Today's the day! Nico's Fire, The Elements of Love #2 is released with Silver Publishing! I hope you all enjoy it. Nico and Jude were so much fun to write and their story is full of love and angst.
This series is taking me through the elements of nature and I'm loving each one. They are so unique and the range of mythical creatures unveiling with each element is proving to be much more of a challenge than I'd ever expected. Some of these creatures will require stories of their own, and probably separate from this series but I can't tell you how much fun I've been having diving into books of old mythology. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Jude Jamison is a Jesuit Inquisitor, part of the pope’s force of special investigators. He suspects his cover has been blown as he’s been under constant attack. Without the gargoyles his friend Evan sent along as his guardians, and a strange ability to start fires, he’d already be dead.
Nicolai sees a gargoyle circling a smoldering building. He investigates the rare creature and is totally unprepared for the discovery of his human mate, lying amid the rubble. After waiting two millennia to find his mate, fate must be laughing. A human will never survive in his world. Yet he’s unable to leave the beautiful man behind.
Together can the two find a way to survive? Is this love’s first fire?
March 22, 2216—Café courtyard Paris, France. Mid-morning.
"Are you sure you have to go?" Evan picked up his croissant and bit into the flakey pastry.
"He's my boss. When he calls, I go. He did say you and Adel weren't required to come to Rome, in fact it almost sounded like he'd prefer you to remain in France." Jude sipped his espresso. There was nothing quite like a spring morning in Paris to calm the nerves.
"He doesn't like it that I refused to come to Rome. Now he's taking it out on you by making you go to him. Should I be wary of being attacked when you leave?" Evan glanced about the courtyard. There were a few shoppers, but mainly the morning was pleasant and quiet.
"No more than usual. Besides, even he knows with Adel and all the gargoyles of Notre Dame surrounding you, there isn't a safer person in this world," Jude teased.
"I want you to take Fin with you. Regardless of what you think, you need a keeper, Judas Jamison. If nothing else, do it for me so I know you are safe. Take Skye too, because I know he won't be happy if you are gone and he has to stay with us," Evan chuckled at Jude's grimace. "Pout all you want, you can even say no if you like. I'm still sending them with you, so deal with it."
"Fine… whatever you want, oh mighty Elemental. Your word is my command." Jude rolled his eyes, grumbled and sipped more espresso. Although he wanted to be mad at Evan for insisting, he really did like Fin and would appreciate the company.
"Just keep an eye on them while in Rome. I don't want to hear that they were crushed while you were in a meeting with your boss."
"I get it, keep the gargoyles safe. I won't let you down, Evan."
"Really, it's not the gargoyles I'm worried about. I want you to stay safe. You're my friend, this fire thing is unnerving, and nobody seems to know what's going on with you. I want you to be careful and come back."
"I will." Jude looked down at the table.
"I'm serious. Promise me you'll contact us if you need anything," Evan insisted, reaching over and taking Jude's hand.
Jude looked up, plastering a confident smile on his face. "I promise. If there's anything you can help with, I'll contact you right away. Besides, it's probably going to be a quick trip and I'll be back bugging you about croissants and peanut butter before you know it."
"I like putting peanut butter on my croissants. Especially when they're hot, the peanut butter just melts all over." Evan grinned, allowing him the subject change even though he must have known Jude's issues were far from settled.
"But you get all sticky," Jude complained. "How can you eat that and still not get all messy?"
"Practice." Evan laughed as Jude just shook his head.
As written by the scribes and entombed in the Church Archives:
To date, the Church has recognized 5 types of Elemental beings:
1) Earth, being the rarest and least-often born. Only two known in all of Church history.
2) Air, being the second rarest.
5) Fire, being the most prevalent, most destructive and volatile of all the beings.
No other information is contained in the archive as to their purpose or powers.
* * * *
July 12, 2216—Present
The distant crunch of tires on gravel should've been alarming, but it wasn't. They'd been on the run practically from the moment they'd left Evan and Adel in France. I hope they're all right. Jude was the eternal worrier. He hadn't had a chance to contact them, to see if they were being hunted as well. At first there just wasn't time, they'd needed to stay ahead of their pursuers—now time had run out. As he lay, broken and bleeding, he prayed that Evan was okay, but exhaustion overrode everything else, and he felt too tired to really care.
Jude's mind wandered aimlessly in a numb, painless haze; he'd expended way too much energy in order to destroy the demons. He thought of Finton—last time he'd seen him, the little sprite had swung his sword and decapitated a vile looking creature, that'd kept coming even without its head. It must've been some sort of zombie. Fin had been defending the entrance, but he'd eventually fallen to their greater numbers. Usually there were just a couple of them, but this time they just kept on coming. Jude couldn't remember where Skye had gotten to; he just prayed the little gargoyle was okay. Evan would have his hide if either one of them had been hurt. So tired. It was becoming a mantra, going round and round in his weary mind.
If only I could pass out. Jude felt as though he was waiting for something—maybe death. That particular entity must be having a busy night since he hasn't come to collect my soul yet. Jude closed his eyes and groaned as something sharp poked him in the back, from the rubble beneath him. His senses registered the pain yet he was so far beyond mere sensation that Jude's mind could barely acknowledge it.
