Love is honey sweet, but it comes with a fatal sting . . .
Melaina Maris needs wings to fly the gap between loving Sam and her family’s ancient curse that forces carnal love and then kills the male lovers. She won’t let the same fate that killed her father befall another. She refuses to allow her goddess-created bloodline to continue. But there’s no easy way out, especially after the curse turns her into the Honey Queen—savior to honey bees—intensifying her charms.
To help her fulfill the curse’s demands in the least harmful way, her grandmother takes her to mate with terminally ill Boyd. But Boyd’s gay. And an expert in mythology. Instead of having sex, Melaina learns how she might summon the goddess who created the first ancestor bee-charmer and cursed her bloodline. Melaina’s magic—tears to save honey bees from endangerment—could be enough to persuade the goddess to end the curse. But an unexpected discovery soon changes that hope, spinning Melaina into a swarm of love, friendship and death.
The kiss of a sting sends heat up my arm. I don’t flick away the stinger. Instead, I watch the barb pulse like a heartbeat as it unloads its venom. Pleasure and guilt war within me. I’ve never before felt the sensation of a sting, as if a swarm buzzed through my veins. Nor have I ever murdered one of my own. But life with our honey bees changed last summer. Now our connection to them is even more twisted, morphed into a love-hate battle I wish would end.
“I know,” I say with partial regret, as squadrons of bees swoop in to investigate their sister’s death. The banana-like scent of alarm pheromones fills my nose. I pull on my glove, deciding not to kill any others or further tempt fate. Even one sting raises my risk of becoming like Mom, crazy with need, using alcohol to replace her addiction to bee venom. But I had to understand what seduced my mother. I had to taste the pleasure that deceives, so that I know firsthand what I’m fighting against.
I wait until the buzzing heat of the sting fades, ignore the temptation to expose my flesh again, and continue to work the hives. Three colonies down, three more to go—just enough to pollinate our fruit orchard and release the pheromones Gran, Mom, and I need to stay alive.
A part of me misses the rows of hives that used to make up our apiary, how spring’s arrival was like a big party with a million honey bees as our guests. A bigger part of me misses my mother who, before last summer, danced in the orchard every morning and sang to me every night. Now it’s my turn to come out here in the morning and greet bees that would kill her in a wing’s flutter but that we both depend on for life.
Christina Mercer is an award-winning author of fiction for children and
young adults. She took Writer’s Best in Show at the 2012 SCBWI CA North/Central
Regional Conference, was a Semi-Finalist in the 2010 Amazon Breakout Novel
Award Contest, and won Honorable Mention in the 21st Annual Writer’s Digest
Self Published Book Awards. She holds a degree in Accounting from California
State University at Sacramento and a Certificate in Herbal Studies from Clayton
College of Natural Health. Christina resides in Northern California enjoying
life with her husband, two sons, four dogs, and about 100,000 honeybees.