Character Quote from One Night in Daytona Beach – by Dellani

One_Night_in_Daytona_Beach_by_Dellani_Oakes - 500“I’ve missed you, Jamie.”

Shivering, she held his face as directed, giving him a kiss. “Me, too.”

“Seeing anyone?”

“Not really.”

They straddled the bike again, with her in front, holding the handlebars. His long, sinewy thighs clenched against hers from behind.

“Is that a yes or no? I don’t speak Biker Babe anymore.”

“No one steady.”

“Does he think that?”

Jamie blushed, turning her head to look at him. “Why all the questions, Wick? Got some burning desire to know all my secrets?”

Draven nibbled her neck, cheating the angle a little, so he was still camera ready. “I’ve got a burning desire, Humphrey, but it isn’t about your secrets.”

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Character Quotes from The Ninja Tattoo by Dellani

The Ninja Tattoo by Dellani Oakes - 200Vivica grabbed the dogs off him since they had progressed to smelling parts of him better left alone. The smallest was a Jack Russell.

“That one is Pesky,” Vivica said as the little one leaped four feet in the air trying to get in Teague’s arms. “The middle child is Evita and the big one is Rex.”

“Hello Pesky, Evita and Rex,” Teague said, scratching them all behind the ears.

Pesky followed him, still trying to get him to hold her. He finally picked her up and she yipped delightedly. Evita licked his shoe and Rex sat opposite him staring. He looked like he was part something very large, like an Irish Wolfhound or possibly a horse. Evita looked like a beagle blend. They all seemed to accept him, delighted at his presence. While he held Pesky, winning her over completely by rubbing her belly, Vivica made coffee.

“I hope you don’t have to get up too early,” she said.

“I can be a little late with Scott. He’s not an early riser anyway and he’ll understand once I tell him why I’m late.”

“Oh? What will you tell him?” Her green eyes held a reprimand, thinking he would make fun.

“I’ll tell him I was getting to know the most beautiful woman in the world.”

Her eyes and smile softened, her lip trembling as tears threatened to fall. “You have this way of blindsiding me with compliments, Teague McMurtry. Why are you so damn adorable?”

He smiled, his voice dropping into the delicious, dark chocolate range. “It’s easy to compliment a woman when all I have to do is tell the truth. You are beautiful, vivacious, magnificent, stunning and seductive.” He set the dog down, walking over to where she stood. “I want you to tie me up in your hair and never let me go.” He took handfuls of her hair, bringing them to his lips, inhaling deeply as he buried his face in her dark tresses.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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I’m Baaack!

Undiscovered by Dellani Oakes - 500I haven’t posted here in ages. I’m sure most of you have forgotten this page even exists. Honestly, I mostly had myself. I hate to see it neglected, so I decided to share some excerpts like I do on a couple of other sites. The idea for Character Quotes came from my good friend, Jd Holiday.

For my first Character Quote, I’m drawing on one of my romantic suspense novels, Undiscovered. Conner Griswald, the brother of famous movie mogul, Kent Griswald, has been shot on Daytona Beach. Cadence Stewart is the only witness to the perpetrator’s precipitous exit from her condo building.

Beach Patrol officers cleared the crowd and Cadence glimpsed someone lying spread-eagle on the sand, a blaze of red on his chest. Hearing sirens outside, she tore herself away and hurried downstairs. Two uniformed officers arrived in the lobby just as she got off the elevator. Cadence approached, identifying herself. The officers went with her to the fourth floor.

“He ran down the stairs?” The first officer asked.

“Yes. He was in the apartment I was showing. He ran along the corridor and into the stairwell.”

“We’ll need to dust it for prints,” the second officer said, then spoke into his radio.

“I doubt you’ll find anything. He was wearing gloves.”

“You could tell from a distance?” The second officer sounded skeptical.

“He was only a few yards away. Besides, they were black. He also had on a black ski mask.”

