Special Flash Fiction Tour Post + Giveaway
Posted by What The Cat Read
Today we felines are positively thrilled to be sharing with you a special flash fiction post written by Suzanne Johnson as part of her Elysian Fields Blog Tour event hosted by Bewitching Book Tours! This is one of a few flash fiction pieces which Suzanne has graciously allowed various bloggers to share with readers and fans alike. To read the other pieces she has written, as well as to see the other blogs participating in the tour, please visit HERE! And be sure to stop back by the blog later today to read Willow’s review of Elysian Fields. =^.^=
Now please sit back, relax, and enjoy…
Playing with a Full Deck
Note: “Playing with a Full Deck” is an original short-short set in the world of the Sentinels of New Orleans series, featuring wizard DJ Jaco, her partner (and maybe more) shapeshifting enforcer Alex Warin, loup-garou enforcer Jake Warin, the undead 19th-century French pirate Jean Lafitte, Cajun merman Rene Delachaise, and a cast of many—few of them actually human.
Life for a wizard sentinel is one long string of danger and glamour. Except when it isn’t.
Take today, for example. I’d donned my rattiest pair of jeans and a sweatshirt to spend the morning lounging on the deck of a shrimp boat as it bobbed along the bank near the mouth of the Mississippi River. I was waiting for my merman friend Rene Delachaise to inspect some repairs we’d made after the River Styx leaked into the Mississippi from the Beyond. We had to check to make sure the repairs were holding.
So I waited on the deck of Rene’s shrimp boat, Dieu de la Mer, while he dove below in his half-human/half-fish mer form, checking for leaks. It might have been relaxing in the cool, bright November morning had I been alone. Sadly, a certain undead pirate had invited himself along.
“It will take Rene some time to complete his inspections, so we shall play cards,” Jean Lafitte announced, emerging from the wheelhouse and holding up a deck. “I found these inside.”
The pirate wore his usual garb of a linen tunic over black pants and boots, which gave him a rakish, handsome look—so I looked. It never hurts to look.
Things with Jean were never as simple as they appeared, however. “What kind of cards?” What would an antique pirate play? Old Maid? Go Fish?
“I suggest poker.” A hint of a smile raised the corners of his mouth. “We shall wager clothing.”
Jean Lafitte had spent far too much time in the modern world. If he thought I was playing strip poker, he could go and drink a gallon of contaminated river water. Besides, I was a damn fine poker player, but even when I won, Rene would tease me forever if he returned to the boat to find a naked pirate.
“In your dreams,” I told him. “How about blackjack?”
“Very well, that is an old French game from my youth.” He sat on the deck facing me and shuffled the cards. Game on.
We played a couple of hands, each winning one. “We must make our competition more interesting,” Jean said. “I will bet fifty dollars that I can win three games of five.”
“I don’t have that much cash on me, not having laundered any antique pieces of gold recently.” I said, arching my eyebrows as I dug in my backpack for my wallet.
“Sorry, I only have a twenty. Want to bet that?”
“Your credit with me is good, Jolie. We shall remain at fifty.”
I won the first two hands, and he won the next two. Finally, I drew a jack and two fives to his king and nine. I smiled triumphantly and held out my hand. “Pay up, loser.”
He smiled, pulled a pouch from around his neck, and peeled off an antique bank note.
I looked at it a moment, then shoved it back at him. “Nice try. Modern currency only.”
He grinned and pulled a fifty from his wad of bills. No point in feeling bashful about taking his money; he was loaded. I stuck it in my wallet, tucked behind my driver’s license.
“Let us have another wager,” Jean said, watching as I walked to the other side of the boat to look for any signs of Rene. Nothing yet.
I sighed and returned. “So, you want a chance to win your money back? Another best of five?”
“No, Drusilla. We should alter our wager. If I win three of five games, we shall dine together.”
Uh-oh. I’d heard this song and dance before. “Define dine.”
“What you modern people call a date, Jolie. A dinner date, as we had before.”
“I’m not going back to the Beyond for dinner.” The first time we’d tried that, I’d been brain-drained by an elf.
“You may choose the location.” He gave me the slow smile that never failed to turn me into mush. I needed a psychiatrist.
I thought for a moment. “Okay. And if I win, you must make peace with Alex.” Jean and my former partner had a bit of a personality conflict.
“Bah.” Jean’s word was filled with disgust, but his eyes twinkled a deep, rich blue. The man loved to barter. “This gives me much incentive to win. Very well.”
The first two hands went my way, and I relaxed, trying to imagine Alex and Jean peacefully coexisting….Until he won the next three hands and sat back with a satisfied smirk. “You shall have dinner with me, Jolie. Perhaps I might make you forget your shapeshifting hound.”
Fine. It was only dinner, for crying out loud. We could walk across the street from my house to Marinello’s Pizza, which meant my shapeshifting hound Alex would be nearby.
A splash from the front of the boat diverted my attention, and I got up and walked to the rail. Rene bobbed in the water. “All but one checked, babe, and they’re holding up good. Give me two more minutes.”
“Okay, we’ll—” I’d been planning to invite him to dinner with the pirate and me, but he splashed me with a big flip of his caudal fin and dove quickly, leaving me with a mouth full of river water.
I walked into the wheelhouse in search of a towel, only to find Jean already stretched out on the bench that spanned the back of the small navigation area, his eyes closed.
An old rag that looked relatively clean lay on the console, and I picked it up to wipe my face, scattering the deck of cards we’d been using across the wheelhouse floor. I squatted to pick them up. The deck was old, with dog-earned corners and a simple red, black, and white plaid pattern. As I gathered them, I noticed a small black ‘x’ on the edge of one, and a series of dots on the others. I closed my eyes and ground my teeth. Marked cards, dammit.
“You cheated.” I rounded on Jean and lobbed a handful of cards at his head, short-range.
Eyes still closed, he smiled as the cards cascaded over his face and neck, and knocked one aside that landed on his forehead. “Oui. We did not specify that cheating was not allowed.” He opened his eyes halfway. “Therefore our bet remains valid. We will still have our dinner date. Perhaps Friday night, Jolie.”
Copyright 2013 Suzanne Johnson. May not be reprinted or shared without written permission of the author.
About the Author:
Four years later, she began weaving her experiences and love for her city into the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series, beginning with Royal Street (2012), continuing with River Road (2012), and now with Elysian Fields (August 2013).
She grew up in rural Alabama, halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis’ birthplace, and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years—which means she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.
She can be found online at her website or her daily blog, Preternatura. As Susannah Sandlin, she writes the best-selling Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series and the recent standalone, Storm Force.
As part of the Elysian Fields Blog Tour, Suzanne is giving away 1 – iPad 2 (open internationally) and 5 – $20 gift cards to winners’ online retailer of choice (open internationally). To be entered, simply follow the Rafflecopter link below and fill out the form! Good luck to all who enter. =^.^=