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) (15 page)

BOOK: Deja Voodoo (A Cajun Magic Novel) (Entangled Suspense)
7.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Marcus glared at the woman in the backseat. “You are no lady. You’re a—”

“As soon as it’s dark,” Ed cut in, “we’ll take you back out to the bayou and you can stretch, drink, and pee to your heart’s content.”

“I don’t want to go back to the bayou. It’s dirty, buggy, and…and…un-air-conditioned!”

“And you might stay alive a day longer there than in the city,” Ed said, his voice less strained. The sun was setting and they had been driving down back roads with grass growing so close to the edges the roads appeared as if they hadn’t been used in decades. Every once in a while, they stopped in a pullout or overgrown driveway to cool the engine and stretch. The last stop had been over an hour ago, and even he was ready to get the hell out of the car.

As the sun set and the stars started popping out against the black backdrop of sky, he turned the car toward Bayou Miste, slipped onto the first side street, and parked behind an empty building. “Tighten your vests.”

Phyllis shrank against the backseat, showing the first signs of fear since leaving Baton Rouge. “You think they’ll be gunnin’ for me here?”

“We don’t know, but there’s only one way to find out.” Marcus climbed out and held the door for her. “Let’s go.”

Ed and Marcus flanked her as they hurried across the street and down the bank of the canal to where they’d tied off the pirogue.

The boat ride back to the shack in the swamp passed without incident and very little talking. Phyllis insisted on sitting at the bottom of the boat, as low to the water as she could get without getting in. When they arrived at the shack, Marcus took the lead and cleared the building before they stepped one foot inside.

By the time Ed returned to Bayou Miste, collected the car, and drove to the rental cottage beside the Boyette house, he was tired and ready to hit the sack for some much-needed rest. He glanced down the street, wishing he could see all the way to Alex’s house.

Was she awake? Would she let him in, if he were to knock on her door? After everything that had happened that day, all he wanted was to feel her in his arms.

He pushed thoughts of going straight to Alex’s house from his mind, climbed out of his car and headed for the rental house that had become more of a home to him than his apartment back in Baton Rouge.

A movement on the porch made him reach for his gun, setting his senses on alert.

“Is that a gun in your hand, or are you happy to see me?” Alex’s chuckle drifted to him on the warm, moist night air, wrapping around him like the scent of honeysuckle.

He holstered his weapon. “What are you doing here, sitting alone in the dark?”

“Waiting for you to come back.”

“What if I hadn’t?”

“I guess I’d have gone home.” She rose from the steps and waited for him to close the distance. “You look tired.”

“It’s been a rough day.”

“Wanna tell me about it?”

“No, I want to know why you left the saloon last night without saying anything to me.”

“As soon as I did, I wished I hadn’t. Too many things hit me all at once and…and”—she raised her shoulders—“I ran.”

“What things?”

“Things like realizing I was beginning to care too much about you.” She smiled, tears trembling on her lashes. “I was scared.”

“That would make two of us, then.” He stood in front of her, wanting to take her into his arms, but realized that if she was scared of her feelings, she had to make the first move.

Alex held her arms open.

He walked into them and hugged her for a long time. Her body melted against his, fitting perfectly. He would have stayed that way much longer, but the events of the day kept coming back to him, like a car’s factory-installed warning light that couldn’t be turned off. “Let’s go inside.”

She didn’t resist, taking his hand as they climbed the steps. “I know we haven’t known each other that long, but I missed you today.”

He unlocked the door, pulled her through, and locked it behind her, then pressed her against the door and kissed her.

Her hands slid behind his head and she leaned into him, opening to the thrust of his tongue, sliding her leg alongside his.

When he had to come up for air, he peppered tiny kisses along her cheekbone to her ear and down the side of her neck. He couldn’t get enough.

She laughed and feathered her fingers through his hair. “I’ve wanted to do this all day long. I’d been counting the minutes until you came back.”

He leaned back and gazed into her blue eyes. “After you left the saloon last night without saying anything, I thought you were done with me. What made you change your mind?”

“A very wise woman told me not to let life pass me by out of some mistaken sense of duty.” Alex smiled. “I decided it was time to start living for me.”

“And how do I fit in this picture?”

Her face shined up at him. “I feel alive when I’m with you. More alive than I’ve felt in a long time.”

He cupped her cheeks, his heart melting at the sparkle in her eyes. “You don’t know me.”

