Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 9

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

Detective Weinstein asks them to look at a picture of the body, in case they know the victim. She presents them with a photo of a pretty blonde woman. Corin doesn’t know her name, but has seen her. Aiden identifies her Wendy Hamilton, a girl who was a couple years ahead of him in school, who was on the golf team with him. He reveals that she was his first love.

Nodding, he went to his room and slammed the door. Loud music started playing, not his usual heavy metal with screeching guitars and loud drums. This was sorrowful blues music. Deirdre told the boys to leave their brother alone and occupy themselves. Her book would wait, she had to call Fred again. He should be in Atlanta by now, on his layover.

He answered after three rings, sounding slightly breathless. “Yeah, hi! What’s up?”

“Is there any way you can come home?”

“Honey, I’ve hardly left.” Her flat tone finally registered with him. “What’s wrong?”

Deirdre explained.

Fred got very quiet. “I knew that had happened, not with whom, but he carried himself differently. There’s a set to a man’s shoulders….” Inhaling sharply, he sighed. “I remember that girl. I went to all the matches, you remember. She was a sweet girl, very talented. I thought she’d gone to college on a golf scholarship?”

“I don’t know. I thought I might do some digging.”

“Honey, let it rest. The police….”

“She meant something to our eldest son. The poor child had no family, Fred,” she spoke more sharply than she’d meant to. She felt strongly about this, for some reason she didn’t understand.

He paused, she could hear him breathing.

“You’re right. She might not have had family, but she’s got us. Tell the police, if no one else claims her—her remains, we will. We’ll see she has a funeral.”

“I will. I don’t know why, I feel responsible for that poor child.”

“You’ve got a gentle heart, my love. Oh, crap. They’re boarding. I just got to the gate. Gotta go. Love you!”

“Love you!” She hung up. Holding her phone close to her heart, she said a silent prayer for the poor, dead girl. I may not have known you in life, but I will see that you rest easy, she promised.

When the boys were in bed, she sat at the computer and looked up Wendy Hamilton. She got a lot of hits on golf, both from high school and college. Two and a half years after graduation, those tapered off, disappearing completely.

“What happened to you, honey? Why did you leave?” Scrolling down the Google list, she spotted a college newspaper article. Clicking on it, she saw Wendy’s smiling face with a raucous headline: Female Student Caught in Scandal. Reading quickly through it, Deidre discovered why Wendy had left school. She had been involved with one of her professors, a married man, and their affair was discovered. She was thrown out of school and the man, who was tenured, got a slap on the wrist. “Typical! The man gets away with everything, and they blame the woman. But you weren’t to blame, were you, sweetheart? No. Look at that face.” She touched the screen, tears in her eyes.

“Mom?” Aiden said from the doorway. “Whatcha doing?”

Deirdre jumped, feeling a little guilty about what she’d been doing. “Finding out what happened to Wendy.” She explained.

Aiden closed his eyes, sinking into another chair. “She was always so gullible. She’d fall for a smooth talker. Is there a picture of him?”

Deirdre scrolled down. The man’s picture was lower on the page, with a short blurb about him, his accomplishments and qualifications. He was handsome, in a predictable kind of way. Hair color so bland, there was no way to describe it. Eyes a watery blue, his smile didn’t reach them. There was a hard, hedonistic set to his mouth.

“He looks like a slimy character,” Deirdre said. “Like a snake.”

“Snakes aren’t slimy,” Aiden correct. “But yes. Snake. A man like that should burn from the inside out.”

“I can’t agree more. You okay?” She smoothed his hair from his forehead. Usually, he hated that, but he rested his face on her palm. “I really loved her, Mom. She had a sweet spirit. So gentle, genuine. She said I was the only guy who was nice to her, just because. She was so pleased when I gave her the earrings. No one had ever given her a gift before. And to thank me…just because….”

“She made a man of you.”

He nodded. “It was wonderful. Special. We spent that night together. The next day, she was moved from her foster home. She was eighteen, graduated, they wouldn’t keep her a second longer. I don’t think they even cared what happened to her. She came to see me a few times, but I don’t know where she was living by then. A month later, she moved. I tried calling her after she left, but she never called me back.” He shrugged. “I didn’t know what to think. I still don’t. I really cared for her.”

“I know, sweetheart.”

