Undercover Lover is one of my romantic suspense novels set in a Big City Up North that has no name. I did that because I didn’t want people saying to me, “Oh, that’s Chicago.” or “That’s New York. You got the details all wrong.” Instead, I made up my own city where things are my way, people act the way I want, and no one can come back at me and tell me I got the facts wrong. I don’t give it a name, it just is The City. ~ Dellani
By the end of the filming that day, Liat looked at Austin in a whole new light. He no longer seemed the stuck up star she’d imagined. In fact, he seemed—nice. He had a wonderful sense of humor and laughed loudly at his own mistakes. Although he was polite about it, he also laughed at hers. Leaving the set, feeling slightly less intimidated, she found the assistant director in her path.
“Boss wants you.”
The woman led her to the director’s presence. He smiled, holding out his hand. Liat instinctively recoiled when he grasped it in both of his, pulling her closer. She put the brakes on, digging in with her heels, before he managed to embrace her.
“Great job today,” he oozed. “You really have a flair. I want you to go to dinner with me tonight.”
“Thank you, but I can’t. I’ve lines to run and I need my beauty rest.”
His grip tightened on her wrist. “I insist.” The heat of his gaze intensified.
Liat couldn’t get away—not politely, anyway. She could have laid his flabby ass out on the floor, but chose not to. It was a public place. Someone would notice if he got too aggressive, and she could always raise her voice or scream.
“I really think you should, for your future on the show,” he continued, gritting his teeth.
“There you are!” Austin broke in brightly, flinging his arm around Liat’s neck. “You promised to run lines,” he teased, insinuating himself between her and the director. “Irving won’t mind. Will you, Irv?”
Austin’s presence had forced the other man to drop Liat’s hand.
“Splendid! Want to be spot on tomorrow, don’t we? Come, love. I’ll show you my beautifully appointed trailer. I’ve got fish!” He pulled her close, placing a loud kiss on her cheek as he guided her rapidly away. He nuzzled her cheek and ear as if he were whispering to her. From time to time he’d laugh softly.
Liat wasn’t sure what was going on, but she was extremely grateful for his interference in what could have been a sticky situation. His warm breath on her cheek tickled and a little shiver glittered down her spine.
Austin led her to his trailer and didn’t let go of her until the door was shut behind them. He released her and took a couple steps away, hands in his pockets, smiling uncertainly.
“What was that?”
“A well timed rescue?”
“You looked like you were ready to put him on the floor—and not in a fun way.”
Liat chuckled, relaxing. “I was.”
“We should probably stay in here for awhile. Irving will leave once he thinks we’re—” He made vague gestures with his hands that looked rather like wringing laundry. “Busy.”
“Oh!” Liat’s hand flew to her mouth. “Have I traded one potential menace for another?” Her eyes narrowed, but she smiled.
“No!” He leaped back, nearly hitting a low table. “No, I promise. But everyone will think—I do apologize. But if Irving thinks we’re involved, he’ll leave you alone.”
“Tea?” He walked quickly to a small kitchen.
“Hot, this time, please.”
“Obviously. Dex and Naomi will be by shortly. They keep me well stocked in leftovers. I don’t cook much and I hate going out. People.” He waved his hands expressively. “They’d have to throw it away, so they pass it along to me.”
As if on cue, there was a tapping at the door.
“Come in!” Austin called as he set the kettle on.
Dexter poked his head slowly around the door. Seeing Liat fully clothed and Austin in the kitchen, he came inside.
“Quite the show out there! I think Irving’s junk shrank a couple inches.”
“Disappeared completely, then?” Austin took two cloth bags from his friend.
“Well done, my brotha!” Dexter did a complicated handshake with Austin.
“Can’t see a lady in distress. Especially when she can’t get out of it without breaking bones. Don’t want you losing your job because Irving’s a thugging wanker, can we?” He winked at Liat.
© 2015 Dellani Oakes
I’m excited! I finally got my elderly copy of Photo Explosion to work again! YAY! This means I can work on covers for a few of my books. That may not sound all that exciting to others, but to me, it’s thrilling. I’ve been wanting to get Bad Fall out (maybe with an extra something at the end – hint hint) and haven’t been able to get the quality of lettering I want. I can’t afford to pay someone to do it for me, so I’m stuck with doing it myself.
