Archive | April 2017

The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 13

the-man-who-wasnt-thereAfter talking to Dr. Meru, Brian and Jordan share his information with the others. After that, it’s lunch time and they order pizza for a crowd.

The pizza was greeted enthusiastically, the delivery personnel even got scattered thanks from the group. When they had all eaten their fill, there was very little left. It all fit in two boxes. True to their prediction, Brian and Sweet had each eaten the better part of a whole large pizza.

“You know how on TV the mom comes in carrying one pizza box and there are like six people there?” Andre said, suppressing a burp. “I look at that and I think, She’s planning on feeding an entire family with one large pizza? Is she high?

“Apparently not, or she’d have her own pizza and make the family share,” Miles countered.

“And there’s always a piece or two left afterward,” Sweet added. “Six people, one pizza, two slices left.” He shook his head. “Not my kinda math at all.”

“No, in your world, it’s six people, twelve pizzas and everyone gets two,” Ginnifer teased.

“Damn straight, babe.”

“I need a nap,” Miles said. “If we’re going to be up late, I want some rest.”

Agreeing with him, everyone departed, planning to meet up at the Finley’s house at 6:00 for dinner. They would be performing the ritual at the Finley’s. It was the most remote location available. Set on the edge of the swamp, they could offer more privacy than the others.

Brian kissed Jordan before she got in the car with her parents. “See you later,” he murmured. “I have something to tell you before we get involved in everything.”

“We’ll sneak off before dinner,” she promised.

“See you soon.”

They kissed again and he went inside. Brian went to his room and lay down, staring at the ceiling. He was tired, but too wound up to relax. He was anxious, not just because of the ritual, but because he planned to tell Jordan that he loved her. He had no idea how this evening would end. If something went wrong, he could be killed or injured. He had no illusions on that point. His mother had lost her eyesight in casting a spell. Over a year later, she still hadn’t gotten it back fully and probably never would.

What if it doesn’t work? What if I mess up? What if he isn’t real? What if he doesn’t show up?

Brian knew he was making himself crazy with the worrying, but he couldn’t stop it. His mind was in fast gear, moving at a furious speed. To help himself relax, he put on some music. All the songs were things that Jordan liked. He could see her singing along as she danced by herself.

I never dance with her. Why don’t I dance with her?

Because you can’t dance, you moron.

Then I’m going to learn. Jordan loves it so much, she deserves to have a man in her life who can dance.

With Jordan’s face in his mind, he dozed off, waking to a light tapping on his door. He rolled over as it opened.

“Hiya, handsome,” Jordan said as she walked in.

“Hey, babe. Oh, wake up breath!” He excused himself. Coming back minty fresh, he kissed her.

“I thought I’d slip up here before it gets crazy. Dad dropped me off on the way to Chase’s house. He said I can ride over with you.” She sat beside him on the bed, legs crossed in front of her. “What did you want to talk about? The ritual?”

“No.” He took her hands. “I’m not gonna lie, Jordan. I’m nervous, maybe even scared.”

“It’s gonna be okay, Brian….”

“Yeah, I know. It will probably be fine. But I’ve had something on my mind for a couple weeks no—longer. And I have to get this off my chest before we do all this.”

“Okay.” She sat quietly, attentive.

Brian took her hands, kissing them. “I know we’re destined to be together,” he said quickly, almost flippantly. “But I wanted to say, I’d have chosen you anyway, because you’re the most amazing girl I know.”

“Thanks, Brian….”

He stopped her with a shake of his head. “I have to say this fast—all at once, or I’ll chicken out.”

“Okay. You’re kinda freaking me out here, Bri.”

He traced the vein on the back of her hand with the tip of his finger. His gaze fastened on hers. “You mean the world to me, Jordan. I feel like I can do anything when you’re with me. I could leap a tall building or two. Provided one needed leaping. I bet I could even stop a freight train.” He realized he was babbling. He took a deep breath. “I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight. Everything could be fine, or it could all go balls up. And if that happens, you need to know something.” He took another deep breath. “I love you, Jordan. More than my own life. You drive me nuts and you keep me on my toes. You scold me when I need it and you help me when I get in over my head.”

Jordan stopped his flow of words by kissing him. They kissed a long time, getting more familiar with their hands than they’d ever been. Jordan pulled away for a moment.

“I love you, too, Brian. Since the first day when you nearly planted your face in my tits.”

“You have very nice tits,” he whispered huskily. His hands moved, of their own accord, to her chest.

