ABC Challenge Letter W: When Tis Done by Dellani Oakes

ABC ChallengeWhen Tis Done is book 3 in my modern fantasy series. It’s about a group of teens, and their parents, who fight against various evil beings. This time, their adversaries are the Fēng family; the father, son Jian and his twin sister Lien. Very powerful creatures, they come against the group as they are gathered at a friend’s house.

They came from the swamp, wave after wave of dark spirits, slicing through the air with a singular hiss that set Brian’s nerves on edge, The hair on the back of his neck sprang to attention. Where were the others? Surely not all taken down with darts? Why hadn’t the wards stopped them? The spirits circled him, snatching at his hair, scratching his face, ears, any exposed skin. With a flick of his hand, he conjured a wind that scattered them like leaves. A thin, airy scree of distress accompanied them. The wind whirled, dragging them into the earth. The sand covered them, obliterating them as if they had never been.

Scurrying around the side of the house, the shadow of a fox and crow charged Brian. He realized now why they weren’t affected by the wards, they weren’t real, merely shades. They could still hurt him, causing serious physical damage, but at least he knew. A blast of hot air drove these away, slowing him down. As he raced through them, they reached for him, snapping and clawing. Brian pushed on, looking for his father and the others. He heard the sound of battle at the front of the house. His friends were in a cluster, fighting more of the wraithlike shadow creatures and taking the worst of it.

“Air!” he bellowed. “Blast them with air! Smother them with earth!”

Rushing to them, he laid waste, expelling the shadows with a blast of air, hammering them to the ground.

“Where’s my dad? Mom’s hurt,” he asked Sweet.

The young man pointed to the woods. “He and Heath ran that way. I don’t know why.”

“Come with,” he commanded. “Andre, get the women inside. Jordan needs you.”

“We can fight….” Ginnifer stated angrily.

“And Jordan needs you more. Go! Some of you help Claude. Healers. Fast.”

Andre did as he was told without question. Caleb and Summer followed Sweet and Brian.

“He’s my brother. I’m coming,” she stated, chin firm.

“Do you know what you’re doing?”

“Os has been training me.”

“Good.”

Brian ducked into the woods, following his father’s path. It might not be obvious to others, but he could see the scent of his father’s passing. Heath and Miles were chasing something.

“This way,” he pointed to the right.

The others followed without question. They heard sounds of battle a few yards ahead in a small clearing. Brian recognized it as the spot where they’d had their showdown with Mr. D and knew it wasn’t a coincidence. It had been chosen with the sole purpose of sapping his confidence. It hadn’t worked, quite the opposite feeling surged through him, especially when he saw his father figthing Mr. Fēng. Wondering how the man had gotten free, he dashed forward, sending a wave of dirt at the man’s legs.

Fēng toppled, trying to right himself. Restraints made of dirt wound up his legs. Jian leaped from the trees, screeching like a bird of prey. He slashed at Brian with huge claws where his hands should be. The talons sliced Brian’s clothing, stinging his skin. He faltered, knowing it was the same poison that had been used on Chase. Fighting it off, he used water from the air to wash his body, cleansing the pores, sealing them with a layer of moisture.

Balling his fist, Brian called forth earth and slammed it into Jian, knocking him down. Earthen fists pummled the downed teenager, pushing him deeply into the ground. It opened, closing over the boy.

With a roar, Fēng jumped at Brian, using earth against him. As the first clod rose, flying at him, Brian faced the onslaught, raising his hands like a shield. The clumps of earth fell to dust. Rocks shattered, their pieces racing back at Fēng, stinging him like dozens of needles. With a roar, he raised a boulder, slinging it at Brian.

With a twitch of his head, Brian halted the huge stone. It dropped to the ground. Fēng lifted it again, finding it heavier. It took precious seconds to realize that the ground held it, pulling it back down. Soon, it too was buried like his son. Suddenly, the grass exploded upward and Jian came out of the ground. Flames shot from his hands, whirling at Brian like knives of fire.

