Archive by Author | dellanioakes

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 10

He sat down with his foot up at Dr. Cooper’s insistence. Mrs. Cooper brought him a cold drink, an ice pack and a two aspirin.

“Coop says to take two every six hours. He doesn’t like the look of that bruise. He’s afraid you could get a clot. No alcohol, mind you, until it heals and if it’s not better in a couple days, he’ll check it again.”

Downcast and feeling put upon, Deacon leaned back sipping his soda, trying not to think about Hillary Du Champs. He transferred the ice pack to his head.

I think I’m getting a migraine. Jeez, what else can go wrong today?

Around noon, the workers took a break. Dino went to the deli next door and brought subs back for everyone. Deacon, foot still up, sat with a towel over his lap and tucked under his chin like a bib.

“I feel ridiculous,” he muttered to Dino, who sat on the riser next to him.

Dino eyed him critically. “You look it too,” he grinned. “Sorry about that incident. I talked to her before she left.” He dropped his voice, turning his face from the volunteers, hardly moving his lips. “She’s been through a tough time, the last year or so.”

“She sort of told me about her boyfriend.”

Dino shook his head. “Her husband. You remember Pete Du Champs, the stunt man?”

Deacon nodded. Pete Wild Man Du Champs was something of a legend in the stunt business. He had a reputation for pulling off the impossible. Every action major flick wanted Pete at the helm.

“A stunt went really sour on a movie set. Someone didn’t do his job right, and a pyrotechnic went off at the wrong time, with Pete right on top of it. He didn’t die right away. That was a year ago, he was in a coma all that time. They took him off life support three months ago, after a prolonged court battle. Kacy wanted to set him free, his parents didn’t agree.”

“Why are you telling me this, Dino?”

“Because I know she’s being unreasonable. You need to know why, to understand a little.”

Deacon leaned back, pulling at the towel.

“Pete was a good friend, Deacon. I’ve known Kacy a few years, she knows her shit. Just…cut her some slack, okay?”

“I’ll try, Dino. If she kicks me again, I can’t be held responsible.”

Dino was eyeing him critically. “You know something?”

“What? Did I get something on my chin?” He wiped his face with the towel.

“No, nothing like that. But it might explain some of Kacy’s attitude. You ever see a picture of Pete?”

Deacon shook his head and shrugged. Stunt men tended to be faceless and anonymous. “Not that I remember.”

Dino pulled out his wallet and flipped it open to a picture of himself on a yacht with Kacy and a tall, handsome, blond haired man.

“That’s Pete and Kacy on their honeymoon in the Bahamas. Notice anything?”

Deacon did notice. The face grinning up at him could have been his own. Aside from different haircuts, Deacon’s ear plugs and Pete’s goatee, they were identical. It was a bit of a shock. He said nothing when Dino flipped his wallet closed once more.

Seeing the other man’s face gave him pause. Dino got called away by some of the volunteers, so he had time to mull it over and reflect for a time. Still unsure of his feelings, he shoved the matter aside until he had the luxury of solitary contemplation.

The afternoon progressed, entailing lots of dust and debris. The stage was clear and clean by around five. Even the darkened mark left by the late and lamented electrician had been scrubbed up by some of the ladies. The volunteers bid Deacon farewell, and went home with a feeling of accomplishment.

Dino came in, slipping his phone in his pocket. “I’ll take you home, Deac. You can get cleaned up and then we are going to dinner. Cook’s night off,” he added as if it mattered.

Dino was a superb chef himself. He must have had other reasons. Deacon smiled and stood up, limping to the car with Dino’s help.

“About tomorrow,” Dino said quietly. “We’ll be doing auditions most of the day. The outside painting crew is coming by. I won’t really need you. So why don’t you stay home and work on those set plans and go over lighting plots. There’s a drafting table and supplies in the office….”

“Let me grab the stuff,” Deacon said, intending to go back inside.

“Already done, plus blueprints of the building.”

“Is Madame Du Champs expected to be in attendance?”

“Not sure what Kacy’s plans are, Deacon.”

Dino neatly avoided the subject and started talking about football, and did Deacon think that FSU or UCF was going to win the big game? Since Deacon had no opinion either way, the conversation was a bit one sided.

As Deacon suspected, Kacy was joining them for dinner. She was dressed for a good quality restaurant and Deacon wondered if he had anything decent to wear. He hadn’t anticipated needing any of his good clothing. Seeing his expression, Dino came to his aid.

“There are a few of my things stored in the closet, Deacon. See if anything fits. This isn’t formal.”

He ducked out to go shower. Deacon was dirtier than he’d realized. Just sitting in the room, he’d gotten filthy, especially when the curtains were brought down, by Dino and two of the teenage boys.

Looking at his leg, he could see Dr. Cooper’s concern. The area in the center was whitish, raised and firm to the touch. The surrounding skin was purple, blue, red and black. After he bathed, he found an ace bandage and wrapped his leg carefully, being sure to leave space for his finger under it.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 9

He spent several minutes introducing everyone to Deacon, who knew he would never learn all their names. One of the older ladies, having anticipated this difficulty, had reusable name tags for them all.

“Sometimes even we forget one another,” she explained with a giggle.

She presented Deacon with a name tag and had one for Kacy too, only hers said Hillary. Apparently, the nickname was not widely known. She came in a few minutes later, gladly accepting her name tag, and was introduced to everyone by Dino. She and Deacon noticed he did more schmoozing than working, but no one said anything, it wasn’t a big deal.

“About those set plans,” Kacy approached him, helping him with a stubborn flat. “Have you looked at them?”

He shook his head, unable to speak with the effort of loosening a rusted screw. Giving up with a grunt, he leaned back against the wall and looked down at her.

