Please welcome author Suzanne Johnson! Pirate’s Alley is the fourth book in the Sentinels of New Orleans series and was released from Tor books on April 21, 2015. This is a fun magic filled urban fantasy series. Her story below is filled with magic, pirates, humor and Johnny Depp! Please enjoy the story below.
This is an International giveaway! One lucky reader will win a signed book (choice of any of the books in the Sentinels of New Orleans series) if in the U.S. or Canada or a book from Book Depository and a signed bookplate if the winner is outside the U.S! A wonderfully HUGE thank you to Suzanne Johnson for this giveaway!
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Two Pirates of the Caribbean
By Suzanne Johnson
As told by DJ Jaco, wizard sentinel of New Orleans…
“Hey, babe, I got an idea.”
Uh-oh. Cajun merman Rene Delachaise might be one of my best friends, but his ideas usually ended in trouble. The kind of trouble he enjoyed, which meant there was a high probability of me getting arrested or injured.
“No, I’m not going with you on the shrimp boat.” Last time I’d done that, I’d accidentally set half of Louisiana’s Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area on fire. Then I’d drowned and he’d broken my ribs giving me CPR. Mermen were strong.
“How about going with me to Faerie?”
I stared at him, wondering when he’d begun using drugs. Because he should know that answer: never.
“The fae are nuts, and so are you if you think I’m going there.” I’d never been to Faerie and had only recently met some of the fae leaders. The Faerie Queen was a nightmare and so were the two princes who were vying to succeed her if and when she finally went to the big fairyland in the sky.
He didn’t answer, and curiosity eventually got the better of me. “Why do you want to go to Faerie?”
Rene grinned, his teeth straight and even in his tanned face. He’d begun to let his jet-black hair grow out a little and it was starting to curl over his collar and frame his angular face, accenting eyes such a dark, liquid brown they might as well be black too.
“Since you’re asking, that means you’re gonna do it,” he said, confirming my suspicious that I’d been had. “It’s for the pirate’s birthday tomorrow. I thought of a great present we could give him.”
French pirate Jean Lafitte, a member of the historical undead, would be turning 230 years old, give or take a year or two. He wasn’t saying and I suspected he wasn’t sure himself—in fact, it might not even be his real birthday. But I’d play along.
“What can we give him in Faerie that we couldn’t give him here in New Orleans?”
“Captain Jack Sparrow.”
I stared at Rene, horrified. Yes, I knew there was an outpost of Faerie called Storyland, where fictional characters could be brought to life. I’d heard it described like Disneyland for the fae, who found human entertainment, well, entertaining.
“Jean Lafitte and Captain Jack Sparrow would be a disaster. Jean would kill him within a minute.” Not that Captain Jack was real or could be killed. Of course, Jean was also immortal. It might not get deadly but it could get ugly.
“He loves that first ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movie,” Rene said. “I been checkin’ up on it, babe. We can order one particular scene for us to be part of, and I know his favorite.”
It might be fun but…wait. “What do you mean a scene for us? I’d be strictly a facilitator.” I could create a transport and take them to Storyland, as long as I had some coordinates, but that was the limit of my involvement.
“You’ll do it. You won’t be able to help yourself.” Rene grinned. “I know you too well, babe.”
Setting up this pending disaster had proven distressingly easy. Rene did some homework and learned that one could make reservations in Storyland via a website, the faeries being the only preternatural species to embrace human technology.
In fact, Faerie Queen Sabine claimed to have invented the Internet, but she would have to work that out with Al Gore.
The morning of Jean’s alleged birthday dawned clear and cool, and the pirate looked to be in a fine mood as he swept open the door of his suite at New Orleans’ posh Hotel Monteleone. He was six-foot-two inches of testosterone-laden Frenchman, dark wavy hair pulled back in a tail, dark cobalt-blue eyes sparkling with mischief or fury, depending on his mercurial temper. Today, only the dagger he wore tucked into his belt and the jagged scar across his jaw line hinted at the violence of which he was capable.
Rene had told him to wear his pirate gear, which for Jean meant a white tunic cinched with a wide black belt into which he’d tucked a muzzle-loaded pistol and a dagger, poured-on black pants, and knee-high boots. I’d pulled my hair into a ponytail and dressed in black from head to toe, and Rene had his usual jeans and an LSU t-shirt.
“Mes amis, what is this surprise you have for Jean Lafitte on the likely day of his birth?” Jean looked like a 230-year-old kid waiting for a balloon.
I glared at Rene. “What do you mean the likely day? You don’t know whether or not it’s your birthday?” I knew it.
