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First Meeting from Knight of Love ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

The lodge was a long, narrow log cabin, tucked snugly up against the hill, the front windows facing the fields below. They came upon it from the rear, just off the kitchen, where the noises of pots clanging could be heard.

“I’m on cooking crew, I forgot!” Emily announced. “I have to fly, Gin. Go mingle. Grendel can introduce you later! Ta!”

Off she fluttered. Ginny had been left often enough by the absent minded Emily not to be concerned with being alone to fend for herself. Her natural shyness came upon her when she walked into the lodge. The building was full of dozens of busy people on ladders with hammers and banners. She chose a quiet bench by the fireplace and sat watching the noisy crew.

A young man detached himself from the fray and moved toward her. She recognized him from earlier when she and Emily had been on their way to the cabin to change. It was either Richelieu or D’Artagnan, the blond who had blushed. He smiled in greeting and recognition. He was dressed in leggings of hunter green, form fitting with a tie and flap in the front as befit the times. His white, ruffled shirt was just about, but not quite, long enough to conceal his hips. A very tasty looking leg and rear end were visible. She tried not to stare, but couldn’t help herself. He’d obviously considered the effect he would have on ladies and no doubt anticipated the stares. His blond hair was about shoulder length, soft curls tied back in a leather thong. A hint of a goatee fringed his chin. His blue eyes twinkled and he laughed at his own awkwardness with his ruffled shirt.

The neck of the shirt was cut in a low V, surrounded by three rows of ruffles. The sleeves ended with lots of ruffles too, and he seemed to be having trouble with it. Hopping off the ladder, he loped over to her bench. He was a little red in the face, the flush made him seem even more handsome. Ginny couldn’t help checking him out. Blushing herself, as he sat next to her on top of the table, his feet on the bench beside her, she forced a smile.

“Hi,” he grinned almost shyly. “We saw each other on the road earlier. I go by D’Artagnan, but my name is really Clai. Pleased to meet me?” He held out his hand, palm up.

“Hi,” she was so ashamed because she had been staring at him, her voice caught in her throat. “I’m Emily’s friend, Ginny. Well I’m Aelfwyn for the weekend. Pleased to meet me?” Her shy smile lit her face.

Clai took her hand, kissing it gently. His lips were soft, the golden hairs on his chin tickled her fingers. She felt a thrill run through her she had never felt before.

“Enchanté, mademoiselle.” His accent was quite good. He said something else in French that she didn’t understand, withdrew his hand, smiling a little forlornly. “You don’t speak French, do you?” At her negative reply, he sighed. “I keep trying. One day, maybe there will be another language major at one of these things, with whom I can communicate. Anyway, I’d rather speak to you in English, than anyone else in the room, but I have to help with the banners. These damn sleeves of mine keep getting in the way. Can you help set me free from my entrapment before I nail my sleeve to the wall? Being a Frenchman has its draw-backs.”

She blushed again as he held out his hand to her. She fumbled for a moment with the sleeve and managed to release the catch. The second was easier. She had difficulty concentrating on what she was doing, causing her fingers to fumble more. He didn’t seem to mind, so she worked slowly until it was open.

“Do you want the sleeves rolled up?”

“No, I was thinking more along the line of taking the whole wretched thing off, I just can’t manage the sleeves alone. Will you watch it for me? My sister made it, she’ll kill me if anything happens to it. She’s in costuming,” he added as if this explained everything. Removing his shirt, he carefully handed it to her. Their fingers brushing for a moment, a little shock sprang from his hand to hers. She took the shirt and folded it equally carefully, laying it in her lap.

His cologne rose from the shirt, the scent intoxicating. She wanted to press the shirt to her face, but didn’t dare with so many people around her. She watched the banner hanging with growing interest, not so much the process itself, but because of Clai’s rear end was so tight she could have bounced a quarter off it

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Karen Made Me Write This ~ A Paranormal Romance by Dellani Oakes

Isabelle Wren isn’t like everyone else. She has special psychic powers, which set her apart. Her devoutly religious parents left her to be fostered by a spiritist named Zenobia, when she was very young. Now, she works hard at not showing how different she is. Working out at the gym, she notices someone watching her.

Slowing the treadmill to a gradual stop, she stepped off and drank from her water bottle. Feeling eyes on her, she checked the mirrors before turning around. No need to alert someone to the fact she knew she was being examined. It was a man, she was sure. Off to her right, behind her. Since there were at least six men in that corner, she closed her eyes, sending out her other senses, as her foster mother had taught her. Zeroing in on the third man from the right, she opened her eyes. Spotting him in the mirror, she examined him. He glowed, but it was neither blue, gold, nor red. Instead, he had a dark, vivid green around him. This was a color she had never seen before.

