Dear Readers,

I’m super excited to share chapter one of the ZINNIA, the new Angelbound Origins Book 3!!! Plus, there are savings across the series to celebrate the launch of ZINNIA…

MAXON is only $.99: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Apple Books / Googleplay

PORTIA is 50% off: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Apple Books / Googleplay

ZINNIA is coming in July: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Apple Books / GooglePlay

Christina

ZINNIA
Chapter One – Zinnia, Age Eight

I just want to sneak out of naptime and see my friend LT.

That isn’t being bad. Not really. 

After all, I’m eight years old—almost nine, really—and grown-ups like me don’t need naps. Plus, the bad dragons haven’t been around for weeks and weeks. And if those Triumverate creepsies do show up? My magic is super powerful. It’ll be even stronger once I figure out how to use it.

The bad dragons should be afraid of me, not the other way around.

Boom.

Twisting under my covers, I check out my bedroom. There are pink curtains, white furniture, and the royal crest of Furonium over the door. My parents rule all dragon shifters, so that crest-thingy hangs all over the palace. My family also stays in human form most of the time. That’s why my sisters, Kaps and Hunter, are now tucked into their bunk beds along the opposite wall. No dragon caves for us, thank you very much.

I squint for a better look at my sisters. Like always, Kaps lays half-way off the top bunk. Her left arm and leg dangle off the mattress. Wisps of brown hair hang over her mouth, blowing in and out with her snores. I shake my head.

Even asleep, my twin is noisy.

Meanwhile, Huntress rests curled up on her side. Her shoulders rise and fall slilently. Huntress never lets out a sound, even when she’s snoozing.

Which settles things.

Both my sisters are totally zonked out.

Time to go.

Walking on tippy-toe, I creep over to my dresser. My red party dress is already laid out on top. I brush my fingers across it. So soft. I slip on the fluffy prettiness, then choose matching patent leather shoes. Turning, I look at myself in the mirror: short white-blonde hair, pale skin, big blue eyes and—like all dragon shifters in Furonium—a long black tail with an arrowhead-shaped end. Everyone says I look like Mum, while Kaps looks like Da.

But what does LT look like?

Tilting my head, I try to imagine my friend. It’s been months since he left. What if I don’t recognize LT any more? I squish my eyes shut extra hard and picture his face. Dark hair? Yes. Green eyes for sure. But mostly what I remember is LT’s music. Acoustic guitar. LT plays and I hum along. That’s the official story, anyway.

Then he left.

My chest feels all tight, like there’s a rope around my heart. I hate thinking about LT departing the dragon realm. Don’t get me wrong. I understand why my friend went to music school on Earth. Guitar isn’t exactly big with dragons. Plus LT’s mum, Sienna, is both human and a famous cello player. So she knew the right school for LT.

Which is why he went away.

That rope-feeling at my heart gets even tighter.

Shaking my head, I force on a smile. There’s no reason to feel sad about LT today. He’s back from school. And my friend loves to play guitar in the afternoon. No doubt about it. Right now, LT is sitting on the bench under his favorite tree, plucking out a tune. All that’s left is for me to see him. My stomach twists like that time I ate raw mosel leaves. Must be getting excited. Staying super quiet, I step across the wood floor and grab the door handle.

Almost there. 

All of a sudden, sheets rustle nearby. Kaps flips off her covers, hopping off the top bunk to land perfectly on the floor. She’s wearing explorer khakis, the kind that are packed with hidden pockets. Her black tail sways happily behind her.

“Off for the royal treasury?” asks Kaps. My twin is obsessed with the miles of vaults under our palace. It’s the dragon in her. I could be wearing a bathing suit and she’d ask if I’m off to the treasury.

“Not really,” I say slowly.

A figure appears out of thin air beside Kaps: brown hair, violet eyes and a white-scaled tail. Huntress. I didn’t hear her slip out of bed or anything, but that’s my older sister for you. Glass dragons are masters at turning invisible and sneaking around. Like always, Huntress wears battle leathers.

“You’re off to see LT,” says Huntress. It’s not a question.

“LT?” says Kaps. “Who’s that?”

“Please.” Huntress waves her hand. “We all know LT. He’s been Zin’s best friend since forever.”

“But I’m Zin’s twin,” snaps Kaps. “That makes me her best friend.” She turns to me. “There’s no way you’re off to see some random dragon boy, right?”

I debate about lying, but it’s pointless with my sisters. “I will see LT today. Alone.”

Huntress pins me with her mum-look. It’s the one she uses when I’m about to burn my hand or make one of the servants cry. “You can’t roam around the palace by yourself,” warns Huntress. “That’s dangerous.”

