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First Meeting from How Original ~ A Love in the City Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestAlthough Joy and Nathan aren’t the main love interest in this novel, the other two already know one another. This is a first meeting for Joy and Nathan, so I decided to include it. Nathan is an actor, who is staring in a TV show with Carl. Joy is the younger sister of Carl’s son-in-law. It’s Carl’s birthday, and they are all going out to dinner.

Join us for dinner?” Autumn invited Nathan.

If it’s not an imposition, thank you.”

Not at all,” Ernie replied. “Auntie Joy will be joining us,” he told Mimi.

Yay, Auntie Joy!” she hopped up and down.

My sister,” Ernie explained. “She couldn’t get to the game, so she invited us to dinner after.”

She won’t mind?”

Ernie’s eyes traveled from the top of Nathan’s head to his feet, then back up to his face. “Nope.”

I hope Auntie Joy is single,” he replied.

She is. And a fan. She’ll love meeting you.”

I look forward to it.”

Dinner was across town at a blues club called Charlie’s Tavern. An unprepossessing building from the outside, it had hosted blues bands from around the world. Fantastic music poured forth from the open doors and windows. The parking lot was jammed full. Luckily, the business next door was closed for the day, and allowed after hours parking. They were able to find places next to one another.

Auntie Joy was waiting on the porch, waving at her family. Her eyes nearly popped from her head when she saw Nathan.

Ohmigod! When Ernie said someone was joining us, I didn’t know—I wasn’t expecting! Oh, Wow! Mr. Crocker, I’m such a huge fan!” She took his hand in both of hers. “Such—a huge—!”

Not so huge,” he corrected with a dazzling smile. “You’re a little, bitty thing.”

Devoted,” she whispered. “Wow.”

Let’s not stand on the porch all night,” Ernie prompted. “I guess the rest of us don’t rate a welcome? We haven’t seen you in six months, Sis.”

She gave enthusiastic hugs and kisses all around, doing her best not to gape at Nathan again.

I’m so sorry. I know I’m acting like a star struck tween. I’ve been a fan since I was one.”

So, five years?” he teased.

We share a birthday,” she gasped.

No kidding? I never met a birthday twin before. Surely you’re younger.”

Joy shook her head, auburn curls bouncing in counterpoint. “Same year. Were you born here?”

No. A little town in Texas, called Dripping Springs, in the Hill Country.”

I want to hear all about it.”

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

First Meeting from After Midnight ~ A Florida Families Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestI love first meetings, as I’ve said before. I enjoy bringing people from different walks of life together, for me that’s fun. Amos Lowery is down on his luck. Living on the street, he walks around Daytona, looking for work. One night, he doesn’t find a job, he finds trouble—a man jumps him, drugging him. He’s brought to the hospital, where they discover he has a mark on his neck. They believe this is where the man drugged him. A doctor comes in to take a sample, but is rude. At the Amos’ request, a different doctor is summoned.

A quick word with the nurse and a different doctor, a young woman, with black, curly hair and a sassy attitude, came instead.

Hey there. I heard you and Craig had a problem?” She was very Southern. Amos placed her accent around south Alabama.

He was rude,” Sarah said, ready to cut loose.

He thought I was a junkie,” Amos said, shrugging.

Hmph,” she snorted. “Don’t look like one to me. I’m Annabeth, and I’ll be accosting you with sharp tools. Let me get a clean set up. I’ll be right back.”

Thanks, Annabeth.”

The nurse brought a tray instead and stayed to assist while the doctor took a small sample of the welt. The nurse did the blood draw, and the doctor washed her hands before settling on the end of the bed.

He’s another mystery drug man?” she asked of the room.

Yes,” Van said. “We were hoping for an update on his labs.”

I’ll get that. We’ve been monitoring for Dr. Weiss, but someone was supposed to tell you. Probably Craig.” She rolled her eyes. “Don’t take it personally,” she assured Amos. “He’s entitled and superior, because his daddy has money, and he hasn’t had to work for a living. I put myself through school.” She bounced out and got a tablet from a stand near the nurses’ station. When she came back, she sat on the bed next to Amos and accessed his files.

This is the level when you came in. It was still quite strongly in your system. Honestly, I’m surprised you were able to do much of anything, but lie on the beach and gurgle.”

Amos and the others laughed.

It’s been going down gradually. That’s interesting.” She paused, examining something on the tablet. “It hit a point and started to degrade more quickly. You’ll be glad to know, it’s very nearly gone from your system. Based on this rate, I’d say it should be completely dissipated in a few hours.”

Do you think I’ll get flashbacks, like with acid?”

I honestly don’t know, Amos. I’m sorry. You’re the first person to survive this.”

How did the others die?”

The police and doctor exchanged a look that Amos could easily read. They didn’t want to alarm him.

Look, I don’t scare easily. I’ve lived on my own for six years, much of it on the street. Before that, I was dodging my old man’s fists, and learning to hold my own with boys twice my size. I’m gonna go out on a limb, and say it was a real ugly death.”

