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Chaos Bites (Phoenix Chronicles Series #4)
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Chaos Bites (Phoenix Chronicles Series #4)

4.1 21
by Lori Handeland
 

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Behold New York Times bestselling author Lori Handeland’s dark and seductive world—where averting the Apocalypse is just part of everyday life…

HER DREAM LIFE

It’s not the end of the world—yet. But Doomsday once again lies in wait for demon-slayer Elizabeth Phoenix. Several weeks ago she had no choice but to

Overview

Behold New York Times bestselling author Lori Handeland’s dark and seductive world—where averting the Apocalypse is just part of everyday life…

HER DREAM LIFE

It’s not the end of the world—yet. But Doomsday once again lies in wait for demon-slayer Elizabeth Phoenix. Several weeks ago she had no choice but to kill a man she loved. Sawyer was a witch and shape-shifter, a sorcerer of incredible strength. And now he’s started to invade her dreams…in the most dangerous and sensuous ways imaginable.

HAS BECOME A LIVING NIGHTMARE

Through her nighttime visits with Sawyer, Liz has acquired a new set of paranormal powers. She has also received a special new gift in the form of Sawyer’s baby. Now nothing is as it seems as Liz combs through the chaos of her new life while trying to outrun death at every turn. She’s going to need all the help she can get—even if that means dealing with her embittered ex-lover Jimmy Sanducci. He may be the only one left she can trust…since every other demon on earth is hell-bent on her destruction.

“Sexy, dangerous, and hot as hell.”—L.A. Banks

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
DOOMSDAY CAN WAIT

“A striking series…with a decidedly sexy edge. Readers again view the world through the eyes of ex-cop turned humanity’s savior Liz Phoenix [in] this complex mythology.” —Romantic Times BOOKreviews (4 stars)

“We really enjoyed it…and are looking forward to [more] in this series.”—Robots & Vamps

“Cool…exciting.”—Lurv à la Mode

“Fascinating, vivid, and gritty.”—Fallen Angel Reviews

“Handeland does an amazing job of packing so much punch into the pages of this story without ever leaving the reader behind. Doomsday Can Wait ups the paranormal and emotional content of the series, adding strength to the heroine and a more human touch to one of her closest allies. This is an action packed series that urban fantasy readers should thoroughly enjoy, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the author takes us next.” —Darque Reviews

“Handeland pens another tale that captured my heart…with captivating characters [and] an absorbing plot that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.”—Romance Junkies

ANY GIVEN DOOMSDAY

“Handeland launches the intriguing Phoenix Chronicles urban fantasy series with a strong story… the demons’ evil plans and vividly described handiwork create immense suspense for the final battle.”—Publishers Weekly

“Fascinating. A fast-paced thriller that will have readers looking for book two.” —Kelley Armstrong

“A fresh, fascinating, gripping tale that hits urban fantasy dead-on. Don’t miss this one.”—L.L. Foster

“Sexy dangerous, and a hot as hell page-turner! Lori Handeland world-builds with authority.”—L. A. Banks

“Handeland is back with a striking new series, narrated by a heroine thrown headfirst into a fairly apocalyptic scenario…With sex and power intertwined, Handeland looks to have another winner of a series on her hands!”—Romantic Times BOOKreviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312366032
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/27/2010
Series:
Phoenix Chronicles Series , #4
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
337
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chaos Bites


By Handeland, Lori

St. Martin's Paperbacks

Copyright © 2010 Handeland, Lori
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780312366032

Chapter 1

Being the leader of the supernatural forces of good isn’t as cool as it sounds. For one thing, I had to put the world first. So everything else was second, third, four hundred and fifty-ninth. And we’re talking important things like love, friendship, family. Which is how I ended up killing the man I loved.

Again.

Oh, I didn’t kill him twice. I killed two separate men. One didn’t stay dead, the other . . . I’m not so sure.

Yes, I’m in love with two different guys. It was news to me, too. Add to that the beginning of the end of the world and you’ve got chaos. As anyone who’s ever experienced it can tell you—chaos bites.

Since the night my foster mother died in my arms, leaving me in charge of the Apocalypse, chaos had been, for me, standard operating procedure.

Several weeks after I’d killed him, Sawyer invaded my dreams. He was a Navajo skinwalker—both witch and shape-shifter, a sorcerer of incredible power. Unfortunately his power hadn’t kept him from dying. Considering that he’d wanted to, I doubted anything could have. I still felt guilty. Tearing out a guy’s heart with your bare hand can do that.

The dream was a sex dream. With Sawyer they usually were. He was a catalyst telepath—he brought out the supernatural abilities of others through sex. Something about opening yourself to yourself, the universe, the magical possibilities within—yada-yada, blah, blah, blah.

