Authors: Delilah Devlin
Tags: #Fiction, #Erotica, #General, #Romance, #Paranormal
This book is for my sister and best friend,
who began this journey with me
and constantly inspires and challenges me
to be a better person and writer.
“Rene, you dirty bastard, put your tongue back in your…
Rene raked a hand through his hair. “What the fuck…
Natalie couldn’t sleep.
A shocked gasp and muffled “Sonuvabitch!”
jarred her fully awake…
A crunch sounded outside—a crisp scrape like a footstep on…
As soon as the van pulled to a halt, the…
Her body warmed as she cuddled closer. This close and…
You don’t want to kill him…yet.
Natalie finished bathing him and pulled the sheet up over…
Mercifully, Inanna veered the conversation another way.
“Erika, what did…
Chessa stared into the stormy sky as rain began to…
Chessa sat on the edge of the bed when Rene…
Chessa tracked Nic down to his quarters in the barracks.
Silence stretched between Nicolas and Chessa as
they each dressed.
Rene dumped Natalie’s suitcase on the bed in the hotel…
The raucous sound of a cheery accordion and electric guitars…
Chessa strode into the station, waving to the desk sergeant…
Rene opened the door. The light inside the bedroom was…
“Let me help you,” he said, extending his hand, palm…
ene, you dirty bastard, put your tongue
“Rback in your mouth.”
Rene Broussard lowered his binoculars to watch the
enticing twitch of their subject’s ass beneath a pink
sundress as she walked, carrying coffee and a sugarcoated beignet, toward a bench in front of Saint Louis
Cathedral. That dress should have been outlawed—in
the muggy New Orleans heat it stuck to her skin in all
the right places. His body tightened with the purely
involuntary reaction of a healthy male. He pressed
the talk switch on the radio clipped to his jacket lapel.
“You’re just jealous,
’cause you have no ass.”
The radio squawked. “Do, too,” his partner,
Chessa Tomas, replied. “You just haven’t taken a
good look ’cause you know you can’t have it.”
“There is that.” He shifted his gaze upward to the woman’s
Even watching through the iron spokes of the fence surrounding Jackson Square, Rene knew this was their girl—only
the Tennessee DMV photo hadn’t done her justice. The other
stats he’d pulled—Caucasian female, 25 yrs. old, 5'6", blonde
hair, green eyes, 135 lbs.—also hadn’t hinted at the cuteness
of her saucy behind, the length of her softly rounded legs, or
the shape of her breasts, high and uptilted. Just like he liked
“Yoo hoo!” Chessa’s voice broke in. “Are you gonna ogle
her all afternoon, or are we pulling her in for questioning?”
Rene looked up to the balcony over Muriel’s restaurant.
Chessa gave him a little wave and tilted her head toward her
radio. “It’s gonna rain, and I’d just as soon not get soaked.”
Rene slid his small binoculars into a jacket pocket, and
then glanced up at the sky. Gray clouds, heavy with rain, hovered just above the street lamps. The wind began to whip
the colorful beach umbrellas above the street vendors’ carts.
Mother Nature was giving a preview of the tropical storm
the weathermen predicted might hit during the weekend.
Time to bring in Natalie Lambert.
Just as he rounded the corner of the fence, a devil wind
picked up dirt from the street and swirled toward the row
of benches, carrying with it an odd sulfurous odor. “
wonder if I remembered to latch my balcony doors?”
“That must be one helluva doughnut,” Chessa murmured.
“The lady seems pretty popular with the pigeons.”
Weaving in and out of the psychics’ fabric-draped tables
and the street artists’ booths, Rene kept an eye on his tar-into the darkness
get as she tossed crumbs at the birds gathering around her
feet. The little black whirlwind whipped through the crowding pigeons, ruffling their feathers and lifting a few off the
ground. “Don’t she know we have ordinances against feedin’
“Breaking that particular law’s the least of her worries.”
He paused in front of an artist’s stand, pretending to admire
the watercolors. “My gut says she’s the target, not the perp.”
“Sure you’re thinking with your brain?” Chessa asked, in
her usual smart-ass tone. “Just ’cause she looks pretty in pink
doesn’t mean she’s not a murderer. Why else would she run?”
The lady in question glanced toward the darkening sky and
pitched the rest of her meal to the birds.
“Wouldn’t you, if everyone around you was droppin’ like
flies?” Rene nodded to the seller and continued on his way
toward the woman who looked like a tasty sherbet.
“I don’t know—and right now, I don’t care. Let’s just pull
her in before all hell breaks loose.”
