In a time and place where women are bred to be lambs, Arose has the soul of a tigress.
It is 1693 on the isle of Jamaica, twenty-one-year-old Arose Du Mouchelle is the mixed-race heir to a sprawling sugar plantation. From an old gypsy, she receives a matriarchal heirloom: the Gem of the Red Spirit. She spends years in exile, learning its secrets and mysteries, the most important of which is the ability to enter the Astral Plane. In exchange for her powers, Arose must act as the sentry between this dimension and her world, forcing back the creatures held captive there.
Morel, a voodoo Priestess, covets the Gem. Taking hostage Arose’s family and the port town, she attempts to force Arose to give up the powerful amulet. Morel’s plan is to rule over the evil creatures imprisoned in the Astral Plane, unleashing them upon the rest of humanity.
While evading Morel’s henchmen, Arose collides with Captain St. James a notorious pirate, whom she has already met in a vision. Leary of him at first, he gains her trust after he aids in her escape. She is knocked unconscious and wakes to find she has been had—both he and the opal are gone. However, even if she recovers the opal, she’ll have a bigger decision to make: keep the opal and doom her family, or give it to Morel and let the world fall into a demonic wasteland.
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She crouched on the ledge of a dune. The dying sun’s embers lit the sky just before the night arose. The previous hours of her day were difficult and tiresome. She wasn’t sure if her queasy stomach came from her boiling blood or the fact she hadn’t eaten since morning. The day’s close did give her some relief from the evil Voodoo and treachery, which followed her since that afternoon. Still her troubles would not simply end because the day did. In the guise of her alter ego, Evan, she could fool anyone. She had perfected a manly swagger. But, no matter how drunk she got in the pub, her troubles would remain. “He” would be on the hunt for her, ready to pounce, like a feral animal on his prey.
Arose held a polished dagger up to the sunlight, to inspect the blade’s oily sheen. A jewel-encrusted fleur-de-lis adorned the pommel, glinted in the late evening sun. The same symbol of French royal heraldry decorated her family’s coat of arms.
With a flick of her wrist, the perfectly balanced blade spun from her hand, flipped once, and pierced the sand between her feet. She retrieved the dagger and pursed her lips. Specks of sand flew from the swirling calligraphy of the monogram engraved on the shaft: NDM – Nessarose Du Mouchelle. The “N” made her shake her head. She preferred instead the name “Arose,” as her father called her, or even “Rosie” reserved for those who knew her well enough. Her youth had consisted of tussles with those who played on her name, giving her cruel nicknames like “Nessy” or “Pesty.” She’d grown to hate it.
She traced the monogram with the tip of her finger and clucked her tongue when she saw the smudges left behind. Her breath came out as a steamy puff on the cold steel. Arose wiped off the droplets with her sleeve and checked the razor-fine edge for nicks.
With a gentle whoosh, she slipped the blade back into its sheath built into her thigh-high leather boot. Swollen eyes from earlier tears prickled, tempting her fingers to rub them until their yearning was happily satisfied. She would be much happier staying in her room with a cool cloth rinsed in lavender water, but the entity invading her home made it impossible.
She had to search for the man who could help her save her family and the dragon who taught her everything. Never having met the man, seeing him only in a vision, she would know him by his aura and his scent, consisting of iron, cedar and citrus fruit and she knew his name: St. James, Captain St. James.
Disguised in her father’s old black breeches and oversized shirt, she played the role of a man as best she could. Her fingers raked her slicked back hair. A wayward curl escaped the tie that held her sun kissed locks; she straightened the hairs and tucked it behind her right ear. Linen wraps flattened her breasts, wrapped so tight; taking a full breath was a challenge. She tugged at them until she was more comfortable, and passed her hand over the cloth to see whether any bulge remained. The linen cut into her flesh; she could imagine the reddened imprints of the cloth on her skin. How relieved she would be when she could take a deep breath and rub her breasts until blood ran freely in them again.
She gazed out at the white capped sea. At the shoreline waves crashed into the golden beach. They tumbled into themselves with an unforgivable wrath, and withdrew, deserting white foam on the soggy sand. The ships anchored in Montego Bay’s harbor bobbed up and down while the ocean heaved.
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