Archive | August 2014

Bad Fall – Part 92

Bad FallThe first police officer to arrive on scene, is James, Frank’s good friend. He helps Rochelle sneak into the facility through a back door that not even Frank knows about. They arrive at Frank and Marka’s room, finding the two of them there. James senses that Marka needs his help.

James took off his utility belt and set it aside. He put his cuffs in his pocket. He checked the rest of his uniform, removing anything that could be used as a weapon—including his badge. This, he handed to Rochelle. She put it in her pocket. Dressed only in his socks, shirt and pants, James walked boldly through the open door of the apartment.

“What the hell!” Frank yelled. “Jimmy?”

“Hi, Frank. Marka, everything cool?”

Her expression told him how desperate she was.

“What’s up, buddy? You look like hell, Frankie. Don’t you wanna sit down? Marka, maybe some coffee?”

“Yeah, sure.” She spoke so quietly, he could hardly hear her. She moved toward the kitchen.

James led Frank to the loveseat and sat beside him. His friend looked terrible. Dark circles blackened the area around his eyes. His skin was drawn over the bones, making him look hollow cheeked. A heavy growth of beard shaded his strong chin. Bruises and cuts from Liz’s torture covered his body. He was dressed in scrubs he must have stolen from the hospital. His feet were covered in the bedsocks they issued as part of standard patient garb. He looked haggard, driven and cold. An afghan lay over the back of the loveseat. James pulled it around Frank’s shoulders.

“Talk to me, buddy.”

“I need them, Jimmy. I have to find them.”

“Find what, Frankie?”

“The—” He grasped at the air as if trying to pluck the words from it. Taking handfuls of hair, he tugged desperately. “I don’t know! I don’t remember.” His voice shook as sobs wracked his body. “I just know they were here. And they’re gone.”

Marka came in with coffee as if nothing was strange. She set the cups down in front of the men. The pot and spoons were in the kitchen. She’d already added sugar and cream. The hot coffee attracted Frank’s attention. He picked up the cup and drank deeply, not minding the scorching heat. James didn’t miss the fact that Marka had used Styrofoam travel cups instead of ceramic mugs.

“What brings you here, Jimmy?” Marka asked.

“A friend dropped me off,” he replied with a grin. “Maybe yo

u know her. Rochelle?”

Relief flooded her face. “Anyone else?”

“No, but there was quite a flurry of activity when we left the house. But I think your friends will take care of that.”

“No one else with you?”

“Didn’t see a soul.”

“What are you talking about?” Frank sounded dangerously paranoid.

“Making conversation, buddy. You should take a nap, Frank. You look beat, kid.”

“I am kind of tired,” Frank admitted, yawning.

“I’ll help you to bed. Marka, I’d like to stick around awhile with Frank. Would you be a doll and get me a newspaper? I like to read the sports section.”

“Sure. I’ll be back soon, honey.” She kissed Frank desperately. “I love you,” she said. “I love you so much and I want you to rest.”

“Yeah. I’m sleepy.”

With James’ help, he stumbled to the bedroom and collapsed on the bed. James pulled the blankets over him. Closing the door, he followed Marka to the front door. They stepped out in the hallway, pulling the door shut behind them. Rochelle met them a few feet away.

“What’d you give him?” James asked.

“Don’t ask. I just hope I haven’t killed him. We have no idea what Liz gave him. Thank God you came when you did! He was wild and disoriented. I have no idea if he even knew who I was. But he knew you.” She hugged James.

“Me and Frank go a long way back.” James patted her on the back. “He’ll sleep a little while. I’ll stay here with him.”

“I want to stay.”

“No,” James and Rochelle said in unison.

“He’ll know me,” James said. “He might not recognize you, the state he’s in. You wouldn’t be safe.”

“Have they found Liz?”

“I don’t know,” Rochelle replied. “I turned off the radio when we came in. Did you cause the lock down?”

“Yes. It was the only thing I could think of. The only way to keep people safe.”

“Where did you leave the journals?” Rochelle asked.

Marka shook her head. “It’s best if I’m the only one who knows that.”

“I’ll go check on Frank. You two go somewhere else and I’ll call if I need you. Get a Liz update,” James said.

Marka couldn’t think where to go, so she followed Rochelle back to the hidden stair. The lock down was still in place. No one stirred, too afraid to go out until an all clear sounded. With luck, the residents would think it was an extended drill.

