Today I am so pleased to welcome Cari Z to Joyfully Jay. Cari has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Luckless. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!


Thanks so much for having me, Jay! Today I’m posting an exclusive excerpt from my new M/M dystopian fantasy novella, Luckless, available exclusively at Amazon for the moment. Get ready for monsters, dragons, and guys who don’t know when to quit 😉


Evan’s free hand clenched into a fist. “It’s not safe for a dragon to fight on the ground.”

“It’s probably not safe for any of us down there right now. At least he’s big.”

He was big, but that was part of the problem. Big creatures could be overwhelmed by enough small ones, and when they didn’t even know what was causing the tremors . . . Evan watched Gorot and his rider land, somewhat ponderously, on the ground in front of the wall. The dragon sprayed fire, illuminating the path ahead as he made his way forward. After a few hundred feet, he stopped and lowered his muzzle to the ground, then breathed a gout of flame that went straight down, vanishing into the rubble. The tremors abruptly cut off.

“Found an entrance.” Charlie smirked. “Whatever it is down there, he’ll burn it out now.” A few of the other watchers cheered, but Evan kept his eyes on Gorot. It was easy to get caught up in the might of a dragon, their size and strength, and not remember that they had weaknesses as well. Dragons were creatures of fire and air, but put them on the ground or in water and they floundered.

With the brightness of the flames diminished, Evan’s night vision returned. He stared into the darkness surrounding the dragon, not sure what he was looking for but feeling like this was—well, it was too easy. Monsters were never easy, especially not ones that could make the entire city quiver. Marble, at least, hadn’t had to worry about tunnelers; it had been built on solid granite, whereas here—


“Look there.” Evan raised a hand and pointed out into the darkness. “Look, do you see the movement?”

Charlie squinted into the distance. “How can you see any damn thing in this gloom? What’re you looking at?”

“I don’t know, it’s— It looks like a worm. Or a snake, maybe. It’s dark, but there, just ahead of the long piece of rebar—”

“I see it,” Charlie said grimly. Other people were beginning to notice it too. “What the hell is that?”

Whatever it was, it was heading straight for Gorot and his rider, and after another few moments of staring, Evan realized that it wasn’t the only one. “There are more—five, six that I can see.” He whirled toward the nearest turret. “They should signal them to get out of there.”

“Don’t be hasty. What’s a little worm compared to a dragon? He’ll probably just—” Charlie’s insistent confidence blew away as the first of the creatures reached Gorot. It slammed into his side, and a moment later the dragon let out a deafening roar. Not just of anger, but pain. He clawed at the creature, but it stuck fast in his flesh, and seemed to be burrowing deeper. Another reached him, then another, attaching themselves like leeches and digging in. Evan knew Susan had to be firing on them, but the arrows didn’t seem to be having any effect.

“We have to get down there.”

“He can still save himself,” Charlie argued, but when Gorot screamed again, she blanched. “Damn, why doesn’t he just fly back to the stadium?”

“And bring those things into his breeding ground? Not a chance.” Not to mention, Gorot might actually be in too much pain to take off. “We need to get pikemen down there, pry those things off of him.”

“Or at least get the gunners to step up to the plate. Ivan!” She turned and ran toward the turret. “Ivan!”

Evan let her go, his mind working a hundred miles a minute. He already knew what Ivan would say—they couldn’t fire on the worms without risking hitting Gorot and Susan. Forge wasn’t equipped to send out ground troops, especially not at night. The city relied on the wall and air support too heavily—there probably wasn’t even a garrison stationed at the single city gate. But Gorot wouldn’t last long without help, and they couldn’t afford to lose another dragon.

Evan couldn’t watch them lose another dragon.

He snatched a pike out of the nearest man’s hand and levered himself up and over the edge of the wall before the stunned fighter could even shout.


Evan Luck is a dragon rider with no dragon. Five years ago, his dragon gave her life defending the monster-ridden remnants of Marble, and ever since, his ability to connect empathically to another dragon had been as broken as his heart. Now he spends his days dodging his disappointed mayor, crafting arrows, fighting off the not-as-legendary-as-they-should-be beasts that’ve overrun America, and just trying to get by in the city of Forge.

But when he meets newcomer Lee Caldwell, Evan thinks his lonely luck might be changing. Lee is the only person in the city who doesn’t blame Evan for his dragon’s death, and he welcomes Evan into his own little family. There’s more to Lee than meets the eye, though, and between his refusal to talk about himself, pressure from the mayor to split them up, and a monster attacking the city’s foundations, Evan isn’t sure he’ll live long enough to learn the truth.

But not learning the truth will almost certainly be fatal, both to Evan and Lee’s budding relationship, and to the entire city.


Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a house, and said, “See ya!” She also started writing then, because it was a good way to entertain herself with no electricity. She writes award-winning LGBTQ fiction featuring aliens, supervillains, soothsayers, and even normal people sometimes.