Alphabet Challenge Too – Letter F from Feels Like Rain by Dellani

ABC ChallengeGrant Thibodaux is a police detective in New Orleans. Due to be married in just a little over a week, his world is shattered when his fiancee is kidnapped, and turns up dead. To his horror, Grant is suspected of her murder. Not knowing where to turn, he goes on the run and ends up in a derelict cabin in the woods.

“We ain’t ever gonna make that bridge tonight, across the Pontchartrain. And it feels like rain….”* the haunting, sultry strains of the song wafted out of the battery operated radio, filling the room with sound. He sat at the battered table on an equally tattered chair, tipping bourbon into his chipped glass. Tossing it back, he wiped his hand across his lips and sighed. Leaning back in his chair, he looked around, slowly. He’d already counted the holes in the wall—twenty-seven. The splinters in the table top—thirty-two. He thought he might start on the chips in the linoleum tile next. There looked to be a nearly endless number of those. The bottom of his glass beckoned, daring him to cover it again. Deciding that was more interesting than how many nails held the door together, he poured another measure, tossing it back, too.

It was a bad day, at the end of a bad week, and a worse month. Nothing had gone right for at least seventy-two hours. Past that, he wasn’t sure. Everything else was a blur. In fact, he wasn’t too sure of the last week, either. Had he been of a mind to care, he might have expended the effort, but he couldn’t be bothered. More bourbon trickled down his throat, warming his stomach. Another song wound around him, Kaelo’s version of Bang Bang—a personal favorite. The singer’s voice growled out the lyrics as Grant Thibodaux drowned himself in drink.

His phone rang. Somewhat surprised, Grant ignored it, sending it to voice mail. It rang again, and again. Finally fed up, he turned it off. His impulse was to hurl it across the room, but common sense won that battle. He was out here, in the middle of nowhere, in an abandoned cabin, with a bottle of bourbon and his self-loathing to keep him company.

“Wasn’t supposed to go down this way,” he muttered, dribbling the last of the bourbon into the glass.

He couldn’t have explained to anyone, including himself, how it was supposed to go. He knew in his heart, it couldn’t have gone down anything but hard. How hard, he hadn’t anticipated. Now, his partner was dead. His lover was dead. And he felt dead inside. He wanted to blame himself, but it hadn’t been entirely his fault, not even mostly. Turkle—he’d blame him for a little while. Then he’d blame Elise. And if he stayed conscious long enough, he’d get around to hating himself a little more.

Oblivion beckoned and he gave in. There was no bed, too much litter on the floor, so his head drooped to his arms and he slept. The sounds of the night cuddled him; the lake lapping on the shore, crickets chirping, the occasional hoot of an owl or the bark of a fox. It created a peaceful background to the noise of his dreams. Disjointed scenes raced across his mind’s eye, making him shiver and shake. He jerked awake, the crash in his dream echoed in real life.

The pale blueish rays of his Coleman, set on low, barely reached the far wall of the cabin. Groggy from drink and lack of sleep, he listened. The thudding repeated. That wasn’t a normal sound and it came from fairly nearby. It wasn’t an animal sound, either. It sounded like the thump of an ax against a large, thick tree. Who the hell would be cutting a tree in the middle of the night here in BFE?

Grant had one other thing to keep him company—his handgun. The HK 45 felt good in his palm as his thumb flicked the safety. Moving slowly, he wandered over to the window. The glass was shattered and a few sharp pieces were left in the frame. These, he avoided, glancing out into the night. His eyes, used to the meager light of the lantern, couldn’t pick out details. He thought about turning it off, but that might alert his company. His sharp ears didn’t pick up a repeat of the sound. He wondered if the ax wielding mystery man was going to suddenly surprise him by bursting through, what was left of, the door.

A furtive scurrying alerted him to movement on the dilapidated front porch. Still unable to see anything, he ducked and made himself as small as possible. Considering his height, it was a nearly impossible task, but he tried. Elise would giggle if she could see him—would have—he reminded himself. She couldn’t see anything anymore. Her sightless eyes had held accusation, or maybe that was simply his take on it. He knew he felt guilty for her death. Turkle—he’d blame him. Easier to blame a dead man than take that himself. He’d carry the guilt the rest of his life, however long that might be.

