Cover & Excerpt Reveal
by Kirsten Weiss
Riga Hayworth Book Six
Hoodoo, Haunts, and Horror...
Riga Hayworth just wants to wrap up her supernatural TV series exploring the magic of New Orleans.
When she stumbles across a corpse, she becomes a police consultant on a series of occult murders, murders that become all too personal.
Genre: Paranormal MysteryPurchase links: Amazon Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Urban Fantasy, Hoodoo, Vampires, NOLA, Suspense
Release Date: October 31, 2014
Publisher: Misterio Press
Excerpt & More
“What we need is more conflict.” Sam frowned, his sandy hair stirring in the breeze from a nearby fan.
Riga Hayworth caught a waiter's eye, pointed to her empty glass, and raised a digit.
Nodding, he bustled off, leaving her with the crew of the reality TV show. Wait staff and tourists swirled about their courtyard table, in that New Orleans mix of soupy heat and raw excitement. Both heat and excitement irritated Riga. She missed her husband. The Haunted New Orleans episode so far had been a bit silly. And she didn’t really need the money. But she wanted to keep her hand in as an income-earning member of society.
At least her niece, Pen, was a member of the Supernatural Encounters team, giving them a chance for some quality time. The opportunity to do magical research was an added bonus. One of their interviewees, a local hoodoo queen, had joined them for lunch.
If her husband, Donovan, had been able to get away from his casino in Macau, things would have been different. Though he had no relation to the show, the team deferred to him in a way they never would with Riga. As it was, she’d have to sit through Sam’s diatribe.
She pulled her auburn hair off the back of her neck, enjoying the play of the fan on her damp skin. Discreetly, she unpeeled her white silk tank from her back, leaning forward in the wrought iron chair.
“Story is conflict,” her field producer, Sam, rattled on.
Her slim niece, Pen, fiddled with a camera. One bare foot was propped on the edge of her chair, straining the knees of her cargo pants. Today's t-shirt read: KEEP CALM AND GET OFF MY LAWN, an image of a shotgun bracketing top and bottom. Her chair was slightly back from the table, angled toward her boyfriend and fellow cameraperson, John Wolfe. Her other foot rested, hidden, in Wolfe's lap, being massaged. Angus, their sound man, turned a darker shade of pink and looked away.
“I mean, you're gorgeous,” Sam said. He was dressed for an L.L. Bean safari, but judging from the darkening of his freckles, he wasn’t any cooler than the rest of them.
Summer in New Orleans. Why?
He continued, “A Rita Hayworth clone whose name is actually Riga Hayworth. The heart-shaped face, the hair. Your eyes are more of a browny-purple, which is stunning, but the point is...”
Ignoring the producer, Riga narrowed her gaze at Wolfe, massaging her niece’s bare foot. He was a good seven years older than Pen, and though Riga liked him, she was uneasy about the relationship. With his long sideburns and wavy, dark hair, his looks fit his name. Catching her eye, his face paled, and he laid his broad hands on the table. Pen wasn't old enough to drink yet, and Riga was unsure what her role of chaperon entailed, but had decided to err on the side of militancy.
“You're ignoring me again,” the field producer said.
Riga looked up, studying the spot between his pale blue eyes. “I'm not ignoring you,” she lied. “Just waiting for you to elaborate.”
“As am I, chère.” Beside her, Hannah the Hoodoo Queen propped her head in her hands and fluttered her lashes. Tall, with the sculpted cheekbones of a supermodel and the muscular frame of a pro tennis player, Hannah’s dark skin shimmered in the heat. Dreadlocks streamed from beneath her gold-colored turban.
Sam waved his manicured hands in the air. “Conflict. Stories are built on conflict. Our pilot show had it in spades—”
Riga's mouth turned down. “In the pilot we crossed paths with a serial killer. Do you really want that again?”
“No, no. Of course not,” he said. “Just... conflict.”
“We've got some great footage of Riga rolling her eyes and smirking.” Pen shook her tousled, chestnut-colored hair, smothering a smirk of her own.
“It's a start,” Sam said. “But we need more.”
“How much more?” Riga asked.
“We need conflict between people.”
“It's too hot to argue,” Riga said. “Whose bright idea was it to come to New Orleans in June?”
He sighed, glancing at Hannah. “Can't you two at least disagree a little? Magical practitioner to magical practitioner?”
“Why would I disagree with Hannah on anything that has to do with hoodoo?” Riga asked. “She's the specialist, not me.”
“I like this girl,” Hannah said.
He put his hands on his hips. “Work with me here.”
