The nature of “sin” fascinates me. What we toss into that great big junk drawer is very personal—and what makes us individual.
To me, the greatest sin is driving down the middle of the road because I’m comfortable and safe where I am. My personal journey has taken me through one war, many countries, cultures, jobs, and relationships to bring me to the place I travel now—writing sexy adventures that hold more than a kernel of autobiography and often share a common thread of self-discovery and transformation.
I am a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of erotica and erotic romance. I’ve published over a hundred and thirty erotic stories in multiple genres and lengths, and I’ve been published by Atria/Strebor, Avon, Berkley, Black Lace, Cleis Press, Ellora’s Cave, Harlequin Spice, HarperCollins Mischief, Kensington, Montlake Romance, Running Press and Samhain Publishing. In May 2014, I added Grand Central to my list of publishers when Her Only Desire released! I am also an editor and have edited Cleis Press’s Girls Who Bite, She Shifters, Cowboy Lust, Smokin’ Hot Firemen, High Octane Heroes and Cowboy Heat.
Once in a Blue Moon
When testing an enemy for weaknesses, prepare for things to get hard.
Beaux Rêve Coven, Book 1
Bryn Cavanaugh and her coven like that the community they live in is isolated thanks to a storm that destroyed the bridge between them and the outside world. Now the state wants the bridge rebuilt. When the construction crew checks into the inn, Bryn begins to suspect something about the crew’s boss isn’t quite…human.
Bridges are Ethan Thorne’s thing—after all, he’s a troll—so building a simple span over a remote canal in backwater Louisiana shouldn’t be this much of a problem. When he follows the pretty little innkeeper to a midnight rendezvous, he discovers why his crew keeps running into trouble. Bryn and her coven are casting spells in the moonlight.
As a troll, Ethan feels the sting of his low place in demon hierarchy. But finding an unprotected coven of witches in the middle of the bayou could lead to all sorts of adventure. And it’s better to keep your enemies close…
Warning: Contains a handsome troll (Hey, it can happen!) who’s skilled at building sexual tension with his hands—and several other body parts, as well—and a witch who’s determined to protect her home, but forgets to shield her heart.
Bryn Cavanaugh stirred the contents of a large black pot, breathing in the rich aromas scenting the air.
“With your blessings, come weal and bounty,
With our efforts, come fortunes plenty.”
The spell was short and to the point. She doubted the Powers That Be felt slighted. The Beaux Rêve women worked damn hard and never took their blessings for granted.
She dipped a spoon into the broth and tasted it, closing her eyes as she sampled the spicy mix. “Delicious.”
She turned off the flame beneath the large pot of shrimp gumbo she’d begun the night before. For now, it could steep in its fragrant roux. When she returned, she’d light the burner again to let it simmer slowly until it was ready for tonight when her sisters gathered for the evening meal. Satisfied, Bryn left her large, airy kitchen and headed toward the front door of the inn.
Cooking the large stew had been time-consuming. A task that had taken her mind off the trouble that was brewing. Today, the sisters faced enemies, and she was determined to remain calm, study their adversaries and determine their weaknesses while smothering the interlopers with kindness. Her totem was the rabbit, a symbol of abundance and comfort, and her element was the Earth. She would need to channel both to remain steadfast and calm.
She paused to rifle through the stones in the bowl beside the door. Some were polished and some raw crystals. She found her two favorites-a polished amethyst carved into a worry stone with a soft indentation for her finger to rub against when she grew agitated and a piece of raw witch’s amber. One for cleansing her spirit of stress and the other for deflecting negativity. These she’d also need this morning.
She put both in the pocket of her long flowing skirt and stepped off the porch, barefoot today, because she wanted nothing between herself and the Earth. Freshly cut grass tickled her insoles. She smiled, her first in days since news had arrived that outsiders were descending on them.
Looking to her right, she caught sight of Father Guidry watering his small garden beside his tiny clapboard church. She gave him a wave, her silver and beaded bracelets jangling on her arms, but didn’t stop to discuss his plantings. No doubt he’d say this year’s success was due to prayer. Oh, and he’d be right.
She didn’t have the heart to tell him she’d snuck into his garden every night for weeks to pray to the Goddess for her favor. The elderly priest was a kind man, and he tolerated the sisters of the Beaux Rêve coven while continuing to hold out hope they’d see the error of their strange ways.
Tolerance was a blessing, and something the folks of Bonne Nuit, Louisiana, gave in abundance. Sure, they’d been suspicious of the women when they’d first arrived in their tiny hamlet. But the prosperity the women had brought-the jobs and self-sufficiency-had earned them, if not acceptance then at least a place in this isolated community. However, the isolation, something the coven considered their greatest blessing, was now threatened. Progress had arrived.
