Tag Archive | contemporary romance

Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Barbara and Karen

The New Year is upon us! As we’ve done for the last few years, Christina and I will chat with a couple of our other Red River Radio hosts, Barbara Ehrentreu and Karen Vaughan. Tune in TODAY at 4PM EST or catch our recorded podcast later.

Barbara Ehrentreu is the author of If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and After. She has also penned a lovely book called You’ll Probably Forget Me: Living With and Without Hal.

Karen Vaughan is the author of eight cozy mysteries, among them Left for Dead, Dead on Arrival, Dead Men Don’t Swing and Dead Comic Standing.

Co-host, Christina Giguere, known by her nom de plume of Rachel Rueben, will also chat about her work. She is the author of young adult novel, Hag. She also has a wonderful vampire novel, Eternal Bond, available to read on WattPad.

 

Host Dellani Oakes is the author of 12 published books – mostly romantic suspense, but 4 of them are from a science-fiction series set in the distant future. Dellani’s most recent book is Lone Wolf Tales: A Lone Wolf Series Companion, a collection of short stories connected with the Lone Wolf series.

Each author will talk about her show, her goals as an author and how she feeds her writing addiction. Be sure to tune in TODAY at 4 PM EST for this fun filled show.

2016 A Good Year for Writing

Dellani Oakes with glasses2016 stunk in a lot of ways, not the least of which were all the deaths, both famous and not. Too many taken from us too soon. There was one respect in which 2016 was kind of all right. It’s a very personal way, not something that means much to anyone but me.

For several years, I’ve made a resolution to finish a book a month. This doesn’t mean that I start and finish the book in the same 30 day period (though I do that, too). This means that I take a book I’ve been working for awhile, maybe years, and I complete it. I’ve been making this same resolution for three years now, and I’ve just made it again. I don’t always meet this goal, but I feel that if I make a concerted effort and write constantly, I’m progressing well. Of course, the new goal becomes getting them publication ready—a longer and more complicated project. (And, let’s face it, a lot less fun)

In 2016, I managed to finish fourteen books! That’s better than one a month. There were a few months I didn’t complete something, but others where I did two or more. Please keep in mind, unless it states short story or novella, these are all books 50,000+ words. That includes the ones written in 5 – 10 days.

This years list includes:

January – Author of Love

February – Tarrah (a short story)

March – As yet untitled novella

April – Ranger’s Heart & When Tis Done

May – none finished as I was editing Room 103 for publication

June – How Far is Heaven, Sierra and Food Truck Hero (which was written in 6 days)

July – Raven Willoughby: Origins, Beach Bum, Alton & Velda and Game Junkies

August – He Needed Killin’ (written in 9 days)

September – none finished

October – none finished

November – So Much It Hurts (2016 NaNo, completed in 5 days)

December – none finished

Overall, not a bad year, though I did better in 2015 (25 books), but I consider anything 12 and over, a win. I finished 14 books in 2014 as well. Though I didn’t finish any books every month of the year, I started 4 new ones. I couldn’t seem to make up my mind how to finish them, but it gives me a goal for this year. Challenge accepted!

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Snowed

snowed-cover-4Big Mike” Reubens has been seeing more action in the last few days, than he’s seen in quite some time. However, when he finds his mother is driving from Queens to Cheyenne, Wyoming just to see him, he’s puzzled. His confusion grows when she says she’s bringing a man with her, as well as his daughter. He and Sarena bond over the phone, expressing interest in one another. They have finally arrived and Mike meets her for the first time, but his mother interrupts before he even has a chance to kiss her. At the motel, they decide to go out for dinner as a group.

“I’ll grab my coat,” Sarena said, tugging my hand. “Mike, help me find where I left my key-card.”

I followed her into her room.

“Our folks don’t know how close we’ve gotten the last few days,” she said. “I wanted them to feel like they brought us together. It’s like all your mother has talked about for the last hundred miles or so. She really hopes we’ll hit it off.”

“I’m kinda hoping the same thing myself.” I took her hands, drawing her to me.

