Excerpt: The Dragon of Sedona | Author Genevieve Jack

Excerpt: The Dragon of Sedona

The Dragon of Sedona, The Treasure of Paragon Book 4, is coming March 24th! Alexander’s story is finally told! Scroll down for details and to read an excerpt.

Darkness he can’t forget. Light he’s afraid to remember. Magic that could change everything.

Exiled dragon prince Alexander never recovered from the murder of his mate Maiara, an indigenous healer he met over three centuries ago. Every waking breath is a painful reminder of what he lost, his grief compounded by the constant presence of her immortal red-tailed hawk, bound to him since her death.

When three of his siblings arrive with news that he may be in grave danger, he secretly welcomes the possibility of a violent end to his torment. But as the four reminisce about how they came to know Maiara in the New World, they begin to see her life and death from a new perspective.

For the first time, the source of Maiara’s power is revealed and inspires a new but precarious hope. There may be a way for Alexander to be with her again, but his second chance for a happily ever after is risky at best, and at worst, could cost him the only thing he has left.

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October 1699

Appalachian forest, North America

“Run, Maiara, run!” Her father shoved her along the path, tugging their horse’s reins behind him. The weary beast could move no faster, laden down as she was with pelts and supplies. Prickling fear raised the hair on Maiara’s nape, and she desperately tried to incite the animal to move, joining her father in his efforts, but the mare dug in her hooves. The headstrong beast won the battle of wills. 

Maiara’s moccasins slipped on the slick mud, flinging her to the forest floor. She broke her fall with her bare hands, the earthy scent of decaying leaves filling her nose. Above them, her hawk circled, the bird’s shrill screams a warning as their pursuer closed in. Crushing pain throbbed within her rib cage, more from her pounding heart than from the fall. 

She couldn’t think about the pain. Not now. With a single-minded focus, Maiara scrambled to her feet and clutched her father’s arm. “Leave her!” She pried the reins from his hands despite his protests.

An arrow whizzed past her ear and lodged in the tree behind her. Her father’s blue eyes widened over his ruddy cheeks. Finally he saw reason. Abandoning the mare, he grasped for her hand. His was large, burly and pale. Hers was small, dark and smooth. There was comfort in that hand. Trust. He’d saved her life before. 

“Run,” he commanded. She did.

They wove among the trees, the monster haunting the edge of her vision. At first, the thing appeared to be a man, in the image of a warrior from the Mohawk tribe, bald except for a roach of black hair decorated with porcupine quills, bones, and feathers. War paint striped his cheeks. Despite the bracing chill, he wore only his breechcloth and a pendent, an orb the size of a human eye that winked at her as it pulsed a soft blue light at the base of his throat. 

The monster may have looked like a man, but if what followed Maiara and her father had ever been human, he was no longer. Now, he was a wendigo, a demon sent from the netherworld to rid this land of her kind, a relentless shadow, disappearing when the sun was high only to stretch toward her again. He would not rest until every one of her people was dead. The blue wink of the stone around his neck turned her blood to ice. Whatever that was, it was unnatural, perhaps a remnant of the evil curse that had made him.

Another arrow flew and she ducked, narrowly avoiding its barb. The wendigo stopped at the place their mare blocked the path and roared. Its eyes glowed as red as burning coals, and its mouth opened wide enough to swallow her entire head. All illusion of its humanity melted with that bone-chilling roar. 

Now the mare moved, tried to gallop away, but the wendigo snared its haunches with a set of razor-sharp claws that sprang from its hands. In a flurry of flashing teeth, the hell-spawn tore through the pony, ignoring its equine shrieks. Blood sprayed. Maiara pressed her hand to her mouth as the scent of death reached her, and her stomach threatened to spill its contents. She averted her eyes, but the crunch of bones echoed through the woods long after the horse’s squeals abated.

Maiara strained to put more space between them and the demon. She gripped her father’s arm tighter and forced him forward. They both knew the meal wouldn’t be enough for the wendigo. The savage beast had an insatiable appetite. 

“You must protect yourself.” Her father stumbled. He could not keep up with the pace of their run. She used every muscle in her diminutive frame to help him to his feet. “It’s the only way.” He was pleading with her now as if she were a petulant child.

Another arrow, another roar. As she’d feared, the creature had already resumed its hunt. It would never quit. Never stop. Not until Maiara was dead.

“Now, Maiara. Go!”

The demon’s gaping maw drooled only yards behind them. Her father’s gray hair was slick with sweat. Through a throat raw from panting she rasped, “No! Try harder.”

His feet gained purchase and they were off again. “How did it find us?” he muttered more to himself than to her. They were fools to think the wendigo wouldn’t pursue them, not after everything. He stopped short, clawed at his chest as if it hurt. “Maiara! You must leave me.” 

“I won’t,” she screamed, shaking her head. She would not abandon her last living family.

“You have no choice.” He squeezed her hand again. Her father had raised her. Her father had saved her. He’d always been wise, and now the truth in his gaze cut straight to her heart. “Don’t let your mother’s death be in vain.”

Above them, her hawk cried out another warning, this one sharper than the last. She heard the bowstring snap, the whoosh of the arrow. Her father’s eyes widened and, in a final burst of speed, he shifted in front of her. The arrow, meant for her, landed in his back. He collapsed against her. Her scream was silenced by a sharp bite of pain. The tip of the arrow that had passed through her father’s body pierced her chest. 

Trembling, she thrust with all her might, tearing the arrowhead from her flesh and allowing her father’s dying body to fall from her arms. A sob caught in her throat.

“Go,” he whispered. His eyes turned unblinking toward the heavens. 

Too late now. Too late. She raced down the path, breathless, thighs burning. Blood from the wound in her chest blossomed like a rose on the front of her deerskin tunic. The wendigo closed in at alarming speed.

She had no choice and no reason now to stay behind. At a full run, she scanned the trees, extending her arms. Desperate prayers to the Great Spirit tumbled from her lips. With a last glance toward her faithful hawk above, she did what she had to do. 

She escaped.

Continue an extended excerpt here: https://www.genevievejack.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/The-Dragon-of-Sedona-Print-1.pdf

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