Archive | August 2021

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 21

Deacon grinned, watching Kacy rip into one of the electricians Dino had hired. She was going to make them all hate her or love her. He wasn’t sure she cared which as long, as they did what she told them.

“I’d better help that fella, Doc. He’s doing what I told him to do, and she’s going to burn him, if I don’t stop her.” He rose with difficulty, leaning on the chairs next to him. “Oi, Kacy!” He imitated her accent and inflection perfectly.

She turned around in mid-sentence, her face clouding with concern. “Deacon, what’s wrong?”

“Overdoing, ma’am. Listen, you want to jump someone, then jump me. Dexter is doing what I told him.”

She glanced up at the electrician, looking humbled. “I’m sorry. Obviously Mr. Stewart and I got our wires crossed.” She grinned at the unintentional pun. “May I see you in your office, Mr. Stewart? We need to finalize the plans, so they can be copied.”

“Ms. Du Champs?” Dexter called as they were leaving. “What is it you want me to do? Your way or his?”

“Her way, Dexter,” Deacon told him. “She’s in charge of lights. I’m just the token gimp.”

“Yes, sir, Mr. Stewart!” Chuckling, Dexter went back to work, taking apart what he had already done.

Leaning on Kacy, but trying not to show it, Deacon hobbled to his office, which was closer than hers. She found an old stool to go with the ancient chair, and made him comfortable. Kissing him gently, she perched on the edge of the desk.

“You rescued that poor man, didn’t you? I’m still being beastly. I’m so sorry.” She wouldn’t look at him, hanging her head in shame.

“No, you were doing your job. I told him wrong. Feel free to correct him. Just tell him I messed up, you chewed me out, and you want it done differently. They don’t disrespect you, Kacy, they’re just scared to death of you.” He smiled to soften the reprimand.

“I’ll do that, but you sit there, and don’t move. I’ll grab the plans on my way back. We do need to finalize, so construction can begin.”

“I’ve got the guys rigging basic flats and platforms. The old stuff is all eaten up by bugs, or so mildewed that it can’t be used. I’ll have the college kids top them and put the canvas on the flats. They’re coming in tomorrow. Oh, got you something.”

She looked at him expectantly. He handed her a key and pointed across the hall to a large storage room. “Go ahead, open it.”

Curious despite herself, she hopped up and opened the door. Her cries of delight pleased him. He’d just received the shipment of all the theater lights. The other ones were past repair. He and Dino didn’t want to risk other injury.

Dancing with glee, she ran back into his office, hopping onto his lap before she remembered he was injured. A sharp intake of breath, and she jumped up as if he’d bitten her.

“Oh, Deacon, I’ve done it again! Bloody hell!”

He laughed despite the discomfort. “I’m fine, Kacy. Sit down, gently this time, eh?”

She seated herself on his lap with caution, kissing him lightly on the lips. “I’ll thank you properly once we get home.”

“Dino paid for it, you going to thank him properly, too?”

He winked and she smacked him playfully on the cheek. It stung a little, but not badly. It had been a subtle reprimand, as well.

“He’s like a brother to me, Deacon.” She didn’t add that he had been Pete’s closest friend. Deacon could see it in her eyes.

“He’s a hell of a guy, isn’t he?” he replied more diplomatically.

“Yes, he is. I’ve more to thank him for than just the lights.”

“Oh, what’s that, you figure?”

“I’ve not properly thanked him for you. Let me ask you something, don’t take this wrong, please.”

“Whenever a woman prefaces a comment like that, it makes me nervous. Ask away, whether or not I answer, is up to me.”

She nodded, agreeing to the condition. “Did Dino know, about you, when he hired you?”

“I was hired sight unseen, based on Bernie’s recommendation. I guess they knew one another as kids, or something.”

She giggled, throwing her head back happily, nearly tipping the chair over.

“You don’t know, do you? Bernie is Dino’s cousin!”

“I had no idea. Do you know Bernie?”

Her smile faded a little. “Bernie and Maxine were attendants at our wedding.”

He saw the direction her thoughts were going before she spoke. He wondered if he should defend himself, or if he was out of the immediate line of fire.

Dino never saw you, but Bernie has known you for years. That swine. I’ll kill him!” She whipped out her cell phone, dialing Bernie’s number with unmatched fury. “I’ll roast him! I’ll cut off his balls and use them for a gOba! He set me up!”

“What are you doing?” He wrested the phone from her gently. “Kacy, what’s wrong.”

“He knew, don’t you see? He knew about you and Pete!”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

For More About Dellani

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 20

“Call him, and I’ll try to stall.”

Mac nodded and walked purposefully away to use the phone. Deacon headed out to the vestibule and put on his broadest, most sincere smile, extending his hand.

“Mr…? I’m sorry, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.”

He laid the Southern accent on thick. Like butter on a hog’s belly, his acting coach at Carnegie-Mellon had told him once.

