Title: Elemental Seduction–Requited by Fire
Author: McKinzie S. Heart
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4
Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Mirah burns to lay claim to a new discovery but shortly after she arrives, a handsome threat appears. He is hot and mysterious, a combustible mixture that threatens to consume her body and soul.
Due to an anonymous tip, Mirah races to a volcano to be the first one to claim a new discovery. She thinks she’s alone until Farron mysteriously appears. Part of her distrusts him and his motives while another part of her gravitates toward his obvious virility. She craves him even though she feels he’s hiding something from her. She tries to keep her claim on the site, not to mention her sanity, but he won’t stay at arm’s length. What she doesn’t know is that it doesn’t do any good to fight the destined fire that wants to engulf them both.
She couldn't count all the strange crystals hanging from doorways, windows, and the porch back home—a definite contrast to her mother's conservative nature. As far back as Mirah could remember, her mom had collected these. She grinned as she trailed a finger across the smooth, antique necklace about her neck. She had been given this necklace before memory. Its exceptional design of fiery crimson crystals of various shapes, cuts, and sizes formed what appeared to be swirls of fire; it had always fascinated her. When the sun hit it just right, it sparked brilliantly, seeming to race and flash about her neck like a fire storm. She had never been without it.
If only she could get a close up shot of the crystals with the entire pool as the background. Then Jack would get his unique pictures and Mom would get something else to add to her collection along with, hopefully, a sample. The only problem was that the pool proved pretty large. It appeared large enough to bathe in…that is…if you could stand the heat.
"Impressive, isn't it?" a masculine voice whispered near her ear.
Mirah swung around in fright and nearly tumbled into the blistering pool until a strong hand steadied her. The camera swung precariously away from her body; she gasped in fear.
"I didn't mean to frighten you."
Her stomach jerked with apprehension. She snapped. "Too late for that."
"I'm sorry. Believe me, it was quite unintentional."
He helped her to safety while her fingers fumbled to the camera strap.
Quickly, she glanced at her unscathed equipment while her hand fluttered automatically to her necklace. Her fingers caressed the smooth crystals for comfort.
His eyes followed the movement.
"I'm sorry. It's okay. I just thought that I was the only one here," she replied.
Her eyes narrowed as she stared at the shadowy tall, broad-shouldered intruder. She mentally noted the backpack he carried as well as his gear. It appeared that she now had competition. Evidently, she had wasted her money on that damned bribe! What's more, she wondered if he had followed her since she had snuck here on her own.
"You were," he smiled pleasantly, "until I arrived."
"Are you here to study the lava pool?"
"Something like that," he replied vaguely. He turned and headed toward her campsite. She didn't like his evasive answer and could feel herself bristle but reluctantly followed. After all, she couldn't have him snooping around her stuff. He probably knew nothing of volcanoes and was here just to make a name for himself…perhaps sell to the highest bidder? She gritted her teeth.
"So, you're here to check out this stratovolcano?"
She watched him turn back and managed to see a lifted brow. "Now, you know that's not what we have here. Maybe in Oregon or Washington, but not here. You know that all volcanoes in Hawaii are shield volcanoes…long, broad slopes. A good place to see the cone-shaped, umm stratovolcanoes, would be in Washington. There are several there."
"I know what a damned cone-shaped volcano is called," she snapped, scowling at his knowledge. She glared at his back as he walked away once again.
"Nice set up," he called back over his shoulder.
"Mmmm hmmm," she replied, moving quickly to catch up. She continued to simmer inside. "Who did you say you were with?"
"I didn't." He laughed guardedly, reaching her site. "Are you alone here?"
The hairs rose upon her neck. "No, I expect my team tomorrow. They all know I'm here already," she lied.
She growled. She would get down to the bottom of this! "Where is your team?"
"They will be along tomorrow as well." He offered no other explanation. He then paused before dumping his gear, seeming to think better of his words. Without turning, he whispered, "Don't be angry. Jack sent me."
"What? I thought this was a solo assignment—my first without help," she sputtered furiously then grabbed his arm causing his gear to fall. "Just who the hell are you anyway?"
"I think the question that needs to be asked and answered right now is why you have arrived here without your team."
"I told you. They will be here tomorrow just as planned…"
"You mean just as you planned," he interceded. "I just told you that Jack sent me. He suspected that you might pull a stunt like this."
Mirah seethed, "How dare you—"
"Don't get all worked up. If I had been in your shoes, I would have done the same thing. I'm here to help you. And you shouldn't be here alone."
She hated to admit it but he was right. "Who did you say you were?"
"You don't remember me? You know me. I'm Farron. "
"I don't know anyone by that name. Believe me; I'd remember a name like that. Farron, huh?"
"Yep. Can't believe you don't remember me," he replied as he popped open a small chair to kick back and relax. He appeared quite immune to her cross behavior.
Mirah's temper still neared boiling. She felt her body heat rising as tiny beads of perspiration dotted her back. She clenched her fists, willing away the rage even though she didn't like his familiarity or him taking over her campsite. But his name did niggle in the back of her mind. She must know him from the office because how would he know Jack or that she snuck away before the others arrived to begin the assignment alone? No, it was too coincidental. She must know him. "Well, we'll see if I know you."
She pulled out her cell phone which still had two bars on it. She hit the send button twice and waited. She continued to wait then glanced down at the face. It was still dialing. She held it to her ear. There was no sound. Apparently, it didn't want to connect at this time. "If I can't get through then I'll get the low-down on you when I go topside in the morning."
She damn sure as hell didn't need a babysitter. Jack would get an earful for this stunt, and she felt pretty sure that she would get an earful for her stunt as well, but it had been worth it.
"Sure thing," he agreed amicably, placing his hands with ease behind his head.
"Or you can just go back up yourself, go to the hotel, and call Jack to tell him that you don't need to babysit me. Really, that must be pretty embarrassing for you." She narrowed her eyes again, curious to hear his response.
"It should be more embarrassing for you since he felt the need to send me ahead knowing that you would pull a stunt like this. I'm not embarrassed at all. And since I don't have to do the bulk of the work, it's more like a vacation. Plus, I get to watch a pro—"
"—well flattery won't get you anywhere—"
His brow shot up at her attempt to irritate him. "—and, as I was saying before you interrupted, I get to watch a pro Jack chose above all others. It doesn't have anything to do with flattery. I'm not about to piss off the boss, even if it means to 'babysit.' You know how he gets when he sets his mind on something."
Mirah flushed with remorse. She shouldn't have acted like such a bitch. It really wasn't this guy's fault. It truly was her own. Jack knew what she would do and had prepared. He could also be quite overbearing at times. She had just had more practice in dealing with him over the years and knew what pushed his buttons just right.