So here’s a sneak preview from my next new story, Wolf & Wand!
It’s a real departure for me — on a number of levels. First of all, it’s a no-kidding BDSM story, which I hope some of you will enjoy! Second of all, it’s a paranormal shifter story, featuring a werewolf and a witch. And third, it’s a period piece set in pre-Revolution France, back in the 18th century.
I’d love to know what you think!
Moonset — Wolf & Wand Preview
As the feeling of becoming human once more turns him right side out and the stars flicker brightly into existence overhead, Rémy falls to his knees and vomits. Once the heaving subsides, a sense of awful, empty consolation takes up residence in his empty stomach. Rabbit bones — nothing larger in his vomitus.
He did not kill. Not a person. Not his wife or child. Not last night.
He looks around, attempting to find his bearings.
Through the trees, he can see the familiar roofline of the Bonamant house. A thin serpent of smoke rises from the chimney. Perhaps…?
No. No, he should not visit his wife’s cousin in such a state: coat shredded and trousers in tatters, he looks like an escapee from a lunatic asylum. Is Séléné…?
His wife. His child. How can he reveal himself to them thus?
Better he should disappear. Better…
Never to have to face his responsibility. Never to have to watch himself fail Héloïse or their child. Never to see them suffer his shame.
He has never told Héloïse about the woman — about his first crime. She knows that a loup garou bit him, but not what he did after. He has never…
As he retches up another mouthful of bile, Rémy feels another sting — hot tears burning his scarred cheeks.
The shame redoubles.
What has he done?
How can he ever show his face again? To have put the two creatures he loves most in the world in mortal peril, and for what? A day on the river? An afternoon of sunshine and sweet white wine at his in-laws’ chateau?
Cold, autumnal wind whips through the nearby trees; there is an odd, familiar whispering sound.
Rémy sinks back, sitting on the chill, pebbly ground. Though the day promises to be as beautiful as the previous — perfect for the harvest — the clear night left the woods and his rag-covered body chill as death.
As he sits there, pathetic, cowering, and considers his position, the pre-dawn wind blows the scent of forest to him: humus and pine, scat and fur. Blood. Hunters and prey. It was a mélange of scents that was familiar and almost reassuring to him. Rémy can’t help but wish that he could let the Beast swallow him completely, could hunt through the night among these ancient, remorseless trees, could throw himself unremittingly into the passion of simply being an animal — no humanity, no past or future.
Héloïse, face bright with anger, telling him to be a man. Face slack with disappointment…
Their brief marriage has had innumerable moments of joy and pleasure — in bed or out, she has the ability to surprise and delight Rémy, something very few people had ever been able to manage, male or female. But the idea of her giving birth to a monster. Or of a child of theirs suffering for his curse. Or worse, of turning some month and failing to stop the Beast, breaking free, as he did last night — failing to stop himself from ripping open Héloïse and their child with his own teeth.
It is more than Rémy can bear.
And so he is here, cold and alone in the one place that never cared one way or another about him or his curse or his stupidity. He is drowning in shame and guilt, and yet here he feels relieved, absolved, as if the forest’s malign indifference had been some sort of benediction, and Rémy needs that benediction, that inhuman, vicious mercy that human beings can never somehow provide. Even if they love you without question.
Standing unsteadily, he begins to tear the remainders of his clothes from his body, heaping them against the roots of an ancient yew. Taxus baccata, highly toxic, native to graveyards and as out of place here in the oak and willow woods as he is himself.
Naked and shivering, he nonetheless grabs his coat and pulls it back on. Yes.The sides and shoulders are split, the sleeves shredded.
Cold and stones tear at the soles of his feet as he runs, and the first oak tree flails at him with its sharp-tipped leaves, and yet Rémy feels a kind of exhilaration begin to spark through him as pain and chill war with the growing heat of his exertion, of his rage and shame, and drive thought and memory quite out of his head. There are boar in these woods — if he should encounter one, he can at least be sure that his death will be relatively quick. Not painless, certainly, but quick.
And in the meantime, frigid air burns his throat and branches cut at his face and his thighs and he feels free, for the first time in months, years perhaps; he feels no need to apologize to anything or anyone; nothing in the forest cares what he is, or what he has done or failed to do.
Héloïse. Héloïse, the night they… Halos, face bright, turned away from him, back slick, hair like moonlight.
As he runs, a thin branch slashes viciously across his belly, bringing him briefly to his knees and his head slams into a low stone wall. Panting, breath bursting in gouts of steam that obscure his vision as effectively as the pain on his flesh, Rémy looks around. Low, thin branches hang down nearly to the ground
Blinking away sweat — blood? — Rémy stares at the tree that attacked him.That I ran into, he corrects himself.
It is the willow. The one overlooking the river. The one where he received his bite, his curse, where he killed the poor woman who passed this torment on to him. At first Rémy withdraws but then the malevolent shadow of the tree begins to fascinate him; it sways in the breeze, flailing its branches at the intruder as if to punish him. Those snakelike, whiplike branches, so many —
If he had run right into it, it would have flayed him alive. It would have…
It would give him surcease.
