Archive | December 2021

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 56

“Deacon, that must have been dreadful for you. If you will forgive an old woman an alarming correlation, that is exactly when Peter died.”

Deacon’s eyes filled with tears and he wept for the brother he had never known. Nancy held him comfortingly in her arms as he tried to compose himself. The stress, pain and uncertainty of the last few days had come to a head, and he expressed it the only way he knew how. He couldn’t remember ever having cried like that since childhood, but it was a marvelous sensation of relief, as if a weight had been lifted off him.

Somehow, it was no longer his fault. He hadn’t been a wimp, or some kind of psychotic freak. It was his psyche recognizing that a part of him had been wrenched away. Although it didn’t diminish his episode, it put it into perspective. In a way, he felt better knowing.

The days passed slowly for Deacon, who felt trapped in the house, even with all the things he had to distract or entertain him. He had always been a man of action, and he was bored out of his mind. The cast and crew members came by to see him. Kacy and Nancy spent a lot of time with him. Dino came and visited periodically. One of the private duty nurses he had hired was Cindy. Dino’s visits often, coincidentally, happened to be during the time she was with Deacon.

The only person who rarely put in an appearance was Everett. He almost seemed to be avoiding Deacon. For his own sake, Deacon didn’t really mind. He felt the man needed his space, but it disturbed Nancy and Kacy. They kept apologizing for Ev’s behavior. Nothing Deacon said to excuse him made any impression. It was a man thing, and he respected that.

“The last thing I want to do is force myself on him. He’ll come to accept me in his own time. You have to realize, he thinks of me as an interloper.”

“How could you possibly know that?”

Kacy was shocked. Ev had used that exact word the night before when he was talking to her and Nancy after Deacon went to sleep.

“Because that’s how I’d feel. I never had the kind of relationship of a father and son, but I can imagine how I’d feel in his shoes.” He shrugged. “I’d hate me, too.”

“He doesn’t hate you, Deacon….” Nancy began, but couldn’t in good conscience continue.

Ev didn’t hate him, but he resented Deacon and the place he now had in their lives. He considered Kacy’s affection for Deacon as a betrayal.

“He doesn’t want me ever to find anyone again. He wants me to be a grieving widow the rest of my life!” Kacy told Deacon later that day, when they were alone.

Patting the couch next to him, he encouraged her to sit and stop pacing. “He doesn’t want that, Kacy. But it’s only natural he doesn’t want you to replace Pete so soon. He died such a short time ago.”

“That’s just it! Pete died as soon as that bomb went off under him, only his body didn’t know it! I sat by that bed day after day, praying he would come back to me, and he never did, not for a minute. I couldn’t even say a proper goodbye. What I had put from my mind, is that Pete and I were growing apart, even before that. Our lives were going in such different directions, it was amazing we had lasted as long as we did.”

“Have you told his parents this?”

She shook her head. “I didn’t want to hurt them any more than I already had. Taking him off life support was the hardest decision I ever made. It’s what Pete wanted, though. He was always so full of life! I couldn’t watch him like that another day, not another hour. I never stopped loving him, I just wasn’t in love, if you understand what I mean.”

“I think so. What about us, Kacy? Do you think we’ll last?”

“No one can ever go into a relationship, knowing that for sure, but with all my heart, I want us to. I can’t help thinking, that when I married Pete, I got it wrong. I think the man I was supposed to be with, was you.”

Their embrace was infused with desire which couldn’t be satisfied. Frustration born of lust filled them both, causing an ache—deep and brutal, in their chests.

“I don’t care what the doctor says, Kacy. I want you more than I can even tell you.”

“No, Deacon, no. I want you too! But not until the doctor’s seen that leg. Just a little longer. We go this afternoon. Please.”

Her voice held a plaintive note of desperation. He couldn’t help touching her, kissing her, exploring her body with his hands, hardly able to control his need for her. Reluctantly, he stopped, pulling away from her with a Herculean effort. She rose to go. Leaving him alone was probably the cruelest thing she could have done, but the best under the circumstances. She didn’t come back until it was time for them to go to the doctor’s office.

They hardly spoke all the way to the office. In fact, Dino, who was driving them, worried that they had, had an argument.

“No, nothing like that, Dino. I promise. It’s bloody complicated,” Kacy said, walking ahead of them a few feet. She opened the door, walking in by herself.

Deacon told Dino in very brief, and well edited terms, what the problem was.

Aside from blushing deeply, Dino said nothing but, “Oh, I see.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 55

“I can’t believe you asked him about that!” Kacy giggled nervously, blushing furiously.

Deacon took her hand, drawing her to him. “Do you think I’m going to wait for you any longer than I have to? It was bad enough having the bruise on my leg. This is torture! I don’t know if I can go another week!”

“You will if I have to chain you to the bed and douse you with cold water.” She giggled at the thought. “If it’s any consolation it’s no easier on me than on you.”

His hand traced her face, her neck and down her body. A sharp knock at the door startled them both. Karmina walked in to give him a care package.

