The second day of my ginormous over the top contest, and all I can say is-woohoo! We’re off to a great start :)
Sorry about the waiting part…did I mention I’m a tease too?
I have a few surprises in store ebook-wise, but today we’re talking about my Bone Daddy series. I call it the Bone Daddy series because, well its just fun to say. I love his name. :) Bone Daddy is the star of Possess Me, a book currently available (just in case you haven’t read it already).
In the Big Easy, there’s a legend women long for: a sexual voodoo spirit who can fulfill their darkest fantasies. And in these three steaming-hot novellas, he helps three New Orleans couples achieve the ultimate satisfaction…
In Release Me, Allegra heads down to New Orleans to heal her wounds, but she never expects to lose her heart to such a quiet, troubled man as Rousseau. She’s even less prepared for the scorching, sexual spirit within him-and what he can do to her…
In Reclaim Me, Ben has loved Michelle as long as he can remember. But his beautiful artist has a way of running away from life-and what the pair could be. Leave it to the infamous spirit to help Ben prove to Michelle where she belongs: in his embrace…
In Redeem Me, it’s All Saints’ Day, the one day the voodoo spirit can walk the world in the flesh. When he bumps into Bethany, she might just be the reincarnation of a girl he once loved. Passion ignites, but can the couple overcome past mistakes and have a real chance at love?
I loved writing about the Adairs, Rousseaus and Toussaints so much that I was thrilled when I got the chance to head back to that world again. This time, however, the hero was…well…grumpy. But his heroine–and her friends *looking knowingly at Smutkedettes KittyKelly and Ive* are more than a match for his brooding ways in TEMPT ME
Coming November 2011
In the sultry heat of the Big Easy, desire can be a dangerous thing…
Gabriel Toussaint Giodarno has returned to New Orleans to make amends with his estranged family. The last thing he expected was to be hounded by a magical wannabe-guardian angel-or to be tempted by a beauty who’s strictly off-limits.
Angelique Rousseau has always lived a safe, uneventful life. But when her friend’s twin brother arrives, Angelique finds herself drawn to him. Neither Gabriel nor Angelique is prepared for the intensity of their joined passions, or what the voodoo spirits have in store for them…
“Care for another, angel?”
Gabriel nodded at the bartender, ignoring the blatant invitation in her eyes.
Angel. His smile was rich with self-mockery. If he’d ever been one, he’d fallen long ago.
The sexy blonde turned to refill his glass with amber ale, and the sight of his own reflection in the beveled mirrors made him wince. It had been a while since he’d seen himself. Too long, apparently. The first description that sprang to mind when he did was pathetic drunk.
Was this who he really was, then? Gabriel Toussaint Giodarno—just another lost soul?
Whoever it was he was glaring at needed a shave. Rough shadows framed a sharp jaw, accentuating cheeks that had hollowed out in the last year. A diet of beer, scotch and shame would do that to a man.
His dark hair curled around his ears and along the nape of his neck—the first time he’d let it grow out since he was sent to Catholic school at the tender age of nine. His heavy-lidded green eyes were bleary with exhaustion, and—his gaze narrowed—the skin around his left eye was still tinged with yellow and blue from his encounter with that angry biker last week in a Tupelo bar.
Nearly all traces of his old reflection were gone. He was gone.
“You look like Hell, Gabe. As usual.”
Shit. He knew he was drunk, but he hadn’t realized he’d had enough to start hallucinating again. He pushed his beer away and tapped on the glossy wooden counter. “Any coffee in this place?” Or even better, some holy water?
The man beside him sighed. “I was hoping you’d head to Mambo Toussaint’s or Michelle’s instead of the nearest tavern. Why you keep gravitating to these shadow-filled places, I’ll never know.”
