Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Danger, Curves Ahead -- An Original Sentinels of New Orleans Short Story

Note: “Danger: Curves Ahead” is an original short story set in the world of my Sentinels of New Orleans series. The series features wizard DJ Jaco, canine-shapeshifting enforcer Alex Warin, the undead 19th-century French pirate Jean Lafitte, Cajun merman Rene Delachaise, and a New Orleans cast of many—few of them actually human. 

They'll all be joining me as I attend the Southern Magic Romance Readers Luncheon in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday, November 2. Tickets are on sale through the link above. Sit at my table and I'll share stories of Jean Lafitte. Oh yeah, and JEANIENE FROST is the featured speaker, and we'll hear from our own fabulous Christy Reece! "Danger: Curves Ahead" is offered as part of our month-long Blog Blast, with daily giveaways and a grand prize of a Kindle Fire HD. Today's contest ends at midnight on Saturday, September 7, and will be announced on this page. The grand prize winner will be drawn on Sept. 30 from all daily comments--the more days you comment, the more entries you get. Note that today's daily contest is international; the Kindle giveaway is U.S. only.

by Suzanne Johnson

Alex Warin balked at the soggy parking lot of Elmwood Center, frowning at the strip mall in front of him and ignoring a gaggle of elderly, white-haired women in yoga pants, t-shirts, and bright red hats tottering past to get out of the rain. “This wasn’t part of the deal.”

The sign on the door in front of us read “Curves for Women.”

I tried to stifle a grin from deep inside the hood of my yellow rain slicker. I’m sure the gloat shone through, however, as I grabbed his wrist and tugged him toward the door. “I won the bet. You broke down and drank a beer before I even had a whiff of chocolate. That means I pick the gym.”

Eight solid days of rain had turned our jogging path in New Orleans’ Audubon Park into a mud-filled trench worthy of WWE pit wrestling. This was our compromise.

“DJ, I know you put that six-pack of Turbo Dog in my refrigerator.” Alex’s deep baritone developed a somewhat canine whine. “You play dirty.”

Damn straight. Like that ginormous Hershey bar on my coffee table had arrived via pixie courier.

I pushed open the Curves door, pulling him behind me like a six-foot-three, ripped-abs toddler with a case of the Terrible Twos. He shook water out of his hair like a dog to annoy me, but I was having too much fun to care. The idea of Mr. Macho doing Zumba with members of the Senior Red Hat Society of Greater New Orleans gave me the giggles.

I’d called ahead to make sure they’d let him in, and knew for a fact that the group, whose minimum age was sixty-five, met for rigorous senior-adult butt-shaking every Tuesday morning.

When we reached the front counter, I released Alex’s wrist and gave him a warning glare not to bolt. I had my elven staff, Charlie, inside my rain slicker. Not that zapping him in a room full of crimson-hatted matrons would be worth all the trouble it would cause. My Green Congress wizarding skills could handle the memory-erasure, but I hated to be brought up on human-elder-abuse charges with the wizards' Congress of Elders, who were all pretty damn old themselves.

I turned from my unwilling victim to face the front desk. “I’m DJ Jaco. I talked to you earlier about my friend Alex and I coming in for a workout this morning?”

The perky brunette behind the counter looked past me at said friend, and I swear she purred. “I’m sure the ladies won’t mind if he joins them.” She added as an afterthought, “and you too, of course.”

“Of course.” I glanced over my shoulder at Alex, who’d straightened his shoulders and assumed his I’m-hot-sex-on-two-legs-and-I-know-it expression. It involved a slow smile and a sultry gaze from eyes the color of the uneaten candy bar that had gone from the coffee table to my backpack as soon as I was sure he’d taken the beer bait.

The man was shameless.

Nikki, as the brunette’s name tag identified her, elbowed past me and slid a hand through Alex’s conveniently crooked arm. “C’mon, hon. Your friend said you were shy but we ladies won’t bite.” The purr returned. “Well, not much.”

Alex looked over his shoulder and gave me a smirk I recognized too well. He had a plan. If it involved shedding clothes and shifting into his pony-sized dog form, I didn’t care what elders got abused. He was getting zapped in front of God and everybody's Aunt Mildred.

I thought about joining them, but suddenly realized my appetite for exercise had been replaced by my need for chocolate. Keeping my rain slicker on in case I needed quick access to the staff, I dug the chocolate bar out of my bag and leaned against the counter.

Alex had been surrounded by at least a half-dozen women in hats that ranged from ruby-red straw with fake daisies around the brim to a burgundy felt fedora with rain-bedraggled feathers sagging in its band. 

“Okay, everyone, let’s line up and do some Zumba!” Nikki took her place at the front of the group, and they all shuffled into two neat rows, with Alex at the end. I swear the woman next to him, every bit of five-foot-two and eighty if she was a day, pinched his ass, and he laughed.

If I even admired it too long, he’d tell me to stop leering. Talk about a double standard.

“I think Alex should stand up front with you, Nikki!” shouted The Pincher. “He’ll inspire us to work harder!”

