Rising darkness, p.1
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       Rising Darkness, p.1

         Part #1 of Game of Shadows series by Thea Harrison
 
Rising Darkness


  PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF THE ELDER RACES

  Lord’s Fall

  “In no time at all Harrison has vaulted to the top of the paranormal romance genre by showcasing her stunning storytelling ability.”

  —RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

  “Harrison is really developing intriguing things within her world—political, romantic and otherwise . . . She has such a unique world and way of storytelling.”

  —Smexy Books

  “In a genre that is ridiculously overpopulated, this series is a standout for me.”

  —Fiction Vixen Book Reviews

  Oracle’s Moon

  “Grace’s human limitations are pushed to the edge as she learns to wield her new powers. Series fans and new readers alike will cheer her on.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “Harrison’s flair for developing rich and well-rounded characters anchors the thrilling action and intense emotions found within her books. Harrison provides proof positive she is fast becoming a major star of paranormal romance!”

  —RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

  “A delightful romantic urban fantasy . . . The key to this excellent entry and the fabulous predecessors is [that] the Harrison mythos of humans living alongside seven otherworldly species comes across as real.”

  —Alternative Worlds

  Serpent’s Kiss

  “It’s a huge boon to readers that Harrison’s first three Elder Races novels are being released in quick succession, ensuring the action and world-building never slows down . . . With a perfect blend of romance, action and drama, Harrison continues to prove she is fast becoming a name synonymous with excellence!”

  —RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

  “A story charged with deep emotion and anchored by characters I do not want to forget. . . . I am hooked on the amazing world of the Elder Races.”

  —Romance Novel News

  “Thea Harrison’s Elder Races novels are my current addiction . . . Serpent’s Kiss is a bright spot in an already wonderful series. . . . I am continually impressed with the attention Harrison lavishes on her characters’ relationships, going beyond destiny or chemistry to write pairings that complement and strengthen one another.”

  —All Things Urban Fanta

  “The author deftly weaves a fantastical romance that spans generations . . . A delightful read with intriguing potential for many more highly anticipated tales.”

  —Night Owl Reviews

  Storm’s Heart

  “Vividly sensual love scenes and fast-moving action sequences are the main reasons I love this paranormal series. Each and every character brings Storm’s Heart to life. . . . Ms. Harrison takes us once again into an intriguing tale of love and suspense.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “[Harrison’s] world-building has simply grown, become richer, more dynamic, more unique and altogether fantastic.”

  —Romance Books Forum

  “Thea Harrison is a masterful new voice in paranormal romance. Her world-building skills are phenomenal. And Storm’s Heart is proof . . . It is a very sexy tale with a hint of action and adventure and highly memorable characters.”

  —Romance Novel News

  Dragon Bound

  “Black Dagger Brotherhood readers will love [this]! Dragon Bound has it all: a smart heroine, a sexy alpha hero and a dark, compelling world. I’m hooked!”

  —J. R. Ward, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  “I absolutely loved Dragon Bound! Once I started reading, I was mesmerized to the very last page. Thea Harrison is a master storyteller, and she transported me to a fascinating world I want to visit again and again. It’s a fabulous, exciting read that paranormal romance readers will love.”

  —Christine Feehan, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  “I loved this book so much, I didn’t want it to end. Smoldering sensuality, fascinating characters and an intriguing world—Dragon Bound kept me glued to the pages. Thea Harrison has a new fan in me!”

  —Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author

  “Thea Harrison has created a truly original urban fantasy romance . . . When the shapeshifting dragon locks horns with his very special heroine, sparks fly that any reader will enjoy. Buy yourself an extra-large cappuccino, sit back and enjoy the decadent fun!”

  —Angela Knight, New York Times bestselling author

  “Thea Harrison is definitely an author to watch. Sexy and action-packed, Dragon Bound features a strong, likable heroine, a white-hot luscious hero and an original and intriguing world that swallowed me whole. This novel held me transfixed from beginning to end! I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for the next book in this series.”

  —Anya Bast, New York Times bestselling author

  “Full of tense action, toe-curling love scenes and intriguing characters that will stay with you long after the story is over. All that is wrapped inside a colorful, compelling world with magic so real, the reader can feel it. Thea Harrison is a fantastic new talent who will soon be taking the world of paranormal romance by storm.”

  —Shannon K. Butcher, national bestselling author

  “Fun, feral and fiercely exciting—I can’t get enough! Thea Harrison supplies deliciously addictive paranormal romance, and I’m already jonesing for the next hit.”

