Happy Sunday! I hope August is treating you well. I’m taking most of the month off from blogging as I deal with day-job insanity and work on BELLE CHASSE, (Sentinels of New Orleans #5), and teach a workshop on Deep Point of View. The workshop starts tomorrow and there’s still time to sign up if you’re interested in such things. Click here to register; I think you might have to join the Savvy Authors site, but the basic membership is free.
How about a new scene-snippet from PIRATE’S ALLEY? DJ has a special assignment in the book–to keep tabs on Jean Lafitte so he doesn’t go off in search of revenge for what happened to him in ELYSIAN FIELDS. No easy task, but she’s determined. The Elders have put her up in a room at the Monteleone across from Jean’s suite. In this scene, Jean’s trying to ditch her but is too polite to tell her to get lost, so he’s trying a couple of other tactics, beginning with a “dinner date” at lunch, which DJ decided wasn’t worth trying to explain, followed by a long walk in the snow, because she doesn’t handle cold weather very well….
The hot water of the shower finally beat the rest of the chill out of my skin, and I took my time choosing layers of clothing that would add warmth without bulk: a t-shirt that said NEW ORLEANS: IT’S NOT THE HEAT, IT’S THE STUPIDITY, a thin black sweater with a tight weave, a bulkier red sweater, and black cords. Two pairs of socks, one wool. I finished drying my hair, looked at my makeup bag, and left it closed. This wasn’t a lunch date. Normal women carried oversized purses filled with cosmetics and personal items. I walked across the hall carrying my ugly coat, the elven staff, my boots, and the messenger bag containing my portable magic kit.
Jean must have heard me because he flung open the door to his suite and greeted me before I had a chance to knock.
He too wore layers. He’d added what looked like a long, fitted suede jacket over his usual white linen tunic. I fingered the lapel; it was thick but soft. “This is spiffy. Did you buy it or tan it?”
“It was given to me in trade by an Acadian who wished to purchase a pirogue. In those days we did not experience such winters, so I had little use for it.”
I couldn’t help myself. “And what year might that have been?”
He pursed his lips and shrugged. “I do not recall, but believe it was before the war.”
That would be the War of 1812. “It’s held up very well.” Of course, so had he.
“Merci. And I must say you look…” He appeared to struggle for a word I wouldn’t find offensive. Captain Lafitte and I had very different ideas about the proper attire for a woman, modern or otherwise. “…warm.”
“Exactly. And I’m hungry.” I eyed the room-service cart buried under silver-covered dishes. “You didn’t order snails, did you?”
“Mais non. I inquired, knowing how anxious you were to sample these delicacies, but the weather delayed the ship filled with escargot for the hotel.”
I started to explain that a shipment of escargot differed from a ship of escargot, but why bother. Thank God for blizzards. “That’s a real pity.”
Much to my surprise, he had ordered burgers dressed with bacon, creole chutney, and cheddar cheese. Extra fries had been piled onto his plate in an artistic pyramid. I’d have to jog through the snow to work this off.
I gave him a mock salute. “Congratulations, Jean. You have discovered hamburgers, a great American tradition.” The few times I’d been around him during meals, he’d proven to have an adventurous palate—developed at sea, no doubt, during a time when one ate whatever one could catch, trap, or plunder from an enemy vessel. If he’d ever resorted to trying long pork, as roasted human flesh was called due to its supposed porklike flavor, I didn’t want to know.
“Our mutual friend Rene introduced me to this hamburger delicacy, although he has been unable to explain to me why it is called thus when it contains no ham. No pork at all, in fact.”
I stopped with a French fry halfway to my mouth. I thought it had something to do with Hamburg, Germany, but wouldn’t bet on it. “Did he explain why French fries are called thus even though they don’t come from France?”
He picked up a crisp potato and studied it. “I beg to differ, Jolie. Even in my youth, we consumed frites at my home near Bordeaux and later in San Domingue. We did not have the sweet red sauce, however.” He dumped a quarter of a bottle of ketchup on his plate and dragged a fistful of fries through it.
We spent the next half hour discussing the many variations on the hamburger, leaving Jean anxious to try a Big Mac—I think it was the lure of special sauce that attracted him, plus my opinion, after much sampling, that Mickey Ds had the best fries in the universe.
“Tres bien, that was most enjoyable.” He settled back and gave me a sly look that sent my antennae of suspicion skyward. “Do you still wish to join me in a walk through the city, to avail yourself of its winter beauty? Or perhaps you would prefer to rest while I enjoy my stroll.”
“I want to stroll.” Actually, I’d rather crawl under the duvet in my own hotel room—alone—until spring. “I’m ready when you are.”
I noted he’d never said he wanted me to join him on his stroll. With the pirate, the words he didn’t utter were often more revealing than the ones he did.
“Shall we then?” He opened the door as I struggled into my coat, but then blocked my way. “Pardon, Jolie. Your coat does not do justice to your beauty. Do you have another you might wear?”
What a delicate way of saying the coat was hideous and he was ashamed to be seen with me. “I can’t afford a whole new wardrobe as well as a new coat, not being a wealthy historical figure with an unlimited supply of gold at my disposal.”
“Ah, well, we must remedy this.” He turned and strode down the hall toward the lifting room, as he called the elevator, leaving me to chase after him. I wasn’t sure what his remedy might be, but maybe he’d get me a raise.
I barely managed to jump into the elevator before the doors whisked closed and took off for the lobby. So that’s how we were going to play it. He was going to do his best to wear me out or ditch me, whichever came first.
Game on, pirate. My stride might be short but my competitive spirit was gargantuan.
Of course, Jean has a Plan B, followed by a Plan C!
There’s a short list of winners this week, but KIMBERLY B won this week’s Reader’s Choice contest and chose Ann Aguirre’s Mortal Danger. Please email me at email@example.com and let me know if you prefer print or ebook. Mention the name of the book because my memory is like a sieve these days and it will save me from having to backtrack to remember what you won!
A new Reader’s Choice giveaway will be up tomorrow, and author Kristin Miller (So I Married a Werewolf) will be here on Thursday. We had a mixup last week with her guest post through absolutely no fault of hers, so I hope you’ll check out her post on Thursday!