Trixie’s Hot Box
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Genre: Erotic Urban Fantasy
Tags: Fantasy, Sexual Relationship, Romance, Contemporary Romance, Urban Fantasy, Witches,
Release: June 2012
Editor:Christine I. Speakman
Line Editor: Greta Gunselman
Cover Designer: Marion Sipe
Kate knew nothing about witches, ancient symbionts, or Trixie’s Hot Box Bar and Grill until a voice called her to St. Louis. Surprise! She is a witch, but witches aren’t what everyone thinks. Now, besides inheriting Trixie’s, she is a suspect in the murder of a drug-dealing hoodlum witch. One of St. Louis’s newest detectives wants to investigate Kate.
“Wha’da ya think Juan’s telling the officer? The truth?” Nancy asked from where she polished the bar top a few feet away, her gaze as glued to the outside exchange as mine. The wood comprising the bar top was ancient walnut and frequently needed oiling. I could smell the homemade vinegar, linseed, and lemon oil mixture used. We’ve used the same mixture for decades. Sometimes I can smell it in the wood; funny thing to remember when I’ve hardly lived in the place three months.
“What’s to tell? When off duty, Juan’s a loyal Saturday night customer. What makes you think he’s an officer?” I glanced at Nancy. If Juan’s sex drive satisfied the pre-menopause hormones driving Nancy, he must be a powerhouse. Even in the relatively cool interior, her hormones were heating her system into overdrive. Sweat droplets ran down the sides of her flushed face. Her shop-maintained blonde hair wilted with dampness. Usually Nancy glamoured her appearance, but with only me present, she hadn’t bothered.
“Lawmen all’ve got a look to them. Besides, I don’t charge Juan anything.”
I laughed. “Mon Dieu! I expect the authorities would construe that as bribery.” While my English is good, I cling to my French bon mots fiercely. It helped me keep in mind I am me and not Eva.
Nancy huffed and gave me her disgruntled look. “You know what I mean. I don’t charge him! I consider him a friend. He pays for his drinks.”
“You are merely friends?”
Her lips formed a sly smile. “Well, maybe a little more than merely. He’s single and I like him.”
I laughed. “C’est bon. Would it matter if he wasn’t single?”
Nancy looked at me, part glare, part astonishment. “Sometimes you sound like Eva, simply peppered with French.”
“Sometimes it feels like I am her, seeing through her eyes.” I sighed. “Especially here. It would hardly do for me to sound and act as my dearly departed grandma, now, would it? Sometimes it’s hard enough to remember French.”
I didn’t want to argue; I knew I was changing. The more change pressed on me, the more perversely I clung to French phrases and accent.
Nancy, due to menopause I suppose, was a tad contentious. According to Eva, her friend had always owned a ready temper. Now Nancy was touchier, perhaps even disgruntled, because Eva had been her best friend. I have all Eva’s memories of Nancy and Trixie’s. Neither Nancy nor I had foreseen how my appearance would affect everything. This type of disclosure would shake up any close friendship.
“Must’a felt strange getting a call from Eva. Was she really your Grandma?”
My hands hesitated in their wiping process. “I doubt it. However, Eva was a magnet who drew me here.” I looked at Nancy. Her eyes were glassy with pent up emotion. “My coming brought her peace.”
Nancy exhaled. “I know. Eva talked of you, hoped you heard her. As soon as she sensed you, she began calling you her granddaughter. You barely arrived in time.”
“France is a long way away.” I’d been here a short time, long enough, though, for her to adjust. Although it was a funny time for her to start asking questions, I suppose grief has its own timing.
She sniffed. “Otherwise, you’re nothing like her.”
“You’re a witch. You know how it works.” More than moi.
“I’m not capable of calling or hearing. I could only hope a collector would be close by when I passed.”
I grinned at her. “Now you have one, and at least I can tell you our symbionts are compatible.”
“You didn’t notify the Coven.” Her voice spoke volumes I ignored.
“They didn’t want me when my mama died. I’m not sucking up to them now. I hate deception. You know they haven’t done a damn thing since the last warlock died twenty years ago.” I shrugged. “Neither you nor Eva seemed bound by propriety. I thought I’d fit in here without Coven sanction.”
“Keeping secret what you are is a deception.”
What had gotten her started? I’d not understood my mama’s inheritance upon meeting Eva, and I wasn’t ready to proclaim it to anyone else without good cause. “How would they know what happened? They don’t know me or own me. You want me to advertise my status?”
Nancy gave me a smug smile. “No, still, avoiding the Coven might be dangerous. And before you ask, I’ve told no one a thing.” She huffed. “None of their business. They never even visited Eva. Left her hanging, too.” While Nancy stared at the bar top lost in thought or memory, her hand rubbed the rag on a spot. Once satisfied whatever spot had existed was properly rubbed out, she continued. “Humans have never been known for their understanding of witch folk.” Her brows furrowed at her understatement.
Her brow cleared, and a wicked look crossed her face. “Oh, them they understand extremely well.”