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Love Takes a Swim Part 65 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai drops Paisley at her apartment, before going to work. He’s uneasy about leaving her alone, and asks TM to check up on her.

“You got it. I’ll take Sushi with me. He wanted to give her an update on what he’s found. She’s right when she says that guy has linkage—his dad is so connected, it’s like a mega octopus. And shady? Wow, that old man’s an umbrella.”

“I’m really worried, TM.”

“Already on my way, brotha. I was on my way to Brill’s when you called.” Kai heard knuckles on wood. “Hey, babe. It’s me, TM. My man Kai’s on the phone. Wants to make sure you’re okay.”

Kai heard Paisley’s voice respond, but not her words. The door opened and closed.

“I’m gonna give Brill a call. We’re good, man. You worry about the job. We got this.”

“Thanks, TM. I feel better knowing you guys are there.” He paused, wanting to give a message to Paisley, but not sure he wanted to do it through an intermediary.

“Hold up a second. Lady wants to speak.” The phone exchanged hands.

“Hi,” Paisley said. “Thanks for sending TM over. I was starting to feel a little creeped out, even with Jarret and Eli outside. I saw you stop and chat, so I went out to see what cookies they like.”

Kai laughed. So like Paisley to do something like that.

“I miss you,” he said softly. “Hasn’t even been five minutes, and all I can think about is coming home to you.”

“You be safe. The weather channel is predicting flooding and high winds.”

“You should go back to the house. It’s a whole lot safer.”

A deep, male voice rumbled in the background.

“TM says if it gets bad, he’ll take me to his place. Sushi is on his way over, and Brill’s going to drop by for his cookies. TM’s gonna help me bake them.”

“Does he know that?”

“He’s whisking eggs as we speak. I love you.”

“I love you too. Be safe.”

“I’m safe and snug. You be safe.”

“Will do.” Reluctantly, he said goodbye and hung up as he pulled into the fire station parking lot.

Trent met him at the door, his face grave. “It’s gonna be worse than we thought. They predict high wind gusts, and massive amounts of rain. The entire county is preparing for the weather. We’re sandbagging the station and the recreation facility next door. Is the health club secure?”

“It’s as secure as we can make it with no windows on the pool house. We fenced it off and boarded things up. All the lounge chairs and such are locked up.”

“Good. One less worry.”

Kai stowed his gear and headed to the kitchen. He found Cherise there, slathering buns with mayonnaise.

“It’s subs tonight. I got all the stuff on my way in. I didn’t want us to be caught up short if a call came in. They’ve already got high water in DeBarry and the wind’s picking up in Deland. Should hit us in the next hour or so. They’ve got road advisories out. Wind gusts are bad.”

“Sounds like a fun night coming.”

“We’ve got everyone on standby. A bunch of the off duty personnel are here, or camping in the rec facility, preparing it as a shelter for families. Your folks okay?”

“Yeah. Brad made sure the house had a hurricane room built in. His family got caught in Andrew in Homestead. He hasn’t forgotten having the house come apart around them.”

“I bet not! And Paisley?”

“She’s at her place, but TM’s with her. He said he’d take her to his place if it got bad enough.”

“They should probably go right away. You contact them now. Don’t wait. If it gets bad, it could be too late.”

Kai made a quick call and told TM what Cherise had said.

“We’ll finish this batch up and head out. I don’t like what we’re seeing on the news. It’s already flooding—”

The alarm blared. Kai hung up without saying goodbye. Grabbing his sandwich, he raced to the vehicle with Cherise in his wake. He gobbled down the rest of his meal as they road to the scene of an accident on I-95. Wind gusts had caught a subcompact car, carrying it from the south bound lanes to the median. It lodged in a stand of huge pine trees, clutched ten feet off the ground in their unyielding embrace.

Kai volunteered to climb the nearest tree and check on the driver of the tiny Smartcar. He grabbed a pair of climbing cleats and a safety belt. Thus armed, he headed to a substantial tree, going slowly, until he was even with the windshield. Rain hammered against him, making him shiver. Water dripped from his rain gear, but had found the one gap in his coverings. Chilly droplets scurried down his spine and into the waist of his pants.

An elderly face smiled at him. He couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman, but the driver seemed fairly animated after such an experience. He gingerly made his way closer. The driver’s window rolled open smoothly.

“Are you all right?” Kai yelled. “Is anyone with you?”

“Just Mitzi, my Shih Tzu,” the woman replied. “My, that was exhilarating!”

Kai laughed, shaking his head. The wind guested again and the tiny car swayed precariously. The amused glee left the lady’s face.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 64 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallAfter a long day cleaning up and meeting with the insurance adjuster, everyone is tired and turns in early. Paisley bids goodnight to Cody.

She smiled. “Thanks, Cody. He’s everything right about mine too. It’s going to be weird heading back to my place tomorrow.”

“Mom and Dad wouldn’t mind if you stayed,” he said. “You’re like family, you know. We all love you.”

“I love you guys too. It would be hard on Kai having me so close—and no privacy.”

“True. No alone time would suck a lot. Invite him to stay with you,” he murmured, leaning over conspiratorially. “Night, Pais.” He gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

Paisley said goodnight and shut her door, leaning against it. Asking Kai to move in with her had appeal. However, it would raise certain expectations she wasn’t quite ready for. She cared deeply for him, even loved him, but she wasn’t sure she could make the physical commitment he wanted. Not yet.

Once she was ready for bed, Paisley lay in the dark, staring at the ceiling. Her mind eventually dove into the deep, fearsome chasm she had tried so hard to cover up. Finding out about TJ’s mother upset her. She hated to think that anyone had endured that kind of abuse for so many years. She hoped that they could help, and soon.

Troubled, she rolled to her side, but couldn’t get comfortable. She wanted Kai’s arms around her to keep the monsters at bay. She couldn’t keep waking him to watch over her like a little girl. Eventually, he’d get fed up with her being such a nuisance. She couldn’t bear the idea that he’d reject her. It didn’t occur to her that Kai would never treat her like that. Years of enduring Ralph’s jealous rages had blinded her to some of Kai’s best qualities. Eventually, she slept, but not well. Someone tapped on her door around 7:00. Tempest stuck her head around the door.

“Sorry to bother you, but Dad wondered if you’d be willing to step in for Mom today. He knows you can’t be on your feet for another day or so. And it’s easier to find someone to take classes than it is to find someone smart enough to do the office work.”

“Sure. Nina’s shown me some things already. Without the pool, it will be easier for me. Yeah.”

“Great! We’ll all be around, so we’ll all pitch in.”

“Thanks, Tempy. Let me get a quick shower and I’ll be down.”

“No problem. Take your time. We’re opening a little later today. We won’t start regular hours until Monday.”

“Okay.”

It was strange being in charge. Paisley wasn’t sure if she liked it or not, but found she was good at it. Brad dropped in around noon, bringing them lunch. He headed back to the house to be with Nina, promising a nice dinner when they got home.

The day went well. It was blissfully uneventful and went smoothly. Tired, but happy, the young people headed home. Brad had a good meal ready, so they sat down to dinner together.

Kai was a bit disappointed that he had to go to work with the EVAC that night. He’d wanted to spend time with Paisley, but didn’t feel right about asking for time off, when it wasn’t urgent. More bad weather was expected, as the storm made landfall on the northwest coast. They might not take a direct hit, but bad weather seemed to come on the lea side of the storm.

He’d wanted her to spend the night at his parents’ house, but Paisley felt they’d been more than generous. Reluctantly, Kai kissed her goodbye.

“I’ll call you before I go to bed,” he promised. “If it’s not too late, that is. I wish you were staying at Mom’s.”

“I’ll be fine. I have Brill and the guys watching over me. I’ll be okay.”

“Call if you need me. No matter what time it is.”

“Will do. You’d better get going.” She kissed him again, before closing the door.

Kai didn’t move until he heard the deadbolts and the chain. Slowly, he walked to his Jeep. He glimpsed a couple of Brill’s guys in a vintage GTO about halfway down the block. He stopped as he drove down the street. The driver lowered his window.

“Yo, Kai. We got your lady’s back,” the man assured him.

“Seen anyone around?”

“Thought we saw that freaky dude around again, the one from the picture, but he turned out to be the boyfriend of the building manager. Not seen her ex, though. Brill even put in a couple security cameras.”

“Really? He didn’t need to do all that.”

“He takes family seriously,” the man replied. “And to TM, you’re like family—so’s Paisley. We got this, dude. You get on to work.”

