Hi Everyone –
I hope you had a great week!
I keep forgetting to mention that I’m on Twitter now! So if you’re on Twitter, please look me up! http://twitter.com/LdyDisney I’d love to hear from you there too! It’s a fun way to visit quickly and keep in touch. 🙂
On to the story! I was crazy busy this weekend, so I was afraid I wouldn’t get this story up in time! Yikes! I haven’t been to New Orleans in about 8 years, but it’s such an incredible place. When this story started cooking, I was so excited to set it back there. If you’ve never been there you should definitely go at least once. It’s another world down there…
But after I started writing, the story took off in a direction I never saw coming…
I hope you enjoy!
Private Party – By: Lisa Kessler
Bourbon Street. It was great to be back again.
Hearing the familiar sounds of live jazz bands combined with the undercurrent of conversation drew her closer, like a moth to a bright flame. Her heels clicked against the uneven, cracked sidewalk as she made her way closer to the chaos. St. Louis Street was deserted at this late hour, but Bourbon Street wouldn’t disappoint. Even without the lure of Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street pulsed with activity.
She pulled her leather jacket tighter against the chill of the night air blowing off the Mississippi. Hunger gnawed at her and she quickened her pace. When she rounded the corner at Bourbon Street, Cajun music blared from Patout’s Cajun Cabin. A smile tugged at her red lips as the stench of vomit, beer, and creole cooking assaulted her senses.
She could almost taste the Swamp Water now. The bright green fruity cocktail was Patout’s signature drink, served in a white plastic tumbler with a cherry on top. Nothing fancy, but it got the job done. With some weaving through the mob of gyrating bodies, she finally made it to the bar.
"What can I get you, Elvira?"
She chuckled, "Swamp Water."
"You got it." The bartender gave her a wink and started mixing her drink. She looked over at the band and frowned.
"Here’s your Swamp Water. That’ll be seven bucks."
She turned back and nodded, popping open her tiny Coach clutch. "So where’s Bubba? Does he still play here?" Bubba and Them was a washboard Cajun band who usually played Patout’s.
"Yeah, he’s still here most week nights. Chicken and the Biscuits are just filling in tonight."
She laughed, "Which one is Chicken?"
"He’s playing the harmonica."
Her eyes locked on the tall, tanned man in blue jeans. His red button down shirt was open, exposing his toned chest underneath a faded black wife-beater tank. She smiled and raised her drink, sliding the straw between her red lips. Just as the cool drink washed over her tongue, Chicken opened his eyes and stared directly into hers. His eyes were such a pure bright blue that she was almost startled.
Oh he was delicious.
Before she realized it, her Swamp Water was gone.
"Can I get you another?"
She glanced back at the bartender with a smile. "Thank you."
With a fresh drink her hand, she leaned back against the bar and watched the band. Her stiletto popped free of her heel and bobbed from her toes in time with the beat. His eyes traveled over her body and he grinned as he raised the harmonica to his lips.
"Hey, Elvira, I’ve got some beads for a peek at your tatas!"
She rolled her eyes and shot the drunk a glare that made him flinch. "They’re breasts asshole. And no amount of beads in the world would get you a peek at them."
"Jeezis, ice queen…" he slurred as he drifted back into the crowd.
She applauded for the band when the last song ended.
"Thank you! You’ve been a great crowd. We’re Chicken and the Biscuits! See you next time on Bourbon Street."
The bar exploded with cheers, but she barely heard them. She couldn’t take her eyes off of him. Hearing him speak made her toes curl inside her shoes. His voice was deep, with a rough edge, like a mix of seduction and danger. He stepped off the small stage, his eyes locked on hers, and started making his way through the crowd. Her pulse raced. She placed her empty drink back on the bar and slid off the stool.
Bumping her way through the mass of people, she finally reached him on the dance floor. He smiled and leaned in closer to speak near her ear. His cologne was clean and masculine, and the feel of his breath on her skin sent tingles down her spine.
"Can we go someplace quiet so we can be properly introduced?"
He pulled back and she nodded. With a crooked smile, he took her hand and guided her through the crowd. His hand was larger than her own, but it didn’t feel rough. Whatever he did when he wasn’t playing with his band, it wasn’t hard labor.
Once they were free of Patout’s, he stopped and offered his hand, "My name’s Jack."
She took his hand with a smile. "Nice to meet you Jack. I’m Elsa."
"Elsa?" His eyes slid over her body briefly. "Do you always dress like Elvira?"
She laughed and shook her head. "Not always. I’m a writer, and when I go out to people watch for story ideas, I like to get attention. You know, see how people react."
He raised a brow with a smile. "What kind of books do you write?"
"Usually gothic vampire novels. I was feeling uninspired, so I scheduled a book signing in New Orleans. That way I’d have an excuse to visit again."
"Ah I see. Time to visit the nation’s most haunted city."
She shrugged as they rounded the corner of St. Peter Street toward Jackson Square. "I guess so."
"How’s it working so far?"
She smiled up at him. "Oh I’m pretty satisfied so far."
He laughed, and when his gaze locked on hers, her breath caught in her throat. "I haven’t begun to satisfy you yet…" He stepped in closer so she had to tilt her chin up to see his face. He bent down until she could feel his warm breath on her lips. "I hope you’ll be completely satisfied by the end of the evening."
