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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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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Kitchen Disasters

This is something I wrote for Fun in Writing Group May 28, 2014

Dellani Oakes with glasses smallerAnyone who has ever set foot in a kitchen knows what potential disasters lie therein. Whether it’s from mis-measured ingredients, substitutions that didn’t quite make the grade, or an obstinate, uncooperative oven, disasters happen. I’ve had a lot over the years, but a few stand out in my mind.

One of my early disasters included my sister. It was our parents’ anniversary and we wanted to fix them breakfast and take it to them in bed. I’m not sure whose idea this was. I was only 7 and my sister was 9. Our kitchen skills were minimal. We had no idea how to fix coffee or pancakes or even scramble and egg. We decided upon toast and fresh squeezed juice.

Unfortunately – no fruit to squeeze, so we fixed ice water. That decided upon, we embarked on toast.

Our toaster was an old fashioned kind. It didn’t have a press down button or a timer. It was triangular with slotted doors on each side. It had one temperature setting—ON. To operate, you opened the door with the little knob on top, slid a piece of bread into the slot, shut the door and waited until it browned. How long you left it depended on how brown you wanted it. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop automatically.

You can imagine the disaster potential this presented for two industrious, and somewhat oblivious, children. We forgot about the toast until it was flaming. I’m not talking smoking a little, this was full on flames! They shot up, igniting a picture of a rooster I’d made with colored macaroni. It burned beautifully, blackening the wall and the calendar.

Our screams woke our parents. Our father ran to the kitchen, yanked the flaming picture from the wall and threw it in the sink. Our mother unplugged the toaster and carried it outside, depositing the bread cinders in the backyard.

I know they wanted to yell, but once they found out we’d been trying to fix them breakfast, the stopped. We were forbidden to use any kitchen implements without adult supervision—especially the toaster!

Many years later, as an adult, I wanted to bake my mother a special birthday cake. It was her seventieth birthday and wanted something more than a box cake. I had a wonderful recipe I wanted to try, so I set about gathering ingredients and mixing it up. I popped it in the oven. It smelled fabulous. I made the frosting and put it in the refrigerator, waiting for the beautiful cake to bake.

It was perfection! I poked a cake tester in a few inches. It came out clean, so I let the cake cool a little and inverted it on a plate. To my amazement, it slid out just right, not sticking to the pan. The bottom touched the plate and I heard a SLUUUURP PLOP! The inside was RAW! It got all over the table and floor before I realized what was happening. Although the outer crust was baked, the core was still liquid.

Upset, but determined, I cleaned it up and started over. I’m sure you can guess what happened. By the time the second cake came out, I was hysterical, but stubborn. I was ready to make a third attempt, but my husband put his foot down. He went to the cupboard and pulled out a box mix and handed it to me.

No more! You’re making yourself crazy! Your mother will appreciate the effort. It doesn’t have to be a from-scratch cake.”

I wanted to argue, but I knew he was right. He helped me clean up the second disaster, which was nearly as bad as the first, and I made the boxed cake. Damn thing came out perfectly!

To this day, I don’t know where I went wrong with the other cake. Maybe it was a bad recipe. Maybe it was a fluke of my less than stellar oven. All I know is that, wonderful or not, I’ve never made it again. Nearly all my cakes are from boxes and I haven’t had any trouble with them.

My husband, wonderful man that he is, reminds me from time to time that I haven’t had a major kitchen disaster in years. I tell him that’s because I’ve got mad kitchen skills now.

Nope,” he tells me with annoying confidence. “That’s because you’re good enough to skirt the every day ones. That means when you have one, you’ll probably burn the house down.”

© Dellani Oakes

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Shakazhan Outtakes Part 3 by Dellani Oakes

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00022]We all like outtakes. Admit it, sometimes that’s your favorite part of a movie. Authors also have outtakes. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing outtakes from my novel, Shakazhan. This is a continuation of the same section I’ve been sharing. You can imagine, if I’ve got 3 posts from it, it must be long. That’s one reason I cut it. Though it was fun from my point of view, exploring my characters, it didn’t move the plot along. I could imagine people flipping the pages saying, “Is it ever going to stop?”

Before reading, in case you haven’t read Shakazhan yet, there are several sentient ships. I don’t mean just cognizant, I mean fully aware beings who cater to their crews by creating whatever they need. Want a bigger bed? The ship will provide it. Thirsty? What’s your favorite beverage? Need privacy? The ship will create a private room that only you can find. They are characters just as much as the humans and aliens are. Their names are Anvil, Hammer – her mate and Styx, their daughter.

The Kindred are another alien species who are highly advanced technologically and telepathically. This scene takes place on board one of the alien ships. Ariella and Caprilla are Fellician warriors commonly called The Cats.

Matilda found Wil a little later, he was talking to Caprilla about the match between them earlier.

“You move like a water buffalo with a limp.” Cap shook his head. “You must learn grace, the muscles must flow like water over pebbles. Yours is water, yes, but over rocks, big fat ones.” Shaking his head, he clucked his tongue.

