Thursday, January 17, 2019
Natasha had been looking through every bin and basket in the music store for a specific CD. Just as she reached for it, a long arm attached to a large, male hand snagged it away from her.
"Hey!" she bellowed over the pounding heavy funk metal, post-grunge bass line. "That's mine!" Furious and fuming, she turned to face the owner of the offending member, her face nearly as red as her hair.
The tall, dark skinned young man looked somewhat abashed. "I'm sorry, I've been looking for this CD for over an hour."
"So have I. Close to two. Could I have it back, please?"
Reluctantly, he handed the CD to her. "Do you see another copy of it?"
"No, this is the only one."
"It's either very popular or very obscure," he complained. "I've been looking for weeks. This is the only store in town that carries it."
"What about a special order?"
He shook his head. "I haven't asked, I don't know." Shyness suddenly enveloped him and he ducked his head away from her.
"We can ask," she smiled, somewhat ashamed by her outburst.
"No, really, it's not necessary. I'll get it another time."
"It's no trouble, really. Come." She beckoned with her head for him to follow. "I'm here all the time. They know me well. If they can order it for me, you can have this one."
"Thanks." His face brightened slightly as he followed her to the desk.
Trying not to attract attention to himself, he walked behind her. He shot furtive glances around the crowded shop looking for hardened faces. So far he hadn't seen any, but it was only a matter of time before they caught up with him. Enjoying a few minutes of freedom, he followed the young woman to the counter.
* * *
She paid him for her CD while the dark haired man bought his from Beebe. He turned to her with a shy smile on his lips.
"Thank you." His voice was deep and melodic, a hint of an accent in his pronunciation.
"You're welcome." She smiled up at him. "I'm Natasha," she held out her hand to him. "But some folks call me Tasha."
"I'm Billy," his mouth had trouble with the unfamiliar name. "At least that's as close as most people get. I am forever in your debt, Natasha."
Getting a good look at him now, she decided he was quite possibly the best looking man she had ever seen. His dark hair fell nearly to his shoulders, framing a swarthy face. His eyes were so brown they looked black, giving them a depth of emotion she had never seen before. Deciding that he was probably not going to ask her out, she would have to do it for him. Determined to get to know him better, she grabbed his hand tugging him toward the door. Caught by surprise, Billy followed her, a worried frown on his face.
"Is something wrong? Where are we going?" They approached the door and Billy applied the brakes suddenly, nearly knocking her off balance. "I insist you tell me where you are taking me." His voice was strained, tight.
"For a cup of coffee, silly. What, did you think I was trying to kidnap you?"
A flicker of fear flashed in his eyes. Natasha eyed him warily. Maybe it was a bad idea, but she thought suddenly that Billy looked as if he needed a friend.
"A cup of coffee, Billy. I'm sorry, I've upset you."
"No," he looked out the front window, eyes never stopping as he searched for something. "A cup of coffee would taste good. It's very cold here." He shivered as the door opened. "I'm not used to the cold."
"Come on." She tugged his hand again. "I'll take you to my favorite coffee shop. My cousin owns it."
"Is there a back door?" he asked with another glance out the window.
"Here? Yes. Are you sure you're all right?"
"Perfect." He grinned, but there was worry behind it. "Let us proceed to the coffee shop, Tasha."
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Ianna works as a bartender while she goes to college, as an art major. She hasn't got a very high opinion of herself, but meeting as special guy, helps her gain the confidence she needs.
The music played a syncopated, staccato rhythm, a little loud, but it was a song I liked. It was Sunday night, so the bar was slow, just a dribble of regulars. Maybe Mitch would close up early and I could go home. I was dead tired and my feet hurt. Not that I minded tending bar on Mindy's night off, but my tips were better waiting tables than they were at the bar.
"Last call, folks!" Mitch read my mind and was closing up.
There were groans and complaints, but it was getting on towards midnight, everyone was ready to leave anyway. The door opened and a man walked quickly in. It was pouring outside, he was drenched, his long, dark hair sticking to him in damp tendrils.
"Sorry, buddy, I'm about to close." Mitch said politely.
