Archive | September 2013

Bad Fall – Part 2

Bad FallHas Frank Atherton met his match with Ralph Penwarren? The older man seems full of bluster. What could he be after in his mother’s room?

“Don’t think that I’ll forget this.” Penwarren pointed a stubby finger at Sue.

“Sue,” Frank Atherton interjected. “If you have any trouble from Mr. Penwarren, you call me personally. Day or night. Understood?”

“Completely, Frank. I’ve got you on speed dial.” She hid a smile of satisfaction when Penwarren blanched.

“Since you seem to know where that room is located, I’ll leave you to it,” Frank said politely.

“Can I at least get help with my luggage?”

“This isn’t a hotel, Mr. Penwarren. It’s a retirement facility. We don’t have bellboys.”

“Can you—?”

Frank held his hands out from his sides, showing off his expensive charcoal pinstripe suit. “Saville Row suits do not carry luggage, Mr. Penwarren. Good night.” He nodded, backing toward the elevator.

“Asshole,” Penwarren mumbled as he went out the front door.

“Douchebag,” Frank muttered as he waited for the elevator.

Normally, Frank Atherton would have been home already, his feet up, a cold lager in his hand. However, they’d known all day that Penwarren was due to arrive. Not knowing the exact time, he’d stayed, spending the night in one of the guest rooms, just in case there was trouble. He didn’t live far, but making the drive in the cold, on potentially icy roads, in the middle of the night, held very little appeal.

Ralph Penwarren was a bully. He was also a skinflint who didn’t care enough about his mother to give her the care she needed. He visited once a year and bullied and belittled his mother the entire time.

Mabel Penwarren was a lovely, sweet natured, delicate woman in her late eighties. She endured Ralph’s behavior, but it took her a long time to bounce back after one of his visits. This one was unscheduled, due to a fall she had a week before. Ralph insisted on flying in to harangue the retirement facility, using her well being as an excuse.

Frank Atherton had met Penwarren twice before. He’d worked for Sheltering Oaks Retirement Home for almost three years in the purchasing department. His military experience had done him in good stead. He was organized, efficient and able to handle any crisis that arose. When the previous assistant manager quit unexpectedly, he’d been the logical choice to take over. He’d found out on the sly that his predecessor had left largely in part because of Ralph Penwarren.

Once in his room, Frank kicked off his shoes, loosened his tie and shrugged off his jacket. The room was comfortably warm, the heat blowing gently from wall units in the living room and bedroom. The small kitchen had been fully stocked by the housekeeping staff, minus beer, of course. No alcohol was allowed on campus as it was a church sponsored facility.

The dining room had sent up a meal for him, which he hadn’t had a chance to eat. He opened the ‘to go’ containers and emptied the contents onto a plate. Popping it into the microwave, he started the Salisbury steaks, mashed potatoes and green beans heating. It smelled good. Not a gourmet meal, but beat the crap he usually ate all to hell and back.

Frank wasn’t a cook. He ate out or fixed frozen dinners for himself. He wouldn’t starve, but the dining room meal was the closest he usually got to home cooked. Still single, he’d never even had a live in girlfriend. Overseas most of his military career, he hadn’t had the opportunity to make or maintain a long relationship with a woman. Special Ops had to be ready to bug out on a moment’s notice.

He’d gotten more than one call when he had the rare female company. Women tended not to like the fact he had to toss them out in the middle of the night so he could go on some mission he couldn’t talk about afterward.

So, he was single, unattached, bored, frustrated and horny. It was just as well he didn’t have any alcohol. The way he was feeling, he’d probably have drunk himself into oblivion.

The microwave dinged while he was donning his jeans and T-shirt. He pulled the shirt over his head and crossed the 10 feet between the bedroom and kitchen quickly. He grabbed a fork out of the drawer and went to the living room to eat. This guest room was only partially furnished. There was a TV, wingback chair and loveseat in the living room. No dining room table, but a small end table with a single lamp took up space to the left side of the couch.

The bedroom had a chest of drawers, the other end table a queen sized bed and a floor lamp. He’d scrounged the unoccupied guest room next door and pulled another floor lamp out of the closet. This, he added to the illumination in the bedroom. He turned on the dining area light and the lamp before clicking on the TV. Setting down his plate, he got himself a soda from the fridge, popping it open one handed.

