Phoenix Rising Book 1
by Alexandra Christian Genre: SciFi Romance
OUT OF THE STACKS
Librarian Phoebe Addison has lived her entire life within a seventy-five mile radius of her small Louisiana town, but when she receives a strange medallion from her adventurous, off-world sister, reality tilts toward the bizarre. Everything Phoe thought she knew is…well, wrong. Dead wrong. But bone-numbing fear has no place in this brave new world—nor by the side of the dangerous, exquisite man who saves her life.
…AND INTO THE FIRE
Following the tragic slaughter of his family, operative Macijah “Cage” St. John understands evil in a way no man ever should. He traded happiness for a magnificent and terrible power, and fate isn’t done with him yet. He wasn’t looking for comfort. He didn’t need tenderness. But today he’ll play hero to a damsel in distress, and his quest will deliver him to the uncanny Martian colony of New London—and his heart to the demure Phoebe Addison. The bookish beauty’s hidden talents and deep abiding love just might save Cage from himself.
“Hey…” she sighed, taking the curve of his jaw in the palm of her hand and raising his eyes to meet hers. “I’m okay. You saved my life. For like… the millionth time.” He didn’t move, so she didn’t pull away, finally able to observe him. His jaw was set, tense as he stared at her with those dusky, changeable eyes. But Phoe could feel a tremble there. A fear lurking underneath that she would never have expected a man like Cage to possess. “I’m fine.”
“And what in hell were you doing?” he said, snapping his head up to glare at her. “I told you to run away and you did exactly the opposite of what I said! You could have been killed! Or worse, bitten! You just… you don’t understand, Phoe. I’m supposed to protect you, and I didn’t protect you. I can’t lose another…” His words trailed off. She could tell he wanted to say more but wouldn’t. She held his gaze, but he looked away, as if he were hiding some weakness he couldn’t stand for her to see. There was some trauma lurking there.
“What are you talking about?” she said. “Help me understand.”
“I can’t,” he said, pulling back and shaking his head as if to clear it. “I won’t.”
He rolled back on his heels and rose quickly, his shoulder brushing against the bedside table and nearly toppling the glass of tea, an uncharacteristically clumsy movement. “Just leave it alone, Phoe. My demons are my own.” The weakness was gone, and now that hard-edged, barely contained anger returned. She knew if she pressed him that he would lash out. She was starting to understand, to be able to read his moods that had seemed so random and mysterious when they’d first met. There was a scab, healed over but still burning. “Rest up,” he said, turning to walk away. “We’ll leave at sunset. Addie has a car.”
Swallowing her nausea, she threw back the blanket and stumbled out of the bed toward him. “Wait… Cage…”
He stopped but didn’t turn.
“Look, I don’t know what’s happened to you in your past. But we all have demons. Some of us, more than most people. I get it.” She lay a hand on his shoulder, feeling the tremble of muscles pulled tight. The sensation of gentle touch had evidently become a foreign concept, and his first reaction was to flee. His head turned, staring down at where the cool, pearlescent flesh of her fingertips rested against him. Such a profile, his eyes gazing downward and just the faint glisten of a single tear resting just under his eyelashes. Phoe’s heart broke for him. “You can trust me.”
“I do trust you, Phoe.” She slid her arm along his shoulder, and he turned, enveloping her body in a gentle embrace. He brushed a hand over her brow, smoothing back the stray locks that fell around her face. Being so close to him, she felt small and skittish. If he loosened his grasp even just a little, she feared she would retreat. He took her hand, bringing it to his lips and then pressing her palm against his cheek. Instantly his body relaxed, as if her touch were some sort of calming drug. Phoebe could actually feel the tension melting from his embrace. His eyes were full of fire and his breathing labored. Phoe couldn’t believe that it was her doing this to him. That all of this was for her. “I don’t trust me,” he went on. She was mesmerized by the curves of his lips as he spoke and without even realizing, she’d moved closer. Only a breath between them, and then their lips touched. He kissed her, lightly at first then more insistent. Phoe was stiff, the sensation so unfamiliar as his sumptuous mouth caressed her lower lip, worrying it gently, teaching her what to do. She melted into his embrace, and he teased the crease of her mouth with the tip of his tongue, coaxing it open before taking possession. Cage stole her breath and then offered his own. His arms tightened around her waist as he pulled her in against him, letting his hands rest on her hips as their kiss went on and on. When he let her go, Phoe stumbled, holding her dizzy head. A fluttery feeling rose in the pit of her belly, and all she wanted to do was kiss him again.
