Who says it’s easy to leave a good time? Larissa’s Bookish Life and I didn’t think it was, so we’re extending our Bourbon Street party for two more days!
After Dark on Bourbon Street
Thanks for inviting me to chat a little about New Orleans and spotlighting this year’s Author’s After Dark convention. I love New Orleans. Spent more nights than I should admit as a teenager down in the Quarter getting into too much trouble.
That’s stuck with me. Hot, Hard is a paranormal erotic series based in the city. The first two are out now: Hot, Hard & Howling and Hot, Hard & Hexing. I’m busy working on the third, titled Hot, Hard and Hedonistic, coming soon.
Since all my characters are already in the city, I thought I’d give you a scene from Hot, Hard & Hexing. An exclusive excerpt where my hero and heroine are fleeing through the back courtyards and alleys, fighting off gargoyles and being assisted by a cross-dresser named Cindy.
I chose this scene because it’s based on a real life event. When I was about 17, I spent a weekend with my friend Cindy’s aunt. Her house was several blocks off the beaten path in the Quarter and she had one of those great courtyards full of amazing plants and a fountain and a grave. Or so she said. She was a bit strange herself, so I’m not sure I believed her.
Cindy and I snuck out late one night. After messing around a while, we ended up lurking around behind one of the ghost tours. We’d been drinking hurricanes from a huge orange juice bottle and by this time thought ourselves really cute for making fun of the group and the stories AND the ghosts. (FYI…not a smart thing to do in NOLA. Just sayin’.)
When it came time for us to part ways with the ghost tour and head back toward her aunt’s house, we ended up following the back alleys. A few strange noises and one weird, hooded character in a doorway later, we had spooked ourselves beyond belief. We were quite sure a hoard of ghosts was following US!
After abandoning the hurricane bottle, we ended up running madly through the alleys and courtyards until we made it to Bourbon St. and all the commotion. OMG… we were so scared we didn’t want to go past the courtyard grave to get back in her Aunt’s house. The front door was locked and no way were we waking her up. We spent the night on the front stoop. Talk about a headache that morning!
So years later I used that in this scene… Here’s a little of my hero and heroine, Sonja and Ray, with the assistance of Cindy… a cross-dressing bouncer.
(My friend is not, nor has she ever been a cross-dresser. The use of her name is simply a funny shout out.)
Sonja Ambercroft’s homebody existence is about to change. Drastically. A Dreamstalker has kidnapped her cousin in exchange for a powerful talisman, and Sonja soon finds herself doing things she’d never imagined. Stealing the talisman from her sister? Check. Grappling with Gremlins? Check. Enjoying ridiculously hot visions about a scruffy, sexy mountain man doing untold things to her naked body? Che–
Wait…what? As if she needs that kind of distraction right now! Especially when the stranger’s magic stirs her inner Dragon. Not good. A childhood tragedy has made shifting too dangerous. Sonja can’t risk letting her Dragon loose, but as the erotic visions transform into real-life fantasies, the beast becomes harder to contain.
Sonja’s dangerous adventure will require help from her reclusive mountain man, a Fairy and no less than two queens–one Voodoo, one drag. But ultimately she’ll have to trust her other self, let her inner Dragon roar, if she hopes to bring her cousin back alive.
How the hell was he supposed to get these two somewhere safe? What would be considered safe in New Orleans when you were hauling around boogie-man bait? And he had to do it without any human interference or human causalities or the Council would have his balls for an appetizer. Ray tucked the gun back into the holster at his waistband and reached for his wand.
“Oh, fuck this.” Cindy stopped in the foyer at the bottom of the stairs and held on to Sonja as he unzipped the backs of the crazy platform boots and tossed them off.
Sonja fished inside her bag. “I need a lighter.”
Cindy gave her a drawn look. “Not exactly time for a ciggy, honey.”
“Ray!” Sonja huffed. “Fireball?” She opened one of the mailboxes to show him it was stuffed with fireworks as two blood-deprived vamps burst through the upstairs door.
He conjured and directed as little energy as he could at the fuse. It sparked, and he quickly pushed open the door to the street and pulled Sonja behind him. Cindy followed. The trio ran toward the noisy Quarter, and the tourists, as the fireworks started exploding. In the confined stairwell, the noise and smoke would confuse the weakened rogues, slowing them down.
“Wow,” Sonja breathed.
Ray glanced back at her. She looked a little dazed. Her short hair was bobbing around her face. “You okay?” He pulled her a little closer.
Cindy caught up and fell in on Ray’s other side. He was watching the street, probably making sure he didn’t step on something or stub his toe. This was not a city Ray would want to be roaming around barefoot.
“My place is a few blocks up. Go left up through that courtyard.” Cindy pointed to an opening between two closed shops.
Ray followed the big man in the corset as he tucked into a courtyard with mass of bamboo in one corner. They ducked behind the bamboo and followed an unlit path to an alley barely wide enough for Sonja. Several times Cindy and Ray had to turn sideways to avoid protruding building structures.
They were moving along the dark alley too slowly for Rays taste. He couldn’t shake the feeling something was watching or following them. He stopped and let Sonja move ahead of him so she was between Cindy’s big body and his. His creepy meter was off the scale. He hadn’t been this spooked since he was a green patrol officer facing a pissed-off Demon that he’d had to shield from human sight.
That Demon was nothing like the Halfling walking before him. No, that had been a full Demon who’d spent way too long in a hostile realm, and had no intention of following the Council’s tenets on keeping the supernatural world out of human understanding. The thing had been caught on tape twice, and that meant trouble. The Prime for the area had been too far afield to help. Ray and his magic had been on their own.
