Snow and Red Dragon Shifters’ Hoard book 1 – Sneak Preview

It’s so exciting to finally launch Snow and Red.

Snow and Red is based on a little known fairy tale of Snow White and Rose Red, one of my favourite fairy tales. Two sisters who befriended a bear (who is a secretly an enchanted prince). Three times, they unwittingly help the dwarf who enchanted him, then accidentally break the spell, freeing the prince to be himself. I’m fond of it because the girls are free spirits whose kindness and generosity wins out in the end.

We’re often asked how closely Snow and Red fits the original fairy tale. Our story has twin dragon shifters who are enchanted, two sisters who befriend them and accidentally help the being who enchanted the twins three times, and yes, the spell does get broken. However, our story takes place in our time and not in a forest… but the underworld of a city… you can ENJOY A SNEAK PREVIEW HERE

But first, download Draki Twins, the free prequel.

Free Prequel - Dragon Shifters' Hoard - Draki twins.

Your Sneak Preview – Snow and Red

Dragon Shifters Hoard - Snow and Red Eileen Mueller A J Ponder

Night Out

Red shimmied into her green velvet top and tugged it down over her dark skinny jeans. “Snow, what do you think?” she called.

Her sister sauntered though Red’s doorway in her silver sequined tank, black miniskirt and sparkly stiletto sandals. Snow raised an eyebrow. Her cool gaze roamed the room. “A mess as usual.”

Red rolled her eyes. “I don’t mean my room, Ice Queen.” She jabbed her thumbs at her top. “This.”

“I know, just teasing.” Snow grinned. “What should I say? Hot. With you dressed like that, no wonder none of the boys look at me.”

Red laughed. “I doubt that.” Snow was pretty, but so shy she fled when most boys smiled.

Snow shrugged a slim pale shoulder, her white-blonde hair cascading around her. “I’m starving. Let’s eat. You can clean up your room later.”

As if. No one cleaned any room in this house except the icy neatness freak. As much as Red loved her, Snow was a little over the top. Red shoved a mountain of clothes to one side of her bed so she could sit, and pulled on her boots, then followed Snow into the kitchen.

Red opened the fridge and slapped some slices of cold pizza onto two plates. Holding the plates in her hands, she let heat flow from her core, singing through her veins like liquid fire until it ran along her forearms and into her fingers. The sizzle of magic made her bones thrum and her adrenaline kick in. How could anyone live without magic? Life would be so boring. In moments, the plates were hot and the pizza was steaming. Red plonked the plates onto the kitchen counter. “Food’s up. Let’s eat. I don’t want to be late tonight.”

Snow pulled a carton of orange juice and two glasses from the cupboard. “Ice?” She gave Red another one of her infamous eyebrow arches.

“Sure.” Red laughed.

Snow held the glass until it was slick with condensation.

“Hey, whoa. I want a drink, not an ice block.”

Snow passed her the chilly glass.

Red took a slug. “Ah, perfect. I hope you keep my drinks cool tonight.”

Snow frowned. “You know what Mom said. We can’t do anything like this in public, Red.”

“’Course not.” Despite Red never intending to use her talents in public, sometimes stuff happened.

Snow glared at her. “I mean it, Red. You can’t use your powers tonight. Not on purpose. We can’t risk being found out as freaks.”

Pizza suddenly clogged Red’s throat. She swallowed. Freaks—yeah, that was about right.

Gingerly avoiding the hot plate, Snow picked up a piece of pizza, and took a dainty bite. “Oh, this is the fuel I’ve needed. I’ve been running on empty all afternoon.”

“Fuel!” Red gasped. “Oops.”

Snow grinned. “I knew you’d forget, so I ducked out and filled the tank while you were in the shower.”

“Thanks, you saved my sorry butt.” Where would she be without her sister?

“Mom will be home in a couple of hours. We’d better skate so she doesn’t catch us.”

“She’s on night shift,” Red said. “We still have a few hours.” Things had been the same for as long as Red remembered: Mom working night shifts in the emergency room at the hospital; them taking care of each other. It wasn’t that Mom didn’t care—she was barely earning enough to pay the crazy rent—one of the many reasons they always ate at home and only bought a drink or two if they went out. “I’ll grab my things.”

