Tag Archive | Dellani Oakes

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 55

Lubbock, Texas. 2000.

“Did he stay that time?”

“He stayed two years. He got a job with the Navy ROTC on campus. In that time, we had another son. Named Ricardo, after Diego’s dad.”

“How did you end up with Tex again?”

“I didn’t.”

“Then why was he at your house?”

“I’m still trying to remember,” Janet replied. “I know it’s late—or early. I’m pretty tired.”

“I’ve kept you talking too long.”

“I kept myself talking.”

“I’ll come back later. I wanna know how this ends,” Flora said. “I’ll see you later, Janet.”

Janet sighed, closing her eyes. She lay in the hospital bed with the beeping and the blood pressure cuff, trying to sort things out. She’d lied to Flora. She did remember how Tex got there, and it sickened her that she’d agreed to have anything to do with him.

He threatened to kill my son! Tears rolled down her face until, eventually, she slept.

Lubbock, Texas. Spring 1990.

Diego and Janet pulled into the driveway of their home, warily. A strange car was parked out front. A man moved slowly from the shadows of the arched front porch. From his bearing, Janet knew he was military. The way Diego stiffened, she knew he recognized the man.

“Babe, why don’t you go pick up the boys at Dad’s?”

“It’s Coffey, isn’t it.”

“Honey….”

Janet leaped from the car, storming the porch like the peasants breaching the Bastille. Not saying a word to the colonel, she unlocked the door, flinging it back with a bang.

Diego ran after her, deeply worried. He shoved past Coffey. The other man tried to stop him. Diego shook him off.

“She’s got a .357 and she knows how to use it. Get in your car.”

Janet didn’t have the gun. He found her in the bedroom standing over the locked drawer where it was kept, weeping.

“Honey, please. We knew this could happen.”

“Is this all there is for us? Little snatches of time together. Is this it?” She spun around, her balled fists pounding his chest. “Tell him you can’t go. You’re not available.”

“It doesn’t work like that, baby. I go where I’m sent. A warrior follows orders.”

“Why you? Why does it have to be you?”

“Janet….”

“No matter what it is. No matter what rat hole he sends you to, you’ll go. You’ll leave your sons and go halfway round the world to do what? Kill someone?”

“That isn’t all I do. You know that.”

“I don’t! I don’t know what you do. You can’t tell me.”

“Mrs. Macy,” Colonel Coffey said from the living room.

“Don’t call me that. Don’t say that name in this house,” she screamed. Pushing past Diego, she confronted Coffey, standing toe to toe with the big man.

“Janet,” Diego said softly, taking her arm.

She jerked her arm away and shoved the Colonel. She was powerful in her rage. The tall, broad shouldered warrior took two unsteady steps back. Janet followed, bumping him back another step with her hip. Her arm came back to slap him, but Diego took it in an unyielding, but gentle, grip.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 54

After dinner, Diego and Janet go to the campus, but there are too many memories of Tex.

“He thinks Tex is his dad.”

“He’s five. What was I supposed to tell him? Your father’s an assassin, who left us to hunt down and murder other assassins? It isn’t easy being the son of a jailbird who beat his mother, but it’s easier than the truth.”

Pain contorted his face. “Is that what you think of me? That’s what you think I do?” He turned from her, biting his lip. Hands deep in his pockets, he hung his head.

“I don’t know. I don’t know you anymore! You’ve skipped in and out of my life for twenty years. Every time I think it’s going to last, you get snatched away from me again. I love you so much, but I don’t know how much more of this I have in me. I’m not a yo-yo, Diego. I’m a woman who’s lost without you. So broken and weak, she marries a man like Tex.”

“Why? Why him? You knew I was coming back.”

“But I didn’t! I had no idea where you were. I was alone and pregnant and scared…. And I did love him, once. I was never in love. He wasn’t you…. But he was there. And as flawed as he is, he made me feel alive and sexy and loved. Can you ever understand that?”

“I don’t know.” Diego shrugged, his hands out, palms up, hardly knowing what to do or say.

Janet eyed him carefully, tilting her head to one side. “Will you do something for me?”

“Anything.” He stepped close, winding his fingers in her hair.

“Will you take me back to that damn hotel and fornicate my brains out?”

Diego laughed loudly and abruptly. “That was unexpected.”

“I ache for you, and I can’t breathe right when you’re around. I want to laugh, or cry, or both at once. I haven’t had sex since Danny was born.”

