Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 51 by Dellani Oakes

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

“They offered scholarships to girls on the golf team. In return for—favors. Special party favors,” he said quietly, the disgust evident in his voice.

Deirdre looked at the picture and saw the pain and grief in the girls’ eyes. They tried to smile, but it was obvious that none of them wanted to be there.

“Bullock—persuaded the girls to participate at the parties. This young lady,” he tapped Fonda’s face. “Was pregnant with Bullock’s child. He made her abort.”

“Where are her parents? I know her! That’s Fonda Hart. And that’s Inez Westerman. We went to school with their parents. They play golf with Fred! Does he know?”

“I’m sure he doesn’t. Fred isn’t an insider and he’s made it clear he has no interest in it. He put another picture on top. This one featured Troy Intriago, Jim Butcher and Fred’s boss, Mona Colfer.

“Not them, too! This is sex trafficking! How does this go on? How are they not caught?”

“There are, obviously, some very influential people involved. We believe that Wendy was going to use her knowledge of this to get money to finance her lawsuit against the adoptive parents. She wanted Rowan back, wanted to make a life for her. Blackmail is a very dangerous game, especially when the players are all high ranking members of society.”

“That poor, desperate child. Didn’t she know she couldn’t get Rowan back?”

“She was going to say she was underage and coerced into it. She very likely would have gotten her child.”

“How did you find that out?”

“Her diary. Between her entries and the testimony of Fonda and Inez, we can break this wide open. But it’s going to get really ugly. You poke that many snakes….”

“You’re gonna get bit.”

“Yeah. And someone must have leaked something, because you’re being followed.”

“My boys, my parents!”

“We’ve called in some help. You’re all being watched, as are the girls. I’m glad Eoin is here. He’s a witness, too.”


“Yes. Now you know.”

“How am I supposed to feel? Angry, sickened, vulnerable?”

“All of the above.”

“We still haven’t figured out who killed Wendy.”

“You don’t think it was Troy?”

“Aiden says no, and I believe him. But Troy did assault her.”

His phone buzzed. “It’s the Boss checking up on us.” He swiped the screen, putting the phone on speaker. “Hey, Boss. You’re up early.”

“I got the lab results on the DNA.”

“Deirdre’s up with me. You’re on speaker.”

“Hi Deirdre. How are you feeling?”

“Like I twisted my ankle. What’s the news?”

“Aiden’s jacket gave us Troy’s DNA. Jasper’s clever thinking with Jim’s Red Bull can, gave us his. We’ve accounted for Bullock as well…. All that to tell you—”

“All three raped her,” Deirdre said solemnly. “Others?”

“One other trace deposit. You’re not going to like it.”

“Eoin,” Deirdre said. “But he wouldn’t have forced her. He loved her.”

“Agreed. And I don’t consider him a suspect. His sample was older.”

Deirdre closed her eyes, inhaling slowly. “Then who killed her?”

“My money is on Jim Butcher. He’s got a history of violence, and was thrown out of the Marines for beating up a female Naval officer. She disciplined him, so he waited in a secluded area on the ship, and jumped her. No doubt his intent was to rape her, but she took him down. Hardly left a mark on her. He got his arm broken. And let’s just say, I’m surprised he could get it up to attack Wendy. Testicular torsion.”

Aaron hissed loudly.

“Do we have proof that he’s the one who strangled her?”

“The size and pattern of the marks on her neck are consistent with his size hands. Troy’s are smaller, Bullock’s are bigger. We’re hoping that the State lab will be able to pull fingerprints off her throat. They were stupid enough not to wear condoms when they raped her, they probably didn’t wear gloves, either.”

“And the rest? How do we bring it down? Are the girls on that team still suffering? Are they still playing their dirty games?” Deirdre’s voice rose again.

“I’m still thinking about that. Trust me, I want this as much as you do. As to whether it’s going on, or not. I imagine it is.”

“You don’t think Aiden…?”

“Aiden has a stable home, a loving family. Some of these other kids are vulnerable, for one reason or another. I hope not.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 50 by Dellani Oakes

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

“Fred’s having trouble finding a flight. I suggested Sanford, apparently, it’s not a viable option either.”

