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A Cemetery, a Cannibal, and the Day of the Dead
 

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A Cemetery, a Cannibal, and the Day of the Dead


  A Cemetery, a Cannibal, and the Day of the Dead

  Deanna Oscar Paranormal Mystery Book 5

  By CC Dragon

  The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

  Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  A Cemetery, a Cannibal, and the Day of the Dead

  (Deanna Oscar Paranormal Mystery 5)

  Copyright © October 2017

  By CC Dragon

  Cover art by Viola Estrella

  Edited by Mary Yakovets

  Proofed by: Angela Campbell

  All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

  Table of Contents

  Dedication

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Epilogue

  A Personal Note from Ivy

  About the Author

  Blurb

  Deanna has seen a lot of wild paranormal and supernatural things in New Orleans. But grave robbers? Dead bodies exposed and pieces removed... Who would do that?

  Could it be cannibals? Are these hate crimes? Mentally ill criminals? Or is it an elaborate hoax staged by Walking Dead fans?

  The Day of the Dead and Halloween are a big deal in the Big Easy. Ghost and cemetery tours mean major business from tons of tourists. This desecration of old graves has to stop.

  When the monsters turn out to be real and the dead are being disrespected, the supernatural balance is thrown into chaos. It’s up to Deanna and friends to lock down the paranormal crazy before the veil between the living and the dead is destroyed.

  Dedication

  To all those who celebrate (Halloween and or Día de los Muertos)...enjoy but respect the dead. You don’t want them pissed off!

  Chapter One

  Halloween was coming.

  I shuffled like a Walking Dead extra into the kitchen and poured myself a mega cup of coffee. It was hard to sleep with my guard up. You’d think it was all due to the Halloween season but that wasn’t the problem. The candy-filled holiday happened every year.

  All the cute and colorful sugar skulls can’t make death pretty. The Day of the Dead celebrations were getting bigger every year. The whimsical approach some decorations took seemed a bit disrespectful and might piss off the dearly departed but it wasn’t part of my background, so I tried to just enjoy the different color schemes.

  Día de los Muertos wasn’t my problem either.

  Demons, however, were my problem and since my dust-up with the evil Lester, I’d become a magnet for the stealthy dark creatures. That led to my old New Orleans mansion being protected and re-protected daily to keep the demons at bay. Greg, an old friend of mine, was mainly in charge of that.

  Sleep was hard. Even with angels camped out in my guest room, I was still getting major headaches and sick to my stomach if I let my guard down.

  Sipping the hazelnut coffee, I wanted to crawl back in bed. Caffeine was no substitute for rest.

  Gunnar walked into the kitchen in a tight pair of jeans and nothing else. The handsome and young former stripper really needed to remember he had roommates. Letting my friends stay at the mansion helped me. It kept me from being alone with the crazy.

  “What is in the attic? I swear I keep hearing thumping noises,” Gunnar said.

  “Lost souls. Ghosts who are dangerous or negative who refused to cross over,” I replied.

  “They seem pissed,” he replied.

  I nodded. I’d noticed their increased agitation. It hadn’t trickled down to the haunted objects that I kept in the storage area under the stairs, thankfully.

  Greg walked in and gently squeezed the spray bottle that was often in his hand. He had a habit of blessing the rooms of the house morning and evening. When you lived in a mansion that was haunted by every kind of ghost you could think of and that demons liked to visit whenever they got a chance, that kind of ritual wasn’t even a blip on your radar. Holy water felt good. The droplets misting my skin meant I wasn’t possessed. If it ever burned, I was in trouble.

  Luckily, Greg was an ex-priest and had done more than his share of exorcisms.

  “Did Ivy come home?” Greg asked.

  Greg was a bit protective of all the people in his life. Especially his cousin, Ivy, the drag queen. She ran the drag club I’d bought right after Hurricane Katrina hit. That was a big job. When she was only reachable by text, it usually meant a guy was involved.

  “Have you met the newest guy?” Greg asked.

  “No. You?” I asked him.

  He shook his head. “Breakfast?”

  “Coffee.” I took another big drink.

  “I’ll make eggs,” Gunnar offered.

  “I’m not hungry,” I said.

  “You need to eat.” Gunnar went to work pulling breakfast ingredients from the refrigerator.

  “Why can’t I figure out where it’s all coming from? Normally I can zero in on the evil,” I said.

  There was no murderer loose. Paranormal crap ran rampant around the Big Easy but it was no more than normal. The Garden District was as tranquil as ever. However, I felt demons hiding around every large old tree or in the hidden garden paths that wound around full of lush flora.

  “You’re more sensitive to evil than you used to be. You couldn’t see angels before, now you can. Now you read the demons easier too. You do well blocking them when awake. It’ll get easier,” Greg said.

  He’d been saying that for months.

  “It feels like it’s getting bigger,” I argued.

  Greg grabbed a couple Greek yogurts from the fridge and put one along with a spoon in front of me. “All these natural disasters don’t help.”

  I peeled the top off the yogurt and mixed it up as Gunnar whipped eggs.

  “Natural disasters are just nature, right? I mean, it’s not good or evil,” Gunnar pondered out loud.

  I snickered as I put the spoonful of yogurt in my mouth.

  “God made it all. Science and nature. Don’t discount the powers of evil.” Greg made another pot of coffee.

  “The devil sent all these hurricanes?” Gunnar scoffed.

  “Demons are fallen angels. Angels have power so the bad ones have some sort of juice as well. I know it’s confusing but it’s a battle. I just don’t know if my brain will survive the four horsemen,” I joked.

  “The Antichrist shouldn’t be anywhere near here. I wouldn’t worry about him,” Greg said.
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  “I was kidding.” I rolled my eyes at Greg.

  “I’m not. Luckily, that isn’t your battle,” Greg said.

  “Good, because I’m way out-gunned and I’ve never ridden any kind of horse. What is my battle?” I asked.

  Greg shrugged. “Keeping New Orleans free of major demonic action. Getting the really bad guys put away, supernatural or not. The fight is a bit bigger but your connection is growing. Like on Halloween, when the veil between the living and dead is the thinnest,” he said.

  “Right, that’s making it worse,” I replied.

  “Your barrier between the supernatural is evaporating. You’ll be fine,” he said.

  “That sounds like it could make you crazy.” Gunnar dished out the eggs.

  “Thanks. I think some people would be driven crazy.” I nodded.

  Greg grabbed forks from the silverware drawer. “You won’t. That’s why you have a team around you. Worrying about it won’t help.”

  “That hot doctor keeps calling,” Gunnar said.

  “You? I just ignore him right now.” I didn’t need to be sparring with a bossy hot man right now. Dr. LeBlanc was smart. He and Dr. Brimlow, who had a better bedside manner, were interested in working with me on building a clinic to help people suffering from PTSD and addictions. They could handle the clinic rehab plans for now.

  “He came by one day. I gave him my number to avoid that happening again. He’s worried about you,” Gunnar said.

  I smiled. “He thinks I’m unreliable and scattered. He’s not that wrong.”

  “It’s temporary. You should have them over for dinner or something. Get caught up.” Greg nodded.

  My phone rang and I frowned at the nagging device. I tapped the screen when I saw that it was Ivy.

  “Where are you?” I asked after putting it on speaker.

  “Don’t get judgy.” Ivy sounded too happy to be annoyed.

  Greg chuckled.

  “I’m not judging. We get worried when you stay out all night. Greg asks me like I know what’s going on,” I explained.

  “You’ve got Gunnar there to keep you two in touch with reality,” Ivy teased.

  I sighed. “Just because we get new people doesn’t mean we don’t care about the old friends.”

  “You just called me old. I’d throw a shoe at you if I were there.” Ivy wore size thirteen stripper heels. Those were dangerous projectiles.

  “Sorry. Are you okay?” I asked.

  “I’m perfect. I’ve met a great guy and we’re just getting to know each other.” Ivy sounded like she was floating.

  I refilled my coffee cup. “Who is this dreamy guy?” I asked.

  Greg rolled his eyes.

  Ivy went through boyfriends like I was going through coffee right now.

  “What’s his name?” I asked.

  “Brody,” Ivy said with a sigh.

  “Brody what?” I asked. “Or is that his last name?”

  “No, you’re not going to have Matt run his background,” Ivy challenged.

  “So, he’s got a record?” I asked.

  “Stop it, De. He’s good. He’s another drag queen,” Ivy explained.

  I rubbed the bridge of my nose. “Being a drag queen doesn’t make him a saint. I want you to be careful.”

  “You’ll meet him soon,” Ivy said.

  She’d said that before about other men and it never happened.

  “Okay. Can’t wait to meet him,” I said.

  “See you later. I’ll be home for dinner,” she said.

  “Okay, bye.” I ended the call.

  “Brody?” Greg asked.

  I shrugged and focused on my eggs. “Gunnar, do you know a drag queen named Brody?”

  Gunnar was gay but not a drag queen, so it was a shot in the dark.

  “No. I can ask around. Don’t you just...know?” Gunnar asked me.

  “Usually. It’s easier when I meet someone. Just a name makes it hard to pinpoint and be sure.” I found I was hungrier than I’d thought. I polished off my eggs and the rest of the yogurt.

  “We’ll have to wait and see then. More eggs?” Gunnar asked.

  “No, thanks. I need to get dressed and do something.” I put my dishes and trash where they belonged.

  I finished off my coffee and the carved mahogany stairs only felt half as steep as when I’d come down this morning.

  “You can do it,” Greg teased.

  “Shower, make myself presentable and then I’ll call the doc back,” I said with sort of convincing resolve.

  As I turned off the hair dryer, I could hear my cell phone again.

  LeBlanc was calling.

