Tag Archive | first meeting

First Meeting from Indian Summer Revisited ~ A Love in the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Beg pardon?” He looked confused.

“Sunshine,” she pointed skyward.

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

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

“Oh, sure. Sorry again.”

“No problem. Sorry I elbowed your gut.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Carina, nice you could join us.”

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

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

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

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Jerrika and Delmar ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

Sometimes, first meetings aren’t face to face. In fact, Jerrika Harper and Delmar Washington connect over the phone, and don’t actually meet face to face for several days.

The phone rang on the other end, sounding tinny in his ear. Staring at his computer screen, which was doing something he knew it shouldn’t be, he waited.

“Tech support, Jerrika speaking, how may I help you?”

“Hi, this is Delmar, Fifth Floor.”

“Hello, Delmar Fifth Floor. What seems to be your trouble?”

Her voice was bright and sparkly, somehow lightening the load he had on his shoulders.

“I’m hoping you can tell me. I’m staring at a black screen. Before you ask, yes, it’s all plugged in, the monitor is on, I’ve turned it off and on again, and it’s still black.”

“Hmm. Is there a cursor blinking?”

“Yeah.”

“So, we know it’s operational. Did you recently download anything?”

“You think it’s a virus?”

“Could be. Did you?”

“Just some files for a client.”

“Via e-mail?”

“Yeah.”

He heard keys clicking rapidly.

“Name?”

“Delmar Washington.”

“Gotcha.”

More keys clicked. Jerrika whistled. “Wow, Delmar. Do you ever clear out your inbox?”

“I thought I did. Why?”

“You’ve got over two thousand old e-mails here, love. Want I should purge this?”

“You can do that?”

“I am an Tech Goddess, I am omnipresent and omnipotent.”

“But are you omniscient? Because that’s my favorite.”

She giggled. “Only on Friday. You’re in luck! This might take a minute.”

He could still hear her breathing, and the sound of keys clicking, so he knew she hadn’t hung up. As he watched, his screen blinked blue, black and came back on.

“Whoa! What did you do?”

“I have solved your problem. The most recent e-mails are in a file marked Recent. The ones which were less than a month old are now in a file marked 30 days or less. I did a quick check of the spam folder, threw it all away, and cleared your deleted files. The rest you’ll have to decide about. I didn’t want to purge anything important.”

“Damn, girl! Will you marry me?”

“That’s just the relief talking.”

“True. But how can I thank you? That was amazing.”

“I’m fond of chocolate chip cookies,” she teased.

“I’ll send you some.”

There was a surprised pause. “You really would, wouldn’t you?”

“You bet. Hey, better yet, I’ll get you a gift card to Lucille’s Bakery on Sixteenth. They make the best chocolate chip cookies in the city. What’s your e-mail?”

“Jerrika Harper. That’s spelled J-E-R-R-I-K-A.” It wasn’t necessary to give the rest, they worked for Crossfire Sporting Goods, which had its own server.

His turn to tap keys.

“Oh, my God, you really did!”

“I was serious about that thank you. You have no idea how much I have to do before I can go home. You’re a life saver.”

“I live but to serve. Anything else I can help you with?”

“I’d love for you to keep talking to me, you have a beautiful voice.”

“Why, thank you. You’ve got a very nice voice, yourself. But if you’re that busy, I’ll distract you.”

“Also true. Much as I’d love to keep chatting, I gotta go. Thanks again.”

“You bet. That’s what I’m here for. Keep your e-mail cleared out,” she admonished playfully.

“Never gonna happen.”

Laughing, they said goodbye and hung up.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Indian Summer Revisited ~ A Paranormal Romance by Dellani Oakes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Beg pardon?” He looked confused.

“Sunshine,” she pointed skyward.

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

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

“Oh, sure. Sorry again.”

“No problem. Sorry I elbowed your gut.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Carina, nice you could join us.”

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

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

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

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from In the Spotlight ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

Some first meetings don’t take place in person, such is the case with Cullen Fellowes and Jazz Rialto. He sees her performing at the mall with her brothers. Making the mistake of singing with her, he outs himself—which is a problem, since he’s a famous rock star. Later, Lowell, Jazz’s brother posts the video of their performance, and Cullen makes a comment.

“Did you share it around?” Jazz asked.

“Yes, Mom. I shared it everywhere,” Lowell replied.

“Good. How did you label it?”

“The Jazz Trio sings with Cullen Fellowes.”

“You did not! He’ll be so pissed!”

“Wanna bet? Look who the first comment is from.” He pointed to the screen, reading it aloud. “Great concert! Wish it hadn’t ended in such a weird way, I wanted to come up and say hi. You all are great, and I had fun singing with you. Sang my damn song better than me! CWF

The comment was posted under the name The Cullenator, with a picture of his sassy grin, blue eyes twinkling.

