Tag Archive | Bad Fall

Something to Be Happy About!

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse StairwayI’m excited! I finally got my elderly copy of Photo Explosion to work again! YAY! This means I can work on covers for a few of my books. That may not sound all that exciting to others, but to me, it’s thrilling. I’ve been wanting to get Bad Fall out (maybe with an extra something at the end – hint hint) and haven’t been able to get the quality of lettering I want. I can’t afford to pay someone to do it for me, so I’m stuck with doing it myself.

I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of my cover for Bad Fall, which I will present all in good time. I haven’t decided when I’m bringing it out, still doing final edits, etc, so it will probably be a couple months at least. However, got the husband and son seal of approval on the cover, so now the real business begins. Wish me luck!

Bad Fall Links

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse StairwayBad Fall Links

Bad Fall is a Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes set in small town Ohio. Frank Atherton is ex-military. After several tours of duty, he has finally come home and hopes to leave a quiet, if boring life. It seems to be working for him, until Ralph Penwarren shows up. Then, Frank’s life becomes total chaos. The only bright spot in all the darkness is the new psychologist on the staff, Marka Ventimiglia. She and Frank find out that they are irrevocably hooked on one another. Even so, Frank’s in for a Bad Fall.






































































































Bad Fall’s Finished, What’s Next?

Dellani Oakes with glassesBad Fall is over and I am a little bit sad. Of all the romantic suspense novels I’ve written, it’s one of my favorites. Never fear, the characters of Marka and Frank have another shot at action in a work in progress, A Matter of Time.

Liz may be out of commission, but that doesn’t mean that her co-conspirators are. Can Frank and Marka stop them before anyone else dies? Or is it only a matter of time before they, too, become victims?

Usually, when deciding on a new book to share, I ask for input from my readers, but I’ve decided what story I want to use. Snowed a favorite of mine and it’s a little different from my other romantic suspense novels.




snowed cover image for blog

Michael Reuben’s having a birthday. Not quite 30, he never thought he’d be where he is—driving aschool bus in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It wasn’t his career goal, or even his original destination. He planned to drive to Alaska, putting the better part of the continent between him and his interfering mother. His car broke down in Cheyenne and he decided to stay.

Big Mike’s got a problem, several, actually. First of all, his mother has decided to drive from New York to Cheyenne and she’s bringing a friend with her—a man. Second, he’s had the best night of his life with a woman whose name and face he can’t remember (too much tequila can do that to a man). He calls her the Mystery Date. He may not remember her, but she decidedly remembers him! Third, and most important, someone has started harassing him and he doesn’t know why. Since the incidents are escalating, he wants to find out who’s after him before they manage to kill him!

Starting October 31, because that’s Big Mike’s birthday, I’ll share Snowed every Wednesday and Sunday. In the meantime, watch this space for information and excerpts from my newest novel, Conduct Unbecoming which was released October 3, 2014.

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Bad Fall – Conclusion

Bad FallFrank meets his son, Elijah, and has a conversation with Britt for the first time since high school. She tells him what happened that night, that they had both been drugged by other students. He tells her he’ll help out with Eli’s expenses and offers her the job she needed at Sheltering Oaks.

Britt blushed, ducking her head. “Actually, I like women. I did back in school too, but didn’t want to admit it. I think that’s another reason the guys did that to us. They thought it would be funny.”

“I’d like to rip their balls off and stuff them up their noses,” Frank replied calmly. “Do you know who it was?”

“Yeah. But promise you won’t get violent.”

Frank shook his head. “No. That’s behind me. But there are other ways to get even that don’t require violence. I have a few friends in high places who owe me some favors. If you ever want to get even, you let me know and I’ll go Federal on ’em.”

Britt laughed. “You’re a unique man, Frank Atherton.”

“Thanks. You’re a pretty unique woman, Britt.”

Marka and Eli came in, breathless and laughing. “Can we stay for dinner, Mom? Marka asked us. She said they had more food than they could eat in a month and they need my help.”

