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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 34

They heard Dino’s car start up and he stopped beside them.

“Reyes will be contacting Madame Fleur, and I said I would come with him to translate. She understands fine, she refuses to speak English, for some reason.” He shrugged. “I’ll keep you posted.”

“Take it easy, Dino. You watch out for yourself, or I’m going to be beastly and force feed you your medicine.”

“Yes, Ma’am!” He snapped a saucy salute and drove off, nearly having a couple collisions just pulling out of the driveway.

“Well, we have all afternoon off. What shall we do with ourselves?” Deacon looked slyly at Kacy.

“I see that look, you dirty, naughty man! I know what you want to be doing!” She slapped playfully at him.

“I was going to suggest a walk on the beach, maybe dinner and a movie? But if you’d rather hang out at the house and have incredible sex, I think I could arrange that.”

Giggling, she walked to the car and he opened the door for her again. Slipping inside, she fastened her belt as he walked around to the driver’s side.

“Hey, Deacon, did you leave this here?” She was pointing to an envelope on the seat.

Deacon pulled on his work glove before he picked it up. “No, I didn’t. I wonder what it is.”

“Don’t open it! You don’t know what it might be. Here.” She handed him a clean Ziploc bag from her purse.

“You always carry sandwich bags around with you?”

“You’d be surprised at how handy they are, I always have at least one.”

Deacon chuckled, taking the bag, he put the envelope carefully inside, sealing the bag.

“First stop the police station. Don’t suppose you know where it is?”

“Actually, yes. I saw it the other day when I was shopping. Head west till you hit US-1 and it’s north of Canal Street, a few miles. It’s on the highway on your left, you can’t miss it.”

“That’s always the kiss of death. I can’t believe it’s that easy.”

“No, seriously, it’s a piece of cake. You want me to drive?”

“I can manage, thanks.” He started the car and pulled into traffic much more carefully than she and Dino.

“You drive like my grandmum, Deacon.”

“I have to be careful.”

“Well it is Dino’s car, after all.”

“That’s only part of it.” He glanced at her, then back at the road. “I’ve got precious cargo. I’m not going to do anything stupid to risk losing you.”

Kacy sniffled loudly, wiping a tear. “Oh, Deacon, you’re too bloody nice to me.” She rummaged around in her purse, but couldn’t find a tissue.

Chuckling, he handed her his bandanna, it hadn’t been used that day and was still clean. She wiped her eyes, handing it back to him.

“Hang onto it. The way our conversations go, you might need it again.”

“I do get rather emotional, don’t I? I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I’m getting all worked up over this. It’s not like me to carry on so. You’ll want to be getting over soon, it’s just ahead.”

She pointed to the lighted blue plastic sign which said Police and bore the city crest. He slipped quickly into the left lane and made his turn at the next corner.

Their conversation with the desk sergeant was short and to the point. Detective Reyes was interviewing Madame, but they could leave the envelope and its contents with him. He filled out some paperwork, got their signatures, phone numbers and other important information. Driving back to the house, Deacon pulled over in a parking lot, stopping the car.

“What are you doing?” Kacy looked puzzled.

“Madame’s had offers on her property. I wonder if she and Dino compared names, if there are any in common.”

“Deacon, the police will take care of this, why are you worrying about it?”

“I wonder if Uncle Charlie got offers to sell, or Aunt Sophie? I don’t suppose there are any other relatives?”

“We’d have to ask Dino.”

“I keep thinking it’s not the building that he’s after so much as the land. Like Dino said, that is a prime parcel. If someone also had the spots next to it….”

He put the car in gear and pulled into traffic as cavalierly as Kacy. Horns honking followed them down the road. He waved a middle finger out the window as he accelerated.

“Where are we going?”

“To the florist.”

“What? Deacon, what do you want flowers for?”

“Trust me.”

He drove quickly, recklessly and zipped into the driveway of the florist shop next to the theater on the other side. Merle’s Florist was nearly as old a business as the deli, but it was no longer Merle who ran it. She had retired several years ago. It was her daughter and grandson who ran it now. Deacon introduced himself and Kacy.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 33

She came back to Deacon, lowering her head, turning her back to the crowd as they filed into the theater doors. “Did I sound convincing?”

Deacon looked puzzled. “What?”

