House of Sensual Romance ™

This is a place of comfort for everyone. I hope you enjoy my stories, and those of my friends. Let me know what you liked about them and what you didn't. You can also visit my website for more excerpts of my work. And all work on my blog is copyright protected.

Monday, December 24, 2007

MERRY CHRISTMAS ALL, I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 1 of Promises


By LaVerne Thompson

Copyrighted 2007

CHAPTER 1 (Excerpt)

The lone man paused at the top of the grand staircase. His stillness so complete, anyone watching him would have thought him a sculpture clothed in black. If they happened to look at his eyes, they would find him very much alive. Gray eyes the color of storm clouds narrowed as they scanned the crowd below. Searching for someone. His only thoughts: there were too many people around and they were in his way.

He was a man on a mission.

Slowly, motion returned to his body, and he shifted forward one tux-covered pant leg, starting down the steps to the ballroom floor. His eyes continued scanning the elegantly clad people milling about.

When he reached the last step, a man with eyes the same color as his own stepped in front of him, momentarily blocking his view. The tension radiating from him instantly lessened at the sight of this man.

“David.” His father, Tom Hoggins hugged him. “Hello son, it’s good to have you home at last. When did you get in?”

“It’s good to be home, Dad,” David responded. “I got in about an hour ago. I had just enough time to get to the house and change.”

“David!” a feminine voice shrieked, before her pale slender arms wrapped around his neck, pulling him down to her level so she could press a kiss against his shaved cheek.

“Hello Mother,” David said with a smile in his voice as he returned her hug. His tension lessened even more. “I told you I’d make it in time. You look beautiful.”

Blue eyes looked into gray and smiled. “Yes you did, honey, and thank you. You look very handsome, too,” Mary Hoggins said, wiping her lipstick imprint off her son’s cheek. She moved her hand to hold his elbow and affectionately patted his chest with the other; afraid he might disappear if she let him go. “Oh it’s so wonderful to finally have you home. It’s perfect. How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine, Mom. Just a little tired. I’ve been flying nonstop for the last fourteen hours to get here.”

His mother grinned. She had correctly guessed at his rush to get here, and it wasn’t to see his parents.

It had been many years since David had been in the States and six months since he’d last seen his parents. He’d been injured on his last mission and his parents had been granted clearance to spend a week with him after his surgery.

“Where are the Richardsons?” David asked. They were the reason for this fundraiser his parents were hosting. The Richardsons and Hoggins had been friends for years. Sally Richardson, was of West Indian descent and running for the Senate seat from Virginia, and her husband, whose roots traced back to the founders of Virginia, was her campaign manager. The ultimate Washington power couple and David liked them both, even if he hadn’t seen them in years. They, however, were not the real reason he traveled through hell to make it home tonight. Like a lodestone, their daughter drew him back.


Twelve years.

He’d spent twelve long and lonely years without her. She was what had kept him goingthe memory of her. He was here now and he wasn’t going anywhere, at least not until he knew how she felt about him. Until he did, his mind held him in a grip of anticipation, excitement, and also a little bit of fear. He wasn’t sure if any of it was real, but he wasn’t going to wait much longer to find out. He was betting his entire future that it was all very real.

Soon he’d know. They weren’t kids any more. They were adults now, with adult feelings. Nothing to hold them back, not age, distance or time.

She must have sensed him staring at her because suddenly she turned around and stared back at him. Even across the crowded room, he could feel her drawing him toward her; pulling him in until only the two of them existed in the universe. Just the way it had always been between them. There was no reason for fear.

Nothing had changed. He knew the truth now. He loved her still.

Except everything had changed. He was now free to show her.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I got an early Christmas present this year so I wanted to share. I signed a contract with Shadowrose Publishing for a short story I wrote, Promises. It will be part of a print anthology due out next year. As soon as I have a release date I will let everyone know. And yes, it is an IR, in fact, just know that all of my stories will be IRs, in that the woman will be of color and the male will almost always be Caucasian. But I don't rule out an Asian/Caucasian mix for the male. LOL

Either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, I will upload the first chapter of my shortstory Promises for your enjoyment. Unlike my other work here, this one has actually been edited.

Thank you for your interest in my work.

This is my favorite time of year. May you remember the reason for the season and may it bring you joy.

LaVerne aka Isis

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving All

Dragon's Heart--CHAPTER 3

The good news was, despite running into some bad weather, flight forty-seven was right on schedule. Best of all, the passenger in seat 14A slept through most of it. He didn’t see anything else blocking out the sun. The bad news was he dreamt. He dreamt of a circle of emerald stones, dragons with hides of gold and a dragon so dark that no light reflected off it.
He woke up abruptly, when the voice of the pilot came on announcing they were in their final descent over Dulles Airport in Virginia. Dazed at first, then glad realizing the flight was almost over. He pulled his seat upright and put on his jacket, already losing the gist of his dream, until it was all but forgotten. He didn’t remember anything odd, happening during the flight. He just looked forward to spending time with his daughter.
He had divorced her mother two years ago then moved to London. He hadn’t seen his child since but he’d kept in touch with her. He had remarried recently and very much wanted to be a part of his daughter’s life. She would be ten tomorrow and he was her surprise.
Maya didn’t know how long she had been sitting on the cold unforgiving ground with the young man’s head in her lap, when the emergency and rescue people finally found them. It was at least long enough for her butt to go numb. She’d had to drag herself and the boy to the outer perimeter of the stones so her phone would work and for the rescue team to be able to find them.
She didn’t understand what compelled her to stay with the boy and watch over him. She could not abandon him.
“Here lass,” the first man said to reach her. “What happened? Are you alright?”
“Yes. I’m fine. But he’s hurt,” she said indicating the still unconscious boy.
The paramedic, at least Maya assumed he was the Irish’s equivalent of an American paramedic, checked the young man’s pulse then shone a light into his eyes. Thankfully, the only glow this time came from the pen light in the medic’s hand.
“Let’s get him on the stretcher,” the first man said. “Can you tell us what happened, Miss? Is this your hiking companion?”
Maya watched as the boy was strapped onto a stretcher and a second medic helped to lift him to begin the walk back to the helicopter.
“Ah…no. I don’t know who he is. I…I found him unconscious in the middle of the stones. He came to a little while ago and spoke a bit. He didn’t remember what happened or who he was.” Maya wasn’t about to tell them about his glowing eyes or the glowing stones. Other than sounding crazy, something else compelled her hold her tongue.
“Stones? What stones?” The first medic asked turning his head to look around.
Maya turned around to gesture the way they’d come. “They’re right…,” but the area now lay in heavy fog revealing no sign of the stones. “There are about ten of them, right over there.” Puzzled, she looked back and forth between the two of men. “Come on, you had to have seen them when you found us.” She raised her hand up to her waist. “The stones were about this high!”
“No,” the first man glanced at his partner, a look of confusion on his face. “You see anything?” His partner wearing a similar confused express on his face, shook his head in the negative. “We barely spotted the two of you,” he said. “Maybe the fog blocked our view. Anyway the important thing is that we found you thanks to the GSP signal from your phone.”
Maya couldn’t understand why they hadn’t seen the stones. Granted, the thick fog might obscure their vision but they should have at least seen the stone closest to them. It had only been a hand span away. Another unexplainable thing she decided not to pursue for now. She looked down at the teenager on the stretcher.
“Will he be alright?” she asked, worried.
“I didn’t see any evidence that he took a blow to the head,” the first medic said. “But don’t worry. We’ll get the lad to hospital in no time and the doctors there will take a look at him.”
“May I come with him to the hospital?”
“Of course you can.”
Talon glided out of the cloud to land in a circle of stones that looked very much like the stones of his home world. He had never been here before but he knew that he had made it through the portal. He was on Terra, Earth as it was now known. The land of the Forgotten Ones.
His golden dragon form shimmered even as he landed. If human eyes had been present to observe the change, they would have thought they were looking at an image coated in fluorescent silk, as a male in human form emerged from the center of the shimmer. But the only human essence existed in the center of the stones, in the form of a young man of seventeen earth summers.
Too late, Talon realized time moved differently for dragons. Then again maybe not, at home even at four hundred years, he was barely past hatchling, still young. As a human, he appeared to be a mere teenager. But those thoughts were of no consequence, he heard whispers. Ones he couldn’t ignore.
The Earth and the Stones called to him. They recognized him and welcomed him as the son of one of their own long gone from this world. They lulled him with their song of the ages. They had a lot to tell him.
The first thing he became aware of was that he was naked. In this land, his entire body needed to be covered in some form of cloth, and not the loin covering he was used to. The Stones guided him in what he needed to do.
Magick, to his surprise, was very strong on Earth, especially at the heart of the Stones. It ignited his blood and his veins flowed with power. He looked down and found himself clad in what the knowledge in his mind told him were blue jeans, a dark green t-shirt and covering for his feet, hiking boots; suitable clothing for the time.
The song coaxed him to sleep, to rest, there was much to learn and it would take some time. He was young. His eyes began to close and his muscles relaxed. He lay down on his back in the center of the Stones. He would be perfectly safe. No harm could come to him in the circle of power. There was so much he needed to know. So much still to do. The knowledge the Stones and Mother Earth had to impart to him numbed his mind. He slept…deeply.
Then knew no more.

