Voodoo On Bayou Lafonte offers some serious reading MoJo for fans of paranormal romantic suspense! Susan has done a wonderful job crafting a book with all the elements I love . . . romance (of course), a suspenseful plot, realistic characters with tangible chemistry and a creepiness that kept me nibbling at my thumb nail until I finished the final page.
Remy and Gabrielle are the estranged couple who never moved on because deep down, they still have feelings for each other. Remy is a detective in Houston, Gabby lives with their daughter, Adrienne, in Louisiana. When Gabby calls Remy to help locate the missing teenager whom authorities believe ran away, he wastes no time joining the search. The stress of a missing child, combined with old wounds, keeps the conversation lively between Remy and Gabby in the beginning.
As the investigation delves deeper into Adrienne’s disappearance, the star crossed lovers are thrust into a whirlwind of danger. I mean, this book covers a gamut of adventurous scenarios to whet your appetite for suspense – voodoo, drug rings, corrupt law enforcement . . . even a hurricane. Remy and Gabby soon realize their feelings for each other are just as strong as ever but their true happiness hinges of finding their daughter alive.
Loved this book! You will, too. It’s a great romantic suspense filled with action, snappy dialogue and characters who are easy to like.
Voodoo on Bayou Lafonte
Occult Series – Book 3
Susan C. Muller
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: December 18, 2013
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Rae Monet
A frantic phone call leads Detective Remy Steinberg racing through the night toward the one place he vowed never to return. With the life of his kidnapped daughter at stake, he willingly faces shotgun-wielding drug dealers, corrupt law-enforcement officials, and a raging hurricane.
Scouring the seedy back alleys of New Orleans for information, he goes undercover at a sinister voodoo ceremony, and struggles to understand the forces of black magic that hold his daughter hostage.
With time ticking down, he battles for his life against a high voodoo priest, but can he face the two things he fears most: the swamp that terrorized his childhood, and the ex-wife he’s never stopped loving?
Detective Remy Steinberg must return to Louisiana in search of his kidnapped daughter. Can he save her before the swamp swallows her up and he loses any chance at happiness?
Detective Remy Steinberg glared at his phone. No good could come from answering this late on a Friday afternoon, but he still had ten minutes left on his shift. It was one thing to slip out when you finished your work, but to turn his back on a ringing phone . . .
He glanced at his lieutenant’s office. Hard Luck Luchak stared back at him. Damn. Remy gritted his teeth and reached for the phone, hoping like hell he wouldn’t be delayed.
“Homicide, Steinberg.” Maybe it was one of the guys in the back, playing a joke on him.
Shit. Ball Breaker Number One. What could she want? He’d mailed his child support payment in plenty of time.
“Gabrielle, what is it? I’m just leaving the office.”
“Adrienne didn’t come home from school today.”
He sighed. Poor Adrienne. She never had any freedom.
“For God’s sake, Gabby, she’s sixteen. She can’t be more than an hour late. She’s probably gossiping with a girlfriend. Cut the girl some slack.”
“She’s seventeen, which you’d know if you paid her any attention.”
He knew how old she was, he just didn’t like to think of her as anything except a gap-toothed kid.
Gabby didn’t give him time to answer. “She hasn’t been missing for an hour. She’s been missing for over thirty hours.”
His heart caught in his throat and he couldn’t speak for several seconds. In his job, he’d seen what could befall a young girl in that length of time. He might not be the world’s best dad, but he was her dad just the same.
“What? For over a day? How could you let this happen?” His voice rose and he couldn’t control it, despite the eyes he knew were trained on him. “Why weren’t you keeping track of her? Have you called the police?”
“I’m calling you, aren’t I? You’re the police.” The tremor in her voice might not have been noticeable to anyone else, but he recognized just how scared she was.
“And I’m three hundred miles away.” A good four and a half hours from Comeaux. More like five on a Friday afternoon when half of Houston headed across the state line to do some gambling in Louisiana.
He tightened his grip on the phone. What the hell had happened to his daughter? He wanted to believe she was getting into the same sort of mischief he was at that age, but something in his gut told him her disappearance was far more sinister.
Remy gritted his teeth and turned off his flashing light bar as he crossed the state line. His badge might carry some weight in Texas, but not in Louisiana. Those guys had a hard-on against everything from Texas except the money that rolled in.
Well, too damn bad. He felt the same about their whole fucking state. Had since the day his mother dragged the family there from New Jersey.
He understood, forgave her even. When his father died, she needed someplace that felt like home. Only it never felt like home to him. In fact, it felt more like purgatory. And he got out of there as fast as he could.