I’d never understood what Sawyer did or how. Not that it didn’t work. One night with him and I’d had more power than I knew what to do with.

In my dream I lay on my bed, in my apartment in Friedenberg, a northern suburb of Milwaukee. Sawyer lay behind me. His hand cupped my hip; he spooned himself around my body. Since we were nearly the same height his breath brushed my neck, his hair—long and black and sleek—cascaded over my skin. I covered his hand with mine and began to turn.

Our legs tangled; his tightened, along with those fingers at my hip. “Don’t,� he ordered, his voice forever deep and commanding.

He nipped lightly at the curve of my neck, and I gasped—both surprise and arousal. I knew this was a dream, but apparently my body did not.

With hard muscles rippling beneath smooth, hot skin, he felt so real. Living for centuries had given Sawyer plenty of time to work on every muscle group for several decades, honing each inch to a state designed to make women drool. He’d be perfect if not for the tattoos that wound all over him.

To shift, most skinwalkers used a robe adorned with the likeness of their spirit animal. For Sawyer, his skin was his robe, and upon it he’d inscribed the likenesses of many beasts of prey. Sometimes, in the firelight, those tattoos seemed to dance.

“Why are you here?� I asked.

“Why do you think?� He arched, pressing his erection against me. I couldn’t help it—I arched, too. Sure, it had only been a few weeks, but I missed him. I was going to miss him for the rest of my life.

Without Sawyer the forces of good—aka the federation—were in deep shit. Certainly I was powerful, and would no doubt get even more so, but I’d been thrown into this without any training. I was like a magical bull in a very full china shop, thrashing around breaking things, breaking people. So far I’d been able to keep those who followed me from getting completely wiped out, but only because I’d had help.

From Sawyer.

“It’s a long trip from hell for a booty call,� I murmured.

His tongue tickled my neck in the same place he’d so recently nipped. “I’m not in hell.�

“Where are you?�

He slid his hand from my hip to my breast. “Where does it feel like I am?� He rubbed a thumb over my nipple, and the sensation made me tingle all over.

“I know you’re not here,� I said. “You’ll never be here again.�

Sawyer didn’t speak, just kept sliding his thumb over and back, over and back, then he sighed and stopped. I bit my lip to keep myself from begging him to start again.

His lithe, clever fingers brushed across the chain that hung from my neck, then captured the turquoise strung onto it. “You’re wearing this now?�

Sawyer had given me the necklace years ago. I’d taken it off only recently. When he’d died, I’d put the turquoise back on. It was all I had left of him.

I hoped.

“I—� I paused, uncertain what to say. I didn’t want him to know how badly I missed him. How I rubbed the smooth stone at least a dozen times a day and remembered.

“I’m glad,� he said softly. “It brought me to you.�

At first I’d believed the necklace was just jewelry. It had turned out to be magic, marking me as Sawyer’s, saving my life on occasion, and allowing him to know where I was whenever he wanted to.

He let the turquoise fall back between my breasts. “What was the last thing I said to you?�

I stiffened so fast I conked the back of my head against his nose. The resultant thunk and his hiss sounded pretty real to me, as did the dull throbbing in my skull that followed.

“Phoenix,� Sawyer snapped. “What was the—�

“Protect that gift of faith,� I repeated.

He ran his palm over my shoulder. “Yes.�

“What does that mean?�

“You’ll see.�

I closed my eyes, drew in a deep breath. Right before he’d said those words, Sawyer had said a few others. Words that had kept me up nights almost as much as his death had.

I chose to leave a child behind.

I blocked out the horrible images of what had come after those statements with what had come not long before. He’d crept into the room where I was chained to a bed, a prisoner of my own mother, a woman I’d thought long dead. She’d been a winner. Five minutes in her company and I no longer regretted being an orphan.

The situation had been dire, yet he’d seduced me. I hadn’t wondered why until he was gone. My hand moved to my still-flat stomach. Had he left a child behind in me?

“Sawyer,� I began. I had so many questions. I didn’t get to ask any of them.

“You need to wake up now.�

“Wait, I—�

“Phoenix,� he said, then more softly, “Elizabeth.�

Most people called me Liz, but Sawyer never had.

“There’s someone here.�

In the next instant I scrambled toward consciousness, and as I did the sound of his voice, the weight of his hand, and the warmth of his body faded.

“Someone or something?� I asked.

“Both,� he answered, and then he was gone.

My eyes snapped open, my hand already reaching for the silver knife beneath my pillow.

The world wasn’t what it seemed. Beneath the facades of so many people lurked half demons bent on our destruction. They’re known as the Nephilim, the offspring of the fallen angels, or Grigori, and the humans.

They’ve been here since the beginning, glimpsed more often in times past when wolf men and women of smoke were commonplace and gave rise to the legends we now see on the screen at the multiplex. Unless you’re me, and then they show up in your apartment.

