Illiana’s ominous dreams demand she returns to her beloved forest. A sleeping force has awoken in the mountain she must investigate. Freeing Daruk, a dragon shifter, from the bowels of the volcano, he offers to give her and her mates a ride back to the forest.

Christopher has defended his forest against the vultures and lions who stole his home. He longs for Illiana’s homecoming and keeps hope alive for his pack and the raven flock.

Illiana joins forces with Christopher to drive the intruders from her home. Only a looming menace threatens to pull her apart from the inside and the outside. Together, they will face their troubles even if it means their lives.



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Excerpt from "Awakening the Beast"

The lava receded more to reveal a narrow ridge that led into another passageway. Illiana slipped into the other cavern. The fire opal emitted a light of its own so that she could see. At the end of the passageway, she saw a large reptile, a beast, she had never seen before. It was tightly wound together in the cave. It was a large stone taller than her and sat on its tail. She studied the sides of the cave and discovered another entrance to the cave that had collapsed. A large puff of air blasted over her and a low growl grumbled next her. Illiana froze when she heard that and turned to the origin of the grumble only to realize an enormous purple eye was staring at her. A gasp of surprise left her lips and she jumped back. Another snarl left the beast that shook the mountain. Large jaws opened next to her showing off pointed, sharp teeth. Another blast of rancid air hit her and turned her stomach, but she stood her ground. Its lips curled back from those teeth and it sounded as though it said something. Illiana walked around him and tried to climb over something before she realized it was his foot. He moved it slightly and blocked her way. The creature growled something again and she stopped when he lifted his head. Illiana slowly knelt before the large animal wondering what kind of creature he truly was. The fire elemental said he was human, but how could an animal of this size shrink down to human form?

She placed fire opal before the beast. “I’m here to help you.”

Laughter filled the cavern as the animal before her hissed in amusement.

“Glad you find that funny. The fire elemental said if I showed you the opal you’d know that I’m telling the truth.”

“What is the truth? Truth is what got me here.”

He could speak in his bestial form, but she pondered what he looked like. “I don’t know what brought you here or how long you’ve been here.” She placed her hand on his paw and instantly was rocked with the shock of pain that made her cringe and wrench her hand away. The boulders had crushed part of his back foot and some of his tail. If there was any way of getting him out of there, first she had to convince the earth it needed to move. Then she had to see if she could heal him. She had an enormous task ahead of her.

“I can help you, but you’re going to have to trust me.”

“A naked, insolent woman who comes to the beast. I should eat you. Do you know who I am?”

She shrugged. “I don’t really care who you are. I said I’d help you so when this mountain erupts—”

“Volcano. It’s called a volcano.”

“Okay, v-vo-volcano.” The unfamiliar word rolled off her tongue. “Before the volcano erupts, if you want to get out of here, let me help you.”

“If you can move tons of rock, be my guest.”

Illiana squeezed herself between the cave wall and the giant beast in the small passage. She came to the largest rock and saw it was doing the most damage. If she could get it to move, Illiana could free him. She placed her hand on the large stone and touched the element inside it.

“What do you want?” the stone grumbled.

It was the most direct answer she had ever gotten from earth before. “Could you move off my friend?”

“Why should I? I was perfectly happy being part of the mountain until I fell onto him. Now I’m settled.”

“You won’t be settled much longer when the fire elemental rushes in here and the pressure forces you out of the mountain to be shattered into little bits. Why not move now and take the chance to remain whole?”

The boulder was silent while Illiana grew hotter by the second. When she didn’t think it would move, it finally swayed back and forth until it rolled off the beast. The reptile roared that the whole mount shook, showering bits of rubble around her. One landed on the top of her foot, hard. Pain radiated up her leg and she knew something was broken, but she stayed focused. “You could’ve warned me before you did that.”

“Sorry,” she muttered. “The fire elemental insinuated you were a shifter, so could you shift back please? It’ll help me to heal you and expend less energy.”

“Demanding, aren’t you?”

“If you want to get out of here, you’ll stop with the attitude and help me out.”

“I’m a prince among my people. I don’t take orders from servants.”

She used the wall to hold her up and made her way back around to face him. Illiana counted to three, feeling the fire element ignite inside of her because of his arrogance. Her anger fueled her inner tempest. Now was not a good time to lose control. “I don’t care if you were the king of your people. Shift or not. Stay when the volcano blows. I have other things to do.”

“And yet you come here.”

“I heard singing. This melody has been in my dreams. I thought it was the fire spirit, but he said it was you.”

“Impossible.”

“I’m an elemental healer. I can control and talk to the nature spirits. So if you want my help, stop being a pompous ass.”

“Fine.”

The beast shrank until what lay before her was a man taller than any she had seen before and well-muscled. At first she thought it was a trick of the light, his flesh was the same color as his scales, midnight black. His amethyst eyes held her captive for a moment until she regained her composure.

“Whoa,” she uttered. He was a magnificent specimen. Now he was back in his human form, she could see the extent of his injuries. His left leg was crushed. A bone protruded from his flesh right below his knee. She sank down next to his leg and ignored the pain she felt. Illiana placed her hands on his skin. Once the fire element in her flared into her hands and connected with him, he hissed in a breath.

“Damn you. You know where it hurts.”

 

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