She stayed in the grass beside the sidewalk, skirting Main Street and walking toward the river where her sisters were gathered. But as she neared the canal, she found they’d been joined by gawkers. Nearly all of Bonne Nuit was there.
Radha and Darcy stood glaring at the gathering on the opposite bank while Aoife and Miren stared at the clouds above them.
“You’re blind,” Miren said. “It’s a scimitar. A reminder we aren’t without weapons for this battle.”
Aoife shook her head, a frown bisecting her pale brows. “It’s the Reaper’s scythe. We’re doomed.”
Bryn rolled her eyes. She didn’t need to read portents in clouds. All she had to do was look straight across the divide at the big machinery and the crew of strangers there to operate the earthmovers, crane and dump trucks to know they were in real trouble.
“I take it the injunction was lifted?” she asked the group.
Radha nodded. “Last night. I’m sure they paid a judge to do it in the dark of night. Demons do their best work in the dark.”
Bryn took her gloomy response with a grain of salt. The witches were ever vigilant of demons, but the more likely culprit was simply the state’s schedule for recovery from the last hurricane. The bridge that had connected Bonne Nuit to the rest of the world had been swept away three years ago. Something the town had taken in stride since it was a cyclical occurrence. This part of Jefferson Parish was prone to flooding. And Gus Hearn, a local with a Duck Dynasty beard and an old ferry boat, provided transport across the water when needed.
Gus’s boat was already docked on the opposite bank, and he was loading two vehicles, a green construction-company pickup and a delivery truck bringing supplies to Darcy’s crafters’ cottage.
“We can’t take this lying down,” Darcy said, shaking back her long red hair. “Tonight’s a blue moon.”
Bryn stiffened. “The last time we asked for intervention didn’t turn out so well. Remember, we asked for rain for our summer planting? We got a deluge that nearly wiped out the entire crop. Perhaps we should let things be. They’ll build their bridge, and the Goddess will send another storm.”
Darcy’s frown was fierce. “But strangers will walk amongst us. What if we’re found?”
“So far we’ve been lucky. Blessed,” she said, her tone even and filled with conviction. “But we knew this day would come. We’re stronger now. If demons find us, we’ll simply show them we’ve grown a backbone, and that we don’t need their counsel or their manly protection.”
Darcy shrugged, but her green eyes still flashed with fire. “I don’t think we’ll bring bad luck if we ask for intervention and cast a banishing spell. I vote we meet tonight.”
The others glanced around their circle and slowly raised their hands. Four to one.
Bryn sighed. They had no leader, no high priestess, so majority ruled-a policy they’d adopted the moment they’d fled upper Michigan.
Tonight, they’d meet under the blue moon.
And while she’d scoffed at Miren’s and Aoife’s attempts at aeromancy, she felt a little guilty withholding her own confusing portent that had invaded her dreams the night before. The cloud above them wasn’t shaped like a scimitar or a scythe. If her dream was right, it was a penis. The dream filtered through her mind again…
Moonlight gleamed through curtains. Large, callused hands stroked over her back and buttocks as the man in her bed waited while she sank slowly on his cock.
She’d felt the pressure inside her, smelled his earthy musk. But while moonlight illuminated his brawny frame, his face had remained in shadow.
She’d interpreted the sex as meaning that her privacy was about to be invaded. That she’d be tempted to set aside her vow to remain celibate and autonomous while she constructed a self-sufficient life.
But the intimacy of the dream could also mean she’d been alone long enough. The company of her sisters couldn’t fulfill her innate need as one connected to the circle of life, to Gaia the mother-the need to bear children. Children would ensure their future as a coven.
Perhaps the fact she’d been unable to see his face meant that any man might serve her need. When they’d fled their previous life, they’d foresworn true love because a witch could only know love once in her lifetime. A human male could provide his seed, but only a demon could hold her heart. The danger of mating with a demon, of becoming enslaved to his desires, was too dangerous to her freedom.
Reaching into her pocket to rub the amethyst, she concentrated on her blessings-on her sisters and this quiet place, on all the bounty they had brought to the community with their works. Her finger warmed the stone, and it began to vibrate, sending warmth up her arm and through her shoulder before spreading down into chest.
Calm again, she squared her shoulders and stared across the water at the ferry bringing the first wave of strangers. Perhaps she’d been too quick to paint their arrival as something black and ominous. She’d wait and see. And tonight, when her small coven drew down the moon, she’d offer a small prayer to the Goddess for a sign.