The Dragon of Sedona (The Treasure of Paragon Book 4)-eBook
The Dragon of Sedona (The Treasure of Paragon Book 4)-eBook
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Darkness he can't forget. Light he's afraid to remember. Magic that could change everything.
Some memories are magic.
Darkness he can't forget.
Exiled dragon prince Alexander never recovered from the murder of his mate Maiara, an indigenous healer he met over three centuries ago. Every waking breath is a painful reminder of what he lost, his grief compounded by the constant presence of her immortal red-tailed hawk, bound to him since her death.
Light he's afraid to remember.
When three of his siblings arrive with news that he may be in grave danger, he secretly welcomes the possibility of a violent end to his torment. But as the four reminisce about how they came to know Maiara in the New World, they begin to see her life and death from a new perspective.
Magic that could change everything.
For the first time, the source of Maiara's power is revealed and inspires a new but precarious hope. There may be a way for Alexander to be with her again, but his second chance for a happily ever after is risky at best, and at worst, could cost him the only thing he has left.
Alexander felt like Wile E. Coyote, only instead of blowing himself up trying to kill the Road Runner, his efforts to free himself from the purgatory he suffered were repeatedly thwarted by a different sort of bird.
His personal vexation was a red-tailed hawk hundreds of years past its natural expiration date yet far too stubborn to die. Unlike the cartoon Road Runner, the hawk made no attempt to run from him with a resounding meep, meep! and leave him in its dust.
On the contrary, this bird rarely left his side. Despite his many attempts to separate himself from the winged creature, it remained an obsessive, magical pain in the ass.
“You’re not going to stop me this time, Nyx,” he said, meeting the hawk’s intelligent amber eyes. Ironic that she resisted so thoroughly when his motivation revolved around her. The two of them were cogs in a never-ending wheel of pain. He only wished to throw a wrench in the gears and save them both.
He called the bird Nyx after the Greek goddess of the night. Red-tailed hawks weren’t nocturnal animals, but this one had ushered darkness into his life. The kind of darkness that lived on the inside of a man that no amount of desert sun could ever reach.
At one time, the bird had belonged to his mate, Maiara. She’d called the hawk Nikan, the Potawatomi word for “my friend.” The two had been inseparable until the night Maiara was brutally murdered. After her death, after her body was burned, the hawk attached to him like a tick burrowing for blood, presumably bound to him by the grief they shared.
He refused to call her Nikan after that. She was no friend of his. She was a ghost. A demon. She was Nyx, the night, and her darkness had been with him ever since.
A stab of longing cut through him. Thanks to Nyx, not a day passed he didn’t think of Maiara. The bird was a constant reminder of his loss.
“You have to let me do this,” he pleaded with her. He wasn’t beyond begging. Anything to end this horror-go-round of an existence.
The early-morning sun was blinding as he scanned the horizon from the top of one of the massive red mesas Sedona was known for. In his hand, he gripped a roll of thin, sharp wire. In his mind, he held an appetite for death. No, that wasn’t entirely true. It wasn’t that he wanted his life to end, just the pain.
For a dragon, losing a mate was like having a thin layer of skin scraped from their body. Everything was painful, stinging, astringent. His body and soul were raw nerves, left with no protection against the elements, no shelter from the burning sun. He hurt. Everywhere.
With a deep breath, he took in the beauty of his surroundings one final time. The landscape’s signature red color, courtesy of iron oxide that veined like blood through the stone, provided a sharp contrast to the cerulean sky. The topography was roughly as dry and coarse as the surface of Mars, yet brimming with life, the occasional grouping of desert trees or cactus growing from the stone. Survival in the bleakest of circumstances.
There’d been a time he’d found its mystique comforting. Not anymore. A clear indication the time had come to end this madness.
“You don’t want to go on like this, do you?” He stared at Nyx as if to will an answer from her. She let out a shrill cry that let him know exactly what she thought of his plan. “I will never understand you. This has to be as much a nightmare for you as it is for me. Whatever Maiara did to you to make you immortal has bound you to me. Never able to live as a wild bird. Never able to mate with your own kind.”
He shoved his hands in the pockets of his jacket. “Have you ever stopped to think that if I died, perhaps you could be free? Truly free.”
She flapped her wings and leaped to his arm, her talons digging into the black leather. Not that her grip was a threat to his dragon skin anyway. He might have looked human with his wings tucked away, but he was far tougher and healed much faster than any man. The hawk rubbed its head against his bearded cheek, its soft russet feathers ruffling at the contact. She brushed her beak against his nose.
