Authors: Amira Rain
TO THE DRAGON
A PARANORMAL SHIFTER ROMANCE
©2016 by Amira Rain
All rights reserved.
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About This Book
After a passionate one night stand with a dragon shifter named Desmond, Madison Bennett is stunned to discover she is pregnant.
She is stunned even further when she discovers that being pregnant gives her strange supernatural powers and she soon realizes that she is one of the
One of a small amount of humans who are born with supernatural powers and it was the pregnancy that activated her gift.
Now Madison must tell Desmond about the pregnancy but she is shocked when he tells her he wants nothing to do with her or the baby and there is a very good reason why....
When the government agents knocked on my apartment door, I wondered what had taken them so long. It had been a full three days since I'd discovered that I was one of the Gifted, women who possessed supernatural powers of various kinds. Usually, the agents showed up in less than twenty-four hours, from what I'd heard. I'd even begun to wonder if they were
going to show up to take me to my assigned "post."
I'd begun to wonder if I should have gone ahead and called them myself right away, instead of just figuring that probably several of the dozen or so people who'd witnessed the display of my power had already done so. But, being that private citizens were rewarded with lump sums of cash for reporting Gifteds, I'd assumed that at least one of them had called it in, especially since at least half of the people present that day knew my name; and now it seemed I'd been right. For whatever reason, it had just taken the agents a little while to come to me.
My building didn't have an intercom buzzer system or a doorman or anything, so the three agents came right up to my second-floor apartment. I peered at them through the peephole, wanting to make sure they were who I thought they were, but it was pretty obvious. With all of them dressed in black and wearing nearly identical serious expressions, they were the perfect picture of G-men, or G-men and G-women, as the case was. Joining one tall, slim man with wire-framed glasses, there were two women, one with platinum blonde hair and the other with short dark hair and bright red lipstick.
It was this dark-haired woman who seemed to have been the one that had knocked, because she was standing closest to the door. After a few seconds of peering out the peephole, I opened the door just as she was about to knock again.
Trying to keep my voice even and not overly enthusiastic, I said hello. "Can I help you, folks?"
Standing in a shaft of sunlight slanting in through one of the tall windows lining the hallway, the dark-haired woman gave me the hint of a polite smile.
"We're from Washington, D.C. Are you Madison Bennett?"
I nodded. "Yes. I am."
After the dark-haired woman and her two fellow agents had flashed badges of some sort at me, she continued. "We're hoping we might be able to come in and talk to you. We've received word that you're a Gifted, and we'd like to invite you to come with us to your posted assignment, in Chicago. May we come in and discuss this invitation with you?"
. Calling it that struck me as just a bit funny, because I knew that a Gifted
an "invitation" to travel to her assigned post was actually now a federal offense that resulted in prison time.
So, really, unless a person liked forced confinement and loss of liberty, an "invitation" from the government was more like a "forced relocation to assigned post." I had to hand it to the dark-haired agent for at least trying to be pleasant and polite about it all. I was sure that in her line of work, she often encountered Gifteds who had to be coaxed and finessed, to say the least, into agreeing to be taken to their posts.
I, however, wasn't going to need to be coaxed in the least. I was pretty much raring to go, in fact. I needed a fresh start, and I needed money, desperately. And, being that I'd heard that Gifteds were paid extremely well by the government for their services, I knew that my relocation could provide both these things. Not to mention that after living in a smaller-to-midsized city my whole life, the idea of living in Chicago was exciting in and of itself.
Trying to conceal just how excited I was, thereby concealing just how miserable my life had become, I told the agents that we didn't even need to talk about my "invitation," because I'd already decided to accept it.
"If you'd all like to have some coffee while I finish packing, though, please come on in."
I'd actually been almost completely packed since the day my supernatural power had appeared.
completely out of the blue, stunning me
, might have been a better way of putting it than just
. Three days earlier, I'd been just standing in line at the coffee shop next door to my apartment building when a silvery beam of light had just shot from one of my palms, burning a dime-sized hole in the flooring.
Customers sitting at tables nearby had gasped, and I had gasped. An older woman standing behind me had whipped her phone out and taken a picture of the hole in the floor, saying that her husband was never going to believe what she'd just seen.
Apparently, I was what was called a "latent Gifted," which was to say, a Gifted whose powers hadn't manifested fairly soon after the Angel Coven's failed takeover of the world, which was when most other Gifteds had developed their powers. My power had been latent because I was one of the Gifteds whose powers seemed to be activated only by pregnancy.
I was exactly one month along. And, before discovering that I was a Gifted, I'd been an anxious, absolute wreck. I was twenty-six, unmarried, and newly unemployed. My parents had both been killed by Angel sorcerers during The Takeover, two years earlier. I only had one relative left, my eighty-one-year-old maternal grandmother, who lived in a nearby group care home for people with various stages of Alzheimer's disease.
I loved her dearly, and she was the main reason I'd stayed in the city of Quincy when nearly all my friends had fled to different parts of Illinois and the Midwest in the chaos that had followed The Takeover. Now that I was a Gifted, she was also the only reason I was still just slightly hesitant to leave.
Before discovering that I was a Gifted, I'd had no clue how I was going to support a child and make it all work. But, I'd known that I
make it all work, one way or the other.
