Since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated by the warning “Be careful what you wish for.” I’ve seen it emulated in any number of pop culture arenas. “The Wish” and all vengeance demon episodes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Goosebumps book Be Careful What You Wish For. Disney’s Aladdin. The Wishmaster horror series. The musical Into the Woods. It’s a Wonderful Life. At every turn, we’re warned that what we want might not turn out how we expect.
But does that ever stop us from wishing? Wishing ourselves into trouble? Wishing our lives away? What would any of us do if we walked into the circus Arcanium and passed by the fortune teller’s tent? Would any of us know to curb our tongues and withhold the wish that the promise of our fortunes inspire?
The Arcanium series is built both on the embodiment and folly of our desires, run by a wish-granting jinni and sexually fueled by an incubus and succubus—fantasy and horror all wrapped into one neat, steampunkish little package. The jinni in question, Bell Madoc, is of varying importance in each novel. (Naturally, since Fortune is about him and Maya, he’s a main character in that story.) But throughout the series, it’s his granting of the wishes, for good or ill, that connects every human soul bound to Arcanium—as well as the demons, although for different reasons. Bell is their arbitrary god, their chaotic devil, determining their fate according to his will and whim and whether he happens to like you or whether you happen to express a wish he likes or can use.
Oh, he has rules, rules that he set down for himself. Three wishes only. It’s tradition. No wishes for more wishes. He must work within the framework of the wish, but he doesn’t need to follow its intention (although he can). He can also twist that wish however he wants, as long as it follows some kind of logic that he understands, and he can make the wish last as long as he likes. Months. Years. Decades. Centuries. If that is his will.
Bell’s a big believer in chaos. In justice. In consequences. It’s a good thing he considers himself jinn rather than pure demon, or else he’d really create a hell on earth.
Instead, Arcanium is what its tortured souls makes of it, how they decide to live with the changes wrought in their lives by a poorly timed wish. Perhaps you’d end up stuck into skin-contact with your best friends (Aerial, Book 3). Perhaps you’d end up bound to serve the jinni in acts of self-abasement and self-effacement (Fortune, Book 1). Perhaps you’d just use up a wish and leave yourself one wish fewer with which to wish oneself back out of Arcanium again (Carousel, Book 2). Perhaps you’d use up your wishes before you realize what you should have wished for when you had the chance (Ringmaster, Book 4). Or perhaps you’ll just catch Bell in a really, really bad mood (pick one, really).
All said, Bell is just one all-powerful jinni in one circus. He doesn’t venture out much. Why would he when he has such fun humans and demons to play with in Arcanium?
But take care that you don’t mention an idle wish at just the wrong moment in front of the wrong person.
Not every jinni is as merciful as Bell.
Welcome to purgatory. Welcome to this strange, wonderful prison. Welcome to Arcanium.
After her jealous boyfriend makes an angry, careless wish, Maya DeLuca finds herself trapped in a traveling demonic circus and at the mercy of a devious jinni, Bell Madoc. She joins the other lost souls of Arcanium who suffer in perpetual purgatory under the weight of their wishes, all making the best of a cursed situation.
But Maya’s not even cursed because of her own wish, which means she still has three for Bell to grant.
He may be fond of her—the passion they share is as hellfire hot as it is wrong—but that doesn’t mean she’s safe from his endlessly inventive, wicked imagination. He might twist her wishes at his whim for his own pleasure. Or he might just give her what she wants…which could be even worse.
“Think of all the time you’ve wasted,” he murmured, removing his fingers from her and stroking her thighs with those strong hands, smearing the wetness over her skin, “resisting those unspoken wishes from our first meeting in my tent. Hating me because of what your boyfriend wanted for you. Fearing the one who wished only to give you pleasure that you have never known.”
“I’ve known pleasure before, you egotistical jackass,” Maya said, although the way her eyes were hooded with satiation probably undercut any venom.
“I didn’t say you’ve never known pleasure. I said that the pleasure we can give you isn’t like any you’ve ever known,” Bell said.
Clear proof that lust negatively affects syntax. Not that her own thoughts at the moment could be lauded for their clarity. Especially as he slowly crawled over her, the weight of his erection beneath his trousers brushing against her stomach.
“Go ahead, Maya, look me in the eye and tell me that you have known pleasure like this.”
“It’s the incubus’ spell,” Maya said. “It’s not you.”
He plumped her breasts in his hands and took her nipple into his mouth. The scrape of his teeth coaxed it hard.
She saw stars behind her eyelids when he swirled his heated tongue over the firm bud of flesh. He bit sharply, although not particularly hard, and she jumped, crying out. Blood swelled and flushed her nipple dark from the bite. Then he licked over her breast with the flat of his tongue, catching the nipple firmly and bending it until he could hold it no longer and her breast settled back into place, the nipple now aching and needy.
He proceeded to do the same thing with her other nipple as he pinched, stroked and twisted the one he had just finished tormenting.
A line of saliva dripped from his lips, breaking from her breast as he rose up to his hands and knees over her again. He wiped his smug mouth deliberately, daring her.
“Say it again,” Bell purred. “And this time, make me believe you.”
“It’s not you,” she said, circling his small nipples with her thumbs as she stroked his chest. She had no idea how he could walk around the circus without getting accosted by women and men wanting to touch his bare upper body.
“You do realize lying to a psychic is a fool’s errand, right?” Bell asked. He bit his lip and grunted when she pinched his nipples, much harder than he had hers, but the bulge in his trousers didn’t lessen.
“It’s not you,” she repeated, as though saying it over and over again would make it true.
Like the sound of Fortune? Buy it here.
Aurelia T. Evans is an up-and-coming erotica author with a penchant for horror and the supernatural.
She’s the twisted mind behind the were/shifter Sanctuary trilogy, demonic circus series Arcanium, and spiritual gothic urban fantasy series Meridian (publication TBD). She’s also had short stories featured in various erotic anthologies.
Aurelia presently lives in Dallas, Texas (although she doesn’t ride horses or wear hats). She loves cats and enjoys baking as much as she dislikes cooking. She’s a walker, not a runner, and she writes outside as often as possible.
Arcanium series page: https://aureliatevans.wordpress.com/arcanium-series/