First Meeting from In the Spotlight ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

Some first meetings don’t take place in person, such is the case with Cullen Fellowes and Jazz Rialto. He sees her performing at the mall with her brothers. Making the mistake of singing with her, he outs himself—which is a problem, since he’s a famous rock star. Later, Lowell, Jazz’s brother posts the video of their performance, and Cullen makes a comment.

“Did you share it around?” Jazz asked.

“Yes, Mom. I shared it everywhere,” Lowell replied.

“Good. How did you label it?”

“The Jazz Trio sings with Cullen Fellowes.”

“You did not! He’ll be so pissed!”

“Wanna bet? Look who the first comment is from.” He pointed to the screen, reading it aloud. “Great concert! Wish it hadn’t ended in such a weird way, I wanted to come up and say hi. You all are great, and I had fun singing with you. Sang my damn song better than me! CWF

The comment was posted under the name The Cullenator, with a picture of his sassy grin, blue eyes twinkling.

“Did you reply?” She sat next to him once more.

“That comment, big sis, is directed at you.”

“Then move, and let me answer!” She grabbed the laptop, nearly knocking him off his chair.

“Don’t be lame. Let me read it before you post.”


Thinking for a moment, she started typing. Lowell read over her shoulder.

“Mmm. No.”

“What? That’s a great response.”

Mr. Fellowes, my brothers and I enjoyed your participation at our concert. We hope you can join us again. You sound like you’re replying to a business letter. That sucks completely.” He deleted her message, typing one of his own.

“No! You didn’t post— Lowell!”

He’d typed: Cullen, thanks for the duet. Let’s do it again sometime. You’re super hot.

“You bastard! I can’t believe you did that! Oh, my God, you bastard!” She was in the process of pummeling him, when her phone rang. “Behave!” she cautioned. Her phone was the official business line. If the number wasn’t on her list, she treated it like a business call.

“Thank you for calling the Jazz Trio, Jazz speaking—”

“So, I’m hot, huh?” Cullen’s voice sounded over the phone, a soft laugh followed.

“Oh, God,” she whispered, hand over her eyes.

“You’re supposed to say that later, while we have sex. Right now, it’s completely inappropriate.”

“My brother wrote that. The drummer. The youngest. He can’t be trusted. My reply was—”

“Boring,” Lowell said loudly.

“Professional,” Jazz amended.

“So—boring,” Cullen said with a loud laugh. “I don’t like boring, or professional. I’m a relaxed kind of guy.”

“Why were you there?”

“At the mall? Sometimes, I like to be—boring,” he confessed. “Honestly, I like to connect with people. Growing up rich, being a rock star, it’s easy to forget what it’s like. Your music, your voice. That makes people take notice. Sorry I spoiled the ending of your concert, with my precipitous escape.”

It took her a second for her mind to flip into high vocabulary mode. Laughing softly, she cradled the phone. “It’s okay. Not being you, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be mobbed.”

“Not quite as entertaining as it might seem. I was lucky, though. Two of the security guys helped me out.”

“Who was the guy who got arrested?”

“How did you know?” he sounded genuinely puzzled.

“My brothers saw, as they drove by.”

“Tell him I filmed it,” Lowell nudged her.

“No!” she whispered.

“No? What? I didn’t ask anything,” Cullen said.

“I was telling Lowell no. He’s like a little kid, bugging me. Go away, Lowell!” She shoved at her brother.

He didn’t move, so she trotted up the stairs to her room.

“I was calling, partly to thank you for the compliment, and partly to ask you to come to the concert this Saturday.”

“Oh, gosh, I can’t!” Her face hit her palm. “I have a prior engagement.”


“I can’t. It’s my great-grandmother’s ninety-ninth birthday. The entire clan is meeting up for a party. We’re hoping she’ll make it to a hundred, but you never know.”

“Oh, no sure. That’s far more important. Ninety-nine, huh? I didn’t think I’d even make it to thirty, that’s pretty cool.”

“Why not?”

“Why not—what?”

“Make it to thirty. You’re not sick, are you?”

His laughter rang out. “Do I look sick? I thought I looked hot.”

“You don’t. You do! Just—” She paused. “Are conversations with you always this difficult?”

“I’d love to say no, but probably. My brother says I don’t filter, and my sister says I don’t have an off switch. Both are correct.” He chuckled softly, sobering somewhat. “I didn’t think I’d make it to thirty, because I don’t live an exemplary life. I drive too fast, like to jump out of planes, love free climbing, and want to snow board in the Alps.”

