Archive by Author | dellanioakes

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 34

They heard Dino’s car start up and he stopped beside them.

“Reyes will be contacting Madame Fleur, and I said I would come with him to translate. She understands fine, she refuses to speak English, for some reason.” He shrugged. “I’ll keep you posted.”

“Take it easy, Dino. You watch out for yourself, or I’m going to be beastly and force feed you your medicine.”

“Yes, Ma’am!” He snapped a saucy salute and drove off, nearly having a couple collisions just pulling out of the driveway.

“Well, we have all afternoon off. What shall we do with ourselves?” Deacon looked slyly at Kacy.

“I see that look, you dirty, naughty man! I know what you want to be doing!” She slapped playfully at him.

“I was going to suggest a walk on the beach, maybe dinner and a movie? But if you’d rather hang out at the house and have incredible sex, I think I could arrange that.”

Giggling, she walked to the car and he opened the door for her again. Slipping inside, she fastened her belt as he walked around to the driver’s side.

“Hey, Deacon, did you leave this here?” She was pointing to an envelope on the seat.

Deacon pulled on his work glove before he picked it up. “No, I didn’t. I wonder what it is.”

“Don’t open it! You don’t know what it might be. Here.” She handed him a clean Ziploc bag from her purse.

“You always carry sandwich bags around with you?”

“You’d be surprised at how handy they are, I always have at least one.”

Deacon chuckled, taking the bag, he put the envelope carefully inside, sealing the bag.

“First stop the police station. Don’t suppose you know where it is?”

“Actually, yes. I saw it the other day when I was shopping. Head west till you hit US-1 and it’s north of Canal Street, a few miles. It’s on the highway on your left, you can’t miss it.”

“That’s always the kiss of death. I can’t believe it’s that easy.”

“No, seriously, it’s a piece of cake. You want me to drive?”

“I can manage, thanks.” He started the car and pulled into traffic much more carefully than she and Dino.

“You drive like my grandmum, Deacon.”

“I have to be careful.”

“Well it is Dino’s car, after all.”

“That’s only part of it.” He glanced at her, then back at the road. “I’ve got precious cargo. I’m not going to do anything stupid to risk losing you.”

Kacy sniffled loudly, wiping a tear. “Oh, Deacon, you’re too bloody nice to me.” She rummaged around in her purse, but couldn’t find a tissue.

Chuckling, he handed her his bandanna, it hadn’t been used that day and was still clean. She wiped her eyes, handing it back to him.

“Hang onto it. The way our conversations go, you might need it again.”

“I do get rather emotional, don’t I? I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’m getting all worked up over this. It’s not like me to carry on so. You’ll want to be getting over soon, it’s just ahead.”

She pointed to the lighted blue plastic sign which said Police and bore the city crest. He slipped quickly into the left lane and made his turn at the next corner.

Their conversation with the desk sergeant was short and to the point. Detective Reyes was interviewing Madame, but they could leave the envelope and its contents with him. He filled out some paperwork, got their signatures, phone numbers and other important information. Driving back to the house, Deacon pulled over in a parking lot, stopping the car.

“What are you doing?” Kacy looked puzzled.

“Madame’s had offers on her property. I wonder if she and Dino compared names, if there are any in common.”

“Deacon, the police will take care of this, why are you worrying about it?”

“I wonder if Uncle Charlie got offers to sell, or Aunt Sophie? I don’t suppose there are any other relatives?”

“We’d have to ask Dino.”

“I keep thinking it’s not the building that he’s after so much as the land. Like Dino said, that is a prime parcel. If someone also had the spots next to it….”

He put the car in gear and pulled into traffic as cavalierly as Kacy. Horns honking followed them down the road. He waved a middle finger out the window as he accelerated.

“Where are we going?”

“To the florist.”

“What? Deacon, what do you want flowers for?”

“Trust me.”

He drove quickly, recklessly and zipped into the driveway of the florist shop next to the theater on the other side. Merle’s Florist was nearly as old a business as the deli, but it was no longer Merle who ran it. She had retired several years ago. It was her daughter and grandson who ran it now. Deacon introduced himself and Kacy.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 33

She came back to Deacon, lowering her head, turning her back to the crowd as they filed into the theater doors. “Did I sound convincing?”

Deacon looked puzzled. “What?”

“I’m scared shitless, but if you think I’m going to show it to that lot, you’re daft. Now let’s get in there and with the stiff upper lip, as my grandmum says.” Plastering a confident look on her face, she walked to the theater, chatting with people as she passed.

“Hell of a girl, isn’t she?” Dino looked after her proudly, admiration in his blue eyes.

“Yeah, she is. I wish I’d met her ten years ago.”

