The Secret of Cypriere Bayou. Jana DeLeon

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The Secret of Cypriere Bayou - Jana DeLeon

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      “You’re safe now,” John said. “I’m so sorry.”

      “The light went out. I heard someone in the tunnel above me. He was there, John.”

      John shook his head. “You are one tough cookie.”

      Olivia dropped her gaze to John’s chest. “I was on the verge of a heart attack. I’m not tough.”

      John put one finger under her chin and lifted her face, looking her straight in the eye. “You were confronted with your worst fear in a house that’s been in your nightmares for as long as you can remember, and you were still collected enough to find your way down the tunnel to the exit. You’re incredible, Olivia.”

      He stared at her for a moment, the indecision on his face clear as day, and that’s when Olivia realized he was going to kiss her. Her heart leaped into her throat as he lowered his lips to hers, kissing her softly, his lips barely brushing her own. The kiss deepened, and her skin, previously cold from fear, began to tingle and warm with desire.

      Suddenly, he broke away and took a step back. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…”

      If she was a betting woman, she’d bet anything that John was more afraid of that one little kiss than she’d been locked in that tunnel.

      Jana DeLeon

      The Secret of Cypriere Bayou


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      To my critique partners, Cari Manderscheid and Cindy Taylor, for your constant cheerleading and support on every new venture I take with my writing career. To my friend Colleen Gleason, who always pushes me to action when I’m on the fence.

      To my friend Tracey Stanley, who tells everyone who will listen about my books. To my daily chat buddy, Leslie Langtry, for always reminding me that we can’t take ourselves too seriously. To my parents, Jimmie and Bobbie Morris, for never doubting I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. To Jimmie, Donna and Katianne Morris, for your continued support in an unpredictable career path. To my agent, Kristin Nelson, for venturing into unknown territory and creating my relationship with Harlequin.

      To my editor, Allison Lyons, for your patience with me in learning the ropes and your enthusiasm for the work itself. It’s always a pleasure to work with people who truly love their product. And to my cousin, Cathy Jane, who no longer has an excuse for not reading one of my books, as this one is short.


      Jana DeLeon grew up among the bayous and small towns of southwest Louisiana. She’s never actually found a dead body or seen a ghost, but she’s still hoping. Jana started writing in 2001 and focuses on murderous plots set deep in the Louisiana bayous. By day, she writes very boring technical manuals for a software company in Dallas. Visit Jana at her website:


      Olivia Markham—She makes her living by renting haunted houses and writing about them, but when she rents laMalediction, she realizes it’s the house from her dreams. She’s determined to figure out her connection, but someone is just as determined to ensure she doesn’t.

      John Landry—The New Orleans cop is on the hunt for his missing stepsister, and is desperate to find her before she becomes another statistic. He’s posing as a caretaker at laMalediction, his stepsister’s last known destination, but he can’t conduct an investigation with Olivia Markham looking over his shoulder.

      Russ Wheeler—The attorney for the Borque estate should have informed Olivia that he’d hired a new caretaker, but failed to mention it. Given the deterioration of the house and grounds, it looks like one was needed long before now.

      Sheriff Blanchard—It was clear to Olivia that the small-town sheriff didn’t appreciate her appearance in his town, and especially at laMalediction, but was he a superstitious fool or was he hiding something far more earthly?

      Tom Breaux—The café owner gave Olivia directions to laMalediction despite the obvious disapproval of the sheriff, but didn’t seem happy to learn that not only had she located the house, she intended to stay.

      Aubrey Murphy—The old caretaker supposedly took leave due to a family emergency, but none of his family seems to know what the emergency is or where Aubrey is now.


      Chapter One

      Chapter Two

      Chapter Three

      Chapter Four

      Chapter Five

      Chapter Six

      Chapter Seven

      Chapter Eight

      Chapter Nine

      Chapter Ten

      Chapter Eleven

      Chapter Twelve

      Chapter Thirteen

      Chapter Fourteen

      Chapter Fifteen

      Chapter Sixteen

      Chapter Seventeen

      Chapter One

      The sky rolled with a mass of gray clouds, and the air became thick with humidity. Olivia Markham glanced anxiously at the swirling sky as she pulled into Cypriere, Louisiana, all five weather-beaten buildings of it. Peering down each side of the street, she searched for signs of life. It would be the first she’d seen in well over two hours of driving deep into the bayous.

      A wooden sign swung under the awning of an old brick building to her left. The painted lettering on the sign had long since faded, but Olivia could barely make out the word “café.” Surely someone inside would be able to give her directions. She pulled into an open parking space right in front of the café and hurried inside. Bells on the door jangled as she crossed the threshold and the eight or so patrons stopped what they were doing to stare at her.

      She paused for a moment, but when any form of greeting wasn’t forthcoming she launched into her own. “Hello,” she said. “Apparently, I’m a little lost. Can anyone give me directions to laMalediction?”

      The patrons dropped their gazes back to their tables without saying a word. A middle-aged waitress sloshed coffee on her hand and although the hot liquid must have burned, the waitress froze, looking over at a man sitting at the counter.

      A man with salt-and-pepper hair and a gold bar pinned on his shirt identifying him as Sheriff Blanchard turned to face her. “Ain’t no one lived at laMalediction for over thirty years. What business you have out there?”

      No business of yours. Olivia felt her back tighten with aggravation, in no mood to deal with another round of small-town mentality. “I’ve leased the house for the winter.”

      “What in the world would you do that for?

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