I wanted to kiss her badly. I knew exactly how she would taste and feel—just like the woman in my dream. The moment I laid eyes on her picture, I knew she was the one I dreamed about that day. That was such a vivid dream, with taste, scent and touch…. It made me hot just to think about it. Okay, face it, just being around Sarena made me hot. I was about to kiss her, when there was a tapping at the door.

Sarena grabbed her things, including the key which was right by her purse, and we headed out. She held my hand excitedly, like a little kid. I led the way to the restaurant, asking about their trip. Ma told me in great detail how lovely the trip had been. Sarena looked ready to laugh any second, so I changed the subject to the concert. I talked about meeting Ms. Learner.

“In that uniform she can tell you have a good build?” My mother is fluffy, but not entirely dumb.

“Yeah, well, the jacket is pretty form fitting, Ma. I guess she saw something she liked.”

Sarena pinched me. I had told her all about the Big Mike fiasco. She thought it was hysterical.

“You should call her about that modeling. It could bring in some good money,” she encouraged. “And I’ll come watch,” she said as our parents got up to go to the salad bar.

“You can get a free show anytime you want,” I told her. “I’ll even show you the nudes.”

“You didn’t send those out?”

“Oh, no! Just one of them without my shirt. You know, ratty jeans, tool belt….”

“Tell me it was pulling the jeans down almost far enough to see…. Leaving that tantalizing trail….” She stopped talking suddenly because our folks were almost to the table.

“Yes,” I said, taking her hand to my lips. “That’s exactly right. Salad?” I tugged her hand, dragging her to the salad bar. “You’re killing me, Serena. I want you so bad right now.”

“Do you think you’ve got an exclusive on that? Cause I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I had anything that wasn’t battery operated and covered in latex.”

I dropped the salad tongs, my fingers suddenly numb. “Oh, God, don’t keep talking like that around the salad bar!”

“What, there’s a new law? Talking dirty taints the food?”

“You’ll make me drool on it.”

She was still laughing when we headed back to the table.

“Is there any way we can escape and head to my place?” I whispered.

“I don’t know. We’ll think of something.”

“I sure as hell hope so, baby, cause otherwise I’m going to explode.”

“Ditto….”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Star Crossed

star-crossed-coverThe man in the truck frowned when he Helene her approach. He shut off the engine and got out, glowering.

“What?”

Helene stopped in her tracks. He was angry and surly, but one of the handsomest men she’d ever met.

“Hello, I’m Helene Marcos. I hear you’ve bought the last of the trees. I was wondering if you’d be willing to part with the blue spruce.”

He was already frowning and shaking his head. He ignored her hand and raised his chin at the young man, telling him to start loading with a jerk of his head. Tipping his head at Helene, he frowned. It wasn’t so much anger, she sensed, as a dislike of the cold wind. His eyes watered. A startling blue, they made a stark contrast with his sleek, black hair.

“The blue spruce. Could I buy it from you? I’ll be happy to pay whatever you did, plus ten percent?” Her voice rose to a childish, almost whimper. She hated when she did that. It made her sound like such a child. As if the blonde hair and big blue eyes weren’t enough of a problem.

“No.”

“What? Why not?”

“I need it. I ordered, and received, fifteen very specific trees. I was lucky they weren’t taken with the rest.”

Helene could feel tears in her eyes. “Surely one….”

“Look, Miss….” he’d already forgotten her name. “I work for a party planner and we have a gig Sunday night. I contracted for fifteen trees. I’m being paid for fifteen. I can’t bring fourteen.”

“But the blue….”

“Is the center piece of the display. Look, I’m sorry. If I could….” He snorted in frustration, running his hand through his hair. “There’s another lot, about two blocks down. Maybe they have a spruce?”

Her eyes filled with tears. “Sure. I’ll go look. I kind of wanted to shop here. I mean, they got robbed. By the looks of them, they’re counting on the money. I just thought….” A shuddering breath caught in her throat. The tears tickled her eyelashes. “Never mind. It’s not your problem. Thank you.” She turned and walked back to the lot, hoping to find another tree for her mother’s Christmas.

