Books

Elements of Destiny

(Aliens Among Us Series, Book 1)

On sale now at Amazon!E-BOOK COVER

Nyssa Estrella is no stranger to devastation. She works tirelessly for one of the world’s largest natural disaster relief organizations. Plagued by survivor’s guilt, she dedicates all her time to fighting the enigma that stole her mother away over a decade ago.

Nyssa is forced to face her past when a hurricane ravages Miami and she is saved by a gorgeous stranger, who commands the elements in a way that rivals Mother Nature.

When their passion awakens latent powers inside Nyssa, it sends her on a quest to find the truth about her mother’s disappearance and her family’s otherworldly origins. What she discovers will leave not only her own life hanging in the balance, but also the existence of all life, both human…and beyond.

 

Contests

  • 1st place in San Francisco Area RWA’s 2012 Heart-to-Heart Contest (Paranormal Category)
  • •1st runner up in Washington DC RWA’s 2013 Marlene Contest (Paranormal Category)
  • 2nd place in Connecticut RWA’s 2013 The Write Stuff Contest (Paranormal Category)
  • 3rd place in SoCal RWA’s Writer’s Conference 2013 California Hooker Contest (Overall, no category)


Read Excerpt from The Sync

1. Disaster

The man had been refusing rescue attempts all day.

Six by my last count. Leading some to believe he was suicidal, but I knew better. There’s a difference between those who seek out death and those who feel they don’t have the right to live. A concept I’d struggled with since the age of thirteen.

I leaned further out my side of the door-less helicopter and asked Hartley–ex-boyfriend and pilot extraordinaire–for a mid-air hover over Interstate 195, which snaked above and below the floodwaters of Biscayne Bay like the Loch Ness Monster.

Miami, nicknamed the “Magic City,” was officially the city under sixteen feet of water. A horrifically awe-inspiring sight, and unheard of for the month of January. Ninety percent of the city’s population heeded the mandatory evacuation order and fled town, leaving the destruction of Hurricane Joe, a Category 5, to befall only those who couldn’t fend for themselves.

“Come on Hart, just a little lower and I can make the drop.”

Typically, I wasn’t in the air during a relief effort. However, this particular survivor managed to piss off our entire rescue crew and now they refused to waste any more resources on someone with a death wish.

Though I understood, I wasn’t about to leave anyone wet, cold, starving and without clean drinking water.

“Nyssa, I don’t know why you bother,” Hart said into his helmet’s microphone.

I peered over my right shoulder to see my sandy haired pilot giving me his you-can’t-be-serious look.

“Tell me, Captain Grumps-A-Lot, is it difficult being a living contradiction?”

“Excuse me?”

“You know, being a brave rescue pilot and a heartless jerk.”

“Forgive me, but I like breathing and your old man is going to kill me for agreeing to this.”

I narrowed my gaze. “As opposed to how he’ll keep you alive when he finds out that you used one of our choppers last weekend to impress the new bookkeeper?”

“You wouldn’t dare…”

I mouthed the words, “Try me.”

“Fine,” Hart grunted.

I felt the chopper descend slowly and breathed a sigh of relief.

The reason for all this poorly delivered banter was perched on the roof of a late nineteen-eighties’ Oldsmobile. The only car on this stretch of the I-195 at least half above water.

As we closed in, I tried to time the drop just right, so it would land on the hood of the car and not on him.

The man sat motionless with his head down and legs crossed. His only clothing was a tattered pair of soaked jeans. He must be half frozen.

“Please, don’t move,” I muttered. “Just stay still.”

As if he heard me, the man turned his face skyward.

“Ouch!” A sharp stinging sensation on my hand pulled my attention away. “What the hell?” Veins of crackling blue light appeared and started creeping up my arm like a spider web.

Without warning, the chopper hit a bump in the atmospheric road and began to sputter. I grabbed onto the door frame for some stability and felt a rush of horror as the blue currents shot from my hand and spread over the length of the chopper’s cockpit.

“Um, Nyssa,” Hart shouted. “I think we got a problem.”

“What’s happening?”

“I…I don’t know. All of the controls have locked up.”

As the helicopter began to whirl out of control, the sheer force of our spin yanked me from the cabin. In the midst of my own screaming, I said the quickest prayer of my life.

 

*****

I woke to the feeling of something wet stroking my face. I attempted to lift my hand and brush it away, but I couldn’t move. It felt like my head had gone ten rounds with a blender. I tried to open my eyes, but they weren’t following orders.

My heart thudded in my chest like a humming bird with lead wings. My limbs were freezing cold and numb, which explained the rattling in my ears: my teeth were chattering. Calm down… Just breathe…You’re okay…I thought, hoping my vitals would respond.

I tried to open my eyelids once again and this time they fluttered. The stinging rays of sunlight burned my retinas once, twice, three times.