There was a sharp tap on the door. Andre poked his head around the door. “Are you f**king crazy, dude?” he whispered angrily. He scooted into the room, shutting the door quietly. “You’re sending off all kinds of bells and whistles,” he motioned in the air. “You’re lucky I’m the one who picked up on it and not someone like—oh, I don’t know—her dad!”

“You’re right,” Brian said. “Sorry, Jordan.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 12

the-man-who-wasnt-thereAfter viewing a couple of videos from Dr. Meru, about the Peddler, Brian and Jordan speak to him about the ritual. He tells Jordan that she will help the Casters with the spell.

“Me? I don’t know how to do this either.”

“I am well aware of that, my dear. But you’re his intended mate. Therefore, your participation is essential. I’m going to give you detailed instructions.”

Jordan, who was very well organized, picked up a pencil and legal pad she’d brought down to take notes on the videos. She’d already scribbled some things on the pad. She turned to a fresh page.

“Ready,” she replied.

Meru smiled. “Not yet, perhaps, but you will be as ready as I can make you.”

He spent the next hour giving them detailed instructions on how to stand, how to chant and who should handle what part of the intricate spell. Jordan kept concise notes, repeating the instructions to be sure she had everything right.

Brian and Meru practiced the dance together. Jordan kept the beat by tapping on her notepad with her pencil. When they were done, he smiled once more. His dark eyes sparkled.

“You’ll let me know how this goes?”

“Yes, absolutely,” Jordan replied. “Thank you, Dr. Meru. I hope one day we’ll be able to meet you.”

“I do too, Jordan. And don’t worry, dearest one, you’ll grow. Not as tall as your man-beast here, but tall enough that you’ll be able to hold your own.”

“She already holds her own,” Brian replied, winking at Jordan. “She scares the hell out of me on a regular basis.”

Meru laughed, nodding. “As it should be. Time for me to go, children. I have faith in you. I will call upon the others and we will all be lifting you up.” He bowed his head and cut the connection.

Jordan and Brian went upstairs to talk to the others and give their instructions. Maribelle got pencils and paper for everyone so that they could copy their parts as Jordan told them. Each of them had a part to play. When they were done, Jordan sat heavily beside Brian. He put his arm around her, pulling her close.

“You’re pretty amazing,” he whispered. “If I haven’t told you that before, I’m a damn fool.”

Jordan kissed his cheek, grinning up at him. “Thank you. You are a damn fool.”

Brian laughed, rubbing her head until he mussed her hair. “Thanks a bunch! Just remember, I may be a fool, but I’m all yours.”

“Yes, no end of bother, but what’s a girl to do?”

“Who’s hungry?” Miles asked.

“Besides you?” Maribelle replied.

“I’m starving,” Brian replied.

“I could eat,” Sweet added.

The men all joined in on the chorus of hunger. Soon, the children joined them, creating quite a cacophony.

“Pizza,” Miles declared, pulling out his phone. “Three large, right?” He winked at the assembled hoard of hungry people.

“More like thirty,” Brian replied. “I swear, I could eat a whole one by myself.”

Jordan’s pad of paper came in handy once more. Everyone had their special orders to ask for. Miles gathered and assembled the requests and called the pizza delivery place.

“We’ll pick it up,” he assured the girl on the phone. “No driver should have to deal with that kind of order.”

“I was gonna say, that’s bigger than some school orders. This could take about an hour, is that okay?”

“Yeah. Thank you.”

Maribelle pulled out all the snack food she had, which was considerable. Everything from honey mustard pretzels to a vegetable platter. Brian wasn’t surprised to find out that the mothers had brought a variety of items with them for the overnight trip.

Brian and Andre went with Louisa and Jordan to pick up the pizza. On the way back, Jordan yelped.

“I completely forgot about your loin cloth,” she said.

“No worries,” Brian assured her. “I talked to Dr. Meru about that. He said any natural fiber. I have a pair of hemp shorts that Dad got for me in Jamaica. They’ve never been worn. I rinsed them out in blessed salt water. Meru said those would work great. Even the thread and drawstring are hemp fiber.”

“Whew!” I haven’t even had time to think about it.”

“Aw, you mean we don’t get to see Brian in the buff?” Louisa teased. “I wanted to make unkind comparisons.”

Brian blushed, his ears burning. “I assure you, everything is proportional,” he shot back at her.

Andre’s eyes narrowed. “Oh, hell. I’m just as glad you’re gonna be dancing in shorts cause, da-yam.”

Brian laughed, glancing at his friend with a raised eyebrow. “Jealous?”

