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Love Takes a Swim Part 44 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai and Paisley are kissing, Cody interrupts them, annoying Kai. Paisley fusses at Kai, saying that Cody is jealous of them. His crass comment that at least Cody isn’t getting laid either, makes her jab him in the ribs.

“Sorry, what did I say?”

“It’s the whole attitude I object to. You’re being a cocky son-of-a-bitch, and I don’t like it.”

“I’m sorry. It’s a guy thing, babe. When there’s a beautiful woman around that one’s laid claim to and another one wants….”

Laid claim? I’m property now? I’m not an object to fight over, Kai! I’m a person!”

“Paisley, I know that! I didn’t mean it that way. Of course you’re not an object.”

He took her gently by the elbows. She tried to jerk away, but he pulled her into an embrace.

“I’m sorry. I screwed up, and I’ve upset you. Forgive me for being a dumb guy, huh? You’re amazing and beautiful. Sometimes I forget what you’ve been through. And I don’t think about what he was like. Please don’t judge me by his standards, cause I swear I’m not like that. I’d never treat you like a possession.”

“What did you mean by laid claim, then?”

Kai sighed, flinging out his arms as he tried to explain. “Not like that. Men get very territorial, especially with women. Those with manners, will respect that this woman, or that, is off limits because there’s a designated interest. If I like you, and I show that I like you, say it, claim you, as it were…. It’s a way of showing how much I care about you. Other guys will back off.”

Paisley gave him a level stare, waiting for more. Kai didn’t have more. He wished he did, but he didn’t.

“Do you understand? It’s like with me. You’ve shown your preference, so other girls should back off, and give you your space.”

“Should?” She raised an unfriendly eyebrow. “Should.” Crossed arms and angry eyes greeted him.

“I have women coming onto me constantly, because of what I do. But once they know I’m attached, most of them back off.”

“But not all?”

“Like guys, there are some girls who don’t take no for an answer…. Babe, why are we arguing? I don’t wanna fight.”

Paisley didn’t know why she was arguing. What he’d said or how he’d said it—something had struck her wrong. She was furious and upset. She wanted to scream and cry. Mostly, she wanted to run away from her chaotic emotions. Suddenly in tears, she ran from him, stumbling over the uneven ground. Kai followed her, calling her name, but she only ran faster. A sprinkler head that hadn’t gone all the way back down, caught her toes as she ran blindly past. Tripping, she went headlong, landing hard on her side. Kai was with her in an instant.

“Paisley! Babe, are you okay? Cody!” he bellowed for his brother.

Gasping and sobbing, Paisley lay on the ground as Kai did an assessment. Cody joined him, then ran back for the first aid kit and wheelchair. Kai’s hands trembled as he checked for broken bones.

His mother joined him, her face full of concern. “Is she okay?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know!” Kai felt unfamiliar panic rising.

“Kai, look at me,” Nina said calmly. “You can do this. You know what you’re doing. Forget it’s Paisley, and check. Deep breath.”

He did what she said and started again. “Nothing’s broken, but she could have some fractures. She’s bruised, got a nasty laceration across her toes…. I can drive her to the hospital.”

“I’ll take her. I need you here. We’ve got people coming. You lead class, and Cody can sit on the tower.”

“Me? I don’t know anything…. Get one of the aerobics instructors….”

“They’ve got their own jobs to do.”

“My notes—are in my bag….” Paisley grimaced in pain as Cody and Kai lifted her into Nina’s car. “The iPod has the music…. I’m sorry. I’m so….”

“So am I. It’s okay.” Kai kissed her gently. “I’ll see you soon.”

He closed the door carefully and his mother pulled out of the parking lot. Paisley’s pale face showed clearly as they drove away. He felt horrible. His actions had made her run. He’d upset her, scared her somehow, that he didn’t quite understand. He’d never had a woman run away like that, and it upset him, too.

Digging through Paisley’s bag, he found her notes and iPod. Cody climbed the tower and Kai took his place on the pool deck, smiling at the group. They gazed up at him with curiosity from the water.

