By: Leia Stone

I was just chugging my third glass of water when I sensed a stirring within me, and a heat from behind me. My dragon was slithering inside of me, pulling me, forcing me to turn around.

I shifted slowly and saw that Logan was leaning in the entryway, his eyes thin slits as he watched me. He wore dark-wash denim jeans and a vintage tight t-shirt, and I could smell his wood essence from here.

He cleared his throat. “Did you find the sandwich?”

I nodded, motioning to the empty plate in the sink as he crossed the room over to the counter I was leaning on and pulled out a barstool.

“I will answer any questions you have to the best of my abilities, but first you need to answer a few of mine.”

I shrugged. “Fair enough.”

He nodded. “First. What’s your name?”

His question surprised me, it was so normal. I hadn’t realized until now that I had never told him my name.

“Sloane. Sloane Murphy.”

Something crossed his face, an emotion I couldn’t read, and then it was gone. He extended his left tattooed hand. “Logan Sharp.”

I took his hand in mine and immediately the heat coiled in my belly, throbbing. Yanking my hand back, I played with the texture of my jeans to distract myself.

Logan looked tense, muscles tight and features drawn. He looked … like he was in pain.

“Are you okay?” I asked tentatively. Maybe me pulling my hand back so abruptly offended him. I didn’t know what dragon shifter greeting protocol was.

Inhaling, he took a deep breath and looked more relaxed. “Fine,” he grumbled. “Just usually more in control of my dragon.”

I nodded, because I understood. I had zero control over mine.

“Speaking of dragons…” He pinned me with a stare. “How the hell are you one?”

I recoiled. “What? You’re supposed to tell me that!”

He opened his arms as if to say he was as in the dark as I was. Great. I groaned. This guy was supposed to have all of my answers.

“I have no idea,” I told him. “One second I’m a human hiking along the rim of the Grand Canyon, and the next I’m falling—my body rips in two and becomes a dragon freak show.” My dragon stirred at that and I got the sense she didn’t like me calling her a freak show. Were we separate? It felt like we were. Kind of. Wow. Sounded like a multiple personality disorder. Maybe this was all a part of a massive paranoid delusion? I thought I was a dragon and now I was having delusions that I met another hot male dragon. Yikes, I needed to be committed for sure.

Logan stood quickly and began pacing. “Hold on. You were a human for twenty-one years and only recently transformed for the first time?” His voice was coated in shock.

I threw my arms up. “Either that or I’m having paranoid delusions!”

He stopped pacing and gave me a look filled with pity. “You’re not crazy. I saw your dragon with my own two eyes … but it’s not possible. When dragons are born, they transform right after hatching. They flit between human and dragon a dozen times a day in their first year as a youngling. The hunters would have gotten to you then.”

At some point I must have grabbed my head, because I was massaging my temples.

“I was born in a hospital, as a baby. A human baby. I have pictures and all that. Like I told you, I just recently turned, or whatever you call it.”

He was pacing madly around the kitchen, chewing a fingernail and wafting his yummy scent at me as he passed. “Who’s your mother?” he asked suddenly.

A pang of sadness went through me at the random question. “She’s … dead. Died of breast cancer when I was sixteen.”

He stopped pacing and gave me a look that you would find at the pound right before an animal was euthanized. “I’m sorry to hear that. She was … your real mother?”

I snapped my head back, offended. “Yes! Red hair and all!” I tossed a lock of my crimson hair up in the air.

He put up his hands in defense. “Right. Sorry. And your dad?”

I chewed my bottom lip. This guy was getting awfully personal when he had yet to answer any of my questions, but I could see where he was going with this. “He died before I was born. But my mom never mentioned he was a dragon,” I added sarcastically.

Logan chewed on another nail. I wasn’t sure he would have any left by the time this conversation was over.

“Even if your father was a dragon, it wouldn’t explain why you never transformed for over twenty years. And it sure as hell wouldn’t be possible without a female dragon to mate with.”

I shrugged and stood as well. I didn’t like being looked down on. How was I expected to answer all of these questions? I knew nothing about this new and terrifying world.