by Elle Middaugh
(The Essential Elements, #2)
Publication date: July 24th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Valerie Moore is an Elemental, a person who commands one of the classical elements of wind, water, fire, or earth. She’s special, though. She controls two—fire and water—though sometimes it seems like they control her.
After the accidental exposure of Elementals to humanity, Valerie finds herself—and all of her kind—struggling to attain equality. Three different groups fight to secure leadership, and with all of their hidden agendas, she doesn’t know which side to choose. The balance between peaceful cohabitation and all-out war is precarious, at best.
When a chance meeting brings Val and earth Elemental Cade Landston back together, everything changes. She realizes what she knew in the beginning—that he’s the one she wants. Her desire to win him over draws her closer to him, and his vengeful mission to hunt down her murderous grandfather brings them both closer to trouble.
From mysterious doppelgangers to reckless rescue missions, scapegoat bombings, and evolving Elemental powers, Valerie strains to keep up.
All she knows is she must stop her grandfather at all costs. To do so, she has to figure out the truth, but how can she do so when almost everyone she knows has been telling lies?
Cade interrupted my disordered thoughts.
“I gotta go, Val. Nicholai’s getting too far away.”
Panic set in at the thought of losing him again, and before I could stop it, ice spread into a crystalized path between us. It wanted to reach out and hold on to him, to keep him there with me, and I could definitely empathize.
I know, it’s depressing, I thought to my element, but we can’t make him stay. Sighing, I pulled the water back in, feeling more connected to it than I ever had before.
“Sorry,” I said, my voice barely a whisper. I should’ve had the icy outbursts under control by then.
Every time Cade and I crossed paths, it was a small miracle, but any relief at finding him alive was eclipsed by the fear of possibly finding him dead the next time. The odds were stacked against us. The game we were playing was much bigger than us, and I was pretty sure neither of us had any idea what we were doing.
He bridged our gap in two steps and took my face in his palms. They were warm and smelled like cypress and evergreens. His green eyes were bright and buzzing with some secret emotion. I hoped it was longing, because then we could match.
The muscles in his jaw and neck were strung tight, like he was fighting something inside.
“No,” he said. “I’m sorry…for everything.”
Then he kissed me.
His fingers tangled in my hair and my body curled into him.
A light ignited in me, one I never knew existed. My soul felt like a sleeping star that had finally awoken and burst into flames. The shine of it radiated through my whole body, a blinding white light that blocked out the world around me.
My lips were so numb and tingly that I barely realized it when he pulled away. My feet were on the ground, but my mind was still floating up in space.
His chest heaved with uneven breaths. “And I’m sorry for that.”
I blinked slowly. I was certain the universe didn’t make apologies for moments of perfection. Besides, there was no apology in the world that could encompass what had just occurred.
He licked his lips and backed away slowly. “Not for kissing you, because god I’ve wanted to do that for so long…but because I can’t let it happen again.”
I blinked a little faster this time, reeling my mind back into reality.
“I need to stay focused,” he said, moving farther away. “And I can’t do that while I’m daydreaming about what I want to do to you.”
My breath caught and heat flooded through my body, burning like waves in my bloodstream. Knowing he wanted me too only made me want him more. I took a step forward.
He groaned. “And that look in your eyes is only making it worse.” He took a few more healthy steps backward before bracing himself against a tree.
My cellphone rang and I jumped. I glanced at the screen. Shit! I’d completely forgotten about lunch with Holden. My eyes leapt back up to Cade’s.
“Still trying to have the best of both worlds, huh?” he said.
“What? No, it isn’t like that—not anymore.”
“So that’s not Michaels calling you now?”
“It is, but—”
“Stop.” He shook his head, smiling cynically. I could see the muscles in his jaw tensing. “I have to go, Val. Just…don’t get killed.”
I forced down the lump in my throat, my heart aching.
I hated seeing him like that—jealous, angry. I never wanted to make him feel second-rate, and yet I consistently managed to do just that. How could I tell him how I felt without somehow making things worse? How could I explain what was happening if he wasn’t willing to listen? All I could do was stand there, lifeless as a stone.
He gave me one last painful glance before he all but disappeared. The Earth willfully hid him so well that he blended in seamlessly with the vegetation. I had no idea where he went, but I knew he was gone.