Authors: larissa ladd
An Elemental Series - Book One
Copyright © 2014 by Larissa Ladd
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, without prior written permission.
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Whirlwind/ Larissa Ladd. -- 1st ed.
Aira has always known that on her 23rd birthday her powers as an elemental would come into full bloom. But she didn’t know of her grandmother’s plans for an arranged marriage. The rationale? Marriage will protect Aira from those who want her dead or under their control. She’s even got two candidates lined up—Dylan and Aiden, two brothers who have “volunteered” to protect Aira as she comes into her full transformation. There’s no doubt the brothers are jump alive gorgeous, but how much danger, really, could she be in—unless she counted the handsome brothers and the danger they present to her heart and hormones?
WHIRLWIND is the inaugural book of an exciting new series filled with magic, mayhem and mad crazy love!
Aira had felt the changes in her body for months by the time the phone call from her grandmother came, inviting her to visit. The twinges, the shifts in her perception, weren’t as alarming as they might have been had she not expected them.
They mirrored the changes she’d gone through at various points in her youth. Once she’d begun showing promising abilities at the age of six, her grandmother kept her every summer from that point on. Aira’s bond with her grandmother was strong as a result.
Receiving training from the older woman, and pushing her way through adolescence while maintaining as level a mind as she possibly could, became more difficult as the manifestations of her abilities became more prominent.
The phone call and the invitation weren't a friendly request for a visit. Aira knew why her grandmother was inviting her to spend a few weeks at the family home. She wasn’t crazy about the interruption of her routine, but she knew she had to obey. An invitation from the family matriarch meant a great deal—particularly in light of Aira’s approaching birthday. If she tried to make an excuse, she would be on the receiving end of increasing pressure from her aunts, uncles, cousins—even her own mother. It wouldn’t stop until she agreed. It was easier just to give in immediately. So Aira put her life on hold, and made the seven-hour trek to the small, middle-of-nowhere town, where her grandmother lived. Whatever her grandmother had to talk to her about, it would be important and likely concern her coming-of-age.
Even at twenty-two, Aira was still considered by certain members of her family to be a child. Not because they were older than her exactly, but because of her still undeveloped abilities. She had been three when her grandmother first explained to her mother that Aira inherited the traits of the elemental, and with that came certain responsibilities and requirements. Aira’s mother had initially been in denial. None of Aira’s older siblings had shown signs and her mother had been hopeful the trait would skip the entire generation. By age five, however, her mother couldn’t ignore that Aira wasn’t simply intelligent. When Aira’s ability with language first emerged, it was a spectacle her mother would never forget.
It happened waiting in line at a grocery store. The couple in front of them began to argue about something in Japanese, and even though Aira had never heard Japanese in her life she understood every word they were exchanging. Being as young as she was, she didn’t understand why the adults were fussing about five cents. So, instinctively, she spoke to them, getting their attention and handed them five cents. The two looked at her, shocked. The look of surprise on her mother’s face made Aira wonder what she had done wrong. She hadn’t realized her comments had been made in an entirely foreign language. The words had come so readily that she had never considered the possibility what she was doing was strange.
“I’m sorry mommy,” Aira had said to her mother. She began to tear up at the thought of her mother being angry with her. “I didn’t mean to talk out of turn, but they were arguing.”
Her mother shushed her and the Japanese couple quickly finished their transaction and left.
From that point forward, there was no way her mother could deny Aira was an elemental—there was no other way to explain the sudden ability she had with languages. She had tested Aira when they arrived home, flipping through the foreign language channels and asking her what the people were saying. Aira only required a few minutes of listening to each to begin translating. That night, while Aira was in bed, her mother called her grandmother and arranged to take her to stay with her that summer. She would definitely need her grandmother’s training.
Every summer after, Aira stayed with her grandmother, and gradually learned everything she could about the world she belonged to. She had been taught to control her abilities, to use them to her advantage. Her grandmother had been slightly bewildered by the fact that Aira’s traits seemed to be aligned with air, like her grandfather’s had been. Aira’s grandmother was a water-aligned elemental and her children mostly had water traits with a few having earth traits. When Aira was nine, her grandfather passed away, leaving the two of them to figure out her training on their own. Her grandfather had been the one person in the family who knew what elemental air abilities were really like.
Aira knew she could expect to come into the full power of her elemental abilities when she was 23. The magic inherent in the abilities was keyed to her birthdate. Since she had been born during the sixth month, she began developing abilities in her sixth year. Being born on the 23rd day meant at the age of 23 she would reach her peak.
