Darkness Rising: PHOENIX Files Book 1
©2011 by Alexandra Kane
Heat Level: Sensual/ Steamy (Love scenes are present but are NOT graphic)
Time Period: Contemporary America- Present Day, North Carolina
Paranormal Romance, Interracial (African American heroine, Chinese American hero)
Books Like This: If you enjoy romance involving shape-shifters and other paranormal elements, such as those by Marcia Colette, you may enjoy this book.
Length: Darkness Rising is a paranormal romance novella, approximately 23,000 words long
A Witness to Wrongdoing
City council secretary Lalah Norris is propelled into the center of a scandal. Born of two African American parents with the panthera trait, Lalah’s a no-nonsense woman who, when she finds out about the money laundering ways of the city’s assistant manager Dell Christopher, will risk her job to see him pay for his crimes. Little does she know, the loss of her job will be the least of her worries.
Kidnapped Twice in One Night
When she refuses to be intimidated by Dell’s thug, she’s kidnapped and locked away. Rescue comes in the form of a mysterious Chinese man, Junjie Yu, but Lalah finds herself being taken against her will for a second time. When the night is over, she’s forced to join PHOENIX, a covert organization that assists law enforcement on the Federal, state and local level through the use of shifters, sorcerers, and all manner of ‘gifted individuals.’ But which will be more dangerous: her new role in the secret organization, or her burning attraction to Junjie?
A Beautiful Stranger
When Junjie bursts in to rescue Lalah, he’s just doing his job. But as soon as he lays eyes on her, he knows their association will be far deeper. She’s headstrong, stubborn, and determined, but oh so beautiful. Can he guide her through her first mission safely, and will she land in his arms when it’s all said and done?
Darkness Rising is Book 1 of the PHOENIX Files paranormal romance series. Below is the series chronology:
Book 1: Darkness Rising- Lalah and Junjie’s story
Book 2: Embrace the Night- Tatiana and John’s story
Book 3: Midnight’s Serenade- Le’Kisha and Marcello’s story
Lalah’s eyes snapped open. A searing pain in her shoulders drew a gasp from her dry lips. She tried to move and found that she was bound to a chair. The cool metal of a set of handcuffs dug into her skin as she tried to move her hands.
Where the hell am I?
She had no idea how long she’d been bound, but the tightness and burning in her neck and shoulders was becoming unbearable. Closing her eyes again, she inhaled the stale air with difficulty, and willed her racing heart to slow. I’ve got to get it together.
Approaching footsteps made her breath hang in her throat. She kept her eyes shut, but could still see the harshness of flashlight being held inches from her face. Steeling herself, she sniffed the air and picked up a scent. The hair on the back of her neck stood in horror and disgust.
“Dell, you jackass, what is this?” she asked, squinting against the yellow light. “Where are we?” Goosebumps were forming on the backs of her arms, but she wouldn’t give him the pleasure of having her cower in front of him.
He scoffed, then his deep voice filled the space around them. “Do you really expect me to tell you?” He clicked off the flashlight and let it drop to the floor with a thud.
The muffled sound told her she was in a place with carpeting. With the flashlight out of her face, she snapped her eyes open. Feline night vision made it easy to make out his features. There he was; the wide, squat little White man, wearing a dark suit and a white shirt. His large belly lapped over his belt the way bread baked with too much yeast spilled out of its pan. “Dell, you should really rethink this.” Lalah spoke in a confident tone, doing her best to hide her trepidation. “When I don’t show up to my mom’s house for Sunday dinner, my brother and sisters will notice I‘m missing, and they‘ll come looking for me–you‘d better pray they don‘t find us.”
His laughter echoed around them. “Oh, I’m so scared. I’m a duly appointed city official. What are your siblings going to do to me?”
Gee, I don’t know, maybe tear a couple of new holes in your hefty ass?
Her ears picked up the sound of his retreating footsteps. “You’re not going to get away with what your doing, Dell.”
