Authors: Kait Nolan
A Novella of the Mirus
Written and published by Kait Nolan
Copyright 2010 Kait Nolan
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form.
Cover Art by Robin Ludwig of Robin Ludwig Designs
AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is a work of fiction. All people, places, and events are purely products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is entirely coincidental.
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This book would not have been possible without a number of supportive people.
Susan Bischoff, best crit partner ever, who pushed me to look beyond the cliché and take another pass until this story was one that was truly worth reading;
Claire Legrand, enthusiastic sounding board, New Orleans consultant, and fabulous writing sprint buddy, who pushed me to actually get the words on the page;
Maria Zannini, without whom I would have no title and the story would be very, very different;
Lauralynn Elliott, Sheri Meyer, Deniz Bevan, and my other enthusiastic blog followers, who consistently cheered me on through all my assorted struggles and interruptions with this story;
And finally, to my husband, Allen, who has been an unflagging support through all my writing endeavors. I love you, baby.
Roy has been upgraded to a category three as it continues to veer off its projected path to Florida and curves toward the Louisiana coastline. Meteorologists are scrambling to explain the sudden change in direction.”
Storm shutters rattled as another clap of thunder announced the coming storm.
Nothing good can come of this
, thought Mick as he tore his eyes from the huge high def TV to take in the patrons jammed practically shoulder to shoulder in his bar as they danced to the zydeco band raising the roof.
It wasn’t that New Orleans couldn’t take another beating. She’d survived and come back after Katrina, scarred but stronger. But storms didn’t naturally change tracks like this. Not without . . . outside intervention. The whole thing made Mick twitchy.
He covered his unease by sliding a pint of Bass down the bar, where it slapped into the waiting hand of a customer. The warlock lifted the glass in salute and took a sip. Mick nodded and turned to scan the crowded tables of his bar, noting the mix of Mirus and human patrons as he filled orders on autopilot. The fiddle was hot and fast, and across the room feet tapped, hands clapped, and couples swirled in impromptu dancing. It was a full house, locals mostly, who’d decided to settle in for a last-minute hurricane party in the event the storm bitch slapped New Orleans. There was a betting pool on where Roy would hit and what category it would be when it did.
Le Loup Garou
was on the high ground and was buttoned down tight, so even if things went bad, everybody inside would be safe. That was exactly the way Mick liked it.
He continued to mix drinks and draw pints, being sure to send a tray of the band’s preferred beers over to their table with one of his waitresses. It was best to keep their vocal chords lubricated. They were earning every penny of their fee with this gig. The last hurricane party he’d hosted had lasted ’til dawn, and the musicians had played long after the power had gone out, keeping the fear and worry at bay with their instruments and voices.
Mick’s attention shifted to a group of frat boys on the far side, and his sense of dread ratcheted up a couple of notches. They weren’t being rowdy, but they looked annoyed. One ham-handed guy reached out and snagged a waitress as she walked by. Charlotte covered her irritation, listened to the complaint: where was the service? She calmly took out her pad and scribbled down their orders. Not until she was on her way back to the bar did she absently rub her wrist. Mick’s eyes narrowed.
Charlotte set her tray down on the bar. “One Jack and Coke, two Bud Selects, a G and T, one Bond-style martini, and a bloody Mary for Table Six.”
Mick listened as she continued to rattle off orders, part of his brain filing and categorizing as he waited for her to finish. “You okay,
” His eyes flicked to her wrist.
His waitress rolled her eyes. “Fine. Just a little overactive, underfed testosterone. It’s Liza’s station. Apparently they’ve been waiting a while.”
He flicked his eyes around the other tables in Liza’s section, noting the waiting patrons, and frowned. “Liza isn’t in yet?”
Tracy, one of the other waitresses, sidled up, orders for the kitchen in hand. “No, she’s late. Helluva night to do it, too. We’re jumpin.”
Either of you hear from her?” he asked. Both women shook their heads. Liza was never late. Could be she got delayed from the storm, but she’d have called.
Mick loaded Charlotte’s tray. “Keep your eyes peeled. Divide her tables among yourselves. I’ll see what I can find out.”
It took a while to process all the orders, but eventually he squeezed into his small office in the back. Blistering fiddle licks chased him as he shut the door, blocking out the bulk of the noise so he could call Liza’s cell phone. It went straight to voicemail. He left a message for her to call on the bar line and hung up.
It didn’t necessarily mean anything was wrong. She might’ve let the thing die, or she hadn’t answered the last call. But he didn’t like it.
As he stepped back into the bar, the band finished a rousing rendition of
Hot Tamale Baby
. The moment of silence before the audience burst into applause and cheers was interrupted by a sharp
up near the front.
Mick’s eyes went to the windows first, thinking one of the storm shutters had come loose to whack against the brick. Then he saw her standing in the doorway, hair whipping around her heart shaped face as the wind and rain poured in at her back.
That’s all Mick could think as he stared at her, mouth going dry. If she’d lifted her hands to send walls of water crashing over his customers, he wouldn’t have been at all surprised. And he wasn’t sure he could move to stop her. For that moment he was absolutely at her mercy.
Then another patron wrestled the outside door shut and she was just a woman.
A wet, slightly bedraggled and incredibly sexy woman, Mick corrected. He called himself a fanciful fool as she combed the dripping hair back from her face with both hands and took another step inside.
She was exactly the kind of trouble he liked between the sheets on long, hot summer nights when hurricanes weren’t threatening the city he loved. Though she was dressed casually in jeans and a leather jacket, she carried herself like she wore a suit, stiff and purposeful. He wanted to peel those wet layers off and make her forget whatever worries had pulled that lush pink mouth into a frown.
It was then he noticed the temper practically steaming the water off her. Mick tore his eyes and his mind away. No time for play tonight. No time for whatever kinda trouble she brought with her. She wasn’t a local and that meant she wasn’t for him. He had a business to run and a waitress to find.
Sophie hung back near the entryway, feeling almost as buffeted by the music as she had by the storm outside. She was off-balance and unprepared for the bar full of happy, dancing people. Were they crazy? Didn’t they know a hurricane was bearing down on them?
Her eyes flicked up to the big screen TV on the wall, as the band declared they would be back after a short break. The meteorologist announced that Roy had picked up speed and was predicted to make landfall by six AM. . Okay, yeah, they knew, they just weren’t going anywhere.
Obviously. Because the logical thing to do in a natural disaster is have a drunken party. With a band. Gods.
She scanned the crowd, looking for a familiar dark head and not seeing it. Not that Liza was easily seen. She was just as vertically challenged as Sophie was, barely topping 5’2”.
There were humans mixed in with the Mirus present. Quite a few, actually. Which meant that
Le Loup Garou
was not one of the establishments that cloaked its presence from humans. That made the situation an iota better for Liza. It meant she wouldn’t stand out as much. When Mom had called earlier in the day to say that baby sis was working in a Mirus bar, Sophie had imagined the worst and come racing to New Orleans to bail her out of trouble. Again. But clearly this wasn’t the kind of place where young, impressionable human women were on display like gyrating sides of beef. It was just a bar. And chances were Liza was just a waitress.
Not that that was going to keep Sophie from ripping her sister a new one at the earliest opportunity.
We’re pretty packed, but you could probably squeeze in up at the bar.”
Sophie turned her attention to the waitress, who’d paused, heavy tray balanced expertly on her shoulder. “Thank you,” she said, raising her voice to be heard over the music.
Before Sophie could ask about Liza, the woman nodded and sashayed onto the other side of the bar to deliver food. The spicy scent of jambalaya and gumbo lingered in her wake, reminding Sophie that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast in Atlanta, and that was hours ago. Maybe she could at least get a bite of
while she figured out how she was going to drag her sister out of here without making a scene.
When she reached the bar, a skinny guy in a bright Hawaiian shirt flashed her a smile and immediately stood up, drink in hand. He gestured at the stool. “You look like you could use this more than me, sugar.”
Sophie worked up a smile that she hoped didn’t resemble a snarl. “Thanks.”
She braced herself to fend off any flirtation, but the guy only saluted her with his beer and hollered down the bar. “Hey Mick! This one needs a nip to warm her up.”
Glancing down the bar, she saw a flash of tanned, muscled forearm passing a drink to someone before a shoulder leaned in and blocked her view. She slid onto the stool, grimacing as the wet denim of her jeans clung to her thighs. A change of clothes would be awesome but wasn’t in the cards. The rain was coming down so hard now, anything she could pull out of her car would get just as soaked. Besides, she wasn’t planning on staying.