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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 41

Janet recounts her meeting with Tex, to her nurse, Flora. It was in Lubbock, Texas in 1979.

Janet laughed loudly, muffling it when people shushed her. “You’re gonna get me in trouble.”

“I could get you in all kinds of trouble, but only in private,” he replied with a cocky grin. “Theodore Macy. Most folks call me Tex.” He held out his hand to her.

“Isn’t that a little redundant. We are in Texas, after all.” She didn’t take the hand or introduce herself.

“I did my undergrad in New York. Wasn’t quite so redundant there.” He shrugged. “Hello, Tex,” he said in a silly, girlish voice. “My name is…?”

Giggling, she took his hand. “Janet.”

“No last name?”

“Just Janet will do.”

“Well, Just Janet, I’m a persistent cowboy. When I see the prettiest girl in the library, sitting by herself, I have to ask why.”

“Maybe I like being alone,” she said quietly, going back to her book.

“And maybe you just didn’t have the right guy come up and talk to you.”

“Or maybe,” she said sternly, “I like being alone.”

“Nobody really likes being alone. You wouldn’t come here, if you wanted to be alone. You’d go lock yourself in your dorm room.”

“I live in town.”

“Even better.”

“With my parents.”

“Bummer. Suddenly, my pants ain’t smilin’….”

Raising an unfriendly eyebrow, she eyed him. He was good looking. Sandy brown hair, body bronzed by the sun, eyes the color of sage, chiseled jaw, nice physique…. She glared at him and went back to her book.

“Aw, come on, Just Janet. Cup of coffee…. You’re a college student. We live on coffee.”

“Are you ever going to go away?”

“No. I told you, I’m a persistent cowboy. Come on. How bad can it be, having coffee with me?”

Janet had to admit that the idea held appeal. He was good looking, friendly, charming…persistent.

“Okay. Coffee. But that doesn’t mean I’m giving you my number.”

He chuckled, standing up. “Doesn’t mean you won’t….”

She grabbed her backpack and they walked together to the front doors. There was a coffee shop within walking distance, so they headed there. Sitting together at an inside cafe table, they watched the sky turn dark and nasty. The wind picked up and they laughed as a dozen tumbleweeds chased one another down the street.

“Should have brought my umbrella,” Tex said with a sigh. “Can’t offer to keep a lady dry, if I don’t have the means.”

“We can sit here and try to ride it out,” she suggested.

Tex shook his head. “This one’s got staying power, believe me. Could be a few hours.”

“How can you possibly tell?”

“Got myself a feeling. And almost six years of meteorology studies behind me.” He grinned as he took a sip of his coffee. “Born during a hurricane, I grew up in Corpus Christi, and I’ve watched the weather for over twenty years.” He stared at the gloom with a soulful smile on his full lips. “Something about Mother Nature. You can’t tame her, you can’t predict her. Got to give up and let her do her thing, ride it out, let it happen….”

Janet watched him watch the weather. The color of his eyes picked up the gray and yellow in the sky, turning them a dark, mysterious brown. He felt her stare. Smiling nervously, his bronze skin took a rich copper tinge.

“Sorry. For me, this is a rush. I do storm chasing.”

“Storm chasing?” She shook her head, not understanding.

“Find a storm cell and follow it. Not even sex gives a rush like following that tornado, waiting to see where it will go.”

“You follow tornadoes? Are you high?”

He laughed loudly, setting his cup down with a click. “Not at the moment. You?”

“I don’t do drugs. Never have.”

“Do you have any vices?”

“One or two,” she flashed a secretive smile over her coffee cup.

“Oh, baby, would I like to find out what they are.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 40

Lubbock, Texas. 2000

Janet lay staring at the ceiling. The buzzing in her ears had settled into a drone. The beeping of equipment played a high pitched counterpoint. She wondered, absently, why medical equipment played such a boring, annoying tune. The pitch alone was enough to set her teeth on edge.

The door opened with a thump and a young, dark haired nurse stood in the semi-darkness, silhouetted by the light of the corridor. “Hi, Mrs. Macy. I’m Flora. I need to click on the light and check vitals.”

“Call me Janet. After tonight, I’m not Mrs. Macy anymore.”

The light above the bed flickered on. She squinted, the dim illumination causing auras. The young woman checked the machines, writing down the data. Once that was done, she turned to Janet with a sad smile.