Zenobia, her foster mother, glowed purple, as did she. Green was foreign to her. Staring at him in the mirror, water halfway to her lips, it took a moment to realize he was walking toward her. Not to be taken be surprise, she swung around, ready to leap if needed. He was smiling, but anyone could smile. He lusted, that was readily apparent, but every man in the room did, to one degree or another. His hair was black, with a blueish tint. His swarthy skin was scattered with thick, black hair. She was tall, he towered over her by a good six inches. Her body was toned, fit, lean. His was heavily muscled. She would bet that even his feet were fit.

The room grew very still, the air vibrating between them as he advanced, eyes locked on hers. He moved with a sinuous grace Isabelle had never seen before. The room around them receded when he stopped in front of her. His eyes were as black as his hair, not dark brown. He gazed down at her, his lust rising.

“What are you?” he asked sharply.

“I’m Isabelle Wren.”

“I didn’t ask your name. What are you?”

“Might ask you the same,” she snapped.

Clamping her lips shut, she fussed at herself. Zenobia had cautioned her never to allude to her gifts, not to show she was anything but human. Now, she’d broken the cardinal rule, seconds after meeting this man. Color rose in her cheeks as he stared at her, undressing her with his black eyes. He seemed to peel away her skin, searching bone deep. He tried to probe her mind, and recoiled. A millisecond of fear passed across his face, and a low rumble thundered in his chest.

“Issy?” a cheerful voice broke the spell between them.

It was her friend, Candy. She was as human as can be, and a genuinely good person to boot. Isabelle hung out with her, because there was nothing artificial about Candy. What you saw, you got.

“Hey, girl! Who’s your friend?” Her bright blue eyes twinkled as they raked his body. “Hey, sugar. I’m Candy.” She held out her hand.

The dark man glared at her, then her hand, before turning his back. He walked away, shoulders hunched with suppressed anger.

“Well, ain’t he just a special sorta rude?” Candy said.

“Thanks. I wasn’t sure what to say to make him go away.”

“I saw you struggling. You didn’t know whether to kiss him, or kick him.”

“I was opting for the latter.”

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

First Meeting from Jerrika and Delmar ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

Sometimes, first meetings aren’t face to face. In fact, Jerrika Harper and Delmar Washington connect over the phone, and don’t actually meet face to face for several days.

The phone rang on the other end, sounding tinny in his ear. Staring at his computer screen, which was doing something he knew it shouldn’t be, he waited.

“Tech support, Jerrika speaking, how may I help you?”

“Hi, this is Delmar, Fifth Floor.”

“Hello, Delmar Fifth Floor. What seems to be your trouble?”

Her voice was bright and sparkly, somehow lightening the load he had on his shoulders.

“I’m hoping you can tell me. I’m staring at a black screen. Before you ask, yes, it’s all plugged in, the monitor is on, I’ve turned it off and on again, and it’s still black.”

“Hmm. Is there a cursor blinking?”

“Yeah.”

“So, we know it’s operational. Did you recently download anything?”

“You think it’s a virus?”

“Could be. Did you?”

“Just some files for a client.”

“Via e-mail?”

“Yeah.”

He heard keys clicking rapidly.

“Name?”

“Delmar Washington.”

“Gotcha.”

More keys clicked. Jerrika whistled. “Wow, Delmar. Do you ever clear out your inbox?”

“I thought I did. Why?”

“You’ve got over two thousand old e-mails here, love. Want I should purge this?”

“You can do that?”

“I am an Tech Goddess, I am omnipresent and omnipotent.”

“But are you omniscient? Because that’s my favorite.”

She giggled. “Only on Friday. You’re in luck! This might take a minute.”

He could still hear her breathing, and the sound of keys clicking, so he knew she hadn’t hung up. As he watched, his screen blinked blue, black and came back on.

“Whoa! What did you do?”

“I have solved your problem. The most recent e-mails are in a file marked Recent. The ones which were less than a month old are now in a file marked 30 days or less. I did a quick check of the spam folder, threw it all away, and cleared your deleted files. The rest you’ll have to decide about. I didn’t want to purge anything important.”

“Damn, girl! Will you marry me?”

“That’s just the relief talking.”

“True. But how can I thank you? That was amazing.”

“I’m fond of chocolate chip cookies,” she teased.

“I’ll send you some.”

There was a surprised pause. “You really would, wouldn’t you?”

“You bet. Hey, better yet, I’ll get you a gift card to Lucille’s Bakery on Sixteenth. They make the best chocolate chip cookies in the city. What’s your e-mail?”

“Jerrika Harper. That’s spelled J-E-R-R-I-K-A.” It wasn’t necessary to give the rest, they worked for Crossfire Sporting Goods, which had its own server.