Nothing moved outside. Nearly convinced he’d imagined it, he tried to relax, until a board creaked in the bedroom behind him. He knew that board was in the middle of the room. He’d stepped on it so often himself, he recognized its pitch and cadence—going from a low groan to a high pitched shriek.

“Come out,” he growled, placing himself where he had a good vantage point. “I know you’re in there.”

The floor squeaked again and he trained his weapon on the door, his back to the corner. A dilapidated hutch provided a modicum of protection. The door drifted slowly open, Grant’s weapon didn’t falter, his hands steady.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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*Lyrics from It Feels Like Rain, written by John Hiatt

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Red River Radio Presents What’s Write for Me with Jenny and Mark!

Dellani's Choice - Books

red river radio logoWednesday, October 24, join Dellani and Christina as they chat with authors JS Burke and Mark Stevens. This is Jenny’s second visit, and Mark’s first. We know they’ll have a great time, and so will you!

Stevens Head Shot Mark Stevens

The son of two librarians, Mark Stevens was raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts. He graduated from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in the suburbs of Boston and from Principia College in Illinois. He worked as a reporter for The Christian Science Monitorin Boston and Los Angeles; as a City Hall reporter for The Rocky Mountain News in Denver; as a national field producer for The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (PBS) and as an education reporter for The Denver Post.

After journalism, he worked in school public relations before starting his own public relations and strategic communications business. He lives in Denver. Mark and his wife have two grown daughters.

Mark is currently president of…

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Alphabet Challenge Too – Letter E from The Experiment by Dellani

ABC ChallengeMargay Simmons is in danger of failing her psychology class. As a senior, theatre major, she can’t afford to fail the class, and get held up on graduation. When her professor gives her the opportunity to participate in an experiment, she agrees. What she finds out, is that the experiment is looking at the dynamic of married couples. She will be “married” to a man she’s never met, and they will live together for the next six weeks. Tonight, she will meet her intended.

A man walked in, catching her attention. He was six feet tall, lean built, with broad shoulders. His dark brown hair was cut in a sort of early Beatles style and was tossed around in such a casual way, it probably took ages to fix. He bent forward to talk to the hostess, hands in the pockets of his tan chinos. He wore a darker tan corduroy jacket and a plaid shirt that was buttoned to his adam’s apple. His expression was made difficult to read by the black framed glasses he wore. Give him a pocket protector full of pens, he’d be right out of Revenge of the Nerds.

Maggie stood as he approached the table, holding out her hand. He took it, his palm slightly sweaty, shaking it in a moderately firm grip.

“Jaeger Jeffreys,” he said by way of greeting. He pronounced his name Jay-ger.

“Margay Simmons—but you can call me Maggie.”

Jaeger came around to help her with her chair. Unused to such attention, Maggie sat too quickly, flopping awkwardly onto her seat. Fortunately, Jaeger didn’t seem to notice.

“So, Jaeger,” she croaked. Clearing her throat, she took a sip of water. “Do you go by a nickname? Like Jay or Ger?” Realizing she was babbling, Maggie stopped talking and took a deep breath. Another sip gave her an excuse to stay quiet.

Jaeger chuckled. “I sometimes go by Jeff or Jay. Good friends call me J.J. You can call me any of the above, or the full handle. I answer to about anything.”

His voice was a smooth tenor flavored by a slight Southern accent that she thought was from Alabama. Maggie had a good ear for accents, and could usually pinpoint where someone was from after a very short time.

“Unusual name, Jaeger.”

“Yep. Mom’s family name. It’s actually my middle name. First name’s awful.” He made a face.

“It can’t be that bad.”

“Trust me. When I know you better, I’ll share.” He took a sip of his water.

The waitress brought their soup, a delicate gazpacho with croutons. Conversation lagged slightly as they ate.

“So, Jaeger, what do you plan to do once you graduate?”

He put down his spoon and folded his hands under his chin. “First of all, my future wife can call me Jay—please. Secondly, I’m going into the family business. Dad’s an accountant, his dad was, and his dad. Going back to the War Between the States, when my many greats granddaddy was pay master for General Lee.”

“The Civil War, you mean?”

Jay shushed her playfully. “Lord, chile, don’t ever let my granny here you say that! She will shoot you for a Yankee! She calls it The Recent Unpleasantness.” He laid a thick layer of Southern on his statement.

