Archive | March 2019

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 55 by Dellani Oakes

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

Deirdre and Fred both shuddered. “Thanks for the compliment—I think. Only one woman gets in my pants, but better left unsaid.” He kissed his wife’s hand. “What about Wendy?” he asked gently. “When will her body be released?”

“Soon,” Vanessa said. “Do you still want to claim it?”

“Yes,” Deirdre said.

“We’ll all pitch in, give her a lovely send-off,” Teague said. “And I’ll hook you up with the best in the business, at a discount.”

“Another relative?”

“Yeah. We take care of friends and family. Y’all are both now. You’ve been officially adopted by the McTeague and McMurtry clans.”

Eoin brightened. “From County Donegal, to the north?”

“The very one,” Teague grinned. “Don’t tell me.”

“I’ve got a McTeague or two in my family tree.”

“No kidding? But none here in the US?”

“Not a one. Why?”

“Because, I’ve got some cousins who would love to meet you.”

“They’re gorgeous,” Jasper added. “You will not be disappointed.”

“How would they feel about dating a drag queen?” Eoin asked.

“Probably wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Aaron said. “They’re pretty hard to shock, too.”

The extra company left soon after, though Aaron stuck around. He was under orders to stay close for the next couple of days. No one minded. They had a large house and everyone enjoyed Aaron’s company.

Since Fred was home, Eoin decided to go to work. Friday night was the busiest of the week, and he not only head lined, he hosted. He was going to drive himself, but Aaron insisted upon taking him.

“I don’t want you to leave the family,” Eoin said as he shaved.

Aaron stood in the doorway, talking. “They’ll be covered. Jasper and Nadeya are coming over. They’re leaving Baby Ray with Teague’s wife. They’ll be here any minute, and they’re bringing dinner, so you can’t use that as an excuse. You’re getting an escort whether you want it or not.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Maybe, if you were in fighting trim. But they beat the shit out of you once, what makes you think they won’t do it again? And you’re still bruised. I’m going with you, that’s final.”

Bridling somewhat at the ultimatum, Eoin sighed. “Fine. You can come in and watch, if you like.”

“Thank you. I intended to. Glad we understand one another.” He patted Eoin on the shoulder and went to change.

True to their word, Nadeya and Jasper arrived with a huge meal, sent by Teague’s uncle.

“I’m good with guns, I don’t cook,” Nadeya said as she set things out. “You need a compound infiltrated, I’m your girl. Sniper in the church tower, I got ya covered. Whipping up an amazing meal for ten people, not my game.”

Deirdre laughed. “I love cooking for crowds, but not when I’m limping. I can shoot, and I mostly hit what I aim at, but I’m not the infiltrating sniper type. I think it’s cool that you are.”

“I think it’s cool that having a house full of drop-ins, doesn’t bother you.”

“You’re bringing food, I don’t care at all.” She paused, trying to find words to voice her fears. “You think something might happen tonight. To us, or to Eoin.”

“Not all of them stayed in jail. They’re rich and connected, and managed to pull the right strings. Word has filtered down, somehow, that there are people taking a stand, speaking up. We’ve got friends watching everyone, so please don’t worry.”

“Just saved the big guns for our besties,” Jasper said, snagging a carrot off the relish platter.

Nadeya whisked it away with one hand, twisting his fingers with the other. “Behave.”

“Ow….honey, ow. It’s just a carrot,” Jasper said, wincing when she let go.

“You need to teach me that,” Deirdre said. “It would come in handy at Thanksgiving.”

“Happy to.” She set the tray down and spent the next few minutes showing the move to Deirdre. “Works like a charm. You can do it with one or two hands—two is easier. Add a little more pressure and twist to it, you can break fingers like kindling.”

“Good to know. I hope I won’t have to use it.”

“Me too.”

The meal was finally ready, and they all sat down to eat the best barbecue they’d ever had in their lives. There was chicken, ribs and pulled pork. All the sides they could imagine, including a huge mixed salad. There was plenty left over for another meal, after they had all eaten. The men cleaned up while Nadeya and Deirdre settled in the living room.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 54 by Dellani Oakes

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

Scott took the phone and hung up. “I have to cuff you, but I’ll put them in front. Don’t make me regret that decision.”