Andre, who was considerably shorter than Brian, screwed up his mouth, shaking his head. “No fair. That’s all I’m sayin’.”

The girls laughed loudly.

“If either of you says anything with the word envy attached, she will be summarily chastised,” Andre threatened.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Red River Radio Presents Authors of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

Wednesday, June 26 from 4 – 6 PM EDT (3 – 5 Central, 2 – 4 Mountain, 1 – 3 Pacific) Dellani and Christina welcome guests from Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

First up, author/ publisher Amanda Thrasher, whose books for children and young adults both amuse and inspire her readers. She is the author of such works as The Greenlee Project, Fairy Match in the Mushroom Patch and Bitter Betrayal.

Other guests are:

Darrell Bartell author of Barry and the Vampire in the Rosedale Encounter and Ten-Five: You’re Going Home, Marine!

Matthew Gene author of Hope and Terminus X.

William Speir author of King’s Ransom; Arthur, King; Legacy of the Grand Master and many more.

Join the fun while we chat about books, writing and publishing the Rising Phoenix way!

Join us live or listen to the podcast recording at your convenience. 

The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 11

the-man-who-wasnt-thereThe ritual is set for that night. In the morning, though, the families get together to eat breakfast before completing their preparations.

“I got an e-mail with all kinds of attachments from Dr. Meru,” Andre said. “He told me to call him on Skype when we’ve read through things.”

“Cool! I was hoping I’d have a chance to talk to him,” Brian said. “Is he sure? That’s gonna be way late his time.”

“He was insistent. He wants to talk to you.”

“Should we call him before hand?”

“No, I wrote him back and asked both those questions. He said to read and listen, then call. He doesn’t care about the time.”

“Okay. Let’s get to it.”

Andre plugged his laptop into Brian’s widescreen TV and cued up the first video. Dr. Meru’s smiling face filled the frame.

“I am Bindjali Meru. I want to greet you all as my friends.” He bowed his head a moment before continuing. “Dwight tells me you want to know the story of the Peddler, so let us begin there.”

A picture filled the screen. It was a copy of an old wood cut. It depicted a man in clothing indicative of the 1700s. His features were hard to make out. He could have been any race, but Brian had the impression, the way it was shaded, that he was dark skinned.

“It is said that a stranger appeared in your town when the fighting and killing was at its worst. His skin was the color of an old copper penny. His long hair was curly and black. Those who wrote about it afterward thought he was a man from a far distant land, but they don’t specify which. His clothing was brightly colored and of the finest quality. At first, he did nothing, but as the fighting increased, he took his place in the town square and started to chant.

“Here, the stories vary markedly. Some said that brightly colored birds gathered around him. Others say, multi-hued rain burst forth, covering them. The one thing that doesn’t change—bright colors, like dozens of rainbows. The fighting stopped, the witches dropped dead and the wounded revived. Those who had died were burned. In fact, all the bodies of the dead witches, were dug up and burned. Their ashes mingled in a pit and they were covered with lye and bitter herbs. Protective wards were set around them and a variety of special plants circle the pit.

“For the righteous who died, they too were burned. Their remains were also buried, but in a crypt in the local cemetery.” A slide came up, a photograph of a mausoleum they more or less remembered seeing before. “As to the Peddler, he stayed for a few days, tending the wounded, and helping with the rebuilding. Then he disappeared without a word.”

The slide disappeared and Dr. Meru smiled at the camera again. “It differs some from our local story, but the circumstances are similar. The brightly colored stranger arrives, brings peace, heals and restores, before moving on. Only in our version, the Peddler is one of us. There is no telling if it’s the same man or not. Your sighting was in 1713. Ours was seventy-five years later when the first convicts arrived on our soil.” He sighed sadly, shaking his head. “It was a harsh time and a bloody one for our people and theirs. Our Peddler came to stop an uprising of my people against the Whites.”

“That sucks,” Andre interjected. “White people had no right to be there. Then the Aborigines were subjugated. They still are.” He bristled with anger.

Louisa put her hand on his arm. “It was a long time ago,” she murmured. “What happened isn’t right….”

“I imagine that Andre isn’t taking that announcement well,” Dr. Meru said with a smile, as if he’d heard them, although he’d recorded this hours before. “Believe me, it was an unhappy time. If the Peddler hadn’t come when he did, my people would have been wiped out entirely. Though our numbers are few, we survived. It was not ideal, but we didn’t stand a chance against the Whites. Better a few of us suffer than all of us die.” The video ended.

Andre didn’t like the idea, but he understood it. The choice would have been a hard one. “I don’t think I could have watched and waited,” he said. “I’d be right in there mixing it up.”

“And you would have been killed,” Louisa said. “I know your inclination is to fight, baby, but sometimes you have to kneel to fight.”

He nodded, dropping his head. “You’re right.” He smoothed her hair, giving her a little kiss.

They watched another video. In this one, Dr. Meru showed the dance Brian needed to do to summon the Peddler. At the end, he smiled at the camera once more.

“Now, my young friends, you need to call me. Pay no heed to the time, I will be up and waiting.”

Andre put through the Skype request and Dr. Meru answered right away. He grinned at them. “Which one of you is Brian?”

Brian waved to him.

“Excellent. The rest of you leave, except for Jordan. This is for them alone.” He waited until the others left.

The young people went without questioning Meru’s decision. When the door above had closed, Brian leaned forward, hands clasped between his knees.

“I know it’s not this simple,” he said in a matter of fact tone.

“No, it’s not. Though we know what to do, no one has ever done this before. You are young and have absolutely no experience with this ritual. Do you have strong Casters?”

“Yes—we hope so. None of them have done this complex a spell before,” Jordan replied.

Meru nodded. “As I thought. Never fear. You will help them,” he said, speaking to Jordan.

“Me? I don’t know how to do this either.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 10

the-man-who-wasnt-thereThey receive information about the Peddler from their friend, Dwight, who lives in Australia. His father is a holy man and has researched the Peddler extensively, since he’s also appeared there. Brian is delighted to find out that he won’t have to dance the ritual naked after all. Heath tells them that they must see all the patterns and that each person weaves their own. He mentions that Miles can see them.

“Is that a skill that’s inherited?” Brian called after him.

Heath simply laughed and closed the door at the top of the stairs.

“And here I was feeling so good about myself,” Brian said with a sigh.

Jordan put her arms around him, pulling him close. “Look at the bright side,” she said with a grin. “Not naked!”

Brian laughed, giving her a quick kiss. “Thanks.”

“I’ll make you a loin cloth,” she promised. “I’ve got some linen and some cotton thread. I’ll get it done by tomorrow night.”

“Tomorrow? I thought we were waiting until Halloween,” Brian gasped.

“We’re expecting trouble on Halloween,” Chase reminded him. “So the ritual takes place as soon as possible. It has to be done on, or very near, a full moon, that’s tomorrow.”


“Meanwhile, it’s late,” Ginnifer said. “And I’ve been up since six o’clock. I’m wiped. We can meet up tomorrow and talk more.”

“Mom said we’re meeting at Brian’s for breakfast at eight,” Jordan said. “I agree, it’s time for bed.”

Andre and Louisa were staying with Brian’s family, so they waited in his car while Brian and Jordan said goodnight. Brian was a little intimidated by the older couple being right there as he kissed Jordan, but her presence soon made him forget. They kissed for several minutes until Jordan shivered.

“I’ll make sure that your loin cloth is good and warm,” she promised. “I’m going to start on it tonight.”

“Get some sleep. You can work on it tomorrow.” He kissed her once more, holding her close. “Jordan, don’t ever think that I’m not happy we’re together,” he whispered. “Because even if we weren’t destined to be together, I would have picked you.”

He kissed her one last time before getting in the car. He didn’t give her a chance to respond. It had taken every ounce of courage he had to come that close to telling her he loved her. He was determined to tell her the following day, before the ritual. Because, who knew how that would turn out? He didn’t want to die before he told her she held his heart in her hands.

Louisa sat in the seat next to him. Her warm hand patted his knee. “You’re a good guy, Brian. Soon, you’re going to be a great man. Jordan is a very lucky girl to have you.”

He flashed a smile at the beautiful, poised Latina. “Thank you. I think Andre’s pretty damn lucky to have a woman like you.”

“I sure am,” his friend agreed. “I like to hope she’s lucky to have me, as well.”

Louisa laughed. “I am, indeed. I tell myself that every night and every morning.”

Brian drove the couple of blocks to his house. “When is the wedding?”

“We’re planning on December. We both graduate from school then and we’ve both got jobs lined up.”

“Wow, already?”

“Part of that network that Heath mentioned,” Andre said. “Natural medicinal research for the company Jordan’s mom works for.”

“Exciting! That’s great.”

Brian led his guests in and showed them where they would be sleeping. Louisa’s parents were in the guest room, so that left the basement for the young couple. It suited them fine, far from everyone else. Brian envied their relationship. He knew that he and Jordan were too young for the same intimacy, but he couldn’t help being jealous. He longed to show Jordan how much he loved her. He hoped she loved him too, but neither of them had ever said it. Determined to rectify that issue as soon as he could, Brian went to bed.