I kick at the floor. Another lecture about safety from Huntress. Sometimes I think my sister is a grown-up trapped in a nine year old’s body.

“There’s nothing to worry about,” adds Kaps. “You give me the same speech when I hit the vaults solo. Nothing ever happens. We’re perfectly safe.”

“See?” I point at my twin. “Even Kaps agrees. The bad dragons are gone.”

Huntress sets her hands on her hips. “The Triumverate stopped trying to break into the palace five weeks ago. One single month. Mark my words. They haven’t given up. You don’t know them like I do.”

And Huntress is right. The Triumverate are renegade dragons loyal to the old Emperor, Chimera. Not sure why they care—grandpa Chimera’s been dead for years and he was a total creep too—but dragons can be weird. Now the Triumverate hates my family and any tribe that follows us (which means they hate most everybody). In fact, it was the Triumverate who sent a dragon mage after Huntress’ village. Back then, my sister was a little kid. She was also the only survivor from the attack. Afterward we adopted Huntress because—as Mum and Da said—anyone that strong was already a royal anyway.

Kaps narrows her eyes. She can always tell when people aren’t saying everything in their hearts. “What’s happened, Huntress?”

A shiver moves across my shoulders. “The bad dragons are gone, right?” I hope.

When Huntress speaks, there’s a wobble in her voice. “Attacks will start up again and soon. Migah has been spotted. She’s heading toward the palace.”

Both Kaps and I set our hands over our mouths. It’s a twin thing that we do when we’re shocked. And this news is huge. Migah is not only a glass dragon; she’s also the very mage who destroyed Huntress’ village.

“Sorry, Huntress,” say Kaps and I in unison. Speaking together is another twin thing.

Kaps raises her hand. “I’ve got it. We can stop Migah’s magic. There are enchanted things that can protect us.”

“Let me guess,” I say. “Those magical thingies are hidden in the treasury.”

“Right. Who’s up for it?” asks Kaps.

I creep closer to the door. “Looking around will take a lot of time. You guys hit the treasury without me.”

“No,” says Huntress in her mum-voice again. “It isn’t safe. The Triumverate want revenge. Uncle Maxon killed Chimera. Now someone in our family must die and make things even.” Huntress makes little quotation marks with her fingers when she says that last part. “The three of us?” She gestures to herself, me and Kaps. “We’re the easiest targets.”

It’s all true, but it sucks. I twist at the skirt of my party dress. “I just want to hear LT play.”

Huntress folds her arms over her chest. “That’s why we’re all going with Zinnia to see LT.”

The way Huntress says all, I don’t like it. “What do you mean?” I ask.

“Mum and Da will be there too,” answers Huntress. “I thought you’d sneak off to see LT, so I invited them along for back up.” Huntress’ mouth arches into this sneaky half-smile. “We all want to hear you sing.”

“I’ll hum.” A chill spreads all over my body. “I only sing for LT.”

Kaps rolls her eyes again. “How hard can it be? La la la. Just sing.”

“It’s …” I begin to explain, but can’t find the words. For me, singing summons my magic. And that’s power I just can’t control yet. If I try to sing with other people round, magic clogs up my throat. All I can do tis hum. Unless it’s just me and LT. Then I can sing just fine,.

“I’ve been waiting forever to find out why you won’t sing for us. It’s…” Kaps winds her hand in a circle, urging me to finish my sentence. “What?”

“None of your beeswax,” I reply. When we were little, I made the mistake of telling Kaps I thought LT was my Rhana. That’s the life mate dragons find when they grow up. For Furor, fidning your Rhana is bigger than getting married. After I blabbed about LT, Kaps teased me for months and months. I can hear the chants now.

Zin and LT sitting in a tree … K-I-S-S-I-N-G! 

If I told Kaps about how LT helps my singing and magic, then she’d never shut up. My twin can be mean that way.

Huntress ignores the whole LT situation. Instead, she walks over to block the door. “You can also stay in bed, Zinnia. It is naptime, after all.”

My mouth falls open in shock. “Not fair. Big-girl princesses shouldn’t have to take naps.” I look to Kaps. She has to agree with me on this one.

Kaps goes to stand beside my older sister. “I’m with Huntress,” she declares. “Nap now or show us what’s really going on with this singing-thing and LT.”

I scrunch up my mouth and think things through. It’s true that I can be sneaky like Kaps. And I’m also as good a warrior as Huntress. But I can’t fight both my sisters at once.

“Fine,” I say. “We’ll all go see LT.”

And so the three of us head out. But I take off at a run.

–End Of Sample–

Get MAXON for only $.99: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Apple Books / Googleplay

PORTIA is 50% off: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Apple Books / Googleplay

ZINNIA is coming in July: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Apple Books / GooglePlay

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