Tag Archive | Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 44

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

With both Butch and Sue in custody, Jasper takes a team to go examine the home of Troy’s grandmother.

As much as he didn’t want to enter the Berman/ Intriago household again, Jasper was pleased to lead the raid. He had the warrant in hand. Sending two officers around back, he and his friend, Aaron, took the front. Taking their positions on either side of the door, he nodded. Aaron thumped on the door with his fist.

“Mrs. Berman, Police. Open up.” He thudded on the door again.

Glancing in the window, Jasper saw the old woman sitting in her chair. She wasn’t moving. The dogs barked, a cacophony of yapping filled the air.

“Try the knob,” Jasper ordered.

Aaron tried it and the door opened.

“Mrs. Berman. Ma’am? Gertrude?”

The dogs capered and barked, getting in his way. Jasper walked over to Gertrude Berman’s chair and felt her pulse. It was weak and thready. Her respiration was sharp and shallow, as she gulped for air. The air was even more fetid than when he’d been there before, and it didn’t take long to determine that the old lady had shit herself. Calling EMS, he warned them of the situation. Leaving her for the moment, he moved toward the back door and let the other officers in.

The kitchen was knee deep in storm debris. Part of the roof had come down. Plaster, insulation and shingles littered the room And something else caught his eye. It was a bright pink woman’s jacket. There was no way in hell that would fit Gertrude Berman, even if she were likely to put on an athletic hoodie with a big, sparkling W bedazzled on the breast. There was blood on the jacket, and something more he didn’t want to identify. After taking some pictures, he carefully, he picked it up, looking for identification. A license and a set of keys tumbled into his searching hand. The pretty face, framed by lush blonde hair, told a sad story.

“It’s Wendy’s,” he told the others. “Lock this place down. It’s a crime scene. Aaron, you got your kit in the car?”

“Yes, sir. You don’t want me to call Sherri?”

Jasper rolled his eyes. “Do you think this is the appropriate place for her?”

“No. Of course. I wasn’t thinking. I’ll be right back. EMS is here. I’ll let them in and call Animal Control. We can’t have these dogs around while we process the scene.”

“Good idea. Thanks.”

The other two officers had locked the back door, but went around opening the windows. The stench was enough to choke an entire army. Jasper found the air conditioner and started the fan, hoping to suck out the smell.

Minutes later, Animal Control pulled up. Behind them, Scott rolled in. By this time, EMS had collected Gertrude. She was breathing, but she was in bad shape.

“Looks like she might have been drugged,” one EMT said. “But it’s hard to tell. Jesus, this place! How do people live like this?”

“No clue. Thanks. Keep me posted?” Scott asked.

“You got it.”

The Animal Control offier, with the help of the two blond policemen, rounded up the dogs.

“First thing we’ll do is get you each a nice, hot bath. Won’t that be fun? You poor babies. I don’t think they’ve ever been clean. And this one, bless her heart, is expecting!”

It took some doing to go through the kitchen for evidence, but there were enough trace specimens on the table and floor to show them that this was where Wendy was raped and killed. Aaron, with the help of another officer, went over the scene twice to be sure they had photographed and gathered everything.

While this was going on, Scott and Jasper found the grow room. It was on the enclosed Florida room off the back. Someone had been enterprising enough to tap illegally into the power line, to keep the power use off the police radar. There were dozens of healthy plants in the spacious, spotless room, which ran the length of the house. A sophisticated watering system was set up to tend to the plants, and the air in here was fresh, though it did smell of weed. They left the doors open, to help the house odor.

“I’m never gonna get this stench off me,” Jasper said.

“I’m gonna have to boil or burn this suit. I can’t come home smelling like this.”

“We can’t go back to the station like this,” Jasper said. “Vanessa would throw us out!” His phone rang and he recognized the number of the EMS. “Go for Waters.”

“I’m sorry, Jasper. The old lady died. She’d been drugged all right. And she was severely dehydrated. She’s got a bracelet on that says she’s diabetic. I don’t know her glucose level, but I’m pretty sure she went into a coma.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. She was a strange old bird, but no one deserves to die alone like that. Thanks.” He reported to Scott.

“Well, damn. I was hoping to talk to her.”

“Boss, the woman is dead.”

