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Love Takes a Swim by Dellani Oakes is Over

Love Takes a Swim cover small

Love Takes a Swim is over, and I’m a little sad. I’m delighted that Kai and Paisley got together. In fact, I feature them in several other books (not all are published). However, they briefly appear in Conduct Unbecoming, which is available at Amazon, Smashwords, and other e-book sites.

Usually, at this time, I would suggest some other books that I can share. So far, the track record for that is really bad, so I’m going to make an executive decision. I will be sharing something quite different from my usual stories. I’m still not sure what prompted me to write this, but it was a story which wanted to be told.

Brand New Day is unique in the way it presented itself. It begins in the year 2000, in Lubbock, Texas. However, much of the story is told in the main character’s past, leading her to this moment. Below is an excerpt from Part 1, which will begin on Sunday, July 19.

Thank you for the love and support! Dellani

Brand New Day cover

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Brand New Day

Lubbock, Texas. 2000

Janet May Yarkowsky lay in bed shivering from withdrawal. Whatever Tex had given her was making her crazy. She had a vague memory of events the night before. The only thing outstanding in her mind was that she’d stood there placidly as he’d threatened to kill her eldest son.

How could I do that? How could I let him threaten Danny? What if next time he didn’t just wave the gun around? What if, somehow, he finds out the truth? That Danny isn’t his. What then?

Another fit of shakes gripped her body as she huddled under the tangled covers. She had to fix this. Had to stop Tex before his hatred and drug augmented paranoia drove him to kill.

She knew Danny wouldn’t leave her like this, not forever. He left her last night because she’d been crazy, too. Standing, frozen, on the porch, staring like a zombie while Tex threatened her boys with a sawed off. Danny did the only thing he could. He took Ricky away. He called his aunt and uncle and they picked the boys up, carrying them to safety.

How did I let it get like this? She asked the wall, but it had no answer. I loved him once, didn’t I? Danny, what would you do if you knew Tex wasn’t your daddy? Would you kill him? Beat the hell out of him like he richly deserves?

She couldn’t tell him and prayed he wouldn’t find out on his own. Another man had her first. A man she loved more than her own life. But it wasn’t meant to be.

“If only….” She whispered to the four walls. “If only….”

Scottsbluff, Nebraska. August 1975

“Janet May, get your lazy butt outta that bed. NOW!”

Sookie, her baby sister, turned on the lights and threw back the covers. Janet had ducked under to get away from the blazing lights. Sookie yanked her hair trying to get the blankets off.

“Mama said get up outta that bed now!” Sookie did everything Mama said. Frequently, that was torturing Janet. “Get up now!”

“Sookie Ann, you leave me be! I still got five minutes.”

“Mama said….”

“Mama didn’t say to scream like a banshee and be a unholy terror.”

“First day of school!” Sookie yelled. “Its the FIRST DAY!”

“I know that!” Janet bellowed, sitting up in bed. “I’m awake, blast it. Leave me be.”

She threw her pillow for emphasis, clipping Sookie on the rear end. Her little sister howled like she was being killed.

“Mama!” Sookie wailed.

Their mother stormed in, on Sookie’s side—as usual.

“I hit her with a pillow,” Janet said before her mother yelled. “She turned on the light, yanked my hair, and nearly snatched me bald. Jerked back the covers like I can’t get up on my own.” Her alarm clock went off. “See? I was gonna give myself five whole minutes. I swear, Mama, y’all treat me like like a baby!”

Janet stormed out of the room and headed to the bathroom for a shower. It was hot and muggy. She wanted to be fresh her first day. She wasn’t in three minutes, hadn’t even soaped her hair, when Sookie banged on the door, yelling.

“Mama says—get out!”

“I will when I’m done!”

“Mama said now!”

“Mama can come her own self and tell me. Go away, Sookie.”

“Janet May!”

“Sookie Ann, swear to God!” She cut off the water.

Dripping and furious, she flung open the door. Sookie stood there looking smug, arms crossed over her flat, ten year old chest.

Janet shoved past her, walking toward the kitchen. “Did you send that little brat to get me?” she demanded of her mother.

“You got to catch the bus….”

“Mama, I know how to get ready. I’m fifteen.”

“First day of high school, I want to see you off.”

“I’m not a baby like Sookie! I been taking care of both of us forever!”

“There’s no need to talk to me like that.”

“There is a need! There’s been a need since Daddy left. But I was too young to know. It’s not my fault he’s gone.”

Her mother stiffened. “You saying it’s mine?”

“You’re the one he argued with, not me. Daddy loved me.”

“He loved you so much he left?”

“He told me—before he left. He told me—Girls belong with their mamas or he’d take me. He told me he loved me and he was sorry, but he had to get away.”

“So, then he just left you, huh? All alone with your mean old mama?” The tone of her voice stung more than her words.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim Part 74 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallPaisley asks to speak to TJ and JT’s mom about the abuse. They come over the next day.

Mrs. Cooper’s furtive glance told Paisley all she needed to know.

“Who did you tell?” she asked her sons.

“Me,” Cody said. “You think I didn’t know all this time? But I didn’t say anything until now, because Paisley said you needed help getting away.”

“We’re prepared to give you that help,” Brad said. “We’ll find you a safe place to stay, and get his sorry ass thrown in jail.”

“I can’t do that! I can’t send him to prison!” Mrs. Cooper protested.

Paisley took her hands. “He can’t hold any power over you, unless you let him,” she said. “I stood up to Ralph, when he had a gun on me. He threatened to kill Kai and his family, too. But we took care of him together. You can, too, Mrs. Cooper. Just say the word and we’ll make it happen.”

Mrs. Cooper looked at her boys. “Is this what you want?”

“Mom, he’s got to stop. He won’t, unless we do something. He’s damn near killed you more than once. We’ve all taken the heat. It needs to end,” JT said.

