Title: Incandescent (Hidden Races #1)
Author: M.V. Freeman
When fire meets a force of nature an Incandescent is born.
Laurie Hudson gave up “normal” a long time ago. Isolated from friends and family, she becomes a bartender for an upscale restaurant while she fights to suppress her strange affinity for fire. Around new owner Mikhail Petrov, her careful control disintegrates. She is at once drawn to his urbane, cool demeanor and irritated by his overbearing manner. Now she finds all of her hard won choices being taken away as she is catapulted into a world of Mages, Darks, and mysterious Elementals, all working just below the surface of humanity. As she learns to survive, Laurie realizes her freedom could mean the destruction of the frustrating man she’s come to care for.
A formidable figure in this strange world, Tri-Elemental Mikhail Petrov commands earth, air, and water. He doesn’t give a damn what the untrained Fire Elemental Laurie wants. Her rare power is the key to his freedom, and he doesn’t hesitate to seize her for his use—an act that propels him into a war he isn’t ready to fight. The cost could mean his life and the destruction of his people. With the Mages closing in, Mikhail faces a choice: destroy the fledgling relationship with Laurie to gain his coveted freedom, or sacrifice himself for hers.
Excerpt from Incandescent, by M.V. Freeman
“Are you saying you love me, Laurie?” His eyes had lightened a fraction.
Laurie allowed a bubble of laughter to escape her lips. Of course he was going to focus on what he wanted to hear and not on what she was saying. “You are the most frustrating man. Listen to what I’m saying…”
“I would listen if you were making any sense,” he mocked lightly. “Why can’t you answer my question? Is a simple question. Do you love me, Laurie?”
“Stop it,” she chided. Why was he so damn close? She tried to pull away from him but found herself backed up against a bookshelf with nowhere else to go. Traitorous goose bumps rose up along her skin as he brought a hand up to cup the side of her head. “I’m just saying you need to change your tactics, or think about it. What you’re doing now isn’t working—forcing people to do what you want all the time like you’ve been forcing me.”
Laurie looked up into Mikhail’s eyes, brighter now, anticipatory. She could smell the fading smoke from his cigar and the light scent of the spicy soap he used.
“Was your choice so very terrible?” he murmured.
“Jail, the Mages, or you. What do you think?” Laurie kept her voice even, but it was hard to think when he leaned this close. A light wind with a hint of fresh mown grass teased her hair and caressed her skin. The urge to reach up and run her hand along his lapel made her fingers itch, so she clenched her hands into fists.
“I’m asking what you think,” Mikhail said, and though she thought it impossible, he moved even closer. Laurie’s back pressed against hard wood; she felt it along her spine and legs.
“I never agreed to be your prisoner.” How the hell had she ended up in this position with him? And in this conversation?
“Is that what you are? My prisoner?” His breath fanned across her cheek, and Laurie was reminded of the last time they were in this library and the violence of their fight. At that time, she felt desperation and fear. Now she felt the desperation, but not the fear.
Mikhail leaned in, his lips millimeters from hers.
“Yes,” she breathed. “You can’t keep me here forever.”
“But I’m not ready to let you go,” he whispered, and his lips touched hers.