I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of my cover for Bad Fall, which I will present all in good time. I haven’t decided when I’m bringing it out, still doing final edits, etc, so it will probably be a couple months at least. However, got the husband and son seal of approval on the cover, so now the real business begins. Wish me luck!
While in the castle, Wil and Ben split up. Wil finds a beautiful woman who claims to be a princess of the royal family. She has an old man with her who, she says, is Aurialonus. The one that Ben and Wil found in the basement was a double.
“You could have killed him yourself,” Wil walked over to the bed, wondering what he was going to do with a naked old man.
“Yes, but then no one would have believed that he was dead when you discovered the imposter. I’ll help you carry him out. He’s disgusting, but we can wrap a sheet around his nakedness.” She grimaced slightly at the idea, handling the sheet delicately.
Wil roughly bound Aurialonus in the sheet and hoisted him casually over his shoulder. Turning, he saw the princess eyeing him speculatively.
“All men are not created equal,” she said, smirking, her eyes…
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The rest of the morning went smoothly. They stopped for a late lunch and everyone crowded around the catering tables. There was a variety of food set out, something for every appetite. Austin made a beeline for the far end of the catering area. Dexter had something on the grill. From where she was standing, Liat couldn’t see what it was, but it smelled delicious. She followed her nose, looking expectant. Dexter grinned at her.
“Want some? There’s plenty.”
“What is it?” She eyed the grilled meat dubiously. It didn’t look like steak or pork chops.
Austin swung around, handing her something from his plate. “Barbecue spare ribs! I can’t get enough of them. It’s Dexter’s fault. He finds new ways to fatten me up. Here. They’re marvelous! Go on. I haven’t licked it or anything.”
Liat nibbled one side as he held it to her lips. The flavors erupted in her mouth, spicy and sweet at once. Closing her eyes, she savored the sauce and the succulent meat.
“Positively orgasmic,” he moaned. Realizing what she’d said to two strange men, she blushed. “Sorry. It’s delicious.”
Naomi came over, laughing. “You fed her the ribs, huh? That’s how Dex convinced me to marry him,” she confided.
“Wasn’t either,” Dexter replied. “As I recall it was something between the oh—yes and the oh—god, that convinced you.”
Naomi punched her towering husband. “Hush! The ribs helped.”
“Absolutely delicious,” Liat said.
“Get more,” Austin urged. He waited until her plate was full before leading her to a table.
As many people as there were, this table was empty. Liat sensed it was set aside for Austin. She was nervous about joining him, but he insisted. Some unknown flunky brought them each a tall glass topped with mint.
“Iced tea, absolutely fabulous. Never tried it until I got here and I can’t get enough of it either. I’ll be speaking American soon,” he teased, dropping into a Texas drawl.
“Are you always this excited about food, Austin?”
He blushed, eyes dropping to his plate. “I literally was a starving actor when I landed this role. When you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, you learn to appreciate the little things. Like a superbly grilled rib or a sweet, flaky scone with lots of juicy berries. I don’t ask them to pamper me. Dexter and Naomi make these things because I enjoy them—and they’re my friends. Everyone’s more like family, really.”
“I imagine it’s lonely so far from home.”
He shrugged. “Don’t have any home but here. I lived in the worst part of London. Before that, foster homes. Now, I live in my apartment and have my posh trailer here on the set. What more do I need?”
“You don’t want a house?”
Austin shrugged. “Fame is fleeting. This show could last a week or another ten years. They may decide to do with me as Doctor Who does and replace me when the novelty wears off. I stay within my means. Dwight lives across the hall and he organizes my life. I do my job.”
“Do you like your job?”
“I do. Where else can I be someone else and snog lots of pretty women?”
She giggled, putting her hand over her mouth so she wouldn’t spew her food. “I suppose that would be a dream job for some men.”
“Absolutely! I wish I got this guy’s action.” He realized that hadn’t gone over well. “Sorry. That makes me sound like a twat. He’s too much of a player for my tastes. He’s a space age Casanova. Yes, The Magician does have a reputation as a womanizer.”
“Why do you always refer to him in the third person?”
“Because he’s not me. He’s dashing and charming and I’m neither.”
He rose abruptly, leaving his plate on the table. An anonymous waiter picked it up, carrying it away to be cleaned.