“How did you know?”

The young man chuckled. “Dude. White shirt, shiny name tag…. I’d have to be a moron not to figure it out.”

“I could be going home,” Kai said with a chuckle.

“No, man. Lady that pretty, if you weren’t working, you’d be all up in that.” He winked. “Go. We got this.”

Kai thanked them and left. He felt uneasy. Something didn’t sit right. Even with Brill and his men, he didn’t like how it felt. Trying to pass it off as paranoia, he called TM.

“Yeah, Kai. Sup?”

“Can you drop by and check on Paisley? Brill’s guys are watching, but I’d feel better if someone was there.”

“Yeah, sure. You think her ex is around?”

“I doubt he’d do anything himself. But he’s rich, connected. He could easily send someone to do it for him.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 63 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallCody has shared with Paisley and Kai that TJ and JT’s dad is abusive, and hits their mother. She offers to talk to them about her own abuse.

Cody absorbed all this quietly, nodding while he thought. “Okay. Yes. I want you to talk to them. But Kai, you have to keep TJ from hitting me.”

His older brother chuckled. “No problem, Cody. I’ll run interference while Paisley talks.”

“Thank you,” Cody said quietly as the Jeep pulled into their driveway. He scurried off before the others could respond.

Kai helped Paisley out of the Jeep and held her close a moment. “Thank you.”

“I hope we can help. No one should be in that sort of situation. You can’t believe how helpless you feel.”

“No, I can’t. I never understood how a woman could stay with someone who beat them.”

Paisley stiffened, her chin rising defiantly. “Do you think we’re weak? Or that we love them so much we can’t see their faults?”

“No. I think you get in over your heads. You’re so afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing, you do nothing because, you can’t see an escape. But you escaped, Paisley. You got away and the twins’ mom needs to know that.”

“I agree.”

“We’ll talk to them as soon as we can,” he said softly.

Conversation stopped while he kissed her.

Since it was late, Paisley spent the night once more. Nina was asleep, but Brad was still up. He wanted to hear about Cody and Marianna’s first date.

“Sounds like you did okay,” he told his son, ruffling his hair. “You keep being polite and gentlemanly, you’ll go far.”

“Ed’s a good guy,” Kai explained. “He just wants his sister to be treated right.”

“That’s what I want to do,” Cody said, rather exasperated. “Why won’t anyone believe me?”

“I believe you,” Paisley said, giving him a hug. “You’re a great guy,” she said, kissing his cheek. “Marianna is very lucky to have you.”

“Thanks.” His dark eyes glittered happily. Touching his cheek, he went upstairs whistling.

The following day, cleanup began at the pool. The insurance adjuster managed to find time to come see them.

“Could have been worse,” he said as he eyed the damage to the pool house. “Thank God no one was hurt. This is messy, but it’s just stuff.”

“Agreed,” Brad said. He’d taken the day off to deal with the adjuster and other details. “More bad weather is coming,” he said, eyeing the sky. “Have you heard a report?”

“They said on the news the storm makes landfall tomorrow night. They expected it to hit at Gulf Shores, Alabama, but it’s turned east. They think it will make landfall between Panama City and Port St. Joe,” the adjuster replied. “I’m gonna get some pictures, then you can get on with the cleanup. The processing could take some time, what with all the damage around the county. I’ll do my best.”

“That’s all we can expect,” Brad replied. “Thank you.”

After the adjuster left, they worked a while longer on cleaning up the rest of the glass in the pool house. Kai’s tower was unsalvageable, so they took it apart and put it in the dumpster along with the other trash.

Damage to the main building was minimal. With luck, they would be able to open it the following day. Brad, Cody and Kai erected a fence between the building and the pool. The area was unsafe and they didn’t want any children wandering in there accidentally. That accomplished, they headed home.

Paisley had spent the day cleaning the house. Nina was better, but felt traumatized by her experience. Tempest had stayed close to her all day. For some reason, her daughter’s presence calmed her more than anything. The two young women had fixed a nice meal, but it wasn’t quite ready.

The men went to clean up, arriving in the dining room as the timer went off in the kitchen. The boys helped serve while Brad helped Nina get settled. The meal was a bit more subdued than some. Nina didn’t feel much like laughing. She was so deep into her sullen mood, it was hard to shake her free. They tried, but it was obvious she wasn’t interested in leaving her sorrows behind.