Jean shrugged. “We did not honor such things in my day, but Rene suggested April 15 would be an appropriate day to celebrate my birth.”
It worked for me. April 15 was tax day, and Jean was frequently taxing. “Fine, let’s just do this. Jean, is it okay if I make a transport in your hotel suite?”
“Mais oui. To what place will we be traveling?”
As the leader of the historical undead in New Orleans—famous people granted immortality by the power of human memory—Jean Lafitte had had many years in which to travel around the vast Beyond. Of the preternatural kingdoms, Faerie was the largest and most heavily populated.
“Have you been to Storyland?”
“Non.” His brow furrowed. “It is a colony that belongs to the fae and while I have often visited the capital city, I have never visited this land of stories.”
“Today’s your lucky day, pirate.” Rene clapped him on the shoulder. “That’s where we’re havin’ your birthday party.”
I just hoped no one ended up getting lit up like a candle—or a cannon.
Moving aside a coffee table, I used some chalk from my portable magic kit to form the interlocking circle and triangle of a transport. At the time of our reservation, two p.m., I joined Rene and Jean inside it and touched the tip of my finger to the chalk line. I’d use my native wizard’s magic to fuel the transport from this end, but I had my elven fire staff tucked into my backpack in case of emergency. Wizards’ magic often didn’t work in the Beyond.
After a few miserable seconds as we flashed across space and time, we arrived in a shadowy, cobblestoned alleyway that smelled of beer and urine. Kind of like the French Quarter, in other words. Around us were small storefronts and pubs, but sunlight glinted off blue water down a hill from the open end of the alley. A large wooden ship could be seen floating offshore.
“Mon Dieu,” Jean said in an awe-filled whisper. “It is Captain Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl. I wish to have her.”
I gave Rene the evil eye as we trailed Jean down the alleyway and through the open doorway of a squat, thatch-roofed building. A motley assortment of men and scantily clad, overly rouged women sat on mismatched chairs and stools and barrels in the gloomy interior. The noise level was akin to the Superdome during a Saints playoff game.
A grubby, toothless man who’d last seen a bath in the Stone Age sidled up to me and clapped a hand on my breast, which lasted as long as it took me to whip my elven staff out of my bag and whack him over the head with it. No point in resorting to magic before necessary.
“Arrrrrrrr,” he mumbled, tumbling to the ground, flat on his back. I bent over to make sure he was breathing and was relieved to hear him snore.
I caught up with Rene, grabbed a fistful of hair, and jerked him within earshot. “Get that damned pirate and drag him back to the transport. We’re outta here.”
“No can do, babe.” Rene shrugged. “We’ve lost him—I think he went into the back room over there with…Never mind. There he is.”
Rene pointed across the barroom, where Jean emerged from a doorway ahead of a red-faced man in a gray tunic. They shook hands, and only when Jean turned and strode toward the exit did I see what he’d been up to.
“Holy crap, he’s got a sword.” That had been the fastest purchase in history. I pulled Rene from the clutches of a buxom redhead old enough to be his grandmother, and dragged him toward the exit. Jean was already out of sight.
“I can’t believe you let that woman grope you.” I punched Rene in the shoulder as we trotted down the alley to keep Jean in view. He was headed for the harbor. “She was gross.”
“I’m a guy, babe. Ain’t much we’ll turn down.”
Yeah, well, even mermen needed standards.
Rene stopped abruptly. “Oh, that ain’t good. That ain’t good.”
Jean had stalked up the gangway to the hulking black wooden ship, its ragged sails hanging limp but its pirate flag flapping in the breeze. He stood at the point the gangway met the deck, nose to nose with Captain Jack Sparrow himself.
Rene and I broke into a run. “Think it’s really Johnny Depp?” I shouted. Maybe I could get an autograph.
“I’m betting that answer would be no,” Rene yelled back, sprinting ahead of me and calling over his shoulder. “Johnny Depp probably don’t use a sword that good.”
Damn it, Jean was going to get himself killed by a fictional character—killed being a relative term in his case.
My undead Frenchman was at least five inches taller and more heavily muscled than his fictional foe, but Captain Jack Sparrow was quick on his feet. And sexy as hell, dreadlocks, black eyeliner, heavy brown leather vest and all. I’d always had a weakness for Johnny Depp, and we all knew my weakness for pirates. Put them together? Trouble.
Rene poked me. “Stop ogling Captain Jack and do something, wizard.”
I shook myself out of my starstruck stupor and reassessed. Both men were breathing hard as they parried back and forth across the deck. Jean shouted in French and Captain Jack Sparrow shouted in an indecipherable, drunken British accent.
Finally, they separated and scowled at each other across six feet of wooden deck.
