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I Love Dialogue from How Far is Heaven

doodle banner I love dialogueHal Garrow is a struggling musician. He meets Maeve Tierney quite by accident one day, and they hit it off. Their first date is coffee, followed by sandwiches. This is their second date, at a local restaurant where his ex-girlfriend, Stephanie, works. Stephanie is an unusual woman, very up front, boisterous and just shy of crazy.

Stephanie brought their food a few minutes later. The tray was full and she balanced it like a pro. Maeve couldn’t help noticing and asked how long she’d been working as a waitress.

“Oh, I’ve waited tables since I was a kid,” she answered blithely. “My folks have a restaurant that caters to a very trendy crowd. I used to sing and wait tables, all of us did. I have six siblings,” she explained to Maeve. “Hal met my nutty family last Christmas. Crazy as loons, all of them.”

“But fun,” Hal added, cutting her off before she got too into her tale. “In a totally chaotic fashion.”

Her family was pretty nuts and she could go on about it for a long time. He wanted time with Maeve, minus Stephanie and her lunatic parents and siblings.

“Fun and chaotic,” Stephanie agreed. “And that’s my cue to strut my muscular ass back to the kitchen and not bug you until you’re done eating.” She bent over to whisper to Maeve, giving Hal a great view of her tight ass. “One thing you can say for the man, he’s subtle. See how he gave me the brush off without saying, Steph, go blow? Very classy.” She leaned closer to Maeve’s ear, her stage whisper gauged to carry to Hal’s sharp ears. “He loves it if you lick his neck from his Adam’s apple to his earlobe. He’s totally delicious. Just wait and see.”

“How do you know I haven’t already?” Maeve asked playfully.

“Because if you had, you wouldn’t be sitting on the other side of the table,” Stephanie answered quickly. “You’d be sitting next to him with your hand in his lap, eating quickly so you could get back to bed. In fact, I doubt you’d be here talking to me. You’d be grinding away somewhere, moaning loudly and screaming his name over and over.” She made a few moans and groans, gasping and squeaking playfully, gyrating her hips.

Hal popped her on the ass, jerking his head for her to go back to the kitchen. She leaned over and kissed his cheek.

“Treat her right, baby.”

“I plan to eventually, Steph. Give me time. This is only our second date.”

“I regret only one thing,” she said with a dramatic sigh.

“What’s that?” Maeve couldn’t help interrupting the exchange.

“That the chick I’m dating right now isn’t built like him.”

Running her hand from his shoulder to his belt, she massaged his broad chest, whimpering. With a swish of her apron, she walked back to the kitchen, strutting her stuff for the entire restaurant to appreciate.

Laughing, Maeve almost spewed her coffee as Hal blushed a deep, dark, furious red. He wanted to hide his head, try and pretend she hadn’t said that, but he couldn’t. There was no way to make it go away. He thought about apologizing for Stephanie, but that wasn’t really necessary. She was being blunt and honest. In short, she was being herself, nearly as crazy as her family.

“I’m so sorry to laugh,” Maeve gasped. “But she’s completely horrified you. I can’t help it. I don’t mean to. . . .”

“Laugh at my pain. Gotcha. Although we get along great, she’s my most embarrassing ex,” he admitted. “The others are very tame in comparison.”

“A lioness in heat would be tame in comparison,” Maeve laughed loudly, covering her mouth with her napkin.

“Oh, God. The imagery that conjures up! But true.”

“She’s successfully made me very curious,” Maeve said with a sly wink. “I can only imagine what I’m missing sitting here having a meal instead of being in bed with you.”

“Eventually, perhaps you’ll find out,” he smirked as he took a sip of his drink. “I don’t mind sharing the joy, that’s if you don’t mind that she had me first.”

Maeve giggled, sobering slightly. “I don’t mind. I have no claim on you, Hal. Who you used to sleep with doesn’t matter.”

“You can claim me if you want,” he said softly. “In fact, I’d be flattered.”

