Trial By Fire (Going Down in Flames #3)

Trial By Fire (Going Down in Flames #3)

Chris Cannon

Chapter One

She must’ve been insane when she’d planned this. Sure it had seemed like a good idea at the time. Let’s throw a Welcome Back to School party so students injured in the attacks on campus would receive a formal invitation to return to school. This was meant to circumvent the Directorate’s policy of suggesting injured students stay at home with a private tutor. The Directorate’s sucky rationale? Something about culling the weak from the herd, which was total crap since the Directorate had failed to protect the students in the first place. So, this may have been her plan, but it was her grandmother and Jaxon’s mother Lillith’s idea that she host with him. She didn’t know what his problem was, but he was being more obnoxious than usual.

“Jaxon, I swear to God, if you don’t stop bitching, I will set your hair on fire.” Bryn spoke through clenched teeth as she smiled and nodded at the students streaming past her into the Welcome Back to School Gala. “Aren’t you supposed to have this fake socialite crap down to a science?”

“It’s not the greeting people I mind.” He nodded at a group of students who entered the dining hall. “It’s your proximity.”

That was it. She didn’t care what her grandmother and Lillith wanted. If she had to listen to Jaxon make one more rude comment, she was going to lose it and roast him like a marshmallow.

“Bryn.” Garret walked toward her, his dark complexion a bit pale for a Green dragon, his brown eyes appeared wary, and his injured left arm hung limp in a sling.

And now she remembered why she was doing this. “I’m so glad you came.” Only half of all the students injured during the attacks at the Institute for Excellence, aka shape-shifting dragon school, had been willing to return. The other less-than-perfect dragons had allowed the Directorate, the governing body of Dragon society, to bully them into private tutors.

A ghost of a smile crossed Garret’s face. “I told the Directorate my left arm may not work and I may not be able to fly, but my mind was still functional, and they owed me for failing to provide adequate protection. You should’ve seen the looks on their faces.”

“Good for you.”

Garret headed toward the tables where the Green dragons sat. The color-coding still threw Bryn sometimes. All the Greens had the same dark hair, eyes, and skin as Garret. All the upper-class Blues, like Jaxon, had golden-tan skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. The artsy Black dragons always looked a bit Goth with their ivory skin, black hair, and dark eyes. The middle class Reds seemed Irish with their red hair, green eyes, and freckled skin. The two lone Orange dragons with their bronze hair, skin, and eyes, looked Hawaiian. Since her mom had been a Blue and her dad a Red, Bryn didn’t fit in with any group of dragons. She wasn’t as thickly muscled as the Reds and not as graceful and lithe as the Blues. She’d changed her blond, red, and black striped hair to blond, to make peace with her grandfather, but she still didn’t blend in with the Blues. Far from it.

She envied the greeting Garret received from his Clan and loved that they acted like nothing was wrong. Then again, they were the smartest dragons, so it made sense they’d figured things out. Now, if only the rest of the Clans would catch up and realize the injured students didn’t reflect badly on them, life would be good.

“You think this is a positive development,” Jaxon said, “but you’re wrong.”

“That’s it.” Fire crawled up the back of Bryn’s throat. Smoke drifted from her lips as she spoke. “Get the hell away from me.”

“Gladly.” Jaxon stalked off to join his Clan-mates.

Bryn’s best friend, a Black dragon named Ivy, bounded over with her boyfriend Clint in tow. “I won,” Ivy announced.

“You won what?” Bryn asked.

“She bet you’d try to roast Jaxon within the hour.” Clint ran his fingers through his Mohawk. “I bet within the first thirty minutes.”

“You made it forty minutes.” Ivy grabbed Bryn’s hand. “I declare your door greeting duties officially over.”

Once they were seated at their usual table, Bryn sighed. “Finally, I can relax.”

Ivy’s eyebrows went up. “Maybe not.”

Bryn heard the click of high heels on the marble tile. She cringed. That had to be her grandmother, Marie Sinclair.

“Bryn, why aren’t you greeting people at the door?”

Turning to face her grandmother, Bryn gave a tight smile. “Most of the guests are here, my feet hurt, and I was five seconds from setting Jaxon’s hair on fire.” The woman could choose whichever reason she liked.

Her grandmother frowned. “It’s inappropriate to leave the entrance unless you find someone else to greet your guests.”

“This isn’t my party. It’s a school party.”

“That’s not what we discussed,” her grandmother said.

“I didn’t realize you meant I had to stand at the door all night.”

Marie Sinclair appeared unswayed.

Bryn pushed to her feet. “If I find someone to greet people, will that make you happy?”

“No.” Her grandmother said in her cold, upper-class Blue dragon tone. “But it will do.”

“Fine.” Bryn scanned the room. Who did she want to dump door duty on? Better yet, who could she convince to do it?

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