His turn to tap keys.

“Oh, my God, you really did!”

“I was serious about that thank you. You have no idea how much I have to do before I can go home. You’re a life saver.”

“I live but to serve. Anything else I can help you with?”

“I’d love for you to keep talking to me, you have a beautiful voice.”

“Why, thank you. You’ve got a very nice voice, yourself. But if you’re that busy, I’ll distract you.”

“Also true. Much as I’d love to keep chatting, I gotta go. Thanks again.”

“You bet. That’s what I’m here for. Keep your e-mail cleared out,” she admonished playfully.

“Never gonna happen.”

Laughing, they said goodbye and hung up.

© 2019 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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First Meeting from Indian Summer Revisited ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

I am a big fan of first meetings. These often set the tone for the relationship, and tell us a lot about how the couple will interact with one another later in the story. Although they get off to a somewhat rough start, Malin Dimas and Carina Enriques-Deza find that they are mutually interested. Carina is an art student who loves photography. She’s so absorbed in her projects, she doesn’t always pay attention where she’s going, particularly if she’s in a rush.

Class ended, but Carina hardly noticed. She had another class, then she had to work. Her less than glamorous job was waiting tables at a small outdoor restaurant on Hypolita Street.

Rushing to her class, she neatly avoided running into anyone until she got to the staircase. Going from the bright sun to the sudden shade, she was still wearing her sunglasses. She ran headlong into a tall, broad shouldered body. Her bag went one way, her body the other, while the strong male hardly moved. He did grunt, her elbow having caught him inadvertently in the midsection.

Carina sprawled on the ground, cursing in Spanish and English as the man tried to help her up. Hardly looking at him, she was trying to find the things that had fallen out of her bag.

Her phone had landed in a shallow puddle. Her pens and lip gloss were nowhere to be found. A well calloused, long fingered hand helped her up, brushing her off as a pleasant tenor voice apologized for running her down.

“I’m so sorry. I got sun dazzled I guess,” he said quietly, handing her the lip gloss and pens. “I got in this dark and I couldn’t see a damn thing. Sorry about that.” His soft Southern accent was warm and welcoming.

Carina looked up at him. He had black hair and dark brown eyes. Her own jade green eyes locked with his for a moment and she smiled.

“It’s okay. I couldn’t see either. Environmental hazard living in Florida.”

“Beg pardon?” He looked confused.

“Sunshine,” she pointed skyward.

“Well, it is the Sunshine State, right?”

“Yeah. Sorry, I really need to run. I’ve got class.”

“Oh, sure. Sorry again.”

“No problem. Sorry I elbowed your gut.”

“Missed the nuts,” he said with a grin.

Carina giggled as she trotted up the stairs. The young man walked with her, taking the steps two at a time.

“I bet your girlfriend will be grateful for that,” she said as he opened the stairwell door for her.

“Don’t have one, but I’m mighty happy you missed ’em. I’ve grown a bit attached to them over the years.”

With a sidelong glance, she eased past him as he held the door for her. He stood by it, leaning on the edge, gazing down at her. There was barely enough room to slip through, but she did because she was in a hurry. Waving to him, she dodged in her classroom as the instructor was about to close the door.

“Carina, nice you could join us.”

“Sorry. I fell,” she explained as she walked past him.

“You okay?” Those were the last words that made their way into the hallway.

Malin Dimas shouldered his backpack and walked downstairs. He would have used any excuse to walk that girl to her class. He didn’t have another class until eleven, so he headed to the nearest coffee shop, got a large double shot and wandered to the Plaza in front of Government House. Sitting on the steps of the Slave Market, he gazed out over the town.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Under the Western Sky ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestSometimes, couples will have known one another for a while before taking it to a different level. For whatever reason, they don’t see that they’re in love. Several of my couples are good friends, often involved with other people. However, the bond between them is strong. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, completely by surprise, they realize that they’ve been in love for ages, and didn’t see it.

Because I have quite a few of these books, I’ve decided to add a new category. Rather than just sharing First Meetings, I want to share that moment when they realize—they’re in love.

Introducing the Epiphany—that sudden realization that they belong together. Mixed in with the First Meetings, I’ll be adding Epiphanies.

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500

The first one I’d like to share is from my published novel, Under the Western Sky. Libby Marshall and Bobby Menendez have been friends since they were children. Now in high school, they still hang out and do things together. However, much to Bobby’s chagrin, Libby has never taken him seriously as a boyfriend. Tonight, though, they’re going out with their best friends, Danny and Toni, who are a couple. Bobby can’t help hoping that Libby will change her mind.

