Here’s Chapter 1 of Hidden Power (Must Love Dragons, 2).
Sharp talons slashed at my face, missing me by mere inches. I jumped back in alarm and fell to the ground. I yelped at my attacker. “Are you trying to tear my face off?”
The shifter’s ice-blue eyes glittered as she let out a high-pitched cackle. “What do you think?”
“This is crazy,” I said, the panic clear in my voice.
She moved toward me with a predatory step. I scrambled backwards, looking around frantically for a weapon. My gaze fell upon a sword and a club laying on the ground about ten feet away. I pushed myself to my feet and sprinted toward the club. I picked it up and turned to face the shifter.
“What are you going to do with that?” Amusement colored her voice. She could have stopped me at any time. My speed was a snail’s pace compared to her supernatural one.
“I’m going to smash your head in,” I told her boldly. Despite its weight, the club was easy to pick up and wield. I imagined it was a baseball bat and visualized exactly how I would hit her.
The shifter threw her head back and laughed again. I couldn’t see what was so funny. If she was going to claw off my face, then I would club hers to oblivion. “Let’s see you try that, human,” she sneered.
The word made something inside me twist. I pushed the feelings aside, locking them away. There was time for that later if I survived this encounter.
“My name’s Vanessa,” I told her, glaring back at her smug expression.
“Come on then, Vanessa, let’s see what you’ve got,” the shifter said as she cracked her knuckles.
I winced at the sound.
A sharp smile crossed her face. She rushed at me and I raised the club and swung toward her. Before the club could connect with her body, she dropped to the ground as if she was about to do a push-up. The club swung harmlessly over her head. She jumped back up, showing off her agility and strength as her knees reached her chest. Before I could swing the club back around, her hand clamped around my neck and she lifted me off the ground. I dropped the club, my hands clawing at her fingers which tightened around my neck like a noose. She raised me higher as if I was as light as a kitten. My toes barely touched the floor.
“It seems like the club isn’t the best weapon for you,” she mused, glancing at the discarded object.
I cursed at her, but it came out as a strangled gurgle.
She tilted her head and looked at me as if contemplating how easy it would be to simply tighten those fingers around my neck and end my life. I raised a knee and tried to kick at her body, but she blocked me with her left hand. I used my other leg to kick her and winced as I made contact with her hard body. She swatted at me like I was a fly.
It was becoming more difficult to breathe.
“You’re still far too slow,” she said. “You have to work more on your defensive skills.”
Her fingers released me, and I fell to the ground as my legs gave out under me. She looked down at me as I gasped for air. She rolled her eyes at my slumped form.
“She’s alright,” she said.
Still trying to get my breath back, I frowned, wondering who she was talking to.
“I didn’t hurt her,” she said over her shoulder to a person I couldn’t see. “Much,” she added.
She pivoted to the side, revealing a tall man with a grim expression on his face and narrowed eyes. Guillen.
“What are you doing with Vanessa?” he asked Shaima.
“She asked for self-defense lessons. I’ve been giving them to her.” Shaima shrugged.
Guillen’s expression asked me to confirm or deny her assertion.
I opened my mouth and a croak came out instead of a yes. I cleared my throat and tried again. “I asked her. She didn’t hurt me,” I confirmed. “Much.”
“Why?” Guillen asked me. “Have you been threatened?”
“I used to take self-defense lessons back in my old town.” It was the truth. Ever since my mother had tried to kill me, I had been taking consistent classes. And when she had tried to kill me again I worked even harder to protect myself. I didn’t want to forget what I’d learned especially in light of where I was living.
I had purposely ignored answering Guillen’s question. I hadn’t been threatened yet, but every day that I spent living in the Dragon Research and Authority Center was another day that I was at risk. I had been admitted into the Dragon Research Initiate Program as a human. It wasn’t until Aisha, the assassin, had tried to wipe my memory that I had discovered that I was a witch. And if the dragons knew what I was, then they would kill me. They wouldn’t suffer a witch to live among them.
But I couldn’t just leave the program. I needed to find out more about what I was, but the longer I stayed, the more I risked someone discovering my secret.
“Self-defense lessons with a shifter isn’t the same as human self-defense lessons,” Guillen said, stating the obvious.
“We’ve had several lessons. I haven’t sent her to the infirmary yet.” Shaima cracked her knuckles. The sound made me wince again. I ran a hand up to my neck and felt the soreness there. That was going to leave a bruise.
Guillen watched my hand and frowned at Shaima. “As long as you remember she’s just a human.”
If he only knew.