Archive | March 2016

First Love – Part 38

First Love coverGabe tells Maddie why the men are there. She asks if she should be scared, but he tells her that he hopes she won’t be—then he kisses her. It’s just a light, fleeting thing, but Clayton (and pretty much everyone else) sees.

Clayton and Madison had grown up together, their mothers were best friends. They’d slept in the same crib, played in the pool and even had baths together. Maddie and Clayton had shared their first official kiss when they were fifteen. She should be like a sister to him, but she wasn’t.

Yeah, maybe when they were little kids, but he was a man now and he had very different feelings for Madison. She didn’t date much and was completely innocent, something that couldn’t be said of many girls. She had a certain naïveté that made her virtually irresistible to many men. She was completely unaware of her charms, and that made her even more fascinating. None of the guys were immune to her, but none of them were as interested in her as Clayton—except for Gabe. Deciding he probably didn’t stand a chance in a competition with the young Mexican man, Clayton attacked the wall with abandon, slathering on the plaster like the wall had done him an injury.

“What’s eating your balls,” Brad asked as he sidled up to his friend.

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

“Could it be that you also witnessed that almost kiss?” He nudged his friend.

“Didn’t see a thing.” Clayton picked up a trowel full of mud and dropped it on Brad’s shoes. “Ooops.”

“Hey! I’m not the one to get mad at,” Brad growled. “It’s not my lips on her. If you don’t want her making out with another guy, maybe you should tell her how you feel.”

“I don’t feel anything.”

“Yeah—okay. You’re ready to kill that guy for doing something you’re too chicken to do.”

Clayton shoved Brad into the wet wall and stomped away.

“I’ll get you for that!” Brad yelled after him.

Clayton dropped his hawk and trowel, heading in the direction of the church.

“Don’t wander,” Jose yelled after him.

Clayton waved to acknowledge that he’d heard, but didn’t slow down.’

Maddie noticed his passing and she saw how angry he was. She didn’t know why and wasn’t sure he’d tell her anyway.

Gabriel saw the glare that Clayton shot in his direction. He knew exactly what the problem was. Not wanting to step on another man’s game, he decided he’d better ask a few pointed questions.

“How long have you known Clayton?”

“Literally our entire lives. He and I were born a few days apart and our moms were in the hospital together. Army wives, they bonded. When our dads mustered out, we all moved back to mom’s home town together. In fact, Clayton’s family lived with us while their house was built—next door.”

“So, you two dating?”

Maddie made a disgusted noise. “Me and Clayton? Don’t be ridiculous. We’re like brother and sister.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

 

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First Love – Part 37

First Love coverMaddie decides to get some answers and corner’s Gabe after lunch. Puzzled, he wonders how she knows the men are armed. She tells him her father was in the Army when she was a child.

“Did he see action?”

“Yeah. Then he was wounded and sent home. Your dad was in Nam, wasn’t he?”

Gabe nodded. “He was a sniper. He won’t talk about what he saw or what he had to do.”

“Neither will my dad. It must have been awful.” She fell silent for a moment. “You didn’t answer my question.”

Gabe sighed, running a hand through this long hair. He nodded for her to follow him. They walked over to the mixing area and added more ingredients to the adobe. He didn’t say anything until the were plying the hoe and shovel to the mud.

“Ramon, the guy who had Claire, is a bad dude. He’s been in prison more than he’s been out. Dad is worried that he’ll decide he was insulted—maybe hurt someone just for the heck of it.”

“Oh, my. Do you think so?”

“I haven’t seen my dad wrong many times. I think it’s a really serious possibility. I don’t know that they will attack us, but I think they’ll try to cause trouble.”

“Should I be scared?”

Gabe stopped mixing the adobe, touching her cheek. “Only if you really want to be. It’s a beautiful day, sun’s shining, warm breeze is blowing and I’m talking to the prettiest girl in the world. I’d sure like it better if she wasn’t scared.”

“Why?” her voice caught in her throat. She couldn’t explain how the touch of his fingers made her feel.

“Because if you’re scared, you’re not gonna want to—” He leaned forward, brushing her lips with his.