“Can I…I can’t handle school tomorrow. Everyone will be talking about it, making lurid comments. I can’t face it.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 8

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

As they drive by the railroad track, Corin spots something, telling his mother to stop. They are horrified to find that what the buzzards are feasting on, is a dead person. They stop the car and call the police. Detective Vanessa Weinstein responds to the call.

Weinstein’s phone chirped. “I do now. I’m sorry, Mrs Partridge. It’s grim.”

“I can vomit later,” Deirdre said. “That young woman deserves her dignity and identity.”

Weinstein handed her the phone. Deirdre looked carefully at it, imagining it without the ravages of death. She shook her head.

“Boys? I hate to ask….” Weinstein said, handing it to Burl, who was closest.

“I know her,” Corin said. “I don’t know her name, my friends and I just call her the Running Girl.”

The detective frowned. “What? Why?”

“Because she runs all the time,” Corin replied, with fifteen year old logic.

“Her name is Wendy Hamilton,” Aiden said, choking on the name a little. “She was a senior when I was a freshman. She did girl’s golf and I was on the boy’s team. She was team captain. I had a huge crush. She kissed me once—when I got—I got a hole in one.” Fighting tears, he handed the phone back. His fingers went numb and he dropped it.

Corin caught it, handing it to the police detective.

“You’re sure?” Weinstein made a note.

“Yes. She always wore that necklace. And the earrings…. I gave her those for graduation.”

“When did you last see her?”

“I saw her a few times after her graduation night, three years ago. She went away to school a month or so later. If the birds didn’t get to it….” He swallowed hard, looking like he would vomit. “She has—a heart shaped mole….” He pointed to his left chest. “Under her breast.”

No one asked how he knew. It was obvious that he’d been intimate with the girl.

“She was really sweet. She had a tough life. She liked me because…I was—I was—nice.” He burst into tears.

His brothers hugged him, but he pushed them aside, reaching for his mother. Sobbing, he held her in a death grip. The boys joined them, adding their comfort.

Detective Weinstein put her hand on his shoulder, comfortingly. “I know this is hard for you. I’m sorry I had to ask. Thank you for giving us her identity.” She went to the body, putting on booties and gloves. Taking the crop top in one hand, she lifted gently, pulling the sports bra away from the left breast. Closing her eyes, she dropped her head. “We have positive identification. We need to notify next of kin.” She walked back to Aiden. “Do you know if she had any family?”

He shook his head, wiping his face with his fists. “No. She was an orphan, in the system. She went to away to college, she wanted to be a doctor. I don’t know why she’d be back. I didn’t know she was in town.”

“It’s okay, Aiden. If I have anymore questions, I’ll call you. Meanwhile, if you think of anything else, please call me.” She handed over her card. Turning away, she stopped and came back to Corin. “You said you all called her the Running Girl. How long have you done that?”

“Maybe four months?” Corin thought a moment. “Yeah, she started running right before summer. Every day, early and late, she was out. She was really hot…pretty,” he corrected. “Me and my friends used to wonder why she ran so much. Like she was running away from something. Does that make sense?”

“Yes,” she said quietly. “Did you ever speak to her?”

“Yeah. She looked really hot one day, I mean overheated. We’d been to the skate park and stopped for drinks. She was in the store and didn’t have enough money for a bottle of water, so we pitched in and bought it. Me, Danny and Mike. They live down the street from us. She gave each of us a kiss on the head, even if we were sweaty.” He blushed slightly, remembering.

“Thank you.”

“You think that’s important?” Corin asked.

“I don’t know yet. Maybe. Thank you. Burl, did you know her?”

“No, ma’am. I’m two years younger than Aiden. By the time I got to school, she had graduated. I did see her out running sometimes, but I never spoke to her. I’m sorry.”

“No reason to be sorry. Thank you all for your help. If you’d like to go, Sergeant Waters will let you out up at Twenty-sixth.”

When they got back in the Jeep, Aiden looked green. “Can we go home, Mom? I can’t. I—I can’t….”

“Of course. I don’t suppose the place will fall down without you there.”

“Thank you.” Leaning back, he closed his eyes. Silent tears ran down his cheeks. “She was my first,” he whispered. “And it was beautiful.” Biting his lip, he fought the tears.

“Let them fall, son,” Deirdre said when they were home. “Don’t fight the grief, or it fights you. She meant something to you, and that’s important to acknowledge.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 7

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

At dinner, the boys get in an argument, because Corin told on Aiden. When Deirdre asks him questions about the fight, he tells her the other boy slapped him, he didn’t throw the first punch. After they eat, the boys clean up, and she is able to relax a little.

