Rebel Dragon (Pearls of Desire Book 1)(2)

By: Anna Lowe

Did you like my gift? I thought you would.

No, she didn’t. Not one bit.

She sat back, forcing herself to take a deep breath. There was no reason to be paranoid. Everything was going according to plan. She’d taken a circuitous route to the airport, and only her closest family members knew where she was headed. Now that she was on her way to Maui, she could finally relax.

Or try to, at least.

She kept perfectly still, tuning into the hairs on the back of her neck. They weren’t registering the slightest hint of I’m being watched — not the way they often had over the past few weeks, so that was promising. She’d never seen her stalker — well, not that she knew of — and frankly, she never wanted to. She just wanted him gone. Forever. She wanted her freedom back, her innocence. The ability to wake up and enjoy a day without the feeling of impending doom hanging over her head.

Except she couldn’t, not with the specter of some creep sneaking up on her from behind and—

She cut the thought off and fidgeted with her bangles — a gift from her mother, who’d died a long time ago. So long that Jenna had more memories of memories than direct recollections of her mom. But deep in her heart, she held on to the lessons her mother had taught her and her dad had reinforced. Life was for living. Enjoying. Making the most of each and every day.

So, no, damn it. She wasn’t going to let her imagination run away from her. Especially not when she was traveling to beautiful Maui, where she’d be able to talk to her sister and figure things out. Not only that, but she would make the most of an incredible opportunity to apprentice with a master surfboard shaper for a few weeks.

A phone pinged — not hers, but with a tone just like hers — and her eyes snapped open again.

“Welcome aboard,” the flight attendant said as each new passenger filed by. “Welcome aboard.”

Jenna scrutinized each and every one. Even if they appeared normal, you never knew. Her eyes darted from the near to the far aisle, checking every man against a mental lineup of shadowy faces provided by her imagination. There was a tall, pale guy who looked a hell of a lot like a vampire — up until the moment the woman behind him handed him a baby and rooted around in a diaper bag. Okay, so maybe he wasn’t a vampire, just a really overworked dad. But what about that fiftysomething woman with long, unkempt hair who scowled as she shuffled down the aisle? Was she a witch, maybe? According to Jody, there were all kinds of supernatural beings living secretly among humans.

Jenna closed her eyes. She would drive herself crazy if she kept this up. Any minute now, a perfectly normal human would take the seat next to her, and the worst that would happen would be a conversation that dragged on for too long.

Still, her heart beat faster as witch lady approached. But the woman passed without so much as blinking in Jenna’s direction. An older woman in a flowery Hawaiian dress moved past next, flowing more than walking, almost like the fairy godmother Jenna had always wished for. Then came a scary-looking bald guy in a rumpled suit and a too-wide tie, and Jenna’s nails dug into the armrest. Was he a vampire?

She inhaled and wrinkled her nose at his body odor. That meant she could strike him off the lists of suspects. According to her sister, vampires had no smell. So as long as Tie Guy didn’t sit next to her, she was okay.

“Twenty-six D, right over there,” the flight attendant said, making Jenna gulp. A moment of truth, because that was the seat next to hers. But she couldn’t see past the next couple in the aisle — a happy twosome who looked like they’d come straight from a wedding chapel. It was only when the groom turned his head to kiss the giggling bride that the view behind them finally opened, and Jenna’s mouth cracked open at the sight of the next man in line.

Not the man of her nightmares. More like the man of her dreams.

He had dark, piercing eyes — an intense green with a hint of brown. Below them were thickly muscled shoulders and a chest a mile wide, construction-worker style. His gray T-shirt couldn’t quite contain his bulging biceps, and his jeans were just snug enough to show off a tapered waist.

Jenna’s eyes went wide. Even a woman on the run from supernatural beings could stop to admire a good-looking man, right?

His short brown hair was spiky and a little mussed, but he didn’t seem to give a damn. Another passenger stood for a last stretch — a big islander — then hastily sidestepped at a single, expressionless look from that man. Then he strode right up to her row, checking his boarding pass, and even that little motion made his chiseled forearms bulge.