“Crap,” he mumbled, hitting the remote to change the station. “Crap—crap—crap. . . . Caca en Españole.”

He continued to click until he got to the History Channel. A program on military intelligence gathering was ending. He watched until they started a program on Nazi death camps. Preferring not to see that yet again, he clicked once more.

The next channel was the Sheltering Oaks in-home station. It ran informational programs about the facility, but also interviews of residents, special guests and random strangers. An attractive young woman was talking about Alzheimer’s. She stressed keeping the brain active and suggested mental exercises to strengthen the mind.

© Dellani Oakes

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Bad Fall – Part 1

Bad FallFrank Atherton is a war hero who feels anything but heroic. Plagued by demons from his past military career, he’s settled in his home town hoping to live a simpler, more normal life. Those hopes are shattered with the arrival of the most annoying person ever to make his acquaintance.

“So, you’re telling me your incompetence caused my mother’s fall?” Ralph Penwarren bellowed at the hapless desk clerk.

“No, sir. That’s not what— I didn’t say— Mr. Penwarren!”

He hustled past her glassed in office, storming down the corridor to his mother’s apartment. “Mom?” He called and banged on the door.

“She’s not there,” the assistant director told him as he followed in the big man’s wake. “That’s what Sue was trying to tell you. She’s in the nursing facility now that she’s left the hospital. If you’d listened to Sue. . . .”

“Then show me where to find her,” Penwarren demanded.

“If you’d follow me. Quietly. The residents are mostly asleep. You’ll have the whole place awake if you aren’t careful.”

“Just because that would be inconvenient for you—”

“Not so much that, Mr. Penwarren. These people live a very orderly life. They, like your mother, pay for a service—one of those things being peace and quiet. You’re disrupting that. If you continue, I’ll have you removed.”

“You’ll try. . . .”

Frank Atherton drew himself up to a rather impressive height, broad chest straining against his tailored suit. Mr. Penwarren was a less impressive height and on the stocky side. He was loud, rude and inflammatory. The director didn’t like dealing with him, which was why Atherton had been enlisted. As a retired, combat honed Army Captain, he wasn’t intimidated by Penwarren.

Ralph’s blustering faded on his lips.

“Your mother is sleeping at the moment, but I’m sure she’d like to see you in the morning. Meanwhile, if you’d like to find a place to stay—”

“I’m gonna stay at her place.”

Atherton stopped walking, turning to Penwarren who panted a step or two behind him.

“With your mother’s permission. Another thing they pay for is privacy.”

“She’s my mother.”

“Yes. I’m not denying that.”

“She wants me to stay there.”

“She hasn’t given me any instructions to that effect. Nor has she contacted the front desk. We can set you up with a guest room.”

“Her room is already paid for. And now we’re also paying for her to stay in the nursing facility.”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“So, she doesn’t need her place.”

“Also true. However, her things are there. We’ll set you up with a guest room.”


“In the morning, when your mother wakes up, we’ll check with her and see what she has to say.”

“We’ll just wake her now!”

“I don’t think so. Your mother is recovering from major surgery. I won’t allow you to interfere with that process.”

“She fell because of your staff’s incompetence!”

Atherton faced Penwarren, taking a deep breath. “Your mother fell, Mr. Penwarren, because she needs to be in the assisted living facility. Something my boss has tried to tell you repeatedly. You refused to have her moved, citing that the expense was too great. Well, now you’ve the added expense of surgery and the stay in the nursing facility—not to mention rehabilitation. . . .”

“I thought her insurance covered all that.”

“Most of it, yes. There are always unexpected costs, things no insurance will cover. But your mother assures me that she’s financially set. Our records clearly show that she can afford it.”

“You have copies of her financial records?”

“Of course. That’s one thing she agreed to when she moved in.”

“I don’t like that, Atherton. I don’t like that at all!” His volume rose with each word.

“You can continue not to like it. Makes no difference to me. But if you don’t keep your voice down, I can and will remove you from our grounds. You think I can’t handle a man your size? I assure you, I’m fully capable of whooping your ass.” He kept his voice quiet, his tone calm and steady. “You’ve run roughshod over this place since your mother moved in six years ago. We all love Mabel. She’s a lovely lady. However, we aren’t as fond of you and we’re in no way obligated to allow you on the property. You keep that in mind, Mr. Penwarren, and conduct yourself accordingly.”