Ha. He’d never do it. He’d turn Neanderthal on them, growl a few times, and we could get out of here. I’d even admit it had been a stupid idea.

“Sure thing.” He swaggered to the head of the class and gave me a long, pointed look before grasping the bottom of his black t-shirt and pulling it over his head. “Need to get out of this wet shirt, though. Hope you ladies don't mind.”

Every woman in the room sighed. Except me. I took an enormous bite of chocolate and chewed like a goat.

Then the deafening sound of Latin music began, followed by various degrees of hip swiveling. At least half the Red Hats were avidly watching one particular set of hips in black jogging pants and not even pretending to exercise.

Not me. I jerked my hood back up, stomped unnoticed out the door, and sloshed through the parking lot toward Burger King. The only swiveling I wanted to see was my straw as I sucked the last drops of a chocolate shake that had my name on it.

Copyright 2013 Suzanne Johnson. May not be reprinted or shared without written permission of the author.

THE GIVEAWAY: Which would you prefer--a Zumba workout with a hot shapeshifter or a big chocolate shake that magically had no calories? Leave a comment to win a $10 gift card to your online retailer of choice, and a signed copy of your choice of the Sentinels of New Orleans books: Royal Street; River Road; or Elysian Fields. Open internationally (if winner is outside the U.S., the book will be sent from Book Depository and a signed bookplate sent, and the gift card equivalent may be ordered by the winner from Book Depo). 


Roger said...

LOL. I'd have the shake. Love these flash fiction stories. They make my day. Thanks

The Snarky Mom said...

Oh, DEFINITELY the shake. Unless the shapeshifter wanted to Zumba ME... LOL!! Oh wait - I don't think The Man would appreciate that. Guess I'd better stick with my first answer - the shake.

Suzanne Johnson said...

LOL--Alex is losing 0-2 (0-3 if my vote counts). He's going to be crushed!

toplesshotdog said...

That is seriously a difficult question but... I love me some chocolate!! :)

Naima Simone said...

LOL! This took me back to when I belonged to Curves. Snicker! I gua-rohn-tee nothing like Alex ever walked through those doors! Dang it!!

Awesome, Suzanne! And I'm casting my vote for chocolate AND shake!

miki said...

i would take the shake ^^ not fit enough to keep up with a shapeshifter ( and let's be honest apart perhaps Jean nothing beats chocolate ( except jean IN chocolate^^)

Momma Bear said...

Welcome to the Sisterhood of Chocolate! :)

S. Bradley Stoner said...

Yeah? Well I vote for Alex... just because us shape shifters need to hang together, y'all!

SandyG265 said...

I've been enjoying these short stories.

bn100 said...

shape-shifter and chocolate shake

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Shadow said...

Hmm hard question. Im gonna have to go chocolate shake. Yum! lol Tho, i am tempted to watch alex do the zumba! hehe Thanks for sharing! This was fun!

Kimberly Mayberry said...

Definitely the zumba workout with the hot shapeshifter! No pain, no gain! I would endure the sweat to watch him sweat, and maybe, we could do some sweating together when we are alone! ;) Afterwards, he could take me for a shake and some chocolate! lol

night-angel55 said...

Can I put them together and have that? :) It would be way to hard to pick just one and they both go so well together.
Love these flash fictions. So much fun.

Eva Millien said...

Depends on how hot and sexy the shapeshifter is. If he's hot enough to motivate me to excercise, then I'll join him and seriously hope for a different kind of exercise later. If not, then I'll enjoy the shake, especially while it is so hot. Loved Dangerous Curves Ahead. Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway. evamillien at gmail dot com

Louisa Cornell said...

Great story, Suzanne! LOVED it! And I'd have to go for Zumba with the hot shape shifter. At my age the years of being able to keep up with the hot shape shifter are dwindling. You're never too old for chocolate! Then again, if you're lucky you're never too old for a hot shape shifter either. :)

BookLady said...

Sorry Alex! I'm taking the chocolate shake.
Loved the story. Thanks for sharing.

Liz S. said...

Zumba and Alex might give these ladies a heart attack! Now DJ should ask for chocolate covered Alex!

lindalou said...

I'll choose the Zumba option!

Suzanne Johnson said...

Thanks for all the comments, everyone! Sorry the day job hijacked me all day and I didn't get a chance to drop in earlier....darn day job.

I'm liking this idea of chocolate-covered Alex. Hmmmmm....I should have offered that option! He's facing some serious competition with a chocolate shake, though. But it's'll just motivate him to work harder!

VampedChik said...

Can I take the shake and just watch the hot Shapeshifter? :) Probably just the shake though. LOL

donnas said...

Tough call, but how can you say no to a chocolate shake with 0 calories.

Lynn K. said...

I loveeeee chocolate but not shakes so the choice is easy. :P

Chris Bailey said...

Chocolate shake with 0 calories. Sounds like a shapeshifter.

Ashfa said...

0 calorie snake for me please, I'll take that any day. :) They are hard to come by.

Theresa said...

Zumba with the hot shapeshifter!!

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