“Did you reply?” She sat next to him once more.

“That comment, big sis, is directed at you.”

“Then move, and let me answer!” She grabbed the laptop, nearly knocking him off his chair.

“Don’t be lame. Let me read it before you post.”

“Fine!”

Thinking for a moment, she started typing. Lowell read over her shoulder.

“Mmm. No.”

“What? That’s a great response.”

Mr. Fellowes, my brothers and I enjoyed your participation at our concert. We hope you can join us again. You sound like you’re replying to a business letter. That sucks completely.” He deleted her message, typing one of his own.

“No! You didn’t post— Lowell!”

He’d typed: Cullen, thanks for the duet. Let’s do it again sometime. You’re super hot.

“You bastard! I can’t believe you did that! Oh, my God, you bastard!” She was in the process of pummeling him, when her phone rang. “Behave!” she cautioned. Her phone was the official business line. If the number wasn’t on her list, she treated it like a business call.

“Thank you for calling the Jazz Trio, Jazz speaking—”

“So, I’m hot, huh?” Cullen’s voice sounded over the phone, a soft laugh followed.

“Oh, God,” she whispered, hand over her eyes.

“You’re supposed to say that later, while we have sex. Right now, it’s completely inappropriate.”

“My brother wrote that. The drummer. The youngest. He can’t be trusted. My reply was—”

“Boring,” Lowell said loudly.

“Professional,” Jazz amended.

“So—boring,” Cullen said with a loud laugh. “I don’t like boring, or professional. I’m a relaxed kind of guy.”

“Why were you there?”

“At the mall? Sometimes, I like to be—boring,” he confessed. “Honestly, I like to connect with people. Growing up rich, being a rock star, it’s easy to forget what it’s like. Your music, your voice. That makes people take notice. Sorry I spoiled the ending of your concert, with my precipitous escape.”

It took her a second for her mind to flip into high vocabulary mode. Laughing softly, she cradled the phone. “It’s okay. Not being you, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be mobbed.”

“Not quite as entertaining as it might seem. I was lucky, though. Two of the security guys helped me out.”

“Who was the guy who got arrested?”

“How did you know?” he sounded genuinely puzzled.

“My brothers saw, as they drove by.”

“Tell him I filmed it,” Lowell nudged her.

“No!” she whispered.

“No? What? I didn’t ask anything,” Cullen said.

“I was telling Lowell no. He’s like a little kid, bugging me. Go away, Lowell!” She shoved at her brother.

He didn’t move, so she trotted up the stairs to her room.

“I was calling, partly to thank you for the compliment, and partly to ask you to come to the concert this Saturday.”

“Oh, gosh, I can’t!” Her face hit her palm. “I have a prior engagement.”

“Reschedule.”

“I can’t. It’s my great-grandmother’s ninety-ninth birthday. The entire clan is meeting up for a party. We’re hoping she’ll make it to a hundred, but you never know.”

“Oh, no sure. That’s far more important. Ninety-nine, huh? I didn’t think I’d even make it to thirty, that’s pretty cool.”

“Why not?”

“Why not—what?”

“Make it to thirty. You’re not sick, are you?”

His laughter rang out. “Do I look sick? I thought I looked hot.”

“You don’t. You do! Just—” She paused. “Are conversations with you always this difficult?”

“I’d love to say no, but probably. My brother says I don’t filter, and my sister says I don’t have an off switch. Both are correct.” He chuckled softly, sobering somewhat. “I didn’t think I’d make it to thirty, because I don’t live an exemplary life. I drive too fast, like to jump out of planes, love free climbing, and want to snow board in the Alps.”

“That last doesn’t sound so dangerous.”

“It is, if you jump out of a helicopter.”

“Oh. Wow. You can do that?”

“Yeah. You can do that.”

She paused so long, he thought she’d lost connection.

“Hello?”

“Yeah, hi. I was just thinking about all those things. Dangerous. Expensive.”

“They are. Both.”

“I can’t even dream of having that kind of money.”

“Actually, you can. You have talent—all three of you. You sang my song better than I do, and I wrote the damn thing. Part of my reason for this call, besides inviting you to the concert, I wanted to see if you and your brothers are available to go on the road in a few months. We’re doing a tour of the greater northeast, and Canada. Specifically Newfoundland/ Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec, and all those funky-do islands that I can’t remember the names of. You’d need your passports, and whatever instruments you prefer. Everything else provided.”

Her gasp left her breathless. “Are you serious right now?”

“Yes. This isn’t just a play to get in your pants.”

“Um….”

“Though, I would like that. But I can wait. The offer is completely serious. If you say yes, I’ll call our manager, and have him talk to yours.”

“Actually, I’m the manger for now. We can’t afford a regular one.”

