I love stories set in New Orleans, so I decided to write my own. This will eventually be a Love Boat style series set in a haunted French Quarter hotel. This is the first chapter. 🙂
“Bienvenue! Welcome to the Gilded Lily.” Josephine Jacobs, or J.J., said automatically as she heard a customer approach the front desk.
Holy crawfish! J.J thought as she looked up from the elegant front desk of the New Orleans hotel and fell head over hormones into lust.
“Checking in.” said the object of her affliction, “Name’s Rhett. Rhett Butler.”
This is bad. J.J. thought. I’m about to climb over this desk and molest a customer with a fake name.
“Rhett Butler?” J.J. asked, raising an eyebrow. She blew a lock of hair out of her face and hit some keys on the computer keyboard. J.J. looked up at him. Again, she was hit with a white-hot wave of lust. His head was shaved underneath a black ball cap. Black tribal tattoos wrapped around arms the size of Amazonian anacondas. He wore a simple black t-shirt and fashionably tattered blue jeans. His eyes were deep brown as was his five o’clock shadow. He was just her type, masculine and ragged around the edges.
“What can I say, my dad was a Gone With the Wind fan.” he replied.
“Is that right?” J.J. asked.
“Yes ma’am.” He said leaning in over the desk, closer to J.J. “You look like a woman that should be kissed. And often….” His smoky voice trailed off.
“And by someone who knows how.” J.J. finished for him breathlessly. She took a deep breath and stepped back. “You are in the Red Light Suite, Mr. Butler. Are you here for the Voodoo Music Festival?”
“Yes, I am.”
Her eyes met his and the air between them sizzled. The flame seemed to burn the oxygen out of the air, leaving her feeling light-headed and half giddy. She sucked in a breath, catching a whiff of his woodsy cologne. She closed her eyes as the floor seemed to shift.
She exhaled a breath and choked out, “This key unlocks both your room and the gate to your private courtyard. Enjoy the festival and your stay with us. If you need anything,” J.J. cringed inwardly as her voice broke on the word anything. “Don’t be afraid to call the front desk.”
J.J. held the key out, and Rhett’s fingers brushed hers as he grabbed it. His fingers moved slowly and deliberately over hers as he took it.
Anaconda Arms, aka Rhett Butler, pocketed the key. “If I need any….thing,” he winked at her. “You’ll be the first one I call, Miss?”
“Jacobs,” she replied, “J.J.”
“J.J.” he said, then nodded toward the brass plated sign over her shoulder, “Complimentary Happy Hour?” he asked.
“Yes. At six.”
“Will you be off?”
“Maybe.” she said smiling. Damn right she would be, she thought, she was only covering the front desk while Andrea took a break.
A smile flashed across his face, “Maybe I’ll come down then.”
J.J. watched as he disappeared into the elevator. Something about him seemed familiar. Who was he? He was not Rhett Butler, and he wouldn’t be the first person to
That Voodoo That You Do, Short Long Series Contemporary/3
check in under a fake name.
“J.J.” someone was calling her name.
“What?” she snapped. She shook her head and looked to see who it was. It was Zoey and J.J. instantly felt bad. The twenty-something bartender, was smiling at her from the adjoining door of the hotel’s lounge.
“I’m sorry, Zoey.” J.J. said “What is it?”
“He was hot, huh?” Zoey teased, flashing a pierced eyebrow in the direction of the elevator.
J.J. frowned at her and started needlessly straightening the top of the Queen Anne desk. “Isn’t it time for your shift? What did you do to your hair?” J.J. asked Zoey, gesturing to the streak of burgundy in her dark hair.
“I dyed it this morning. Do you think Dean will notice?” she asked.
J.J. smiled, “If he doesn’t, he’s blind.”
“I hope so.”
“It looks good.” J.J. said.
“About tonight, you can handle the delivery from Jagneaux’s today. Just leave the invoice by the register. I’ll pick it up after happy hour.”
“No problem. Are you coming down for happy hour tonight?”
J.J. thought of Rhett. She wouldn‘t miss happy hour tonight for the world. “Yes.”
“Good. Tobias has been unusually rowdy lately.”
“He’s probably fussing with Lucy again. You know how they are. I’ll come down
keep any eye on things.”
“Good. He doesn’t listen to me. He almost broke the beer mugs last night.”
“Tobias doesn’t really listen to anyone. But, I’ll come down and check it out.” J.J. said and turned her attention to the couple walking through the door.
“Bienvenue! Welcome to the Gilded Lily.” J.J said.
As the desk clerk returned from her break, J.J. checked the time on the slim gold watch on her wrist. Five o’clock. She had an hour to go to her room, shower, and change for happy hour. J.J. started mentally rifling through her closet. What would she wear?
J.J. gave the lobby a last look. Every detail from the elaborate crystal chandelier, to the tapestry wall hangings, to the tall white and blue flower arrangements had been chosen by a Jacobs. The hotel had been in the family for generations. A former Jacobs had purchased The Gilded Lily, a former bordello, and opened it as a hotel.
J.J. grew up here and now ran this hotel taking over after her mother retired. When other hotels around had been bought out by big companies, her family had held on. And for that J.J. was grateful.
Satisfied that everything was as it should be, J.J. smiled and headed to her suite.
After her shower, J.J. donned a soft, white, robe and stepped out of the bathroom. Her blonde hair was wet and floating around her shoulders. She thought again of Rhett, or
whatever his name was. This man was already taking up too much parking space in her mind. She didn’t have time for this distraction. She was still in men-o-pause after her last dating disaster.
Like the proverbial moth to the flame, and despite men-o-pause, she headed to her closet anyway. Maybe she should take a pause from taking a pause from men.
“What do you think we should wear tonight?” she asked as she stared into her closet.
Silently, a slinky black little number slid off a hanger and onto the floor.
She picked it up, “No, not this, not yet. It’s just happy hour.” She said. “Something else.”
A tight black shirt covered in silvery sequins was next to fall to the floor. J.J. sighed and put it back on the hanger.
“Lucy, seriously.” She said. “Something less dramatic.”
A red sweater was next to fall. It was one of her favorites. It hugged her curves and showed a slight tease of cleavage. “This is perfect. Thanks, Lucy.”
She smiled as she laid the sweater and a pair of slim black slacks on her bed and crossed back into her bathroom. With her sliding glass doors open to the courtyard, she could hear music. Someone was strumming a guitar in the courtyard. The melody hit J.J. in the stomach. It was the song she had listened to repeatedly while going through her divorce.
“No, it can’t be.” she said and inched toward the courtyard balcony.
Someone started to sing softly and J.J.’s knees went weak.
She now knew who Rhett really was.