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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Claire Davon's "Fire Danger" Blog Tour


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Fire Danger
(Elemental’s Challenge Series, #1)
by Claire Davon

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.



Available for purchase at

        


Excerpts


“Stay back!”

The whoosh of his wings manifesting startled Phoenix, knocking him off-balance. They gathered behind him, sticking up from his body. Phoenix immediately crouched, his hands in front of him, trying to identify the cause of the danger.

His wings had so consumed his attention that it took him a minute to realize there was a voice in his mind that rang through like a bell. He jerked to a standing position.

“Get away from me!”

The mental voice was shrill and panicked. His wings unfurled fully, looming like large orange-and-red shadows above him.

“Dogs. Scary dogs. Too close. Snarling. Stay away from me.”

Not his danger.

His workout DVD was no longer an option. Phoenix pressed Stop on the player, simultaneously reaching out with his mind to find the source of the signal.

“Big dogs. Too big. Run. No, don’t run. They’ll chase you.”

The voice inside his head echoed. Phoenix opened the large plate-glass door that led to the patio of his hillside house and sought a direction.

The voice was female.

She was in trouble.

She was mortal.

No, he revised immediately. Not mortal. The strength in her mental cry meant something else ran through her veins, something that gave her the ability to call to an Elemental, even inadvertently.

“Nice dog. Handsome dog. Pack. A pack. Run! Run!”

He plucked the impression of very large dogs from her brain. He paused, revising his thoughts. Wolves. Werewolves.

Did this call for his intervention? It was not his concern.

The wings on his back did not appear idly. It was a lie that he wasn’t involved.

Perhaps other paranormals would help her? He cast out mentally, searching for any sign that someone besides himself had heard her cry for help and was acting.

There were plenty of additional minds, but none seemed to be interested in her plight.

Typical. Most paranormals had a disregard for humans that bordered on disdain. Except she wasn’t human. He recognized that she thought she was; perhaps that was why nobody appeared to be going to her aid. Whatever the reason, no help was imminent.

His task, then. Even if his wings hadn’t appeared, he couldn’t ignore the cry. Why, though? Why this mortal—or whatever she was—and why now?

Answers would have to wait. With a hop through the open door and a glide onto the wind, Phoenix was in the air. He soared upward, his red-and-orange wings unfurling fully when he found a good current. Focusing, he determined the source of the altercation was several miles from his current location. Oakland, east of San Francisco. Industrial. Dark. Perfect for an ambush.

The tableau started to coalesce as he got closer. Faint yips met his ears, an aural indicator he was heading in the right direction.

“No, don’t come closer. Fuck, dead end.”

Her distress propelled him to speed up, engaging his wings to make the most of the current.
The lights got dimmer as he approached the destination fixed in his mind. There was little traffic in this dilapidated part of Oakland. Many of the streetlamps were out, so there were long stretches of darkness, broken only by ineffective pools of weak light.

A woman stood her ground in the corner of an alley sandwiched between two large warehouses. She was trapped between the high fence guarding the property behind and the beasts in front of her. Werewolves, Phoenix confirmed as he got closer. Untrained, young, stupid werewolves. Their black-tipped fur told him this was Fenley’s clan. Running in a pack, the wolves clearly thought they were invulnerable to anything but other predators of the night. Just stupid wolves out for some fun, terrorizing the local population, toying with a human.

Silently landing behind the wolves, Phoenix folded his wings, and they slipped behind his back until they looked like another grouping of large muscles on his already massive frame.
The woman who had inadvertently sent out the distress call looked over. Only the widening and slight shift sideways of her eyes told him that she had seen him.



“I could drown in his eyes,” he heard her say, and he chuckled. Rachel flushed. “That is still taking some getting used to.”

“Yes.” His fingers laced through hers and his grip firmed, squeezing gently. He kissed her, his lips grazing hers, and pulled her against him, tucking her head against his shoulder.

He could hear his heartbeat, slow and steady, in her mind. She radiated uncertainty, fear.
“It’s crazy to let someone see who I am,” she said. “You’re going to see my ugly side and never want to know me again.”

“I am not those people. I am not one of your mortals to be so easily scared by a few dark secrets. I have more than my share.”

She sighed and relaxed a little bit more. The scent of fear and adrenaline was acrid in his nostrils. A part of him that hadn’t felt anything for a long time surged to life.