“Remind me to put tools on the list,” he gasped. “We need power screw drivers, these aren’t gonna do!”

He gasped again, attacking the stubborn screw once more. He sat down hard on his butt when it finally came loose. Laughing, he picked himself up and dusted his jeans.

“No,” he replied belatedly, “not fully, just a glance. Is there a problem?”

“Well,” her brows puckered, “Going to be a difficulty with lighting. Some of the flats are at odd angles and they intended to use the center seating section as part of the set, given its need for secret panels and the like. Going to mean extra lights and some new pipes being set up at the wings.”

“Okay, make me a list of what you need. I still don’t see the problem.”

He was distracted a few minutes by volunteers asking him questions. When he turned around, she was frowning.

“Do you think I don’t know what I’m doing?” Her accent came out most strongly when she was angry.

“I didn’t say that, I just said….”

“That you don’t see the problem.”

“Yeah, so?”

Hands on hips, she stood practically toe to toe with him, glaring up at his chin, angry green eyes flashing. “You’re being obtuse.”

He blinked down at her, it wasn’t exactly what he had expected her to say. “Obtuse?” He unconsciously copied her accent.

“You know what it means, don’t you? Would you like a dictionary, or have you an above average vocabulary?”

“Yeah, I know what it means. But I don’t see how it’s applicable, Kacy.”

“I’m not going to explain. Look at the bloody plans yourself, and then we’ll talk. Honestly! Must I do everything? Oi!” She called to an elderly couple who were setting up a ladder to take down a curtain on the side wall near the wing. “What are you after?”

They looked at one another and then her, shocked into silence.

The woman spoke up hesitantly. “Deacon said to take down the curtains for cleaning.”

She rounded on Deacon, furious. “You told them to take down curtains? Them?” She waved her arm angrily in their direction.

He rolled his eyes heavenward. “Not them specifically. I made a list, and told everyone to break it down and do the jobs they were comfortable with.”

Stalking up to him, she grabbed his sleeve, dragging him out of earshot. “They must be at least seventy-five years old! What were you thinking?” she hissed at him.

“What I’m thinking right now, Hillary,” he said her name with disdain, his whisper louder than he intended, “is that you need to lighten up! Back off and let me do my job, and you do yours!” Fury added volume to his comments.

“Typical male!”

She kicked him in his sore shin and left him hopping up and down, clutching his injured leg, swearing loudly. Several of the older ladies looked scandalized by the invectives he hurled after Hillary. He told her impossible things to do to herself, with vegetables and small rodents. One of the men got him to a chair and checked his leg.

“I’m a semi-retired doctor, young man. Sit still.” He poked and probed with expertise. “Nothing broken, but you’ve got a nasty bruise.”

“Already had that,” Deacon sucked in his breath as the old man pressed the impact site. “Hit it earlier on a coffee table at home.”

“Did she know that?” The doctor’s wife looked appalled.

“Yes, ma’am.”

The volunteers were scandalized.

Kacy poked her head in the door, her arms full of papers. “I’m going home and I’m taking the car. I suggest you find your own way!”

Wonderful, now they think she and I are living together, and this is a lover’s spat.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 8

“Check the hook by the fridge, I think I put the keys up there. The car is in the garage. The VW.”

She got the keys he indicated and went out to the garage. He heard the garage open and the car start up as he hobbled to the door of the house. She stuck her head in, waiting for him. He could hear the car idling in the driveway.

“You want me to drive, then?” Her voice dropping at the end of her sentence, like so many British people did.

He grinned a little, gritting his teeth as he walked to the door. “Please. I would rather not drive standard right now, if I can help it.”

“Do you have house keys?”

“Yeah, on the car key ring.”

“Right, you lock the door, and I’ll get the car open for you.”

He locked the door, pulling it shut with a click. She opened the car door for him, helping him sit in the front seat. It was a tight fit, the car Dino was loaning them was a bright yellow VW. Dino’s favorite color was yellow.

“I love these cars,” she said brightly. “One of the only models I can pull the seat up close enough. Everything else is made for tall people!” She looked disgusted, then glanced over at him. “Not that tall’s a bad thing.”

“Has its advantages. I don’t need a step stool to brush my teeth.”

“Tall people are God’s ladders for short folks,” she remarked happily. Giggling, she put the car in gear and pulled blithely into traffic. She was almost as terrifying a driver as Dino. “Where are we going, by the way?” She sat at an intersection, the light was green and cars honked behind her. “Hold your bloody water!” She made a rude gesture out the window.

“Right and then the third left! Will you go already?”

She took off just as the light turned yellow, causing another chorus of horns and yells behind her.

“Made yourself unpopular just then.”

“Who cares? I won’t see the buggers again, anyway.”

They made the left turn on what felt like two wheels, charged down the narrow street and pulled up in front of the theater. Its faded red paint made it look more like a barn than anything else.

“Ewg, I do hope they intend to paint it!”

He nodded, chuckling. “First thing on the docket Monday morning. I don’t like the red, but Dino wants it to look like it did back in the day. This is all sort of a nostalgia thing.”

“Gotcha,” she added, pulling into a parking space near the door. “Kind of spooky looking, in’it?” Her accent was more pronounced. She leaned over the steering wheel, gazing up at the building.

“Heard the stories?”

“Yeah. First thing I told Dino, after I agreed to come, was to have the wiring checked. Some of it was the original wire! He had it all yanked out and redone.”

“I saw the new spec sheet on the patch panel and dimmer board. He got top of the line stuff. Sound system is great, too.”

They got out and Deacon hobbled over to the steps and jumped up on one foot. He grimaced, struggling to get to the porch three steps up.