The young man straightened up and looked surprised. "My car broke down. I just need a phone, maybe a cup of coffee?"
Mitch nodded at me and I got the bar phone, setting it on the counter.
"How do you take your coffee?" I asked him, pot and mug in hand.
He looked startled, then hesitated before responding. "I take it light, extra sweet."
His grin lit his face, but his eyes held something I couldn't read. I saw myself reflected there and thought I looked like the wrath of God. How must I appear to him? Short, plump, frizzy, light brown hair and blue eyes. I have freckles scattered over my nose, and my skin is a little too pale since I spend so much time inside.
I fixed the coffee and set it in front of him while he made his call. He put his hand over the receiver. "Thank you," he said quietly. "I hate voice mail. What's your name?"
I chuckled and pointed to my name tag. He squinted at my chest and laughed. "For real?" I nodded. "Wow, I thought maybe you just made it up to dissuade assholes like me."
"I get that sort of thing a lot," I replied. "Having a name like mine...." I began shyly.
But he was talking on the phone. It must have been a friend, not Triple A because he used too familiar a tone. He hung up and handed me the phone, a disgusted look on his face.
"Got a number for a cab?"
"Yes, we used Barbosa's most of the time if someone is too drunk to drive home." I dialed the number for him.
He talked to the dispatcher and hung up again, handing me a five dollar bill. I went to give him change, coffee's only seventy-five cents, but he waved it away.
"Thanks, I really appreciate it."
He glanced around taking in the rest of the room. The bar isn't very big, full of the typical neon beer signs and motorcycle memorabilia, photos of famous people who have stopped in, that sort of thing. The basic motif is supposed to be like an old English pub, but the place has changed owners so many times that it's taken on this sort of lost child look. Everything from fishing nets and fake crabs on one wall, facing a lighthouse mural on the opposite wall.
Behind the bar is a large mirror and lots of fancy wooden scroll work. The wall across from it, which I have to look at the entire time I'm back there, is a larger than life nude painting of a woman with unnaturally large boobs. It's really disgusting subject matter, although I can appreciate the skill with which it was done. My college major is art with an emphasis in drawing and photography. This bar job was my main source of income since my dad got divorced for the third time and can't afford to pay for my school anymore.
I got busy cleaning up behind the bar and the regulars were starting to say their goodbyes, drifting out the door in pairs, chatting happily. Soon it was only me, Mitch and the young man. He looked at his watch.
"If I'm keeping you from closing, I'll wait outside for my cab. The guy said it would be ten minutes."
"The weather has slowed 'em down," Mitch said. "You stay inside this weather ain't fit to be out in. Me and Anna don't mind. It's not like it's that late."
I noticed Mitch did not leave me alone with the guy and he didn't take out the till to start his nightly count either. In fact, he was eyeing him rather dubiously. I had never seen him look at anyone like that before.
"So, you got a name?" he asked the young man.
"Yeah, I do." He cracked a sarcastic grin at Mitch.
The comment was wasted on my boss, he's too literal minded and hasn't got much of a sense of humor if the punch line to a joke isn't sexual or sports oriented.
"Reed," he said when it became apparent Mitch wanted an answer. "Reed Owens."
"You from around here?" Mitch never was like this with a customer, I was beginning to worry a little bit.
"Used to be awhile back."
"You look kinda familiar."
Reed glanced away, gazing out the window. He was starting to look uncomfortable, a little line of red rising from his collar.
"I have that kind of a face."
Which wasn't true. He was really attractive, ruggedly handsome, skin tanned to a rich red bronze. His dark hair was drier now and came to his shoulders, sleek and straight, pushed back from his forehead. He had a very pronounced widow's peak and his dark eyes and sharp features gave him almost a hawk like aspect to his face. He was easily the best looking man I've ever seen.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Amanda Sharp walked down the street in her fancy, new red shoes. They cost a bundle, but the young woman was determined to look her best at her job interview. With a special spring in her step, she rounded the corner and ran into a man. Knocked back a step, she stumbled. He caught her by the elbows, setting her on her feet once more.
