Welcome to the Midsummer Night's Tea Party! You can find more participating blogs HERE.
Scent of the Roses, the first book in my Oberon series, is set at the summer solstice, so I couldn't resist posting an excerpt. In this scene my heroine, Scout, who is back home in Oberon, California following a twenty year absence, takes time out to enjoy the annual Midsummer festival. Enjoy!
Blurb: Twenty years ago. When a slumber-party prank goes awry, magical forces are unleashed that will permanently impact the lives of four teenaged girls. Exiled from Oberon when she was still a teen, Scout Patterson has been trying ever since to distance herself from the mistakes in her past. Now, she's finally coming home--to face the ghosts she has never laid to rest, and the love she thought she'd lost forever.
Memories of the girl he loved and lost have haunted Officer Nick Greco for years, along with his dreams of what his life would be like if she’d only return. When Scout’s homecoming is followed by a reoccurrence of deadly attacks, Nick must solve an all-but-forgotten crime or risk losing her again—this time for good.
Scout wandered through the deserted fairgrounds early next morning. The fog that had seeped into the valley the night before lay thick on the ground, giving the empty pavilions a dreamlike quality. People passed like ghosts through the pearl gray mist.
A solitary piper, half hidden in the shadows, played a haunting, mournful tune. Scout felt a melancholy longing steal through her. The wheel of the year was turning. The days would grow steadily shorter, now. Last night, the Oak had fallen; the Holly King’s reign was begun. She shivered, her heart filled with grief at the loss of the sun. Until a passing breeze brought the welcome fragrance of fresh coffee to her nose.
She breathed it in gratefully. The scent evoked those tropical climes where the days never grew short. That was what she needed. The hell with this other nonsense. She changed directions abruptly, moving away from the sorrowing pipe. What the heck had she been thinking? It was the height of summer. The sun was rising, even now, and would soon warm the earth and burn off the fog. It would be months before the nights were much longer than the days.
Besides, this was Coastal California, where winter meant, at worst, a few weeks of rain. She could handle that, couldn’t she? A little rain, a little mud, a little bit of wind, perhaps. No big deal. She’d have no problem with winter here.
“C’mon, dog.” She smiled at her companion. “Let’s go eat.”
The dining pavilion was mostly empty, only a few of last night’s diehards, and a handful of early risers had gathered for coffee or tea and a light breakfast. When Scout emerged from the line with her tray, she saw Celeste sitting alone at one of the tables. She hesitated for a moment, then headed in her direction.
“Mind if I join you?” she asked.
Celeste raised weary violet eyes to her face. “Oh. Hello, Scout. Please. Sit down.”
Scout sat, and the dog sat at her feet.
Celeste smiled as she bent to stroke the dog’s head. “And aren’t you a sweetheart?” she crooned, as she offered the dog a scrap of toast. “Have you had her long?”
“No.” Scout sipped her coffee. “And I’m not really sure I have her now, either.”
“Of course you do!” Celeste looked really shocked. “Anyone can tell just by looking that she’s your dog. What’s her name?”
“I’m afraid she doesn’t have one yet,” Scout replied, and was surprised when Celeste burst into a peal of silvery laughter.
“Oh, my. Sweetie, they all have names. You just haven’t discovered what it is yet. But, don’t worry. You will.” Celeste smiled down at the dog again. “Oh. I have something for you. I knew I was supposed to give it to someone. Obviously you’re the very one.”
She removed her satchel from the back of her chair and began rummaging through it. Finally emerging with a little brass medallion that she attached to the dog’s collar.
“It’s a protective amulet,” Celeste explained. “In ancient times actual blessing rituals were performed at these festivals, you know. People would bring their animals to be cleansed by being passed through the smoke from the bale fire. It’s still a powerful time of year for working protective magic. Especially for animals.”
“Mmm,” Scout murmured, neutrally. She found herself growing annoyed with all the magic mumbo-jumbo. “So how long have you been involved in this, uh, stuff? You know-- amulets and tea leaves and all that kind of thing?”
“Ohh, forever, really,” Celeste said, with an airy wave of one graceful hand. “I learned to read the tea leaves from my grandmother. And palms, as well. The cards, though.” She shook her head and gave Scout a small, rueful smile. “I’m still working on those. Would you like me to do a reading for you? I could use the practice.”