“I’m scared shitless, but if you think I’m going to show it to that lot, you’re daft. Now let’s get in there and with the stiff upper lip, as my grandmum says.” Plastering a confident look on her face, she walked to the theater, chatting with people as she passed.

“Hell of a girl, isn’t she?” Dino looked after her proudly, admiration in his blue eyes.

“Yeah, she is. I wish I’d met her ten years ago.”

Ducking his head so Dino couldn’t meet his eye, he walked into the building, trying to do this best to follow Kacy’s example and act as if nothing was wrong.

The day went smoothly until shortly after the lunch break. Dino bought them all sandwiches from the deli next door. They ate and chatted happily, seated on the floor of the theater, when the lights went out.

“I’ll check the breaker,” Dexter said, pulling on his heavy rubber gloves. He took a flashlight off his belt and walked to the back room where Deacon told him the box was to be found.

“I’ll look outside,” Deacon said, pushing himself slowly to a standing position, his leg having stiffened on him as he sat on the floor.

Just as he reached the back door, a rending crash echoed through the building, followed by the scream of twisting, crunching metal. Sparks illuminated the interior of the darkened building. Hysterical yelling and screaming echoed from the deli next to them. Deacon rushed to the door, but Dino got to it first, throwing it open. Destruction met their eyes. The electrical pole lay at an odd angle, broken about half way up, the top lay on the trucks and cars in the parking lot next door. Sparks flew wildly as the deli emptied out, people trying to run to their cars.

“Everyone out the front door!” Dino yelled, not waiting for anyone to answer.

His cell phone already in his hand, he furiously dialed the emergency services, and followed the rest of them out. The deli evacuated, and the people stood in the parking lot of the theater. Deacon, Mac and Dexter did their best to get everyone accounted for.

The fire trucks and other emergency vehicles arrived in a flurry, shoving them further back. They were trying to stop the fire licking about the roof and back fence of the deli, encroaching upon the smashed and twisted cars. Deacon could just imagine if those caught fire and started moving the crowd further back, to the far side of the theatre lot.

Police set crowd control barriers in a wide perimeter, keeping idle spectators at bay. “Nothing to see here,” they said. “Please move along.” No one moved on, and the police didn’t really expect them to, but they had to try to do their jobs.

Several tense hours later, the fire chief decided the deli was saved and could rebuild. The cars didn’t blow up as Deacon feared, but the fire cast a pall over the day. Dino told everyone to go home. Meanwhile, he went to the deli’s owner, talking earnestly to her in French. She was the smallest woman Deacon had ever seen. He didn’t know her name. The others all called her Madame, and deferred to her as if she were a goddess. Dino spoke consolingly to her, also to the owners of the damaged cars.

He eventually made his way back to Deacon and Kacy, who were the only ones left in the lot. “I told her I would help pay for the repairs. Her deductibles are outrageous. I also am going to help rent cars for those people, until they can settle with their insurance companies.”

“Dino, that’s so thoughtful of you,” Kacy said quietly, her hand on his shoulder. “You aren’t responsible for that.”

“Madame Fleur told me something interesting. She’s been approached about selling her property as well, in fact for longer than I’ve been. She’s refused like I have. This business is all she has in the world. Her husband and she built it over thirty years ago. He died last year, after a long illness. I paid the medical bill for her, she couldn’t have come up with that kind of cash. Like me, she is holding on for sentimental reasons, although it is a very profitable business. She won’t give it up until she dies.”

“Sort of puts a whole new, spooky spin on things, doesn’t it?” Deacon said what all three of them were thinking.

“Yes, it does,” Dino agreed, taking out his phone. “I think I need to call Detective Reyes immediately, and have him talk to Madame.”

He walked to his car, sitting in the front seat, hunched over his phone, he looked alone and lonely. Kacy could hardly stand to look at him.

“That poor man, he takes everything so to heart. He always has. I worry about him, he has high blood pressure, you know.”

“No, I didn’t. He’s in such good shape, not exactly the kind of person you expect to have that.”

“This father and grandfather and uncle all died of strokes. His dad was only a little older than Dino is now, when he died.” She looked worriedly at Dino and started to take a step toward his car, but Deacon stopped her.

“You can’t be his mother and his friend. You have to choose one, Kacy.”

She smiled sadly. “Pete was always telling me that. I have the same instinct Dino does, I want to take care of everyone.”