“What the hell is it you want, mate? You don’t rightly belong here. I am Captain Jack Sparrow, and you’re…not.” he said with a flourish.
Jean raised himself to his full height, his accent growing more pronounced. “I am Captain Jean Lafitte, the greatest privateer of my age, and a man you do not wish to anger.”
I gave them even odds on arrogance, and apparently they were evenly matched at swordplay. I knew Jean had never lost a duel in his human life; he seemed to have kept his skills sharp, so to speak.
“Well, Jean LaWheat, or whatever your name is, you’re not the greatest anything of my era, mate. Are you looking to join my merry band of pirates?”
“Bah.” Jean spit on the deck, which made me cringe. That had to be a plank-walking crime. “I wish you to take leave of The Black Pearl and allow a true ship captain to assume the helm. Otherwise, I shall be forced to take her from you.”
“Ah….” Captain Jack stroked his beard and finally noticed Rene and me standing behind Jean. “Ah…very well, then, mate. I think we can strike a bargain, if you know what I mean. I’ll give you me ship, and you’ll give me….” He stroked his beard again and his gaze landed on me and stayed.
“You give me her.” He pointed his sword past Jean and straight at me.
He no longer seemed so Johnny Depp-like. In fact, I had an urge to run like hell. Instead, I tightened my hand around the elven staff and shot Rene a dirty look when he started laughing.
“Shut up, fish boy,” I muttered out the side of my mouth. “I’ll deal with you later.”
Jean turned slowly and looked at me, raising one eyebrow. “An even trade?”
Seriously? I raised an eyebrow in return and twirled the staff in my right hand like a stubby baton. I could zap him with it just as easily as I could hit Captain Jack. In fact, if I got them close together, I could zap them both with one surge of energy. A twofer.
“Tres bien.” Jean turned his back on me and my staff. “I agree to this trade, although I should warn you that the lovely Drusilla is often ill-tempered and often has poor manners.”
Wait a minute. How had this suddenly become a death-ship-for-wizard swap meet?
I’d had enough. With Rene laughing behind me, I stomped around Jean and stood between Pirate England and Pirate France. “Who wants to feel the brunt of my wrath first?”
“Cheeky. I rather like that,” Captain Jack said, leaning toward me. “Let me feel whatever you like, my lovely.”
“Fine.” I shoved the staff against his forearm and gave him a good, healthy zap of elven magic. Not enough to do permanent damage—like that was possible—but enough to send him prancing around the deck like a drunken show horse.
When he finally settled down, Captain Jack had disappeared and in his place was a young man of the same general size and stature and in the same outfit, but with short blond hair. “What the hell are you?” He had no trace of an accent.
“Let’s just say I’m not human exactly,” I said. “What are you?”
“Lady, you’re in Faerie. What do you think I am?”
He held his hands up, did some intricate finger movements, and turned back into Captain Jack. “You have a half-hour left on your deluxe package, mate. Care to spar?”
“Bah, the moment is ruined.” Jean turned his back and started down the gangway to the dock. “We shall drink instead.”
“And you’re buying. See you later, babe.” Rene headed down the ramp after Jean.
Great. I turned back to the faery pirate. “So, can you turn into Johnny Depp for a half hour?” A girl could hope.
Copyright 2015 Suzanne Johnson. May not be reprinted, excerpted or reproduced without permission.
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series from TOR Books. Book four, PIRATE’S ALLEY, was released in April 2015; book five, BELLE CHASSE, will be released in 2016. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, as well as The Collectors romantic suspense series, both for Montlake Romance, as well as several standalones. She’ll start a new romantic suspense series for Montlake in 2016, beginning with WILD MAN’S BLUFF. She’s been a finalist for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Awards in both 2014 and 2015. A displaced New Orleanian, Suzanne currently lives in Auburn, Alabama.
You can visit Suzanne around the web here: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Want to read more from Suzanne Johnson?
This contest is provided by Suzanne Johnson!
One lucky reader will win a signed book choice of any of the books in the Sentinels of New Orleans series if in the U.S. or Canada or a book from Book Depository and a signed bookplate if the winner is outside the U.S!
Available April 21, 2015 from Tor Books
About this Book:
After vanquishing undead serial killers and discovering the dark secrets of her family history, wizard sentinel DJ Jaco must now stop the coming preternatural war in Suzanne Johnson’s Pirate’s Alley.
Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear.
Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world–the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae–DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal.
Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband Quince Randolph is growing more powerful, and her best friend Eugenie has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back. And that’s before the French pirate Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest “death,” returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ’s assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that.
Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature.
War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won’t be that easy.
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