Genre: Urban Fantasy
Number of pages: 300
Word Count: 85,988
Cover Artist: Tatiana Vila
Book Description“Dragons do not exist.” Ella Hixson shrieked as the mythical beasts dive from the sky shredding her car with their impressively long talons and sending her careening across the road in an attempt to avoid the being flambéed. Escaping her car, she grasps the car door in order to prevent herself from tumbling down the slippery embankment. Pouring rain soaks Ella’s interview suit and her dress shoes as she searches the sky for the attacking beasts to find nothing but clouds heavy with their payload of rain.
Hallucinations, relationship destroying fights with her only surviving relative-her mother, and, thanks to a bodaciously bosomed, bottle-blond, jobless, Ella needs the universe to cut her a break.
Be careful what you wish for.
Circumstances conspire and Ella’s mundane existence evaporates when she discovers she is Drakkon, the hidden heir to an ancient dynasty, and she has an enemy who would see all the Drakkon race enslaved or dead.
No more ordinary days for Ella as she learns what it is to be Drakkon, tries to save a world she knows nothing about, and still be home in time to feed her dog.
ExcerptElla felt a sense of déjà vu as they moved through the shelves of books. Passing the office door, her stomach roiled with anxiety. She had no desire to encounter the taciturn manager ever again. A paneled wall seemed to be their destination. Nathan pressed his palm on a spot above Ella’s head. A door opened, revealing a set of stairs that lead up into the recesses of the house.
“Ms. Hixson, after you.” The cat gave a chuff. “You too, Kaie.”
Unease trickled down Ella’s spine; the act of walking through the door seemed portentous. Kaie butted her head against her leg, the cat equivalent of ‘get moving, I have places to go, silly human!’
“Second star to the left and straight on ‘til morning,” Ella whispered.
Nathan glanced at Ella. “What was that?”
“Nothing.” The moment Ella crossed the threshold, felt a surge of energy pulse through her body. Destiny had clearly crossed her path. Her shoulders squared, she took the directions from the cat and moved forward.
* * *
The tip of Kaie’s tail swayed in a hypnotic rhythm as they climbed. By her calculations, they should have been well past the roof by now. She tried not to puff. “How many stairs are there?”
“My grandmother had affection for stairs. I’m sure you’ve heard the odd stories about the house architecture.” Nathan gave a little laugh that reminded Ella of an inside joke, the kind she was never a part of. “Most of the stories are true.”
“The gypsy curse?”
“No gypsies, but Grandmother was a superstitious lady who felt the need to confuse and confound the unfriendly, mysterious beings of the universe that might mean to harm her.”
“Mysterious beings?” Ella forgot all about her burning thighs and short breath. “Paranoid much?” Ella realized that her inner censor had slipped up again. “I’m sorry. I’m sure she was a very creative lady,” she added.
The last flight of stairs led straight up to the ceiling and a glistening red door that lay level with the ceiling, at its center a bright brass knob. Ella’s expectations of the bizarre were not disappointed. Nathan pulled out a long gold chain from under his shirt. Upon it was a skeleton key. An intricate Celtic design decorated its bow. Nathan unlocked the door and gave a firm thrust up, allowing Ella and Kaie to precede him into the chamber.
* * *
Jewel tones gleamed from the walls, carpet, and furniture. Gold glinted from the shelves that housed books and precious objects that seemed to span millennia. Sinking into the carpet, she resisted the urge to kick off her shoes just to wiggle her toes in the tactile opulence. She knew toe wiggling was not the way to make a good impression. A blissful sigh escaped Ella’s lips at the
sumptuous space. Unfaceted rubies, emeralds, and sapphires, from the Indian sub-continent, littered the shelves alongside doubloons. Golden statues from South American sat amongst the clutter. All the glittering objects, scattered throughout the space, splintered her concentration.
“Have a seat.” Nathan gestured to a well-padded chair upholstered in glittering brocade. “Can I get you anything to drink?”
His invitation took a minute to register as it broke through Ella’s sensory fugue. As she tried to formulate a coherent response, she obediently sat. “Water would be lovely. Thank you.” Her body felt boneless. “This is an amazing room. It’s what I would imagine a sophisticated dragon’s lair would look like.”
Once more, the five-second delay between her brain and mouth had short-circuited.
Nathan turned from the cleverly hidden mini-fridge in the bookshelf, water bottles in his hands, a mysterious expression gracing his face. He placed the bottles on the table between the chairs and sat. Kaie jumped up and settled onto Nathan’s lap, arching into his hand as he scratched behind her ears. “What do you know of dragons and their kin?”
Her body tensed as apprehension filled her. The last mythical question had ended her interview. “Do you mean dragon lore from the middle ages or actual existence?”
“Anything you might know.”
“Well, I grew up reading Anne McCaffrey’s PERN series and had a serious crush on the dragon riders.” Ella paused to gather her thoughts before she went on. “When I was a kid, I played a little Dungeons & Dragons but got bored with the entire scoring system. I’d rather create my own stories and worlds, you know?”
Ella felt her muscles tighten and, with the tension, the beginnings of a stress headache. If Nathan wanted her opinion on dragons, she’d give it to him with both barrels.
“I’ve read the legends of Saint George,” she continued. “I always thought that the dragon got a bad rap. Personally, I’ve always thought Saint George and the Dragon was an allegory about coping with diversity.” She focused her gaze directly on Nathan. “Have I seen a dragon? No. Do I think they exist? I have absolutely no idea, but the Universe is a huge place.”
Condensation dripped from the forgotten water bottles sitting on the delicate Victorian table between them as Nathan continued to stare at Ella. Her mind counted the seconds, each moment stretching longer than the last.
“That was a lot to say in one breath.” He settled back in his chair, reminding Ella of a cat pondering a choice of toys, or a dragon choosing a trinket from its hoard. “So, no personal experience?”
“I didn’t know it was a pre-requisite for the tour or the job.”
“It’s not.” Nathan stroked Kaie. “I was just inquiring.”
Her façade of calm crumbled. “Look, I came here for a job interview.” Ella fought the comfortable grasp of the chair, pushing herself free to perch on the edge. “A normal interview, where the interviewer asks about job experience, goals, and decision making processes.” Aggravated, she stood and started to pace. “Instead, Ms. Oakton asks me about fairy rings. Then she gets angry with me because I tell her I wouldn’t have time to visit the Underhill.” She abruptly stopped in front of Nathan. “And you ask me what do I know about dragons?” The meeting blown, Ella collected her belongings. She knew she’d screwed up royally. “Look, I was hoping that this would be the job for me…”
“You have the job,” Nathan interrupted.
“I’m going to have …” The words registered and Ella stopped in the middle of her diatribe. “What?”
“The job is yours. See you tomorrow morning at 10 a.m
About the AuthorBorn on a dark and stormy night on the other side of the world from Richmond, VA, Leila Gaskin began a life full of imaginative wanderings. Inspired by her journey, Leila takes inspiration from the places she’s lived. She is the author of several short stories ranging from horror, speculative fiction, and science fiction. HOT FLASHES is her debut novel.
With her dog as her co-pilot and the cat as the navigator, Leila explores her world and tells her stories.
Tour Wide Giveaway
25 dragon charm bookmarks
4 hard copies of Hot Flashes