As promised, here is the conclusion of my short story, Prelude to Darkness. "Prelude" is actually a prequel to the events of Darkness Rising, the first in Alexandra Kane's PHOENIX Files series. I intended to post it sooner, but I've been hard at work on the second book in the series, Embrace the Night. Look out for that September 29th.
So, here it is: the exciting conclusion of Prelude to Darkness.
Prelude To Darkness: Part 2
The next morning, an intense, heavy banging on the front door shocked Lalah out of her sleep. She scrambled out of bed and into a red robe, then rushed from her room to determine the cause of the commotion.
As she joined her sisters, already leaning against the bannister on the second floor landing, they exchanged looks of confusion. Cole, his face a mask of anger and irritation, stalked by them, with their father's rifle in his hand. Shirtless and clad in a pair of gray sweatpants and slippers, he could be going downstairs for coffee. But the weapon he clutched and the expression on his face told a different story.
Arriving at the front door, he roared, “Who's out there, banging on the door like the damn sheriff?”
From the other side of the door came a shouted reply. “Watch your tone, boy! It's your uncle Bernard!”
He briefly turned back to look at them and roll his eyes, then he propped the gun against the wall and opened the door.
The wide framed Uncle Bernard stalked in a moment later, with his wife Rachel and teenage daughter Roxanne trailing behind him. Lalah waved at her favorite cousin, and she waved back timidly. Once they were inside, Cole shut the door and leaned against it, arms folded.
Faye frowned. “Uncle Bernard, why in the world are you here so early, with all that noise?”
“Shut your yap, Faye. You know why I'm here.” The old man's brows furrowed so deeply they became one.
Rachel, her petite form perched on the arm of the sofa, tried to calm her husband. “Bernard, let's be reasonable.”
“Reasonable!” Bernard was shouting now. “You think it was reasonable for my brother to pass the leadership of this pack to a woman?”
Lalah stared, trying to process what she was hearing. Could her uncle really be a big enough asshole to come here, the day after they buried her father, and yell at her mother?
Cole's eyes were blazing by now. “It's disrespectful to insult the dead, Uncle Bernard.”
Bernard got very close to his nephew, thrusting his face forward. “Oh, is that so? And what are you gonna do about it, young buck?”
A low, growling sound behind Lalah made her turn away from the scene on the lower floor.
Her mother advanced from her bedroom, taking slow, deliberate steps. Ruby Norris' did not look happy. Fangs bared, she stood at the top of the staircase, her arms folded. “I'm not gonna have you disrespecting my family in my house, Bernard.” Her voice was as sure and steady as ever.
When he heard his name, he turned toward his sister in law. “I'll ask you the same question I asked your boy, Ruby. What are you gonna do about --”
Before he could finish his statement, Ruby took a single, powerful leap, landing with a thump on her slipper covered feet, directly in front of where Bernard stood. She reached up, as he was several inches taller than her, and grabbed both his ears, pulling his head down until their faces were level to each other.
Lalah had seen her father do that before. It was a panthera power play, used by alphas to demand respect from pack members.
“Bernard, I'm only going to say this once. Coles' will left me the leadership of this pack. I intend to serve because it was my husbands' wish. Obviously I love him more than you.”
He opened his mouth, but quickly closed it when Mama growled again.
“If you can't accept me as alpha, you are welcome to leave the pack.”
She released her hold on him, and Bernard stumbled backwards. His face was a mask of shock and anger.
“I'll never accept a female alpha!” he shouted, backing toward the door. “Come on Rachel, Rox. We're leaving.”
“Where are we going, Daddy?” Roxanne looked at her father with pleading eyes.
“Wherever I say! Now let's go!”
Cole moved away from the door to let them out, and Bernard pulled his daughter along behind him, even as she wept.
In the threshold, Rachel turned back. “I'm sorry about this, Ruby.”
Mama nodded, and then Rachel left hurriedly to catch up with her family.
Flopping down on the couch, Mama rubbed a hand over her forehead. “I can't believe what a hothead your uncle is.”
“You showed him who's in charge, Mama,” Faye called, making her way downstairs.
Lalah shook her head, wondering if she'd ever see her cousin and aunt again. Uncle Bernard, she could do without, but she loved Rachel and Rox.
With no answer to the question in her mind, she wandered downstairs to fix breakfast.
Dramatic, huh? I'll be back soon with more info on Embrace the Night. In the meantime, stay cool and keep it classy.
Until Next Week,