“That last doesn’t sound so dangerous.”

“It is, if you jump out of a helicopter.”

“Oh. Wow. You can do that?”

“Yeah. You can do that.”

She paused so long, he thought she’d lost connection.


“Yeah, hi. I was just thinking about all those things. Dangerous. Expensive.”

“They are. Both.”

“I can’t even dream of having that kind of money.”

“Actually, you can. You have talent—all three of you. You sang my song better than I do, and I wrote the damn thing. Part of my reason for this call, besides inviting you to the concert, I wanted to see if you and your brothers are available to go on the road in a few months. We’re doing a tour of the greater northeast, and Canada. Specifically Newfoundland/ Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec, and all those funky-do islands that I can’t remember the names of. You’d need your passports, and whatever instruments you prefer. Everything else provided.”

Her gasp left her breathless. “Are you serious right now?”

“Yes. This isn’t just a play to get in your pants.”


“Though, I would like that. But I can wait. The offer is completely serious. If you say yes, I’ll call our manager, and have him talk to yours.”

“Actually, I’m the manger for now. We can’t afford a regular one.”

“Then, you need a manager.”

“Yeah, but….”

“Call this number, and tell her I sent you.” He rattled off a phone number.

“Wait, hold on. Let me get a pen and paper.”

“Waiting, ma’am!”

She scrabbled around, finding what she needed. “Okay, go.”

He repeated the number. “Got it?”

“Yes. Who is this?”

“Babs Goldblum.”

“We can’t afford her! She’s the best agent in the business!”

“Call her. Talking is free. Mention my name, and that we want you on our tour. I guarantee she’ll say yes.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 18

Janet has a very frank conversation with her mother, talking about her relationship with Diego, and her mother and father’s marriage.

“Would you have married him, if you’d known at the time what he was?”

Her mother shrugged, shaking her head. “I don’t know. But there’s never been a man who has loved me like Evander.”

“But would you?”

Her mother smiled, tears running down her face. “In a heartbeat! You take that love you’ve got and hold on tight with both hands, Janet May. That boy loves you and you love him, I can see it when you say his name. But you take it slow, and you make him work hard to win you. Don’t give up easy. And don’t you sleep around. You stick with one man, and your life will be a lot happier.”

Janet nodded. This wasn’t the conversation she’d expected from her mother. Mama was much more prone to hateful words, and cold shoulders. While her mother was in this mellow mood, Janet asked a question that burned in her heart.

“Mama, why do you hate me so?”

Her mother burst into tears, grabbing her daughter in her arms. “Janet May, I don’t hate you! I just look at you and I see your daddy, and all I lost. I see the mean way I’ve been, and I can’t make it stop. I’m broke, and I’m tired, and I know if I’d stayed with your daddy, my life wouldn’t be so harsh. But I made up my mind, and I did what I did. I can’t take it back.”

“But what if you could? What if he’d take us back?”

Her mother smiled. “Can’t live your life on what if, baby.” Sniffing loudly, she wiped her eyes with her fingers.

Janet got her some toilet paper from the tiny bathroom so she could wipe her eyes and blow her nose.

“Now, we need to find something to carry up so your sister won’t have a snit wondering what we left her out of.” She looked around and found an ugly Hawaiian doll that danced if you touched it. “Think she’d like that for her room?”

“That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. She’ll love it.”

Laughing, they walked upstairs and presented Sookie with the doll. She took it to her room and stayed there all evening long.

Saturday, Janet got through her shift at the drive-in on automatic. Her mind was completely occupied with thoughts of Diego. Even thinking his name made her heart flutter. By the time her shift ended, she was anxious to see him.

At 3:02, she changed from her uniform into a new outfit. She slid on her new Levi’s straight leg, button up jeans and pulled a lime green T-shirt over her head. She switched her work shoes for a pair of leather sandals and put on a pair of plastic hoops that matched her shirt. A quick brush up on her makeup, and she was ready.

Diego walked in just as she returned to the restaurant. He took her hands, smiling.

“Is it okay if I kiss you?”

She glanced at her boss. He didn’t look like he was in a very lenient mood. There weren’t any rules about kissing someone when she was off duty, but why make him mad? She shook her head slightly. They walked out to Diego’s car. Before opening the door, he pressed his long, muscular body against hers, placing his hands on either side. The kiss, when it came, was nothing like any he’d given her before. It was full of desire, love and animalistic power. It was frightening and titillating all at once.