“Okay,” she said quietly. “It ends today.”

Paisley called Officer Warren, who arrived a short time later. She picked up the boys and their mother, taking them to a safe shelter in Daytona, where they would be protected and hidden from Mr. Cooper.

“Can they arrest him?” Paisley wanted to know.

“All we have to do is look at medical records and police reports,” Officer Warren said. “I’m making this my personal project. Don’t worry.”

When the Cooper family had gone, Brad shut the door. Turning slowly, he wiped tears from his cheeks.

“I have never been prouder of this family,” he said. “We all learned something about courage from Paisley, and we did what was right.”

They converged on him, hugging in a big group, crying and laughing together.

Paisley sighed, holding Kai as she buried her face in his shirt. He let go of Tempest, who was to his other side, devoting both arms to her.

“I haven’t felt like this since my parents died. Thank you all for making me feel so safe! I feel like I’ve come home.”

“You are home, babe,” Kai said, kissing her damp cheeks. “You don’t have to be afraid of anything ever again.” He pulled her close, giving her a passionate kiss. His phone rang. Cursing, he looked at it, afraid it was work.

“Oh, it’s Brill!” he answered quickly, holding Paisley’s hand, as they walked to the couch. “Hiya! How are the guys?”

“Doing well. Doc says you saved Clevon’s life. I wanna thank you for that, man. He’s a good friend. Has him a little girl about my son’s age. Is Paisley okay?”

“She’s great. Wanna talk to her?”

“Sure do!”

Kai handed her the phone. She took it with a smile.

“Hi, Brill!”

“Hey, baby. Lianna sends her love. She wanted me to make sure you’re okay. Did that bastard hurt you?”

“I’m fine. Ralph banged us up a little, but it’s not serious. I’m glad the guys are okay. Thank you all for taking such good care of me.”

“You’re welcome, Little Bit. Can’t have our official cookie baker hurt, can we? I wanted you to know I have some friends up at the jail, who will make it their business to keep an eye on Ralph. Maybe make him fall down some. That okay with you?”

Paisley struggled to hold back the tears. “Would it make me a horrible person, if I said yes?”

“No, Little Bit, it would make you human. Karma’s a bitch, baby. And she don’t like rich assholes, who beat up on pretty, little girls.”

“Brill, if I didn’t love Kai so much, I’d kiss you!”

“I believe that’s about the sweetest thing anyone ever said to me,” he replied with a chuckle. “Tell you what, you just kiss him that much more, okay?”

“I can do that. Love to Lianna and Slick.”

“Take care, Paisley.”

They hung up.

Kai, who had overheard Brill’s side of the conversation, was grinning. “I’ll take those kisses now,” he told her.

Paisley was happy to comply.

“Well, I don’t know about the rest of you,” Brad said. “But I’m starving. I’m ordering pizza. Speak now, or don’t get your favorite toppings.”

They all clamored loudly, telling him what they wanted. Laughing, he placed the order. When the food arrived, they nearly gorged themselves before doing a quick clean up. All of them headed to bed early.

Kai felt weird about making love to Paisley in his parents’ house, even if he had his mother’s tacit permission. It made Paisley uncomfortable, too, so they contented themselves with kissing and snuggling.

“My door should be fixed tomorrow,” Paisley said. “Then we can go to my place.”

“I can’t wait,” Kai said. “But it’s easier just knowing that we can be together anytime we want.”

“You could move in, you know,” Paisley said casually. “If you want.”

“What do you think?” Kai nuzzled her neck.

“I think that’s a yes.”

“That’s a yes.”

THE END

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 73 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallWhen Kai and Paisley get back to his home, Ralph is there. Fortunately, a police officer had seen them home, and is able to respond.

Officer Warren moved forward, weapon trained on Ralph. “Cuff him,” she told Kai.

Paisley stepped on Ralph’s weapon until his hands were cuffed behind him. Warren moved forward, her weapon in the holster. She took Ralph by the elbow and perp walked him to her car as she read him his rights. When he was stowed in her car, she came back in the house, picked up and emptied Ralph’s gun before bagging it.

Sergeant O’Neill walked in a few minutes later. Kai had cut Cody loose and was checking his family for wounds.

“Where are Brad and Tempy?” he asked.

“She was spending the night with a friend, but didn’t feel well. Dad went to pick her up. He should be home any second.”

There was commotion in the front yard. Kai went to see what the problem was. Brad ran up to the house. Tempty followed, face white with fear.

“What the hell’s going on?”

“That’s what I want to know,” Sergeant O’Neill said. “You’re Mr. Burke?”

“Yes. Where’s my wife?”

It took quite a while to explain what had happened to everyone’s satisfaction. Brad and Sergeant O’Neill kept asking questions. Kai could hardly get out a full sentence without one of them interrupting. Finally fed up, he made a time out sign with his hands, whistling sharply.

“Enough! Stop talking, and let me tell this in my own way. Then I’ll answer questions. Just shut up!”

Seeing he was frustrated, they were quiet. Kai went step by step through the evening, editing what he and Paisley had been doing just before the break-in.

“But it couldn’t have been Ralph at my place,” Paisley said. “It had to have been someone else.”

“Obviously,” Kai agreed. “Did you find the person who tried to break into Paisley’s place?”

“Yes,” Sergeant O’Neill said. “We tracked him to the ballpark by the elementary school. He had a car stashed down the street, but he got up in there where the road doesn’t go all the way through. When we caught up with him, he was circling the baseball field trying to find another way through.”

Kai couldn’t help laughing, though his family and Paisley didn’t join in. Sergeant O’Neill smirked. She thought it was funny, too, but didn’t laugh out loud.

“So, it’s over?” Paisley said. “Ralph’s caught and his buddy is caught. Am I safe now?”