“That’s a long time,” he replied huskily.

Taking her face in his hands, he lowered his mouth to hers. His kiss ignited the old fires. They surged and grew the longer he kissed her. Diego set some sort of speed record back to the hotel. Practically undressing in the elevator, they went to his suite. They didn’t make it as far as the bed the first time. Instead, they fell on the couch and made love there. Eventually, they made it to the bedroom. Janet lost herself in the moment, reveling in the affection, feeling alive for the first time in years.

Early in the morning, they lay cuddled in the middle of the king sized bed. Janet lay with her head on his chest while he wound his fingers in her hair.

“I want to get married,” he murmured. “We’ll find Tex, and get him to sign the papers.”

“I’ve tried. He won’t.”

“With all due respect, baby, you don’t speak persuasion, the same way I do.”

She shivered, imagining how he might coerce Tex. It wouldn’t be pretty, and she strongly suspected she’d end up not needing a divorce, because she’d be a widow.

“In the meantime, Janet Yarkowsky, will you marry me, at some unspecified time in the future? Will you live with me, and let me be father to my son?”

“Yes. Will you quit the agency?”

He exhaled slowly. “I can’t yet.”

She glared at him. “You said…!”

“Don’t start. If I quit, I’m no longer protected. There are still some nasty folks out there who want me dead.”

“And you expect me to marry you? To bring my son into that life?”

Our son.”

“I conceived him. I carried him nine months. I gave birth to him. You notice I did most of it without your help.”

“You had help with the conception part,” he pointed out, tickling her. “And I’d like to try that again. And again…. And again. I love you. And I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to talk about Tex, I don’t want to think about anything hard, or sad, or painful…. I want to make love to you until I can’t walk. I want to live the life we’ve missed out on all these years.”

“Okay. For now, we can do that. Eventually, there are some hard questions we have to answer.”

“But not tonight.” He rolled over, pulling her close, his desire evident.

“Not tonight.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 53

It’s 1988, and Diego finally returns. He meets his son, Danny, for the first time.

Diego crouched on the ground, holding out his hand. “Hi, Danny. Nice to meet you.”

Danny shook his hand solemnly. “Nice to meet you, too.”

“I thought… I kind of hoped we could—we could talk,” Diego said hesitantly.

“Let me tell Dad. He’ll watch Danny for me. Honey, go tell Popop Diego’s here.”

Danny ran in the house. “Popop, Dago’s here!”

Diego laughed loudly, tossing his head back with abandon. He looked years younger when he laughed, like the boy she’d loved 13 years ago.

Evander came to the door, taking off his reading glasses. “Oh, Diego.” He chuckled. “So it’s you. I couldn’t understand why he was telling me there was a dago at the door. Not exactly a word we use around here.” He trotted off the porch, holding out his hand. “Good to see you again, son. We’ve missed you.”

They shook hands. Evander pulled the younger man into a hug.

“Glad you’re back.”

“Thank you, sir. That means a lot to me.”

“Surely after all this time, you can call me Dad?”

Diego nodded, smiling. “I’d like that. My own father passed….” He blinked hard. “I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.”

“We know,” Janet said. “We all went up for the funeral.”

“And Ilene. I’m so sorry for your loss….”

Evander nodded his thanks. “I have to believe they’re in a better place,” he said in a matter of fact tone. “So, you kids need some time. Do you have a place to stay? You’re welcome with us.”

“I’ve got a room. Thanks. I didn’t want to impose. I thought maybe Janet and I could catch dinner….”

“Sure. I’ll hold down the fort. You take all the time you need.”

“I’ll go in and say goodbye,” Janet said. She went inside to speak to Danny.

“Been a long time,” Evander said sternly. “You couldn’t write? You couldn’t call?” Although older, he was nearly as fit as Diego. His dark eyes registered his disapproval, as did his muscular arms crossing his chest.

“Did Janet tell you what I do?” Diego asked calmly. He kept his body relaxed, casual.

“She was pretty evasive.” Evander shifted his weight, lifting his chin.

“Evander, my job isn’t the kind that lends itself to Christmas cards and snapshots. I’ve tried for five years to get out….”

“But right now, you’re safer in than out?”

“Something like that. I love your daughter. If she’ll have me, I want to marry her.”

“She’s still married to Tex.”

“What? I hoped by this time he’d be out of the picture.”

“He refuses to divorce her. We’ve tried….”

Diego said nothing, lips pursed. Evander watched him sublimate the anger. He could see the younger man put it aside, channeling it into more acceptable emotions.