Maya didn’t know what to tell the night nurse. She had been shocked when she checked the time and saw it was nine at night. It had taken the rescue squad a lot longer to find them than it should have. During the short ride in the helicopter to the hospital, both medics and the pilot kept insisting they didn’t see the stones and had never heard of anything like she described in the area. They had spoken to the guide to get her location, but he never mentioned anything about a circle of standing stones, he gave them a rough description of where he had taken her hiking and the GPS signal in her phone did the rest.
The medics had already left and Maya returned her attention to the admittance nurse. “As I’ve said before, I don’t know who he is. I found him in the center of these standing stones, somewhere on Sperrin Mountain. But, I’ll take full responsibility for him until we can find out who he is.”
The nurse raised her eyebrows, again and replied, “And as I’ve said before. I’ve lived in these parts all my life and I’ve never heard of such stones. Look, the doctor will be out in a minute. I’ll just write him up as an unidentified male. When he wakes up we’ll get the rest of the information. Go ahead and have a seat over there.” She pointed to a row of seats against a wall. “I’ll send the doctor round to you as soon as he’s done.”
“Thank you.” Maya removed her backpack and sat down. She found herself alone and tired in the waiting area. She still didn’t understand what had happened but she felt inexplicably drawn to the boy. He wasn’t her responsibility, yet she had found him and she had promised him she wouldn’t leave him. She also had a lot of questions that she needed answers to; answers she hoped he could provide.
She pulled her cell phone out and changed her flight reservations. This was costing her a small fortune. She’d stay in Ireland for the remainder of her trip. She hoped she didn’t have to make any further changes. Surely by then, the boy would have awakened and regained his memory, and would be able to put her mind to rest about what had happened up on that mountain. What she had seen was real. There had been a dragon etched into the stone and it glowed, as did the boy’s eyes. How did you explain that?
Maya let her head fall back until it touched the wall and closed her eyes. She wasn’t sure how long she slept, but the odd angle of her head caused her neck to ache jerking her awake. Rubbing her neck, she glanced at the nurses’ station, in time to see the night nurse pointing a balding man in her direction. She got up and walked towards him.
“Ms. Trent?” he asked as he held his hand out to shake hers. His white starched doctor’s coat brightened up the dreary hallway. “I’m Doctor Donovan. I understand that you came in with the unconscious young man.”
“Yes doctor. Can you tell me how he’s doing?”
“Unfortunately he’s still unconscious. We’ve run a few tests and I’m still waiting on the results of his blood work, but so far I can’t determine if there’s been any head trauma or anything else to indicate why he’s unconscious. If there’s no change by morning, we’ll run further tests.”
“He came to at least twice when he was with me but he didn’t remember what happened to him or who he is. So maybe he’ll wake up again.”
“Maybe. Comas sometimes can be strange things.” He paused to check his chart. “I see that he’s listed as an unidentified male, so I’m assuming that you’re not a relative?”
“No, I’m sorry. I was out hiking and found him in the middle of a circle of stones, which I know that no one around here seems to have ever heard of. Both times that I questioned him he seemed confused and kept saying his head was hurting.”
“Well, I can tell by your accent that you’re an American. When he spoke did he sound like he might be a local?”
“No, actually he sounded like an American.”
“Well, if he hasn’t awakened by morning I’ll call the local constable and see if there’s been any missing persons report on anyone fitting his description. He’ll also see to it his description is sent to all the agencies that handle missing persons.”
“Great,” Maya replied feeling somewhat relieved. This boy obviously belonged somewhere. “Someone should be looking for him or if he’s got a passport, his information would be in some database. Hopefully, you can find out who he is.”
“I hope so too,” the doctor said.
“May I see him now? I’d like to stay with him for a little while.”
“Well, it’s a mite irregular, but under the circumstances I’ll allow you a few minutes with him.”
“Thank you doctor.”
“If there’s any change we have your hotel number here in the paper work and will give you a call.”
Doctor Donovan escorted her to the boy’s room and left her. He appeared to be sleeping peacefully. Someone had pulled his hair back and tied it with a rubber band so it lay as a long thick ponytail across the right side of his chest. There were what looked like electrodes, attached to his forehead and an IV in his arm. A flicker of light drew Maya’s gaze up above the bed to intricate looking machines that appeared to monitor his heart and brain activities. Maya prayed the green lights meant everything was fine.
The doctor had said she could only stay for a few minutes but he was gone and hopefully no one would bother her for awhile. Since her Nana died in a hospital, she hated the places but she didn’t want to leave the young man alone. She pulled the single chair in the room closer to the bed and sat down, staring at the boy on the bed for a long time. Aside from the slight rise and fall of his chest, he didn’t move.
“Who are you?” she whispered though she didn’t really expect an answer. She stretched her hands beyond her shoulders and put her head down on the side of the bed, immediately falling into an exhausted sleep.
Talon came to. One minute he wasn’t, the next instant he was awake and aware. Very aware. He knew where he was. What and who he was. He also knew that his mother was dead.
The loss of the emotional psychic link to his mother was the final pain that drove him to total unconsciousness. All brethren are linked in some fashion. The love he shared with his parents provided an almost physical link for him to both of them, and they were likewise linked to him. Now one link was simply snuffed out, like a candle in the wind. That could only happen with her death. The knowledge of his mother’s death on top of what the Stones taught him had been too much for his brain and emotions to process.
For awhile, he hadn’t been able to remember who he was, there was just too much infomation being stored into his consciousness and at an alarming rate. Part of his mind went blank while he tried to process it all. It might still take years before he was able to fully access the knowledge the Stones imparted. Some of it he might never be able to use. Because they were of magicks only a Dark Lord could wield.
He turned his head slightly and looked at the woman whose head rested near his hand. Maya, her name was Maya.
She was beautiful.
His newfound knowledge told him her skin was the color of leaves when they turned an autumn brown. And her hair was a riot of long curls, which rested across her shoulders and captured the many russet and golden colors of fall. While her eyes, if he remembered correctly were the color of bronze. He gently touched the hand that lay near his—marveling for a moment at how much paler his appeared next to hers. He did not really need to touch her to know. His need had called her to him. Valour was right. Blood called to blood. She was brethren. One of the Forgotten Ones.
If she could change form she would be a gold or bronze dragon or maybe a very unique combination of both. Dragons came in a variety of colors and the color of a dragon determined the strength of its magicks. If she could harness the powers of both, that would make her one of the strongest female dragons for as long as there had been dragons. The earth magicks had indeed changed the blood as the Stones warned him. More than that, she was a Damn, a Dragon Queen. But she was not his. She was meant for a Dark Dragon Lord. She was his father’s truemate.
Talon knew his mate was on Terra or Earth but her life essence was weak. No, that wasn’t quite right. Not weak just not matured yet. She was still very young, a mere hatchling. By human standards he was young too. He would have to wait for her essence to grow stronger and bide his time to find her. The Stones would not help him with this. It was his destiny to find her or not. But he would. When the time was right she would call to him and he would be here to answer.
Meanwhile, he needed to try to understand this lost world his truemate belonged to, before he could ask her to be a part of his own. The Stones and Mother Earth had explained much to him, but he still needed to experience things firsthand for himself. His father would be here soon. He would need Maya’s help.
His father would try to send him back. He would not go back. Could not. There was loose magick in the world. It had the scent of a dragon on it. A dragon where there should be no dragons, but wrong in some way he didn’t understand. Instinct warned the wrongness was powerful and dangerous.
The Earth magick wasn’t weak, as he’d been told. There was immense power here for those who could tap into it. His father would know what to do, but he would want Talon on Akgon until the danger past, and the girl child was of an age to be taken. Talon needed to be here in case of any threat to her. At least if he were here, he would know and be able to do something. On Akgon, he could do nothing to protect her. However, he must not be here when his father arrived. His sire and Dark Lord must not find him. If he could not find him, he could not send him home.
Maya felt a slight pressure on her hand and opened her eyes, to find herself staring into emerald fire. She wasn’t sure if she was really awake. The last few days felt like a dream. It all started with her dreams of a dragon, then finding the young man in the center of stones. Stones, that no one seemed to know anything about. Stones that glowed, black dragons with green eyes.
Ha ha ha. Don’t be afraid.
“Who’s there?”
Maya raised her head and looked behind her but there was no one there. She turned to look at the young man on the bed. He was awake. His eyes were open and glowing and he stared right at her.
Don’t be afraid, Maya. I won’t hurt you. I could never hurt you. Thank you for helping me. I remember now.
Maya blinked. She could hear him just fine. The only problem was his mouth wasn’t moving. Hers did. “What the hell!”
She jumped up overturning her chair as she backed away from him.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Greetings all,

If you just want to read some of my work, just keep scrolling down past this or go right to Dragon's Heart my fantasy romance or Chances Are my contemporary.

