The Burning of Arbor by J. L. Brown

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Title:  The Burning of Arbor
Series: The Witches of Arbor, Book One
Author: J.L. Brown
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: April 16, 2018
Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Female/Female/Male (Female/Female interaction)
Length: 101400
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, LGBT, paranormal, witches, bisexual, polyamory, religion

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Synopsis

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Evangeline Clarion is a fiery artist and
elemental witch. She dreams of opening a gallery in her small town of Arbor,
but Eva’s embrace of her own power and sexuality offends the pious
sensibilities of the devout Arbor citizenry.
A gaggle Eva referred to as “Arbor’s
Most Moral” sets out on a witch hunt to ruin her and drive her out of town.
They attack her in the pews, in the press, and in person. But instead of
weakening her, the relentless barrage fuels the fire within her.
As her burgeoning magic is set aflame within
Eva, so is her desire. While her neighbors plot against her, Eva falls in
love—first with the mesmerizing heir of the Morgan Manor estate, and later with
a beautiful Wiccan. Eva relies on both of them, along with a cast of magical
cohorts, to help her combat the witch hunt. But when magical retribution goes
too far, Arbor’s salvation rests in the hands of a witch.

 

Excerpt

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The Burning of Arbor
J.L. Brown © 2018
All Rights Reserved
Chapter One
True magic has thrived in the world long
before man documented such things. A spark of magic is present in every wish,
at every birth and deathbed. It manifests itself in first kisses and first
loves. It animates and inspires us. It abounds in the change of seasons, in the
most remote forests and congested steel cities. Magic dwells within the rock of
the mountains, and inhabits the waters of every stream and river and ocean. It
exists both in the wondrous and mundane of every day. It is neither good nor
evil. Magic bears no moral compass. The intention of the practitioner who
wields it determines its use, for good or ill. And no one can escape magic’s
most essential rule: what one projects into the universe will return threefold.
The Wiccan Rede states, “An ye harm
none, do what ye will.”
I chose a different motto to live by.
“Harm none, but take no shit.”
I was never good at following the rules,
and I learned my lessons the hard way.
SUNDAY
I refused to cower. I clenched my fists
to keep from fidgeting and sighed at the twinge of pain where my nails left
half-moon imprints in my palms.
“Isn’t the bank usually closed on your
Sabbath?” I asked, maintaining eye contact with the crotchety loan officer
across the desk.
The woman could catapult my dreams had
she the inclination, and I could tell she reveled in this power over me. My
emerald stare seemed to unnerve her for a slim second, but she set her spine
rigid. Her suspicious gaze rolled over me, and she twisted her wrinkled lips
into a scowl.
“I thought it best not to delay the
inevitable, Ms. Clarion. I’ll be brief. You know as well as I that this little
scheme will never get off the ground. Arbor is a quiet, wholesome community,
not well suited for your kind of… business venture.” She scrunched up her nose
as if the notion itself smelled foul. “However, I am nothing if not
by-the-book. I reviewed your application, and after considering every factor, I
must decline your request. Your excessive student loans, exorbitant
debt-to-income ratio, and lack-luster credit history disqualify you for a
mortgage loan.”
“What about my savings?” I asked. This
isn’t happening. This can’t be happening. Panic spiked my veins, and sweat
beaded along my forehead.
“Your… savings?” she snickered.
“Woefully inadequate.”
“It’s twenty thousand dollars!” I said,
shooting to my feet.
“I am sorry, Ms. Clarion. There is
nothing I can do for you.” But she wasn’t sorry. Her smug expression made that
clear. She enjoyed withholding the means of my success.
Of course this is happening. The
decision shouldn’t have shocked me, but it did, and it hurt. “So, that’s it?”
“I’m afraid so.”
I should’ve known better than to think
anyone from Arbor would allow someone like me so public a platform. I might
sully the well-crafted image of the town they so carefully portray to the
world.
For as long as I could remember, I’d
dreamed of owning a place to sell my artwork and designs, somewhere to perform.
It would be a gathering spot for the creative, the different, the weird. I’d
been saving for years.
This woman thinks she can crush my
dreams in a single five-minute meeting? No fucking way. I’ll figure something
out.
The glare of the noonday sun blinded me
as I emerged from the Arbor Savings & Loan. Squinting, I sat on the bank’s
steps to fish my sunglasses out of my bag. Once my vision adjusted, I took in
the view along Parson Street, downtown Arbor’s main drag. It bustled with a
Sunday afternoon’s lazy vigor. The Rockwellian cafés and shops teemed with the
post–church-service crowd. Clusters of believers mingled and gossiped and
bragged, decked out in their finest prim and proper attire. Arrogance and
privilege marked their manners. Without a droplet of sweat on a single brow,
the parishioners seemed somehow immune to the sun’s crushing heat. The air hung
stagnant and oppressive in the conservative hamlet, nestled as it was into the
base of Gothics Peak.
A piercing “Keeee-aaar” sounded from
high above. I looked into the crystalline summer sky at a red-tailed hawk
swooping in circles, his wings spread wide. I’d know that bird anywhere. Rocky
had been my faithful familiar for almost nine years, since I’d entered high
school. Besides his no-nonsense sagacity, Rocky granted me the ability to
fly—when he was in close enough proximity for me to feed off his magic. He was
the second familiar with whom I’d been blessed. Shasta came to me when I was
eight, right after my mother died. Shasta never ventured into town, though. An
abnormally large black bear walking amongst the masses wouldn’t go over well.
“Your meeting didn’t go as planned, I
judge.” Rocky’s sharp, stately voice echoed within my mind.
“You judge correctly,” I replied in the
same fashion.
“That backwards thinking pencil-pusher
never had any intention of aiding you, and you know it. I’ll never understand
why you bother with the fools in this town. Your talents would shine down in
the city. That’s where you need to be.”
“You know I can’t leave Maggie.”
“No. You don’t want to leave your
goddess-mother. Big difference.”
“I’m not going to argue semantics. I
just want to get home and forget this entire morning.”
“Hate to break the news, but unless you
plan on riding the wind with me, you face a delay.”
“I’ve already exceeded my maximum daily
dose of aggravation, thank you very much. I’m done.”
“You don’t have a choice. Have you seen
who’s planted in your path?”
Halfway down Parson Street, between me
and where I’d parked my truck, was a gaggle I referred to as Arbor’s Most
Moral. Mayor Doreen Crandall sat at a bistro table outside of Ebenezer’s Café.
Beside her lounged Reverend Cudlow—pastor of the First Ecclesiastical Church of
Arbor, the town’s only house of worship—and his haughty wife Gladys.
“Hurry by them, Evangeline, and do not
dawdle. Shasta’s got her fur in a bunch.”
Without waiting for a reply, he caught
the wind and headed back to our cottage.

 

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Meet the Author

I’ve always been a lover of words – reading them, writing them, singing them. And I’m known as a talker – especially about politics, usually at an abnormally loud volume. I was the kid who always got into trouble for staying up too late to read, and that habit has followed me into adulthood. Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling, and Jane Austen are my greatest literary influences. Family is important to me, and I cherish the large Italian Catholic family that raised me. I’ve been married over 18 years. I’m a momma of two incredible boys. I have a small home in New Jersey, and enjoy listening to my husband’s music, camping, kayaking, and getting lost in the woods. I’m a coffee and wine drinker, and I believe chocolate can cure most ills.

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