Magic first came to Bethany Hayes in a flash of green light, intense pain, and blinding fear. With the dark witch who wanted her dead now vanquished, she’s learning how to wield her own considerable powers with the help of the former gladiator once tasked with killing her. While their alliance is unconventional, to have any chance of helping a friend in need, she must trust Lucius despite the man he used to be.
Had it not been for Bethany, Lucius Sempronius Asper would still be bound by a dark witch’s curse and forced to assassinate anyone she deemed a threat. Now mortal but free after centuries of servitude, he’s loyal only to the woman who saved him. But as strange attacks plague New Orleans, Beth’s unpredictable magic could prove more dangerous to Lucius than any mysterious evil tormenting her beloved city.
The Big Easy won’t reveal her secrets without a fight. Can Beth confront what’s hiding in the shadows without losing herself to the darkness within?
Check out this quick snippet:
It was just after eleven when Beth took the dog out to the courtyard behind the townhouse where she now lived. The man watched her from a distance, waiting for the right moment to carry out his plan. Her short hair was almost golden under the decorative outdoor lamps lining the walkway and the belted dress hugging her hourglass figure fluttered in the slight breeze. The apples of her cheeks had a rosy tinge from time spent in the sun, a warm contrast to her otherwise fair skin. She closed her eyes and tilted her head up, evidently enjoying the brief respite from the oppressive Louisiana heat. This was the perfect time—she was relaxed, unprepared. He’d strike now.
He rolled a small leather pouch around in his hand. The bag was filled with yagé leaves, typically boiled after being freshly picked by Amazonian shamans to brew a hallucinogenic tea. But this Spirit Vine, or ayahuasca, was prepared neither as it is traditionally in Peru, nor as given to groups of adventurous celebrities and the bored elite of New York and Los Angeles willing to vomit for hours in exchange for a potentially life-altering trip. The leaves crunching within the leather in his palm had been dried and purified by a local brujo and sealed in the bag with a binding charm. But not before a few strands of Beth’s and his own hair were tucked inside. He needed to get her alone. Just the two of them.
With his lips pressed to the pouch, he whispered an ancient verse, and then lit it with a silver flip-top lighter. As he held it away from his body, the bag burned cobalt blue, then the fire changed to a bright purple. The flames neared his fingertips and he scowled. In the back room of the botánica shop he’d been warned not to release the yagé a moment too soon or both he and Beth could become trapped in el Velo Entre los Mundos.
The Veil Between the Worlds. A place for neither the living nor the dead. Somewhere Beth would have no choice but to use her magic.
The fire had darkened to a deep plum and the searing heat now toyed with his thumb and index finger, but he didn’t dare drop it. At last the space surrounding her began to fade away, black and empty at the edges like a photo taken with a pinhole camera. Beth must have seen the margins of reality falling into shadows as well; she took several steps back and looked around frantically. Before the courtyard vanished completely, she found him in the darkness and met his eyes.
Infernal Embrace is the first Book in the Crescent City Arcana series. This Urban Fantasy is intended for readers over 18. *Contains violence and adult language.