Atherton led the gasping Penwarren to the front desk and asked Sue for a room assignment. She flipped through her files and dug through the keys until she came up with one for him. She made him fill out paperwork and handed over the key with a smirk.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. This is in Building Three.”

“Yes, that’s correct.”

“That’s the middle of nowhere! Don’t you have anything closer to her place?”

“That’s closer to the nursing home, Mr. Penwarren,” Atherton assured him. “Since your mother will be there, it’s a logical place to be.”

© Dellani Oakes
To Purchase Dellani’s Books

It’s Time to Decide

Dellani Oakes with glasses

VOTING HAS CLOSED. Thank you all who participated.

Yes, my friends, it’s that time of year again. It Takes a Thief is over and I need a new book to share with you. I’ve listed short synopses of several of my novels below. Please vote for the one you’re most interested in reading.

I have one that needs a title, so leave me your ideas below. If I choose your title, you get your pick of one of my e-books!

Bad Day – Reva Kelly is a wedding planner with the top firm in the city. On the worst day of her life, she falls & breaks her ankle while at work. In a way, it’s the best thing that could have happened because she meets Dr. Hal Perrine, nephew of her boss. His uncle asked him to look in on her while she was in the emergency room. She and Hal hit it off and start dating, only to have Hal’s alarming secret come between them.

Bad Fall – Frank Atherton was a military man, until his brother-in-law is killed in a mission gone horribly wrong. He leaves the Army & heads home to small town Ohio where he takes the job as assistant director at a large scale elder care facility. He thinks his worst problem is the fact that the son of one of the residents, Ralph Penwarren, is giving him major headaches. Marka Ventimiglia is a new psychologist hired to work with Alzheimer’s patients. Shortly after her arrival, someone throws Penwarren over a balcony and trashes Frank’s office. Not only that, his car is vandalized and someone broke into his house, only to end up at the bottom of a raven with a broken neck. Why has someone targeted Frank? Are all these things interconnected?

Big Sleep – Roger Findley isn’t sleeping well. He even got a sleeping pill from his doctor, but even that isn’t helping. When a woman named Amber calls, claiming they had a passionate night out (when he thought he’d been home asleep) he wonders about her sanity or his. His boss, and sometimes beneficial friend, Siobhan Richards invites him to a gala event, he is happy to go. He’s also happy to go home with her afterward and warm her bed. She tells him she wants a baby and asks him to be the father. Stress from work and lack of sleep, make Roger do some very strange things.

Crime Makes an Entrance – Deacon Stewart suffered a “psychotic episode” brought on by drugs and alcohol abuse. Clean and sober, he’s taking a break from his high stress set design job in New York, and has taken a job as the technical director for a small, regional theatre in a small Florida beachside town. Little does he know that the excitement is just beginning. Someone is trying to bully the theatre owner into selling out and will go to any extreme to get what he wants.

Deserted – Alyssa Kendrake is a laid off teacher who needs a job. When she gets a mysterious e-mail to audition for a new TV show, she’s astounded, but decides to go. Her performance blows them away and they immediately hire her for the lead in their new show. Barry Sebring is the producer of the new show, as well as owner of the small network. He and his partners have put together a unique new program. It’s partly reality, partly scripted, rather like a game show along the lines of Survivor, but with elements like Fantasy Island. The cast & crew fly to a small island Barry owns, only to uncover an alarming truth.

Full Measure – Someone is embezzling money from a well to do psychiatric practice and Daphne Winstead is hired to find out who and why. She is introduced in the office as an efficiency expert. What Daphne doesn’t know could get her killed. She embarks on a quest to discover one truth only to be embroiled in an even hotter situation. It’s up to handsome & mysterious Ralan Hendrix to protect her and bring the guilty to justice.

Love Comes Lately – Madelyn Hirsch is reeling from a horrendous divorce. Forced to sell her beautiful, beachside home, she moves into a tiny apartment on the mainland. The only spark of good news is an e-mail about her high school reunion. Dubious about whether she wants to go, she reconnects with a former crush – Kirk Jensen. They get to know one another via chat and e-mail and he invites her to join him at the reunion. Will Madelyn find love with the man she liked so many years ago? Or will this be another serious crash and burn?

