What happens when the last group of Greywing dragons is discovered in the White Mountains of Nevada? The pod has been decimated by disease so when the government steps in to secure an asset with military value, they enlist the aid of the only expert on dragon behavior in the U.S. to oversee the recovery operation.
Two of the dragons are juveniles, young enough to rehab and train to carry the weight of a rider. The military arranges transport to a equestrian center in Hunterdon NJ, along with fifteen-year-old Nick von Freund, whose rodeo experience and knowledge of dragon anatomy and behavior makes him the first choice for tackling the difficult task.
The trip across country is fraught with difficulties, but when the dragons arrive at the equestrian center, the male and female, dubbed Michael and Nikita—two teenagers with tons of ‘tude—live up to their reputation.
Nick crooned, “Nikita, baby, come here sweet girl. We have a treat for you.” Nick flicked his hand at Keith who stood rooted to his spot, his right hand balling the licorice sticks into a sugary pulp. Nick hissed, “Keith. The licorice. Now!”
“S-s-sorry. I’ve never seen one up close before. She’s kinda big.” Keith raised a quaking arm and held out a wadded red bulb of candy with a flat palm as you would with a horse. “Here, girl. Uh, Nick? Is she gonna bite me? Oh God.”
“Shush. You’re fine. She just wants to smell your hand. Hold it out further.”
Keith reluctantly extended his arm. “Like this?”
“Yeah. Come on, Nikita. Eat your goodie.”
Nikita cautiously sniffed, nostrils quivering like aspen leaves in a stiff breeze. Zoning in on the licorice globule, she extended a sage green tongue, the split tip snaking toward Keith’s hand. Panicking, Keith backed away, his body a study in abject terror. Nick deftly slipped the halter over the dragon’s head, securely hooking the throat latch with a comforting click. He quickly attached the light weight chain with a leather hand-strap at the end.
“Here, hold this.” Nick handed the leather end to Keith who stared with blank eyes, near comatose with fear. “Keith! A little help here?”
Maxie gently eased Keith out of the way. “Let me do it. Hey, Nikita, pretty girl. Oh, look at you, you gorgeous thing.”
With a rich soothing, sing-song alto, Maxie lured Nikita to the edge of the door. The girl ducked her shoulder, beckoning Nikita with subtle body cues, still humming throaty assurances.
The femme paused, then stepped regally onto the graveled driveway.
Nick murmured, “Lead her over by the indoor, Maxie. I’ll get Michael next.”
Nick braced for what he knew was coming. Michael stood poised to lunge after his femme, the long elegant neck arched with anxiety. His cobalt blue eyes, ringed with a pearlescent green, flashed concern as Nikita sauntered away from the tractor trailer, meekly following Maxie toward the indoor. As Michael lunged, neck extended, Nick flipped the halter over his snout, clipping the latch at the last second. Michael landed with a thud and spun to face down his attacker.
AnnaLise moaned, “Be careful, Nick. He’s upset and thinks you are the poacher between him and his femme.”
“I know, Aunt Anna. It’s okay.”
Nick fingered the leather handhold on the chain lead, tugging gently to pull Michael’s head toward him. The male’s nostrils distended ominously, his lungs filling with oxygen, rapidly circulating through oversized arteries, ready to fuel the gland that acted like an oxyacetylene torch. Nick attempted to move to a neutral position on the male’s shoulder but Michael circled, following Nick’s every movement with precision and contempt.
“Uncle Dietrich? You better get everybody behind the rig. This bad boy and I have a little dance to do.” Nick nodded confidently to the group, now scurrying to keep the tractor trailer as a bunker between the agitated dragon and themselves.
Will called out, “Nick, keep him circling. Don’t let him get a straight-line bead on you. Remember that the flame comes out as a cone. You’ve got to avoid that.”
Nick nodded, never taking his eyes off the menacing male. “Okay, buster. You wanna dance? Let’s do it.”
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Treat your middle grade and YA reader with a fun adventure. And when they are finished, treat yourself.
LM DeWalt says: Uplifting, love story between humans and dragons
“As a teacher, I would definitely recommend my students read this book. It was fast paced and enjoyable. The dragons were quite the characters, In fact, all the characters were easy to know and esay to love. The hint of romance was just enough. I had a few laughs and a few moments of dread wile reading this also. I enyoyed reading this book and will probably read it again in the future. Well done, Ms Nelson.”