Archive | November 2019

Love Takes a Swim Part 9 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallPaisley tells Kai more about her background, and why she ran away.

“We usually eat in the kitchen,” Nina explained. “But it’s so nice to have company, I thought we’d eat out here. This is my husband, Brad. Honey, this is the girl I told you about, Paisley.”

“Hi, Paisley. Nice to finally meet you. Nina’s talked about little else since she took your class the other day. How was your first day?”

“It was good, thanks. Everyone’s made me feel so at home.” Paisley’s lip trembled. She looked like she was going to have another meltdown.

Kai pulled out a chair for her, helping her get settled at the table, before sliding into the one next to her. Cody, who usually sat in that place, looked miffed. Kai flashed him a look to keep his mouth shut. His brother sat across from them instead.

“This is cool, having another girl here, huh, Mom? Usually the guys outnumber us,” Tempest explained. “And you can cut the testosterone with a knife!”

Paisley giggled. “I bet that’s a problem sometimes.”

“Do you have brothers?”

“Sure don’t. Just only me. As brothers go, yours aren’t so bad.”

“That’s because you’re not their sister. Absolutely no boys want to talk to me at school, for fear Cody will pound them. And none of them will ask me out, for fear of Kai. I swear, I’m never gonna get married.”

“Maybe they’ll lighten up when you get older.”

“Yeah, that’ll happen,” she laughed, rolling her eyes.

“My sons have made a pact to protect their sister from the predatory males of the world,” Brad said, spooning out potatoes.

“Every man on the face of the earth, he means,” Cody explained. “I don’t care who he is, or how old he is, every guy is looking to sc…. Ouch!”

Kai had kicked his brother under the table.

“Twatwaffle, you didn’t have to kick me!” Cody rubbed the wounded shin tenderly.

“Cody Simon Beecher, you watch your language, young man! That earned you clean up duty!” His mother scolded. “Did you teach him that?” she accused Kai.

“No, ma’am. Don’t believe I’ve ever used that word in my life.” He tried to look innocent, knowing full well Cody had learned that word from him, and he’d said it only last week.

“Liar!” Cody threw his napkin across the table at his brother.

Kai caught it, tossing it back. “Behave like a human, please.”

“If you weren’t taking Paisley home, I’d make you help him,” their mother said.

“He could help, and you could take her home,” Tempest suggested.

“Thanks, Knee-Britches. Keep your suggestions to yourself,” Kai fussed.

Tempest stuck her tongue out at him. He made a grab for it, nearly snagging the tip.

“Keep that in your mouth, kid.”

“Or what?”

“Or… I’m not gonna say at the table. Behave, huh? What’s Paisley gonna think? You’re a couple barbarians?”

Paisley honestly didn’t know what to think. She’d never been around a family like this—ever. It was shocking, and refreshing all at once. She quite liked the verbal sparring and insults they hurled at one another. Obviously, though it didn’t exactly sound like it, they loved one another a great deal.

Once dinner was over, Kai helped clear the table, and rinsed dishes as Tempest put food away. Cody loaded the dishwasher. They wouldn’t let Paisley help, even though she offered.

“Next time,” Nina assured her. “Tonight you’re a guest. Next time, you’re family.”

Paisley’s lip trembled again, but she managed to keep from crying. Nina put her arm around the young woman’s slender shoulders, hugging gently.

“Oh, honey—what kind of life have you had that a simple thing like that…. You precious, tender spirit….”

Paisley burst into tears, this time clinging to Nina. The two women cried for a few minutes. Kai and Brad wanted to comfort them, but didn’t really know what to do. It was Tempest who took it in hand. She went to them, putting her arms around them both, hugging. She didn’t say a word, her presence was enough. They stopped crying soon after. Nina kissed Tempest on the head and Paisley hugged her.

It was after 9:00 when Kai took Paisley home. Her apartment was in a questionable part of town. It wasn’t quite disreputable, but a couple blocks further down, it was. Kai didn’t like the idea of leaving her there alone, but he wasn’t in a position to offer alternatives.

“Want coffee or something? Thanks to your mom, I’ve got some.”

“I’d love some.” Kai carried the groceries as Paisley unlocked the door.

The apartment was small and cramped, but cozy. She’d decorated with second hand cast offs, but somehow it all came together, looking like a real home.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Books and Entertainment – What’s Write for Me with Barbra, Katherine, Nicole & Robin

Books and Entertainment logo

Join us Wednesday, November 27 from 4-6 PM on Books & Entertainment Network – What’s Write for Me!

