Tag Archive | murder

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 59

sidetracked coverAiden ducked and slammed his fist into the other boy’s belly. Eddy fell with a thump and a grunt. Gasping for breath, he let out a high, shrill sound like air escaping a balloon. Aiden left him there, ducking down the staircase. He banged through the door at the bottom, jogging down the corridor, toward the courtyard.

“Aiden Partridge!” a man’s voice yelled his name from his right.

Turning, he saw Principal Harkness. The man was red in the face, his lips pressed so tightly together, they were white around the edge.

“Sir?”

“What are you doing, young man?”

“Going to class.”

“You’re running.”

“Sorry, sir. I didn’t want to be late.”

“You’re not just late, boy, you’re coming to my office. Get moving!” he bellowed, pointing to the administration building.

Without a word, Aiden shuffled toward the office. He passed Burl, who was at his locker.

“Sup?” he asked quietly.

Aiden shrugged, shaking his head. The man and teen walked out the door. As it swung slowly shut behind them, Burl watched as the principal prodded his brother with his fingers. Harkness shoved him hard enough for Aiden to lose his balance. Catching himself, Aiden stepped further to his left, away from Harkness’ reach. The principal sped up so he could poke him again. Not liking what he saw, Burl went to a nearby classroom. Corin was just sitting down. Burl tipped his head at the youngest Partridge.

“I’m sorry, Ms. Tyson, I need to borrow my brother. It’s important.”

“Sure.” The teacher frowned, but nodded. “Need a hall pass?”

“No, ma’am. Thanks. We got called to the office.”

“Okay.” Still frowning and puzzled, she watched the boys hustle out the door, trailing their brother and Harkness. Concerned, Ms. Tyson followed them to the door. Catching the eye of Officer Mendez, she pointed. “Something’s not right.”

“I’ll have a look. Not to worry. I’ve got this.”

She went back to her class, forcing a smile. “Good morning, class.”

“Good morning, Ms. Tyson,” they said as she closed the door.

Aiden had expected to go into Mr. Harkness’ office. Instead, the principle took him to the restroom beside the auditorium. These were generally deserted during the day, and often kept locked. Today, the door opened easily, and Aiden was pushed in ahead of the principal. Instead of empty, it held three other people: Xander, Moe and Oliver. The three boys had murderous expressions on their faces as they squared off with Aiden. He turned to go back out, but Harkness blocked his escape.

“What’s this about?” Aiden asked, assessing the situation. He tallied his chances of surviving this encounter, and didn’t like the total.

“You know what this is about. You and your pals shut down a very lucrative enterprise. You embarrassed a lot of people, caused more trouble than you’re worth. Do you know what happens to interfering trouble makers?”

“No, but I figure I’m about to find out.” He knew he could take any one of the boys, maybe two, but three—not even he was that good. Xander looked a little spooked, but he’d join his hood friends if they jumped Aiden.

“You’re a pain in the ass, just like your old man. He never played the game, either.”

“I’d rather play my own,” Aiden said, shifting his weight to take on the boys when they rushed.

“Foolish boy.” Nodding, Harkness signaled for the hoods to jump Aiden.

Moe rushed in first, going low with his shoulder, catching Aiden in the gut. He knocked him back a few feet, narrowly missing the tiled wall near the door. He took a swung at Aiden’s nuts, but felt his fist blocked and twisted hard. Bellowing, he tried to connect with his left. This was blocked, too. A leg sweep brought him to his knees, screaming.

Xander hung back, but Oliver jumped in, taking another swing at Aiden. He couldn’t block Oliver and contain Moe, though he did duck. Oliver’s fist still smacked the side of his head, making his ears ring. Another fist came at his face, and someone punched him in the stomach. By this time, he didn’t know if all three were on him, or just two. Lost in the pounding fists, he felt himself falter. Just as he thought he was going down, someone yanked Moe away.

