from the back room to find a bundle of blond energy hurtling toward me with a hairy ball of filth in her arms.

“You! Can you get us a dish of water please? It’s an emergency.” She sat at one of the tables and placed the thing by her feet.

Mr. Pembrooke, the elderly man from across the street who’d been nursing an Americano and reading his paper at the four-top by the window for two hours, glanced in her direction. “Reagan Bailey, you can’t bring a dog into a restaurant! It’s a health violation. That thing is full of fleas.”

Reagan’s head snapped around, and the look she shot Pembrooke made me lift an eyebrow. I would not want to be on the receiving end of that green fire. “That’s bullshit, Mr. P. First of all, this is an emergent situation. Someone abandoned this poor little guy on the side of the road, and I’m trying to get him help. Second, dogs are allowed in restaurants. This is my brand-new emotional-support animal. So if you don’t like it, finish your coffee and go find Mrs. P. I’m sure she’s missing your company.”

The old man scowled as if the thought of spending time with his wife was downright repulsive, but he abandoned his paper and what was left of his coffee and stomped out the door. I filled a bowl with water and brought it over, sliding it toward the black-haired mop. A tiny pink tongue emerged from the dark mass and started drinking greedily.

“Thank you,” she said genuinely. “I’m sorry if I cost you a customer.”

I snorted, still squatting beside the canine. “He’s been nursing the same dollar coffee for hours. I think I’ll survive.”

She laughed, and it sounded like a bird singing. My inner dragon twisted inside me, waking up and heating my blood. Weird. Humans never had that effect on me. I stood and put space between us. Maybe she was a dragon? I inhaled deeply but smelled only vanilla, lavender, and dog.

“Hey, can I order a cappuccino? That is, if you don’t mind my guest sticking around for a few more minutes. I should tell you he’s not really a service animal.” She slanted a playful smile, her hand still on the furball, and I thought my heart was going to crack my rib cage trying to get to her. Up close, Reagan Bailey was an enchantress with buttery-blond waves, curves that tested the buttons of her blouse, and an arresting green-eyed stare that made my breath catch in my throat. Fuck, what was wrong with me?

“I had my suspicions.” I winked, then glanced around the empty café. “I like animals. Make yourself comfortable. I’ll get you that cappuccino.”

Casually I sauntered to the espresso machine, trying my best to brush off my strange reaction to the human. Even though dragons played a big part in the advancement of humanity, few knew about us. We lived secretly among man, our oldest, most sacred laws requiring our discretion with rare exceptions. I didn’t dislike humans—I simply considered them a different species and rarely thought of them at all aside from my role among them. But this one, Reagan—I wouldn’t have minded if she were a dragon. She interested me.

After a few centering breaths, I lost myself in making her drink. For fun, I poured her foam in the shape of a dog’s face. When I brought it out to her table, I cleared my throat to get her attention. She smiled bright enough to burn.

“Cute! Where’d you learn to do that?” She’d pulled Pembrooke’s newspaper over to her table and absently toyed with the corner as she glanced between me and my creation.

“Washington State University. Majored in environmental science. Minored in espresso.”

That elicited another laugh. Fuck, I liked her laugh.

“I’m Reagan.” She stuck out her hand. “Bailey.”

Tentatively, I shook it, my inner dragon rumbling at the feel of her skin. I coughed to cover it up. “Mason. Forge.”

“Oh, as in Forge’s Café.” She pointed at the door. “You own the place?”

I nodded.

“Let’s see what you’ve got.” 

She picked up the mug and proceeded to drink and drink and drink until I was honestly curious how her mouth wasn’t burning. She chugged it like a frat boy at a kegger. By the time she finally lowered the cup back to the saucer and wiped her lips with her thumb, my mouth was hanging open. 

“Perfect. Only wish the mug was bigger.”

“How are you not vibrating after drinking espresso like that?” 

She flicked her hair over each shoulder. “Majored in journalism. Minored in coffee drinking.” She tucked the paper under her arm. “Do you mind if I take this?”

I shook my head. “If Pembrooke comes back for it, I’ll pretend I didn’t see you help yourself.”

“Thanks.” She stood up, gathering the dog into her arms as if she planned to go. But then she stopped and gave me an inquisitive look. “If you were an environmental science major, how did you end up running a coffeehouse in Thornsboro?”

I shrugged. “I guess you could say it was meant to be.”

She nodded appreciatively, then headed for the door.

“Why journalism?” I called after her.

Smiling over her shoulder, she said, “Because I’m going to save the world.”

The door swung closed behind her. I pulled out my phone and texted Connor. You were right. The Oracle always knows.

Main Tropes

  • A brotherhood of dragon warriors guided by the zodiac
  • A secret society sworn to slay dragons
  • A journalist on a mission to uncover the truth
  • Fated mates
  • Predator/prey
  • Small town, big magic
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