Sweet threw water on him and his flaming knives, using the wave to flatten him. Surprised, Brian grinned. Fēng took another run at him and met his own wall of water. Brian simply took Sweet’s and diverted it. Gasping and sodden, he stood his ground. Jian regrouped, but Caleb and Sweet lashed him with bands of fire and air, slowly dragging him to the ground. Earth rose once more, called by Brian. This time, he solidified it by baking it with fire.

Fēng stood there, panting and shivering. Sweet swirled water around him, pulling it into snug tendrils, then froze it. With the two of them subdued, the four youths took a moment to catch their breath. It took only a couple seconds for Brian to realize that they weren’t fighting on purpose. Had they wanted to, both were strong enough to escape.

“Jordan!” he gasped, turning quickly.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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ABC Challenge Letter V: Valkyrie from Wall of Time by Dellani Oakes

ABC Challenge

The following is from The Wall of Time, which is a prequel to my sci-fi Lone Wolf Series. Although these two have met before, I like this meeting between Wil and Valkyrie. It gives us a feel for Wil’s character prior to meeting Matilda.

Once in the bar, Wil sidled up to the counter, ordered his drink and had a look around at the available women. There weren’t many. It was either too late, or too early, for a good selection and Wil was picky. Being a man who had always been able to selective, he chose carefully. He was strong and quick, but that was no reason why he should put himself in danger by taking the wrong woman to bed. He’d found out, with nearly fatal consequences, how foolish that was.

He had almost made up his mind to go try his luck with a brunette in the corner, when a tall, leggy blonde entered. She was beautiful in a dangerous, lethal way. She carried herself like a well seasoned warrior, though she didn’t appear to be any older than he himself. Her golden hair was secured by what looked like black and silver chopsticks, but his cyber eye revealed they were really sheathed stilettos.

A feral, lupine grimace twitched his full lips. It was what passed as a smile for a man known as the Lone Wolf. Most people were terrified when he smiled like that. The woman, who had just turned his way, caught his eye and gave an equally chilling smile of her own.

She swaggered over the where he stood. Dressed in bright red leather pants and bustier, she sported a long, black leather duster and high, metal heeled, cowboy boots. A powerful handgun rested on her left hip. A whip graced the other.

Wil’s smile grew broader when she came up to him, standing less than three inches away, her breasts brushing his chest, her hips a whisper from his. Reaching out one leather clad hand, she grabbed his crotch in a very friendly fashion. His right hand held his drink, but his left glided down her arm in a familiar caress, his cyber eye checking her hands and feet for weapons. He found plenty, smiling.

“Hello, Val, how are you?”

“I’m better now, Wil. Good to see you.” Her hand stayed on his crotch, rubbing absently.

“What brings you to these parts, Val? I thought you were working Vandaran space.”

She shrugged one shoulder casually. “Vandarans are so boring. A bunch of overzealous, religious mooses. Meese?” She rolled her eyes, not caring if she got the right word or not.

“I think plural and singular are the same, moose.”

“Oh, who gives a shit, Wil? Only you would even know something like that.” She took a sip of his drink, licking her lips seductively.

“Which is part of my charm, Val.” He nibbled her neck, his hand moving to her hip in a very proprietary way.

“This is your charm, baby.” She grabbed and kneaded at his pants. “Right here.”

“Is that an invitation, Valkyrie?”

“A command performance, Wilhelm. Where can we go?”

“I have a ship. Five blocks to the spaceport.”

“Too far,” she bit his lower lip, pulling it with her teeth. She put her right foot on the rail below the bar, leaning hard against him. “Right here, right now.”

“Val, you may be an exhibitionist, but I don’t do that.”

“Shy, lover?”

He chuckled softly. “Paranoid. I don’t want to be doing something fun and get shot in the back. Tends to spoil the romance.”

“Oh, true.” She pouted slightly.

“I’d hate to rob a nice girl like yourself of her orgasms.”

“Always so considerate. Compromise. A room at the mercenary hostel? That’s where I’m staying. It’s two blocks away.”

