Did you see the latest AAD Author visiting Larissa’s Bookish Life yesterday with her own After Dark on Bourbon Street story? You should totally go read it…like now.
After Dark on Bourbon Street
So, when I was asked to participate in Bourbon Street, I was thrilled…then terrified. I’ve never been to New Orleans before. Hell, being Canadian, I haven’t even been to the south much. I’ve seen parts of Texas and southern California…but I’ve never set foot in Louisiana.
I’ve heard lots about the NOLA, both good and bad–I even have a character who worked there as a Detective for several years. I did ask Kyle if he’d be interested in doing an interview, but he just laughed. He reminded me that his time there was before he’d met Taylor, and that he’d been much more jaded back then. He didn’t seem to think his ‘story’ would be that well received. But I digress…
So…with no one else familiar with the territory, I decided to do a bit of research. It seems every other page I pulled up sprouted ghosts and ghost hunting…have I mentioned I love ghosts? Thus, in honor of all those wispy apparitions, of which I hope to investigate while I’m there, I wrote this…
Saint Louis Cemetery, next exit.
Temperance Dunnigan watched the sign disappear in her rearview mirror as she allowed the car’s speed to bleed off, staying right as the ramp appeared ahead of her. She’d had one hell of a time picking her way through the various road closures, having to weave amidst a spider web of one-way streets and pedestrian-filled alleys. She’d even been forced to backtrack around a couple of police blockades and had sat at a stoplight for several minutes as a forty-foot dragon boat had meandered down the center of the street. Why she’d agreed to visit the offerings of New Orleans during Mardi Gras was a mystery to her. Mixing business with pleasure rarely resulted in anything other than pounding headaches and missed opportunities.
She sighed and glided the car to a halt. It wasn’t really a mystery…she knew damn well why she was here–Avery Smith. Infamous ghost hunter and self-proclaimed psychic, he’d sent her a personal invitation to join a few of his handpicked researchers in a weeklong investigation of some of New Orleans most notorious sites. And if Avery could be believed, ghosts would be on the tamer side of what she’d experience, though she wasn’t holding her breath. She’d been there a day already and hadn’t spied anything more transparent than the other investigators, who insisted on following Avery around like a pack of lovesick puppies.
She huffed, unclipping her seatbelt as she grabbed her keys. At least she’d taken the time to toss a few pieces of equipment in the trunk before leaving the hotel…or should she say escaping. Though the Lamothe House Hotel was known for its own paranormal activity, there wasn’t a chance in hell she’d catch anything on tape with the entire street partying outside her window. Ghosts might be adventurous, but she doubted even the most active spirits would put on a display with Van Halen blaring through the rooms.
“Avery and his idea of ‘research’. What a crock of shit.”
The man was an ass at the best of times, a criticizing bastard every other minute of his life. He’d used his inherited wealth to buy his way into stardom, then he’d looked down his nose at every other struggling paranormal investigator, who’d had the courage to go for substance over flashy tricks. Not that she wasn’t thankful for the opportunity his money had afforded her it was just…she hated walking to the beat of someone else’s drum, and god help her, the guy had his own freaking band.
A cool breeze tickled her skin, soothing the raw feelings as her hair billowed in the wind. Thank god everyone else had elected to stay at the hotel. She wasn’t really in the mood for company, and she could only imagine what she looked like–faded jeans topped by a hand-knit sweater, both of which had seen better days. Her shoulder-length auburn hair hung in curly strands about her face, the tousled mass blowing in the wind. She hadn’t even bothered to put on any make-up, not that she usually wore any. But there wasn’t much chance of anyone spotting her at a graveyard at sunset and it’s not as if she had someone to look special for.