Liat watched him walk away, wondering what she’d said to upset him. He was certainly a contradiction. One moment, charming and chatty. The next, he was dashing off to the loo. He was certainly an enigma, one she couldn’t possibly pursue since she had only a narrow window of opportunity. The three episodes she’d contracted for were slated for completion within the next few weeks. They were filming them simultaneously in order to maximize their time. In the interim, she could be hired for longer or not—on the whim of some unknown entity. Resigned to the situation, but disliking her lack of options, she went back to work.
© 2015 Dellani Oakes
Take a Bite Outta Crime was inspired by my sister. She challenged me to write a story about vampire caterers who solve crime—so I did. This was originally shared on my publisher’s site.~ Dellani
There is no part 7 I misnumbered
Austin has met his new leading lady, a pretty brunette with big brown eyes, named Liat. She seems to think he’s the one who decides what happens to the companions and is surprised when he says he’s not. After a short break, they return to the set.
Places were called. He handed Dwight the plate. Rochelle and Bunny descended like hawks, checking his hair and makeup before he went back on the set. Liat stood there, waiting for him, looking annoyed. Rochelle wiped crumbs from his lips and jacket.
“Could you possibly not eat crumbly things while we’re filming?”
“I like scones,” he pouted slightly, sounding like a spoiled child. “And they make them just for me. I’ve got half a dozen more to eat before day’s end.”
Rochelle left, laughing at him.
“Scones?” Liat’s face brightened. “Where?”
“Catering table. Get some on the next break. They’re determined to fatten me up and make me a platter every day. Help yourself.”
“Thanks. You’re sure?”
“I’ll tell them. Ready?”
“Why? This isn’t your first time, is it?”
Liat’s eyes narrowed and she gave him a skeptical double take. “No.”
“No nerves allowed. Look at me. Not the least bit nervous.” He did an elaborate shiver and shake, rolling his eyes before doing a jerky, robotic dance.
Liat giggled, dark eyes twinkling, as they found their marks. She took a moment to compose herself, watching Austin get into character. He underwent an amazing transition, going from a thirty-something Englishman to an ageless, alien time traveler before her eyes. She could believe he was The Magician, not Austin Templeton, actor.
“Ready? And go!” the director said.
The scene began. Austin and Liat worked well together. She picked up his energy, working with it well. By the end of the scene, they were really in sync. After a few more takes, they took another break so the technicians could reset the lights for the next scene.
“Scones!” Austin said, rubbing his hands gleefully. “Come, Morgana, the food awaits!”
Morgana was her character’s name. She followed him to the table. Austin introduced her and gave permission for her to eat some of the scones. He joined her, consuming two more of the tasty, flaky pastries.
Liat took a bite, rolling the scone around on her tongue. “Fabulous! My Gram makes them just like this.”
“So does my husband’s gram,”Naomi replied. “He uses her recipe. We make them just for Austin, but he doesn’t mind sharing.”
“Thank you! So delicious!” She tried not to spray crumbs.
“Where in England are you from?” Naomi asked.
“London. Born and raised.”
“My husband is from Manchester. Well, his family is. He was born in the States.”
“Is he here?”
“See the fiercely large man over with the stuntmen?”
“Yes. I thought you were married to the caterer.”
“He does both. He makes his living cooking, but he loves action. I fill in for the companions from time to time, if we have the same build.”
Austin wandered off to the restroom while the women spoke. He would have stayed, but he needed to pee rather badly. Naomi and Liat seemed happily engrossed in their conversation, so he didn’t think it was rude to leave.
“How many—companions have there been?” Liat asked somewhat hesitantly.
Naomi’s gaze followed Austin. Eyes narrowed, she focused on Liat.
“For The Magician or for Austin?”
“Oh, The Magician, of course!”
“Most of them last about three episodes. That’s their standard contract, so you’re number twelve.” She smiled. “As for Austin, less than five, since I’ve known him. He’s picky. Doesn’t usually date his co-stars.”
“Don’t last. It’s hard to keep up a relationship with a woman who thinks you got her fired.”
“Is it his fault?”
Naomi shrugged. “If you ask me, he’s as puzzled by it as we are. I think he’d like someone more permanent off as well as on set.” She shrugged. “Oh, they’re getting ready for the next scene.”
“I’d best go wee. Thanks for the scones. Absolutely delicious.”
“Thanks. I’ll tell Dexter.”
© 2015 Dellani Oakes