The Ninja Tattoo by Dellani Oakes

Teague McMurtry gave six years of his life to the Army. Now, he’s trying to settle down and get his college degree. He’s got his own yard business and is working hard at building his life.

Things are going great until he runs awry of the wrong biker gang. Little does he know that his chance meeting with Vivica Rambo initiates a series of events that could prove deadly for them both.

Excerpt from The Ninja Tattoo

“Wild Gardens. Teague speaking. How may I help you?”

“So, it is you,” said the cheerful female voice on the other end. “It’s not every day a man buys a girl a cup of coffee and runs off without a word. I had to beg Jenny to tell me your name, but she wouldn’t give me your number.”

“It’s right on the side of the truck,” he said with a laugh in his voice.

“So I noticed as you drove slowly by. You did that on purpose, you sly devil. Peak a girl’s interest and satisfy her curiosity at the same time.”

“Damn, I’m good. I didn’t know I was that slick.”

“Sneaky, you mean. So, hit any other women with doors in the past few hours?”
“No, but I’ve been kissed by a beautiful, older woman.”

“Ooh, I’m jealous! Tell me who she is, I’ll pay her a visit.”

Teague laughed, picturing this nameless, exotic beauty coming up against Daisy.

“You might give the old girl heart failure,” he said. “Daisy’s spry, but I think you’d scare her half to death. Why don’t you just let me buy you dinner to make up for my infidelity?”

There was a short pause. She sounded somewhat surprised when she answered, though whether with him or herself, he couldn’t tell. “You know, I’d really like that, Teague.”

“Great! Are you free tonight?”

“You’re sure not shy. Do you always ask mysterious women out right after you meet them?”

“Only the ones I hit with the door. The others have to wait the standard three days before I ask them out.”

“Am I setting myself up to get played?” She sounded concerned.

Wanting to immediately kill that thought, Teague turned serious before replying. “I promise, I’m not like that,” he said solemnly. “I don’t even know your name.”

Did he hear a sniffle? Had he made the woman cry? Cursing himself silently, he waited. She cleared her throat before replying.

“Vivica.”

“That’s a beautiful name.”

“Thank you. So, is Teague your first name?”

“Yeah. My mom’s maiden name. Originally McTeague. Dad talked her out of that, thank God.”

She giggled, then laughed louder. “Fine Irish name it is,” she said with a fairly decent brogue.

“Aye, so it is, lassie. So, about dinner?”

“Talk about persistent! Okay, what about dinner?”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Lone Wolf Tales: A Lone Wolf Series Companion by Dellani Oakes

Lone Wolf Tales: A Lone Wolf Series Companion, is a collection of 9 short stories related to the Lone Wolf Series by Dellani Oakes. These short stories explore aspects of the series that are only briefly mentioned in the novels themselves. Each story is set in a different place and time. Step into the world of the Lone Wolf and meet giant cat people, evil despots and a dangerously handsome Galactic Marine.

And Itza Danced 2And Itza Danced: The character of Itza is introduced in The Kahlea – Book 4 of the Lone Wolf Series. Itza is of the Zarbanni people of Bankaywan. Constantly harassed by brigands and marauders, Itza must send a message to all comers to leave her people alone. Unfortunately, the message hasn’t been clear enough and she must fight once more for her people.

 

blackened coverBlackened: On a backwater planet in the middle of absolute nowhere, Wil Vanlipsig and his men have been sent on another horrendous mission. This time, the odds are decidedly stacked against them. Their objective is to secure and liberate a weapon of mass destruction. Unfortunately, it’s more than any of them counted on.

 

brothers at arms 2Brothers at Arms: Wil and Marc grew up together, were fast friends and even joined the Galactic Marines at the same time. When tapped for a special unit, they meet Lill Simpson, a vivacious redhead. She sets her sights on Marc, but for some reason, Wil doesn’t trust her. Is it paranoia or can she really not be trusted?

 

Call Me Penny coverCall Me Penny: Caught off guard on the scummy, armpit of planet Wercha, Barbara Stennis – known as Penny, because of her copper red hair – is arrested and forced to join the Galactic Marines. Something fishy is going on and the new recruits grow alarmed as many of their number start to mysteriously disappear at night. Penny finds herself in over her head when her sergeant orders her to investigate.

Fractured coverFractured: Wil’s had a crazy life. Thrown into one hellhole after another, he’s always managed to escape. After a mission goes horribly long, he’s forced to take a vacation to a distant, isolated planet called New Aussie. While there, he’s in an accident. Hovering between life and death, he’s rescued by an exotically beautiful woman named Siegra. Strange things happen in the desert, deep in the Heriatis Hills—some of which should never be explained.

forgotten coverGone But Not Forgotten: When they met, there was a spark of recognition, of longing, that neither Wil nor Matilda could explain. This tale explores not only Wil’s past, but Matilda’s, explaining why they fell instantly in love.

 

 

 

white lie coverA Little White Lie: Wil’s been on more than one mysterious mission, given ambiguous orders and dropped in a war zone. That doesn’t bother him anymore. However, this time, there is more than one agenda in play and Wil must tread carefully if he wants to survive.

 

 

 

Pain Killer CoverPain Killer: “It’s a cakewalk.” That’s what Admiral Greyling tells Will when she sends him on a solo mission not unlike the one he’d recently been on. Yet another crazed despot needs to be assassinated so that his people can be—enslaved by some other crazed despot. Wil goes in with only his brains and instincts to keep him alive.

 

rejoicing story coverThere Shall Be Great Rejoicing: This story, also set on Bankaywan, tells the tale of Sta Hyt Mai’s rise to fame and glory as the Champion of Bankaywan. How did Mai rise from her humble beginnings to become the most respected and fame filled woman on her planet?

 

 

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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The Maker – Lone Wolf Book 3 by Dellani Oakes

If anyone had told Wil VanLipsig that five years in the future, he’d be part of a small, dedicated force who stood against an legendary evil, light years from home, on a planet that’s buried in the mists of time, he would have shot them—pure and simple.

Now, he and his wife, Matilda Dulac, stand together with a well trained, but meager, army at their backs, waiting for the coming of the Kahlea. Are they up to the challenge? Read The Maker and find out!

 

The Maker has recently been re-released on Amazon. Below is a short excerpt from The Maker – Book 3 of the Lone Wolf Series.

Ben sat quietly, thinking along lines he had never ventured down before. It was a little like doing recon in a dark swamp, in the fog, but he was slogging through. He had latched onto a comment made in passing and he was working on that idea slowly, deliberately, like Marc playing a game of What If.

“You’re awfully quiet,” Matilda sounded concerned.

“I was just thinking about what you said about the string and getting back to Becky.”

“It was a story, Ben, written thousands of years ago.”

“I know that, but it’s given me an idea. Remember how your dad did that thing with the Trimagnite finders, to locate Iyundo when the High Elder disappeared it? He said he got the idea when Patsy was talking about playing with mirrors, right?”

They waited to see where he was going with this.

“Well, the thread and Becky is what gave me the idea. We can’t follow a string back, exactly, but maybe a string could come to us?”

“I still don’t get your direction on this,” Wil muttered.

“We know that Marc and Becky have their rings, linked by their AI’s,” Ben said.

“Yes, so do we. It didn’t help us find Matilda.”

Ben shook his head. “I don’t know, maybe it did. Think about it, would we have pressed the balloon idea if Grandma hadn’t nagged the ever loving shit out of you for twenty-four hours?”

Wil chuckled. “No, we would have trashed it after about five minutes. It seemed too ridiculous.”

“But it worked. Also, you didn’t have two telepaths, the Maker and a whole butt load of raw Trimagnite to boost your signal. Marc, you have Matilda and me to work with you. We do something similar like we did to reach Ysilvalov, and we try like hell to contact Becky or the Elders. Worth a try, right?”

Wil stared at his son, amazed and proud. “Damn, Ben, you have a good idea there!”

Matilda looked around at the three men whom she loved the most in her entire life. “That’s what I like about this family, creative thinkers.” Giggling, she stood with difficulty.

“You okay, babe?” Wil supported her.

“I need to go the the bathroom, Wil. I’m fine.”

“Again? You just went five minutes ago.”

“And I’ll probably go again in five more minutes. Try having an eight pound weight on your bladder and see how you feel!” Playfully smacking his hand away, she walked to the bathroom.

Wil followed her with his eyes, worry all over his face. “I don’t know how we’re going to get her out of here safely. She can’t walk all that way, it could take months. Based on what we saw of the indigenous life around here, it’s dangerous as hell. We have no weapons, no food and no water. The suits are good for a week, but we could be a lot longer than that. Hell, we could walk for years and never get back. I think we can find our way out of here all right. I have my doubts about finding our way home.”

“We might find a teleporter,” Marc suggested.

“And risk that with a pregnant woman?” Wil shook his head adamantly. “If it were just the three of us, I’d say fuck it and run for the roses. We can’t do that with Matilda, not with the baby—” His voice trailed off as she came out of the bathroom.

“You’ve been talking about me, I can see it all over your faces.” Smiling, she sat heavily by Wil. “You don’t look happy. I thought we had a plan. We do have a plan, don’t we?”

“Yes, of sorts. But, Matilda, think about it for a moment. This is a big planet, who knows how deep we are. Maybe the shaft is our best approach. We could be wandering around for days, weeks or years with no way out! I can’t risk that.”

“You mean you can’t do it with a fat lady in tow.” Her eyes sparked dangerously.

“No, Matilda, that isn’t what I mean and you know it.”

“I’d slow you down, I get that. Do you think I don’t realize what a liability I am right now? If I weren’t pregnant, we could run out of here and never look back.”

Wil took both her hands in his, their rings gliding over one another. Lowering his voice, he spoke calmly.

“What I’m saying is that you and Mariah are too precious to risk in this place. Even without the baby, I wouldn’t risk you in this environment. The shaft is really our best bet.”

“I won’t go back in that shaft, Wil. I’m sorry. No, I’m not sorry! I’m being irrational, I know, but we nearly died in there! I won’t go back!”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Shakazhan – Lone Wolf Book 2

Where Lone Wolf left off, Shakazhan begins.

Three years after leaving Mining Guild Headquarters on Aolani, Wil and Matilda find themselves on the isolated planet of Iyundo. they followed Wil’s psychotic son, John Riley, who is on a quest to release an imprisoned Kahlea.

The Kahlea, a beast so powerful, it can kill with its mind, has called to John, demanding that he come and release it from his prison. John leads his father to Iyundo, escaping from his clutches at the last possible moment.

On the long deserted planet in deep, forgotten space, Wil and Matilda watch as their quarry sets the controls on an ancient transport device and disappears into the vastness of space. With a little help from their friends, Wil & Matilda follow him to a place from myth and legend—Shakazhan!

Excerpt from Shakazhan – Lone Wolf Book 2

The cavern they entered dwarfed the other one. The ships inside were enormous. Flotilla and Hannibal could fit in there easily with room to spare. The design was unlike anything Wil had ever seen. The ships were shaped like horizontal teardrops, the narrow end foremost and the full end aft. The colors ranged from dull gray to a lustrous blue. The hulls shifted color as they walked by, particularly if Wil and Matilda spoke or touched them.

Wil laid his hand on one. It throbbed like a gigantic heart. To their right, a green light flashed rapidly, accompanied with odd, piercing, urgent sounds. The High Elder motioned them to follow. It took several minutes, but soon they were close enough to see blue and red and amber yellow had joined the display.

“Wil, I think it’s singing to us! Listen!” Matilda approached, mesmerized.
The ship was a deep, rich peacock blue. Larger than those below, it dwarfed any ship Wil had seen. Even the huge Guild ore transports weren’t this big. He felt like an ant in comparison.

Reaching up to the ship, Matilda’s hand smoothed the side. “It is singing!”
The tune changed when she touched it. Removing her hand, she heard the sounds modulate yet again. She stroked the hull of the ship, the colors shifted, altered and realigned themselves following the movement of her hand. A contented purr vibrated under her palm.

“Wil, it’s alive! Feel it!”

She grabbed his hand before he could pull away. Their two left hands brushed the hull together, hers atop his. The skin of the ship glowed a vibrant red, changing gradually to orange, flickered to dark yellow, settling to blue again.

Wil laid both his hands beside each other, leaning against the ship, placing his cheek to the side. As he moved back from it, the imprint of the outline of his face and hands remained for a moment, gradually receding.

“By God, Matilda, you’re right!”

The smiles of Felix and the High Elder confirmed their suspicions.

“I’ve heard legends of ships like this, but never expected to see one! This is incredible!”

Grabbing Matilda’s hand, Wil dragged her around the side of the ship, looking for an opening. About twenty feet from the point, a doorway appeared where none had been before. Steps descended, the ship molding them from its skin, forming depressions for their feet. They entered excitedly. Moments later, Felix, The High Elder and Aisulov joined them.
The sight greeting their eyes was one they hardly expected. The inside was ultra high tech, the instrumentation so advanced, they could only imagine what most of it was. The consoles had an Art Nouveau feel, with flowing lines and organic shapes. Here too, the colors melded and shifted.

“She’s beautiful!” Matilda’s eyes glowed happily as she walked around.

© 2014 Dellani Oakes

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Love to Color? Have I Got a Book for You!

doodle your stress volume 1 coverI write books. That’s more or less a given. However, not as well known fact, I also doodle. I’ve done this since I was a kid. Anytime I got bored, I doodled pictures on the sides of my note pages. They varied somewhat, but most of the time, they were rockets. I’ve often reflected on that, and came to the conclusion that this was because I wanted to escape the boredom of the class.

When I got to be in 6th or 7th grade, a friend of mine showed me something she had done – abstract doodles on tinfoil. That really sparked my imagination. Not only did I have cool shapes, I had the embossed feel and glitter of the foil. However, my mother didn’t much like me hogging all her foil, so I started doing it on paper. The margins of my note pages changed, getting much more creative and interesting. It kept me relaxed and able to listen to lectures instead of daydreaming as much.

My doodles have progressed and changed over the years, and are far different from the juvenile scribbles. I find myself making a lot of flowers or geometric shapes. I like the flowers because they flow so easily onto the page. I also like the geometric shapes because they are more exact and challenging. All my original designs are done on scratch paper with a mechanical pencil. I trace over them to scan and share. If you notice any double lines or other flaws on the book pages, this is why. These images are 100% handmade, therefore, not perfect. I want them that way. To me, the feel of the pencil on the paper is as important as the image itself. When I’m bored or stressed, I grab paper and pencil and doodle away.

I hope you will find the doodles as relaxing and comforting as I do. The designs are best colored with pencils or fine markers. Have fun, go wild! Bring color to these black and white pages. Also, you’ll notice there are a couple of blank pages in the back. This was a result of the book layout, but you can use them to make your own doodles. Have fun, experiment, enjoy.

I’m currently working on Volume 2 and I hope to have it out by Christmas. Meanwhile, sit back, relax and doodle your stress away!

I noticed after the book went live, that I’d accidentally used the same design twice. Even with hours of looking it over, examining the proof and having others look at it, I’d missed it. I’ve put in another file up, but for those of you who have already bought it, I’m posting a free image for you to print and color. In fact, I gave you a bonus! Anyone can have fun with them. Enjoy!

doodle bookmark

This is the new one in the book

bookmarks

And This Is a Bonus!

Enjoy!!

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

Get yours today!

Lone Wolf – Book 1 by Dellani Oakes

Lone Wolf – sci-fi adventure at its best! The year is 3032 and mankind has expanded far beyond Earth’s galaxy. Matilda Dulac is a member of the Galactic Mining Guild. With her lover, Marc Slatterly, she works in a small mining ship in deep space. Their well ordered life if suddenly thrown into chaos when one miner arrives with a load of Trimagnite, a highly toxic liquid ore. Enter the Lone Wolf. Wil VanLipsig, known as the Lone Wolf, arrives to take the Trigmagnite off their hands. Is it a coincidence for him to show up on Marc’s ship years after Marc thought he’d killed Wil? Or is this the beginning of something far more insidious? The Lone Wolf is book in a new science fiction series by Dellani Oakes. Below is an excerpt from Lone Wolf. Wil has just arrived on the mining vessel where Matilda and Marc serve together. It’s obvious fairly early on that something isn’t right between the two men.

Marc opened the door to the docking bay. The other ship had attached and the airlock was pressurizing. As the door spiraled open, Matilda sensed a shudder pass through Marc. He raised his weapon, covering the entrance.

Slowly, with a casual air, a man entered the airlock. Nearly as tall as Marc, he was leaner of build. His curly, dark brown hair fell to his shoulders. He stood still while Rubee scanned his identification tag before releasing the force shield in front of him.

He wore a black eye patch over his left eye and a scar ran from his left temple to the corner of his lips. It was an old scar, worn and somewhat sunken. A slight stubble of beard shaded the lower half of his face, all but the scar line, leaving a pale crescent in the dark. His uncovered eye glittered, black and dangerous in his ruggedly handsome face. Holding his arms from his sides, he waited as Rubee scanned him for weapons. Finding none, she gave clearance for him to pass.

He stepped forward, lighting a dark, thin object. The pungent odor of a cheroot filled the confined space. Squinting past the smoke, he gazed into Marc’s eyes. Marc’s weapon remained pointed at the other man’s head, his calm expression strangely predatory.

Their visitor sized Matilda up with a glance, dismissing her as non-threatening. He puffed on his cheroot thoughtfully. A crooked grin cracked his face in half, the scar pulling his left lip up at an odd angle.

“Marc, it’s been a long time.” He held out his hand.

Marc remained aloof, not taking his eyes off the visitor, lowering his weapon or acknowledging the proffered hand.

“Kind of a cold reception, isn’t it?” His voice was rasping and low.

The smile was replaced by a slight frown, a hint of sadness in the obsidian eye. Then the same placid expression took its place. Nothing in Marc’s face betrayed what he was thinking or feeling.

Marc spoke calmly. “Commander Dulac, please show Colonel VanLipsig to the lounge.”

“Of course, sir.” Looking puzzled, she did as he asked, feeling his eyes on her.

Marc followed, covering the man from the rear. When they had seated themselves, Matilda ordered three cups of joe from the synthunit. Marc kept his weapon out on his knee with his hand resting upon it.

The other fellow leaned back, seemingly unconcerned and at ease. Taking a sip of the joe, he grimaced, glancing down at his cup before matching his gaze with Marc’s.

“I know we parted under difficult circumstances, but is this really necessary? I’m here to do a job, nothing more.” He carefully kept his hands in plain view, moving slowly, talking with deliberate ease.

Marc looked at him blankly. “I thought you were dead, Wil.”

VanLipsig nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “You were sure you killed me.” His voice was flat, toneless, unemotional. He shrugged casually, tilting his head to the left. “I got better.” There was a flash of a chilling smile.

“The reports….”

“The reports of my death were greatly exaggerated,” VanLipsig quipped, dark eye glittering mischievously.

Marc’s fist dented the metal table with a furious blow. “Dammit, Wil! Can’t you stay dead?”

VanLipsig threw back his head, laughing caustically. The laugh became a long, high-pitched, chilling howl. Matilda felt a shiver run through her to the very bone. She did her best not to show it, but a subtle shift of her bearing betrayed her. His gaze penetrated her soul, laying it bare, finding it wanting.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me to the lady, Marc?”

“No.”

Marc hid his anger, but Matilda knew he was furious. His attitude toward VanLipsig was puzzling. They seemed to have known one another for years, obviously parting on less than amicable terms. Though VanLipsig seemed to harbor no ill will, Marc certainly did.

“May I present myself, ma’am? I’m Colonel Wilhelm VanLipsig, also known as the Lone Wolf. Perhaps you’ve heard of me?” He attempted to look humble. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.” His glance flicked to her nametag and insignia, dark eye lingering hungrily on her chest. “Commander Dulac.” His mouth formed the words, enjoying the feel of the consonants on his tongue. He waited patiently for a response. Getting none, his eye locked with hers, curious, intrigued. “Do you speak?”

Matilda studied him quizzically, raising an eyebrow. “There seemed little to say.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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This Lovely New Cover by Suzette Vaughn

It Takes a Thief by Dellani Oakes

Jason Banes is a thief, a fact he freely admits. What he isn’t, is a murderer. Unfortunately, when a job goes horribly wrong, he’s arrested and on trial for robbery—and the murder of six innocent hostages. At first, he’s reluctant to admit he had an accomplice, but eventually he tells the judge he was a victim as well. The perpetrator is a cold-hearted woman known only as Orchid. When the victims’ families stand up for him, Jason is released into the custody of Special Agent in Charge Taylor Driscole, who heads up a team of FBI agents. Their job? To protect Jason and help him find Orchid before she strikes again.

Below is an excerpt from It Takes a Thief, a romantic suspense novel.

“How the hell did you get all that? When?” She grabbed her lipgloss possessively.

“Moments ago. Don’t worry, I’d never keep it.” He blew her a kiss. “Not my color.”

She swatted him, laughing.

“Handy tricks,” Tim said. “What else can you do?”

“This stuff’s easy,” Jason said. “You should see me play cards.” He winked. “Never, ever play a serious game of poker with me. I’ll wipe you all out. I play for fun and to see what I can get away with. I’ll show you what to look for.”

They practiced another hour or so, but didn’t make nearly the progress Jason wanted with his left hand.

“I’ll get you back here with Lloyd,” Tim said. “He’s left handed and can give you some pointers. We’ll set something up for later this week. Meanwhile, let’s police the area. Leave it like we found it!”

They set up fresh targets, put away the safety gear and stowed everything where it had come from.

Greg took out the garbage and the rest of them cleaned up inside until the facility was as perfect as it had been before they used it.

“Thank you,” Jason said, shaking Tim’s hand. “I feel much better. Won’t feel perfect until we catch Orchid, but at least I feel less of a target. Can I leave a note for your brother?”

“Sure.” He found paper and a pen for Jason.

The was far longer than Tim anticipated. Glancing at it over Jason’s shoulder, he laughed. The writing was tiny, precise and perfectly lined, although it was typing paper.

“What’s all this?”

“He’s got some security issues. I made a few suggestions. His safe for one. I could get through it with a pair of nail clippers and a set of tweezers.”

Tim laughed, shaking his head. “You’re kidding!”

“Serious. I’d open it, but that’d be bad manners.”

“I’m not sure how much he’ll appreciate this,” Tim said glumly.

“He’ll appreciate it. Might piss him off a bit, but I’ll bet he fixes it up. Leave it in the cash register.” He thumped it with his fist and the drawer popped open. “That’s number two after the safe.” He winked, strutting after Greg to the SUV. He hopped in the back and Alex slid in after him

“Cocky, English bastard,” Tim said, laughing. He put the note to his brother in the cash register and closed the drawer. “Wonder if I should warn him that it’s there?” He asked Taylor

“It will make more impact if he sees it on his own,” she replied.

“Yeah. That’s what I’m afraid of.”

They talked about their day as they drove back to Jason’s house by a different route. It took longer than Jason anticipated, but he figured Tim was mixing it up some in case they were being followed.

There were more vehicles in his driveway and several people moved around looking important. They were armed technicians, checking his house. Instead of staying around in their way, he and the team went upstairs. There too, they found a great deal of activity.

“Fancy a game of bowling?” Jason asked casually. “Gets us out of the way. Or perhaps some poker?”

“I want to learn how to lift Taylor’s lipgloss,” Greg said with a chuckle.

“Got to find it first,” she said with a smirk. “I moved it.”

“Yeah?” Jason said. “Nice spot. Easy.” He held it up again.

Taylor snatched at it, face flushing as she tried not to laugh. “Oh, you bad man! How did you know?”

“Women have a tendency to use purses, pockets or bras. You’re not carrying a purse, it wasn’t in your pocket….” He smirked, handing it back to her. “I prefer that hiding place,” he said, eyeing her chest. “More of a challenge.”

“I should beat you for that,” she snarled. However, she couldn’t hide her smile.

“You could do. But I might enjoy it.”

“Enough!” Greg said loudly. “Forget I said anything.”

He was angry, jealous and the exchange had made him realize once more how attracted he still was to Taylor himself. He’d been that close to her breasts once or twice, but not lately.

“Sorry, mate. I forget there’s other blokes as hard up as me.” He winked at Greg.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Indian Summer by Dellani Oakes

Indian Summer is an historical romance set in St. Augustine, Florida in 1739, a year before a major siege by the British. Gabriella Deza, the daughter of the Spanish governor, is fast approaching womanhood. Her fifteenth birthday looms on the horizon. She is completely taken by surprise when her father’s aide-de-camp, Manuel Enriques, declares his love and asks to accompany her to her birthday party.

Indian Summer isn’t currently available, but will be re-released the summer of 2017 along with the sequel, Savage Heart!

Excerpt from Indian Summer

“This is my dance, I believe, Señorita Deza.”

Manuel locked eyes with the next candidate for treading on my toes, who cowered under his look. Nodding rapidly, the little rabbit of a man retreated to the corner behind Clara and seemed to take her as his shield of defense.

I graced him with my sincere smile and said, “I promise the next dance is yours, señor.”

He bobbed his head rapidly again, retreating even further.

Manuel spoke from the corner of his mouth as we walked to the dance floor. “I don’t think you will have to honor that promise, my sweet.”

Chortling, I replied with a coquettish toss of my hair. “Why, Señor Enriques, do you intend to intimidate every man here?”

He chuckled secretively as he turned me in a circle under his arm. “If need be, my dear. If need be. I shall have you to myself.” He put special emphasis on “shall” as he spun me again and the music began.

Quiet at first, I listened with only half my attention. Suddenly, the orchestra erupted in a wave of the most exciting music I had ever heard! The guitars hammered loudly, the percussion began a beat I was familiar with. The music echoed the pounding of my heart. Manuel chuckled, seeing the surprised look upon my face.

“Do you like my choice? It’s a special request I gave them. A dance just for us!” He spun me again, three times in succession.

“I don’t know this dance!” I gasped. “I don’t know the steps!”

“Listen to the music, Bella. You know this. You feel it in your blood! Would I ever embarrass you? Follow my lead and you will be free!”

The music continued slowly, just a hint of notes on a single guitar. Manuel led me in a few gentle steps, ending in a deep dip. The tempo changed, accelerating into a fast, syncopated rhythm. He swept me into the most amazing dance! The music crashed into me in wave after wave of excitement. The power of it washed over us, setting my heart pounding in my chest with a beat at the same time unnatural, but as much a part of me as breathing.

We spun, stepped, dipped, clapped, stomped and when we got to the end I realized I had just danced my first Flamenco. I had seen this dance many times. The country folk in Spain danced this at their celebrations. The music and tradition had followed us to this new land, where they danced it at festivals. Manuel led me off the dance floor, both of us a little breathless and perspiring. It was then I noticed no one else had joined us in the dance. I looked up at him with a question on my lips. He shrugged casually.

“I asked for a dance alone with you. The gentlemen politely complied.”

I narrowed my eyes, feigning a glare. “How much did you threaten them?” I was teasing and he knew it.

He held his fingers about an inch apart. “Perhaps, this much?”

Our laughter filled the courtyard as the next dance began. The orchestra seemed rather let down after the Flamenco. I believe it had been the highlight of their evening as well as mine.

“I need something to drink.” My throat was dry and scratchy and I felt hot all over.

Manuel bowed, kissing my fingers, making his way to the punch. As rapidly as they could without being unseemly, my sisters rushed to my side.

“Bella,” Maria chirped. “Where did you ever learn to dance like that! My goodness, I’ve never seen anyone dance the way the two of you did!” Their eyes glowed with happy envy.

“I didn’t really know the dance, but Manuel is a strong lead. Was it really so exciting?”

“Exciting?” Maria grabbed my hand to her heart. “My land, girl, I’m all of a flutter! If a man were to ask me into the bushes now, I think I’d go willingly.” She giggled. “My insides are on fire.”

Irena didn’t speak, but she didn’t need to. Her blush from her cleavage to her hairline told me she felt the same way. “That was the naughtiest dance I’ve ever seen! And magnificent!” Irena’s eyes glittered. “I should feel as if I had lived a full life indeed, if only I could dance like that once! I don’t think Jason knows Flamenco.” She pouted, looking disappointed.

Maria nudged her. “Jason is a fine man, Rena, but he has no ‘Fire’ to him.”

Irena bristled at this. “He has plenty of fire!”

“Yes, if you like a slow burn.” Maria shrugged. “Now that Captain Du Pont, there is a man with fire blazing in his soul.”

I thought my sisters were about to come to blows, when Manuel approached us. He smiled warmly, extending a tray with three cups of punch.

“Am I interrupting something, ladies? If so, I’ll take my leave.” He made as if to walk off.

Maria grabbed his arm shaking her finger at him. “No you don’t, you naughty man! What a spectacle you made out there!”

She was teasing, I hoped he would be able to tell. In reply, he caught her hand and spun her around under his arm. Then he lowered her into a dip that had her nearly horizontal to the floor! All this with one hand, for he still carried the tray and didn’t spill a drop! Raising her slowly, hardly seeming to strain with her weight, he locked eyes with her and his gaze burned into her soul.

“No, not naughty, my dear Maria. I’m wicked.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Conduct Unbecoming – A Florida Families Novel

Have you ever read a book that just made an impact on you? Well, that is exactly what Ninja Tattoo did for me!! I was so intrigued by Teague that I just needed more. I had to contact the author and beg her to write another book with Teague. Conduct Unbecoming is just that. Dellani does not disappoint in this book at all. She remained true to her characters and even added me as a new character! The question now is, how do I Get Dellani to write book 3? ~ Aileen Aroma

Welcome to Florida where there are sandy beaches, balmy breezes—and dead bodies on the beach. Unfortunately, the police suspect Teague’s friend, and former battle buddy, of the killing. Teague knows Nadeya is innocent, but proving it won’t be easy. She’s disappeared and the last anyone heard from her, she was looking for this man in connection with her fiancé’s murder.

Teague needs to find Nadeya before the police do. He must discover who killed the man on the beach and protect his friends and loved ones. Fortunately, he’s not alone. Joined once more by his cousin, Joel McMurtry, they are augmented by one more—Jasper Waters. He’s another police officer and former Marine. Adding to their numbers are Vivica, Teague’s fiancée, Nadeya and her best friend, Aileen. The bad guys really don’t stand a chance.

Join Teague and friends when they dodge bullets, rescue kidnapped victims and take an the airboat ride of their lives. It’s an adventure they won’t ever forget—provided they live through it.

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Excerpt from Conduct Unbecoming

Nadeya waited with her back to the brick wall of the Sheriff’s Department. Her dark glasses concealed a good bit of her face, her hair obscured much of the rest. She wore it down and the black tendrils fluttered wildly in the breeze off the river. A tang of briny water reached Teague’s nostrils. He smiled, telling Nadeya of the change of plans before placing the call to Isobel.

He told her how to find Old Fort Park and strolled north with Nadeya. They passed the small county courthouse on their left. Teague smiled at a couple of the officers out on break. They were having a smoke, but watching their environment.

Slowing down, Nadeya stiffened. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“No. But I don’t see a choice here. We could use her help. Her husband has connections.”

A silver Maserati circled the park, stopping at the sign on the corner. Teague waved.

“How did you know it was Isobel?”

“No one else around here drives a Maserati. She always had expensive tastes.”

The window scrolled down. Teague told her where to go park. He and Nadeya followed on foot. He was pleased to see that there were no other people in the park. Scanning the landscape, he took in details. Two men to the northwest on bikes, near Isobel’s car. They were vagrants, but mostly harmless. No doubt, they were making Isobel nervous. The Maserati would attract their attention, as would the woman driving it.

To the south, he spotted a car and that was basically it for at least two blocks all around. There was some activity at City Hall, but not enough to matter. The two of them walked over to Isobel’s car. The men on bikes moved on, leering at Nadeya and giving Teague a thumb’s up.

“Friends of yours?” she asked.

“No, but I know ’em.”

“You know everyone.”

“Not really.”

She made a face. “Even—over there—you knew everyone. You can walk in a room full of people and know their life stories and be pals with them two hours later. I don’t know how you do it. You never met a stranger.”

Teague chuckled. “I’m shy as hell, just full of blarney. I learned from my dad.”

Isobel got out of her car, clicking the remote. She wore black Louboutin’s covered with spikes. Her black pencil skirt was slit on both sides. The ruffles on her black silk blouse fluttered in the wind. Her hair was up in a French twist and she wore a pair of pink Louis Vuitton sunglasses that cost roughly the same amount as Teague’s monthly rent. The wind changed and her scent wafted toward him, making Teague’s nostrils twitch. He’d always loved the way she smelled. There was something bold and commanding about it that made him feel weak. He stumbled.

Nadeya nudged him, giving him an odd look.

“Sorry,” he whispered.

His companion ogled the front of his pants, making him blush. How could Isobel have that effect on him after all this time? He loved Vivica, but here he was sporting a boner for another woman.

“I will pound you, McTeague,” Nadeya gritted her teeth as she muttered. “Put that away!”

Isobel stepped forward, arms open to Nadeya. The other woman stood well away, wary and cautious. The hairs on Teague’s neck rose. Something wasn’t right. Even as careful as they’d been, someone had followed them. Nadeya felt it too. Immediately, the two of them eyed their environment. Across the bridge on a small, innocuous island, sunlight hit metal where none should be.

Reacting instinctively, Teague grabbed Nadeya, pulling her down. His body slammed into the concrete, though she landed on the grass. The window of the Maserati exploded. Broken glass flew in every direction as the bullet buried itself in the headrest.

Isobel screamed hysterically, dropping awkwardly to the ground. Pieces of glass peppered her skin with blood, but she was otherwise unhurt.

“I didn’t know. I swear I didn’t know!” she screamed. “I didn’t know he’d do this.”

Teague rose to his knees. Another bullet ripped open the ground beside his right hand. Fucker can’t shoot worth dick. Rolling to his left, he took cover behind a huge live oak. He tried to see the island from this position, but it was blocked by the corner of the marina and the angle of the bridge. Dialing the police, he reported the shooting, knowing the gunman would be long gone before they arrived.

© Dellani Oakes 2017

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Room 103 – a Marice Houston Mystery

Room 103 is a romantic suspense book set in Pittsburg, Kansas. Why, you might ask? Because that’s where I was when I thought of it.

Marice Houston is a Deputy Marshal stationed in Kansas City, Missouri. She’s back in Pittsburg for her tenth college reunion. Staying at a small motel, she becomes friendly with the owner, a man who used to teach at the college, Todd Englund.

Events spin wildly out of control after Marice leaves her weapon and badge in the motel safe for security purposes. Todd is accosted by Orson Roberts, who believes that Todd killed his daughter. Using her weapon, Todd kills Roberts in self-defense. Or did he? Marice dives right in to investigate, determined to find out what happened in Room 103.

Excerpt from Room 103

“I don’t want the money!” the loud male voice boomed out from the motel owner’s apartment.

Eavesdropping shamelessly, I waited to see if it turned ugly, hand on my phone in case I needed to call someone. There was a lot of anger radiating from that room.

“I just want a letter of apology, acknowledgment of what they did to me.”

“Come on, Englund, he wants you to have the money for pain and suffering. A public apology….”

“Would simply open old wounds—mine. I do all right here. I make a decent living. If it’s all over the papers, it makes it fresh. Regardless of the apology, people are stupid and superstitious. I’ll be ruined—again. Only I won’t bounce back a second time.”

“At least take the money.”

“It feels like blood money.”

“It is. Yours. It took a lot of convincing to get old man Roberts to open his tight fist and give you this. I had hoped for more, would have settled for less. Please.” The other man’s voice was calm, conciliatory. “Please. You deserved a better shake, Todd. I couldn’t get it for you then, but you have it now.”

There was a quiet rustle as if an envelope were being opened. A sharp gasp followed.

“This much?”

“It’s still not enough. I tried to convince him that your salary would have increased over the years, but he determined a flat rate, based on your pay at the time. He’s not the most astute businessman in the state for nothing. Your salary, times ten. But I did get a bump to an even six.”

“Even with this money, I can’t afford to pay you, Regan.”

“The judge made Roberts pay me. I earned nearly as much as you, but I refused to take even a penny over. You’re the victim, you deserve the most. Oh, by the way, Roberts wants you to sign a letter of receipt.”

“Not on your life. Not until I get my apology.”

“Exactly what I said. To that end, he wants to meet at his office tomorrow.”

“Not on his turf. I don’t want the officious bastard to sneak in cameras for a photo op.”

“Also what I told him. So, he agreed to meet here, tomorrow at ten a.m.”

“That’s checkout time. Everyone will see him and I’ll be busy. Tell him either six a.m., or ten p.m. His choice. We’re making this easy for me, not him. And he can hand me the check personally, along with my letter.”

The paper rustled again.

“As you wish. I’ll call with the time.”

Their voices sounded closer. I rushed to the inner lobby door and opened it as if I’d just come in. Two men walked out of the back room, looking grim and determined. One was about six foot one, dressed in jeans and a Bob Marley T-shirt. His hair was black and carefully mussed to look casual. Or maybe he simply didn’t care how it looked. The other man was slightly shorter, broad shouldered, blond, clean cut, wearing an expensive suit. Both appeared surprised when they saw me, especially when their eyes took in details and noticed I was sporting a gun. It was clearly visible with my jacket open and my hand on the doorknob. Stopping in their tracks, they each took a step back. T-shirt guy started to raise his hands, his blue eyes riveted on my shoulder holster.

“I’m Marice Houston. I have a reservation. Sorry I’m late. Traffic from Kansas City was a bear.”

T-shirt guy relaxed, smiling. He moved easily to the computer on the counter. “Of course, Ms. Houston. Your room is all set. No feather pillows or duvet and no pets, as well as non-smoking.”

“Thank you.”

“The chairs are vinyl in this room. The blankets are washed weekly and the pillows are fluffed in the drier after every guest. I hope you’ll be comfortable.” He flashed a dazzling smile, his bright blue eyes twinkling behind black framed glasses.

I handed over my driver’s license and credit card. Tall-Dark-and-Blue-Eyes talked easily as he worked, his long, lean fingers stroking the keyboard as he typed. He was breathtakingly handsome and I wondered if he was aware of his own appeal.

The other man stood still, in the relative safety afforded by the counter. His hazelnut brown eyes watched every move I made. I nicknamed him Slick in my mind. He was also good looking and completely aware of it. He dressed for success and that probably carried over to the bedroom. I got the distinct impression that people never said No to this man—especially not women.

Blue-Eyes handed over my license and credit card, flashing another blinding smile. “You’re in room one forty-seven, in the next building down. Third room from this end.” He pulled over a laminated map of the small complex. “You’re here.” He pointed to my room. “The ice machine and laundry are here.” He pointed to the front end of the building. “If it’s out of ice, there’s also a machine here.” He pointed to another area of the map.

I wasn’t looking at the map, but at his hands. He had long, strong fingers, broad palms with a scattering of black hair on the back, and a dash on the lower knuckle. His nails were short and clean—not so much manicured as neatly clipped and filed. I looked up from the map to see him eyeing me questioningly.

“Have we met? You look really familiar. I have this feeling of déjà-vu, like I knew you long ago.”

I cleared my throat, shaking back my hair. I could hardly breathe when those blue eyes focused fully on me. “I—uh—I was in school here. Seems like ages ago.”

“College?”

“Yes. Go Rillas!” I giggled, sounding like a little girl. Suddenly, I’d reverted to the breathless, silly co-ed of nearly 15 years ago.

He chuckled. “I know I’ve seen you before. A face like yours… I couldn’t forget.”

My fingers fluttered to my burning cheeks. His scrutiny was too much for a woman like me. I never did well with male attention. Even though I carry a gun and badge, a handsome, confident man can still make me revert to the shrinking violet.

“I hope that’s a good thing.”

He handed me my key card with a gentle smile, his blue eyes caressing my face. “It’s a very good thing. It will come to me. Enjoy your stay, Ms. Houston.”

“Thank you.”

The other man cleared his throat. “You got a license for the weapon, Miss?”

Slick struck a nerve. Glaring keenly, his square jaw jutted forward. He was ridiculously handsome, but cold. Not like Blue-Eyes, not at all. This was a man of authority who wielded it like a knife.

“I have something better.” I flipped open my jacket, showing the opposite side of my belt. A marshal’s badge glittered in the fluorescent lights of the office. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I want a shower and a meal.”

Blue-Eyes, slightly taken aback by the badge, rallied quickly, handing me a menu. “If you want to order in, the places with a gold star give our guests discounts. Everything from pizza to Thai.”

“Thank you.” I gave him a tight smile, glared at the other man and turned on my heel, marching to the door.

“Did you have to do that, Regan?” I heard Blue-Eyes say as the door closed.

Todd, I reminded myself. Todd Englund. The name resonated in my memory for some reason. Vaguely, faintly, but with an abiding assurance that it wasn’t in a good way.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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