Tag Archive | Crime Makes an Entrance

Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 3

Deacon popped the can open and set it in the cup holder between the seats. Before opening his own, he held it against his forehead, letting the condensed water on the outside pool on his forehead and run down his nose.

“You okay, Deac?”

“Yeah, just looking over everything that has to be done. It’s a hell of a job, Dino. I’m not sure we’ll make opening. Are you sure you want to try for that?”

“Well, it’s keeping in the whole rebuilding the theater thing, Deacon. That was the original show date six years ago. I’d like to keep to that. We can get more men, got to be plenty of out of work construction people around.”

“We need some experienced set painters, lighting and sound techs. Construction guys can’t do that. They’ll do fine with the actual construction, but not the decoration.”

“I’ve got a deal with the local college. They’ll be sending over their junior and senior students, who need some practical experience. They are working for a minimal stipend, and the glitz on their resumes.” He flashed a five star smile.

Dino would spend money like water, but if he could get something cheap, he took it. Deacon laughed. The alternative wasn’t pretty. He didn’t want an argument with his new boss.

“Okay, so you have me a tech crew of green kids, a set crew of construction workers and a professional lighting designer. Is this another case of sympathy, or did you really snag some talent this time?”

Dino chuckled, checking his mirrors before merging onto I-95 South. “Just wait, you’ll be surprised.”

“Is it someone I know?”

“I doubt it. Been in the field quite a while, done some work with Theater Works and the like. Just looking for a change of scene I guess. Florida does have some small appeal, after all.”

Dino was being cagey and wanted to surprise Deacon, causing a shiver of apprehension to run down his spine. Anytime anyone had ever said to him, you’ll be surprised, he usually was, and unpleasantly.

Tipping his Metallica hat over his eyes, Deacon leaned back, folding his hands on his broad chest to rest for the remainder of the trip. He didn’t really like the way Dino drove, and the less he saw of the actual trip to the Orlando airport at rush hour, the better he felt. Dino didn’t seem to mind, just turned up his music and sang along.

He had decent taste in music, anyway and not a bad voice. Soon, Deacon was falling asleep with the eerie lyrics of Bodies Like Sheep by A Perfect Circle, fluttering around in his mind. Go back to sleep, go back to sleep….

He dozed without dreaming, waking when he felt the car come to a lurching stop outside a restaurant. It was one of the many Dino owned, a casual place which wouldn’t mind the fact that Deacon wasn’t dressed for a night on the town. He got the impression his new boss didn’t want to drag his grubby ass to the nicer spots. Deacon didn’t care, to be honest. He didn’t like fancy places, and wasn’t comfortable in them.

They were led to the best table in the house and relaxed, listening to the band. Dino always had live music, and gave local bands a chance. Several had gotten recording contracts because of his sponsorship. This band didn’t really suit Deacon’s taste, being of the hard core genre. It wasn’t exactly good dinner music, but since the meal was free, he wasn’t arguing. He ordered a Philly Steak platter and a Coke, in deference to his employer. He’d rather have had a beer, but didn’t think it was polite. He could wait until he got home, and pop open a few. He intended to spend another night in front of the TV in Dino’s well appointed guest house. The fridge was constantly restocked, by some unseen worker, with the best beers in the world. He could have whatever he wanted and more magically appeared.

The band switched to some mellower music as the dinner crowd dribbled in around six. He and Dino sat around, talking, making plans. At seven o’clock, they left the restaurant and drove to the airport. Dino found a spot to park in the large parking garage and slid into it, barely missing the Mercedes on his left and the minivan on his right.

The the two men went to the luggage pick up and waited for the lighting designer. Deacon looked around at the long room blankly. He hated airports, and he detested waiting for people in them.

“Want to give me a description, so I can help look?”

“Not to worry, I’ll know.”

“Mind telling me the name?”

Dino looked at his watch, checked the arrival board and started down the long expanse of luggage pick up.

“Wouldn’t you know, the last one on this end? Isn’t it always like that?”

“The name, Dino?” He wasn’t so much curious as he was just annoyed with the secrecy.

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.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 2

Deacon shuddered again, this time from cold. It was about forty degrees in there. Even with his heavy pants, boots and sweater, he was chilly. It was colder back home, but there was something to be said about the difference in humidity. He had located the heating and air conditioning unit, and had someone work on it; weekend overtime, he sighed. He was competent with a lot of things, but he wasn’t secure with electricity. He left that to the experts.