Sunday was crisp and bright, unusually chilly for this time of year. Normally, it was still hot, with cooler nights, towards the end of October. It was supposed to duck into the forties and Brian wasn’t anticipating that fact with great enthusiasm. He perked up when his father told him that there would be a bonfire as part of the event.

Louisa and her mother helped Maribelle fix a huge breakfast for everyone. Brian was pleased to see that his mother was cooking bacon and sausage. Even if Jordan’s family were vegetarians, the other families weren’t. In fact, Jordan and her father weren’t strict about it. Only Jackie adhered to it faithfully.

The other families pulled up and parked in the driveway or along the street, arriving almost en masse. Brian had been given the job of serving beverages. He had multiple pots of coffee and tea. Jordan and Andre helped him get everyone settled with places to sit. The children were at one long table, the adults were in the dining room. The teenagers were relegated to the basement, which suited them fine. None of the older siblings particularly liked taking care of the younger ones.

Once the food was ready, they stood around for a quick blessing offered by Marissa’s father. Afterward, they served themselves buffet style and found places to sit. The teenagers trooped down the basement stairs and sat around the ping pong table to eat. When they’d finished, they rinsed their plates and put them in the dishwasher before going back downstairs.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 9

the-man-who-wasnt-thereIt seems there are other conflicts in the group, other than between Chase and Marissa. Brian tells them to air the differences before the ritual, since he’s the one who will be on display.

The others, all of whom had never gotten past kissing and some exploratory groping, were mortified. Ginnifer blanched, staring at Louisa.

“Are you kidding? That’s weird!”

“Maybe so, but you’ll excuse him once you try it. Trust me.”

“Moving on?” Marissa said, her voice high pitched and squeaky.

“Sorry, Marissa. Had to clear the air,” Brian said. For the first time, he felt sorry for the overly religious girl. She couldn’t help it that she was the product of a couple frigid, uptight Jesus freaks. “We can’t let something as inconsequential as Sweet’s love life get in the way of this.”

“Thanks, dude. Thanks a lot for making light of it,” Sweet grumbled.

No one stuck up for Sweet, they all sided with Brian.

Jordan had compiled everything they’d found about the ritual and the Peddler. It wasn’t much, but they hoped that their contacts in other groups would have more. All of them had heard the legend of the Peddler, but apparently, he hadn’t appeared anywhere but in Miracle.

“This is the most complex ritual I’ve ever seen,” Louisa said. She was the most adept at casting a spell. She had been given the job of assisting Miles and Jackie. She read through it, familiarizing herself with the words of power.

Jordan reviewed the list of ingredients needed. “This has some weird stuff in it. Tears of a baby. That’s easy, we’ll just wait until Elise cries.”

“If it calls for blood of a virgin, we’d have that covered, too,” Chase teased.

“Yes, we’ll use yours,” Jordan snapped.

“Burn!” Sweet chortled.

“Don’t push your luck, Osric,” Ginnifer chided.

“Now you know why he goes by Sweet,” Andre said. “Lighten up, y’all. Brian’s right. This is important and needs to be done asap. So, let’s knuckle down and learn our parts. Bri, I found choreography for the dance you have to do.”

Brian stared at him blankly, eyes narrow. He frowned. “Oh?”

“Seriously, man. Would I make something up?”

“Yeah, you would, just to mess with me.”

“Not when it’s important. Look.” He pointed to the computer screen. “This is from our pal Dwight in Australia. He’s an Aborigine and his father is a holy man in their tribe. Doctor Meru’s got a lot to say about the Peddler. Apparently, we were wrong. He’s made a visit there, too. His dad said he’d find what he could in their records. Most of it’s word of mouth, but at one point, some of the tribal elders agreed to be recorded so that the stories could be preserved. His dad is an historian at some big college down there. He’s been pushing to preserve their culture before it dies out.”

“Good for him,” Jordan said.

“He’s screening stuff about the Peddler now and should have some information for us by tomorrow morning. They’re sixteen hours ahead of us, so it’s like two o’clock in the afternoon right now.”