I haven't posted for awhile because I've been working on Dragon's Heart and something else for RICH the critique group I'm with. I'm happy to say that I've finished Dragon's Heart and am now in the process of editing it. I hope to be able to show it to at least one publishing house in January. So keep your fingers crossed. I'll up load chapter 3 for anyone interested just before Thanksgiving.

As far as the other story here, Chances Are, I put it on hold to finish DH, now that's done I will be working on it again along with another story I've been chewing on. I might post a little of that before Christmas.

So far I've got one completed full-length manuscript before a publisher and a short story before another one. So hopefully I'll finally have something published next year. I'm praying.

Anyway that's what's going on and I will try and provide more regular updates on my blog.

Do you remember the first time you saw snow, a sunset or the ocean? Remember that moment or one like it and may it carry you through your day.



Sunday, August 19, 2007

Chapter 2
Dragon's Heart
Story of the Brethren
LaVerne Thompson

“What was that? Did you see that?”

“See what?” his wife asked, craning her neck so she could look past her husband who sat at the window. “A bunch of clouds?”

“I’m not sure. It looked like something…something big, just blocked out the sun.”

“Well I don’t see anything. It was probably just a bird.”

“Not this high up and it was bigger than any bird I’d ever seen.”

The passenger in the window seat in section 14A on flight forty-seven bound for the United States from Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom hit the call button for a flight attendant. When she got there he didn’t know quite what to say to her. ‘I think I just saw a UFO,’ didn’t sound right. So instead he just asked for a straight gin and pulled the window shade down over his window. It was going to be a long flight.

Maya didn’t know why she pulled up her itinerary on her laptop and changed her flight arrangements, yet again. Instead of leaving today as she had originally planned, she would leave tomorrow night. What possessed her to make those changes and to spend the day hiking the Sperrin Mountains again, she hadn’t a clue. She just knew she had to get a look at those stones one last time. She felt as if she were on the verge of discovering something, what she didn’t know.

She followed the same trail she had taken less than a week ago. There was no map, but she had spoken to the guide again and he had given her specific instructions, she was sure she remembered the way. The hike the last time took about five hours for the entire trip, and that was because they went at the pace of the slowest person. Maya was in great shape and should make better time. Even though, she left late morning, she still had plenty of time to make it to the stones and back well before the sun set. But somehow she had gotten turned around. No one had warned her that a fog was going to roll in this afternoon or that it would hinder her sight of the almost non-existent trail.

“Come on Maya. Does that tree look familiar? Or is it familiar because you’ve walked past it three times already.” She was talking to herself again. But out here in the middle of nowhere there was no one who’d care. Maya stopped to take a drink of water from the hose attached to her backpack. When she looked up again she couldn’t believe what was in front of her. The fog was still thick but she could make out the outline of part of the perimeter of the circle of stones.

“Yipee!” she cried exhilarated. “I’ve found it again! The stones!”

No sooner had the words left Maya’s mouth when the fog cleared enough for her to notice an odd shape lay in the center of the stones.

Maya cautiously entered the circle and walked toward the shape on the ground. Whatever it was it wasn’t moving. As she got closer the shape took on the form of a person, curled into a fetal position, whose back was to her. She couldn’t tell if it was a male or a female. She could barely make out jean clad legs. The fog was still too thick for her to see the figure clearly. She moved closer until she could kneel over the person. As soon as she touched what she identified as an arm, she knew it was a male. There was muscle in the bicep. She rolled him over unto his back until she could see his face. She found herself gazing into the face of a sleeping golden angel just before the fog rolled back and swirled around his face, temporarily obscuring her view.

My God he’s just a boy, a teenager. She shook him gently. “Are you alright? Can you hear me? Are you hurt?”

She stopped speaking when she heard a soft moan.

“Oh my head,” a disembodied voice whimpered. “What…what happened?” The young man tried to sit up and slumped back down.

“Here take it easy,” Maya said. “Don’t try to get up yet. Don’t you know what happened?”

Maya sat back on her hunches, she still couldn’t see his face clearly anymore, but she could tell his head turned at the sound of her voice. “I…I don’t know, I…I’m not sure,” he said.

“Just relax. Give it a minute.”

“Oh…my head hurts.” The young man groaned again and held his hands to his head.

Before Maya could ask anymore questions he fell sideways and passed out, Maya couldn’t get him to wake up again. She put her backpack down and took out her cell phone. The glow from the phone showed her she had no service, she frowned in frustration. “Just great,” she said. “I spend all this money for a state-of-the-art cell phone, that’s supposed to provide satellite service so that you can be connected from anywhere in the world. Anywhere that is, but wherever you are, and need it most. This sucks!”

Maya looked down and realized the young man’s features were clearer. The fog was starting to lift but it was getting darker and the temperature was dropping in the mountains. She didn’t want to leave him; it was at least a two hour walk to the nearest house and help. But maybe she wouldn’t have to go that far. Maybe if she just walked around a little she’d be able to pick up a signal so she could call for help.

She walked around a couple of feet away from the young man but still no signal. She kept walking until she went beyond the standing stones; as soon as she did she got a signal and the call went through.

She put her phone in her pants pocket. The emergency people would be there as soon as they could. They would send a chopper in but the low laying fog might be a problem, they would have to walk their way into them. But Maya was a little taken aback when the operator said she’d never heard of the standing stones. She had to describe the area for her. Shouldn’t they have maps of the various hiking areas on the mountain? She was certain she dialed the emergency number for Sperrin County. She had programmed the number into her phone while on the first hike out here.

Maya gave the operator the name of the inn where she was staying and the name of her hiking guide. She tried to describe how to get there, the way her guide had done but that didn’t seem to be very helpful. Hopefully, they’d get a hold of her guide who can bring them to the right spot or they could call her cell and try to track her signal location that way.

Maya returned to the young man only to find that nothing had changed. She tried to wake him up again but he wouldn’t budge. She checked the pulse at the side of his neck and thought it beat strongly against her finger, at least confirming he’s alive. Next she checked his pockets for a wallet or any type of identification but they were all empty. She searched around the area for signs of a backpack or anything that could give her a clue as to who he was or what happened, but she could find nothing. The fog still rolling around the stones didn’t help visibility either.

She got up and walked around the circle of stones to see if she could find anything. She touched one of the stones. “Ouch! What the….” Maya couldn’t believe her eyes again. The stone was glowing and that was definitely an electric shock that she felt. This time she knew it wasn’t just dirt that she was looking at. The glow allowed her to clearly see the pattern of a dragon etched into the stone. “My God! What…what is that? A dragon? So I had seen a dragon before. But…but this is impossible. First it’s there then it’s not.”

A moan coming from behind her caused her to turn around in time to see the young man trying to sit up. She ran over to him. “Stay still. Don’t try to move. Help is on the way.”

He ignored her. He sat up and drew his legs up. “Oh my head...” He lowered his head until it almost touched his knees and brought his hands up to cradle his temples. It was then Maya noticed his hair. It was so long that when he leaned forward it cascaded past his shoulders until it completely covered his elbows. “What…what happened?” he stammered.

Momentarily lost for words, Maya kneeled down beside the young man. “I don’t know.” She almost lifted her hand to touch that waterfall of hair. “I found you unconscious here in the middle of the stones.”

“S…stones?” The young man lowered his arms and raised his head to look around him. The fog had rolled off a little more and Maya could see him clearly again. And oh wow! He was handsome, breathtakingly so. He must drive the young girls crazy. She could see that he did look like an angel, a sixteen or seventeen year old golden angel with all that long blond hair. And those eyes. They were eerily familiar. They were a lot like the eyes from her dream. They looked like emeralds and they were glowing. Wait a minute. They were glowing, like the stone. Maya’s head whipped around to look at the stone she had touched and sure enough it was still glowing. The eyes of the dragon appeared to be glowing emeralds, just like the eyes of the young man. Like the eyes of the dragon in her dream.

“Wh…what the hell is going on?” Maya looked back and forth between the teenager and the stone. She stood up abruptly and moved away from both the boy and the glowing stone.

The young man looked at her then looked at the stone. “I…I don’t know. I don’t know. Is it supposed to do that?”

“Hell no! Stones don’t just start glowing.” At least she didn’t think these kinds of stones did. “Who are you? What happened here?”

“I told you. I don’t know.” The young man became agitated. “I…I don’t remember.” He looked at her pleading with his eyes for her to help him, to help him understand.

Maya took a deep breath. Some instinct told her he would not harm her and he did appear to be genuinely confused. “Okay, okay calm down.” She said that for them both. “What’s your name?”

“I…I don’t know. Why don’t I know? I don’t remember anything.” He dropped his head down and placed his hands over his head. “What’s wrong with me?” He raised his head quickly and looked up at her. “Do you know what happened to me? Do you know who I am?”

Maya could read the turmoil in his weird gaze and felt sorry for him. She slowly returned to his side and kneeled down beside him. She was still a little wary of those glowing eyes of his. Maybe it was some kind of weird colored contacts.