Thanksgiving is almost here and Black Friday looms on the horizon. Why go out, struggling in the bad traffic, worse weather and rude people? Instead, stay home in your favorite chair and do your shopping in the comfort of your own home! While you’re there, don’t forget that books make great gifts!

Our authors today not only have a wonderful anthology to share, but each of them has other work just waiting for you. Kick back, have a listen, and get your shopping done early – buy books!

katherine Thomlinson

First up is the lady behind the anthology, Katherine Tomlinson. A familiar voice here on What’s Write for Me, she’s not only the driving force behind this collection, but many others as well. She’s also the author of Picnic by the Lake of Time, Love Note, and Suicide Blonde. Welcome back to the show, Katherine!

Robin Claire Barns

We’re also happy to have former guest, Robin Claire Barnes back on the show. Also known as RC Barnes, she has published a variety of short stories. She has written several novels, among them Riverdogs, Pretty Little Gun from the Tattoo Teller Series, and her newest novel, Ink for the Beloved. Welcome back, Robin!

Our next two guests are new to the show, and we’re so delighted to have them with us.

Barbra Campbell

Barbra Campbell is so busy with home, children, pets, working on her PhD, playing the cello, and helping her husband,I’m shocked she has time to write! We’re happy she has time in her busy schedule to spend some of it with us. She is the author of several hot and fast contemporary romance/ erotic books, among them Dangerous Curves Ahead, Hot Enough and Thankfully Yours. Welcome, Barbra!

Nicole Morgan

And finally, we’re joined by a second new voice, Nicole Morgan, another author of hot, sexy romance. Nicole has written under the pen names of Taylor Brooks and Nicki Day, and is the founder of Romance Collections. She is the author of The Soldier of Fortune Series, The Sweet Awakenings Series and Incessant Passions Series, among many more. Welcome, Nicole!

Join us when she chat with these four amazing and talented ladies on What’s Write for Me!

Love Takes a Swim Part 8 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallNina, Kai’s mom, invites Paisley to come home with them, and have dinner.

“Yeah. Bites, lemme tell ya. We all three hit major holidays. Cody’s New Year’s Day and Tempy’s on Valentine’s.”

“That totally bites,” she agreed.

“Got any sisters as hot as you?” Cody blurted out. “Preferably my age?”

Paisley smiled, shaking her head. “I’m a one and only. Not even got folks anymore. They died when I was a kid.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Kai said softly. “Must have been hard.”

“Granny raised me, until she got too sick. Then I lived with my crazy Uncle Frank.”

“Just a fun guy, or really wacko?” Cody asked.

“Wacko. They Baker Acted him when he danced naked in a fountain in downtown Knoxville.”

“Oh wow. Sorry I asked.”

“I was fifteen. They put me in foster care after that. Not a fun way to come up.”

“Kai was a one and only, until I came along,” Cody said rather too loudly. “Tempy and I were both surprises. Kai was a major oops though. Mom wasn’t married when she had him.”

Kai smacked his brother upside the head. “Thanks. Why don’t you go inside and bug your sister?” He pointedly raised an eyebrow.

Cody wanted to argue, but Kai could and would strong arm him to get his way. He shuffled in the house. Kai led Paisley to a glass topped table, pulling out a well padded chair for her. He flopped into one next to her, swigging his beer.

“Sorry about him. Cody doesn’t always know how to be polite. Unfortunately, that whole blurting out the unpleasant truth, is a problem the entire family has.”

“It’s okay. I think it upset you more than me.”

“Yeah, well…. That’s life.” He chugged his beer.

“You’ll be okay to drive, won’t you?”

“It’s the only one I’m having. I’ll be fine by the time dinner’s over. Don’t worry, I won’t drive you home drunk. I’m a one beer a night guy.”

Paisley sighed with relief, sipping her beer. Her green eyes swam with tears, but she fought them with everything she had. Her lower lip trembled as she gazed up at the moon.

“Jeez, Paisley. What’d that guy do to you?” He touched her cheek ever so gently.

She burst into tears. Kai took her beer, setting it on the table, and put his arms around her, letting her cry.

“It’s okay. I’m here. You’re safe now.” He smoothed her hair, whispering calmly as she wept.

Paisley sobbed and hiccuped several minutes, clinging to him like a life preserver. Kai’s shirt was soaked, but he didn’t care. She needed a broad shoulder and strong arms. He had both and was willing to share them with her. He’d have liked to share a lot more, but he knew she was too vulnerable for him to make a move on her. He was more likely to scare her away. He’d have to be content with letting her come to him.