Janet sighed, relaxing against the car as her hands went around his waist. He made a noise in his throat that sounded like a growl. Janet tried not to laugh, but she was nervous all ready. His behavior made her more so. The laughter bubbled out, forcing them apart. He gazed down at her with a slightly glazed expression.

“What?” he mumbled.

“What was that noise?”

“What noise?”

“That one you made just now?” She imitated it.

“I did that?” He laughed, putting his arm around her shoulders, as he flopped against the car. “I have no idea. Maybe I was purring.”

She giggled, meeting his penetrating gaze. “Purring? Like a cat?”

“Why not? They purr when they’re content. Why can’t a man?”

“That’s pretty weird, Diego.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 17

Janet’s mother gets home and is actually nice to her.

Janet knew that she would take off her uniform and have a shower before dinner. She set the cornbread on a rack to cool and checked the chicken. It looked perfect. Oven off, she stirred the butter beans and mashed the potatoes. She put plates in the oven to warm and made sure the table was set.

Her mother came out of the shower and changed into her house dress before coming to the table. Janet called Sookie and they sat down to dinner together. Her mother offered grace and they ate in silence a few minutes. When her mother seemed in the best frame of mind, Janet broached her final subject.

“I’m going to the movie on Saturday.”

“Really? With Ramona?”

“Actually, I’m going with her brother. Diego asked me out.”

“Diego. Asked you out?”

“Yes, Mom. It’s okay, isn’t it? We’ve known them for ages.”

Her mother didn’t say anything. She didn’t lose her temper or frown.

“You’re sure this is what you want?”

Kind of a weird question.

“Yes, Mom. I really like him. He’s the nicest boy I know and he’s liked me a long time. He just didn’t think it was appropriate to ask me out before I got in high school.”

Her mother nodded. She said nothing for a long time.

“I think it’s lovely,” she said quietly. “Diego is a nice boy. He’s very bright, focused. He’ll go far.”

“Yes, I think so too. This doesn’t mean we’re getting married or anything.” Janet laughed casually.

“I think it’s wonderful,” her mother said with genuine warmth. “I’m happy for you.”


“Sookie, go clean up. Janet, I need some help with something in the storage room.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Janet cleared her dishes and they went to the basement.

The house was two levels, one above ground, one below. The finished basement had a bathroom, two bedrooms, the utility room and a large, paneled family room. Janet had the larger basement bedroom. The second, smaller bedroom was the storage room. It was crammed full of boxes and bins that her mother moved around periodically, trying to organize, but it never came to much.

She walked in, shutting the door behind them, and sat on one of the boxes, indicating that Janet should sit, too.

“I know you know about how your body works,” she said calmly. “And you’ve learned about sex in school. But you don’t know about boys, not really. This is your first real boyfriend. Are you sure this is what you want?”

“Mom, I really care about him so much!” She didn’t dare say she loved him, her mother wouldn’t believe her.

“A man only takes no for an answer so long,” her mother continued. “And then he expects certain things.”

Janet nodded, knowing where this was going. “I know, Mom. Diego won’t force me into anything I’m not ready for.”

“It’s that I’m worried about,” her mother said, touching her cheek tenderly. “He’s a handsome boy, very sweet, but he’s still a man. We’re going to start you on birth control pills. I’ll buy you condoms.”

“Mama!” Janet was horrified.

“I’m not condoning this, I want that understood. And you’d better not ever do a thing in this house but kiss him.” The stern mother was back, gaining power. “But I understand about being swept off your feet,” her mother returned to the uncharacteristic calm. “Your father, despite his faults, was a handsome, desirable man, and he lit a fire in me that I haven’t had before or since. He was my first,” she mused. “And the best. I loved him so much….”

“Why did you leave him? I mean, I know…. But was that really all?”

“It wasn’t because of his heritage,” her mother said, stiffening. “He lied to me. For years, he lied.”

“Was being married to—to a man like him, so awful?”

“It was the lie, Janet May. The flat out lie that we lived. If he lied about that, what else had he lied about? Could I really trust him anymore?” She shrugged, tears falling.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Indian Summer Revisited ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

I am a big fan of first meetings. These often set the tone for the relationship, and tell us a lot about how the couple will interact with one another later in the story. Although they get off to a somewhat rough start, Malin Dimas and Carina Enriques-Deza find that they are mutually interested. Carina is an art student who loves photography. She’s so absorbed in her projects, she doesn’t always pay attention where she’s going, particularly if she’s in a rush.

