Finally, a new release! It’s been a while, right? Not something readers who’ve followed me for a while expect. I used to spit out stories at a crazy pace. But I think I can be given a bit of break given all the trauma-drama my family have gone through in recent months with the injury, long recovery, and then death of my father. Losing him, especially when I was so involved in his care, was devastating, but now, I’m ready to get “out there” again.
Last month, my daughter and I made a two-day jaunt to New Orleans to “refill” my writerly well. I think it worked. You can judge the result for yourself. I’ve been to New Orleans multiple times, but this time, I directly applied that experience to the pages I wrote—including the description of where we stayed while we were inside the city.
Enjoy the trip to New Orleans. Enjoy the very sexy romance between my Cajun SEAL, Thibaut, and his childhood sweetheart, Amelie. It’s a hot story, so be sure to have a glass of ice water handy while you read. And when you do read it, let me know whether you’d like more stories set in the Big Easy. 🙂
Hot SEAL, New Orleans Nights
The last thing this SEAL wants is to open his heart to her again, but Amelie needs the “hands on” kind of protection only he can provide…
Navy SEAL, Thibaut “T-Bone” Cyr, has a lot on his mind. The time is approaching when he’ll either have to re-up with the Navy or leave. He’s come home to New Orleans to spend time in his old stomping grounds while he mulls over his decision. New Orleans is where his roots are, where his family lives, but he wants to stay on the downlow while he considers his future. He’s also hoping the past he left behind doesn’t still haunt him. Fourteen years ago, he fled the city when the woman he loved dumped him.
Amelie Rivette is back in New Orleans, ready to start again. She’s helping her blind aunt run a voodoo shop in the French Quarter, but her aunt’s troubles are getting complicated. After a string of bad luck, which includes a robbery and threatening calls, Amelie finds herself trapped inside the shop when a fire is set, and she’s attacked by an assailant.
Coming to the rescue of his ex-girlfriend, Thibaut finds himself torn. The last thing he wants is to relive the pain of their breakup, but Amelie needs the kind of protection he can provide. Soon, neither of them can resist their attraction, but while they reconnect physically, he holds back his heart, not trusting that what he feels is real and not some remnant of their shared past. Complicating matters is that their families are conspiring to give him a reason to stay in New Orleans.
When Amelie is kidnapped, Thibaut realizes he’s still in love with her. Hoping he’s not too late, he sets out to save her.
He continued toward the sign that read MADAME JOSETTE’S HOUSE OF VOODOO. He stood with his hand on the doorknob, looking through the crowded shop window, past the voodoo dolls, candles, beaded necklaces, and Mardi Gras masks, through to the wooden counter painted in a glossy Chinese red with its old-fashioned apothecary shelving behind it, filled with organic mysteries. Josette wasn’t seated in her tall chair behind the counter. No one appeared to be inside the shop. Didn’t she know when she gave tarot readings in the back that someone needed to keep watch over the cash register?
But then he remembered the bell above the door, which she didn’t really need because of her uncanny knack for sensing her surroundings. The woman couldn’t see her old deck of cards but knew instinctively which she placed on her table, something that had fascinated him as a child.
He turned the knob, listened to the light tinkling of the bell, and stepped inside, inhaling the scent of whatever incense Josette had set to burn that morning.
Shuffling sounded from the stockroom beyond a beaded curtain. “Be right with you,” came a musical voice. Not Josette’s.
He swallowed hard and held his breath as a slim hand parted the curtain, and Amelie Rivette stepped out. His reaction told him that he’d been lying to himself. That she was the reason he was here. Fourteen years hadn’t blunted her effect, not according to the familiar tightening of his chest and his frozen thoughts.
The years had been kind to Amelie. Her curly hair came to her jaw rather than cascading down her back but was still a glossy, dark brown. Fine lines framed her hazel-green eyes, and her cheekbones were a little more defined, but her skin was smooth, and still that lovely dark cream that denoted her mixed heritage.
His glance touched on her mouth for only a moment, but that millisecond was just long enough to cause his blood to heat. Her lips were still full and soft-looking, and partly opened as though she was just as shocked to see him.