Once in the stairwell, Rochelle made Marka sit. The younger woman was shaking. Rochelle put her arms around Marka and let her cry.

© Dellani Oakes

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Bad Fall – Part 91

Bad FallRochelle can’t find Marka when she follows her into the blue house, but she does find the two agents. Injured, but alive, she looks around for signs of who else has been there.

Using her radio, Rochelle called the dispatcher once more, telling her to send the emergency services along with the police. “I got two down, a man and a woman. I bet they’re the two who were helping Dr. Ventimiglia. Tell them to hurry and not run their sirens.”

“The police are arriving now. I have one car coming in the driveway. Shall I divert the officer?”

“No. Marka needs him. Patch me through to him.”

The dispatcher worked her magic and soon Rochelle heard a young sounding, male voice on the other end.

“Officer Webster, go ahead.”

Rochelle identified herself and told him her location. “I need you to find Dr. Marka Ventimiglia. She’s looking for Frank Atherton. Do you know them?”

“Yes, ma’am. Frank’s a friend. So is Marka. What’s wrong?”

“Honey, I don’t know how much you know. And I’m not saying anything else over an open channel. Approach with caution.”

“I’m coming to you.”

“Negative, you need. . . .”

“I’m at the door.”

She could hear his voice in the house as well as on the radio. Leaving the two injured people, she walked quickly to meet him. The officer was young and fresh faced, but there were hard lines around his mouth. Rochelle was flooded with relief. Not only was he Marka’s friend, he looked like he knew what he was doing, even if he was young.

“You must be Officer Davis. I’m James Webster.” He shook Rochelle’s hand. “Tell me what’s going on.”

As fast as she could, Rochelle filled James in on the situation. He frowned, biting his lip. “Okay. The EMTs are right behind me. You come with me and I’ll get us in the facility without a squawk. Frank won’t even know we’re coming.”

“You sure about that? From what I gather, he’s the Ninja Master.”

“Yeah, but he’s only been here three years. Before I became a cop, I worked night shift as an orderly.”

He led her out of the house and into the woods that skirted the property. They passed the smoking area and heard people talking. No one seemed aware of them as they passed through in the undergrowth. James led her to a well concealed door hidden by bushes at the back of the building. Flat and featureless, it swung inward without a sound. They found themselves in the boiler room that led to the laundry room. Although the industrial washers and driers hummed and spun, there was no one around.

Finger to his lips, James led Rochelle through the maze of equipment to another hidden door. This one also swung inward and led to a staircase. He pushed the door shut before fumbling for a light switch. Cigarette butts and cups littered the stairwell.

“Sometimes come in here for a smoke or. . . .” He whispered, blushing slightly. “You know. Nights get long and no one wants to go out in the cold for a smoke.”

“Gotcha. I’ve done my share of nights,” she whispered back.

“It’s an emergency staff stairway for evacuation. Most people don’t even know it’s here. They take the main stairs an elevators.”

“And you know, why?”

“Boredom and a sense of adventure. Okay. We’re going to Frank and Marka’s room first. It’s in the northwest wing. This will bring us up near the laundry room on the second floor. Make a left from there, through the double doors and into the sitting room. Pass the nurse’s station and another left. It’s the last door on the left.”

“Got it.”

They came out as he said they would, slipping into the hallway. It was strangely quiet for this time of day. James expected there to be elderly people wandering around with their walkers or staff members going about their rounds. A flashing light above the door to the sitting room. The double doors were closed—unusual for this time of day. In fact, the doors stood open virtually all the time.

“We’re in lock down,” James whispered. He grinned. “Marka’s brilliant.”

The door opened stiffly, but James got it to move without too much trouble. The sitting room was empty, the nurse’s station as well. They walked quietly toward Frank and Marka’s room. As they approached, they heard voices. James held up a hand. Rochelle and he stopped, listening.

“I need them! Don’t you understand that?”

“That’s Frank,” James whispered. “He doesn’t sound right.”

Rochelle nodded. She thought his tone of voice sounded high, desperate, almost childlike. A calm woman’s voice replied. Rochelle couldn’t hear the words, but she recognized the tone. That must be Marka, trying to calm him down.

© Dellani Oakes

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Bad Fall – Part 90

As they read through the journals, all hell breaks loose once again. Rochelle takes Bad Fallthe call, though Marka can’t hear the other person over the alarm.

“What’s going on?” Marka yelled.

“Blondie escaped,” Rochelle said. “She took out her guards. No clue how. She was supposed to be shackled.”