Yes,” Annabeth said softly. “Very ugly. They mostly committed suicide. Some died as a result of the drug. We don’t know enough about it, to predict what will happen next.” She folded her hands in her lap. “Dr. Weiss believes the reason you survived is because you’re otherwise ridiculously healthy. Despite being malnourished, you’re the healthiest man I’ve ever met. In fact, your blood work is so good, they’re singing your praises in the lab.”

Amos chuckled, ducking his head. “I can’t afford to be bad,” he admitted.

Clean living, no matter why, is probably what saved your life. You’re obviously not a junkie.”

What’s-his-dick thought so.”

Annabeth snorted. Her lips were full, her skin a light cafe au lait. Amos suspected there was an interesting mixture of races in her background, which had gathered together to make an elegant woman. Her eyes were so dark brown, they looked like ebony. Her lashes were long and thick. He felt a flush start in his chest and move downward. Closing his eyes, he dearly hoped she wouldn’t notice.

What’s-his-dick also thought, because I worked my way through med school as a pole dancer, that I’m a whore.”

Amos’ eyes flew open, his mouth firmed up. “How do you stand him?”

I find myself having to rise above a lot. I clamp my mouth shut, and pretend I’m the adult. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was six. No pompous, pampered prick is going to take that from me.”

Chuckling, Amos nodded. “I like you, Dr. Annabeth.”

I happen to like you, too, Mr. Lowery.”

Amos, please.” He paused. “When can I get out of here?”

She pressed her lips together, tilting her head. “I don’t want to give you false hope, Amos. You’re mine for the next two days, at least. We want to make sure the drug breaks down completely, and that there are no lingering after effects. I don’t want to release you, only to have you come back an hour later.”

What you mean is, you don’t want to release me, and have me come back in a body bag.”

Brutal honesty,” she smiled, giving him a fist bump. “Not to be mean, but yeah. Your case intrigues me,” she flashed a smile.

And I’m charming,” he teased, winking at her.

He must not be too sick,” Annabeth said to Van with a glance at Amos’ lap.

Oh, shit,” he muttered, hands fluttering over his groin.

Laughing, Annabeth exited. Amos’ gaze lingered on the door as it slowly closed. He could still taste her scent on the air. It wasn’t heavy or perfumy, just clean and fresh, like sunshine at the beach.

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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Epiphany Moment from Amber Marley ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

Epiphany logoSometimes, 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. I’ve decided to call these Epiphanies and I’ll be sharing them in and among the First Meetings.

Amber Marley is an accomplished woman, with a high powered job. She’s known Patch Warren since they both started at Crossfire, years ago. Today, she’s seen her estranged father for the first time in 15 years, and found out that her brothers have been in touch with him since he left. Unsure how she feels about that secret betrayal, she starts crying in her car.

Closing her eyes, Amber held the phone to her cheek. Quiet tears ran down her face. Everything Ronald had said was true. She would have exploded if she’d known her brothers were still friendly with their father. After the boys left, it had always been her and their mom—two against the world. She’d finished high school with a deep, abiding pain inside her. A truth she’d always held, was that her father was a lying, cheating bastard, and she was better off not knowing him. Any happy memories she’d had, got pushed aside. Head dropping to the steering wheel, she sobbed like her heart was breaking all over again.

A gentle tap on her window, startled her, making her yelp. She looked up into the handsome face of Patch. Bending over, he gazed in her window. She scrolled it down so he could speak.

You okay, Amber?” Deep lines of worry etched his face.

Yeah…. No.”

Walking around to the passenger side, he waited until she unlocked the door. Sliding in, he tried to get comfortable in the snug confines of the compact car.

Talk.” He settled back, crossing his big arms across his massive chest.

The conversation with her brother tumbled out. Patch listened quietly, waiting for her to finish.

So, which are you more pissed off at? Your dad, or your brother?”

An unexpected laugh exploded from her. “Right now? Ronald, for sure.”

Why?”

He lied for years!”

So did your mom. And your dad. And your other brothers. Anyone who knew the situation, and didn’t tell you. They’re all liars. You gonna get pissed off at them, too? You could get mad as hell at me, for not telling you it was your dad.”

Why would I do that?”

I lied to you.”

Now, I feel stupid. I shouldn’t be mad at Ronald over this.” Exhaling sharply, she socked his arm. He didn’t even flinch. “Dammit, Patch! I was feeling entitled to a good cry and a snit fit!”

Sorry to interrupt the pity party, Amber. But do you really want to sit here in the parking lot, crying in your car, or do you want to have dinner with me?”

A smile lit her face. “I can’t tonight. Dad just called and asked me. But I’d like a rain check. I can’t think of a thing I’d like more, than to have dinner with you.”

He smirked. “I can think of a thing or two, but you’d hit me again.”

That was nothing. You didn’t even feel it.”

I’m a Marine, Miss Marley. Even if you’d crushed my nuts, I’d sit here and pretend it didn’t hurt. It stung some. I can tell you have brothers.”

My dad taught me. He said his daughter wouldn’t ever be a victim. He taught me how to defend myself.”

