Being a Storm Rider is no easy task, especially when it comes to riding hurricanes. Cecilia and Seth are partners in work, but not in love. Their shared feelings have been buried for a long time. When an angel plummets from Heaven, they must face their darkest fears.
Jacob might be an angel, but he’s not who he appears to be. Once he meets Cecilia, he wants nothing more than to love her. However, he has to confront his brethren to avert an oncoming war. When things go horribly wrong, he turns to Seth to help him save the woman they both love.
The balmy air of South Florida pressed Seth’s shirt to his sticky skin. No matter how much shade he struggled to find, he was sweating out the gallons of water he drank. At the moment, he wished for a cold shower, but that was a very long ways away. He still had acres of swampland to go through before he could call it a day. They were in the Everglades, trying to locate some tagged wild manatee. Since the mammals were endangered, they tried to make an accurate count of them. However, it was difficult because they were always moving, and sometimes their tags fell off. The harmless creatures were being killed or injured. He didn’t like seeing any animal hurt, but nature had to take its course. Today, he was helping one of his regulars, Sonia. He lent the airboat out a couple of times a month to local universities to help in their field studies. Sonia was a lab assistant at the University of Miami, studying to get her Ph.D. During his off time, he wrestled alligators for a pest control company whenever they needed extra help. He’d never had to kill one because they always managed to get it back into the wild. Cecilia, his copartner, ran deep-sea fishing trips for tourists and brought them out to scuba dive when the season permitted along the reefs. When they weren’t doing their jobs, they had a vocation they had pledged their lives to.
Seth felt a small breeze caress his face and the wind blow through his hair, teasing the short tendrils from his ponytail. His skin was permanently tan from spending so much time in the sun. His hands were calloused from the years of heavy labor he’d endured. The water had always been a part of his life. In the past, he’d been everything from a riverboat captain on the Mississippi to a crewman on the Titanic. He shivered, thinking about the time he had spent in the frigid waters of the Northern Atlantic. He had come a long way from there. He’d even been a pirate. Argh! Now he was a simple boatman who enjoyed his time basking in the sun.
He had another job he devoted his life to, which was wrestling hurricanes—almost worse than handling alligators. Almost. The last storm had been a whopper to keep the revolution on path. The weatherman had classified the storm as having one-hundred-mile-an-hour winds. The clouds had wanted to break away from their circular pattern. He and his partner had raced around the storm to keep it rotating. The largeness of it made it hard to control, but he and Cecilia were able to keep it going. Cecilia preferred to ride the eye of the hurricane. He enjoyed staying on the outer edges of the storm. They were the Storm Riders who ruled over the element of water. With a quick flick of his hand, he could gather the clouds and make it rain. Wind was a secondary power they had because it went hand in hand with the storms they rode. Sometimes, he had arguments with the tornado wranglers concerning who had the stronger power. It was always a fight no one could win because their powers were evenly matched, only in different ways. Seth and Cecilia’s job was to direct the hurricanes to their proper track. If they went out of control, then it meant hundreds of people could die because there was a certain order of things. If that order changed, then they were held accountable. He wasn’t ready to be brought before the angels and be punished for a slip-up.
He wondered how his partner was doing. He hadn’t seen her in a week or so. She’d better be taking care of things. He and Cecilia had been assigned to their territory for eighty years. His last partner had brought him on board at the turn of the nineteenth century. Twenty years later, he had left and found a wife after two hundred years of service. Three months later, his boss showed up with Cecilia. Seth shivered, remembering the first time he had seen her.
She was nothing more than a wisp of a girl, sopping wet in the rain when she arrived, stuffed in an oversized raincoat which his boss had given her. Her brown hair was wavy and hung to her shoulders, and she was trembling. At first, he didn’t understand what was going on. Even now, he pondered how she became his partner. Sometimes, he sat back and considered how his petite partner could ride a storm like the best of them and hold her own. No one could challenge her. She was a spitfire, and she rode like a valkyrie on her warhorse, holding the elements at bay. They worked side by side for so long that she was now his best friend and confidante although after their one romantic encounter, their relationship had hardened.
“Hey, I think I see one,” Sonia called, reeling him back from his thoughts.
Seth pulled the boat around and then peered over the side. Deep in the seaweed, he saw one of the sweet creatures that reminded him of a seal but were friendlier. He stuck his hand in the water and swished it around, trying to entice the manatee to come closer to the surface.
“She won’t come to you.” Sonia checked her equipment again.
Want to bet? He trailed his fingers over the water. The animal didn’t appear interested in him at all. He sent a small current of power into the water and summoned his steed, Lir. After a moment, he felt something nibbling on his fingertips. From under the water, he saw the reflection of his steed. His blue-green eyes stared up at him.
He ignored the sarcasm in Lir’s tone. I was hoping you could help me, oh god of the ocean, most beautiful and beloved of all of the sea horses.
You sure know how to butter a guy up, his mount answered. What do you want?
He glanced at his passenger. She was still engrossed in her data logger. He had to be sure that she hadn’t noticed the horse in the water. It would be hard to explain to a normal human. Can you please ask the manatee to come up here? We just want to see if she’s okay and tag her.
The horse rolled its eyes. Only if you give me part of your carrot cake the next time Cecilia bakes.
He chewed on his lip. In their down time, his partner was one hell of a baker. His favorite was carrot cake, and she made it when she was in a good mood, which was rare these days. Their steeds loved the treat as well, but Cecilia was strict about giving it to them. She didn’t want them to be unhealthy. He reminded her that they were elemental beings, so one piece of cake wasn’t going to hurt them, but she wouldn’t hear it.
Fine, but if she gets wind that you had it, I was not the one who gave it to you.
Of course not. I’ll blame it on Nala. And then she’ll get mad at me, but that’s nothing new.
Why do you antagonize her all the time?
His steed eyed him. Why do you throw Cecilia in the water all the time when you two are alone on the boat?
His grin widened. Because it’s fun.
Well, then, you have your answer.
“What are you smiling about?” Sonia asked.
“Nothing.” He felt something nibbling on his fingers again.
“Well, I’ll be damned. She came up. And look, she has a calf with her.” The excitement in Sonia’s voice was apparent when she peered into the water. The manatee surfaced, took a breath, then snorted the water into her face. He chuckled.
“I think she likes you.”
The manatee swam closer to the boat. The assistant grabbed a small tool which looked like a gun and popped it into the animal’s tail. Seth trained his eyes on Sonia’s firm ass. If you weren’t one of my customers, I’d lay you down in the boat and make you cry out my name. God, I’d love to hit that.
Down, boy. Even you can’t bring everything you see home to the sack.
He ignored Lir’s comment and watched Sonia’s ass wiggle as she leaned far over the boat’s side. While she began recording her data into her journal, a rumble of thunder shook the sky above. A cold tingle coiled around his spine. An angry storm was rolling in. He didn’t think it was one which he would have to ride, but being out on the open water during any kind of a storm was a disaster waiting to happen. He studied the horizon and felt the atmosphere tightening.
“You need to get your stuff together. We have to get going.”
She glanced at him and then up at the clouds.