Magus Malefica – The Coven Series Book 1
by J.P. Jackson
Genre: M/M Paranormal Romance, Dark Urban Fantasy
Devid Khandelwal desperately wants to experience the supernatural. After years of studying everything from crystals to tarot to spellcasting, nothing has happened that would tell him the Shadow Realm is real. And that kills Dev. As a last-ditch resort, he purchases a summoning board, an occult tool that will grant him his ultimate desires.
Cameron Habersham is Dev’s best friend. Cam loves Dev like a brother and will do anything for him, as long as he looks good doing it. So when Dev asks him to perform the summoning board’s ritual, he reluctantly agrees, but he knows nothing will come of it. Nothing ever does.
However, within a day, Dev and Cam’s lives are turned upside down as wishes begin to come true. They discover the existence of a supernatural world beyond their imagination, but peace between the species is tenuous at best.
Dev finally gets to see the Shadow Realm, meets the man of his dreams, and is inducted into the local male coven. But for all the desires that were summoned into existence, Dev soon realizes the magical community dances the line between good and evil, and Cam ends up on the wrong side of everything.
The old adage is true: Be careful what you wish for.
“Honestly, I don’t get what you see in all this stuff.” Cam waved his hand through the air, a flippant gesture meant to dismiss Dev’s impressive occult collection.
Of course, Cam was referring to the contents of Dev’s room. The occult was Dev’s jam. Crystals, runes, tarot decks—you name it, Dev had it. The occult. He had read, studied, and practiced everything from card readings to spirit summoning. But despite his keen interest, admirable level of knowledge, and dedicated study, Dev hadn’t had a single otherworldly encounter or brush with psychic phenomenon.
That killed Dev.
“Shush. You be nice. Otherwise my demons will get you.” Dev chuckled, knowing full well Cam’s interest level focused more on his latest pair of shoes. Dev made a mental note to check for holes in the floorboards.
Dev, on the other hand, would have done anything to be a witch, sorcerer, or seer of the hidden. A pastime his Indian-born mother did not appreciate.
“Devid, why? This is all bad. You need to find a nice girl, get married, have children. I want to be a grandmother.” Dev pictured his mother’s face as her lips mouthed words. He would sit in a state of catatonia while she spouted off such sentiments. Like this morning, at breakfast.
Cam snapped Dev out of his mental wanderings. “Dev, the moment you actually manage to harness a demon and have it do your bidding, I’ll concede to wearing discount clothing.” Cam cocked an eyebrow at Dev, who met his gaze. They both smirked. In no world, anywhere, would Cam ever resort to wearing anything so common.
This was the nature of their relationship. Cam was eternally bitchy, and Dev was perpetually spooky. The dynamic was weird, but the friendship worked for them.
“Come on,” Dev said, pulling Cam’s attention to the task at hand. “Do this with me.”
“What? Bitch, no.”
“Why not? What the hell have you got to lose?”
“Just, you know, for some crazy-ass reason you manage to pull off some kind of beast wrangling, I don’t want to be dragged into the depths of the pit by some shrieking harpy demon. Especially in this outfit. I’m not ready to go to hell looking like this.”
“That’s not a thing, Cam.” Dev shook his head at Cam with a ‘god, you don’t know anything!’ kind of look.
“How the hell would you know?”
“I know. Now get down here.”
“Ugh, all right fine. It’s not like any of this has ever worked before.” Cam slid off the bed and sat opposite Dev on the floor, cross-legged. “What exactly is this thing?”
“A summoning board.”
“Yeah, you’ve said that. What is it, though? Like, what’s it supposed to do?” Cam asked, “And what are all those squiggly things?” Cam pointed toward the script patterning the outside of the board, his finger getting far too close to the board for Dev’s comfort.
“Shh. It’s nothing.” Dev slapped his hand away. “It’s only there to make the board look all gothic and shit.”
“Mmmhmm. K. So…what am I supposed to do? Run around the thing three times and chant ‘Bloody Mary’?” Cam asked.
“Oh my god, you’re such an idiot. It’s for summoning your greatest desires,” Dev instructed.
“Really? So, like, a big monster boyfriend?” Cam winked, cupped his own crotch, gave the bulge a couple of squeezes.
“I just…I can’t with you right now. Is that all you think about?”
