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Today’s Offering is from Love, Death and Pizza by Dellani Oakes

love death and pizza cover 2Love, Death and Pizza

Who knows what drives a person to kill. Why does one man die and another lives? Does everyone who gets murdered deserve it? Does everyone who deserves it get murdered? I can sum those questions up in one quick, easy answer. Who knows?

In the case of Tack Carmichael, it wasn’t so much how someone was driven to kill him, or if he deserved it, but who got to him first?

Lots of people wanted Tack dead. He was a bastard and an asshole. He was one of the nastiest people on the face of the earth. Did he deserve to die? Adamant hell yes! Was I surprised when he turned up dead Friday night, his death announced on the eleven o’clock news? Not really. What I wondered was twofold: who finally axed him, and how would it affect the golf tournament?

I’ve known Tack Carmichael for close to thirty years. We met in the eighth grade when he assaulted me in the bathroom, threatening to give me a swirly if I didn’t give him my lunch money. Being the kind of guy I am, I gave him a black eye and a fat lip. He gave me a black eye, a swirly, and took my lunch money anyway. What a prick.

We were on the eighth grade football team together. I was the quarterback, Tack was my center. He was supposed to protect me, but instead he either left me exposed or put the hurt on me himself. After a few practice sessions of getting my ass kicked, the coach replaced him. His theory was that he could get a dozen guys to play center, but only a couple could replace me as quarterback. It pays to be a smart guy who plays football.

All through high school, Tack and I seemed to be at odds. If I asked a girl out, sooner or later she’d end up dating Tack. When I got made captain of the football team, Tack tried to undermine me. By the time we were sophomores, I’d wised up and started taking martial arts. The fights turned out differently after that. When he lost a couple teeth and I dislocated his shoulder, Tack left me more or less alone. He still took women away from me, but I’d learned to live with that shame.

I never could figure out why Tack hated me so much. I’m a stand-up kind of guy. I don’t go out of my way to screw folks over. I’ll defend myself, but I’m not vindictive. Most people learned not to mess with Brock Parnell. Don’t push me, I don’t push back. You start a fight, I’ll finish it. Usually with you on the floor in pieces, and not a scratch on me.

But to get back to Tack. We graduated, went to college, married beautiful women and moved back to the old homestead to rot in the cold, lifeless town in western Nebraska, where we grew up. I don’t know why Tack settled here. I came back because my wife thought it was a good place to bring up kids. She’s from Manhattan. To her, this town is quaint and charming. In other words, boring as hell.

The only folks who really make money in this backwater are the ones who own movie theaters, video arcades, pizza parlors and bars. Welcome to Parnell’s Pizza Palace! Bring the kids, have a few drinks, let them play video games until their brains rot! I’m making money hand over fist.

You know what’s ironic? We never had kids. I’m forty-two years old, stuck in this nowhere town, and not much to show for it. Oh, and my wife left me for a younger man. She’s now living in Vegas.

© Dellani Oakes 2019

Today’s Offering is from New at Love by Dellani Oakes

New at Love coverNew at Love

Fifth was her free period. Straightening up after the students filed out, she took her lunch down to the courtyard for some fresh air and much needed warm sunshine. As cold as it had been yesterday, today made up for it by being warm, breezy and cloudless. She sat on a planter in the courtyard, enjoying the sunshine on her shoulders. Someone approached from her left, but the sun was in her eyes, so she couldn’t see details until he sat down. It was her rescuer from earlier.

“Hi.” He smiled, extending his hand. “Large pizza, extra cheese, pepperoni, bacon and pineapple. I’m Derrick Butler.”

“I thought you looked familiar! I’m Amanda Bitterson. Do you work here?”

He laughed, tossing his blond hair out of his eyes. “Not exactly. I’m visiting from Australia. Might have noticed?” He put on an exaggerated Aussie accent.

“No, not really. We didn’t talk much last night.”

“True, that. So, shit for brains giving you trouble, eh?”

“He would have, except for you. Thank you. He had me pretty scared.”

“Never show fear of the enemy,” he said with a chuckle.

“I was more afraid I was going to break something,” she laughed. “It’s reflex to knee a guy in the balls for grabbing a boob, unless I want him to. I don’t want to lose my job.”

“Can’t say I blame you. Besides, little shit’s not worth it.”

“So, you never said if you worked here or not.”

“I’m mostly an observer.” He shrugged, eating one of her potato chips. “It’s an exchange program for instructors. Kind of like foreign exchange students. I’ve come for a semester to teach a class while a teacher from here works in mine. I hope he’s having more fun than me.”

“What do you teach?”

“History, mostly. Though, mind you, I’m only here for the surfing and the hot chicks.”

“I see.”

“I’m team teaching with a guy who’s near retirement. He doesn’t even notice if I’m there or not, so I wander around having lunch with beautiful women, after rescuing them from horny football players.”

Amanda laughed, covering her mouth with her fingers so she wouldn’t spew her food.

“Though there’s no one to save them from horny Australian history teachers. Pity that.”

“Who says they want to be saved?”

He raised an eyebrow. “You drink coffee?”

“What?” She was puzzled by his abrupt subject change.

“Do you,” he pointed at her. “Drink coffee?” He mimed drinking from a cup.

“Yes.”

“Want to have coffee with me later? My treat. I even have American money.”

“I’d like that. Thanks.”

“Cool! Can we make it right after school? I have to deliver pizzas again this evening.”

“Sure. That’d be great.”

“I’ll meet you by your classroom then.” He was gone as suddenly as he’d arrived.

Amanda had never met anyone quite like Derrick Butler before. He completely took her breath away, bouncing in and out of her life like a beach ball. He was unlike any other men she knew. Somehow that was comforting.

© Dellani Oakes 2019

Today’s Offering is from Shopping for Love by Dellani Oakes

I thought it might help my readers decide, if they had a short excerpt from each book.

shopping for love coverShopping for Love

“I hate rain!” The young woman in the parking lot yelled. She stood in one spot, face to the sky, stamping her feet in a puddle.

I watched her for several moments before approaching her. A man has to be cautious about walking up to a woman, in a mall parking lot. He can get a face full of pepper spray or a tazer to the nads. Especially, I might add, a man who looks like me. I have a dozen tattoos, body piercings, a shaved head, goatee and several earrings in both ears. I’m also rather muscular. In short, I’m potentially a little scary. Standing at least eight feet away, I cleared my throat. The woman was soaked and shivering, dressed in a lightweight woman’s suit with a skirt. I was in bluejeans and denim jacket. The rain didn’t bother me.

“Ma’am? Are you in need of assistance? I can get the mall security.”

“I can’t find my car!” She started to cry. Her makeup was a wreck, mascara running down her cheeks in black rivulets. Her hair lay in sleek, wispy curls giving her a waif like, little girl lost look. It was so wet, I couldn’t tell the color.

“Let’s get out of the rain,” I suggested. “I’ll find a security guard and see what we can do.”

It took very little persuasion to lead her back into the mall. Careful to keep my distance, I took her to the hair salon just inside the doors. They fetched towels and called security. I brought the young woman a cup of coffee from the staff lounge and sat with her. She shivered and held her coffee like a lifeline. I talked to her quietly to calm her down.

Mall security showed up about 20 minutes later. They stood around scratching themselves a lot. After a few prompts from me, they got the important information, and went to look for her car. While they were gone, the ladies in the salon offered to do the woman’s hair and makeup for free.

The security officers started with the place she said she had parked, but there was another car in the space. After wandering around for about 45 minutes, they decided to check the rest of the lot. They came up empty.

“I’m sorry, Miss Woodstone, it seems to be gone.”

“Gone? Gone!” She was upset and indignant. Who could blame her?

“We’ll call the police and report it stolen,” I said quietly in an effort to calm her again.

“We can take care of that for you, sir,” Bob the security guard said.

“Maybe it was towed,” Jim the other guard added.

Bob went to the phone and made the call to the city police. “They’re sending someone right over, Miss Woodstone.”

“Are you hungry?” I asked her.

“I’m fine. I just ate. The coffee’s good,” she replied and smiled. She had a beautiful smile, like raindrops in sunshine. “Thank you so much for your help, Mister?”

“Baker. Chase Baker. You’re welcome, Miss Woodstone.”

We chatted a little while longer, being very formal. The police came in all businesslike, getting her information again, and did a massive search of the parking lot. They came up with nothing, too. We went out to join them in the lot when the rain stopped.

“I’m afraid it truly has been stolen, Miss Woodstone,” one officer told her kindly.

© Dellani Oakes 2019

Today’s Offering is from Love Takes a Swim by Dellani Oakes

Love Takes a Swim coverI thought it might help my readers decide, if they had a short excerpt from each book.

