Archive by Author | dellanioakes

Love Takes a Swim Part 47 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai finds out why Paisley overreacted to his statement that he had “staked his claim”. Now, he understands some of the abuse her ex inflicted on her.

She nodded, tears flowing as her lips trembled.

“You know that’s not me.”

“You said you’d laid your claim.”

“And I tried to explain that! If I say you’re mine, I don’t mean I own you. I mean that you own me, heart and soul. I don’t want anyone else but you.”

“Love isn’t about ownership, Kai,” her tone was harsh, cold.

“Maybe not, but if I give my heart you to, are you gonna be mean enough not to take it?”

Kai put his hand over his chest, then pulled like he was yanking his heart out. He took her hand, laying his on it. Paisley’s eyes were wide, her face pale.

“Oh, Kai!” She pulled him to her, holding him as she cried. “I’m so sorry I overreacted.”

“I’m sorry I upset you.”

Paisley held his face, kissing him everywhere as she cried. Kai felt like he was being mauled by a bear until she kissed his mouth, deeply, with great ardor. A heavy sigh of desire escaped her.

Kai wanted her more than ever. She was making him completely insane, but he was confused. She was so hot and cold, he didn’t know how he was supposed to act. Then he remembered the reason she was here. She was injured. That killed the monster in his pants, making him focus. He put the brakes on, pulling away from her.

“What did the doctor say?” his voice didn’t sound right. He cleared his throat, repeating the question as he looked at her foot.

“It’s bruised up like you said. He didn’t have to stitch the toes, but he put those strips on them.”

“Steri-strips. Yeah, they fall off gradually as it heals up. Restrictions?”

“Have to keep off it as much as possible for the next couple days. He doesn’t want me in the pool, wearing covered shoes, or on my feet until Thursday.”

“What about the bruises? Concern about blood clots?”

“No. It’s superficial. He did an ultrasound.”

“Good. Who did you see?”

“Some young guy, dark blond hair, green eyes.”

“Doctor Hansen. He’s a good guy. I’m glad you’re okay.”

“Oh, Kai, you take such good care of me!” She started crying again.

“Hey, no more tears. I’m sopping wet.”

He showed her his shirt and she started to laugh. He was pretty wet. Big spots of mascara blotted his shirt, as well as spots of color from her eye shadow. Unfortunately, there were also colors from Nedra there too. Paisley, who knew good and well she wasn’t wearing dark blue shadow and watermelon lipgloss, stared at his shirt in horror.

“I see you’ve been a towel for someone else already! What, did an old girlfriend show up, and you just had to console her when she broke a nail?” She shoved him away.

Kai lost his balance, sliding off the edge of the couch. He hit the coffee table painfully with his left hip, as he tried to catch himself. Landing between the table and the edge of the couch, his shoulders wedged between the two pieces of heavy furniture.

Cursing loudly, he tried to push the table away so he could get out. He had no leverage, and couldn’t get a purchase on what he was pushing against. His lungs felt constricted, and he gasped for breath.

“Wasn’t—like—that!” He finally got the table shoved half an inch over, enough for him to roll toward it slightly and shove harder.

Gasping and wincing, he got up. Paisley wouldn’t look at him. She turned up the TV so she couldn’t hear him. He snatched the remote away, turning it off.

“Will you get over yourself for a second, and listen?” He explained about Nedra. “If you don’t believe me, ask Cody! Hell, ask Tempy, if you won’t take a man’s word. When is it going to be clear to you, that I don’t want anyone but you? I’m waiting for you, fairly patiently, I might add—for you to make up your mind when you’ll go to bed with me. If all I wanted was sex, Paisley, I could get that easily. There are a few women out there who actually like having sex with me! Whoa! Big surprise, I know!”

Kai ranted a few more minutes while he moved the coffee table back into position and straightened the area rug beneath it. He suspected Paisley was crying again, but he simply didn’t care. He was sore and surly, tired of explaining what he said, and did, because she had preconceived notions of how he’d behave, based on a psychopath.