Because of this, Aira wasn’t entirely surprised to get the invitation to visit her grandmother just before her birthday. In some respects, she’d been expecting the invitation, knowing there would be details her grandmother would want to convey to her before she came into the full scope of her abilities. She also knew there were political issues brewing in the elemental world.
When she first started visiting her grandmother to receive training and education, it was Aira’s introduction to the world of elementals. While they were human, elementals occupied an odd space in the world. Inherent magic courses through their bodies, and that magical energy can be put to use in a variety of ways. There has never been a way to effectively gauge how a child born into an elemental family would align until they began to manifest their abilities if they were born with any. Most elementals gave birth to a similarly-aligned child. Only in the last several generations had elemental families of the world begun inter-marrying, encouraging more diversity in their offspring. Some of the elementals even married “normal” humans with less than predictable results.
Over the years Aira made contacts among the different families, sitting through boring luncheons with her grandmother. In later years, meeting up with young elementals of her own age for nights of drinking and partying. She hadn’t remained close to most of those she met, but Aira had done as she was told and formed acquaintances that she maintained minimal contact with. She was marginally aware that her grandmother was one of the ruling elite, potentially the most powerful water-aligned elemental among the living. She was also aware that her grandmother had high expectations for her.
Aira was exhausted by the time she reached her grandmother’s home. Her rental car bumped its way down the long, rough driveway that led from the road to the isolated house. It was late and traffic had been more backed up than she had anticipated, but as she got closer to the house, Aira’s fatigue began melting away. The energy surrounding the house drew her in, increasing her vitality. It was an effect she remembered from her earliest experiences of arriving at her grandmother’s. Her grandmother once said she’d picked the location of her house based on the energy field and had never regretted it.
Aira drove deep into the woods until the house surrounded by an enormous collection of luscious gardens came into view. It had always had restorative powers to everyone who visited —family, friends, even strangers who found themselves lost. Aira pulled through the gloomy darkness of the driveway with trees arching over, scraping the roof of the car. The clearing in front of the house, where her grandmother’s truck sat, was lit by a bright white security lamp, giving everything a silvery sheen. Aira shut off the engine. She smiled to herself as she walked toward the light shining from the bay window of the house. She had expected that, in spite of the late hour, her grandmother would still be awake.
Aira didn’t bother knocking. She called quietly as she entered.
“Grams, I’m here!” The sound of a recliner swiveling on its base floated through the air. She heard her grandmother stand to greet her. Aira hurried from the front door toward the living room and hugged her grandmother tightly, resting her face against the older woman’s shoulder. In spite of how serious she knew the meeting was, it was a relief to be around her. Aira took in a deep breath, feeling her grandmother’s dark energy, breathing in the smell of lilacs from her perfumed body powder and soap.
“O0h, Aira. It’s great to see you, girl.” Her grandmother hugged her with less strength but equal enthusiasm. Aira broke away, gesturing for her grandmother to re-seat herself and pulled a chair from the other side of the fireplace to face her grandmother. In spite of advanced age, Aira still recognized the qualities that made her grandmother so beautiful – bright green eyes, highly-arched eyebrows that remained dark even as her hair had gone white, and bone structure that gave her a mysterious air even when she smiled. Traits Aira had inherited a few of, though she had also inherited many of her grandfather’s more prominent traits, including his dark eye color. Aira’s grandmother glared at her for a long moment in silence. Aira knew better than to interrupt the appraisal. She sat quietly, in spite of the natural nervous energy that made her want to fidget.
“I’m happy that you’re here.” Her grandmother finally said, smiling faintly. “You’re getting stronger. I can feel it.” She studied Aira a moment more. “I can’t tell you everything I need to talk to you about tonight, but I’m glad you came.”
Aira chuckled, relaxing against the back of the wooden chair. “Of course I came, and thank you,” she replied. She respected her grandmother, but for years their relationship had been less formal. “If I hadn’t come, you would’ve sicced Aunt Suzanne, and my own mother, on me.”
Aira’s grandmother laughed, her bright green eyes sparkling with mischief.
“What they do on their own is none of my business,” she protested, smiling to show she knew very well Aira was right. After a moment she subsided, her face growing more serious. “This is very serious though, Aira. You’re coming into your own in such a short time, and there’s a lot going on in our world you need to be aware of.”
Aira had maintained some ties with elementals she had befriended during her teen years and while she had been at college, so she knew there was unrest, particularly among the less-established families. But that hadn’t impacted her—she was low man on the totem pole as far as her family was concerned. Her grandmother, as the matriarch, was more than equipped to handle the politics.
“I know, I know.” Aira said, somewhat dismissively. “The Reubens are frustrated with the lack of respect they’re getting from the rest of the community, and the Granger family is involved in a feud with the Fishers.”