Deacon pulled her ever so gently to him their hips touching. “It’s a wonderful characteristic, don’t ever lose it.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Red River Radio Presents What’s Write for Me with Julia, Maya and Rami

We’ve got a great show planned for Wednesday, June 26 from 4-6 PM EDT.Joining us today are two familiar folks, and one new one.

First up is a fellow Tirgearr Author, Maya Tyler is a multi-published author of paranormal romance novels and blogger at Maya’s Musings. An avid reader, Maya writes the books she loves to read—romances! She still believes that “True Love’s Kiss” is the most powerful thing in the world. Her paranormal romances come with complex plot twists and happily-ever-afters. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, listening to music (alternative rock, especially from the 1990s), practicing yoga, and watching movies and TV.

Second is the happiest horror author I know. Rami Ungar knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of five, when he first became exposed to the world of Harry Potter and wanted to create imaginative worlds like Harry’s. As a tween, he fell in love with the works of Anne Rice and Stephen King and, as he was getting too old to sneak up on people and shout “Boo!’ (not that that ever stopped him), he decided to merge his two loves and become a horror writer. Today, Rami lives and writes in Columbus, Ohio. He’s self-published three novels and one collection of short stories, and his stories have appeared in other publications here and there. Rose, his first novel with Castrum Press, will be released June 21st, 2019. When he’s not writing your nightmares or coming up with those, he’s enjoying anything from the latest horror novel or movie to anime and manga to ballet, collecting anything that catches his fancy, and giving you the impression he may not be entirely human.

Third, and new to the show, is another Tirgearr Author. Julia Byrd lives and writes in Chicago with her handsome dog and scruffy husband. She tells people she enjoys books, wine, baking, and architecture as plausible cover for her secret double life. Her second Gothic romance, Soil and Ceremony, was published by Tirgearr Publishing in June 2019.

Be Sure to Join Us!

Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Christina, Dellani & Friends

 

Monday, January 14, marks the first Dellani’s Tea Time of 2019. Listen in from 4-6 PM Eastern!

As we to every year, Christina and Dellani save the first show to chat together, and bring in some special guests – the other show hosts on the Red River Radio Network! We’re never entirely sure who will show up, so we’ll just introduce them as they arrive.

Christina Giguere

 

Expect ridiculous behavior, sarcastic comments, jocularity, hilarity, and great excerpts from everyone! You never know where the conversation will go, with this bunch. We’re unpredictable, unavoidable, uninhibited and completely unexpected.

dellani photo dark red

Join us live, or at your leisure!

 

TODAY Red River Radio Presents What’s Write for Me Kathleen Rowland, Susan Clayton-Goldner and Tegon Maus

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Join Us Live Or At Your Leisure

I’m so excited about our next show. I’ve got three wonderful Tirgearr authors with me. Two, you’ve met, but one is newly with us. I know this is going to be a fund show

Kathleen Rowland

First up is Kathleen Rowland, author of One Night in Havana, Unholy Alliance, and Deadly Alliance. This is Kathleen’s first time on the show, and we’re delighted to have her with us.

susan clayton goldner

Next is Susan Clayton-Goldner, author of murder mysteries and thrillers, A River of Shame, A Bend in the Willow, and Tormented, among others. This is Susan’s third, or maybe fourth visit. Welcome back, Susan!

Tegon Maus

Last, but only because we’re alphabetical, is Tegon Maus author of fantasy novels, Machines of the Little People, The Wishing Stone, Service Before Self, and Bob, among others. Tegon has also been a frequent visitor, so happy to have him here again.

With these three guests, it will prove to be a fun, entertaining and lively show, so be sure to tune in!

 

It will be great! Join us live, or at your convenience, using the same link. Share with friends.

When Tis Done – Part 94

When Tis Done cover smallUnfortunately, when Jordan and Elise were attacked, David was killed trying to protect them. The Texas and Louisiana members decide they want to go home.

Monday rolled around, but no one felt like celebrating. David’s wake was that evening and his funeral the following day. None of the children went to school on Tuesday. For the second time, Chase’s family got into the black limosine provided by the funeral home, and drove to the church together. This time, it was Neil who verfied that it was his father in the coffin, not Chase. They did the duty together, both keeping the other strong.

David had asked for a small, private ceremony, just family and close friends, but the public wouldn’t stay away. He’d been a part of the Miracle City Council, served on the Board of Education and been a member of the Lion’s Club as well as the VFW. Despite the announcement in the paper, everyone showed up to pay their respects. Rather than turning them away, the family agreed to allow them to join them.

