It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and Zoë Sorensson’s love life is heating up. Cute, loyal, and understanding, wolf shifter Derek is pretty much the perfect guy. He likes Zoë, and he knows what it’s like to have to keep a secret. Yet, Zoë can’t help but wish it was rebel rocker Jared asking her to the Valentine’s dance instead. But Jared’s too busy playing hot and cold with her heart, calling Zoë his dragon girl one minute and then taking special interest in her best friend the next.
Zoë is just about ready to breathe fire, especially once she uncovers a new threat that targets her friends. Although Zoë thought the Mages were defeated, they’re back and have invoked an old spell to give them new power—they plan to eliminate all shape shifters on the night of the big dance. Now, Zoë must lead an alliance of young shifters to battle the Mages and figure out exactly what—and who—she wants, before it all goes up in smoke…
“I have been a huge fan of Deborah Cooke for many years. When a new release comes across my path, I truly do a happy dance. Cooke has lived up to her previous work with BLAZING THE TRAIL. I loved how Zoe deals with the everyday issues in front of her while trying to save the world with the Pyr and fellow shifters.”—Fresh Fiction
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An excerpt from Blazing the Trail:
About three months before, Meagan had gotten her first glimpse of the Pyr. That’s the name for dragon shape shifters, or, at least, our name for ourselves. That’s what I am, although I’m the only female dragon shape shifter in existence. There’s only one female Pyr at a time, and she’s the Wyvern. I’m the Wyvern. And being the Wyvern means having a bonus pack of extra powers, some of which I’m still trying to locate.
But my point is that all the other dragon shifters I know, all of my buddies and the dragons I grew up with, are all guys. And they’re pretty hot guys. I think the dragon business works in a big way for the males of the species: it seems to make them fill out and get buff more quickly than plain old human guys. So any female with a speck of interest in the opposite sex would notice them, even when they’re in their human form.
In dragon form, they’re breathtaking.
In November, Meagan had been targeted by the Mages because of her spellsinging talents. Spellsinging is innate: You’re born with it or not. And if you are born with it, the Mages try to enlist you. They thought they could turn Meagan to the dark side, then maybe use her against me and my dragon pals. They weren’t counting on Meagan the wunderkind figuring out their plan and deciding to go undercover to learn the real deal. It all culminated at a Halloween party at the house of an apprentice Mage named Trevor who goes to our school. Meagan had been crazy for Trevor forever, until she learned his nasty secret.
Even worse, Trevor offered up Meagan as the sacrifice for his initiation rite.
But then Garrett, one of my dragon friends, came to the rescue. Garrett is garnet and gold in dragon form, his scales like jewels, and just about as magnificent as a dragon can be. He scooped up this damsel in distress and Meagan has been talking endlessly about Garrett ever since.
So, I can tease Meagan about Jared because I know she’s totally nuts for Garrett.
The problem is that we’re in Chicago and Garrett lives in Traverse City. Meagan and Garrett haven’t seen each other since November. Rotten luck contributed to that—the Pyr got together at our place at Christmas, but Meagan and her family were on vacation in California at the exact same time. She was devastated.
And I think Garrett was a bit bummed, too.
He’s got the same strong-but-silent-type intensity as Derek. I know Meagan and Garrett talked a bunch, because between the two of them they’ve managed to translate that treatise on the Mages that he’d found in his mom’s used bookstore in the fall.
They didn’t really need to do it, given the current state of the Mage population—the Mages who hadn’t died had become incoherent messes, with no memories left—but it just seemed mean to take that away. They’d finished a month before and officially had no more excuses to talk to each other or see each other, at least not until the big NightBlade destruction we’d planned for April.
Which I’m sure seemed a very, very long time away for them.
So, that night, when I was supposed to be doing my homework at the dining room table at Meagan’s house, I used my messenger under the table and invited Garrett to the Valentine’s Day dance. Meagan watched me from the other side of the table, flicking glances toward the kitchen, where her mom was making dinner. Her mom is serious about homework, and if she caught me, she’d confiscate my messenger pronto.
I closed my hands over it in an attempt to muffle the sound as it chimed to signal an incoming message. I peeked between my fingers and grinned.
Ha! Garrett was coming.
“That had better not be a messenger I hear,” Mrs. Jameson said from the kitchen. “We’re going to eat in twenty minutes and I want to see that English homework done.”
Who? Meagan mouthed.
I smiled as mysteriously as I could.
She wrinkled her nose at me, then glanced at her own messenger. It remained silent.
Geek, I mouthed back at her, and she wadded up a sheet of paper to throw it at me. We have an old joke that we’re not geeky enough to message each other when we’re sitting in the same room. (Even though we sometimes do.)
“I am talking to you, Zoë Sorensson,” Mrs. Jameson added.
“Just finishing the last two questions, Mrs. Jameson,” I answered, apparently the most dutiful student alive. Just so you know, I have nobody fooled on that one.
“Done, Mom.” Meagan frowned and leaned closer to me, flicking another look at the kitchen. “Who?” she whispered.
“Wait for Friday,” I replied in kind, and winked. “You’ll love it.”
Meagan sat back. Of course she knew. Her mouth fell open and she raised a hand to her lips. No! she mouthed, clearly wanting me to say yes.
It is so tedious to try to surprise a brilliant individual, you know. Impossible, maybe.
I tried to act like I didn’t understand her, but we’ve known each other way too long for that. I’d been hoping to make her wait for it, at least until we went to bed, but no luck. Meagan was too excited.
She scribbled a note and shoved it across the table at me, interrupting my consideration of English lit question number 29.
Her expression was expectant as I read it.
Actually, she was bouncing in her chair, vibrating with such excitement that I knew I’d done exactly the right thing.
Meagan snatched the paper back and scribbled some more. I smiled when I saw what she’d written.
OMG! What am I going to wear?
©2012 Deborah A. Cooke