Ducking his head so Dino couldn’t meet his eye, he walked into the building, trying to do this best to follow Kacy’s example and act as if nothing was wrong.

The day went smoothly until shortly after the lunch break. Dino bought them all sandwiches from the deli next door. They ate and chatted happily, seated on the floor of the theater, when the lights went out.

“I’ll check the breaker,” Dexter said, pulling on his heavy rubber gloves. He took a flashlight off his belt and walked to the back room where Deacon told him the box was to be found.

“I’ll look outside,” Deacon said, pushing himself slowly to a standing position, his leg having stiffened on him as he sat on the floor.

Just as he reached the back door, a rending crash echoed through the building, followed by the scream of twisting, crunching metal. Sparks illuminated the interior of the darkened building. Hysterical yelling and screaming echoed from the deli next to them. Deacon rushed to the door, but Dino got to it first, throwing it open. Destruction met their eyes. The electrical pole lay at an odd angle, broken about half way up, the top lay on the trucks and cars in the parking lot next door. Sparks flew wildly as the deli emptied out, people trying to run to their cars.

“Everyone out the front door!” Dino yelled, not waiting for anyone to answer.

His cell phone already in his hand, he furiously dialed the emergency services, and followed the rest of them out. The deli evacuated, and the people stood in the parking lot of the theater. Deacon, Mac and Dexter did their best to get everyone accounted for.

The fire trucks and other emergency vehicles arrived in a flurry, shoving them further back. They were trying to stop the fire licking about the roof and back fence of the deli, encroaching upon the smashed and twisted cars. Deacon could just imagine if those caught fire and started moving the crowd further back, to the far side of the theatre lot.

Police set crowd control barriers in a wide perimeter, keeping idle spectators at bay. “Nothing to see here,” they said. “Please move along.” No one moved on, and the police didn’t really expect them to, but they had to try to do their jobs.

Several tense hours later, the fire chief decided the deli was saved and could rebuild. The cars didn’t blow up as Deacon feared, but the fire cast a pall over the day. Dino told everyone to go home. Meanwhile, he went to the deli’s owner, talking earnestly to her in French. She was the smallest woman Deacon had ever seen. He didn’t know her name. The others all called her Madame, and deferred to her as if she were a goddess. Dino spoke consolingly to her, also to the owners of the damaged cars.

He eventually made his way back to Deacon and Kacy, who were the only ones left in the lot. “I told her I would help pay for the repairs. Her deductibles are outrageous. I also am going to help rent cars for those people, until they can settle with their insurance companies.”

“Dino, that’s so thoughtful of you,” Kacy said quietly, her hand on his shoulder. “You aren’t responsible for that.”

“Madame Fleur told me something interesting. She’s been approached about selling her property as well, in fact for longer than I’ve been. She’s refused like I have. This business is all she has in the world. Her husband and she built it over thirty years ago. He died last year, after a long illness. I paid the medical bill for her, she couldn’t have come up with that kind of cash. Like me, she is holding on for sentimental reasons, although it is a very profitable business. She won’t give it up until she dies.”

“Sort of puts a whole new, spooky spin on things, doesn’t it?” Deacon said what all three of them were thinking.

“Yes, it does,” Dino agreed, taking out his phone. “I think I need to call Detective Reyes immediately, and have him talk to Madame.”

He walked to his car, sitting in the front seat, hunched over his phone, he looked alone and lonely. Kacy could hardly stand to look at him.

“That poor man, he takes everything so to heart. He always has. I worry about him, he has high blood pressure, you know.”

“No, I didn’t. He’s in such good shape, not exactly the kind of person you expect to have that.”

“This father and grandfather and uncle all died of strokes. His dad was only a little older than Dino is now, when he died.” She looked worriedly at Dino and started to take a step toward his car, but Deacon stopped her.

“You can’t be his mother and his friend. You have to choose one, Kacy.”

She smiled sadly. “Pete was always telling me that. I have the same instinct Dino does, I want to take care of everyone.”

Deacon pulled her ever so gently to him their hips touching. “It’s a wonderful characteristic, don’t ever lose it.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 32

“We can’t repaint if they do it again and again, Dino,” Kacy interjected. “How many times can you pay the crew to paint the same bloody place?”

Dino looked at the old building with something akin to sorrow in his eyes. “I’ll paint it as often as necessary, Kacy. It’s silly of me to be such a sentimental fool, but it is something I really want to do, for Uncle Charlie and Aunt Sophie—and me.” He turned away, calling to the painting crew, giving directions in the same respectful, confident, assured tones he always used.