“Paisley had a fall,” he announced. “She’s okay, but Nina took her to the hospital, just to be sure. So I’m gonna be your instructor today.”

Mr. Sims booed playfully, swatting water at him. Kai pretended to glare, pointing at the older man.

“Just for that, you get laps after class, Mister!”

“Yeah, yeah! You’d like to try. Let’s get this class going, buddy. Chop chop!” He chopped the water for added effect.

Kai set up the music and started the warm-up. Class was going well until about halfway through. There was always a small group of people who chatted instead of exercising. There were four women and one man, who flirted with them all. They seemed to think that because it was Kai in charge instead of Paisley, they could talk even more. They got louder and more annoying, to the point where one of the women in the class spoke to them.

“Hey, could you guys keep it down, please? I can’t hear him.”

“Why, you wearing a turtleneck?” The one man in the bunch, who was probably in his sixties, responded.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 43 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai tells Paisley a little bit about Toby, who was a late bloomer. Of course, with a big family, it would be hard to find a woman he wasn’t related to.

“That’s probably what slowed him down.”

“Prolly. I’m happy for him. Makes me kinda jealous.”

“Really? You want children?”

“If Brianna had, had our baby, he’d be going into first grade.”

“It was a boy?”

Kai shrugged, shaking his head. “Never knew. I just kind of thought it was a son. Maybe wishful thinking. Most guys want a boy to pass their name on—teach them all those manly things….”

“What would you teach your son?”

“How to swim,” he said as if that were a given. “How to take care of other people, and how to treat the woman in his life.”

“Did your dad teach you those things?”

“Brad did. He’s a great father. Even if I wasn’t his kid, he always treated me like I was. My dad’s always been around, don’t get me wrong, but it was Brad who raised me. And that was okay. He and my father have always gotten along. His wife’s a nice lady, very cool with it all. I hope to introduce you soon. They’re supposed to be down for the wedding and Christening. He’s kin to Toby, I think I mentioned.”

“Yes, you did.”

“The lines of kinship start to get murky. Then they get muddy, then downright opaque. Someone keeps it all straight. I just call my generation all cousins. The folks mom’s age are aunts and uncles. We’re a pretty casual bunch, it’s mostly first names, so we don’t have to keep careful track.”

“You think your father will like me?”

“No.”

Paisley started to tear up.

“He’ll love you. Don’t worry so much. He and his wife are super awesome.”

“He’s so cute and cuddly,” Paisley said, completely changing the subject. “KD’s so adorable!”

“He is, for sure, one good looking kid.”

They pulled up at his parents’ house. Kai opened her door, helping her out. She slid into his arms, holding him close.

“You were fantastic tonight. You stayed so calm and took care of Epi….”

Kai stopped her words by giving her a kiss. He couldn’t express what he was feeling any other way. He was overwhelmed by his experience, shocked to find that there was a large part of him that desperately wanted a wife and children. He never would have considered it, if it hadn’t been for Paisley’s presence in his life. He didn’t want just any woman for his wife, he wanted her. And he wanted her to be the mother of his children.

Only the fact that this was his mother’s home, and she’d kill him if he had sex with Paisley under her roof, kept him from misbehaving. He and Paisley kissed a long time in the living room, but when he walked her up to her room, he didn’t go any further than a chaste goodnight kiss. He ached with desire, but he had a way to deal with that. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked. He wasn’t sure how much longer it would. He hoped Paisley wouldn’t make him wait as long as Epiphany had made Toby. He didn’t think he had the self-control to last two months.

He put on his party music and got in the shower. He made sure to put on his boxers, because he didn’t want to get stuck naked in bed with her again.

Fortunately, or not, depending on the perspective, Paisley didn’t come in with him. It was just as well. He woke up with the worst erection of his life—to date, and there and been some bad ones, especially in his teen years. A little private party took care of that and he was able to get dressed and get his breakfast without embarrassment.

Kai and Paisley drove to work together. She kept talking about Epiphany and the baby, excited by the new life they’d helped bring into the world. She was so excitable, it was affecting him, making him want her even more. Before going inside, he leaned across the center of the Jeep and kissed her.