Of course, Snow already had her stuff in a tiny silver purse, slung across her shoulder.

Red dashed to her room and rummaged through her piles, throwing pieces into a black leather backpack trimmed with silver studs: wallet, mascara, and… She ducked back out of her room. “Have you seen my lipstick?”

“You’ve probably lost it in that pigsty you call a bedroom.” Snow was perched on the edge of her immaculately-made bed, reading on her phone. Probably the latest thriller—Detective Hardcastle and the Impossible Murder, or whatever. On the other side of the room, her pristine-white desk was empty except for a closed laptop and a neat line of pens. The room was cool, the way Snow liked it. Who needed air-con with her sister around? Without looking up, Snow fished into her purse and held up a lipstick. “Use mine.”

Red rolled her eyes. “Frosty pink hardly goes with my outfit. I was going for cherry-red.”

Snow looked up from her phone. “You could always try Mom’s spare one…” She bit her lip.

“The Revlon Red she keeps in—”

“—her bedside drawer,” Snow finished.

Their eyes met. Neither of them laughed.

Red’s heart banged against her ribcage. “Sure, why not?” She kept her hands clenched to stop them from trembling as she strode into Mom’s room. They’d been little last time they’d forced the lock on Mom’s secret drawer, but neither of them had ever forgotten their mother’s white-lipped fury.

Nor quenched their curiosity about why she’d been so mad.

Snow dashed after her. “No, Red…”

“It’s not as if Mom’s hiding state secrets.” Red tried the drawer. It was locked. She held out her hand. “Hairpin, Snow. Come on, we can’t let our childhood fears rule us.”

“You’ve been watching too many movies. A Swiss army knife is more effective for picking locks.” Snow whipped a pocket knife out of her purse and pulled out the toothpick attachment and a tiny hex key. “Move over.”

What the—?

Snow knelt in front of Mom’s bedside cabinet, hands shaking, and stuck the hex key into the lock. She bit her lip, pushed the toothpick in and jiggled it. The lock sprang open.

“Where’d you learn that?”

Snow put her phone on the bedside table. “YouTube.”

“And where’d you get that?” Red waved her hand at the knife.

Snow shrugged evasively. “Online.” She pulled the drawer open.

“I figured that. Where’d you get the money to buy it?”

Snow ignored Red’s question. “Her lipstick should be in here, somewhere.”

Red’s gaze fell to Snow’s phone. Her phone’s wallpaper was a picture of a tanned guy who looked like he belonged on a surfboard. She groaned. “Oh, man, have you been ogling that I.T. guy again?”

Snow blushed. “Krispin’s cute.”

“Yeah, and good with computers. But you snapping a shot like that is almost stalker-ish.”

“I think of it as art. Anyway, I’m hoping the school Internet goes out again.”

“Isn’t every girl?” When drop-dead-gorgeous Krispin—with his sun-bleached hair, caramel skin and warm brown eyes—had swaggered into the school library last week to fix the broken Internet connection, whispers had washed through the room like a tide hissing on sand.

Snow glanced up. “Shall we?”

Mom would kill them if she found out. Red let warmth seep through her to combat the prickle down her spine. She couldn’t let fear rule her. “Might as well… After all, we’re only looking for lipstick. Harmless, right?”

“Um yeah, harmless.”

She wished Snow wouldn’t gnaw her lip like that. Red eased the drawer open.

The lipstick was lying on top of a few old papers and a small leather-bound book with a lock on it. Red took out the lipstick and applied the tiniest bit to her lips, so Mom wouldn’t notice it’d been used. She snorted, gesturing at Mom’s drawer. “Looks pretty normal to me. Don’t see why Mom gets her knickers in a twist.”

Snow, still holding the Swiss army knife, stared at the book and papers. She licked her lips and gazed up at Red, eyes full of daring. “Let’s look.”

“It’s Mom’s private stuff, we really shouldn’t.” Red traced a finger over the soft black leather book cover. “Probably love letters from dad.”

“Yeah, but why would she keep love letters from a man she refuses to talk about? And why would she lock them up?”

Since their father had died, Mom had barely acknowledged they even had a dad. The only thing Red remembered about him dying was the weird skin disease he’d developed on his deathbed.