“Way to be inconspicuous,” the first officer said with a smirk.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Join Us for Christmas in July! Monday, July 25 on Facebook

What’s that I hear? Sleigh bells? Can it be Santa? What’s he doing outside my window in July? He’s looking for the Christmas in July Event hosted by Maria DeVivo on Facebook July 25

Smart Santa! Authors from all genres and all over the world are taking turns chatting, playing games, giving away prizes and freebies from 10:00 a.m. To 8:00 p.m. Eastern time (9 CDT, 8 MDT, 7 PDT)

And the coolest part? Dellani is there from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EDT to talk about her romantic suspense book, Room 103. Join us for a fun filled day. We’re going to have a blast!

 

Participating Authors and Their Times

10 – 11 am Barbara Ehrentreu

11 am to 12 pm Uvi Poznansky

12 – 1 pm Barb Caffrey

1 – 2 pm Dellani Oakes

2 – 3 pm Rebecca Vickers

3 – 4 pm Viv Drewa

4 – 5 pm K.L. Nappier

5 – 6 pm Christine Amsden

6 – 7 pm Chris Pasqueralle

7 -8 pm Maria DeVivo

room 103 front cover

Cover by Suzette Vaughn

 

May I Misquote You?

This was originally written June 2, 2010, for my Fun in Writing group. The topic for the week was a special adage. Since I couldn’t really get my head around that, I wrote this instead. ~ Dellani

I couldn’t think of anything to fit this subject, so I changed it up a little to quotes that are frequently misquoted. Shakespeare suffers a lot from this, but so do movies, plays, books and even songs.

One that springs to mind, since I just saw it on DVD, is from Hamlet. When he’s in the graveyard and picks up the skull, he’s often misquoted as saying, “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well.” Not so! He says, “Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio.”

A second one, also from Hamlet, when the queen is asked her opinion of the play: “Methinks the lady doth protest too much.” Instead, it’s: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

Another one, this time from MacBeth: “Bubble, bubble toil and trouble.” When if fact, it’s “Double, double toil and trouble.”

Leaving Shakespeare for the moment, let’s reflect on a couple of Bogart movies. The main one misquoted is from Casablanca. It is, of course, in reference to their famous song. So often, this line is not only misquoted, it’s attributed to the wrong character. How often have we seen Bogart impersonators take on the famous overbite and say, “Play it again, Sam.”

He doesn’t even say the line! Ingrid Bergman spoke to Sam and said, “Play it, Sam.”

From another Bogart movie, the famous whistle quote. I’ve always heard, “You know how to whistle, just pucker up and blow.” Lauren Bacall didn’t say that at all. “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” (Though I like pucker up and blow better.)

Moving on to another movie icon, Mae West. We’ve all heard “Come up and see me sometime.” She actually said, “Why don’t you come up some time and see me?”

One of my favorite misquotes of all time was said by Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. Everyone always says, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Poor Harry didn’t say that at all. He said, Ah-ah. I know what you’re thinking: ‘Did he fire six shots, or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But, being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, PUNK?”

So, in conclusion, I leave you with a great quote, (which is correct) and sums up my point perfectly: “What we’ve got here… is a failure to communicate!”

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One Night in Daytona Beach by Dellani Oakes

One_Night_in_Daytona_Beach_by_Dellani_Oakes - 200One Night in Daytona Beach, Dellani Oakes’ newest novel. Part of the Tirgearr Publishing City Nights Series, One Night in Daytona Beach is hot and steamy as a Florida night.

He hadn’t seen her in 10 years, but there she was, dressed in black leather, straddling the Harley. Draven Wick is back home, on a break from filming his vampire themed TV show, when he spots Jamie Humphrey at a Bike Week raffle. The love of his teen life, Draven never thought he’d see her again. Rekindling their romance after 10 years is the easy part. Unfortunately, Draven has been blamed for the death of a notorious bike gang leader. Staying ahead of the police, and the biker gang bent on revenge, takes Jamie and Draven to the brink of disaster.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter 2

The rain cut loose as he pulled into Moose’s driveway. Turning up the collar of his leather biker jacket, he lit his flashlight again and made his way to the back door. This time, the heavy set biker gang leader sat in his favorite easy chair, his glass in one hand, a Marlboro in the other. The door slammed shut behind him, and Draven knew he was in for it.

“Man disrepects me, I thow that man a beaten,” Moose said, nodding to whoever was behind Draven.