“No. I’m sorry. I just found you laying here. My name’s Maya Trent. I’m just a tourist. Maybe you were in some sort of accident and you have temporary memory loss or something.” That seemed to be the most likely scenario. This was a small community. Surely, someone would know who the young man was, she hoped, even if he was a tourist. Which he could be, he had an American accent for sure. “Help should be here soon. Why don’t you just try to relax?” The young man reached out and grabbed her arm. When Maya tried to pull away he immediately released her arm. He didn’t hurt her, he had just startled her.

“I’m sorry. I meant no harm.”

“It’s okay.”

“Please, I’m just trying to understand. I don’t know why I can’t remember anything. I don’t know who I am. I don’t even know where I am.” He looked around at the stones and his gaze stopped and focused on the glowing dragon. “What’s that? It looks like some sort of dragon…dragon. That seems familiar to me. Aarrg!” The young man slumped forward again and grabbed his head. “The pain….”

Maya reached out and wrapped her arms around him. “Shhh, it’ll be alright. It’ll be alright. We’ll find out who you are.” At least Maya prayed they would, this was getting way beyond strange.

“Will you stay with me please, Maya? Will you stay with me until I remember?”

Maya looked into those eyes, eyes so like the dragon in her dream and knew she would stay with this young man until he was returned to where he belonged. For some reason she knew he didn’t belong here.

Maya found herself looking at the glowing stone again. Then she heard a sound in the distance.

She turned away from the stones and tried to see beyond the trees but the fog was thick there. “I think help has arrived. I think I hear a chopper but they may not be able to land near us. The fog’s still thick around the stones. They’ll have to find a clearing to land and walk in, but hopefully they’ll be here soon. I’m going to walk beyond the standing stones and see if I can reach them on my cell. I’ll be right back.”


“I won’t go far. You’ll still be able to see me.” Maya got up and walked towards the stones, it was then that she noticed the stone was no longer glowing. As she got nearer, she couldn’t even make out the etching of the dragon that had been on it moments ago. “What the…!” she exclaimed.

“What? What’s wrong?” the boy asked. “Is something wrong?”

“Th…the stone, the stone is no longer glowing.” Maya stepped back so he could see for himself.

As she looked over at him it was then she made another discovery. His eyes weren’t glowing anymore either. “Your eyes…they…they aren’t glowing either.”


“Your eyes. Your eyes were glowing like the stone. Who are you?” she finished on a whisper.

“I don’t understand. I….”

Maya shook her head. “It’s okay. We’ll get to the bottom of this. There must be some sort of explanation.” Either that or she was losing her mind.

“Why would my eyes glow? Why don’t I remember anything? Arrgh.” The boy shook his head sending hair flying in every direction. “This makes no sense. Why can’t I remember? I should be able to remember? What’s happening to me?” He tried to stand up and got as far as all fours. Maya rushed over to help him.

“Hey, hey, hey, take it easy,” she said helping him to stand. “Do you think you should be standing up?” Maya placed an arm around his waist and he looped his arm around her shoulder.
He turned to look at her and had to look down. At five eight Maya was no slouch, but this boy, young man was at least six feet and probably still growing. “I think I can stand. It’s only when I try to remember anything that my head hurts.”

“Well just take it easy. But I still think you should sit back down.”

“No, please. I want to see that stone. Can you help me over there?”


“Please. I feel like I need to see the stone.”

“Okay, but if you feel dizzy we stop.”


Maya helped him walk over to the stone. She was aware that he was trying not to put any weight on her, she just guided him. They stopped once they faced the stone that had been glowing and was now as dark and as ordinary looking as any piece of marble.

The boy raised the arm at his side and laid his palm against the stone. As soon as he did, all of the stones began to glow. Maya and the boy found themselves surrounded by light in a rainbow of colors. Maya could have sworn she heard a low hum coming from all directions then the boy’s body began to tremble. He threw his head back and roared. That’s the only way Maya could describe it, it wasn’t a scream but a guttural primal roar. The vibration of which burrowed into her soul. It was the sound of a wounded animal.

Scared, Maya dropped her arm from around his waist and stepped away from the boy, releasing his hold on her. As soon as she did, he fell to the ground, unconscious again and the light coming from the stones winked out as though they had never been.

Looking down on the boy who lay at her feet, Maya felt as if she was indeed losing her mind.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Finally, as promised, here's the legend and first chapter of a fantasy romance I've been working on, more fantasy than romance. Fantasy has always been my favorite genre. I hope you enjoy.

Story of the Brethren
LaVerne Thompson
Copyright 2006

From fire we’re born,
from fire we thrive,
from fire we breathe,
by fire we die.


Once, these majestic beasts soared through the heavens at will. Masters of the wind, rain, thunder and lightning. They were favored by Mother Earth and ruled over that domain, but that was before man embraced the coming of the one God and earth magicks began to disappear. Or so legend has it.

Once, dragons numbered in the hundreds of thousands but no hatchling has been born in a thousand years. Their number slowly dwindled.

Once, they were predators now they are prey. With their magic weakening, those that survived the purges knew they had to leave Mother Earth or die. And there was only one place that they could go.

They had to return to the lost land of their beginning. They had to open a gateway to another realm. Earth was merely one of many worlds that exist on parallel plains and those with the knowledge and the power could travel through gateways that connected them. But this was a great risk. No one was sure how to do such a thing or where they would end up if they succeeded. But memory said it could be done and they would try or die. Still, a few others decided to stay. This was home. To remain behind and survive they were willing to forgo their birthright, forever shed their dragon skin, drain what was left of their powers and become fully human. Fewer still simply wanted to die as dragons on this world. They were too old for change. Dragons had roamed these skies for ten thousand years. They could not imagine a sky without dragons in flight. They would not surrender this heritage. They refused to live as anything other than what they are on the planet of their birth.

Before the first of the sun's rays crested the eastern horizon, dragons gathered at their sacred place that was high in a remote, hard to get to, area in the Sperrin Mountains of Erin, an area that few humans had ever seen but every dragon knows. This was the place, a circle of power controlled by a ring of stones that had no name, where the first dragon appeared.

Those who would make the journey in search of the world from whence they began formed a circle around one dragon. The strongest amongst them stood in the center of the stones, his massive twelve foot frame dominating the area. Like the first dragon, he was a Dark Dragon Lord. He was as dark as deepest night, as the first Dragon Lord was remembered to have been. Unlike other dragons, whose scales shimmered with a spectrum of colors, his scaled massive form seemed to absorb light. No color whatsoever reflected off a hide that appeared to be as smooth as silk but was as impregnable as titanium.

His raised great head showed a spiked ridge which ran from the bridge of his nostrils over his head down the length of his body. Green slitted eyes—the only color on him—filled with emerald fire looked around at the dragons gathered just within the circle and outside it. He turned so that he could survey them all. There was no great number.

His father, their leader, was dead, killed by treachery, and his queen dead, avenging him but not before she destroyed the one who killed her mate. Young for a dragon, he was their son and leader now. He was Dark Lord. But there were so few of them left to lead, so many were dead and their magick weak. Which was why he could wait no longer, he was mated last night. Joined to the strongest female amongst them, she was a mate who could call forth his powers.

The Dark Lord turned and looked at the slightly smaller Golden Dragon at his side. The realization of what he had done fractured his heart. And the pain was one he would have to endure for the rest of his life. The Golden Dragon was now his mate for life, but not by choice, not by choice. That was the sacrifice he made for the brethren. She had at least unlocked part of his powers. He hoped it would be enough. He would make sure of it.

Together, those gathered channeled all of their power to him, in the hope of helping him open a gate to the beginning world. It had never been done in the time of any living dragon and dragons were long-lived with boundless memories. There had been no need, but it had been done in the long ago past. It was need that drove them to attempt it now. The memories in their blood, passed down to them from the first ancestors, promised it could be done. The memories were of the first dragons, the forebearers, the ones who came from that other place. A place not of this earth, not of this world.

All dragons carried a homing instinct. On earth it was used as navigation. Now the Dark Lord and his remaining brethren used it as it was meant to be used, to return to their realm of origin. They dug deep within themselves, to that part of their souls that bound them to a past left behind. It was so long ago, that no dragon living remembered this place, yet no living dragon could forget its existence.

It was time to go home. They wanted to go back to their beginnings. Home, to the birthplace of fire, home to the birthplace of the heart of the dragon. They had to return home to survive. The time of dragons on earth was over.

As the sun lay high in the sky, directly above the Dark Dragon Lord appeared a swirling gray cloudy mass. They had done it. They had created a portal. One by one the dragons flew through and disappeared within the gray cloud. The Dark Lord had to maintain the portal; he was the only one strong enough to do so. He had to hold it open till all who wanted to go were through. He would be the last, closing the opening forever behind him. Before he turned to go he sent a mental plea to his brethren who watched from the ridge.

‘Come with us. It is not too late.’

