Series: Elementals' Challenge
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Release Date: June 19, 2017
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All her life, a faint memory of her parents and fire has glowed at the back of Rachel Quinn’s mind. With her parents long dead, there is no one to clarify what it means.
When a gorgeous winged man rescues her from a pack of werewolves, something flares to life inside Rachel. Suddenly she can see the paranormal world around her, a world unseen by mortals. And far more complicated.
When Phoenix’s massive orange-and-red wings erupt from his back, he knows his Challenge-an age-old battle against his Demonos counterpart-is upon him. Heeding Rachel’s cry for help adds a layer of complexity never seen in any previous Challenge.
Rachel, they discover, isn’t entirely human. Like Phoenix, she commands fire. Fire calls to fire, and soon they are succumbing to a fierce attraction. As the Challenge bears down on them, though, Phoenix must discover what the Demonos has in store for mankind. If he doesn’t succeed, the entire world will be swallowed up in darkness-and Rachel along with it.
“I am coming.”
As the room rolled, Rachel glanced outside several times and confirmed that nothing else was behaving the same way. This event was confined to her apartment.
The dream last night.
Red eyes and then dark mist, shadowy forms and a hiss.
“Open the door.”
“They” wanted her outside.
The dream last night. It hadn’t been a dream.
With that acceptance, for the first time since her fugue states started, the memory flooded back. The strange dogs/wolves, the winged man, the flight home. Although she had been unconscious, part of her mind had been linked to his, and she wasn’t sure if she was remembering or seeing through his eyes. There was the feeling of flight, the sensation of feathers on the wing and air currents passing them like strong wind in a storm, vivid in her mind.
Birds? Wolves? Red eyes outside? This is crazy.
“Open the door. Open the window. Let us in.”
The room still rolled, and even JT had started to settle down, as the rumble showed no signs of abating.
“I am coming. Don’t go outside.” It was the man’s voice, urgent, rushed and closer.
Was this earthquake real? Or was it in her mind? JT was feeling it, so it was somehow physically manifesting, but how? Her skin continued to heat and her forearms developed red streaks. Something deep within her stirred, an animal clawing to get out.
“Don’t open the door. Don’t open the window. Don’t go outside. I am almost there.” In the madness, the familiarity of the man’s voice reassured her.
“Open the door. Open the window. Let us in.” Rachel struggled between the two, trying to focus on the former and ignore the latter.
Rachel hung JT’s carrier around her shoulder and then clutched her hands to her ears, as if that could keep the voices out. She wanted to run, wanted to yank open the door and go outside, obeying the commands of the red eyes. It would be so much easier that way.
Vampires needed to be invited in, didn’t they?
She heard a whoosh and a rustle as if wings were settling. The birdman…she groped for the name, found it…Phoenix. She had no idea how she knew his name, but it was Phoenix.
“Shadow people. Not vampires. I am here.”
The voice inside her mind was different from the shadow people’s voices. Rachel’s body flooded with relief.
As if on cue, the room stopped shaking. The heat in her body began to subside. She still felt its lingering presence and saw the air around her shimmer as if a fire had burned in front of her.
“Get some things. You can’t stay here.”
Keeping JT slung over her shoulder, she grabbed her purse and a toiletry bag she always kept packed, tossed them into a handy tote, and went for the door. JT yowled, moving from side to side in the carrier.
Flinging the door open, Rachel gaped at the naked torso of the well-built man standing on her exterior landing. He seemed agitated, harried, his wing feathers askew. She squeaked but made no other sound when red eyes appeared behind him, several feet away but out of reach of his wingspan.
He followed her gaze and growled. The beings pulled back but still remained visible.
“Good thing you didn’t let them in.”
There was a hiss behind him. “Let us have the human.”
“Not a chance.” There was steel in Phoenix’s tone, something she wouldn’t have thought was possible when speaking telepathically.
“Come on, Rachel. We have to go. It’s not safe.”
The world was turning upside down in a big hurry, but staying there meant death. The shadow people, or vampires or whatever they were would find a way in sooner or later. The wolves would get her. Something. Something would get her.