He made a strong woman of you. You remember the good things, and let the happiness fill those dark corners. And don’t hate on your brothers. They did what they thought was best.”

You’re right. God, I’m a mess. Hand me my bag, would you? It’s behind my seat.”

He reached it easily, handing it to her. She took out a makeup removal wipe.

You can watch while my face disappears.”

I think your face is gorgeous without the makeup.”

When have you seen me without it?”

Workout Weekend last year.”

Orrrg that! I hated Carlos for a month after that!”

Why? Little bitty girl like you, took on an entire defensive line, and made a touchdown.”

They didn’t tackle me, because I’m a girl. How is that a victory?” She balled up the used wipe and stuck it in the empty ashtray.

They didn’t tackle you, because you looked like a wildcat freight train on crack! Scared those boys shitless. Here’s Miss Marley, their boss, a delicate woman—hauling ass through them like a hot knife through butter. You about scared me white, and I was on your side!”

Oh, my God, really?”

You were red in the face, sweating and grimacing. You looked like you’d kill anyone who got in your way, with your bare hands. You were fierce, like Boudica, the warrior queen.” His voice took on a dreamy quality.

A small sob caught in her throat. “No one ever compared me to Boudica. Or pronounced it right, either.”

Patch touched her cheek, brushing a snarl of hair aside. “I’m full of surprises, Amber.” Unable to stop himself, he leaned over, hungry for a kiss.

Gazing into his blue eyes, Amber realized she wanted him to kiss her. Crossing the narrow gap between them, she closed her eyes, parting her lips. Patch saw a smile tug at her lips as their mouths met. Rather than devour her as he wanted, he gave her a gentle kiss. It lasted mere moments, but it meant the world to him. Her contented sigh told him she felt the same.

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Only Time by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestWhen I start looking for a new couple, I try to mix it up some. It’s easy to bring people who work in the same place, together. It’s also easy if they travel in the same social circles. I like to introduce couples who are unlikely to meet under regular circumstances. I also like to switch up their jobs, so they’re unique and unexpected. So it is with Zander and Gretchen. He’s a fashion designer and she’s the head carpenter for the company who’s building his catwalk. They meet at Zander’s studio.

Inside, chaos had returned. Garry took a crema to Rose, leaving Zander to look over the catwalk set up. A woman with black hair, approached. She was dressed in well worn jeans, a black, sleeveless top, and thick soled boots. She was about 5’7”, with a lean muscled build.

Mr. Wilkes?”

Yes?”

Gretchen Sanderson.” She held out her hand.

Zander didn’t know whether to shake it, or kiss it. She was beautiful. Breathtaking, really. Her black hair had a blue undertone that looked completely natural. Her light complexion set off her amber eyes.

How do you do?” He held her hand several seconds longer than necessary, while he stared at her face. “You are—perfection. Have you been back to see Rose about what outfit you’re wearing?”

The woman looked at her clothing, then back at him. “Am I not dressed all right?”

You need to get back there for your fitting. The ensembles are roughed in, but have to be fitted before you can go on stage.”

Tossing back her head, the woman laughed. Seeing his puzzled expression, she sobered a little.

I’m not a model, Mr. Wilkes. I’m the head carpenter. I had a few questions about the catwalk design. I don’t know who did the plans, but—I don’t think they’re completely safe.”

Broken from his appreciative reverie, he dropped her hand. “Not safe? How?”

I’ll show you. This way.” Tipping her head, she led him toward the stage area.

What’s wrong?”

The platforms are made with half inch plywood. We didn’t build these,” she gestured to her co-workers. “They’re going to buckle and bend when more than one person stands on them. I can either redo the tops, or reinforce with more supports underneath.”

Which do you recommend?”

Retopping them with one inch ply.”

How behind schedule will that put you?”

Pressing her lips together, she tipped her head to the left. “No more than a couple hours. The superstructure is fine. We just have to retop them. My guys are good and quick. There are only six of them, it won’t be that much trouble. We’re building the rest to my specs. I hope that’s all right.”

That’s fine. I want this done right. The fashion industry may be cut throat, but it’s not usually lethal.”

She smiled, dark eyes twinkling. “Good point. Thank you. We’ll get right on that.” Whistling sharply, she gestured to a couple men who were about ten feet away.

Retop those,” she ordered.

Yes, Boss,” they chorused.

They walked over, uncoupling the platforms quickly.

Zander chuckled. “My crew calls me that, too.”

I insisted. I’m not in the military, so I don’t really like being called ma’am.”

I can understand that. Are there any other problems you needed to discuss?”

Let me check.” She pulled out a small notepad from her back pocket. “Yes.” She went on to point out a few things that needed to be changed. “Again, I don’t know who did these plans, but they kinda had their head up their ass.”

There should be a name on the floor plan.”

She shook her head.

Check with my business manager, if you need to know. She handles those details. I just sign the checks.”

Not that important, except you don’t want to use them again.”

Then we’d better find out. Got a minute? We’ll find her together. I need to tell her that I fired a seamstress, and have her find another one.”

