Thursday, January 10, 2013

Free short story: Midnight Jambalaya

How about a little Cajun magic? A heated taste of some Jambalaya? Here's a little free short read....if you like my style, check out my links at the end of the story to find out where you can get more!!

                                                Midnight Jambalaya

            Lauren glanced out the window with a wistful longing to be outside on the beautiful, near perfect autumn afternoon.  If she hadn’t, she would never have seen him as he strolled across from the parking lot, lithe and prowling like a panther.  Whoever he might be, he caught her eye and held it.  A tall, lean and all masculine body topped with midnight black hair wasn’t something Lauren would miss.

            “Who is that?” Elise, her co-worker asked when she caught sight of him.  “He doesn’t look like the usual visitor who comes to this place.”

             “No, he doesn’t,” Lauren answered, “But I think we’re about to find out.”

            The man entered the facility with the same cocksure swagger, as graceful in his worn out cowboy boots as a ballet dancer.  He paused in the vestibule and looked around until she wondered if he realized he’d entered a long-term nursing care facility and if he might be in the wrong place.  Before she could rise to ask him if he needed help, he sauntered into the day room and sat down at the piano. 

            Lauren followed, curious and ready to pursue her duties.  If he didn’t belong here and wasn’t visiting one of the residents, she’d ask him to leave.  As she entered the large, long room decorated to look like some approximation of home he began to play.  His rough, work worn hands danced across the keys with a light touch and she saw how familiar he was with the music.  He played what she termed honky-tonk piano, almost Jerry Lee Lewis style, a rocking, rollicking sound combining the blues with country music.  More rockabilly, she amended than country and western.

            Like the Pied Piper of story and legend, this man drew residents from every corner of the facility.  Lauren watched them come, in ones and twos, pushing walkers, riding wheelchairs and some managing a slow but steady gait with their own power.  The residents filled the day room, the elderly widows with blue tinged hair, the old men leaning on canes, and the rest.  More came than Lauren ever saw even on Pet Day when volunteers from the local animal shelter brought dogs and cats to interact with the senior citizens who called this place home.

            As the bright, bold notes of the piano rang out she watched smiles sneak onto faces usually grim and grins replace sober stoic expressions.  Lauren’s foot tapped with the rhythm of the music and an unexpected tide of joy soared within her.  For the moment she forgot about doing accounts payable, didn’t remember she should be adding up time cards, or any of the other mundane tasks.  Behind her, the telephone rang more than once but she didn’t bother to answer. 

            Someone did, maybe the charge nurses on East or West wing.  One of the LPN’s joined Lauren.

            “Who’s he?”

            She wondered the same but answered, “I don’t know yet but I’d like to know.”

            “They love this music,” the nurse said, “its fantastic.”

            After more than thirty minutes when he played, the stranger stopped.  He turned around to face the gathered crowd with a grin splitting his olive face, teeth white against his dark complexion.   One of the wheelchair bound ladies began to clap her hands, a feeble small sound at first but as others joined her it became applause.  The sound grew until it echoed in the room and the piano man bowed with a flourish.

            “Thank you,” he said, his voice sweet with the rich sound of the Deep South, his words slow and unhurried as molasses and deep as midnight darkness.  “I guess y’all liked that.  I thought if you did maybe I could come back sometimes and play for you.”

            “We’d love it if you would,” Mrs. Hargreaves said as she leaned on her walker, a new one with every possible bell and whistle. “You play so well.”

            “Well, thank you,” he said. “I’ll be back then, in a day or so.  Thank you.”

            He moved through the gathered old folks with easy grace and they parted to let him pass, a few speaking to him.  Lauren watched as he answered them, shook a few hands, nodded and laughed.  When he reached the door, he paused because she blocked it and when she smiled, his eyes locked with hers.

            Two dark pools of emotion rippled as he stared at her, his black eyes brimming with emotion.   Some strange silent communication passed between them; she felt it like electricity in the air.

            “Hi,” she said, wondering just what she could say and how to say it.

            “Hey,” he replied, that bayou sound stroking her ears with its mystery and magic. “Aren’t you a pretty thing?”

            Lauren who seldom flirted, who never quite got the knack for talking to men, who hadn’t had a date in more than a month let her smile stretch her lips out full.  Words bolted from between her lips with unexpected teasing. “Am I?”

            “You surely are,” he said as he extended a hand to her. “My name’s Anthony Benoit, back home sometimes my Mama calls me Antoine because Cajun French was her first language.  I just moved here from Louisiana, hoping to get work with my brother up here.  Mama worked at the Green Gardens Residential Center up at Alec and I used to stop by to play for the folks.  I didn’t have anything else to do today so I stopped in.  I hope it’s all right.”

            “It’s fine,” Lauren said.  His voice flowed into her ears like maple syrup, thick and delicious. “I’m Lauren Creighton.  I hope you do come back.  All our residents enjoyed it.”

            “I’m glad they did,” Anthony said, his eyes still riveted to hers.  “Could I ask you a question?”

            “Sure,” Lauren said, eager to keep the conversation flowing.  This Cajun man fascinated her and she wanted to know more about him.  

            “Since I’m new here and I don’t know many places, I wondered if you might do me the pleasure of going out to dinner with me this evening. I’d like to discover something new.”

            His request was the last thing she expected but Lauren nodded, “I’d like that, thanks.”

            “Tell me what time you get off work and I can come by to pick you up.”

            Lauren, wishing now she’d worn a better outfit, a newer blouse and maybe a bit more make-up said, “I finish at five.”

            Anthony appraised her with a glance that swept from head to toe.  “I’ll be here.”

