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Doomsday Can Wait (Phoenix Chronicles Series #2)

Doomsday Can Wait (Phoenix Chronicles Series #2)

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by Lori Handeland
     
 

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Bestselling and RITA Award–winning author Lori Handeland visits a dark and perilous world—where surrendering to your longings is the most dangerous move you can make…

SHE CAN SEE EVIL COMING FROM ALL DIRECTIONS

It took the near annihilation of humanity for Liz Phoenix to understand the true meaning of her premonitions. Liz is

Overview

Bestselling and RITA Award–winning author Lori Handeland visits a dark and perilous world—where surrendering to your longings is the most dangerous move you can make…

SHE CAN SEE EVIL COMING FROM ALL DIRECTIONS

It took the near annihilation of humanity for Liz Phoenix to understand the true meaning of her premonitions. Liz is one of the sacred few on earth who has the psychic powers to fight the malevolent forces that have tried to wipe out the human race since the beginning of time. She battled these beings once, thwarting Doomsday but losing most of her soldiers in the massacre. Now she must replenish her troops quickly—because the supernatural war isn’t over yet.

BUT WILL SHE BE BLINDSIDED BY DESIRE?

As the new leader of the federation, Liz is marked for death by a Navajo witch with a link to her past. To survive, she must rely on her few remaining allies—her mentor, a shaman with too many secrets, as well as ex-lover, Jimmy Sanducci. Bringing Jimmy into the mix is a dangerous move, for Liz’s darkest desires are razor-sharp—and her longing for Jimmy is at a fever pitch. But can Liz afford to give into the cravings that burn inside her, with the next shot at Doomsday just around the corner? This time, if evil wins, chaos will reign—and the world as we know it will be lost forever…

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

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Intriguing urban fantasy. . . immense suspense.”—Publishers Weekly

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312947163
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/28/2009
Series:
Phoenix Chronicles Series, #2
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.82(h) x 0.94(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

A month ago I put a stake through the heart of the only man I’ve ever loved. Luckily, or not, depending on the day and my mood, that wasn’t enough to kill him.

I found myself the leader of a band of seers and demon killers at the dawn of the Apocalypse. Turns out a lot of that Biblical prophesy crap is true.

I consider it both strange and frightening that I was chosen to lead the final battle between the forces of good and evil. Until last month I’d been nothing more than a former cop turned bartender.

Oh, and I was psychic. Always had been.

Not that being psychic had done anything for me except lose me the only job I wanted—being a cop—and the only man too—the aforementioned extremely hard to kill Jimmy Sanducci. It had also gotten my partner killed, something I had yet to get over despite his wife’s insistence that it hadn’t been my fault.

In an attempt to pay a debt I could never truly pay, I’d taken a job as the first shift bartender in a tavern owned by my partner’s widow. I also found myself best friends with the woman. I’m not quite sure how.

After last month’s free for all of death and destruction, I’d come home to Milwaukee to try and figure out what to do next. The army of darkness was winning. Their former leader had taken me prisoner, turned Jimmy evil, then nearly wiped out my whole troop before I managed to kill the creep, and escape with Jimmy in tow.

Now three quarters of my doomsday soldiers were dead and the rest were in hiding. I had no way of finding them, no way of even knowing who in hell they were. Unless I found Jimmy. That was proving more difficult than I’d thought.

So while I hung out and waited for the psychic flash that would make all things clear, I went back to work at Murphy’s. A girl had to eat and pay the mortgage. Amazingly, being the leader of the supernatural forces of sunshine—I’m kidding, we’re actually called the federation—didn’t pay jack shit.

On the night all hell broke loose—again—I was working a double shift. The evening bartender had come down with a case of the “I’d rather be at Summerfest” blues, and I couldn’t walk out at the end of my scheduled hours and leave Megan alone to deal with the dinner rush.

Not that there was much of one. Summerfest, Milwaukee’s famous music festival on the lake, drew most of the party crowd. A few off duty cops drifted in now and then— they were the mainstay of Megan’s business—but in truth, Murphy’s was the deadest I’d ever seen it. Hell, the place was empty. Which made it easy for the woman who appeared at dusk to draw my attention.

