And welcome back to my world of dragons, intrigue, hot guns, fast cars and a grumpy, slightly anti-social Chimera of a Sidhe and an Unsidhe who really only wants to hunt monsters and go home to his probably carnivorous cat. My name is Rhys Ford and I’ll be your guide today as on July 14th, I’ll take you back to the Kai Gracen series for Book Four — Silk Dragon Salsa.
If you’re following the blog tour from the beginning, you can skip this bit and head to the serialized part of the story but if this is your first time with me, let me ramble a bit about my grouchy special kitten, Kai. I’ve used the past three books to set up his relationships and world and kind of settling him for what should have been a changing environment. He’s never really had a lot of contact with the elfin and never really wanted any. Ryder, the Lord of the Southern Rise Court, blew into Kai’s life like a hurricane with a grudge and Kai’s had to not only learn how to get along with the man but also adjust to the fact the elfin are in his life to stay. Not something Kai ever wanted. He was raised by humans, thinks of himself as human, and was pretty happy about it.
Then his world changed and he was dragged kicking and screaming and probably stabbing into a bit of elfin affairs even as he knew it would probably be the death of him.
And in Silk Dragon Salsa, I really turn his world upside down.
It was a long time coming and Kai, in his true quick-on-his-feet fashion, knows he must change with it. Because the Merged world is going forward — with or without his approval — and this time, he has a chance for a bit of happiness, if he can find it in the chaos storm hunting him down in Silk Dragon Salsa.
License to Stalk • Part Three
by Rhys Ford
“I hate salamanders.” This wasn’t news to Jonas. Especially considering he probably heard me say that exact same thing at least twenty times since we’d hit the tree line. “It’s like they’re pissed off because they’re not real dragons and gotta take it out on everyone else.”
It was a shit job. But shit jobs meant money in my pocket — well Dempsey’s pocket — and I liked eating.
Until — if — I got a Stalker’s license, I couldn’t claim bounty on anything I took in except for a black dog. The ainmhi dubh were like feral pigs, legal to hunt at any time of the year and anyone with enough guts to go after the insane abominations some Wild Hunt master dragged together from spare body parts could cash in on any state’s reward for its skin. The bigger the pelt, the bigger the payout and since no one could ever figure out a way to breed the bastards, any black dog anyone caught and killed was definitely one more monster taken off the land.
Salamanders were a different story.
They were a pain in the ass and came in different flavors, everything from the sleek, fire-gilled ones to the rhino-sized sewer dwelling monsters who liked to chew on concrete foundations. There was a make and model for any kind of trouble and the particular piece of shit salamander we were after today was a spotted Martin’s forest warbler.
Or as many farmers liked to call them… damned chicken munchers.
The diamonds I’d dug for would be enough to keep us going for six months but I didn’t like living too close to the edge. When we did, it was usually me that went into the dirty to get us out and if I didn’t dig through dragon shit again any time soon, I’d be happy. Dempsey tapped out of the run so it was just me and Jonas stalking the tree line. Montana was filthy with forests but there was enough clear land and townships to support a healthy farming and cattle industry.
Although a slimy reptilian predator the size of a lion and able to slither under chicken wire to eat livestock went a long way into making a rough, hardscrabble life even harder.
“You okay with getting your Stalker license?” Jonas dropped his hot little verbal ember into my lap, his eyes scanning the thicket for any sign of movement. “It’ll mean you being able to cut loose of Dempsey. Be your own man.”
I gave him a long look then answered, picking my way carefully through the pile of dead sticks and leaves as silently as I could. “I owe Dempsey my life. Not going to up and leave him now. If the old man needs me, I’m there. Just like always. Going to be a time when he can’t do this life any more. Got no savings. Don’t even have any land he can call his own. It’ll be my time to take care of him then.”
“Like you’re not doing that now?” He rumbled, stopping suddenly. “That it? Over there?”
“Nah, deer.” If we weren’t on a run, I’d have taken a shot at the buck. Venison was good eating and we had enough room in the solar-powered cooler in the back of the truck to hold at least a quarter of it. The rest could go to the families who’d hired us to hunt the salamander but now wasn’t the time. “Look, they might not even let me have a license. I’m not human. Shit, there’s still places I have to hide my ears and face so I don’t get shot when we go inside. It’s a crap shoot, Jonas, but one I’m willing to risk.”
“You’re just a kid, Kai.” Jonas sounded like he was trying to argue a point but I wasn’t sure what it was. “You should be in school, cruising for a Saturday night date so you can get your first kiss and complaining about doing homework. The family was talking about it and they’d like you to come down. Live with us in San Diego —”
“I’m not a kid, Jonas. Never have been,” I cut him off. “First kiss has come and gone. Just like my first kill. That life? It’s not mine. Save it for your kids because I’m not going to live it. Now let’s go find that damned slimy bastard so I can get something to eat. And on the way out, keep an eye out for that deer. Be nice not to have to pay for a steak.”