Authors: Deanna Chase
Tags: #lampwork, #Fantasy Romance, #empath, #bead maker, #bourbon street, #New Orleans, #Paranormal, #Ghost, #Romance, #Fantasy
Haunted on Bourbon Street
Jade loves her new apartment— until a ghost joins her in the shower.
When empath Jade Calhoun moves into an apartment above a strip bar on Bourbon Street, she expects life to get interesting. What she doesn’t count on is making friends with an exotic dancer, attracting a powerful spirit, and developing feelings for Kane, her sexy landlord.
Being an empath has never been easy on Jade’s relationships. It’s no wonder she keeps her gift a secret. But when the ghost moves from spooking Jade to terrorizing Pyper, the dancer, it’s up to Jade to use her unique ability to save her. Except she’ll need Kane’s help—and he’s betrayed her with a secret of his own—to do it. Can she find a way to trust him and herself before Pyper is lost?
Haunted on Bourbon Street
A Jade Calhoun Novel
Bayou Moon Publishing
Copyright © 2011 by Deanna Chase
First Edition 2011
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011911981
ISBN: 978-0-9837978-0-7 Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9837978-1-4 ePub Version
Cover and Interior Design: The Printed Page, Phoenix, AZ
Back cover image: © Natalia Bratslavsky — Fotolia.com
Front cover image: © erikamariag — Fotolia.com
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locals, business establishments, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.
Bayou Moon Publishing
A huge thank you to my first readers: Susan, Angie, Kaye, Fay, and Suzanne. Without your encouragement and enthusiasm for more chapters this book may never have come to completion.
A special thanks to Jenn, my hard working critique partner; Angie, my diligent proofreader; Rhonda, my editor; and Lisa, my book designer. Your hard work and support has helped turn my dream into reality.
To Greg, my husband, thank you for being you.
There was no way I was sharing my new two-hundred-square-foot apartment with a ghost. To be honest, I didn’t know if the speculation was true, but I’d gotten the place at a steal because my landlord couldn’t keep it rented. Considering the abundance of documented ghost lore in the French Quarter, I wasn’t taking any chances.
On moving day I walked the two blocks to The Herbal Connection. The front window housed an elaborate book display of the title,
Vampires of New Orleans
. To the right were neat rows of Suck It wine with blood-tinged fangs on the labels. I grimaced. All signs led to the likelihood of just another tourist shop. Still, it was possible they had basic supplies I could work with.
As soon as I walked in I knew I’d found the perfect shop. The sandalwood scent dissipated and a gentle, salt-filled sea breeze tickled my senses. My favorite place on earth was the beach. Whoever ran the place was doing an excellent job. It took a highly skilled practitioner to cast an illusion tailored to each individual patron.
“Can I help you?” A southern drawl floated from the back of the shop. As she stepped from behind a display, my eyes settled on a more expensive, classier version of my Aunt Gwen. The two could almost be twins, except the shop lady had salon-dyed auburn hair and wore white linen slacks, topped off with a coral blouse, while Gwen had natural gray curls and always wore her standard red T-shirt and coveralls. Of course, Gwen rode her tractor daily, and I had no trouble picturing this woman sipping mint juleps on a veranda.
I smiled. “Hello. Yes, I need a sage and cedar smudge stick if you have it.”
“Of course we do, dear.” She crossed the room and held out her hand. “I’m Bea, owner of the shop.”
My clammy hand met her cool grip. “Jade. Nice to meet you.”
“Cleansing negative energy?”
She grinned. “You must be new in town.”
Looking down at my faded jeans and simple cotton T-shirt, I wondered if I had a fresh-from-Idaho vibe radiating off me. It was possible. I’d only been in New Orleans for a month. “Is it that obvious?”
She laughed. “No. I would have remembered if you’d been here before.”
Why? Did she have a photographic memory? While I’d been told my willowy frame and long strawberry-blond hair combined with my pale Irish skin was striking, I hardly stood out in the sea of characters who wound their way through the French Quarter on a daily basis.
She rushed to explain. “Most people who come in here don’t know what they’re looking at. I know almost everyone in New Orleans who has knowledge of the craft.”
Oh. Doing a simple cleanse was miles from using craft. I didn’t particularly like being mistaken for one who manipulated spells.
She hummed softly as she packaged my items, and when I handed her my credit card she peered at me. The beach breeze vanished, replaced by the sandalwood scent. A warm sensation wrapped around me in a slow circle. It took me a moment to realize it was coming from Bea. She was reading me with a witch’s spell. Instantly I dropped my barriers and sent out my senses. If she could read me, I could do the same to her. Only, I wasn’t a witch. Empaths don’t need spells to read other people.