Once they were done, they settled in the living room to watch some television show they were interested in. Their noise faded to a muffled rumble and Deirdre went back to her writing. It wasn’t going well and she couldn’t settle into it. Reading over what she’d already written, it didn’t seem too bad, but she knew she could do better. Unfortunately, she wasn’t sure how.

It was late when Fred got home. Deirdre was already in bed, but not sleeping.

“I’m sorry,” he said when he got into bed. “I shouldn’t have kept it from you.”

“No, you shouldn’t. Don’t ever do it again.”

“I won’t. I promise. Got a goodnight kiss for me?”

She rolled over. The kiss turned into more. Afterward, they cuddled up and fell asleep.

Fred had to catch a mid-morning flight, and was being picked up by a co-worker. Deirdre took the boys to school, in a dense fog. She needed gas in her Jeep, so she stopped at the corner store for a quick fill-up. The air felt thick, mucky and full of rain. The fog turned to a misty precipitation, one that she had no name for. As she pumped the gas, she saw something by the railroad track, on the opposite side of the street. Black wings flapped and she realized it was vultures. They had to have found something fairly large, there were a lot of them. Shuddering, she ignored them as best she could, and finished up.

“Mom, you see the vultures?” Corin asked, pointing.

“Yes.” She gagged a little.

“Can we go look?”

“Why do you want to look? That’s gross,” Aiden said.

“Because, I just do. What do they call a bunch of vultures?” he asked his mother.

“No idea. You have a phone, look it up.”

He did so. “A Kettle, Committee or Wake. It’s a Wake when they’re feeding. Can we please?”

Since it was the road she’d intended to take anyway, she decided to do so. As they got close to the birds, Corin yelled.

“Slow down! Mom! Stop, it’s a person!”

“What?” She slammed on the brakes.

“I swear. I saw a tennis shoe and something bright pink. Like running pants. Mom, it’s a person!”

“Oh, dear God. Do you suppose? They can’t be alive?” She gulped hard, pulling out her phone.

“They sometimes start to feed before something is dead,” Burl remarked in a dark tone.

“Hello, Police?” Deirdre said, averting her eyes. “I think there’s a dead body on the side of the railroad track. It’s the intersection of Thirtieth and Hibiscus. Yes. I can stay.”

Gagging again, she hung up and pulled onto the other side of the road to park. Her next call was to the school, excusing her boys for the day. She didn’t give any reason, merely said it was personal family business. Finally, she tried to call Fred, but he didn’t pick up. He probably wasn’t able to, given the fact he was at the airport by now, and probably just going through security.

Don’t they make you turn off phones these days?

A police car pulled up, cutting off the road behind her. Another cordoned off the crossroad a few blocks up. Deirdre was caught between. Had she been a criminal, this would have upset her. As it was, she had to wonder how she would get out when they let her go. That was a later worry. While she’d been distracted, she saw that her boys had gathered outside the Jeep, watching the police officers in action.

Two blond officers were stringing yellow crime tape. A dark haired woman crouched by the body. Deirdre could see that clearly now. The birds had been driven off, but they kept circling, ever hopeful. Corin snapped a few pictures until Aiden took his phone.

“This is personal,” he said softly. “You can’t share that girl’s pain.”

It was clearly a young woman. She wasn’t very tall, but was voluptuous of build, dressed in a skimpy pair of shorts and a cropped tank top, wearing running shoes. Her clothing was torn and bloody. Her long, blonde hair lay in tangles around her head. Fortunately, the vultures must just have found her, because she wasn’t too badly damaged by the carrion birds. It still turned Deirdre’s stomach and she was glad to be upwind.

A tall, dark haired woman got out of a plain, gray car. Carrying a pad and pen, she walked over to Deirdre’s car. Smiling, hand out, she introduced herself.

“I’m Detective Weinstein. You’re the lady who called this in?”

“Deirdre Partridge. My sons, Aiden, Burl and Corin. Corin spotted the girl’s clothing, so we stopped.”

Weinstein nodded, scribbling notes. “Do you know the woman?”