“Doc says you’re leaving, so I brought this by early instead of waiting for dinner. I hope they feed you good at home, I’d hate to make that trip three times a day!”

“Karmina, you’re the best there is. Why if I weren’t a married man, I believe I’d give you a big kiss.”

“Oooh, listen to you! You bad thing you! You are one feisty, bad boy and that’s for damn sure! Ms. Stewart, you got to keep this boy on a leash!” But she loved the attention and allowed Deacon to give her a kiss on her cheek. “I declare, I will miss you.” She left, singing happily.

All that was left to do was wait until the nurse came in with the papers to sign. It annoyed Deacon how long the process took but he couldn’t speed it up, so he did his best to be patient.

Finally, he was being wheeled out to Dino’s car, lifted in and settled. His gifts and flowers were carried down and put carefully in the back by Karmina and the orderly.

“I’ve hired a nurse to take care of you until you’re self sufficient. I rented you a wheel chair and a walker. The doctor said you could use that or crutches. This is going to be fun!”

Deacon laughed, exchanging a look with Kacy over the back seat. “It’s gonna be great,” he concurred, not wanting to hurt Dino’s feelings.

He hadn’t realized how much just coming home was going to take out of him. By the time he got in the door and settled on the recliner in front of the TV, he was exhausted. His eyes drifted shut until he fell into a light doze. He roused some time later to a light tapping on the door. When no one came to answer it, he called out, “Come in!”

Hesitantly, the door opened and Nancy poked her head around the door expectantly.

“Kacy asked me to look in on you, she had to go out. I made you something.” She carried a basket with a cloth napkin over it and set it down on the couch next to him with a happy smile on her face.

“I realize that all the comparisons to Peter must be awkward for you, but I’m afraid for a time it will be inevitable. That being said, I’ve brought you a little goody basket of his favorite treats. I’ll understand if you don’t like them all, but it would please me for you to try them.”

Deacon picked up the basket, peering inside. Some of the treats he didn’t recognize, others he did, and liked all of them. He had miniature pecan pies, meringue cookies, double chocolate chip bars, all of them homemade. She must have been working for hours. He made grateful comments and sampled one treat after another. At the bottom, he found a package of peanut butter fudge.

“Oh, I love this stuff! My last foster mother used to make this at Christmas, and I’d get in trouble for sneaking pieces behind her back.”

Nancy’s eyes filled with happy tears. “I can’t tell you the number of scoldings Peter got for exactly the same thing! He was positively addicted to that stuff.”

While Deacon nibbled one treat after another, she went to the kitchen and made them each a cup of coffee. She brought cups, cream and sugar to the living room and set it on the low table in front of them. Handing Deacon a cup, she offered the tray to him so he could prepare his coffee himself.

“Peter always made terrible coffee. It was like drinking dirty water. He could never get it right. I like a cup of coffee so strong, it will put hair on a man’s chest.”

Deacon laughed, spewing a few crumbs on his lap. “I make my coffee black as I can get it. I can’t stand weak coffee.”

“Do you mind telling me a little about your life? I really want to get to know you, Deacon. Not as Pete’s shadow, but as an individual man. I think that’s very important, don’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am, I do.”

“Don’t think too badly of Ev for not being too forthcoming. He and Peter were always so close, as if they knew what the other was thinking. This has been quite a shock to him, and he feels almost betrayed by Kacy’s obvious affection for you.”

“Things just sort of happened between us, Nancy. As a matter of fact, she didn’t even like me when we met. She called me a grungy flunky and a buffoon.” He grinned over his coffee cup.

Nancy’s laugh was light, silvery, like chimes ringing in a breeze. “She’s never been shy, that girl! Tell me how you met.”

She listened attentively to his description. One thing Deacon prided himself on was being able to tell a story well. It helped having an appreciative audience. Nancy hung on every word, laughing in all the right places.

She asked him some very pointed and penetrating questions about himself as a child. She was so full of regret after a while, that he edited much of the early years and dwelt mostly on the happier years while he was in high school.

“How did you happen to come down here?”

Feeling at ease with this woman who had only recently been a stranger, he unburdened to her all the problems he’d had. He was candid with her, even giving a detailed description of his drug induced episode. Her face grew pale as he told her what had happened to him and when.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 54

“Deacon, I’m sure you realize how difficult this is for us. We had no idea….” Mrs. Du Champs said.

“It’s rather a shock,” her husband added faintly.

“A surprise for me too, to realize I had an exact double. He sounds like he was a pretty terrific man. I’m sorry I’ll never get to know him.”

“It’s curious to me that you were both so interested in the theatrical life. Did you know that Peter’s birth mother, that is to say your mother, is an actress?” Mrs. Du Champs stumbled over her words a little.

“No, I had no idea. I don’t know anything about my real parents.”

“Peter met his…your mother. She is a very kind person. I believe she’d like to meet you,” Everett Du Champs interjected quietly. “She lives in Mobile, now.”

Nancy clutched his hands, tears falling. “If we had only known there were two of you, we would gladly have taken you both! The adoption agency gave us to understand there was only one child. I shudder to think what kind of life you must have led, in foster care all your life.”