“Yeah? I’m sorry about that, but if her family is any indication, she was a horrible person. I can’t find it in me to care right now. Wendy was raped repeatedly, and strangled. Right here. Did she really sleep through it all? Or did she simply pretend?” He shook his head. “We’ll never know. The only witnesses to her death, are the ones who killed her.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 43

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

After Sue is arrested, they decide to go after the other half of the nefarious pair who helped Troy, Jame Butcher. Now known as Butch, he works IT for the police department. Jasper lures him to the office with a story about damaging his computer.

“Is there any way to find out about my granddaughter?”

“I’m afraid not. Those records are sealed by the court. I know you’d like to contact the parents, but would it be fair to the baby?”

“I don’t mean to take her away,” Deirdre said. “She’s their daughter, as much as if they’d given her life. But I would like to know her. I understand, though. If there is any way to give them the information, about us. So, if she wants to meet Aiden when she’s older, she can.”

“I’ll see what I can find out,” Jasper promised. “And I’ll pass the information along. No promises.”

“I understand that. I would want my privacy, too.” She walked out with Eoin.

“She may not know that Wendy was trying to get custody,” Jasper said when they had gone.

“Whether she does or not, we can’t be involved in that.”

“Of course not, but I will see what I can find, so I can keep my promise.”

“I can’t stop you.”

He kissed her forehead. “Nope, you can’t.”

Giggling, she went back in her office. Jasper manned his desk, listening to the prisoners rant. It was quite an instructive conversation. Meanwhile, Scott and Vanessa made plans to interview both Sue and Jim Butcher, to see which of them was dumb enough to tell the entire scheme. Vanessa bet on Sue, Scott’s money was on Butcher. Taking them into separate interrogation rooms, they went over the questions they most wanted to ask.

Jasper led the prisoners in, chaining them to the table. Sue whined about her back and knees, Butch said he needed to pee. Neither of them asked for a lawyer, though they had been told that right when arrested. Either they thought it was automatic, or they weren’t bright enough to think they could be proven guilty. Whatever the case, it played into Scott and Vanessa’s plans.

“Whose idea was it for you to get Troy out of trouble?” Vanessa asked Sue.

“Who says I did?”

Vanessa folded her hands on the table, a thick folder beneath them. “Sue, this will be a lot quicker if you just tell me the truth. Was it your sister’s idea?”

“She’s not my sister. Step-sister. And her mother only married my dad to get his money.”

After seeing the decrepit, disgusting house, Vanessa had to wonder about that. “Gertrude Berman hasn’t got any money.”

“Heh, you’d think to look at her. But that old bitch is swimming in it. Conniving, femme fatale.”

Again, Vanessa was puzzled. That filthy old crone was rich? A femme fatale? Didn’t you have to have all your teeth for that?

“So, Gertrude was a Gold Digger?”

“Damn right! She took my dad for every nickel, then he got himself dead. I think the old cow poisoned him, but I can’t prove it. Never could.”

“Then why did you help Troy, if his mother and grandmother were so awful?”

“To get even with ’em. Troy’s troubled, but he’s a good kid at heart. He was always nice to me. Never gave me a lick of trouble, when his whore of a mother went off for the weekend—or longer. Got some rich sugar daddy and spent a week—a week! In Vegas. And me watching her snot nosed kid. Me and him bonded, though. He was sweet. That house they live in? That was mine, but she stole it from me. It was real nice, too. She’s run it into the ground. I hope it f**king falls on her head when she’s asleep! You know they’ve got a grow room in back? That’s why she lets the dogs run all over. They cover the smell!” She shook her head. “What a wrinkled old c—t.”

Vanessa hadn’t expected any of this. She got a confession and a whole lot more. Beating a hasty exit, she found Jasper in the observation room, already on the phone.

“Yeah, Judge McTeague please? Thanks.” He waited a couple of minutes before the judge, a distant cousin of Teague’s mother, picked up. “Hiya, Jethro. I need a warrant.” He went on to explain. Vanessa had the address in her notes, and he told the judge.

“I’ll have that for you as fast as Cindy can type. This connected with that murder, y’all had down there?”

“Yes, sir. We believe that there may be evidence connecting Troy Intriago, and others, to her murder.”

“Cindy tells me the paperwork is filed. You should get your copy any second.”

