In the Hot Seat: That Old Black Magic by J. Ashburn

First up, my lovelies, happy Easter/Passover/Whatever you celebrate. Have a great day!

Secondly, J. Ashburn has dropped by to tell us about her newest title, chockful of sexy male witches and magic! Yum!

That Old Black Magic- Book 1 of the Boys of Raven Cove

Male witches, magic, lust, love and betrayal. Just another day in Raven Cove.

Julian, the leader of the Blue Light coven, adores his boyfriend Chris and loves training him the ways of magic and the circle that binds them and all of their friends. Chris wants nothing more than to be a good student, help others and ascend to high priest like his partner, he just hasn’t discovered what is gift power is yet. Why has it eluded him and not the others?

All seemed right in Raven Cove until a dark secret from Julian¹s past makes its way back into town, disrupting the coven and exposing hidden desires, buried lies and weakening the bond of the coven and all of its members.

The lovers will soon find themselves in a struggle with powers beyond their control and a dark energy that hungers for lust, power and the one thing that Julian will protect with his very life.

The sleepy town of Raven Cove is about to wake up.

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They stopped just out of reach of the tide and formed a circle. Chris got on his knees and began emptying the contents of the velvet bag. He brought out four small lanterns with white candles inside of them. Julian, Geoff, Troy and Noah each took one and put them at the four points of the land north, south, east and west, then lit the candles.

Chris brought out a knife with a black handle, its blade glinting in the moonlight, and a silver chalice. He handed both items to Julian, then, lastly, pulled out a copper bowl, some jars of scented lotions, and a bottle of wine. He stood up and raised the hood of his robe.

Julian nodded and he and the others raised their hoods as well. He handed the chalice to Noah, who watched Julian kiss the black-handled knife, then point it up to the sky. Walking clockwise, Julian traced a circle in the
sand, keeping the lanterns and his friends inside of it.

The others joined hands as Julian and Noah faced each other, holding the tools of their trade in both hands. Julian nodded to Noah and looked up into the sky.

“We gather to honor the Lady of the Moon,” Julian called. “And her consort, the Horned One. We are the Blue Light Coven, ruled by the waters of the oceans and seas, fluid in our thinking and practice, gentle in our magic, and guardians of Raven Cove, a haven to our brothers of the Blue Light. We give thanks to Lady Habdonia, our Mother of both Heaven and Earth.”

Julian stepped up to Noah and plunged the blade into his chalice. Noah looked at him with sultry eyes. For a moment, Julian sensed a heat radiating off him, but soon shrugged it off when he caught a glimpse of Troy. Julian
realized their circle wasn’t complete and it bothered him. He felt they weren’t as strong tonight. They were only complete at six members, and with Jonathan missing, the prayer just wasn’t the same. He felt obligated to keep
the esbat as planned, but his heart searched for the missing soul as if it had been torn away from them. He only hoped Jonathan was safe and would return soon. Perhaps with his honoring of the Goddess, and despite their
handicap, she would send good luck their way.

He pulled the knife out of the chalice and Chris let go of his coven brothers’ hands and took the bottle of wine. He glanced at Julian as if to ask him if everything was okay, then poured some wine into the chalice.
Julian nodded to him and to Noah, taking the chalice from him. He raised it into the air, catching the moonlight. “We drink a blessing to the moon and its tides, to our circle, and our love. Together we are strong, may nothing
ever break our circle.² Julian thought about that last line hard before taking a sip of the wine. He passed the cup to Chris, who took a sip and kept it going.

The chalice stopped with Noah, who finished the rest of the wine and set the chalice down in the sand. He gathered the scented oils into his grip and slipped out of his robe and his clothes.

The rest of the guys did the same. They stripped their robes and clothes, the moonlight bathing their naked bodies in milky white. Noah opened one of the jars of oil and poured it into his palm. He passed the jar to Julian, letting it linger for a moment in Julian¹s grip before letting go.

Everyone rubbed their bodies with the oils and sat on the beach crossed-legged. They sat in silence, letting the scents fill them, relaxing them like an intoxicating form of aromatherapy.

Geoff’s head titled back and his eyes fluttered. Julian knew what was going to happen, but before he could reach for him, Chris already had his arm around him. It was strange at first, seeing his lover, naked, with his arm
around another man, but Julian knew it was out of pure love. He let Chris calm Geoff down, and there was a physical peace that fell over him. Geoff was in control and truly meditating without fear, all because of Chris.

Julian filled with pride.

That’s my man.

For about an hour, midnight to one a.m., the boys meditated and cleansed their minds and spirits. They stood and dressed again, Julian bid farewell to the Goddess and her consort, and dismissed the energy the group had conjured. One by one, they blew the lanterns out.

“What about Jonathan?” Troy called, his lips quivering.

