A second chance born in fire…
The Elect, Book 2
Mallory Littman is the only human born child in an Elect family, but she’s far from normal. She can call fire, control it, mold it. As an arson investigator, she has a life separate from the Elect. No reason to live in their compound, or to try to mend the rift with her estranged husband.
Until a case involving an Elect mate forces her to return to the home she fled three years ago. Her nursing background makes her the best choice to infiltrate The Stirling Institute. It’d be an easier job if her ex didn’t insist on shadowing her every move—to keep her “safe”.
It’s not her body she’s worried about. It’s her heart.
Zach Littman made one major screw-up in his life. He let Mallory go. As long as she stayed away, he was willing to leave her be. But now she’s back in his territory, and he has every intention of making up for his past mistakes.
If she lives long enough…
Product WarningsTake one sexy, alpha scientist, add in an estranged wife, and he gets very creative winning her back. Contains make-up sex hot enough to singe, a little light bondage, a dangerous undercover mission, and a heroine who doesn’t quite breathe fire.
Copyright © 2012 Loribelle Hunt
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Arson investigator Mallory Littman pulled up to the call box at the imposing gates and took a deep, fortifying breath. The high walls concealed a very exclusive, very private community. Apartments, houses—heck, even a small town complete with schools. All of that was a few miles from her current location, though, and not her destination. She was going to one of the few houses that sat alone, where Braxton Lee, president of Lee Enterprises and leader of the Elect, lived and worked. It was amazing the place was such a well-kept secret. Mallory wondered—not for the first time—how long that would last.
The people who called themselves the Elect looked human, but they weren’t. Maybe they’d evolved alongside humans or maybe they were something new. That’s what their scientists believed, but Mallory wasn’t so sure. They were definitely different. Most were telepaths, but that wasn’t what set them apart. Plenty of humans were too. They were, however, stronger, faster and smarter. And insanely protective and possessive. They created a mental bond with their mates and rarely split up. And she was both one and not one of them. Usually their offspring were Elect. But not always. She should know. Her father and brothers were Elect, but despite having some unusual talents of her own, Mallory’s DNA was as human as her mother’s.
With a shake of her head, she leaned on the buzzer. She didn’t have time to ponder the intricacies of interspecies mating. She had a case to finalize, even though the official report would be a farce, and she needed Esme’s signature. But more importantly, Brax, Esme’s mate, was waiting on the information Mallory had gathered on the Stirling Institute, the mysterious group that was suddenly much too curious about the Elect. But hell, she wasn’t looking forward to going inside the compound. She knew who else was behind those damned gates. She used to live in there with him.
She’d thought at first that Zach would stop blaming her. That he would come around. She didn’t lose their child on purpose, after all. But she’d rarely seen him since that night. The first year they’d had very little contact. An email, the occasional phone call. She figured they’d both been too emotionally shattered. Later they’d tried face-to-face meetings. Dinners that started out well, but ended with both of them pissed off and bitter. He didn’t like the life she’d chosen, refused to bend even a little. Refused to see that she was a strong, independent adult. She didn’t need a man to take care of her. She could handle that herself, thank you very much. He thought she was weak. She’d made herself strong. He thought she needed a protector. She’d made herself a guardian.
And still, he stayed away.
She was surprised at how much that still hurt, but she sighed and bucked up and pushed the call button. He didn’t want her, so he probably wouldn’t even be around. But if that were true, why wouldn’t he sign the freaking divorce papers? She’d sent them twice in the last six months. Both times they were returned in shreds. And she was honest enough to admit a part of her was relieved. They couldn’t go on as they had. She ignored the tiny hope that there might be a way to repair their relationship.
The call box hissed. “Mallory Littman,” she said into it. “I have an appointment with Brax.”
They knew who she was. She wasn’t giving them more explanation than that. The voice on the other end surprised her, though. It was warm, welcoming and teasing, a familiar voice she was grateful to hear. She’d grown up in this compound, gotten married in it. Maybe she shouldn’t have stayed away so long.
