Rachel Caine: Heat Stroke

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Rachel Caine Heat Stroke
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    Heat Stroke
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Heat Stroke: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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In Rachel Caine’s tempestuous follow-up to —forecast as “a fun read” by bestselling author Jim Butcher—the Wardens Association still protects the human race from extermination by climatic extremes, when they’re not turning on their own…. Accused of murder, Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin was chased across the country—and killed—by a team charged with hunting down rogue Wardens. Five days later, Joanne had a lovely funeral and was posthumously cleared of all charges. Her human life was over, but she had been reborn into Djinnhood. Now, until she masters her enhanced powers, Joanne must try to avoid being “claimed” by a human. But when a hazard that only a Djinn could sense infiltrates Earth’s atmosphere, Joanne must somehow convince someone to do something about it—or the forecast will be deadly. So who said being all-powerful was going to be easy?

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I sucked in another breath and stretched—my human-feeling body still liked the sensation, even though it wasn’t tired, wasn’t thirsty or hungry or in need of bathroom facilities—and turned to David…

Who was awake and watching me. His eyes weren’t brown now, they were sun-sparked copper, deep and gold-flecked, entirely inhuman. He was too beautiful to be possible in anything but dreams.

The car shuddered as three eighteen-wheelers blew past and slammed wind gusts into us—a rude reminder that it wasn’t a dream, after all. Not that reality was looking all that bad.

“What now?” I asked. I wasn’t just asking about driving directions, and David knew it. He reached out and captured my hand, looked down at it, rubbed a thumb light and warm as breath across my knuckles.

“There are some things I need to teach you.”

And there went the perv-cam again, showing me all the different things he probably didn’t mean…

“So we should get a room,” he finished, and when he met my eyes again, the heart I didn’t really have skipped a beat or two.

“Oh,” I breathed. “A room. Sure. Absolutely.”

He kept hold of my hand, and his index finger traced light whorls over my palm, teasing what I supposed wasn’t really a lifeline anymore. The finger moved slowly up over the translucent skin of my wrist, waking shivers. God. I didn’t even mean to, but somehow I was seeing him on the aetheric level, that altered plane of reality where certain people, like Wardens and Djinn, can read energy patterns and see things in an entirely different spectrum.

He was pure fire, shifting and flaring and burning with the intensity of a star.

“You’re feeling better,” I said. No way to read expressions, on the aetheric, but I could almost feel the shape of his smile.

“A little,” he agreed. “And you do have things to learn.”

“You’re going to teach me?”

His voice went deep and husky. “Absolutely. As soon as we have some privacy.”

I retrieved my hand, jammed Mona into first gear, and peeled rubber.

We picked an upper-class hotel in Manhattan, valeted Mona into a parking garage with rates so high it had to be run by the Mafia. I wondered how much ransom we were going to have to pay Guido to get her back. We strolled into the high-class marble and mahogany lobby brazenly unconcerned by our lack of luggage.

“Wow,” I said, and looked around appreciatively. “Sweet.” It had that old-rich ambiance that most places try to create with knockoff antiques and reproduction rugs, but as I trailed my fingers over a mahogany side table I could feel the depth of history in it, stretching back to the generations of maids who’d polished it, to the eighteenth-century worker who’d planed the wood, to the tree that stood tall in the forest.

Nothing fake about this place. Well, okay, the couches were modern, but you have to prefer comfort over authenticity in some things. The giant Persian rug was certainly real enough to make up the difference.

The place smelled of that best incense of all—old money.

David waited in line patiently at the long marble counter while the business travelers ahead of him presented American Express cards and listened to voice mail on cell phones. A thought occurred to me, and I tugged at the sleeve of his olive drab coat. “Hey. Why—”

“—check in?” he finished for me. “Two reasons. First, it’s easier, and you’ll find that the less power you use unnecessarily, the better off you are. Second, I don’t think you’re ready to be living my life quite yet. One step at a time.”

He reached into his pocket and came out with— an American Express card. I blinked at it. It said David L Prince in raised letters. “Cool. Is that real?” I said it too loudly.

His eyes widened behind concealing little round glasses. “Not a great question when we’re about to use it to pay for the room, is it?”

Oh. I’d been figuring we were still in some unnoticeable fog, but clearly not; the guy in line ahead of me was distracted enough from the cell phone glued to his ear to throw us a suspicious look. True, we didn’t have the glossy spa-treated look of the rich, or the unlimited-expense-account confidence of the corporate, but we weren’t exactly looking like homeless, either. I shot him a sarcastic smile. He turned back to his business.

“Sorry,” I said, more softly, to David. “Obviously, yes, it’s real, of course. I mean—hell, I don’t know what I mean. Sorry. Um… where do they send the bills?”

“Not to me.”

His smile made my train of thought derail and crash. Cell Phone Guy in front of us picked up his room key and got out of line; David and I moved up to the counter, where a highly polished young lady too nice for New York did all the check-in things, issued us plastic key cards, and fired off amenities too fast for me to follow. A uniformed bellman veered out of our path when he saw we were bag-free and gave us a look that meant he was no stranger to couples arriving for short, intense bursts of time.

David took my arm and walked me to the elevators, across the huge Persian rug, past a silent piano and a muted big-screen TV that was showing some morning show with perfect people interviewing more perfect people. We rode the elevator with Cell Phone Guy, who was still connected and chatting about market share and a corporate vice president’s affair with the wife of a global board member. The latter sounded interesting. As it happened, we were both on the same floor—twelve—and he looked at us like we might be after his wallet or his life, but before long he peeled away to a room and we continued on, down a long hallway and to a bright-polished wooden door with the number 1215 on it.

David didn’t bother with the key card. He touched the door with his finger, and it just swung open.

I looked at him. “What happened to ‘the less you use, the better’?”

He scooped me up in his arms and carried me over the threshold. Gravity slipped sideways, and I put my arms around his neck until he settled me down with my feet on the carpet.

“What was that for?” I asked. He felt fever-hot against me, and those eyes—God. Intense, focused, hungry.

“Luck,” he said, and kissed me. I felt instant heat slam through me, liquefying me in equal proportion to how incredibly real he felt against me, and I felt a feverish urge to be naked with this man, right now, to be sure that all of this wasn’t just a particularly lovely dream on the way to the grave and oh God his hands burned right through my clothes like they weren’t there.

And then, as his palms glided up my sides, wrinkling fabric, the cloth melted away and disappeared, and then it was just flesh, and fire, and the taste of David’s lips and tongue. I felt myself burn and go faint with heat stroke, revived with the cool relief of his skin.

And if it was a dream, it was the best I’d ever had.

In the morning, we got down to the work of teaching me to be a Djinn.

I’m not what you could call spiritual, so learning how to be spiritual—in the true spirit sense of the word—was a challenge. Sure, I’d been a Warden, but calling the wind and calming storms was all about science for me. I understood it in the way a child of the atomic age would, which meant subatomic particles and chaos theory and wave motion. Hell, I’d been a weather-controlling bureaucrat, when you came right down to it. Nothing that you might call preparation for being granted power on a legendary scale.

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