Dragon Hunter by Charlene Hartnady

Chapter 1

Riley stumbled, then grabbed onto Ashlyn’s arm and giggled. Her friend leaned into her and giggled as well. They were a hot freaking mess and then some. That’s what Friday nights were for. It wasn’t like they partied like this every weekend, anyway. Sometimes it was good – no, make that essential, to let your hair down.

“That guy was totally into you.” Ash giggled.

“Nope. Not my type at all.” Riley shook her head so hard she almost stumbled again. She might have fallen if she wasn’t still holding onto her best friend’s arm.

“Why the heck not? He was gorgeous. Drop-dead!” Ash stopped walking. She turned to Riley and narrowed her eyes. “Don’t say it. Don’t you dare.” Her mascara was slightly smudged, and her lipstick was long gone. Kissed off by the guy Ashlyn had been dancing with for the last two hours. Riley wished she could be that carefree. Just for once!

“I have to say it,” Riley countered, lifting her brows. “Because it’s important…”

“Let me guess…there is something about him that’s on that long-ass list of yours.”

“It’s not long-ass, and that list has saved me more times than you will know.”

Ashlyn turned towards her and folded her arms. “Oh, really now. So which rule did he break? I’d love to know.”

“Well, firstly – and it’s not a rule per se, although I’m making it one as of today, since I follow it anyway – he’s too good-looking.” She shrugged.

Ash groaned and rolled her eyes. “You can’t be serious! Since when is that an issue?”

“Of course I’m serious. It’s an unspoken rule of mine since great-looking guys are often full-of-themselves jerks. That’s a major issue for me.”

“Jarod seemed nice, though. I thought he was nice.” Her friend shrugged, giggling. Her eyes were bright and glinting under the streetlight. “What’s the problem with being gorgeous?” She made a flourish with her hands. “I don’t see a problem.”

Riley giggled, too; she wasn’t sure why exactly. Then again, she could still feel that last shot buzzing through her veins. “He is nice…incredibly nice, and charming and sweet, and all of those things…in spades, actually.” She laughed some more.

“Well, then? What the hell is your problem, lady?” Ash staggered forward a step or two.

They both laughed. “We shouldn’t have had that last shot,” Riley said, grinning.

“Of course we should’ve! You only live once. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for how many years? You only live once, Riley. You never know when it’ll all be over. When—”

Her friend disappeared.



Riley blinked a couple of times. How many drinks had they downed? What the heck was going on? Where was Ashlyn?

She looked up in time to see a large, dark shape. And then it grabbed her, and she too was hoisted up…up…up. Up into the air. Riley grabbed onto whatever it was that was clutching around her waist. It felt like scales beneath her fingers.



Riley opened her mouth to scream just as the g-forces hit. The wind whipped about her face. Her hair stung against her cheeks. She was forced to shut her eyes. Riley could feel herself fading but was helpless to stop it. Before she could make so much as a sound, she passed out.