“I’d like that,” she smiled. “I’d like that a lot. And the same applies,” she murmured, dropping her head.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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I Love Dialogue from Call Me

doodle banner I love dialogueMoira Crane is an English teacher at the high school. Shortly after her phone is stolen, she finds herself embroiled in a nightmarish reality. She’s been accused of murdering her five close friends, other teachers with whom she worked. Unfortunately, the detective in charge of the case has been dating Moira.

His boss, Lieutenant Ritchie joined Rhys in the hallway. “My office.”

Rhys followed his lieutenant to the large, glassed in room. Ritchie closed the vertical blinds before rounding on his detective.

“You’ll recuse yourself immediately, Detective Fletcher.”

“I can do this, sir. This is my case.”

“Now it’s someone else’s. If you’re in charge, the DA can kiss it goodbye. Chain of evidence is tainted. You don’t want me to remove you. That would get ugly.”

“I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“You’re shtupping the prime suspect in this case.”

“We’re not having sex, sir. And when I asked her out, she was a victim, not a suspect. Her only crime was getting involved with Nestor Montoya. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s behind all this.”

“Why?”

“To get back at Moira for leaving him.”

“You really think he’s that petty?”

“Have you read the jacket on Montoya? He’s fucking crazy. I don’t mean amusingly eccentric like my Great Uncle Boyd who thinks he’s Santa Claus. I’m talking bat-shit crazy—violently so. I have to stay on this, Lieutenant.”

“Make me a good case, Rhys.”

“To protect Moira from Nestor Montoya.”

“Other people work in this department, son,” Ritchie said gently.

“They don’t have my unique background, sir.”

There was a long pause. Rhys stood quietly, waiting. He watched the lieutenant’s face go through emotional jumping jacks.

“A defense lawyer could rip you to shreds based on the kiss and the dancing alone. Any evidence would have to be irrefutable so a judge can’t throw it out.”

“Then we’d better get irrefutable evidence, sir.”

“I’ll let the interview continue. But I withhold the right to jerk a knot in your ass at any time.”

“Yes, sir. I respectfully request that additional security be added to the station.”

“Why?” Ritchie’s eyes narrowed.

“Because I think Montoya is crazy, arrogant and stupid enough to come at us. At least here we can see him coming.”

The lieutenant leaned over the over the desk as he eyed his detective. “Are you telling me what I think you are?”

Fletcher’s chin came up his face guarded. “Depends on what you think—sir.”

“You arrested that girl to protect her. You don’t think she’s guilty, you think Montoya’s after her. Why didn’t you just put her under our protection?”

“I think further interrogation will reveal that, sir.”

“Son, you’re crazier than Mazie. Fine, you talk to her. But if you haven’t noticed, boy, that girl hates your guts.”

“Better that than dead,” Rhys mumbled.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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I Love Dialogue from Call Me

doodle banner I love dialogueDistraught over its loss of her cellphone, (the case held sentimental value) Moira Crane goes to the police station to report the theft. Detective Rhys Fletcher ushers her into his office and it becomes more of a flirtatious conversation than a police interview.

“Sorry for the mess. They’re repairing my usual office. Had a waterpipe burst. So I’m stuck in the file room. They’re in the process of converting to paperless.” He held up a file, pulling a silly, sad-clown face.

Moira smiled. “I thought maybe you were just incredibly busy and awfully disorganized.”

“Me?” Fletcher tossed his hat on a rack near the desk. “Neat as a pin. Ask Sue.” He nodded to the woman outside.

“Don’t listen to him, he’s a slob. They’re all slobs,” the older woman laughed.

“Thanks. Make me look bad in front of the lady.” He invited Moira to take the only chair in the office. He perched on the edge of his desk, one well sculpted thigh slung over the corner.

In the small, windowless room, Moira could smell his cologne. It was dusky, spicy and tingled her nostrils. An uncomfortable warmth filled her. She shifted in the chair.

“I know it’s a little cozy in here. I’m sorry.” He shifted too.

Moira got the strong impression she had the same effect on him that he had on her.

“So, tell me what’s wrong, Miss Crane.”

Moira told him about what had happened in class and her actions afterward. Fletcher nodded, pressing his lips together.

