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Authors: Cherrie Mack

A Late Summer Bloom

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Evernight
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www.evernightpublishing.com

 

 

 

Copyright© 2014 Cherrie Mack

 

 

 
ISBN: 978-1-77130-720-8

 

Cover Artist: Sour Cherry Designs

 

Editor: Laurie Temple

 

 

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this
copyrighted work is illegal.
 
No part of
this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written
permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

 

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are
fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or
persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

This book is dedicated to all the girls, who through life’s obstacles
and heartache, learn to become strong, independent women.

 

For Keith, Rachel and Maxwell.

 

To my editor, Laurie Temple, thank you for polishing my voice with your
expertise.

 

A LATE SUMMER BLOOM

 

Witches of the Bayou,
1

 

Cherrie Mack

 

Copyright © 2014

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Cecily
Jareau
, a powerful witch of thirty years, gazed up at the
inky black sky and sighed. With the aid of the full moon, she carefully walked
along the marked pathway in the woods outside Cottonwood Landing. Uncomfortably
round at nine months pregnant, her eyes remained focused, her heart yearning
for James, the father of her baby. Once her baby was shown a safe passage into
the world, she would take him, leave the coven and never return. But Percy, the
leader of her coven, talked incessantly about the rules of the royal family.

Percy
reached out for her hand, helping her navigate the area of rocks and pebbles.
“Cecily, I’ve heard the talk amongst the others. You
must
know if this is your tenth pregnancy. If it is so, salvation
could be at hand. Why do you keep this hidden from us? We have no desire to
steal away
your child, only to be sure
the child is raised within the boundaries of the coven.”

“My child
will be born male, Percy. The fate of the coven can rest with the baby of
another poor witch whose tenth pregnancy births a female.”

He pulled
her to a stop and glared at her. “Are you telling me—you went to a human doctor
to find out the sex of this baby? That is sacrilege—against our ways. There are
consequences for such an action.”

Returning
his scowl, she shook out of his grip. “Keep your crown on. I did no such
thing.” She wagged her finger in his face, resting the other hand on her
swollen belly. “But... I will tell you this. The minute this baby is born, I
will denounce my royal witch-hood and leave Cottonwood Landing at once. I’m
done being a pawn. I’m tired of trying to save the human race. I
wanna
do what
I
wanna
do.”

His
shocked expression had her turning on her heel to continue on the path. She
scrunched up her face, preparing for the onslaught of his wrath. The truth was
she had no idea of the sex of her baby. If praying would make her baby male,
there would be no question as to its gender. Was this her tenth pregnancy? She
was the only one who knew that answer. And the answer was, yes.

“Cecily!”
Percy scolded. “You must listen to me. You
are a
Jareau
. If your baby is female she will be the
first tenth power to be born into the twenty-first century. There will be no
denying her destiny. Her power will be absolute. It is our responsibility to
guide and hone these powers in order to prevent world domination from the
warlocks. The time of war is close at hand. We must prepare.”

“I don’t
care Percy.” Her flippant attitude masked her fear. My baby will be male,
making this conversation useless.”

“Hoping
does not make it so. You need to plan.
Carefully.”

She
stopped, slowly turning to chastise him. “How about you plan? You worry.
You prepare for
the war!
I want
happiness with my child. I want a normal, dare I say, human life. I never asked
to be born into the
royals,
I don’t want my
witch-hood. I want my freedom.”

He shook
his head. “No. You cannot. This is against the gods. I will not have it.”

She
narrowed her eyes,
then
trudged along in the direction
of the cave. Unable to be silent, she shouted her dismay, “Are you telling me
you will not honor my request to be dispelled?” Halting her steps, she stared
at him. “Because I’m not above calling a council, Percy—you’re not judge and
jury of
my
life.”

He gasped
in shock. “What you speak of is blasphemous.”

“Yeah?
Well a witch’s world is not all sunshine and roses.”

Cecily
stomped away, walking the rest of the way in silence. The stillness,
interrupted by Percy's ragged breathing, was her only distraction. As he
hobbled along after her, she hummed, pretending her world was perfect while on
the inside, she trembled.

Up ahead,
a traveler waited. He would stand vigil outside the sacred cave until the time
of her child’s birth and spread the news of its arrival. When all was said and
done, she’d take her child and go to James to live a clean, human life. A life
she hoped did not include magic, death, and talk of imminent war. It is what
she always yearned for. And she had no intention of walking away from her
dream.

When they
arrived at the mouth of the cave, Percy gave her one final warning. “My belief
in the coven runs deep. The moral fiber of our community must never be
compromised. You were born with the gift of witch-hood, a royal witch at that. Mere
humans cannot comprehend our powers and it is imperative they are kept in the
dark. We have saved countless lives from the likes of evil humans whose souls
were absorbed by a warlock. And we continue to do so. If it weren’t for our
travelers, Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, and countless other malevolent men would
have continued their reign of terror. If you have a son, it is imperative he
learn our ways. He could become a very talented witch or perhaps he will become
a traveler, a fine warrior of witches.”

As Cecily leaned
her butt against a boulder, she snorted.
“A traveler?
They’re nothing but glorified witches who crave power. They’re scapegoats for
the council. You
wanna
know why our travelers are
joining us? Most are joining for revenge because a warlock has destroyed someone
they loved. They don’t join for the cause, or for the royals, or for the
superiority of our race. They join because they each have something to gain.
And my son?
He will hold a prestigious position … in the
human world.”

Percy
shook his head, speaking as though he’d given up. “These men protect humankind
and police the supernatural. If you are blessed with a son, you must teach him
our ways. We are shrinking in numbers.”

She leaned
back and stroked her stomach. “I won’t have any child of mine fight your stupid
war. We will live in peace and harmony.”

“And what of the father of your child?
Has he no say?”

“He’s no
concern of yours.”

“Does he
know you plan on raising the child human?”

“He’s
dead. So he doesn’t give a shit.”

Percy approached
her. Although not much older than she, the father-figure to the royals
shuddered with anger, his jaw rigid as he spoke through clenched teeth. “We all
want peace, my dear, but there is no denying the evil that roams this earth.
Natas
has stirred and is gathering at this very moment. If
your child is female, he will want to possess her by her twentieth year when
her powers come of age. And if he succeeds, we all die—even your precious
humans.” He turned and left her, disappearing into the moonlight.

As the
night sounds grew louder, Cecily became weary recalling Percy’s warning. She
had spent a lifetime in the coven, hiding her powers and casting spells to
remain hidden from warlocks and humans alike. The life of a witch meant to
remain in the shadows. Those who chose to
come
out
were considered magicians, psychic mediums, or gypsy and carnival acts.
They were spat on and laughed at by the human population. No. She’d had enough.
Cecily wanted out. She gave enough of herself. And pretending the father of her
baby was dead was a necessity. James was not involved with the coven, nor
should he be dragged into their war.

Cecily
heard the sound of twigs snapping. The traveler had arrived in the form of a
white wolf. The guardian stepped out of the darkness and into the moonlight.
Mesmerized by its sheer beauty and massive size, she stared at it, feeling no
fear. It was then she knew this traveler was familiar. When the wolf shifted
into his humanlike form in front of her eyes, he explained and Cecily softly
wept. When he finished, she cried out in anguish and betrayal. She cried for
her broken dreams and the life she planned for her unborn child.

James, the
love of her life, the man she couldn’t live without, was a traveler. In a
moment of complete clarity, she understood. She knew the child she carried was
female. James was Jacques, a traveler who pursued the instrument of ultimate
power, their very own daughter. She had been deceived and used. When Jacques
approached her and reached out for her hand, she yanked it out of his grasp.

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