My fingers wrapped around the hilt of the knife even as I stilled, waiting for the slight buzz that signaled evil creepy thing to wash over me. But it didn’t.

I sat on the edge of the mattress, eyes narrowing, ears straining, then I took a deep breath, and my skin prickled. The bed smelled of Sawyer—snow on the mountain, leaves on the wind, fire and smoke and heat.

“Dream my ass,� I muttered.

Downstairs, outside, came a soft thud then the scrape of something hard against the pavement. A shoe? A toe? A claw?

As I crossed the room, I could have sworn fur brushed my thigh. I glanced down but saw only the flutter of the loose cotton shorts I’d worn to bed along with a worn and faded Milwaukee Brewers T-shirt.

An odd cry drew me to the window, where I kept to the side and out of sight. New moon and the sky was dark, the stars dim this close to the city. The single streetlight in Friedenberg revealed nothing but empty sidewalks and dark storefronts. Which meant nothing. Nephilim rarely used the front door. They didn’t have to.

Uneasy, I glanced up—only shadows on the rooftops. Of course those shadows might become anything.

“Psst. Kid.�

I kicked the cot shoved against the wall in the corner. My apartment was an efficiency located above a knickknack shop. I owned the building, rented out the first floor, and was considering renting out the second. I rarely came to town these days. The only reason I was here now was that I’d promised my best friend I’d attend her daughter’s ninth birthday party. I owed Megan so much, the least I could do was show up when she begged me to.

“Luther!� I nudged the makeshift bed again. I didn’t want to touch him if I didn’t have to.

I’d been psychometric since birth, I assumed, since I couldn’t remember a time that I wasn’t able to touch people and see where they’d been, what they’d done. In the case of the Nephilim, I could see what they truly were. Or at least I could until recently. Now I had Luther for that.

“Wha—? Huh?� Luther rubbed at his face. His kinky golden-brown hair stuck out from his smooth brown skin even more than usual.

“Getting any bad-guy vibes?� I gave the boy credit; he woke right up.

“No,� he said slowly, head tilted, hazel eyes narrowed.

“You sleep pretty deep.� From what I heard, most kids did, though Luther would say he was no longer a kid but a man.

He swore he was eighteen, but I had my doubts. Tall and gangly, Luther had huge feet and hands. Many Nephilim had believed Luther’s awkward appearance meant he was slow and clumsy. However, Luther moved as quickly and gracefully as the lion he could become.

Luther was a breed—the offspring of a Nephilim and a human. Being part demon gave him supernatural powers. Being less demon than human meant he could choose to fight on the side of good. A lot of breeds did.

“I’d hear Ruthie if she had somethin’ to say. Wouldn’t matter if I was sleeping or not.�

Ruthie Kane, my foster mother, had been the former leader of the light. Now I was. In the beginning, she’d spoken to me on the wind, in dreams, or in visions, to let me know what flavor of evil lay behind a Nephilim’s human face. Now she spoke through Luther. I had demon issues.

“There’s something out there,� I said.

Luther’s silver knife appeared in his hand as quickly as mine had. Silver kills most shifters, and if it doesn’t, the metal at least slows them down.

“Ruthie talking to you again?� Luther was already making his way toward the door that led to the back stairs.

“No.� I paused to retrieve both my gun and Luther’s from the nightstand—if a silver knife works well, a silver bullet works even better—then I hurried to catch up.

We tossed our knives on the kitchen table. The kid reached for the door, but I shouldered in front of him. Luther was a rookie.

Sure, I’d been on the job less than four months, but I was the leader, which meant I got to go through the door first.

In the past a seer—someone with the psychic ability to recognize a Nephilim in human form—worked with several DKs, or demon killers. However, that arrangement had gone to hell when the Nephilim infiltrated the federation and wiped out three-quarters of the group. Now the remaining members pretty much did whatever they could. Seers became DKs, DKs became seers, and everyone killed anything that got in their way.

“If Ruthie still isn’t talking, then how do you know something’s out there?� Luther asked reasonably.

I wasn’t going to tell him that I’d had a dream visit from the dead. Not that such news would be a shock. Luther got visits from the dead every damn day. I just didn’t want to share right now. Right now I wanted to know what was out there, and then I wanted to kill it.

I crept down the stairs, silent on bare feet. Luther was even quieter. He’d been born part lion. He couldn’t help it.

A door led into the parking lot behind the building. I opened it but didn’t step out. Instead I listened; Luther sniffed the air, then our eyes met and together we nodded. Empty as far as we could tell.

“Don’t shoot anyone I’ll have to dispose of later,� I cautioned, a variation on Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes or, in federation-speak, Don’t kill a human by mistake.