“So, you don’t think any of your students could have done this?”

“Maybe, as a joke. None would do it seriously—at least I hope not.”

“Could it have been taken by mistake?”

Moira shook her head. “I doubt it. My phone case is very distinctive and childish. My ex-boyfriend’s daughter gave it to me for my birthday. She’s five.”

Moira gulped, her eyes watering again. She pulled out a crumpled tissue from the stack Sue had given her, smiling when Fletcher’s handkerchief appeared in front of her. Laughing, she took the handkerchief.

“I’m sorry, I got mascara on it.” She handed it back to him.

Fletcher tossed it aside. “That’s what I pay the maid for.” He smiled down at her. “I can’t guarantee we’ll get the phone back. If it was stolen, it’s probably been sold off by now. But you did the right thing by contacting the phone company.”

“It’s the pictures,” she wailed. “I don’t have copies of them. I know I should have saved them—”

“But you don’t think about that,” he said quietly. “Not with something as precious and spontaneous.”

He sounded so subdued, Moira stared at him. She never tried to read people she’d just met. Sometimes, their emotions were so obvious, she couldn’t help it. The pain radiating off him was intense. He’d lost someone he loved dearly—and the pain was recent. Moira’s fingers brushed his hand before she could stop it. She got a flash of a grave—no, two. One adult sized and one very small one.

“I’m so sorry,” she whispered. “It must be quite awful to lose your family.”

Rhys Fletcher recoiled from her touch, jumping off the edge of the desk. He knocked his lamp to the floor in his attempt to get away. The bulb shattered on the tile floor.

“Who are you? Did he send you?”

“What are you doing in there, Rhys Fletcher?” Sue called from her desk. “If you break another lamp. . . .”

“Sorry. My fault,” Moira called.

Moira stooped to pick up the lamp. Her long, sable hair cascaded over her shoulder. Their eyes met when she stood up. Fletcher’s were dark, penetrating, glaring at her.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I didn’t mean to pry. It’s just—I sense things. I know it sounds all freakish, but when I touched you, I saw graves. Your wife and child?”

“Who are you, Miss Crane?”

“I’m an English teacher at the high school.”

Fletcher sighed, running his hands over his close cropped hair. “I’m sorry, Miss Crane.” He adjusted his shirt sleeves, tugging at the cuffs. “It wasn’t my wife and child. It was my sister and her daughter.” He set the lamp well out of his way and sat on the desk once more. “I apologize. I’m naturally suspicious.”

“You asked if he sent me. No one sent me, Detective Fletcher. I’m here about my phone.”

“Of course. If I haven’t completely blown any chance in hell I had of getting to know you better, would you like to go to dinner?”

Moira’s eyes widened. “What?”

“Dinner.” He eyed her calmly, smiling.

“Like a date?”

“Yes.” He folded his hands in his lap, waiting.

Moira crossed her legs, twitching hair behind her ear. She couldn’t read any deception in his face. He really wanted to ask her out. If the feelings she got from him early on were any indication, he was genuinely interested in her. In fact, she suspected this conversation was brought on less by him being a police officer and more about being a man.

“Are you married?” Her eyes narrowed.

“Sue, am I married?”

The older woman didn’t even look up from what she was typing. “Nope, more’s the pity.”

“Am I dating anyone?” He winked at Moira, knowing that would be her next question.

“There’s not a woman alive who would put up with you long enough.” She smiled up at him. “Is that young whelp asking you out?” she directed at Moira.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Well, he’s not completely untrainable, but you’ll have your hands full. He’s better than most and not as bad as some others. Go for it.” She waved at them. “With my blessing. Now, leave me be. I have work.”

“You have the Sue Seal of Approval,” Fletcher said. “What more can you ask for?”

Moira laughed. “I guess I can’t ask for anything more. Okay, I’d love to have dinner. I need to go home and fix my face.”

“I’ll pick you up at seven.”

“Don’t you need my address for that?”

He picked up her paperwork, grinning as he waved it at her. “I’ve got it right here. All your most intimate details.”

