BEFORE READING, PLEASE BE AWARE:
Contained within this post, is the entire first chapter for Power, Book 2 of The Soul of Voodoo Series.
If you have not read the first book, entitled Control, you need to be aware that this chapter contains MAJOR spoilers… trust me, you do not want to read this chapter before reading Control. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
*This excerpt contains adult content and adult language…lots of adult language.
I was sitting against the wall, halfway undressed and curled tightly into a ball. Even though I had hung up the phone several minutes ago, I remained paralyzed by the strength of desire that flooded my system the moment I heard Andre’s ringtone play on my cell. I felt a tear roll down my cheek as shame completely washed over me. My head remained bent down over my knees when I pulled them tightly against my naked chest. I couldn’t look up yet, I was terrified of the disgust that I knew would be in Lance’s eyes.
What the fuck is wrong with me?!
I was exhausted and I could feel my calm façade draining away under this new onslaught of stress. Although I wanted to shut them out, memories from the evening began to flood my consciousness.
The phone had rung just after midnight… only three hours since I walked through a rip in time that may or may not exist in the dining room of Bistro NOLA. Three hours since Andre had to be sedated in order to keep him from hurting me as well as himself, because of some crazy-ass voodoo curse. Only two hours since I nearly allowed my soul to be stolen by a giant, bloody, evil spirit…two hours since Lance nearly died while saving me.
He didn’t die, because my love healed him. What the fuck is wrong with me?!
I had given Lance my heart and soul, and I was trying like hell to give him my body, until the stupid phone rang. Another tear fell as I bashed my weak psyche for going on hiatus while my traitorous body hopped straight out of Lance’s bed to answer Andre’s phone call.
I felt like I was coming apart at the seams. We are not meant to love two people at once. Well, maybe other people could, but I could not. I thought that I had figured it out; I thought it was the difference between love and lust.
I wish it were that easy.
A fat tear dripped from my eyelashes to land on my tightly clenched hands. I longed to find the bastard who had placed a curse on Andre and me. I was going to make the son of a bitch pay for ruining what had started as the perfect relationship. For over three years, and multiple lifetimes, I had wished for and fantasized about a relationship with Andre. Finally, we had been happy; the memory of his laugh echoed in my mind causing a fresh wave of pain mixed with desire to crash over me.
The desire was nearly intolerable. My naked breasts ached and my nipples burned as sensitivity in every nerve ending heightened to an unnatural degree. I moaned and pulled my legs in tighter. The curse should have been weakening, but it felt stronger than ever and I held no power against it.
It continued to ramp up, and even though I had hung up several minutes previously, I could hear Andre’s voice whispering in my ears. He was repeating one phrase; the words crawled, like a swarm of bugs, across the surface of my brain. The creepy sensation worsened, and I could feel them burrowing in, shutting everything else out.
The words repeated, getting more insistent and jacking up the volume, “I am coming for you Cecelia, find a way to get away from him and come to me…I am coming for you Cecelia…I AM COMING FOR YOU CECELIA…”
“NO! NO! NO!” I shook my head vehemently, trying to shake it out before it could burrow any deeper. The voice, Andre’s voice, felt strangely amplified. It had power, it compelled me, and it was magnifying the desire…but it felt unclean.
The thought shot through me, forcing my neurons to begin firing under my own control again, and I screamed, “That was not Andre!”
My head flew up and my gaze immediately connected with Lance’s bright blue eyes, noting the fear that rose like a shadow over the crystalline depths. He was still there with me, close enough so that some of his warmth began to leech out, coating my skin and soothing me. I started to calm immediately; his fingers brushed against my skin, I shuddered and gasped as the last shred of tainted desire washed out in a painful rush.
“Cecelia, are you okay,” his voice rolled over me like warm gooey fudge, a delicious coating of comfort and love that might hold even more healing power than the beignets at Café du Monde. His hands stroked my bare arms gently, and I watched as the shadow of fear melted from his eyes, replaced by a flicker of passion. I threw my arms around his neck and flung myself against his chest in a crushing hug.
