Book One in Ember: Silver Skates
I should be the world champion, but fate always conspires against me. I think I need a beer!
I don't know why I've come back to this hell hole. People say that Silver Springs is the ideal place for someone like me. It's a town full of supes, but it has never felt like home to me.
I need a place to skate, preferably without melting the rink so when I hear that Silver Springs has a brand new magical rink that even my Kitsune fire magic won't melt, I return to the small paranormal town.
I'm focused on one thing and one thing alone, training for the World Figure Skating Championships. This might be my last chance at getting the title and I'm not going to waste it. I'm not the only one who wants to win. Three time World Champion, Addie Ravenwood is determined to take the trophy home for a fourth time and she's more than willing to play dirty.
Somehow we find ourselves fighting over the three sexy brothers who run the Silver Stein Brewery, instead of practicing our skating technique. Can I have it all; the world title, the three gorgeous angels and the chance to finally give Addie Ravenwood the middle finger?
Ember is a paranormal romcom with magical skates and multiple mates guaranteed to make you laugh and belongs to the Silver Springs Universe.
I can’t believe I’m back here again!
I really hate this town. There’s something about it that just makes my skin crawl. It’s probably the same feeling that most orphans get when they find themselves back in the hell hole they were abandoned in. I wouldn’t be back here in this god-awful town at all if it wasn’t for the magical skating rink that just opened.
If I’m going to be the world champion figure skater at long last—and win the one competition I absolutely must—I’m going to have to up my game and get some serious practice in.
Pulling on my skates, the ones that are almost as old as I am, I set out onto the ice. Someone once told me that dancing is a lot like sex. Some people are good at it and others have zero control over their own limbs. I can safely say I’ve had some shitty sex in the past, but I’ve never felt more alive than when I’m on the ice.
It’s hard to control your own body when it burns up a storm at just the smallest of touches, but on the ice, at least a magical rink like this one, that doesn’t matter. I can’t possibly melt this rink and for that, I’m unbelievably grateful. This might be the first year that I actually stand a real chance of winning the championship.
I glide between the crowds with a grace that I’ve never had off the ice. I’m more in control here. Elegant even. People stop skating to watch as I perform several pirouettes before leaping into the air. I’m used to the attention. People always stop and stare when I’m on the ice. Off the ice, not so much. Out there, I’m a clumsy red head with no control over her body.
My eyes catch sight of a little girl and a man that I can only presume is her father. He’s slowly guiding her across the ice, the way my dad used to before he left me at the Silver Springs Orphanage. I choke up at the sight, but I’m unable to look away.
I run laps around them, and a hot tear drops down my face.
Brushing it away with my hand, I increase my speed across the ice.
“Look, Daddy! I’m doing it!”
She’s skating on her own as her father claps his hands, a wide, proud smile on his face.
“Good job, Avery!”
Ignore them. I’m not here to watch other people skate. I’m here to hone my skill so that I can be the world champion figure skater.
Twirling around on the ice, I focus my attention on the way my arms move through the air but I can’t help but smile when I hear that little girl ask her daddy if she’ll be able to skate like me one day. That small moment of distraction costs me a fall on the ice.
On any other rink, that fall would result in a puddle at my feet as my hot skin melted the ice. But not this one. Here, I can just get back up and carry on skating.
Or at least I would be able to if my bloody skate wasn’t broken. I curse under my breath before looking around for a stall where I can rent a pair of skates, something I’ve never done before. Hobbling to my feet, I’m surprised when a hand is held out to help me up.
I look up at the person who has offered to help me, to be met with the eyes of the man I was watching only moments ago with his daughter.
“Daddy, is the lady hurt?” the small girl asks from only a meter away.
“N-Yes,” he answers.
“I’m fine,” I reassure them. I take his hand, enjoying the way his skin feels cool against mine. Then again, everything feels cold to me. A thing that’s pretty much guaranteed when you’re a Fire Kitsune.
“Is she okay?” The child asks again, confused by our conflicting answers.
“N-n-y-no.” His answer is completely baffling. I’m completely fine. “Bloody hell.”
“I told you I’m fine. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with me.”
The little girl looks up at her daddy, shaking her head. “Daddy is having a little problem with the word no.”
I don’t know quite what to make of that. How can a grown man have a problem with the word no? It’s one syllable, for god’s sake. I’m tempted to ask him about it, but it’s really not any of my business, so instead, shivering slightly, I thank him before making my way awkwardly off the ice.
I regret walking away from him almost immediately.
Something inside me feels drawn back to him, but I ignore it. I’m here to skate and nothing else.
Without so much as another glance in the man or his daughter’s direction, I sit down and remove my skates as soon as I’m off the ice. My ankle is beginning to swell up slightly. That’s the last thing I need. Wrapping my hand around my ankle, I allow the heat from my palm to warm my ankle, all the while psyching myself up to walk on it.