Jasper’s phone buzzed, giving him an e-mail alert. Already, he and several other officers, geared up to search the house for evidence of Wendy’s killing. If they busted a grow house in the process, so much better.

“Wanna go, Ness?” Jasper invited with a wicked wink.

“I might have to kill you for that suggestion. Go. Have fun. Paper work is all yours.”

“Thanks, babe.” He blew her a kiss and headed out with the others.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 42

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

While visiting with Vanessa, Deirdre puts together how Troy was always able to get out of jail. It turns out that Sue, the secretary, is his aunt. Still, she needed help. Who could that be?

“Enter Jim Butcher,” Deirdre said, pulling another photo from the pile. “Dishonorably discharged, after less than a year, from the Marines, for Conduct Unbecoming,” she said.

Jasper’s lip snarled in disgust. He’d been a Marine himself, and that charge was the lowest possible, in his mind. “You need this boy brought in? I can make that happen,” he told Vanessa.

“I’d love for you to. News of Sue’s arrest will filter down quickly.”

Jasper picked up the phone and dialed. “Hiya, Butch, it’s Sgt. Waters. Yeah, I f**ked something up again, buddy. I need your magic touch.”

He’d put the phone on speaker, so they all heard Jim’s voice when he replied. “What this time, my man? You have the worst luck with computers.”

“Yeah, I dunno, I spilled my Coke on the keyboard and it’s not responding.”

“Probably just fried the keys. Got an extra anywhere?”

“You f**king kidding? In this place?”

“I’ll be by in ten with a new one. I’ve got a spare on my truck. We’ll take a look and make sure you didn’t short anything else.”

“Thanks, man. You take good care of me. I’ll put on a pot, and we’ll get after this.”

“No worries, got my Bull. See you shortly.” Jim hung up.

“I gather you do this a lot?” Eoin said with a smirk.

“I’m incapable of interfacing with computers. I hate them, they hate me. Women, on the other hand, no difficulty.”

“Only now, you’re married,” Vanessa reminded him.

“I know. Doesn’t mean I can’t be friendly. If I step outta line, my wife can kill me.” He shrugged.

Eoin looked puzzled, but Jasper laughed.

“I’ll introduce you sometime.”

Jim Butcher arrived nine and a half minutes later. He had a messenger bag over his shoulders, carrying an open can of Red Bull and a boxed keyboard. Jasper met him at the door, ushering him in, spewing lively nonsense as they walked into the office.

“Why are we going to Detective Weinstein’s office?”

“Oh, it was her keyboard I baptized. She’s ready to kill me. Come on in.” He let Jim precede him, closing the door in his wake.

“What’s going on?” Jim asked when he Vanessa and Scott waiting for him.

Jasper blocked the door when he tried to leave.

“James Butcher, you’re under arrest for Obstruction of Justice, and tampering with legal documents,” Scott said quietly, sounding deadly. “You have the right to remain silent….”

Strangely, he didn’t stay any quieter than Sue. They put him in a cell opposite her. The two of them yelled back and forth, blaming one another for past misdeeds. Jasper had both cells monitored, recording everything they said. Neither of them had asked for a lawyer, nor were they exercising their right to silence. They let quite a few juicy bits drop, including Eoin’s beating.

“Thanks to his caffeine addiction, we have his DNA,” Jasper said, bagging the can of Red Bull. “I hate to say it, but I have a feeling he’s another contributor to the manky deposits.”

“He always had a sick obsession with Wendy,” Eoin said sadly. “Perverted, twisted bastard.”

“What do you know about Bullock?” Vanessa asked suddenly.

Coach Bullock? More than I’d like, why?”

“You missed what the girls had to say yesterday,” Jasper told him.

“Rather not know,” Eoin remarked abruptly, holding up his hand. “As to all that, not something I want Deirdre involved in it at all.”

“I’m a big girl,” Deirdre protested.

“As I’m aware. I wouldn’t tell my own mum, dreadful as she is. You do not need to be a party to this.” He shook his head. “It will come out at trial, that’s soon enough.”

Jasper nodded, conceding Eoin’s decision. Deirdre wasn’t pleased, but he was adamant.

“Honestly, I wish I didn’t know myself,” Vanessa said softly. “Okay. Deirdre, you’ve given me so much. Thank you. Now, to unravel the rest.”

“I can help,” Deirdre offered.

