Hey, everyone! I’m very excited that the ebook edition of my novel The Phoenix Codex, the first in a series, comes out in three days! It’s up for pre-order now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble.com, iBooks, and Kobo (and it’s already available in print on Amazon.)

The Phoenix Codex is a supernatural romance, and you can read the advance reviews here on Goodreads. I’m going to be sharing the first three chapters here on the blog.

Please note that this book contains coarse language, explicit love scenes, and some violence. If that’s not for you, I totally understand! The blog will be back to the usual talk about writing and living life after this Tuesday.

Before you start reading, you should know that this is a javelina. They are kind of cute, but they have sharp teeth.

 

The Phoenix Codex Bryn Donovan best new paranormal romance series fantasy supernatural about brothers 2017

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Cassie came home late from her dinner with Ana. Her friend had assured her that she’d find another job soon, this time at a place where she felt like she belonged. For the first time in a few weeks, Cassie believed everything would be all right.

When she flipped on the light, the room remained dark. Weird. Hadn’t she just changed that bulb?

Someone grabbed her around the shoulders from behind.

She squeaked, trying to yank away. He dragged her a few steps backward and set her down on a chair. Her kitchen chair, moved to the living room. Terror streaked through her. What is happening? The next thing she knew, he was half kneeling on her, pinning her down where she sat, his shin pressed across her thighs.

Fuck! She swung a fist at him. He grabbed her wrist, held it down to the back of the chair, and tightened something around it. A zip tie. She’d never seen one in real life. Do something. Gouge his eyes out! She tried, but he caught her left hand and secured it to the chair as well. He was so fast, so efficient. Like he’d done this a hundred times.

Her loaded gun waited in the drawer of her nightstand, but a lot of good it did her now. Years of target practice with her dad and her sister, not to mention hunting with Uncle Charlie, all going to waste. Scream. I should scream. She turned her head toward the door. “Help! Help!”

“No one’s going to hear you out here.” His calm, baritone voice suggested that she was being unreasonable.

In her small ranch house in the desert, her closest neighbor was almost a mile away. That was one of the reasons she’d rented it—all that wide, open space made her feel free. I’m such an idiot. She doubted anyone had seen him on her side road with no streetlights. If they had, he wouldn’t have stood out much—nondescript in a black T-shirt and jeans. She leaned her head closer to his ear and shrieked, wordless, at the top of her lungs.

He got off her and crouched near her leg. She tried to kick him, but he was too far to one side, out of her range of motion. He bound one of her calves, and then the other, to the chair legs with plastic ties.

“Who are you?” Stupid. Like he was going to hand her a business card. A robber with any sense would’ve chosen a nicer house. She didn’t like the other possibilities.

He stepped behind her and tipped the chair back. More panic sparked through her nerves—the primitive fear of falling. He dragged the chair to the kitchen, set her next to the table, and took a step back to look her in the face.

He was white, with narrow, steel-blue eyes in a rawboned face. She would need to describe him to the police. Hopefully. Over six feet tall, broad shoulders. Light brown hair buzzed almost to the scalp on the sides and a little longer on top. Military? Around her age, maybe, thirty-two. His nose bent slightly in the middle, as if he’d broken it once.

Why didn’t he care if she saw him? Because she wasn’t getting out of this alive? Her mouth went dry.

He walked to the front door. He hasn’t really hurt me yet. But that was no reassurance. As strong and deft as he was, he hadn’t needed to. Maybe he was just getting started. He locked the front door, turning the double bolt with a click, and strode back to her. Images flashed through her head. Torture, sexual violence. Her pulse slammed in the side of her neck as though the vein might explode.

“Please don’t kill me,” tumbled out of her mouth. “Or rape me.”

Did he flinch? No, he couldn’t have. “I’m not a rapist.”

Just a killer, then? A fresh current of anger surged through her. “Is this how you get off?”

He crouched down next to a black backpack in the corner of her kitchen. “I’m going to cover your mouth so you can’t cast a spell.”

“A spell.” He thought she was a wizard, or a witch? If only. She could wave her wand and have the next rent payment, or better yet, a job. “You’re insane.”

He leaned close with a length of duct tape. Cassie jerked her face away, but he pressed the tape hard over her mouth. A strand of her long hair got caught in it, tickling the corner of her lip. He said, “Of course, for all I know, you don’t need to speak words out loud.”

