Now That Something New is Over

something new coverNow that Something New is over, a decision must be made. What next? I have so many books to choose from. The number of finished novels is now 75 (at least at the writing of his post. Could be more than that by the time it goes live).

So, the question that needs to be answered is this: What shall I share next? I admit myself in a quandary. Should I share A Novel Romance about Lionel the genius college professor? Or perhaps Mirrored, the sequel to Conduct Unbecoming and The Ninja Tattoo (another Teague McMurtry mystery)? I also have a story set in rural Kentucky in 1939, called Poplar Mountain Mystery. And don’t forget First Love, a young adult romantic suspense set in 1975. I’ll even consider Love, Death & Pizza, a modern murder mystery. I can head down a variety of roads.

Usually, I don’t get much response to a post like this, but I still hold out hope that at least one or two people will tell me what they’d like to read. Below are short blurbs with each title I’ve mentioned. Please leave a note in the comments and let me know which one interests you. Thank you! Dellani

A Novel Romance is set in my city (somewhere up North). It’s about Lionel Pettigrew, a flighty, brilliant college professor, who can’t seem to keep both feet on the ground. Not for lack of trying, he’s just a genius with a serious ADHD problem and a hard core caffeine addiction. When he meets his new research assistant, Arista Lockhart, the bullet train in his brain slows to a more manageable speed and he finds himself falling in love.

Mirrored is another Teague McMurtry mystery, set after Conduct Unbecoming and The Ninja Tattoo. Teague’s cousin Joel is on medical leave from the police force due to a work sustained injury—a man he arrested sliced him on the thigh with a knife. He’s now living in Teague’s old place on Riverside Drive, next to the elderly Millie. When she gets spooked one evening when walking her dog, Joel is concerned—but not half as concerned as Millie’s great-granddaughter, Cora Surray, who has come to live with her great-grandmother. Is it someone from Teague’s past or Joel’s who threatens their safety?

Poplar Mountain Mystery is set in rural Kentucky in 1939. Lucius Henry works for a small boarding school situated on land his great-grandfather leased to them many years ago. His father, shattered by WW I, is an abusive drunk who, not surprisingly, turns up dead. However, it becomes clear that it was no accident. It’s up to Lucius, and his girlfriend, Dorothea Belloit, to discover what’s going on and who’s behind it.

First Love is set in New Mexico in 1975. Madison Reynolds is visiting a small mission church with her Presbyterian youth group. If her on-going battle with another girl, Claire, weren’t enough, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery that threatens her and her friends. Drawn to the minister’s son, Gabriel, Maddie is in a quandary when her friend, Clayton, makes his feelings for her clear. They embark on a dangerous voyage of discovery, determined to find out who is threatening them and why.

The final choice is Love, Death & Pizza, a romantic suspense set in western Nebraska. Owner of Parnell’s Pizza Palace, Brock Parnell is not a man to start a fight, but by his own admission, he’ll surely finish it. Bullied as a teenager, and further harassed as an adult, by Tack Carmichael, Brock isn’t terribly disappointed to find out that Tack’s been killed. He actually does a celebration dance, until the cops come knocking at his door. Offended by their stupidity, Brock endures a late night interrogation by two police detectives, but he has nothing to feel guilty about. He didn’t kill Tack. They don’t believe him, but Assistant District Attorney, Adrianna Hasselhoff, does. However, someone seems very keen to pin Tack’s murder on Brock.

These are your choices, choose well because you’ll be enduring the fruits of your choice for the next however many weeks. I really would appreciate feedback, so please let your choices be known by commenting below. If we get a tie, I’ll draw a name from the hat. ~ Dellani

Announcing One Night in Daytona Beach by Dellani Oakes

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It’s finally here! The long anticipated (at least for me) One Night in Daytona Beach, #17 in the City Nights Series from Tirgearr Publishing, is Available Now! Grab your copy while it’s still only .99 cents!