“I’m fine now, I’m fine,” my lips brushed against his ear with my harsh whisper. “That wasn’t Andre, Lance, it couldn’t have been. It didn’t feel right, the desire was there, but it was tainted and nasty feeling.” I buried my face into his neck, needing the connection with him to keep the desire away; it clung to me like a greasy film over my skin.
His hands stroked up and down my back, comforting me, while he murmured against my hair. I didn’t want to move from that spot but I knew that whatever had been on the phone was coming for us…soon. I pulled back slightly, so that I could look up at him as we talked, but froze at the sight of his face twisted in pain. His eyes were clenched shut and his beautiful lips pulled into an agonizing grimace. The tips of his fingers began to dig into my back, clenching my skin tightly.
I was terrified that the residual pain from the tainted desire had somehow transferred to him, worsening because he wasn’t the intended target, or maybe he is the target.
My voice was urgent when I demanded, “What’s wrong? Are you hurting?”
His eyes cracked open and he looked at my face, the pain was still there; he opened his mouth to tell me what was going on, but hung his head down before speaking. My thoughts were becoming more and more frantic.
Oh, shit! The pain is so bad that he can’t even hold his head up.
He groaned loudly and rolled his head back on his shoulders. He stared at the ceiling and I watched the muscles convulse along his neck as he attempted to swallow. I ran my hands along the exposed column of his throat, wanting to soothe him, but he only groaned louder.
The words rushed out of my mouth, I was borderline hysterical, “Lance, please! Tell me what is hurting you! I can’t stand seeing you like this!”
He brought his head back down to look in my eyes. I searched his face for some indication of what was happening, but just as I realized that it wasn’t pain I saw in his expression, his hand closed over my naked breast.
His grin was appalling.
“Boy, I cannot think of a worse time for that little maneuver. Jackass,” I scowled at him but couldn’t stay mad. After all, his hand was on my breast, and he began to massage gently.
One of us has to rein it in. It is the absolute worst time to get freaky!
I gently moved his hand away from the magical tatas and crossed my arms over them, trying to dampen their hypnotic draw. Covering my breasts seemed to be working, but Lance was not excited by my success.
“Cecelia, I am either going to start growling or crying like a baby if you don’t move your arms,” he said, already growling.
“We have to get our clothes on, An…”
He cut me off with a hard kiss, and then picked me up and carried me to the bed. He never broke the kiss as he lowered me to the bed and moved his body on top of me. Desire began to build between us and I got lost in his kiss for a moment before I pushed him back enough so that I could turn my face aside and yell out in frustration, “I’m serious, Lance! Whoever just called my cell phone is coming to get me…here!”
Finally, something besides my boobs got his attention.
He looked up at me and questioned, his eyes still glazed with desire, “Huh?”
Yep, that’s my man. I’m sooo lucky.
I pursed my lips and shook my head in mild disgust.
“Wait here, I’ll be right back.”
I quickly scooted off the bed and grabbed my clothes. Turning away from him, I put on my bra and tee-shirt, and then I turned back to face Lance. His eyes were starting to brighten; I could almost see the wheels in his head crank back to life.
While he rubbed the heels of his hands into his eyes, I glanced down at my breasts in wonder.
These things are dangerous!
“Okay, give me a minute,” he said and then sighed heavily. “Don’t ever take your shirt off again,” he said, while glaring at me. “Unless you’re planning to spend the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours in my bed, or shower, and maybe on the floor.”
He started to walk away but swung back around and pointed at me, spearing me with a hot look before growling menacingly, “…and definitely against the wall.”
He walked into his bathroom and I stood frozen, listening to the water run for almost a full minute before he shut it off and walked back into the room. His hair was wet and standing out at odd angles where he had been roughly running his fingers through it. Big, fat, drops of water rolled languidly down the hard planes of his face to drop into the soft sprinkling of hair on his chest where they hung, suspended and sparkling, like tiny jewels.