A cracking blow landed, followed by a smack against tile and a loud, ululating groan. Closer to him, he saw Oliver tugged from behind. Blood spattered him as a fist, not his, connected with the boy’s nose. Xander tried to run away, but Aiden tripped him. He fell, hitting his head on the sink. Slithering to the floor, he bled from a cut to the chin.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 57

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

The spot grew bigger, and stage lights came up showing the others behind him. Together, they sang Reaching for the Moon by Irving Berlin. Before he finished the short, emotional song, he was in tears. He heard sniffs and sniffles around him. When he finished, he dropped his head.

“I loved you,” he whispered, not expecting the microphone to pick it up.

Leaving the stage to thunderous applause, he handed off the microphone and went to his dressing room. Without stopping to change, he grabbed his bag and clothing, marching out the stage door. He’d forgotten all about Aaron, only concerned with getting outside as soon as possible. No one tried to stop him. They all knew what had happened, but had no idea Eoin felt so strongly about the young woman who was killed. Blindly rushing to the parking lot, he didn’t pay attention to his surroundings until he heard a scuff and shuffle to the rear.

“Perty lady like you ought not to be out on her own,” a rough voice, at his heels, said.

Eoin swung around to see a grubby individual in a shabby Army jacket and tattered jeans. He was slight of build, but looked fast and held a knife as if he knew how to use it. Tossing his bundle of clothing out of the way, Eoin wished for a weapon. He didn’t even have an umbrella like Deirdre had. Casting a quick look over his shoulder, he noted no one else was creeping up on him. The knife wielder took that moment to rush him. Having expected that, Eoin blocked with his leather messenger bag. Knocking his attacker back a step, he lowered his stance, taking a more defensive position. The position wasn’t easy in a tight dress and six inch heels, but he managed.

The assailant rushed him again. This time, Eoin used the bag as a weapon, slapping the knife away with the flat of it. He drove the edge into the man’s throat and stomped on his foot with the six inch stiletto. Screaming, the other man leaned over, grabbing at his foot. Eoin brought his knee to the man’s jaw and smacked him on the back of the head with his bag. Aaron raced out the back of the club, Eoin yelled at him. It wasn’t words, so much as a growl of anger and desperation.

Aaron ran to his side and put his foot on the back of the assailant’s neck, keeping him on the ground, while he called for back up. “You okay, Eoin?”

“Yeah. Yeah.” He gasped to catch his breath, clutching Aaron’s arm.

“You go wait inside. I’ve got this.”

“I don’t think I can walk yet.”

“Okay.”

The criminal wiggled and writhed, but Aaron’s booted foot kept him down. He hadn’t thought to search the other man, not realizing he was armed. Eoin saw the knife blade arc to stab Aaron in the leg. Roaring like a rabid lion, he kicked the knife away and stepped on the man’s hand. His heel sank into sinew and flesh.

The man screamed, calling for help, and that’s when the police arrived. It took some fast talk, on Eoin’s part, to keep from being arrested for assault. With Aaron’s statement, and copies of the security video, they let him go and carted the other guy off for medical attention.

“You sure you’re okay, Eoin?” Aaron said, after the cops left.

“Yeah. Maybe. I don’t know. I thought my life was finally falling into place. The love of my life came back to me, we were going to start a life together.” His face collapsed. Drawing a shuddering breath, he clung to Aaron’s arm. “She’s dead. And I should…I should have stopped her. Found her the money.”

“I’m going to take you home,” Aaron said. “They can manage without me at Deidre’s house. I’ll tell the guy at the door. You’ll be okay?”

“Yeah.” He bent over to gather his scattered belongings, trying not to cry.

Aaron came back, Stacy, the hostess, in his wake. She often acted as house manager, as she was tonight. “You okay, sugar?” She squatted by him, taking his face in her hands.

“Yeah…. No….”

Stacy gave him a soft kiss on the cheek. “It’s gonna be okay, sweetie. You ever need a shoulder, you call me, okay? I lost my fiance a year ago, in Iraq. Friends help.”

“Thanks. Right now, I wanna go home and drink myself into oblivion.”

Stacy gave him a hug and helped him gather his things. Once he was settled in the car, Aaron drove him home. Taking Eoin’s keys, he went in and checked to make sure no one was skulking inside. Satisfied it was clear, he let Eoin go in.

