by Laurel Richards
Elementals Book Three
When Livi meets Matthew Drake at the Paradise University dance studio, she has no idea what a steamy tango she’s in for.
As Fire Elementals, they’re both passionate, and they’re naturally drawn to each other.
Unfortunately, Livi’s father wants her to marry someone else—not just anyone, but Matthew’s worst enemy, Erasmus Drac.
Forced to choose between the two men, Livi must decide whether to submit to family pressure or follow her heart’s desire. To do that, she has to understand Matthew’s painful past and draw strength from his power. Will she surrender to the flames of passion, or will she just get burned?
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Content/Theme(s): Elementals, Dragons, Urban Fantasy
Release Date: November 1, 2016
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Livi’s lips parted in disbelief as she spotted the man who had entered the dance studio. He was the last person she expected to see, and her heart did a funny little jig at the sight of him. His short brunet hair looked like smooth dark chocolate, and his bangs fell in sexy strands across his forehead. As she watched, he scanned the room with an intensity that made her squirm.
Although she knew he was young—only twenty-two—there was a quality to his features that made him seem timeless. With every step he took, his lean, muscular body moved with a careless grace that heated her blood. She would have recognized him anywhere. Matthew Drake was not a man one soon forgot.
The first time Livi had seen the mysterious Fire Elemental had been at a party at the Brants’ house several years ago. They had met briefly at various social gatherings since then, though he probably didn’t remember her.
Dispelling her surprise, Livi started toward him across the studio floor. Then she remembered the rumors she’d heard, and she slowed her steps. Although Matthew was supposedly a descendant of Drakon Rex, one of the most powerful Fire Elementals who had ever lived, there were shadows over his past. Some said he was insane, dangerous even, while others claimed he’d once been a Phage—an Elemental who murdered and cannibalized his own kind for power. Could any of it be true?
Livi shook her head. Fate had thrown them together, and she wasn’t about to miss an opportunity by listening to gossip. With a deep breath to steady herself, she intercepted him and stood looking up into his dark, hypnotic eyes.
“Hi, Matthew,” she said. “I thought I recognized you.” Out of habit, she smiled and offered her hand.
He accepted the handshake, and his palm and fingers were rough and warm against her skin. “Hello. Why are you here?”
Her smile faltered, but she forced it back into place as she withdrew her hand. “Taking dance lessons, same as you. I’m Livi.”
He returned a small grin that nearly stopped her heart. “Yes, I know. I remember you. You’re a Fire Elemental too, and we’ve been at a lot of the same parties. We’ve never really gotten the chance to talk, though.”
Flattered that he knew who she was, she felt her cheeks grow warm. Could he be attracted to her, too?
“So,” she said, trying to make conversation, “what made you want to learn how to dance?”
As part of its community involvement program, Paradise University was offering this eight-week package of ballroom lessons at night, but most men wouldn’t be caught dead here. She couldn’t believe Matthew was here with her now.
Although he turned pink for a moment, he shrugged. “What I really wanted to do was sign up for a martial arts class, but it was booked up. This course was being offered at the same time, and after seeing some of those dance shows on TV, I thought I’d give it a try. What about you?”
She laughed. “I guess you could say I’m still trying to find myself. My father calls me a dilettante, which I think is a fancy way of saying ‘dabbler.’ I like trying new things.”
“It’s good to do new stuff,” he assured her. “Now you’ll be able to find yourself here every week.”
She embarrassed herself with a snort.
He stepped closer, and she could smell his clean, woodsy scent. “Look out. The humans are bearing down on us.”
She glanced around and saw that he was right. While they’d been talking, the room had steadily filled up with the other students. The two instructors—a man and a woman—were making their way over to them.
“Don’t worry,” she teased him. “I’ll protect you.”
The surprise on his face was priceless, and then he let out a breathy laugh. Even his laughter was sexy.
Before they could say anything else, the instructors were upon them. The woman was a tall, middle-aged blonde with shoulder-length hair and a slender figure. No doubt she had been a beauty in her day, but her choice of lip color and eye shadow was unfortunate. Next to her, the man appeared as if he’d stepped in a hole. He was short and lightly built, and his slicked-back hair and shiny shoes made him look like a lounge lizard.
“Hi there,” the woman greeted them. “May I get your names please?”
“Livi Phyre and Matthew Drake,” Livi answered for them. She watched the human check off their names on her clipboard.
The woman glanced back up. “And are you two together?”
“Yes,” she and Matthew said in unison.
Livi whipped her head around to look at him, and they both grinned.
The lady smiled too. “Well, we generally try to expose you to different partners during the course, but since you’re learning as a couple, we’ll try to keep you together as much as possible.”
“Thank you.” Livi watched as the instructors moved on to the next group of students.
“I don’t know,” Matthew said. “Exposing ourselves could be fun. What do you think, Livi? Should we expose ourselves to the other students?”
She gaped at him for a moment before she grinned. Who would have thought the infamous Matthew Drake would have such a sense of humor?
“You are so bad,” she scolded him. “If you want my opinion, I think we Fire Elementals should stick together. I don’t think I could stand dancing with that male instructor.”
As if he knew she was talking about him, the slick-haired fellow turned and winked.
“I see what you mean,” Matthew said. “But do you think he’s winking at you or me?”
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