As Night Reigns (A Dark Future Series Book 2)

Winner of Prism Award and Reader’s Choice Award

“Dark, gritty, and utterly entrancing, this book absolutely blew my socks off…”

Jess the “Romanceaholic”

“Dark Future is simply everything you hope a book will be when you open it up to the first page and begin reading.”

Two Lips Reviewer

A woman caught between two futures…

Awakened in the middle of the night by a future version of herself, Kris Davenport is given a mission: go travel in time to save the world–and his life. Of course, her future self doesn’t tell her who he is just sends her into the darkness and straight into an alien invasion.

…must choose between the man who has her heart…

He turns out to be ConRad Smith, the callous, untrusting military commander of Earth’s army and the world’s last defense. There’s only one way for Smith to know for sure if this strange woman is an alien spy–slice her throat. Except, he didn’t anticipate the desire he would feel as he interrogates the hot-tempered, warm-blooded woman.

…or the fate that saves the world.

As Kris and ConRad struggle to trust each other in a world on the brink of destruction, they each will have to face the ultimate choice of whether to fight or die… survive or forgive.

Chapter One

My eyes popped open and my heart thudded against my chest. I scanned the familiar shadowed shapes of my bedroom. Dresser, mirror, closet, the blinds on my patio door. Nothing, all familiar, all quiet. But why my rush of panic?

I had heard a sound. Was it the swish of a door being closed or the beeping of buttons being punched on a keypad? Had someone punched in my code for my home alarm?

My pulse tripled in time, while my cowardly body froze in fear. Dredging up courage I shifted my gaze a half-inch to the right, straining to see past the heavy cream curtains that obscured the door leading to my backyard. A soft yellow light glowed around the perimeter. My motion-detector lights had clicked on.

No need to panic. Probably just a cat … but the beeps?

Dammit, maybe I dreamt the noise. Did downing a half package of cookies increase the chances of carb-induced nightmares?

Ignoring the cold bead of sweat that coursed down my side, I turned my head and read the neon blue of my digital clock—4:30 A.M.

Swallowing, I strained to hear over the swish of my blood being pumped past my ears. But I had heard something. No way would I have awakened from a deep sleep in the middle of the night for no reason. I needed to investigate. A mature woman would.

Maturity was overblown.

I wiggled farther under my Egyptian cotton sheets and pulled them under my non-blinking eyes. Nothing to be afraid of. Just some car alarm being reset from the outside.

A soft click of a light switch echoed through the stillness, and a sliver of light peaked out from under my bedroom door. Terror clawed at my throat. I shot a glance back to my bedside table—empty. Damn, I’d left my mobile phone in the kitchen.

Someone was in my house.

I sat straight up in bed and … froze.

Get up. Get up.

Shoes sounded on the tile down the hall. I had a choice. I could lie here and be murdered on my sheets, or die standing. Decisions. Decisions. Terror clawed its way up my throat, and all I wanted to do was throw the covers over my head. Instead, I flung off the blankets and leapt out of bed. Bloodstains on cotton are a pain to get out.

Weapon … weapon, I need a weapon.

I dropped to my knees and searched for the bat I kept under my bed. My fingers brushed cool metal. I grabbed the bat, straightened, and ran toward the door. Clad only in a pink tank top and Hello Kitty panties, I prayed I didn’t end up in the coroners’ lab with a cheerful cartoon stretched across my rippled behind.

My bat rattled against the wall as I watched the doorknob turn. I braced myself, ready to swing, but I couldn’t feel my arms. The door opened quick and hard, slamming me against the wall. Before an umph even left my mouth, a hand reached around and disarmed me.

I was flipped, driven face first into the wall, my right arm bent high at an odd angle. White pain sliced through my shoulder. A thigh jammed between my legs. Fingers grabbed tight to my hair, and cranked my head back.

A taut body pressed flush up against mine, and the scents of fresh-turned earth and sweat washed over me. Hot breath warmed my ear as images of rape and death exploded in my mind.

“Kris, I need you to listen to me.” A female voice whispered calmly.

Shock zipped through my nervous system. A woman? How did she know my name? I tried to turn my head, but a painful yank to my scalp had me back to my intimate kiss with the plaster.

“We don’t have a lot of time. Everything I say is of extreme importance.” Her voice was soft, but edged with steel. She spoke with authority, like a commander leading troops into battle. Poor troops. She paused, then a heavy sigh. “Unbelievably, the future of the world rests on your … pathetic shoulders.”

Her voice was familiar, yet not. I scoured my adrenaline-filled brain for a match, but all I could think about was one slight move and my arm would snap.

“I am going to let you go now. And Kris, it’s imperative you remain calm. Do you understand?”

I nodded, since my mouth was too dry to form words. The piercing hold to my shoulder was released, my hair freed. I turned and marshaled enough confidence to swallow my own spit, but no courage could be mustered standing braless in juvenile panties.

The light from the hall didn’t fill the room, leaving the shadows bold and far reaching. Her darkened form stepped back to the opposite wall near the light switch. She reached out and flipped it on.

A face identical to my own stared back at me.