What a nightmare! Amanda thought. Now I'll be late for my appointment.
The man apologized and pulled the door open for her. He was really quite handsome. Distracted by his good looks, she didn't pay careful attention to where she was going. She caught the pocket of her jacket on the door. It swung shut, hitting her big toe. Her foot exploded with pain and she cursed inadvertently.
Worried that she was seriously hurt, the man helped her to a chair. Once he was assured she was alright, he excused himself.
"I apologize, but I have an appointment in five minutes. Are you sure you're okay?"
Amanda, who was now surrounded by everyone in the office, told him she was fine.
"I'll check on you later," he promised. "I'll return after my appointment."
Amanda examined her beautiful new shoes after the man left. They were scuffed and dirty. Fortunately, they had taken the impact, protecting her foot, or she would have seriously injured her toe. Distressed, she almost didn't hear when the receptionist called her name.
"Oh, that's me," she said. "Sorry."
Walking into the office, a familiar face greeted her. The man she'd collided with stepped forward with a smile.
"Either you need to be more careful or I do," he said with a grin. "Congratulations. You're hired."
"You don't want to read my resume? Ask questions?" Amanda was stunned that she had the job so quickly.
"I read it over on the way here. I learned everything I need to know about you during our incident."
Amanda blushed. "You learned that I'm easily distracted, clumsy and—"
"Curse like a truck driver. Yes," he mused.
Amanda's breath caught in her throat. He had the most stunning blue eyes she'd ever seen. Surrounded by thick, black lashes, they gave him a dreamy, sleepy look. She felt herself slipping and only by shear will did she avoid falling into those bottomless blue depths.
"Please, have a seat before I take you to the Personnel Office."
"You don't call it Human Resources here?" Again, the man puzzled her.
He chuckled, full lips forming an amused pout. "No. Why call it something so silly? It's the Personnel Office and the lady in charge is Personnel Manager. We don't have fancy titles here. I'm the boss, the people out there are my employees and you'll be my secretary. How does that sound?"
"Wonderful!" Amanda kicked herself inwardly for sounding like such an excitable little girl. Sure she was blushing, she ducked her head.
"Perhaps I should introduce myself," her new boss said. "I'm Trent Harmon." He held out his hand.
"The Boss," she murmured, taking his hand.
"The Boss," he repeated with a smirk. Tipping his head, he motioned toward the door. "I'll escort you to Personnel. The hallways are rather like a rabbit warren here. It's temporary digs until our remodel on the second floor is finished."
"Are you expanding?" She followed him, not feeling it was her place to walk next to him.
"You might call it that."
Trent turned to face her, walking backward. The others in the office moved to avoid him, some teasing him for not looking where he was going. He took their jibes in good stride, smiling as he went.
"I learned a long time ago that people work better when you give them space. If they're squished in like sardines, allowed no privacy, they are less productive. While we've been crammed in here, our efficiency has dropped by five percent."
"Don't you worry about them surfing the web, accessing porn?"
His lips formed the amused pout once more. "Not really. We have a very sophisticated internet alarm system. If someone tries to access something they shouldn't, it goes off. I don't mind a few minutes of surfing on their breaks, but they log that time. There are sites our firewalls restrict, such as those known to harbor viruses."
He chuckled again. "Yes. You seem very attached to that subject. Do you, in fact, scan porn sites in your off time?" His sarcastic tone held more than a hint of amusement.
They'd reached the Personnel Office. Amanda realized she had no idea how they'd gotten there. If she had to find her way back out, she'd get irreparably lost.
"No, of course not!" Her blush set her cheeks on fire.
Trent's amusement didn't help. He knew he'd embarrassed her, but she'd set herself up. Instead of shying away from it, she faced him boldly.
"No. As a matter of fact, it was my former boss who used to do so. Then he'd call me in for a meeting and have his screen tipped so I could see it reflected in the window behind his desk or, if he felt really naughty, directly from where I sat."
