With great power, comes great responsibility. That’s something Maya Thibodeau has found out the hard way.
Maya thought she had it all. She had defeated the man that sought to destroy everything she held dear and in the process, found the love of her life and saved her best friend. However, that was before the Loas decided to meddle in her life. If only she hadn’t signed that contract...
Now, she finds herself whisked away to the Land of the Dead and facing her own impending nuptials to the Baron Samedi.
Far from home and anything familiar, she must navigate the muddy waters of royal politics among those who would love nothing more than to see her fail. As if that weren’t hard enough, she must do it all while finding the Baron’s missing wife and battling the growing seed of darkness left by Drake.
The clock is ticking.
Only one thing is certain. War is coming and she will decide who wins and who loses…But, which side will she be on?
Victoria Flynn is a married mother to two daughters and a recent graduate of the University of Michigan. She married her high school sweetheart and together, they travel as often as possible. Mostly, frequenting the wonderful city of New Orleans. When she's not writing or working, she can be found with her nose buried in a good book or outside enjoying the unpredictable Michigan weather and doing mom stuff.
Years ago, when I was sixteen, my friends thought it would be fun to visit one of those tarot card readers and have our fortunes told. At the time, I didn’t believe in such things, but being at the tender age of sixteen and needing to fit in overrode those thoughts. I went along, thinking maybe at the very least, the fortune teller would be a good laugh and weave some pretty fantasies for me and my friends, very generic ones that could apply to just about everyone.
The fortune teller had a small storefront in the local shopping district in Lafayette. She was gorgeous with her mocha skin and opulent garb covered in sequins and gemstones. Her presence demanded attention and respect when she entered the small room from behind a crushed velvet curtain. The stereotypical costume and her initial predictions didn’t stray from my expectations. My girlfriend’s fortunes held a man in her future, a death in the family for another, some would come into money, and others would be greatly successful.
Things changed though when she came to me. The tarot cards started off fairly run of the mill, but changed as she turned over each of the six cards. The Emperor—I would have success and achievement and an important man would help support me in my endeavors. The Lovers—I would have a great choice ahead of me, one with considerable risks. Death and the Tower—a turbulent or catastrophic change was coming to my life and such changes would conjure a lot of fear within myself. Strength—my negativity could become my downfall. The World card—I would be successful on my journey.
Madam Jeanine had seen great potential in my reading.
“May I read your palm?” she had asked, hand outstretched and concern carving deep lines into her face. Those lines grew deeper as she gazed at my hand while shooing my friends out of the room.
Waiting for her to say something, anything, I had simply looked around the room at all the trinkets she had fastened to the wall. Antique mirrors, tall pillar candles, and patchwork quilts decorated the space. In the corner of the room was a large alter covered in feathers, skulls, and a large brass bowl where incense smoke billowed up.
“Very strange indeed.”
Madam Jeanine, had sprung up from her seat and shuffled over to the small bookcase that sat hidden in the corner by draped tapestries. She had ran her finger over the spines before finding whatever it was she was looking for and plucking it up from its resting pace.
It was a black, leather bound book with no discernable title etched into its cover. Madam Jeanine had turned and looked me straight in the eye.
“I have a theory, but I just want to do one more test to make sure, you know, just to confirm my suspicions.”
I had nodded indifferently, going along for the ride. The fact that I was being held up, irritated me to no end, but I remained courteous as ever and tried not to let my irritation show. Madam Jeanine had walked about the room, blowing out the candles as she came upon them. She had grabbed a large white pillar candle and placed it in the middle of the table before me. She had fished a cloth sack out of the lower half of the altar and returned to the table. She inhaled deeply.
“Ready?” she’d asked.
I shrugged. “I guess so.”
I wasn’t sure where she was going with this or what was waiting in the bag, and I was a tad nervous to find out.
She had pulled a small pile of bones out of the bag and held them between her hands. Madam Jeanine started whispering to them too low for me to make out what she was saying; I knew from growing up in New Orleans that this was voodoo at its finest.
At sixteen, you think you know everything, both about yourself and about the world without ever really experiencing it. This situation was no different. I thought voodoo was superstitious bullshit that was ingrained into the very fabric that Louisiana was cut from. I paid no real attention to what Madam Jeanine told me on that very ordinary day with my friends.
Angie had poked her head into the room. “You going to be much longer?”
I’d waved her back into the other room and returned my attention to Madam Jeanine. The woman hadn’t wavered in her attentions to her tasks at all. My momentary distraction was all it took for Madam Jeanine to swoop in and prick my finger. Blood welled up where she had punctured my fingertip. She brought the bloodied metal into the flame of the candle.
My finger stung and I popped it into my mouth. I tasted the metallic tang of my blood as I attempted to staunch its flow.
Her eyes had popped open and she dumped the contents of her hands onto the table top, scattering the bones in every different direction. I looked down at the bones, not seeing how someone could make sense of those things. My gaze shifted back and forth between Madam Jeanine and scattered bits, waiting.
Madam Jeanine had looked back up at me, the twinkle in her eye shone brightly. “Maya, you have a hell of a road ahead of you.” She patted my hand. “One that will be filled with heartbreak and loss.”
I internally rolled my eyes at the cliché.
“You will find great love, to be sure. The everlasting kind,” she said with a kind smile. “But it will not last. He will be lost to you.”
I asked no questions of the woman, nor did I give much acknowledgment to her prophecy. Despite her ominous statement, she’d looked radiant, like she had just discovered a diamond mine.
I guess in a way, she had.
It’s funny the things you remember years later, when hindsight is twenty/twenty and crystal clear. Madam Jeanine had been right in everything she had said. I had experienced great loss; my parents had died when a megalomaniac murdered them so they wouldn’t be able to interfere with his future plans. My destiny had been written long before I was born, and I would be great. But would I be happy? I doubted it.
What the fortune telling voodoo woman had been the most right about was the very thing that hurt me the most. I had known great loss, but nothing greater than the despair I felt in that moment. Sitting there in my new bed chamber where the Baron Samedi had promptly deposited me upon my arrival to the Land of the Dead, I pondered how my life had come to this.
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