Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 27

After the movie, Charlene checks on them, gives Diego permission to kiss Janet, and leaves.

They kissed for more than five minutes. The door opened again and it was the next projectionist.

“Sorry, man. Lock the door next time.”

“Doesn’t lock.”

“Oh, true. Well, do something, huh?”

“We’re just kissing, Roy. No biggie.”

“Don’t wanna throw off your groove, man. Okay, so we set up for the next run?”

“Yeah. Oh, there’s a bad spot at the end of the second reel.” He explained the problem as he grabbed his things.

Janet and Diego left with their arms around one another. Several of their friends were in the lobby playing pinball. They greeted them as they walked past.

“Oh, Mom invited you to Sunday dinner, and I just remembered,” he said, smacking his forehead. “Can you come?”

“Can I borrow a phone?”

“Call from my house.”

“Sure.”

His house was about five minutes away. She called her mother. The phone rang quite a long time. Finally, Sookie answered sounding very apprehensive.

“Sook, what’s up? Is Mom there?”

“Janet you need to get home,” she whispered.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay? Is Mom hurt?”

“I dunno. You need to come. Please?”

“I’m on my way. Are you in danger?”

“No. Just please hurry.”

“Go in your room and lock the door. I’m on my way.” Janet hung up, terrified.

“I need to get home. Now. Something’s wrong. Sookie wouldn’t tell me.”

Diego was all ready leading her to the door. Carlos joined them, carrying a first aid kit.

“In case someone’s hurt.”

“Thanks.”

Carlos clamored in the back and Janet rode up front. A strange car with Texas plates sat in the driveway. The front door was locked, all the lights were on with no one in the living room.

Janet tried to unlock the door but her hands shook too much. Carlos took her key, opening the door. She ran to Sookie’s room, hammering on the door.

“It’s me, Janet. Are you okay?”

Sookie opened the door, peering out with big, dark eyes.

“Honey? What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. Some man came here about noon. He and Mama talked a long time and argued some. Then they went in her room and haven’t come out. And I thought she was screaming…. She won’t answer the door. I’m scared, Janet!”

Strange noises were, indeed, coming from the master bedroom. The men exchanged a look. Janet took Sookie downstairs to her room, which fortunately wasn’t directly under the master bedroom, and turned on the TV extra loud. She found the men in the kitchen making coffee and blushing.

“Is that what I think it is?” Janet asked Diego.

He blushed even more, nodding.

“Your mom’s got a boyfriend?” Carlos asked.

“I didn’t think so. She hasn’t really seen anyone since she broke up with Sookie’s dad. And she never had a man here before. Not even Braden.”

“Janet, I’m hungry,” Sookie said from the basement.

“We’ll fix something,” she called. “You better call your mom,” she told Diego.

“Get Sookie, we’ll leave a note,” Carlos said. “She shouldn’t be here.”

Mrs. Hernandez was fine with two extra people for dinner instead of one. She’d fixed enough food for an army, so there was plenty. After dinner, Janet and Ramona cleaned up with the help of Diego and Carlos. Their twin sisters entertained Sookie, who was only a few months younger and in the same grade.

“So, Mom’s got a man! How cool!” Ramona said.

“It’s weird,” Janet snapped. “It’s not like her. She’s never like this.”

“The right man can make you do dumb stuff,” Ramona said, tossing her head.

“What do you know about it?” Carlos asked. “You’ve dated about as much as Janet.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

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.”

“Fine!”

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.”

“Reschedule.”

“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.

“Hello?”

“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.”

“Um….”

“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

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 26

Janet and Diego almost kiss, when Charlene walks in to check on them.

“Nope and I’ve still got my pants on.”

“So you do! Good boy!”

“Did you need anything else?”

“Nope. I’m happy.”

“Fantastic.” He turned her around and shut the door behind her.

He’d barely gotten rid of her and was moving in for a kiss when someone else walked in. One of the girls from the concession stand brought Janet a soda, another came in with a box of Sugar Babies.

“Is this some sort of conspiracy?” he asked the girl with the Sugar Babies.

“Conspiracy?”

“You know, to keep me from kissing my girlfriend?”

“Oh, no you go right ahead.” She sat on the hassock, watching the movie from one of the small windows.

“With you here?”

“Don’t mind me.”

“Are you our self-appointed chaperon?”

“Nope. Charlene sent me in. I’m on break.” She popped a Sugar Baby in her mouth and offered one to Janet.