The touch was fleeting, barely even a kiss, but it made Maddie’s heart race. She hoped no one had seen, then realized she didn’t care if they did nor not. It wasn’t like they’d done a thing wrong. It was a kiss—not even a proper kiss. That brief touch of his lips on hers made her hungry for the real thing. She wanted to kiss him more.

Gabriel went back to mixing the adobe, doing his best to forget that he’d just kissed Maddie He couldn’t help himself. She was so sweet and innocent, beautiful and sun kissed. He’d been strongly attracted since they met, but having her weep in his arms had brought that attraction emphatically home. He wanted to kiss her again, badly. He wanted much more than that, but knew that Maddie wasn’t the kind of girl to hop in his bed—or, more accurately, the back of his pickup truck.

Instead of making another move, he changed the subject, asking her what kind of music she liked. It pleased him when she named off half a dozen musicians he liked too. They talked about music the rest of the afternoon.

Clayton watched Gabe and Maddie from a distance. He wasn’t sure he liked what he saw. He thought highly of the young Mexican man. He was courageous and honorable—and hadn’t known Maddie her entire life.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

 

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First Love – Part 36

First Love coverCraig leaves, swearing he will do something about Claire’s father. Polly says she wishes that Claire had told someone, but Jane mentions that Claire’s father threatened to hurt her little sister. Cast in a more heroic light, the group find themselves more willing to help Claire.

Maddie sighed. It wasn’t that she was tired or even sad. In fact, she was content for the first time since this trip began. Clayton had always been her buddy, but he’d shown her just how good a friend he was. And Gabe—She couldn’t finish that thought. She wasn’t sure how she felt about him. He was strong, handsome, brave and outgoing. She caught him looking at her when he thought she wasn’t looking. There was longing in his eyes that she’d never noticed in a man before. She had no idea what that meant and wasn’t sure whether she wanted to find out or not. It was thrilling, exciting and terrifying all at once.

They ate a good breakfast and everyone went to bed. Leslie advised them not to sleep too long, or they would be complete wrecks the following day. He set an alarm noon and promised to wake everyone. Without bothering to brush teeth or wash faces the group took to their sleeping bags.

Noon seemed to come far more quickly than anyone liked. Leslie woke them as promised, smiling brightly. He’d been up for an hour and prepared a meal and a pot of coffee. Everyone slowly made their way to the kitchen and ate, savoring the food. Leslie had made mini-quiches with flaky homemade pastry.

Claire came home shortly after noon. Polly helped her inside and she immediately went upstairs. She didn’t come down for dinner. Polly and Jane ate with her. When the others got upstairs, they found Maddie and Patti’s things in the big room with the other girls. Claire and Polly had moved into the nursery room.

Although Patti and Maddie understood the change, they would have liked to be consulted. It bothered them that someone else touched their things without asking them. Neither complained, but they talked about it together when they were in the downstairs bathroom. They had taken to using it because there was far less traffic.

No one saw Claire at breakfast the next day, but she did come out for the work detail. They continued plastering the torreón. There were more of the local men hanging about. All of them looked like retired military and Maddie wasn’t sure, but she thought that a few of them were armed. They did a little work, but mostly they watched.

Maddie couldn’t explain it any other way. These men were hyper-vigilant, watching the group and their surroundings carefully. Jose had more than one hurried, quiet conversation with them. They would speak and scurry off. Maddie cornered Gabe after lunch, determined to get some information.

“What’s going on?”

“We’re plastering the playhouse,” he said with a chuckle.

“You know what I mean. Why the extra people? And the guns.”

He cut his dark eyes at her, curious. “You saw that?”

“My dad wasn’t always a drycleaner,” she replied. “He was Army when I was little.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

 

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Red River Radio Presents What’s Write for Me with Clayton, Kenneth and Maggie

red river radio logoWhat’s Write for Me Wednesday, March 23 at 4:00 PM EDT (3 CDT, 2 MDT, 1 PDT)

Authors helping authors, that’s what the Write Room Blog is all about. Coordinated by Kenneth Weene and Clayton Bye, this phenomenal blog hosts authors from all walks of life and all points of the globe. Joining us on the show are Kenneth Weene, author of Kenneth Weene is the author of Broody New Englander, Sweet and Sour, Songs for my Father and more. Also on the show, Clayton Bye is the author of The Sorcerer’s Key, Behind the Red Door,The Speed of Dark and more. And giving us an international flair, Maggie Tideswell is the author of Dark Moon, Silent Night, Runaway Couple and more.