“He’ll find something, Mom,” Aiden said.

She nodded, pressing her lips together. Vanessa took her hand, squeezing comfortingly.

“Meanwhile, you have us. Aaron and Eoin are spending the night. I’m just a phone call away, so are Scott and Jasper.”

“Jasper is only minutes away,” Aaron offered. “He’s just a few blocks south.”

Deirdre nodded, thanking them all. She picked at her food until Corin spoke up.

“Mom, you always used to fuss at me for playing with my food. Do I have to feed it to you? Because I will. This is the best lasagna ever, better than yours—sorry. Aaron made the sauce and froze it, and the pasta was made by hand. So eat.”

Giggling and trying not to cry, Deirdre did as he ordered. “I never thought I’d be taking orders from my fifteen year old.”

“Behave, or I’ll give you more,” he threatened, lowering his voice.

He sounded so much like his father, it made her gulp. All her boys looked like their father, too handsome for their own good.

“If you don’t mind, I’m going to take a pain pill and go to bed.”

“Can you get around by yourself?” Vanessa asked.

“I’ll use my crutches.” Deirdre gave Eoin an evil eye.

Reluctantly, he gave them to her. “You promise not to overdo.”

“I’m going to bed. The only place I’ll go after that, is the toilet.”

“All right.” He gave her a hug and kiss.

All the boys did the same. Vanessa gave her a hug and she hobbled to her bedroom. The noise of the household faded when she closed the door. It took longer to get ready for bed, but she finally turned in. Sleepy from her pill, she fell in to a deep, dreamless sleep.

Deirdre woke late at night. The house was quiet, but she saw a light peeping under her door. After a trip to the bathroom, she was thirsty, so she limped to the kitchen. Aaron sat at the table, going through pictures and papers. Glancing up, he smiled, then got up to help her walk.

“I’m surprised to see you awake.”

“Had to pee. Can you grab me some water?”

“Sure.” He got a glass and filled it with ice and water.

“Thank you. What are you doing?”

“Looking over photos that Vanessa gave me. That, and an endless lists of names.”

“What of?”

“Some private golf organization. In fact, it’s called the Private Golf Club or PGC.”

“Boring name.”

“Yeah, but not boring people. You and your husband got an invite several years ago, do you remember?”

“Vaguely. It was way too expensive, Corin wasn’t even in school yet, so we gave it a pass. We like golf, but not enough to pay thousands of dollars in membership fees and dues. I was surprised we were invited, to be honest.”

“You can be recommended by members. Do you remember who invited you?”

Deirdre screwed up her face, thinking hard. That was over ten years ago, and not important. “Bigby. Oh, what was his first name? Something with two syllables.”


“Was it? What a horrible name, Dickie Bigby. Yes, that sounds right. Why?”

“Because I’ve done some very injudicious digging.” He wiggled his fingers as if he’d been typing on a computer. “I was a hacker in my misspent youth.” He winked. “Be glad you said no. These folks are into some hinky shit.”

“How hinky?” She sipped her water, watching him over the top of her glass.

Aaron took a deep breath. “Illegal gambling. Insider trading. Wife swapping.”

“Wife—what? Did you said swapping?” Her voice got a bit shrill. Getting herself under control, she stared at him. “Swapping? Ew!”

“Yeah, which is why, I suspect, Dickie invited you. You’re a very attractive woman. He likes well built blondes.”

“Ewwg.” Shuddering, she wiped at her arms. “God, that’s disgusting. Have you seen him?”

Dickie Bigby was moderate height, but weighed over three hundred pounds.

“That’s disgusting!”

“That isn’t the worst of it.” He handed a picture to her. Wendy sat on Dickie’s lap. Three other girls, all familiar, sat on the knees of much older men. Each of them was someone important, a pillar of the community. To the right of Dickie sat none other than Coach Bullock.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Character Quotes from Love in the Pink by Dellani Oakes

Cereal Authors

character-quotes-image“Her mother must be an artist.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Her name. Not a name a man would choose, and not mainstream. It’s lovely and unusual.”

