(Here's a sneak peek at Secrets of the Dark, a hot Paranormal Romance.)
Running didn’t lessen the drenching downpour driving into Tia Lansing with the cold sting of dozens of tiny whips. She leaped over a swirling puddle too quickly replenished by the runoff to disappear down the storm drain at the curb. Her thin skirt, now a nearly transparent wrap, clung around her knees and cut her stride short of its mark. Tia landed with both feet in the puddle and the freezing water completely covered her strappy sandals. With a squeak of shock at the cold rush over her feet, she jumped up onto the curb.
The streak of street lights glistened off the night-blackened buildings and asphalt, transforming the city into a vision of one built entirely out of volcanic glass. The rain washed away the usual city smells and perfumed the night with its eerie wild river scent. No sound reached Tia through the muffling hiss whispered by each of the billions of droplets falling from the sky like arrows.
She hurried to the underpass where the late night trains rumbled through the city on their elevated railway. In the shelter of the underpass, she shook the rivulets from her bare arms. Her hair clung to her face and curled into wet ringlets over her shoulders. Tia wiped uselessly at her face with her wet hands while she struggled to catch her breath and shiver at the same time.
“You didn’t really dress for this weather.” The voice rumbled low like a distant echo of thunder.
Tia glanced up, startled to discover she shared the underpass with someone else. He half sat, half leaned on the guardrail further up the sidewalk on her side of the street, his ankles crossed casually. The mist of the rain reached out to him but always recoiled before touching him. He hadn’t glanced in her direction but watched the toes of his black leather shoes instead.
A glint of something shiny flashed in his hand before he slipped it down beside his thigh where she could no longer see it. His other hand remained tucked in the pocket of his black slacks. The sharp white of his shirt glowed from under his black suit jacket. Unlike Tia, the rain hadn’t yet touched him. His satin midnight hair remained perfectly parted and combed back.
Tia crossed her arms, both for warmth and to disguise the fact her drenched pastel pink blouse no longer concealed the outline of her bra. Walking carefully so her wet feet didn’t slip in her heels and cause her to stumble, she crept toward his side of the underpass. Her apartment, a tiny one over the Aquarius New Age Bookstore, waited for her several blocks further down in The District, as the locals call the historic market district that remained picturesque and nearly unchanged in the heart of downtown like a gem in a tacky plastic setting.
As Tia passed the stranger a streak of lightning flickered like a strobe, driving back the depths of the night for the span of a breath and revealed not a soul on the hauntingly empty streets. With renewed force, the clouds opened and released a full-on torrent so heavy the rain just beyond the shelter rippled like a curtain and completed closed off the outside world.
“Best to simply loiter until it passes,” he said. With a smooth roll of his wrist the shiny object she’d noticed in his hand caught the reflection of the streetlight. Whatever it was appeared thin and around five or six inches in length. Before Tia could get a good look at it he completed the movement and raised his empty hand to rest against his thigh. The object was gone as if by slight of hand, if indeed there had been an object and not simply a trick of the light.
“It could be a while, don’t you think?” Tia asked, rubbing her arms.
“It is storming with a passion.” He grinned, still not meeting her eyes. “Have you ever known something with this much passion to last?”
“I guess not.” She paced away from him and as she turned to cover the same ground again she found his gaze following her. A shiver tingled across Tia’s skin and she felt her nipples hardening in response. Her arms, still crossed over her chest, rubbed tantalizingly over the sensitive points but she managed to suppress any telltale expression. “Are you from around here?”
“What’s your name?”
He straightened suddenly, coming to his feet and towering much taller than she’d expected. His jacket and shirt, both unbuttoned, flapped open with the movement, revealing a far more toned and massive chest than his previous stance suggested. The shape of him sparked interest low in Tia’s belly and made breathing difficult. In looks, he should have been a model but he carried himself like a cat, all smooth and fluid movements designed for efficiency but graceful none the less. He purred, “Do you need to know?”
Tia froze, recognizing the domination in his baring. Determined not to show fear, she tilted up her chin. “I need to know.”
“Simon. And yours?”
Watching him closely, she replied, “Tia.”
“Nice name.” Simon strode a few paces away, glancing at the impenetrable rainfall. “And what beckoned you to adventure out on a hellish night like tonight, Tia?”
She shifted from foot to foot, not sure she wanted to share any more personal information with this strange man. Then again, she didn’t want him to get the wrong impression of why she walked the streets alone this late at night. “I own a bar downtown. I just finished closing up and I’m heading home.” Living in the city, she’d learned never to display weakness to a stranger. With challenge in her voice she demanded, “And you?”
He chuckled to himself as if finding the question amusing and he eased back toward her. “Just out looking for a bite to eat.”
“Uh-huh,” Tia said, watching him size her up wolfishly as if she were on the menu. A tremble, composed of equal parts fear and excitement, coursed through her. Tia found him far too sexy to trust her judgment. She wanted to stay, wanted to get closer, maybe even touch him but she heard the warning sirens in her head blaring. Best to listen to the warning, she decided and circled a wide path around him toward home.
She was just a step away from reentering the pelting rain when a sudden explosion of thunder overheard jolted her back. Her heels slipped on the slick pavement and before she could fall or catch herself, Simon gathered her in his arms. He’d crossed the distance between them extraordinarily fast.
“Whoa, fella. Hands off.” Tia pushed against his chest, missing the opened shirt so her palms pressed on his unyielding bare pecs. The skin glistened with a golden tan and felt as supple as fine suede.
His hands slid down Tia’s arms, leaving hot trails in their wake. Simon lowered his hands to his side but didn’t step back. Standing so close to her, the rustle of the storm winds blew his open jacket so it fluttered against her torso. The heat pulsing from his body drove away the chills and pulled her magnetically toward him. He asked, “You’d prefer I allow you fall?”
“I guess not,” she mumbled, no longer focused on the minor offense but instead staring with fascination into his eyes. A starburst of white ringed his pupils and flamed into burning yellow only to cool into a red crown circling the edge of his irises. The color seemed to modulate, as if capturing the flicker of a flame in slow motion. “You have fire in your eyes,” she said, only half aware of how stupid the comment sounded.
“Not just in my eyes,” Simon smiled.
A gust of dry heat puffed over Tia and she stumbled back a step in surprise. “What was that?” She touched her newly dried hair and smoothed her perfectly pressed clothes. “How did you do that?”
“That was nothing,” he dismissed it with a wave of his hand.
“Sure impressed the hell out of me.”
He cocked his head, sizing her up. A grin quirked up the corners of his perfect lips, which were just full enough to imply a melting tenderness to his kisses. The expression softened the perfect planes of his face. With amused surprise in his voice, he stated, “You’re not afraid, are you?”
Tia thought about the question. The adrenaline pickling in her blood rushed not to her muscles, as if to prepare to fight or flee but to her skin, heart and lower regions, making her body ache with a longing only physical contact of a romantic nature could soothe. Breathlessly, she asked, “Should I fear you?”
He considered the question. “Should you? What an interesting dilemma. What should one do in your predicament? What should one feel? I have never pondered that.”
Tia stepped back out of arms’ reach, not able to reconcile the attraction and mistrust mingling inside her. “My predicament? What predicament am I in?”
“That I cannot express in words you would understand.” Simon held out his hand, palm up. “I can only show you.”
She stared at his hand, debating if she should accept the offer she assumed it meant. She hadn’t yet moved, either to accept or retreat when the glowing began.
In a voice as terrifying as the roar of a landslide and echoing with inhuman power, Simon uttered, “Titch Cha, Aroomba Tha.”
A golden light emerged from Tia’s heart, glowing with the brilliance of flaming copper. It grew like a supernova until the light no longer came from inside but surrounded her in a glittering cocoon. She struggled to breathe. The energy, so powerful, so vibrant, expanded her sense of self until she felt she existed both inside her body and yet filled the bubble of light with her essence. “What’s happening?”
As the leading membrane of the energy encased Simon’s outstretched hand, the pressure of the power eased slightly. Tia felt herself drawn to him like a tide to the moon. The energy, not her consciousness, drew her hand into his.
Simon’s eyebrows twitched up in surprise but grasped her hand anyway. With a gentle tug, he dragged himself through the thick power surrounding her until it completely subsumed him.
Tia saw him differently now. A blue snap of flame burned without heat over Simon’s flesh as it fed on gold ripples of energy still spilling out of her.
They came together like two rivers. She flowed outward and he flowed inward, swallowing all she offered. The outflow of energy drained her strength. Her arms circled Simon’s neck, clutching to him as if she would collapse without his support. He embraced her to him, wrapping his arms fiercely about her waist so each of his strained gasps for air flattened her breasts more snugly against the solid burn of his chest. He tossed his head back, a mixture of pleasure and pain crossing his handsome face. They grasped desperately to each other, overwhelmed with the surge passing between them. Each pulse bursting from Tia echoed through her body, through her core, compounding her initial attraction into physical desire.
“Reece Ti’aggo,” he uttered shakily. “Damn girl, you’re delicious.”
“Taste me, Simon,” Tia ordered, raking her fingers through his thick black hair and tugging his mouth down to hers. He hesitated less than an inch from her lips for a fraction of a second, gazing deeply into her with his flaming eyes, before plunging forward. Her lips parted for him and his tongue slipped between them. The light around them blazed and crackled, filling the air with the scent of ozone. Drinking voraciously, he consumed Tia in his kiss. He tasted of wild storms, lightning and magic. Primitive lust flared up inside her, only to cascade out into the bubble of light, building and compounding upon itself as the flow of emotion drowned them. No rational thought reached the surface, only urgency and pulse-pounding need.
Desperately, Tia explored Simon’s body with her hands. Sliding them beneath his open shirt, she traced the shape of his defined stomach. A hiss of excitement escaped him, making her want him so much she couldn’t think.
Genre: HOT Paranormal Romance
Length: Novel (70,000 words)