Secrets of Salem: Equinox

Jace Payne

After staring death in the face, Victor Blair takes the advice of his nurses and takes a vacation. It’s not only to help him heal, but to keep his mind off the trauma he’s endured. He travels to Salem, MA. A place he's sure wi...
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Full Description

After staring death in the face, Victor Blair takes the advice of his nurses and takes a vacation. It’s not only to help him heal, but to keep his mind off the trauma he’s endured. He travels to Salem, MA. A place he's sure will calm his nerves.

Once he arrives in the seaside town Victor finds himself attracted to Rayne, a magical stranger with an opinionated pet barn owl, named Elvira. Though they hunger to see more of each other, it leads to conflict. Rayne’s parents aren’t too keen on interspecies mingling between mortals and witches.

Their rapidly building attraction raises the spectre of what will happen once Victor’s vacation is over. His time in Salem was never meant to be permanent. Does he go home and risk losing a great man, or does he throw caution to the wind and uproot himself, moving to a new town to be with someone that he’s only known for a few weeks?

  • Note:
    Equinox (Secrets of Salem Book 1)
Excerpt
A bunch of my friends were heading to Cancun. I’d gone with them last year, but the spring break capital wasn’t quite what Nurse Jon had in mind. My panic disorder was a new thing for me to deal with, and I hadn’t fully learned how to keep it under control. I was better off avoiding the disorderly college crowd that would be swarming the beaches and staggering out of the bars, drunk off their asses.

Salem was closer, much more sedate, and it agreed with my modest budget. Fortunately, my dad had tucked an envelope filled with cash into my luggage when I wasn’t looking. I’d discovered it after boarding the train at South Station in downtown Boston.

I pulled a twenty from the money he gave me and approached a cab waiting for a passenger. Opening the door, I tossed my bag onto the seat and climbed inside. “Hawthorne Hotel, please,” I requested.

The haunted establishment was my favorite place to stay, but I hadn’t been fortunate enough to witness any supernatural activity. I always heard people whisper in passing that they believed they heard footsteps in the middle of the night or felt something touch them from behind. I believed in ghosts, but I knew the power of the human mind and pinned most of their experiences on overactive imaginations.

The driver pulled over in front of the old stone building, which hadn’t changed a bit since my last visit. I paid him and exited the cab, holding my bag at my side. A heavy feeling pressed against my chest as I entered the lobby.

I checked in and went upstairs to my room to unpack. I opened the blinds to let in the light and gazed down at the people walking on the sidewalks, peering into the elaborate store-window displays. Being back reminded me of how much Salem felt like home. And I had never been able to figure out why.

My clothes had been stained with sweat in the short time I had been outside. I peeled them off and took a cold shower. I dressed in more appropriate attire for the heat and left the hotel to explore the town. There weren’t many people roaming around Salem this time of year, but I still managed to crash into a man carrying two boxes full of books.

“Sorry. Are you okay?” I asked, helping him stand. “I wasn’t paying attention.”

He wiped the dust from his hands onto his pants. “I’m fine. It’s not your fault. I couldn’t see over these damned boxes.” He looked at me, and I couldn’t help but stare back. His eyes were bright blue, and his hair was cut into a short Mohawk. He wore headphones around his neck, and his music was just barely audible. He was gorgeous, and he was injured.

I took his hand without thinking. “You’re bleeding.” I came to my senses, remembering that he was a perfect stranger and I was invading his personal space. “Sorry again. I don’t know what’s wrong with me today.”

“What’s your name?” he asked.

Before I answered, I tucked my hands into my pockets, afraid of accidentally touching him again. “Victor.”

“I’m Rayne.” He licked his full, strawberry-colored lips. “I’m going to ask you a favor—two, actually.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Sure, whatever you need.”

“First, stop apologizing. You didn’t hurt me that bad.” He flashed me the minor scrape again, more superficial than anything. “And can you help me carry these books home? Otherwise I fear I might be run over before I get there.”

“Oh. Of course.” I helped pack the books back into the boxes, catching sight of one of the covers. A book on spell craft, which wasn’t unusual in the Witch City. “Do you live close by?” I asked.

