A boxed set of my three novels -- The Old Mermaid's Tale, Each Angel Burns, and Depraved Heart -- is now available from Amazon for $8.99 which is a 30% savings over buying them individually. This makes a nice gift! You can find it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
The following excerpt is from Depraved Heart. Ever since she came to Hathor, Tempest has been drawn to Syd, the NFL superstar who has recently been paroled from prison. On the evening of the 4th of July he invites her to walk out to the cliffs overlooking the harbor to watch the fireworks:
Syd opened the wooden door at the back of the garden and held it for her. His hand rested lightly, briefly on her back as she stepped through and she looked back both at him and at the meticulous, formal beauty of the walled garden before stepping out into the wild tangle on the other side. Though she had passed through this door before, she had never been so struck by the difference in the two spaces. The walled garden, under his conscientious attention, had become a tapestry of old English roses climbing the brick walls, carefully sculpted yew borders, and cypress trees lining the pool. He had cleared away the weeds and replaced the missing bricks in the walkways that wove between the beds of lantana, liatras and Canterbury bells he planted because he said they attracted butterflies. Wisteria dripped down from the tops of the walls and covered the trellis over the terraces. But on the other side of the door was another world entirely.
They crossed into the shelter of a lichen-coated pergola overgrown with more wisteria, here tangled with wild grape vines. The columns were wound round with Virginia creeper and clematis. Everything that was precise and controlled inside the garden was wild and voluptuous outside.
“It’s too bad that the lilacs go by so fast,” he said as he walked beside her. “Some of these can grow to be fifteen feet tall. In May and early June you can smell them all the way in the house.”
She looked up at him and nodded. “I remember.”
“Watch your head.” He lifted aside a swag of hydrangea and she bent under it letting his hand on her waist guide her. The night air was soft and soothing, rich with the fragrance of the night-blooming jasmine that wound its way between the silver birch and aspen trees concealing the fairy retreats that Lisette had planted so long ago.
“Anjelica tells me that there is a grotto somewhere around here where all the flowers are white and they only bloom at night. She said there are moonflowers there. Have you ever seen a moonflower?”
“No,” she said, “what are they?”
“A lot of courtyards in the Quarter had them when I was a kid. Anjelica says she can’t remember where it is. Maybe we should go searching for it some night.”
“I’d love that,” she said.
“Yes,” he said, “so would I. Over here.”
The trees turned to windswept pines sprouting out of the granite rocks along the cliffs. Banks of beach roses bordered a meadow filled with buttercups, daisies and wild asters.
“It should be almost time for the fireworks.” And as he said it the boom-boom-boom that marked the beginning of the display echoed across the water and they could see the sparkling explosions of gold and blue light filling the sky above Gloucester harbor.
“This might be a good place.” He led her to a patch of feathery grass where tufts of ferns grew between the rocks and spread the blanket he’d brought from the house. She sat down, folding her skirt under her and he made himself comfortable beside her, not quite touching but close enough that she could feel the warmth of his body through the fine cotton of her clothes.
“Look.” She pointed. The moon was coming up over the horizon just below Eastern Point Lighthouse’s golden flash. As it rose a sparkling silvery path swept across the water. The air around them glittered with fireflies.
“When I was a boy, I spent much of the summer in Galveston with my father. Sometimes when we were out on his boat late at night the moon would shine on the water and dolphins swam beside the boat, leaping up, and keeping pace with us.”
“Dolphins? Really?” She turned to look at him, and he thought that in the moonlight she looked as enchanting as any mermaid that had ever emerged from the depths.
“Yes. There’s a channel between the tip of Galveston Island and Boliver Point on the mainland and every time we crossed it there were dolphins everywhere. There’s a ferry that goes back and forth between the island and the mainland all the time, and people feed the dolphins. They get used to humans. They would come right up to the boat hoping for a treat. I’d feed them shrimp and little fish when my father wasn’t looking.”
“That sounds beautiful,” she said.
He moved closer, caressed her jaw with his fingertips and said, “I want to kiss you.”
“I want you to kiss me,” she said and leaned forward letting her body rest against his as their mouths met. He slid his hands up her back and into her hair.
“You’re all I’ve thought about since Sunday,” he whispered nuzzling her neck, kissing her shoulders and caressing the soft skin along her spine.
She slipped her hands up over his arms to his shoulders and kissed him deeper, moving closer.
In the distance they could hear the explosions of fireworks and the cheers and honking of boat horns, but from their vantage point the path of moonlight sweeping over the sea seemed to direct the full beauty of its scintillating light on them and on them alone. They wound around each other in caresses that felt more intense than the thundering of the waves below and more gentle than the breeze filled with the fragrance of sea salt and beach roses and jasmine.