“Mr. Irving, I’m a city inspector.” The older man looked grumpy and out of sorts.

“Deacon Stewart, I’m the technical director. You already met my foreman I believe?”

“Yeah, we’ve met.”

He sounded so uncongenial, Deacon guessed Mac and he had gone the rounds of hostility.

“He said you had a problem with our shed? I wasn’t aware I needed a permit for something to be erected in the parking lot. That being the case, I’ll certainly apply for one, and stop work on it immediately. Can you issue a temporary permit?”

Taken aback by the friendly attitude, Mr. Irving stopped blustering and thought that through. He was unused to people cooperating with him.

“You’ll still have to apply for the permit. I see no reason why it should be a problem.”

“Again, I apologize. We were unaware of the new rules, and thank you for straightening us out. Are the rest of our permits in order?”

Irving looked annoyed as if he’d dearly love to find a problem with something, but it was all correct. Right about that time Dino pulled up in his SUV. He hopped out of the door in his racquetball outfit, glittering with perspiration. His grin was artificial and insincere, to anyone who knew him well. To Mr. Irving, it was just the opposite.

“Mr. Irving! I’m sorry to keep you waiting, my secretary was a little remiss in passing on your message.”

“I didn’t call, Mr. Sawyer.” Irving looked embarrassed.

“Really?” He feigned puzzlement. “Deacon, were you aware Mr. Irving was coming by, so we could greet him properly?”

“No, sir. Was a surprise to me. I’m afraid we kept him waiting. Mr. Irving, may I get you some coffee?”

“Not to worry,” it was Kacy carrying a China tea service from the props. It had been hastily washed and prepared, Deacon hid a smile. “I just made a fresh pot. Nice and hot, Mr. Irving. That’s a lovely name. My grandpa’s first name was Irving. What’s your first name?” She was being coy and charming. Deacon could have kissed her on the spot.

“William.”

“William! Oh, la! My daddy’s name is William! Such a fine upstanding name! May I call you William?”

“Certainly, Miss?”

“Oh, silly me! Miss Du Champs, but you may call me Hillary.”

She continued to charm Mr. William Irving for the next fifteen minutes, at the end of which time, he no longer required a permit for the shed, and said he’d be sure to stop by later in the week to see how far they had gotten.

“Do let me know in advance, won’t you? I’ll make more coffee and maybe a few of those lovely tea cakes, my mum taught me to bake, when I was a girl.” She batted her eyelashes and behaved in a most abominable fashion, but it served its purpose, to rid them of William Irving’s presence.

As he was taking his leave, Mr. Irving took her hand gently in his and kissed it. “Delighted to meet you, Hillary. Au revoir.”

“Farewell, parting is such sweet sorrow.” She waved from the door until he was gone and turned around to gauge her performance with the others. “Well?”

Dino raised an eyebrow. “I am not sure how Mr. Irving contained himself, Kacy. That was the most subtly provocative performance, it has ever been my privilege to witness.”

“It sure was! Is your daddy’s name really William?” Deacon asked.

“Of course not,” she giggled. “His name’s Geoffrey. The dog’s name is William.”

Dino was still laughing as he drove away.

Deacon added softly, when Dino had gone. “God, that made me hot, Kacy. I can’t wait to get you home.”

Blushing, she took the coffee things away to clean them.

The rest of the day was predictable chaos, but manageable enough not to be too infuriating. Deacon’s leg was on fire by the end of the day; swollen, the skin drawn tight. Dr. Cooper, who dropped by after auditions, saw him limping and made him sit down in the nearest chair.

“You’re overdoing it, young man. What did I tell you to do?”

“You said take aspirin and keep off it.”

Coop looked at him levelly. He didn’t have to speak his reprimand.

“The aspirin I remembered.” Deacon took a bottle out of his pocket and showed it to the doctor.

“Keeping off it, was also part of the treatment. Aside from wandering around here all day, and doing more than you should, I hesitate to ask what else you’ve been up to.” He winked, with a sidelong glance at Kacy who had just walked in the door. “Fine looking lady, though a bit of a temper.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

For More About Dellani

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 19

Kacy raised an eyebrow. “He?”

“My old pal Dick.” Deacon laughed at her shocked expression.

“I see. I never heard it put quite that way before.”

Deacon held out his arms to her again, sitting on the edge of the bed, supporting his sore leg on a pillow. “Well, my first girlfriend called him Mr. Sparky, but that’s kind of juvenile.”

Kacy tossed her hair, giving him a coy look. “Oh, I dunno. Sparky seems pretty appropriate to me. I am a lighting designer, after all.”

“That’s very true. Appropriate since that’s what sparked your interest.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” She tried to look innocent.

“Admit it, when we saw each other naked, that’s when you started having naughty thoughts about me.”

“Well, that might have had a little something to do with it.”

“Little? Little she says! My dear, I have you know that there is nothing little about it!”

His kiss stopped all further comment, but she had to agree he was right.

