Here’s a slightly different excerpt from KEEPER OF THE FLAME. Enjoy!
A warrior, a maiden…and a passion that could set the whole world aflame.
Dragon Knights, Book 7
Despite the fact he is the largest of his half-dragon brothers and better suited to fighting, Hugh has been sent on an undercover mission. Forced to stay in human form, he must discover if the land of Helios is truly the Draconian ally it pretends, or something more sinister.
When he witnesses injustice in the form of a misshapen baby gryphon kicked out into the cold, he cannot remain in the shadows and watch the child suffer. All he can hope for is that his act of kindness will go unnoticed so his mission can continue.
But someone does notice. When Lera cautiously approaches Hugh, she is drawn to his strange, foreign magic. She is entranced by its irresistible allure—until assassins come calling and reveal her true identity.
She is Valeria, queen of Helios, Keeper of the Flame. And she has been betrayed. Together they must risk everything to uncover the traitors and reforge the alliance between their lands. Yet beneath their blazing passion, both are still keeping secrets. Secrets that the Sacred Flame will reveal—if their love survives its cleansing fire.
EXCERPT (c) 2013 Bianca D’Arc
Sleet lashed him, but Hugh wasn’t cold. Not really. He wasn’t even really wet, except for the places the wind had whipped his coat away from his body from time to time.
He was about to head back to the inn, having learned all the pathways to and from the trader’s wagon when he became aware of eyes trained on him. Hugh didn’t flinch. He didn’t stop or deviate from his path. The eyes followed. The sensation of being watched increased as he walked along a darkened alley — the closest one to the cliff face he had yet traversed.
Hugh let his senses expand, opening his mouth slightly to taste the wind, but the eyes stayed cautiously upwind of him. He got the fleeting impression of an inhuman growl and then he heard the telltale pad of four feet. Not two.
Little feet. Taking little steps.
Someone’s pet? Hugh didn’t think so, though the size sounded about right — the intelligence behind the pattern of the little paws stalking him was unmistakable. Curiosity flavored its movements. Hugh’s dragon senses told him all this just from the sound of its paws hitting slushy ground.
A dainty sneeze sounded from around the corner just ahead of Hugh. The creature was running parallel to his path, watching him from the side alleys between the clustered buildings in this part of town.
Hugh made a decision and slowed his steps. Sure enough, a small furry head peeked around the corner to look at him. It drew back sharply when it saw him and he got the impression of wet fur and a forlorn look on a small cat’s face. At least, it looked like a cat from what he could see of it.
It had mottled gray fur and sad gray eyes. It looked like a cat, but the quick glimpse he’d gotten had not looked like any housecat he had ever seen. Hugh was familiar with domestic cats since every Lair had a few that hunted mice and kept the places free of vermin. It wasn’t uncommon for dragonettes to have a pet if they had no peers their own age to play with. Cats never seemed to be afraid or antagonistic to dragons. The same could not be said for most canines, unfortunately.
Hugh stopped in his tracks and waited. The little creature seemed to be in distress, but still curious enough to watch him. Something was off about the animal. For one thing, its eyes held even more intelligence than an ordinary cat. For another, it wasn’t hiding from the rain, even though it was obvious the little thing was miserable. Hugh wanted to know more.
A moment later his patience was rewarded when the small creature poked its head around the corner again, a little at a time. At first, Hugh could only see half its face. When Hugh kept still, the little one moved closer, exposing its head fully, watching Hugh with those big, sad, gray eyes.
It blinked once and Hugh sighed. He needed to know more, but his first instinct was to help this poor bedraggled kitten. For he could see now, it wasn’t fully grown, even though it was larger in size than a fully grown house cat.
Perhaps it was the young of one of the big cat varieties that were said to roam this land. Hugh didn’t know, but he wanted to find out. He wanted to learn this little one’s story and help protect it.
Backing against the wall of the nearest building, Hugh crouched down, putting himself nearer eye level with the creature, hoping to put it more at ease. He remained there, unmoving, willing the cat to come to him.
Slowly, paw by paw, it moved out from around the corner and that’s when Hugh realized what he was dealing with.
The cat had wings.
Which meant it wasn’t a cat at all. It was a gryphon.