Like at Cliff’s funeral, members of the family and close friends, were asked to come up and share their memories of David. Each of the men from the Center Circle came up and told stories about David, making everyone laugh. Chase and Neil also spoke, along with Dora and Cynthia. Even the mayor asked permission to speak. Because he and David had been close friends, Myra welcomed it.

“David and I came up together,” Mayor Farnsworth said. “Best friend a man could have, and the worst enemy. Didn’t pay to get on his bad side, let me tell you. We got along great until I made a play for Myra, who was the prettiest girl in town. Thought to my soul he was gonna tear me apart. Scared me so bad, I ran off to the woods and got myself lost. I wandered around in the wilderness I don’t know how many days, confused and disoriented. Just as I was about to give up and just let the Good Lord take me, when I heard someone calling my name. It was David. He came with his mated pair of Blue Tick Hounds. He found me less than five miles from home, wandering around in a circle. He fed me, gave me water and told me how to get home. He didn’t bring me in, let me show up to be brought in by the team. Never to this day did I tell a soul that it was him who saved me, showed me the way. He showed me the way on more than one occasion, and I’ll miss his silent strength.”

There was quiet in the church, except for sniffles and nose blowing.

“David Braxton, I’ll miss you, my friend.”

The choir started singing Amazing Grace and the mayor joined in, his booming bass nearly drowning out the entire choir. Everyone in the congregation joined in and continued singing as the coffin was put in the hearse.

Afterward, every headed to the fellowship hall for a reception. No one had planned on so many people, but the church ladies had pitched in and made a feast for them all.

“I feel like Jesus with the loaves and fishes,” Myra said, looking at the laden tables of food. “He’d be so embarrassed by all this fuss,” she whimpered.

Neil held her close. “No, Mama, he’d be proud. And he’d go over there and eat all the chicken.”

She giggled, nodding. Not to be outdone, Neil went over and helped himself to a heaping platter of fried chicken and fried green tomatoes, provided by a local restaurant.

Once the reception was over, and all the leftovers had been loaded up and distributed to the family, everyone went home. Leaving Chase’s family to grieve on their own, at their request, Brian and Jordan’s famlies gathered at Brian’s house. They changed into their comfy clothing and lounged around the family room, watching Elise play with her brother and Jordan.

“I never did get a clear picture of what happened at the river,” Maribelle said. “I know that Jordan was there, unconscious. Then Brian and Sweet arrived with Summer. But you were very vague on details.” Her penetrating gaze riveted her son. She might be legally blind, but she still could nail him with a guilt stare.

Brian gulped, appealing to Jordan and Scott.

“Don’t lie to me,” Maribelle said. “I know it’s on your mind, Brian Casey. I can see it in your aura. Yours too, Jordan.”

“It was Elise,” Brian said slowly, haltingly.

“What?” Maribelle tilted her head as if she hadn’t heard properly.

“She protected Jordan from Lien. I heard her yelling No and she smacked her around, hit her with water, air, earth. Only thing she didn’t wield was fire. It was like watching a miniature pitbull on the attack. She knocked the shit out of Lien.”

“Sit,” Elise said, grabbing her brother’s lips. “Sit, sit, shhh-it.”

Brian smacked himself in the face.

“My baby? How’s that possible?” she appealed to Jackie.

“I don’t know…. Heath did some research and found that in extreme circumstances, more than one member of the family can have special powers. She may never show them again,” she hastened to say. “It might have been extreme measures because Jordan was in danger.”

“My baby took on a fully grown Kitsune—and survived?”

“She not only survived, Mom. She kicked Lien’s ass.”

“As—ss asss.”

“Will you stop teaching your sister inappropriate words?” his mother’s temper flared.

“Sorry. I’ll try. But I’m an inappropriate kind of guy. But she did, seriously, kick it.”

“I can’t believe it.” Maribelle shook her head. “I need to go lie down. Can you watch Elise for us?”

“Sure, Mom. Go get some rest.”

Jackie and Heath headed home, leaving Jordan to help babysit. Once they were alone with the little girl, Jordan combed her fingers through Elise’s curls.

“Did she really do all that? You’re not exaggerating?”

“Not a lick. If anything, I toned it down. I didn’t think Mom could take all the details.”