Abraham Carson watched the petite blonde walk away and let out a low groan of frustration. Gallantry warred with every other emotion in him. He wasn’t a greedy man, but he did have a contract to fulfill. And he’d seen three blue spruce trees at the other lot on his way here. Not as nice as this one….

“Miss!” he called. “Miss—Marcos?” he bellowed, extending his arm in a gesture of frustration.

She turned, her eyes wide and liquid.

Dammit. Not tears. Dammit! No tears!

“I’ll—I’ll find another tree. And you don’t have to pay extra, just give me what I paid for it.”

An angelic smile wreathed her features. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.” He wasn’t, but what else could he say to that sweet face. “Yes, I’m sure.”

“Oh, thank you!” She ran over to him, placing a warm kiss on his cold cheek. “Thank you. Do you mind a check?”

“Not at all.”

“I promise it’s good. I work at Dr. Staley’s office on Tenth, though, if you have any problem with it.”

“I’m sure I won’t.”

She held her pink checkbook, full of checks scattered with hot air balloons, purple pen poised over the page. Her blue eyes widened expectantly and he realized she was waiting for his name and the amount.

“It was umm, seventy-five….” So he shaved off a few bucks. “And you can make it out to Carson’s Party Planners.”

Flashing a five star smile that struck him deeply, he waited while she wrote out the check. She handed it to him, grinning, thanking him. The check smelled like violets. Resisting the urge to sniff it, he folded it, putting it in his wallet. His boss, who was also his sister, would probably kill him. But he was a softy at heart, which was why she handled the business side and he just picked things up. He really couldn’t be trusted in a more official capacity.

“Thank you so much. My mother is really ill, and this will make her happy. I wanted the perfect tree and she always loved blue spruce.”

Could he feel any more like a complete tool? Not likely. A sick mom. The perfect tree. But the smile and those big, blue eyes, made him feel less like a heel. She kissed him again and his heart lurched.

“You’re very welcome, Miss Marcos. I hope you and your mom have a very Merry Christmas. And I’ll keep her health in my prayers.”

This smile was damn near angelic. Why had he said that? He hardly prayed anymore. His days as a choir boy were well behind him, but he hadn’t lost that grain of truth and hope that had been part of his life since he was a child.

“Hey, Chet, can you load up the lady’s tree?” he called to the young man. “The blue spruce.”

“Sure thing, Abe!” The young man hoisted the tree onto his shoulder and carried it to her car. He got it safely roped on the top and attached the red bandanna she had brought for the base of it. Whistling happily, he nodded when he accepted the tip she gave him.

Standing side by side, Abe and Chet watched Helene drive away.

“You seriously only charged her seventy-five? That was a hundred dollar tree.”

Abe watched the car turn the corner, blinking rapidly against the cold once it was gone. “Yeah, well…. I’m a sucker for big blue eyes and tears.”

“She cried? Oh, hell, I would have given it to her for free!”

Abe chuckled, knuckling the kid’s head. “I almost did, but Tina would decorate a tree with my balls if I did. Now, I have to go down the way and spend my own money on another tree.”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Fly by Night by Dellani

first meetingIn Fly by Night, I honestly hadn’t intended Elam to take the male lead. I had intended the ghostly apparition of Malachi to be the one who swept her off her feet, but it simply didn’t happen that way. Blythe met Elam and that was that, she was hooked and so was he.

“Blythe Donovan?” An orderly stood next to her with a wheelchair. He was blond, blue eyed and had lovely dimples in both cheeks. “Hello. I’m Elam, your ride to radiology,” he said with a smile. “Have a seat and we’ll head out in style.” He winked at her, his mouth twitching as he tried to suppress a grin.

“We’ll be here when you get back,” her mother said, sobbing.

Blythe said nothing until the doors closed behind her. “You’d think I’d been half killed,” she muttered. “Which is why I didn’t want Jason to call them.”

