Archive | October 2013

Bad Fall – Part 11

Bad Fall

End of day, Frank and Marka have plans for dinner and an evening together. Frank can’t believe how comfortably and completely Marka has fit into his life.

He was just locking his office when Marka shut hers. She looked chilly, but happy to see him.

“I can tell I’ll have to dress more heavily tomorrow. This cardigan wasn’t enough.”

“Bring your winter coat.”

“I don’t really have one. I moved up from Florida. I have some cool weather things, but the temperatures we get aren’t nearly like that!”

“There are some stores in town that sell clothing at decent prices. They should have a good selection right now.”

She smiled, lighting a fire in his heart. “Do I need to check in and out?”

“You’re salary, right? No time clock.”

“There’s so much to learn the first few days.”

“Yeah. And we have a weird way of doing things around here. It works, but it took me awhile to acclimate. It’s not like the Army, set schedule for everything. I’m still learning to roll with it.”

“Surely, you’re not that inflexible.”

“I’m real flexible, but got me some bad habits.” He stopped by the front desk. “Sue, looks like I’m gonna have to spend another night here. I don’t like our special guest’s behavior.”

“Shall I have dinner sent up?”

“No. I’ve got plans, but thanks.”

“Don’t you think you should just stick around until Penwarren leaves?” Sue glanced around, lowering her voice. “I heard him yelling at Kenny earlier. He’s furious about not being able to get in his mom’s room. He’s acting crazy.”

“Ask Charlie to call me when he comes in. Meanwhile, have the guys keep an eye on that wing.”

“Already doing that. That’s why Kenny was there. Mr. P. was yelling at some of the girls earlier when they went in to clean. They wouldn’t let him in the room.”

“Why didn’t anyone call me?”

“I don’t know. I thought Kenny told you.”

“If we have to, we call the cops, okay?”

“Yes, Frank.”

“Sue, this isn’t your fault. Okay, I’m going by my place to get clean socks and then the grocery store. If there’s any problem with our pal, call the cops then call me.”

“Yes, Frank.”

He smiled, reaching through the window to take her hand. He kissed the knuckles. “You’re the best, babe. Thanks.”

Sue sighed as he walked off. She might be 15 years older than he was, and married, but she wasn’t immune to his charm.

“I can’t wait to meet this guy,” Marka said as they walked to his car.

“Trust me, you can. He’s such a dick. He’s making me fucking crazy!” He kept his voice down, but the F-word echoed around them.

“Such strong language from such a clean cut guy,” she reprimanded gently.

“Sorry. Please tell me you aren’t one of those women who’s put off by bad language. I’m an F-word kinda guy.”

“My dad was in the military, Frank. Do you really think I haven’t heard it before?” She giggled. “Some of these old folks have delicate sensibilities. We’re dealing with a lot of retired ministers.”

He chuckled, tossing his keys and catching them one handed. “True.” He clicked the button on his keyring and his black Cayenne beeped.

The setting sun chose that precise moment to drop between two trees, setting her dark hair aglow. Her face, partially cast in shadow, smiled up at him. Until that moment, he couldn’t have told anyone the color of her eyes. Even after all the time he’d spent with her that day. When she turned her head, the sun glimmered in them, dropping to the depths, to rise again as a glittering topaz. The honey brown orbs twinkled merrily.

“Penny for your thoughts,” she said with a grin.

“Oh, hell, they aren’t worth that much.” He cleared his throat. “I think I got too much sleep. Off my game. Okay, first I need to stop at my place, then on to the IGA for food. If I’m staying here a few days, I need to stock a few things.”

“Okay. Where do you live?”

“Kinda out in the country. I wanted something closer to town, but when you see it, you’ll understand.”

“Onward and upward, excelsior.”

“I had to memorize that poem in elementary school,” he commented as he fastened his seat belt.

“Oh, horrors! For me, it was John Gilpin’s Ride.”

“Uugh. . . . Rime of the Ancient Mariner, tenth grade.”

“Me too. Oh, but I loved that one. It was so grim and murky.”

“Yeah, I always kinda figured Coleridge was trippin’ when he wrote that.”

She burst out laughing. “Yeah, I can see that.”

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani's Books

To Purchase Dellani’s Books

Bad Fall – Part 10

Bad Fall

After lunch, Frank’s good mood is shattered by another encounter with Ralph Penwarren. The short, fat man has a burr up his butt, determined to get into his mother’s room.

