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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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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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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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 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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Dellani’s Alphabet Challenge Letter H – He Thought He Saw

ABC ChallengeA couple years ago, for the NaNoWriMo Challenge, I decided to branch out and try something new. Not only did I decide to do a contemporary fantasy novel, I decided to write it for young adults. For me, this was a double challenge. I’d never written this genre or for this age group before. I found that I liked it, so much so, I wrote a sequel in 2014. This is the opening of the book and, I hope, it appropriately sets the scene.

The full moon seemed to follow him as he walked down the road alone. Wind whispered in the trees and dried leaves clattered in its wake. An owl hooted. The hairs on the back of his neck stood at attention.

The wind became voices. The leaves, the dry rattle of old bones. The sighing grew louder and Brian was able to pick out words. At least, he thought they were words, but in a language he couldn’t understand.

Picking up his pace, he glanced over his shoulder. Wispy figures gathered in the tree line around the swamp, moving slowly and steadily toward him. Brian tried to convince himself it was only his imagination, but it felt far too real.

One of the figures approached at a slow, loping run. Brian could hear the heavy, measured footfalls as it lumbered toward him. He completely lost his cool. Roaring loudly, he ran at the figure, dodging away when it grabbed at him. Chilling wind passed as the figure drifted away, dissipating as it headed to the woods on the other side of the road.

Brian ran along the center of the road, frightened by his encounter with the wraith. More of them gathered in the swampy woodland, but no others were bold enough to approach him. Hearing a twig snap to his left, Brian put on a burst of speed. With a cry of fear, he felt a shove at his back and tripped over his own feet. As he fell, he saw the wraiths grow bolder. They moved in unison, swooping toward him. Terrified, Brian lay on his belly, unsure how to combat them.

A solid form burst out of the bushes. A large dog stood over Brian, growling and barking. It took a moment for him to realize that the wraiths halted. Some tried to go a step or two further, but the dog renewed its attack. One by one the ghosts dispersed, melting into the fog once more.he thought he saw cover resized 2

Brian let his breath out slowly. The animal stood over him, but moved aside as he sat up. It was the biggest dog Brian had ever seen, broad through the chest with powerful legs and a ridge of hair down his spine. It looked silver in the moonlight.

Curious, Brian reached slowly toward it, hand out, palm up. The beast’s tongue flicked out, licking his cheek. Her warm breath convinced the boy that the dog was alive and real. She slurped him again, butting his hand so he’d pet her. Laughing, he complied.

“Where did you come from, girl?” Predictably, he got no reply. “Never mind, I’m just glad you’re here.”

He got up, dusting himself off. Leaves stuck to his body, mud caked every inch of him. Twigs and more leaves adorned his closely cropped hair. Getting his bearings, he headed toward home once more. The dog walked with him, her head under his hand. Her tongue lolled and she looked as if she were laughing at his appearance.

“You take a header into a mud puddle and see how good you look.”

The dog barked gleefully. She dashed ahead, sniffed and snorted, before trotting back to his side. She stayed with him until they reached his home. With a yip, she left him, drifting into the woods. The front door banged shut with a comforting thump behind him. Heaving a sigh of relief, Brian locked and bolted the door. He leaned against it, panting. His hands shook and he felt light headed. His heart thumped so hard in his chest, he could hear it in his ears.

© Dellani Oakes 2015

 

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Dellani’s Alphabet Challenge Letter G – Goin’ Down

ABC ChallengeA few years ago, I participated in the Iron Writer’s Challenge. For those of you not familiar with it, five authors have five days to write a short piece using four random elements. The elements for our challenge were Atlantis, Flying Electric Bike, Dopplegangers and a random black and white TV show. This is what I wrote.

Wil sat on his flying electric bike, staring at the sapphire depths of the ocean. Somewhere, beneath the surface, lay their objective. Revving his engine, he prepared for the drop into the icy waters of the abyssal plain.

The rest of the platoon hovered around him, dressed in deep sea gear, multiple dopplegangers, waiting for the signal to jettison into oblivion.

It was strange to be on Old Earth. Stranger still was the Galactic Marine Corps’ interest in the place. Virtually abandoned 200 years ago, Earth had been reclaimed by nature. The few humans who remained were savages, wielders of crude weapons, hardly worthy adversaries. But something else lurked in the ocean—beings of half forgotten legends.

How they had come to the attention of the Marines, Wil didn’t know. He and his platoon were here to contain any possible threat before it could advance.

A voice crackled in his ear. “Ready, Sergeant?”

“Aye, Captain.”

“Commence drop in five – four – three. . . .”

The door opened at their feet and 32 cycles zipped down the ramp, making the 2,000 foot drop to the surface. Hovering over the waves, they were surrounded by force shields to keep the cold and pressure at bay. Still experimental, the shields were supposed to be impenetrable. Wil had his doubts.

Wil accessed the battle plans, projecting them to his platoon. The dive initiated on his command. Thirty-two cycles sliced into the water. Down they dropped, rapidly nearing their goal. Less than a hundred meters from their objective, Wil’s electrical system glitched. Instead of the detailed battle plans, he saw flickering images of an old black and white TV show. His visor was filled with a banner proclaiming “The Adventures of Superpup”. It was gone just as suddenly.

“You see that, Sarge?”

“Sure did.” Wil tapped his helmet and the battle plans filled his visor once more.