“Is Jason your boyfriend? Fiancé?”

Blythe glanced at him over her shoulder. He was tall, broad shouldered and handsome. His short, blond hair was wavy and his eyes were a mysterious shade.

“My brother. Why?”

He chuckled. “Cause you’re very pretty and I’d hate to think you’re taken.”

“The engagement ring isn’t a give away?” She wiggled her finger at him.

“Which is why I asked. So, where is the guy who goes with the ring?”

“Arlington National Cemetery.”

“Wow, walked hard into that wall. I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you.” She looked at the ring. “I suppose I should take the ring off. It’s been a year.”

“You take it off when you’re ready,” he said softly. “And I am sorry. Just, you’re the prettiest woman to roll into my ER.”

“Are you trying to ask me out?”

He chuckled, nodding. “Yeah, well—I’m a guy. Sue me.”

He swung the chair around a corner, slithered past an old man with a janitor’s cart, and guided the chair into the radiology department.

“I’ll be waiting when you’re done,” he said.

“I’d give you a tip, but I left my purse with my mother.”

He chuckled, touching his forehead as he gave a deferential bow. “I live but to serve, miss.”

“Elam, are you flirting with a patient?” the technician teased.

“You caught me. Take good care of this one,” he said with a grin.

“I’ll do my best. Scoot.”

He went into the hall, closing the door behind him.

The technician took a series of films for the doctor to examine. When she was done, she opened the door. True to his word, Elam was waiting for them. He helped Blythe settle in the wheelchair and took off at a brisk pace.

“I’d give you a tour, but I think your presence is required elsewhere.”

“Thank you. I’ve seen more of the hospital today than I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s like a rabbit warren. I know all the best places to hide from the nurses and catch a nap—”

“Or hook up with a hot nurse?”

“Don’t let Grey’s Anatomy fool you. Most of our doctors and nurses are too busy looking after the patients to hump in the on-call rooms. Believe it or not, people actually sleep there.” He gasped a little for effect, taking the last turn so quickly, the chair tipped. He never lost control, righting it safely.

Blythe gave out a little Eep of surprise. Giggling, she thanked him for the ride. He bowed again, handing her a piece of paper with his name and number neatly printed on it.

“For when you decide to take off the ring,” he murmured. “Take your time.” He kissed her hand once more, before going back through the double doors separating them from the rest of the hospital.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Fragrance Lingers by Dellani

first meetingFortunately, for Mara Cross and Cole Bayard, their first meeting is a positive one. Mara hadn’t counted on having a vacation fling with a man she hardly knows, but there’s something special about Cole that she can’t quite put her finger on.

At the beach, Mara is doing her best to lose her mid-winter pallor. She’s got her fruity umbrella drink, her sunscreen and a few days worth of time to kill.

Mara tipped the chair up slightly and took out her book. It was a science fiction novel she’d been hoping to read for some time, but hadn’t gotten past the first few pages. She flipped back to the beginning and started reading. She was just getting into the story when a volleyball landed heavily in her lap, dropped to the ground beside her and knocked over her drink.

Mara looked up angrily and saw a man waving to her apologetically. He was medium height and build, with medium length, medium brown hair. He trotted up the beach, hand extended.

“I’m so sorry,” his tone was sincere with a hint of a Southern accent. “I guess my friend hit it harder than he needed to. We haven’t played in years, but he still thinks that he’s the king of the spike.”

He pointed down the beach to a short, squat, freckled, redheaded man in orange swim trunks. He looked embarrassed and his face was so red, it rivaled his hair.

“Sorry about that!” He called. He had a distinctive East Texas twang.

The man next to her picked up the volleyball in one hand. “Cole Bayard,” he extend the hand not holding the ball.

“Mara Cross. Who’s your pal?”

“He goes by Red Gilroy. Bet you can’t guess why.”

Mara chuckled, glancing at the man standing over her. He was better looking up close and had a firm chin and well toned physique. His navy blue swim trunks had big, white tropical flowers on them and rode low on his hips. What really caught her attention was the tattoo on his abdomen just below his navel.