“Was she still wearing her own clothing?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Bitch had a key stashed. Or something she could pick it with.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Cause that’s what I would do, if I was her,” Marka said. That’s what Frank would do. “I have to get out of here, Rochelle.”

“It’s not safe out there.”

“It’s not safe in here. She knows where I am. Frank might figure it out. Do you really want to get caught in the Clash of Titans?”

“What do you mean, honey?”

The alarm stopped suddenly. Marka still felt it in her ears, even though it wasn’t ringing. She yawned, working her jaw to get rid of the sensation.

“I mean, maybe Frank isn’t looking for his journals. Maybe he’s looking for her.”

“Holy shit.”

“Yeah. Where’s the nearest store where I can buy one of these?” She held up one of the journals while she stuffed them back in the bag.”

“There’s a Target. But why?”

“Decoys. Then I need to find Frank. Can you help me?”

“Honey, you aren’t leaving here without me and I’ll clock anyone tries to stop me.” Gun drawn, she led Marka out the door.

The building was in chaos. No one noticed the two women walking purposefully toward the back door which led to an underground garage. A line of official vehicles were parked in a line near the door. Rochelle took keys from her pocket and clicked the door button. The horn honked and lights flashed on a car not far away.

Marka hopped in the passenger side while Rochelle got in the driver’s seat. Both women put on their seat belts.

“Where am I going?”

“Sheltering Oaks. You know where that is?”

“I worked there a few years and my granny lives there.”

“That’s where we’re going. Frank works there. Not only that, we left the journals there in the room I’ve been staying in. If I have Liz figured out like I think I do, that’s where she’s headed. It would be the logical spot to find Frank and give her hundreds of hostages.”

“Oh, no she isn’t!” Rochelle floored the accelerator and hit the lights and siren. It screamed loudly as she flew down the road.

Marka braced herself for the high speed chase. She hoped Liz hadn’t taken an official vehicle, or she could be well ahead of them. With luck, the forces at the federal building would catch her before she got that far. Closing her eyes, she prayed that they would find Frank in time, before he hurt anyone—before anyone hurt him.

Aside from being top speed, their drive went well. They made the 45 minute trip in less than 30. Rochelle cut the siren before they turned up the street for Sheltering Oaks. She didn’t want to alert anyone of their presence, nor did she want to upset the residents of the quiet retirement community. She slowed as she took the turn through the front gate. Marka asked Rochelle to drop her at the blue house. Reluctantly, the federal officer complied. After Marka got out, she called in her position, telling her co-workers to send reinforcements.

“I have no idea what we’re facing,” she told the dispatcher. “It might be nothing, but it might be Armageddon.”

“Already have officers on the way. They’re in pursuit of a brown sedan that was jacked from the parking lot. They aren’t there yet?”

“Honey, I went hell bent for leather. If they actually beat me, I’d be shocked. I can’t leave Dr. Ventimiglia without backup.”

“They’ll let me know when they arrive. Meanwhile, I’ll alert the local police.”

“Thanks. Officer Davis out.”

Parking carelessly on the lawn, she got out of the vehicle and followed Marka to the blue house. She couldn’t see the other woman, but followed cautiously. The house looked deserted. There were no signs of violence or break in, but the back door stood ajar. Assuming that was the way, Marka went in, she took out her weapon. Stopping to check the doorway, she noticed that the frame had sustained damage.

Probably been kicked in. You’d think they’d have a better lock.

She didn’t dare call out, but hoped that Marka was inside and all right. Moving through the building with caution, she checked each room as she went. She found nothing until she got to the living room. Computer components were scattered all over the place. Two people lay on the ground, but there was no sign of Marka. A quick check told her that the man and woman were alive, but obviously in bad shape.

© Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

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Mary Bradford, A New Voice!

 
In the weeks following Lillian Taylor’s burial, her
four loving children assemble for the reading of her will. For the grieving
youngest sibling, Lacey, life is about to come crashing down as a deep secret
is revealed. The fall-out affects every member and they struggle to regain the
happy family unit they once shared. Each of the four, now adult, children take
the reader on a journey as they try to come to terms with and learn to handle
this huge revelation.
 
 
 
 
 
Original interview by author Michelle Hughes. Shared with permission.
 