“Sure! Can I help in the kitchen?” she asked Marka.

“I’d love it. Frank’s a good helper, but right now, he’s more of a menace.”

“Oh, thanks, babe. Love you too.”

Eli plopped down on the couch opposite Frank. He stared at his father. “So, you’re my dad, huh?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Why didn’t you ever see me before?”

“Your mom chose not to tell me you were born.”

Eli nodded, taking that in. “Did you love my mom?”

Frank wasn’t sure how to answer that, but chose to be honest. “No. We knew each other in school and we were friends for awhile.”

“That’s okay,” Eli said. “Can we be friends now?”

“I’d like that a lot. I think you’ve got a lot you can teach me.”

“Yeah? Like what?”

Frank pulled out the PSP. “Like how to up my score on Grand Theft Auto.”

“Dude, I rock that game!”

Frank tossed the PSP to him. “Good, cause I’m terrible at it.”

He sat by his son and the boy explained different facets of the game. About half an hour later, Marka stuck her head out of the kitchen.

“Dinner’s almost ready. Go wash up.”

Both brown heads popped up, nearly touching. Two pairs of deep brown eyes lit up and they flashed identical smiles. Marka’s eyes watered as she gazed at Frank. He looked so joyful with his son. She wasn’t jealous, she was delighted that he’d found the boy after so many years. She looked forward to the time when they would have their own children and they would grow up, knowing their older brother.

“Yes, ma’am,” Frank said. He tousled Eli’s hair.

The boy ducked his head away, laughing. “Yes, ma’am? What are you, in the Army?”


“Did you ever shoot anyone?”

“One day, I’ll tell you all about it. Meanwhile, I’m hungry and the women will be angry if we don’t hurry up.”

“They won’t mind.”

“Son, first rule of dealing with women, do what they tell you when they tell you.”


“Because they will make you miserable if you don’t.”


Frank laughed, winking at Marka. “One day, I’ll tell you about that too.”


Bad Fall – Part 101

Bad FallHome and settling in, Frank takes a rest. When he wakes, Marka tells him he has guests.

Frank walked into the living room a few minutes later, his hair and teeth brushed. A vaguely familiar blonde sat on the couch next to a dark eyed teenager. She stood when he came in the room, looking ready to bolt. Marka took her hand and she sat again.

“Hi, Frank.”

“Britt?” He smiled, walking over to her. He took her hand, shaking it. “It’s strangely good to see you.”

“I have someone you need to meet,” she said shyly. “This is Elijah. Your son.”

The boy stood, holding out his hand. He looked so solemn, Frank tried to match it. He took the proffered, shaking it firmly.

“Hello, Elijah. It’s good to meet you.”


“I’m sorry I never told you, Frank. After what happened. . . . I was too embarrassed. I was too ashamed to admit.”

“Britt, it’s okay. . . .”

“No, it isn’t! I’m sorry.” She turned to Marka. “Would you mind taking Eli outside? I need to talk to Frank.”

“I’d be happy to. Do you like horseshoes, Eli?”

“I never tried.”

“I’ll teach you.” She took him out.

Once the door closed, Britt relaxed a little, but she sat with her hands in her lap, wringing her hands.

“You need to know what happened that night. It wasn’t your fault—and it wasn’t mine. Some of the guys thought it would be funny to drug us. They gave you god knows what in your drink and they gave me something too. I don’t know what it was, but it made me wild. I did unspeakable things that night. I know I traumatized you, because it traumatized me too. I almost aborted Eli, but I just couldn’t do it. My parents wanted me to put him up for adoption and I almost did.”

She started to cry. Frank found tissues and gave her the box. Britt blew her nose and dabbed her eyes.

“See, he wouldn’t eat. The nurses and the adoptive parents all tried. He refused to eat and they were afraid he’d die. So they brought him to me. I gave him his bottle and I bonded with him. I had to keep him after that.”

“That had to be hard.”

