Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 7

In music class, Janet is awarded the lead on their new song. The teacher assigns them to come up with parts for the accompaniment.Brand New Day cover

“This gets better and better! We’re going to blow them away! Tomorrow, have your parts decided and tab written so we can put the pieces together.”

“Tomorrow? Mr. C.!” The students complained.

“Okay, by Friday.”

More groans.

“Okay, Tuesday.”

That got a more enthusiastic response. The bell rang and they headed toward the door. Diego caught up with the girls outside the door.

“I didn’t know you could sing like that,” he said to Janet. “That was so cool.”

“Thanks. I love to sing.”

“Me too. Sets me free,” he said quietly with a shy grin.

Janet swallowed hard, blinking back the sudden flood of tears that overwhelmed her. That was exactly what she thought too.

“You should come over today, and I can show you how to tab your vocals,” Diego told her and Bunny.

“I can’t. I have to watch my little sister,” Janet said. “But you and Ramona can come over for dinner and we can. Trina and Bunny too, if you want.”

“I’m working tonight,” Trina said. “Maybe this weekend?”

“Yeah, we could do that. Bunny?”

“Can’t. Already have homework in algebra, can you believe? It’s gonna take me hours.”

“We can come,” Diego said, raising an eyebrow at Ramona.

“Yeah, if we can take some time so genius girl can help me with my biology homework.”

“Of course. I told you I’d help. Sorry I can’t help with algebra, Bun. Not my thing.”

“I know. I’ll figure it out eventually.”

“What time should we come over?” Ramona asked.

“Six. I have to go to the store and shop for groceries before Sookie gets home.”

“I’ll give you a ride. We can drop by and get groceries on the way home, and just hang out.”

“Really? That would help so much. Thanks.”

Diego’s friends were irritated that they had to hitch rides with others, but took it in good grace, because it was his sister. When they saw Janet, they understood even more clearly. A great many lustful thoughts walked out the door that afternoon.

They made a quick stop at the grocery store and Janet bought the things she needed for the next few days. She’d taken over cooking when she was twelve. Her mother wasn’t a very good cook, her meals often inedible. Janet had a talent for it and enjoyed planning meals. Sookie was forced to clean up, something she hated, but their mother had, for once, sided with Janet.

Sookie rode home with their neighbor who had a son her age. He rode with Janet’s mom in the morning. They were just pulling into the driveway when Janet arrived.

“Hi, Mrs. Thompson. We had to stop at the store.”

“No problem. I picked the kids up and took them for an ice cream. I hope that’s okay.”

“That’s great. Thanks.” She turned to her sister. “Did you remember to thank Mrs. Thompson?”

“Yes, duh!” She smiled at Mrs. Thompson. “Thanks again, Mrs. T. The ice cream was delicious.”

“Bye, Sookie. See you tomorrow, sweetie.” She pulled out of the driveway and headed three doors down.

“Who are you?” Sookie demanded of Diego. “You her boyfriend?”

“I’m Ramona’s brother,” he replied, smiling. He held out his hand to shake hers. “I’ve heard a lot about you, Sookie.”

The little girl eyed his hand distastefully. “Yeah. I bet. She lies a lot.” She tossed her dark braids over her shoulder and went in the house.

“That’s your sister?” Diego couldn’t get over the difference between the two girls.

“Unfortunately. Oh, and I wouldn’t hold out your hand near her again. She bites.”

Diego shoved his hands in his pockets. He went to the trunk of the car and lifted out the groceries. He got all but two bags. The girls took those and followed him in the kitchen.

“What’s for supper?” Ramona asked. “Your fabulous spaghetti? Lasagna?”

“Scarborough Fair Casserole.”

“Yeah! I love that!”

“Why you call it that?” Diego asked.

“I use parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme to season it.”

“Fun.” He smiled as he unpacked the bags. “Can I help?”

“Can you peel potatoes?”

“Give me something hard, huh? Of course I can.”

She handed him a peeler, knife and potatoes. He set about peeling and cutting them setting them up for mashed potatoes. Ramona browned the hamburger meat and Janet combined the other ingredients. When everything was ready, she topped it with mashed potatoes and cheese before popping it in the oven.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Under the Western Sky ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestSometimes, couples will have known one another for a while before taking it to a different level. For whatever reason, they don’t see that they’re in love. Several of my couples are good friends, often involved with other people. However, the bond between them is strong. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, completely by surprise, they realize that they’ve been in love for ages, and didn’t see it.

Because I have quite a few of these books, I’ve decided to add a new category. Rather than just sharing First Meetings, I want to share that moment when they realize—they’re in love.

Introducing the Epiphany—that sudden realization that they belong together. Mixed in with the First Meetings, I’ll be adding Epiphanies.

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500

The first one I’d like to share is from my published novel, Under the Western Sky. Libby Marshall and Bobby Menendez have been friends since they were children. Now in high school, they still hang out and do things together. However, much to Bobby’s chagrin, Libby has never taken him seriously as a boyfriend. Tonight, though, they’re going out with their best friends, Danny and Toni, who are a couple. Bobby can’t help hoping that Libby will change her mind.

They pulled up to Toni’s house. The girls were waiting on the porch. Bobby hopped out, holding the door for Toni and Libby to climb in. Toni sat up front, scooting over next to Danny. Libby reluctantly got in back, moving to the far side of the car as Bobby climbed in. Looking disappointed, he sat on his side of the wide car, staring out the window.