“Then, you need a manager.”

“Yeah, but….”

“Call this number, and tell her I sent you.” He rattled off a phone number.

“Wait, hold on. Let me get a pen and paper.”

“Waiting, ma’am!”

She scrabbled around, finding what she needed. “Okay, go.”

He repeated the number. “Got it?”

“Yes. Who is this?”

“Babs Goldblum.”

“We can’t afford her! She’s the best agent in the business!”

“Call her. Talking is free. Mention my name, and that we want you on our tour. I guarantee she’ll say yes.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Whose Book Is It Anyway? ~ A Love Under the Sun Paranormal Romance

Sometimes, couples will have known one another for a while before taking it to a different level. For whatever reason, they don’t see that they’re in love. Several of my couples are good friends, often involved with other people. However, the bond between them is strong. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, completely by surprise, they realize that they’ve been in love for ages, and didn’t see it. I’ve decided to call these Epiphanies and I’ll be sharing them in and among the First Meetings.

Duff and Grace have been roommates and friends for over four years. Although Duff had carried a torch the entire time, Grace has kept him firmly locked away in the Friend Box. He keeps hoping something will change, that she’ll realize how much he loves her. He’s been waiting for the right time to talk to her, and finally one night, he has the chance. Her parents are visiting, and he’s talking to her father about what he wants to do once he graduates from college.

“Eventually, I want to do some teaching, but Grace comes first.”

I glanced at her. Tears welled in her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” I put my arms around her, holding her close.

“No man ever put me first,” she whispered. “Except you.”

“Gracie, you’re always first with me. No matter what.”

Nash and Emily quietly left the room. I held Grace, letting her cry. I just hold her until she’s done, I never tell her to stop. I learned a long time ago, that’s the way to make her angry, or make her cry longer.

“Why didn’t I ever see you?”

I didn’t answer, suspecting it was rhetorical.

“You’ve always been so good to me. You take care of me. I went from one moron to another, but you always stuck with me, comforting me when they left.”

“They weren’t all morons. Some of them were pretty nice.”

“Those guys didn’t get the part where we lived together.”

“Well, you have to admit, it’s not the most common arrangement.”

“True. They couldn’t believe we’d never been to bed together.”

“Men wouldn’t get that. There’s no straight man in the world who wants to be just friends with a woman. There’s always an agenda.”

“For what?” She turned wide eyes on me.

I shrugged as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “Sex—duh. I shouldn’t even have to clarify that for you, Grace.”

“Was there for you? Have the last four years been part of an agenda?” She shoved away from me, sliding off the opposite side of the stool.

“Think for a second, how crazy that sounds.”

“You just said—”

“I love you, Grace. I’ve loved you for ages. I always hoped you’d eventually fall for me, too. I stayed on, as your friend, because it was the only piece of you I had. I could have left, but it would have killed me.”

“Seeing me with other men must have been torture,” she sighed, moving into the circle of my arms.

“Yeah.” I couldn’t say anymore. Just knowing there was another man sharing he bed, making love to her, made me sick. Many long nights, I’d lain awake listening to them having sex on the other side of the house. It was torture.

She kissed me deeply, pouring her love into it. Breathless, overwhelmed, I kissed her in return. It felt so good having her in my arms. This was where she was meant to be. There was only one place I wanted her more, but not with her parents in the house.

Her phone rang—that special ring tone. She reluctantly reached for it, but I took it from her.

“Hello?”

“Who’s this?”

“This is the roommate. Who the hell is this?”

“Mark. Her fucking boyfriend.”

I paused, considering. “Nope. You gave up that title when you left town without telling her. But that’s okay, because a better man is in your place. Thanks for that.”

“You? She’s dating you?”

“Yup! Just spent the most fantastic weekend of our lives. Lose the number, Dick.”

“Mark.”

“Whatever.” I hung up.

Grace stared at me, a smile twitching her lips. “You lie way too well.”

“It’s that theatre training. I simply elaborate on what I imagine us doing.” I shrugged like it was the most simple thing in the world.

Grace didn’t answer. She stepped closer, holding me tightly, her head pressed on my chest. “I love you so much, Duff. So very much.”

© 2020 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Bad Fall ~ A Romantic Mystery by Dellani Oakes

I love first meetings. They set the tone for the relationship, and introduce the characters to the person they will love. Frank Atherton’s not very happy. As Assistant Director at a massive retirement complex, he’s having to deal with a troublesome visitor, Ralph Penwarren. He’s been interrupted by reports of his bad behavior all day, so when there’s a knock, Frank assumes it’s about him.

Someone knocked at his door. Thinking it might be about Mr. Penwarren, he groaned quietly as he stood up.

“Be right there!” he called. He dropped his plate in the kitchen sink and went to the door. “What’s he done now?” he asked automatically as he opened it.