“As is she.”

Mom smiled, patting my hand. “I apologize for interrupting. First time?”

Despite the fact I’m a grown man, and my mother and I are very open about my sex life, that caught me off guard.

“How can you tell?”

“That soft glow on your faces. It must have been very good.” She touched my cheek fondly.

“It was the best. I can’t describe it.” Shaking my head, I fiddled with my coffee. “I think maybe this one will take.”

“Good. I want grandchildren.” Grinning, she smacked my cheek, pinching my lips together in a duck face. “At least four. Since you are my only issue, you need to be prolific.”

“Might have to get Cerise’s okay on that, Mother,” I…

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Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 49 by Dellani Oakes

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

“Thanks, no. Unfortunately, this is the only meal I can prepare without intervention. Every man needs one thing he can prepare for the woman in his life.”

“For Fred, it’s steak and potatoes,” Deirdre said. “Not fancy, but he grills a great steak. I’ll need to call him!”

“I did, already,” Corin said. “He’s pulling in an area supervisor to take over the job and he’s heading home as soon as he can get a flight.”

“Thank God,” she whispered, gasping a little.

“It’s all right, Mom,” Burl said, hugging her gently. “You’ve got us and Eoin. And Aaron. We’ll take care of you.”

“Nothing like having your husband around, though,” Vanessa said, understanding Deirdre’s reaction completely. “You’ll be fine here with the menfolk. Do you need me to help with anything?”

“I really need to pee,” Deirdre said.

“I’ve got it,” Eoin said. “I’ll help you to the bathroom. You can manage to pee on your own?” He raised a beautifully sculpted brow.

“Yes, Mum. I can pee by myself.” She touched his cheek. “You’ve got to show me how to arch your brow like that. It’s gorgeous.”

“I like the lip liner,” Vanessa said.

“Drag Queen 101 will begin after dinner. Is your handsome hubby expecting you?” he asked Vanessa as they helped Deirdre rise.

“How do you know he’s handsome?”

“Because a woman as gorgeous as you would not marry a dog.”

“There’s plenty,” Aiden said with a grin. “Invite him over.”

“Really? Is that okay?” she asked Deirdre.

“Totally okay. We’ll have plenty, even with the Vacuum Brothers at the table. Give him a call.”

“Thank you. We won’t stay long.”

Deirdre nodded and eased into the bathroom. She had crutches, but Eoin was holding them hostage, knowing she would overdue if he allowed her to have them. Once she was done, she was helped to the recliner, this time by Burl and Aiden.

Dario arrived about twenty minutes later, carrying a big, pink cardboard box—the kind bakeries used. “I couldn’t come without a contribution, so I picked up this.” He wouldn’t let them see what it was, but put it in the refrigerator. “I’m Dario Escobar, Vanessa’s husband.”

“Told you he was handsome,” Eoin said, waving. He’d washed off his makeup, but his hair was still in a sloppy bun.

“I know you! Angelique! Love the show, man. It’s amazing. You ever seen her act?” Dario asked Deirdre and Aaron.

“Once,” Aaron replied. “Simply astounding. You should be in Vegas.”

“Thank you! I like it here, though. It’s more fun being the big fish, even if the pond is tiny. Somewhere like Vegas, I’d be a tiny little fish, in a huge ocean of performers. Besides, I don’t imitate anyone, I’m me.”

“Better that way,” Dario said. “Anyone can say they’re a female impersonator, but most of them aren’t any damn good. A true drag queen, with her own image, now that is cool.”

“Thank you. Angie and I are flattered.” He did the modest half bow.

Deirdre’s phone rang as they were sitting down to eat. She told everyone to dig in and answered. It was Fred.

“I’m having trouble getting a plane. Who knew St. Paul to Daytona was such a popular flight! And don’t even start me on Orlando. Insanity.”

“Try Sanford.”

“Didn’t think of that. I will. How are you?”

“Sore, but fine. I miss you.” Her voice caught.

“I miss you too. I’ll be home if I have to drive to Wisconsin for a flight. Honest to God, the way it’s going, I might have to. Ah, here’s Sanford. Oh, good Lord, the flights are ridiculous! Can’t put a price on you.”

