Next Tuesday, November 12th, my new novel, Siren’s Call will be available!


Siren's Call

Here’s the blurb:

Kai never met Mama. But based on her own abilities, and those who call her kin, she knows Mama wasn’t human.

Kai finds things. In post-Katrina New Orleans, everyone’s lost something, though most can’t afford to pay.

Kai’s latest client, a siren, hires Kai to find her sister. Sirens need both men and water, and can call them.

The kidnapped sister is being held on dry ground…

…while another storm brews off the coast of New Orleans.

To tempt you further, here’s the prologue of the novel. It also stands alone as a short story, called, Sipping Wishes.


Sipping Wishes

Is this love? Kai wondered, watching Tommy from the back of the bar. Tall speakers standing next to her blared hopped up Zydeco. Above the frenzied dancing, the air rolled blue with smoke. The only lights, besides those shining on the booze, were two huge red globes, set on brass pillars in the corners, that cast weird shadows.

Or maybe it wasn’t the shadows that were weird, but the folks here. Kai was human—just special—while many in the crowd were other. She’d been around enough not to gape and stare, but she knew that at least half the masks the beings here wore were really faces, like the man with pelican beak, or the woman with twigs and leaves growing out of her hair.

Tommy fit here, with his gleaming blue eyes and white-white skin that slid so smoothly under Kai’s darker fingers—like sand over water, he’d tease. He liked the noise and the crowds, and laughed at the drunk tourists as they glided through the crowds on Bourbon street. He wasn’t freaked by the two half mannequins, perched like vultures above the bar, who wore sailors hats, too much makeup, and moved all on their own.

Kai didn’t usually go to places run by the others. Yet, here she was, following Tommy again, in a new sundress and fancy sandals, her long black hair pulled up into a ponytail.

Was it love? Or just lust that kept drawing her back? They’d been dating for over a year now, and she still couldn’t tell.

A tall, thin man with a pinched face in a casual beige suit sidled up to Kai.

“Wanna dance?” he asked, his voice whispering soft and smooth.

Kai didn’t know what he was—she got the impression of orange sands and white rocks, baking under a blazing sun.

“No, thank you,” Kai said politely. She should go back and sit with Tommy at the bar. She just loved looking at him, though, admiring his muscles outlined by his tight, navy blue T-shirt, that fine ass of his in jeans.

“Next time, Miss,” the gentleman said as he glided away, sliding through the crowd with inhuman ease.

Not in this lifetime. No matter how polite the gentleman had been, he was barely human, and Kai preferred to date closer to her kind.

With a sigh, Kai pushed her way through the crowd of drunken fully human frat boys who’d accidentally found their way here and would never be able to find this bar again, then past the three rank street kids who knew what they were seeing, but would never tell, and back up to Tommy.

“Babe!” Tommy said, sliding an arm over Kai’s bare shoulders, pulling her in for a quick kiss.

Kai shivered, despite the heated night air. Being this close to Tommy always made something inside her pop and sizzle, especially as she slid her arms around his waist. But he tasted like whisky, not beer. What was he drinking?

Tommy rested his forehead against Kai’s, a comforting weight and push. She closed her eyes, then opened them again, nervous and untrusting. “Just a few more,” he said. “Then we can go.”

Kai pulled back so she could glare. “A few more what? Bars?” Maybe it was just lust, because Kai was already tired of everything: The heat, the press of people, the loud drunks, the music throbbing like a second, speedy heartbeat in her chest. More than one empty shot glass were already lined up in front of Tommy’s seat next to a full one. Why was he drinking the hard stuff, and not his usual beer?

“No, no babe,” Tommy said. He slid his hands down her bare shoulders to her elbows and back up again, leaving behind chills and sparks. “Just a couple more wishes.”

Kai stiffened in surprise. “Wishes?” She’d known Tommy wasn’t fully human, but the only impression she’d gotten from him was a white rose, blooming full and thick, with dark green petals and thorns. But she’d never asked—she’d learned early on that wasn’t polite.

Tommy shrugged but said defensively, “It ain’t like they can’t have more. I just sip a bit, taste and move on.”

Kai nodded. It explained why they frequently went to tourist traps and dive bars, where the discontent would wish the hardest.

“Why here?” Kai asked, looking around. Where would she find a wish here? Despite the too loud music, Kai found a touch of quiet in herself, and let her gaze be tugged around. There—two girls with their arms around each other, slow dancing in the corner, oblivious to everything around them.

When Kai looked back, Tommy grinned at her. “Y’all are better than any bloodhound,” he told her. He gave a hum that was part purr. Kai felt it under her fingers, warm and snug around Tommy’s waist.

Kai glanced back at the girls. They weren’t lessened in any way she could see. They still danced tight and close. Neither faltered, or even slowed.

Tommy slid his hands from Kai’s shoulders, picked up his drink, then slammed it back. He’d signaled for another before Kai could say anything.