Tuesday morning, Deacon was on the phone for hours trying to arrange lumber, canvas, paint, hardware and tools to be delivered the next day. Since none of the wholesalers knew him, they were giving him a hard time, making excuses about why delivery couldn’t be made on time. The foreman of the construction crew saw the problems he was having and asked for the phone.

“Lemme, talk to him, Mr. Stewart. I know these assholes.”

Deacon gladly handed the phone over. Mac, the foreman, made it clear that delivery would be when Mr. Stewart said, or he would no longer do business with them. Not only would Mr. Stewart not do business, Mac himself, and Mr. Sawyer would no longer do business. Was that clear? Deacon had to admire the man’s moxie. He had a strong New York accent, that Deacon placed as Brooklyn. Deacon thanked him after he got off the phone.

“You betcha! You just got to know how to talk to the guys down here, Mr. Stewart. Up home, it’s a whole different finesse, have to sweet talk ’em a little. Down here, you refuse them your patronage, let them know you’ll tell all your friends in the business, and drop a few important names and badabing!” Snapping his fingers, he laughed so heartily, Deacon had to join in.

“You have the job from now on, of calling the suppliers, that okay with you?”

“Part of my job, Mr. Stewart.”

“Call me Deacon. Let’s get this party started.”

He listed the first five tasks needing completion and was impressed at how Mac divided his workers and got them all started.

“There’s a list beside the back door over there, when that stuff’s done, just check it. It’s mostly in order, but if I’ve gotten out of sequence, correct it as you go. Find me if you have any questions. You good to go?”

Mac grinned broadly and saluted, his craggy, suntanned face nearly cracking in two. “We got it under control, Deacon. Go be creative.”

They had set up an improvised shop in the large backstage area of the theater. The electrical equipment was housed there, so they could continue to work even if it rained. A tarp had been erected outside to cover the building materials, and a shed was being set up to put it all in so it wouldn’t get stolen.

“Theft from construction sites is bad down here. I don’t think Mr. Sawyer would appreciate buying this stuff two, three times,” Mac said.

“No, it would annoy him,” Deacon replied absently. He laughed loudly for a moment while Mac looked at him. “I just had this mental image of Dino squatting on the two by fours, with a rifle across his knees, guarding the stash.”

He and Mac chuckled as they stood outside on the back porch smoking cigarettes. A few other workers were also there, chatting a while on a short break.

“While I’m thinking of it, Mac. No one smokes inside. I’ve got cans of sand outside each door, butts go in there, not on the ground. This place is old enough to go up like a torch. Pass the word. Clear?” He directed his comments to the gathered workers.

“Yes, sir, Mr. Stewart.” They obediently ground out their butts in the can and went back to work.

Deacon stood on the porch, finishing his cigarette, enjoying a quiet moment.

“Mr. Stewart!” It was Mac’s voice.

Puzzled by the sudden formality, Deacon turned around. Mac didn’t look happy at all.

“Coming. What’s up, Mac?”

The older man looked agitated. “Some asshole from downtown, he’s bitching about our permits. I posted the damn things and showed them to him all nice and pretty, and he’s not satisfied. Apparently, a new ordinance, I was unaware of, we have to have one to erect that damn shed back there, and he’s fussing.”

“Dino around?”

“No, or I’d have him sweet talk the guy, if you know what I mean?”

Deacon did. He knew there was graft on every level of every bureaucracy.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

For More About Dellani

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 18

He went into some detail, knowing Bernie’s meticulous mind would help him find the solutions he needed. By the end of the conversation, he had ideas written out and a rough design on paper.

“I gotta get into the shop, Deac. Some shit going on out there and I hear arguing.”

“Probably Lily and Steve. Tell them I said go shag each other, and mellow out. I always wanted to tell them that. Call me tomorrow, give Maxi my love.”

He hung up, amazed that he didn’t miss the shop, the arguments, or the suppressed anger permeating all their actions.

He heard the jingle of keys and the front door opened and shut followed by the click of heels on the tile floor. Kacy stood in the living room with a handful of bags she dropped on the couch. Her face lit up when she saw him hobble out of the office.

“Hiya!” He grinned, limping over to kiss her. She met him halfway, arms wide open.

“You look terrific,” he said honestly.

Her face was all smiles, her eyes glowing with happiness. He liked to hope he was at least partially responsible for the changes in her.

“Come see what I bought for you!”

He allowed her to lead him to the couch where she made him comfortable before opening her bags. The first was small, and inside was a jewelry box.

“You got me an engagement ring?” he pretended to be giggly and excited.

She bopped him on the head with a throw pillow. “No, silly. Open it! I went to the flea market and found this precious little kiosk in the middle of the aisle. They had all kinds of stuff like that. Open it!”

She was ready to grab the box away and open it herself, so he quit teasing and flipped back the lid. Inside were ear plugs, the same color as his eyes.

“These are fantastic! What are they made out of?”