All she could see were two brightly colored serpent’s heads intertwined, facing one another. She wondered how low the tattoo went below the level of his shorts. Shaking her head slightly, she realized he was speaking to her again. Blinking, she looked up at him, trying hard to focus.

“I’m sorry. I guess I’ve got a little jet lag.”

Cole grinned flashing even white teeth in his tanned face. “No problem, Miss Cross. I was just apologizing again for the volleyball. We didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“Not a problem. Call me Mara. Miss Cross sounds too much like work. I’m here to forget the office, not burrow deeper into it.”

Cole bounced the ball back and forth absently as if he were trying to make up his mind about something. “Mara, would you like to join Red and me for dinner?”

“Oh, well… I don’t know… It’s just….”

“I know, it’s abrupt, but we know some of the less traveled night spots. I’m here about six months out of the year and Red comes down fairly often. I sideline as a tour guide. It gives me something to do to take my mind off the office.” He said with a completely straight face.

“I’d like that, actually,” Mara decided. She was determined to enjoy herself. Dinner in a public place sounded harmless enough.

“Super! We’ll pick you up at six o’clock. Dress casually, the fancy spots are for tourists.” Grinning, he saluted her and ran back down to where Red was standing.

Cole moved with easy, unaffected grace, running effortlessly through the sand. When he got back to Red, he popped the ball hard over the net. It landed in his friend’s outstretched hands. Mara watched them play until they went back into the hotel together.

It was nearly one when Mara finally left the beach and went back to her room. A note had been slipped under her door. She opened it and grinned. It was covered in a sloppy scrawl.

“I continue to be sorry about the volleyball, but I’m very glad I met you. I look forward to dinner. Cole.”

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Crime Makes an Entrance by Dellani

first meetingDeacon Stewart has taken the job as technical director at a small, privately owned theatre in Florida. After a drug and alcohol induced episode, he needed a break from his high pressure job in Manhattan. When the owner of the theatre, Dino, invites him to drive down to the Orlando airport to pick up the lighting designer, he doesn’t know what to expect.

Dino chuckled, enjoying Deacon’s frustration too much. “I guess it’s fine to tell you now. I was able to get Hillary K. Du Champs.”

The name was not unknown to Deacon, he had heard it often enough in theater circles up north.

“Hillary Du Champs? Sounds like a little, old French lady with a bad accent.”

Deacon went on in some detail watching Dino’s smile suddenly fade rapidly. Turning around, he saw a petite, auburn haired woman glaring up at him. She held three or four large bags which she dropped almost on Deacon’s feet.

Dino’s smile was artificial, his tan turned a few shades lighter. “Deacon Stewart, I’d like to introduce you to our lighting designer,” he gulped. “Hillary Du Champs.”

Deacon held out his hand, taking his cap off his head. “Pleased to meet you, Ms. Du Champs.”

She glared at him and didn’t take his proffered hand. “Don’t mind me,” she said with a strong Australian accent, “I’m just a little, old French lady with a bad accent!”

Deacon sighed, realizing he had put his foot in deeply this time. As penance, he picked up three of the bags, Ms. Du Champs snatched the smallest off the floor before he could touch it.

“Who’s the flunky?” she directed impolitely at Dino.

She walked ahead of Deacon, beside Dino who shortened his stride to compensate for her lack of stature. She couldn’t be much over five feet tall, Deacon thought. He’d never gotten along well with little women. They tended to be bossy and arrogant, with something to prove.

Deacon was around six foot three and lanky of build. His dark blond hair was curly, unruly and a constant source of aggravation to him. His blue eyes were rimmed with dark eyelashes, giving him a sleepy look. In high school, he’d been mistakenly accused of being stoned more often than he could count.