“What was he like?” Snow murmured. “Tell me what you remember.”

Red sighed. “He was fun, larger than life, always picking us up and spinning us around, taking us for horsey rides in the lounge. You know…”

“Yeah, I do know—that I don’t remember a thing. It sucks to be two years old when you lose a parent. A year older, like you were, and I might’ve held onto some shred of Dad.”

Every time Snow spoke of Dad, pain and longing filled her voice. Red squeezed Snow’s hand. “One quick look, then we’ll put everything back and get out of here.”

Snow laid the two envelopes and the leather book on Mom’s duvet. “Letters first,” she said, sliding a document with yellowed edges from an official-looking envelope.

Red held her breath as Snow held it under the light.

“It’s their marriage certificate,” Snow said. “But it’s weird.”

Red leaned in. The certificate featured an ornate gold seal of dragons with intertwined necks in the shape of a heart. There was fancy gold writing beneath the dragons. Mom’s familiar signature was signed in red ink. Their Dad’s was three crooked diagonal lines. No words. No name.

“Like werewolf claws in a bad horror movie,” Snow whispered. She traced the gold lettering: Semper iuncti in Draconia. “That’s Latin for Together forever in Draconia.”

Trust Snow to recognize Latin. At least one of them had paid attention in class. “What or where in the heck is Draconia?”

Snow shrugged and went to slide the marriage certificate back into the envelope.

“Wait,” Red held up her phone and snapped a shot. “I’ll hide it somewhere on my hard drive and delete it from my phone in case Mom checks it—I promise.”

Snow raised an eyebrow—something Red had never mastered. “Really? Your hard drive is almost as messy as your room. And your brain is messier than both.”

“True.” Red grinned.

The next envelope was smaller, with Mom’s name on it. Inside was a short note from Dad.

My dearest Hazel,

My heart burns for you. I’ll always be yours.

I know I’m sick, but no matter what shape I’m in, I’ll always love you.

Ash

Red picked up the worn, dark leather diary from Mom’s duvet, and examined the tiny brass lock. “Snow, can you open this?”

“Hmm, my hex key won’t work on that.” Snow pried the lock open with a hair pin. Two pretty luminescent discs shaped like petals and about the size of quarters fell out of the diary. Red held them up. They shimmered gold in the light.

Snow scrunched up her nose. “What are those?”

“Some sort of shell, I think. Like mother of pearl slivers.”

“Look, the book’s hollow.” Snow held it out. There weren’t any pages, only an empty compartment inside the covers. An old piece of paper was tucked into the liner with Kodak Premium Photography stamped on it.

So much for it being a diary. “What’s this photo of?” Red flipped it over. Mom was grinning, her arms around a handsome man dressed in a dragon costume. Red’s heart thrummed and heat shot through her like quicksilver. “That’s him! That’s Dad. I’d know that sandy-blond hair anywhere.” She passed the photo to Snow.

“Man, that’s some face-painting job,” Snow breathed, holding the photo with her fingertips as if it would shatter.

Red examined the shells again. “Look, these match his costume.”

Snow squinted at the photo. “It looks more like a bodysuit than something with shells stitched on, but yeah, they do. They’re the same color.” She snapped a photo with her phone, murmuring, “Mom actually looks happy. I can’t remember the last time I saw her like that. She’s usually so stressed.”

Red took a photo of the snapshot too. “We’d better get out of here, or we’ll have no chance to go dancing before she shows.” She put the photo and shells back in the fake book and clicked the lock shut. Then she tossed the book, letters and lipstick back into the drawer.

Snow took them out and rearranged them. “They were like that.”

“Thanks. How are we going to lock the drawer again?”

“Like this.” Snow thrust the hex key back into the lock and wiggled it. The lock clicked shut. She stashed her tools in her purse and stood.

How had her sister learned so much about lock picking? Red doubted it was from YouTube. And where had she got the money for those tools? All of their clothes were from thrift shops. It wasn’t as if they had spare cash lying around.

Smoothing her silver sequined tank top with her hands, Snow asked, “Is this too low cut?”

“No, it leaves a lot to the imagination.” Barely anything, but if Red said something, her sister would want to get changed again and they’d never get out of here.