“Yeah, Cap. I should move like you. You’re so big, your idea of quiet isn’t to set off an avalanche when you walk. I’ll bet you anything I can move faster and quieter than you any day of the week.”

“Put your money up, Old Man. I’ll accept that wager. In fact, although it is being overly generous of me, I’ll give myself a handicap. I’ll allow you to remove those big, hulking boots you wear.”

Wil laughed loudly. Cap was quite drunk and he knew it. However, even drunk, the big cat could move more silently than most humans.

“It wouldn’t be a fair contest, Cap, you’re drunk.”

“I’ll remedy that immediately, Lone Wolf. One moment.” He ordered an Everafter, an all purpose detoxifying treatment, which Hammer supplied directly to his hand. One nice thing about a sentient ship, there was no need for food synthesizers. Cap drank it down, making a face, shuddered and stood erect.

“I’m ready now, puny human. Where shall this contest take place?”

“How about here, Cap? In front of all our friends?”

“Hmph, how shall we be judged? They will make too much noise.”

“Let Hammer monitor us, I feel sure he can.” He was given an affirmative in the form of blinking lights. “See? Hammer will keep track of us. Is that fair?”

“It is the best I can expect, I suppose. I accept. Very well, what do you propose we do for our contest?”

“How about a full series of the drills with the weapons? Each of us does the sword, staff and Banderatta?”

Caprilla bowed deeply. “That is acceptable, Friend Wil. I’ll allow you to go first.”

“I insist, Cap, you go first.” Bowing deeply, he backed from the stage. The crew members grew as quiet as they could.

Caprilla took the center of the stage, standing in his ready position. Hammer indicated he was monitoring and Caprilla began. His movements were indeed like water over pebbles. Not even his breathing made noise above the sound of a moth’s flight. He began slowly with his kata, gradually gaining speed. He was so fast, he was a blur of blue black fur and dark red clothing. His weapons spun and glittered in the light like propellers.

He struck his final pose, bowed deeply to Wil once again and descended from the stage to tumultuous applause. Wil tried not to look cocky as he stepped to the center of the stage. He had stripped to the waist and removed his boots. He moved slowly into position, standing still for a heartbeat before beginning.

He too, started slowly, but his speed increased by the second. If Caprilla had been a blur of two colors, Wil’s colors blended into one. He was nearly impossible to see. The only sound he made was the whir of his weapons in the air. Not Marc and Caprilla, nor even Matilda, could mark his speed and progress, he moved so fast and silent.

His drill was over in seconds, and he stopped in the ready position before bowing deeply to Caprilla and the rest of the crew. There was an awed silence. No one said anything, no one could even move. It wasn’t until Wil stepped off the stage that the applause and cheering began. The noise was deafening!

Hammer flashed his lights, indicating he wished to make an announcement.

“After careful deliberation, it is my decision that the human, Wilhelm VanLipsig, performed his drill 10.23890572 seconds faster than the Fellician Caprilla Mayeese. Further, it is my finding, Human VanLipsig also was 9.856% quieter than aforementioned Fellician Mayeese.”

Caprilla looked stunned, but took the loss in stride. He could tell by looking at Wil perform that he had been faster and quieter than he. Cap wasn’t displeased, in fact he was proud of his old friend for besting him a second time in the evening. When the competition was friendly and no one’s life was held in the balance, Cap was completely willing to accept defeat.

He came forward, greeting Wil as he stepped off the stage. Bowing deeply, he stood quietly for a moment before speaking. “What shall I give you for your win, Friend Wil?”

Wil clapped Caprilla smartly on the shoulder, reaching up a couple of feet to accomplish it.

“Cap, I already have the most important thing you can give me. You’re my friend and ally. No man could ask for more.”

Caprilla roared loudly. “That is well said, Wilhelm, very well said! you’re quite astute for a mere puny human.”

Shortly after, the party broke up and the two crews headed to their quarters on either ship.

As they made ready for bed, Matilda looked at Wil, as if seeing him for the first time. “I had no idea you could move like that, Wil. That was incredible.”

“You know the crazy thing about that, baby? I don’t even think that was as fast as I can move. I felt like I was holding something in reserve.” He shrugged casually.

She laughed lightly. “Well promise me something, you won’t ever move that fast with me. I think maybe you’d light a fire.”

He chuckled, taking her in his arms. “Matilda, you always light a fire in me.” His kiss was heartfelt and warm, loving and compelling. “I promise I’ll always take my time with you.”

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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Shakazhan Outtakes Part 2 by Dellani Oakes

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00022]All authors have their outtakes—scenes that didn’t make the final cut. Some are embarrassments that we regret ever writing and will probably never see the light of day. Others are wonderful favorites that didn’t advance the plot. Below is one of these scenes. I love it, but it simply slowed things down. I could imagine my readers yelling at me, “Get on with it!”, so I cut it. I couldn’t seem to delete it completely. Instead, it went into a file called Cut from Shakazhan. Now, I’m glad I kept it.