“I can’t really see her,” Deirdre said. “And unless you want your crime scene puked on, I’ll stay here. If you have a picture?”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 6

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Cover image from Free Stock Photos: Railroad Track On A Fall Day by Curtis Dean Wilson

After finding out that Aiden had been fighting in school, Deirdre explains to Corin why she hates it so much. Her father was abusive, and she grew up watching him hit her mother and brothers. She also tells him she’s decided to write a book. He tells her she should write about her life in an abusive home.

“The system fails a lot. You should write about that.” He nodded sharply, emphasizing his words.

“I just might. Meanwhile, will you help me get a salad together? I need to start the bread and pasta.”

“Sure.” Corin hopped up, giving her a hand. “It’s gonna be okay, Mom. Dad’s got another setup?”

“In Minnesota. Leaves tomorrow. We thought it was next week.”

“Oh, well.” He shrugged.

“I’ll be glad when you three can get yourselves up and out the door without me.”

“We could, we’re just lazy.”

“Really?” Raising a sarcastic eyebrow, she led him to the kitchen.

“Yeah, we’d be late, and probably kill each other, but we could.”

“Good to know.”

They got dinner finished and called the other two to the table. The older two boys wouldn’t talk to each other. Deirdre got the impression they’d gotten into a text war. They did that, when confined to their rooms. Fortunately, the silence wasn’t too uncomfortable. She and Corin had an interesting conversation, at least to them, about the invasion of the water hyacinth. He was already interested in ecology and marine biology, but wasn’t sure which to focus his attention on. This invasive plant had decidedly caught his interest.

“I have to do a science experiment,” he told his mother. “I want to do it on the water hyacinth. I talked to Mr. Moody about it. He said he has the equipment and can get other stuff that I need. I can set it up there, and monitor it daily after school.”

“What about golf?” Aiden snarled.

“This won’t be until after golf season. I won’t miss.”

“Too bad,” his eldest brother muttered.

“What was that?” Deirdre cupped her ear. “Did I hear you say something nasty about your little brother?”

“He’s the one who told!” Aiden jabbed a finger at Corin. “Worm! Twat! Traitor!”

“Enough!” Deirdre bellowed. “I won’t have this kind of anger in my home. You knew better than to fight. You knew better than to cover it up. You can be sure that your father and I are going to talk more about this. I’m furious! I won’t have you hitting people for no reason.”

“He came at me, Mom,” Aiden said. “And he said all kinds of things. Bad things. I was defending myself.”

“What did he say?”

“He called me a faggot. And said I f**ked boys. I’m not gay!” he yelled. “I don’t do any of that.”

“He said that to get a rise out of you. Did you throw the first punch?”

“He slapped me, Mom. Slapped me! Who the hell does that? So I slugged him in the nuts.”

Deirdre could understand his anger and retaliation, but she’d taken a stand on no fighting. She wouldn’t back down. But being slapped was horribly insulting. Her father used to slap her mother and call her a whore and a slut. She hadn’t know the words, as a child, but knew they were bad.

“Those are words,” she said calmly. “Words can’t hurt you. The slap…I concede the slap. That’s terrible. But son—a nut punch? Risky. Better to hit the solar plexus and hit him on the back of the head when he’s going down. Maybe slam his face into your knee.” She picked up dishes, carrying them to the sink.

“What—did you just…. What?”

“I didn’t stutter. I’m not saying you shouldn’t defend yourself. Sometimes, you have to. But don’t you dare initiate it, or I’ll beat you down myself.”

Aiden snorted. Deirdre grabbed her son, nearly a foot taller than she, and pulled his hand behind his back, pushing his upper body down.

“Tell me you don’t think I can, and I’ll prove it to you.”

“Mom! Shit!” He patted her calf, surrendering.

Deirdre let him up. “I know how to protect myself. I had to learn. But you don’t use your skills in anger. In self-defense, or when protecting someone else, violence is understandable. Never, ever use your skills to bully someone else.”

“No, ma’am,” he responded automatically. “Never.”

“Good. Then I taught you something.”

Aiden hugged her. “You taught me a lot, Mom. Why don’t you go watch Netflix. We’ll clean up.”

“Corin helped prepare.”

“Then Burl and I will.”

His middle brother had already started putting the leftovers away. Working as a team, they took care of things while she went to her computer. Corin pitched in and helped his brothers. She could hear them talking and laughing over the sound of running water and clattering dishes.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Dakota Livingston’s whole world has been turned upside down… Losing You -Book 2 by Amanda Mackey

Dellani's Choice - Books

Losing You Amanda Mackey coverAfter realizing she’s the sole survivor of a plane crash—the plane that was to take her to her injured father—her will to live is put to the test as she floats out at sea for days with no water or food.

