Thursday, October 29, 2020

Emma, Dangerous by Dellani Oakes – Part 37

 


Vera is excited after buying her new bra and top. She tells Sam about her youth, as a beauty pageant participant.

"I don't mean as a beauty queen, I meant as a musician. You said we'd jam."

"Tonight," she promised. "Let's go get our food. We have hungry mouths to feed."

They put her clothing in the van and walked over to the grocery store. Sam was glad that they were in another town from where he'd grown up. He'd been afraid that they would see someone he knew. The last thing he needed right now was one of his old drug buddies to come up to him in the store. Instead, it was Vera who was approached by a Goth girl in black corset and leggings, a Smurf blue skirt covered with rhinestone skulls and matching blue shoes.

"Oh, my God. You're Vera Blue, aren't you?" The Goth girl could hardly contain her enthusiasm. Her voice rose rather more loudly than Sam liked.

"You have me confused with someone else," Vera replied.

"No, I'd totally know you anywhere. You are Vera Blue. Can I have an autograph? I am such a huge fan. I tried to pattern myself after you."

Sam took in details of the girl. She was average height, slender and wore exaggerated makeup, her eyes done with a lot of eyeliner and blue shadow. Her skin was unnaturally pale, her lips a dark, bloody red. She looked like she was high. He should know, he'd seen the look a million times in the mirror.

"If I am, and I'm not saying I am," Vera replied quietly. "I want you to do something for me. I want you to give up whatever shit you're on. Wash that crap off your face, eat a good meal and graduate. Because you don't wanna be me in five years, partying so hard, you wrap your car around a tree and end up bleeding in the emergency room." She held up her hair, showing part of the scalp where the hair wouldn't grow. "Because that's how you get one of these. Windshields aren't supposed to shatter, but mine did. I almost died. So please, for your sake, don't be like me." With tears in her eyes, she pushed past the girl and grabbed a shopping car.

The teenager watched her walk off. "Is that really Vera?" she whispered, her voice shy and small.

"Yeah. Do like she said," Sammy replied. "She's trying hard to put her life back together. Do her a solid, don't let yours fall apart." He walked away.

"Hey," the girl's voice called him back. "Are you like her boyfriend or something?"

Sammy smiled. "No. Just a friend." He gave a half salute and walked off after Vera.

The girl followed him with her eyes, then accessed her phone. She'd snapped a few pictures of the pair as they walked into the grocery store. Setting up a group message, she sent it to all her friends. "Vera Blue spotted in the Shop Right!" Satisfied, she put her phone in her pocket and waited for their arrival.

Sam and Vera made the rounds of the store, following the list to the letter. Molly was picky about impulse buying. If it wasn't on the list, they weren't to get it.

When they got to the frozen food aisle, Vera stopped. The length of the aisle seemed to mock her, elongating and contracting before her. From this end, they had to walk past the beer cooler. Her palms sweated and she licked her lips.

Sam could sense her disquiet. The encounter with the girl had really shaken her. Saying nothing, he put his arms on either side of hers, pushing the cart forward as he walked behind her.

"You can do this, Vera. You're strong. You've beaten this. It has no power over you."

Shivering, she eyed the beer, biting her lower lip the entire length of the display. Sam gently pointed her face straight ahead, talking quietly with his cheek by her ear, blocking her view. Vera continued to shiver, but he felt her stand more erect as they passed the last corner of the display. In front of the frozen pizza, they stopped. Vera cast one last, longing look at the beer, but turned immediately to the freezer case.

"We—uh—need some Tontino's."

"Okay, what kind and how many?" Sam walked to the freezer.

"Two dozen cheese."

"Doesn't anyone like the others?"

"Molly has this thing she does. We get the frozen Tontino's cause they're way cheap, then we do build your own pizza night. We have every kind of topping imaginable and we each get to customize a couple pizzas. Cheaper than ordering out and way better."

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Emma, Dangerous by Dellani Oakes – Part 36

 


After his therapy session, Vera tells Sam they're going to the grocery store, and she's driving.

"Uh—not to be mean, Sis, but I don't trust your driving. You said yourself, in group, twenty-seven moving violations."

"You win. He told you to drive." She smirked and tossed him the keys. "There's an outlet store next door. Wanna go try on lingerie before we shop?"