“I thought we were leaving,” Kai said, pulling back further from Tommy and crossing her arms over her chest. This always happened. He’d tell her they were leaving and then they’d end up staying. Why did she let him do this?

“Don’t be like that,” Tommy said, sliding his arm around Kai’s waist and pulling her back closer. “It wasn’t just them I was talking about,” Tommy admitted.

Kai looked around the bar, seeking other dreamers. But the bar was too loud, the crowd too tightly packed. She couldn’t find anyone else here wishing as hard as the girls. She’d have to walk back out into the street before her talent for finding would flare again.

“No, not them,” Tommy said. He slammed down his next shot.

What the hell? Tommy didn’t usually drink anything harder than beer, and only a few.

“Them,” Tommy said, looking up at the two mannequins.

Kai glanced up. She didn’t know what the hell those things were, but they weren’t even vaguely human. Now that she was focused on them, she got the impression of bones piled high in a desolate canyon.

“They think you’re good for me,” Tommy said. He raised his empty shot glass in salute to first one, then the other.

The one on the right winked at Kai. Even over the smell of the smoke and spilled beer, Kai got a whiff of the limestone of graves.

“Who are they?” Kai asked, leaning closer to Tommy. They frightened her: So far from human that she couldn’t even name them. Their eyes blazed like burning coals in the dark. In her mind’s eye, Kai saw them reaching out with skeletal hands to pluck souls from the crowd below.

She was never going someplace run by the others again.

“They’re my step-aunts,” Tommy told her. “Sort of. They rule the family. And they wanted to meet you.”

The importance of Tommy’s words crashed down on Kai like a tremendous clash of brass symbols, silencing the noisy bar around her. She stared hard at Tommy.

“Will you marry me?” he asked.

# # #

Kai marched angrily down Royale Street, Tommy a few paces behind.

“That isn’t something you joke about,” Kai threw over her shoulder finally. The night hadn’t gotten much cooler, though it was nearing 3 AM. The smell of the Mississippi drifted along the wind, dark and dank. Only a couple windows in the apartments looming above the street had lights on. The thumping music of Bourbon Street was far behind: All Kai heard was the occasional wash of traffic from the boulevard.

“I wasn’t joking,” Tommy said again.

“But you weren’t serious,” Kai said as she stopped, still fuming.

“What I said was that I hadn’t planned on asking you yet. It just kinda popped out.” Tommy hurried up to face Kai, as she’d finally started talking with him again. “But when I said it, well, I knew it was the right thing to say.”

Kai shook her head. It was so like Tommy—no planning, just wishing to make something so.

“Let me start over,” Tommy said, reaching out to smooth his fingertips along Kai’s arm.

Kai stepped back and out of reach, then started walking again. She wasn’t about to let Tommy distract her.

“I’ll get a ring, go down on one knee. Is that what you want?”

Kai stopped and stood very still. What did she want?

Was it something to do with her family? Papa only liked Tommy okay. He’d never accept Tommy fully, though: Tommy was too white. Since Papa was fully human, he had no idea that Tommy was other.

That wasn’t it.

She circled back to her thoughts from earlier. Was this love she felt for Tommy? Lust? Something of both?

“I want to be sure,” Kai said slowly. “Not of you…no, but me. Of us.”

“That’s all?” Tommy asked, relieved.

“Yes, that’s all,” Kai said heatedly. “I can’t believe you’re not taking me seriously.”

“No, no, it’s not like that, babe. I promise,” Tommy said earnestly. “I know y’all are serious. It’s just that it’s easy to find out. We can go ask the lady in the wall.”

“Who?” Kai asked.

“The lady in the wall,” Tommy said. He grabbed Kai’s arm and tried to lead her up the street. “This way.”

“I’m gonna break those,” Kai said, glaring at Tommy’s hand and resisting. She hated being pulled along by anything other than her own senses.

“Sorry,” Tommy said, not sounding sorry at all. “We need to find some good beads. The voodoo shop hasn’t closed yet. I bet they have some. And some cheap whiskey.”

“Why?” Kai asked, still unmoving.

“So the lady in the wall will tell our fortune.”

# # #

It was after 4 AM before they finally reached their destination: an old creole cottage with terra cotta walls, covered in a fine net of cracks.

“Here?” Kai asked. “You gotta be kidding me.” A breeze had sprung up, and it was finally cooling off a bit. The night was thick with quiet: Even the bar at the corner had closed and the drunken tourists had made their way off the streets.

“Yes!” Timmy said. He’d downed his own beer in three gulps while they’d waited at the 24-hour convenience store to buy the whisky.

Kai still didn’t understand why he’d been drinking so much that night. Though now that she thought about it, he’d been drinking more the past month, a couple extra beers here or there, or maybe a shot or two.

“See, there’s the lady,” Tommy said, pointing toward the cracks. He swayed closer to the wall, raising one arm. “There’s her head, with her hair piled up.”

Kai nodded. She could see half-round shape as a face.

“Then she’s got an old fashioned dress, with a butt bump,” Tommy said, giggling.