He sensed two men. Not letting either of them get a hand on him, Draven pulled a telescoping baton from his boot. With it in one fist, he slammed back as it expanded. His other fist connected with flabby gut and a handful of nuts. Both men grunted. Jumping forward, Draven spun around, his back unavoidably to Moose. The fat leader sat still, enjoying the show. He’d been known to taze people, so Draven risked a glance at him before he faced off with the other two men. Both were big, with bulky muscles and a hefty layer of fat. Big might mean brutal, but it also meant slow. Draven was half their bulk and twice as fast.

The one to his right was Eisley, Moose’s second in command. Snarling, he flipped a knife open. The one of the left put on a pair of brass knuckles. Smiling wickedly, they lunged at Draven. Hopping out of their reach, Draven swatted at them with his baton. They backed him up until his left heel hit the couch. Advancing, they both took a swing at him.

Jumping nearly a meter in the air, Draven did a back flip, landing on the couch. The baton popped forward, slamming the knife from Eisley’s hand before connecting with the knuckles of the other man. He followed up with hits to the balls. Both were on the floor howling when he heard the chair leather creak. Moose made a grab at him, but Draven was too quick. He swung his baton, only to have Moose grab it from him. A sharp crack on his right arm and it went numb from elbow to fingers. Glad he was left handed, Draven punched Moose in the jaw as the fat man raised his arm to strike again. Getting in under his guard, Draven landed a punch to the flabby gut.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Sunshine and Rainbows

I had originally written this article for The Write Room blog, but some peculiarity of my e-mail caused it not to send. Since I was out of town and didn’t have access to it, I wrote something else related to this. I think both are equally good, though this goes into a bit more detail than the other. I finally found it and decided to share it with you here. I felt sharing it on my birthday was auspicious.~ Dellani

IMAG0076As you get older, you learn to appreciate the little things: a special party celebrating birthdays and Mother’s day, Potatoes Anna which comes out perfectly the first time you make it, a piece of music that makes you laugh or moves you to tears every time you hear it. These aren’t necessarily things you notice as a younger person, at least I didn’t.

Today, I’m one step closer to 60. I don’t mention this to brag, or complain, but to give you a bit of perspective. My mother turned 96 on September 14. She didn’t marry until she was 36, had my sister at 38 and didn’t have me until she was 40. Born two weeks premature, I was only 4 pounds and 5 ounces. Had it not been for the invention of the incubator, I probably would have died.

CAM00406But I digress. I want to talk about my mother. She absolutely amazes me. Born in 1919, her life has spanned the mass production of the automobile, a telephone in every home, electric appliances, man on the moon, Desegregation, motion pictures—with and without sound, and a movie star as president. Not to mention computers, cellphones and microwave ovens. She lived through the Great Depression, WWII, The Korean War, Vietnam and countless other conflicts. She’s seen 9 decades and a new century.

Mom grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and has many fascinating stories about it. The youngest of four children, she’s another miracle of modern medicine. As an infant, she developed an infection in both ears. The doctor did surgery and scraped the infection from the mastoid bones, leaving only a small scar behind each ear. By some amazing turn of luck, she didn’t lose her hearing as a result. In fact, like me, it was extra acute. I attribute my superior hearing to her genes.

At Western Reserve College, now Case – Western Reserve, she studied to be an elementary school teacher. She made a long cable car ride there and back, in all kinds of weather. Fairly often, she took a detour, if there was a good movie in town.

I don’t know how I passed my classes,” she admitted a few years ago. “I never went. I was always at the movies.”

This is another connection we share. I am a movie junkie, and it’s one of the reasons I write.

My mother taught elementary school for several years. Once, she had her class write letters to Laura Ingalls Wilder about how much they loved her books. She wrote back to them and my mother treasured her letter for years! I remember it neatly written by hand on lined paper. Mom eventually donated it to one of the Wilder museums.