“Drinking it away doesn’t work,” he warned. “Trust me. You just wake up, hungover, with the same problem. Better to just try for a good night’s sleep. You call me if you ever need to talk. You’ve got friends, Eoin. You don’t have to do this alone.”

“Thanks, man. I appreciate it.” They exchanged a brief hug.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 56

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

“I’m proud of you for nursing,” Deirdre said. “I’m glad young mothers are coming back to the right way.”

“You know my doctor tried to talk me out of breast feeding?” Nadeya said. “As soon as he stopped screaming, I asked for my records and found another doctor.”

“Another testicular torsion?”

“Na, titty twist. Very effective.” She laughed, cutting her eyes at Deirdre, who laughed loudly.

“I kicked my OB in the balls when I had Burl. He and I didn’t see eye to eye on several things. Long story short, he didn’t tell me I had a few hoops to jump through for an epidural. Then he goes to sew me up without any numbing agent. It was reflex POW!”

“She had awesome aim,” Fred said, carrying in a tray full of mugs and coffee things. “His wasn’t a torsion, but he was limping when he left. Served him right, he was a complete terror the entire time.”

“We had to go to him because of the insurance,” Deirdre said. “But I complained so about him, they dropped him and got a really lovely woman. She delivered Corin.”

“I was lucky with my OB, she’s got midwifes with her, and one of them delivered Ray.”

“More family?”

“The doctor, not the midwifes. One of them a very handsome guy.” She raised an eyebrow.

“I guess I went into the wrong field,” Fred said, pouring them each a cup of coffee.

The other men trailed in with dessert and plates. They enjoyed their treat in the living room.

“Bedtime,” Fred announced, pointing to his boys. “I’m driving you in the morning, so move it, Rawhide.” He made a whip-crack sound.

“I’ll take them,” Aaron said.

“No need….”

“I’d rather. You and Dee stay here with Jasper and Nadeya, and I’ve got the boys.”

“I’ll go,” Nadeya said. “I have to pick up Ray-Ray. I can pump some, but I need my baby fix by then.”

“Okay, it’s settled. Nay takes the boys, Jasper and I will stay here.”

“You’re not worried about Nadeya by herself?” Fred asked.

Jasper chuckled, kissing his wife. “My wife is nine times more lethal than anything those jokers can send. No.”

Eoin headed to Daytona, riding to the club with Aaron. He had everything he needed in his satchel, and he’d already done the prep work at Deirdre’s house. Walking in, he was greeted like a long, lost prodigal son. Assuring everyone he was fine, he settled in his dressing room and put on his foundation garments. These nicely padded his chest and rounded his hips and buttocks so he looked more feminine. Once this was accomplished, he dressed and started his makeup and hair.

The stage manager came by a few minutes after he’d finished, greeting him and going over special guests, events and so forth, that he was to mention during his spiel. Eoin always ad libbed his introductions, preferring to be spontaneous and in the moment. He felt a little flustered and off his game, but once the house lights went down and he took his spot for the opening number, the butterflies stopped fluttering. He was in his element, ready to take possession of the stage. The music came up and his voice formed the first words of Feeling Good by Nina Simone, echoing in the dark. As the music built, the lights came up, to find him seated on a stool, in a glittering black sheath dress and fishnet stockings. His own black hair had been teased and glittered, standing up like Tina Turner’s.

As he went through the evening, he couldn’t stop himself thinking about their situation. He wasn’t afraid for himself, but he was worried about Deirdre’s family. He didn’t let the preoccupation interfere with his performance. If anything, he did better than he had in a long time. They had finished the grand finale, and the cheering audience begged for one more song. Eoin whispered to the others, and the band, what he wanted to do.

“That’s gonna bring everyone down, man,” Miss Twiggy, an anorexic looking performer, said.

“This is important to me. Please just do it. I can’t explain now.”

“Fine. But my objections….”

“Are noted.” Signaling the band, he walked alone onto the stage.

Slow, soulful music began. A soft spot came up on Eoin’s torso. Standing in the half dark, he spoke quietly into the microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen, I lost a very dear friend, the love of my life, a few days ago. She was murdered.” A gasp escaped the audience. “Normally, I would end the show on a high, happy note, but if you’ll bear with me, I would like to dedicate this song to Wendy.” Soft applause followed.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 55 by Dellani Oakes

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

Deirdre and Fred both shuddered. “Thanks for the compliment—I think. Only one woman gets in my pants, but better left unsaid.” He kissed his wife’s hand. “What about Wendy?” he asked gently. “When will her body be released?”

“Soon,” Vanessa said. “Do you still want to claim it?”

“Yes,” Deirdre said.

“We’ll all pitch in, give her a lovely send-off,” Teague said. “And I’ll hook you up with the best in the business, at a discount.”

“Another relative?”

“Yeah. We take care of friends and family. Y’all are both now. You’ve been officially adopted by the McTeague and McMurtry clans.”

Eoin brightened. “From County Donegal, to the north?”

“The very one,” Teague grinned. “Don’t tell me.”

“I’ve got a McTeague or two in my family tree.”

“No kidding? But none here in the US?”

“Not a one. Why?”

“Because, I’ve got some cousins who would love to meet you.”

“They’re gorgeous,” Jasper added. “You will not be disappointed.”

“How would they feel about dating a drag queen?” Eoin asked.

“Probably wouldn’t have a problem with it,” Aaron said. “They’re pretty hard to shock, too.”

The extra company left soon after, though Aaron stuck around. He was under orders to stay close for the next couple of days. No one minded. They had a large house and everyone enjoyed Aaron’s company.

Since Fred was home, Eoin decided to go to work. Friday night was the busiest of the week, and he not only head lined, he hosted. He was going to drive himself, but Aaron insisted upon taking him.

“I don’t want you to leave the family,” Eoin said as he shaved.

Aaron stood in the doorway, talking. “They’ll be covered. Jasper and Nadeya are coming over. They’re leaving Baby Ray with Teague’s wife. They’ll be here any minute, and they’re bringing dinner, so you can’t use that as an excuse. You’re getting an escort whether you want it or not.”

“I’ll be fine.”

“Maybe, if you were in fighting trim. But they beat the shit out of you once, what makes you think they won’t do it again? And you’re still bruised. I’m going with you, that’s final.”

Bridling somewhat at the ultimatum, Eoin sighed. “Fine. You can come in and watch, if you like.”

“Thank you. I intended to. Glad we understand one another.” He patted Eoin on the shoulder and went to change.

True to their word, Nadeya and Jasper arrived with a huge meal, sent by Teague’s uncle.

“I’m good with guns, I don’t cook,” Nadeya said as she set things out. “You need a compound infiltrated, I’m your girl. Sniper in the church tower, I got ya covered. Whipping up an amazing meal for ten people, not my game.”

Deirdre laughed. “I love cooking for crowds, but not when I’m limping. I can shoot, and I mostly hit what I aim at, but I’m not the infiltrating sniper type. I think it’s cool that you are.”

“I think it’s cool that having a house full of drop-ins, doesn’t bother you.”

“You’re bringing food, I don’t care at all.” She paused, trying to find words to voice her fears. “You think something might happen tonight. To us, or to Eoin.”

“Not all of them stayed in jail. They’re rich and connected, and managed to pull the right strings. Word has filtered down, somehow, that there are people taking a stand, speaking up. We’ve got friends watching everyone, so please don’t worry.”

“Just saved the big guns for our besties,” Jasper said, snagging a carrot off the relish platter.

Nadeya whisked it away with one hand, twisting his fingers with the other. “Behave.”

“Ow….honey, ow. It’s just a carrot,” Jasper said, wincing when she let go.

“You need to teach me that,” Deirdre said. “It would come in handy at Thanksgiving.”

“Happy to.” She set the tray down and spent the next few minutes showing the move to Deirdre. “Works like a charm. You can do it with one or two hands—two is easier. Add a little more pressure and twist to it, you can break fingers like kindling.”

“Good to know. I hope I won’t have to use it.”

“Me too.”

The meal was finally ready, and they all sat down to eat the best barbecue they’d ever had in their lives. There was chicken, ribs and pulled pork. All the sides they could imagine, including a huge mixed salad. There was plenty left over for another meal, after they had all eaten. The men cleaned up while Nadeya and Deirdre settled in the living room.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 54 by Dellani Oakes

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

Scott took the phone and hung up. “I have to cuff you, but I’ll put them in front. Don’t make me regret that decision.”

“No, sir. Thank you.”

Scott tilted the camera so he was looking into it upside down. “We cool now, Aiden? Don’t answer, I can’t hear you.” He and Felix walked to a cruiser, and the boy was put in the back. Scott stood beside it, directing activities.

The last of the ring leaders were rounded up. Felix was the only student caught in the sting, but he was treated well and kept separate from the adults. He sat with Scott, telling him everything he knew.

“Is it over now?” Deidre asked as things wound down.

“Not entirely,” Vanessa explained. “These are some powerful people, who will pull strings and do their best to blame others. I expect Jim Butcher to be taking the brunt of this, not that I pity him. He probably deserves the worst he gets. But many of the guilty will do their best to wriggle free. Fortunately, the judges that will handle these cases, are kin, in one way or another, to Teague’s family. They’re the most honest people I know.”

“If they aren’t kin, they’re friends,” Teague added. “And many of the lawyers around and about. Most of the others won’t touch a scandal like this. It’s career suicide. They’ll have to pay lawyers from out of state.”

“Really?” Deirdre’s eyes got huge. “Your family influence is that great?”

“Yeah. Volusia County is where many of us call home, but we’re related to people all over the state. These folks don’t know the strings I can pull with a single phone call.”

“I’m in the presence of royalty,” Deirdre said with a smirk. “My family’s been around quite a while, but we came with the English.”

“We’re kin to the Spanish, Minorcans and Natives,” Teague said, looking proud.

There was a loud knock at the door. Suddenly alert, everyone waited while Teague went to the door and looked out. Laughing, he opened the door. Scott swaggered in, grinning and carrying a donut box.

“I bring donuts and coffee.”

“I don’t see coffee,” Teague said, blocking his way.

“That’s because my Boss is bringing it.”

A lovely woman with strawberry blonde hair stood behind him. Dressed in a pretty black dress, covered with butterflies, she walked in with a Box o’ Joe and a bag of sugar and creamer.

“This is my boss, Lieutenant Scott,” Vanessa said. “And the lovely lady with him is his wife, Cadence.” She made introductions all around.

Their midday victory party was interrupted by the front door banging open and shut. All eyes turned to the door.

“Dee!”

“That’s my husband,” Deirdre gasped. “In the kitchen,” she called, trying to get up.

Eoin helped her stand to greet her husband. Fred rushed to her, ignoring everyone else. Sweeping her into his arms, he hugged and kissed her.

“Oh, my love. Are you all right? You’re wearing a boot? What happened? And who are all these people? What the hell have I missed? What have you made your mother do?” He focused at last on his sons.

“It’s a long story, Dad,” Corin said. “Sit down, have some refreshments, and we’ll tell you.”

Their father took his seat and waited. Cadence served him coffee, Scott gave him some donuts. “Well?”

“It all started with the vultures,” Corin began.

“Oh, don’t,” Burl said. “Or we’ll be here all day.”

“I’ve got all day,” Fred replied. “But just one of you tell me, or I’ll go out of my f**king mind. After the week I’ve had, the level of violence would escalate, and we’ve got pregnant ladies present.”

“Spooky how this family can do that,” Vanessa said.

Aiden took the narrative, with help from Eoin and Deirdre. Fred focused on one after the other, too shocked to eat and drink.

“And all this shit was going on under our noses? What the ever loving f**k? I’m glad I didn’t join that stupid Private Golf Club. They were all after me to do it, Bigby and Mona Colfer. Why would she be so hell bent on it?”

“Mom’s hot,” Corin said with a wink. “And you’re buff. Maybe Mona wanted in your pants?”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 53 by Dellani Oakes

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

A brown haired Latina stood there looking expectant. Teague gave her a kiss, then kissed his son’s head. “My wife and son, whose name I can remember. Tobias Rambo McTeague. Vivica, my beautiful spouse, this is Deirdre. Her boys Aiden, Burl and Corin and their friend, Eoin.”

“Lovely to meet you. Jas, you’ll need to switch out the car seat.”

“I’m on it,” he said, trotting outside.

“Tell me what’s going on,” Deirdre said. “I love visitors, but I wasn’t expecting anyone.”

“Vanessa is coming up the driveway,” Aaron said after looking at his phone. “And she will explain.” He opened the door for his boss. She was carrying a box of croissants and donuts.

“Hi. Sorry for the landslide intrusion. They beat me here, as usual. They’re fast, or I’m slow. I assume you’ve been introduced? Good. Okay.” She set down the box. “Teague’s family has been around since God created the Earth. He’s kin to the best lawyers and judges in the state. They may not be rich….”

“Some of them are,” Teague interjected.

“Well, yes, but mostly they’re just folks. But very powerful, and connected, folks. We set the wheels in motion. The people responsible for this racket are being subsequently hunted down and arrested. Armed with Fonda and Inez’ reports, along with Eoin’s, and the picture evidence we got from Bullock’s computer, we’ve got enough to indict a large number of people today.”

“And you’re not there?” Teague said. “What’s wrong with you. This is a career maker!”

“Some things are more important than my career. Family.”

The boys were allowed to stay home. Deirdre didn’t want them in school where she couldn’t keep a watchful eye over them. They all sat down to eat, talking and getting to know one another. Aaron, Jasper and Vanessa all got a text at the same time. Go Time, from Scott.

Aaron had his computer open. It beeped and the screen filled with a split screen of six cameras. Each was obviously on a person, because they shook slightly as the person moved. There was scattered chatter, as the person with the camera, and others, approached a beautiful home. Someone knocked and rang the bell.

“Daytona PD,” the camera wearer said. He rang and knocked again.

A flustered, fat man opened the door in his silky black bathrobe.

“Richard Bigby, you’re under arrest for pandering, statutory rape….” The list went on.

Bigby looked stunned. Dressed only in his black robe, briefs and socks, he was taken to the car.

“One down,” Vanessa said with glee.

The other screens showed similar images of other people, men and women, being arrested and led to waiting cars. At one home, someone ran out the back, trying to pull up his pants. The camera wearer chased him down. The young man stopped, surrendering.

“I know him,” Aiden said. “He’s on golf team with me. Be gentle with that one. Can you tell them? He’s a good kid.”

Vanessa got on her phone and called. The man wearing the camera answered. The boy was cuffed, looking cowed and ready to cry.

“Yeah, Nessa.” It was Scott’s voice.

“Aiden says that boy is on golf team with him. Name?” She asked Aiden.

“Felix Newcomb. He’s a good kid, sixteen, tends to slice. He’s another foster kid.”

She relayed the information to Scott.

“Hey, kid. Is your name Felix?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You here under duress?”

“I don’t know what that means!” the boy sobbed. “I just wanna go home!”

“Duress means you were forced to be here. Did someone force you to be here?”

“Can I talk to him?” Aiden asked Vanessa.

“Sure. Scott, I’m putting Aiden on. Give the phone to the kid.”

Scott put the phone up the Felix’s ear.

“Lix, it’s Aiden. Listen, that cop is a good guy. He’s just trying to get the truth. Tell him everything you know, and he’ll take care for you. I’ll come see you as soon as they let me, okay?”

“Aiden? What’s going on, man?”

“Lieutenant Scott will explain. But it’s gonna be okay, dude. Just cooperate.”

“You’re sure?”

“Positive. When have I ever lied to you?”

“You lied about the ball buffer,” Felix said, taking a ragged breath.

“That’s hazing. Dumb ass joke. But when it mattered?”

“Never. You always tell the truth.”

“I do. Especially now.”

“Okay. Okay. Thanks, Aiden.”

“I got your back, kid.”

“Thanks.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

Sidetracked by Dellani Oakes Part 52 by Dellani Oakes

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

“You don’t think Aiden is what?” her eldest son said from the hallway behind her. He rubbed his eyes, flinching away from the light. Dimming it by the nearby switch, he walked into the room. “What?”

“Hiya, Aiden,” Vanessa’s voice came from the phone. “The parties with the Private Golf Club. Have you been invited to go?”

“Yes. But I never went. I mean, I like golf, but I’ve already got scholarships and money. I don’t need theirs. I figured to save it for kids who really want it. They’ve tried to recruit me. Wait a second, is that—is that how? Oh, Jesus!” He sat on the floor, face in his hands. “No wonder Fonda’s parents wouldn’t do anything! Her dad is nearly as big a pervert as Wendy’s. And Inez’ folks are both stupid, and mean.”

“How do you know this?” his mother asked.

“The girls talked to me, especially once I got the truth from Wendy. They knew that talking to me was safe. I wanted to go to the police, but what could I do? No one would believe me. Those people are the cream of society.”

“I’m listening,” Vanessa said.

“So am I,” Aaron added. “We may not be the cream, but we’re gonna whip ’em.”

Vanessa chuckled. “I just imagined going after Dickie with a wire whisk.”

Aaron laughed. “Thanks for that image, Ness. If I ever need a cock block.”

“Doing my civic duty. We may not be strong enough to take these folks on, but I know some people who are bigger and badder than Dickie Bigby will ever be. I have to make some phone calls. Later.”

“Who does she mean?” Deirdre asked as Aaron pocketed his phone.

“Vanessa has friends in low places.” He wouldn’t say any more.

It was time for the boys to go to school. Aaron was going to drive them. Eoin was staying with Deirdre, and there was another police officer due any second. There was a tap a the door and they were all immediately alert. Aaron pointed to the office and Deirdre, with the help of her boys, went in. They stayed with her.

Aaron, weapon drawn, checked the peephole, frowning. The person on the porch wasn’t the one he was expecting. Turned away from the door, he faced the driveway, apparently waiting. He turned to tap the door again, and Aaron relaxed. Opening the door, he greeted the man.

“Teague. Dude, I didn’t know you were coming.”

“Vanessa hasn’t called?”

Aaron’s phone rang. “Vanessa,” he said with a grin. “He’s here,” he said when he answered.

“He made better time than I thought. Is Jasper there?”

“Not yet. Being slow,” Teague said when Aaron put the phone on speaker. “Who else do we expect?”

“I’m not sure. I called you and Jasper. He said he’d activate the Irregulars. I have no idea who’s coming.”

A black muscle car pulled up behind Teague’s truck. Jasper and a sultry black haired woman got out. She had a baby strapped to her chest, and a diaper bag over her shoulder. Aaron invited them all in.

Eoin bustled around the kitchen. Teague joined him, working in harmony. He and the woman were introduced, Jasper’s wife, Nadeya.

“Viv’s coming by in a few to get Pancho Villa,” Teague pointed to Nadeya’s son.

“Do not call my son that name,” she said. “Or I’ll be forced to shoot you.”

“I can’t remember his name and it always makes me think of Pancho Villa.”

“His name is Raymund, and you know it. Say his name.” She grabbed Teague’s shirt, pulling some chest hairs in the process.

“Baby Ray. Just f**king with ya, Nay.”

“Never tease a new mother about her baby,” Deirdre said as she took a seat at the table. “Especially one who can kill you. How old is your son?” she asked Nadeya.

“Six weeks today.”

“Nursing?”

“Yep. Getting fat and sassy,” Jasper said proudly. “Looks just like me, huh? Cute little f**k.”

Nadeya punched her husband. “I told you not to call him that, especially in public.”

“One thing you’ll discover about this bunch,” Jasper gestured to himself, Aaron and Teague. “We tease, and don’t know when to stop.”

There was a special tap at the door, three short, two long.

“Vivica,” Teague said. “My wife. She’s got the little nipper with her.” He checked the peephole and opened the door.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes