VOODOO ON THE BAYOU
BY ELLE JAMES
“By day a frog, by night a man, ‘til de next full moon...”
At first, lawyer and ladies’ man Craig Thibodeaux thought Madame LeBieu’s chant was a strange bayou joke. But the voodoo worked and Craig is spending his days as...well, a small green frog. Now he has only two weeks to find love, or his new froggy transformation becomes permanent.
When she receives the anonymous toxic water sample from Bayou Miste, research scientist Elaine Smith decides a trip to the bayou is the perfect excuse to escape the lab, and forget about her cheating ex-fiancé. Then she accidentally stumbles upon Craig’s oh-so-fine naked form, and her science-nerd brain is overrun with naughty thoughts about her new gorgeous night-time bayou guide.
But there’s more to Bayou Miste than voodoo curses and sexy late-night trysts. Dark secrets threaten the delicate ecosystem, and there are those who would do anything to keep those secrets hidden. Even murder...
Without giving herself time to think, she threw herself overboard at the spot where she’d seen the bubbles.
Craig couldn’t die.
So what if he’d lied, so what if he represented Jason Littington, so what if she couldn’t swim? She wasn’t going to let the man she loved die.
False bravado lasted as long as it took for her head to sink below the surface, then real fear set in. Just as the terror threatened to overwhelm her, she bumped into something solid with her foot.
Reaching below, she grabbed a handful of hair and yanked him up to the surface. The push to get him up sent her down. Her feet touched the silt on the bottom, but her head stayed three feet below the surface.
Her lungs burned for air. What good was she to Craig if she drowned trying to save him? She pushed hard against the bottom of the swamp and sprang to the surface, gulped air, and glanced around for the boat. Then, she sank again, pushing Craig up at the same time she went down.
Her knee bumped hard metal. By the shape of it, she’d found one the barrels Randall and Gator had worked so hard to dump into the swamp. Desperate, she gripped the edge and pulled herself to stand on the barrel, rising above the surface to gasp for breath.
Oh, thank God.
She grabbed for Craig, tugging him toward her. Once she had his head positioned above water, she felt for a pulse. She found it, but he still wasn’t breathing. How could she push the water out of his lungs when he was still floating in the swamp? Her only solution was to wrap her arms around his middle from behind and hug with a sharp upward thrust to his diaphragm.
Craig coughed up water and spluttered. When he still didn’t start breathing, she hugged again. This time, he coughed and then inhaled as if he would suck the trees into his lungs, followed by a round of more gut-wrenching coughs.
Thank God, oh, thank God! She held him tight to keep him from going under again.
“Elaine?” he croaked after the worst coughing subsided.
“I’m here,” she said softly into his ear, squeezing tighter with her cheek against this back.
“I love it when you hug me,” he wheezed, “but could you loosen up a bit?”
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