“We haven¹t forgotten,” Julian said. “I meditated on him the entire time. My thoughts have been with him the entire night. I beseeched the Goddess. We will try the scrying spell I¹ve taught us. Geoff, do you have some black ink
in the house?”
“Yep.” Geoff nodded.

“Cool. Can you get it? Chris, can you fill our bowl with some ocean water?”

“Sure.” Chris headed to the edge of the ocean with the bowl in hand.

Julian walked up to Troy and put his hand on his shoulder. “We’ll find out where he is. Or at least get a vision to help guide us.”

Troy said nothing; he simply nodded.

Chris returned with his bowl full of salt water and they waited for Geoff. A few moments later, he appeared with a small bottle of black ink. He handed it to Julian. Chris put the bowl down on the sand and Julian knelt down beside it, opened the inkbottle, and slowly dripped nine drops into the water. The group watched the ink swirl within the water, eventually turning it black. The moonlight reflected in it, wriggled as the water swirled.

Troy jumped down to begin the spell, but Julian halted him. “Let Chris do it. He needs the practice and you¹re too emotional right now. You won’t get a clear vision.”

Chris looked at Troy, some hesitation in his steps, but Troy got up and made room, his disappointment evident. Chris looked up at Julian, and their eyes met.

“It’s okay, Chris. Go ahead.”

Chris waved his hand over the bowl of black water. The surface rippled and images swirled. “Lady Habdonia,” Chris called with authority. “Give me your sight.”

The group watched over Chris¹s shoulder, and Troy stood as close to the bowl as he could. The water whirled in a circle, flashes of scenes flickering inside of it. Chris couldn’t make any sense of them. He put his hand over
the water again, attempting to direct it or steady the flashes, but they wouldn’t obey. Images of the beach winked, then vanished into the inky darkness, then pieces of the ocean, the daytime sky, the night sky, then the
moon against blood-red moon formed.

Chris gasped and the visions ceased. The water stopped swirling. “I¹m sorry,” Chris said. “I’m not getting anything. The sight is clouded. We need to wait and try again another time.”

“Another time?” Troy said, his voice cracking. “The love of my life is out there somewhere and we just wait for another time?”

“Troy,” Julian said. “We’ll try again. We won¹t stop, but you need to calm down. It’s been one night. Maybe he went to visit his parents.”

“He would have told me. He wouldn’t just take off and not tell me. Jonathan¹s not like that with me. I know you guys think he¹s flaky but something is wrong this time.”

‘We don¹t know that yet,” Julian replied.

“I know it!” Troy clenched his fist. Blue light glittered around his waist and floated up his arms.
Wind swept across the beach. Dark clouds appeared in the sky, engulfing the moon.

“Troy!” Julian called.

“Where is he?” Troy raised his fists into the air. Thunder cracked and the wind howled. ³Something is wrong with him and none of you will help me!”

Cold, biting wind lashed the beach, throwing up sand. Icy pain washed over Julian and he stumbled. Rain poured suddenly, beating the sand, soaking the guys. Troy raged, screaming into the storm.

The inky water exploded out of the bowl in front of Chris, startling him as the bowl flipped into the air, ripped away by the howling wind. Lightning streaked across the sky, igniting the dark clouds in blue-white light.

“Troy, calm down!” Julian cried, muted by the deafening storm. A cacophony of thunder and lightning assaulted the beach.

Geoff and Noah fought to reach Troy, struggling against the wind, but it kept pushing them back.

“Bring it down!” Julian called. “Bring it down! You¹re out of control!”

Troy heard nothing. He screamed with rage, letting the storm express everything he¹d been feeling for the last twenty-four hours. Julian spread his fingers, rain smacking him in the face, and called on his magic. His hands lit up with blue light, wind attempting to throw him off his feet, thunder bellowing in his ears, and pointed both of his hands at Troy.

A flash of blue energy struck Troy and threw him to the ground. The storm stopped suddenly, clouds parting, wind dying. Troy stretched himself across the sand and cried. Julian went to him, cradling him in his arms.

“I¹m sorry,” Troy whimpered.

“It¹s okay. Everything¹s going to be okay. I promise. He’s all right. I can feel it. Now get some rest.”
Noah joined them both and helped Troy to his feet. “I¹ll make sure he gets home okay. He¹s overtired.”

Julian nodded. “Thanks, Noah.”

Chris and Geoff surrounded Julian, and Julian¹s heart was pounding. The three of them hugged.

“Quite an esbat, huh?” Chris said.

“An understatement.” Julian smiled, kissed Chris, then tousled Geoff¹s hair.

“Let’s clean up and get some sleep. Our circle needs some healing.”

Chris leaned his head on Julian¹s chest as they walked back to gather their ritual tools.


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