American Heroes Series - 03 - Purgatory (3 page)

BOOK: American Heroes Series - 03 - Purgatory
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Nash laughed. “Come on,” he
tilted his head in the general direction of the rest of the house. “Let me give
you a tour of hell’s half acre.”

With a smirk on her face, Elliot
preceeded him out of the kitchen.




He’d never seen anything so

That was Nash’s first reaction
when his gaze beheld Elliot Jentry for the first time. When Louise Dawn had
called him the day before and told him to meet her at Purgatory the next day
because the new owner was taking possession, Nash really hadn’t known what to
expect. He didn’t particularly care. All he was thinking about was clearing out
the last of his mamaw’s junk so the trip to Purgatory had been more of a chore
than anything else and, like most chores, he was impatient to be done with it.

He was therefore genuinely stunned
when introduced to the new owner of his ancestral home and when Louise left him
in charge as she popped off to make her phone calls, he felt a little like the
class nerd being left alone with the homecoming queen. All of that magnificence
made him breathless, so he took a deep breath as he followed Elliot out of the
kitchen and struggled to regroup.

As she walked in front of him
into the dark and creepy room beyond, he stole a moment to inspect her; he
couldn’t really tell how old she was because she had flawless skin and a
spectacular smile, but he guessed she was somewhere in her mid thirties.  She
was petite in height, dressed in jeans and a pretty flowing shirt that was both
sweet and sexy.  Her long hair was pulled away from her face, a brilliant blond
shade styled with soft curls. She looked like a little doll.

When she turned to look at him,
all Nash could see was the most beautiful blue eyes he had ever had the
privilege to witness. It was a little difficult functioning like an intelligent
man with all of that beauty gazing back at him. All he wanted to do was stare
at her.

“Well,” he began, smiling at her
because he couldn’t seem to help it. “Welcome to Sophie.  The home was built by
my great-great-great-great grandfather, Louis-Michel Aury, in 1818 for his
mistress, a Scottish woman named Sophie MacGregor. He named the house after

Elliot’s gaze lingered on him a
moment before looking around the cavernous room. “What did your
great-great-great-great grandfather do for his money?”

Nash folded his big arms across
his broad chest, a twinkle in the hazel eyes. “Do you know anything about
Louisiana history?”

Elliot shook her head. “Not
much,” she admitted. “I know about the River Road and King Cotton, but my
family is mostly from Mississippi. I can’t tell you how angry they all are that
I chose to purchase a home in Louisiana. It’s like some weird rivalry.”

He laughed softly. “You don’t
sound like you’re from Mississippi.”

Her grin was back. “I’m not,” she
replied. “I’m a first-generation Californian. My mom and dad were born in Mississippi
and moved to California before I was born.”

“I see,” he understood, returning
his attention to the conversation at hand. “Louis-Michel Aury was a pirate who
sailed the Caribbean. He was pretty famous, like Jean Lafitte. He built this
place with his spoils for Sophie and their four children. For decades, it was
one of the most visited and popular homes on the river. The Black Bayou backs
up to the house and legend has it that many of Louis-Michel’s pirates built
homes back in the bayou, like a colony that surrounded the house. They would
use it as a base when they launched their raids on New Orleans and other towns,
and gradually people began to call this place the Devil’s Bayou and the main
house, Purgatory. Hence, the name.”

Elliot was listening with fascination.
“That is
cool,” she gasped softly. “So you descended from a pirate?
That’s kind of ironic considering….”

She was pointing at his sheriff’s
badge. He grinned broadly, running a finger over the metal badge.

“I guess I’ve got a lot to make
up for, considering my ancestor was a cutthroat,” he replied. “Frankly, I was
surprised when I was elected. There are still a lot of people around here that
remember Purgatory and the legends surrounding it.”

She cocked her head. “Elected?”
she repeated, then her eyes widened. “Good grief, I feel like such an idiot.  I
wasn’t making the connection… I thought you were just a deputy. I didn’t
realize you were

His grin was back as he extended
his hand to her again. “Nash Aury, Sheriff of Ascension Parish,” he pretended
to introduce himself all over again. “Welcome to Louisiana. We’re glad to have
you, Mrs. Jentry.”

She felt like a fool as she took
his hand again, laughing softly as he shook it. “I’m really not such a dope,
you know.”

He was still holding on to her
hand, the hazel eyes glimmering warmly. “I never thought you were,” he replied,
reluctantly letting go of her hand. “Is there anything else I can tell you
about the place?”

Elliot opened her mouth just as
Alec entered the room. The young man wasn’t expecting to see his mother
standing with a uniformed officer and his concern, his suspicion, was instant.
Elliot read her son’s expression and hastened to clarify.

“Alec,” she said. “This is
Sheriff Nash Aury.  His family used to own the house. Sheriff Aury, this is my
son, Alec Jentry.”

Alec’s features slackened in
understanding as he took the hand extended to him. He shook it politely.

“Hi,” he said. “Nice to meet

“Nice to meet you also,” Nash
replied. “I had no idea your mother was old enough to have grown children.”

Alec just rolled his eyes as
Elliot grinned. “I have two,” she replied. “Alec is eighteen and just graduated
from high school, and my daughter Penelope is nineteen and enrolled at Tulane.”

Nash’s eyebrows lifted in
understanding. “Good school,” he said.  “It’s my alma mater so if she has any
questions, I’d be happy to answer them.”

“Thanks,” Elliot said sincerely.
“She probably will. This will be her first year.”

“I’m sure she’ll like it,” he
replied, looking between Elliot and Alec. “Did you relocate from California to
be near Tulane?”

Elliot shrugged. “Sort of,” she
said. “I’ve always wanted to live in one of these big old houses, ever since I
was young, and with Penny going to Tulane, it seemed like as good as excuse as
any. We’re looking forward to living in a completely different culture than

is,” Alec clarified.
He turned to his mother. “Hey, you need to see the layout upstairs. The rooms
are like a maze up there.”

Nash was already moving to the
main staircase. “Come on up,” he said. “Let’s continue the tour.”

Alec bolted ahead of them, taking
the winding staircase two steps at a time with his long legs. Elliot mounted
the stairs more slowly, with Nash right behind her.

“Did your husband relocate his
job also?” Nash asked.

Elliot’s warm expression faded.
“No,” she said quietly, honestly. “He passed away almost two years ago.  It’s
just me and the kids now.”

Nash came to a halt half-way up
the stairs and looked at her. “Oh, goodness,” he said softly. “I’m so sorry. I
wasn’t trying to pry.”

A semblance of a smile returned
to Elliot’s face as she paused, gazing down at his handsome face.

“You weren’t,” she said, and she
meant it. “He was a sheriff’s deputy, killed in the line of duty. That’s
probably something you can relate to.”

Nash gazed up at her, feeling a
great deal of sorrow. He didn’t even know the woman, but he felt an inherent
connection to her.  He didn’t want to convey a bunch of meaningless sympathies,
words that she’d probably already heard and wouldn’t mean a whole lot. Nothing
could replace the loss of a spouse, especially under violent circumstances. 
He’d witnessed enough of it.  Being more of the strong and silent type, he
simply nodded his head.

“I can,” he said quietly.

With a lingering glance at him,
Elliot continued up the stairs until they reached the second floor. An
enormously wide hallway opened up that stretched from the front of the house to
the rear. There were old French doors on either end, opening up to the balcony.
Alec was standing near the front of the hall as sunlight struggled to peek in
between tattered pieces of newspaper taped over the French doors.

“There are two bedrooms at the
front of the house and both of them have bathrooms attached,” he announced.
“The bathrooms look like they belong in the Smithsonian. You’ve never seen such
old stuff. Think of all of the years of crap those toilets have flushed!”

Elliot looked at Nash, who
wriggled his eyebrows somewhat apologetically at her.

“Did you know this house needed a
lot of work when you bought it?” he asked.

She nodded. “I was told that, but
the reality of it is something different. I guess I didn’t realize how
work it needed.”

“Do you want your money back?”

She laughed at him. “No way,” she
said. “This house is mine and I’m keeping it. A few old pipes aren’t going to
chase me away.”

His smile returned as he watched
her laugh; she had an incredibly attractive smile. “You haven’t seen the pipes

She shrugged, peering into the
massive front bedroom. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “I have a contractor
coming out here on Monday to give me an estimate. My main concern right now is
if the house is even habitable. If we have running water and the toilets work,
then we can stay. Otherwise, we’ll have to go to a hotel until we can get it up
to par.”

Nash walked into the bedroom and
on into the connecting bathroom.  Elliot followed, coming to a startled halt
when she saw the state of the bathroom. 

The toilet had to be eighty years
old with a big porcelain overhead reservoir, flushed by the pull of the chain. 
There was a giant claw foot bathtub against the wall, badly in need of
reglazing, as well as a pedestal basin.

Although it was all incredibly
old, she could see that, once, it had been the height of bathroom technology.
There was a definite charm to the oldness. As she inspected the bathtub, Nash
pulled the chain on the toilet and it flushed with a great groaning sound.  It
sounded as if the pipes were going to come bursting through the walls until the
water circled and drained away. When the commotion died down, they looked at
each other and grinned.

“It works,” he said with a shrug.

Elliot couldn’t help but laugh.
It was all pretty comical, all things considered. There wasn’t much she could do
about it, anyway, having bought the place sight unseen, so she was just going
to have to deal with it. Somewhere on the floor, they heard another toilet
flush and knew that Alec was inspecting, or quite possibly using, the

“I’m glad the water is at least
working,” Elliot said, “because the moving van should be here within the hour
and I want to move everything in. This is my house now and I’m staying.”

Nash regarded the woman for a
moment; she was petite and undeniably beautiful, but he sensed a steely
strength below the surface. She was a great curiosity to him and, the more he
looked at her, a great interest as well. But he didn’t want to act like a wolf
and stare at her, so he left the bathroom and wandered out into the giant

“This bedroom and the one across
the hall are the largest,” he said. “There are three more bedrooms that aren’t
quite as large.  They took the dressing rooms attached to the bedrooms, used to
store the trunks and stuff back in the old days, and turned them into bathrooms
sometime during the 1920’s. There are four of them up here. When I was a kid, I
used to come here and spend the night with my Mamaw, sleeping in one of those
smaller back bedrooms. This house was always so damn creepy to me then.”

She regarded him. “And now?”

He cast her a long look. “I’ve
gotten over my jitters for the most part.”

“Really? The ghosts don’t scare

He lifted his eyebrows in
surprise. “So Louise told you the stories?”

Elliot opened her mouth to reply
but another voice suddenly interrupted.  “Dude,” Alec was standing in the
bedroom doorway, looking rather flustered. “I swear to God that I just heard
voices in the bathroom.”

Elliot shook her head at the
young man. “No more, Alec,” she said wearily. “You already had to kill the zombies
when we came in here. I don’t want to hear about ghosts now.”

“But it’s true, I swear!”

As Elliot shook her head
irritably, Nash spoke up. “He’s probably not imagining it.”

Elliot looked at him, startled.
“What do you mean?”

“I gather from your expression
that you
heard the ghost stories.”

Elliot looked at Nash, all of the
humor gone from her face. 

“I think you’d better tell me
what’s not on the tour,” she said softly.


BOOK: American Heroes Series - 03 - Purgatory
4.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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