To the Other Side, Terra Series Book 1
Garrett Evergard is a finder of secrets. As a biologist and environmentalist, it’s his job to go into wild lands and uncover their mysteries in order to save them. In the Pacific Northwest, he races against logging lobbyists to save a section of temperate rainforest, but the forest seems reluctant to give up her secrets. Until a fateful meeting with a rare spirit bear opens the door to wonders beyond anything he’s ever imagine, the greatest of those being the beautiful man who comes to his rescue.
As a witch and Gatekeeper, Bryson Summers is used to living a solitary life. He lives between two worlds, Earth and Terra, feeling not fully part of either, and dreams of meeting someone who understands him. From the moment he sees Garrett, he believes – and hopes – he’s looking upon a twin soul.
Dragons, unicorns, and a witch with enchanting brown eyes, Garrett tries to make sense of a world so different from anything he’s ever known. But his mind and heart are open, and he finds himself drawn more to Bryson with each day they spend together. When Bryson and the gate that links the two worlds fall under threat, Garrett is willing to do all he can to protect them, even if it means facing down dark magic.
Garrett struggled through the black fog filling his mind. He could see the gray edges of it, knowing he was starting to come out of the dark labyrinth he’d been trapped in. He forced his eyes to open, and even though he only managed to part his lids to slits, the white light beyond stung and forced him to close them again.
He shifted on the bed, the warmth and softness of it and the blankets offering comfort to his aches, which grew in strength the more aware he became.
Garrett paused in his thoughts. Bed? Blankets? Where was he? A hospital? The last thing he remembered was the sunlight shining through the leaves, the chill of the stream water seeping through his clothes. Had he been found and rescued?
As his senses sharpened, he picked up someone talking, the voice male and gruff.
“He’s stable enough to be moved. Get him out of here.”
Another voice answered, also male, but younger, the tone deep and smooth, soothing and quiet. “We won’t know how stable he is until he wakes up.”
Accusation entered into the first voice. “By then it’ll be too late! He’ll find out!”
“Well, he wouldn’t be the first person who had. Obviously.”
Garrett lay unmoving, not that he was entirely sure how well he could move. He didn’t know where he was, but from the conversation, it sure as hell wasn’t a hospital. What’d happened to him? Had he been discovered by some backwoods people living in anonymity, and now his presence threatened that? Whatever it was, it sounded like he was in a bad situation and he needed to get himself out of it.
He didn’t know what to do. Should he alert them he was awake, or play dead until he could find out more about where he was and who these people were?
A soft thump on the bed to his right snapped him from his thoughts. He froze, holding his breath, straining his ears. His pillow dipped with something pressing down on it. He risked rolling his head slightly toward it, opening his eyes.
He shouted, flinging himself back toward the far side of the bed, nearly toppling over the edge. The cause of his surprise also let out a startled scream, reptilian hands flung upward as it tumbled backward off the bed.
Garrett sat upright, his breathing heavy. Footsteps pounded closer. Garrett looked toward the sound as the source crested the top of a flight of stairs. He met eyes of such dark brown, they appeared black, but even with the surprise and concern in the dark eyes, they were soft, gentle.
The man’s gaze darted from him to the floor on the right side of the bed. He rushed forward. “Wynny!”
The man slid down to his knees, disappearing on the other side of the bed. Cautiously, Garrett inched toward the edge, peering down at the man and the…lizard? No. Wait. The dragon.
No larger than a cat, the dragon pushed off its side to sit up, and was scooped into the man’s arms. Its scales were white, but as the light hit them, an iridescent sheen glistened over them. Two ivory-colored horns spiraled out from the back of the dragon’s refined, small head, which was held up on a long, slender neck. Triangular spikes, the same ivory color as the horns, ran down the back of its neck, back, and tail. The tip of its tail ended in a spear-like point.
The dragon raised one front leg, rubbing its head with its clawed hand.
“Are you okay?” the man asked it.
The dragon nodded.
“Flex your wings. Let me make sure.”
Neatly folded at his sides, the dragon extended its wings.
Each wing was more than twice as long as the dragon’s body. Delicate bones ran through them, held together by leathery white skin that had a slight pinkish tint as the light shone through it. Garrett looked to the man at hearing his sigh of relief.
“They look fine. Do you hurt anywhere else? Other than bumping your head?”
The dragon shook his head.
Garrett stared at the duo, amazed and confused by the interaction. The dragon—and that was a word that had passed through his mind way too much lately—seemed to understand everything the man said. And as for the man, he found himself feeling more enchanted by him, than by seeing another dragon.
Sweeping, sharp cheekbones accented the man’s Native American features. He looked young, probably in his mid-twenties at most. His raven-black hair hung straight and sleek past his shoulders. His left ear was pierced with a silver ring in the cartilage, a white feather and a black feather dangling from it. The light tan of his buckskin shirt and pants complimented his deep bronze skin tone. But it was the man’s eyes—the bottomless, dark eyes—with a lovely almond shape, that had his attention.
The man brushed a hand down the dragon’s back to the side of the spikes. “It looks like you’re going to be okay.” He looked up to Garrett, a smile curving his lips. “And it looks like our guest is going to be okay, too.” He glanced to the dragon. “The two of you startled each other, huh?”
The dragon nodded, tipping his head back to Garrett.
Garrett swore the dragon was smiling at him, and he got his first good look at the dragon’s eyes, a green radiant enough to shame precious emeralds, with pupils slit like a cat’s.
“How do you feel?”
The question asked by that quiet, calming voice pulled Garrett back to the moment. He looked to the man. “I’m…not sure. Physically, I feel like I got hit by a truck. Or, fell down a ravine, which I guess I did. I’m kind of lost for words on other things.”
The man laughed, deep and soft. Rising, he tucked the dragon in his arms. “I can understand that. You’ve just had a pretty big shock. And from my understanding, it wasn’t the first in the past couple days. But you’re safe here, so that’s one less thing for you to worry about.” He sat on the edge of the bed and offered his hand. “I already know your name, Garrett Evergard. It was on your driver’s license. But I should give you mine now that you’re awake. I’m Bryson Summers.”
Garrett slowly extended his hand, watching as Bryson’s long, slender fingers wrapped around it in a strong, but gentle hold.
“You look confused,” Bryson said.
A single, humorless laugh left Garrett. His voice was rough with disuse as he spoke. “That’s an understatement.”
Copyright 2013 by S.J. Frost and MLR Press