Feeling that becoming a mother was the right thing for me, even if it was happening at the wrong time, I'd resolved to keep my child and make a good life for him or her, even if that meant taking a job I didn't necessarily want to do, which was pretty much all the available jobs in Quincy.
I had no desire to do anything other than what I'd been doing for the past seven years, which was being a gymnastics coach.
I started in the sport at age five, competed at club level, and then had gone on to become high school state champion in floor exercise and balance beam. That led to a college scholarship, but after only a year, various injuries forced me to quit, and I came back home to Quincy and the gymnastics center that had basically been my childhood home.
Right away, I filled the vacant position of head team coach, and the pay had been pretty decent. More importantly, I loved what I was doing, and I'd been happy and secure. Even in the chaotic two years post-Takeover, the gym felt like a welcome haven of routine and normalcy.
But then, only a few weeks ago, I'd found out I was pregnant. With the city of Quincy still bleeding out residents, the gymnastics center had to close its doors. With enrollment at an all-time low, I wasn’t exactly surprised, just sad, as well as more than a bit panic-stricken.
I hadn't wanted to follow my boss, who was also a good friend, to Texas, a state supposedly fairly free of Angels, because I hadn't wanted to uproot my grandma, considering her poor health.
I considered being a Gifted one of the best things that had ever happened to me in my life. Now I'd have money for my baby, and a lot of it, and I'd also get a fresh start, though all the while still being in close visiting distance of my grandma. Chicago was only about an hour from Quincy, and I'd had a hunch I'd be "stationed" there, just because I heard that most Gifteds from Illinois wound up there. Really, I couldn't believe my good luck.
While the government agents sipped coffee and ate apple cinnamon muffins that I'd made for breakfast earlier that morning, I finished packing a few last items in the large suitcase I was bringing. As I'd suspected, based on things I'd heard, the agents told me that movers would soon come and pack up the rest of my things, and then have everything delivered to me in Chicago.
Within ten minutes or so, I was ready to leave, and this coincided perfectly with the agents finishing their coffee and muffins.
The lone male agent stood, pushed in his chair, and asked if I was all set. "Anything else you may want before the movers deliver your things? It may not be until tomorrow."
I shook my head, thinking. "No...I think I've got everything I need. I do have one question, though. Would it be possible for me to stop by my grandma's care home before we leave town? I'd like to say goodbye."
Pretty much echoing each other, the three agents said things along the lines of
They drove me to my grandma's in a shiny black sedan. I sat in the back with the blonde agent, who told me her name was Cynthia, but other than that, she didn't say much.
The group home where my grandma lived was owned by a smiling, fifty-something woman named Eloise, who was a registered geriatric nurse. She ushered me into the house, saying that she hadn't been very surprised when she'd heard around town that I was a Gifted and that I'd probably be leaving soon. "But I knew you'd never leave without saying goodbye to your grandma."
She was right about that. I may have been happy about being a Gifted, thrilled even, but if the agents hadn't allowed me to say goodbye to my grandma before leaving Quincy, they would have had to take me literally kicking and screaming.
Leading me down a long hallway that bisected the vast house, Eloise told me that most of the residents were with two caretakers in the kitchen, making May Day baskets and spring-themed simple crafts, since it was May first. "Your grandma, however, went out to the living room to watch TV a short while ago, after making a very pretty flower with pastel tissue paper. I think one craft was enough for her."
After saying a quick hello to the residents and caretakers, I went out to the living room, where my grandma was sitting on the couch watching a game show. Dressed in pale pink sweatpants and sweatshirt, and with her mouth curved in a happy, day-dreamy little smile, she looked almost unbearably sweet, so sweet that it made my heart ache. The feeling intensified when I saw a flower made from green pipe cleaners and pastel tissue paper clutched in one of her small, wrinkled hands.
When I approached the couch after a few moments just spent looking at her, fighting tears, she turned her focus from the TV to me, and her little smile got a bit bigger.
Smiling in return, I had a seat next to her on the couch and took her free hand in one of my own.
"Hi, Grandma. How are you?"
Ignoring my question, she looked from me to the TV, then back to me again. "They're about to give away the grand prize...ten thousand dollars. Wouldn't that be something else? To win ten thousand dollars just for answering a couple of trivia questions?"
I agreed that it would be something else, and she turned back to the TV just in time to see one of three contestants get showered with confetti while the host handed her a comically large check made out to
Grand Prize Winner
My grandma murmured a few things regarding the smarts and good luck of the winner before suddenly turning her gaze back to me. "You look an awful lot like my granddaughter. Her name's Madison."
During her three years at the care home, my grandma had not recognized me as actually being her granddaughter probably a hundred times. It should have been an easy thing for me to experience by this point. It seemed like at the very least, I should have been completely used to it. But, despite this, every single time, it hurt just as badly as the first time she hadn't recognized me. It was still very bit as simultaneously sad and upsetting.
However, I'd learned to hide my sadness. It did no good to let my grandma see tears. They seemed to further confuse her and make her anxious, which in turn, saddened and upset
even further, which in turn, upset
It was best to just gently remind her who I was and then move on, multiple times, if need be. I'd learned to compartmentalize my sadness into a mental box labeled