Class ended, but Carina hardly noticed. She had another class, then she had to work. Her less than glamorous job was waiting tables at a small outdoor restaurant on Hypolita Street.

Rushing to her class, she neatly avoided running into anyone until she got to the staircase. Going from the bright sun to the sudden shade, she was still wearing her sunglasses. She ran headlong into a tall, broad shouldered body. Her bag went one way, her body the other, while the strong male hardly moved. He did grunt, her elbow having caught him inadvertently in the midsection.

Carina sprawled on the ground, cursing in Spanish and English as the man tried to help her up. Hardly looking at him, she was trying to find the things that had fallen out of her bag.

Her phone had landed in a shallow puddle. Her pens and lip gloss were nowhere to be found. A well calloused, long fingered hand helped her up, brushing her off as a pleasant tenor voice apologized for running her down.

“I’m so sorry. I got sun dazzled I guess,” he said quietly, handing her the lip gloss and pens. “I got in this dark and I couldn’t see a damn thing. Sorry about that.” His soft Southern accent was warm and welcoming.

Carina looked up at him. He had black hair and dark brown eyes. Her own jade green eyes locked with his for a moment and she smiled.

“It’s okay. I couldn’t see either. Environmental hazard living in Florida.”

“Beg pardon?” He looked confused.

“Sunshine,” she pointed skyward.

“Well, it is the Sunshine State, right?”

“Yeah. Sorry, I really need to run. I’ve got class.”

“Oh, sure. Sorry again.”

“No problem. Sorry I elbowed your gut.”

“Missed the nuts,” he said with a grin.

Carina giggled as she trotted up the stairs. The young man walked with her, taking the steps two at a time.

“I bet your girlfriend will be grateful for that,” she said as he opened the stairwell door for her.

“Don’t have one, but I’m mighty happy you missed ’em. I’ve grown a bit attached to them over the years.”

With a sidelong glance, she eased past him as he held the door for her. He stood by it, leaning on the edge, gazing down at her. There was barely enough room to slip through, but she did because she was in a hurry. Waving to him, she dodged in her classroom as the instructor was about to close the door.

“Carina, nice you could join us.”

“Sorry. I fell,” she explained as she walked past him.

“You okay?” Those were the last words that made their way into the hallway.

Malin Dimas shouldered his backpack and walked downstairs. He would have used any excuse to walk that girl to her class. He didn’t have another class until eleven, so he headed to the nearest coffee shop, got a large double shot and wandered to the Plaza in front of Government House. Sitting on the steps of the Slave Market, he gazed out over the town.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 16

Diego leaves and Sookie confronts Janet about the relationship.

“Were you spying on me? You little….”

“You gonna have sex with him?”

“Sookie Ann! How dare you! He’s my boyfriend. That doesn’t automatically mean…. and how do you know about that anyway? You’re ten!”

“I’m not stupid. I do watch soap operas.” Sookie rolled her eyes.

“I’m not talking to you. Do your homework.” Janet headed to the kitchen.

Sookie followed her like a pestering little dog. “I’m telling Mom that he kissed you.”

“Go ahead. He’s my boyfriend, he has the right to kiss me.” She didn’t stop what she was doing, her back to her little sister.

“He’s Ramona’s brother, does she know?” She was trying every tactic she could to get under Janet’s skin.

“Mona knows all about it. She’s thrilled.”

“But Mom doesn’t know. I think I’ll tell her. I bet she’d be real interested.”

“Go ahead,” Janet replied. “And I’ll tell her who really broke into the shed and stole her bike. Then, maybe I’ll tell her you take money from her purse all the time, so you can buy a soda at the corner store. And maybe I’ll tell her about the time you….”

“You wouldn’t! You can’t!” Sookie stamped her foot.

Janet turned on her slowly, calmly. “Maybe it’s time Mom knew that you aren’t the perfect little girl she thinks you are. Perhaps I should enlighten her.”

“She won’t believe you! She’ll believe me.”

Janet smiled secretively. “Oh, she’ll believe me, squirt. I can be very persuasive.”

“You can’t! She won’t!”

Janet shrugged, going back to her work.

“I hate you! You’re the meanest sister ever!” Sookie balled up her fist to hit Janet in the back.

Janet saw her sister in the window over the sink. She turned around in a flash, leaning menacingly toward her.