“It wasn’t too bad, really, Mrs. Du Champs.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “Please call me Nancy, and my husband goes by Ev.”

Deacon nodded, a nervous smile tugging his lips. “I answer to pretty much anything, including hey you,” he said, trying to lighten the mood.

“Kacy told us of your bravery and rescuing her. What a dreadful ordeal for you both,” Nancy said.

“It could have been much worse. If that wall had been sheet rock instead of plasterboard, I hesitate to think what would have happened.”

They chatted politely, not lingering on any subject for long. Deacon didn’t get the impression that the Du Champs were quite used to him yet. From time to time he would do or say something, causing Nancy to wipe her eyes and sniffle. She kept commenting to Ev, as if Deacon were not in the room, “Oh, Peter used to say things just like that. How alike they are!”

Kacy could see the visit was tiring him, as well as making him uncomfortable. When the nurse came in to give him his medication, she made the excuse for the three of them to leave.

Kacy leaned over, kissing Deacon gently and chastely on the lips and he whispered to her.

“Come back later, alone, if you can, okay?”

“I’ll try. Rest well.” She slipped an envelope out of her purse and put it into his hands, kissed him again and left.

The nurse cleaned the port and gave him his medicine. He relaxed into a semi-drugged stupor. The card in his lap caught his attention, so he opened it. Kacy had made him a silly get well card, painted and hand lettered. It was of a very personal nature, no wonder she hadn’t wanted the parents to see it. He tucked it into the art supply basket by his bed, settled back and rested until lunch time when Karmina sneaked in with more home cooking.

“You know,” he said, his eyes growing heavy with medication and good food, “I could get to like it here.”

Laughing, she cleared away his uneaten food and giggled all the way to the next room.

The next day was a blur of visits from well wishers, bad meals and care packages from Karmina. The highlight of his day was the visit with Kacy, alone. Pete’s parents had decided to shop for a condo, while in the area, and she used the excuse to go to the hospital by herself.

“They are such nice people,” she told Deacon, “but I feel like such a hypocrite. I took their son from them, and they love me anyway. Now I’ve found a replacement son, of sorts, and because of me you’re in hospital. If I just hadn’t wanted to paint that bloody office!”

“It looks good though,” Deacon said, fending off a bout of hysteria he heard in her voice.

“Yes, it does look good. Some of the girls helped me paint your office as well and we did the whole thing with stencils. No worries,” she caught his expression of disbelief. “It’s not girly in your office, I promise.”

All too soon she had to go, Kissing him with abandon, her eyes were full of tears. Deacon worried she was going to break down completely, but she held it together. As Kacy was leaving, she bumped into Dr. Connors as he walked through the door.

Deacon introduced them. “Yes, I met your lovely wife already, before surgery. She and your brother were very concerned about you that night. Good to see you again, Mrs. Stewart.”

“So what’s the good word, Doc?” Deacon asked.

Deacon was itching to be out of the bed, he hated being flat on his back. The doctor took his time answering, looking at Deacon’s chart and examining his leg. It was wrapped in layers of ace bandages, the pins sticking out at odd angles. It was braced by a stiff, padded splint.

“You will both be happy to know that I am signing you out today. I caution you, however, not to be too active for the next week.” He raised an eyebrow, looking at them both. “I know how newlyweds are, I remember it well. But Deacon and I have discussed this to great length.” He winked, chuckling at Deacon.

Kacy blushed, looking away from the two men.

“I am sorry, I’ve said too much. I am a man whose mouth outruns his common sense. I apologize, but it was of some interest to your husband, and something of which you both needed to be cautioned. That being said, I’ll see to the paperwork. Any other questions?”

Neither of them had anything else to ask, so he left, with a last wink at them both.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 53

They hung up simultaneously. Deacon settled back, trying to think. His breakfast tray had come in while he was on the phone, but he hardly noticed.

Karmina came in to collect the untouched tray and stopped just inside the door. “You okay, skinny boy?”

Deacon forced a smile. “Yes, ma’am, I’m okay. Thank you for the care package, it was fantastic.”

“You have become my own personal project. I’m gonna get meat on you before you leave this place if it kills us both!” Chuckling, she went to take the tray. Wrinkling her nose, she sniffed the tray, then sniffed carefully near Deacon. “You are one smelly fella, and that’s for sure! We need to get you a bath! You sit tight, I’ll take care of this.”

“I don’t get one of those nasty sponge bath things, do I?”

“I’ll have the nurse check doctor’s orders, but I think you’ll be able to take a shower. The bathrooms on this floor are built to accommodate chairs and walkers. Since you aren’t in a cast, just stapled and pinned, I think you’ll be okay.”

“Thanks, Karmina, I appreciate it.”

“Don’t worry about thanking me! I am doing this for my own self-preservation! Besides, can’t be scaring off that pretty bride of yours, can you? She gets one whiff of you, she’ll divorce you!”

Deacon’s chuckle followed her out the door and down the hall. A few minutes later she was back with an orderly to get Deacon cleaned up.