The response was a unanimous no and a wish for a good journey. The Dark Dragon Lord had no choice. Even his great strength could not hold the gate open much longer. ‘Then I wish you speed beyond the wind.’ This was goodbye. With a heavy heart for those left behind, for the life they left behind, he raised his wings and followed his remaining brethren through the gate. A bright flash of silver lightning appeared as he crossed through the gate and the swirling cloud folded in on itself closing the gateway behind him, leaving a faint scent of smoke upon the air.

Those who had chosen to stay behind had little time for regret. It was much too late for that. Even with their combined strength it would not equal that of a Dragon Lord, and rarer still was the Dark Dragon. Only one such had been born in the last two thousand years.

Those who chose to become human shed their dragon skin for the last time. With the sun hovering above the other horizon the day was ending, tomorrow would be a new beginning. They changed as they turned, walking away from the stones on human legs, using the last of their magic to get down the mountain. A few others spread their iridescent wings and took to the heavens, one more time. For a short time, for the last time, there were dragons in the sky until those too were gone.

Gone to die.

Those who chose life joined with humans and never passed down the secret to their offspring of their heritage, of their dragon ancestry.

The dragon blood lay dormant even those with great promise were never taught. These brethren now lived human lives, with human life spans. They had given up their magic. Finally, all who remained to teach their offspring, to show them the way of the dragon passed from this life. And while the blood was passed from generation to generation, weak in some, strong in others, it did not stir. There was no one left to call to it. Dragons became a thing of myth and legend.
The dragon blood waits…it sleeps…
Dragons are known for their patience.


"Oh no! Not again." Maya rolled over and buried her face in her pillow. "Urrgh!"

For the third night in a row she'd had the same dream. Dragons! Well one dragon, a black dragon with emeralds for eyes. For the hundredth time she thought, why did she have to take that tour of the dragon stones? It had sounded so exciting when the hiking guide told her and a few other people about it. It wasn’t on the listed hiking tours of the Sperrin Mountains.

The truth was the hike itself was quite amazing. The stones were magnificent. According to the guide, they were not as tall as Stonehenge, about half the size of those stones but older and all preserved in a perfect circle. But these stones had been polished by the elements until they not only looked like marble, but were just as smooth. The guide didn’t know how they had gotten there or who put them there. He told some local blarney to the group about druids and harvest, most of which Maya had ignored. She was too busy rubbing one of the stones; and she got an electric shock for her efforts. She could have sworn there was an etching of a dragon on it. The guide assured her it was just some dirt, and nothing was carved on the stones. Even if they were called the dragon stones, no one knew why. It’s strange that she had never heard of these standing stones before. But no one had warned her, that, for days after a visit there she'd be having nightmares about a dragon.

Oh why didn't she just go to Paris on her vacation like she'd originally planned? She had no idea what possessed her in the first place to come to Ireland. Her grandfather on her mother’s side was Scottish not Irish and the rest of the family was of African descent. She should have gone to Africa or Scotland. No, she should have gone to Paris. Maybe it wasn't too late. She still had eight days of her vacation left; she could still go to Paris.

That's it! That's what she needed, a change of scenery. All this green, the land of leprechauns, dragons and fairy princesses, was making her daffy. She already had enough problems to deal with. She didn't need any more restless nights because of bad dreams. Her conscious mind had enough going on to keep her awake at night. She didn’t need her sub-conscious interrupting her when she did get to sleep. Feeling better after making up her mind to cut her trip to Ireland short, she went back to sleep.

The shrill ringing of her telephone jarred her awake. "This had better be important," she said groggily into the receiver. Funny, she could see emerald eyes in that still place between sleep and wake. She realized someone was speaking but couldn't seem to focus her mind away from those mesmerizing eyes.

"Hello. Who is this? What did you say?"

A voice she hadn't expected to hear for at least another couple of weeks spoke into her ear. "I'm sorry hon, but I missed you so I took a chance."

"Justin? Is that you? I thought we agreed that you would wait for me to call you."

"I know. But I just missed you so much. I couldn't help myself. Do you miss me? I could be on the next plane out."

Maya felt like she was still dreaming. This trip was to give her time to think and to put a little, well alright a lot of distance between herself and Justin. She knew that for the past three years everyone expected her and Justin to get married, the truth was they never really got past the dating friends stage. Their relationship was simply convenient for her. When he finally asked her to marry him she couldn't say yes, she had to face the truth about her feelings for him.

At first she blamed it on the death of her beloved grandmother. She couldn't think about marriage so soon after Nana's death. It had only been six months since she stood by her grandmother’s graveside. The woman who helped raised her. Who meant as much to her as her mother did. She needed to get away by herself for awhile. Take a much needed break from running the marketing firm that her grandmother had started over ten years ago at the age of seventy.

Nana was never one to let a little thing like age slow her down. That took a drunk driver. Before her Nana died, she swam every morning, wore a perfect size six and had no major health problems. But for a harsh quirk of fate or a shortage of angels in heaven Nana would still be alive.

Maya had to forcus her attention back on Justin. "I'm sorry Justin. I didn’t sleep well. And no you can't join me. I'm not sure where I'll be." "What do you mean you're not sure where you'll be?" Justin asked with the slightest hint of desperation in his voice.

"Just what I said. I've had it with the Emerald Isle. As soon as I can get an internet connection I’ll be making arrangements to leave. Don't expect me back home until the tenth."

"What? But where are you going? How will I be able to get in touch with you?"

"I'm sorry Justin. This is just something that I feel I have to do. I need this time for myself. I don’t know who I am anymore."

"You are my future wife, that’s who you are."

"No Justin. I’m not your future anything. I never told you I’d marry you. I need to figure myself out."

"I don't understand you."

The truth was at twenty eight she didn't understand herself. She took pity on Justin, he cared about her, even loved her. She just wasn’t sure that he was in love with her or her with him. Friendship and convenience were no longer enough.

"Listen, if you need me, just send me an e-mail. I have my laptop with me and I'll check in with you after I get settled." Before he could voice any further protest, Maya said goodbye and hung up the phone.

She reminded herself to call her parents after she got up to let them know of her change of plans. If she didn’t, she knew Justin would call them and upset them needlessly. Ever since Nana died everyone had been worried about her. They had been so close. Her parents kept waiting for her to do something rash. Like take this trip alone to Europe. The trip she was supposed to have taken with her grandmother.

"We have no choice. I am sorry Majesties. I have done the scurrying an unprecedented three times and I have confirmation from my sister seers. If the dragon brethren are to survive we must renew the blood. Talon must go back."

"No," the Dark Lord growled at his trusted advisor. Anyone else would have backed down at that sound, but the chief advisor held his ground. "This makes no sense. I will not have it. I will not accept this."

The Lady Sierran placed a golden claw on her mate’s dark scaled shoulder.

"Draakar we have no choice. Valour speaks true and you know this."

Three dragons stood in the open arena that was the heart of the palace, surrounded by the sacred circle of standing stones. This was a circle of power. The runes cast within, were cast true.

Draakar, the Dark Dragon Lord spread his wings, a wingspan as long as a six foot man and so thick and dark they appeared to be black velvet. The air around him vibrated from the draft. He raised his mighty head. With a roar that emerged from the depths of his soul, he bellowed out his rage. Crimson fire stretched towards a purple heaven. There was no one in the land who did not hear the cry of pain and rage that issued from the depths of their Lord's throat, and none who did not share in his pain. Five thousand dragons answered with roars of their own and crimson, green, gold, and blue fires lit the skies.

"I did not open that gate over a thousand years ago to condemn my only son to death," Draakar, the Dark Dragon Lord roared.

A dragon, with scales that glittered golden, stepped within the circle and faced his sire. He was the image of his mother but not as large as his father, the Dark Dragon Lord.

"Sire…Father. I must go. I am ready. I will survive. With your help, I will do what I know I was born to do."

The great dragon looked into eyes of emerald fire that matched his own. "Oh my son, would that it were not so. Do you really understand what is being asked of you?"

"Yes father I do. I must relinquish my birthright; but only until I return, and I will return. But father by the claw of the First Dragon Lord, I will find my mate. I must. We all know that she is not here. She is one of the Forgotten Ones. One left on earth."

The Lady Sierran rubbed her head against her son’s shoulder. "Ah, Talon. We know that you must go. But it is so hard for us. Your father’s power is waning. The power that sustains our life force here is tied to his and is also weakening. We do not quite understand why. But, you must mate in order for you to come into your full powers and become the Dragon Lord you were meant to be."

"Ah," Valour spoke up. "No majesties, not just mate. He must find his truemate. I am convinced that she is the key to his powers."

Valour left unsaid what they were all thinking. Only with a true mating could Talon hope to produce a Dark Dragon Lord. "We must restore the balance of this world. Too late we have come to understand why this world was abandoned to begin with. The power of a Dark Dragon Lord is required to sustain it. The temperature of this dimension fluctuates between extreme cold and extreme heat. While we can survive in a form of hibernation in extreme cold, we dragons need heat. But there must be a balance because too much heat is also our weakness. "

Talon scoffed, "too much heat means death. From fire we’re born but by fire we die." Some of the old memories were starting to make sense. Akgon was a land of fire and ice, and the temperature throughout the land was changing.

