The minute hand of the ornate grandfather clock crept like a gator stuck in swamp mud. I’d been watching it for half an hour, nursing a fizzy cocktail from my perch inside the Hotel Monteleone. The plaque on the enormous clock claimed it had been hand- carved of mahogany in 1909, about 130 years after the birth of the undead pirate waiting for me upstairs.
They were both quite handsome, but the clock was a lot safer.
The infamous Jean Lafitte had expected me at seven. He’d summoned me to his French Quarter hotel suite by courier like I was one of his early nineteenth-century wenches, and I hated to destroy his pirate-king delusions, but the historical undead don’t summon wizards. We summon them.
I’d have blown him off if my boss on the Congress of Elders hadn’t ordered me to comply and my co-sentinel, Alex, hadn’t claimed a prior engagement.
At seven thirty, I abandoned my drink, took a deep breath, and marched through the lobby toward the bank of elevators.
On the long dead-man-walking stroll down the carpeted hallway, I imagined all the horrible requests Jean might make. He’d saved my life a few years ago, after Hurricane Katrina sent the city into freefall, and I hadn’t seen him since. I’d been desperate at the time. I might have promised him unfettered access to modern New Orleans in exchange for his assistance. I might have promised him a place to live. I might have promised him things I don’t even remember. In other words, I might be totally screwed.
I reached the door of the Eudora Welty Suite and knocked, reflecting that Jean Lafitte probably had no idea who Eudora Welty was, and wouldn’t like her if he did. Ms. Welty had been a modern sort of woman who wouldn’t hop to attention when summoned by a scoundrel.
He didn’t answer immediately. I’d made him wait, after all, and Jean lived in a tit- for- tat world. I paused a few breaths and knocked harder. Finally, he flung open the door, waving me inside to a suite plush with tapestries of peach and royal blue, thick carpet that swallowed the narrow heels of my pumps, and a plasma TV he couldn’t possibly know how to operate. What a waste.
“You have many assets, Drusilla, but apparently a respect for time is not among them.” Deep, disapproving voice, French accent, broad shoulders encased in a red linen shirt, long dark hair pulled back into a tail, eyes such a cobalt blue they bordered on navy. And technically speaking, dead.
He was as sexy as ever.
“Sorry.” I slipped my hand in my skirt pocket, fingering the small pouch of magic-infused herbs I carried at all times. My mojo bag wouldn’t help with my own perverse attraction to the man, but it would keep my empathic abilities in check. If he still had a perverse attraction to me, I didn’t want to feel it.
He eased his six-foot-two frame into a sturdy blue chair and slung one long leg over the arm as he gave me a thorough eyeraking, a ghost of a smile on his face.
I perched on the edge of the adjacent sofa, easing back against a pair of plump throw pillows, and looked at him expectantly. I hoped what ever he wanted wouldn’t jeopardize my life, my job, or my meager bank account.
“You are as lovely as ever, Jolie,” Jean said, trotting out his pet name for me that sounded deceptively intimate and brought back a lot of memories, most of them bad. “I will forgive your tardiness— perhaps you were late because you were selecting clothing that I would like.” His gaze lingered on my legs. “You chose beautifully.”
I’d picked a conservative black skirt and simple white blouse with the aim of looking professional for a business meeting, part of my ongoing attempt to prove to the Elders I was a mature wizard worthy of a pay raise. But this was Jean Lafitte, so I should have worn coveralls. I’d forgotten what a letch he could be.
“I have a date after our meeting,” I lied. He didn’t need to know said date involved a round carton with the words Blue Bell Ice Cream printed on front. “Why did you want to see me?”
There, that hadn’t been so difficult—just a simple request. No drama. No threats. No double- entendre. Straight to business.
“Does a man need a reason to see a beautiful woman? Especially one who is indebted to him, and who has made him many promises?” A slow smile spread across his face, drawing my eyes to his full lips and the ragged scar that trailed his jawline.
I might be the empath in the room, but he knew very well that, in some undead kind of way, I thought he was hot.
I felt my face warming to the shade of a trailer- trash bridesmaid’s dress, one whose color had a name like raging rouge. I’d had a similar reaction when I first met Jean in 2005, two days before a mean hurricane with a sissy name turned her malevolent eye toward the Gulf Coast. I blamed my whole predicament on Katrina, the bitch.