UGH! Now, all I can think about is licking all of those sparkly little droplets off his…
Yep, I jumped him. I mean, literally jumped him. I threw myself into his arms and wrapped my legs around his waist, slanting my mouth over his and driving us both bat-shit crazy in the process.
He didn’t even step backward when I launched myself at him; he simply caught me and kissed me with as much gusto as I had kissed him. I had no doubt that we could and would have had sex in that exact spot without him breaking a sweat, except a tiny little woman had appeared out of nowhere, tugging on my shirt, and then smacking his ass (although I think she just did that because she wanted to).
She was screeching at us and rambling in Cajun too fast for me to pick up, “You felt dat darkness, shaa?”
That got our attention. I pulled back just enough to give him a little smile while he let my legs slowly slide down his body. We had matching expressions of frustration as we turned to look at Mrs. Broussard.
She looked from Lance to me, then walked up and popped us each on the forehead, muttering, “Couillon!”
She walked around to the French doors in the front and peeked through the glass panes, as well as each of the windows before turning back to look at us and gasping loudly while she crossed herself.
“You done did it, shaa,” she whispered in awe.
She ambled forward slowly and once she reached us, laid one wrinkled hand on each of us, just above the breastbone. Her eyelids fluttered closed and she began chanting, singing an old French lullaby that I remember my Mamere singing to me as a child. The sound of her voice was soothing, reminding me of home, the ease and simplicity of childhood, and for a few precious minutes, letting me forget the crazy voodoo shit.
The sudden cessation of her singing, along with the quick movement of her eyelids as they flew open, dragged me back into the crappy reality of our unwanted predicament. Her eyes locked onto mine and her cloudy blue orbs stared deeply into my own. It wasn’t too long before her gaze started to get creepy, almost as if she was reading something behind my eyes.
I opened my mouth to say something, but before I could utter a sound, she grabbed my lips and squished them closed. Her tiny fingers were warm and strong as she squeezed my lips together. My nerves, which were already frazzled, finally snapped and I pulled out of her grip then clutched my throbbing lips.
What the hell?!
My voice lowered menacingly, “Mrs. Broussard, you need to believe me when I say that if those dried up digits come near my mouth again, I will bite them off and use them to make my own damn voodoo spell.”
I glared at her while I rubbed my mouth. I had started to calm down until I heard the unmistakable sound of Lance trying to cover up his deep chuckle. Very slowly, I turned my head toward him and deepened my glare, grunting at him in frustration. In his defense, he was making a valiant effort to contain his laughter until Mrs. Broussard started cackling. I rolled my eyes at them both and let my head fall back on my shoulders briefly before I turned away from them.
It suddenly struck me that we had not cleared up the issue with (the fake) Andre’s phone call. I swung around to face Lance, curious to know how he could be so nonchalant. He knew what was coming; he knew that we were going to have to battle that thing again…soon.
He was looking directly at me, and although there was a smile on his lips, his eyes were cloudy with emotion.
He’s worried about something. How did I miss that?
“Hey, I almost forgot to ask, what did James say when he called?”
His worries visibly amped up at my question, but I assumed he wasn’t going to leave me waiting too long since he started to answer, “Well, that’s the thing…”
Oh, shit. He is tugging at his hair; this is not going to be good.
“It was about Andre,” he took a deep breath and looked at me.
It was obvious that I wasn’t going to like what he had to say, but nothing could be worse than the silence while he stared at me uncomfortably.
“Lance,” I growled.
“Andre had a seizure about a half-hour ago. James was there and was able to keep him safe, and alive, but…he is in a coma.”
Okay, I was wrong. That is much worse.
My voice cracked, and when it broke, so did I.
The shock and subsequent pain in my chest was so severe that I collapsed. I didn’t cry, I didn’t even blink. I just lay, crumpled on the floor, struggling to breathe. My unfocused eyes stared at the ceiling, but I could see, out of the corner of my eye, the blurry shape of Lance when he crouched beside me. The next thing I knew, he held my limp body curled up tightly against his chest and moved to sit in a large chair where he held me and silently stroked my hair until the shock faded.