Posed for Love – Ianna Eaton is an art student. She thinks of herself as short, plump and frumpy. Imagine her surprise when handsome, tall, lean Reed Owens takes an interest in her. Everything seems to be going well until Reed is arrested for attacking a girl in her neighborhood and Ianna finds out he has a history of violence. Unable to believe that such a gentle man could have perpetrated such a heinous act, Ianna stands by Reed. Together, they discover the truth.

Set for Love – Bern Cortland is a Southern boy displaced to the big city. He’s the new technical director, overseeing the set building for a small, local theatre. Things are going great until Paige Russo moves in across the hall. Chilly and hard edged, Paige makes Bern’s life hell until one night when she has too much to drink – then she can’t get enough of that sweet stuff. Unfortunately, the attraction is short lived and she goes back to making him miserable. What will it take for Paige to see that Bern’s really the man for her?

This is the one that needs a title: 

Emerson Lake Palmer works in the college library. One day, he spots a gorgeous redhead as she struts toward him in her shorty shorts and crop top. Brooke Preston is the daughter of the new college president. They hit it off and start dating. Everything is going well until one night, when President Preston is out of town, someone breaks into Brooke’s house. She isn’t hurt, but it certainly scares her. Another break-in points to an intended kidnapping. Who could be after Brooke and why?

You’re welcome to leave more than one suggested title. ~ Dellani

It Takes a Thief – Part 70

It Takes a Thief coverHi name cleared, Jason is a free man. He has a job with the FBI and he can go completely legit.

They headed back to Jason’s house for a victory party. It was surrounded by reporters, but the FBI security men were still in place. They cleared off the reporters and photographers efficiently, offering to arrest them for trespassing if they didn’t leave.

The living room had once again been transformed, this time back into the luxurious environment it had been before the FBI took over. People bustled around the kitchen, preparing food. There were three people in the butler’s pantry pouring drinks and setting them on trays.

“Who paid for all this?” Jason asked.

“Honoria. She should be here any second,” Taylor replied with a grin. “And don’t worry, the staff are all from headquarters. No mysterious, dangerous caterers running about. They are fully vetted.”

“Did you do it personally?”

“No, but I know them all.”

“That’s good enough for me, then.” Jason smiled and cocked his head at her.

Taylor followed him down to his library. He pulled her inside, shutting the door.

“I’ve a question for you – and you can say no, but I do hope you won’t.”

“Okay….” She eyed him curiously.

“I’m a free man,” he said, taking her hands. He sat on the edge of a table, pulling her between his legs. “And I’ve got this tiny little place all to my onesies. Would you, Special Agent in Charge Taylor Driscole, agree to move in with me.”

“And share these cramped quarters?” She looked around at a room that was half again the size of the bedroom in her apartment. “You think there’s room for me?”

“We could be living in a cardboard box and I’d have room for you, my love. Will you think about it?”

“I don’t have to think about it for a second. Yes. I would love to move in with you.”

Jason’s eyes brightened. “Thank you! And I’ll be a good boy from now on. Strictly legit. I’ve got my FBI credentials to prove it.”

Taylor giggled, holding him close. She could feel his body swell with desire. If there hadn’t been so many people in the house, most of them armed, she’d have considered making love to him right there in the library.

“I trust you, Jason. More than I ever thought possible. You understand me better than anyone has ever before.”

He pulled her close, nibbling her neck, his hands roaming over the familiar, luscious curves of her body.

“And you get me too.” He laughed, tossing his hair from his face. “If someone had told me a week ago I’d not only be a free man, but in love with an FBI agent, I’d have thought him insane.”

“And if anyone had told me the same thing, I’d have clocked him.” She kissed him deeply.

“Just goes to show, love. It takes a thief to steal your heart.”


To Purchase Dellani’s Books:

Ninja Tattoo

Under the Western Sky

Indian Summer

Lone Wolf

It Takes a Thief – Part 69

It Takes a Thief coverOrchid is under arrest and Judge Walker has summoned them to the court. It’s a media madhouse out front, so they go in the back way. Even so, the cameras find them, following the team to the courtroom.

They walked into the courtroom in a wave of flashbulbs, camera lights and microphones. The media descended like vultures circling a particularly juicy corpse. It didn’t bother Jason, who merely waved and smiled – teeth and custom cuff links flashing as brightly as the cameras. Taylor and the FBI team did their best to keep the crowd back. Jason worked the group like a pro, but the mob scene bothered him. Taylor could see it in the set of his shoulders and the tenseness of his spine.

Finally, the media settled down when the bailiff called for all to rise.