“I love you,” he whispered. “So very much. I want to make love to you, make you a woman, give you a son….”

Paisley gazed up at him, touching his lips and cheek with her fingers. “I want that too. I love you, Kai. I didn’t realize until last night how much….”

They kissed a few more minutes until someone pounded on the car hood. It was Cody. He’d seen them pull up and sit there. Not wanting to do his brother’s job, in addition to his own, he came out to take care of it.

“Move your lazy, bony ass, bro! Hiya, Paisley!”

“Trust Cody to spoil the mood,” Kai said with a frown.

“He’s jealous,” Paisley said quietly. “Don’t you think he’d like a girlfriend? Besides, I think he has a little crush….”

“I’ll crush him,” Kai said, glaring after his brother.

“It’s that alpha male thing,” she said with a giggle. “Can’t stand for another man to take an interest.”

“He’s not a man, he’s a kid.”

“He’s as much a man as you. He may not have your experience, but he’s got the same desires and needs you have.”

“Well, at least he’s not getting laid any more than I am,” Kai said with a contented smirk.

Paisley’s punch to the ribs not only took him by surprise, it hurt. Glancing at her, he realized for the first time that she was actually angry with him.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 42 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallEpiphany heads to the hospital with her son. Toby thanks Kai for taking care of his family for him, and tells him a little about his early relationship with Epi.

“Rare. Who knew we’d find two, huh?”

“Paisley seems pretty great. Epi likes her. She’s real shy, doesn’t take to many people.”

“So’s Paisley. With a guy like what’s his asshole, who can blame her?”

“I wonder if Sushi’s made any progress?”

“Ask him when you call to tell him about…. What the hell did you name your son?”

“We had a name all picked out, but we changed it.”

“No kidding? To what?”

“We wanna name him after you.”

“Me? Toby, dude, I didn’t…. Epi did all the work.”

“If you hadn’t taken charge, I’d still be sitting on my ass not knowing she was in labor till she had him on the beach. You totally rocked, dude. We both appreciate it. We want you and Paisley to be godparents. Will you?”

“Toby, man, I don’t know what to say….”

“Say yes, ass wipe.”

They were passing the information desk when he said that. One of the women frowned at him. He grinned, flashing a peace sign. They went to the security doors leading to the labor and delivery floor. Toby showed his bracelet and they opened the door for them.

“Do me a favor,” Kai said to Toby. “If you name him after me, you won’t call him Little Kai or something retarded.”

“Promise. We’ll name him Marcel instead.”

“You won’t either. I won’t let you saddle my godson with a gay assed name like that.”

“We were thinking Kai Drew, call him KD for short. Whatcha think?”

“I’d be honored,” Kai agreed. “Very honored and proud.”

Suddenly, he wanted to cry. Nothing his friends had ever done, touched him like that. He stopped walking, overcome with unfamiliar emotions.

“You okay, man?”

“Yeah.” Kai rubbed his face. “I—yeah.”

“No, really. What’s up? I never saw you look like that before.”

Kai couldn’t speak. Shaking his head, he pressed his lips together, because he felt like he was going to start sobbing any second. Toby’s eyes clouded. He took Kai in a manly embrace, hugging him hard.

“You’re the best guy I know, Kai. Dude, if you start bawling, I’m gonna too. Don’t you dare, make me fking cry!”

“There you are!” His mother stuck her head out the door. “We were just wondering where you were! I love the new name choice! I approve!” She grabbed Kai, kissing his cheek, then pulled her son over with her other arm. She cried unashamedly, holding them both close. “Little Kai is so adorable!”

“We’re gonna call him by his initials, Mom. KD for short.”

“If you call him Little Kai, everyone’s gonna think he’s my kid,” Kai said. “Don’t want to steal Toby’s thunder.” He chuckled, punching his friend.

“As if anyone could mistake that little blond baby for yours! Now that he’s all cleaned up, he’s like a little dandelion! Come see!”

