Magick & Moonlight - Scene 1 on Eat Sleep Write

March 15, 2014
posted by Adam Scull

Magick & Moonlight - Scene 1 by Marie Lavender

Ethan Hamilton walked along the shore, kicking rocks.  Up above the water, the moon looked as big as a saucer.  It was a full moon, the kind that people usually associated with werewolves, vampires, and all those silly legends.  The kinds of things pop culture made people believe were true.  But, he knew better.  Monsters weren’t real.  There were monsters, of course, but they were humans who did terrible things.
There was always an explanation for everything.  Just as there was a reason he was standing by the shore in Yachats, Oregon, wondering if his decision to start all over was warranted.  Could he forget what happened and just move on, move to a new town, and hope that a new life would provide him with better options?  Could he forget what had happened in Seattle, the pain and humiliation of it all? 
Just as he was getting disgusted with his self-analysis, he caught something out of the corner of his eye.  He turned and noticed firelight in the forest to his right.  A campfire was burning.  He’d been told the forest was usually empty this time of year.  That was why he’d chosen the cabin, for the seclusion.  He figured it was probably just a couple of kids screwing around.  Concerned that they might start a forest fire, he went to investigate.  Suddenly, he stopped.  “You’re not a cop anymore,” he reminded himself gruffly.  He shook it off.  That didn’t matter though.  The last thing he needed on his conscience was a careless accident turned into a royal nightmare. 
He grimaced, but went on to seek out the person who’d started the campfire.  He walked for a while, before he could see a small stream of smoke wafting up above the line of trees.  He eventually neared a clearing, but stopped as he could hear a voice. Stepping closer without drawing attention to himself, he peered around a tree.  In the clearing was a campfire.  A woman was dancing naked around it.  Occasionally, she would stop moving and stir something inside a cauldron hanging over the fire.  She chanted low words in another language. 
The flames cast light over her nude body, while the darkness of the night partly obscured it in shadow.  Her hair, as black as licorice, swung freely about her shoulders in thick waves. Her eyes in the firelight looked nearly obsidian.  Her body was magnificent.  He felt his mouth go dry as he stared at her.  She was slim with just the right amount of curves.  The light from the flames danced over her full, white breasts and hips, and did nothing to hide the dark triangle of hair between her thighs.  As she turned, he glimpsed her backside and when he felt his groin tighten in response, he groaned out loud.
The sound caused her to freeze.  Her gaze flew around wildly, reminding him of a wounded animal that wasn’t sure of what danger it might be facing. When her gaze met his, the breath escaped him just as she gasped.  Dear God, she was lovely. From what he could tell, she was about five foot four and perfect.  He could not mistake the pull he felt, the way he was drawn to her sensuous mystery.  Instead of covering herself, she crept closer to the fire and before he knew it, she produced a knife. 
Her voice called out, startling him.  “Strong gusts of sweet Nature's Life, soft scented stillness to calm all strife, Blow for me, breathe for me, sweeping all evil away.  Blow for me, breathe for me, in dark winter night or bright summer day.”
He didn’t understand her words at all, but he couldn’t look away.
Then her eyes traveled back to his.  “What do you want?” she hissed.
The contrast between her ferocity and the carefree, joyous way she had been dancing made him want to laugh.  He shook his head.  “What are you doing with that?  You could hurt someone.”
“It’s an athame.”  She narrowed her eyes at him.
He frowned.  He doubted she knew how to wield the weapon.  But, it wouldn’t be smart to underestimate her.  His job had taught him to be prepared for anything.  “Now, wait just a minute, Sweetheart.  I’m not going to hurt you.”  He took one step out of the line of trees, then stopped.
“I just came to make sure no one’s trying to start a fire out here.”
She frowned.  “Are you a ranger?”
“Hardly.”  He sighed.  “I used to be a cop.”
Her eyes wavered over his face, and then gave a swift perusal of the rest of his body.  He had never been more aware of his masculinity, dressed in simple jeans, a tee shirt and a jacket.
“I don’t recognize you.  Are you a tourist?”
He shook his head.  “No.  I just moved here a few days ago.”
“What are you doing out here anyway?”  He struggled not to be distracted by her nudity, however appealing it was.
“Nothing.  A spell.”
“A spell?”  His eyes flew to the black cauldron.  He remembered the strange chanting he’d heard before.  “You’re practicing witchcraft?  That’s a new one.”
“Wicca, actually, is a religion based on the elements of nature.  It’s a way to harmonize with our environment.”
“Is that right?”
Unnerved again by her naked body as well as her suggestion, he shrugged out of his barn coat and approached her.  He draped it around her shoulders and buttoned it over her, aware that he might as well be caressing her, he was so close to her.  He realized that his coat was touching her luscious, naked body, her most secret spots.  The thought made him clench his fists.  “Can I give you a ride back home?  My truck is nearby.”
A long silence fell.  Her gaze on his, it seemed to take her awhile to decide if she could trust him.  “All right.”  She dropped the knife she held.
Inwardly relieved, he sighed.  “We need to put the 
fire out,” he pointed out. 
He took a stick and nudged the cauldron enough so that it spilled its contents onto the fire.  A puff of smoke filled the air, causing them both to cough at the whiff of herbs and something else that smelled burnt.  He began to doubt if she was really a witch after all.  It was likely she was dabbling in the arts because she was bored.  When she gasped, he turned, alarmed.  “What is it?”
She pointed to the mess he’d created with the broth and the campfire.  “I wouldn’t have done that if I were you.”
“Oh?  Why not?”
She opened her mouth as if to explain, then suddenly closed it.  “Never mind.”
“Fine, then.  Let’s get out of here.”  With a hand against the small of her back, he nudged her gently toward the path he’d taken to find her campfire.  “So, how long have you been dabbling in--”
“In what?  Magick?”
He wondered if her contrariness was borne out of the urge to make him more uncomfortable about the subject than he already was.  “Yes.”
“All of my life.”
He raised his eyebrows.  This woman was getting more interesting by the moment.  And for all he knew, she might be crazy.  “I see.”
“I doubt it.”
Not only was she sexy as hell, she was feisty.  He fought down the response of his libido to that deadly combination.  Perhaps she was a witch.  She would be nearly impossible to forget now that he’d met her.  “Maybe you could tell me your name?”
“You can call me Jessie.”
He grinned.  At least now he could put a name with a face.  Or a body.  “Well, nice to meet you, Jessie.  I’m Ethan Hamilton.”
“Good to meet you too.  What are you doing out here though?”
“I have a cabin not too far from here.  I was by the shore when I saw the light from the campfire.”
“Oh.  Sorry for disturbing your peace.”
“Believe me.  It was no bother.”  At least not if he didn’t want to sleep tonight.  His body was as hard as a rock, clenched in anticipation of what he could share with this woman if she let him.  And that wasn’t likely, considering her reception of him.  “We’ll reach the truck soon, I promise.  You’ll be home in no time.”
“No problem.”  He cleared his throat.  “Is there a reason I found you naked out there?  I mean, you lost your clothes somehow, right?”
The secret smile she gave him made his throat feel dry.  “Do you want me to lie?”
“Of course not.”
“The ritual was best practiced in the nude.  Skyclad rituals are very common, you know.  The Goddess tells us, ‘You shall be free from all slavery, and as a sign that you be truly free, you shall be naked in your rights.’"
He lifted a brow.  “Even if that were the case, you didn’t walk there naked, did you?”
“Didn’t I?”
Maybe she was crazy after all. 
“I didn’t walk at all.”
He thought she might be saying that she was transported by magic.  Yep, she was batty as hell.  He was so not touching that one.  He cleared his throat again.
A sharp cry startled him and instinctively, he reached forward and grabbed her when she started to fall.  Unfortunately, she ended up right in his arms.
Or maybe it was fortunate after all.  With her luscious lips so close, he could almost taste her.  And her scent…dear God, she was intoxicating, like a mixture of night air and jasmine.  “You all right?” he managed.
She nodded.  “My foot caught on a rock, I think.”
“Is it bleeding?”
“My foot or the rock?”  Her cheek dimpled.
He laughed.  “Your foot, of course.”
“No, I don’t think so.  It’s all right.”
“Good.”  He realized his mistake immediately.  Some strange instinct caused him to keep her close.  Stepping back would be a crime and she was seductive.  Knowing she was naked underneath his coat didn’t help anything.  She was way too accessible.  Heedless of the costs, he plunged a hand into the soft waves of her dark hair and lowered his mouth to hers.