She ached to kiss his lips, but he was practically a stranger, or at least that’s what she told herself. What she really wanted was for him to make the first move. She could wait. Jack’s fingers slid along her jaw line, and drifted down her neck, barely brushing over her collar bone as he pulled back. Her skin felt hot and she had to concentrate to keep from trembling. Maybe she couldn’t wait after all.
"I was going to a private party not far form here. Would you join me?"
"I probably shouldn’t. I mean I’m not really dressed appropriately."
A very drunk woman in a French maid costume bumped into Jack. She stumbled backwards off the sidewalk and plopped onto her ass in the street.
"Whatthehell?" She slurred, rolling over onto her knees. "Whothehellpushedme? Dominic?"
Jack chuckled and looked into Elsa’s eyes again. "This is New Orleans. There isn’t an appropriate way to dress."
She laughed and placed her hand in his. "Fine. I’d love to go, but I can’t stay long."
When they rounded the corner and walked into Pirate’s Alley, Elsa stopped. Fog billowed, filling the narrow space, devouring the inlayed bricks of the street. She couldn’t’ see more than an arm’s length in front of her.
"The party is down there?" She asked.
"Yeah, there’s a little club further down the alley that serves absinthe. Little stronger green drink than your Swamp Water."
"Isn’t Pirate’s Alley supposed to be haunted?"
He nodded, "Yes, but I’ve never seen any ghosts here. Besides, think of the writing this adventure could inspire?"
She knew she should turn back, but the potential for great new story ideas was too tempting to pass up. She gave his hand a squeeze. "Lead the way."
When Jack stopped, she was staring at a dingy red door with a sign that read "Enter at your own Risk".
Else pointed to the sign. "That’s not very welcoming."
"I told you it was a private party." He tilted her chin up to meet his eyes as he slowly bent to kiss her lips. His mouth was hot and demanding, and before she realized it, Elsa was pressed up tight against his chest, her tongue tangling slowly with his. Her knees felt weak as he drew back and whispered. "I promised you satisfaction remember?"
He reached out and banged on the door. A large bald man opened the door, but his bullish expression changed when he saw Jack. He clasped Jack’s forearm and added a gruff, "Good to see you again Jack."
They stepped inside and Elsa felt like she’d fallen down a rabbit hole like Alice. Furniture hung from the rafters, and colored lights and strobes reflected off of every surface. The music pounded. But it wasn’t Cajun fun, it was angry hard rock that was cranked up so loud that her bones vibrated.
As they made their way through the room, Elsa noticed she wasn’t the only one in costume. A couple of people had tiny horns glued to their foreheads like demons straight out of an episode of Angel, and over by the bar a few people laughed, dressed as vampires, complete with fangs.
"Great costumes!" She said, taking a little shot of Absinthe from Jack.
"Bottoms up," he said knocking back his Absinthe.
Elsa watched and then repeated his movement, coughing and sputtering. "God that’s strong stuff!"
"It makes it tough to tell what’s real and what’s an illusion," he said pulling her down onto a sofa with him.
Elsa laughed and nodded. "I can see that…" Her voice died away and her eyes widened. "Your forehead… It’s changing."
"Changing?" He smiled and shook his head. "Nah. The illusion is fading, but nothing is changing."
"Illusion?" Elsa’s eyes widened seeing two horns poking out of Jack’s forehead. "It sure looks like you have horns."
"You do what?"
He rolled his eyes. "I have horns."
"Because I’m a demon, Elsa. Remember?"
"Remember what?" She laughed.
"You don’t remember me, do you?"
She stopped laughing. "I’ve never met you before."
"Yes, you have. You created me."
Elsa’s heart stopped. She looked around the room taking note of each face, and gradually realized that all the vampires, every demon and even the big doorman were all characters from her books. She could place names to go with each face. She knew these people.
"Impossible," she whispered. Finally she looked back into Jack’s eyes. His pure sapphire blue eyes that filled the pages of her first novel, The Demon’s Undoing. "Jack?"
He nodded with a smile. "Yes, it’s me."
"How? Am I dreaming?"
"No, not a dream."
"Then how is this possible? You can’t come to life from a book."
"But you could step into one."
He nodded and held her hand. "You’ll never be alone again, Elsa."
One of the vampires walked over from the bar. She recognized her as Ari from her third novel, Immortal Darkness.
"Welcome home, Elsa."
"But this isn’t home."
"What’s your last memory before you got here to New Orleans?" Jack asked.
"I was on a plane." She struggled for more. "Wait, I was on a plane to New Orleans and I felt sick. I rang for a flight attendant because I was having an allergic reaction." Her brow furrowed. "It was Peanuts! I was having an allergic reaction to peanuts."
Jack nodded. "Then what happened."
She rubbed her forehead and tried to remember. "I don’t know. I came into Patout’s and saw your band."
Ari sat beside her on the couch. "Your spirit is here with us, Elsa. Your body isn’t."
A tear spilled down Elsa’s cheek. "So I’m dying?"
Jack kissed away her tear and whispered, "Your words live on forever."
"Still no pulse," the nurse said.
The doctor sighed and replaced the paddles. "Time of death, 2:40am."
The nurse quietly drew the sheet up over her pale face as the doctor pulled off his gloves and headed out to deliver the grim news. Best-selling author Elsa Greene had passed away.