They walked in to find Paisley holding KD. She was smiling and crooning at him as he gazed at her. He was indeed like a dandelion. His golden blond hair stuck up in every direction like he’d gotten a shock of electricity. His eyes were dark blue and slightly crossed.

“Hell of a good looking kid,” Kai said as they transferred KD over to him. “You did good, Epi. He’s perfect.”

“Eight pounds, fourteen ounces,” she said with a grin. “Twenty-three inches long. How did I do that?”

Kai chuckled, touching her cheek tenderly. “Like a pro, babe. You did great. You should be proud of yourself. I’ve seen women deliver babies almost half as big, and not do as well. You’re officially a trooper.”

She beamed at him, touching her son with her fingertips. “Did you ask him?” she said to Toby.

“Sure did. He said yes. You?”

“Paisley wanted to see what Kai said. So, will you?”

“I’d be thrilled to be his godmother. I don’t know what to do….”

“No worries,” Emily said. “You’ll figure it out. After the wedding, we’ll have a Christening.”

“When’s the wedding?” Kai asked.

“After I’m all healed up,” Epi said. “God forbid I should deprive Toby of his love romp.” She giggled, then grasped her abdomen. “Oh, that’s tender when I laugh.”

Toby took her hand, kissing it. “He’s amazing, babe. Thank you. Thanks for my son.”

“Time for us to go,” Emily said almost too loudly.

Kai handed Epi the baby, giving her a kiss on the forehead. Toby gave Paisley a kiss on the cheek, and they left with Toby’s folks. As he drove home, Kai couldn’t help grinning.

“Hard to believe he’s a dad. I never would’ve thought Toby would be the first one of us to reproduce.”

Paisley giggled. “Why?”

“Cause he was such a goob! Didn’t even get laid the first time, until he was a senior. Not that it’s a bad thing. He was a late bloomer. And try finding a woman he’s not related to!”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 41 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallThe party ends abruptly when Epiphany goes into labor. With a little assistance from the ambulance crew, Kai delivers the baby.

“You coming?” Toby asked Kai.

“We’ll drop by, I promise. I got stuff to do here.”

What he meant was they had paperwork to fill out, as well as a hell of a mess to clean up. The towels hadn’t been enough to contain it. Kai didn’t know if they’d ever get the blood out of the couch and suspected they wouldn’t. Not that Toby’s parents cared. They could afford a new couch.

“I can’t believe he was born right here at home!” Toby’s mother said, through joyful tears. She hugged Drew and kissed Kai. “You boys were wonderful! Thank you!”

“Just doing our job,” Drew said. “I think the couch is a gonner,” he said to Toby’s dad.

“No problem. Kai, will you help me take it to the road?” He bagged the cushions in black garbage bags.

“Sure will. Then we’ve got paperwork to do.”

“I got it,” Drew said. “Just need your John Hancock.” He pointed to the spot where Kai needed to sign. Someone had already filled it out.

“Thanks, guys. I wasn’t sure I could do that solo.”

“You’ll do great on your next one. Did good, kid,” Drew assured him.

The others congratulated him, slapping him on the back.

“I love delivering babies. We see so many people in agony at the end of their lives,” Drew said as he prepared to leave. “It’s great to see someone just starting out.”

“You don’t think the cord was a problem, do you?”

“Probably not. Doctor can tell you that. You did just right. You got a knack, kid. A real talent. Good job.”

That compliment meant a lot to Kai. He’d worked with Drew and his team for part of his training, and they knew their stuff. They weren’t expansive with their compliments, nor did they pull any punches when he screwed up. The criticism was always constructive, given in a positive manner, but they never told him he’d done well, unless he deserved it.

“Better head to the hospital now,” Toby’s father said. “Thanks, Kai.” He clapped him on the shoulder. “I’m glad you were here.”

“You’re welcome, Mr. McTeague.”

Toby’s father cuffed him, grinning. “Since when did you start calling me that? I’ve been Dad or Bob since you were seven.”

Kai chuckled, eyes twinkling. “Haven’t seen you in awhile….”