Sure. The guys are good, they can work without me breathing down their necks. In fact, they do better if I leave them alone.”

He chuckled, nodding. “My crew, too. I learned a long time ago, to let them do their jobs, since they sew way better than I do.”

I thought designers had to be able to sew, and stuff.”

Oh, I can, they’re just better.” He escorted her up the steps and through to the back. “Does the backstage need to be redone, too?”

No. My crew did that work. It’s just the ones up front.”

You didn’t do that assembly?”

No. Your manager fired the others, for some reason. But she was specific that the plan had to be followed.”

Hmmm…. Okay. Anyone seen Pamela?” he asked the room.

Office,” Melodie replied. She was wearing a different outfit now. Rose was pinning it into place.

Thanks.”

Allowing Gretchen to precede him, he guided her to Pamela’s office. As he opened the door for her, he touched the small of her back. A spark hit the tips of his fingers. Hissing a little, he pulled his hand away. Gretchen jumped.

Are you all right?” Zander asked, deeply concerned.

Yes, fine. I must have picked up some static.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

First Meeting from The Experiment ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting imageA senior in college, Maggie is struggling with a required freshman psych class. It’s her own fault, she’d been putting it off. If she doesn’t pass, she won’t graduate. When her professor offers here a chance to participate in an experiment, she jumps at the chance. She soon finds she’ll be paired with a man, a complete stranger. They will get “married”, and live together as a couple for the next six weeks. Tonight is their first meeting. Maggie has no idea what to expect.

A man walked in, catching her attention. He was six feet tall, lean built, with broad shoulders. His dark brown hair was cut in a sort of early Beatles style and was tossed around in such a casual way, it probably took ages to fix. He bent forward to talk to the hostess, hands in the pockets of his tan chinos. He wore a darker tan corduroy jacket and a plaid shirt that was buttoned to his adam’s apple. His expression was made difficult to read by the black framed glasses he wore. Give him a pocket protector full of pens, he’d be right out of Revenge of the Nerds.

Maggie stood as he approached the table, holding out her hand. He took it, his palm slightly sweaty, shaking it in a moderately firm grip.

“Jaeger Jeffreys,” he said by way of greeting. He pronounced his name Jay-ger.

“Margay Simmons—but you can call me Maggie.”

Jaeger came around to help her with her chair. Unused to such attention, Maggie sat too quickly, flopping awkwardly onto her seat. Fortunately, Jaeger didn’t seem to notice.

“So, Jaeger,” she croaked. Clearing her throat, she took a sip of water. “Do you go by a nickname? Like Jay or Ger?” Realizing she was babbling, Maggie stopped talking and took a deep breath. Another sip gave her an excuse to stay quiet.

Jaeger chuckled. “I sometimes go by Jeff or Jay. Good friends call me J.J. You can call me any of the above, or the full handle. I answer to about anything.”

His voice was a smooth tenor flavored by a slight Southern accent that she thought was from Alabama. Maggie had a good ear for accents and could usually pinpoint where someone was from after a very short time.

“Unusual name, Jaeger.”

“Yep. Mom’s family name. It’s actually my middle name. First name’s awful.” He made a face.

“It can’t be that bad.”

“Trust me. When I know you better, I’ll share.” He took a sip of his water.

The waitress brought their soup, a delicate gazpacho with croutons. Conversation lagged slightly as they ate.

“So, Jaeger, what do you plan to do once you graduate?”

He put down his spoon and folded his hands under his chin. “First of all, my future wife can call me Jay—please. Secondly, I’m going into the family business. Dad’s an accountant, his dad was, and his dad. Going back to the War Between the States, when my many greats granddaddy was pay master for General Lee.”

“The Civil War, you mean?”

Jay shushed her playfully. “Lord, chile, don’t ever let my granny here you say that! She will shoot you for a Yankee! She calls it The Recent Unpleasantness.” He laid a thick layer of Southern on his statement.

“Yankee! I think I might be offended by that.”

Jaeger laughed, slapping his thigh. “I say all that and you catch onto Yankee? Lordy. Where you from, Maggie?”

“I was born in Tennessee, but raised in Florida. I’m as Southern as you are.”

He held up a finger, wiggling it at her. “I do beg to differ. I was born in the Appalachian Mountains, in a cabin in the Chattahoochee National Forest. I was raised in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama. My folks were from Citronelle, Alabama—population just around thirty-six hundred. They now live in Biloxi, Mississippi. My granddaddy’s family was one of the first families to settle there in 1811. I have a family tree with so many branches, I don’t know all my first cousins and only a handful of the seconds. So, I promise you, to my granny, a girl raised in Florida—she’s a Yankee.”

Maggie bridled, sitting up straighter in her chair. It took her a moment to realize that he was teasing her. She saw an amused glitter in his eyes. She hadn’t noticed it before because of the glasses, but they were a dark sage green.

“Smart ass,” she muttered.

Jaeger winked. “Been called worse.”

Their entrees arrived. Maggie had opted for the coriander pork chop with a sweet potato and cooked apples. Jaeger had a steak, fries and grilled pineapple.