“Lead the way, sugar. I’m all yours.” He finished his drink, plunking the glass on the bar.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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ABC Challenge Letter U: Undercover Lover by Dellani Oakes

ABC Challenge

Saige Ingalls has just broken up with her long time boyfriend, Ben. Perpetually unemployed, and lacking in confidence, he couldn’t handle the fact that Saige works for a handsome, well to to architect, Brodie. Having been thrown out of their apartment, Saige has gone home to her mother’s house on the lake. In a fit of temper, she decides to go for a drive, to get away from Ben, her mother, and her bad mood. Unsure at first, she finally decides to go visit her elderly neighbor.

For a change of scene, she turned right to go around the lake instead of the usual left. It was slightly longer, but not enough to matter and she wanted the extra drive time to make up her mind where she was going to go. She couldn’t really go see Brodie or Stan. She’d relied on them enough for awhile. Besides, she knew if she and Stan were alone they would break all their promises to be friends. With a spark of inspiration, she decided to go visit Mrs. Cross.

Now that her mind was made up, she drove faster and with a purpose. She arrived at Mrs. Cross’ apartment a little after seven. Knocking loudly on the downstairs door, she got no response. She was about to leave a note and was digging in her purse for pen and paper, when Romy, her grandson, arrived. All smiles, he invited Saige in. He was dressed in a long sleeved, red and white striped shirt and black shorts, carrying a pair of cleats in one hand as he juggled his keys.

“Gran’s at church.” He tossed his keys on the counter. “The lads and me were playing rugby. I imagine I’m a bit ripe. Got a few moments? I’ll take a quick one so I don’t offend your olfactory system.”

“Sure, I don’t have any plans. We’ll chat when you don’t smell like sweaty balls.” She waved him off.

Laughing loudly, he took off his shirt and socks, tossing them in the laundry as he passed. Saige’s eyes lingered on him until he was out of sight. Once he got in the bathroom, shorts and boxers landed in the hall.

“Be out in a tick,” he called, slamming the door.

Saige amused herself looking at the photos on the wall. There were several with Romy and his brothers clustered around their father and grandfather in one happy, rowdy group. They looked so much alike, the boys and their elders. Romy had the same grin as his grandfather and his father’s ears and eyes. As a child, his features were almost too big for his face, giving him the look of a caricature. Once he hit his teen years, he had grown proportionally and now his prominent ears and long nose complimented him nicely.

He stood at the end of the hall in clean shorts, tossing his towel and clothing into the washer, still shirtless. He had as magnificent a physique as Brodie. Leaner of build, he was muscular and delineated like a martial artist rather than a body builder. He sported several scars on his back and chest, some slashes and others that looked decidedly like bullet holes.

“Fancy a cup of tea or something?”

“I’d love some coffee. I missed lunch and dinner. It’s been a day.” She gave him a detailed description of the day she’d had.

“So, you’ve become wildly popular all of a sudden, eh?”

Did she catch a note of jealousy? Impossible. She and Romy were just friends—sure, like Brodie and Stan. Who also wanted more than friendship from her.

“Apparently. Who knew? It’s amazing what a girl misses when she thinks she’s in love.”

Thinks, is it? I thought you loved him madly.”

“I thought I did. Now I’m not so sure. I don’t really want to talk about Ben. How are you, Romy? Staying out of trouble?”

He winked, sitting beside her with two cups of coffee. Hers was fixed just the way she liked it. She wondered how he knew that much about her.

“I don’t particularly want to talk at all, but I suspect you do. So, what shall we talk about, Saige? Shall we make small talk for a wee bit before I admit to you I, too, have carried a torch lo these many years?”

Romy’s smile was tinged with tenderness. He had incredibly expressive, dark chocolate eyes. They revealed a lot that she’d never seen before. Either he was good at hiding his feelings, or she was blind. Perhaps a smattering of both? She set her coffee down, suddenly moved to tears. Romy put his arms around her, holding her close to his bare chest. Saige could hear his heart pounding with a comforting beat.

“Romy, I’m so confused! I thought I knew what my life was like, and nothing’s the same. It went upside down and cockeyed.”