“You’ll always be family, no matter what. So, this is your girlfriend? Fiancée? Wife? We didn’t get a chance to be introduced. I’m Bob McTeague and my wife, Emily.”

“This is my girlfriend, Paisley Saunders,” Kai said. “We just started dating. She teaches at the club.”

“Really? What do you teach?” Emily asked.

She and Paisley talked happily as they cleaned up the towels and sheets from the couch, putting them in the wash. Kai and Bob picked up the couch and carried it to the road for the garbage men to pick up the next day.

“I can’t believe I’m a grandfather,” Bob said proudly. “Hell, I can’t believe my son’s a father! He’s still a kid!”

“He’s almost twenty-three,” Kai pointed out.

“Kid, I was twenty-five before I even got married. My son’s younger than his mother was when she had him. You can’t imagine how weird this is. When they told us Epi was pregnant, I freaked. Not that I was upset about the baby, but because I couldn’t figure out where all those years went. I remember him as a golden haired toddler playing on the beach, like it was yesterday. My son’s a father now. He better be a good one, or I’ll knacker him.”

“He’ll be great. He had a fantastic example.”

Bob gulped, nodding his thanks. “We’d better get ourselves ready to go.” He looked like he was going to cry.

Kai followed him back to the house in silence. The women were ready to go, so they washed their hands and headed in a mini-convoy to the hospital.

Epiphany and the baby were already in their room. Toby stood on the sidewalk having a cigarette. Kai joined him, not because he wanted a smoke, but because his friend needed him. Paisley went up to see Epi and the baby with Toby’s folks.

“So, how you doin’, Dad?” Kai asked his friend.

“Freaking. What if I drop him or something!”

“You’re not gonna drop him. You’re gonna do great. I thought you’d quit that habit.” He took a drag of the cigarette and kept it, stubbing it out on the pavement.

“I did. I bummed one off another dad. Dude, you totally saved the day. I can’t thank you enough for what you did for my family. Jeez, my family—my son—feels totally weird to say that. I’m a father!”

Kai handed him a stick of gum, popping one in his mouth as well. Leading Toby back to the hospital, they talked about how things were progressing with Paisley.

“Still not past first?”

“Got to second, if you count groping on the beach today.”

“Any groping counts, dude. Women of quality are worth waiting for. Epi made me wait almost two months.”

“No kidding? What’d you do?”

“Jacked off a lot. It was murder, but totally worth the wait. I’m her one and only, can you believe? How often do you find a girl our age, who hasn’t been around a lot?”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 40 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai is persuaded to play the guitar and sing, making Epiphany very happy. Paisley is astounded that he can sing so well.

“Thank you,” she said, tears in her eyes. “How did you know I absolutely love that song?”

“Didn’t have a clue. But I do, too. Any requests?”

Epiphany nodded, glancing at Toby. “Could you play Epiphany by Staind?”

“Sure!”

The guitarist was already playing before Kai sat back down. He put his arm around Paisley and started to sing. His voice was sweeter, more mellow than the guy from Staind. By the time he got to the first chorus, all the women were in tears. The guy on rhythm harmonized with him, adding a dimension to the song that Paisley hadn’t realized was missing, until that moment. The harmonica added a haunting accompaniment. By the time they were finished, Epiphany was sobbing, clutching her stomach. Toby held her, talking quietly.

“Damn, I didn’t mean to make you cry!” Kai said, hopping from his seat. “She okay?”

He could see the young woman was in pain. His mind kicked into professional mode, and he squatted by her chair. She took a deep breath, blowing out slowly.

“You in labor?” he asked quietly.

“I don’t know. I might be. I haven’t felt good all day, but I didn’t want to disappoint Toby. He wanted to give me this party….”

“Any bleeding? Water break?”

He went through a list of symptoms while he took her pulse. It was racing. Another pain contorted her features. Less than five minutes apart.

“Party’s over, my friends. I think we’re gonna have a baby.” Kai whipped out his cellphone and walked toward the house in order to get a better signal.

The nearest hospital was 20 minutes away. The nearest fire station was five. He wasn’t sure Epiphany could wait 20 minutes, plus the ride. He didn’t really want to transport her himself, so he called the professionals. Not that he wasn’t, but he’d never delivered a baby solo, and he didn’t really want to start tonight—not when he’d been drinking. Grant you, it was only one beer, but this was his friend’s baby. God forbid anything went wrong.

The call placed, he went back to Epiphany’s side. “Can you walk, hon?”

She shook her head. Kai and Toby carried her back to the house. She had three more contractions by the time they got her there. Toby’s mother got towels and they laid her on the couch. It was a good thing they’d covered it because her water broke a few seconds later.

Fortunately, right after that, the paramedics arrived. Kai went out to greet them, giving them his report.

“You think she’s gonna have it now?” the lead paramedic, Drew said.

He heard Epiphany scream inside.

“Get these people out of here,” he told the others. “Show me,” he told Kai.

Toby’s parents had already started clearing people off the beach, ushering them around the outside of the house. They went quickly, excited at the prospect that the baby was coming as planned. They didn’t mind that the party was over, they were too happy for the new parents. Soon, they were gone.

Paisley wasn’t sure what to do. She wasn’t part of the family, nor was she a friend, but Epiphany insisted on holding her hand, whenever she had a contraction. Toby supported her back as she pushed and Kai coached her, keeping her calm. Toby’s parents stood side by side, out of the way, watching as their grandson was born.

Drew talked to Epi, telling her what to do, assuring her she was doing a great job.

“Glove up,” he told Kai.

“Huh?”

“Hurry. You wanna catch or not?”

“Me?”

“Shut up, kid, and get your ass over here.” Drew laughed at Kai’s stunned expression. “Paying attention to what I’ve been doing?”

“Yes, sir.”

Kai washed his hands with betadine, and put on gloves quickly, taking Drew’s position. He was a little embarrassed seeing so much of Toby’s fiancée, but she was past caring. Drew took his place by Epi’s side, as Kai told her when to push.

“You’re doing great, Epi. Give me another, sweetheart.”

Screaming loudly, she pushed hard.

“He’s crowned. Give me good one.”

Roaring with effort, she pushed hard and the baby’s shoulders popped out. It was then Kai saw the cord around the baby’s neck. He slipped it over the head, moving it out of the way quickly. The little one struggled, gasping. At least his face wasn’t blue, he was a nice, healthy pink, under all the muck. Drew nodded, his expression serene.

“Give me another good push, darlin’ and we’ll have us a baby!”

Epiphany clutched Toby’s shirt, pulling his chest hairs. Her other hand crushed Paisley’s fingers. Taking a deep breath, she waited for the next contraction, bellowing as she pushed. The baby popped out, landing in Kai’s hands.

“Congratulations, it’s a boy!” He laid the baby on Epiphany’s abdomen.

Kai tied off the cord and had Toby cut it while Drew took care of the afterbirth. Paisley watched as the baby was wrapped in warm blankets, and they prepared Epiphany for transport. The ambulance backed up to the door and she was put on a gurney. The new family were loaded in the ambulance and headed to the hospital.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 39 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallAt the party, Kai and Paisley find out that Epiphany, Toby’s fiancee, is pregnant with their first child. The baby is due that day, but hasn’t put in his appearance yet.

“Yeah. Who’d have thought I’d be a dad and getting married? I mean, it’s strange. I still feel like a kid, you know? But I can’t even imagine being without her.” He rubbed his nose with the back of his hand, turning away from Kai. “Sorry. I sound like a chick flick.”

Kai chuckled, punching him. “Odd as it sounds, dude, I know how you feel. Been feeling that way myself, the last few days. I know we just met, but…. I dunno. I can’t explain it.”

“Been there. So, progress?”

Toby didn’t have to be anymore specific. Kai knew what he meant. He shook his head.

“Got some things to work through. Old fears….”

“That, and she’s a virgin.”

“You knew that?”

“Bro, I’ve got like a gabillion girl cousins. Plus sisters…. I know the signs. I also know when they give it up. Something about them changes. And I knew Epi was pregnant, even before she did.”