“I’m sorry. I’m a complete train wreck. It’s just—you and your mom, you’re so sweet! You make me feel like I’m family. For once, I feel like I belong somewhere…. Oh, God—here I go again.” She sniffled, wiping her eyes on the back of her hands.

“Hey, it’s okay. It’s been a long time since I was someone’s towel.”

“Oh, you’re a mess!”

Kai’s shirt was spotted with her makeup. A long streak of mascara went from one shoulder to the other.

“I’m so embarrassed. I must look a sight!”

“Come with me. We’ll get you cleaned up.”

He led Paisley to small, half bathroom near the shower on the back of the house. He got her a washcloth and waited outside until she washed off the wreckage of her makeup. She came out, trying to smile, the tears lingering in the corners of her eyes.

Kai smiled, wiping the tears away. He wanted to kiss her badly. It took every ounce of willpower he had, not to. He felt energized around her, like her body had some kind of magnetic pull for his. He hoped she felt it too.

The door to the kitchen slid open and Tempest came out looking for them. “Kai, Mom says wash up.”

“Be right in.”

The magic was broken for the moment. He and Paisley washed in the half bath, and went into the house through the adjoining laundry room. Kai grabbed a clean shirt, tossing the dirty one in the washer. He could feel Paisley’s eyes on him as he pulled the clean one over his head. He was well aware the effect his physique had on women. He was lean muscled, broad shouldered and darkly bronzed by the sun.

“Help me carry things in,” his mother told him.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Paisley picked up another dish, following them to the dining room.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 7 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallAfter work, Kai offers to take Paisley home, so she won’t have to ride the bus.

“It’s okay. Thank you.”

“Come on in and wait. The bugs are getting nasty. They’ll eat you alive.”

She walked with him, back to the building. His mother was just coming out looking for him, when they walked up. Cody was behind her, grinning at his brother.

“There you are! I wondered where you’d wandered off to,” his mother said, as she locked the door.

“I saw Paisley at the bus stop, and offered her a ride. If you’ll take us to the house, I’ll see her home.”

“Sure.” His mother gave him a puzzled look.

“Shotgun,” Cody said, more from habit than anything.

“I don’t mind riding in the back,” Paisley said.

Kai opened the door to the red SUV, helping Paisley in. He hopped in after her, shutting the door. Cody pushed the seat all the way back, squishing his brother’s long legs.

“Hey! I don’t do that to you, douche!” Kai popped his brother on top of the head.

“Boys! Enough!” Their mother chided.

Cody pulled the seat up. “Just messin’ with ya, bro. Gotta give you some grief, or you’ll think I don’t love you no more.”

“I have to stop at the grocery store on the way. What did I need again?” she appealed to Cody. “He’s my memory,” she explained to Paisley.

“Eggs, milk, half & half, tampons and cheese. Weird list, Mom. Gotta tell ya.”

“Shall I add Saran Wrap and duct tape to that list too?”

“What’s that for?” Cody asked, puzzled.

“Crowd control.”

Silence is Golden. Duct tape is Silver,” Kai quoted his favorite T-shirt.

Paisley giggled quietly.

“Need anything while we’re here?” Nina Beecher asked as she pulled into the parking lot.

“Yeah, as a matter of fact I do. I ran out of coffee this morning.”

“I guess we’re all going in, Mom,” Kai said.

“Do you have to?” she sighed.

“I promise, I won’t ask for a thing. I’ll buy my own junk food and condoms.” Kai winked at her as she groaned.

“I swear, I don’t know where they get it from. I tried so hard to tame them, and make them socially acceptable.” She sighed again.

They got in the store and Kai took off with Cody while Nina and Paisley shopped together. The young men got fried chicken, mashed potatoes and salad for their contribution to dinner. Cody talked Kai into purchasing two half gallons of ice cream that were buy one get one free. With their purchases in hand, they waited for their mother.

Kai’s phone rang. “Yeah, Mom?”

“Where are you?”

“Checked out and waiting by the restrooms.”

“Thank God. I had visions of having to look for you, or have you paged.”

“Come on, we aren’t that bad. Where are you?”

“Finishing up now. Meet us at lane eight.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

They scuttled over to help their mother carry the groceries to the car.

“Lots more than was on your list, Ma,” Cody teased.

“Some of that’s mine,” Paisley said. “Your mom was kind enough to buy me some groceries, since pay day’s not until Friday.”