She strolled in on dangerously high heels—tall and slim and dark. Her hair was up in a fancy twist I’d never have been able to manage, even if my own were longer than the nape of my neck. Her white suit made her bronze skin and the copper pendant, revealed by the plunging neckline of her jacket, gleam in the half-light.

Megan took one look, rolled her eyes and retreated to the kitchen. She had no patience for lawyers. Did anyone? This woman’s clothes, heels, carriage screamed bloodsucker. In my world, there was always great concern that the term was literal. I nearly laughed out loud when she ordered Cabernet.

“With that suit?” I asked.

Her lips curved; her perfectly plucked eyebrows lifted past the rims of her self-regulating sunglasses, which had yet to lighten even though she’d stepped indoors. I could see only the shadow of her eyes beyond the lenses. Brown, perhaps black. Definitely not blue like mine.

The cheekbones and nose hinted at Indian blood somewhere in her past, as did the dusky shade of her skin. Mine was the same hue. I’d been told I was mixed race, but I had no idea what that mix was. Who I’d been before I’d become Elizabeth Phoenix was as much a mystery to me as the identity of my parents.

“You think I’d spill a single drop?” she murmured in a smoky voice.

How could something sound like smoke? I’d never understood that term. But as soon as she spoke, it suddenly became clear to me. She sounded like a gray, hot mist that could kill you.

“You from around here?” I asked.

Murphy’s, located in the middle of a residential area, wasn’t exactly a tourist attraction. The place was as old as the city and had been a tavern all of its life. Back in the day, fathers would finish their shifts at the factories, then stop by for a brew before heading home. They’d come in after dinner and watch the game, or retreat here if they’d fought with the wife or had enough of the screaming kids.

Such establishments could be found all over Milwaukee, hell, all over Wisconsin. Bar, house, bar, house, house, house, another bar. In Friedenberg, where I lived, about twenty miles north of the city, there were five bars in the single mile square village. Walking more than a block for a beer? It just wasn’t done.

“I’m from everywhere,” the stranger said, then sipped the wine.

A bit clung to her lip. Gravity pulled it downward, the remaining moisture pooling into a droplet the shade of blood. Her tongue snaked out and captured the bead before it fell on the pristine white lapel of her suit. I had a bizarre flash of Snow White.

“Or maybe it’s nowhere.” She tilted her head. “You decide.”

I was starting to get uneasy. She might be beautiful, but she was weird. Not that we didn’t get weirdoes in the bar every day. But there was usually a cop or ten around.

Sure, I’d once been a cop, but I wasn’t any more. And pretty much everyone, even Megan, frowned on bartenders pulling a gun on the clientele. Of course, if she wasn’t human—

My fingers stroked the solid silver knife I hid beneath my ugly green uniform vest as I waited for some kind of sign.

The woman reached again for her wine. Contrary to her earlier assertion, she knocked it over. The ruby red liquid sloshed across the bar, pooling at the edge before dripping onto the floor.

I should have been diving for a towel, instead I found myself fascinated by the shimmering puddle, which reflected the dim lights and the face of the woman.

The shiny dark surface leached the color from everything, not that there’d been all that much color to her in the first place. Black hair, white suit, light brown skin.

Slowly I lifted my gaze to hers. The glasses had cleared. I could see her eyes. I’d seen them before.

In the face of a woman of smoke who’d been conjured from a bonfire in the New Mexico desert. No wonder she hid them behind dark lenses. Those eyes would scare the pants off of anyone who stared directly into them. I was surprised I hadn’t been turned to stone. They held aeons of hate, centuries of evil, millenniums of joy in the act of murder with a dash of madness on the side.

I drew my knife, threw it—I ought to be able to hit her in such close quarters—but she snatched the weapon out of the air with freakishly fast fingers.

“Shit,” I said.

Smirking, she returned the knife—straight at my head. I ducked, and the thing stuck in the wall behind me with a thunk and a boing worthy of any cartoon soundtrack.

I straightened, meaning to grab the weapon and leap across the bar. I had supernatural speed and strength of my own. But the instant my head cleared wood, she grabbed me by the neck and hauled me over, breaking bottles, knocking glasses everywhere.

