Tumble off reality’s edge into myth, magic, and Scottish dragon shifters
Furious and weary, Angus Shea wants out, but no matter how he feels, he can’t stop the magic powering his visions. The Celts kidnapped him when he wasn’t much more than a boy and forced him to do their bidding. He’s sick of them and their endless assignments, but they wiped his memories, and he has no idea where he came from.
Dragon shifters are disappearing from the Scottish Highlands, and the Celtic Council sends Angus to investigate. He meets up with Arianrhod, legendary virgin huntress from Celtic myth, in Fire Mountain, the dragons’ home world.
Arianrhod prefers to work alone, mostly because she harbors a dirty little secret and guards her privacy for the best of reasons. She’s not exactly a virgin, and she’d be laughed out of the Pantheon if the truth surfaced. Despite the complications of leading a double life, she’s never found a lover who tempted her to walk away from her fellow Celtic gods.
Attraction ignites, hot and so urgent Arianrhod’s carefully balanced life teeters on the brink of discovery. Angus is everything she’s ever wanted, but he’s far too close to her Celtic kin to keep her secret safe. Angus wants her too, but she’s a Celt. He’s hated them forever, and she’s part of everything he’s lain awake nights plotting to escape from.
Can they risk everything?
If they do, can they live with the consequences?
…Excitement thrummed through her, and she considered how to proceed once she arrived at Fire Mountain. Mayhap she could pretend she was interested in pairing with a dragon. She narrowed her eyes and chewed thoughtfully on her lower lip. Should she join with Angus and the dragon, Eletea? Or pretend she knew nothing about them. If she chose to masquerade as a wannabe dragon shifter, would the Ancient Ones believe her?
“Why would they?” she muttered. “I haven’t shown the slightest interest in anything dragon-related since the dawn of time.” Perhaps she could tell them she was bored, that her life lacked meaning, purpose. All true. Immortality held a big downside, particularly since somewhere along the line, she’d fashioned herself as the virgin huntress.
Arianrhod rolled her mental eyes. Why the hell had she thought that was a good idea when Danu suggested it? At the time, she’d hoped to escape Bran’s attentions, but she hadn’t planned on a millennia tossing and turning in an empty bed. The god of prophecy—Bran—was as big a pain in the ass as he’d always been, but at least he had a cock…
She winced. It had taken stealth and cunning to maintain her artfully crafted persona and still have a sex life. Nothing frequent enough to draw attention, but she’d lain with an amazing coal black dragon. He’d worried his kin would shun him if their affair were discovered, but it hadn’t made a dent in his hunger for her.
Nothing quite like the forbidden to fan those flames…
Truth smacked her between the eyes. Loneliness and lust were why she’d volunteered so readily to make the trek to Fire Mountain. And why she’d sidestepped Gwydion. The last thing she needed was a witness if she stumbled onto Keene—or another likely candidate. Dragons lived forever. Perhaps Keene might be interested in another fling—for old time’s sake if nothing else.
Usually she stopped herself from thinking about her past and what she wished she’d done differently, but she couldn’t shut off her thoughts. If she’d had children, real children, it would’ve made such a difference.
The two sons she’d conceived magically were odd. But how could they have been aught else? She’d been forced to jump over a magical rod to prove she was a virgin, and twin sons were the result. Dylan sank into obscurity, retreating to the seas when the strain of day-to-day life without enough power to light a candle became too much to bear. Lleu would’ve left as well, but Gwydion subverted every single one of Lleu’s escape plans as he grew to manhood. Lleu blamed her for Gwydion’s meddling, and she hadn’t laid eyes on him for a very long time. She suspected Gwydion hadn’t, either.
Her empty life mocked her, but she was damned if she could figure out what to do to change it. It wasn’t as if she could march up to Ceridwen and the others, clear her throat, and say, “Sorry, but I’m sick of being a Celtic god. Think I’ll be a mortal for a while. And hey, if that doesn’t please you, I’ll take to my owl form and be done with the lot of you.”
“Oberon’s balls!” She crashed one fist into an open hand, taking care not to jostle the traveling portal. “I have to pull my head out of my ass. Ceridwen handed me a fascinating problem. I need to focus on it. No dragon fucking. No diversions. Go in. Put my head down. Get the job done.”
Nice lecture, but can I do it?
Arianrhod stroked the shiny bow draped over her shoulder. It was a work of art. She’d made it herself from yew wood, not cutting any corners, so it took months for the wood to shape and cure. She twisted her mouth into a wry smile. The huntress part of her title was fine. It fit, and she enjoyed the cunning, planning, and forethought it took to outsmart prey. If she was sick of the pretend-to-be-a-virgin part, who could blame her?
The rhythm of her traveling tube shifted. Arianrhod glanced at a node to check her location and understood her journey would be over soon. She rotated her shoulders to relax and ready herself, thought about her virgin huntress title once more, and laughed.
“The virgin part may grate, but I adore being a huntress. Fifty percent isn’t bad,” she told the gray-pink walls as they shuddered to a stop. “Most people don’t even get that.”…
About the Author:
Ann Gimpel is a national bestselling author. She’s also a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent and a vagabond at heart. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published over 30 books to date, with several more planned for 2015 and beyond.
A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.
@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)