A Star Dreamling…

… appears and you’re in trouble. An excerpt from A Wicked Beginning, a paranormal erotic romance by Calinda B. Available in print and eBook.

Once they’d made it to the rocks at the edge of the river, they sat their kayaks and paddles down and looked back at the woods. Nothing… “Shit…” said Cam. “Could’ve just been a couple of coons. Let’s scout the river and head out. There’s only one tricky passage, and its right beyond the far corner there, up where that stand of trees is. The rest will be a piece of cake.” They picked their way along the rocky bank, climbing over boulders and pushing away brush. “There it is…Big Boulder Field.” Cam pointed to the series of rapids weaving in and around a long stretch of boulders. “I’ve done this run a couple of times. It’s a challenge, but fun. You up for this?”

“Oh, yeah!” Chérie said; her eyes bright with excitement.

Cam loved it when she got excited about the outdoors. It was a passion that they both shared.

“Here, Cam…let me tell you the route that I see. We paddle out and hang in the eddy there. Then eddy hop down to there.” She extended her finger. “Hmmm…what do you think about that hole? That looks like a big drop.”

Cam studied the flow of water. “Yeah, that looks hydraulic. Stay away from that one. I say we go for that spot right over there. See those two rocks?” When he saw her nod, he went on. “Just keep it steady through there. Shoot all the way down to where that tree overhangs the boulder…” He pivoted and pointed. “Watch out for where that last stand of trees is – I remember there’s a hidden rock in the boils at the end of the run. No carnage, right?”

“Right…”

They charged back up the riverbank in excited anticipation. Pulling on their spray skirts, they got in their kayaks and headed down the river. The water was moving at a gentle flow here so they laughed and talked all the while. Up ahead lay their fun run.

As the sound of tumbling water came into earshot, Cam called, “Okay, you ready for this?”

“Ready.”

“Follow me,” Cam urged, heading out into the current. Cam was an excellent paddler as well as all-around outdoor enthusiast. He lived for the adrenaline rush of launching 360 degree flat spins, or pulling single digit holds on an overhang while rock climbing. He’d been an adventure sports junkie since he was out of high school, finished with all the partying he’d done when he moved in with his Grandma Guinevere. He could study a rock wall and find a handhold that no one could see, just as he could read the rapids like a book. Hopping down the first set of cascades, he then steered towards the set of drops he’d pointed out to Chérie. Making a spontaneous decision, he veered right and took the more challenging drop, sailing off a big ledge and landing with a splash. He was in the zone, completely present, adrenaline pumping through his body. When he got to the bottom of the run, he whooped and eddied out, spinning around to watch Chérie. His face lit up when he saw that she’d done the exact same drop that he’d done. She aced it and paddled towards him, twirling her paddle overhead like a baton.

“That was awesome, Cam! Want to do it again?”

Cam laughed with delight. “Sure…haul out over there, and we’ll head back up the trail.”

On the next run, Cam sliced through the water in a roll at the bottom of the run, just for kicks. When he had tucked into the water’s edge, he swiveled around to see Cheerio do the same thing. Damn, she was a skilled athlete.

The next seven or so miles were filled with similar excitement; they’d boat scout the rapids then make the run, and surf, pirouette, flip, and roll through the ripples, waves, and eddies. Out here, amongst the trees and water, they were in their element.

When they’d reached a calmer section Cam called, “Okay, let’s head down to the SnoqYak Club.” They paddled side by side at a nice clip, chatting. Then Cam noticed more movement in the brush next to the river. He looked at the other side. Same as when they were heading down the trail. Two shapes were staying in sync with their movements.

“What’s wrong?” Chérie asked, catching his head movement.

“I think we’ve got company again. Good thing we’re in the river and whatever it is out there is on land.”

Chérie looked to the right and left. She became alarmed. “Cam…what do you think that is…?”

“Don’t be scared, babe. You know there are tons of critters out there. Could be coons, like I said, or even bears…”

“Yeah, but we’re moving pretty swiftly down the river. Those shapes are keeping up with us. I don’t think a raccoon could move that fast. And the bear would have to be running. The rustling in the trees doesn’t look like a big clumsy bear tearing up the woods.”

Cam looked to the right and left. “Good point… Tell you what…up ahead where that spruce is the river slows down a bit. Let’s paddle hard up to there. Then flip a 180 and stop.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea…to stop…? What if the things out there can swim?”

“Then we’ll find out, won’t we?”

“Yeah, I guess…” Chérie said in a hesitant voice. “Okay, Cam…”

They sailed along the current. The shapes kept pace. Then, at the place Cam had indicated, Cam and Chérie did two elegant U-turns, stopping in the center of the river. The shapes stopped. Cam and Chérie sat still, holding their position with their paddles, contemplating their next move.

“Look out!” Chérie said with a shriek.

The bushes parted and two shimmers of energy, like heat waves on hot asphalt, pulsed towards the water. Ripples then appeared in the edge of the water, moving towards their boats.

“Move, paddle back up the river, babe!” Cam yelled.

They paddled back up river. The shapes followed.

“I’m getting scared,” Chérie called.

“We’re going to do be okay. Turn around…now, hard turn, on the count of three, alright? 1…2…3…”

They flipped around.

“Paddle hard, push it! We’re close to the kayak club. There are always lots of people there. No animal would follow us there.” The hair on the back of his neck was standing at attention. What the fuck was after them? “Look…up there…we’re almost there.”

They both paddled swiftly down the river to the bank by the club. Cam’s friend Tony stood along the shore. He waved and gestured for them to head over. Cam took one look backwards to see…nothing.

“Hey, Cam, long time, no see!” Tony, a plain looking guy with a friendly disposition, was burnt red from too much time on the river. He wore a white t-shirt and shorts and a large brimmed hat. Reaching out, he steadied Chérie’s kayak as she pulled the spray skirt off of the boat and pushed out of the kayak. “Have a good run?”

“Hell, yeah!” Cam replied, unfastening his helmet and peeling off his life vest and drysuit. “Love that run. Say, Tony…did you see anything in the woods when we came down the river…or in the water? An animal or something?”

“Not a thing…” Tony answered, pulling Chérie’s boat out of the water. “I’ve been watching the water for a few, wondering when you’d get here. Didn’t see anything. Now, sorry to rush you guys, but I’ve just got a short time before I have to help some people get set up for a rafting trip. Let’s shuttle you back to your car.” He hoisted both kayaks into the back of his pick-up truck and opened up the passenger door. “Chérie, we’re about to turn you into a tasty ‘manwich’.” He winked at her before heading towards the driver’s door.

“After you,” Cam said, holding the door open and gesturing to Cheerio with his hand.

Cam slipped in beside her and slammed the door shut behind him. As they drove back to where the Land Rover was parked, they held each other’s hands, gripping them in silent communion and apprehension.

Find out what the heck the Star Dreamling wants with Cam Tyson. Get A Wicked Beginning, a paranormal erotic romance by Calinda B. Available in print and eBook.