“No, sir. Thank you.”

Scott tilted the camera so he was looking into it upside down. “We cool now, Aiden? Don’t answer, I can’t hear you.” He and Felix walked to a cruiser, and the boy was put in the back. Scott stood beside it, directing activities.

The last of the ring leaders were rounded up. Felix was the only student caught in the sting, but he was treated well and kept separate from the adults. He sat with Scott, telling him everything he knew.

“Is it over now?” Deidre asked as things wound down.

“Not entirely,” Vanessa explained. “These are some powerful people, who will pull strings and do their best to blame others. I expect Jim Butcher to be taking the brunt of this, not that I pity him. He probably deserves the worst he gets. But many of the guilty will do their best to wriggle free. Fortunately, the judges that will handle these cases, are kin, in one way or another, to Teague’s family. They’re the most honest people I know.”

“If they aren’t kin, they’re friends,” Teague added. “And many of the lawyers around and about. Most of the others won’t touch a scandal like this. It’s career suicide. They’ll have to pay lawyers from out of state.”

“Really?” Deirdre’s eyes got huge. “Your family influence is that great?”

“Yeah. Volusia County is where many of us call home, but we’re related to people all over the state. These folks don’t know the strings I can pull with a single phone call.”

“I’m in the presence of royalty,” Deirdre said with a smirk. “My family’s been around quite a while, but we came with the English.”

“We’re kin to the Spanish, Minorcans and Natives,” Teague said, looking proud.

There was a loud knock at the door. Suddenly alert, everyone waited while Teague went to the door and looked out. Laughing, he opened the door. Scott swaggered in, grinning and carrying a donut box.

“I bring donuts and coffee.”

“I don’t see coffee,” Teague said, blocking his way.

“That’s because my Boss is bringing it.”

A lovely woman with strawberry blonde hair stood behind him. Dressed in a pretty black dress, covered with butterflies, she walked in with a Box o’ Joe and a bag of sugar and creamer.

“This is my boss, Lieutenant Scott,” Vanessa said. “And the lovely lady with him is his wife, Cadence.” She made introductions all around.

Their midday victory party was interrupted by the front door banging open and shut. All eyes turned to the door.

“Dee!”

“That’s my husband,” Deirdre gasped. “In the kitchen,” she called, trying to get up.

Eoin helped her stand to greet her husband. Fred rushed to her, ignoring everyone else. Sweeping her into his arms, he hugged and kissed her.

“Oh, my love. Are you all right? You’re wearing a boot? What happened? And who are all these people? What the hell have I missed? What have you made your mother do?” He focused at last on his sons.

“It’s a long story, Dad,” Corin said. “Sit down, have some refreshments, and we’ll tell you.”

Their father took his seat and waited. Cadence served him coffee, Scott gave him some donuts. “Well?”

“It all started with the vultures,” Corin began.

“Oh, don’t,” Burl said. “Or we’ll be here all day.”

“I’ve got all day,” Fred replied. “But just one of you tell me, or I’ll go out of my f**king mind. After the week I’ve had, the level of violence would escalate, and we’ve got pregnant ladies present.”

“Spooky how this family can do that,” Vanessa said.

Aiden took the narrative, with help from Eoin and Deirdre. Fred focused on one after the other, too shocked to eat and drink.

“And all this shit was going on under our noses? What the ever loving f**k? I’m glad I didn’t join that stupid Private Golf Club. They were all after me to do it, Bigby and Mona Colfer. Why would she be so hell bent on it?”

“Mom’s hot,” Corin said with a wink. “And you’re buff. Maybe Mona wanted in your pants?”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 53 by Dellani Oakes

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

A brown haired Latina stood there looking expectant. Teague gave her a kiss, then kissed his son’s head. “My wife and son, whose name I can remember. Tobias Rambo McTeague. Vivica, my beautiful spouse, this is Deirdre. Her boys Aiden, Burl and Corin and their friend, Eoin.”

“Lovely to meet you. Jas, you’ll need to switch out the car seat.”

“I’m on it,” he said, trotting outside.

