Cyclone (An Elemental Series, #4) by Larissa Ladd by Larissa Ladd - Read Online

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Cyclone (An Elemental Series, #4) - Larissa Ladd

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Ladd

CHAPTER ONE

DYLAN HAD BEEN CONCERNED ABOUT Aira several times since he and his brother had taken on the job of guarding her from other elementals who would be interested in her strength. However, in the week following her grandmother’s death, that concern deepened. He knew there would be fallout after the tryst between her and Aiden, but he had not anticipated the sudden abrupt change in Aira’s demeanor. She was more unstable than ever, spending too much time by herself, and causing the wind to howl against the house, battering trees that had been standing for generations. He had hoped the house belonging to her grandmother and suffused with water energy would help stabilize the mercurial woman he had come to admire—instead, it seemed to be making her worse.

He told himself they wouldn’t be there much longer. There was still the Will to be read, and then they could go back to the relative normalcy of Aira’s apartment. Dylan thought with increasing urgency that the need to find Aira a mate was becoming more intense – someone to bring her turbulent behaviors under control, to temper her ferocious, overpowered energy. On the surface, she was the same as she had always been – flighty, temperamental, charming, and witty. A pleasure to be around. But Dylan could sense the upheaval in her; in spite of the rigorous training, she was beginning to lose her grip on the humanity of her elemental being.

It started small. He and Aiden had gone with her to the grocery store to pick up a few things; while the casseroles, roasts, and more had stocked the fridge amply, Aira had been restless, and wanted something fresh—vegetables and fruit, she’d said. Dylan had been a little concerned when she had gone through and picked up a few of every single thing in the produce section, including items that she admitted with a laugh she had no idea how to cook. She and Aiden had argued when she’d insisted on buying them anyway, which had resulted in Aira instinctively using her ability to force her will against his. It hadn’t worked—Aiden had held his own—and Aira had trembled with barely suppressed temper until they came to the cash register. The cashier made an unfortunate facial expression, and Aira’s talent flared out at the teenaged boy. She commanded him to go to his boss the minute the transaction was completed and announce that he was quitting. Aiden had only barely been able to stop the boy by using some of his own magic to counteract the hypnosis that Aira had put on him.

Gradually, such eruptions happened more and more, and Dylan and Aiden were both almost helpless to stop it. Aira calmed down after a couple of days, but there was the sense of simmering discontent, of an animal trapped in a cage, staring through the bars, that Dylan didn’t like. She became short-tempered with her family members, restless enough to risk endangering herself by walking out to the edges of the property for hours at a time, and irritable enough that even her ability to control the wind got away from her frequently. Dylan knew she was building up to a much larger breakdown; he could read the signs.

He wondered, though he didn’t mention it to either party, how much of Aira’s distress was caused by the incident with his brother. He didn’t have to be psychically in tune with either elemental to feel the pulse of lust between them. It almost hurt him to watch them avoiding each other—knowing they were doing it for different reasons. Aiden was avoiding Aira because he understood her distress to some degree, and didn’t want to worsen it. Aira was avoiding Aiden because she was losing control, and didn’t want to bring him down with her—and because she was afraid. The intensity of their desire for each other radiated like heat waves between them. Watching them, Dylan could only shake his head and wonder how something so obvious to him could go completely over their heads. He knew they both thought that any relationship between them would be doomed. Certainly, Dylan thought wryly, he wouldn’t be comfortable in the kind of relationship that Aiden and Aira would have.

Dylan knew he needed to get Aira away from her grandmother’s home as quickly as possible. Her grief, her physical pain from the injury still healing slowly in spite of his attempts to help it along, made her a danger when combined with the fact that it would take her months longer to become accustomed to the full power of elemental energy that ran through her veins. In her own home, in her own routine, Dylan hoped she would calm down. There was still a lot of work for her to do in order to master the power she had. Dylan only hoped Aira had the will and strength to do it.

Lorene, her grandmother, had confided in Dylan shortly before her death. He hadn’t known it was going to be so soon at the time, but the old water elemental had taken him aside and told him her fears and predictions. Aira is going to be in contention for the title of Regina Sylphaea. I told you she was going to be powerful—but the way she has developed, I’m afraid for her. If she doesn’t become the elemental ruler, there’s a very good chance that she will be put to death by the elders. Dylan knew how the elders viewed his charge; they thought she was dangerous in and of herself. He also knew the same view had been had of Lorene. Water, air, and fire elementals that were sufficiently powerful made the elders uncomfortable. Earth elementals of strong ability were not nearly as frightening; they typically manifested their abilities in less volatile ways. But Dylan had heard about Lorene’s antics from when she had first come into her full powers as an elemental. Flooding her parents’ house had only been the beginning. She’d had a keen insight, a psychic ability that had troubled many. Her ability to bring about the rain, a strong indicator of her talent, was another matter.

And so she had been forced, more or less, into an arranged marriage at a young age. Lorene had almost pursued a similar fate for her granddaughter, once she realized how strong Aira would become. It would have made some lives much easier if she had, Dylan thought. He chided himself every time the idea occurred to him; a woman like Aira would have ended up dead within years of such an alliance. She needed to find her own balance; she needed to gain her own stability.

Dylan was surprised by how anxious he felt with every passing day in the old woman’s home. It had been such a restful place to him up until her death and even in the first few days after. He knew the location, with its intense energy and elemental alignment, would be on his list of favorite places for the rest of his life, even if he never set foot on it again. But he could tell it was not doing the kind of good for Aira that it was for him. Aira was becoming increasingly manic, finding chores to do and risking further injury to herself. Dylan managed to divert her for an hour or two every day with practice of her skills, but she