“Why not?” He called back in a condescending tone. “And that’s Mr. Christopher to you. No little sassy-mouthed darkie secretary is going to bring me down.”
The door on the other side of the room opened with a creak of its hinges. She was now facing a dimly lit corridor, visible just beyond the doorway. She watched Dell slink out like the scumbag he was, then heard the door locking behind him.
Sighing, she slumped back in the chair. She wished she could shift now, but the steel cuffs around her wrists prevented it. She needed to have freedom of movement to release the panther inside; shifting while restrained this way could cause her serious injury. If only she could change now. She’d burst out of this room, find Dell, and sink her teeth into his uppity, corrupt behind.
The bigger, more pressing problem now was figuring out how to get the hell out of here. She moved her arms, tugging at the cuffs. They jangled in the silence as they struck the metal chair back, but that didn’t get her any closer to freedom. What am I going to do? Thewindowless room gave her no indication of what time of day it was, so there was no way to know how long she’d been there.
Sighing, she let her head fall back. Her throat was dry, her stomach growled. She wondered how long it had been since she’d had a meal. There was nothing to be done now. Drifting back into unconsciousness, she realized defeat was not a feeling she enjoyed.
As she was closing her eyes, the sound of wood being struck and splintered drew her attention toward the door. It had been kicked in, and was hanging by its lower hinge.
Standing in the doorway, illuminated from behind by the dim light in the corridor, was a wide framed Asian man of about six feet tall. He was wearing shades despite the shadows of the building. His spiky hair was held aloft by plenty of hair product. His black attire, including a floor length trench coat and heavy boots, made him barely visible.
Looks like a dangerous character. Lalah’s breath held in her throat as he crossed the room toward where she sat. Within moments, he stooped before her.
“Lalah Norris?” he asked in a hushed tone.
“Yes.” How does he know my name? “Who are you?”
He was already untying the rope around her ankles. “That’s not important right now. After I get you out of here, I’ll explain.”
She flexed her ankles, glad to have them free from their restraints. But she still had many questions for the mysterious man now unlocking her handcuffs. “How do I know you aren’t one of Dell’s thugs, come to toss me into the Cape Fear River?”
Tossing the cuffs aside, he laughed a low, rumbling laugh. “I assure you, Ms. Norris. I don’t work for him.” Still chuckling, he helped her stand up. “Now, we’ve got to get out of here before he, or one of his associates, comes back. Can you walk?”
That laugh is way too sexy. She nodded. “I think so.” Taking a few shaky steps, she could feel the blood starting to flow to her legs again. She studied her rescuer, inhaled his scent. It was spicy and masculine, and she got no indication that he meant her harm. She decided to trust him, for now, but she had to at least know his name. “Who are you?”
“Name’s Junjie.”He escorted her toward the door.
What a name. It should be something sexier for a guy like him. Geez, where had that come from? She’d just met the guy and already he was starting to look good to her. “Could I just call you J?”
He nodded. “Now let’s get the hell out of here.”
She followed him out of the small room and into the corridor. He pulled her by the hand as he pushed through a heavy metal door which led to a stairwell. The number three was painted onto the concrete wall just inside. As the door closed behind them, Lalah stilled. “I hear voices.”
He studied her for a moment, then looked as if he was listening. “You’re right.” Pressing his back against the wall, he gestured for her to do the same. As she stood there, back pressed tight against the solid concrete, her whole body tensed. There was no telling what was going to happen next, and she’d already had enough surprises to last her a good while.
Below them, the creaking sound of a door opening, then closing, filled the space. She closed her eyes briefly, reaching inside herself in case she needed to call on the panther within. She wasn’t going back to that room, and she’d do whatever it took to get out.
By now, footsteps sounded in the stairwell. Someone’s coming up.And she had no idea who they were, or what their intentions. She squeezed her eyelids tighter, as if that would magically solve her problems.
“Wait here,” he said quietly.
She opened her eyes in time to see him leap into the air. No human could jump that high or that fast. When she saw the bright flash of light surrounding him, she gasped. He’s a shifter?
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