Happy Mardi Gras, y’all! I’ll be honest – I’m having to work at my Mardi Gras mood this morning, looking out at the cold, grey Texas rain with a cup of coffee and a chunk of grocery store king cake. A girl’s gotta summon a little imagination on a day like this. And what better way than to dive into my book, The Getaway Girls: A New Orleans Tale of Monsters,Mayhem and Moms? Sure, Tolstoy it ain’t – but if you’re up for a quick, wild ride through New Orleans with some kickass ladies, a cocky Irish actor, a crew of petulant vampires – and of course, flesh-eating scavengers – then this book’s for you! It’s a little bloody, a little bawdy – but it’s fun. Really. Check out my video if you don't believe me: The Getaway Girls New Orleans Rap.
So to keep up a NOLA spirit, I’m thinking about one of my favorite places in the Big Easy – the Hotel Monteleone. As Syd says, “nothing bad could ever happen to you in the Monteleone.” Or could it? Read on . . .
Evie had been tapping furiously at her phone when she noticed a tattooed man standing too close and staring at her through a heavy curtain of black hair.
He towered over her by at least a foot and his greasy hair fell past his shoulders. Skin-tight jeans that needed washing clung to his thick legs and he wore a battered leather jacket over a mud-colored t-shirt. Although Evie couldn’t make out his face, she caught a glimpse of tribal tattoo designs wrapping around his neck, his hands, and presumably the rest of his flesh.
“Can I help you?” Evie asked in a snotty voice.
“No,” he answered in a deep, scratchy grumble, “But I can help you.”
Evie raised her eyebrow.
“I know Carl’s after your friend. And I saw who’s in the bar with you. Declan. That stupid movie star’s telling you crap about how he’s gonna save you, I bet.” He leaned closer and whispered, “He’s lying. You should call the cops.”
Evie peered at his face, but still she couldn’t see a thing but the hair. “I’m trying to, but my phone won’t work in this damn lobby.”
The man pointed to a hallway, “You can get service over there. Come on, I’ll show you.”
Evie hesitated. “Why don’t you just tell me, and I’ll get my friends.”
He shook his head, muttering, “You can’t let Declan know you’re gonna call the cops, he’ll try to stop you. Come with me now.” He grabbed Evie’s elbow.
She jerked it back out of his grasp. “No offense, but I know you even less than Declan, and he at least has manners. Thanks, but no thanks.” She tried to walk past him but suddenly he was pushing her down the hall.
“You gotta come with me. Call the cops before Declan sees you’re gone.” He shoved her around a corner and disappeared into a doorway.
She peered into the room, a small windowless enclosure fronted by a wooden counter guarding suitcases and empty wheeled luggage carts. The creamy white paint peeled just a little and the carpet was green and musty; it was not a room meant to attract attention. A slight vibration stirred the hot air but the man was nowhere in sight.
“Hello?” She called out, and stepped one foot inside the space. She held up her phone and with trembling fingers, pressed the 9 and then 1.
Suddenly, thick arms jerked her off her feet, quickly hustling her behind a stack of bags where her struggling body was hidden from sight. A hot, hairy hand covered her mouth, and bristly whiskers brushed her cheek as the man whispered, “Shut up!”
Scared, she did as she was told. The stench of English Leather and stale cigarettes filled her nostrils and then she smelled something fruity. A Styrofoam cup sloshing with icy red liquid was at her mouth. “Drink it!” The man ordered, lifting his hand off her lips to yank open her jaw and pour the sickly sweet hurricane down her throat.
“Good girl,” he snarled, as she gagged. “Drink it all down.” She gulped as much as she could, until the cup was empty. The man tossed it to the ground and leaned over her, his jacket shadowing her eyes. She could feel his stubble pressed against her neck as he laughed. “That should keep you quiet till the others come for you.”
“My friends?” Evie asked, panicked.
He laughed again, coldly. “Not your friends. Someone’s looking for you, and they asked me to babysit. I slipped something nice and strong in that drink, honey. You won’t even know your name by the time they get here.”
Then he shifted so she could see his face. A thick silver ring pierced his septum and the tattoo Evie had spotted on his neck curved around his cheeks and chin, framing his face in permanent black ink. He brushed hair back from his forehead and Evie gasped. His eyes were bright, traffic-signal yellow. The pupils on the colored lenses were narrow feline slits. He stared her without blinking, looking less like a man and more like a shaggy black panther.
“You’re cute,” he said. “Too bad for you.” Then he cold-cocked her in the chin and all the lights went out.
Want to read more? Click here to read the entire first chapter or buy the book. It's only $4.99, folks - cheaper than a bowl of gumbo!