“It’s just something she’ll have to snap out of,” Brad said. “I set up an appointment with a counselor. I think she needs to speak to someone. The idea that she could have been in the pool house—that freaked her out.”

“I’d never let that happen,” Kai said.

“I know. But she’s caught up in the what if scenario. She’s second guessed her actions and is over thinking it.” He shook his head. “It’s going to take some time for her to get past this.”

“Meanwhile, she’ll go back to work, won’t she?” Kai asked, alarmed.

“I don’t know. I hope so.” Brad sighed. “We’ll figure something out.” He said goodnight and went to bed.

Everyone opted for an early night. Kai’s sleep schedule had been so bizarre lately, he was exhausted. He gave Paisley a goodnight kiss, yawned and went to his room. She watched him with concern, which Cody didn’t miss.

“He’s okay,” Cody assured her. “Things aren’t usually this hectic.”

“I feel like it’s my fault everything is falling apart. Since I came into your lives, it’s been nothing but chaos.”

Cody chuckled. “That’s coincidence, Paisley. For my brother, you’re everything that’s right with his life.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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It’s Cyber Monday ~ Shop from Home with It Takes a Thief by Dellani Oakes

It Takes a Thief Orchid promo

Jason Banes is a thief, he readily admits that, but he’s quick to deny that he’s also a murderer. Accused of multiple homicides, and theft, he agrees to help a multi-national task force find the real killer. When he’s assigned to an FBI team for protection, he meets Agent Taylor Driscole. It’s a race to find Orchid before she kills again. Though she’s reluctant to use Jason’s skills, Agent Driscole realizes that sometimes, It Takes a Thief to catch a murderer.

To Buy It Takes a Thief

 

it-takes-a-thief-cover

Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Charles, Karen and Lisa!

TODAY from 4-6 PM EST. Dellani interviews Charles Carson, Karen Lynn and Lisa Colodny

red river radio logoHalloween is over, Thanksgiving looms on the horizon, and after that, the madness of Black Friday! Make your shopping easier, buy books! My guests today have great ones to choose from. All three are new to the show, so I know we’re going to have a great time!

Lisa Colodny

Lisa Robin Phillips Colodny was born and grew up in the rural countryside of Kentucky. She attended the University of Kentucky and Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, graduated with a Doctorate in Pharmacy from Nova Southeastern University in 1994 and later obtained an MBA in 2004. Her non fiction publishing history includes approximately 34 publications in the health and science industry and 5 book contributions, also medical. Additionally, she’s been interviewed for 15 television programs or newspaper articles and participated in over 50 healthcare related speaking events. Fiction publishing history includes a short story publication, My Name is Edith for the Broward College newspaper and an X-files story, H2O, that appeared in a magazine entitled to the Fullest X tent in 1997 She is the author of Journeys, Wavering Moon, Crossroads and more.

Chuck Carson

Charles B. Carson lives with his wife, Pat, in the small farm community of White Mills, KY. He is a member of The Bards Writing Group and has a BS from Urbana University. Besides writing he enjoys woodworking, gardening, painting, and photography, and a musician. He is the author of a children’s book Inn’s Side.

Karen Lynn Brown

Karen Lynn, a native New Yorker has always loved writing poetry and short stories with intense characters struggling to find love and survive in a troubled world. After years of working in the legal field, Karen moved with her son to Oregon. Inspired by the rain and Portland’s creative culture, Karen has been able to follow her dream of writing novels. Hearts in torment is her debut series in this dark romantic suspense series of the same name. She is the author of Turn to Dust, Sea of Smoke, War of Hearts.

TODAY from 4-6 PM EST. Dellani interviews Charles Carson, Karen Lynn and Lisa Colodny

Today’s Offering is from Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes

Brand New Day coverBrand New Day

At 9:00, Diego and Ramona headed home. Sookie was in bed, so Janet walked them out to the car.

“That was fun,” she said. “I’m so glad you came by. I’m pretty limited what I can do, since I have to watch fussy pants every night, but Saturday and Sunday.”

“You’re not working this weekend, are you?”

“I work Saturday during the day, but I’m off by three.”

“There’s a Woody Allen movie playing the matinee at four, would you like to go?”

“Oh, I love Woody Allen! That’s Love and Death, right?”

“Yeah. It came out a couple months ago. It’s really funny.”

“You’ve seen it?” She sounded disappointed.

“I work at the theatre in the projection booth. I haven’t seen it in the actual theatre,” he said with a grin.

“Yeah, I’d like to go. Is Ramona going too?”

He looked a little embarrassed. “I thought maybe just you and me…. That’s if you’d like…. If….”

Janet giggled, putting her hand on his arm. “Don’t look so worried, silly. I’d love to go.”

“Cool. Should I pick you up at the drive-in?”

“Yeah, that would work.”

“Great. See you tomorrow, Janet.”

He leaned toward her as if he were going to kiss her. Janet wasn’t sure what vibe she was picking up. It was puzzling. Ramona tapped the horn, making them both jump. Diego cursed at her in Spanish. Janet, who was nearly as fluent as they were, laughed at him.

“I’m sorry….” She giggled. “The expression on your face…. Priceless.”

Fuming, he pressed his lips shut so he wouldn’t say the wrong thing. Pointing at his sister, his jaw worked. Finally, he decided to laugh with the girls.

“Yeah, laugh at me. It’s my lot in life,” he complained.

“See you tomorrow, Diego. Bye, Ramona. Call me later!”

© Dellani Oakes 2019

Today’s Offering is from Love, Death and Pizza by Dellani Oakes

love death and pizza cover 2Love, Death and Pizza

Who knows what drives a person to kill. Why does one man die and another lives? Does everyone who gets murdered deserve it? Does everyone who deserves it get murdered? I can sum those questions up in one quick, easy answer. Who knows?

In the case of Tack Carmichael, it wasn’t so much how someone was driven to kill him, or if he deserved it, but who got to him first?

Lots of people wanted Tack dead. He was a bastard and an asshole. He was one of the nastiest people on the face of the earth. Did he deserve to die? Adamant hell yes! Was I surprised when he turned up dead Friday night, his death announced on the eleven o’clock news? Not really. What I wondered was twofold: who finally axed him, and how would it affect the golf tournament?

I’ve known Tack Carmichael for close to thirty years. We met in the eighth grade when he assaulted me in the bathroom, threatening to give me a swirly if I didn’t give him my lunch money. Being the kind of guy I am, I gave him a black eye and a fat lip. He gave me a black eye, a swirly, and took my lunch money anyway. What a prick.

We were on the eighth grade football team together. I was the quarterback, Tack was my center. He was supposed to protect me, but instead he either left me exposed or put the hurt on me himself. After a few practice sessions of getting my ass kicked, the coach replaced him. His theory was that he could get a dozen guys to play center, but only a couple could replace me as quarterback. It pays to be a smart guy who plays football.

All through high school, Tack and I seemed to be at odds. If I asked a girl out, sooner or later she’d end up dating Tack. When I got made captain of the football team, Tack tried to undermine me. By the time we were sophomores, I’d wised up and started taking martial arts. The fights turned out differently after that. When he lost a couple teeth and I dislocated his shoulder, Tack left me more or less alone. He still took women away from me, but I’d learned to live with that shame.

I never could figure out why Tack hated me so much. I’m a stand-up kind of guy. I don’t go out of my way to screw folks over. I’ll defend myself, but I’m not vindictive. Most people learned not to mess with Brock Parnell. Don’t push me, I don’t push back. You start a fight, I’ll finish it. Usually with you on the floor in pieces, and not a scratch on me.

But to get back to Tack. We graduated, went to college, married beautiful women and moved back to the old homestead to rot in the cold, lifeless town in western Nebraska, where we grew up. I don’t know why Tack settled here. I came back because my wife thought it was a good place to bring up kids. She’s from Manhattan. To her, this town is quaint and charming. In other words, boring as hell.

The only folks who really make money in this backwater are the ones who own movie theaters, video arcades, pizza parlors and bars. Welcome to Parnell’s Pizza Palace! Bring the kids, have a few drinks, let them play video games until their brains rot! I’m making money hand over fist.

You know what’s ironic? We never had kids. I’m forty-two years old, stuck in this nowhere town, and not much to show for it. Oh, and my wife left me for a younger man. She’s now living in Vegas.

© Dellani Oakes 2019

Today’s Offering is from New at Love by Dellani Oakes

New at Love coverNew at Love

Fifth was her free period. Straightening up after the students filed out, she took her lunch down to the courtyard for some fresh air and much needed warm sunshine. As cold as it had been yesterday, today made up for it by being warm, breezy and cloudless. She sat on a planter in the courtyard, enjoying the sunshine on her shoulders. Someone approached from her left, but the sun was in her eyes, so she couldn’t see details until he sat down. It was her rescuer from earlier.

“Hi.” He smiled, extending his hand. “Large pizza, extra cheese, pepperoni, bacon and pineapple. I’m Derrick Butler.”

“I thought you looked familiar! I’m Amanda Bitterson. Do you work here?”

He laughed, tossing his blond hair out of his eyes. “Not exactly. I’m visiting from Australia. Might have noticed?” He put on an exaggerated Aussie accent.

“No, not really. We didn’t talk much last night.”

“True, that. So, shit for brains giving you trouble, eh?”

“He would have, except for you. Thank you. He had me pretty scared.”

“Never show fear of the enemy,” he said with a chuckle.

“I was more afraid I was going to break something,” she laughed. “It’s reflex to knee a guy in the balls for grabbing a boob, unless I want him to. I don’t want to lose my job.”

“Can’t say I blame you. Besides, little shit’s not worth it.”

“So, you never said if you worked here or not.”

“I’m mostly an observer.” He shrugged, eating one of her potato chips. “It’s an exchange program for instructors. Kind of like foreign exchange students. I’ve come for a semester to teach a class while a teacher from here works in mine. I hope he’s having more fun than me.”

“What do you teach?”

“History, mostly. Though, mind you, I’m only here for the surfing and the hot chicks.”

“I see.”

“I’m team teaching with a guy who’s near retirement. He doesn’t even notice if I’m there or not, so I wander around having lunch with beautiful women, after rescuing them from horny football players.”

Amanda laughed, covering her mouth with her fingers so she wouldn’t spew her food.

“Though there’s no one to save them from horny Australian history teachers. Pity that.”

“Who says they want to be saved?”

He raised an eyebrow. “You drink coffee?”

“What?” She was puzzled by his abrupt subject change.

“Do you,” he pointed at her. “Drink coffee?” He mimed drinking from a cup.

“Yes.”

“Want to have coffee with me later? My treat. I even have American money.”

“I’d like that. Thanks.”

“Cool! Can we make it right after school? I have to deliver pizzas again this evening.”

“Sure. That’d be great.”

“I’ll meet you by your classroom then.” He was gone as suddenly as he’d arrived.

Amanda had never met anyone quite like Derrick Butler before. He completely took her breath away, bouncing in and out of her life like a beach ball. He was unlike any other men she knew. Somehow that was comforting.

© Dellani Oakes 2019

Today’s Offering is from Shopping for Love by Dellani Oakes

I thought it might help my readers decide, if they had a short excerpt from each book.

shopping for love coverShopping for Love

“I hate rain!” The young woman in the parking lot yelled. She stood in one spot, face to the sky, stamping her feet in a puddle.

I watched her for several moments before approaching her. A man has to be cautious about walking up to a woman, in a mall parking lot. He can get a face full of pepper spray or a tazer to the nads. Especially, I might add, a man who looks like me. I have a dozen tattoos, body piercings, a shaved head, goatee and several earrings in both ears. I’m also rather muscular. In short, I’m potentially a little scary. Standing at least eight feet away, I cleared my throat. The woman was soaked and shivering, dressed in a lightweight woman’s suit with a skirt. I was in bluejeans and denim jacket. The rain didn’t bother me.

“Ma’am? Are you in need of assistance? I can get the mall security.”

“I can’t find my car!” She started to cry. Her makeup was a wreck, mascara running down her cheeks in black rivulets. Her hair lay in sleek, wispy curls giving her a waif like, little girl lost look. It was so wet, I couldn’t tell the color.

“Let’s get out of the rain,” I suggested. “I’ll find a security guard and see what we can do.”

It took very little persuasion to lead her back into the mall. Careful to keep my distance, I took her to the hair salon just inside the doors. They fetched towels and called security. I brought the young woman a cup of coffee from the staff lounge and sat with her. She shivered and held her coffee like a lifeline. I talked to her quietly to calm her down.