“Do you really think she’s never going to use her powers again?”

Brian nodded at his sister, who was currently spinning her foam building blocks in the air. “I don’t know, Jordan. What do you think?”

Jordan stared at the baby, laughing softly. Elise grinned at her, giggling as she made the blocks spin and whirl higher and faster.

“Not a chance,” Jordan said.

“Shit,” Elise said as the blocks dropped suddenly. “Shit, shit, ass!”

“Well, one thing’s for sure. She’s my sister!”

Laughing, Brian set the blocks swirling for Elise, who clapped her hands and danced as the blocks floated around her. His eyes met Jordan’s and he imagined he saw their own daughter there, dancing around with blocks spinning in the air.

THE END

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 93

When Tis Done cover smallJian, Lien and their father have been captured. The housekeeper, Su, is their leader. Jian declares that she will come for them. John is for killing the Kitsune, but Brian is reluctant, since they weren’t killed in battle. If he kills them now, it will feel like murder.

“I understand. Simply laying the option out there.”

“Thank you. The question remains of where to put them.”

“Here,” Neil said, gesturing. “We can contain them in solidified air and disappear them. Simple enough to do.”

“Not for me,” Brian remarked, somewhat annoyed that he’d never been taught.

“Maybe it’s time you learned,” Neil replied. “I never saw anyone better at that than my old man. How is Dad?” he asked the group.

No one spoke, no one would meet his eyes.

“No,” he whispered. “Tell me…. Why are we standing around?”

“He tried to help me and Elise,” Jordan said softly. “He heard me scream and came up to find Lien in the room. I don’t know how she got in, but she trapped us up there and tried to take the baby from me. David—” Tears trickled down her face. “He saved us, got us out of the room, bound Lien, but he didn’t know to use air, he used earth. She must have gotten free and followed. He was watching her and…. There was nothing anyone could do. I’m so sorry, Neil. So very sorry.” She burst into tears.

Neil took her in his arms, holding her close, as he sobbed.

“He died saving us,” she wailed. “And I couldn’t stop her. He told me to run and I ran…. I ran with Elise. I tried to get away. But she caught up with us and knocked me out. Then Elise—oh, my God, the baby saved me!” She sobbed harder.

Brian took her in one arm, Neil in the other. They huddled in a small circle of grief. Gradually, the others joined them, holding one another close, as they sang. Hearing the voices, those in the house, who were mobile, came down the steps and added their voices to the song. Men, women and children mourned the passing of one of their own. He’d fought bravely, saving Jordan and Elise from sure death.

“Your dad was a hero,” Jordan told Neil. “I’m so sorry….”

“He died doing what he did best, protecting someone who needed him,” Neil replied. “I will miss him. Dad was a force of nature.”

“I want to go home,” Summer said quietly. “Can we go home?”

“We need to do one more thing before we do,” Roy Curtis said. “We need to make your adoption official. Summer Sweet, I’d be very proud if you’d agree to be adopted by my family. I think you and Caleb would make a formidable pair for your Circle. What do you say?”

“Yes!” she agreed, smiling through her tears. “It would be an honor, Roy. Or should I call you Dad?”

He chuckled. “You’ve got your own father. But I’d be real happy if you’d call me Uncle Roy.”

“Yes, Uncle Roy.”

Before the Texas and Louisiana families left, they did a very short adoption and binding ceremony, formally allying thier Circles. Once that was complete, the Center Circles from Mississippi and Texas combined their strength to entrap the three prisoners in solidified air. When that was accomplished, they chose a secure location and disappeared them.

“That will hold them until we can find a better way,” Roy said. “I’ll check our library when I get home.”

“Thank you,” Neil said, shaking his hand.

“I’m real sorry about your daddy, Neil,” John said.

“Thank you.”

“When will you lay him to rest?”

Neil shook his head. “Depends on Mama. Daddy had some real specific instructions, so I’ll have to check with her.”

“My advice, you cremate his remains and you park him by those three heathens. If anyone can guard us all against them, it’s your father.”

Neil ducked his head. “Not a bad idea. I’ll surely suggest it.”

“You let us know. We’ll come back and pay our respects.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“You don’t owe me a sir, Sergeant. Just John will do fine. I’ve decided to fold up my uniform and retire. I’ve had enough of it, just like you. Got enough war here and I figure I can do more good on this front, than that one.”

