ABC Challenge Letter Z: Zoe from Web of Lies by Dellani Oakes

ABC Challenge

Zoe Hamilton owns a small spa business in Florida. One night, she gets a call from her security company, that her business has been broken into. Rhett Archer is on the other end of the call. He talks her down, and keeps her calm, through the ordeal. The next morning, he calls and asks her to check on her.

“Hi, Zoe? Rhett Archer. I’m sorry if I woke you, but I wanted to check on you before I went off shift.”

“It’s okay. I’m usually up by now.” She yawned, stretching as she looked at the clock. “I have to go in and do inventory. I was gonna clean instead. Crap.”

Rhett laughed softly, comfortingly. “Well, can’t help you there. I’m the world’s worst at house cleaning. I start taking off my clothing at the front door, dropping it as I go.”

“Your wife is gonna fuss at you for that.”

“Not married. Surprised?”

Zoe giggled. “Well, if you did that at my house, I’d have to smack ya.”

“Promise?” There was a short silence. “Sorry. I guess that wasn’t exactly appropriate.”

“No, not that. Just caught me by surprise. Never spoke to a guy who liked abuse.”

Rhett laughed loudly, then muffled the phone. “Oh, damn, that was funny. Just can’t control myself when I talk to a beautiful woman on the phone.”

“You don’t know if I’m beautiful or not,” she countered.

“Okay, a beautiful sounding woman. Is that better?”

“That’ll do. I thought you were leaving work?”

“I called on my cell. I hope you don’t mind that I got your number?”

He sounded so hopeful that she wouldn’t get angry, she laughed.

“If you didn’t work for my security company, I’d think you were a stalker, Rhett. That’s a little creepy.”

“I’m sorry. You just sounded so lost and afraid last night, I was worried. My natural protectiveness. I’ll purge it when I’m done.”

“No, you don’t have to. Sorry, I’m a little paranoid. My dad did security work.”

“Not Tab Hamilton?”

“Yeah, you knew my dad?”

“Knew him? I apprenticed with him! I didn’t know you were Tab’s little girl. That’s so cool!”

“That’s really wild, Rhett. Got to admit, that’s an odd coincidence.”

“Not really. Your dad was the best. I wanted to work with the best.”

“He was very selective about who he worked with. You must have really impressed him.”

“At the risk of sounding even more like a stalker, which I assure you I’m not….”

“Are you trying to ask me out?”

“Yeah.” He laughed nervously. “I guess I am. Nothing weird. Public place, lots of exits….”

Zoe giggled, shaking her head. “You’re something else, Rhett Archer! Sure. When and where?”

“How about breakfast this morning? I woke you up. I know you haven’t eaten.”

“I’d like that. This is the first time I’ve been invited to breakfast by a handsome man.”

“You don’t know if I’m handsome or not.”

“Handsome sounding man,” she countered. “Can you give me about twenty minutes to get a shower?”

“I guess I’ll have to. Seriously, I need one too.”

“I’d ask you to share, but I guess that’s a little forward on a first date.”

“Um….”

“Gotcha,” she giggled, enjoying his confusion.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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ABC Challenge Letter Y: So Much It Hurts by Dellani Oakes – Character Interview Yancy Fredrick

ABC Challenge

So Much It Hurts is set in my city. Pia Donovan is a small town girl, who has come to the city to attend the university. There, she meets Flynn and his roommate, Yancy. This is an interview I did with him, to get to know him.

What is your story?

My Story is told in So Much It Hurts

Who are you?

My name is Yancy Fredrick.

Where do you live?

I live in a former grand hotel in the heart of the City.

Are you the hero of your own story?

Define hero. I don’t think I’m particularly heroic.

What is your problem in the story?

I’m in love with my best friend’s girlfriend, Pia.

How do you see yourself?

I’m a man who’s feeling somewhat lost. Some days, I wonder if I’ll ever find my way again.

How do your friends see you?

They see me as capable, decisive, responsible and confident. They’re not wrong. I’m all that, and a lot more – as well as a lot less.

How does the author see you?

She thinks I’ve got a killer smile that can seduce a woman with its power…. She’s not wrong.

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Yes, she did. It’s like she was inside my head.

Do you have a goal?

My goal hasn’t changed since I was twelve. I want my doctorate in business. Additionally, I want to start an art school with Flynn, maybe build on that to set up a program to help emotional healing through art.

What do you want?

I want to finish my degree and start up the art school with Flynn.

What do you need?

I need to find love.

What do you believe?

I believe in myself. In Flynn. In our dream to start an art school.

What makes you happy?

My friends, my work — Pia.

What are you afraid of?

Losing everything I’ve built.

Are you lucky?

I’m one of those fortunate individuals who’s had an easy life. My family is great, my folks are wonderful. I have four younger sisters, and we’re all happy and doing what we love. I’d consider that to be lucky.

Have you ever failed at anything?

I never was any good at water skiing, other than that, no. Like I said, lucky.

Do you keep your promises?

I do my best not to promise, because I don’t want to break my word. That said, if I do promise, I make it happen.

Are you healthy?

I love to run, play rugby, climb steps for cardio, I don’t eat as well as I should…. I haven’t had a serious illness since I had chicken pox at six. I’m allergic to birds, but otherwise, I’m disgustingly healthy.

What was your childhood like?

My childhood was great. Dad was gone a lot, and we moved a good bit, until he left the military. We settled in the suburbs outside the City when I was ten. It was a great neighborhood, good school, lots of friends.

Do you like remembering your childhood?

You know those old sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver, or Dick Van Dyke Show? That was me and my family.

Did anything newsworthy happen on the day you were born?

Yes. I was born.

Did you get along with your parents?

They and my sisters are my best friends – except for Flynn – and Pia.

What in your past would you like to forget?

If I’d like to forget it, what makes you think I want to talk about it?

Was there a major turning point in your life?

One day, Flynn came in and said, “Get dressed. We’ve got a new neighbor and we’re taking her to dinner.”

Do you have any hobbies?

I play rugby with a local team. I have taken up golf, because a lot of business can be done on the golf course. I don’t like it much, it’s boring. If I examine it scientifically; from a physics and math perspective, it’s okay.

What is your favorite color? Why?

I don’t really have one, but if anyone insists on an answer, I say blue.

What is your favorite food? Why?

Pia made this great puttanesca sauce one night. It was the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted.

What is your favorite beverage? Why?

Hard cider. Because it’s great.

What is your favorite music? Why?

I’ll listen to just about anything, but I love the old torch songs and blues. I also love Big Band stuff.

What is your favorite item of clothing? Why?

I have this pair of pants that’s the absolute perfect fit. Shows off my ass and thighs to perfection. I wear them when I’m out at a bar, because they attract women. Yes, I am that calculating.

Name five items in your pockets.

I don’t carry much: wallet, keys, phone and I’m good to go.

What are the last three books you read?

Right now, I’m pretty focused on school. When I’m not reading scholarly crap, I like a good mystery or a political thriller.

If you were at a store now, what ten items would be in your shopping cart?

Coffee, sugar, creamer, hard cider, bagels, cream cheese…. Hell, I need more than 10 items.

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

I have no interest in sharing space with another man. We burp, fart and scratch rude places. If I’ve got to be somewhere it’s hot and sunny, I’ll take a sultry woman with no inhibitions and a good tan.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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So Much It Hurts by Dellani Oakes500

ABC Challenge Letter X: Again, I’ve Got Nothing

ABC Challenge

I guess, I’ll end up having to write a story with a character whose name begins with an X. Or, perhaps I need to make a title which begins with X, simply so I can properly post X on this site.

It’s frustrating now to have a proper X File to draw from—which was a great show, by the way. Absolutely loved it, though some of the episodes really creeped me out, and I can’t watch them by myself.

Another thing I couldn’t watch by myself, was The Woman in Black with Daniel Radcliff. Excellent movie, but I made my husband sit beside me on the couch the entire time. It is a testament to his love, that he didn’t insist on having a cigarette the entire time. I didn’t even want to go to sleep or take a shower by myself. That’s why I don’t write, or often read, horror.

This isn’t exactly an essay on X, but you have to admit that it fills part of the page. Tune in next week, when I will have an actual excerpt to share with you.

© 2019 Dellani Oakes

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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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