“Look, guy, I told you—those shadows aren’t real,” Gabriel muttered, keeping his eyes straight ahead and his voice down so the bartender wouldn’t think he’d gone off the deep end. “You aren’t real. Not a man. Not a ghost. Remember? I don’t do that particular parlor trick. All the woo-woo genes went to my sister. You’re just a figment of my imagination.”
He lowered his head tiredly and shoved his hands through his hair. “Shit, why didn’t my broken brain concoct a hot, breathy blonde to follow me around instead of a chatty, grungy man-child like you?” He sent said man-child a sideways glance. “I did what you wanted. I’m in New Orleans. Nothing has changed. Now run along, shut the hell up and leave me in peace.”
He looked up and noticed the bartender was watching him and no longer smiling suggestively. She slid a cup of coffee in his direction, the suspicious look in her eyes clearly retracting any invitation they might have issued earlier. Then she hurried toward the other end of the bar and the safety of her regular customers.
Gabriel smirked. He’d run too if he could. Hell, he’d tried. But he couldn’t escape the guilt that had kept him up nights, had become a demon that stalked him. He’d even started seeing shadows where there should be none. Watching those shadows notice him. Follow him. Press on his heavy heart and twist his thoughts until there were only three avenues of escape: fighting, fucking, or getting blackout-drunk. Sometimes it took all three for him to feel human again. To regain control.
Four months ago the game had changed, and his mind brought out the big guns. His new buddy here. His walking, talking, invisible conscience. There could be no doubt now that he had truly gone around the bend.
Gabriel grimaced at the first rich taste of chicory, and glanced at his imaginary friend. He had no idea where he’d dreamed the guy up. A man in his mid-twenties, with black hair that fell to his shoulders and blue eyes that were startling framed by dark brows and a swarthy complexion. He wore a long dark trench coat, dirty khaki pants and torn-up boots, looking like one of those disaffected adolescents Gabriel had silently scorned back when he’d been a globe-trotting, self-important businessman.
Had it only been a year ago that employees of his father’s investment firm had cowered in fear before him? That Gabriel had taken pride in being known as The Dark Messenger, the smiling bearer of bad news and pink slips? What an evil jackass he’d been.
Maybe he was finally getting what he deserved.
“I can practically feel that self-pity you’re wrapping yourself up in, Gabe. You’re more stubborn than your sister, and that’s saying something. Honestly, I have no idea why I got stuck with you.”
He’d gotten stuck? Ha. “I apologize for inconveniencing you. Even my hallucinations can’t stand me. There’s a certain poetry to that, don’t you think?”
“I’m not a hallucination, idiot. I’m real, with a name and everything. But you haven’t asked my name, have you? You haven’t asked about me, about the shadows—nothing. You need to stop fucking around, Gabe.” The young man pounded on the bar in frustration. “I never swore before I met you. You came back here for a reason. You need to find out what you are. You need to see your family. Tell your mother what’s been happening to you.”
Not who he was. What he was. Gabriel already knew what he wasn’t. He was no angel. No bon ange, like his twin sister who could see spirits. The one who had risked her soul for him, despite what he’d done to her. He was no loving son or loyal friend. And even though it felt like it right now, he was no ghost.
He wasn’t sure about anything anymore, not even why he’d come back to New Orleans again. Other than to shut his invisible stalker up. The one no one else saw. The one who could so conveniently appear and disappear at will.
If only Gabriel could disappear that easily, along with the memory of what he’d done—what he’d almost done—to Mimi. Michelle. His sister.
Djab. That was the name his mother had called the thing that had taken over his body last year. A dark entity, sometimes controlled by voodoo sorcerers she named bokors. Djab were wild spirits that, when left to their own devices, could wreak havoc on weaker humans.
Weak. That wasn’t a word Gabriel had ever associated with himself until it happened. How easily it had taken him over. He’d been angry at the awkward reunion with his mother, and when Michelle had shown up, injured and so distant, he’d blamed her. In his anger, he’d wished she’d been the one the priests had beaten, the one who’d been ripped from their mother and told everything she knew, everything she loved, was no longer hers. His need for vengeance had made him the perfect target.
