Sneak Peek for Lightning: The Book of Luke and Gina!!
Drumroll, please! Here’s a sneak peek for the next novel in the Day Zero series!!! It’s the complete first chapter of Lightning: The Book of Luke and Gina! Don’t ever say I never gave you anything. 😉
Jennifer looked up from her book at the sound of the jingling of the bell above the door to
the coffee shop. She was surprised to find no one there. The bell above was still swinging slightly
from the motion. With a shrug, she went back to the thriller that kept her attention rapt behind
the counter full of pastries and cookies.
For several minutes, the only sounds in the coffee shop were the occasional soft whisper of
a turning page, the ticking of the heating elements on the coffee and tea machines cooling, and the
soft rock music filtering quietly through the overhead speakers. Then a chair scraped across the
floor at a nearby table. She glanced up expecting to see someone ready with an order. Again, no
one was near the chair. It was a short distance away from the small bistro table, but there was no
one in sight who could have moved it. It had been a slow night and she was currently the only
occupant of the cafe. She walked around the counter to take a quick look through the shop to see if
there was someone who she had missed coming in. She was an avid reader and would be the first
to admit that a good story often made her completely unaware of her surroundings. On a slow
night, she even resented the interruptions of customers at times.
Satisfied she was truly alone, she went back to her perch behind the counter and began
reading her book again. After a few moments, she seemed to lose the thread of what she was
reading. She flipped back a couple pages until she found where she last remembered the story. It
had been a long time since she’d read a book that kept her so wrapped up that she had difficulty
putting the story down. Even so, a few moments later, she found herself again in an unfamiliar
part of the book. This time she had to turn back a full five pages to return to the story.
A sound made her look up and right in front of her stood a beautiful man with blond hair
and green eyes. He was Hollywood handsome and his beauty made her breath catch. Her heart
beat frantically in her chest. How could she have missed HIM coming in? He smiled slightly and
seemed to fade in and out of her sight. It was a little disorienting. He reached forward and touched
her face before backing away from the counter. And disappearing.
Jennifer looked down at her book and was startled to find herself a full TWENTY pages away from where she last remembered reading. “What is wrong with me tonight?” Her eyes flitted
around the coffee shop. Empty. As empty as it had been for over an hour. She glanced at her watch
and was glad to see it was only thirty minutes until closing time. She didn’t know why she felt so
jumpy. Had to be the book. After taking several calming breaths, she found her place and started
Within seconds, the basket of pastries to her right toppled over, spilling its contents all
over the counter and floor. She jumped back, knocking her stool over with a crash. She grabbed
her chest from the fright. “That’s it! I’m closing early!” She shoved her book into her purse that
was sitting underneath the counter and grabbed the store key from the side pocket. She marched
to the front door, making sure not to step on any of the fallen pastries, locked it, and snapped the
“Open” light off with a snick. Pocketing the key, she began picking up the packages from the floor
to put back into the basket. She righted the display and fixed it back the way it should be. With a
turn, she put the chairs on top of the already clean tables and made for the back to get the big
push broom to finish up.
In the back room, she flipped the breakers to leave only the lights that stay burning all
night on so that she wouldn’t get any surprise late visitors. While reaching for the handle of the
push broom, she felt lips on her cheek and jumped to see who was there. The blond man. How did
she forget him? He laughed and leaned in to kiss her hard and full on the mouth. He released her
abruptly. Her pulse set off in a gallop as she watched him back out of the closet. “Who are you?”
But he was gone. She ran into the main shop holding the broom like a weapon. Within a second,
she was wondering what had her so spooked. She was completely alone in a shop that was already
She began her sweeping from the back. She left the debris at the end of each separated
section for collection with the dustpan. When she turned to sweep the front, she was startled to
find the chairs not on the tables. She knew she put those on top already. With a shake of her head,
she put the broom against a nearby wall and went about the work of putting those damned chairs
back up. The table nearest the counter where she sat, the same one that she could have sworn had
the seat moved earlier, held an empty pastry wrapper with crumbs. The same kind of pastry that
the fallen basket held. She stood there a moment staring at it. She could hear nothing but the
usual sounds in the shop. The only thing out of place was the quickening of her own breath. “I’ve
spooked myself. That’s all.” With a shake of her head, she went to get a cloth to clean it up. She
threw away the wrapper and leaned down to collect the crumbs from the table top. It was then
that she noticed the glorious man sitting in the chair at the table. With a gasp, she slipped and fell
to the floor. She began to scramble away from him. He just sat with a sinister smile on his face.
Jennifer couldn’t remember why she was on the floor. Her rag was also on the floor next to
the last bistro table she needed to clear. She got up and brushed herself off. She walked to the
table and finished her work. After the tables were in order, she finished her sweeping and cleaned
up the coffee and tea pots and made sure everything was off. She counted down the cash drawer
and locked up all the money and receipts in the manager’s office before going to collect her things
from behind the counter.