“I need to get into Mom’s place.”

“She made it pretty clear she doesn’t want you there.”

“It’s silly to pay for a guest room when her apartment is—”

“It’s her money, not yours. Unless you’re worried about her spending your inheritance.”

There was an uneasy pause. “Now you’re just being rude.”

“Actually, I’m being facetious. But I can do rude so you can hear the difference. What—did you want?”

“Mom needs some things.”

“There’s a staff over there who are paid to help you with that. If you’re going to keep wasting my time with nonsense, I’ll have you removed. Was there,” he said with a note of finality. “Anything important?”

“I’ll complain to your superiors, Atherton.”

“Go ahead and try, Penwarren. If my boss actually speaks to you, which I doubt.”

“I’ll have your job, Atherton!”

“You couldn’t handle my job, Penwarren. I’d hate to see how you’d treat people who act like you.” Without another word, he hung up.

The rest of the afternoon went fairly smoothly. Frank had only one more problem involving Penwarren. Around 4:30, he tried again, unsuccessfully, to get into his mother’s room by using a credit card. The only thing he succeeded in doing was damaging his credit card beyond repair. He waddled off in a huff to call the company for a new one.

“What’s that guy’s problem?” Kathy’s husband, Kenny, asked him. He was the one who’d found Penwarren.

“He’s got a hair up his ass about getting into that room. I can’t imagine it’s just because he wants to squat there while his mom’s in rehab. I think it’s got to be more. I’m gonna go talk to Mabel and see if there’s anything we need to put in the vault for her.”

Sheltering Oaks had a small bank branch on the main floor near the front office. They had safe deposit boxes for the residents to rent at a minimal fee.

It didn’t take Frank long to walk to Mabel’s room. For once, her son wasn’t hovering. No one had seen him in the nursing home, but one of the maintenance men had been cursed with his presence when he went out for a smoke.

“What an asshole,” the young man grumbled. “Wouldn’t even offer me a light when mine died. Had to wait until someone else came out.”

Frank scrabbled in his pocket for a moment and handed the young man a lighter.

“Thanks, man. You don’t need this?”

“I keep it for emergencies. I don’t smoke anymore, but after Penwarren’s here a couple more days, I might start back.”

The young man laughed, thanked him for the lighter and they parted.

Mabel was reading a book when he walked in. She set it aside, smiling at him. Her face clouded as he told her what had happened.

“What’s wrong with him?” She sighed, folding her hands in her lap. “I’m so sorry. He always was a fractious boy. I’m actually his stepmother, you know. His own mother died when he was about half grown. She indulged him. His father spoiled him. I did my best. . . . My own son wasn’t a bit like Sonny. He died in Vietnam.”

Frank nodded. Mabel had told him more than once about her son’s death.

“He died a hero, Mabel.”

“He was a good boy. Not like his brother.” She picked at her blanket. “But Sonny’s all I’ve got left.”

“I know, Mabel. Listen, I’m a little concerned that there’s something valuable that he’s after. Do you have anything you want me to put in the safe? I could take head of security and your surrogate with me.”

“I can’t think of a thing, Frankie. All my jewelry is in the vault already. The only thing I have that he might want, is his father’s watch. But it’s not worth that much.”

“Is it in the vault too?”

“I don’t remember, Frankie. Be a dear and look, will you? If it’s anywhere other than the vault, it will be in the top drawer of my birdseye maple dresser. On the right, under my hankies.”

“Before I go in, I have to get your surrogate and Jeff in here to verify.”

“Tomorrow will do. I’m very tired.”

“I know, Mabel. You sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He kissed her frail hand and left.

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani's Books

To Purchase Dellani’s Books

Bad Fall – Part 9

Bad Fall

Frank takes Ralph Penwarren to visit his mother. Mable makes it very clear she doesn’t want Ralph staying in her room. Once again, Frank has to lay down the law with the obstreperous man. Afterward, he meets with Marka for lunch.

“Gotcha. As it happens, I’m an incredibly good cook. I have nothing to cook. . . ..”

“I’ll show you the grocery store while we’re out. There’s an IGA not far from campus. Close to your house. Nice place, by the way. Did you buy it?”

“I talked the guy into renting.”