By some chance, Mom and her older sister, found out about Pine Mountain Settlement School in Kentucky, not far mom 1 croppedfrom Harlan. The school was in need of a bookkeeper and secretary. Though neither of them had any experience, or talent, they applied for the jobs and were hired. The big move from Ohio to Kentucky, big city to small mountain community, would have been quite a culture shock. Rather than being overwhelmed by it, they embraced the rustic setting with enthusiasm and started work. Eventually, Mom became a representative for the school and drove all over the country to present a slide show (with slides she’d taken herself) and talk about the school, asking for donations. She traveled alone all over the country, as far as Orlando, Florida and as far north as New York City—before interstate highways, by the way. She drove her blue Studebaker, which she named Bonnets So Blue, that she bought with her own money before she even knew how to drive it. One of the men at the school taught her how to drive and she took the test in her new car, impressing the fellow administering the test, with her skill.

My parents met, by quirk or fate, at the Harlan bus station. They were both there to drop off friends, and decided to chat over a cup of coffee, and were totally smitten. My father was unable to join the military, due to a heart murmur, so he had pursued his education instead. He was a brilliant man, thirsting for someone to talk to who had even a slight chance of understanding him. He found that in my mother. Though 10 years apart in age, they married November 5, 1955.

Even after they married, my mother continued to work at Pine Mountain, until they eventually moved to Tennessee, where my sister and I were born. They lived near his parents while he worked toward his Masters degree at University of Tennessee. When I was three, we lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while my father got his PdD at Harvard. Eventually landing his first teaching job in Lubbock, Texas, we moved again. With the same indomitable spirit, my mother made that long move from Massachusetts to Texas.

062I was always amazed by the way my mother could find a circle of friends wherever we lived. She kept in touch with people she knew from Cleveland, Pine Mountain, Cambridge, Lubbock, Scottsbluff and Hattiesburg sending out monthly letters via e-mail, until it became too much of an effort. She always loved to read, sharing her favorite books with my sister and me as we grew up. We spent hours learning to knit, crochet and sew while Mom read Little Women, House at Pooh Corner and Alice in Wonderland. It’s because of her strong influence early in my life, that I became enamored of the written word. Because I loved to read, I made the transition to writer and never looked back.

Mom’s eyesight has faded now. She can’t knit or crochet as she used to, nor can she read. She lives a quiet life in a nursing home not far from my sister. It wasn’t an easy decision putting her there, but neither my sister, nor I, have room or the means to have her at home with us. Since she’s in a wheelchair, it makes getting around difficult.

I have hardly touched on my mother’s incredible life. She’s done so much more than I have and she gave me so much. I know that my independent spirit and optimistic view of life is due to her. She never saw the gray clouds in life, she always saw the rays of sunshine and the rainbows.

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One Night in Daytona – Coming Soon!

100_0507I’m pleased to announce that I have a new book coming out in October, from Tirgearr Publishing. One Night in Daytona is part of the amazing erotic romance series, City Nights. Below is an excerpt from the first few pages of the book. I hope you’ll look for One Night in Daytona, coming October 28. I will keep you posted on pre-orders. Meanwhile, enjoy the teaser below.

Long, dangerous legs, an ass that wouldn’t quit, lush curves clad in skimpy black leather, flaming red hair wafted on the breeze while the rumble of a thousand Harleys filled the air. He couldn’t draw his eyes from the gorgeous redhead, whose hair reminded him of the flames on the side of his bike. Heavy metal music thrummed from gigantic speakers, banging and echoing from the sides of the nearby condos. Cameras snapped, his included, as she draped herself over the motorcycles being raffled off for charity. The line to register wound around the parking lot.

“I’d like to rev her engine,” one man said as he stuffed his tickets into his wallet.

“Full throttle,” the man next to him laughed loudly at their joke.

Every man there was thinking the same thing, which was the entire point of having a sexy, long legged woman straddling the chrome studded leather seat. Leaning on the handle bars, she rocked back, her chest to the sky as she arched her spine. With a quick swing of her legs, she did a shoulder stand on the seat, then lowered her feet with agonizing slowness so that the toes of her high heeled boots pointed directly at the patch of stretched black leather between her thighs.

Draven nearly dropped his phone. The man next to him let his cup of beer slide from his numb fingers. Every man in the line eyed her with fascination. Though disgusted with the behavior of the men, the women couldn’t help but stare too. They were amazed that anyone could do such antics on a motorcycle. The music continued to thrum and pound at them as they watched her routine. In a fleeting moment of coherence, Draven recognized it as Killing Strangers by Marilyn Manson. She was certainly slaying every man in the place with her sexy routine.

