One remote bayou mansion was holding tight to its secrets
Bodyguard Brian Marcentel knew Justine Chatry had a job to do, but so did he. He'd been hired to keep her safe--from whatever lurked behind the walls of a long-neglected mansion. And yet, the beautiful researcher insisted on helping him investigate every suspicious noise and following him through the murky bayou as he tracked down trespassers. All of that paled in comparison, though, to his greatest challenge: trying to resist her when the fear took over and she looked to him for protection. Still, no matter how fiery their attraction, there was something about this frustrating, sexy woman that seemed so familiar. But trying to penetrate her secrets was like trying to keep her out of his arms. Or out of his bed.
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June 30, 2011
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Excerpt from Bayou Bodyguard by Jana DeLeon
It looked like something out of a Stephen King novel, Justine Chatry thought, as she stared at the house in front of her in the fading dim of daylight. Of course, mansion was a better word for the ten-thousand-square-foot, three-story monstrosity that rose up out of the bayou, its dark windows peeking out from moss-covered stone and seeming to stare back at her.
It was at least eighty degrees in Cypriere, Louisiana, but Justine felt a chill come over her, and she crossed her arms in front of her chest, trying to cast off the feeling of foreboding. laMalediction, the locals called it--meaning "the curse." Both beautiful and horrifying, seductive and sinister, it seemed to call to her.
And that gave her the creeps.
She chided herself for being fanciful and reached back into her car to grab her small suitcase. Just because her mother chose to believe in haunts and curses didn't mean Justine followed suit. The house was a house. Granted, this house was an extremely large one--with a bloody history--but that didn't change the job she had to do. In fact, it made her job all the more interesting.
"You made it." A voice called from the entry to the house, and Justine looked up and waved at Olivia Mark-ham, the woman who'd hired her for the research job at laMalediction. Olivia smiled and crossed the courtyard to Justine's car.
"I'm glad to see you," Olivia said. "I was starting to worry you wouldn't make it here by dark. We've made some strides clearing the road to the house, but it's still not the best place to be at night if you don't know where you're going."
Justine smiled, thinking "road" was a bit of a stretch to call the dirt path almost hidden by the swamp. "Sorry I worried you. I got held up by my mother. She's a professional at making me late."
Olivia opened the door to the backseat and pulled out one of Justine's boxes of supplies. "I hope she's not worried about you staying here," Olivia said, as they walked toward the house.
Justine frowned. "She's not thrilled, but my mother is not your average person."
Olivia balanced the box on her hip and opened the front door to the house so Justine could walk inside. "What do you mean?" Olivia asked. "Is there such a thing as an average mother?"
"Probably not, but mine is worse than most. She was raised deep in the bayou and still believes in the old ways."
Olivia closed the door and stared at her. "Voodoo?"
"Yeah," Justine said and stared beyond Olivia at the wall behind her. Her mother's insistence on using spells and potions to manage every aspect of her life and health, along with her attempts to direct Justine the same way, had resulted in years of constant friction between them.
"Wow," Olivia said and started down a hallway. "You never told me that when we talked before."
"It's not something I like to tell a lot of people."
Olivia gave her a sympathetic look. "I understand, but given the situation here, your secondhand knowledge of voodoo may help you with your research."
Justine stared at Olivia. "You don't believe in that stuff, do you?"
"I believe there are more things unexplained than explained here at laMalediction. And I believe the former residents believed in it. Understanding those beliefs may help you find the missing emeralds."
"And fulfill a voodoo prophecy, right?"
Olivia shrugged. "That's what the journals say. I figured a historian like you would love to solve an old mystery with a treasure at the end."
"Yes," Justine agreed, although her reasons for taking the job involved so much more than locating the allegedly cursed emeralds that Olivia referred to. So much more that Justine hadn't told Olivia or anyone else, and didn't intend to. If Olivia...