“I believe so,” Sergeant O’Neill replied. “Ralph may have friends in high places in Tennessee, but he doesn’t down here. We’ll put him away, where he can’t get out for a very long time.”

“I think he killed his father,” Paisley said after the police had gone. “Do you think they’ll be able to figure that out?”

“I expect that once his cop friends up home, find out that he’s behind bars, they will scurry to cover their tracks. Our department has enough on him to keep him locked up a very long time.”

They talked a little while longer, but Brad finally commanded them all to go to bed. Aside from some bumps and bruises, no one was injured enough to require medical attention. They headed to their rooms. Paisley hesitated between Kai’s room and the guest room, but he opened his door, inviting her in.

“I guess I should explain,” he told his surprised parents.

“Your relationship has progressed,” Nina said with a soft sigh. She smiled, touching their cheeks. “I could tell.” She kissed them both on the cheek. “I’m so happy for you. Do me a favor,” she said to Kai. “Don’t get her pregnant until after Randi and Deanna come back.”

Kai laughed, hugging his mother. “I’ll try.”

“And keep it down,” she whispered. “No need to disturb your brother and sister.”

“I love you, Mom,” Kai said.

Paisley and Kai got ready for bed and cuddled up in the middle of the bed. Neither of them felt much like making love, they just wanted to hold one another close.

“Do you think Ottis and Clevon are okay?”

“I’ll call Brill tomorrow, and check up on them.”

“I wonder who it was that hurt them.”

“Does it matter? He’s locked up, too. You don’t have to worry about Ralph, ever again.”

“Thank you for protecting me.” Paisley snuggled closer, her head on Kai’s chest.

“Are you kidding? You protected the rest of us! You stood up to him like a boss. I was scared shitless and proud as hell. He has no power over you anymore, Paisley. You did that all by yourself.”

“I sure did. Tomorrow, I want to talk to JT and TJ’s mom. She needs to know what happened here, don’t you think?”

“I do. We’ll make it happen.”

The next day, they all got up around 11:00. Nina extended the invitation to JT and TJ’s mother. She came over with her boys, puzzled by the call. She and Nina had never been particularly close, although they had known one another for years.

Kai introduced Paisley, who explained her experiences with Ralph.

“I don’t know why you’re telling me this,” Mrs. Cooper said, rather evasively.

“Because, I know that you’ve had similar experiences,” Paisley replied.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 72 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallBrill’s men get hurt while watching the apartment. Fortunately, they both live. The police corner someone not far away.

Paisley dashed to her room. Kai wasn’t sure whether to follow her or stay with the officer. He decided that Paisley could pack on her own and cleaned up the coffee things. A couple of Brill’s men approached the cordoned off area. Kai identified them as friends. Officer Warren allowed them in.

“We have some things to close up the door,” one of the men said. “The super said he’d get a new door on tomorrow.”

“Thanks for that,” Kai said. “I had no idea who to call.”

“He’s known to us,” the man said with a smirk, leaving them to draw their own conclusions.

Paisley came back with her bag, trembling. Kai held her close, nearly carrying her to the Jeep. Accompanied by Officer Warren, they went to his mother’s house. All was silent and dark, though the outside lights came on when they pulled up in the driveway.

“Would you like me to come in with you?” Warren asked.

“No, we’ll be fine here,” Kai replied. “We don’t want to wake the family.”

“I’ll wait out here until you get inside,” Warren promised. “I can’t stay, but I’ll be sure to have the officer on patrol swing by from time to time.”

“Thank you.” Paisley hugged her.

Kai shook her hand. He unlocked the house, opening the door. The alarm didn’t beep, which was strange. His mother was fanatic about setting the alarm. He stepped inside, turning on the light. The first thing he saw was Cody’s bruised face. The next thing that greeted him was Ralph, holding a gun to his mother’s head.

Paisley screamed. Kai pushed her back out the door, but Ralph aimed the weapon at him.

“Bring her in,” he commanded. “Or Mommy Dearest catches a bullet.”

“Where are Tempy and Brad?” Kai asked Cody.

“Not here,” Cody said calmly.

“You okay?” Kai asked, giving his brother a cursory, visual check as he stepped forward.

“Had worse,” Cody replied.

“Close the door,” Ralph said.

Kai kept Paisley behind him. He stepped out of the doorway and slammed the door loudly. Paisley squeaked with fear. She clung to Kai, terrified.

“Come here, you bitch,” Ralph commanded.

Paisley cowered behind Kai.

“Come here, or this nice lady’s gonna be missing something important—like her brain,” Ralph bellowed. “Now!”

Shivering, Paisley stepped from behind Kai. “So, you finally caught up with me. Took you longer than I thought. I guess Daddy’s connections can’t do everything.”

My connections now. Dad passed in a tragic accident.” Ralph snorted. “You didn’t really think you could get away from me, did you? When I own someone, I own them until death do us part. And I figure, for you, that’s about five more minutes.”

“What’s wrong with you?” Paisley screamed, dashing across the living room. “Why do you have to torment me? What did I ever do to deserve this?”

Ralph stared at her, unsure how to react. He pressed the gun against Nina’s throat. She stiffened, shaking with suppressed rage.

“I love you, Paisley. I’ve always loved you,” he explained, as if it were the most logical thing in the world. “I keep the things I love close to me. I protect them.”

“You don’t love me. You abused me. Held me prisoner. You tried to kill me, you freak! You killed my parents. You took everything away from me! You’re sick, Ralph. I don’t know where you went wrong, but you are in so many ways. And now, what are you going to do? Take these people away from me, too?”

“I want to keep you safe. I love you. Now, come over here and kiss me.”

“No! Not anymore. I’m not your plaything anymore!”

“But you’re pure and fragile, don’t you understand? I had to protect you and keep you pure. I couldn’t let the world touch you. I couldn’t let other men near you because they would spoil your purity. They’d want to take it from you.”

“You tried to take it from me, you sick bastard! You tried to rape me!”