Tell us what My Husband’s Sin is
about?
My debut novel is centred about the
Taylor family. Lacey, the youngest of the family is dealt a horrible blow at
the reading of her mother’s will. She is devastated and the knock on affect on
her three siblings shakes the family unit. Lacey has questions that need
answering and at one stage she must leave Ireland to search for some of the
answers. Will the Taylor’s come together and unite or do they fall apart and
remain so?
 
What are the main themes in your
book?
In my novel, My Husband’s Sin, there
are a few themes but the main one is loss. Losing a parent or indeed any family
member is a difficult time for everyone concerned. Lacey Taylor, suffers loss
greater than the others when after her mother Lillian’s funeral, a letter she
is given destroys her life further. She now suffers betrayal as well. But it
only takes a small crack to appear in a family for it all to come crumbling
down
 
If you were casting the movie
version of My Husband’s Sin, who would you choose for the leading roles?
I would love the young actress, Amanda
Seyfried, play the part of Lacey in my debut novel. The solicitor, Mr. Philip
Sherman, played by Jeff Bridges, then Sally by Michelle Pfeiffer and finally
Robert, by Jason Stratham. The other characters, Willow and Cora I have no idea.
 
Why did you write this novel?
I always promised myself that I would
write a novel. I have written many short stories and had tons of ideas but none
of them ever stayed with me and nagged me like this one. It started as a simple
story and just kept growing, the word count grew and the characters kept
insisting on me sorting out their dilemmas and after some moments of writing
delights and writing disasters, I ended up with My Husband’s Sin.
 
How do you go about writing a
novel? Is it a simple or a complex process?
Wow what a question! I am not a plotter
when it comes to writing in general. I have either an idea or a name to begin
with and after some thought, I may have an end. Then to get from the start to
the finish, I have no idea, honestly. I put down on paper whatever is in my
head and take it from there. As I am writing, the characters or indeed objects
pop into the writing and it is they that lead my stories. In My
Husband’s Sin
, a black metal box appeared. I had no clue why or what it
represented until much further on, it turned out to be an essential part of the
novel.
 
Whether writing a novel is a simple or
complex process I think depends on the writer. Some like to do a lot of
research and make maps and plans and know each detail before they commit to
paper. Others, I suppose like me, put it down and get it out and then when
doing the next draft, and the next, and the next… finally get to the end.
 
What are you working on currently?
I have my fingers worn to the bone at
present because I have three projects on the go. Yes I am a nut to take it all
on. I am writing my second novel which is totally different from My
Husband’s Sin
; it is not even in the same genre. It is a good V evil
story, a priest who is sent to do battle with the devil and it all takes place
inside a locked room.  So who wins? That
is a question I have not yet answered LOL.
I am also writing a western novella for
a group that I am involved in. The group are called Writers of the West, it is
an exciting project. Finally, I am busy seeking a home for a play I have ready
for production.
 
What would your perfect day be?
A perfect day, let me think, it would be
warm, not too hot, by the sea, with a picnic of cold meats/white wine/salads. A
book of course and would I want company? Well if, Kevin Costner or Charles
Bronson were available, or maybe Michael Bublé, he could serenade me right?
 
Tell us about a hidden talent you
have that most people don’t know about?
I enjoy public speaking. I have my CC
(Competent Communicator) from Toastmasters International and I started the
advanced manuals. I also represented my local club Fáilte Toastmasters in
competitions. Unfortunately, I no longer have the time to participate but I may
go back to it another time.  
 
 
 
My Husband’s Sin
is the debut novel from Mary T Bradford. She is an Irish author, married and
mother of four children. She has been writing short stories for many years with
which she has enjoyed publishing success in Ireland and abroad. While working
on a story it happened that the story kept getting longer and the word count
continued to climb, resulting with Mary having her novel. My Husband’s Sin is published
by Tirgearr Publishing at
www.tirgearrpublishing.com
 
Recently Mary has dipped into
play-writing and one of her plays was shortlisted in the Claremorris Fringe
Festival in April of this year and was performed by the Half A Breakfast
Theatre Group. Another of her plays had a Staged Reading in July at Friar’s
Gate Theatre in Kilmallock, Limerick in Ireland. Her short story collection, A Baker’s Dozen, is also available on Amazon.com.
 
When not writing, Mary enjoys crafts. In
particular, she enjoys crochet and cross-stitch and catching up on her reading
from the stack of books on her bedside locker.
LINKS
 
 

Bad Fall – Part 89

Bad FallAlthough Liz is in custody, not everything is as fine and dandy as Shay would like Marka to believe. A phone call from one of the agents at the hospital tells him that Frank has escaped. Ordered to stay behind, Marka decides to see what she can find out from the journals. With Rochelle’s help, she starts to read about the events prior to Clay’s death.

