Epiphany from Bank on Love a Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

Sometimes, couples will have known one another for a while before taking it to a different level. For whatever reason, they don’t see that they’re in love. Several of my couples are good friends, often involved with other people. However, the bond between them is strong. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, completely by surprise, they realize that they’ve been in love for ages, and didn’t see it. I’ve decided to call these Epiphanies and I’ll be sharing them in and among the First Meetings.

“Thank you for the meal. I hadn’t even thought about lunch.”

“I bet you had breakfast. I imagine you have a perfect omelet every morning.”

“You think so?” She giggled, rolling her eyes. “Toast and coffee. I’m not terribly domestic, either. I have six types of crackers, some cheese and three bottles of wine. Oh, and a loaf of bread from the bakery downstairs.”

“We’re pathetic. Though you do have more in your larder than I do. I have the essentials, coffee, creamer, sugar—and beer.”

Violet laughed, tossing back her head. Some of her satay fell out of her mouth, landing on her face. Claude wiped her cheek with his thumb, licking it off with the pointy tip of his tongue. Violet’s breath caught in her throat. Why was that the sexiest thing a man had ever done around her? Probably because he was the sexiest man she knew. He could be shaving and still look hot and studly. His coffee brown eyes were ringed with the blackest lashes she’d ever seen. One side of his mouth quirked up before the other, every time he smiled.

“Do I have something on my face?” He wiped with the back of his hand.

“No. Sorry. I just—why are you here?”

“I brought lunch.”

“I mean—do you know what I’m asking?” She squinted, hoping she didn’t have to supply words, because there weren’t any.

He touched her cheek. “It felt like the right time. In case you haven’t noticed, Miss Masgay, I happen to like you—just a little bit.” He held his finger and thumb an inch or so apart, then let them drift further apart. “For a while now.”

“I noticed.” She did the same thing with her fingers. “A little bit.”

“Go out with me,” he blurted. Blushing slightly, he dropped his chin. “Way to make it sound like an order…. Would you, Violet Masgay, agree to go out with me tonight?”

“Where did you have in mind, Claude Meredith?”

“There’s an amazing street band playing in the plaza. Or, if that fails to entice, a very cool laser lights show at the planetarium at nine.”

“That sounds fun. I’m very picky about the music I listen to, though. What’s playing?”

He whipped out his phone and looked it up. Holding it up so she could see the screen, he pointed to it. “There’s the playlist. Does it appeal?”

“It’s like they looked at my Pandora and copied it—in order. Honestly, I listen to these songs all the time.”

“If you want something different….”

“No. I’m thrilled. I listen to them because they’re great songs. I’m a music freak. I’m a sucker for a sax player. Or a bass player. Or—”

“I think I should take up an instrument, so you’re a sucker for me.”

“You don’t need the help. You’re hot and sexy all on your own.”

It was his turn to laugh and hers to blush.

“Did you mean to admit that?”

“What do you think? I’d love to blame it on alcohol, but I haven’t had any.”

“I think you’re beautiful and sexy, so we’re even.”

“Why now? We’ve worked together over two years.”

“Because of your rule about not dating men you work with. And I understand that. But when I opened that door, and you flung yourself into my arms, sobbing, I knew I had to make a move. Only so long a man can look at what he wants, and not go for it.”

“I’m glad you did.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 14

At lunch the next day, Diego announces that he and Janet are a couple. Tossing her head, Trina accidentally gets her hair in Raul’s mouth.

Raul laughed louder, leaning over to nibble on her neck. He mumbled something that Janet didn’t hear. Trina elbowed his ribs, blushing.

“Ready for class?” she asked Janet.

“Yeah.” Janet hopped up.

Diego joined them. “I’ll head that way.”

“Okay, we’ll let you,” Trina said with a sly grin.

She left them behind, heading into the auditorium. Diego caught the door, slipping in after her, dragging Janet with him. He pulled the door shut behind them, surprising her with a kiss.

“I’ve been dying to do that all day. I can’t stay long, or I’m gonna be late.” He took one more quick kiss before pulling her back into the hallway.

Laughing, Janet jogged to her class. Diego took off at a dead run for his. She had the feeling he was going to be very late, but she knew he didn’t care. They met up in chorus and she asked him.

“I was, but no big deal. It’s not like I’m gonna flunk if I’m late. We’ll just have to leave lunch a little earlier Monday so I can get my fix.”

“You make it sound like a drug.”

“Better than a drug, and I’m totally addicted.”

He wouldn’t kiss her in front of all these people, but Janet knew that he wanted too. They could wait, they’d have to.

After school, Bunny and Ramona told Diego they intended to ride with Betty, to Bunny’s house.

“You sure? Cause I can drop you.”

“No, Janet needs to go by the store. We’ll head to Bunny’s. She’s going to show me her new terrarium.”