He found a light switch, flicked it on and the dressing room blazed with dozens of light bulbs. There were cobwebs in the wigs which had been left out on the counter. Boxes of theater makeup were open and about a ton of dust covered the tubes. The floor was also thick with sand drifting in through the cracks in the walls and foundation, around windows and under doors. It was a petrified wasteland.

I’m never gonna get this ready in time. Some low stress.

He was going to end up half killing himself on late nights and early mornings. At least coffee was cheaper than cocaine, and caffeine wouldn’t bring on a psychotic episode. He had to thank heaven for his blessings, no matter how small.

The opening play Dino had chosen to present was the ill fated show which had been slated to go up six years ago. It was a who-done-it spoof called Any Number Can Die. The set was already designed and partially built. Deacon had to see how much of the lumber, canvas and paint needed replacing. He didn’t hold out much hope of salvaging anything. Florida weather was pretty harsh on building materials, even if they were under cover. What the heat and humidity hadn’t destroyed, he was afraid the bugs had.

Sunday, was scheduled for stage clean up. La Petite Theater Society, who had been the backbone of the theater in the old days, had volunteered to come in and clear the stage and dressing rooms so that auditions could commence on Monday.

Deacon thought that having the technicians and construction people there, at the same time actors were going to be wandering about, was a serious judgment error. Dino insisted, he wanted the cast to get the feel for their environment. Deacon wasn’t in a position to argue, so he said what he thought, and closed his mouth. He’d learned the futility of arguing with directors a long time ago.

Making a mental list of all the tasks to be done, he decided that was not only pointless, it was foolish. Surely there would be paper in the office. He never went anywhere without a pen and pencil, but paper wasn’t included in his pocket inventory. This particular implement was left from a set Frieda had given him on their first anniversary. He used it, hoping it would run out of ink so he would have the excuse to throw it away. Unlike their relationship, it kept going interminably.

The office was locked, but he had a huge ring of keys Dino had given him. Each was carefully marked. Choosing the one marked technical director, he opened the door and searched until he found a stack of typing paper. He sat in the rather dubious chair, that looked like it was WW II Army surplus, and started his list. Each entry sparked a new idea and soon he had three handwritten pages. His printing was precise, having drawn set designs for so many years. He was getting a cramp in his left hand and put his pen down to massage it thoughtfully.

The phone next to his elbow rang, startling him so much, he jumped away as if it were a snake. Tentatively, he picked it up and spoke softly, the sound of his own voice echoing in the silent building, making him think he was waking old ghosts.

“Seaside Little Theater, may I help you?”

Dino’s familiar baritone shout greeted him. He was the singularly loudest man Deacon had ever met. He meant well and was sparing no expense getting the place up and running. He could afford it, being the third richest man in the entire state.

“Deac! How are you! They got the phone connected, that’s super! Did you get the power on?”

“Yeah, I found the breaker switches about thirty minutes ago. The heat’s on and warming up nicely in here.”

“Excellent! Listen, why don’t you call it a day, for now. You can’t do any of the cleanup solo. Besides, I have to pick up the lighting designer in Orlando. You fancy a drive down? I hate making that trip alone. The company would be welcome. We’ll catch dinner downtown and head to the airport. The plane is in around seven forty-five.”

“Sure, sounds good. I’ll lock up and turn off the lights and see you when you get here.”

Deacon hung up and made the rounds checking doors, windows and lights, bidding a goodnight to the ghosts. He shut and locked the front door behind him, just as Dino drove up in his bright yellow SUV.

Hopping into the front seat, Deacon stretched out his long legs, relaxing in the luxury of the dark leather interior. Dino spared no expense on anything he owned. This was maxed out, complete with a DVD player and video game hook up in the back. Not that Dino had any kids, he just wanted the whole package, and paid cash for it. They threw in spinners, mud flaps, and chrome wheel rims for free.

“There’s some drinks in the back, grab one. You must be thirsty after being in all that dust.”

Dino was fastidious, but didn’t even blink at all the dust and cobwebs Deacon dragged into his car. He’d pay someone to clean it out later.

There was an electric cooler in the back. Deacon reached into it, finding a selection of soft drinks. Dino was a recovering alcoholic, he had nothing stronger than root beer. Grabbing a Coke, he asked Dino what he’d have.