Sam stopped walking, his face stoic, his manner calm. Holding his arms outstretched, he turned in a slow circle. "Is there anything about me that screams I wanna try on corsets?"

Vera eyed him critically, admiring the view as he turned around. "You take all the fun out of shopping, Sam. Mind if I do?"

"Two outfits. I haven't got the patience for more."

"Five."

"Three and that's my final offer."

"That's what I wanted in the first place. Don't you just love negotiations?" Swinging her hips, she led the way to the desk.

Sam and Vera checked out and drove into town. He was surprised at how trusting the facility was. They could easily have driven far away in the Ravenwood vehicle, taking the grocery money with them. But they weren't prisoners and, as such, were treated with independence and respect. It made Sam feel good knowing that they were trusted. Then again, they were very low risk, being there voluntarily. The guests in the lock down section of Ravenwood, were not.

When they arrived at the shopping center, he hopped out of the van and opened the door for Vera. She was so stunned, she nearly fell out in his arms. Supporting her, he laughed.

"Not used to gentlemanly treatment," she replied, slightly offended. "I'm used to doing for myself."

"Just a word of caution then, I also open doors to buildings, hold chairs when you sit, and play guard dog if someone hassles you."

"If all men were as adorable as you, I'd never go for chicks," she stated as they walked into the outlet store.

True to her word, Vera chose only three outfits and tried them on quickly. None of them were lingerie, Sam noted, although she did try on a new bra. After paying for it, she went back to the dressing room to put it on, wearing it with her new top. The bra pushed up her chest and the new top showed it off.

Dancing around in the parking lot, she nearly got hit by a car because she wasn't paying attention. Instead, she was watching the movement of her chest. Sam grabbed her by the waist, whisking her out of the way. The driver went by, shaking his head as he raised a single finger salute.

"Did that asshole just flip us off?" Vera asked. She wasn't angry, simply curious.

"Yeah. You nearly walked in front of him, Vera."

"Really?" She laughed. "Didn't notice. I was watching the girls dance." She did a shimmy, shaking her chest nearly under his nose.

Sam laughed, holding his hands in front of his eyes—peeking. "Put 'em away! Emma would kill me for even looking. Not that they aren't nice to look at...."

Vera took pity on him and put her flannel shirt back on, covering herself.

"Why are you so excited about your boobs? All girls have 'em."

"Because, until I got to Ravenwood, I didn't have any. Look." She pulled out her driver's license. Her hair was cut short and ratty with bright blue streaks. Her eyes were deep set, her cheeks hollow. "Too many drugs. And I was anorexic. I have a psycho mom," she explained. "She always wanted me to be slender and ladylike. I wanted to be muscular and play baseball. She couldn't understand. No man will ever think you're pretty, Vera Lynn!" Her voice took on a distinctly Southern accent. "I was in beauty pageants when I was little. That's why I play so many instruments. A pageant participant needs to be multi-talented."

"So, you any good?"

Vera glared at him. "I'm very good. I won a lot of contests."

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Emma, Dangerous by Dellani Oakes – Part 35

 


After replacing the toilet, and making the planter, Molly collapses. Shelby calls from the hospital to tell them that she's in labor.

The rest of the day was spent in quiet contemplation. No one felt very cheerful, but they did their chores just as if Molly were standing over them. Robbie guided them through dinner preparations. Dr. Stewart came in to talk to them as a group just before dinner. No one felt much like talking, but she had some comforting things to say and that helped. Raleigh's phone call came in the middle of dinner.

"It's a boy!" He sounded happy but tired. "I didn't get a chance to call until now. He was born about two hours ago. Chip is doing well, though. He's not very big, only about five pounds, but he's got a hell of a pair of lungs."

"That's so great!" Vera had him on speaker phone and they chatted while they ate.

"Where did the name Chip come from?" Carlos wanted to know.

"We're naming him Charles after my grandfather," Raleigh said. "But the little bugger looks so much like me, I said he's like a chip off the old block. It stuck, I'm afraid."

"You have a wonderful night," Vera said. "We'll be fine here. Give our love to Molly, and kiss that baby for us, okay?"

"Will do. Y'all behave."

"We will," Sam agreed, laughing. "Sorry, guys. The rock concert is canceled. We can't set fire to the guitars and burn down the studio."

"Good night, you goofs. Tim and Shelby will be home soon with pictures. See you tomorrow."