“Yeah, but whose imagination?” Snow pouted. “It’s not as if I ever get a date.”

Red threw her head back and laughed. “I don’t care about a date. I just want to dance.

Shifting Sands

The glass doors to the Shifting Sands were rattling on their hinges as Red pushed them open and pulled Snow inside. Rock music blasted Snow, the bass thrumming through her skin and rattling her bones. This place sure was a change from doing homework or sitting around reading Detective Hardcastle thrillers. They nudged their way through the throng toward the bar. Men kept giving her and Red the once over. Snow was sure Red barely noticed—her sister was in such a rush to hit the dance floor. Orange, blue and yellow lights pulsed in time to the beat. A strobe flashed across the crowd. The scent of beer and spirits hung in the air. They could probably get drunk off the fumes. That reminded her…

Snow pulled Red close, and cupped her hand over Red’s ear, yelling above the blaring music. “Please don’t drink booze tonight,” Snow said. “Not after what happened last time.” That night had ended with more than one thing in flames.

“I may be crazy, but I’m not deluded.” Red squeezed past two brunettes in miniskirts and knee-high boots. “Alcohol and I don’t mix.”

Yes, Red had sworn off the stuff, saying it made her veins turn to liquid fire, but Red was impetuous, and it made Snow nervous. And Mom nervous, too. Even though they’d grown up with Mom warning them they’d be in grave danger if anyone discovered their powers, sometimes Red let loose. Accidentally.

But not tonight. Snow would make sure of it. For the hundredth time, she wondered what life would be like if Dad was still alive.

“Anyway,” Red continued, “the way I dance, most people assume I’m drunk already.”

Well, yeah. Red was a little less inhibited than most. Okay, maybe a lot. But she always had a good time. Snow sighed. If only she could loosen up.

A bunch of underage guys from school were crowded around a table, sharing drinks and pretzels. “Want to join us?” a brown-haired guy from math class called, his eyes running over them both.

“Sure,” Red answered, tossing her hair.

Snow gripped her elbow hard. “Maybe later.” She flashed them a smile and Red a warning eyebrow as they pushed their way through the throng to the bar.

A plaid-shirted man grinned as they approached. “Want a drink, darlings?”

“No thank you,” Snow said, sidling away.

Her back hit something solid. A glass crashed to the floor and smashed, scattering shards.

A geek with a buzz cut, black-framed glasses and a Dungeons and Dragons T-shirt glared at her. “Now look what you made me do,” he snarled. “I’ve lost my drink and smashed a glass.”

“I’m sorry, it was an accident. I—”

“Hey, don’t talk to her like that,” Red snarled back, already in the geek’s face. “You heard her. She didn’t do it on purpose.”

People were turning and staring. The man in the plaid shirt sniggered. Snow wanted to melt into the floor. She bent down and picked up the shards. At least no one could see her down here. Maybe.

“Are you all right?” a guy asked Red, his tight surfer tee showing off the muscles in his broad back.

Typical. Guys always came waltzing in to help her sister.

“Sure, I’m fine.” Red flung a hand between Geek and Snow. “But she bumped him, and now he’s being a jerk.”

“Don’t I know you?” the guy in the surfer tee asked Red.

Red tilted her head. “Maybe.” She shrugged.

“Maybe I’d like to get to know you,” Geek purred.

What a loser.

“You’ll get to know my fist if you keep talking like that,” Red snapped.

Geek glowered, but the other guy just laughed and crouched down. Warm, tanned fingers touched Snow’s wrist. “Hey, let me help you.”

Cheeks burning, she glanced up. Gorgeous chocolate-brown eyes met hers. The guy took the shards from her hands. Oh gods, it was Krispin. His dazzling smile melted her bones.

“We’ll have this cleaned up in no time.” His rich deep voice made her melt even further.

Red crouched down to help. Krispin’s eyes widened as he glanced between her and Red. The strobe flickered over Krispin’s sun-bleached hair and lit up his even white teeth. “Don’t I know you both?”

Snow had no chance. All the boys liked Red. They were attracted to her like moths to a flame—and just as easily burned.

“I’m sure I remember you,” he yelled over the bass. “Where did we meet?”