“Go ahead, half pint. Hit me. I dare you. I won’t get you back right away, you misspent, addle brained, pipsqueak….” Janet lowered her voice an octave, dropping into a harsh, croaking whisper. “But you have to sleep sometime…..” She did an evil laugh.

Sookie screamed and ran to her room, slamming the door. She locked it and pulled a piece of furniture across the door. Janet continued to laugh, enjoying the feeling of power she had over her little sister. Of course, she might pay for it later, but for now, she held all the cards.

Janet planned to tell her mother about Diego after dinner. She fixed a roast chicken and all the side dishes her mother liked best. She even baked fresh cornbread, because her mother loved it.

When Ilene Yarkowsky walked in the house, she actually smiled. “It smells wonderful in this house! What’s the occasion?”

“Do we need one to have a nice meal? I got the chicken on sale, so I thought we’d have roast tonight, then use the rest for chicken and dumplings tomorrow. What you think?”

“Oh, good idea. And boil down the bones for broth.”

“Of course! Learned that from you and Nana. Don’t waste a lick!” she said just like her grandmother.

Her mother smiled again, hugging her for the first time in ages. “That’s my Mom! Did you make cornbread?” She asked as the timer dinged. “I’ll get it.” She took the cast iron skillet from the oven, inhaling deeply. “You trying to soften me up?” She asked warily.

“No, what a thing to say. It’s a little celebration. End of the first week. And I got a place on the speech team doing a dramatic reading, and a solo in chorus.”

“Really? How wonderful! You’re gonna go far with that,” her mother said, surprising her further.

“Where’s Sookie?”

“Hiding in her room.”

“Hiding? Whatever for?”

“Who knows? Maybe she watched Dark Shadows again. Or Psycho. That shower scene scared the bejeezus outta me for weeks. I didn’t even want to shower by myself downstairs.” She laughed at her own silly fear.

“Well, serves her right then,” Ilene said, wandering to her bedroom.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 15

Janet and Diego are kissing at her house, when Sookie arrives. Mrs. Thompson tells her that Lonnie is sick, and might not be in school Monday.

Mrs. Thompson ruffled Sookie’s hair. “Can’t leave my best travel buddy stranded.”

“If there’s ever a problem, please call me at school. I can make arrangements….”

“Sweetie, it’ll be a cold day in hell when I can’t do a favor for a neighbor. Your mom works wicked hours, and you can’t drive yet. I don’t mind. I know you’d do the same for me.”

“I sure would. If you ever need to drop Lonnie here after school, let me know.”

“Thanks, honey. I’ll let your mom know about Monday. You might have to pick her up, if your mom can’t make other arrangements.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

“You gonna introduce me to your young man?”

Janet blushed. “I’m sorry. I thought you knew each other. This is my boyfriend, Diego Hernandez. This is my neighbor, Mrs. Thompson.”

“Nice to meet you,” they said in chorus, shaking hands.

“I hope Lonnie feels better soon,” Janet said.

Janet closed the door, leaning against it. “God, I hope she doesn’t get sick. I’m the one who has to stay with her, if she does. Mom can’t take the time off.”

“We’ll figure out something. I bet Mom would watch her.”

“I can’t ask your mother to do that for me….”

“Yeah, you can. You’ve been Mona’s friend forever. And you’re the woman I….”

“Shh,” Janet cautioned. “Little ears,” she whispered.

“Sorry,” he replied just as quietly. “Don’t forget. Tomorrow….”

“I can’t forget something that special. Our first real date.”

He gave her a last kiss before leaving. “I’ll call later.”

“How late can you stay out?” she asked abruptly.

“Tonight? Eleven.”

“Me too. Want to come by after the Hell Spawn goes to bed?”

“I shouldn’t….”

“Why not?” She couldn’t hide her disappointment.

“Cause, nighttime, a nearly empty house, beds…. I’m gonna get all the wrong ideas,” he whispered, tracing the line of her breast with one fingertip.

Janet swallowed her disappointment. “I didn’t think of that. Sorry.”

“No, I am. I’m a guy, that’s how we think. I’m so hot for you I can hardly stand it. I’d turn into a caveman and fornicate your brains out.” Diego nipped her lower lip.

“I’d just keep telling you no.” Janet tried to play tough, knowing it was an act.

“Only so long that works. When the primal takes over, that’s it. I’m unstoppable—and you won’t want to stop me anyway.”

“Sure of your charms.” She shoved him playfully away.

Diego took a step back, grinning. “You have no idea. Some women have found me particularly charming.”

