Sea Dragon's Hunger by Rebecca Rivard

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A mother and child on the run. A dark shifter with a secret. And the powerful fae who’s after them all.

*Awarded the RONE Silver Medal for Short Paranormal Novels*

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The fae were closing in.

Cassidy’s entire body prickled. She dragged a hand over her cropped hair and stared out the grimy motel window. But the parking lot was empty except for a few cars.

She rubbed the scab on her right calf. The center was a starburst with lines snaking around her leg, a souvenir of her last encounter with the fae. The bastards had hit her with a fae ball.

A small hand touched her hip. “What’s wrong, Mam?”

“Nothing for you to worry about, love.” She swung Rianna into her arms and planted a kiss on her worried little face. “How about a swim?”

At three, her daughter was still easy to distract. “Yes!” She pumped a fist.

Setting her down, Cassidy moved swiftly around the room, stuffing clothes and other necessary items into a waterproof rucksack. She’d have to leave whatever didn’t fit behind, but there was pitifully little, anyway. She and Rianna had been on the run for three weeks, crossing the Atlantic from Ireland and then zigzagging across America from Maryland to California.

Making their way to Nic.

She scowled, because she’d sworn never to ask him for anything. But she had no choice. Besides, Nic owed her. Big time.

“Let’s go.” She pulled on the rucksack and took Rianna’s hand.

The two of them raced down the hill toward the Pacific, a half mile distant. A human child couldn’t have kept up, but like Cassidy, Rianna was a sea fada, with a shifter’s strength. She ran alongside Cassidy for a good quarter-mile, sturdy little legs pumping. When her energy flagged, Cassidy swung her into her arms and continued running.

Cassidy’s injured calf burned. It should have healed by now, another worry. Normally the fada healed quickly, but the fae ball had left an angry scab that still hadn’t healed.

The sense of impending doom increased. Her heart pounded in her ears.

Hurry, hurry, hurry…

She drew a sobbing breath and picked up speed. Their pursuers were closer than she’d realized. She raced down the road and darted across the Pacific Coast Highway.

Above them, heavy gray clouds rolled in. The weather forecast was for a near-typhoon. Between the storm and the fact that it was Thanksgiving Day—a big American holiday, apparently—they had the beach to themselves.

Cassidy halted on the edge of the sand, her breath scraping in and out of her lungs. But there was no time to rest. Setting Rianna down, she shrugged out of the rucksack and tore off both their clothes. She shoved everything into the pack and sealed it back up.

Donning the rucksack again, she crouched down, her back to Rianna. “Climb aboard.”

The little girl wriggled into the special straps Cassidy had sewn onto the rucksack for her.

“All set?”

“Yep.” Small arms wrapped around Cassidy’s neck as she rose to her feet.

Hurry, hurry, hurry…

A jeep screeched to a halt on the side of the highway.

Cassidy sprinted into the ocean. Icy water slapped her naked legs.

“Stop them!” someone shouted. A bullet pinged into the surf to their right.

Rianna flinched and whimpered. A blinding rage gripped Cassidy. She knew it was only a warning shot—they wanted the little girl too badly to shoot directly at her.

But bullets could go astray, and even if they didn’t, they’d scared her baby. At that moment, if the arse with the gun had been any closer, Cassidy would’ve ripped his bloody throat out.

A chill blue wave towered above them.

“Take a breath,” Cassidy shouted to Rianna—and dove into the wave’s center.

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