“No. This will get ugly. You’re not a cop, I’m not dragging you into this any deeper.”

“But you’ll let me know how it turns out?”

“I will. You and your son are as deeply invested in the outcome as I am.”

As they were walking to the front door, Deirdre paused.

“Is there any way to find out about my granddaughter?”

“I’m afraid not. Those records are sealed by the court. I know you’d like to contact the parents, but would it be fair to the baby?”

“I don’t mean to take her away,” Deirdre said. “She’s their daughter, as much as if they’d given her life. But I would like to know her. I understand, though. If there is any way to give them the information, about us. So, if she wants to meet Aiden when she’s older, she can.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 41

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

Deidre is driving Eoin home, and stops by the police station, to drop something with Vanesa.

“We’ve been looking at him, too, but didn’t find anything.” Vanessa pulled sheets of paper from the envelope.

“I found a lot of weird, inconsistent things. But it wasn’t until just now that I put it all together. I was looking for someone high placed, but it’s not.” Deirdre spread the papers, pointing to a particular photo.

“I don’t follow.” Vanessa glanced at the papers, finally noticing a photo. “Oh. Oh, my.” She looked up at Deirdre, dark brown eyes wide. “Just—now.”

“Yes.” She tilted her head. “I saw a familiar face in the office. And I’ve never met that woman before in my life.”

Vanessa caught her lower lip in her teeth. “Not alone.”

“No.” Deirdre shifted some papers and tapped one with her fingertip. She had no real proof about this, but a strong gut instinct.

The pieces of the puzzle fell into place. “I would never have figured this out. This is—scandalous!”

“Agreed.”

“I’m lost,” Eoin said, wincing when he leaned forward to see the pages.

“Sue!” Vanessa called. “Will you come in here, please?”

The older woman didn’t answer. They heard the beep of the security door opening. Eoin stood up and rushed out, finding Sue trying to get through the door with a rolling file box behind her. It caught on the doorjamb. She struggled to free it. He did so, snatching it from her, blocking her exit.

“Get out of my way,” she demanded, threatening to hit him.

Vanessa was at her elbow. “Far enough,” she spoke sharply. “You don’t want to hit him, Sue. Let’s not add assault to your charges.”

“You got nothing on me! You can’t prove a thing!”

“I’ve got a family connection between you and Troy Intriago. You’re his mother’s step-sister. And I can also connect you to someone else—Jim Butcher.”

“You can’t prove nothing!” Sue snarled. “You got nothing! Jimmy made it all disappear!”

“You might wanna shut up now,” Eoin said quietly, knowing she wouldn’t.

Sue snapped and growled, wrenching her fat arm out of Vanessa’s hold. Luckily, Jasper heard the commotion, and came to her aid. He cuffed Sue while she still tried to get away.

“Want to tell me why I’ve just arrested our secretary?” he asked over his shoulder, as he walked her to the holding cells.

“I’ll tell you in a minute. Get her booked.”

“On what charge?”

“Multiple charges of obstruction. I’ll come up with more later.”

“You got it, Boss.”

Jasper did his job quickly, listening to Sue rail and screech the entire time. He, wisely, turned on the recording app on his phone. She ranted and raved, revealing details they wouldn’t get in interrogation. When his job was done, he joined the others in Vanessa’s office.

“Speak.” He leaned against the wall, hands in his pockets, ankles casually crossed.

“I got to thinking,” Deirdre said. “Who knows the most in an office? Not the boss….”

“The boss’ secretary,” Jasper concluded. “Yes! And the connection?”

Vanessa handed him a picture from the paper. It was a picture of Sue, Troy, his mother and grandmother, all younger, but identifiable.

“That was right after his grandmother remarried, Sue’s father. Troy joined the Police Athletic League and who did he meet there?” She laid out another picture showing Troy with his arm around Jim Butcher’s shoulders. The two boys smiled wide at the camera.

“Whoa! This guy.” He tapped the photo. “I know this face! f**k!” His head snapped up. “That’s Butch!”

Vanessa frowned, shaking her head.

“Butch. The I.T. guy. He comes in when we have a problem, piddles around. But you know what else he can do?”

Waiting, Vanessa looked impatient. Jasper asked to use her computer. Pulling up the task bar, he found an icon she’d seen every day, but had no clue what it was.