“Shh, love, don’t cry. I’m here. It’s all right.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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ABC Challenge Letter T: Trifecta by Dellani Oakes

ABC ChallengeI like romantic suspense novels, because I can indulge in the romance, but also have a lot of action outside the bedroom. Russell Cavanaugh is a police detective, who was wounded during an altercation with a suspect. He’s been in a cast for weeks, and is now being set loose. Early on, he found himself highly attracted to the cast nurse, Althea Lang. For more than one reason, he’s glad that he’s being set free of his cast, and will no longer be under her care.

At the front door, Lloyd stopped and helped Russ out. Russell swung in on his crutches, waiting in the reception area for his name to be called. Lloyd joined him a few minutes later, smelling like a cigarette. They sat together, talking shop, while they waited. The cast clinic was running late and Russ was starting to get restless when his name was finally called. Lloyd went out for another cigarette, telling him to text when he was done. Pleased to finally be getting his cast off, Russ followed the nurse to her cubbyhole.

“Hop up,” she said with a grin. “You wore shorts, good boy. You know the drill, Detective Cavanaugh.”

“I sure do, Nurse Lang.”

He climbed up on the examination table, with her help, and propped his leg for her, hiking up his shorts so he top of the cast was exposed. While he did that, she got the saw and other equipment she would need to remove the cast. Russ watched her move around, admiring her taut glutes and firm thighs.

“Stop staring at my ass,” Althea Lang complained without looking at him.

“Why do you always know? You can’t see me. I don’t make a sound.”

“It’s the lack of noise that’s the key,” she stated as she approached with the saw. “Considering where this saw is going, do you really want to perpetuate this conversation?” She revved the saw with a grin.

“I’m sorry. Like always. But you have a very—picturesque physique, Nurse Lang.”

“How very carefully worded, Detective Cavanaugh.” She put on the goggles and face mask before bending over to her work.

Russ hated that she had to get so close to his groin, because it refused to behave when the attractive nurse bent over him. Her black hair was sleek and cut in sort of a bob. Her eyes were vivid blue-green and sparkled when she talked. Even in the goggles and mask, she was beautiful. His body refused to cooperate with him, but to her credit, she ignored the effect she had on him. Even in loose fitting shorts, it was obvious. He wondered if all men reacted that way, or if he was the only one who got off on flying plaster dust and the vibration of the saw. One side was cut through, so she leaned over to get the other side. Once it was done, she took off the protective gear and put on a pair of gloves.

“This is going to be nasty,” she warned him. “All that accumulated dead skin.”

“I can stand it if you can.”

“I’m used to it. Here we go! You ready?”

“So ready.”

She gripped the cast and lifted. Russ gagged a little when he looked at his leg. It was pale and blotchy, the hair pasted to it by sweat, dry skin and the pressure of the cast. The bullet wound looked pink and ugly in the artificial light of the lamp. The smell was somewhat appalling and made him gag. Usually one with a stronger stomach, he put his hand over his nose and breathed through his mouth.

Althea sprayed a couple puffs of industrial air freshener and got a washcloth to wipe away the worst of the mess. Bathed with Betadine soap, he was slightly yellow, but felt remarkably better. The disgusting cast went into an super sized bin that was labeled Bio-hazardous Waste. Considering how it smelled, he felt that was appropriate.

“Doc will be in shortly. Hal’s out of town, so you’ll be seeing Dr. Pete.”

“No worries. Pete and I are pals.” He’d seen Dr. Peter Klauch several times during his recovery. He’d assisted in the surgery that put Russ back together.

A tech banged through the door with a portable X-Ray machine. “Picture time!”

“I wish we didn’t have to do that every time. I’m a little concerned I’m going to produce deformed sperm or something.”

The tech merely laughed and set up the X-Ray.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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ABC Challenge Letter S: Spy on Love by Dellani Oakes

ABC ChallengeBrick McMillan has flown down from Kansas City, Missouri, to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, for a funeral – that of his younger brother, Stony. Recently widowed, he also lost his father within the last year. Losing his brother, is almost more than he can bear. So, it’s shocking, and traumatic, when a mysterious someone, known only as XYZ, contacts him via Stony’s computer, saying that she’s a friend –and that she doesn’t believe his brother is really dead. He agrees drive up to Daytona, to meet her.

Brick got up around 9:00, showered, left a note and took off before the others were up. He borrowed Stony’s car and headed up I-95 to Daytona. The morning rush at Panera was tapering off when he ordered his coffee and pastry. Finding a table wasn’t hard. He sat in the main room, over to one side, near the partition. From here, he could see the back door, but not the front. He suspected that XYZ was a backdoor user. As it happened, he was right.

He spotted the tall, trim figured woman as soon as she walked in. Her honey colored hair was pulled back in a loose chignon. She scanned the restaurant, dark glasses raised to her forehead with one hand. She wore a slate gray suit and low heeled black shoes. Her jacket was buttoned, but there was a slight bulge under her left arm. She spotted him on her second pass. Brick held up his coffee, saluting her. Frowning, she strutted across the room, taking a seat across from him at the table.

“You need to work on your entrance,” he said after taking a sip. “I knew it was you the second you walked in.”

“Do you know who I am?”

“By name? No. But my guess is you’re a fed, not a cop.”

Her frown deepened. Her silence demanded an explanation.

“You don’t move like a cop. You move like a soldier. In plain clothes, those glasses, shoes you can run in—Fed.”

She flashed a wary smile. Her eyes were a vivid aquamarine. There was a scattering of freckles across her pert nose.

“So, this begs the questions—Why is a federal agent so anxious to talk to my bother? And why does she sound so unconvinced that he’s dead?”

“Mr. McMillan….”

He held up a finger, waving it at her as if chastising a spoiled child for bad manners. “The way this works, you introduce yourself. Then we chat.”

“Call me Agent X.” She grinned and a hint of a twinkle lit up her eyes.

“I’d rather not. I quit reading comic books thirty years ago.”

“Colleen,” she told him.

“No last name. So, like Pink or Prince….”

“Something like that.” The smile faded. “Look, Brick, we can tease and flirt all day—”

“Is that what this is?” He leaned forward aggressively. “I thought this was you telling me about your relationship with Stony.”

“It’s not an affair.”

“That much I know. My brother’s not a cheater. I figure it’s business related, but that’s a puzzler. My brother was an engineer.”

She sighed, leaning back. “May we start over?”

“Sure.” He wiped his hand on his napkin before holding it out. “Brick McMillan.”

She shook it. Her grip was firm, her palm calloused. She spent a lot of time with that handgun. “Colleen Underwood.”

“Federal agent.”

“Yes.”

“FBI? NSA?”

“RNS.”

“I don’t know that one—Oh! Rather Not Say,” he chuckled as he translated her acronym. “Gotcha.”

Her lips twitched into a half smile. “Yes, I know your brother. Yes, it’s business related. No, I don’t think he’s dead. If I’m right, he’s gone to ground and will contact me soon. He’s in danger.”

“How do you know?”

“Because I’m his partner. Your brother works for us. He’s a spy.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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ABC Challenge Letter R: Raven Willoughby: Origins by Dellani Oakes

ABC ChallengeI mentioned a few weeks ago, with Free Zone, that I would be sharing something from Raven Willoughby: Origins – and here it is! I never thought I’d write a story with zombies, let alone vampires and weres. Not that I don’t like them, I just never felt the genre was for me. So, when this story came to me, I was surprised. As usual, however, I put my own twist on things, and deliver the unexpected.

Raven Willoughby is an unusual man. First, he was attacked by a werewolf, then he was bitten by a vampire. Through some twist of fate, he is now more, or less than, human. Finding that the town he’s in is being attacked each night by the walking dead, he decides that he must do something about it. With his superior stamina and reflexes, he is in a unique position to fight the undead.

By nightfall, Raven was armed with his silver daggers and ensconced in his offices by the docks. Where it used to bustle at night, the waterfront was silent. Those forced by circumstances to remain, barred their doors and didn’t go out from sunrise to sunset. What he was doing was either very brave, or very foolish. Raven reflected that the two often ran together.

The first shuffling blunder sounded. Ears perked, Raven closed his eyes, filtering out the lap of waves and the creak of ships at dock. Below that, the sound of a dozen or so feet, shambling, could be heard. A low, mournful sigh carried on the breeze and he caught the scent of death. It was faint, but prevalent. Rising, he doused the lamp and sat in darkness. Drawing two knives, he waited until the wandering forms drew near.

