Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Dragon Scales - live!

The ebook just went live; it's not even on my author page yet, but you can find it here: Dragon Scales. And here's a snippet from the opening chapter to whet your interest:

“Mzzz Brown!” Rozzy Aguire, the ShareASpace manager, who’d been unfindable ever since I forked over the deposit, was suddenly a larger-than-life presence. She filled the hall between us and the door to Sienna Language Services. “I really must insist that you remove that person immediately, before I call the police!”

Oh, hell. Was I late for the first afternoon interview? No, not yet. Had the interviewee shown up early and done something to spook Rozzy? Some of UT’s foreign students did come from extremely strange cultures. Still, calling the cops seemed a bit of an overreaction to culture shock.

“What did he do? Or she,” I tacked on, because I suddenly couldn’t remember whether my next interviewee, Sayana Raj, from Sri Lanka, was male or female.

“It’s not what he did,” Rozzy said ominously, “it’s what he is.”

I blinked. “Isn’t that racist? What do you have against Sri Lankans?”

“Nothing,” she said, “as long as they keep their clothes on! What kind of position are you hiring for, Mzzzz Brown? And that girl with him is obviously the kind of slut you’d expect to find clinging to a naked man. We have a strict policy against allowing ShareASpace offices to be used for that kind of business, Mzzzz Brown, and it won’t take ten minutes to void your contract!”

I wished she wouldn’t keep preceding my name with that “Mzzzz.” The buzzing noise was beginning to vibrate unpleasantly in my head.

“Just a minute there,” Michael spoke up. “Ms. Brown is not liable for your failure to prevent maniacs from invading your offices. But she might very well have a case against ShareASpace for letting this nut case into the space she is renting from you. Does the company have no concern for the safety of its tenants?”

He loomed over Rozzy in an intimidating fashion that was all the more admirable when you considered that he was only the same height as me – three inches shorter than the solidly built, six-foot office manager.

She loomed back.

Words were exchanged.

Menacing growls were exchanged.

“Guys, could you just cool it for long enough to let me find out what happened? Both of you cool it,” I emphasized. Michael seemed to be reverting from his business manager persona to his previous life in Special Forces, and I didn’t think guns and grenades were going to solve this problem. Whatever it was.

I got my first clue after Rozzy grudgingly made room for me to pass down the hall to my own (rented) front door. I opened the door and saw two people: a pretty young girl who was familiar to me from a rather different context, and a very well-built man whose face did not ring any bells. It was, however, possible to fully appreciate how hot he was, because as Rozzy had hinted, he was stark naked.

His eyes gave me a clue: bright as gems, like glowing topazes, they were not quite human. I had seen those eyes before.

The language in which he greeted me was another clue. I’d heard that before, too. It was full of sounds like rocks breaking and tectonic plates grinding against one another. Both the people with me turned white.

In Rozzy’s case I assumed that was because she didn’t know what was making those noises.

In Michael’s case I feared it was because he did know.

I filed for future reference that the being I’d met last fall in Taklanistan could change to a human shape at will. Although why he’d done so, and why that human shape was infesting my new office eight thousand miles from his home, remained to be explained. “Chee khol doried, Adjdaak?” I asked. “How are you?”

I was speaking Taklan, naturally. There was no way I was going to take the risk of brain damage that speaking the dragon’s native language could inflict on a mere human.

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