“Liz?” Megan called.

I opened my mouth to shout, “Run!” and choked instead as the woman squeezed.

She lifted her gaze to where Megan must surely be. I wanted to say, “Don’t look at her,” but speech was as beyond me as breathing.

I heard a whoosh and then a thud. Like a body sliding down a wall to collapse on the floor. Had the woman of smoke killed Megan with a single glance? I wouldn’t put it past her.

I pulled at her hands, tugged on her fingers, managed to loosen her hold enough by breaking a few to gulp several quick breaths.

What in hell had happened? The woman of smoke was obviously a minion of evil out to kill me. Being the leader of the light, in a battle with the demon hoard, seems to have put a great big, invisible target on my back.

However, the other times I’d always had a warning—what I called a ghost whisper. The voice of the woman who’d raised me, Ruthie Kane—whose death had set this whole mess in motion—would tell me what kind of creature I was facing. Even if I didn’t know how to kill it—and considering that I’d been dropped into this job with no training, that was usually the case—I still preferred advance notice of impending bloody death rather than having bloody death sprung upon me.

I tried to think. It was amazingly hard without oxygen, but I managed.

The woman of smoke had grabbed my silver knife and her fingers hadn’t sprung out in a rash. Not a shape-shifter, or at least not a common one such as a werewolf. When you mix silver and werewolves, you usually wind up with ashes.

Her strength hinted at vampire, though most of those would just tear out my throat and have a nice, relaxing bath in my blood. Still—

I let go of her arm and tore open my uniform so that Ruthie’s silver crucifix spilled free. Vampires tended to flip when they saw the icon, not because of the shape, or the silver, but the blessing upon it. She didn’t even blink.

I pressed it to her wrist anyway. Nothing. So, not a vampire.

Suddenly she stilled. The pressure on my throat eased; the black spots cleared from in front of my eyes. She stared at my chest and not with the fascinated expression I often got after opening my shirt. If I did say so myself, my breasts weren’t bad. However, I’d never had a woman this interested in them. I didn’t like it any more than I liked her.

“Where did you get that?” Her eyes sparked; I could have sworn I saw flames leap in the center of all that black.

“Th-the crucifix is—”

“A crucifix can’t stop me,” she sneered and yanked it from my neck, tossing the treasured memento aside.

“Hey!” I tore her amulet off the same way.

The very air seemed to still, yet my hair stirred in an impossible wind.

Dreadful One,” Ruthie whispered at last, Naye’i.

A Naye’i was a Navajo spirit. I’d heard of them before. Several puzzle pieces suddenly fit together with a nearly audible click.

The woman of smoke backed away, staring at the stone I had recently strung on its own chain rather than continuing to let it share Ruthie’s.

“You don’t like my turquoise.” I sat up.

Her gaze lifted from the necklace to my face. All I could see between the narrowed lids was a blaze of orange flame. “That isn’t yours.”

“I know someone who’d say differently.” My hand inched toward the blue green gem. “The someone who gave it to me. I think you call him . . . your son.”

As soon as my fingers closed around it, the turquoise went white hot, and the Naye’i snarled like the demon she was, then turned to smoke and disappeared.

Excerpted from Doomsday Can Wait by Lori Handeland.

Copyright © 2009 by Lori Handeland.

Published in 2009 by St. Martin’s Press

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.

