Bridges Burned (Going Down in Flames #2)

Bridges Burned (Going Down in Flames #2)

Chris Cannon

Chapter One

On the drive back to school, Bryn reflected on how her life had recently gone to hell. It had all started when flames shot out of her mouth on her sixteenth birthday, proving she wasn’t completely human. Since then she’d been shipped off to a secret school for dragons—the Institute for Excellence—where she was learning how to control her shape-shifting dragon powers. She’d faced discrimination, death threats, and poisoning. She’d been blown up and involved in a battle to the death with a radical Revisionist member—and she’d been there for only a few months.

Though not everything about her new life was bad. She had a sexy boyfriend, Black dragon Zavien Blackthorn, and two good friends, Clint and Ivy. Being a crossbred dragon meant she had both the Red and Blue dragons’ breath weapons, fire and ice, and even though she was the only crossbreed, she could still outfly even the fastest Blue. Of course, that’s why some of the other Clans hated her. She’d upset the natural order of things in this color-coded world, where the Directorate dictated what Red, Black, Green, Orange, and Blue dragon Clan members could do as a profession and whom they could marry. It was absurd. Yet most dragons didn’t question it.

Part of Zavien’s appeal lay in the fact that he headed up the student Revisionist group that petitioned the Directorate to change outdated laws. Bryn glanced at Directorate lawyer Merrick Overton, who was driving the Cadillac SUV hybrid she was riding in. Her classmate and former nemesis Jaxon Westgate rode shotgun. She and Jaxon no longer hated each other. Scratch that: he no longer hated her based on his father’s vendetta against her mother, but that didn’t mean they were friends. Funny how saving someone’s life could turn you from enemies to…what? Not friends. Frenemies, maybe? Who knew? It’s not like she wanted to hang out with him, but there was a weird level of trust between them now that she didn’t know what to do with.

God, what she wouldn’t give to close her eyes and wake up at home with her mom and dad, sitting in the living room eating popcorn and watching bad television. But the Directorate would never let that happen. She was stuck. Stuck in this weird shape-shifting dragon world where she still didn’t know all the rules. And half the rules she did know were total crap.

Time to concentrate on happier things. Zavien’s black spiky manga-like hair and his dark eyes came to mind. The hypnotic buzz of the tires on pavement lulled her to sleep.

“Bryn, you’re home.” Merrick Overton’s voice woke her. Her feelings toward him were mixed. He was a lawyer for the Directorate, yet he’d helped to protect her life. When they’d first met he’d offered to act as her benefactor, which meant keeping her as his mistress and supporting her after graduation. The reason he was still alive and breathing? She hadn’t known what the word “benefactor” meant at the time.

“Home?” She sat up, expecting to see her parents’ apartment. Instead, they were back at school. She covered her disappointment with a yawn.

“Good-bye. I hope we won’t see each other again soon.” Jaxon nodded like he hadn’t insulted her and headed for his dorm.

“The feeling is mutual.”

Merrick chuckled. “Come. I’ll escort you to your room. I want to check the new security.”

Not many students were out wandering the sidewalks or flying in the sky. It was Sunday evening, so everyone was probably relaxing or finishing up homework. She yawned for real this time. More sleep. That’s what she needed.

Auburn-haired men with the muscular build of Red dragons walked the campus wearing uniforms that matched the guards at the front gate. That was new. The fact that her grandfather had swayed the Directorate to increase security on campus for her protection was amazing. Then again, most of the Directorate had family members at the school, because no one escaped attending the institute. Every single shape-shifting dragon had to attend from junior year of high school through college graduation, which sucked.

Not that the campus was ugly. Far from it. The old stone buildings and the meticulously kept grounds were almost too perfect—Stepford-creepy-level perfect.

A light wind ruffled the leaves, which looked like they were ready to turn. Bryn inhaled the crisp air. “It smells like autumn.”

Merrick smiled. “Winter is around the corner.”

“Do all Blue dragons love winter?”

“We do.” He winked. “It’s in our blood.”

“Maybe that’s why I like fall. It’s between the hot and cold seasons like I’m between the Red and Blue dragons.”

When they reached their destination, Merrick opened the door to the dorm. A small camera above the door pulsed with a tiny red light. “The surveillance cameras appear to be functional.”

Each hallway had its own camera. Good to know someone was taking note of who entered the building. Maybe that would cut down on people breaking into her room and leaving her poisoned carrot cake, because almost dying from a dose of Dragonbane was not something she wanted to experience again. Once was enough, thank you very much. When they reached her room, she opened the door with the key and flipped on the overhead light. Two wooden rolltop desks sat on opposite ends of the room with their uncomfortable wooden chairs. A black couch and gray chairs flanked the mahogany coffee table.

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