“So you're asking us to fake an argument,” Riga said. “For reality TV.”
“It's television,” Sam said. “You should know by now there's no such thing as reality TV.”
Hannah rose. “Sorry, Mr. Producer. I don't do catfights. And now if y'all would excuse me, I've got to meet a client in desperate need of a love potion.”
“Bye,” Riga said.
Hannah winked and sauntered through the restaurant, winding past the fountain in the center of the courtyard. Pausing beside a table sheltered by ferns, she nodded and disappeared through the garage-like entryway.
Sam folded his lanky arms across his chest. “Riga... We spent the night in one of America's most haunted houses, and you didn't react.”
“It's not that haunted.”
Wolfe's hands were under the table again, and Pen smiled. Riga relaxed, slipped through the in-between. Wolfe's drink toppled, spilling ice and mint leaves and booze into his lap. He leapt up, sputtering, dabbing at his jeans with a cloth napkin.
Pen's feet retracted onto her chair. Peeling a wet leaf from her foot, she glared at her aunt.
Riga gave her a what-are-you-gonna-do-about-it grin. After a year of struggling, her magic had had a sudden breakthrough.
Unfortunately, other parts of her magic were still wildly awry. But the possibilities both excited and terrified. She'd made enemies in the magical world. She fidgeted, itching to return to the thin file in her hotel room, the file on the Old Man she'd told her husband she'd leave at home.
Wolfe tossed the soaked napkin on the table. An awkwardly positioned stain spread over the front of his jeans. “I'll be right back.” He headed for the bathrooms, passing the bar. A youngish man in a Hawaiian shirt and baggy shorts half-fell off his barstool, but managed to keep his tall, tropical drink upright. The drinking got started in New Orleans earlier than any other city Riga had visited.
“Riga, this is important,” Sam said. “You need to react more. People need to see your emotion to connect with you – whether that emotion is positive or negative. For example, what are you feeling right now?”
“Great! And what do you do when you're annoyed?”
Riga's lips thinned. “As a mature adult, I express my annoyance in the appropriate time and manner. If you expect me to pitch a fit like some reality TV star—”
“You are a reality TV star. Or you could be if we get this series off the ground. Look, we've got three more days. Just… give me more reaction, okay?”
“Got it. More emotion. No problem.”
Glass splintered, and they turned toward the sound. Hawaiian shirt guy had navigated off from the barstool and knocked a waitress to the ground. Clumsily, he brushed an orange off her knee. Her tray rolled along the moss-filled brickwork. A toddler in a highchair pointed at it, laughing with delight. Clutching a fistful of napkins, the bartender hurried to the fallen waitress.
Riga's brow furrowed. Stupid drunks, that was her drink seeping into the patio floor.
Waving a hand in apology at the waitress, Hawaiian Shirt staggered to the fountain, crashed into a chair and stumbled into their table.
Angus stood quickly, and laid a chubby hand on the drunk's chest. In spite of Hawaiian Shirt's six-inch advantage, the stranger stumbled back.
“Hey friend,” Angus said, his broad, freckled face serious, “the bar's that way.”
“I'm not your friend. I'm a hit man. A hoodoo hit man.”
“Well, Mr. Hit Man, you need to move along.” Angus oriented him in the other direction.
The man nodded, turned, brushing past Riga. His lips pressed to her ear, his breath hot and sweet on her neck. “And you're worth a cool quarter mil.” He leaned into her, the gun hidden beneath his shirt digging into her shoulder. Something dropped to her lap.
Pen's face twisted with disgust.
“That's enough, buddy.” Yanking him away from the table, Angus shoved him gently in the opposite direction.
The hoodoo hit man lurched into the dark corridor that led to the bathrooms and the rear exit.
Riga looked down at the scrap of paper folded in her lap. Hands beneath the table, she opened it:
Neither of us is alone.
Follow me and only one of us gets hurt.
At a nearby table, a father lifted his toddler off the ground, blew into the little boy's belly. The child shrieked with laughter.
Tourists filled the restaurant, children’s feet swinging in the too-tall chairs.
Riga swallowed. There were too many targets. The waitress, bringing her a fresh Hurricane. A well-dressed couple, engrossed in their smart phones. Pen, smiling vacuously at Wolfe and oblivious to the danger. Riga clenched her hands, a wave of dizziness surging through her body.
Abruptly, Riga stood.
“Now that's an emotion,” Sam said. “That's what I want to see on your face. What have we got? Anger? Anxiety? Stress?”
“Indigestion.” Riga followed the hit man.
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