“Try putting your weight on it. You’re just gonna make ’em both hurt at that rate. Good one first like you’re going up to heaven. Bad one coming down like you’re going to hell,” she quipped, hardly looking at him.

He gingerly put his foot down, testing his weight. She held his elbow to steady him, giving him a little shove to get him to the top. He nodded his thanks, grateful for the extra support.

“Not too bad, provided I don’t smack it again.”

“Too right! We’re clearing a stage, Deacon. You need shin guards.” She unlocked the door, pushing it open. “The lighting office, is it marked?” She held the door for him as he hobbled through.

“Yes, next door to the TD’s office.” He nodded in the general direction.

She went down the hallway from the vestibule and found her office. Unlocking the door, she peeped in, found the light switch and flipped it on. Dim, blue fluorescent light spilled into the hallway.

“Ewg, Deacon, have you seen this place?”

He limped to her side. The office was painted in garish primary colors, including the ceiling, filing cabinets and floor.

“Hrm, needs work,” he commented tersely, mentally adding it to his list.

“You just provide me paint. I’ll do it myself.”

“You’ll want to seal that paint, the colors look like Tempera. It will probably bleed. Not a matter to worry about today.”

“Naw, it’s bloody awful, but it can wait.” She smiled in an almost friendly fashion. “Where were those set designs?”

He pointed to the closet. She got the plans and he directed her to the designs and renderings, leaving her happily ensconced in her office.

Deacon walked into the stage area, standing in the middle of he arena, surrounded by ranks of rusting chairs on all four sides. This was going to take some doing. He started a list in order of destruction. About half an hour later, the volunteers began to arrive. Dino drove up, grinning happily, impeccably attired in his grubbies, which consisted of neatly pressed Oxford, creased blue jeans and immaculate boots, that looked as if they had never been worn. He even had a crisply pressed bandanna around his neck.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 7

Back in his room, Deacon paced the floor nervously, quietly berating himself. “Oh, my God! Naked! Jeez, what is she going to think of me now? Boorish and an exhibitionist!”

Further remonstrating himself, he dressed slowly. He got his foot caught in his boxer shorts, nearly tearing a hole in his favorite pair. He found some relatively clean jeans, an old shirt that had seen better days and a large, red bandanna for his own hair since the cap had failed to keep most of the dirt off his scalp yesterday. He couldn’t find clean socks for about ten minutes, then his boots were missing. He realized he’d left them in the living room, so he marched out there to get them wearing two different colored socks.

She was sitting in the living room dressed in well worn jeans, a tank top and a flannel shirt with a blue bandanna over her short red hair. Boots on her feet, she was tying them snugly so they wouldn’t move around too much and cause blisters. Her socks matched. He also got a tasty glimpse of her breasts struggling over the top of her shirt. It occurred to him that she wasn’t wearing a bra. Momentarily distracted, he walked over to get his boots, barking his shin painfully on the heavy coffee table.

“Dammit!” he let loose a long string of expletives which would have made most sailors proud, and fell onto the couch clutching his shin.

“Are you all right? Do you need an ice pack?” Hillary jumped up to help him, nearly tripping over her laces.

He shook his head, gritting his teeth. “I’m fine,” he gasped.

“You’re not. Now quit being a big baby, and let me look.”

She shoved his hands aside and rolled up his loose pants leg. The skin was broken slightly and a large purple bruise was already rising.

“You should ice that down before you go. It’s going to swell more, if you don’t.”

“Yeah, I know. I wanted to go walk on the beach.”

“Stay put,” she put a restraining hand on his shoulder, shoving him back to the couch. “I’ll get some ice.”

She walked into the kitchen, aware of his eyes on her. She gave her hips a little extra swing for his benefit. She had not disliked what she had seen earlier. It made her realize how long she had been without a man in her life. Way too long, she thought sadly. She didn’t realize the look of sorrow on her face, as she went back to the living room with the ice in a towel until he gave her a funny look.

“Hillary, are you all right?”

She turned her face away from his gaze, leaning over ostensibly to put the ice on his bruised shin. “Fine. I don’t go by Hillary, by the way. I go by Kacy, from Kassandra, my middle name.”

“Kacy suits you better anyway. Sorry about the comment last night….”

She didn’t let him finish the apology. “Sorry for being such an insufferable bitch.”

She hid her face from him, feeling tears well up in her eyes. She knew she’d been horrid to him. Sometimes she watched herself do and say things to people, as if she were watching a play. The ice was cold on her fingers, she moved her hands abruptly away, but he stopped her before she could rise.

“Thanks. I always seem to be doing stupid shit like that to myself. My girlfriend… ex-girlfriend was always laughing at me. She never got me ice, she would just giggle while I stumbled to the freezer.”

“Sounds like a real sweetheart,” she said, her accent coming out stronger than she intended.

“Sometimes,” he added quietly. “How about you, got a significant other in your life?”

Kacy’s face clouded and Deacon realized he had hit on a poor subject. Too late to change the question, he waited to see how she would answer.

“Not anymore,” she said simply. “He was killed.”

He felt like smacking his head on the coffee table. It couldn’t possibly hurt more than his leg, and he figured it might teach him to watch his mouth.

“I’m sorry. I know that doesn’t really help much….”

He looked at her, seeing her actions from a different angle now. She was building a wall around herself, to keep the hurt away. Kind of like me, he reflected in a sudden dive into self-realization.

“Was it long ago?”

She shook her head. “About a year. He was a stunt man. He was killed when one of the stunts went wrong. Shall we get to work now?”

“It’s a little early really. The volunteers won’t be getting in for about an hour.”

“Good,” she said briskly. “I want to get a feel for the place, and see the sets. Dino said the plans were in one of the offices there.”