“But I want to.” Alex turned her face to his palm and kissed it.

“What if you don’t like me when you
do
get to know who I am?”

“I’ll take that risk.”

“That’s pretty bold for someone who craves structure in her life.”

“I’m turning over a new leaf. I even rearranged the towels in my bathroom so that nothing is stacked according to the color.”

He gave a half grin. “Big step for a control freak.”

“Hey.” She slapped him playfully on the shoulder. “It is, for me.”

He leaned his forehead against hers. “Like I said, this has been a rough day.”

She stiffened beneath him. “If you’d rather I left and let you get some rest, I will.”

“No. Please, stay and let me finish.” He brushed his thumb across her cheek, loving how soft and silky her skin was. “Even during the worst parts of my day, I couldn’t stop thinking about you.”

Her brows wrinkled. “In a good way or a bad way?”

He chuckled. “Definitely in a good way.” His smile faded. “The problem is that right now, I can’t afford to think about you.”

“What do you mean?” She gazed at him, her light-blue eyes darkening to gray. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“There are things you don’t know about me, but I can’t tell you right now.”

“I was right.” She pushed against him. “You’re married.”

“No. I’m single. In fact, some, including your brother, would call me a confirmed bachelor.”

She stopped struggling and rested her palms against his chest, frowning. “And are you? Confirmed?”

“Until I met you.” He kissed the tip of her nose and she stood on her toes to kiss his lips.

He returned the kiss, then gripped her arms and set her at arm’s length. “Give me time. I have something to take care of before I can think of us.”

“If you told me what it was, maybe I could help.”

“No.” He wanted to tell her the truth, but the more she knew the more she would become a target of Leon’s band of murderers. “I can’t. You have to trust me.”

She sucked in a breath and let it out slowly. “Okay. We’ll do this your way.” Her fingers tightened in his shirt and she pulled him close until they were nose to nose. “But know this. When I want something badly enough, I don’t give up easily.”

He laughed and brushed his lips across her full, sensuous mouth. “Baby, I’m counting on it.”

This time when they kissed, he let himself believe there would be another time for them. After the trial. After his job here was done.

Tires squealed outside and a loud crash put him on instant alert. He shoved Alex to the floor and crouched there with her.

“What the hell was that?” Alex cried.

The scent of gasoline filled the air and smoke filtered in with it. “Fire. Stay there.” He leaped to his feet and ran into the living room of the little house. The front window had a gaping, jagged hole and the old sofa was drenched in gasoline and fire. The fire was spreading quickly. He grabbed a throw pillow and beat at the flames, but the gasoline had soaked into the cushions and no amount of beating was going to stop the fire from spreading. It swept to the filmy curtains beside the window and licked at the ancient wallpaper.

“Leave it.” Alex grabbed his arm and dragged him toward the door.

He couldn’t let her go out the front for fear it was a trap. Someone could be out there waiting to shoot at them as they made a run for it. He turned her toward the rear of the house and ran for the back door as smoke filled the interior.

As they fell through the back door, he tucked her protectively into the curve of his arm and ran with her to her mother’s house.

Barbara Boyette met them at the back door, her phone in her hand, the children gathered behind her, eyes rounded like saucers and scared. “I called 911. They’re sending a fire truck from Morgan City. They’ll be here as soon as they can. Unfortunately, our volunteer brigade disbanded due to funding two years ago. It’ll be fifteen minutes at the very least.”

Ed shoved Alex into her mother’s arms. “Keep her here and stay inside until I come back. Don’t follow me. Do you understand? “

Alex and her mother both nodded.

He made a wide circle around the two houses, checking all the shadowy bushes and dark corners of buildings for anyone lurking, ready to take a shot at him or anyone else. When he felt comfortably sure whoever had thrown the homemade firebomb at the house had gone, he ran back to the Boyette house and slipped inside.

“It’s okay,” he told them. “Whoever did it is gone. But if that fire spreads to the trees, it could put your house in danger. We need to gather all the hoses you have.”

Alex led him to the burning house and located the hoses on the outside, while Mrs. Boyette put her army of children to work collecting buckets and hoses around her house.

They sprayed the exterior of the Boyette house and fought back any burning embers that strayed in their direction.

Calliope and Sport came running up.

“We were awake, watching old reruns, when we saw the sky light up.” Calliope swept a hand out, taking in the disaster. “
Coo wee!
We never thought it was your mom’s house. We came to help.” She and Sport started a bucket brigade. Joe Thibodeaux, Mozelle Reneau, and Oscar Mills, the retired DEA agent, joined the fight, along with other neighbors. It seemed as if the inhabitants of Bayou Miste all teamed up to save the Boyette house from destruction.

By the time the fire engine arrived, the rental cottage was too far gone to save, but the Boyette house stood as strong and intact as ever. Firefighters hooked up giant hoses to the hydrants and sprayed a steady stream of water at the core of the fire, pumping hundreds of gallons of water onto the flames.

Alex and her mother herded the children away from both houses, maintaining a strict head count throughout. Friends and neighbors stood by, watching as the house burned and the firemen fought the blaze.

Ed glanced around at the throng, knowing that arsonists liked to lurk on the fringes and witness the destruction of their handiwork. It gave them a sense of power. He scanned the faces in the crowd of neighbors and onlookers, searching for anyone who looked different. It was then that he spotted someone he recognized who didn’t fit in with the other residents of Bayou Miste.

“Alex,” he whispered into her ear and laid a hand on her shoulder. “Is that Theo Ledet standing in the shadow of the house down the street?”

Alex turned the way he directed and scanned the street. “Yes, it is.”

“If I remember correctly, he doesn’t live in Bayou Miste, does he?”

“No, but he likes to come down from Morgan City to the Raccoon Saloon.” She stiffened. “You think he did this?”

His hand dropped to his side. “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.” He slipped behind the crowd and walked along the other side of the street that paralleled the bayou until he was across from the house where Theo hid.

As he crossed the street, Theo spotted him, his face blanched, and he ran.

Ed took off after him. In his peripheral vision, he saw Oscar Mills leap from the front porch of his rental and run straight for Theo.

Theo dodged the former agent, but Ed tackled the younger man to the ground, yanked his arm up behind him, and pinned it between his shoulder blades.

“You got him?” Mills asked.

“Got ’im,” he answered. “Thanks.”

“Good, ’cause I couldn’t have done much more than that.” Mills bent over his knees and sucked air into his lungs. “Damn, I’m out of shape.”

Alex caught up with them, breathing fast. She stood with her fists on her hips, looking like a warrior ready to rip into the man on the ground. With her eyes burning bright and twin flashes of color in her cheeks, she was so beautiful Ed almost let go of his captive to kiss her.

“Theo Ledet, did you burn my mama’s rent house down?”

“No.” Theo grunted as Ed pushed his arm up higher. “No, I didn’t.”

“If you didn’t do it, why the hell did you run?” Alex crossed her arms. “Stinks like guilt to me.”

Ed pushed the arm even higher. “Tell the truth. They can pull prints off the bottle you threw. You won’t get away with it.”

The man strained beneath him, his face streaked with sweat. “Okay, okay. I did it.”

He jerked the man’s arm, anger burning in his gut. “That fire could have
killed
Alex. It could have spread to her family’s home, injured one of her siblings.” He practically growled, “I told you to leave Alex alone.”

“I was a gonna, but dat man paid me damn good money to do it.”

His heart skipped a beat and he leaned closer to Theo. “What man?”

“The one at the Raccoon Saloon. He paid me to start de fi-yuh.”

“What’d he look like?” Ed demanded.

“Like a businessman, wearing pressed pants and de polo shirt. Older. White hair.” Theo groaned. “Let up on de arm and I’ll tell ya more.”

He eased the man’s arm down a fraction. “Talk.”

“He wanted me to distract you.”

“Why?”

“I don know. He asked ’bout airboats and guides to get out in de bayou.”

“What did you tell him?” Ed demanded, his hand tightening on the man’s arm.

“I tol’ him ’bout Thibodeaux. He wanted a different guide, someone not from Bayou Miste. So I tol’ him ’bout my cousin what live up de road toward Morgan City. He don’ have no airboat, but knows someone what do.”

BOOK: Deja Voodoo (A Cajun Magic Novel) (Entangled Suspense)
7.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Never Happened by Debra Webb
Three Cheers for...Who? by Nancy Krulik
Challenge to Him by Lisabet Sarai
The Sixth Idea by P. J. Tracy
Playing With Fire by Tess Gerritsen
The Summer I Learned to Dive by McCrimmon, Shannon
The Berlin Crossing by Brophy, Kevin