“All right,” Rene said, injecting false irritation into his
voice. “You’re just bein’ a bitch ’cause I woke you early.”
“I don’t want the sun peeking out from behind any clouds
before we’re done.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t want you to melt, sugar. Get your ass down
here now. Let’s do it.”
“What the hell?”
Rene saw what caught his partner’s attention at the same
time. More birds arrived with an audible flutter of wings, settling onto the pavement and closing in on the woman who
now yelled and kicked at the pigeons crowding around her
Frowning, he realized what had started as a small flock of
birds, now numbered hundreds. Some hopped onto the bench
beside the woman, while others surrounded her feet. They all
appeared to be pecking at bare skin.
People nearby scattered, vendors abandoned their carts
and tables and ran while the pavement quickly filled like an
undulating gray sea.
Rene cursed and ran toward her, kicking away pigeons as
more arrived in a dark, fluttering cloud to surround the woman
who shielded her face and head with her arms, whimpering,
while rivulets of blood streaked her ankles and hands.
He plucked her from the bench into his arms.
She swatted blindly, landing glancing blows on his nose
and chin, her body arching in his arms, but he clamped her
body tight to his and sped toward the unmarked sedan parked
along Chartres Street. The beating of hundreds of flapping
wings and the birds’ harsh, screaming caws pursued them to
Chessa rushed from the entrance of the restaurant and
matched his stride.
“The doors, Cheech!” he shouted.
She sprinted past him and flung open the back door.
Rene dove into the backseat, the woman clutched close to
his chest, and yanked the door closed. Wings flapped in his
The woman on his lap whimpered and pressed her face into
Rene swung his fist at the kamikaze bird until he smashed
it against the rear windshield. Panting, he didn’t relax until
Chessa slid into the driver’s seat and started the engine.
into the darkness
“Du Monde’s beignets aren’t that good,” Chessa said, tearing off her sunglasses. Her green gaze met his in the rearview
mirror as she put the car into gear and careened away from
the curb. Tires crunched the bones of birds. Two, three, four
more slammed into the windshield. Others thudded dully
against the metal exterior of the car, until at last they left the
menacing flock behind.
Rene dragged air into his lungs, adrenaline still pumping
through his body. He squeezed the woman too tight, but he
couldn’t let go. Not yet. “Goddamn!”
“Where to?” Chessa asked, one eyebrow quirked upward
in the mirror.
Rene shook his head.
Not the station.
He took another deep
breath and looked down at the woman who shivered in his
arms, her head tucked against his chest like a child. Her
scent, reminiscent of lemons and sweet apples, and the soft
curves pressing on his thighs affected him more than he cared
to admit. He cleared his throat, fighting for objectivity. A
first for him. “Miss, can we take you home?”
Her bloodied hands clutched at his shirt, and she raised a
clear blue gaze to meet his. “I’m not stupid enough to think
your being here is a coincidence. Why don’t you just take me
to the station?”
Rene blinked. Her words were gutsy, even defiant, but he
heard the underlying quaver in her voice. “Yeah, so we know
who you are, Natalie. Maybe we’re just keepin’ an eye out to
make sure you’re safe.”
“No one can keep me safe.” Her lips twisted in a parody of
a smile. “Even the birds know I’m toxic.”
* * *
Natalie sat on a metal chair while Detective Broussard daubed
sterile gauze at the small punctures marring her arms and
hands. She glanced at his partner, who flipped closed the
blinds, plunging the interrogation room further into gloom.
The dense gray light seemed to match the woman’s mood. Detective Tomas had paced the room since they’d first entered.
Natalie guessed she was pretty annoyed with her partner,
intercepting more than one pointed glare, and wondered if
there might be something between the pair. Detective Tomas
was surely his match physically. Black hair, green eyes, and
with a slim, wiry build Natalie could only envy.
“So, you wanna tell us what brought you back to N’Awlins?”
Detective Broussard pulled a fresh square of gauze from the
first aid kit and scooted back his chair. “Gimme one of your
Natalie couldn’t help but shiver at his command and lifted
her left leg. Aware his steady stare fell to a broad expanse of
exposed skin, she barely resisted the urge to tug the hem of
her skirt lower. She almost wished his interest wasn’t due to
the crusty streaks of blood feathering her ankles.
Until recently, she’d never considered herself a very sexual
creature, had never felt the compulsion to dabble in flirtation. But something about this man’s Cajun drawl, husky
build, and liquid brown eyes tugged a dormant femininity,
newly discovered and yearning, into full flower.