Louisiana gets a whole lot hotter in this spellbinding story of secrets, betrayal, and seduction.
When Enza Parker inherits her estranged grandmother’s house, it dredges up a haunting mystery—and puts her in the path of the most alluring man she’s ever met.
For Enza, Bayou Sabine means pain and heartache: a mother who left her and a father whose lies have caught up with him. Her only fondness for the bayou comes from the summers she spent there with her grandmother, Vergie. Now that Vergie’s gone, Enza wants to flip the house and put her past to rest—but this small town is full of big secrets—and it has one more surprise for her.
When Enza finds her grandmother’s house occupied by sexy firefighter Jack Mayronne, she wants to kick him out. But Jack turns on the charm and convinces her to let him stay in exchange for helping her flip the house. Sparks fly as they share the same roof, and as their fling intensifies, Enza learns that Jack has dangerous secrets of his own. When the truth about her mother’s disappearance begins to surface, Enza must decide: how much is she willing to sacrifice to start over—and can she trust Jack with her heart?
Targeted Age Group:: 25-45
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I’m a sucker for a good love story: falling in love is a kind of magic, and part of me just wants to relive that over and over, through all the characters who pop into my mind. I’ve always enjoyed reading romance novels that felt like they were real, like they could happen to anyone, for real. Romantic comedies were my favorite when I was younger, and that certainly shaped the way I write today. Life is full of humor, just like it’s full of mystery and bits of darkness, too. For me, the best stories are a blend of all of that and more—but I like to believe in happy endings, too. So all of my characters, no matter what kind of drama and conflict they find, will always get their happy ending.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Often, my characters are based on people I know, or have met, or sometimes just encountered briefly (it's amazing how quickly some people can make a lasting impression!). And they have a little bit of me in them as well–so they are really a composite of lots of different people. In the Bayou Sabine series, Enza is the character who is most like me, but a lot of the female characters have some part of me as well–sometimes it's a flaw, or a fear, or a certain peculiarity–but it's definitely there. Sometimes I take a person I know, and then give them an imaginary strength or flaw, and then multiply it times 10 or 100, and that helps me develop the character even more.
Cranking the radio up was the perfect antidote for a conversation with my father. I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I figured that’s why they made car radios—so people like me can blow off steam while driving through four states that look exactly alike and try to forget our fathers’ lack of faith in us.
I’d spent the night somewhere in east Mississippi, in a motel that served moon pies and instant coffee as continental breakfast. It was a blessing I was exhausted when I checked in—I didn’t notice much about the place and was able to sleep the peaceful slumber of a person ignorant of potential health hazards. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t stay in a place like the Teddy Bear Motel, but around midnight, I’d finally gotten too tired to keep driving. It was the only place around. So I’d stripped the comforter off the bed, skipped the shower and brushed my teeth quickly, not staring too hard at the sink or counter. Too much scrutiny of that place and I’d itch all the way to Bayou Sabine.
A little after noon, it was already scorching. I cursed myself for not getting the Jeep’s air conditioning fixed back in the spring. With the windows down, I tried to convince myself the heat wasn’t so bad, but my clothes were sticking to me. The land around me had shifted from rolling hills to marshland, and at last I felt like I was out of my father’s orbit. I was thinking less of him and more about those summers I’d spent at the big blue house on the bayou, Vergie teaching me to play poker while we sat on the porch. Starting in grade school, I’d visit her for nearly three months every June when school let out. It was my favorite time of the year. I could run around barefoot and go swimming in the creek at night, and I didn’t have to be ladylike—ever. With Vergie, life seemed more magical. Anything was possible when I was with her.
As I opened the last moon pie I’d smuggled from the motel, I was hit with a flash from years before.
Vergie and I were sitting on a quilt in one of the old cemeteries, back in a corner under an oak tree with limbs that undulated along the ground like tentacles. She was telling me ghost stories while we had tea and beignets, the powdered sugar clinging to our noses. We sat still as tombstones while a funeral procession passed, the people dancing as music filled the whole sky.
“Why are those people having such a good time?” I asked. “Isn’t that a funeral?”
“That’s the grandest way you can say goodbye to someone,” Vergie said.
Vergie’s own funeral had been tame compared to the scene that day, and now I felt bad that we hadn’t given her a send-off like that one. She would have appreciated that, and I would have remembered if I hadn’t stayed away so long.
Why had it taken me fifteen years to come back?
I turned my thoughts back to the house as I crossed the state line. Six weeks wasn’t much time.
I pulled off the interstate onto a smaller highway. From there on, the roads would get narrower until they carried me into the little community of Bayou Sabine. I vaguely remembered the way, but with all the canals out here, the roads start to look the same. It’s beautiful—don’t get me wrong—but if you were to turn me around three times and plop me down in the middle of this marshland, I’d likely never see North Carolina again.