“Must be nice! I looked at that place when I first came to town. It’s within walking distance, well built, roomy. . . . But he had his mind set on selling. I didn’t want to rope myself into a mortgage, so I looked elsewhere.”

“No offense, Frank. You don’t have what it takes to negotiate properly with Mr. Simpson.”

“Oh? So, my business savvy let me down, huh?”

“Has nothing to do with that. I have one thing you lack.”

“Do tell.”

She leaned back, shoving her chest forward provocatively. “Tits.”

He nearly ran a stop sign, admiring her firm, round breasts. “That’s—uh… two things that you have that I—don’t.”

“Good point.” She sat back, eyeing him curiously. “You okay?”

“I’m great! Couldn’t be better.” I could, but it would involve getting naked.

“You look ready to choke.”

He continued to sit at the stop sign. “You say that after what you just did?”

Marka frowned. “What’d I do?”
“The whole tits thing.” He motioned abstractly with his hand, raising and lowering it in front of her chest.
“Is that all? You act like you’ve never seen a woman’s chest before.”
“Untrue. More than a few times—just not so much here lately.” He mumbled as he made the turn into the restaurant parking lot.
Marka gazed at Frank’s profile as he concentrated on parking the car. Every line of his body was tense.

“Must’ve been quite a breakup,” she said quietly.

“It wasn’t good, that’s for sure.”

“Sometimes talking about it helps make it go away.”

“Not much gonna make this any better.”

“You remember that I’m a trained psychologist, right?”

He nodded. “Yeah. And?”

“I’m a good listener.”

“Thanks. Right now, all I want is some mushu pork.”

“It does sound good.”

He came around and opened her door. As he helped her out, Marka’s fingers lingered on his arm.

“I don’t mean to pry. You have the look of a man who needs to unburden.”

He forced a smile. “Maybe another time.” He didn’t feel much like unburdening to a woman he was interested in. Trained psychologist or not, he kept past relationships to himself.

“Mushu pork is calling.”

“Something like that.” He forced a smile.

They had a good time at lunch, finding that they had a great deal in common. By the end of their meal, Frank knew she also had a military father, a teacher for a mother and a younger sister, and loved rock climbing and rappelling.

“There are some great places to go around here. One of the guys who works in the kitchen has wilderness training. He’s cool. We’ve been out a few times. If you ever want to go, I’ll set it up.”
“I’d like that. Once I’m settled. Most of my stuff is in storage. Can’t go hiking and climbing without my gear.”

“Never let it be said I dragged a woman into the wilderness without her hiking shoes.”

He walked her to her office, saying a polite goodbye. He wanted to ask her to dinner, but thought that might be overkill. He wanted to kiss her, but that really wasn’t the way to go.

“We didn’t go by the grocery store,” she said as he was leaving.

“Totally forgot. I was too enthralled with the company.”

“I thought I’d cook you dinner. As a thank you.”

“I’d like that. We can head over after work.”

“Super. See you then.”

“If not before.”

Her eyes sparkled as she smiled at him. “That’s a given.”
The urge to kiss her was stronger by the minute. Mentally kicking himself into gear, he went to his office. A rude note from Ralph Penwarren was scrawled on his desk calendar. “Call me,” followed by a cellphone number.

Frank angrily jabbed the number into this phone, cursing vociferously as he waited for Ralph to answer. He figured it would be just like the man to insist he call immediately and ignore him when he did. He wasn’t surprised when it went to voice mail. He left a terse message and hung up.

Of course, once he was in the middle of something else, Penwarren called.

“Good, you got my message.”

“Don’t go in my office without my permission,” Frank countered. “Don’t leave messages on my desk calendar and don’t treat me like a menial peon. No one on this staff is your servant.”

“I made eighty-five thousand dollars last year, Atherton.” As if that made any difference.

“I don’t have time to play games with you, Penwarren. Why did you want me to call?”

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani's Books

To Purchase Dellani’s Books

Bad Fall – Part 8

Bad FallDespite having to deal with Mr. Penwarren, Frank is pretty happy. He finds himself greatly attracted to Marka, finding her a fascinating companion.

Mr. Penwarren was in his office when he returned. Frank opened the door to a gimlet stare. Taking a step back, Frank eyed the door, his glance moving to Mr. Penwarren, who was sitting in his chair behind his desk. The chubby, older man glared at him, his fingers steepled in front of his lips.

“You’re late.”