Love Takes a Swim

Speaking quietly to the younger woman, the director shook her hand and walked briskly back to the office. Kai leaned forward expectantly. This was by far the youngest and most attractive woman to join the Sunspot Health Club family in over a year. The only other one was Deanna, married and pregnant. He couldn’t tell for sure at a distance, but he didn’t see the glint of jewelry on her ring finger. That wasn’t always a tell. Most women knew not to wear their jewelry in the pool. But he remained hopeful.

Paisley turned from the edge of the pool to slip off her shoes and T-shirt. One of the older men wolf whistled at her. Blushing, she walked to the edge of the pool, shading her eyes against the glare.

“Okay, I can see I’ve got a troublemaker already. Do I need to send a note home?” she laughed as she started the music playing.

“I’ll behave, Miss Paisley,” he promised loudly and insincerely.

She laughed harder, beginning the warm-up. Her bright red one piece suit glittered and gleamed in the hot sunshine. Kai felt the heat, but it wasn’t from the pool deck or the sunshine. His heat was internalized, of his own making. He hated to admit it, but he was hot for teacher. Fidgeting, he wiggled in his chair trying to get a more comfortable position for his long, lanky body.

The man who’d whistled looked up from below. “Feeling it yet, boy?” he asked so only Kai heard him. Mr. Sims reminded Kai of Kenny Rogers in looks and build.

“Don’t know what you mean, Mr. Sims. Feel what?” He shifted as unobtrusively as possible.

The older man laughed at him. He knew the reason for Kai’s discomfort wasn’t because the seat was hard. “Pretty little thing.”

“Yup.”

Kai looked carefully around the pool. One of the elderly ladies who was also very overweight, was foundering. Paisley hadn’t missed it either. She hopped in the pool, making it look like she needed to cool off, working her way to the woman’s side. Kai was off the tower and at the pool in seconds.

© Dellani Oakes 2019

What’s Next?

alton and velda cover smaller

Alton and Velda is at an end. Now, the inevitable question of what to do next, rears once more. I’ve had my family draw titles from a cup, to no avail. The ones they chose, I don’t feel strongly about sharing. The ones I do feel strongly about, might offend—you see my quandary.

Even though I know it’s rather pointless, I am trying (once more, probably in vain) to get some input from my few, faithful readers.

Love Takes a Swim coverFirst choice: Love Takes a Swim ~ Kai Marcello works as a lifeguard at his parents’ health club. He also works part time as a paramedic. His mother hires a new water aerobics instructor, Paisley Saunders. Both have been burned by bad relationships, but find love together. Unfortunately, Paisley’s past comes back to haunt her, when she is stalked by the abusive boyfriend she thought she’d left behind.

shopping for love coverSecond Choice: Shopping for Love ~ Chase Baker may be well built and wealthy, but he’s not what you’d call a social butterfly. Able to talk investors to support his money making enterprises, he’s woefully uncomfortable when talking to women. He meets Tracy Woodstone when her car is stolen from his mall parking lot. Immediately attracted, he wants to do everything he can to help her—even going so far as saving her father’s company from a hostile takeover.

New at Love coverThird Choice: New at Love ~ (I might have shared this one before, I’m not sure) Amanda Bitterson is fresh out of college, and looking for a teaching job. To that end, she substitute teaches on a regular basis. Taking a job for another sub, who has gotten sick, she meets Derrick Butler. Life and love seem good, until Derrick’s psychotic ex-wife starts stalking them both.

(For those of you who are familiar with The Ninja Tattoo, and Conduct Unbecoming, this is the first appearance of my beloved character, Jasper Waters)

love death and pizza cover 2Fourth Choice: Love, Death and Pizza ~ Someone killed Tack Carmichael. Was it his wife? His golf partner? Or, as the police suspect, long time enemy – Brock Parnell. Brock and Tack have a long history of hating one another, going back 30 years, so when Tack’s death is announced on the news, Brock celebrates. The celebration is short lived, when the police arrive at his door. They believe, incorrectly, that he’s killed Tack. Strangely, only Assistant District Attorney, Adrianna Hasselhoff, believes he’s not guilty.

Brand New Day coverFourth Choice: Brand New Day ~ This story spans several decades, following the life of Janet Yarkowsky and the love of her life, Diego Hernandez. Falling in love as teens, Fate seems determined to keep the two apart. First, Diego joins the military after he graduates, then he completely disappears for so long, Janet is sure he doesn’t love her anymore. She meets and marries Tex, and her life spirals out of control.

Those are the choices. I’d love some feedback, so please put your choice in the comments. Whichever gets the most votes, wins. In the event of a tie, or no feedback whatever, I’ll choose. Please help me out! It’s so hard to decide!!

~ Dellani