"What a lecherous old cod," he said gruffly, frowning deeply as he opened the door for her.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Tom Wilcox is a player of the first order. He didn't intend to be, he just fell into it. However, he'd like to change, and going on a cruise with his parents is a step in that direction. While on board the ship, he happens upon a very special lady.
On the evening of our second day, I was walking back to my room when I heard someone crying. One of the young women ,who worked on the ship, stood in a dark corner, bawling her eyes out. Being the sympathetic guy I am, I stopped to talk to her.
"Hey, you okay?"
She sniffled and gulped, wiping her eyes with a paper towel. I happen to carry a handkerchief. No clue why, I guess my mom insisted at some point in my life. I handed it to her. She thanked me with a nod and a gulp.
"What's up?" I asked. "Pretty girl like you shouldn't be so miserable."
Shaking her head, she snuffled and sniffled.
She nodded, hiccuping.
"Let me guess. He pressured you until you gave it up. Then he bastard dumped you."
"Yes! How did you know?" she gasped.
"Lots of experience with tearful women." I wiped her cheeks with the handkerchief and gave it back to her. "Were you experienced before he came along?"
She shook her head.
"What a dick. Not all men are bastards," I commented.
She flung herself at me, sobbing on my chest. She continued to cry, pounding me with her fists. I held her, smoothed her hair and talked quietly.
"I'm not supposed to fraternize with the guests," she said after a time.
"What fraternizing? We're talking, you're crying."
She giggled tearfully. "You're really nice, Tom."
"Don't let it get around," I teased. "You'll put a shine on my tarnished reputation. You feeling better now?"
She nodded, handing me the handkerchief.
"Keep it," I offered. "I've got more."
Impulsively, she kissed me. Horrified by her own behavior, she ran off. I thought about following her, but some other workers came by, so I let her go. I went to my room and watched TV. Tired of that, I went to bed.
The next morning, I saw the girl, Maris, at breakfast. She was serving tables. She looked like she'd been crying again. Her nose was pink and her eyes were puffy. I tried to catch her eye, but she pointedly ignored me. I didn't want her to get in trouble, so I left it alone figuring she'd find me if she wanted to talk.
My parents were taking a salsa dancing class and convinced me to go. After breakfast, we went to the dance studio and waited for the instructor. Turned out to be some Latin guy and Maris was his partner. I figured he was the ex because she could hardly stand to have him touch her.
I was paired up with some lady old enough to be my grandma, when Maris spotted me. She tried to smile, but couldn't maintain eye contact. The old lady didn't miss it.
"Do you know her?"
"Not really. I talked to her a little while last night." I shrugged, taking the old girl in my arms.
"Do you know what you're doing?"
"Oh, yes, ma'am. I've danced most of my life."
"You a fag?"
I chuckled, tossing my head. "No, ma'am. Mom's an instructor with her own studio. I've partnered her since I was twelve."
"Then why are you taking a class?"
"Because my mother told me to." I laughed when she made a rude noise at me.
Maris and her partner showed us what we'd be doing, a simple combination, something I could do with my eyes closed. The old lady and I were jammin' when the guy walks over and cuts in, leaving Maris on her own. I offered my hand and she took it.
"You dance really well," she said quietly.
"Thanks." I explained briefly.
Nodding, she spun away. I pulled her back, taking her in my arms. We danced with our hips barely touching, though she wouldn't look me in the eyes.
"That's the guy?" I murmured as my fingers traced the line of her body.
She said nothing, glaring at me instead. That's a yes.
"I'd offer to beat him up, but I'm a lover, not a fighter."
Maris smiled, laughing for the first time. "He's not even much of either. You could probably take him easy."
"I'll Baryshnikov his ass." I guess I should mention, to my shame, I've also taken ballet.
Maris laughed again, tossing her black hair as I spun her once more. Her dress was dark red and flowed around her like liquid sex. It was making me hot just being close to her. Salsa dancing is very sensual. There's lots of touching, holding, seducing one another with your moves. Usually, I can control myself, but I'd never partnered anyone like Maris.
Monday, January 14, 2019
Monday, January 14, marks the first Dellani's Tea Time of 2019. Listen in from 4-6 PM Eastern!
