Restless (Element Preservers Series, Book 4) by Alycia Linwood - Read Online
Restless (Element Preservers Series, Book 4)
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Being the president of the Element Preservers and going to university at the same time might be hard for Ria, especially when she isn't allowed to touch Adrian most of the time. But when the government decides to use Ria as a distraction to pass a new law that many won't like, she has to find out what the government's true plan is before it's too late. Ethan, who pretends to be Ria's boyfriend and has his own agenda, certainly won't make things any easier for her.

The fourth book in the Element Preservers series.

Published: Alycia Linwood on
ISBN: 9781301572670
List price: $3.99
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Restless (Element Preservers Series, Book 4) - Alycia Linwood

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Chapter 1

Adrian looked up at me from his favorite spot—the windowsill—as I entered the room, a slight smile on his lips. Ever since we had gone back to the university, he was spending more time in my room than in class. We could have found an apartment nearby, but we’d figured the rooms at the university were safer. The press couldn’t get inside, and there was less chance someone would follow us because we didn’t have to walk through the busy streets on our way home, and we didn’t have nosy neighbors who could reveal too much about us.

It was a plus that students didn’t wear element-blocking bracelets, so Adrian and I could always know when someone was nearby, unless that person was one of us. The main drawback was that I couldn’t get a break from elements, but that was why I was spending half days in the office at the Element Preservers. I was the president, after all.

My office had been improved so I could rest without the constant buzzing in my head and recharge my energy. For emergencies, Lily had sent two magic disease carriers to go to the university too so they could help me if I lost control, since Adrian wasn’t allowed to touch me in such circumstances. Actually, Lily had strictly forbidden Adrian and me to touch each other, but we chose to ignore that particular rule, especially because Adrian had risked his life to find out that we could touch only when I was fully in control. I was still pissed off at him for that because now we had Alan breathing down our necks.

I noticed a book in Adrian’s lap, which totally threw me off. What are you reading?

He lifted the book, allowing me to see the blue cover.

"The History of Magic Disease?" My voice was full of incredulity.

You wouldn’t believe the shit they wrote in here. He shook his head in disapproval. Why is this on the list of mandatory reading?

Write down the title and the names of the authors. I’m going to put it on the list for revisions. One of the perks of being the president of the Element Preservers was that I could decide what would be taught in schools and universities. Of course, I needed the approval of my associates, but I was certain I could get them to agree with me if I laid out my plans right.

Adrian tore a piece of paper and scribbled down the book title. Did Lily remind you we aren’t supposed to be together?

Yes. I sighed. She was babbling something about the calm before the storm again. She thinks I’m going to explode or spontaneously combust if you touch me.

She may be right about the last part. He winked at me.

Adrian Liandre, I said, shaking my head. You just love to tempt me, don’t you?

He hopped off the windowsill and came to stand only inches away from me, his gray-blue eyes boring into mine. I want to kiss you, he whispered. I want to touch you the way no one has ever touched you. I want to rip your shirt in pieces and...

Stop. I turned around, breathless. Every single element in the building became stronger, which meant that my control was slipping. I couldn’t risk touching Adrian now. Fuck.

Are you okay? he asked, barely containing the worry in his voice. I turned to face him with a smile on my face, but I knew it wouldn’t reach my eyes.

Everything’s perfect. I’m just exhausted. I sat on the bed and stretched, yawning. I swear it feels as if we haven’t gone to class for ages instead of for only one semester. I almost forgot how boring it could get.

You could have chosen a different class. Adrian leaned on the wall, smirking.

True, but I didn’t have time to think about classes. I ran my hand through my hair. I’m still afraid the government will make a move and we won’t be ready for it. How am I supposed to concentrate on studying when someone might be plotting against me? If I lose the presidency, there’s no way of telling what could happen to carriers.

The government is pissed off at you for revealing their best kept secrets to the public. It’s no wonder they’ll try to remove you from your position. Forcing you to go to university might be one of their tactics to ensure you’re too busy to go to work, but I don’t think it’s the only idea they have in mind.