“How many women?” She withdrew slightly, pouting.

He blinked. “Mona asked me that too. What’s the deal? So I’ve dated a few girls, got some experience. Is that a crime?”

“No. It’s just that girls talk, D. They talk a lot….”

“Ten,” he said quietly. “Only ten. I’ve dated more than that, but I swear, I haven’t been to bed with them all.”

“That seems like a lot,” she said, rather hurt by his honesty.

“That’s only five girls a year,” he complained. “That’s not that many.”

“I suppose not.” She still wasn’t convinced.

“Do we have to argue about this?”

She shook her head.

“Good, cause I don’t want to argue. I do need to get going,” he said. He gave her one last, quick kiss. “Carlos is visiting. I promised to spend some time with him.”

“Tell him I said hi.”

“I’ll do that.” He kissed her hand and left.

She closed the door behind him with a sigh.

“So, are you dating him now?” Sookie asked loudly from the hallway.

“What if I am?”

“Does Mom know?”

Janet didn’t answer.

“I bet she doesn’t. I bet she has no clue he’s kissing you in the living room.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Epiphany from Bank on Love a Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

Sometimes, 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. I’ve decided to call these Epiphanies and I’ll be sharing them in and among the First Meetings.

“Thank you for the meal. I hadn’t even thought about lunch.”

“I bet you had breakfast. I imagine you have a perfect omelet every morning.”

“You think so?” She giggled, rolling her eyes. “Toast and coffee. I’m not terribly domestic, either. I have six types of crackers, some cheese and three bottles of wine. Oh, and a loaf of bread from the bakery downstairs.”

“We’re pathetic. Though you do have more in your larder than I do. I have the essentials, coffee, creamer, sugar—and beer.”

Violet laughed, tossing back her head. Some of her satay fell out of her mouth, landing on her face. Claude wiped her cheek with his thumb, licking it off with the pointy tip of his tongue. Violet’s breath caught in her throat. Why was that the sexiest thing a man had ever done around her? Probably because he was the sexiest man she knew. He could be shaving and still look hot and studly. His coffee brown eyes were ringed with the blackest lashes she’d ever seen. One side of his mouth quirked up before the other, every time he smiled.

“Do I have something on my face?” He wiped with the back of his hand.

“No. Sorry. I just—why are you here?”

“I brought lunch.”

“I mean—do you know what I’m asking?” She squinted, hoping she didn’t have to supply words, because there weren’t any.

He touched her cheek. “It felt like the right time. In case you haven’t noticed, Miss Masgay, I happen to like you—just a little bit.” He held his finger and thumb an inch or so apart, then let them drift further apart. “For a while now.”

“I noticed.” She did the same thing with her fingers. “A little bit.”

“Go out with me,” he blurted. Blushing slightly, he dropped his chin. “Way to make it sound like an order…. Would you, Violet Masgay, agree to go out with me tonight?”

“Where did you have in mind, Claude Meredith?”

“There’s an amazing street band playing in the plaza. Or, if that fails to entice, a very cool laser lights show at the planetarium at nine.”

“That sounds fun. I’m very picky about the music I listen to, though. What’s playing?”

He whipped out his phone and looked it up. Holding it up so she could see the screen, he pointed to it. “There’s the playlist. Does it appeal?”

“It’s like they looked at my Pandora and copied it—in order. Honestly, I listen to these songs all the time.”

“If you want something different….”

“No. I’m thrilled. I listen to them because they’re great songs. I’m a music freak. I’m a sucker for a sax player. Or a bass player. Or—”

“I think I should take up an instrument, so you’re a sucker for me.”

“You don’t need the help. You’re hot and sexy all on your own.”

It was his turn to laugh and hers to blush.

“Did you mean to admit that?”

“What do you think? I’d love to blame it on alcohol, but I haven’t had any.”

“I think you’re beautiful and sexy, so we’re even.”

“Why now? We’ve worked together over two years.”

“Because of your rule about not dating men you work with. And I understand that. But when I opened that door, and you flung yourself into my arms, sobbing, I knew I had to make a move. Only so long a man can look at what he wants, and not go for it.”

“I’m glad you did.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 14

At lunch the next day, Diego announces that he and Janet are a couple. Tossing her head, Trina accidentally gets her hair in Raul’s mouth.

Raul laughed louder, leaning over to nibble on her neck. He mumbled something that Janet didn’t hear. Trina elbowed his ribs, blushing.