As we to every year, Christina and Dellani save the first show to chat together, and bring in some special guests – the other show hosts on the Red River Radio Network! We're never entirely sure who will show up, so we'll just introduce them as they arrive.
Expect ridiculous behavior, sarcastic comments, jocularity, hilarity, and great excerpts from everyone! You never know where the conversation will go, with this bunch. We're unpredictable, unavoidable, uninhibited and completely unexpected.
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Ryder Bradley is working his way through college as a DJ, who does all manner of events, including wedding receptions. He's not expecting to meet the woman of his dreams at her sister's wedding.
My confidence at being able to handle the mother faded a little, but I didn't let it daunt me. I ate a quick meal in the kitchen and headed out to the stage again, ready to take requests. I found the she-beast pawing through my CDs.
"Excuse me, ma'am. What do you think you're you doing?"
She had the decency to look alarmed that she'd been caught. However, I noticed she'd used my pen to scratch out my list and write her own. I sauntered over, keeping my distance, but using my size to intimidate her. She was short, plump and dressed in an unfortunate shade of purple that made her look like an eggplant. I hoped her daughter had done that to her on purpose.
"You're not playing the choices," she stated. "This other tripe is unacceptable." She gestured regally at the list. "And while I have your attention, what was that you played when my daughter came in?"
"The theme from 2001," another female voice said behind me.
I turned around to see the maid of honor. She was a stunning brunette with a knockout figure and dancing brown eyes that sent a shock right through me.
"I thought it was fantastic, Mom. Emmy liked it too. She said it made her feel like a queen."
Mom was about to burst a blood vessel. She spluttered and fumed for a few more minutes, while the maid of honor and I watched. Then, like a firework whose fuse burns out, she sputtered one last time and stepped down off the stage with the help of the best man.
The maid of honor held out her hand to me. "Cerise Lafayette," she introduced herself.
I wanted to laugh, but didn't dare. I could tell that she hated her name and I wasn't gonna go there for anything. She was gorgeous, with a curvy figure like her sister's. I'm not a rude man. I wasn't going to totally alienate a beautiful woman—especially when she backed my playlist.
"Ryder Bradley." I kissed her hand. "Excuse me one second." I went back to the microphone. "I hear some of you folks want to dance," I said, grinning as I cued up another tune. "This is a personal favorite of mine, I hope you enjoy it!" I started Criminals by the Revivalists start playing.
Cerise's lips twitched, her dark chocolate eyes taking me in. She arched an appreciative eyebrow. "Is it really a favorite?"
I turned off the microphone. "Yeah. You like?"
"First time I've heard it. I approve. I came up here to make some requests. That's if you have them."
"I have virtually everything. Rattle 'em off."
She gave me a long list of tunes, most of which meshed with the bride's choices, and deviated sharply from their mother's. I wrote them down on a clean piece of paper, nodding with each addition. I had them, twenty in all.
"I'll happily play each of these."
"Thank you. I happily anticipate each one."
I kissed her hand once more, hoping it wasn't my imagination that she let her fingers linger on mine before flashing another stunning smile at me. She walked down the steps, with me hovering like a helicopter, to see her safely to the ground. She smiled up at me, letting her long eyelashes drop slightly before joining the best man in a dance.
©2019 Dellani Okaes
Tuesday, January 08, 2019
Savage Heart is the sequel to Indian Summer, my historical romance. Sailfish, is on his way to St. Augustine for Gabriella's birthday. During the night, a wounded person stumbles into his camp, followed by an equally injured panther. He kills the panther, then turns to the person to treat the wounds. He's busily washing and bandaging when he gets a shock.
With a cry of surprise, Sailfish sat hard on the ground, legs flying upward. The person lying on the ground wasn't a young man at all. Puzzled, he gazed into the silent face.
"Who are you, little one, and where do you come from?"
The day neared mid-afternoon when the young woman stirred, opening eyes the color of new palm fronds. The gentle green was flecked with specks of gold. Sailfish's dark, penetrating gaze met hers as he smiled. Two spots of color rose in her cheeks when she realized her chest was swathed in bandages and nothing else. Scrabbling weakly with the edges of Sailfish's matchcoat, she tried to pull it over her. He kindly averted his eyes, concealing his smile.