Once they had their tickets and popcorn, they went into the theater and found a good spot. The boys liked to sit in the back because there was more leg room, but the girls liked the middle. To compromise, they sat somewhere between the two and let Danny have the aisle seat since his legs were the longest. Toni snuggled next to him as he put his arm around her shoulders. Libby sat next to her, not really looking at Bobby, although they shared the popcorn.

“Are you mad at me or something?” he asked her quietly, not wanting to bring their friends into it.

The others were so wrapped up in one another, they didn’t hear him. Libby scooted a little closer, lowering her voice as she took a bite of popcorn.

“No, I’m not mad, Bobby. I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with this whole arrangement, that’s all.”

“We’re a couple friends going to a movie. You got a full social calendar I don’t know about?” He tried to make light of it, but his feelings were hurt.

Libby nudged him, nearly spilling the popcorn. “Don’t be a goof. Of course not.”

“I really like you, Libby. If you can’t see that, I’m sorry.”

“I thought maybe you were going out with me because of what Toni said to Danny. That she wouldn’t go if I didn’t have a date.”

“All this time you thought that’s what this was? A mercy date? Baby, I think you’re the greatest!”

“You do? For real?”

“Yeah, for real. Hey, would I make comments about your ass if I didn’t think you were cute?”

“I dunno, you’re a guy. I mean, Danny’s always drooling over my tits.”

“Danny’s a goober. He drools over any tits he can see. You have to admit, you’re killing us both with the no bra thing.”

She looked at him, raising an eyebrow. “I’ll remember you said that, Roberto.”

“What, are you my mom? You have to scold me into behaving? I want to date you, Libby. If I wanted just to jump your bones, I’d have done that already. You know, some women actually find me very attractive.”

She giggled, tossing her hair. “Yeah, I can see the appeal. You’ve got that whole Latin Lover thing going. The dark hair and bedroom eyes. You’re cute, for sure.”

“Then why won’t you let me kiss you?”

She looked at the screen as the movie started. By the set of her shoulders, he could see that she didn’t know how to respond. Taking a chance that he was right, he blundered on.

“Is it because all this time you thought I didn’t really like you? How could I not? You’re wonderful. I’ve had a thing for you like—forever,” he whispered as the cartoon started.

Libby gave him a curious stare as the lights dimmed, her popcorn halfway to her mouth. She couldn’t believe his admission was real. He didn’t really want her, did he? He was taking her out so Toni would go with his best friend. That’s what friends did for one another. Was he kidding? She was too inexperienced to tell.

Libby knew a lot of girls her age had already lost their virginity. She and Toni were among the few left in their graduating class who had never been with a guy. If Danny got his way, that was going to change and soon. He was so hot for Toni, he got a boner every time he talked to her. Bobby, on the other hand, couldn’t possibly mean it. Or did he?

Maybe she would let him kiss her. Hell, if she didn’t like it, she could always stop him and say no. There was no harm in a kiss, was there? She shifted a little closer and didn’t mind when his arm draped around her.

Bobby couldn’t believe his luck. Libby leaned against him, her head nearly on his shoulder as the movie started. Braving an arm across her shoulders, he played with a curl, wrapping it around his finger. One little flick of his thumb and she’d turn her head so he could kiss her.

Libby watched the movie, giggling every so often. Danny and Toni weren’t paying any attention at all. As soon as the lights went down, they were necking, their popcorn forgotten on the floor. Bobby was still holding theirs, taking a bite every now and then, pretending to act casual, but she could feel the tense set of his shoulders. She glanced at him, his handsome face cast into highlights and deep shadows by the movie.

Feeling her eyes on him, he turned to face her, a half smile greeting her curious gaze. Setting the popcorn on the floor, he leaned toward her, lips slightly parted.

His kiss caught her by surprise, although she knew he was going to do it. She hadn’t expected it to be so nice.

To her, Bobby was like a fixture, something that was always there. They had known one another since their dads went into the Marines, doing recon in hostile territory. Their deaths had forged a bond between her family and his, making them virtually inseparable.

His kiss felt good, warm, sexy, more than just friendly. She had thought it would be like kissing a brother, but it was anything but that. Smiling to herself, she took a breath and opened her mouth slightly, letting him kiss her more deeply. No guy had ever kissed her like that. His lips left hers as he leaned against her forehead, sighing contentedly.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it? I mean, you’re not like throwing up or anything over there are you?”

“That was nice,” she admitted. “It was more than nice, it was super.”

Bobby chuckled, kissing her playfully on the nose. “Yeah, it was. Now do you think I’m doing this just to make Toni and Danny happy?”


“Good, cause I don’t give a shit about either of them. I like you a lot, Libby.”

“I like you too, Bobby.”

They didn’t watch much of the rest of the movie, but kissed and talked quietly while the theater went crazy around them. They were in their own little world.

©2013 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 6

Diego admits to Mr. Franks that he’s got a crush on Janet.Brand New Day cover

“And you’re finding it hard to think of her as a sister now.”

“Yeah. I’m sorry about daydreaming.”

“Show her to me some time. I’ll tell you if you deserve detention for it.” The older man laughed, nudging him. He wrote a note for Diego and sent him to class.