A decidedly masculine voice floated through the fog of Jude's thoughts. It was deep and warm. It made him want to curl up into it and sleep for an eternity. Is this the voice of death? The sound of flapping wings accompanied the voice and a familiar sing-song warble made him want to smile. Ah my Skye, good, he's okay. Jude would know Skye's song anywhere; he was still alive and obviously close by.
"Come on you beautiful bird, this place isn't safe for a gargoyle. You're too young to be on your own." The voice crooned softly. Even in his less than stellar condition, the velvety sound of it touched something deep inside Jude.
"Oh God!" The voice shouted. Jude would've winced if he could've moved. He felt a hand touch his arm and forehead. "What happened?" That touch so—warm and gentle, he felt bathed in the heat of it.
The urge, the desire was primal. A basic instinctual part of himself reached for this other blindly. He wanted to whimper and rub himself against those fingers, but that would take too much effort, although the aching need to do so hurt almost more than his battered body. Jude wanted to answer the voice, but instead he forced open his eyes. He wanted to see the face that belonged to such a melodic voice. His gaze latched onto the most beautiful brown-black eyes Jude had ever seen. He reached up with one hand and touched the man before him; he sighed as peace overwhelmed him for but the fleetest second, before darkness closed around him.
* * * *
"No!" Nicolas Daemarkus screamed to the demolished room. The gryphon screeched, rising up on his haunches, flapping his wings furiously.
Fate was truly a bitch. How could that fickle woman play with him like this? Nico had questioned the urge to follow the gargoyle when he'd first seen it circling the abandoned building, but gargoyles were so rare these days and this creature was way too young to be on his own. Now he couldn't be happier or more distraught at the same time.
The man he knelt beside was a mess of wounds and infection, blood and dirt. For all that… he looked incredibly beautiful and fragile to Nico. The man's temperature was cool to the touch, but then all humans tended to feel cool to Nico and his brother. Still, for a human, he's too warm, almost feverish. He brushed the long red hair out of the man's face, wishing those beautiful green eyes would open again.
"My poor little human, what's happened to you?" Nico practically whimpered with distress. Something he hadn't done in centuries, as nothing touched his heart anymore.
Nico knew he needed to get the man to safety. To call the burnt out building hazardous was an understatement; the structure barely held itself together, still smoldering in places. He didn't know if he dared pick up his beautiful human—he might have broken bones or internal injuries, which could be made worse by his interference. He trembled with indecision, but he saw no other way to do it. He had to get help for him and there'd be none if they remained here. He carefully ran his hands along thin arms and legs. Nothing was obviously broken.
Nico growled, decision made. He gently slid his arms beneath the man and drew him against his chest, finding him far too light for a human his size. He could feel the bones poking from under practically translucent skin—far too thin, but again his mind registered that the bones weren't broken. Thin—Nico knew how to fix. Now, if he could just get the man to safety and get him to open his eyes. The steady fluttering heartbeat reassured him that his prize was very much alive and Nico intended him to stay that way.
The gryphon flew out of what had once been a third story window after glancing out, seeing no one below. Nico followed, clutching his precious cargo securely in his grasp, tight against his chest to keep from jostling him. He landed on the ground, three stories below, with the gentle grace and ease of a dancer stepping from one room into the next. He sprinted to the car, where he strapped the guy into the passenger's seat. Nico couldn't resist the urge to nuzzle his passenger's neck as he secured the seatbelt across him. He smelled wonderful: like burning cedar in a fireplace, and spice, overlaid with strong male musk. This scent spoke to Nico, confirming what he'd known on sight. This man belonged to him—well, he did, if he survived.
"Easy, little one," Nico whispered more to himself than to his unconscious passenger. His instincts were screaming to take him and claim him, but the beautiful redhead was in no condition to satisfy the flaming lust flowing through Nico's veins like molten lava. He adjusted himself, trying to relieve the strain on his raging erection that pressed against the zipper of his black dress pants. His protective instinct was the only thing keeping him from ravaging the guy on the spot. He'd protect this human, even from himself.
"Don't give up on me," he whispered and couldn't resist the briefest brushing of his mouth against plush red lips. His human was beautiful, his skin soft and pale as alabaster, with just a smattering of freckles across his high cheekbones and nose. Nico straightened and closed the car door, then ran around to the driver's side.
Pulling out into the street and heading as quickly toward home as he could, Nico was never so glad that traffic became nearly non-existent after dark, thanks to the mandates of the Church. Even here in the heart of New York City, people were careful about moving around after the sun went down—not that the night would ever hold any dangers for him. He hit a button on the dashboard of the car and called his brother.
"Hey Nico, what's up?"
"I need a favor. A friend has gotten hurt. I'm taking him home. Can you meet us there?"
"Sure Nico, but maybe a hospital would be a better choice?"
"No!" Nico growled. "This is personal, Doc. Please—"
"Okay, Nico. I'm on my way."
"Thanks, Doc. I owe ya."
"Yeah—so what else is new, Bro."
Nico hung up and glanced at his passenger, reaching out and touching his face with a shaking hand. "Please—hold on."