Gabriel took a deep drink, the hot coffee scalding his tongue, his knuckles white around the porcelain mug. As if it were yesterday, he could recall the feeling of being trapped in his own mind, of screaming and shouting in disbelief as something else took over his body.
His hands tying up his sister. His mouth speaking words so offensive to his soul that he wished he could claw them out with his bare hands.
How could she ever forgive him for that? How could he forgive himself? He shook his head, coming back to the conversation. “I know what I am. And they are all better off without me. You can add delusional to the list of reasons why.”
“That does it.”
Gabriel nearly slid off his stool when the bartender appeared across from him once more and purred appreciatively, “Didn’t see you come in, lover. What can I get for you?”
He blinked. “What? Are you talking to me?”
She rolled her eyes. “Of course not, silly, you’ve been here for hours. And I’m really glad you decided to have that coffee, by the way.” Then she looked over Gabriel’s shoulder and batted her eyelashes. “I’m talking to your cute young friend.”
He followed her gaze, then turned back to the bartender. “Who do you see behind me?” When she hesitated Gabriel leaned closer. “It’s important. Describe him.”
She tilted her head, her blonde ponytail swinging softly behind her. “O—kay. I see a sexy slice of cheesecake with dark hair and stunning blue eyes.” Her own eyes widened. “And he blushes? Oh, baby, what’s your name, what’s your sign and where have you been all my life?”
Black spots and stars blurred Gabriel’s view as he glanced back at the blushing figment behind him. The figment someone else had just described. She saw him?
He heard the bartender’s worried voice as if she were speaking through static. “Oh, damn. Listen, lover, if your friend is about to throw up or something, get him outta here. I’m the only one on tonight and I refuse to clean that up.”
Gabriel felt hands hoist him up as if he were weightless and drag him toward the back door that led to a narrow alley.
He pushed away and fell to his knees, retching. He leaned his head against the rough wall, a rasping laugh escaping his raw throat. “So this is what rock bottom looks like. I always wondered.”
“Congratulations, Gabe. As usual, you set a goal and you reached it. Your father would be so proud.”
Gabriel pulled himself up once more and turned, rage suddenly welling up inside him. “You don’t know shit about my father. But I just set another goal. If other people can see you that means you’re real. And if you’re real, I can kick your ass.”
The tall man’s lips quirked. “You can try. The shape you’re in? I think I can take you.” He crossed his arms and shook his head. “You used to be a believer, Gabe. Even when you couldn’t see me, when Mimi was the only one who could, you believed I was there. I never thought you’d turn out like this.”
He believed…even when Mimi could see him? “Who the fuck are you?”
His illusion’s hands rose up to the sky, as if in prayer. “Hallelujah. I think he’s finally waking up.” Unearthly blue eyes pierced him with their solemn expression. “The name is Emmanuel.”
Gabriel scoffed, but he felt the name like a kick in the chest, making it hard to breathe. “Emmanuel was a child. A ghost child. I told you. My sister has that gift. Not me.”
Emmanuel nodded. “You’re right. That isn’t your gift.” He shrugged. “But all the same, I am Emmanuel. How else would I know you cracked your tooth when you fell chasing after Ben and your sister in the back of my old house? The same day you told your father you were playing with spirits for the first time.”
Gabriel remembered. How could he forget? That was the day everything had started going to shit.
“If you’re Emmanuel, and I can’t see ghosts, then how can I see you?”
The younger man was suddenly right beside him, his expression tinged with pain and regret. They were emotions Gabriel knew well. “You can see me, Gabriel, because I am not a ghost. I’m no longer anything I was. And neither are you. But I’ve faced a few of my monsters. It’s time for you to face yours. You need to understand what’s happening to you, before you lose yourself completely to the darkness.”