“Yankee! I think I might be offended by that.”

Jaeger laughed, slapping his thigh. “I say all that and you catch onto Yankee? Lordy. Where you from, Maggie?”

“I was born in Tennessee, but raised in Florida. I’m as Southern as you are.”

He held up a finger, wiggling it at her. “I do beg to differ. I was born in the Appalachian Mountains, in a cabin in the Chattahoochee National Forest. I was raised in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama. My folks were from Citronelle, Alabama—population just around thirty-six hundred. They now live in Biloxi, Mississippi. My granddaddy’s family was one of the first families to settle there in 1811. I have a family tree with so many branches, I don’t know all my first cousins, and only a handful of the seconds. So, I promise you, to my granny, a girl raised in Florida—she’s a Yankee.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Addison & Nancy

Dellani's Choice - Books

red river radio logoBe sure to join us for Dellani’s Tea Time on Monday, October 15th from 4-6 PM Eastern, when our guests will be Addison Brae and Nancy Stohlman!

addison brae

Addison Brae lives in Dallas, Texas on the edge of downtown. As a child, she was constantly in trouble for hiding under the bed to read when she was supposed to be napping. She has been writing since childhood starting with diaries, letters and short stories. She continues today with articles, video scripts and other content as an independent marketing consultant.

When she’s not writing, Addison spends her time traveling the world, collecting interesting cocktail recipes and hosting parties. She’s still addicted to reading and enjoys jogging in her neighborhood park, sipping red wine, binge-watching TV series, vintage clothing and hanging out with her artistic other half and their neurotic cat Lucy. Her book, Becker Circle, is available from Tirgearr Publishing.

Trailer…

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Alphabet Challenge Too – Letter D from Double Trouble by Dellani

ABC ChallengeI’m still working on this one. It’s been a lot of fun, and I hope to finish it soon. The Bates brothers, Trey and Chay, are an interesting pair. One is rather subdued, the other extremely outgoing. See if you can figure out which.

She opened the stained glass door to the office with trepidation. Never having done this before, her hands shook. Identical platinum haired men greeted her with dazzling smiles. Paige halted as the effect of their stunning good looks left her breathless. One stepped forward, hand extended.

“Good morning and welcome to Bates Brothers Investigations. I’m Norman and he’s Master.”

“Dude, be serious,” the second twin said, hanging back a little.

“Seriously, he’s Norman and I’m Master. Our folks run a creepy hotel. Middle of nowhere, house on a cliff? No?”

“I’m Chay and he’s Trey,” the second one said, shaking her hand.

“But Dad totally wanted to name one of us Norman,” Trey contributed.

“It was all our mother could do to stop him,” Chay added with a smile.

“Did she stab him with a big, scary knife while he was in the shower?” their visitor asked.

“No, but she does love her rocking chair,” Trey replied with a grin.

“We named the dog Norman,” Chay said.

“So, neither of you is Master?” she asked slyly.

“Well….” Trey began.

Chay punched his brother. “No.”

“But we….”

“Don’t need to explain that one,” she interrupted.

“How can we help you?” Chay, the calmer of the two, asked.

“I need you to find someone for me.” She held out a photograph in shaking hands. “I think I’m being stalked. I got this picture on my phone.” She handed it to Trey, who was closest.

He examined it carefully before handing it to his twin.

“Has he spoken to you? Approached you in any way?” Chay asked.

“Not exactly. But I get these creepy calls sometimes. The number’s blocked, but there’s someone there, breathing….

“Then they hang up?” Trey concluded.

“Sometimes they whisper something. It sounds like a name. But it’s not something I ever heard before.”

“Not Rosebud?” Trey supplied.

The young woman cut her eyes at him. “Yeah, could be,” she replied sarcastically. “The closest I can make out, they say Katrinka. But I can’t be sure.”

“Why don’t we have a seat in my office,” Chay said. “And you can tell us all about it, Miss…?”

“Turner. Paige Turner. Yes, that’s my real name,” she directed at Trey before he could comment. “My father’s sense of the absurd. Mom couldn’t curtail him.”

“Do you have a sister named Leaf and a brother named Pancake?” Trey winked one brilliant blue eye.

“Funny, but no. I’m an only child. We named the dog Pancake.”

The men laughed in perfect unison, their booming voices filled the confined space. For the first time in weeks, Paige laughed too. Humor had been hard to find lately.

Chay ushered her into his office. Some would call it shabby chic, some less kind, just shabby. It was obvious they needed her case. Everything spoke to her of lack—from the battered wooden desk to the dented metal folding chairs. Despite the absence of glamour, it was neat and tidy. There were no files stacked on the desk, no half empty coffee cups. There were McDonald’s wrappers in the trash, but they were folded neatly and at the bottom of an otherwise empty basket.

“Sorry we aren’t fancier,” he said with a blush. “Please have a seat.” He indicated the one folding chair with a cushion.

Chay sat in a rickety wooden chair behind this desk. Trey perched on the corner.

“Tell Uncle Chay all about it,” Trey said with a frown of concern.

Paige grimaced at him. “And what does that make you?”

“I’ll be your daddy,” he replied with a nod and sly raise of an eyebrow.

Paige burst out laughing. “I hope that’s an act and you aren’t seriously using that to hit on me.”

Trey smirked. “Planting the seeds of discord. If you think of my bro as an uncle, then it’s sick if you hook up with him.”

“I see.”

“And if I were hitting on you,” he replied quietly. “You’d know it.”

Now that, Paige decided, was a come on. She smiled.

“Trey, stop and be serious for five minutes, huh?” his twin reprimanded.

“Do you want me to stop and then be serious or stop being serious?”

“Stop being you and try to be serious.”

“I can do that.” Trey closed his mouth, lowered his eyebrows and pursed his lips.

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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Alphabet Challenge Too – Letter C from Conduct Unbecoming by Dellani

ABC ChallengeTired of constantly being on the defensive, Teague had intended to directly confront Quartermain and the others at the condo where they are staying. Nadeya discourages. She knows he can take Quartermain, but the other two are far more dangerous. She and Joel think baiting the bad guys is not only inappropriate, it’s dangerous. Still not liking it, Teague tells them he’s going for a walk on the beach.

Joel rose as his cousin walked by. “I’m going too.”

“I won’t do anything crazy!”

“Yeah, well I want to go for a walk too.”

Teague couldn’t think of a good argument against, so he agreed. They walked down the stairs, heading to the beach.

“He’s right down there,” Teague said with a groan. “Within reach!”

“No.”

“But he’s—”

“No! Dammit, Teague. Don’t make me drop you.”

“Like you even could,” was the disgusted reply.

Joel moved quickly, grabbing Teague’s arm. He tugged, spun and dropped, pulling Teague to his knees. Another move bought his cousin to the ground. Stunned, Teague lay on his belly. After a moment, he tapped out and Joel released him.

“You aren’t Superman,” Joel said.

“So, folks keep tellin’ me.” Teague rolled his head and shoulders rubbing his neck with a hand.

“Did I make my point?”

“Yeah. Shut up.”

Joel’s face fell, discouraged that Teague hadn’t really acknowledged his ability to take him down or taken his warning seriously. Teague noticed his cousin’s mute disappointment.

“I’m sorry. This gets to me. I don’t do waiting well.”

Joel clapped his hand on Teague’s shoulder. “Come on, I’ll buy you a beer.”

They went to the cabana by the pool. Taking stools, they ordered their beers and sipped them thoughtfully.

“We’re going at this sideways,” Joel mused. “You can’t go at them balls out with both barrels. They want that.”

“So, what do we do? I hate waiting. I waited on Mac and damn near got us both killed. They picked the time and place and were far stronger than I anticipated.”

“You didn’t know he was the enemy. This time, we know the players. We are at a home field advantage.”

“I’m not running away again. I won’t do that.”

“Not saying you should.”

“Then what?”

“Go home. Have a beer. Take your lady to bed.”

“That’s nothing.”

“Exactly.” Joel raised his beer at Teague.

“I don’t get it.”

“Do nothing. Go home. Relax. Let them come to you. No hiding, no running.” He shrugged. “Simple.”

Teague grinned. Taking Joel’s head in both hands, he planted a kiss on his cousin’s brow.

“You’re a genius.” Teague ruffled Joel’s hair.

“Been told that.” He rubbed at his head to smooth his waves back into submission.

“Let’s go home.”

© 2018 Dellani Oakes

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