Finally, she relented, handing Marka the journal. She wasn’t sure how she felt, reading about Frank’s exploits with another woman. She was rather pleased to see that she’d done all of that and more with him already. Unfortunately, it wasn’t getting them any closer to finding who Liz worked for.

“Ooh, look at this!” She pointed to a scribble in the margin. “Can you read that?”

“Looks like it says Bastian,” Rochelle said after squinting at it.

“Looks like that to me, too,” Marka said. “I wonder who that is.”

“Call Arnold.”

“Good idea.” She dialed Shay’s number, but got voice mail.

Concerned, she left a message for him to call her back immediately. Strange that he wouldn’t answer his phone, but perhaps he was on another call and couldn’t stop to take hers. Frustrated, she called Cherry. Again, no one answered at the blue house. Deeply worried now, Marka bit her lip and tried to hold back the tears.

“I feel so helpless,” she told Rochelle. “I know Shay said to stay here, but I can’t. Not when Frank’s in danger.”

“Frank’s in danger? Sounds to me like everyone else is,” Rochelle said honestly. “I know he’s your man, sugar, but from what I’m reading here, he’s a highly trained killing machine.”

“Frank is the kindest, gentlest person I know. If he’s on a mission, it’s because of what that woman did to him.”

“Maybe you can get her to talk.”

“I doubt it. She’d think it was amusing to taunt me about her and Frank. I think I’d end up wanting to kill her with my bare hands.”

“Damn near did that already. Dr. Ninja Deathlock, that’s you.” Rochelle beamed at her. “How’d you learn to do that?”

“Watching Lethal Weapon one too many times.”

“Mm mm mmm. Mel was good looking in his prime.”

“He sure was. Anything else about—that day?”

“Not in this one. How about yours?”

Marka forced herself to concentrate while Rochelle flipped through one of the other journals. She looked for key words, names mostly. Clay was mentioned dozens of times. He and Frank had been as close as brothers. How horrible that he was dead. Frank blamed himself so completely, she wondered how he managed to look his sister in the eye.

“Oh, God,” she whispered. With a trembling hand, she pointed to the entry.

The pages were tear stained and it looked like blood smears across the middle of the page. The words painted a horrifying picture of the day that Clay died.

It was like hell erupted at my feet. I saw the explosion before I heard it—a flash of orange light that erupted into a fireball. The flames rose so high, I could feel them as we flew above it. I forced the pilot to land by threatening to shoot him and fly the bird myself. He set us down and I ran into a raging battle. I ordered him to call it in before I hopped out.

Fighting through the flames and bullets, I found Clay. He was in bad shape. I knew he was going to die and it was my fault. All this was my fault. I oversaw the sweep myself. That road was clear before we started out.

I lost my mind that day. I don’t remember much of what I did, except a lot of people died by my hand. They tell me I’m a hero. I’m no hero. I’m the man who let my buddies down. I’m the man who watched his brother die in his arms. I’m the man who has to tell his little sister that the man she loves is coming home in a box.

He went on to describe how he had planned the route, seen to the mine sweeping personally and overseen every possible aspect of the mission. That was Frank—calm, efficient, controlling. He left nothing to chance. The fact something went wrong and people died, angered and frustrated him. That his body was damaged in the process didn’t upset him, except that it kept him from finding out what had happened.

Liz came by. She said she had information about the bombing. She’s going to bring it by later. She keeps saying it’s not my fault—everyone says that, but she promised to help me find out the truth. She’s taking me to meet a witness. Maybe he can tell me what really happened.

Marka gasped, her hand going to her mouth. She pointed to the incriminating entry.

“That’s not enough to hang her. There must be more.”

“Probably, but it’s enough for Shay. I wish I could reach him.”

Alarm bells rang, their deafening clanging filling the small room. Rochelle reached for her weapon with one hand, her radio with the other.

“Talk to me,” she yelled over the din.

A garbled voice answered her. Marka couldn’t hear the words over the alarm. She sat, hunched over, her hands over her ears. Gunfire erupted in the corridor a few yards away. Rochelle pushed Marka under the table before going to the door. She locked it from the inside. Yelling, followed by more gunfire, moved past their room and down the hallway.

