(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?
The moment the cold hit my face, I paused on the porch and looked around. The wind whistled and the river ice crackled, but those were the only sounds. It felt like such a ghost town. All that was missing were the tumbleweeds, and I supposed, the ghosts.
What was the best way to go about avoiding the curfew? Obviously, I didn’t want to be seen, but I wasn’t even sure if humans lived on this side of town; I was so behind in Human-Elemental Relations 101. This close to the river, that would probably be the easiest route to take, but what would a human think if they saw me wade into the water and simply disappear?
After a few moments, I realized I didn’t really have any other options. If I freaked people out for a short time, then so be it; at least I wouldn’t be caught blatantly breaking the rules by strolling down the street.
Sprinting and diving seemed like the best idea—getting it over with quickly. I stole one last peek all around me, and when I was sure it was clear, I started running. There was snow and ice all over the back yard, but it did nothing to slip me up. If anything, it gave me better grip than the earth ever did. I launched from the edge and dove in headfirst. The surface was frozen over, but the ice broke away as if I’d plunged through a layer of feathers. Water met me, cold as the Arctic, though it felt a comfortable lukewarm.
As soon as my momentum slowed, I kicked frantically to the surface and sucked in a deep breath of air. As a Water Elemental, I had acquired the ability to breathe underwater, but it hadn’t yet become second nature. There was something about the long-held notion of drowning that didn’t sit well with me for some reason, even though I knew it was physically impossible; the water would never betray me in that way.
I blew out a quick breath and forced myself to inhale underneath. Once I got over the shock of intentionally breathing in water, it was generally pretty easy to be submerged. The slippery molecules that used to cling to my skin and hinder my motions now bowed gracefully out of my way, allowing me to cut through the river faster than if I’d been wearing flippers.
The murkiness that used to cloud my vision now opened up into a whole new world of underwater eyesight. I could see, in startling clarity, the river bottom littered with rocks and broken tree limbs. I could see algae and coontail pondweeds with sleepy fish hiding throughout to conserve winter energy. I could see for miles, it seemed.
Downriver, the town drifted away and became nothing but dense woodland. After a few yards I probably would have been safe, but I swam for about fifteen minutes just to be sure. At that point, I lifted myself up onto a rocky bank and smoothed down my tunic. It was dry as a bone, as was my cellphone, apparently, because it chose that moment to go off.
I answered quickly to keep the sound to a minimum. In that area, the trees blocked most of the wind, so there wasn’t even that for background noise. It was incredibly silent, but in a more peaceful way, not ominous like it had been in town.
Elle Middaugh lives in the Allegheny Mountains outside of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, with her wonderful husband and three beautiful children. Most of her time is spent raising kids, writing stories, playing video games, reading, and attempting to keep a clean house.
She’s a proud Navy wife, a frazzle-brained mother, a fan of health and fitness, a lover of hot tea and iced tea, and a believer in happily ever afters.
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