Diego’s final class of the day was chorus. He’d been singing since he was a child. He sang in the church choir and he and his buddies were putting together a band with him at the head. He took his usual seat in the tenor section, dropping his books under the chair.

The door opened and a group of girls entered. A bubbling laugh rose above the others, filling the room with a joyful sound. Diego recognized that laugh. Janet had just walked in the room with his sister and Bunny.

Giggling and talking, they went to the soprano section and sat down. None of them noticed him until Trina walked in and waved at him and then at them. Ramona waved at her brother. He smirked, saluting.

“Nice you noticed me, mi hermana.”

“I didn’t know you’d be in here,” she complained.

He chuckled, nodding. “Yeah, that’s a good excuse. Don’t embarrass me.”

Ramona stuck her tongue out at him. Trina giggled and sat in the alto section with some of her friends. The bell rang and the teacher came out of his office. He looked at the students on risers and smiled.

“Welcome, everyone. I’m Mr. Carter, chorus teacher. Shall we begin?” He gestured to one of the girls who took her place at the piano.

The girl played a chord and each section took their pitch. They began their vocal warm-up, going higher and higher until it was out of the range of most of the chorus. Only Ramona, Janet and Bunny could hit the notes. Mr. Carter nodded to the pianist, encouraging her to go on. Moments later, only one voice hit the high note—Janet.

Blushing, she hid her face as she realized that only she was singing. The entire class burst into applause, cheering for her.

“Wow!” Mr. Carter said with a huge grin. “That was amazing! What’s your name, young lady?”

Janet cleared her throat and told him in a soft voice.

Mr. Carter leaned forward. “Sorry?”

“Janet Yarkowsky,” she said loudly.

“And you other girls?” He nodded to Ramona and Bunny.

They introduced themselves.

“Have I got a song for you!” He laughed, clapping his hands excitedly. “We’ve got a competition coming up in October and it calls for three sopranos. Minimal music, just drums, and guitar, the rest is the vocals. I need one lead, two on harmony and the rest of the chorus behind.” He handed the pianist a piece of sheet music.

Her eyes brightened. “You’re kidding. For real?”

“What is it, Melanie?” Trina asked.

Instead of answering, the girl started to play. Janet immediately recognized it. She burst into song without thinking about it. It came as naturally to her as breathing. The music filled the hollow, empty places in her. She poured her heart into it, singing Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack.

One of the boys sidled over the the drum set and the men in the bass section improvised a bass line to go with her vocal. Her friends joined her on harmony. The rest sat in awe until they finished. For a moment, the room was silent, then it exploded with applause, cheers and feet pounding the risers.

Janet blushed again, realizing what she’d done. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

She hid her face in her hands until Mr. Carter came over to her. He took her hands, helping her stand.

“I don’t think we need to hold auditions for a vocalist, do you?” he appealed to the class.

The entire chorus clapped and cheered again.

“Way to go, Janet!” Trina yelled.

The rest of the room took up the call. Mr. Carter held her hand, encouraging her to take her bow. She did so shyly.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t stop it. I love that song,” she said to him. “I didn’t mean to mess up auditions.”

“You would have gotten it anyway,” he said quietly. “You have a beautiful voice.”


Finally, he let her sit down. The rest of class was spent discussing how they could take the song and blow the minds of the judges. Mr. Carter liked the bass section singing instead of using a guitar. He assigned each section the task of adding something new and interesting to the performance.

Diego raised his hand, calling Mr. Carter to the tenor section.

“I had an idea. If the bass section does their thing, we should have the tenors do percussion.”

The boys demonstrated, sounding like snare drums, cymbals and bongos. Mr. Carter’s eyes lit up.

“Impressive! I like it! Altos, my sweet ladies, what will you be doing?”

“Strings, guitar….” Trina said with a smile.

The sopranos decided on woodwinds. They also demonstrated. Mr. Carter was thrilled.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 5

Brand New Day coverThe girls spend lunch with Diego and his friends. Raul’s girlfriend, Trina, befriends Janet, walking to Drama with her.

“What’s with you? All through lunch, you hardly said a word and you sent off what’s-her-tits. You’ve been trying to get in that girl’s panties forever.”

“She insulted my sister. That disrespects me.” He picked up his books, shoving past his friend.

“I never seen such a weird face on you, man,” Raul said. “You’re looking after my woman funny.”

“No. Shit, no! I swear, man, not Trina.”

Raul glanced over his shoulder. Trina was introducing Janet to people outside the Drama room across the commons.

“That Janet girl?” He laughed, punching his friend. “Man, she’s not your style. Besides, she’s a baby.”

“She’s no baby,” Diego said with a muted sigh. “But she’s sure a babe. How you mean she’s not my style?”

“Cause that girl will never let you in, bro. Face it, she’s virgin pussy, and you’re an old tomcat.”

Diego sighed again, this time more heavily. He swallowed hard, nodding as he took the stairs two at a time, heading to senior English.

“Are we boring you, Mr. Hernandez?” Mr. Franks, the English teacher said.

Diego blinked, sitting up straighter. “Uh, no sir.”

“Perhaps you can tell me what we’ve been discussing.”

“Yeah, sure.” He thought a moment. “You’re discussing the syllabus and you just mentioned Julius Caesar.”

The class laughed. That was exactly what they’d been talking about—five minutes ago. Mr. Franks smirked.

