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When it comes to the dark weavings of hoodoo magic, only a few can survive.
Jesse froze, heart pounding in the semidarkness as an arm like a steel band clamped around his chest, holding him immobile against a hard body. A warm exhale fanned his neck, sending a not unpleasant shiver through him. The man drew in a breath, nose nuzzled at his nape, and heat pooled instantly in Jesse’s gut. Shit. Had it really been that long since he’d been in someone’s arms?
The cold voice in his ear thawed with a slight laugh. “At least you don’t smell like them. That’s something.”
Jesse’s pulse leaped, and his gaze darted around the small office, searching the shadows. “Are they here?”
“No.” A hand tangled in his shirt, jerked him around to face his captor. “But I know your voice. Just who the fuck are you?”
Jesse blinked at the dark eyes raking over his face. He couldn’t see much in the faint light seeping through the closed window blinds. The man had strong features, classically handsome, with a twist of humor to the full lips that had Jesse moistening his own, though he’d have to stand on tiptoe to reach them.
The man swore under his breath and hauled Jesse toward the windows. “Can’t see a thing…”
The blinds went up, and Jesse winced as yellow streetlight flooded the room and stung his eyes. He would have laughed at the man’s yelp of surprise if disgust hadn’t immediately swept the attractive face. “Jesse Dalembert? What the bloody hell… Who sent you?” Matt held up a hand. “Wait, don’t tell me. If you’re here, it must have been Andre Marques. Where’s he keeping his skinny ass these days?”
Jesse winced as pain tore his chest, though he’d expected the question. “Dead. Ripped apart in his hotel room on Bourbon Street night before last. Animal attack, they’ve concluded. Right.”
“Shit. I’ve been out of touch these last couple days. Sorry. I know you were close.” The genuine regret in Matt’s voice eased the ache tightening Jesse’s throat. The man sighed. “Come on, let’s get out of here. Clearly, we have things to discuss.”
Jesse nodded, unable to meet the detective’s probing gaze. He wasn’t about to parade his grief for the man’s curiosity. They’d met on a shared case a few years ago, and their work brought them together now and then. But though he’d always felt a strong attraction to Matthew Rieves, he certainly didn’t want the detective’s pity. After a silent moment, Matt muttered an oath and crossed the room to the outside door. Jesse followed, senses alert to any noise in the darkness. The creatures could be swift and absolutely deadly.
A shudder passed through his slim body. He’d met a bokor’s zombie only once before, as a child. His grandmother had taken him to the cemetery late one night to witness the darker side to the powers he’d inherited. He’d watched from behind a tree, stunned, as the hoodoo witch dug up a grave. Candles flamed in a circle around her as she chanted in a low key.
The man she pulled from the coffin surprised him, but Grandmother clamped a hand over his mouth before he could make a sound. His body seemed healthy, but Jesse could sense the empty mind, waiting to be filled with the bokor’s commands. She’d pointed to a man he only then saw, tied to a tree, a symbol painted on his chest in something dark. He thought it was blood. Without a question the dead man stumbled to his victim and began to tear at his flesh with his hands. Jesse couldn’t look away, horrified by the blood and screams that tore the night apart.
Recalling that night, he instinctively grabbed Matt’s arm to stop him at the door. “Maybe I should go first.”