“I’ve gotta run to the store. I didn’t get lunch and I’m starving. You want anything?”

Paisley didn’t answer, merely hunched over, shoulders shaking. Kai grabbed his keys and took off his shirt. He got a clean one out of the laundry and left, banging the door behind him. His trip to the store was as quick as he could make it. He picked up subs, a bag of chips and lemonade for them to share. When he got back, she was still on the couch, but not crying.

“I would like to go home now,” she said, her voice catching as she fought tears.

Kai got a clean dish towel and a plate. He poured lemonade for Paisley, setting it on the end table within reach. Next, he served her sub, placing the towel over her lap. He set out her pain medication, all without a word. Once she was settled, he got his own food and another towel. She hadn’t touched her food, but he started eating.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 46 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallBecause Nina is gone, Kai ends up teaching the baby swim class. One of the mothers, a girl he knew from school, is there with her son. He’s not happy until Kai takes him. He keeps calling Kai Dada.

“His daddy and I aren’t together anymore. We broke up about a month ago. It’s really hard when he sees some man, and calls him Dada.” She started to cry.

Kai put his arms around her, letting her cry on his shoulder. He might never understand women, but he knew that sometimes the best thing to do was stand there, be supportive and do towel duty. Eventually, she calmed down, thanked him and took Ronnie home.

“So, what was that?” Cody asked his brother.

“Someone I knew from school. Bad breakup.”

“Kid called you Dada, huh?”

“You heard?”

“No. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. You got a weird look on your face, there for awhile.”

“Weird? How?” Kai put his hands to his cheeks.

“Kinda like you wished he was yours,” Cody said softly. “What happened between you and Paisley this morning? Was it my fault?”

“No, man. Wasn’t your fault. A misunderstanding. She knows you like her, by the way.”

“She told you? Oh, my God! Now I have to kill myself, before you take my balls off.” Cody turned away.

Kai took his shoulder. “It’s okay. She has that effect on me, too. You know Toby’s got some pretty hot cousins, right? They hang out at his folks’ house on weekends.”

“Yeah? So?”

“So, I know for a fact a couple of them think you’re hot.”

“How could you possibly know a thing like that?”

Kai shrugged casually, not saying anything. He didn’t really know that, but his brother was attractive, and well built. No doubt at least one of the girls thought he was hot.

“Bro, if you’re just saying that to make me feel better, I am gonna cut off your balls while you sleep.”

“Don’t take my word. Go down there this weekend. We have a standing invitation from his folks. Besides, with the new baby home, don’t you figure at least half the clan’s gonna be there? Good food, hot chicks—who are in no way related to you…. Just sayin’.”

“Why are you being so nice all of a sudden?”

“I’m always nice.” Kai frowned.

“No, usually you’re a sarcastic prick. I’d think you were playing me, but there’s really nothing for you to gain, except my total humiliation. Even you aren’t that mean. So why?”

“Because you’re my brother, and I’m usually a sarcastic prick. And maybe I should have done something to help you out a long time ago.”

“Thanks,” Cody said. “‘Preciate it.”

Kai punched his shoulder. “Get back to work, you slacker.”

Cody laughed, punching him back. “Now there’s the Kai we all know and love!”

It was nearly noon before Nina got back to the pool. Paisley wasn’t with her.

“I left her at the house,” she said. “I want you to go stay with her.”

“Me? Why?”

“Because it’s your fault.”

“My fault? Mom, come on! We had a little argument. A misunderstanding.”

“You need to go talk to that girl, and figure out what you said that upset her so much. She was just about hysterical when I took her to the emergency room. The doctors thought she’d been abused. I told them it wasn’t like that, but she was really freaked.”

“Maybe I’m not the best person to sit with her then.”

“Then take Tempy with you.”

“Yeah, that’ll go well. If I take her from her friends, she’ll pitch a fit. I’ll take care of it.”

“See that you do.”

Kai grabbed his things and drove home, muttering angrily. When he got there, he found Paisley sitting in the family room, her leg elevated on a pillow. She had a thermal cup of water next to her, and the TV remote in her hand. She looked away as he sat down next to her.