Diego frowned, pursing his lips. “Okay…. What’s that?”

“It’s for plants,” Bunny replied.

“If you’re sure.”

“See you later, big brother.” Ramona waved to Janet.

“They set us up,” Janet said, laughing. “That was sweet.”

“I don’t know if I should be grateful or very, very afraid,” Diego said as they walked to his car with their arms around one another. “Did you need to go to the store?”

“No. It can wait until Sunday.”

“Cool….” He drove rapidly to her house and pulled up in the driveway.

“Want a cold drink?”

He nodded. “No. But I do want to come in.”


The second the door was closed behind them, he kissed her. Cupping her face in his hands, he teased her lips apart, probing her mouth gently but adamantly. Somewhat taken aback by the strength of his desire, she took a step away from him.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I know you’re not experienced. I know you’re not ready…. But I really—am being an asshole. I’m sorry.” He stepped away from her.

“I’m not experienced. And I’m not ready yet…. But I will be. And when I am, I want it to be you.” She took his face in her hands, pulling him to her.

He laughingly complied. “God, I love you, Janet. I’ve loved you since we were kids. Only I never thought….”

“I know,” she whispered. “Me too.”

They kissed until they heard a car pull up. It was Mrs. Thompson dropping off Sookie. Instead of just letting her out, she came up to the house with her. Janet dashed to the door, opening it wide.

“Hi, is there a problem?”

“No, it’s fine. It’s just I’m not sure that Lonnie’s going to be in school on Monday. He’s not feeling too well. I picked him up at noon.”

“Thanks so much for getting Sookie anyway. That was really nice of you.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 13

Brand New Day coverDiego and Janet kiss for the first time. Ramona, who is waiting in the car, warns them when Sookie gets home. Later, Diego calls her.

Janet took the phone, sitting at the kitchen counter. Sookie wandered into her room, but Janet suspected she was eavesdropping.


“Hey, it’s me,” Diego said. “Sookie’s got a real phone presence.”

“I know. She could work for the phone company.”

There was a longish pause. Janet thought maybe he’d hung up.


“I’m here. Sorry. I thought maybe you’d keep talking.” He laughed at himself. “I didn’t really call with a reason—except I wanted to hear your voice. That makes me sound like an idiot. Forget I said that.”

“No, it’s sweet. Thank you. Do you really want to be my boyfriend?” She said very quietly.

“Yeah, of course I do. I wouldn’t have asked you otherwise. I really like you, Janet. I didn’t realize until yesterday, just how much.”

“I like you too,” she said softly. “More than I ever thought.”

“I’m glad, cause I’d feel like a real goob if you didn’t.”

“You’re still a goob,” Janet teased.

“Oh, thanks!” He laughed.

Janet heard a muffled man’s voice in the background.

“Dammit, sorry. My brother needs the phone. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Bye, Diego.”

“Bye, Janet.”

He wanted badly to tell her he loved her, but that wouldn’t be his best move. Instead, he hung up and gave the phone to his brother.

Carlos apologized. “I forgot to call my girl today. I heard you talking to Janet and remembered. She’s gonna be freaking.”

“No, it’s okay. So, a new girl, huh?” He punched is brother as he dialed the phone.

“Ow! Yeah, she’s pretty cool. You’d like her. I think I’m gonna…. Hey, baby. It’s me….”

Diego wandered outside. His father sat on the front porch smoking a cigarette.

“So, you and Janet, huh?” He smiled, nodding. “I’m proud of you, son.”

“Really? What for?”

“For making a commitment.”

“We’re just dating, Dad. We’re not getting married.”

His father chuckled. “I know. But this is the one. This is the girl you’ll end up with.”

“I hope so. She’s really special to me.”

His father clapped him on the back. “You need to head to bed, son. It’s getting late.”

Diego nodded. “Night, Dad.”

His father nodded and smiled, taking a long drag on his cigarette.

Janet sat by the phone a long time before deciding to go to bed. When she lay down, she could feel Diego’s lips on hers, caressing them. The touch of his hands sent thrills down her spine, making her shiver with delight.

Her dreams were highly erotic, though vague. She knew the mechanics of sex, but nothing more than she’d learned in health class. She was aware of the need for birth control, and that the girl was supposed to keep saying no until she was married, but she also knew she had no intention of saying no forever. She cared about Diego and he made her feel special. His tender kisses warmed her heart, filling in the cold, empty places that riddled it when her father left.

“If he wants to…. If he asks me, I’m not gonna say no.”

The next morning, Ramona and Diego arrived at 7:30 as planned. They picked up Bunny and headed to school. Diego gave Janet a quick kiss before they went into the building and he walked her to class, holding her hand.

At lunch, they sat together with their friends around them. In their own little world, they hardly noticed anyone else. Trina burst into their private bubble.

“So, are you two officially dating now?” She leaned forward, arms on the table.