“I’m glad to see you’re not a vegan,” he said as he cut into his steak. “I dated a girl for awhile, only to find out she didn’t eat meat. Considering she didn’t share that fact with me when I invited her to dinner at the steak house, it was somewhat….”

“Humiliating?”

He winked, pointing his fork at her. “Bingo. I enjoyed my meal and she took a cab home.”

“Bummer.”

“Yeah, it was our third date too. Subject couldn’t come up before that?”

“You’d think so. What’s significant about the third date?”

Jaeger stopped eating, glancing up at her over his glasses. His fork and knife were poised to cut and framed his face in glittering steel.

“Um—the third date. After the third date…..” He tilted his head from side to side indicating she should fill in the blanks.

“Oh, my God! I’m dumb. I don’t—date—a lot. Like—ever?” Embarrassed, she attacked her pork chop with renewed vigor.

Jaeger’s laugh made her ears burn. She glared at him.

“I’m sorry. Just, it’s kind of refreshing to find someone who’s not jaded. You don’t know how rare that is, Maggie.”

“I suppose that could be a compliment. At least you didn’t call me naïve.”

“Now why would I do that? Being naïve isn’t a bad thing, but it implies being cut off from reality and not familiar with the bad things in life. You’re not sitting in some ivory tower, you’re out here with the rest of us, but you haven’t let the association with the bad things tarnish you.”

Maggie stared at him in silence, a bite of pork in her mouth. She had no idea how to reply to that. He’d summed up her life entirely in a few sentences. Not only that, he made her sound strong, positive and self-possessed. Everyone else treated her like a silly little child. She smiled.

“Thank you. I believe that’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me in a long time.”

“Then you don’t hang out with the right people.” He concentrated on his food.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting – Continued – from Feel the Heat ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting imageJax Jendrasik isn’t having a very good night. He had some trouble at his brother’s bachelor party, and ended up face down on the sidewalk. Fortunately, a lovely blonde was there to help. He’s been taken to the hospital and he’s waiting for the doctor.

The drape flicked aside and a woman entered. She seemed vaguely familiar, her blonde hair slicked back and glittered.

You?” Jax chuckled.

Doctor Johanna Strauss. You must be T-Rex,” she held out her hand to Telise.

Telise punched her brother’s arm before shaking the doctor’s hand.

We spoke on the phone.”

So, the hot blonde is a doctor, huh?” Jax chuckled.

Yes. Don’t let the hair fool you, I’m very good at my job. I was on my way to an Eighties themed party, when I saw him go down,” she explained. “You do have a concussion, so we’re going to keep you overnight. No fractures, though we do need to clean up your cheek, and see what other damage is under there. My friend Candy, is bringing you the good stuff—not morphine,” she assured them. “Derrick dutifully reported.” Nitrile gloves on, she moved Jax’s head a little, turning on a bright light, angling it away from his eyes as much as she could. “You have some road rash, but it’s not serious as it looked at first glance. It’s filthy, though. I don’t want to speculate what you landed in.”

Outside that club?” He shuddered. “I’ll be happy if it’s just piss.”

We’ll give you a full spectrum antibiotic. You up to date on tetanus?”

It’s been a few years. When did you get the new roof?” he asked his sister.

Five years ago. Why?”

Remember, I stepped on the old nails sticking from the board. Doc hit me with a shot then.”

You should be all right. They’re good for ten. Ah, here’s Candy with the good stuff. We’re going to debride his face now. You need to wait out in the other room. I very much doubt you want to see that.”

You’d be right.” Squeezing her brother’s hand, Telise left.

I’m going to give you a shot to deaden the side of your face, before I begin. It stings, so if you yell insults, I won’t be offended.”

I’ll try not to, but my pain threshold’s real low at the moment.”

What would you say your pain level is right now?” She frowned, exchanging a look with the nurse.

Hovering between five and six. Hit the pavement with my face. Might have noticed.”

We’ll take care of that right now. Candy?”

Off we go,” Candy said, jabbing the needle into his IV port.

Thanks.”

A few seconds later, Dr. Strauss popped him with another needle.

Son-of-a-bitch!” he yelped. “Sorry, Doc.”

No worries. I’m no one’s son, and my mama’s not a bitch.”

Good. Mine either. Fine lady. Bit of a temper.” The drugs were starting to make him a little sleepy. “Oh, that’s great shit, Candy. Thanks.” He kissed her hand, smiling.

You’re very welcome. I love happy customers.”

We’re going to drape your face now, Mr. Janesek. This will take a little time.”

No worries. I’ll just—grab a nap….” His head lolled and he dozed off.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Feel the Heat ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

first meetingJax Jendrasik is at his younger brother’s bachelor party, held at a local gay bar. While there, a guy named Teddy hits on him and causes trouble when Jax tells him he’s not gay. Rather than getting in a conflict with the bouncer, he offers to leave. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Teddy’s willing to let it drop. Fortunately for Jax, help is handy in the form of a sultry blonde.