“No. No! I wanted your purity. I wanted to share it with you. So you could make me pure again.”

“You’re sick, Ralph. That’s not how it works.”

“Not another step, cowboy,” Ralph said to Kai, who had eased a few steps closer to Cody. He focused on Kai, then cut his eyes at Paisley. “He stole your purity, didn’t he! He sullied you!”

The gun swiveled to aim at Kai. Instead of stopping, Kai moved closer to Cody, hands away from his sides, palms facing Ralph.

“It’s too late, buddy. She’s mine now. She gave me what she never gave to you. Paisley’s mine, body and soul. You can’t have her purity, because I took it away.”

Ralph’s hand trembled and his finger tightened on the trigger. “No! You’re lying! You’re a liar!” His hand shook as he aimed at Kai. He wiped his face with the other hand, raising it from Nina’s shoulder.

Taking the moment of freedom, Nina pushed Ralph’s hand up. He pulled the trigger, shooting a hole in the ceiling. The door popped open and Officer Warren was there, her weapon trained on Ralph.

Kai jumped forward, pushing his mother out of the way as he made a grab for Ralph’s gun. He missed, but Paisley knocked it from Ralph’s grasp. She punched her ex-fiance in the nose, then hammered him in the nuts with her other hand. He doubled over, groaning for mercy.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 71 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai and Paisley make love for the first time. They are interrupted by a text from one of Brill’s men. Someone is outside. Unfortunately, the men are injured. After the police arrive, Kai goes out to help.

“Put his towel on that head,” Kai told the officer before going over to look at Clevon.

There was a hole in the other man’s chest. It bubbled with each breath, seeping blood in a slow, but steady stream. Taking more towels, Kai pressed them over the wound, putting as much pressure as he could, on the wound.

Brill pulled up seconds later.

“He’s a friend,” Kai said. “These are his employees.”

The police officer respectfully asked Brill to wait until Sergeant O’Neill could give her okay. Anxious, but quiet, Brill waited. The Sergeant allowed him through, but not the men with him. Kai wasn’t surprised to see them get back in the car and take off. Brill squatted by Clevon.

“Is he okay?”

“Chest wound. Truck should be here in a second.”

They could hear sirens. Kai breathed a sigh of relief when his friends stopped a few feet away. He reported the injuries, officially turning the wounded men over to Cherise.

“You live here now?” she asked as she assessed Clevon.

“My girlfriend.”

“You’re gonna get chilly without your shirt,” she remarked casually. “Give me a hand!” she called.

Greg trotted over with a gurney. They got Clevon loaded up and took him to the hospital. Ottis was awake and lucid. Brill called for a car to take him to the hospital.

“How did they get the drop on you?” Brill asked Ottis.

“We saw someone go around back and I followed. I didn’t see anything, but someone tackled me, slamming me into the wall. I clipped my head on the siding. Clevon was out front. He yelled and I ran around the other side, but he was down. I tripped on the sidewalk and fell, hit my damn head again. I’m sorry, Brill, Kai. I let y’all down.”

“No, you didn’t. You helped me keep Paisley safe. I’m gonna go check on her. You’re going to need stitches, but let them check you for a concussion.”

“You bet, Doc,” Ottis said, saluting.

Brill helped his friend up and took him to the waiting car. The Sergeant O’Neill walked over to Kai.

“Mr. Marcelo?”

“Yes, ma’am.” He stood slowly, towering over her.

“You keep some interesting company, Mr. Marcelo.”

“Brill’s legit now, ma’am.”

“I know that. I’m curious, why is he watching your apartment?”

“Can we go in and have a seat? I’m a little chilly.”

“Sure. Got any coffee?”

“I’ll make us a pot.”

When they got inside, Paisley was talking to a uniformed female officer. She hopped up when Kai came in, throwing herself at him.

“Are you hurt? You’re all bloody! Kai!”

“I’m okay. This isn’t my blood. Why don’t you make us some coffee. I’m gonna wash.” He hadn’t realized what a mess he was. He’d have liked a shower, but didn’t want to take the time. Instead, he filled the sink in the bathroom with hot water and scrubbed off what he could from his hands, arms and chest.

The coffee was done when he came out. He picked up his shirt from the floor and put it on. Paisley brought him coffee, along with the two police officers.

“Why were Brill and his men watching your place?” Sergeant O’Neill repeated.

Paisley couldn’t speak. Her eyes widened and she hunched near Kai. He told the officers about Ralph, and his abuse. He mentioned that Brill’s men had seen someone lurking about.

“And you didn’t call the police, why?”

“Nothing against the police,” Kai replied. “But in stalking cases, you can’t do a lot until there’s been an actual crime. Maybe it was a bad call on my part, but I made it. This has Paisley spooked enough, ma’am. She felt better knowing that Brill’s men were keeping an eye.”

Sergeant O’Neill nodded. “I see where you’re coming from. What was the plan if they caught someone?”

“To call you, ma’am. We had no intention of taking this into our own hands, Sergeant O’Neill.”

She nodded, but Kai could tell she didn’t fully believe him. He didn’t let that bother him. He was telling the truth. Sergeant O’Neill opened her mouth to ask something else when her radio crackled.

“Suspect has entered a convenience store on the corner of Park and US-1,” the man said. “Advise?”

“Wait for backup and move in.”

“There are three of us here already, Sarge.”

“I’m on my way. Proceed with caution.”

“Copy that.”

Sergeant O’Neill rose to go. She hurled orders as she trotted to her car. The other officer stayed with Paisley and Kai, closing the ruined door.

“Have you got somewhere else you can stay?” she asked.

“Yes, Officer Warren,” Paisley replied. “We can go to Kai’s parents’ house.”

“Pack a bag. I’ll see you over there. This isn’t safe.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 70 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover small*CONTENT WARNING* This episode may not be appropriate for readers under 18.

