Wrong Place, Right Time (The Bourbon Street Boys #2)

Wrong Place, Right Time (The Bourbon Street Boys #2)

Elle Casey


I close my eyes and inhale deeply after shutting the front door to my house. The sounds of my two girls talking a mile a minute and my son shouting in happiness come through the oak that separates the inside of the house from the front porch, as they go down the steps and head out to their father’s waiting vehicle.

Hallelujah . . . Miles, my ex, finally followed through on his promise to pick up our children and have them for the weekend, and I plan on taking full advantage of this little mini-vacation. Just one more deep breath in and out, and I’ll finally be able to relax; I will be able to temporarily forget the fact that his parting comment—whispered to me so the kids wouldn’t hear—was that he’d be bringing them back early Sunday, because he has a baseball game to go to.

God forbid he bring his children to one of these events he likes to treat himself to. Bastard. He gets baseball games and nightclubs, dinners out with grown-ups and sex. I get hours and hours of Animal Planet—the one television channel all three of my children can agree is awesome—and the occasional superhero comic. I try not to be bitter about the fact that he has a life and I don’t, but I’m not very successful.

My phone buzzes in my pocket. I ignore it, taking another deep breath in and letting it out slowly. I will not let the world intrude on my solitude, on my hard-won peace and quiet. I will finally get some of that me-time I keep reading about on all those mommy blogs.

My phone buzzes again.

Me-time! Me-time! Me-time! I want some of that me-time, dammit! I think I know how the Incredible Hulk feels in the moments before he busts out of his pants. A person can only take so much. My jeans are already feeling a little tighter.

I’m afraid that one of these days, I’m going to Hulk-out. I’m going to puff up with rage, turn green, and rip all my clothes off . . . and then I’m going to run around the house raging like a rabid beast, breaking glasses and plates, ripping down curtains, and punching holes in the walls. I smile at the carnage I’m picturing in my mind. God, that would be so, so satisfying. The only reason I don’t indulge in the fantasy is because I’d be the only one around to clean everything up when I was done going all beast-mode on my house, and I already have enough on my plate.

Someone is texting me, and I can guess who it probably is without even looking at the screen. There are two likely candidates: my boss and my sister. If it’s my boss, he can forget whatever it is he’s bothering me about; I’ve already worked enough overtime this week to last me a month. And if it’s my sister, well, she can wait too. I need some wine before I talk to her. Lately most of her conversations involve stories that make my hair turn gray, and I’m only thirty-two. I really don’t need any more gray hair than I already have.

My sister started this new job a couple of months ago, and while it makes her really happy, it makes me kind of crazy. I thought she had a pretty good life before, so I didn’t see the need for the big change. I still don’t, actually. After she graduated from college, she moved back down south to be near me and the kids, and started up a business right away as a wedding photographer. She was single and childless, and had the perfect life, or so it seemed to me.

She’s super talented, and even though the economy took a dive and she said it really affected her business, she was still making it. Still living the single life in her own place, making schedules that weren’t dictated by anyone else, taking baths without worrying about what might be happening downstairs.

When I take a bath while my kids are home, it’s more panic-inducing than relaxing. All I can think about is what might be happening on the other side of the door, like my kids accidentally drinking poison, my son ripping doll heads off, my daughters terrorizing their pet gerbil by dressing it in Barbie clothes. Oy.

Yep, my sister May had it all; and then, for some crazy reason she has yet to explain to my satisfaction, she decided it wasn’t enough. She went off the range. She met this guy, Ozzie, some former military grunt, shut her business down, joined his security firm, and started acting all commando. She actually has biceps now and says things like “eyes-on” and “charlie foxtrot” and God knows what else. Whenever she starts with that nonsense, I just tune it out.

Anyway, I don’t know why she needed such a drastic change, but apparently, according to her, she did. Under the surface, she’s the same May I grew up with, but that’s where the girl I knew ends. Outwardly, she’s more confident. She seems more . . . grown-up. But at the same time, she’s younger too. She walks with a spring in her step. She’s always smiling. She’s sillier than ever, and she claims to be in love with a guy she hardly knows.

Ugh. Sometimes I want to slap her and wake her up to what’s really going on. Chemicals. Lust. It’s powerful stuff, I get it, but I mean, come on . . . I live in the real world, where you can fall in love with a guy over a period of years, build a life with him, and still have him walk out on you. Love at first sight? Nope. Doesn’t happen. It’s not real. It’s an illusion cooked up by too many misguided chick flicks and not enough real-world pain.

It’s not that I’m jealous or don’t want my sister to be happy; I’m just worried about the day she’ll come crashing down to reality and realize she’s been living in a fantasy world of her own creation, because I’m not sure either of us is prepared for that kind of devastation.

She is happy, though—for now, anyway. So I’m not saying anything negative to her about this love affair of hers. I’m not going to be the big jerk who’s trying to ruin everything. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from worrying. Not only is she risking her heart in this whole deal, she’s also risking her life with this new job. And guess who’ll be the one picking up the pieces when it all falls apart? Yeah. That’ll be me.

She’s working with the security company her boyfriend owns as their surveillance expert—not that she had any kind of experience whatsoever prior to being hired—and now she photographs bad guys for a living. My sweet little sister, a former straight-A student who still wears her hair in a headband and espadrilles on her feet, is hanging out in the very worst neighborhoods of New Orleans, dodging bullets. As if I needed that kind of stress in my life.

I take another deep breath in and out, trying to calm my blood pressure. Relax, Jenny. This is just another day to get through without Hulking-out on someone. You can do this.

I turn around and shuffle in my ratty slippers down the hall and around the corner to the kitchen. From the fridge I pull a half bottle of Chardonnay and pour myself a generous glass. It’s only four o’clock, but one time zone away it’s five, so I’m getting started. Who cares that these are calories I most definitely do not need? It’s not like I’m going to be out dating anytime soon. Dating requires free time, and I have precious little of that.

My phone buzzes again. I swig my wine like it’s an ice-cold beer and remove my phone from my pocket as I wince. Damn, that wine is going down hard. Probably shouldn’t have Big-Gulped it. I let out a little burp as I take a look at my screen. There are four texts waiting for me.

May: I need to talk to u. Call me.

May: Are u there? Are the kids gone yet? Are u drinking wine yet?

May: Don’t get tipsy! I need to talk to u.

May: Are u avoiding me? I know u can hear my texts. Ur phone’s either beeping or buzzing, bitch. Don’t play.

I shake my head and take another sip of my wine, this portion a little smaller than the one before. I’m totally Zen all of sudden.

It’s this weird thing that happens between my sister and me; when she’s in panic mode, it instantly chills me out. Because I’m her big sister, my automatic response to her being in crisis is to woman-up, to be protective, to take care of things, and to make sure the entire world isn’t going to fall apart right along with her. I crumble to pieces after, when the danger has passed, where no one can see me.

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