“Some reason you’re in my chair?” He stood next to the desk, staring down at Ralph Penwarren.

Penwarren rose slowly, moving ponderously out of Frank’s way.

“You caused some trouble for one of my housekeepers last night,” Frank stated without preamble. “She’s not the maid and my people aren’t at your disposal for you to order around on a whim.”

“The room was filthy.”

“The room was fine. You resented having to pay for a guest room, so you took it out on her.”

“You told me we’d go see my mother this morning.”

“I did. Though I didn’t specify a time. I have things to do, Mr. Penwarren. I’m not at your disposal either.”

“I thought the sooner we could get this settled—”

“Yes. I agree.”

“Only you weren’t in your office. Where have you been for the last hour?”

“None of your business. As it happens, I can give you fifteen minutes. That should be long enough to talk to your mother and get this straightened out. You can visit with her for a little while.”

Frank set a rapid pace, heading toward the nursing and rehabilitation facility which was easily accessible from the main building. Penwarren had trouble keeping up. He was red faced, panting and sweating when they arrived. Frank took no pity on him. He found a nurse and they went to Mabel Penwarren’s room together. He wanted a witness so whatever the old lady said, he had backup.

“Mom,” Ralph said from the doorway. His tone held genuine concern.

Somewhat taken aback, Frank followed him into the room. Mabel held out her arms to her son. He hugged her gently, kissing her cheek.

“You okay, Mom? You look tired.”

“I’m fine, Sonny. You’d look tired too if you were all full of pins and needles. They got me all put back together again, just like Humpty Dumpty. When did you get in?”

“Not until late. The damn flights were delayed in Atlanta by weather.”

“You’re here now. That’s all that’s important.”

“I wanted to stay in your place last night.”

“Company policy, Mabel. I couldn’t let him without your permission.”

“Oh, of course you couldn’t. Are you sure you’ll be comfortable there? You’re always telling me my place is too crowded.”

“I thought I could go through some things for you.”

“I’m not dead yet! I’ll thank you to leave my things alone! I prefer for him to have a guest room for now,” she said to Frank.

“Sure, Mabel. He’s set up. The room’s nice and close to you here. If you need anything, call me.”

She held out her hand to him. Frank leaned over, planting a soft kiss on the withered cheek.

“You need to eat more, Mabel. The kitchen tells me you’re turning away your food.”

“It’s inedible, Frankie. I used to be a chef. I wrote cookbooks! This slop they serve. It’s not fit for rats.”

“I know. Maybe Sonny can sneak you in a meal from time to time.”

“I can do that, Mom. Tell me what you want, I’ll get it.”

Ralph was the most subdued and cooperative Frank had ever seen him.

“I need to run, Mabel. It’s Monday, and. . . .”

“Everybody works on Monday,” she chimed in with him.

“Exactly. You know how to reach me.” He murmured to the nurse as he walked out. “You call if she needs anything. And if he gives you any trouble. . . .”

“Got it, boss.”

Frank headed back to his office. For the next hour, he made calls and caught up on his e-mail. By noon, he finally had a handle on the massive influx of items needing his immediate attention.

There was a light tap on his doorframe. Marka was there, his jacket in her hands, a warm cardigan around her shoulders. She’d changed into camel colored slacks that clung invitingly to her hips.

“I brought back your jacket, but you weren’t here. Then I got busy with my first session.”

“Had to take Penwarren to see his mom. How did your first session go?”

“It was great! I went to assisted living and met all of them. Wonderful people. We had a good time talking about what I hope to accomplish. I got their input on what sort of activities would interest them. Tomorrow should be even better.”

“Great! I’m bored out of my mind by drivel that a monkey could do.” He escorted her to his car and drove slowly off campus. “I thought we’d go to Salem for lunch. That’s if you like Chinese?”

“Love it.”

“They have a fantastic buffet. I almost always eat out. I can’t cook worth dick,” he admitted with a laugh.

Marka smirked, eyes twinkling. “That right? Not worth dick, huh?”

“Not worth Richard,” he amended with a laugh, smoothing his tie.

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani's Books

To Purchase Dellani’s Books

Bad Fall – Part 7

Bad FallAfter breakfast, Frank escorts Marka to the conference room.

Frank opened the conference room door for her. They were a little early, so he showed her the artwork on the walls.

“There was a fellow named Viktor Schreckengost who lived around here. He was an architect and artist. This is some of his original artwork.”