“I told Nina I’d be fine on my own.”

“She worries. Be happy it’s me. She almost sent Tempy.”

Paisley gave him an ugly glare, then looked away again. “At least she wouldn’t treat me like a possession, or tell me I’m overreacting….”

“I never said you were!”

“But you thought it! I could see it in your face! You thought I was acting like a spoiled brat.”

“I swear, the thought didn’t cross my mind. Paisley, I don’t want to fight about this. I said I was sorry. You aren’t a possession, and I promise I won’t treat you like that. You’re truly amazing and wonderful!” He had so much he wanted to say to her, but he was afraid he’d either make her angry, or scare her again. “I love you….”

“And does that mean that you think you own me now?”

“Where’s that even coming from? Did what’s-his-ass tell he loved you?”

Paisley wouldn’t look at him. One hand went to her lips as she tried not to cry.

“Did he tell you that because he loved you, that you were his?”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Feels Like Rain ~ A Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestIt hasn’t been a very good week for Grant Thibodaux. Not only has his fiancee been kidnapped, but her father has a heart attack and dies in his arms. As executor of Orleans’ will, he needs to speak to Mr. Roustin, Orleans’ lawyer. He calls to speak to him, and speaks to his assistant, India Beckett, instead.

“Grant Thibodaux.”

“Hello, Mr. Thibodaux, I’m India Beckett, Mr. Roustin’s assistant. I know he said I’d call after the funeral, but I’m taking off early today. I want to attend.”

Her voice was husky, sultry and sent a shiver down his spine. Collecting himself, he was able to formulate an answer.

“Certainly, Miss Beckett. I’d be proud to have you there.”

“I know that you’ve heard this until you’re blue, but your father was a special man, and I’ll miss him.”

“I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Beckett.”

She sniffled and laughed lightly. “I ought to be the one saying that to you, Mr. Thibodaux.”

“Perhaps, but I sense he was precious to you, too. I haven’t quite had the chance to process it. I imagine at the funeral, I’m gonna crumble.” He cleared his throat uncomfortably.

“I wanted to set up a time and date convenient for you. I realize there are a lot of demands on your time, suddenly. Are you free Monday?”

“I am. I’m also supposed to get a call from my assistant—whose name I don’t know, and talk about the business.”

“Would you rather put this aside for another day?”

“No, ma’am. You called first.”

“Would a morning or afternoon appointment suit you better?”

“I’m fine with either. What fits better into Mr. Rouston’s schedule?”

“He’s partial to early mornings, he likes to take care of as much as he can before noon. We’re always in by eight. Well, I am. He’s here by six. I often wonder if the man sleeps.”

Grant chuckled. “Same was true of Orleans. I’m not worth much at six, but I’m pretty perky by eight. How about first thing after you arrive?”

“That’s acceptable. I’ll set aside a block of time so you have your leisure to discuss. I know you’ll have a lot of questions. Mr. Rouston is the best at answering them. If he doesn’t know, he’s also good at finding people who do.”

“Thank you, Miss Beckett. I look forward to seeing you Monday. If you can, find me at the funeral.”

“I’ll be the girl with a box of tissues in my lap.”

He chuckled softly. “And I’ll be the man giving the eulogy.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 45 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallPaisley and Kai have an argument. She gets injured when she runs away from him. Nina takes her to the hospital and Kai gets put in charge of her class. A few of the members are talking, bothering others. One woman responds, only to get yelled at by the man in the bunch.

“Why, you wearing a turtleneck?” The one man in the bunch, who was probably in his sixties, responded.

The woman stopped exercising and stared at him. “Excuse me? Is that supposed to mean something?”

The man, who had gone back to talking, glared at her.

“Because that was so juvenile. I mean, my God, not only does it mean nothing, it’s the kind of response I’d get from one of my third graders!”

“You got a problem, lady?” the man said, turning aggressive.

