It can cure you. Or it can kill you.The untamed Louisiana bayou is not for the faint of heart. But until now, Tara LeBlanc has always considered it a sanctuary, its lush foliage a source of medicinal healing. What evil has infiltrated her haven? Two elderly women she loves lie near death, and Tara knows their illnesses are no accident. Only one man can save Tara from the same fate: Sheriff Rene "Bubba" Theriot. The strong-willed lawman throws his all into protecting her laying his heart on the line as well as his life. Now they both stand to lose it all as a killer gets ready to pounce....
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June 09, 2008
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Excerpt from Bayou Paradox by Robin Caroll
"They've brainwashed you." Tara LeBlanc crossed her arms over her chest and glared at her grandmother. "I can't believe you're turning your back on what you've always believed just because of CoCo and Alyssa's influence." And when Tara had opportunity, she'd tell her sisters exactly what she thought of their tactics. They'd played dirty in this silly game of religious gobbledygook.
Grandmere gave a slow shake of her head, the ends of her gray hair caressing her shoulders. "Ma ch�re, I thought the same thing for many years. Too many. Now, child, it's time to acknowledge the truth."
Tara stared out the kitchen window, chewing the inside of her cheek until she tasted a sharp, coppery tang. How had her sisters duped Grandmere? By getting her so confused she turned away from the voodoo she'd lived, breathed and actively practiced for more than five decades, that's how.
The sunny kitchen darkened as the late-afternoon sun dipped behind the treeline of the bayou. A hush fell over Lagniappe, Louisiana, escorting in the May evening. Tara turned from the window. "I already know the truth. You taught me. I can't believe you've bought into their fairy tale." That fact alone tore Tara's heart.
"So much wasted time. Had I realized how much I needed Jes--"
"Oh, don't start on the preaching stuff. I've heard it enough." And enough, and enough.
"I'm so sorry, ch�re. I've led you wrong."
"No, you haven't. CoCo and Alyssa have just skewed your thinking, is all." She knelt before Grandmere, resting her hands in her grandmother's lap. "Come on out to the workhouse with me, yes? We'll mix a cleansing potion and get your head clear." If Tara could just get her grandmother out into the shack beside the house, surely the old ways would beckon her and flush all this nonsense right out of her. Please, please, come back and teach me, Grandmere.
"Oh, ma ch�re, I should have that lean-to torn down."
Tara shoved to her feet and planted her fists on her hips, blinking back hot tears of abandonment. "Don't you dare. That's mine now. You may have been hoodwinked, but I sure as shootin' ain't falling for that fantasy trip."
Her heart thudded. Take away her rock of stability? No, she wouldn't let that happen.
"Non, I won't listen anymore. I'm going to clean up the workhouse before I head over to Tanty Shaw's." At least someone took over Tara's training to become a voodoo priestess. She only mourned that it wasn't Grandmere.
"You'll see, child. God will move in your heart."
Yeah, and so would Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy, too.
Tara let the kitchen screen door slam behind her. She stomped toward the workhouse, her steps crushing the dried grass. Her stomach twisted into tight knots. For three years she'd studied under her grandmother's tutelage, and because of her sisters' meddling, now she had to continue her studies with someone outside the family. Tradition called for the gift to be passed down from grandmother to granddaughter. Now everything had been ruined. And Tara was the one who suffered.
It was just wrong on so many different levels.
The fishy odor of the bayou drifted on the breeze, tickling Tara's nostrils. The smell reminded her that she needed to gather foliage in the next day or so. If they didn't get rain soon, she'd have to harvest all she could find before the flora died. Tara's stock had slowly diminished since Grandmere had stopped gathering. A lonely sigh escaped.
The rumble of an engine overwhelmed the cacophony of crickets, tree frogs and cicadas readying the bayou for night. She paused at the door of the lean-to, staring out over the waterway. A boat, much too big to maneuver in the tight canals, turned sharply toward the LeBlanc inlet, and suddenly the engine died. The momentum of its surge shoved the boat into the smaller cove.
If the boat kept its course, it'd run right into CoCo's airboat. That would send her oldest sister, currently away on her honeymoon, into a tailspin for sure. What a humdinger to return to--her work craft demolished.
"Hey! Slow down. Use your breaks, cooyon. You're gonna hit a boat." She made fast tracks down to the live oak tree anchoring her sister's airboat. "Stop!"
The nose of the big boat veered sharply right, barely missing the end of CoCo's vessel.
Tara popped her fists on her hips as the captain of the big craft moved to the bow deck. "What do you think you're doing? You almost crashed into the airboat."
"Sorry." The man's wide smile diminished his apology. "Didn't realize what a tight fit it'd be."
"Who are you and what are you doing here? This is private property."
"The bayou's privately owned?" He glanced around as if waiting for someone to answer his question. Three more people--two men and a woman--appeared on the deck.