Nephilim disintegrated into ashes when executed correctly, eliminating impossible-to-answer questions and the annoying necessity of bloody body removal. People were another story.

Luther’s only answer to my caution was a typical teenage sneer combined with an irritated eye roll. I didn’t have to touch him to know his thoughts.

As if.

We stepped outside. No one shot us, not that a bullet would do much damage. Supernatural creatures, even those like Luther and me—more human than not—healed pretty much anything but the one thing common only to them. Which meant the killer had to know what that single thing was.

I indicated with a tilt of my chin that Luther should go around the building to the left, while I moved to the right. We’d meet back here then check out the dark gully at the far end of the lot where the Milwaukee River gurgled merrily.

Excerpted from Chaos Bites by .
Copyright © 2010 by Lori Handeland.
Published in May 2010 by A Tom Doherty Associates Book.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.



Continues...

Excerpted from Chaos Bites by Handeland, Lori Copyright © 2010 by Handeland, Lori. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Lori Handeland is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of the Nightcreature Novels, The Phoenix Chronicles and Shakespeare Undead. She is the recipient of many industry awards, including two RITA awards, a Romantic Times Award for Best Harlequin Superromance, and the Prism Award from Romance Writers of America. She lives in Wisconsin with her family and a yellow lab named Ellwood.

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Chaos Bites (Phoenix Chronicles Series #4) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very exciting read! I love her ability to just wing it! My one issue is that the lead character looks non-white (tan skinned but blue eyed) and upon finding out that she is of Eygptian decent keeps disclaiming being African American. Eygpt is part of Africa so while she isnt "Black" she is "African" & is now living in America. Thought she is multi-racial on many levels the total disclaimer about not being "Black" is inaccurate and can become irritating. The author touches upon the occasional small mindedness that can still be found in this world (even in the midst of apocolyptic events) so Im sure that there isnt a negativity behind it or intended.
CaraStories More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book in a fantastic series! I really do hope she comes out with a fifth book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome!!! It will have u up all night reading, because you keep telling yourself, I'll stop after this chapter and go to bed... lol so u end up staying up way later than u
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love these books, can't wait for the next one!
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AAR More than 1 year ago
CHAOS BITES BY LORI HANDELAND is a interesting Urban Fantasy. It is set in the future. Is the fourth in the Phoenix Chronicles series. It can be read as a stand alone. The writer captures your interest from the beginning to the end. It has an absorbing plot with interesting characters. You have Liz, (a demon slayer, Phoneix, and the new leader of "The Light"). She is strong willed, beautiful, and trying to save the world from Armageddon. This book has demon slayers, vampires, demons, a dead Navajo skinwalker (who Liz happened to love), fairies, an ex-lover who is another demon slayer, voodoo, powerful magic, danger at every turn,sex and power intertwined. Although, I would have liked a better ending to let the reader know some of what has happened to Sawyer the dead skinwalker, brought back to life by Liz, Jimmy, the ex-lover of Liz, who has disappeared, and the baby, Faith,(Sawyer's child), who someone or something is trying to kill and has now been kidnapped.If you enjoy fantasy, magic, danger, twists and turns you will enjoy this one. This book was received for review and details can be found at St.Martin's Paperbacks and My Book Addiction and More.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the fourth in the series called the Phoenix Chronicles. The main character is a strong willed demon-slayer named Liz. In the last book she had to kill a man she loved named Sawyer who was a shape-shifting sorcerer. In this book Liz is having very vivid dreams of Sawyer. Sawyers baby is also laided upon her to care for. Demons are after her and the baby, in turn she looks to her ex-lover Sanducci to help her. You can't help but fall in love with all the characters in the book.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Her dead lover Navaho Skinwalker Sawyer, whom she killed, (see Apocalypse Happens) visits Liz Phoenix every time she dozes off. His nocturnal appearances gives her hope she may be able to raise him from the dead though she has no idea how to bring him back to her and his shapeshifting baby that she is raising and protecting from malevolent forces. Liz turns to her acrimonious former lover Jimmy Sanducci to help her find a magical tome protected by spells and beasts who no one in their right mind would want to encounter or tangle with. Her job of keeping the baby safe makes their mission all the more difficult. Their trek is dangerous as there are many things out there that prefer the end of the world. The latest Phoenix Chronicles (see Doomsday Can Wait and Any Given Doomsday) is an exhilarating urban fantasy as the prime triangle continues their escapades with Sawyer reaching out to his beloved from the grave. Fast-paced throughout, the aptly titled Chaos Bites is a great run through a gauntlet of death as apocalypse now continues to happen overwhelming the heroine who also has a baby to contend with (shades of Willow).The Haviland mythos is creative and a great place for readers to visit. Harriet Klausner