“I want to know,” she said. “I can feel something shifting inside me, like a dam breaking. I don’t understand who or what happened, but I want to know.”

He swallowed, cupping her face in his hands. “Let me in and let me see if I can discover what you really are.”

Her reluctance was plain in a fearful look in her eyes. He hated that she wasn’t meeting his gaze. He hated that she was afraid. But there was no way to avoid the process. They needed to do this.

“Okay.” Her voice was tremulous. When she met his gaze, to his relief there was strength lurking in the blue depths.

He took both her hands in his. Then he opened his mind to hers all the way, leaving himself bare to her. Her shields went down, the small ones she had erected only recently, and the deeper, instinctive ones she had carefully locked around her innermost self.

Images. Her parents at the water. He saw the world through Rachel’s child eyes, and he worked on orienting himself. That memory was only a fragment, and he went deeper, searching her mind for the answers there.

Dark memories. Images of petty crimes. Stealing a candy bar as a child. Taking toilet paper from her employer when she was so low on money she didn’t know how she was going to eat after she had fed JT. Deep sexual needs, hard, fast, more than her partners could give her. A horrifying loneliness, soul deep, when she realized that nobody loved her. Nobody but the cat she had rescued from death in a dumpster, anyway.

Before he could think, he mind spoke. “You are not alone anymore.”

She shuddered.

He went deeper. There it was. A thread, something not human. Phoenix followed it. He sensed something deeply buried, a power banked that had not yet been revealed. It licked at him like flames, like his own ability to manipulate fire under certain circumstances, but different. Very different. This was focused, somehow feminine. There was no question her gift came from the maternal side.

Images. Her mother bathed in the flames from a campfire, out in the Sierra Nevadas. Her father enjoying the view of his woman, seeing but not seeing the glow of the red fire.

Images. Lightning sparking and touching down near them, not as close as it seemed but feeling close enough to touch. Her mother laughing while her father looked on with fear, watching her reach out to the energy.

Images. A small Rachel looking up at a furious father, who was holding a scorched teddy bear.

Images. A dream this time, Rachel tossing and turning in a stormy night, dreaming, dreaming, dreaming of revenge on all the children who mocked and pointed at her. Of the foster family who only took her in because of the money, and made sure she knew that every meal she ate was begrudged. The dream took the form of the movie Carrie, with Rachel sending fire down the hallways and corridors of the school and into the master bedroom at home, setting everyone ablaze.

That fateful night. A ten-year-old Rachel running from the car as it erupted in flames. There was a large…something…behind them, and it spat fire at them.
Memory jumbled and she was away from the burning car, her overnight bag in one clammy hand. Inside she could see the skeletons of her immolated parents. A big winged figure, like a page from the Arabian Nights, was hovering out of sight of another, smaller one. She wasn’t sure how he managed to be unseen, but he did. The large person spared her a look, and she heard, “Run, Rachel, run. Now, granddaughter.”

Her feet were moving before she was aware of it. In the distance there were sirens, their sounds indicating they were getting closer. Someone must have seen the fire. She could stay, she could go back…maybe her parents were still alive…
“They are not. Run.”

It was the only thing to do. Tears on her cheeks, Rachel had run. As she did so a blanket descended over her mind, something that protected her even while it took her memories.


She came out of it with a cry, still clinging to Phoenix.



Kamal’s wings quivered slightly, but she couldn’t tell if they were shaking in silent amusement or anger. Before she could say anything more, Kamal spoke again.

“It has always been understood that we do not interfere.”

“Why?” Her voice was as tight as her lips.

Kamal shook his head. “There are many things we don’t know, and many more we don’t need to know. It has worked for thousands of years—for all of us. We have a saying: ‘avoid that which requires an apology’. As long as we stay neutral, we need not apologize. We are not going to, what is the saying, rock the boat now.”

Rachel found her fury growing again. “Dammit, Grandfather, these are people we’re talking about.” Heat rose in her cheeks, reminding Rachel of the vampire’s lack of blood. Rachel shivered.