“You want to shave?” The orderly, a muscular white man about Deacon’s own age offered to help him. Deacon scratched the stubble.

“Does it look bad?”

The orderly held up a mirror and Deacon saw himself for the first time in days. He was pale, his skin drawn tightly over his features with pain and worry. The growth of beard on his chin aged him about ten years. The face gazing back at him looked like a hollow eyed old man.

“God, I look like death on a hot plate!”

“That’s a new one. I like that.”

“Feel free to use it.”

The orderly chuckled. He had white, even teeth, and a build like Mr. Clean. He sported three earrings per ear and admired Deacon’s plugs.

Steve, the orderly, ended up shaving Deacon, whose hands wavered so much, he was afraid he was going to cut his own nose off. Afterwards, he felt much better and got back into the bed mostly under his own power.

Kacy came in a little before ten, looking haggard and wan. Her smile was warm and welcoming as she came over to the bed, bending over to kiss him deeply.

“You look fantastic, good morning,” Deacon said softly.

“I look dreadful. My mum always says, Well, you’re no oil painting, but you’ll do. I feel that way today.”

“Dino told me what happened. Are you all right?”

“Spooked as hell, but otherwise hale and hardy. I’ve Pete’s folks with me. They’re in the waiting room down the hall, and will understand if you don’t want to see them.”

“Did you tell them about me and Pete?”

She nodded.

“How about you and me?”

Another nod. “It all burbled out when we got home, and discovered the break in. I’m afraid I was rather hysterical. Nancy seemed pretty understanding. I’m not overly sure of Everett. He and Pete were so close.” She hung her head, seemingly ashamed of herself.

“I’m glad you told them. I couldn’t have pretended not to love you. I don’t think I could have kept my hands sedately to myself, either.” He tickled her, holding her closely so she couldn’t get away from him.

“Oh, Deacon, I am too! Let me go get them, they’re probably wondering what’s keeping me.” She hopped up, moving quickly toward the door.

A few minutes later, she came in with a couple who looked to be in their late fifties or early sixties. The woman was pale, and had once been a great beauty, which had faded only slightly over the years. Deacon thought that her son’s ordeal had probably weighed heavily on her, aging her prematurely. The man was robust and dark haired, handsome in a severe and intimidating way. He wore a mustache and Van Dyke beard. It was shot with gray and an attractive blaze of gray adorned each temple.

With a gasp, the woman stopped inside the door, apparently frozen to the spot, her hand to her throat, face going even more pale. Her eyes were dark brown, in sharp contrast to her pale blonde hair.

“Oh, my God, Everett, she wasn’t exaggerating!” She burst into tears, holding her husband in a clumsy embrace. “For a moment, I thought it was Peter.”

The man looked equally taken aback, but determined not to make a scene. He led his wife further into the room so that the door could shut. Kacy led them to the chairs next to the bed and perched on the side facing them, Deacon’s hand in hers. There was an uncomfortable pause finally broken by the woman.

“Please forgive us, young man,” she began.

Kacy interrupted, “Deacon, Mom.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 52

“Me too, Kacy. I can’t stand not being with you, kissing you….”

He got interrupted by the nurse putting her head around the door. “Mrs. Stewart, I have to ask you to go, the supervisor got here a little early.”

“I’ll call you when I get home.” Her kiss held promises he wished he could collect on. “Night, love.”

“Night, baby.”

She left reluctantly, blowing him a kiss from the door, and was gone. Deacon fell asleep again and slept for several hours. He woke around two o’clock feeling vaguely disturbed about something, and it occurred to him that he hadn’t heard from Kacy. Groggy, he could hardly see the numbers on the phone. It was a dial rather than a key pad, which presented its own complications. After trying a few times, he gave up, setting the phone beside him on the bed, so if it rang, he’d be able to answer it right away. He dozed off again, the phone never rang.

Next morning, he woke with a start when his door opened surreptitiously. The black aid, Karmina, popped quickly in with a care package consisting of cranberry orange muffins and a small thermos of fresh coffee, extra sweet and just the right color.

“I’ll come pick that up, when I go off shift. You enjoy now.” She scooted out again as quickly as she had come in.

After eating, Deacon tried calling Kacy again, while he was still conscious. The drugs had worn off almost completely. He was starting to hurt, but he knew if he waited to call he’d have trouble. The phone rang about twenty times with no answer. He tried her cell phone and left a voice mail, then decided to try Dino’s. Dino answered on the third ring, sounding chipper and wide awake. Did the man ever sleep?

“Hi, Dino, it’s Deacon.”

“Hello! Good morning!”

He sounded a tad too bright and cheerful, Deacon suspected some of it was feigned, but didn’t know why.

“I can’t reach Kacy. I’m really worried. She was supposed to call when she got home.”

“Well, there’s a reason for that, Deacon.”

“Is she okay? What’s happened?” He could tell by the edge in Dino’s voice that he was concerned.