“Nope. Bastard better be good-looking too. And rich. It takes money to keep me looking this good.” Cam ran his hands over his designer-clad torso and overpriced jeans.
“I swear to god, I don’t know why I bother with you.”
“Because you love me.”
“Sadly, yes. I do. Why? I have no idea.” Dev got up and rummaged around his room.
“Okay, so what the hell are you doing now?”
“We need things.”
“This is getting complicated.”
Dev rushed around his room, gathering the trinkets they needed to do their first summons. And as fast as a desperate person would sell their soul to the devil, he returned, handing Cam a marker and three post-it notes.
“Write down three wishes.”
“Damn, are we summoning a genie?”
“It’s called a Djinn, and no, we are not…at least, I don’t think. Why do you make everything a challenge? Write something down.” Dev prodded Cam with the end of his marker.
“Good lord, all right. Fine.”
Cam got busy scratching stuff down.
Dev on the other hand had already planned exactly what he was going to wish for.
This was it.
The last straw.
The last time any of this hocus pocus would be attempted.
Dev had promised himself if this didn’t work, he would give all of it up, for good. Dev believed in magic. He would have staked his soul on a bargain with the devil.
So, this was it. And with all the heart-wrenching, utter loneliness and consuming desire for the Shadow Realm to be real, he wrote down his three wishes:
I want to have a supernatural power.
I want to see the Shadow Realm and be part of it.
I want my friends and family to respect me for my knowledge of the occult.
Dev folded the tiny notes in half and tossed them into the copper cauldron he had placed in the center of the board. The instructions on the back of the box were specific. All wishes were to be written on paper, personalized with blood, and placed into the inner ring. Finally, the paper had to be burnt in order to release the energy.
Cam gave Dev his pieces of paper.
“No! Not like that, geez.” Dev tossed them back at Cam.
Cam threw his hands up in the air. “What the hell?”
“Fold them in half like I did and put them in the copper bowl.”
“Fine.” Cam did as instructed. “There, happy?”
“Not quite. Give me your hand.”
“For the love of…” Dev grabbed Cam’s hand and deftly managed to stab a finger with a thumbtack.
“What the ever-loving fuck, dude?” Cam ripped his hand away and grabbed his finger. A small pinprick of blood welled up to the skin’s surface. He brought the finger up to his mouth.
“Don’t you dare!” Dev pointed at Cam.
Cam stopped and glared at Dev.
“Squeeze your finger so the blood drips onto your papers, but get it in the bowl, don’t get blood on my floor.” Dev pricked his own finger and held his digit over the bowl.
Three drops of blood fell into the copper cauldron. Followed thereafter by three of Cam’s.
Dev lit a match and pitched the flaming splinter into the bowl, pushing the post-it notes around so they caught fire.
“Go open the window,” Dev instructed Cam.
“Your mother will kill you if you burn the house down.”
“Okay, now come read this with me.” Dev gestured for Cam to sit beside him.
“I swear if anything happens…” Cam warned while he rearranged himself next to Dev, inspecting his finger and sucking at the miniscule wound.
“It will. I know it will.”
“You always say that.” Cam rolled his eyes and sighed with exasperation.
“Come on, read this.”
And together, they read the incantation off of the instruction sheet that came with the board.
“With passion of heart, I seek to find, those Desires I want. Wishes to be mine.”
“That’s it?” Cam’s head tilted to one side in disbelief.
“That’s it.” Dev shrugged.
They waited for a few heartbeats. Loud ones that thudded against the inside of Dev’s chest.
“Okay, I’m bored now. And my finger hurts. You owe me a macchiato.” Cam grabbed his designer boots and slid them on. “You coming?”
Dev gazed into the cauldron as the last of the papers charred and blackened and tiny wisps of smoke curled up toward him and dissipated.
Nothing had happened.
“Come on,” Dev flinched as Cam threw an arm around his shoulder and squeezed him in a one armed bro hug. “I’ll buy.”
“Yeah, all right.”
As the two left the room, Dev eased the door closed using both hands on the doorknob while silently praying to any god or being who happened to be listening.
“Please hear me,” he whispered.
Inside the empty room, behind the closed door, the summoning board’s squiggly writing around the outside edges that was ‘only there to make the board look all gothic and shit’ shifted. As if the doodles and lines were dancing or marching.