  I’d covered the dark circles under my eyes the best I could but the exhaustion was still there. No one wanted to deal with a difficult person in that state. I flipped between wanting to impress him and wanting to kill him.

  Right now, I couldn’t care less what he thought about me.

  I answered anyway.

  “Dr. Oscar, you’re hard to reach,” LeBlanc said.

  His Cajun accent wasn’t as thick as some but he’d done some of his advanced degrees in the northeast. Spending time around “Texans”, what the bayou folk called non-Cajuns, could make you lose some of your native sound.

  “I’ve been having issues sleeping. Sorry. Is there something you needed?” I asked.

  Brimlow was all in on the project and we’d picked an old building that needed remodeling for our first clinic. LeBlanc kept putting his opinions in without actually committing, and I was tired of him being a tease.

  “I’m in. I want to help but you know we’ll butt heads,” he said.

  “If you don’t want to deal with it, get out now. I don’t have patience for cowards,” I shot back.

  “Fine. We need to talk about the renovation plans. Brimlow and I have some suggestions. We found an architect, if you’re okay with him,” LeBlanc said.

  I smiled. He was bugging me because he wanted in but I had all the money. That drove men crazy—they liked control.

  “Fine. I’ll meet you guys for lunch. Text me when and where—assuming the architect is available,” I said.

  “Sure thing. I’ll let you know.” He ended the call.

  Annoying as he was, LeBlanc was a good guy despite. We both had a rather blunt demeanor so we’d face off plenty. Really, he wasn’t what had been causing my stress. Blaming him would only give the real demons more power. Closing my eyes, I focused on finding calmness and tried to find the source of my persecution.

  Real demons were running amok with the Halloween season to hide them. I felt something bad looming. As I looked in my closet, I found my growing kitten batting at the laces in my sneakers.

  “I think boots today,” I said.

  I pulled on the calf-high black boots and took a deep breath. My phone chimed with a text from LeBlanc with the time and place for lunch appointment. I needed to get going. It was already ten in the morning.

  An hour later, I joined LeBlanc and Brimlow at a French Quarter café. The old French architecture made it feel dignified while the Halloween decorations added an eerie charm. Even at this early hour, tourists crowded the streets with oversized Hurricane drinks as they snapped pictures and looked for commemorative voodoo doll souvenirs. LeBlanc was tall, dark and handsome. Brimlow was a more fatherly type. The third man was blond with piercing green eyes and a quick smile.

  “Deanna, this is Ambrose. He comes highly recommended. We want to have a consistent look for all the clinics, right?” Brimlow asked.

  “I’d say so. We’re starting with one but want to expand.” I shook the architect’s hand.

  “I toured the building you selected. It’s good. Solid. We’ve discussed the general needs. I’ll work up some options. First, we need to talk about the chapel and the budget,” Ambrose said.

  The waitress came over and handed out menus. We settled in and ordered first.

  “The budget isn’t hard and fixed. I want quality work and I want it right. Work up
your options and estimated costs. As far as the chapel, I want a few different ones. I want people to feel comfortable,” I said.

  “It’s a bit much,” Brimlow said.

  I glanced at LeBlanc. He was the one more against the religious angle.

  “We’re not mandating religious observance. We don’t need three chapels,” LeBlanc added.

  “I think we do. We want to be inclusive. I’m not pushing one religion but it can help with recovery. They don’t need to be huge. I’ m not interested in a megachurch.” I smiled.

  “New Orleans does have a variety of religious beliefs and expressions.” Ambrose made notes.

  “See what you come up with that fits the space. We should have all the permits done and you’ll be ready to start the renovations by the time your options are submitted,” I said.

  Brimlow leaned in and whispered in my ear. “I told him we could do it over the phone.”

  “I’m glad to meet Ambrose and get a feel for him. It’s an important project to me,” I replied.

  I had a good feeling about Ambrose. LeBlanc might’ve used the excuse to get me out to lunch. Gunnar was convinced at our first meeting that LeBlanc was checking me out. Maybe he was flirting? Either way, I had to make time for projects I cared about.

  I just didn’t always have control over my schedule or priorities.

  “Did you hear about those grave displays being torn up? The day of the dead is getting crazy and people are destroying the tributes and stealing the offerings,” Brimlow said.

  “Stupid kids. Pranks are part of the season.” LeBlanc dismissed it.

  I checked my phone. There were overnight complaints from multiple cemeteries about Día de los Muertos devotions being left early, as well as disrespectful pranks and messing with the offerings.

  “Nothing unusual,” Ambrose agreed.

  I had a bad feeling about it. I texted Matt if he thought the cemetery stuff was routine or not. I was old friends with the police detective and he trusted me. If he needed me, he’d call. But I usually knew when I needed to get involved before the police did.

  Matt replied to my text that he was at a cemetery at the moment but things seemed routine. Perhaps more than normal because of the growing Day of the Dead observations. My instincts hinted that things might get much worse.

 
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