Unfortunately, that meant dragging Gabrielle and Adrienne to Texas with him. And Gabby had refused to do that. She’d given him an ultimatum. Come back or get a divorce. Well, he’d never much liked ultimatums. And he sure as hell didn’t plan to ever live in that state again.
He’d gone to Texas in search of work, sure that if Gabby loved him enough, she’d follow. Only she hadn’t, and he’d refused to give up a good job and return to a hand-to-mouth existence, sponging off of family, and feeling like a failure because he couldn’t support his new baby and his wife.
The same wife who hadn’t loved him enough to come with him.
His hands tightened on the wheel until his fingers went numb. Would things have been different if he hadn’t been so bullheaded? Was Adrienne paying the price for his stubbornness?
He could beat himself up later for rash decisions. All that mattered now was his daughter’s safety.
Two of the detectives in his squad, Adam Campbell and Ruben Marquez, had stayed late at the station to work the phones, something he appreciated. Even his boss was pulling all the strings he could, but Remy knew he was on his own.
And every minute that passed, the knot in his gut grew.
He stopped for gas, a quick burger, and to study the map. He hadn’t been here for at least three years, probably four, and if it weren’t for Adrienne he wouldn’t be here now. As soon as she was old enough to fly alone, he’d brought her out to join him for her weekend visits.
Nothing had changed. A few more fast-food joints, a few more casinos. But the fucking swamp was still only feet off the road in places. And the people that lived in it were still as superstitious and backward as ever.
The burger tasted like cardboard, but he didn’t care. Just fuel for his body. No different than the gas he put in the car.
Another hour of driving, and he turned off the interstate, into bayou country. The lights fell away and he was left with only his headlights poking a hole in the darkness. Even the air felt heavy, like the weight on his shoulders.
God, how he hated this place. And now it had taken his daughter.
Remy’s heart barely had time to slow down before they coasted into the driveway of the next friend on Adrienne’s phone-list. He shot a quick peek at Gabby as she chewed on her bottom lip. What was she so nervous about, Adrienne or something else?
As if reading his mind, Gabby gave a tiny shrug. “Claudine’s stepfather is kind of a jerk, so be careful. I get the feeling he’s not around much so hopefully he won’t be home.”
Remy dealt with jerks every day. He even worked with some. Gabby probably thought a cross word meant the end of the world. Sometimes being sweet could be a disadvantage. He didn’t have that problem.
Claudine was outside, climbing into a blue Honda. Gabby spoke up before the girl had time to shut her car door. “Hi, Claudine. This is Mr. Steinberg, Adrienne’s father. He wants to ask you some questions about Adrienne’s disappearance.
Claudine started fidgeting with her car keys. “I wouldn’t know anything about that.”
Every damn time. People either outright lied or omitted things they didn’t want to talk about. Did they think he was a fool? He could read body language faster than most people could read a book.
The teen tried to close the car door, she wasn’t getting away that easy. He leaned down when he heard someone shout.
“Hey! What are you doing?” A big guy wearing cut-off jeans, flip-flops, and a thick covering of body hair leaned out the door of the house. “Get away from her before I call the police.”
“Claudine’s stepfather,” Gabby whispered before lifting her head. “Hi, Dan. It’s Gabby Hough, Adrienne’s mother. Her father and I are just asking Claudine if she’s talked to Adrienne lately.
“I said, ‘Back away.’” Cryer grabbed a shotgun from behind the front door and started across the lawn. “I don’t care who you are or what happened to your whore of a daughter. Get you hand off the car and your butt off my property or I’ll blow your balls off.”
Remy’s ears roared as blood rushed to his head. Now wasn’t the time. Finding Adrienne had to be his priority. But Cryer’s time would come. He promised himself that.
He put out his hands and twisted toward the man. “There’s no need to use that kind of language in front of these women. We were just asking Claudine for her help.”
The idiot took another step his direction and leveled the shotgun at his chest. “And I said, ‘Get the fuck out of here.’”
Remy mentally counted to ten. He sure didn’t want to have to shoot the guy, not in front of his stepdaughter, or Gabby.
Heart pounding, he kept walking toward Cryer, his hands at his shoulders, palms out. He wasn’t the frightened little pipsqueak he’d been at eleven. “Come on, man. Her mother’s in a state about this. We won’t be but another minute.”
“You’re fucking right about that, asshole.”
Dan adjusted his grip on the shotgun as Remy slapped the barrel aside. In two moves, the big man was facedown on the ground with Remy’s knee in his back.