The entire border rotated, widdershins, and the inner ring of the board spun in the opposite directions, changing the symbols.
The wind blew in through the open window and the curtain fluttered in the breeze.
What are you passionate about these days?
I honestly think my writing. Although I tend to be rather cyclical about my immediate past times. For months it will be writing, then I’ll swing back and focus in on my plants, and then it will change to gaming (I love my PS4), then I’ll read and consume books at a crazy rate, and then I’ll knit a few sweaters…I’m never bored.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Any of my hobbies. I find when I get lost in my plants, or in words, or in the realm of a game, or a good book, I tend to forget about everything else. And over the past year, that’s been good. So much negativity and difficult times with the pandemic, I’ve definitely taken more Self-Care moments than I usually do.
Oh, I forgot, wine and hot baths. Both are fabulous. I like a nice, easy-to-drink red, in case anyone was wondering – and dark chocolate. Oh yes, sweets. I LOVE sweets. I have an unquenchable appetite for sweet things.
How to find time to write as a parent?
Not a parent anymore! Our son is now 34, going on 35. We are done! Now, as a doggy dad? The Chihuahuas like to help out with the demon summoning.
But seriously, finding time to sit down and write can often be a challenge. And I’m not a writer who NEEDS to write every day. I like to write when the mood takes me. So, I might sit down for a few hours two to three times a week. That makes it hard to pump out novels like some of my author colleagues. But I assure you, I’m always writing something.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Sexy bear hugz from dark demons.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still don’t. LOL.
I’m always blown away when people like my stories. I really write them for me. These are tales I find fun and exciting, and to think there are others out there who have the same warped twisted sense of imagination always warms me (and terrifies me a little. Y’all are some sick folk).
I know authors who write and put out books for a living and that always amazes me. First, because it’s a hard thing to do. And secondly, because writing is difficult. I’ve struggled with a sentence for days until I finally find the right wording, or the fix for a plot hole, or the ending to a scene. And some authors can push right through that and create master works in a few months. That just amazes me. I call those people writers. So…<cringe> I just don’t see myself in the same category, although all my friends would tell my otherwise.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I do – and for all my creepiness and love all things dark, you won’t believe this.
It’s The Sound of Music.
I can watch that movie anytime, sing along with it, and it always makes me feel good.
Now putting on past episodes of Supernatural also makes me feel all warm and cozy too, so…<shrug>?
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I would love to see Magic or Die made into a movie. A few of my readers have said the same thing. It’s so visual – and I want to see how the special effects would turn my magical worlds into a reality. Annabelle’s demons, Isaiah’s teleportation, Ning’s control of ice as an element…I think it would be cinematically beautiful, somewhat terrifying, and altogether a spectacle if done right.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’ve inadvertently been to Hemmingway’s House in Key West – but that was a LONG time ago, and well before I became an author. Once we’re all vaccinated, I’d love to go to Saints and Sinners writer’s convention in New Orleans. That’s one of my favorite cities in the whole world. And I think I’d like to participate in some of the book conventions, or maybe even go on a writer’s retreat. Maybe. One day.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Oh, my bears. I have bears all around me. I love bears. BUT, I also love anything that’s dark and creepy. I have a small collection of voodoo dolls, gargoyles, and dragons that adorn my writing desk.
J.P. Jackson is an award-winning author of dark urban fantasy, paranormal, and even paranormal romance stories, but regardless of the genre, they always feature LGBTQ main characters.
J.P. works as an IT analyst in health care during the day, where if cornered he’d confess to casting spells to ensure clinicians actually use the electronic medical charting system he configures and implements.
At night, the writing happens, where demons, witches and shapeshifters congregate around the kitchen table and general chaos ensues. His husband of 22 years has very firmly put his foot down on any further wraith summonings and regularly lines the doorway with iron shavings and salt crystals. Imps are most definitely not house-trainable. Ghosts appear at the most inopportune times, and the Fae are known for regular visits where a glass of wine is exchanged for a good ole story or two. Although the husband doesn’t know it, Canela and Jalisco, the two Chihuahuas, are in cahoots with the spell casting.
J.P.’s other hobbies include hybridizing African Violets (thanks to grandma), extensive traveling and believe it or not, knitting.
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