"Forgive me for pointing out I've already seen you." He spoke softly in Spanish, hoping she understood.
She babbled quickly in response. It took him a moment to realize she was speaking French, her accent was slightly different from what he was used to. He repeated himself, in French this time, raising the edge of the cloth to her chin.
"Merci," she replied, mortified by her nakedness. Turning her head as far as she could from his gaze, her blush deepened.
"How do you happen to be out here alone?" he asked.
"My family," she sighed, picking at the frayed, singed edge of his matchcoat. "They were killed. I was the only one to get away. I don't even know where I am."
"Where are you from?"
She wouldn't speak.
"Who killed them?"
"Men like you."
"Like me? You mean Indian men?"
She nodded, her eyes full of tears.
"Exactly like me?" His tribe was distinctive. All the men were very tall and tattooed from head to foot, their hair decorated with beads, bits of shell and metal. No other tribes bred such tall warriors.
The young woman shrugged, gasping as her flesh pulled uncomfortably against her wounds. "They were not as tall as you, but were dark and angry men. They killed Papa, shot him through the chest. My mother—" She shuddered. "She was not so lucky. My sisters either. My baby brother, they took him away. I don't know how they killed him. He was screaming, then suddenly he stopped."
"How did you escape?"
"I was in the woods with my friend. He made me hide until it was over."
"He was wise to do so."
"He tried to help my mother, but they killed him too. It was awful." She burst into tears, sobbing piteously.
Sailfish wanted to comfort her, but didn't know how. A girl who had seen her family brutalized and murdered by Indians would hardly turn to another for solace. Instead, he gave her some broth he he'd made from jerked meat.
She drank hungrily, asking for more when she was through. "I haven't eaten for so long."
"Then that is all you may have for now. If you eat too much, you will lose it."
Conceding the truth of his statement, the girl fell into an uneasy sleep. Sailfish finished a simple shelter to keep the sun off her and caught fish for their evening meal. She still hadn't woken by the time it was ready.
He ate his meal in silence, waiting for the girl to wake. She woke as he cleaned up. Sailfish served her some food, hoping she would make the next move. Unused to the company of women not of his tribe, he had no idea what to speak to her about. There wasn't that problem with Gabriella. She always had plenty to say. His face clouded.
The bright, green eyes missed little. Touching him fleetingly, she drew his attention. "What makes you sad?" It was strange how she said it, emphasis strong on the pronoun. She knew her own grief, but his sorrow puzzled her.
"Something very hard to explain," he said.
Instead of elaborating, he walked to the river and washed his dishes. He cleaned up around the camp, checked the fire and lay down with his pack for a pillow.
"She must be someone very beautiful," the girl stated quietly, staring at the growing darkness.
"The woman you carry in your heart."
"What makes you think it's that?" Sailfish's tone turned defensive.
"Because the only time I saw that expression on my older brother's face, was when a woman broke his heart."
© 2017 Dellani Oakes
Thursday, January 03, 2019
Cadence Stuart is a college professor, but she also works part time showing condos in the building where she lives. Today, the show and tell was interrupted when shots were fired, and a man collapsed on the beach. Cadence happened to see the shooter leaving the apartment she'd just been showing.
More police arrived and soon Cadence found herself talking to Detective Walter Scott of the Daytona Police Department. They sat in Bob's inner office while Bob, Ted and Susan waited in the outer one.
"That's all you can tell me? No hair color, distinguishing marks?"
Cadence sighed. "I told you already, he was wearing a mask. He was about six one, with a swimmer's build."
"What's that exactly?"
Detective Scott was in good shape, but had a stocky build. Cadence tried to put it in terms he'd understand.
"Okay, some men, like you, are muscular but it's bulky. You look like you can bench press about two fifty, maybe three hundred."
"Go on." Thanks for noticing.
"You probably do martial arts. You move like a man with a purpose who could kill in a hundred different ways without breaking a sweat."