“Be sensible. I’m here with a phalanx of protectors. Don’t get a ridiculously priced flight. We can’t afford it.”

“You’re right. I’ll see what I can find. I might have to wait a day.”

“Okay. Food’s getting cold.”

“I love you. Be safe.”

“I will. I love you, too.”



She hung up, knowing he would keep saying farewell until her meal went cold. She had her mother hen moments, so did he.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 48 by Dellani Oakes

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

Eoin put a hand on his chest, bowing his head in acceptance.

The door popped open and Vanessa stormed in, followed by Jasper.

“You’re okay? How did this happen?”

“We’ll find out,” Jasper consoled her. “We’re putting an officer on you and the boys,” he told Deirdre. “A buddy of mine.”

“I can’t put you out like that.”

“Nonsense. I wish I’d thought about it before. He’ll meet you at your house. Meanwhile, how are we getting you home?”

“I’ll take her,” Eoin offered.

“My Jeep!”

“I’ll drive you,” Vanessa said. “Jasper will bring my car and Eoin can follow in his.”

“Perfect,” Eoin agreed.

“Are you all right?” the female officer asked.

“I think so.” Deirdre tried to stand, hissing in pain.

“No, you’re not. There’s an Urgent Care two blocks down. You take her there,” the female officer instructed. “I’ll call so they get you right in. Bill us.”

“No need to bill the city,” Deirdre said as they carried her to her Jeep. “We have good insurance.”

The men lifted her in and got her settled. Vanessa hopped in the other side. They made a convoy to the clinic, and were ushered in like royalty. One of the workers brought out a wheelchair for Deirdre. She sank into it gratefully. They X-rayed her ankle and did all kinds of other tests to determine what was wrong.

“Not sprained,” the doctor announced after he examined her. “Be glad of that, it’s harder to get over than a break. You’ve strained and twisted it. It will be ugly for a few days, but I’ll get you a pain med and a boot.”

“A boot? I can’t drive with that on.”

“You can’t drive for a week, in any case. Your family will have to chauffeur you around.”

“Ugh.” Deirdre rolled her eyes. “Fine. At least my eldest can drive. He’ll love it.”

“I mean it. No physical activity, except going to the bathroom. When you’re sitting, feet elevated. Do you have a recliner?”


“Good, you’re in it unless you’re asleep. Clear?”

“Yes, Doctor.”

“You mean it?”

“I’ll sit on her if she doesn’t,” Eoin stated firmly. “I’m with, for the duration,” he said sternly. “Hubby’s out of town, and you can’t expect your boys to handle meals. They’d burn the house down, and you unable to hobble out. Vanessa will see you home, and I’ll pop over to my place, pack a bag and follow you down.”

“Okay, you talked me into it. I’m not going to argue.”

“She must be sick,” Eoin said. “She’s never that compliant.” He felt her head with the back of his hand.

Deirdre waved it away. “Just tired and in a lot of pain.”

They got her prescription filled at the clinic and Vanessa saw her home. Jasper followed Eoin. His logic was that if the criminals had followed Deirdre, they knew where he lived. He wasn’t taking chances with the younger man’s safety. Vanessa could take care of Deirdre and his friend, Aaron, would meet them at the house.

Eoin packed his bags and joined Jasper in Vanessa’s car, leaving his own parked at his home. His nosy neighbor came out to check on him, and he told her he’d be out of town for a few days.

“You’ll be all right?”

“Yes, Pati. I’ll be fine, I promise.” He kissed her cheeks and thanked her for looking after his place.

“You be careful,” she cautioned. “I don’t want to lose you as a neighbor, I don’t feel like breaking in another one.”

“Cross my heart.”

The trip home was blissfully uneventful. Deirdre couldn’t remember a time she’d felt so grateful that nothing untoward happened. Her boys were home and Aaron was inside with them, working on dinner, he’d brought food with him. A homemade lasagna bubbled in the oven. Corin was mixing his signature garlic butter while Aiden and Burl worked on a salad. Aaron was kneading bread on the island.