Diego laughed. “Yes, Trina. We’re a couple. Got a problem with that?”

“Not at all, I was just dying to know. I’m glad to have that decided. Now I can quit wondering, and get on with my life.” She tossed her hair, catching Raul in the face.

He laughed, spitting her hair out. “Baby, if you want my attention, there’s other things you can do.”

“I thought you needed a mouthful, babe. Sorry.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from How Original ~ A Love in the City Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestAlthough Joy and Nathan aren’t the main love interest in this novel, the other two already know one another. This is a first meeting for Joy and Nathan, so I decided to include it. Nathan is an actor, who is staring in a TV show with Carl. Joy is the younger sister of Carl’s son-in-law. It’s Carl’s birthday, and they are all going out to dinner.

Join us for dinner?” Autumn invited Nathan.

If it’s not an imposition, thank you.”

Not at all,” Ernie replied. “Auntie Joy will be joining us,” he told Mimi.

Yay, Auntie Joy!” she hopped up and down.

My sister,” Ernie explained. “She couldn’t get to the game, so she invited us to dinner after.”

She won’t mind?”

Ernie’s eyes traveled from the top of Nathan’s head to his feet, then back up to his face. “Nope.”

I hope Auntie Joy is single,” he replied.

She is. And a fan. She’ll love meeting you.”

I look forward to it.”

Dinner was across town at a blues club called Charlie’s Tavern. An unprepossessing building from the outside, it had hosted blues bands from around the world. Fantastic music poured forth from the open doors and windows. The parking lot was jammed full. Luckily, the business next door was closed for the day, and allowed after hours parking. They were able to find places next to one another.

Auntie Joy was waiting on the porch, waving at her family. Her eyes nearly popped from her head when she saw Nathan.

Ohmigod! When Ernie said someone was joining us, I didn’t know—I wasn’t expecting! Oh, Wow! Mr. Crocker, I’m such a huge fan!” She took his hand in both of hers. “Such—a huge—!”

Not so huge,” he corrected with a dazzling smile. “You’re a little, bitty thing.”

Devoted,” she whispered. “Wow.”

Let’s not stand on the porch all night,” Ernie prompted. “I guess the rest of us don’t rate a welcome? We haven’t seen you in six months, Sis.”

She gave enthusiastic hugs and kisses all around, doing her best not to gape at Nathan again.

I’m so sorry. I know I’m acting like a star struck tween. I’ve been a fan since I was one.”

So, five years?” he teased.

We share a birthday,” she gasped.

No kidding? I never met a birthday twin before. Surely you’re younger.”

Joy shook her head, auburn curls bouncing in counterpoint. “Same year. Were you born here?”

No. A little town in Texas, called Dripping Springs, in the Hill Country.”

I want to hear all about it.”

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 12

Brand New Day coverDiego asks Janet to the movies. She isn’t sure it’s a date, but everyone else assures her it is. At her house, after school, Diego tells her he wants to kiss her.

Not waiting for an answer, he pulled her close, taking her waist as he lowered his mouth to hers. Janet wasn’t sure what to do. She closed her eyes and raised her chin.

Diego smiled. He knew she was inexperienced, but it didn’t matter. He loved her, and he’d teach her everything she needed to know. His lips touched hers, sending a spark from his lips to hers. Janet jumped back with a little eep of surprise. Laughing, he tugged her close once more.

“Sorry. Static.” He tried again, this time without the power surge.

Janet didn’t know what to expect, but it wasn’t this. His lips were warm, full, soft and tantalizing. It wasn’t a long kiss, but it left her wanting more.

Diego held Janet around the waist, his lips barely touching hers. He kissed her twice more before letting go. Taking a step back, he opened his eyes. Janet lowered her chin, licking her lips as she opened her eyes.

“I’ll be by around seven thirty, is that a good time?” Diego said self-consciously.

“Yes. Perfect. Thanks.”

“What are boyfriends for?”

Janet squeaked excitedly, indulging in a bounce. Biting her lower lip, she tried to stop a giggle, but couldn’t. About that time, she saw Ramona standing in the hallway. Her friend rushed her, taking her hands. They squealed, hopping a little in their excitement.

“Why do girls do that? Seriously? You’re like little kids,” Diego fussed.

“We’re happy,” Ramona said “Deal with it, big brother.”

Diego laughed loudly. “Sure. If it means I get another kiss.”

“I’m gonna go wait in the car,” Ramona said with a sly grin. “I’ll honk when Sookie arrives.”

Her brother and friend weren’t fully listening. He was all ready taking advantage of the fact his sister was leaving. Before kissing Janet again, he pulled her close.

“Try something for me,” he whispered.


“Open your mouth—just a little.”

Puzzled, she nodded. She closed her eyes, opening her mouth a bit. His tongue flickering into her mouth, shocked her. She tried to pull away, but he held her close, kissing her much more emphatically. After the initial surprise, she relaxed against him, experimentally slipping her tongue into his mouth.

The horn honked outside. Diego let her go. Sookie had arrived. If she caught them kissing, Janet would hear about it the rest of her life. She combed her fingers through her hair and dashed to the kitchen. She poured Diego a glass of water, handing it to him. Very loudly, he thanked her as Sookie slammed the front door.

“I’ll see you in the morning,” Diego said as he walked out of the narrow kitchen.

“Yeah. Thanks for the ride.”

“Thanks for the water. Dang hiccups.” He forced a burp, striking his chest with his fist. His dark eyes twinkled and he winked at Janet when Sookie wasn’t looking.

Janet walked him to the door. He knew he didn’t dare kiss her again, but he squeezed her fingers as he headed out the door.

“What’s for supper?” Sookie asked.


Sookie turned up her nose, stalking to her room. She was a picky eater and hated leftovers. However, the food budget made that necessary. Janet paid for her own clothing, she refused to spend the rest of her money on food. She had a little savings account that she added to every week. It wasn’t much, but it was her escape fund. As soon as she graduated, she was leaving. She could handle three more years of her mother and Sookie, but that was her limit.

About an hour later, the phone rang. Janet was just finishing her homework. Sookie got to the phone before she did.

“Who’s this?” Sookie said when she answered.

“We don’t answer the phone like that,” Janet reprimanded.

“It’s for you,” Sookie said, handing her the phone.

“Who is it?”

“Some boy.” She shrugged.©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books https://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 11

Brand New Day coverAt lunch, Diego has Janet sit next to him, and buys her a cinnamon roll to go with her lunch.

He handed her the plate. “They’re fantastic. Here. I all ready ate one. I don’t need two. Trying to keep in shape.” He patted his firm, flat abdomen.

“Thanks.” Janet blushed, ducking her head as she accepted his gift.

She ate the roll after she finished her sandwich. It was one of the best tasting things she’d ever eaten and she swore she’d learn how to make them just for Diego. Trina walked her to class again. They stopped by the auditorium which was right by the drama room.

“So, are you and Diego dating?”

Janet shrugged, shaking her head. “He asked me to a movie Saturday. It’s not like a date or anything….”

Trina smirked, her dark green eyes twinkling. “Yeah, right, sugar. And the Pope’s Jewish.”

Janet blinked and her mouth dropped open. Trina walked away, waving. Again, Janet was almost late for class, sliding in the door just as Mrs. Frost came over to close it.

“Sorry,” she said as she neatly avoided a collision with the petite, blonde haired woman.

“What’s with you today?” One of her classmates from Mr. Whitmore’s class asked her. “That’s twice in one day.”

“I’ve got to learn when to shut up,” she said, folding her hands in front of her.

The boy nodded, grinning. He’d seen her at lunch with Diego. After class, he walked with her, stopping at the chorus room.

“So, you dating Diego?”

“Scotty, no. I mean, we’re going out Saturday….”

He nodded, a knowing smile on his lips. “Well, good luck with that.”

“What’s wrong with everyone today? Diego asked me to a movie. It’s not a date!”

“Um, I’m pretty sure he thinks it’s a date.”

Janet didn’t have a chance to talk to Diego until after school. He walked her to her locker, offering her a ride home with him, Ramona and Bunny.

“I’d love one. I hate riding the bus.”

“Cool. I need to stop at my locker. I’ll meet you back here in a few minutes.”

“I’ll be here. I have to wait for Ramona and Bunny anyway.”

“Okay. See you.” He grinned, blowing her a kiss.

Janet blushed when people in the hall whistled and cheered. She got her things from her locker as she waited for her friends.

“Where were you?” Janet asked when they walked up.

“Giving you time to talk to Diego,” Bunny replied. “He looked intent upon getting you alone.”

“Oh, you guys are crazy. It’s not like that.”

“No? Oookay.” Bunny grinned, tossing her hair. She raised an eyebrow.

Diego rushed up moments later. “Ready to go?”

“Baby, I was born ready,” Bunny said, winking saucily at him.

Diego laughed. “Great, a comedian.” He put his arm around Janet’s shoulders, but not around Bunny’s as he often did.

They walked to the parking lot and spotted Diego’s car. It was a white Barracuda with dark blue stripes on the hood and roof. He and his father were gradually restoring it. Ramona and Bunny got in the back, leaving Janet up front with Diego.

The powerful motor roared to life and he headed to Bunny’s house. She clamored out of the back seat and waved as they pulled out of her driveway.

“Need to go by the store?” Diego asked Janet.

“No. Probably tomorrow, but we’re good until then.”

“Okay. Anytime you need to stop, tell me. It’s not a big deal.”


“What are friends for?” He flashed his winning smile at her, dark eyes sparkling.

He stopped the car in her driveway, turning it off. He was trying to find some excuse either to get in the house, or get his sister out of the car, but he couldn’t think of a thing. Ramona solved the problem.

“Janet, I need to pee.”

“Oh, sure. Come on.” She hopped out and unlocked the door. “Coming?” She asked Diego.

He followed quickly. Ramona smiled, winking at him as she shut the bathroom door. Diego took a step toward Janet.

“I’m really looking forward to Saturday,” he said, taking her hand.

“Me too.”

“Our first official date,” he continued, taking another step.

Janet faltered, unsure how to respond. He saw the confusion in her eyes.

“Is there a problem?”

“No. No, I didn’t think it was a date—date.”

“What did you think it was?” He took another step. He was now about six inches from her.

Janet’s heart pounded in her chest and she felt a little dizzy. Any second, Sookie would be home. She was confused by Diego’s attention.

“I really like you, Janet. It took me forever, to figure it out. But, I’d like to be your boyfriend.”

“I’d—I’d like that too,” she stammered, hardly able to meet his intense gaze.

“And I’d really like to kiss you,” he continued, taking both her hands.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books https://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

First Meeting from After Midnight ~ A Florida Families Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting image smallestI love first meetings, as I’ve said before. I enjoy bringing people from different walks of life together, for me that’s fun. Amos Lowery is down on his luck. Living on the street, he walks around Daytona, looking for work. One night, he doesn’t find a job, he finds trouble—a man jumps him, drugging him. He’s brought to the hospital, where they discover he has a mark on his neck. They believe this is where the man drugged him. A doctor comes in to take a sample, but is rude. At the Amos’ request, a different doctor is summoned.

A quick word with the nurse and a different doctor, a young woman, with black, curly hair and a sassy attitude, came instead.

Hey there. I heard you and Craig had a problem?” She was very Southern. Amos placed her accent around south Alabama.

He was rude,” Sarah said, ready to cut loose.

He thought I was a junkie,” Amos said, shrugging.

Hmph,” she snorted. “Don’t look like one to me. I’m Annabeth, and I’ll be accosting you with sharp tools. Let me get a clean set up. I’ll be right back.”

Thanks, Annabeth.”

The nurse brought a tray instead and stayed to assist while the doctor took a small sample of the welt. The nurse did the blood draw, and the doctor washed her hands before settling on the end of the bed.

He’s another mystery drug man?” she asked of the room.

Yes,” Van said. “We were hoping for an update on his labs.”

I’ll get that. We’ve been monitoring for Dr. Weiss, but someone was supposed to tell you. Probably Craig.” She rolled her eyes. “Don’t take it personally,” she assured Amos. “He’s entitled and superior, because his daddy has money, and he hasn’t had to work for a living. I put myself through school.” She bounced out and got a tablet from a stand near the nurses’ station. When she came back, she sat on the bed next to Amos and accessed his files.

This is the level when you came in. It was still quite strongly in your system. Honestly, I’m surprised you were able to do much of anything, but lie on the beach and gurgle.”

Amos and the others laughed.

It’s been going down gradually. That’s interesting.” She paused, examining something on the tablet. “It hit a point and started to degrade more quickly. You’ll be glad to know, it’s very nearly gone from your system. Based on this rate, I’d say it should be completely dissipated in a few hours.”

Do you think I’ll get flashbacks, like with acid?”

I honestly don’t know, Amos. I’m sorry. You’re the first person to survive this.”

How did the others die?”

The police and doctor exchanged a look that Amos could easily read. They didn’t want to alarm him.

Look, I don’t scare easily. I’ve lived on my own for six years, much of it on the street. Before that, I was dodging my old man’s fists, and learning to hold my own with boys twice my size. I’m gonna go out on a limb, and say it was a real ugly death.”

Yes,” Annabeth said softly. “Very ugly. They mostly committed suicide. Some died as a result of the drug. We don’t know enough about it, to predict what will happen next.” She folded her hands in her lap. “Dr. Weiss believes the reason you survived is because you’re otherwise ridiculously healthy. Despite being malnourished, you’re the healthiest man I’ve ever met. In fact, your blood work is so good, they’re singing your praises in the lab.”

Amos chuckled, ducking his head. “I can’t afford to be bad,” he admitted.

Clean living, no matter why, is probably what saved your life. You’re obviously not a junkie.”

What’s-his-dick thought so.”

Annabeth snorted. Her lips were full, her skin a light cafe au lait. Amos suspected there was an interesting mixture of races in her background, which had gathered together to make an elegant woman. Her eyes were so dark brown, they looked like ebony. Her lashes were long and thick. He felt a flush start in his chest and move downward. Closing his eyes, he dearly hoped she wouldn’t notice.

What’s-his-dick also thought, because I worked my way through med school as a pole dancer, that I’m a whore.”

Amos’ eyes flew open, his mouth firmed up. “How do you stand him?”

I find myself having to rise above a lot. I clamp my mouth shut, and pretend I’m the adult. I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was six. No pompous, pampered prick is going to take that from me.”

Chuckling, Amos nodded. “I like you, Dr. Annabeth.”

I happen to like you, too, Mr. Lowery.”

Amos, please.” He paused. “When can I get out of here?”

She pressed her lips together, tilting her head. “I don’t want to give you false hope, Amos. You’re mine for the next two days, at least. We want to make sure the drug breaks down completely, and that there are no lingering after effects. I don’t want to release you, only to have you come back an hour later.”

What you mean is, you don’t want to release me, and have me come back in a body bag.”

Brutal honesty,” she smiled, giving him a fist bump. “Not to be mean, but yeah. Your case intrigues me,” she flashed a smile.

And I’m charming,” he teased, winking at her.

He must not be too sick,” Annabeth said to Van with a glance at Amos’ lap.

Oh, shit,” he muttered, hands fluttering over his groin.

Laughing, Annabeth exited. Amos’ gaze lingered on the door as it slowly closed. He could still taste her scent on the air. It wasn’t heavy or perfumy, just clean and fresh, like sunshine at the beach.

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 10

Brand New Day coverRamona and Diego’s older brother is home from college, for a visit. Carlos and Diego have a talk about Janet.

“Get your school first,” Carlos said firmly. “I’ve got friends trying to go to school, who are married, maybe have a baby on the way. It’s hard to keep up with marriage, school, and kids.”

Diego nodded, blinking back tears. “She’s got nothin’,” he whispered. “Her mom’s a bitch. Her little sister’s obnoxious. She’s got us. We’re her family. Is it wrong for me to want to take her away from that?”

“No, brother. It’s cool. But marriage wouldn’t be the best thing for you two right now. Think how much harder it would be for her to be married in high school? You’ve got some married friends, don’t you?”

“Yeah. Shotgun weddings.”

Carlos nodded. “I know you love her. I can see it all over you. But don’t make that mistake, man. You will seriously limit your life.”

He was right and Diego knew it. He nodded, accepting Carlos’ opinion. Diego couldn’t think of a time his older brother had been wrong.

“So, how’s school been?”

“Good. Hard to believe I’m starting my third year. Then I start looking at medical schools. If I can get the money….”

“There’s scholarships,” Diego said. “I been looking. I applied for a bunch already. I go in the counselor’s office and apply for anything I can find. They got things for college, and medical schools too. I’ll find you some addresses. Or you could go talk to Mrs. Chambers. I know she’d help.”

“If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be in college,” Carlos agreed. “I’ll do that.”

“It’s good to have you home, blood.”

“I’ve missed you, squirt.”

Diego laughed loudly. Carlos was three inches shorter and wasn’t nearly as broad in the shoulders as his younger, more athletic brother.

“I’ve missed you, too.”

Diego met the girls at the bus loop again, giving them a hand as they stepped off.

“I’m rethinking my carpool buddies,” he said as Janet lost her balance and fell into his arms. “Yup. You girls are a lot prettier than the bozo twins.” He jerked his head at Raul and their friend Tony.

“You’d throw me over for a chick?” Raul asked.

“In a heartbeat,” Diego replied.

Raul laughed, tapping his friend’s knuckles. “I feel ya, my brother. If you decide to throw us out, let me know. I’ll find another ride, no biggie.”

“What about me?” Tony asked.

“I’ll find you a ride too,” Raul said. “Whiner.”


Diego walked Janet to her first class. His own was just down the hall. Again, he felt the urge to kiss her, but public displays were against the rules, and he could get himself thrown off the swim team if he broke that serious a rule. He talked himself into moving slowly.

“See you at lunch?”

“See you.” Her dark eyes glittered with happiness.

Janet watched him walk down the hall, admiring the way he moved. His snug jeans clung to every muscle in his legs, making the view a very tasty one. She was almost late getting to her seat, scooting in as the bell rang.

Mr. Whitmore looked up expectantly as she clattered into her seat. “Did I miss something? Fire drill or something?”

“No, sir.”

“You okay, Janet?”

“Yes, sir. Sorry. I was talking to someone….”

He nodded. “I won’t dock you this time. Next time, cut it short.”

She blushed, mumbling compliance. He flashed a grin at her. “As long as you’re in the room before the bell, I’m not gonna fuss. Just be more careful, please. I don’t want you to break your neck trying to sit down.”

The time until lunch seemed interminable. Janet couldn’t believe how much she looked forward to seeing Diego. When she walked to the table, he scooted aside, inviting her to sit next to him. Janet wasn’t sure what he was doing, but she sat next to him—not too close. He scooted closer, his thigh and shoulder brushing hers. A little thrill ran through her when he smiled down at her.

“You ever have one of their cinnamon rolls?”

Janet shook her head. She always brought her lunch.

“Man, you need to try one.”

He hopped up and bought her a hot, gooey treat, cutting line to do it. No one complained. Diego was captain of every team he was on, plus he had the well earned reputation of being able to kick the ass of anyone who crossed him. He paid for the cinnamon roll and carried it back to the table. Breaking off a piece, he put it to her lips.

“Try it.” He teased her lips apart with the sweet bread.

Janet took the proffered bite, closing her eyes as the caramel topping melted in her mouth and the burst of cinnamon tickled her tongue.

“Oh, that’s so good! Thank you.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 9

Brand New Day coverRamona and Diego have a very candid conversation about his sex life. She’s worried about him dating Janet. He admits he’s had sex with 10 of his girlfriends.

“The others are lying. Who are you going to believe? Me, or a bunch of silly girls?”

“You’re not above lying.”

“If I were gonna lie, wouldn’t I make the number bigger?”

She sighed. “I don’t want Janet hurt. You don’t know what her mother is like, Diego. She’s not like Mama. She’s blames Janet for her dad leaving them. She’s a mean woman and don’t even get me started on Sookie!”

“All the more reason for her to date me,” he said with a proud smile. “Mona, I treat my ladies right. I’m not just on the prowl, cruising for virgin pussy. She could do a lot worse than me. I’d take care of her. I could make her happy.”

“I’ll allow this on two conditions.”

“Wait, you’ll allow me?”

“I don’t stutter. First, you don’t push her to have sex.”

He started to protest. She shut him up with a look.

“Second, if she agrees to it, you behave like a gentleman, you treat her with respect, and you don’t dump her right after. Or I promise you, there will be so much pain…!”

“Okay,” he said petulantly. “Can you believe me when I say that I really like her? I didn’t realize until I heard her sing. I didn’t know she could…. Mona, can I tell you this without you saying anything?”

“Sure, mi hermano. we tell each other secrets all the time.”

“You can’t tell her. And you can’t laugh at me.”

They did their special handshake that they’d made up when she was five. It was their secret, and sealed their pact of silence. Diego pulled up in the driveway, turning off the car before he spoke.

“I heard her sing today, and I realized I’m in love with her. I didn’t even know…. I don’t know when it happened…. No, I do.” He smiled, remembering. “New Year’s Eve.”

“When you two kissed at midnight?”

He nodded slowly, smiling. “I’m in love with your best friend. Is that weird?”

“I think it’s terrific,” she said quietly. “Cause she could do a whole lot worse than you, Diego. But I don’t think she could do better.” She swallowed hard before kissing his cheek. “You treat my friend right, or I’ll break your legs.”

He laughed, nodding. “I promise.”

They got in the house and saw their parents watching TV with their older brother and two younger sisters. Their brother turned down the TV since it was on a commercial.

“Hey, baby brother! Mona!” He hopped up.

“Carlos!” They greeted him with a hug.

“What are you doing here? You didn’t tell me he was coming, Mama!” Ramona said.

“We didn’t know. He walked in right before dinner.”

“You should have called us at Janet’s.”

Their mother gave them a tight lipped shake of her head. “She needed you there. That mother of hers! And that sister!” She made a disgusted noise. “She needs a little joy. And he’ll be here a week.”

“How’d you manage that?” Diego asked his brother.

“Got a week’s vacation from work, and school’s on a break. So here I am!”

“Too bad school’s started,” Diego said with a frown. “We could hang out.”

“We can do that this weekend.”

“Sunday,” Diego said. “We can go to the lake.”

“Not Saturday?” Carlos sounded disappointed.

“He can’t, he has a date,” Ramona said with a toss of her head.

“So, reschedule,” his mother said.

“With Janet,” Ramona continued with a sly wink. She grabbed a handful of popcorn from a bowl in her sister’s lap.

“Oh, really?” Their mother looked interested.

In fact, all eyes in the room were on Diego, ignoring the TV program.

“Yeah. So? It’s just a movie.”

“Not at the drive-in?” his mother said with a frown.

“No, Mama. At the theatre.”

“So, a date….” His mother looked smug.

“It’s just a movie…. Why’s everyone making such a big deal?”

“No reason,” their mother said with a satisfied smirk. “Oh, the show’s back on.” She turned it up.

Annoyed, Diego went to his room. His brother’s suitcase was on his old bed. Diego flopped on his own, arms folded under his head. The door opened and Carlos came in.

“Mama shouldn’t tease,” he said quietly, sitting on the end of Diego’s bed. “So, you finally admit you like her. Good for you.”

“You know?”

“Bro, I saw the kiss at New Year’s.”

“I think I’m in love with her, Carlos. Is that crazy?”

“No, man. It’s cool that you do.”

