Well folks, after the seriousness of Emily’s story in Crossroads, I’ve decided to write something a little more light. I’m combining many of my favorite things in this one, humor, New Orleans, and music. Here’s a sneak peek at the first chapter of my newest novel, That Voodoo That You Do.
Here’s to new projects!
Peace! I’m out!
“Hello! Welcome to the Gilded Lily.”
Holy crawfish! J.J. Jacobs thought as she looked up from the elegant front desk of the New Orleans hotel and fell head over hormones into lust.
“Checking in.” the object of her affliction said. “Name’s Rhet Rhet Butler.”
This is bad. J.J. thought. I’m about to climb over this desk and molest a customer with a fake name. J.J. blew a lock of blonde streaked brunette hair out of her face and hit some keys on the computer keyboard.
“Oh yes, Mr….Butler. You are in the Red Light Suite. Are you here for the Voodoo Festival?”
“Yes, I am.” He said.
J.J. looked up at him again. Again she was hit with a white-hot wave of lust. His head was shaved underneath a black ball cap. Black tribal tattoos wrapped around arms the size of Amazonian anacondas. He wore a simple black t-shirt and fashionably tattered blue jeans. His eyes were deep brown as was the five o’clock shadow that covered the bottom part of his face. He was just her type, masculine and ragged around the edges.
Her eyes met his eyes and the air between them sizzled. The flame seemed to burn the oxygen out of the air, leaving her feeling light-headed. She sucked in a breath, catching a whiff of his woodsy cologne. She closed her eyes as the floor felt like it shifted.
She exhaled a breath and choked out, “This key unlocks both your room and the gate to your private courtyard. Enjoy the festival and your stay with us. If you need, anything.” J.J. inwardly cringed as her voice broke on the word anything. “don’t be afraid to call the front desk.”
Anaconda Arms, aka Rhett Butler, pocketed the key. “If I need any…thing,” he winked at her. “you’ll be the first one I call.”
J.J. watched Anaconda Arms as he disappeared down the hall.
“J.J.” someone was calling her name. “J.J.” someone said again, louder this time.
“What?” she snapped. She shook her head and looked to see who it was. J.J. instantly felt bad. Zoey, the twenty-something bartender was smiling at her from the door of the hotel’s small lounge.
“I’m sorry, Zoey.” J.J. said. “What is it?”
Zoey brushed her burgundy streaked black hair out of her face. She was grinning.
“He was hot, huh?” Zoey teased.
J.J. frowned at her and started needlessly straightening the top of the antique desk.
“Isn’t it time for your shift?” J.J. asked her, frowning.
Zoey grinned again and handed her a sheet of paper. “Today’s inventory. Don’t forget Jagneaux’s delivering today.”
“You can handle that.” J.J. said. “Just leave the invoice by the register. I’ll pick it up after happy hour.
“No problem.” Zoey said, turning to leave.
J.J. turned her attention to the couple walking through the door.
“Hi! Welcome to the Gilded Lily.” J.J. said.
The woman stood back. Her body was rigid and her face was impassive. It wasn’t the usual posture for a young couple checking in. Not in New Orleans, a place known for romance. Usually couples were google-eyed and lovey-dovey.
“Here you go, Mr. Robicheaux. There’s a complimentary happy hour in the lounge at six. Hope to see you there.”
He gave her half a smile, “I sure could use a drink.”
The woman behind him snorted, a sound that contrasted her cool, blonde appearance.
J.J. raised an eyebrow and stifled a grin. “Well, enjoy your stay with us.”
J.J. felt her thoughts wander to the mysterious Mr. Butler. Granted, he was not the first person to check in under an alias. There was just something about him. There was something familiar, like she knew him from somewhere. She just wasn’t sure where.
J.J. shook her head and checked the slim gold watch on her wrist. Five o’clock. She had an hour to go to her room, shower and change for happy hour. She gave the lobby one last look. Every detail from the antique crystal chandelier, to the wall hangings, to the flower arrangements that were delivered weekly from a local florist was chosen by J.J, or a former Jacobs. The hotel had been in the family for generations. Her mother had grown up here, her grandmother. She smiled with satisfaction and headed to her suite.
Zoey polished the last of the glassware and surveyed her bar. Well, not HER bar but she took care of it like it was her own. She took pride in her job. She loved it and she loved working for J.J.
Zoey checked the clock overhanging the bar. 5:30. In thirty minutes, Sam and Dean would be by before their nightly ghost tours. Zoey checked her image in the mirrored wall behind the bar. She smoothed a wayward dark hair into place.
Dean, she thought. Those eyes. That smile. He had no idea she was crazy about him.
A rattle in the cooler where they kept the frozen mugs interrupted her thoughts.
“Already” Zoey asked. She pulled a mug out of the cooler and went to the Abita beer tap. She filled the glass and sat it on the corner of the bar.
Zoey finished getting ready for happy hour. She loved these quiet moment before the bar was busy. Before six, the only customers she would have would be a few hotel customers in for a beer or two. And Ernest, but he didn’t count.
She checked her hair one more time then started her 5:45 ritual.
Watching the door.
God, she hated him. Caroline thought as she watched Rod move about the room. The romantic surroundings, the lacey curtains, the four-poster bed, was lost on the two of them.
New Orleans, Halloween, VoodooFest, it was their favorite bands on their favorite holiday. It was supposed to have been a romantic getaway.
Caroline snorted. Some romantic getaway.
He should’ve been a gentleman when they broke up and sold her the ticket. Noooo. She should’ve gotten another room. But she had paid for the room and if he wasn’t giving up the tickets, she wasn’t giving up the room.
So, they were stuck.
The ride from Lafayette to New Orleans had been two hours of silence. They spoke only for the most basic reasons. And apparently, that’s how it would continue for the remainder of the weekend. At least if they weren’t talking, they weren’t fighting. And fighting would only make the weekend worse.
She let out a frustrated sigh and grabbed her make up bag. It was time for a drink.
J.J. donned a soft robe and stepped out of the bathroom. Her blonde hair was wet and floating around her shoulders. She thought again of Rhett, or whatever his name was. This man was already taking up way to much parking space in her mind. She didn’t have time for this distraction. She was still in men-o-pause after the last disaster.
She tossed the towel off her head and started blowing her hair dry. Mark, the last man, had done a number on her. She had met him at a Chamber of Commerce function. He was a hotel owner also. They had drinks and discussed the nuances of the business. Then, she’d fallen headfirst into a love affair. Only later did she find out he was married. And he didn’t own the hotel, his wife did. J.J. had sworn off all men for a while then, and hadn’t regretted it. Until now. It didn’t help that Anaconda Arms was in the suite across the courtyard.
She switched off the hairdryer. With her sliding glass doors open to the courtyard, she could hear music. Guitar music. Someone was strumming a guitar in the courtyard. It was Anaconda Arms. He started to sing and J.J.’s knees went weak.
She now knew who Rhett really was.