Read Deja Voodoo (A Cajun Magic Novel) (Entangled Suspense) Online

Authors: Elle James

Tags: #Suspense, #Romance, #romance series, #Elle James, #entangled publishing, #voodoo, #Entangled Suspense

Deja Voodoo (A Cajun Magic Novel) (Entangled Suspense) (13 page)

BOOK: Deja Voodoo (A Cajun Magic Novel) (Entangled Suspense)
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She wondered how Calliope and Sport were doing. Had they watched the movies and then gone to sleep…in separate locations? Deep down, she suspected those two were headed for heartbreak.

And she was well on her way there herself.


Keeping to the shadows, Ed slipped away from Alex’s house, hugging the edge of the bayou, moving from bush to tree to boathouse until he made his way back to the boat he’d rented from Mrs. Boyette. He’d hidden the GPS in the leg of an old pair of hip wader boots that had seen much better days.

He crouched low to the ground in the shadows and waited, listening for any sounds of movement. After a while, the crickets, cicadas, and frogs sang again, the dissonant sound blocking out everything but the rumble of trucks on the highway and the occasional bark of a lonely dog.

With the stealth of a ghost in the night, he slipped over the rim of the boat and pushed away from the bank using the wooden oar. For the first fifty yards, he paddled the small craft through the mirror-smooth water until he came to the first fork in the bayou that would lead him away from the canal that paralleled the highway and out into the maze of the bayou. When he’d rounded a bend and the town disappeared from sight, he cranked the engine and guided the pirogue to the shack on the bayou where Marcus and the Ragsdale woman waited for news from the outside world.

Rather than tie off to the rickety dock, he ran the boat up onto the shore beneath the overhanging Spanish moss. Halfway up the bank to the back porch of the shack, he tripped over a line, landing on his hands and knees, cursing to the rattle of tin cans. He grinned and stayed down until a figure emerged from the back of the shack and slipped silently toward him.

“I know, I better be Ed, or I’ll be dead,” he called out when Marcus came within range of his whispered call. “I like the early-warning system.”

“I put The Mouth to work stringing cans. Kept her busy for most of the afternoon.”

“Good thinkin’.” Ed stood and brushed the moss from his hands and jeans.

“She wanted to help me string them out there. I threatened to shoot her if she stepped one foot out of the building.”

“That trigger finger gettin’ itchier?” Ed led the way up the hill. Marcus followed, walking backward, his automatic rifle aimed toward the bayou.

“Been more traffic today than the past two.”

Ed jerked his head toward him. “Anyone suspicious?”

Marcus snorted. “Hard to say. They all look the same. Most of them had fishing poles. One boat came by with a man in it that didn’t have a fishing pole. He did have a camera and was takin’ pictures.”

“Of the shack?” Ed climbed the steps of the back porch, his hand on the doorknob.

“Yeah.”

“Not good.”

“You’re tellin’ me. I had him in my sights.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t shoot him.”

“I coulda,” Marcus said. “Alligators ’round here would have cleaned him up. Counted two in the lagoon across the channel. Don’t think the water’s quite deep enough here to have hidden his boat for long, though.”

“You scare me the way you think, you know that?” Ed chuckled and pushed the door open.

“Not much to do out here but think.”

“No shit.” Phyllis Ragsdale sat at the card table, a mirror propped between cans of beans, the Coleman lantern beside the mirror as she plucked her eyebrows. “I won’t have any brows by the time we leave this shithole.”

“Nice to see you too, Ms. Ragsdale.”

“Fuck you.”

“Had to put up with that all day.” Marcus thumbed the safety on his rifle as if he’d like to put a bullet in the witness and end everyone’s misery.

Ed really had it easy in town compared to what Marcus was dealing with.

“What do you hear on the outside?” Marcus asked.

“Need to maintain your nonexistence here in the bayou. I think things are heating up in Bayou Miste.” He filled them in on the two attacks.