Something else caught his attention, far below and to his left. Raising a hand, he called a halt. Black as night, the water undulated around them. Wil’s raised fist was invisible, but the HALT message flashing inside their helmets, was not.

“What is that?” The same voice filled his ears.

“I’d say, that’s our goal, Corporal.”

With rapid movements, Wil and his corporal deployed the team. On his mark, they descended, surrounding an opalescent dome. As the bikes approached, a panel slid back and they were sucked in, unable to stop. They bounced around a huge tube, the suction drawing them inexorably forward.

A few minutes later, they were set down on a platform. The water drained away, leaving scattered puddles. They faced a 20 foot door, which opened slowly. A giant of a man dressed in scintillating blue robes walked out, smiling. His skin was indigo, his hair white. He held a metallic staff in one hand. The top was decorated with a single, multi-faceted diamond. He advanced to stand before Wil, bowing.

“Welcome, my friends. Welcome to Atlantis.”

© Dellani Oakes 2015

 

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Dellani’s Alphabet Challenge Letter F – Finally Finished That Novel!

ABC ChallengeSo, you’ve finished that four hundred and sixty page novel. You sit proudly and pat the cover page tenderly, smoothing the white surface when much to your horror, you see a mistake! Cold sweat breaks out on your brow, fingers tremble, mouth suddenly goes dry. As your eye wanders down the page, more and more errors jump out at you! Fear grips your heart as you stumble from the desk, desperate for a calming cool drink. It’s a nightmare, but you can’t wake up. It’s real. Your brainchild, the fruit of your creative efforts, is flawed and it’s up to you to fix it.

This is a scenario each of us faces. Sometimes it’s as minor as a misplaced comma or a dangling modifier. Other times an entire scene, or even half the novel is so bad it has to be scraped and retooled. I started an historical novel about ten years ago, set it aside since it wasn’t going anywhere, picked it up a few years later and realized the reason it hadn’t gone anywhere was that it was garbage! No other word for it. After careful review, I threw away all but ten handwritten pages. Of those ten pages, perhaps parts of seven survive in the retooled version.

Several things were problematic that I didn’t realize until much later. First, and most important, the point of view and style were all wrong. Set in St. Augustine in the Florida territory in the late 1700s, it was told in first person by a young Spanish woman. I had chosen to do it like a diary (not really sure why) and it was far too limiting to my story.

Second, after doing some more research, I found that the time period would have to be moved from the 1780s to 1739 or I could not incorporate certain facets of the novel. It would have been grossly inaccurate.

Third, and most difficult, the man I had intended to be the bad guy simply wasn’t working. No matter what I did, even in the retooled version, he wouldn’t be villainous. The heroine refused to fall in love with anyone else. Even the good guy couldn’t be relied upon to behave. He became the villain, the villain became the hero, the heroine didn’t succumb to another man’s charms, and they all lived happily ever after. (Except for the villain, because he, of course, was dead.)

It got terribly out of hand. After lots of time and effort reading and re-reading, honing, changing, and fine tuning, it is a really solid piece of literature that I am proud to put my name on. When I started re-writing it, I wouldn’t have given ten cents for it. It was the catalyst that started me writing in earnest and made me realize I had stories inside me to tell. Very few of the others are historical in nature, the rest are sci-fi or contemporary romantic suspense. With that novel I learned something else important. You can’t do too much research if you want to be historically accurate. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d rather spend my time bleeding profusely from multiple wounds that tracking down that evasive, all important fact. It took years to finish Indian Summer because it was so hard to find the information I needed.

Sci-fi is far simpler for me to write. Once I have a believable setting, the rest is easy. Don’t ignore the laws of science, throw in some really good fight scenes, add a few interesting aliens and voila! Creating my own world is far more fun than working within the confines of someone else’s.

Writing is the ultimate escapism. For that short span of time, things work out; the hero and heroine fall in love and live happily ever after. The bad guy gets his just desserts, the good guy wins, and there is always a happy ending.

Despite the thrill of putting words on paper, the hard part is making sure that everything is right. We can live with the small stuff like ending a sentence with a preposition. Frankly, it sounds odd if it’s correct. However, misplaced modifiers, sentence fragments and subject – verb agreement are very important.

One solution is to read and re-read your own work, honing and perfecting it. It’s easy to miss simple errors that way. Sometimes running off a hard copy helps, but it’s still hard to catch it all. Better yet, get people who are gifted in grammar to help you. They might not be able to name the error, but they can spot one and may be able to offer suggestions on how to correct it. If you can afford it, have an editor review it. Few of us can, so it’s up to us to read and re-read our own work until it is smooth and as error free as it can possibly be.

For goodness sake, don’t rely on the grammar check in Word! It’s garbage and will cause far more problems than it solves. I don’t care if it’s the primary word processing program used world wide, the grammar check is terrible. Spell check, on the other hand, is a Godsend, but won’t help you if you simply type in the wrong word. I once finished typing out a test for my 11th grade class only to find that I had one very important little word wrong and the spell check hadn’t caught it. Instead of saying, “What is the theme of this story?” I had, “Shat is the theme of this story?” (For those of you who don’t know, that’s the past tense of the verb ‘to shit’. — 11th graders knew that!)

There is no easy way to get through the editing process. It is tedious and time consuming, but if it makes the difference between selling a book and having it gather dust, it’s well worth it.

© Dellani Oakes 2015

 

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