“Ready for class?” she asked Janet.

“Yeah.” Janet hopped up.

Diego joined them. “I’ll head that way.”

“Okay, we’ll let you,” Trina said with a sly grin.

She left them behind, heading into the auditorium. Diego caught the door, slipping in after her, dragging Janet with him. He pulled the door shut behind them, surprising her with a kiss.

“I’ve been dying to do that all day. I can’t stay long, or I’m gonna be late.” He took one more quick kiss before pulling her back into the hallway.

Laughing, Janet jogged to her class. Diego took off at a dead run for his. She had the feeling he was going to be very late, but she knew he didn’t care. They met up in chorus and she asked him.

“I was, but no big deal. It’s not like I’m gonna flunk if I’m late. We’ll just have to leave lunch a little earlier Monday so I can get my fix.”

“You make it sound like a drug.”

“Better than a drug, and I’m totally addicted.”

He wouldn’t kiss her in front of all these people, but Janet knew that he wanted too. They could wait, they’d have to.

After school, Bunny and Ramona told Diego they intended to ride with Betty, to Bunny’s house.

“You sure? Cause I can drop you.”

“No, Janet needs to go by the store. We’ll head to Bunny’s. She’s going to show me her new terrarium.”

Diego frowned, pursing his lips. “Okay…. What’s that?”

“It’s for plants,” Bunny replied.

“If you’re sure.”

“See you later, big brother.” Ramona waved to Janet.

“They set us up,” Janet said, laughing. “That was sweet.”

“I don’t know if I should be grateful or very, very afraid,” Diego said as they walked to his car with their arms around one another. “Did you need to go to the store?”

“No. It can wait until Sunday.”

“Cool….” He drove rapidly to her house and pulled up in the driveway.

“Want a cold drink?”

He nodded. “No. But I do want to come in.”


The second the door was closed behind them, he kissed her. Cupping her face in his hands, he teased her lips apart, probing her mouth gently but adamantly. Somewhat taken aback by the strength of his desire, she took a step away from him.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I know you’re not experienced. I know you’re not ready…. But I really—am being an asshole. I’m sorry.” He stepped away from her.

“I’m not experienced. And I’m not ready yet…. But I will be. And when I am, I want it to be you.” She took his face in her hands, pulling him to her.

He laughingly complied. “God, I love you, Janet. I’ve loved you since we were kids. Only I never thought….”

“I know,” she whispered. “Me too.”

They kissed until they heard a car pull up. It was Mrs. Thompson dropping off Sookie. Instead of just letting her out, she came up to the house with her. Janet dashed to the door, opening it wide.

“Hi, is there a problem?”

“No, it’s fine. It’s just I’m not sure that Lonnie’s going to be in school on Monday. He’s not feeling too well. I picked him up at noon.”

“Thanks so much for getting Sookie anyway. That was really nice of you.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 13

Brand New Day coverDiego and Janet kiss for the first time. Ramona, who is waiting in the car, warns them when Sookie gets home. Later, Diego calls her.

Janet took the phone, sitting at the kitchen counter. Sookie wandered into her room, but Janet suspected she was eavesdropping.


“Hey, it’s me,” Diego said. “Sookie’s got a real phone presence.”

“I know. She could work for the phone company.”

There was a longish pause. Janet thought maybe he’d hung up.


“I’m here. Sorry. I thought maybe you’d keep talking.” He laughed at himself. “I didn’t really call with a reason—except I wanted to hear your voice. That makes me sound like an idiot. Forget I said that.”

“No, it’s sweet. Thank you. Do you really want to be my boyfriend?” She said very quietly.

“Yeah, of course I do. I wouldn’t have asked you otherwise. I really like you, Janet. I didn’t realize until yesterday, just how much.”

“I like you too,” she said softly. “More than I ever thought.”

“I’m glad, cause I’d feel like a real goob if you didn’t.”

“You’re still a goob,” Janet teased.

“Oh, thanks!” He laughed.

Janet heard a muffled man’s voice in the background.

“Dammit, sorry. My brother needs the phone. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Bye, Diego.”

“Bye, Janet.”

He wanted badly to tell her he loved her, but that wouldn’t be his best move. Instead, he hung up and gave the phone to his brother.

Carlos apologized. “I forgot to call my girl today. I heard you talking to Janet and remembered. She’s gonna be freaking.”

“No, it’s okay. So, a new girl, huh?” He punched is brother as he dialed the phone.