Temperance pushed the annoying thought away and glanced around the cemetery. This was the largest of the three burial grounds spread around New Orleans, and one of the most ornate. Large marble tombs lined the rows, with the occasional tree casting finger-like shadows along the ground. The setting sun glowed at the edge of the horizon, staining the small gathering of clouds a fiery orange. She’d been warned not to come here alone, and never at night, but the sounds of Mardi Gras had grated on her nerves until she feared she’d go crazy. That’s part of the reason she loved being a paranormal investigator…quiet, lonely places where even the hidden residents needed special equipment to talk to you. Besides, she wasn’t helpless. She’d taken years of self-defense training, and she knew how to maneuver through the stone monuments while maintaining the highest degree of safety…that and she’d promised herself she wouldn’t stay more than an hour…just enough time to snap some photographs, try to catch a few EVP’s and take some temperature readings. It wouldn’t even be fully dark by then.
Temperance gathered her gear and locked her car, ambling over to the far end of the grounds. She could see why tourists flocked to this place…she’d never seen a cemetery quite like it. Historic and beautiful, it was more of a piece of architecture than a burial ground. But she hadn’t come to stare at the pretty tombs. She wanted to talk to their residents.
She lifted her camera, snapping stills of the various monuments from different angles. Sometimes she’d get lucky and catch strange light anomalies or shadows that would be revealed when she examined the footage later. The camera clicked in rapid succession as she walked up and down a few isles, finally stopping at one of the tombs. But unlike the others, this one looked as if it’d been vandalized. Burn marks charred the face of the once pristine stone and someone had painted disturbing graffiti across the side.
She looked over her shoulder. The grounds were still empty, with only the long shadows from the setting sun following her movements. She snagged her bottom lip and decided to chance a closer look. Like many of the tombs, a fence of wrought-iron bars surrounded the grave, these ones high enough she’d have to climb over them. The pungent smell of urine greeted her first, and she nearly retreated when something glittered near the ground at the rear of the tomb.
“So much for keeping a level head and avoiding danger, girl.”
Temperance scolded her impetuous nature as she vaulted over the bars. One of the pointed ends caught on her jeans, leaving a small tear down the side. She brushed it off and turned on her digital recorder, determined to catch any voice phenomena that might pop up as she edged forward, squeezing through the tight space between the bars and the tomb. This wasn’t her smartest decision, but as she stepped out on the other side, she knew it’d been worth the risk. A small medallion hid amidst the stone, one edge sparkling in the last rays of sunlight. She reached for it, when the air around her suddenly chilled.
Temperance stopped, reaching for her digital thermometer as she scanned the immediate area. There wasn’t much to see, the view blocked by the towering tombs on either side. She ignored the prickling feeling down the back of her neck and pressed the button, watching as the temperature dropped from a comfortable sixty-three down to just over forty-five. The hairs on her arms stood up and a rash of goose bumps erupted across her skin–she wasn’t alone.
She took a deep breath, pocketing the gage as she thumbed at her camera again. A low rasp sounded behind and she spun, afraid she was about to be mugged. But what stood before her wasn’t human–at least not anymore. A man in a black-hooded robe hovered above the ground, his body nearly transparent as he wavered in and out of focus. Tiny flames danced in circles around his hands, licking at the robe as if desperate to ignite it. His face was shrouded in darkness, save for a slight wedge of pale skin on the edge of his mouth. She stared at it, feeling her stomach drop when the edges of his lips curled into a sadistic smile.
“I knew you’d come…I’ve been expecting you.”
The disembodied voice echoed around her, the sinister tone sending shockwaves of panic through her veins. She took a step back, just as a set of hands wrapped around her wrist and mouth.
She tried to scream, but nothing more than a muffled gasp made it past the fingers holding her captive. She shifted her weight, readying her elbow when a puff of warm breath coasted over her earlobe.
“If you want to live, I suggest you follow me, and quickly, before our demonic friend gathers enough strength to take you back to hell with him.”
“Avery?” She glanced back at the man, pinned by the deep blue of his eyes. She’d never seen them so vivid.
“Now, Temperance. He’s already feeding off of our energy.”