“Don’t you worry, Mr. Sawyer,” the head of the paint crew said sincerely. “We’ll take care of the old girl for you. She’ll look good as new when we’re done. If anyone messes her up again, me and my crew will take it personal like. We’ll find the culprit and paint him!”

It amazed Deacon how Dino was able to elicit such goodhearted loyalty from his people. Not many men would have gotten the same kind of consideration. Deacon was sure he couldn’t have pulled it off, but Dino had. He didn’t put on airs, didn’t act rich and snooty, and he spent lavishly on everyone, not only himself.

The police detective in charge walked over to Dino and spoke softly. Turning to Deacon and Kacy, Dino beckoned them over to his side.

“Anything you need to say, you can say freely in front of Deacon and Kacy. They’re friends of mine and are working with me on this project.”

The policeman introduced himself as Detective Sergeant Reyes. He, like everyone else, treated Dino with deferential respect, but his was paired with a friendly familiarity. Deacon wouldn’t have been surprised if they had been on the football team in high school, or fraternity brothers in college. As it turned out, they had been both.

“Dino, it’s clean as can be inside. We went over it with the K-9 team and everything. We checked the shed, it was locked up tight. Your foreman says everything is accounted for. He’s well organized. He had an inventory sheet and went over it with us.”

“Thanks, Terry. Tell Phyllis to call me. I still haven’t seen that new baby. I hope she looks like her mother.”

“Exactly like her, just as beautiful!”

A little more chitchat and he and his men departed. Dino watched them go, worry etched on his handsome face.

“I don’t like this, Deacon. This time it was just paint, what will it be next time?” He shook his head, digging his toe into the dirt.

“No one was hurt. So far, it’s been the building alone.”

“What if it doesn’t stop at that? What if someone dies, like last time? I don’t want to be responsible. I should shut this down right now.”

“Dino, if you shut this place down and give up, I’ll kick you just like I did Deacon.” Kacy stood facing him, hands on hips, eyes flashing green fire. “You want this badly, I know you do. Whatever your reasons, you need to follow through. You’ve never been a quitter, and I won’t let you start now!”

Instead of bridling or recoiling from her, he hung his head, leaning back against his car. His gaze met Deacon’s, and a flicker of his familiar smile crossed the handsome, strained face.

“I hate when she’s right.”

“Believe me, I do too.”

They laughed quietly, ending abruptly.

“Why do you want it so, Dino?” Kacy’s tone was soft now, comforting. “Not for the reasons you’ve said. Those are excuses to justify it. Why?”

“It’s going to sound so darn stupid and selfish. I’ve built an extensive financial empire, and I’m damn proud of it. But when someone asks me what I’ve done, what I’ve given to the community, I can’t whip out some receipts and show them how much I gave here or there. This is something tangible, visible. I can point to it and say, I did that and be proud. If I ever have a son, I want him to look at that building and think, My dad built that.

Kacy put her hand on his shoulder, then hugged him closely. “Dino, you have done so much for all of us. I understand why you want this, now. Anything I can do to make it happen, I will do.” Kissing his cheek, she walked over to where the paint crew were setting up their scaffolds again.

The construction workers were standing in a group around Mac, leaning on their trucks, most of them smoking. They watched placidly as Kacy advanced.

“Listen here, mates,” she addressed them briskly, her Australian accent stronger than Deacon had ever heard it. “Mr. Sawyer needs our help to get this place whipped in shape. Do you think we can do it?”

The crew looked at one another, then at Kacy’s confident stance, her hands in her back pockets. She was relaxed and at ease, not the least worried. Cracking a smile, Dexter took a few steps toward her.

“Hell, Ms. Du Champs, I need the money. But I’d do this damn job for free, if I had to. Kind of got my Irish up.”

She shook his hand firmly, smiling. Dexter stood next to her, staring the rest of them down.

Mac walked forward next, “Can’t let Sparky have all the glory, count me in.”

Every one of the construction workers came forward and promised to keep working. Everyone got a firm handshake and a personal thank you from Kacy. Deacon watched, amazed. She had come far from the woman everyone was terrified of, to the woman they could admire. He realized that this was the real Kacy, not the angry, hostile, inflammatory woman she had been a few days ago.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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HAPPY BIRHTDAY TO ME!

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I don’t usually draw attention to my birthday, but as I get older, I’ve decided to. I got a message on Facebook a few days ago, reminding me that my birthday is coming up (like I don’t know that. I mean, who forgets?) and asking me if I wanted to set up a fund raiser. I don’t. There are a variety of reasons for this, but mostly I feel that exploiting my birthday to raise money for something, is rude. I could pass it off as being altruistic, but it’s really a way to draw attention to how thoughtful I am. I’m already thoughtful. I do things for people all the time. I don’t have to set up a cheering section for myself. I also don’t want my friends to feel obligated to contribute.

