Archive | June 2020

Love Takes a Swim Part 70 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover small*CONTENT WARNING* This episode may not be appropriate for readers under 18.

Kai couldn’t believe how responsive Paisley was. Each thrust delighted her, each kiss made her sigh. Despite his prediction to the contrary, he was able to make it last. Being as gentle as he could be, he brought them to their climax, leaving them both panting and breathless. Afterward, he rolled to his side, carrying her with him. Paisley lay with her eyes closed, smiling happily.

“That was delicious!” she breathed. “Thank you!”

“Delicious? Well, thank you. I don’t think anyone has ever used that word to describe it before.”

“They should have. Because that’s what it is. Let’s do it again!” She kissed him deeply.

Kai grinned, holding her hips close to his. “Give me a few minutes. Got to give my brain a share of the blood supply for a few minutes.”

“Will you kiss me while we wait?”

How could he say no? Things were just starting to heat up when his phone buzzed. Hoping it wasn’t work, Kai reached for it. He had a text from one of Brill’s men.

Got a bogey on your six, Clevon said. Ottis is going to have a look.

Thanks. Taking Paisley to bathroom.

‘K.

Speaking quietly, Kai urged Paisley into her bathroom. It was an interior room with no window. He kept low and grabbed what clothing of theirs he could find. His shirt was missing, but that hardly mattered.

“Go in and lock the door,” he whispered.

“Come in with me!”

“Not yet. Please, babe.” Kai gave Paisley her cellphone. “I’ll let you know when it’s clear.”

She wouldn’t let him go until he kissed her. “You be safe!”

What do you see? he texted Ottis and Clevon. There was no response. In a slight panic, Kai sent a message to Brill.

On our way. Stay inside. I can’t see the guys.

Kai crouched in the dark room, feeling vulnerable. A sound at the window startled him. He crept closer, peering out the small slit between the drapes. He couldn’t see a thing, but didn’t dare move them further apart.

Something thumped and he thought he saw someone slam against the wall. He couldn’t tell if it was one of Brill’s men or not. Noises out front distracted him. It sounded like someone was kicking the door. He knew Brill’s men wouldn’t do that. Scuttling to the bedroom door, he locked it, glad that he’d closed it earlier.

With a loud crash, the front door banged open. Kai pressed the emergency call button on his phone and a police dispatcher answered.

“9-1-1. What’s your emergency?”

“Someone is breaking into our apartment,” he murmured, giving his name and address. “My girlfriend is locked in the bathroom. I’m in the bedroom. The door’s locked, but I heard someone break in the front door.”

“I’ve got a unit on the way. ETA, two minutes. Are you safe, Mr. Marcelo?”

“For the moment.”

Something thumped at the bedroom door. Kai knocked Paisley’s dresser over to block the door.

“They’re at the bedroom door,” he told this dispatcher. “We had some friends outside, but the bad guys are in the apartment.” There was no reason to be quiet any longer.

The door shook as someone hit it again. Kai wondered what was taking the person so long to get through. He must be hitting it with his shoulder. A good kick on the lock would have shattered the door jamb. The door shook again, this time splintering near the lock. Unfortunately, they’d thought of that too.

“Police!” someone called from out front.

There was scrambling. The thudding at the door stopped. The only way out of the apartment was through the front door or one of the windows. Their assailant was cornered. Shots rang out. Two more shots followed and bullets buried themselves in the wall outside the bedroom.

Paisley screamed his name.

“I’m okay. Stay put!”

There was a thud and the front door banged. Kai heard feet pounding along the walkway out front. Soon, the sounds of pursuit dwindled, the echoes of shouts following. Shaking, Kai sat on the floor. His phone buzzed, scaring him.

“Yes?”

“Mr. Marcelo, this is the police. Are you all right?”

“Yes, ma’am. Pretty shaken up. Are your officers okay?”

“Yes. They are in pursuit. Did you say you had friends outside?”

“Yes, ma’am. Are they okay?”

“I’ve got an ambulance rolling. Your friends are injured.”

“Is it safe for me to go out?”

“Why?”

“I’m a paramedic. I can help. Tell your folks I’m coming out.”

“Will do.”

Kai told Paisley he was going out. He found his shoes and grabbed some towels from the hall closet. His first responder gear was in his Jeep, but he couldn’t find the keys without turning on a light. He went slowly out the door, identifying himself.

A police officer led him to Ottis. He was bleeding from a head wound. Clevon lay a few feet away. He didn’t look good.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Granny Strikes Again by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestI love first meetings. They set the often set the stage for how the rest of the relationship will develop. Charlene Draper owns a small bookstore on Main Street. When she finds out that there’s going to be a sidewalk festival, she decides to hire a musician to draw traffic to her store. Communicating by e-mail, they hit it off. He invites her to come hear him play. This will be the first time they meet in person, and Charlie is nervous.

Suddenly taken by a fit of nerves, I sat there trying to breathe. I almost drove away, but knew I wouldn’t be able to face him later, if I chickened out now. Better to get the meeting over with. If it was going to be a complete failure, I’d rather not delay it and build up my hopes. I walked into the restaurant and waited to be seated. The teenage girl acting as hostess came over with a smile.

“Hi, I’m Charlene Draper.”

“You’re here for Dane. He told me you’d be coming. Follow me.”

She led me to a table near the small, improvised stage where several guitars were on stands. His amplifiers and a microphone took up most of the rest of the space. I waited a few minutes, sipping the tea I’d ordered, when I felt someone behind me. I turned around, seeing him for the first time.

Even though the pictures weren’t that clear, I recognized his hair. It was a little longer than in his photo, but those dark waves were unmistakable. He rushed forward, taking my hand.

“Hi, I’m Dane. You’re Charlene?”

“Charlie,” I said automatically. “Please, sit down.”

I had to remind him, he was just standing there holding my hand, staring at me. It made me kind of nervous.

His eyes were a deep, dark green, like the water at the springs near my home. I couldn’t take my eyes off his. He was so handsome, it made it hard to breathe for a second. And, praise be, he was taller than me!

“Wow,” he gasped as he sat down. “I had no idea.”

I didn’t follow him. “No idea?”

“That you were so incredibly….” His voice drifted off and his eyes sparkled.

“Tall?” I guessed. “Young? Blonde? Impertinent?”

He laughed, tossing his hair out of his eyes. “No, so beautiful. You don’t have a picture of yourself up at the site, just the store.”

I blushed as bright pink as the flowers on my dress. I hardly knew how to answer him. I mumbled a thank you.

“I’ve embarrassed you. I’m sorry.”

“No, I’m flattered. It’s just no man ever told me that before.”

“Are they blind?”

“Dumb rednecks.”

“You just described most of my family.” He shook his head in wonder. “They must be blind.”

“I think they’re just used to me.”

“I suppose.” He stared at me a minute. “I get off at ten. Do you have time to go out after?”

He’d caught me completely by surprise. I hardly knew what to say.

“I’ll understand if you can’t….”

“I’d like to. Very much.”

“Sweet! You like dancing?”

“I’m not a very good dancer,” I admitted shyly. “But I love music. Next to books, it’s what I love the most.”

“I’m the same way. To me, music and books go together like strawberries and whipped cream.”

A waitress came up at that point. I hadn’t even looked at the menu. Dane solved my problem by ordering for me.

“Bring us two of my usual, Rita. This is my friend, Charlie. Rita and Megan are sisters. Their dad owns the place.”

“Nice to meet you, Rita.”

I smiled, shaking her hand. She didn’t look very happy to see me, but I smiled again anyway. When she left, I looked at Dane for an explanation.

“She’d like me to ask her out. If she was over eighteen, I might think about it.”

“Or she wasn’t the boss’ daughter.”

“That too. She’s a little pissed at me at the moment.”

It was Megan who brought our meals with a smile. “Anything else you need?”

“We’re good, thanks, Meg. Anything that Charlie wants, it’s on my tab.”

“No problem. You’re on in thirty.”

“Thanks, Meg.”

We had a nice meal together, laughing a lot as we talked. Ten minutes before he had to go on, Dane kissed my hand, gazing into my eyes.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Love Takes a Swim Part 69 by Dellani Oakes

*CONTENT WARNING* This episode may not be appropriate for readers under 18.

Kai and Paisley talk about Ralph. He asks if she wants to try to talk to him.Love Takes a Swim cover small

“Not really. I mostly want to get him off my tail. He scares me. The fact he’s come so far for me, proves he’s not stable.”

“I thought maybe his beatings qualified him for psycho of the year.”

“There are worse things to do to a person than beat them,” Paisley replied. “And Ralph is a master at them all. His torture was mental—which is far worse, believe me. The beatings you get over. Bruises heal. The mind games, those last a whole lot longer. I still have nightmares where I’m tied up and can’t escape. In my dreams, he captures me again, holding me against my will.” She shuddered, snuggling close to Kai. “I would rather die, than be his prisoner again.”

“That won’t happen,” Kai assured her. “I know you probably want to stay at your place tonight. I brought a bag and I’m gonna sleep on the couch. You won’t be alone.”

“Oh, Kai!” Paisley flung herself in his arms, kissing him. “You don’t have to stay on the couch,” she whispered.

“Do you mean what I dearly hope you mean?”

Biting her lip, Paisley nodded. “I want to be with you, Kai. I want you to be my one and only lover.”

Though he was excited at the prospect of making love to Paisley, Kai gulped. He’d never been with a virgin before. All the medical knowledge he had, flew out the window when she kissed and touched him.

“I don’t have condoms,” he mumbled as she pulled his shirt off.

“I do. I bought some when I went to get the cookie supplies.”

Kai wanted to laugh, but managed to keep a lid on it. It struck him as funny that she bought brown sugar, flour and condoms It also, strangely, endeared her to him further.

Paisley led him to her room. He trailed behind her, not wanting to let go of her hand. The world had become strangely surreal in the last minute or two. He couldn’t explain how or why, but it certainly wasn’t unpleasant. Euphoria swelled through him, settling in his nether regions. It all flowed south so quickly, he felt slightly dizzy from blood loss to his brain.

They sat on the bed, kissing and undressing one another. Paisley’s shirt followed his. Their jeans dropped simultaneously. Kai stopped to admire her body.

“Flawless,” he whispered, touching her cheek. His fingers trailed down her throat, to her shoulder, and over to her left breast.

Barely touching her, he closed his eyes, letting his hands do the exploring. One caressed her breast, the other undid her bra. She let it slide off her shoulders, down her arms, to the floor. Kai felt the warm, sleek cloth land on his foot, and opened his eyes.

“Are you sure, Paisley?”

She reached for his boxers, slipping her hands in the waistband. She lowered them with agonizing slowness, easing them over his firm cock. Kai shivered as the elastic band rasped slightly on his skin. It felt so good having her touch him, knowing he could take this to the final, orgasmic conclusion. He allowed his hands and lips to explore her body, finally slipping her panties down over her magnificent ass.

Paisley shivered with excitement, growing bold with her own exploration. Her curious hands stroked his firm, hot cock, delighted when it jumped like a living thing against her palm.

“Oh, God,” Kai moaned. “Condom,” he mumbled, his mouth on her breast.

“Drawer,” she leaned over and pulled open the drawer beside the bed.

Not wanting to leave her embrace, Kai grabbed the box, quickly tearing it open. The condom packets spilled out, but he caught one. Ripping it open with his teeth, he struggled to roll it quickly on. Paisley assisted him, smoothing the thin material over him.

A groan escaped him.

“Did I hurt you?”

“God, no. Keep doing that,” he commanded.

She did as he asked, fondling him as he worked on her breasts. His hand moved to her thigh, teasing at her. Paisley didn’t realize she’d clamped her legs together until he touched her. She relaxed a little. Kai eased his hand between her thighs. She gasped, jumping when he touched her for the first time. A flood of moisture gushed across his fingers.

Kai smiled, stroking gently. “That feel okay?”

“Perfect!”

“It may hurt a little. You tell me if it’s too much, and I’ll stop.”

“Feels good—so far!”

“I promise, it gets even better.”

Lifting her easily, Kai laid her in the middle of the bed before spreading her legs further. Kneeling between them, he kissed her deeply before thrusting into her. Paisley squeaked when she felt him enter her body. Biting her lip, she resisted the urge to scream—not from pain, from excitement and pleasure. She tightened up on him. Kai stopped.

“Did I hurt you?”

“No. No,” she breathed. “Don’t stop.”

Sliding in the rest of the way, Kai stopped again, waiting for her muscles to relax a little. She was so incredibly tight, he wasn’t sure how long he could last. Her body held him in a sleek, hot vice that felt incredible.

Paisley bounced under him, begging him to continue. Experimentally, he raised his hips before thrusting slowly upward. She couldn’t stop another squeak, but she assured him with her movements that all was well.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Love Takes a Swim Part 68 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai finds out that Paisley spent the night at Brill’s, and is somewhat shocked. Then he picks her up, and finds out how much the gang leader has reformed.

“I always knew you had good in you,” Kai said with a smile. “Lianna, you’re a miracle worker.”

She patted her husband’s knee. “Nope, he did it all himself.”

“Cause she said she’d leave me if I didn’t straighten up. I couldn’t stand the idea of losing her.” Brill kissed his wife affectionately.

“I want to thank you both for taking Paisley in and watching out for her.”

“You’re welcome,” Brill replied.

Their conversation was interrupted by a piercing cry from a baby monitor. Lianna excused herself. Paisley went with her. When the door closed behind them, Brill leaned forward.

“Sushi says your boy is on the move. He’s seen all kinds of activity on the credit cards. He went up to Maine a couple weeks ago and he’s been working his way back down. He hasn’t hit on her location yet, but he will. Fortunately, Sushi is hella good, and is covering her tracks. Unless her ex has someone better, he won’t find her—yet. It’s just a matter of time, though. This guy is scary connected—at least his old man is.”

“Why doesn’t his dad put a stop to this?”

“Old man’s sick. He’s got MS or something. I don’t remember what. But he’s not in charge anymore, Lil Ralphie is. He’s a sick fk. Paisley told Li some of the shit that brute did to her. I see him first, I might have to kill him. And that’s not a threat, that’s a firm promise.”

“I don’t want his blood on your hands,” Kai said softly. “Your son doesn’t need a killer for a father.”

“Hell, he’s got one already. I’m no choir boy, Kai. I got here the hard way, and you know that. But that’s over. That ended as soon as I found out Li was pregnant. She wouldn’t marry me until I converted to legit business. She is, without doubt, the best woman in the world for me. And my son, he’s one cute little fk.”

The door opened and the women came back in. Paisley carried the baby. He was a very cute baby. He had big black lashed eyes and skin like creamy mocha. His hair was short and curly. He wore a UCF football jersey.

Brill rolled his eyes at his wife. “Dammit, baby. I gave you all the FSU stuff, so we wouldn’t be embarrassed in public.”

“When you change and dress him, you can put him in whatever you like,” she replied, tossing her head. “But I happen to like my alma mater.”

When he saw his father, the baby nearly hurled himself from Paisley’s arms. Brill caught him, tossing him in the air, catching him expertly. Lianna did her best to ignore it. Brill handed the baby over to Kai.

“This is Slick.”

“His real name is Henry, after my grandfather,” Lianna added. “But Brill calls him Slick. You don’t want to know why,” she confided in Paisley.

“Because of Brylcreem,” her husband persisted. “Because he’s my son and it was my cr—”

“Enough!” Lianna said, her caramel complexion reddening. “They get it.”

“A little dab’ll do ya,” Brill winked at Paisley.

“He has to say that—every time,” Lianna said. “It’s so gross.”

Kai laughed, tapping Brill’s knuckles. “Yeah, well that’s what passes for male humor, Lianna. We’re a crass bunch.”

“So, the men are helping you clean up your place?” Lianna abruptly changed the subject.

“Yes, whenever they’re ready,” Paisley said.

“Let’s go,” Brill said, taking the baby from Kai. He handed Slick to Lianna. “See you later, baby. You too, you cute little fk.” He bubbled the baby’s cheek, making the child gurgle happily.

“Language, Daddy,” Lianna complained.

“He’s eight months, babe. He doesn’t know fk from any other word.”

“Get in the habit now, because his little mind is a sponge. How would you like his kindergarten teacher to call us and tell us he’s the first child in the room to say—that word?”

Brill kissed her again. “I’ll try and behave, Mommy. Love you.”

Kai and Paisley rode to her apartment complex in his Jeep. Brill and some of his men followed in a convoy of SUVs. They descended on the building in a well dressed wave. Some of them started on Paisley’s place, the rest tapped on doors asking if her neighbors needed anything. Many of them were elderly, and needed strong backs to move furniture and clean up. The men pitched in, mopping, sweeping and toting damaged goods to the street for pickup.

At dinner time, Brill ordered pizza, and they all sat around outside Paisley’s apartment, eating pizza and drinking soft drinks. Kai couldn’t get over how very little like a gang these men appeared. A few years ago, they were stone-cold killers. Now, they were helping little old ladies clean their storm ravaged apartments. After their meal, the men picked up and headed back to Brill’s place. The electricity was on again in Paisley’s apartment, so she and Kai decided to stay there for awhile. A quick call reassured his mother that they were well.

“My mind is officially blown,” Kai said, making an exploding sound. “Who knew Brill was like that?”

“He’s a sweet man,” Paisley said. “He’s made some terrible mistakes and some bad choices, but he’s still a good man. Did he tell you that they are tracking Ralph?”

“Yes. Do you want to find him? Talk to him?”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Crippled by Love ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestI am a big fan of first meetings. These often set the tone for the relationship, and tell us a lot about how the couple will interact with one another later in the story. The meeting between Cynthia Marshall and Ian Yarrow doesn’t go well. Cynthia’s new to the society beat, covering for a colleague who’s out on medical leave. She’s been given the assignment of interviewing reclusive billionaire, Ian Yarrow.

The door slammed open and a very angry man, dressed in nothing but a glower and a pair of black silk boxers, frowned up at her from a streamlined wheelchair. Taken aback, Cynthia retreated and nearly fell off the porch. He grabbed her with a powerful hand, tugging her back on the porch.

“What?” he demanded.

“I-I’m Cyn-thia M-Marshall from the C-Clarion P-Post,” she grimaced at her own verbal errors. She’d hammered that stutter into oblivion years ago, but it came back in moments of high stress. Like now, when a gorgeous hunk of muscular, bronzed, hard bodied male in boxers yanked her nearly into his lap.

“The reporter, huh? Might have known you’d be early.”

“N-Not early, Mr. Yarrow. Actually, I’m—I’m a tad late. I had trouble finding the house. My GPS sent me in the opposite direction.”

He glared up at her, mouth a tight line, firm, well chiseled jaw working against his irritation.

“It’s cold out here, Miss Marshall, and I’m very nearly naked.”

He rolled back inside, holding the door partially closed so she had to squeeze past it. Full chested, she had to wriggle around the doorframe without catching her breasts or snagging Fiona’s sweater. He slammed the door behind her, the frown still present as he rolled toward an elevator at the end of the vaulted foyer.

Cynthia followed, unsure of where she was going or what she was supposed to be doing. The glower deepened as she stepped onto the lift with him, but he said nothing. The door of the cage slid shut behind her, tapping her on the rear.

“Why’s the paper so hot to do an article on me?”

His question, like everything else about him, caught her by surprise.

“I-I’m not certain, Mr. Yarrow. I was t-told to come here and interview you.”

“You gonna stutter like that the entire time?”

“S-Sorry. It comes on when I’m n-nervous.”

He leaned back, folding his hands in his lap. She caught the glimmer of a platinum ring on his pinky and another, more ornate one, on his thumb. There was no wedding band, though both rings were on his left hand. Since his hands lay just below the line of his boxers, she caught a good glimpse of the superb musculature of his chest and abs. A dusting of dusky, soft hair emphasized the well chiseled ridges.

A knowing smile twitched his full lips, his dark gray eyes taking in details of her physique. She was about 5’6″, full breasted, slender hipped and well toned. She worked hard at maintaining her figure and every inch of her bust line was real. Dressed in sleek black leggings and dark red turtle neck sweater with a black cashmere wrap, Stuart Weitzman boots and chunky jewelry of her own design, she thought she looked pretty good. Apparently Mr. Yarrow agreed with her. The smile grew—as did something a tad lower down—blatantly obvious given his lack of clothing.

Cynthia blushed, turning away. Yarrow laughed rather loudly. It was frightening in the confined space and Cynthia suddenly wished she’d brought the photographer with her after all. Since she was slated to have several sessions with Ian Yarrow, she’d opted to doing the first interview on her own to get a feel for him. She wasn’t sure she liked what she felt.

He rolled down the hallway toward an open bedroom door. She could see the unmade bed from the stairs only a few feet away. She hadn’t woken him—oh no, he’d had company. Thus the irritation and anger. Concealing a smile, she followed him.

“Gonna come in while I dress?”

“Oh, sorry. Of course not.”

“I mean, I don’t care. But unless you want to see more of me than is generally considered polite, you might want to wait there.”

“I apologize, Mr. Yarrow.” She stepped back from the door.

The tight lips returned. “Just Yarrow is fine. I don’t use my first name much, except with the women I take to bed. Having them scream Yarrow when they cum hasn’t got the same impact as Oh, Ian! You can quote that.” He winked up at her and rolled into the room, shutting the door in her face.

“Don’t we think a lot of ourselves?” she said more loudly than she’d meant to.

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Love Takes a Swim Part 67 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai’s shift is exhausting, but he cheers up once he gets a call from Paisley.

“Hey, baby.”

Trent got up quietly and left.

“Sorry I didn’t call you, it got crazy here. Then I slept like a dead man.”

“So Trent told me. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m shiny. Just tired. How did you like your first hurricane?”

“Not so much. I spent it at Brill’s.”

“What?” Kai stood, completely shocked.

“TM and Sushi came over. We were pretty well hunkered down, then the rain started. Water came in under the door and partially flooded my living room. We thought about going to TM’s place, but the road was blocked because of a downed line. Instead of risking it, he turned around and went to Brill’s. It’s like a fortress here.”

“You’re—still there?”

“Yes. It’s been a lot of fun. Everyone has been really sweet. Brill promised to teach me how to rap and shoot a pistol like a gangsta, yo.”

It took Kai a minute to realize she was teasing. “Funny. Tease the sleepy, horny boyfriend.”

“Lighten up, Marcelo,” she said with a giggle. “When are you coming home?”

“Soon. I’ve got the next few days off.”

“Great. Swing by and pick me up.”

“Not all of Brill’s guys like me, babe.”

“Brill says it’s cool. They won’t give you a hard time. Besides, he threatened to beat their asses if anyone upset me, so you’re safe.”

“That’s not a threat, babe. That’s a promise. He’d do it.”

“Brill’s a sweetheart.”

“Under an unbelievably hard exterior, yeah. I like him, don’t get me wrong—”

“Don’t worry. Get your unbelievably buff exterior over here. The guys are going to help me clean up at the apartment.”

“Okay. Let me get some more liquid sunshine in my veins, and I’ll be there.”

“Have I told you how hot and sexy you are?”

“Not today—not ever?” Kai was puzzled by her words. She’d never spoken to him like that. “I’ll see you soon, babe.”

“I miss you, Kai. I love you.”

“I love you too, Paisley. Bye.” He hung up. Putting his phone down, he clunked his head on the table.

Trent came in. He moved quietly around the kitchen. Kai heard a mug click beside him. He sat up. Trent had placed a fresh cup of coffee next to his cold one.

“Thanks. So, she rode out the storm with Brill Williams and his gang,” Kai said in a sunny tone before slurping his steaming coffee.

“No kidding? Wow. Isn’t he the head of the worst gang in the area?”

“He is. But he’s taken Paisley under his wing, so I have to be grateful for that. She baked him cookies.”

Trent rolled his eyes, trying hard not to laugh. He couldn’t help it. It burst from him like a damn breaking.

“That man has a rap sheet longer than the ladder truck, and she made him cookies?” He giggled and choked. “I’m picturing Brill dressed like Beaver Cleaver. Oh, my god.” Trent wiped his eyes. “Oh, my god.”

Kai left Trent gasping and sobbing with laughter. He got dressed and gathered his things together, said goodbye to Trent, who was still laughing, and left.

Brill’s place was rather like a fortress. He and his gang had taken over an old mattress factory, converting it to a massive complex. Though the exterior was shabby, the interior was luxurious. Kai had to give it to Brill, he had good taste, and spent his money where it counted. It was rumored that his girlfriend was an interior designer. Seeing the inside of the building, Kai had to admit that was probably true.

He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but it wasn’t what he saw. It was all very modern—lots of stainless steel and glass. There wasn’t loud rap booming. Instead, it was a Mozart symphony fluttering from hidden speakers. The floors were Mexican tile, the walls painted in subtle earth tones. Artwork, spotlighted by concealed lights, graced the walls. It put Kai in mind of a doctor’s house he’d visited once on a Christmas homes tour.

Kai mounted an open, concrete slab staircase. The banisters were painted a silky dove gray. The stair treads were covered in swatches of colorful carpet.

Brill and his girlfriend sat in the living room on butter soft leather furniture. Paisley sat next to them, admiring a picture on Brill’s phone. She jumped up when she saw Kai, rushing to him. She flung her arms around his neck, kissing him deeply.

“I missed you so much! Come see Brill and Lianna’s baby. He’s so adorable.”

“I didn’t know you had a baby,” Kai said. “Congratulations.”

“And she made an honest man of me,” Brill said, flashing a tasteful platinum wedding band. “Just shows what a man can do for the right woman, right baby?” He kissed his wife.

Kai’s expectations were further shattered when one of Brill’s homeboys came in carrying a tray with an insulated coffee carafe and delicate demitasse cups.

“I have to say, Brill, this isn’t what I expected.”

Lianna laughed. “Brill’s reputation has been well earned. Up until a couple years ago, every one of your expectations would have been right on the money.”

“I was a thug,” Brill admitted. “A hard assed criminal. Now, my boys and I are legit. We have an import/ export business that isn’t a front for drug running. The only weapons we ship are antiques, or reproductions, that are made in our factory downstairs.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Love Takes a Swim Part 66 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai is called to the scene of an accident where an old lady in a Smart Car has been blown off the road.

“What’s your name, sweetheart?” Kai called.

“Gladys Finster.”

“Well, Gladys, are you ready to come down? My friends would like to help you.”

“Yes. It’s not nearly as much fun now,” she admitted, frowning worriedly.

“They’re almost ready. Can you see the truck? A buddy of mine is going to come up with a cherry picker and help you out.”

“Why didn’t you come up like that?” Gladys asked after a glance at Trent in the cherry picker.

“Cause this way’s more fun. We gotta get our fun where we can take it, right?”

“Of course.” She managed a faint smile.

“You think Mitzi would come to me? I can carry her down.”

“She’s in her traveling bag. I imagine she’s a little testy at the moment.”

“She’s not gonna bite me, is she?”

“Well, she’s not usually a biter, but we aren’t usually up in the trees, either.”

Kai chuckled. “Can you reach her?”

“She’s right next to me on the seat.” She reached over and the car swayed dangerously.

“Hold up,” Kai warned. “Tell you what, you hold still. Let me tell my buddy that you’ve got Mitzi with you. He’ll get you both out.”

“Okay, dear. What’s your name?”

“My name is Kai, Gladys. It’s Hawaiian for water.”

Gladys smiled. “What a wonderful name. Do you have any pets?”

He shook his head. “Mom’s allergic. But I’m a big fan of dogs.” He radioed Trent, telling him about Gladys and Mitzi. “I’m gonna stay right here until Trent gets here. He’s gonna take Mitzi and then we’re gonna get you out of there.”

“Okay. Please hurry. This isn’t fun anymore.”

“We’re doing our best.”

Kai continued to talk to Gladys as the cherry picker maneuvered into position. Mitzi was safely extracted, then they began the slow process of getting Gladys out. Fortunately, she wasn’t badly hurt, merely shaken up. She was able to crawl across the seat into Trent’s arms. He lifted her free, hauling her carefully into the cherry picker.

The tiny car shuddered. The trees around it finally tired of supporting its weight, dropped it unceremoniously into the muddy puddle below. Kai was splashed, but he was already wet from the rain. The Smartcar made a sick, crunching noise when it landed.

Kai climbed down, returning to the truck. Gladys was pale, but her eyes were bright and alert. She held out her hand to him.

“Thank you,” she gasped. “Is my Mitzi all right?”

“I don’t know, Gladys, but I’ll find out. Meanwhile, we need to get you to the hospital.”

“Will you take me?”

“My pal is gonna drive. Is it okay if I sit back here with you?”

“I’d like that.”

“Cool. The police will see that the car is towed.”

The doors slammed on the ambulance and it lurched into motion. There was no need to run the siren, but the lights flashed as it lumbered onto the highway.

Kai chatted with Gladys as they road to the hospital. She was clear and lucid the entire way. He gave report as they wheeled her into the emergency room entrance. She smiled, kissed Kai’s cheek, bidding farewell as they took her to an examination room.

“How’s Mitzi?” Kai asked as he climbed back in the ambulance.

Trent wouldn’t look at him.

“No. She didn’t make it?”

“What’s left in that bag can’t even be identified as a dog anymore,” Trent said. “We’re dropping it at the vet like we promised. I’m not telling that sweet old lady that her precious dog is dead. Could you?”

“No, of course not. Makes me sad, though.”

“At least Gladys is okay. We can feel happy about that.”

“Yeah,” Kai agreed, but he didn’t really mean it. He knew how much that little dog meant to Gladys.

The rest of the shift was a blur of accidents and emergencies caused by the storm. Kai was bleary eyed when it was all over. He flopped on his bed, falling immediately asleep. Not even a siren, sounding on the next shift, woke him. Six hours later, he woke and bathed, wishing he’d taken time to do so before falling asleep. He’d slept in his clothing, but some considerate soul had removed his shoes and socks. Probably Cherise, that wasn’t the kind of thing any of the men would have thought to do.

“Feeling better?” Trent asked as Kai stumbled into the kitchen.

“Kinda. What time is it?”

“Nine a.m. You okay?”

“Yeah. No. I don’t know. Point me to coffee.”

Laughing, Trent handed him a cup. “Your girlfriend called a couple times to see how you were. I tried to wake you, but you were out cold.”

“Thanks. I’ll give her a call—in a minute.” Kai held the warm coffee mug to his forehead.

His phone rang. Surprised it still had a charge, he answered.

“Hi, handsome.” It was Paisley.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Blacksmith’s Heart ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestI am a big fan of first meetings. These often set the tone for the relationship, and tell us a lot about how the couple will interact with one another later in the story. Hana Sutherland wasn’t expecting to find love when she accompanied Great-Aunt Enid to the Lazy J Dude Ranch, but she hadn’t counted on meeting Jasper, either. With her new friend, Marnie, she is sitting on the rails of the corral as some of the young men put on an improvised rodeo.

Jasper rode a different horse from the others. It was black with a white blaze on the forehead. It bucked like a demon, spinning to the right as it jumped into the air. Howling like a banshee, Jasper hung on for eight and a half seconds before falling off.

The horse bucked a few seconds longer, then two of the young men grabbed him and calmed him down. Whickering and tossing his mane, he trotted from the corral.

Jasper dusted himself off, but instead of walking back to join the others, he came over to where Marnie and Hana were sitting. Grinning happily, he stopped and looked up at them. His eyes were an astonishing dark green, almost the color of his shirt. Hana’s heart fluttered again and she felt a blush rise up her throat as Jasper casually looked her over, eyes lingering on hers. An emerald sparkle lurked at the depths.

“Who’s your little friend, Mar?” He asked. His voice was a sweet, deep tenor that caressed Hana’s ears like luscious, warm honey.

“This is Hana, she’s new today. She came with her aunt.”

“Oh, Mrs. Parker’s great-niece, right?”

“That’s right. You know Auntie?”

Jasper chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck as if remembering a rather unpleasant experience. “Well, she’s been coming here since before I was born. Yeah, I know her. I know what it feels like to get rapped upside the head by her too.” He chuckled softly.

“Aunt Enid knows how to cuff a kid, that’s for sure!” Hana rubbed her own neck with the memory. “She grew up in the spare the rod and spoil the child era.”

Jasper tossed his dark hair out of his eyes, laughing happily. He had white, even teeth and full lips. Hana had to stop herself from staring until she realized he probably was used to being closely inspected by women. He carried himself with confidence and an air of nonchalance as if he hadn’t a care in the world.

“You two eating at the big house tonight?”

It was phrased offhandedly, but Hana suspected there was more to the question than he wanted to let on. Maybe he had a thing for Marnie? In which case, it sucked to be Hana, because of the available men, he was the one she was most attracted to.

Marnie looked at Hana. “So, you want to?”

“I’ll have to see what Auntie wants to do first, but I’d like to. Do I have to dress up?”

“Casual is great,” Marnie told her. “Some of the guests go all out with the cowboy theme. One guy dresses as Roy Rogers and his wife does the whole Dale Evans thing. It’s cute when they get up and sing their old songs with the karaoke. But you don’t have to do that much. You can show me what you’ve got, we’ll get you set.”

“Cool, thanks!” Hana turned to Jasper. “If my aunt hasn’t got other plans, I’ll be there.”

“Super!” He grinned happily, his green eyes sparkling. “I hope to see you there then. Seven o’clock,” He added as an afterthought. He swaggered off, dusting the seat of his pants with the brim of his hat.

“Oh, my God!” Hana couldn’t control herself another second. “Is he gorgeous or what?” She whispered excitedly to Marnie, hoping Jasper wouldn’t hear her.

“He’s a sweetheart too,” Marnie told her. “If I weren’t so wild about Jeff, I’d think about taking him for a spin. But I saw Jeff first and the brat stole my heart completely! I’m probably just attracted to him because he’s the only man who ever turned me down. Who knows?” She threw up her hands, rolling her eyes heavenward.

“Are those eyes for real? I mean he doesn’t wear colored contacts or something?”

“No! Totally, all Jasper! Come one, let’s go talk to your aunt and find something for you to wear.”

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Love Takes a Swim Part 65 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai drops Paisley at her apartment, before going to work. He’s uneasy about leaving her alone, and asks TM to check up on her.

“You got it. I’ll take Sushi with me. He wanted to give her an update on what he’s found. She’s right when she says that guy has linkage—his dad is so connected, it’s like a mega octopus. And shady? Wow, that old man’s an umbrella.”

“I’m really worried, TM.”

“Already on my way, brotha. I was on my way to Brill’s when you called.” Kai heard knuckles on wood. “Hey, babe. It’s me, TM. My man Kai’s on the phone. Wants to make sure you’re okay.”

Kai heard Paisley’s voice respond, but not her words. The door opened and closed.

“I’m gonna give Brill a call. We’re good, man. You worry about the job. We got this.”

“Thanks, TM. I feel better knowing you guys are there.” He paused, wanting to give a message to Paisley, but not sure he wanted to do it through an intermediary.

“Hold up a second. Lady wants to speak.” The phone exchanged hands.

“Hi,” Paisley said. “Thanks for sending TM over. I was starting to feel a little creeped out, even with Jarret and Eli outside. I saw you stop and chat, so I went out to see what cookies they like.”

Kai laughed. So like Paisley to do something like that.

“I miss you,” he said softly. “Hasn’t even been five minutes, and all I can think about is coming home to you.”

“You be safe. The weather channel is predicting flooding and high winds.”

“You should go back to the house. It’s a whole lot safer.”

A deep, male voice rumbled in the background.

“TM says if it gets bad, he’ll take me to his place. Sushi is on his way over, and Brill’s going to drop by for his cookies. TM’s gonna help me bake them.”

“Does he know that?”

“He’s whisking eggs as we speak. I love you.”

“I love you too. Be safe.”

“I’m safe and snug. You be safe.”

“Will do.” Reluctantly, he said goodbye and hung up as he pulled into the fire station parking lot.

Trent met him at the door, his face grave. “It’s gonna be worse than we thought. They predict high wind gusts, and massive amounts of rain. The entire county is preparing for the weather. We’re sandbagging the station and the recreation facility next door. Is the health club secure?”

“It’s as secure as we can make it with no windows on the pool house. We fenced it off and boarded things up. All the lounge chairs and such are locked up.”

“Good. One less worry.”

Kai stowed his gear and headed to the kitchen. He found Cherise there, slathering buns with mayonnaise.

“It’s subs tonight. I got all the stuff on my way in. I didn’t want us to be caught up short if a call came in. They’ve already got high water in DeBarry and the wind’s picking up in Deland. Should hit us in the next hour or so. They’ve got road advisories out. Wind gusts are bad.”

“Sounds like a fun night coming.”

“We’ve got everyone on standby. A bunch of the off duty personnel are here, or camping in the rec facility, preparing it as a shelter for families. Your folks okay?”

“Yeah. Brad made sure the house had a hurricane room built in. His family got caught in Andrew in Homestead. He hasn’t forgotten having the house come apart around them.”

“I bet not! And Paisley?”

“She’s at her place, but TM’s with her. He said he’d take her to his place if it got bad enough.”

“They should probably go right away. You contact them now. Don’t wait. If it gets bad, it could be too late.”

Kai made a quick call and told TM what Cherise had said.

“We’ll finish this batch up and head out. I don’t like what we’re seeing on the news. It’s already flooding—”

The alarm blared. Kai hung up without saying goodbye. Grabbing his sandwich, he raced to the vehicle with Cherise in his wake. He gobbled down the rest of his meal as they road to the scene of an accident on I-95. Wind gusts had caught a subcompact car, carrying it from the south bound lanes to the median. It lodged in a stand of huge pine trees, clutched ten feet off the ground in their unyielding embrace.

Kai volunteered to climb the nearest tree and check on the driver of the tiny Smartcar. He grabbed a pair of climbing cleats and a safety belt. Thus armed, he headed to a substantial tree, going slowly, until he was even with the windshield. Rain hammered against him, making him shiver. Water dripped from his rain gear, but had found the one gap in his coverings. Chilly droplets scurried down his spine and into the waist of his pants.

An elderly face smiled at him. He couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman, but the driver seemed fairly animated after such an experience. He gingerly made his way closer. The driver’s window rolled open smoothly.

“Are you all right?” Kai yelled. “Is anyone with you?”

“Just Mitzi, my Shih Tzu,” the woman replied. “My, that was exhilarating!”

Kai laughed, shaking his head. The wind guested again and the tiny car swayed precariously. The amused glee left the lady’s face.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Love Takes a Swim Part 64 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallAfter a long day cleaning up and meeting with the insurance adjuster, everyone is tired and turns in early. Paisley bids goodnight to Cody.

She smiled. “Thanks, Cody. He’s everything right about mine too. It’s going to be weird heading back to my place tomorrow.”

“Mom and Dad wouldn’t mind if you stayed,” he said. “You’re like family, you know. We all love you.”

“I love you guys too. It would be hard on Kai having me so close—and no privacy.”

“True. No alone time would suck a lot. Invite him to stay with you,” he murmured, leaning over conspiratorially. “Night, Pais.” He gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Paisley said goodnight and shut her door, leaning against it. Asking Kai to move in with her had appeal. However, it would raise certain expectations she wasn’t quite ready for. She cared deeply for him, even loved him, but she wasn’t sure she could make the physical commitment he wanted. Not yet.

Once she was ready for bed, Paisley lay in the dark, staring at the ceiling. Her mind eventually dove into the deep, fearsome chasm she had tried so hard to cover up. Finding out about TJ’s mother upset her. She hated to think that anyone had endured that kind of abuse for so many years. She hoped that they could help, and soon.

Troubled, she rolled to her side, but couldn’t get comfortable. She wanted Kai’s arms around her to keep the monsters at bay. She couldn’t keep waking him to watch over her like a little girl. Eventually, he’d get fed up with her being such a nuisance. She couldn’t bear the idea that he’d reject her. It didn’t occur to her that Kai would never treat her like that. Years of enduring Ralph’s jealous rages had blinded her to some of Kai’s best qualities. Eventually, she slept, but not well. Someone tapped on her door around 7:00. Tempest stuck her head around the door.

“Sorry to bother you, but Dad wondered if you’d be willing to step in for Mom today. He knows you can’t be on your feet for another day or so. And it’s easier to find someone to take classes than it is to find someone smart enough to do the office work.”

“Sure. Nina’s shown me some things already. Without the pool, it will be easier for me. Yeah.”

“Great! We’ll all be around, so we’ll all pitch in.”

“Thanks, Tempy. Let me get a quick shower and I’ll be down.”

“No problem. Take your time. We’re opening a little later today. We won’t start regular hours until Monday.”

“Okay.”

It was strange being in charge. Paisley wasn’t sure if she liked it or not, but found she was good at it. Brad dropped in around noon, bringing them lunch. He headed back to the house to be with Nina, promising a nice dinner when they got home.

The day went well. It was blissfully uneventful and went smoothly. Tired, but happy, the young people headed home. Brad had a good meal ready, so they sat down to dinner together.

Kai was a bit disappointed that he had to go to work with the EVAC that night. He’d wanted to spend time with Paisley, but didn’t feel right about asking for time off, when it wasn’t urgent. More bad weather was expected, as the storm made landfall on the northwest coast. They might not take a direct hit, but bad weather seemed to come on the lea side of the storm.

He’d wanted her to spend the night at his parents’ house, but Paisley felt they’d been more than generous. Reluctantly, Kai kissed her goodbye.

“I’ll call you before I go to bed,” he promised. “If it’s not too late, that is. I wish you were staying at Mom’s.”

“I’ll be fine. I have Brill and the guys watching over me. I’ll be okay.”

“Call if you need me. No matter what time it is.”

“Will do. You’d better get going.” She kissed him again, before closing the door.

Kai didn’t move until he heard the deadbolts and the chain. Slowly, he walked to his Jeep. He glimpsed a couple of Brill’s guys in a vintage GTO about halfway down the block. He stopped as he drove down the street. The driver lowered his window.

“Yo, Kai. We got your lady’s back,” the man assured him.

“Seen anyone around?”

“Thought we saw that freaky dude around again, the one from the picture, but he turned out to be the boyfriend of the building manager. Not seen her ex, though. Brill even put in a couple security cameras.”

“Really? He didn’t need to do all that.”

“He takes family seriously,” the man replied. “And to TM, you’re like family—so’s Paisley. We got this, dude. You get on to work.”

“How did you know?”

The young man chuckled. “Dude. White shirt, shiny name tag…. I’d have to be a moron not to figure it out.”

“I could be going home,” Kai said with a chuckle.

“No, man. Lady that pretty, if you weren’t working, you’d be all up in that.” He winked. “Go. We got this.”

Kai thanked them and left. He felt uneasy. Something didn’t sit right. Even with Brill and his men, he didn’t like how it felt. Trying to pass it off as paranoia, he called TM.

“Yeah, Kai. Sup?”

“Can you drop by and check on Paisley? Brill’s guys are watching, but I’d feel better if someone was there.”

“Yeah, sure. You think her ex is around?”

“I doubt he’d do anything himself. But he’s rich, connected. He could easily send someone to do it for him.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books