Seven Forbidden Arts
Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
Publisher: Satin Romance,
an imprint of Mélange Books
Date of Publication: 19 March 2015
Number of pages: 252
Word Count: 101 000
Cover Artist: Caroline Andrus
When you play with fire, you get burned.
At the same time as mysterious fires commence to rage through Clelia d’Ambois’ home village in Brittany, France, she starts sleepwalking. Daughter of a Japanese orphan, Clelia’s heritage is riddled with dark secrets that threaten anyone she loves. In a recurring nightmare she sees Josselin, the haunted man who abandoned their village nine years earlier, come for her, but she doesn’t know why. All she knows is that she has to run. As fast as she can.
Leader of a paranormal crime taskforce, Josselin de Arradon is called back to his hometown with a mission–find and kill the firestarter responsible for Larmor-Baden’s blazing destruction. Sensing that Clelia is the key to solving the crime, Josselin kidnaps her to use her as bait. The battle doesn’t turn out quite as he expected. Nothing could have prepared him for the truth, or the depth of his desire for his prisoner.
This is Book 1 of the Seven Forbidden Arts series, but also reads as a stand-alone.
This book contains adult content with explicit language and consummated love scenes. Suited for an audience of 18+.
Josselin had only spoken to her once. It was on a summer day after school. She had wandered to the dense forest at the back of the schoolyard because she knew that was where she would find him. She stood behind a tree and watched him–studied him–the movement of his hand as he smoked a forbidden cigarette, the manner in which he pulled his fingers through his dark hair, and the way he laughed loudly into his gang of friends, even if his eyes cried, or blazed.
That day, however, he wasn’t with his friends. He was with a girl. Her name was Thiphaine and she was the most popular girl in school. She was blonde and slim and beautiful with blue eyes and red painted fingernails. Clelia watched from her hiding place as Josselin slowly backed Thiphaine up until her body pressed against the trunk of the witch tree. It was a thuja occidentalis but the townsfolk had baptized it so because of its twisted and crippled branches. The setting was eerie for a romantic adventure, and yet, it suited Josselin. He seemed right at home, while Thiphaine looked around nervously. His hand went to her cheek, his palm huge and dark and rough against the porcelain paleness of Thiphaine’s face, while his other hand slipped under her blouse. His gray eyes looked like melted steel when he lowered his head.
His shoulder-length black hair fell forward when he pressed his lips to Thiphaine’s and he moved his hand from her cheek to brush it back behind his ear. Clelia remembered the deliberate movement of his jaw, the way the muscles dimpled in his cheek, the hand under Thiphaine’s blouse, all the while maintaining his composure while Thiphaine came undone under his caress. The beautiful girl made low moaning sounds. Her knees buckled, but Josselin, without breaking the kiss, grabbed her waist, pulling her so tightly into him that her back arched, keeping her up with his arm while he made her weak with his touch and his tongue.
Watching them ignited both yearning and pain inside of Clelia. The hurt she felt speared her heart. The aching in her soul was suddenly greater than the heat in her pores and on her cheeks, but she couldn’t tear her stare away from the forbidden sight. It was Iwig, a boy from her class, who broke the painful spell when he discovered her behind the tree.
“What have we here?” he said.
His eyes darted to the distance where Josselin and Thiphaine were embracing. He knew what she had been doing. He was a tall, blond boy with a strong build, and Clelia disliked him for his habit of hunting abandoned cats with his pellet gun.
“A peeping tom,” he said, taking a step toward her.
When she tried to back away, he grabbed her long braid and tugged it painfully, causing her to yelp.
“Not so fast, witch.” He grabbed her arm and hauled her so that she stumbled into him. “You like to watch, don’t you?” He grinned. “How about a taste of the real thing?”
She opened her mouth to scream, but he had already brought his down and kissed her so hard that his teeth split her lower lip. In reflex her free hand shot up, aiming for his cheek, and collided with its target. The force of the blow shot Iwig’s head back and froze him in his action, but only for a second, before Clelia saw his arm lift. Not able to free herself from his grip, she cowered instinctively, but instead of his fist coming down on her, another pair of arms grabbed Iwig by his shoulders and flung him to the ground.
When she looked up, she stared into the face of Josselin, and what she saw was frightening. His features were twisted into a terrifying expression, and before she could say anything, Josselin bent down and lifted Iwig by his jacket lapels. Iwig’s legs dangled, flapping like fish on soil, while his arms flayed in the air as if swatting flies. Josselin let go of one side of the jacket, his fist arching and hooking under Iwig’s chin, while at the same time unknotting his other hand from the fabric of the jacket. The impact sent Iwig flying through the air. When he hit the ground, she could hear the loud thump as the air was knocked from his lungs. Josselin moved forward, his arms away from his body, his fingers flexing, his shoulders pushed forward, until he stood wide-legged over the submissive body of Iwig. Iwig lifted his hands in front of his face, mumbling pleas for mercy.
“If you ever touch a girl in that way again, I’ll hang you from a tree under a pack of wild boars and watch them eat you from your feet up to your useless dick, until they rip your stomach open and your insides fall out and you beg me to die,” Josselin said.
