Happy Sunday! Let’s go ahead and quietly boo and hiss at Monday while we’re here.
First, there’s a Rafflecopter entry form below to win an ARC of BLACK DIAMOND, the second book in the Wilds of the Bayou series. (It also works as a standalone.) You can retweet daily this week for additional entries. Please note that if you win an ARC and are kind enough to leave a review at Amazon after the release date of October 18, you will need to use some language to the effect of “Review copy provided by author for my unbiased review.” Otherwise, the Great AZ could pull my books off their virtual shelves. And it’s true, by the way. If you don’t like the book, you’re under no obligation to leave a positive review!
So, how about a BLACK DIAMOND scene-snippet? This is a scene from early in the book, as Jena Sinclair is coming home from her shift as a Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries enforcement agent. It takes place about three months after the events of WILD MAN’S CURSE.
An hour later, Jena yawned while waiting for a red light to change. She was again driving her own LDWF truck, back in the community of Chauvin, and headed for home.
No, headed for her house.
No, headed for the house. It was hers, technically, but it wasn’t home.
While she’d been stoned on painkillers and suffering the controlling attention of her parents and the New Orleans physicians paid well for her private care, her father—make that Jackson Sinclair Sr., senior partner of the most powerful law firm in New Orleans—had moved into action as soon as the psychiatrist told him Jena needed to get back to her life and her job. Dad had taken it upon himself to pay off the lease on her little apartment in Houma, buy a house in her name in Chauvin, and install her younger brother, Jackson, as a roommate-slash-babysitter. Of course, he filled her in on the plan after the fact.
Her cat, Boudreaux, had been hiding under her bed ever since, making only quiet nocturnal visits to the cat bowl and litter box.
Jena loved Chauvin, as she loved most of Terrebonne Parish, but she hated the house because it was garish and looked like nothing she’d ever buy for herself. She wanted to paint it red and put flamingo statues in the yard to liven it up and make it look as if real people lived here rather than nouveau-riche idiots.
She also loved Jackson, but she didn’t want to live with him. He was a laid-back, computer-wiz pothead that her father hadn’t yet given up on brainwashing. Dad considered Jena a lost cause, or at least that’s how she interpreted the house. He had given in to the inevitable, but he still wouldn’t have his daughter living in a cheap Houma efficiency apartment. The deed to a house was Dad’s equivalent of a hug and a peck on the cheek, and she could appreciate that. She just wished he’d asked for her input instead of handing it to her as a done deal. Then again, at least she had a place to go that didn’t require driving all the way back into Houma.
Turning off the parish highway into a broad drive lined by tupelos and live oaks, Jena ground her teeth, waiting for the white columns of the house to come into view. They stretched across a wide, raised verandah like freaking Tara in Gone with the Wind. What kind of person would build such a house in a hurricane-prone, flood-prone, working-class community like Chauvin, Louisiana, population about three thousand on a good day?
The short answer: some unlucky dude whose business had gone belly-up when the 2010 oil spill almost destroyed the state’s fishing industry and a series of hurricanes had driven storm surge high into the parish, flooding people out. Dad had probably been able to pick it up for a song. Why her brother Jacks had been thrown into the deal, she wasn’t sure.
Like most homes in the parish, the house was raised, with storage on the bottom level tucked behind twin stone staircases that rose to the verandah. Jackson Jr. had dubbed the house the White Rhino because it was more rampaging than a White Elephant. And it was definitely white—a pristine white that practically glowed in the dark even on a night like tonight, when fog was setting in early.
The frantic thump of some insult to music, recorded by a rapper whose name Jena didn’t know, vibrated the first-floor windows. She felt in the pocket of her jacket to make sure the ibuprofen was close at hand.
Jackson had always marched slightly left of center, but this wasn’t his normal taste in music, which meant he probably had company. The kid—although at twenty-four he was hardly a kid anymore—had a genius for computers but no ambition to do anything with his talent except design elaborate costumes for cosplayers, which he then gave away. He was more socially outgoing than his reserved older sister, a trait she envied, but his lack of interest in crafting a future for himself annoyed Jena almost as much as it did their parents, not that she’d ever admit it.
She fumbled with her keys, distracted by the bright lights coming from behind the house, lighting up the sky like a rotating spotlight at a Vegas show. The White Rhino sat in the middle of a large tract of solid land—itself a novelty in water-bound Chauvin—so Jackson must have turned on all the lights around the backyard aboveground pool, nestled inside a natural wood deck that encircled it. Jena would have to talk to him about his electrical excess. Jacks wasn’t the one paying the utilities on this behemoth of a house, and neither was Dad. She made a good salary, but not that good.
She set her pack inside the front door, removed her department-issued SIG Sauer from its holster, and locked it inside the foyer desk drawer. She had just unfastened the buckle to release her heavy uniform utility belt when she glanced up, looked out the living room windows that stretched across the back of the house, and froze.
Whereas Jena was tall, slender, ivory skinned, and red haired like her mother, Jackson was shorter, well built but more compact, and dark haired like their father. And every inch of him was on display, upside down, as he walked on his hands across the top of the concrete wall at the back of the property, naked as the day he was born—a day Jena remembered well because she’d been allowed to skip school.
God, I’ll never be able to unsee that. Jena marched across the living room, which opened poolside, and shut off the music.
Uh-oh. What’s Jackson up to? You’ll have to wait and see!
Okay, then, did you win a book this week? If you find your name, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the contact tab on this page. Because of the number of giveaways I do, I rely on winners to notify me and can’t go hunting folks down.
REBECCA won a $5 Amazon GC for commenting on the Storm Force trivia post. I think the biggest surprises were that Houston was built on a swamp and that Louisiana has a state dog!
MIKI won this week’s Reader’s Choice giveaway, and selected the new book by Seanan McGuire. I just checked and it is digital only; the new novel comes out in September. So I can preorder the novel since you’re outside the U.S., or you can choose a different book from Book Depository!
See you all tomorrow for a new Reader’s Choice! I’ll also be doing giveaways on Facebook in the coming weeks for both Black Diamond and Belle Chasse ARCs, so check out my author page or friend me on my regular page.
NOTE: If Rafflecopter seems to be misbehaving, you can also enter by commenting. All comments left on blogs this week will be considered an entry as long as you include the words Black Diamond.