It wasn’t Sue or one of the other staff members. An attractive brunette stood there.

“I’m sorry? Who did what?”

“Oh, no one you’d know. Frank Atherton, Assistant Director. I just saw you on TV.” He held out his hand after wiping it on his T-shirt.

She smiled. “Marka Ventimiglia. Nice to meet you. I feel really stupid asking, but yours is the only room with a light on. I took a chance that someone was up.”

He invited her in. She hesitated a moment, then followed him inside.

“What can I do for you?”

“I’m embarrassed to ask. I’m staying in a guest room and I’m out of toilet paper.”

“Really? No spare?” He was puzzled by that. “The girls usually put it under the sink.”

He walked to his restroom. It was quite spacious, with a tub and a separate, walk-in shower. He opened the cupboard under the sink and didn’t find a spare roll of paper. Checking all the cupboards, he came up empty.

“That’s weird. Gimme a second.” He dialed housekeeping but got no answer, so he dialed the front desk. “Sue, it’s Frank.”

“Hi, Frank. All’s quiet at the moment. Whatcha need?”

“Dr. Ventimiglia is with me and she hasn’t got a spare roll of toilet paper. Neither do I.”

“Oh, gosh. You want me to run some up there?”

“No, you don’t need to. Is Kathy around?”

“She should be. Shall I call her?”

“I just tried. I’ll call her again. Thanks.” He dialed the housekeeping office a second time. No one answered. Puzzled, he hung up.

“I’ll try later,” he told his guest. “Do you need some immediately?”

She looked slightly uncomfortable. “As a matter of fact….”

“Please, make yourself at home. There’s a nearly full roll.” He gestured to his restroom. “Want some coffee?”

“Love some. I’m a caffeine addict. I also drink a lot of water. Hence the urgency.” Marka closed the door behind her.

Frank set up a pot of coffee, pulled out the half and half and sugar packets. She came out just as the coffee finished.

Smiling, he served Marka, inviting her to sit on the love seat. His laptop occupied the chair. He set it carefully on the floor and clicked off the TV.

“I’ll give Kathy a call again a minute,” he explained. “She might be on break.”

“Thanks. I’m still learning my way around. I got here yesterday.”

“I caught your show tonight. Interesting. You should get a good turn out. I’ll talk it up for you.”

“You wouldn’t believe the success I had when I was doing my clinical,” she responded excitedly. “It was amazing, the results!” she sobered slightly, catching herself before she got too crazy. “I won’t bore you with details. You’ll have to excuse me, Mr. Atherton. I get very excited about my work.”

Frank smiled, eyes twinkling. “I’m glad one of us can. I’m either playing nursemaid, mother or cop. I never thought I’d have a job like this. None of my duties were in the job description.”

“The director, Mr. Norton, speaks very highly of you.”

Frank laughed abruptly and rather rudely as he finished his coffee. “Yeah? Boy, that was lie. He thinks I want his job.”

“Do you?”

He couldn’t tell if she was serious or not. Looking surprised, he set his mug down. “Not really. Too much schmoozing.”

“Isn’t that in your job description?”

Frank laughed, shaking his head. “I’m not a schmoozer. I’m more of an in your face kind of guy. Let me give Kathy a call.” He was reaching for the house phone, on top of the console TV, when it rang. Startled, he answered. “Frank Atherton.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

First Meeting from In the Spotlight ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes

Some first meetings don’t take place in person, such is the case with Cullen Fellowes and Jazz Rialto. He sees her performing at the mall with her brothers. Making the mistake of singing with her, he outs himself—which is a problem, since he’s a famous rock star. Later, Lowell, Jazz’s brother posts the video of their performance, and Cullen makes a comment.

“Did you share it around?” Jazz asked.

“Yes, Mom. I shared it everywhere,” Lowell replied.

“Good. How did you label it?”

“The Jazz Trio sings with Cullen Fellowes.”

“You did not! He’ll be so pissed!”

“Wanna bet? Look who the first comment is from.” He pointed to the screen, reading it aloud. “Great concert! Wish it hadn’t ended in such a weird way, I wanted to come up and say hi. You all are great, and I had fun singing with you. Sang my damn song better than me! CWF

The comment was posted under the name The Cullenator, with a picture of his sassy grin, blue eyes twinkling.

“Did you reply?” She sat next to him once more.

“That comment, big sis, is directed at you.”

“Then move, and let me answer!” She grabbed the laptop, nearly knocking him off his chair.

“Don’t be lame. Let me read it before you post.”

“Fine!”

Thinking for a moment, she started typing. Lowell read over her shoulder.

“Mmm. No.”

“What? That’s a great response.”

Mr. Fellowes, my brothers and I enjoyed your participation at our concert. We hope you can join us again. You sound like you’re replying to a business letter. That sucks completely.” He deleted her message, typing one of his own.

“No! You didn’t post— Lowell!”

He’d typed: Cullen, thanks for the duet. Let’s do it again sometime. You’re super hot.

“You bastard! I can’t believe you did that! Oh, my God, you bastard!” She was in the process of pummeling him, when her phone rang. “Behave!” she cautioned. Her phone was the official business line. If the number wasn’t on her list, she treated it like a business call.

“Thank you for calling the Jazz Trio, Jazz speaking—”

“So, I’m hot, huh?” Cullen’s voice sounded over the phone, a soft laugh followed.

“Oh, God,” she whispered, hand over her eyes.

“You’re supposed to say that later, while we have sex. Right now, it’s completely inappropriate.”

“My brother wrote that. The drummer. The youngest. He can’t be trusted. My reply was—”

“Boring,” Lowell said loudly.

“Professional,” Jazz amended.

“So—boring,” Cullen said with a loud laugh. “I don’t like boring, or professional. I’m a relaxed kind of guy.”

“Why were you there?”

“At the mall? Sometimes, I like to be—boring,” he confessed. “Honestly, I like to connect with people. Growing up rich, being a rock star, it’s easy to forget what it’s like. Your music, your voice. That makes people take notice. Sorry I spoiled the ending of your concert, with my precipitous escape.”

It took her a second for her mind to flip into high vocabulary mode. Laughing softly, she cradled the phone. “It’s okay. Not being you, I can’t imagine what it’s like to be mobbed.”

“Not quite as entertaining as it might seem. I was lucky, though. Two of the security guys helped me out.”

“Who was the guy who got arrested?”

“How did you know?” he sounded genuinely puzzled.

“My brothers saw, as they drove by.”

“Tell him I filmed it,” Lowell nudged her.

“No!” she whispered.

“No? What? I didn’t ask anything,” Cullen said.

“I was telling Lowell no. He’s like a little kid, bugging me. Go away, Lowell!” She shoved at her brother.

He didn’t move, so she trotted up the stairs to her room.

“I was calling, partly to thank you for the compliment, and partly to ask you to come to the concert this Saturday.”

“Oh, gosh, I can’t!” Her face hit her palm. “I have a prior engagement.”

“Reschedule.”

“I can’t. It’s my great-grandmother’s ninety-ninth birthday. The entire clan is meeting up for a party. We’re hoping she’ll make it to a hundred, but you never know.”

“Oh, no sure. That’s far more important. Ninety-nine, huh? I didn’t think I’d even make it to thirty, that’s pretty cool.”

“Why not?”

“Why not—what?”

“Make it to thirty. You’re not sick, are you?”

His laughter rang out. “Do I look sick? I thought I looked hot.”

“You don’t. You do! Just—” She paused. “Are conversations with you always this difficult?”

“I’d love to say no, but probably. My brother says I don’t filter, and my sister says I don’t have an off switch. Both are correct.” He chuckled softly, sobering somewhat. “I didn’t think I’d make it to thirty, because I don’t live an exemplary life. I drive too fast, like to jump out of planes, love free climbing, and want to snow board in the Alps.”

“That last doesn’t sound so dangerous.”

“It is, if you jump out of a helicopter.”

“Oh. Wow. You can do that?”

“Yeah. You can do that.”

She paused so long, he thought she’d lost connection.

“Hello?”

“Yeah, hi. I was just thinking about all those things. Dangerous. Expensive.”

“They are. Both.”

“I can’t even dream of having that kind of money.”

“Actually, you can. You have talent—all three of you. You sang my song better than I do, and I wrote the damn thing. Part of my reason for this call, besides inviting you to the concert, I wanted to see if you and your brothers are available to go on the road in a few months. We’re doing a tour of the greater northeast, and Canada. Specifically Newfoundland/ Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec, and all those funky-do islands that I can’t remember the names of. You’d need your passports, and whatever instruments you prefer. Everything else provided.”

Her gasp left her breathless. “Are you serious right now?”

“Yes. This isn’t just a play to get in your pants.”

“Um….”

“Though, I would like that. But I can wait. The offer is completely serious. If you say yes, I’ll call our manager, and have him talk to yours.”

“Actually, I’m the manger for now. We can’t afford a regular one.”

“Then, you need a manager.”

“Yeah, but….”

“Call this number, and tell her I sent you.” He rattled off a phone number.

“Wait, hold on. Let me get a pen and paper.”

“Waiting, ma’am!”

She scrabbled around, finding what she needed. “Okay, go.”

He repeated the number. “Got it?”

“Yes. Who is this?”

“Babs Goldblum.”

“We can’t afford her! She’s the best agent in the business!”

“Call her. Talking is free. Mention my name, and that we want you on our tour. I guarantee she’ll say yes.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Driving Blind ~ A Florida Families Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting imageI thought of this story when I was driving down State Road 44 into New Smyrna. The traffic is horrible at certain times of day, particularly in the summer. I can’t remember now why I was there, rather than taking I-95. There had to have been a good reason for it, because it’s usually a drive I avoid. In any case, this story, Driving Blind, was born as I languished in traffic.

It makes a fun First Meeting because it’s so random.

It had been an indescribably horrible day. Zenobia drove with the top down, listening to Battle Without Honor or Humanity at full volume. Her red VW Beetle zipped along Interstate 95, her sun-streaked blonde hair billowing behind her like a standard.

She pulled off at the New Smyrna, eastbound exit, slowing way down for the sharp curve. Checking traffic, she eased her VW into the flow heading toward town. At the stoplight on the east side of I-95, she slowed as the light changed to yellow. She could have driven through, but there was a motorcycle cop three cars behind her on the left. She turned down her music and waited for the light to change. The left turners eased across State Road 44 and the police officer on the motorcycle pulled up next to her.

Zenobia risked a glance at him. She couldn’t see much because of the helmet and glasses, but she saw a strong chin, broad shoulders and tanned arms covered in silky black hair. She smiled and looked away when he turned toward her. The light changed and she carefully put the car in gear, moving forward slowly in the heavy traffic.

As luck would have it, the next light was also red. Slightly frustrated, Zenobia checked the traffic to see how badly it was backed up. Another look out the front window showed the cars were thick ahead as well as to the rear. The police officer was a car behind her, but eased up once more, crowding the SUV ahead of him. The driver peeped over her shoulder guiltily, but the officer did nothing.

Zenobia felt eyes on her and looked around to see the officer staring at her. She smiled again, nervously, and flipped her hair to cover her face. A furtive glance in her rearview mirror showed the officer staring at her, smirking. He had full lips and a hint of a five o’clock shadow. Of course, with hair that dark, he probably had a shadow right after he shaved. What little she could see of his hair was so black, it had a bluish cast to it.

The light changed and the car behind Zenobia honked. Flustered, she forgot to put her car in gear. Scrabbling around, she put it in first, took her foot off the clutch but not the brake and the car stalled. More honking followed. Mortified, she got the car started, put it in gear and jack-rabbited through the intersection as the light changed to red.

Flashing blue lights and a whoop of a siren warned her to pull over. There was an abandoned driveway from a long defunct business. Zenobia rolled over there, turning off her car. She pulled out her license and registration, ready for the officer. He was busy on the radio, calling in her humiliation and probably checking to see if she had any priors or outstanding warrants. Thankfully, her driving slate was clean. She lived a steady, boring life. At 29, she lived with her parents, putting her advanced computer degree to less than great use working on the Geek Squad at Best Buy. Far from ideal, her circumstances couldn’t be helped. She’d had a lot of difficulty finding a good paying job in her field that was also close to home.

Feeling an overwhelming desire to cry, Zenobia put her head on the steering wheel. “This is the worst day ever!” she sobbed into her lap. She forced the tears down, but couldn’t keep her shoulders from shuddering.

The clearing of a deep, male voice got her attention. She looked up in the the darkest brown eyes she’d ever seen. Black eyebrows arched over thickly lashed eyes. His nose was almost too big for his face, but he made up for it by having a square jaw and a cleft in his chin. He smiled down at her.

Zenobia handed her license and registration to him. He gave them a cursory look, jotted something down on a pad with his left hand and gave them back to her.

I’m sorry about the mess back there,” she apologized quietly. “I’m still getting used to standard.”

No big thing,” he replied. His voice was deep, husky and flavored with a true Southern accent.

Are you gonna write me a ticket?” Her voice cracked making her feel even more foolish.

You okay?” He frowned, taking a step closer.

Unable to control herself another second, she burst into tears. “I’m sorry. I’m not trying to get out of the ticket by crying,” she sobbed. “I just don’t know what I did wrong and I can’t afford a ticket and I’ve had the worst day ever!”

Rather than being sympathetic, he laughed. Zenobia glared at him. He laughed harder.

I’m sorry,” he gasped. “I’m not laughing at you—well, I am—but not because you’re crying. I pulled you over to make sure you aren’t having car trouble. You had such a problem at the light, I thought maybe your engine stalled. I wanted to get you out of traffic.”

You—you aren’t giving me a ticket?”

No. No.” He chuckled again. “I’m really sorry, Miss Vlachos. I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Zenobia squinted up at him, surprise replacing worry. “You pronounced it right. No one ever gets it right.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Drenched ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting imageSome first meetings don’t occur in person. That’s the case for Elizabeth Stanton and Dylan Marshall. She’s applied for a job at a local senior citizen facility, which he runs. She had to miss her appointment earlier that day, due to weather and not knowing her way around, so Dylan decides to call her instead. She’s sitting in her new home, listening to the rain on the roof, wondering when the electricity is going to come back on, when the phone rings.

Elizabeth couldn’t help hoping her power would be sooner than two hours. She didn’t like being in the dark, especially in a house that didn’t yet feel like home. To occupy herself, she pulled out her computer, only to realize she couldn’t go on line, because, of course, the Wi-Fi was out. Rain hammered her roof, sounding like hail. She was tempted to look, but didn’t fancy going out in the dark just to check the weather. Her car was covered, the roof sturdy. She wasn’t worried—too much.

Her cellphone rang, startling her. It wasn’t a number she recognized, but since it was local, she answered anyway. “Hello?”

Elizabeth Slaton?”

Yes. Who’s this?”

Dylan Marshall. We spoke earlier about the job.”

Of course.” Her heart fluttered. Had he found someone else? Was he calling to cancel their appointment? She hoped not. She needed the job and he was the only one who had called her back.

Could you possibly come in earlier than one? I got handed a job I don’t really want and can’t say no to. I have to be at a Yacht Club cruise and schmooze luncheon. I don’t know when I’ll get back.”

Certainly. Until I have a job, my time is entirely open.”

Great! I look forward to it. Hey, did you get home okay?”

Yes, but my power is out. I’m sitting here in the dark and it’s a little creepy.”

Seriously? I love sitting in the dark. It relaxes me. Of course, Darla thinks I’m totally crazy. My dog, Darla. She’s a fawn Doberman.”

Your dog thinks you’re crazy?” she giggled.

Yeah, well, since I think that, I probably am, right? I don’t know, she has a very disapproving look on her face when I do it.”

Maybe she’s just trying to see.”

Dogs have good night vision—don’t they?”

Mine didn’t. Stone stupid and blind as sticks.”

You don’t mean blind as bats?”

No. Bats see just fine. But have you ever seen a stick that had good vision? I ask you.”

He paused. “I have not. Okay, I’ll give ya that.”

What time tomorrow?”

Nine thirty or ten. Which works better?”

Let’s make it ten. I’m not sure enough of your location. I don’t own a GPS. I never needed one until I moved here.”

Where are you located? I can give you great directions and can almost guarantee you won’t get lost.”

Almost? That sounds dubious, Mr. Marshall.”

Well, I can’t factor in your ability to follow directions, so I can’t say they are definitively, one hundred percent fool proof.”

Gotcha. I’m over on the beach. I can get mainland without difficulty.”

Okay, north or south end?”

South.”

Sweet. Okay. Once you cross the causeway, turn north on US-1.”

Hang on, let me get a pen.” She scrambled around finding paper and a pen. “Okay, north on US-1.”

Have you been to the city limits to the north?”

No.”

It’s not quite five miles. You’ll want to be in the left lane. Pass the airport, pass Tops and Bottoms.”

What’s up?”

Tops and Bottoms. It’s a strip club. You can’t miss it.”

I had no idea this town was so cosmopolitan.”

He chuckled. It was a very warm sound and made Elizabeth feel comfortable.

Two blocks past, turn left onto North Street. We’re on the left, but parking is on the right. Got that?”

Yes, I think so. We’ll see how well if I’m on time tomorrow.”

Take down my number in case you get lost.” He gave her his cell number. “Where you from, Miss Slaton?”

Denver, most recently. Ever been there?”

I spent the night at the airport once. We got snowed in on Halloween. Kind of a shock for a Southern boy like me to see snow in October. You went to college, I assume. Was that in Denver, too?”

That’s why I initially went there. I went to University of Denver. I graduated with my Bachelor’s with 3.9 and started my Master’s.”

What field?”

Business management.” She laughed a little, puzzled by the conversation. “I thought we were doing this tomorrow.”

Why wait? I still have to see you in person, but get the boring stuff out of the way before you get here. How many hours before you have your masters?”

Six.”

Why’d you leave, if you don’t mind me asking.”

Never date a cowboy.”

I don’t plan to. But why?”

I never met one who could spell or adhere to monogamy.”

Oooh, gotcha. So, you’re single?” He sounded way too happy to hear that.

I don’t date my boss, Mr. Marshall,” she replied in a bone chilling tone.

No worries. We just sometimes keep some odd hours. I don’t want a husband or boyfriend thinking I’m getting a lap dance from my secretary after hours.”

Tops and Bottoms is close, you can always go there.”

Exactly! That’s what makes this location ideal.”

She sincerely hoped he was kidding, and strongly suspected he was.

You’re actually more qualified for my job than I am. I’m not that close to my Masters. I’ve got the in-house experience. I’ve been doing this sort of work for seven years now. How fast do you type?”

I can do a hundred words a minute. I know Word….”

He made an impatient noise. “Do you have an above average IQ?”

I graduated with a 3.9,” she reminded him.

Can you put up with a man who’s slightly ADD and hops from subject to subject like a squirrel on crack?”

I’m not sure I’d describe it that way, but if you’re describing yourself, I’m keeping up with you.”

Can you multi-task?”

Depends on the tasks. I can’t type and stand on my head, but I can jog on a treadmill and read.”

Can you eat and talk at the same time?”

Not with food in my mouth. I mean, I am physically capable of doing that, but ew. Why? Is that part of the job description?”

No. I’m inviting you to dinner. It’s early yet, I’m hungry and a girl’s gotta eat.”

Mr. Marshall, I….”

Have no plausible excuse,” he concluded. “And please call me Dylan. You can meet me somewhere, if you like.”

I don’t know where anything is around here. And I’m a little nervous going out in this weather. I’m not used to it.”

Okay, tell you what. I’ll come pick you up and I’ll risk the shitty weather. Will you join me then? Please? I’d really like to get to know you.”

Elizabeth sighed. “All right. I don’t usually go out with men I don’t know, Mister… Dylan.”

I don’t usually ask out complete strangers, Elizabeth. But I hate eating alone. I have no food whatsoever at my place.”

How soon will you be here?”

Twenty minutes okay?”

Yes. That’s fine. Don’t expect perfection. It’s dark and I can’t see to put on makeup.”

I don’t care. We won’t do fancy. Do you eat meat?” He paused. Elizabeth thought she heard him curse softly. “I mean like steak,” he added sheepishly.

Elizabeth burst out laughing. “I wish I could see your face! I bet it was priceless. Yes. I like steak. And I occasionally eat meat.”

Dylan groaned softly.

I mean like chicken and pork, duh!”

I’ll see you in twenty minutes. I’ll be the guy who’s got his foot in his mouth.”

Neat trick. Isn’t it hard to drive like that?”

Amusing. Yeah….”

Bye, Dylan. See you soon!”

Bye.” He hung up.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books

First Meeting from Down the Drain ~ A Love Under the Sun Romance by Dellani Oakes

First Meeting imageAlthough technically Vanessa and Dario already know one another, this is the first time they’ve actually considered taking their friendship further. Since it’s a defining moment, it makes for a good first meeting.

Music played loudly and Vanessa heard voices in the back. Rather than walking through the house, she wandered around the well maintained lawn and found the party around the pool. Deb saw her coming and let her in the back screen door.

You look good enough to eat!” she teased.

I’ll take my compliments where I can get them. Thank you.”

Nessa!” Dario rushed over. He wasn’t a quiet or a subtle man, but he was good looking, above average height, muscular build with black hair and the darkest brown eyes she’d ever seen.

Taking the bowl from her, he offered her a beer, or other beverage, and bustled into the house to put the bowl in the fridge. He came back with two bottles of Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, handing one to her with a flourish.

A lady as lovely as you, should have the best.”

Thank you.” She took the proffered bottle and sipped as he watched. “Oh, that’s good! Yum!”

Dario smirked, ducking his head slightly. “Glad you approve. I have a cousin who works at the brewery in California. He keeps me supplied.”

Can’t you buy this at the liquor store?” she smirked, raising an eyebrow as she sipped.

Yeah.” He stretched, extending his legs, exposing a tasty patch of sculpted abdomen. “But it sounds better to the ladies if I tell them how much trouble I went to, to get it.”

Vanessa laughed, tossing her head back. “Should you tell me that? Doesn’t it spoil the mystique?”

Maybe, but you aren’t the type of woman a man should lie to.”

That sobered her slightly. “Do I—come across…. How do I—? Do I seem—mean?” she stumbled and stuttered, trying not to seem needy or bitchy.

Dario laughed, shaking his head. “Vanessa, you are a whole lot of intimidating. But underneath beats the heart of a passionate woman—who can be scary as hell.”

That doesn’t make me feel better, Dario. Just saying.”

He scooted closer, lowering his voice. “But the scary isn’t the real Vanessa. There is another, very different woman under all that intimidation. And it takes a brave, confident man to find it.”

Are you saying you’re that man?” she raised an eyebrow.

I’m saying that I’d like to find out if I am. You willing to give me a shot?”

She gave him a once over, taking in his thick black hair, fathomless eyes, full lips and square jaw. Dropping her gaze, she examined his broad shoulders and firm chest, washboard abs, powerful thighs and tight ass. He waited patiently for her decision.

Yeah. I’m willing to give you a shot.”

Cool.”

Don’t think you’re getting lucky after this party.”

Hadn’t entered my mind,” he lied.

Sure, it hadn’t.” She nudged him, laughing.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

To Buy Dellani’s Books