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) (5 page)

BOOK: Deja Voodoo (A Cajun Magic Novel) (Entangled Suspense)
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“Since you didn’t cancel on Mom, we can’t until after dinner.” She pinched the bridge of her nose to ward off the headache threatening to explode there.

“Then I guess we’re stuck.” Calliope sat on the other end of the couch. Sport dropped to the floor beside her and laid his head on her knee. She patted his hair, smoothing her fingers through the reddish-gold strands.

“So how did it go today?” Alex asked again.

Calliope grinned broadly. “We made progress.”

“What do you mean, progress?”

Still petting Sport’s head, she continued, “Since Sport is physically a man, I’ve been teaching him how to act like one.” She sat forward and patted the seat beside her. “Sport, sit.”

Sport glanced up, his dark eyes gleaming. He pushed up to his hands and knees and stood, then plopped on the couch, like a sloppy teen.

“Good boy.” Calliope pulled something out of her pocket, unwrapped it and popped it into his mouth.

As Sport chewed, his eyelids drooped and he leaned into Calliope with a sigh.

“What did you give him?” Alex asked.

“Chocolate.” Calliope dug another out of her pocket and tossed it to her.

Alex caught it with one hand. “You’re not supposed to feed dogs chocolate.”

“But he’s not a dog.” Calliope jumped up, grabbed Sport’s hand, and pulled him to his feet. “And come see what else we’ve been working on.”

Convinced she was living in some really bizarre nightmare, Alex dragged herself out of the lounge chair and followed her friend to the kitchen table.

“Look what Sport can do.” Calliope handed the man a fork and stuck a plate of spaghetti in front of him.

“Are those my leftovers from Saliano’s? I was going to take them for lunch today and completely forgot.”


Shh
. Let him show you his new trick.” Calliope stood beside Sport. “Eat.”

He glanced up at Calliope and down at the plate. His hand shook and the fork tilted sideways as he dug into the spaghetti, then lifted it to his face. Some of the spaghetti made it into his mouth, some landed on his lap. But he smiled as he chewed.

“Good boy.” Calliope patted his head and brushed a napkin across his cheek. “And he can talk.”

“You’re kidding me.”

“No, listen.” Calliope took the fork from him and laid it on the table. “What’s your name?”

“Woof!”

Alex shook her head with a groan. “I don’t know why you’re bothering.”

“No, really, he can do it.” Calliope faced Sport and bent to get at eye-level with him. “What’s your name?”

Sport stared from Calliope to Alex.

“It’s okay,” Alex said.

He turned to Calliope and puckered his lips. “Sport!” The sound was more like a bark, but he’d done it. He’d said his name.

Alex’s brows shot up. “
Wow
. For a dog that just became a man last night, I’d say he’s making progress. Can he say anything else?”

“He knows six words.” Calliope waved a hand at her. “You try. Say hi to him.”

Feeling silly, as if she was talking to a child when the figure before her was clearly a man, she said, “Hi.”

“Hi!” Sport said in immediate response and so forcefully, Alex jerked back and laughed.

“Very good boy.” She reached out and caught herself before she patted his head.

“He can say bye, please, thank you, and good.”

“I am impressed. All in one day?”

“Just think what he could do in a week.”

She shook her head. “He’s not going to be human for a week. Not if I can get hold of Madame LeBieu or Lucie.”

Calliope’s smile faded. “Ah, but I like Sport like this.”

“You liked him as a dog.”

“But this way I have a man to hang around with.” She smiled again. “And he’s pretty darned good-looking for a man, don’t you think?”

Sport smiled, baring shiny white teeth.

“Still, it’s not fair to Sport to be stuck in a man’s body. He’s not cut out to live as a human, and we don’t know how long the spell will last. If you teach him how to be human, how will he feel when he goes back to being a dog?”

Calliope pouted. “Ah, Alex, you take all the fun out of things.”

She pulled Calliope into a hug. “I’m sorry. It’s the practical side of me. The one that took care of over a dozen siblings for years.”

“And here you are, trying to take care of me.” Calliope sighed and stared down at Sport sitting so naturally at the table. “And Sport.”

“I’ll give my mother a call and see if I can talk our way out of dinner with the family.”

“Good idea. Maybe you’ll have better luck than I did. I can’t say no to your mother.”

“I think she’s got some Voodoo magic in her.” Alex headed back to her purse in the hallway, calling over her shoulder, “No one can say no to her.” She dug her phone out of the bottom and hit the speed dial for “Mom,” noting all the missed calls she’d had from her. And Theo.

Lord. Why couldn’t he get it through his thick head she wasn’t interested?

“Hello,” a bright female voice answered.

“Let me speak to Mom,” she demanded.

“Nice. I’m home for one day and my big sis doesn’t even say hello. I see how it is.”

Alex prided herself on recognizing each of her sibling’s voices over the phone. As the oldest daughter, she was always the one calling to remind them of someone’s birthday. “Sorry, Amelia. When did you get in?”

“I drove up from New Orleans this morning. I’ll be here a few days.”

“Good. Why don’t you come by the gym while you’re in town?”

“I will. I could use a good workout.”

“Is Mom around?”

“No.”

“No? Where is she?” Her hope of getting out of dinner dwindling, she stared across the room at Calliope and Sport.

“She should be back any minute. Had to run a pot of soup to Mrs. Badeaux. Apparently she’s laid up with the gout.”

“Tell her to call me when she gets back, please.”

“Why don’t you talk to her when you come to dinner?”

Because I don’t want to come to dinner.
Alex bit down on her tongue. She hadn’t seen Amelia for several months.

“Oh, wait.” Her sister laughed. “You don’t
want
to come to dinner, do you?”

She sighed. “How’d you guess?”

“Dolley and Madison told me about the man Mom’s got lined up for you.”

“So it
is
another matchmaking attempt. I knew it.”

Amelia chuckled softly. “Dolley and Madison were all excited. They said he’s really cute. Even I’m looking forward to meeting him.”

“Good. You can have him. I’m perfectly happy single.”

“Honey, you’re preaching to the choir. But Mom means well.”

“I know. I’ve just had something come up, and well…” How did she explain over the phone about her dog becoming a man? No one would believe it.

“The only way you’re going to get Mom off your back is to bring a guy home.”

As if a lightbulb went off in her head, she stood with the phone in her hand, staring straight ahead, ideas exploding within.

“Alex? Did I say something wrong?”

“No. No, you didn’t. In fact, you said something so right, I can’t believe I didn’t see it for myself.”

“What did I say?”

“Nothing. Just tell Mom I’ll be there for dinner.”

“I’m taking it that it’s not on my account, although I’ll be happy enough to see you.”

“Of course I’m coming for you, sweetie.”
And to parade a man in front of Mom to show her I’m capable of getting one on my own
. Perhaps Lucie’s Voodoo was exactly what she’d sold it as, the answer to her prayers, her dreams come true. “And tell her to set an extra plate at the table.”

Finally, she’d get her mother off her back.

She clicked the cell phone off and called out, “Calliope, we’ve got work to do if we’re going to dinner at Mom’s house.”

Chapter Five

Ed stepped into the marina shop just before five o’clock in the evening, hoping to catch Joe Thibodeaux before he called it a day.

A white-haired man stood behind the counter, digging through a box of what looked like junk.

“Mr. Thibodeaux?” he called out.

“Ain’t no mister here,” the older man grumbled, and jerked his hand out of the box, a hook buried in his thumb. “Name’s Joe.”

“Joe.” Ed closed the distance. “Need help getting that out?”

“Got it.” Joe jerked the hook out and stuck the bleeding thumb into his mouth. “What can I do for ya?”

“I need a fishing guide.”


Mais
now, maybe I can help you out.” Joe studied him. “What kind of fish are you hopin’ to catch?”

Thinking back to his encounter with Theo Ledet, he answered, “Largemouth bass.”

“Been bitin’ pretty good back in Bayou Black.” Joe rubbed his thumb on his jeans. “Wanna go with a group or solo?”

Being in a group would advertise his inexperience. “Solo.”

Joe set the box on the floor and straightened. “When you figurin’ on going out?”

Ben had said something about the locals knowing the optimal times to fish, and Joe was supposed to be one of the best guides around. “I understand you’re the expert in these parts. What time is good for you?”

“Anytime’s a good time for me. But if you wanna catch largemouth bass, the water levels will be right in the early morning or late at night. Gotcha some spinners or buzz bait?”

He had no idea what the man was talking about, but didn’t want to let on. “Not yet. I have my pole but hoped to get bait here.” He glanced around the dingy interior of the marina. Racks of every kind of lure, hook, line, and bait stretched before him in a daunting array. “You’ve been fishing these bayous, Joe, I trust your knowledge. What works for you?” With a quick glance at the older man, he let go of the breath he’d been holding throughout the whole bait question.

Joe led him down the aisle and picked out several spinners and buzz bait combinations. At least, that’s what he assumed they were. “These oughta work. And if you plan on catching flathead catfish while we’re out, you’ll want some of these.” He pulled a plastic container from the glass-front refrigerator on the side wall, opened it, and grabbed a couple of balls of something nasty-looking.

The stench nearly knocked him to his knees. Eyes watering, he pulled his shirt up over his nose. “What the hell is that?”

“Best stink bait in south Louisiana.” Joe’s leaned his nose over the container and sniffed. “My own recipe. Stinks like hell. Just the way catfish like it.”

A recipe Ed had no intention of ever using. “I’ll stick to bass for now, thank you.”

Joe shrugged. “Missing out on some good catfishing. Mozelle Reneau has a mighty fine recipe for fried catfish and okra. Might even get her to fix up a mess, if you get a hankerin’ while you’re here.”

“Thanks, but I’m just here to fish.” He didn’t think he could ever eat catfish again, knowing what these people used for bait. “Bass fishing, if it’s all the same to you.”

Joe sealed the lid on the stink bait container and placed it back in the refrigerator. “So when do you want to head out?”

“How early is early morning?”

“We’d leave at five. Gotta be here by four forty-five to stow your gear.”

He was really wishing he’d been volunteered for any other job but this one about now. “Then I guess I’ll see you at four forty-five tomorrow morning.”

When he walked out of the marina with his purchases, Joe strolled out with him, locking the door behind him. “Speaking of fried catfish…” The marina owner tipped his nose into the air.

Ed did the same, and the scent of fried fish made his stomach turn over. Yuck.

“That would be my dinner callin’ me,” Joe said.

A four-door Ford Fusion pulled up to a house two doors down from the marina. A gray-haired man got out, reached into the backseat, and pulled out a small suitcase.

“Another tourist?” Ed asked, trying for casual curiosity.

“Yup. Called this mornin’ looking for a cottage to rent. Just lucky I had a cancellation or he’d be out of luck.”

“Is he from around here?”

“Said he’s from New Orleans. We get a lot of folks out from New Orleans. They like to get away from the hustle and bustle.” Joe’s lips twisted. “I certainly understand that. Usta live there myself.”

“You did?” He faced the older man, sure he was pulling his leg. He acted as if he was part of the bayou, born and bred.

“You’d never know it by looking at me, but I was a highfalutin lawyer back in the day.”

Huh
. “And you gave it up for this?”

“Damn right I did.” Joe scratched his scraggly beard. “Ain’t never looked back.”

“Why?”

“You know what lawyers are like.” Joe hitched his jeans. “It just wasn’t me.”

Having gone up against some of the slimiest attorneys Louisiana had to offer, Ed nodded. But then, he wasn’t sure he got the lure of the bayou.
Not yet
. So far, it was hot, steamy, and full of insects and other, even less savory creatures. The sooner Leon Primeaux went to trial, the sooner the Ragsdale woman could leave the swamp, and him with her.

“The man say why he’s here?” Ed asked.

Joe rocked back on his heels, digging his hands into the back pockets of his faded, ragged jeans. “Same as you.”

He did a double take before he realized what Joe was talking about. “Avid fisherman, huh?”


Mais
, he said he was looking for some good fishing.” Joe’s mouth twisted. “Not sure about avid. Have ta wait and see.”

“Has he hired a guide yet?”

“I asked him, but he said he just needed a boat, no guide.” Joe’s brows dipped. “Don’t like renting my boats until I know whoever’s taking it knows his way around the swamp. Mr. Mills said he can get around on his own. Hope I don’t have ta go lookin’ for him.”

Interesting. A tourist wanting to get out on the bayou by himself. Ed made a note to keep an eye on the man. “Mills, huh? A common enough name.”

“First name’s not so common.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Oscar.” Ed shook his head. “Reminds me of one of those kids’ puppet shows on TV.” Joe hitched up his pants. “I better get going. Don’t want to be late to Miz Mozelle’s dinner table. See you in the morning.”

Ed glanced at his watch. He had enough time before dinner to get back to his cottage and make a call to Ben.

He made it to the rental without being accosted by alligators or Boyettes. As soon as he entered, he placed a call to Ben, leaving a message for him to run a search on Oscar Mills, assuming that was his real name.

With thirty minutes left to kill, he thought he might try to figure out what the hell all this stuff was he was expected to know what to do with at the butt-freakin’-crack of dawn.

He sat on the front porch and spread out the equipment he’d purchased. “This can’t be all that difficult.” Hell, if those folks on the reality shows could fish in the bayous, an educated man from Baton Rouge ought to be able to do it. He pulled his computer tablet out and cursed at the lack of Wi-Fi. Okay, so he was on his own. With a half hour to go before the dinner gauntlet at the Boyette cafeteria, he was determined to make it work.

He started by trying to let out a little line from the rod and reel. After several attempts, he leaned back with no more line out than he’d started with. Short of tearing the reel apart, he didn’t have a clue.

“You have to press the lever on the side to loosen the line,” a small voice said from beside him.

He jumped and nearly decked a boy with curly black hair and bright-blue eyes.

Beside him stood a girl with softer features but of the same height and with the same blue eyes.

“Let me guess,” Ed said. “Boyettes?”

They nodded in unison.

“Do you all come in pairs?”

Again in unison, they shook their heads.

“Do you have names?” he asked.

“I’m Teddy,” said the girl and she pointed at the boy. “He’s Roosevelt, but everyone calls him Rosie.”

The boy’s eyes narrowed and his fists clenched. “Only if they want a fat lip.”

Ed raised his hands in surrender. “Okay. I’m not looking for a fight. Roosevelt it is.”

The two sat on the porch at his feet and stripped the lures from their packaging.

“I take it you’ve done this before,” he stated.

“Our oldest sister’s been taking us fishing since we were little,” Teddy offered. She released the line from the reel with practiced ease and threaded it through the rings along the length of the pole.

Since the twins couldn’t be more than six or seven themselves, that meant their sister had been taking them fishing since they were toddlers, barely out of diapers. “She must be pretty good at it.”

“She is,” Rosie said. “Knows all the good places to go.” He tied a lure to the end of the line and hooked it to one of the rings.

“Does she guide fishing tours?”

Teddy reeled the line in until it grew taut, the hook on the ring anchoring the line so that it didn’t fly around. “No, she owns a gym in Morgan City.”

Ed made mental notes about the kids’ handling of the rod and reel so that he could do that later without looking completely inept. “She owns her own gym?”

“Yes, sir.” Rosie arranged the other hooks, lures, and spinners in the tackle box. “We go there for karate lessons.”

“Sounds like she’s looking out for you,” Ed observed. He hadn’t had any older siblings to look out for him. Since his own parents had died when he was four, he’d been pretty much on his own to figure out important things like tying his shoes, let alone lures on fishing lines. Some things he’d mastered on his own, others he apparently had to learn from seven-year-old strangers.

“You’re coming to dinner, aren’t you?” Teddy stood and brushed the dust from her cutoffs.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said.

She nodded, all serious. “Good, ’cause we came to get you.”

He put the pole and tackle box inside the door and locked the cottage before setting off across the yard to the Boyette house, Teddy’s little hand in his and Rosie marching alongside, too much of a man to hold his hand. He marveled at how small and yet trusting Teddy was, and how good it felt to have a child’s hand in his. Made him feel big and somehow more responsible. He shook off the unwelcome idea and concentrated on what lay ahead. Kids…who would have thought they’d be…well…so not annoying? Or was it only when in small doses?

Having an escort reminded him of the nightmare he was in for tonight. Dinner with an army of children who all looked and sounded alike.
So much for escapes
. The Boyettes had him surrounded. He’d have to wring Ben’s neck next time he saw him. This place…this family…should have come with a damn warning label.


“With the new clothes, shoes, and haircut, it’ll work,” Calliope said. “Trust me.”

Her stomach churning, Alex slowed the closer they got to her mother’s house. “I don’t know. It seemed like a good idea two hours ago, but now I’m getting cold feet.”

Sport walked upright between them, his gaze darting around at every movement, his feet still clumsy in the oversize shoes they’d borrowed from Maurice Saulnier. Once, Calliope had to jerk him back from going after a cat. Alex had to hold him steady when a squirrel raced up a tree in front of Miz Mozelle’s house.

This is a really bad idea
. She almost turned and ran back to her house at least half a dozen times in the few blocks they’d gone. “He has the attention span of a…”

“Golden retriever? Give him time, he’s been human for less than a day.” Calliope hugged Sport’s arm. “You’re a good boy, Sport.”

“He
is
a good boy. Poor baby.” She could imagine the dog’s confusion after waking up a man and then having her wave a decorative pillow at him when he’d done nothing wrong. She hugged his other arm, partly out of love for her dog, and partly to keep him from seeing Granny Saulnier’s pink poodle out of the corner of his eye.

They’d come all the way across town without any major incidents. They could make it through one meal at the Boyette house. It wasn’t new territory for Sport, just a new perspective. Armed with the training they’d given him throughout the early evening, he should be able to handle one evening with the family. With so many people at the table, he wouldn’t be required to say much.

Unless…

“God, I hope Mom doesn’t go all Spanish Inquisition on Sport.” Her cold feet got colder. “If she starts giving him the third degree and he answers with ‘woof,’ I’m sunk.”

“Why don’t you just tell your mother what really happened?” Calliope leaned around the man in the middle. “She might be of help getting Sport back to where he belongs.”

Torn between lying and dealing with yet another dud her mother dragged off the streets, Alex was ready to try anything. “I really hope by bringing Sport over as my manfriend I can put the kibosh on Mom’s matchmaking.”

“You could have done that with Theo,” Calliope said.

Alex shuddered. “I didn’t want Theo at the dinner table with my family. I care more about my family than to subject them to that creep.”

“Point taken, but you and I both know that if your mom doesn’t like Sport as your
manfriend
, she’ll keep pushing men at you.”

“I have to do something. She’s making me crazy.” Alex held tight to Sport as a bird flew down in front of them, snatched a bug off the road, and flew away. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to use Sport for this lie. She had never been good at lying to her mother. The woman was psychic or something. She could see right through her and every one of her children. The taste of soap in her mouth lingered in her memories of the times she’d been caught telling lies.

As they approached Alex’s childhood home, Calliope whispered, “Last chance to back out.”

On the verge of performing an about-face, Alex ground to a stop.

From the opposite direction, Teddy and Rosie led the tall, dark, and handsome man she and Calliope had run into early that morning when they’d been chasing Sport through the streets.

“Oh my God,” Alex muttered. “Of all the people she could be trying to set me up with…”

BOOK: Deja Voodoo (A Cajun Magic Novel) (Entangled Suspense)
10.51Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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