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Dreamwalker (Stormwalker #5)

By:Allyson James & Jennifer Ashley

Chapter One

Mick and I were in Flagstaff, in a tiny Chinese restaurant in a strip mall, when everything started.

Once we’d cleaned our plates, Mick feeding me the last bits of his shrimp shu mai with his chopsticks, the waiter dropped a double handful of fortune cookies on the table. Because Mick always ordered lots of food when we came here—dragons could put it away—we got extra fortune cookies for dessert.

I loved the cookies, crunchy and sweet, and with messages inside. Not magic, just life lessons. I broke open the first one and read it out to Mick.

“A foolish man seeks only wealth; a wise man seeks happiness . . .”

Mick grinned at me, a sparkle in his blue eyes. My friend Maya had taught me the game of adding words to the end of the fortune to alter its context.

“ . . . in bed,” I finished.

Mick, amusement in place, shredded plastic wrap with his thick fingers and cracked open a cookie one-handed. He dumped the cookie pieces into his mouth but held out the fortune to me. Did I see a spark of magic on his fingertips?

“You will find much happiness tonight,” I read. “ . . . in bed.” I studied him. “You’re cheating.”

“Could be.” Mick chose another for me.

I read out loud, “The man sitting across the table from you loves you, in all ways, in all places, but especially . . .” I trailed off. “It’s amazing how specific these can be.”

“Yep.” Mick’s gaze held fire.

What a sweetie. If you can find a man who’s big, gorgeous, inked, powerful, extremely protective of you, can turn into a dragon, and is playful as well—keep him.

“Here, let me open one.” I grabbed a cookie before he could work his magic on it. I couldn’t cast spells as well as Mick, but I could play along. I took the cookie from its plastic wrap, broke it open, and pulled out the slip.

Your sister is in danger. I stopped myself from adding in bed just in time. I stared at the bit of paper, black writing on white background.

Mick’s playfulness fled as he studied my expression. “What is it?”

I handed him the fortune. “Did you do this?”

Mick’s eyes narrowed. “No. Open another.”

The next slip I pulled out said, Go help her. Now.

“Where is she?” Mick asked me after he’d read it.

“She’s supposed to be in Many Farms with my grandmother.” My heart squeezed. “Helping my dad and Gina with their wedding plans.”

More cookies lay on the table. Mick looked at them then plucked one up at random and handed it to me.

The crinkle of plastic was loud in the silence, as was the snap of me breaking open the cookie. I pulled out the slip.

In all capitals, it said, WINSLOW. JUST GO.

I didn’t stop to ask the question of why my half sister Gabrielle was in Winslow when she should have been at home with Grandmother. Or how some being was sending me messages through fortune cookies that she was in trouble. With Gabrielle, anything could happen. I jumped up and headed for the door.

Mick paused to toss a wad of cash on the table, plus he scooped up the broken pieces of cookies and shoved them into his mouth. A dragon needs his carbs.

***

Flagstaff is roughly an hour from Winslow on the freeway, in good weather, but the journey is much faster when you’re with a dragon who drives like a maniac. I clung to Mick’s back on his big Harley as he slid and swerved through traffic, heading into the twilight.

We reached Winslow pretty quickly, the chain stores and few restaurants on its three-exit stretch of freeway flashing past. The main town is a grid of streets between the freeway and railroad tracks—the tracks are a main line that runs across the country and on into Los Angeles.

It wasn’t hard to figure out where Gabrielle was. From the freeway, we saw the crowd of vehicles—county, town, and state police—grouped in front of a convenience store. Mick took the last exit ramp and headed for it.

He pulled up in the parking lot of a typical in-and-out convenience mart with a tall concrete awning, gas pumps in front, ice machine on the side.

The glass door was closed, the neon sign that said the store was open pale in the darkness. I heard screaming within, but a thick cloud of smoke filmed the windows, obscuring the view inside.

The police had surrounded the building, but I knew I needed to get in there. I slipped past the officers before anyone could stop me and headed for the door. The door was locked, but a tiny spell took care of that. Mick had been teaching me his tricks.

I walked in to find chaos. The place had been wrecked. Food was strewn everywhere, boxes broken open, chips and popcorn crunching underfoot. The spigots on the soda machine were all on, sticky liquid spewing all over the floor.

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