“I do! Every day, you all stand back there and talk non-stop through the entire class. Go flirt somewhere else! Gossip in the coffee shop or something. I’ve been a teacher too long, to put up with that nonsense from adults!”

“What, like fifty years?” The man thought he’d gotten in a good jibe by insinuating she was old.

The woman started laughing at him. “Is that supposed to insult me?” She turned away, still laughing. “Sorry, Kai.”

The man advanced on her, his arm cocked behind him. When he got closer, he swung hard, splashing her in the face in a huge wave of water. She lost her balance and went under. Kai did a shallow dive into the pool, and was at her side in seconds. She stood, with his help, gasping and coughing. Kai’s scowl was fierce as he turned on the man.

“Out of my pool,” he growled loudly, pointing to the side.

“You can’t order me around,” the man said, taking a defiant stance.

“As part owner and head lifeguard, I sure as hell can! You five disrupt every class. I’ve been nice about it, asked you to stop talking so much, but you still do it. You have your little hen house, that’s fine. I really don’t care how many of those fat old biddies you’re schtupping, but you can keep it outta my pool. Now, if you wanna join the class and really exercise, fine. If not—get the hell out!” Kai bellowed.

The man looked ready to clock him. However, since Kai was taller, more muscular and about a third his age, the older man backed off. Cody stood on the edge of the pool, backing up his brother, as the rest of the class looked on. The old man might be dumb enough to take on Kai, he wasn’t stupid enough to take on Cody as well. The teenager was nearly as formidable as his brother. Wisely, the trouble maker walked out.

The man and his gaggle of old women made their way to the shallow end, saying nothing. The rest of the class cheered and clapped, jumping up and down enthusiastically. Kai finished class and was congratulated by everyone.

“Thank you so much!” the school teacher said. She hugged and kissed his cheek.

“I’m gonna go home and make you some chicken and dumplings and butter beans,” one of the older ladies said before hugging and kissing him.

“That guy can’t keep his pecker in check,” Mr. Sims said quietly as Kai got ready for the next class. “Most of those women are married. I don’t know if he’s slipping them the willie or not, but he sure likes the attention. He really chaps my shorts, that guy!”

“Yeah, me too. I’ve talked to them before, but they don’t care. It’s gonna take Mom or Brad talking to them before they’ll take it seriously. I guess I’m not enough of an authority for them.”

“You scared the hell outta him today,” Mr. Sims assured Kai. “Man, I thought you were gonna take his head off, and shove it up his ass!”

Kai chuckled, nodding. “Believe me, I felt like it. If it will help Paisley….” With a pensive sigh, he ducked his head.

“You know, son, couples argue. It’s not a big thing unless you let it be. My advice, take her someplace nice for dinner, and tell her you’re sorry—even if it’s not your fault.”

“You heard us, huh?”

“I was just arriving. Yeah, I heard. You keep in mind, that girl’s scared. Whatever she left behind, it haunts her still. She’s crazy about you, but she’s terrified to get involved again. So you walk soft, and keep it zipped.”

“That part’s not easy.”

“Nobody said it was. That’s part of being a man. If you ever need to talk, you know how to reach me.”

“Thanks, Mr. Sims.”

“Call me Steve. I think you’ve earned it.” He punched Kai in the shoulder, whistling as he walked to his car.

The next class went well, as did swimming lessons. Kai took the group his mother usually taught, and actually enjoyed working with toddlers. They were starting a new class. One of the little boys didn’t want to do what his mother said. He hopped at Kai, yelling, Dada!

Kai took him, laughing as the two year old tried to pull off his sunglasses and yanked at his hair. He demonstrated, using the little boy, whose name was Ronnie. The child did everything he said, laughing as he paddled in the water. His mother looked rather upset. The more Ronnie played, and called Kai Dada, the more upset she got.

He took her aside when the half hour class was over. Tempest took charge of Ronnie, drying him off and changing his clothing.

“I can’t believe he took to you so well. He’s usually so funny with strangers—especially men.” She didn’t look any older than Kai. Her name was Nedra, and he vaguely remembered her from school, maybe a year ahead of him.

