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Authors: Ella Drake

SeducetheFlame

BOOK: SeducetheFlame
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Seduce the Flame

Ella
Drake

 

Book 3 of Cinder Mated series.

 

Fire mage Ray has enough on his plate. He has to clean up
after a traitor in the Cinder Task Force plus attend his brother’s nuptials.
There’s no time to shore up his crumbling resistance to finding his own mate,
but the wedding proves he’s not immune. And water mage Clarissa is temptation
itself.

Clarissa has kept her attraction to Ray to herself. Still,
one little dance won’t be a problem. A lingering touch leads to another and her
powers erupt, endangering them all. Ray has to get Clarissa away but he doesn’t
trust himself alone with her.

Then there’s no choice. The traitor escapes and they’re on
the chase. Long-buried desires sunder control. The only way to save themselves
is to let their passions unite. As long as it isn’t too late.

 

A
Romantica®
paranormal erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave

 

Seduce the Flame
Ella Drake

 

Chapter One

 

Ray Cinder glowered at his personal assistant, Clarissa, who
knelt to take the pulse of the unconscious man sprawled on his lawn.

“Wait for Susan to drain his power,” Ray warned and reached for
her shoulder to guide her back. But he paused, as he always did before touching
Clarissa Eaton—with his fire power zinging along his skin urging him to
consume—and the rest of the scene, highlighted in the dark by the floodlights,
snapped back into focus.

A team of humans gifted with extraordinary powers gathered
at the back of his house, headquarters of the Cinder Task Force. The injured
man had tried to break in and steal confidential information—the names and
addresses of every known person with paranormal talents. But after a fight, CTF
had taken him down.

As the leader, Ray was in charge and fully responsible for
this mess. It was time to clean house. For good.

Near his black loafers, blackened remains of a phone smoked
and released a burnt plastic smell. It contained stolen files that could expose
the innocent para-talents under his protection. Para-talents were gifted with
an ability to control elemental forces to varying degrees, but he was among the
most powerful. A fire mage, he focused his will toward the damaged phone.
Flames leaped to life and burned in a controlled flash until the phone was
decimated.

He turned his attention to the remaining mess to be cleaned
up. Chairs were overturned and the air smelled like ozone—lightning and power
surges from a struggle. The grass in his carefully cultivated back lawn was
torn up in a few spots. Good thing his brother Griffin was a landscaper.

Instead of caring how the patio and backyard had been
damaged in a fight with the would-be home invader now subdued, Griffin sat on
the lawn and sucked face with the new woman who’d gotten them into this mess.
Astrid. Whispering to one another, they ignored everyone else. Everyone else
being Ray’s core team, CTF.

They definitely ignored the man on the ground. Former fiancé
to Astrid, Neil Nelson was the son of Vince Nelson, traitor to CTF. The two
Nelsons had pulled Astrid into their plot, but the power-sucking syphon had
fallen hard for Griffin. She’d seen the truth. CTF were the good guys.

Griffin picked up Astrid and held her against his chest.

“Isn’t that sweet?” Clarissa murmured and stood next to Ray.
Blonde, willowy and sharp-featured, she exemplified everything he’d ever wanted
and couldn’t have. All the way from her black pumps to her perfectly styled
business suit, topped with her precise haircut, she was perfect. What was she
doing dressed this time of night? Had she been on a date? His gut roiled and
his anger spiked further.

But no. She’d gone up to bed the same time he had—as part of
CTF she lived in the mansion. She’d just gotten dressed as quickly as he had.
No way she’d snuck back out and gone on a date. She had no need to sneak.

“No,” he growled. “Astrid is dangerous. A syphon. What are
you thinking?”

“I’m thinking someone in your family is brave enough to
claim his talent partner,” she intoned in a low, biting retort. She’d gotten
grumpier in the last few weeks and her usual diplomatic demeanor was nowhere in
evidence since this plot with Vince Nelson had been uncovered.

“We don’t have time for this. We have to question this man,
clean up the lawn, be sure this is all over, and do any damage control.”

Clarissa pursed her lips and his gaze snagged there. His
mouth watered but he didn’t move or even breathe until the moment passed and
she didn’t reply. Movement brought Ray around.

His brother carried the beautiful woman toward the house,
which some might consider romantic, but it was a risk. A weather mage
controlled storms, temperatures, and the wind. His opposite was a syphon, a
para-talent who could direct electrical power into the ground. It would be
dangerous for Griffin to touch one, much less run his mouth all over her as he
was doing now. Astrid was not a good mate choice.