The alarm lessened, or Marka grew used to it. Rochelle talked continuously on her radio. She made Marka stay under the table and took up a defensive position by the door.

© Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

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Bad Fall – Part 88

Bad FallLiz is taken down, but who knows how extensive her influence is? There’s also the possibility that she didn’t act alone. Though she’s in custody, Marka is still worried about her. She’s also very worried about Frank. What does he have that Liz wanted so desperately?

“Rochelle, you’re the best! Why don’t we go together? Then Arnold can join me for the debriefing.” She chuckled. “Oh, that sounds so nasty.” Giggling, she walked down the hall with Rochelle.

Colonel Shay watched them go. When they were out of hearing distance, he placed a call. “How is he?” he asked without identifying himself. “Good. They got Liz, but she’s slick. I have no doubt she’ll manage to find a way out of this mess. I want extra security on Frank.” He paused, listening. His frown deepened. “What do you mean, he’s not there? Where the hell is he? Well, find him! And for God’s sake, tell the others to be careful. He’s one of ours.” He hung up, muttering angrily.

From the triage area that the emergency staff had set up, Marka saw Arnold talking on his phone. His face reddened and a vein popped out on his forehead. He stuffed the phone in his pocket. His glance at her told her more than words could. Marka stood as the paramedic tried to take her vital signs.

“Dr. Ventimiglia, I insist you sit still.”

“Something’s wrong,” Marka told Rochelle. “Look at Arnold.”

Rochelle gazed steadily at the Colonel for a moment. “That man’s in a panic. You say your man’s being watched?”

“Yes. They were protecting him from Liz.”

“Maybe they were protecting the wrong person.”

“Oh, my God! Let me up,” she told the paramedic, shoving him aside. She walked quickly to Arnold’s side. “Where is he?”

“They don’t know. The hospital is being checked.”

“It wouldn’t be hard for him to slip out.”

“No, not for Frank.”

“Where is he likely to go? What would Liz tell him to do?”

“That’s what scares me. It could be anything. She might even tell him to hurt his own family. But I don’t think she’d waste her own time like that. She wants something from him, my guess is those damn journals. See if that pal of yours can get you to a safe spot. Frank’s going to track those and he has access to the tracking program. Give me your watch.”

“Why?”

He smirked. “Because that’s where it is. Is it precious?” He laid the watch on the floor.

“No. I bought it at Wal-Mart. Why?”

Shay smashed the watch with his heel. A tiny chip lay in the wreckage. He crushed it completely and scooped up the pieces, dropping them in his pocket.

“Let’s hope he hasn’t already found our location. Get to that safe spot and don’t leave.”

“I’ll ask Rochelle. Where are you going?”

“To find Frank. If he hasn’t located you, then he’s got two places to start—his house or the nursing home.”

“Three—the blue house.”

“Oh, hell.” He whipped out his phone, calling Cherry and Brad. He walked off, frowning.

Marka couldn’t be sure, but she was pretty sure that Arnold hadn’t reached the computer experts. She hoped that whatever Frank did, he didn’t injure them.

Rochelle took her back to the interrogation room where she’d been before. Two officers were stationed outside and Rochelle came in with Marka.

“I need to see what Frank might have said about Clay’s accident,” Marka said, setting the journals down.

“I’ll help. What am I looking for?”

“It was three years ago in the spring,” Marka said. “Frank’s very detail oriented and it looks like these are dated. He’s even got the time. You dear, meticulous darling.” She felt tears well in her eyes. “Here’s the week of the bombing.” She showed Rochelle the page.

“Could he have noticed something before that? Probably not too far in advance, or Psycho Blondie would have taken him out before he told anyone.”

“I wonder when he was having his affair with her.”

Rochelle looked shocked. “Your man tapped Blondezilla?”

“Yeah, long before he met me.”

“Thank God. He don’t have the Crazy Cooties, then.”

Marka giggled. “No.” Thank God!

Rochelle flipped through another journal. She stopped, pointing to the page. Marka leaned over, reading.

Shay’s got a new secretary. Hot blonde named Liz. Of course, all the guys are 

are hitting on her. It’s always like that with fresh meat. She’s nine kinds of hot and she totally hates me. I damn near hit her in the face with the door. See what running when hungover does? Oh, well. There’s other women—just not any that hot.

“That was a couple months before the accident,” Rochelle said. She read a few more minutes, scanning the pages quickly. “Oh, Lordy!” She fanned herself. “Your man has quite the gift of description! And a hell of an imagination. Oh, no. He didn’t!” She held the journal close to her chest when Marka reached for it. “Oh, hell no! This is better than Fifty Shades of Grey.”