“Look at the domesticity!” Deirdre said. “You want a nanny job?” she asked Aaron, after she was introduced.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 47

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

A few feet from it, she slipped on the wet pavement and fell. Crying out, she dropped her handbag, but clutched her umbrella in her left hand. Struggling to stand, she was aware of the fast approach of the men who were after her. Ballsy to accost her at the police station, where there were cameras, people. Rushing to her, one reached for his gun, but the other one stopped him, pointing at the building. Deirdre concentrated on their faces, memorizing details. Both were about her age, swarthy, dark haired. They looked cruel, brutal and not as afraid as they should be, right in front of the police department. They approached closer, making a grab for her. Deirdre’s hands worked furiously, seeking the button on the side of the umbrella handle, which made it open. It was being stubborn, stuck somehow. With a shake, she brandished the only weapon she had. The men, seeing the small, black and white checkered umbrella, laughed nastily.

Aiming it at the nearest one, the man without the gun in his jacket, she felt it click. The umbrella launched itself, hitting him in the groin. Since it was strapped shut, it couldn’t unfurl, and hit him in the nuts like a telescoping club. Deirdre slammed it home, making him howl. Using it like a staff, she smacked the other man with it. Whacking back and forth, she screamed as loudly as she could, praying she’d be heard inside. Her prayers were answered. Two armed police officers burst through the door, weapons drawn. They aimed at the men, covering a third, who helped Deirdre to her feet. Supporting her, he half carried her inside.

The two men were cuffed and led, dripping, to the booking area. Deirdre was given a seat in the lobby, her leg up on the bench beside her, topped with an ice pack. Someone found her a towel and a blanket. Someone else brought coffee. She couldn’t keep track of the movement around her, she was too stunned. Suddenly overcome with shivers, she nearly dropped her cup. A sturdy woman with dark blonde hair, took it from her. She wore the uniform of a civilian worker.

“What happened?” she asked calmly, patting Deirdre’s hand.

“They followed me in their car. Pulled a gun! I turned off Beville, taking a chance I’d find you. I don’t know my way around, I was dropping a friend at home.”

“Can we call someone for you?”

“My boys are at school, my husband is out of town.”

“Your friend?”

“Yes. Eoin….” Her mind went blank. “I can’t remember his last name! It’s Irish—common….”

“Sullivan? O’Brian? O’Toole?”

“Reilly,” she remembered. “Eoin Reilly. His number is on my phone.” She gave it over with trembling hands.

It seemed mere seconds later that Eoin rushed in the door. His makeup only half applied, his black hair in a sloppy bun, he was the best sight she’d ever seen. If his appearance caused comment, Deirdre didn’t hear it.

“What happened?” He held her close, rocking her back and forth.

Deirdre told him what she could remember.

A police officer sat nearby, taking notes. “You did the right thing, Mrs. Partridge,” she said.

“I’m lucky I was in the right neighborhood. I don’t know my way around. I live in New Smyrna. And I wasn’t going to lead them back to Eoin.”

“I’m here, my lovely. I’ll see you get home.”

“You have to work!”

“They’ll get by a night without me. Family first. I already called.”

“Who were they? Why? How did they know?”

“I don’t know, but I called Vanessa on the way over.”

“Is that Detective Weinstein?” the officer asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Eoin said with a stunning smile. “Pardon my disarray, I was getting ready for work.”

“You headline at Pocket Pool,” she said with a grin.

“I do, how clever of you to spot that!”

“I’m a fan. My brother is Miss Taken.”

“No, really? He’s a good friend of mine. Very talented.”

“Thank you. So are you.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 46

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

While the men are at the crime scene, Vanessa interviews Butch. It doesn’t take long to get the truth from him.

Deirdre drove Eoin home. They talked happily about everything but the case, choosing to take this short time to ignore the ugliness that had brought them back together. When they got to his trailer, she made all the right noises when she saw Eoin’s home. He was so proud of his little slice of paradise, to have her compliment thing things he loved most, pleased him. He invited her to stay to lunch, which she graciously accepted.

“I’m not as good a cook as you, but I do well enough.”

