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Notorious
Author: Elle Thorne

Chapter 1

 

 

“Mae’s coming.” Circe Brazos scowled at her brother and sisters.

Marco her brother, the only brother she had—not to mention, her best friend, at least these days—lounged in the chair by the pool, stretched out, his lean muscular body absorbing the sun’s rays. Her sisters, the twins, as everyone called them, Camden and Eden were lying on their stomachs on towels, reading, letting the sun caress their voluptuous curves.

Hell, Circe was no stranger to curves, or voluptuousness. She had that market cornered with way more curves than she’d ever wanted when she was a teen. These days though, she appreciated her curves, relishing every inch of her body. She rolled over, pushed her sunglasses down so she could let Marco see her eyes—see the anger within. Deep within her, her elemental, Albani sizzled with fury. Albani was an electric elemental, and even more easily angered than Circe.

Marco raised his brow and put his phone down, mid-text. “You make it sound like the world’s coming to an end.”

Circe sat up with a huff. “You don’t think there’s a problem? After all the—”

Near the pool, a lightbulb shattered. Then another. Circe breathed deeply to gain control of Albani’s anger, her own anger, before they had to spend a fortune replacing the bulbs Albani was destroying.

The twins put their magazines down and looked at her, a question in their eyes.

They didn’t know her full history with Mae. She’d never shared. The only one she’d shared this with was Marco, a panther shifter elemental hybrid, just like her.

All four of the Brazos siblings were shifter elemental hybrids. Rare in the world. Even rarer, to have them be in the same family. It was no surprise the Order of Elementals had put the Brazos siblings in charge of the Order’s business, a business that was highly secretive, but crucial to shifters who found themselves with an elemental residing within.

Elementals had been known to kill their shifter hosts, and then they would move on, finding another host, just as they did with humans. But with the longevity and power of shifters, it made the relationship tenuous at best. Unless the shifter and the elemental could find a middle ground. No easy task. That’s where the Brazos siblings and the Order of Elementals came in.

Circe, Marco, Camden, and Eden were specialists at this. So, they were the powerhouse of the Order, and led by Circe as the first born.

“She wants something, you know.” Circe was still on the same topic.

The topic of Mae.

Mae.

Circe fought back a sneer.

“Yes, she does,” Marco answered.

Fury surged within Circe. Her skin burned with static electricity, making tiny crackling sounds she couldn’t control. Betrayal seethed within her, disappointment in her brother.

“You talked to her.” She let the words come from between her lips in a staccato. “You. Talked. To. Her.” She sucked air in and closed her eyes against the anger.

“I answered the call.” Marco’s voice was clipped. “We are the Order. We have a duty. A sworn duty,” he reminded her.

Circe opened tortured eyes, her dark gaze tormented by the past. “Yes.” She nodded, then whispered, “We do.”

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

Lincoln Avila, lion shifter and business mogul, leapt out of his bed, his lion snarling in his head.

The screams were horrific and high-pitched. He didn’t need time to realize what they were and where they were coming from.

Dina, his niece, and now his charge since her parents had both perished, was in her room, screaming. A few long strides made short work of the distance between his room and hers.

“Dina.” He kept his voice low and comforting so as not to alarm her more than she already was.

The first time this had happened, he hadn’t known—had overreacted. And had found himself surrounded by a ring of fire. Torn between comforting her and grabbing the fire extinguisher from the hall, he’d opted to put out the fire, though he’d suffered some burns on his legs and feet.

“Dina, baby. Uncle Linc’s here.” He scooped her into his arms.

Her dark eyes were a testimony to the hell she lived in her mind and body. She looked around, as if confused, then focused on his face. “Unca Linc?”

“Yes, baby. I’m here.”

“It happened. She wants me gone. She hates me. She’s going to kill me.”

He pushed her wild bed hair away from her face.

“I won’t let that happen. You know I won’t. You know it.”

“How can you stop it? She doesn’t come around when—” She gulped air in, beginning to hyperventilate while at the same time growling, her tigress eager to protect her was pushing for a shift. He saw the amber and gold flames flickering in her eyes.

“Dina, listen to me. I know how to stop it. I’ve heard there is someone who can help.”

“Who?” Her little girl voice, all of four years old, sounded more like a baby’s voice with the fear that clearly enveloped her.

“Some people, baby. Don’t worry. I got this.”

And he did. He would put aside all hate and all prejudice to make things better for Dina.

She was all he had, and by damn, he’d do his best to protect the little dark-haired, dark eyed beauty who was all that was left of Linc’s brother.

“I got this,” he whispered, more to himself than to her, holding her tightly as he made for the rocking recliner in the game room, knowing he was in for a long night of cradling his niece and keeping her calm so she didn’t burn down the house around them.

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

Gathered in the boardroom at the Order’s mansion, Circe tuned out her siblings while she flipped the pages of the file before her.

She forced her mind to concentrate on the task at hand and not on her traitorous cousin Mae.

The file contained the information on an incoming arrival at the order. A little girl, a hybrid. The child’s name was Dinaria Avila, called Dina. She was a tigress, fire elemental hybrid. Four years old.

Circe studied the picture of the little girl. Twinkling bright eyes with a gleam of amber in their depths. Her tigress was definitely dominant. Circe wondered how that played out with the elemental that was housed within the child’s body. The smile was innocent, her cheeks plump and full with the ruddy glow of health.

What an endearing child. She thought of the hell that the child might be going through with the elemental and the shifter battling within her.

It brought to mind Circe’s own childhood. The days of playing with Mae. Carefree days, before she took on the responsibility of the Order of Elementals. Before she removed Mae from her life.

“Earth to Circe.”

Circe glanced up at Marco, then smiled. “Sorry, was reading,” she covered up for her foray into the past.

He nodded, but his eyes told her he was not the least bit fooled by her excuse.

“Camden and Eden are flying out. They’re going to take care of the twin girls.”

Circe nodded. Twin girl bear shifters, barely older than toddlers, recently found to have elementals within. A perfect case for Camden and Eden.

“What about your case?” She tried to remember what Marco was working on, but for the life of her couldn’t get Mae’s impending arrival to leave the portion of her mind that wasn’t devoted to the case she’d be taking care of.

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