“Yes,” he marveled at her self-control. “Locked up in the lighting designer’s closet as a matter of fact. Oh, and I have a few keys for you.” He tossed her a ring full of duplicates he’d had made, each one as carefully labeled as his own.

“Thanks,” she said. Her voice sounded funny as if she were forcing herself to sound upbeat. “Let’s go then, shall we? I assume you have a car at your disposal?”

“Yeah, well sort of. But the theater isn’t far, we can walk there.”

“You oughtn’t you know,” she looked down at his leg. “If you’ve a car we should take it.”

He nodded slowly, trying to remember where he had left his keys. Closing his eyes, he fought around his pain and humiliation, visualizing where he had left them yesterday.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 6

“No trouble. You want coffee? I have bagels and stuff you can fix yourself.”

“Yes, coffee would be wonderful.” Her voice sounded a little less tense. It had a rather musical feel to it, once she quit screaming.

He heard the furniture moved back and the door unlocked. She opened the door a crack and gazed up at him, a little fear still in her eyes. She no longer had the green stuff on her face, but he could see a slight residue around her hairline.

“I think we got off on the wrong foot last night,” he said honestly. “How about a truce over coffee?”

She smiled weakly. “I’m a bit sensitive about my name, I’m afraid. Got teased a lot as a kid.”

He smiled sardonically. “Try growing up with the name Deacon Phineas Stewart, makes Hillary Du Champs sound pretty inviting to me.”

She grinned, slipping out the door, still wearing the short robe and not much else that he could see. She was the first woman he’d seen up close, and nearly naked, for months. He felt stirrings in himself that he’d hoped were dead, for a while anyway.

Damnation, why did she have to be so cute?

Leading the way to the kitchen, he set up the coffee and started it brewing. He was rather proud of his coffee. He had the knack of blending it so it was almost lethally strong, but not bitter. When Deacon talked about black coffee, he meant black not dark brown. When it was ready, he poured it in two mugs, setting it down on the table in front of her with a slight click. He got out half and half and sugar and put them on the table as well, handing her a spoon.

She didn’t say anything, just sat sipping her coffee, gazing out the window at the beach. The tide was coming in and flowing in eddying pools, creating patches of blue all over the beach. People were out for their early morning jogs or riding bikes and walking dogs in the surf.

Deacon hadn’t spent much time on the beach yet, he’d not had a chance, but they didn’t have to be at the theater until nine and it was only seven.

“Want to go for a walk? Be nice to get fresh air. I’ve been in the City so long though, not sure my lungs can take it.”

“I’ll pass, thanks. I need to get a shower and wash my hair before we go to work.”

“You might want to wait on the hair for now,” he said contemplatively. “The old place is pretty filthy. You’d do better just to put a bandanna over it, and wash it when you get back.”

She looked at him, trying to judge if he was serious or not. “Maybe I’ll wait then. Thanks.”

She rose and walked quickly back to her room. He watched her walk away, once again admiring the view. She had a great ass, so tight he could bounce a quarter off it. Even though she was short, she could strut like a super model. He couldn’t help staring as she walked away from him, trying hard to control the drool suddenly pouring into his half open mouth.

Figuring he should at least attempt to get some of yesterday’s grime off himself, he went to his room and started the shower, turning some music on loud enough to hear over the water. He enjoyed the hot water and despite his advice to Ms. Du Champs, washed his own hair before he remembered.

He was just drying off when he heard screams coming from her room. It was a really gut wrenching sound, so he figured he’d better see what it was. Running out of his room with just a towel around him, he got to her room in a matter of seconds. She was running out, a damp towel clutched around her, when they collided. Towels fell to the floor and they stared at one another in shock. He recovered his aplomb first, picking up their towels, he handed hers back to her, holding his in front of him.

“Are you all right? I heard screams.”

“Huge, ugly! Huge!” She was in a near panic, pointing at the room.

“What, where?” He walked into the room and she scurried in behind him.

“Bathroom! Huge!”

He walked in and saw the source of her fear. A giant banana spider was in the corner of the shower, gazing down on them with enigmatic charm.

“That? That’s why you’re screaming?”

She clutched her towel, hiding behind him, shivering. “I hate spiders,” she said in a quavering voice. “Kill it! Kill it! Please?” she added as an afterthought.

Looking around for a suitable weapon, he found nothing. Her shoes were too small to be much use and his were too far away. He didn’t think she’d want him to leave, so he took his towel, rolled it up and snapped it with expert precision at the spider. It fell to the bottom of the tub where he scooped it up with her slipper and tossed it into the toilet, flushing it as it tried to climb up the side.

She was shivering and cowering just inside the doorway when he turned around. He still held the towel in one hand and the slipper in another, smiling broadly.

“See? All gone, no more huge, ugly spider.”

It was then he realized he was naked. He felt the blush start at his neck, work its way up his face and creep to the roots of his hair.

“Excuse me,” he held the towel in front of himself again, not even bothering to wrap it around his waist, and scurried from the room.

If he had seen the look that Hillary Du Champs gave him as he walked rapidly away, he might have stayed in her room. She watched him thoughtfully as he bustled back to the master bedroom, slamming the door behind him. With eyebrow raised, she clicked her door shut.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 5

He stopped talking, clamping his lips together as Hillary Du Champs walked in the door with the smallest bag over her shoulder, surveying the magnificent guest house in disgust.

“You can go now,” she said to Deacon, who stared at her in horrified surprise.

“Excuse me, Ms. Du Champs, but I live here. I’m not going anywhere. If you don’t like the living arrangements, feel free to find a hotel. There are plenty along the beach.”

She eyed him furiously, spinning around to the poor, defenseless Dino. “I hope you’re kidding! You expect me to live in the same house with this baboon?” She indicated Deacon with a wave of one tiny, furious hand. “This is unacceptable!”

