Seduction's Kiss (The Allure Chronicles)(9)By: Alyssa Rose Ivy
I stepped into a few galleries, but the owners all looked at me skeptically. I wasn’t sure if it was the remaining powder I couldn’t seem to get off my t-shirt, or my age, but none of them thought I could afford their work. I couldn’t, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t look.
The one exception was the owner of a photo gallery I stopped in.
“Nice camera.” He gestured to the Nikon around my neck.
“Oh, thanks. It was a graduation gift from my parents.”
He set aside some sort of book he’d been reading. “Graduation from?”
“High school. A few years ago.”
“Great gift. What do you use it for mostly?”
“Oh, pretty much everything. I’ve been into photography for a while.” My parents had bought me my first camera when I was seven, and I’d never stopped clicking away.
He laughed. “Same here.”
I really looked at the guy. He was probably in his thirties. Owning a gallery in downtown New Orleans in my thirties didn’t sound so bad.
I gazed around at his street scenes and portraits. “Your work is beautiful.”
“Thank you. I try to capture the essence of the city.”
“This is my first time here. I’m impressed.”
“Really? You’re first time in New Orleans? What do you think of the Crescent City so far?”
I thought over my experience. “I’m enjoying my morning.”
He laughed. “Not so much the rest of the visit?”
“I had a bad night.” Ok, that was too much information, but who cared. I wasn’t going to see this shop owner again.
“Ah. I think I catch your drift.”
“You should check out the Midnight Cauldron.”
“The Midnight Cauldron?”
“It’s a Voodoo shop, but with a different feel from the rest. I think you’ll find Kalisa, the owner, entertaining.”
“Voodoo? Like witchcraft?”
“Yes and no. You should check it out. She’s just off Bourbon, but don’t let the address fool you. Tell her Harold sent you.”
“Okay.” I took another look at his work not sure what he meant by letting the address fool me. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” He handed me his card. “Don’t be a stranger.”
“Ok.” I pocketed the card and headed out.
The Midnight Cauldron didn’t look like much on the outside, but I decided to take Harold’s advice and check it out.
Unlike most of the shops nearby, the door was closed, but I pushed it open. A chime jingled as I walked inside. The smell of incense hit me as I gazed around the crowded shop. A counter spanned nearly the whole store. I walked up to it and looked into the case.
Rabbit feet? Frogs legs? Yeah, not the kind of stuff I needed.
“Can I help you?”
I jumped back startled by the sudden appearance of a woman that I assumed was the shop owner. Her long dreadlocks and mouth full of metal capped teeth weren’t what caught my attention first. Instead it was the ample cleavage that she had on display. The woman gave a new definition to well-endowed. “Hi. I was just looking around. Harold at the gallery down the street suggested I stop in.”
Her lips spread into a wide smile. “Harold’s lovely, isn’t he?”
“I just met him for a few minutes, but he seemed nice.” I looked around at the candles lining the store. They were in every color imaginable and created an eerie glow despite the small amount of sunlight filtering in through a crack in a window.
“I see.” Her eyes narrowed like she was sizing me up. “Is there anything in particular you’re looking for?”
“Not really. I’m just exploring.”
“Exploring? Where are you from?”
“Right now I’m living in Atlanta, but I’m from Charlotte.” I’m not sure why I was so forthcoming with details, but I didn’t see any harm in it.
“Are you here with a boyfriend? Lover?”
I laughed dryly. “No.”
“Meaning you don’t have either?”
“Exactly. I’m with a friend.” No reason to explain more.
“Your friend has a man?”
“And you’re happy for her, but secretly you’re jealous.” She stuck out her tongue slightly as she smiled.