“My sister was like that. She wouldn’t let anyone, but me or her dad, take her in the water. My mom usually teaches this class…. Tempy wouldn’t do a thing for her. So I took over with her, while Mom taught. Now, we can’t keep her out of the water.” He nodded to his sister who was holding Ronnie and playing with him.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 44 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai and Paisley are kissing, Cody interrupts them, annoying Kai. Paisley fusses at Kai, saying that Cody is jealous of them. His crass comment that at least Cody isn’t getting laid either, makes her jab him in the ribs.

“Sorry, what did I say?”

“It’s the whole attitude I object to. You’re being a cocky son-of-a-bitch, and I don’t like it.”

“I’m sorry. It’s a guy thing, babe. When there’s a beautiful woman around that one’s laid claim to and another one wants….”

Laid claim? I’m property now? I’m not an object to fight over, Kai! I’m a person!”

“Paisley, I know that! I didn’t mean it that way. Of course you’re not an object.”

He took her gently by the elbows. She tried to jerk away, but he pulled her into an embrace.

“I’m sorry. I screwed up, and I’ve upset you. Forgive me for being a dumb guy, huh? You’re amazing and beautiful. Sometimes I forget what you’ve been through. And I don’t think about what he was like. Please don’t judge me by his standards, cause I swear I’m not like that. I’d never treat you like a possession.”

“What did you mean by laid claim, then?”

Kai sighed, flinging out his arms as he tried to explain. “Not like that. Men get very territorial, especially with women. Those with manners, will respect that this woman, or that, is off limits because there’s a designated interest. If I like you, and I show that I like you, say it, claim you, as it were…. It’s a way of showing how much I care about you. Other guys will back off.”

Paisley gave him a level stare, waiting for more. Kai didn’t have more. He wished he did, but he didn’t.

“Do you understand? It’s like with me. You’ve shown your preference, so other girls should back off, and give you your space.”

“Should?” She raised an unfriendly eyebrow. “Should.” Crossed arms and angry eyes greeted him.

“I have women coming onto me constantly, because of what I do. But once they know I’m attached, most of them back off.”

“But not all?”

“Like guys, there are some girls who don’t take no for an answer…. Babe, why are we arguing? I don’t wanna fight.”

Paisley didn’t know why she was arguing. What he’d said or how he’d said it—something had struck her wrong. She was furious and upset. She wanted to scream and cry. Mostly, she wanted to run away from her chaotic emotions. Suddenly in tears, she ran from him, stumbling over the uneven ground. Kai followed her, calling her name, but she only ran faster. A sprinkler head that hadn’t gone all the way back down, caught her toes as she ran blindly past. Tripping, she went headlong, landing hard on her side. Kai was with her in an instant.

“Paisley! Babe, are you okay? Cody!” he bellowed for his brother.

Gasping and sobbing, Paisley lay on the ground as Kai did an assessment. Cody joined him, then ran back for the first aid kit and wheelchair. Kai’s hands trembled as he checked for broken bones.

His mother joined him, her face full of concern. “Is she okay?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know!” Kai felt unfamiliar panic rising.

“Kai, look at me,” Nina said calmly. “You can do this. You know what you’re doing. Forget it’s Paisley, and check. Deep breath.”

He did what she said and started again. “Nothing’s broken, but she could have some fractures. She’s bruised, got a nasty laceration across her toes…. I can drive her to the hospital.”

“I’ll take her. I need you here. We’ve got people coming. You lead class, and Cody can sit on the tower.”

“Me? I don’t know anything…. Get one of the aerobics instructors….”

“They’ve got their own jobs to do.”

“My notes—are in my bag….” Paisley grimaced in pain as Cody and Kai lifted her into Nina’s car. “The iPod has the music…. I’m sorry. I’m so….”

“So am I. It’s okay.” Kai kissed her gently. “I’ll see you soon.”

He closed the door carefully and his mother pulled out of the parking lot. Paisley’s pale face showed clearly as they drove away. He felt horrible. His actions had made her run. He’d upset her, scared her somehow, that he didn’t quite understand. He’d never had a woman run away like that, and it upset him, too.