“Griffin. Put her down,” he commanded but his brother kept
going.

“I’m claiming my partner. You said you’d take care of this.
I’m leaving it to you,” Griffin called as he crossed the wide patio and stepped
around the overturned furniture.

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Ray called after them,
but he was ignored as Griffin carried Astrid into the Cinder mansion.

Clarissa still stood close enough to Ray that the heat of
her body inspired his to a simmer. His fire always reached for her, but he
tamped his powers down.

“That’s what para-talents do when they find their mates.
They claim them.” The way Clarissa said
claim
, rough and wanting, made
the words stroke down his body and grip his cock.

“Sorry to break this up,” Susan, the CTF’s team syphon, came
from the house with a flashlight trained onto Neil lying on the ground. As she
passed, he could swear she said, “Again.”

“What does that mean?” Ray crossed his arms and turned his
glower on Susan.

His best friend, telepath Sean Twenty, came over to stand on
the other side of Ray, cross his arms, and glare down at their prisoner as
well. Mute and deaf without the presence of his mate Daisy, who could hear for
the both of them, Sean was welcome backup. They had Neil cornered but who knows
what he might try even with the threat of permanent power loss.

“He’s coming around.” Clarissa brushed against him and every
one of his cells came to life. She knelt next to Neil’s head and Ray’s arms
dropped to his sides as fists.

“He looks out cold to me.” He stepped nearer in case the man
made a move. Sean circled to the other side, his stance tense and ready to
pounce.

“I meant, I’ll bring him around.” Light glided over
Clarissa’s pale skin as her lips curled slowly. Her blonde hair gleamed in the
suddenly reappearing moonlight. She held her hand out and formed a cup. The
fresh scent of dew surrounded them and he knew without being able to see in the
shadows, her hand filled with water.

Her fingers spread.

Water splashed onto Neil’s face. His body bowed and his face
jerked to the side with a sputter.

“You know who I am and what I can do?” Susan didn’t need to
raise her voice or threaten. She sounded more like she was soothing a wild
animal than a potentially violent troublemaker.

“I do,” Neil croaked. His eyes opened but he didn’t move
otherwise. “You’re the power-sucking bitch the CTF pays off with blood money.”

Ray stepped between Neil and Clarissa. He wanted to move
Susan back, but she had to remain in physical contact with the prisoner. “Watch
your mouth around these nice ladies. Or I’ll let them kick your ass.”

Neil snorted and glared at Ray, but after a quick glance at
Sean and then to where his wrist was gripped by Susan, he didn’t move.

“Now I think you get the picture. I can drain what’s left of
your power if you cause trouble. Astrid did a number on you, didn’t she? Sucked
away most of your power during the struggle out here. Hard to sense your
electrical talent lurking down deep. Want me to snuff it out for you?”

“No.” The short reply gave away Neil’s nervous and weak
state.

“Slowly get to your feet. Susan is going to hold your hand
all the way into the house. Sean is going to make sure you don’t make a run for
it. Just answer a few questions.” Ray bent and grabbed Neil’s other wrist. With
a yank he got the man, swaying, to his feet. “If you cooperate, I’ll let you
decide. Permanent power loss or rehabilitation.”

Sean shook his head, letting Ray know he didn’t think
rehabilitation would work, but Ray led CTF as diplomatically as he could. The
Task Force’s sole function was to protect the community of paranormal talents
out there. Regular people without powers didn’t know they existed. CTF kept it
that way with the help of a few strong families who in their turn, watched over
territories all over the world. It was a bit feudal everywhere else, but the
Cinders tried to bring diplomacy and fairness to all dealings with the
talented. That meant giving men who’d tried to ruin them, kill them, a chance
to come clean.

They escorted a subdued Neil into the mansion and to the
conference room. It was as far away from Griffin’s room as possible. Ray was
pretty sure he was in there right now, having wild monkey sex with Astrid to
complete their mating. Once mated, their powers would enhance one another, and
if they balanced—and Ray feared they didn’t—they’d both be stronger and live
longer.

He glanced at Clarissa. Her eyes twinkled in the light and a
zing of lust stroked over him, to see her bathed in moonlight and nothing else
was a visual that haunted his dreams—along with others. Like, bending her lithe
body over his bed and shoving his cock into her tight pussy as she screamed for
more.

She flicked on the lights and he blinked.

