“Kiarra, go,” Jaxton mumbled before his eyes fluttered closed. His body went limp and his hand fell away from the wound on his neck.
“No,” Kiarra whispered as she replaced his fallen hand with her own and put pressure on his wound.
She gripped his shoulder with her other hand and shook it, hoping like hell she could wake him up again. “Jaxton!”
One beat, then another. But Jaxton didn’t move.
Darius put a hand on her shoulder, but on instinct, flames appeared on her body and forced him away.
She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head. She wouldn’t—couldn’t—leave Jaxton to die.
Think, Kiarra, think. But what could she do?
If only there was a way to heal him enough to move. If there was ever a latent ability needed for a Talent’s army, that would be it.
The ability to both heal and destroy. Kiarra stilled as she remembered one of the last lines of Thomas Gladstone’s journal entry. What if she were a Talent? Then, logically, she should have the power to heal.
She had one last shot, and she was going to take it. She said over her shoulder, “Let me try one last thing, and if doesn’t work, I promise to go without a fight.”
The shadow-shifter huffed, but Kiarra ignored it and placed her other hand on Jaxton’s neck. Please let this work. The only problem? She didn’t know how to unleash elemental healing fire. Thinking back, her negative emotions had helped sustain the wall of fire and the defensive maneuver with Ty’s double. Maybe positive emotions would trigger healing abilities, if she had any.
She closed her eyes and concentrated on her positive memories.
Her first feeling of accomplishment when she’d bested Jaxton at the foot of the stairs. Feeling safe in his arms as he’d held her and rubbed her back. His refusal to walk away from her when things had gotten dangerous. His hands caressing her naked skin, his touch setting her on fire. His offer to kill a man simply because he’d hurt her. Jaxton willing to die if it meant she could live.
And most of all, his belief in her abilities and worth as a person.
Warmth filled her chest and radiated down her arms. She imagined Jaxton hale and hearty and fixed that image in her mind as she directed the warmth out of her hands and into Jaxton’s skin. A few people gasped, but Kiarra ignored them and kept her eyes closed. She focused on Jaxton arguing with her, making love to her, working with her on their next DEFEN
D mission. She wanted all of that. And more.
Jaxton needed to survive so she could tell him, because after this, she wasn’t going to share him with any other woman.
He was hers.
As the warmth continued to flow out of her hands, Kiarra struggled to stay upright as her head started to spin and her balance began to wobble. She opened her eyes as the last of the warmth left her hands, and she saw Jaxton’s green-eyed gaze right before she passed out.
James Sinclair clicked play and watched the video Giovanni had sent him one more time. The woman in the video put out her hands to block a guard’s blow and the earth suddenly shifted as rocks pushed up through the floor, creating a real-life barrier between the woman and the others in the room. Once the rocks stopped moving, the woman looked from her hands to the rocks and back again in surprise. That pause allowed enough time for guards to enter from another entrance and drug the woman into unconsciousness. The footage ended there.
While some would dismiss the woman’s actions as lucky, there were other factors at play. For one, the woman had been housed in a neutralization chamber. And more importantly, if Giovanni’s information was correct, the woman hadn’t had her hands facing to the north, the direction of elemental earth particles.
The woman in question was currently in custody, half drugged to prevent another incident, in a high-rise facility in Hong Kong. Giovanni’s source was willing to allow access, provided Giovanni was the one to do the investigating.
But Sinclair had reservations. His adopted son’s results with Kiarra had been mixed. The woman had been captured, but subsequently escaped. True, Giovanni had completed his assignment the second Kiarra Melini had been entrusted back to the AMT guards, but that wasn’t what worried him.
Sinclair’s contacts inside the research facility—Ramirez amongst them—had told him about Gio’s attempt at interrogating the woman captured in Edinburgh. Apparently Giovanni had lasted no more than a few minutes with the woman before he’d administered an overdose of rowanberry juice and killed her. While he appreciated the enthusiasm, he couldn’t have a repeat performance in Hong Kong. If the elemental abilities of first-borns were changing, Sinclair needed to know about it as soon as possible so he could adjust his strategies.
He glanced at the time, aware that the offer from Gio’s contact was only open for a few more hours. That would give Sinclair just enough time to put a few fail-safes in place to keep an eye on Giovanni and avoid any disasters; he was counting on Giovanni’s eventual failure, but he couldn’t let it happen too soon.
Sinclair picked up the phone and called in his first favor.
Jaxton rubbed his thumb against the back of Kiarra’s hand and wished for the thousandth time that she’d wake up. It’d been two days since he and Darius’s team had escaped the research facility, yet Kiarra remained unconscious.
Remarkably, the bruises on her face and the cut on her lip were gone. If he hadn’t seen them heal right before his eyes back at the research facility, he never would’ve believed it possible.
He still didn’t understand exactly what had happened. One minute he’d lain dying, begging Kiarra to leave, and the next he’d been jolted out of unconsciousness to see her glowing a soft orange-red, the exact color of firelight. He’d been weak from blood loss, his head clouded with pain, so a lot of what had happened was a blur, but he did remember the warmth spreading across his throat, stinging at first, but soon bringing relief. By the time Kiarra had fainted, he’d never felt stronger.