“You’d be welcome here any time, sir…John.”

They embraced and John took his leave. The coronor’s van arrived shortly after the others left. Miles used his mind mojo to convince the coronor that David had simply died of a heart attack at a family gathering. There was no need for any other story to get out and about. There would be an autopsy, they couldn’t fake that, but the results were already assured.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 92

When Tis Done cover smallBrian realizes that the fight with Jian and his father was a distraction. Racing back to the house, he finds that Jordan and Elise are gone, taken to the river by Lien. Just as they take her out, they are greeted by Jordan’s brother, Scott.

“Good bind her well with ropes of air,” Scott said.

“Kinda harsh,” Caleb began.

Scott glared at him. “Kid, I don’t know you, but I assure you, it’s the only thing that will hold her. Brian.”

Doing as instructed, Brian lashed Lien with air. Lifting her to his shoulder, he carried her back to the house. She woke and tried to get free, but Caleb clunked her again, knocking her out once more. When they were back at the clearing, the found that Jian and Fēng were in the fire pit, also bound by air.

She hugged her brother almost fiercely. “Where is everyone?” she asked.

“I left most of them at the house before I came down to find Brian and you. Why don’t you go get them?”

“I’ll be right back.”

She trotted up the steps, searching for her mother and father. Those who could, came down to the fire pit where the prisoners were held. Some weren’t feeling well enough, so they waited in the house with Louisa, Andre, and Claude. They gathered around, battered and tattered, sitting on the benches and logs.

“Everyone, this is my brother, Scott. He’s got some information for us,” Jordan said, introducing her brother.

“I’ve had a hell of a time getting here, but I won’t go into that. What’s important is that somehow, these three were able to get loose. We’ll figure that out. When Jordan called me the other day, asking me for information, I had my suspicions, but I couldn’t be sure without doing extensive research. Unfortunately, it took longer than I intended and I apologize. Not the sort of thing I could do online, had to go to the source, a specialty library in Jackson.”

“My grandparents were there, too,” Brian interrupted.

“A few things Jordan said clued me in and I was pretty sure I knew what it was, but not how to stop it.”

“Well, what?” Jordan asked, threatening to hit him.

Scott laughed. “Kitsune—Japanese fox diety.”

“But they’re Chinese,” Jordan said, pertanent of nothing.

“Why should they tell even a modicum of the truth?” Scott asked. “Japan, China, Korea. The folklore is all mixed up and interconnected. The lines are blurry at best. Kitsune are shape shifters. Tricksters or down right evil.”

“So, who’s in charge?” Sweet asked. “Cause they all act like foot soldiers.”

“My guess is Su, the housekeeper,” Brian said. “She’s the only one who didn’t get into open conflict with us, but she sure tried her act on me in the parking lot. It almost worked, and it takes a lot to get around me.”

Lien glared at him, trying to talk around her gag. Brian smiled at her.

“You wanted to be in charge, didn’t you, Lien? What are you, Kitsune queen in training?”

“If it is Su, shouldn’t we be more afraid that she’ll come looking?” Summer asked, worried frown on her face. “Won’t she try to rescue them?”

“Doubtful. More likely she’ll cut her losses,” Brian said. “If I were and evil fox spirit, that’s what I’d do. Cut and run.”

“But that means she’s still out there,” Summer gasped.

“Yep.”

“Can’t we go after her?”

“How do you propose we do that? Sniff her out? If anything, we have to wait for her to come back—if she’s that stupid. She’s got to know by now that she can’t take us out.”

Jian looked ready to burst. He badly wanted to speak. Brian was interested enough to know what he had to say, so he released his mouth.

“She will come for us. Our mistress is strong. She’s not afraid of you!”

Jordan flickered her fingers, gagging him once more. “Boring.” She yawned, patting her mouth delicately.

“What do we do with these?” Brian asked. “Obviously, we can’t lock them up again, she’ll let them out.”

“They are creatures of earth, fire or water,” Scott said. “So we trap them and contain them with air. I feel sure our parents or grandparents know a way to imprison them—that’s if you don’t want to execute them.” He raised an eyebrow at Brian.

“It’s one thing to kill them in battle, it’s quite another to kill them now. Maybe it’s foolish of me to show mercy, because you can bet they wouldn’t do the same for us, but I can’t do it. And I can’t order someone else to either.”

“This is a war,” John Curtis said quietly.