In an act of defiance of his military foster father, he’d gotten plugs in his ears and an eyebrow pierced. Several tattoos decorated his arms and another on his right buttock, a challenge from a college Jasper one night when they were too drunk to give a shit. He was sure he presented a bedraggled figure to the compact, attractive and well groomed woman ahead of him. Not quite the picture of a well qualified professional man.

He noted absently that she had a great figure and a nice, tight ass, which distracted him so much, he nearly ran into the door jam as the automatic door slid open. He set the bags down as they waited for the elevator and looked down at Hillary.

“I’m sorry about what I said. I didn’t realize you were there.”

“And that makes it all right to insult me, as I can’t hear you? You’re an uneducated buffoon, Mr. Whatever. I hope to have as little contact with you as possible. So just do your job, tote the bags and don’t talk to me!”

Deacon’s temper nearly got the better of him, but the elevator arrived giving them a few moments of struggle as they pulled her bags on board and hit the button for the parking garage.

Getting to the car, Dino opened the back and Deacon loaded the bags into the luggage space. He tried to open the door for Ms. Du Champs, but she walked pointedly away from him. He slid in the front seat himself, shutting the door in her face.

“Now see here,” she reprimanded him. “Since when does the flunky sit in the front seat and the professional woman sit in the back seat with the cooler?”

Deacon rolled his eyes in her direction, giving her a scathing look before lowering the brim of his cap over his eyes, resuming his relaxed travel position. “Since the flunky is the technical director of the theater and the professional woman is being a snooty bitch.” He said firmly, fastening his seat belt with an abrupt snap.

Dino started the car and took off in his usual cavalier style. Ms. Du Champs was silent for some time, just trying to stay in an upright position while Dino drove down the ramps at forty miles an hour. He cut into the outgoing traffic and sped into the night, zipping in and out of traffic seemingly at random.

“Really, Dino, do you have to drive so carelessly?” She was griping at him now, leaving Deacon off the hook for the time being.

“It’s better when you don’t look,” Deacon murmured, sliding lower into the seat.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Portrait of Love by Dellani

first meetingWhen Vik Windsor meets Gemma Reinhardt, she is actually dating his best friend and roommate, Ken. Oddly, though, Ken isn’t so much interested in dating Gemma as he is in painting her portrait. She reluctantly agrees to sit for him, and he is expecting her to arrive when Vik comes home.

There was a knock on the door. Vik was closer, so he opened it.

“I’m sorry. I’m looking for Kendrick.”

“That’s very disappointing,” Vik replied, leaning against the doorframe. “I’m Vik. Ken’s right here, pining away for you. He wasn’t sure you’d show.”

Kendrick made an exasperated sound behind him. Vik laughed.

“I’m telling his secrets. Please, come in.”

He flashed a charming smile. Gemma smiled hesitantly in return, walking around him timidly, giving him a wide berth. She scurried past him to stand by Kendrick.

“Vik is my roommate. He’s also an artist. The other half of the two man show.”

“The less talented half,” Vik said with a smirk. “And you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” He walked closer, hands in his pockets, a cheeky grin on his face. His eyes examined her pointedly, admiringly.

Gemma wasn’t sure how to react to that. She retreated from him slightly, standing closer to Kendrick, who gave her a peck on the cheek.

“I wasn’t sure you’d come. I hoped.”

“Bernie, the maid, you met her last night. She told me I owed it to myself to discover the adventure.”

“I’m not sure I know what that means.”

“Me either,” Gemma admitted. “But I’m here. I won’t go nude,” she said hastily. “But I brought some dresses that might work. Including the red one from last night because you seemed to like it so much.”

“Thank you,” Kendrick said, giving her another kiss on the cheek.

Vik’s brown eyes watched the exchange with interest. His friend was clearly interested in Gemma, though not in the way that Vik was. Ken found her a fascinating subject for his art. Vik found her fascinating in a variety of different ways, none of which pertained to art in any discernible way. She was clearly struggling with her decision, but determined to embrace the new experience.

“Shall I change?” She held up the dresses, casting about for a place to go.

“In a little while. Why don’t we talk about what I’m looking for?”