Also, and less altruistic of me, it’s my birthday. Therefore, it’s all about me. It’s the…

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 31

She popped him on the head with the pot holders. “Oh, you wicked man! I should just beat you with the ladle!” She wielded the metal soup ladle over her head, brandishing it with devilish glee. Deacon grinned at her.

“You promise?” He got a soft rap on the head for that remark.

They ate breakfast in happy anticipation. He promised to show her the rendering of the scenery, when they had eaten. He helped her clean up and load the dishwasher then walked, almost normally, to the office to get the painting. Even he had to admit it was pretty damn good, and he was rather proud of it. Kacy’s eyes widened and she said nothing at first, barely touching it, she ran her fingers lightly over the paper.

“Oh, Deacon, it’s perfect! It’s just right! And you’ve eliminated all those tricky angles for me. You are too much!”

She kissed him, nearly crumpling the painting between them. Taking it gingerly from her, he placed it on the counter and continued to kiss her. They lost track of time, just holding one another and exploring with their lips, when Deacon’s phone rang.

“Damn! Yes?” He sounded pretty annoyed, but it was hard to keep the tone from his voice. “Oh, hi, Mac. Oh, shit! I’m sorry! We overslept—or something. Yeah, we’ll be there right away, give us about ten, okay?”

She was already on her way to her room to get dressed. He walked into his room, found a clean shirt and some socks and noticed absently that someone had done his laundry and put it away. He wondered who the unseen hands were, but ventured to guess it had been Kacy.

“Find everything?” she asked, confirming his suspicions.

“Yes, thank you. You really didn’t have to do that, Kacy.”

She shrugged. “I had to do my own, I didn’t have quite a full load, so I grabbed the stuff out of your hamper. Hope you don’t mind.”

He leaned down, kissing her gently on the lips. “I don’t mind anything you do.”

She raised tearful eyes to his face, a plaintive expression played across her features.

“Oh, Deacon, how can you be so kind, when I’ve been so bloody wretched?”

He held her to him, gently stilling her protestations that they must hurry to let the men in to work, until she stopped, leaning her forehead against his chest.

“I’ll make a deal with you,” he said softly. “I’ll forget everything bad that happened between us in the first twenty-four hours we knew one another, if you will. Deal?”

She giggled, wiping a tear from her chin. “Okay, deal. Shake.” She held out her hand to him.

“No, a contract of this importance requires a kiss.”

“Deacon, we’ll be late!”

“We’re already late.”

Her words were muffled by his mouth on hers, kissing with all the gentle ferocity he held carefully in check. He had never kissed any woman like that before, and he was sure she had never had a kiss like that from anyone, not even Pete.

“Now, we do have to go. I’m driving.” He grabbed the keys from the hook and tossed them in the air, catching them as she grabbed her purse and walked with him to the door, hand in hand.

She locked the door behind them and he opened the car door for her on the passenger’s side. He scooted the driver’s seat back as far as it would go and slid behind the wheel. It was good to be driving again, he had missed it. He hated being toted around like a little old lady, but Kacy felt guilty enough about his injury, he wasn’t going to rub it in.

They pulled up to the theater to find quite a crowd assembled, including the two security men, Dino and the police. Deacon hopped out of the car, forgetting his bum leg for a moment. Stumbling, he lost his balance, but Bellows, or maybe it was Salvatore, caught him before he hit the ground. The entire building was covered in graffiti.

“How? How did it happen? Where were you two?”

“We heard something suspicious inside, saw lights moving around, so we went to investigate. We found a back window open and thought we heard someone outside. But they locked us in! We couldn’t get a single door open and the windows were all too small.”

Deacon looked at the massive bodies of both men and knew he spoke the truth.

“We couldn’t call from the offices, they were locked.”

“You didn’t have a cell phone?” Dino was incredulous.

Bellows, or maybe it was Salvatore looked embarrassed. “I left it in the car, it was on the charger. It was a stupid, careless thing to do. If Mac hadn’t gotten here when he did, and called Mr. Sawyer, we’d still be stuck in there.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Sawyer, I guess we’d better just pack up and go.” Ashamed, they turned away from the site, heading to their van, which had also been decorated by the vandals.

“Wait!” Dino called after them. “Look fellas, it could have happened to anyone. The important thing is no one was hurt. So we slap another coat of paint on it, no big deal. I expect to see you same time tonight, got that?”

Looking relieved, the two men climbed into their van and departed.

“We’re sure nothing else happened?” Deacon asked.

“Cops are going over it all now. No real evidence. But no real harm done. So we repaint.” He shrugged.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Chaos in a Teacup – Part 1

Dellani's Choice - Books

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This series of articles were inspired by several author friends who have expressed awe at my organization (rude snort) or have complained about blogging. Since I’m not one to tell the truth, when fabrication will do, I thought I would throw off the veil of misconception, and reveal my less than stellar organization methods, as well as give a few blogging tips.

I’m not the most organized writer around. I describe my writing style as Chaos in a Teacup. It’s contained, but whirling around like a hurricane. I don’t outline, I don’t plan. I begin with a sentence that hops into my head, and run with it until the voices take a break. Sometimes, that’s a day, a week, or a month. Once in a while, the story is finished. Other times, it stalls and I have to wait for inspiration once more.

I am slightly better on organization, but…

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 30

They spoke simultaneously.

“Oh, Deacon! I’ve been such a bloody fool! Can you forgive me?”

“Kacy, I’m an ass, I’m sorry! Can you forgive me?”

Falling into someone’s arms was an expression he had only heard, but never experienced until now. She flung herself at him, forgetting about his sore leg. She unbalanced them both and they fell in a heap on the floor. Deacon managed to land without taking too much of the fall, or her weight, on his damaged leg. He let out a gasp of pain beyond his control.

“Oh, bollocks! I’ve hurt you again!” She blurted out, trying to rise. Sitting astride him, she could feel his body responding to the touch of her flesh against his.

“I’m fine, really.”

She struggled once more to stand, but he held her to him, not letting her go.

“You stay right there, don’t move, not ever. I don’t want you to go away again. I promise I won’t say anything, or do anything purposely to hurt you ever, ever again. I swear.”

His voice was deep with emotion, and he felt his pain ebbing away, as his hands explored her body. She responded to his touch and they made love on the floor of his room. It wasn’t too uncomfortable, Deacon thought absently, Dino had spared no expense on the carpet padding.

When he woke the next morning, Deacon found himself in bed, the cover pulled up over his body. He smelled coffee, bacon, and other delicious aromas, coming from the kitchen. His cane was beside the bed and a pair of jeans draped over the chair within arm’s reach. Damn, she thought of everything.

“I could get used to this,” he thought happily.

He rose carefully, able to put more weight on his leg than he had the day before. It was stiff, but not as sore. The bruise was substantially smaller and had faded a little.

Kacy was humming happily in the kitchen as she moved briskly around, all her movements clipped and staccato. The only time she didn’t move like that was in bed. Everything else she did was with military precision. He grinned, leaning on his cane, staring at her, waiting to see how long it would take for her to notice him.

“If you think I don’t see you,” she called to him, “then you are most mistaken. Perfect timing. I was about to call you.”

Her cheeks were flushed with the heat of the oven and, he thought, happiness. A sparkle was in her eye he had never seen.

“I’m not as much of a gimp today,” he grinned as he showed her how much weight he could put on his leg.

“You weren’t a gimp at all, last night.” She winked at him.

Deacon chuckled, walking into the kitchen behind her, he grabbed her playfully around the waist. He drew her to him, kissing her on the neck as his hands found soft, cuddly places to hold on to.

“There now, your eggs will get cold!” She pretended to wiggle to get free, but found some way to stay exactly where she was. “Time to eat! You must be starving!”

“Oh, I am.” The caught himself before he made another crass remark, she might not appreciate. “I’d like some breakfast, too”

She didn’t seem to mind the implication, so he allowed himself another kiss on her neck, a nibble on her ear and a final squeeze before he sat on the stool she brought to him.

“Looks tasty,” he grinned. “So do you.”

He waited to judge her reaction, she didn’t bridle, nor did she seem affronted, so he continued to feel out the flirtatious waters.

“You know, Kacy, if I ever do or say anything that makes you uncomfortable, all you have to do is tell me.”

She wouldn’t look at him right away, but he saw the color rising in her cheeks, her eyes averted.

“It was a silly way for me to behave. It’s just, well, when Pete was first in hospital, there was this man who worked with him. The one who set the bomb off too early.”

Kacy struggled with her emotions. Deacon wanted to ease her discomfiture, but didn’t know how.

“He came to see Pete, and we got talking. He told me how badly he felt, that Pete was a great guy, he hoped he got better really soon. He was so nice, so comforting, I started to cry on his shoulder. Then he got a little too familiar, if you know what I mean. He said just horrid things, about how hot I was, how much he envied Pete having such a tasty piece of ass. That’s what he called me! I think he’d have raped me right there, but Pete’s mum and dad came in. He left in a hurry.”

Deacon shifted uncomfortably on his stool. “Kacy, I’m so sorry. What a bastard.”

“I wondered from then on if he’d done it on purpose. Blowing Pete up, I mean. Pete’s parents pursued criminal charges against him, but it didn’t get too far. He skipped town, I think there is still a warrant out for his arrest.”

“No wonder you got so angry. God, I feel like such an ass.”

She touched his hand softly, bringing it up to her cheek. Her eyes were soft, her smile warm and just for him.

“I’m sorry too, I should know by now you didn’t mean it like that. It was just so close to what he said, I guess it struck a raw nerve. I have way too many of those, I’m afraid.”

“I’ll do my best to soothe those frazzled nerves, Kacy. I meant what I said, I’ll never do anything to hurt you on purpose. The occasional brain fart, I can’t be held responsible for those.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 29

She took a kick boxing stance, readying herself for an attack. “Don’t come near me. I thought you were different. I really hoped you were, but you are just like all the other morons out there, who think with their privates. Don’t touch me, or I swear to you, I’ll break your other leg. Goodnight, you can sleep by yourself!” She whirled around, storming toward the second bedroom, slamming the door.

Deflated and ashamed, he limped over to her door, knocking softly. “Kacy? Kacy, I’m sorry, it was an awful thing to say. I had no idea you’d get so upset. I am just a crass, common man, who’s not used to talking to a lady. Kacy?” He tapped again, but only silence reverberated from the room.

Sighing deeply, he made his way slowly to his room, where he struggled into the Jacuzzi. The jets felt wonderful on his sore, aching muscles, the bubbles playing along his body like a lover’s hands. He leaned back, closing his eyes, and thinking of Kacy.

Why had she reacted so badly to his statement? He had meant for it to be a compliment, not an insult, and he hadn’t thought it through. It was the kind of thing he’d said to Frieda. She was coarse and common herself, and found statements like that sexy. Besides, with her it had been true. He had seen Frieda and all he had wanted was to get into her pants. It was a goal he accomplished with agility and ease, because she had the same thoughts about him.

Drying off, he put on some silk boxers Frieda had given him as a gag gift, for Christmas last year. They were covered with flames and said Hot to Trot on the waist band. He dressed in a pair of sweat pants and a tee shirt. Taking his cane, he moved slowly to the office carrying the set plans, then decided he wanted a cup of coffee. Limping back to the kitchen, he made a pot and decided to offer some to Kacy. Her light was still on. Tapping on the door, he spoke calmly, although he was anything but serene.

“Kacy? I made some fresh coffee if you want some. I’m gonna be up late working on the set. Night.” He didn’t expect a response, but he had been sure this time he heard her and it sounded like she was crying.

“I am such an asshole,” he muttered ruefully. “I’ve just trashed the best relationship I ever had.”

Deacon shut the door to the office with a soft click and sat down to work on the rendering. He found paints and expensive colored pencils, pastels and other art supplies in a cabinet, and set to work on a watercolor. He worked in close detail, putting the hands of the grandfather clock on with gold paint.

He thought he heard her door open and close, even thought he sensed her outside the office, but she said nothing and he kept silent. He didn’t know what to say to her. Maybe she didn’t know what to say, either.

Around two, he put the supplies away and then had a silly idea. He took half a sheet of watercolor paper, folding it in half. On the front, he drew a picture of a donkey’s behind, the head turned to the side, showing blue eyes with long lashes. Inside, he hand lettered a short note and slipped it under her door. The light was out, but he was pretty sure he’d seen it click off when he had opened the door to the office.

Leaning against the wall, he sighed again and stumbled back to his room with fatigue and pain finally becoming too much even for his stamina. He’d left his cane in the office and just didn’t have the energy to make his slow, weary way back there. He fell into bed, stuffed a couple pillows under his sore leg and turned on the TV.

It was all info-mercials and porn movies at this time of night. The former were annoying in the extreme and the latter made him think of what an jerk he’d been, so he turned off the lamp and tried to sleep.

Drifting off, after tossing and turning about half an hour or so, he heard the door to his room open. At first he was startled and then he caught a whiff of her cologne. Feigning sleep, he lay still, slowing his breathing, making it even as if he were in a deep sleep. She tiptoed across the room and stopped by the bed. He didn’t dare to open an eye, but he felt her movements with every fiber of his being. She didn’t get in with him, but set something on the bedside table and quietly went out again, the door clicked with finality.

Oh God, I’ve lost her.

When he heard her door shut, he turned on the lamp. On the table was his card. She had kissed it. Bright pink lips adorned the donkey’s behind. Inside, where he had written, “I’m sorry, Kacy. I’ve been a real ass.” She had penciled in the corner, “Me, too.”

Deacon had to force himself to swallow, not knowing if he should go back to her room or not. He didn’t want to risk upsetting her, but he wanted her back so much he could taste it. It wasn’t just the sex, although that was fantastic. It was her, only her. She was what filled that void he’d had in his life. Having her wrenched out again, by anger, was more than he thought he could bear.

Fighting a silent battle within himself, he deliberated what to do. On the one hand, he had made progress, she apparently wasn’t angry with him anymore. But she hadn’t woken him, so maybe she didn’t want him back after all. Or maybe she felt so guilty, and she was afraid he was angry with her, so she left him alone. She was worried about his leg….

“By damn!” He told himself loudly, “I’m going to go crazy lying here not knowing!”

He rose so quickly, he nearly fell over. Groping for the wall, he stumbled from one piece of furniture to another until he reached the doorknob. He turned it rapidly, afraid he would lose the impetus which had brought him so far. His face set in determination, he jerked the door open, face to face with a shocked Kacy. She recovered herself first, and flung her arms around him, nearly knocking him to the floor.

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 28

“You know, I hadn’t really thought about that until now. I think if the old place burned down, I’d dig the whole shebang up and make a little park, name it Charles Sawyer park after Uncle Charlie. He was well loved in the community.”

“Who would want the land that much?”

Dino shrugged. “I’ve gotten so many offers, I can’t even count them all. The condo guys would like to build a ten story building right there. I imagine half the developers in the state would want that spot. It’s prime. Funny, when it was built, this was the poorest section of beach there was.”

“Really?” Kacy was surprised, it was now one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the area.

“Yep, it was the black beach, they segregated in those days. No one wanted that stretch of sand and very few white people dared to go there. The military needed cheap land, so they appropriated it. It originally housed their camp offices. Very boring history really. They closed the base there, in around 1957.

“When Sophia’s father-in-law bought it in 1962, he refurbished it and made it into a night club. Then as the retirees flowed south from Daytona, he made it into a posh dinner theater and comedy club. They even got some big name acts there. It was popular until around 1975, when Sophie’s husband made it into a little theater. The rest you know.” He shrugged one broad shoulder.

“So we are no closer to knowing who wants it, than we were.” Kacy sighed, pushing away from the table.

“We can’t decide anything tonight. We’ll hope things settle down, or that the security men catch the culprit. I don’t give a damn if the whole place goes up in smoke. I just don’t want anyone hurt.” Dino looked angry, absorbed in his thoughts.

Kacy and Deacon decided it was time to go. Kacy gave Dino a kiss on the cheek, which he returned distractedly. They left with Deacon leaning on her again.

“I can’t tell you how sorry I am about the leg. I feel horrid. It was such a spiteful, mean thing to do.”

He hugged her tightly, kissing her cheek. “Frieda’s done worse to me, so forget about it.”

“Does she really think she can get anywhere with this palimony thing?”

“I don’t know. She hardly has a leg to stand on, being that she left me, so I’m not too worried. Maybe I should talk to a lawyer, though.”

“Mr. Stevens is one.”

“Who?”

“Oh, the florid, fat gentleman with the balding head who always wears those abominable ties. He’s playing Hannibal Hix. He’s semi-retired, but still keeps a shoe in. He could give you some advice, maybe suggest someone, if he can’t handle it himself.”

“You’re incredible, have I mentioned that?”

They were walking in the door to the guest house. He hobbled to the couch and flopped down.

“So glad you finally noticed.”

Kacy winked provocatively. He held out his hand to her, drawing her to the arm of the couch. She perched on it, leaning against him.

“What do you mean finally?” He asked playfully. “I noticed right away.”

“You did not!” she exclaimed. “You hated me when first we met! You called me a gorgon!”

Deacon chuckled seductively, deep in his chest. “Well, you had called me a flunky and a buffoon, if I remember rightly.”

“I was beastly.” She sighed heavily, remembering how horrible she had been.

“I was out of line making fun of you.” He brushed her arm tenderly with his finger.

Tears trickled from her eyes. She angrily blinked them away. “I was beyond horrendous. I got annoyed by that, sure, but when you turned around and looked like Pete…. I was angry and hurt, no sane reason, really. I just had this moment where I thought, Everyone was wrong! He’s alive, and no one told me! Then reality struck, and you didn’t seem to like me at all. But I should never have kicked your bad leg.”

His large, strong hands closed around her tiny waist, pulling her to his lap, wincing as her weight came down on his lap.

“I looked at you, all seething and angry, adding a little flush to your cheeks, and thought Wow! Then I saw you walking away from me, and that tight little ass, and I decided right there I wanted a piece of that.”

She pushed away from him, the angry flush back in her cheeks. “Did you really? Is that what all this is about? You wanted a piece of ass?”

Deacon realized he’d said completely the wrong thing. “Kacy, I didn’t mean it like that. I swear, I didn’t. I was just trying to tell you I was attracted to you right away.”

She jumped off his lap, backing from him angrily. “Is that how you talked to Frieda? How irresistible you must find yourself! Why, you must have women following you around like dogs in heat. What a suave operator! I can’t find words to express how charming that was to hear!”

She was working herself into a frenzy. Deacon didn’t know what to say, or how to calm her down. He’d said something that set her off, and had no earthly idea why.

“Kacy, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that….” He rose unsteadily, taking a step or two toward her.

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 27

“You won’t have to, Kacy.” Dino said reassuringly, the idea of ghosts bothered him, too. “Let’s leave that to the experts, shall we?”

They walked back to their cars, driving home in silence. Dino pulled into the garage just before they did.

“Come in the main house, we’ll have some dinner.”

Deacon and Kacy walked slowly to the door, with Deacon leaning heavily on her and his cane. The last few days had taken their toll on him. He felt worse, instead of better. Maybe he had taken too much aspirin without enough in his stomach. Kacy looked nearly as bad as he felt, although hers was emotional pain, not physical.

Dino bustled around the kitchen, gathering ingredients, mixing and pouring. By the time he was done, three elegant mushroom omelets adorned the table. Glasses of chilled sparkling white grape juice completed the meal.

“Sit, eat.” He waved them toward the table in the breakfast nook.

They ate in relative silence, taking a few moments to compliment the chef. Each one was lost in private thought.

Deacon broke the silence first. “Dino, why would someone want to drive us away from the theater?”

Dino set his napkin down carefully by his plate before answering. “You know, I just can’t figure it out. I’ve got no clue why anyone would want to hurt me. It doesn’t make sense. I’ve driven some hard business deals, but I can’t imagine that would prompt anyone to do this.”

“What if it’s not you,” Kacy said pointedly.

“What do you mean?” Dino’s brow furrowed.

“What if it’s something about the theater itself. Maybe an old grudge, or someone they loved died there. What about the electrician who was killed, maybe his family?”

“I thought of that, and did some checking. He left no family. He wasn’t a young man, unmarried, no kids, parents dead, only child. That wouldn’t explain what happened before the closing.”

“Could someone have hated your uncle enough to destroy his reputation?” Deacon didn’t know anything about Dino’s family. He was brainstorming, grasping at straws.

“Uncle Charlie?” Dino laughed. “I doubt it. He was the quietest, nicest old man you’d ever hope to meet. Kind, gentle, hell—he was a priest. I hope he’d not made anyone mad enough to do that! He got the place from his sister’s estate, when she died years ago. I doubt anyone hated her either, she was a great philanthropist.”

“In any case, there is something about that building or that plot of land, or you that’s making it a very popular place for accidents,” Kacy added. “I took it upon myself to do a wee bit of digging, and found some interesting facts out. Do you know how many so called accidents occurred between 1988, when Uncle Charlie inherited the place, and now?”

The two men shook their heads.

“Seven. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’ve been around movie sets and worked professional theaters for the last eighteen years, and you know how many fatal accidents those places had, all together?”

The men mutely shook their heads.

“None.” She did not include Pete’s death, that was something understood as a taboo subject, and she hadn’t been working that film.

“It’s bizarre to have a small, insignificant place like this draw so much attention. When your Aunt Sophie owned it, there were accidents then, too. Prior to that, before it even came into your family, going back to its opening. However, in those years prior to 1988, there were less than five accidents total in over forty years, and none of them fatal.”

The men sat in stunned silence. Neither of them knew how to respond to this pronouncement. It did little to solidify a motive, but it did a lot to prove, to them at least, that these accidents were anything but.

“Who would stand to benefit, if the old place burned down?”

Dino reddened. “Me, I guess. I don’t need the money, but there are folks who might want to believe I do. When a business burns down, they usually suspect the owner, especially when it’s arson. Not like the old place is insured for much, only about a hundred thousand. The property alone, is worth several million, since it’s sitting right along the beach. I’ve had offers to buy the old place, so they can tear it down, but it meant a lot to my aunt and uncle. I’d rather not do that. I spent some great times there as a kid.”

The other two looked at him strangely.

“I’m a sentimental guy, what can I say? Why, I got my first kiss in the wings of that old place, when I was fifteen and later I….” He blushed deeply, recalling a very private moment in the backstage area after everyone else had gone home. “Anyway….” he broke off abruptly letting them fill in the gap.

“A good possibility is the land itself. If the theater burned down, what would you do? Would you develop the land?” Kacy asked him.

Dino thought a moment, then responded softly, thoughtfully.

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