  —Ann Aguirre, national bestselling author

  “This is an outstanding blend of romantic suspense and urban fantasy with great storytelling and world-building, extremely sensuous scenes that move the story arc along and characters readers will be reluctant to leave.”

  —Booklist (starred review)

  “Utilizing vivid characterization, edge-of-your-seat danger and an intriguing alternate reality, Harrison crafts a novel that grabs you from the first sentence and makes you bitterly regret that the book must end.”

  —RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

  “This is unquestionably (to me) one of the best books of 2011. It is superbly crafted with an amazing story, intriguing and unforgettable characters, and flaming-hot sexual chemistry.”

  —Romance Novel News

  “The writing is just superb. . . . This world is really fantastic—exciting, very sexy and humorous. Fans of paranormal romance must read this book.”

  —Smexy Books

  Berkley Sensation Titles by Thea Harrison

  Novels of the Elder Races

  DRAGON BOUND

  STORM’S HEART

  SERPENT’S KISS

  ORACLE’S MOON

  LORD’S FALL

  Game of Shadows

  RISING DARKNESS

  Rising Darkness

  THEA HARRISON

  THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  USA / Canada / UK / Ireland / Australia / New Zealand / India / South Africa / China

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  For more information about the Penguin Group visit penguin.com.

  RISING DARKNESS

  A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author

  Copyright © 2013 by Teddy Harrison.

  Excerpt by Thea Harrison copyright © 2013 by Teddy Harrison.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in
violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group.

  BERKLEY SENSATION® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  ISBN: 978-0-425-24845-4

  PUBLISHING HISTORY

  Berkley Sensation mass-market paperback edition / April 2013

  eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-61972-8

  Cover art by Judy York.

  Cover design by George Long.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

  Contents

  Praise

  Also By Thea Harrison

  Title Page

  Copyright

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Chapter Twenty-two

  Chapter Twenty-three

  Chapter Twenty-four

  Chapter Twenty-five

  Chapter Twenty-six

  Chapter Twenty-seven

  Epilogue

  Special Excerpt from Elder Races

  Chapter One

  TERROR WAS THE color of crimson. It had a copper taste like arterial blood.

  The criminal has escaped and left our world.

  She stood beside her mate in a circle of seven. Their combined energies shone like a supernova. Dread darkened the group’s colors. Their leader’s grief and outrage was a smear of gray and black.

  The change in her mate was that of a warrior rousing from sleep. She felt her own energy resonate to his, ringing like strained crystal.

  We must find a way to stop him, or he will do untold damage.

  All seven committed to the task and said good-bye to their home. They would never be able to return. With power and arcane fire, their leader prepared a potion from which they must drink in order to transform and travel to a strange world.

  Her mate confronted his final moments with strength and courage. As his beautiful eyes closed, he promised, I will see you soon.

  They had fit together with such perfection. They had been born at the same moment and had journeyed through life together, contrast and confluence, two interlocking pieces that sustained and balanced each other.

  But no matter how connected they were in life, they each had to cross that midnight bridge on their own. Her energy bled ribbons of bright red as she faced the final moments of the only life she had known.

  She tried to reply to him, but the poison had already disconnected her from her physical body. She sent him one last shining pulse of love and faith as darkness descended.

  She had died such a long time ago.

  Thousands of years ago.

  Wait. What?

  No.

  Mary flung out a hand and cracked her knuckles against something hard. Pain shot up her arm.

  She surged upright and wobbled where she sat. Shards of color surrounded her, like fractured pieces from the ruins of a stained-glass window. After several uncomprehending moments, she realized where she was. She was sprawled on her bed in a chaotic nest made up of her comforter, pillows, a pile of her clothes and scraps of material.

  Her heart erupted into a conga drum medley then slowed to a more normal tempo. Her head, not so much. It pulsed with a steady throb of pain.

  The bedside clock read 6:30 A.M. For Christ’s sake. She’d only gotten home five hours ago. Her ER shift had been twenty-six hours long. It had involved a five-car accident and two gunshot victims, one of whom, a seventeen-year-old single mother, had died.

  She thought of her dream and the criminal that the creatures had pursued. Sweat broke out as dread, mingled with a sense of unspeakable loss, ricocheted through her body with the intensity of a menopausal hot flash.