This is a very dangerous man. That bastard of a son-in-law of mine had better be very careful, or he’s gonna wind up dead.

Janet came out of the house. She had an overnight bag and her purse. Evander gave her a kiss.

“You sure, baby girl?”

“More sure of this than just about anything,” she said. “See you later, Dad.”

They had dinner at her father’s restaurant. Diego was impressed. The food was delicious and reasonably priced. The wait staff were efficient and well mannered. It was the best dining experience he’d had in over five years.

After dinner, they went for a walk on the Texas Tech campus and Janet showed him all her old haunts. More than one statement began with “Tex and I used to go….” The third or fourth one made Diego feel like he’d been slapped in the face. He stopped her, turning her to face him.

“Do you still love him?” He asked adamantly, taking her firmly by the upper arms. “Do you still want him?” He relaxed his grip when she winced, realizing it must bring back bad memories of another man’s violence.

“No!” Janet burst into tears. “How can you even ask me that? Your son is the most important person in the world to me. More than my father, Sookie, or you. That little boy is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life. He’s your son, not his.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 52

Lubbock, Texas. 2000.

“No one understood why I took him back, not even me. He was like a drug that I was hopelessly addicted to. I was weak without Diego. I didn’t know where he was, if he was alive, and suddenly, the idea of raising my baby alone was more than I could bear.

“Mom started doing better, so I went back to Nebraska after Christmas. Tex went with me. There was still no word from Diego. It had been nearly two months. I hid the fact that I was pregnant from Tex. I let him think that the baby was his. He was thrilled to be having a child. He worked hard in AA and stayed clean and sober. I finished out the school year, resigned my position and we moved back to Lubbock.

“Danny was born July 14, 1982. Mama died a week later. I was so busy with Mama, I didn’t see the changes in Tex right away. Back in his old party environment, he started slipping. He didn’t go to his meetings like he should. He’d ditch calls from his sponsor, and started drinking the occasional beer after he got home from work. Soon, it became two or three, then six. He’d binge with drugs, and come home high. He never hit me, but he yelled a lot. I was terrified that he’d do something to me or the baby, but I couldn’t get a single judge to listen to me.

“Danny was four months old when Tex hit me again. He was cutting teeth, and having a tough time. I kept his gums covered with Ora-gel and gave him cold teething rings and Tylenol, but nothing helped. He was miserable. Tex came home one night, drunk, surly, smelling like cheap beer and cheaper women. I tried to keep him out of the house, but he broke a window and climbed in. I called the cops…. It scared the baby, all the noise and yelling. Danny cried and cried. Tex threatened my son. I stood up to him, and he hit me. He beat me until I couldn’t stand. He was standing over the crib yelling at the baby when the police came in.”

“Off to jail again,” Flora said. “What a bastard. Please tell me you didn’t take him back.”

“No. But I still couldn’t divorce him. I tried. But there was no way to make him sign the papers. It was the one thing he could do that really hurt me.”

“What about Diego?”

“I didn’t see him for nearly two more years. A phone call or two, then those stopped, too.”

“Why do long? Did he…. ” Flora leaned over, whispering. “Do the job?”

Janet smiled, nodding. “Yes. He found the men Coffey sent him after. Then there was another job and another…. Each job mired him in more. He hated what he’d become, but by then, he didn’t know how to quit.”

“But did he come back for you?”

Janet gave a quick nod. “It took some time, but he did. Danny was five. We lived with my father. I was teaching high school again, A.P. English. Sookie was married and expecting her first baby, a little girl….”

Lubbock, Texas. June 1988.

Danny was in the fenced-in yard playing with the dog. Janet kept an eye on him from the front room while she worked at her computer. She didn’t notice the car pull up, or the man who got out, until she heard someone talking to Danny in the yard.

“Is your mother home?”

“I’m not ‘posed to talk to you,” Danny said loudly. “I don’t know you.”

Janet got up, running to the door. She knew that voice.

“Diego?” It came out like the cry of a wounded bird. “Tell me it’s really you!”

He turned to her, smiling, arms wide. She ran to him. Diego lifted her spinning her around and around.

“You came back,” she murmured. “You came back….”

“I tried to get here sooner. I tried…. I’ve thought about you every day.”

“Me too.”

“Mona said…. She said, you and Tex?” The pain in his face made her cry.

“For a little while, we tried. It didn’t work out. He’s back in jail.”