            She thought she’d watch the clock, stare at the parking area with obsession and get nervous but he arrived just after four thirty.  Anthony drove an ancient pickup truck with Louisiana tags and with the window raised to let some of the beautiful fall air inside she heard his stereo without trying.  Lauren figured him for a country music fan and expected Hank Williams, maybe something a little newer like Alan Jackson or Dwight Yoakum but classic AC/DC blared from the truck and she liked it.

            Lauren climbed into his truck and he shot her a grin guaranteed to melt her insides into warm honey.  “Hi.”

            “Hey, cherie,Anthony said, “So where do we go?”

            “It depends on what you like or want,” Lauren said, “This is a small town but we’ve got the usual fast food line-up, Mexican, Asian, and an old-fashioned diner style restaurant.  Tell me what you want.”

            “I don’t suppose any of them serve jambalaya,” he said, serious.

            “Nope,” she replied. “I’m sorry.  If you really want some the only place you’ll find it around here is in my kitchen.”

            “Really?” He sounded intrigued. “So you cook Cajun?”

            “I can,” Lauren said.  She owned a little paperback Cajun cookbook and on weekends, when she didn’t have a date (which was often) she cooked different things.  She’d mastered beef and broccoli, Stroganoff, Coq au vin, and jambalaya so far. “It’s the only Cajun cooking I can do but yeah, I can cook it.”

            “Then let’s go to your house,” Anthony said. “We can go to market first if you need to buy all the ingredients but I can wait.”

            His boldness delighted her and evoked a response she normally wouldn’t offer anyone, least of all a man she just met.  “Sure, then let’s do it.”

            An hour later they carried bags and bags of food into her tiny little house.  Shrimp, rice, chicken breast, ham, onions, garlic, green peppers, red pepper, file (pronounced fee-lay just like in Hank Sr.’s song), and a lot more.  Anthony piled the bags onto her postage stamp size kitchen counters and put the overflow on the small dining table just outside the galley strip kitchen. 

            “Let me go change,” Lauren said, with a smile.  If anyone asked her this morning if she could cook jambalaya for a Cajun from Louisiana, she’d said ‘no way’ and meant it.  This Anthony, though, he gave her confidence and she didn’t doubt her ability now.  Lauren knew she was about to put together the best damn jambalaya she’d ever made, good enough to please his palate.

            He’d poured the wine they bought at the supermarket while she changed clothes and after a brief toast – Laissez le bon temps rouler or let the good times roll, they drank the sweet Moscato wine as she made a roux, and then chopped vegetables to brown in the copper penny hued base.  By the time her jambalaya bubbled on the stove wafting a delicious aroma through her few rooms, Lauren decided she’d fallen in love with this wild Cajun with music in his fingers.

            “Come sit down,” he said as she lowered the flame on the burner so it would simmer. “Now it needs to cook awhile.”

            Lauren settled down onto the loveseat at the opposite end but Anthony moved so they sat together.  He whispered something in Cajun French she couldn’t hear and wouldn’t have understood anyway before he kissed her, his lips hot as if he’d been eating red peppers.  His fire ignited hers and as they kissed, Lauren felt flame burst into a conflagration large enough to consume her body.  She burned with fire and fever as Anthony kissed her, his demanding lips taking her mouth like his name was imprinted there.  Within moments his hands roamed across her body, touching and caressing with amazing skill.   He loosened her bra and then removed it beneath her blouse with one swift motion, leaving her breasts bare but shirt intact.   His insistent greedy mouth abandoned her lips to kiss her breasts through fabric and Lauren couldn’t keep her nipples from growing into hard little pink blossoms. 

            “I want you,” he murmured and as he shifted position she felt his own stiff cock through his jeans.  He wasn’t lying and by then, she ached for him to consume all of her with that same heat.

            “Then take me,” she said, bold as the bright colors of a magnificent sunset.

            As the jambalaya simmered on the stove Anthony stripped her garments away with the sleight hand of a magician and shucked his own.   Bare and erect he lowered himself onto her body and entered her with a rapid thrust.  Lauren arched to meet him, back bowed and gasped with pleasure as he worked deeper.   Together they moved, strained to reach that ultimate moment and found it.  Their worlds shattered into one with a dynamic blast of delight so strong Lauren whimpered and then screamed aloud.  He laughed at her response in a way she knew meant approval.

            Additional spirals of delight trembled through her body and she could feel his passionate shudders against her flesh.  Although she surrendered her virginity long ago to an awkward, fumbling teenage boy, Lauren enjoyed a little sex on occasion.  She’d enjoyed one or two one night stands and she’d experienced dating sex with the three men she’d seen for an extended period of time, one in college, another at her first job, and the last with the grandson of the facility’s oldest resident.  Each started out with a flash but fizzled within months, the most recent within weeks.  Once shared, the excitement of sex faltered for Lauren but she felt different with Anthony. 

            The discovery she wanted more and would like to explore the possibilities with this man, her wild Cajun with his black hair and blacker eyes filled her with an excitement she hadn’t known.  This enthusiasm, this physical pleasure coupled with the faint stirrings of a romantic emotion was something she’d dreamed about.   She’d all but given up on the possibility but with this, she laughed in his arms until, enchanted with every facet of him, she let him make love to her again.

            Her wall clock chimed midnight by the time they sat down, still naked, to taste her jambalaya and it proved to be just as perfect as their loving.  They devoured the spicy stew and then took to her bed.  With a mouth tasting of the exotic spices from the Cajun dish, Anthony kissed her until he caught her up in a third round of explosive passion.   Afterward, she slept in his arms, content with her brand new man and the revelation sex could be more than a passing fancy but something to savor and enjoy again.

            This, Lauren thought as she drifted into slumber, could become a habit, Anthony and jambalaya at midnight.

            It might even become an addiction but she wasn’t complaining.
Twitter: leeannwriter
From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

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