Skip ahead a decade or so and lots of situations later, and Ray wasn’t comfortable with this one either. At the end of the building they came to a wider opening, a concrete intersection between four buildings, with several alleyways to choose from. Cindy continued straight. Ray kept Sonja as close as possible. She kept looking back at him. He wasn’t sure if it was for reassurance or instructions. Either way, he was at a loss. They were following Cindy’s lead here.
Suddenly, Sonja tensed. No. She froze. Ray pulled her tight to his body and backed against one of the buildings. Her entire body trembled and he could tell she was holding her breath. Nothing was coming in any direction. Nothing he could see. “What is it?”
She shook her head hard and fast. “Something. Something angry.”
He felt the blood magic from the talisman as it billowed out, calling to whatever magic had connected with it. He couldn’t determine which direction the magic was coming from, but it was strong. His knees felt weak, his head fuzzy. Her gripped his wand in his hand and held Sonja close with the other. Cindy had stopped a few paces ahead and was tucked behind a post holding the backside of a rickety window unit, preventing it from falling out of the window above his head. The post was only about four inches wide and did a poor job of hiding his round shape.
“Up!” Sonja pushed back, sliding beside him to flatten herself against the wall. A shadow passed over the single weak light at the far end of the narrow passage. Ray looked up.
Wings. Things with wings creeped him out.
A hot shudder crawled down his spine. Things with wings that might want the Chiwa should creep him out. “Go!”
Cindy followed his order without hesitation. Ray heard his bare feet on the pavement as he ran as best he could in the alley. Sonja required a slight push to get moving in the same direction. Ray followed, not looking back or up.
He heard a screech and a creaking swish behind him. He stopped and spun, directing a blast of magic right at the sound.
The Gargoyle raised its stony wings and blocked the impact of the blast. Small rocks tumbled from the beast’s wings at the blow and sprinkled onto the path.
Neither Ray’s gun nor his magic would be a match for a Gargoyle. Smarts was all he had now. How the hell did one outsmart a living stone creature?
Ray caught up with Sonja quickly. “Faster.”
She didn’t answer but he could tell she was struggling, running as fast as her flip-flops would allow. He heard the Gargoyle trying to follow through the passage, big stone wings scraping along the brick and concrete walls of the alley. Ray looked back. He conjured one more spell, aiming at its relatively narrow legs.
The blast the spell made when it hit the Gargoyle’s leg, and the exploding stone flying and bouncing off the walls of the passage, made it sound as if one of the buildings were coming down. They all ducked their heads to avoid small bits of flying stone as they moved.
The creature’s strangely carved face contorted in annoyance of the situation. He couldn’t lift off, couldn’t hop forward on one leg as his wings had him pinned in place between the walls. He tried to brace against the walls with his smallish arms and tuck his oversized wings as far back as possible. Nothing doing. He let out a long, lingering cry that would certainly bring other Gargoyles careening off building tops.
“We getting close, Cindy?” They’d moved about three blocks, running between the old buildings parallel to Bourbon Street, Ray guessed. He had one hand on Sonja’s back, feeling her muscles move, and it comforted him a bit. The thought of stone claws tearing into her skin terrified him.
Ray felt the gathering magic of the Gargoyle. It was about to blast him. He raised his gun, aimed it behind him and fired.
The round ricocheted off the beast’s head. The stone the Gargoyle had sent hurtling toward them hit Ray’s hand–hard. He dropped his gun but couldn’t risk stopping to retrieve it. Fuck!
“Sort of.” Cindy glanced back too. His eye makeup was running down the side of one stubble-covered cheek in beads of sweat. “We’ve got to get to the other side of Bourbon Street.”
They exited the alley onto Conti Street, where Ray could see the back of the courthouse. They turned left, headed up the block and tried to blend in with the folks milling toward the lights and music of Bourbon Street two blocks up. Not easy for a six-foot man in drag.
They crossed the wave of drunken revelers on Bourbon then finally stopped at a large wooden gate. Cindy unlocked a door just inside the gate and waived them into his apartment.
They were safe. For the moment.
I’m so looking forward to Author’s After Dark in New Orleans. Hope I get a chance to meet you all in person! I may even share a couple more stories of my misdirected youth in the Big Easy. New Orleans is a great city full of rich culture and wonderful people. I love that place. Come share it with me.
Meet Mari Freeman!
Mine sure has. I’m an exotic adventurer disguised as a normal suburbanite in central North Carolina. My favorite things include: animals, great food, exercise, wine, great movies and books. In my previous lives, I’ve held an interesting array of occupations. I’ve been a project manager, used cars salesperson, a software testing manager, pumped gas at a truck stop and I worked in a morgue. I hold a degree in Forensic Anthropology from THE Ohio State University. My favorite stories include alpha females in love with even more alpha males. I find the clash of passionate, strong willed personalities fascinating. I write contemporary, paranormal, and a little science fiction/fantasy.
Want to purchase Mari’s novels?
Hot and Hard
Hot, Hard and Howling at Amazon
Hot, Hard and Hexing at Amazon
Hot, Hard and Hedonistic
Beware of the Cowboy at Amazon
Birthright at Amazon
About to Blow at Amazon
High Above at Amazon
Plan for Pleasure at Amazon
Run Devil Run: A Paranormal Anthology at Amazon
Sin on Skin at Amazon
Tease the Cougar at Amazon
Thank you Mari for taking the time to stop by Literary Escapism for our Authors After Dark on Bourbon Street event!
Larissa and I are giving away two $25 ARe gift certificates and to enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What would you like to discover among the streets of New Orleans? While we’re at the AAD Conference, where should we hit up?Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered
Even though we won’t be giving any additional entries, you can still help support the authors by sharing this event and their articles on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of these fabulous authors will ensure we get more fabulous stories.
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.