This was some sort of twisted joke. Gabriel closed his eyes and saw a flash of a memory. Father Leon, the priest who had taken special delight in punishing him, tormenting him with images of his sister and mother burning in Lucifer’s inferno for eternity. Warning him that he would join them if he didn’t purge himself of his family’s evil. Warning him that he would be taken by the darkness.
Even then, there was a small part of young Gabriel who would have taken that punishment, would have burned, if only he could be with his family again. His mother. If only he could have been like his twin, Mimi. Special.
He felt like he was going to be sick again. This couldn’t be happening. He needed to get out of this cursed city. “Fuck the coffee. I need another drink. Maybe two.”
Gabriel took a step toward the bar’s back door, but Emmanuel was there before he could reach for the knob.
He shook his head. “Stubborn ass. This is for your own good.”
Gabriel saw Emmanuel pull back his fist and swore when it connected with his flesh. For a ghost he had a powerful right hook.
He was falling to the ground again, hearing Emmanuel before he hit the cobblestone pavement.
“You’ll thank me for this, Gabe. Eventually.”
Gratitude wasn’t on his mind as the hard ground jarred his bones. As his ears rang with the power of the physical blow he’d just received from his imaginary pest. No, it wasn’t gratitude causing the red haze of anger and pain to blind his vision.
It was the need for revenge.
As soon as he could get up again, Emmanuel would learn what everyone who’d ever gotten on the wrong side of Gabriel knew. Clichéd but true…
Payback was a bitch.
They were talking about him.
Angelique Rousseau grabbed a candied pecan but paused before slipping it into her mouth. She’d been planning on announcing her presence, but she didn’t want to miss the hushed discussion between her sister-in-law Allegra and Michelle Toussaint. Not when they were whispering about her current obsession, Michelle’s elusive brother Gabriel.
Michelle’s sigh drifted into the kitchen from the formal dining room as Angelique hopped quietly onto the marble island. “Mama said she heard a knock on her door at three in the morning. Apparently he was bloodied up and falling-down drunk, with no idea how he’d gotten to her house.”
“He’s been here a week and he hasn’t told anyone why he came back? Has he said anything?” Allegra sounded worried and more than a little tired. Angelique wondered if her unborn niece or nephew might have something to do with that.
The little troublemaker. Not even born and it was already driving its mother up the hormonal wall, not to mention putting a cramp in Auntie Angelique’s social life.
She hadn’t had any time to herself from the moment she got home. Instead she’d been mobbed at every turn by Toussaints and Adairs. Tasked with taking her mother to one gathering after another, all so Theresa Rousseau could get to know her new extended family better before the baby came.
It was a strange clan they’d created. The three families had known each other forever, but then her brother Celestin had married Michelle’s roommate Allegra, and Michelle in turn had married Celestin’s best friend Ben Adair. Then Michelle’s former neighbor Bethany had come to town and married BD, and suddenly the six of them were living in each other’s hip pockets. In light of what had happened, she supposed it was natural for them all to grow closer. Blood wasn’t any thicker than the ties they obviously shared.
They were certainly just as pushy as family with each other, and just as protective. And they’d all been closing ranks around Michelle since her twin brother Gabriel had come home.
Angelique was dying to find out why.
Michelle spoke again, answering Allegra’s question. “He’s barely said a word. Though a few days ago he did ask me a few unusual questions. It was…an odd conversation, and I’m not sure he was actually listening. He just kept glaring over my shoulder. Other than that, every time I’ve stopped by the house he’s been in his bedroom. Honestly, I’ll be surprised if he comes tonight, but Mama did say he promised.”
Was that why Angelique had decided to show up for dinner tonight—because Gabriel Toussaint had promised to be here? Why she’d changed her mind and accepted Allegra’s transparently half-hearted invitation, even though her mother wasn’t invited? Even though she’d had a chance for one night’s reprieve, free of family, free to enjoy herself and get away from all this loving togetherness?
