It is a tragic secret that people in New Orleans are still hurting from Katrina.
Since THE LEGEND OF VICTOR STANDISH begins with Katrina, I am donating 10% of my profits from it to THE SALVATION ARMY. If you have already bought it, you may donate directly in the link in my sidebar beneath the book.
In honor of the Halloween season, here is a excerpt from
my 3rd Victor Standish novel,
THE GYPSY AND THE GHOUL :
The throbbing cut on my temple oozed blood along my cheek and down my throat. The revenant, Abigail Adams, looked down with hungry eyes at the blood and my throat.
We were both hurt bad. Me less than her. Sometimes it paid to be a smaller target.
I was supporting her down St. Peter Street. We made a pretty strange pair -- even for Halloween.
"You bite me," I wheezed from the broken ribs that were screaming at me, "and I'll drop you on your elegant butt."
"Standish," she husked. "You are not as funny as you think."
"No. I'm funnier. I'm humble like that."
"Y-You are not even on the same continent as humble, whelp."
"You know why I don't drop you on your ..."
I coughed up a bit of blood, " ... manners?"
"Because no matter how rank you are, Empress Theodora is worse."
Theodora, Empress of The Unholy Roman Empire that had Europe squirming in its clawed fist. She hadn't always been a revenant.
In the year 500, she had been the daughter of a bearkeeper in the circus -- which explained her unique thoughts on life.
To her, life was a circus of blood where humans were trained to dance to her whims by the school of pain. Her sexual games were twisted ...
which gave me a world of reasons to help Abibail Adams.
Forget about finger sandwiches. There were other parts of my body she would make a snack of if she caught us. I shivered at the thought.
Abigail smiled sadly at me. "I will kill you myself before I allow that travesty to touch you."
"Ah, let's have a sign for that, all right?
Like -- when pigs fly.
Besides, we're almost to Meilori's."
Abigail sighed, "Theodora will never let us reach it."
"That's what I'm counting on, Abby."
"Do not be familiar, boy!"
"Hey, who has a hand snug in your corset here?"
I had rescued Abigail Adams out of Theodora's New Orleans' mansion. The bitch had her enemy stripped to her underclothes to humiliate her.
"Don't remind me, boy."
I saw the proud pain in her face and husked through my own pain, "She humilated herself, not you, by doing that to you."
Abigail's face softened, then went stiff and cold. St. Peter Street was changing in spurts and flashes all around us.
Street and store signs had changed to gothic script. Snarling gargoyles were the design of choice.
All right! About fragging time.
You couldn't walk into Meilori's in the daytime. Only at night.
By day, the corner of Royal and St. Peter housed the majestic Royal Cafe. At dusk, the corner mysteriously transformed into Royal and Rue La Mort. And Meilori's stood revealed to the night and its children.
But this wasn't just any night. This was Halloween.
It was Samhain, summer's end. It had nearly marked New Orleans' end as well. But its people were a hardy lot.
The Celtic New Year began this nightfall. When your adoptive father is named McCord, you learn these kinds of things.
In ancient Welsh tradition, this evening was called The Three Spirit Night, when all kinds of beings could roam between realities. And I was betting my and Abigail's life on that.
We turned the corner. There stood Royal Cafe.
Empress Theodora and Major Strasser stood tall in front of it.
Abigail groaned, "I told you, Victor."
Victor, huh? She really did think the game was up. I smiled like a wolf. It was only beginning.
Theodora was dressed in a black leather outfit that, if it were any tighter, would have split at the seams ... if it had had any seams.
Her lips curled. "And so the mighty Adams dies because she listened to a human boy."
I flicked mocking eyes to Strasser, then to Theodora. "Hey, I see you brought your trained bear."
Strasser growled, "Let me taste of him first."
Theodora smiled dreamily. "No, his delicasies are mine alone."
Night hungrily swallowed dusk, and the surroundings became full of nightmares.
I smiled coldly. "Lots of luck with that, Bitch Queen."
My vision blurred. My head became light. Reality stretched as if it were taffy being pulled by an insane demon-child. The world looked as if I were seeing it from the wrong end of a telescope.
Ghost demons murmured hollow promises to my ears. My legs went all weak. I felt as if I were about to topple off the street and fall into madness.
Meilori's stood towering over me. Torch-lit iron lacework balconies stretched up high into the foggy night. I couldn't make out the building's top.
Leathery wings sounded up high in the thick fog that masked the remaining balconies. I heard the thud of a heavy body, the ear-aching screech of talons against steel, and a husky laugh of hunger about to be fed.
I tore my eyes away before I saw something I'd have nightmares about.
Abigail yelped, but I held onto her with one hand and onto the still-forming surface of Meilori's with the other. I yelled at the top of my bruised lungs.
"Victims of Theodora! Hear me! She is here. Here!"
Despite the pain it cost me, I yelled louder, "And tonight she is helpless not you. Not you! Take her! Take her and her pet killer. Take them!"
Theodora stiffened as hundreds, then thousands of writhing figures of mist solidified around her. Strasser pulled his Lugar. It was snatched from his fingers and tossed at my feet.
The Empress and her killer struggled like escaped inmates from an asylum. No good. They were overwhelmed.
And in a blur of screams, blood, and writhing bodies, Theodora and Strasser were gone.
I looked up at the very pale Abigail Adams. "Sometimes it's Treat."
I smiled very, very cold. "And sometimes it's Trick."
Harlequin Romance, 2017
1 minute ago