I need to get myself one of those spelled jerseys the hockey team have, if I’m going to make a repeat performance of falling flat on my face.
“How is your ankle?” My coach pushes past several people to reach me. Kneeling in front of me, he takes my foot into his lap to inspect it. If I didn’t know him better, I’d definitely have a thing for him. He’s got the best hair I’ve ever seen on a guy and the brightest blue eyes, but he’s also got the arrogance to match.
He knows he’s hot. He knows he’s the best coach around. And he knows he can skate better than pretty much anyone in the room.
That self assurance would be attractive if he didn’t have such a massive tendency to brag and complain. I shouldn’t grumble. His bragging pushes me on to improve because I won’t be beaten by my coach and his complaints usually guarantee that I get the best of everything.
He puts my needs first when it comes to skating, at least.
“You shouldn’t even be on the ice,” he grumbles as I feel a tendril of his magic seep into my skin, relieving the burn. “There’s far too many people out there.”
That’s the other thing about my coach. Garrick is a witch. A moody shit of a witch.
When he releases my foot, I give it a stretch, testing to see if it is still painful. I smile down at him when I find the pain has completely vanished.
“Thank you. I should get back on the ice.”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort,” he growls at me, getting back to his feet and looking around. “Your skate is broken and I’m not having you hurt more than just your ankle.”
“I can rent some skates,” I argue.
“I said no.” That’s the end of the discussion. That’s another thing about Garrick. There’s no talking him around to my way of thinking. “I’ll get your skates fixed. You head back to Tilbury Manor and elevate your foot.”
I open my mouth to argue—what’s the point in elevating my foot when he’s already fixed me up?—but the look on his face stops the words that are ready to trip off the tip of my tongue.
“Alright,” I accept, pulling on my winter boots, all the while making a mental list of things that I can do instead of elevating my foot.
“I don’t want to see you here tomorrow.” He’s glaring at me like he thinks I’m incapable of obeying his order.
“That’s okay,” I say smoothly. “I need to find somewhere to live, anyway.”
“Aren’t you happy at the manor?” He asks, surprised.
“It’s a hotel,” I grumble. “It’s not home.”
“I didn’t realize you were planning on staying here long enough to get somewhere to live.”
He doesn’t understand and, in fairness, most people wouldn’t. It doesn’t matter if I’ll be here only for a few short weeks or for the rest of my life. I need my own space, a place that belongs to me. A home.
I don’t bother trying to explain, not that it matters anyway, because his attention has already moved elsewhere. He’s spotted the rink’s manager and is squaring his shoulders, preparing for a confrontation.
Garrick strides towards the ruggedly handsome blonde. I wouldn’t be surprised if Garrick forgets to use his words and goes straight for the poor guy’s jugular. I sometimes wonder if my coach is actually a vampire, instead of a witch, or some sort of witchy vampire hybrid.
Even from here, it’s hard to miss the way Whittaker’s shoulders droop. I can’t exactly blame him. He probably receives twenty or more complaints a day from Garrick, if my past experiences at other rinks are anything to go by.
Garrick loves to complain, even when there’s nothing to complain about. The air-con is too cold. The ice isn’t smooth enough. There are too many people. It’s too noisy. I wouldn’t mind if Garrick was right. But this rink is perfect and I really don’t want Garrick to annoy Whittaker so much that I end up barred.
“Ember fell!” The way Garrick says it, you’d think it was Whittaker’s fault. The fact that my skate broke has apparently been completely forgotten. “The rink is too busy. She needs more time alone on the ice.”
Garrick is being ridiculous. The rink has only just opened. There’s no way Whittaker can give me more ice time, and Garrick knows it.
He doesn’t wait for Whittaker to respond before continuing, “This just won’t do. She’s training for the world championship, do you understand that?”
“Nope. I didn’t know. I don’t believe you’ve mentioned that before. I guess that changes...absolutely nothing.”
I know what’s coming next. He’s going to tell Whittaker that he should be honored that I’m using his rink to train. He’s going to make it sound like some sort of benevolent act of generosity on my part. It couldn’t be further from the truth, a fact my coach is fully aware of. I need this rink. I need the spell that has been encased in the ice.
Shaking my head, I make my way towards the two men, giving Whittaker my most apologetic smile.
“Sorry Whittaker,” I say calmly, putting an arm on my coach’s forearm, allowing my touch to burn him for just a fraction of a second. It’s enough to make my displeasure clear, and Garrick glares at me. “Garrick is just being a worrywart.”
Or a complete bastard, I add in my head.
“Or a complete bastard. It’s okay, I’m used to it,” he replies, his violet eyes shining brightly with amusement. “If you need anything, Ember, come see me. You…” He points at Garrick with barely concealed dislike. “Stay away from me.”
“You see here! I’m going to talk to your boss. Ember, where’s the owner?”
I pull a face. How the hell am I supposed to know that? I don’t even know who owns the rink. Apologizing again, I pull Garrick away before he can say anything else.