“You’ll stop with me after class, Mr. Hernandez.”

“Yes, sir,” he mumbled, slumping in his chair once more.

After class, Mr. Franks took him aside. He was a man in his late forties. Not unkind, but very strict. “Want to tell me what’s on your mind? You’re usually more focused. This is one of your best subjects.”

“Nothing. It’s not a big thing….”

“Diego, I’ve known you forever. You’ve been my student for two years already. I know when you’re distracted by something.”

Diego shrugged. He wouldn’t meet Mr. Franks’ eyes.

“What’s her name?” Mr. Franks asked pointedly. He waited expectantly for Diego to answer.

“That obvious, huh? What an actor I am.” He chuckled, shaking his head. “I’m gonna be late to class.”

“I’ll write you a note. Who?”

“She’s new, you wouldn’t know her. She’s a friend of my sister’s.”

“Got it bad for her, huh? She tell you no?”

Diego laughed loudly. “I haven’t asked her anything. She’s my little sister’s best friend. I’ve known her since she was seven.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from How Far is Heaven ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestHal Garrow is alone in a big city, squeaking by financially, as he finishes his degree in music. He’s feeling down after an audition didn’t go well. Drawn to a small lake on campus, he pulls out his guitar and starts to sing.

He started strumming a happy tune he’d been working on. He didn’t feel happy and the tune started to take on the characteristics of a dirge, so he stopped playing, thought a moment and began to play a gospel song he’d learned years ago.

“Battered and torn, still I can see the light. Tattered and worn, but I must kneel to fight.”*

He sang softly as he formed the chords and plucked the strings. Transported away on the wings of the song, he didn’t notice that someone else had entered the park and was cautiously crossing the bridge.

Her voice joined his on the chorus, harmony soaring to the sky. She had a magnificent voice; high, sweet and clear as crystal. Hal was so surprised by her sudden appearance, he quit playing and stared. Sitting beside him, she smiled at him encouragingly.

“Go on then,” she motioned for him to continue. She had a high speaking voice and a slight Irish accent. “It’s my favorite part, the chorus.”

She flashed him a five star smile, her dark eyes dancing above full red lips. Her hair was like spun molasses, rich golden brown curls. Hal hesitated a moment longer, then started playing again. She sang loudly, pouring her heart into the words, smiling encouragement for him to join her in harmony. He faltered a moment on the notes, then sang just as loudly as she, his sweet tenor joining hers as they swooped through the melody.

When the song was over, he placed his hand gently over the strings to stop their vibration and looked at her again. He saw himself reflected in her eyes; long, straight black hair, high cheekbones and a nose that was almost too big for his face. His eyes were like two bright pieces of jet, piercing in their intensity.

The young woman held out a well manicured hand, long mauve nails glittering in the afternoon sunlight. “Hi, Maeve Tierney.”

“Hal Garrow,” he smiled shyly. “Have we met before, Miss Tierney?”

“Maeve. Not exactly, but we have a couple classes together. I mostly sit right up front, or I find myself day-dreaming. I have the attention span of a goldfish.” Her smile radiated harmony.

“I mostly like the back,” he shrugged. “Less likely to be called on in the back.” He forced himself to look away from her, gazing into the lake.

“If you don’t want to call attention to yourself,” she said, “why sit in the middle of the pond and play?”

“It’s the only place I feel safe,” he told her honestly. “I’m a country boy. This is as close as I can get on short notice.”

“I’m a city girl,” she told him. “I thrive on traffic snarls, exhaust fumes and ill tempered taxi drivers. The pond has its appeal though. Sometimes, even I want to be alone.”

“Is that why you came by today?” He made to rise, but Maeve’s hand on his arm stopped him.

“No, I came because I knew I’d find you here.”

“Right….” his tone was sarcastic.

“Don’t believe me, it makes no difference to me if you do or not. But I found you, didn’t I?”

“Specifically, by name?”

She shook her head. “Just a feeling I was going to meet someone unusual, special in some way. I never know who I’ll be meeting through such serendipitous circumstances. But I always find that I enjoy the encounter, regardless of how long it lasts. Don’t you ever have that?”

“Not really. Well,” he hesitated. “Maybe once in awhile. I guess I never really thought about it the same way, is all.”

“Serendipity. It’s how my parents met. Silly little thing when you think about it. It was her first day waiting tables at a pub in Chelsea. She spilt something on him and the rest is history.”

Interested despite himself, Hal smiled. “What did she spill on him?”

“Oh, it was awful,” Maeve said with dread. “He had ordered tomato soup and a roast beef sandwich with a dill pickle. Mum wasn’t too good at balancing a tray. She caught her foot on a board and toppled. The soup went over his head and the pickle landed in his lap. The sandwich, by some miracle, stayed on the plate. Mum dove for the pickle, grabbing for it as it fell. Nearly grabbed his privates instead. Of course, he was furious, but laughing so hard he couldn’t yell at her. She finally realized what she was doing, grubbing around at his britches. Red faced, she ran to the kitchen, crying and kicking up a fuss. As he was leaving, he handed her a sizable tip and said, Miss, you can grab for my pickle anytime. She quit that very day.”

“But they still ended up together?”