Remy leaned forward and whispered in his ear, “Ferme ta gueule, merde embulante. If you ever pull a weapon again on me or mine, I’ll stick it so far up your ass the coroner won’t be able to identify the pieces.” He kept his knee against Dan’s back as he unloaded the shotgun, tossing the shells in one direction and flinging the gun into a bed of azaleas.
Remember,” he continued, his voice a deep growl, “use that language in front of my wife again, and I’ll be back to discuss it.”
Gabby didn’t speak on the way to Sherri Lynn’s, the next stop on their interrogation route. Her hands were shaking and her voice probably was, too. Besides, what could she say to Remy? You shouldn’t have beat up that guy? That would have been a lie. The creep deserved everything he got. I didn’t know you could do that? Maybe. At least that would have been the truth. You shouldn’t have told Dan to shut his trap or called him a walking piece of shit? That was very true. Dan Cryer never forgot, and he never forgave.
Oh, and by the way, for someone who seemed so eager to sever the marital connection, when did I become your wife again?
She clasped her still-trembling hands in her lap and stared out the front window.
Remy didn’t take his eyes off the road as he spoke. “Would you like to get a cup of coffee, something to eat, before we try the next girl?”
Eat? How could she eat? Her stomach was in knots and her heart was about to punch a hole in her chest. “Don’t you think we should try to get to Sherri Lynn’s before Claudine or her father decides to call over there?”
“Claudine’s not going to say anything, not for a long time. And Dan is inside changing his underwear and trying to convince himself the last fifteen minutes never happened. The last thing he’ll ever do is tell anyone. Right now we’re both upset, and Sherri Lynn is our last chance. We need to calm down before we face her.”
Gabby sighed. Remy was right. They did need to settle down. “Papite’s is still on Pecan Street, and they still make the best shrimp po’boys in three parishes.”
They didn’t speak again until they were settled in a high-backed booth in the far corner. The vinyl seats were cracked and held together with duct tape, but their voices couldn’t be heard over the hum of the air conditioning unit. No point letting the whole parish in on their discussion.
She waited until the waiter left with their order before broaching the subject she’d debated sharing with Remy. “Starting something with Don Cryer might not have been the best idea. He’s not a very nice man and he holds a grudge.”
Remy flashed her a cocky grin. “You haven’t been around me much over the last years, but I can be a badass myself, if need be. I don’t hold a grudge, but I don’t put up with shit, either. Cryer pointed a loaded gun at us. If I’d backed down, I’d have lost the respect of every man for a hundred miles, and no one in this parish would have told me anything. I don’t care about popularity, but I do intend to find my daughter, and that takes information.”
Gabby felt a knot form in her stomach. Just like always, Remy wasn’t listening to her. “Did you see that house? And the land it sat on? The place must be worth millions. Dan didn’t get that playing by the rules. Now there’s rumors Dan’s bringing drugs in from Texas, maybe even New Orleans and Baton Rouge. You can’t find Adrienne if you’re dead. And even if he doesn’t kill you, Adrienne and I have to live in this town after you’re gone.”
Oops. Had she really said that? She sank back against the cushions. Well, it was true. Like before, Remy would rush in, think he had to save her, and just when she got used to having him around, he’d be gone. And she’d have to learn to live without him all over again.
“Is that what this is about, the elephant in the room? I’m sorry I called you my wife. If it insults you that much, I’ll go back and retract the statement.”
About the Author:
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a fourth generation Texan and I attended Stephen F. Austin State University where I majored in Business Administration, but took creative writing classes on the side because that’s where my heart was.
I have always loved reading and if it’s true that God doesn’t subtract the hours you spend reading from your life span, then I should pass the century mark with flying colors. I first tried my hand at writing when I was eleven, but the sun was shining and I had a new bike so that effort was doomed to failure.
I didn’t try writing again until I was well into my sixties. People ask me why I took it up then and my answer is simple, because my husband retired. If you don’t understand, just wait, you will.
My first novel, The Secrets on Forest Bend, won several awards. After that, I was hooked.
I’ve been blessed with two great kids and four grandkids. My late husband and I loved to travel and we saw much of the world. Kenya, New Zealand, and the Galapagos Islands are a few of my favorite places. After he passed, I thought my traveling days were over, yet I’ve since been to Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.
I live in Spring, Texas where I currently serve as president of the Northwest Houston chapter of RWA and volunteer at a local hospital. I also enjoy speaking to book clubs and writers groups.