The dragons were weakening along with Draarkar. The periods of extreme temperatures were getting longer and more intense. In time dragons would start dying. They were long-lived, but most of the dragons were old, older than Sierran and Draakar. Old even for dragons. And while dragons had been born in the thousand years since Draarkar opened the gate to Akgon, the home world, they still only numbered a few thousand. Not the hundreds of thousands that they should have been. Talon was one of the last born, at four hundred years he was young for a dragon and he was also one among a small number only willing to mate with their truemates.

Sierran looked at Draakar and then quickly away. Sierran and Draakar did have an inkling why his powers were waning. It was because she was not his truemate. Although they were joined and Talon was their offspring, their mating had been done from necessity.

The only reason they were able to maintain the illusion that they were truemates is because they both had great power. Only Valour knew the truth, he had realized long ago, but no one else knew, not even their son that they were not truemates. Sierran suspected she would now pay the price for forcing Draakar’s hand so many eons ago. But it was still worth it. While they may not have been truemates she did love him and she knew he loved her. Not at first, but he had come to love her and he loved their son.

But she had to face the truth. It was because she was not his truemate that she could not help him sustain his powers, she could only enhance it, and not for much longer. Her life force, her power was being drained fastest of all. But she told Draakar none of those things. She, as always, kept her own counsel.

At first both Sierran and Draakar thought to convince Talon to take one of the stronger females as his mate, a gold or a bronze. It was what his father had done. But Talon would have none of it. He wanted his truemate or he would have none at all. Not even for his people would he sacrifice his mate.

He had always known that she was not of their world. He had simply been waiting for her to be born, for her life force to grow strong enough for him to be able to find her. For a short while now from time to time he could sense her, but only for brief moments. Like a passing caress across his heart whenever he catches just the right wind current.

He needed to be ready when it was time to claim her and it may take time for him to find her. Talon knew he needed to go to Terra now to begin his search for his mate and once he found her they could return to Akgon together. He had no doubt that he would find her and she would come back with him.

Resigned, Draakar turned to his son. He was proud of him. He was willing to do what Draakar had not done so long ago. Draakar had known that once he stepped through the gate on earth he had left his truemate behind. He sacrificed them both. But the Brethren needed him. Unfortunately for the dragons, he realized too late, they would also need her.

"I am not even sure we have enough strength amongst us to reopen the gate," Draakar said.

"I have faith in you father," Talon said. "I will help. All of Akgon will help. And when I cross over I will change."

"Yes," Valour agreed. "You will not be able to hold your dragon form for long on Terra. You will revert to human, but you will still be stronger than most humans and you will have some powers."

"Do you know how much of his dragon powers he will retain?" Talon’s mother asked.

"I’m not sure," Valour replied. "I suspect earth magick has changed, but he should still be able to wield it and once he is joined he will come into his full strength and his mate should be able to help sustain him."

"But will it be enough?" Draakar asked.

"It must be," Talon replied.

"It required thousands of dragons to help me open the portal the first time."

"Yes," Talon said, "but once opened you were able to hold it on your own."

"Just barely," Draakar said.

"But that was to get us all through and then yourself also," Valour said. "This will be easier, the energy output required would be less and there might be others there who maybe able to help Talon reopen the gate."

"But I thought the dragon magick had been purged from Terra?" Sierran said.

"Not really," Valour said. "The dragon bloodline is still there. Talon will have to find a way to tap into it."

"How, Val?" Talon asked.

"Blood will call to blood," Valour replied. "But not all will answer. And not all will be able to be trained. Next to your father, you will be the most powerful dragon ever born and your son has the potential to be even stronger than your father. But any son you have must be born here. If he is born on earth his powers will be lessened."

"What if he has a daughter?" Draakar asked.

"You know Dragon Lords only have sons, Highness."

"But the blood has been changed on earth. The earth magick had been tampered with when the brethren drained theirs into it. What if the change affects the gender of the child? What if he has a female child?"

"The prophesy says the child of the Dragon Lord will be the next Dark Dragon. The prophesy speaks of Talon, he is the heir. Only males can hold the power of a dark dragon, his son will be a Dark Dragon. That is why we are risking opening the gate. Only a Dark Lord can save us and rebalance the magicks of our realm."

"You are right Valour."

"It will take time and the strength and the will of all the brethren to hold the balance until another Dark Lord can come into his own. A mated Talon will allow us that time. He and his truemate would provide the necessary strength."
Draakar’s sigh was long and painful, the knowledge that Valour was right burned in his heart. "I know. Call the dragons to the circle. If I must do this thing I will do it now."

"Majesty, I think all already know your decision. Look."

Valour as usual was correct. Draakar looked to the sky and as far as he could see dragons were in flight headed towards them. He looked over at his mate. While it was true, she was not his truemate, he did love her she had given him his beloved son. Whom he must now send back to Terra. She nodded her head to him to show her support. She didn’t know that he knew what this was going to cost her. He knew she was weakening and opening the gate would sap most of her remaining strength.

He looked at his son. He hoped the love and pride he felt for him shone through his eyes. But still he said the words. "I am proud of you and I love you. This is your time. As it was mine to lead the dragons through the portal, it is your destiny to return. But come back to us. Return to your mother and me."

"Fear not father. I will do what must be done."

Valour stepped from the center of the circle of stones to stand with the other dragons that began to form an even larger circle around their Dark Dragon Lord, his mate and his heir. As one, as many of them had done, so long ago, they channeled the power of the brethren to their Dark Lord who harnessed it and opened the gate for his only son.

A hint of smoke was carried on the air, while above the head of the golden male dragon a swirling gray cloud appeared. Without glancing at his parents, who stood behind him, he spread his wings and in one great sweep of air flew through the cloud.

As blood red tears fell from his eyes, Draakar watched the gray cloud fold in on itself and disappear. He looked down to see the tears solidify and turn to two rubies that lay on the tiles, and his mate Sierran in a crumpled heap at his feet. He bent down and gently lifted her within his great forearms.

"Do not fret mate mine," she said. "I’m not dead yet. I just need to rest."

Draakar flew to one of the more comfortable regions of the realm and set down with his mate beside a waterfall surrounded by pink crystal rocks. He carried her beneath the fall and allowed the healing water to bathe her. Slowly, Sierran’s scales lost their dull sheen and began to glow again, after awhile she was able to stand on her own. But they both knew that it was only a matter of time for her. She would not live to see many more risings.

"For the last time beloved." Sierran changed to her human form. Golden scales shimmered and blurred until a perfectly shaped naked human woman form appeared.

Draakar watched her change and changed too. Where once stood a Dark Dragon there now stood a man. He gathered the woman to him; her golden tresses draped over his arms as he kissed her. It was the kiss of peace.

"I release you," Sierran said. "Your truemate is also one of the forgotten ones, the ones left behind. I know that you have to go too."

"I made my choice long ago," Draakar stated. "I cannot leave you."

"You don’t, it is I who leave you. I am sorry that I was not the one. But she is out there and you must find her. Go to her and watch over our son."
I love you."

"Then you must do this for me, for the brethren and for yourself. You have suffered enough. You have never come into your true strength. With it we would not be in this predicament. I love you. Take me to the air Draakar let me feel the wind on my face."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Note--I changed one of the characters name's VanTrop is now Newington.
Chances Are
by LaVerne Thompson
Copyrighted 2006

Chapter 4

Kayla leaned against her front door for a moment after Tal left. What the hell was that! she thought. What the hell have I done! She raised one hand and passed it over her face. “I must’ve been out of my friggin mind,” she said to her living room.

She heard one of the stairs creak and looked up. Her sister stood poised on the steps. “Is he gone?” Nessa asked.


“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to intrude, but I had forgotten some paperwork on the counter that I need.”

“It’s okay. How much did you see or hear?”

Nessa beamed. “Enough.”

Kayla covered her face with both lands and Nessa could hear the sound of laughter seeping through her fingers. “Well I’ve gotten myself in a fine dilemma. Oh, Nessa what am I going to do?” Kayla looked at her sister hoping she’d have an answer.

Nessa grabbed the papers she’d come down for staring at her older sister, she smiled. “I’m not sure there’s much you can do. Like he said, it’s more than obvious that you’re attracted to him and he sure as hell is attracted to you.”

“But for crying out loud he’s my boss,” Kayla shouted.

“Yes he is. Look I’m not saying that isn’t an issue. I’ve seen plenty of office romances that didn’t work out but I’ve also seen a few that do.”

“Yes, but not with the boss.” Kayla proceeded to tell Nessa about her first encounter with Tal Reynolds. When she was finished Nessa inhaled sharply.

“Wow!” Nessa exclaimed. “You have had quite a day. But seems to me the attraction started before he even knew who you were or you him. Just because he’s your boss won’t make him less attractive or any less attracted to you. He seems like he’s willing to try to get to know you. You have to ask yourself will if it be better for you to step back or step forward and see where this leads?”