Her winds had driven the waters of Lake Pontchartrain into the canals that crisscrossed the city, collapsing levees and filling the low, concave metro area like a gigantic soup bowl.
But NBC Nightly News and Anderson Cooper had missed the biggest story of all: how, after the storm, a mob of old gods, historical undead, and other preternatural victims of the scientific age flooded New Orleans. As a wizard, I’d had a ringside seat. Now, three years later, the wizards had finally reached accords with the major preternatural ruling bodies, and the borders were down, as of two days ago. Jean hadn’t wasted any time.
|Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities. She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.
About the Blogger
I review Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance books with a focus all things werewolf. Based out of Ottawa, Canada
I have read Royal Street & River Road and became a fan of The Sentinels of New Orleans series. Really recommend these books whenever I can. My favorite character by far is DJ. Give the series a try, you will not be disappointed. If you would like to vote for the cover, check Bitten by Books.
love the excerpt. i will have to add this book to my TBR list
Oh, that pirate… he’s a character. I looove the covers on these books!
i can’t have enough of jean^^ so cunny and adaptable ^^
I would love to read this book. It sounds really good. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me. Tore923@aol.com
Thanks so much for the chance. Ill have to check out this series, it sounds awesome 🙂
@Roger It’s on my to-read list. Thanks for the recommendation.
@laurie Glad you enjoyed it!
@Allison They are pretty, aren’t they? 🙂
@miki Good luck!
@Tore My pleasure!
@Natalie Cleary Good luck!
I enjoyed Royal Street and am looking forward to reading River Road
Great excerpt! And I love the cover for River Road! Thanks for the giveaway 🙂
~Lesley D @ Lesley’s Reading Heaven
LOVE this excerpt and this part made me laugh so much: “Jean lived in a tit- for- tat world. I paused a few breaths and knocked harder. Finally, he flung open the door, waving me inside to a suite plush with tapestries of peach and royal blue, thick carpet that swallowed the narrow heels of my pumps, and a plasma TV he couldn’t possibly know how to operate. What a waste.”
This is an awesome tour!
ccfioriole at gmail dot com
Loved the excerpt.Thanks for sharing
Loved the excerpt, now I want to find out what happens and read the rest of the book. Great giveaway.
I’m following along on the tour. Suzanne has done an excellent job with this series..I’m definitely ready for book 2. Thank you for sharing along the hop 🙂
Hi Carmel, I have to tell you that werewolfs are my weakness as well. I love reading the storie about them and of shape shifters. I have read Kate Douglas Wolf Tales, and it is great!!!! I have also read Terry Spear Wolf series and loved it too!!! And then there is Lydia Dare Wolf series that I am reading now that I am really enjoying!! And I could go on and on lol….
Suzanne I am not one to read excerpts on book, I like to wait for the book. But I think it is great that you give your readers that choice. And I am looking forward to reading The Sentinels of New Orleans series!!
Happy reading and writing*
I really liked the first one and will be definitely checking out book 2!
Thanks for the giveaway!
I’ve not read the 1st book in the series; drats but I’m sadly behind! I heard it’s got a pirate?! Plus a host of other interesting characters!
Great excerpt! And this cover is beautiful!
The cover is really great and I loved the excerpt. sdylion(at)gmail(dot)com
Thanks for the chance! This sounds like something I could really enjoy 🙂
I’m adding the series to my TBR.
I have this book at the top of my wishlist. An what an awesome cover!
I still have to pick up the first book in this series, Royal Street, so I can be ready for River Road. This sounds like such a great series and I’m looking forward to reading it.
It sounds like there are lots of interesting characters in this series. I love the idea of making a pirate one of the main characters.
Great excerpt. Cant wait to read more.
bacchus76 at myself dot com
Great excerpt, I really liked this book andjust received my own copy, so beautiful!
@SandyG265 I hope to squeeze Royal Street in soon.
@booksinheaven You’re welcome! 🙂
@Christina Fiorelli That’s a great quote! LOL
Thanks for the guestpost, I enjoyed reading the excerpt.
Thank you for this awesome giveaway! 😛 I´d also really like to read this book 🙂
I loved Royal Street and cannot wait to read River Road!