“Thank you, but no.” Scout spread fresh strawberry jam on a scone. “I’m not interested.”
Celeste’s eyes glittered. “You’re afraid. Now why is that?”
“I’m not afraid! I just don’t believe in that stuff.”
“Well that’s what's so nice about it, isn’t it? It doesn’t require Faith. It works whether you believe in it or not.” Celeste dipped into her satchel again and removed a small red velvet bag, from which she slid a deck of cards.
“Really, I’m not—” Scout began, but Celeste laid a hand on her arm.
“Please. Humor me.” She smiled at her. “Pick one card. Where’s the harm in that?”
Reluctantly, Scout turned her attention to the fanned deck. Her hand hovered irresolute, and then settled on one card. She drew it from the deck and laid it on the table.
“See? That wasn’t so hard, now was it?” Celeste teased. “Let’s see . . . ahhh. The Lovers. Well, that’s always nice isn’t it? Of course, it is reversed, which suggests some sort of difficulty. Let’s see if we can’t find out what the problem is. One more.”
With a sigh, Scout picked another card at random and slapped it down.
Celeste nodded. “Uh-huh. See now? The Knight of Wands. Someone fiery and impulsive and I’d say, tending to be rather single minded in his pursuit of you.” She cocked her head at Scout and smiled. “Sound like someone you know?”
A shadowy figure loomed over Celeste’s shoulder. “Scout? Can I talk to you?”
Scout frowned up into Glenn’s face. It was gray and pinched. Probably from partaking in last evening’s debauchery she supposed.
“Hello, Glenn,” she said, striving to keep her voice neutral.
Celeste gave a quiet cough and, when she had caught Scout’s eye, tapped gently, but meaningfully, at the card Scout had picked out.
No, Scout mouthed, with an almost imperceptible shake of her head. “Celeste, this is an old friend of mine, Glenn. Glenn, Celeste.”
As the others shook hands and mumbled polite greetings, Scout sank back into her chair and thought about how much she hated Oberon. She hated the mystery and the magic. Hated that she could pick a card called The Lovers out of a deck of cards, and, a moment later, have Glenn materialize in front of her. Jesus. What is up with this card shit? Belatedly she realized that Glenn was addressing her.
“I said, what are you doing here? I thought you were going to stay home last night?” he repeated angrily. “I thought we’d agreed it would be a good idea for you to be careful while you’re in town.”
“I was careful,” Scout snapped at him. “And anyway, we didn’t decide any such thing. Like I already told you, Glenn, much as I’d love to believe that Caroline had only my best interests at heart, I really doubt that was the case.”
“So you’re still determined to go through with this ridiculous plan of yours?”
Ridiculous plan? “You mean, am I still going to keep looking for Lisa? Of course I am. Absolutely. But, what do you think? This being Oberon, and all, maybe I should start by getting a reading done on the subject? Maybe see what the cards have to say?”
“Uh, yeah,” he answered, his eyes sliding away from her face. “You’ll let me know beforehand though, right? Before you do anything foolish.”
Foolish? A little late to start worrying about that.
Scent of the Roses can be purchased on its own, or as part of the Welcome to Oberon boxed set.
Contemporary romance meets magic realism in this engaging series by PG Forte. This first set, Welcome to Oberon, contains three full-length novels. While each book can be read on its own, you'll want to return to Oberon again and again to visit with the friends you've met there.
This set contains three full length novels, Scent of the Roses, A Sight to Dream Of and Sound of a Voice That is Still, and is available at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble , All Romance eBooks, Smashwords, and SynergEbooks.
To learn more about the series, visit the website: http://www.oberoncalifornia.us/
To read another summer solstice excerpt from The Oak King visit my other blog:
PG Forte inhabits a world only slightly less strange than the ones she creates. Filled with serendipity, coincidence, love at first sight and dreams come true.
She wrote her first serialized story when she was still in her teens. The sexy, ongoing adventure tales were very popular at her oh-so-proper, all girls, Catholic High School, where they helped to liven up otherwise dull classes...even if her teachers didn't always think so.
Originally a Jersey girl, PG now resides with her family on the extreme left coast where she writes contemporary and paranormal romance in a variety of sub-genres.
PG can be reached directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org