For the first time since that night, he recognizes the expression on the dead face of the woman he killed: relief.
In spite of himself — because of himself — Rémy stands, staring at the huge, ancient tree, and steadies himself. He finds, to his horror, that the idea of giving himself over to this vicious willow’s ministrations… excites him. He, who has never found confession a useful exercise.
His body shivers more with heat than with cold now, and that heat radiates towards the willow.
Since the night that his nightmare began, Rémy has learned something about himself that, if he were forced to admit it, has always been true. Pain has always been Rémy’s friend. It is alway honest, never flinching. It is the best that he deserves and the consummation that he wishes for most devoutly; Héloïse can administer pain from time to time — a slap, a nip, a bite — but her heart isn’t in it, and Rémy longs, more than he could possibly have known or expressed, to be punished, to have the memory of Héloïse’s fear — of the disappointment had made her look so much like his every-disappointed mother — expunged from his memory in blood and agony. And if he were to die… If he were to end this livingcauchemar…
A consumption devoutly to be wished.
His mind clear, his heart racing, Rémy begins to drop fist-sized stones from the wall into his pockets, so that the ragged coat begins to feel blessedly, terminally heavy.
Quietly, raising his arms as if to a lover, Rémy steps, not towards the willow, but toward the low cliff overlooking the silky, dark green surface of the river.
Closing his eyes, he steps forward —
A light, airy voice speaks a word in a language that Rémy does not recognize, and he suddenly finds himself dangling by his ankle almost a dozen feet in the air, his limbs flailing as desperately as the willow’s. The rocks in the pockets pull the coat in the opposite direction, off of his willowing arms and depositing it where he had intended himself to go: into the greasy, dark water below.
After a moment, the voice speaks again, this time much more warmly. “Good morning, Monsieur de Garoudin. How nice to see you.”
“I… Who are you?” Rémy asks, trying hard not to consider his own state: naked, in the middle of the forest before dawn, his penis — suddenly quite erect — bouncing against his stomach. Humiliation and promised pain encourage rather than deflate his arousal. Pathetic.
“Oh,” sighs the voice, and Rémy finds himself rotating in the air, turning towards the upper branches of the damned willow. There, on a swaying branch even higher than he is floating sits a young woman with terrifyingly pale blue eyes, a mop of fair hair and a body as naked as his own; her clothes lie beneath her on the branch. In her hand she grasps a long piece of dark wood — it reminds Rémy of one of Mme. Jonquelin the housekeeper’s knitting needles.
“Mademoiselle Bonamant,” he mutters. Séléné’s breasts are in fact just as perfect as he had imagined they would be. Though how did she…?
“How lovely,” she says, cocking her head and smiling. “You remember me.”
“You are rather memorable,” he says, looking away from the moon-bright eyes and the cold-reddened nipples.
“How nice of you to say so,” answers Séléné. “That was rather a stupid thing to do, by the way, stuffing rocks in your coat pockets and attempting to go for a swim.”
“I…” Embarrassment and the blood rushing to his head chokes Rémy. The truth of what she says cuts more urgently into his soul than the fantastical fact of his floating, upside down, in midair. “Yes,” he concedes. “You are probably right. Speaking of which, Mademoiselle Bonamant, ought you to be here so early, and wandering these woods so… unencumbered?”
“Oh, I’m looking for mistletoe.”
It is with some difficulty that Rémy keeps his tone neutral and his gaze averted. “Mistletoe.”
“Yes. The dawn following the full moon is the most efficacious time to gather it. Very important for certain potions and spells. And of course, it must be gathered skyclad.”
“Sky—…?” Unsure whether his confusion stems from his recent metamorphosis, from his inverted, levitated state, or from her unworldly words and tone, he repeats the question that he asked in just the previous spring: “What on earth kind of convent school is it that you’ve been attending?”
“I suppose, since you yourself now live in the demimonde, I can tell you: it wasn’t a convent school at all. It was the Collegium Magistrae Ceridwen, a school for witches. I have only recently earned my wand.”
“And, of course,” Séléné continues, sounding as if she were thinking rather deeply on the matter, “it is just as well that I’m not wearing any clothes, since you aren’t either, and that should have been rather awkward, don’t you think? Not for me, of course, since I should have been clothed and I am rather enjoying seeing your body, but for you, since I find people are often oddly uncomfortable about being seen whilst naked.”
“Yes.” The trouble with Séléné Bonamant is that there is always a logic to what she has said and done — however obscure or ill-founded that logic might in fact appear to be. Witches. A Witch. The demimonde. She knows… “Nonetheless, Mademoiselle Bonamant, I am less than certain that it is appropriate that we continue this conversation in our current state. And your… education notwithstanding, I’m rather concerned for your safety — “
“Oh, I am quite safe, Monsieur. I know this part of the forest quite well, you see. Unless you are worried that you yourself are some threat to me, which I do not think likely, since the moon has set, and, in the unlikely event that you were to attack me even now, I have a wand and you have none.”