A scream ripped from my throat. I jumped back. My head slammed hard against the solid wall, and then I slid down to the floor.

My vision blurred around the edges. I refocused, then gasped, couldn’t help it. I stared at … me.

The woman glaring at me in her take-no-prisoner stance was my identical twin. Except, I didn’t have an identical twin.

If the fashion police ever got a hold of her, they would’ve revoked her visa. Her failure to use an ounce of originality was criminal. Her black tank top looked like it had been ripped and the ends tied, showing off her washboard stomach. Form-fitting, night-camouflaged pants and black combat boots completed her uniform.

Her hair was longer, but with inexcusable inches of regrowth showing dark against her blonde hair. She stood with her feet wide, hands fisted, one on each hip. Her arms were ripped with muscles, shoulders broader than I’d ever seen my own. She was tougher, stronger … edgier.

We both stared at each other. She and I were the same, yet not. She was tan; I had a phobia about sun bathing. Her hardened blue eyes were punctuated with thin lines; I carried wrinkle cream in my purse.

Her gaze traveled to my tangled mop of hair, down to the tips of my French manicured toenails. Disgust marred her already strained features.

I raised my eyebrows, and then in a streak of obstinacy I’d never outgrown, I wiggled my freshly painted toes.

Her gaze, as inviting as a newly dug grave, leveled with mine. “God, I’d forgotten how young you are. And the panties …” she shook her head, “embarrassing.”

I couldn’t agree more. I scrambled off the floor and slipped on a pair of sweats. With both of us standing face to face, there was no denying the similarities; I had a double, except the body was better.

Or had I gone crazy? Neither option left me giddy with relief.

“Who are you?” I asked. I had to be dreaming; this was a better third option.

She didn’t answer, instead ran over to the bathroom, flipped on the light, and opened my sliding closet doors. She yanked out a duffel bag from the top shelf and began riffling through my clothes.

Dreaming or mental breakdown, I was sure both roads started out pretty much the same.

She dashed over to my dresser and pulled out my sports bra and black running shorts. She threw them at my head. “Put these on. We don’t have much time. We need to leave.”

“Where … why?” Crazy I may be, but one thing I knew—I wasn’t going anywhere with this woman.

“You’d never believe me, so you’re going to have to trust me.” Her behavior bordered on manic as she dived into my closet and threw every one of my shoes across the room. I hovered near the corner, not sure if I should call the police or a hospital with padded rooms.

“Where are your freaking running shoes?” she yelled, glancing over her shoulder at me.

The crazed leer in her eyes scared me. And I realized that though I may’ve become a new member of club insane, she could’ve run for a place on the board.

“In the bathroom,” I said meekly. That’s where I left them when I stripped before showering.

“Of course,” she said, smacking her palm to her forehead. “You never put anything away.”

She disappeared into the bathroom and it took every ounce of gumption I had to slide my feet in the direction of the door. If I made a run for it, would she catch me? She had that chiseled look of a sprinter.

She was back before I took two steps.

“Why aren’t you dressed?” she asked and leveled me with the steel blue of her eyes.

I took a deep breath. Maybe there was a small part of her brain that could still respond to logic. “Look, I don’t know who you are or why you’re in my home, but you need to leave before I call the police.”

She pulled out a gun. And damn if it didn’t look like she knew how to use it. The barrel was aimed somewhere in the vicinity of my head. She jerked it up and fired a shot that blew out a nice-sized hole in the plaster.

“What the—” I ducked and threw myself behind the bed for cover.

“Next time it’ll be for real. Now. Get. Dressed.”

I peered over the mattress, first at her, then toward my new skylight. “Hell lady, this is Scottsdale, not South Phoenix. The neighbors here call the cops for gunshots.”

“You’ll be gone by then.” She shrugged. “But damn, I’ll be here. Hell. Don’t make me use it again. A body is a lot harder to explain than a bullet hole.”

She tucked her gun into the waistband of her pants and began dismantling my medicine cabinet, throwing things at random into the duffel bag.

Okay, note to self: You can’t reason with Crazy. I stripped and put on my running clothes. Things might go better if I played along. At least I’d avoid getting shot at. “Who are you?”

This time the question stopped her. She leaned over, bowed her head, and braced her hands on the bathroom counter. She shuddered, as if suppressing a sob. Then she found me with her gaze in the bathroom mirror. “I’m you, Kris. But from the future. I’ve come back to send you forward.”

In the harshness of the bathroom lighting I could see the dark circles under her eyes, and the permanent downward turn of her mouth.

For a moment her eyes glistened, but she blinked, and her cold dead stare was back. “I failed. I don’t know why, but I failed The Prophecy. You need to go back and do the cycle again. We’ve done this before, but this time you have to do better. Better than me. You have to save him.”

“Save who?” I could barely get the question out. My stomach twisted with a sick sense of déjà vu.

Her shoulders were bunched around her neck, and she shivered as if plucked from an ice storm, though her skin glistened with sweat. She had the look of a woman on the edge, and only sheer grit kept her from jumping.

“ConRad. I’ve killed him. And now you have to go back to the very beginning, back to when he first met you and get it right.”

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