Phoenix Rising Book 2
Macijah "Cage" St. John' didn't want the spy life anymore. He would have been thrilled to spend every morning lying in the field behind Phoe's home in smalltown Louisiana watching the clouds roll by. But his Miss Addison wanted to spread her wings, literally. So Cage accepted a mission that teamed him up with his lady love. If only he had trusted her.
TO THE FUTURE
Everything about being a spy was a million times more exciting, and scarier, than the books she'd read in her former life as a librarian. When her first mission with Cage turned into a colossal clusterf*ck because he withheld information and kept secrets, Phoebe's world narrowed into a long tunnel of betrayal. Captured by space pirates and delivered to a horrible fate, she wished the last words between them had been of love, because she was certain she would never see Cage St. John again.
In NeoGeisha, Alexandra Christian returns to the intriguing, post-apocalyptic world she created in Naked. Cage and Phoe continue to build their relationship, but not without complications. Romantic conflict and fast-paced action keep the pages turning, right down to the satisfying ending. ~ Nancy Northcott, Author of the Light Mage Wars series
NeoGeisha hit all my personal high points: wild adventure, sheet-scorching sex, killer machines, thousands-to-two odds and a vampire shape-shitfting James Bond in space. ~Vivien Jackson, Author of Wanted and Wired series
Phoebe stood there letting the steaming water pour down over her body, wishing it would wash away the doubt. She didn’t hear the swish of the door opening so when Cage stepped into the shower behind her she screamed, coming at him with the tiny penknife she kept on hand at all times.
“Whoa,” he chuckled, grabbing her wrist. “Calm down. It’s me.” She held firm to the hilt of the knife for a few seconds before letting him slip it from her grasp. “You’re all right.”
He nodded. “You’re always safe with me, love.”
“Is that a promise?” She met his gaze, searching for sincerity in it.
“Always.” He leaned in and pressed his lips to her forehead. “You really must stop taking weapons into the shower. That’s a nasty accident waiting to happen.”
All the pent-up emotion and stress from the last several weeks bubbled to the surface and she crumpled against him, her tears mixing with the falling water in a mixture of relief and fear, exhilaration and uncertainty. “There now, baby. You’re all right.” He wrapped his arms around her, brushing the matted tendrils away from her ear and kissing her lightly at the small hollow beneath. It made her feel small and protected. She craved the strength she felt in the hard muscles cording through his arms and chest.
“Is it like this every time?” she sniffled.
He chuckled. “You get used to it.”
“I didn’t think you were supposed to be afraid.”
“Where on earth would you get that idea?” he said. “Fear keeps us on our toes.”
“It didn’t do so well for me,” she replied, rubbing at her burning eyes. “I fucked up everything.”
“No you didn’t. It isn’t anyone’s fault. It just happened.”
“If you hadn’t been there…” she sniffled. “I’d… I…”
He took her chin between his fingertips and forced her head up. “You would have figured a way out. You’re smart and managed to keep your cool. As soon as the antidote took hold, you were able to shift. That confusion you created saved both our skins. So no more of this doubt, all right? You need to not worry so much,” he purred, nudging her back under the spray. The steam was a comfort, wrapping her in a blanket of humid warmth and she began to relax. “You’re so tense.” He turned her around brushing his fingertips along her spine.