This observation only increases Rémy’s sense of shame and anger. Stupid, stupid, stupid. “True.”
“On the other hand,” continues Séléné, “I am rather concerned for you. It seems to me rather peculiar that you should choose to go for a run in the forest on the morning following the full moon, and more so that you should make so self-destructive a choice as to attempt to submerge yourself in the deepest part of the river. I wouldn’t want my lovely cousin’s beloved husband to come to harm.”
“How nice to know.” Rémy’s head feels over-full, ready to explode, and only partially because he has been dangling upside down for the past five minutes.
“What puzzles me most, however,” says Séléné, “is that you seem to have wanted to take a swim with your coat stuffed with rocks, which does not strike me as at all wise. There are some rather lovely nymphs that live down in the river there. Is there some sort of werewolf-ondine symbiosis?”
“Not exactly,” mutters Rémy. “Would you mind putting me down? The blood is rather rushing to my head.”
“Yes, I noticed that your lovely erection seems to have rather diminished.” She shifts on the tree limb. “Oh, look, now that I’ve mentioned it, it seems to be reviving.”
“Mademoiselle Bonamant…” Dieu, Dieu, let me die now, please.
“Yes, Monsieur?” When Rémy can’t think of any way of completing the sentence without further humiliating himself, she continues herself as if this were the most natural thing in the world. “Yours is very nice, of course, though I have seen longer.”
“Please, Mademoiselle Bonamant, please, it’s inappropriate enough for you and I to meet in such a place at such a time, naked as we are, but doubly so for a grown, married man to be discussing his erection with a young girl. Please — “
“But you weren’t discussing your erection, Monsieur,” said Séléné. “I was. And do you truly think it inappropriate for us to discuss? I don’t. It’s there, so why should we not? Besides, I am of age. I am not a young girl. Perhaps that makes a difference? I do find it fascinating, however, that your body is is responding so positively to a situation that you say is so unpleasant.”
Again, Rémy can think of nothing to say.
Again, Séléné continues. “What I’m even more curious about, however, is why you were so set on drowning yourself. Tell me, Monsieur.”
Perhaps it is the blood rushing to his brain. Perhaps it is his own sense of disorientation or her outré, matter-of-fact affect. Whatever the cause, he tells her everything, though he has no conscious intention of acceding to her request. He tells her about the woman who infected him and whom he killed, about his anxiety about being a father, about his terror at what his condition might possibly do to his own family, about his flight from Héloïse and Thibault before moonrise, about his own stupidity, and finally about his own retreat to this old refuge, seeking…
“You came seeking punishment,” muses Séléné. “You wished to atone for your sins.”
“Yes,” chokes Rémy.
“I see,” Séléné murmurs, and suddenly Rémy is lowered from his ridiculous vantage above the river to just above the humus-covered forest floor. Lowered, but not released, and instead of dangling by his ankle, he shifts to a prone position, facing the ground.
A witch. ‘There are more things in heaven and earth…’
He nearly passes out at the relief of his circulation returning to something like normal.
Naked flesh whispers down the old willow’s rough bark; naked feet slide along a smooth old root that passes just below Rémy’s head.
“Mademoiselle Bonamant — “
“It seems to me,” she says, interrupting in the mildest possible manner, “that what you are looking for is to be treated as a misbehaving student is treated. If I am to do this, it strikes me that you oughtn’t to call me ‘Mademoiselle Bonamant.’“
“Do — ?” Rémy shakes his still-muzzy head. “Look, Séléné, I — “
“I beg — ?”
“I think it would help you if you called me Madame Bonamant. M. de Garoudin.” She moves again, walking by where he hangs, suspended, and he starts to turn his head, but catches sight of a vast and bright expanse of her skin, glowing pink and white, and lowers his gaze again.
He considers what she said. Part of him would happily deny it — he is no schoolboy, but a grown man. But part of him —
Séléné — Madame Bonamant — cries another word in that unknown, strangely familiar language, and Rémy flinches. But the curse is not aimed at him; something falls to the ground not far from him — something fairly light. “‘O slender as a willow wand,’” she sighs.
“M-Madame — ?”
THWACK. A sharp pain like nothing that Rémy has ever felt slices across his lower back — sharp and hot, but sweet and welcome, like the first taste of brandy, and he cries out.
“M. de Garoudin?” Séléné’s voice still sounds as calm and distant as ever. “Was that enough? Do you feel purged?”
Wolf & Wand: A Paranormal Erotic Romance
Sometimes, it takes more than music to soothe the savage beast
When Rémy puts his wife and young son at risk, Shifting outside of his sanctuary/prison, he runs into the woods, wracked with shame, guilt — and blood lust.
As the moon sets and he regains his human form — and human regrets — he encounters a young witch who offers to give him the atonement he urgently seeks.
All it will take is a lash or two… from her wand.
(8,000 word BDSM, paranormal/shifter erotic romance set in eighteenth century France)