“We don’t need a chaperon. I’m not gonna do anything! Are all the women determined to keep me from getting a kiss?”

“Go ahead. I’ll ignore you.”

“Suddenly, I’m not as happy as I was ten minutes ago.”

“Funny how that happens,” the girl said, eating another Sugar Baby.

Janet couldn’t help laughing. Diego looked so disgusted and disappointed.

“Wishing your best friend’s mom didn’t work with you?”

“Regretting I ever got her the job, yeah.”

“That’s what happens when your best friend is a horny bastard, and you have a similar reputation,” the girl said. “And no, I didn’t sleep with him and we never dated,” she told Janet. “It’s unfortunate, because I think he’d be delicious. But our boss is pretty picky about employees dating.”

“And Charlene is pretty picky about enforcing it,” Diego said in disgust.

“So mistreated,” Janet said, patting his thigh.

He stared at her hand on his thigh and sighed. He was even more discouraged when he realized that her hand that close to his zipper and he didn’t even feel a tingle.

“Dammit,” he muttered.

The film drew to a close and the audience clapped. The house lights came up and they exited the theatre. The Sugar Babies girl got up to sweep the theatre. Diego figured someone else would come in to keep an eye on them, and he wasn’t wrong. Charlene came back in.

“Everything good up here?”

“Peachy,” Diego grunted as he set the film to rewind. “We weren’t doing anything, you know. All I wanted was a kiss.”

“That may be all you figured on getting, but it’s not all you want,” Charlene said. “I have a husband and six boys, four of whom are over twelve. I know how you think, and what your capable of. Which is why I have six boys,” she said in an aside to Janet.

“Is it too much to ask for five minutes of privacy to get one damn kiss? I haven’t seen her since this morning. I just wanted a kiss!”

He sounded so despondent, Charlene took pity on him. She patted his cheek. “But no funny business!”

“How? You’ve scared my gonads into submission,” he complained.

Charlene left, shutting the door behind her.

“I couldn’t even turn on a light right now,” Diego complained.

Janet took pity on him, too. She walked up behind him, hugging him around the waist. He fidgeted until he was facing her.

“Can I get that kiss now?” he whimpered

“Please. I’ve been contemplating withdrawal.”

“Me too,” he mumbled as his lips met hers.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 25

Diego takes Janet and Ilene out to breakfast, while Sookie is in Sunday School.

They drove back to the church and Ilene picked up Sookie. Diego drove Janet home, waiting for her as she changed for work. He also had to go to work, but not for an hour.

“When are you off?”

“I get off at four. We close early Sundays.”

“Damn, I’m not off until six.”

“It takes about an hour to clean up and shut down. How about I walk over to the theatre and wait for you?”

“That would be great! Actually, you can come to the booth and keep me company.”

“That would be greater,” she agreed.

He gave her a short kiss and headed home to change.

Janet’s shift went well and she enjoyed her walk to the theatre. The girl at the ticket booth was expecting her and showed her to the projection booth door. Tapping quietly, she waited for Diego to answer before she went back downstairs.

“Hi,” he said quietly.

“Hi.”

“Come on in.” He gestured to the small room with the huge projectors.

Two chairs, a small table and a hassock were the only furniture in the room. He had a soda cup and half a bag of popcorn on the table. He invited her to sit in the chair furthest from the projector.

“Movie’s almost over, got about thirty minutes. How was your shift?”

“Not bad, busy. I like it busy, I don’t get bored.”

He nodded. “We have quite a crowd today. New movie opened.”

“What is it?”

He chuckled. “You know, I have no idea? I’ve been busy cleaning up. We aren’t the neatest bunch. I’m usually the only one who picks up cause, it gets on my nerves after a while.”

“You did a good job. I’m impressed.”

“You’d be even more impressed if you’d seen it before I started. I literally just sat down.”

“Thank you.” She gave him a quick kiss.

Diego moved the table and scooted his chair closer to hers. “I think I deserve a better kiss than that. After all this hard work.”

Janet leaned forward, lips parted, waiting for him. He put his left arm around the back of her chair, moving toward her. The projector made a funny noise.

“Shit!”

He stood so suddenly, Janet lost her balance. She caught herself before she clipped her chin on his chair. Diego worked at the projector a moment and got the film back on track. It had jumped the sprockets.

“I’ll need to leave the guys a note about that. We got damaged film.”

“That’s not good.”