“Vanilla Coke, thanks.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Crime Makes an Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes Part 1

In the semi-dark of the old building, its musty smell strong in his nostrils, Deacon Stewart shuddered away the story that the place was haunted. Theater people tended to be somewhat superstitious and melodramatic, creating tales of deaths in the theater, accidents which befell the unwary and unbelievers. Anything from decapitation by a piece of falling scenery, to suicide pacts between love struck actors and actresses. Deacon made his way carefully through the clutter of the back storage room carrying a flashlight. The main circuit breaker had to be here somewhere. The power had been turned on the day before, and he still couldn’t find the damn breaker box in the cold darkness.

What made the stories stronger and more alarming, in this case, some of them were true. There were documented deaths associated with this place. Nothing sensational, just a few freaky accidents that had caused it to be shut down about six years ago.

One such accident was that involving an electrician who was hanging lights. He had a Leko in need of repairs already on the baton. He should have brought it down to fix it, but instead had simply unplugged it, leaving the cable hanging near the ladder. Someone had come along, not realizing what he was doing up on the ladder and plugged it in. Instant, crispy fried techie.

That was the most recent in a long history of such incidents. The theater closed the same day, and had not reopened until Deacon Stewart was hired to run it for the winter snowbird season, in a small, seaside town in Florida.

Having finally located the circuit breakers behind a pile of empty boxes, he examined the panel, the wires, and the immediate area carefully before hitting the main switch. Without a spark, the panel clicked and the dim backstage lights came on, glimmering merrily, teasing him with their cheerfulness.

Breathing a sigh of relief, he took off the protective rubber gloves he wore, thanking God for a small favor. This was one thing, at least, that did not require his immediate attention. He couldn’t say the same thing for the rest of the place. They’d brought in an exterminator to rid them of the carpenter ants and palmetto bugs infesting the attic and walls of the old wooden structure. Once the fumes cleared, the renovations started, beginning with the power being restored.

The building itself dated back to the early forties when the area was used by the military. It looked every bit its age. It needed a major overhaul if it was to be ready on time for its grand re-opening on January Twenty-seventh. Deacon hoped he could find competent people to help him. He had taken the job mostly because it was supposed to be a low stress environment. The doctors had told him he had to avoid stress. Being lead designer in a major theater scenery company in New York City, wasn’t conducive to low stress levels.

After an episode, as it was so tactfully diagnosed by the psychiatrists, he had been put on forced leave of absence, and told to get his shit together before coming back to work. They couldn’t fire him, he was part owner of the company, but they could make him take a vacation.

The episode was brought on by a combination of stress and cocaine, not a period of his life that he was proud of. Also adding to the problem was the recent break up with his long time girlfriend, Frieda Massey. She was an actress who worked mostly off-off Broadway; second rate at best. She had finally landed a good job as a minor character on a new sitcom filming in LA. She hadn’t hesitated to take the job, and flew out of his life, as if he never existed.

Two weeks later, he’d gone wild in the shop, shooting the nail gun into a piece of plywood, screaming and crying hysterically. Then he tried to kill himself with the radial arm saw. He’d intended to cut his own head off, but that wasn’t a terribly easy thing to accomplish. Some fast thinking tech pulled the plug on the saw before he even had his head all the way on the table. Several months and extensive therapy later, the episode behind him, he was told by his two partners he needed a break.

“Go south, young man,” Bernie said. “Florida is nice this time of year. Not too cold, not too hot. I have a friend who owns a small place down there, he’s looking for a Technical Director to open it back up. I put a word in for you. You’re hired.”

Deacon’s protests were ignored. Bernie helped him pack. Maxine, Bernie’s wife, and the other partner, drove him to the airport. If she could have put him on the plane personally, she would have. She stayed by the security gate until his plane took off. He arrived in Orlando three hours later and was picked up by Bernie’s friend Dino.

Dino’s parents must have had a sick sense of humor. Their last name was Sawyer. Despite growing up a living parody, he was a nice guy. Big, blond, darkly tanned, he had inherited the theater from his great uncle. Having always loved acting and directing, he decided to open the theater for the winter season. It was Deacon’s job to whip it into shape.

“I’ve hired a crew to come in starting early Monday morning. Bunch of guys I know who work construction. Not too many jobs in the winter, even here, so they agreed eagerly.”

Today was Saturday, and Deacon had come in late Thursday afternoon, to find the tents just being taken off the building. They left it open to air out all day Friday, and the power was turned on by three o’clock. It took hours to find the circuit breakers in the dim recesses of the building. Having very few windows, all of which were filthy, Deacon could hardly see, even with a high powered flashlight.