“What, no bullets?” Marcus kicked a chair and the folding table out into the middle of the floor and sat, then pulled the magazine from his weapon and ejected the round from the bolt. In less time than it took to say
laissez les bon temps rouler
, he’d stripped the weapon down, laying the parts on the table in front of him. “Wouldn’t mind someone trying to make a run at this place. Beats the boredom and spending time with The Mouth.”

“Yeah, maybe someone will shoot your dumb ass,” Phyllis said, shifting her plucking from her eyebrows to the whiskers on her chin.

“Being on high ground, you’re in a better position to defend if you see them coming.” Ed glanced around at the gaudy, peeling wallpaper that had probably been glued back in the sixties. “Another thing to consider is that this shack is a prime candidate for a Molotov cocktail, served hot and wet. As old as the wood is, it would burn before you got your painted toenails out.”

“That’s one thing Trigger Happy Marcus and I agree on. We’re ready for a little action.”

“Well, you’re going to get it tomorrow. We’re making the trip to Baton Rouge for the first day of the trial.”

Marcus looked up from cleaning his weapon. “About time.”

“Thank God,” Phyllis said. “I could do with a real night’s sleep in a real bed.”

“Sorry. It might only be a preliminary hearing and you’ll be back here by the end of the night.”

“Shit.” She threw her tweezers on the table. “Tell me something I
want
to hear.”

“You’re still alive and Leon’s still in jail,” Ed said.

“Big fuckin’ whoop.” She stood and stretched, the tube top she wore sliding dangerously down over her huge breasts while her shorter-than-short shorts rose up, displaying more than he ever wanted to see of her ass.

“I’m usually good for a piece of ass,” Marcus said, squirting oil onto a cotton rag. “But not that.”

“Oh shut up, you know you want it.” Phyllis plumped her boobs, then refocused her attention on Ed. “Did you bring me chocolate today?”

“I brought you enough to last a week, the day before yesterday.”

“I got bored.” Her lips twisted. “I’ll take that as a no. No chocolate, no TV, not even a radio in this godforsaken rattrap.”

“Sorry. It was this or risk being nailed by one of your ex-boyfriend’s mercenaries.”

The woman snorted. “I’m beginning to think I should have taken my chances.”

“I better go. I’m due to go fishing in a little under an hour. The diehards will be stirring.”

“You wouldn’t want to take her with you, would you?” Marcus slid the bolt in place, reassembled the rest of the weapon, and stood. “This place would be a whole lot nicer without her mouth.”

“Hang tight. It won’t be much longer.” He rested a hand on Marcus’s shoulder.

“I’ll walk you out.”

He stepped out on the back porch, followed by Marcus. “Stay here. I can find my way back without your help.”

“Watch out for the—”

“Booby trap? I think I can find it this time.”

“You managed to step over the first one. Look out for it as well.”

“Will do.” He nodded toward the shack. “Try not to kill her, even if she deserves it.”

“I’ll do my best.” Marcus stood on the corner of the porch as Ed stepped off into the brush. Before Marcus had pointed out there were two alligators in the area, he hadn’t considered that he might run into one there. Now he was on the lookout for them. Between the alligators, mad drivers, rock launchers, the bitchy witness, and making love to a beautiful woman and then leaving her to defend herself—guilt formed a knot in his chest—he wasn’t getting much sleep.

But then, he could sleep when this was over. Or when he was dead…

Chapter Twelve

Alex didn’t see Ed all day. He didn’t show up at the gym, and he hadn’t called. After the first two nights of great sex, she’d practically come to expect there’d be more.

The meeting with the hospital administrator netted a contract that would make her a tidy profit she could use to reinvest in additional equipment and resources. But a successful business coup didn’t have the same thrill as it had a week ago. Not when all she could think about was Ed and how great he’d been with the kids the night before, not to mention how incredible it had been making love on her kitchen table. She’d never eat another meal there without thinking about it.

“Wow, you really have it bad.” Harry waved a hand in front of her face. “I’ve been talking to you for two whole minutes and you haven’t heard a word I’ve said.”

“Sorry.” She pulled her ponytail out and ran her fingers through her hair. “I guess I’m tired.”

