I’m also planning to release a coupon for free copies of Invoke if I can get 10 reviews total on Amazon for each of the following books:
On with the excerpt, eh?
Gavin looked up. Madame Braith was in the door to the den. She was wearing a long white nightgown. Her red hair fell down her back and around her face. She was beautiful.
“Madame Braith,” he said.
“What are you doing?”
“Iâ€¦” He foundered, wondering what to tell her. He didn’t want her to know that he was convinced that she’d done something bad to all of them that afternoon during the exercise. But as he looked at herâ€¦her smooth freckled skin and full lipsâ€¦he began to think she must have done it by accident. Madame Braith could never knowingly hurt any of them. She wasn’t a malicious person. “Today, during the exercise, I saw something.”
“Did you?” She sounded interested.
“I was trying to find out what it was.”
“Tell me about it,” said Madame Braith. She beckoned him to join her in the hallway.
Gavin looked around at the books that were spread out all over the floor. He reached for one and started to put it back on the shelf. He hoped it was the right place for it.
“Leave them,” said Madame Braith. “We’ll put them back later.”
Gavin looked from the books to Madame Braith, who looked like an angel in the doorway. “Okay,” he said. She was right. They would be time later for setting the den straight.
She held out her hand to him, and he went to her. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world to place his hand in hers. When they touched, for one second, he felt a jolt of alarm, something inside him screaming that this didn’t make any sense, that Madame Braith shouldn’t be wandering around in a nightgown, taking his hand, and that everything, everything, was completely screwed up. But it passed like a dream, and he let her lead him through the mansion to her bedroom.
It was tucked beside the kitchen on the lower level of the house. Gavin knew it was there, but he’d never seen inside it before. Now, it stood open and soft, warm light filtered out of its doorway. As Madame Braith pushed the door open, he realized that the room was lit with nearly a hundred candles. They were all white and of various sizes. Some were long and tapered and stood tall on bookshelves and dressers. Others squatted fat and dripping on the floor.
Madame Braith’s bed sat in the middle of the floor. Its white covers were pulled backâ€”an invitation.
She still held his hand. “Now,” she said, “tell me what you saw.”
“I saw spirits,” said Gavin. “They were old and dark and frayed. They crawled on me. They burrowed in me.”
Madame Braith smiled a small smile. “It is a gift what has happened to you, Gavin. You are blessed. Very few are given such power from the spirit realm. You must be thankful.”
Gavin dropped his head, feeling ashamed. Here, he’d been thinking that what had happened to him had been something evil. Madame Braith was saying that it was a powerful gift. How could he have been so mistaken?
Madame Braith put two fingers under his chin and raised his face so that she could look in his eyes. “Don’t,” she said. “Not you, Gavin. You do not hang your head. Not anymore. I saw that this afternoon when you challenged me. You are changed.”
So he was different. He knew it!
“You don’t have to fight it,” she whispered. “It’s what you want, if you search your soul. You’ve had it before. You’ll have it again. You and I. You and I always. My Bear. My Dragon.”
And then Madame Braith kissed him.
At first, he tried to pull away. Thoughts of Wyn swam to the surface of his thoughts. He loved Wyn. He couldn’t kiss another woman. But then, Wyn seemed distant suddenly, like a fantasy, something as unreal as his fears earlier when he’d been frantically searching through the books. He touched Madame Braith’s hair, fiery like the lights of the candles, and her lips seared into his.
He moaned. He moaned a name, and it wasn’t Madame Braith’s. It wasn’t her first name either, which was Jan. Instead, he clutched her small waist and drew her hips against his, crushing her as close as he could, his emotions soaring through a sense of perfection, of rightness, of memory. She responded, wrapping her legs around his waist, thrusting her tongue into his mouth.
It was a whimper, an ecstatic release of something long, long repressed.