“Hey, buddy, your turn!” the man at the cash register called, snapping his fingers.

Draven stumbled forward, his legs having lost the ability to move without conscious thought. He fumbled with his wallet and phone, trying to slide one out and the other into the pockets of suddenly too-tight jeans.

“How many?” the man asked, all business.

“Um, how much are they?”

“Hundred a piece.”

“You take plastic?”

“Everything but American Express.”

“I’ll take five.”

“You got it.” He filled out Draven’s details, rang up the cost and scanned his plastic.

“Does the girl come with it?” the man behind Draven asked. He was old and fat, not the kind of man a girl like her would even look at once. His words might have been said in jest, but coming from his slobby, heavy jowled mouth, it was seriously pervy. The men behind the table and near him in line, gaped at him, horrified.

“That young lady is my daughter,” the man who handled Draven’s transaction growled. “So you watch what you say.”

“How’s a man let his daughter act like a hoor in public,” the fat man yelled, slamming a meaty fist down on the table.

Startled by the noise, the girl lost her balance as she rolled out of the shoulder stand. Toppling, she fell. Draven leaped toward her, covering the ten feet to the cycles, in a superhuman rush. He steadied her, helping her sit up slowly. Getting a good look at her face, he felt a spark of recognition.

“Jamie Humphrey?” He touched her cheek, brushing her hair from the corner of her full, red lips.

“Draven Wick? Oh, my God! Is it really you?” She clung to him, hugging him tightly. “How many years has it been? Ten?”

“About that. God, you look fantastic!”

100_0499Clasping his face, she gazed into his golden hazel eyes. “Thank you for catching me.”

“You’re welcome. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Thanks.”

Others had gathered around, watching the scene unfold. When it became apparent that the woman wasn’t hurt, the men at the desk went back to selling tickets.

“That’s not really your dad,” Draven murmured.

“Of course not. He just says that so that men will leave me alone.”

“How about fair time for the women?” a heavyset woman called from the line. “Let’s see the hunk take his shirt off!” she whooped.

Women all over the parking lot cheered and whistled. Draven cast a saucy look at Jamie. The music had changed once more, pounding out Closer by Nine Inch Nails—the unedited version, he noted with a grin. Grabbing the bottom of his shirt, he raised it with agonizing slowness as his hips gyrated to the sexy music. Jamie played it up, running her hands under the shirt, rubbing his abs and tugging on the cloth with her teeth.

More cameras snapped and the women yelled loudly, screaming at him to take it all off. As he did a lecherous bump and grind, Draven strutted around the bike. Between the two cycles, he twirled his shirt, straddling it. Riding it like a hot woman, he continued to dance. Jamie hopped up, standing behind him, she ran her hands up and down his tight abs and hard thighs. Spinning to face her, Draven roped Jamie with his shirt, pulling her close to dirty dance with him. The song ended and he spun her under his arm, dropping her into a low dip, her back arched, breasts high. Red hair tickled the pavement as he raised her with one arm. Faces mere inches apart, they tried to catch their breath. It took some time before they realized that the line was now three times what it had been. Women ringed around them, waving money at Draven.

“You grew up nice, Wick,” Jamie said, taking a step back. Her hand drifted down his chest to the top of his jeans. Eyes wide with delight, she dangled her fingers by his zipper. With tantalizing deliberateness, she touched the fabric that strained across his throbbing member.

“You keep that up, I can’t be responsible,” he whispered.

“You keep that up, I can’t be either,” she replied.

“I really wanna kiss you, Jamie.”

“On the bike,” she suggested. “I get paid a percentage of what they bring in.”

Laughing, he picked her up, putting her on the motorcycle, facing the rear, straddling the engine. Draven took his time swinging one long, muscular, jean-clad leg over the seat. Scooting him forward with her feet, Jamie wrapped her legs around his waist. Laying her back, Draven teased and coaxed her mouth, his tongue tickling her lips. With a decisive lunge, he raised his body, grasped the handlebars and kissed her. Until that moment, Jamie had thought his antics were all for show. A consummate performer, he knew how to work a crowd. But that kiss wasn’t pretending and the rock hard bad boy in his pants wasn’t a prop.