Her book was sitting on the brushed copper counter top.
She distinctly remembered shoving it in her bag.
As quickly as she could, she grabbed her things and made for the door. Her eyes darted to
every shadow and every shape along the way. She reached into her pocket for the key…
…to find it not there.
She spun around looking for anyone standing in the shadows as she searched all of her
pockets. She reached into her purse and felt the familiar metal shape in the pocket on the side
where she usually kept it. She gasped with relief. She must have put it back in her purse, after all.
She unlocked the door and opened it to the humid night air. The sound of the bell above raked across her nerves and made her feel electrified. She quickly slipped into the hot night and locked the door behind her. With a haste she never had felt before, she rushed to her waiting car outside and gratefully locked all the doors when she got in. Her hands were a jittering mess as she tried to start the car. After what seemed like eternity, she heard the rumble of her her engine and had a hot burst of air hit her full force before cooling to a very pleasant cold air conditioning. It instantly fogged her “smart girl” glasses and she took them off and laid them in the passenger seat before putting her head down on the steering wheel.
She had been listening to a Nirvana CD while heading to work earlier and the song Lithium
was still playing loudly through her speakers. It was on the section that uses several sentiments
before claiming he’s not going to crack. When he claims “I killed you,” she kicked it quickly to the
next song, Polly. She was just too creeped out for that kind of lyric.
Unfortunately, the lyrics to Polly are about an abducted woman…at least that’s what it
sounded like to Jennifer, so she turned the whole system off.
Until she realized the silence sounded like two people breathing in her car.
She looked frantically into her back seat to find it empty. She shoved her hand into her bag,
grabbed her mp3 player, plugged it into the system and flipped through songs until she came onto
Eva Cassidy singing Songbird. That beautiful voice instantly soothed her enough that she felt she could drive. She picked up her glasses and saw they were clear. After putting them back on, she shifted into reverse and made her way home.
Once happily inside her apartment, she finally felt better. In fact, she felt kind of foolish.
She should know better than to let a book scare her. She changed her clothes to a concert t-shirt and pajama pants before padding barefoot down to her kitchen to find something to eat. She remembered she needed to text her boss the final numbers of the night. Checking to
make sure the time was far enough behind closing that he wouldn’t know she had closed shop
early, she sent a quick message of the numbers for the day. She was surprised that in her fear she
could remember them at all.
Her fridge was pretty bare, but she had some eggs and milk and cheese. She decided to
make some cheesy scrambled eggs and went about the calming work of cracking, whisking, and
stirring. When finished, she carried her plate to the living room and curled up on her small
sectional in front of the television. She had a Walking Dead marathon recorded on her DVR but felt
that wouldn’t be such a good idea, so she settled for a couple of old The Office episodes on Netflix.
Once on her second episode, she thought she heard her refrigerator open. In fact, she knew
she did, because she could hear the distinct sounds of someone opening cabinets! The chime of a
glass setting down on the counter is what had her bolt completely upright. She tiptoed around the
wall that separated the rooms and peeked around the corner. A glass was indeed sitting on her
counter and it was full of red wine that had been retrieved from the fridge. No one was in the
kitchen. Her mind raced to where they could be. THEY WERE IN HER HOME!
She tried to remember where she sat down her phone and remembered it was the kitchen.
She moved as quietly as possible to try to find it. Her heart beat painfully against her ribcage. She
could hear the swell of blood rushing through her ears and felt weak and dizzy from the fear
running through her. At the sight of her vulnerable bare feet, she wished she were dressed in
something it would be easier to fight in. She wished she still had her bra on. Somehow, it made her
feel more defenseless with each unsupported sway.
Crossing the open space to grab the phone she spotted on the counter next to the range,
she felt exposed. She wasn’t near anything she could hide behind. She reached for the phone only
to have it covered by a man’s hand. Even as her eyes met his, she couldn’t believe it! Her voice
squeaked out of her, “YOU!”
With a shrug of a very well muscled shoulder, he grinned. It only made him more
handsome. “Me.” Even his voice was enticing.
She turned and ran with her hands holding her chest into the living room. He was close
behind and before she could even formulate a plan, he had grabbed her. His arms encircled her
like a vise, crushing her arms and chest. She could feel a vibration run through him. He was really
enjoying this. She turned her head away from him. Her voice did not sound like her own as she
shouted, “Who are you?!”
He pressed his mouth against her ear and said, “I am Gable. And I’m about to change the
rest of your life.”
His arms held her so tightly that her breath was too shallow and the dizziness overtook her.
She went limp in his arms.