“When she got back last night, Pete’s folks and I were just pulling up. We went to the guest house, it had been broken into! Stuff was kind of tossed around, a few things broken. It spooked her pretty badly, so I insisted she and Mr. and Mrs. Du Champs stay here last night. I guess in the excitement, she just forgot. Maybe she didn’t want to alarm you.”

“Is she there, can I talk to her?”

Dino sighed heavily. “She’s here, but she’s sleeping. I called Doc Cooper. He came over and gave her a sedative to help her rest. She was pretty hysterical. She didn’t feel safe in the second guest room by herself, so Nancy stayed in with her, and Ev stayed in the other by himself. It was pretty alarming for all of us.”

“You’re sure nothing was taken?”

Dino paused. “Now you mention it, Kacy said she thought the original plans for the set and the blueprints were missing. It was a little freaky and didn’t seem too important, so we didn’t really think too much about it. I’ve still got the new plans and another set of the blueprints. We called the police. Detective Reyes came over personally. Something very weird is going on, Deacon. This is starting to get dangerous. Maybe we should just postpone opening until this is cleared up.”

“Dino, if we do that, we may never find out who is doing this. If we keep going like normal, stay on schedule as much as we can, maybe we force him to make a move he’s not planned out.”

“I won’t use any of our people as bait, Deacon.”

“I’m not saying that. If anything else happens, then we close down and wait it out.”

“The next thing to happen could be someone getting seriously hurt. I’m not willing to risk that.”

“No one has been yet. So far it’s been pretty low key. We’ve not even gotten any threatening calls or anything.”

Dino paused, it lengthened to a disturbing amount.

“Have we?”

“Not exactly, no. But I’ve gotten a lot of calls where the phone rings, I answer and then they hang up. Sometimes two or three a day.”

“Did you tell Reyes?”

“Yes, he’s put a tap on my phone.”

“This just gets weirder all the time. Listen, Dino, don’t keep those plans at the house. Put them in the safe at your office.”

“Why, Deacon?”

“Just a dumb hunch.”

“I’ll do that today. Reyes might be dropping by. Kacy is going to be there around ten, with Pete’s folks.”

“Thanks for taking care of her, Dino. I feel totally helpless here.”

“No problem, buddy. You get better. I’ll see you later.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 51

All but the Coopers left, chattering happily. Dr. Cooper examined Dr. Connors’ handiwork.

“Admirable job! You shouldn’t have a bad scar, once this heals. I venture to say very little. He missed his calling as a plastic surgeon.” He grinned. They bid farewell to Deacon and Kacy, leaving more quietly than the others.

Just before the end of visiting hours, the construction crew came in. Their manner was subdued, as if they were visiting a death bed. Mac and Dexter led the crew, carrying a large basket of drawing paper, pencils, paints and other art supplies artistically arranged to resemble a turkey.

“Miss Kacy told us you were bored, when we called. We raided the local art supply store right as they were about to close. I don’t think they were too happy, till they saw how much we spent,” Dexter told him cheerfully.

“Deacon, the boys and me took care of the doors and loosened up the windows and took those bars off. No reason for them, I think they were mostly just decorative. We had Dexter and his team wire in an alarm system that Mr. Sawyer bought. I feel bad about this whole thing, like I’m responsible.”

Mac looked so forlorn, Deacon held out his hand to the him.

“Mac did you have any idea anything like this would happen?”

“No, Deacon, how could I?”

“Exactly, no one could. So why are you taking blame for something that’s not your fault?”

“Well, when you put it that way, I guess it’s kind of silly isn’t it?” He chuckled. “When are you coming back to work?”

“I’m not really sure, depends on when the doctor cuts me loose. He told me I have to behave myself for a week, then by damn I’m back there. I’m bored out of my mind!”

“I brought you something else, Deacon.” Dexter shouldered his way through the crowd. “I borrowed this from my kid. He’s outgrown his Game Boy, and he said you could use it till you feel better. I know it’s old, but it still works great. I think he’s got about fifty games, so there ought to be something you like in there.” He set a black gym bag down on Deacon’s lap.

Speechless for a moment, unused to such an outpouring of friendship, Deacon stared at the bag and basket. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you all. It feels like Christmas, only I never had a Christmas this good in my life!”

Never one to show his emotions, Deacon honestly wanted to cry. He was overwhelmed by the show of caring and support given him by these people who hardly knew him.

“Thank you, thank you so very much.”

Kacy, noting his discomfort, scooted them all out the door. Their voices dropped to near silence when they got to the hallway, fading rapidly away.

Deacon still didn’t want to show his feelings in front of Kacy, but was simply too tired and sore to cover it any longer. Tears welled up and dribbled down as he hung his head, trying to conceal his face. She walked to the sink to refill his water pitcher. With a massive sniff, he got himself under control and was ready to face her when she turned around.

“I’m acting like a big baby, I’m sorry.”

Kacy sat on the edge of the bed, taking him gently in her arms.

“I never had a lot of friends when I was growing up. Now, I have so many, I can’t even count them all.”

“It’s not childish to have feelings, you know.”