Scenery and building supplies littered the entire backstage area. All the supplies had been delivered for the show when the electrician died. Pieces of set were already in place, one dark spot on the floor bore grim testimony to his untimely passing.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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Raven Willoughby is Over. What’s Next?

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did sharing it with you. I decided to change it up a little, and share one of my first romances with you. I wrote this back in 2006. Set here in Florida, it incorporates my love of theatre, romance, and some tasty suspense.

Deacon Steward suffered an emotional breakdown a few months ago, at his job in New York. Feeling better now, he’s taken a job at a small theatre in Florida. It’s supposed to be restful, but suddenly, things take a turn. Instead of relaxing, he’s running for his life.

Join me next time for Crime Make and Entrance ~ A Love Under the Sun Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes.

Teaser from Crime Makes an Entrance Chapter One

In the semi-dark of the old building, its musty smell strong in his nostrils, Deacon Stewart shuddered away the story that the place was haunted. Theater people tended to be somewhat superstitious and melodramatic, creating tales of deaths in the theater, accidents which befell the unwary and unbelievers. Anything from decapitation by a piece of falling scenery, to suicide pacts between love struck actors and actresses. Deacon made his way carefully through the clutter of the back storage room carrying a flashlight. The main circuit breaker had to be here somewhere. The power had been turned on the day before, and he still couldn’t find the damn breaker box in the cold darkness.

What made the stories stronger and more alarming, in this case, some of them were true. There were documented deaths associated with this place. Nothing sensational, just a few freaky accidents that had caused it to be shut down about six years ago.

One such accident was that involving an electrician who was hanging lights. He had a Leko in need of repairs already on the baton. He should have brought it down to fix it, but instead had simply unplugged it, leaving the cable hanging near the ladder. Someone had come along, not realizing what he was doing up on the ladder and plugged it in. Instant, crispy fried techie.

That was the most recent in a long history of such incidents. The theater closed the same day, and had not reopened until Deacon Stewart was hired to run it for the winter snowbird season, in a small, seaside town in Florida.

Having finally located the circuit breakers behind a pile of empty boxes, he examined the panel, the wires, and the immediate area carefully before hitting the main switch. Without a spark, the panel clicked and the dim backstage lights came on, glimmering merrily, teasing him with their cheerfulness.

Breathing a sigh of relief, he took off the protective rubber gloves he wore, thanking God for a small favor. This was one thing, at least, that did not require his immediate attention. He couldn’t say the same thing for the rest of the place. They’d brought in an exterminator to rid them of the carpenter ants and palmetto bugs infesting the attic and walls of the old wooden structure. Once the fumes cleared, the renovations started, beginning with the power being restored.

The building itself dated back to the early forties when the area was used by the military. It looked every bit its age. It needed a major overhaul if it was to be ready on time for its grand re-opening on January Twenty-seventh. Deacon hoped he could find competent people to help him. He had taken the job mostly because it was supposed to be a low stress environment. The doctors had told him he had to avoid stress. Being lead designer in a major theater scenery company in New York City, wasn’t conducive to low stress levels.

After an episode, as it was so tactfully diagnosed by the psychiatrists, he had been put on forced leave of absence, and told to get his shit together before coming back to work. They couldn’t fire him, he was part owner of the company, but they could make him take a vacation.

The episode was brought on by a combination of stress and cocaine, not a period of his life that he was proud of. Also adding to the problem was the recent break up with his long time girlfriend, Frieda Massey. She was an actress who worked mostly off-off Broadway; second rate at best. She had finally landed a good job as a minor character on a new sitcom filming in LA. She hadn’t hesitated to take the job, and flew out of his life, as if he never existed.

Two weeks later, he’d gone wild in the shop, shooting the nail gun into a piece of plywood, screaming and crying hysterically. Then he tried to kill himself with the radial arm saw. He’d intended to cut his own head off, but that wasn’t a terribly easy thing to accomplish. Some fast thinking tech pulled the plug on the saw before he even had his head all the way on the table. Several months and extensive therapy later, the episode behind him, he was told by his two partners he needed a break.