They did not come in, but seemed to sense the life’s blood pulsing in his veins, for they crowded around outside. The stench was horrendous, the sound of their wheezing, sorrow filled sighs almost more than he could stand. Knowing these used to be people, perhaps former friends, filled him with regret. He could not, in good conscience, allow them to continue. He felt responsible, as they had come from his own beloved ship. Even had they not, he was uniquely equipped to deal with them, where mere humans could not.

Taking a deep breath, he rose and walked out the back door, coming around behind them. As if they sensed his movement, the creatures had started shuffling sideways. One or two had made the corner of the building, but seemed uncertain how to proceed. There was a low wall, less than three feet tall, but it provided a boundary of sorts. The half dozen undead crowded forward, each trying to reach him. Limp hands dangled from stiff arms. Hands groped for him.

Uttering a prayer, Raven swung at the reaching hands, lopping them off one by one. When separated from the body, the shriveled and lay still. The stumps of the arms hissed and smoked. The dead didn’t seem to feel it, but he could see tendrils of black snake up their arms. He took another swing, this time at necks.

One head, another, fell to the ground. The bodies dropped, trampled by the others who came forward to take their place. Dancing and whirling, Raven whittled away at the dead. There seemed to be no end to them. He lost count at a dozen. More came, the longer he worked. Drawn by his scent, the movement or the noise, he didn’t know. Tiring, even with his increased stamina, he decided retreat was advisable.

Dawn neared and he’d been fighting death for hours. Taking refuge inside the office, he barred the back door and watched out the window as the dead glanced at the sky. The first pale rays of the sun peeped over the water. Flinching from the sight, they flung up bony arms and beat their own retreat. Tempted to follow, he decided against it. He was tired. If they surrounded him in the open, he’d be done for. Instead, he washed the sweat of his activities from his body and lay down on the cot in the back.

Some time later, he heard movement in the office. Springing up, he grabbed his daggers and dashed to the adjoining door. Uriah smiled at him.

You look a disaster, sir. Care for that coffee?” He flashed a toothy grin.

You spent a better night than I,” Raven said, slumping against the wall.

Any night is better than fighting the undead. I see you made progress. There’s a heap of stinking bones and rotting flesh outside.”

I wasn’t in the frame of mind to sweep it into the dustbin. My apologies,” Raven declared in a sarcastic tone.

Uriah chuckled. “My Lord Willoughby, I feel sure that it will be taken care of soon. Folk will see it, though likely smell it first. It will be sorted.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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ABC Challenge Letter Q: Quaid from Analysis of Love by Dellani Oakes

ABC Challenge

Quaid Jennings is a psychologist. Along with his business partner, Boyd, he lives and works in a big city. Lonely and alone, he’s happy when Boyd introduces him to Faydra, one of his many cousins. Faydra has applied to a program for psychiatric nurses and Quaid has taken her to the hospital to interview. There, he sees Clyde, one of his buddies who is a psychiatry resident.

Who’s the hot blonde in with Hagel?” Clyde asked.

My girlfriend.” Quaid bridled slightly, drawing himself up with his shoulders squared.

Chill, dude. You’re a lucky man, but you know I don’t step into another guy’s action. She is to die for gorgeous, though.”

Thanks. I think so, too. She’s also got a brilliant mind and a great personality.”

She got any sisters?”

All brothers—six of them.”

You’re a brave man! My brothers and I vetted all our sister’s dates until she was twenty. We still have a go when she brings a new man home.”

I haven’t met them yet. They live on Alabama.”

Clyde snorted. “Redneck brothers! All older?”

Yeah.” Quaid squinted at his friend. “Why?”

Guess you need a lesson in how Southern brothers think.” He put his arm around Quaid’s shoulders. “See, we Southern Boys don’t think like you Yankees.” A Southern accent, which he’d concealed until now, flavored his words.

No? Do tell.”

Yep. That’s a baby sister, whose virtue must be guarded at all costs. Men like us—the brothers—are on the prowl.”

