Before I turn the blog back over to DJ and Alex, a few things….
A newsletter! Yep, the newsletter is starting up again. It will come out on the 15th of the month, and if you had already signed up for the old one, you should get this one. If not, click on the newsletter tab between now and the 14th and you should get it. There are special giveaways for newsletter subscribers only, so better open that bad boy!
I’m also doing a couple of contests already, even though the official blog tour doesn’t start until the 20th. You have until the end of the month to enter for a terrific piece of gemstone jewelry from Fresh Fiction. Click here to enter.
ALSO, I’m also hosting a monthly contest here in addition to the regular giveaways. This month, I’m giving away a signed copy of any of my books except PIRATE’S ALLEY, plus some surprise swaggishness. If you already have them, I’ll substitute an equivalent Amazon GC. Click the Contest tab at the top of the page to enter.
Now, here are DJ and Alex…..
DJ here. I thought it would be interesting to recall how we all met, you and my friends and I. This week, we’ll look at first meetings in ROYAL STREET, which means some of my current acquaintances hadn’t yet joined my story.
Sorry, Rene! Not sorry at all, Rand!
I guess it’s only fitting that the first meeting you witness in ROYAL STREET is my own first meeting with Jean Lafitte (Alex, stop snarling–you sound like Gandalf). The ridiculous scheme, which I’d like to note was not my idea, was for me to meet the pirate in a swampy area of St. Bernard Parish, pretend to seduce him, and then dispatch him back to the Beyond. That was back in the old days before Katrina, before the levees failed, before we had to do annoying things like negotiate. I knew when Jean arrived with a knife, a gun, and a package of condoms that it was not going to go as planned….
I’d pulled my unruly blond hair out of its usual ponytail for the occasion, loaded on some makeup to play up my teal eyes, and poured myself into a little black skirt, short enough to show off my legs while not offending Lafitte’s nineteenth-century sensibilities.
It must have worked, because the pirate was giving me that head-to-toe appraisal guys do on instinct, like they’re assessing a juicy slab of beef and deciding whether they want it rare, medium, or well-done. “You really are lovely, Drusilla.” The timbre of Lafitte’s voice shivered down my spine, and I fought the urge to check out the biceps underneath that linen shirt.
Holy crap. This was just wrong. I should not be absorbing his lust.
Alex: You never told me you felt lust. You said it was a simple dispatch. Now there’s lust?
DJ: Down, Rover. It was better than our first meeting.
Alex: As I recall, in our first meeting, I saved your ass.
DJ: No, you must recall BEING an ass….Jean and I were about to begin negotiating–
Alex: Oh, is THAT what you call him killing you?
DJ: When you walked in like a reject from a Vin Diesel movie…
I grabbed a shard of glass and spun around, brandishing it in front of me. It was a pretty, stippled blue piece, nice and sharp.
“Hold on, tiger. I give up.”
A bear of a man stood in front of me, hands raised in mock surrender— well, except for the shotgun in his right hand. He towered well over six feet and was shaped like a linebacker, one who’d gone a little too long between haircuts. Dark curls hugged the collar of a basic black T-shirt that almost camouflaged a black shoulder holster holding some type of nasty-looking black handgun. It all matched his black jeans and boots. He looked like the poster child for an upscale GQ mercenary. The only shred of color on him was his eyes, and they were dark brown. Mr. Monochromatic.
He laid the shotgun on the table near the door and stepped back, hands up, watching me from beneath hooded lids. A lesser woman would have noticed the thick muscles moving under his tanned skin when he raised his arms, or the T-shirt that fit just snugly enough to send a girl’s thoughts to the Promised Land. Good thing I don’t notice stuff like that.
“If you want to search me for more weapons, I’m game.”
My eyes shot back to his, and I felt my cheeks flush, hot and bothered on the way to angry. Leave it to a guy to open his mouth and ruin a perfectly good moment.
Alex: You thought I was hot from the get-go. I knew it.
DJ: Of course you were hot. It was a hundred degrees outside and there was no electricity.
Alex: You know what I mean.
DJ: I plead the Fifth.
Alex: Although it was Jake you wanted at first, wasn’t it? For all the wrong reasons.
DJ: (Sighs) Yeah, it was on our first trip out to Gerry’s flooded house in Lakeview. He met us out there….
A weathered black and silver Dodge pickup towing a small motorboat pulled up behind us, and Alex circled back to greet the driver. I couldn’t see who sat behind the crusted and dirty windshield, but Alex stood at the driver’s window and pointed down the block where the boulevard disappeared into floodwater.
The truck pulled ahead, maneuvered a deft U-turn, and backed toward the water. Alex motioned for me to follow. By the time I lurched my way to the truck, he and the pickup driver were sliding the boat down the trailer ramp. Sweat trickled down my neck, and if I hadn’t been afraid of being poisoned by toxic sludge, I’d have made like a pig and wallowed in the mud to cool off.
I kicked at a fire hydrant, trying to jolt some of the heaviest sludge off my boots, and heard a soft laugh behind me. With a final kick that sent a spray of brown gunk flying, I turned to see what was so funny. I needed a laugh.
A man leaned against the side of the pickup with his arms crossed. He was a few inches shorter than Alex, maybe just shy of six feet, with sun-streaked blond hair that reached his collar and a sleeveless blue T-shirt and khaki shorts. His tanned legs between the bottom of the shorts and the top of sturdy black shrimp boots were scored with scars, bad ones, as if whatever made them meant to do serious damage.
He’d been grinning when I turned around, flashing a heart-stopping set of dimples, but when he saw my eyes linger on his legs, the grin eased into something more wary.
DJ: That’s kind of killed my mood. I think we’ll hold on to the annoying elders until next time.
Alex: Good idea. (Hugs DJ). I think we’re not blogging tomorrow or Saturday, right? Who’s taking Sunday?
DJ: Jean. I have no idea what he has planned
Alex: I need a drink. Or a gun.