“Yes. It was meant to be. They met some days later at a party. Once she got over the horrible embarrassment, she decided she quite liked him.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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I Shall Not Walk Alone by Ben Harper

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 4

Brand New Day coverAt school, the girls are having a typical first day. When they get to lunch, Diego invites them to sit with him and his friends. One of the girls gets mad.

“Well, sorry,” the girl said in a snotty tone. “I’m supposed to know?”

“They look just alike,” Diego’s best friend, Raul, said. “Pay some attention, bruja.”

The girl raised her hand to hit him, but Diego grabbed her wrist.

“I don’t think so. Take your stuff. Go.” He nodded toward a different table. “Any you others got a problem with my girls sitting here?”

The other women smile pleasantly. “No problem, Diego,” one girl said with a grin. “I’ve been wanting to meet you, Ramona,” she said sweetly. “D. talks about you all the time. I’m Trina.” She held out her hand.

They shook hands and Ramona introduced the others. Once Trina had introduced herself, the others followed. She seemed to be the female leader. She wasn’t with Diego, she sat next to Raul. His arm hung around her shoulders, fingers teasingly close to her breast. Based on the hickeys on their necks, they weren’t just friends.

“What classes do you have after lunch?” Trina asked.

“Math,” Bunny said, wrinkling her nose.

“Biology,” Ramona added.

“I’m in Drama class,” Janet said with a grin. “I can’t wait. The Drama coach came to the junior high last year and taught a class. It was so much fun.”

“I’m in there too,” Trina said. “Mom Frost is awesome, isn’t she?”


Trina giggled, waving it away. “Tell you later. It’s a story just us Drama kids know. I’ll take you over and introduce you. I’ve got rehearsal for the one acts at the speech meet next month. I’m a student director.”

“Is it too late to try out?”

“Oh, we decided the cast at the end of last year. The season starts so soon, it’s hard to take new people. But, there’s all kinds of other things you can do for speech meets. Mom will talk about that today.”

It was almost time for the bell, so they gathered their trays. The other girls befriended Ramona and Bunny, taking the younger girls to class. Diego watched as Janet and Trina walked off together. Raul punched him to get his attention.

“We’ll be late for class, moron. Come on.”

“Yeah. Coming.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 3

Brand New Day coverJanet, Ramona and Bunny ride the bus together, meeting Ramona’s brother, Diego, at the bus loop.

All Diego’s friends were under strict rules, they couldn’t touch the girls. Flirting was okay, hitting on was acceptable, to an extent, but no touching. They touched, they got the hell beaten out of them. Diego had a reputation of being the toughest guy in school. He wasn’t all that huge, there were guys plenty bigger, who were terrified of him. But he was a swimmer, a boxer and a wrestler. He’d worked hard all his life, and had muscles most guys were jealous of and girls drooled over.

Janet had heard some older women commenting about him once and one lady said he was an Adonis. Janet didn’t know the word, but she went home and looked it up. She had to agree with the description. He was very handsome, almost godlike, with his dusky Latin looks.

Older girls watched as Diego and his buddies walked Ramona and the others to the auditorium for the opening assembly. Here, all their names would be read off by the assistant principal, and they’d go to their first class. In that home room, they would get their class schedules.

“You gotta sit in the sophomore section,” Diego told them, pointing to the right of center. “We sit in the senior section.” He and his friends whooped, doing complicated handshakes.

The girls found seats together and sat down. Janet watched as Diego and his buddies walked to the front row of the center section and made the boys there move so they could sit down. That would be their spot the rest of the year. No one would take it now that he’d claimed it.

“No guy is gonna want to ask me out,” Ramona whined. “Why does he have to be like that? I’ve got the right to date who I want.”

“I think it’s sweet,” Bunny said, gazing at Diego. “And he’s so dreamy….”

“Stop that!” Ramona socked her. “He’s my brother! You just keep those Betty Thoughts to yourself.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“She means don’t be thinking you’re going to seduce Diego,” Janet said with a toss of her head. “Because he won’t look at you twice. You’re like his little sister.” She voiced what she was thinking about herself. She hadn’t realized until today how fond she was of Ramona’s older brother. She was off limits, his baby sister’s best friend. She didn’t have a chance.

The principal walked on the stage to polite applause. He gave his usual first day speech. Mr. Harper was a pretty cool guy. He was nice and he was fair. Most of the students got along well with him, unless they got on his bad side.

Mr. Patrick, the assistant principal, was the opposite. He was mean and rude, especially to the Mexican and Indian kids. He was also kind of dumb. He always mispronounced a bunch of student names when he read them off. He made mistakes with class assignments too, so the counselors would be busy for the next week, fixing his errors.

Ramona’s name was read as “Ramon A. Hernandez.” She’d been assigned boy’s PE as her first class. Mortified, she went to the office to wait her turn to get that changed to girl’s PE.

Bunny Mason was called Benny and sent to health class. Finally, it was Janet’s turn.

“Janet Yarsky,” he said, butchering her last name.

At least he hadn’t sent her somewhere embarrassing. She had to admit that Yarkowsky wasn’t the easiest name and he hadn’t done too badly. She followed her teacher to English class. That was her favorite subject. In fact, she hoped one day to be an English teacher.

