When reporter Celine Arseneux entered The Playpen, a Baton Rouge club for men and women, she never expected John LeDeux to swagger up to her. Sure, the bayou's notorious bad boy is pure sex on the hoof, but even with her expose on the line, Celine refuses to be a conquest left cryin' in her crayfish--at least not again. Not for a man who doesn't remember her!
Detective LeDeux has always been too hot to handle, but now he's on fire as the cop who posed as a gigolo to bust the Dixie Mafia. Joining Tante Lulu's treasure hunt seems a fine way to avoid the media ruckus--until Celine pursues her story deep into the bayou, stoking John's hazy memories of a sizzling night five years ago.
Lovers and pirates and gangsters--oh my! It's another wild ride with Jinx Inc., where trouble is no match for a cagey Cajun matchmaker... and passion conquers all.
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Grand Central Publishing
February 29, 2008
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Excerpt from Wild Jinx by Sandra Hill
It was dawn on Bayou Black, and its inhabitants were about to launch their daily musical extravaganza, a performance as beautiful and ancient as time.
The various sounds melded: a dozen different frogs, the splash of a sac-a-lait or bream rising for a tasty insect, the whisper of a humid breeze among the mossdraped oaks, the flap of an egret's wings as it soared out from a bald cypress branch. Even the silence had a sound. The only one not making any noise was its lone human inhabitant, John LeDeux.
But not for long.
About five hundred birds took flight at that shrill greeting, not to mention every snake, rabbit, raccoon, or gator within a one-mile radius.
John jackknifed up in bed and quickly pulled the sheet up to the waist of his naked body. He was in the single bedroom of his fishing camp, another name for a cabin on the bayou. He knew exactly who was yoohooing him. His ninety-two-year-old great aunt, Louise Rivard, better known as Tante Lulu. Who else in the world says "Yoo-hoo"?
He should have known better than to buy a place within a "hoot 'n' a holler" of his aunt's little cottage. She took neighborliness to new heights. And "hoot 'n' a holler"? Mon Dieu! I'm turning into Tante Lulu.
By the time the wooden screen door slammed, putting an exclamation mark on her entry, he'd already pulled on a pair of running shorts. He yawned widely as he walked into the living room, where his aunt was carrying two shopping bags of what appeared to be food. Not a good sign.
But this was his beloved aunt, the only one who'd been there for him and his brothers during some hard times. He'd never say or do anything to hurt her feelings. "What're you doin' here, chere? It's only six-thirty, and I don't have to report for work 'til ten." John was a detective with the police department in Fontaine, a sister city to Baton Rouge. It was a two-hour drive, and most nights he stayed in an efficiency apartment he rented in Baton Rouge, but some nights, like last night, he just wanted to be home, here in his raised cottage with its stilts halfsubmerged in the bayou stream he loved. It was located on Bayou Black, far enough away from Houma to still feel private but way too close to Tante Lulu.
"You gots bags under yer eyes, Tee-John," his aunt said, totally ignoring his question. Tee-John . . . Little John . . . was a nickname that had been given to him as a kid, way before he hit his six-foot-two.
She went into his small kitchen and was unloading her goodies. French bread, boudin sausage, eggs, beignets, red and green tomatoes, garlic, okra, butter, Tabasco sauce, and the holy trinity of southern cooking: celery, onions, and bell peppers. That was just from one bag. His small fridge would never hold all this crap.
"Yeah, I've got bags. I didn't get to bed 'til three."
"Tsk, tsk, tsk! Thass one of the reasons I'm here."
"Come sit you pretty self down, honey."
He sank down into a chair, breathing in deeply of the strong chicory coffee, which she'd already set to brewing.
Now she was whipping up what appeared to be an omelette with sides of sausage and fried green tomatoes. It would do no good to argue that he rarely ate before noon.
"I may be old, but I ain't dumb. Even here in the bayou, we hear 'bout all yer hanky-panky."
He grinned. "Do you see any hot babes here?"
"Hah! Thass jist 'cause I walked in on you las' month with that Morrison tart, buck naked and her squealin' like a pig. Ya prob'ly do yer hanky-panky elsewheres now."
"You got that right," he murmured.
"Why cain't ya find yerself a nice Cajun girl, Tee-John?"
Like they don't like hanky-panky as much as the next girl! " 'Cause I'm not lookin', that's why. Besides, Jenny Morrison is not a tart."
His aunt put her hands on her tiny hips . . . she was only five-foot-zero and ninety pounds sopping wet.
"Does she have yer ring on her finger?"
His eyes went wide. "Are you kidding? Hell, no!"
"Ya gonna marry up with the girl?"
"Hell, no!" he repeated.
She shrugged. "Well, then, yer a hound dog and she's a tart. Hanky-panky is only fer people in love who's gonna get married someday."
That was the Bible, according to Tante Lulu.
"Best I bring ya some more St. Jude statues."
She raised her eyebrows at his sharp tone.
"Sorry, but, come on, Auntie. I've got a St. Jude statue in my bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, porch, car, and office. There's St. Jude napkins and salt and pepper shakers here on the table, St. Jude pot holders by the stove, St. Jude wind chimes outside, a St. Jude birdbath, and God only knows what else."
"A person cain't have too many St. Judes."
St. Jude was the patron saint of hopeless causes and his aunt's favorite. She was going to heaven someday on St. Jude brownie points, if nothing else.
"I'm not that hopeless."