I checked the GPS on my phone, but the road wasn’t showing up.
“Oh, come on,” I said, swiping my thumb across the screen. The red dot that was supposed to be me was now off the nearest named road. According to the GPS, I was in a bayou. I glanced up at the road, trying to get my bearings and not swerve into the water for real.
Signal lost, it said. I groaned, restarting the app. When I looked up, an alligator was lumbering across the road—all six feet of him stretched across my lane.
“Oh, hell!” I slammed the brake to the floor, flinching as the tires squealed and the Jeep fish-tailed. I bit my lip so hard I tasted blood, and I called that gator everything but a child of God. I expected to hear a terrible thud at any second. Swerving, I missed him by just a few inches, but I was close enough to see his catlike eye as I shot across the opposite lane and onto the shoulder. Off to my left, there was nothing but swamp and black mud. I gripped the wheel, fighting to stay on the hard ground.
The Jeep stopped on what felt like solid earth, the weeds as high as the door handle. My heart hammered in my chest. Vergie used to tell me old voodoo legends about alligators, how they were tricksters, always causing trouble.
Please don’t be stuck. Not out here.
My foot eased the gas pedal down, and the Jeep inched forward. The tires spun as I pushed harder. “This is not happening.”
A rusty pickup rumbled toward me. The driver gave me a long look, but he hardly slowed down. I nudged the Jeep into four wheel drive and turned the tires as I hit the gas. It rocked a few times, then lurched forward and caught hold of the grass before crossing onto the pavement. I glanced back to where the alligator had crossed, but it was gone.
“Welcome back,” I muttered to myself.
* * *
The old two-lane highway cut the land in half, with swamps on one side and pastures on the other. With the black water so close, I felt like the earth might open up and devour me at will. The trees were full of moss, the water creeping up their trunks like it was swallowing them.
I passed Vergie’s driveway the first time, not recognizing it until I caught a glimpse of the pale blue goose she’d left by the mailbox like a sentinel. The paint was peeling, but the goose stood firmly in a patch of daylilies, just as it had since I was a girl. I turned around and eased onto the dirt drive. I felt the hollow in my chest expand, the void Vergie had left.
Cypress trees lined the road to the house, their limbs curling toward the ground. The breeze tickled the drooping leaves of the trees, and in the distance I heard the faint clink of glass, like a wind chime. Just beyond the house stood a spirit tree, bottles hanging from its branches like Christmas ornaments. It had been there long before Vergie, but she had added a few herself after drinking pints of bourbon and gin. She used to tell me those bottles captured evil spirits, kept them from roaming through the bayou and attaching themselves to good folks that lived nearby. I’d never really believed they held ghosts, but I liked the sound of the wind whistling over the lips of the bottles. Now, as the light glinted blue and green in the leaves of the tree, the sound felt more melancholy than soothing.
This place had a wildness that was hard not to like. It smelled sweet like magnolia, bitter like the swamp. Egrets dotted the trees like blooms of cotton, preening themselves in the slivers of sunlight. The driveway wound back into the woods, hidden from the main road. Patches of gravel mixed with the soil, packed hard from the heat and drought. When at last I pulled into the yard, I was surprised at how small the house seemed compared to my memory of it. It was still plenty big at two stories high, but it was a paler shade of blue than I remembered, and the roof was missing some shingles. The porch was cluttered with potted flowers, strings of lights hanging from the eaves, and a hammock strung between two corner posts. I could almost see Vergie’s silhouette in the rocker, and I knew then that I was going to prove my father wrong.
I had to. I owed it to Vergie. This place was a part of her, and it was a part of me now too. I had to do this right.
It wasn’t until I saw a pair of feet dangling from the hammock that I noticed the truck parked under a tree at the edge of the yard. A small dark pickup with patches of rust like spots on a horse. I squinted at the feet, thinking surely I was seeing something that wasn’t there. But there was no mistaking the shape in the hammock, the lazy swinging motion.
I leapt from the car and slammed the door so hard that a head rose above the banister. My father had dealt with squatters once or twice, but I hadn’t thought they’d move in so fast. Striding toward the steps, I cursed myself for not coming by when I was in town for the funeral.
I tried to cool my temper and concentrated on the sound of my boot heels pounding the dirt. There was no turning back now, because the man had definitely seen me.
He sat up in the hammock, and I swallowed hard as I reached the steps.
Links to Purchase Print Books
Buy Trouble in Bayou Sabine Print Edition at Amazon
Buy Trouble in Bayou Sabine Print Edition at Barnes and Noble
Have you read this book? Tell us what you thought! All information was provided by the author and not edited by us. This is so you get to know the author better.