They pulled up to Toni’s house. The girls were waiting on the porch. Bobby hopped out, holding the door for Toni and Libby to climb in. Toni sat up front, scooting over next to Danny. Libby reluctantly got in back, moving to the far side of the car as Bobby climbed in. Looking disappointed, he sat on his side of the wide car, staring out the window.

Once they had their tickets and popcorn, they went into the theater and found a good spot. The boys liked to sit in the back because there was more leg room, but the girls liked the middle. To compromise, they sat somewhere between the two and let Danny have the aisle seat since his legs were the longest. Toni snuggled next to him as he put his arm around her shoulders. Libby sat next to her, not really looking at Bobby, although they shared the popcorn.

“Are you mad at me or something?” he asked her quietly, not wanting to bring their friends into it.

The others were so wrapped up in one another, they didn’t hear him. Libby scooted a little closer, lowering her voice as she took a bite of popcorn.

“No, I’m not mad, Bobby. I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with this whole arrangement, that’s all.”

“We’re a couple friends going to a movie. You got a full social calendar I don’t know about?” He tried to make light of it, but his feelings were hurt.

Libby nudged him, nearly spilling the popcorn. “Don’t be a goof. Of course not.”

“I really like you, Libby. If you can’t see that, I’m sorry.”

“I thought maybe you were going out with me because of what Toni said to Danny. That she wouldn’t go if I didn’t have a date.”

“All this time you thought that’s what this was? A mercy date? Baby, I think you’re the greatest!”

“You do? For real?”

“Yeah, for real. Hey, would I make comments about your ass if I didn’t think you were cute?”

“I dunno, you’re a guy. I mean, Danny’s always drooling over my tits.”

“Danny’s a goober. He drools over any tits he can see. You have to admit, you’re killing us both with the no bra thing.”

She looked at him, raising an eyebrow. “I’ll remember you said that, Roberto.”

“What, are you my mom? You have to scold me into behaving? I want to date you, Libby. If I wanted just to jump your bones, I’d have done that already. You know, some women actually find me very attractive.”

She giggled, tossing her hair. “Yeah, I can see the appeal. You’ve got that whole Latin Lover thing going. The dark hair and bedroom eyes. You’re cute, for sure.”

“Then why won’t you let me kiss you?”

She looked at the screen as the movie started. By the set of her shoulders, he could see that she didn’t know how to respond. Taking a chance that he was right, he blundered on.

“Is it because all this time you thought I didn’t really like you? How could I not? You’re wonderful. I’ve had a thing for you like—forever,” he whispered as the cartoon started.

Libby gave him a curious stare as the lights dimmed, her popcorn halfway to her mouth. She couldn’t believe his admission was real. He didn’t really want her, did he? He was taking her out so Toni would go with his best friend. That’s what friends did for one another. Was he kidding? She was too inexperienced to tell.

Libby knew a lot of girls her age had already lost their virginity. She and Toni were among the few left in their graduating class who had never been with a guy. If Danny got his way, that was going to change and soon. He was so hot for Toni, he got a boner every time he talked to her. Bobby, on the other hand, couldn’t possibly mean it. Or did he?

Maybe she would let him kiss her. Hell, if she didn’t like it, she could always stop him and say no. There was no harm in a kiss, was there? She shifted a little closer and didn’t mind when his arm draped around her.

Bobby couldn’t believe his luck. Libby leaned against him, her head nearly on his shoulder as the movie started. Braving an arm across her shoulders, he played with a curl, wrapping it around his finger. One little flick of his thumb and she’d turn her head so he could kiss her.

Libby watched the movie, giggling every so often. Danny and Toni weren’t paying any attention at all. As soon as the lights went down, they were necking, their popcorn forgotten on the floor. Bobby was still holding theirs, taking a bite every now and then, pretending to act casual, but she could feel the tense set of his shoulders. She glanced at him, his handsome face cast into highlights and deep shadows by the movie.

Feeling her eyes on him, he turned to face her, a half smile greeting her curious gaze. Setting the popcorn on the floor, he leaned toward her, lips slightly parted.

His kiss caught her by surprise, although she knew he was going to do it. She hadn’t expected it to be so nice.

To her, Bobby was like a fixture, something that was always there. They had known one another since their dads went into the Marines, doing recon in hostile territory. Their deaths had forged a bond between her family and his, making them virtually inseparable.

His kiss felt good, warm, sexy, more than just friendly. She had thought it would be like kissing a brother, but it was anything but that. Smiling to herself, she took a breath and opened her mouth slightly, letting him kiss her more deeply. No guy had ever kissed her like that. His lips left hers as he leaned against her forehead, sighing contentedly.

“That wasn’t so bad, was it? I mean, you’re not like throwing up or anything over there are you?”