©2021 Dellani Oakes

Crime Makes an Entrance

First meetings are important, but so are the times that the hero and heroine realize they are interested in one another. I took a couple more pages from the same story I used on Facebook to show how they got from point A (irritation), to point B (interest). Deacon made the mistake of teasing Hillary (Kacy) about her name. She called him a buffoon and yelled at him. They argued even more when they realized they had to share a house for the run of the show.

“I think we got off on the wrong foot last night,” he said honestly. “How about a truce over coffee?”

She smiled weakly. “I’m a bit sensitive about my name, I’m afraid. Got teased a lot as a kid.”

He smiled sardonically. “Try growing up with the name Deacon Phineas Stewart, makes Hillary Du Champs sound pretty inviting to me.”

She grinned, slipping out the door of her room still wearing the short robe and not much else that he could see. She was the first woman he’d seen up close and nearly naked for months. He felt stirrings in himself that he’d hoped were dead, for awhile anyway.

“Damnation,” he thought, “why did she have to be so cute?”

Leading the way to the kitchen, he set up the coffee and started it brewing. He was rather proud of his coffee. He had the knack of blending it so it was almost lethally strong, but not bitter. When Deacon talked about black coffee, he meant black not dark brown. When it was ready, he poured it in two mugs, setting it down on the table in front of her with a slight click. He got out half and half and sugar and put them on the table as well, handing her a spoon.

She didn’t say anything, just sat sipping her coffee, gazing out the window at the beach. The tide was coming in and flowing in eddying pools, creating patches of blue all over the sand. People were out for their early morning jogs or riding bikes and walking dogs in the surf.
Deacon hadn’t spent much time on the beach yet, he’d not had a chance, but they didn’t have to be at the theater until nine and it was only seven.

“Want to go for a walk? Be nice to get fresh air. I’ve been in the City so long though, not sure my lungs can take it.”

“I’ll pass, thanks. I need to get a shower and wash my hair before we go to work.”

“You might want to wait on the hair for now,” he said contemplatively. “The old place is pretty filthy. You’d do better just to put a bandana over it and wash it when you get back.”

She looked at him, trying to judge if he was serious or not. “Maybe I’ll wait then. Thanks.”

She rose and walked quickly back to her room. He watched her walk away, once again admiring the view. She had a great ass, so tight he could bounce a quarter off it. Even though she was short, she could strut like a super model. He couldn’t help staring as she walked away from him, trying hard to control the drool suddenly pouring into his half open mouth.

Figuring he should at least attempt to get some of yesterday’s grime off himself, he went to his room and started the shower, turning on the CD player loud enough to hear over the water. He enjoyed the hot water and despite his advice to Ms. Du Champs, washed his own hair before he remembered.

He was just drying off when he heard screams coming from her room. It was a really gut wrenching scream, so he figured he’d better see what it was. Running out of his room with just a towel around him, he got to her room in a matter of seconds. She was running out, a damp towel clutched around her, when they collided. Towels fell to the floor and they stared at one another in shock. He recovered his aplomb first, picking up their towels, he handed hers back to her, holding his in front of him.

“Are you all right? I heard screams.”

“Huge, ugly! Huge!” She was in a near panic, pointing at the room.

“What, where?” He walked into the room and she scurried in behind him.

“Bathroom! Huge!”

He walked in and saw the source of her fear. A giant banana spider was in the corner of the shower, gazing down on them with enigmatic charm.

“That? That’s why you are screaming?”

She clutched her towel, hiding behind him, shivering. “I hate spiders,” she said in a quavering voice. “Kill it! Kill it! Please?” She added as an afterthought.

Looking around for a suitable weapon, he found nothing. Her shoes were too small to be much use and his were too far away. He didn’t think she’d want him to leave, so he took his towel, rolled it up and snapped it with expert precision at the spider. It fell to the bottom of the tub where he scooped it up with her slipper and tossed it into the toilet, flushing it as it tried to climb up the side.

She was shivering and cowering just inside the doorway when he turned around. He still held the towel in one hand and the slipper in another, smiling broadly.

“See? All gone, no more huge, ugly spider.”

It was then he realized he was naked. He felt the blush start at his neck, work its way up his face and creep to the roots of his hair.

“Excuse me,” he held the towel in front of himself again, not even bothering to wrap it around his waist, and scurried from the room.

If he had seen the look that Hillary Du Champs gave him as he walked rapidly away, he might have stayed in her room, but he didn’t. She watched him thoughtfully as he bustled back to the master bedroom, slamming the door behind him. With eyebrow raised, she clicked her door shut and got dressed with great care.