“This is like the picture in my room.”

“Yes, that’s one of his too. The third floor of building four has even more of his things on permanent display. I’ll show you later, if you like.”

“I would. I like his style.”

“Me too.”

The director entered and greeted Marka politely. He was followed by other members of the staff. They took their seats, waiting patiently for the meeting to begin. Frank made sure he was sitting beside Marka, although by the unofficial pecking order, he should have been higher up the table.

Jeff Norton, the director, started the meeting by introducing Marka. Several of the staff had already met her and most of them were familiar with her work. A few had even seen her broadcast. All of them were genuinely pleased to meet her.

Marka gave a short speech, thanking everyone for welcoming her. She gave an extra thank you to Frank for showing her around and the meeting began in earnest.

Frank realized about halfway through the meeting that he shouldn’t have seated himself next to Marka. He could smell her perfume and every time she crossed her legs to the right, her left foot brushed against his leg. By the end of the hour long meeting, he was ready to burst.

“Did you see your office yet?” Mr. Norton asked Marka as the meeting broke up.

“No. I got in late in the afternoon Saturday and went right to the studio for the broadcast. I spent the rest of the weekend getting settled.”

“Frank, you want to show her?”

“Is she in the arctic office?”

Jeff actually smiled, laughing slightly at the joke.
“Unfortunately. Hope you’ve got a parka and mukluks.”

“Frank warned me that it’s cold.”

“I’ll leave you to that, then.” Jeff dismissed them both with a nod and a half smile.

Frank led the way to the end of the hall, pointing to his own office on the way. It was fairly spacious, well lit and neatly organized. A narrow window gave him a view of the fountain in front of the building. He didn’t have much in the way of personal belongings other than a picture of himself with his parents and a photo of a pretty blonde with two children. The older of the two boys looked a lot like Frank. He didn’t miss her lingering look at the photo.

“My younger sister and her boys. That’s Sean and Patrick.” He pointed to the one who looked like him first. “Her husband was with me in Iraq. He didn’t make it back.”

“I’m so sorry.”

He shrugged, sliding around her out the door. “Sometimes good people die.” He rushed to another door, unlocking it.
“This is you.”

The room was at least five degrees colder than his office or the hallway. Marka shivered. Tucking her hands into her armpits, she walked in. The room was almost as big as Frank’s office with a small window overlooking the lawn, currently brown from the cold.

“This is nice,” she said. “Cold, but nice.”

“You can go up and get a jacket,” Frank told her. “Maybe change into slacks.”

“I might just do that. Maybe I’ll order a pair of battery operated socks while I’m at it.”

He laughed, nodding. “Yeah. I used to tease Emily about that. I even bought her a pair, but she never used them.”

“Foolish woman.” She shivered again.

Frank slipped off his jacket and hung it around her shoulders.

“Thanks.” The jacket was warm from his body and smelled like his cologne. It was a nice scent, outdoorsy, fresh and sporty.

“Check your desk. See if there’s anything you need. If you do, call supply and they’ll bring you whatever. If we don’t have it, we can get it fast. There’s an office store in town. They deliver too. The number’s on the sheet on the desk.”

“What sheet on the desk?”

He pulled out a sliding panel. Taped and laminated to the wooden surface was a list of numbers. Some were typed on, others written in a bold, feminine hand.

“Emily was very well organized,” he said quietly.

“What happened to her?”

“Husband got transferred. They moved to Texas.”

“You liked her, didn’t you?” Her tone was teasing, but the remark hit rather too close to home.

“We worked together. She was a nice lady. We got along.” He headed toward the door.

Marka caught his elbow. “Sorry. Not my business. You seem to miss her.”

“I don’t have a lot of friends,” he replied quietly. “Emily was a friend.”

A friend for whom you bought battery operated socks? One whose desk you know as well as your own?

“I’ve got some calls to make. I’ll see you later. Lunch?” Frank made an effort to sound cheerful.

“I’d like that.”

“Okay. Well, if I don’t see you before that, I’ll meet you at noon.”

“Here, or the cafeteria?”

“Here. I thought we’d find something other than cafeteria food for lunch.”

“Sounds good. Thanks, Frank. You’re totally making my first day.”

“Making it what?” He paused, expression questioning. The twinkle in his dark brown eyes told her he was teasing.
“Smarty.”