“You know I’m a worrier,” she muttered.
“It’s a useless endeavor, I’m afraid.” His fingers came to rest at the swell of her ass and began tracing circles at the base of her spine. The callouses at the tips tickled at her skin and she shivered. He pulled her against him, so close that she could feel his lips fluttering against the cuff of her ear. “You have to let that go. Let me help you forget all about the wolves in the dark.”
She leaned back, luxuriating in the sensation of his hands slip-sliding over her body. Her skin was slick with the water and the remnants of expensive bath oil. “I think you’re trying to seduce me, Mr. St. John.”
“Of course I am,” he replied, pushing her hair away from her neck so that he could feather gentle kisses under her hairline. “Do you mind?”
“I’ll tell you when I mind,” she mumbled with a groan as he pinched her fleshy earlobe between his teeth. She reached back, tangling her fingers in the soft curls at the base of his skull. They were short, but long enough to wrap around a fingertip and tug lightly. She could feel his body so close behind her, hard against her softness. The contrast was so erotic that she was breathless even before his hands slid over her breasts.
“It isn’t fair,” she sighed as the blunt edge of his thumbnail slid over her nipple. “To let me get all clean only to make me dirty again.”
“I’ll gladly scrub anything you have, Miss Addison.”
Phoenix Rising Book 3
ALL INCLUSIVE VICTORIANA & STEAMPUNK
Interplanetary master spies, Macijah "Cage" St. John and Phoebe Addison are forced to take vacation time, and she wants to go to Absinthia, an off-world all inclusive interactive vacay planet set up as Victorian London, but with all the future comforts. Cage doesn't do down time, but their boss has other ideas, so begrudgingly, Cage agrees to go to Absinthia. Within a day of their arrival, they get embroiled in a Ripper copy cat series of murders complete with séances, "altered" humans, kidnapping, and affairs of the heart - their hearts, which will always belong to each other.
“Cage. Help. I’m stuck.”
Cage could see her arms waving around over the top of the dressing room door. “You have to let me in, love.”
She fumbled around, banging into the door a few times with a series of crashes until finally Cage heard the lock click so that he could come inside. He glanced over his shoulder to be sure no one was watching and then barreled on through the door.
“What are you doing?”
“This…corset…is a little…too…small,” she heaved, flailing wildly as she tried to break free of the unforgiving fabric.
Cage couldn’t help laughing as his fingers fumbled with the complicated system of strings, gussets, and hooks that she had somehow managed to get herself tangled up in.
“Stop being hilarious,” he snorted, tugging at the satin bodice.
“It isn’t funny,” she whined.
“Just…turn around…” he ordered with a grunt. He helped her turn around, pulling at the front of the undergarment. “How did you get into this thing, anyway?”
“It’s supposed to go over your head. Then you tighten it with the hook and eyes.”
Cage pulled at the hooks, squeezing her nipples roughly in the process.
“Sorry.” Finally, they heard an ominous ripping sound and Phoe’s bosom spilled out of the front of the corset.
“Oh no,” she cried, pushing the corset down over her hips until it fell at her feet. She stepped out of it and surveyed the damage. From the front, the garment looked fine, albeit a little wrinkly from all the pulling and tugging. But the back was ripped almost completely in two. “Well good job, St. John. Now we have to buy a damaged corset that doesn’t even fit.”
“It’s not my fault that you have a dangerous bosom.”
“So it’s my fault?”
Cage looked down at her breasts, now fully exposed, and offered a mischievous smile. “Yeah, kinda. You were too much for that prim little thing.” He pulled her into his arms, pressing her body tightly against him. “You’ve got wild breasts, love.”
Phoe giggled and stretched up for a kiss. Hungrily, he captured her mouth and was immediately aroused. The feel of her warm, soft body rubbing so insistently against his was enough to ignite the fire of his passion. Her breasts with their hard little nubs seemed to swell against the muscle of his chest. The contrast was something he’d come to appreciate over the course of their relationship. While his wife Corinne had been shy about her sexuality, Phoe had grown bolder with the passage of time. Cage found it so exciting that when they were together, all he wanted to do was throw her against the nearest wall and have his way with her.