Brian wasn’t really paying attention. He was looking at the dance. It seemed simple enough, but he wasn’t exactly light on his feet. “Oh, oh! Yes!” Both fists pumped in the air. “Oh, I love you!” He kissed the screen. “Listen to this. Though this dance and accompanying ritual are traditionally performed in the nude,” he made a wry face. “Modern practitioners agree that the state of nudity isn’t important to the ritual. They do suggest natural fibers and that the dancer wear as little as possible, but he or she need not be—nude.” He raised his arms, flashing the rock on sign as he head banged. Too happy to contain it, he improvised a little dance based on the summoning steps. He ended in a Moonwalk, which was, quite honestly, the only real dance move he knew.

His friends joined him, dancing and chanting. Sweet drummed on the table. Andre thumped on the sofa cushions and the others stomped their feet. The door at the top of the stairs opened and Heath trotted down.

“Starting the ritual early?”

“I don’t have to be naked!” Brian whooped and cheered.

Heath laughed loudly. “Glad to hear that, son. I wasn’t really looking forward to that either. How did you find out?”

“Our buddy, Dwight’s dad,” Jordan said, turning the laptop so he could see it. “Dr. Bindjali Meru.” She severely mispronounced the first name, making Heath laugh.

“Bin-ja-li,” he said slowly. “Yes, I know him. We’ve met at a few conferences.”

“Y’all have conferences on this shit?” Andre interjected.

“Yes. In fact, there is a network set up for people like us.”

“And why are we just now hearing about it?” Andre asked.

“Because you’ve been setting up a network of your own. It has to be that way. You have to see the patterns for yourself. If you don’t, you won’t understand.”

“Patterns—plural?” Brian said. “No one mentioned more than one.”

“Each person weaves his or her own,” Heath replied, leaning against the wall. “So, in this room, we have nine patterns. Each pattern is entwined with the others. It’s like an intricate Celtic knot. In fact, those knots are based on the interpersonal patterns. There are a few among us who can see them and they know how we’re all connected.”

“Please, don’t tell me that’s another of my jobs,” Brian whined. “I’ve got enough.”

“No, but it’s in your family.” He pushed off from the wall, starting up the stairs. “Your father sees them.” He trotted up the stairs.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 8

the-man-who-wasnt-thereAt the meeting, Brian bemoans the fact that he’s the Dreamer, and wishes he could simply be normal. All the others tell him of the challenges they face. No one tries to belittle his feelings, they simply want to let him know that he’s not alone.

Brian nodded. “Thanks, Andre. That helps.”

They talked long into the night. Jackie brought out a few books and Heath got his laptop. The adults were engrossed in their research, so the teens took the younger children inside and got them set up with a movie and snacks. Once the movie was over, the host families and their charges went home, leaving the teenagers at Jordan’s house.

Jordan’s mother took Elise and Maribelle home. Janus rode with them and stayed when Jackie returned. The teenagers brought the books and laptops to the basement, continuing the research. Their findings were extensive, but nothing confirmed or refuted doing the ritual naked.

“I’m at least wearing a tube sock,” Brian said defiantly after their parents went upstairs. “I’m not freezing my nuts off just because Marissa says so.”

“Lighten up,” Chase said. “It’s not her saying it, she’s just delivering the message. She doesn’t wanna see your junk any more than I do. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that no one, besides you and possibly Jordan, have any interest in seeing you in the buff.”

Jordan hit him squarely in the face with a throw pillow. “Excuse me? Do I poke my pert little nose into your wants and desires? Is it your business if I want to see Brian naked, or not?” She hit him again.

Andre chuckled, pressing his lips together. He glanced away from Jordan, shoulders shaking. He felt a cold shiver run down his spine, like icy fingers walked on his skin. It took a second to realize that something cold was walking up and down his back. Jumping up, he swatted at his jacket, yanking it off. His shirt followed, scattering frosty icicles.

“Get ’em off me!” he screeched. “What the hell, Jordan!”

“Do I tell your secrets?” Jordan asked, eyes narrowed. “No. So keep your snickers and snorts to yourself. I read auras too, Mr. Beauchamps. Don’t you forget that.”

Andre shook out his shirt and put it back on. His jacket lay on the floor with a few fallen icicles on it. Louisa shook it out and handed it to him, but he wouldn’t put it back on.

“Sorry,” he muttered. “Occupational hazard.”

“Watch it, or the next time it’s fire. In you pants.”

Louisa giggled, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “Already got that, don’t you, baby?” She and Andre were the two oldest in the group. They had been together for several years. Now that they were in college, they were living together. She kissed him in a loving, lingering way.

“No more!” Chase commanded. “Those of us not as lucky as our friend here, would prefer you keep your lust to yourself.”

“You’ll be here in time,” Louisa said, leaning her head on Andre’s arm. “It’s not like I gave into Dre’s charm right away.”