“The Honorable Judge Honoria Walker presiding.”

Honoria strutted in, smiling. She took her seat and eyed the crowd with her hands folded in front of her.

“Normally, I don’t allow this circus in my courtroom,” she began. “But today is a special occasion. As long as you stay quiet and don’t disturb the proceedings, you can stay,” she admonished the press. “The second you get out of hand, you’re toast. Understood?”

She wasn’t satisfied until all the reporters nodded and replied, “Yes, Your Honor.”

“Good. Jason Banes, come forward.”

Jason rose, buttoning his jacket and adjusting his cuffs. Bailiff Cortland walked him up to the seat. He didn’t swear Jason in, but he did wink when the judge wasn’t looking. Folding his hands in front of him, he stepped to the side.

“Jason Banes, the charges of murder and accessory to murder have been dropped,” Judge Walker said with a smile. “And I’m glad to say that the prosecutor had the sense to re-evaluate the evidence tying you to this crime. In light of your participation on the team which captured Orchid, theft charges have also been dropped. Because of your generous contributions to the sting operation that led to her capture, you’re being awarded a key to the city.” She nodded to a man who sat nearby.

Jason recognized the mayor’s face from campaign posters. He stood as the older man approached. The mayor shook Jason’s hand and handed him a gold plated key on a plaque.

“To Jason Banes, for his heroic deeds. Your city and I thank you, Mr. Banes.” The mayor smiled and shook Jason’s hand again.

Flashbulbs flashed and they stood for a few moments, presenting a satisfactory photo opportunity for the photographers. The grin didn’t fade, nor did the twinkle in the merry blue eyes as the mayor took his place in the gallery once more.

“This is fantastic,” Jason said with a grin. “Never got a key to a city before. Thank you, sir. This is quite an honor.”

“You deserve that and a lot more,” the mayor said from his seat.

Blushing, Jason thanked him again, taking his seat. Honoria hadn’t dismissed him.

“I want to add a personal thank you,” she continued. “And there are a few more people who would like to extend their thanks.” She motioned to the gallery.

Bailiff Drover opened the gate, allowing a group of people through. Jason recognized the families of the dead hostages. He stepped down to greet them. Mrs. Prentice came up first. She put her arms around him, hugging him close.

“Thank you, darling boy, for helping my husband find rest.”

“You’re welcome,” he replied, hardly knowing how to handle the emotions that flooded him.

Each of the family members introduced themselves, thanking him and giving him gifts. Jason had never felt so welcomed in his entire life. It was almost too much.

Honoria tapped her gavel. The family members took their seats once more. She smiled at them.

“Jason, one more thing before we go. I hear you’re a bit of a security expert.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jason replied quietly. “A bit.”

Director Remington stepped forward. “I want to offer you a position with my department as a security consultant. Here are your credentials, Mr. Banes. Welcome to the FBI.”

Jason whooped, one hand shooting into the air. “Mr. Remington, you’ve made me the happiest chap in the room,” he said with a laugh. “Thank you, sir. I won’t disappoint.”

“I know that, kid. You haven’t disappointed yet.”

Honoria banged her gavel once more and Cortland called for all to rise. Before she left, Jason took her hand, kissing it.

“Thank you, Honoria,” he whispered. “How I wish I had a mum like you.”

Honoria folded him in her arms, kissing his cheek. “I’d be proud to call you my son,” she replied softly. “And I’ve always room in my heart for one more.”

She left, wiping her eyes. Jason watched her walk through the door to her chambers and a single tear trickled down his cheek.

© Dellani Oakes

Ninja Tattoo

Under the Western Sky

Indian Summer

Lone Wolf

It Takes a Thief – Part 68

It Takes a Thief coverWith Orchid in custody, the team can relax. She’s now someone else’s problem. Jason breathes a sigh of great relief when she’s arrested. Jason tells them that she uses her cologne and lipstick to drug unsuspecting men. He also says he now feels as if he’s been on a four day drunk.

Taylor supported him, leading him to the nearest emergency vehicle. “And you know that because?”

Jason chuckled. “Have you a phone handy?”

“Yes, why?”

“I feel the overwhelming urge to call my son,” he replied.

Taylor’s eyes filled with tears and she fished her phone out of her bag. “Of course.”

Nodding his thanks, Jason dialed. Rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger, he spoke softly into the phone. Taylor walked a few steps away to give him privacy.