“That was nice,” she admitted. “It was more than nice, it was super.”

Bobby chuckled, kissing her playfully on the nose. “Yeah, it was. Now do you think I’m doing this just to make Toni and Danny happy?”

“No.”

“Good, cause I don’t give a shit about either of them. I like you a lot, Libby.”

“I like you too, Bobby.”

They didn’t watch much of the rest of the movie, but kissed and talked quietly while the theater went crazy around them. They were in their own little world.

©2013 Dellani Oakes

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http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm

First Meeting from How Far is Heaven ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestHal Garrow is alone in a big city, squeaking by financially, as he finishes his degree in music. He’s feeling down after an audition didn’t go well. Drawn to a small lake on campus, he pulls out his guitar and starts to sing.

He started strumming a happy tune he’d been working on. He didn’t feel happy and the tune started to take on the characteristics of a dirge, so he stopped playing, thought a moment and began to play a gospel song he’d learned years ago.

“Battered and torn, still I can see the light. Tattered and worn, but I must kneel to fight.”*

He sang softly as he formed the chords and plucked the strings. Transported away on the wings of the song, he didn’t notice that someone else had entered the park and was cautiously crossing the bridge.

Her voice joined his on the chorus, harmony soaring to the sky. She had a magnificent voice; high, sweet and clear as crystal. Hal was so surprised by her sudden appearance, he quit playing and stared. Sitting beside him, she smiled at him encouragingly.

“Go on then,” she motioned for him to continue. She had a high speaking voice and a slight Irish accent. “It’s my favorite part, the chorus.”

She flashed him a five star smile, her dark eyes dancing above full red lips. Her hair was like spun molasses, rich golden brown curls. Hal hesitated a moment longer, then started playing again. She sang loudly, pouring her heart into the words, smiling encouragement for him to join her in harmony. He faltered a moment on the notes, then sang just as loudly as she, his sweet tenor joining hers as they swooped through the melody.

When the song was over, he placed his hand gently over the strings to stop their vibration and looked at her again. He saw himself reflected in her eyes; long, straight black hair, high cheekbones and a nose that was almost too big for his face. His eyes were like two bright pieces of jet, piercing in their intensity.

The young woman held out a well manicured hand, long mauve nails glittering in the afternoon sunlight. “Hi, Maeve Tierney.”

“Hal Garrow,” he smiled shyly. “Have we met before, Miss Tierney?”

“Maeve. Not exactly, but we have a couple classes together. I mostly sit right up front, or I find myself day-dreaming. I have the attention span of a goldfish.” Her smile radiated harmony.

“I mostly like the back,” he shrugged. “Less likely to be called on in the back.” He forced himself to look away from her, gazing into the lake.

“If you don’t want to call attention to yourself,” she said, “why sit in the middle of the pond and play?”

“It’s the only place I feel safe,” he told her honestly. “I’m a country boy. This is as close as I can get on short notice.”

“I’m a city girl,” she told him. “I thrive on traffic snarls, exhaust fumes and ill tempered taxi drivers. The pond has its appeal though. Sometimes, even I want to be alone.”

“Is that why you came by today?” He made to rise, but Maeve’s hand on his arm stopped him.

“No, I came because I knew I’d find you here.”

“Right….” his tone was sarcastic.

“Don’t believe me, it makes no difference to me if you do or not. But I found you, didn’t I?”

“Specifically, by name?”

She shook her head. “Just a feeling I was going to meet someone unusual, special in some way. I never know who I’ll be meeting through such serendipitous circumstances. But I always find that I enjoy the encounter, regardless of how long it lasts. Don’t you ever have that?”

“Not really. Well,” he hesitated. “Maybe once in awhile. I guess I never really thought about it the same way, is all.”

“Serendipity. It’s how my parents met. Silly little thing when you think about it. It was her first day waiting tables at a pub in Chelsea. She spilt something on him and the rest is history.”

Interested despite himself, Hal smiled. “What did she spill on him?”

“Oh, it was awful,” Maeve said with dread. “He had ordered tomato soup and a roast beef sandwich with a dill pickle. Mum wasn’t too good at balancing a tray. She caught her foot on a board and toppled. The soup went over his head and the pickle landed in his lap. The sandwich, by some miracle, stayed on the plate. Mum dove for the pickle, grabbing for it as it fell. Nearly grabbed his privates instead. Of course, he was furious, but laughing so hard he couldn’t yell at her. She finally realized what she was doing, grubbing around at his britches. Red faced, she ran to the kitchen, crying and kicking up a fuss. As he was leaving, he handed her a sizable tip and said, Miss, you can grab for my pickle anytime. She quit that very day.”

“But they still ended up together?”

