Archive | March 2018

When Tis Done – Part 46

When Tis Done coverAfter Brian leaves, Neil feels a strange vibe in the air. As he closes up the house for the night, he sprinkles holy water. Still not satisfied, he gets out the blessed salt and cumin, lining the doors and windows with it. Cynthia feels a little odd, too, so she’s just as glad to see him doing it.

Snuggling up against Neil, Cynthia fell asleep. He lay in bed, listening to the night, exploring the noises. They may not be entirely familiar anymore, but he remembered the sound of the woods, the trickle of the stream behind the house, the wind in the trees, the scattering of leaves and pine straw. The clack of heels on the wooden deck….

That wasn’t an ordinary outdoors sound. That was a typically human sound. The clack was followed by something dragging and clumping. Suddenly alert, Neil eased away from Cynthia, reaching into the drawer by the bed, for his handgun. He’d learned early to bless his bullets and packed his own shells, with a special blend in the powder. Each of his weapons was cleaned with gun oil he’d had blessed by a priest. Some folks thought it was superstitious, but he’d seen weird things in the desert. Since it worked for him and kept his buddies alive, he continued the practice in civilian life. He wasn’t taking chances with their safety.

The footsteps clumped around outside, stopping from time to time. He could tell that whatever it was, was looking for a weakness in the defenses. Neil hoped that the salt and holy water would do the trick. He’d reset the wards around the property when he moved in with Cynthia. They should have repelled whatever this was, meaning this wasn’t the usual something. Meaning, it was either very different, or very powerful. Or both. Neil heard rattling across the deck, like furniture being dragged. He tried to see out the window, but the angle was wrong. The noises finally died away, drifting into the night and Neil went back to bed. He’d just lain down when he heard an unearthly screech that echoed several seconds before it was repeated. Sitting up in bed, he yelped, waking Cynthia.

“What’s wrong, baby?”

The sound repeated.

“What’s that?”

She listened as it sounded once more.

“Oh, honey, that’s just a fox. You must have heard them a million times before. They’re all over the place.”

“A fox? That’s not a fox, that’s—that’s hell screaming.”

Cynthia patted him on the knee, curling against his side, pulling him down next to her. “Why do you think the Irish thought they were banshees? It’s all right, sugar. Go to sleep.”

It took a very long time for Neil to relax and sleep. The fox continued for nearly an hour. Every time he thought it had wandered off, it screeched and barked again. The clomping didn’t return, but the animal noises seemed louder than usual. Not only the fox, but the old hoot owl that had its home not far from the tree house, was in rare form. Neil hardly slept, finally dozing off around dawn, when the animals took to their homes once more.

Cynthia let Neil sleep in. She knew he’d kept an uneasy night. Hers had been slightly better, but she was familiar with the nightly noises. Sometimes, for whatever reason, the activity increased. She wasn’t troubled by it. She got up and went downstairs to fix coffee and a bagel. What she saw on the deck outside the kitchen made her gasp. Stifling a scream, she approached with caution. Some time during the night, someone had taken all the heavy deck furniture and piled it up in a bizarre configuration that reminded her of something archaic and troubling. She couldn’t put her finger on it, couldn’t give it a name, but it bothered her. Her first impulse was to go out and move things back, but she knew that Neil and the members of their Circle needed to see it.

“And Brian,” she whispered.

This was a message, but who it was from and who it was for, she didn’t know. She took pictures of it before closing the drapes across the unsettling sight. Hands shaking, she prepared her breakfast and sat in the dining room to eat. She generally ate in the sunny kitchen, but its cheerfulness seemed dimmed by the unwieldy grotesque on her deck.

“Cindy Lou?” Neil called from the kitchen.

“In here,” she called back.

“What’s going on, baby? Why are you in here?”

Neil saw Cynthia’s pale, drawn face and stopped in his tracks.

“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?” He dropped at her side, examining her carefully.

Leading him to the kitchen, she pointed to the drapes. Neil opened them and Cynthia turned her back on the display. Neil’s sharp intake of breath told her he knew it was significant, too. He exhaled slowly, his breath shivering somewhat.

“Well, that explains what I heard during the night.”

