Featured today at the handbag blog with Vicki Batman. Don’t you love my kitties?
When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of Pittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious–but handsome–lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.
Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her–especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to threaten danger.
Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?
In the swamp, the fire illuminated the multi-tiered altar and some of those who gathered around it. Painted with tribal markings in black and white, the three drummers’ faces
stood out like bare skulls against the reflected flames.
The people in the back row were silhouettes only, dark outlines swaying to the rhythm of the drums.
On the altar, Brianna identified a Damballah cross on the top level, surrounded by a number of unlit candles, and some small statues. On the next level sat a bottle of liquor. A large bowl and some cups on a tray were laid out before it, and what looked like a loaf of bread next to a large machete, blade gleaming in the firelight. Bright, tropical flowers decorated all the levels.
Finally, on the ground to the left of the table was a large box with a screen on the front, that appeared to be a carrying case for an animal, something alive.
It was one thing to see these items laid out in a cold array at a museum; quite another when an actual voodoo ritual was taking place before her eyes.
Avoiding the thrill of fright blazing through her, she focused on the table, searching for clues to why she and Evan had been summoned.
As the drums continued their spellbinding beat, a dark figure eased into the light before the altar, a tall, slender person dressed in black. Moving gracefully to the rhythm, the priest approached, bearing a tall black candle, which he used to light the other candles.
Eyes closed, chanting words Brianna could not understand, the priest turned slowly around to face the others. Those seated before him on rough wooden benches rocked from side to side.
She gasped when she recognized the man as Copper, dressed as she’d seen him in her mind’s eye when she’d touched that first note, a red turban on his head and, on his face, jagged red paint slashes like bloody lightning.
Instinctively, she pulled back, hoping they couldn’t be seen in the shadows.
He turned to the altar and lit two long sticks of incense, which soon filled the clearing with an exotic smoky scent. Walking in lock-step with the beat of the drum, he reached for a cup and one of the bottles. He poured red liquid into the cup, then held it up.
The drums stopped.
He spoke loudly in English, gesturing with the cup to the four corners of the clearing.
“By the power of St. Anthony of Padua, Legba Atibon, guardian of the crossroads, Legba, guardian of the bush, Legba, guardian of the house, Ago, ago si, Ago la!”
After the words passed, the drummers played again, even louder. Copper took a drink of the liquid, pouring some also into the fire where it hissed into smoke. He handed the closest drummer the bottle, and he drank from it, then passed it to the man on his left.
He drank as well, and did the same. Whatever was in the bottle seemed to inspire them. Their drums reverberated with sound until Brianna could hardly breathe.
Copper leaned down before the altar, shaking something onto the ground. Brianna couldn’t see what he was doing, so she inched up until she stood behind the thick tree trunk next to her. He held some sort of painted tin, and from it, he dropped a white substance on the dirt in a distinct design.
“What’s that?” Evan whispered.
“That would be the veve,” Brianna whispered back. “It’s the sign for a particular deity or spirit. First, there should be the drummer’s veve, then there will be others, depending on which spirit they are calling forward.”
Her heart pounded so hard, she couldn’t believe Copper didn’t hear it.
Copper drew a second figure on the ground. The drums’ rhythm changed. Several people in flowing robes rose from the first row and began a seductive, erotic dance. The dancers thrust their hips forward and sideways in a frenzied manner, moving around the fire
kettles oblivious to each other until the drums stopped again. They froze.
“Gator Guede, le bon ton roulette, ye, ye, ye.”
He raised the cup to the sky, then took a long drink before dumping some in the fire, causing it to flare up.
He poured the remaining contents of the bottle into the large bowl, then added a red liquid Brianna hoped was wine, swirling the bowl in a large gesture before his chest.
The drums beat a new rhythm, so compelling Brianna could hardly keep still. The lead dancer took the bowl from Copper and passed it among the participants.
When all had drunk, the dancers returned to the area before the fire and danced again, the drummers changing rhythm to something more primal. The silhouettes moved between Brianna, Evan and the fire, rotating their shoulders and bouncing up and down.
They left a respectful space between themselves and Copper, who continued to create more designs on the ground, evenly spaced and spreading out toward the edges of the clearing.
He began to chant again, this time echoed by a chorus from those seated on the ground. Brianna felt herself drawn into the give-and-take, her head and thoughts growing fuzzy.
“Do you know what they’re saying?” Evan asked.
Brianna pulled herself back with difficulty. She shook her head, a little dazed.
Here, hold my hand,” she whispered. “I feel so strange. If I look like I’m getting—” She stopped, unsure how to explain what she was experiencing.
She didn’t believe in this stuff. Not at all.
Then why do I feel like there’s spiders crawling around inside me?
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Come read about Sherman Ranch caretaker Jake Patrin and his history and bucket list. Do you think life had prepared him for the events that are about to unfold?
To Heal a Heart – Blurb
Garrett Saunders’ world changed two years ago on a road in Afghanistan. Back home, he feels like a stranger. As he struggles to find his place in the world, he meets a horse destined for the slaughterhouse and a woman bent on rescuing the strays of the world, including him.
Blair Greyson moves to Masonville to look after her ailing grandfather and give her rescue horses a home. Right away she butts heads with a surly former Marine. Despite a rocky start, they come to an agreement: Blair will board Garrett’s rescue horse and he’ll help with repairs around her farm.