“It was. My parents and aunt helped me a lot, but it was difficult to go to college and be a new mom. I finally dropped out. When he got into school, I went back and finished my degree. But I couldn’t get a job anywhere.”

“So you came home.”

She nodded, sobbing. “And I applied for a job at Sheltering Oaks. I didn’t know you were working there. When I found out I’d have to interview with you, I panicked.”

“I’m sorry you thought I wouldn’t help,” he said gently. “If you’d just told me, Britt.”

“I know. I see that now. But I didn’t know what you were like anymore. You were such a nice guy in school. But nice teenagers don’t always grow up to be nice men.”

Frank nodded, chuckling. “True.”

“But Eli has some weird health problems. The doctor finally told me he has hemochro. . . . hemo. . . .”


“Yes, how did you know?”

“I have it. It’s hereditary. Is it bad?”

“No. With medication and diet, we can control it. But it gets expensive, all the doctors.”

“I know. I want to help out, Britt.”

“I don’t want you to think I’m just after you for money. I don’t want child support, Frank. That’s not why I’m here. I heard about what happened. I thought Eli should meet his father. I kept you two apart too long. I’m sorry. That was my own fear and insecurity. A boy should know his father.”

“I agree.”

“Do you think Marka will mind?”

“She won’t mind. I’ll be willing to bet they’re best buddies before they come in.”

Britt smiled. “I still need that job, Frank. I’ll work hard. . . .”

“It’s yours. Whatever you applied for. I’ll put Eli on my insurance and help with medical expenses.”

“You don’t have to, Frank.”

“I want to. After everything that’s happened, I’ve figured out how important family and friends are. I mean, I knew before, but when someone steps in and saves your life, it gives a different perspective. I want to help and I want to give my son the advantages I had. It doesn’t matter how we conceived him, he’s a part of us.”

“You’re a good man, Frank. Marka is a very lucky woman.”

“Thank you. I hope you’ll find the right man one day.”

© Dellani Oakes

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Bad Fall – Part 100

Bad FallFrank is on the mend, but not quite able to return to work. However, as predicted, he’s already driving Marka crazy and going stir crazy.

They drove in the gate of Sheltering Oaks and the road was lined with signs and banners of all sizes and colors. Each of them welcomed Frank home. They drove up to the small house. Several people stood in the driveway, among them were Paula, Jennifer and her two boys. Friends and family did their best to get Frank in the house and settled. They didn’t stay long, knowing that he was tired, but stayed longer than he wanted.

They had enough food to feed an army for a month as well as all the comforts of home. Someone had even picked up Frank’s dry cleaning, so he had a few clean suits for when he went back to work. There was a note there from Mabel, asking him to call when he felt up to it. Rather than wait, he gave his great-grandmother a call.

“So, you’re really all right,” she said by way of greeting.

“I really am.”

“Don’t scare an old lady like that, Frankie.”

“Never my intention, Mabel. You know I love you.”

“I do. And I love you, my darling boy. When you’re feeling well, you bring that lovely girl here to see me. I have something for you.”

“Will do, Mabel.”

“Love to you!” She hung up.

Frank did well for two days of confinement. By the third, he was champing at the bit to be active, so Marka got him tucked into the car and drove him to his office. He was greeted like a king and ushered into Jeff’s office.

“What the hell?” He was shocked when he saw his name on the door.

“You got a promotion yesterday,” Marka said. “Mabel talked to the board and convinced them to give you Jeff’s job. You did it anyway and now that he’s in jail, the position came empty.”

“Who has my old job?”

Kenny waved from the doorway. “Seems I’m overqualified for maintenance.”

“Couldn’t have picked a better man. Good to have you on board.”

“Your first official day back isn’t until Monday,” Marka reminded Frank as he headed to his desk. “And all that can wait until then.”

“You take all the fun out of a day out,” he pouted.

“We’re due to see Mabel. So hoist up your tight tush and come with me.”

“Yes, ma’am. I know better than to argue with you. You’ll kick my tight tush from here to Alabama and back.”