He made grilled cheese sandwiches with three types of cheese, sauteed onions, and a dab of pepper jelly on top. Along with this, he warmed some French onion soup.

“I know the tradition is tomato soup, but I bloody loathe the stuff.”

“I’ve never liked it either. This is delicious. Did you make it yourself?”

“Yes, it’s very easy, just a box o’broth and more onions. I’m mad over onions of all types. I probably have more scallions, leeks and chives than a restaurant.”

“A man of taste. I love them, too. This sandwich is amazing! Thank you.”

He had ice cream for dessert. Remembering her love of chocolate, he brought out the Hershey’s syrup, pouring it over two scoops of vanilla bean. Happy and full, they chatted a bit more, until he had to get ready to go.

“It’s a lot of prep work,” he admitted. “Got to shave closely, wax the uni-brow, trim the sideburns….”

“Do you have to wax—elsewhere?” She blushed, trying not to think about things men had to wax.

“You mean—the area?” he vaguely gestured near his zipper. “I try not to wear anything that skimpy. I do have to shave and wax my legs, but I just had that done. Not a lot of fun, but one must sacrifice for ones art.” He raised his voice, sounding like Angelique, as he batted his eyelashes.

“Go be artful.” Deirdre gave him a kiss on the forehead. “Know you are loved and don’t forget to visit.”

“I promise to be more diligent. Now you know where I live, you’ll come kick my bony, Irish ass if I don’t.”

“Don’t think I won’t!” She waved her foot at him.

“I remember the time you did.”

“When was that?”

“Aiden and I had been to a party for the golf team, and I brought him home. You smelled alcohol on me and kicked my ass—hard! You didn’t even stop until Aiden assured you it was because someone else had spilled on me. You were all for a Breathalyzer.”

“I’m sorry about that.”

“No, as it should be. Besides, I deserved it for other things, at other times. You’ve always set me straight, and I appreciate that.” He gave her a hug and a kiss. “Let me know when Fred returns, and we’ll make a special night for you.”

“That sounds lovely. Thank you.”

“Thank you, Mum. You’re the best.”

As Deirdre drove home, she watched the gathering clouds. A late afternoon thunderstorm was headed her way. She sped up, wanting to get past Port Orange before all hell broke loose. The Spruce Creek bridge, south of the city, was horrible in a thunderstorm. She had just turned onto Beville, heading east, when the storm broke. She slowed to twenty miles an hour, turning her wipers on high. She’d lived in Florida all her life, but after an accident on I-95 a few years ago, she was very cautious in the rain. Glad she was taking the smaller highway, not the interstate, she crawled along toward US-1.

There weren’t many cars on the road, but she was being closely followed by a dark blue, Ford, four door. Traveling in the left lane, she eased over to the right. The blue Ford sidled up beside her. Keeping her eyes on the road, she didn’t pay attention to them, until she caught movement in the corner of her eye. The passenger’s window scrolled quickly down, and the man had a gun trained on her. Shocked and horrified, Deirdre slammed on her brakes. The Jeep screeched to a halt, gliding over the wet pavement to rest near the curb. The motor shuddered to a halt. Struggling to turn it back on, she prayed she wouldn’t flood it. Finally, the engine caught and she did her best to get back on the road.

The Ford passed her, but made a U-turn, coming around to her. Pulling herself together, she sped up and turned right onto a cross street, gunning her motor. She knew the police department wasn’t far away. In fact, nothing was far from anything else in South Daytona. The community wasn’t large, but she didn’t know her way around well. Luck was with her. She saw a sign for the police to her left. Sloshing into the side parking lot, she stopped her car, turning off the motor. Her red Jeep was distinctive, but she hoped the people following her wouldn’t notice her right away. Ducking down, she reached in the back seat for an umbrella. A car passed behind her, rolling slowly. Deirdre kept her head down, hoping it wasn’t the car that was following her, but uncomfortably sure it was. Chancing a peek, she saw it stop several yards away, in another parking spot. It was definitely the car that had been following her. Grabbing her bag and umbrella, she got out of the Jeep and scuttled to the door.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes