Chapter 1 Full Moon Crystal Beach Bash
Dedicated to Euterpe, Muse of Movement, Giver of the Goods, Mistress of the Flute
Temple Mews was in no mood for the night’s entertainment, but the alternative had been even less enticing. Her boyfriend Gerald’s parents were in town, and he’d been trying to finagle a dinner to finally introduce her to them. Lately, it struck Temple that Gerald’s pillow talk had taken a domestic turn. His mind was on marriage. She could smell it. Dinner with the parents was a cosmic trigger that threatened to set that Rube Goldberg machine in motion. Temple had no intention of getting caught in the trap. She’d been avoiding proposals long enough to know how to spot them early and employ her time-tested French exit before any irreparable harm was done.
It’s not that she didn’t love Gerald. She did. But she had no desire to get married and start having children before she’d accomplished—something. She wasn’t sure what she wanted to accomplish. A promotion at her office would only mean more work with a fancier title and longer hours for the same amount of money. It wasn’t career-mindedness that drove her. It was a vague sense that life could be more if she gave it just a little longer.
Her friend Suzana had given her the out for this particular evening’s performance of Dodge the Parents: a hippie-dippy New Age gathering at Glass Rock Cove. Temple had seen it advertised in the local paper as the Full Moon Crystal Beach Bash. While it was exactly not her scene, it was slightly more her scene than dinner with Gerald’s parents. At least here she could drown her boredom in cheap wine.
Several bonfires lit the arc of the white beach, and the ink-black waves were scattered with moonbeams. Long wooden tables sagged under platters of fresh fruits, pastries, bottles of wine and enormous bowls of champagne punch. Gauzy, bohemian booths were set up for fortune tellers to instruct the attendees on which crystal would align their souls to the universe, and a few bangled and feathered shamans were crouching over smaller fires to conjure impossible past life readings that assured each woman she was Cleopatra in a bygone era. Small groups of women in sarongs and swimsuit coverups intermingled at the edges of the bonfires or malingered in the dark shadows at the cove’s perimeter—probably getting high—pointing up at the brooding ivory orb.
Temple had to admit it loomed larger than usual. She could make out shadows and contours she had never noticed before on its surface. It gave her a chill, a sense of foreboding, but then again, the evening was already off to a less than stellar start. She’d spilled bean dip on her muumuu within minutes of arriving, so she was down to her bikini.
She tried to appear confident and poised while explaining the science of tidal pull to a life coach from nearby Hanover, but the sense of her own nakedness made it hard for her to focus. She wondered if her gut was pooched out or if she was slouching or, in the event she wasn’t slouching, whether she might look vain when she stood upright with her tits on display. When the life coach had enough of the long-winded exposition, she made her excuses and left Temple to find someone with a more fanciful take on the night sky.
The women next to Temple were discussing the connection between Mercury’s retrograde and breakups. Temple heaved a sigh and frowned into the fire. Maybe she’d made the wrong call. These weren’t her people. She didn’t believe in astrology or psychic powers, and all this self-empowerment healing crap was just a way to keep women spinning their wheels. As if crystal magic would be sufficient in a cage match with the cosmos.
Better to accept reality as it is and make the best of it. There isn’t more. This is it.
“I may as well marry Gerald,” Temple said to no one. She kicked a clump of sand into the fire pit and listened to it crackle.
Nearby, several of the celebrants had formed a large circle and commenced to chanting and dancing in tandem. Temple wondered if they’d been rehearsing in the evenings after work. Their movements were perfectly synced. She pulled herself from her reverie to watch the hypnotic swaying of the women’s hips as they spiraled around the dark center of the circle. A drummer that Temple couldn’t see was pounding out a seductive rhythm, and the women who had been smoking in the shadows and the women who had been having their fortunes read and the women who had been picturing themselves in golden cobra headbands stopped what they were doing and began to migrate to the circle.
Temple flinched when she felt a cool hand on her back. She’d been joined by a tall woman with dark, glistening eyes and a halo of puffy, pale curls. Like Temple, she only wore a swimsuit, and it clung to her sleek curves as if it had been painted on.
The woman leaned down and whispered in Temple’s ear, “You don’t believe in all this hokum, do you?”
Temple laughed. “Of course not. I’m a scientist. I only came for the spread,” she said with a nod at the laden tables.
She didn’t mention the threat of engagement she may have sidestepped.
The woman smiled and drew a path down the ridge of Temple’s spine with one of her long, red fingernails. Temple’s nipples grew hard, and her heart paused its routine rhythms for what felt like several seconds.
“Do I know you?” she asked.
The woman certainly behaved like someone who knew Temple—and quite well, but she didn’t look familiar. Her eyes were too wide. Her lashes were too long. Her lips were too full. She looked like an oil painting of a beautiful woman as imagined by someone who had never personally seen a beautiful woman. Someone who had only ever heard stories of beautiful women. It was strange, Temple thought. She was undeniably attractive, but in a way that seemed to perpetually shift and defy description, like a portrait still in progress.
“No. I’m not from here. I only came to observe,” the woman said. Her cool hand made its way down to the dimples at the base of Temple’s back and rested there.
“Oh,” Temple said, not sure how to respond to either the strange choice of words or the presumptuous petting.
“Where I come from things are different,” the woman said.
She turned slightly, and when she did, her breast brushed against Temple. The invisible line drawn by her nipple caused the fine hairs on Temple’s arm to stand on end, and her skin tingled. She was struck by a desire to take the woman’s too full bottom lip between her teeth and taste the mauve flesh.
“Where I come from,” the woman whispered in her ear, “if you wanted to kiss me, for example, it wouldn’t be an embarrassing thought that you dismissed out of hand. You would kiss me.”
Temple blushed. Was she so transparent?
The woman pushed the long, dark hair away from Temple’s neck and began to survey its curve with her lips, tracing an electrical trail with the tip of her tongue. Temple melted when the woman sighed softly, her warm breath teasing and suggestive. At last, she pulled Temple’s mouth to her own and offered her too full bottom lip. It was ripe and moist and tasted like grapes still warm from the vine.
Temple was overcome with a greedy longing to devour the woman, to force her down on the sand and consume her in gluttonous mouthfuls. But there were people. Her cheeks burned, and she pulled back, attempting to regain her composure. She wasn’t sure what had possessed her.
But the woman wasn’t satisfied with a quick nibble. She wanted more from Temple.
“No one is watching, love,” she said, pulling Temple towards her so that she felt the whole supple length of the woman’s body pressed against her own. “We’re alone now.”
And strangely, it did feel as if they were alone. Temple could see the other women still engrossed in the dance—either as participants or as enraptured onlookers. But she seemed to be observing them through a shimmering veil. She felt the privacy of the woman’s embrace, the possessiveness of it. Temple moved from the woman’s mouth to the small hollow at the base of her throat, untying the strings that held her bikini up as she did. The top fell to the ground.
The woman’s breasts were full, and her plum dark nipples extended an invitation to Temple. She took one in her mouth, teasing it gently with her teeth, and the woman moaned. The sound of her desire was enough to make Temple ravenous. The pert little nipples were no longer sufficient to her hunger for the woman. Temple widened her lips to allow more of the warm skin to fill her mouth. Her tongue quivered against the soft flesh. It glided over the surface of the woman’s body like a hunter’s arrow.
Temple sank to her knees, and inhaled the aroma of the woman’s cunt. It was the scent of a cedar forest trailing its roots in the thick waters of a river delta. With a careless tug at the bikini, she removed the last barrier to the woman’s hidden wilds and gorged herself on the salty moisture that had accumulated there. Her tongue slid over the slick, swollen lips, and the woman shuddered and caught Temple’s hair in her hands, guiding her deeper into her fragrant mound. Her tongue pushed through the satin passage, exploring the shrouded center of the woman’s body. The woman responded with a spasm of pleasure and a dewy dampness that trickled down Temple’s chin.
The woman moaned, stimulating Temple’s appetite. She lapped at the moisture, wolfishly gorging herself on the tender flesh. The woman’s knees began to tremble, and she sank to the sand, lying back with her arms outstretched and her back slightly arched. She spread her legs wider, and Temple buried herself in the delta that opened up before her. Her pussy ached with anticipation, but it wasn’t her own orgasm she was eager for. It was the woman’s. She was writhing and groaning with every flick of Temple’s tongue, and her body seemed to vibrate as she neared her release. Wild with hunger, Temple sank her teeth into the tender flesh between the woman’s legs, and this demonstration of desire propelled the woman over the edge. Her body tensed for a moment and then shivered with a wave of satisfaction that tasted like the sea.
The tang of the woman’s orgasm elicited a sympathetic response in Temple. Her lips and tongue began to tingle, and the sensation spread, becoming a hot pulse in Temple’s nipples. It flowed downward in an electrical current towards her abdomen, and then crashed over her cunt in a string of explosions. A flash of bright light and a thunderous clatter stunned Temple’s senses.
She couldn’t see or hear anything except the sizzle of white heat for a moment, and then the sizzle exploded into a hundred unfamiliar sounds that assaulted her ears like a slipshod infantry. That’s not quite right. The sounds weren’t entirely unfamiliar: she recognized the squawking of birds and the howling of some annoyed mammal hidden in a leafy nest. The sounds were unfamiliar in the context of a Full Moon Crystal Beach Bash.
But that could be explained simply enough once Temple had finally recovered from her orgasm and adjusted her eyes. She was no longer on the beach; she was in a small clearing in a dense rain forest. What’s more the moon had been replaced by a dazzling midday sun partially hidden by the tall canopy of the trees. The woman was nowhere in sight.