“What is it?”

“I can’t remember what it’s called, but it looks rather like a gibbet, for executions, to me.”

“What do you suppose it means?”

“I think it means shit’s gonna hit sooner than later.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Red River Radio Presents What’s Write for Me with Andy, Dominic and Josh

red river radio logo

WEDNESDAY, March 28 4-6 PM EDT on Blog Talk Radio

It’s officially SPRING and our hopes turn to warmer weather and sunshine. Just in case that doesn’t pan out for you, our three guests have plenty of books to read. Two are returning guests, and the other is brand new.

Dominic Carrillo

New to the show is Dominic Carrillo, author of YA novels The UNusual Suspects, The Improbable Rise of Paco Jones, and To Be Frank Diego. Dominic will chat with us from 4:00 to 4:40.

Andy Peloquin

Please welcome back Andy Peloquin, award winning, dark fantasy author of The Queen of Thieves Series. Andy will chat with us from 4:40 to 5:20. 


Also returning is Joshua Robertson, dark fantasy author of The Blood of Dragons Series, Thrice Nine Legends Saga, The Hawkhurst Saga. Josh will chat with us from 5:20 to 6:00 

Be sure to tune in for the show. I know it’s going to be loads of fun.

When Tis Done – Part 45

When Tis Done coverAfter leaving Jordan’s house, Brian goes to talk to Neil. Cynthia calls to let his parents know where he is, so they won’t worry, then leaves the men alone to talk. Brian tells Neil all about Jian, and they talk about Brian’s supernatural battles, and Neil’s experiences in the war.

“And I can’t imagine what you’ve been through. You aren’t a soldier in the same sense, but you’re a warrior. You’ve battled death and survived. You’re a hero, even if no one knows it. You won’t get a medal, no one will throw you a parade, but you impress the hell outta me, kid.”

Brian’s head snapped up. Staring with disbelief, he examined Neil’s face and knew that he was telling the truth.

“Funny, I was thinking the same thing about you.”

They shared a smile.

“Would you give this up, if you had the chance? I don’t mean now, I mean before. If you’d been given the choice. If someone had come up and said, Neil, we want you to do this job. Would you?”

“I’m not sure. The difference between us is that I grew up knowing. Had I been approached without that knowledge? I’d tell them to shove it and give it to someone else. This isn’t a job someone in their right mind wants. But I never professed to being in my right mind.” He chuckled.

“All things being equal, I couldn’t ignore it. I say I would, that I want a normal life, but what’s normal? Not this, obviously, but if we don’t do what we do, other people can’t go on living their oblivious lives. I’d want to turn it down, but I wouldn’t. Like I didn’t say no when the Powers That Be told me I’m the Voice. I didn’t like being the Dreamer, but I accepted it. I’m not crazy about being in charge of my Circle, but someone has to do it. Right now, the best person for the job is me. But I tell ya what, Neil, if I could give back one of the jobs, I would.”

“No one is equipped fully for this, Brian. We do our best, we muddle through and we lean on one another. I’m here, anytime you need to vent, I’ll listen. I’m fully equipped to discuss anything from alpha male tendencies to various sexual positions.”

Blushing, Brian ducked his head. “Well, when I get to that point, I’ll sure ask. I know how the parts fit, but that’s about all.”

“If you ever have any questions, don’t be embarrassed to ask. You might not be comfortable talking to your dad, but I’m not going to judge. None of us men are in a position to be judgmental, except Pennybaker.” He snorted. “But he’s been judging us all since we were kids. I’m not surprised his daughter’s difficult. I never met such a self-centered son-of-a-bitch. And having met his mama, that’s pretty damn apt. There’s one in every bunch. For me, it’s him. For you, it’s his daughter.”

“Did your dad have to deal with Marissa’s grandparents?”

“Her grandmother’s contentious, but otherwise they’re both fairly mellow. The one who gave him the most trouble was your grandfather.”

Brian laughed, tossing back his head. “Which one?”


“Figures. Man’s been causing trouble all his life. I’m told I take after him.”

