Love Takes a Swim Part 42 by Dellani Oakes

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

“Rare. Who knew we’d find two, huh?”

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

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

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

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

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

“No kidding? To what?”

“We wanna name him after you.”

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

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

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

“Say yes, ass wipe.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You okay, man?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure did. He said yes. You?”

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

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

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

“When’s the wedding?” Kai asked.

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

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

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

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

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

Paisley giggled. “Why?”

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

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from The Experiment ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting imageA senior in college, Maggie is struggling with a required freshman psych class. It’s her own fault, she’d been putting it off. If she doesn’t pass, she won’t graduate. When her professor offers here a chance to participate in an experiment, she jumps at the chance. She soon finds she’ll be paired with a man, a complete stranger. They will get “married”, and live together as a couple for the next six weeks. Tonight is their first meeting. Maggie has no idea what to expect.

A man walked in, catching her attention. He was six feet tall, lean built, with broad shoulders. His dark brown hair was cut in a sort of early Beatles style and was tossed around in such a casual way, it probably took ages to fix. He bent forward to talk to the hostess, hands in the pockets of his tan chinos. He wore a darker tan corduroy jacket and a plaid shirt that was buttoned to his adam’s apple. His expression was made difficult to read by the black framed glasses he wore. Give him a pocket protector full of pens, he’d be right out of Revenge of the Nerds.

Maggie stood as he approached the table, holding out her hand. He took it, his palm slightly sweaty, shaking it in a moderately firm grip.

“Jaeger Jeffreys,” he said by way of greeting. He pronounced his name Jay-ger.

“Margay Simmons—but you can call me Maggie.”

Jaeger came around to help her with her chair. Unused to such attention, Maggie sat too quickly, flopping awkwardly onto her seat. Fortunately, Jaeger didn’t seem to notice.

“So, Jaeger,” she croaked. Clearing her throat, she took a sip of water. “Do you go by a nickname? Like Jay or Ger?” Realizing she was babbling, Maggie stopped talking and took a deep breath. Another sip gave her an excuse to stay quiet.

Jaeger chuckled. “I sometimes go by Jeff or Jay. Good friends call me J.J. You can call me any of the above, or the full handle. I answer to about anything.”

His voice was a smooth tenor flavored by a slight Southern accent that she thought was from Alabama. Maggie had a good ear for accents and could usually pinpoint where someone was from after a very short time.

“Unusual name, Jaeger.”

“Yep. Mom’s family name. It’s actually my middle name. First name’s awful.” He made a face.

“It can’t be that bad.”

“Trust me. When I know you better, I’ll share.” He took a sip of his water.

The waitress brought their soup, a delicate gazpacho with croutons. Conversation lagged slightly as they ate.

“So, Jaeger, what do you plan to do once you graduate?”

He put down his spoon and folded his hands under his chin. “First of all, my future wife can call me Jay—please. Secondly, I’m going into the family business. Dad’s an accountant, his dad was, and his dad. Going back to the War Between the States, when my many greats granddaddy was pay master for General Lee.”

“The Civil War, you mean?”

Jay shushed her playfully. “Lord, chile, don’t ever let my granny here you say that! She will shoot you for a Yankee! She calls it The Recent Unpleasantness.” He laid a thick layer of Southern on his statement.

“Yankee! I think I might be offended by that.”

Jaeger laughed, slapping his thigh. “I say all that and you catch onto Yankee? Lordy. Where you from, Maggie?”

“I was born in Tennessee, but raised in Florida. I’m as Southern as you are.”

He held up a finger, wiggling it at her. “I do beg to differ. I was born in the Appalachian Mountains, in a cabin in the Chattahoochee National Forest. I was raised in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama. My folks were from Citronelle, Alabama—population just around thirty-six hundred. They now live in Biloxi, Mississippi. My granddaddy’s family was one of the first families to settle there in 1811. I have a family tree with so many branches, I don’t know all my first cousins and only a handful of the seconds. So, I promise you, to my granny, a girl raised in Florida—she’s a Yankee.”

Maggie bridled, sitting up straighter in her chair. It took her a moment to realize that he was teasing her. She saw an amused glitter in his eyes. She hadn’t noticed it before because of the glasses, but they were a dark sage green.

“Smart ass,” she muttered.

Jaeger winked. “Been called worse.”

Their entrees arrived. Maggie had opted for the coriander pork chop with a sweet potato and cooked apples. Jaeger had a steak, fries and grilled pineapple.

“I’m glad to see you’re not a vegan,” he said as he cut into his steak. “I dated a girl for awhile, only to find out she didn’t eat meat. Considering she didn’t share that fact with me when I invited her to dinner at the steak house, it was somewhat….”

“Humiliating?”

He winked, pointing his fork at her. “Bingo. I enjoyed my meal and she took a cab home.”

“Bummer.”

“Yeah, it was our third date too. Subject couldn’t come up before that?”

“You’d think so. What’s significant about the third date?”

Jaeger stopped eating, glancing up at her over his glasses. His fork and knife were poised to cut and framed his face in glittering steel.

“Um—the third date. After the third date…..” He tilted his head from side to side indicating she should fill in the blanks.

“Oh, my God! I’m dumb. I don’t—date—a lot. Like—ever?” Embarrassed, she attacked her pork chop with renewed vigor.