“No. And I don’t want to get blamed for it.” He made a note and posted it on a small bulletin board.

“How many of you are there?”

“Six of us. We all work part time, odd hours. Interesting bunch of guys.”

“How long have you worked here?”

“Couple years. I started as the guy who empties trash. I like this better. I can usually get some studying in, unless there’s a problem.”

She started to ask him another question, but he shushed her.

“Babe, I didn’t invite you up here to talk.”

Janet giggled, clapping her hand over her mouth. “Oh, gosh! Can they hear me?”

“No, it’s soundproofed. We can hear the film because of a speaker. We have to listen so we know when it’s over or if there’s anything wrong with the sound.”

He moved closer, making his approach once more. His lips were barely touching hers when someone came in the door. It was Raul’s mother, Charlene.

“Hi, Janet. The girls told me you were here, so I came up to say hi.”

“Admit it, you came up to see if I was being a bad boy.”

“That too. Were you?”

“Was the door locked?”

“That door doesn’t lock from the inside.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Whose Book Is It Anyway? ~ A Love Under the Sun Paranormal Romance

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.

Duff and Grace have been roommates and friends for over four years. Although Duff had carried a torch the entire time, Grace has kept him firmly locked away in the Friend Box. He keeps hoping something will change, that she’ll realize how much he loves her. He’s been waiting for the right time to talk to her, and finally one night, he has the chance. Her parents are visiting, and he’s talking to her father about what he wants to do once he graduates from college.

“Eventually, I want to do some teaching, but Grace comes first.”

I glanced at her. Tears welled in her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” I put my arms around her, holding her close.

“No man ever put me first,” she whispered. “Except you.”

“Gracie, you’re always first with me. No matter what.”

Nash and Emily quietly left the room. I held Grace, letting her cry. I just hold her until she’s done, I never tell her to stop. I learned a long time ago, that’s the way to make her angry, or make her cry longer.

“Why didn’t I ever see you?”

I didn’t answer, suspecting it was rhetorical.

“You’ve always been so good to me. You take care of me. I went from one moron to another, but you always stuck with me, comforting me when they left.”

“They weren’t all morons. Some of them were pretty nice.”

“Those guys didn’t get the part where we lived together.”

“Well, you have to admit, it’s not the most common arrangement.”

“True. They couldn’t believe we’d never been to bed together.”

“Men wouldn’t get that. There’s no straight man in the world who wants to be just friends with a woman. There’s always an agenda.”

“For what?” She turned wide eyes on me.

I shrugged as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Sex—duh. I shouldn’t even have to clarify that for you, Grace.”

“Was there for you? Have the last four years been part of an agenda?” She shoved away from me, sliding off the opposite side of the stool.

“Think for a second, how crazy that sounds.”

“You just said—”

“I love you, Grace. I’ve loved you for ages. I always hoped you’d eventually fall for me, too. I stayed on, as your friend, because it was the only piece of you I had. I could have left, but it would have killed me.”

“Seeing me with other men must have been torture,” she sighed, moving into the circle of my arms.

“Yeah.” I couldn’t say anymore. Just knowing there was another man sharing he bed, making love to her, made me sick. Many long nights, I’d lain awake listening to them having sex on the other side of the house. It was torture.

She kissed me deeply, pouring her love into it. Breathless, overwhelmed, I kissed her in return. It felt so good having her in my arms. This was where she was meant to be. There was only one place I wanted her more, but not with her parents in the house.

Her phone rang—that special ring tone. She reluctantly reached for it, but I took it from her.

“Hello?”

“Who’s this?”

“This is the roommate. Who the hell is this?”

“Mark. Her fucking boyfriend.”

I paused, considering. “Nope. You gave up that title when you left town without telling her. But that’s okay, because a better man is in your place. Thanks for that.”

“You? She’s dating you?”

“Yup! Just spent the most fantastic weekend of our lives. Lose the number, Dick.”

“Mark.”

“Whatever.” I hung up.

Grace stared at me, a smile twitching her lips. “You lie way too well.”

“It’s that theatre training. I simply elaborate on what I imagine us doing.” I shrugged like it was the most simple thing in the world.

Grace didn’t answer. She stepped closer, holding me tightly, her head pressed on my chest. “I love you so much, Duff. So very much.”

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 24

Janet’s solo at church goes really well. She spots Diego with her family, and it makes her more brave.