Mall security showed up about 20 minutes later. They stood around scratching themselves a lot. After a few prompts from me, they got the important information, and went to look for her car. While they were gone, the ladies in the salon offered to do the woman’s hair and makeup for free.

The security officers started with the place she said she had parked, but there was another car in the space. After wandering around for about 45 minutes, they decided to check the rest of the lot. They came up empty.

“I’m sorry, Miss Woodstone, it seems to be gone.”

“Gone? Gone!” She was upset and indignant. Who could blame her?

“We’ll call the police and report it stolen,” I said quietly in an effort to calm her again.

“We can take care of that for you, sir,” Bob the security guard said.

“Maybe it was towed,” Jim the other guard added.

Bob went to the phone and made the call to the city police. “They’re sending someone right over, Miss Woodstone.”

“Are you hungry?” I asked her.

“I’m fine. I just ate. The coffee’s good,” she replied and smiled. She had a beautiful smile, like raindrops in sunshine. “Thank you so much for your help, Mister?”

“Baker. Chase Baker. You’re welcome, Miss Woodstone.”

We chatted a little while longer, being very formal. The police came in all businesslike, getting her information again, and did a massive search of the parking lot. They came up with nothing, too. We went out to join them in the lot when the rain stopped.

“I’m afraid it truly has been stolen, Miss Woodstone,” one officer told her kindly.

© Dellani Oakes 2019

What’s Next?

alton and velda cover smaller

Alton and Velda is at an end. Now, the inevitable question of what to do next, rears once more. I’ve had my family draw titles from a cup, to no avail. The ones they chose, I don’t feel strongly about sharing. The ones I do feel strongly about, might offend—you see my quandary.

Even though I know it’s rather pointless, I am trying (once more, probably in vain) to get some input from my few, faithful readers.

Love Takes a Swim coverFirst choice: Love Takes a Swim ~ Kai Marcello works as a lifeguard at his parents’ health club. He also works part time as a paramedic. His mother hires a new water aerobics instructor, Paisley Saunders. Both have been burned by bad relationships, but find love together. Unfortunately, Paisley’s past comes back to haunt her, when she is stalked by the abusive boyfriend she thought she’d left behind.

shopping for love coverSecond Choice: Shopping for Love ~ Chase Baker may be well built and wealthy, but he’s not what you’d call a social butterfly. Able to talk investors to support his money making enterprises, he’s woefully uncomfortable when talking to women. He meets Tracy Woodstone when her car is stolen from his mall parking lot. Immediately attracted, he wants to do everything he can to help her—even going so far as saving her father’s company from a hostile takeover.

New at Love coverThird Choice: New at Love ~ (I might have shared this one before, I’m not sure) Amanda Bitterson is fresh out of college, and looking for a teaching job. To that end, she substitute teaches on a regular basis. Taking a job for another sub, who has gotten sick, she meets Derrick Butler. Life and love seem good, until Derrick’s psychotic ex-wife starts stalking them both.

(For those of you who are familiar with The Ninja Tattoo, and Conduct Unbecoming, this is the first appearance of my beloved character, Jasper Waters)

love death and pizza cover 2Fourth Choice: Love, Death and Pizza ~ Someone killed Tack Carmichael. Was it his wife? His golf partner? Or, as the police suspect, long time enemy – Brock Parnell. Brock and Tack have a long history of hating one another, going back 30 years, so when Tack’s death is announced on the news, Brock celebrates. The celebration is short lived, when the police arrive at his door. They believe, incorrectly, that he’s killed Tack. Strangely, only Assistant District Attorney, Adrianna Hasselhoff, believes he’s not guilty.

Brand New Day coverFourth Choice: Brand New Day ~ This story spans several decades, following the life of Janet Yarkowsky and the love of her life, Diego Hernandez. Falling in love as teens, Fate seems determined to keep the two apart. First, Diego joins the military after he graduates, then he completely disappears for so long, Janet is sure he doesn’t love her anymore. She meets and marries Tex, and her life spirals out of control.

Those are the choices. I’d love some feedback, so please put your choice in the comments. Whichever gets the most votes, wins. In the event of a tie, or no feedback whatever, I’ll choose. Please help me out! It’s so hard to decide!!

~ Dellani