“You’re such an animal,” Phoe moaned. “Remember we said no shifting in public this trip.”
“I can’t help it,” he whispered against her ear. “You bring out the creature inside.” He slid a hand down her back, cupping her bottom for a moment and then pulling her leg over his hip. Both were still clothed, but he could feel how warm and wet she was.
“Well, put it back,” she giggled. “We’re in public.”
“There’s a door there,” he noted. “You’ll have to be quiet.” Emphasizing his point, he bit down into the soft spot at the base of her throat.
“Cage,” she gasped. “Stop it now.”
“You’re the one who asked me in here…”
“Excuse me. The dressing rooms are for one occupant only.”
“Oops,” Phoe whispered. “We’ve been caught.”
“I could probably kill her really quietly.”
“Do you need any help in there?”
“No, thank you,” Phoe called. “We’re all fine here. Thanks.” She turned back to Cage, her lips pursed so tightly that they were almost invisible. “Now shoo. Get out of here before we get thrown out.”
“Well what am I supposed to do about this?” Grabbing Phoe’s hand, he pressed it to his crotch where his desire was evident.
She blushed, giggling nervously. “Go…jump in a fountain or something.” He leaned in for another kiss and she pushed his face back.
Out of Ashes
Phoenix Rising Book 4
THE LOVE YOU TAKE IS EQUAL TO THE LOVE YOU MAKE
Phoebe Addison and Macijah "Cage" St. John have so much going on they can barely take a breath. Interplanetary master spies who generally drive their boss crazy, they are now trying to track down the person - is a skin walker a person? - who tried to kill him at their engagement party. Yeah, they were talked into returning to Louisiana so the whole town could show up and gawk at Cage. But they have bigger problems than usual when tracking an assassin. Secrets that have been buried for too many years are about to be uncovered if Cage and Phoe can survive the people, vampires and "things" that are trying to kill them. And to top if off, Phoe has a secret she's sure will send Cage into a tailspin. But, as with everything they have lived through to be together, their love is the constant that is its own reward.
Cage opened the refrigerator and gazed inside. In the car, he’d realized how incredibly hungry he was. While in St. Francisville, finding blood was not an easy task, so he had to conserve his supply as much as possible. “A-ha,” he said, pulling the narrow, stainless steel bottle from the back of the shelf. He opened it up and the lid made a hissing sound as the seal let go. Immediately, his mouth began to water, and his jaw felt tight. He turned up the bottle and drank deeply. The coppery flavor was a relief. He could already feel the warmth flooding his system. The exhaustion drained away almost instantly, and his eyelids fluttered with the overwhelming rush.
“Ava is such a gift,” Phoe said.
Cage opened his eyes. “She is, but how so this time?”
Phoe gestured to the neatly packed containers stacked on the counters. “She packed up all the leftovers for us.” She opened one of the containers and gasped. “Oooh…her famous tiny cupcakes.” Phoe took one of the cupcakes and peeled the lacy wrapper off. “These are delicious. She used to make them for us when I was in her class.” She hopped up on the counter and sank her teeth into the cake. “Mmm…you have to taste this.”
Cage came over to where Phoe was perched on the countertop. Her legs were open, and he slid between them, placing his hands on either side of her thighs. “Are you going to give me a taste?” he asked, his voice a low purr.
Phoe offered a mischievous grin. Her tongue sneaked out to sweep away a tiny crumb stuck to the plump swell of her lip. “Do you want to taste my cupcake?”
“I can assure you, Miss Addison, nothing would please me more than to taste your cupcake.” He leaned in for a kiss, but as he opened his mouth, she pressed the cupcake against his tongue. The fluffy white frosting was so sweet. He licked at it, almost sucking the cake into his mouth whole.