“But they lost the battle, John. It doesn’t feel right. If I do that, I’m stooping to their level,” Brian said quietly.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 91

When Tis Done cover smallThe battle has begun in earnest, dividing their forces.

Sweet threw water on him and his flaming knives, using the wave to flatten him. Surprised, Brian grinned. Fēng took another run at him and met his own wall of water. Brian simply took Sweet’s and diverted it. Gasping and sodden, he stood his ground. Jian regrouped, but Caleb and Sweet lashed him with bands of fire and air, slowly dragging him to the ground. Earth rose once more, called by Brian. This time, he solidified it by baking it with fire.

Fēng stood there, panting and shivering. Sweet swirled water around him, pulling it into snug tendrils, then froze it. With the two of them subdued, the four youths took a moment to catch their breath. It took only a couple seconds for Brian to realize that they weren’t fighting on purpose. Had they wanted to, both were strong enough to escape.

“Jordan!” he gasped, turning quickly.

Racing back to the house, he barely registered the fact that someone was following him.

“Sweet and Summer have it. You need me,” Caleb said. “What?”

“Jordan. Elise. Oh, Jesus!”

They raced up the front steps, in the front door and up the stairs to the master bedroom, where Brian had left Jordan and his sister. They weren’t there. With a cry like a wounded animal, Brian stopped, casting out, looking for his sister. She was easier for him to locate than Jordan because his blood called to hers. Standing in silence, he gulped.

“River. She’s taken Elise to the river.”

“Who has?”

“Lien. She’s got my sister.”

“What about Jordan?”

“I don’t know. But she’s got Elise.”

He made a quick choice. Jordan was strong, trained. Elise was a baby. Chest aching with dread, he ran to the river, searching for the baby. He heard her before he saw them. Elise was screaming hysterically. He heard Lien’s voice, quietly cajoling.

“It’s all right, baby. Your brother will be here soon. I’ll kill him and it will all be over.”

Elise’s screams turned from fear to anger. “No!” Barely a year old, she didn’t talk much, but that word came through loud and clear. “No!”

A gust of wind rattled the trees, making the grass dance. Earth shook, rattling the boys as they approached. “No!” The wind became a gale which, strangely, barely raised the hair on their heads. The trees shook, twisting in the wind as it crashed through their branches.

Brian crept closer, less affected by the wind than Caleb. Peering through a gap, he saw his sister, standing protectively by Jordan. She was down, a gash in her forehead. It oozed blood. Face pale, she was breathing, and Brian could see her struggling to rise.

“No!” Elise screeched again. “You! No!” Her little hand pointed at Lien, making a slashing motion. The wind sliced across the girl like a knife. A punch with the other tiny fist knocked the Asian girl flat on her ass.

Brian leaped through the gap, landing nearly on top of Lien. She tripped him, but he caught himself on a cloud of air. Snakelike tendrils of water slipped past him and he saw that Jordan was up. Earth shook, trying to knock her down, but Caleb slapped Lien with a wave of freezing water, taking some of the fight out of her.

Elise toddled over, pointing a finger at Lien. “No!” she said very softly, rather like her father when he was furious. The ground rose like ropes, slithering around Lien’s body, pulling tightly. She couldn’t move, but she could speak. Yelling curses—real ones—she tried to free herself. Tired of the noise, Jordan slapped a handful of dirt into her mouth, sealing it shut.

“Shut up, you bitch!” She picked up the baby, holding her close.

Elise touched Jordan’s lips, smiling, and fell unconcsious. Rather than worried, Jordan looked proud.

“Take out the garbage,” she told the boys. “I need to get her home.” Picking her way carefully through the woods, she made her way back to the house.

“Lady, I don’t know what you are,” Brian said. “But no!” He knocked her unconscious by drawing the air from her lungs. But something kept him from killing a downed warrior.

“What is she?” Caleb asked.

“No idea.”

“Maybe I can help,” a familiar voice said behind them. It was Scott.

“Where have you been? I thought you’d already be here.”

“Got hung up. Her doing, I imagine. I’ll explain later.”

“You’re okay?”

“Fine. You guys?”

“Been worse,” Brian said with a harsh laugh.

“Good bind her well with ropes of air.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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When Tis Done – Part 90

When Tis Done cover smallNot only is Chase attacked, Marissa’s mother, as well as Jackie and Maribelle, have been hit. Elise, cradled in her mother’s arms, doesn’t seem to be harmed, but Claude checks her anyway.