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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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Doomsday Can Wait (Phoenix Chronicles Series #2) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
iluvvideo More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to this book. I'd read the first in the series and really enjoyed it, even though I was in the minority, it seemed. I liked the characters, the story and yes, even the graphic sex (which I found unusual for this type of novel). So given all the above, why didn't I like this book? For several reasons. #1-The Sex. It seemed that all the sexual doings were missing from this one. Sure there was some, but it didn't come until the last third of the book and it was nowhere near as hot (and important to the plot) as in the first novel. It seemed as if the author read the criticism of the first book and toned it way down. #2-The characters. Rather than any appreciable character development, it seemed that the plan was to add several new characters, that just seemed to have what was needed for each tense situation. #3- The plot. Since the characters remain almost the same as in the first book, I found it very hard to work up any concern over their well being. I was just looking to see where the author would drop the next unbelievably convenient twist to the story. And #4- New characters. These were poorly developed. It seemed that they served their initial purpose and were never heard from again, or kept around doing a whole lot of nothing. So maybe it was my expectations. I REALLY wanted to like this book. The first one introduced me to an author and her style (one I'm usually not drawn to). I was swept along early and found it hard to put the book down. This one seemed to need more of an effort to get a few pages done each night. The first left me wanting to know what would happen to everyone. By the end of this book, I was just glad to be done. I may try the next one in the series, but I won't have very high expectations. Maybe that'll help.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First I will start by saying that I read the short story in Hex Appeal, liked summer a lot and wanted to find out what happened to her and Jimmy. They are side characters in this series. The book is well written but I hate the main character. Liz comes across as selfish stupid and short sighted or naive at best. She is supposed to be a 20 something ex-cop not some teenager. I understand she has to make tough decisions with bad options and she's been screwed over a lot in her life but despite claiming she is doing things for the "greater good" she is really just doing what she wants with little to no regard for others feelings. When is made apparent that she is no longer on a "mission of mercy" it should have at least made her pause and think about the messed up thing she was planning to do, instead she just barges a head like a bull in a china shop. I feel like she is almost a sociopath. She doesn't seem to empathize well, understand or care about other people's feelings. She's pretty much just a terrible person.
shancole More than 1 year ago
One betrayal after another. I found myself skimming the last half of the book just to find out the things I cared about. My curiosity will eventually get the best of me though and I'm sure I'll finish the series.
spitzlady More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Phoenix is a seer, she has psychic powers that allow her to fight the forces of dark. While at her day job, as a bartender, a strange woman walks in and tries to kill Liz. This woman Liz realizes is called the Smoke Woman. She's dangerous and needs to be stopped. With her army scattered to the wind or dead, Liz calls on Summer, the fairy, to help. Summer knows where Liz's ex boyfriend is so they hit the road. With bits of information she gets from her dead foster mother, Liz goes on a nationwide hunt for the power to destroy the forces of evil. When I first open this book, I thought to myself, am I going to be disappointed in the sequel to Any Given Doomsday, but I wasn't. It was fast paced and just as gory. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone with a weak stomach to read, because there are scenes of suicide and creatures being ripped apart.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Phoenix used use her psychic skills with the Milwaukee police, but soon learns what her horrific visions mean when monsters murder her foster mother Ruthie and left her unconscious; now she can see the monsters (see ANY GIVEN DOOMSDAY). Because of her skills, she has become a federation leader fighting the dark. She actually wins her first battle though many of her soldiers die in the confrontation as she learns the difficult responsibility of a general as she deploys people she knows she is sending to die even though success delays Doomsday for now.-------- Liz has numerous enemies now including the Navaho witch woman of smoke Naye'I, mother of her skinwalking ally Sawyer. She is unsure she can trust her former lover Jimmy Sanducci; as she and he recently learned he is a dhampire who feels he is losing his restrain to not turn to his sire's enticing malice. To defeat Naye'i, Liz knows she needs two allies, Sawyer and Jimmy, but one is the son of her adversary and the other has walked the dark side next to his purebred malevolent father. ---------- The second Phoenix Chronicles urban fantasy has the world even darker and grittier in spite of insuring DOOMSDAY CAN WAIT for a future engagement. Liz is terrific as the story line focuses on her inner doubts re sending people to certain death and trusting Sawyer and Jimmy while trying to understand the enormous visions that shake her core as all she sees is bleakness. The apocalypse is here as Lori Handeland provides a powerful gloomy world with little hope for humanity's survival as the sinister minions of wickedness march forward seeking a second battle. The constant war of attrition is on the side of evil.---------- Harriet Klausner
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great 2nd book. Love Sawyer.
ElieReads More than 1 year ago
Its a great read especially if your into paranormal romance. The book is a good balace of romance and action. I like the different paranormal creatures appear.
crystasolo More than 1 year ago
One of the best books of 2009 in my opinion. I couldn't put it down. Anxiously waiting for the next in the series.