“The guy said some sort of poly-resin crap, who cares? They don’t chip, break, flake or crack. Guaranteed for life.”

He popped the enameled ones out of his ears and put hers in.

“They’re great, Kacy. Thank you. Makes me wish I had something to give you.”

She kissed him passionately. “You have already given me the best gift in the world. You gave me my life back, Deacon Phineas Stewart.”

He drew her into a powerful embrace, pulling her onto the couch with him. She stayed a few minutes then stood, leading him to her room again and he tugged her the other way to the master suite.

They were half undressed when the phone rang. “Dammit!” He limped to the night stand and picked up. “Yeah?”

“Is that any way to talk to me?”

“Frieda? I told you not to call back.”

“This is a courtesy call, Deacon, to let you know I’ve consulted a lawyer, and I am taking you to court for palimony.”

He looked at the phone in disbelief. “Pali- what? Frieda, you left me. If anything, I should charge you for my hospital stay.” He hung up, hurling the phone across the room. “I’m going to kill Bernie for giving her this number!”

“That’s the ex?” her tone was chilly.

“Not ex enough! She wants to sue me for palimony, like I’ve got anything to split!”

“I thought you said she was out of your life. Didn’t she leave you?”

“She called a few hours ago, my dumbass partner gave her the number. She wanted me to move out there, which really means she wants money to live on. I don’t want her back, Kacy.” He saw the look of sorrow on her face once more.

“You’re sure?”

“Never been more sure of anything in my entire life.”

She moved into his arms, kissing him with abandon. The phone rang again. He tried to ignore it, but the caller didn’t hang up.

“What?” he bellowed into the phone. “Bernie, I’m a little busy!” His friend spoke rapidly for a few minutes and Deacon’s frown deepened to a glower. “Thanks for letting me know.” He hung up without a goodbye.

“More good news?”

“Frieda froze all my assets. How the hell can she do that? She’s hiring a private firm to audit me to see what I’m worth, can you beat that?”

“She’s successfully killed the mood, hasn’t she?” Kacy didn’t look angry, just disappointed.

“Killed it good and dead, dammit!”

“Why did you ever take up with a vindictive bitch like that?”

“Sex,” he answered absently. “She was the rebound girl, and I was the rebound guy. We’d both ended really bad relationships, and got together at a party. The sex was fantastic, so we stayed together.”

She opened her mouth to protest and he held up a hand.

“I know. Bad idea. I wasn’t thinking with my brain in those days.” He looked down at his boxer shorts. “Not the first mess he’s gotten me into.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

For More About Dellani

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 17

“I take it you refer to their chests, not their intelligence?”

“You could put it that way. I’m pretty sure that Dr. and Mrs. Cooper are going to be the Lathrops. They are just too funny! The rest of the cast is kind of up in the air right now. I do hope they don’t give me a blonde to light.”

“And what’s wrong with blonds?” his tone scolding, he teased her, knowing what her response would likely be.

“If I put a blue light on a brunette’s hair, it still looks brown. Red light, same thing. You light a blonde, and they take on this halo effect and instant Bozo hair, it’s ludicrous!” They both laughed for a moment, basking in the sound. “How’s the leg?”

“Waiting for you to come rub it,” he said, without really thinking.

“Is that all needs rubbing?” her response was quick and calculated.

Deacon felt himself responding to the gibe and the invitation. “I’ll let you decide that when you get home,” he said and proceeded to fill in the gaps, his monologue becoming more and more explicit.

“I like the sound of that,” she murmured.

“You alone?”

Kacy giggled lightly. “Not exactly.”

He groaned inwardly.

“You’ve kept me quite entertained though, and I appreciate the offer. You had some interesting suggestions, I have to admit.”

He made several more before he hung up, grinning like a fool again. Had he ever been this happy? He couldn’t remember ever in his life feeling this way. Growing up in small town, Alabama foster homes, practically living out of a suitcase all his life, he hadn’t had a chance to settle down or be really contented anywhere.

He never was wanted for who he was, just tolerated because the foster family got money to house him. He was part of a paycheck, a necessary evil for which they were meagerly compensated. Instead of becoming a bad boy like so many others, he turned inward, drawing on his creativity to help him through the hard times.

Joining the Thespians in high school, he found an outlet, a chance to be someone else for a short time. Acting was wonderful, but his shyness made performing before an audience larger than his class, impossible. He took on the job of designing and building sets. By his sophomore year he knew more about set design than his teacher.

God bless, Mrs. Rooney, he thought, wondering if she was still teaching. She was the one who had given him all the letters of recommendation, written old college friends, and gotten him accepted in Carnegie-Mellon University, in one of the best theater programs in the country.

He met Bernie and his wife there. After graduation, the three of them started a scene design company on a shoestring budget, promises and raw talent. Now, ten years later, they were one of the most sought after companies in the business. Their success was largely due to Deacon’s creativity.

