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) (6 page)

BOOK: Deja Voodoo (A Cajun Magic Novel) (Entangled Suspense)
13.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“The man from this morning.” Calliope giggled. “I can’t
to hear the conversation at the dinner table.”

“Mom will be mortified if she finds out I was out chasing a naked man through the streets in my nightgown.” She tried to turn, dragging Sport with her. “Turn around before he sees us. Quick!”

Sport tensed and refused to go the other way. Apparently he recognized the twins and wanted to greet them as always.

. We accounted for Sport being comfortable at your mother’s house. We didn’t take into account that he’d want to jump all over your siblings, like he usually does.” Calliope strained to hold the man back as Alex dug her feet into the ground.

Holy hell
. Heel, Sport,” she said as quietly and firmly as she could.

Sport’s body trembled from head to foot, but he heeled.

“Think that man will recognize us from earlier today?” Calliope asked.

“Pray he doesn’t.”

With the strength of his one-hundred-ninety-pound body in his favor, Sport dragged the women to the door of the Boyette home, arriving at the same time as Teddy, Rosie, and the stranger.

“Alex!” Teddy dropped the man’s hand and rushed forward, hugging her around the middle.

Rosie, with a bit more restraint, hurried to hug her as well, leaving the man standing alone by the steps.

Teddy remembered her manners first. “Come meet Mr. Marceau.”

So Mr. Macho had a name.

She glanced across at him, guarding her expression. “Mr. Marceau.”

“Call me Ed.” His gaze locked on hers, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “So we meet again…Alex, is it?”

“Alex Boyette,” she said in a rush, her nerves compromised by his devastating half smile. She wondered how much more disturbing a full smile would be. The widening grin let her know he remembered her from that morning.
So much for going unnoticed in a small town
. She held out her hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to put a name to a…face.” His warm tone and the strength of his fingers curling around hers sent a rush of electric current washing over her. She yanked her hand free and turned to Calliope. “These are my good friends, Calliope and Sport.”

Ed shook Calliope’s hand and reached out to shake Sport’s.

Sport stared at the hand.

She nudged him in the side and whispered, “Shake!”

Sport’s brow furrowed and he lifted a limp hand.

Ed shook it and let go.

One more hurdle passed. She let out a breath and turned toward the house. “Let’s go in,” she said, her voice high, strained. “This was a really bad idea,” she muttered beneath her breath.

Ed climbed the stairs beside her, “Did you say something, Ms. Boyette?”

“No, no.” Her cheeks burned. She was a terrible liar. “I just can’t wait to see what Mom has fixed for dinner.”

Inside offered no relief. Hugging Sport close to her, she led the way through the hallway and into the large dining room where it looked, to the untrained eye, like the Boyettes were having a family reunion. The only one missing was Ben.
And her father
. A pang of sorrow pulled at her heart. Frank Boyette had loved every one of his nineteen children and made it a point to talk to and hug each of them at least once every single day.

A tiny hand slipped into hers. “Alex, sit by me, please.”

She smiled down at the littlest of the Boyette brood. “Hey, Molly.” She lifted her five-year-old sister in her arms and hugged her close. “How’s my sweet baby girl?” Her mother constantly reminded her that she could have had children Molly’s age by now. Even Teddy and Rosie’s age, if she’d started having kids right after finishing college.

“You look so natural holding a child, Alex. You need some of your own.” Barbara Boyette sailed into the room, carrying a large platter of fried catfish, setting it down in the middle of the oversized table her husband had made out of an antique door he’d found in a building being torn down in Morgan City. He had prided himself in making something out of nothing and never lost an opportunity to instill in his children a sense of thrift and ingenuity.

God, she missed him
. She could have moved to a larger city where she would have made more money and put her marketing degree to better use. But she had a lot of reasons to hang around and help her mother.
reasons to be exact.

Her mother swooped in to nab Ed. “Oh, you did make it. Good.” She hooked her arm through his and led him to the seat next to Alex’s usual spot and pushed him into it. “You’ll sit here.” She glanced at her. “Alex, honey, put your sister down and come introduce yourself to Mr. Marceau. I believe you two are closest in age.”

Holding Molly like a shield, she shook her head. “Mom—”

“Doesn’t she look like she’d make a great mother? She’s single, you know.” Her mother rested a hand on Ed’s shoulder and smiled across at her. “Hurry and sit, dear, the fish is getting cold.”

Barbara rounded the table and hugged Calliope. “Oh, dear, it is so good to see you.” Every time she saw Calliope, her mother embraced her like a long-lost relative. Even if she’d seen her two days earlier. “And who do we have here?”

Calliope smiled, her lips tight. “What’s your name?” she said to Sport.

Sport’s eyes grew wide and he barked, “Sport!”

Her mother laughed, “Well, then Sport, nice to meet you. I’m so glad you could come to dinner with Calliope.” She squeezed Calliope’s arm. “Nice to see you dating again.”

Calliope shook her head. “I’m not—”

“You two can sit across from Mr. Marceau and Alex.”

Alex swallowed a moan as her mother sat her friend and Sport across the wide table from where she was expected to eat.

“Ed, Sport, meet the family.” Her mother pointed as she went. “Ben’s the oldest, and he’s not here right now, but since he sent you here for vacation, you know him already. Alexandra Belle is next, then Harry and Truman, Amelia, Abraham, George Washington, Dolley, Madison, John Kennedy, Thomas, Edison, Paul Revere, Susan B., Woodrow, Eleanor, Teddy, Roosevelt, and Molly B.” She breathed in and sighed. “Did I leave anyone out?”

“No, Mom,” Alex said. “That about covers it.” This was always the point at which any halfway interesting man her mother had coerced to the dinner table got that glazed look and found a convenient excuse to escape as quickly as possible.

Her mother shooed some of her siblings into the kitchen to fetch the rest of the meal.

Alex studied Ed. His eyes weren’t glazed and he didn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights look. In fact, his lips were twitching with what looked like the beginning of a smile. He wasn’t bad-looking. Some women would find him very attractive. Ah, hell, who was she kidding? He
sexy and handsome, and had a great smile.

Alex’s biggest problem with him was that her mother had set her up, once again, and she wasn’t interested in a relationship. Not now, when she barely had time to run her business. Between the deal she was working to provide hospital employees access to her gym, and now Lucie’s hex, she was booked. No time for love or dating. Still…he was nice-looking and his grip had been firm, not limp like that of some of the men Alex had met. Never mind the electric current that had zipped up her arm at his touch.

“Is there something I can do to help?” she asked, rather than take her designated seat beside the man who’d seen her practically naked in the street that morning.

“No, no, Truman and Amelia are—well, bless my soul, there they are now with the fixins.”

Truman and Amelia entered through the swinging kitchen door, carrying heaping bowls of red beans and rice. They were followed by Dolley, struggling under the weight of a platter spilling over with hush puppies, Madison with a bowl of green tomato relish, and JK carrying two pitchers of iced tea.

As Amelia passed Alex, she whispered, “He is a hunk, isn’t he? Wouldn’t mind waking up to him every morning.”

Alex groaned. Even her sister was in on her mother’s plot to marry her off.

“Please, everyone have a seat.” Barbara Boyette lifted her hands like a conductor and everyone scrambled for their seats. Alex was no exception. Old habits died hard in this family. She pulled out her chair in time for her mother’s hands to fall, and sat, as cued, her shoulder brushing Ed’s.

She scooted away, glancing down at Molly who had managed to squeeze into the chair beside her. For the first fifteen minutes, most of the conversation centered on passing trays of food and comments praising the chef. She waited for her mother’s usual lead-in to her oldest daughter’s availability.

Calliope cut Sport’s catfish and Sport managed to spear the bites with his fork, cleaning his plate faster than anyone else. He always did like Mom’s fried catfish when he was lucky enough to get the leftovers.

Throughout the meal, Alex barely touched her food, her heart lodged in her throat, waiting for Sport to do something that would make her mother ask more than her usual amount of questions.

When everyone had filled their plates and eaten a good portion of the food, her mother started the conversation. “Mr. Marceau is a friend of Ben’s, up from New Orleans for vacation.”

“Please, Mrs. Boyette, call me Ed,” he said.

Alex shoved a forkful of catfish into her mouth with the hope her mother wouldn’t ask her a question she’d be expected to answer.

“Are you single, Ed?” Her mother didn’t waste time.

Alex fumbled with her fork and it fell to the floor between her and Ed.

They both reached for it at once, knocking heads.

Ignoring the pain, she whispered, “Please don’t mention this morning.”

Ed stared across at her and winked.

“Sorry.” She grabbed her fork and sat up quickly, ignoring the scent of Ed’s cologne. He smelled really nice. She hoped he was as nice as he smelled and honored her plea.

“Yes, ma’am, I’m single,” Ed answered. “I was married once.”

“Widowed or divorced?” The matriarch popped a bite of food into her mouth.

“Mom,” Alex warned. “You’re grilling your guest.”

“Not at all.” her mother waved her hand. “I’m getting to know him.”

Ed’s lips twitched. “My wife left me, claiming I was never home. And no, we didn’t have any kids.”

Alex prayed her mother would end her inquisition. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

“Ben said you were friends, but didn’t tell me how you two know each other.” Alex’s mom asked. “Are you in law enforcement, like my son?”

“No, ma’am.” Ed tugged at the collar of his shirt before answering. “I’m a trained mediator.” The tips of his ears turned red.

Alex studied him in her peripheral vision.
. Her own ears heated and turned red every time she told a lie. Was Mr. Marceau lying to her mother? “What exactly does a mediator do…Ed?” She hesitated over his name as if by saying the name it brought them even closer than side by side at the dinner table.

Again, his ears reddened. “A mediator is someone people go to in order to help them settle disputes out of court.” He turned to her. “Teddy and Roosevelt tell me you own a gym in Morgan City. What does a gym owner do?”

Before she could open her mouth, her mother jumped in. “She helps old ladies like me stay in shape, don’t you, honey?”

“Yes, Mom, thank you.”

“I bet you work out a lot,” he commented. “I like to jog, myself.” He popped a bit of catfish in his mouth and chewed.

Alex stewed, waiting for him to out her in front of her mother.

“The best time to jog around here is early in the mornings,” Dolley said. “Right, Alex?”

The tips of her ears burning, she replied. “I wouldn’t know. I save my energy for the gym…for the most part.”
When I’m not chasing a naked man through the streets.

“I prefer jogging in the morning.” Ed looked up with a challenging smile. “You never know what you might see.”

She nudged Ed with her knee and regretted it when a jolt of awareness sped through her system at the simple touch.

“Sport, we’re so glad you could join us this evening.” The consummate host, her mother turned to Sport and Calliope and saved Alex from the conversation leading to the reveal of her early-morning antics.

She clenched her fork and shifted her anxiety from one issue to another, praying for divine intervention.

Her mother smiled. “Sport’s an odd name for a man. Alex has a dog named Sport.”

“We all had a good laugh over it, didn’t we, Alex?” Calliope smiled brightly. “Sport and Alex went to Tulane together.”

“You did?” her mom queried politely.

Calliope whispered into Sport’s ear and he barked, “Yes!”

“Are you staying in Bayou Miste, Sport?” she asked.

Calliope whispered again and Sport barked, “Yes!”

Alex saw it coming and waited for the next question with a mental groan.

“Really?” her mother asked. “Where?”

Calliope stared pointedly across the table at Alex.

She couldn’t let her friend bear all the burden of the charade and jumped in with, “Actually, Mom, he’s staying at my house.”

“Oh.” Her mother looked from Sport to her and back. “Are you two…you know…?” Her gaze panned the table of young people. “Maybe we should discuss this later.” Her lips pressed together.

“We’re just friends, Mom,” she provided. “And yes, discussing it later would be best.”

“Ed, Ben tells me you’re an avid fisherman.” Her mother drew attention back to her choice of men for Alex.

“I’m hoping to spend my vacation doing some fishing. I’ve scheduled a guide for early tomorrow morning.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. Alex is very familiar with the bayous and knows all the best places to fish, don’t you, dear? Perhaps she can take you out in the evenings after she finishes up at the gym.”

“Mom, Mr. Marceau would probably rather go with his guide. Besides, I have Sport visiting.”

“I could watch Sport while you take Ed out on the bayou,” Calliope offered. “I mean, I could keep him company.”

Alex glared at her friend.

Before she could back out of it gracefully, Ed sealed the deal with a smile. “I’d like that.”

The younger children finished their dinners before their older siblings. To avoid further questioning, Alex jumped up to help Molly, Teddy, Rosie, and Eleanor clear their plates. By the time they ran off to play, the adults had finished. Dolley and Madison gathered the rest of the empty plates and started in on the dishes.

BOOK: Deja Voodoo (A Cajun Magic Novel) (Entangled Suspense)
13.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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