“No, she made me suffer,” he confirmed.

“I wonder why this whole destined to be together thing,” Ginnifer said, rather acidly. “It’s not like I’d ever have chosen Sweet in a million years.”

“Ditto,” he replied acerbically.

No one had really paid attention to the fact they weren’t sitting next to each other. They often sat apart, but there was more in the air than usual. Obviously both angry, they wouldn’t even look at one another.

“Y’all need to lighten up,” Andre said. “This isn’t doing anyone any good. I know you’re pissed off about all this, Sweet, but Gin’s your woman. Suck it up and accept it, man.”

“You can say that, Mr. Happy Pants. Some of us ain’t so happy.”

“Don’t you dare, Sweet! Don’t you sit there and tell our personal business! I’ll kill you!” Flames shot from Ginnifer’s fingers, narrowly missing Andre, who sat next to her.

Louisa leaned back and the flames hit Sweet’s arm. They climbed up from his elbow to his shoulder. He summoned water and put them out.

“Enough!” Brian bellowed. “Are you f**king kidding? Stow it, Marissa,” he said before she even spoke up. “We’re facing who knows what and we’re squabbling with one another because we’re not happy with the fact we’re destined to marry someone we aren’t sure we even like? Jesus!” Another glare at Marissa quelled her before she could protest. “You think any of us are happy about having no choice? Not that I’m unhappy with Jordan, cause she’s awesome, but I would have liked the illusion that it was my idea. You’re pissed off—why? She won’t put out? He’s being a douche? What? Let’s get this aired out, because we need all of you for this ritual. And since I’m the one whose dong is on display, I’d just as soon know it’s going to run smoothly.”

Sweet shook his head, shrugging his shoulders.

“I think he’s kinky,” Ginnifer supplied. She stared at Brian, cheeks flaming.

“And how do you respond to that?” Jordan directed at Sweet. “Are you kinky?”

“No! Wanting to make love to my girlfriend, is that kinky?”

“Depends on how, dude,” Andre replied. He was the oldest and had more experience than the others. Sweet and Ginnifer were next, both nineteen.

Brian was glad to turn the focus of the discussion on Andre. He had no experience at all and he had no answers. He dearly hoped Andre did.

Sweet wouldn’t look up. He sat on the floor with his head down, arms propped on his knees. “It’s not kinky,” he whined.

Ginnifer shuddered and told them what she objected to.

Louisa threw back her head, laughing. “You think that’s kinky? Girl! Let him!”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes 

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Aleigha, Andy and William

TODAY from 4-6 pm Eastern, on Dellani’s Tea Time, Dellani and Christina will chat with three fascinating authors. 

william beck

They will welcome back a favorite guest, political thriller author, William Beck – Crosscurrents, Solemn Vow, Red 7 among others.


Also along for the ride, Aleigha Siron, author of the historical romance, Finding My Highlander

Andy Peloquin

Last, but by no means least, dark fantasy author, Andy Peloquin – Blade of the Destroyer, Child of the Night Guild, Gateway to the Past and others.

Listen Live or Catch the Recording at Your Convenience!


The Man Who Wasn’t There – Part 7

the-man-who-wasnt-thereAfter Marissa announces that Brian has to dance naked to summon the Peddler, the teens and their parents, organize a meeting of the Circle members so they can discuss the ritual and make plans.

They carried the platters outside. Chase’s parents had just arrived and Cliff joined their fathers on the screened lanai. Chase’s younger sisters, Katie and Lucy, went to play with the baby. The boys were heading back to the kitchen when Marissa’s family knocked. They were just greeting the boys when the first of the Louisiana contingent arrived. Andre and his parents came up the sidewalk with his girlfriend, Louisa. Sweet and his parents pulled up seconds later. Louisa’s parents drove up at the same time as Ginnifer and her mother and father.

Each of them had brothers and sisters, all of whom were younger. They joined Chase’s sisters in the yard. They fussed over the baby, taking turns carrying her. Brian didn’t have to make good on the bath offer. Louisa and Ginnifer did it for him. They kept the baby off the ground afterward, so she didn’t need another one.

Once dinner was ready, they took places at the long tables the men had set up in the backyard. The dogs lay down at the head and foot of the assembly, alert and happy, hoping for scraps. Dishes passed around the table as everyone took what they wanted. Laughter and happy chatter filled the air. Although they had come together for a serious reason, none of them wanted to miss out on catching up and enjoying each other’s company.

“I feel happiest when I’m with all of you,” Maribelle declared. “This is the best group of people I know.”