“Amelie,” he said, the word sandpaper-coarse because he had to force it past his tightened throat.
“Thibaut,” she said, and then her lips twitched, and she gave him a polite smile.
His back stiffened at that smile. Like he was a stranger, or worse, someone she’d hoped never to see again. A bitter taste entered his mouth because they’d parted, promising to remain “friends.”
“You’re back…” she said, a tiny frown forming between her brows.
“No,” he answered automatically, because damn if he didn’t want to disagree with even the simplest comment she might make. “I’m only here for a little while.”
“Visiting, then…” Her shoulders relaxed.
“You back?” He arched a brow then parroted, “Visiting?”
Her lips closed around a tight smile. “Actually, I moved back to help my aunt. If you stopped in to see her, you just missed her. She’s gone home already.”
He nodded. “Tell her I stopped by.”
“I will. I’ll let her know you’ll see her…another time,” she said, sounding a little breathless.
That was his cue to leave, but he hesitated to turn away. He wanted to keep looking at her. Committing everything to memory. Wiping clean the image he’d carried in his head for years of the way she’d looked before she’d turned to descend the steps of his family’s home and exited the wrought iron gate with the sun gleaming on her long hair, her cheeks pale and her eyes sparkling with tears—and her lips swelling slightly from the hard kiss he’d given her when she’d bid him goodbye.
Firming his mouth, he gave her a nod. “Good to see you, Amelie.”
Amelie stood frozen until he walked out the door. Good Lord, the man sucked the oxygen out of the room. His body seemed taller, larger than she’d remembered, and ripped. Gone was the soft handsome babyface he’d had throughout school that had made all the girls giggle and swoon. Now, his cheeks and chin were hard-edged. Even his dark stare cut like a laser. Like a caged tiger, his movements were fluid but reflected his physical power. She shivered thinking about the way he’d looked at her, his gaze flicking over her face and body, leaving a hot trail of want she fought to quell. There was no use thinking about him in any sexy way. She was the last woman on earth he’d ever want again, something he’d made abundantly clear when she’d broken up with him on the eve of leaving for Illinois.
“Illinois? What the hell, Amelie?” he’d said on that long-ago afternoon, his grip on her upper arms tightening. “I’m going to Tulane. You said you were, too.”
Yes, they’d both received offers of scholarships to Tulane. Him for football, her for math. But she hadn’t told him about the second offer. The one her father had pressured her to accept.
“You lied to me? All summer, you lied…to me?” he’d said, his dark brows furrowing in a fierce frown.
“I didn’t lie,” she’d whispered.
He gave her a little shake. “You let me talk about getting us a place near school…” His mouth curled into a snarl. “I told you I loved you. Said we’d get married.”
She panted, every word making her gasp with pain for what would never be. By his darkening expression, he’d never forgive her, never let her explain.
“Don’t you dare say you’re sorry,” he spat.
She swallowed, tears beginning to fill her eyes. She’d known she was going to hurt him, but she’d left this reckoning too long. “I h-have to go.”
Thibaut had stared down at her, his nostrils flaring, his cheeks red with anger. Then he’d bent toward her and slammed his mouth down on hers. The kiss had been hard, crushing her lips against her teeth—a punishment, when she’d been accustomed to only soft, sweet kisses from the boy she’d loved. When he’d drawn back his head, he’d released her arms, and she’d stumbled back and wiped the back of her hand across her mouth. She’d stared for a long moment, memorizing his face, knowing they’d never be here, standing on his mother’s porch, ever again.
She’d left New Orleans and hadn’t looked back, but she’d never forgotten how she’d felt about him then. How she’d felt about herself for hurting him.
She’d been in New Orleans a month before she’d stopped worrying every time the bell tinkled that he’d walk through the door. Crazy thoughts like that had bombarded her ever since she’d returned. She’d seen him everywhere she went. Any burly, thick-shouldered man would instantly set her heart racing until she took a closer look. She’d told herself it was natural, because so many of her memories of this city were wrapped up with memories of him. Before she’d accepted that scholarship from Northwestern, they’d been inseparable, throughout middle and high school, dating as soon as her father had reluctantly approved.
It had taken years for her to get over Thibaut Cyr…