Digging through Paisley’s bag, he found her notes and iPod. Cody climbed the tower and Kai took his place on the pool deck, smiling at the group. They gazed up at him with curiosity from the water.

“Paisley had a fall,” he announced. “She’s okay, but Nina took her to the hospital, just to be sure. So I’m gonna be your instructor today.”

Mr. Sims booed playfully, swatting water at him. Kai pretended to glare, pointing at the older man.

“Just for that, you get laps after class, Mister!”

“Yeah, yeah! You’d like to try. Let’s get this class going, buddy. Chop chop!” He chopped the water for added effect.

Kai set up the music and started the warm-up. Class was going well until about halfway through. There was always a small group of people who chatted instead of exercising. There were four women and one man, who flirted with them all. They seemed to think that because it was Kai in charge instead of Paisley, they could talk even more. They got louder and more annoying, to the point where one of the women in the class spoke to them.

“Hey, could you guys keep it down, please? I can’t hear him.”

“Why, you wearing a turtleneck?” The one man in the bunch, who was probably in his sixties, responded.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Family Matters ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting imageOlivia Gray and Boone Strange have known one another since childhood, but haven’t seen one another for quite some time. She’s home, going through her grandmother’s house, since Gram has recently been diagnosed with dementia, and put in a home. She’s at his grandfather’s house next door, when several members of the Strange family arrive to help her with the daunting task. One of them is Boone.

The front door opened and one of Porter’s granddaughters walked in. She and Olivia were about the same age.

“That my little Frangipani?” Porter called.

“It sure is, Granddad! Livy, it’s so good to see you!” The young women hugged. “Girl, I have missed you! You ready to get to work?”

“Sit down and have a cup,” Porter invited. “The others are coming. I knew you’d be first. My little Frangi is always early. Now, that brother of yours…. Pfft!” He waved his gnarled hand. “Boy was born late.”

“Boone’s coming?” Olivia tried to keep the eagerness from her voice, but figured she probably failed miserably.

“I thought he was working today?” Frangi said.

“He told me he was coming. Now, whether that means after work, now, or midnight, who can say? That young’un keeps his own time. We got real time, and Boone time.”

The women giggled, knowing it was true.

“Mama says he’ll probably be late to his own funeral.”

The front door banged shut.

“Whose funeral?” A mellow baritone asked from the living room.

“Slow, but ears like a fox,” Frangi said. “You’ll be late to yours,” she said as her brother wandered in.

A sly smile spread across his face. “Is that Olivia? Lord, girl! Pops told me to come help with Granny’s, but he didn’t say you were gonna be here. Do I get a hug?”

Olivia’s breath caught in her throat when she heard his voice. “It’s been too long, Boone. How you been?”

She stood, legs shaking, as he folded her in his embrace. His strong arms wrapped around her and he held her close. She thought she heard him sigh contentedly. Maybe that was wishful thinking on her part, because it felt like coming home, to find herself in his arms. Reluctantly, she let go as he released her.

“Chile, you are skin and bones!” he declared, sounding like his grandfather. “What do they feed you in Florida?”

“Not enough, apparently. Sally’s already read me the riot act, and Porter fed me more for breakfast than I eat in a day.”

“She ate it all, though,” his grandfather stated. “Bet she’d eat more if I offered it.”

“No, I am officially full. If I eat anything else, I might vomit.”

“I can eat,” Boone said as he gave his grandfather a gentle hug.

“I know that, which is why I made plenty. Help yourself, your hands ain’t broke.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 43 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai tells Paisley a little bit about Toby, who was a late bloomer. Of course, with a big family, it would be hard to find a woman he wasn’t related to.

“That’s probably what slowed him down.”

“Prolly. I’m happy for him. Makes me kinda jealous.”

“Really? You want children?”

“If Brianna had, had our baby, he’d be going into first grade.”

“It was a boy?”