“He hit you again?” He tightened up, his face taking the look of a predator.

“It’s okay. I’m okay….” She reached her hand toward her confused son. “Danny, I want you to meet my friend Diego. Diego, meet Danny….” She didn’t say it, but he could tell that she was introducing him to his son.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 50

Janet is on the way to see her folks in Texas. She’s pregnant, upset and worried about her sick mother.

The woman came over to sit by her, putting Janet’s head on her shoulder. “You go ahead and cry it out, honey. You got to get the bad out before the good can come in.” She held Janet and let her sob.

One of the truckers called to her from his booth. “You gonna come refill my coffee?”

“You know where it is, don’t you?”

“Yeah….”

“Well, help yourself. While you’re up, see if anyone else needs some. This girl needs me more than you lazy bastards.”

To Janet’s surprise, the man got up and got the coffee. He made the rounds and topped off his own cup. When she’d calmed down, the woman handed her the bill. It had “On the House,” scrawled across it. Janet thanked her, leaving a handsome tip. She stopped in the bathroom. When she came out, the waitress came up with a huge teddy bear from the gift shop.

“The boys chipped in and got this for you,” she said with a happy grin. “Don’t you worry. It’s gonna be okay.”

The men stepped forward, introducing themselves, shaking her hand. They promised to keep an eye on her while she was traveling. Each of them took turns watching her all the way to Lubbock. The last man, whose final destination was Mule Shoe, followed her to her parents’ house. She waved at him as she pulled into the driveway. He honked his horn and drove off with a rumble.

Sookie ran out. When she saw Janet, she burst into tears. Evander followed, supporting her mother. Ilene was bone thin and sallow. She looked so pale and weak, Janet could hardly equate her with the robust beauty she’d been just months before.

Janet and Sookie got her bags in and Evander put Ilene to bed. They’d converted the den to a sickroom. There was a hospital bed and oxygen beside it. Janet knew without a doubt, her mother had come home to die.

The family ate an early dinner and her mother went to sleep. Janet and Sookie sat around talking to their father. Janet told them about the baby. Neither of them knew whether to be happy or sad. Janet didn’t know herself.

“So, when’s he coming back?” Sookie asked as they got ready for bed.

“I don’t know,” Janet murmured.

Christmas passed quietly. Janet and Sookie went to church, but their father stayed home with their mother. Janet called Ramona to wish her Merry Christmas, and asked if they’re been any word from Diego.

“Nothing. I know he’ll be back, Janet.”

“I don’t know if I will,” she replied. “Daddy needs me. I’m thinking of taking a leave of absence.”

“Really? Oh, Janet!”

“I have to be here.”

“At least come finish out the year.”

“I don’t know. Mom’s really bad, Mona. She’s so weak she can barely feed herself. I want her to see the baby, but… I don’t want her to suffer. I’m so confused!”

“Of course you are! I could kick my brother for leaving….”

“Mona—I can’t tell you why, but you must believe that he did what had to be done.”

“I still want to kick him. Leaving you after he got you pregnant.”

Janet’s laugh was tinged with irony. “It’s not like he did that on purpose. He didn’t know. Neither did I. Even if he had, he would have gone.”

There was a loud knock at the door. Sookie was out, Evander was with her mother.

“There’s someone at the door. I need to go.” The knock sounded louder. “I really need to go. Merry Christmas!” She hung up quickly.

The banging on the door got louder.

“Look,” she began before opening the door. “We’ve got a sick woman….”

Tex stood on the porch, fist raised to pound again. He lost his balance, falling toward her, smiling.

“Janet, baby! I’ve missed you so much!” He tried to hug her, but she ducked aside.

“You prick! Don’t touch me!”

“Janet, please….”

“How dare you come here like this? My mother is dying!”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 49

Diego leaves, and Janet can hardly stand it. Tissue Warning

Days went by, then weeks, with no word from Diego. It was as if he’d fallen off the edge of the world. Janet forced herself to keep going. She had a job to do, but her spark was gone. Everyone noticed, including her students, but no one knew how to cheer her up. Every morning, she forced herself to get up and go to work, but it was an effort. Then one morning, she got up, vomiting. She called in to work, thinking she had the flu.

Ramona checked on her later in the day. She found her friend huddled in bed, shivering. “That’s it. We’re going to the doctor. I’m not having you lie here miserable. Up. Get dressed.”

She helped Janet put on a loose fitting running suit and drove her to the hospital. The emergency room doctor took a look at her and his brow wrinkled.

