It’s another Hump Day! And, boy do I got a treat for you. Today I am doing a Book Spotlight on The Beast Within by LaVerne Thompson. She was gracious enough to provide a sneak peek for your enjoyment. So, sit back and enjoy the read…if you love it why don’t you go buy a copy :).
“Where is she?” the woman wailed.
The man clasped her to his chest. His arms wrapped tightly around her, restraining her while tears streamed down his face.
She tugged at his muscular arms.
“She coming, Taabia, dey bringing her. Prepare yourself,” he warned.
The musk of his fear enveloped her. Taabia’s gaze snapped to his. “She dead?”
He hesitated then shook his head slightly.
Taabia understood what he did not say. Her daughter, her youngest child, was dying. “Let me see her, I want to see her.”
Normally at this hour, the quarters would be filled with the sounds of softly spoken conversations, even a few snores. Instead, it was as though the world stood silent vigil with Taabia and held its collective breath. A noise broke the stillness of the night and two men walked out from around the cabins.
By the light of the full moon, Taabia could see they carried a body between them.
The clothing hung off the young girl’s slender form in tatters, like it had been ripped from her. Her blood watered the dry ground with each step the men made with their burden.
Taabia’s nostrils flared, her will alone drove her fear inward, her screams were internal now. She didn’t wait for them to come to her. With the strength born of a mother needing to get to her child, she shoved away from the man restraining her and rushed to the others. She stopped the men carrying her child and gathered her into her arms. The man, her lover, the father of this girl who’d come to warn her, took the child’s legs, helping to carry some of the weight.
Taabia kissed her daughter’s bruised and bloodied face. She barely recognized her beloved features. Her tears mingling with the blood. “I got ya, I got ya,” Taabia crooned.
“Mama?” Her voice was weak and weary, sounding much like a small child, even though she’d seen fourteen summers.
“Yes, chil, I’s here.”
“I’m sorry, Mama, sorry. I shoulda listen.”
“Shh…none o’ dis your fault.”
They carried her back to the cabin and laid her on the threadbare cot in the corner. Everyone crowded in the doorway, wanting to help in any way they could.
Taabia shooed all the men out of the room. This was for the eyes of women only. Two of the women skilled in healing on the plantation came running when they’d heard about the attack. It would not be the first or the last of such an act. Even though they knew none were as skilled in Vodou or natural and unnatural arts as Taabia, a priestess of Damballah. One look at the child’s torn clothes and wounds, and they knew it was not enough.
Taabia cleansed her daughter’s body, but it had been damaged beyond even her repair. Sometimes when a soul is badly damaged, it no longer has the strength to live in the body. But it takes the body with it before it departs. This was her daughter. Taabia could see her life essence flickering and dimming where once it had been vibrant and full of enough light to brighten up a room. She shut her eyes from the painful world and never opened them again.
Her baby died in her arms that night. Instead of crying and wailing, Taabia made a blood vow. “They will pay,” she whispered, as she laid her daughter upon the funeral pyre and set the branches to flame. She stood silent watch, surrounded by her lover and the other slaves on the plantation, as the fire consumed her child’s body. She slit her palm open with a knife and dripped the blood within the flames. It sizzled as the fire consumed it. Gift given, gift received.
Taabia remained on the cot where her daughter died. She meditated for the rest of the night and the day, gathering her strength, calling upon the older gods of her motherland, the ones who hated man, the light and dark powers that be.
At midnight when the storm she’d called broke, and Jakuta the Lightning God and the others of storms ruled the skies, she left her hovel. Now the first sounds of thunder rumbled in the sky and the tears of the clouds began to fall. Taabia walked out into the night, making no effort to shield herself from the elements. In fact, she was calling them to her, their powers fueling hers. She embraced the night, letting the water soak deeply into her skin, accepting the blessings. At first, heavy clouds hid the full moon from sight, but still she called upon Arawa, Goddess of the Moon for vengeance. A sliver of its lunar light broke through, bathing her in its rays.
She stood in front of the manor house as she raised her arms and face to the sky. Lightning flashed above the house, the storm battered at her hair and clothing but she stood firm in her need. When she spoke, the wind amplified her words for all within the walls of the house to hear.
“I curse you, Clyde deNuit, and you brothers. I curse you and all you beget. Each generation one son be born. One son only. At the turn from child to man, he be ruled by the call of the full moon. You act like selfish beasts; then let you be beasts. On all fours shall you crawl the earth until the pull passes. Every cycle from moonrise to moonset, your beast will rule. Until the day you can control the beast and one of mine deem you selfish no more.”
Thunder rumbled overhead bearing her words to the heavens. The oldest of the deNuits stood at the window and watched the crazy slave woman. His brothers were passed out in their rooms down the hall, but the thunder had awoken him. He sneered at his slave daring to threaten him. He thought he’d have the overseer whip her for her bull in the morning. Meanwhile, he turned away to go back to bed with his wife, wishing he had that young slave girl again. He and his brothers had shared her between them a couple of nights ago. Thinking of the way she’d fought them made him hard all over again. Too bad she died. Well, there were more where she came from. He’d just closed his eyes when the house seemed to shake like it had been hit by lightning.
* * *
When the moon next traveled around the earth and sat in full illumination like the sun, the deNuit men dropped to all fours, growing fangs and fur, turning from men to beasts. The next morning when the sun sat high in the sky as the men woke up naked and in the fields covered in blood, they had reason to fear the witch woman’s words. But it was too late for them all. She’d taken her secrets to the grave where the overseer had put her—almost a month to the day after the master had her whipped to death.
The Beast Within
From moonrise to moonset, the beast will rule.
Caleb’s family had a secret. One they’d held for over 300 years. One he’d reveal to save one woman’s life. Because she was the other half of his soul, even though it was her kind who condemned him to be the beast he was.
Lissette knew her family had secrets. What family in New Orleans as old as hers didn’t have family legends, most she disregarded as nonsense. Until she came across something leaving her no choice but to believe. Especially, when it meant her life… or his.
Because of the subject matter and content must be 18+
This was previously part of the Creole Nights Anthology but has been updated.
LaVerne Thompson is a USA Today Bestselling, award winning, multi-published author, an avid reader and a writer of contemporary, fantasy, and sci/fi sensual romances. She loves creating worlds within and without our world. She also writes romantic suspense and new adult romance under the pen name Ursula Sinclair also a USA Today Bestselling Author.
She is a certified chocoholic and is currently working on several projects. Some might even involve chocolate. But writing helps maintain her sanity.
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