Ever wake up and want to hit rewind as fast as possible, backing up say twelve hours or so to erase whatever you did the night before? Or maybe you’ve woken up with the less horrific, but still troubling, sense of, “Holy crap, I so can’t believe I did BLANK last night!”
Lena, the heroine in Nature’s Pentacle, my March 25 release with Loose Id, wakes up on the mother of all mornings after to find her life has changed forever. After participating in a forbidden, sexual rite to summon rain to the drought-ruined land of the Midwest, she learns that her roommate leaked the identity of the thirteen witches involved to the press.
Here’s a snippet of what Lena’s morning after looks like.
Still shaky, Lena rose from the cushion in the center of the living room. The scattering of colorful throw pillows, shelves of books, and pots of herbs blurred as she blinked back tears. As frantic as her need was to drive over to the hospice center and see if her mother had improved since yesterday, she knew she couldn’t go marching in there with the taint of forbidden power crackling around her.
In her drugged stupor, her mother wouldn’t notice. But her sister, Serena, would sense she’d been channeling magic that fell a few shades shy of rainbows and roses. She’d tried to ground the remnants of power after Matt dropped her off last night, and again this morning after she’d grabbed a few hours of sleep. But the energy they’d summoned wasn’t so easily dismissed.
Reaching for the phone to call Serena, she tripped, then delivered a vicious kick to the offending throw pillow lying on the floor. Damn, damn, and damn it all again. Who in the name of Hecate had picked her to help heal the land, anyway? She couldn’t even heal her mother. As she punched speed dial for Serena’s cell number, someone pounded on the door, paused, then pounded again.
“Damn it, we’ve got a door bell!” She slammed the phone down and stalked toward the door.
Great, now she was plus one uninvited visitor, and minus one roommate. Where the hell was Skyler, anyway? Not that it was unusual for her to go home with someone she’d just met--far from it--but Sky had a firm no overnight policy. She preferred to wake up on her own pillow, and wake up alone.
“Quit, I’m coming already!” The pounding continued as she struggled with the locks. This had better be good, or someone was going to find himself on the wrong end of a nasty spell. Scowling, she tugged open the door. “Matt?”
Before she could invite him in, he stepped into the entryway and closed the door behind him. “You need to pack a few things, and we need to leave--now.” Tension flowed off him in waves, and his mouth was set in a tight line.
“Your roommate called the press last night. Don’t know if you noticed, but it rained all night--not just in northern Wisconsin, but across the Midwest. The land is greener than it should be this soon. Add the fact that the Colorado group had similar success in their region, and the Quebec coven seems to have made some progress against the drought up there, and meteorologists would have been suspicious even if your roommate hadn’t gone yapping to the press.”
Pacing like a restless lion, tawny and ready to pounce, Matt whirled to face her. “Skyler wasn’t content to let nature take the credit. She outed us, Lena. Everyone at the circle last night.”
Holy goddess, when Lena got her hands on Sky, she was going to throttle her. That her younger sister would hear those reports was, at the moment, the least of her concerns. She didn’t question Matt’s assertions, since she recognized truth in his voice. Damn hard to lie to a witch.
“So move! If you want a change of clothes, grab it fast.” He glanced out the window. His eyes were wild, and his muscles rippled under his black T-shirt as he paced the length of the room. “I got word from Kenji, the witch who anchored the circle last night. I warned a few others, then headed directly here, but we’re running out of time.”
“I can’t. My mother --”
“Will be a hell of a lot safer if she can honestly say she doesn’t know where you are, and no, she doesn’t know anything about arcane rituals aimed at addressing the drought.”
Fighting a knot of panic that threatened to cut off her air supply, she grabbed Matt’s arm. “The anchor--Kenji? Did he say… I mean, did Skyler --” Oh, bless it. “How much did she say about witches?”
“As far as we can tell, just the facts of the ritual, and who, in her humble opinion, deserves credit.” His voice dripped sarcasm, and the skin on his forearm twitched under her hand. “She wasn’t stupid enough to tell them it’s hereditary--that we’re genetically unique.”
“So if I go…” Goddess, was she really thinking about leaving her mother? “My mom and sister should be safe?”
“Damn, we don’t have time for this.” Covering the distance to her bedroom in several strides, he tugged open her drawers, grabbed the gym bag she’d left beside the bed, and tossed in random items of clothing. “Getting you out of here is the only chance we’ve got to keep you safe. And yes, it’ll help protect your family.”
The fury of his movements, the frantic motion as he packed her things… “There’s something you’re not telling me.”
“Put these on.” Scowling at the jogging shorts she’d tugged on earlier, he threw her a pair of jeans. “The police found one of the Colorado witches dead this morning. So far, that’s all we know--not who, or how, or why. But we need to disappear for a while--at least until we know what’s happening.”
As she tried to absorb the information, he towered over her and gripped her shoulders hard enough to make her gasp. “We’ve got to leave. Now. If you argue, I won’t hesitate to use a spell to save your hide. But it’ll make my day easier if you cooperate. Damn it, Lena, you’re Skyler’s roommate. If there’s going to be a witch hunt, you’re sure to be first on the list. And the easiest to find.”
That’s the aftermath for Lena, or the start of it all, anyway. Let’s just say her week gets a lot worse before it starts to get better, though falling for Matt, a drop-dead-sexy witch, is a hell of a consolation prize. Anyone who’s curious about the arcane sexual rite that sets Lena’s life on a collision course with disaster can pop over to the excerpt on my website, but only if you’re eighteen or older: EXCERPT Nature’s Pentacle. So let’s see a show of hands here, anyone ever wake with that queasy, “Gee, I wish I hadn’t done that” feeling?