Jaxx Steele here once again. This time I come with Reynaud’s Redemption. Cameron and Reynaud’s story came to me first as two books, each focusing on the title character. They had a home with a publishing house and did very well, but sadly the house went under and Cameron and Reynaud’s tale became homeless. BUT that was not the end of them. These characters spoke constantly, refusing to leave me in peace, screaming at me to revise their story. So I did. Time had passed so I reread their tale to get my notes in order and dived right in. During the rewrite I combined the two books and added to it. Once done I resubmitted and Totally Bound picked it up!
Reynaud’s Redemption is an urban fantasy filled with drama, fights, betrayal, love and a little hot sex. You will love the main characters and love to hate the villain.
Cameron Gamble was a simple man who ran away from an awkward life. He found a new city to start over in, a new job and the perfect best friend, Mel, a large chocolate lab. It wasn’t long before they were inseparable and Mel had a permanent place in Cameron’s heart. One night, as Cameron recovered from a nightmare, the bright light of the moon revealed Mel’s true nature. All was well in Cameron’s world from that day forth until his ex-lover showed up with the intention of bringing him home.
Reynaud had everything he ever wanted with Cam and yet something nagged at him. Now that his magic was back, he could not ignore the pull he felt to go ‘home’. He hoped going home would ease his weariness, but it was apparent that things had changed during his absence. Friends had lost their places and enemies had gained power. Will the final confrontation with his past destroy everything Reynaud had in his present preventing him from having a future with Cam?
Cameron looked up with a raised brow. "You think someone is looking for you? Wouldn't all your people be dead after all this time?"
"Not necessarily. Creolytes coexist with humans but because we were born with magic, we live longer. Our magic makes us stronger from the inside out. It enhances cellular regeneration, allowing us to age slower, helping us live almost twice as long as a human could. Most Creolytes move from sect to sect so regular people don't notice that they have not grown old after some time has passed."
"So it could be possible for someone to be reaching out to you?"
"Yes, very possible."
"Do— Do you think it may be Angele?"
Reynaud heard the apprehension in Cameron's voice as he pushed the question out. He hugged him reassuringly then lifted his chin to place a soft kiss on his lips.
"No, my love. Angele has been dead a very long time. Though our magic makes us more resilient, we share the same frailties as regular humans. We are very mortal and can die in the same ways as people with no magic abilities. Baptiste killed Angele. He is dead."
Cameron let out a breath, seemingly relieved. "Then who?" he asked after a moment.
Reynaud pondered a moment. "I think it may be Madam Cousteau."
"The council leader? The one who was like a mother to you?"
"Could she still be alive after all this time too? I mean, she was old even then, wasn't she?"
Reynaud shrugged. "I don't see why not. Barring any unforeseen disaster that may have ended her life prematurely, Madam Cousteau and the other leaders could be alive, albeit elderly. Though she and the others were my seniors of at least fifty years at the time my punishment, their magic was extremely strong. It would have preserved them."
Cameron gasped. Sadness filled Cam's gaze when he looked up at Reynaud.
"What is it?"
"Reynaud, New Orleans did have a disaster. It happened about ten years ago. A storm came through and destroyed the levies. Water devastated everything. Some parts of the city are still recovering, even now."
As the ramifications of Cameron's words sunk in, horror swelled within him and unanswered questions became clear. Cameron had taken him to different parts of the city since his powers returned to help re-familiarize himself with his surroundings as a man. It did not escape him that much had changed, but Reynaud didn't think too much of it.
More than one hundred years had gone by since his sentencing. He remembered the passage of time that transpired while he was in his dog form and how he felt when people either liked or hated him, but noticing changes in the landscape were beyond his dog-mind. Some of the anger and disappointment he felt toward his people still lingered when he was restored, but Cameron's love eased it away with time.
Now that he had his man-form, Reynaud expected his body to buzz as the magic inside him reacted to his surroundings, but that was not the case. The territory was once abundant in the herbs needed to perform many enchantments, but he saw very few during his tour. The plants were one of the reasons why the first Creoles chose New Orleans to settle in so long ago. They had not gone back to where he once lived yet because the café had become successful enough to occupy all of his free time, but Reynaud felt a desperate need within him to verify its existence.
"Cameron, you say there are places that have not yet recovered? Even after a decade has passed?"
Cameron nodded. "Unfortunately, yes."
"I must see if my old home is one of those places. Will you take me there tomorrow?"
Reynaud let out a breath and eased down the headboard onto his pillow, drawing Cameron with him. Fear of what he would find filled his thoughts. He made a conscious effort to quiet his mind, but already knew the troubled feelings would prevent him from sleeping soundly.
* * * *
After the morning meeting with the restaurant crew, Cameron announced that he and Reynaud would be gone for the day. Reynaud followed him quietly to the car, apprehensive but determined. He looked out the window, reminiscing and marveling on how things had indeed changed. A sense of melancholy settled upon him when Cameron turned down a familiar street and he saw its dilapidated form. Reynaud's magic sparked within him just a bit, recognizing the region. At the sensing, possibility raised its head but it was quickly doused. A pit formed in Reynaud's gut at the full sight of the area. The car pulled to a stop and they got out. Devastation spread as far as the eye could see. Despair clutched his heart and tears stung his eyes.
"What is this place called today?" he managed after a while.
"The locals call it the Ninth Ward. It took the greatest hit when the flood came," Cameron told him.
Reynaud nodded, looking out over where the site of Lieu de Rencontre, the once upon a time Creolyte council hall. He spent every day of his adult life there as a magical trainer. With so many magic users performing tasks of all kinds for countless years, the very walls of the dwelling hummed with power.
Their sect wasn't as large as a few of others in Louisiana. Many of their people were content to build their homes near the structure to remain near the energy that flowed from it. It allowed them to be a close-knit group.
Reynaud walked down the hill. Everything around him lay in ruin. The tiny twinges poking at his magic were miniscule compared to the full body throbbing the neighborhood's former glory used to instill. Suddenly his head snapped to look over his shoulder.
"What's wrong?" Cameron asked, coming to his side.
Reynaud hesitated, wondering himself. He walked along the overturned soil, stepping over tossed debris and not knowing exactly where he was going. Cameron followed in his footsteps, almost bumping into him when he stopped abruptly looking around again.
"There's something… familiar… Something," he paused a moment shaking his head. "Something pulls at me, Cameron. Its touch is very faint, like someone trying to tap you, but you're just out of their reach. It tugs at the magic that sits in my soul."
"Maybe you can follow it."
Reynaud turned. "Follow it?"
"Yes. Can't you do that if you focus on it? It could be like a lighthouse is to ships at night. I don't know how your magic stuff works, but…" he suggested with a shrug, leaving his sentence incomplete.
Reynaud thought a moment. There were so many things he could not yet do. He had been doing small tasks to strengthen his long inactive earth magic since it had returned to him. In the beginning, using his magic and concentrating was exhausting each time. He practiced by healing trees and the grounds in the general area, multiplying the growth of healing herbs he found in the places Cameron had taken him and enhancing Cameron's own vegetable gardens in their atrium. Those things were much easier for him than they were six months ago when he started.
Although uneasy, Reynaud closed his eyes and concentrated on the sensation. Heat vibrated inside him, consuming his senses and intensifying as he focused. Something pulsed just outside his consciousness, just as Cameron suggested. Fatigue brought him back. He wavered on his feet, but Cameron remained at his side.
"Rey, are you all right?"
He leaned forward, supporting most of his weight on his knees to catch his breath. "Yes. And yes, I can follow it."
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