He spoke very softly, but the woods had suddenly gone quiet. His voice all but echoed in the absence of the sound of birds and wind. From the corner of her eye, Clelia noticed Thiphaine who stood to the side, hugging herself.
“And if you ever lift your hand to a woman again, I’ll cut off your balls and make you eat them and then I’ll feed you to the boars. Do you understand?”
Iwig tried to scurry away on his elbows, but Josselin stepped on his jacket.
“I asked if you understand.”
“Yes. Yes,” Iwig said. He had started crying.
When Josselin lifted his boot, Iwig scrambled to his feet. He didn’t look at Clelia before he ran down the path in the direction of the school. Only then did Josselin turn to her. She shook from head to toe while Josselin studied her quietly. After a moment he walked to her, took her chin in his hand and tilted her head.
“You’re bleeding,” he said, trailing his thumb over her lower lip.
And then he did something that shocked her wildly. He brought his thumb to his lips, slowly, his gray eyes holding hers prisoner while he slipped his finger into his mouth and licked it clean, tasting her blood.
Clelia couldn’t move. She stood still, unable to speak or blink.
He took a white handkerchief from his coat pocket and wiped it over her mouth before pressing it into her hand.
“He won’t bother you again, but you’d better go home.”
She only nodded. He was much taller than her, so that she had to crane her neck to look up at him. He shifted and then his face was obscured by the shadows with the sun at his back. She remembered wondering if he had forgotten about Thiphaine, who still stood to one side, silently observing, her eyes wide. Clelia looked from Thiphaine to Josselin. When life finally returned to her legs and she started to hurry down the path, he said, “What’s your name, girl?”
She stopped. “Cle … Cle…” Her teeth chattered.
He frowned. “Take a deep breath. You’re in shock.”
She did as he instructed, and found her jaw relax slightly.
“That’s better. Now, tell me again.”
His lips twitched. “The witch?”
She flinched. That was what her classmates called her.
He didn’t show any kind of emotion. Only his smile became a little bit more pronounced. “How old are you?”
“Fourteen,” she said through parched lips.
“You’re too young to wander alone in the woods.”
When he said that, his voice became soft and dark again, like when he had spoken to Iwig, and without sparing either of the lovers another glance, Clelia sprinted home and curled into a ball on her bed with his bloody handkerchief in her hand.
Character Name: Clelia d’Ambois
Describe yourself what is your worst and best quality?
My grandfather, Erwan, always says that my best and worst qualities are being giving and soft natured. He thinks that sometimes, I am too kind, to my own detriment. I am an introvert, and prefer the company of the animals I rescue to that of people, but then again, I live in a village of 900 people where everyone knows everything about everyone and because of how my mother appeared in Larmor-Baden–a six-year old girl drifting alone in a boat–the townsfolk are wary of me. They say my mother was a witch because natural disasters occurred when she was around, and I inherited the unlucky nickname. I’ve never made any true friends.
What is the one thing you wish other people knew about you?
I’m not as frail as I look. I may be short and too slender, but I can be strong and courageous when needed.
What is your biggest secret something no one knows about?
That I accidently combusted objects when I was three years old. It hasn’t happened since, but I’m always scared that it will happen again. Especially now that the houses in our village are being burnt down, night after night, and the police can’t determine the cause of the fires. At the same time the fires started, I started sleepwalking. I’m petrified that one day I’ll wake up not in the woods, but somewhere in town, and then everyone will know my secret.
My past is riddled with secrets… who I am, who my mother was, where she came from… I don’t even know her real name. I’m tired of secrets, but the one I’ll protect with all my heart, is my secret love for Josselin de Araddon. In school, he always looked so haunted. I used to sneak around the forest to watch him with his friends, or with other girls. He can never knew how I stalked him. I’ll just die of embarrassment if he ever finds out. And now that he’s back in town, after all these years…
What are you most afraid of?
Of Josselin. As much as I fantasize about him, he scares me. He’s so dark and tortured and frightening tall and broad. And he has these silver, mercurial eyes. At times they are grey, like cold steel. They way they darken when he sometimes looks at me frightens me. Especially now that he’s invaded my nightmares, with the fires and my sleepwalking, I know he’s coming for me. I don’t only see it in my dreams; I can also feel it in my gut. What I don’t know, is why. I only know it’s better to run than to wait for my dream to become reality.
What do you want more than anything?
I want for the fires to stop so that I don’t have to go into hiding. I want for it all to go away so that Erwan doesn’t have to run because of me. I want my animals with me. It nearly killed me to leave them behind when I went running, especially my wolfdogs. And most of all, I want Josselin to want me as much as I want him. I want him to release me from this room where he imprisons me, and at the same time, I want him to chain me and keep me. I want him to be my first, even if he can’t be my forever.
What is your relationship status?
Everyone knows I’ve never even had a boyfriend. Embarrassing, really, if you consider I’m twenty-two. Well, there aren’t that many single men in our small village, and I’ve never travelled beyond the borders of Larmor or the islands. I don’t even have the luxury of claiming a holiday romance.