The following morning, Vera was once again in charge of the kitchen. Carlos was helping her, wearing an apron and chef's hat he'd found in the cupboard. Each of them chose a job they could handle, and fixed breakfast.

"Any word from Raleigh and Molly?" Sam asked.

"Yes. Molly and the baby will be spending another night. The baby inhaled a little fluid. They should be home by tomorrow," Tim replied. "Raleigh will be home tonight. The bed he slept on was hard on his back. He's walking like an old man."

After the breakfast cleanup, the girls dragged Emma off for a makeover while Sam went to his therapy session with Dr. Stewart. He couldn't help feeling a little paranoid. They looked at him rather pointedly as they dragged her off.

Dr. Stewart greeted him with a smile. "Good morning, Sam. You look a bit distressed. What's going on?"

"Ever have that sinking suspicion that you're going to be the topic of conversation? Really specific conversation?"

"Once in a while, I suppose. Who do you think is talking about you?"

"The girls."

"Why would they be talking about you?"

"That's what I don't know. It's making me kinda antsy."

"I'm sure it's nothing to worry about." She opened his folder. "Where did we leave off yesterday?"

Sam frowned. "Do you know something I don't?"

"Not at all. Oh, I heard that Molly and Chip are doing well."

"I heard at breakfast." His frown deepened. "What aren't you telling me, Doc?"

She sighed, closing his folder. "Nothing. At least nothing serious. I assure you there is no reason to feel paranoid."

His eyes narrowed and he smiled. "Doc, is that a blush?"

Dr. Stewart laughed. "You are far too perceptive. My advice is to drop it and not worry. Please?" Her eyes held a plea, but hid something else.

Sam decided not to pursue the issue. Surely, Emma would tell him all about it later. She had never been very good at keeping secrets.

After his session, Vera approached him. "We've been given the task of doing the grocery shopping," she said. "Since Raleigh and Molly aren't here, he told me to take care of it. Since I can't be trusted in the grocery store alone, you're going with."

"Is Raleigh cool with that?"

"Of course. It was his idea. He said if there's one person he trusts in the grocery store, it's you." She held up her hands when he protested. "Just telling you what the man said. So, I'm driving."

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Emma, Dangerous by Dellani Oakes – Part 34

 


Sam and Raleigh get the toilet unbolted, and pull it out. Tim and Glenn have been sent to the store for a new one.

"Hot times at the Home Depot, huh?"

"Molly took them, so I doubt that. She's an in and out shopper."

"Yeah, me too. Em could linger over salt and pepper shakers, which is cuter?" He let his voice rise in a girlish way, giggling. "God, just shoot me. I totally couldn't care less about most stuff. If it's comfortable, I'll wear it. If it works, I'll buy it."

"Molly is the same way with some things. Others, she can linger all day. Shopping for the baby has been pure misery. I finally made her promise me to go shopping with her mother, and leave me completely out of it. I could give a shit which pair of booties is more precious?" He did the same thing with his voice that Sam had, adding a brogue.

Both men were laughing heartily when Molly, Tim and Glenn walked in with the toilet in tow. Between them, the men got the new toilet in position and the old one hauled outside. Molly stopped them before they took it to the street.

"I'll be wanting that," she told them.

Glenn and Tim gave her a dubious look.

"Put it in the backyard by the studio. I've plans for it."

"The tank's broken, sis," Tim told her.

"Yes, but I can still put it to use as I have in mind. Glenn, once that's back there, fetch the potting soil from the trunk. Tim, you'll get those plants for me and bring it all back to the studio as well."

Neither of them contradicted her. That was a fast way to get extra jobs and neither of them wanted the work. Getting the supplies for her, they helped her pour potting soil in the tank and bowl of the toilet. Then, Molly pulled the plants out of the pots, planting them in the toilet. She had chosen a spider plant for the bowl and a bougainvillea in bright magenta for the tank. Admiring her work, they stood by, grinning.

"There now," Molly beamed. "That's done. Clean up that mess, would you please? I've got to have a lie down before lunch."

"Sure, Molly," Glenn replied. "I'll get it. Tim, you'd better get her inside."

Glenn and Tim didn't like how Molly looked. Suddenly pale, she was sweating heavily despite the cool day. Molly got halfway to the house when she collapsed. Tim caught her, setting her gently on the ground while Glenn called Raleigh. An ambulance arrived minutes later. The EMT's lifted Molly carefully into the back. She looked terrible. Raleigh wanted to ride with her, but there wasn't room.

