I decided to do something fun; an interview with Caine Bordeaux, the Alpha of the Black Water Pard, and the hero in book two of the NOLA Shifters Series. This interview will give you some insight into him, his Pard, and what it means to be a shifter. It's a bit long, but I had so much fun that I just couldn't help myself! Enjoy!
If you've never been to New Orleans at the tail end of the summer, count yourselves lucky. I arrived at the airport in the middle of the afternoon to temperatures in the high eighties but thanks to the high humidity, the Realfeel temp was 100. Sweat was rolling off me before I even made it to the car that was waiting for me. I was invited to New Orleans by Caine Bordeaux, Alpha of the Black Water Pard. With more and more humans accepting the fact that shifters really do exist, that we work, live, and play right alongside one another, Caine has chosen to speak out and allow himself to be interviewed.
I'll admit, I was excited to travel to New Orleans again. It's been more than a decade since I visited The Big Easy and back then I had no idea the city was home to a group of leopard shifters. There have been some changed to the city, thanks in large part to the devastation from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but New Orleans proved it's mettle by bouncing back.
My first view of the city, once we got under way, took my breath away and had me snapping pictures with the camera on my phone. There is just something so romantic, so alluring, about the city of New Orleans. It's easy to see why so many visit every year. Between the vibrant colors painted on buildings, jazz music drifting on the breeze, the sweet smell of baked goodies from places like Cafe Du Monde, and Spanish moss swaying from the trees every time there's a slight breeze, there is something for everyone to admire in the Crescent City.
The car stops at a private boat dock where I am met by Remy Delacroix, one of Caine's lieutenants. I'm not usually afraid of water, but that boat is not exactly big and the thought of taking a dunk in the bayou, knowing it's filled with gators, isn't a pretty one. Remy assures me it's perfectly safe after he helps me into the boat and gets us on our way.
If I thought it was muggy in the city, out here in the bayou, surrounded by swamp water and trees, the humidity is almost oppressive. By the time we reach our destination my shirt is sticking to my skin from all the sweating I've done. I guess it's a good thing I'm not here to try to impress anyone.
My first sight of the compound the Pard lives in is filled with admiration. The houses are small, and the paint is a bit worn, but it's obvious they are being well cared for. The yards are trimmed, some of the houses have small flower beds in front of them, and every single house has a large porch complete with rocking chairs and a porch swing. If you ignore the nearby swamp, you could feel like you were in any suburb in any city across the country.
“Welcome to da bayou, cher.”
Those are the words that greet me when I step off the boat onto the dock. I wasn't expecting to be met by Caine himself, but there is little doubt in my mind that the man with sandy blonde hair and pale blue eyes is the Alpha of the Black Water Pard. It takes me a moment to get my bearings before I can respond. “Thank you. You must be Mr. Bordeaux. I'm Angel Nyx. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
“It's Caine, Ms. Nyx. Mr. Bordeaux was my papa.” He winked before continuing. “If you'll follow me, my mate, Emelise, has some fresh chilled lemonade waitin'. It'll help you to cool off.”
“Caine, then. However, I insist you call me Angel, if we're going to be so informal.”
“Dat might get a little confusin' since dat's what I call my mate.”
Again, he winked and I knew he was giving me a hard time. “Then feel free to call me Nyxie, if that would be less confusing.” The house I'm led to is by far the largest in the compound. The porch wraps completely around the house and it's obvious, by the worn hand rests on the rocking chairs, that it's used often. Once inside, I take in the hardwood floors and light, airy colors on the walls. Every where I look I can see touches of femininity mingled with the masculine furnishings. The red and gold throw pillows on the dark sofa compliment the pale yellow walls of the living room and make the room feel inviting. I am led into a study where a pitcher of lemonade waits. Once we both have a glass, Caine takes a seat, not behind the massive mahogany desk he no doubt works from, but in one of the over stuffed chairs that sit off to the side in front of a low sofa.
After sitting, I take a sip of my lemonade then turn my attention to the man across from me. “I want to thank you, Caine, for allowing me to come here and interview you. I must say, I was a little surprised, and very honored, when you reached out to me. You could have chosen anyone to give this glimpse into your world to and you chose me.”
“Well, cher, I've heard some good tings about you. You've written about shifters, put us in a good light, it only seemed right I let you be da one to interview me.”
I am not ashamed to admit I blushed a little at the compliment. “I'd like to record this so I don't miss anything, if that's all right with you?” Once he gave me the approval I turned on my recorder. “What was your deciding factor in choosing to speak up and shed some light into the world of shifters?”
“Wit' shifters working so closely wit' humans, I just felt it was time for da world to know we really do exist. One of my Pard, Beau LaFluer, recently learned dat his mate is a human. As far as she knows, dere's not a drop of shifter blood in her, yet dey're mates. I would have said it was impossible if da proof wasn't right dere in front of me.”
“Why is it considered impossible unless there is shifter blood in the one who is human? I assume there is something special about being mates? It's not something that just happens with everyone?”
“You'd be right. Da why of it is a bit complicated. Da mate bond goes deeper den just our human halves. It's a connection between our animals. When my mate first came to da compound, I knew instantly that she was meant for me.”
“How do you know when you've met your mate?”