Excitement mixed with a heavy dose of curiosity radiated from her in light, feathery waves. I realized her energy was a lot like mine. Most people’s emotions are a little thick and sometimes hard to wade through. Hers felt light, inviting and familiar. What exactly could this woman do, and what had she learned about me? I’d assumed she was just a witch practitioner; now I knew she was also some sort of intuitive.
I stepped back, blinked, and the sea-salted air returned.
“There’s something special about you,” she said.
More like a curse. I pasted on a smile and pretended nothing had happened. “That’s what my mother always used to say.”
Her eyes sparkled, and she leaned in closer. “Very interesting, indeed.” She placed her hand over mine, and a spark sent a jolt to my shoulder.
Jumping back, I pulled my hand out of her grasp.
Her smile turned to a grin, and she clapped her hands together in delight. “Oh, my dear! You simply must come by my house for tea some afternoon. We have much to talk about. Here’s my card.” She slipped it in the bag.
I grabbed the handle and turned to go. “Um, okay. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome, Jade. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”
I waved as I pushed the door open to the street, knowing I wouldn’t call her. My last memory of my mother blowing me a kiss as she headed off to her coven meeting flashed in my mind. Tears burned the back of my eyes. I blinked them back. Bad things always seemed to happen when witches and intuitives got together. No. It didn’t matter how curious I was about Bea, I knew it was best to keep to myself.
Buildings, especially old buildings, often retain an imprint of emotions from previous residents. When I’d first visited my new place I’d sensed a profound sadness. It was easy to understand why new tenants hadn’t felt comfortable there. People didn’t need to be empaths for negativity to unknowingly work its way into their being.
Fortunately, after a thorough smudging, when I opened myself up the place felt brand new. No sadness, and no evidence of a ghost. If there was one, it was gone now. Satisfied, I spent the next few hours hauling my stuff up the three very steep flights of stairs, and by the time the delivery men arrived with my new mattress, I’d sweated enough to soak right through my shirt. I’d sent them off with their tip and was headed toward the shower when a knock sounded at my door.
I cast a longing glance at my bathroom before I answered. Mortification rooted me to my wide pinewood floors, and my face burned as I stared at the man who never failed to make my stomach quiver.
“Hey,” Kane said.
He held up a box wrapped in elegant gold paper. “I come bearing gifts.”
Did my landlord bring presents to all his new tenants?
“Pyper asked me to bring it up.”
Of course. Pyper was my boss and Kane’s business partner. Kane owned the building and, with Pyper’s help, managed the attached strip club. Pyper also ran the coffee shop next door, where I worked part time. I wasn’t certain, but I thought maybe they had something going on the side. “Thanks. That was sweet of her.” I opened the door wider. “Come on in. It’s moving day, so the place is a little messy.”
“No, it’s okay. I don’t want to bother you.” His gaze traveled the length of my body. I couldn’t help myself. I knew I shouldn’t do it. Reading someone’s emotions was such an invasion of privacy, and I knew at that moment I resembled a character from a Tim Burton movie, but I let down my barriers and probed anyway.
To my surprise, mild appreciation mixed with humor filled my senses, until his gaze landed on my face. His energy changed to something close to pity. I flinched and raised my shields. Pity? The man felt pity for the way I looked. What else could I expect from a guy who owned a strip bar? Stupid, shallow, piece of… Whatever. It wasn’t like I would actually ever date him anyway. The strip club thing aside, he was taken. I think.
I tried to hide my scowl and reached for the gift. “Okay, then. Thanks for stopping by.”
“No problem.” He turned to go, then looked back. “Hey, do you want to come down to the club later? It’s ladies’ night.”
The invitation caught me off guard. I blinked. “Ladies’ night?”
“Yeah, free admission and free drinks all night.”
Right, because my idea of the perfect evening included watching naughty librarians and pussycats strip down to their dental floss, while drinking myself into oblivion. “No, thanks. It’s been a long day.”
He glanced past me into the apartment and nodded. “Right. Just thought I’d ask.”
I waited until he’d disappeared down the stairs then slammed the door. Son of a bitch. The closest thing to a date invitation I’d had in months had been to a strip club. What was wrong with me?
I flopped on my new mattress because I didn’t have any other furniture yet and plucked the envelope off the present. I let it slide through my fingers for a few moments before turning it over. It read:
Jade, Welcome home
. My foul mood vanished. A smiled tugged at my lips. I didn’t have many friends. Okay, I had one friend and right then, things were…awkward. It happens when your best friend starts dating your ex.