Title: Breathing Betrayal (Elemental Evidence #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham (Pride Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: June 7, 2016 – 96,902 Words
Jake Chivis is the descendant of Fire Elementals with a gift for psychometry, the ability to see memories from touching objects. After a bad breakup and trouble at work, Jake gave up his career as a detective in Detroit and moved to England to join a research program studying Elemental gifts at University College London. It seemed like the perfect way to escape his past and start over, and this time he’s vowed not to fall into the trap of dating a coworker. At least that’s the plan, until he meets Doctor Ilmarinen Gale.
Mari Gale is blond, sexy, relentlessly academic and comfortable in his own skin in a way Jake envies. After a handful of embarrassing encounters, Jake is ready to resign himself to staying under the radar, but when a colleague’s brother goes missing, he and Mari must work together to find him. As they dig into the inexplicable disappearance, Jake is impressed with Mari’s competence and unique skills, and even more impressed by his ability to wrap Jake around his finger. Together the unlikely pair discover murder, betrayal, secrets and just how high Mari can fan Jake’s flames.
Rain pink-pink- pinked against the window pane and drip-drip- dripped into the pot that Jake had placed under the leak in the hallway. Murky gray morning light greeted him when he opened his eyes. Another drizzly day. He had thought that was just some persistent stereotype, a comic exaggeration—about how rainy it was in London—but so far, this month, it was turning out to be true.
Jake was steadily getting used to the weather. It really wasn’t all that different from his native Michigan. He had been told by his colleagues this was an unusually wet November and that when winter finally kicked off, it wouldn’t be as severe as he was accustomed to. That was something to be glad about, at least.
The weather was not the only thing he’d had to get used to after moving a little over three and a half thousand miles away from the only place he’d known. London was worlds away from Detroit. It was still alive for one thing, not a dying husk. It was cleaner too, even with more than ten times the population. London had its crime and its dangerous places just like any large city, but even the urban degeneration here had a certain vibrancy to it that was unlike the desperation and decay of Detroit.
Enough of that.
Thinking about home was a guaranteed way to put him in a bad mood. At least he didn’t hate his new abode.
The apartment was small and leaky but it was clean and bug free and he didn’t have a lot of stuff anyway. Four rooms—kitchen, bathroom, small living room and a closet-sized bedroom that was barely big enough to hold a double bed and the armoire. The kitchen was equally tiny. A small fridge, sink and an ancient two-burner stove. There was just enough counter space to plug in his coffeepot. He was not complaining. The small space made it easy to keep warm and clean and discouraged clutter. It was also paid for, which was another big plus.
He hadn’t liked that idea at first. He thought the university should just pay him outright and let him figure out how to deal with the rent and utilities, but he had to admit that having them take care of the bills took some of the worry off his mind. Unfortunately he still had plenty of other things to worry about.
No, he told himself firmly. He was not going to start off the day thinking about home and everything he’d deliberately left behind when he got on the plane. That was over.
Jake dragged himself out of bed and across the living room to the bathroom. After a quick slash, he washed his face, finger-combed his hair with wet hands then threw on some sweats and he was ready for his morning run. There would be time for a shower and food later. Back in Detroit, he would have started his day by driving to the track or the gym to work out before heading to the station house. Here he could walk or use public transportation to get just about anywhere he needed to go. At first the idea of not having a car, of not being able to just hop in and drive wherever he had to go, any time he wanted, had given him more of a panicky, trapped feeling than being an ocean away from everyone he knew and everything familiar. A car was the very first thing he’d asked about, after moving his meager belongings into the apartment. The research assistant who’d been assigned to ensuring he got settled in and had what he needed had told him to give it a week or two and, if he still wanted to purchase a car, the university would arrange it.
At the time, Jake had thought there was no possible way he could survive for so long without a vehicle at his disposal, but by the end of his first week he had explored the Tube, the cabs and the buses, got himself an Oyster card and found he could get around remarkably well without having to fight through traffic behind the wheel. He hadn’t brought up the need for a car again.
There was a small park only one street over from where he lived, and several right around the university, but they were little more than decorative green space—compact garden squares hemmed in by the tall, dark façades of houses and office buildings—nice for a picnic maybe, but not big enough for a run. Fortunately Regent’s Park was fairly close to where he lived and the paths and trails there were perfect. The park was never truly empty but this early in the morning, especially on such a wet, gray day, only the dedicated were out. They all had little earbuds or headphones on and their eyes were fixed forward, everyone in their own private bubbles. No one stopped to say good morning. No one drew him to one side to ask if he could touch their grandmother’s wedding ring and tell them if she’d hidden cash somewhere in the attic. It was great. It was almost perfect, except for one thing.
There was one other person from the university that liked to run the same route he did and while Jake didn’t see him every morning, it happened often enough that he’d started looking for the guy while he ran. That annoyed him. Running was his time to clear his head. It was meditative.
He could tune out and think of nothing. Or at least he could until he started paying more attention to the people he passed than he did the simple rhythm of putting one foot down in front of the other. Now during his morning runs, he was distracted by looking around to see if he’d catch sight of a particular slender figure whose long legs ate up the distance like the wind.
Jake told himself that he was only looking so that he could avoid him, and thereby avoid having to make polite conversation. It definitely wasn’t because of the way the ridiculously tight Lycra leggings he wore outlined every muscle in his lean thighs or the way his perfect ass looked so tasty in them. No, not at all.
Jake never had been very good at lying to himself. Even so, admiring that sexy little derrière from a distance was all he would do. He had learned his lesson about getting involved with coworkers. Anyway, it was unlikely he’d see him today, given the dismal weather. He could stop looking around and just concentrate on pushing himself.