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Kimberly Loth Books

Aspen: The Dragon Kings Book Two

Aspen: The Dragon Kings Book Two

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Death came with one snap of the jaws...and suddenly everything changed.

Want a discount on the rest of the series: Check out the whole series here.

 

Synopsis

Death came with one snap of the jaws...

and suddenly everything changed.

Sid thought the deaths would end when Marcellus died.But he thought wrong.Reeling from the loss of those around him, Sid sets off, not only to avenge the deaths of those he loves, but also to find a way to save his own life.

But the closer he gets to answers, the more people he puts in danger.

Only Sid has the power to end the killer's reign. But it might cost him the one thing he holds most precious.

Download now to find the answer the one question everyone’s been asking:

Is Aspen alive?

First Chapter

SNOW STARTED TO fall as Sid drove into the parking lot. He supposed it was appropriate. He always loved winter because the snow covered the ground in a blanket of white—a beauty he looked forward to every year. Maybe this year it would cover the stain of the deaths that seemed to plague him.

Snow clung to his hair as he walked toward the church. A church he didn’t want to enter. Sid knew he should feel sad or angry, but mostly he was numb, and his mind was blank. He didn’t know what to think. Over the past few months, everything he knew about his own race, the dragons, was flipped on its end when one of them had started eating people.

Sid was tired of funerals. He thought for sure after they got Marcellus, he wouldn’t have to attend another one of these. But people were dying. People he cared about. He wondered when the deaths would end. His heart hurt.

Tori caught him when he walked in. She wrapped her arms around his neck and sobbed into his shoulder.

“I can’t believe she’s dead.”

“Neither can I,” he said and patted the back of her head. He wasn’t quite sure how to comfort her. They weren’t even friends. Or they hadn’t been since he and Aspen started dating. Tori pulled away a few seconds later and brought a tissue up to her nose.

“I was such a brat to her.”

“You weren’t that bad.”

“Yeah, I was.” She sniffed and lowered her eyes. “Do you think they found anything on her camera?”

Sid shrugged. He knew what was on the camera, but the police hadn’t released the details on that yet, and he wasn’t about to tell the biggest gossip in the school.

Tori squeezed his hand and gave him a small smile before she went and sat with her family. Sid spotted Aspen’s parents and Rowan. They’d saved him a seat.

He sat next to Rowan, who was red-eyed but not crying. Sid was never terribly comfortable with Rowan because Aspen’s brother always felt so much fear. When Sid was around him, he had to consciously shut off his gift of taking on emotions. Though today, Sid had enough sadness of his own that he shut off his gift before he even entered the church. He didn’t want to add everyone else’s on top of his own.

Aspen’s parents stared straight ahead, almost as if they were in shock. Sid took a minute to reflect on all that had happened over the last few days. It was strange to think that Halloween was only three days ago. That stupid party where Marc found Aspen, and Sid did something he never thought he’d do. He killed one of his own. His stomach lurched as he thought of it, even though he’d done the right thing. He swallowed a few times. Marcellus was a monster. They couldn’t allow him to live.

But it was the first time Sid had killed anyone. If he lived and reigned as king, he’d have to do it again, but he didn’t know if he could. As king, he’d have to pass judgment over dragons who broke the law. Most kings only had to exercise that power three or four times during their kingships, but that was three or four more times than he wanted to. Maybe the best thing to do would be to turn himself in and let the council dole out his own punishment.

Everyone quieted when the service started. Sid couldn’t watch as the reverend droned on for a while about what a good person she was, how she loved life and was so passionate. Sid agreed with all those things, though he might have added a few. Like her sharp eye and love for those around her even though she didn’t let on how much she cared. It was obvious the reverend had never spoken to her before she died.

A group of senior girls sang a song about dying too young. After that, they opened the service up to those who wanted to say nice things about her. Sid felt like he should get up and say something but found he didn’t have the words. He hadn’t known her nearly as long as everyone else had. He felt like a fraud even being at the funeral.

As the reverend got up to close the service, Aspen slid into the seat next to him, eyes blazing and hair flying in a million different directions. She took his breath away like she always did.

Sid raised his eyebrows at her. “Isn’t it a little rude to come late to a funeral?”

Aspen shrugged and looked away from him as she spoke. “She’s dead. It’s not like she cares. Besides, I was taking care of more important things.”

Sid looked down at her. “You could’ve waited. This is Mrs. Dufour’s funeral.” People around them started to get up and leave. Sid wasn’t about to let Aspen off the hook. Mrs. Dufour was her favorite teacher. He still wasn’t sure why she would show up so late.

Aspen crossed her arms, looked up at him, and huffed. “No. I couldn’t have. The media is releasing the photos this afternoon. I needed to make sure they spun it right. It has to be absolutely clear that there is no longer a dragon out there killing people. Between the pictures Mrs. Dufour had on her camera and the ones I got of you, uh, beheading Marcellus, we can show that the dragons took care of the problem themselves.”

Sid put his arm along the bench and pulled her close. “Why do you care so much, huh? We have resources, you know. The problem will fix itself.” He was pretty sure Aspen was lying to him. She had taken care of the media yesterday and had no reason to go this morning.

Aspen shrugged. “I don’t want to leave it to chance.” She shimmied out of his embrace. “She was the only teacher that actually liked me.” Aspen looked away from him. Her shoulders trembled, and her hands shook as she brushed her hair out of her eyes. She may not admit it, but this death affected her more than the others. Maybe she couldn’t handle this funeral. Sid had learned in the last few months that everyone dealt with grief differently.

Sid turned her face so she was looking at him. “It’s okay to be sad.”

“We were so close to ending the deaths. If she’d just waited a day to go out and take pictures, or if we’d caught him twenty-four hours earlier, she wouldn’t be dead.”

“You can’t play the what-if game. Marcellus killed her, and now he’s dead. He can’t kill anyone else. That’s something we should celebrate.”

Sid had been certain there wouldn’t be any more deaths. But park rangers discovered Mrs. Dufour’s camera the day after Sid killed Marcellus. Aspen’s dad had the camera. It had been set up on a timer to take automatic photos and captured the teacher’s death. It also put her time of death at two in the afternoon, and Sid killed Marcellus around midnight.

When Aspen’s parents found out she had been wandering around at night taking pictures of a murderous dragon, they were pretty pissed off. Ultimately, they accepted that the dragon responsible for the deaths was dead. The media was a little harder to convince.

Aspen fiddled with the edge of her coat. “She was always so supportive. She didn’t like dragons, but she always told me if she spotted them when she was out with the wolves. Now she’s dead. The pictures show she knew exactly what Marc was going to do. She must’ve been so scared.” Aspen’s voice cracked, and Sid pulled her close.

“I know. I’m sorry.”

She sobbed into his chest. He’d never seen her this upset before. He didn’t know how to handle it except to continue to hold her. After a few minutes, she pulled away and sniffed. He grabbed a tissue out of the box sitting on the pew and handed it to her. She took it, blew her nose, and straightened her shoulders.

“It’s time to go. The news will be on soon, and we need to make sure that they report Mrs. Dufour’s death as taking place before you killed Marcellus. We can’t let the government get involved.”

Sid nodded and took her hand. He pulled her out of the little church where they’d attended so many funerals in the last three months. He hoped he wouldn’t have to come back here. Ever.

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