It’s that time again. New book, new cover. Yay!
Wicked Bleu, the second book of the Simone Doucet Series, will be released soon, October 2022. But until then, here’s a sliver of the cover.
A 103-year-old murder mystery.
An amateur ghost sleuth.
Can a wrong be rectified in death?
Eight months ago, Simone experienced her first spectral encounter. It awakened a dormant second sight and opened a chasm to the afterlife. Now, another spirit from 1917 New Orleans has wandered through that passage, haunting her with an intoxicating jasmine fragrance and wicked antics.
To escape this mysterious ghost, Simone jumps at a seven-day complimentary Mardi Gras hotel package, unaware there might be an ancestral power behind her decision, an identity she grapples with. Is the ghost’s name Bleu?
She’s a lady of the night who lived a dangerous life in the infamous Storyville. A place lined with mansion-like brothels on the edge of the French Quarter run by unscrupulous madams and frequented by dangerous criminals. WWI is on the horizon, jazz music is burgeoning, and Bleu’s life unravels.
Visions of her past and horrific death beset Simone as she explores present-day New Orleans with her three roommates.
But why are the images fragmented? Has Bleu forgotten what happened the stormy night she died? Can Simone uncover Bleu’s murderer and reunite her with her loved ones before it’s too late?
“I’m here. Can’t you hear me?”
Your bright light woke me from watery depths where I’ve slept in dreams for one-hundred-and-three years. Decayed, bones interred in river sludge, my withered lungs eroded. I’m the embodiment of water itself—slithering like a phantom eel, disjointed from my perished corpse at the river basin. I wish to live again and be free of my aquatic confinement, but an impenetrable force keeps me imprisoned.
My beloved city pulses with the rhythm of a new time. At night, when Vieux Carrie’s lights shimmer atop glassy ripples and steamboat horns and calliopes whistle to boarding passengers, I long for legs like a wishful mermaid. But I’ll never board a ship or disembark on foreign lands again. The past has forgotten me. Tossed like garbage into the water, no one missed or cared to search for me, not even pitit mwen dous, my sweet girl, whom I’d forsaken many times. I’m no longer a threat or embarrassment but lost to everyone—a ghost.
In death, can I set a wrong right?
Simone? Is that your name? Your luminous essence pierced oblivion, a beacon guiding me from a place of repetitious dreams to your world. For days, I’ve sought your attention. Can you see me standing in your shadow? Where you go, I follow, catching mirror glimpses of my ethereal form, my face, thick dark curls that cascade to my breast, the olive of my skin, and the blood-stained satin dress last worn. Since that horrific night, escaping from his treacherous arms into the storm, no breath has flowed through me. Everything I love is lost.
Your light gives me hope, another chance to set matters right before returning to that ultimate sleep. Fear, not my wiles. I may wander into your warm flesh, alive again, to roam beneath wrought-iron terraces, strut to the beat of sultry jazz in my beloved city once more. For a century, I’ve waited for someone to hear my story.
Can’t you see the distance I’ve traveled?
In life, I posed for artists; my face, hands, and legs captured in many paintings. I’ve mingled with men of many industries, even powerful legislators of high courts. Sat with fine ladies in elegant gowns and jewels at Bourbon/Toulouse French Opera House. Indulged admiring eyes at Mardi Gras balls. I feasted on Creole fare in extravagant and seedy dives. Drank intoxicating green fairies with paramours. Buddy Bolden, Jelly Roll Morton, and Pops Foster’s cornet, piano, and string bass accompanied our sensual private dance. I’ve strayed perilous alleyways, wandered polluted opium dens, succumbing to a particular obsession.
I’m no angel.
No one can claim such virtue in Crescent City. But on Sundays, when Saint Louis Cathedral’s bells tolled, I kneeled alongside those who claimed righteousness and scathing critics who sneered at me on Basin Street.
I linger not for pleasure nor malice but for those who believed I’d abandoned them. There’s something urgent I must confess, but death sealed memories I cannot summon. My chéri must know the truth, my last sinister hour. No matter how hard I try, I can’t break through the rain and thunder, ever running, arriving at chiming bells, then darkness. If I could only reach that door. I’m so close.
Simone, san fanmi mwen, blood of my kin, can’t you hear the thunderclap, the splash, the bells? I know you do, but it’s not enough. Let me in, or I shall torment day and night with sounds of my untimely death, lure with divine jasmines, and haunt with my wicked ways.
“I’m close. See me!”
“I call. Hear me!”
“I’m here! Feel me!”
Until next time, happy reading everyone!