“It’s a house warming gift,” Nina assured her. “I don’t want you to pay me back.”

“Thanks. That’s so sweet….” She blinked hard and Kai knew she was trying not to cry.

They unloaded the car, putting the groceries away in record time. Nina invited Paisley to eat dinner, which she graciously accepted.

“Now, all of you scoot! Cody, get your sister to help me.”

“I’ll help, Nina….”

“Nonsense, you worked all day. Tempest can help.”

A tall, adolescent girl, who looked remarkably like Kai, followed Cody to the kitchen. Tempest smiled at Paisley, speaking quietly when she was introduced. She joined her mother in the kitchen, as the others went onto the deck out back. Kai popped open a couple beers, handing one to Paisley. She accepted graciously.

“I suppose I should ask if you’re old enough,” he teased her by pulling it away.

“I’m old enough, I promise. I turned twenty-one July first.”

“Kai was twenty-two on the Fourth of July,” Cody told her.

“No kidding? An Independence Day baby, huh?”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 6 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai finds out a little more about Paisley, mostly that she left Tennessee because of an abusive boyfriend.

“I wish I had you for a brother.”

“No you don’t. I scare every guy away, who even looks at Tempy funny. She’s told me a million times I’m killing her love life.”

“How old is she?”

“Fourteen. I think her love life needs some killin’. She’s too young to think about shit like that.”

“I still wish I had a brother like you. Then he’d have left me alone.”

“I can’t be your brother, Paisley, but I’ll sure be your friend. You don’t have to worry. We’re like family here. We take care of our own.”

Pasiley sniffled again, wiping tears, but a grateful smile flickered at the corners of her mouth. “I feel like I just came home,” she whispered. “I better get back inside.” She wiped her eyes on the hem of her shirt and scrambled off the table.

“Paisley,” Kai stopped her with his voice. “If you need anything, ever, you let me know. I’ll give you my number before we go today. I’m serious. Anything at all, you tell me.”

“Thanks, Kai. Just knowing that—it means a lot.”

He watched her jog back to the main facility and wondered what she was doing inside. It was pretty obvious his mother had hired her full time. Most instructors came in to teach their classes and left. Paisley was still there, so she must be doing more than just teach water exercise.

Kai headed back to the pool, relieving Cody on the slide tower. His brother looked pretty rough. Even with the umbrella, the sun was brutal up there. Kai decided to close the slide for the day. He let the last of the kids up and roped off the entrance. Cody looked relieved as he headed down.

“Wish you’d done that an hour ago,” he said.

“Should have told me, bro. I’m not always the most observant.”

“Been lookin’ at Miss Paisley’s fine ass,” Cody said with a sassy smirk.

Kai smacked his arm in reprimand. “What are you doin’ lookin’?”

“I knew you were checking her out. Hurt much?”

“Don’t know what you mean,” Kai tried to sound innocent.

“You heard me. I’m not a baby, I know how things work.”

“Just so you aren’t exercising your knowledge yet, kid….”

“Oh, lighten up, Kai. I’m almost seventeen. Lots of guys my age are already active. I’m some kind of freak, to still be a virgin.”

“Take your time, kid. Trust me. There’s plenty of tail out there….”

“Sorry, man. I wasn’t thinking.”

“Hey, shit happens. Go to the office. Cool down some, and get a drink. You look terrible.”

“I’m good.”

“Do it. Don’t make me bench you.”

“Asshole. I swear, I liked you better before you knew anything.”

Kai grinned, swatting his brother again. “Do it. I can still kick your bony ass.”

Cody didn’t argue. He did exactly what Kai told him. He just wanted it plain that it was his idea, not because his big brother, the paramedic, told him to.

The day finally drew to an end. They closed the pool, cleaned up and headed inside. The main facility stayed open until 9:00, but the pool closed at 6:00. Kai flopped in a chair to wait for his mother. She’d given him a ride that morning. They car pooled as much as possible.

Paisley sat at the bus stop outside. Kai went out to talk to her.

“Hey there. Need a ride home?”

“I’m good. I’m taking the bus.”

Kai wrinkled his nose. “No offense, but there’s some weird folks ride the bus.”

Paisley giggled, tossing her dark hair. “I know. But I sold my car, and used my cash to set up my apartment, so not getting a new one anytime soon.”

“You can catch a ride with us. Mom can take us to our house. I’ll grab my car and take you home.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to be any trouble.”

“No trouble, Paisley. Nobody should have to ride the bus.”

“You’re a hard guy to figure out, Kai.”

“Me? I’m simplicity itself.”

He stretched his long legs, folding his arms behind his head. His shirt inched up, revealing a masterfully sculpted abdomen. Paisley eyed him cautiously, as if she were afraid to look at him. Kai let his arms down.

“Is that a yes?”

“Sure. I’d like a ride. The bus driver ogles me whenever I get on. Kinda uncomfortable.”

“Not surprised. If I were him, I’d ogle you too. You’re damn pretty,” he said without thinking. “Sorry. Me and my blurting problem.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 5 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallLater that afternoon, Kai has another chance to talk to Paisely.

“I’m in a band. The guys convinced me to keep it long, but I’m over it. It’s too damn hot.”

“What do you play?”

“Guitar mostly. Drums, bass. I’m front man and play rhythm. Cody’s lead.” He pointed to his brother. “Some of our friends make up the rest.”

“You guys any good?”

He chuckled. “You want the truth or a pipe dream?”

“That bad?” She looked shocked.

“No. We’re pretty good. I won’t say we’re ever gonna be famous, but we have fun, make a little cash on the side. Enjoy the benefits….” He stopped himself before he said something crude.

“Groupies?”

Kai chuckled, putting the cool can to his forehead. “Most of us have steady girlfriends. We don’t encourage the groupies, or the ladies get mad.”

“And you. Do you have a girlfriend?”

“Not at the moment.”

“Groupies?” She cut her eyes at him, making him blush.

“No groupies. Front man should see a lot of action, right?” He shrugged. “Not interested in boffing a bunch of women I don’t hardly know, and won’t see again. My last girlfriend, though—Whew.”

“What happened?” She turned so she was facing him, not the pool.

Kai had to force his eyes to focus on hers instead of the tasty breasts, and other things, that weren’t very well covered by her skimpy outfit.

“She took a liking to somebody else,” he said casually.

The tightness of his shoulders told Paisley there was more to it than that, but she didn’t pry.

“How about you? Boyfriend, fiance, husband?”

“Nope. I moved down here to leave all that behind me.”

“Down from where?”

“Tennessee.”

“Leave all what?”

“Boyfriend-fiance—husband hopeful. He was getting kinda persistent. I got tired of telling him no, and getting my tires slashed, so I left. Didn’t tell a soul where I was going, and went on till it felt right.”

“Felt right?”

“I had the better part of three states between us. I made a big deal of saying I was heading to Maine, left town by the north road, then sold my car in Virginia and took the train south. Paid cash for my ticket, using a fake name. It won’t stop him, but it’ll get him off my track for a bit.”

“So, is Paisley your real name?”

“Yeah. Can’t hire on without a social. Didn’t much feel like lying to Mrs. Beecher. She seems like a nice lady.”

“Love her like a mother,” he said with a smirk.

“Huh?”

“She’s my mom. Marcelo was her maiden name. Then she married Bradly Beecher and had Cody and Tempest. Tempest is my kid sister. I imagine you’ll see her around. She and her friends hang out here most days.”

“She here today?”

“Gone to the springs with our aunt and uncle.”

“You here every day?”

“Part time right now. I’m studying to be a paramedic, so I put in time with the EVAC.”

“Really? I was studying to be an RN, until I left.”

“What the hell did he do to you?” The question burst from him before could stop it.

Paisley shifted slightly, biting her lip as the tears came. “What didn’t he do? He was awful to me in so many ways….”

“Abusive prick,” Kai growled. “Men like that ought to be shot and killed—twice.”

She giggled a little, smiling through her tears. “Twice?”

“Kill ’em, resuscitate and kill the f**kers again,” he said with finality. “Real men don’t abuse women, just so you know. If Tempest ever hooks up with a guy like that, there’s gonna be some mighty happy gators.” He finished off his Coke, smashing the can with his fist.

Paisley jumped as his hand thumped against the table. Her green eyes still held tears, but she smiled.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Charles, Karen and Lisa!

TODAY from 4-6 PM EST. Dellani interviews Charles Carson, Karen Lynn and Lisa Colodny

red river radio logoHalloween is over, Thanksgiving looms on the horizon, and after that, the madness of Black Friday! Make your shopping easier, buy books! My guests today have great ones to choose from. All three are new to the show, so I know we’re going to have a great time!

Lisa Colodny

Lisa Robin Phillips Colodny was born and grew up in the rural countryside of Kentucky. She attended the University of Kentucky and Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, graduated with a Doctorate in Pharmacy from Nova Southeastern University in 1994 and later obtained an MBA in 2004. Her non fiction publishing history includes approximately 34 publications in the health and science industry and 5 book contributions, also medical. Additionally, she’s been interviewed for 15 television programs or newspaper articles and participated in over 50 healthcare related speaking events. Fiction publishing history includes a short story publication, My Name is Edith for the Broward College newspaper and an X-files story, H2O, that appeared in a magazine entitled to the Fullest X tent in 1997 She is the author of Journeys, Wavering Moon, Crossroads and more.

Chuck Carson

Charles B. Carson lives with his wife, Pat, in the small farm community of White Mills, KY. He is a member of The Bards Writing Group and has a BS from Urbana University. Besides writing he enjoys woodworking, gardening, painting, and photography, and a musician. He is the author of a children’s book Inn’s Side.

Karen Lynn Brown

Karen Lynn, a native New Yorker has always loved writing poetry and short stories with intense characters struggling to find love and survive in a troubled world. After years of working in the legal field, Karen moved with her son to Oregon. Inspired by the rain and Portland’s creative culture, Karen has been able to follow her dream of writing novels. Hearts in torment is her debut series in this dark romantic suspense series of the same name. She is the author of Turn to Dust, Sea of Smoke, War of Hearts.

TODAY from 4-6 PM EST. Dellani interviews Charles Carson, Karen Lynn and Lisa Colodny

Love Takes a Swim Part 4 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai and Paisley are having a chat when Cody calls him to the slide. A boy is up top having a seizure. Cody’s called EMS, but the boy is getting worse.

Kai took over, talking calmly to the boy as his body shook. He had nothing to keep his jaws from snapping together, so he hoped the truck hurried. He didn’t want the kid to bite his tongue.

“Tell Mom to open the gate.”

Cody went down the slide and swam across the pool to tell his mother that the emergency vehicle was on its way. Kai’s younger brother was a strong swimmer, and got across the huge pool in record time, faster than he could have walked around it. Dripping, he ran to the office, giving their mother the news.

Mrs. Beecher got up and unlocked the side gate as the emergency vehicle pulled up. The lifeguards had everyone out of the pool, gathered to one side, as the paramedics dog-trotted to the tower.

“Talk to me,” Thad Purcell said, as soon as he and his partner got up top.

Kai filled them in as they stabilized the boy for transport.

“How the f**k do we get him down?”

“I had an idea about that,” Kai said. “Strap him to a backboard and lower him down with ropes.”

“Good plan. Make it happen,” Thad agreed.

Within minutes, the boy was down and safely stowed in the ambulance. His mother stood by, wringing her hands.

“What am I gonna do? I’ve got my other kids!”

“They can go to the summer program for now,” Kai’s mother told her. “Let us know how he is, okay?”

“I don’t understand what did this. He’s been fine….” Her voice drifted away as she got in the ambulance.

A day care worker collected her other children, taking them inside as the ambulance took off. Kai watched it go, wondering what else could possibly go wrong. The day was young—there was way too much potential for mishaps.

The call came an hour later that the boy was fine. The heat, and an imbalance in his meds, had caused the seizure. His father came by to pick up this siblings, thanking Kai and Cody for their help.

“We didn’t do all that much,” Kai told him.

“You kept him calm and called EVAC. Fast thinking, kid,” he said to Cody shaking his hand. “I own Sonny’s Steakhouse. You two come in sometime, I’ll fix you a free steak dinner, any way you like it. All the sides you can eat.”

“Thanks.” Kai said, shaking the proffered hand. “We sure will.”

Kai finished setting up the umbrellas and flopped in a chair beneath one, eyes lingering on the pool. The usual gaggle of elementary aged children monopolized the slide, while the older kids tussled in the middle of the pool. A few stalwart adults swam in the lap lanes and the babies played with their mothers in the shallow end.

A group of youngsters, about 10 years old, came over to him. “Can you turn on the umbrella?” The leader of the pack asked.

The umbrella, and other pieces of equipment, were usually reserved for parties, but it was so hot, Kai didn’t see why not. He double checked with his mother, got her okay and turned on the fountains and umbrella. Children and adults flocked to the shallow end, grouping in the watery shade of the umbrella or the gouting fountains, laughing and playing.

“Thought you could use a cold drink,” a soft Southern voice said at his elbow.

Kai turned around to find Paisley standing there. She looked cool and fresh while he looked, and felt, hot and sweaty.

“I sure can. Thanks. How’d you guess Coke’s my favorite?” He accepted the Coke from her with a grin.

“Total accident. It matches your clothing.” She shrugged, toasting him with another can. “When do you go on break?”

“Right about now,” he said with a grin. “Yo, Cody! Back in twenty!”

His younger brother nodded from the tower, gazing over the water. Kai led Paisley to a shade tree and sat on top of the picnic table. She joined him, sitting with her legs crossed.

“How do you stand it out there? It’s horrible today.”

“You get used to it. I’m strongly considering a haircut, though. I’ve had it with the long look.”

“It looks good, but I imagine it’s torture. Shorter hair would look good.” She brushed some of the wispy locks from his broad shoulders. “Why the long hair?”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 3 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai and Paisley meet right after Mrs. Springer nearly passes out in the pool.

“Well,” he gasped. “Bout anything that needs doing. During class, I’m on deck to keep an eye on folks like Mrs. Springer.”

“She shouldn’t even be out there,” Paisley said heatedly.

“Don’t I know it. I was against it from the beginning. But folks get a doctor’s excuse and think they can do any damn thing they want. Doctors think that just because this is in the water that it’s easy.” He snorted in disgust.

Paisley smiled. “Thanks. That’s exactly what I was going to say. I’m glad we think alike on this. I was afraid it was going to be hard to get her out of the class.”

“All taken care of. In fact, I need to talk to the boss, so she can back us up.”

“You’re sure she will?”

“Positive. Great class, by the way. I liked your choice of music. Deanna always used some jazzed up Big Band stuff that really got under my skin.”

“You don’t think it was too hip for the old folks?” She smirked, raising an eyebrow.

“Didn’t hear them protesting, did you? Good music is good music, doesn’t matter your age. Before it gets busy again, I need to talk to the boss. Excuse me.”

“No problem. Thanks again for your help, Kai.”

“Very welcome.” He wanted to say something else simply to keep her there, but couldn’t think of another excuse. He really did need to talk to the boss, so he bid farewell and ducked into the office.

Boss Lady looked up with a happy smile. “To what do I owe this visit?”

“Mrs. Springer.”

She frowned, motioning him to sit. “Is she okay?”

“She’s fine. But I told her daughter she has to exercise inside. I had to get pretty firm. She has her doctor’s excuse, and wants to be with her friends.”

“No problem. I’ll call Dr. Holloway myself, and take care of it. So, how was Paisley’s first class?”

“What I saw of it, good. I couldn’t really pay close attention, with Mrs. Springer alternating between flushed and pallid, but the music was good. Folks were smiling on the way out.”

“Great! I was in a class of hers over the weekend. She was at the convention. She said she was looking for a job, so I hired her practically on the spot.”

“Cool. Well, I better get back out there. Next class is coming in.”

The second class went even better than the first. Kai had more of an opportunity to watch Paisley, which he did in short spurts, assiduously keeping an eye on the class at least ninety-five percent of the time.

After class, his mother beckoned him over. He trotted to the office to see what she wanted.

“Set up the umbrellas before open swim. It’s supposed to be eighty-nine with a heat index of nearly a hundred. I almost hope there’s a thunderstorm, so we can shut down. I don’t like having you kids out there in that.”

“Think of all the sno-cones we’ll sell.”

“Smart ass.”

“Not my fault. It’s in my blood,” he said over his shoulder.

“Yeah, yeah. Get your butt back out there, Son.”

“Sure thing, Mom!” He saluted her and walked out, nearly colliding with Paisley. “Oops! Sorry about that. I need to watch where you’re going.”

She giggled. “I was just standing here.”

“Then I need to watch where I’m going. Did you need something?”

“Just my schedule. Mrs. Beecher said she’d have it for me after class.”

“Oh. Hang on a second.” He tapped on the office door then poked his head inside. “Paisley needs her schedule.”

“Here.” She handed it to him.

Kai presented the paper to Paisley with a flourish. “Your schedule, Señorita.”

Paisley grinned at him. “Gracias, Señor.”

“I’ve now exhausted most of my Spanish vocabulary.” He teased, he was fluent.

“No problemo. Thank you.”

“Kai!” Cody called to him from the slide. “Need you!”

There seemed to be a tussle up at the top of the slide. Kai took off without saying goodbye, trotting rapidly to the tower on the other side of the pool. Paisley watched him run, admiring the way he moved, sinewy and silky. With a shudder of appreciation, she headed to the women’s dressing room to shower and change.

Kai got to the tower. One of the other guards had the children lined up below, keeping them off the ladder. Kai went up two steps at a time. Up top, a teenage boy was having a seizure. Cody did his best, but his eyes were wide with panic.

“Did you call EMS?”

“Yeah. But he’s getting worse.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 2 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover small

A new woman has joined the health club as a water aerobics instructor. Her name is Paisley, and Kai is immediately smitten.

Kai looked carefully around the pool. One of the elderly ladies who was also very overweight, was foundering. Paisley hadn’t missed it either. She hopped in the pool, making it look like she needed to cool off, working her way to the woman’s side. Kai was off the tower and at the pool in seconds.

Paisley encouraged the woman to the side of the pool, asking for a bottle of water. Kai nodded to another lifeguard, closer to the office. A bottle of water flashed across the heads of the people in the pool. Kai caught it, opening and handing it to Paisley in one smooth movement. He squatted by the pool assessing the woman from a foot away.

“How are you feeling, Mrs. Springer?” he asked calmly.

“Light-headed,” she said in a gasping voice.

“Think you’ll be okay if you stand by the side here? I’ll stay with you, keep an eye.”

She nodded, sipping the water, her face flushed.

“You take it easy. If you need to get out, you let me know, I’ll come in and help you out.”

“You’re a sweet boy, Kai.”

“Can’t let you pass out on me, baby. Boss Lady will think I’m slacking.”

Mrs. Springer managed a tight, exhausted smile. Kai nodded to the others letting them know he had it under control. The younger guard took the tower. Kai sat cross legged by the pool, talking to Mrs. Springer.

Paisley kept class going, glancing at the two of them every now and then. Mrs. Springer’s color improved and Kai allowed her to participate in a limited way, cautioning her from time to time when she worked too hard.

“I know you want the weight off, Bessie,” he said quietly. “But your doctor said to take it easy. Don’t make me look bad, sugar. Boss Lady will yell.”

Bessie Springer smiled, gasping slightly as she exercised. Kai stayed close, watching her until the cool down was over and class ended. Paisley finished with a flourish, taking a bow. The class applauded enthusiastically, and made their way to the ladders or the shallow end of the pool, where they could walk out. Mrs. Springer walked with her hand on the edge until she got to the end of the pool where the pavement met the water’s edge. Kai followed her around, greeting her there with a strong arm and a PVC wheelchair. He put up an umbrella, making her sit there until her daughter came to pick her up.

“I know she has a doctor’s permission form,” he said quietly to her daughter. “But I’m very concerned. I really can’t allow her to continue if she’s going to get faint and light-headed during the warm-up. She needs an individualized program, inside where it’s cool. If you talk to the director, she can set you up.”

“Mom wants to be out here with her friends,” the daughter protested.

“Look, I’m not trying to be a hard ass. I love Bessie to bits, and I don’t want to see her do this to herself. I’m sure there’s some nice people inside too, maybe a few she knows. She can’t be out here in this heat and sun.”

She started to protest again, but Kai held up his hand. “I’m gonna have to say no. I know my boss will back me up on this. If I have to, I’ll call her doctor myself, and have him veto it. I won’t be responsible for her death. And that’s what’s gonna happen if your mom continues to workout in the pool.”

The daughter blanched, nodding. Tight lipped, blinking hard, she helped her mother to the car, talking quietly and earnestly. Kai let them out the locked gate, so they could get to their car more easily. He helped Bessie into her seat, closing her door for her. As he locked the gate behind himself, he exhaled sharply, running his hands through his hair.

“That could have been a bad one,” a soft, Southern-tinged voice said behind him.

Kai turned around to find Paisley a couple feet away. She had a towel around her waist, her wet suit clinging to her body like a red, slinky skin.

“Yeah. I’ve been telling them for a couple weeks that I didn’t think she should be out here. Today I flat told them no. I don’t like being a hard ass….”

“But you don’t want her to die on your watch.”

“Not a lot, no.” He flashed a lopsided grin, holding out his hand. “Kai Marcelo. Head lifeguard.”

“I’m Paisley Saunders, but I expect you know that.” She took his broad palmed hand in a firm grip.

“I do. Nice to meet you, Miss Saunders.”

“Call me Paisley. What does a head lifeguard do?”

She gave him a Lauren Bacall look, chin tilted down, eyes raised to meet his. If she intended to stop his heart, getting his full attention, that did it. Her eyes were an incredible shade of green, dark and liquid, like pine trees reflected in deep water. Kai concentrated on breathing for a moment, because his lungs seemed to have forgotten how to expand on their own.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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