Jaeger’s laugh made her ears burn. She glared at him.

“I’m sorry. Just, it’s kind of refreshing to find someone who’s not jaded. You don’t know how rare that is, Maggie.”

“I suppose that could be a compliment. At least you didn’t call me naïve.”

“Now why would I do that? Being naïve isn’t a bad thing, but it implies being cut off from reality and not familiar with the bad things in life. You’re not sitting in some ivory tower, you’re out here with the rest of us, but you haven’t let the association with the bad things tarnish you.”

Maggie stared at him in silence, a bite of pork in her mouth. She had no idea how to reply to that. He’d summed up her life entirely in a few sentences. Not only that, he made her sound strong, positive and self-possessed. Everyone else treated her like a silly little child. She smiled.

“Thank you. I believe that’s the nicest thing anyone’s said to me in a long time.”

“Then you don’t hang out with the right people.” He concentrated on his food.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 41 by Dellani Oakes

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

“You coming?” Toby asked Kai.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The others congratulated him, slapping him on the back.

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re welcome, Mr. McTeague.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Still not past first?”

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

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

“No kidding? What’d you do?”

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

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 40 by Dellani Oakes

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

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

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

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

“Sure!”

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

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

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

“You in labor?” he asked quietly.

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

“Any bleeding? Water break?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He heard Epiphany scream inside.

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

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

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

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

“Glove up,” he told Kai.

“Huh?”

“Hurry. You wanna catch or not?”

“Me?”

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

“Yes, sir.”

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

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

Screaming loudly, she pushed hard.

“He’s crowned. Give me good one.”

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting – Continued – from Feel the Heat ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting imageJax Jendrasik isn’t having a very good night. He had some trouble at his brother’s bachelor party, and ended up face down on the sidewalk. Fortunately, a lovely blonde was there to help. He’s been taken to the hospital and he’s waiting for the doctor.

The drape flicked aside and a woman entered. She seemed vaguely familiar, her blonde hair slicked back and glittered.

You?” Jax chuckled.

Doctor Johanna Strauss. You must be T-Rex,” she held out her hand to Telise.

Telise punched her brother’s arm before shaking the doctor’s hand.

We spoke on the phone.”

So, the hot blonde is a doctor, huh?” Jax chuckled.

Yes. Don’t let the hair fool you, I’m very good at my job. I was on my way to an Eighties themed party, when I saw him go down,” she explained. “You do have a concussion, so we’re going to keep you overnight. No fractures, though we do need to clean up your cheek, and see what other damage is under there. My friend Candy, is bringing you the good stuff—not morphine,” she assured them. “Derrick dutifully reported.” Nitrile gloves on, she moved Jax’s head a little, turning on a bright light, angling it away from his eyes as much as she could. “You have some road rash, but it’s not serious as it looked at first glance. It’s filthy, though. I don’t want to speculate what you landed in.”

Outside that club?” He shuddered. “I’ll be happy if it’s just piss.”

We’ll give you a full spectrum antibiotic. You up to date on tetanus?”

It’s been a few years. When did you get the new roof?” he asked his sister.

Five years ago. Why?”

Remember, I stepped on the old nails sticking from the board. Doc hit me with a shot then.”

You should be all right. They’re good for ten. Ah, here’s Candy with the good stuff. We’re going to debride his face now. You need to wait out in the other room. I very much doubt you want to see that.”

You’d be right.” Squeezing her brother’s hand, Telise left.

I’m going to give you a shot to deaden the side of your face, before I begin. It stings, so if you yell insults, I won’t be offended.”

I’ll try not to, but my pain threshold’s real low at the moment.”

What would you say your pain level is right now?” She frowned, exchanging a look with the nurse.

Hovering between five and six. Hit the pavement with my face. Might have noticed.”

We’ll take care of that right now. Candy?”

Off we go,” Candy said, jabbing the needle into his IV port.

Thanks.”

A few seconds later, Dr. Strauss popped him with another needle.

Son-of-a-bitch!” he yelped. “Sorry, Doc.”

No worries. I’m no one’s son, and my mama’s not a bitch.”

Good. Mine either. Fine lady. Bit of a temper.” The drugs were starting to make him a little sleepy. “Oh, that’s great shit, Candy. Thanks.” He kissed her hand, smiling.

You’re very welcome. I love happy customers.”

We’re going to drape your face now, Mr. Janesek. This will take a little time.”

No worries. I’ll just—grab a nap….” His head lolled and he dozed off.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 39 by Dellani Oakes

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

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

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

“Been there. So, progress?”

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

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

“That, and she’s a virgin.”

“You knew that?”

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

“You can do all that? Seriously?”

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

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

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

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

“How’d you know it was me?”

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

“That’s good, I hope.”

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

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

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

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

“Really?”

“Really.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Love Takes a Swim Part 38 by Dellani Oakes

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

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

“Where’d you hear that word?”

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

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

“He’s ruining my life, you know.”

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

“Does that include my brothers?”

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

“He hasn’t made it with you, yet.”

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

“Why hasn’t he been rewarded yet?”

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

“Why are you telling me this, Pais?”

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

“Kai would never treat you like that.”

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

“But he drives all the guys away!”

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

“He could just be after sex.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So, fatherhood?” Kai said.

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

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

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

“Why not?”

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

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

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books