“Late night with Mr. Marceau?” Harry’s grin was sly. “Did you get that bruise performing mattress gymnastics?”

“Harry!”

Harry laughed, then her smile faded. “You haven’t told me how you got that bruise. Did he hit you? Because if he did, he’ll have me and the rest of our family to answer to.”

Alex smiled, touching her chin. “No, he didn’t hit me. Some teen lobbed a rock through my window. I just happened to catch it with my chin.”


Coo wee!
The jerkwad.” Harry tipped her face to the light. “What’s with kids these days? Mom made note of the fact Ed didn’t return to his cabin all night. Was he staying to protect you from the creep?”

“Great. The woman’s too nosy for her own good. Mom’s going to get her hopes all built up, and for what?” She rolled her eyes. “A big fat nothing. He’s only into me for a vacation fling. And I’m not interested in anything more than that, either.”

“So you keep saying. But are you sure? You’ve been more distracted than I’ve ever seen you since he showed up.”

“It’s this hospital deal. I’ve been keyed up over it.”

“Yeah, right. You didn’t even stutter or hesitate when you gave your pitch. I was so proud of you.”

“I internalized the nerves.” In fact, her head had barely been in the game. If she hadn’t had the gym in top shape with the help of her team, they might have walked away.

“No, you were thinking about Ed.” Harry raised a hand. “Don’t try to feed me another line.”

“Are we eating lines now? Is it some kind of new diet? I could use one, I’ve put on a pound or two in the last couple of days.”

Calliope entered the gym office, Sport in tow. “Leapin’ lily pads, what happened to you?”

With a sigh, Alex touched her chin. “It’s a long story. The bigger question is where the heck have you two been?” She glared at her friend. “Have you decided to move Sport into your place permanently?”

“I would, if you’d let me.” Calliope grinned and hugged Sport’s arm. “We had the best time watching movies into the wee hours.” She yawned. “I’ll be worthless at work. Speaking of which, I promised Sport you’d bring him to the Raccoon Saloon tonight.”

She groaned. “Why did you do that? I’m too tired to think, much less go out.”

“Please.” Calliope grabbed Alex’s hand. “Sport’s never been there and we don’t know when or if he’ll get another chance. He isn’t going to be in town for long.”

She hoped
.

Sport gazed at her with a hint of the sad-dog look in his brown eyes. “Please.”

“Guess who’s going out tonight?” Harry laughed and headed for the door.

“Oh, no you don’t. If I have to go, you’re coming with me!” Alex called out.

“I’ll dust off my cowboy boots.” Harry waved without turning back.

Calliope pressed a kiss to Sport’s cheek before heading out to go home and get ready for work.

Alex had promised her mother she’d bring pizza home for the family. She placed her order and picked it up before leaving Morgan City. Looking forward to a quiet drive back to Bayou Miste, Alex was instead bombarded with one question after another. It seemed Sport wanted to know everything as fast as he could think to ask.

“What is blue? How do cars work? Where do babies come from?”

By the time they pulled up in front of her mother’s house, Alex’s patience had been exhausted.

Her mother opened the front door for her and Sport. “Oh, Alex, thank you for bringing dinner. The kids were about ready to gnaw on the furniture.”

Alex carried in four large boxes while Sport carried the other four, and they set them in the middle of the table.

“Who’s not coming?” Alex asked after counting the number of settings at the table. Harry had called her before she’d gotten to Bayou Miste and said she’d had to take the late shift at the gym for a sick employee. Truman had his own place in Morgan City and didn’t come to dinner often.

“Abe and GW called and said they had other plans, and Dolley and Madison are staying late at the plantation for a special event.”

“Will Ed be eating with us?” Teddy asked, saving Alex from letting her mother know she cared.

“No,
ma cher
,” she patted her young daughter’s hair. “He said he had plans, but thanks anyway.”

“I wonder what plans he had,” Alex said absently.