She knew the answer was yes. Gabriel’s presence had changed everything. Since she’d seen him a few days ago, when she and her mother had stopped by the Toussaint family home, he was all she could think about.
He’d stalked into the room, seemingly unaware that he wasn’t alone. His shirt had been unbuttoned to reveal a line of golden skin and muscle that set her mouth watering. His hair was mussed, his jaw set, and to Angelique he’d looked like one hot, delicious mess. Ruffled, brooding and sexy. Everything about him screamed bad boy. It was a quality the rebellious part of her couldn’t help but find attractive.
But it was more than that. The moment he turned his head and snared her gaze, she experienced a raw wave of need unlike any she’d ever known, heat washing over her body and nearly buckling her knees.
She’d held her breath as he studied her. Her fertile imagination took over, making her breathless as she wondered if he felt the same intense desire that she did.
But then he seemed to notice the other women in the room. She’d hoped he would look her way again, but he’d just scowled, nodded tersely to acknowledge his mother, then turned and walked out without a word.
Mambo Toussaint had made hurried apologies, but Angelique barely heard them. It took every ounce of her restraint not to follow him back down the hallway. To take him to task for his manners…or rub herself against him like a cat, she wasn’t sure which.
She’d gone home that night, irrationally angry with the rude man who’d turned on some switch in her body that couldn’t be shut off. She’d touched herself, rubbing her clit and slipping her fingers deep inside her sex, fantasizing about him, coming again and again without true relief.
Feeling the need well up inside her even now, she squirmed on the countertop. Just thinking about seeing him tonight was making her crazy.
That was why she’d come. It was too tempting to resist. She hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him and she wanted to know more. To find out why everyone was so worried about his homecoming.
Hell, she just wanted to see him again.
“You are now officially my favorite Rousseau, cher. Your brother would never dream of being this sneaky. Trust me, I know. However, you lose some points by eating all my pecans.”
Angelique nearly fell off her perch at the rich male voice behind her. “BD, I didn’t see you there.”
Speaking of impossibly gorgeous bad boys. She silently corrected herself. Reformed bad boy. Reformed, reborn and happily married.
Angelique blushed while she studied him. Each time she saw him it struck her that he was like living art. If she weren’t so oddly enamored with Gabriel, he would definitely be her favorite fantasy.
He’d literally walked out of history, and he was nearly too beautiful to be real. Amber eyes with long, dark lashes. Skin like honey and full lips that always looked freshly kissed.
Too pretty, his wife Bethany always teased him. And it was true. But Angelique wasn’t just fascinated with his looks. It was what he was, or what he’d been, that entranced her.
Bone Daddy. A sexual Loa. A voodoo spirit. Sort of. He’d been around a few hundred years, showing up for voodoo practitioners who needed aid in love and lust spells, making those he ‘rode’ irresistible. Until he’d fallen in love himself and gotten a second chance.
He was also the reason her brother had changed so much after their father’s death eight years ago. Why Celestin had gone from her playful, charming older brother to a distant, melancholy womanizer. It had been because of Bone Daddy, and the deal her brother had made with the spirit to protect his family. To protect her.
And now, though she still wasn’t sure how, the Loa was human. And before she could work up a good mad on her brother’s behalf, Celestin had made it clear to his mother and sisters that BD was a friend. More than that. One of the family. That decree, combined with BD’s undeniable warmth and charm, made it impossible to do anything other than love him.
An ex-Loa in her growing family. It was the most exciting thing that had happened in her life so far. Well, maybe the second most exciting thing.
“You didn’t see me? I wonder why?” BD smiled delightedly, dazzling her into silence. “Could it be you were too focused on the gossip du jour? The return of the eternally grumpy twin?”
Angelique felt her lips tilt even as her blush deepened. “My family has a lot of secrets. Maybe this is the only way I can find anything out. Or maybe I was just trying to swipe all the good snacks.”