“I agree,” Miles said. “Which makes our reason for being here the more serious.”

“Wait, you know what this is about?” Brian asked.

“Sure, son. We talked this over with the Barretts a couple days ago. We just hadn’t set a date until Jordan called and said we needed to meet tonight. Now, what’s up? I hear that Marissa had something to tell us.

She blushed a fiery red when all eyes turned on her. Jordan opened her mouth to take over, but Marissa shook her head.

“I’ve got this.” She squared her shoulders, sitting up straighter. “I’m not the Dreamer,” her eyes flickered over to Brian. “But I get things. Flashes and images, mostly. Sometimes I hear a voice.” She gestured vaguely to her right ear. “Anyway, we were talking today about the Harvest Ball and the witch trials in 1713. And—the Peddler.”

Finding it hard to continue, she ducked her head. “Anyway,” she muttered toward her chest. “I got this—impression—I guess you’d call it. I know we have to summon him to help us. And it has to be Brian. And he has to dance….” She couldn’t make herself say the words.

“Naked,” Brian blurted. “And I want to know if that’s accurate. And I want to know why me? And, more importantly, why naked?” he asked loudly. Angry and embarrassed, he found control difficult. The tables shook slightly, the earth trembling under them.

“Son,” Miles Casey said gently. “We’ll figure this out. Some of our older rituals had to be conducted in the nude.”

“Why? Can’t I at least wear a loin cloth? Cause I don’t want—everything—on display.” He gestured vaguely in the area of his zipper.

“I’ll do some checking.” Miles Casey thought it prudent to hide the smirk he felt twitching his lips.

“But why Brian?” Jordan asked. “Couldn’t any of us perform the same ritual and have the same result?”

Cliff Finley shook his head. “I’d have to do some research, but I’m pretty sure it has to be him. A variety of reasons, not the least of which is, he’s the Dreamer.”

Brian rolled his eyes, putting his head on the table, nearly in his plate. “Did I mention that I really hate being the Dreamer? That I hate all of this? Why can’t I just be some normal, stupid teenager who makes mistakes and decisions that don’t involve people getting killed—or buried alive—or dancing naked?”

He felt a touch on his hand and calming assurance filled him. He sat up to see his baby sister. She leaned from Jordan’s arms. Her little spit covered hand wrapped around his finger as her dark brown eyes met his. Sometimes, she seemed so much older than six months. She reached for him and he took her, holding her close. Her hands embraced his face and she put her forehead next to his. Closing his eyes, joy filled him, shoving aside the scary thoughts. He knew that he could do whatever was needed. He had the best family and friends in the world. He could handle it—even if it meant dancing naked.

“None of us wanted this,” Dr. Beauchamps, Andre’s father said softly. “Each of us fought against it, denying our powers, wishing for someone else to take the burden. None of us had to face what you’ve faced, Brian. No one else at this table knows exactly what you’re going through because none of us have been in your shoes. I know it isn’t easy—we all do. We fight our inner battles every day just to keep going, trying to act normal. I am telepathic, you know. If I allow myself, I can read the minds of every person here. It takes unimaginable control to keep all your voices away.”

“I have visions,” Marissa admitted. “And I’m not exactly telepathic, but I get flashes of images and I see things about people. I know when they’re good at heart or when they’re mean. I can also tell when they’re sick or in pain. That’s why I’m learning to heal.”

Andre cleared his throat. “I see auras, like Jackie. And I feel strong vibrations of emotions. I can tell what y’all are thinkin’ without you sayin’ a word. Like Marissa, I know sickness, as well as every emotional combination there is. Hearing voices would be worse, but this is disconcerting enough. We aren’t trying to belittle what you’re feeling, Brian. We’re telling you that we know what you’re going through. Our challenges are different, but no less annoying and painful.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Music Behind the Story from First Love by Dellani

Historical Novels by Dellani Oakes

music-behind-the-storyA few weeks ago, I shared Music Behind Under the Western Sky, set in 1976. This isn’t my only story set in that same time period, though First Love isn’t published yet. The Seventies were an era of great music, no doubt about it. We had bands like Carlos Santana, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Gary Wright. Fantastic songs filled the airwaves and my characters, like me and my friends, listened to each new song with enthusiasm.

I did a lot of research so that I would have the right songs for the year. Though I lived through this era, my memory for when each song came out, was kind of faulty. I enjoyed revisiting songs from my past and now sharing them with you. One of the first songs mentioned is Love is Alive by Gary Wright. No visit to the Seventies would be complete without Stairway to…

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