© Dellani Oakes

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It’s Trivial, But It’s All About Me! Fantastic Blog Hop Summer Splash

fantastic blog hop busI was born in a crossfire hurricane—Not really, I just like that line. Actually, I was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and it was pretty calm. I have no lack of things to tell about myself, so I decided to do another trivia page for this round of the Fantastic Blog Hop.

Where do you find inspiration for your books?

I find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes, it’s a word or phrase I hear. Other times, it’s a song lyric. More often than not, a sentence pops into my head and demands to be written down. Another follows and another until I have a story.

What inspired your next book?

My next book is Conduct Unbecoming. It’s a Teague (The Ninja Tattoo) McMurtry novel. A friend of mine fell in love with Teague and begged me to write another book. “Only I want to be in it and I want to kiss Teague!” Challenge accepted. I wrote Aileen in, gave her a chance to kiss Teague (and punch him). I hadn’t expected the character to be such a major player as she turned into. I hope she likes how the story turned out. I had fun with it.

Conduct Unbecoming will be out October 3, 2014.

You write some steamy love scenes. Do people ever think that you’re some kind of sex fiend who’s had a really exciting life?

Fairly often. People don’t accost murder mystery authors and ask them how many people they’ve killed, but they will ask romance authors, “Have you really done that? You must have a great sex life!” It’s imagination, folks!

What would you be if you weren’t an author?

I can’t live without music and books. If I weren’t writing books, I’d definitely be making music.

A lot of your characters are career or former military. Have you ever been in the service?

I have not, though I have many friends and family members who have. I like the military characters because they have skills that the average person doesn’t. Characters, like Teague (The Ninja Tattoo) and Frank (Bad Fall) are self-possessed, confident, unflappable and willing to risk themselves for others. They take protecting the people they care about to another level. They are able to follow through with the promise to keep them safe.

Many of your characters come from large families. Is your family as extensive as theirs?

Not really. I am one of 14 grandchildren on one side and one of 8 on the other. My immediate family consists of me and my older sister. I like the dynamic of the big families. They hold one another dear, embrace eccentricities and don’t take themselves or anyone else too seriously. It also gives me a wealth of minor characters to draw on.

If you had to pick a favorite character, who would it be?

Oh, that’s like trying to pick a favorite child! I love all my characters, though there are some who are more dear to my heart. Teague (Ninja Tattoo) is one that I’m very fond of. I also love Bobby (Under the Western Sky), but I can’t forget Wil (Lone Wolf) or Manuel (Indian Summer) and his well appointed pants!

The funny thing is, although these guys are totally awesome, my favorite character would have to be Cullen Fellowes. Cullen is a rock star. He’s front man for a band called Sardonic. He’s been a minor character in at least 11 books. I’ve lost track. He’s funny, outgoing, endearing and embarrassing. He dares life to let him down, and it doesn’t.

Cullen has never asked for his own book. He’s content being involved with the others. He doesn’t want to take over or make himself the main character, he just likes to hang out, make music and hit on pretty women. (He also likes embarrassing them).

What’s your take on romance novels where the main conflict is between the main characters?

I’m so glad I asked myself this question! I hate them. A little arguing goes a long way. I like my characters to get along and enjoy one anther’s company. If they’re fighting, they aren’t falling in love and having hot love scenes! Not only that, I feel that the conflict should come from outside their relationship. They get stronger because they battled adversity together. I think it makes for a much more interesting and entertaining story dynamic.

Are any of your characters like you?

Not really. I think my ladies encompass characteristics I wish I had. They are strong, fearless, fiercely devoted to their men and don’t take shit from anyone. Though I do share some of these same traits, I can’t pick up a gun and shoot the bad guy. I don’t know martial arts. I’ve never used a sword and I don’t dance well. My girls to all of the above, and much more.

The main character, Gabriella, In Indian Summer is 15. She gets herself in and out of a lot of scrapes. Do you really think a 15 year old girl could do what she does?

Absolutely! Gabriella is undaunted, loyal, resourceful and intelligent. She’s loosely based on my own daughter who, at 15, would have done everything Gabriella did and more. Whenever I got to a point where I wondered if Gabriella was believable, I would apply the WWKD principle (What Would Kathryn Do)?