“How’s your head?” Her strong fingers probed the dressing gently.

Janet hissed in pain.

“Rate your pain for me, one being….”

“I know the scale, dear. A glance my my chart shows you that. Six.” She signed. “But it’s not all physical.”

“I can imagine. I’m so sorry. Want to talk about it?”

“It’s a long story.”

Flora made a note and sat on the edge of the bed. “I’ve got all night. Tell me.”

“I really loved him once. At least, I thought I did. But there was always Diego….”

Flora did something that made the pain subside a little. “Tell me about Diego.”

“He was beautiful. I know that’s a weird way to describe a man, but he was. Dark, chiseled, sculpted, buff…. Very well equipped. And he knew how to use it.”

“He sounds dreamy.”

“He was an Adonis. We had to snatch our moments. After my parents moved, I stayed. We had a magical school year. Then it was over and I had to move. It tore us up. We’d talk on the phone, write letters. Sometimes, we’d talk to a tape and send that. It helped a little. That fall, after he graduated, he went in the Navy. The letters were less frequent. But there was always news through Ramona. He loved me, he missed me…. I clung to that news with both hands. It’s all that saw me through.”

“Did you get back together?” Flora leaned forward expectantly.

“Oh, yes, but not for several years. By that time, I’d met and married Tex— That’s another lifetime—another story. I loved him once….”

“Tell me how you met. I love stories of how people get together.”

Janet lay back, remembering. “It was 1979, right here in town. I was going to Texas Tech….”

Lubbock, Texas. Summer of 1979

The hot west Texas wind had a storm in it. Janet walked across the campus to the cool confines of the library. She inhaled deeply when she got inside, the chill washing over her. Sounds of the indoor fountain greeted her. This was why she came here. The music of the fountain helped her relax. She found a chair and dropped her backpack. Digging out a book, she noticed a man staring at her from the other side.

Flipping open the book, Vonnegut’s Slapstick, she made it clear she was there to read, not encourage conversation. She was sick of men hitting on her. She’d grown from an attractive teenager to a sultry, mocha skinned beauty, over the last few years. Men couldn’t seem to leave her alone. Sometimes, she went out, but it was rare. Memories of Diego kept her from succumbing to their more dubious charms.

Someone sat in the chair to her right. His scent drifted to her nose. He smelled like outdoors and hot, sexy male. Janet squirmed uncomfortably, hiding it as shifting her position in the chair.

“Vonnegut fan, huh?” He had a deep, husky voice laced with an Southeast Texas twang, not the West Texas drawl. “I was a little disappointed with that one. I have to say Slaughterhouse-Five was my favorite.”

She glanced at him over the top of the book. He wasn’t looking at her, he was staring at the fountain.

“As far as war books, I found Catch-22 much more interesting. But I think Heller had some serious problems….”

“Did you want something?” Janet tried to keep her voice level, neutral, but the more she looked at him, the more interesting he became.

“Yeah. A chance to go out with you.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from The Lady in the Purple Hat ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

Things were just getting cranked up, as it was only about 10:00. Dozens of beautiful, nubile young women crowded the dance floor, gyrating to the fast club music. Several of them were dancing together, so he walked close. One of them crooked her finger at him, a sultry Latina with long, black hair and dark eyes, the opposite of Cassie in every way. She drew him into the group. They all danced with him, rubbing their supple bodies invitingly against him. He had never used the clubs as his own personal dating service, though many of the men had—and some of the women. He’d kept to one woman, but she didn’t want him anymore—if she ever had.

When the music ended, the lovely Latina tipped her head so he would join her at the bar. He bought them each a drink, chatting up the bartender, who was a pal of his.

“You seem very familiar with him,” the woman said, stirring her drink with one long, red nailed finger.

“Yeah. We go back a few years.”

“You take this ship a lot, then?”

“Yes. You might say that.”

“You’re being coy,” she teased. “I’m the one who’s supposed to play hard to get.”

He chuckled, taking a sip of his drink.

“You look like a man who’s in pain. And I don’t mean from the bruised up face.”

“I got dumped about ten minutes ago.”

Her face fell. “That’s awful! Anita,” she said, holding out her hand.

“Beau.” He kissed her fingers, then turned her hand over, kissing her palm.

Anita shivered, her eyes widening with pleasure. “Why did you get dumped?”

“The lady didn’t care as much as I did. I had hopes for more, but I pinned them on the wrong woman.”

“Well, that sucks. I’m on my honeymoon.”

Beau pulled his hand away, but she took it once more, showing him that her left ring finger was bare.

“He decided he cared more about the DJ’s girlfriend, than he did me. And the caterer, and all three bridesmaids….”

“What a dick,” he said, truly disgusted by the man’s behavior. “How could he do that to a beautiful woman like you?”

“No clue. How could she do that to a handsome, jacked guy like you?”

“Been asking myself that, too.”

“You know what we both need?”

“What’s that?”

“Another dance. Then we need some very hot, meaningless sex with a total stranger.”

Beau chuckled seductively. “Or…. We could skip the dance….”

“We could. My place or yours?”

“Yours is closer.”

“You don’t know where I’m staying.”

“But I know where I am, and I bet you’re closer.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 39

Janet’s family moves. Shortly after, she and her friends head to the music competition. She’s glad for the spotlight, because she can’t see the audience.

In the middle, the chorus did a short instrumental, imitating guitar, bass and drums. Janet, Ramona and Bunny swayed, dancing to the music. Once again, their voices joined the others as the song wound to a close.

The song finished and silence followed. No one clapped, there was nothing. For the space of three surprised breaths, no one did anything. Janet and the others panicked. Had it been that bad?

Suddenly, the judges stood, clapping and smiling. The entire auditorium rose to its collective feet, cheering and applauding loudly. Pandemonium followed for several minutes. Finally, the MC came out of stage and got the attention of everyone. The room quieted eventually and everyone sat down.

“That concludes today’s contest. The judges will convene to make their choices. We’ll meet back here in thirty minutes.”

The chorus filed off the stage and the auditorium emptied slowly. Everywhere they went during the break, people were talking about them. Some furtively, as if jealous, the rest obviously impressed. Janet and her friends were in the bathroom. Standing by the sinks, they were surprised when girls from another chorus came up to them.

“Weren’t you the ones singing just now?” one girl said.

“Yes, that was us,” Bunny replied, obviously worried they were going to get in a fight.

“That was so fabulous!” the girl said.

The others joined in, congratulating them.

“If you don’t get first place, it will be totally wrong,” the girl concluded.

“Thank you. Your group was really good too,” Janet said, glad she could say that honestly.

“I thought we had a chance at winning,” the other girl said. “But you really deserve it.”

“Thank you. I hope you place too.”

The lights blinked, calling them back to the auditorium. They filed back in, taking their places. The judges were on stage with the MC. All of them were smiling. The MC stepped forward. He introduced the judges and handed the microphone to the leading judge. He smiled and took the microphone.

“Let me say first that this was one of the best contests I’ve ever judged. You’ve obviously worked very hard. With that being said, it was very difficult making the final choices.”

Each judge took a category, giving the results. Starting with Honorary Mention, they worked their way up. Finally, the head judge took the microphone.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt as to who got first place,” he said, making eye contact with Janet. “I wanted to tell this year’s winners that was the most unique performance I’ve ever heard. First place goes to Scottsbluff Senior High School!”

The entire auditorium leaped to its feet, clapping and cheering as Mr. Carter went on stage to take the award. A substantial check went along with the huge trophy.

The judge handed Mr. Carter the microphone. “I want to thank all of you for your kind words and compliments. The competition this year was fierce, and I’m proud to be part of this. The ones who really earned and deserve this award, are my students. This was their idea, they came up with the parts and perfected them. I simply stood back in awe.” He clapped for his students.

Finally, the noise died down and everyone went back to their motel rooms before dinner. Thrilled and exhausted, Janet and the others got on their bus.

“Wait until I tell Mom,” Ramona said. “She’ll be so proud!”

“That was one of the greatest moments of my life,” Diego declared loudly. “Only one other was better,” he added very quietly to Janet.

“Only one,” she agreed.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 2

Brand New Day coverIt’s 1975—early morning, the first day of school, and already Janet’s in a bad mood, thanks to her mother and sister.

Janet wanted to cry, but with Sookie and Mama both glaring at her, she wouldn’t let the tears come. She dressed in a fury. Angry, hurt tears burned in her eyes. She didn’t say goodbye, just grabbed her lunch she’d made the night before, and left. She slammed the door behind her, starling some birds in the trees next door.