“It’s good, isn’t it?” Phoe whispered. She took another cupcake and offered it to him.
“Mmm,” he replied. “We must remember to thank Ava for being so generous.” He gathered the frosting onto his index finger and dabbed a bit of it on Phoe’s lips. He leaned in and lapped at the sweet smear.
“More,” she cooed, opening her mouth.
Alexandra Christian is an author of mostly romance with a speculative slant. Her love of Stephen King and sweet tea has flavored her fiction with a Southern Gothic sensibility that reeks of Spanish moss and deep fried eccentricity. As one-half of the writing team at Little Red Hen Romance, she’s committed to bringing exciting stories and sapiosexual love monkeys to intelligent readers everywhere. Lexx also likes to keep her fingers in lots of different pies having written everything from sci-fi and horror to Sherlock Holmes adventures. Her alter-ego, A.C. Thompson, is also the editor of the highly successful Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series of anthologies from Mocha Memoirs Press. A.C. will also pen several Shadow Council Archives novellas starring everyone’s favorite sidekick, Dr. John Watson, coming soon from Falstaff Books.
A self-proclaimed “Southern Belle from Hell,” Lexx is a native South Carolinian who lives with an epileptic wiener dog and her husband, author Tally Johnson. Her long-term aspirations are to one day be a best-selling authoress and part-time pinup girl. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Broad Universe—an organization that supports female authors of speculative fiction.
Breaking the Rules: Using Idiomatic Language in Fiction
By Alexandra Christian
One of the first rules of writing that I remember really sticking out in my mind is about avoiding common clichés. Saying things like “it’s raining cats and dogs” or “better late than never.” According to every writing professor I’ve ever had, using a cliché is roughly akin to dragging a rusty nail over the brain of your readers. Avoid it like the plague (see what I did there?). But, like most of the rules of writing, once you learn them, you can break them. I’ve found that sometimes an idiomatic expression can be very effective in creating a believable, relatable character.
Consider this. You’re writing a story that features an old man from the rural southern United States. He’s having a conversation with an author who has come to the town to investigate a gruesome murder that took place fifty years previous. Their conversation could go one of two ways: Lizzie approached the gristled old man who sat fanning himself in the wet summer heat. “Mr. Thompson, I’d like to ask you some questions about the DeGraffenreid murders?” He didn’t look up and for a moment she was afraid he hadn’t heard her. “Do you have time to talk to me?” Thompson gave an annoyed harrumph and spit tobacco juice at my feet. “I thought it was about that time.”
“Oh, news reporters come around every few years asking questions about old crimes that don’t matter anymore. What did you want to ask me?”
Now, that’s a proper exchange. All the grammar is correct and it plays out just fine. But you can add so much characterization to that one passage just by adding some local color that we’ll be able to hear in the old man’s voice. It can reveal a lot without having to say something explicitly and wasting a lot of words. Of course, I’m not suggesting that the exchange be one stupid southern cliché after another. That would be an assault on the ear that no amount of plotting could make up for. But a well-chosen phrase can go a long way. Lizzie approached the gristled old man who sat on the porch, fanning himself in the wet summer heat. “Mr. Thompson, I’d like to ask you some questions about the DeGraffenreid murders?” He didn’t look up and for a moment she was afraid he hadn’t heard her. “Do you have a minute?” Thompson gave an annoyed harrumph and spit tobacco juice at my feet. “I’m afraid you might be barkin’ up the wrong tree, Ma’am.”
“Oh, them high-falutin’ newspaper folk come ‘round here ever so often askin’ about ancient history that don’t amount to a hill o’ beans. So go on. What you got a bee in yer bonnet about?”
Just a little bit of flair can add so much to your scene. It helps the reader connect with the characters and paints a vivid picture without clogging up your page with a lot of endless description. Used sparingly, idiomatic language can be very helpful in creating a unique voice and breathing life into your characters.
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