Welcome to the Secret Cravings Publishing Paranormal Romance Blog Hop! As much of the world prepares for their Mardi Gras celebrations, we too are celebrating. As you parade through the list of authors, be sure to enter their many giveaways.
My first Paranormal Romance novel was published in December of 2013 with Secret Cravings Publishing. It is a first person account of lies, betrayal and the destiny of one witch named Selena Barnes. A lot of the promo has been focused on her and her slime ball fiance, Shawn Richardson.
However, I have another character I'd love to introduce you to. She appears late in the book and she's quite mysterious. Where did she come from? Who is she? Why is she there?
Well, she's very old, timeless, in fact. There are no known photographs of her and even I have never seen her. This is the best likeness I could find that would measure up to Selena's description of her. Meet Amaris, an enforcer for the council of elders.
Here is a little snippet from Wicked By Nature:
Weapon in hand, I turned around slowly and speechless, I watched as the most gorgeous woman I’d ever seen materialized right before my eyes.
Though she was beautiful with her waist-length, raven colored hair and eyes the color of spring violets, my mind screamed ‘Demon!’ She had to be another friend of Roberta’s. No one could be as goddess-like as she was without it being a trap. Maybe she was one of those sirens, women who lured men to their deaths below the murky surface of the sea. But how on earth would a mermaid get in here? Oh yeah, bathroom, duh.
“What do you want?”
She spread her arms wide and the bracelets she wore were linked to a necklace made of the most beautiful alexandrite I had ever seen, shimmered and shined as she moved, casting prisms of color all around the room. And I noticed she didn’t have fins or gills. I surmised she wasn’t a mermaid and my mind ran through the various ‘pretty’ demons I’d read about, but she didn’t match any of the pictures I could recall.
“It’s time, Selena.”
“Time for what and who are you?”
“My name is Amaris. I’m an enforcer for the council of elders.”
Right. This beautiful woman with a voice that flowed over my body like satin was an enforcer? Please! More like lust demon. Every word she said tickled and touched me, pleasuring me from across the room. I hadn’t even remembered I was naked until my nipples stood out in tiny painful peaks.
“You’re an enforcer? All goddess-like and standing in my hotel bathroom? This place must be a beacon for paranormal activity” I said as I looked around the room, ready to whip some ass in case anyone else decided to join our impromptu party.
“What do you mean, Selena? I was sent to get you and here I am. There’s no need for modesty” she said matter-of-factly as I grabbed a pink, fluffy robe and slid it on, my sarcasm lost on her.
“Well, I’d feel more comfortable if at least one of us wasn’t naked, Amaris. No offense.” The woman would be a perfect muse for any artist. She was flawless!
“You need to say your goodbyes. It’s time to go.”
Amaris is much more than an enforcer for the council of elders. In fact, she is older than anyone remaining on the council. Her beauty is ethereal and that beauty is what most likely led to her demise in the 1700's. Before fleeing to Salem Ridge, Indiana, Amaris was one of the most well known witches to ever live in New Orleans. Before then? No one knows and she isn't exactly forthcoming with details of her life back then.
In New Orleans, Amaris was the witch everyone turned to in time of need. When medicines failed, Amaris succeeded with her many herbs and words spoken to the Universe on behalf of distraught parents who wished to save their ill children. With diseases running rampant, taking the good and bad people of her beloved land, Amaris did everything she could to spare and save as many people as possible. Men came to her for love spells, women wanted to be as beautiful as she was and she did her best to help them all.
One particular night, a handsome stranger came calling. He didn't appear to be ill, but she knew he was at her door for more than medicine. Randall Boudreaux wanted a cure. A cure for the curse that had befallen his family for generations. He cried, begged and pleaded with Amaris to help him. Help him by destroying the curse that had made him a mass murderer. The kind who kill not for pleasure, but for blood.
Amaris knew she could not cure him by normal means. She knew there was no potion, no medicine, no spell of any kind that could lift the plague he suffered. But after weeks of Randall coming to her home, begging her to help him stop, Amaris knew she must try. The man was not some rabid animal. He suffered with guilt over every terrible thing he had ever done.
Months of trying to cure and console him left Amaris desperate for an answer. For she had found herself to be in love with Randall and if word got out that he was the monster killing the townspeople, surely the remaining members of the community would have him killed. Amaris found herself willing to do anything and everything it took to save him.