 

First Love – Part 35

First Love coverJane reveals some secrets about Claire’s life, explaining her nasty behavior and hatred of Maddie. It doesn’t make it right, but it does make it understandable. When he finds out about Claire’s father, Craig is furious and declares that he will do something about it.

The others watched Craig’s departure in silence.

Maddie walked over to Jane, hugging her. “Thank you for telling me,” she said.

“She’s probably never going to like you much,” Jane warned.

Maddie shrugged. “I don’t care. But at least now I know why she’s such a bitch and I can deal with it.”

“Does she have to know that I told everyone?”

“Yes,” Caroline said firmly. “I wish someone had told one of us before. I’m not a lawyer, but I used to be a social worker. Polly’s a nurse. We could have done something.”

“But her dad scared her into not telling,” Jane said. “He told her he’d hurt her little sister.”

“If Dad has anything to say about it, that’s over,” Daniel said. “He’s furious.”

“But he’s so quiet,” Jane said.

“And at his most deadly. Leave it to him, he’ll make that man wish he’d never been born.”

“He’s an oral surgeon,” Denise protested. “A professional man. No one will believe this about him.”

“Wanna bet?” Daniel grinned. “If you think it’s gonna stop here, you don’t know my dad. He’s just getting warmed up.” Looking proud, he headed out.

“I think we should all have some breakfast and get a nap,” Leslie said. “I’ll get something going.”

Several of the others followed him, leaving Maddie, Clayton, Gabe and Jose together.

“I’m sorry I blamed you,” Jose said. “I didn’t know about her old man.”

“None of us did, except Jane,” Clayton said quietly. “I’d break the man’s nose if he were close enough.”

Gabe chuckled. “I thought you didn’t like Claire.”

“I didn’t. I don’t. It’s just—no one should have to live through that. A dad isn’t supposed to abuse his daughter. And she’s protecting her little sister. That’s brave. And worth defending her honor.” He cleared his throat, looking embarrassed. “Sorry, sounding like my paladin.”

“Chip would ride up on his horse and slay the mighty ogre,” Maddie said, hugging him. She kissed his cheek. “You’re a good man, Clayton. Thank you for always believing me, too.”

He smiled, kissing her cheek. His lips lingered, then he brushed the spot with his thumb. “You’re welcome, Maddie.” He left too, following the crowd.

Jose cleared his throat. “We need to get home, son. Mom will be worried.”

“Yeah, one second. I’m right behind you.” Gabe couldn’t pull himself away. “See you later,” he said to Maddie.

“Sorry I soaked your shirt.” She tugged on the wet material.

“I don’t mind. You get some sleep.” He kissed her forehead and followed his father.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

 

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First Love – Part 34

First Love coverPolly decides to spend the night at the clinic. Everyone else goes home, relieved that Claire wasn’t badly harmed by Ramon and his gang. Unfortunately, when they get back to the church, Jose blames Maddie for what happened to Claire, making her cry.

Gabe was nearby. He rushed over to see what had happened. Maddie flung herself at him and he held her close, talking soothingly in Spanish. Maddie wept piteously, her tears soaking his shirt.

“It’s not her fault, Dad.”

“Why are you taking her side?”

“Why aren’t you? You never make your judgements without knowing all the facts. That’s what you always tell me.”

“It’s just the facts sound so damn weird,” Jose said. “How can anyone hate so much with no reason?”

“Because that’s just Claire!” Maddie said. “Don’t you see? She is a professional at warping and manipulating. I’m sorry this happened to her, but I didn’t make her go there. I don’t know why she hates me! Why can’t any of you believe me?” she yelled.

“I believe you, Maddie,” Gabe said. He held her in his arms.

“I believe you,” Patti said.

“Me too,” the boys all walked over to back her up.

“I’m behind ya,” Craig said softly.

“I have no reason not to believe you,” Leslie added, walking over to stand by Craig.