“Tell me what’s going on,” Deirdre said. “I love visitors, but I wasn’t expecting anyone.”

“Vanessa is coming up the driveway,” Aaron said after looking at his phone. “And she will explain.” He opened the door for his boss. She was carrying a box of croissants and donuts.

“Hi. Sorry for the landslide intrusion. They beat me here, as usual. They’re fast, or I’m slow. I assume you’ve been introduced? Good. Okay.” She set down the box. “Teague’s family has been around since God created the Earth. He’s kin to the best lawyers and judges in the state. They may not be rich….”

“Some of them are,” Teague interjected.

“Well, yes, but mostly they’re just folks. But very powerful, and connected, folks. We set the wheels in motion. The people responsible for this racket are being subsequently hunted down and arrested. Armed with Fonda and Inez’ reports, along with Eoin’s, and the picture evidence we got from Bullock’s computer, we’ve got enough to indict a large number of people today.”

“And you’re not there?” Teague said. “What’s wrong with you. This is a career maker!”

“Some things are more important than my career. Family.”

The boys were allowed to stay home. Deirdre didn’t want them in school where she couldn’t keep a watchful eye over them. They all sat down to eat, talking and getting to know one another. Aaron, Jasper and Vanessa all got a text at the same time. Go Time, from Scott.

Aaron had his computer open. It beeped and the screen filled with a split screen of six cameras. Each was obviously on a person, because they shook slightly as the person moved. There was scattered chatter, as the person with the camera, and others, approached a beautiful home. Someone knocked and rang the bell.

“Daytona PD,” the camera wearer said. He rang and knocked again.

A flustered, fat man opened the door in his silky black bathrobe.

“Richard Bigby, you’re under arrest for pandering, statutory rape….” The list went on.

Bigby looked stunned. Dressed only in his black robe, briefs and socks, he was taken to the car.

“One down,” Vanessa said with glee.

The other screens showed similar images of other people, men and women, being arrested and led to waiting cars. At one home, someone ran out the back, trying to pull up his pants. The camera wearer chased him down. The young man stopped, surrendering.

“I know him,” Aiden said. “He’s on golf team with me. Be gentle with that one. Can you tell them? He’s a good kid.”

Vanessa got on her phone and called. The man wearing the camera answered. The boy was cuffed, looking cowed and ready to cry.

“Yeah, Nessa.” It was Scott’s voice.

“Aiden says that boy is on golf team with him. Name?” She asked Aiden.

“Felix Newcomb. He’s a good kid, sixteen, tends to slice. He’s another foster kid.”

She relayed the information to Scott.

“Hey, kid. Is your name Felix?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You here under duress?”

“I don’t know what that means!” the boy sobbed. “I just wanna go home!”

“Duress means you were forced to be here. Did someone force you to be here?”

“Can I talk to him?” Aiden asked Vanessa.

“Sure. Scott, I’m putting Aiden on. Give the phone to the kid.”

Scott put the phone up the Felix’s ear.

“Lix, it’s Aiden. Listen, that cop is a good guy. He’s just trying to get the truth. Tell him everything you know, and he’ll take care for you. I’ll come see you as soon as they let me, okay?”

“Aiden? What’s going on, man?”

“Lieutenant Scott will explain. But it’s gonna be okay, dude. Just cooperate.”

“You’re sure?”

“Positive. When have I ever lied to you?”

“You lied about the ball buffer,” Felix said, taking a ragged breath.

“That’s hazing. Dumb ass joke. But when it mattered?”

“Never. You always tell the truth.”

“I do. Especially now.”

“Okay. Okay. Thanks, Aiden.”

“I got your back, kid.”

“Thanks.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 52 by Dellani Oakes

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

“You don’t think Aiden is what?” her eldest son said from the hallway behind her. He rubbed his eyes, flinching away from the light. Dimming it by the nearby switch, he walked into the room. “What?”

“Hiya, Aiden,” Vanessa’s voice came from the phone. “The parties with the Private Golf Club. Have you been invited to go?”