“Hi, Jane. It’s Jason. I know it’s late…. It’s been a hell of a week, love. And I wouldn’t normally ask. But may I speak to Jeff?”

That was the last Taylor heard. The team surrounded her, all talking at once, congratulating one another.

Orchid was strapped and cuffed to a gurney. She was loaded into an ambulance and two female agents got in with the female attendant. They went straight to the secure wing of the downtown hospital, where Orchid would be incarcerated until they could take her to jail.
Remington took it upon himself to see to her security detail personally.

Jason concluded his call and Taylor walked back over to him. He sat with his head on his hand, trying his best not to cry. She put her arm around him, kissing his cheek.

“All better?”

He smiled up at her, tears in his dark eyes. “Yeah, amazingly enough. Jane invited me for a visit. I told her I had to clear up a few details before I could get away.”

Taylor nodded, putting her head on his shoulder, snuggling closer. A commotion a few feet away, got their attention. Someone struggled with the officer, talking loudly. It took a moment to hear words, but the voice was unmistakable.

“Judge Walker?” Jason stood with Taylor at his side.

“There’s my boy!” Honoria rushed forward, Kyle Tourney in her wake. “Are you all right?” She examined him carefully.

Jason chuckled, her ministrations tickled. “Yes, ma’am. I’m fine. We got the nasty, wicked witch.”

“So I hear. Pity she’s not dead,” she replied. “I’m so glad you’re all right. You scared a year off my life going off with her like that.”

“Couldn’t have her kidnap the woman I love, could I?” He hugged Taylor.

“You’d be no kind of gentleman if you did.” She hugged him. “Court, tomorrow at eleven. All of you be there.”

“What? I thought I was a free man.”

“I want this official,” Honoria said with a grin. “Eleven. Dress well, there will be press.” She kissed his cheek, patting his face before leaving.

“Speaking of dressing well,” Jason said with a groan. “Look at this mess. Luigi will kill me.”

His beautiful suit was covered in dirt and blood. The elbows and knees were grubby, the nape of the material scuffed from the pavement. His shirt was blood stained and sweaty.

“You’re not hurt, are you?” Taylor asked, suddenly concerned. She hadn’t noticed all the blood before.

“Don’t think so.” Jason said, feeling himself. “Give me an exam, Agent Driscole.”

“That’s Special Agent in Charge Driscole.”

“Of course it is.” He held her close, kissing her.

It took some time, but they were finally able to head back to Jason’s house for the night. The mission might be over, but none of them felt like going anywhere else. Besides, they all had to be in court the following day. It made more sense to be all in once place.

They finally got to bed around 4:00. Setting the alarm for their morning wake up, Taylor undressed. Standing naked in front of him, her eyes held a challenge.

“Oi, love. You do know how to make a man happy.”

“I owe you a physical,” she replied, undoing his tie.

“That you do. Join me in the shower?”

They had a long, hot, satisfying shower. Taylor noted that there was nothing wrong with Jason. Everything was just as it should be. They fell into bed, happy and satisfied. Lights out, they snuggled together and fell asleep.

In what felt like no time at all, the alarm rang and it became a morning rush of showers, dressing and coffee. The team piled into the SUVs and headed toward the courthouse. They arrived about fifteen minutes early, going in by the back entrance. The front of the courthouse was surrounded by vans from every TV station in the city. Reporters stood with the courthouse to their backs, talking excitedly into their microphones.

“Fiasco,” Tim muttered. “What’s that judge doing now?” He frowned, buttoning his jacket, as he got out of the van.

Jason smiled. “Making it possible for me to hold my head up in public,” he replied. He kissed Taylor’s cheek. “Let’s do this.”

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani’s Books:

Ninja Tattoo

Under the Western Sky

Indian Summer

Lone Wolf

It Takes a Thief – Part 67

It Takes a Thief coverJason takes out Orchid’s waiter. She takes Taylor hostage, but Jason exchanges himself for her. It’s not simply a magnanimous gesture on his part, mostly he wants to be front line when Orchid gets what’s coming to her.

Jason nodded, his face blank. Taylor saw the change in him immediately. She could also see him fighting it. Orchid had been able to work her magic before because he had nothing to hold onto. Now, he had her and she wasn’t going to let him down.

“Jason, I’m here,” she assured him. “I’ve got your back.”

“Isn’t that adorable? The little whore is trying to protect you.”

Jason smiled, his eyes vague. “Adorable.” He caressed Orchid’s breast as they walked to the far doors.

Part of Jason knew she was trying to ensnare him again and part of him didn’t care. The aware, paranoid part of him fought the mesmerized self. It felt like he had a cat fight inside him, both sides clawing and scratching wildly. Doing his best to keep his composure, he walked away from the woman he loved. Her voice gave him something to latch onto and he held that connection with Taylor as hard as he could.
Orchid backed out of the room and he walked with her, feeling her up as he went. He found the holster for another weapon strapped to her thigh. It was strangely warm, taking its heat from her magnificent body.

“Miss me, baby?” she asked as the left the auditorium.

“Yeah.” Like herpes.“I missed you, baby.”

“Are you leading me into a trap?” she snarled, jerking hard on his arm.

“Never. I want to get you somewhere quiet and do nasty things to you.”

Her laugh chilled him. Orchid bit his ear, hard. It was all he needed to clear his head.

“Sure, baby. Once more for old time’s sake. Shame to kill you, you have such a magnificent cock.”

They walked more quickly now. Jason had familiarized himself with the building’s layout earlier that day. Obviously, Orchid had too. She led him unerringly to the staff entrance, down a long, narrow hallway. It was dimly lit, but he could see different doors feeding off it. They were dark.

His ear piece was strangely silent. He suspected that the team had gone to a different channel so Orchid couldn’t listen in if she found it. An emptiness replaced the cat fight. He was alone – again. Sighing deeply, he walked resignedly to the door. He didn’t even protest when Orchid shoved him toward it.

“I’m here, Jason.” Taylor’s voice filled his ear. “We can see you on the heat sensor. When you hit the back door, step forward and drop. Clear your throat if you copy.”

Jason grunted slightly, clearing his throat.

“Jason, we’re here, buddy. Just a few more steps.” Tim spoke confidently.

The other team members piped up, including the women, all letting him know they were there after all. Filled with a new confidence, Jason walked with Orchid to the back door. She shoved him in front of her and he let her, knowing what he had to do.

“Nothing fancy, buddy. No heroics,” Greg said calmly. “I got her in my sights. Give me one more step, then drop.”

Jason took another tentative step and stumbled, falling to one knee. Orchid found herself exposed. Screaming, she trained her weapon on him, ready to fire. Her shoulder exploded in a mass of blood and bone splinters. She whirled away from him, flailing as she fell. Her gun clattered to the ground. Jason swept it up, holding it in his left hand, aiming at her head.

“Don’t!” Taylor yelled. “She’s down. Don’t do it.”

“Back away,” Tim said. “Just back off.”

They were surrounded by men in SWAT uniforms. Jason let the weapon hang from his fingers as the officers approached him.

Orchid lay in a growing pool of blood, cursing loudly. A medic approached.

“She’s strapped,” he cautioned. “Left thigh. May be more. She’s a crazy bitch. Knock her out.”

Orchid’s curses turned more creative as she groped at her weapon. The medic was quicker. A hypodermic appeared in his hand and he stabbed it into her vein without a swipe of alcohol. Orchid’s curses died on her lips as she went unconscious.

Jason approached, standing over her. He handed the weapon to the nearest SWAT officer. Sneering, he gazed at the downed beauty and spit on her. Spinning on his heel, he strode away, looking for Taylor.

She stood a few feet away, weapon in hand, an FBI issue vest strapped over her evening gown. Still in her four inch heels, silver swirling around her, she was the most beautiful sight Jason had ever seen. Rushing toward her, he swept her into his arms, kissing her deeply.

“You did it!” she said when he gave her a moment to get her breath back. “You did it, Jason. You’re a hero!”

“Why didn’t Greg kill her?”

“She turned,” Greg said over the ear piece. “Had the bitch in my sights!”

“At least the families can see her brought to justice,” Taylor said. “That’s important, isn’t it?”

Jason nodded, not sure that it was. “Watch her, you lot,” he called to the SWAT team. “Don’t for a second underestimate her.” He turned to Taylor. “It’s her cologne and lipstick. The combination drags a man under. Tell someone.” He grabbed at his head. “God, I feel like I’ve been on a four day drunk.”

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani’s Books:

Ninja Tattoo

Under the Western Sky

Indian Summer

Lone Wolf