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  *  Heart of the Dragon
      -- Synopsis
      *  Chapter One
      -- Excerpt
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      -- Reader Comments
      -- HOTD Home
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Heart of the Dragon
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HEART OF THE DRAGON
Sequel to Love's Captive by Myra Nour
Available to order from New Concepts Publishing

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-- Chapter One --

Sweat beaded on his sun-darkened skin, then pooled and ran in rivulets of life sustaining moisture. Past discouragement or caring at this point, Eric glanced with glazed detachment at his own agonizingly slow death process. The droplets gathered and ran off his body in constant reaction to the tropical climate. Unknowing tools of the body--the lost moisture spelled his end quicker in these sweltering temperatures.

A quick flick of wind whipped through the encampment. He waited expectantly as the wind stayed true to form and a brief teasing rain splashed him with a few minutes of cooling moisture. Opening his mouth wide, his head fell back as far as he could bend it, before it hit the post behind him.

Eric gathered all the showering rain he could while it lasted. It was the only way he managed to dislodge his swollen tongue from the semi-permanent position it assumed much of the day and night. He was able to move it sluggishly about only when water was available.

“I see you’ve had your water ration for the day.”

Eric looked with dull, unfeeling eyes at the short, dumpy man who had come to taunt him, as was his several time daily routine. He was called Captain Rodriguez by his subordinates, “greaseball” by Eric when he still was strong enough to be defiant.

The guerrilla commander ran through his regular questioning, “What was his mission? Where were the other special forces soldiers in his A-team?” And so on.

Eric maintained a stony silence. Talking might give him the ease of a promised meal and sufficient water, but it wouldn’t stop these creeps from killing him in the long run, and hell if he was going to give away any information which might put his comrades in danger. Not that it could have helped. He was sure Tom and the others were far away by now, thinking the shot that took him down, had killed him. The guerrillas’ ambush had necessitated the team’s immediate withdrawal.

Eric had felt a thrill of danger just before they’d stepped into the clearing, which the guerrillas surrounded, but his premonition wasn’t clear enough for him to do anything about it in time. On many occasions, his “gift” had helped him through tough periods. Time was all he had now. Time to die.

Rodriguez left, after throwing a few punches to his sore mid-section. He wasn’t really interested in Eric much anymore; just waiting for his American prisoner to die. Even though the commander had taunted him about getting his water for the day, Eric knew he’d get a few gulps from the filthy cup held to his lips at sunset, prolonging his agony.

He’d lost track of time. He knew he’d been tied to this post in the center of the camp for over a week, but whether it was more than that, he couldn’t say. The lack of food and skimpy rations of water, plus the fevers brought on by infection, kept him in a fog of delirium. Eric stared down at the gaping wound on his right thigh. If the putrid smell wasn’t enough to alert him to the danger of gangrene, the red streaks running down his leg since this morning, certainly were.

He shook his head in confusion--not because he should have accepted his coming death by now--but because he hadn’t. All common sense dictated he would die soon. He was a prisoner in the middle of an enemy camp.

Yet, Eric knew, no felt, it was not his time. Sagging against the ropes binding his arms and chest, he wished for the first time his powers of sight would just leave him alone. Certainly escape was impossible in his condition. God knows he’d tried several times when his strength was still formidable. And he saw no hope for rescue.

The pain of deprivation, infection and fevers had taken their toll. He wanted escape in whatever form it appeared. The shadows of evening finally cooled his body, but brought out mosquitoes and other nighttime denizens, who enjoyed taking minute bites from their luckless victim.

Eric looked around in confusion as the clearing became suddenly darker. The heavy shadings of its limb-touching, entwined trees allowed not even slight shards of twilight’s last rays to penetrate.

A deep thrumming sound vibrated throughout his whole body and he stared upward, wondering for a fleeting joyful moment if a Black Hawk helicopter hovered above, perhaps searching for him. He could spy nothing through the dense growth, nor could the guerrillas that gathered, shouting and pointing toward the treetops.

Realizing the overpowering sound couldn’t be helicopter, he slumped against the pole. Yet his vision stayed skyward, curiosity not quite dead within him. He felt neither pain nor fear as a blinding beam of light shot unexpectedly from whatever hovered overhead, picking him out amongst the impenetrable blackness, enveloping his body with its warmth.

Wondering for a microsecond if his “second sight” had at last failed him, that death had truly come for him, Eric slid easily into an inky nothingness.

*****

“Great gods of the homeland!” Dr. Melat added a few Cromotrie curses under his breath.

Rolan’ shook his head in agreement. Never had he seen a human or non-human in such bad shape. The body of Olga’s brother lay upon the examining table where they had beamed him only moments before.

Raw bruises overlay older purplish-yellow ones, creating an odd patchwork of color against the man’s tan skin. Flung over this unpleasant sight, were numerous cuts, fresh and healed. As well there were uncountable raised red bumps, clear markers the human had been swarmed interminably by insects.

The man had also been obviously starved, his ribs showing with sharp contrast against the expanse of his still-immense chest. Rolan’ held his breath as he spied the wound on the human’s right thigh, the rank smell vying with the visual sight of the deep wound. He barely held in his nausea at the sight.

“Do you think you can save him?”

Dr. Melat shook his head uncertainly. “I honestly don’t know. Humans are much more frail than our comrades, the Volarnians.”

The doctor gently poked and prodded his unconscious patient. “He is an extremely fit specimen for an Earthling though. Perhaps he will live,” he said softly.

Rolan’ was very worried about Olga’s brother, but Dr. Melat completely ignored his hovering nearby.

*****

Eric stood at the lounge’s observatory window, endlessly fascinated each time he looked out at the stars, as if every time were the first. Far in the distance, a reddish planet with golden rings circling it, held his attention for a long time. It was the fourth planet in this solar system and the neighbor of Volarn, which the ship would reach tomorrow.

Volarn. The warrior run, medieval-style planet. The place his sister had been brought to last year as a captive bride. He still couldn’t believe Rolan’s glib explanation of Olga’s happily married life. He knew his sister. He couldn’t picture her acceptance of being abducted and then falling in love with one of her kidnappers.

God, how he’d searched and worried about her this last year, frustration eating at him daily at his seemingly fruitless efforts. Olga had simply disappeared. And now he knew why.

But last year he’d not known and was sure as he stepped off the plane onto American soil, he’d had enough bad luck to last him a while. He’d just spent several tough weeks being laid up from a bullet wound to the calf of his right leg, the same unfortunate limb of recent injury.

He’d been reported as “missing in action.” Eric shook his head in silent laughter. Call it fate or maybe being struck twice by lightning, but he’d gone missing in action twice now within a very short span of time.

Last year, he’d been far more fortunate, being found by an ancient Spanish widow instead of guerrillas. The bullet had gone straight through his leg, but his fall had earned him a bump to the head and a rough roll beneath a heavy growth of bushes. He counted himself very lucky to be found by Senora Sanchez, the village healer. She was a kind old woman who missed her youngest son dearly, the one killed in guerrilla warfare the previous year.

Maybe that’s why she didn’t turn him over to the local guerrillas, or maybe it was because he spoke Spanish and she enjoyed his company. Her small dwelling was isolated from the village and made hiding his presence easier.

He’d said a fond farewell to the Senora once he was well enough to make the arduous journey overland to the nearest field base. And, he’d kept his promise of keeping in touch, sending letters routinely, as well as money. Her letters were sporadic and written in barely legible English by a trusted grandson who’d attended some schooling. They were always filled with interesting tidbits of the life led on another continent, one as alien sometimes as the one he now approached. The simple notes always ended with a prayer for his safety.

The last letter he’d sent her, before he undertook this recent deployment, was “returned to sender.” A badly written “grndma dead” on the envelope sunk into his heart with a chill. Eric cried that night and repeated a version of her favorite prayer. He’d always missed not having a big family, something he desired greatly in the secret paths of his heart. The Senora had been the grandmother, even if only for a short time, that he’d never known.

His sorrow made him miss his only living relative. He’d tried to contact his sister and his grief went deeper still. He and Olga were fraternal twins, but were as close growing up as many identical twins claimed to be. Their first heartbreak had come when their parents divorced, his beautiful mother staying in Germany, his father returning to the United States. Olga was to stay with mom and he to go with dad. They both fought the separation, but it was a baTitlee they couldn’t win. They’d clung to each other desperately, fighting back the tears with pre-teen pride as his dad practically dragged him aboard the plane.

They were reunited after graduating high school when Olga was able to come to the United States.

Eric shook his head in self-degradation. It’d been he who’d been so very stubborn, causing their final break. He just couldn’t stand the slick city bred Italian man who claimed to love his sister. How could he not notice how the man’s dark lustful eyes followed every attractive woman within his range? Looks his sister was blind to.

Now, according to Pulack, Olga had a man worthy of her love. Well, he’d just wait to see about that himself. He turned from his inward thoughts as a familiar voice called out a greeting. He smiled at Jamie and waved a hand in invitation to join him at the window. His pretty new friend was not nearly as interested in the scenery as she was in him. Several of the beautiful women who had been captured had shown an interest in him. Unfortunately, they were being transported aboard this space ship to their new home and awaiting bridegrooms.

He knew many of them were bored, just as he was. Without any false modesty, he realized his own masculine looks set some on his track. He’d always been pursued by the opposite sex, but this was one time he was uncomfortable in the situation. One hundred gorgeous women of all descriptions on board this ship and he couldn’t afford to get tied up with any one of them. Lord only knew what the ferocious warrior grooms would do to him, if he were stupid enough to start a relationship onboard. Of course Rolan’ and Pulack kept up a constant, nervous vigilance on him while Doc laughed at the circumstances.

Rolan’ had told him everything that had transpired while he was passed out. Apparently the Moyd’s had been planning to track him with their scientific equipment and ascertain if he were dead or alive. It was favor Rolan’ wished to do for Olga. But, upon discovering him in the enemy camp, and his near death, they had decided to rescue and provide treatment for him.

From there, things got “thick” as they say. Dr. Melat argued that Eric needed more time to heal properly. Thus, he did not want to release him to the primitive medical practices on Earth. Rolan’ supported his stand all the way, hoping to win points with Olga by bringing him back for a visit, and Pulack got red-faced with indignation at each confrontation.

Apparently, by the time Pulack had been worn down slightly by Doc and Rolan’s combined arguments, the Air Force over South America had picked them up on radar and sent out two F-16 jet fighters to investigate. Pulack had made an instantaneous decision it was okay for Eric to travel to Volarn and see his sister.

His thoughts snapped back to Jamie, who had snuggled up against him. He liked her, a lot, but love was definitely not in their future. Still, her soft curves and lovely face were hard to resist.

“How do you think I look in this?” Jamie giggled like a Little girl as she pulled his Green Beret from behind her back and plopped it on her brown curls in a jaunty manner.

He smiled at her silliness. He knew she’d sneaked into his assigned quarters to secure the beret for her teasing surprise. This was not the first time she’d been fascinated with his being a member of the elite forces. Many times she’d begged him to tell her tales of military exploits into mysterious countries.

He eyed the beret and then looked down at the poorly fitting clothes created by the ship’s replicating machine. Unfortunately his uniform had been torn and filthy when he’d been beamed aboard, only his beret surviving because the guerrillas had left it at his feet as a “joke”.

“Well?” Jamie stared up at him with large blue eyes.

“I think the other eleven members of my team would be jealous of that hat.”

Jamie had another fit of giggles, which turned to a frown as Rolan made a sudden appearance next to them. For once, Eric was happy for Rolan’s untimely interference. The roly-poly alien made some excuse about needing Jamie to attend a meeting about Volarn culture, but he knew it was to interrupt their tête-à-tête.

She handed his beret back, then reluctantly followed Rolan’. He watched her retreating figure briefly, feeling sorry for her and the other women. From the tapes onboard, he’d understood too well the Volarnians’ need for the captured women. The majority of their women being sterile created a real crisis for the planet. But still, he wouldn’t wish to be paraded before a bunch of men so they could choose a wife ... in his case, being chosen as a husband by some muscle-bound warrior woman.

*****

Majestic. That word embodied every wondrous vista Eric saw on his short journey from the land-bound ship to the gigantic castle where the King of South Volarn ruled. Lavender skies. Grass, bushes and trees, topped with varying shades of blue, were astounding. The two suns were warm and inviting. The huge, muscular, barbaric warriors who came to escort them were impressive. The large, strange birds called elags, which made him think of a cross between an ostrich and peacock, and then those marvelous yasmirs, unicorn-like creatures used as horse flesh here, were spectacular sights.

Later, precious, was the only word that fit he and Olga’s reunion. His stalwart sister cried buckets, more than he’d ever seen her cry her entire life, and even he shed a few tears. They spent the afternoon clearing up the misunderstanding which had caused their rift, then Olga the latter part making him accept she was truly happy with her present life on another planet.

He had to admit he liked the giant who walked in later, her husband, Zares, commander of the King’s forces. Along with the leadership abilities which shone from him, the Volarnian warrior had a wise face and a gentle manner. The love that radiated from his eyes every time he looked at Olga put Eric at ease.

The next day, he met with the King, needing to secure his permission to stay for a visit. He found Rhamus to be of a similar mold as Zares, but the characteristics more intensified in the serious young ruler. Thankfully, the King agreed to his visit. He was to go back with the Moyds when they returned to Earth.

Eric couldn’t help but laugh at the stricken looks on Pulack and Rolan’s faces as they stood on the sidelines. He had a feeling they’d been severely chastised by bringing him here. Of course, he was thankful they’d saved his life and for giving him the opportunity to see his sister.

He was excited the King was allowing him to attend the Tarthra this evening, the official ceremony where the male warriors would choose the woman who would be their life mate. The Tarthra dictated the choosing, not the warriors, matching those who were meant for each other.

He still didn’t agree completely with the whole kidnapping concept, but the opportunity for observing the Volarnians in all their barbaric splendor wouldn’t come again, at least not during his stay here.

During his visit with the ruler, he’d been introduced to the King’s cousin, Jarvic. They established an immediate rapport and later he entered the throne room with the carefree warrior as his comrade for the evening. Jarvic had readily agreed to be his escort when asked earlier by the King and would fill him in on details of the proceedings.

Eric had been shown to a nice room after seeing the King. Jarvic appeared that evening, leading the way to the throne room. The richly dressed throng of Volarnian men and women, plus the hundred lovely Earth women, filled the room with a mixed texture of colorful clothing. The tapestry of beauty and muscular bounty was amazing. All the brawny men wore silky tie-stringed shirts, as the one he’d consented to wear. Glancing around, he realized he was the only one wearing the rezel leather pants instead of the kilt-like docas.

God. He couldn’t, ever, say which of the gorgeous woman were more outstanding. But, the Volarnians won his attention by virtue of their unique color combinations, extreme height compared to humans and the muscular limbs seen on most. He’d always been attracted to black hair anyway and found the thick, inky manes of the women fascinating. And where on Earth would one find the wondrous range of lavender to violet eye colors, except via contact lenses, or unless you were Liz Taylor?

He glanced down at the baggy leather pants, more than glad he’d agreed not to go native and wear the doca. This gathering of feminine beauty made it almost impossible for him to keep his “Little head” under control. The month long sojourn amongst a bevy of beauties, and the hands off policy, hadn’t helped his condition either.

Hoping to cool his male lust, he looked for his sister and located her on the dais, close to the King. She waved and smiled broadly, making her face light with joy and feminine loveliness. He waved back and, taking a deep breath, felt his pulse slow.

His eyes ranged the dais area, noting the solemn King and his too lovely wife. The next instant, all the feelings he’d been trying to suppress felt like they’d been rolled up into one huge fiery ball as his eyes lit upon a woman standing behind Rhamus. She stood to the side, as if she were trying to hide. He slid his hand into the pant’s right pocket, afraid those around him would see his physical reaction.

As if you could hide from me, he thought silkily to himself, letting his pocketed hand slide for a second. He jerked upright, embarrassed by his own actions. He’d never thought or acted like such a horny dog before. But could anyone blame him? Just look at her, Eric seemed to be arguing with himself. Could a more perfect example of a warrior goddess be found?

Her face was exotic, sultry, a siren’s soul mate. It was one that many models of Earth would have envied, with the high, angular cheekbones, flawless beige skin, and wide, luscious lips. The triangular shaped stubborn chin set the framework for her huge slanted eyes. It gave her face a feline look. Thick, silky hair hung in straight liquid black lines to brush the top of her shoulders, softening the rigid set of her features.

Eric ran his eyes down her slim form, feeling his own body’s pulsing reaction harden even more. She was short by Volarnian standards, but her figure was well above average, with its slim lines and gentle curves.

Her breasts were small compared to busty beauties such as the King’s wife, but their rounded, pert shape caused his thoughts to wander afar. They look like they would be a perfect fit for my hands, or mouth. Shaking himself mentally, he tried to break free of his randy thoughts. He forced his eyes away from her tempting breasts and wandered down her athletic body. Its muscular beauty, like that of a panther, refueled his fledgling attempt at self-control.

“I see you’ve noticed my cousin, Kasha,” Jarvic spoke jovially near his ear.

“Yes,” he answered cautiously, turning his body slightly away.

“She’s quite a beauty, isn’t she?”

He turned back to the object of their discussion, staring in response. How could he tell this man he found his cousin the most fascinating woman he’d ever seen? That he’d never wanted to make hot, lustful love with anyone as much as he did at that moment?

“Would you like to meet her?” Jarvic clapped him on the shoulder.

The handsome warrior turned a cheerful, smiling countenance to him. If Jarvic did realize how much he was affected by his cousin’s presence, he apparently was not insulted, nor intended to point it out.

“Yes,” he answered, while his thoughts took a totally different route. I’d like to make love to your cousin until she stares at me with those wondrous eyes, as if I were the last man on Earth.

Jarvic started forward and he followed. The Tarthra ceremony had not started yet. The people were still milling and jockeying for better positions, so he and Jarvic had to wind their way carefully through the crowd. As they moved slowly along, his reactions cooled, and he noticed for the first time his psychic powers had been trying to grab his attention. That funny, tingly feeling which crawled about his scalp just before each premonition, caused him such discomfort, he had to reach up and scratch his head briefly.

While he continued to follow Jarvic, Eric attuned his inner ear. They stopped unexpectedly and he looked with wonder at the woman he would spend the rest of his life with, who would love him, and bear his children. This he knew, once he’.

Synopsis | Chapter One | Excerpts | Reviews | Reader Comments

HEART OF THE DRAGON
Sequel to Love's Captive by Myra Nour
Available to order from New Concepts Publishing

 

 
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