“Okay. I thought a portrait?”

“Not exactly. I want to explore your essence.”

Vik couldn’t control a snort. Kendrick glared at him. Gemma looked up, surprised that he was still there.

“Sorry. Sorry. Don’t mind me. I’m gonna get a beer. Ken? Gemma?”

“No, thank you,” Gemma replied, tersely. Her dark eyes looked him over, categorized him and dismissed him.

Vik had never felt so innocuous before. He wasn’t sure he liked the feeling. He’d never had a woman blow him off like that. He was more than passably good looking and charming. He never lacked for female companionship, yet she wouldn’t give him the time of day, he was sure.

“No, thanks.” Ken blew him off too.

Shrugging, Vik walked into the kitchen and got himself a beer. Popping the cap off against the counter, he took a long pull on it. He’d been on the go steadily for a week, drumming up sponsors for their art show, as well as customers for a new web design business they hoped to start together. Kendrick was the major talent, but Vik was the smooth talker, the charmer. He could sell people the moon and stars if he tried hard enough. It had been a very successful venture and he felt pretty good about it. It was obvious that he wasn’t going to have a chance to talk to his friend while Gemma was there, so he went upstairs for a shower.

 

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from He Needed Killin’

He Needed Killin possible cover photo2This is from my newest finished novel, He Needed Killin’ (not yet published). It’s only been read by one person, a lady who loaned her name to the text, Tory Copeland—cause she’s awesome (and so is the character named after her). Though this isn’t specifically the first meeting, it’s the first conversation between Dill and Haylee.

“So, RJ found you, huh?”

“Yeah. Not sure how that happened.”

“I do. Leanne, our dispatcher, told him when he called in. We asked her not to, but she’s honest to a fault, and it felt like a lie. In her defense, she thought he was genuinely worried about you. He can be damn convincing when he wants.”

“Yeah. He’s a snake.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“I worked partly in the office, then Bark needed me on the bar. I have experience, so I agreed. Good night, no serious issues. It felt great to be back around people, you know? It’s real isolated out there with only RJ for company. Once in awhile, he’d have a visitor, but I wasn’t allowed to talk to them. I saw Carla when she came up. Once in awhile, on my day off, I saw some folks.” He shrugged, shaking his head.

“How did you live like that?”

Dill chuckled, his gray-green eyes focusing on hers as he laid his arms on the table, hands folded. “Honestly? I have no idea. I had no other choice. Or I thought I didn’t.”

“What made you leave?”

Glancing away, Dill swallowed. He looked so young, vulnerable, Haylee wanted to hug him.

“He slapped me. All the time. What kind of a man slaps people?” His eyes darted back to hers. “And what kind of a man stands there and takes it? I stayed because I needed the money. Then it got to the point where the money wasn’t enough to make up for the humiliation. I’d rather work in a strip club with women grabbing my ass, than spend another second with that man. I was on my way back to the Purple Pony when I stopped here for dinner. Bark offered me a job, so I stayed.”

Haylee nodded, scribbling in her notebook. She couldn’t look at him. Tears welled in her eyes and she bit her lip so she wouldn’t cry. Mouth in a tight line, she swallowed and regrouped before looking up again.

While she wrote, Dill watched her. She was a pretty woman, firm jaw, high cheekbones, full lips. Her pale blonde hair was natural. Her body sported a light tan which was mostly tightly grouped freckles. She looked up at him again and he noticed that her eyes were a startling, penetrating turquoise, like a mountain lake. Swallowing quickly, he tried to pretend he hadn’t been staring.

“So, RJ found out from Leanne that you were here. Had he been drinking when he came in?”

“I’m not sure. I wasn’t that close. He was furious and started yelling about getting me back and exacting revenge. He gets very dramatic when he’s mad, starts to talk like a movie script. He made some threats and that’s when Joe ran for Bark. Bark came out with his rifle and told him to leave, but he refused. Shortly after that, you arrived.”

“Where are you staying?”

“Here. Bark’s got a couple rooms. It’s part of my wages.”