“I want to run some blood tests, Mrs. Macy.”

“Ms. Yarkowsky,” she insisted.

“It says here you’re married.”

“Yes, but I don’t go by that name anymore. Call me Janet.”

He smiled warmly. “Okay, Janet. I’m going to have the nurse draw some blood and we’re going to run some tests just to be sure. She’ll be in soon.”

“Thank you.”

The nurse drew blood and sent it to the lab. Within the hour, the doctor came back, smiling.

“I have some good news, Ms. Yarkowsky. You definitely don’t have the flu.”

Janet breathed a sigh of relief. “Then why do I feel so rotten?”

He took her hand, gazing into her eyes. “Congratulations, Janet. You’re about six weeks pregnant.”

She burst into tears. Ramona held her while the startled doctor backed away.

“I thought she’d be pleased.”

“She is. She will be. It’s complicated. The father—my brother, is in the military. He’s been called away.”

“Oh, gosh. I’m so sorry. I’ll get you the name of an obstetrician.”

“She can use mine. Thank you, Doctor.”

“If there’s anything else I can do….”

“Can we leave?”

“I’ll have the nurse bring in the paperwork.”

“Thank you.” She did her best to calm Janet down.

Ramona drove her friend home and stayed with her until she fell asleep. Between her and her sisters, they kept an eye on her all night.

Janet got through the next couple of weeks in a daze. Christmas break was coming, the students had exams, and she could hardly function. As excited as she was about having Diego’s child, she couldn’t face the reality of being alone. She planned to head to her parents’ house the first day of break. She woke that morning and got ready slowly. There was no joy in her trip. Her mother had been diagnosed with cancer, and had been given less than a year. Janet could only hope that she’d live long enough to see her first grandchild come into the world.

Her trip south was uneventful. There were warnings and threats of blizzards, but she managed to dodge them all. She sat in a truck stop drinking coffee and eating a piece of pie. The lowering clouds on the horizon made her think of Tex for the first time in years. She wondered what he was doing with himself, where he was. Not that it mattered. The only reason she wanted to see him again was to get him to sign divorce papers so she could marry Diego.

Overcome by grief, she propped her head on her hands and let the tears fall. She was tired, worried about her mother, and had the unbalanced emotions of a pregnant woman. Clutching handfuls of paper napkins, she wept as silently as she could, shoulders hunched and shaking. Her sobs and sniffles didn’t go unnoticed for long. Her waitress, a kindly woman about her mother’s age, slid into the booth across from her, handing her a clean cloth towel from the kitchen.

“You okay, honey?”

Janet sniffled, dabbing at her eyes. “No. Do you ever feel like life just plain sucks?”

“All the time,” the woman replied. “Every day when I have to come to this place.” She smiled warmly. “Can I get you anything? Another slice? A warm up on the coffee?”

“I’ll take a new life to go, please,” Janet said, trying to smile. “I’m sorry. My husband’s gone overseas and I just found out I’m pregnant. I’m on the way to Lubbock to visit my mother. She’s really sick, and this may be the last time I see her.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 48

Unexpectedly, men from Diego’s past show up. Colonel Coffey, his former boss, tells him he’s needed again.

“If I find out this is a ploy to get me back, there won’t be a safe hole to shit in.” Diego took a step closer to the colonel, slipping out of Janet’s embrace. He leaned in so his face was mere inches from Coffey’s. “You said yourself, no one’s as good as me.”

“You’re threatening me in front of witnesses, Hernandez.”

“They don’t hear a thing,” Diego flung the statement into the room.

The other men paled. Janet got the impression the threat extended to them.

Colonel Coffey shook himself, squaring shoulders. “Get your things, Hernandez. We need to go.”

“I’ll go when I’m ready, Coffey. You’re dragging me back in the game, you’ll give me the time to say goodbye. I’ll see you here tomorrow morning at nine o’clock. Not a second before.”

Coffey tried to protest, but decided against it. He and his men left without another word.

Janet flew into Diego’s arms. “You can’t leave me again!”

“I have to find these guys, babe. If what Coffey says is true, none of us are safe.”

“And if he’s lying? They may not be here—they may never find you!”

“If they weren’t a real threat, Coffey would never have come.”

“He hates you!”

“No…. If those men take me again….”

“You can handle it.”

“I almost broke,” he told her in an agonized voice. “They did things to me no man should have to endure. And I lived. I don’t know how, but I did. I can’t let them do that again.”

“What about me?”

“I’ll be back,” he promised. “You can’t get rid of me.”

The rest of the night, they spent together, making love with a kind of desperation neither of them could contain. It added a new, deeper dimension to their union that made it more exciting, but also more heart rending.

At 8:00 A.M., they had a shower and fixed breakfast. Diego dressed in a black suit with a white shirt and blood red tie. His dark hair was clipped close to his scalp once more. Janet hardly recognized him. He was a stranger in her lover’s body.

“Come back to me. Don’t you dare be gone so long.”

“I’ll be back, I promise. I love you.”

The men arrived at 9:00 sharp. Diego kissed her one last time—and was gone. Janet sat on the floor, weeping uncontrollably. She curled into the fetal position and couldn’t move.

Ramona saw Diego leave, from her mother’s kitchen window. She ran to him as he got to the car.

“Where are you going?”

“I can’t explain, Mona. I’m sorry.”

“You promised you’d stay!”

“I know.”

“Janet needs you!”

“I know. Mona….”

“You’re a bastard, Diego Hernandez!”

He smiled sadly. “Not according to Mama. Take care of her, little sister. She needs you more than ever.”

“Then why are you going?”

He touched her cheek. “To protect her. I have to go.”

Ramona hugged him fiercely and watched as they drove away. She called to her mother, and together they went to check on Janet. They found her on the living room floor, curled in a ball, weeping. Together, they persuaded her to get up and sit on the couch.

“Why did he go?” Diego’s mother demanded.

“I can’t tell you, Mama. It’s a secret. But he left to keep us safe,” Janet sobbed.

“How does his leaving, keep us safe?”

“I can’t tell you.”

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 38

At school the next day, Janet can hardly concentrate. She realizes she forgot her lunch, but Diego assures her that’s all right.

Diego drove them to McDonald’s, with Bunny and Ramona. They ate in the car on the way back to school. Enjoying the late summer sunshine, the four of them sat in the courtyard until the bell rang ending lunch. Diego walked her to class.

“See you in chorus.” He gave her a quick kiss.

“Do you have to work tonight?”

“Nope. You?”

“I begged off the entire weekend.”

“Me too. Whatever will we do with all that free time?” He nipped her ear with his teeth. “I need to go.”

He jogged away, blowing her a kiss. Janet walked into drama class in a much better frame of mind than she’d been in yesterday. Trina sat next to her at the table, scooting close.

“So, tell me?”

“Tell you what?” Janet replied innocently.

“You know. I’ve seen that look before.”

“What look?”

“Complete satisfaction. On my own face a few times,” she added quietly as he bell rang. “Was it wonderful?”

“Oh, Trina! Yes, it was!” Janet whispered happily.

“Good. I’d hate to have to break his legs.”

Janet giggled, hugging her friend.

Class went well and chorus to follow, was a lot of fun. They practiced their parts for the Roberta Flack song, jazzing it up as necessary. Once school was over, they headed back to her house as fast as they could, and were in bed right away.

Stopping for dinner, they ate sandwiches, leaving the washing up for another time. It felt so right to be together. Scandalous and a little wrong, but good. Janet knew that it couldn’t last. There wouldn’t be anymore weekends like this, but she was glad they had this one. It was beautiful, perfect.

Saturday night, she fell asleep in Diego’s arms, knowing her parents would be home the next day. This was their last night together. Reality would hit tomorrow, but for now, life was perfect.

Janet’s family moved a week later. She said tearful goodbyes, but really she found it a relief. She loved her family, but Sookie and her mother had caused her so much grief over the last few years, it was nice to have them gone. She settled in with her aunt, uncle and cousin Madelyn. She and Maddie were mere days apart in age. Growing up more like sisters, they got along well. Things were more relaxed and normal in Maddie’s house, and Janet loved it there.

Diego was welcomed like an honored guest, the first time he came over for dinner. Later, he became a part of the family. Uncle Buck, who had no son, took him fishing and camping. It made Janet happy to see them get so close.

The chorus competition approached at light speed. Janet could hardly believe it. The competition was out of town in Lincoln, Nebraska. They were the final group to perform that day, so she had all day to worry about her solo.

Many of the choirs were exceptional, but none of them did anything like their group had planned. They grew more excited as their time approached. It was partly nerves and partly the knowledge that what they were about to attempt would blow the judges away.