Temperance nodded, allowing Avery to tug her away, back through the tight press of stone and over the fence. Bellows of rage sounded behind them, followed by the hiss of fire on stone, but she didn’t stop to look back when Avery broke into a sprint, his hand still entwined with hers. She could feel the entity reaching for her, its fiery hands searing her skin, but she kept running, nearly slamming into Avery’s Porsche when the man veered sharply to his right.
He released her hand and slid over the hood, landing on his feet. “Get in!”
She stared at the vehicle. How the hell did he afford this kind of stuff?
“Damn it, Temperance, we can discuss my obscene use of money later. Now get in the fucking car before that demon claims you as his ever-after mate!”
Temperance glared at him, but jumped in, clicking the seatbelt tight as he revved the engine and ripped out of the lot, skidding across two lanes as he hit the accelerator and peeled away. Her entire body got sucked back in the seat, but at least the burning sensation on her skin diminished. She looked down at her hands and felt the color drain from her face. A black star at the base of her left wrist glared back at her, the edges tinged a dark red.
She looked over at Avery, but he merely shook his head.
“Consider yourself lucky. Another few minutes and your body would have been covered in those things. You wouldn’t have been able to leave if that had happened.”
She forced herself to swallow past the lump in her throat. “But I don’t understand…what the hell was that?”
“That, my dear, was the king bastard of demons…a nasty bugger who lures innocent virgins in to his lair so he can drain them of their life force. They say once he has enough souls, he’ll walk the Earth and inflict pain and suffering on all of us.”
Temperance snorted at him. “Nice legend, there’s just a few holes in it. There’re no such things as demons. You said that yourself in one of your more ‘dramatic’ interviews. That was nothing more than a ghost…albeit an evil one.”
“Guess I can’t argue with myself.” He nodded at her, though his eyes didn’t convey the confidence in his voice. “Any the other flaws?”
She smiled at him. “I’m hardly a virgin.”
His eyes lit up with a fire that made her knees go weak and her flesh burn, only in a way far more alluring than the ghost.
He gave her body a long, slow sweep, ending it with a wink. “You don’t say…good to know.”
Temperance stared at him, wondering when he’d gone from asshole to charming hero without her even realizing it. And since when did a look from Avery Smith make her feel hot and light-headed, as if all her blood had left her head and pooled in her groin? She groaned and leaned back in the seat. If this was any implication of the remaining seven days, she was definitely going to be in for one hell of a long week.
Meet Kris Norris!
Kris sees herself as somewhat obsessive and feels she tends to push the boundaries of common sense sometimes. Her friends graciously see her as passionate and adventurous. After all, speed limits are only guidelines and shouting is just her way of rising above the chaos. Now if she only had a clone…
Kris loves the outdoors. If she’s not on her computer–or chasing after her three kids–she’s out on a trail somewhere, either running with her dog or riding her mountain bike. Kris took up adventure racing a few years ago, and tries to enter a couple of races every year.
Kris started writing some years back, and it took her a while to realize she wasn’t destined for the padded room, and the voices chattering away in her head were really other characters trying to take shape–and since they weren’t telling her to conquer the human race, she went with it. Kris loves writing erotic novels. She loves heroines who kick butt, heroes who are larger than life, and sizzling sex scenes that make you squirm in your seat, and leave you feeling just a bit breathless.
Want to purchase Kris’s novels?
Coyote Law at Amazon
Worlds Apart at Amazon
Snared at Amazon
Coyote Savage at Amazon
Photo Finish at Amazon
Threefold Anthology at Amazon
Healing Hands at Amazon
Voracious Vamps: Sacred Talisman at Amazon
Hard Target at Amazon
Checkmate at Amazon
Thank you Kris for taking the time to stop by Literary Escapism for our Authors After Dark on Bourbon Street event!
Kris is giving away Coyote Law. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: If you were in NOLA, would you want to go hunting for ghosts in its cemeteries? Are there any particular ghosts you want to run into? While we’re at the AAD Conference, where should we hit up? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
In addition to the fabulous prize above, Larissa and I are giving away two $25 ARe gift certificates, so be sure to answer the question.
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
The contest will stay open until February 21st at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have.
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.