Today I want to share the latest addition to The Elementals’ Challenge series. Air Attack is book two with Water Fall to be released in another couple of months. I love Clea and Griffin. There’s something about their story that calls to me.
The last time the Elementals were defeated in a Challenge, the result was World War II—a price humans paid in rivers of blood. Griffin is determined not to let that happen again. He doesn’t need a minor goddess getting in his way—no matter how much the redhead tempts him.
Clea intends to invoke a debt of honor to gain Griffin’s protection, but she has an ulterior motive: to get within striking distance of Griffin’s opponent, who she is certain killed her brother.
She never expected to feel a spark with Griffin, disturbingly seductive as he is. In a world where everyone looks like a god or goddess, why should this one winged Elemental call to her?
Yet their attraction grows fiercer as they journey to Iceland, Luxembourg, and finally Portugal to face Griffin’s foe. But even if they prevail, Griffin is holding onto one last, deadly secret that proves the truth can survive any Challenge, but love may be its final victim.
As if in slow motion, the wood disappeared and sky emerged. The buildings and landscape were far away, rivers too distant to be seen as anything more than small ribbons snaking through the earth. Even Hallgrimskirkja, the Lutheran church that was currently the tallest building in Reykjavik, was nothing but a dot below them. Clea’s body stretched when gravity began to claim her.
Then she was falling much too quickly, the air plunging around her defenseless body. Her skin was pulling back from her face in a parody of the g-forces she had seen in movies where they simulated rocket travel.
She yelped once as she picked up speed. Clea took a deep breath, summoning her wind talents. The power gathered, a buzz starting at her fingertips and spreading to her palm.
Before she could act, there was a whooshing sound, but she couldn’t tell if it was the weather or Griffin. Currents swelled up from below, pushing against her, and Clea marveled at the precision it took to form the wind underneath. Then Griffin’s hands circled her waist, slowing the downward rush. It was similar to what he had done when he’d plucked her off the path to his mountainside home, but this time thousands of feet in the sky.
Clea’s breath rushed out in a sigh of relief at the feel of him. Even in the chill of the troposphere, he was warm, smelling of dew and musk.
His strong yellow wings flapped, each pull slowing their combined fall further.
She was sure it was only a few seconds, at longest a minute, before the horizon stopped rushing around her body and the wind slowed. To her relief, they now hovered in the air.
Patrik. She was doing this for him. She would have no interest in this Challenge if not for her brother. Otherwise, she would be far away from this battle. Madagascar, perhaps. There was a nice remote resort there where she could have explored the scenery. If not for Patrik, but there was the memory of her foolish brother who had tried to help Challenge and paid the ultimate price. She would fight this Amai, the Demonos with the ridiculous basket. She owed Patrik that.
“Come, let’s get back to my place.”
Currents of wind blew around and under them. Clea reached out to test the air. There was no need to supplement his gust with her own; he had more than enough. She cursed herself, wishing she had used her time to do more research before she had fled to the Elemental. She needed to know what Griffin’s strengths, and more importantly, what his weaknesses were. Only then would she know what to focus on and how she could help. She couldn’t lose any more family.
Inch by inch, her fear began to leave her as Griff’s strong wings beat in the currents. As they grew nearer, Griff again made the same hand motion he had before, and the sliding door pulled back.
A rumble of laughter echoed in him.
He deposited her on the floor, landing her gently on her feet. Clea’s hands and face lost their chill in the warmth of his remote home. To her dismay, her heart was pounding and when cold left her, beads of fear sweat bloomed on her body. Griffin poured her another glass of wine from the same bottle as before, saying nothing. His wings once again folded against his back.
“That was interesting.” Small ripples danced across the red wine as Clea curved her free hand around the stem. In another moment, she would be shaking. Too much had happened too fast. “Why keep the basket?”
“He doesn’t need it to maneuver in air, but he likes to let the unwary believe what they will. Don’t underestimate Amai,” he said, steel in his tone. “The basket may look stupido, but he is ruthless and dangerous. He didn’t kill my predecessor by being a fool.”
Hoping her voice was level, Clea met Griff’s gaze. “I have learned not to misjudge anyone. Danger comes in many packages. Still, you’ve got to admit, it’s ridiculous.”
He flashed something that might have been a smile, but it was gone before she could be sure. “That’s the point. It’s a natural tendency not to take the ridiculous seriously, and he has caught many people by surprise that way. He was made into his current form by the primitive people of Mangaia, and he chooses to keep the trappings of his creation.”
Griff didn’t move, but he was in her mind, beating at her shields.
“Let’s talk, Clea. Who is Patrik?”
She opened her mouth to speak but before she had any words, there was a crack of thunder. It was followed by another one, and another, until their surroundings seemed alive with electricity. Clea’s hair floated out and Griffin’s feathers stood up. There was a fleeting impression of a hooked nose on his face, like a beak. For an instant, he looked like the half lion/half eagle that was his other form, before it faded to his normal countenance.
Wind kicked up and swirled outside the house, whipping small trees at the bottom until their branches bent close to the ground. It picked up snow, sending it coursing through the air, and bits of debris whirled in the currents. Griffin still hadn’t moved, cocking his head to one side.
“Amai’s parting shot. He can be a child,” he said. “I’ll be right back.”
Since a griffin is part lion, I think my hero Griff qualifies as a big cat, don’t you? Tell me what you think of this excerpt? Have you read shifters that are outside of the standard realm of paranormal romance?