The last couple of years, he’d been churning things out by habit, hardly paying attention to what he was doing. He latched onto the cocaine because with it he could work without sleep, double his output and forget about how miserable he was. The best thing Frieda could have done was dump him. She set him free.

Picking up the phone, he decided to call Bernie and bring him up to date. A few short rings and his friend answered his cell phone, a clipped, New Jersey accent, which always amused Deacon whose Southern drawl wasn’t all put on.

“Hiya, short man, how goes?”

“Deac? That you, buddy? Good to hear your voice!” He heard Bernie talking to his wife in the background. “It’s Deacon! So tell me, fly boy, how are things in Florida?”

“Not too bad. Not bad at all in fact.”

“You met someone!” This was Maxine, who must be listening in. “I knew it!” Sounds of fighting over the phone and she came in more clearly. “So, what’s she like? Are you crazy about her?”

“I met someone, she’s terrific, a redhead like you. And yeah, I’m crazy about her.”

“That was fast,” he heard Bernie exclaiming, his voice sounding hollow. “You’ve been there what, a week?”

“Less. About five days. I always was a fast worker, Bernie. You were the slow poke.”

“There’s something to be said for slow, ask Maxi!”

She dropped her voice, pretending to be secretive. “Don’t let him fool you, slower is not always better. So what’s her name? Anyone I know?”

“Kacy. It’s possible, her professional name is Hillary Du Champs.”

“Oh, my God! Bernie, he met Hillary Du Champs! He’s schtuping Hillary Du Champs! You are, right?”

“That would be telling. A gentleman never tells, Maxi.”

“Oh, you’re insufferable! Take the phone, Bernard, I’m done trying to get any gossip out of that man!”

“So how’s Dino? Is the theater coming together okay?”

“Dino’s great and the theater needs Divine Intervention, Bernie. It’s a walking disaster, but with a little luck, and some hard work, it will come together. I’m redoing the set now, it was pretty bad. I know Dino was into using it, but Kacy will kill me if I keep the old plans. They’re nearly impossible to light!”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

For More About Dellani

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 16

“It’s Deacon. Speak.”

“Deacon, hi!” the screeching Queens accent was distinctive.

“Frieda? How did you get this number?”

“Aren’t you happy to hear from me? Bernie gave me the number.” Her voice turned pouty, he could picture her bleached blonde curls and duck face with artificially full lips. She was using the whine he had once thought was so endearing.

“I’ll have to talk to him about that. What do you want, Frieda?” His voice grew harsh, cold with controlled anger.

“Deacy, why are you talking to me like that? Aren’t you happy to hear from me?”

“Not especially. Am I supposed to forget the way you left me? I guess my feelings don’t matter, is that it?”

“Deacy, I’m sorry. I just had that job and I didn’t want you to say no! I called to see if you want to join me out here.”

“Don’t call me Deacy. And no.”

“Deacy…Deacon, I thought we meant something to each other.”

“No, Frieda, we meant nothing to one another. What we were together was a mistake. A big and really grotesque error in judgment. Not that the sex wasn’t great for a while, but even that got boring. I’ve moved on. You forced me to.”

“Deacon Stewart, I can’t believe you are talking to me like this!”

“Believe it, Frieda! I got worked enough in the hospital, I don’t need you trying to screw me over again. Just hang up and forget you have this number, do you hear me?”

“I hear you, Deacon! You haven’t heard the last from me!”

“Yes, I have.” He hung up.

The phone rang again, but he didn’t answer it. It rang for nearly five minutes, but he unplugged the extension and went back to work. After he made a series of stupid mistakes he should never have done, he put the tools away and decided to go for a walk on the beach. He really wanted a beer, but he’d been following Dr. Cooper’s instructions. He thought a slow walk couldn’t hurt though.

Taking his cane, and the spare house keys, he walked out the back door and onto the sand. Dino’s main house was just south, a huge spread nearly twice the size of the guest house. The guest house alone was easily three times larger than Deacon’s apartment in the City. Both houses were painted white with ocean blue tile roofs. It wouldn’t have been within Deacon’s price range, not even if he tripled his current income.

He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, exhaling as he walked down the steps. The tide was low, and seaweed littered the beach in places, smelling old and fishy. He stepped over it carefully, heading to the edge of the water, passing people walking, jogging or riding bikes. He felt a sense of calm which hadn’t been a part of his life since…well, he couldn’t remember how long it had been since he felt like this, if he ever had.

Part of his euphoria, he knew, had to do with Kacy. He’d been celibate since Frieda left. Not that he hadn’t had offers. He’d been so hung up on her, and so messed up in his mind, somehow sex hadn’t seemed that important. He hadn’t realized until he’d met Kacy at the airport, how long it had been, even before Frieda left. She’d been turning off his advances for nearly six months before she walked out.

Should have read the signs, he thought dejectedly.