“I tried to get you a room at a hotel, Hillary, but it’s Biketoberfest. They’re booked solid. I won’t be able to get you anything for a week. Until then, you will just have to keep out of one another’s way. Your room is in there,” he nodded toward one of the smaller single bedrooms. Deacon occupied the master suite.

“Excuse me? I’m in the little bedroom? Who’s in the master bedroom?”

Deacon waved the hand with the beer, tipping up the bill of his cap with the tip of the bottle. “That would be me,” he said as sarcastically as he could manage. “The baboon.” He made monkey noises, scratching his armpit.

She said nothing, just stormed into the room and kicked the door shut. Dino piled her bags outside her door and turned to leave.

“Deacon, I’m so sorry. How can I make this up to you?”

Deacon gauged his voice to carry through the solid door. “Get the gorgon a place to stay as soon as possible.”

Dino glanced toward the door in horror as he heard the closet door thump open and drawers bang shut.

“I’ll see what I can do.” He ran out of the house, slamming the door behind him.

Deacon got another beer, sat down on the sectional couch, and leaned back in the recliner. He flipped stations until he found a movie he wanted to see on HBO, and turned up the sound. He loved a good action movie and this was one of the best, Aliens, with Sigourney Weaver. The gun fire got rather loud at one point, and he saw the door to the bedroom open for a moment, then slam shut. Just to be annoying, he turned up the sound and waited to see what would happen.

“Excuse me, Mr. Stewart!” She stood there in a short, red silk robe with some kind of green cream on her face. “I’m trying to get some sleep, do you mind? I’ve had a long day, and a tiring trip, could you turn it down?”

He looked at her, admiring her figure even if he didn’t much like her attitude. “I’m sorry, Ms. Du Champs, I can’t hear you.”

He continued to watch his movie, sipping his beer in careless nonchalance. She stood in front of the screen, arms akimbo, glaring at him. He took out a slightly crushed pack of Marlboros and lit one, blowing smoke in her direction.

“Would you not smoke that nasty thing in the house? How rude!”

She made a grab for the package of cigarettes he had set on the table, intent upon throwing them into a nearby trash can, but Deacon caught her hand, pulling her face close to his own. Leaning in, he exhaled the smoke, speaking very quietly. No one could mistake the tone in which he addressed her. Deacon Stewart was not a man who took this sort of behavior lightly. His sultry, Southern accent came out strong when he was angry.

“I think instead it is you, Ms. Du Champs, who needs a lesson in manners. If I weren’t a gentleman, I’d be teaching you that lesson. Now, before I lose my temper completely, and do something I’ll regret later when the police arrive, I suggest you march your fine, tight, little ass back in that room and put a pillow over your head if you don’t like the volume of the TV.”

He released her with a jerk, tossing her hand away from him as if it were dirty. With a look of disgust, he devoted his full attention to the television where Sigourney was going in to rescue Newt from the felonious alien menace. Ms. Du Champs stood in stunned silence, watching him with an expression of mixed anger and fear.

He rose to get another drink and she ran back to her room, slamming the door shut. He heard her lock the door and drag a piece of furniture across it. Smiling to himself, he popped the lid off another beer and sat back down to watch the end of the movie. He fell asleep in the chair, waking up around six in the morning. His back was stiff and his mouth tasted like something had died in it, so he got up and brushed his teeth.

Since he was already awake, he decided to fix coffee and breakfast for himself. Then he remembered he had a roommate. In an effort to foster congeniality, he tapped lightly on her door to wake her. He heard her moving around in the room, obviously still in bed. He could picture the blankets askew, her compact figure covered lightly with the sheet, the material clinging tastily to the curves of her body. He stopped that line of thought, and took control of himself. It had been a while since he’d been with a woman, but he wasn’t going to start lusting after Hilary Du Champs. She hated him, and he wasn’t fond of her either. He’d much rather bed a viper than the petite redhead.

He pitched his voice to carry through the heavy wooden door, sounding as friendly as possible. “Ms. Du Champs, I’m fixing breakfast. Would you like something to eat or maybe some coffee?”

She didn’t answer right away, when she did there was a distinct tremor in her voice. “Don’t go to any trouble, Mr. Stewart. I can manage myself, thanks.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 4

Deacon went on in some detail watching Dino’s smile suddenly fade rapidly. Turning around, he saw a petite, auburn haired woman glaring up at him. She held three or four large bags, which she dropped almost on Deacon’s feet.

Dino’s smile was artificial, his tan turned a few shades lighter. “Deacon Stewart, I’d like to introduce you to our lighting designer,” he gulped. “Hillary Du Champs.”

Deacon held out his hand, taking his cap off his head. “Pleased to meet you, Ms. Du Champs.”

She glared at him and didn’t take his proffered hand. “Don’t mind me,” she said with a strong Australian accent, “I’m just a little, old French lady with a bad accent!”

Deacon sighed, realizing he had put his foot in deeply this time. As penance, he picked up three of the bags, Ms. Du Champs snatched the smallest off the floor before he could touch it.

“Who’s the flunky?” she directed impolitely at Dino.

She walked ahead of Deacon, beside Dino who shortened his stride to compensate for her lack of stature. She couldn’t be much over five feet tall, Deacon thought. He’d never gotten along well with little women. They tended to be bossy and arrogant, with something to prove.

Deacon was around six foot three and lanky of build. His dark blond hair was curly, unruly and a constant source of aggravation to him. His blue eyes were rimmed with dark eyelashes, giving him a sleepy look. In high school, he’d been mistakenly accused of being stoned more often than he could count.