“It's a physical reaction. Dere scent drives you mad, your body gets warm all over, and your animal wants to come out, take control, and mark dem as yours so no one else will go near dem. It can be overwhelming to a person if dey don't have at least a basic idea of what to expect.”
“It sounds very intense. I can only imagine how mind-boggling that can be for someone who previously had little knowledge of shifters.”
“Intense. Dat's one word for it.”
“So, what can you tell us about shifters? Other than the obvious difference of being able to turn into an animal, what other differences are there between our two species?”
“Dere are a few differences. We're stronger den humans so we have to be careful when interacting wit' dem. Some of da best hockey players in da NHL can attribute dere skill to having shifter blood in dem. I see dat look in your eye, cher. Don't even ask. If dey want da world to know, dey will come out of da closet demselves.” Caine chuckled before he continued. “We teach our children how to control dere animals from an early age so dey can go to school just like ever'one else and not cause any trouble. We heal faster den humans. Injuries dat would take a human weeks or months to recover from, we are healed wit'in days. As a result, we have longer lifespans den humans. Dat's not to say we can''t die at an early age. It can and does happen, but often it's a freak accident dat causes so much damage da body can't heal it fast enough.”
I will admit, when Caine mentioned the NHL my eyes lit up. How cool would it be to find out your favorite hockey player was secretly a shifter? But I respect their privacy. If any of them want to reach out to me, I'll gladly interview them. A girl can hope, right? Okay, back to the interview at hand.
“When I arrived at the compound, I couldn't help but notice that, even though the paint on some of the houses is a bit worn, everything appears to be well cared for. With the economy still so unstable and the unemployment rate in Louisiana being 5.8%, which is a bit higher than the overall unemployment rate in the US, how is the Pard maintaining itself?”
“I'm a businessman, Nyxie. I've been investin ' money in various lucrative accounts for over a decade now. Dat's not to say I'm wealthy, but da choices I've made have helped to pull da Pard up out of poverty.”
“That's very impressive. You've obviously done well with it. Now, a couple of my readers have some questions for you, but before I get to them, I'd like to get a little personal, if you don't mind? Feel free to say no comment if you'd rather not answer.” I waited for his nod before I continued. “Okay, first question, favorite color?”
“Dat one is easy, cher. Green, like my mate's eyes.”
There is a bit of a pause here, which was surprising, before he responded with “Gumbo.”
“What is your worst habit?”
“My mate would say it's bein' stubborn but I like to tink dat's a good ting. My worst habit, I tink, would be tryin' to control ever'ting, even tings I know, intellectually, are out of my control.”
“What's your best habit?”
“Lovin' da people I cherish most.”
“Ah, so you're a bit of a romantic. I'm sure your mate likes that. Since our time is running out, because I know you're a very busy man, I'd like to wrap this up by asking you the questions my readers have for you. Maria Pinheiro asks when did you first know you had to overthrow your old Alpha? Was it sudden or did you plan it out?”
Caine's eyes darken and I know he's thinking back to that time in his life. “I first started to get da idea when I was a teenager. Da poverty da Pard was wallowin' in made me sick and furious. By da time I was fifteen, I was already plannin' da best way to go about it. I started workin' out, daily, to build up my strength and stamina. I managed to graduate high school a year early so I could focus on workin' to save money to invest. I educated myself on da best stocks to invest in, and started out small, so dat if someting fell through it wouldn't be too damagin', financially. I knew dere was more to runnin' a Pard den being strong. I knew I needed to be financially secure as well. When I was sure I had ever'ting in place, I challenged Xavier and won.”
“How long ago was that?”
“Eight years. I was twenty-two.”
“Wow. That seems awfully young to be taking on such responsibility. I don't know many who could have done that at twenty-two and succeeded as well as you have.”
“It's not been easy, but I have some very good lieutenants who do dere part in helpin'.”
“That makes sense. Every general needs lieutenants. Our last question comes from Roxanne Riley Vcictor. Roxanne asks, what is your most hoped for and ambitious project for improving the living standards of the Pard if money was no object?”
Caine gives the question serious thought before he replies. “My most hoped for and ambitious project is housing. You said it yourself, some of da houses look a bit worn. Dat's because dey are. We've made repairs, and it helps dat Remy Delacroix is an architect and his brother, Gage, is a master carpenter, but some of da houses need to be completely rebuilt. Some of da families, da kids sleep tree or more to a room, because dere homes only have two bedrooms in dem. Before we can build bigger houses we need more land. Dat's someting I'm already workin' on.”
“Those are very reasonable goals. I'm sure with your business savvy, you'll get there in no time. I want to thank you, Caine, for inviting me here today to interview you. You've certainly opened my eyes to your world and I'm sure many of my readers will feel the same way.”
“It was a pleasure, cher. Come back any time. I'm sure some of da others would gladly answer any questions you might have for dem. If you're in N'Orleans for a spell, you should check out Mia Delacroix's art showing at da Contemporary Arts Center.”
“I will definitely do that. I think a little vacation in New Orleans is just the thing I need right now. Thank you again, Caine. It's been a pleasure.”
And there you have it. I have to admit, I had a lot of fun talking with the Black Water Pard's Alpha, and I decided that, to make this article feel authentic, I would write everything exactly as it was spoken. Whether or not any of the other shifters in New Orleans reach out to me once this article is out remains to be seen, but if they do, you can rest assured I will share their insights with you, my loyal fans!