The Nightingale Rises

By: Cynthia Dane

An Alpha Billionaire Romantic Suspense

(The Nightingale Trilogy Book 2)

Entry #9

Things continue to escalate. Nightingale has received an anonymous note detailing her identity and with references to The Aviary. I can only assume they know who I am as well.

Is it bad that my first concern was for her safety?

And that my second concern was that… as soon as she came to see me about it, the first thing I did was try to seduce her?

I fear becoming too comfortable around her. It’s bad for her. And me. I can’t afford losing another person I care about. Let alone in that way.

I would lose myself as well. Entirely. I barely survived losing Desirée.

If there’s a God, I will need all the divine intervention possible. On one hand I want to believe, because I need to believe that Desirée is still somewhere out there, being happy and well taken care of. But on the other hand, I am merely a shell of a bitter man, and I can’t believe in such a thing. I have no faith.

Second chances don’t exist like that, even for a man of my new means. I think Nightingale feels the same way. She is my muse, both in my recurring art and in helping me stay on track. If she ever succumbs to me… we’ll be doomed.

Perhaps she really is the stronger one.

Chapter 1

“How the hell do you use this thing?”

Nala turned the smartphone upside down, wondering if that was the key to getting it to turn on. For being twenty-one, she was woefully a Luddite. Her flip phone had lasted her a good few years, and she still saw no reason to upgrade. Yet here she was, sitting at the dining room table trying to get a phone to boot up for the first time.

“It’s about time a 21yo join the 21st Century,” said the note on top of the box, hand delivered by one of Lane Technological Solutions’s best and brightest couriers. At least it wasn’t Andrew, the young assistant who always regarded Nala with disdain whenever she stopped by her sugar daddy’s office.

“Wish he would butt out of my life.” Nala continued to mutter as she smashed buttons and futilely searched the instruction manual for a simple answer. She felt like a senior citizen at a computer class at the local library. If she were an old man, she would go outside and yell at some clouds – and in Portland, there were plenty of clouds to yell at.

She finally turned on the phone by accidentally pushing a certain button on the side. The fuck? What was it doing there? Holy crap! Why didn’t phones have real buttons anymore? Her old phone had a lovely dial pad begging to be touched and played with, like a frisky wife after a lot of wine. Also, the startup sound the new phone played when it finally got going was liable to make her jump out the window because she was so startled.

Vincent told her that everything was set up, and all she had to do was customize it and make sure it was in her name. “Don’t worry about the bill. I’ll take care of it.” Oh, joy, and probably keep track of her. Nala may have been a Luddite, but she saw the stories about parents tracking their teens through parental switches and doohickeys and whatever. Vincent was a good ten years older than her. Did he think he was going to snoop whenever he felt like it? Read her texts? (To him?) Check out her pictures… if she ever figured out how to take them?

Nala wasn’t stupid. She would keep the old phone to talk to everyone but Vincent. Better safe than sorry. Especially now that he gave her enough money every week to pay off her dumb-phone bill.

Still, playing with a new phone and getting acquainted with functioning technology gave her something to do on a rainy Thursday evening. It would be even better if her roommate Patrick weren’t hosting a “party” for all his pothead friends.

At least they weren’t smoking. No, all their cannabis was consumed via a healthy batch of brownies that had baked all day. At first Nala thought they smelled delicious. Herby, but delicious. Then she made the mistake of sampling some of the batter and gagging, flushing her system with heaps of water in the hopes of not becoming high. I think I avoided it. Maybe. The default background on the phone was sort of trippy.

“I feel like… man, life is so much more than whom you’re boning, you know?” That was Steven. Or was it Stephen? Patrick’s best friend, at any rate. He often came over to get high, but today he had his girlfriend – or was it fiancée? – in tow. And another girlfriend. And the other boyfriend his two girlfriends shared. This shit doesn’t happen in Carson City. Nala could barely handle her fake boyfriend right now. Who expected her to deal with more than one? Let alone a girlfriend on top of that…

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