She nodded, scribbling notes. “Phone number?”

He rattled it off. “I took the battery out, though.”

“Why’s that?”

“RJ. I didn’t want him to track me. He’s got a program on his computer. Guess I can put it back in. Not like he doesn’t know where I am.”

“Good point. Besides, your mom might call, or something.”

“No, she won’t. She and my dad are dead.”

“Oh, my God, I’m so sorry!”

He wiggled his fingers to indicate that it wasn’t a problem. “They’ve been gone almost twenty years. I don’t remember them.”

“Do you have any pictures?”

“Used to. You lose things in foster care.”

Haylee couldn’t stop herself. She took his hand, squeezing his fingers. “I’m so sorry.”

Dill looked surprised and his gaze dropped to their clasped hands. Her hand was pale against his, but strong and her broad palms were calloused.

“People die,” he said calmly. “But thank you.” Raising her hand to his lips, he kissed it.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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First Meeting from Indian Summer Revisited

first meetingI am a big fan of first meetings, or the Meet Cute as they are called in romantic comedies. These often set the tone for the relationship, and tell us a lot about how the couple will interact with one another later in the story. Although they get off to a somewhat rough start, Malin Dimas and Carina Enriques-Deza find that they are mutually interested. Carina is an art student who loves photography. She’s so absorbed in her projects, she doesn’t always pay attention where she’s going, particularly if she’s in a rush.

Class ended, but Carina hardly noticed. She had another class, then she had to work. Her less than glamorous job was waiting tables at a small outdoor restaurant on Hypolita Street.

Rushing to her class, she neatly avoided running into anyone until she got to the staircase. Going from the bright sun to the sudden shade, she was still wearing her sunglasses. She ran headlong into a tall, broad shouldered body. Her bag went one way, her body the other, while the strong male hardly moved. He did grunt, her elbow having caught him inadvertently in the midsection.

Carina sprawled on the ground, cursing in Spanish and English as the man tried to help her up. Hardly looking at him, she was trying to find the things that had fallen out of her bag.

Her phone had landed in a shallow puddle. Her pens and lip gloss were nowhere to be found. A well calloused, long fingered hand helped her up, brushing her off as a pleasant tenor voice apologized for running her down.

“I’m so sorry. I got sun dazzled I guess,” he said quietly, handing her the lip gloss and pens. “I got in this dark and I couldn’t see a damn thing. Sorry about that.” His soft Southern accent was warm and welcoming.

Carina looked up at him. He had black hair and dark brown eyes. Her own jade green eyes locked with his for a moment and she smiled.

“It’s okay. I couldn’t see either. Environmental hazard living in Florida.”

“Beg pardon?” He looked confused.

“Sunshine,” she pointed skyward.

“Well, it is the Sunshine State, right?”

“Yeah. Sorry, I really need to run. I’ve got class.”

“Oh, sure. Sorry again.”

“No problem. Sorry I elbowed your gut.”

“Missed the nuts,” he said with a grin.

Carina giggled as she trotted up the stairs. The young man walked with her, taking the steps two at a time.

“I bet your girlfriend will be grateful for that,” she said as he opened the stairwell door for her.

“Don’t have one, but I’m mighty happy you missed ’em. I’ve grown a bit attached to them over the years.”

With a sidelong glance, she eased past him as he held the door for her. He stood by it, leaning on the edge, gazing down at her. There was barely enough room to slip through, but she did because she was in a hurry. Waving to him, she dodged in her classroom as the instructor was about to close the door.

“Carina, nice you could join us.”

“Sorry. I fell,” she explained as she walked past him.

“You okay?” Those were the last words that made their way into the hallway.

Malin Dimas shouldered his backpack and walked downstairs. He would have used any excuse to walk that girl to her class. He didn’t have another class until eleven, so he headed to the nearest coffee shop, got a large double shot and wandered to the Plaza in front of Government House. Sitting on the steps of the Slave Market, he gazed out over the town.

© 2016 Dellani Oakes

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