“Yes. It was meant to be. They met some days later at a party. Once she got over the horrible embarrassment, she decided she quite liked him.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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I Shall Not Walk Alone by Ben Harper

First Meeting from Hooked on Love ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestPenny Hart owns and operates a fast growing coffee and music store called Caffeinated Discs. Several nights a week, a small authors group meets there for coffee, chat and writing. She’s known them all for years, but tonight, there’s a new person among them.

Loud laughter burst out in the alcove where the writers group sat. They’re a rowdy bunch. I decided to join them after I got the coffee ready.

As I started the pot, the CD changed and the louder, more strident sounds of Tomoyasu Hotei started playing. I love his song, Battle Without Honor or Humanity, which happened to be playing. I cranked it up without really thinking about it. It drowned out the laughter and other sounds in the shop. When I turned around I was surprised to see a tall, lean muscled, broad shouldered guy standing behind me on the other side of the counter. He smiled as I jumped back a little.

“Well now,” he grinned, his Southern accent strong. “I haven’t had that effect on a lady for some time. I apologize if I scared you.”

“No, I just didn’t hear you come up, over the music.”

“Good tune. Hotei has a unique style, doesn’t he?”

I giggled a little nervously. Tall, gorgeous, muscular men tend to make me feel a little self-conscious.

“Yeah, I like him a lot. Most people don’t even know who he is. I get a lot of blank stares when I mention him.”

“I’ve gotten used to the blank stares. I like all kinds of weird music.” He sat on one of the bar stools.

His hair was a sandy brown, bleached by the sun. His skin was medium tan, but looked slightly sunburned. He had pale green eyes, like jade, with a smoky gray around the outer edge. I just about fell over the counter as I stared into them. Rimmed with dark eyelashes, I thought they were the most amazing eyes I’d ever seen. He had a strong jaw, slight cleft in his chin and a great smile. He was smiling at me now, in fact he was laughing.

“Have I got something caught in my teeth?” He rubbed his front teeth with his index finger.

“No. No, I’m sorry.” I giggled, blushing like crazy. “It’s just…. No.”

I shook my head so violently that I shook some of my hair loose. I have medium length, dark chestnut brown hair that’s kind of wild and flyaway. Even in clips, with lots of mousse, it gets away from me. My eyes are practically the same color as my hair. When I get a tan, I’m sort of monochromatic.

“My name’s Kael,” he put out his hand. His fingers were long, strong and calloused.

“Penny,” I smiled a little.

I hate being so shy! I hardly can talk to a handsome man. I just about freeze up when a guy looks at me. Here was this gorgeous hunk talking to me, holding out his hand to be shaken, and I stood there like a fool. Forcing myself to do the right thing, I held out my hand. He took my fingers gallantly in his and kissed them gently. It was the sexiest kiss I’ve ever had and it wasn’t even on my lips.

His green eyes twinkled, squinting slightly as he smiled. “Pleased to meet you, Penny. Is that short for Penelope?”

“Unfortunately. I hate it.”

I wrinkled my nose and used the excuse of the coffee finishing to try and extract myself from him. He held my fingers close to his lips, not quite kissing them again.

“I don’t think it’s such a bad name. It could be Hildaguard, or Gertrude or Brunnhilde. Penelope is pretty.” He let go of my hand with an easing of his grasp.

“Thank you. Boris tells me you’re a Marine?”

“Just got out a few weeks ago.”

“Were you in the war?” I turned around with the empty coffee carafe in my hand. “Several of my friends have been over there.”

“I was in Iraq.”

“Was it awful?”

His eyes got very sad and he turned his face away from me, gazing out the dark windows to the lonely strand of beach.

“It was—beyond awful,” he murmured.

When he turned, I saw a scar on the side of his face. It ran from the corner of his left eye to the area under his left ear. It was very thin and light, but looked relatively new.

My hand reached out without my thinking about it. I touched the scar, making him flinch. He didn’t quite jump away from my hand, but he looked uncomfortable for a moment.

“What happened?”

He moved away from my touch ever so slightly, but my fingers followed him of their own volition. I couldn’t let it go for some reason. I could tell it was making him uncomfortable, but I had to know.

“My buddy and I got too close to a car that blew up.”

“Part of the car did that?”

He shook his head, moving away a little more. “No,” he said so soft I could hardly hear him. “Part of my buddy.”

“Oh, God!” My fingers jerked away like I’d been shocked. “I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s okay.” He tried to smile, but I could see the pain in his eyes. “Really. A few decades of therapy, I’ll be over it.”

His smile and laugh were forced and I felt horrid making him to talk about something so obviously painful. I took his hand, making him look at me.

“I’m so sorry. I know it must have been the worst thing ever. I can’t even imagine what it’s like there. No one who hasn’t been can possibly understand. But if you ever want to talk about it, I’m a good listener.”

