Elegant as well as beautiful, Vadra Duquesne lives on the family estate, River Styx, away from the glitz and glamour of the city with a black, backwater swamp flanking her backyard, home to a myriad of creatures. But none more dangerous than one man.
Navarre Beauvrie, a mysterious loner, finds himself drawn to Vadra Duquesne like no other, causing him to wonder if the magic with Vadra is real or if there are forces of the underworld involved, mainly his grandmother who openly practices witchcraft, obsessed with protecting Vadra from the dark underbelly of evil. Vadra is thrust into a world of passion where desire rules her body and love rules her heart. Now, as the night stakes its claim, she becomes its next victim, kidnapped from her home into the black, backwater swamp and thrust into a dark and dangerous world of gun-running and conspiracy from which there is no escape. An ultimatum is issued with Vadra as the pawn—an exchange. Vadra for her brother, a cop whose interference has cost the gun-runner millions of dollars in profits. When Navarre Beauvrie finds the woman he loves is held at the mercy of a man called Fast Eddie, he launches a rescue to find her. Will he be able to save the woman he loves as the deadline approaches or will the swamp claim her for its own?
A dark moon hung heavy over the black backwater swamp of River Styx as a canoe slipped quietly through the water, red eyes watching from the bank before sliding its reptilian body under the surface. Mosquitoes buzzed loudly, looking for their next meal. The night air was oppressive. Not even the air stirred yet from the distance the strains of a melody filtered into the dead silence. From the balcony, Vadra Duquesne swayed to the music, eyes closed, a gentle smile, a hand wrapped around a glass of Chardonnay. A bead of sweat formed and trickled between her breasts and she absently brushed it away.
From a distance, an old woman watched out of rheumy eyes as she chanted a protection spell.
“Powers that be, hear me. Powers that be, protect the one of my heart.” Her withered lips trembled. “So I ask. So mote it be.”
She raised her hands to the dark moon, closed her eyes and chanted the words silently. The spirits answered to their call with a swift lifting of a high wind. The old woman turned in a circle three times, her lips constantly moving. A cloud moved over the moon, the night now in total darkness as the chant went on. The wind began to ebb as the old woman became still, low-ering her hands to her sides and opening her eyes. The music changed now, a haunting melody that tugged at the soul as the moon bravely peeked out from it’s hid-ing place. The young woman drained her wineglass and set it on a small table, splaying her hands wide on the white banister as she turned. Once more the old woman whispered, “Protect the one who has my heart. “So I ask. So let it be.”
The brush rustled and twigs broke as something moved through the trees. Everything stilled from that movement, assuring themselves they’d be safe from whatever predator lurked to take their life. Out of the shadows and into the night, by the dark of the moon the shape of a man emerged.
The old woman stiffened, a defiant look on her withered face as the man walked toward her. She turned back to the two-story white house and continued as if he weren’t there.
“Powers that be, hear me. Powers that be, protect the one of my heart.” Her speech was hurried now as the man drew closer. “So I ask. So mote it be.”
She called up the wind with her chants one last time, knowing that within minutes her grandson would demand she stop.
He was closer now. She could feel the anger pouring off him in waves.
The night came alive with sound. Over the chirping of katydids, crickets and grasshoppers, the unmistakable outraged strides of an irate male could be heard.
“Gran, what the hell do you think you’re doing out here in the middle of the night?”
She didn’t answer, continuing her chant of protec-tion. Now she closed her eyes and her ears against him.
On the balcony, the young woman picked up her glass and sighed, looking out over the backwater swamp that lay in back of her house. She squinted into the gloomy darkness, thinking she’d seen a white clad figure between the trees at the edge of her property. Dismissing it, she picked up her glass, entering her bedroom and closed the French doors behind her. The music shifted into a sultry sensuous beat.
The man glanced up as the doors closed, catching a glimpse of a feminine form.
“Gran, don’t do this,” he growled threateningly.
She opened her eyes and stared defiantly at him, her mouth moving silently as their eyes meet. Hurriedly, she ran through her chant one more time then bowed her head and prayed.
Navarre Beauvrie stood by her frail body, every muscle straining with anger. He was a giant next to his grandmother, strikingly handsome and powerfully built. His eyes were as black as the night, glinting with dangerous wrath. His mouth was stretched into a hard line, his face like stone. “Didn’t I tell you to stay away from here?”
He stared down at her lined face, at the determined set to her chin and all the love he felt for the woman who raised him barreled out of his heart. Try as he might, he couldn’t shake her belief in witchcraft as a way of life. He knew underneath her dress, around her neck hung a small bag of protection spells. It was her direction in life, she insisted, that she could protect the innocent from evil.
“I ask you not to do this.” A curse slipped through his lips. “Will you please go back home now and leave this?”
Antoinette Beauvrie pulled herself up to her five feet height, raised her chin and met her grandson’s eyes defiantly.
They both turned to the house as the music changed again, a haunting melody that saddened the heart. The doors opened again, interior lighting spilled out into the darkness but no one emerged.
Navarre closed his eyes and exhale a heavy breath. “Why do you insist on doing these things?” He tamped down on his anger, knowing she’d ignore him like she always did. “You’re taking this too far.”
She never took her eyes off the house, waiting, hoping Vadra would come forward one more time, her bony hands clenched tightly around the talisman she held in her palm.
“You’ve got to let this go,” he said tightly. “Whatever happens, happens and you standing here night after night, chanting these idiotic words isn’t going to stop it.”
Now she turned to stare up at her grandson with renewed confidence. “They kept you safe all this years.” She glanced back at the house then slowly started walking away. “Don’t deny your heritage, Navarre. It made you what you are today.”
Catching up with her, he took her gently by the arm and turned her toward him. “Gran, you know I love you more than anything in the world. And, you know I appreciate everything you’ve ever done for me. But this. This …”
She reached up and patted his cheek. “I love you, too,” she murmured softly. “This ... as you call it is what I know. It’s what I do. Have always done and will always do.”
He leaned his forehead against hers, his eyes closed. “I know but your way of life is not mine. My belief is not the same as yours. I just don’t understand why you persist with River Styx and this Duquesne woman.”
He curved his arm around her shoulder, tucking her under his shoulder protectively and began walking toward home. “I must protect her, Navarre” -determination firmed her voice– “I must.”
She deftly removed herself from under his arm, twisting her bony fingers in the fabric of his shirt, giving him a beseeching gaze with intentional deliberation. Defeated, Navarre splayed his hands on his hips and lifted his face to the dark of the moon.
Satisfied by his unwilling capitulation, she lay a hand across his cheek. “Accept the gift, Navarre, it’s in your blood. Fate is already in place.”