An old lady he passed looked at him strangely. She returned his smile and said hello with a sympathetic tinge to it. He decided it must be because of his cane and limp. She thought he had a serious illness, or some disfigurement hidden by his baggy jeans.

He invented a monologue for himself, explaining in great detail, a fabrication of lies designed to elicit sympathy. Not that he would ever use it, but it was fun engaging in the creative process again. God, how long had it been since he’d just drawn a picture, or enjoyed a sunset, or felt the texture of sand under his bare feet? Too damn long.

Living in the City stifled his emotions and creativity. It was a fast paced, high powered, impersonal, concrete, Plexiglas, Styrofoam, artificial sweetener world. He hadn’t known how much he hated it until this moment. He wanted to run and jump and dance foolishly in circles, but his bruised shin wouldn’t allow him to do anything but limp.

He passed a group of people doing their Tai Chi on the beach, and stopped to watch them for a while. He’d studied Tai Chi at one time, but like everything else, he never had time to pursue it. The series of movements were familiar, flowing from one to another, washing over him like the ocean’s waves, cleansing his soul. Drawing a deep breath, he enjoyed the sensation of the salt air in his lungs. Grinning like a fool, he headed back to the guest house. The phone was ringing again, but a glance at the caller id in the kitchen showed him it wasn’t Frieda.

“Hello?”

“Hi, handsome.” It was Kacy, her voice warm and sultry. “I’ve tried to call a couple times, were you out?”

“I took a short walk on the beach. How are the auditions going?”

She giggled light heartedly. “You should see the girls trying out for Sally! If there’s a real boob in the bunch I’ll be surprised!”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

For More About Dellani

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 15

She put her hand on his lips, stilling his protests. “Do you think it was wrong?”

“Not for the reasons you might think.”

“What reasons would those be, then?” She reclined on her side, supporting herself on her elbow.

“Kacy, I took advantage of your sorrow, and that was wrong.”

“Did I seem to mind?”

He shook his head. “No, but….”

“Then why do you?” Her hands continued moving as she spoke.

“I’m not Pete.”

“I know. Although I still love him, he’s gone, and I know that. Singing that song last night showed me he’s never coming back.”

“Do you think it’s healthy, this relationship?”

“Because you look like him?” She sat up next to him, her naked body a pale shadow against the sheets. “I don’t know. Do you feel it’s wrong?”

“I don’t even begin to know. My mind got so worked in that hospital, I hardly know who I am, or what motivates me from one minute to the next. I know one thing….”

“What’s that, Deacon?”

“I wanted you, Kacy, not a dream of the dead. If you can say the same about me, then this relationship isn’t wrong. If you can’t….”

He left the rest unsaid. Her tears showed him he’d struck home. He knew he was right, because as they had made love last night, she had called out a name, but it wasn’t his. He wondered if she remembered.

“Deacon,” her voice was pleading.

He stumbled away from the bed, his boxers across a chair by the door where he had thrown them. Stopping, he waited, muscles tense.

“Deacon,” her voice caught in her throat. She didn’t know what to say.

He spoke the truth, at least as far as he knew it. He didn’t know how much he had touched her heart, not the shadow of a dead man, but him. He was so like Pete in some respects, in others completely different. He looked like her dead husband, he sounded and smelled and smiled like Pete. But his kisses and the way he made love to her, that was him alone. She realized that Pete had died nine months before they pulled the plug. The hurt and the shock and pain had been when that explosion took him away. She wanted to start over again, rebuild her life into something which wasn’t hollow, an habitual repetition of the small things that made life possible—sleeping, eating, working. She couldn’t explain this to him, that by making love to Deacon, she had said goodbye to Pete.

“It’s bloody complicated in’it?”

“Yeah,” he said, unconsciously imitating her accent. Pete had never gotten it right, no matter how often he tried. “It’s bloody complicated.”

“Do you fancy sorting it out?”

Deacon looked at her, the question he couldn’t voice expressed in his eyes. His smile was warm and tender, not quite so much like Pete’s as she’d thought.

“Yeah, I fancy sorting it out.” He limped over to the bed, sitting beside her, taking her in his strong arms once more.

“Promise me something, Kacy.”

“What’s that?” But she knew before he said it.

“Say my name?” His kiss was a plaintive request, urgent, compelling.

“I promise, Deacon.”

After breakfast, he walked her out to the car, shutting her door carefully after kissing her again, savoring her lips.

“I’ll see you later. I want to get a bit of shopping done, and pop by the theater and see how the auditions are going. I guess it’s vulgar curiosity.”

“I expect a full report when you get back. I’ll be working on those set plans. From what I’ve seen so far, I don’t really like them. I’ll see if I can slip a few variations past Dino.”

“We’ll tag team him,” she said smiling. “He won’t know what hit him.”

He kissed her through the window and took a few steps back as she took off. Hobbling into the house, he settled himself at the drafting table, the original set plans in front of him. He saw in a glance what Kacy said about the lighting difficulties. He began making slight changes unconsciously, his hand moving of its own accord across a fresh sheet of paper. It was a rough drawing, hardly to scale, but it gave him the bare bones of his design.