The only ones left were Jose, Caroline and the girls. Looking somewhat sheepish, Jane walked over to standby Maddie. Everyone was stunned that Claire’s best friend would do that. For a moment, the tension in the air was palpable, then it eased.

“Maybe I can explain,” Jane said. “Maddie’s right. She hasn’t done anything to Claire—at least not directly and not on purpose. Just being who she is upsets Claire. For her, it’s all about being popular and liked. She knows that people are more afraid of her and she really doesn’t understand why. She’s mean when she doesn’t get her way, but she doesn’t see it that way.” She shook her head, shrugging. “Nothing we say makes any difference.” Jane cleared her throat, gazing at the floor. “Her dad’s really mean,” she said quietly. “And no one knows how nasty he is because he hides it. He’s a drug addict. Sometimes he hurts her. And no one believes her.”

“But why Maddie?” Craig asked.

“Because she’s so much the opposite of what Claire is. She’s everything Claire wants to be and isn’t. She’s sweet and popular and people like her. And your dad, Maddie, he’s like your best friend. She sees all that and it just eats away at her.”

“If she was just friendly—” Maddie began. “If she was nice, I probably would think she was up to something. Honestly, I used to try to be her friend. We got along fine when we were little. When we were around ten, that’s when she changed.”

“That’s when her dad—” Jane said. “I really shouldn’t say anymore.”

“You’ve said just enough,” Craig said softly. “And looking back, I can see the changes in her too. I can do something about this,” he decided firmly. “I’m not a frigging lawyer for no reason.” He whirled on his heel and stomped from the room.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

 

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First Love – Part 33

First Love coverThe boys take Claire to a clinic right next to the Catholic church. The doctor examines here and determines that she hasn’t been raped. Surprised at his own reaction, Clayton is extremely glad that she’s all right. Polly and Caroline come over to the clinic stay with Claire.

“I’m surprised Jane didn’t come,” Clayton said to Jose.

“I think she was too scared,” Jose replied. “The only one of the girls who wanted to come, was Maddie. I didn’t let her come because I didn’t think Dr. Santos needed a house full of people.”

The door to the examination room opened again. The doctor came out, smiling.

“She’ll be fine. Nothing more serious than the equivalent of a hangover. I’ve taken some blood samples. I’ll send them out in the morning. But she wasn’t—” Seeing the boys, she snapped her lips shut. “She wasn’t—harmed—in that way.”

“Why do you suppose he drugged her?” Gabe asked.

“Who knows with that one?” Dr. Santos replied.

“I think it’s time he and I had a chat,” Jose said, turning to go.

Gabe stopped him. “Not right now. Not yet. He knows not to push you too far. I made it clear, she’s under our protection. I just wish she’d listened to you in the first place.”

“Claire’s never been one to obey,” Clayton said. He turned to the doctor. “Did she say why she’d gone?”

“She mumbled something about Maddie?” Doctor Santos shrugged. “She must really hate that girl. Foolish to risk her own well being for revenge in a petty squabble.”

“To Claire, it’s not petty,” Clayton tried to explain. “To her, being the most popular, the most sought after, the most beautiful—that’s all there is for her. She hates Maddie because we all like her better and she’s way hotter than Claire. She’s also really sweet, so people want to be around her. Claire can’t stand that.”

“How sad,” Dr. Santos said. “What must her home life be like? Polly has asked to spend the night,” she told the priest. “She’ll take the bed next to Claire.”

“I’ll go back and get her things,” Caroline said quietly. “That poor child.” She shook her head.

“We all need to get back,” Jose said. “I’ll make sure Polly’s things get to her,” he assured the doctor. “Thank you. Sorry to bother you in the middle of the night.”

“It’s quite all right. Better here than the impersonal emergency room. That’s why I’m here.”

They piled into the cars and trucks and headed back to the church compound. Caroline packed a bag for Polly and Jose sent it over with some of the men. The others gathered in the fellowship hall for an update. Jose gave them one, assuring them all that Claire would be fine.

Jose pulled Maddie aside afterward. “What happened between you? She ran away to get drugs to get back at you. What have you done?”

“Me? Nothing! Anything that’s ever happened between us, Claire initiated. Why does everyone blame me?” She burst into tears.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

 

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