The space surrounding Coy was dark. The only source of illumination came in the form of a spotlight. It beamed down on him, casting an artificial glow on his skin. He felt his heart beating, as if each thump were counting down the seconds before he was to begin. The other dancers scattered from their set in a flurry of smoke and bronze-painted skin. He was a statue below the crowd, solid and unmoving except for the drumming of his heart.
A wordless song poured from speakers and resonated throughout the space, its captivating beat making the crowd sway. They stared down at him, an audience of far too many for him to count. He knew they were all watching him, waiting to be enticed and amazed.
After all, he was the main event.
The staff felt light in Coy’s hand. His fingers pressed against the foam handle, each finding its own familiar groove. Fire clung to both ends, wicks dipped in paraffin so that the flames stayed lit even when he moved. He felt the heat from the blaze but did not fear it. He lacked the capacity to experience the pain of scorched flesh. His skin and hair never burned. One of the many perks of being a dragon.
The floor lit beneath his feet as he walked, large squares that glowed in bursts of white and purple with each step. He spun the staff above his head, weaving it between his fingers with swift flicks of his wrist. It slashed through the air, creating the illusion of fiery rings floating around him.
The other dancers stood on either side of him, heads bowed in a show of honor and respect. He was King of the Fire Dancers, teacher of everything they knew. His gaze shifted between them, counting the bandages wrapped around their limbs. A total of three between the six of them. He took pride in their improvement.
He moved the staff with practiced ease, guiding it through the air, around his shoulders, and beneath his legs. It became an extension of his body, a free-floating limb engulfed in flames demanding the eye of all who saw it. His body followed the staff’s path, hips swinging in time with the music. It became his dance partner, the two of them twirling as if their movements were responsible for spinning the world on its axis.
He felt the audience’s awe and their envy, heard their cheers, and saw their fists clenched in frustration. He knew some of them wanted to see him fumble, hoped that he would lose his grip and drop the staff. Their wish would not be granted. He would not give them the satisfaction of seeing him falter, of seeing him fail. He was better than all of them on his worst day and invincible on his best.
He continued to dance, heart racing from exhilaration. The floor became a blur of colors and flickering lights, the staff a golden ring of flames, spinning madly around him. The excitement in the air became a living thing—thick, intoxicating, and filling him to the point of inebriation.
He took his time, letting the anticipation build around him. Their shouts expanded his ego, inflated it until it threatened to burst. Finally, when it seemed as though they would explode from their enthusiasm, he exhaled.
An eruption of fire flared from his mouth like from a flamethrower. It cut through the air, one steady projectile that cut off just a few feet short of the ceiling. The audience’s cheers echoed off the walls, hundreds of people shouting his name in a frenzy of exhilaration and fear—that was the best part.
When he’s propositioned by a wealthy stranger, it seems Coy Conlin’s impoverished life is about to be upgraded. But before he can share the news with his family, he comes home to find his grandmother murdered and his little brother missing. To make matters worse, he’s thrown in prison along with every other shifter under the Sovereign’s orders.
August Seaton left his laboratory job at the Asuda Registry to become a Registry officer. But after a mission with his partner goes horribly wrong, August ends up with Coy’s dead grandmother on his hands, and Coy thinks he’s the murderer. Worst of all, his partner discovers his secret.
August is a shifter. And now he’s Coy’s cellmate. Coy and August must survive each other, abusive guards, and a scientist hell-bent on forcing Coy into a breeding program.
Teamed up, the pair escape prison and journey across the country. With the Registry hot on their trail, they have enough things to worry about. Falling for each other wasn’t supposed to be one of them.
NineStar Press: https://ninestarpress.com/product/king-of-the-fire-dancers/
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0747YRHS1
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2vF5mYR
Meet the Author
ST Sterlings is a librarian, and a mother of two (two boys, and one exhausting female GSD). She’s an avid fan of LGBTQ romance, and also loves the horror genre. She’s from Hampton, VA, but currently lives in Lancaster, CA.
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