He frowned, leaning across Bob's desk. "You a cop?"
"My dad. My brother, my cousins, my uncle. . . ."
"Got it. Long line of trained observers."
"It rubbed off. I learned to pay attention. A swimmer doesn't have your kind of build. No offense, but you'd be dead in the water. A swimmer is all shoulders and lean muscle. His body is streamlined so he goes fast. This guy looked like he could break a speed record."
"You saw all that as he ran down the hall?"
Cadence blushed, ducking her head. "He was really well built, Detective Scott. Forgive me for noticing."
"No, that's actually helpful. You said he was wearing baggies. Could you see part of his leg? Any distinguishing marks?"
"No, but he was white, though very tanned. There was a line of lighter skin between his shoe and his ankle bone." She closed her eyes, thinking. "No tattoos that I noticed." She shook her head. "Sorry, that's all I saw. Oh, and the hair on his legs was dark."
"Lots of men have dark hair on their legs."
"Yes, I know. But a man that tanned, if he was blond or even had hair the same color you have, medium brown, the sun would probably bleach it light. He was very deeply tanned, Detective Scott. And the hairs were black."
"So, we're looking for a deeply tanned, black haired swimmer about six one, broad shoulders, no distinguishing marks."
She nodded, sighing. "I really wish I'd seen more. I'm sorry."
There was a knock on the door. "Detective Scott?"
It was the first officer on the scene, Perry Davis. "We found the mask. No gloves, but we're still looking. Got a hair off the inside."
"Bag it and tag it."
"Already done." He held up the mask and the hair in separate plastic bags. "Our boy's got black hair. We're hoping to get more evidence off the mask."
"Excellent. Thanks, Davis." Scott smiled at Cadence. "Good call, Miss Stuart." As he was seeing her out, another officer came up.
"You aren't gonna believe this, sir, but we've got a second crime scene."
"You're kidding. Where?"
"Two floors up. Maid went in to clean an empty place. She found a shell casing behind the couch when she pulled it out to vacuum."
"Got a gun?"
"Not yet. No witnesses up there either. That floor's closed for remodeling. This room is done, so she was cleaning it up."
"How many shots did you hear fired?" Scott asked Cadence.
"Two. Almost sounded like a third, but that was an echo."
"You're sure? The others thought it was three."
She shook her head. "I've been around weapons all my life. My family's cops—rednecks to boot. I know the difference between a report and an echo."
"Weird thing in both rooms, sir."
"Oh? What's that?" Scott was almost defiant, his arms crossed in front of him.
"They shooters used the cord from the blind to steady the weapon. The guy down here, probably about six one. The guy upstairs is shorter, maybe five nine. We think he might have taken the weapon out in a golf bag. The maid found marks of cleats in the carpet."
"Please tell me she didn't get them all vacuumed up."
"She did most of them, but there were some behind the couch. The guy took his time, walked outta here like nothing was wrong."
"So, the other guy was a decoy?"
"That's what we're thinking."
Scott seemed to remember Cadence. He blinked, focusing on her face. "I guess I've got another scene to investigate. If you think of anything else, call me." He handed her a card.
As her fingers closed on it, he pulled it away teasingly. "Or just call me. Anytime, day or night."
"Your wife won't mind?"
He showed her his left hand. It didn't sport a wedding band—which meant very little, but was reassuring. "Not married, engaged or dating. You?"
Cadence laughed, tossing her long brown curls. "Do you always hit on witnesses, Detective Scott?"
Evading the question, he gave her the card. "I've got all your information. If I need to talk to you again, I know where to find you."
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
Tuesday, January 01, 2019
Jasper gets a call from his best friend, Teague, asking for help for his friend, Nadaya. She's in a lot of trouble, suspected of murdering a man who is a person of interest in her fiance's murder. Trained in military black ops, she's dangerous and elusive. Teague is looking for her, but by strange twist of fate, Jasper finds Nadeya first. Complications ensue.