I chewed on my lip. Yeah, but not knowing what they’re going to do next is frustrating!

Lily’s team is taking care of everything. They’ll call us if something suspicious happens.

So you think I’m overreacting. In one of her long speeches, Lily had told me that my elements were strongly connected to my emotions, so I shouldn’t be making any important decisions while I felt as if elements were raining down on me. Strong emotions could make me lose control, but an abundance of elements could negatively affect my emotions, too. Why was damn magic disease so complicated?

Will you do my homework? History is your thing. Adrian gave me a puppy-eyed look.

No! I groaned. Why the hell did you choose History?

So I can be with you in the same class.

Are you even interested in anything here? I’d chosen to continue the classes I’d attended at the University of Magic, but since Adrian hadn’t really passed any exam, he could have chosen any class he wanted. Of course, the idiot had picked my History and Geography.

Nope, not really. He shrugged. I’m only interested in you.

Okay, stop. What’s wrong with you? I got up from the bed, shaking my head at him. You’ve never talked to me like this before, and you certainly never followed me around so much.

He lowered his eyes, slowly licking his lips. I could tell something bothered him, but I didn’t know what. His amazing ability to avoid talking about the important things and himself wasn’t helping either. Adrian, talk to me. Please.

If you’re worried someone will suspect we’re in a relationship, you don’t have to be. No one has seen me. Is it so weird that I want to spend more time with my girlfriend? He looked up at me, his eyes strangely cold.

I chewed on the insides of my cheek. You don’t like being here, do you? I have a feeling you’re avoiding everyone except me.

Okay, fine. He sighed. I wanted to be with you and I thought going back to university wouldn’t be a problem, but I can feel people’s hostility when I walk down the hallway or sit next to them in class. They know I’m a carrier with a sub-element, and they don’t trust me. It’s like my first year at the University of Magic all over again, before Alan set in motion his little plan.

I’d been getting strange looks too, but none of the students or professors knew I was a magic disease carrier. Why don’t you hang out with Kayla and Sinclair? Lily sent them here to help me, but maybe they could pretend to be your friends. People might be more relaxed around you if you didn’t give them deadly looks and if you weren’t acting like a lone wolf.

I’m sorry if I can’t simply chitchat with our enemies! Those people want us dead, Ria. I don’t want to be friends with them.

Not everyone is like that. Some people... My phone rang, making me jump. The annoying melody indicated that it was someone whose number wasn’t in my contacts.

Yeah? I couldn’t help but be suspicious because only a dozen people knew my number. I was the president, not the sex line.

Ms. Milanez, I’m Owen Larsson, and I have a few questions for you. Owen Larsson was one of the important men in the government, very close to the president, perhaps his secretary, but I’d be damned if I knew which position each person in the government held. There were so many of them that I should probably keep a memo.

Mr. Larsson, is there a problem? I tried to sound as polite and as oblivious as I could.

Would you mind explaining to the president and me how it’s possible that the president of the Element Preservers and the famous magic disease carrier with a rare sub-element are going to the same university? Acid dripped in Owen’s voice.

Apologies, but I’m not the right person to answer that. I didn’t know the carrier would be here, too. You should ask his guardian that question. He’s the one who brought the carrier with him. I suspect he has ulterior motives. When Adrian told me about his agreement with Alan, we had come up with a story to erase any doubts people might have.

As far as we were concerned, Alan had come to watch over me since I was the president of the Element Preservers and the daughter of his old friend Richard. Alan would confirm the story if someone asked, so we weren’t worried about it. The only problem were the spies that the government might have sent to observe me, but Adrian and I could avoid them easily.

I’ll ask the guardian then. Owen didn’t sound too pleased about it. "But you should stay as far away as possible from the carrier. It isn’t safe for the president to be near someone as dangerous as him. Some reporters still remember those nasty rumors that your father covered up about you and the carrier. If they were indeed rumors."

I suppose the rumors about the president of the country having a lover with the disease are true, too, since you seem to imply that there could be some truth in the rumors about me. I heard a quick intake of breath on the other end of the line, but I didn’t give Owen time to recover and say anything. But we both know the president is happily married and doesn’t think kindly of carriers, and I was in a happy relationship with Michael, so the rumors can’t possibly be true, can they?

No, they can’t. I’ll ask for the carrier’s guardian to be transferred to another university, though.

You can’t do that. Why did the government always have to meddle in people’s business?

Why not? Owen almost sounded offended.

If you transfer the carrier at the beginning of the semester for no good reason, the public will think I requested it. We do have to get rid of carriers, but we can’t outright show them that we hate them. How are we ever going to catch them if they go into hiding? Especially if they have elements now. I glanced at Adrian who was intently watching me. We have to be prudent about this. If carriers, God forbid, decide to start an uprising and convince citizens to join them, we’ll have a serious problem.

You shouldn’t have revealed our best kept secrets.

Maybe you’re right, but what if the enemy had decided to spread the information first? We’d have lost people’s trust.

Owen mumbled something I couldn’t understand. Fine, we’ll leave the carrier be.

I’m glad you agree with me. I briefly closed my eyes and smiled at Adrian.

We’ll be having another conversation soon. With those words, Owen hung up and I threw the phone onto my bed.

I hate it when you have to do that. You sound very convincing. Adrian pressed his lips together.

I have to be convincing. We need time to think things through and find a solution for carriers, but we can’t do that if the government decides too soon that it’s time to exterminate every single carrier.

The good thing is that they can’t tell who’s a carrier and who isn’t.

Yeah, but Paula thinks it’s only a matter of time before someone finds a way to detect the disease in a living body. Instead of focusing on finding a cure for the disease, the government’s scientists worked on finding a way to detect carriers. Unfortunately, I couldn’t order anyone to look for the cure because the government would start questioning my loyalty even more than they already did.

Adrian pulled his phone out of the pocket of his dark blue jeans and glanced at it. You’re going to be late for work.

No, it’s... I grabbed my phone and checked the time. Three already. Fuck! I kicked off my shoes and ran for the closet. While I could wear whatever the hell I wanted at the university, I needed special attire for my job. I wasn’t particularly happy with the plain black skirt and the black suit jacket, but I did wear a red pin in the shape of a rose to kill all that blackness.

See you later. Adrian headed for the door, the corners of his lips quirking up.

Where are you going? I knew he didn’t have any more classes, so I was curious what he was going to do. It was a shame he couldn’t come with me.


I rolled my eyes. Yeah, but where? I’m not entirely sure the government didn’t send an assassin after you.

Adrian closed the door behind him before I could hear his reply. Oh great. I stuffed the things I needed into my black leather bag and went to change.

Chapter 2

Great! You’re here. My secretary, Katherine, ran toward me as soon as she saw me enter the building, a big notepad in her hand. Paula arrived a couple of minutes ago. She’s waiting for you in your office.

Okay, thanks. It had taken me days to convince Katherine to call everyone by their first name, but I was glad she no longer spoke to me as if I were older than her. Anything else?

Yes, the president of the Elemental International wants to speak with you. He’s coming from London next week and he’d like to meet with you. Katherine tucked a strand of her dark red hair behind her ear.

Okay, fit him in the schedule. I had no clue who the president of the Elemental International was, but I could at least talk to him and see what he wanted.

I’ll do that and let him know. She grinned.

Thanks. With a smile, I went down the hallway to my office. Paula was seated in one of the leather chairs, her curly blonde hair cascading around her shoulders. She lifted her blue-green eyes toward me and her lips spread into a smile.

You’re late, she said, barely containing herself from laughing out loud. Ms. Milanez, that is not acceptable.

The president can do whatever she wants, even be late. I took a seat in my chair and dropped my heavy bag to the ground. Since you’re here and not in the lab I assume you came to tell me something important. Even though Paula and I could talk at the university, we couldn’t talk about the disease or anything like that because the walls had way too many ears there.

Yeah. Do you remember when I came up with the idea of element donors? She leaned forward.

Of course I do. Did someone actually sign up? I still kept receiving threatening letters from various religious groups who strongly opposed the idea of giving away an element just before death, but not everyone believed in God of Magic or that we became a part of the planet according to our element after we died.

Yeah. More than we thought, actually. She looked pleased. But that’s not what I came to tell you. I came to tell you that we might have an element for you.

What? My jaw must have dropped all the way to the floor.

There’s a man who has only two or so months to live and his element is earth. You need that element to complete all four elements. The smile faded from her face and she swallowed, undoubtedly bothered by the fact that a man was dying and there was nothing anyone could do for him.

Is that a good idea? For me to take his element? The whole concept scared me a little. Maybe four elements were enough for my brother, but what if they wouldn’t be enough for me? I wasn’t unstable only because I had three elements, but also because Adrian had helped me too many times to get back in control, which had weakened me.

Ria, another element could end all of your problems, especially if you take earth. I’m not even sure you can take any other element. But if everything happens according to our plans, you could control yourself and you could touch Adrian. No one would ever find out you have the disease. She toyed with the silver ring on her right hand, which made me frown.

I sense there’s a catch. Being in perfect control sounded like a dream come true, but I didn’t believe it was that simple to achieve it.

Yes, there is. She sighed, lowering her eyes. You’re not the only one who needs that particular element.

So there’s another carrier who needs the element. I should have known there would be more carriers who weren’t in perfect control of themselves and who already had other elements.

Yeah, her name’s April. Paula met my eyes, pressing her lips together. But you’re the priority because you’re the president. We need to do something before you’re exposed. If you’re in control, there’s no way for someone to prove you have the disease.

What about the others? Did anyone already get someone’s element?

Yeah, one guy got a water element. Everything worked out perfectly. Paula scratched her chin. We had security, but he didn’t try to attack the donor. He simply held his hand until it was over.

I’d had enough experience with taking elements from someone else, but it had always been accidental. How do you make sure you aren’t helping murderers? I mean, I know carriers can’t be blamed for not being able to control themselves, but what about those who consciously decided to kill people to calm their hunger for an element?

We try to check everyone’s background and we observe their psychological state. Most of the carriers we approved for receiving the donation are those who were forced to take elements in the labs. Before the scientists figured out they could keep elements, the carriers escaped. Of course, the carriers themselves believed they would lose the elements after some time, so they planned their escape as soon as possible. Some carriers got their elements by pure accident.

Like I did. I still wasn’t entirely sure I hadn’t ended someone’s life, but I preferred to believe those people had died from their wounds. So how did April get her two elements?

April was born with a water element. She got fire and air when a serial killer started randomly shooting people. She managed to survive because she hid under the bodies, but the elements of the people seeped into her.

So how is she? I couldn’t imagine how difficult it had to be to get accustomed not to one new element, but two at the same time.

We keep her isolated from people with elements.

She can’t control herself at all and I’m the one who’s the priority for the element? My control may not be the best and Lily suspected it would only get worse, but I could still be around people with elements for a long time.

As I said, you’re the president. If we lose you, our whole plan will crumble.

Yeah, because I’m so damn important that without me there wouldn’t be carriers to start an uprising or infiltrate the government, I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm.

Paula shot me an annoyed glare. Carriers could definitely start an uprising, but that could end up in a slaughter and even more intolerance. That’s what your brother wants. Infiltrating the government would take months or years, and who knows what would happen if people discovered that the president of the Element Preservers is a carrier.

Maybe someone else decides to donate their earth element, too.

I pray for it every day. A smile returned to Paula’s lips, but her eyes remained wary.

Do you have the results of the survey? A couple of weeks ago Lily had decided to conduct a survey among young people to see what they thought about elements and the disease.

Yeah, Paula drawled. They’re not really encouraging. More than seventy-five percent responded that they didn’t care about their element and that there was nothing interesting to learn about it.

Fuck. So far, the only people who desperately wanted to choose