“I…I just don’t know. I’m not sure what the right thing to do is.”

“You have never been a quitter in your life. If there is something between you two even if it’s just friendship, you owe it to yourself to find out what it is. Besides you might not even be working closely with him, you might only have to see him once in awhile.”

Kayla hadn’t considered that possibility. She knew that the bank’s main headquarters was in Crystal City, Virginia housed over at least ten floors. They might be on entirely different floors; maybe just maybe this could work. She’d have to find out more about her position tomorrow and find out just how much day to day contact she’d have with Tal. One part of her was glad that she might have the opportunity to get to know him better; the other part wanted her to run like crazy in the opposite direction.

The phone rang just as she was turning off her light and climbing into bed.

“Hello,” Kayla said into the transmitter end of her phone.

“Hi, it’s me.”

Kayla could never forget the sound of this man’s voice. No man ever caused bumps to raise and cover her skin the way this man did. Some imp made her not acknowledge she knew who it was.

“Me who?” she asked.

“It’s me, Tal. But I think you already knew that.”

“You are not the only person who calls me.”

“I was just thinking about you. Actually, I haven’t stopped thinking about you since I first saw you this morning. I wanted to let you know that I’m looking forward to spending more time with you tomorrow. In fact, I want to spend as much time as possible with you all week.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow too. But I thought I didn’t have to come into the bank till next week?”

“This isn’t about work at all and you know it. This is about you and me getting to know each other better.”

“Can we? Can we really do that and still work together?”

“I don’t see why not. I’m willing to try if you are. I promise when we are working together I won’t try to take advantage of you.”

“You’d better not. That would be sexual harassment.”

“Only if it weren’t reciprocated, so you are free to take advantage of me all you want, anytime. But don’t worry, I promise I’ll try to behave at the office. It won’t be easy but I do want this to work. I felt something today that I’ve never felt before and I’d like to see where it will take me, take us.”

Kayla gave an unladylike snort. “You don’t really expect me to believe that?”

“It’s true whether you choose to believe it or not. So the rest of the week I want to put aside time for just us. Are you game?”

“What happens next week when I start working for you?”

“You start working for Reynolds Banks, you don’t work for me but with me. And like I said before, after work, is a different story.”

“Oh, and what story would that be?”

“Are you game enough to find out?”
Kayla was silent.

“Hello,” Tal said, “are you still there?”

“Yes, I’m here. Let’s just take it slow. We’ll start with lunch tomorrow.”

“It’s a date and by the way, we’ve already started. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Tal heard the soft click in his ear as Kayla hung up the phone. He felt like a teenager with his first crush and not the grown up, very experienced male he was. Still, he couldn’t wait until tomorrow.

Tal was running late, he had already called to let her know. Kayla still wasn’t sure if she was doing the right thing when her doorbell rang. She looked through her window and saw Tal’s Jag in the driveway.

“Hi,” she said opening the door. The words hadn’t even left her mouth before she was crushed against black leather and her mouth was locked in a mutual suck feast with another’s.

Tal was the first to need to come up for air. “Hi,” he said while rubbing his thumb along her bottom lip. “Mmm—I’ve been thinking about that all night.” He leaned down and kissed her again. Only this time the kiss was softer, tender. “I’m sorry I’m late. Are you ready?”

When Kayla could only nod, Tal grinned. This time she leaned in towards him and locked her mouth around his. Tal groaned.
Kayla pushed herself away from him and smiled. “Now I’m ready.”

Tal opened his eyes, looking slightly dazed. “Huh?”

It was Kayla’s turn to grin. She had made the right decision. It was nice to know that she had the same effect on him that he had on her. “We have a lunch date, remember.”

Tal quickly recovered and pulled her back into his arms. “How about we get take out and eat in, literally.”

Understanding his innuendo Kayla moved out of his embrace. “Oh no, you don’t! You promised to feed me, and there are a few things that we need to talk about.”

“Oh don’t worry, I can feed you just fine right here and we can talk later.”
“Nah ah, you’re not getting out of this, besides I have to go pick up my car.”

Tal smiled holding up his hands in mock surrender. “Okay we’ll go out. And the only reason is because I have to get back to the bank this afternoon. So if we’re going then we better go now and I’ll tell you about what happened at the bank this morning.”

The couple walking into the crowded restaurant was oblivious to the stares that followed after them. They made a stunning couple. Both tall and statuesque, his lightness made for a striking contrast to her dark beauty. Many a man envied him the woman at his side and many a woman wanted to shove her out of the way so she could get a crack at him.

Kayla sat down continuing the conversation that had started in the car. “I can’t believe he did that!”

“Neither could I. He changed your access codes and his own codes, completely locking us out of some of the larger private accounts at the bank.”

“How could he do that? I thought he was just a human resources guy, not a computer tech.”

“It turns out Newington does have a computer technical background. He helped to write some of the very codes that the bank uses, all of when he was eighteen. The sonofabitch was able to circumvent the security system for the bank, completely bypassing all the checks and balances in place because he put them there to begin with.”

“But that’s all still unbelievable. How come he wasn’t in the technical section?”

“He worked for a computer company back then. It just happens this company wrote bank codes, amongst other things. Near as we can figure, from the file his last employer sent us, he stopped working there at twenty. Newington went back to school for a masters in human resources, which just took him a year to get, then he got a job in the HR department of a small bank, and ended up here two years ago. He conveniently omitted part of his work history for us, the part about his designing our codes or even working for the company that did, but it was in his file from his last employer who faxed the information over to us. I was on the phone with them just before I left the bank. He was an average employee, no negative marks from them but while he’s been at this bank he has not been one of the more favorite employees. In fact there had been numerous complaints about him from the staff. Even without the merger he would have probably been fired.”

“Wow!” Kayla replied raising her eyebrows. “I had no idea. I still don’t understand what he hoped to accomplish by locking you out of some accounts. Surely all of the larger accounts are constantly monitored by the account holders, so they would have notified the bank immediately if there was a problem?”

“That’s the beauty of it. He chose personal accounts that are almost exclusively handled electronically and not closely monitored. He stayed away from corporate accounts.”

Kayla nodded in understanding. “That make’s sense because they’re monitored more frequently. The minute he touched any of those accounts red flags would have gone off from the account holders ends.”

“Exactly, personal account holders usually don’t have the safeguards the corporate accounts do because of the volume of transactions.”

“But I don’t understand, the account holder can still just check the account on-line, surely they’d notice any discrepancies?”

“Normally yes, but remember we’re dealing with the person who designed the safeguards. If an account was checked on-line, the information the account holders accessed was what they expected to see but it wasn’t accurate. It’s not what was really in the account. We’re still trying to figure things out. My tech people have been working all morning on breaking his codes and accessing the frozen accounts. As far as we can tell, he set it up so any withdrawals that come in, as far as the account holder is concerned, are seemingly honored, but the electronic transfers are not getting to the party doing the withdrawing. The transaction is either considered received and on hold or not responded to from our end and any deposits made aren’t going to the account holder’s account. Both are being re-routed to another account.”

Tal paused and shook his head. “Newington must be some kinda genius. A crooked genius but still a genius. This has all the markings of something that took a lot of advanced planning maybe even as far back as when he first designed the codes. He must have left himself some sort of back door.”

“Have we been able to identify all of the affected accounts?”

“We’re pretty sure we’ve caught them all. While we can’t access them yet, neither can he now. No more transactions are being allowed to those accounts. Thankfully these aren’t very active accounts. We’ve rerouted them and given the account holders a line of credit until we can sort it all out. We are having each transaction approved by the account holders before we release any funds. But Newington had direct access to them for hours yesterday, so who knows how much money he was able to electronically transfer before we shut him down.”

“But he could have been at this all night long.”

“No. From what we could tell it required the use of one of the computers physically located at the bank. But that still left him with plenty of time to access over ten accounts.”

“My God! What a mess. With that kind of access he could have stolen millions.”

“Exactly, and so far his link has been impossible to trace, we need to unfreeze the accounts. We’ve contacted the company that he used to work for, the same company who designed the system and they’re sending someone over later this afternoon along with the FBI, which is why I have to get back sooner than I’d planned.”

“Of course! Sounds like you have your work cut out for you. It’s okay if you want to cancel lunch. I can get something to go then pick my car up.”

“No. Absolutely not. I want to spend as much time with you as possible, even if it’s only for an hour.”

“Alright, I’ll just order a chicken salad.” Kayla liked the fact that he still wanted to have lunch with her, that in the middle of a crisis he still had time for her and treated her with enough respect to discuss the problems at the bank. Maybe he was worth getting to know. She had already decided to take the rest of the week and try to get to know him a little. Hopefully, by the time she started work again next week she’d be surer of her feelings and of him.

“Would you like me to go back to the office with you?” Kayla couldn’t believe she’d just offered to do that. “Maybe I can help.”