“And don’t you forget it.”

They walked over to see Mabel. By the time they got there, Frank was hurting. He sank gratefully into Mabel’s comfortable recliner. Rachel was there and served tea on Mabel’s China. Frank sipped from the delicate cup, worried he might drop it. Marka and Rachel pulled up folding chairs next to him.

“I’ve called you here for several reasons,” Mabel said. “For one, I’m making you executor of my will. Not that I expect to die anytime soon, but it’s best to plan ahead. I’ve also split my money between you, your sister and your three cousins. I’ve also left money in trust for their children and any you might have.”

She smiled, her eyes twinkling as she gazed at Frank and Marka. “Now, for the fun part. Rachel?”

Rachel reached into the drawer of Mabel’s dresser and handed Frank two boxes. “Open the blue one first.”

Inside was a lovely ring set. One band was platinum and crusted with rubies. The other ring was also platinum and had a large, circular diamond in a Tiffany setting. On either side, more ruby and diamond chips glittered.

“This was my ring set when I married my Tommy. I want you to have it for Marka. Now, open the other one.”

Inside was the huge ring from Tom. “I know you don’t want to wear anything that big,” Mabel told Marka. “But I wanted you and Frankie to have it. For one thing, I know he’ll keep Ralph from getting his chubby hands on it. Now that you’ve got a ring, my lad, you make this official.” She folded her hands in her lap, staring expectantly at Frank.

“I can’t get down on one knee right now, Mabel. I’ll fall down.”

“The position isn’t as important as the words.” She pursed her lips and nodded at him.

Frank laughed. Taking the engagement ring from the box, he held Marka’s hand in his. “Marka Ventimiglia, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”

“Francis Atherton, I’d be delighted.”

He slipped the ring on her finger and kissed her. Mabel and Rachel clapped. They didn’t stay long. Frank could tell Mabel was tired after the excitement. To be honest, he was tired himself. He agreed to let Marka borrow a wheelchair to take him to the car. When they got home, he lay down on the bed and fell asleep. Marka woke him a few hours later.

“Hey, love. We’ve got company.”

“Yeah? Is it my folks?”

“No. I think you need to come out and see.”

“Let me brush my teeth. I’ve got megadeath breath.”

“Okay. We’ll be waiting.”

© Dellani Oakes

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Bad Fall – Part 99

With Liz in custody, Frank and Marka can finally relax a little. He’s still in the Bad Fallhospital, but decidedly on the mend.

“Where is Liz?” Marka asked.

“On her way to Elkton Federal Correctional Institute.”

“That’s a men’s prison,” Frank said.

“They’re doing me a solid,” Shay replied. “They’ll keep her there until she can be transferred to the nearest women’s facility. Meanwhile, she’s out of our hair.”

“Any clue yet who she was working with?”

“None. But you can be sure that when she sees what kind of time she’s facing, she’ll talk. Meanwhile, more interesting things to talk about. Clark, tell them about Ralph Penwarren.”

“Seems our Uncle Ralphie has been playing high and loose with his mother’s money. Fortunately, enough of her assets are tied up in investments, he couldn’t get his hands on it all, but he put a sizable dent in it.”

“Mabel’s not broke, is she?” Frank asked, worried.

“Not by a long shot, but she did drop from billionaire status. Not by much and should pop back in a couple years.”

“Why was he after the ring?”

“Seems he invested poorly—his horses failed to come in. He’d run up a lot of debt. The ring would have made him enough money to clear his debt and live high for quite awhile. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get it and his contact wanted to make a point. So he pushed him off the balcony. We checked the video feed.”

“I don’t remember a camera in that stairwell.”

“There’s not. It’s outside, but covers the door. All that glass, though, it got a clear shot.”

“It wasn’t Jeff?”

“No. He’s a vandal, but he’s not an attempted murder. He was syphoning money out of dozens of accounts and we’ve put a stop to that.” He wiggled his fingers as if typing on a keyboard. “I have a few mad skills left.”