Jax gave his brother another hug and headed toward the door. The bouncer silently saw him out. Teddy was waiting on the sidewalk a few feet from the door.

You owe me an apology,” he stated.

The bouncer was still watching.

Jax appealed to him. “He grabbed me and spilled my drink on my pants. Do you believe I owe him an apology?”

Nope.”

Nodding, Jax walked around Teddy. The shorter man, using what seemed to be his signature move, grabbed his arm again. Careful not to raise his fist, or his voice, Jax turned.

Enough. I’m going to say this one last time—not gay. Excuse me.”

He’d taken two steps when he was tackled from behind, going down hard on the pavement. Teddy sat on his ass, screaming at him. Fists hammered ineffectually on his back as his face pressed into the damp pavement. Suddenly, Teddy flew through the air. The bouncer held the scrawny man by the scruff of his neck, toes barely tapping against the sidewalk.

You okay?” Someone else came over, helping him sit up. “DJ, call the cops and an ambulance.”

Sure thing,” the bouncer said.

It took a few seconds for his vision to clear. The person who had helped him sit up, was a woman. A very beautiful woman. She was obviously dressed for a night out, because her red dress clung to her voluptuous frame like it had been painted on. Her hair was done in an exaggerated Eighties style, which entailed a lot of hairspray and glitter. Huge gold, disc shaped earrings dangled from each ear.

You okay?” she repeated, crouching by him.

Dunno. How many of you are there?”

She giggled. “If you see more than two, there’s something wrong.”

I only see one, does that mean I’m okay?”

Then you’re f***ed, cause I’m twins.”

It hurt to laugh, but the cheesy joke had to be acknowledged and appreciated.

You’re going to be all right. An ambulance is coming. Is there anyone we can call?” she asked.

His brother’s inside. I’ll get him,” the bouncer said, still holding Teddy by the collar.

Jax held up a hand, stopping him. “Please don’t. He’s drunk, and he’s a drama queen even when he’s sober. Call my sister.”

He tried to dig his phone from his pocket. It stuck. The woman tugged until she got it for him. He hated to admit, but that got him hotter than he’d been in weeks.

Sister’s name?” She unlocked it per his directions,

Telise. But you’ll find it under T-Rex.”

Okay. Why?” She fiddled with the phone.

You’d have to meet her. I’m Jax.”

Nodding, she put the phone to her ear. “Hi, Telise? I’m a friend of Jax’s. He’s had a little accident at the bar. He’s not badly hurt, but we’ve sent for an ambulance, to take him to the hospital.”

Jax could hear his older sister screech, even though the phone wasn’t on speaker.

What?”

I’m okay!” he said loudly, but it cost him.

The woman put the phone on speaker.

Lorvel Collier Janesek, I’m gonna kill your ass!” Her Southern Bitch showed when she was upset.

Could you hold off on that until after the wedding, or Eduard will rip you to shreds.”

The ambulance screamed to a halt beside them, stopping traffic.

I’ll meet you there. Don’t die.”

Promise. Love ya.”

Yeah. Love ya.” She hung up.

So…your brother is the drama queen?” The woman handed his phone back.

Trust me, he’s worse.” Sighing, he leaned against her.

She held him gently, cradling his head.

What happened here?” the EMT asked as he trotted over.

The bouncer and woman told him. A police car hustled up, stopping behind the ambulance, blue lights flashing. The light hurt Jax’s eyes. Holding up a hand, he squinted. Suddenly, he turned his head away from the woman, and hurled. She didn’t get upset, merely held him as he gagged.

Probably got a concussion,” she said to the EMT.

My thoughts exactly. Okay, my friend, we’re gonna go for a ride. Is your lady friend coming?”

I’ll follow you. Got to have my car to get home.”

You got it.”

They were loading him into the ambulance and he realized he didn’t know her name.

Hey!” he called, waving at her.

Lie back, friend. You can’t get agitated.”

But I don’t know her name! Ask her name!”

Ask her when she gets to the hospital.”

What if she doesn’t come?”

The EMT looked at the woman in red, grinning. “Oh, she’s coming. Trust me. Lie back now, Jax. We’ve got you.”

© Dellani Oakes 2020

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First Meeting from Falling for You ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting imageKrista Blade is home from college for the Veteran’s Day service at the church where her father is pastor. Several military people have joined them, playing musical instruments to accompany the choir. She knows two of them, but the rest she doesn’t. She makes rather an impression on Air Force Lieutenant Coulton Ferris.

Krista excused herself from the knot of sopranos and picked her way across the frosted grass. Her shoes, predictably, slipped on a slick patch. Four men in uniform rushed to her aid. The Air Force lieutenant reached her first. He steadied her, grasping her around the waist when her shoes failed her once more.

He grinned, dark blue eyes twinkling in his handsome, square jawed face. His close cropped hair was so short, it was hard to tell the color, but the shadow on his chin, that no razor could obliterate, was dark.

“Gotcha,” he said with a smirk.