“I haven’t met him, but I’ve heard a lot about him. If you’re half the man he is, well, you’re man enough to be alpha male. Don’t get all arrogant with this Jian guy, but don’t back down. Be polite, stick up for yourself, but don’t initiate anything. And above all, don’t let the little squirt push your buttons, cause he’s gonna try—hard. Laugh at him. It will piss him off faster than anything.”

“Kill him with kindness?”

“Wouldn’t go that far.”

“The killing or the kindness?”


Brian stayed a little longer, then headed home. Neil watched him drive away, until he was out of sight. The night seemed like it was waiting for something and he didn’t like it. He did up the doors, checking the windows as he made the rounds of the house and set the alarm for the night. Still feeling vulnerable, he took the holy water and scattered it as he went. Only partially satisfied, he tried to put the concern aside. He’d been living on military bases for twenty years. Much of that time was spent in the desert, surrounded by people, devoid of vegetation. He wasn’t used to the quiet and the encroaching trees. Sometimes, it felt as if the woods were closing in, listening to every move he made. Tonight was one of those nights. On impulse, he got the blessed salt with cumin and scattered it in front of the doors and on the window sills. He wasn’t satisfied until he’d also lined the door to the basement and shoved a chair under the knob.

Upstairs, he found Cynthia waiting for him. She was dressed in a slinky nightgown that he soon divested her of, tossing it in the corner. His shirt went next, followed by his jeans. Their lovemaking was playful and fun, but he still felt odd. After a quick shower, he scattered more salt on the window sills. Cynthia didn’t stop him. If he felt better after doing that, it didn’t matter. The truth was, she was feeling a little strange, too. It could have been the vibe coming from Neil, or it might have been more. She wasn’t sure. Whatever the cause, she wasn’t averse to a little salt scattered around.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

When Tis Done – Part 44

When Tis Done coverBrian and Jordan are talking with Heath about what happened with Jian, when he happens to call Jordan my woman. She takes offense and gets angry with him. Having had enough confrontation, he walks out and heads home, just as his parents are arriving.

“Honey, that was harsh,” Heath said as he watched Brian leave.

“What? You think I’m his possession, too?”

“That isn’t what he meant. You’re promised. And even if you weren’t, he’s crazy about you.”

“But he’s all about owning me! That’s not the first time he’s said it.”

Her father hugged her, kissing her on top of the head. “You have to understand how a man thinks. It’s not ownership, but love that makes him talk like that. You own that boy, body and soul. Think about that before you take offense.” He went to the door to greet Miles and Maribelle.

“Was that my only son who just ran past like his tail was on fire?” Miles asked, giving Jackie a hug.

“It sure was. He’s had a bit of a day,” Jackie replied. “Tender ego day,” she murmured to Miles.

He nodded, taking his daughter from Jackie. The toddler cuddled up on her father’s shoulder, nearly asleep. They bid good night and headed home. Brian wasn’t there. Maribelle was worried until she got a call from Cynthia.

“Brian’s here talking to Neil. He’s pretty upset, so I thought I’d better let you know where he is.”

“Is something wrong?” Maribelle asked.

“Nothing that not being seventeen won’t fix.”

Maribelle laughed. “Thanks for letting me know. I’ll leave the lights on for him. We’re turning in early.”

“I’ll tell him. Goodnight.”


Neil offered Brian a beer. Normally, he wouldn’t have, but he could see the same swirling red that David had seen. Brian was in turmoil, and he was worried about him. Brian declined the beer, but did take the herb tea that Cynthia gave him. She’d made her own blend, using things that would help him calm down. Once she’d served it, she went upstairs, leaving the men alone.

“So, talk,” Neil said. “This is a judgment free zone.” He settled back on the couch, relaxed and open.

Brian hunched over his cup, warming his hands. “Am I doing anything right? I told my best friend that I’d split up him and his girlfriend, if they don’t work out their problems. How’s that nice?”

Neil didn’t reply. He sensed that Brian needed to vent. He let the boy speak.

“And she’s really pissed! I’ve seen Marissa mad, but wow. And she’s yelling at me instead of talking to Chase, which is what she needs to do. I’m not in that dysfunctional equation.” He held up one hand, waving something away. “Then—then I meet this new guy at debate who’s a complete tool!” He explained what happened with Jian in great detail.

“Sounds like you threatened his mojo,” Neil said calmly. “Guys like that, they wanna show they’re boss.”

“I don’t care if he’s boss, that’s the thing. I don’t give a shit.”

“See, with a kid like that, it’s a matter of mileage.”

Brian shook his head, waiting.

“Mileage,” Neil said, dropping his hand to his zipper, extending it into the air in front of him.

“Oooh,” Brian finally caught on. “Yeah. A dick swinging contest.”

“Exactly. He wants to win, but you’re a big guy. He figures, all things proportional, yours is bigger.”

Brian laughed, shaking his head. “I’m sure that’s metaphorical somehow.”

Neil shook his head. “Nope. Pure and simple, who’s got the bigger dick. He’s probably used to being the alpha.”

“That’s what he called me.”

“Well, kid, you are.”

“Maybe in the Circle, not anywhere else. I’m not the star quarterback MVP. I’m just a smart kid who likes to debate.”

“Who happens to have defeated evil a time or two. That sort of experience shows. People pick up on it. Doesn’t matter how big you are, how smart, how strong or how big your schlong is, folks feel that energy. I’ve met a lot of guys like that—big and small. They’ve lived through hell and you can tell just by being near them.”

“You’ve been through your own hell, Neil,” Brian said quietly. “I would never mention it, but….”

“I brought it up. It’s okay. I don’t mind talking about it.”

“I can’t even imagine what you’ve seen. But it’s in your eyes and written on your soul.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books




you won”t be able to put it down
July 23, 2016 – Published on

I can honestly say there has not been one book written that I haven’t liked by the author and this one is no different. Marice Houston is in town for a college reunion. A lot will happen, shots will be fired, people will be hurt or killed and love will bloom. You can guarantee it will not be boring.
With her usual quick and witty dialogue, and amazing talent for weaving a suspenseful tale, Ms Oakes has hit home with a bang. Through in a few twists and a steaming romance she has created a recipe of fantastic reading which will have the reader wanting seconds. I am definitely giving Room 103 5 stars for great writing and characters you will love.

room 103


View original post

When Tis Done – Part 43

When Tis Done coverAt Jordan’s house, they talk about the encounter with the Fēngs. He tells her that Jian was interested in her, in a more than friendly way. After dinner, they sit down to study Jordan’s math and she tells him that her brothers are coming for Thanksgiving.

“It will be good to see everyone. I like your family. They’re really wonderful people.”

“Thank you. We like to think so. Of course, Jenna will prepare turkey for those of us who like to partake. Mom allows meat at three meals: Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Otherwise, strictly vegetarian.”

“Yeah, I know. But she’s still a hell of a cook.” He held Jordan’s chair for her before sitting down. She used to protest that, but the rug made the heavy chairs hard to scoot in. “So, do you think you’ll stick with that when we’re married? Are we going to be a vegetarian household?”

“Do you want to be?”

“Not at all. Just, I concede to the woman who can cook.”

“You think I’m fixing all the meals?” She bridled, half rising from her chair.

Brian held out his hands as if she had a gun on him. “We’ve eaten my cooking. Passably edible. We’ve also sampled yours, far better. I’ll help you in any way you want, but if we rely on my powers of preparation, we’ll eat a lot of mac and cheese or hot dogs.”

“Well, when you put it that way. A healthy blend. I like variety.”

“So do I.”

Heath came in a few minutes later, smiling. He kissed his wife and daughter and picked up Elise. She grabbed his lips, pulling at his mouth. He laughed awkwardly as Jackie loosened the baby’s fingers.

“Kid’s got a hell of a grip,” Heath said, giving Elise a kiss and snuggle. “Don’t you, little miss?” He tossed the toddler in the air, catching her deftly.

Jackie gasped, scolding.

“I did this with every one of our kids. They all survived.”

“But she’s not ours!”

“Does she look hurt?” Heath said, holding the baby under his arm like a sack of potatoes.

Elise giggled, pulling at her toes so she curled around his arm. Jackie rolled her eyes and left him to play with the baby.

“Math tonight?” Heath asked from the hallway.

“Yep. I can tell that it’s going to kick my butt this year,” Jordan said. “Only a week in and I’m already lost.”

“Brian will help you, honey. You know that.”

“I should be able to do this on my own!”

“You can,” Brian assured her. “You just need the right mind set. Decide you’ll kick math’s ass, not the other way around.”

“Sss, sss, sss,” Elise said. “Aah-sss.”

“Oh, shit,” he muttered.

“Sh, sh, sh!” Elise added.

“Great. She’ll be the only toddler who can swear.” He put his hands over his mouth and concentrated on math for several minutes.

“Mom tells me you met some new friends,” Heath said, leaning against the dining room doorway.

“Not exactly friends,” Brian replied, scowling. “Well, Lien’s not so bad, but her brother’s a jerk. He told me I’m the alpha male and acted like I was trying to insult him.”

“Ooh,” Heath said, sitting across from them. “Did you strut around like a peacock?”

Brian sputtered. “I never strut. I walk.”

“There’s some strutting,” Jordan said, completely straight faced. “You get that broad shouldered, big guy walk. All legs and swinging arms.” She got up, doing an exaggerated imitation of a tall man walking.

“I don’t!” It took a moment to realize they were teasing him. “Oh, funny. I have long legs. Am I supposed to take little baby steps?” He made walking motions with his fingers.

“You do have an air of command around you, Brian,” Heath said in all seriousness. “You’ve been through a lot. That’s bound to show. Some men, they don’t take that well. They want to be number one.”

“Let him be. I don’t care. I don’t have time for his petty posturing.”

“Alpha isn’t something you give away, it’s earned or taken,” Heath explained. “Did you challenge him?”

“Not at first, but when he eyed Jordan like his next good meal, I did. Don’t look at my woman like that, I’ll take you apart!”

Your woman?” Jordan bridled. “I’m your possession now?”

“Oh, jeez! Not you too!” He slammed the book closed, standing abruptly. Grabbing his keys and phone, he stalked out of the house as his parents were pulling up. He didn’t even stop to say hello, merely jumped off the porch, got in his car and left.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

When Tis Done – Part 42

When Tis Done coverJordan invited the new students to go for ice cream, but it went badly. Jian is decidedly interested in Jordan, and Brian wasn’t happy about that. When Jian grabs his sister’s hand in a painful grip, Jordan steps in, doing the same thing to him. Later, she and Brian are talking about the incident.

“Because she’s scared of something. And because he’s a jerk. I’m not sure he’s the one she’s afraid of—entirely. There’s a shadow around her. Didn’t you see it?”

Brian shook his head. “I was too busy being battered by Jian’s bad vibes. We had a moment when he told me about his father’s pottery business, then he focused on you and asked if you had a sister who liked Asians.”

“Is that what you got so angry about?”

“You didn’t see the look on his face. Like he wanted to eat you, in a totally non-cannibalistic way.”

“Oh, my God. Ew! Seriously!”

“He practically licked his lips. I wanted to clock him. But he’s been an ass since I met him. Second I walked in the room, he took offense and nothing I said made any difference. He’s all about challenging.”

“You’re a very confident man, Brian,” Jackie said from the doorway. “You have an aura about you of strength and power. If he’s at all sensitive, he’d feel that. To some men, that’s a challenge of itself. It wouldn’t matter what you did or said, it would be seen as a threat.”

“Well, I’m sure he’s just wild about me,” Jordan said. “Since I nearly broke his hand.”

Brian pressed his lips tightly together, meeting Jackie’s knowing glance. “Actually.” He cleared his throat sharply. “I think it turned him on.”

“Oh, yuck! Guys are so weird! Would that excite you?”

Ears burning, he turned his head aside. Jackie smirked.

“Honey, how do you suppose he knew?”

“Oh, my god, Brian. Seriously?” She punched him in the chest.

“Strong women are my weakness,” he admitted. “I always had the hots for Wonder Woman.”

“You’re freaking weird. I want you to know that.” She smacked him again.

He shrugged, smiling. “I’m a guy. Sue me.”

“Honey, stop hitting the boy.”

Jordan paused, her hand halfway to Brian. Blushing furiously, she hopped up and ran to the small bathroom under the stairs. Strange sounds came from inside. Brian couldn’t tell for sure, but he thought she was giggling.

“Yeah, laugh at my pain,” he mumbled, adjusting his jeans.

“This is awkward for her, too,” Jackie said quietly. “In many ways, she’s still a little girl. She isn’t used to a man’s interest.”

Brian nodded, swallowing hard. “Excuse me.” He walked out to the front porch and sat on the swing.

Jackie let him go, watching to be sure he was safe. She knew he could defend himself, but she still worried. Part of that was normal motherly concern, the rest was very real fear for his safety. Something in the atmosphere had become super charged in the last few hours. From what she could tell, it coincided with Brian meeting Jian and Lien. She hoped she was wrong, that it was some coincidence, but she’d given up believing in those decades ago.

Dinner was delicious, but conversation was somewhat subdued. Brian, as always, helped clean up afterward, thanking Jackie politely for the meal. Heath still wasn’t home, but they’d been told he was working with Neil.

“Your folks should be back soon. Do you want to take Elise home?”

“I don’t have a carseat at the moment. She did a nuclear poop in it and I had to wash it out. Forgot to put it back in.”

“Okay. Do you want to stick around until they get here?”

“Yeah. I don’t feel like going home to an empty house tonight.”

“I could use more math help,” Jordan hinted.

“Babe, you need more than just math help, but I’m not here to criticize.”

Jordan raised her fist to punch him, but rethought that action. Instead, she scurried ahead and got out the paper and math book.

Her father had converted the formal dining room to a study space and office, with Brian’s help. It was a blend of antique furniture and high tech equipment that was very comforting and welcoming. With the exception of the crystal room, this was Brian’s favorite spot in the Barrett house. The walls were a creamy yellow above and dark wood wainscoting below. The floor was red oak, covered with a Persian style carpet that picked up the warm browns and yellows of the room, adding brilliant red, blue and green to the mix. The walls were covered with family portraits going back to when Jordan was a little girl. Her brothers were in their teens and she was in elementary school. Brian loved to see all their faces smiling at him.

“Scott and Ryan are coming for Thanksgiving,” Jordan said, standing at his elbow. “Ben can’t make it this year. He’s going to be in Japan on unavoidable business, but his wife and their kids are coming.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Christine, Kevin and Scott

red river radio logoTune in for Dellani’s Tea Time TODAY, March 12 4-6 PM Eastern time on Blog Talk Radio

It’s March already! Our minds focus on green shamrocks, the Easter Bunny and multi-hued eggs. However, this month’s guests don’t focus on any of that. The closest we get to the Easter Bunny is a warm and fuzzy wolf. The only eggs are those of a dragon, and I don’t see shamrocks anywhere, so you’re gonna be disappointed if you’re looking for a spring party.

If you’re looking for all things futuristic and fantasy, then my guests have you covered! Join me in welcoming my three, sparkling new guests to this week’s show.

Christine Gorri

First, please welcome CD Gorri. She is a fantasy author whose books include Wolf Moon, Charley’s Christmas Wolf, and The Dragon’s Valentine.

Kevin G Daniel KG Bethlehem

Next is KG Bethlehem, the author of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Dystopian novels, including Avenging Knights, Astronomical, and The Forever Spring.

Scott Moses

Finally, is Scott Moses, the author of the futuristic thriller Between Truth and Eternity. He is currently working on Fools of Parody, due for release in June.

Join us for a fantasy filled chat!

When Tis Done – Part 41

When Tis Done coverJordan meets the Fēngs and invites them to go get ice cream. She takes Lien around, leaving Jian and Brian together. The two boys aren’t happy with one another’s company, but find that they have a little bit in common after all.

“I’d like to see his shop sometime,” Brian said, glad to have something to talk to the other boy about that wasn’t full of resentment.

“He is very secretive, but perhaps he can be persuaded.”

“I don’t want to invade his privacy. I’m simply interested. If I weren’t learning woodworking, I’d learn that. Just there weren’t any potters around until now.”

Jian flashed a quick smile. “I will speak to him.” He watched his sister with Jordan. “She is a very kind person,” he said, lifting his chin at Jordan. “Have you been dating long?”

“We’ve known one another two years, dating for just over one.” His smile softened as he watched her talking to Lien and some others. “There’s no one quite like Jordan.”

“You are in love with her?”

Brian blushed, ducking his head. “I guess it’s obvious, huh? Head over heels.”

“I don’t suppose she has a sister who likes Asians?” He smirked, his dark eyes watching Jordan with a hunger that Brian didn’t like.

“Only brothers,” he said sharply. “All older and very protective. I couldn’t tell ya how they feel about Asians. I never asked.”

“You don’t like me much,” Jian challenged.

“You haven’t exactly made yourself likable,” Brian countered. “I’m trying to be civil, but you aren’t even trying to be polite. So I’ll ask again, you have a problem with me, Fēng?” His voice was louder than he’d intended.

Jordan and Lien turned suddenly, drawn by the sound. Brian leaned back in his chair, arms folded across his broad chest, legs splayed, ready to leap to his feet. Jian was in a much more relaxed position, watching carefully, his dark eyes taking in details. A sly smile played at his lips and Brian knew he’d been tested and probably found wanting. Suddenly, Lien was at her brother’s side.

“Be nice!” She smacked his arm.

His grin turned into a grimace. Snatching her hand, he twisted, making her cry out. Jordan stepped up, taking his other hand in a similar hold, twisting sharply. Jian flinched, but didn’t make a sound. He released his sister.

“That shit might be okay where you come from,” Jordan said, increasing the pressure on his hand. “But here, that’s considered abuse and assault.”

“And what you are doing, is not?” his voice was tight with pain.

“I’m defending someone else. The police would see it as a public service.” She leaned closer. “They take domestic abuse very seriously here in Mississippi.”

Jian looked like he wanted to spit in her face. Instead, he jerked his hand away from her, standing quickly. “Come, Lien. Time to go home.”

Lien followed reluctantly, dragged from the building by her brother. Everyone watched them go and burst into chatter as soon as the door closed.

Who is that guy? What’s his problem? Were he and Brian going to fight? Did he really do that to his sister? Damn, Jordan rocks!

After much congratulations, Jordan and Brian went back to her house to study and have dinner. He was surprised to find his sister there with Jackie.

“Your folks had some things to do in Jackson today. Didn’t they tell you?”

“No. But I got up way before they did. Hey, Munchkin!” He lifted his sister, swinging her around.

Elise giggled, tipping out of his arms to see Jordan, then lunged once more at her brother. She used him like a jungle gym while he lay on the floor talking to Jackie and Jordan. They told her about the new students.

“What was with Jian?” Jordan asked. “He was being so weird!”

“He’s a conceited ass. He’s got the hots for you, by the way. If he comes near you….”

“I’ll put the creep in a headlock,” Jordan finished. “You don’t have to defend my honor.”

“Well, I want to. May I?”

“If it makes you happy,” she said, giving him a kiss. “But you don’t have to.”

“That’s the only problem with having a girlfriend who’s a bad ass,” he remarked to Jackie. “Can’t protect her.”

“You can still do it,” Jackie said. “A girl likes to know the man she loves will take care of her. And she can take care of you, too.”

“She’s good at that,” Brian said, his expression dreamy as he looked at Jordan.

Jackie picked up Elise, whisking her away to the kitchen. Jordan crawled over to where Brian lay. He propped himself on his elbows as she kissed him. Nothing but their lips touching, it was one of the best kisses, to date, that Brian had ever experienced. He felt his love for her flow from him and felt hers in return. Jordan rested her forehead on his, licking her lips with a smile.

“Why did you invite them along?” Brian murmured. “I mean, Lien, she’s nice enough. But Jian is a jerk.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

When Tis Done – Part 40

When Tis Done coverAfter school, Brian meets Jian and Lien Fēng at the debate club. Lien seems to like him, but Jian doesn’t. After the meeting is over, he confronts Jian to find out why the other boy is angry with him.

Jian’s lips twitched and a shy smile flickered. “My sister has a way of making friends instantly. She’s never met a stranger. Walk in a group like this, she’s everyone’s best friend when she leaves. She instinctively attaches herself to the alpha male.”

“And you think that’s me.”

Jian shrugged, shaking his head. “Aren’t you? You walk in like you own the room. Everyone listens when you speak.”

Brian was surprised. He’d never considered that before. He knew he’d changed from the shy freshman he was three years ago, but had no idea it was so much.

“Wasn’t my intention to offend,” he apologized, bowing slightly. “We’re all equal around here.”

“But some garner more respect than others.” Jian challenged, moving into Brian’s personal space.

Exasperated, Brian moved back half a step, stopping before he retreated too far. He wasn’t scared of this young man, and he didn’t want to give that impression. He was more afraid he’d lose his temper and hurt him.

“You think whatever you want, Fēng. You’re going to take offense to anything I say. Fine. I’m trying to be polite and welcome you to the team.”

“You are so sure of yourself, so cocky.”

“If my confidence offends you, you’re welcome to leave. I’m not keeping you here.” Brian spread his arms, taking a step forward, sending an unspoken challenge to the other boy.

Fēng Jian straightened, his dark eyes flashing dangerously. He took a step toward Brian, who held his ground.

“Brian, who’s your new friend?” Jordan said from behind him. “Hi, I’m Jordan Barrett, Brian’s better half. And you are?” She held out her hand to Jian, smiling and bubbly. It was an act, but a very good one. No doubt, Jian had no idea.

“Fēng Jian,” he replied, bowing over her hand. “A pleasure to meet you, Jordan Barrett.”

Lien walked over, smiling, angling for an introduction. Her brother did the honors. Brian was too annoyed to do the polite thing.

“Do you two know your way around?” Jordan asked. “Maybe you’d like to go out for ice cream?”

“Today?” Brian asked, hardly able to contain his irritation.

“Sure, why not?” Jordan asked. “Do you have a car? Do you need a ride?” she asked Jian.

“I have a car. I drive,” Jian replied with pride. “Lien hasn’t been taught.”

“Don’t feel bad,” Jordan said, taking Lien’s arm, propelling her toward the door. “I don’t get to drive either. Brian always drives.” She wrinkled her nose.

“But you know how?”

“Yes, Dad taught me. Mom is far too emotional to do something like that. She took me out once and I thought we were both going to die of a fit of vapors.” Giggling, she tipped her head at Brian. “You should see about signing up for driver’s ed.”

“I don’t have a permit and Papa won’t allow it.”

“Oh, well. Nice idea. You guys coming or not?” Jordan cast over her shoulder at Brian. “I hear a hot fudge sundae calling my name.”

The Fēngs’ car wasn’t far from Brian’s, so Jordan walked the entire way with Lien, leaving Brian with Jian. The two boys didn’t talk much, each quietly taking the measure of the other. Brian still couldn’t get a firm read off Jian, but he was pretty sure the other guy was used to being the alpha male, as he’d labeled Brian. That being the case, he was probably going to fight for the position all year. It wasn’t so much that Brian wanted the spot, he was annoyed that someone wanted to challenge him for something he cared so little about. It got his back up.

Jian followed them to the ice cream parlor where Jordan introduced Lien to everyone. Jian stood by, looking sullen and frustrated. Brian didn’t feel compelled to take him around. If Jordan wanted to, that was her prerogative. He ate his hot fudge sundae in silence, watching Jordan with Lien. He had no idea why she was so taken with the girl. She seemed nice enough….

“Do you work?” Jian asked rather abruptly.

“I work with a carpenter part time on weekends and pretty much full time during the summer. He wants me to apprentice with him when I graduate.”

“You will not go to college?”

“Yes, I will. But every man needs a trade, something to help support his family if things go to shit. People always need builders.”

Jian nodded. “That makes sense. My father is a craftsman. He makes pottery. Some is art, but he has contracts with many restaurants all over the world. He has been teaching me.”

“That’s a pretty cool trade,” Brian admitted. “Something about shaping earth that’s very satisfying.”

Jian’s expression changed to one of surprise. “Yes. He fires his pots in a pit or an outdoor oven, the old way. They have more character that way.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books