“You can do all that? Seriously?”

“Thought everyone could.” Toby shrugged, taking a sip of his beer.

“I think that’s strictly you, bro. Most men are totally clueless.”

Toby chuckled. “Didn’t say I have a fking clue about jack shit else. Good to have you back, blood. I missed you.” He clapped Kai on the shoulder, and moved off to join Epiphany and Paisley.

Kai drifted after him, catching up with Paisley. His arm went around her waist, putting his hand in the front pocket of her jeans. She leaned against him without turning around.

“How’d you know it was me?”

“Cause no one else smells like you. Or feels like you….”

“That’s good, I hope.”

“You smell like fresh air, sunshine, and warm ocean breezes.”

“Damn, I’m good. I thought I smelled like sunscreen and chlorine.”

She nudged him with her elbow. “No. What I said.” She turned to face him. “I feel so welcome here. It’s like I just came home.” She blinked rapidly, fighting tears. “How did I get so lucky?”

“Been asking myself the same thing, since I met you.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

He kissed her neck, nibbling at the curve of her shoulder. His body responded to her nearness, so he backed up a step, giving himself a little room. Instead of staying put, Paisley backed into him, pushing closer.

“Don’t be ashamed of that,” she spoke under the music so only he could hear. “Because I’m not. I’m flattered.”

Kai chuckled, mouth near her ear. “Good to know it’s got an additional purpose. Never knew it could be flattering.”

“It’s because you’re interested. He never got like that, unless he was hurting me.”

“What a bastard. I assure you, I get wood, last thing I wanna do is hurt you.”

Paisley giggled, bumping him with her rear end. He grabbed her hips, holding her still.

“Please don’t do that. Or I’m gonna embarrass us both, by jizzing myself.”

She took half a step away. “Sorry. Is it weird for me to say, I like how it feels?” She blushed, embarrassed by her admission, but unable to stop herself.

“Not weird. Exciting. Come on, they’re heading down.” He grabbed a cooler and followed the rest to the beach.

Toby led Epiphany down, holding her carefully around the waist. She waddled through the sand, taking a seat on a beach chair. There was a huge bonfire burning on the beach. People were seated around it making s’mores and drinking beer. Kai and Paisley found a spot to sit and each grabbed a beer from the cooler Kai was carrying.

Someone handed them each a s’more and they fed bites to one another, laughing at the gooey mess they made of one another. A couple people pulled out guitars, and someone else had a harmonica. Another guy had bongo drums. Their improvised band started playing and everyone sang Happy Birthday to Epiphany.

After the laughter and applause died down, they started to play again. This time, it was Fall to Pieces by Velvet Revolver.

“Kai, sing!” Toby encouraged. “Nobody sings it like you. Come on!”

“Forgot the words to this one,” he mumbled, not wanting to sing in front of everyone.

“Play him something else,” Toby insisted. “Dude, you’re gonna sing something for the mother of my son, or I’m gonna roast your nuts over an open fire.”

Sighing dramatically, Kai leaned over to one of the guitarists and murmured something. Nodding, he spoke to his band mates and they played an upbeat song. After the short introduction, Kai started to sing. Amazing by One Eskimo.

His voice caressed the words, soaring and wailing on the high notes. Paisley shivered as she listened to him, loving the texture of his voice. Like warm velvet, it wrapped around her. Soon, the others joined Kai on the chorus, harmonizing. One guitar improvised a solo and the harmonica player added an interesting counterpoint while the guitarist played a modified bass line. One of the guys beat on a cooler for the drums. The effect was magical. When they finished, there was a moment of silence, then the applause and cheers started. Epiphany coaxed Kai over, giving him a kiss.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 38 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallTempest, Kai’s younger sister, gets annoyed because her brothers won’t let her talk to the boys.

“How am I supposed to have any kind of social life, if you and Cody keep acting like total twatwaffles?”

“Where’d you hear that word?”

Tempest rolled her eyes. “Like you don’t know. You say it all the time, so does Cody. And that’s how you act. You’re like Hitler in baggies! I’m never gonna have a boyfriend!” She ran to the bathroom, sobbing.

Paisley followed her. Tapping at the door, she convinced Tempest to let her in.

“He’s ruining my life, you know.”

“No, he’s not.” She handed Tempest some paper towels to blow her nose and wipe her face. “He’s doing what he thinks is right. Men know how other men think. Most of them are motivated by having sex as much as possible, with as many different women as they can get.”

“Does that include my brothers?”

Paisley giggled, nodding. “Yes, I’m pretty sure it does.”

“He hasn’t made it with you, yet.”

“Because men like your brother are rare. They let the woman set the pace and wait. Maybe impatiently, but they don’t push too much. Eventually, that’s rewarded.”

“Why hasn’t he been rewarded yet?”

Paisley told her about Ralph. She went into more detail with Tempest than she ever had with Kai.

“Why are you telling me this, Pais?”

“You need to know that some men—not all or even most—are predators. They take what they want, and don’t care how a woman feels about it. He thought I was his possession. No other guys would ask me out, once Ralph decided he wanted me. I had to get away from him before he killed me.”

“Kai would never treat you like that.”

“No, he wouldn’t. And he takes his job as your brother very seriously. He loves you, and wants to protect you.”

“But he drives all the guys away!”

“I guarantee—one day, there’s gonna be a guy who wants to be with you so badly, nothing Kai and Cody do, is going to keep him away. And when that day happens, you’ll know that he really cares.”

“He could just be after sex.”

“I’m told that no pussy’s worth dying for—I have that on good authority.”

Tempest giggled, nudging her. “Meaning my brother, right?”

“Exactly. So, when he gets like that, just know he’s got your best interests at heart. He’s a good man, one of the best, like your dad. And I’m really lucky to have him.”

“So, when is he gonna get his reward?” Tempest gave her a penetrating stare, her dark eyes very much like Kai’s.

Paisley’s lips twitched. “Not sure yet—but soon…. Very soon.”

They spent the rest of the day at the beach, then went home for supper with his family. It was nearly dark when they pulled up at Toby’s parents’ home. The sprawling two story house fronted right on the beach. They walked in without knocking, the front door unlocked. The house was full of people, all of them headed to the back door. Music played loudly and everyone shouted over it, laughing and joking.

Toby, and an attractive blonde, stood in the kitchen ushering people through to the deck and down to the beach. Not only was she very pretty, Kai noticed, she was also very pregnant. If he didn’t miss his guess, she was due literally any minute. With a tiny flush of jealously, he took Toby’s hand, shaking it hard. Then he was introduced to Epiphany. He thought it was an odd name for a woman, until she explained.

“My dad was a priest. My mom was studying to become a nun. They met, and fell in love, almost immediately. After a crisis of faith, they both left the order.”

“So, their epiphany led to you?” Kai’s eyes twinkled.

She giggled, holding her stomach. “Something like that. Oh, he kicked!” Her blue eyes glittered, her face glowing as she pressed Toby’s hand to her belly.

“He kicked again!” Toby leaned over, mouth near her naval. “Hey, buddy, it’s Daddy. Give Mommy some space, huh? It’s her birthday.”

“When’s the baby due?” Paisley asked quietly.

“He was due today,” Epiphany said with a sigh. “But he’s a little late. It’s okay. Maybe tomorrow.”

“Still got a few hours,” Kai said, glancing at his watch. “If he comes fast.”

“Not during the party, huh?” Toby said. “Mommy needs her birthday celebration.”

“So, fatherhood?” Kai said.

The women circulated. Epiphany, who’d taken a real shine to Paisley, introduced her to everyone. They laughed and giggled, Paisley’s face glowing almost as much as Epiphany’s.

“Kinda weird to think of my friends being parents.”

“Weird for me too, but I’m so excited. My folks love her. We’re gonna get married once the baby’s born. She didn’t want to get married before.”

“Why not?”

“She didn’t want to feel like I married her just because of him. Like I’d ever do that. But—you know. Women. Not logical.”

“Emotional, is the word you’re after.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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