Kai shrugged, shaking his head. “Never knew. I just kind of thought it was a son. Maybe wishful thinking. Most guys want a boy to pass their name on—teach them all those manly things….”

“What would you teach your son?”

“How to swim,” he said as if that were a given. “How to take care of other people, and how to treat the woman in his life.”

“Did your dad teach you those things?”

“Brad did. He’s a great father. Even if I wasn’t his kid, he always treated me like I was. My dad’s always been around, don’t get me wrong, but it was Brad who raised me. And that was okay. He and my father have always gotten along. His wife’s a nice lady, very cool with it all. I hope to introduce you soon. They’re supposed to be down for the wedding and Christening. He’s kin to Toby, I think I mentioned.”

“Yes, you did.”

“The lines of kinship start to get murky. Then they get muddy, then downright opaque. Someone keeps it all straight. I just call my generation all cousins. The folks mom’s age are aunts and uncles. We’re a pretty casual bunch, it’s mostly first names, so we don’t have to keep careful track.”

“You think your father will like me?”

“No.”

Paisley started to tear up.

“He’ll love you. Don’t worry so much. He and his wife are super awesome.”

“He’s so cute and cuddly,” Paisley said, completely changing the subject. “KD’s so adorable!”

“He is, for sure, one good looking kid.”

They pulled up at his parents’ house. Kai opened her door, helping her out. She slid into his arms, holding him close.

“You were fantastic tonight. You stayed so calm and took care of Epi….”

Kai stopped her words by giving her a kiss. He couldn’t express what he was feeling any other way. He was overwhelmed by his experience, shocked to find that there was a large part of him that desperately wanted a wife and children. He never would have considered it, if it hadn’t been for Paisley’s presence in his life. He didn’t want just any woman for his wife, he wanted her. And he wanted her to be the mother of his children.

Only the fact that this was his mother’s home, and she’d kill him if he had sex with Paisley under her roof, kept him from misbehaving. He and Paisley kissed a long time in the living room, but when he walked her up to her room, he didn’t go any further than a chaste goodnight kiss. He ached with desire, but he had a way to deal with that. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked. He wasn’t sure how much longer it would. He hoped Paisley wouldn’t make him wait as long as Epiphany had made Toby. He didn’t think he had the self-control to last two months.

He put on his party music and got in the shower. He made sure to put on his boxers, because he didn’t want to get stuck naked in bed with her again.

Fortunately, or not, depending on the perspective, Paisley didn’t come in with him. It was just as well. He woke up with the worst erection of his life—to date, and there and been some bad ones, especially in his teen years. A little private party took care of that and he was able to get dressed and get his breakfast without embarrassment.

Kai and Paisley drove to work together. She kept talking about Epiphany and the baby, excited by the new life they’d helped bring into the world. She was so excitable, it was affecting him, making him want her even more. Before going inside, he leaned across the center of the Jeep and kissed her.

“I love you,” he whispered. “So very much. I want to make love to you, make you a woman, give you a son….”

Paisley gazed up at him, touching his lips and cheek with her fingers. “I want that too. I love you, Kai. I didn’t realize until last night how much….”

They kissed a few more minutes until someone pounded on the car hood. It was Cody. He’d seen them pull up and sit there. Not wanting to do his brother’s job, in addition to his own, he came out to take care of it.

“Move your lazy, bony ass, bro! Hiya, Paisley!”

“Trust Cody to spoil the mood,” Kai said with a frown.

“He’s jealous,” Paisley said quietly. “Don’t you think he’d like a girlfriend? Besides, I think he has a little crush….”

“I’ll crush him,” Kai said, glaring after his brother.

“It’s that alpha male thing,” she said with a giggle. “Can’t stand for another man to take an interest.”

“He’s not a man, he’s a kid.”

“He’s as much a man as you. He may not have your experience, but he’s got the same desires and needs you have.”

“Well, at least he’s not getting laid any more than I am,” Kai said with a contented smirk.

Paisley’s punch to the ribs not only took him by surprise, it hurt. Glancing at her, he realized for the first time that she was actually angry with him.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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