As he approached the door, he prayed for inspiration. It was going to take some fast talking for Nadeya not to freak out and kill him. He raised his hand to knock. Rethinking his position, he moved so he wasn't standing directly in front of the door, but slightly to the side so the thick, log wall protected him. He tapped lightly and waited for a response. The curtain over the tiny window moved aside imperceptibly. Only someone trained to be observant would have seen it.
Jasper faced the window and smiled. "I'm Jasper Waters," he said quietly. "I'm a friend of Teague's. You hid on my boat."
The door opened a crack and one dark, wary eye peered at him. "I remember you. What?"
"May I come in? The skeeters are pretty nasty and they're feasting on me."
Nadeya took a step back, leaving barely enough room for Jasper to squeeze through. She shut the door with her foot and slammed him against the wall, one hand pulled up at an uncomfortable angle behind him. She did a thorough frisking of him, leaving no areas untouched, before letting him go. She stepped out of easy reach, eyeing him with a neutral expression.
"I just want to talk," Jasper said, holding his hands slightly from his sides.
"You're a cop. Why should I talk to you?"
"Because I don't think you killed that man on the beach. We're both friends of Teague's, maybe we could build on that."
"Teague has lots of friends. . . ."
"No, Teague knows every damn body, but there are only a few of us he calls friends. You're one of them—He told me what happened to your fiancé."
She tightened up. Jasper took a step back, raising his hands.
"Would he share that with just anyone?"
Nadeya's lower lip trembled slightly and she blinked hard. Jasper caught the hint of a tear in her eyes.
"He wouldn't unless he knew I would help. You think I drop what I'm doing and run everyone out to a crime scene just cause I'm nice? Teague and I trust each other and I'd like to extend that courtesy to you, if you'll let me."
She stared at him several minutes, sizing him up. She gestured to one of the two chairs near the window. "Want some water or instant coffee? It's all I've got."
"Water would be good, thanks." Jasper sat.
Nadeya got two bottles of water out of the mini-fridge and tossed him one. Jasper caught it with a grin. His left hand gripped it as he twisted it open.
"Nicely done. Now you know I'm a lefty."
Nadeya smirked. "And you're not armed. I could have taken your head off."
"Yup, but I trusted you wouldn't. And I thank you for that."
She nodded as she opened her own bottle. "So, you're here, talk."
Jasper told her what he and Teague had figured out about the man on the beach. He even told her about C.L.A.D.
"What do you know about that?" Nadeya leaned closer, whispering.
"Bits and pieces, nothing concrete. What do you know?"
Nadeya looked furtive. "I shouldn't tell you. We could get in a lot of trouble."
Jasper held his hands out, palms up. "Who am I gonna tell? Except maybe Teague. Look, the more we know about this, the better. What do you say?"
She looked away, biting her lip. "I don't know much more than you do. They intended it as a new interrogation technique. It's supposed to be a way to reprogram people's minds."
"Like brain washing?"
"Kind of. More sophisticated, but still a way to break them. I know that someone else got ahold of it though. They were using it on us!" Anger flared in her eyes.
"Us—as in you personally?"
"No. But some of our soldiers. There was a captain I heard of, they tried to kill him off in a raid, but he took out everyone who attacked his convoy. They stole his memories and gave him a fucking medal."
"Shit! How do you know about that?"
"The subject came up as they tortured my fiancé," she mumbled.
"Oh, Nadeya, I'm sorry."
"I know that. Next to Teague, you're the only man I trust."
Jasper exhaled sharply. "That's quite a compliment. Thank you. I know you can't possibly feel safe here. Would you like to come to my house?"
Her eyes grew hard. Jasper pressed his lips together, shaking his head.
"I've got a hell of a security system. Even you would have trouble sneaking through. I've got a couple acres around my place so I can see trouble coming and I'm armed better than Fort Knox. I've got a guest room with your name on it."
Nadeya relaxed. "And leave this luxury accommodation?"
"I've got more to drink than water and instant coffee. I'll even throw in breakfast."
Nadeya's smile was shaky. Taking a deep breath, she tried to smile again. Tears welled before she could stop them. She didn't trust her voice, so she nodded.
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