Excerpt from The Sea Stone – Book Two of The Dragon Saga
by Nicolette Andrews
First of all, thank you, Dilyana, for letting me do a guest post on your blog. The Sea Stone is the second book in my Dragon Saga, but this excerpt can be read without spoiling anything for Book One.
All Suzume wanted was to get back to her old life, one where she was waited on hand and foot and her sharp wit and beauty were appreciated. Instead, she stuck with Kaito, a handsome, arrogant dragon who lives to torment her. Together they are bound by fate to find the artifacts left behind by the priestess Kazue. Along with their companions, Suzume and Kaito must find the artifacts before the villainous Hisato gets them first. But they’re not the only ones after the artifacts. When Suzume encounters her former betrothed also searching for the artifacts using a man with powers eerily similar to her own, things take on an unexpected and complicated turn.
A ball of fire zoomed through the air, before colliding with the peeling red paint and scorching a circle into the wood of the Torri arch before dissipating in a burst of sparks.
Tsuki looked over his shoulder, an eyebrow raised. He whistled. “Well, at least you can make a ball of fire. But I think your aim needs some work.” He plucked the paper target off the archway. At least she had hit solid wood, just much higher up than she had intended. He turned back to face her. “Do that again, and this time focus on the target.”
Suzume huffed with frustration and her shoulders sagged. “Again? That took forever to create. Whatever would have been attacking me would have killed me before I even had a spark.”
“With practice, it will come easier,” Akira said. Since they shared a body, the siblings would just use the other’s face to talk. Suzume imagined it took a lot of energy to shift forms from one to the other.
“How much practice exactly?” she imagined mastering her powers would be easy, a couple of days tops. It had been nearly a week and she was no better than when she started.
“If you’re tired of practicing your spiritual powers, we can work on your skills with the staff.” Tsuki grinned with a mischievous glint in his eye. She rubbed a bruise on her shoulder one of many left over from her last sparring sessions with him. He knew she was tired, and too proud to admit it.
She glared at him with her hands on her hips. In reality she placed them there to hide her trembling. Physical weakness was new to her, but it was as equally despised as emotional weakness.
As if being weak in front of the conjoined siblings wasn’t bad enough, Kaito the Dragon strode into the courtyard with that infernal smirk in place.
“Training hard?” Kaito asked as his gazed skimmed over her to the scorch marks on the Torri arch, the only evidence of hours of practice.
“I was until you showed up; you’re distracting me.” Suzume snapped at him. Hoping he would retreat and leave her to gracefully weasel out of any more training today.
“Suzume and I were just about to spar, care to watch?” Tsuki asked with a waggle of his brows.
“Tsuki was going to let me practice an emergency maneuver.” Suzume shot Tsuki a fake sweet smile before gesturing towards his crotch with a kicking motion and he reflexively covered his genitals.
Akira’s husky laughter spilled out of her brother’s lips.
“Don’t know why you insisted I teach her that,” Tsuki mumbled.
Suzume laughed as Tsuki turned his body away from Suzume as if to shield her from doing as she threatened. With narrowed eyes, Kaito regarded the pair of them, a hint of ice in his stare.
“I hope you’re behaving,” Kaito eyed Tsuki up and down. “I would hate to have to take over Suzume’s training. It would really be a bother.”
“You wouldn’t teach me, you’d just throw me at the nearest Yokai and expect me to figure it out.” Suzume said.
“That method has worked in the past.” The corners of Kaito’s mouth titled up as he said this.
“Worked to almost get me killed.” She grumbled. “Now go away, I have training to do.” She unsheathed her staff holding it up with trembling arms that screamed at her for trying to hold something up.
“I think I’ll stay and watch,” Kaito said before plopping down on the ground, at the foot of an arch. Head resting against the arch, he watched Suzume get into position with a malicious grin.
Bastard. Well there was no getting out of the combat training now.
“Since you’re weak, I think we should continue focusing on disarming your opponent.”
“Thanks.” She rolled her eyes.
Suzume assumed the position, knees apart, staff held at an angle in front of her. Tsuki held his hand to his chin as he looked her up and down.
“Your arms are drooping bring them up more, you won’t be able to defend yourself that way.”
Reluctantly, she raised up her staff. Tsuki only shook his head and came over. Standing behind her, he bent her elbows into the angle of his choosing. This was familiar, she had grown accustomed to his close proximity. He was one of the few people that didn’t bring out the fire in her. His arms enveloped her and his breath fanned against her skin as he said, “Do you see the Dragon’s scowl, he’s so transparent.”
Suzume refused to look in Kaito’s direction but she imagined his scowl, she’d been seeing it a lot lately. Mostly whenever she was alone with Tsuki. Many of her training sessions had been interrupted by a possessive dragon. Tsuki lingered a moment longer, his hands on her hips assisting her into the right stance, but mostly trying to bait the Dragon into acting, Suzume was sure. Tsuki’s favorite past time was baiting the dragon.
Kaito looked ready to burst from his skin by the time Tsuki finished positioning Suzume, and he had taken twice as long as normal. To the dragon’s credit he did not rise to the bait, and Tsuki tired of that game and decided to get down to business. They squared off, Tsuki with a wooden practice sword and Suzume with her wooden staff. It was a good thing he used a wooden sword, because as he rushed towards her she felt as if she was dragging through mud, her legs and arms were glued into place. He swung to strike and her arms seemed to move sluggishly in response, in a failed attempt to block his strike. He pushed her backwards with the blow of his strike while she continued to ineffectively parry using her staff like a shield as the wooden sword jarred her already fatigued arms with the vibration of the blows. Suzume stumbled backwards and fell to the ground.