  Some people played golf in their downtime, or went hiking or took aerobic classes. She dreamed of rainbow-pulsing creatures that drank poison Kool-Aid in some kind of bizarre suicide pact. Was that better or worse than dreaming of the gunshot victims?

  She sucked air into constricted lungs. Maybe she shouldn’t try to answer that question right now.

  Something stuck to her face. Her fingers quested across her skin. She pulled a scrap of cloth from her cheek and stared at it. The cloth had a blue and green paisley design.

  A blurred memory surfaced, like the smear of color atop an oil-slicked roadside puddle.

  She had found the cloth a couple of days ago in a clearance bin at the fabric store, and she was planning to incorporate it into the pattern of her next quilt. Still wound up from her overlong work shift when she had gotten home, she had released some of her nervous energy by doing household chores. She had fallen asleep in the middle of folding laundry.

  Adrenaline had destroyed any chance of her getting back to sleep. Dragging herself off the rumpled bed, she yanked at her wrinkled T-shirt and shorts. She attempted to finger-comb her hair, which crackled with electricity. The tangled curls coaxed fingers into blind alleys and dead ends. Her shoulder-length tawny strands hinted at a mixed-race ancestry and were so thick and wavy she had to keep them layered by necessity.

  At present her hair seemed to have more energy than she did. She gave up trying to untangle the mess. It sprawled across her shoulders unconquered, a wild lion’s mane.

  She scooped up her house keys and sunglasses on the hall table, slipped on tennis shoes and grabbed a hooded sweatshirt. In less than a minute, she was outside in the early warm spring morning. Bright sunshine stabbed at her before she slipped on her sunglasses.

  She lived in an ivory tower near a place she had privately nicknamed Witch Road. The ivory tower was a squat, crooked building in a wooded working-class neighborhood, located by the St. Joseph River in southeast Michigan. It was a shabby, unfashionable river dwelling, built almost a century ago, with a two-bedroom living area on the second floor over the garage that protected it from the river’s periodic flooding. She had rented it since her divorce five years ago.

  The ivory had become dingy over the years, the aluminum siding loose at one corner of the building. The outside concrete stairs leading up to her front door were narrow and crooked. The stairs were dangerous in an ice storm. Once while she was at work a heavy rain had turned to sleet, and she had been forced to crawl up the icy steps in order to get inside.

  Still, the interior was warm with old pine paneling and scarred but beautiful hardwood floors, and it had a brick and flagstone fireplace. The first time she had stepped inside, something seemed to flow over her, embracing her in an invisible hug. She fancied it was the spirit of the place, welcoming her. Despite its condition and the many ways in which it was inconvenient, she had known she woul
d live there. Sometimes she wondered if she would die there.

  For all its shabbiness the ivory tower embodied an ordinary yet powerful magic. In the view from the second-story picture window, there was no sign of the street below or the neighboring houses that dotted the dead-end road. The scene gave the generous illusion she was in a cabin in the woods, far away from anyone else. She could stare out the window for hours at the evergreens, oaks and sycamores, watching flurries of white snow swirling in a snowstorm, or the moving shadows in the trees as daylight changed and faded.

  Witch Road was a nearby street in the same neighborhood, part of a loop she had mapped for a daily two-mile run. The route cut close by the nearby river and had gradually pulled her under its spell as she jogged it repeatedly through the change of seasons.

  Small houses were overpowered by tall, thick deciduous trees whose bones were uncovered with the death of every year, from the ones with straight willowy lines to those that had a more arthritic beauty, their gnarled joints and twisted limbs that shot in unexpected directions, ending in thousands of spidery-thin fingers grasping at air.

  The underbrush was secretive and tangled. Thick vines and fallen limbs discouraged trespass from outsiders. The trees met overhead to rustle and whisper in the ebb and flow of restless, windy days, enclosing the narrow asphalt road with a leafy green canopy in the summertime.

  She was too tired for her normal run. She walked the route instead.

  The leafy canopy was fast returning with the warmer weather. On the other side of the green-edged lattice of tree limbs, fluffy cumulous clouds traveled across the sky at such speed, they seemed to be running from some unseen menace. The trees shifted and rustled. Leaves and twigs, the detritus from the death of the forest last autumn and winter, danced in circles that followed her down the street.

  The swirling circles whispered to each other in small voices.

  She’s not the one, stupid.

  Yes, she is! She smells like blood. He’ll feed us well for this.

  Mary paused and turned to look behind her. What a thing to fantasize.

 
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