Authors: Melinda Barron
Tags: #Erotic Paranormal Romance
Thinking about breakfast made her stomach rumble.
Time to shower, eat and get the day going.
She moved back inside the window, stopping to stare at the doorway. Her two large black cats, Trinculo and Prospero, stood just beyond the entry to the bedroom, staring at her.
“Come on in, you two.” When they didn’t move, she put her hands on her hips. “Listen, your strike about avoiding this room needs to end. There’s nothing here. Get in here or no tuna for you tonight.”
When neither cat moved, she frowned. This really was getting to be too much. They’d had one strange experience and the cats would no longer come in here. At first, they’d been thrilled with their new surroundings. They’d run from room to room, examining each place and checking out new furniture as it had arrived.
She knew they’d picked out their favorite places to sleep, and hoped that, when guests started arriving, the closed doors would not upset her felines. And she hoped whatever dogs the customers brought were okay with cats. Her four-legged companions were laid-back enough to be ambivalent about having new animals around. They never had. This was why it concerned her that they’d banished themselves from her bedroom.
“Weirdos.” She stepped toward them, stopping just inside the doorway. She bent down and extended her hand. “Come on, Culo, Pero, come here.” If she didn’t know better, she would almost bet that they both shook their heads. Either way, neither of them moved, their stony stares remaining fixed on her face.
“You know I miss you two at night. Do you miss me?” They gave her no indication of an answer and Tempest stood. “Fine, be that way. Maybe I should trade you in for newer models.”
The moment she stepped outside the room, both cats started to meow furiously.
“Okay, I’ll feed you. Give me a second.”
She hurried to the bathroom, wondering how much money it would cost to outfit her own room with a private bath. When she’d first moved in, the idea there wasn’t one hadn’t bothered her. But the more she thought about it, the more she’d decided she wanted one. She made a mental note to ask the plumber today. She went about her business, then traveled down the stairs, both cats running around her to race toward the kitchen.
She put down food, watching as they bent their heads toward the bowls. “At least your fear of my bedroom didn’t put you off your eating schedule.” After a few minutes of watching them scarf down food, she decided it was time for her to do the same.
After taking a quick shower, she donned some jeans and a loose T-shirt. A trip to the corner store provided her with coffee and beignets, which she enjoyed in the garden as she watched Culo and Pero chase after insects. Watching their exuberance reminded her of the listless way they would stare into her bedroom, and their refusal to cross the entranceway.
Something was up. Maybe she needed to have a priest come over and bless the house, or she should burn some sage around each room. Or both. That would cover all her bases. Before she did that, though, she needed to finish the renovations.
“I’m going inside, you two. Are you coming with me?” Both of them stopped chasing a butterfly and turned to her. The looks on their faces said, “We’re having fun, leave us alone.”
Tempest laughed. “Lazy butts. You need to grow opposable thumbs so you can pick up a paint brush.”
She turned toward the house, her energy picking up just a little with the influx of caffeine. She’d paint, then take a break for another trip to the store for another jolt of coffee. It would be a perfect morning.
* * * *
Tempest groaned and tried to open one eye. Her body felt as if she’d been fitted with a suit of lead.
“Ms. Gandy? Do I need to call the ambulance?”
The accent made the word sound like “ambalance.” Tempest opened both eyes and looked into the concerned face of Mr. Hathaway, her gardener. Behind him stood the plumber, a man whose name she could never remember.
She looked around and tried to gain her bearings. She was on the kitchen floor, a paintbrush clutched in one hand. The overturned container of paint rested on the floor, leaving a trail of yellow that lead toward the backdoor. Her free hand was resting in it.
She pulled it up and stared as the paint dripped from her palm. “What…?”
“You sick?” The plumber continued to stare at her as if he thought she would sprout another head.
“No, I’m fine.” She tried to sit up, her one and only head spinning. Thank goodness she didn’t have another one. What had happened? She remembered going to the store and enjoying her coffee and beignets. Then she’d come back here and started to paint. She’d been tired, she remembered, and had yawned. And then there had been the voice, deep and commanding, sensual yet just a little scary, telling her to sleep, to let him in.
Her stomach flipped and her heart went into overdrive, making her chest ache. What the hell had happened?
“I’m fine,” she said, keeping her voice low. “Really, I just must have…fallen sleep.”
“While paintin’?” Mr. Hathaway took the brush from her hand and laid it across the lip of the can. “You want I should call your parents? Or one your brothers? Or ya sista?”
“No, thank you.” She took his hand as he helped her up. Behind him, the no name plumber was looking around the room, his gaze nervous. “I’m fine. I just haven’t been sleeping very well.”
“’Dis place too big for one woman to fix.” The gardener’s face drew into a frown.
“That’s why I have you, Mr. Hathaway, and you, Mr….Melton,” the name came to her lips at the last minute. “Plus a whole handful of other workers who are willing to get things done.”
When neither of them replied, she stepped toward the sink, running her hand under the warm water. “Speaking of fixing things, what’s up?”
“Nothing yet,” Mr. Melton said. “I was going upstairs when we found you here. Course I had to wait to get inside since you didn’t answer the door at first. I rang the bell and knocked.”
She nodded, wondering how they’d gotten into the house, then remembering that she’d given Mr. Hathaway, who had worked for her parents for years, a key.