How would you describe your sense of fashion?
I’ve never really cared much for fashion, not that Erwan or I could afford to splash out on clothes. Erwan is a fisherman and I work at the Carnac tourist office, which means I mostly earn money during the summer seasons, when people flock to Carnac to see the mysterious Celtic standing stones. At home I’m taking care of my small zoo of rescued animals, our cottage, and Erwan’s meals, or I’m out on the boat, so I wear what’s comfortable and practical–mostly shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops, or fishing boots and a rain jacket when the sky pours down, as it often does in Brittany.
How much of a rebel are you?
I’m not much of a rebel. I’ve always tried to walk the straight and narrow. The real rebel is Josselin. He has always defied authority, rules and society to do exactly what he wants to do. Josselin doesn’t fit in any mold. He won’t be conditioned to live a social acceptable life, and maybe that’s why I–with my uneventful, boring life–admire him so.
What do you considered to be your greatest achievement?
The life of every single animal that has been saved has been an achievement.
What is your idea of happiness?
A life with Josselin in it. I’ll take his darkness, and his tainted past, I’ll take anything as long as he decides to stay, even if I know his orders are to kill me. I can’t help him. I’m inexplicably bound to him.
What is your current state of mind?
I’m terrified. Erwan just told me Josselin returned to our village with a woman. (Gosh, that hurts so much.) Her name is Maya and she’s asking questions about my mother. I’m sure now that they suspect me of the fires. Will they now try to kill me? Erwan has already gone into hiding and he’s told me to run. I’m so frightened. I’ve never felt lonelier.
What is your most treasured possession?
Josselin’s handkerchief, with my blood on it. One day, when I was following Josselin after school to spy on him, like I always used to do, he took Tiphaine to the woods and kissed her by the witch tree. It broke my heart, but I couldn’t look away from the forbidden sight. The way his jaw moved as he slanted his lips over hers, his hand under her blouse… it made me ache in a way I didn’t know of believed possible. And then Iwig discovered me where I hid behind a tree. I hated him because he used to hunt cats with his pellet gun. Iwig knew what I was doing. He laughed and accused me of being a peeping tom, which I was, and then he tried to kiss me. He split my lip with his teeth, and I slapped him. He was going to hit me, but before his fist came down on my face, Josselin had grabbed him and hurled him to the ground. The things he threatened Iwig with were terrifying. He spoke softly, but it echoed in the dark forest because everything, even the birds, had gone quiet. Josselin told Iwig if he ever touched a girl without her permission again, or lift a hand to a woman, he’d hang him from a tree under a pack of wild boars and let them eat him from his feet up. Iwig ran away, and I was shaking with the shock of the experience. Josselin then wiped away the blood from my lip with his handkerchief and pressed it into my hand. I ran home and curled into a ball on my bed, the handkerchief under my pillow. I have slept with it there ever since.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I am a fire sign, which means that I am giving. They say fire is the only element not from earth, that gives without the need to take. I don’t know about all of that. I only know that I can’t stand to see any human being or animal suffer. I want to make the world a better place. If I could, I’d take away all the hurt and pain.
What is it that you, most dislike?
Cruelty to others, especially to helpless animals.
Which living person do you, most despise?
Iwig, for his horrible habit of hunting cats with his pellet gun.
What is your greatest regret?
That I never knew my mother, who died giving birth to me. I can’t help but feel responsible for her death.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Compassion. Josselin has so much of it, if he’ll only allow himself to see the good that’s inside of him.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
A caring nature. My grandmother was like that. How I miss her!
Who is your favorite hero in fiction?
Heathcliff, in Wuthering Heights, maybe because his wildness and darkness and all-consuming obsession remind me of Josselin. Yes, I suppose I see Josselin in Heathcliff’s character, only with a lot more tenderness.
Which living person do you most admire?
My grandfather, Erwan. Not only did he adopt my mother when nobody else would come near her, but he loves me for who I am, despite my unnatural ability to combust objects. He taught me the real values of life, and that goodness prevails. He has provided for me and taken care of me for all of his life, always putting my grandmother and me first. I admire him for the solid, good person he is. I hope that one day, I will make him proud.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I just want to fit in. I would like to look like everyone else, like the Breton people, so that my physical appearance isn’t a constant reminder to everyone that I don’t belong here.
What is your motto?
Do to others what you want to be done to yourself.
Charmaine Pauls was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa. She obtained a degree in Communication at the University of Potchestroom, and followed a diverse career path in journalism, public relations, advertising, communications, photography, graphic design, and brand marketing. Her writing has always been an integral part of her professions.
After relocating to France with her French husband, she fulfilled her passion to write creatively full-time. Charmaine has published six novels since 2011, as well as several short stories and articles.
When she is not writing, she likes to travel, read, and rescue cats. Charmaine currently lives in Chile with her husband and children. Their household is a linguistic mélange of Afrikaans, English, French and Spanish.
Read more about Charmaine’s romance novels and psychological short stories
Follow on Facebook
Follow on Amazon
Follow on Goodreads
Follow on Twitter