“Your Phoenix may have been human once, but he hasn’t been human for over a millennium.” Kamal’s gaze took in her thin lips, the high color in her cheeks, and her stiff body. He sighed. “Habibti, I will take care of you, but I should not interfere further. However, you are my granddaughter. I won’t let what happened to your mother happen to you.” He glanced over at the papers on the desk and floor and tipped his wing to them. “If Farouk comes, I will be waiting.” He shrugged in a way that she usually did. “I can tell you this. Your research, everything is meaningless.”
Phoenix stiffened, and if he had still had his wings, she thought they would have bristled.

“This is good stuff,” Rachel said indignantly.

“It is good research for your other Elementals. Their Challenges have also started, as you must be aware. The Sphynx left India a little while ago.”

“Some paranormals have tried to stop Rachel, but other than that, we haven’t found many signs of Challenge,” Phoenix said.

He turned the wing to Phoenix. “The signs started when you moved here. When Farouk killed Rachel’s parents. You were drawn here, to San Francisco, for Rachel, but also for something else.” Phoenix frowned at him. “You were summoned to your Challenge.”

“Of course.”

“The reason you can’t find a link to your Challenge, the reason you haven’t been able to determine where it is, is because it’s right here.”

Rachel nodded, realizing her instincts had been right before. She had known, somehow, that Challenge could only happen in one place. “Who? How?”

Kamal shook his head. “I don’t know. It’s coming, though, and soon. It’s human. That is why you can’t find it.” He turned to Rachel. “Habibti, you have great power in you. Use it wisely.” He gripped Rachel’s shoulders again and kissed her forehead before he stepped back. He paused and then held a hand out to Phoenix. Phoenix took the proffered hand and pumped it once. Kamal took another step back, toward the broken door. “I must go, but I will be watching. Phoenix, take care of her. Good luck.”

Rachel wanted to argue, but after a look at her grandfather, she let it drop. Feeling strange and uncertain, she went to him. The big man looked down at her from his superior height, his face gentle.

After a moment, he held out his arms. Rachel stepped into his embrace and hugged him. Her hands landed on his leathery wings. The heat of him against her skin and the cinnamon/clove scent permeated her nostrils as they hugged.

His large chest sighed out a breath. “I love you, habibti. You are my only living descendant.” He pulled back and Rachel tilted her head up to him. “I will protect you.” He gave Phoenix a stern look. “You will protect her as well, or you will have me to answer to.”

Phoenix smiled, but it was a ruthless smile. “She is mine to protect, Ifrit.” There was an undercurrent in his voice.

Kamal released Rachel and stepped back again. “I see how it is. I am glad.” He raised a hand in farewell and his wings followed. Phoenix’s wings were soft and feathered, and Kamal’s more like dragon wings. Rachel was mesmerized by the difference in their anatomy. “Farewell, Elemental. Farewell, granddaughter.”

After he left, Phoenix looked at Rachel thoughtfully. “I have underestimated you.”

She smiled wanly. “The good news is that they had a reason to warn me off. Even if we don’t understand it.” She moved to Phoenix. “The bad news is that I need to learn how to use my powers.”

She touched him, their skins still warm from the dance of the flames. The fire called to her, and she moved into his arms. They went around her in an instant, pulling her close.

His mind was barred deftly, with a durable wall. Emotions danced around the edges of the barrier. She touched it with her own and felt him yield, but his true mind was still shuttered. “Aleric?”

“Ah…” He pressed his lips to hers, his mind still closed. “I am glad you are with me. I am glad we are together.”






About The Author



 Claire can’t remember a time when writing wasn’t part of her life. From the time she was a pre-teen, she wrote stories, most of them romances. She used to write stories with her friends, with each of them choosing a famous person or a character from their favorite TV series, and model the novels around that. One of her earliest stories, unfortunately lost to time, centered around the 1970s series Starsky and Hutch (she was partial to Starsky).Although she read primarily fantasy and science fiction as a teenager, it didn’t take long for Claire to discover Harlequin romances and their happily-ever-after endings.

Claire has many irons in the fire, including short stories across a multitude of genres to go along with her romances, from contemporary to paranormal. Originally from Brookline, Massachusetts, Claire now lives in Los Angeles. In addition to writing she has an office job she loves, does animal rescue, reads, and goes to movies. She loves to hear from fans, so feel free to drop her a line.

You can find Claire at 

        

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1 comment :

  1. Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read the excerpt!

    ReplyDelete