The minister launched into his sermon, speaking less time than he usually did. His words were stirring and inspiring, as he spoke of the love God had for his people. What eyes had been dry after the song, weren’t after he finished.

The service eventually wound to a close and the congregation stood for the final hymn. Instead of preparing to walk out, the choir stood, setting their folders on their seats. The music began suddenly, startling the congregation. The organist had moved to the piano. Choir members pulled out tambourines, wood blocks and one of the tenors sported a guitar. They stood up front, singing, playing and dancing to Give Me That Old Time Religion.

The minister stood at the podium, clapping and singing with them as the congregation joined in. Four of the men formed a quartet, taking the lead on the verses. The women sang a soaring harmony around them, shaking their tambourines. Everyone left the church smiling.

After the congregation left, the choir filed out. When Janet came out of the choir room, her mother, sister and Diego were waiting for her. Even Sookie was smiling and hopping up and down excitedly.

“That was so cool!” she said over and over. “You were so good, Janet!”

“Thanks, squirt. I’m glad you liked it.”

Her mother also congratulated her, then walked Sookie to Sunday school. Diego took her hands.

“You were amazing. Totally blew my mind when you started to sing.”

“Thank you. I didn’t know you were coming. I thought you had to go to Mass, don’t you have to sing or serve?”

“I talked my way out of it. I told Father the woman I love was singing for God, and I had to go hear her. It was beautiful, Janet.” He took a step closer, lowering his voice. “If I didn’t love you already, I would have fallen for you the second you started to sing.”

Several of the young men from choir knew Diego well. They came up, thumping him on the back.

“Hey, buddy. What you doing here?” one of them asked.

“Slumming. What you think? I came to hear my lady sing.”

“You’re dating?” The bass who’d helped her up the steps looked disappointed.

“Yeah. Got a problem with that?”

“No. Kind of wish…. Never mind. Janet, you get tired of him, I’ll be your rebound guy.”

She giggled, patting his arm. “Thanks. I think I’ll keep him a little while.”

“Just so you know….”

Diego put his arm around her shoulders. “Enough of that. You’ll make me forget we’re in church.” He was only partially kidding. “Come on, babe. I’m taking you and your mom to breakfast.”

“We ate.”

“Well, I didn’t. So you can drink coffee and I’ll eat.” He kissed her cheek as he put his arm around her neck.

They met her mother by the side door downstairs and went to a nearby diner. Diego ate a huge breakfast while Janet and her mother had coffee and pie.

“I’m surprised you’re so hungry,” Ilene said.

“You forget, Catholics don’t eat before church. I’m starving. I’ve been up since six.”

“Why so early?” Janet asked him.

“I had to help my dad fix some stuff. He doesn’t sleep much since he hurt his back, so he’s up at odd hours. Which means I’m up at odd hours to keep an eye on him, so he won’t hurt himself more.”

“How’s he doing?” Ilene asked kindly.

“He has good days and bad days. Today was a good day.” He smiled.

“I’m glad. I’ve been meaning to call, I just stay so busy….”

“My folks know that, Ms. Yarkowsky. You’ve got your hands full.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 23

Janet’s mother asks her about her date, happy that Janet had a good time. She finds herself thinking about Evander.

One thing Janet didn’t know was that she was still married to Janet’s father. She’d dated a few men, but none of them had ever been for her what Evander was; husband, lover, friend. He did for her what she saw Diego did for Janet. He filled in those little holes in her soul that had been gaping ever since.

She went in her room, shutting the door. For a time, she cried. Then she picked up the phone and made a call. The phone rang three times before a man’s voice answered.

“Hi,” she said, the tears threatening to fall again. “It’s me…. Can we talk?”

Sunday morning, Janet and her family headed to church for the early service. The high school choir was singing and she had the solo. Nervous, she walked back and forth across the end of the choir room. The wide window overlooked the parking lot two stories below. She rolled her neck and shook her arms, trying to relax.

The choir director walked in, smiling. She clapped her hands as she approached the piano. It was time for warm-ups. She played a chord and they began. Janet relaxed into the routine as they continued to sing. By the time warm-ups were over, she was feeling a little better.

They practiced their hymns and it was time to line up to go in. They processed from the rear of the church, so they had to go into the fellowship hall in the basement and come up the back stairs. Janet carried her folder, keeping to herself, not talking with her friends like she usually did.

Bunny came up beside her. “Are you okay?”

“No. I feel like throwing up.”

“You’ve done this a hundred times.”