“He can get into our computers by remote. Say you get stuck with a glitch, he can access your computer on a secure link, and take over its functions. He can see it like his own. And he can make things appear….”

“Or disappear,” Eoin finished.

“Exactly. It was easy for Sue to do alone, when Troy was younger, all actual paper work. But once things went electronic, she didn’t have full access, or the knowledge. She’d need outside help,” Jasper said excitedly.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 40

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

Eoin and Deirdre are talking about his life and relationship with Wendy. He tells her he had a twin sister.

“Angelique?”

“Angela. She died when I was four. A horrible accident, because of Mum’s habit. She was passed out on the couch and we got outside. Angela fell in the canal behind our house, and couldn’t get out. She got too close, lost her balance, as toddlers do, and fell in, and drowned. I sat there, screaming and crying while my older sister drowned. Mum didn’t hear the ruckus, slept through it all. A neighbor finally heard me, but it was too late.” Tears he’d thought long shed, threatened to fall. He hadn’t thought about his sister for nearly fifteen years. In a way, little Rowan reminded him of Angela—all big blue eyes and blonde curls.

“I’m so sorry. To lose a part of you like that, would be horrible.”

He nodded. “As I grew, I still felt her with me. After a bit, I could hear her voice. She’s grown as I have, and she’s a haughty bitch.” He shook back his hair, his face and aspect changing to a more regal mien.

“I’d love to watch you perform.”

“I’ll set it up when Fred gets home. He won’t be—shocked?”

Deirdre snorted, shaking her head. “He’s even less easy to shock than I am. He’ll enjoy the show. We saw a drag show in New Orleans. The women looked better than me, and that was before I had three boys!”

“You are the most beautiful woman I know.”

“Now I know you’re full of blarney.”

“Believe what you wish, I stand by my word. I should be getting home, though. I can take a cab.”

“Don’t be silly. I’ll take you. Will you load the washer? I’ll dress.” She pointed to the dishes.

“Love to. Still just as picky about how it’s loaded?”

“Still a dumb ass?” She cast over her shoulder.

Eoin sang as he loaded the dishwasher. He usually sang around the house, but hadn’t felt like it for some time. Now, he was in full voice. It was a sad, soulful song, but beautiful.

Deirdre stopped dressing, listening to him sing. His song brought tears to her eyes. When he got to the chorus of Broken Bones and Pocket Change, she was crying. It had long been a favorite of hers, and his voice added a dimension that the vocalist was missing.

Deep sorrow. Eoin’s pain is an abyss.

Finishing dressing, she grabbed her handbag and the envelope of papers she wanted to drop off with Vanessa. Stuffing them in the bag, she picked up her keys and declared herself ready. Eoin was already waiting by the door.

“You’ll have to tell me where I’m taking you.”

“Not a problem.” He gave her very specific and easy to follow directions.

“You can’t tell me all that now. I’ll get to South Daytona, then you turn on the Tom Tom.”

Eoin chuckled, “Yes, ma’am.”

“I do need to stop by the police station. Is that all right?”

“Sure.”

They pulled up to the station and Eoin hopped out, opening Deirdre’s door before she could. He also opened the door to the station for her. Once inside, they waited at the window. An elderly, heavy set woman, with graying hair, lumbered into the room and over to greet them.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, I need to see Detective Weinstein.”

“You have an appointment?”

“No. But I have some information for her, on the murder.”

“I can give it to her.” She didn’t hold out her hand, just stared at Deirdre.

“I’d like to give it to her, I have some questions.”

“She can’t answer about and on-going….”

“I realize that. May I see her, please?” She was fast losing patience with the woman. If stonewalling happened to be declared an Olympic sport, this woman would take the gold.

“I’ll ask.” She wandered to a desk and picked up the phone.

A phone rang in a back office. Deirdre assumed it was Vanessa’s. That was confirmed when the detective came out, smiling. She opened the security door, with a beep, ushering them both in.

“Hi there, Sue said you have something for me? Come on back. Coffee? Tea?”

“We just ate,” Deirdre said, glancing over her shoulder. She could swear she knew the woman in the office. She was really familiar. A light bulb seemed to go on in her mind. Suddenly, a very important question was answered.

“What can I do for you?” Vanessa invited them to sit in her small office.

“More what I can do for you,” Deirdre said quietly, handing her the manila envelope she carried. “It was bothering me, wondering how Troy managed to get miraculously freed every time he was arrested. Except this time. So I did some digging.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 39

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

By random chance, Deirdre jumps to the subject of Fonda, putting both Eoin and Aiden on high alert, though she doesn’t realize it.

“Yes, I believe so, yes,” Eoin replied, shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

“You’re in pain. Corin, Tylenol.”

Her youngest son grabbed the bottle and brought it over with a glass of water.

“Take. I wish you could use more, but I understand. You know what would help?”

“Hemp oil,” Burl said, grabbing it from the cupboard. “Two squirts under your tongue. Great for what ails you.”

“And the rub,” Aiden added, running to the bathroom. He came back with a jar of something. Opening, he held it for Eoin to smell.

“Lush! I want to eat it!” the young Irishman said. “What’s this?”

“It’s a hemp muscle rub. It helps heal the bruises and eases the aches. Keep it, I have more. I buy a case at a time. As much as my boys are hurting themselves.” Deirdre smiled at him. “I have missed you so much. Why haven’t you come around?”

“I didn’t think you’d want to associate with a man like me.”

“What’s wrong with a man like you?”

“Mum, I wear makeup and a dress, while I prance around in less than God gave Adam.”

“Are you a whore?”

Her question was so bland and straightforward, he paused, blinking.

“No, ma’am. Never sold it to a soul.”

“Then you have no reason to be ashamed. Even if you were, you’re still my son.”

“Here I go again.” He wiped his eyes on the backs of his hands.

Deirdre handed him a napkin so he could dry his tears. “I’m upset with you. You isolated yourself from the wrong people. You should know better.”

“I judged you by my mother’s standards. It was wrong. Now you’ve got me back, you won’t be rid of me.”

“Good. I do think having a drag queen in the family gives us a certain style and panache.” She put her hands under her chin, giving an angelic smile. Batting her eyelashes, she made a kissy face at him.

Eoin laughed loudly, then gasped. “Gods, I’ve missed you!”

“Go put that rub on. Not on the nuts, it’s got menthol. You’ll put yourself through the roof.”

Tilting his head, he tried to figure that out. Corin solved the miscommunication problem for him, making a universal hand gesture. Eoin laughed even louder, then gasped again.

“Going now. And I’ll avoid the nuts.”

The balm did help, so much, he was actually able to relax and sleep. Even the bustle of early morning didn’t wake him. He finally got up about nine, surprised that the boys were gone. Deirdre was just getting going, and made breakfast for them both.

“I could get used to this spoiling,” he said, sipping his coffee. Closing his eyes, he smiled. “As always, delicious. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. And it’s not spoiling, it’s pampering. Don’t think my menfolk get this high a level, unless they’re sick or injured. Do you work tonight?”

“I do. But I’m feeling a lot better, thank you.”

She handed him a small paper bag. Inside was a full bottle of Tylenol, another jar of the balm and a small bottle of the hemp oil.

“I wrote instructions for the oil. Start the regime when you don’t have to work. Sometimes, there are a few days of detox, as it were. You won’t feel that good for a day or two, then it eases off and you feel a lot better. Depending upon how badly you’ve mistreated yourself, will govern how long you’re down.”

“I live a fairly clean life,” he said. “The occasional woman…. Wendy was my truest love. Such a spark of life in her. It sickens me that she was sent to such a dark place before she died.”

“Poor child. I never got to meet her, but she was so much in your life, and Aiden’s.” Her glance went to the refrigerator door. “Now, it’s touched mine a little.”

“She was trying to get Rowan back. She had a scheme to get the money, to petition in court.”

“That’s what got her killed.”

“Yes, I’m certain. There were some very influential people involved. Many of the county’s elite, would be embroiled in scandal. Can’t have that.” He shook his head sadly and wiped his eyes. “I can’t cry anymore. I’ve given enough time to tears. Besides, it will make my eyes puffy. Can’t have Angelique looking anything but her best when she struts her stuff.”

“You often refer to yourself in third person?” Deirdre chuckled.

“Only Angelique. She’s a very separate personality. I’m sure a shrink could have a field day with her—me. You see, she’s the strong one. I don’t mean like a multiple personality, just an alter ego. She’s been part of my life since I was a wee lad. I had a sister. A twin.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 38

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

Deidre is delighted when Eoin arrives. When she discovers his injuries, she insists that he stay the night.

“I’ve not shocked you?” His head popped up in surprise.

“You’d be surprised what it takes to shock me.”

“I might have something,” Aiden said. Vanessa had made him copies of the letter and the picture. He slid them across the table to his mother. “One reason Wendy came back, was to tell me about this.”

Deirdre read the letter twice before looking at the picture. She burst into tears, touching the photo reverently. “She’s beautiful! She looks—so much!” Gasping, she clutched the picture to her heart. “Oh, my darling, I’m so sorry you’ll never have the joy of watching her grow.”

Aiden’s eyes brimmed with tears. If he’d anticipated a reaction from his mother, it wasn’t this one. Anger, yes. Disappointment, surely. But never calm acceptance and love. Taking her hand, he kissed her fingertips. She squeezed his, gazing once more at the photograph.

“I thought you’d be mad.”

“I didn’t get upset about you sleeping with her, why would this make me angry?”

“Some parents….” Eoin interjected. “Well, specifically mine, would be furious with me.”

“You’ll find that our mother isn’t like most parents,” Corin said proudly. “She’s cool. With limitations.” He winked at his mother.

“I’m a grandmother!” She started crying again, fanning herself with the letter. “I wish we could be part of her life, but I understand completely, why not. Don’t do this again, too soon,” she commanded, pointing an accusing finger at Aiden.

“Mom, I don’t even have a girlfriend,” he said in a patient tone.

“Just saying. So it’s out there. You can’t have another until I’m fifty.”

“So, another twenty years, eh?” Eoin teased, winking at her.

“You always had a silver tongue. None from you, either. Or you two,” she pointed the Burl and Corin.

“That would require actual contact with a female, Mom,” Burl said. “Thus far, not in the cards.”

“Keep it that way a while longer. I can’t worry about all my chicks at once.” She took the photo of Rowan and put it in a magnetized frame on the refrigerator. Aiden had made it when he was in kindergarten. She slid it over his picture, kissing it.

“How’s Dad gonna react?” Aiden said.

“I expect he’ll be shocked,” she said, putting her hand on the photo. “But he’ll get over it. He’s a big boy, he knows how things work.” She turned, smiling. “Now, out, all of you. I’ve dinner to finish. Eoin, you’re staying the night in the guest room. No arguments. Corin, find a toothbrush.”

“What if I have to work?”

“You’re the weekend headliner. It’s Wednesday.” She wouldn’t entertain an argument.

He didn’t have to work, but he didn’t want to impose. She would coddle and mother him for a few hours, it was easier to let her. Truth be told, he didn’t much want to be home on his own. His ribs hurt, his arms ached. Even simple things like dressing and preparing a meal, were painful. Driving wasn’t in this skill set either. Being taken care of was an almost foreign concept to him. He couldn’t remember the last time his own mother had cared enough about his welfare, to call.

Dinner was delicious and much complimented. The boys, minus Eoin, cleaned up. He volunteered, but Deirdre wouldn’t let him. Her mother hen instincts had kicked into high gear. He was obviously in pain.

“Do you have anything for the discomfort?” she asked.

“Been taking Tylenol. I don’t dare take anything stronger. Mum’s a junkie. When I moved here, I had a drug problem. Wendy—” He sniffed loudly, not wanting to cry anymore. “She helped me kick it. Got me involved in other things, took my mind off my own, self-inflicted misery. I was a loathsome git when I first arrived.” He chuckled. “Aiden can tell you, a wretched bastard. Two weeks around Wendy, I learned to smile. And you lot, you helped, too.”

“Thanksgiving that year,” Aiden said. “Your host family vacationed without you.”

“Rotten buggers. The company tries to connect you with a family like your own. Way too much like my family back home. Lush for a father, screaming harpy of a mother. The second one was better, I liked them. They helped me get my papers.”

Deirdre knew both families and wasn’t surprised to hear his summation of the first family. “Wasn’t their daughter, Fonda, on the golf team?” she didn’t ask directly, more to herself.

Aiden got very alert, squaring his shoulders and standing straighter. His back to her, she didn’t notice, too wrapped up in her own thoughts.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes