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The Dragon Thief by Marissa Brandt

Read Online The Dragon Thief by Marissa Brandt Sci-Fi Book


Read Online The Dragon Thief by Marissa Brandt Sci-Fi Book
The Dragon Thief by Marissa Brandt


Overview: I have a dangerous secret. I'm more than a human, but less than a dragon.
My name is Isobel Drake. I thought I was the only one of my kind, a freak pretending to be human. But when a dragon warrior unexpectedly appears to demand my help, I realize for the first time in my life that I'm not alone.
Like me, Tam appears human. Like me, he's hiding his true nature. Too bad he’s made it clear that I’m a lesser creature. Yet he needs me because of my unique skills.
I was raised as human. I know my city inside and out. My brand-new business advertises that I can find anything, or anyone. Tam wants me to help him recover a stolen dragon egg. At first, I turn him down. Not only is he trouble, but he can't even pay me! Then the arrogant jerk tries to blackmail me. Nice try, but no.
But then, I find out more about Tam's quest, and I can't turn him away.
There are others determined to find the egg: evil vampires and sinister mages who lust after all that a captive dragon can give them: Accelerated healing from injuries. Immunity from sunlight. Boosted magical powers. They'll resort to savage methods to keep what they’ve stolen. The fate of a helpless hatchling lies in my hands. I can't turn my back on a vulnerable dragon child.
To save her, I'll have to work closely with Tam. I just hope I don't kill him first.

 

 Read Online The Dragon Thief by Marissa Brandt Book Chapter One


Yerba Buena, California

Friday, June 7



A flicker of movement at the top of the parking garage’s ramp caught my attention.

I spotted four men approaching us with purposeful strides. Two coming down the ramp from the parking garage’s third story, and two walking up from the second floor. All of them were dressed in loose dark pants and loose black jackets, and they moved like humans.

A breeze moving through the garage confirmed my guess. Yep, human.

And they were moving purposefully. I saw lumps and bumps under their jackets. They were armed. A robbery attempt. Great, just great.

Dragon’s blood was worth a lot of money to the right people. And Fynn and I had just handed over a crate of dragon blood vials to our middleman Claudio Diaz.

But how had they found us? We were always careful to meet Claudio in different locations for the handoff.

“Heads up,” I whispered to Fynn and Claudio. “Guys closing from both sides.”

“For real?” Claudio asked. He looked around. “Shit.”

“Yeah,” I told him as I continued to assess the situation.

Now that he’d been alerted, Claudio’s gaze darted nervously between the two groups of approaching men.

He was a couple of years older than I was, with short, neatly barbered black hair, smooth brown skin, and soulful dark eyes that usually shone with good humor.

A wealth of expensive and well-crafted tattoos decorated both of his muscled arms, disappearing up into the short sleeves of his white t-shirt. He was infallibly polite, had a good sense of humor, and he smelled clean and healthy with an intriguing hint of spicy cologne.

He liked to flirt with me whenever we met up to make a delivery.

I won’t lie. I thought he was nice. Nice and hot.

“Dammit.” Fynn threw a panicked glance in the direction of his brand-new pickup truck. Our weapons were out of reach, stashed behind the seats in the truck’s cab. “My sword.”

We’d just returned from our monthly trading run out to the Cache Peak Federal Dragon Reservation in Idaho. My adoptive father never ventured into a dragon colony unarmed.

Not that swords were much use against a full-grown dragon.

But under the terms of the human-dragon peace treaty, ranged weapons like crossbows and guns were strictly forbidden on reservations. And Fynn refused to go anywhere without a weapon. He had reasons.

“Go for it,” I told him, buttoning up my leather trench coat. “I’ll keep them busy.”

The coat was custom-made for me, knee-length and designed to resist dragon claws, with a layer of steel chain mail sandwiched between the midnight-blue exterior and the padded lining. Fynn had the same jacket, but larger. And in black.

If these guys were armed like I thought, I’d need the protection. No use taking chances.

The predator who lived inside me stirred and woke from its nap. My heart was pounding with excitement and nerves.

“Izzy, try not to kill anyone,” Fynn told me. Then he ran like hell for the truck.

“You’re going to fight them?” Claudio sounded incredulous. “Are you kidding me?”

“I had to work my butt off to convince those dragons to trade us their blood. Hell if I’m giving it away for free.” I grinned at him. “These guys want it, they’re gonna have to take it from me.”

I hadn’t fought for real in a while. Sparring at the neighborhood dojo didn’t count, since I always had to hold back.

“Well, I can’t let you do this alone.” With an air of resigned determination, Claudio pulled his gun from the holster attached to his belt.

It was a Glock 26, a nine-millimeter subcompact. Small, but deadly.

Claudio raised his gun in a two-handed grip and took careful aim at the nearest interloper. “Stop right there!” he ordered.

His target, the robber who’d gotten closest to us, immediately halted and raised his hands. “Don’t shoot! Please!”

His friends paused to assess the situation, then kept on coming.

I was pleased to see that Claudio didn’t take the bait and switch his aim. His hands steady, he kept the Glock trained on his prisoner.

But that clued me in to the next problem. Unless Claudio decided to shoot Robber #1 in cold blood, he wouldn’t be able to help me or Fynn in dealing with the other three guys.

That was okay by me.

Number one’s buddy, who I immediately thought of as Blondie, since he had long bleached hair tied back in a ponytail, was wearing a shoulder rig.

I moved to intercept him, putting myself between Blondie and Claudio.

Blondie drew his gun on me.

“Stop! Hold it right there, girlie!”

And make myself a nice target by just standing there? Yeah, right.

I ignored his order and closed in on him, running a zig-zag pattern. With excitement pulsing through me, I forced myself to move at human speed.

Blondie pulled the trigger.

The explosion echoed through the parking structure. He missed.

Call me lucky. Also, a realist.

 
TV shows and movies always forgot about this part. No matter how accurate they are at the shooting range, with plenty of time to aim and a stationary paper target, most regular folks become lousy shots when caught in a real-life situation. Stress, nerves, and unpredictably moving targets are all factors that destroy accuracy.

When caught in a firefight, even trained police officers manage to hit their targets only thirty or forty percent of the time.

Then I got close enough to move inside Blondie’s personal space.

I grabbed his wrist, forcing his right arm and the hand holding the gun out to the side. At the same time, I hit the side of his face with the elbow of my free arm.

It would have been easier just to tear his arm off and crush his throat…but Fynn had asked me not to kill anyone. So my plan was to make Blondie drop his weapon and then knock him out.

Besides, with Claudio here, I needed all my moves to look as human as possible. Even if it meant drawing out the fight and letting these guys land a few hits on me.

Ugh. The last thing I wanted or needed was a black eye or any other visible injuries. I hated drawing attention to myself, and a woman sporting bruises always drew the wrong kind of attention.

To my shock, though, my opponent didn’t go down when I hit him.

Then he broke my hold on his wrist with a clever twist of his arm.

Before I could react, Blondie shoved me, hard. It sent me stumbling backwards.

My butt hit a parked car. Lucky thing, because it kept me from going down.

I caught a faint whiff of something in his scent that stirred recognition.

But before I had time to analyze it, Blondie was on me. His fist drew back, aiming for my vulnerable throat.

I tucked in my chin reflexively. His punch landed on my jaw and sent me sprawling over the trunk of the sedan.

Ouch.

And also—what the hell? Blondie was strong. And fast. Way too much to be an ordinary human.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the remaining two robbers sprinting in our direction from the bottom of the ramp.

I pushed off the car and lunged for Blondie. If he shot me at close range, he probably wouldn’t miss. And my coat had been designed to resist dragon claws and bladed weapons, not bullets.

This time, I didn’t hold back as much. I barreled into him before he could raise his gun, and sent him reeling into one of his buddies, who was just coming up behind Blondie.

I grabbed Blondie’s arms and tried to knee him in the groin. He twisted his lower body with snakelike grace, freeing his right arm from my grasp. My knee missed his privates and hit his hip instead.

His buddy, who was lugging a big, lumpy duffel bag, moved in again.

I shot out my leg and caught Bag Dude full in the midsection. The breath shot out of his lungs with a deep grunt. He folded over and went down.

I bared my teeth at Blondie. My blood was pumping now, and my inner predator was excited and very happy. It had been years since I’d been in a real fight.

My early years had been a tooth-and-claw struggle to survive, and I still wore the scars. But ever since Fynn adopted me, my life had been gentler. Kinder.

I’d allowed myself to get soft, because it was easier to pass for human that way.

I hoped that wouldn’t come back to bite me now.

Blondie snarled back at me and began hammering my face and head with a rapid barrage of punches.

It hurt. The metallic taste of my own blood filled my mouth as he forced me back against the nearest vehicle. My shoulders hit the side of a tall SUV as he trapped me in place.

I growled. I don’t know what he saw in my expression, but he hesitated for a split second.

It was long enough for me to grab his free arm. I spun on my heel and flung him down to the concrete floor.

The truck door slammed. I threw a quick glance in Fynn’s direction. He’d retrieved his sword, silver-plated for extra effectiveness against supernaturals like vampires and shapeshifters.

The fourth robber, a big guy with a military-style buzz cut, moved in and began to fight my dad with what looked like an extra-long nightstick.

Buzz Cut was good. But Fynn spent a lot of time at the dojo, practicing with his sword. He was good, too.

 
Yet to my shock, Buzz Cut disarmed him almost immediately, sending his sword spinning away down

 
I grabbed him and threw him against the nearest concrete pillar, harder this time.

 
Movement in my peripheral vision alerted me, too late. I spun to face Blondie’s buddy Bag Dude, just as he swung his lumpy duffel bag at me.

 
It clanked dully as it crashed into the side of my head.

 
Pain exploded through my skull as I went down backwards. My vision blinked out for an instant, replaced by a shower of fiery sparks in blue and gold.

 
I lay there for a moment, trying to get my breath and my sight back.

 
Then I spotted Bag Dude stepping in, duffel raised high to pound me again. I scrambled to my feet, ducked under the arc of his swing, and tackled him into the nearest car, punching him the whole time.

 
A bunch of people were going to be really unhappy when they finished shopping or doing whatever and returned to find a bunch of dents and scratches on their vehicles.

 
Dammit. This wasn’t fun. At all. Especially with my inner beast champing for the chance to take these two guys apart, limb by limb.

 
If it had just been Fynn and me, I would’ve ended things on the spot.

 
But with Claudio’s gaze darting between his prisoner and my fight, I couldn’t afford to give away too much about my true nature. And I sure as hell couldn’t chance using my claws. Dammit.

 
Instead, I’d have to keep letting Blondie and his friend use me as a punching bag until I could put an end to this fight in a way that wouldn’t expose me as nonhuman.

 
Bag Dude tried to clobber me with his duffel again.

 
“Oh. No. You. Don’t,” I told him, punctuating each word with another punch.

 
Then I tore the duffel out of his grasp and flung it down the ramp. It hit the floor and skidded, rattling and clanking like a bag filled with scrap iron. Then, before he could react, I yanked him forward, away from the car where I’d pinned him.

 
I continued my movement in a smooth arc, swinging him around like a dance partner. I released him at the apex of the arc and lashed out with my right leg.

 
Bag Dude flew halfway down the ramp before crash landing and skidding into a pillar.

 
“Izzy! Behind you!” Claudio shouted.

 
I spun to face him an instant a bare instant before Blondie tackled me. The weight of his body crashing into me sent me off-balance in the same direction that Bag Dude had just gone.

 
But thanks to Claudio’s warning, I was able to pull Blondie down with me.

 
Time to start fighting dirty.

 
We rolled down the ramp together in a tangle of flailing limbs, each of us frantically grappling for a hold that would put one of us on top when we finally came to a stop.

 
As we tumbled over and over, I took the opportunity to wield my claws, slashing through Blondie’s black knit top and penetrating his side. Blood, hot and sticky, gushed over my fingers.

 
Blondie screamed hoarsely. I pushed him away and vaulted back onto my feet.

 
He followed me up with a stream of shouted curses, punching and kicking.

 
But now he was hurt, and it slowed him down. And he was clearly mad as hell, operating on pure rage and bloodlust. His movements lost a lot of their calculated accuracy and precision.

 
As he came after me, I did my best to keep retreating steadily, letting him get just close enough to me to encourage him to pursue me further down the ramp. I wove and dodged his blows, easily managing to stay out of arm’s reach, landing the occasional punch or kick to keep him too angry to think clearly.

 
I needed to lure him all the way down to the second story, out of Claudio’s sight line. Then I could finally cut loose.

 
Even with their unusual strength and speed, the two goons currently trying to take me down wouldn’t last long against me. The real me.

 
We made it to the bottom of the ramp. Blondie was staggering now and holding his side. The skin exposed by the tears in his pullover glistened red. A wide patch of his pullover was sodden and shiny with scarlet moisture.

 
“You…bitch…!” He panted and glared at me as I drew back my leg for one last kick. This time, I didn’t plan on holding back.

 
His gaze flicked past my shoulder. That’s all the warning I got, but it was enough. I ducked reflexively.

 
The duffel bag flew over my head, close enough to ruffle my hair. And hit Blondie square in the face with a heavy clanking sound.

 
Blondie toppled backwards. His eyes rolled back into his head. He didn’t try to throw out an arm to stop his fall, so I guess he was out cold before he hit the ground with a heavy thud.

 
I winced as I heard his skull crack against the ground. Ouch.

 
I whirled to face Bag Dude, who was back on his feet.

 
His right hand behind him, as if reaching for something at the small of his back, he rushed me.

 
The slim blade of a knife appeared in his hand. He grinned at me with triumph gleaming in his dark eyes.

 
But we were finally at the bottom of the ramp. Almost where we needed to be.

 
I deliberately widened my eyes, trying to look scared. Helpless.

 
And then backed away. Just a few more feet…

 
Bag Dude took the bait. I could almost read his thoughts. Maybe I’d put up more of a fight than he’d expected, but I was just a girl. And unarmed.

 
Easy prey.

 
I continued backing away as his grin grew wider. I even added a flinch when he began weaving a pattern in the air with his blade, jumping back or ducking when he tried slashing at me.

 
Whetting his appetite for my terror and my blood.

 
Then we were around the corner from the ramp and out of sight of Claudio and the others.

 
And I was done playing.

 
I crouched and returned his grin. Not prey.

 
He froze, and I saw a moment of indecision.

 
Then I was on him, moving with my real speed.

 
I broke his wrist with one twisting yank, sending his weapon flying out of his hand.

 
Without releasing my grip, I forced his arm behind his back and then up, and kicked at the backs of his knees. He collapsed, falling forward. My knee in the small of his back, I forced him down until he face-planted into the unyielding concrete.

 
He didn’t stop fighting, though. Trying to use his greater body weight against me, he rolled.

 
I released his wrist and let him flop onto his back, exposing his belly and throat to me.

 
I readied my claws as he came surging up to a sitting position.

 
Then, almost too late, I remembered that Fynn had told me not to kill.

 
I growled in frustration. Instead of disemboweling him or tearing open his throat, I grabbed his upper arms, claws digging into his biceps. I twisted.

 
He screamed as the tendons and cartilage in his shoulder joints popped and tore.

 
I slammed him back down, hard enough to concuss him. “Stay,” I ordered him. “Don’t make me hurt you even more.”

 
He snarled up at me.

 
I leaned down and added softly, “You still have both of your arms. You want to keep it that way?”

 
Bag Dude blinked. Whatever he saw in my expression made his eyes widen. The steely tang of terror infused his scent.

 
“I—I’m done,” he managed.

 
“Good,” I purred, straightening up. “That’s what I wanted to hear. Because if you try to get up, I’ll make sure that you can’t. Ever again.”

 
I turned away from him and kicked the fallen knife away, sending it spinning under a parked car twenty-five feet away. The suspiciously heavy duffel bag followed.

 
What the hell was in there, anyway? Weapons? Spare car parts?

 
Whatever. It didn’t really matter.

 
I wiped the blood away from my split lip and headed back up the ramp to rejoin Fynn and Claudio.

 
“Bloody hell, this was supposed to be an easy job,” complained a smooth voice.

 
I looked up the ramp.

 
While I’d been taking care of Blondie and Bag Dude, Fynn had won his bout against Buzz Cut.

 
Cradling his bleeding arm against his chest, the big man sat next to Claudio’s prisoner, their backs against the body of a low-slung sports car.

 
Claudio kept steady aim on both of them with his gun.

 
But the robbery attempt—or whatever it was—wasn’t over yet.

 
The newcomer was an angelic-looking young man with shoulder-length curly brown hair, blue eyes, and pale, flawless skin. He had the pure, masculine beauty of an angel in a Renaissance painting.

 
And he stank. It was an unforgettable combination of meat on the verge of rotting overlaid with the sulfurous reek of the magic that animated him and gave him near-immortality.

 
Crap. Vampire.

 

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