“Like a bartender, huh? You listen to customers spill their guts and open their hearts?”

I shrugged, shaking my head. “No. Mostly I make coffee and put music on the CD player. But sometimes you need someone to talk to. Even if I can’t relate to you’ve been through, I can listen.”

“Thanks,” he said quietly. “I might take you up on that sometime.”

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from He Thought He Saw ~ Miracle, Mississippi Series Book 1 by Dellani Oakes

He Thought He Saw redThis story isn’t exactly a romance, though there is a relationship between the two main characters. I would call this story a New Adult book, though it is also a fantasy set in modern times. Brian Casey has been having a rough few months. Strange things started happening around his 15th birthday in May, and keep getting worse. Now, it’s November, and the strange things get even more strange.

To make life a little more interesting, he meets someone at his bus stop. However, he isn’t quite sure who the person is.

A baggy, navy blue, hoodie concealed a short, slight frame. Straight, brown hair stuck out from under a multicolored beanie, concealing most of the face. Jeans and boots completed the anonymous outfit.

“Trouble?” Brian asked quietly.

The person gasped, looking up at him. “I think I managed to delete all my music,” the gruff voice complained. “Either that, or something else is wrong with the damn thing. It won’t work.”

“Man, that sucks. Mind if I sit?”

“Help yourself. Not my bench.”

“I’m Brian Casey.”

“Jordan Barrett.” The name and voice did nothing to clarify the gender issue.

“You must be new around here. I’ve never seen you before.”

“My folks wanted a quieter, simpler life. So, instead of living in the suburbs, they picked his tiny town in BFE. I can’t even get cell service unless I’m standing in the center of town. So much for keeping up with my friends back home.”

“Guess you’ll have to make some new ones,” Brian said quietly. He wasn’t sure what to think of the mouthy, disgruntled teen. He dearly wished that either the name or the clothing was different so he’d have a clue if he was speaking to a boy or girl. He still couldn’t tell, and he didn’t think it was polite to ask.

“Yeah. Not like I had so many, ya know? Not one to be popular.”

“Me either. Gotta work too hard to be popular. Besides, I prefer being anonymous.”

“Whatever works, right? Of course, my parents are upset that I’m a social pariah. They were head cheerleader and captain of the football team. They went Greek in college and belong to the alumni association of their high school and college. Mom was also Miss Teen Spirit when she was in high school. I told her I wasn’t interested in being named after a deodorant—or a song. She so didn’t get it.”

Brian chuckled, nodding. “I’m lucky. My mom couldn’t care less if I’m popular. She wants good grades. Can do that standing on my head.”

“You any good at math?”

“Yeah, pretty good. Why?”

“Because I suck ten kinds of suckage at math. I need someone to help me. Dad said he would, but he’s about as patient as a wet cat. Mom’s blonde.” Jordan said that as if it meant something special.

Brian, who was also blond, looked confused.

“Dumb blonde?” Jordan snickered. “I guess it’s contagious.”

“I may be blond, but at least I’m good at math.” He tried not to sound offended, but didn’t conceal it well.

“Oh, touchy! If you can help my math grade, I forgive you for being blond and promote you to honorary brunette.”

Brian chuckled. “Mighty kind of you.”

The bus arrived a few minutes later. Brian let Jordan walk on ahead of him. He moved down the aisle and took his usual seat. Since no one else sat with him, Jordan joined him. They talked a little bit on the way to school, but the engine noise made conversation difficult, especially once the bus filled up.

“What’s your first class?” Brian asked Jordan as they got off the bus.

“Chemistry. You?”

“The same. Mr. Sullivan?”

“Yeah. I didn’t see you yesterday.”

“I was sick. Want to walk together? We social pariahs should always travel in pairs.”

Jordan laughed. “Yeah. Thank you. Hey, can you open these lockers? I couldn’t get mine and had to carry all my books home. My shoulders are killing me.”

“Sure. There’s a trick to it. I’ll show you.”

He walked with Jordan to a nearby locker. Brian opened it with ease.

“How did you do that? I tried forever!”

“Gotta spin it twice all the way around to the right before doing the numbers. Also, you have to do the locker dance.”

“Locker dance?” A raised eyebrow showed Jordan’s skepticism.

“Yeah. You don’t know the locker dance?” Brian winked and gave a little shake of his hips as he shuffled in a circle. He even gave it the Saturday Night Fever point.

Jordan laughed loudly, head tossed back. “Oh, that’s a good one. I have to remember that. Help me with these books, would you? I hurt my wrist. Had a fall. It’s all bruised up.”

“No problem.” He took the books and laid them neatly in the locker.