“Bah. I know your type. Hell, I am your type, cher. A trouble magnet.” He shook his head, understanding bright in his beautiful eyes. “And I can see you are looking for trouble tonight. Don’t deny it. Your brother would be sad to think he wasn’t the reason you decided to join us this evening. Although I’m not sure Gabriel is ready for a wildcat like you.”
How did he know? How could he possibly know? “I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but whatever it is, I’m innocent.”
BD made a face when Angelique batted her eyelashes. “I applaud your acting, cher, as well as your stealth, but it’s wasted on me. Desire was my job long before you were born. Now before you get us both in trouble, you should get down. Your brother is on his way inside as we speak.”
The thought of her big brother catching her in the act of eavesdropping had her hopping off the kitchen island swiftly and she gave BD a quick, impulsive hug. “Thanks for the heads-up.”
He chuckled, squeezing her shoulders gently before pulling back to look down at her. “Anytime, cher.” His golden gaze fell to her neck and his expression changed suddenly. “Do me a favor in return, yes? Don’t take that necklace off.”
Angelique’s brow furrowed as she reached up to fiddle with the thin, golden cross her mother had given her at her baptism. “Why?”
“Little one, I’m glad you came.” Celestin Rousseau beamed at her happily, his arms filled with food from Allegra’s favorite corner restaurant. “I brought dinner. A little bit of everything, so I hope you’re hungry.”
His relaxed, easygoing expression was so different from the brother she’d known most of her adult life that it still jarred her. She knew it was his wife and unborn child, as well as his freedom from the curse their father had forced on him, that had changed him. She couldn’t be happier for him, but it was a big adjustment.
“I’m starving. And of course I came. An evening without Mom trying to get me to move into the new house her son bought for her? Asking me when I was going to give her grandchildren like her daughter-in-law? I couldn’t pass that up.”
Her brother snorted, setting several bags down on the counter where she’d been sitting moments before. “Can you blame her? Her nest is empty. All her children growing up and flying away. Patricia moved to North Carolina with her husband this year, you came home from school and decided to stay in that old, musty apartment rather than the new room she decorated with you in mind…” He trailed off, making a face as BD guffawed.
“Not even a father yet and you already do guilt so well, mon ami.”
Angelique nodded emphatically. “He’s a natural all right. I’m a grown woman with a college degree and a normal sex drive. I love you both, but I do not want to move back in with my mommy.”
Celestin held up his hands in surrender. “And the last thing I want to hear about is my baby sister’s sex drive, adult or not. You win. I won’t mention it again.”
BD’s laughter stopped the conversation in the other room and Angelique sighed. She’d wanted to find out more about Gabriel before he came.
Allegra raised her voice from the other room. “BD? Is my husband with you? I’d get up but his child has turned me into a giant water buffalo.”
Celestin’s smile grew even more incandescent. “Duty calls. Coming, bebe.” He ruffled Angelique’s curls and handed her the last small bag he carried in his hand. “Could you put her ice cream in the freezer before it melts and start setting the table, little one?” Then he was gone.
BD was chuckling again. “That boy is going to be a great daddy.”
Angelique rolled her eyes, closing the freezer and opening drawers in search of utensils. “If great is another word for bossy, then sure. Tell me, do ex-sex spirits know where they keep the silverware around here?”
He came up beside her and pointed to a drawer while he opened the cabinet over her head where the plates were kept. “I know a lot of things. My wife is determined I become a truly modern man. I can even do laundry now.”
He winked at her and she laughed, charmed. Too bad he was taken. There was just something about him…
“Am I interrupting anything?”
The voice sent the pile of forks in her hand clattering to the counter. Her heart started to pound, her body reacting the way it did every time he came to mind. And all thoughts of the captivating BD disappeared.
Gabriel had arrived.
CONTEST-We’re continuing our 3 days of fun-I’ll be picking a winner for an Amazon gift card tomorrow, and you know all about the posting for the kindle right? I know you do :)