“How are Brad and Cherry?” Marka asked.

“They’ll be okay. They’re in the ICU for the night, but the doctor is confident they’ll pull through.”

“Excellent news.”

“Now it’s time for us to go,” Shay said. “We have an investigation to run and heads to lop off at the shoulder.” He rubbed his hands together. “What fun!” He gave each of them a hug. Marka, he gave a kiss on the cheek. “You take good care of our Frank. Oh, by the way, where did you leave the journals?No one can find them.”

“I dropped them off at the bank. They have a secure holding area for sensitive items and I asked if they would let me leave something for a couple days. They said sure. We can retrieve your evidence tomorrow.”

“Quick thinking, Marka. Thank you.”

Clark shook Frank’s hand and hugged Marka.

“Thank you, Marka. You’ve been a great help.”

“Thank you too, Clark. You’re a pretty nice guy—for a spook.”

“We’re really going to have to upgrade your vocabulary one of these days.” He kissed her cheek. “You kicked some serious ass, lady. Remind me never to make you that mad.”

“I don’t think you possibly could.”

The men bid farewell and left. Frank patted the bed.

“Where were we?”

A nurse popped in, smiling. “Time to check your vitals, Mr. Atherton.”

“Are you all ever gonna leave us in peace so I can give my woman a kiss?”

The nurse grinned. “No. This is a hospital. You want privacy, go to a motel.” She giggled when Frank grumbled. “You’re gonna have fun when you get him home,” she said to Marka. “He’s gonna be a great patient.”

“No, he’ll be horrible, but he makes up for it by being adorable and very good in bed.”

“You have to tell the nurse that?” Frank flopped back on his pillows.

“Why not? The Alzheimer’s group already knows and the girls at the facility figured it out.”

“I don’t really want the entire world to know, okay?”

“Why not? I thought you’d be pleased.” Marka fixed him with her dark eyes, arms crossed over her chest.

“Don’t want a bunch of pushy, jealous women up in my bidniss,” Frank teased.

“You’d love it.”


Once the nurse left, Marka dimmed the lights and cuddled up next to him until he fell asleep. She made up her bed and lay down, trying to get comfortable on the hard mattress. Eventually she slept, marginally aware of the people who came and went during the night, checking on Frank.

In the morning, Paula and Tom showed up with breakfast. Rochelle dropped by later with Marka’s keys and James brought a basket of goodies from the police department. The doctor dropped by around noon and started the check out process. James and Tom showed up in order to give them a ride home.

© Dellani Oakes

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Bad Fall – Part 98

Bad FallKnowing they have nowhere to live, James is trying to figure out where Frank and Marka can actually go home to when Frank is released from the hospital.

“I think that’s up to Frank and Marka,” Tom said.

“I hadn’t thought that far. I hate to take him back to the tiny apartment,” Marka said.

“Kenny told me that one of the villas is empty right now. The new residents won’t be moving in for a month. If you don’t mind camping with secondhand furniture, he and the maintenance crew can get stuff and furnish it for you and move your stuff,” James told them.

“James, that would be wonderful. Tell Kenny thank you.” Marka kissed his cheek.

“You got it. What are best friends for?”

Marka took him in her arms, holding him close. “You’re the best friend ever. You helped save his life today. Thank you.” She kissed both his cheeks and planted a lingering one on his forehead. “Thank you.” She burst into tears, her hand over her mouth.

Paula enfolded her in her arms and the two women cried while the men looked on.

“I’ll never understand why they’re crying now,” Tom said quietly. “The worst part is over.”

James grinned, shaking his head. “I dunno, man. But does it matter?”

“No.” Tom laughed.

The two men went outside for James to make his phone call and Tom to get a smoke. When they came back in, the women were dry eyed and smiling. Rochelle had helped to calm them down. She offered to drive Marka to the facility to get her things for the night.

“Oh, my car!” Marka suddenly remember that it was still in Canton at the courthouse.