“If you weren’t a cop, that would be a really pervy thing to admit,” Moira said, her lips twitching as she tried to hide a smile.

“Moi?” He pointed to himself with both index fingers. “Not a perverted bone in my body,” he said as he walked her out.

“You’re a man, aren’t you?” Sue said, without looking up. “You’re all perverts.”

“Well. Put that way. . . . At seven?”

“Yes. And thank you, Detective Fletcher.”

He kissed her hand. “Rhys, please. I promise that dinner isn’t part of our usual customer service.”

Giggling, Moira walked out to her car. Fletcher accompanied her,closing her door when she was settled. She turned the key and opened the window.

“I’ll run over your foot if you keep standing there.”

Taking a couple steps back, he put his hands in his pockets, squinting against the sunshine. “See you at seven, Moira.”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Brick

doodle banner I love dialogueI’m all for change and trying new things. That in mind, I decided to share some of my former posts from my other blog, here. I started using I Love Dialogue, Sexy Without the Sex and First Meetings a couple years ago and it’s a lot of fun for me. I choose scenes that I enjoy and share them with my readers. Not all the stories are published, or even finished, but I hope that it will whet your reading appetites. Hungry for more? Check out the buy link below.

Every Thursday, I will share something here, or on one of my other sites (linked back and shared here) for your enjoyment. Today’s scene is from a romantic suspense still in progress. It hasn’t got a title yet, but I’m toying with Spy in the House of Love.

Brick McMillan is back home in Florida for a funeral—his younger brother’s. There have been a lot of deaths in his family lately, his father, his wife and now his brother Stony. However, the night he got home, he was using Stony’s computer and got a mysterious Instant Message from a woman calling herself XYZ. She arranges a meeting with him at the Panera in Daytona.

The morning rush at Panera was tapering off when he ordered his coffee and pastry. Finding a table wasn’t hard. He sat in the main room, over to one side, near the partition. From here, he could see the back door, but not the front. He suspected that XYZ was a backdoor user. As it happened, he was right.

Brick spotted the tall, trim figured woman as soon as she walked in. Her honey colored hair was pulled back in a loose chignon. She scanned the restaurant, dark glasses raised to her forehead with one hand. She wore a slate gray suit and low heeled black shoes. Her jacket was buttoned, but there was a slight bulge under her left arm. She spotted him on her second pass. Brick held up his coffee, saluting her. Frowning, she strutted across the room, taking a seat across from him at the table.

You need to work on your entrance,” he said after taking a sip. “I knew it was you the second you walked in.”

Do you know who I am?”

By name? No. But my guess is you’re a fed, not a cop.” He leaned forward, forearms on the table, the cup between his hands.

Her frown deepened. Her silence demanded an explanation.

You don’t move like a cop. You move like a soldier. In plain clothes, those glasses, shoes you can run in—Fed.”

She flashed a wary smile. Her eyes were a vivid aquamarine. There was a scattering of freckles across her pert nose.

So, this begs the questions—Why is a federal agent so anxious to talk to my bother? And why does she sound so unconvinced that he’s dead?”

Mr. McMillan….”

He held up a finger, waving it at her as if chastising a spoiled child for bad manners. “The way this works, you introduce yourself. Then we chat.”

Call me Agent X.” She grinned and a hint of a twinkle lit up her eyes.

I’d rather not. I quit reading comic books thirty years ago.”

Colleen,” she told him.

No last name. So, like Pink or Seal….”

Something like that.” The smile faded. “Look, Brick, we can tease and flirt all day—”

Is that what this is?” He leaned forward aggressively. “I thought this was you telling me about your relationship with Stony.”

It’s not an affair.”

That much I know. My brother’s not a cheater. I figure it’s business related, but that’s a puzzler. My brother was an engineer.”

She sighed, leaning back. “May we start over?”

Sure.” He wiped his hand on his napkin before holding it out. “Brick McMillan.”

She shook it. Her grip was firm, her palm calloused. She spent a lot of time with that handgun. “Colleen Underwood.”

Federal agent.”

Yes.”

FBI? NSA?”

RNS.”