He didn’t linger over the kiss. His timing was, as always, superb. Leaning back, Draven swung his leg off the cycle, standing in one fluid motion as he held out his hand to her. The crowd went wild. The men at the table had to scramble to accommodate the line, bringing in extra help.

Draven stood near Jamie, hoping to kiss her again. Instead, everyone wanted pictures with them and the bikes. Most of them gave tips, some wanted autographs. They all wanted them to kiss. Draven worked the crowd, giving them just enough to keep them asking for more.

“Do you think any of them recognize you?” Jamie asked, her smile toothy and wide.

“Doubt it. I’m out of context.”

“Won’t they shit when they figure it out?”

He chuckled, kissing her cheek by request. “Right in their pants. You smell amazing,” he said, nuzzling her neck all on his own.

A dozen cameras clicked.

“I’ve missed you, Jamie.”

Shivering, she held his face as directed, giving him a kiss. “Me, too.”

“Seeing anyone?”

“Not really.”

They straddled the bike again, with her in front, holding the handlebars. His long, sinewy thighs clenched against hers from behind.

“Is that a yes or no? I don’t speak Biker Babe anymore.”

“No one steady.”

“Does he think that?”

Jamie blushed, turning her head to look at him. “Why all the questions, Wick? Got some burning desire to know all my secrets?”

Draven nibbled her neck, cheating the angle a little, so he was still camera ready. “I’ve got a burning desire, Humphrey, but it isn’t about your secrets.”

© Dellani Oakes 2015

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Dellani’s Alphabet Challenge Letter J – Just When You Thought It Was Safe

ABC ChallengeJust When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back in the Water. . . .

This article doesn’t really have anything to do with that at all. I needed a title with a J and ended up with the tag line for Jaws II. Mostly, I want to talk about books in a series.

Some authors like to write books in a series, others abhor the idea of sequels. I stand on the side of those who like books in a series. Not all my books are in series. Most notably, my sci-fi books – The Lone Wolf Series. The first three are out: Lone Wolf, Shakazhan and The Maker.lone wolf series banner 3

The Ninja Tattoo by Dellani Oakes - 200I do have books that are loosely grouped and are series-ish. Of these books, I have The Ninja Tattoo, Conduct Unbecoming, Call Me and Mirrored. These are all set in Florida and have a lot of the same people in them. Another book, associated with Conduct Unbecoming, is my romantic suspense novel, Bad Fall. Though it’s set in Ohio, it is a spin off of Conduct Unbecoming. Couldn’t really call it a series, more a continuation of the story begun therein.conduct unbecoming front cover

I like writing books in a series, or those that are associated with one another, because I like exploring the characters more in depth. A stand alone book is great, I have quite a few of these, but I don’t feel as if I can fully dive into the background of a character in a stand alone.

The character of Wil VanLipsig, in my sci-fi series, is so complex, I even wrote several short stories in order to look into his history more deeply. Things that are mentioned in passing in the series, are explored in more detail in the short stories. I am currently sharing one white lie coverof these, A Little White Lie, on my website every Thursday.

© Dellani Oakes 2015

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Dellani’s Alphabet Challenge Letter I – Indian Summer – Excerpt

ABC ChallengeIndian Summer is my historical novel. I mention the writing of it on my April 6 post. It is written in the voice of Gabriella Deza, the daughter of the Spanish Territorial Governor and is set in 1739, a year before a major siege by the British. Gabriella is 15, but has a lot of intelligence and pluck for a girl her age. By chance, she overhears something that starts a chain of events she has no control over.

I was rounding the corner on my way to the privy when I heard hushed and hurried voices ahead of me. They seemed to be moving in my direction rapidly. It was the sound of men who didn’t want to be overheard. Urgency marked their voices.

I ducked into an alcove, pressing myself against the wall. Secluded and shadowed, I was nearly invisible unless one looked directly at me. Grateful that I wore dark clothing and didn’t carry a candle, I virtually held my breath, seeking to make no noise.

The two men stopped just a few steps past my hiding place. I knew by his voice that one of them was James. The other man I didn’t recognize. James talked earnestly, looking furtively all around him. Not, thankfully, into my hiding place.