The young male teacher leading the group looked like he’d be fun. He was dressed in the weirdest combination of clothing she’d ever seen. His pants were wide stripes of mustard yellow and maroon. His pullover sweater was an ugly green that reminded Janet of pond scum. The shirt was pale blue and his tie was several shades of brown. His chestnut hair was in kind of a shaggy, Beatles cut and his blue eyes sparkled with happy enthusiasm. They got to the classroom and found seats. Fortunately, some of her friends were in the class.

“Hi, I’m Mr. Whitmore and this is Tenth Grade English. In here, we’ll study literature and writing. I’m the debate coach, so we’ll be giving that a try too. Maybe some of you will find out you’d like to argue.”

“I love to argue,” one big guy up front said with a grin. He waved his fists around.

Mr. Whitmore laughed. “Not that kind of arguing. Organized debate is more civilized.”

The big guy snorted, shrugging.

“It’s easy to cut a man down with your fists,” Mr. Whitmore said quietly. “It’s a lot harder to take him down with your words. In here, you’ll learn to verbally spar.”

The rest of the morning went pretty well. Janet had a couple of classes with Ramona and Bunny, then it was lunch time. In the cafeteria, the students had unofficial areas they sat in. The geeks and nerds sat in the corner talking about chess club and speaking in Latin. The stoners took their food to the parking lot where they ate and got smoked up before going back to class. Other groups were scattered around the cafeteria, all of them occupying most of the tables.

The girls stood there with their trays wondering where to sit. A piercing whistle got their attention. Standing on a bench, Diego waved to them. Blushing, they walked over to the table. His big friends made room and the girls sat down. There were other girls there, girlfriends and wanna be’s. Some frowned at Ramona, Janet and Bunny.

“What makes you think you can sit with us?” one girl in a tight white sweater said.

Diego had his arm around her shoulders, nibbling at her ear until she spoke. His arm left her shoulders and he shoved her away. “Since it’s my baby sister and her friends, chica. You be polite to my sister.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Hooked on Love ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestPenny Hart owns and operates a fast growing coffee and music store called Caffeinated Discs. Several nights a week, a small authors group meets there for coffee, chat and writing. She’s known them all for years, but tonight, there’s a new person among them.

Loud laughter burst out in the alcove where the writers group sat. They’re a rowdy bunch. I decided to join them after I got the coffee ready.

As I started the pot, the CD changed and the louder, more strident sounds of Tomoyasu Hotei started playing. I love his song, Battle Without Honor or Humanity, which happened to be playing. I cranked it up without really thinking about it. It drowned out the laughter and other sounds in the shop. When I turned around I was surprised to see a tall, lean muscled, broad shouldered guy standing behind me on the other side of the counter. He smiled as I jumped back a little.

“Well now,” he grinned, his Southern accent strong. “I haven’t had that effect on a lady for some time. I apologize if I scared you.”

“No, I just didn’t hear you come up, over the music.”

“Good tune. Hotei has a unique style, doesn’t he?”

I giggled a little nervously. Tall, gorgeous, muscular men tend to make me feel a little self-conscious.

“Yeah, I like him a lot. Most people don’t even know who he is. I get a lot of blank stares when I mention him.”

“I’ve gotten used to the blank stares. I like all kinds of weird music.” He sat on one of the bar stools.

His hair was a sandy brown, bleached by the sun. His skin was medium tan, but looked slightly sunburned. He had pale green eyes, like jade, with a smoky gray around the outer edge. I just about fell over the counter as I stared into them. Rimmed with dark eyelashes, I thought they were the most amazing eyes I’d ever seen. He had a strong jaw, slight cleft in his chin and a great smile. He was smiling at me now, in fact he was laughing.

“Have I got something caught in my teeth?” He rubbed his front teeth with his index finger.

“No. No, I’m sorry.” I giggled, blushing like crazy. “It’s just…. No.”

I shook my head so violently that I shook some of my hair loose. I have medium length, dark chestnut brown hair that’s kind of wild and flyaway. Even in clips, with lots of mousse, it gets away from me. My eyes are practically the same color as my hair. When I get a tan, I’m sort of monochromatic.

“My name’s Kael,” he put out his hand. His fingers were long, strong and calloused.

“Penny,” I smiled a little.

I hate being so shy! I hardly can talk to a handsome man. I just about freeze up when a guy looks at me. Here was this gorgeous hunk talking to me, holding out his hand to be shaken, and I stood there like a fool. Forcing myself to do the right thing, I held out my hand. He took my fingers gallantly in his and kissed them gently. It was the sexiest kiss I’ve ever had and it wasn’t even on my lips.

His green eyes twinkled, squinting slightly as he smiled. “Pleased to meet you, Penny. Is that short for Penelope?”

“Unfortunately. I hate it.”

I wrinkled my nose and used the excuse of the coffee finishing to try and extract myself from him. He held my fingers close to his lips, not quite kissing them again.

“I don’t think it’s such a bad name. It could be Hildaguard, or Gertrude or Brunnhilde. Penelope is pretty.” He let go of my hand with an easing of his grasp.

“Thank you. Boris tells me you’re a Marine?”

“Just got out a few weeks ago.”

“Were you in the war?” I turned around with the empty coffee carafe in my hand. “Several of my friends have been over there.”

“I was in Iraq.”

“Was it awful?”

His eyes got very sad and he turned his face away from me, gazing out the dark windows to the lonely strand of beach.

“It was—beyond awful,” he murmured.

When he turned, I saw a scar on the side of his face. It ran from the corner of his left eye to the area under his left ear. It was very thin and light, but looked relatively new.

My hand reached out without my thinking about it. I touched the scar, making him flinch. He didn’t quite jump away from my hand, but he looked uncomfortable for a moment.

“What happened?”

He moved away from my touch ever so slightly, but my fingers followed him of their own volition. I couldn’t let it go for some reason. I could tell it was making him uncomfortable, but I had to know.

“My buddy and I got too close to a car that blew up.”

“Part of the car did that?”

He shook his head, moving away a little more. “No,” he said so soft I could hardly hear him. “Part of my buddy.”

“Oh, God!” My fingers jerked away like I’d been shocked. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s okay.” He tried to smile, but I could see the pain in his eyes. “Really. A few decades of therapy, I’ll be over it.”

His smile and laugh were forced and I felt horrid making him to talk about something so obviously painful. I took his hand, making him look at me.

“I’m so sorry. I know it must have been the worst thing ever. I can’t even imagine what it’s like there. No one who hasn’t been can possibly understand. But if you ever want to talk about it, I’m a good listener.”

“Like a bartender, huh? You listen to customers spill their guts and open their hearts?”

I shrugged, shaking my head. “No. Mostly I make coffee and put music on the CD player. But sometimes you need someone to talk to. Even if I can’t relate to you’ve been through, I can listen.”

“Thanks,” he said quietly. “I might take you up on that sometime.”

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 2

Brand New Day coverIt’s 1975—early morning, the first day of school, and already Janet’s in a bad mood, thanks to her mother and sister.

Janet wanted to cry, but with Sookie and Mama both glaring at her, she wouldn’t let the tears come. She dressed in a fury. Angry, hurt tears burned in her eyes. She didn’t say goodbye, just grabbed her lunch she’d made the night before, and left. She slammed the door behind her, starling some birds in the trees next door.

Sookie didn’t come to the bus stop. She hadn’t expected her to. Mama didn’t want her baby girl on the bus with all the big kids, afraid she’d get hurt. It was okay that Janet had ridden the bus since kindergarten, big kids or not. The bus wasn’t good enough for Miss Sookie. It was just as well. Janet didn’t want people to know they were related.

Janet’s friends were waiting for her, all dressed in their new clothing. Janet had saved her money from her job at the A&W Drive-In, to buy her things. She looked just as fresh and nice as they did.

Her pink T-shirt had big, fuchsia rhinestone lips on the front. Her hot pants were denim. Her long, tanned legs made the other girls jealous, as did her full lips and black, curly hair.

They didn’t know the Secret Janet carried inside her. If they did, she wondered how they’d act. She told everyone there was Indian blood way back, but that wasn’t it. Her daddy was half black, but didn’t look it. He’d passed for years as a white man. Wasn’t until Janet was born, a nice cafe au lait, with kinky curls, that her mama suspected.

That was how it started. Her Southern born mama couldn’t forgive him for being black. When Janet was five, he left them. They moved from Texas to Nebraska. Mama hooked up with some guy, and Sookie was born about a year later.

Mama had kin in Nebraska, which was why they’d moved there. Kin that didn’t know she’d married a black man. She could hide her shame away, forget about him. Only every day, Janet was a reminder.

The bus pulled up and stopped. There was the usual tussle to see who got on first. Today, as always, the big boys won. They hopped on and took seats at the back. The girls let the little kids go on before them. Mr. Prost, the driver, told them thank you.

“I believe you girls have all grown at least three inches apiece,” he said after greeting them each by name. “High school now. My, my.”

Mr. Prost had been their bus driver as long as Janet could remember. He was a nice, grandfatherly type. Janet loved Mr. Prost, and wished he was her granddaddy. Mama’s father was a mean old cuss who smoked and drank too much. She’d never met her father’s father. He was the black sheep and kept well hidden.

Bunny, her friend since second grade, bounced in the seat beside her. “I can’t wait to get to high school! Betty says the boys are real cute!”

Betty was Bunny’s older sister. Janet suspected she was boy crazy and had told Bunny often enough.

“Not the ones we know,” she said, cutting her eyes at the back of the bus.

“Those are sophomore boys!” Betty rolled her eyes. “I mean juniors and seniors.”

“What are those older boys gonna want with us?” Janet asked. “We’re little kids compared to them.”

“I know! They’re men!” Bunny said with a dreamy sigh.

Janet made a disgusted noise. Come to think, Bunny was as boy crazy as her sister. The difference was, Bunny didn’t sleep around like Betty did…. Yet. She was a little afraid her friend was going to follow in her sister’s footsteps.

“Junior high is behind us now,” Bunny continued. “We’re not around boys anymore. We’re gonna be seeing real men every day.”

“They’re no more men than that bunch back there,” Janet said.

“They aren’t men until they’re eighteen,” Ramona said. “That’s what my father says.”

“Betty says they’re real men once they make it with a girl,” Bunny contradicted with a toss of her head.

“Well, she’s the expert,” Ramona said dryly.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bunny demanded.

“Nothing….” Ramona tossed her straight, black hair over her shoulder. “Oh, nothing….”

“Ramona Hernandez, you tell me!” Bunny growled. “What are you saying about my sister?”

“What I heard,” Ramona said, ignoring her. “What I heard was that she’s been through most of the male population. What I heard, is lots of the guys are men now because of Betty.”