“This is going to sound crazy and, given my history, strangely appropriate,” he was babbling a little with overwhelming emotions. “But I feel like I’m finally alive, like the last twenty-seven years were just practice. The best thing that ever happened to me was having that breakdown. I guess I really did get in touch with myself.”

An announcement came over the intercom that visiting hours were over. Kacy looked at him in alarm, their private time together gone in a flash. A nurse came in to give him another shot, assuring Kacy that spouses were allowed to stay longer.

“Just not too late, or the night supervisor will crawl my butt.”

“Only a little longer, I promise. I’ll be gone by ten thirty, so you don’t get in trouble.” She crawled up beside him again, her head on his shoulder. “It’s amazing how empty that big bed feels without you. I cleared out your things and put them in my old room, it’s a bit easier to get in and out of, I’ve moved down the hall and Mom and Dad will be in the master bedroom. I hope that’s all right.”

“However you want to do it, Kacy. It’s as much your home as mine.” He kissed her gently on the cheek. “I’m gonna go stir crazy in this place, I hate hospitals. I had my tonsils out when I was twelve, and had to stay in a couple days. I was driving the nurses crazy by the end of the first day.”

“I’ll be back tomorrow, and I’ll bring Pete’s parents by. Dino is going to pick them up and take them to dinner, but they will be at the house any minute. I suppose I ought really to be there to meet them.”

“They will understand your being here, won’t they?”

“I suppose so. Oh, Deacon, I just wish they hadn’t come at all. They are lovely people, but a bit odd, in some respects.”

“Do you think they’ll understand about us?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll tell them about that right away. It’s chicken hearted of me I know.”

“What happened to the old stiff upper lip, Ms. Du Champs?” he teased gently.

“It got thrown out with last night’s supper,” she grinned. “I’d best be going, I promised to be out of here by ten thirty and it’s twenty-five past. I love you and I’ll miss you, Deacon.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 50

“You tell that pretty lady, I’ll see what I can do later, when I go on break.”

She slipped out quietly, leaving him with his meal. Apparently the menu hadn’t been processed yet. They had given him black-eyed peas and cornbread. Not that he minded, but it took a very special touch to get that right.

The peas were bland and the cornbread so sweet, it was more like cake. Too much abuse for a Southern boy to take, he shoved it aside. He drank his ice tea and ate his pie, which was remarkably good, and opened the candy bar. It was a Baby Ruth, his favorite.

The day passed slowly, spent between lightly sleeping and drug induced slumber. Kacy appeared around six, just after the supper trays had been delivered, smuggling in a box of moo goo gai pan and packets of soy sauce. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was until he smelled that aroma. She brought a two liter of root beer, nice and cold, to wash it down.

The newest offering from Kacy’s co-conspirator was a fresh wedge of Southern cornbread wrapped in foil and a little note beside it. I had my daughter bake this and bring it over special. That stuff they serve here would set any Southern boy’s teeth on edge. Enjoy! Karmina.

Handing Kacy the note, Deacon laughed as he munched on his cornbread, slathered thickly with real butter. It was heavenly. The dinner tray yielded another decent piece of pie. The roast beef and mashed potatoes weren’t too bad, so he ate most of that too. The rest of the meal consisted of anemic broccoli and gray peas.

“You certainly managed to eat a lot!” Kacy was surprised at his capacity.

“I’ve been starving all day. I couldn’t eat anything from the lunch tray but the pie. Karmina only had time to get me a candy bar. It was good, but not too filling.”

“I promise to be here tomorrow with each meal. I can’t have you wasting away to nothing.” She kissed him, snuggling up beside him on the bed.

He put his unpunctured arm around her, holding her to him. “Doc says I can probably go home in a day or two. I wish I could go home tonight. I miss you like crazy.”

“I miss you too, Deacon.”

“I’m bored half out of my mind here! Tomorrow can you bring me something to draw with? I need to actually do something. I need to go over a color scheme so the set painters can get started.”

“Deacon, you’ll have time to do that, don’t worry. Dino’s got the men working on repairing your escape hatch as well as replacing all the locks to the outside doors and fixing the others so they’re accessible from the inside. He was horrified by what happened and feels so responsible. I can’t seem to convince him it was our own bloody fault we got stuck there.”

“Where were the security guys? It just occurred to me, they should have been around. They would have seen someone go in or out.”

“They were contacted earlier in the day. A man, who said he was Dino, called them up and told them not to come by, that he had hired another team. We only found out about it because Dino called this morning and asked where they’d been.”

“They didn’t get a phone number I suppose?”

She shook her head. “No, the caller ID said unknown number, so that was useless. They’re back on duty, and Dino told them that unless he comes by personally, not to take any more messages on the phone. He apologized for the misunderstanding, and gave them a bonus.”

A sound of muffled voices echoed in the tile hallway and a light tapping at the door announced the arrival of the entire cast of the play. Dr. and Mrs. Cooper headed the troupe carrying a large bouquet of flowers from the florist shop next to the theater.

“They sent it over for free,” Coop told Deacon. “Said they felt so badly about what happened. They were at their shop, but didn’t see or hear anything.”