Not a brilliant one-liner. “School,” Snow said, unable to force out a full sentence. She picked up more shards.

“You were fixing the school internet connection,” Red yelled back.

“Yeah, I’m good at connections.” He arched an eyebrow.

Oh freaking gods, his eyebrow arch was just like hers. Snow’s heart ratcheted up a notch.

“I’m Red and this is Snow.” Red glanced meaningfully at Snow. “Anyway, I’m off to dance.”

Krispin’s eyes followed Red as she sashayed into the crowd, then his gaze flicked back to Snow. “Would you honor me with a dance?”

Snow opened her mouth. She had to say something clever. Something witty. But her words died. She nodded, a lump the size of an iceberg in her throat, and stood there with the shards in her hands.

The broken glass in Krispin’s cupped hands glittered in the strobe light. “Here, give me that,” he said, “I’ll get rid of it.”

As Snow dropped the shards into his waiting hands, their fingers bumped, sending an electric jolt through her. Her ice power surged, shooting cold though her fingers.

He yanked his hand back. His eyes shot to hers, a tendril of wariness in them. “I’ll be back soon.” He strode over to a trash can.

She shook her tingling hands and wiped them on her skirt. Had he noticed her powers? She had to get a grip on herself.

“Hey,” someone bellowed. “My drink.” Geek thrust his sweaty face near hers, waving a hand at the beer seeping across the shiny black floor.

“I told you it was an accident. I didn’t mean to—”

Suddenly Krispin was there between them. He put a hand on Geek’s chest. “Be a gentleman, and back off.” He flipped out his phone and pulled ten bucks out of the flap, throwing it onto Geek’s table. “There. Get yourself another beer and leave my lady alone.”

My lady. A cool tidal wave crested inside Snow. She smiled at Krispin. “Thank you, that was kind.”

“No problem.” He placed his hand on her back and guided her toward the bar. “After you having to put up with that rotter, the least I can do is get you a drink.”

Her skin beneath his fingers tingled, all warm and fuzzy. She was seriously in trouble. She’d never felt her power radiating out of her back. This guy did something crazy to her. She really had to get a grip. Snow slid a glance at his attractive, smiling face. Had he noticed anything?

“What would you like?”

There was that bone-melting smile again. Snow slid onto a bar stool. “A lemon lime and bitters, thanks.”

He ordered their drinks and leaned on the counter, his bronzed bicep bulging as he raked a hand through his hair. She tried to keep her eyes off his body-tight tee. He totally rocked the surfer look. It hadn’t been her imagination. He was even more drool-worthy than in her photo.

Krispin turned to her. “I haven’t seen you here before.”

Another one-liner nearly as lame as What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this? Snow didn’t care. This was Krispin. And he was finally talking. To her.

He passed her drink and asked her something, but his words were drowned out by the music.

He placed his hand on her back, making her skin do that yummy thing again, and gestured past the dance floor. Krispin steered her past dingy tables, enormous throbbing speakers and a mass of writhing bodies. A flash of red hair whirled at the center of the crowd. Red looked like she was having a good time. And she hadn’t drunk anything, so she’d be fine on her own for a few minutes, wouldn’t she? Snow gnawed her lip.

“Are you okay?” Krispin asked, leading her to a door that Snow hadn’t noticed.

“Fine, thanks.”

He opened the door and held it, motioning her onto a stone patio surrounded by shrubbery on three sides. Wrought iron candles flickered in stained-glass jars on tiny tables. In the far corner of the patio, two couples sat at tables. One pair laughed, hands intertwined. The other couple clinked glasses, speaking in hushed voices then leaned in to kiss each other. Snow glanced back through the panes in the door at the flashing lights and dancing crowd. A few minutes outside wouldn’t hurt. Then she’d check on Red.

“It’s not as loud out here. Much easier to talk.” Krispin ushered her to a table far from the other couples.

Hang on, other couples. They weren’t a couple. She’d only just met him. Not that she’d mind… They sat down, facing each other. Snow took a gulp of her lemon lime and bitters. The bubbles went straight up her nose. She spluttered, spraying her drink all over the table and Krispin’s T-shirt. How mortifying. “Ah, sorry.” Her cheeks burned. “I seem to be having a bad night.”

He burst out laughing. “You can say that again. We’re lucky I wasn’t drowned. Still, just in case, I’ll fetch a life jacket. There must be one around here, somewhere.”

His laugh was so genuine that for the first time that night, Snow relaxed and grinned back. “Great first impression, huh?”

“Oh no, it’s a terrible second impression.”

Her heart fell.

Krispin continued, “Luckily, my first impression when you were studying in the library was a knockout. What were you reading? Wasn’t it something deep about mind anatomy, or something?”

Snow frowned. “What day were you there?” She knew exactly what she’d been reading the moment he walked in the door. Exactly how many hours it had been since she’d first laid eyes on him. One hundred and seventy-nine hours and 30 minutes approximately. Or nearly seven and a half days.

“Wednesday last week.”

“What time?” She arched an eyebrow.

“Hey, you can arch one brow too.” He smiled and took a chug of his beer, before finally answering her question. “About ten.”

“Then it was Anatomy of the Troubled Mind. I had a psych assignment due. That must’ve been it.” She’d had no such assignment. And, anyway, all of her assignments for the next three weeks were already done. She’d been researching how to control their powers. Not that she was about to tell that to him—or anyone else. Not even Red.

“Mental health in high school? That’s advanced.” He eyed her over the rim as he sipped from his glass. “Yes, I remember you being engrossed in that book. You looked cute. Pink shirt, cut-off jeans. Do you play any sport? You look like an athlete.”

He’d remembered what she was wearing? He’d noticed her. A good sign. “Nah.” She couldn’t really call her and Red’s magic practice sessions out in the woods sport, although they were physical enough. “What about you? What do you play?”

“Power sports.”

“What’s that?” She felt like a complete idiot.

He leaned in, as if he were sharing a secret. “Where I cast a spell on you with my powers and you fall for me.”

A delicious shiver ran down Snow’s back. A magic spell. Yeah, right. However, if there were such a thing as magic spells, he was well on the way to succeeding. Her heart skipped a beat. Was he toying with her, because he’d sensed her powers? She froze, not literally—no ice crept from her hands across the table and over her glass making it freeze and shatter. But she stilled, and sat staring at him without a twitch.

He laughed. “Are you all right? I was teasing. It’s not every day I get to chat with someone so beautiful.” His cheeks pinked and he busied himself with his beer.

Cute. He was blushing, actually blushing. And he thought she was beautiful.

He cleared his throat. “I would be honored if you’d dance with me.”

What quaint speech. “That’d be great.” It was time she checked on Red anyway.

They drained their glasses, and Krispin whipped Snow back through the door, past the crowd, to the dance floor. Red had kicked off her shoes, her flaming hair swirling as she spun and threw her legs out like she was doing karate. Around her, everyone from school was gyrating and waving their arms.

Typical. They were all having a good time, while she stood here, frozen. People always said she should loosen up. But she’d never want to lose control of her powers—like Red sometimes did.

Krispin glanced at the crowd, then turned to Snow, grinning, the dimple in his cheek working its magic on her. He gently took Snow’s hand and enticed her onto the dance floor.

A shot of nervous cold leaked from her fingers. Had he noticed? She smiled, the way social media said you were supposed to, coyly looking up at him.

He smiled back. “You like dancing?” It wasn’t the most romantic of lines. Nor was it the worst, especially as her tongue was stuck, unable to say anything.

She nodded. Time to focus on him and the music, and have fun. And ignore Red, who had jumped on table and was gyrating to the beat, a crowd of yelling guys around her. Puhleese.

Krispin’s eyes roved over Red. “Your sister has an, ah, unusual dance style.”

Snow grinned. “I call that move the egg-beater.”

He grinned back. “Egg-beater. I’m not sure I’ve seen one of those before.”

Snow flashed a grin. She was here, with a guy she’d drooled over for a week. She had to get a grip and relax. As the music pulsed though her and they started to dance, she let herself go, just a little. Krispin was a good old-fashioned dancer, twirling Snow in his arms and flashing her smiles that could melt the iceberg that’d sunk the Titanic.