“Who told you a lie like that?” Bunny screeched.

Ramona flounced off the bus, ignoring Bunny’s protestations. Janet knew Ramona’s source was her older brother, Diego, who had more experience than just about any guy around. He never talked about it, but the girls did. Many of them had fallen for the dark haired, sloe eyed Mexican man. Janet could see the appeal, he was gorgeous. He’d only ever treated her like a sister, so she figured she didn’t stand a chance. She could admire how good looking he was from a distance.

Diego and his buddies were waiting for them at the bus loop. He drove a car and offered Ramona a ride, but she didn’t want to crowd in the car with his loud, obnoxious friends. Diego wanted it clear to every man at the school that Ramona was his baby sister. He’d taken Bunny and Janet under his protective wing as well, since they had no older brothers. He put his arms possessively around the girls as they walked in the school surrounded by his huge, male friends.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 1

Brand New Day coverBrand New Day is a little different from my usual stories. One thing which makes it unique, is the fact that it takes place in flashbacks. When it opens, the main character is in the hospital. It hops back to her past, as she remembers what brought her to this point in her life. It’s also very sad in places. I’ll try to put a tissue warning on it. And finally, there is one incidence of teenagers having sex (though it is NOT graphic by any means).

I hope you enjoy Brand New Day. I’m not entirely sure where this came from, because I’ve never experienced anything like Janet did. For some reason, the story insisted upon being told.

Lubbock, Texas. 2000

Janet May Yarkowsky lay in bed shivering from withdrawal. Whatever Tex had given her was making her crazy. She had a vague memory of events the night before. The only thing outstanding in her mind was that she’d stood there placidly as he’d threatened to kill her eldest son.

How could I do that? How could I let him threaten Danny? What if next time he didn’t just wave the gun around? What if, somehow, he finds out the truth? That Danny isn’t his. What then?

Another fit of shakes gripped her body as she huddled under the tangled covers. She had to fix this. Had to stop Tex before his hatred and drug augmented paranoia drove him to kill.

She knew Danny wouldn’t leave her like this, not forever. He left her last night because she’d been crazy, too. Standing, frozen, on the porch, staring like a zombie while Tex threatened her boys with a sawed off. Danny did the only thing he could. He took Ricky away. He called his aunt and uncle and they picked the boys up, carrying them to safety.

How did I let it get like this? She asked the wall, but it had no answer. I loved him once, didn’t I? Danny, what would you do if you knew Tex wasn’t your daddy? Would you kill him? Beat the hell out of him like he richly deserves?

She couldn’t tell him and prayed he wouldn’t find out on his own. Another man had her first. A man she loved more than her own life. But it wasn’t meant to be.

“If only….” She whispered to the four walls. “If only….”

Scottsbluff, Nebraska. August 1975

“Janet May, get your lazy butt outta that bed. NOW!”

Sookie, her baby sister, turned on the lights and threw back the covers. Janet had ducked under to get away from the blazing lights. Sookie yanked her hair trying to get the blankets off.

“Mama said get up outta that bed now!” Sookie did everything Mama said. Frequently, that was torturing Janet. “Get up now!”

“Sookie Ann, you leave me be! I still got five minutes.”

“Mama said….”

“Mama didn’t say to scream like a banshee and be a unholy terror.”

“First day of school!” Sookie yelled. “Its the FIRST DAY!”

“I know that!” Janet bellowed, sitting up in bed. “I’m awake, blast it. Leave me be.”

She threw her pillow for emphasis, clipping Sookie on the rear end. Her little sister howled like she was being killed.

“Mama!” Sookie wailed.

Their mother stormed in, on Sookie’s side—as usual.

“I hit her with a pillow,” Janet said before her mother yelled. “She turned on the light, yanked my hair, and nearly snatched me bald. Jerked back the covers like I can’t get up on my own.” Her alarm clock went off. “See? I was gonna give myself five whole minutes. I swear, Mama, y’all treat me like like a baby!”

Janet stormed out of the room and headed to the bathroom for a shower. It was hot and muggy. She wanted to be fresh her first day. She wasn’t in three minutes, hadn’t even soaped her hair, when Sookie banged on the door, yelling.

“Mama says—get out!”

“I will when I’m done!”

“Mama said now!”

“Mama can come her own self and tell me. Go away, Sookie.”

“Janet May!”

“Sookie Ann, swear to God!” She cut off the water.

Dripping and furious, she flung open the door. Sookie stood there looking smug, arms crossed over her flat, ten year old chest.

Janet shoved past her, walking toward the kitchen. “Did you send that little brat to get me?” she demanded of her mother.

“You got to catch the bus….”

“Mama, I know how to get ready. I’m fifteen.”

“First day of high school, I want to see you off.”

“I’m not a baby like Sookie! I been taking care of both of us forever!”

“There’s no need to talk to me like that.”

“There is a need! There’s been a need since Daddy left. But I was too young to know. It’s not my fault he’s gone.”

Her mother stiffened. “You saying it’s mine?”

“You’re the one he argued with, not me. Daddy loved me.”

“He loved you so much he left?”

“He told me—before he left. He told me—Girls belong with their mamas or he’d take me. He told me he loved me and he was sorry, but he had to get away.”

“So, then he just left you, huh? All alone with your mean old mama?” The tone of her voice stung more than her words.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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