"I'll take you," Tim volunteered. "You're not in any condition to drive."

"No, I will." Glenn stated calmly. "You're not in much better shape, Tim. We all love Molly, but we aren't her family. Vera, will you take over lunch prep?"

"Sure. Shelby, you want to go too, honey?"

"Yeah, V. I need to be there. Mol's like my sister."

"I know, sweetie. You go on. We'll be fine. Call us."

Shelby promised to call when she found out anything. Together, she and the men followed the ambulance.

Lunch was very subdued. No one felt much like talking. They knew that it was early for the baby to be born, but Shelby's call later that day confirmed that Molly was indeed in labor.

"They're doing a C section in a little while. Molly doesn't want it, but the baby is in distress. It's pretty close to time, so they think they'd better do it now before either of them goes into crisis. Raleigh's staying the night, but the guys and I will be back for supper. Molly wants to know if you can handle meal prep?"

"We've got it under control. We'll make spaghetti and salad," Vera told her. "It's not the menu for tonight, but we've got the ingredients, and it's something we can handle."

"I'll see you in about an hour," Shelby told her.

"Give our love to Molly," Vera said, swallowing with difficulty. "Tell her we're praying for her."

"Will do. Thanks, V."

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Monday, October 19, 2020

It Takes a Thief by Dellani Oakes

  



Jason Banes is a thief, he readily admits that, but he's quick to deny that he's also a murderer. Accused of multiple homicides, and theft, he agrees to help a multi-national task force find the real killer. When he's assigned to an FBI team for protection, he meets Agent Taylor Driscole. It's a race to find Orchid before she kills again. Though she's reluctant to use Jason's skills, Agent Driscole realizes that sometimes, It Takes a Thief to catch a murderer.



Excerpt from It Takes a Thief

"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."

© 2016 Dellani Oakes





Thursday, October 15, 2020

Emma, Dangerous by Dellani Oakes – Part 33

 


During their session, Emma admits that the second baby was probably Sam's. She had the abortion to keep him from killing her father—so she wouldn't lose him.

"Well, napalm describes my marriage really well. If we weren't arguing, we weren't speaking to one another. We were both in college, and he couldn't understand my vocation. I had a calling to help people. He was in business. He finally came around to the idea of accepting my plans, but he wanted to franchise me, make me a self-help guru like Dr. Phil."

"Didn't get it at all, did he?"

"No. He didn't get me either. You're so lucky to have a man like Sam."

"Is he really that unique?"

"You've no idea how much, Emma. I'll say this for the guys who are here, most of them are like Sam in one way. They care too much, and it gets them into trouble. I know you don't like the idea of family, but these people here truly are a family unit in the greatest sense of the word."

"As long as none of them are my parents, I'm cool with that." Emma's face held acceptance, and Dr. Stewart knew they had made a very significant step.

Sam found Raleigh struggling with a toilet in one of the downstairs bathrooms. It was making him crazy in the extreme and he was using all the words his wife objected to, multiple times, in increasingly creative combinations. Sam stood in the doorway a moment, leaning against the jamb with his hands in his pockets, watching him curse and sweat.

"You're gonna owe Molly about four thousand dollars, if you keep that up."

The wrench slipped, slamming into Raleigh's fingers. He let loose with a few more choice words, throwing the wrench across the room as he held his hand cradled in the other.

"Help me up, smart ass." He reached for Sam with his good had. Groaning, he stood. "God, I feel old today! Molly kept me up most of the night. She's got a hell of a sex drive right now.... Sorry, dude. I forget once in a while."

"No biggie. I been without longer. Got any WD 40?"

"Look in the tool box." Raleigh went to the sink, washing the blood and rust off his damaged handed. "F**k, this hurts like a f**king mother f**ker."

Sam's laugh bubbled forth, filling the tile room with his mirth. Raleigh joined him, wincing as the soap and cold water hit the slice in his fingers. Sam sprayed the bolts with the oil and waited a few minutes for it to take effect. He retrieved the wrench with a contented sigh.

"You kids are doing really well. I expected more withdrawal."

"Emma and I never did the hard drugs, and we only really drank on weekends. It was a pattern, though, and needed breaking. She had to get out of that life, or she was gonna get to a place too low to crawl out of. I had to get free too, or I was gonna end up killing her father." His tone was very matter-of-fact.