Sookie didn’t come to the bus stop. She hadn’t expected her to. Mama didn’t want her baby girl on the bus with all the big kids, afraid she’d get hurt. It was okay that Janet had ridden the bus since kindergarten, big kids or not. The bus wasn’t good enough for Miss Sookie. It was just as well. Janet didn’t want people to know they were related.

Janet’s friends were waiting for her, all dressed in their new clothing. Janet had saved her money from her job at the A&W Drive-In, to buy her things. She looked just as fresh and nice as they did.

Her pink T-shirt had big, fuchsia rhinestone lips on the front. Her hot pants were denim. Her long, tanned legs made the other girls jealous, as did her full lips and black, curly hair.

They didn’t know the Secret Janet carried inside her. If they did, she wondered how they’d act. She told everyone there was Indian blood way back, but that wasn’t it. Her daddy was half black, but didn’t look it. He’d passed for years as a white man. Wasn’t until Janet was born, a nice cafe au lait, with kinky curls, that her mama suspected.

That was how it started. Her Southern born mama couldn’t forgive him for being black. When Janet was five, he left them. They moved from Texas to Nebraska. Mama hooked up with some guy, and Sookie was born about a year later.

Mama had kin in Nebraska, which was why they’d moved there. Kin that didn’t know she’d married a black man. She could hide her shame away, forget about him. Only every day, Janet was a reminder.

The bus pulled up and stopped. There was the usual tussle to see who got on first. Today, as always, the big boys won. They hopped on and took seats at the back. The girls let the little kids go on before them. Mr. Prost, the driver, told them thank you.

“I believe you girls have all grown at least three inches apiece,” he said after greeting them each by name. “High school now. My, my.”

Mr. Prost had been their bus driver as long as Janet could remember. He was a nice, grandfatherly type. Janet loved Mr. Prost, and wished he was her granddaddy. Mama’s father was a mean old cuss who smoked and drank too much. She’d never met her father’s father. He was the black sheep and kept well hidden.

Bunny, her friend since second grade, bounced in the seat beside her. “I can’t wait to get to high school! Betty says the boys are real cute!”

Betty was Bunny’s older sister. Janet suspected she was boy crazy and had told Bunny often enough.

“Not the ones we know,” she said, cutting her eyes at the back of the bus.

“Those are sophomore boys!” Betty rolled her eyes. “I mean juniors and seniors.”

“What are those older boys gonna want with us?” Janet asked. “We’re little kids compared to them.”

“I know! They’re men!” Bunny said with a dreamy sigh.

Janet made a disgusted noise. Come to think, Bunny was as boy crazy as her sister. The difference was, Bunny didn’t sleep around like Betty did…. Yet. She was a little afraid her friend was going to follow in her sister’s footsteps.

“Junior high is behind us now,” Bunny continued. “We’re not around boys anymore. We’re gonna be seeing real men every day.”

“They’re no more men than that bunch back there,” Janet said.

“They aren’t men until they’re eighteen,” Ramona said. “That’s what my father says.”

“Betty says they’re real men once they make it with a girl,” Bunny contradicted with a toss of her head.

“Well, she’s the expert,” Ramona said dryly.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Bunny demanded.

“Nothing….” Ramona tossed her straight, black hair over her shoulder. “Oh, nothing….”

“Ramona Hernandez, you tell me!” Bunny growled. “What are you saying about my sister?”

“What I heard,” Ramona said, ignoring her. “What I heard was that she’s been through most of the male population. What I heard, is lots of the guys are men now because of Betty.”

“Who told you a lie like that?” Bunny screeched.

Ramona flounced off the bus, ignoring Bunny’s protestations. Janet knew Ramona’s source was her older brother, Diego, who had more experience than just about any guy around. He never talked about it, but the girls did. Many of them had fallen for the dark haired, sloe eyed Mexican man. Janet could see the appeal, he was gorgeous. He’d only ever treated her like a sister, so she figured she didn’t stand a chance. She could admire how good looking he was from a distance.

Diego and his buddies were waiting for them at the bus loop. He drove a car and offered Ramona a ride, but she didn’t want to crowd in the car with his loud, obnoxious friends. Diego wanted it clear to every man at the school that Ramona was his baby sister. He’d taken Bunny and Janet under his protective wing as well, since they had no older brothers. He put his arms possessively around the girls as they walked in the school surrounded by his huge, male friends.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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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

To Buy Dellani’s Books

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

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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.

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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