The Witchin' Canoe
Though his mother named him after a priest, there's nothing saintly about McGauran O'Dowd. He needs to escape the slums before he's forced into marrying his friend’s sister and revealing the sin he's managed to hide so far.
When McGauran gets hired as a logger by ruthless business man Gédéon Latendresse, people warn him --the Latendresse family is cursed. Twenty years ago, Gédéon rode the witchin' canoe from the camps to the city to stop his brother's wedding. But that night, Gédéon broke one of the Chasse Galerie rules, and now the Devil's come for his due.
And that due, McGauran soon finds out, is Gédéon's sheltered young nephew Honoré, the most enchanting man McGauran’s ever met. The lover he's been praying for.
Cursed, Honoré is slipping into madness and threatened to be interned. When the winter comes, McGauran is stuck at the shanties, helpless to save Honoré from his tragic fate. He’ll do anything to save the man he loves, even bargain with the Devil himself.
“Go on…” McGauran briefly presses his hand.
The touch nearly unravels Honoré. “I get nervous,” he sputters. “Nauseous. I can’t concentrate. I’m weak. Unlike you.”
“Hm, you’d be surprised what a man is capable of doing when he has no choice.” McGauran frowns. “Don’t you have any friends then?”
“Not exactly. Well, I do have Fredeline and Bernard.”
“Fredeline?” There’s a trace of suspicion or jealousy in McGauran’s face. “Who’s she?”
“She’s our cook, well, governess, I suppose.”
“Oh.” McGauran smiles. Then he frowns again. “Wait. that’s not right, Honoré. Not right at all. You have no one else to—”
McGauran hesitates. “You’d want that?”
“Yes,” he breathes.
“But what would people think of you spending time with a jobber like me?”
“I don’t know. But what would they think of you spending time with a dandy little poet like me?”
“Hey, no,” McGauran says with a stern expression. “Don’t call yourself that.” Then staring down, he takes Honoré’s hand inside his, enclosing it with strong fingers.
McGauran’s palm is calloused and feels rough, yet fantastic on Honoré’s skin, and for a moment, Honoré thinks he’ll defy the laws of man and God and seduce McGauran. But how can he? He’s not quite sure how. He’s never shared intimacy with anyone before. He stares at his hand inside McGauran’s fingers, the blood racing through his veins. “You have powerful hands,” he sputters, not knowing what to say, how to act.
“Your hands are perfect.” McGauran won’t look up at him. He too, stares at their joined fingers. His voice is thick. “Powerful, too, I guess. Because they make music.”
He tries to swallow. To draw air.
McGauran gently skims his thumb along his index finger. “I bet you never got these hands dirty in your life.”
“I do so. All the time, in the garden.” His body is vibrating like the chords under the hood of his piano. When he looks up, he finds McGauran staring at his face with such vivid, yearning eyes, it sets his heart racing yet a little faster. “My nails get black.” But he doesn’t know what he’s saying anymore.
“Oh, Lord, help me.” McGauran leans in closer to him, his breath warming Honoré’s ear. “I can’t resist you. I just can’t.” He inhales sharply. “And why do you smell so good?”
“It’s a perfume,” he hears himself answer against the sound of his own pounding heart. “From Paris. Fougère Royale.”
McGauran presses his nose to his high collar. “Honoré, I’m gonna lose control…”
“Yes, please.” Feeling faint, Honoré leans his head back, offering McGauran his neck. Damnation. Hell. He doesn’t care.
“Monsieur Latendresse,” Maggie calls out from the open door. “Should I bring tea?”
McGauran quickly releases his hand and leans back. Annoyed, Honoré gives Maggie a sharp look over the divan's back. “I asked not to be disturbed, Maggie.” His voice is not quite right.
But she’s saved them.
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About the author:
Mel Bossa is a Lambda Literary Award finalist and author of numerous MM romance novels. She lives in Montreal's gay village where she finds a lot of inspiration for her characters...
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