The moment of weakness was gone. He’d only ever allowed a
few seconds of connection with the water mage. Any emotional harmony between
them was a risk. As much as he feared Griffin’s current mating going on
upstairs—damn Ray’s skin itched with the need for his own joining—he absolutely
wouldn’t entertain living out his fantasies of taking Clarissa as his own.
Years of celibacy and yearning had to continue. The first time he’d laid eyes
on Clarissa, all other women had ceased to attract him, but he could not give
in.

He was fire. She was water. Their talents were opposite, as
all para-talent partners must be, but when the fire curled in his gut,
simmering, her water remained calm and placid. They did not match. If they made
love, one of them would die. The risk was too great.

They’d met when he’d hired her as his personal assistant and
CTF’s accountant. At first, he’d maintained a professional distance as he was
ethically bound to do. Then, they’d somehow gotten locked in this room
together. This exact room. With the leather chair in the corner next to an end
table for more comfortable work arrangements. They’d come in here for a working
lunch. The door handle had been faulty. Instead of calling for help or busting
down the door, they’d stayed and chatted.

She’d asked him, “Do you ever take vacations? I’ve always
wanted to go to Fiji. All that water.”

A shudder had rocked him. She’d jolted from her chair and
knelt next to him in that damn leather chair, and reached a hand to his
forehead. “Are you okay?”

“Fine,” he’d mumbled. “Just thinking of all that water. Not
my ideal place to vacation.”

“Are you sure? They have volcanoes.” She’d laughed a sultry
sound and he’d frozen. His hard-on had hurt, shoving against the zipper of his
slacks.

“They’re extinct,” he’d managed.

“Well then, we could try somewhere else. Maybe Hawaii.”

Her laugh had morphed into a sigh, an invitation, and she’d licked
her lips. His hand, completely without his permission, and reached for her. His
finger stroked over the silk of her wet lip and he’d shuddered again.

Then the light bulbs in the room had all burst. The water
fountain in the corner had exploded as the water churned, and the fireplace—he
put them in every room possible in the mansion, it was the only reasonable
thing to do—had
wooshed
to life with a raging fire.

This was the strongest reaction he’d ever had to a woman,
and he’d felt true fear of his power for the first time. It’d teetered on the
edge of chaos in that split second.

In his haste to escape the room, he’d kicked the door open.
He’d sworn to never touch her again.

But he’d tried to date other women, and as the years went
on, he grew more impatient, more determined to protect them both from a
horrible mistake. They’d burn the house down around them if they ever made it
into a bedroom.

A delicate cough brought him around and he jerked his back
straight. It wasn’t like him to drift off into fantasyland.

“Are you going to stare at me all night, or question your
suspect here?” Clarissa’s soft question took a moment to sink in, as her voice
had distracted him with need. The need to bend her over the table and yank down
the smooth slacks that appeared seamless. No lines. He needed to see if she
wore panties. The fabric hugging her ass was so smooth, maybe she wore a thong.
Damn, at the thought of a thong, his mouth watered with the need to chew it
off. Tongue, teeth, and fingers exploring her thighs, her pussy, her tight ass.
His cock hardened and his ears buzzed.

Then a pop of noise splintered into his head. Sean stepped
into his line of vision and raised a brow.

“Man, you need to finally commit. This is messing with your
head.” Sean signed, then nodded toward Clarissa. It was the first time his best
friend had come right out and expressed an opinion on his quagmire with
Clarissa.

Ray opened his mouth, but he didn’t speak. This wasn’t the
time. Sean slashed a hand through the air, as usual, seeming to read his mind
without actually using his telepathy.

“See to the troublemaker here. I read him when I tied his
hands to the chair. He’s on the edge of giving up. He ran on some thin edge of
control to begin with. His father out of the picture, and his hold on Astrid
broken, with no power, he’s weak and ready for you to deal with him. Deal with
Clarissa later,” Sean signed.

They usually conversed using American Sign Language. Sean
could read lips, but Ray answered with a short nod—unable to form a word with
his mouth or his hands. His friend clapped him on the shoulder and went to the
back of the room. Usually it was Griffin’s job to stand as muscle backup, but
his brother was busy.

Ray glanced at Clarissa again. Her cheeks had pinkened but
she didn’t look at him. She looked mad, actually, and glared at the table in
front of Neil. Was she mad at him, or the prisoner?

“Get this bitch away from me,” Neil whined and stared at
Susan.

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