Saving The Book Tart – Excerpt from The Crossroads by Annie Rose Welch + Contest!
We get a double decker treat here at The Book Tart for my Saving The Book Tart event! Annie Rose Welch shared a special character interview yesterday with guys from her Saving Angels series and today she’s back with an excerpt from The Crossroads! I am on pins and needles waiting for August 28th when this book releases. I have fallen hard for the writing style of Annie and I NEED this book!
I came here because I can hear a woman calling my name. I believe it’s the city, this place, this New Orleans. Do you believe such a place can call you home? Do you believe such places can be alive with a heartbeat, a voice, a pulse even? Well, I’m here to tell you, whether you believe or not, New Orleans is one of them.
She’s a woman of her own accord, a woman of immense physical and emotional power. The kind of woman who causes you to sweat, breathe heavy, hunger and long for her embrace. The kind of lady who makes you lose your mind and then find it in the same day. The sort of woman who has you promising everything you could possibly give in return for her promise to be yours only. The kind of woman who dances in the rain, laughs with all she has, and with the roll of her tongue has you falling helplessly in love.
She serenades you, pulls you by the hand and teaches you how to dance. She has you pouring your heart out in a gorgeously lyrical way, the kind that makes you want to write songs and then put her in them—just so you could capture a taste of what she has to offer—just to let the world know for a moment she was yours and she claimed you this way.
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She makes a toy out of a grown man’s heart, and passing men admire you, because she brings a high sense of regard to your class. With her on your arm, you are respected, because keeping her satisfied takes skill and undeniable mojo. She’s beautiful, haunting, and has a chilling but warm voice. And she whispers to me, day in, day out, not even in the dreams that I don’t have. I hear her. She whispers such things as these:
“Gabriel, come to me. I’ve been waiting a long time for you. Sit down, dawlin’, take a load off, stay a while. Are you hungry? What would you like? A bowl of gumbo? A plate of jambalaya? A Po-boy, or how about red beans and rice? You know today is Monday, washday. Or how about a little music? Pete Fountain’s on the menu today. A little “Tin Roof Blues” never hurt nobody. You tell me what you want, na’.”
She always wants to feed me, nourish me, this place, this New Orleans.
“I know you have your cares and worries, but they belong to me now, dawlin’. And don’t you worry about the heat na’, ya’ hear? I’m just warming you up. I’m starting a fire in your life that you may never be able to contain. Yes indeed, I’m just getting started.” She howls with laughter. “Padnah’, do I have a surprise in store for you.
“You like stories, baby? Everybody loves a damn good story. I know I do. And everybody has one, whether they like it or not. So, how about you tell me a little about you, and then I’ll tell you a little about me. And we’ll come to some sort of neutral ground. I gave you a dream, my dear boy. The only one you’ve ever had. I am here to bring magic into your life. I am here to read to you the story of love, show you the simple glory of love…”
Her magnetism draws me in a little closer. She puckers those luscious lips and bats those dark, thick lashes at me, and I’m a man without a will.
No, New Orleans isn’t just a place. New Orleans has the power to be the blood in your veins. And if she is, she always calls for you. Yes she does. She always comes a-callin’.
Now I’m here. I’m here in her place. I’m a part of something stewing in her gumbo pot. I’m one of many elements, but one that adds flavor to her deliciousness all the same. But there’s something lurking this evening, her demeanor has changed. She’s silent, which is a first.
There’s calm before the storm, or so everyone around here says. The day is bright blue. The clouds are luminous white and the wind is warm, soft, and gentle as it moves. People are casually walking, holding hands, kissing, yelling, eating, and doing all of the normal things people usually do. Today is the sort of day you’d take to the river. You’d lie down in the warm grass, cold drink in one hand, toasty sandwich in the other, just to watch the ships pass by, to hear the clarinet or trumpet in the distance. And afterward, you would lie back on the sunny grass while the muggy heat carries you away to a fine blues tune.
If only today was a normal day. But it cannot be a normal day. I feel something different in the air. The calm everyone talks about is only temporary. The tempest will be here shortly to take her share.
I feel it. I feel it. I feel it.
I sit and watch as the humid breeze gently pushes leaves and debris, as it sweeps past souls walking by. But if you look close enough, it’s eerie. The wind. It tells a tale, a premonition of what is to come. The way it sweeps in and out of the trees, a sharp warning moving like a transparent ghost in the night. It’s gray and bleak and it holds secret warnings within its thin phantom voice.
The clock on the wall refuses to move forward. It’s broken, and only in this do I find some sort of comfort.
And suddenly, everything turns black. Rain pours, debris flies, the wind howls. The water, oh the water, drowns. The knocking and crashing seems never-ending. The pressure continues to build and build, like stacking wooden blocks until you know they are about to come tumbling down in rage.
This city, this place, this New Orleans, boy, is she furious. She’s fighting back, putting up the bravest of fronts. This woman of mine, she’s brawling her way through the blood and the muck. She’s protecting her children. But still, it might not be enough. What is enough? I only wish I knew. But I’m here fighting for her. I’m here fighting with her. A woman like her, she’s worth dying for.
There is fear, an unspoken truth that everyone is afraid—afraid of what? Losing lives to this storm. Everyone is panicking. The lights are flickering. Is the power about to go dead? I’ll have to tell you later. And we are caught in this fury with no way out. We are trapped fifteen stories high with doors closed and windows sealed shut.
They say we’ll be here for four days or so. Four days. What good can come of this? Tell me, if you can, what good can come of this storm everyone here calls Evangeline?
How do you get there, darlin’? Well, na’, you start by taking Brighten Place. Follow that road all the way down to Marigny Street. After you travel a little distance you’ll come to an old Red Dirt Road, and that road will take you even further, to Lotus Blossom Lane, but you’ve already been that way. Na’ you’re exactly where you should be, darlin’. You’ve arrived at The Crossroads of your life.
Gabriel Roberts is the most famous movie star in the world. He has everything one man could ever want. He has everything except the one thing he feels will fulfill his purpose and complete his life.
Raphael Rose is dying of pneumonia. As he waits on the waning clock of mortality to chime, he has a story to share. One of star-crossed lovers he has never lost hope for.
Two doors down, Madam Catalina has her own story – a shocking past, a love of a lifetime left undone.
Locked behind the doors of Charity Hospital during Hurricane Evangeline, the tangling of souls has unraveled and left each of them at the crossroads of their life. And in the end, whichever road they choose will lead them home.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Annie has a habit of shortening her words and telling long stories. She speaks with a southern flair and cooks with it too. At the tender age of twenty- one, she hitched up her wagons (took her first plane ride) and moved out west to the big shake (California). Her writing career began one sleepless night when she imagined a gorgeous woman and a man with maniacal hair floating above her like lightening bugs falling from the sky. Curious about them, their story, and why they were floating around in her head, she sat down and penned (typed) her first novel, Marigny Street. A dream come true for her, she hasn’t stopped writing since. She loves a damn good love story, always has, no matter what the genre. She is particularly moved by imperfect love that in its own unique way is perfect, the notion of love at first sight, soul mates, and things that are generally out of the norm. When she’s not writing she enjoys dabbling in photography and finding new, inspirational music to add to her collection. She currently (still) resides in the big shake (although her southern roots are calling her home) with her husband, daughter, and their two peculiar dogs, Boudreaux and Tabasco (who, call her crazy, bark with an accent). For lagniappe (a little extra), a virtual cup of café au lait and beignets, please visit Annie’s website: www.annierosewelch.com
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Save The Book Tart Moving Madness
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Click HERE for DAY 1s guest author Tracey Sinclair!