DRAGON (Book #9)
“He is Dragon...He breathes.”
After the nightmare in Dubai, Allie and Revik are on the run, dragging the remains of their army to stay ahead of Shadow. Revik knows they can’t run forever, and comes up with a plan...a plan that might mean sacrificing himself to keep his family alive.
Meanwhile, Allie returns to America to hunt Shadow’s network, working with the remnants of the human government to forge a cross-race alliance. Knowing that Menlim might kill her husband, that her own leadership team has been infiltrated...as has the presidency of the United States...Allie fights to stop the remaining world powers from being manipulated into nuclear war.
Then Dragon appears, another broken intermediary with unbelievable power. He might just be the most dangerous seer Allie’s ever encountered…including her husband, who Dragon seems determined to hunt for reasons of his own.
*Warning: this book contains graphic language, sex, and violence. Mature readers only. Not intended for young readers.*
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IT WAS REVIK’S IDEA..
Most of the truly crazy plans we came up with were. The ones that required us to turn ourselves inside-out, to maybe tear some part of our souls apart in the process.
But desperate times call for desperate measures, as the saying goes.
These were desperate times.
Moreover, my husband might be a romantic at heart, but when it came to military ops, his brain was in charge. His brain was a cold-hearted bastard pragmatist, through and through. He’d warned me about that part of him back when I first met him.
Of course, he’d often accused me of the same.
And really, we both agreed to this. We both added our own enhancements, our own thoughts, our own details to the overall plan. We both agreed we needed to do something drastic, something that the other side wouldn’t be expecting.
Both of us agreed to risk sacrificing what we had now, to reach that end.
I told myself all those things again now, like I had been for the last ten months.
I told myself those things as I fought to control my heart rate, sprawled on grainy sand in a ripped up silk gown covered in smoke and powder burns, panting, sand stuck to my face, sand in my mouth and fingernails and hair. I could see trash littered across the edge of the river, including around where I lay.
I felt the screaming flare of injuries on different parts of my body––burns, cuts, scrapes. At least one bullet that found its mark with my lack of armor. I hadn’t scanned yet to check, but I was pretty sure the metal passed through.
I knew that wouldn’t matter, either.
I was already dead.
I had only to wait out the finale.
I lay there, fighting the exhaustion that penetrated my bones, my mind, my very soul. I told myself this had been Revik’s idea, that the plan had been his––that it wasn’t my fault.
None of it felt very convincing.
And anyway, in the end, the fault had been mine. At the decisive moment, it had been me to pull the trigger––or not pull the trigger, as the case may be.
I’d let him down. I’d really let him down… all of them, really.
The humans too.
Maybe the humans more than anyone.
I turned my head, looking reluctantly up at the sky.
Mostly, I think I was in shock.
That shock worsened as I stared at the reddish clouds of smoke on the horizon.
I’m not even sure that shock was really about my own life. I’d known from the beginning I probably wouldn’t make it out of this. Revik and I talked about that, too, once upon a time––about how neither of us really believed we’d make it to the other side.
We only hoped enough others would make it that it would all feel worthwhile.
Jon. Wreg. Lily. Gods above––Lily.
Our daughter, Lily, who was the real reason we decided on this insane path.
All of our friends, our loved ones, those who had followed us to hell and back. Gaos, even Kali and her crazy cult, especially if they could help keep the List humans and seers alive.
But me and Revik? Yeah, I had my doubts.
So did he.
The thought came with regret, sure. I wanted to live.
I wanted to drink cappuccinos and go swimming. I wanted to watch Lily grow up. I wanted to be married––really married––and have a lot of long, leisurely mornings in bed with my husband and cappuccinos where I could watch Revik do things while he was naked. Anything, really. I still had a fantasy about a house somewhere, on the beach or in the woods.
Revik and I without the military gear on, without anything more pressing on our minds than whose turn it was to take Lily to school, and what we should have for dinner, and whether we should put on clothes or go swimming or stay in bed and fuck a few more times before we ate.
But yeah, it was a fantasy.
I guess that was the point.
My eyes focused on the columns of smoke I could still see in the distance. I didn’t really let myself take it in, though. I couldn’t go there yet. Not yet.
I couldn’t think about the lives back there, or what the ripple effects would be. I couldn’t think about the people. I really, really couldn’t think about the people.
I couldn’t think about Revik.
Even so, tears ran down my face, hot and sticky in the dirty sand as I looked up at that sunset- and fire-drenched sky. I couldn’t even look for him in the Barrier to get that final answer.
Or to tell him how sorry I was. About the last eight months.
About all of it.
I couldn’t open my light, not now, or it would all be for nothing. I had to get to Lily first. I had to set her free before I joined Revik––wherever he was now. I thought maybe I could tie her to Kali’s light, and Uye’s. Give them a second chance to try and be good parents.
Dalejem would help them. So would Balidor.
So would Maygar.
So would Jon and Wreg.
At least then maybe Lily could have a real life one day––an adolescence and an adulthood and adventures of her own––even if Revik and I weren’t there to be a part of them.
Thinking about that, about how Revik looked the only time I saw him in those eight months since he’d left me in Bangkok, something finally penetrated my mind beyond that crippling shock. Pain ripped off my light, cutting through me like a sword.
Like a fucking sword… which I guess is pretty apt.
When it did, I finally looked away from that blood-covered sky.
I screamed and screamed, but none of it came close to releasing me.
The pain only worsened, even as I clenched my fists in the coarse sand, fighting the images out of my head, the look on his face the last time I’d seen him.
I love you, he’d murmured, in those few seconds we’d had. I’d felt jealousy on him too, but that fierceness of love, it heated my whole body, wiping out the rest. I’d do it for you again, Allie. All of it. I swear I would. I’d do anything for you. No regrets. None. Okay?
I nodded like I had then, gasping into the sand.
I was out of breath. Out of screams.
But Revik wasn’t there anymore. He was a ghost.
Gone, like the rest.
We knew it might come to this, he’d said, pulling my hand and arm closer to his chest, closer to his heart. We knew. Both of us. You can’t blame yourself. You can’t, Allie.
I nodded to that, too.
But he was wrong.
I could. Of course I could.
And whatever mental gymnastics I or Balidor or any of the others tried to play around this, whatever story we told ourselves about how we got to this point, none of it took away from the reality of what just happened.
None of it took away what I’d done.
My worst nightmares had finally come to pass. I’d seen the demon at the helm, looked them square in the face. I finally knew who the real villain was in this story.
It was me.
After all this time, it turned out those crazy Mythers were right.
That dark angel of death, the bringer of the end…
It really was me.