“I’m telling yew it mus’ be tonigh’!” The other man was speaking with roughly accented English in harsh undertones.

“Absolutely not! I forbid it!” James’ cultured voice held an authoritative edge. “It’s too soon. If we move now, all will be lost! We must plan this carefully. Tell General Oglethorpe that if this operation is to be a success, he must follow my lead. Tell him I’ll signal when the time is ripe.”

“Jes ‘ow do you pr’pose ta do tha’?” His companion growled. “Ligh’ a bloody sign’l fire?”

James barely held his temper. “In point of fact, I shall. Tell them to look to the south end of the fort and I’ll signal from there, but in my time! Tell him it could be months! Be gone now before we’re seen!”

With that, he rushed off in one direction. The other man, a sailor by his rolling gait, ran in the opposite. When I was sure they were gone, I eased out of the alcove and made my way to the privy.

I puzzled over the conversation I had overheard, not knowing quite what to make of it. The fort was in danger. I had heard something very secret indeed. Admittedly, I had difficulty putting James in the role of spy. Hadn’t he been a guest in our home? Surely James was beyond suspicion?

I didn’t know which way to turn or what to do. Who would ever believe me? They would call it childish, female fantasy and ignore me. I couldn’t tell Papa, he was too ill. I didn’t think the commandant would heed me. I had to say something! But to whom?

I heard a quiet voice call my name from across the hospital room. On his cot, Manuel had woken up and was calling me. Still weak, he managed to partially sit up, but couldn’t rise from his bed. As if a bolt of lightning hit me from above, I realized the obvious one to tell was Manuel. The commandant would believe him, but would Manuel believe me?

I was a child in his eyes, a little girl with big blue eyes and a wild imagination. I had been through much today, surely he would think that this was side effect of that over excitement. I owed him my brother’s life, but he in turn owed his to James. I hadn’t made up my mind when I reached his bed.

He smiled a weak version of his familiar, winsome smile. The twinkle in his eyes he always held for mindian summere was dim, but there. He was rapidly coming back to himself. I felt a flutter in my chest that was as pleasing as it was unfamiliar. He was so handsome it fairly took my breath.

His shirt was off and he was left only in his breeches. Having dried on him, they were tight across his powerful thighs. The sun bronzed muscles rippled in his back. I couldn’t help but admire his physique. His form was classic, like a statue of Adonis. Despite his injuries, he appeared virile, powerful, brave. I felt a warm thrill when he said my name yet again.

“Gabriella?”

I walked over to him quickly and quietly, not wishing to rouse anyone in the hospital. Manuel had many cuts and bruises on his arms, neck and back, as well as bruising and rope burns across his abdomen. His head was bound in a neat bandage, his right arm in a sling. A few of his ribs were wrapped. He tried to rise as I approached.

I smiled down at him. “No, Señor Enriques, please you must not try to stand. I’ll sit and then all will be well.” I pulled a stool near him.

He smiled at me again and his twinkle was stronger. “You’ve seen me near death, stripped almost to the bone and yet you call me Señor Enriques. It makes me sound like such an old man.” He sighed, shaking his head sagely. “I hear I owe my life in part to you. I insist you call me Manuel, and I shall call you – Señorita Deza.”

He winked wickedly and I blushed deeply, dropping my head in an effort to break eye contact with him. He was so close I could feel the warmth of his attentions and smell his manly scent. It was musky like sandalwood.

He lifted my chin gently with his uninjured hand. “You helped to pull me out of the sea. For that I thank you.”

I ducked my head again and this time he leaned his head sideways to gaze up into my face.

“So, she has no kind words for Manuel, eh? Well, perhaps one day she will. Perhaps too, she’ll save a dance for him at the next ball?”

I giggled almost hysterically at that. “Señor Enri-Manuel, I fear I can’t save a dance, for I’m not yet allowed to attend the parties.”

I blushed again feeling like a child, but this time I kept my head up and looked him in the eye. A slight frown played across his face.

“Well then, we’ll do this. When you have your fifteenth birthday party, will you allow Manuel to be your escort?”

© Dellani Oakes 2015

 

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