She struggled hard against the zip ties. Although she wasn’t particularly strong, five-foot-five and average-sized, she hoped adrenaline would give her the strength to pull through them or break the chair. They only bit into her skin. Stupid well-made furniture.

“Looks like you’re breathing fine.” The impassivity in his shadowed, sculpted face made him look like an angel of death. “Cassandra Rios, you are accused of using deadly magic against your enemies.”

She stopped struggling. Nobody called her Cassandra, except her dad, when she’d gotten in trouble as a kid. She was in trouble now. This guy was out of his damn mind. Would the cops tell her parents they’d found her body? Would anyone find it, or would he hide it somewhere? Her heart pounded hard and fast. Maybe she’d have a cardiac arrest before he had a chance to murder her. “A jaguar killed your ex-husband six months ago.”

Shit. The animal attacks. She wanted to scream, They weren’t my fault!

 

The Phoenix Codex Bryn Donovan best new paranormal romance series fantasy supernatural about brothers 2017

 

Rick’s death had horrified her, and it had panicked everyone in Phoenix. Jaguars had only just been discovered in Arizona again. This one had ambushed her ex in his driveway in the middle of Scottsdale, leaping from the top of his SUV to tear out his throat.

“Your coworker was seriously injured by a coyote two months ago.” She cringed at his words. Coyotes usually avoided humans. They didn’t go after them in populated places, any more than jaguars hung out in cul-de-sacs slaughtering people. “And last Tuesday, not long after he left your mother’s house, your uncle was attacked by a javelina.” His eyebrows rose. “In a parking garage.”

A few hours before it had happened, Cassie had seen Uncle Charlie at her parents’ house. He’d tried to get her mom to loan him more money, although she didn’t have it to loan. Almost no one got rich running a stable, and in the last few years, business had slowed. Her dad hadn’t been home. Cassie couldn’t hear most of the conversation, but after he’d left, her mom had been crying.

The blurry security camera footage had made the evening news. A big, black, hairy desert pig had come out of nowhere, tusks bared, and slashed Uncle Charlie’s shins. The uncanny coincidence—three attacks against people she’d been mad at—had made her feel guilty, even though there was no way, logically, she could have been to blame.

“Since you’ve killed with this spell once, we can only assume you will again.” His voice carried no emotion. Who the hell was we? He pulled up another chair for himself and sat down, so close that his knee grazed her thigh. “I’m here to go into your psyche, verify your guilt, and learn what I can about the magic you’re using, because we haven’t seen it before.”

Cassie struggled against her bonds again as he reached down into the backpack. A faint smell emanated from it—incense, of all things.

He took out a gun.

Cassie stared at the Glock with its dull gleam. Her blood chilled. I am going to die. I am really going to die.

“You’ll have one minute after I release your mind to prepare yourself, and then you’ll be killed with one shot to the head.” He laid the weapon on the table, right next to a pile of junk mail and an empty drinking glass. Her stupid, messy life, finished before she’d even done anything with it. She started shaking, but she willed herself not to cry. Instead, she glared at him. He could remember the look in her eyes when he was burning in hell.

A bullet to the brain. At least it would be quick. She imagined her blood on her dirty kitchen tiles. Was that why he’d dragged the chair in here? So the mess would be easier to clean up? No, he’d probably done it because the kitchen couldn’t be seen from the street. Maybe no one would even hear the gunshot.

She jumped when he gripped her right hand where it was tied to the back of the chair. Her fist felt tiny and cold in his. He bowed his head.

Raw force pushed up against her brain, her heart, her self. Behind the duct tape, she whimpered, squeezing her eyes shut. It pressed from all sides and sucked at her at the same time. What the hell was happening? Go into your psyche, he’d said. He could do that? Gritting her teeth against the pain, she willed herself to stay intact. Something was trying to crack her skull open like an oyster shell to inhale the quivering morsel inside. She thrashed and shoved against it with all her strength.

The invisible walls separating her self from him and the rest of the universe tumbled inward. Her eyes flew open.

 

The Phoenix Codex by Bryn Donovan #best new paranormal romance series 2017 #urban fantasy series for adults #romance series about brothers #best new 2017 #strong female heroine

 

Thanks for reading! I’ll post chapter two tomorrow. And if you have any questions or comments, please share them below!

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