“Give me your keys, sugar. I’ll have a friend of mine help me get it back here.”

“Thank you so much, Rochelle! You’re a wonderful friend too. I don’t know how to thank you.”

“You invite me to the wedding.” She smirked.

“Better yet, you’ll be the maid of honor. We haven’t set a date yet. We aren’t even officially engaged.”

“You will be. You give that man a chance to heal up. You’ll be engaged all over the place.”

When Marka got back to the hospital, Frank was in his room. He was asleep when she came in, but woke while she was getting ready for bed. He held out his hand to her.

“Hey, babe. I’m glad you’re back.”

“Miss me?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe. You know what’s amazing? I don’t feel her in my head anymore. All this time, she’s been there—all these years. I remembered what really happened that day. I made all the plans, I oversaw it all, but Liz wanted to be involved. I told her I had it under control, but she insisted that Shay wanted her to.”

“You know he didn’t.”

“I know that now. At the time, I assumed she was telling the truth.”

“So, she’s the one who set up Clay and the others.”

“Yes. I still don’t know who she’s working with. I never knew that. But I remember that now. I also know where they took me for three days and what they did.” He shuddered, going pale. “I hope one day I can forget that. No one should have done to them what they did to me. Not even the Devil himself deserves that. It’s amazing I came back with any mind at all.”

“You don’t have to talk about this right now, Frank.”

“No, but I will one day. I’ll tell you everything. I just wanted you to know that I remember.”

“I’m glad.” She cuddled up next to him.

“I remember something else,” he said, his voice deepening.

“Yeah, what’s that?”

“I remember what it’s like to make love to you. To hold you and kiss you and make you scream.” His lips brushed hers.

The door burst open and Colonel Shay marched in with Clark behind him. “Frank, glad to see you’re on the mend.”

“Who let you in?”

“I let myself in. You gonna throw me out?”

Frank laughed as Shay shadowboxed. Marka hadn’t noticed before, but most of the Colonel’s bulk was solid muscle. He wasn’t in uniform. He and Clark wore civilian clothing and looked oddly uncomfortable. Clark handed Marka a bouquet of flowers and he handed Frank a small package. When he opened it, Frank found a PlayStation Portable and a variety of games. Frank laughed, holding up the PSP like a badge of honor.

“You remembered! I remembered!”

“That’s what friends are for, Frank. We used to share one when we were working together,” Clark explained. “Frank held the record for lamest score possible in Grand Theft Auto.”

“Untrue, that was Phil. Mine was second lowest.” His eyes saddened. “Is he okay?”

“He will be, in time,” Shay replied, his voice soft. “He’s in the psych ward at the V.A. Hospital. I wanted to pick Marka’s brain in a few days, have you do a consult with the doctors there.”

“You know I’ll do anything to help him. He came through for me when I needed him most. Liz and her goons would have killed me otherwise.”

“He’s not gonna do time?” Frank sounded worried.

“No. We all know Liz did something to him, just like she did you.”

© Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

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Bad Fall – Part 97

Frank’s back in the hospital. Soon, a young woman comes out asking for Frank’s Bad Fallfamily.

“I’m Doctor Frampton. He’s doing fine. He’ll need to be here overnight so we can keep an eye on him, but he’s doing amazingly well. We’ve been looking for him since he walked out a few hours ago. The police have been searching everywhere.”

“Can we see him?” Paula asked.

“Yes, a couple at a time. You’re his parents?”

Tom and Paula nodded.

“And this is his fiancée.”

“Is one of you Jimmy?”

“I am,” James stepped forward.

“He’s been asking for you and Mark?”

“Marka,” James corrected. “His fiancée.”

“Oh!” The young woman giggled.

“Let his parents go in first,” Marka said.

“You and Polly go,” Tom said. “Jimmy and I can wait.”

The women followed the doctor into the cubicle where Frank lay. He was still pale, but the dark circles had receded. His face no longer looked drawn and his color had improved. He had an IV in his arm as well as a blood pressure cuff and a pulse rate monitor on his finger. His smile was a little dimmer than usual, but the dark brown eyes sparkled when he saw his mother and Marka.