“That young man was all torn up about it, he felt just terrible. He and his mother send their regards.” Mrs. Cooper went about arranging the bouquet in a vase they had brought with them.

“I believe that the gentlemen from the construction team will be stopping by later this evening,” said the man playing Mr. Hix.

He was a short, rotund fellow who looked well healed and well fed, the semi-retired lawyer, Stevens. As usual, he wore an ugly, garish tie that clashed horribly with his suit. This one was pink and blue swirls with a brown suit. It looked like someone had vomited in Technicolor, and made Deacon’s head ache.

Mrs. Cooper was disappointed to know that Deacon had already eaten, because she had brought him a care package. Included were specialty items of hers, and the other ladies of the cast. Deacon had to go through the basket and view the entire contents, before they were placated.

“Looks like I’ll eat well for breakfast,” he declared to their delight. They stayed a little longer and then Dr. Cooper made everyone leave.

“The patient needs his rest! Scoot, all of you!”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 49

Dino could sense this was an uncomfortable subject, so he finished his meal in silence, threw out his trash and declared he was leaving. Kacy asked him for a ride, then kissed Deacon goodbye.

“I’ll be back later. You rest.”

“You too,” he smiled and closed his eyes as she went out the door.

Instead of going back to sleep right away, he turned on the TV and watched the news, which was fraught with war stories. Cartoon Network was insipid, so he switched to Discovery Channel. Ironically, it was a documentary about twins separated at birth, and their similarities. It amazed him how much alike they were, given the disparate circumstances of their upbringing. Deacon watched avidly until the program was over.

“I bet none of them ever fell for their brother’s widows,” he muttered darkly.

Stifling a yawn, he tried to get himself into a satisfactory position, but didn’t really have much luck. Having his foot up in traction wasn’t exactly conducive to comfort. He dozed for an hour or so before the nurse came in and administered his next shot. It wasn’t Cindy, she was on night shift, which had ended at seven.

“She’ll be back tonight around quarter to eleven.” This nurse was older and British, her accent clipped, but her voice was friendly.

“When will my doctor be by? More to the point, who is my doctor?”

“Doctor should be around soon, he’s started rounds already. His name is Dr. Connors and he’s the best in the business.”

The door popped sharply open and a tall, dark skinned man in royal blue scrubs and Crocs came in. His white teeth glittered in his chocolate colored face, his smile broad and welcoming.

“Good to see you awake, Mr. Stewart,” his accent bore traces of Jamaica. He shook Deacon’s hand, his grip firm and confident. “I am Dr. Connors. I believe I heard my name as I opened the door. Is she talking about me again?”

He winked at the nurse, who blushed and ducked out, saying she had other patients to medicate.

“All complimentary, Dr. Connors.”

The doctor waved the comment away happily. “It’s lies, everything lies. Don’t believe it. So, I suppose you want to know what I did to you?”

“I’m hazy on details. Past being pulled from the car and put on a gurney, I can’t remember.”

“Well, they called me down when you arrived, and I saw you about ten minutes later. Nasty break, but no bone fragments, it went back together neatly, just like a jigsaw puzzle. I put in a couple pins as a precaution. They can be removed at a later time if necessary. You won’t be competing in the Olympics any time soon, however,” he teased.

“How soon can I go home?”

The doctor’s expression turned thoughtful. “You’re young, strong, healthy. Your brother says he’ll hire a private duty nurse to look in on you. What he really said was someone to chain you to the bed for a few days.”

Deacon laughed heartily. How like Dino to say that.

“I suppose, baring any infection or complications, we can look at two days time?”

“I can live with that. How long will I be immobilized?”

“We’ll have you in a brace at least six weeks. We will have to see how well it heals up. This kind of break is actually two injuries; the break itself, and the puncture wound caused by the bone. The wound was rather extensive. You are lucky your wife got you here as quickly as she did. You were bleeding heavily. You punctured the vein that runs from your foot. Another ten minutes, and we might have lost you. You mind telling me how you broke it? Your wife was understandably incoherent.”

Deacon told him the entire story of their entrapment and his fall off the water fountain.

“I wondered about the signs of blunt trauma I saw. It’s a miracle you didn’t hurt yourself more, in an escapade like that. You are watched by a guardian angel, it seems.”

“Would have been nice if he’d kept me from breaking my leg altogether.”

The doctor chuckled dryly. “Sometimes, good comes from circumstances we’d never expect. Perhaps if nothing else, I have now a case I may write up for a journal article in the future.”

“Be sure to send me a copy.”

“I shall do that. Meanwhile, you rest and try to think happy thoughts. If I do not see you tomorrow, I will see you the day after. Any more questions before I go annoy someone else?”

Deacon’s last question made the doctor laugh so loudly, the nurse stuck her head in the door, telling him to keep it down.

“You have gotten me in trouble, Mr. Stewart. To answer your question, you must be very careful for at least a week, for the swelling to go down. Once that is over, a little careful planning and all is well. A newlywed couple should not be kept from one another’s embrace for long. Good day, Mr. Stewart.”

Deacon watched a little more TV, then dozed off until the lunch trolley rumbled up to his door. The same black aid carried in his tray, looking around furtively before she set it down. Concealed beside the plate, under the packet that held the napkin, was a giant size candy bar.

“Your wife said get you something you could actually eat, and slipped me some money. I didn’t have a chance to get much else but that. Here’s the change.”

Deacon laughingly waved the money back into her palm. “You keep it. I know Kacy would want you to have it.”

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 48

A tap at his door and Kacy came back in, carrying two bags of McDonald’s breakfasts, and two large coffees. “I knew you’d not be able to eat. I saw it as they were loading it up. Disgusting! I got you something good tasting, even if it isn’t good for you. Eat up.”

She’d gotten him three Egg McMuffins with extra cheese, hash browns and plenty of ketchup and pepper.

“How did you know?”

Her smile faded a little, “Pete loved ’em. I took a wee chance.”

“It’s all right, Kacy. You can’t help falling into old habits. It’s kind of cool, in a way, knowing he and I liked the same things. It gives me a little connection.” He shook massive amounts of pepper on his egg and took a huge, satisfied bite. “You have no idea how good this tastes right now!”

Someone came in to take his food tray and smiled as he tried to look innocent.

“You’ve got the good stuff there, don’t ya?” The heavy set black woman said cheerfully. “Put some meat on you. You are one tall, skinny white boy!”

“Aw, come on, I bet you like your men tall and skinny.”

She raised an eyebrow, a quick flicker of her eyes at Kacy. “Well, I do at that, but not when they belong to some other woman. You just keep to yourself, honey.”

She winked. He laughed loudly, almost choking on his food in the process. He spewed a few crumbs onto the sheets.

“Yes, ma’am. You serving lunch too?”

“I might be, then again I might send someone else in here to put a collar on you. You’re getting wild. I hope they’re planning to let you out soon.”

“I promise I’ll behave. Scout’s honor.”

She took up his tray, tipping her nose in the air, she walked to the door. “Mm hm, I bet you wasn’t even a Boy Scout,” she said as the door shut behind her.

“I was too a Boy Scout for a whole semester.” He grinned broadly, taking another huge bite.

“Why didn’t you stay in?” Kacy asked.

Deacon’s smile faded slightly as he remembered. “I got moved to a new home, they couldn’t be bothered to take me, so I had to quit. It wasn’t a lot of fun anyway, since all the kids came with their moms and dads. I didn’t have anyone but Mr. Petry, and he was about seventy years old.”

“Deacon, were you ever happy growing up?”

He stayed silent so long, she thought he’d forgotten her question, but he was thinking.

“Once in a while, yeah. Mostly, I wasn’t really happy at all. I don’t think I ever got really happy until I met you.” Having said more than he intended, he concentrated on his food.

Kacy sat quietly until a telltale sniffle escaped her. “I’m sorry, I’m being bloody awful again. I can’t seem to keep my emotions in check. I feel like I’m on this roller coaster ride that has me up and down like crazy.”

Wiping his hands and lips on the napkins, he held out his arms to her. She came willingly, lowering the side rail, she lay next to him, her head on his shoulder.

“It’s all right. I’ll be out of here soon, and you won’t have to see another hospital room for a long time. That’s what is really getting to you, isn’t it?”

She nodded, wiping her eyes on the sheet. “I just keep remembering. Oh, it was awful, Deacon. He was so still, so pale and he never, ever came back so I could say goodbye. I used to sleep next to him in that horrid bed, praying he’d wake up and tell me everything was all right.”

She snuggled next to him, sniffling. He felt her tears warm and wet on his hospital gown.

“Go home with Dino and rest. When the doctor comes by I’ll find out how soon they’ll cut me loose. Maybe I’ll get lucky and they will spring me tomorrow.”

“Oh, tomorrow! I completely forgot! Pete’s parents are coming in. What am I gonna do?”

“Call them, tell them to rent a car, and have Dino give them directions.”

“Have Dino give who directions to where?” Dino walked in the door just then, carrying another bag of food. “You already ate?”

“My fault, Dino. I went for a walk, and there it was like Mecca.”

“No problem, I’m starving. Mind?” He sat down and started to eat. “Who needs directions?”

“Oh, Pete’s folks are coming in tomorrow. I was going to go pick them up, but under the circumstances….”

“I’ll go, no problem.”

“I was just going to have them rent a car and drive up.”

“With Pete’s mom as intense as she is? Hell no, I’ll get them. She’d have Ev crazy before they got out of town. I can ignore her.”

“You won’t mind?”

“Not at all. People want a friendly face coming into town. It’s been a while since I saw them. Maybe I can help prepare them.”

“For seeing me, isn’t that what you mean, Dino?”

The older man nodded. “I have to admit, it was rather a shock to me. I honestly didn’t know what to think when I first saw you. I swear, I think you guys are brothers.”

“Kacy told me Pete was adopted, it’s very possible that we were.”

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