Pulling open drawers, he found all the mechanical pencils, rulers, angles and French curves he needed to complete the plot. There was a fancy pencil sharpener and a dozen different pencil leads. Attached to the top of the desk was an expensive drafting tool, a movable T-square. He arranged it to compensate for his left handedness and dragged out the blueprints to the stage. He could have done all this by computer, in fact, he often did so at the shop in New York. In many ways, Deacon was old fashioned, and did his most creative thinking with a pencil and T-square.

Working almost without thinking, he drew lines, arrow points, wrote numbers and descriptions. He finished the basic plan, and had started on the exploded details, when the phone rang. Looking at the clock, he realized it had been nearly four hours since Kacy had left. He answered, hardly expecting the voice on the other end.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

For More About Dellani

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 14

She looked so small, so vulnerable and so young standing in the foyer, eye makeup smeared and her mascara in dark tendrils down her pale cheeks. He held out his hand to her. She walked slowly over to sit on the side of his chair, curling up next to him, her tiny frame hardly taking up any room. Deacon put his arm around her. He let her cry, until her sobbing eased and her sniffles dwindled to nothing. He thought she had dozed off, but he saw her eyes were open.

“You look like him, you sound like him, you even wear the same cologne he wore! How can you? How dare you?” She pounded him on the chest for a moment, then stopped, exhausted by her grief.

Deacon sensed this was a turning point for her, an epiphany of sorts, and the next step in dealing with her grief. He tolerated the torrent of her tears and blows stoically.

“Why is he dead and you’re still alive? Do you know what torment it is to look at you and hear him, to see his expressions cross your face? Do you know…?” Her voice got very quiet, almost a whisper. “Do you know how very much I want to kiss you, to hold you, and have you make love to me? But not because of you, Deacon, because of him! He’s dead. He’s dead! And nothing will ever bring him back! It’s like looking into the face of a ghost!”

“Kacy, I’m sorry he’s gone, and I wish I weren’t a constant reminder to you. I can’t change that. But if you need a friend, I’m here.” He held his arms out from his sides.

“Even as horrid as I’ve been to you, you can still say that?”

He nodded, reaching out to stroke her hair. She lunged at him, shoving against his chest with both hands. For so small a woman, she was amazingly strong. Deacon’s breath was forced from his chest in a puff.

“Oh, bother men anyway!” she sobbed, clutching his shirt in both hands, burying her face in the fabric.

He held her, patting her shoulder making soft, comforting noises. None of what he said made any real sense, but it became a litany of empathy. Quite some time passed, but Deacon didn’t look at the clock. He was certain she had dozed off this time. He shifted around to try and lift her to carry her to bed. She snuggled next to him, her chin resting in the crook of his shoulder, as he lifted her and hobbled to her room.

He turned the knob with difficulty and set her gently on the bed. Pulling down the cover, he laid it across her and took her shoes off. He moved as quietly as he could to the door, but tripped over something on the floor, losing his balance and falling rather heavily to his knees. She startled awake with a cry like a wounded bird.

“Pete?”

He stood with difficulty, limping back to the bed. She looked up at him, her face pale in the dark room.

“No, Kacy, it’s Deacon.” He sat heavily on the edge of the bed, no longer able to stand.

“I had such a lovely dream that he was alive! I’m such a bloody fool!”

She clung to him again, but this time she drew his face to hers, pressing her lips to his in a passion, born of her grief. He didn’t want to respond to her touch, but her hands and lips were so compelling, he found himself following her lead.

What am I doing? he asked himself, but it was too late to stop. He was caught in a whirlwind of lust and grief wondering, if he would ever escape. Mentally berating himself, he made passionate love to another man’s wife.

Deacon woke with a feeling of displacement, and realized it was because he wasn’t in his own room, in his own bed, but across the hall lying naked next to Kacy. He started to sit up, but the stabbing pain in his leg made him gasp and bite his lip. Trying not to make any noise, he levered himself up, pressing his lips together against the groan that fought to escape. Softly scolding himself, he looked at the devastation they had made of the bed.

Shit! he yelled in his mind, reprimanding himself. Shit! I took advantage of a grieving widow. That’s about as low as any man can fall. He felt like a snake and a liar, and all kinds of vile things, which he called himself, lecturing severely.

Too bad none of these things had occurred to him last night. Maybe he would have kept it in his pants, and not slept with his co-worker! The fact that she had initiated it, he didn’t take into account, as she couldn’t really be held responsible. He could. He should have controlled himself. He realized, that even when she was angry at him, he’d wanted to do just what he’d done. He hadn’t stopped himself, because he wanted her, and was flattered that she wanted him. Even if it was just because he looked like her dead husband.

“God, I’m an asshole,” he whispered, looking for his boxers.

He felt her turn over on the other side of the bed, her hand on his back, tracing the same erotic circles she had done last night. His body responded against his will.

“Morning, handsome.”

He turned around, facing her, a pained expression on his face which she misunderstood.

“Is your leg all right? I guess we kind of over did it a bit….”

“No, the leg is fine, Kacy.” His smile was less strained, but there was pain and embarrassment in his eyes. “I just—Don’t you think….” He had no idea what he was trying to say or how he was going to say what was on his mind.

“You think our being together was a bad idea?”

“Yes, well…not really, but….”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

For More About Dellani

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 13

Deacon couldn’t understand why Dino would put her through that. She was crying when she finished and ran from the stage. He watched her go out, then turned to another group of teenagers, urging them to sing something by Metallica. The distinctive notes of For Whom the Bell Tolls started loudly from the speakers.

Deacon rose with difficulty and followed Kacy. He could hear her sobbing in the lady’s room. Tapping on the door, he ventured a peep inside. A pair of older ladies were standing there, speaking French, and gave him a gimlet eye.

“Do you require the restroom, young man?” one of them said with a heavy French accent.

“I apologize, ladies. I’m checking on my date,” he said. “She got some bad news. I wanted to make sure she was all right.”

Certainment! We saw her rush in.”

Merci,” he replied, exhausting his French vocabulary.

The ladies gathered their things, hustling out the door as Deacon hobbled into the bathroom, locking the door behind him.

“Kacy,” he heard her sobbing in one of the stalls. “Kacy, come out please? I’m sure Dino didn’t mean anything by that…. Please come out.”

“Leave me alone! Just leave me be!”

“I’m not leaving until you come out and talk to me. I’ll make Dino take us home, okay? I’m getting tired, my leg hurts like a mother and I really want a beer. What say?”

She opened the stall door and wiped her eyes on a piece of toilet paper. “That was embarrassing.” She tried to smile. “I’m sorry, you must think I’m some sort of basket case.”

He smiled down at her understandingly. “It’s not crazy to miss somebody. Come on, I’m ready to get out of this place. I could really use that beer.”

“I left my bag in the dining room.”

“I’ll get it.” He limped back into the dining room, catching Dino’s eye as he went to get Kacy’s purse. “I need to go home, Dino. My leg hurts like hell, and I don’t think I can take too much more jocularity this evening.”

“Is Kacy okay?”

“Yes, she’s fine. Why did you do that to her? Was that some sort of intervention thing?”

Dino shook his head. “Pete loved that song and…I can’t really explain. It was a wish of his, in his will, for me to ask her to sing it for him once more. I feel like a heel doing it, but it’s a promise to an old friend. That’s a sacred bond.”

Deacon wouldn’t have put it quite that way, but he agreed that a wish like that had to be honored. Kacy must have known, or she probably wouldn’t have agreed.

“I’ll bring the car around and we’ll slip out. Truth is, I don’t feel like staying much longer myself.”

He left quietly, without really saying goodbye. However, when Deacon turned to go, his limping gait attracted attention.

“You’re not going so early are you?” The giggling girls surrounded him, trying to make him stay.

“Ladies, as much as I’d love to stay and watch, I regret that if I don’t get off this bum leg, I’m going to be worthless for the next few days…and nights.” He winked provocatively, kissing each of them on the cheek.

It had the desired effect, distracting them enough for him to get away. They were sighing dreamily, trying to determine which of them got the best kiss.

“I should be used to that by now,” he muttered as he stumbled to the door.

“Used to what?” Kacy asked, glancing over his shoulder at the dining room.

He tipped his head toward the dining room. “Women. Present company excepted.” He added rather belatedly, but she didn’t bridle at the comment.

“What about women?” She raised an expectant eyebrow.

Figuring he was in for a beating, he jumped into with his next comment. “Falling all over me, giggling like a gaggle of geese,” he said, trying to make a joke of it.

“Not all of us giggle,” Kacy remarked without ire.

Dino pulled up and Deacon was spared further comment, as he hauled himself in to the front seat. None of them spoke on the return trip. Kacy sniffled once or twice in the back seat, and Deacon knew she was still crying. He felt so strongly for her, it hurt. He couldn’t imagine losing someone you loved like that. He had lost Frieda, but their relationship had been fraught with trouble from the very start.

It had taken him a long time in the hospital to realize that a relationship based completely and totally on sex, was destined to fail. It was amazing it had lasted as long as it did. He thought of her now, and didn’t even feel sad. That phase of his life was over.

Dino dropped them at the door to the guest house before parking in the eight car garage. Deacon was leaning rather heavily on Kacy, his leg feeling like it was going to explode. He collapsed on the couch, struggling with his pants leg. He pulled off the ace bandage and put his foot up, tipping the recliner back.

“Shit, that hurts!” He saw her look and realized what he’d said. “I’m sorry, Kacy….”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

For More About Dellani