Garrett finds purpose working with Blair—and falls in love with her. But she’s hiding a secret. Can she forgive herself and accept Garrett’s love, or will she let guilt and regret continue to rule her life?
About the author:
Jana Richards has tried her hand at many writing projects over the years, from magazine articles and short stories to full-length paranormal suspense and romantic comedy. She loves to create characters with a sense of humor, but also a serious side. She believes there’s nothing more interesting then peeling back the layers of a character to see what makes them tick.
When not writing up a storm, working at her day job as an Office Administrator, or dealing with ever present mountains of laundry, Jana can be found on the local golf course pursuing her newest hobby.
Jana lives in Western Canada with her husband Warren, and a highly spoiled Pug/Terrier cross named Lou. You can reach her through her website at http://www.janarichards.com
Jana Richards’ Social media links:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/janarichards
Amazon UK Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B002DEVWWG
Newsletter Signup: http://janarichards.com/contact.html#newsletter
TENDER MISDEMEANORS debuts today across all the sales venues. If you have a review, please post it! If you’ve been waiting to read, please buy it! If you wants to learn more about me, the book and all sorts of things, follow the Silver Dagger Book Tour and enter to win! Please share to your reader friends!
She’s a federal agent. He’s an Eco-warrior. When they meet in the woods at gunpoint, their encounter ignites a spark of interest, despite operating on opposite sides of the law. Tender Misdemeanors by Alana Lorens https://www.amazon.com/Tender-Misdemeanors-Alana-Lorens-ebook/dp/B084FTTWP2 #wrpbks #romanticsuspense
Here’s the book tour schedule!
kickoff at Silver Dagger Book Tours
Maggie Blackbird – GUEST POST
Viviana MacKade – GUEST POST
Romance Novel Giveaways – GUEST POST
Readeropolis – GUEST POST
The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – GUEST POST
Inside the Insanity – GUEST POST
Plain Talk Book Marketing – GUEST POST
ⒾⓃⓉⓇⓄⓈⓅⒺⒸⓉⒾⓋⒺ ⓅⓇⒺⓈⓈ – GUEST POST
GOOD LUCK to you and to me! It’s a great story and fits right in with our times!!
Teo Haroun and the other lawyers in his firm head for a team-building retreat at the Sherman Ranch in northern New Mexico. The boss has laid down some rules—no phones, computers, or communication with the outside world. But the exercises are necessary for this firm to survive its inner sniping and turmoil—and to protect the secrets they hold.
Inez Suela and thirty other Mexicans have paid a coyote hundreds of pesos to take them across the border into the US, where they hope to make a better life. The crowded truck heads north into New Mexico to meet their local driver, the occupants unaware that a freak March snowstorm is waiting in its path.
Jake Patrin, the caretaker of the Ranch, fights demons of his own as he struggles daily with addiction. Working far from the city on the lonely Ranch, hosting those who rent the facility, is his protection and solace. But he’s about to lose the only peace he’s been able to grasp.
Davi Pilar needs to make some fast money to appease a couple of St. Louis loan sharks, so he agrees to pick up a truckload of illegals and take them to St. Louis. He drives to New Mexico, not knowing that Inez, the woman who rejected him years before, is one of those on that truck.
The intersection of these people, the collision of their cultures, the revelation of their secrets—all these things lead to violence, death, and even redemption in their New Mexico ENCOUNTER.
The idea of the retreat intrigued Teo from the beginning. Because of the disparate nature of the firm, two partners each in Arlington, Denver and Chicago, tradition dictated a group meeting at least once a year. This year, one of the Denver partners had suggested something other than their usual lush digs at a luxury hotel in a major city.
She’d come across the Sherman Ranch, five hundred acres of wilderness and a few communal style buildings west of Taos. The “in” thing for corporate groups, she’d suggested, was a professional course in team-building, to help the group learn about and come to depend on each other and their shared goals. She had rented the ranch for a week and hired Harmonics Inc. to lead them. Two hours from now, the ‘adventure’ would begin.
Laughter came from the bar again, and Mitch’s shoulders squared up. “Cattrin here yet?”
“In there.” That was one of the reasons Teo’d left the room, holding no love for Mitch’s Arlington office mate.
Mitch grumbled. “She texted me she spent last evening art-shopping Canyon Road.” He checked his phone, then glanced outside where the dark blue van awaited. “She’d better have shipped whatever she got back to Tyson’s Corners. There’s no room on the van for any fluffery.”
Teo mulled several responses before offering, “You’re the boss.”
“It’s good to be the king. Isn’t that what they say?” The twinkle in Mitch’s eye belied the tightening of his jaw. He glanced at the doorway to the bar. “She in there?”
“Annie?” Teo replied, with a slow nod.
A deep breath signaled Mitch’s reluctance for this particular face-to-face. “It should be a rule: Never stay in business with your ex-wife.”
Teo let irony sink into his tone. “Not likely.”
He had a solid work history, he was a rainmaker, and he was very circumspect, but after he’d been outted several years before – by one of the aforementioned catty females – it had become clear there would never be a wife. Or perhaps even companions.
Not any more.
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