Before reading, in case you haven’t read Shakazhan yet, there are several sentient ships. I don’t mean just cognizant, I mean fully aware beings who cater to their crews by creating whatever they need. Want a bigger bed? The ship will provide it. Thirsty? What’s your favorite beverage? Need privacy? The ship will create a private room that only you can find. They are characters just as much as the humans and aliens are. Their names are Anvil, Hammer – her mate and Styx, their daughter.

The Kindred are another alien species who are highly advanced technologically and telepathically. This scene takes place on board one of the alien ships. Ariella and Caprilla are Fellician warriors commonly called The Cats.

For fun, they put together a demonstration from each class. The camaraderie was growing between the two disparate groups of people. Marines and Miners side by side, sparring happily and cheering each other’s success.

Matilda and Ariella took the stage. Ariella’s tawny coat shown like silk in the lights. She wore the traditional short sarong of the Kaboratta dancer.

Matilda wore the same type of sarong, and had a diminutive bikini top over her chest. Her long, dark hair was pulled tightly back in a cluster of three braids and covered with a matching bandana. Each of them wore six hoops per ear and Matilda had her bracelets in place. Their swords were in a block beside them.

They began with the Ritual of Weighing, where each of the competitors chose her weapon. Taking their stance across from one another, a sharp snap of a bongo signaled the start of the match. Matilda attacked quickly and low, going for her opponent’s knees. Ariella’s reach was longer, but Matilda’s comparatively diminutive stature next to hers, made getting under her guard easy.

Ariella swatted her away with her tail as if she were a gnat. Matilda flew across the stage, landing with a grunt. Shaking her head, she rose, taking her stance again.

The bongo signaled as before, Ariella attacked, moving in on Matilda’s exposed left side. Maneuvering rapidly, Matilda jumped for her block, grabbing her dagger as she sped by. She parried Arriella’s attack, barely avoiding a blow from her other side. Ariella had grabbed her dagger too. Matilda caught Ariella’s knife in her claws, which she had extended for that purpose.

A gasp from the crowd as Ariella extended hers, grappling with Matilda briefly before the woman moved out the of big cat’s range. The two of them slashed, kicked, and danced around the stage, hardly a sound but the bongo accompaniment and the clang of their weapons above their ragged breathing.

Ariella stooped to slash at Matilda’s legs. Matilda jumped lightly up and rolled over Ariella’s back, landing in a crouch on the other side. Back and forth they dodged and parried, swooping into an opening and back out again to avoid their opponent’s blows.

It looked as if Matilda were winning, then Ariella rushed in and got her pinned to one side of the stage, advancing, blade held ready before her, preparing for the killing blow. Matilda, calmly taking a deep breath, ran at Ariella, sprung forward and up, doing a handless cartwheel over her head, flipped as she was landing, spinning to face her opponent. Getting her feet under her, she launched herself at the large feline, knocking her down and sitting on her chest, blade ready at the throat, Matilda prepared for the kill.

Striking her blow, she didn’t notice Ariella’s dagger coming up behind her, deploying the handle blade until too late. Both blades struck home simultaneously, blood sprayed everywhere.

Gasps of horror filled the room. Wil and Caprilla leapt onto the stage, calling for doctors. Wil lifted Matilda’s limp form off Ariella’s chest, clutching her to him, covered in blood.

Caprilla gently moved Ariella, taking her in his arms, wiping the blood from her fur, looking for the wound. There wasn’t any. There were no marks on either woman, just a lot of blood.

Unable to contain themselves longer, Ariella and Matilda levered themselves upward to horrendous applause. Even Wil and Caprilla joined the laughter and clapping.

“Ladies, that was the most amazing display of skill I’ve ever seen! I congratulate you!” Caprilla kissed each of them on the hand, helping Ariella to her feet. Wil scooped Matilda up, kissing her possessively. Caprilla held Ariella close to him, not letting go. Her protests were merely a ploy. She didn’t wish release or she would’ve taken his head off.

“Don’t ever scare me so again, Ariella. I feared you dead.”

She looked slyly at him. “Tell me, Caprilla, would it matter so very much?”

“It would wound me to my heart to lose you. I’m an old fool, perhaps. It took seeing you die before me to make me realize this.”

In a rare tender moment, Ariella kissed Caprilla and rubbed noses with him showing her affection.

“All is well then, Caprilla. For I’ll never do so again, I promise. But you must also promise me something.”

“What would that be, Ariella, anything within my power.” She whispered something in his ear, making him chuckle, then guffaw. “I believe that is something I can manage, Ariella. I swear.” He held up his hand as if taking an oath.

Later, Matilda took Ariella aside. “What did you ask Cap to do?”

“It is rather something I asked him not to do. I made him promise he will no longer bed Escascia. In return, I promised not to take Cavitus or Errollic to my bed. It is a bargain which pleases us both.” She smiled happily, though to many it would look more like a snarl.

Matilda grinned, but said nothing. It wasn’t necessary. She was pleased to know that her friends were happy, that was enough.

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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