“Thanks, not that I wouldn’t love to have you around, but it’s really not necessary. I’m even superfluous right now. I’ve personally contacted the account holders involved and we’ve done all that we can do. But I do have to be there when the programmer and the FBI arrive. Besides, I promised you the rest of the week off and I’m a man of my word.”

In spite of Tal’s dire news Kayla still enjoyed lunch. She had more insight into Tal’s character and so far, she liked what she saw both on the inside and out. After lunch Tal dropped her at her mechanic’s. As she was driving home she realized she had completely forgotten to ask him about some of the specifics of her job, would she be working directly with him? No harm done, she’d ask him later. She still couldn’t believe that she’d agreed to see him after work. He said he’d call her to let her know about what time she should expect him, he would take her to a late dinner. She knew he was moving fast. But she read somewhere once that, it takes a minute to find a special person and an hour to appreciate them. It was more than twenty-four hours for her and he was already special.

Tal returned to the bank to find the owner and founder of Computer Tec, Zachary North already there. Newington used to work for Computer Tec.
The two men shook hands silently sizing each other up, literally. Tal thought Zach, that’s what he told him to call him, was younger than he expected. At least a few years younger than his thirty-eight, but then again most people found Tal to be younger than expected. Both he and Zach headed up major companies and physically they were about the same height and built. And this guy was as far from the typical nerd as you could get, for one thing he didn’t wear the trademark glasses. Although, he did wear his blond hair long and pulled back in a ponytail and he wore jeans with a long sleeve Polo shirt that had no pocket.
Zach had gotten up from the computer consul to shake Tal’s hand, but sat down again to continue working.

“Well Tal,” Zach said, “so far from what I can tell this is something that Newington planned a long time ago. There’s code in the original programming that shouldn’t be there. It’s going to take me awhile but I’m sure I’ll be able to break it and unfreeze the accounts.”

“That’s great news. Once we unfreeze them then we can trace them.”

“Yes, but you realize that the money will no longer be wherever he first transferred it to. Enough time has passed that he will have been able to cover his electronic tracks, he’s that good.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

“The guy is brilliant but he had a definite attitude problem. Not that programmers, like myself haven’t been known to be idiosyncratic. But this guy was even too weird for us, which is why we had to let him go. But the good news is I can guess where the funds will end up, so instead of tracking him we can go directly to the end point and see if we can back track from there.”

Tal had a thoughtful frown on his face. “Can you do that?”

“Sure!” Zach replied with confidence.

“Where do you think the money will end up?”

“I think I can answer that,” a voice said from the doorway.
Two pair of eyes raised above the computer at the sound of the feminine voice.

A woman stood poised in the doorway; before either man could say anything she pulled out a wallet flipping it open to display her badge.
She was short, some would even say petite. She looked just like a miniature doll, all big blue eyes and short bobbed blond hair.

“Talbert Reynolds,” she said, watching Tal with a speculative gleam in her eyes. “I’m Marla Patrosky. I’ve been assigned to this case.” She nodded her head in the direction of the programmer. “Zach.”
Zach returned his eyes to the computer screen, “Hi Marla, I see you got my email.” Tal looked at them both. “Ah…I guess you two know each other.”

Marla’s answer was flippant and final. “In another life. But that’s not why I’m here. And yes, I received your email. As I was saying Zach thinks the money’s either going to end up in Switzerland or the Caymans. My money’s on the Caymans.”

“That’s the first place I’m going to look,” Zach replied. “Ah hah! Bingo! Got ya!” Zach finally looked up from the computer screen, with a look of such glee on his face that Tal couldn’t help but grin back at him.

“Did you trace the account?”

“No, I just unlocked the code to free them. I’ll let your people know they can start checking to see how much was moved, just a little while longer and I’ll be able to figure out if my hunch is right as to where the money’s been moved to.”

“Meanwhile,” Marla said, “do you mind if I ask you a few questions, Mr. Reynolds? I’ve already got this guys profile and an APB is out on him, but I’ve got a few questions.”

“Of course, let’s go to the office next door and leave Zach to work in peace.”

“Until he’s got that puzzle figured out,” she said, “he’s not even going to know we’re here.”

“I heard that remark,” Zach said before becoming absorbed in the universal language of computer codes known and comprehended by a few.

Marla rolled her eyes as she followed Tal to the office next door. “As you can tell we’ve worked together before. Anyway, here’s what we know so far.” Marla proceeded to recap all of what Tal already knew and he told her that.

“So what’s your question?” he asked.

“We don’t think he was working alone.”

A surprised Tal exclaimed, “What! I don’t understand.”

“He had to get the information about the accounts from someone. Even if he was able to override the security systems in place, he had to understand banking enough to be able to fool the system. He had to have known which accounts to monitor, which ones to freeze without setting off immediate alarms. He wasn’t working blindly on random accounts. He had to know in advance which accounts were venerable, how to set it up so it looked like transactions were being placed in the accounts that they should have gone to. I just don’t see how a guy that worked in the HR department would know that much about specific banking accounts.”

“But he had access to the banks database, and someone like him would have been able to get through the firewalls without help from anyone.”

“Maybe, except the accounts hit would have been more random and originated from more than one bank location, instead they were accounts that had all been specifically set up from this location.”

“Well he’s been with the company for two years, but as far as I know the first time he’s ever been in this bank was yesterday, and then only for a few hours before I fired him.”

“That’s my point exactly. He had to have had help from someone at this location. Someone familiar with the accounts.”

“What! Sonofabitch!”

“I understand that he got into the system through the branch manager’s computer?”

“He wouldn’t have had to hack into it. He fired her this morning, along with the assistant manager, so he would have had complete access to all of their files as well as a way into the system.”

“I’ll need to speak to both of them.”

“Why? I’m sure neither woman had anything to do with this. I don’t think they even knew the guy. Whatever he did he did after he got rid of them.”

“Maybe. Right now I’m just trying to get a clearer picture.”

“Of course. And you should know that, while the assistant manager was slotted to be fired, the branch manager, Kayla Michaels wasn’t. She’s now on leave for the rest of the week. In a couple of weeks she starts a new job at the corporate location as VP of the branch managers of Northern Virginia.”

“Interesting. I am assuming you can still get a hold of both of them?”


“Good, I’ll need that information ASAP and I’ll try to check them out today either before or after I leave here. I also need to talk to all of the other employees who work here. I’ll start interviewing the one’s here right now and try to call the others. Is there an office where I can speak to them privately, that I can use?”

“You can use this one.”

“I’ll also need their personnel files.”

“Unfortunately, those files are still in paper form here and they are already in my office. My company just signed all of the final papers for ownership of this bank a week ago, so yesterday was my first visit here. I’ve been reviewing the records on file for this bank’s personnel, trying to determine who we can continue to use and who has to be let go.”

“Tough job.”

“Yes it is. So if you don’t mind I’ll have my secretary Mrs. Medcalf, make copies for you.”

“That’s fine. How long will it take?”

“There aren’t that many employees here so it shouldn’t take long. I’ll be right back.” Tal returned to his office and grabbed all of the employee files at this branch, including Kayla’s. He asked Mrs. Medcalf to run off copies for Agent Patrosky and give them to her in the assistant manager’s office.

Tal was returning to the agent when she walked into the hall. “My secretary’s running copies off right now, it’ll take a few minutes. She’ll bring them to you as soon as she’s done.”

“Fine, I’d prefer to have the files in front of me while I’m talking to the employees. But maybe if you can get me the telephone numbers of the manager and her assistant, I can call them and speak to them right now.”
Tal went back to Mrs. Medcalf and got the assistant manager’s home number, and wrote it on a piece of paper for the agent, he pulled his cell out and brought up Kayla’s home number, it was programmed into his phone. He went back to the office and handed the sheet with both numbers to the agent.

“Thank you. Is it alright if I use this phone?” she asked.

“Sure, just dial 9. If you need anything I’m right down the hall in the employee lounge. I’m going to check on Zach and see how he’s doing.”
As Tal turned away he thought about calling Kayla and telling her about what was going on, but there wasn’t anything that she could do anyway. He already knew she had nothing to do with Newington. He stepped into his office to find Zach still hunched over Kayla’s computer screen.

“Any luck?” Tal asked.

“Huh? Oh, it’s you. Yes and no.” Zach got up and stretched. “Is there any coffee around here?”

“Yes. Turn right it’s at the end of the hall.”

“I’ll grab a cup and be right back. Do you want me to bring you some?”

“Thanks, but no. I’m fine.”

“Okay, be right back.”

Tal looked at the computer screen to see what Zach was doing, but it all looked like gibberish to him. He was always amazed that there were people out there who actually understood this. He looked up when he saw his secretary pause in the doorway.

“I’ve finished the copies Mr. Talbert.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Metcalf. Just give them to Agent Patrosky. Oh, and please let everyone know that she will call them in one at the time. Just for routine questioning.

He rubbed his hands across his face. If anyone had told him two days ago, that he would meet a woman who was like something from a dream come to life and his bank would be robbed by an employee all on the same day, he would have laughed his ass off. Now, who’s got the last laugh!