When I first heard of the City Night Series, I was intrigued. The parameters of 24 hour time frame and erotic romance, were somewhat daunting as I usually extend my stories over longer periods of time. However, I saw it as a challenge. However, I couldn’t think of a city, that I had knowledge of, which could be in any way interesting. I’ve lived a lot of places, and visited more, but somehow I didn’t think that One Night in Lubbock, Texas sounded quite as enticing as I might like. And then Troy Lambert wrote about Boise, Idaho and I knew that I could do it. Thank you, Troy!

My own city, in the Daytona area, isn’t very large or exciting, though it is in the story. In fact, a very important facet of the plot takes place here in sunny old Edgewater. And yes, we really do roll up the sidewalks early—what sidewalks there are. Mostly, we don’t have them. We are right on the Indian River, a stone’s throw from the beach, as the crow flies. As far as roads, I have to go to New Smyrna for a bridge.

Once I’d decided that, I tried to find a backdrop to the action. I couldn’t make their action the only events in the story. A friend suggested NASCAR, but I’ve never been and don’t intend to, so I passed on that. However, there are two other major events around here: Biketoberfest and Daytona Bike Week. Since The Ninja Tattoo takes place during Biketoberfest, I decided to use Bike Week instead. With that decided, I was off like a shot. I wrote the story in less than a week.

I hope you enjoy One Night in Daytona Beach and will check out all the other fantastic books in the City Nights Series. Swing your leather clad leg over that Softail and rev up your engine. Then hang on tight, you’re in for a hot, fast paced ride!

To Buy One Night in Daytona Beach

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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

To Buy The Ninja Tattoo



Tirgearr Publishing opened its doors on 29 February, 2012, Leap Day.
We took a big leap of faith that day to start our new venture.
Now, one year on, things couldn’t be better. We have a great team of authors, our staff is growing, and our collection of books is second to none.

To celebrate, we’re putting all of our books on sale.
All Kindle titles for just 99c!

Join us from Sunday, 3 March, to Saturday, 9 March, for our one year anniversary sale. These days coincide with Read an eBook Week.

What a great opportunity to pick up some great digital books at a fabulous price.

This is no one-day sale. This sale goes all week!

During our sale week, you could win some FREE books.
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but we’ll take a simple hello or even a smiley.
Heck, just ‘like’ a post on our Facebook page between 3-9 March,
and we might pick you to win a book.
Just make your presence known and if we pick you,
you can choose any book in our catalog.
Tirgearr Publishing
One Year Anniversary Celebration – Kindle eBook Sale
3-9 March, 2013

Conduct Unbecoming (Working Title)

Several people have asked if I intend to write a sequel to The Ninja Tattoo. When I wrote it, I intended for it to be a stand alone book. Then someone demanded a sequel. So, I got to thinking about where Teague would go next. What would he do? How would he best put his talents to use? I came up with this idea and started writing on it today — 1/ 6/ 13.

I don’t know if it’s a novel, but it’s sure going to be a short story or possibly a novella. We’ll see! Here’s a taste.

Late summer sunshine streaked through the drapes over his bedroom windows. A white hot beam lanced his eyes, making him tear up and flinch away.
“No more tequila,” he groaned, rolling away from the assault on his retinas.
A soft, warm body next to him grunted slightly and one hand rose to shove him away. Teague laughed, kissing the blankets over her head, before getting up. He closed the blinds all the way and went to the bathroom. The bedroom clock told him he’d slept far longer than he intended.
“Time is it?” the muffled female voice grumbled.
“Almost two.”
“No, baby. Afternoon.”
“Shit!” A tousled brunette head emerged suddenly from under the blankets. “Shit, shit, shit! I have an appointment with the caterer!”
“That’s tomorrow, babe. It’s Sunday.”
Groaning, Vivica flopped on the bed, holding her head with both hands. “I hate sunlight. I hate Jose Cuervo….” She pulled a pillow over her face.
“You hate me too?” Teague crawled on the bed, straddling her.
Vivica put the pillow aside. “You’re the only thing I don’t hate.”
“Good, cause I’d sure hate for you to hate me.” He took her hands, stretching them above her head as he kissed her.
“Someone woke up happy,” she giggled.
“Nope, woke up with a hell of a headache, but you woke up – so now I’m happy.” He kissed her again, letting his lips drift to her shoulder.
“I can tell,” Vivica remarked as his lean, hard muscled body covered hers. “I need to pee.” She shoved at his chest, rolling from beneath him.
“Go pee and come back naked,” he said as he let her up.
Vivica winked provocatively at him before going in the bathroom. Teague divested himself of his pajama pants and threw back the covers. He was primed and ready when Vivica returned. She wore his old Army T-shirt and boy cut panties. He had those off her before she’d fully settled on the bed.
“Someone’s hungry,” she remarked as he stroke her breasts with both hands.
“I’m always hungry when you’re around.”
It was obvious Teague didn’t want to talk at the moment. Truth be told, neither did Vivica. The months they’d been together had been the best of her life.

Teague was a good man, thoughtful and kind. He was handsome and well built and knew what he was doing in bed. Considering the men she’d had in her life up until she met him, she counted herself lucky in every way possible.
His cellphone rang. Groaning, Teague reached for it. He knew who it was before he answered. He had a special ringtone for that particular caller. Trouble was, he knew she’d call back until he picked up. Better to get it over with.
“Yes, ma’am.”
“Don’t you even say hello?”
“Not when it’s you. What do you need?” He flopped on his back, excitement replaced by anger.
“This is important, Sergeant.”
“I gave that rank back, ma’am.”
“Don’t be obtuse, McMurtry. I need your help.”
“I’m a civilian now, Lieutenant. If you’ll excuse me, I’m in the middle of something.” He moved to hang up.
“Teague, wait! Please.” Her voice broke.
His hand hovered over the off button. Sighing, he put the phone back to his ear. “I can’t do this again, Rachel. Last time we talked wasn’t pretty.”
“Last time we talked, you walked out on me. This isn’t about me. It’s about Nadeya.” Her best friend.
Teague pulled the blanket over his naked body, holding the phone tightly in his left hand. Vivica lay down on her side, leaning on her elbow. She pulled the blankets to her chin, waiting. Teague rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger.
“What’s wrong?”
“You’re the only person I can trust with this, Teague. She’s gone missing.”
“Rach, that’s what the police are for.”
“No! No. The police won’t do anything. They said she’s an adult and she can do what she wants. Far be it for me to explain she’s not in her right mind. She’s a danger to herself. They seem to think a suicidal woman isn’t a big deal.” Her voice caught in her throat and she burst into tears.
Teague closed his eyes, knowing he was going to regret his next words. “What do you need from me, Rachel?”
“I need you to find her. Bring her home.”
“What makes you think I can find her. Wouldn’t the local police be better equipped?”
“But she’s not local! She’s in Florida to find the men – the ones….”
“The ones who assaulted her.”
“Yes.” She sobbed. “She was in therapy, making good progress. She was happy for the first time in years. Why would she leave like this?”
“Something triggered it. Any idea what?”
“No. None. I can’t get much from her shrink. I’m not her contact person. I want you to talk to her.”
“Why? If she won’t talk to you….”
“Because, she’ll talk to you. It’s Isobel,” she blurted.
“Just because I slept with the woman a few years ago doesn’t mean she’ll talk to me about Nadeya now, Rachel. If anything, she’s gonna be less inclined to talk to me.”
“Nadeya put you down as her emergency contact. I told her to use me, but she refused. Isobel will talk to you – for that reason, if nothing else.”
“I’m gonna regret this,” Teague said. “I know that before I start. How the hell am I gonna track down Nadeya or Isobel? I don’t even know where to start.”
“That’s where I come in.”
The smugness in her voice was like fingernails on slate. Teague shuddered.
“Both Isobel and Nadeya were in Florida as of yesterday. Isobel is at the Daytona VA and Nadeya has been seeing her for the past year.”
Exhaling slowly, Teague nodded. “Okay. I make no promises, but I’ll see what I can find out. Happy now?”
Rachel sobbed again. “I won’t be happy until Nadeya is home safely.”
“I hate you, Rachel.”
“I hate you more.”
“Good bye – and thank you.”
Teague hung up, dropping his Android on the bed. Vivica traced circles on his chest and abdomen, letting her fingers drift lower. Frowning, she bit her lip and lifted the covers.
“There must be something seriously wrong with you.” She licked and nipped his ear, letting her fingers do the walking.
There was still no reaction from Teague. Slapping his chest, Vivica sat up.
“Okay. What’s up, Sergeant? Cause that sure isn’t the way your little soldier behaves!”
Teague laughed, pulling her back down. “Sorry. Former Army buddy. Her best friend, another Army officer, has gone missing. Well, Nadeya quit about the same time I did. Her time there even tougher than mine. Her first tour, her CO forced her to have sex with him.”
“Gets worse. He and some of the other guys all took turns with her a couple other girls. They tried to get action, but it got brushed under the rug and hushed up. The CO has some powerful friends.”
“She was traumatized. How could no one listen to that?” Vivica screeched. She’d had some harsh treatment in her life, because of her older brother, Randy. Atrocities to women made her furious.
Worried she would take out the fury on him, Teague held her hands, gazing into her eyes. “I agree. I’d like to string the bastards up by their balls. But that won’t help find Nadeya.”
“Does she know who did it? Can she find them and bring them to justice?”
“She’s never been able to remember them all – at least not when I last saw her. She’d found one and they even managed to arrest him. He met with an accident in prison.”
“She had him killed?”
Teague became evasive. “Maybe.” He wouldn’t meet her gaze.
Vivica knew better than to ask anymore. He’d never tell her details, nor would he lie to her. Therefore, he’d stay quiet. It was one of the things she found most annoying, yet endearing, about him.
“So, what’s your first move?”
Teague looked at the clock before rolling toward her. “First, I make love to the most beautiful woman in the world. Then I see if I can figure out where Nadeya’s gone.”

The Ninja Tattoo by Dellani Oakes

I’ve joined THE NEXT BIG THING, thanks to Marta Moran Bishop who invited me. She’s the author of The Between Times   She was invited by Ben Woodward who is the author of Stairway to Danger.


My book is called The Ninja Tattoo

WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM FOR THE BOOK? It was inspired by an incident I had while driving back to my house one morning. It was such a strange occurrence, it really stuck in my brain. Although I used this incident in the book, fortunately, the other things that happen to Teague never happened to me.


The Ninja Tattoo is romantic suspense


Teague McMurtry = Eric Winters Vivica Rambo = Sara Shahi


Teague thought he was safe when he came home from Afghanistan, but an infamous biker gang had other ideas.


The Ninja Tattoo was published by Tirgearr Publishing.


I originally wrote this book for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge two years ago. It took about three weeks to finish.


I don’t know of any other books like this in the genre.


I got the idea coming home one day from dropping off my son. I found myself in puzzling circumstances, followed by a biker who seemed intent on following me home. My mind clicked into high gear as I tried to figure out what the heck was going on. That’s how The Ninja Tattoo was born.


There are some steamy love scenes in the book. They aren’t Habañero hot, but they are Jalapeño hot.

Look for these amazing authors next week!

Ruth Davis Hays

Tracy Searight

Amanda Thrasher

Karen Vaughan

The Ignoble Demise of Cliff Brooks

NaNoWriMo is winding to a close.  Some have finished, some struggle to complete their novels before midnight November 30th.  One fun thing in a NaNo novel is to include the death of Cliff Brooks.  It’s become a long standing challenge and a bit of a tradition.  Therefore, I’ve quoted below the death of Cliff Brooks in each of my NaNo novels.  Each is different – and one even made me cry.

From “Wall of Time” 2007 NaNo Novel

A scrawny man in a dirty black leather thong and studded dog collar answered the door. He had a name tattooed on is skinny chest: Cliff Brooks. Cliff escorted Wil into the lobby and told Eboneé she was wanted below. The whore took her time, making sure she was perfectly attired for her new playmate.
(Wil goes to her room pretending to be a customer & “persuades” her to contact her boyfriend who has accepted a contract on Wil.)

Eboneé reluctantly placed the call to Mozzimo. It wasn’t a clear visual, but he could see Wil holding her prisoner. Wil’s smile was lethal, wicked, cold with anger. He took this all very personally. The fact that the Council actually thought they could kill him offended his sensibilities in ways nothing else could. That they had tried to use his friend first, offended him as well. Now they were sending a cocky, arrogant, pervert after him. They were killing his ego, that was about all they had accomplished.

“I’ll be there soon, Ebby,” he told his prostitute girlfriend. “You just keep him happy til I get there.”

“Moz! He’s trying to kill me here!”

“Don’t be stupid, bitch. If he wanted you dead, you already would be. Play nice.” He cut off the transmission.

“Let’s get comfy, shall we?” Wil dragged her to the bed and cuffed her to it, arms and legs splayed indecorously across the dirty red coverlet.

“They’re gonna come asking for me if you don’t let me go soon.”

“Baby, they won’t ask for you for a week. I gave them so much money, I could keep you here as long as I wanted. No one cares. You’re meat.” He dressed quickly and sat on the only chair in the room, facing the door, waiting.

He knew Mozzimo was close. He was probably already in orbit. Moz was sloppy. He hadn’t paid attention to his screen angle. Wil had seen the navigation instruments behind him on the vid screen. He’d been less than five hectares away from Aolani Figure at least thirty minutes for approach, clearance and docking, he’d be through the door in less than an hour.

Eboneé was beginning to like the position she was in. She liked the man who threatened her, finding that she enjoyed getting the pain as well as giving it. If she could distract him, maybe Moz would have a chance and kill him. She could watch. She could really get off on that.

“Hey,” she put on her most coaxing, sultry voice. To Wil she sounded nasal and annoying.

“What?” He didn’t look at her. He could see her in his peripheral vision.

“Why waste your time and money? Come on over here, I’ll give you something to keep you occupied til Moz gets here.”

“No thanks.”

“Oh, come on. I’m all set up and ready for you. You’re so hot, you’re steaming. Take off your clothes and join me. I’ll make it worth your time.” She writhed on the bed and tried to look sexy. It was hard to look really slinky with her arms and legs spreadeagled, but she tried.

Wil laughed, not keeping the dark amusement from his face. “Save it for someone who gives a shit, Ebby.” He said her name in a mocking tone. “I don’t want what you have to offer. I like my women clean.”

“I’m clean!” She screeched.

“Sure you are.” He chuckled. It was a very spooky sound.

Eboneé was crying softly, waiting for Mozzimo to arrive. Wil sensed him before he heard Mozzimo in the hallway. Making no pretense of his arrival, he was coming in hot and fully loaded.

Yelling obscenities and banging on doors as he clumped down the hall, he was disturbing the entire establishment. Cliff came up behind him to find out what the trouble was. Without thinking, Mozzimo spun around and shot him right between the ‘f’ and the ‘B’. Cliff scrabbled at his chest, coughed once and died.

From “Deserted” 2008 NaNo Novel

In this novel, Cliff is head gaffer for a television show that’s being filmed on a desert island.  The show is kind of like “Survivor” meets “Fantasy Island.”  Three women & one man are “deserted” on the island.  The women are given tasks to perform & the prize is a dream date with the man.

Thumping the door open, Jethro found several of the crew members sitting around having a cold beer, watching the scene at the campsite erupt in yet another argument. This time between Genvieve and Claire.

“Dear God, how did I let Barry talk me into this?” He put his head on the table, banging it gently several times.

A cold beer appeared as if by magic. He looked into the friendly face of Cliff Brooks.

“You look like a man who needs a beer and then needs to get laid.”

Jethro’s laugh sounded rather hysterical. “Oh, that would solve all my problems,” he remarked sarcastically. “Can you imagine how much worse it would get if I took one of them to bed?”

“I’ll take Brittaney off your hands any time,” he winked. “I bet we’d even find someone for Genvieve, then you’d have Claire all to yourself.”

“Is it that obvious?”

“Dude, after last night, it is obvious as hell that you love that girl.”

“Guys, you need to see this,” one of the women said, pointing at the screen.

Genvieve had Claire by the hair and was screaming in her face. She had a knife in her hand and was threatening her with it.

“Oh, shit!” Beer forgotten, all the men were out of the trailer, pounding down the beach.

The woman followed in a dune buggy. She picked them up and drove to the campsite. Claire was fighting off Genvieve while Brittaney tried to take the knife from her. Wild eyed and screaming hysterically, Genvieve fought like a wildcat, trying to stab Claire.

“You bitch! You slut! Whore! You stole him from me! He was mine! Mine!”

“Stop it, Genvieve!” Brittaney screamed, making another grab for the knife.

“I’ll kill you and then he’ll be mine!” The knife descended, slowed slightly by Brittaney.

Genvieve still held Claire’s hair, but turned on Brittaney, knife wielded dangerously toward her. “I’ll get you too,” she threatened. “Don’t get in my way!”

She lunged at Brittaney, who jumped out of the way with a scream. Tripping over a piece of driftwood, she sprawled on the ground. Genvieve let go of Claire, turning on Brittaney.

“Genvieve, no!” Claire tried to stop her, but fell over the same branch which was partially buried in the sand.

Cliff dove from the dune buggy before it came to a complete stop. He hit Genvieve with a flying tackle, knocking her several feet from the others. Jethro took them to the safety of the dune buggy as Genvieve grappled with Cliff. For a moment it looked as if he were winning, but his hand slipped as he tried to block her blow. Sunlight flashed on the blade as it fell toward his body, plunging up to the hilt in his lower abdomen.

“No!” Brittaney screamed, tearing herself away from Jethro’s slack hands. She flung herself on the sand, cradling Cliff’s head on her lap, yanking off her T-shirt to staunch the flow of blood around the blade. “No! Cliff! No!”

The woman from the crew whipped out a walkie-talkie, calling desperately for help. Moments later, several of the men from the guard house came roaring up the beach in a Jeep. One carried a sophisticated first aid kit. He stabilized the knife, applying pressure to the wound. He worked feverishly several minutes as they waited for the launch to arrive. The boat raced toward the beach, slewing dangerously against the dock as the captain killed the motor and crewmen jumped off to secure it.

They brought a stretcher and carried him rapidly to the boat. Brittaney followed, strangely calm. She sat next to him, holding his hand as the boat took off. Two more security men took Genvieve into custody. She went calmly, not even protesting when they cuffed her.

Jethro and the others looked on in stunned silence. He couldn’t believe that Genvieve would so something so crazy over him. Or maybe it was the money. Either way, it was completely insane. Horrified, he flopped on the beach, holding head. It took him a couple of minutes to remember that Claire had been the object of the original attack. Standing slowly, he went to her side.

She was staring at the pool of Cliff’s blood on the sand. Pale and shaking, she wasn’t responding to the people around her. The security men were trying to get a statement, but she wouldn’t talk. Silent tears ran down her pale face. Jethro took her in his arms. She turned to him, face buried in his chest as she cried piteously.

“Shh, it’s okay now, it’s over.”

“No, it’s not okay. Cliff could die! And Brittaney, she really likes him. She told me he used to come visit her in the evenings after the rest of us were settled for the night. They were becoming really good friends.”

“Oh, Christ,” Jethro said quietly. “No wonder he said that.”

“Said what?” She was calmer now.

They walked to the gazebo and sat together in the shade. The woman with the dune buggy brought cold drinks for the three of them.

“He offered to take her off my hands so you and I could be together.” He smiled shyly.

“What a nice man,” she smiled.

The walkie-talkie crackled. The woman pulled it off her belt, speaking into it.

“Go ahead. This is Barbara.”

“This is Pablo,” the voice on the other end sounded tense. “We just go word from the captain. Cliff died. They tried to revive him at the hospital, but he’d lost too much blood. The constable is coming now for Miss Genvieve. Can you meet us at the house?”

From “The Ninja Tattoo” NaNo Novel 2009

Teague snuggled up with Vivica, dozing fitfully. He kept waking up, thinking he heard things outside, but determined it was the sounds of the storm.

Eventually, he fell into a deeper sleep, his dreams troubled and chaotic. The war dreams were back full of explosions and gunfire. He couldn’t wake up, even though he knew it was a nightmare. Calling out, he sat up in bed. Vivica sat beside him, hair tangled, face puffy with sleep.

“Cliff! Oh, my God!”

“Teague? Baby, what’s wrong?”

“Where’s Cliff? Did you see him?”

“Teague. There’s no one here but us. Tell me what’s wrong?”

She didn’t know if he was asleep or awake, hardly wanting to touch him for fear she’d set him off. He was obviously having a nightmare, but what it was about, she didn’t know.

“God!” He held his head, shaking all over. “It was so real! I swear, I thought I’d put that behind me.” He flopped down on his back, staring at the ceiling.

“Tell me about it,” she said calmly, quietly. “It helps to talk.”

She cuddled up close, putting her head on his chest. His body vibrated, his heart racing. His hands fluttered against her shoulder and hair, finally coming to rest.

“Start with who Cliff is.”

“Was,” he corrected softly. “My battle buddy and best friend since sixth grade.”

“Was he killed in the war?”

He nodded, biting his lip so he wouldn’t start to cry. Men didn’t cry, right? They were tough, cold, hard …. Despite his efforts, the tears rolled down the sides of his face, trickling into his ears. He didn’t acknowledge them, hardly noticing.

“I keep seeing it over and over in my mind. Every time I close my eyes ….”

“Tell me what happened. I’m a good listener.”

“It was horrible ….”

“Too horrible to share with me? Teague, I saw my brother kill a man with a baseball bat. Anything you tell me, I promise I can handle. I may be the one person you know who you can tell.”

His arms tightened around her and he kissed her forehead. She was right. As damaged as he was, so she was too. They healed one another, filling in the gaps and holes of their tattered souls. Swallowing a huge lump in his throat, he told her about Cliff.

“We were on patrol. Routine, really, we did them every day. Only you can’t let it get routine or people die.”

She nodded, not speaking. She listened to his heart slow, playing with the hair on his chest as he spoke more to himself than to her.

“He was joking, cutting up, talking about this new woman sargent, really hot and sexy, who had just been transferred in. Word was she was supposed to assigned to us as a journalist. He was trying to figure out the best way to ask her out. His girl back home had dumped him and he was hoping to get lucky. It was stupid, a dumb mistake ….”

A shuddering sigh made her head bounce. Vivica turned toward him, gazing at his face in the half-light of the room.

“Whose mistake? Yours?”

He shook his head, pinching the bridge of his nose to purge the memory, shake the feelings, stop the tears that kept flowing.

“No. Cliff turned his back, just for a second ….”

“What happened?” She leaned up on her folded arms, staring into his face.

“It was just a kid. He couldn’t have been more than 12. Cliff was talking to him earlier, gave him a candy bar. He turned around, laughing and suddenly the boy shot him in the back of the head. His face exploded all over me.”

“Oh, Teague! Baby, how awful! I’m so sorry ….”

“I stayed by Cliff, calling for a medic, but he was already dead. The townspeople flocked around the kid, dragging him away. They took him to the mayor, who shot him on the spot. No trial, no explanation. He killed him, Viv. I found out later that was his boy. He killed his own son! For murdering a stranger.”