In an act of defiance of his military foster father, he’d gotten plugs in his ears and an eyebrow pierced. Several tattoos decorated his arms and another on his right buttock, a challenge from a college roommate, one night when they were too drunk to give a shit. He was sure he presented a bedraggled figure to the compact, attractive and well groomed woman ahead of him. Not quite the picture of a well qualified professional man.

He noted, absently, that she had a great figure and a nice, tight ass, which distracted him so much, he nearly ran into the door jam as the automatic door slid open. He set the bags down as they waited for the elevator, and looked down at Hillary.

“I’m sorry about what I said. I didn’t realize you were there.”

“And that makes it all right to insult me, as I can’t hear you? You’re an uneducated buffoon, Mr. Whatever. I hope to have as little contact with you as possible. So just do your job, tote the bags and don’t talk to me!”

Deacon’s temper nearly got the better of him, but the elevator arrived, giving them a few moments of struggle as they pulled her bags on board. Dino hit the button for the parking garage.

Getting to the car, Dino opened the back, and Deacon loaded the bags into the luggage space. He tried to open the door for Ms. Du Champs, but she walked pointedly away from him. He slid in the front seat himself, shutting the door in her face.

“Now see here,” she reprimanded him. “Since when does the flunky sit in the front seat and the professional woman sit in the back seat with the cooler?”

Deacon rolled his eyes in her direction, giving her a scathing look before lowering the brim of his cap over his eyes, resuming his relaxed travel position. “Since the flunky is the technical director of the theater, and the professional woman is being a snooty bitch.” He said firmly, fastening his seat belt with an abrupt snap.

“Well, that’s some nerve!” She climbed into the back seat, slamming the door louder than was necessary. She muttered incoherently as she fastened her belt and situated herself.

Dino started the car and took off in his usual cavalier style. Ms. Du Champs was silent for some time, just trying to stay in an upright position while Dino drove down the ramps at forty miles an hour. He cut into the outgoing traffic and sped into the night, zipping in and out of traffic seemingly at random.

“Really, Dino, do you have to drive so carelessly?” she griped at him now, letting Deacon off the hook, for the time being.

“It’s better when you don’t look,” Deacon murmured, sliding lower into the seat.

Deacon turned up the CD player, now playing his favorite Kenny Wayne Shepherd song, Electric Lullaby. He liked the guitarist’s smooth, jazzy blues. It was relaxing, something he needed just then.

Ms. Du Champs complained about that, too, so he turned it up some more to drown her out. Dino looked as if he were trying to set a speed record to get home. After a while, Ms. Du Champs decided that bitching was only making him drive faster. She sat back, lips clamped tightly together and made the best of things. When they’d arrived, Deacon got out of the car and walked into the guest house without offering to get Ms. Du Champs’ bags from the back, leaving that dubious honor to Dino.

He walked to the refrigerator, grabbed a bottle of imported Lager, and sat down in front of the TV. Commotion at the door caused him to rise. Walking over, he opened it to see a red faced Dino on the doorstep, bags in hand.

“Move! I think I’m getting a hernia!” he wheezed, shoving by Deacon and dropping the bags on the floor.

“She’s not moving in here, is she?” Deacon was horrified.

Dino’s plaintive look told Deacon the frightening truth.

“Jesus, Dino, she’s a menace! What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking that it’s a big house, and the two of you could share, at least for now.” He looked pained. “I’m sorry, Deacon, I honestly had no idea….”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 4

Deacon went on in some detail watching Dino’s smile suddenly fade rapidly. Turning around, he saw a petite, auburn haired woman glaring up at him. She held three or four large bags, which she dropped almost on Deacon’s feet.

Dino’s smile was artificial, his tan turned a few shades lighter. “Deacon Stewart, I’d like to introduce you to our lighting designer,” he gulped. “Hillary Du Champs.”

Deacon held out his hand, taking his cap off his head. “Pleased to meet you, Ms. Du Champs.”

She glared at him and didn’t take his proffered hand. “Don’t mind me,” she said with a strong Australian accent, “I’m just a little, old French lady with a bad accent!”

Deacon sighed, realizing he had put his foot in deeply this time. As penance, he picked up three of the bags, Ms. Du Champs snatched the smallest off the floor before he could touch it.

“Who’s the flunky?” she directed impolitely at Dino.

She walked ahead of Deacon, beside Dino who shortened his stride to compensate for her lack of stature. She couldn’t be much over five feet tall, Deacon thought. He’d never gotten along well with little women. They tended to be bossy and arrogant, with something to prove.

Deacon was around six foot three and lanky of build. His dark blond hair was curly, unruly and a constant source of aggravation to him. His blue eyes were rimmed with dark eyelashes, giving him a sleepy look. In high school, he’d been mistakenly accused of being stoned more often than he could count.

In an act of defiance of his military foster father, he’d gotten plugs in his ears and an eyebrow pierced. Several tattoos decorated his arms and another on his right buttock, a challenge from a college roommate, one night when they were too drunk to give a shit. He was sure he presented a bedraggled figure to the compact, attractive and well groomed woman ahead of him. Not quite the picture of a well qualified professional man.

He noted, absently, that she had a great figure and a nice, tight ass, which distracted him so much, he nearly ran into the door jam as the automatic door slid open. He set the bags down as they waited for the elevator, and looked down at Hillary.

“I’m sorry about what I said. I didn’t realize you were there.”

“And that makes it all right to insult me, as I can’t hear you? You’re an uneducated buffoon, Mr. Whatever. I hope to have as little contact with you as possible. So just do your job, tote the bags and don’t talk to me!”

Deacon’s temper nearly got the better of him, but the elevator arrived, giving them a few moments of struggle as they pulled her bags on board. Dino hit the button for the parking garage.