My breathing started to normalize and sensory information flooded my system in waves: the warm tingle of Lance’s hand as it rhythmically stroked my hair, the cadence of Mrs. Broussard’s voice as she moved around the room chanting, and the sweet smell of some type of flower or herb.
I blinked slowly and rubbed some moisture back into my eyes before looking up into Lance’s concerned face. I reached up and touched his cheek softly, then ran the tips of my fingers across his frowning lips.
“Your delivery sucks,” I said with a wistful smile. “It hurts, my heart, I mean. It hurts really badly.”
“I know you l-lo- care for Andre. I’m sorry for shocking you like that,” he said in a strained voice.
I sighed heavily and said, “Lance, this whole situation is so fucked up right now, me getting all emotional isn’t going to do any of us any good. The thing is…I think the pain is from something deeper than emotion.”
I had paused to collect my thoughts; I wasn’t sure exactly how to explain my feelings for Andre without sounding like an absolute flake. I didn’t have much experience dating and I certainly never had two men interested in me before. I had loads of guy-friends, but partying and dating are two completely different things. I always hated the girls that would string two guys along, playing them against each other, and getting off on their angst.
I knew what I had to say was going to be painful, but it was the only way I was going to be able to function, at least until we got this voodoo thing worked out.
This voodoo thing is more than a mild scheduling conflict, Celie. You better start taking it seriously…and stop thinking in second person perspective, it’s just weird.
“I have the feeling that the shit in the courtyard is going to seem like a tea party compared to what we are going to be dealing with.”
He opened his mouth to speak, but I covered his lips with the tips of my fingers to prevent him. I couldn’t afford to get distracted, I needed to say everything while I had the mental fortitude.
“I love you, and I want to be with you forever. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have shared my soul with you, right? There is no your soul and my soul anymore, they are truly joined forever.”
He started kissing my fingers and his blue eyes were putting off an obscene amount of heat, it took him a total of four seconds to turn me into a panting, hyper-aroused, ball of sex.
Okay, I need to settle down. That was a little loud.
I continued in a softer tone, “But, this thing between Andre and me is more than just a curse. I’m talking about physical pain, real pain, not just emotional heartache.” I released a heavy sigh and forced out the words that I knew would bring him pain, “I am connected to him and it isn’t going to just go away.”
“What are you trying to say, Cecelia? Are you in love with Andre?”
He was glaring at me; I expected to see pain, but he wasn’t hurting. He was just plain pissed! His body was stiff, but his touch remained gentle.
I’m going to lose him, the thought crippled me and the tears that I had withheld earlier, started pouring down my face.
Crying is never pretty, but this was beyond ugly. This was fugly-crying. I turned into a leaky, snotty, mess in less than a minute. Apparently, the strain of the night had finally caught up with me. I was tired of trying to be practical and rational, and I was really tired of being pulled in a million different directions.
“I’m just saying that I can’t handle all of this voodoo crap and be worried about hurting your feelings or Andre’s feelings at the same time! I barely know my ass from a hole in the ground right now. Clearly, it is not the best time to talk about feelings! Can we PLEASE just get through this shit first, and then we can talk about my stupid-ass feelings? We can talk about them until we puke if you want!”
I think it was my expression of disgust as I emphasized the word ‘feelings’ that finally broke through Lance’s anger. His look of shock melted away, replaced by a deep belly laugh, during which he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into his chest for a tight hug.
“That is why I love you,” he said softly and kissed the hair at my temple. “Only you would get mad because I want to be respectful of your feelings.”
I didn’t really know what to make of that statement, so I just stared at him stupidly while he leaned in and placed a soft kiss on my unmoving lips.
“Cecelia, relax. I understand what you are trying to say, and as usual, I’m amazed by your courage.”
I looked up at him to see if he was mocking me, but was shocked to see true admiration reflected in his expression. My eyes became glassy but I refused to start ugly crying again. One episode was plenty, thank you.