He saluted her and left.

To Purchase Dellani's Books

To Purchase Dellani’s Books

Bad Fall – Part 6

Bad FallOn an impulse, Frank calls Marka, inviting her to breakfast the following morning. Afterward, he suffers a fit of nerves, not unlike when he was a teenager. Feeling foolish for behaving like a kid, he gets ready for bed.

He did his nightly workout and brushed his teeth. Moments after crawling into bed, he was asleep.

Frank’s alarm went off at 7:00. He couldn’t believe he’d slept so well. Usually, he put in four good hours, then dozed the rest of the night. The fact he’d gotten eight solid hours surprised him. He showered, fixed himself a mug of coffee and dressed.

Today’s suit looked black, but was really a dark plum. His shirt was lavender with thin blue and white pinstripes. The tie looked like watercolor on wet paper, hazy blotches and swirls of purple, blue, pink and green. A coordinating silk handkerchief was precisely folded to a double point.

Smoothing his hair with his hand, he admired his image. Not bad, although he could use a trim. Maybe he’d hit the in-house barber shop later.

A few minutes before 8:00, he headed to Marka’s room. He tapped on her door at exactly 8:00. She opened breathlessly, smiling.

“Sorry, I’m a little behind. I can’t find my other shoe.”

“Check under the bed?”

“I haven’t unpacked it yet—I don’t think. You know how it goes. Everything shifts in transit.”

“I once found a pair of ladies’ underwear in my shaving kit.”

“Really? Do that often?”

“What? Pack panties in with my razor?”

“Something like that.”

“They ended up there when I shot them across the room like a slingshot.” He mimicked the motion with a smirk before leaning against the doorframe.

“Right.” She cut her eyes at him, disbelieving.

“Seriously.” He held up his hand like he was swearing an oath.

“Must have been a fun night.”

“I’m sure it was.” He smoothed his tie and shirt, saying nothing else.

Marka laughed at him. “You don’t know whether to be proud of yourself or embarrassed.”

“I’ll be both, thanks. I never talk about my fun nights. But it was a good one, as I recall.”

“Decidedly proud of yourself now.”

Frank wasn’t sure where to look. He allowed himself to examine a painting on the wall. It was far more interesting than the hotel art he had in his room.

“Found it!” She crowed from the bedroom. She came out carrying two red, slingback pumps. Balancing with one hand on the kitchen wall, she slipped them on her feet.

Frank caught her elbow when she lost he balance. Her perfume wafted toward him, smelling like flowers and sunshine. She was dressed kind of like June Cleaver in a beige full skirt and tailored white and red striped blouse, with a wide red leather belt.

“You look great,” he complimented honestly. “I like the retro style. It suits you.”

She thanked him with a smile. “Oh, lipstick!” She rushed to the bathroom. “Hair up or down?” She asked as she walked to the living room for her purse.

“I dunno, put it up and let me see.”

She pulled it into a loose chignon, holding it with a piece of tooled red leather and a lethal looking metal skewer. Turning, she let him see the back of her head. He whipped the skewer out, letting her walnut colored locks fall to her shoulders in thick waves.

“Down.” He killed the urge to run his fingers through it. Instead, he handed her the skewer and piece of leather, forcing himself to breathe. “Much better down. Although, it looks great up.”

“Man’s honest opinion.” She shook her head, her hair cascading over her shoulders and down her back.

He drew a deep, shuddering breath. “Oh, yeah.”

Marka giggled as she put the leather and skewer in the bathroom. “Down it is. I’m ready—finally.”

“Not bad. Only seven after. One women I dated was always twenty minutes late. No matter where we were going. If I wanted her ready at eight, I had to tell her seven forty so we’d be on time.”

“Stickler for punctuality?” Marka pulled the door shut behind them.

“Military father, grandfather. . . .”

“And you. You can’t tell me you weren’t. Your posture is simply too superb.”

He smoothed his tie as he led her to the elevator. “Guilty. I was in the Army.”

“Why’d you get out?”

“Came too close to dying a few too many times. I decided not to re-up.”

“Was it awful?” Her eyes softened and she laid her fingers on his arm.

“Yeah. You know, sometimes, it was good.”

“Not often enough.”

“No.” He mashed the elevator button again.

“It won’t come any faster if you keep hitting it,” an old man said from behind him.

“Mr. Witherspoon! Hi there. I want you to meet a new associate. This is Miss Ventimiglia. Excuse me, Doctor Ventimiglia. She’s a psychologist.”

“The Alzheimer’s lady? I saw your show last night. I want to put my Dolly in there. And me, I’ll come. Dolly’s getting a little loopy.” He made a crazy gesture by his right temple.

“I prefer to avoid terms like loopy,” Marka said gently.

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani's Books

To Purchase Dellani’s Books

Bad Fall – Part 5

Bad FallFrank finds himself smitten with Dr. Marka Ventimiglia. He enjoys her sense of humor, which is somewhat quirky, like his own. When he makes the remark about being the talk of the town tomorrow, she quips, “I hate to think what the talk would be like if we were naked.” This makes Frank laugh & admit she merely said what he was already thinking.

“But you’re too much of a gentleman to say it. Sometimes my mouth works faster than my off switch.”

“No, you just beat me to it.”

“You won’t get in trouble, will you?”

“Only with myself.”

She was clearly puzzled.

“I handle things like that. Actually, it’s flattering.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah.” He scratched his head, one hand in his pocket. “Found in a room with a pretty woman like you— Sorry, now I need my off switch.”

“Could be worse things.”

“Yeah, we could’ve been naked.”

Marka raised an eyebrow, pursing her lips as she passed him. Her eyes raked his long, lean body, lingering on his dimples. “I can think of worse things than that.” Winking provocatively, she left.

Frank’s laugh followed her down the hall and was eventually muffled when his door swung shut.

Marka wandered down the hall to her room. The layout of the buildings still confused her somewhat. There were lavishly decorated sitting rooms at the hub of each building. The hallways continued in three or four directions from that center hub. Her room was west of the hub, his was to the east. The elevator was on the northeast corner of the sitting room. A corridor ran past it leading to the front building where the offices were located. A short stairway separated this building from that one.

She found her room and unlocked the door. She replaced the empty toilet paper roll with a full one, the other went in the cabinet.

This room was an exact copy of the one Frank Atherton was in, except reversed. His bathroom and bedroom were to the left, hers to the right. The furniture was different, she had a couch and two chairs, a small dining table and a free standing TV on a low entertainment center. Frank’s TV was a console. She had two small end tables, each with a porcelain lamp. The bedroom had one lamp on the bedside table and a floor lamp connected to the switch.

Bored, but not ready for bed, she clicked on the TV and flipped stations until she found something remotely worth watching. The phone rang loudly, making her jump. She stifled a scream.

“Hello?”

“Hi, it’s Frank Atherton. Hope I didn’t catch you at a bad time.”

“No, not at all. Trying to find something to entertain myself. If I go to bed this early, I’ll be up at four.”

He chuckled. Marka pictured his dimples and the flash of white teeth.

“Yeah, I know what you mean. You want to meet for breakfast in the morning? The cafeteria’s pretty good.”

“Yes, that would be great. I don’t have any food yet.”

“Great. Know where it is?”

She giggled. “No clue.”

“I’ll come get you in the morning.”

“You don’t know what room I’m in.”

“Your phone number is your room number.”

Marka laughed at herself. “Oh. What time?”

“I have to be in the office by nine. So, is eight too early?”

“Eight’s perfect. I’ll be ready. Thank you.”

“Anytime. If you need me, just whistle.”

“Thanks.”

He paused, clearly out of things to say, but not wanting to hang up. “Well. It was nice meeting you, Dr. Ventimiglia.”

“Marka, please, Mr. Atherton.”

“Only if you’ll call me Frank.”

“Frank.”

“Good night.”

“Night.”

He hung up. Frank ran fingers through his hair, making it stand on end as he paced. Nearly hyperventilating, he leaned over, putting his hands on his knees. Panting slightly, he took deep breaths to get his heart to slow down.

“It’s just breakfast, Frankie. You can do this! You’ve been out with women before! Get a grip!”

Feeling like a kid, he walked the room, verbally castigating himself for being a pussy. He’d faced death dozens of times, but the idea of having breakfast with a real woman—a woman his age, a pretty woman, a woman he’d eventually like to date more and take to bed. . . .

Well, that was getting ahead of the game somewhat, but it had been a long time. So long, he couldn’t clearly remember the last time he’d had sex.

© Dellani Oakes

To Purchase Dellani's Books

To Purchase Dellani’s Books