Kai couldn’t believe how responsive Paisley was. Each thrust delighted her, each kiss made her sigh. Despite his prediction to the contrary, he was able to make it last. Being as gentle as he could be, he brought them to their climax, leaving them both panting and breathless. Afterward, he rolled to his side, carrying her with him. Paisley lay with her eyes closed, smiling happily.

“That was delicious!” she breathed. “Thank you!”

“Delicious? Well, thank you. I don’t think anyone has ever used that word to describe it before.”

“They should have. Because that’s what it is. Let’s do it again!” She kissed him deeply.

Kai grinned, holding her hips close to his. “Give me a few minutes. Got to give my brain a share of the blood supply for a few minutes.”

“Will you kiss me while we wait?”

How could he say no? Things were just starting to heat up when his phone buzzed. Hoping it wasn’t work, Kai reached for it. He had a text from one of Brill’s men.

Got a bogey on your six, Clevon said. Ottis is going to have a look.

Thanks. Taking Paisley to bathroom.

‘K.

Speaking quietly, Kai urged Paisley into her bathroom. It was an interior room with no window. He kept low and grabbed what clothing of theirs he could find. His shirt was missing, but that hardly mattered.

“Go in and lock the door,” he whispered.

“Come in with me!”

“Not yet. Please, babe.” Kai gave Paisley her cellphone. “I’ll let you know when it’s clear.”

She wouldn’t let him go until he kissed her. “You be safe!”

What do you see? he texted Ottis and Clevon. There was no response. In a slight panic, Kai sent a message to Brill.

On our way. Stay inside. I can’t see the guys.

Kai crouched in the dark room, feeling vulnerable. A sound at the window startled him. He crept closer, peering out the small slit between the drapes. He couldn’t see a thing, but didn’t dare move them further apart.

Something thumped and he thought he saw someone slam against the wall. He couldn’t tell if it was one of Brill’s men or not. Noises out front distracted him. It sounded like someone was kicking the door. He knew Brill’s men wouldn’t do that. Scuttling to the bedroom door, he locked it, glad that he’d closed it earlier.

With a loud crash, the front door banged open. Kai pressed the emergency call button on his phone and a police dispatcher answered.

“9-1-1. What’s your emergency?”

“Someone is breaking into our apartment,” he murmured, giving his name and address. “My girlfriend is locked in the bathroom. I’m in the bedroom. The door’s locked, but I heard someone break in the front door.”

“I’ve got a unit on the way. ETA, two minutes. Are you safe, Mr. Marcelo?”

“For the moment.”

Something thumped at the bedroom door. Kai knocked Paisley’s dresser over to block the door.

“They’re at the bedroom door,” he told this dispatcher. “We had some friends outside, but the bad guys are in the apartment.” There was no reason to be quiet any longer.

The door shook as someone hit it again. Kai wondered what was taking the person so long to get through. He must be hitting it with his shoulder. A good kick on the lock would have shattered the door jamb. The door shook again, this time splintering near the lock. Unfortunately, they’d thought of that too.

“Police!” someone called from out front.

There was scrambling. The thudding at the door stopped. The only way out of the apartment was through the front door or one of the windows. Their assailant was cornered. Shots rang out. Two more shots followed and bullets buried themselves in the wall outside the bedroom.

Paisley screamed his name.

“I’m okay. Stay put!”

There was a thud and the front door banged. Kai heard feet pounding along the walkway out front. Soon, the sounds of pursuit dwindled, the echoes of shouts following. Shaking, Kai sat on the floor. His phone buzzed, scaring him.

“Yes?”

“Mr. Marcelo, this is the police. Are you all right?”

“Yes, ma’am. Pretty shaken up. Are your officers okay?”

“Yes. They are in pursuit. Did you say you had friends outside?”

“Yes, ma’am. Are they okay?”

“I’ve got an ambulance rolling. Your friends are injured.”

“Is it safe for me to go out?”

“Why?”

“I’m a paramedic. I can help. Tell your folks I’m coming out.”

“Will do.”

Kai told Paisley he was going out. He found his shoes and grabbed some towels from the hall closet. His first responder gear was in his Jeep, but he couldn’t find the keys without turning on a light. He went slowly out the door, identifying himself.

A police officer led him to Ottis. He was bleeding from a head wound. Clevon lay a few feet away. He didn’t look good.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 69 by Dellani Oakes

*CONTENT WARNING* This episode may not be appropriate for readers under 18.

Kai and Paisley talk about Ralph. He asks if she wants to try to talk to him.Love Takes a Swim cover small

“Not really. I mostly want to get him off my tail. He scares me. The fact he’s come so far for me, proves he’s not stable.”

“I thought maybe his beatings qualified him for psycho of the year.”

“There are worse things to do to a person than beat them,” Paisley replied. “And Ralph is a master at them all. His torture was mental—which is far worse, believe me. The beatings you get over. Bruises heal. The mind games, those last a whole lot longer. I still have nightmares where I’m tied up and can’t escape. In my dreams, he captures me again, holding me against my will.” She shuddered, snuggling close to Kai. “I would rather die, than be his prisoner again.”

“That won’t happen,” Kai assured her. “I know you probably want to stay at your place tonight. I brought a bag and I’m gonna sleep on the couch. You won’t be alone.”

“Oh, Kai!” Paisley flung herself in his arms, kissing him. “You don’t have to stay on the couch,” she whispered.

“Do you mean what I dearly hope you mean?”

Biting her lip, Paisley nodded. “I want to be with you, Kai. I want you to be my one and only lover.”

Though he was excited at the prospect of making love to Paisley, Kai gulped. He’d never been with a virgin before. All the medical knowledge he had, flew out the window when she kissed and touched him.

“I don’t have condoms,” he mumbled as she pulled his shirt off.

“I do. I bought some when I went to get the cookie supplies.”

Kai wanted to laugh, but managed to keep a lid on it. It struck him as funny that she bought brown sugar, flour and condoms It also, strangely, endeared her to him further.

Paisley led him to her room. He trailed behind her, not wanting to let go of her hand. The world had become strangely surreal in the last minute or two. He couldn’t explain how or why, but it certainly wasn’t unpleasant. Euphoria swelled through him, settling in his nether regions. It all flowed south so quickly, he felt slightly dizzy from blood loss to his brain.

They sat on the bed, kissing and undressing one another. Paisley’s shirt followed his. Their jeans dropped simultaneously. Kai stopped to admire her body.

“Flawless,” he whispered, touching her cheek. His fingers trailed down her throat, to her shoulder, and over to her left breast.

Barely touching her, he closed his eyes, letting his hands do the exploring. One caressed her breast, the other undid her bra. She let it slide off her shoulders, down her arms, to the floor. Kai felt the warm, sleek cloth land on his foot, and opened his eyes.

“Are you sure, Paisley?”

She reached for his boxers, slipping her hands in the waistband. She lowered them with agonizing slowness, easing them over his firm cock. Kai shivered as the elastic band rasped slightly on his skin. It felt so good having her touch him, knowing he could take this to the final, orgasmic conclusion. He allowed his hands and lips to explore her body, finally slipping her panties down over her magnificent ass.

Paisley shivered with excitement, growing bold with her own exploration. Her curious hands stroked his firm, hot cock, delighted when it jumped like a living thing against her palm.

“Oh, God,” Kai moaned. “Condom,” he mumbled, his mouth on her breast.

“Drawer,” she leaned over and pulled open the drawer beside the bed.

Not wanting to leave her embrace, Kai grabbed the box, quickly tearing it open. The condom packets spilled out, but he caught one. Ripping it open with his teeth, he struggled to roll it quickly on. Paisley assisted him, smoothing the thin material over him.

A groan escaped him.

“Did I hurt you?”

“God, no. Keep doing that,” he commanded.

She did as he asked, fondling him as he worked on her breasts. His hand moved to her thigh, teasing at her. Paisley didn’t realize she’d clamped her legs together until he touched her. She relaxed a little. Kai eased his hand between her thighs. She gasped, jumping when he touched her for the first time. A flood of moisture gushed across his fingers.

Kai smiled, stroking gently. “That feel okay?”

“Perfect!”

“It may hurt a little. You tell me if it’s too much, and I’ll stop.”

“Feels good—so far!”

“I promise, it gets even better.”

Lifting her easily, Kai laid her in the middle of the bed before spreading her legs further. Kneeling between them, he kissed her deeply before thrusting into her. Paisley squeaked when she felt him enter her body. Biting her lip, she resisted the urge to scream—not from pain, from excitement and pleasure. She tightened up on him. Kai stopped.

“Did I hurt you?”

“No. No,” she breathed. “Don’t stop.”

Sliding in the rest of the way, Kai stopped again, waiting for her muscles to relax a little. She was so incredibly tight, he wasn’t sure how long he could last. Her body held him in a sleek, hot vice that felt incredible.

Paisley bounced under him, begging him to continue. Experimentally, he raised his hips before thrusting slowly upward. She couldn’t stop another squeak, but she assured him with her movements that all was well.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 68 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai finds out that Paisley spent the night at Brill’s, and is somewhat shocked. Then he picks her up, and finds out how much the gang leader has reformed.

“I always knew you had good in you,” Kai said with a smile. “Lianna, you’re a miracle worker.”

She patted her husband’s knee. “Nope, he did it all himself.”

“Cause she said she’d leave me if I didn’t straighten up. I couldn’t stand the idea of losing her.” Brill kissed his wife affectionately.

“I want to thank you both for taking Paisley in and watching out for her.”

“You’re welcome,” Brill replied.

Their conversation was interrupted by a piercing cry from a baby monitor. Lianna excused herself. Paisley went with her. When the door closed behind them, Brill leaned forward.

“Sushi says your boy is on the move. He’s seen all kinds of activity on the credit cards. He went up to Maine a couple weeks ago and he’s been working his way back down. He hasn’t hit on her location yet, but he will. Fortunately, Sushi is hella good, and is covering her tracks. Unless her ex has someone better, he won’t find her—yet. It’s just a matter of time, though. This guy is scary connected—at least his old man is.”

“Why doesn’t his dad put a stop to this?”

“Old man’s sick. He’s got MS or something. I don’t remember what. But he’s not in charge anymore, Lil Ralphie is. He’s a sick fk. Paisley told Li some of the shit that brute did to her. I see him first, I might have to kill him. And that’s not a threat, that’s a firm promise.”

“I don’t want his blood on your hands,” Kai said softly. “Your son doesn’t need a killer for a father.”

“Hell, he’s got one already. I’m no choir boy, Kai. I got here the hard way, and you know that. But that’s over. That ended as soon as I found out Li was pregnant. She wouldn’t marry me until I converted to legit business. She is, without doubt, the best woman in the world for me. And my son, he’s one cute little fk.”

The door opened and the women came back in. Paisley carried the baby. He was a very cute baby. He had big black lashed eyes and skin like creamy mocha. His hair was short and curly. He wore a UCF football jersey.

Brill rolled his eyes at his wife. “Dammit, baby. I gave you all the FSU stuff, so we wouldn’t be embarrassed in public.”

“When you change and dress him, you can put him in whatever you like,” she replied, tossing her head. “But I happen to like my alma mater.”

When he saw his father, the baby nearly hurled himself from Paisley’s arms. Brill caught him, tossing him in the air, catching him expertly. Lianna did her best to ignore it. Brill handed the baby over to Kai.

“This is Slick.”

“His real name is Henry, after my grandfather,” Lianna added. “But Brill calls him Slick. You don’t want to know why,” she confided in Paisley.

“Because of Brylcreem,” her husband persisted. “Because he’s my son and it was my cr—”

“Enough!” Lianna said, her caramel complexion reddening. “They get it.”

“A little dab’ll do ya,” Brill winked at Paisley.

“He has to say that—every time,” Lianna said. “It’s so gross.”

Kai laughed, tapping Brill’s knuckles. “Yeah, well that’s what passes for male humor, Lianna. We’re a crass bunch.”

“So, the men are helping you clean up your place?” Lianna abruptly changed the subject.

“Yes, whenever they’re ready,” Paisley said.

“Let’s go,” Brill said, taking the baby from Kai. He handed Slick to Lianna. “See you later, baby. You too, you cute little fk.” He bubbled the baby’s cheek, making the child gurgle happily.

“Language, Daddy,” Lianna complained.

“He’s eight months, babe. He doesn’t know fk from any other word.”

“Get in the habit now, because his little mind is a sponge. How would you like his kindergarten teacher to call us and tell us he’s the first child in the room to say—that word?”

Brill kissed her again. “I’ll try and behave, Mommy. Love you.”

Kai and Paisley rode to her apartment complex in his Jeep. Brill and some of his men followed in a convoy of SUVs. They descended on the building in a well dressed wave. Some of them started on Paisley’s place, the rest tapped on doors asking if her neighbors needed anything. Many of them were elderly, and needed strong backs to move furniture and clean up. The men pitched in, mopping, sweeping and toting damaged goods to the street for pickup.

At dinner time, Brill ordered pizza, and they all sat around outside Paisley’s apartment, eating pizza and drinking soft drinks. Kai couldn’t get over how very little like a gang these men appeared. A few years ago, they were stone-cold killers. Now, they were helping little old ladies clean their storm ravaged apartments. After their meal, the men picked up and headed back to Brill’s place. The electricity was on again in Paisley’s apartment, so she and Kai decided to stay there for awhile. A quick call reassured his mother that they were well.

“My mind is officially blown,” Kai said, making an exploding sound. “Who knew Brill was like that?”

“He’s a sweet man,” Paisley said. “He’s made some terrible mistakes and some bad choices, but he’s still a good man. Did he tell you that they are tracking Ralph?”

“Yes. Do you want to find him? Talk to him?”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 67 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai’s shift is exhausting, but he cheers up once he gets a call from Paisley.

“Hey, baby.”

Trent got up quietly and left.

“Sorry I didn’t call you, it got crazy here. Then I slept like a dead man.”

“So Trent told me. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m shiny. Just tired. How did you like your first hurricane?”

“Not so much. I spent it at Brill’s.”

“What?” Kai stood, completely shocked.

“TM and Sushi came over. We were pretty well hunkered down, then the rain started. Water came in under the door and partially flooded my living room. We thought about going to TM’s place, but the road was blocked because of a downed line. Instead of risking it, he turned around and went to Brill’s. It’s like a fortress here.”

“You’re—still there?”

“Yes. It’s been a lot of fun. Everyone has been really sweet. Brill promised to teach me how to rap and shoot a pistol like a gangsta, yo.”

It took Kai a minute to realize she was teasing. “Funny. Tease the sleepy, horny boyfriend.”

“Lighten up, Marcelo,” she said with a giggle. “When are you coming home?”

“Soon. I’ve got the next few days off.”

“Great. Swing by and pick me up.”

“Not all of Brill’s guys like me, babe.”

“Brill says it’s cool. They won’t give you a hard time. Besides, he threatened to beat their asses if anyone upset me, so you’re safe.”

“That’s not a threat, babe. That’s a promise. He’d do it.”

“Brill’s a sweetheart.”

“Under an unbelievably hard exterior, yeah. I like him, don’t get me wrong—”

“Don’t worry. Get your unbelievably buff exterior over here. The guys are going to help me clean up at the apartment.”

“Okay. Let me get some more liquid sunshine in my veins, and I’ll be there.”

“Have I told you how hot and sexy you are?”

“Not today—not ever?” Kai was puzzled by her words. She’d never spoken to him like that. “I’ll see you soon, babe.”

“I miss you, Kai. I love you.”

“I love you too, Paisley. Bye.” He hung up. Putting his phone down, he clunked his head on the table.

Trent came in. He moved quietly around the kitchen. Kai heard a mug click beside him. He sat up. Trent had placed a fresh cup of coffee next to his cold one.

“Thanks. So, she rode out the storm with Brill Williams and his gang,” Kai said in a sunny tone before slurping his steaming coffee.

“No kidding? Wow. Isn’t he the head of the worst gang in the area?”

“He is. But he’s taken Paisley under his wing, so I have to be grateful for that. She baked him cookies.”

Trent rolled his eyes, trying hard not to laugh. He couldn’t help it. It burst from him like a damn breaking.

“That man has a rap sheet longer than the ladder truck, and she made him cookies?” He giggled and choked. “I’m picturing Brill dressed like Beaver Cleaver. Oh, my god.” Trent wiped his eyes. “Oh, my god.”

Kai left Trent gasping and sobbing with laughter. He got dressed and gathered his things together, said goodbye to Trent, who was still laughing, and left.

Brill’s place was rather like a fortress. He and his gang had taken over an old mattress factory, converting it to a massive complex. Though the exterior was shabby, the interior was luxurious. Kai had to give it to Brill, he had good taste, and spent his money where it counted. It was rumored that his girlfriend was an interior designer. Seeing the inside of the building, Kai had to admit that was probably true.

He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but it wasn’t what he saw. It was all very modern—lots of stainless steel and glass. There wasn’t loud rap booming. Instead, it was a Mozart symphony fluttering from hidden speakers. The floors were Mexican tile, the walls painted in subtle earth tones. Artwork, spotlighted by concealed lights, graced the walls. It put Kai in mind of a doctor’s house he’d visited once on a Christmas homes tour.

Kai mounted an open, concrete slab staircase. The banisters were painted a silky dove gray. The stair treads were covered in swatches of colorful carpet.

Brill and his girlfriend sat in the living room on butter soft leather furniture. Paisley sat next to them, admiring a picture on Brill’s phone. She jumped up when she saw Kai, rushing to him. She flung her arms around his neck, kissing him deeply.

“I missed you so much! Come see Brill and Lianna’s baby. He’s so adorable.”

“I didn’t know you had a baby,” Kai said. “Congratulations.”

“And she made an honest man of me,” Brill said, flashing a tasteful platinum wedding band. “Just shows what a man can do for the right woman, right baby?” He kissed his wife.

Kai’s expectations were further shattered when one of Brill’s homeboys came in carrying a tray with an insulated coffee carafe and delicate demitasse cups.

“I have to say, Brill, this isn’t what I expected.”

Lianna laughed. “Brill’s reputation has been well earned. Up until a couple years ago, every one of your expectations would have been right on the money.”

“I was a thug,” Brill admitted. “A hard assed criminal. Now, my boys and I are legit. We have an import/ export business that isn’t a front for drug running. The only weapons we ship are antiques, or reproductions, that are made in our factory downstairs.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 66 by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim cover smallKai is called to the scene of an accident where an old lady in a Smart Car has been blown off the road.

“What’s your name, sweetheart?” Kai called.

“Gladys Finster.”

“Well, Gladys, are you ready to come down? My friends would like to help you.”

“Yes. It’s not nearly as much fun now,” she admitted, frowning worriedly.

“They’re almost ready. Can you see the truck? A buddy of mine is going to come up with a cherry picker and help you out.”

“Why didn’t you come up like that?” Gladys asked after a glance at Trent in the cherry picker.

“Cause this way’s more fun. We gotta get our fun where we can take it, right?”

“Of course.” She managed a faint smile.

“You think Mitzi would come to me? I can carry her down.”

“She’s in her traveling bag. I imagine she’s a little testy at the moment.”

“She’s not gonna bite me, is she?”

“Well, she’s not usually a biter, but we aren’t usually up in the trees, either.”

Kai chuckled. “Can you reach her?”

“She’s right next to me on the seat.” She reached over and the car swayed dangerously.

“Hold up,” Kai warned. “Tell you what, you hold still. Let me tell my buddy that you’ve got Mitzi with you. He’ll get you both out.”

“Okay, dear. What’s your name?”

“My name is Kai, Gladys. It’s Hawaiian for water.”

Gladys smiled. “What a wonderful name. Do you have any pets?”

He shook his head. “Mom’s allergic. But I’m a big fan of dogs.” He radioed Trent, telling him about Gladys and Mitzi. “I’m gonna stay right here until Trent gets here. He’s gonna take Mitzi and then we’re gonna get you out of there.”

“Okay. Please hurry. This isn’t fun anymore.”

“We’re doing our best.”

Kai continued to talk to Gladys as the cherry picker maneuvered into position. Mitzi was safely extracted, then they began the slow process of getting Gladys out. Fortunately, she wasn’t badly hurt, merely shaken up. She was able to crawl across the seat into Trent’s arms. He lifted her free, hauling her carefully into the cherry picker.

The tiny car shuddered. The trees around it finally tired of supporting its weight, dropped it unceremoniously into the muddy puddle below. Kai was splashed, but he was already wet from the rain. The Smartcar made a sick, crunching noise when it landed.

Kai climbed down, returning to the truck. Gladys was pale, but her eyes were bright and alert. She held out her hand to him.

“Thank you,” she gasped. “Is my Mitzi all right?”

“I don’t know, Gladys, but I’ll find out. Meanwhile, we need to get you to the hospital.”

“Will you take me?”

“My pal is gonna drive. Is it okay if I sit back here with you?”

“I’d like that.”

“Cool. The police will see that the car is towed.”

The doors slammed on the ambulance and it lurched into motion. There was no need to run the siren, but the lights flashed as it lumbered onto the highway.

Kai chatted with Gladys as they road to the hospital. She was clear and lucid the entire way. He gave report as they wheeled her into the emergency room entrance. She smiled, kissed Kai’s cheek, bidding farewell as they took her to an examination room.

“How’s Mitzi?” Kai asked as he climbed back in the ambulance.

Trent wouldn’t look at him.

“No. She didn’t make it?”

“What’s left in that bag can’t even be identified as a dog anymore,” Trent said. “We’re dropping it at the vet like we promised. I’m not telling that sweet old lady that her precious dog is dead. Could you?”

“No, of course not. Makes me sad, though.”

“At least Gladys is okay. We can feel happy about that.”

“Yeah,” Kai agreed, but he didn’t really mean it. He knew how much that little dog meant to Gladys.

The rest of the shift was a blur of accidents and emergencies caused by the storm. Kai was bleary eyed when it was all over. He flopped on his bed, falling immediately asleep. Not even a siren, sounding on the next shift, woke him. Six hours later, he woke and bathed, wishing he’d taken time to do so before falling asleep. He’d slept in his clothing, but some considerate soul had removed his shoes and socks. Probably Cherise, that wasn’t the kind of thing any of the men would have thought to do.

“Feeling better?” Trent asked as Kai stumbled into the kitchen.

“Kinda. What time is it?”

“Nine a.m. You okay?”

“Yeah. No. I don’t know. Point me to coffee.”

Laughing, Trent handed him a cup. “Your girlfriend called a couple times to see how you were. I tried to wake you, but you were out cold.”

“Thanks. I’ll give her a call—in a minute.” Kai held the warm coffee mug to his forehead.

His phone rang. Surprised it still had a charge, he answered.

“Hi, handsome.” It was Paisley.

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