Elemental

For the co-author competition...
Marnie can't imagine a life without Sean - it's a shame he doesn't exist. She's not the only one. There's a whole world of people who hang onto the every word of breakthrough author, Anna Thripp, who is yet to release the final part of the Elemental trilogy, despite being on hold for the best part of two years.
And Marnie is about to find out why when Sean appears before her eyes begging to be reunited with his secret love, Alice Aigby, possibly the only character from the series Marnie can't stand.
With the world she only imagined to live in finally in existence, she's unsure of whether it's what she really wants. With villains she's loathed and never imagined facing right before her, the man of her dreams, the woman he loves, and a friend she never expected, will she be able to pull through?
And even if she does, which world will she be pulled into?

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1. Marnie

"Don't scream."

 That was an incentive to do just that, but Sean remained still, a cobra waiting for the perfect moment to initiate a surprise attack. The cold blade of the knife and the rough cotton met his fingers as he reached into his pocket but refused to shift to his palm: it was impossible to cut through the ropes restraining him.

 That was no hindrance.

 Utilising Bovvaird's distraction, he started the quiet chanting that preceded - as his professor would say - the boom.

 
"Ignis. Virtutem flagrare te memorem mille soles."

Sunlight poured into the room. Bovvaird was but an accomplice of the man who wished all Wielders dead - no match for the fury about to befall him. Invoking the sun's aid one final time, Sean pushed his hands ahead of him, the ropes snapping off the hooks.

Fire danced alive in his palms. All he felt was a gentle heat all over him, inside of him. It was simmering, waiting for the final order.

He unleashed it, and Fire burst into the room, surrounding the threat but never harming. It could never harm unless Sean wished it. And Sean would never be Dark, not like his predecessors before him. Alice would never allow it.



I exhale, my lungs screaming in relief, Elemental still sitting in my hands. Sean Reechbean will never be conquered - I doubt my favourite author would be so evil, but I'm helpless when it comes to him fighting an enemy. Even though I've read this several times waiting for the final part of the trilogy, I still look at the final page to make sure he's there.

Even if he is with Alice.

 
I wish he was real.


 He exceeds everyone I've met in every aspect of his personality. At seventeen, I may not have dated, but no one can ever match up to Sean.

 Almost as soon as I think it, I take it back. The ignominy I would feel if he deemed me inadequate in any respect is enough to hinder me.

 "Excuse me?"

I glance up from the book, eyes widening. The sound of my beating heart echoes as I slam my chair back as far as it'll go; my legs shake with undisguised bewilderment and horror when I finally stand.

The man before me reaches out a hand to indicate his harmlessness.

"I'm sorry if I frightened you. I didn't mean for that to happen. I'm not sure where I am and I really need to find someone. I'm looking for Alice Aigby - do you know her?" He stares when I fail to give any response aside from gawping. "I'm sorry. Did I not introduce myself? I'm Sean Reechbean. Lux, not Tenebris."

He pulls the collar of his jacket aside to reveal the tattoo on his collarbone. I already know what it is and its symbolisation. A blue cross with flames coming off it to represent fire and water, blades of green jutting out the sides.

 It's official. Kelsey always told me I was obsessed, and she's right. I've lost my mind, and I've conjured him up because... Well, I'm crazy.

There's nothing I can do about that now. I may as well enjoy the little time I have left before they wrap me into a straitjacket. Even if Sean loves Alice.

"I'm Marnie. Pleasure to meet you." My voice is at odds with the dragonflies within. 

"Marnie." He seems relieved I've regained the use of speech. "Can you help me find Alice? I don't recognise any of the buildings around here."

 "Just let me put this...away," I trail off, shoving the book behind my back.

The cover of which holds a picture of his face.

Because it's a book about him.

Why are you worried? You're making this up!

 I tell my brain to shut up. Sean's coming closer, arm outstretched. His hand brushes past mine before the book's out of my possession.

 I can feel the calluses on his fingertips.


 "This is a book."

 "Clearly."

 "With my face on it."

 "Yes."

 "Can you explain why?" The muscle in his jaw clenches like it does whenever his temper rises.

 I back up. He moves forward. Another huge step back. A giant step forward. There's nowhere left to go - a bookshelf presses into my back.


Wait, this is in my head. Which means-

 I throw myself forward, bracing myself for impact even though I know I'll fall straight through the figment of my starved imagination.


The breath flies out of me with a whoosh as I collide with his chest, my head throbbing when his chin smashes into it. Sean's hands come up to hold the curve of my elbow and pry me apart from him.

"I'll tell you, I don't like it when people attack me, especially not those who seem to be stalking me - and writing a book on what they find."

 "You... you're here. You. Are. Here. But that's impossible!" I run my hands through my hair, tugging at the wavy strands.

 "I guess you didn't think you'd ever meet the person you'd been following." His eyes follow my every movement, and I understand how those who oppose him feel. They're orbs of golden liquid, burning with fury.

My fingers curl into a fist.

"Stop saying that!" How dare he accuse me when he's the one who just showed up!

"I have no idea why you're posing as Sean, but please stop; this is driving me mental!"

Is this a prank? Will this be broadcast live on YouTube?


 "I'm Sean! You're the one who lied!" He points at Anna Thripp's name at the bottom of the cover. "I didn't know someone could stoop so low."

 Anna Thripp. She lives only an hour from here, but Mum has never let me go to a signing because she's 'unstable'. She created Sean: she'll know what to do. He's convinced he's real - and I am too. This time, I grip his elbow, chin tilted up so he won't think of disagreeing.
 

"Come on. We're going to see someone with answers.”

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