“Not a cappella.”

“So? You’ve got perfect pitch. You’ll be fine. If it was me doing it, I’d panic. I can’t stay on pitch like you. You’re going to be great.”

“I wish I didn’t have half the service to worry about it. I want to get in and get it over with.”

“Swear to God, Janet. If you don’t calm down, I’ll clobber you.” Bunny teasingly punched her friend on the shoulder before rushing to take her place.

Janet followed, stepping into her spot in line as the organ began. The minister walked in first. He was followed by the lay minister. The choir came in next, in section order, tallest to shortest. Janet was last because she was a soloist and had to step out of the pew to stand beside the organ.

The service went by in a blur. Janet hardly paid any attention to it, waiting for her solo. Before she knew it, the director nodded to her. She stood, taking her place between the lectern and the organ. The director played her note very softly and Janet began to sing. The first note was faltering, but it added a warble to her voice that made it even prettier. It was then she glanced at the front row. Diego sat there beside her mother and sister, smiling encouragingly. He gave her a thumb’s up. Janet felt a surge of courage and her voice grew stronger.

“What wondrous love is this, oh my soul, oh my soul? What wondrous love is this, oh my soul?”

She sang the first verse alone. On the chorus, the choir joined her, singing in eight part harmony, their voices blending into an intricate tapestry behind her. The song finished in silence. The quiet was interrupted by a unified sigh by everyone in the congregation. Sniffles and nose blowing followed.

The minister, lost in the music, took his time standing. Janet walked back to her seat. One of the young men in the bass section stepped forward to help her up the steps. He smiled, mouthing “Good job,” before sitting down.

“I believe that was the best this choir’s ever sung,” the minister said. “And I know it’s not customary to applaud, but in this instance, I don’t think God would mind.” He started clapping.

The entire congregation joined in. The director signaled them to stand and take a bow. They did so, sitting once more as the applause faded.

“I wish my message today were half as good as that song. I believe the lyrics say it all, What wondrous love is this.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Bad Fall ~ A Romantic Mystery by Dellani Oakes

I love first meetings. They set the tone for the relationship, and introduce the characters to the person they will love. Frank Atherton’s not very happy. As Assistant Director at a massive retirement complex, he’s having to deal with a troublesome visitor, Ralph Penwarren. He’s been interrupted by reports of his bad behavior all day, so when there’s a knock, Frank assumes it’s about him.

Someone knocked at his door. Thinking it might be about Mr. Penwarren, he groaned quietly as he stood up.

“Be right there!” he called. He dropped his plate in the kitchen sink and went to the door. “What’s he done now?” he asked automatically as he opened it.

It wasn’t Sue or one of the other staff members. An attractive brunette stood there.

“I’m sorry? Who did what?”

“Oh, no one you’d know. Frank Atherton, Assistant Director. I just saw you on TV.” He held out his hand after wiping it on his T-shirt.

She smiled. “Marka Ventimiglia. Nice to meet you. I feel really stupid asking, but yours is the only room with a light on. I took a chance that someone was up.”

He invited her in. She hesitated a moment, then followed him inside.

“What can I do for you?”

“I’m embarrassed to ask. I’m staying in a guest room and I’m out of toilet paper.”

“Really? No spare?” He was puzzled by that. “The girls usually put it under the sink.”

He walked to his restroom. It was quite spacious, with a tub and a separate, walk-in shower. He opened the cupboard under the sink and didn’t find a spare roll of paper. Checking all the cupboards, he came up empty.

“That’s weird. Gimme a second.” He dialed housekeeping but got no answer, so he dialed the front desk. “Sue, it’s Frank.”

“Hi, Frank. All’s quiet at the moment. Whatcha need?”

“Dr. Ventimiglia is with me and she hasn’t got a spare roll of toilet paper. Neither do I.”

“Oh, gosh. You want me to run some up there?”

“No, you don’t need to. Is Kathy around?”

“She should be. Shall I call her?”

“I just tried. I’ll call her again. Thanks.” He dialed the housekeeping office a second time. No one answered. Puzzled, he hung up.

“I’ll try later,” he told his guest. “Do you need some immediately?”

She looked slightly uncomfortable. “As a matter of fact….”

“Please, make yourself at home. There’s a nearly full roll.” He gestured to his restroom. “Want some coffee?”

“Love some. I’m a caffeine addict. I also drink a lot of water. Hence the urgency.” Marka closed the door behind her.

Frank set up a pot of coffee, pulled out the half and half and sugar packets. She came out just as the coffee finished.

Smiling, he served Marka, inviting her to sit on the love seat. His laptop occupied the chair. He set it carefully on the floor and clicked off the TV.

“I’ll give Kathy a call again a minute,” he explained. “She might be on break.”

“Thanks. I’m still learning my way around. I got here yesterday.”

“I caught your show tonight. Interesting. You should get a good turn out. I’ll talk it up for you.”

“You wouldn’t believe the success I had when I was doing my clinical,” she responded excitedly. “It was amazing, the results!” she sobered slightly, catching herself before she got too crazy. “I won’t bore you with details. You’ll have to excuse me, Mr. Atherton. I get very excited about my work.”

Frank smiled, eyes twinkling. “I’m glad one of us can. I’m either playing nursemaid, mother or cop. I never thought I’d have a job like this. None of my duties were in the job description.”

“The director, Mr. Norton, speaks very highly of you.”

Frank laughed abruptly and rather rudely as he finished his coffee. “Yeah? Boy, that was lie. He thinks I want his job.”

“Do you?”

He couldn’t tell if she was serious or not. Looking surprised, he set his mug down. “Not really. Too much schmoozing.”

“Isn’t that in your job description?”

Frank laughed, shaking his head. “I’m not a schmoozer. I’m more of an in your face kind of guy. Let me give Kathy a call.” He was reaching for the house phone, on top of the console TV, when it rang. Startled, he answered. “Frank Atherton.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 22

After their date, Janet and Diego talk about having sex.

Diego laughed, his dark eyes catching the last rays of the setting sun. “Not to worry. She doesn’t have to. My old man and my brother help me out. And I’m almost eighteen…. Weird conversation we’re having, Janet.”

“I couldn’t talk to anyone else like this. I’ve known you forever, Diego. You’re a part of me like no one else. This feels right, us being together. Part of me always knew we’d end up this way. And one day, we’ll make love, and it will be the right time. The pieces need to fall into place, that’s all.”

He kissed her almost desperately. “I love you so much, it aches inside. I know I won’t feel right until we’re together,” he whispered.

Diego walked her up to the door, kissing her good night on the porch. They’d been there a few minutes when Sookie turned on the lights, laughing at their consternation. Janet was ready to kill her, but Diego held her waist, kissing her once more.

“I can’t tell you what some younger sisters and brothers have done when I was saying good night. That’s pretty tame. Think what you were like at ten.”

“Yeah, boys were icky.”

He laughed. “I’m glad you got over that.”

“Me too.”

“See you tomorrow?”

“Call me after church. I’ve got a solo tomorrow. I’m so nervous.”

“You’ll be great. See you tomorrow.”

He gave her one last kiss. She went in the house and he headed to his car, waving as he drove away.

“Janet’s got a boyfriend! Janet’s got a boyfriend!” Sookie teased when her older sister walked in the house.

“Yes, I do, squirt. And he’s a really nice guy, so don’t mess it up for me.”

“Does Mom know?”

“Yes, Mom knows. And Mom likes him, so be nice to him.”

“You gonna marry him?”

“Maybe one day. Not anytime soon. We’re kids!”

“Are you gonna have sex with him?” Sookie leaned forward, frowning as she challenged her sister.

“Go to your room, Sookie,” their mother said from the dining room table.

The little girl flounced off to her room, slamming the door. Ilene stood, smiling at her daughter.

“Did you have a good time?”

“Yes. We saw the movie and went to Taco Village for dinner. Then we swung on the swings at the park.”

“Sounds like a fun first date.”

“Mom, it was so cool! Diego’s great! I’m so lucky!” She danced in circles while her mother laughed.

“We’d better call the doctor Monday about that pill,” she said with a sigh. “You’re not going to last much longer.”

“Is kissing always that divine?” Janet asked without really listening to her mother. “Like you’re melting inside?”

“If the man knows what he’s doing, it is.” She walked over to Janet. “I never thought I’d see you so happy. I know I haven’t always been—the most considerate. I spoil Sookie and take out my frustration on you, and that’s not right. I’m sorry.” She pulled Janet’s hair into a pony tail, smoothing it off her shoulders. “You deserve a good man and I think you found one. You just be careful. Think before you leap.”

“I will, Mama. I pro….”

“Don’t promise,” her mother said, putting her finger to Janet’s lips.

