IMPORTANT: Did you preorder EVIL EYE yet? March 6 is coming up so fast!! And Jack, Tess, and the gang are in SO much trouble this time. It all starts when a certain pirate shows up in Tess’s pawn shop … scroll down for a sneak peek!
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EVIL EYE: coming March 6!
When I walked into my pawn shop this morning, a pirate was talking to my alligator. This was unexpected, since both of them were dead.
“Not again,” I groaned.
The alligator, whose swamp-swimming days were long over, said nothing. She’d been taxidermied before Elvis left the proverbial building. Her name was Fluffy, and she sported a sparkly purple scarf. Her tail was also bisected by a big strip of duct tape (neon green this time) to hide the hole from when my part-time assistant shot it.
It wasn’t Eleanor’s fault. She was trying to shoot the tiger.
The pirate, on the other hand, had a much bigger reaction, if the way the feathers in his hat quivered was any indication.
“Well, voila. What sweet little nugget of red-haired deliciousness do we have here? Sacre bleu! I’d like to sink my teeth into her—”
I wasn’t sure which was redder, my face or my hair, by the time I got over my surprise for long enough to form words. “Stop right there, Buddy—or is it Captain?—I am so not in the mood.”
The pirate, who’d started toward me, froze in mid-step. His piercing dark eyes pinned me in place, but I tried not to notice how handsome he was because, as I mentioned earlier: dead.
Ghost, to be specific.
“You can see me?”
Dang. I should have pretended I didn’t. That’s how I’d handled the few ghost sightings I’d had before.
Too late now.
“Yes.” I sighed. “I can see you. But I don’t know what you expected to get out of talking to Fluffy. It has a weird Captain Hook vibe to it, but Fluffy never swallowed any clocks.”
His forehead furrowed. “Who is this Captain Hook? Does he sail with the Spanish?”
“No. It’s … never mind. Who are you, and why are you in my pawn shop, if you don’t mind me asking?” I used my polite voice, of course—twenty-six years of southern upbringing was baked into my DNA along with a monumental over-fondness for pecan pie and sweet tea.
His frown immediately turned into a charming smile that made me think he must have been quite popular wherever and whenever he came from. He removed his hat, swept it in front of him, and bowed. “Mademoiselle, allow me to introduce myself. I am General Pierre Arneaux, originally of Saint-Domingue, lately of Florida, and currently in this barnacle heap of a town to protect my treasure.”
I glared at him. “Dead End is not a barnacle heap.”
The ghost’s eyes widened, but before he could answer, I felt a sliver of cold air touch the side of my neck and turned to see the tiger walk through the connecting door from his PI agency to my pawn shop.
Technically, Jack was a human now. In fact, I hadn’t seen him in tiger form since I got shot.
“That’s what you got from what he said? Pierre freaking Arneaux walks into your pawn shop and you’re worried about his opinion of Dead End?” Jack shook his head, his green eyes dancing with amusement.
I folded my arms across my chest and gave him a Look. “Home town pride, buddy. And I just need a minute with the other stuff. I haven’t had enough coffee yet for this.”
Arneaux was now gaping at Jack. “You can see me, too? Wait … your energy is different. You’re not human!”
With that, he drew his sword and leapt across the room, landing between me and Jack. “En garde, you foul beast! I will die before I let you harm this wench.”
“Hey! Enough with the wench talk,” I told him. “Nobody comes into my shop and calls me a wench. I really need coffee now. Jack?”
“I could use some.” Jack sauntered toward me, playing a cat-and-mouse game (tiger-and-pirate game?) with Arneaux, who stepped out of the way just before Jack would have walked right through him.
“Wait.” I stopped, one hand on the door to the back room where I kept the coffeemaker. “You can see ghosts, too?”
Jack shrugged his broad shoulders, which drew attention to the rest of his hard-muscled deliciousness, but I was too loaded up with dead pirate issues to swoon or leap on him, sadly.
“Sure. Most shifters can. I’ve never met a celebrity before, though.”
Arneaux, looking sheepish, thrust his ghost sword back into its ghost sheath and bowed to both of us.
“He’s big on bowing,” I explained helpfully.
“Yeah, I get that,” Jack said, one side of his mouth quirked up in a grin. “Why are you here, John Boy?”
“That is not my name,” the pirate said icily, coming up out of the bow and glaring at Jack. “You may address me as General, Captain, or Sir.”
“Okay, Captain Ectoplasm, why are you in Tess’s pawn shop?”
Jack’s voice was deceptively mild; the tone he always used just before he got really, really angry.
Trust me, you don’t want to make a tiger shifter angry.
Arneaux’s eyes snapped with a surprisingly lively amount of anger for a dead guy, but then he smoothed his neat mustache and nodded sharply. “Yes. That. I’m here to protect my treasure.”
I closed my eyes. I may even have groaned and smacked myself in the forehead. “Why does this stuff keep happening to me? Why not show up at the deli? Or the library? Or the laundromat?”
When I opened my eyes, they were both staring at me with wary expressions on their faces.
Men. Dead, alive, they were all the same.
“You’re not going to be able to do much with the treasure at this point,” Jack pointed out.
The pirate flinched but then raised his chin. “It is not just the gold. It is the skeleton of my friend I wish to keep from being desecrated by these … these … treasure hunters.”
He said “treasure hunters” in the tone that normal people would use to say “cockroaches,” but I was too stuck on the other part of his statement to pay much attention.
“Skeleton? You buried a skeleton with your treasure?” My voice may have gotten a little high by the end, because this time Jack flinched.
Stupid tigers and their superior hearing, as he keeps telling me.
“No, of course not,” Arneaux said dismissively.
I blew out a sigh of relief. I was tired of encountering dead bodies. “Well, that’s good, because–“
“I buried three skeletons with my treasure.”
Pre-order EVIL EYE now to find out what happens next!!