All men are, unless they’re ancient or dead.”

Yes, but some are more predatory than others. And a young lady’s virtue is her greatest gift.”

Which you—the brother—must protect at all costs.”

Yes.”

While trying to nab the virtue of every available woman.”

Pretty much. But see, that’s the worry of that girl’s brothers.”

And if she hasn’t any?”

So much the better. Easier to pluck.”

Quaid laughed loudly, punching Clyde in the ribs. “You’re insane.”

Which is why I’m a shrink. But those good old boys will take you apart if you mistreat the baby.”

I have no intention of doing that. Faydra’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I look in her eyes and see the future.”

Clyde cleared his throat and backed up a little, scratching the back of his head.

She’s right behind me.”

Yep. Heard every word.”

Good that I was telling the truth, then.” He winked at his friend and turned to greet Faydra.

Fairly bouncing, she flung her arms around his neck, practically bending him in half. “I got it! I got it!” She jumped and hugged, nearly choking him.

Fantastic!” he croaked. “Babe. Honey. Faydra!”

Sorry! I got it!” She let go and kept hopping.

I knew you could get it!”

You didn’t talk to anyone, pull strings?” she glowered.

No! Not a soul. I didn’t even know you had an interview here, until you told me last night.”

Good. I got it on my own.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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ABC Challenge Letter P: Painted Ladies by Dellani Oakes

ABC Challenge

For NaNoWriMo in 2018, I decided to try my hand at a thriller. Not sure if I succeeded, but I did write a good mystery. Captain Seamus Fehey and his partner, Barney Collins, are out for a run, when they notice a very distinct odor on the wind. It’s not a huge surprise to find a dead body in a copse of trees nearby. The fact she’s been crucified is alarming. Seamus has been off for medical leave, and can’t take charge, so the case belongs to Barney.

Eventually, all the evidence had been gathered. The body was taken down and loaded into the coroner’s van. It trundled slowly away, heading to the morgue. Several officers took down the cross, loading it into a pickup truck. When everything had been bagged, tagged and accounted for, Barney returned the notepad and pen to the officer.

“Thank you. Not even supposed to be working today.”

The man smiled, nodding. “Keep the pad. I’ve got more.”

“Thanks. You’ve got this here?”

“Yes, sir. We’ll have someone on it until it’s released.”

“Thanks.”

Making his way to Seamus’ car, Barney grabbed a towel from the back, and spread it on the driver’s seat. Adjusting it for his lesser height, as opposed to Seamus’ six foot two, he headed home. After a shower and a change of clothing, he left the Captain’s car in his driveway, driving his own to the station. Taking a chance that Seamus wasn’t sleeping, he called him.

“Fehey. Talk.”

Barney chuckled. “You’re the only person I know who answers the phone like that.”

“No, I’m not. What’s up?”

Barney gave him a detailed report. “You okay now?”

“Better. A pill and a Guinness, I’m happier.”

“You shouldn’t take both. That can have unpleasant side effects.”

“I’m lying in my recliner. Six feet from a bathroom. I think I’ll be fine. Are you okay?”

Barney exhaled sharply. “Yeah. I’ll be better when we catch this bastard.”

“Agreed. De Santos needs a full report.”

“On my way there now. I do know a thing or two about this job. I happen to be kinda good at it.”

“Yeah, yeah. Don’t let that shiny, new rank go to your head. You’re still a dumbass.”

“Glad to know the boss has such faith in me. At least I’m not a stupid mick.”

“Bite my ass,” Seamus chuckled.

“I’ll pass, thanks. Not a fan of man-ass.”

“Go do your job.”

“Pulling into the parking lot now. Sleep. Eat. Heal.”

“Drink.” Seamus hung up.

Laughing a little, Barney pulled into his reserved spot. Grabbing his gear, he headed to his office. De Santos, the acting captain, wandered in, shortly after he got settled.

“Speak.” Taking a seat across from Barney, he listened attentively to his report.

Checking his notes, Barney gave him as clear a picture as he could.

“Excellent. Let’s catch this bastard fast.”

“That’s the plan.”