Ready to give up, she’s rescued by some fisherman from a nearby island. Waking up, not knowing where she is and with no communication with the outside world, Dakota befriends a 12 year old native boy who has secrets hauntingly similar to her own. As their friendship grows it becomes clear just how similar their lives are. In a race against time, with recovery underway, Dakota is desperate to save Daniel from his own demons and return to the love of her life who has given her up for dead. Can one woman’s sheer grit and determination overcome all odds?

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Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 5

sidetracked resizedOnce they get home, Deirdre finds out why Burl and Aiden are mad at each other. Corin spills the beans. It involves two women and a car. She also finds out that Aiden had gotten in trouble for fighting at school, and Fred had purposely kept it from her. Angry, she sends them to their rooms. She’s not happy when Fred calls a little while later, and gives him hell. When he tells her that he has to leave the following day, instead of next week, she’s extremely irritated.

“How long will you be gone?”

“About a week?”

“You don’t know, or you’re scared to tell me?”

“Kinda scared, Dee. You sound pissed.”

“Aiden got in a fight, and you didn’t tell me?”

He sighed. “Who ratted?”

“Corin. You can’t keep things like that from me. That’s serious!”

“It’s a guy thing.”

“Oh, bullshit! Don’t give me that line. You and the boys claim that every time something comes up—”

“I need to go, honey.”

“Don’t you honey me, Fredrick! You know how I feel about fighting!”

“I really do….”

“You hang up on me, it will be worse when you get home.”

He sighed again. “Yes, ma’am,” he said in a patient tone.

“Don’t pull that shit, either.”

“I’m not saying anything.”

“How can you trot out the words that are most likely to put me in orbit? I’m furious, and you aren’t taking me seriously.”

“Kinda hard to take you seriously when you get that tone, Dee.”

“This tone?” she screeched. “You mean the tone where I scream at you, and your boys, for being completely brainless, Neanderthals?”

“That’s the one, my luscious harpy.”

“F**k off, Freddy.” She hung up. He hated being called Freddy, his nickname since childhood.

Forgetting her book, she put her head down on her arms, sobbing. A warm hand touched her shoulder and she looked up to see Corin. He squeezed her arm, smiling.

“It’s okay, Mom. We’re all a bunch of brainless zombies.”

She chuckled a little, wiping her eyes. “Are you too old to hug your mournful mom?”

He stepped closer and she buried her face in his belly, hugging tightly. He hugged her, less tightly, but he was a comfort.

“I’m sorry I said anything.”

“I’m glad you did,” she sniffled, looking up at him. “You know how I feel about fighting.”

He nodded. “I remember. But I don’t really know why.” He sat on the floor at her feet.

“When I was a girl, my father used to hit my mom.”

“Grandpa?” His eyes got wide with disbelief.

“Oh, no. The man you know as Grandpa is my stepfather. My biological father was a mean man, a drunk and a drug addict. He used to beat me and my brothers, too. Never had a good word to say, always reacted with violence. It made my brothers so mean, they would pick fights with other kids, and bully them. They were big, too. Especially Uncle Doc. He almost killed another boy, because they were fighting over something stupid. He was your age, and Aiden’s size. He broke the boy’s jaw, knocked out some teeth, and damaged his eye. The boy lost his sight.”

“Oh, f**k!”

Deirdre frowned and he apologized.

“So, what happened to your dad?”

“He left. When I was sixteen, he got into a fight with Uncle Doc. He was nearly twenty at the time, and at his full size. My dad wasn’t much taller than you, and flabby. I thought he was going to kill Daddy with his fists.” She covered her face, shuddering. “It was horrible. Our father grabbed his keys and left. He never came back.”

“I didn’t know, Mom. I don’t remember you ever telling me that before.”

“I probably didn’t. It’s not a happy memory.”

“I don’t suppose it is.” He glanced at the computer. “What are you writing?”

“I decided to write a book.”

“No kidding? What about?” He squatted next to the desk, reading. “This isn’t half bad, Mom.”

“Didn’t think your mother could write, huh?”

“Didn’t figure you for the literary type. What kind of book is it?”

“I thought I’d write about something important, dealing with social issues.”

“You should write about your life, your family. I know lots of kids whose parents are divorced, or never married. I know a couple from abusive homes, too.”