As he stared at her, he saw his reflection in her tawny eyes. By the Mountain, he looked like shit. Even in silhouette, he could tell he badly needed a haircut and to trim his beard, and he knew the rest of him wasn’t any better. He was emaciated and likely smelled of liquor and self-loathing.
He gently nudged her back onto the branch of the juniper tree. “That’s enough. Wait there. This will be over soon.”
It was hard to kill a dragon. Technically, he was immortal. Poison wouldn’t work. Walking in front of a semitruck wouldn’t work. If alcohol could’ve done him in, he’d already be dead. By the Mountain, he bought tequila by the case. It would be easier to run his motorcycle off a bridge, but a fall for a dragon wasn’t much of a threat. Dragons couldn’t drown or burn to death.
There was only one foolproof way to kill a dragon: decapitation. He checked that the wire was properly fastened around the base of the tree and placed the noose around his neck, then backed up to get a running start.
This was going to hurt.
Glancing toward Nyx, he was relieved to find her gone. Maybe his lecture had gotten through to her after all. She’d left him. It was a sign.
He ran for the edge.
Three steps from the brink, Nyx flew straight up, sheering the side of the cliff. He cried out. Her wings fluttered against his cheeks and talons scraped his neck. Unable to stop his momentum, his feet slipped out from under him and he became a baseball player sliding into home, only the plate was open air beyond the cliff’s edge. His dragon’s wings tried to punch out but got caught in his leather jacket, store-bought—not part of the specially designed wardrobe his oread had made him to accommodate his extra appendages. Fuck. For a second he seemed to hang in the bright blue sky, Nyx with his noose in her claws hovering over him.
“You mangy-feathered, slimy-beaked, bit—” He dropped like a stone.
His back collided with the gravel in front of his motorcycle. Oww. Immortal or not, it hurt when bones broke. Perfectly still, he stared at the hawk as she banked and circled down toward him, her cries echoing off the cliffs.
“I really hate you,” he whispered. It came out as a squeak. He worked to pull breath into his aching lungs as a sickening slurp indicated his bones were already healing. Not too much damage then. Slowly he raised a hand and ran his fingers through his hair. The back of his head was sore, but there wasn’t any blood. He was fine. Depressingly whole.
The crunch of wheels on gravel turned his head. A minivan had pulled off the highway and parked next to his bike, and a tall white man wearing dark socks and sandals was climbing out of the driver’s seat.
“Hey, are you all right?” The man hurried to him and leaned over Alexander, the floppy brim of his hat casting shade over his face and blocking his view of Nyx.
“What are you doing lying on the side of the road?”
He glanced toward his bike. “I’m, uh, just resting.”
“Buddy, this is not the place. Someone could run you over.”
He cleared his throat. If only that would be enough to do him in. “Hmm. Right. I’ll be on my way then.” He allowed the man to help him up and gave his neck a good crack.
“Hey… Hey! Are you that guy? You know, that guy who paints the desert scenes with the bird.” The man turned to the van and yelled, “Honey, it’s that guy!”
Alexander groaned. Oh dear goddess, please open the earth and swallow him down to hell pronto. This was the last thing he needed today.
A woman in a Minnie Mouse T-shirt, jean shorts, and a green visor hopped down from the passenger seat of the minivan.
“My word, it is him. Alexander! We just bought one of your paintings. You’re so talented.”
“Thanks,” he mumbled. “I really have to go.”
“Oh wait, can we get a picture?”
The woman had already pulled one of his paintings from the back of the van. He recognized it—a piece he’d done a few years ago of Nyx, the red rock, and the blue sky. It was a money piece. It meant nothing to him; he’d just painted it for the money. It was the Thomas Kinkade of his work, beautiful and meaningless.
She held it in front of his chest, her husband holding the other end of the canvas, and then popped her arm out to take a selfie. He did not smile.
“One, two, three…,” she prompted.
The glare from the cheesy grins on either side of him was almost blinding. Out of sheer guilt, he popped the corner of his closed lips a quarter of an inch. A series of clicks later, she slid her phone back into her pocket.
“Thank you! What a special moment,” she squealed.
She loaded the painting into the van, and the two waved their goodbyes. He watched them drive away from the seat of his motorcycle.
Once they were gone, Nyx landed on the handlebars of his Harley-Davidson and cooed her apologies. He glared at the bird. “So that’s how it’s going to be? No way out?”
She chirped and lifted into the clear blue sky.
He revved the engine. “What a fucking Monday.”
- A dragon shifter who lost their mate
- An enigmatic hawk
- Native American mythos
- Fated mates
- Family saga
- Witches & magic