“I’m sorry.” She’d slept through the bell? And someone knocking at the door? She glanced around. Where were Culo and Pero? “The cats…”
“They outside,” Mr. Hathaway supplied. “In the garden, sleeping.”
“I guess it was an epidemic.” Tempest hoped her laugh covered up her nervousness. “Okay, let’s get to work. I’ll come and talk to each of you about different ideas I have. Just give me a minute.”
Both men nodded and headed out, one to the backdoor, the other to the back staircase. When they were gone, Tempest wiped off her hand, then headed toward the phone. Something was going on in this house. She wasn’t sure what, but she was pretty sure it was something supernatural. You didn’t grow up in New Orleans and not believe in that type of thing.
Having dreams while she was sleeping was one thing, but being commanded to fall asleep was another problem altogether.
There was only one person that she knew of who had a handle on otherworldly things. She punched in a number she knew by heart, smiling at the soft, “WXBJ, how may I help you?” that greeted her ears.
“Yes, I’d like to speak with Quinn Nicholas, please. It’s urgent. Tell her Tempest Gandy is calling.”
What is happening here?
Does she think she can just go out of the house at night?
That can’t be allowed
Her nights belong to me
There had been a major break today
She’d succumbed to my demands during the waking hours
It brought me such pleasure to watch her crumble to the floor
To see her eyes close, to hear her whispered “Yes, Sir” in response to my command
It means she’s close to being mine, totally
So many of my kind rushed into these things, scaring their chosen women
I know better, though
Women give more easily of themselves if one takes the time to seduce them
And now that she’s proven her worth, she is ready
Today would be the perfect time
She will call
And I will answer, in full form
I’ll make her my own, permanently
Maybe I shouldn’t wait
We should consummate things now
There was no response from her.
Next to her, the cat hissed and ran from the room and she turned to watch it, frowning.
A ringing bell tore a scream from his throat as she focused her attention on the instrument in her hand.
This won’t do
You can’t ignore me!
You will be punished for this
Tonight, I will see to your discipline and you will never ignore me again
Tonight you will learn that your life belongs to me
* * * *
A “come as you are” type of place, huh? Tempest stood in front of Franco’s Grill, glancing at the pristine white façade. A simple menu board gave prices for the offered fare, which included pasta, seafood and po’boys. Her stomach rumbled at the thought of an oyster po’boy, stuffed full of the delicious seafood treat and dripping with wonderfully spicy rémoulade sauce.
The prices were moderate, but the front of the restaurant promised something special. She hoped she was dressed appropriately, wearing only jeans and a cotton blouse. Restaurants in the French Quarter varied from simple to extravagant. This one seemed middle of the road from its modest front.
But from the looks of the menu, Quinn had definitely made a good choice for their meeting. Her longtime friend had been thrilled to hear from her, but when Tempest had told her she needed information on ghosts, Quinn’s manner had turned serious. She’d suggested a dinner with her two lovers, Devlin St. Giles and Fletcher Covair, and Tempest had quickly agreed.
She knew Dev and Fletch were part of a group that hunted ghosts throughout the
If Quinn could do that, why couldn’t Tempest find love with one man? That idea totally sucked. Maybe she needed to get out more often. One thing to support that fact was the idea this restaurant was mere blocks from her new home, and she’d never even known it was here. Yes, she definitely needed to get out more.
She stepped inside the door. Jazz music greeted her and she looked around the room. It was a bar. Her eyes widened as she searched for Quinn. Not seeing her friend, her brows furrowed. She was sure Quinn had said Franco’s Grill on
One more scan of the room didn’t pinpoint Quinn, but it definitely hit on the absolutely gorgeous man who was making his way toward her. He was tall, well over six feet, with dark hair and a grin that twinkled all the way up to his dark eyes.
When he reached her, he winked. “Tempest?”
Oh my—I should—I should say something.
“Who are you?”
She groaned at her choice of greeting. It didn’t seem to bother him, though. He laughed softly and put his hand on her arm. The touch was light, but it made her body tingle with delight.
“I’m Franco LeBeau, your host. Quinn and the gang are upstairs, in the restaurant.”
Stupid, Tempest, stupid!
She was out of practice with the male sex if all she could think to say to this absolutely stunning man was cool. She should have said, “Nice to meet you,” or “How did you know I was Tempest,” or better yet, “You’re absolutely gorgeous. Can I get an order of you to go?”
“Let me take you there.” He stepped behind her and put his hand on the small of her back. Her body pulsed in response to his touch as he steered her toward the circular stairway that set in the far corner.
They passed a stairway that ran against the wall and she glanced at it as they walked by.
“That one goes to the main room.” How had he known she was thinking about it? “The other one goes to a private room that I use for parties and such.”
“Sounds good,” she replied. Where was her brain? It obviously decided to take a dinner break the minute she’d seen this man walking toward her because it didn’t seem to be working anymore. She should have said, “How many people make up a special party? Two maybe, like you and me? If that’s the case, what’s on the menu? You? After a round of oysters, that is. Make that several rounds.”
Tempest flushed as they made their way up the stairs. She was hyper-aware of the fact he was behind her, watching as she climbed. She was also very conscious of the fact that her mind was thinking about having sex with this man. She envisioned herself bent over as he pounded into her, bringing her to orgasm, making her scream. The next scene showed her with her legs splayed wide, his head buried between them. Pleasure snaked through her as his tongue teased her clit.