“Yes, ma’am. I’ve got some stuff to read for Monday,” she said, suddenly remembering. “Night, Mom!” She hugged her mother and went to her room, humming.

Ilene Yarkowsky hugged herself, fighting back the tears. She’d done a lot wrong in her life, starting with the night she walked out on Evander. Despite what she’d told Janet, she had left him because he was black. Maybe she would have married him if she’d known, maybe not. She wasn’t sure. But she’d walked out in anger, and regretted it ever since.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 21

After the movie, he introduces her to his co-workers and invites her to dinner at her favorite restaurant.

Several of their friends were lined up at the concession stand in couples or groups. They stopped to say hello. After chatting a few minutes, they headed to Taco Village, owned, by Diego’s uncle, and ordered their meals.

Diego’s cousins all worked for their father. They made a point of coming over to visit. Janet felt very on display. Diego could tell it was making her uncomfortable. When their food was served, he asked the cousin who served it to tell the others to stop.

“It’s like you guys never saw me with a date before. Why’s it such a big deal?”

His cousin Concetta tilted her head, staring at him a moment. “I dunno. You just look different. So happy. I guess we never saw you this way.”

“I look the same, Concetta.”

“Okay,” she said with a shrug. Tossing her long, black ponytail, she walked away.

After their meal, they drove to the park near Janet’s home and sat on the swings. The golden sunlight of the late summer sunset wreathed Janet in glorious orange and pink, turning her hair into a bronze halo.

Diego hopped off his swing, catching hers. He held it still, pushing the swing back until her mouth was even with his. She hung, suspended by the chains, mere inches from him. He stood between her legs, pressing against her, as his lips met hers.

Janet felt something firm press against her inner thigh. It took her a moment to realize what it was. When she did, she didn’t know whether to be surprised or humiliated. Moisture flooded her panties, making her self-conscious. Could he feel that, the way she felt him? Had she peed on herself? What was it?

Diego held her close, rubbing against her, throbbing hard and hot against her leg. She wanted to pull away, but at the same time, she didn’t. It felt naughty and wonderful at once, and she didn’t want it to stop. In fact, she wanted it to continue. It felt amazing. His mouth moved from her lips to her earlobe and down her neck. He nibbled on her shoulder and licked behind her ear. His breath felt hot in her skin, making her shiver. A small moan escaped her.

Janet felt Diego’s lips twitch in a smile. He’d done that on purpose, just to see how she’d react. Her nipples stiffened and another gush of warmth flooded from her. She had no idea how to respond to his advances. She knew he should stop, but it felt so incredibly good, she didn’t want to.

A piercing whistle got their attention. “Hey, you kids! The park’s closing!” A stout police officer walked across the lawn. “Need to head home, park’s closing.”

“Sorry, officer. Yes, sir,” Diego said.

“Yes, sir,” Janet said quietly.

“Sorry to butt in,” the man said. “But if you hang around, I gotta take you to the station. It’s my job.”

“No, we understand. Lost track of time,” Diego explained.

“No problem, kid. You have a nice evening.”

“Thank you, sir. You too.”

The officer waited until they got in Diego’s car and drove off, before heading to his vehicle. Diego was careful of his speed, suspecting the officer might follow them. His concern was well founded. They spotted the police cruiser when they turned down Janet’s street. It drove by on the cross street, not following them down the narrow side street.

“Well, that was interesting,” he said with a nervous laugh.

“It’s okay. He was nice about it anyway.”

“Yeah, some cops get nasty—white girl with a Chicano.”

“Why?”

“Hot blooded Mexican man with a white girl?” He rolled his eyes. “What do you think?”

“You’d never hurt me,” Janet said. “I’d trust you with my life.”

“I love you, Janet.”

“I love you, too.”

They kissed for some time, sealing the declaration of love they’d just shared. Diego stopped kissing her and he sat with his forehead resting on hers.

“Don’t make me wait too long, baby.”

Janet remembered how he felt between her thighs, so hard and hot, pulsing with every beat of his heart.

“I won’t,” she said softly. “But I want it special. I don’t want to be in the back seat of the car.”

“Me neither,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m too tall.”

“Mom wants me on the pill,” she said quietly. “I told her we were dating.”

“She was cool with that?”

“Yeah, surprisingly, she was. She said—she said…. She’d buy—supplies.” She covered her face. “I can’t believe I said that. Our first date’s not even quite over and I’m telling you my mom will buy us condoms.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books