by K.R. Thompson
by K.R. Thompson
Dragons, wolves, magic, and more...
Welcome to Shifter’s University!
Claire Pratten has a secret—one that she’s never shared with a soul. Whenever she is frightened, her “other” self comes out. Normally she has no problem hiding what she is, but lately life at her foster home has gotten harder and keeping her secret is getting tougher.
Logan Fairmont is a dragon shifter and more than accustomed to looking out for himself—and others. In fact, he is one of the few Imperium University students tasked with spending weekends in the city, searching for young shapeshifters on the edge of revealing their magic to the human race. When he finds Claire, Logan knows she will need the help of the University and its teachers to blend into society.
He thinks he knows what she is.
But magic is never quite so simple
The wind caught beneath my wings, pushing me higher into the air. I readjusted slightly, feeling the slight tinge of magic as it raced along my scales. The shields were still intact. For that, I was more than grateful.
Otherwise, the non-magical humans who lived in the city below would be getting an eyeful.
I snorted and a small puff of smoke blew out my dragon’s nostrils. An eyeful, indeed. It would be pure chaos if the people of Roanoke realized a scaly monster flew above them on a regular basis each weekend, searching for other shapeshifters.
No doubt about it, they’d be bringing out the pitchforks. Nope. Scratch that, they’d be bringing out the guns, missiles, and who knows what else in an effort to shoot me down.
If they only knew how much magic surrounded them—in the air and on the ground.
Another gust of wind came and I spread my wings further, changing direction until I soared over Roanoke’s sister city, Salem.
Yep, Salem, just like the witchy town of Salem, Massachusetts, only this one is in Virginia and is every bit as witchy.
Another minute passed, and I was at my destination. I glanced down to the vacant lot beside of a small white house, dipping one wing experimentally to test the shields as I descended. They were still strong, so I dropped down to the ground, taking care not to let my wings wander outside of the magic that kept me invisible.
I shifted to human, my scales disappearing in a rush of blue flame that licked along my body, then walked toward the house.
The porch light was on.
I was expected.
I didn’t even have to knock. The door swung open to reveal a petite blonde girl who looked a good deal younger than I was, though I knew for a fact she was older than I. A year older to be exact. She was nineteen.
The light from the kitchen illuminated her, making her look ethereal.
“Hadley,” I acknowledged with a nod of my head. My hair swung toward my eyes with the movement and I brushed it away. “You wanted to see me?”
“Yes, hurry up and get in here,” she replied, waving her hand at me impatiently. “You haven’t got all night, you know.”
You, I noticed. Not we. You haven’t got all night. I walked through the open door, then stood in the kitchen, arms crossed over my chest.
Whatever Hadley Rose had in mind for me this evening, it would likely involve a lot of work. Rarely ever did the youngest of Salem’s witch coven request my presence, but when she did, it was serious business.
“Is it the shields?” I asked, when she didn’t say anything right away, my brain automatically searching for the worst possible outcome. A breach in the shields would most certainly be that. The coven kept Imperium University’s magic hidden from human eyes with a collection of spelled crystals placed strategically throughout the city and within the school’s grounds.
“No, no, the shields are fine,” she replied, handing me a multi-faceted crystal the color of an evening sky. “Bronwyn, Aunt Sally, and I strengthened them earlier today to be sure. This stone is for the east wing in the school’s main house. Everyone in and around Imperium will be safe enough, as well as the forest behind it and the skies above the city. But that isn’t why I sent for you…”
“Then what is it?”
Hadley bit her lip, as if thinking of the best way to say what was on her mind.
“Just spit it out. What do you need me to do, Hadley? You’ve already told me I haven’t got all night.” And I’d rather not spend it all here with you, trying to figure out what you want.
She rolled her eyes. “Fine. I have a friend that I need you to help. She left here a little while ago, so she should be home in a few minutes.” Hadley thrust a piece of paper into my hands. “Here’s her address.”
I looked at the scrap of paper, quickly mapping out the city’s streets in my head. “She doesn’t live in a great neighborhood. Mind telling me what I’m supposed to be helping her with?”
Hadley didn’t waste any time with her next words. “I need you to get her out of there.”
“What? Like move out? Do I look like a rent-a-dragon service?”
Hadley’s blue eyes narrowed to slits as if she was contemplating to zap me with a spell that would turn me into an entirely different reptile…a croaking one that preferred to eat flies. “Smart ass. She’s a shifter and her foster father has been beating her. She needs to get into Imperium and away from him.”
“What kind of shifter?” I asked, finding myself suddenly curious. As Roanoke and Salem were in the mountain regions of Virginia, the majority of the shapeshifters I encountered were woodland. There was a pack of wolves, several bear, and even a few smaller shifters—the smallest, thus far, having the ability to shift into a small, blue butterfly. Imperium School was full of woodlands to the point the headmistress wouldn’t let just anyone in. It would be nice to have another dragon, though.
“She’s a fox…I think,” Hadley said, scrunching up her nose, as if she wasn’t entirely sure.
“You think? Magda won’t let her in if she’s just a woodland shifter. She’ll have to…”
Hadley cut me off. “To have problems fitting in with the human world,” she finished my sentence with a nod of her head. “Yes, I know that. I’m telling you, if you go right now, you’ll see the problems she has. If anyone has ever needed into Imperium, it’s Claire.”
K.R. Thompson writes paranormal stories with a bite and fairytales with a twist. An avid reader and firm believer in the magic of books, she spends her nights either reading an adventure or writing one.
She still watches for evidence of Bigfoot in the mud of Wolf Creek.
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