I don’t know that one—Oh! Rather Not Say,” he chuckled as he translated her acronym. “Gotcha.”

Her lips twitched into a half smile. “Yes, I know your brother. Yes, it’s business related. No, I don’t think he’s dead. If I’m right, he’s gone to ground and will contact me soon. He’s in danger.”

How do you know?”

Because, your brother works for us. He’s a spy.”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books http://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1464388230&sr=8-2

For More About Dellani http://www.dellanioakes.wordpress.com

 

I Love Dialogue! from The Ninja Tattoo

I love dialogue doodle bannerTeague and Vivica meet under odd circumstances—he runs into her with the door at Dunkin’ Donuts. Needless to say, she’s not very happy until he buys her coffee and flirts unashamedly with her. Soon, they start dating and Teague finds out that her life is full of danger, mostly because her older brother is the head of a dangerous biker gang.

Teague was worried. The man sounded mean, hard. The tone of Vivica’s voice still bothered him. Lying in bed, he got a sudden case of the creeps. He made another circuit of the house, peeping out the edge of the drapes in the living room. With the room dark behind him, the moon reflecting off the water, he thought he saw a person lurking in the shadow of the dock. As he watched, a lighter flared, barely illuminating the figure. It was a man with a shaved head. Teague couldn’t see details from his room. He had the impression that the man was solidly built.

The idea of calling the police flickered through his mind, but he dismissed it. Instead, he got dressed in dark jeans and a black T-shirt. He got his survival knife, attaching it to his gun belt. Next, he got his Glock 22 out of the locked cabinet. He had a license to carry a concealed weapon. That went in a holster opposite the knife. As prepared as he could be, he put on his military boots and left the house by the side door that opened off the utility room. It was concealed by an arched trellis covered in bougainvillea and nearly invisible from the street. Chances were, if someone was watching the front, they were also at the back and the door facing the side street. He doubted they knew that this other side door existed. He’d lived in the house nearly a week before noticing it himself. Leaving it unlocked, he eased through the trellis, the thorns on the bougainvillea grabbing at his clothing and uncovered skin.

Ignoring the stinging wounds, he moved like a shadow through the overgrown side yard down to the street. He knew he’d be exposed crossing the street, but the nearest light was almost a block away. There were deep shadows from the thick water oaks that surrounded his house and the one next door.

Becoming part of the night, he took a circuitous route to the dock next to his, coming at the man from the right rear. His knife was out and across the unprotected throat before the other man knew he was there. Left hand held the knife, right clasped his neck in an unyielding hold.

“Who the fuck are you and why are you watching my house?” His voice a menacing whisper.

The man didn’t move, but Teague felt him tense. He was going to try to get away. The knife blade turned slightly, catching the glimmer of moonlight along the razor sharp edge. It was the only part of the knife that shone. The rest of the blade was a dark, matte finish. An assassin’s knife and Teague knew how to use it.

“Give me a reason,” Teague growled.cropped-the-ninja-tattoo-by-dellani-oakes-200.jpg

The man relaxed. “I’ve got friends,” he murmured.

“I’m sure you do. But you’ll be dead before they can take me out. Keep that firmly in mind. Now talk.”

“Doing what I’m told,” he grunted as Teague’s grip on his neck tightened. “I don’t know.”

He hyperventilated as Teague’s forearm put pressure on his windpipe.

“Swear ta God—I don’t—know!” He gasped as he collapsed on the ground. He wasn’t dead, just unconscious.

Teague went through his pockets looking for identification. He had a driver’s license on him. Teague couldn’t see it clearly in the half light, but caught part of the address. He wasn’t a local. Memorizing the face and as much of the name and address as he could, he put it back. He wondered where the other men were. Had they seen him? Doubtful, or he’d be surrounded.

He took his concealed route back across the street, making his way to his neighbor’s yard. He was up and over the high wooden fence in one smooth movement. Landing lightly on the soft turf behind his garage, he took another watcher by surprise. This one had the time to make a faint noise of alarm before Teague knocked him out.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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I Love Dialogue! from Conduct Unbecoming

I love dialogue doodle bannerTeague McMurtry is a loyal friend. So when Aileen calls asking him to look for their friend, Nadeya, he can’t say no. Nadeya taught him everything he knows about survival. She is dangerous and damaged, having seen her fiancé murdered. She’s spent the last few years tracking down the men who killed him, seeking justice—or, at least, vengeance. When a body turns up on the beach, identical to a man Nadeya said she was looking for, suspicion targets her.

Tired of constantly being on the defensive, Teague intends to confront Quartermain and the others at the condo where they are staying. He and Nadeya head up to Daytona and take a room in the same condo. Once she learns Teague’s plans, Nadeya discourages the direct approach. She knows he can take Quartermain, but the other two are far more dangerous. She and Joel think baiting the bad guys is not only inappropriate, it’s crazy with a side of stupid. Still not liking it, Teague tells them he’s going for a walk on the beach.

Joel rose as his cousin walked by. “I’m going too.”

“I won’t do anything crazy!”

“Yeah, well I want to go for a walk too.”

Teague couldn’t think of a good argument against, so he agreed. They walked down the stairs, heading to the beach.

“He’s right down there,” Teague said with a groan. “Within reach!”

“No.”

“But he’s—”

“No! Dammit, Teague. Don’t make me drop you.”

“Like you even could,” was the disgusted reply.

Joel moved quickly, grabbing Teague’s arm. He tugged, spun and dropped, pulling Teague to his knees. Another move bought his cousin to the ground. Stunned, Teague lay on his belly. After a moment, he tapped out and Joel released him.

“You aren’t Superman,” Joel said.

“So, folks keep tellin’ me.” Teague rolled his head and shoulders rubbing his neck with a hand.

“Did I make my point?”

“Yeah. Shut up.”

Joel’s face fell, discouraged that Teague hadn’t really acknowledged his ability to take him down or taken his warning seriously. Teague noticed his cousin’s mute disappointment.

“I’m sorry. This gets to me. I don’t do waiting well.”

Joel clapped his hand on Teague’s shoulder. “Come on, I’ll buy you a beer.”

They went to the cabana by the pool. Taking stools, they ordered their beers and sipped them thoughtfully.

“We’re going at this sideways,” Joel mused. “You can’t go at them balls out with both barrels. They want that.”

“So, what do we do? I hate waiting. I waited on Mac and damn near got us both killed. They picked the time and place and were far stronger than I anticipated.”

“You didn’t know he was the enemy. This time, we know the players. We are at a home field advantage.”

“I’m not running away again. I won’t do that.”conduct unbecoming FINAL FRONT COVER large

“Not saying you should.”

“Then what?”

“Go home. Have a beer. Take your lady to bed.”

“That’s nothing.”

“Exactly.” Joel raised his beer at Teague.

“I don’t get it.”

“Do nothing. Go home. Relax. Let them come to you. No hiding, no running.” He shrugged. “Simple.”

Teague grinned. Taking Joel’s head in both hands, he planted a kiss on his cousin’s brow.

“You’re a genius.” Teague ruffled Joel’s hair.

“Been told that.” He rubbed at his head to smooth his waves back into submission.

“Let’s go home.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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I Love Dialogue! from Under the Western Sky Chapter 9


I love dialogue doodle bannerUnder the Western Sky is a retro-romantic suspense set in Western Nebraska in 1976. Though somewhat under the radar, there is a great deal of racial tension, partially due to the events that happened at Wounded Knee, South Dakota three years prior.

Bobby and his best friend, Danny, are on opposite sides of the racial barrier. Danny is white and his father has been approached by a white supremacist group. His initiation was to injure, possibly kill, Bobby because he’s dating a white girl. They have a terrible fight and Bobby takes his friend down. The police have arrested Danny and he spent the night in jail.

Bobby woke the next morning to the delicious odors of coffee and bacon. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was well after nine. He couldn’t remember a time when he had slept that late on a Sunday. In fact, he couldn’t remember a time he’d slept that late in the last six years.

His body ached from his encounter with Danny. When he examined himself in the mirror, he saw that his old friend had landed a few good punches on his ribs, leaving angry red welts on his back and chest. How could he have done that without Bobby noticing? He hurt all over and was glad he hadn’t spent the night on the lumpy old couch. His back hitched on him when he bent over to pull up his jeans.

Someone knocked on the door as he zipped his pants. Fumbling with his shirt, he invited them in. He was expecting his mother or maybe Maria, but it was Libby. She was dressed in Maria’s shorts, and a T-shirt with big pink rhinestone lips on the front. Her eyes widened when she saw the bruises on his chest.

“Your mom said to wake you for breakfast,” she said shyly, eyes downcast.

“Thanks.” He pulled her gently inside, closing the door. His lips connected with hers, leaving a spark in their wake. “I’m sorry about last night,” he sighed, holding her face in his hands. “I feel like such a bum.” His fingers traced the curve of her cheek and neck tenderly.

“No, it’s my fault. I should’ve known better.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I love you too much for that.”

They kissed a few more moments until Maria called to them from the hallway. “Rise and shine, Babu! Breakfast!” She tapped on the door, whispering. “Put it back in your pants and get out here before Mom has a piglet!”

Bobby jerked the door open in her face, leaning casually against the frame. “It’s where it belongs, Mia. Just getting a good morning kiss.” He smirked, pinching her cheek.

He still didn’t have his shirt on and Maria winced, sucking in a breath as he passed her.

“Did Danny do that?” She pressed her hand gently on his side.

“Yeah.” He flinched away from her fingers as they probed a particularly sensitive spot. “Fuck, Mia, don’t do that!” he said, more loudly than he intended.

“What’s that language I’m hearing in my house?” his mother called from the kitchen.

“Nothing, Mamá! It was a perfect stranger who said that,” Bobby called from the hallway.

“If he was perfect, he wouldn’t use that kind of…” His mother stood in the living room, a pancake turner in one hand, an oven mitt in the other. When she saw Bobby’s chest, she stopped talking. “Oh, Jesus, Maria!” She crossed herself as she approached him.

Babbling in Spanish, she examined him carefully before leading him back to the kitchen. “Jim, Toby, look! See what that brute did to my baby!”

Toby looked him over with a practiced eye. “I don’t think anything’s broken, but we better take you by the hospital to have x-rays.”

“I’m fine.” Bobby tried to pass off the pain. “Just bruised up.” Shrugging into his shirt, he winced as he pulled it down, gasping as the cloth rasped against his bruises.

“That settles it for me,” Toby said in a no-nonsense voice. “I’m taking you.”Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500

“Can I at least eat first? I’m starving.”

Toby frowned, not wanting to agree, but not wanting the kid to be hungry.

“A man either needs food or sex after something like that,” Jim said, without thinking.

Bobby shot him an ugly look, which fortunately his mother missed. “Yeah, well, I’ll take that food now, Mom.”

Jim mouthed, “I’m sorry,” to him, winking at Maria as she stifled a giggle.

“Does it hurt as much as it looks?” Grace asked.

“Pretty much, yeah. Hurts to breathe deep. I don’t even remember him doing that to me. I didn’t feel anything at the time.”

“Yeah, you don’t,” Toby said calmly. “It’s an adrenaline thing. You get so pumped, you don’t realize you’re taking almost as much damage as you’re giving. Though in this case, I think you did more.” He winked at Bobby. “You’ll have to show me that trick. I know black belts who can’t do that.”

“I wish I could. I don’t have a clue. It was like I saw in my mind how it was done, but unless you pulled a gun on me, I don’t think I could repeat it.”

“We’ll figure it out.” Jim almost clapped him on the shoulder, but refrained. “Bruce Lee, ki ya!”

Bobby tried to laugh but it hurt. Instead, he held his ribs, groaning.

“That’s it,” Toby said, before they even sat down. “Link is on his way here. I’m taking you to the hospital.”

“I’ll take him, Toby,” Jim offered. “I think the ladies need you here more than me. As soon as Link arrives, we’ll go.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Under the Western Sky