Finally, they lined up and took their places on the risers behind the royal blue curtain. They were announced and the curtain rose. The three girls stood together near the microphone. Janet had her pitch in her mind, repeating it over and over to make sure she had it right.

Still in the dark, her voice cut through the darkness. “Strumming my pain with his fingers, Singing my life with his words….”

When she got to the last line, the entire chorus came in with harmony and accompaniment. The lights came up slowly as she and the others sang. The spotlight shown brightly in her eyes, keeping her from seeing the audience. She was just as glad, she could pretend they didn’t exist if she couldn’t see them.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from It Takes a Thief ~ A Love in the City Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes

I 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.

Jason Banes is a thief, however, he’s found himself on the wrong end of a murder charge. He admits to the accompanying theft, but maintains his innocence in the multiple murders he’s charged with. When compelling evidence comes out that he’s telling the truth, he’s released into FBI custody in order to help them find the person who is ultimately responsible, the elusive Orchid. Unfortunately, Special Agent in Charge Taylor Driscole, doesn’t seem very happy to meet him.

The woman was medium height with an athletic build. Her hair was an average shade of light brown, worn in a sloppy bun as if she couldn’t be bothered to style it. Her eyes were a common shade of blue, her complexion and looks attractive, but not impressive. She carried herself like a professional and her silvery gray suit coat bulged slightly under her left arm. She wore loose fitting, low riding pants that matched the jacket. Her shirt was stark white. She wore a tie; narrow, silk, gunmetal gray. Her makeup was minimal, severe. She had dark sunglasses perched on her head.

Putting the glasses to her teeth, she bit on the end a moment before speaking. “So, this is him, huh?” She looked at Jason like she was inspecting disappointing livestock.

“Jason Banes,” he said, stepping forward with his hand extended through the bars.

The men flanked the woman putting themselves in front of her like a wall.

“Cool it, guys. He can’t hurt me from in there.” She stepped forward, extending her hand.

Her nails were short, unpolished, well manicured. Her grip was strong, her fingers and palms calloused. Jason got the impression that she could kick his ass too. He took her hand, meeting the intensity of her grasp with equal pounds per square inch. His disarming smile flashed, making no impression whatever on the young woman.

“And you are?”

“Special Agent in Charge, Taylor Driscole.”

You’re Agent Driscole?” He grinned, still holding her hand. The other hand went immediately to his head. Long fingers brushed his curly hair out of his face. “I was expecting a chap. Nice to meet you.”

“This isn’t a social visit, Mr. Banes.”

“Jason,” he corrected automatically.

“Mr. Banes,” she said firmly. “You’re to be released in my custody. The men and I will escort you to a secure location. They’re setting up surveillance and checking security now.”

“All right. How soon do we leave?”

“I’ve got a few more papers to sign, then you’re officially my headache.”

“I won’t be one, I promise. I’m house broken and I do know how to treat a lady.”

He wasn’t really trying to flirt, but Special Agent Driscole seemed to think he was overly familiar. She snatched back her hand, glaring at him.

“Get him ready,” she told the men with her. “Move into position,” she said to the cuff of her jacket.

“Yes, ma’am,” her entourage replied in chorus.

Driscole strode to the door, slapping it with her palm, knocking it aside angrily.

“What’s biting her?” Jason asked the men quietly.

The meat shield shrugged, exchanging a knowing look. Jason wasn’t sure, but he had the uneasy feeling they might be laughing at Driscole, him or both.

He was cuffed, with his wrists in front of him, and escorted to the elevator. Driscole was nowhere to be seen, but she and more security men were waiting in the parking garage. Jason was led off the elevator, surrounded by a walking wall of muscle. He’d never seen so many big, well armed men in his life. Each man had a weapon in his hand. They all looked around carefully, checking for unknown menace. Jason didn’t know whether to feel very safe or very, very afraid.

Two black SUV’s were waiting a few feet away. He was taken to the lead vehicle and put inside. He was flanked by two members of the meat shield. Agent Driscole climbed up front and the rest of the team got in the second vehicle. She contacted the other driver and they took off.

“Why is it you lot like black?” he asked the agents.

“What?” The man on his left asked.

“Black,” Jason replied airily. “Could we be anymore obvious? Do you chaps buy every black SUV in America?”

The man on the left looked puzzled, the man on the right and the driver chuckled. Driscole stared straight ahead. Jason shrugged. He wiggled around trying to get comfortable, but his companions took up most of the seat. He was more of a wiry build himself, but he had very broad shoulders. Feeling slightly claustrophobic, he wiggled some more.

Mr. Left gave him an evil eye. Mr. Right eased slightly toward the door, angling his shoulders so the each had a little more room.

“Thanks,” Jason murmured, smiling a little.

The man said nothing, but nodded and a smile flickered for a second and was gone.

“May I ask where we’re going?” Jason directed at the group.

No one said anything. Driscole shifted in her seat, ignoring him.

“Oi,” Jason said rather more loudly. “I know I’m a criminal, but I think I’ve got a right to know if I’m going to be safe. Might I point out, that you need me—rather a lot?”

Driscole glared at him over her shoulder. Firming her lips, she inhaled slowly. “Look, Mr. Banes. I’m not here to be your friend. I’m here to protect you. The less you know about our destination the better.”

“What? Am I going to yell out the windows and give it away? Who am I gonna tell, Special Agent in Charge Taylor Driscole? Eh? And while we’re having this lively repartee, perhaps you could ask one of the kind gentlemen to undo the handcuffs? I assure you, I’m not inclined to go anywhere. Besides, they’d break me in two before I even got to a door or disabled the driver—not that I know how to do that in any case. I’m a thief, not an assassin.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

Brand New Day by Dellani Oakes – Part 36

The bad news delivered, Janet wants to leave. She asks Diego to take her to Taco Village for dinner.

“I had a feeling you’d be coming,” she said. “Call me crazy, I knew to fix a special platter of chicken enchiladas just the way you two like them.”

She presented them with a steaming plate of food. Thanking her, they took forks and started eating from opposite sides. When they were done, his aunt came to clear their plate. She sat down across the table from Janet, taking her hand.

“You look so lost, cariña. What’s wrong?”

Janet told her, trying hard not to cry. Diego’s aunt smothered her in hugs. His female cousins took her to the restroom to freshen up. His aunt stayed to talk to him.

“So, they’re getting back together?” She made a disgusted noise. “I didn’t think that would ever happen. In a way, I’m happy. Ilene’s been alone too long. But to take that girl from all she holds dear. It’s so unfair.”

Diego nodded, gulping. “I don’t want to lose her, Auntie. But what can I do? I can’t marry her yet. What kind of life could we have? We’d have to live with my parents and we might not make it to college. School’s important to Janet.”

Que sera sera,” she said.

“Don’t go quoting song lyrics, auntie.”

“Not meaning to, Diego. I’m really saying, what will be, will be. You can’t change what’s meant to be. If you’re meant to be together for life, it will happen. But if your lives take you different paths, you follow where it leads you.”

“I’ll try,” he said. “But if it takes me away from Janet….”

“I know. I’ll say special prayers. You take your girl somewhere to make her happy.” She kissed his cheek and pressed money in his hand.

Diego didn’t need the money, but she wouldn’t take it back. Thanking her, he took Janet outside.

“Where do you want to go?”

“I want to go play pool.”

He laughed loudly. “Okay. But we’ll go to my house. I’m not taking you to the bowling ally or the pool hall.”

“Fine.”

Diego took her face in his hands. “I love you,” he said in Spanish, knowing Janet was fluent. “That won’t change, no matter where life takes us.”

“I’ll always love you, Diego. Until my dying day.”

They went to his house and played pool far later than they usually stayed up on a school night. His parents, knowing the situation, didn’t argue or fuss.

“That girl’s got a lot to deal with,” his mother said to his father. “She needs this time with Diego.”

Her husband nodded. He was a man of few words, but that didn’t stop him from disagreeing with her if he thought she was wrong. This particular time, he knew she wasn’t. At 10:00, he told Diego to take Janet home.

Sitting in her driveway, Diego didn’t know if he should talk or kiss her. She solved that problem by kissing him—long and slow and deep.

“This weekend, when my parents are gone, I want you to stay with me.”

“Janet!”

“Don’t you dare argue with me, Diego Hernandez! I want you to stay here and make love to me. I don’t care what they think. I don’t care what they say. They could change their minds at the last minute, and make me move too. I’m not going to miss out on the one thing I want most, just because of them.”

“Are you really sure?”

“Positive. Will you?”

He nodded, kissing her. “I promise.

The rest of the week went by in a slow blur for Janet. The only moments that were clear to her were the ones that included Diego. Somewhere during that week, her mother took her to the doctor to get on the pill. She endured the humiliating exam without protest. This was simply another step toward getting what she wanted.

©2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books