"Zoe is a wonderful heroine--smart, strong and sympathetic. Bring on book two!"
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Zoë Sorensson is perfectly normal – well, as normal as a girl with an obsession with drawing dragons can be. The thing is that she’s always been told she’s special and destined for great things. It’s not just because of her good grades, either. Zoë’s the Wyvern, the one female dragon shapeshifter with special powers. But Zoë is at the bottom of the class when it comes to being Pyr and her powers are AWOL. Worse, there’s no reference book to consult and the last Wyvern is dead…
Everything changes when Zoë’s best friend is bullied and Zoë reacts. Before she can blink twice, her inner dragon is loose, she’s suspended from school and headed to a boot camp for the Pyr guys she’s known all her life. But soon she’s doubting her powers—and even some of her friendships.
Zoë quickly realizes that she has to master her powers yesterday - the Pyr are in danger and boot camp is a trap. The Mages want to eliminate all shifters and the Pyr are next in line—unless Zoë and her friends can solve the riddle, work together and save their own kind…
I hate the showers almost as much as gym class itself but Suzanne’s expression had me dreading it. Everyone crams in the tiled space together, checking each other out, comparing bra cup sizes. That’s bad enough, without Suzanne looking to get even. Meagan and I stuck together instinctively.
“Gonna need a bra anytime soon, Sorensson?” Trish sneered at me when I pulled off my shirt.
“At least mine won’t be sagging before I’m thirty.” Like I knew anything about it. My mom gave me that comeback. She’s a teacher and knows how girls are.
“Hurry up, girls.” Coach O’Connor made her ritual stroll past the shower area.
“Jameson will be blind by the time she’s thirty,” Suzanne mocked.
It was a cue and I saw it too late.
“She’s blind now.” Yvonne, one of Suzanne’s pack of cool girls, snatched Meagan’s glasses off her face.
“Hey!” Meagan protested.
She was defenseless and we all knew it.
Yvonne tossed the glasses across the shower room to Suzanne, who put them on and made a face. The lenses made her eyes look small and beady. “Seriously defective eyeballs.” She pulled off the glasses, then tossed them in the air. “Oops!”
Suzanne snatched them out of the air in the nick of time, laughing. Her followers gathered closer, Yvonne and Anna and Trish. All the other girls stepped back, avoiding the confrontation as they showered quickly and disappeared.
Meagan had found the wall and was feeling her way toward Suzanne with a determination I’d seen before. “Give me my g-g-g-glasses back, please.”
“G-g-g-glasses,” Trish mimicked. That made me mad. It wasn’t as if they were perfect.
“Puh-leeeeeeeeeeese,” Yvonne said.
“Or what?” Suzanne taunted. She leaned closer to Meagan. “Whatcha going to do to me, four-eyes? You can’t even find me.” She backed away suddenly as Meagan snatched in the direction of her voice, and they all giggled when Meagan missed. Meagan flushed but she kept after Suzanne.
“Give them back to her,” I said, knowing they’d turn on me.
They did. “You gonna make me, Sorensson?” Suzanne spun the glasses by the ear wire as she taunted me. She pivoted to face me, bouncing a bit on the balls of her feet.
Ready to fight.
Confident that she could win. But she wasn’t bargaining on anger. I was mad enough to take her dare.
Maybe mad enough to win.
“You can only win if you don’t fight fair,” I challenged and saw her surprise. “Give her the glasses.”
“So, you want to fight, Sorensson?” Suzanne took a step toward me. Her team laughed and circled behind me.
Meagan took advantage of their distraction. She lunged for Suzanne, but Trish body-checked her. Meagan slipped on the wet tiles. She slammed her back into the wall and caught her breath, blinking rapidly. I knew that had hurt.
And I saw red.
A shimmering heat began to boil inside of me, feeding on my anger and becoming stronger. I knew what it was, what it had to be, even though I’d never felt it before.
If I’d been thinking, I would have shoved it back in its jar.
I wasn’t thinking: I was mad.
“As if you could take me,” Suzanne whispered to me. Her eyes were dancing. She was so sure she’d win.
For once, I didn’t step back. For once, I didn’t back away. For once, I was ready to challenge expectations.
The red tide of fury seethed and I let it.
“Maybe I will take you.” I took a step closer, noting how her gaze flicked. I had a new sense of power. Dangerous power. “Maybe you’ll be surprised.”
“Oh, I’m so scared!” Suzanne said in a falsetto and her team giggled.
“Leave it, Zoë.” Meagan had the resolve that got her perfect scores on math tests, every time. “I’ll g-g-g-get them myself.”
Suzanne pitched her voice higher. “Oh, so brave! Come on and g-g-g-get your glasses all by yourself then. Look! Here they are!” She waved them in front of Meagan, who lunged toward the shiny lure.
I knew what would happen right before it did.
“No!” I shouted and snatched for Meagan. Yvonne was faster. Trish blocked me with an elbow in my ribs. Yvonne hooked Meagan’s ankle with one foot, jerking it hard.
Meagan fell quickly, cracking her jaw on the tile floor.
She didn’t move.
And there was blood running toward the drain.
I was right there beside her, on my hands and knees.
“All those expensive toothies getting smashed,” Suzanne said in her fake baby talk. “But I thought she was the smart one.”
“Meagan?” I put my hand on her shoulder. I felt her shaking.
“I’m okay,” she whispered, but I knew better.
She wasn’t okay.
And it was Suzanne’s fault.
I felt the strange crimson strength growing inside me. I knew it was my dragon finally awakening, but I didn’t imagine for a minute that it would take shape.
And let’s be honest - if I had, I wouldn’t have cared.
“Better make your shot next time, Jameson,” Suzanne hissed. “I don’t like losing.” She tossed Meagan’s glasses carelessly toward her, probably hoping they’d break when they hit the tiles.
I snatched them out of the air, surprising both of us by how quickly I moved.
“Bitch!” I snarled. I had Suzanne cornered in a heartbeat, moving faster than I ever had before. It shocked both of us. I thought I was just finally mad enough, but soon learned different.
Because when I raised my hand to slap her, I saw that my thumbnail had become a talon.
A long sharp white claw.
A dragon talon.
Holy frick. It was finally happening...
©2011 Deborah A. Cooke
2006 - 2012 Deborah A. Cooke