She tasted like wine, potent and sweet.  He explored her mouth slowly, allowing her the chance to pull away or slap him.  He knew he’d deserve it.  He’d never stolen a kiss before, and he couldn’t think why he’d done it now.  But, she tasted delicious.  And her body felt so good against his.  He groaned and drew her closer.  When she moaned in return, he kissed her deeply and moved a hand down her back.  His hands wanted to roam further, but he held himself in check.  If he was a real gentleman, he’d pull away now.  Reluctantly, he did. 
He drew back and tried to get his libido back under control.  “Ah…sorry.  I wasn’t thinking.”  He swept a hand through his hair.
He thought she looked just as shaken.  But she smiled a little.  “It’s okay.  No harm done, right?”
“Right.”  He eased an arm around her again and took her to the truck. 
Jessie was turned toward the cabin when he opened the passenger door.
“Everything all right?” he asked.  
“Yes.  That’s a lovely cabin.”
“Thanks.  It’s a rental.”  He led her to the truck, where she hopped in quickly.  After he shut the door, he walked around the truck to the driver’s side, got in and started the engine.  He glanced over, saw her bare legs that seemed to go a mile and looked away. 
Jessie sighed.
When he looked back at her, she was shivering.  “Oh.  Sorry.”  He flipped the heater on full blast and smiled when she cast him a grateful glance.  “Is your place on the outskirts of town or further in?”
“Right in the middle.”
He nodded.  “Great.”  He pulled away and started down the long road that wound around the forest.
Jessie was quiet as he drove back towards town.  Ethan couldn’t blame her.  They were basically strangers, though he supposed he had some familiarity with her body now.  It was odd.  When he’d had her in his arms, she hadn’t felt like a stranger.  It had felt right somehow.  As his lips moved on hers, as he’d held her tight against him, there was a sense of homecoming.  She had seemed familiar somehow, though he knew he would remember having met her.
Ethan was not prone to fantasy, but he couldn’t shake the sense that there was some importance to knowing her.
When they were back to civilization, he noticed that even though the streetlamps were on, the town was dark and deserted.  He hadn’t been there late at night before.  He had gone into town to get supplies, but he had mainly kept to himself.  Yachats was pretty small, unlike Seattle.  He imagined things were a lot different here.
“Here,” Jessie spoke up.  “Turn left.”
He followed her orders and stopped before a quaint white house with burgundy shutters.  It was little more than a cottage.  Judging by the age of the house and the style, he guessed she liked Victorian homes.  For some reason, that fit her.  Even in the dark, he glimpsed a decent garden and flower beds around the outside of the house.  He was reminded of his grandmother.  Nana, his father’s mother, had loved gardening.  He had often escaped to her house when his parents left town.  His own mother wouldn’t know what to do with a plant, although she certainly paid for the gardeners to make it to look otherwise.
“Nice house,” he commented as he killed the engine.
“Thank you.  It was my grandma’s.  Well, ours.  Never mind.”
He imagined there was more to that story, but he didn’t press.  She probably wanted to get away from him as fast as possible.  For God’s sake, the woman was half-naked.
“Well.  It was nice meeting you, Ethan.”
“It was certainly a pleasure,” he agreed.  He shifted as color moved up his neck.  He tried to get control over his desire.  He cleared his throat.  “Let me walk you up.”
She looked surprised again.  “All right.”
He got out of the truck, then opened her door.  She murmured a thank you.  He caught a glimpse of bare thigh when she exited the vehicle.  He wisely suppressed a groan.
He shut the door and followed her up the walk.  When they were standing on the porch, he glanced at the white swing nearby.  “It seems so peaceful.  She must have been special, your grandmother.”
“She was.”  There was a comfortable silence between them.  “Well, I should go inside.”
“You must forgive me if I don’t return your coat right away.  It would cause me more embarrassment if I did otherwise.”
He frowned.  He hadn’t noticed her discomfort before.  He supposed he had been distracted by her natural sensuality.  But in the moonlight her cheeks were flushed.  Ah, hell.  That peep show had been private, not meant for anyone but herself.  “I understand.”
She smiled.  “Goodnight then.”
“Goodnight, Jessie.”  His eyebrows rose to see her open the door without a key.  Not much need for security measures, he imagined.
When she was safely inside, he returned to his truck.  The engine roared to life as soon as he turned the key.  With a last lingering glance at the house, now lit up from the inside, he drove back the way he’d come.  As he drove through town, he thought of Jessie.  She was certainly an interesting woman and not one he was likely to forget.  Perhaps the fact that she had his coat would offer a convenient excuse for him to talk to her again.  He looked forward to it.