“She’s fine. Take her inside. Jordan, you stay with her. Neil, help Marissa get Chase in the shed. Brian, go get your father.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Where is your father?” Claude looked around, realizing that there should be more people around. “Oh, sweet Jesus….”

Brian did as he was told. Jordan followed, taking the baby up to the master bedroom. She locked the door after Brian left. Terrified, she said every prayer she could think of, for Elise, herself and the others. There should have been more activity. The house was too quiet. Where were the others? She was anxious, wanting to know, but took her duty to care for Elise very seriously. After all, this was her future sister-in-law.

“It’s okay,” she said over and over, trying to assure herself. “It’s okay.”

They came from the swamp, wave after wave of dark spirits, slicing through the air with a singular hiss that set Brian’s nerves on edge, The hair on the back of his neck sprang to attention. Where were the others? Surely not all taken down with darts? Why hadn’t the wards stopped them? The spirits circled him, snatching at his hair, scratching his face, ears, any exposed skin. With a flick of his hand, he conjured a wind that scattered them like leaves. A thin, airy scree of distress accompanied them. The wind whirled, dragging them into the earth. The sand covered them, obliterating them as if they had never been.

Scurrying around the side of the house, the shadow of a fox and crow charged Brian. He realized now why they weren’t affected by the wards, they weren’t real, merely shades. They could still hurt him, causing serious physical damage, but at least he knew. A blast of hot air drove these away, slowing him down. As he raced through them, they reached for him, snapping and clawing. Brian pushed on, looking for his father and the others. He heard the sound of battle at the front of the house. His friends were in a cluster, fighting more of the wraithlike shadow creatures and taking the worst of it.

“Air!” he bellowed. “Blast them with air! Smother them with earth!”

Rushing to them, he laid waste, expelling the shadows with a blast of air, hammering them to the ground.

“Where’s my dad? Mom’s hurt,” he asked Sweet.

The young man pointed to the woods. “He and Heath ran that way. I don’t know why.”

“Come with,” he commanded. “Andre, get the women inside. Jordan needs you.”

“We can fight….” Ginnifer stated angrily.

“And Jordan needs you more. Go! Some of you help Claude. Healers. Fast.”

Andre did as he was told without question. Caleb and Summer followed Sweet and Brian.

“He’s my brother. I’m coming,” she stated, chin firm.

“Do you know what you’re doing?”

“Os has been training me.”

“Good.”

He ducked into the woods, following his father’s path. It might not be obvious to others, but he could see the scent of his passing. He and Miles were chasing something.

“This way,” he pointed to the right.

The others followed without question. They heard sounds of battle a few yards ahead in a small clearing. Brian recognized it as the spot where they’d had their showdown with Mr. D and knew it wasn’t a coincidence. It had been chosen with the sole purpose of sapping his confidence. It hadn’t worked, quite the opposite feeling surged through him, especially when he saw his father figthing Mr. Fēng. Wondering how the man had gotten free, he dashed forward, sending a wave of dirt at the man’s legs.

Fēng toppled, trying to right himself. Restraints made of dirt wound up his legs. Jian leaped from the trees, screeching like a bird of prey. He slashed at Brian with huge claws where his hands should be. The talons sliced Brian’s clothing, stinging his skin. He faltered, knowing it was the same poison that had been used on Chase. Fighting it off, he used water from the air to wash his body, cleansing the pores, sealing them with a layer of moisture.

Balling his fist, Brian called forth earth and slammed it into Jian, knocking him down. Earthen fists pummled the downed teenager, pushing him deeply into the ground. It opened, closing over the boy.

With a roar, Fēng jumped at Brian, using earth against him. As the first clod rose, flying at him, Brian faced the onslaught, raising his hands like a shield. The clumps of earth fell to dust. Rocks shattered, their pieces racing back at Fēng, stinging him like dozens of needles. With a roar, he raised a boulder, slinging it at Brian.

With a twitch of his head, Brian halted the huge stone. It dropped to the ground. Fēng lifted it again, finding it heavier. It took precious seconds to realize that the ground held it, pulling it back down. Soon, it too was buried like his son. Suddenly, the grass exploded upward and Jian came out of the ground. Flames shot from his hands, whirling at Brian like knives of fire.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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