“Interested?” Her mother smiled. When she frowned in return, her mother went on to say, “He mentioned something about heading to Baton Rouge tomorrow and needing to take care of some business before going.” Her mother sighed. “It’s too bad, I was getting used to having him at the dinner table, and the kids like him, too.” She glanced across the table at her. “You two didn’t have a fight, did you?”

“Why would we have a fight? It’s not like we’re dating or anything.” She didn’t look her mother in the eye and her ears burned.
Mais, it was the truth.
They weren’t dating. You couldn’t call a night of plumbing and taking a herd of kids to the festival anything like a date.

“Oh, Alex, you did, didn’t you?”

“No, Mom. We didn’t argue.” She glanced at her watch. “I have to go. Calliope made me promise to take Sport out to the saloon tonight. I want to get there before the crowd to get a seat.”

Her mother kissed her cheek. “Ed’s a good guy. You should give him a chance, honey.”

She sighed and hugged her mother. “I know. But he’s not here tonight and I have to go.”

“At least you’re not saying no.
Mais
, have a good time,
ma cher
.” Before she left the room, her mother had pizza on the plates of the youngest Boyettes and was taking her seat. The woman could have run an army, she was so efficient.

As Alex stepped out the door, Granny Saulnier’s poodle, FeFe, ran by, the hot pink supplanted by Day-Glo orange.

Sport tensed and leaped off the porch after the poodle.

“Sport!” Alex ran after him and waited until she’d gotten out of hearing range of her mother’s house before yelling, “Sport! Heel!”

He ground to a halt, his entire body quivering.

“Come,” she said, using all the commands her mother had taught by example.

Sport’s head dipped and he turned toward her. “Sport bad?”

“Yes,” she said, but couldn’t stay mad at him. Not when he looked so forlorn with those sad, puppy dog eyes. “What are we going to do with you,
cher
?”

“Sport like FeFe.”

“I know.” She hooked his arm with hers. “Do you miss being a dog?”

“Sport love Callipuppy.”

“Oh, dear. No, Sport, you can’t. Even though you’re a man now, you’ll go back to being a dog when the spell wears off.”

He tipped his head. “Sport not understand.”

“Never mind. Let’s go have some fun. It might be the first and last time you get to go to a saloon.”

He perked up. “Callipuppy there?”

Alex could almost imagine his floppy reddish-brown ears rising. Her heart wrenched. She missed having her golden retriever greet her when she arrived home, all happy and excited, begging for a treat.

She led Sport back to her car and drove to her house, where she unloaded a medium-sized pizza she’d bought to put in the freezer and eat the next day. Since she hadn’t had the heart to sit at her mother’s dinner table without Ed being there, she opened the box, pulled out two plates, and ate with Sport.

When they were finished, she changed, straightened her hair, applied a bit of makeup to her bare face, and helped Sport choose something to wear out that night from a selection of three outfits Calliope had bought for him.

They arrived at the Raccoon Saloon a little after nine o’clock. Music vibrated through the building into the night.

Sport was bobbing his head to the beat like he’d done as dog. Even then, he’d enjoyed music. She grabbed his arm and pasted a smile on her face. Tomorrow she’d head into Baton Rouge if she had to in order to get Lucie to undo the spell. Sport might as well have fun on his last night as a human.

The place was hopping with a zydeco band playing traditional Cajun music, upbeat and crazy. She tried to get in the mood, but fell short.

Sport spotted Calliope as she carried a tray of empty beer mugs. She was as beautiful as ever, wearing a pretty pink halter top and a long floral skirt, with her wild red curls pulled over one shoulder in a loose ponytail.

Breaking free of Alex’s hold, Sport made a beeline for her. She dropped her tray on the counter and wrapped her arms around his neck as he hugged her around the middle and swung her around.

Alex sighed. She wished she could find that carefree exuberance that Calliope and Sport seemed to have. Their happiness to see each other made her want to go back home and crawl into a gallon of rocky road ice cream.

Calliope guided Sport to an empty stool at the bar and set a beer mug in front of him.

Alex groaned, wondering what reaction his new man-body would have to alcohol. She hoped he wouldn’t turn out to be an angry drunk. She glanced around as the bar filled with locals stopping by for a beer and a little fun after a hard day’s work. Most of the men worked at Littington Refineries and still wore their work overalls with Littington embroidered on the chest.

She half hoped she’d see Ed there among the familiar faces. But then her mother had said he had business to take care of before he headed to Baton Rouge the following day. Hadn’t he said he was from New Orleans? What business would he have in Baton Rouge? Unless he’d been called in to mediate a special case. But in the middle of his vacation?

She still couldn’t help but think that some things about Ed Marceau didn’t add up. Next time she saw him—if there was a next time—she’d try to get her questions answered. Like why did a mediator need to carry a gun? And last night, why had he slipped away from her house like a special agent in a spy movie?

She slid onto the stool beside Sport and lifted the longneck beer Calliope set on the counter in front of her. “What if I’d wanted draft tonight?”

Calliope shook her head. “You always get the longneck. Face it, Alex, you’re predictable.”

Predictable?
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.” She couldn’t help being defensive. She prided herself on her orderly existence. It had earned her a degree in marketing, a business, and a house she was paying for, all by herself. “Predictable gets results.”

Calliope rolled her eyes. “Haven’t you ever wanted to do something rash? Something you hadn’t thought through completely?”

Like making love to Ed?
“I have. A couple times.” Lately.

“I’ll bet you thought it to death afterward and talked yourself out of doing it again.” Calliope flipped her long, loose ponytail over her other shoulder and smiled. “You really need to let go and go with the flow. Let your spirit guide you. Listen to what’s inside your heart, not your head.”

“And fall in love with a dog?” She snorted.

Calliope frowned. “At least I
let
myself fall in love.” She flicked her skirt with as much anger as her happy spirit could muster, grabbed a full tray of drinks, and went back to work.

“Why you make Callipuppy mad?”

Already regretting her words, Alex lifted her beer to her lips. “I know I shouldn’t be ugly. Calliope’s my friend.
You’re
my friend. I should be happy you two have found each other.” She turned around on her stool and stared out at the crowd.

“Alex sad?”

“Maybe.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.”

“Alex love Ed?”

She turned to Sport. “Why would you say that?” she raised her finger. “And don’t tell me you smelled it.”

Sport’s brows wrinkled and he tipped his head like he did when he was trying to figure something out. “Alex and Ed are like Callipuppy and Sport.” He smiled, his open, how-easy-is-this grin. “Love.”

“It isn’t that simple.”

“Why?”

“Alex can’t have Ed.” She shook her head. Now she was talking like Sport. “When he leaves, he won’t come back.”

“Why?”

“He doesn’t live in Bayou Miste.”

“Then be with Ed where Ed lives.”

“I can’t.” Alex sighed. “I live here.”

“Why?”

Why, indeed?

Calliope sailed over to the bar, her cheerful face glowing brighter every time she looked at Sport. “I’m on break.” She set her tray down and grabbed Sport’s hand. “Come dance with me.”

Sport let her drag him to the dance floor where she taught him how to two-step. The band took a break and the jukebox took over. Within five minutes they were circling the floor to a country song. They looked like they belonged together. Happy and in love.

Another sigh escaped Alex, and as much as it hurt to witness their happiness, she couldn’t drag her gaze away. The music slowed and Calliope wrapped her arms around Sport’s neck and leaned her cheek against his chest. He held her around her middle and rested his face against the side of her hair, closing his eyes. When the song ended, Calliope leaned up on her toes, cupped Sport’s face and kissed him. From where she sat, it appeared Sport was kissing her back. Another song started up and the couple resumed swaying, oblivious to everyone else dancing by them in a flowing waltz.

“Dance wit’ me, Alex,” a voice said next to her. “Or be you too good for ol’ Theo?”

A chunk of lead hit the pit of her belly. She turned to stare up into Theo’s eyes. The man reeked of too much alcohol and sweat.

BOOK: Deja Voodoo (A Cajun Magic Novel) (Entangled Suspense)
6.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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