Amethyst 1: Amethyst Bound
By L. Shannon
Released: June 7, 2010
Formats Available: HTML, Adobe PDF,
MobiPocket, Microsoft Reader
All Toni wanted was to steal the artifacts, get paid and then spend some time relaxing on a beach somewhere. She wasn't planning on being bound to the spirit of a dragon, or becoming part of the prophecy predicting the end of the world...
Toni Giovanni is a thief although prefers to call it the high-risk recovery business. Her current job feels suspiciously easy until a mysterious artifact draws her into an ancient prophecy and binds her soul to a spirited dragon named Amethyst.
But Toni isn’t quite ready to be taken over by a dragon, even if Amethyst’s appetite for sexy archaeologist Dr. Ben Davis mirrors Toni’s own. And she’s got a big problem on her hands: turns out the prophecy predicts that dragons will end the world and there are many more dragons out there.
“It is well written with depth and details. ”
April A. Renn| 3 reviewers made a similar statement
Be the wall. Be the stone. Be invisible. I chanted the mantra silently as the temple guards strolled past. Frank, a heavyset older man, was no more than three feet away, yet he wouldn’t see me. I called it blending, but whatever the skill was or however I came to have it, the ability to become nearly invisible had saved my ass hundreds of times. More important, it allowed me to be a damn good thief, maybe the best in the world.
The skill and the reputation I’d earned with it had brought me here, to hiding in a small hole carved into a wall of dirt that had swallowed this long-buried temple. After more than eight hours I was stiff and tired and dreaming of a Big Mac. Despite my nonviolent nature, I’d
seriously consider killing for those all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese… Even the thought of that juicy burger had me drooling, and since I couldn’t reach my chin without drawing attention to my hiding spot, dreaming of burgers proved to be a bit of a problem.
On days like this, I almost regretted my personal rules. Number one on my list of codes to follow was If I accept a job, do anything it takes to get it done. I was well known for my tenacity. Once I sank my teeth into a job, I owned it. The trick was making good choices about which
offers were worthy of my interest. Fortunately, this particular job was more than a little worthy.
Okay, two million American bucks for a simple recovery was a very worthy reason—worthy enough to be suspicious.
Weaver, the mysterious guy who’d hired me, had the money to throw away and so here I was, trapped for another hour. The final stage of the recovery would take place after the temple emptied for the evening. Soon. Very soon, I could snag the goods and hit the road.
Only one archaeologist remained. Davis, aka Dr. Benjamin Davis, seemed to be packing up, and my recon had shown that the overly studious man sometimes had to be dragged out by his colleagues. He’d provided me with much-needed entertainment during the last few hours of stillness.
Davis was scrumptious in a super-geek sort of way, and he didn’t have even a single clue why all the lady rock docs hovered at his elbows. His wavy brown hair tickled his shoulders, and his tanned complexion set off his gray eyes so nicely. Not to mention the man had an ass
that just didn’t quit.
Davis raised his arms over his head as if to stretch the aches from abused back muscles. His broad shoulders tightened the T-shirt and left me drooling for a whole different kind of meat. How long had it been since I’d taken time off for some carnal enjoyment? Davis’s long,
lean body would make for a wonderful playground. I could rub those sore muscles until they relaxed completely. And then—
He spun in my direction.
I froze. Had he caught me watching? I’d been ogling him all day. I held my breath as his gaze skittered over my hiding place. I was no more than ten feet from him. Would he see me?
No, no one ever saw me.
And why was that thought disappointing? For the first time in a long time, I wanted to be seen.
I’d been hiding since childhood—first from the abusive bastard who’d been my father and then stealing just to survive on the streets. All I’d ever wanted was to be invisible. But the look in Davis’s eyes drew me like a magnet. Despite my past and all its hard lessons, I wanted
Davis to see me, see the real me.
I mentally snorted in self-disgust. No one saw the real me. Was I the runaway or the master thief? Was I the elegant woman in red or the one cracking the safe? Or was I none of those? After all the lies and pretending, did I even have a real side?
I locked up my wayward thoughts and threw away the key. Shit, this was the problem with a stakeout like this. It gave me too damn much time to think.
The good doctor hadn’t seen me, and he wouldn’t until I wanted him to. Much as I might enjoy watching him, this job, like most, played out on a one-way street. I wasn’t about to blow my cover just so he might ogle me back. Teeth buried in the job, I’d take what was targeted and get out. I’d done it hundreds of times, never been caught or seen and rarely left any sign I’d been there at all, except for the missing items on the few occasions when I couldn’t leave a replica.
Davis turned back to a small container he’d been packing The man was covered in fine dust from his long day of work, but he carefully cleaned each of his tools and placed them into his immaculate case. His large hands were fascinating, mesmerizing. Each smooth movement
was ritualistic. It was a familiar ceremony, one I’d watched him perform just the night before.
I understood and respected his need to protect and care for personal, professional tools. I did the same with my weapons and liberation accessories. The similarity made us seem closer, more alike than moments before.
He settled the case inside a canvas bag, gathered up his hat and strolled out of the room, switching off the primary lights as he left.
Just a little bit longer…
I waited another twenty minutes before dropping from my protective crevice. Frank and his partner would be through in another half hour. Security was pretty lax, and this time it would cost them. Moving quickly through the excavation site, I searched for the artifacts I’d been sent
for. Several priceless objects were scattered about the room, but what I’d come for was one of the lesser-known prizes. Only one of the archaeologists had paid it any attention. Davis, of course. It was just another interest we had in common.
The hours of observation paid off and I claimed the small box within minutes.
The wood of the six-inch-square box was ancient but still strong and beautifully carved with intricate symbols, glyphs of some ancient writing. But it was still a box, and the true treasure would be found within its sealed frame. I carried the treasure back to my hole and took out my lock pick set. Hopefully it would be of some use in opening the box. Only after confirming what it held could I make my escape.
First I studied the lock and the hinges. They gave away no clues as to the best technique to open it. Then I had to hide while the guards passed.
Once I was alone again, I slipped the first pick into the tiny opening in the front, feeling for whatever mechanism kept the box closed. A soft click, which I was fairly certain I hadn’t caused, reached my ears. The artifact opened, revealing several beautiful jeweled pendants, as
I’d hoped. Each was designed to frame a unique, delicate dragon in different jeweled tones. I counted them and began to close the lid once more.
The amethyst dragon pendant caught my gaze and held me transfixed.
It was magnificent. An oval of black encircled a dragon inlaid with purple stone. I picked up the pendant, breaking every personal code I held dear, and caressed the smooth, cool gem. Without a single coherent thought, I dropped the fine chain over my head, letting the warm stone of the pendant settle between my breasts.
As dreams went, this one was a doozie. I was flying over the land but not in some common airplane. No, I was flying like a bird. The wind carried me, gentle as an infant’s cradle and as wild as the storm-tossed sea. My arms were stretched wide and they kept me aloft with
great sweeps. No, not arms…wings. I had wings. I looked to my right and saw a long glittering wing in a familiar amethyst shade.
I should remember that color from somewhere other than my shiny scales. I should, but I couldn’t grasp the slippery memory.
So I flew on, letting the ground rush beneath my glistening body like water in a riverbed. And like that river, I seemed be to be following an invisible trail to some unknown source. I looked down and saw my shadow cutting over the land. My long, serpentine outline promised desolation to all those below. Then there were other shadows. More of the giants flew beside me, all seeking the source.
And there he stood. Not a place, but a man, and even as I watched, he transformed into a great silver beast and swept up into the sky, breathing fire down upon the land. He set the pace, and we others followed.
We flew and left nothing but devastation in our wake.
I awoke tucked inside my hidden crevice, swallowing a gasp. Shit! Night had fallen away and the workers were back in the temple. I was safely hidden in my little hole, but how long would I stay that way once they discovered the missing artifacts?
How had I fallen asleep? I was never so reckless. Never. I felt the weight of the pendant and slowly clasped the offending jewel. I needed to get it and the box into the small bag I had strapped at my waist. And then I needed to get my ass out of Dodge, or Tiahuanaco, where this oldest temple had been discovered.
The pendant was warm to the touch, as if it had soaked up my body heat, and after hours of being tucked securely between my breasts it wasn’t much of a surprise. But what was a surprise was how it seemed to be glued to my skin. No matter how I pried at it, the pendant remained stuck to me.
Damn. Now what? I slid my fingers around the edges in the hope I could pull it free, and all I found was a perfect oval seal, holding it tight.
But there had been no glue. Surely I would have felt it before, and I hadn’t. All I’d felt was the cool amethyst and the texture of the dragon. That must have been what inspired the strange dream. What else besides glue could bind the thing to my skin?
My mind whispered one word. Magic.
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