Indestructible (Element Preservers Series, Book 5) by Alycia Linwood - Read Online
Indestructible (Element Preservers Series, Book 5)
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Summary

Caught between life and death, Ria will do anything to return to the people she cares about. But if her enemies find her, she might discover that she is not as indestructible as she thinks she is, especially when she can no longer count on her elements to help her...

The fifth and final book in the Element Preservers series. Followed by the spin-off series Tainted Elements.

Published: Alycia Linwood on
ISBN: 9781311181626
List price: $3.99
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Indestructible (Element Preservers Series, Book 5) - Alycia Linwood

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Linwood

Chapter 1

Vivid images filled my mind, but I couldn’t concentrate on a single one of them. The darkness kept sucking me back into its cold grip and I kept fighting it. Our little game seemed to go on and on, but just at the moment when I wanted to give up, someone’s voice reached out to me. It was a familiar voice, yet I couldn’t put a face to it. Why couldn’t I remember? My thoughts were too scattered, too hazy.

Ria, I know this will sound crazy, maybe even a little bit pathetic, but... The voice was louder and clearer than before. It trembled slightly, as if there were something funny. If I could, I would have frowned or asked what it wanted. I know you can hear me. Please come back to me. Sadness tore through the words. I’m not sure this will work, but... I love you.

Something rustled, and I could swear I felt something warm tickle my forehead, then my lips. A sliver of hope sparked inside of me. This was more than I could feel and hear for days, maybe weeks? I didn’t know for how long I’d been slipping in and out of the darkness, but it sure as hell felt like an eternity. I wanted out of this stupid state I was in, but the problem was that I didn’t know how to do that.

You should get some sleep. She won’t go anywhere, another voice broke through my consciousness, although it was quiet and light.

I’d prefer to stay, Lily.

Lily? I’d heard that name before. A blurry image of a dark-haired woman with vivid brown eyes flashed through my mind. Lily, right. She was... my brother’s... something. I didn’t even know what they were to each other, but something told me they didn’t know either. Lily was the one who had a group of magic disease carriers and their sympathizers on her side, and she fought for the rights of all carriers and those with impure elements.

A wave of fear overcame me. We’d been in a fight, trying to stop the government from taking out carriers, those with weak elements, and even their supporters. I vaguely remembered the horrors that had occurred at the main square. I’d killed someone. My fear quickly turned into rage. Ethan. His name had been Ethan, and he was the one who’d kidnapped and tortured my best friend.

Ria! someone yelled. Call the nurse! Something’s happening to her!

I wasn’t exactly sure what the whole fuss was about because my body wasn’t moving, or was it? Pushing with all my strength, I tried to twitch my fingers, but nothing happened. Ugh. What was wrong with me? I could feel my body, but I couldn’t move, couldn’t talk, couldn’t open my eyes...

Adrian. Someone sighed. I’m sorry, but she’s not waking up. Not now and maybe...

Don’t finish that sentence if you wish to live, the mysterious voice turned vicious and cold, and now I knew it belonged to my boyfriend, Adrian.

Adrian, relax. The doctor is only stating his opinion, Lily said in her usual calm and collected tone.

How am I supposed to fucking relax when everyone’s telling me she’s going to die? Adrian yelled.

Die? Wait, what? I wasn’t going to die. I was pretty much alive. Right?

We’re doing what we can for her, but I’m afraid her brain suffered too much damage. It’s unlikely she’ll... the doctor said.

Um, hello, doc? I was much tougher than that. Besides, having brain damage was my natural state.

You can’t know that, Adrian said. You’re just guessing because something like this hasn’t happened before, or at least you haven’t seen it.

It’s true we don’t have enough experience with cases like hers, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely ignorant. Her vitals are fine, but she’s not waking up no matter what we try. The doctor’s voice grew distant. I really wish there was something else we could try, but for now the only thing we can do is wait. I’ll check up on her tomorrow.

That’s not good enough! Something thudded to the floor, as if someone had hit an object.

Adrian! Lily’s voice, filled with weariness and annoyance, rang through the room. You’re not helping her.

And what am I supposed to do? Give up?

No, but you don’t have to snap at everyone.

Adrian snorted. Well, I’m sorry if I’m not able to calmly watch my girlfriend die day by day. If my behavior bothers you, why don’t you leave?

All right. I’m leaving, but I’ll be back tomorrow. Don’t think for a second that I don’t care about the two of you. She sounded sincere. I heard some rustling and scraping until the door slammed shut.

Ria, you have to wake up. You can’t leave me alone with those idiots. Come on. I’m only one breath away from freezing them all to death.

Cold skin brushed against mine, but it was impossible to tell whether the coldness came from me or from him.

Okay, how about this? If you wake up, you don’t have to go back to the university if you don’t want to. The Element Preservers Organization was shut down, so technically you’re no longer the president.

I wanted to smile at Adrian. What he was saying was a tempting offer, and I wished I could tell him that, but his last sentence got me worried. It wasn’t surprising that the Element Preservers had been shut down, but it would have taken at least a couple of weeks to make such a decision about the organization’s fate. A governmental organization, of all. Exactly for how long had I been like this? Shit. No wonder Adrian was worried.

No? There was a desperate edge in Adrian’s voice. Do you want me to sweeten the deal? How about... me? If you move your finger or flutter your eyelashes, you can get me. Whenever you want, however you want.

I focused all of my energy on prying my eyelids open, but it didn’t work. Instead, the darkness came back for me, sucking me in, blocking every feeling I had, and ripping Adrian away from me. The scariest part about all of it was that there wasn’t a damn thing I could do.

Chapter 2

Another day or two passed, or at least that was what I thought. I’d been drifting in and out of consciousness, sometimes aware of my surroundings and sometimes not. Adrian had stayed at my side, but my attempts to give him some sort of a sign had been unsuccessful. At one point, I’d even tried using my elements, but I couldn’t feel them at all. Whenever I reached into that part of me that contained my elements, all I could find was coldness. Still, I refused to give up.

I’ve talked to another doctor about your condition. Do you want to know what he said? Adrian asked, his voice cutting through my jumbled thoughts.

Yes. I knew he couldn’t hear me, but answering him in my mind somehow made things better.

He said that you could wake up at any time.

Really? Because it certainly didn’t feel that way.

That you just needed a little push... Adrian’s voice trailed off. But no one knows what that means, not even the doctor.

Geniuses, all of them. What could have possibly happened to me that they didn’t know how to bring me back? I’d drained my energy when I used my elements together at the same time to create a tornado, but I should have woken up. It wasn’t as if I’d hit my head, because I could remember Adrian catching me before I fell.

I’m going to try something that you might not like, so forgive me if this ends up hurting you, but I don’t know what else to do. I heard scraping of a chair and rustling of sheets. Adrian was coming closer to me, but I couldn’t tell how close. Panic spread through me. What was he planning to do? I trusted him, but I didn’t like not knowing what would happen. Or maybe that was the whole point.

Adrian sighed very close to my ear. No matter how much I kiss you, you just won’t open your pretty eyes, will you, my sleeping Ice Queen?

It was strange not to be able to feel the touch of his lips against mine, but maybe it was better like that. It would be infuriating if I could feel his kiss, but wouldn’t be able to kiss him back.

Fine, he said determinedly. Be that way, but let me try something first.

A gust of cold air enveloped me, and I would have gasped if I’d been able to move my lips and throat. An image of a frozen lake filled my mind, every detail perfectly clear. A shadow to the right caught my eye, and I was surprised I could take a step toward it. Thrilled that I could finally move, even if it was just in a vision or a dream, I raised my hand in front of my face, only to realize it was translucent. Great, now I was a freaking ghost.

As I took another step toward the shadow, the blurry shape in front of my eyes turned into a human being. Cold gray-blue eyes looked up at me from under a mop of black hair. My breath hitched in my throat. Adrian! I hurried toward him, but I slipped on the ice and fell face first into the snow. Cradled in the snow’s tight hug, I let the coldness seep into every pore of my body, hoping my fire would surge out at any moment. I didn’t care whether the fire would turn out to be mine, Ethan’s, or a mix of both, even though I still remembered being terrified when I couldn’t feel my fire after I took Ethan’s.

Ria, come on! Adrian’s urgent voice reached my ears, and I slowly pushed myself up on my elbows, snowflakes covering my eyelashes. I wanted to respond, but no matter how hard I tried, my voice didn’t come out of my mouth. Adrian’s shadowy figure was still sitting in the middle of the frozen lake, his right arm carelessly draped over his leg as if he were enjoying himself. He probably was enjoying himself since this was his world, not mine, but what could I do to return to Adrian who was waiting for me in the real world?

I clambered to my feet and looked around for some kind of a door, but all I could see was endless ice. Great. How was that supposed to help me wake up? I had no doubt Adrian would soon have to pull his element back, so I didn’t have much time to come up with a plan.

Ria. Only one soft-spoken word was necessary to snap my attention back to the illusion of Adrian in the middle of the lake. His piercing eyes were searching mine, his lips slightly curled up in a smile. He got to his feet and shrugged his black leather jacket off his shoulders.

I raised my hand and motioned him to come over. He licked his lips, tilting his head at me. Right. He wouldn’t come all the way to me, just like I couldn’t come all the way to him. We’d have to meet halfway, as always. Putting one foot in front of the other, I made my way across the icy surface, praying this wasn’t another one of those nightmares in which a monster popped up through the ice and took me with it, effectively trapping me in the depths of the frozen lake.

Adrian glided more than walked until we met in the middle. His hand reached for my cheek but never touched me, sending another wave of coldness through me. Still, I couldn’t use his element as I’d done a couple of times when we’d exchanged elements.

Why won’t you come back to me? Adrian asked, but his lips didn’t move at all. Instead, he motioned for me to turn around, and after I complied, he slid his jacket over my shoulders. I wasn’t sure whether I was the one imagining Adrian being here or this was Adrian’s projection of himself. Did it even matter?

I gave him a pleading look, pointing at my throat and trying to indicate that I couldn’t speak. If this was his vision, maybe he could control it and give me back my voice.

Ria! Adrian’s voice rang in my head again, more urgent than ever. My whole body shook with the force of it, my fingers solidifying and going numb from the coldness. At least I no longer looked like a ghostly version of myself.

Worry filled Adrian’s eyes, his lips finally moving. You have to go, my Ice Queen. This isn’t a place for you.

Tell me what to do, I gasped out, my throat raw.

He shook his head. Only you know that.

But I don’t know anything! I’ve been trying to wake up for days! I just don’t know how. Please, help me. I ran my hands through my damp hair, realizing some of my dark brown strands had turned into icicles. Could I freeze to death in a dream or a vision? Or was this a projection of what was happening to me in real life? Usually Adrian’s ice wouldn’t hurt me if he was controlling it right or if it had temporarily become mine, but maybe it was hurting me now.

You must go.

Are you even real? I choked out in desperation.

Who knows? Who cares? His lips quirked into a smile. I was an idiot. Of course Adrian couldn’t control this illusion of himself. It was all in my head. I had to...

Before I could finish my thought, the darkness smacked back into me, destroying the kingdom of ice and snow. Adrian’s gray-blue eyes disappeared, and I was alone again. The coldness pulled back, but the emptiness inside me stayed. Was I ever going to wake up?

A loud crash resonated all around me, as if something had exploded. I focused as best as I could on my hearing, certain that whatever I had heard had come from the real world and wasn’t part of any illusion. Adrian had already pulled his element back, so there was no way it was still inside of me.

Get her! an unknown female voice yelled.

No! Adrian’s voice was filled with panic.

Kill him if he resists, the female said matter-of-factly. What the fuck was going on? The woman couldn’t be a doctor because the last time I’d checked, doctors didn’t threaten to kill visitors.

Step away from the girl and nothing will happen to you, a rough male voice said.

Who are you? What do you want with her? Adrian’s voice was the loudest because he was probably standing very close to me.

That’s none of your business, the woman snapped. Now get the fuck out of our way or we’ll hurt you.

No, no, no! What was going on? My heart jumped all the way to my throat, slight tremors running through my body. I had to wake up. It was now or never. I had no clue what the mysterious people wanted from me, but it couldn’t be anything good.

Another crash and a couple of thuds and grunts chased away the silence. A gust of warm air flew next to my leg, followed by a cold breeze. What was going on? Once again, I tried to pry my eyelids open without success.

Do it! the woman yelled amid the noise of things breaking. A gunshot rang through the room, chilling me to the bone. No! Adrian! No!

I felt my hand twitch.

Chapter 3

It all happened at once. A painful scream escaped my throat, my eyes flew open, and my fingers clawed at the sheets underneath me. One half of the room was drenched in the water from the melting ice, the other half littered with charred bits of broken furniture. There was smoke everywhere. The wall to my right had partially collapsed, a huge hole gaping in the middle of it.

Adrian was crouched to my left, his hand pressed against his left shoulder, his fingers coated with blood. A dark-haired man I’d never seen before was sprawled nearby, his massive shoulders protruding through the tight black t-shirt. A woman dressed in a black pantsuit jumped in front of the bed, shaking bits of ice off her long brown hair. Her dark eyes regarded me with curiosity a second before she lunged for me.

I scooted back and tried to get off the bed, but my knees wouldn’t support me, so I rolled to the floor, hitting my head on the edge of the nightstand. Pain erupted at the back of my skull, black spots dancing in my vision, but now wasn’t the time to go back to sleep.

The woman curled her pink lips at me, glancing in the direction of the hole in the wall. Adrian grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet. It took every ounce of my strength to keep myself upward, but I managed.

Who are you? I rasped. The noise of multiple feet came from the hallway, and I knew it was only a matter of time before more people showed up. Judging by the hesitant frown on the woman’s face, the people who were coming weren’t her friends. With one dark look at me, she pointed her gun at the man on the ground and fired. He yelped in surprise, then went still.

I’ll be coming for you, she announced, her eyes focusing on my hand, and jumped through the opening in the wall. Adrian moved next to me as if to go after her, but I placed my hand on his right shoulder.

Are you all right? I asked. His gray-blue eyes were wide, his mouth slightly open. Blood was still seeping freely from the wound in his shoulder, and I wondered whether he was in shock.

Say something, please. I don’t want this to be another dream. Even if we’d both almost died, I didn’t want this to be another figment of my tortured imagination. Adrian!

He blinked and rushed me, crushing me to his chest, his unhurt arm snaking around my waist. Ria, thank God!

Hey, nice to see you, too. I carefully wrapped my arms around him. Armed men ran inside, their eyes scanning the room for potential threats. I just hoped they didn’t think of Adrian and me as threats.

There was a woman... Adrian let go of me and approached one of the men who was the closest to us. A carrier. She ran.

Call the doc, one of the men yelled as he saw Adrian’s shoulder.

Ms. Milanez, you’re awake, someone exclaimed, but I couldn’t see who it was because there were too many people in the room. Some were assessing the damage, others were checking on the dead man on the ground, and the rest just looked alert. A beginning of a headache started to form behind my eyes, and I had to sit down on the bed.

Ria, hey, look at me. Adrian was at my side in a heartbeat, a concerned look on his face.

Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. It’s just... weird to be awake. I yawned. How long was I out? It was good to be able to feel my own body and move as I wished. I hadn’t even realized how much I missed Adrian’s warm touch until his fingers grazed mine.

Three months, he whispered.

What? I gaped at him. No, it couldn’t be. A prickly sensation traveled through my arm and I realized there was a needle stuck in my skin. One look at the machinery near the bed told me I’d been connected to it, but I must have ripped myself free. The machinery was broken now anyway. Three months? I repeated, shaking my head. No wonder I felt like the walking dead.

Adrian nodded, his eyes softening. I thought... I thought I lost you.

You didn’t. I could hear you, but... I swallowed past the tears. I’d only lost three months of my life. That wasn’t so bad, right? The nauseous feeling in my stomach told me otherwise.

Oh God, let me check that! A nurse rushed