“Good. How’s Shea?”

“Healing.”

De Santos nodded, tapping the desk with the flat of his palm, he stood. “Good.”

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Painted Ladies NaNoWriMo 2018 cover

ABC Challenge Letter O: One More Night by Dellani Oakes

ABC ChallengeSorsha Donan is a college English professor, as well as an author of erotic romance novels. She lives on the beach in a large, sprawling house. An old flame has come back into her life, the man she loved and hoped to marry. Ben Carver was in the military, and was wounded in a mission gone wrong. Now, he’s in intelligence, and has been called by a former colleague, Lex.

Put your pants on, Carver,” I heard Lex’s voice loud and clear.

I need a shower, Lex.”

No time. I’m out front.”

I’m not at my house.”

There was a knock at my door. Ben hung up, cursing, and trotted downstairs naked. Throwing open the door, he greeted Lex and ran back up to my room to dress.

It’s her fault if I stink,” he complained as he discarded one T-shirt and pulled on another.

Dressed in cargo pants, a T-shirt and running shoes, he went back downstairs. I followed him down, dressed in yoga pants and a sweater. I offered Lex coffee, which she declined.

That’s what you’re wearing?” she said, after giving Ben the once over.

You didn’t let me shower or tell me where we’re going.”

To your house so you can change. You need to pick a location, Carver. I need to know where you are.”

If I’m not home, I’m probably here,” he replied, grabbing an apple and banana from the fridge. He completely peeled the banana, stuffing half of it in his mouth as he dropped the peel in the trash.

So I figured out when I didn’t find you there. You’ve got a suit?”

I’ve got several. And a tux,” he said around the other half of the banana. “You couldn’t tell me this last night?”

It came up suddenly. Still got the yarmulke?”

I’m Jewish?”

Today. I’m sorry, Sorsha. If I had any choice, I’d leave him here. I know how—intoxicating—a new relationship is.”

I sincerely hoped that she hadn’t had a relationship with Ben. I didn’t get that vibe from either of them, but who knows? Their lives have often depended upon being consummate liars.

Ben gave me a deep, probing kiss. “I will be back, my love. Count on it.”

This should only take a couple hours,” Lex assured me. “But if it doesn’t.” She handed me a business card. “Memorize and destroy the card. Burn, preferably.”

And scatter the ashes,” I suggested.

Lex and Ben stared at me, surprised.

I write novels. Did you think my mind would go anywhere else?”

They laughed. Ben gave me another kiss. Lex gave me a hug, which surprised me.

I’ll bring him back soonest. Plan on four hours before you flip out. I always take anticipated op time and double it.”

It’s an op?” I must have looked or sounded afraid.

Lex patted my hand. “Nothing serious. No panicking allowed.”

Doesn’t make me feel any better,” I said. “Go, before I think of a million reasons for you to stay.”

They headed to the door As Ben walked out, I called after him.

I wanna see you in the yarmulke.”

He stopped, one hand on the doorknob. “Why?”

Cause I think you’d look sexy.”

Chuckling, he walked out, calling over his shoulder. “I look sexy anyway.” The door closed and I sat at the table, pouting.

I needed coffee and food badly. I needed Ben most of all, but at least I had the assurance that he would return. Not just his, Lex’s.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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Red River Radio Presents What’s Write for Me with Julia, Maya and Rami

Dellani Oakes

We’ve got a great show planned for Wednesday, June 26 from 4-6 PM EDT.Joining us today are two familiar folks, and one new one.

First up is a fellow Tirgearr Author, Maya Tyler is a multi-published author of paranormal romance novels and blogger at Maya’s Musings. An avid reader, Maya writes the books she loves to read—romances! She still believes that “True Love’s Kiss” is the most powerful thing in the world. Her paranormal romances come with complex plot twists and happily-ever-afters. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, listening to music (alternative rock, especially from the 1990s), practicing yoga, and watching movies and TV.

Second is the happiest horror author I know. Rami Ungar knew he wanted to be a writer from the age of five, when he first became exposed to the world of Harry Potter and wanted to create imaginative worlds like Harry’s. As a tween, he…

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