“I wish she was my age,” Diego murmured. “I’d marry her in a heartbeat.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Epiphany Moment from Amber Marley ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

Epiphany logoSometimes, couples will have known one another for a while before taking it to a different level. For whatever reason, they don’t see that they’re in love. Several of my couples are good friends, often involved with other people. However, the bond between them is strong. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, completely by surprise, they realize that they’ve been in love for ages, and didn’t see it. I’ve decided to call these Epiphanies and I’ll be sharing them in and among the First Meetings.

Amber Marley is an accomplished woman, with a high powered job. She’s known Patch Warren since they both started at Crossfire, years ago. Today, she’s seen her estranged father for the first time in 15 years, and found out that her brothers have been in touch with him since he left. Unsure how she feels about that secret betrayal, she starts crying in her car.

Closing her eyes, Amber held the phone to her cheek. Quiet tears ran down her face. Everything Ronald had said was true. She would have exploded if she’d known her brothers were still friendly with their father. After the boys left, it had always been her and their mom—two against the world. She’d finished high school with a deep, abiding pain inside her. A truth she’d always held, was that her father was a lying, cheating bastard, and she was better off not knowing him. Any happy memories she’d had, got pushed aside. Head dropping to the steering wheel, she sobbed like her heart was breaking all over again.

A gentle tap on her window, startled her, making her yelp. She looked up into the handsome face of Patch. Bending over, he gazed in her window. She scrolled it down so he could speak.

You okay, Amber?” Deep lines of worry etched his face.

Yeah…. No.”

Walking around to the passenger side, he waited until she unlocked the door. Sliding in, he tried to get comfortable in the snug confines of the compact car.

Talk.” He settled back, crossing his big arms across his massive chest.

The conversation with her brother tumbled out. Patch listened quietly, waiting for her to finish.

So, which are you more pissed off at? Your dad, or your brother?”

An unexpected laugh exploded from her. “Right now? Ronald, for sure.”


He lied for years!”

So did your mom. And your dad. And your other brothers. Anyone who knew the situation, and didn’t tell you. They’re all liars. You gonna get pissed off at them, too? You could get mad as hell at me, for not telling you it was your dad.”

Why would I do that?”

I lied to you.”

Now, I feel stupid. I shouldn’t be mad at Ronald over this.” Exhaling sharply, she socked his arm. He didn’t even flinch. “Dammit, Patch! I was feeling entitled to a good cry and a snit fit!”

Sorry to interrupt the pity party, Amber. But do you really want to sit here in the parking lot, crying in your car, or do you want to have dinner with me?”

A smile lit her face. “I can’t tonight. Dad just called and asked me. But I’d like a rain check. I can’t think of a thing I’d like more, than to have dinner with you.”

He smirked. “I can think of a thing or two, but you’d hit me again.”

That was nothing. You didn’t even feel it.”

I’m a Marine, Miss Marley. Even if you’d crushed my nuts, I’d sit here and pretend it didn’t hurt. It stung some. I can tell you have brothers.”

My dad taught me. He said his daughter wouldn’t ever be a victim. He taught me how to defend myself.”

He made a strong woman of you. You remember the good things, and let the happiness fill those dark corners. And don’t hate on your brothers. They did what they thought was best.”

You’re right. God, I’m a mess. Hand me my bag, would you? It’s behind my seat.”

He reached it easily, handing it to her. She took out a makeup removal wipe.

You can watch while my face disappears.”

I think your face is gorgeous without the makeup.”

When have you seen me without it?”

Workout Weekend last year.”

Orrrg that! I hated Carlos for a month after that!”

Why? Little bitty girl like you, took on an entire defensive line, and made a touchdown.”

They didn’t tackle me, because I’m a girl. How is that a victory?” She balled up the used wipe and stuck it in the empty ashtray.

They didn’t tackle you, because you looked like a wildcat freight train on crack! Scared those boys shitless. Here’s Miss Marley, their boss, a delicate woman—hauling ass through them like a hot knife through butter. You about scared me white, and I was on your side!”

Oh, my God, really?”

You were red in the face, sweating and grimacing. You looked like you’d kill anyone who got in your way, with your bare hands. You were fierce, like Boudica, the warrior queen.” His voice took on a dreamy quality.

A small sob caught in her throat. “No one ever compared me to Boudica. Or pronounced it right, either.”

Patch touched her cheek, brushing a snarl of hair aside. “I’m full of surprises, Amber.” Unable to stop himself, he leaned over, hungry for a kiss.

Gazing into his blue eyes, Amber realized she wanted him to kiss her. Crossing the narrow gap between them, she closed her eyes, parting her lips. Patch saw a smile tug at her lips as their mouths met. Rather than devour her as he wanted, he gave her a gentle kiss. It lasted mere moments, but it meant the world to him. Her contented sigh told him she felt the same.

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

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