Getting to the car, Dino opened the back, and Deacon loaded the bags into the luggage space. He tried to open the door for Ms. Du Champs, but she walked pointedly away from him. He slid in the front seat himself, shutting the door in her face.

“Now see here,” she reprimanded him. “Since when does the flunky sit in the front seat and the professional woman sit in the back seat with the cooler?”

Deacon rolled his eyes in her direction, giving her a scathing look before lowering the brim of his cap over his eyes, resuming his relaxed travel position. “Since the flunky is the technical director of the theater, and the professional woman is being a snooty bitch.” He said firmly, fastening his seat belt with an abrupt snap.

“Well, that’s some nerve!” She climbed into the back seat, slamming the door louder than was necessary. She muttered incoherently as she fastened her belt and situated herself.

Dino started the car and took off in his usual cavalier style. Ms. Du Champs was silent for some time, just trying to stay in an upright position while Dino drove down the ramps at forty miles an hour. He cut into the outgoing traffic and sped into the night, zipping in and out of traffic seemingly at random.

“Really, Dino, do you have to drive so carelessly?” she griped at him now, letting Deacon off the hook, for the time being.

“It’s better when you don’t look,” Deacon murmured, sliding lower into the seat.

Deacon turned up the CD player, now playing his favorite Kenny Wayne Shepherd song, Electric Lullaby. He liked the guitarist’s smooth, jazzy blues. It was relaxing, something he needed just then.

Ms. Du Champs complained about that, too, so he turned it up some more to drown her out. Dino looked as if he were trying to set a speed record to get home. After a while, Ms. Du Champs decided that bitching was only making him drive faster. She sat back, lips clamped tightly together and made the best of things. When they’d arrived, Deacon got out of the car and walked into the guest house without offering to get Ms. Du Champs’ bags from the back, leaving that dubious honor to Dino.

He walked to the refrigerator, grabbed a bottle of imported Lager, and sat down in front of the TV. Commotion at the door caused him to rise. Walking over, he opened it to see a red faced Dino on the doorstep, bags in hand.

“Move! I think I’m getting a hernia!” he wheezed, shoving by Deacon and dropping the bags on the floor.

“She’s not moving in here, is she?” Deacon was horrified.

Dino’s plaintive look told Deacon the frightening truth.

“Jesus, Dino, she’s a menace! What were you thinking?”

“I was thinking that it’s a big house, and the two of you could share, at least for now.” He looked pained. “I’m sorry, Deacon, I honestly had no idea….”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 3

Deacon popped the can open and set it in the cup holder between the seats. Before opening his own, he held it against his forehead, letting the condensed water on the outside pool on his forehead and run down his nose.

“You okay, Deac?”

“Yeah, just looking over everything that has to be done. It’s a hell of a job, Dino. I’m not sure we’ll make opening. Are you sure you want to try for that?”

“Well, it’s keeping in the whole rebuilding the theater thing, Deacon. That was the original show date six years ago. I’d like to keep to that. We can get more men, got to be plenty of out of work construction people around.”

“We need some experienced set painters, lighting and sound techs. Construction guys can’t do that. They’ll do fine with the actual construction, but not the decoration.”

“I’ve got a deal with the local college. They’ll be sending over their junior and senior students, who need some practical experience. They are working for a minimal stipend, and the glitz on their resumes.” He flashed a five star smile.

Dino would spend money like water, but if he could get something cheap, he took it. Deacon laughed. The alternative wasn’t pretty. He didn’t want an argument with his new boss.

“Okay, so you have me a tech crew of green kids, a set crew of construction workers and a professional lighting designer. Is this another case of sympathy, or did you really snag some talent this time?”

Dino chuckled, checking his mirrors before merging onto I-95 South. “Just wait, you’ll be surprised.”

“Is it someone I know?”

“I doubt it. Been in the field quite a while, done some work with Theater Works and the like. Just looking for a change of scene I guess. Florida does have some small appeal, after all.”

Dino was being cagey and wanted to surprise Deacon, causing a shiver of apprehension to run down his spine. Anytime anyone had ever said to him, you’ll be surprised, he usually was, and unpleasantly.

Tipping his Metallica hat over his eyes, Deacon leaned back, folding his hands on his broad chest to rest for the remainder of the trip. He didn’t really like the way Dino drove, and the less he saw of the actual trip to the Orlando airport at rush hour, the better he felt. Dino didn’t seem to mind, just turned up his music and sang along.

He had decent taste in music, anyway and not a bad voice. Soon, Deacon was falling asleep with the eerie lyrics of Bodies Like Sheep by A Perfect Circle, fluttering around in his mind. Go back to sleep, go back to sleep….

He dozed without dreaming, waking when he felt the car come to a lurching stop outside a restaurant. It was one of the many Dino owned, a casual place which wouldn’t mind the fact that Deacon wasn’t dressed for a night on the town. He got the impression his new boss didn’t want to drag his grubby ass to the nicer spots. Deacon didn’t care, to be honest. He didn’t like fancy places, and wasn’t comfortable in them.

They were led to the best table in the house and relaxed, listening to the band. Dino always had live music, and gave local bands a chance. Several had gotten recording contracts because of his sponsorship. This band didn’t really suit Deacon’s taste, being of the hard core genre. It wasn’t exactly good dinner music, but since the meal was free, he wasn’t arguing. He ordered a Philly Steak platter and a Coke, in deference to his employer. He’d rather have had a beer, but didn’t think it was polite. He could wait until he got home, and pop open a few. He intended to spend another night in front of the TV in Dino’s well appointed guest house. The fridge was constantly restocked, by some unseen worker, with the best beers in the world. He could have whatever he wanted and more magically appeared.