“I hate to ask, but I need help with my jacket too.”

“Sure thing.”

He held the end of one sleeve, pulling it over a wrist brace. He stood close to Jordan, helping to detach the Velcro straps that kept catching on the jacket sleeve. With a mighty tug, he lost his balance, toppling over and knocking Jordan back a step. It was then, face to face and mere inches separating them, that he realized Jordan was a girl.

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from He Needed Killin’ ~ A Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestI love First Meetings. Introducing us to the main characters, they set the stage for what’s to come. Dill Hamilton has an abusive boss, RJ Caldwell. Having just gotten away from him, he’s taken a job at a local steakhouse. Unfortunately, RJ finds out and confronts him, violently. The sheriff’s department arrives, and Dill meets Deputy Haylee Cassidy.

Sirens screamed to halt outside. RJ faltered, sinking to his knees with his hands behind his head. Bark put the rifle down and they waited while Levy and Haylee raced in. Caldwell was cuffed, his rights read, in less than five minutes. While the sheriff hauled him in, Haylee sat down to take statements. She started by eliminating those who hadn’t seen anything, or at least said they hadn’t. Mostly, she concentrated on Carla, Joe, Bark and Dill. She took the others first, then sat down with Dill. The bar cleared early as the deputy talked to and released the patrons. No one felt much like drinking when a cop was there.

“So, RJ found you, huh?”

“Yeah. Not sure how that happened.”

“I do. Leanne, our dispatcher, told him when he called in. We asked her not to, but she’s honest to a fault, and it felt like a lie. In her defense, she thought he was genuinely worried about you. He can be damn convincing when he wants.”

“Yeah. He’s a snake.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“I worked partly in the office, then Bark needed me on the bar. I have experience, so I agreed. Good night, no serious issues. It felt great to be back around people, you know? It’s real isolated out there with only RJ for company. Once in awhile, he’d have a visitor, but I wasn’t allowed to talk to them. I saw Carla when she came up. Sometimes, on my day off, I saw some folks.” He shrugged, shaking his head.

“How did you live like that?”

Dill chuckled, his gray-green eyes focusing on hers as he laid his arms on the table, hands folded. “Honestly? I have no idea. I had no other choice. Or I thought I didn’t.”

“What made you leave?”

Glancing away, Dill swallowed. He looked so young, vulnerable, Haylee wanted to hug him.

“He slapped me. All the time. What kind of a man slaps people?” His eyes darted back to hers. “And what kind of a man stands there and takes it? I stayed because I needed the money. Then it got to the point where the money wasn’t enough to make up for the humiliation. I’d rather work in a strip club with women grabbing my ass, than spend another second with that man. I was on my way back to the Purple Pony when I stopped here for dinner. Bark offered me a job, so I stayed.”

Haylee nodded, scribbling in her notebook. She couldn’t look at him. Tears welled in her eyes and she bit her lip so she wouldn’t cry. Mouth in a tight line, she swallowed and regrouped before looking up again.

While she wrote, Dill watched her. She was a pretty woman, firm jaw, high cheekbones, full lips. Her pale blonde hair was natural. Her body sported a light tan which was mostly tightly grouped freckles. She looked up at him again and he noticed that her eyes were a startling, penetrating turquoise, like a mountain lake. Swallowing quickly, he tried to pretend he hadn’t been staring.

“So, RJ found out from Leanne that you were here. Had he been drinking when he came in?”

“I’m not sure. I wasn’t that close. He was furious and started yelling about getting me back and exacting revenge. He gets very dramatic when he’s mad, starts to talk like a movie script. He made some threats and that’s when Joe ran for Bark. Bark came out with his rifle and told him to leave, but he refused. Shortly after that, you arrived.”

“Where are you staying?”

“Here. Bark’s got a couple rooms. It’s part of my wages.”

She nodded, scribbling notes. “Phone number?”

He rattled it off. “I took the battery out, though.”

“Why’s that?”

“RJ. I didn’t want him to track me. He’s got a program on his computer. Guess I can put it back in. Not like he doesn’t know where I am.”

“Good point. Besides, your mom might call, or something.”

“No, she won’t. She and my dad are dead.”

“Oh, my God, I’m so sorry!”

He wiggled his fingers to indicate that it wasn’t a problem. “They’ve been gone almost twenty years. I don’t remember them.”

“Do you have any pictures?”

“Used to. You lose things in foster care.”

Haylee couldn’t stop herself. She took his hand, squeezing his fingers. “I’m so sorry.”

Dill looked surprised and his gaze dropped to their clasped hands. Her hand was pale against his, but strong and her broad palms were calloused.

“People die,” he said calmly. “But thank you.” Raising her hand to his lips, he kissed it.

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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