“That’s terrible. You’d think the state could do something.”

“The system fails a lot. You should write about that.” He nodded sharply, emphasizing his words.

“I just might. Meanwhile, will you help me get a salad together? I need to start the bread and pasta.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 4

sidetracked resizedAfter Fred leaves for work, Deirdre settles down to try to write. It doesn’t go awfully well. Waiting in parent pickup after school, she tries again. Once the boys arrives, she senses tension between them.

Deirdre glanced at him in the mirror while she was stopped at the light. “What happened?”

Burl glared at his brother, then turned away to stare out the window.

“Molly Finch,” Corin said, for once, not teasing. “You can tell, or I will,” he said to Burl. “Cause Mom needs to know.”

“Needs to know what? He’s a whiny baby?” Aiden said.

“No. That you’re a supreme dick,” Burl shot back, throwing a punch at his brother from the back seat.

“Enough!” Deirdre yelled. “Shut up! We’ll discuss this when we get home. In the meantime, could you refrain from fratricide until we’re out of the public eye. It’s awfully hard to cover that shit up when you’re driving down the road.”

It seemed to take forever to get home. They hit every red light. The ominous silence resonated in the Jeep, threatening to implode. They pulled up in the garage and Aiden hopped out of the Jeep, heading outside.

“Hold up, boy!” Deirdre called after him. “You and your brother have some explaining to do.”

Rather than argue, he followed them in the house.

“Sit. Talk,” their mother commanded. “Starting with Corin, speak.”

“Aid was nasty as shit to Burl, today at lunch. Molly Finch, she’s the younger sister of Lance’s girlfriend, Allie,” Corin explained. “She’s Burl’s age. She invited him to go with her to lunch, cause Lance said she could invite a friend. But Aiden was going, and didn’t want Burl. He wanted to take some skank.”

“She’s not a skank!” Aiden yelled.

“Some skank,” Corin continued, holding up his hand to shut his brother up. “And Lance hadn’t even said he could. So he got mad and told Burl, no. And he made Molly go without Burl, and took some girl he wants to bang.”

Deirdre blinked, taking a deep breath. There were a lot of things wrong with that, not the least of which was Corin’s language. It also took a second or two to work through his syntax, which was in fifteen-speak.

“You don’t use that word,” she corrected. “Bang is crude. Have sex with….”

“Sounds creepy and adult….” Burl began.

“And more accurate,” she interrupted her middle son. “Let me get this straight. Aiden controlled this decision? Where was Lance, wasn’t it his car?”

“Yeah, but he won’t stand up to Aiden. No one does, cause he can whoop everyone one handed,” Corin sounded awed by his brother’s kick-ass skill.

“Is that true? Are you fighting people, now?”

“No one has challenged him in ages,” Burl said. “Not since what’s his f**k….”

Aiden silenced his brother with a loud, sharp hiss.

“What whose f**k?” Deirdre asked, not unmindful of her own poor syntax.

“Torrance Crawford,” Corin supplied. “He made the mistake of getting up in Aiden’s face last year. Aid flattened him.”

“Why don’t I know this? Doesn’t the school call?”

“They did. Dad took the call,” Corin said.

Aiden punched his brother. “Thanks for that. We invoked the Bro Code on that one, Cor.”

“Burl brought it up.”

“Shut up!” Deirdre yelled. “Enough. Rooms. All of you. Any plans you had, canceled.”

“What did I do?” Burl squeaked.

“I don’t care. I’m furious with all of you. Get out of my sight. Rooms. Now.” Holding her head, she closed her eyes. Think what fun Fred will miss while he’s gone. I wish I could go instead.

With her mind on other matters, she threw together some spaghetti for dinner and got out a loaf of frozen garlic bread. Once it was set on a tray, she went back to her computer. Suddenly, a sentence popped in her mind. She couldn’t wait to write it down. Repeating it over and over, she memorized it so that it would be in her mind when she got her program open.

Busily typing away, she was annoyed when the house phone rang. Glancing at it, she saw it was Fred calling from work. He’d had lunch already, what could he want?

“Yes?”

“Hey, babe.” He sounded tired, not common for him. “Bad news on that setup. I have to go early tomorrow.”

“What? Why?”

“No idea. I think we were given the wrong date. That is, apparently, opening.”

“How long will you be gone?”

“About a week?”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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