Rayne pointed around the corner. “Just down that way, but without you it would take me longer to hobble there.”

I picked up a box and struggled to keep it hoisted. How the smaller man had managed to haul two of them around was beyond me. “Why did you try to carry them by yourself? These aren’t light.”

He grimaced as he stood. “It was easier than making two trips. Plus, I didn’t have a big strong man to help me…until now.” Rayne winked at me and then turned and started walking.

I considered that following a stranger toward somewhere unknown may have been a mistake, but he didn’t seem to notice my pause. I peered at the box in my hands before trotting after him. “So I guess knocking you over was a good thing.”

He stopped suddenly, his hand extending from the box to push open a metal gate in front an enormous Victorian home. His smile was playful. “Yes, I guess it was.”

I wanted to kiss that smile. Instead I blinked at him before turning back to the house, and it provided me with something halfway intelligent to say. “This is where you live? It’s…nice.” It made my apartment look like a crumby hole in the wall.

Rayne unlocked the front door and shuffled inside. “Thanks. My parents own it.”

“Do they live with you?” I asked, setting the box on the floor against a wall.

He shut the door and set his box beside the first.

Rayne pulled off his button-down shirt; his undershirt was thin and transparent from sweat. “No, we’d kill each other. They live outside of town, and my brother has a house a few minutes away.” He led me down the hall, and I struggled to tear my eyes away from his ass.

We stepped into his kitchen; it was all white with a subtle rustic charm. There were a set of French doors to my left that opened into a greenhouse filled with more plants than I could count. “Do you ever get tired of living in this big place all alone?” I asked.

“Sometimes.” He rinsed his scraped hand under the tap, then wrapped it with gauze and secured it with medical tape.

Something hooted and rustled behind me. I turned to find a barn owl staring at me from inside a cage. “Oh, hey there,” I said nervously.

“That’s Elvira.” He walked over to the enormous antique birdcage, which housed a large white owl. She was gorgeous and terrifying. “Are you all right?” he asked.

I moved closer, but not much. “I have a little bird phobia, that’s all.”

Rayne stuck a finger inside the cage. “Don’t be afraid. She’s harmless. I found her in the woods with a broken wing. I brought her home and patched her up. When I tried to let her back into the wild, she followed me home. I dug this cage out of the attic and gave her a name. That was three years ago.” He took my hand and brought me closer. “Go ahead. I promise she won’t bite.”

My pulse raced as I stuck a shaky finger inside, and I held my breath as she rubbed it with her soft face. Then she moved away and started grooming herself. “Wow. Too bad all birds aren’t as friendly,” I said.

Rayne laughed quietly. “Take the time and get to know them. Maybe you’ll find them nicer than you thought.”

“I’m afraid I wouldn’t have your aptitude for bird taming.”

“Who says she is tame? Friendly and tame are two entirely different things.” That playful grin had turned mischievous, and I found myself turning away from him to keep from staring.

Rayne cleared his throat. “Well, I don’t want to keep you. I appreciate your help. Nice guys like you don’t bump into me very often.” Rayne stepped closer, and the sweet sincerity in his words warmed me. I wanted to ask him out, or kiss him, or both.

Instead I fumbled over my words. “You aren’t keeping me. Honest. I’m enjoying my time with you. You even got me to bond with a bird while sober.” I was immensely drawn to the younger man, and he read gay to me. I hoped he was, anyway. I was intrigued by his quirkiness and how familiar he seemed already.

Copyright © Jace Payne

Reviews

Customer Reviews

Not so good Review by Angyl
Quality
It was like reading a fan fiction written by a teenager. Sorry, I tried. (Posted on 8/2/2016)
He's done it again! Review by Richard
Quality
This is Jace Payne’s second book and this one is a novella. I only have one complaint about this and that is it ends far too soon. Jace has a wonderful way of getting you into the story, and character development, he sweeps you up and takes you for a joy ride that all of a sudden ends. Part of this, is that some plot points do seemed rushed. However, for me, it left me wanting to see these characters again, in a much longer work. Where he would have the time and space to really flesh things out.