The guys around Red were now tossing peanuts at her and cheering. She flicked her long red mane over a shoulder and threw pouty kisses at them, swaying her hips like she was trying to dislocate them.

Even though everyone was still dancing, they were all staring now. Even Krispin. Snow didn’t blame him. She was staring too, waiting to see if Red lost it. So much for them keeping a low profile.

Snow’s phone alarm buzzed. It was time to get home—before Mom got in, discovered them gone, and had kittens. “Sorry, gotta run,” she yelled to Krispin over the music—a heavy number that had Red bouncing her head up and down like a pigeon on fire.

“Just five minutes more?” Krispin asked, giving her another winning smile. “Or could I buy you another drink?”

“Sorry, we have to be somewhere.” Snow pushed through the crowd, Krispin trailing her to the table Red was dancing on. She shoved through the throng of guys, and grabbed Red’s leg, yelling, “Come on Red. We have to go.”

“I’ve got to find my shoes,” Red yelled back. She slugged back a juice and clambered off the table to guys cheering and others groaning that she’d finished.

While Red was scrabbling under the table, Krispin pulled out his phone. “Before you go, we should friend each other.”

Well, it couldn’t hurt, could it? He’d been so nice to her tonight. Until he’d been distracted by Red. And, with a show like that, who’d blame him? She slipped out her phone, opened social media and friended him on the spot. What a cute profile image. Even drenched in rain, he looked good.

Red jammed her shoes on and joined them, making serious googly eyes at Krispin. What was she doing? Trying to edge in on Snow’s action? Not that calling dibs on guys was a thing, but it would be nice if Red backed off from this one.

Krispin’s eyes flicked over Red, then he met Snow’s gaze. “I’ll see you soon.”

“Thanks for the, um, drink. Sorry you had to wear it.”

He laughed. “It was my pleasure.” His chocolate eyes met hers, making her pulse pound.

This guy’s smiles were addictive.

“I’ll see you soon, too,” Red purred, tossing her wild mane over her shoulder again.

Not if Snow had anything to do with it. “Gotta run,” Snow said. She practically dragged her sister away from Krispin.

“Hurry up.” Snow strode through the busy tables toward the door. “If Mom realizes we’ve been out, she’s going to be so mad.”

“Come on then,” Red put on a show of speed, racing past the bouncers, out the doors of the Shifting Sands, and into the street.

Snow had to hurry to keep up with her. “Don’t be like that, Red. It’s me who should be mad. After all, you were making moony eyes at Krispin.”

Red yawned. “Krispin? You can have him. He’s not my type.”

As if Red had a type. She flirted with everyone with a Y chromosome.

Snow tugged her jacket tighter around her and glanced along the street. Traffic was sparse. A group of guys were hanging around one of the two alleys across the street; otherwise, hardly anyone was around. It was later than she’d thought. “If we want to beat Mom home, we’d better take the shortcut to the car.”

Red checked her phone and grimaced. “Oops, yeah. This is gonna be tight.”

They cut across the road and marched straight to the furthest alley. Snow peered between the brick buildings into the gloom. Nobody was loitering down this shortcut. “Come on, let’s go.” They dashed along the narrow lane, their footfalls snapping on the concrete sidewalk and bouncing off the walls.

Boots thudded along the alley. Snow cast a glance over her shoulder. Murky figures appeared—four guys in leather coats were stalking down the alley behind them.

“Hurry,” she hissed to Red.

“On it,” Red answered a spark flitting from a finger as they increased their pace.

Despite their burst of speed, the guys were quicker. Snow and Red edged to one side, walking in single file to let them past.

Just as the guys had passed them and Snow was breathing a sigh of relief, one turned and grabbed the strap of her purse, yanking it tight across her body.

She spun. Her hand shot out and grasped his wrist. Goosebumps skittered along her forearms as tendrils of power flowed from her fingertips.

“Ow!” He let go and shook his arm.

Shoot. She’d given him an ice burn.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. One of his friends grinned, his teeth a flash of white in the dark, as his blade slashed toward her.

Snow and Red is available on Amazon on a 99c special introductory offer or free in Kindle Unlimited.

If you like dragons, romance and danger, enter the simmering underworld of Pinevale in the Dragon Shifters’ Hoard today!

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