Authors: Hailey Edwards
Born of Fire
Born of Fire
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509
Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © 2009, Hailey Edwards. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
“That is awesome beyond words!” Max crowed. “How do you do that, Cilia?”
Cilia flexed her fingers and watched as the bright red flame leapt from her palm and hovered just over her skin. Max’s eyes widened as she brought her hand to her lips and blew a gentle breath across the glowing orb. The fireball floated from her fingertips and hovered in the air between them. Max took a step back and the ball tracked him, rolling closer. He flicked Cilia a nervous glance right before she clenched her fist and the fire extinguished in a puff of smoke. “I’m a Phoenix, Maxie. It’s what I do.”
The door to the apartment opened. Stella bustled into the kitchen and sniffed the air.
“Do you smell something burning?”
Cilia winked at Max. “No, Stella. Maybe it’s from the match I used to light the furnace.”
Stella rolled her eyes. “That pilot light is such a pain to keep going.” She walked over and dropped a kiss on Max’s head. “Thanks for watching Max for me. I know he’s a handful, but he loves to spend time with you.”
“No problem, Stella. You know I’d do anything for you guys.” And it was true. Cilia was a Phoenix; her biological was clock set to burst into flames every five hundred years or so, but she could deal. It was old hat now. She stood on the cusp of rejuvenation, with only a few decades left in this incarnation. She was used to outliving everyone around her and being reborn into the ceaseless cycle of life. What she had never become used to was the isolation. She craved companionship, and every time she watched a friend like Stella or Max pass away, it cut a little deeper. The worst thing about humans was their abbreviated life span. They were here and gone within the blink of an eye.
Cilia pushed back from the small kitchen table and brushed away the fine black powder coating her palms. “Just call if you need anything.”
Max rushed her, almost knocking her down. He wrapped his gangly arms around her waist and hugged her tight. “Bye, Cilia.”
The sweet warmth of his embrace drew her Phoenix to the surface. She felt its bristle of awareness at his touch, and beneath that, a subtle rising interest in a potential food source. Thermal energy was ambrosia, the fuel she needed to survive. Cilia drew her sustenance from the sun, but all living creatures emitted a low hum of energy the Phoenix found appealing.
Among their own kind, Phoenix could transfer heat and share energy with one another. It was a mark of affection and a sign of bonding, although most social heat exchanges stopped after a pair mated. A lone Phoenix could only siphon energy away, draining and eventually killing its donor. Devoured by flame and reduced to ashes, it was a death she wouldn’t wish on anyone, and certainly not on Max.
She pushed him back gently. “Bye, Maxie.” Then she stepped out into the hall. She braced on Stella’s door and waited to regain control. Cilia loved living close to so much life. The steady warmth each family exuded, the less complex lives they led, was comforting. Over time, the constant presence of humans had inured her to their appeal as nourishment. Their companionship was actually quite pleasant, and their lifespan far too short to end prematurely with carelessness.
Air stirred in the empty hallway; the scent of leather and clove surrounded her, heat washed over her as her sex went liquid. The heady aroma of fire filled her nose. She glanced down and saw her hands engulfed in flames. She looked around and patted her hands on her pants to put out the fire. She sniffed the air, but found only the usual traces of burnt food and humanity that always lingered in old buildings.
Suddenly, staying inside seemed like a bad idea. Her restraint had already been tested once tonight, and she didn’t dare risk her Phoenix rising a second time. It was dark outside, and with no sun to absorb energy from, she was a danger to anyone around her.
She decided a nice walk in the November night would help soothe her ragged nerves and cool the heat building between her legs. She walked down the hall and took the short set of stairs that led to the lobby. Her skin prickled, and the sensation of being watched intensified. She brushed it aside and stepped out.
The first lick of chilled air on her face calmed her nerves. She smiled and trotted down the steps of the small brownstone that housed her apartment. The small park across the street was empty and dark. Cilia headed for the track, planning to jog off her excess energy.
The first loop iced the flames licking along her insides. She’d started her second round when something inside of her shifted, and the scent of char and spice filled her nose. She spun around, but didn’t see anyone. Unnerved, she claimed a bench and waited to see if the strange tingle left her. When she was certain she was in control, she headed across the street and slipped into her apartment.
* * * *
Nothing fully sated him, why would this human be any different? She was a pleasant amusement, but nothing special. He imagined she would be disappointed to wake up alone, but then, she had no idea how grateful she should be to wake up at all.
He slipped black leather pants over his narrow hips, pulled a t-shirt over his head and cast one more longing look at the thin blonde in bed. Then he searched for his shoes, but quickly lost patience and materialized a pair onto his feet. He flexed his toes. Perfect.
Fiach ran an impatient hand through his hair and stepped out into the hall. He noticed a softly curved woman pressed against a door, while staring across the hall into a second one. He assumed she had forgotten her keys. Humans were forever forgetting things.
They locked themselves out of cars, and houses, and all manner of cages they built for themselves.
His body shimmered and disappeared. He’d had his fun and didn’t want to play knight-errant to the lady in distress. He strode past her. She stiffened as the displaced air stirred around her. She smelled nice; like cinnamon and burnt matches.
He made it to the lobby of the small apartment building before the implications hit him. He cursed. There was something familiar about the woman’s scent, something that spoke to the hellfire and brimstone of his origins. She wasn’t as he was; he would have known instantly. Still…he mulled it over. She was worth investigating… that echo of a memory told him with certainty that she was more than a mere mortal.
He turned to head back down the hall and almost ran right into her, which would have been inconvenient since he was invisible, not incorporeal. He sidestepped to let her pass and the air filled with her unique perfume. Entranced, he watched as she stepped from the brownstone into the cold air and made her way toward the park.
Darkness recessed as she entered the night. Fiach’s skin tingled at her nearness. How very interesting. He watched her jog a lap around the track, but the winds shifted and her head jerked up as she spun around, searching the night. She glanced left to right, but found nothing. She crossed the track and settled down on one of the benches.
She seemed familiar, but they were unacquainted. He would have remembered seeing her even without her distinctive scent. Her short black hair fluttered on the breeze.
He envisioned the ebony tresses longer, her eyes darker, and skin passion flushed. The picture was so real it felt remembered rather than imagined. She was beautiful, and her spiced fragrance made him hunger for something he couldn’t put a name to.
Fiach laughed to himself. His blood thrummed with arousal so sharp it was painful.
He wanted to close the distance that separated him from this most interesting discovery and take her across the bench where she rested. He would part her silky thighs and drink his fill from her core as she cried out from the pleasure he alone could give.
Like a startled doe, the woman lifted her head and strained to see into the darkness.
She felt the weight of his stare, and was unnerved by it, preparing to fight or flee. He thrilled to see her tense and prepare to face the unseen danger, but what he planned was a much more subtle attack. One he would pay dearly for, but one he guaranteed she would never see coming.
He had seen enough and knew what he had to do. He left the park and made his way back onto the sidewalk. He whipped out a cell phone, one of the more intelligent human inventions, and punched in a number. His call was answered on the first ring.
“This better be good, Fi.” A woman’s throaty purr rasped against the receiver.
“Baby, I’m always good.”
The voice giggled. The sound was pitched high, like a helium overdose, and then deepened into the husky chuckle of something obviously male. “I’ll have to take your word on that. What do you want?”
Fiach feigned hurt. “Why do you always think I want something?”
A harsh snort filled the line. “You only call Arvel when you want something.” A smug note entered the voice. “Something no one else can give you.”
Fiach weighed what he wanted against what he would have to pay. “I want an apartment. It’s on Chase, the small brownstone across from the park. I need space there for a month.”
Silence lingered on the line. “And the price?”
Fiach swallowed. “Name it.”
“The usual. Same place, same time.” The voice was coarser now, excited.
“Are you sure I can’t find you something different?”
“No. It’s you I want.” The voice paused. “Is it a deal?”
The hard-on Fiach had been nursing while watching the woman in the park turned flaccid as he spoke the words to seal the deal. “My word is given.”
“Excellent. The apartment will be ready by tomorrow night. You can claim the keys
“I can’t wait,” Fiach lied smoothly and threw the cell phone against the bricks of the building hard enough for it to erupt in a spray of black plastic and circuit boards.
The warm rays of the sun poured through Cilia’s window. Her skin prickled as their heat woke her from sleep. She loved to wake with the sun. Its radiant warmth fueled her and was as addictive to her as a morning cup of coffee was to humans. She basked in the glow, turning a slow circle in the rectangular patch of light that slanted across her floor.
She did a little dance and stirred the dust motes as she twirled around.
She skidded to a halt when she heard a rhythmic tapping on her door. She peeked through the Judas hole, but the fish-eye lens distorted the person standing on the other side. It was a man. Tall and broad shouldered. His face was turned away and half hidden.
She twisted the elliptical dead bolt lock and opened the door, keeping the chain firmly in place. The man turned towards her and inhaled, his breath catching as he pushed the air from his lungs. His shoulder-length hair was the same ebony shade as hers, and his golden skin bespoke of someone who enjoyed the sun as much as she. Oh, but his face. It was carved with thick brows, high cheeks, and full red lips. She tore her eyes away from his tempting mouth to ask, “Can I help you?”