Paula dashed to his bed, flinging herself across his chest. “You come home after nearly getting yourself blown to bits and I think I don’t have to worry anymore. And here you are, all messed up again. What am I going to do with you?” She hugged him fiercely.

“You’re gonna have to let up on me, Mom. You’re gonna kill me,” Frank gasped.

Paula let him go, laughing at herself. “See what you’re like when you’re a mother.”

“Yeah, that’ll happen one day.”

Frank’s sarcastic tone wasn’t lost on his mother. She swatted at him, tapping his arm.

“You know what I mean. Oh, Frankie!” She burst into tears.

Marka let his mother monopolize him for a few minutes. He’d been her son longer than he’d been Marka’s boyfriend. Every part of her hungered to touch him, but she wasn’t going to deny his mother’s need for assurance.

“I’m going to let Marka have you now. I need to call Mabel. She was beside herself when she found out you were hurt. It was on this very day that Frank died.”

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too. Don’t scare me like this again!”

“I’ll do my best.”

“I’ll send your father and Jimmy back when Marka’s done.” She kissed her son and Marka before she left.

Frank held out his hands to Marka. She came to him much more gently than his mother. Scooting over, Frank made room for her before folding her in his embrace. He kissed her hard and deep for a long time before letting go.

“Do you remember anything that happened?” Marka gasped.

“Most of it, sadly. What the hell did you give me, by the way?”

Marka blushed, ducking her head. “A triple dose of Benadryl. I didn’t have anything else handy, but you were so distraught, I wanted you to have a chance to calm down before you encountered Liz.”

“Nice forgery job on the journals.”

“You knew they weren’t real?”

“Sort of. I knew they didn’t look exactly right, but they fulfilled the directive. She told me to bring her the journals. She didn’t say they were mine. Those weren’t technically mine, but they were journals.”

“Even drugged out, you found the loophole.”

He laughed, shaking his head. “It was funny—well, not funny, but interesting. The whole time she worked me over, I zoned out. I didn’t focus on her or what she was doing to me, I kept thinking of you. I thought about how much I need you and want to make love to you. I reminded myself of how you taste and what your breath feels like on my skin. I wrapped you around me like a cloak and held on. I know it sounds like a chick flick, Marka. But you saved me.”

“Oh, Frank!”

She kissed him so hard, it hurt. He wiggled a little, letting her know to ease up. A nurse stuck her head around the curtain, reddening when she saw them.

“Sorry! I wondered why his pulse spiked. Don’t mind me.”

“I’d better go,” Marka said. “I know your dad and James are anxious to see you.”

“Come back later. Hey, can she spend the night?” He asked the nurse.

“Sure. I’ll let them know at the desk. They’re making your room assignment now.”

Marka gave him a gentle kiss and left. James and Tom walked rapidly into the cubicle when she came out. They didn’t stay long, but they were both smiling when they came out.

“The doctor said he should be good to go tomorrow,” James told them.

“But where will he go home? His house isn’t fit to live in. Marka’s in a crime scene. Tom, should we take him to our place?”

© Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

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Bad Fall – Part 96

Bad FallFrank finds Liz at Marka’s house. After a fight, he manages to take her down.

Frank moved in on her before she could roll over the grab her weapon. The end of the board cracked her hand. Screaming, she kicked at him, connecting painfully with his thigh. Gritting his teeth against the pain, Frank swung the board, hitting her in the head, knocking her unconscious. Dragging the board, he stumbled toward the door. Flinging it open, he was greeted by a sea of weapons aimed at him. Red dots danced on his head, chest and legs.

“Hold!” A familiar voice bellowed. “Hold your fire. That’s Frank!”

With a resounding click, the weapons went down. People surrounded Frank. Strong hands helped steady him. An ambulance awaited him and he fell onto the gurney, his body finally giving out. An oxygen mask went over his head, covering his nose. A paramedic spoke to him, but he couldn’t figure out what the woman was saying. Everything grew hazy and dark as his eyes drifted shut.