“Ow! Yeah, she’s pretty cool. You’d like her. I think I’m gonna…. Hey, baby. It’s me….”

Diego wandered outside. His father sat on the front porch smoking a cigarette.

“So, you and Janet, huh?” He smiled, nodding. “I’m proud of you, son.”

“Really? What for?”

“For making a commitment.”

“We’re just dating, Dad. We’re not getting married.”

His father chuckled. “I know. But this is the one. This is the girl you’ll end up with.”

“I hope so. She’s really special to me.”

His father clapped him on the back. “You need to head to bed, son. It’s getting late.”

Diego nodded. “Night, Dad.”

His father nodded and smiled, taking a long drag on his cigarette.

Janet sat by the phone a long time before deciding to go to bed. When she lay down, she could feel Diego’s lips on hers, caressing them. The touch of his hands sent thrills down her spine, making her shiver with delight.

Her dreams were highly erotic, though vague. She knew the mechanics of sex, but nothing more than she’d learned in health class. She was aware of the need for birth control, and that the girl was supposed to keep saying no until she was married, but she also knew she had no intention of saying no forever. She cared about Diego and he made her feel special. His tender kisses warmed her heart, filling in the cold, empty places that riddled it when her father left.

“If he wants to…. If he asks me, I’m not gonna say no.”

The next morning, Ramona and Diego arrived at 7:30 as planned. They picked up Bunny and headed to school. Diego gave Janet a quick kiss before they went into the building and he walked her to class, holding her hand.

At lunch, they sat together with their friends around them. In their own little world, they hardly noticed anyone else. Trina burst into their private bubble.

“So, are you two officially dating now?” She leaned forward, arms on the table.

Diego laughed. “Yes, Trina. We’re a couple. Got a problem with that?”

“Not at all, I was just dying to know. I’m glad to have that decided. Now I can quit wondering, and get on with my life.” She tossed her hair, catching Raul in the face.

He laughed, spitting her hair out. “Baby, if you want my attention, there’s other things you can do.”

“I thought you needed a mouthful, babe. Sorry.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from How Original ~ A Love in the City Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestAlthough Joy and Nathan aren’t the main love interest in this novel, the other two already know one another. This is a first meeting for Joy and Nathan, so I decided to include it. Nathan is an actor, who is staring in a TV show with Carl. Joy is the younger sister of Carl’s son-in-law. It’s Carl’s birthday, and they are all going out to dinner.

Join us for dinner?” Autumn invited Nathan.

If it’s not an imposition, thank you.”

Not at all,” Ernie replied. “Auntie Joy will be joining us,” he told Mimi.

Yay, Auntie Joy!” she hopped up and down.

My sister,” Ernie explained. “She couldn’t get to the game, so she invited us to dinner after.”

She won’t mind?”

Ernie’s eyes traveled from the top of Nathan’s head to his feet, then back up to his face. “Nope.”

I hope Auntie Joy is single,” he replied.

She is. And a fan. She’ll love meeting you.”

I look forward to it.”

Dinner was across town at a blues club called Charlie’s Tavern. An unprepossessing building from the outside, it had hosted blues bands from around the world. Fantastic music poured forth from the open doors and windows. The parking lot was jammed full. Luckily, the business next door was closed for the day, and allowed after hours parking. They were able to find places next to one another.

Auntie Joy was waiting on the porch, waving at her family. Her eyes nearly popped from her head when she saw Nathan.

Ohmigod! When Ernie said someone was joining us, I didn’t know—I wasn’t expecting! Oh, Wow! Mr. Crocker, I’m such a huge fan!” She took his hand in both of hers. “Such—a huge—!”

Not so huge,” he corrected with a dazzling smile. “You’re a little, bitty thing.”

Devoted,” she whispered. “Wow.”

Let’s not stand on the porch all night,” Ernie prompted. “I guess the rest of us don’t rate a welcome? We haven’t seen you in six months, Sis.”

She gave enthusiastic hugs and kisses all around, doing her best not to gape at Nathan again.

I’m so sorry. I know I’m acting like a star struck tween. I’ve been a fan since I was one.”

So, five years?” he teased.

We share a birthday,” she gasped.

No kidding? I never met a birthday twin before. Surely you’re younger.”

Joy shook her head, auburn curls bouncing in counterpoint. “Same year. Were you born here?”

No. A little town in Texas, called Dripping Springs, in the Hill Country.”

I want to hear all about it.”

© 2020 Dellani Oakes