“Bustle,” Kai told him. She could see the full image now in the cracks. The lady sat at a round table, her head high and proper.

Tommy carefully counted out three strands of glass beads and laid them at the foot of the wall. “Always hold back some beads, just in case you have to bargain more,” he said solemnly. “The lady—she tells the truth, but sometimes in a tricksy way.”

Kai nodded, appreciating the warning.

Tommy splashed the liquor against the wall, carefully aiming for the table, then dribbling down the wall and over the beads. Then he took a swig, followed by a second.

Kai caught the bottle before he had a third. “What’s wrong with you tonight?”

“Sipping a wish, that’s easy,” Tommy said, his brilliant blue eyes wide and serious. “But carrying one, it’s heavier than all the mountains.”

Kai knew he exaggerated. She’d seen him carrying a wish before, like the first night they’d met, when she’d made him dance with her and buy her drinks before she finally gave in and did what they both wanted: Taken him home and then taken him to her bed.

He’d seemed as surprised as she was when he was still there in the morning, more interested in talking and making her laugh than having another round.

“Ah, poor baby,” Kai said, brushing his brown hair from his forward and pressing a kiss there.

“Maybe someday you’ll know,” Tommy said, crushing her close for a long, intense kiss.

“Really?” came a chilling woman’s voice.

Kai stepped back quickly from Tommy, then gaped.

The wall had transformed into a large window, viewing a tiny room. The lady sat at a white table, her blue-and-black-striped hat matching her elaborate skirt. Though most of her hair was up, artful curls hung down the sides of her face. Her black eyes gleamed with danger and knowledge.

Behind the lady lay a narrow bed, with a white iron bedframe. An open window against the near wall showed another night scene, just as deserted as the street they stood in. A small black cross hung next to the bed.

“Sorry, Ma’am,” Tommy said. He bowed his head and took Kai’s hand.

“It’s all right,” the lady drawled as she poured herself some tea from a fancy china pot. “I expect that kind of behavior from her kind.”

“My kind?” Kai asked, bristling. “You mean humans?”

The lady cackled. “Darling, you ain’t been human since before your mama left you behind in the hospital.”

“You knew my mama?” Kai asked. She’d given up looking for her long ago, particularly since Papa didn’t like it.

“I know your past, just like I know your future,” the lady said casually. “His, too.”

“Is it together?” Tommy asked, hopeful.

The lady gave him a sly smile. “I’ll tell you your fortune, darling boy. But not hers. I don’t deal with her kind.” She threw a glare at Kai. “Human or otherwise.”

What the hell did that mean? Her kind? Kai was human. Mostly. She was just special.

“Great!” Tommy said. He gave Kai a smile. “I’m sure it will be with you.”

The lady started talking—but no sound came out of her mouth.

Kai glanced at Tommy, who was nodding. He could hear her. Kai held her head up. She couldn’t hear anything, not the traffic, or the rustling leaves.

Worry struck Kai when Tommy’s grip on her hand turned vice-like. His normally pale skin turned even whiter, and his blue eyes grew dark.

Whatever the lady was saying to him scared him to his bones.

But he never let go of her hand.

Finally, sound abruptly returned to the night.

“Now, as I said, I don’t deal with your kind. But I will give you a warning, the one that every being should heed. When that bitch Katrina comes, you grab your family and run.”

With a whoosh the picture faded, turning into just a cracked, terra-cotta colored wall again.

Tommy gave a weak laugh. “There’s that then.” He turned to Kai, picking up both her hands. “She said it don’t matter, what I do with you. I won’t live long enough to regret it.”

“Nonsense,” Kai said. “Don’t let her scare you that way.”

Tommy shook his head. “My kind—we get lost, sometimes. Catch hold of a wish that’s too strong, ‘til it overwhelms us.” Tommy looked down. “I’ve been drinking to get away, sometimes.”

“She could be wrong, you know,” Kai said, squeezing Tommy’s hands so he’d look up at her. “You said she wasn’t always straight with things. She could be trying to trick you.”

Tommy blinked and a little color returned to his face. “That’s right. She speaks in riddles sometimes. She said I was getting too close to the edge.”

“But you can turn back, right?” Kai said, her worry shrinking. “You gotta think your way through what she said. Find your way around it.”

Tommy nodded slowly. “True enough. Let’s wait a week, okay? That way I can have a ring and everything.”

“Waiting sounds fine,” Kai said, stepping forward and kissing Tommy’s cheek. “Now, who’s this Katrina?” she asked as she slipped her arm around Tommy’s waist, guiding him back up the street. “Should I be jealous?”

“There’s only you, darling,” Tommy said sadly. “There will only ever be you.”

Kai vowed to work that melancholy out of Tommy’s voice that night, and for a while, she did.

Five days later, when tropical storm Katrina was upgraded to a hurricane, Kai got her family out of the city and up to Baton Rouge.


Kai always wondered if he’d sipped at the wrong wish just before the storm, gotten lost in someone else’s dream to die.

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