She began turning away those who came to her for assistance. She locked herself away, spending every spare moment mixing potions, casting spells and pleading with the Goddess to save her true love. But nothing worked. Six months after Randall first appeared on Amaris's doorstep, disaster struck.
Randall had been starving himself for weeks, believing he could make the hunger go away. To him, it was an addiction, curable by abstinence. However, in his frantic, fevered state, he'd forgotten what time of year it was. When the first whistles and music began, he thought he was hearing things. Surely, he must've been going mad from hunger. And then, the Mardi Gras parade began. Warm body after warm body, filled with liquor and joy danced through the streets of New Orleans.
From blocks away, locked in Amaris's home, he could hear the thundering of the party goers' hearts. He could smell their life essences pumping through them with every step they took. In a maddening fury, he dashed from Amaris's bedroom, ripping her front door off of the hinges, he disappeared into the night.
Amaris followed, led by the blood curdling screams that echoed throughout her town. When she caught up to him, there were bodies lying everywhere. He had torn the throats out of at least a hundred people as others cowered in fear, too frightened to run or look away.
She threw herself at him, begging him to stop. Stop the killing. She loved him and he loved her. They could go away together. Randall just needed to stop. He flung her aside like a rag doll and those few people who still stood there watching with morbid curiosity, started screaming at Amaris. How could she do this to them? This monster was who she'd been helping while their children, spouses and loved ones had died over recent months. They were terrified and angry. They wanted her dead.
In fear of the people who were now intent on killing not only Randall, but her, too, Amaris summoned every ounce of her powers, she stood in the center of the mob, protecting Randall as he drained yet another body. She balanced a large ball of violet light between her hands and as they advanced towards her and her beloved, she spread her hands wide, releasing the energy. Power and light shot from each of her fingertips and she decimated all but Randall and herself in one large release of energy. In an instant, everyone who'd tried to kill Randall and her were gone.
When Randall broke free of his blood high, he knew his lover had killed so many to protect him and he knew he'd never be able to live with himself for allowing the one good thing in his life to turn into a monster like him. The curse could never be broken and now his love was as tainted as he. Randall did the only thing he could do. He grabbed the closest weapon he could find...a knife and slit his own throat deeply and from ear to ear.
Amaris cried over his body for days. She lay in the center of the street surrounded by corpses as her tears mingled with the blood of her lover. She was so distraught that she didn't notice when a group of people appeared. She was taken away by them and put into a carriage, transported to town after town, imprisoned. Amaris was never harmed, for people were fearful of her. Instead, they made sure she was taken care of and she outlasted everyone who'd ever held her captive. For over one hundred years, she remained silent.
In 1859, a coven of witches freed her from captivity and took her away to the town that is now named Salem Ridge, Indiana. She was held for trial and sent to Summerland to stand before a jury of her peers for her crimes against humanity. After being found guilty, Amaris was sentenced to a lifetime, or until they felt she'd paid for her crimes, of servitude to the council of elders. The only powers she was allowed to retain were those that helped her transport herself and other offenders to the different realms.
With knee-length, raven-colored hair and violet eyes, Amaris exists only to help the council. She appears to be cold and aloof, but it is surely a defense mechanism used to prevent her from becoming attached to anyone. She travels naked, not because she is vulgar or profane, but baring her body in tribute to the Goddess that spared her life all those decades ago and still protects her. She feels unworthy of clothing and believes garments would only lock away the guilt she carries inside of her, hiding it from the humans she was supposed to help but instead murdered.
She's never loved anyone other than Randall Boudreaux. Their love story has been hidden from the historic accounts of New Orleans in the 18th century, solely because the ancestors of the murdered victims did not want the world to glorify the "unsavory pair". The victims' death records state that the "sickness" took them. We all know that isn't true.
Love killed them. The love of two seemingly different people. But their love was no different than any other in history and I feel they should be remembered. Both were victims of fate who were destined to meet and fall in love. Of course, their story would have ended in tragedy, regardless. But would the townspeople have died from the various plagues that had taken so many victims in years before and after? Most likely, yes. In my opinion, the real account of how they died is much more romantic and heroic. Everyone who died that day, died trying to save everyone else. It doesn't get more romantic than that. Does it?