Swarms of people moved into the house, Shay and Clark led the assault. They found Liz in an untidy heap on the living room floor, her head bleeding freely from a blunt wound. Her gun lay across the room, a syringe in the far corner. Clark collected the evidence as the second medical team strapped Liz to a backboard with a neck brace.

“You keep her drugged,” Shay ordered. “I don’t care what you have to give her. I want that bitch unconscious until we get her to a prison.”

“She needs a hospital,” the paramedic said, taking her pulse.

“She needs to be shot as a traitor,” Shay growled. “She’s going to federal lock up immediately. I want her buried so deep, the worms can’t find her. Is that clear?”

“Yes, sir!” Clark said, saluting. “Don’t worry, Arnold. I’ll take care of her. She’s not only a traitor, she damn near killed some people I car about. You heard the Colonel,” he barked at the paramedics. “Drug her up and get her out of here.”

“Yes, sir,” they replied in unison.

Frank lay so still, Marka wasn’t sure he was breathing. His face was pale, the circles around his eyes darker and more pronounced. His pulse was thready, but she could feel it beneath her cold fingers.

“Vitals?” She asked the EMT.

“Pulse is forty-five and steady. BP sixty over forty. Pupils slightly sluggish. Gonna move him quick. He’s gonna dip any second. You his doctor?”

“I’m his fiancée who’s also a doctor. I’m coming with you.”

“No argument from me, lady. Hop in.”

The paramedic and EMT loaded Frank into the ambulance and took off. When they reached the emergency room, his pulse had dropped to forty and he was clammy. The paramedic was right to move him so quickly. Marka called Rochelle and told her where she was.

“I’m on my way,” she said. “You don’t need to sit up there all alone.”

Rochelle arrived at the emergency room about ten minutes later. It was at least a fifteen minute drive.

“What good is a siren if I can’t use it?” She replied when Marka asked her about it.

Rochelle was wonderful about keeping Marka’s mind off her worries. They talked about her relationship with Frank.

“Is he really that good? All that stuff he did with Miss Thang.”

Marka smiled, nodding. “Oh, he’s that good and more. Like a feast after a lifelong famine. I didn’t think I’d ever have it this good.” She paused, gulping. “He has to be all right, Rochelle.”

“He will be, honey. He’s gonna be just fine. Don’t you worry.”

James drove up a few minutes after Rochelle arrived, bringing Frank’s parents. Marka greeted them and introduced Rochelle.

“I’m so sorry I didn’t call you,” she apologized, driving back the tears. “I didn’t think.”

“Neither would I, darling,” Paula replied, pulling her into a hug. “But that’s why we have Jimmy.”

Tom hugged Marka so hard, she almost cried out. The three of them sat in the waiting room, a trio of misery. Rochelle took James aside.

“We got to lighten these folks up. You with me?”

“I’ll follow your lead.” He smiled at her.

“Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come?” she sang in a clear, strong voice.

Marka and the Atherton’s looked up at her. All the others in the emergency room turned to her. Rochelle continued to sing His Eye is on the Sparrow, with James backing her up on harmony. Before she had finished, everyone in the room was singing. Doctors and nurses from the back came out front to see what was going on.

When the song was over, the only sound was a collective sniffle. Men and women alike dabbed at their eyes.

“I love that song,” Marka said with a happy sigh. “How did you know?”

“Because I do too,” Rochelle said. “Now, you put that worry aside. You put that energy into prayer for your man, sugar. He’s gonna be fine.”

A doctor came into the emergency waiting area. She looked rather young and flustered, but she was smiling.

“Family for Frank Atherton?”

Marka and his parents rose. The doctor walked over. Her light brown hair was pulled back in an untidy bun. Her blue eyes sparkled as she smiled. Shorter than Marka, she was slender but shapely.

© Dellani Oakes

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