Bad Fall – Part 87

Bad FallMarka gets cornered in the bathroom by Liz. She gets away, but Liz, an armed goon and Phil, surround her in the corridor. After a short fight, Marka manages to get Liz in a leg lock around her throat.

“Drop the guns, or the bitch gets it,” Marka yelled.

Liz fought like a hellcat, scrabbling at her pocket. Marka suspected she had another syringe in there. It would be the end of her if she let herself be knocked out. Rising onto her shoulders, she increased the pressure on the other woman’s neck.

“Drop it, Phil. I’ll kill her, I swear!”

She could see the officer shiver, shaking his head as if to clear it.

“Come on, Phil. You know me. It’s Marka. Liz has drugged you! Help me, Phil! Help!”

Liz’s hand was nearly in her pocket. Her face was purple, but she continued to struggle. Marka squeezed her thighs as hard as she could. The other woman faltered, going limp. Phil shook his head again. Turning, he raised his fist and cracked the second goon on the head with his pistol. He picked up the other man’s gun and held both weapons, butt first, to the nearest bailiff. As soon as he was disarmed, he put his hands on his head. Officers moved in to cuff him.

“I’m a federal agent,” Phil explained slowly, as if it were a great effort. “I should be considered hostile and extremely dangerous. You’ll explain?” He appealed to Marka.

She nodded, identifying herself as well as Liz. “Call Colonel Arnold Shay. His number is on my phone.”

Other officers hurried to Marka, taking an unconscious Liz away in shackles. The second goon was also removed. Marka sat on the ground, gasping.

Rochelle limped over, a livid bruise on her forehead where Liz had hit her. She squatted by Marka, pressing a damp paper towel to her face, blotting gently.

“So, that’s Liz?”

Marka’s laugh made her chest hurt. “Yes,” she mumbled through swollen lips.

“Well, she’s a hell of a bitch.”

“Tell them to be really careful with her. She’s probably got syringes in her pockets.”

“You got it.” She called in what Marka had said.

“And ask them to be careful with Phil. She had him drugged, or he never would have done this.”

“That’s the fella that helped?”

“Yes.” Marka sobbed. She hurt all over. All she wanted was a chance to curl up with Frank, in the safety of his arms.

“Marka!” Shay’s voice cut through the confusion. “Thank God! When they called me, I was already on the way.”

“How did you know where I was?”

“We had you tagged. That must be how Liz found you. She hacked out network.”

“Or she had me tagged too. It would have been easy for Phil to do.”

“You’re all right?” He helped her up, thanking Rochelle for her care.

Gasping in pain, Marka shot him a look. “Yeah, I’m freaking peachy. Thank God for kick boxing and pilates.”

“Should have seen that girl go,” Rochelle bragged. “Had that skinny blonde in the prettiest thigh lock you ever saw.”

“Where’s Clark?” Marka asked.

“Downstairs with Phil. You were right. She’s drugged him too. I don’t know how the boy fought it, but he did. He and Frank have a long haul ahead, but with your help, I think they’ll be okay.”

“Is it over, Arnold? Can we go back to our lives?”

“I hope so. I’m sure Liz wasn’t working alone, but it will be hard to cover tracks now. The trees are shaking and bodies are falling. This is the single biggest shake up since the Petraeus scandal. We’re going to feel this one to our roots.”

“How many people died because of her?” Marka asked, quietly.

“I don’t know, but I hope I find out. She has a lot to answer for. Cherry and Brad did some digging. They found evidence to tie her to the incident that killed Clay. I think with some more poking around, they will find enough to bury her in a deep, dark hole for a very long time.”

“Will these help?” She opened the bag with Frank’s journals.

“What are those?”

“Frank took to keeping a diary when he was in Iraq. He wanted some record he could share with his family, if he died. He thinks this might be what Liz is after. He may have written down his suspicions.”

“No kidding! Has he been through them yet?”

“No. We took them from the house the other day. We haven’t had time to go through them yet. I knew I needed to keep them safe. This was the safest place I could think of where there were people prepared to take care of it.”

Shay hugged her gently. “Good choice.”

“Can I go home soon?”

“Debriefing meeting. I won’t let you be alone.”

“Debriefing?” She winced. “It figures.”

“I’m sorry, Marka. Standard procedure.”

“Let’s get it over with.”

“After you see a doctor. Have you been seen to?” he asked solicitously of Rochelle.

“No. Thought my girl here needed me more.”

© Dellani Oakes

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