The band switched to some mellower music as the dinner crowd dribbled in around six. He and Dino sat around, talking, making plans. At seven o’clock, they left the restaurant and drove to the airport. Dino found a spot to park in the large parking garage and slid into it, barely missing the Mercedes on his left and the minivan on his right.

The the two men went to the luggage pick up and waited for the lighting designer. Deacon looked around at the long room blankly. He hated airports, and he detested waiting for people in them.

“Want to give me a description, so I can help look?”

“Not to worry, I’ll know.”

“Mind telling me the name?”

Dino looked at his watch, checked the arrival board and started down the long expanse of luggage pick up.

“Wouldn’t you know, the last one on this end? Isn’t it always like that?”

“The name, Dino?” He wasn’t so much curious as he was just annoyed with the secrecy.

Dino chuckled, enjoying Deacon’s frustration too much. “I guess it’s fine to tell you now. I was able to get Hillary K. Du Champs.”

The name was not unknown to Deacon, he had heard it often enough in theater circles up north.

“Hillary Du Champs? Sounds like a little, old French lady with a bad accent.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 2

Deacon shuddered again, this time from cold. It was about forty degrees in there. Even with his heavy pants, boots and sweater, he was chilly. It was colder back home, but there was something to be said about the difference in humidity. He had located the heating and air conditioning unit, and had someone work on it; weekend overtime, he sighed. He was competent with a lot of things, but he wasn’t secure with electricity. He left that to the experts.

He found a light switch, flicked it on and the dressing room blazed with dozens of light bulbs. There were cobwebs in the wigs which had been left out on the counter. Boxes of theater makeup were open and about a ton of dust covered the tubes. The floor was also thick with sand drifting in through the cracks in the walls and foundation, around windows and under doors. It was a petrified wasteland.

I’m never gonna get this ready in time. Some low stress.

He was going to end up half killing himself on late nights and early mornings. At least coffee was cheaper than cocaine, and caffeine wouldn’t bring on a psychotic episode. He had to thank heaven for his blessings, no matter how small.

The opening play Dino had chosen to present was the ill fated show which had been slated to go up six years ago. It was a who-done-it spoof called Any Number Can Die. The set was already designed and partially built. Deacon had to see how much of the lumber, canvas and paint needed replacing. He didn’t hold out much hope of salvaging anything. Florida weather was pretty harsh on building materials, even if they were under cover. What the heat and humidity hadn’t destroyed, he was afraid the bugs had.

Sunday, was scheduled for stage clean up. La Petite Theater Society, who had been the backbone of the theater in the old days, had volunteered to come in and clear the stage and dressing rooms so that auditions could commence on Monday.

Deacon thought that having the technicians and construction people there, at the same time actors were going to be wandering about, was a serious judgment error. Dino insisted, he wanted the cast to get the feel for their environment. Deacon wasn’t in a position to argue, so he said what he thought, and closed his mouth. He’d learned the futility of arguing with directors a long time ago.

Making a mental list of all the tasks to be done, he decided that was not only pointless, it was foolish. Surely there would be paper in the office. He never went anywhere without a pen and pencil, but paper wasn’t included in his pocket inventory. This particular implement was left from a set Frieda had given him on their first anniversary. He used it, hoping it would run out of ink so he would have the excuse to throw it away. Unlike their relationship, it kept going interminably.

The office was locked, but he had a huge ring of keys Dino had given him. Each was carefully marked. Choosing the one marked technical director, he opened the door and searched until he found a stack of typing paper. He sat in the rather dubious chair, that looked like it was WW II Army surplus, and started his list. Each entry sparked a new idea and soon he had three handwritten pages. His printing was precise, having drawn set designs for so many years. He was getting a cramp in his left hand and put his pen down to massage it thoughtfully.

The phone next to his elbow rang, startling him so much, he jumped away as if it were a snake. Tentatively, he picked it up and spoke softly, the sound of his own voice echoing in the silent building, making him think he was waking old ghosts.

“Seaside Little Theater, may I help you?”

Dino’s familiar baritone shout greeted him. He was the singularly loudest man Deacon had ever met. He meant well and was sparing no expense getting the place up and running. He could afford it, being the third richest man in the entire state.

“Deac! How are you! They got the phone connected, that’s super! Did you get the power on?”

“Yeah, I found the breaker switches about thirty minutes ago. The heat’s on and warming up nicely in here.”

“Excellent! Listen, why don’t you call it a day, for now. You can’t do any of the cleanup solo. Besides, I have to pick up the lighting designer in Orlando. You fancy a drive down? I hate making that trip alone. The company would be welcome. We’ll catch dinner downtown and head to the airport. The plane is in around seven forty-five.”

“Sure, sounds good. I’ll lock up and turn off the lights and see you when you get here.”

Deacon hung up and made the rounds checking doors, windows and lights, bidding a goodnight to the ghosts. He shut and locked the front door behind him, just as Dino drove up in his bright yellow SUV.

Hopping into the front seat, Deacon stretched out his long legs, relaxing in the luxury of the dark leather interior. Dino spared no expense on anything he owned. This was maxed out, complete with a DVD player and video game hook up in the back. Not that Dino had any kids, he just wanted the whole package, and paid cash for it. They threw in spinners, mud flaps, and chrome wheel rims for free.

“There’s some drinks in the back, grab one. You must be thirsty after being in all that dust.”

Dino was fastidious, but didn’t even blink at all the dust and cobwebs Deacon dragged into his car. He’d pay someone to clean it out later.

There was an electric cooler in the back. Deacon reached into it, finding a selection of soft drinks. Dino was a recovering alcoholic, he had nothing stronger than root beer. Grabbing a Coke, he asked Dino what he’d have.

“Vanilla Coke, thanks.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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