She landed on her rear cursing internally. Tsuki came to stand over her with his hand extended. “Ready to admit you’re tired.”
She bared her teeth at him, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Let’s go again.”
He held out his hand to help her up, but she refused to take it and climbed to her feet on her own. They squared off once more, and the results were not much different than the first time. But this time when she fell to the ground, she made the mistake of looking in the dragon’s direction, and he was watching with intense interest. She expected scorn or something, but this intense concentration was disarming. Why is he looking at me that way? It consumed her thoughts and when Tsuki swung at her this time, she was too distracted to even try to block. The wooden sword struck her on her cheekbone.
The pain exploded across her face and flames erupted along her skin, as she spiraled backwards like a spinning inferno.
Kaito jumped up from his place along the side lines and reached for Suzume as if he would hold her. But his words were harsh,“You fool,” he snarled.
Suzume was preparing a retort when she realized this was directed at Tsuki.
“She’s distracted,” Akira came to her brother’s defense, taking control of their shared body. “You need to stop coming to practice this happens every time you’re around. How can we teach her to harness her powers if you’re always hovering over her?”
“I do not hover.”
“I am not distracted by him.”
They said this in unison.
Kaito looked to her with a smirk. “You must admit you’re a little distracted.” He gestured to his torso, “I mean how could you not.”
Suzume snorted. “Believe me, there’s nothing about you that I find distracting.”
“That’s not what you said on our wedding night.”
Suzume cough as she choked on her surprise. Leave it to him to bring up something so mortifying.
“Wedding night?” Akira asked with a raised brow.
But Suzume was determined to change the subject. “Fight me and when I win, you cannot come back to watch me practice anymore.”
“And if I win, we replay our wedding night.”
A flush crept up her neck, he was just teasing. He didn’t really mean that. Besides nothing happened. When he had been released from the stone, he had just wanted to humiliate her for finding him attractive. He wouldn’t really, would he? She glanced at him from the corner of her eye.
“I’ll win anyway so it doesn’t matter what you want.”
He laughed and they squared off, Kaito taking the practice sword from Tsuki. Suzume made every attempt to get into position, trying to memorize how Tsuki had taught her to stand.
“Ready?” Kaito said, his smile said he already planned on winning.
“I hope you’re ready to be humiliated.”
“I hope you’re ready for what comes tonight behind closed doors.”
She swallowed down the temptation to let him win and see if this was really only an empty threat. Kaito struck first and came at her with a graceful swing of the wooden sword, which she blocked. When his blade collided with her staff, the ice of his spiritual energy enveloped her and sparks rose up along her skin. She could feel the unfurling of his power, the ice in the air, the brush of a cold wind. He did not let it all out, he was holding himself back, which only angered her further. The desire to beat him was a fire in her gut giving her renewed energy. He was so confident in his win, that he wasn’t even willing to take this fight seriously. Though she hadn’t been taught offensive attacks yet, she pushed back, swinging at him and Kaito jumped backwards outside the reach of her staff, which by now had flames running up and down it.
“Oh, feisty, I like that in a lover.”
Suzume’s eyes went wide, “Over my dead body,” she snarled as she rushed towards him. Distantly she heard Tsuki shouting to her, probably some suggestion but she was blinded by everything else, burning with fire and determined to beat Kaito. As she ran towards him she saw genuine fear in his eyes.
She swung the staff back and came down hard, preparing to wrap him over the head with her staff but before her staff could come down on him, he grabbed a hold of it, yanking it from her hand and sent it skidding across the courtyard where it came to rest at Tsuki’s feet.
This was no longer a clean fight, she launched herself at Kaito, fingers tipped with flames, and swiped at Kaito’s face. He dodged her blows swerving to and fro as if she was nothing more than an annoying fly. Suzume growled and barreled into his chest catching him around the middle. Kaito let out an oof, as she collided and then the combination of his ice and her fire resulted in a puff of hot steam which blew into her face and warmed her skin. After a few fruitless moments of struggle Kaito caught her around the middle flipping her over his head where she landed on the ground at his feet.
She stared up at him, glowering.
“What shall we do tonight, my bride.” He smirked before turning to walk away.
Seething, she watched his retreating back. She wasn’t going to let him win. Suzume swung her leg out and caught his ankle, tripping him. Kaito stumbled and fell to the ground, and Suzume jumped onto him, pinning him to the ground with flaming hands as she straddled his chest.
Kaito’s eyes were wide with genuine surprise, then the playful smirk disappeared and there was something much more heated left charging the air between them. His threats no longer felt empty, and she got the distinct impression that had he come out on top, he probably would have taken her to his room. The sudden rush of embarrassment sent Suzume flying and she leapt off him and could not face him.
He got up and to her back he said, “You play dirty, but it looks like you win.”
She couldn’t even choke out words. Her face was bright red with embarrassment.
“I won’t be back for another practice.” He cleared his throat and walked away.
She listened to the receding footsteps her heart hammering in her chest. I am not Kazue, I will not fall for him. Tsuki came over to stand beside her.
“It looks like you did learn something. How to play dirty, he won’t forget that any time soon.”
Neither will I.
She lives in sunny San Diego CA with her husband, children and two cats. She loves complicated love stories and fantastical settings, which is probably why she chose to write romantic fantasy.
You can find The Priestess and the Dragon (Book 1 of the Dragon Saga) here.
Book 2 does not have a release date, yet but is coming early 2017.
Find Nicolette here
If you want to know more about Nicolette, read the interview she gave me last year; if you are interested in her books, check out my reviews on:
- The Priestess and the Dragon (Dragon Saga, Book I)
- Kitsune (Tales of Akatsuki, Book I)
- Heart of Thorns (Thornwood Series, Book I)
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