Someone moved me. I felt my upper body lifted and pulled into a tight embrace. A warm puff of air spread across my cheek, as a voice–unmistakably male–whispered in my ear. He chanted rhythmically, stringing the same few foreign words together over and over again. Deep, resonating, yet gentle.

“Shhh,” the man said as I tried to stir.

One of his hands moved up my body to cup my lower jaw. His thumb caressed my cheek back and forth, warming my frigid flesh in its wake. It occurred to me that I might have been crying, though I barely noticed.

“Shhh,” the man said again.

His warmth felt so good that, astonishingly, my body responded. My legs and arms drew closer to him.

After a moment of absolute bliss, a flash of blue light brought me back to reality and I remembered how I got there.

My eyes flew open and I stared into the face of the “man with the death wish.” I struggled from his hold and, surprisingly, he didn’t fight me. I fumbled out of his lap and used whatever strength I had to push myself farther from his reach.

I thought I was in the clear until he grabbed my ankle. I screamed.

He pointed to something behind me and spoke words that I didn’t understand.

I turned around and discovered we were surrounded by floodwater.

I was stranded on Oldsmobile Island with him.

“Oh my God! Where’s Hart?” I turned frantically, trying to take in the full 360 degrees of my surroundings, looking for any sign of fire or helicopter wreckage.

“Where did the chopper go?” I asked, finally turning to the man, whose eyes seemed to be studying me, until they flicked up and our gazes locked.

I closed my eyes for a minute to block out the man’s intense blue stare. “I’m sorry. I just don’t understand how I ended up here. Unless…” My eyes popped open. “You saved my life.”

The man’s gaze softened into a blank stare.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

He responded in his strange language and though it was completely inappropriate for a moment like this, I was captivated.

His olive skin glistened in the midday sun. Corded muscles bunched and flexed in his broad shoulders and upper arms as he moved himself to the far corner of the small surface we shared. His short, raven hair matched the eyebrows that were dragged down into a V-shape over deep inset eyes. Eyes that were filled with regret. With sorrow.

I knew that look. I recognized the guilt. The self-blame written in his expression. It made me wonder whom he had lost in the flood, or perhaps failed to save.

I felt drawn to him. The remorse in his eyes, called out to my own.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

He gave me yet another blank stare.

“Do you speak any English at all?” I felt one of those you-Tarzan-me-Jane moments coming on.

“My name is Nyssa.” I placed my right hand over my heart. “Nyssa,” I reiterated. This time tapping on my chest to emphasize I meant myself.

“Nee-ssa,” my rescuer repeated awkwardly, giving the ‘Y’ in my name more of an ‘E’ sound.

Okay, not bad when you consider I was called “Pissa” through most of my elementary school days.

He repeated my motions, raising his right hand to his chest and saying, “Teru.”

“Teru,” I repeated, making note that his name sounded like Peru, but with a T.

He grinned at me, but quickly sobered when I returned his smile.

Clearing my throat, I pushed my braid behind my shoulder, and slowly extended my hand.

“It’s nice to meet you, Teru.” I kept my voice soft, hoping that my tone would make some sense even if my words didn’t.

He met my gaze with wild eyes, as if he was scared to touch me.

But just as he was about to reach out, the sound of helicopter blades overhead came within earshot. The beat of the chopper’s blades kicked up wind, causing wisps of hair not bound to dance around my face. Teru grabbed my wrist and pulled me into him, taking me down to the car’s roof as if attempting to shield me.

“It’s okay! It’s not an aerial assault, I swear. They’re just trying to help,” I shouted.

I could see the chopper getting closer with a rescuer hanging from a rappel harness.

Teru rose to his feet and urged me to stay down by pushing on my shoulders. He stared at the helicopter like it was public enemy number one. His chest rose and with a great cry, he thrust both of his arms out to the side and then swung them forward.

Following his motion, two colossal waves surged up from the floodwaters and in the direction of the chopper.

Teru brought his hands together and I looked on in horror as the vast arms of water–like tentacles–crashed into each other, narrowly missing the dangling man.

I could feel my brain trying to reject what my eyes had clearly seen. People don’t control water! I was about to go into full denial mode, when Teru raised his arms once more and new tentacles of water rose from the bay at his command.

Unbelievable or not, I knew I had to stop him before he hurt someone. I muttered a quick, “Sorry” and rolled my entire body into the back of Teru’s legs. He instantly fell backward, over the top of me, landing on the car’s roof with a thud.

Gazing up into the sky, time seemed to slow.

I laid there and watched as the great walls of water redirected themselves to rain down upon our Oldsmobile Island with all the fury of Niagara Falls.

In some twisted sense, I took comfort in knowing that I would die the same way my mother had.