Author: Jamie McLachlan
ISBN: 9781940811239more from this user
Moira is a powerful empath, a psychic graced with the ability to read emotions and memories. Her skill is as much a curse as a gift, for in the harshly stratified city of Braxton empaths are slaves. Clever and beautiful, Moira has learned to rely on no one but herself. Determined to escape life as a concubine, she kills her master, and is imprisoned for the crime.
This could be the end for Moira, but the government has need of her skills. A mysterious serial killer known as the Phoenix has been planting suggestions in his victims' minds that drive them to murder and suicide. To gain her freedom, Moira partners with Keenan Edwards, a handsome young detective, to stop the killer.
Hunting the Phoenix will bring Moira on a more dangerous road than she imagined, forcing her to confront dark minds, twisted moralities, and her growing feelings for the detective.
January 7, 1903
On a clear evening night, Charles Darwitt sat contentedly in the back seat of his motor vehicle as his driver wove at a brisk pace through the streets of Braxton. A cloud of warm air coalesced with the frigid atmosphere with each breath that escaped his lungs, and the darkening clouds above were a precursor to the flurry that would unveil later in the evening. But Charles was unperturbed, as he had spent a pleasant evening between Mia’s luscious thighs. He was House Instigator of the city’s dream house, and his lovely young wife Estella was pregnant with their first child. And, despite the progressive protrusion of his middle, he was overall a robust gentleman of thirty-three years and had all the luxuries his wealth could afford. Yes, he was quite proud to say that everything in his life was going to plan.
The motor vehicle halted in front of a fine estate on Parker Avenue and Charles gazed up at the brick exterior with pride. He had purchased the house after his marriage to Estella, and had chosen the estate specifically because it resided in the north district in ward twenty-eight—a ward that he himself owned as Dream House Instigator. His lovely wife was most likely on the second floor asleep in their bed. Estella had taken to retreating to the bedroom early every evening, ever since she had discovered that she was with child, which coincidentally was when Charles began to spend more time after work at the pleasure house with Mia. The beautiful young concubine was just as fresh-faced as Estella, but thankfully lacked the unsettling protrusion of pregnancy that Charles found sexually unappealing.
His butler, Arnold, greeted him at the door and informed him that his wife had retired for the evening. Charles barely acknowledged the statement before he entered his study. A young maid followed him into the room and smiled politely.
“Will you be requiring anything this evening, sir?”
“A drink, Sophia,” he responded cheerily as he took his seat in a luxurious leather chair behind the ornately carved mahogany desk. “Today has been a good day and requires celebration.”
“The usual, sir?” she inquired, her hand hovering over the whisky bottle.
“No, Sophia,” he said, beaming. “Today calls for the cognac.”
“Yes, sir.” She began to pour him a glass, and he watched the amber liquid with greedy eyes.
Sophia approached and rested the glass on the desk’s littered surface. “Oh, I almost forgot, sir. A letter arrived today addressed to you.” She pulled out a white envelope from the pouch in her apron and handed it to him.
Charles took a sip of the amber liquid before he eyed the envelope curiously. His name had been written in immaculate handwriting and there was no seal stamped on the other side. He opened the envelope and pulled out a thin sheet of paper that had been folded three times.
The letter read:
One by one the stars shall crumble, and into the depths of despair they will fall.
And amongst the ash, the Phoenix will rise and conquer them all.
“Is there anything else that you will require, sir?”
But Charles was oblivious to Sophia and everything else surrounding him, for as soon as he read those cryptic words, a power that was not his own washed over him. The suffocating will of an outsider crushed his mind in its deathly grip of authority, and he was overcome with a profound single thought. There was nothing to do but obey the building pressure commanding his body to act in accordance with the simple demand.
“Sir, is everything alright?”
Inaccessible, Charles blindly reached into his right-hand drawer and pulled out the revolver that had always been meant as a precaution. Without another thought, he placed the barrel into his mouth and pulled the trigger.
The gunshot echoed violently through the street, followed by Sophia’s horrified screams.