He sat down, bending his tall body almost double to get at the bolts holding the toilet to the floor. With a few practiced movements of the wrench, he had the first nut loosened. He went after the second one, the one that wounded Raleigh, with renewed vigor.

"You know you can actually say that without balling up your fists?" Raleigh smiled at Sam.

Sam glanced up from his awkward position to see Raleigh's grin. He smiled back.

"I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're right." With a grunt, he got the other nut loose.

Raleigh stared with awe and a little jealousy. "How the hell did you do that? I've been trying for almost an hour!"

"You loosened 'em up for me."

"Like hell I did! They wouldn't budge!"

"Did you oil them?"

"First thing. I sprayed them down good, and let them sit. Dammit! Don't get me wrong, it's great, but dammit!"

"Now that it's loose, what are we doing with it?"

"Yanking the f**ker out. We have a new one coming. Tim and Glenn went after it."

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Emma, Dangerous by Dellani Oakes – Part 32

 


Their couple session over, Sam gives Emma a kiss before going to join Raleigh.

He rested his forehead against hers, rubbing her upper arms gently. "See you later, kiddo. I'd better go find Raleigh before he thinks of a million other things for me to do." He gave her another quick kiss and left without a backward glance.

Emma watched him leave, a sad smile on her face. "He's upset about something, isn't he?"

Dr. Stewart said nothing, waiting.

"I can always tell. He only kisses me like that when he's worried."

"Maybe he's worried about working with Raleigh?"

"No. Don't be silly. You know, but you can't tell me."

Again, the doctor remained enigmatic.

"It was a year ago today. He's still feeling guilty about the baby, isn't he?"

"Why don't you tell me about it?"

"He thinks it was his baby, the second one."

"Do you?"

Emma nodded, tears dropping on her folded hands. "It really couldn't have been anyone else. I'm regular as clockwork, and it had been nearly three weeks since my period. My folks were out of town over a month, Sam kept me away from the parties. It was just us—and we weren't careful. I'm on the pill ...."

"But that's not infallible."

"Exactly. And when we were drinking and high like that, I probably missed some. I wanted that baby, Dr. Stevens. I know at first I totally freaked, but that was because I was afraid to tell my parents. I knew my dad would go totally postal, and I was afraid of what Sam would do to him when he did."

"You didn't think your father could hurt Sam?"

"That sorry pussy hurt Sam? You've never seen him fight. He kicks serious ass, Dr. Stewart. He's been in martial arts for years, through a program for troubled kids—the Police Athletic League sponsored it. He could have killed my dad, and then I'd lose him. So it was better not to have the baby, don't you think?"

"Have you ever shared any of this with Sam?"

"You think I should?"

"I think you need to clear the air between you.

"Maybe.... I'd feel better talking about it with you, first."

"As you wish, Emma. You do need to talk to each other about it."

Emma nodded, sniffling. She drew her feet into her chair again, closing off as she often did when thinking about something particularly painful.

"I've put him through so much hell. How can he stay with me? I'm so afraid one day that he's going to realize what a waste of life I am, and leave me."

"You're not a waste of life, Emma. We've talked about this before."

"I know! I know. But sometimes, in my dark moments, at night, I feel so useless. What have I done to deserve Sam? He's so wonderful, and all I ever do is drag him down with me."

"You love him," Dr. Stewart told her gently. "For a man like Sam, that's enough."

"Do you think we're too young to get married?"

"I think only the two of you really know the answer to that."

"He's asked me to marry him. I told him we were too young, but now I wonder. Are you married, Doc?"

"Twice. The first one ended—badly."

"What happened? That's if you don't mind me asking?"

"We were like gasoline and Styrofoam together. You know what that makes, right?"

"Napalm." Emma giggled. "My friends and I made some once, and took it to the beach late at night. We had to outrun the cops that time."

"Why didn't Sam stop you?"

"He was in juvie for jumping some guys who were picking on me at school. They'd been all over me at a party, and were bragging about it in school. Sam put two of them in the hospital. He was only fifteen."

©2020 Dellani Oakes

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Emma, Dangerous by Dellani Oakes – Part 37

  Vera is excited after buying her new bra and top. She tells Sam about her youth, as a beauty pageant participant. "I don't mean...