Archive | April 2020

Love Takes a Swim Part 53 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallWhile they are at the pool, the storm warning goes off. Kai makes everyone get out of the pool and tells them to go inside.

Quickly and calmly, he herded everyone inside the main facility. He even got his mother from her office by the pool and took her in the main building.

“I don’t know what you’re so worried about,” Nina grumbled. “It’s just a squall.”

“Squalls come from the ocean. This is from the west. After yesterday at the high school, I’m paranoid. This building is newer and the codes are more stringent now. That pool house, while quaint, isn’t nearly as sturdy.”

The wind picked up right about then. Kai shunted the swimmers into the dressing rooms to dry off and change. The kids from the summer day camp filed into their room, but he encouraged the teachers to take them to the gym. There were too many windows in the other room to suit him.

Cody and Marianna got them all playing duck duck goose, gossip and a variety of other things to occupy them.

Suddenly, it got very quiet. Kai felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He shivered involuntarily. With a mournful howl, the wind surged around the building. The flag rattled on the pole outside. The pennants around the pool tore loose, flailing around like mad serpents on crack. Windows and doors shook like a million space shuttles going up.

With a sickening crash, Kai’s lifeguard tower was uprooted from the bolts holding it on the concrete. It crashed into the slide, ripping a section of it loose. With a hideous shudder, the tower flew through Nina’s office window. Had she been sitting at her desk, it would have killed her. She sat down, fanning herself.

“Oh, dear God! Kai, if you hadn’t…. Oh, my God!” She fanned herself more, trying not to vomit. Kai held his mother, trying to calm her. Paisley and Tempest took over, holding Nina as they huddled together.

The children didn’t know if they should scream or not. Some were close to hysterics, but the teachers distracted them. Everyone was fine until the power went off a few moments later. There was a hush, then the screaming started.

Kai blew his whistle. “Stop immediately!” he bellowed. “Quiet!” He pitched his voice extra low.

The emergency lights came on casting an eerie glow around the room.

“It’s okay. The generator will click on in a minute. Just a storm, and a power outage. We’re cool. No panic.”

“I want my mommy,” one of the girls wailed.

Others joined her and a full fledged whimper fest started. Cody got to his feet and walked over to the children.

“I have a secret,” he said, his hands behind his back. “I can do a special magic trick, that no one else can do.”

“What trick can you do?” Tempest asked. “I wanna see your trick, Cody.”

The children joined her, demanding his trick.

“You have to sit down and stop crying. Then I’ll show you my trick.”

They did as they were told. Taking a wide legged stance, Cody held up his hands. He did the trick where it looked like he was sliding his thumb apart. The children were fascinated. The older ones knew it wasn’t magic, but they wanted to know how he did it.

When he was done, they insisted on something else. Cody started humming circus music. He held up his fists, dancing them around. Tapping them together, he held up one finger on his right hand, another tap, another finger. He did that three more times. Then he tapped them together, holding up one finger on the left, and one less on the right. The performance continued amid laughter and cheering, for several minutes.

The generator cycled on, the lights came on and everyone applauded Cody’s performance. The children gathered around him, hugging and tugging at his clothing. Eventually, he extracted himself, and went to talk to Marianna. She hugged his neck, kissing his cheek. Cody blushed, but put his arms around her.

“Dude, you totally rocked,” Kai told him a few minutes later.

Cody grinned, eyes downcast.

“You saved the day,” Kai continued.

“You would’ve thought of something.”

“No, I’m telling you, I was fresh out. That was classic.”

“I was so nervous,” Marianna said, leaning into the curve of Cody’s body, her arms around his waist. “You totally made me laugh. Can you show me how to do the broken thumb? I never got the hang of it.”

Kai suspected she could probably do it really well, but it made Cody feel important to have her ask. Some of the older kids came up asking him too, so he took them all aside to teach them.

Nina was on the phone with Brad. He’d called to make sure everyone was alright. She did fine until she told him about the lifeguard tower going through the window. She broke down again. Tempest and Paisley took her in the restroom, while Kai talked to Brad.

“I’ll call the insurance guy. This is crazy weather today. More strong winds expected. Is Nina okay?”

“It scared her. Jesus, Brad. If I hadn’t had one of my paranoid moments….”

“But you did, and acted on it. Never underestimate the paranoia factor, Son.”

Kai hung up a few minutes later. Tempy came out of the women’s restroom and tugged on his arm.

“Mom’s totally hysterical. Paisley asked if you have anything in your bag of tricks?”

He thought a moment, shaking his head. He didn’t have any narcotics. “I know where I can get something. She’s that bad?”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 52 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallCody gets upset because he knows that Paisley slept in with Kai. In order to distract his brother, he points out a girl who’s talking to Tempest.

“Stop being so damn dramatic. Hey, see that girl talking to Tempy? She’s your age, isn’t she?”

Cody partially hid behind his brother. “That’s Marianna Constance!”

“Is that good or bad?”

“Both. I’ve had a thing for her forever.”

“Ask her out!”

“Her brother is Eduardo Constance.”

“So? Ed’s a great guy. He did some work on my Jeep.”

“And he could break me in half with his little finger. Have you seen him? He’s jacked as hell! If I ever got half as ripped, I’d be a god.”

“Do you ever look in the mirror?”

“Huh?”

“Assessed how you look? Stand there naked, strike a pose?”

“No. That’s twisted.”

“Humor me sometime. Try it once. The full monty. Give it a look.”

“Why?” his brother sounded suspicious.

“Just trust me. And trust me on this, too. Go talk to the girl.”

“I don’t know if she even likes me!”

“She’s looked over here six times since she started talking to our sister.”

“So? She’s prolly lookin’ at you! Every girl looks at you first.”

“She’s not looking at me. Go.” Kai shoved his younger brother. “Ask her out.”

“What if she tells me no?”

“Then you smile, and talk to someone else. Dinner and a movie. Paisley and I will go too. Tonight after work. Or tomorrow. Go.” Kai shoved his brother.

Dragging his feet, Cody walked slowly over to where his sister was talking to Marianna. She smiled, playing with her hair as she arched her back Her breasts were round, firm and full. She had a narrow waist and slender hips that tapered into shapely legs. She was easily as pretty a girl as Paisley—and way younger than he ever would go out with, but she’d be perfect for his brother, if he could get over his fear.

Tempest introduced him and got him talking. She made it easy to converse with Marianna. When she found common ground for them, she gradually eased herself out of the conversation. Neither her brother, nor Marianna really noticed when she’d left. She came over to Kai with a grin.

“I’ve been trying to get them together forever! Marianna’s got a thing for him. She thinks he’s cute? Duh….”

“He is cute,” Paisley said, coming up behind them unexpectedly. “He’s even cuter than Kai.”

“Oh, thanks!”

“You’re not cute, you’re handsome. That’s what she means, dipshit,” Tempy replied.

“Oh, is that what you meant?” Kai pulled Paisley close, their hips touching.

“That’s exactly what I meant.”

“I think I’m going to be ill. Both my brothers are such horndogs!”

“Tempy, I told you, baby. All men are horndogs. Get used to it.”

“You can shut up now,” Tempy said as she walked away, flashing her palm at him.

“Someone’s got to talk to that girl about men,” Kai said. “She’s not gonna listen to me and Cody. Lots of guys are dicks. She needs to know that.”

“I’ll talk to her. I think she’s got a pretty good idea how to handle herself. Some of the guys were coming on to her, and she cut them off at the knees. It was quite remarkable. I was impressed.”

“I guess having two older brothers counts for something.” Kai looked proud.

“I came out to tell you that Thad called. He said your cell was off.”

Kai looked and it wasn’t off, it was dead.

“When they couldn’t reach you on your cell, the nurse called Thad. Amy woke up. She was asking for you.”

“Me? Really?”

Paisley smiled, taking his hand. “She remembered. You need to go see her when you can.”

“I’ll do that. I’m glad she’s okay.”

“Long way to go, yet, but at least she’s awake.”

“That’s awesome news.” Kai held Paisley close once more, kissing her.

As usual, when she was near, his body warmed to hers, and he lost himself in kissing her.

“Don’t you have a job to do?” his mother’s voice cut through the haze of lust that surrounded him.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said sheepishly, letting go of Paisley. “Sorry, Mom. See you on break,” he said, kissing Paisley’s hand.

He climbed his tower, fixing the umbrella so the sun wasn’t quite so strong on him. He was up there only a few minutes when the storm warning alarm went off, startling everyone. Kai stood on his tower, eyeing the sky. Dark clouds gathered to the west, moving fast toward them. He could see the lighting.

Blowing his whistle, he yelled. “You heard it! Everyone out of the pool! I mean it! Now!”

Only a few people dragged their feet. The rest responded immediately. Less than five minutes later, the swimmers were huddled on the pool deck.

“We need to get inside,” Kai said quietly. “I don’t like the look of that.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Fragrance Lingers ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestI am a big fan of first meetings they set the tone for the relationship—sometimes. Fortunately, for Mara Cross and Cole Bayard, their first meeting is a positive one. Mara hadn’t counted on having a vacation fling with a man she hardly knows, but there’s something special about Cole that she can’t quite put her finger on.

At the beach, Mara is doing her best to lose her mid-winter pallor. She’s got her fruity umbrella drink, her sunscreen and a few days worth of time to kill.

Mara tipped the chair up slightly and took out her book. It was a science fiction novel she’d been hoping to read for some time, but hadn’t gotten past the first few pages. She flipped back to the beginning and started reading. She was just getting into the story when a volleyball landed heavily in her lap, dropped to the ground beside her and knocked over her drink.

Mara looked up angrily and saw a man waving to her apologetically. He was medium height and build, with medium length, medium brown hair. He trotted up the beach, hand extended.

“I’m so sorry,” his tone was sincere with a hint of a Southern accent. “I guess my friend hit it harder than he needed to. We haven’t played in years, but he still thinks that he’s the king of the spike.”

He pointed down the beach to a short, squat, freckled, redheaded man in orange swim trunks. He looked embarrassed and his face was so red, it rivaled his hair.

“Sorry about that!” He called. He had a distinctive East Texas twang.

The man next to her picked up the volleyball in one hand. “Cole Bayard,” he extend the hand not holding the ball.

“Mara Cross. Who’s your pal?”

“He goes by Red Gilroy. Bet you can’t guess why.”

Mara chuckled, glancing at the man standing over her. He was better looking up close and had a firm chin and well toned physique. His navy blue swim trunks had big, white tropical flowers on them and rode low on his hips. What really caught her attention was the tattoo on his abdomen just below his navel.

All she could see were two brightly colored serpent’s heads intertwined, facing one another. She wondered how low the tattoo went below the level of his shorts. Shaking her head slightly, she realized he was speaking to her again. Blinking, she looked up at him, trying hard to focus.

“I’m sorry. I guess I’ve got a little jet lag.”

Cole grinned flashing even white teeth in his tanned face. “No problem, Miss Cross. I was just apologizing again for the volleyball. We didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“Not a problem. Call me Mara. Miss Cross sounds too much like work. I’m here to forget the office, not burrow deeper into it.”

Cole bounced the ball back and forth absently as if he were trying to make up his mind about something. “Mara, would you like to join Red and me for dinner?”

“Oh, well… I don’t know… It’s just….”

“I know, it’s abrupt, but we know some of the less traveled night spots. I’m here about six months out of the year and Red comes down fairly often. I sideline as a tour guide. It gives me something to do to take my mind off the office.” He said with a completely straight face.

“I’d like that, actually,” Mara decided. She was determined to enjoy herself. Dinner in a public place sounded harmless enough.

“Super! We’ll pick you up at six o’clock. Dress casually, the fancy spots are for tourists.” Grinning, he saluted her and ran back down to where Red was standing.

Cole moved with easy, unaffected grace, running effortlessly through the sand. When he got back to Red, he popped the ball hard over the net. It landed in his friend’s outstretched hands. Mara watched them play until they went back into the hotel together.

It was nearly one when Mara finally left the beach and went back to her room. A note had been slipped under her door. She opened it and grinned. It was covered in a sloppy scrawl.

“I continue to be sorry about the volleyball, but I’m very glad I met you. I look forward to dinner. Cole.”

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 51 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallAfter the incident at the high school, Kai wants to make love, but knows that Paisley isn’t ready.

As it was, he couldn’t do the former, and didn’t think he’d better try the latter in his mother’s house. She’d have his ass in a sling. He held no illusions about whether or not she’d know. He was certain she would.

But Paisley was ripe for the taking, her unsullied body lush, firm, beautiful…. Kai wanted her even more than usual, and knew he wouldn’t stop with a kiss. He could feel himself drawing closer, his body responding her her presence. The scent of her made him dizzy with lust. He flopped on his back, nearly falling off the bed.

“You’d better go, babe.”

“Do you really want me to?”

“No. I want to do naughty things, that will make my mother hate me for life. If you stay in here, I won’t be able to control myself.”

“I don’t want you to get in trouble,” she said softly, slipping out of the bed.

“Paisley?”

“Yes?”

“Promise me something.”

“What?”

“You won’t make me wait much longer.”

“I won’t. I promise. Good night. I love you,” she whispered.

“I love you, too.”

She slipped out the door, closing it quietly behind her.

Kai’s dreams were highly sexual. He woke shortly before his alarm was due to go off, embarrassed by his own desire. A long shower, and he felt better. He headed downstairs to find out that he was expected to lead class again.

“Let Tempy do it,” he begged. “Paisley can supervise and coach her. I wanna be in a position to deck the jerk if he gets mouthy. Besides, I felt like an idiot up there.”

“I’ll do it,” Tempest said, hopping up and down. “I’ll so do it! It would be fun!”

“Done,” their mother agreed. “They called a little while ago, and told me the power’s back on. How were things out at the high school?”

Kai gave them a short rundown on the situation while they ate breakfast.

“Wow, doesn’t sound like they’ll be able to start school on time. At least not there. I wonder what they’ll do.”

“They’ll figure something out, Mom. God forbid anyone miss five seconds of school,” Cody snarked as he finished his muffin.

They headed to work. Kai was much relieved that he didn’t have to teach class, and the gossips were missing. His mother explained that she’d made it quite clear that they were to keep their chatting somewhere else. It didn’t go over well with the gossip group, but everyone else was thrilled.

Tempest did incredibly well leading the class, with Paisley’s help. Kai watched her proudly, grinning as she called out the commands and hopped around on the deck. He hadn’t realized, until then, just how grown up she was. Several of the young men, who were hanging around, stared at her with more than a little interest. Kai glared at them when they looked his way.

“You have to keep an eye on her this year,” he said to Cody after the classes were over.

“I can’t babysit our sister,” Cody answered, annoyed.

“Well I certainly can’t!”

“Dude, she’s gotta grow up sometime! Sooner or later some guy’s gonna come along and….”

“Don’t say it. I know. Just so long as she waits a couple years.”

“The way those guys are staring? I give it a couple weeks, tops.”

“God, don’t say that!”

“Admit it, if she weren’t our sister, you’d see how hot she’s gotten. A girl that hot, when you were my age….”

“I’d have been in her pants so fast…. Oh, shit! Yuck! Is this how every brother feels, I wonder? Jeez, if we thought like this before hand, we’d never have sex—like ever!”

“Some of us still haven’t,” Cody replied, somewhat irritated. “There’s a good possibility that our little sister will lose her virginity before I do.”

“Yeah right. As many hot chicks as come hang out here?”

“You know I can’t talk to anyone. I get all tongue tied, then get this raging boner…. You know, that’s not really a big turn on for most women?”

“It is under the right circumstances,” Kai replied. “But yeah, not so much when you first meet. Which is why you pick well, and go for a slutty girl.”

“And imagine how her brother feels when he finds out the only reason you’re dating his sister is to….”

“Shut up! Cock block. I don’t need that.”

“Where’s Paisley?” Cody asked.

“Working the desk. Dana’s taking her class for her.”

“Spent anymore quality time in bed with her?”

Kai cut his eyes at his brother, wondering where the conversation was headed.

“No. I told you, Cody, we haven’t….”

“I know she was in your room last night. I heard you talking.”

“That’s all we were doing. I’m not stupid enough to make love to my girlfriend under our mother’s roof. She’d kill me.”

“Which one?”

“Both of them. Paisley would choke me. Mom would castrate me, and let me bleed out.”

“Charming idea. Somehow, I find that really intimidating. The vision of our mother whacking off testicles with a butcher knife…. I’m scarred for life!”

Love Takes a Swim Part 50 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai is working at the site of a tornado at the high school. He’s relieved that the storm hit before school stared—it could have been much worse.

They got back to the site to find that there were no more casualties. The people left behind, were sorting themselves out, figuring out how they were going to get home. Most had friends or family coming, and were arranging rides for those who needed them. Kai was pleased to see Ms. Harper in the middle of it all, organizing everything with a skill that never failed to amaze him.

“Oh, Kai!” she called when she saw him. “How’s Amy?”

The others stopped talking, listening to his reply.

“I don’t know for sure yet, but she was alive when I left her. I think she heard me. I talked to her the whole way. She squeezed my fingers when I said goodbye.”

“I need to call her mother,” Ms. Harper said. “She’s going to team teach with me this year. Her mother is a friend of mine.”

“Will they let us know when she can have visitors?” the principal asked.

Kai remembered Dr. Carney from his high school days

“You can call the hospital for that information. I just get them there, I don’t keep track of them after.”

Impulsively, Ms. Harper hugged him. That prompted the other women to hug him too. He’d never been so smothered by affection, as he was at that moment. They acted like he’d saved everyone single handedly. Despite his best efforts, they ignored everyone else and focused on Kai. He was finally able to extract himself and join his team.

“Dogs confirm that we got them all,” Thad said with a happy sigh. “Thank you, everyone. Fantastic job. I appreciate those of you who came in on your day off. We couldn’t have done this without you.” He shook all their hands, thanking them.

Kai headed home, dirty and exhausted. He stumbled into the house reeking of sweat, dirt and blood. His uniform went right into the wash and he climbed the stairs to his room two at a time. He didn’t bother turning on the light when he got to his room. Instead, he headed right to the bathroom, and took a long, hot, invigorating shower to get the stink off him. He scrubbed so hard, he thought he’d removed an entire layer of skin.

He grabbed boxers from the stack of clean clothing his mother had left on a chair and flopped on the bed. He connected with something soft and cuddly that went “Oof” when he lay on her. He rolled over and turned on the lamp.

“Paisley? What’re you doing here?”

“I wanted to see you as soon as you got in. Is everyone okay?”

Kai told her about Amy and the others, not going into much detail unless she asked.

“You’ll have to go by and see her tomorrow and check on her. That was a good thing you did, talking to her. I know that made her feel better.”

“I don’t know if she even heard me.”

“Part of her did. She wouldn’t have squeezed your fingers otherwise.”

“That could have been reflex, a coincidence.”

“You know it wasn’t.”

“I hope it wasn’t.”

“She was really special to you, wasn’t she?”

“I had a terrible crush for two years…. You have no idea how bad I wanted to take that girl and….”

“You wanted to make love to her. I get that. Believe me, I get that.” Paisley grinned, brushing his damp hair off his brow. “Why didn’t you ever ask her out?”

“I was kind of a goob,” he explained. “Tall, scrawny, gangly. Only place all the limbs moved right, was when I was in the water. Otherwise, I was clumsy as hell. Never much at other sports, cause I couldn’t make all the parts work together. Well, I was okay with one other activity…. But we won’t go into that.”

Paisley giggled, knowing exactly what he meant. He saw the tinge of a blush on her cheeks.

“Amy was captain of the women’s team. The captain of the men’s team made it pretty clear that he wanted her. He pissed on a few trees, and kept the rest of us away.”

“Pissed on trees?”

“Marked his territory.”

She nodded, flopping on her back. “So the rest of you kept clear. Did they date?”

“Not long. She didn’t like him much. He was a selfish, conceited prick. He was also bigger than me the first two years, so I didn’t stand up to him. I had a growth spurt between my sophomore and junior years. By that time, Amy was dating someone else….”

“You definitely need to go see her, and get that kiss you promised.”

“I don’t really need a kiss,” he said shyly. “I just said that to keep her going.”

“You need to give her that kiss. She’ll be expecting it.”

“She may not have heard me at all.”

“She heard. And she’ll want it.”

“How do you know?”

“Cause I would.” Paisley looked like she wanted one right then.

Kai wanted to kiss her badly, but wasn’t sure he’d be able to control himself if he did. The adrenaline surge he’d gotten while working, left him spent, but supercharged at the same time. After very stressful times, he always wanted sex. This time was no different. Normally, if he wasn’t dating someone, he’d have called one of his friends with benefits, for a late night booty call. Otherwise, he’d have dropped by to see whatever girl he was dating, for a satisfying night of stress relieving sex.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting The Ninja Tattoo ~ A Florida Families Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestNot every First Meeting is very long. Sometimes, the two people don’t even learn one another’s names. In this particular case, Teague and Vivica meet under less than stellar circumstances, but they don’t let that stop them.

Early morning sun set the sky on fire, glistening off the water, momentarily blinding him. He flipped down the visor then dug his sunglasses out of the glove compartment, sliding them up his nose with one hand. He’d chosen the scenic route to work just so he could enjoy the sunrise. The river looked like molten silver shot with gold strands. The sky was a cheerful blend of rose, lavender, azure, peach and plum. The sun peeping over the horizon was tinged with red, indicating the start of another scorcher. Hot weather was not unusual in Florida, but wasn’t the norm for early October.

Teague McMurtry waved to the few pedestrians out at this hour. He knew some of them slightly, since many of them were his neighbors. Working the odd hours he did, he rarely saw anyone. After moving a month ago to his small house on Riverside Drive, his neighbors had made a point of coming over to introduce themselves. It was by far the friendliest neighborhood he had ever lived in.

Needing his caffeine fix, Teague drove to the Dunkin’ Donuts before heading to his appointment. He flirted unashamedly with the older women there, teased the younger ones and got a handful of donut holes tossed in the bag when he wasn’t looking. It helped that he was six feet tall, jacked, broad shouldered, sun bleached blonde and tan. The married women drooled, the single ones propositioned him. He dropped a couple bucks change in the tip cup, blowing kisses to them he backed out the door.

“Ow!” A surprised female voice sounded behind him as the door met slight resistance.

“Oh, shit! I’m sorry!” Flustered, he turned around.

In her heels, she was nearly as tall as he was, dark haired, willowy, full busted. Her long, chestnut colored hair was loose around her shoulders, full and curly and damp. When she pushed up her sunglasses, dark green eyes smoldered.

“You always back out the door?”

“Just when I’m working the room,” he said. “I’m so sorry. You’re not hurt, are you? Can I buy you a coffee to apologize?”

She smirked, giving him the once over with her eyes. “I’ll have a caramel latte.”

He nodded toward the counter, holding the door with his hip as she walked past. Several other people frowned at him as they walked through. One old woman purposely stepped on his foot, glowering. She mumbled something, but Teague ignored her. He caught up with the young woman as she placed her order. Setting his coffee down, he dug in his pocket.

“My treat, Jenny,” he said to the woman at the register. “I nearly killed her with the door. Least I can do.”

“You’re getting dangerous, Teague. I keep telling you that,” Jenny said with a giggle. She was in her thirties, married and solidly built.

“Yeah…. Shit happens, right? Take good care of her. I gotta dash. Keep the change, Jenny. Nice running into you,” he said to the woman as he headed toward the door.

He could see her talking animatedly to Jenny as he headed toward his truck. He got his coffee and muffin secured, and pulled away slowly. If the woman had a notion to get his number, it was clearly emblazoned on the doors of his pickup.

© 2012 Dellani Oakes

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The Ninja Tattoo by Dellani Oakes - 200

Love Takes a Swim Part 49 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai gets called in to work. There’s been a tornado that has damaged the high school. Teachers were there for their meetings before school starts.

“Yes, sir.” He walked over to the woman, introducing himself. He recognized her as his senior English teacher.

Ms. Harper recognized him, greeting him by name. Kai was pleased she was lucid. They talked while he cleaned and put steri-strips on her wound. Fortunately, it was superficial. Others were being pulled out of the rubble who were more seriously hurt. He left Ms. Harper and went over to the fire fighters as they brought up a man with both legs and an arm broken.

More ambulance teams had joined them by now, and he worked alongside people he didn’t know. They got the man stabilized and ready for transport. He and the others worked for hours, taking five minute breaks here and there, to get a sip of water or a chance to wash their sweating faces.

“Found one!” The fire chief yelled. “You!” He pointed to Kai. “Tell me if she’s alive.”

Kai approached carefully. The area wasn’t very stable, so he watched his footing. She looked young, maybe his age, and she was dressed in a blue business suit. Her blonde hair was matted to her skull with blood. Her body was bruised almost beyond recognition, but he knew her. Her name was Amy, and she’d been on swim team with him. She’d graduated the year ahead of him, and had gone to school to be a teacher. He was terrified that she was dead, until he saw a shallow, labored breath. He checked her pulse. It was faint, thready, but there.

“Amy? Hey, baby, it’s Kai. Can you hear me?” He checked her pupils and didn’t like how they responded. “She’s a mess. Thad!” he yelled. “Got a bad one! I need you!”

His supervisor ran over, kneeling by the young woman while Kai told him what he’d observed.

“Let’s get a collar on her and ship her. Start me an IV, kid.”

They brought the battered body out on a backboard, with a collar to support her neck, and strapped her to the gurney.

“Go with her,” Thad told him. “It’ll be good if there’s a familiar face, if she comes to in the truck.”

“Yes, sir.” He kept talking to Amy as if she could hear him, reminding her of some of the silly things they’d done in school. “Hey, you remember that overnight we had in Tampa? Or was it St. Pete? We got drunk on that homemade hooch, and danced on the bed? Man, I thought you were the prettiest girl I’d ever seen. You don’t know how bad I wanted to….” He stopped talking, aware that the driver was listening. “I really wanted to kiss you bad, Amy. Don’t die on me, sweetheart. I want to collect on that kiss.”

He continued the non-stop babble, as the ambulance crested the bridge and turned left into the hospital parking lot. They pulled up at the door, and were greeted by the medical team. Kai gave report as they walked her in. When he was done, he squeezed Amy’s hand.

“They’re gonna take care of you now, darlin’. I’ll come by when I can, and see you. Remember, baby doll, I want that kiss.” With a final squeeze to her fingers, he started to take his hand away. Amy’s fingers tightened slightly on his and he smiled. “Hang in there, darlin’!” Kai called after her.

Kai hopped back in the ambulance, up front with the driver. He leaned back, hand pressed to the bridge of his nose as he fought down the emotions he had building inside him. He wanted to cry, instead, he prayed—for Amy and all the others, but mostly for her.

“You okay, man?” The driver, a man that Kai didn’t know, asked him. “She your girlfriend or something?”

“No. Ever have a girl in your past, you wished you’d been less of a dork, and just asked her the hell out when you had the chance?”

“Yeah,” he admitted.

“That was Amy. She’s my regrets girl.”

“Mine was Angelina,” the man replied. He was Latino, slightly older than Ka. “She was a goddess. Danced and sang like an angel…. She married a friend of mine because I didn’t have the cajones to ask her out.”

“I hear ya.”

“You did good, man. She’s gonna be okay.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“Been doing this job eight years. Never been wrong yet. Javier Constance,” he held out his hand while they were stopped for a light.

“Kai Marcelo.”

“Nice to meet you. Where you from?”

“Here. You?”

“Daytona. You been in the game long?”

“Not even a year.”

“First big emergency?”

“Other than a wreck, yeah.”

“Could’ve been worse. At least we ain’t lost nobody.”

“Thank God! Did they get everyone out?”

“Pretty sure, yeah. They got a dog checking now just to be sure. The principal had a list of the teachers at the meeting, and there were two or three office people there. Fortunately, school’s not in session yet. Can you imagine?”

Kai shuddered. “No, I can’t. My brother and sister are both in high school.”

“Yeah, it could’ve been a whole lot worse.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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