“For what it’s worth, I agree with you,” he said with a crooked smile. Our eyes met for a long moment before he let out a soft breath and grabbed my hands, wrapping them up in his own. His large, calloused hands were able to cover mine completely in a warm and protective cocoon. I felt a calm come over me, my muscles relaxed for the first time since I heard the infamous Nelly ringtone that alerted me to Andre’s phone call.
“We need to focus on what is immediate; there will be plenty of time for us later. You won’t have to remind me again.”
He dropped one of my hands and weaved our fingers together on the opposite one. After a moment, he lifted me from his lap and moved to stand side by side. Hands clasped together, we turned toward Mrs. Broussard.
“Yah! Now we ready, boo,” Mrs. Broussard clapped her hands together loudly and began bobbing her head as she looked back and forth between the two of us.
“What do we do now? Are we in danger here,” Lance asked Mrs. Broussard.
“Non, shaa. It’s good, the house is. Ça c’est bon, fo’ true.” She started tugging at my shirt again, pulling us around the house, “Come see.”
While Lance and I…okay, mainly I, had a little emotional breakdown, Mrs. Broussard had been busy. She was very proud and beamed at us both as she showed off the little leather pouches that we would carry to ensure our protection. Apparently, they contained a lovely combination of ingredients including the whiskers of a pig that was killed in a sacrificial ceremony, as well as a tiny bone from a human foot.
Well, isn’t that just grand? My life has taken such a pleasant turn.
I was grateful for the combination of protection herbs that were also part of the sachet, particularly after noticing that they had a sweet smell. I sniffed the pouch and recognized it as the sweet, flowery odor that was softly perfuming the whole house.
Mrs. Broussard explained that the fragrance was from an herb called Angelica, which is very important in making protection spells like the gris gris sachet, as well as ‘uncrossing’ spells. I translated for Lance as she explained that the ‘uncrossing’ spell she performed would rid the house of any bad spirits or evil gris gris.
She had already told me about a protection spell that she had weaved around Lance’s for the past several weeks, so she wasn’t really concerned about our safety while we were on the property. She only decided to perform the ‘uncrossing’ after she felt something sinister testing the boundaries of her protection spell.
“Maudit diable,” she had whispered.
I shuddered slightly at her words and Lance squeezed my hand gently in response.
Cursed devil? It was here.
“What is it? What did she say?”
“Maudit diable means, cursed devil,” my voice was flat as I spoke. I turned and looked into Lance’s eyes as I voiced the question that left me frozen in fear, “How did he get out of the fountain?”
Everything was happening so fast, I was losing track. I thought back to the events of the day and shook my head in disbelief. The feeling of helplessness had started to fade as I listened to Mrs. Broussard explain about the protection spells. I was feeling more confident, but as my confidence began to reemerge, so did my anger.
I pasted a huge smile on my face and asked with fake enthusiasm, “Can we just talk about the fact that our lives have gone to hell in a hand-basket over the past twenty-four hours? Oh, and as a bonus, the evil blood-dude that tried to kill us earlier, yeah, it is adapting! Awesome!! What’s next, zombies?!? ”
“Coooowee, sha! Don’t make play with the zombies!”
I looked at Mrs. Broussard sharply, then back at Lance to see that his expression was a mirror image of my own. Before I could say a word, however, he smacked his hand over my mouth.
“I’m sorry Celie, I just can’t risk it.”
I pinched his hand and then glared at him as he jerked it away from me. “I’m not an idiot. I know when to shut up,” I said testily
“Ça va bien. Let’s see for how long, huh boo. We don’t need no more guigne, ya heard?”
I decided that it would be in everyone’s best interest to go ahead and change the subject, if there was going to be more bad luck, or guingne, I was not going to be blamed for it. I didn’t want to have to deal with it either.
What I did want was to figure out how we could break the freaking curse. Also, I needed to see Andre…no, I wanted to see Andre, and I did not want to wait another minute.