Krista’s blonde hair escaped its confines. She pushed it back, smiling up at him. The men formed a line, handing her off until she stood by her father and the young woman in the Coast Guard uniform. The Air Force lieutenant followed closely, his hand at the small of her back to catch her if she fell again. The young woman standing with her father, laughed as Krista and her lifeline approached.

“Doggone, K., if you aren’t the clumsiest girl on Earth!” Her dark eyes glittered mischievously in her mocha face, her curly hair pulled back in a tight bun. “And what have you got on your feet?”

Krista put a hand on the sturdy airman’s arm and raised a foot. The Coastie whistled, making a disapproving noise at the four inch stilettos.

“Girl, you got a death wish? Don’t I always tell you to wear something you can run in?”

Krista embraced her life long friend. “Trish, you fuss so about everything, I can’t keep track.”

The young women laughed, getting louder as Krista lost her footing again.

“Before you fall, let me introduce my fellow musicians. Holding you up is First Lieutenant Coulton Ferris. Behind him, to your right, is Sergeant Benjamin Ross of the Marines. To his left is Staff Sergeant Mitch Abrams of the Army. And there, about to grab your fanny, is Ensign Torrance Beck.”

“Thanks, Trish. Him I know.” She turned to the man behind her, hugging him close.

Torrance Beck, Trish’s brother, returned her hug. Friends all their lives, they were one another’s first love. That was over now, but a lingering affection remained.

“Good to see you, Tor,” she murmured into his broad chest.

“Thanks for all the cards and boxes,” he said, easing his grip. “They got me and the guys through some tough spots. Especially loved the entertainment box.” He took her hand, explaining to the others. “K. got this huge box and put all kinda dumb stuff in it to make us laugh. Farside cartoons, CD’s with Ron White and Lewis Black, floppy bunny ears—all kinda stuff.” He thought of something in particular that caught his attention, but didn’t say in front of her dad. His expression was enough for the others to know it had been very personal. “Got us some good laughs,” he finished rather lamely.

“We ready to go to the reception?” Her father clapped his hands, rubbing them together.

Agreeing that was a good idea, they headed toward the church. Krista slipped twice before they’d gone ten feet. The third time, Ferris picked her up, carrying her in strong arms across the frozen ground. Laughter followed. Krista buried her face in his chest, giggling at herself.

“Gotta agree with Beck’s assessment of your footwear, Miss Blade. What were you thinking wearing four inch stilettos on a day like this?

“I’m short,” she replied, her answer muffled in his chest. “I wanted people to be able to see me.”

He set her down on the sidewalk, an arm still around her waist.

“Besides,” she turned her foot from side to side so he could see the bright red shoes more closely. “They’re so cute! I couldn’t resist them.”

“They’re cute, all right,” he agreed with an ill concealed sigh. “They’re hot,” he mumbled. “Lil spicy for church?” His remarkable blue eyes met her dark brown ones.

“I’m not always at church,” she answered with a toss of her blonde hair.

He chuckled. “True. Those are more for salsa dancing.” He shimmied, releasing his grip on her for a moment.

Krista lost her balance again, falling against him. He caught her and they toppled off the sidewalk onto the soft, snow covered flowerbed by the sidewalk. The others ran up. Torrance picked up Krista, setting her on her feet, both arms around her. The other men helped Ferris to his feet, pummeling him as they slapped at the snow.

“Damn, Coulton, you’re just as clumsy as she is,” Ross commented.

“My fault,” Krista replied, blushing deeply. “I think I need a shoe change.”

“Ya think? Come on, KB, I’ll see you home and you can put something sensible on your feet.” Trish took her arm, guiding her to the large house next door to the church.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Christmas and a Vampire ~ A Paranormal Romance by Dellani Oakes

Christmas and a Vampire coverThis isn’t a first meeting in the purest sense of the term. In fact, it’s safe to say, it’s probably more like the hundredth. Rafaela DeSantos and Dirk Young aren’t a typical couple. Why? Because he’s a vampire and she’s a vampire hunter. They’ve met many times, and it doesn’t always go well. Rafaela’s job is to kill vampires. Dirk’s job, as he sees it, is to turn more, so she has job security. They shouldn’t fall in love, but by some quirk of fate, they do. They haven’t seen one another for some time, when she stumbles upon his lair.

The hungry orange tendrils leaped higher, igniting the centerpiece—three crucified vampires, each with a stake through the heart. Rafaela De Santos stood back to admire her work. Good lines, perfect symmetry, clearly delineated purpose. It was downright festive with the bright splashes of red everywhere. Icicles hanging from the eaves of the crypt, gave it a holiday flair.

The wood was soaked with a flame accelerating mixture of her own concoction, making the fire extra toasty. With another admiring glance, Rafaela watched the headless bodies crumble to ash as the flames licked at them. The vampire Hunter warmed her cold, bloody hands on the blaze.

“Should have brought marshmallows.”

Satisfied the bodies were completely burned, she added the gunnysack of heads. She left nothing to chance and had never believed in half measures. When she killed a vampire, it stayed dead. None of this ridiculous, humanitarian treatment for Rafaela. That might be all right for some of the younger Hunters, but she was Old School. Stake the vamp, cut off the head, burn ’em up and burn the heads. Cheap, effective—permanent.

Satisfied it was a job well done, she headed back to her car. A rustle in the bushes nearby might have been from a hungry fox following blood scent, but she knew better. Arming her crossbow would take too long, so she faced her opponent with her handgun and specially made bullets.

He strode jauntily out of the bushes, dusting his hands on form fitting, black leather pants, the smile, as always, disarming. His slight over bite emphasized the lengthy canines as his full lips drew back.

“Rafaela, I’d know the scent of your lethal brew anywhere. Still as inflammatory as the last time we met?” He moved forward and to his left.

“I’m nothing if not consistent.” She countered his movement cautiously.

“So true. Did you have to burn them all? I’d just added the girls to my harem. Very tasty bits—AB negative.” He licked full lips.

“I thought I caught your stench on them.”

“There was a time when that stench aroused you, Ella.”

She couldn’t deny it. She had found him charming—once.

“Do you ever stop?”

“Stop what? Loving you? Admiring you? Wanting you?” His voice dropped in pitch with each question.

Suddenly, with the inhuman speed of the undead, he was beside her, hand in her thick, black hair. Her neck stretched to one side as his fangs extended. The prick of a sharp point against his ribs, reminded him that Rafaela was no mere human. Her heightened senses and unique abilities had kept her alive nearly as long as he.

“What made you turn on me, Ella? I thought you loved me.”

“I did. Until—Calais. Somehow, when your lover feasts on your entire family, making you watch helplessly, he loses some of his allure.”

He nodded, having anticipated that response. “Mom sends her regards.”

“Neat trick, since I killed her last month.”

He raised an amused eyebrow. “Really? I had no idea you’d caught up with her.”

“Does it give you some sort of obscene pleasure? You destroyed my life, Dirk.”

“You’re ruining my un-death, Rafaela.” The amusement left him.

“My heart bleeds.”

They stood together, eyeing one another with mixed admiration and lust. It was always like this with Dirk, ever since they met, nearly a century before. Rafaela had the skill and power to kill him. He had the blood lust of a demon, bent on creating chaos from order. They stared at one another a few minutes more before turning away.

“One day, it won’t be so easy, Dirk,” she tossed over her shoulder.

“I know, sweetheart.” He disappeared in a puff of brimstone scented purple smoke, a neat trick he’d learned from Houdini.

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting (Number 2) from Ben Drexel ~ A Lone Wolf Prequel by Dellani Oakes

HeadingSome books, for whatever reason, have more than one first meeting. Ben and Ray have had their memories wiped, and a battery of experimental medical procedures conducted on them. Not that they remember the treatments. False memories of a terrible accident, have replaced the real ones. Deciding they need some recreational time with a couple of willing women, Ray sets up a double date for them.

Lance Corporals Shannon Phillips and Delissa Andrews were waiting for them outside the mess hall. Shannon was tall, willowy and had red hair the shade of an autumn sunset. Her friend Delissa was just as tall and willowy with hair like the sun at noon. Ben wasn’t sure why he compared their hair to the sun, but it seemed appropriate.

Delissa’s blue eyes took in every inch of Ben Drexel, liking what she saw. Raising an eyebrow, she showed her approval. Shannon snuggled up to Ray immediately and Ben got the impression that this wasn’t their first date. He certainly hoped that Delissa would be willing to romp later, because now that he saw and smelled and touched her, he needed her more than ever. He liked to fool himself into thinking that he wanted not just any woman, but her specifically, but he knew that wasn’t true. If another woman had come along and made him the right offer, he’d have gone in a heartbeat.

Delissa smiled, enjoying Ben’s company. Not only was he scorchingly good looking, but he had the physique of a god. His dark hair and eyes with the swarthy complexion made her pulse race. She’d seen some handsome men in her life, but Ben Drexel was above and beyond her usual fare, of late.

As they walked to the movie after dinner, she snuggled close. When the lights went down in the Tri-D theater, she put her hand on his thigh and liked the response she got as she moved her palm upward.

“Tell me, First Sergeant, do you know how to use that heavy weapon you’re toting?”

Ben chuckled, hands finding interesting things to fondle under her clothing. “I’m a crack shot and aim to please,” he replied in a throaty whisper.

“Good….”

After the movie, Ben could hardly wait to get Delissa home. Filled with the same urgency, she didn’t wait to get to her room before undoing his pants. Their clothing seemed to evaporate and Ben was inside her before she realized what was happening. They didn’t make it to the bed the first time, but took her against the wall, pounding so hard, she was afraid the cheap material would buckle with the force. Screaming his name, she clung to him as her body shook with one orgasm after another.

They made love most of the night, only stopping when they were simply too tired to continue. Near dawn, Delissa snuggled against him in her sleep, waking him and his desire once more. Although he was tempted to wake her, he let her sleep, gazing at her pretty face in the half light. Her expression mirrored his own, contentment and complete satisfaction.

© 2020 Dellani Oakes