“Returning to the fold, Mallory? Come on up,” Gabe said.
Her moment of pleasure was gone with a snap. She pushed down a surge of acrimony as she drove through the gates. Returning to the fold? Not likely. She wasn’t one of them. Her father and brothers were Elect, but she wasn’t. If it were up to her she wouldn’t have to deal with any of them at all. So why hadn’t she left Tampa? Why did she stay within range of temptation? She tamped down that thought. She’d learned the hard way how to hide her emotions from the Elect. It was the only way to survive in their midst.
A guard was waiting for her on the circular drive in front of Brax’s house and she left the keys in the ignition when she stepped out. He’d park it close by while she dealt with those inside. She didn’t plan on being here long. This case was going nowhere and she knew it. It was aggravating, but when Braxton Lee decided to bury something, it stayed buried. And she didn’t really disagree with his actions. She didn’t want to expose her family any more than he wanted to expose the rest of the species.
She didn’t wait for anyone to let her in, and it was like a time warp. Rocky Horror, here we come. Not one damned thing had changed about the gracious, spacious entryway. God, she’d loved this house. Loved living in it with Zach. Damn. It was time to leave Tampa. Time to leave Florida, and she knew it. He wasn’t coming around and she could get a job anywhere. She just needed that damned divorce. Why wouldn’t he give her that? He didn’t want anything to do with her so what would it hurt?
And please God, don’t let me run into him now. She was weak where he was concerned and she knew it. She’d tried in the beginning to get him back, allowing her brothers, who were worried about her mental state and what Zach might do to make it worse, to act as intermediaries. When that didn’t work, she’d tried on her own. Not that it had made a difference. He didn’t want her. He considered her inferior. Weak.
She trembled but straightened her spine. If he didn’t want her, he should let her go. Not that she’d take him back now anyway. There was just…too much bad history. Wasn’t there?
She walked into the huge foyer, went straight to Brax’s office, and son of a bitch, Zach was there. Her body responded immediately and she knew herself for the liar she was.
Just the sight of him still made her clench with need. She shoved her hands into her loose work pants and dug her fingernails into her palms, but the pinch of pain didn’t reduce her arousal. She hoped her expression was calm enough and she ignored Zach, turning instead to Brax. He was in charge, after all.
“Hello, Brax,” she said, genuinely happy to see him. Mason and Gabe were also in the room, and she nodded a greeting to them.
He’d always been nice to her. He smiled back her like he hadn’t just seen her a couple days ago and came around his desk. Of course, at the time she’d been stitching up a scratch from a bullet graze that Esme had received when she and Brax had been attacked. His hands gripped her upper arms and he leaned down to kiss her forehead. She ignored the growl behind her.
“You look good,” he said, stepping away.
She grinned and shrugged one shoulder. “I guess you could say I’ve come into my own.”
She knew what a dig that was and was unrepentant. Zach had abandoned her when she was twenty-five years old. She’d taken a break from the fire department to get a nursing degree, something Zach had wanted her to do. Something safe.
After her miscarriage, she’d finished the degree and returned to the fire department. There was no reason not to. She was independent. Her choices were her own. It may have been lonely, but it was a satisfying life and she didn’t regret it.
Zach, however, was making his displeasure clear. He was still in position near the door, his antagonism a tension that seemed to grate against her skin. It pissed her off and she turned to confront him.
“What is your problem?” she snapped.
“Maybe I don’t like my wife doing such a dangerous job.”
She cocked an eyebrow. “You really need to sign that paperwork, then. I haven’t been your wife for three years. I failed your test, remember?” she asked sweetly and was rewarded by a stricken look.
“I never said that.”
“Oh yeah, honey, you did.”
He took an aggressive step forward. “When? When did I ever say that?”
She frowned at him. What the hell was going on here? She shook it off. What did it matter?
“It’s been three years, Zach. You’ve had plenty of time to revisit this.” She paused. “And that is not why I’m here. I have an investigation to finish and a report to make. Not old history to rehash.”