Maryse Robicheaux LeJeune stepped out of the shower, dried off, and pulled on her robe before stepping into the bedroom. Her husband, Luc, had left for work ten minutes before, a lingering look of worry on his face as he’d walked out the front door. Maryse knew whatever case he was assigned had him rattled more than usual, but all her attempts to broach the subject had been met with stonewalling on his end. The only thing she’d gleaned from him was a fear for her safety.
Keep all the doors and windows locked and when you leave the house, take your gun. When driving, make sure you check your rearview mirror to ensure no one is following you. Do not go into the swamp for any reason. If you have a world-ending emergency there, let me know and I will make plans to take you out myself.
Being a DEA agent, Luc was always cautious, but the past week, he’d really gone to a different place. And despite the fact that she tried not to dwell on whatever dangers Luc faced every day doing his job, Maryse was jittery and on edge. The hot shower had momentarily helped, then she’d stepped out of it to hear a repeat of Luc’s admonitions before he left for work, and she’d launched right back into a case of nerves.
As she passed the bedroom doorway, she saw a shadow move in the living room. Instantly, she froze, her heart pounding in her chest. What if the bad guy Luc was worried about had been watching the house? What if he’d waited for Luc to drive away so that he could kill her or kidnap her or even worse? A couple seconds later, her cat, Jasper, scrambled into the bedroom and slid under the bed.
Maryse inched over to the nightstand and pulled out the loaded nine millimeter with suppressor that was always there. Gripping the gun tightly, she crept out of the bedroom and down the hallway, struggling to keep from hyperventilating. With every step, she said a silent prayer that all the training Luc had given her with the pistol paid off.
When she got to the edge of the hallway, she heard rustling on the other side of the wall. Before she could change her mind, she jumped around the corner, gun leveled.
The man in the black mask stood at the far end of the dining room near the kitchen counter. Maryse screamed and fired off five rounds in succession. Her aim was dead-on, but the bullets passed right through the man and struck the hutch behind him, glass exploding with every shot. A second later, the man started screaming, and Maryse knew it wasn’t a man at all.
“Damn it, Helena!” Maryse yelled, not sure whether to stop shooting or go back to her bedroom for more ammo. “What are you doing in my house?”
“Why are you shooting at me?” Helena wailed. “You know I hate that.”
“Because you look like a burglar. Why are you dressed all in black?”
“No one else can see me, so I figured why not?”
“I can see you and I thought you were here to kill me.”
Helena waved a hand and the black mask vanished. She glanced back at the mangled hutch, then gave Maryse a sheepish look. “I guess I didn’t think about you seeing the outfit and not knowing it was me. Sorry.”
“Sorry? Sorry! You have two seconds to get out of my house or I start firing again.”
“This was just a misunderstanding,” Helena said.
“Oh shit.” Helena darted through the wall.
Maryse ran out the front door, waving the pistol, and chased her down the street all the way to the woods a good two blocks away.
Maryse skidded to a stop at the tree line and stared into the foliage, deliberating taking a parting shot at the ghost, but finally decided it would be a waste of a perfectly good round. Frustrated at the mess of glass she was about to have to address, not to mention the probable need to purchase a new hutch, she dropped her arm to her side and headed back up the street to her house.
She hadn’t made it half a block when Sheriff Colt Bertrand walked out Big Freddie Pinchot’s front door and stopped dead in his tracks, staring at her.
Crap. I’m wearing a robe and holding a gun. I’m going to get a psych hold.
And that’s when Maryse decided that Colt might just be the most intelligent person in Mudbug. Without so much as the lift of an eyebrow, he dug his truck keys out of his pocket, jumped into his vehicle, and drove away without even a backward glance.