“Yes. But I never went. I mean, I like golf, but I’ve already got scholarships and money. I don’t need theirs. I figured to save it for kids who really want it. They’ve tried to recruit me. Wait a second, is that—is that how? Oh, Jesus!” He sat on the floor, face in his hands. “No wonder Fonda’s parents wouldn’t do anything! Her dad is nearly as big a pervert as Wendy’s. And Inez’ folks are both stupid, and mean.”

“How do you know this?” his mother asked.

“The girls talked to me, especially once I got the truth from Wendy. They knew that talking to me was safe. I wanted to go to the police, but what could I do? No one would believe me. Those people are the cream of society.”

“I’m listening,” Vanessa said.

“So am I,” Aaron added. “We may not be the cream, but we’re gonna whip ’em.”

Vanessa chuckled. “I just imagined going after Dickie with a wire whisk.”

Aaron laughed. “Thanks for that image, Ness. If I ever need a cock block.”

“Doing my civic duty. We may not be strong enough to take these folks on, but I know some people who are bigger and badder than Dickie Bigby will ever be. I have to make some phone calls. Later.”

“Who does she mean?” Deirdre asked as Aaron pocketed his phone.

“Vanessa has friends in low places.” He wouldn’t say any more.

It was time for the boys to go to school. Aaron was going to drive them. Eoin was staying with Deirdre, and there was another police officer due any second. There was a tap a the door and they were all immediately alert. Aaron pointed to the office and Deirdre, with the help of her boys, went in. They stayed with her.

Aaron, weapon drawn, checked the peephole, frowning. The person on the porch wasn’t the one he was expecting. Turned away from the door, he faced the driveway, apparently waiting. He turned to tap the door again, and Aaron relaxed. Opening the door, he greeted the man.

“Teague. Dude, I didn’t know you were coming.”

“Vanessa hasn’t called?”

Aaron’s phone rang. “Vanessa,” he said with a grin. “He’s here,” he said when he answered.

“He made better time than I thought. Is Jasper there?”

“Not yet. Being slow,” Teague said when Aaron put the phone on speaker. “Who else do we expect?”

“I’m not sure. I called you and Jasper. He said he’d activate the Irregulars. I have no idea who’s coming.”

A black muscle car pulled up behind Teague’s truck. Jasper and a sultry black haired woman got out. She had a baby strapped to her chest, and a diaper bag over her shoulder. Aaron invited them all in.

Eoin bustled around the kitchen. Teague joined him, working in harmony. He and the woman were introduced, Jasper’s wife, Nadeya.

“Viv’s coming by in a few to get Pancho Villa,” Teague pointed to Nadeya’s son.

“Do not call my son that name,” she said. “Or I’ll be forced to shoot you.”

“I can’t remember his name and it always makes me think of Pancho Villa.”

“His name is Raymund, and you know it. Say his name.” She grabbed Teague’s shirt, pulling some chest hairs in the process.

“Baby Ray. Just f**king with ya, Nay.”

“Never tease a new mother about her baby,” Deirdre said as she took a seat at the table. “Especially one who can kill you. How old is your son?” she asked Nadeya.

“Six weeks today.”

“Nursing?”

“Yep. Getting fat and sassy,” Jasper said proudly. “Looks just like me, huh? Cute little f**k.”

Nadeya punched her husband. “I told you not to call him that, especially in public.”

“One thing you’ll discover about this bunch,” Jasper gestured to himself, Aaron and Teague. “We tease, and don’t know when to stop.”

There was a special tap at the door, three short, two long.

“Vivica,” Teague said. “My wife. She’s got the little nipper with her.” He checked the peephole and opened the door.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 51 by Dellani Oakes

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

“They offered scholarships to girls on the golf team. In return for—favors. Special party favors,” he said quietly, the disgust evident in his voice.

Deirdre looked at the picture and saw the pain and grief in the girls’ eyes. They tried to smile, but it was obvious that none of them wanted to be there.

“Bullock—persuaded the girls to participate at the parties. This young lady,” he tapped Fonda’s face. “Was pregnant with Bullock’s child. He made her abort.”

“Where are her parents? I know her! That’s Fonda Hart. And that’s Inez Westerman. We went to school with their parents. They play golf with Fred! Does he know?”

“I’m sure he doesn’t. Fred isn’t an insider and he’s made it clear he has no interest in it. He put another picture on top. This one featured Troy Intriago, Jim Butcher and Fred’s boss, Mona Colfer.

“Not them, too! This is sex trafficking! How does this go on? How are they not caught?”

“There are, obviously, some very influential people involved. We believe that Wendy was going to use her knowledge of this to get money to finance her lawsuit against the adoptive parents. She wanted Rowan back, wanted to make a life for her. Blackmail is a very dangerous game, especially when the players are all high ranking members of society.”

“That poor, desperate child. Didn’t she know she couldn’t get Rowan back?”

“She was going to say she was underage and coerced into it. She very likely would have gotten her child.”

“How did you find that out?”

“Her diary. Between her entries and the testimony of Fonda and Inez, we can break this wide open. But it’s going to get really ugly. You poke that many snakes….”

“You’re gonna get bit.”

“Yeah. And someone must have leaked something, because you’re being followed.”

“My boys, my parents!”

“We’ve called in some help. You’re all being watched, as are the girls. I’m glad Eoin is here. He’s a witness, too.”

“Horrific.”

“Yes. Now you know.”

“How am I supposed to feel? Angry, sickened, vulnerable?”

“All of the above.”

“We still haven’t figured out who killed Wendy.”

“You don’t think it was Troy?”

“Aiden says no, and I believe him. But Troy did assault her.”

His phone buzzed. “It’s the Boss checking up on us.” He swiped the screen, putting the phone on speaker. “Hey, Boss. You’re up early.”

“I got the lab results on the DNA.”

“Deirdre’s up with me. You’re on speaker.”

“Hi Deirdre. How are you feeling?”

“Like I twisted my ankle. What’s the news?”

“Aiden’s jacket gave us Troy’s DNA. Jasper’s clever thinking with Jim’s Red Bull can, gave us his. We’ve accounted for Bullock as well…. All that to tell you—”

“All three raped her,” Deirdre said solemnly. “Others?”

“One other trace deposit. You’re not going to like it.”

“Eoin,” Deirdre said. “But he wouldn’t have forced her. He loved her.”

“Agreed. And I don’t consider him a suspect. His sample was older.”

Deirdre closed her eyes, inhaling slowly. “Then who killed her?”

“My money is on Jim Butcher. He’s got a history of violence, and was thrown out of the Marines for beating up a female Naval officer. She disciplined him, so he waited in a secluded area on the ship, and jumped her. No doubt his intent was to rape her, but she took him down. Hardly left a mark on her. He got his arm broken. And let’s just say, I’m surprised he could get it up to attack Wendy. Testicular torsion.”

Aaron hissed loudly.

“Do we have proof that he’s the one who strangled her?”

“The size and pattern of the marks on her neck are consistent with his size hands. Troy’s are smaller, Bullock’s are bigger. We’re hoping that the State lab will be able to pull fingerprints off her throat. They were stupid enough not to wear condoms when they raped her, they probably didn’t wear gloves, either.”

“And the rest? How do we bring it down? Are the girls on that team still suffering? Are they still playing their dirty games?” Deirdre’s voice rose again.

“I’m still thinking about that. Trust me, I want this as much as you do. As to whether it’s going on, or not. I imagine it is.”

“You don’t think Aiden…?”

“Aiden has a stable home, a loving family. Some of these other kids are vulnerable, for one reason or another. I hope not.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 50 by Dellani Oakes

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

“Fred’s having trouble finding a flight. I suggested Sanford, apparently, it’s not a viable option either.”

“He’ll find something, Mom,” Aiden said.

She nodded, pressing her lips together. Vanessa took her hand, squeezing comfortingly.

“Meanwhile, you have us. Aaron and Eoin are spending the night. I’m just a phone call away, so are Scott and Jasper.”

“Jasper is only minutes away,” Aaron offered. “He’s just a few blocks south.”

Deirdre nodded, thanking them all. She picked at her food until Corin spoke up.

“Mom, you always used to fuss at me for playing with my food. Do I have to feed it to you? Because I will. This is the best lasagna ever, better than yours—sorry. Aaron made the sauce and froze it, and the pasta was made by hand. So eat.”

Giggling and trying not to cry, Deirdre did as he ordered. “I never thought I’d be taking orders from my fifteen year old.”

“Behave, or I’ll give you more,” he threatened, lowering his voice.

He sounded so much like his father, it made her gulp. All her boys looked like their father, too handsome for their own good.

“If you don’t mind, I’m going to take a pain pill and go to bed.”

“Can you get around by yourself?” Vanessa asked.

“I’ll use my crutches.” Deirdre gave Eoin an evil eye.

Reluctantly, he gave them to her. “You promise not to overdo.”

“I’m going to bed. The only place I’ll go after that, is the toilet.”

“All right.” He gave her a hug and kiss.

All the boys did the same. Vanessa gave her a hug and she hobbled to her bedroom. The noise of the household faded when she closed the door. It took longer to get ready for bed, but she finally turned in. Sleepy from her pill, she fell in to a deep, dreamless sleep.

Deirdre woke late at night. The house was quiet, but she saw a light peeping under her door. After a trip to the bathroom, she was thirsty, so she limped to the kitchen. Aaron sat at the table, going through pictures and papers. Glancing up, he smiled, then got up to help her walk.

“I’m surprised to see you awake.”

“Had to pee. Can you grab me some water?”

“Sure.” He got a glass and filled it with ice and water.

“Thank you. What are you doing?”

“Looking over photos that Vanessa gave me. That, and an endless lists of names.”

“What of?”

“Some private golf organization. In fact, it’s called the Private Golf Club or PGC.”

“Boring name.”

“Yeah, but not boring people. You and your husband got an invite several years ago, do you remember?”

“Vaguely. It was way too expensive, Corin wasn’t even in school yet, so we gave it a pass. We like golf, but not enough to pay thousands of dollars in membership fees and dues. I was surprised we were invited, to be honest.”

“You can be recommended by members. Do you remember who invited you?”

Deirdre screwed up her face, thinking hard. That was over ten years ago, and not important. “Bigby. Oh, what was his first name? Something with two syllables.”

“Dickie?”

“Was it? What a horrible name, Dickie Bigby. Yes, that sounds right. Why?”

“Because I’ve done some very injudicious digging.” He wiggled his fingers as if he’d been typing on a computer. “I was a hacker in my misspent youth.” He winked. “Be glad you said no. These folks are into some hinky shit.”

“How hinky?” She sipped her water, watching him over the top of her glass.

Aaron took a deep breath. “Illegal gambling. Insider trading. Wife swapping.”

“Wife—what? Did you said swapping?” Her voice got a bit shrill. Getting herself under control, she stared at him. “Swapping? Ew!”

“Yeah, which is why, I suspect, Dickie invited you. You’re a very attractive woman. He likes well built blondes.”

“Ewwg.” Shuddering, she wiped at her arms. “God, that’s disgusting. Have you seen him?”

Dickie Bigby was moderate height, but weighed over three hundred pounds.

“That’s disgusting!”

“That isn’t the worst of it.” He handed a picture to her. Wendy sat on Dickie’s lap. Three other girls, all familiar, sat on the knees of much older men. Each of them was someone important, a pillar of the community. To the right of Dickie sat none other than Coach Bullock.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Character Quotes from Love in the Pink by Dellani Oakes

Cereal Authors

character-quotes-image“Her mother must be an artist.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Her name. Not a name a man would choose, and not mainstream. It’s lovely and unusual.”

“As is she.”

Mom smiled, patting my hand. “I apologize for interrupting. First time?”

Despite the fact I’m a grown man, and my mother and I are very open about my sex life, that caught me off guard.

“How can you tell?”

“That soft glow on your faces. It must have been very good.” She touched my cheek fondly.

“It was the best. I can’t describe it.” Shaking my head, I fiddled with my coffee. “I think maybe this one will take.”

“Good. I want grandchildren.” Grinning, she smacked my cheek, pinching my lips together in a duck face. “At least four. Since you are my only issue, you need to be prolific.”

“Might have to get Cerise’s okay on that, Mother,” I…

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