I particularly enjoyed his treatment of ‘meeting the parents’. An event that generally strikes fear into any person. Well, let’s just say that I really felt sorry for Victor, and then Jace in a masterful stroke does something very fun, and unexpected, with it.

The sex between Victor and Rayne is hot and steamy. Their instant love and attraction is very believable. Sparks really do happen when these two are able to get together.

Again Jace has developed a world, and filled it with characters that are real, and draws you in. And just as with his first book I really hope that we will meet these characters again, sometime very soon in a longer format.
(Posted on 9/20/2015)
Recommended read... Review by Milica
Quality
This book falls in the OK category...I enjoyed,I can't say I didn't,but it definitely has some flaws.

I liked the setting of the story - Salem. I love everything paranormal,and this one has witches,ghosts,vampire,empath...combined with where the story is set,it makes a good paranormal read. And I liked being inside Victor's head. We only get his POV,but you don't miss anything by not getting Rayne's POV too. There was maybe little insta-love involved,but strangely here I didn't mind it. Sometimes when chance presents itself,you just gotta take it without over-thinking it. And I liked seeing Victor&Rayne together...

What I didn't like was the fact that every single conflict in this story was resolved in the course of one page. The blurb indicates possible obstacles,like Rayne's parents,the fact that Victor lives and works in the other town (can't remember where),and there were few other things...you have to to decide - either you build the conflict,and resolve it properly,or not mention it at all,and keep the steady pace. Here it seemed that author got stuck somewhere in between,and what you get are forced plot devices quickly resolved,and I'm not very fond of those...

All in all,I'll be definitely reading the next one in this series...
(Posted on 8/27/2015)
hot, sexy, powerful, i loved it Review by Eric
Quality
once i started this, i couldn't put it down. the characters are so amazing. they aren't larger than life but rather humane. don't let the cover fool you, this book is just as beautiful as you would want it to be. i would like to see another one. (Posted on 7/5/2015)
I Highly Recommend This! Review by Clint E.
Quality
Equinox (Secrets of Salem Book 1) is only seventy-five pages long. It's short but perfect for a rainy afternoon read. The story flows very well and is filled with interesting characters and the sex scenes are some of the best that Jace Payne has written so far. Filled with supernatural wonder and gay erotic passion, it's definitely worth the read. (Posted on 5/4/2015)
Glad To Have Found A New, Awseome Author Review by Kenna
Quality
This was a great book! I enjoyed it so much that it only took me three hours to read the whole thing.
The characters were nicely developed. The atmosphere that Jayce Payne created was a nice combination of darkness and light. The romance was deep and true, even though Rayne and Victor fell hard and fast. The sex scenes were incredibly hot...and plentiful.
I don't want to give away any spoilers because I want you all to actually read this story. I will tell you the basics. Victor is in Salem, Mass on a vacation after a very stressful event in his life. Rayne runs a little shop with a little of this and a little of that...candles, Tarot cards, jewelry, and such. The attraction is immediate, and actually quite sweet. In short order, Victor gets to meet Rayne's (awesomely quirky and caring, by the way) family, and the fun begins.
This isn't a long book, but obviously, a lot of thought went into it. It's obvious that the author researched the subject matter carefully. It all sucked me in and didn't let go until the last page. The title says "Secrets of Salem Book 1), am I am excited to see where Mr. Payne will take the next one. I also intend to go back and purchase his first book. He just gained a fan :-)
(Posted on 5/3/2015)
Loved it!! Review by Amber
Quality
Jace Payne has me hooked again. Fantastic novella beginning what promises to be a delightfully spooky series.

Is there anything more magical than the beginning of a new relationship? Well.. in this case... I'd say the only thing MORE magical would be Victor's future in-laws.

Rayne's gentle nature is the perfect balm for Victor's panic disorder and seeing him pull Victor back from the brink was absolutely swoon-worthy.

I loved Rayne's family (and the drama that unfolds.. I refuse to spoil it) and cannot WAIT to see the next Secrets of Salem.
(Posted on 4/30/2015)

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